‘I wish I could go and talk to Kalliope, my dear,’ she said to Gillian; ‘but I am afraid it must wait another day.’
‘Oh, never mind,’ said Gillian, as they bade each other good-night at their doors; ’they don’t know that I am come home, so they will not expect me.’
Miss Mohun came back in the dark after a long day, for once in her life quite jaded, and explaining that the health-officer and the landlord had been by no means agreed, and that nothing could be done till Sir Jasper came home and decided whether to retain the house or not.
All that she was clear about, and which she had telegraphed to Aden, was, that there must be no going back to Silverfold for the present, and she was prepared to begin lodging-hunting as soon as she received an answer.
‘And how have you got on?’ she asked, thinking all looked rather blank.
‘We haven’t been to see Fly,’ broke out Valetta, ’though she went out on the beach, and Mysie must not stay out after dark, for fear she should cough.’
‘Mysie says they are afraid of excitement,’ said Gillian gloomily.
‘Then you have seen nothing of the others?’
’Yes, I have seen Victoria, said Aunt Adeline, with a meaning smile.
Miss Mohun went up to take off her things, and Gillian followed her, shutting the door with ominous carefulness, and colouring all over.
‘Aunt Jane, I ought to tell you. A dreadful thing has happened!’
‘Indeed, my dear! What?’
‘I have had a valentine.’
‘Oh!’ repressing a certain inclination to laugh at the bathos from the look of horror and shame in the girl’s eyes.
’It is from that miserable Alexis! Oh, I know I brought it on myself, and I have been so wretched and so ashamed all day.’
‘Was it so very shocking! Let me see—–’
’Oh! I sent it back at once by the post, in an envelope, saying, “Sent by mistake."’
’But what was it like? Surely it was not one of the common shop things?’
’Oh no; there was rather a pretty outline of a nymph or muse, or something of that sort, at the top—–drawn, I mean—–and verses written below, something about my showing a lodestar of hope, but I barely glanced at it. I hated it too much.’
‘I am sorry you were in such a hurry,’ said Aunt Jane. ’No doubt it was a shock; but I am afraid you have given more pain than it quite deserved.’
‘It was so impertinent!’ cried Gillian, in astonished, shame-stricken indignation.
‘So it seems to you,’ said her aunt, ’and it was very bad taste; but you should remember that this poor lad has grown up in a stratum of society where he may have come to regard this as a suitable opportunity of evincing his gratitude, and perhaps it may be very hard upon him to have this work of his treated as an insult.’