‘Very right, as Eleanor would say,’ observed Claude.
’Very likely; but I don’t care for the Hetherington folks; they do not know how to make the holly in the church fit to be seen, and they will not sing the good old Christmas carols. Andrew Grey is worth all the Hetherington choir put together.’
’Possibly; but how are they to mend, if their Marquis contents himself with despising them?’ said Claude.
’That is too bad, Claude. When you heard how submissively I listened to the Baron, and know I mean to abide by what he said, you ought to condole with me a little, if you have not the grace to lament my absence on your own account. Why, I thought myself as regular a part of the feast as the mince-pies, and almost as necessary.’
Here a request for some music put an end to his lamentations. Lilias was vexed by the uncertainty about the ball, and was, besides, too tired to play with spirit. She saw that Emily was annoyed, and she felt ready to cry before the evening was over; but still she was proud of her exploit, and when, after the party was gone, Emily began to represent to her the estimate that her aunt was likely to form of her character, she replied, ’If she thinks the worse of me for carrying the broth to those poor old people, I am sure I do not wish for her good opinion.’
Mr. Mohun was not propitious when the question of Lily’s going to the ball was pressed upon him. He said that he thought her too young for gaieties, and, besides, that late hours never agreed with her, and he advised her to wait for the 30th of July.
Lilias knew that it was useless to say any more. She was much disappointed, and at the same time provoked with herself for caring about such a matter. Her temper was out of order on Christmas Day; and while she wondered why she could not enjoy the festival as formerly, with thoughts fitted to the day, she did not examine herself sufficiently to find out the real cause of her uncomfortable feelings.
The clear frost was only cold; the bright sunshine did not rejoice her; the holly and the mistletoe seemed ill arranged; and none of the pleasant sights of the day could give her such blitheness as once she had known.
She was almost angry when she saw that the Westons had left off their mourning, declaring that they did not look like themselves; and her vexation came to a height when she found that Alethea actually intended to go to the ball with Mrs. Carrington. The excited manner in which she spoke of it convinced Mr. Mohun that he had acted wisely in not allowing her to go, since the very idea seemed to turn her head.
‘Loving she is, and tractable though wild.’
In a day or two Lady Rotherwood and her daughter called at the New Court. On this occasion Lilias was employed in as rational and lady-like a manner as could be desired—in practising her music in the drawing-room; Emily was reading, and Ada threading beads.