“Only think,” joined in the young lady, “how delightful it would be. I can just fancy you, mamma, sitting out on this lawn you talk of, on a summer’s day, and nursing your pinks and carnations, and listening to the nightingales, and Grandpapa and Grandmamma Langford, and Uncle and Aunt Roger, and the cousins coming walking in at any time without ringing at the door! And how nice to have Queen Bee and Uncle and Aunt Geoffrey all the vacation!”
“Without feeling as if we were robbing Knight Sutton,” said Mrs. Langford. “Why, we should have you a regular little country maid, Henrietta, riding shaggy ponies, and scrambling over hedges, as your mamma did before you.”
“And being as happy as a queen,” said Henrietta; “and the poor people, you know them all, don’t you, mamma?”
“I know their names, but my generation must have nearly passed away. But I should like you to see old Daniels the carpenter, whom the boys used to work with, and who was so fond of them. And the old schoolmistress in her spectacles. How she must be scandalized by the introduction of a noun and a verb!”
“Who has been so cruel?” asked Fred. “Busy Bee, I suppose.”
“Yes,” said Henrietta, “she teaches away with all her might; but she says she is afraid they will forget it all while she is in London, for there is no one to keep it up. Now, I could do that nicely. How I should like to be Queen Bee’s deputy.”
“But,” said Fred, “how does Beatrice manage to make grandmamma endure such novelties? I should think she would disdain them more than the old mistress herself.”
“Queen Bee’s is not merely a nominal sovereignty,” said Mrs. Langford.
“Besides,” said Henrietta, “the new Clergyman approves of all that sort of thing; he likes her to teach, and puts her in the way of it.”
>From this time forward everything tended towards Knight Sutton: castles in the air, persuasions, casual words which showed the turn of thought of the brother and sister, met their mother every hour. Nor was she, as Henrietta truly said, entirely averse to the change; she loved to talk of what she still regarded as her home, but the shrinking dread of the pang it must give to return to the scene of her happiest days, to the burial-place of her husband, to the abode of his parents, had been augmented by the tender over-anxious care of her mother, Mrs. Vivian, who had strenuously endeavoured to prevent her from ever taking such a proposal into consideration, and fairly led her at length to believe it out of the question.