‘Still, my dear,’ said Mrs. Woodbourne, ’I scarcely think that we can take him; I cannot have him sitting with me, among the people whom we have invited, and he will certainly grow tired and restless.’
‘I do not think his being tired just at last will signify,’ said Elizabeth; ’he will attend at first, I am sure, and it is a thing he must never forget all his life. I will take care of him and Winifred, and Dora can behave well without being watched.’
‘Very well, my dear,’ said Mrs. Woodbourne in her plaintive voice, ’I shall be glad for him to go, if you can undertake to keep him in order, but you must take care you do not tire yourself. You will have almost too much to do afterwards, and you must not let yourself be harassed by his restlessness.’
‘Oh no, Mamma, thank you,’ said Elizabeth, ’he will not fidget, and I am not afraid of anything in the summer, and on such a great day as to-morrow. I could walk to Johnny Groat’s house, and take care of fifty children, if need were.’
Edward was called, examined as to his reasons for wishing to go to the Consecration, made to promise to behave well, and sent back in high glee to play with Winifred. Elizabeth and Dorothea then followed the others up-stairs to prepare for the walk.
‘It is very strange,’ remarked Mrs. Woodbourne, as they left the room, ’that Elizabeth can manage the children so much better than anyone else can; they always like best to be with her, though she always makes them mind her, and Kate is much more what people would call good-natured.’
‘Do you not think Lizzie good-natured?’ said Lady Merton, rather surprised.
‘Oh yes, indeed I do,’ said Mrs. Woodbourne, ’she is a most kind-hearted creature. I really believe there is nothing she would not do for the children or me, I do not know what would become of me without her: but you know her way of speaking, she does not mean any harm; but still when people are not used to her, it vexes them; indeed I did not mean to say anything against her, she is a most excellent creature, quite her Papa’s right hand.’
’Horace grew almost too much for her to manage before he went to school, did not he?’ said Lady Merton.
‘Poor little boy!’ said Mrs. Woodbourne, ’we miss him sadly, with his merry face and droll ways. You know, he was always a very high-spirited child, but Lizzie could always make him mind her in the end, and he was very obedient to his papa and me. Edward is a quiet meek boy, he has not his brother’s high spirits, and I hope we shall keep him at home longer.’
‘Horace is certainly very young for a school-boy,’ said Lady Merton; ’Rupert was ten years old when he went to Sandleford, but Sir Edward afterwards regretted that he had not gone there earlier, and the little boys are very well taken care of there.’
‘Yes, Mr. Woodbourne said everything looked very comfortable,’ said Mrs. Woodbourne, sighing; ’and I suppose he must rough it some time or other, poor little fellow, so that it may be as well to begin early.’