Horace, on reaching London, had taken a house on Berkly Square. Old Mr. and Mrs. Barton having died some two years previous, as already stated, and the Willows in Devonshire had been let. He found his sister, Mrs. Ashburnham, still living on Cavendish Square, and Emily residing with her aunt in Harley street. Tom and his bride were still travelling on the Continent. Mr. and Mrs. Barton therefore determined to remain in town until the lease, for which the country seat had been let, should expire, which would take place about the month of August in the following year; and thus it was that the people of Vellenaux knew nothing of their return to England. Fond of gaiety and fashionable life, Mrs. Barton determined to make up for time lost during their sojourn in the Goozeratte, by being very gay, attending balls, parties and operas, and not unfrequently giving stylish entertainments at her house at Berkly Square, in all of which Edith participated, as her kind friend would go no where and do nothing without her, and thus she passed her first season in London. In the spring of the year she received the welcome intelligence that Arthur had been promoted to a troop, and that if he could manage to obtain leave of absence, he would be in England early in summer to claim his bride.
“Well, my dear,” said Mrs. Barton, a few days subsequent to the receipt of the letter, “Horace, dear old fellow, has arranged everything nicely for you. He has still some interest with the authorities. He has been to the India office. Arthur is to have eighteen months leave of absence, and before the expiration of that time his regiment will be ordered home; so you see, my dear, we shall be able to see a great deal of each other. After you are married you will, of course, remain with us until it is time for Arthur to rejoin his regiment.” Edith felt very grateful to her kind friends for all they had done to further her happiness, and looked forward to the time when she should meet her affianced husband with intense satisfaction and delight. She would not now be called upon to return to India, to which country she had a strong aversion; and well she might, for her residence there, with the exception of her episodes of pleasure derived from the society of Arthur, had indeed been very trying.
It was summer, bright, glorious, balmy summer. The birds sang and chirped among the green leaves, and wood pigeons cooed in the hollow trunks of the trees, beneath whose outspreading branches, little four-footed creatures gamboled and made merry among the soft feathery grasses that grew in the fine old beech woods of Devon. It was pleasant to listen to the cool, gurgling sound of the brawling brook, whose bright waters skipped, danced and glittered, as they forced their way over the pebbles and other impediments in their serpentine course along the shady dell that skirted the Home Park, wherein, under the venerable oaks, the red and fallow deer rested, dreamily sniffing the delicious fragrance that pervaded the air, borne upon the light summer wind from the rich parterre which stretched the entire length of the south wing at Vellenaux.