She thought over it a good deal whilst Bennet was brushing her hair at night, feeling as if it had been a week-day, and as if it would be as difficult to begin a new fresh week on Monday morning, as it would a new day after sitting up a whole night. How far this was occasioned by Knight Sutton habits, and how far it was her own fault, was not what she asked herself, though she sat up for a long time musing on the change in her way of life, and scarcely able to believe that it was only last Sunday that she had been sitting with her mother over their fire at Rocksand. Enough had happened for a whole month. Her darling project was fulfilled; the airy castle of former days had become a substance, and she was inhabiting it: and was she really so very much happier? There she went into a reverie—but musing is not meditating, nor vague dreamings wholesome reflections; she went on sitting their, chiefly for want of energy to move, till the fire burnt low, the clock struck twelve, and Mrs. Frederick Langford exclaimed in a sleepy voice, “My dear, are you going to sleep there?”
Breakfast was nearly over on Monday morning, when a whole party of the Sutton Leigh boys entered with the intelligence that the great pond in Knight’s Portion was quite frozen over, and that skating might begin without loss of time.
“You are coming, are you not, Bee?” said Alex, leaning over the back of her chair.
“O yes,” said she, nearly whispering “only take care. It is taboo there,”—and she made a sign with her hand towards Mrs. Langford, “and don’t frighten Aunt Mary about Fred. O it is too late, Carey’s doing the deed as fast as he can.”
Carey was asking Fred whether he had ever skated, or could skate, and Fred was giving an account of his exploits in that line at school, hoping it might prove to his mother that he might be trusted to take care of himself since he had dared the danger before. In vain: the alarmed expression had come over her face, as she asked Alexander whether his father had looked at the ice.
“No,” said Alex, “but it is perfectly safe. I tried it this morning, and it is as firm as this marble chimney-piece.”
“He is pretty well to be trusted,” said his grandfather, “more especially as it would be difficult to get drowned there.”
“I would give a shilling to anyone who could drown himself there,” said Alex.
“The travelling man did,” exclaimed at once Carey, John, and Richard.
“Don’t they come in just like the Greek chorus?” said Beatrice, in a whisper to Fred, who gave a little laugh, but was too anxious to attend to her.
I thought he was drowned in the river,” said Alex.
“No, it was in the deep pool under the weeping willow, where the duckweed grows so rank in summer,” said Carey.
Uncle Geoffrey laughed. “I am sorry to interfere with your romantic embellishments, Carey, or with the credit of your beloved pond, since you are determined not to leave it behindhand with its neighbours.”