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- The Long Vacation - 5/58 -
"I put it further back than Mr. Somers' going," said Gertrude. "He never was properly looked after since Cherry married. What is he to do now?"
"Just nothing. If he wishes to live or have a chance of working again, he must go to the seaside and vegetate, attempt nothing for the next six months, nor even think about St. Matthew's for a year, and, as they told me afterwards, be only able to go on cautiously even then."
"How did he take it?"
"He laid his head against Cherry, who was standing by his chair, put an arm round her, and said, 'There!' and she gave him such a smile as I would not have missed seeing on any account. 'Mine now,' she said. 'Best!' he said. He is too much tired and worn out to vex himself about anything."
"Where are they to go? Not to Ewmouth, or all the family worries would come upon them. Alda would give him no peace."
"Certainly not there. Brownlow advises Rockquay. His delicate brother is a curate there, and it agrees with him better than any other place. So I am to go and see for a house for them. It is the very best thing for Cherry."
"Indeed it is. Was not she like herself last night? Anna says she has never brightened up so much before! I do believe that if Clement goes on mending, the dear person will have a good time yet; nay, all the better now that she is free to be a thorough-going Underwood again."
"You Underwooder than Underwood!"
"Exactly! I never did like-—Yes, Lance, I am going to have it out. I do think Clement would have done better to let her alone."
"He did let her alone. He told me so."
"Yes, but she let out to me the difference between that time and the one of the first offer when dear Felix could not keep back his delight at keeping her; whereas she could not help seeing that she was a burthen on Clement's soul, between fear of neglecting her and that whirl of parish work, and that St. Wulstan's Hall was wanted for the girls' school. Besides, Wilmet persuaded her."
"She did. But it turned out well. The old man worshipped her, and she was very fond of him."
"Oh! very well in a way, but you know better, Lance."
"Well, perhaps he did not begin young enough. He was a good, religious man, but Pro Ecclesia Dei had not been his war-cry from his youth, and he did not understand, and thought it clerical; good, but outside his life. Still, she was happy."
"Petting, Society, Art, travels! I had rather have had our two first years of tiffs than all that sort of happiness."
"Tiffs! I thought we might have gone in for the Dunmow flitch."
"You might! Do you mean that you forget how fractious and nasty and abominable I was, and how many headaches I gave you?"
"Only what you had to put up with."
"You don't recollect that first visit of my father's, when I was so frightfully cross because you said we must ask the Lambs and Bruces to dinner? You came down in the morning white as a ghost, an owl in its blinkers, and though I know you would rather have died than have uttered a word, no sooner were you off than he fell upon me with, 'Mrs. Daisy, I give you to understand that you haven't a husband made of such tough commodity as you are used to at home, and if you worry him you will have to rue it.'"
"What an ass I must have looked! Did I really go playing the martyr?"
"A very smiling martyr, pretending to be awfully jolly. I believe I requited papa by being very cross."
"At his interfering, eh? No wonder."
"Chiefly to conceal my fright, but I did begin trying not to fly out as I used to do, and I was frightened whenever I did so."
"Poor Daisy! That is why you always seemed to think every headache your fault."
"The final effect-—I won't say cure-—was from that book on education which said that a child should never know a cross word or look between father and mother. So you really have forgotten how horrid I could be?"
"Or never felt it! But to return to our muttons. I can't believe otherwise than that Cherry liked her old man, and if their parallel lines did not meet, she never found it out."
"That is true. She liked him and leant on him, and was constantly pleased and amused as well as idolized, but I don't think the deep places in her heart were stirred. Then there were constraints. He could not stand Angela's freaks. And his politics-—"
"He was not so very much advanced."
"Enough not to like the 'Pursuivant' to lie about, nor her writing for it, even about art or books; nor did his old bones enjoy the rivers at Vale Leston. Now you will see a rebound."
"Or will she be too tender of him to do what he disliked?"
"That will be the test. Now she has Clement, I expect an article will come on the first book they read together."
Lance laughed, but returned to defend his sister.
"Indeed she was attached to him. She was altogether drooping and crushed at Vale Leston in the autumn."
"It was too soon. She was overdone with the multitudes, and in fact it was more the renewal of the old sorrow than the new one. Anna tells me that when they returned there was the same objectless depression. She would not take up her painting again, she said it was of no use, there was no one to care. I remember her being asked once to do something for the Kyrle Society, and Mr. Grinstead did not like it, but now Clement's illness has made a break, and in a new place, with him to occupy her instead of only that dawdling boy, you will see what you shall see!"
"Ah! Gerald!" was the answer, in a doubtful, wistful tone, just as they arrived.
CHAPTER IV. SLUM, SEA, OR SEASON
For in spite of all her mother had taught her, She was really remarkably fond of the water. JANE TAYLOR.
Mr. and Mrs. Lancelot Underwood had not long been gone to their meeting when there ran into the drawing-room a girl a year older than Anna, with a taller, better figure, but a less clear complexion, namely Emilia, the adopted child of Mr. Travis Underwood. She found Anna freshening up the flowers, and Gerald in an arm-chair reading a weekly paper.
"I knew I should find you," she cried, kissing Anna, while Gerald held out a finger or two without rising. "I thought you would not be gone primrosing."
"A perspicacity that does you credit," said Gerald, still behind his paper.
"Are the cousins gone?" asked Anna.
"Of course they are; Cousin Marilda, in a bonnet like a primrose bank, is to pick up Fernan somewhere, but I told her I was too true to my principles to let wild horses drag me there."
"Let alone fat tame ones," ejaculated Gerald.
"What did she say?" asked Anna.
"Oh, she opened her eyes, and said she never should ask any one to act against principles, but principles in her time were for Church and State. Is Aunt Cherry in the vortex?"
"No, she is reading to Uncle Clem, or about the house somewhere. I don't think she would go now at least."
"Uncle Grin's memory would forbid," muttered Gerald. "He saw a good many things, though he was a regular old-fashioned Whig, an Edinburgh Review man."
"You've got the 'Censor' there! Oh, let me see it. My respected cousins don't think it good for little girls. What are you going to do?"
"I believe the doctors want Uncle Clem to get a long leave of absence, and that we shall go to the seaside," replied Anna.
"Oh! then you will come to us for the season! We reckon on it."
"No, indeed, Emmie, I don't see how I can. Those two are not in the least fit to go without some one."
"But then mother is reckoning on our having a season together. You lost the last."
Gerald laughed a little and hummed—-
"If I were na to marry a rich sodger lad My friends would be dismal, my minnie be mad."
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