Then the train stopped, and there was a tumult of embracings and welcomes, in the midst of which Jock appeared, having just come by the down train.
“You’ll all come to dinner this evening?” entreated Caroline. “My love to Ellen. Tell her you must all of you come.”
It was a most delightsome barouche full that drove from the station. Jock took the reins, and turned over coachman and footman to the break, and in defiance of dignity, his mother herself sprang up beside him. The sky was blue, the hedges were budding with pure light-green above, and resplendent with rosy campion and white spangles of stitchwort below. Stars of anemone, smiling bunches of primrose, and azure clouds of bluebell made the young hearts leap as at that first memorable sight. Armine said he was ready to hurrah and throw up his hat, and though Elvira declared that she saw nothing to be so delighted about, they only laughed at her.
Gorgeous rhododendrons and gay azaleas rose in brilliant masses nearer the house, beds of hyacinths and jonquils perfumed the air, judiciously arranged parterres of gay little Van Thol tulips and white daisies flashed on the eyes of the arriving party, while the exquisite fresh green provoked comparisons with parched Africa.
Bobus was standing on the steps to receive them, and when they had crossed the hall, with due respect to its Roman mosaic pavement, they found the Popinjay bowing, dancing, and chattering for joy, and tea and coffee for parched throats in the favourite Dresden set in the morning room, the prettiest and cosiest in the house.
“How nice it is! We are all together except Janet,’ exclaimed Babie.
“And Janet is coming to us in London,” said her mother. “Did you see her on her way to Edinburgh boys?”
“No,” said Jock. “She never let us know she was there.”
“But I’ll tell you an odd thing I have just found out,” said Bobus. “It seems she came down here on her way, unknown to anyone, got out at the Woodside station, and walked across here. She told Brock that she wanted something out of the drawers of her library-table, of which the key had been lost, and desired him to send for Higg to break it open; but Brock wouldn’t hear of it. He said his Missus had left him in charge, and he could not be answerable to her for having locks picked without her authority-or leastways the Colonel’s. He said Miss Brownlow was in a way about it, and said as how it was her own private drawer that no one had a right to keep her out of, but he stood to his colours; he said the house was Mrs. Brownlow’s, and under his care, and he would have no tampering with locks, except by her authority or the Colonel’s. He even offered to send to Kenminster if she would write a note to my uncle, but she said she had not time, and walked off again, forbidding him to mention that she had been here.”
“Janet always was a queer fish!” said Jock.