‘I wish my uncle all good.’
‘I see it now,’ she said, holding his hand between both of hers. ’It is my fault. I fostered our family pride. May God take away the sin from us both!’
The words were hardly articulate through tears, and perhaps James did not hear. He hurried Clara down the garden and into the carriage, and she had her last nod from Miss Faithfull at the open window. Miss Mercy was at the station, whither school-hours had hindered James from accompanying them, but where they found Lord Ormersfield and Louis.
The warm-hearted little woman was all tears and smiles. ’Oh! dear Mrs. Frost, I am so sorry, and yet it is selfish. I am so happy! but where shall we find such another neighbour?’
‘Come and see us. You know you are to persuade your sister.’
‘Ah!’ She shook her head. ’Salome is hard to move. But you—you are such a traveller—you will come to see Mr. James?’
’I’m eighty to-morrow: I little expect to make any more journeys except one, Mercy. I never look to see poor Northwold more; but it has been a place of blessings to me, and you have been one of them. Don’t think I’m too glad to go away, but I cannot but be thankful that my dear boy is bringing me home to lay me down where my father and his father lie.’
It was said with that peculiar cheerfulness with which happy old age can contemplate the end of the pilgrimage, and she looked at Louis with a sunny smile.
When silent time, wi’ lightly foot,
Had trod on thirty years,
I sought again my native land
Wi’ mony hopes and fears.
As I drew near my ancient pile,
My heart beat a’ the way;
The place I passed seemed yet to speak
Of some dear former day.
Some pensy chiels, a new-sprung race,
Wad next their welcome pay;
* * * * * * * *
But sair on ilka well-kenned face
I missed the youthful bloom.
Oliver had sent orders to his mother to sleep in London, and proceed the next morning by a train which would arrive at about two o’clock.
On that eventful morning, Clara was the prey of Mrs. Beckett, Marianne, and the French milliner, and in such a flounced glace silk, such a lace mantle, and such a flowery bonnet was she arrayed, that Lord Ormersfield bowed to her as a stranger, and Louis talked of the transformations of the Giraffe. ‘Is it not humiliating,’ she said, ’to be so altered by finery? You might dress Isabel for ever, and her nobleness would surmount it all.’
‘If you are not the rose, at least you have lived near the rose,’ said Louis. ’You don’t fall quite short of the character of Miss Dynevor.’
‘I wish I were going to school,’ said Clara, as they passed along familiar streets; ‘then, at least, some one would pity me.’