‘I am very pleased too, dear,’ she said. ’I do think you will be a good and happy little girl now.’
’I’ll try to be good, mamma, I will really. But it would take me a dreadfully long time to be as good as Celestina, I’m afraid.’
’If the sun could tell
That he hears and sees,
Sometimes he would make us laugh,
Sometimes make us cry.’
‘You must eat your breakfast properly, Celestina, my dear,’ said Mrs. Fairchild to her little daughter one morning in the following week. ’You will be quite faint and tired before dinner-time if you don’t, and that would be a bad beginning.’
Celestina on this set to work once more on her bread and milk. She was too excited to feel hungry; her pale cheeks had each a bright spot of colour and her eyes were shining. It was the day on which she was to begin her lessons at the Rectory. Miss Neale was to call for her on her way there, and though she had three-quarters of an hour to wait till Miss Neale came, the little girl was sure she would not be ready in time.
‘I never saw her so taken up with anything before,’ said her mother; and Mr. Fairchild, who was sometimes disposed to take rather a gloomy view of things, said he hoped they should not regret having agreed to the arrangement, and that it would not lead to disappointment, on which Mrs. Fairchild set to work, as she always did, to cheer him up.
‘It will give Celestina a little experience,’ she said; ’and even if there should be a little disappointment mixed up with it in any way, it will do her no harm, and Celestina is a reasonable child.’
She was very quiet but very happy as she set off with Miss Neale. It was a bright pleasant morning, ‘quite spring-like,’ said the young governess, and a walk at that early hour was of itself a pleasure to Celestina. She had not been inside the Rectory since the Vane family had replaced old Dr. Bunton and his wife, and scarcely was the door open when the little girl noticed a difference. The old, heavy, stuffy furniture was gone, and though it was still plain, the house looked lighter and brighter. The schoolroom was a nice little room looking towards the sea; there was a good strong table with a black oil-cloth cover and four hair-seated chairs, such as were much used at that time. But there were two or three pretty pictures on the walls, and a cottage piano, and in the bookcase were a few bright-coloured tempting volumes as well as the graver-looking school-books. Everything was very neat, and there was a bright fire burning, and in a pot on the window-sill a geranium was growing and evidently flourishing. To Celestina it was a perfect picture of a schoolroom, and she looked round with the greatest interest as she took off her hat and jacket, according to Miss Neale’s directions, and hung them on a peg on the door.