“Short dinner!” echoed Miss Deb, in amazement; at least, it would have been in amazement, but that she was accustomed to these little episodes from the young gentleman. “We had a beautiful piece of roast beef; and I’m sure you ate as much as you chose!”
“There was no pudding or pie,” resentfully retorted Master Cheese. “I have felt all the afternoon just as if I should sink; and I couldn’t get out to buy anything for myself, because Jan never came in, and the boy stopped out. I wish, Miss Deb, you’d give me a thick piece of bread-and-jam, as I have to go off without my tea.”
“The fact is, Master Cheese, you have the jam so often, in one way or another, that there’s very little left. It will not last the season out.”
“The green gooseberries’ll be coming on, Miss Deb,” was Master Cheese’s insinuating reply. “And there’s always apples, you know. With plenty of lemon and a clove or two, apples make as good a pudding as anything else.”
Miss Deb, always good-natured, went to get him what he had asked for, and Master Cheese took his seat in front of the fire, and toasted his toes.
“There was a great mistake made when you were put to a surgeon,” said Miss Amilly, laughing. “You should have gone apprentice to a pastry-cook.”
“She’s a regular fidgety old woman, that Miss Hautley,” broke out Master Cheese with temper, passing over Miss Amilly’s remark. “It’s not two months yet that she has been at the Hall, and she has had one or the other of us up six times at least. I wonder what business she had to come to it? The Hall wouldn’t have run away before Sir Edmund could get home.”
Miss Deb came back with the bread-and-jam; a good thick slice, as the gentleman had requested. To look at him eating, one would think he had had nothing for a week. It disappeared in no time, and Master Cheese went out sucking his fingers and his lips. Deborah West folded up the work, and put things straight generally in the room. Then she sat down again, drawing her chair to the side of the fire.
“I do think that Cheese has got a wolf inside him,” cried Amilly, with a laugh.
“He is a great gourmand. He said this morning——” began Miss Deb, and then she stopped.
Finding what she was about to say thus brought to an abrupt conclusion, Amilly West looked at her sister. Miss Deb’s attention was riveted on the room door. Her mouth was open, her eyes seemed starting from her head with a fixed stare, and her countenance was growing white. Amilly turned her eyes hastily to the same direction, and saw a dark, obscure form filling up the doorway.
Not obscure for long. Amilly, more impulsive than her sister, rose up with a shriek, and darted forward with outstretched arms of welcome; Deborah followed, stretching out hers.
“My dear father!”