And the two young doctors were weary enough of the subject to rejoice in obedience to her.
The day was perfect except that poor Allen was pinned fast by his tyrant, all the others gave themselves up to the enjoyment of the moment. They understood the sham fight, and recognised all the corps, with Jock as their cicerone, they had a good place at the marching past, and Esther had the crowning delight of an excellent view of Captain Viscount Fordham with his company, and at the luncheon. Jock received an absolutely affectionate welcome from his old friends, who made as much of his mother and sister for his sake, as they did of the lovely Lady Fordham for her husband’s, finding them, moreover, much more easy to get on with.
CHAPTER XXXIX. THE TRUANT.
The bird was sitting in his cage
And heard what he did say;
He jumped upon the window sill,
“’Tis time I was away.”
There is a young lady in the drawing-room, ma’am,” said the maid, looking rather puzzled and uncertain, on the return of the party from the review.
“A stranger? How could you let her in?” said John.
At that moment a face appeared at the top of the stairs, a face set in the rich golden auburn that all knew so well, and half way up, Mrs. Brownlow was clasped by a pair of arms, and there was a cry, “Mother Carey, Mother Carey, I’m come home!”
“Elvira! my dear child! When-how did you come?”
“From the station, in a cab. I made her let me in, but I thought you were never coming back. Where’s Allen?”
“Allen will come in by-and-by,” said the astonished Mother Carey, who had been dragged into the drawing-room, where Elvira embraced Babie, and grasped the hands of the others.
“Oh, it is so nice,” she cried, then nestling back to Mother Carey.
“But where did you come from? Are you alone?”
“Yes, quite alone, Janet would not come with me after all.”
“Janet, my dear! Where is she?”
“Oh, not here-at Saratoga, or at New York. I thought she was coming with me, but when the steamer sailed she was not there, only there was a note pinned to my berth. I meant to have brought it, but it got lost somehow.”
“Where did you see her?”
“At the photographer’s at Saratoga. I should never have come if she had not helped me, but she said she knew you would take me home, and she wrote and took my passage and all. She said if I did not find you, Mr. Wakefield would know where you were, but I did so want to get home to you! Please, may I take off my things; I don’t want to be such a fright when Allen comes in.”
It was all very mysterious, but Elvira must be much altered indeed if her narrative did not come out in an utterly complicated and detached manner. She was altered certainly, for she clung most affectionately to Mother Carey and Barbara, when they took her upstairs. She had a little travelling-bag with her; the rest of her luggage would be sent from the station, she supposed, for she had taken no heed to it. She did so want to get home.