Lionel handed her in.
“Have we far to go?” she asked.
“Not five minutes’ drive.”
He closed the door, gave the footman directions about the luggage, took his own seat by the coachman, and the carriage started. Lady Verner came to the door of the Court to receive Miss Tempest.
In the old Indian days of Lady Verner, she and Sir Lionel had been close and intimate friends of Colonel and Mrs. Tempest. Subsequently Mrs. Tempest had died, and their only daughter had been sent to a clergyman’s family in England for her education—a very superior place, where six pupils only were taken. But she was of an age to leave it now, and Colonel Tempest, who contemplated soon being home, had craved of Lady Verner to receive her in the interim.
“Lionel,” said his mother to him, “you must stop here for the rest of the day, and help to entertain her.”
“Why, what can I do towards it?” responded Lionel.
“You can do something. You can talk. They have got Decima into her room, and I must be up and down with her. I don’t like leaving Lucy alone the first day she is in the house; she will take a prejudice against it. One blessed thing, she seams quite simple—not exacting.”
“Anything but exacting, I should say,” replied Lionel. “I will stay for an hour or two, if you like, mother, but I must be home to dinner.”
Lady Verner need not have troubled herself about “entertaining” Lucy Tempest. She was accustomed to entertain herself; and as to any ceremony or homage being paid to her, she would not have understood it, and might have felt embarrassed had it been tendered. She had not been used to anything of the sort. Could Lady Verner have seen her then, at the very moment she was talking to Lionel, her fears might have been relieved. Lucy Tempest had found her way to Decima’s room, and had taken up her position in a very undignified fashion at that young lady’s feet, her soft, candid brown eyes fixed upwards on Decima’s face, and her tongue busy with reminiscences of India. After some time spent in this manner, she was scared away by the entrance of a gentleman whom Decima called “Jan.” Upon which she proceeded to the chamber she had been shown to as hers, to dress; a process which did not appear to be very elaborate by the time it took, and then she went downstairs to find Lady Verner.
Lady Verner had not quitted Lionel. She had been grumbling and complaining all that time. It was half the pastime of Lady Verner’s life to grumble in the ears of Lionel and Decima. Bitterly mortified had Lady Verner been when she found, upon her arrival from India, that Stephen Verner, her late husband’s younger brother, had succeeded to Verner’s Pride, to the exclusion of herself and of Lionel; and bitterly mortified she remained. Whether it had been by some strange oversight on the part of old Mr. Verner, or whether it had been intentional, no provision whatever