’I believe the actual impulse was given by a dispute between Lizzie and me on the date of chivalry,’ said Anne.
’And so Rupert’s friends, the Turners, are great authorities in history,’ said Sir Edward; ‘I never should have suspected it.’
‘Now I think of it,’ said Anne, ’it was the most ridiculous part of the affair, considering the blunder that Lizzie told me Mrs. Turner made about St. Augustine. What could we have been dreaming of?’
‘Midsummer madness,’ said Sir Edward.
‘But just tell me, Papa,’ said Anne, ’do you not think Helen quite the heroine of the story?’
‘I think Helen very much improved in appearance and manners,’ said Sir Edward; ’and I am quite willing to believe all that I see you have to tell me of her.’
‘Do not wait to tell it now, Anne,’ said Lady Merton, ’or Mrs. Woodbourne will not think us improved in appearance or manners. It is nearly six o’clock.’
‘I will keep it all for the journey home,’ said Anne, ’when Papa’s ears will be disengaged.’
‘And his tongue too, to give you a lecture upon Radicalism, Miss,’ said Sir Edward, with a fierce gesture, which drove Anne away laughing.
Elizabeth had finished dressing, a little too rapidly, and had gone to find Mrs. Woodbourne. ‘Well, Mamma,’ said she, as soon as she came into her room, ’Winifred has lived to say ‘the dog is dead’.’
‘What do you mean, my dear?’ said Mrs. Woodbourne.
‘The enemy is dead, Mamma,’ said Elizabeth; ’we found him drowned by the green meadow.’
‘Poor little fellow! your aunt will be very sorry,’ was kind Mrs. Woodbourne’s remark.
‘But now, Mamma,’ said Elizabeth, ’you may be quite easy about Winifred; he could not possibly have been mad.’
‘How could he have fallen in, poor little dog?’ said Mrs. Woodbourne.
’He must have strayed about upon the bridge while we were at the Mechanics’ Institute,’ said Elizabeth; ’it was all my fault, and I am afraid it is a very great distress to Lucy. Helen might well say mischief would come of our going.’
’I wish the loss of Fido was all the mischief likely to come of it, my dear,’ said Mrs. Woodbourne, with a sigh; ’I am afraid your papa will be very much annoyed by it, with so much as he has on his mind too.’
‘Ah! Mamma, that is the worst of it, indeed,’ said Elizabeth, covering her face with her hands; ‘if I could do anything—’
‘My dearest child,’ said Mrs. Woodbourne, ’do not go on making yourself unhappy, I am very sorry I said anything about your Papa; you know he cannot be angry with one who grieves so sincerely for what she has done amiss. I am sure you have learnt a useful lesson, and will be wiser in future. Now do put your scarf even, and let me pin this piece of lace straight for you, it is higher on one side than the other, and your band is twisted.’