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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 538 pages of information about Clever Woman of the Family.

And, above all, Lady Temple regretted the loss of the cheery companion of her evenings.  True, Bessie had lately had a good many small evening gaieties, but she always came back from them so fresh and bright, and so full of entertaining description and anecdote, that Fanny felt as if she had been there herself, and, said Bessie, “it was much better for her than staying at home with her, and bringing in no novelty.”

“Pray come to me again, dearest!  Your stay has been the greatest treat.  It is very kind in you to be so good to me.”

“It is you who are good to me, dearest Lady Temple.”

“I am afraid I shall hardly get you again.  Your poor uncle will never be able to part with you, so I won’t ask you to promise, but if ever you can—­”

“If ever I can!  This has been a very happy time, dear Lady Temple,” a confidence seemed trembling on her lips, but she suppressed it.  “I shall always think of you as the kindest friend a motherless girl ever had!  I will write to you from Bath.  Good-bye—­”

And there were all the boys in a row, little affectionate Hubert absolutely tearful, and Conrade holding up a bouquet, on which he had spent all his money, having persuaded Coombe to ride with him to the nursery garden at Avoncester to procure it.  He looked absolutely shy and blushing, when Bessie kissed him and promised to dry the leaves and keep them for ever.

CHAPTER XV.

GO AND BRAY

“Come, come, elder brother, you are too young in this!”—­
As You Like It

“Alick, I have something to say to you.”

Captain Keith did not choose to let his sister travel alone, when he could help it, and therefore was going to Bath with her, intending to return to Avoncester by the next down train.  He made no secret that he thought it a great deal of trouble, and had been for some time asleep, when, at about two stations from Bath, Bessie having shut the little door in the middle of the carriage, thus addressed him, “Alick, I have something to say to you, and I suppose I may as well say it now.”

She pressed upon his knee, and with an affected laziness, he drew his eyes wide open.

“Ah, well, I’ve been a sore plague to you, but I shall be off your hands now.”

“Eh! whose head have you been turning?”

“Alick, what do you think of Lord Keith?”

Alick was awake enough now!  “The old ass!” he exclaimed.  “But at least you are out of his way now.”

“Not at all.  He is coming to Bath to-morrow to see my aunt.”

“And you want me to go out to-morrow and stop him?”

“No, Alick, not exactly.  I have been cast about the world too long not to be thankful.”

“Elizabeth!”

“Do not look so very much surprised,” she said, in her sweet pleading way.  “May I not be supposed able to feel that noble kindness and gracious manner, and be glad to have some one to look up to?”

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