‘We have come back earlier than we intended,’ said Lily. She of course had seen the stranger with her uncle, and knowing the ways of the squire in such matters had expected to be introduced to him. But the reader will be aware that no introduction was possible. It never occurred to Lily that this man could be Major Grantly of whom she and Grace had been talking during the whole length of the walk home. But Grace and her lover had of course known each other at once, and Grantly, though he was abashed and almost dismayed by the meeting, of course came forward and gave his hand to his friend. Grace in taking it did not utter a word.
‘Perhaps I ought to have introduced myself to you as Major Grantly,’ said he, turning to the squire.
’Major Grantly! Dear me! I had no idea that you were expected in these parts.’
‘I have come without being expected.’
’You are very welcome, I’m sure. I hope your father is well? I used to know him some years ago, and I daresay he has not forgotten me.’ Then, while the girls stood by in silence, and while Grantly was endeavouring to escape, the squire invited him very warmly to send his portmanteau up to the house. ’We’ll have the ladies up from the house below, and make it as little dull for you as possible.’ But this would not have suited Grantly—at any rate would not suit him till he should know what answer he was to have. He excused himself therefore, pleading a positive necessity to be at Guestwick that evening, and then, explaining that he had already seen Mrs Dale, he expressed his intention of going back to the Small House in company with the ladies, if they would allow him. The squire, who did not yet quite understand it all, bade him a formal adieu, and Lily led the way home down behind the churchyard wall and through the bottom of the gardens belonging to the Great House. She of course knew now who the stranger was, and did all in her power to relieve Grace of her embarrassment. Grace had hitherto not spoken a single word since she had seen her lover, nor did she say a word to him in their walk to the house. And, in truth, he was not much more communicative than Grace. Lily did all the talking, and with wonderful female skill contrived to have some words ready for use till they all found themselves together in Mrs Dale’s drawing-room. ’I have caught a major, mamma, and landed him,’ said Lily laughing, ’but I’m afraid, from what I hear, that you had caught him first.’
MISS LILY DALE’S LOGIC