She coloured scarlet, but answered boldly, “There was something that I know father did not want anyone but mother to see.”
“Of course there is much,” said her uncle, gravely—“much that I am fitter to judge, of than any little girl.”
Words cannot express the offence thus given to Janet. Something swelled in her throat as if to suffocate her, but there could be no reply, and to burst out crying would only make him think her younger still; so as he turned to his mournful task, she ensconced herself in a high-backed chair, and watched him from under her dark brows.
She might comfort herself by the perception that he was less likely than even herself to recognise the magnum bonum. He would scarcely have thought it honourable to cast a glance upon the medical papers, and pushing them aside from where she had pulled them forward, searched till he had found a long cartridge-paper envelope, which he laid on the table behind him while he shut up the bureau, and Janet, by cautiously craning up her neck, managed to read that on it was written “Will of Joseph Brownlow, Executors: Mrs. Caroline Otway Brownlow, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Brownlow.”
Her uncle then put both that and the keys in his pocket, either not seeing her, or not choosing to notice her.
CHAPTER IV. THE STRAY CHICKENS.
But when our father came not here,
I thought if we could find the sea
We should be sure to meet him there,
And once again might happy be.-Ballad.
“What was Dr. Lucas saying to you?” asked Carey, sitting up in bed after her breakfast.
“He said, my dear, that you were really well now,” said Mrs. Lucas, tenderly; “and that you only wanted rousing.”
She clasped her hands together.
“Yes, I know it. I have been knowing it all yesterday and last night. It hasn’t been right of me, keeping you all this time, and not facing it.”
“I don’t think you could, my dear.”
“Not at first. It seems to me like having been in a whirlpool, and those two went down in it.” She put her hands to her temples. “But I must do it all now, and I will. I’ll get up now. Oh! dear, if they only would let me come down and go about quietly.” Then smiling a piteous smile. “It is very naughty, but of all things I dread the being cried over and fondled by Ellen!”
Mrs. Lucas shook her head, though the tears were in her eyes, and bethought her whether she could caution Mrs. Robert Brownlow not to be too demonstrative; but it was a delicate matter in which to interfere, and after all, whatever she might think beforehand, Caroline might miss these tokens of feeling.
She had sat up for some hours the evening before, so that there was no fear of her not being strong enough to get up as she proposed; but how would it be when she left her room, and beheld all that she could not have realised?