’You will not be wanted at Avoncester, as the case will not come on. I shall go and see all safe, then on to town, but I mean to see your brother’s commanding officer, and you may tell your mother that I have no doubt that he will be allowed a furlough.’
‘But, Sir Jasper’ broke in Richard, ’I beg your pardon; but there is a family from Leeds at Bellevue, the Nortons, and imagine what it would be if they reported me as connected with a common private soldier, just out of prison too!’
‘Let him come to me then,’ exclaimed Mr. White.
In spite of appearances of disgust, Richard took the invitation to himself, and looked amiable and gratified.
’Thank you, Mr. White, that will obviate the difficulty. When shall I move up?’
‘You, sir? Did you think I meant you?’ said Mr. White contemptuously. ‘No; I prefer a fool to a knave!’
‘Mr. White,’ interposed Sir Jasper, ’whatever you may have to say to Richard White, consider his sister. Or had you not better report our success to your mother, my dear?’
‘One moment,’ said Mr. White. ’Tell me, young lady, if you do not object, what assistance have you ever received from me.’
‘You have most kindly employed us, and paid for Maura’s education,’ said Kalliope.
‘Is that all? Has nothing been transmitted through this brother?’
‘I do not understand,’ said Kalliope, trembling, as Richard scowled at her.
‘Sir,’ said he, ‘I always intended, but unforeseen circumstances—–’
‘That’s enough for the present, sir,’ said Mr. White. ’I have heard all I wish, and more too.’
‘Sir,’ said Kalliope, still trembling, ’indeed, Richard is a kind son and brother. My mother is much attached to him. I am generally out all day, and it is quite possible that she did not tell me all that passed between them, as she knew that I did not like you to be applied to.’
‘That will do, my dear,’ said Mr. White. ’I don’t want to say any more about it. You shall have your brother to-morrow, if Sir Jasper can manage it. I will bring him back to Rockstone as my guest, so that his brother need not be molested with his company.’
On an east-windy Friday afternoon Valetta and Fergus were in a crowning state of ecstasy. Rigdum Funnidos was in a hutch in the small garden under the cliff, Begum and two small gray kittens were in a basket under the kitchen stairs, Aga was purring under everybody’s feet, Cocky was turning out the guard upon his perch—–in short, Il Lido was made as like Silverfold as circumstances would permit. Aunt Ada with Miss Vincent was sitting on the sofa in the drawing-room, with a newly-worked cosy, like a giant’s fez, over the teapot, and Valetta’s crewel cushion fully displayed. She was patiently enduring a rush in and out of the room of both children and Quiz once every minute, and had only requested that it should not be more than once, and that the door should neither be slammed nor left open.