Clever Woman of the Family eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 538 pages of information about Clever Woman of the Family.
of the Colonel and of Lady Temple herself; all, however, by intuition, for not a word had been hinted to her of what had passed during that game at croquet.  She certainly was a most winning creature; the Colonel was charmed with her conversation in its shades between archness and good sense, and there was no one who did not look forward with dread to the end of her visit, when after a short stay with one of her married cousins, she must begin her residence with the blind uncle to whose establishment she, in her humility, declared she should be such a nuisance.  It was the stranger that she should think so, as she had evidently served her apprenticeship to parish work at Bishopsworthy; she knew exactly how to talk to poor people, and was not only at home in clerical details herself, but infused them into Lady Temple; so that, to the extreme satisfaction of Mr. Touchett, the latter organized a treat for the school-children, offered prizes for needlework, and once or twice even came to listen to the singing practice when anything memorable was going forward.  She was much pleased at being helped to do what she felt to be right and kind, though hitherto she had hardly known how to set about it, and had been puzzled and perplexed by Rachel’s disapproval, and semi-contempt of “scratching the surface” by the commonplace Sunday-school system.

CHAPTER XII

A CHANGE AT THE PARSONAGE.

“What could presumptuous hope inspire.”—­Rokeby.

There had been the usual foretaste of winter, rather sharp for Avonmouth, and though a trifle to what it was in less sheltered places, quite enough to make the heliotropes sorrowful, strip the fig-trees, and shut Colonel Keith up in the library.  Then came the rain, and the result was that the lawn of Myrtlewood became too sloppy for the most ardent devotees of croquet; indeed, as Bessie said, the great charm of the sport was that one could not play it above eight months in the year.

The sun came back again, and re-asserted the claim of Avonmouth to be a sort of English Mentone; but drying the lawn was past its power, and Conrade and Francis were obliged to console themselves by the glory of taking Bessie Keith for a long ride.  They could not persuade their mother to go with them, perhaps because she had from her nursery-window sympathized with Cyril’s admiration of the great white horse that was being led round to the door of Gowanbrae.

She said she must stay at home, and make the morning calls that the charms of croquet had led her to neglect, and in about half an hour from that time she was announced in Miss Williams’ little parlour, and entered with a hurried, panting, almost pursued look, a frightened glance in her eyes, and a flush on her cheek, such as to startle both Ermine and the Colonel.

“Oh!” she exclaimed, as if still too much perturbed to know quite what she was saying, “I—­I did not mean to interrupt you.”

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Clever Woman of the Family from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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