“How I wish Mr. Waymark was here!” Ida said to her grandfather, as they stood together, watching the feast. “He would enjoy it. We must give him a full account to-morrow, mustn’t we?”
“I forgot,” replied the other. “I had a note from him this morning, saying he thought he shouldn’t be able to come.”
The first shadow of disappointment which this day had brought fell upon the girl’s countenance. She made no reply, and presently went to help one or the youngest children, who had spilt her tea and was in evident distress.
After tea the organ struck up again, and again there was dancing on the lawn. Then a gathering of flowers by Ida and Miss Hurst, and one given to each of the children, with injunctions to put it in water on reaching home, and keep it as long as possible in memory of the day. Already the sun was westering, and Litany Lane must be reached before dusk.
“Poor children!” Ida sighed to herself. “If they had but homes to go to!” And added, in her thought, “We shall see, we shall see!”
Every bit as joyous as the ride out was the return to town. With foresight, Ida made the two youngest sit on each side of her; soon the little heads were drooping in her lap, subdued by the very weariness of bliss. Miss Hurst had offered to accompany Ida, that she might not have to come back alone, but Ida wanted her friends all to herself, and was rewarded by the familiarity with which they gossipped to her all the way.
“Hands up, all those who haven’t enjoyed themselves!” she exclaimed, just as they were entering the noisy streets.
There was a moment’s doubt, then a burst of merry laughter.
“Hands up, all those who would like to come again!”
All held up both arms—except the two children who were asleep.
“Well, you’ve all been good, and I’m very pleased with you, and you shall come again!”
It was the culmination of the day’s delight. For the first time in their lives the children of Litany Lane and Elm Court had something to look forward to.
A LATE REVENGE
Ida clung to the possibility of Waymark’s paying his usual visit on the Sunday, but she was disappointed. This absence had no reason beyond Waymark’s choice. It was the last Sunday but one of the month; a week more, and he must keep his word with Mr. Woodstock. The evil day had been put off, and to what purpose? There had been some scarcely confessed hope. Maud’s sudden departure from England, and her strange letter, might perhaps mean a change in her which would bring about his freedom; he himself might possibly be driven by his wretchedness to the point of writing to her in a way which would hasten her decision, if indeed she were doubting.