He stopped to watch with a glistening eye the approach of Jill, bearing a tankard in one hand and a large jug of some beverage in the other.
“What is it?” he said.
“Heaven will reward you, darling, as I shan’t.” He took a long draught. “And yet I don’t know. I’ve got an old pair of riding-breeches I don’t want, if they’re any use to you.”
There was a shriek from Agatha and Jill.
“Is anybody going to church?” said Daphne, consulting her wrist-watch.
Gravely, I regarded him.
“Run along and change,” said I. “And you can return the curate his bicycle at the same time. Besides, a walk’ll do you good.”
“Don’t tempt me,” he replied. “Two hours ago I registered a vow. I shall drink no water till it is accomplished.”
“Let’s hear it,” said I.
“To offer no violence to a fool for six months,” said Berry, refilling his tankard. “By the way, you’ll have to be very careful when you take off my boots. They’re very full of foot this evening.” He sank back and closed his eyes. “You know I never look at the almanac, but before I was up this morning I knew that this was a blue-letter day.”
“How?” said his wife.
“I left a stud within the bath, and heard Jonah find it.” He spread out a dramatic arm.
"And he thereon did only sit,
So blind he couldn’t see,
And then the fat-head yelled and swore,
Not at himself, but me."
HOW DAPHNE WROTE FOR ASSISTANCE, AND MR. HOLLY WAS OUTBID.
“Blow this out for me, Boy, there’s a dear.”
The sun was streaming into the library, in a cage upon the broad hearth there was a blazing log fire, and the appointment of the breakfast-table was good to look upon.
So also was Jill.
Installed behind the cups and silver, my cousin made a sweet picture. Grave eyes set wide in a smiling face, a pile of golden hair crowning her pretty head, the slenderest throat, from which the collar of a green silk coat fell gracefully on either side—so much a cunning painter might have charmed faithfully on to canvas. But the little air of importance, of dignity fresh-gathered that sat so naively upon her brow—this was a thing nor brush nor pencil could capture, but only a man’s eye writing upon a grateful heart.
It was but three days since Daphne had left White Ladies for London, and grey-eyed Jill reigned in her stead. Berry had accompanied his wife, but Jonah and I had stayed in the country with Jill, lest we should lose a note of that echo of summer which good St. Luke had this year piped so lustily.
But yesterday the strains had faltered and died. A sour east wind had arisen, that set the trees shivering, and whipped the golden leaves from their galleries, to send them scudding up the cold grey roads. Worse still, by noon the sky was big with snow, so that before the post office was closed, a telegram had fled to London warning my sister to expect us to arrive by car the following afternoon.