“Now,” said Lionel, “should you have done well to accept my offer of Verner’s Pride as a shelter, or not?”
“It may only be a passing storm,” observed Lucy. “The rain then was nothing.”
Lionel took her parasol and shook the wet off it. He began to wonder how Lucy would get home. No carriage could be got to that spot, and the rain, coming down now, was not, in his opinion, a passing storm.
“Will you promise to remain here, Lucy, while I get an umbrella?” he presently asked.
“Why! where could you get an umbrella from?”
“From Hook’s, if they possess such a thing. If not, I can get one from Broom’s.”
“But you would get so wet, going for it!”
Lionel laughed as he went off.
“I don’t wear a silk dress; to be scolded for it, if it gets spoiled.”
Not ten steps had he taken, however, when who should come striding through an opening in the trees, but Jan. Jan was on his way from Hook’s cottage, a huge brown cotton umbrella over his head, more useful than elegant.
“What, is that you, Miss Lucy! Well, I should as soon have thought of seeing Mrs. Peckaby’s white donkey!”
“I am weather-bound, Jan,” said Lucy. “Mr. Verner was about to get me an umbrella.”
“To see if I could get one,” corrected Lionel. “I question if the Hooks possess such a commodity.”
“Not they,” cried Jan. “The girl’s rather better,” added he unceremoniously. “She may get through it now; at least there’s a shade of a chance. You can have my umbrella, Miss Lucy.”
“Won’t you let me go with you, Jan?” she asked.
“Oh, I can’t stop to take you to Deerham Court,” was Jan’s answer, given with his accustomed plainness. “Here, Lionel!”
He handed over the umbrella, and was walking off.
“Jan, Jan, you will get wet,” said Lucy.
It amused Jan. “A wetting more or less is nothing to me,” he called out, striding on.
“Will you stay under shelter a few minutes yet, and see whether it abates?” asked Lionel.
Lucy looked up at the skies, stretching her head beyond the trees to do so.
“Do you think it will abate?” she rejoined.
“Honestly to confess it, I think it will get worse,” said Lionel. “Lucy, you have thin shoes on! I did not see that until now.”
“Don’t you tell Lady Verner,” replied Lucy, with the pretty dependent manner which she had brought from school with her, and which she probably would never lose. “She would scold me for walking out in them.”
Lionel smiled, and held the great umbrella—large enough for a carriage—close to the trees, that it might shelter her as she came forth.
“Take my arm, Lucy.”
She hesitated for a single moment—a hesitation so temporary that any other than Lionel could not have observed it, and then took his arm. And again they walked on in silence. In passing down Clay Lane—the way Lionel took—Mrs. Peckaby was standing at her door.