“Yes,” rejoined Richard, “she is to be my private amanuensis, and shall let you know of our welfare, and now, I suppose, we must go.”
It was a very pleasant ride to Edith, pleasanter than when she came with Arthur, but a slight headache made her drowsy, and leaning on Richard’s arm she fell asleep, nor woke until West Shannondale was reached. The carriage was in waiting for them, and Victor sat inside. He had come ostensibly to meet his master, but really to see the kind of specimen he was bringing to the aristocratic halls of Collingwood.
Long and earnest had been the discussion there concerning the little lady; Mrs. Matson, the housekeeper, sneering rather contemptuously at one who heretofore had been a servant at Brier Hill. Victor, on the contrary, stood ready to espouse her cause, thinking within himself how he would teach her many points of etiquette of which he knew she must necessarily be ignorant; but firstly he would, to use his own expression, “see what kind of metal she was made of.”
Accordingly his first act at the depot was to tread upon her toes, pretending he did not see her, but Edith knew he did it purposely, and while her black eyes blazed with anger, she exclaimed,
“You wretch, how dare you be so rude?”
Assisting Richard into the carriage, Victor was about to turn away, leaving Edith to take care of herself, when with all the air of a queen, she said to him,
“Help me in, sir. Don’t you know your business!”
“Pardonnez, moi,” returned Victor, speaking in his mother tongue, and bowing low to the indignant child, whom he helped to a seat by Richard.
An hour’s drive brought them to the gate of Collingwood, and Edith was certainly pardonable if she did cast a glance of exultation in the direction of Brier Hill, as they wound up the gravelled road and through the handsome grounds of what henceforth was to be her home.
“I guess Mrs. Atherton will be sorry she acted so,” she thought, and she was even revolving the expediency of putting on airs and not speaking to her former mistress, when the carriage stopped and Victor appeared at the window all attention, and asking if he should “assist Miss Hastings to alight.”
In the door Mrs. Matson was waiting to receive them, rubbing her gold-bowed spectacles and stroking her heavy silk with an air which would have awed a child less self-assured than Edith. Nothing grand or elegant seemed strange or new to her. On the contrary she took to it naturally as if it were her native clement, and now as she stepped upon the marble floor of the lofty hall she involuntarily cut a pirouette, exclaiming, “Oh, but isn’t this jolly! Seems as if I’d got back to Heaven. What a splendid room to sing in,” and she began to warble a wild, impassioned air which made Richard pause and listen, wondering whence came the feeling which so affected him carrying him back to the hills of Germany.