So Lancelot departed, having put in hand negotiations for a tolerable house not far from St. Andrew’s Church, and studied the accommodation available for horses, and the powers of the pianos on hire.
Helpmates and hearthmates, gladdeners of gone years,
Tender companions of our serious days,
Who colour with your kisses, smiles, and tears,
Life’s worn web woven over wonted ways.-Lytton.
“How does he seem now?” said Geraldine, as Lancelot came into the drawing-room of St. Andrew’s Rock at Rockquay, in the full glare of a cold east windy May evening.
“Pretty well fagged out, but that does not greatly matter. I say, Cherry, how will you stand this? Till I saw you in this den, I had no notion how shabby, and dull, and ugly it is.”
“My dear Lance, if you did but know how refreshing it is to see anything shabby, and dull, and ugly,” Mrs. Grinstead answered with imitative inflections, which set Anna Vanderkist off into a fit of laughter, infecting both her uncle and aunt. The former gravely said-
“If you had only mentioned it in time, I could have gratified you more effectually.”
“I suppose it is Aunt Cherry’s charity,” said Anna, recovering. “The reflection that but for her the poor natives would never have been able to go to their German baths.”
“Oh, no such philanthropy, my dear. It is homeliness, or rather homeyness, that is dear to my bourgeoise mind. I was afraid of spick-and-span, sap-green aestheticism, but those curtains have done their own fading in pleasing shades, that good old sofa can be lain upon, and there’s a real comfortable crack on that frame; while as to the chiffonier, is not it the marrow of the one Mrs. Froggatt left us, where Wilmet kept all the things in want of mending?”
“Ah! didn’t you shudder when she turned the key?” said Lance.
“Not knowing what was good for me.”
“But you will send for some of our things and make it nice,” entreated Anna, “or Gerald will never stay here.”
“Never fear; we’ll have it presentable by the vacation. As for Uncle Clement, he would never see whether he was in a hermit’s cell, if he only had one arm-chair and one print from Raffaelle.”
There was a certain arch ring in her voice that had long been absent, and Anna looked joyous as she waited on them both.
“I am glad you brought her,” said Lance, as she set off with Uncle Clement’s tea.
“Yes, she would not hear of the charms of the season.”
“So much the better for her. She is a good girl, and will be all the happier down here, as well as better. There’s a whole hive of Merrifields to make merry with her; and, by the bye, Cherry, what should you think of housing a little chap for the school here where Fergus Merrifield is?”
“Your dear little Felix? Delightful!”