‘You mean to say that I have been talking nonsense, Aunt Anne,’ said Elizabeth.
‘I say nothing of the kind, Lizzie,’ said her aunt; ’I only say that you are in the habit of splitting hairs.’
Elizabeth saw that her aunt was not pleased. She went to the chimney-piece, and employed herself in making a delicate piece of ixia get a better view of itself in the looking-glass. Presently she turned round, saying, ’Yes, Aunt Anne, I was very wrong; I was making a foolish pretence at refinement, to defend myself.’
’I did not mean to begin scolding you the very moment I came near you, Lizzie,’ said Lady Merton.
‘Indeed I wish you would, Aunt Anne,’ said Elizabeth; ’pray scold me from morning till night, there is no one who wants it more.’
‘My dear child, how can you say so?’ cried Mrs. Woodbourne.
‘Many thanks for the agreeable employment you propose to me, Lizzie,’ said Lady Merton.
’If Rupert docs not come to-night, I mean to undertake a little of that agreeable employment myself, when he arrives,’ said Elizabeth, ‘and to make Anne help me.’
’I believe Rupert is so fond of being scolded, that it only makes him worse,’ said Lady Merton.
‘Here are Papa and Uncle Edward coming back at last,’ said Katherine, who was, as usual, sitting in the window.
Mrs. Woodbourne looked greatly relieved; she had been for some time in trouble for the dinner, not being able to console herself in the way in which Elizabeth sometimes attempted to re-assure her in such cases—’Never mind, Mamma, the dinner is used to waiting.’
As soon as dinner was over, the girls proposed to walk to the new church, that Anne might see it at her leisure before the Consecration. The younger children were very urgent to be allowed to accompany them, but Mrs. Woodbourne would only consent to Dora’s doing so, on her eldest sister’s promise to return before her bed-time.
‘And, Mamma,’ said Elizabeth, as soon as this question was decided, and the other two children had taken out their basket of bricks at the other end of the room, ’have you settled whether Edward is to go to the Consecration to-morrow?’
‘I really think he is almost too young, my dear,’ said Mrs. Woodbourne; ‘you know it is a very long service.’
‘Oh! Mamma,’ said Dora, ’he is five years old now, and he says he will be very good, and he will be very much disappointed if he has to stay at home, now he has had his new frock and trousers; and Winifred and I are going.’
‘Really, Dora,’ said Elizabeth, ’I think he had better not go, unless he has some reason for wishing to do so, better than what you have mentioned.’
‘I believe he understands it all as well as we do,’ said Dora; ’we have all been talking about it in the nursery, this evening, at supper:—and you know, Mamma, he has quite left off being naughty in church.’