Mollys father was not at home when she returned; and there was no one to give her a welcome. Mrs. Gibson was out paying calls, the servants told Molly. She went upstairs to her own room, meaning to unpack and arrange her borrowed books. Rather to her surprise, she saw the chamber corresponding to her own being dusted; water and towels too were being carried in.
Is any one coming? she asked of the housemaid.
Miss Kirkpatrick is coming to-morrow. Missuss daughter from France.
Was Cynthia coming at last? Oh, what a pleasure it would be to have a companion, a girl, a sister of her own age!
Mollys depressed spirits sprang up again with bright elasticity. She longed for Mrs. Gibsons return, to ask her all about it: it must be very sudden, for Mr. Gibson had said nothing of it at the Hall the day before. No quiet reading now; the books were hardly put away with Mollys usual neatness. She went down into the drawing-room, and could not settle to anything. At last Mrs. Gibson came home, tired out with her walk and her heavy velvet cloak. Until that was taken off, and she had rested herself for a few minutes, she seemed quite unable to attend to Mollys questions.
Oh, yes! Cynthia is coming home to-morrow, by the Umpire, which passes through at ten oclock. What an oppressive day it is for the time of the year! I really am almost ready to faint. Cynthia heard of some opportunity, I believe, and was only too glad to leave school a fortnight earlier than we planned. She never gave me the chance of writing to say I did, or did not, like her coming so much before the time; and I shall have to pay for her just the same as if she had stopped. And I meant to have asked her to bring me a French bonnet; and then you could have had one made after mine. But Im very glad shes coming, poor dear.
Is anything the matter with her? asked Molly.
Oh, no! Why should there be?
You called her poor dear, and it made me afraid lest she might be ill.
Oh, no! Its only a way I got into, when Mr. Kirkpatrick died. A fatherless girlyou know one always does call them poor dears. Oh, no! Cynthia never is ill. Shes as strong as a horse. She never would have felt to-day as I have done. Could you get me a glass of wine and a biscuit, my dear? Im really quite faint.
Mr. Gibson was much more excited about Cynthias arrival than her own mother was. He anticipated her coming as a great pleasure to Molly, on whom, in spite of his recent marriage and his new wife, his interests principally centred. He even found time to run upstairs and see the bed-rooms of the two girls; for the furniture of which he had paid a pretty round sum.
Well, I suppose young ladies like their bed-rooms decked out in this way! Its very pretty certainly, but
I liked my own old room better, papa; but perhaps Cynthia is accustomed to such decking-up.
Perhaps; at any rate, shell see weve tried to make it pretty. Yours is like hers. Thats right. It might have hurt her, if hers had been smarter than yours. Now, goodnight in your fine flimsy bed.
Molly was up betimesalmost before it was light arranging her pretty Hamley flowers in Cynthias room. She could hardly eat her breakfast that morning. She ran upstairs and put on her things, thinking that Mrs. Gibson was quite sure to go down to the Angel Inn, where the Umpire stopped, to meet her daughter after a two years absence. But, to her surprise, Mrs. Gibson had arranged herself at her great worsted-work frame, just as usual; and she, in her turn, was astonished at Mollys bonnet and cloak.
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