’Mamma has talked a lot of rubbish about my keeping up my studies and practising two hours a day, and she means to disinfect my books and send them down, but I have made up my mind that I will not open one. I am going to enjoy myself, and nurse sick people, and do real work, instead of grinding away at that stupid German.’ And Jill set her little white teeth, and looked determined, so I thought it best not to contradict her.
‘I am so glad Uncle Max thought of Miss Gillespie, dear.’
’Who is she? I hate her already. I expect she is only an Anglicised Fraeulein,’ observed Jill, with a vixenish look.
’You are quite wrong. Miss Gillespie is Scotch, and she is very nice and good, and pretty too, for I have often heard Uncle Max talk of her. Her father was Max’s great friend, and at his death the daughters were obliged to go out in the world. Miss Gillespie is the eldest. No, she is not very young,—nearly forty, I believe,—but she is so nice-looking; she was engaged to a clergyman, but he died, and they had been engaged so many years, and so now she will not marry. She is very cheerful, however, and all her pupils love her, and I am sure you will be happy with her, Jill.’
Jill would not quite allow this, but the next day she recurred to the subject, and asked me a good many questions about Miss Gillespie, and when I told her that it was settled that Miss Gillespie should join them at Hastings she really looked quite pleased; but nothing would induce her to open the case of books Aunt Philippa had sent down, and when I told Uncle Max he only laughed.
’Let her be as idle as she likes. She is over-educated now, and knows far more than most girls of her age. Take her about with you, and make her useful.’ And I followed this advice implicitly, but for a different reason,—there was no keeping Mr. Tudor out of the house; so when I was engaged, and Jill could not be with me, I took advantage of a general invitation that Miss Hamilton had given me, and sent her up to Gladwyn.
They were all very kind to her, and she seemed to amuse Miss Darrell, but after a time Mr. Tudor began going there too, and then indeed I should have been at my wits’ end, only Mrs. Maberley came to my rescue. She took a fancy to Jill, and Jill reciprocated it, and presently she and Lady Betty began to spend most of their idle hours at Maplehurst.
‘THEY HAVE BLACKENED HIS MEMORY FALSELY’
I loved having Jill with me, but I could not deny to myself or other people that I found her a great responsibility. In the first place, I had so little leisure to devote to her, for just after Christmas I was unusually busy. Poor Mrs. Marshall died on the eve of the New Year, and both Mr. Hamilton and I feared that Elspeth would soon follow her.
A hard frost had set in, and granny’s feeble strength seemed to succumb under the pressure of the severe cold; she had taken to her bed, and lay there growing weaker every day. Poor Mary had died very peacefully, with her hand in her husband’s. I had been with her all day, and I did not leave until it was all over.