’And there could not have been the same meaning in his eye when he looked at you, as when he looked at Harriet,’ said Helen.
‘Oh no, I hope not,’ said Anne.
’And you understood it a little better than one who can only feel personal inconvenience,’ said Elizabeth; ’but how can I blame Harriet when I was the occasion of her fault? it is a thing I can never bear to think of.’
As Elizabeth said this, they came to a shop where Anne wished to buy some little presents for some children in the village at home, who, she said, would value them all the more for not being the production of the town nearest them. They pursued their search for gay remnants of coloured prints, little shawls, and pictured pocket-handkerchiefs, into the new town, and passed by Mr. Higgins’s shop, the window of which was adorned with all the worst caricatures which had found their way to Abbeychurch, the portraits of sundry radical leaders, embossed within a halo of steel-pens, and a notice of a lecture on ‘Personal Respectability,’ to be given on the ensuing Friday at the Mechanics’ Institute, by the Rev. W. Pierce, the Dissenting preacher.
Mr. Higgins appeared at the shop door, for the express purpose, as it seemed, of honouring Miss Merton and Miss Woodbourne each with a very low bow.
‘There, Helen, is my punishment,’ said Elizabeth; ’since you are desirous of poetical justice upon me.’
‘Not upon you,’ said Helen, ‘only upon Harriet.’
‘Harriet has lost Fido,’ said Elizabeth.
Here Rupert came to meet them, and no more was said on the subject.
Rupert obeyed his sister tolerably well during most of the day, though he was sorely tempted to ask Elizabeth to send Anne an abstract, in short-hand, of the lecture on Personal Respectability; but he refrained, for he was really fond of his cousin, and very good-natured, excepting when his vanity was offended.
Anne however was in a continual fright, for he delighted in tormenting her by going as near the dangerous subject as he dared; and often, when no one else thought there was any danger, she knew by the expression of his eye that he had some spiteful allusion on his lips. Besides, he thought some of the speeches he had made in the morning too clever to be wasted on his mother and sister, when his cousins were there to hear them, and Anne could not trust to his forbearance to keep them to himself all day, so that she kept a strict watch upon him.
In the evening, however, Mr. Woodbourne called her and Helen to play some Psalm tunes from which he wanted to choose some for the Church. He spoke to her in a way which made her hope that he did not think her quite foolish, but she would have been glad to stay and keep Rupert in order. However, she was rejoiced to hear Elizabeth propose to him to play at chess, and she saw them sit down very amicably.
This proposal, however, proved rather unfortunate, for Elizabeth was victorious in the first battle, the second was a drawn game, and Rupert lost the third, just as he thought he was winning it, from forgetting to move out the castle’s pawn after castling his king. He could not bear to be conquered, and pushed away the chess-board rather pettishly.