The little family raft put forth from the haven of shelter into the stormy waves. The first experience was, as Jock said, that large rooms and country clearness had been demoralising, or, as Babie averred, the bad taste and griminess of the Drake remains were invincible, for when the old furniture and pictures were all restored to the old places, the tout ensemble was so terribly dingy and confined that the mother could hardly believe that it was the same place that had risen in her schoolgirl eyes as a vision of home brightness. Armine was magnanimously silent, but what would be the effect on Allen, who had been heard of at Gibraltar, and was sure to return before the case was heard in court?
“We must give up old associations, and try what a revolution will do,” Mother Carey said.
“Hurrah!” cried Babie; “I was feeling totally overpowered by that awful round table, but I thought it was the very core of mother’s heart.”
“So did I,” said the mother herself, “when I remember how we used to sit round with the lamp in the middle, and spin the whole table when we wanted a drawer on the further side. But it won’t bring back those who sat there! and now the light falls anywhere but where it is wanted, and our goods get into each other’s way! Yes, Babie, you may dispose of it in the back drawing-room and bring in your whole generation of little tables.”
There was opportunity for choice, for the house was somewhat over-full of furniture, since besides the original plenishing of the Pagoda, all that was individual property had been sent from Belforest, and this included a great many choice and curious articles, small and great, all indeed that any one cared much about, except the more intrinsically valuable gems of art. It had been all done between Messrs. Wakefield, Gould, and Richards, who had sent up far more than Mrs. Brownlow had marked, assuring her that she need not scruple to keep it.
So by the time twilight came on the second evening, when the whole family were feeling exceedingly bruised, weary, and dusty, such a transformation had been effected that each of the four, on returning from the much needed toilet, stood at the door exclaiming-"This is something like;” and when John arrived, a little later, he looked round with-
“This is almost as nice as the Folly. How does Mother Carey manage to make things like herself and nobody else?”
Allen’s comment a few days later was-"What’s the use of taking so much trouble about a dingy hole which you can’t make tolerable even if you were to stay here.”
“I mean it to be my home till my M.D. son takes a wife and turns me out.”
“Why, mother, you don’t suppose that ridiculous will can hold water?”
“You know I don’t contest it.”
“I know, but they will not look at it for a moment in the Probate Court.”
Some chance friend whom he had met abroad had suggested this to Allen, and he had gradually let his wish become hope, and his hope expectation, till he had come home almost secure of a triumph, which would reinstate his mother, and bring Elvira back to him, having learnt the difference between true friends and false.