This was rather delightful, and it further appeared that he could answer all Jane’s inquiries after her beloved promising lads whom he had deported to the Rocca Marina quarries.
They were evidently kindly looked after, and she began to perceive that it was not such a bad place after all for them, more especially as he was in the act of building them a chapel, and one of his objects in coming to England was to find a chaplain; and as Lord Rotherwood said, he had come to the right shop, since Rockquay in the spring was likely to afford a choice of clergy with weak chests, or better still, with weak-chested wives, to whom light work in a genial climate would be the greatest possible boon.
Altogether the evening was very pleasant, only too short. It was a curious study for Jane Mohun how far Lady Rotherwood would give way to her husband. She always seemed to give way, but generally accomplished her own will in the end, and it was little likely that she would allow the establishment to await the influx of Merrifields, though certainly Gillian had done nothing displeasing all that evening except that terrible blushing, for which piece of ingenuousness her aunt loved her all the better.
At half-past ten next morning, however, Lord Rotherwood burst in to borrow Valetta for a donkey-ride, for which his lady had compounded instead of the paddling and castle-building, and certainly poor Val could not do much to corrupt Fly on donkey back, and in his presence. He further routed out Gillian, nothing loth, from her algebra, bidding her put on her seven-leagued boots, and not get bent double—– and he would fain have seized on his cousin Jane, but she was already gone off for an interview with the landlord of the most eligible of the two houses.
Gillian and Valetta came back very rosy, and in fits of merriment. Lord Rotherwood had paid the donkey-boys to stay at home, and let him and Gillian take their place. They had gone out on the common above the town, with most amusing rivalries as to which drove the beast worst, making Mysie umpire. Then having attained a delightfully lonely place, Fly had begged for a race with Valetta, which failed, partly because Val’s donkey would not stir, and partly because Fly could not bear the shaking; and then Lord Rotherwood himself insisted on riding the donkey that wouldn’t go, and racing Gillian on the donkey that would—–and he made his go so effectually that it ran away with him, and he pulled it up at last only just in time to save himself from being ignominiously stopped by an old fishwoman!
He had, as Aunt Jane said, regularly dipped Gill back into childhood, and she looked, spoke, and moved all the better for it.
Lord Rotherwood came in to try to wile his cousin to share in the survey of the country; but she declared it to be impossible, as all her avocations had fallen into arrear, and she had to find a couple of servants as well as a house for the Merrifields. This took her in the direction of the works, and Gillian proposed to go with her as far as the Giles’s, there to sit a little while with Lilian, for whom she had a new book.