The old man began to prepare her for the child’s being shy and wild, though perhaps her aunt was too particular with her, and expected too much. Perhaps she would be homesick, he said, so wistfully that it was plain that he did not know how to exist without his darling; but he was charmed with the invitation, and Caroline was pleased to see that he did not regard her as his grandchild’s rival, but as representing the cherished playmate of his youth.
You smile, their eager ways to see,
But mark their choice when they
To choose their sportive garb are free,
The moral of their play.
One curious part of the reticence of youth is that which relates to its comprehension of grown-up affairs. There is a smile with which the elders greet any question on the subject, half of wonder, half of amusement, which is perfectly intolerable to the young, who remain thinking that they are regarded as presumptuous and absurd, and thus will do anything rather than expose themselves to it again.
Thus it was that Mrs. Brownlow flattered herself that her children never put two and two together when she let them know of the discovery of their relationship. Partly she judged by herself. She was never in the habit of forecasting, and for so clever and spirited a woman, she thought wonderfully little. She had plenty of intuitive sense, decided rapidly and clearly, and could easily throw herself in other people’s thoughts, but she seldom reflected, analysed or moralised, save on the spur of the moment. She lived chiefly in the present, and the chief events of her life had all come so suddenly and unexpectedly upon her, that she was all the less inclined to guess at the future, having always hitherto been taken by surprise.
So, when Jock observed in public-"Mother, they say at Kencroft that the old miser ought to leave you half his money. Do you think he will?” it was with perfect truth that she answered, “I don’t think at all about it.”
It was taken in the family as an intimation that she would not talk about it, and while she supposed that the children drew no conclusions, they thought the more.
Allen was gone to Eton, but Janet and Bobus had many discussions over their chemical experiments, about possibilities and probabilities, odd compounds of cleverness and ignorance.
“Mother must be heir-at-law, for her grandmother was eldest,” said Janet.
“A woman can’t be heir-at-law,” said Bobus.
“The Salique law doesn’t come into England.”
“Yes it does, for Sir John Gray got Graysnest only last year, instead of the old man’s daughter.
“Then how comes the Queen to be Queen?”
“Besides,"-Bobus shifted his ground to another possibility-"when there’s nobody but a lot of women, the thing goes into abeyance among them.”