‘I should say most likely it was manners for you,’ volunteered Harry, ‘and the extra you are most likely to acquire at Rotherwood.’
‘I’m so glad,’ said Mysie.
‘And you, Gill,’ inquired Primrose, ’what will you do? Mine is a copy-book, and Fergus’s is the spinning-top-engines, and rule of three; and Val’s is a crewel battle cushion and not crying; and Mysie’s is German stories and manners; and what’s yours, Gill?’
‘Gill is so grown up, she is too good to want an inside thing’ announced Primrose.
‘Oh, Prim, you dear little thing,’ cried both elder brother and sister, as they thought with a sort of pang of the child’s opinion of grown-up impeccability.
‘Harry is grown up more,’ put in Fergus; ‘why don’t you ask him?’
‘Because I know,’ said Primrose, with a pretty shyness, and as they pressed her, she whispered, ‘He is going to be a clergyman.’
There was a call for Mysie and Val from upstairs, and as the younger population scampered off, Gillian said to her brother—–
‘Is not it like “occupy till I come"?’
‘So I was thinking,’ said Harry gravely. ’But one must be as young as Mysie to throw one’s “inside things” into the general stock of resolutions.’
‘Yes,’ said Gillian, with uplifted eyes. ’I do—–I do hope to do something.’
Some great thing was her unspoken thought—–some great and excellent achievement to be laid before her mother on her return. There was a tale begun in imitation of Bessie Merrifield, called “Hilda’s Experiences”. Suppose that was finished, printed, published, splendidly reviewed. Would not that be a great thing? But alas, she was under a tacit engagement never to touch it in the hours of study.
CHAPTER II. ROCKQUAY
The actual moment of a parting is often softened by the confusion of departure. That of the Merrifield family took place at the junction, where Lady Merrifield with her brother remained in the train, to be carried on to London.
Gillian, Valetta, and Fergus, with their aunt, changed into a train for Rockstone, and Harry was to return to his theological college, after seeing Mysie and Primrose off with nurse on their way to the ancestral Beechcroft, whence Mysie was to be fetched to Rotherwood. The last thing that met Lady Merrifield’s eyes was Mrs. Halfpenny gesticulating wildly, under the impression that Mysie’s box was going off to London.
And Gillian’s tears were choked in the scurry to avoid a smoking-carriage, while Harry could not help thinking—–half blaming himself for so doing—–that Mysie expended more feeling in parting with Sofy, the kitten, than with her sisters, not perceiving that pussy was the safety-valve for the poor child’s demonstrations of all the sorrow that was oppressing her.