This done, Mary faced her life in the New World. She had to form her habits for herself, for her importance in the house was gone; but she went to work resolutely, and, lonely as she was, she had far more resources than if she had never been at Ormersfield. She had many hours to herself, and she unpacked her books, and set herself courses of study, to which Louis had opened the door. She unveiled her eyes to natural history, and did not find flower or butterfly unsoothing. She undertook the not very hopeful task of teaching a tiny negro imp, who answered the purpose of a bell, to read and work; and she was persevering in her efforts to get Xavier and Dolores to make her father comfortable.
Her father was decidedly glad of her company. He liked conversation, and enjoyed the morning meeting, to which Mr. Ward was often a welcome addition, delighting in anything so English, and finding Miss Ponsonby much improved by her introduction to English society. Sometimes Mary wrote for her father, and now and then was consulted; and she was always grateful for whatever made her feel herself of use. She was on kind and friendly terms with Rosita, but they did not become more intimate than at first. The Senora was swinging in a hammock half-asleep, with a cigarette between her lips, all the morning; and when she emerged from this torpid state, in a splendid toilette, she had too many more congenial friends often to need her step-daughter in her visits, her expeditions to lotteries, and her calls on her old friends the nuns. On a fast-day, or any other occasion that kept her at home, she either arranged her jewels, discussed her dresses, or had some lively chatter, which she called learning English. She coaxed, fondled, and domineered prettily over Mr. Ponsonby; and he looked on amused, gratified her caprices, caressed her, and seemed to regard her as a pretty pet and plaything.
THE TWO PENDRAGONS.
The red dragon and the white,
Hard together gan they smite,
With mouth, paw, and tail,
Between hem was full hard batail.
The History of Merlin.
Spring was on the borders of summer, when one afternoon, as Clara sat writing a note in the drawing-room, she heard a tap at the door of the little sitting-room, and springing to open it, she beheld a welcome sight.
‘Louis! How glad I am! Where do you come from?’
‘Last from the station,’ said Louis.
‘What makes you knock at that door, now the drawing-room is alive?’
’I could not venture on an unceremonious invasion of Mrs. James Frost’s territory.’
‘You’ll find no distinction of territory here,’ laughed Clara. ’It was a fiction that we were to live in separate rooms, like naughty children. Does not the drawing-room look nice?’