DRIFTING INTO DANGER
On Thursday, the quiet country household was stirred through all its fibres with the thought of Roger’s coming home. Mrs. Hamley had not seemed quite so well, or quite in such good spirits for two or three days before; and the squire himself had appeared to be put out without any visible cause. They had not chosen to tell Molly that Osborne’s name had only appeared very low down in the mathematical tripos. So all that their visitor knew was that something was out of tune, and she hoped that Roger’s coming home would set it to rights, for it was beyond the power of her small cares and wiles.
On Thursday, the housemaid apologized to her for some slight negligence in her bedroom, by saying she had been busy scouring Mr Roger’s rooms. ’Not but what they were as clean as could be beforehand; but mistress would always have the young gentlemen’s rooms cleaned afresh before they came home. If it had been Mr Osborne, the whole house would have had to be done; but to be sure he was the eldest son, so it was but likely.’ Molly was amused at this testimony to the rights of heirship; but somehow she herself had fallen into the family manner of thinking that nothing was too great or too good for ‘the eldest son.’ In his father’s eyes, Osborne was the representative of the ancient house of Hamley of Hamley, the future owner of the land which had been theirs for a thousand years. His mother clung to him because they two were cast in the same mould, both physically and mentally—because he bore her maiden name. She had indoctrinated Molly with her faith, and, in spite of her amusement at the housemaid’s speech, the girl visitor would have been as anxious as any one to show her feudal