“They always keep the peace with me. Isabel even made us a wedding present—a pair of miniatures of my father and mother, that I am very glad to rescue, though, as she politely told me, I was welcome to them, for they were hideously dressed, and she wanted the frames for two sweet photographs of Garibaldi and the Queen of Naples.”
Then looking up as if to find a place for them—
“Why, Ermine, what have you done to the room? It is the old parsonage drawing-room!”
“Did not you mean it, when you took the very proportions of the bay window, and chose just such a carpet?”
“But what have you done to it?”
“Ailie and Rose, and Lady Temple and her boys, have done it. I have sat looking on, and suggesting. Old things that we kept packed up have seen the light, and your beautiful Indian curiosities have found their corners.”
“And the room has exactly the old geranium scent!”
“I think the Curtises must have brought half their greenhouse down. Do you remember the old oak-leaf geranium that you used to gather a leaf of whenever you passed our old conservatory?”
“I have been wondering where the fragrance came from that made the likeness complete. I have smelt nothing like it since!”
“I said that I wished for one, and Grace got off without a word, and searched everywhere at Avoncester till she found one in a corner of the Dean’s greenhouse. There, now you have a leaf in your fingers, I think you do feel at home.”
“Not quite, Ermine. It still has the dizziness of a dream. I have so often conjured up all this as a vision, that now there is nothing to take me away from it, I can hardly feel it a reality.”
“Then I shall ring. Tibbie and the poor little Lord upstairs are substantial witnesses to the cares and troubles of real life.”
WHO IS THE CLEVER WOMAN?
“Half-grown as yet, a child and vain,
She cannot fight the fight of death.
What is she cut from love and faith?
Knowledge and Wisdom, Tennyson.
It was long before the two Mrs. Keiths met again. Mrs. Curtis and Grace were persuaded to spend the spring and summer in Scotland, and Alick’s leave of absence was felt to be due to Mr. Clare, and thus it was that the first real family gathering took place on occasion of the opening of the institution that had grown out of the Burnaby Bargain. This work had cost Colonel Keith and Mr. Mitchell an infinity of labour and perseverance before even the preliminaries could be arranged, but they contrived at length to carry it out, and by the fourth spring after the downfall of the F. U. E. E. a house had been erected for the convalescents, whose wants were to be attended to by a matron, assisted by a dozen young girls in training for service.