‘Indeed!’ And here Max looked a little perplexed. ’I thought you told me, Miss Darrell, that your cousin found our service too long and wearisome, and this was the reason she stayed away.’
‘Oh no; you must have misunderstood me,’ returned Miss Darrell, flushing a little. ’Gladys may have said she liked a shorter sermon in the evening, but that was hardly her reason for staying away; at least—’
‘Of course not. What nonsense you talk, Etta!’ observed Mr. Hamilton impatiently. ’You know what a trouble I had to coax Gladys to stay at home; she was rather obstinate about it,—as girls are,—but I asked her as a special favour to myself to remain.’
Max’s face cleared up surprisingly, and as Miss Hamilton at that moment re-entered the room, he accosted her almost eagerly.
’Miss Hamilton, we have been talking about you in your absence; your brother and I have been agreeing that it is really a great pity that you should have given up all your parish duties; it is a little hard on us all, is it not, Tudor? Your brother declares occupation will do you good. Now, I am sure your cousin will not have the slightest objection to give up your old class, and she can take Miss Matthews’s, and then I shall have two good workers instead of one.’
For an instant Miss Hamilton hesitated; her face relaxed, and she looked at Max a little wistfully; but Miss Darrell interposed in her sprightly way:
’Do as you like, Gladys dear. Mr. Cunliffe will be too glad of your help, I am sure, as he sees how much you wish it. We all think you are fretting after your old scholars; home duties are not exciting enough, and even Giles notices how dull you are. Oh, you shall have my class with pleasure; anything to see you happy, love. Shall we make the exchange to-morrow?’
‘No, thank you, Etta; I think things had better be as they are.’ And Miss Hamilton walked away proudly, and spoke to Mr. Tudor; the sudden brightness in her face had dimmed, and I was near enough to see that her hand trembled.
‘There, you see,’ observed Miss Darrell complacently. ’I have done my best to persuade her in public and private to amuse herself and not give way to her feelings of lassitude. “Do a little, but not much,” I have often said to her; but with Gladys it must be all or none.’
‘Ursula, do you know how late it is?’ asked Max, coming up to me. He looked suddenly very tired, and I saw at once that he wished me to go: so I made my adieux as quickly as possible, and in a few minutes we had left the house, accompanied by Mr. Tudor.
Uncle Max was very quiet all the way home. I had expected him to be full of questions as to how I had enjoyed my evening, but his only remark was to ask if I were very tired, and then he left me to Mr. Tudor.
‘Well, how do you like the folks up at Gladwyn?’ demanded Mr. Tudor. ’Lady Betty was not in the best of humours to-night, and hardly deigned to speak to me; but I am sure you must have admired Miss Hamilton.’