‘I am quite awake now,’ I returned, rubbing my eyes vigorously.
’Well, then, let me see. Oh, Miss Locke is going on well, and Mrs. Carron will stop with her until eight o’clock. Phoebe has been ill, and they sent for him; but it was only faintness and palpitation, and she is better now. He has been to see Elspeth, and she is poorly; but there is no need for you to trouble about her. Miss Darrell is sending her broth and jelly, and Peggy waits on her very nicely. Lady Betty and I went to see her to-day, and she was as comfortable and cheery as possible, and told us that she felt like a lady in that big bed downstairs. Mr. Hamilton says she will not die just yet, but one of these days she will go off as quietly as a baby. She asked after you, Ursie, and sent you a power of love, and I hope it will do you good.’
‘And what have you been doing with yourself all day, Jill?’ I asked, rather anxiously.
‘Oh, lots of things,’ tossing back her thick locks. ’Let me see. Lady Betty came to fetch me for a walk, and we met Mr. Tudor. He is all alone, poor man, and very dull without Mr. Cunliffe; he told us so: so Lady Betty brought him back to lunch. And Miss Darrell was so cross, and told poor Lady Betty that she was very forward to do such a thing; they had such a quarrel in the drawing-room about it. Mr. Tudor came in and found Lady Betty crying, so he made us come out in the garden, and we played a new sort of Aunt Sally. Mr. Tudor stuck up an old hat of Mr. Hamilton’s,—at least we found out it was not an old one after all,—and we snowballed it, and Mr. Hamilton came out and helped us. After tea, we all told ghost-stories round the fire. Miss Darrell does not like them, so she went up to her room. Mr. Tudor had to see a sick man, but he came back to dinner; but I would not stay, for I thought you would be waking, Ursie, so Mr. Hamilton brought me home.’
‘Jill!’ I asked desperately, ’have they not written for you to join them at Hastings yet? I begin to think you have been idle long enough.’
‘Had you not better go to sleep again, Ursie dear?’ returned Jill, marching off with my tray. But she made a little face at me as she went out of the door. ‘I shall get into trouble over this,’ I thought. ’I really must write to Aunt Philippa.’ But I was spared the necessity, for the very next day Jill came to me at Miss Locke’s to tell me, with a very long face, that her mother had written to say that Miss Gillespie was coming the following week, and Jill was to pack up and join them at Hastings the very next day.
‘THERE IS NO ONE LIKE DONALD’
Mrs. Carron very kindly took my place that I might be with Jill that last evening, and we spent it in Jill’s favourite fashion, talking in the firelight.
She was a little quiet and subdued, full of regret at leaving me, and more affectionate than ever.