The life, on the whole, was not unhappy, except for fits of homesickness and longing for letters. The arrival of the boxes from the carrier was the first comfort, and then at last came a thick letter from home, franked by Sir George Herries, and containing letters from everybody— even a few roundhand lines from Eugene.
Her father wrote at length all the excellent moral and religious essay which had stuck in his throat at the parting; neither was Betty’s letter deficient in good advice, though she let it appear that the family were much amused at Lady Belamour’s affliction in her triad of daughters, the secret having been hitherto so carefully kept that they supposed her to have only one.
“It will be your Charge,” wrote Betty, “so far as in you lies, to render them not merely the Graces, as my Father terms them, but the true and faithful Guardian to these Infant Spirits. Though their Mother has shown no Care or heed in entrusting them to you, yet remember that it is truly the good Providence of their Heavenly Father that has put these little Children of His in your Charge, to receive from you the first Principles of Religion and Morals which may mould their whole Lives; and I trust that you will do the Work faithfully and successfully. It may be dull and tedious at Bowstead, but I had much rather hear of you thus than exposed to the Glare of My Lady’s Saloon in London. No doubt Harriet has write to you of the Visit of young Sir Amyas, the Sunday after your departure. We have since heard that his expedition to Monmouthshire was with a View to his marriage to Lady Aresfield’s Daughter, and this may well be, so that if he fall in your way, you will be warned against putting any misconstruction on any Civil Attentions he may pay to you. Ever since your Departure Mr. Arden has redoubled his Assiduities in a certain Quarter, and as it is thought the Dean and Chapter are not unlikely to present him to a good Vicarage in Buckinghamshire, it is not unlikely that ere long you may hear of a Wedding in the Family, although Harriet would be extremely angry with me for daring to give such a Hint.”
Certainly Aurelia would not have gathered the hint from Harriet’s letter, which was very sentimental about her own loneliness and lack of opportunity, in contrast with Aurelia, who was seeing the world. That elegant beau, Sir Amyas, had just given a sample to tantalise their rusticity, and then had vanished; and here was that oddity, Mr. Arden, more wearisome and pertinacious than ever. So tiresome!
Or singst thou rather under
Of some Divine command,
Commissioned to presage a course
Of happier days at hand?
Aurelia was coming down stairs in the twilight after singing her charges to sleep about three weeks after her arrival, when she saw Jumbo waiting at the bottom of the stairs.