’Yes; I hope that concentrated earnestness of attention may do something to make up for my deficiency in almost every other qualification,’ said James. ’At least, I feel some of the importance of the charge, and never was anything more welcome.’
‘And how did it happen?’
’People are more forgiving than I could have hoped. Mr. Calcott has offered me this, in the kindest way; and as if that were not enough, see what poor little Clara says.’
‘Poor little Clara!’ said Isabel, reading the letter; ’you don’t mean to disappoint her!’
’I should be a brute if I did. No; I wrote to her this morning to thank her for her pardoning spirit.’
’You should have told me; I should like to send her my love. I am glad she has not quite forgotten us, though she mistook the way to her own happiness.’
’Isabel! unless I were to transport you to Cheveleigh a year ago, nothing would persuade you of my utter wrong-headedness.’
‘Nor that, perhaps,’ said Isabel, with a calm smile.
‘Not my having brought you to be grateful for the Union chaplaincy?’
‘Not if you had brought me to the Union literally,’ said Isabel, smiling. ’Indeed, dear James, I think we have both been so much the better and happier for this last year, that I would not have been without it for any consideration; and if any mistakes on your part led to it, they were mistakes on the right side. Don’t shake your head, for you know they were what only a good man could have made.’
‘That may be all very well for a wife to believe!’
And the rest of the little dispute was concluded, as Charlotte came smiling up with the tea.
‘BIDE A WEE.’
Come unto these yellow sands,
And then take hands!
The Ponsonby family were spending the hot season at Chorillos, the Peruvian watering-place, an irregular assembly of cane-built, mud-besmeared ranches, close on the shore of the Pacific, with the mountains seeming to rise immediately in the rear.
They had gone for Mr. Ponsonby’s health, and Rosita’s amusement; and in the latter object they had completely succeeded. In her bathing-dress, full trousers, and a beautifully-embroidered blouse, belted at the waist, a broad-brimmed straw hat, and her raven hair braided in two long tresses, she wandered on the shore with many another fair Limenian, or entered the sea under the protection of a brown Indian; and, supported by mates or gourds, would float for hours together among her companions, splashing about, and playing all sorts of frolics, like so many mermaids.