“Your rooms shall be changed to-morrow, Isabel.”
“No, let us remain in these. I shall like to feel that papa was once their occupant. I won’t get nervous again.”
But, even as she spoke, her actions belied her words. Mr. Carlyle had gone to the door and opened it, and she flew close up to him, cowering behind him.
“Shall you be gone very long, Archibald?” she whispered.
“Not more than an hour,” he answered. But he hastily put back one of his hands, and held her tightly in his protecting grasp. Marvel was coming along the corridor in answer to the ring.
“Have the goodness to let Miss Carlyle know that I am not coming down again to-night,” he said.
Mr. Carlyle shut the door, and then looked at his wife and laughed. “He is very kind to me,” thought Isabel.
With the morning began the perplexities of Lady Isabel Carlyle. But, first of all, just fancy the group at breakfast. Miss Carlyle descended in the startling costume the reader has seen, took her seat at the breakfast-table, and there sat bolt upright. Mr. Carlyle came down next; and then Lady Isabel entered, in an elegant half-mourning dress, with flowing black ribbons.
“Good morning, ma’am. I hope you slept well,” was Miss Carlyle’s salutation.
“Quite well, thank you,” she answered, as she took her seat opposite Miss Carlyle. Miss Carlyle pointed to the top of the table.
“That is your place, ma’am; but I will pour out the coffee, and save you the trouble, if you wish it.”
“I should be glad if you would,” answered Lady Isabel.
So Miss Carlyle proceeded to her duties, very stern and grim. The meal was nearly over, when Peter came in, and said the butcher had come up for orders. Miss Carlyle looked at Lady Isabel, waiting, of course, for her to give them. Isabel was silent with perplexity; she had never given such an order in her life. Totally ignorant was she of the requirements of a household; and did not know whether to suggest a few pounds of meat or a whole cow. It was the presence of that grim Miss Corny which put her out. Alone with her husband she would have said, “What ought I to order, Archibald? Tell me.” Peter waited.
“A——Something to roast and boil, if you please,” stammered Lady Isabel.
She spoke in a low tone. Embarrassment makes cowards of us; and Mr. Carlyle repeated it after her. He knew no more about housekeeping than she did.
“Something to roast and boil, tell the man, Peter.”
Up started Miss Corny; she could not stand that. “Are you aware, Lady Isabel, that an order such as that would only puzzle the butcher? Shall I give the necessary orders for to-day? The fishmonger will be here presently!”
“Oh, I wish you would!” cried the relieved Lady Isabel. “I have not been accustomed to it, but I must learn. I don’t think I know anything about housekeeping.”