I found a little house called Mount Eaton, on the Neme Heath side of Mycening, with a green field between it and the town, and the heath stretching out beyond, where Harold might rush out and shake his mane instead of feeling cribbed and confined. It wanted a great deal of painting and papering, which I set in hand at once, but of course it was a more lingering business than I expected. All the furniture and books that had belonged to my own mother had been left to me, and it had been settled by the valuation, when I knew little about it, what these were; and all that remained was to face Eustace’s disgust at finding how many of “the best things” it comprised. Hippolyta showed to advantage there. I believe she was rather glad to get rid of them, and to have the opportunity of getting newer and more fashionable ones; but, at any rate, she did it with a good grace, and made me welcome not only to my own property, but to remain at Arghouse till my new abode should be habitable, which I hoped would be a day or two after the wedding.
The great grievance was, however, that I had put myself and Dora into mourning, feeling it very sad that this last of the four exiles should be the only one of whose death I even knew. Eustace thought the whole connection ought to be forgotten, and that, whatever I might choose to do, it was intolerable that his sister, the present Miss Alison of Arghouse, should put on mourning for the wife of a disgraced fellow, a runaway parson turned sharper!
I am afraid I was not as patient or tolerant as I ought to have been, and it ended in the time of reprieve being put an end to, and Dora being carried off by the Horsmans to her new schoolroom in London, her resistance, and the home-truths she told her brother, only making him the more inexorable. Poor little girl! I do not like to think of the day I put her into Hippolyta’s hands.
It was a broiling evening in early June, very beautiful, but so hot that I dreaded the fatigue and all the adjuncts of the morrow’s wedding, when I was to be a bridesmaid, and should see my poor little Dora again. I was alone, for Eustace was sleeping at Therford Vicarage, but I had not time for sentiment over the old home and old gardens. I was turning out the old Indian cabinets, which were none of mine, though they had always been called so, and putting into cotton wool and paper all my treasures there, ready for transport, when a shadow fell on me from the open window. I looked up, and there stood Harold!
Oh, how unlike it was from the way in which we had met three years before as bewildered strangers! I do not think that sister could ever have met brother with more entire feeling that home, and trust, and staff, and stay were come back to her, than when I found Harold’s arm round me, his head bending down to me. I was off my own mind!