I saw that younger brother colour up to the roots of his bright hair as Jaquetta walked up the aisle, in her drawn black silk bonnet with the pink lining (made by herself); and I think she coloured too, for she was rosier than usual when we faced round in the corners of our pew.
We saw no more of them for a month, and a dainty, bridal-looking little lady appeared in the parsonage seat, with white ribbons in her straw bonnet, and modest little orange flowers in the frill round her pleasant face.
Mrs. Cradock she was, we heard; and not only Miss Prior, but Fulk, wanted us to call on her.
“What’s the use?” said I. “Farmers’ families are not on visiting terms with the ladies of the parsonage.”
Poor Jaquey uttered an “Oh dear!” but she and Fulk knew I was past moving in that mood.
However, one morning in the next week, in walked Fulk into the keeping-room, and the clergyman with him, and found Jaquey and me standing at the long table under the window, peeling and cutting up apples for apple-cheese.
“Mr. Cradock, my sister,” he said, just in the old tone when he brought a friend into our St. James’s-street drawing-room; and he hardly gave time for the shaking of hands before he had returned to the discussion about the change of ministry, just with the voice and animation I had not seen for two whole years.
We went on with our apples. For one thing, we were not wanted; for another, there was no fire in the little parlour, and the gentlemen both seemed to be enjoying the bright one that was burning on the hearth.
The only difficulty was that dinner time began to approach. The men could not be kept waiting; and I heard Alured awake from his sleep, pattering about and shouting; and as we began to gather up our apples one of the maids peeped in with a table-cloth over her arm.
Mr. Cradock saw, though Fulk did not, and said his wife would expect him; and then he looked most pleasantly to me, and said he was not at all wanted at home, while his wife was luxuriating in a settlement of furniture; but this was, he was assured, the last day of confusion, and to-morrow she would be quite ready for all who would be so good as to call on her.
I could only say I would do myself the pleasure; and then he still waited a moment to say that his brother Arthur could not recover from his dismay at his greeting to Miss Torwood.
“But,” he said, “the boy’s head was quite turned by the beauty of the country. He had been raving all day about the new poet, Alfred Tennyson, and I believe he thought he had walked into lotus-land.”
“Nearer the dragon of the Hesperides, perhaps,” said Fulk, laughing. “Is he with you now?”
“No; he has gone back to Oxford. He is in his second year; and whether he takes to medicine or to art is to be settled by common-sense or genius.”
“Oh, but if he has genius?” began Jaquetta eagerly.