Could I ever forget how solemnly he had said this? After all, Mr. Hamilton was right, and I think Jill was right too.
When we had finished the flowers and brought in Aunt Philippa to see the effect, I left the others and went up to my room. I had been busy since the early morning, and felt I had fairly earned a little rest.
The room that was still called mine had a side-window looking over the Park. Down below carriages were passing and repassing; a detachment of hussars trotted past; people were pouring out from the Albert Hall,—some afternoon concert was just over; the children were playing as usual on the grass; the soft evening shadows were creeping up between the trees; the sky was blue and cloudless. May was wearing her choicest smiles on the eve of Sara’s wedding-day.
Martha, the schoolroom maid, had brought me a cup of tea; the rest of the family were crowded in Uncle Brian’s study; the dining-room was already in the hands of Gunter’s assistants; the long drawing-room and inner drawing-room were sweet with roses and baskets of costly hot-house flowers; a bank of rhododendrons was under the hall window; the house was full of sunshine, flowers, and the ripple of laughter. I could hear the laughter through the closed door. Sara’s musical tinkle rang out whenever the door opened. I had fallen into a sort of waking dream, when something white and golden passed between me and the sunlight; a light kiss was dropped on my drowsy eyelids, and there was Lesbia smiling at me.
She looked so cool and fair in her white gown, with a tiny bouquet of delicious tea-roses in her hand, her golden hair shining under her little lace bonnet. I thought she looked more than ever like Charlie’s white lily, only now there was a touch of colour on her face.
‘Oh, Ursie dear, I am so pleased to see you!’ she said gently, laying the flowers on my lap. ’Clayton told me that every one else was in Mr. Garston’s study, so I begged to run up here. We only came up from Rutherford this morning, and we have been so busy ever since. I was afraid you were asleep, for I knocked at the door without getting any answer; but no, your eyes were wide open; so you were only dreaming.’
’I believe I was very tired, they have kept me running about all day. Take this low chair by the window, dear, and tell me all about yourself. Do you know it is six months since we met? There must be so much to say on both sides. But, first, how is Mrs. Fullerton? and is it Rutherford that has given you those pretty roses, Lesbia?’ But the roses I meant were certainly not on my lap.
She answered literally and seriously, in her usual way: ’Yes, they are from Rutherford: I cut them myself, in spite of Patrick’s grumbling. Mother is very well, Ursula; I am sure the country agrees with her. We have been there since March, and these two months have been the happiest to me since dear Charlie died.’