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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 570 pages of information about Uncle Max.

Had Miss Darrell overheard him?  I wondered.  I felt, if she had done so, her manner would have been different.  She seemed jealous of her cousin, and always monopolised his words and looks.  He had never spoken to me a dozen words in her presence that she had not tried to interrupt us.  Had she really been asleep?  These doubts kept recurring to me.  Just before I fell asleep a remembrance of Leah’s sullen face came between me and my dreams.  Her insolent voice rang in my ears.  What had she meant by her words?  Why had Miss Darrell submitted to her impertinence?  Was she afraid of Leah, as Gladys said?  I began to feel weary of all these mysteries.

CHAPTER XXX

WITH TIMBRELS AND DANCES

Aunt Philippa and Sara came to meet me at Victoria.  They both seemed unfeignedly glad to see me.

Aunt Philippa was certainly a kind-hearted woman.  Her faults were those that were engendered by too much prosperity.  Overmuch ease and luxury had made her lymphatic and indolent.  Except for Ralph’s death, she had never known sorrow.  Care had not yet traced a single line on her smooth forehead; it looked as open and unfurrowed as a child’s.  Contentment and a comfortable self-complacency were written on her comely face.  Just now it beamed with motherly welcome.  Somehow, I never felt so fond of Aunt Philippa as I did at that moment when she leaned over the carriage with outstretched hands.

’My dear, how well you are looking!  Five years younger.—­Does she not look well, Sara?’

Sara nodded and smiled, and made room for me to pass her, and then gave orders that my luggage should be intrusted to the maid, who would convey it in a cab to Hyde Park Gate.

‘If you do not mind, Ursula, we are going round the Park for a little,’ observed Sara, with a pretty blush.

Her mother laughed:  ’Colonel Ferguson is riding in the Row, and will be looking out for us.  He is coming this evening, as usual, but Sara thinks four-and-twenty hours too long to wait.’

‘Oh, mother, how can you talk so?’ returned Sara bashfully.  ’You know Donald asked us to meet him, and he would be so disappointed.  And it is such a lovely afternoon,—­if Ursula does not mind.’

‘On the contrary, I shall like it very much,’ I returned, moved by curiosity to see Colonel Ferguson again.  I had never seen him by daylight, and, though we had often met at the evening receptions, we had not exchanged a dozen words.

I thought Sara was looking prettier than ever.  A sort of radiance seemed to surround her.  Youth and beauty, perfect health, a light heart, and satisfied affections,—­these were the gifts of the gods that had been showered upon her.  Would those bright, smiling eyes ever shed tears?  I wondered.  Would any sorrow drive away that light, careless gaiety?  I hoped not.  It was pleasant to see any one so happy.  And then I thought of Lesbia and Gladys, and sighed.

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