‘Did I say I disliked anything?’ said Lucy. ’Oh! I know what it was. I do not like going to a large town, where we can only walk in the streets, and go out shopping every day, and the boys have nothing to amuse them. And it is worst of all to go to a place where Papa and Mamma have been before, and know all the people; we go out to tea half the days we are there, or to dinner, or have company at home, and I never get a quiet evening’s reading with Papa, and Allan has a very great dislike to company.’
As Lucy finished her speech they came to the Vicarage; and as they opened the door, Meg Merrilies came purring out to meet Dora. They looked round for Fido, in order to keep the peace between the two enemies, but he was nowhere to be seen, and Dora remembered to have seen him with Harriet, just as they left the rest of the party at Mr. Turner’s door; so dismissing him from their minds, they went to finish their walk in the garden, where Helen gave Lucy a full description of all the beauties of Dykelands, and the perfections of its inhabitants; and finding her an attentive and obliging listener, talked herself into a state of most uncommon good humour and amiability for the rest of the evening. On her side, Lucy, though she had no particular interest in the Stauntons, and indeed had never heard their name before Helen’s visit to them, was really pleased and amused, for she had learnt to seek her pleasures in the happiness of other people.
If Helen had not been too much offended by Elizabeth’s disregard of her counsel to think of anything but her own dignity, and had waited to remind Katherine of her argument with her, the latter might perhaps have taken the safest course, for it was not without many qualms of conscience that she ascended the stairs to Mrs. Turner’s drawing-room.
There was no one in the room; and as soon as the page had closed the door, Elizabeth exclaimed, ’I declare, Anne, there is the bone of contention itself—St. Augustine in his own person! Oh! look at King Ethelbert’s square blue eye; and, Kate, is not this St. Austin’s Hill itself in the distance?’
‘Nonsense, Lizzie!’ said Katherine, crossly; ’you know it is no such thing. It was in the pattern.’
‘I assure you it is round, and exactly the colour of St. Austin’s,’ said Elizabeth; ‘there can be no doubt about it.’
Elizabeth’s criticisms were here cut short by the entrance of Mrs. Turner and her daughter, ready dressed for the evening’s excursion.
‘Mrs. Turner,’ said Elizabeth, with all the politeness she was capable of towards that lady, ’we are come to claim your kind offer of taking us to the Mechanics’ Institute this evening.’
‘Oh, my dear Miss Lizzie,’ cried Mrs. Turner, ’I am so delighted to have the honour, you cannot think! It is my nephew, Augustus Mills, who lectures to-night. Most talented young man, poor fellow, is Augustus—never without a book in his hand; quite in your line, Miss Lizzie.’