Her thought was only the repining one: “the thorns go deep!” Poor child, had they yet gone deep enough? The patient may cry out, but the skilful surgeon will nevertheless probe on, till he has reached the hidden source of the malady.
On a soft hazy day in the beginning of February, the Knight Sutton carriage was on the road to Allonfield, and in it sat the Busy Bee and her father, both of them speaking far less than was their wont when alone together.
Mr. Geoffrey Langford took off his hat, so as to let the moist spring breeze play round his temples and in the thin locks where the silvery threads had lately grown more perceptible, and gazed upon the dewy grass, the tiny woodbine leaf, the silver “pussycats” on the withy, and the tasselled catkin of the hazel, with the eyes of a man to whom such sights were a refreshment—a sort of holiday—after the many springs spent in close courts of law and London smoke; and now after his long attendance in a warm dark sick-room. His daughter sat by him, thinking deeply, and her heart full of a longing earnestness which seemed as if it would not let her speak. She was going to meet her mother, whom she had not seen for so long a time; but it was only to be for one evening! Her father, finding that his presence was absolutely required in London, and no longer actually indispensable at Knight Sutton, had resolved on changing places with his wife, and she was to go with him and take her mother’s place in attending on Lady Susan St. Leger. They were now going to fetch Mrs. Geoffrey Langford home from the Allonfield station, and they would have one evening at Knight Sutton with her, returning themselves the next morning to Westminster.
They arrived at Allonfield, executed various commissions with which Mrs. Langford had been delighted to entrust Geoffrey; they ordered some new books for Frederick, and called at Philip Carey’s for some medicines; and then driving up to the station watched eagerly for the train.
Soon it was there, and there at length she was; her own dear self,—the dark aquiline face, with its sweetest and brightest of all expressions; the small youthful figure, so active, yet so quiet and elegant; the dress so plain and simple, yet with that distinguished air. How happy Beatrice was that first moment of feeling herself at her side!
“My dear! my own dear child!” Then anxiously following her husband with her eye, as he went to look for her luggage, she said, “How thin he looks, Queenie!”
“O, he has been doing so much,” said Busy Bee. “It is only for this last week he has gone to bed at all, and then only on the sofa in Fred’s room. This is the first time he has been out, except last Sunday to Church, and a turn or two round the garden with grandmamma.”
He came back before Queen Bee had done speaking. “Come, Beatrice,” said he to his wife, “I am in great haste to have you at home; that fresh face of yours will do us all so much good.”