`But, Ned, surely you are not leaving me so soon? Surely you will stay and dine with us?' urged his sister, a' he took up his cap.

`I wish I could, but I can't tonight, Polly. You see I had engaged to take some ladies out to drive, and they will expect me. I had no idea that you would be here, or should have kept myself free,' he said apologetically Tomorrow I will come over early, and be at your service for whatever you like to do.'

`That's right, dear boy. We shall expect you.' Then the moment he was gone: `Now, Katy, isn't he nice?'

`Very nice, I should think,' said Katy, who ha' watched the brief interview with interest. `I like his face so much, and how fond he is of you!'

`Dear fellow! So he is. I am seven years older than he but we have always been intimate. Brothers and sister are not always intimate, you know - or perhaps you don' know, for yours are.'

`Yes, indeed,' said Katy, with a happy smile. `There is nobody like Clover and Elsie, except perhaps Johnnie and Dorry and Phil,' she added, with a laugh.

The remove to the Pension Suisse was made early the next morning. Mrs Page and Lilly did not appear to welcome them. Katy rather rejoiced in their absence, for she wanted the chance to get into order without interruptions. There was something comfortable in the thought that they were to stay a whole month in these new quarters; for so long a time it seemed worth while to make them pretty and homelike. So, while Mrs Ashe unpacked her own belongings and Amy's, Katy, who had a natural turn for arranging rooms, took possession of the little parlour, pulled the furniture into new positions, laid out portfolios and work cases and their few books, pinned various photographs which they had bought in Oxford and London on the walls, and tied back the curtains to admit the sunshine. Then she paid a visit to the little garden, and came back with a long branch of laurustinus, which she trained across the mantelpiece, and a bunch of wallflowers for their one little vase. The maid, by her orders, laid a fire of wood and pine cones ready for lighting, and when all was done she called Mrs Ashe to pronounce upon the effect.

`It is lovely,' she said, sinking into a great velvet armchair which Katy had drawn close to the seaward window. `I haven't seen anything so pleasant since we left home. You are a witch, Katy, and the comfort of my life. I am so glad I brought you! Now, pray go and unpack your own things, and make yourself look nice for the second breakfast. We have been a shabby set enough since we arrived. I saw those cousins of yours looking askance at our old travelling dresses yesterday. Let us try to make a more respectable impression today.'

So they went down to breakfast, Mrs Ashe in one of her new Paris gowns, Katy in a pretty dress of olive serge, and Amy all smiles and ruffled pinafore, walking hand in hand with her Uncle Ned, who had just arrived, and whose great ally she was. Mrs Page and Lilly, who were already seated at table, had much ado to conceal their somewhat unflattering surprise at the conjunction. For one moment Lilly's eyes opened into a wild stare of incredulous astonishment; then she remembered herself, nodded as pleasantly as she could to Mrs Ashe and Katy, and favoured Lieutenant Worthington with a pretty blushing smile as he went by, while she murmured:

`Mamma, do you see that? What does it mean?'

`Why, Ned, do you know those people?' asked Mrs Ashe at the same moment.

`Do you know them?'

`Yes, we met yesterday. They are connexions of my friend Miss Carr.'

`Really? There is not the least family likeness between them.' And Mr Worthington's eyes travelled deliberately from Lilly's delicate golden prettiness to Katy, who, truth to say, did not shine by the contrast.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.