Another golden day! But the days would all be golden now, thought Hildegarde. “Oh, how different it is from yesterday!” she cried to Nurse Lucy as she danced about the kitchen. “The sun shone yesterday, but it did us no good. To-day it warms my heart, the good sunshine. And yesterday the trees seemed to mock me, with all their scarlet and gold; but to-day they are dressed up to celebrate our good fortune. Let us call them in to rejoice with us, Nurse Lucy. Let us have a tree-party, instead of a tea-party!”
“My dear,” said Dame Hartley, looking up with a puzzled smile, “what do you mean?”
“Oh! I don’t mean to invite the whole forest to supper,” said Hildegarde, laughing. “But you shall see, Nurse Lucy; you shall see. Just wait till this afternoon. I must run now over to Pink’s, and tell her all the wonderful things that have happened, and see how poor Bubble is.”
Away she went like a flash, through the golden fields, down the lane, where the maples made a flaming tent of scarlet over her head, bursting suddenly like a whirlwind into the little cottage, where the brother and sister, both now nearly helpless, sat waiting with pale and anxious faces. At sight of her Pink uttered a cry of delight, while Bubble flushed with pleasure; and both were about to pour out a flood of eager questions, when Hilda laid her hand over Pink’s mouth and made a sign to the boy. “Two minutes to get my breath!” she cried, panting; “only two, and then you shall hear all.” She spent the two minutes in filling the kettle and presenting Bubble with a pot of peach-marmalade that Dame Hartley had sent him; then, sitting down by the invalid’s chair, she told from beginning to end the history of the past two days. The recital was thrilling enough, and before it was over the pale cheeks were crimson, and the two pairs of blue eyes blazed with excitement.
“Oh!” cried Bubble, hopping up and down in his chair, regardless of the sprained ankle. “Oh, I say, Miss Hildy! I dunno what to say! Wouldn’t he ha’ liked it, though? My! ‘twas jest like himself. Jes’ exactly what he’d ha’ done.”
“What who would have done, Bubble?” asked Hilda, laughing.
“Why, him! Buckle-oh!” said the boy. “I was jest sayin’ over the ballid when I saw ye comin’. Warn’t it like him, Pink, say?”
But Pink drew the stately head down towards her, and kissed the glowing cheek, and whispered, “Queen Hildegarde! my queen!”
The tears started to Hilda’s eyes as she returned the kiss; but she brushed them away, and rose hastily, announcing her intention of “setting things to rights” against Mrs. Chirk’s return. “You poor dears!” she cried, “how did you manage yesterday? If I had only known, I would have come and got dinner for you.”