CHAPTER XXIV. COUNSELS OF PATIENCE
He either fears his fate too much,
Or his deserts are small,
Who fears to put it to the touch,
To win or lose it all.
If Sibby hoped to keep her “long boy” from being “mislested,” she was mistaken. He knew too well what was to come, and when she knocked at his door with his cup of tea, he came to it half dressed, to her extreme indignation, calling for his shaving water.
“Now, Master Clem, if you would only be insinsed enough to keep to your bed, you might have Miss Sophy to speak to you there, if nothing else will serve you.”
“Is she there?”
“In coorse, and Miss Francie too. What should they do else, after colloguing with their young men all night? Ah, ’tis a proud woman poor Miss Alda would be if she could have seen the young lord! And the real beauty is Miss Francie, such as my own babbies were before her, bless them!”
“Stop,” cried Clement in consternation. “It is only a bit of passing admiration. Don’t say a word about it to the others.”
“As if I would demane myself to the like of them! Me that has been forty-seven years with you and yours, and had every one of you in my arms the first thing, except the blessed eldest that is gone to a better place.”
“Would that he were here now!” sighed Clement, almost as he had sighed that first morning of his loss. “Where are those girls?”
“Rampaging over the house with Sir Adrian, and his packing of all his rubbish, enough to break the heart of a coal-heaver! I’d not let them in to bother their aunt, and Mr. Gerald is asleep like a blessed baby.”
“Oh! it is down to the sea he is with that child that looks as if he was made of air, and lived on live larks! And Master Lance, he’s no better-eats like a sparrow, and sits up half the night writing for his paper.”
Clement got rid of Sibby at last, but he was hardly out of his room before Sophy descended on him, anxious and blushing, though he could give her much sympathy and kindly hope of his influence, only he had to preach patience. It had been no hasty fancy, but there had long been growing esteem and affection, and he could assure her of all the aid the family could give with her mother, though Penbeacon works would be a very insecure foundation for hope.
“I think Gerald would consent,” said Sophy, “and he will soon be of age.”
Clement could only say “Humph!”
“One thing I hope is not wrong,” said Sophy, “but I do trust that no one will tell mother about Lord Ivinghoe. It is not jealousy, I hope, but I cannot see that there is anything in it, only the very sound would set mother more against Philip than ever.”
“You do not suppose that Francie is-is touched?”
“No,” said Sophy, gravely as an elder, “she is such a child. She was very much pleased and entertained, and went on chattering, till I begged her to let us say our prayers in peace. We never talk after that, and she went to sleep directly, and was smiling when she woke, but I do not fancy she will dwell on it, or fancy there is more to come, unless some one puts it into her head.”