‘The Mechanics’ Institute, you mean,’ said Anne, ‘not Fido.’
‘Not Fido,’ said Elizabeth; ’but the rest of the story is out; I mean, it is not known who killed Cock Robin, and I do not suppose it ever will be; but the Mechanics’ Institute affair is in the newspaper, and it is off my mind, for I have had it all out with Papa. And, Anne, he was so very kind, that I do not know how to think of it. He made light of the annoyance to himself on purpose to console me, and—but,’ added she, smiling, while the tears came into her eyes again, ’I must not talk of him, or I shall go off into another cry, and not be fit for the reading those unfortunate children have been waiting for so long. Tell me, are my eyes very unfit to be seen?’
‘Not so very bad,’ said Anne.
‘Well, I cannot help it if they are,’ said Elizabeth; ’come down and let us read.’
They found Helen alone in the school-room, where she had been sitting ever since breakfast-time, thinking that the penny club was occupying Elizabeth most unusually long this morning.
‘Helen,’ said Elizabeth, as she came into the room, ’Papa knows the whole story, and I can see that he is as much pleased with your conduct as I am sure you deserve.’
All was explained in a few words. Helen was now by no means inclined to triumph in her better judgement, for, while she had been waiting, alone with her drawing, she had been thinking over all that had passed since the unfortunate Friday evening, wondering that she could ever have believed that Elizabeth was not overflowing with affection, and feeling very sorry for the little expression of triumph which she had allowed to escape her in her ill-temper on Saturday. ‘Lizzie,’ said she, ’will you forgive me for that very unkind thing I said to you?’
Elizabeth did not at first recollect what it was, and when she did, she only said, ’Nonsense, Helen, I never consider what people say when they are cross, any more than when they are drunk.’
Anne was very much diverted by the idea of Elizabeth’s experience of what drunken people said, or of drunkenness and ill-temper being allied, and her merriment restored the spirits of her cousins, and took off from what Elizabeth called the ’awfulness of a grand pardoning scene.’ Helen was then sent to summon the children to their lessons, which were happily always supposed to begin later on a Monday than on any other day of the week.
The study door was open, and as she passed by, her father called her into the room. ‘Helen,’ said he, ’Elizabeth tells me that you acted the part of a sensible and obedient girl the other evening, and I am much pleased to hear it.’
Helen stood for a few moments, too much overcome with delight and surprise to be able to speak. Mr. Woodbourne went on writing, and she bounded upstairs with something more of a hop, skip, and jump, than those steps had known from her foot since she had been an inhabitant of the nursery herself, thinking ’What would he say if he knew that I only refused to go, out of a spirit of opposition?’ yet feeling the truth of what Anne had said, that her father’s praise, rarely given, and only when well earned, was worth all the Stauntons’ admiration fifty times over.