It was not satisfactory, and many mothers would have been miserable; but it was not in Albinia’s nature to be miserable when her hands were full, and she was doing her best. She had heard her brother say that when good people gave their children sound principles and spoilt them, they gave the children the trouble of self-conquest instead of doing it for them. She had great faith in Maurice’s undertaking this task in due time; and while she felt that she still had her hand on the rein she must be content to leave it loose for a while.
Besides, when his father and sisters, and, least of all, herself, did not find him a plague, did it much matter if other people did?
Exulting peals rang out from the Bayford tower, and as Mr. and Mrs. Cavendish Dusautoy alighted from their carriage at Willow Lawn, the cry of the vicar and of the assembled household was, ’Have you heard that Sebastopol is taken?’
‘Any news of Gilbert?’ was Lucy’s demand.
‘No, the cavalry were not landed, so he had nothing to do with it.’
‘I say, uncle,’ said Algernon, ’shall I send up a sovereign to those ringers?’
’Eh! poor fellows, they will he very glad of it, thank you; only I must take care they don’t drink it up. I’m sure they must be tired enough; they’ve been at it ever since the telegraph came in!’
‘There!’ exclaimed Algernon; ’Barton must have telegraphed from the station when we set out!’
‘You? Did you think the bells were ringing for you,’ exclaimed his uncle, ‘when there’s a great battle won, and Sebastopol taken?’
‘Telegraphs are always lies!’ quoth Mr. Cavendish Dusautoy, tersely, ‘I don’t believe anything has happened at all!’ and he re-pocketed the sovereign.
Meantime Lucy was in a rapture of embracing. She was spread out with stiff silk flounces and velvet mantle, so as to emulate her husband’s importance, and her chains and bracelets clattered so much, that Mr. Kendal could not help saying, ’You should have taken lessons of your Ayah, to learn how to manage your bangles.’
‘Oh! papa,’ said she, with a newly-learnt little laugh, ’I could not help it; Louise could not find room for them in my dressing-case.’
They were not, however, lost upon the whole of the family. Grandmamma’s dim eyes lighted when she recognised her favourite grand-daughter in such gorgeous array, and that any one should have come back again was so new and delightful, that it constantly recurred as a fresh surprise and pleasure.