‘Why, blackbirds have but two legs,’ said Helen, looking mystified; ‘what did he mean’?’
‘That is exactly what Kate said,’ said Elizabeth; ’but really I thought you were sharper, Helen. Cannot you guess?’
‘Not in the least,’ said Helen.
‘That Evans was clipping the hedges,’ said Anne.
Elizabeth and Anne indulged in a good laugh at Helen, as much as at Ambrose, and presently Elizabeth said, ’Well, but, Anne, where is your crime?’
‘Oh! I thought you had remembered, and would spare me,’ said Anne.
‘But we have not,’ said Elizabeth; ‘so now for it.’
‘Then if I am to tell,’ said Anne, ’do not you recollect that I began to tell Rupert the story in the middle of dinner, when all the servants were there?’
‘O Anne, I never fancied you such a goose!’ said Elizabeth.
‘My delinquencies made very little impression on you, then,’ said Anne; ’I went on very fluently with the story till just as I had pronounced the words, “two-legged blackbirds,” I saw Uncle Woodbourne’s eye upon me, as he sat just opposite, with all its cold heavy sternness of expression, and at the same moment I heard a strange suppressed snort behind my chair.’
‘Poor creature!’ said Elizabeth; ‘but you certainly deserved it.’
‘I was ready to sink under the table,’ said Anne; ’I did not dare to look up to Papa or Mamma, and I have been very much obliged to Mamma ever since for never alluding to that terrible dinner.’
’It is a regular proof that Fun is one of the most runaway horses in existence,’ said Elizabeth; ’very charming when well curbed, but if you give him the rein—’
‘Yes, I have been learning that by sad experience all my life,’ said Anne, with a sigh.
‘You will never be silly enough to give him up, though,’ said Elizabeth.
‘Silly, do you call it?’ said Helen.
‘People think so differently on those matters,’ said Anne.
’Yes, but a “spirit full of glee” is what I think the most delightful thing in the world,’ said Elizabeth, ‘and so do you.’
’Yes, in old age, when its blitheness has been proved to be something beyond animal spirits,’ said Anne.
’And it is right that people should have animal spirits in their youth,’ said Elizabeth, ’not grey heads on green shoulders, like some people of my acquaintance.—Do not be affronted, Helen; I dare say your head will grow greener all your life, it is better to-day than it was on Saturday morning.’
‘But the worst of it is,’ said Anne, ’that I believe it is very silly of me, but I am afraid Uncle Woodbourne has always thought me a most foolish girl ever since, and I do not like the idea of it.’
‘Who would?’ said Elizabeth; ’I am afraid I cannot tell you what he thinks of your sense, but of this I am sure, that he must think you the choicest damsel of his acquaintance, and wish his daughters were more like you.’