’We had much better wait till we hear from Lily. We cannot in the least tell whether she would wish the acquaintance to be kept up. And if there is anything going on with young Stebbing, nothing could be more unadvisable than for Gillian to be mixed up in any nonsense of that sort.’
On Sunday, Gillian’s feet found their way to the top of the garden, where she paced meditatively up and down, hoping to see Kalliope; and just as she was giving up the expectation, the slender black figure appeared on the other side of the railings.
‘Oh, Miss Gillian, how kind!’
‘Kally, I am glad!’
Wherewith they got into talk at once, for Lady Merrifield’s safe arrival and Sir Jasper’s improvement had just been telegraphed, and there was much rejoicing over the good news. Gillian had nearly made up her mind to confute the enemy by asking why Captain White had left Rockquay; but somehow when it came to the point, she durst not make the venture, and they skimmed upon more surface subjects.
The one point of union between the parishes of Rockstone and Rockquay was a choral society, whereof Mr. Flight of St. Kenelm’s was a distinguished light, and which gave periodical concerts in the Masonic Hall. It being musical, Miss Mohun had nothing to do with it except the feeling it needful to give her presence to the performances. One of these was to take place in the course of the week, and there were programmes in all the shops, ‘Mr. Alexis White’ being set down for more than one solo, and as a voice in the glees.
‘Shall not you sing?’ asked Gillian, remembering that her sisters had thought Kalliope had a good ear and a pretty voice.
‘I? Oh, no!’
‘I thought you used to sing.’
‘Yes; but I have no time to keep it up.’
‘Not even in the choruses?’
’No, I cannot manage it’—–and there was a little glow in the clear brown cheek.
‘Does your designing take up so much time?’
’It is not that, but there is a great deal to do at home in after hours. My mother is not strong, and we cannot keep a really efficient servant.’
’Oh! but you must be terribly hard-worked to have no time for relaxation.’
‘Not quite that, but—–it seems to me,’ burst out poor Kalliope, ’that relaxation does nothing but bring a girl into difficulties—–an unprotected girl, I mean.’
‘What do you mean?’ cried Gillian, quite excited; but Kalliope had caught herself up.
’Never mind, Miss Gillian; you have nothing to do with that kind of thing.’
‘But do tell me, Kally; I do want to be your friend,’ said Gillian, trying to put her hand through.
‘There’s nothing to tell,’ said Kalliope, smiling and evidently touched, but still somewhat red, ’only you know when a girl has nobody to look after her, she has to look after herself.’