I made her very happy by leaving some of my possessions under her care—some books that I knew she would like to read, and other treasures that I had locked up in my wardrobe. Jill had the key and could rummage if she liked, but she told me quite seriously that it would comfort her to come and look at them sometimes. ’It will feel as though you were coming back some day, Ursie,’ she said affectionately.
Late one afternoon I left her busy in my room, and went to the Albert Hall Mansions to bid good-bye to Lesbia. I had called once or twice, but had always missed her. So I slipped across in the twilight, as I thought at that hour they would have returned from their drive.
The Albert Hall Mansions were only a stone’s throw from Uncle Brian’s house, so I considered myself safe from any remonstrance on Aunt Philippa’s part. I liked to go there in the soft, early dusk; the smooth noiseless ascent of the lift, and the lighted floors that we passed, gave one an odd, dreamy feeling. Mrs. Fullerton had a handsome suite of apartments on the third floor, and there was a beautiful view from her drawing-room window of the Park and the Albert Memorial. It was a nice, cheerful situation, and Mrs. Fullerton, who liked gaiety, preferred it to Rutherford Lodge, though Lesbia had been born there and she had passed her happiest days in it.
I found Mrs. Fullerton alone, but she seemed very friendly, and was evidently glad to see me. I suppose I was better company than her own thoughts.
I liked Mrs. Fullerton, after a temperate fashion. She was a nice little woman, and would have been nicer still if she had talked less and thought more. But when one’s words lie at the tip of one’s tongue there is little time for reflection, and there are sure to be tares among the wheat.
She was looking serious this evening, but that did not interfere with her comeliness or her pleasant manners. I found her warmth gratifying, and prepared to unbend more than usual.
’Sit down, my dear. No, not on that chair: take the easy one by the fire. You are looking rather fagged, Ursula. It seems to be the fashion with young people now: they get middle-aged before their time. Oh yes, Lesbia is out. It is the Engleharts’ “At Home,” and she promised to go with Mrs. Pierrepoint. But she will be back soon. Now we are alone, I want to ask you a question. I am rather anxious about Lesbia. Dr. Pratt says there is a want of tone about her. She is too thin, and her appetite is not good. The child gets prettier every day, but she looks far too delicate.’