“Utter darkness! How dreadful!” cried Aurelia, shuddering.
“How long has this been, sister?” inquired Harriet.
“About nine years,” said Betty. “The lamentable affair took place just before Sir Jovian’s death, and the shock may have hastened it, for he had long been in a languishing state. It was the more unfortunate, since he had made Mr. Belamour sole personal guardian to his only surviving son, and appointed him, together with my father and another gentleman, trustee for the Belamour property; and there has been much difficulty in consequence of his being unable to act, or to do more than give his signature.”
“Ah! sister, I wish you had not told me,” said Aurelia. “I shall dream of the unfortunate gentleman all night. Nine years of utter darkness!”
“We know who is still child enough to hate darkness,” said Harriet.
“Take care,” said Betty. “You must make haste, or I shall leave you to it.”
CHAPTER III. AMONG THE COWSLIPS.
The insect youth are on the
Eager to taste the honeyed spring,
And float amid the liquid noon,
Some lightly on the torrent skim,
Some show their gaily gilded trim,
Quick glancing to the sun.—Gray
Though hours were early, the morning meal was not served till so late as really to deserve the title of breakfast.
When the three sisters sat down at nine-o’clock, in mob caps, and the two younger in white dresses, all had been up at least two hours. Aurelia led forward little Eugene in a tailed red coat, long-breasted buff waistcoat, buff tights and knitted stockings, with a deep frilled collar under the flowing locks on his shoulders, in curls which emulated a wig. She had been helping him to prepare “his tasks” from the well-thumbed but strongly-bound books which had served poor Archie before him. They were deposited on the window-seat to wait till the bowls of bread and milk were discussed, since tea and coffee were only a special afternoon treat not considered as wholesome for children; so that Aurelia had only just been promoted to them, along with powder and fan.