Her feelings were far deeper than I had imagined them to be. I liked the way she spoke to Jill when she was bidding good-bye to us all.
’Jocelyn dear, promise me that you will be good to mother. She has no one but you now to study her little ways and make her comfortable, and she is not as young as she was, and things tire her.’ Of course Jill promised with tears in her eyes, and Sara went away smiling and radiant. Jill was already trying to redeem her promise, as she hovered like a tall slim shadow behind her mother’s chair in the twilight.
‘Come and sit down, Jocelyn, my dear,’ observed Aunt Philippa at last, in her motherly voice. When I looked again, Jill’s black locks were bobbing on her mother’s lap, and the three seemed all talking together.
There was very little rest for any one during the next few days. Sara’s marriage had brought sundry relations from their country homes up to town, and there was open house kept for all. Jill went sight-seeing with the young people. Aunt Philippa drove some of the elder ladies to the Academy, to the Grosvenor Gallery, to the Park, and other places.
Every day there were luncheon-parties, tea-parties, dinner-parties; the long drawing-room seemed full every evening. Jill put on one or other of her pretty new gowns, and played her pieces industriously; there was no stealing away in corners now. There were round games for the young people; now and then they went to the theatre or opera: no wonder Jill was too tired and excited to open her lesson-books. My fortnight’s visit extended itself to three weeks. Aunt Philippa could not spare me; she said I was much too useful to her and Uncle Brian. I wrote to Mrs. Barton and also to Lady Betty, and I begged the latter to inform her brother that I could not leave my relations just yet.
Lady Betty wrote back at once. She had given my message, she said, but Giles had not seemed half pleased with it. She thought he was going away somewhere, she did not know where; but he had told her to say that there were no fresh cases, and that Robert Lambert was going on all right, and that as I seemed enjoying myself so much it was a pity not to take a longer holiday while I was about it, and he sent his kind regards; and that was all. I suppose I ought to have been satisfied, but it struck me that there was a flavour of sarcasm about Mr. Hamilton’s message.
But he was right; I was enjoying myself. Lesbia was still in town, and I saw her every day. My acquaintance with Miss Gillespie grew to intimacy, and I think we mutually enjoyed each other’s society. Aunt Philippa seemed to turn to me naturally for help and comfort, and her constant ‘Ursula, my dear, will you do this for me?’ gave me a real feeling of pleasure; and then there was Jill to pet and praise at every odd moment.