‘There is something to forgive on all hands,’ said Mr. Kendal. ’That meddlesome boy of mine has caused worse results than we could have contemplated. I believe it has been a lesson to him.’
‘I know it has to some one else,’ said Ulick. ’I wish I could do anything! It would be the greatest comfort you could give me to tell me of a thing I could do for Gilbert or any of you. If you’d send me to find Mr. Cavendish Dusautoy, and tell him ’twas all my fault, and bring them back—’
‘Rather too wild a project, thank you,’ said Mr. Kendal, smiling. ’No; the only thing you could do, would be—if that boy of mine have not completely forfeited your kindness—’
‘Maurice! Ah! how I have missed the rogue.’
’Poor little fellow, I am afraid he may be a burthen to himself and every one else. It would be a great relief if you could be kind enough now and then to give him the pleasure of a walk.’
Maurice did not attend greatly to papa’s permission to go out with Mr. O’More. Either it was clogged with too many conditions of discretion, and too many reminiscences of the past; or Maurice’s mind was too much bent on the thought of his brother. Both children haunted the packing up, entreating to send out impossible presents. Maurice could hardly be persuaded out of contributing a perilous-looking boomerang, which he argued had some sense in it; while he scoffed at the little Awk, who stood kissing and almost crying over the china countenance of her favourite doll, entreating that papa would take dear Miss Jenny because Gibbie loved her the best of all, and always put her to sleep on his knees. At last matters were compromised by Sophy, who roused herself to do one of the few things for which she had strength, engrossing them by cutting out in paper an interminable hunt with horses and dogs adhering together by the noses and tails, which, when brilliantly painted according to their united taste, they might safely imagine giving pleasure to Gilbert, while, at any rate, it would do no harm in papa’s pocket-book.
The day after Mr. Kendal’s departure, Mrs. Meadows had another attack, but a fortnight still passed before the long long task was over and the weary spirit set free. There had been no real consciousness and no one could speak of regret; of anything but relief and thankfulness that release had come at last, when Albinia had redeemed her pledge and knew she should no more hear of the dreary ‘very bad night,’ nor be greeted by the low, restless moan. The long good-night was come, and, on the whole, there was peace and absence of self-condemnation in looking back on the past connexion. Forbearance and unselfishness were recompensed by the calm tenderness with which she could regard one who at the outset had appeared likely to cause nothing but frets and misunderstandings.
Had she and Sophy been left to themselves, there would have been nothing to break upon this frame of mind, but early the next day arrived Mr. and Mrs. Drury, upsetting all her arrangements, implying that it had been presumptuous to exert any authority without relationship. It did seem hard that the claims of kindred should be only recollected in order to unsettle her plans, and offend her unostentatious tastes.