“When she is excited, you mean,” interrupted Richard. “How are they in repose?”
“They are never there,” returned Victor. “They roll and turn and flash and sparkle, and light upon one so uncomfortably, that he begins to think of all the badness he ever did, and to wonder if those coals of fire can’t ferret out the whole thing.”
“I like her eyes,” said Richard, “but go on. Tell me of her complexion.”
“Black, of course,” continued Victor, “but smooth as glass, with just enough of red in it to make rouge unnecessary. On the whole I shouldn’t wonder if in seven or eight years’ time she’d be as handsome as the young lady of Collingwood ought to be.”
“How should she be dressed?” asked Richard, who knew that Victor’s taste upon such matters was infallible, his mother and sister both having been Paris mantua-makers.
“She should have scarlet and crimson and dark blue trimmed with black,” said Victor, adding that he presumed Mrs. Atherton would willingly attend to those matters.
Richard was not so sure, but he thought it worth the while to try, and he that night dispatched Victor to Brier Hill with a request that she would, if convenient, call upon him at once.
“Don’t tell her what I want,” he said, “I wish to surprise her with a sight of Edith.”
Victor promised obedience and set off for Brier Hill, where he found no one but Rachel, sitting before this kitchen fire, and watching the big red apples roasting upon the hearth.
“Miss Grace had started that morning for New York,” she said, “and the Lord only knew when she’d come home.”
“And as he probably won’t tell, I may as well go back,” returned Victor, and bidding Rachel send her mistress to Collingwood as soon as she should return, he bowed himself from the room.
As Rachel said, Grace had gone to New York, and the object of her going was to repair the wrong done to Edith Hastings, by taking her a second time from the Asylum, and bringing her back to Brier Hill. Day and night the child’s parting words, “You’ll be sorry sometime,” rang in her ears, until she could endure it no longer, and she astonished the delighted Rachel by announcing her intention of going after the little girl. With her to will was to do, and while Victor was reporting her absence to his master, she, half-distracted, was repeating the words of the matron,
“Has not been here at all, and have not heard from her either! What can it mean?”
The matron could not tell, and for several days Grace lingered in the city, hoping Arthur would appear, but as he failed to do this, she at last wrote to him at Geneva, and then, in a sad, perplexed state of mind, returned to Shannondale, wondering at and even chiding old Rachel for evincing so little feeling at her disappointment.
But old Rachel by this time had her secret which she meant to keep, and when at last Grace asked if any one had called during her absence, she mentioned the names of every one save Victor, and then tried very hard to think “who that ’tother one was. She knowed there was somebody else, but for the life of her she couldn’t”—Rachel did not quite dare to tell so gross a falsehood, and so at this point she concluded to think, and added suddenly,