‘That is all very well for those who have love,’ said Lily. ’Some have not who do their duty conscientiously—another word which I hate, by the bye.’
‘They have love in a rough coat, perhaps,’ said Alethea, ’and I should expect it soon to put on a smoother one.’
’Shall thought was his, in after time,
Thus to be hitched into a rhyme;
The simple sire could only boast
That he was loyal to his cost,
The banished race of kings revered,
And lost his land.’
The holidays arrived, and with them the three brothers, for during the first few weeks of the Oxford vacation Claude accompanied Lord Rotherwood on visits to some college friends, and only came home the same day as the younger ones.
Maurice did not long leave his sisters in doubt as to what was to be his reigning taste, for as soon as dinner was over, he made Jane find the volume of the Encyclopaedia containing Entomology, and with his elbows on the table, proceeded to study it so intently, that the young ladies gave up all hopes of rousing him from it. Claude threw himself down on the sofa to enjoy the luxury of a desultory talk with his sisters; and Reginald, his head on the floor, and his heels on a chair, talked loud and fast enough for all three, with very little regard to what the damsels might be saying.
‘Oh! Claude,’ said Lily, ’you cannot think how much we like Miss Weston, she lets us call her Alethea, and—’
Here came an interruption from Mr. Mohun, who perceiving the position of Reginald’s dusty shoes, gave a loud ‘Ah—h!’ as if he was scolding a dog, and ordered him to change them directly.
‘Here, Phyl!’ said Reginald, kicking off his shoes, ’just step up and bring my shippers, Rachel will give them to you.’
Away went Phyllis, well pleased to be her brother’s fag.
‘Ah! Redgie does not know the misfortune that hangs over him,’ said Emily.
‘What?’ said Reginald, ’will not the Baron let Viper come to the house?’
‘Worse,’ said Emily, ‘Rachel is going away.’
‘Rachel?’ cried Claude, starting up from the sofa.
‘Rachel?’ said Maurice, without raising his eyes.
‘Rachel! Rachel! botheration!’ roared Reginald, with a wondrous caper.
‘Yes, Rachel,’ said Emily; ’Rachel, who makes so much of you, for no reason that I could ever discover, but because you are the most troublesome.’
’You will never find any one to mend your jackets, and dress your wounds like Rachel,’ said Lily, ’and make a baby of you instead of a great schoolboy. What will become of you, Redgie?’
‘What will become of any of us?’ said Claude; ’I thought Rachel was the mainspring of the house.’
‘Have you quarrelled with her, Emily?’ said Reginald.
‘Nonsense,’ said Emily, ’it is only that her brother has lost his wife, and wants her to take care of his children.’