He was annoyed at this result of the good advice he had thought himself bound to give to a motherless girl, who had no one to instruct her in the proprieties in which his own sisters were brought up; he left Hamley both sorry and displeased. As for Ellinor, when she found out the next day that he really was gone—gone without even coming to Ford Bank again to see if she were not penitent for her angry words—gone without saying or hearing a word of good-bye—she shut herself up in her room, and cried more bitterly than ever, because anger against herself was mixed with her regret for his loss. Luckily, her father was dining out, or he would have inquired what was the matter with his darling; and she would have had to try to explain what could not be explained. As it was, she sat with her back to the light during the schoolroom tea, and afterwards, when Miss Monro had settled down to her study of the Spanish language, Ellinor stole out into the garden, meaning to have a fresh cry over her own naughtiness and Mr. Corbet’s departure; but the August evening was still and calm, and put her passionate grief to shame, hushing her up, as it were, with the other young creatures, who were being soothed to rest by the serene time of day, and the subdued light of the twilight sky.
There was a piece of ground surrounding the flower-garden, which was not shrubbery, nor wood, nor kitchen garden—only a grassy bit, out of which a group of old forest trees sprang. Their roots were heaved above ground; their leaves fell in autumn so profusely that the turf was ragged and bare in spring; but, to make up for this, there never was such a place for snowdrops.
The roots of these old trees were Ellinor’s favourite play-place; this space between these two was her doll’s kitchen, that its drawing-room, and so on. Mr. Corbet rather despised her contrivances for doll’s furniture, so she had not often brought him here; but Dixon delighted in them, and contrived and planned with the eagerness of six years old rather than forty. To-night Ellinor went to this place, and there were all a new collection of ornaments for Miss Dolly’s sitting-room made out of fir-bobs, in the prettiest and most ingenious way. She knew it was Dixon’s doing and rushed off in search of him to thank him.
“What’s the matter with my pretty?” asked Dixon, as soon as the pleasant excitement of thanking and being thanked was over, and he had leisure to look at her tear-stained face.
“Oh, I don’t know! Never mind,” said she, reddening.
Dixon was silent for a minute or two, while she tried to turn off his attention by her hurried prattle.
“There’s no trouble afoot that I can mend?” asked he, in a minute or two.
“Oh, no! It’s really nothing—nothing at all,” said she. “It’s only that Mr. Corbet went away without saying good-bye to me, that’s all.” And she looked as if she should have liked to cry again.