`My sister Beth is a very fastidious girl when she likes to be,' said Amy, well pleased at Beth's success. She meant `fascinating', but as Grace didn't know the exact meaning of either word `fastidious' sounded well, and made a good impression. An impromptu circus, fox and geese, and an amicable game of croquet finished the afternoon. At sunset the tent was struck, hampers packed, wickets pulled up, boats loaded, and the whole party floated down the river, singing at the tops of their voices. Ned, getting sentimental, warbled a serenade with the pensive refrain:

`Alone, alone, ah! woe, alone,'

and at the lines:

`We each are young, we each have a heart,
Oh, why should we thus stand coldly apart,'
he looked at Meg with such a lackadaisical expression that she laughed outright and spoilt his song.

`How can you be so cruel to me?' he whispered, under cover of a lively chorus. `You've kept close to that starched-up English woman all day, and now you snub me.'

`I didn't mean to; but you looked so funny I really couldn't help it,' replied Meg, passing over the first part of his reproach; for it was quite true that she had shunned him, remembering the Moffat party and the talk after it.

Ned was off ended, and turned to Sallie for consolation, saying to her, rather pettishly, `There isn't a bit of flirt in that girl, is there?'

`Not a particle; but she's a dear,' returned Sallie, def ending her friend, even while confessing her shortcomings.

`She's not a stricken deer, anyway,' said Ned, trying to be witty, and succeeding as well as very young gentlemen usually do. On the lawn, where it had gathered, the little party separated, with cordial good nights and good-byes, for the Vaughns were going to Canada. As the four sisters went home through the garden, Miss Kate looked after them, saying, without the patronising tone in her voice, `In spite of their demonstrative manners, American girls are very nice when one knows them.'

`I quite agree with you,' said Mr. Brooke.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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