’Come here, my dear, and sit next to me. Dear, dear, dear; fancy Henry Grantly having a little girl. What a handsome lad he was. And it seems only yesterday.’ If it was so that Lily had said a word to her uncle about Grace and the major, the old squire had become on a sudden very sly. Be that as it may, Grace Crawley thought he was a pleasant old man; and though, while talking to him about Edith, she persisted in not learning to play Pope Joan, so that he could not contrive that she should win, nevertheless the squire took to her very kindly, and told her to come up with Lily and see him sometimes while she was staying at the Small House. The squire in speaking of his sister-in-law’s cottage always called it the Small House.
‘Only think of winning,’ said Lady Julia, drawing together her wealth. ’Well, I’m sure I want it bad enough, for I don’t at all know whether I’ve got any income of my own. It’s all John Eames’s fault, my dear, for he won’t go and make those people settle it in Lincoln’s Inn Fields.’ Poor Lily, who was standing on the hearth-rug, touched her mother’s arms. She knew Johnny’s name was lugged in with reference to Lady Julia’s money altogether for her benefit. ’I wonder whether she had a Johnny of her own,’ she said to her mother, ’and if so, whether she liked it when her friends sent the town-crier round to talk about him.’
‘She means to be good-natured,’ said Mrs Dale.
’Of course she does. But it is such a pity when people won’t understand.’
‘My uncle didn’t bite you after all, Grace,’ said Lily to her friend as they were going home at night, by the pathway which led from the garden of one house to the garden of the other.
‘I like Mr Dale very much,’ said Grace. ‘He was very kind to me.’
’There is some queer-looking animal of whom they say that he is better than he looks, and I always think of that saying when I think of my uncle.’
‘For shame, Lily,’ said her mother. ’Your uncle, for his age, is as good looking a man as I know. And he always looks like just what he is—an English gentleman.’
’I didn’t mean to say a word against his dear old face and figure, mamma; but his heart and mind, and general disposition, as they come out in experience and days of trial, are so much better than the samples of them which he puts out on the counter for men and women to judge by. He wears well, and he washes well—if you know what I mean, Grace.’
‘Yes; I think I know what you mean.’
’The Apollos of the world—I don’t mean in outward looks, mamma—but the Apollos in heart, the men—and the women too—who are so full of feeling, so soft-natured, so kind, who never say a cross word, who never get out of bed on the wrong side in the morning—it so often turns out that they won’t wash.’
Such was the expression of Miss Dale’s experience.