“My lady wouldn’t let Miss Decima come out in it,” thought Wigham to himself, as he drove on.
The words of my lady, “as tall as a giantess,” unconsciously influenced the imagination of Lionel Verner. The train was steaming into the station at one end as his carriage stopped at the other. Lionel leaped from it, and mingled with the bustle of the platform.
Not very much bustle, either; and it would have been less, but that Deerham Station was the nearest approach, as yet, by rail, to Heartburg, a town of some note about four miles distant. Not a single tall lady got out of the train. Not a lady at all that Lionel could see. There were two fat women, tearing about after their luggage, both habited in men’s drab greatcoats, or what looked like them; and there was one very young lady, who stood back in apparent perplexity, gazing at the scene of confusion around her.
“She cannot be Miss Tempest,” deliberated Lionel. “If she is, my mother must have mistaken her age; she looks but a child. No harm in asking her, at any rate.”
He went up to the young lady. A very pleasant-looking girl, fair, with a peach bloom upon her cheeks, dark brown hair and eyes, soft and brown and luminous. Those eyes were wandering to all parts of the platform, some anxiety in their expression.
Lionel raised his hat.
“I beg your pardon. Have I the honour of addressing Miss Tempest?”
“Oh, yes, that is my name,” she answered, looking up at him, the peach bloom deepening to a glow of satisfaction, and the soft eyes lighting with a glad smile. “Have you come to meet me?”
“I have. I come from my mother, Lady Verner.”
“I am so glad,” she rejoined, with a frank sincerity of manner perfectly refreshing in these modern days of artificial young ladyism. “I was beginning to think nobody had come; and then what could I have done?”
“My sister would have come with me to receive you, but for an accident which occurred to her just before it was time to start. Have you any luggage?”
“There’s the great box I brought from India, and a hair-trunk, and my school-box. It is all in the van.”
“Allow me to take you out of this crowd, and it shall be seen to,” said Lionel, bending to offer his arm.
She took it, and turned with him; but stopped ere more than a step or two had been taken.
“We are going wrong. The luggage is up that way.”
“I am taking you to the carriage. The luggage will be all right.”
He was placing her in it, when she suddenly drew back and surveyed it.
“What a pretty carriage!” she exclaimed.
Many said the same of the Verner’s Pride equipages. The colour of the panels was of that rich shade of blue called ultra-marine, with white linings and hammer-cloths, while a good deal of silver shone on the harness of the horses. The servants’ livery was white and silver, their small-clothes blue.