She rubbed nervously at the diamond brooch with her thin little mittened hands. She talked very fast; and if the lawyer were guilty of feeling any ungallant indifference to her observations, she did not so much as hear his, and her cheeks became so flushed that Mrs. Dunmaw crossed the room in her China crape shawl and said, “My dear Miss Kitty, I’m sure you feel the heat very much. Do take my fan, which is larger than yours.”
But Miss Kitty was saved a reply, for at this moment Miss Betty turned on the sofa, and said, “Dear Kitty, will you kindly see if the servant—”
And the parson closed the volume of “Friendship’s Offering” which lay before him, and advanced towards Mrs. Dunmaw and took leave in his own dignified way.
Miss Kitty was so much flustered that she had not even presence of mind to look for the servant, who had never been ordered to come, but the parson relieved her by saying in his round, deep voice, “I hope you will not refuse me the honour of seeing you home, since our roads happen to lie together,” And she was glad to get into the fresh air, and beyond the doubtful compliments of the lawyer’s nasal suavity—“You have been very severe upon me to-night, Miss Kitty. I’m sure I had no notion I should find so powerful an antagonist,” etc.
It was Midsummer Eve. The long light of the North was pale and clear, and the western sky shone luminous through the fir-wood that bordered the road. Under such dim lights colours deepen, and the great bushes of broom, that were each one mass of golden blossom, blazed like fairy watch-fires up the lane.
Miss Kitty leaned on the left arm of the parson and Miss Betty on his right. She chatted gaily, which left her younger sister at leisure to think of all the convincing things she had not remembered to say to the lawyer, as the evening breeze cooled her cheeks.
“A grand prospect for the crops, sir,” said Miss petty; “I never saw the broom so beautiful.” But as he leaned forward to look at the yellow blaze which foretells good luck to farmers, as it shone in the hedge on the left-hand side of the road, she caught sight of the brooch in Miss Kitty’s lace shawl. Through a gap in the wood the light from the western sky danced among the diamonds. But where one of the precious stones should have been there was a little black hole.
“Sister, you’ve lost a stone out of your brooch!” screamed Miss Betty. The little ladies were well-trained, and even in that moment of despair Miss Betty would not hint that her sister’s ornaments were not her sole property.
When Miss Kitty burst into tears the parson was a little astonished as well as distressed. Men are apt to be so, not perhaps because women cry on such very small accounts, as because the full reason does not always transpire. Tears are often the climax of nervous exhaustion and this is commonly the result of more causes than one. Ostensibly Miss Kitty was “upset” by the loss of the diamond, but she also wept away a good deal of the vexation of her unequal conflict with the sarcastic lawyer, and of all this the parson knew nothing.