“Where are you going so early, child? The fog hasn’t cleared away yet.”

“I thought you would go and meet Cynthia; and I wanted to go with you.”

“She will be here in half-an-hour; and dear papa has told the gardener to take the wheelbarrow down for her luggage. I’m not sure if he is not gone himself.”

“Then are not you going?” asked Molly, with a good deal of disappointment.

“No, certainly not. She will be here almost directly. And, besides, I don’t like to expose my feelings to every passer-by in High Street. You forget, I have not seen her for two years, and I hate scenes in the market-place.”

She settled herself to her work again; and Molly, after some consideration, gave up her own grief, and employed herself in looking out of the downstairs window which commanded the approach from the town.

“Here she is—here she is!” she cried out at last. Her father was walking by the side of a tall young lady; William the gardener was wheeling along a great cargo of baggage. Molly flew to the front-door, and had it wide open to admit the new-comer, some time before she arrived.

“Well! here she is. Molly, this is Cynthia. Cynthia, Molly. You’re to be sisters, you know.”

Molly saw the beautiful, tall, swaying figure, against the light of the open door, but could not see any of the features that were, for the moment, in shadow. A sudden gush of shyness had come over her just at the instant, and quenched the embrace she would have given a moment before. But Cynthia took her in her arms, and kissed her on both cheeks.

“Here’s mamma,” she said, looking beyond Molly on to the stairs, where Mrs. Gibson stood, wrapped up in a shawl, and shivering in the cold. She ran past Molly and Mr. Gibson, who rather averted their eyes from this first greeting between mother and child.

Mrs. Gibson said—

“Why, how you are grown, darling! You look quite a woman.”

“And so I am,” said Cynthia. “I was, before I went away; I’ve hardly grown since—except, it is always to be hoped, in wisdom.”

“Yes! That we will hope,” said Mrs. Gibson, in rather a meaning way. Indeed, there were evidently hidden allusions in their seemingly commonplace speeches. When they all came into the full light and repose of the drawing-room, Molly was absorbed in the contemplation of Cynthia’s beauty. Perhaps her features were not regular; but the changes in her expressive countenance gave one no time to think of that. Her smile was perfect; her pouting charming; the play of the face was in the mouth. Her eyes were beautifully shaped, but their expression hardly seemed to vary. In colouring she was not unlike her mother; only she had not so much of the red-haired tints in her complexion, and her long-shaped, serious grey eyes were fringed with dark lashes, instead of her mother’s insipid flaxen ones. Molly fell in love with her, so to speak, on the instant. She sate there warming her feet and hands, as much at her ease as if she had been there all her life; not particularly attending to her mother—who, all the time, was studying either her or her dress—measuring Molly and Mr. Gibson with grave observant looks, as if guessing how she should like them.

“There’s a hot breakfast ready for you in the dining-room, when you are ready for it,” said Mr. Gibson. “I’m sure you must want it after your night-journey.” He looked round at his wife, at Cynthia’s mother; but she did not seem inclined to leave the warm room again.

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