Mr. Ferrars strongly seconded the project! Clever fellow, not a word did he say; but did not he know the secrets of that household as well or better than the inmates themselves?’
Now that Tibb’s Alley was deserted, and plans fixed, architect and clerk of the works chosen, March winds ready for building and underground work to begin at once, what could be more prudent than for the inhabitants of Willow Lawn to remove far from the disturbance of ancient drains and no drains, and betake themselves to a purer atmosphere? Mr. Kendal was of no use as a superintendent, and needed no persuasion to flee from the chance of typhus.
As to the children, the time had come early when Maurice’s whole nature cried out for school. He was much improved, and there was that real principle within him which made it not unsafe to launch him in a world where he might meet with more useful trials than those of home. Child as he was, his propensities were too much limited by the bounds of the town-house and garden, and the society of his sisters, one too old and one too young to serve as tomboys. He needed to meet his match, and work his way; Albinia felt that school had become his element, and Mr. Kendal only wanted to make his education the reverse of Gilbert’s; so he ran nearly frantic between the real jacket and the promise of going to school with Willie. He knew not, though his mother mourned over, the coming heart-sickness and mother-sickness of the first night, the first Sunday, the first trouble. It was sure to be very severe in one of such strong and affectionate feeling, but it must come sooner or later, and the better that it should be conquered while home was still a paradise. Fairmead was not so far from his destination but that his uncle would keep an eye on him; and Winifred held out a hope that if the tour lasted long enough, he should bring out both boys to spend their holidays with them. A very good Winifred!
Albinia the Less was to become a traveller, for the good reason that nobody could or would go without her. They were to go direct to Lucy, who was at Naples with a second boy, and pining for home faces and home comforts—the inducement which perhaps worked most strongly to make Sophy like the journey, for since her delusion had been swept, away, a doubly deep and intense feeling had sprung up towards her own only sister, whose foibles had been forgotten in long separation.
The Lake of Lucerne lay blue and dark in the shade of the mountains, on whose summits the evening sunshine was fast mounting, peak after peak falling into purple shadow.
There was a small inlet where a stream rushed down between the hills, and on the green slope stood a chalet, the rich red of the roof contrasting with the green pasture. A little boat was moored to a stump near the land, and in it sat Sophia Kendal, her hat by her side, listening to and answering merrily the chatter of Maurice, who tumbled about in the boat, often causing it severe shocks, while he inspected the cut of the small sail which she was making for the miniature specimen, which he often tried in the clear cold water.