“Yes, sir. Thank you, I never meant to question your judgment. Indeed I did not.”
The horses were here announced, and Dr. Godfrey said,
“Then I leave him to you with a grateful heart. I am beginning to hope that there is much hypochondriacism in his condition, and that this may pass away with his despondency. I hope before many weeks are over to come and visit him again, before I go to my parish in Dorsetshire.”
Then, with a fatherly blesssing, the Canon took his leave.
He was scarcely gone before there was a great rustling in the hall, and Mrs. Phoebe and Mrs. Delia Treforth were announced. Aurelia was surprised, for she had been decidedly sensible of their disapproval when she made her visit of ceremony after her entertainment by them. She, however, had underrated the force of the magnet of curiosity. They had come to inquire about the visitor, who had actually spent a night at the Park. They knew who he was, for “Ned Godfrey” had been a frequent guest at Bowstead in the youth of all parties, and they were annoyed that he had not paid his respects to them.
“It would have been only fitting to have sent for us, as relations of the family, to assist in entertaining him,” said Mrs. Phoebe. “Pray, miss, did my eccentric cousin place you in the position of hostess?”
“It fell to me, madam,” said Aurelia.
“You could have asked for our support,” said Mrs. Phoebe, severely. “It would have become you better, above all then Sir Amyas Belamour himself was here.”
“He has only been here while I was with you, madam, and was gone before my return.”
“That is true,: but Mrs. Phoebe looked at the girl so inquisitively that her colour rose in anger, and exclaimed, “Madam, I know not what you mean!”
“There, sister,” said Mrs. Delia, more kindly. “She is but a child, and Bet Batley is a gossip. She would not know his Honour in the dark from the blackamoor going down to visit his sweetheart.”
Very glad was Aurelia when the ladies curtsied themselves out of her summer parlour, declaring they wished to speak to Mrs. Aylward, who she knew could assure them of the absurdity of these implied suspicions.
And Mrs. Aylward, who detested the two ladies, and repelled their meddling, stiffly assured them both of Miss Delavie’s discretion and her own vigilance, which placed visits from the young baronet beyond the bounds of possibility. Supposing his Honour should again visit his uncle, she should take care to be present at any interview with the young lady. She trusted that she knew her duty, and so did Miss Delavie.
CHAPTER XV. THE QUEEN OF BEAUTY.
O bright regina, who
made thee so faire,
Who made thy colour vermeilie and white?
Now marveile I nothing that ye do hight
The quene of love.—CHAUCER.