Just at this crisis a carriage drove up and stopped at the gate. “It is the Fairfield carriage come to carry you off, Bessie,” said her mother. Lady Latimer looked out and spoke to the footman, who touched his hat and ran to the porch with his message, “Would Miss Fairfax make haste?—her ladyship was in a hurry.”
“I must go,” said Bessie, and took her hat. Mr. Phipps sighed like an echo, and everybody laughed. “Good-bye, but you will see me very soon again,” she cried from the gate, and then she got into the carriage.
“To Admiral Parking’s,” said Lady Latimer, and they drove off on a round of visits, returning to Fairfield only in time to dress for dinner.
Just at that hour Harry Musgrave was coming back from his ramble in the red light of a gorgeous sunset, to be met by his mother with the news that Bessie Fairfax had called at the manor in the course of a ride with the doctor in the morning, and what a pity it was that he was out of the way! for he might have had a ride with them if he had not set off quite so early on his walk. Harry regretted too much what he had missed to have much to say about it; it was very unlucky. Bessie at Fairfield, he clearly discerned, was not at home for him, and Lady Latimer was not his friend. He had not heard any secrets respecting Mr. Cecil Burleigh, but a suspicion obscured his fancy since last night, and his mother’s tidings threw him into a mood of dejection that made him as pale as a fond lover whom his lady has rebuffed.
HOW FRIENDS MAY FALL OUT..
Mr. and Mrs. Bernard and Mr. Wiley were added to the dinner-party at Fairfield that evening, and Lady Latimer gave Miss Fairfax a quiet reminder that she might have to be on her guard, for the rector was as deficient in tact as ever. And so he proved. He first announced that the fever had broken out again at Littlemire and Marsh-End, after the shortest lull he recollected, thus taking away Mr. Logger’s present appetite, and causing him to flee from the Forest the first thing in the morning. Then he condoled with Mrs. Bernard on a mishap to her child that other people avoided speaking of, for the consequences were likely to be very serious, and she had not yet been made fully aware of them. There was a peculiar, low, lugubrious note in his voice which caused it to be audible through the room, and Bessie, who sat opposite to him, between Mr. Cecil Burleigh and Mr. Logger, devoted all her conversation to them to avoid that of the rector. But he had taken note of her at the moment of his entrance, and though the opportunity of remark had not been afforded him, he soon made it, beginning with inquiries after her grandfather. Then he reverted to Mr. Fairfax’s visit to Beechhurst four years ago, and spoke in a congratulatory, patronizing manner that was peculiarly annoying to Bessie: “There is a difference between now and then—eh, Bessie? Mrs. Wiley and I have often smiled at one naive little speech of yours—about a nest-egg that was saving up for a certain event that young ladies look forward to. It must be considerably grown by now, that nest-egg. You remember, I see.”