“What are you going to do for Miss Keeves?” asked Harold.
“It’s so difficult to decide off-hand,” his step-mother replied.
“Can’t you think of anything, father?” persisted Harold.
“It’s scarcely in my line,” answered Montague, glancing at his wife as he spoke.
Harold looked inquiringly at Mrs Devitt.
“It’s so difficult to promise her anything till one has seen her,” she remarked.
“Then why not have her down?” asked Harold.
“Yes, why not?” echoed his brother.
“She can get here and back again in a day,” added Harold, as his eyes sought his review.
“Very well, then, I’ll write and suggest Friday,” said Mrs Devitt, not too willingly taking up a pen.
“You can always wire and put her off, if you want to do anything else,” remarked her sister.
“Won’t you send her her fare?” asked Harold.
“Is that necessary?” queried Mrs Devitt.
“Isn’t it usual?”
“I can give it to her when she comes,” said Mrs Devitt, who hated parting with money, although, when it was a question of entertaining the elect of Melkbridge, she spent her substance lavishly.
Thus it came about that a letter was written to Miss Annie Mee, Brandenburg College, Aynhoe Road, West Kensington Park, London, W., saying that Mrs Devitt would expect Miss Keeves, for an interview, by the train that left Paddington for Melkbridge at ten on Friday next; also, that she would defray her third-class travelling expenses.
The following Friday morning, Mavis Keeves sprang from bed on waking. It was late when she had gone to sleep the previous night, for she had been kept up by the festivities pertaining to breaking-up day at Brandenburg College, and the inevitable “talk over” the incidents of the event with Miss Helen and Miss Annie Mee, which conversation had been prolonged till nearly twelve o’clock; but the excitement of travelling to the place of her birth, and the certainty of getting an engagement in some capacity or another (Mavis had no doubt on this point) were more than enough to curtail her slumbers. She had fallen asleep laughing to herself at the many things which had appealed to her sense of humour during the day, and it was the recollection of some of these which made her smile directly she was awake. She tubbed and dressed quickly, although she had some bother with her hair, which, this morning, seemed intent on defying the efforts of her fingers. Having dressed herself to her somewhat exigent satisfaction, she went downstairs, passing the doors of those venerable virgins, the Misses Helen and Annie Mee, as she descended to the ground-floor, on which was the schoolroom. This was really two rooms, but the folding doors, which had once divided the apartment, had long since been removed from their hinges; they were now rotting in the strip of garden behind the house.