“It is going to be a lovely day,” she said, and coiled herself in a cushioned chair to watch the dawn advancing.
All the world was hushed and silent yet. Slowly the light spread over the gardens, over the meadows and cornfields, chasing away the shadows and revealing the hues of shrub and flower. A reach of the river stole into view, and the red roof of an old mill on its banks. Then there was a musical, monotonous, reiterated call not far off which roused the cattle, and brought them wending leisurely towards the milking-shed. The crowing of cocks near and more remote, the chirping of little birds under the eaves, began and increased. A laborer, then another, on their way to work, passed within sight along a field-path leading to the mill; a troop of reapers came by the same road. Then there was the pleasant sound of sharpening a scythe, and Bessie saw a gardener on the lawn stoop to his task.
She returned to her pillow, and slept again until she was awakened by somebody coming to her bedside. It was Mrs. Betts, bearing in her hands one of those elegant china services for a solitary cup of tea which have popularized that indulgence amongst ladies.
“What is it?” Bessie asked, gazing with a puzzled air at the tiny turquoise-blue vessels. “Tea? I am going to get up to breakfast.”
“Certainly, miss, I hope so. But it is a custom with many young ladies to have a cup of tea before dressing.”
“I will touch my bell if I want anything. No—no tea, thank you,” responded Bessie; and the waiting-woman felt herself dismissed. Bessie chose to make and unmake her toilette alone. It was easy to see that her education had not been that of a young lady of quality, for she was quite independent of her maid; but Mrs. Betts was a woman of experience and made allowance for her, convinced that, give her time, she would be helpless and exacting enough.
Mr. Fairfax and his granddaughter met in the inner hall with a polite “Good-morning.” Elizabeth looked shyly proud, but sweet as a dewy rose. The door of communication with the great hall was thrown wide open. It was all in cool shade, redolent of fresh air and the perfume of flowers. Jonquil waited to usher them to breakfast, which was laid in the room where they had dined last night.
Mr. Fairfax was never a talker, but he made an effort on behalf of Bessie, with whom it was apparently good manners not to speak until she was spoken to. “What will you do, Elizabeth, by way of making acquaintance with your home? Will you have Macky with her legends of family history and go over the house, or will you take a turn outside with me and visit the stables?”
Bessie knew which it was her duty to prefer, and fortunately her duty tallied with her inclination; her countenance beamed, and she said, “I will go out with you, if you please.”
“You ride, I know. There is a nice little filly breaking in for you: you must name her, as she is to be yours.”