As Lady Adelaide went out, her son came in, and rushed up to his father. If Mr. Ford’s client had failed in natural affection for one son, his love for the other had a double intensity. He put his arm tenderly round him, whilst the boy told some long childish story, which was not finished when Lady Adelaide returned, leading Amabel by the hand. Amabel was a good deal taller. Her large feet were adorned with ornamental thread socks, and leathern shoes buttoned round the ankle. Her hair was cropped, because Lady Craikshaw said this made it grow. She wore a big pinafore by the same authority, in spite of which she carried herself with an admirable dignity. The same candor, good sense, and resolution shone from her clear eyes and fat cheeks as of old. Mr. Ford’s client was alarming to children, but Amabel shook hands courageously with him.
She was accustomed to exercise courage in her behavior. From her earliest days a standard of manners had been expected of her beyond her age. It was a consequence of her growth. “You’re quite a big girl now,” was a nursery reproach addressed to her at least two years before the time, and she tried valiantly to live up to her inches.
But when Amabel saw D’Arcy, she started and stopped short. “Won’t you shake hands with my boy, Amabel?” said Lady Adelaide. “Oh, you must make friends with him, and he’ll give you a ride on the rocking-horse after dinner. Surely such a big girl can’t be shy?”
Goaded by the old reproach, Amabel made an effort, and, advancing by herself, held out her hand, and said, “How do you do, Bogy?”
D’Arcy’s black eyes twinkled with merriment. “How do you do, Mother Bunch?” said he.
“My dear D’Arcy!” said Lady Adelaide, reproachfully.
“Mamma, I am not rude. I am only joking. She calls me Bogy, so I call her Mother Bunch.”
“But I’m not Mother Bunch,” said Amabel.
“And I’m not Bogy,” retorted D’Arcy.
“Yes, you are,” said Amabel. “Only you had very old clothes on in the wood.”
Lady Craikshaw had cruelly warned Lady Adelaide that Amabel sometimes told stories, and, thinking that the child was romancing, Lady Adelaide tried to change the subject. But D’Arcy cried, “Oh, do let her talk, mamma. I do so like her. She is such fun!”
“You oughtn’t to laugh at me,” said poor Amabel, as D’Arcy took her into the dining-room, “I gave you my paint-box.”
The boy’s stare of amazement awoke a doubt in Amabel’s mind of his identity with the Bogy of the woods. Between constantly peeping at him, and her anxiety to conduct herself conformably to her size in the etiquette of the dinner-table, she did not eat much. When dinner was over, and D’Arcy led her away to the rocking horse, he asked, “Do you still think I’m Bogy?”
“N—no,” said Amabel, “I think perhaps you’re not. But you’re very like him, though you talk differently. Do you make pictures?”