“I did feel so hungry for you, Mother Carey. Mother, Janet said you would forgive me, and I thought if you were ever so angry, it would be true, and that would be nicer than Lisette, and, indeed, it was not so much my doing as Lisette’s.”
Whatever “it” was, Mother Carey had no hesitation in replying that she had no doubt it was Lisette’s fault.
“You see,” continued Elvira, “I never meant anything but to plague Allen a little at first. You know he had always been so tiresome and jealous, and always teased me when I wanted any fun-at least I thought so, and I did want to have my swing before he called me engaged to him again. I told Jock so, but then Lisette and Lady Flora, and old Lady Clanmacnalty went on telling me that you knew the money was mine all the time, and that it was only an accident that it came out before I was married.”
“Oh, Elvira, you could not have thought anything so wicked,” cried Babie.
“They all went on so, and made so sure,” said Elvira, hanging her head, “and I never did know the real way the will was found till Janet told me. Babie, if you had heard Lady Clanmacnalty clear her throat when people talked about the will being found, you would have believed she knew better than anyone.”
So it was. The girl, weak in character, and far from sensible, full of self-importance, and puffed up with her inheritance, had been easily blinded and involved in the web that the artful Lisette had managed to draw round her. She had been totally alienated from her old friends, and by force of reiteration had been brought to think them guilty of defrauding her. In truth, she was kept in a whirl of gaiety and amusement, with little power of realizing her situation, till the breach had grown too wide for the feeble will of a helpless being like her to cross it. Though she had flirted extensively, she had never felt capable of accepting any one of her suitors, and in these refusals she had been assisted by Lisette, who wanted to secure her for her brother, but thanks to warnings from Mr. Wakefield, and her husband’s sense of duty, durst not do so before she was of age.
Elvira’s one wish had been to visit San Ildefonso again. She had a strong yearning towards the lovely island home which she gilded in recollection with all the trails of glory that shine round the objects of our childish affections. Lisette always promised to take her, but found excuses for delay in the refitting of the yacht, while she kept the party wandering over Europe in the resorts of second-rate English residents. No doubt she wished to make the most of the enjoyments she could obtain, as Elvira’s chaperon and guardian, before resigning her even to her brother. At last the gambling habits into which her husband fell, for lack, poor man, of any other employment, had alarmed her, and she permitted her party to embark in the yacht where Gilbert Gould acted as captain.
They reached the island. It had become a coaling station. The bay where she remembered exquisite groves coming down to the white beach, was a wharf, ringing with the discordant shouts of negroes and cries of sailors. The old nurse was dead, and fictitious foster brothers and sisters were constantly turning up with extravagant claims.