“Lionel! I can’t find my gold combs!” exclaimed Sibylla, coming from the dressing-room, with a face of consternation. “They are not in the dressing-case. How am I to know which box Benoite has put them in?”
“Never mind looking for the combs now,” he answered. “You will have time to search for things to-morrow. Your hair looks nice without combs. I think nicer than with them.”
“But I wanted to wear them,” she fractiously answered. “It is all your fault! You should not have forced me to discharge Benoite.”
Did she wish him to look for the gold combs? Lionel did not take the hint. Leaving her in the hands of Catherine, he quitted the room.
Lucy was in the drawing-room alone when Lionel entered it. “Lady Verner,” she said to him, “has stepped out to speak to Jan.”
“Lucy, I find that our coming here has turned you out of your room,” he gravely said. “I should earnestly have protested against it, had I known what was going to be done.”
“Should you?” said she, shaking her head quite saucily. “We should not have listened to you.”
“We! Whom does the ‘we’ include?”
“Myself and Decima. We planned everything. I like the room I have now, quite as much as that. It is the room at the end, opposite the one Mrs. Verner is to have for her sitting-room.”
“The sitting-room again! What shall you and Decima do without it?” exclaimed Lionel, looking as he felt—vexed.
“If we never have anything worse to put up with than the loss of a sitting-room that was nearly superfluous, we shall not grieve,” answered Lucy, with a smile. “How did we do without it before—when you were getting better from that long illness? We had to do without it then.”
“I think not, Lucy. So far as my memory serves me, you were sitting in it a great portion of your time—cheering me. I have not forgotten it, if you have.”
Neither had she—by her heightened colour.
“I mean that we had to do without it for our own purposes, our drawings and our work. It is but a little matter, after all. I wish we could do more for you and Mrs. Verner. I wish,” she added, her voice betraying her emotion, “that we could have prevented your being turned from Verner’s Pride.”
“Ay,” he said, speaking with affected carelessness, and turning about an ornament in his fingers, which he had taken from the mantel-piece, “it is not an every-day calamity.”
“What shall you do?” asked Lucy, going a little nearer to him, and dropping her voice to a tone of confidence.
“Do? In what way, Lucy?”
“Shall you be content to live on here with Lady Verner? Not seeking to retrieve your—your position in any way?”
“My living on here, Lucy, will be out of the question. That would never do, for more reasons than one.”