SUNDAY EVENING AT BROOK.
That still Sunday afternoon across the glowing heath to Great-Ash Ford was most enchanting. Every step of the way was a pleasure to Bessie. And when they came to the ford, whom should they see resting under the shade of the trees but Harry Musgrave and young Christie? Harry’s attitude was somewhat weary. He leant on one elbow, recumbent upon the turf, and with flat pebbles dexterously thrown made ducks and drakes upon the surface of the shallow pool where the cattle drank. Young Christie was talking with much earnestness—propounding some argument apparently—and neither observed the approach of Mr. Carnegie and his companion until they were within twenty paces. Then a sudden flush overspread Harry’s face. “It is Bessie Fairfax!” said he, and sprang to his feet and advanced to meet her. Bessie was rosy too, and her eyes dewy bright. Young Christie, viewing her as an artist, called her to himself the sweetest and most womanly of women, and admired her the more for her kind looks at his friend. Harry’s ennui was quite routed.
“We were walking to Brook—your mother will give us a cup of tea, Harry?” said Mr. Carnegie.
Harry was walking home to Brook too, with Christie for company; his mother would be only too proud to entertain so many good friends. They went along by the rippling water together, and entered the familiar garden by the wicket into the wood. Mr. and Mrs. Musgrave were out there on the green slope under the beeches, awaiting their son and his friend, and lively were their exclamations of joy when they saw who their other visitors were.
“Did I not tell you little Bessie was at church, Harry?” cried his father, turning to him with an air of triumph.
“And he would not believe it. I thought myself it must be a mistake,” said Mrs. Musgrave.
Bessie was touched to the heart by their cordial welcome. She made a most favorable impression. Mr. Musgrave thought her as handsome a young lady as a man could wish to look at, and his wife said her good heart could be seen in her face.
Bessie felt, nevertheless, rather more formally at home than in her childhood, except with her old comrade Harry. Between them there was not a moment’s shyness. They were as friendly, as intimate as formerly, though with a perceptible difference of manner. Bessie had the simple graces of happy maidenhood, and Harry had the courteous reserve of good society to which his university honors and pleasant humor had introduced him. He was a very acceptable companion wherever he went, because his enjoyment of life was so thorough as to be almost infectious. He must be a dull dog, indeed, who did not cheer up in the sunshine of Musgrave’s presence: that was his popular character, and it agreed with Bessie’s reminiscences of him; but Harry, like other young men of great hopes and small fortunes, had his hours of shadow that Christie knew of and others guessed at. At tea the talk fell on London amusements and bachelor-life in chambers.