“Hugh has taken them out driving,” replied Mr. Lilburn. “There is nothing the bit bairnies like better than that.”
“I am sorry to miss seeing them, but it is time we were on our homeward route,” Elsie said, consulting her watch.
They were kindly urged to remain longer, but declined, bade adieu, and were presently driving on toward Ion.
At Ion Rosie was pacing the veranda as her mother and Harold drove up. She hailed them eagerly as they alighted.
“At last! I began to think you must have yielded to a most urgent invitation to stay to dinner at Roselands, Beechwood, or Woodburn.”
“No,” said her mother; “invitations were not lacking, but were steadily declined for the sake of my daughter Rosie, who I knew would be sadly disappointed if her mother failed to keep her promise not to remain long away from her to-day. So here we are; and I see you have news to impart,” she added with a smiling glance at a letter in Rosie’s hand.
“Yes, mamma,” returned the young girl, smiling and blushing as she spoke. “It is from Will, and incloses a little note from his mother—such a nice, kind, affectionate one—saying she is glad she is to have a daughter at last, and she wants to make my acquaintance as soon as possible.”
They had seated themselves, and Harold, having given his horse into the care of a stable boy, now followed them, asking in a gay, bantering tone:
“Am I intruding upon a private conference, Rosie? I know mother may be intrusted with secrets which you might prefer not to give into my keeping.”
“Certainly that is so, but this is not one of that kind, and you may listen if you care to,” returned Rosie with a light laugh; then she repeated the item of news just given her mother.
“Ah! I wonder if she does not want an invitation to pay us a visit,” said Harold.
“Wait,” laughed Rosie; “I have not told you all yet. She goes on to speak of Cousin Arthur as a physician in whom she has great confidence, and to say that she would like to be in his care for at least a time; so if we can recommend a good boarding place somewhere in this neighbourhood she, her husband, and son will come and take possession for weeks or months; at least until after the wedding.”
“By the way,” said Harold, “I thought I had heard that Mrs. Croly had nearly or quite recovered her health while in Europe a few years ago. You know at the time Will was so nearly drowned they had just returned from a visit there.”
“Yes,” replied Rosie; “she had been greatly benefited, but her health has failed again within the last year or two—so Will has told me. I do hope she may come here—into this neighbourhood—and that Cousin Arthur may succeed in helping her very much.”
“Yes, I hope so,” said Harold. “He will be glad indeed of an opportunity to make some return for their very liberal treatment of him in acknowledgment of his service to their son. They feel that they owe that son’s life to Arthur’s persistent efforts to resuscitate him when he was taken from the sea apparently dead.”