“Poor little tomboy! A nice name Mrs. Wiley has fitted her with! And she is going to be a lady? I should not wonder if she liked it,” said Mr. Phipps.
“As if ladies were not tomboys too!” said she with wise scorn, half laughing, half pouting. Then with wistfulness: “Will it be so very different? Why should it? I hate the idea of going away from Beechhurst!” and she laid her cheek against the doctor’s rough whisker with the caressing, confiding affection that made her so inexpressibly dear to him.
“Here is my big baby,” said he. “A little more, and she will persuade me to say I won’t part with her.”
Bessie flashed out impetuously: “Do say so! do say so! If you won’t part with me, I won’t go. Who can make us?”
Mrs. Carnegie came into the room, serious and reasonable. She had caught Bessie’s last words, and said: “If we were to let you have your own way now, Bessie dear, ten to one that you would live to reproach us with not having done our duty by you. My conscience is clear that we ought to give you up. What is your opinion, Mr. Phipps?”
“My opinion is, Mrs. Carnegie, that when the pumpkin-coach calls for Cinderella, she will jump in, kiss her hand to all friends in the Forest, and drive off to Woldshire in a delicious commotion of tearful joy and impossible expectation.”
Bessie cried out vehemently against this.
“There, there!” said the doctor, as if he were tired, “that is enough. Let us proclaim a truce. I forbid the subject to be mentioned again unless I mention it. And let my word be law.”
Mr. Carnegie’s word, in that house, was law.
A RIDE WITH THE DOCTOR.
The next morning Mr. Carnegie was not in imperative haste to start on his daily circuit. The boys had to give him an account of yesterday’s fun. He heard them comfortably, and rejoiced the heart of Bessie by telling her to be ready to ride with him at ten o’clock—her mother could spare her. Bessie was not to wait for when the hour came. These rides with her father were ever her chief delight. She wore a round beaver hat with a rosette in front, and a habit of dark blue serge. (There had been some talk of a new one for her, but now her mother reflected that it would not be wanted.)
It was a delicate morning, the air was light and clear, the sky gray and silvery. Bessie rode Miss Hoyden, the doctor’s little mare, and trotted along at a brisk pace by his stout cob Brownie. She had a sense of the keenest enjoyment in active exercise. Mr. Carnegie looked aside at her often, his dear little Bessie, thinking, but not speaking, of the separation that impended. Bessie’s pleasure in the present was enough to throw that into the background. She did not analyze her sensations, but her cheeks glowed, her eyes shone, and she knew that she was happy. They were on their way to Littlemire, where Mr. Moxon