‘Unluckily,’ said Anne, ’the evident fabrication of the latter part of that speech destroys our belief in the beginning of it.’
‘No, no,’ said Elizabeth, ’it is only the most promising, not the most performing. No one can doubt of Rupert’s promises!’
‘Rupert, you always do talk such nonsense,’ said Katherine.
‘Many thanks for the compliment, Lady Kate,’ said Rupert, with a bow; ’considering how my intelligence is received, I think I shall spare it in future. I have a letter and parcel from Master Horatio in my portmanteau, and they may speak for themselves, if I have not lost my keys, as I said before.’
‘O Rupert!’ cried Anne, ’how could you lose them again, after all the pains Mamma took to save them?’
‘Indeed, Anne, I did behave better than usual,’ said Rupert; ’I kept them safe till yesterday, I assure you. I wish you would come and give me the carriage keys; perhaps some of them may unlock the portmanteau.’
Anne did not think they would; she said they had all been tried twice before; but Rupert would not be satisfied till the experiment had been repeated once more; and long after all the other girls were gone to bed, he kept his sister up, looking out some things which had been brought from Merton Hall for him, while he sat by recounting all his adventures in Scotland. Anne was much delighted to listen, and very glad to have her brother with her again; but perhaps, if he had not been quite so much engrossed by his own affairs, he would have seen that she looked very tired, and have remembered that it was much later than her usual bed-time.
While Katherine and Helen were undressing, the former began:
‘Helen, I wish you had gone, it was such fun!’
‘Was it?’ said Helen. ’I thought Lizzie did not seem much gratified.’
‘Lizzie? Oh no,’ said Katherine; ’she only hung her head and looked vexed, though there were such a number of people, all so civil and bowing—Mr. Wilkins, and the Greens, and Mr. Higgins.’
‘Did Mr. Higgins bow to you and Lizzie?’ exclaimed Helen.
‘Yes, that he did,’ said Katherine triumphantly; ’and a very polite bow he made, I assure you, Helen. I was quite glad to see him; I hope he is coming round.’
‘How did Lizzie like it?’ asked Helen.
‘Oh! she is so odd, you know,’ said Katherine; ’she seemed really quite angry; I jogged her once or twice to make her look up, but she shook me off quite crossly; I thought she would have been pleased.’
‘I should think few things would vex her much more,’ said Helen.
‘Well,’ said Katherine, ’Willie once told me that some people think Lizzie very proud and disdainful, and I really begin to believe so too.’
‘Oh no, Kate,’ said Helen; ‘I am sure she is not proud, it is only—’
‘Mercy, Helen!’ here interrupted Kate, ’what are you doing to your hair?’
‘Curling it,’ replied Helen, in her composed manner.