Late in the afternoon

Mr. Brownlow did really look as if he were taking
a holiday. He came forth into the avenue as Sara was going out, and
joined her, and she seized her opportunity, and took his arm, and led
him up and down in the afternoon sunshine. It is a pretty sight to see a
girl clinging to her father, pouring all her guesses and philosophies
into his ears, and claiming his confidence. It is a different kind of
intercourse, more picturesque, more amusing, in some ways even more
touching, than the intercourse of a mother and daughter, especially when
there is, as with these two, no mother in the case, and the one sole
parent has both offices to fulfill. Sara clung to her father’s arm, and
congratulated herself upon having got him out, and promised herself a
good long talk. “For I never see you, papa,” she said; “you know I
never see you. You are at that horrid office the whole long day.”

“Only all the mornings and all the evenings,” said Mr. Brownlow, “which
is a pretty good proportion, I think, of life.”

“Oh, but there is always Jack or somebody,” said Sara, tightening her
clasp on his arm; “and sometimes one wants only you.”

“Have you something to say to me then,” said her father, with a little
curiosity, even anxiety,–for of course his own disturbed thoughts
accompanied him everywhere, and put meanings into every word that was
said.

“Something!” said Sara, with indignation; “heaps of things. I want to
tell you and I want to ask you;–but, by-the-by, answer me first, before
I forget, is this Mr. Powys very poor?”

“Powys!” said Mr. Brownlow, with a suppressed thrill of excitement.
“What of Powys? It seems to me I hear of nothing else. Where has the
young fellow gone?”

“_I_ did not do any thing to him,” said Sara, turning her large eyes
full of mock reproach upon her father’s face. “You need not ask him from
me in that way. I suppose he has gone home–to his mother and his little
sisters,” she added, dropping her voice.

“And what do you know about his mother and his little sisters?” said Mr.
Brownlow, startled yet amused by her tone.

“Well, he told me he had such people belonging to him, papa,” said Sara;
“and he gave me a very grand description before that of what it is to be
poor. I want to know if he is very poor? and could I send any thing to
them, or do any thing? or are they too grand for that? or couldn’t you
raise his salary or something? You ought to do something, since he is a
favorite of your own.”

“Did he complain to you?” said Mr. Brownlow, in consternation; “and I
trust in goodness, Sara, you did not propose to do any thing for them as
you say?”

“No indeed; I had not the courage,” said Sara. “I never have sense
enough to do such things. Complain! oh, dear no; he did not complain.
But he was so much in earnest about it, you know, _apropos_ of that
silly speech I made at luncheon, that he made me quite uncomfortable. Is
he a–a gentleman, papa?”

“He is my clerk,” said Mr. Brownlow, shortly; and then the conversation
dropped. Sara was not a young woman to be stopped in this way in
ordinary cases, though she did stop this time, seeing her father fully
meant it; but all the same she did not stop thinking, which indeed, in
her case, was a thing very difficult to do.

Then Mr. Brownlow began to nerve himself for a great effort. It excited
him as nothing had excited him for many a long year. He drew his child’s
arm more closely through his own, and drew her nearer to him. They were
going slowly down the avenue, upon which the afternoon sunshine lay
warm, all marked and lined across by columns of trees, and the light
shadows of the half-developed foliage. “Do you know,” he said, “I have
been thinking a great deal lately about a thing you once said to me. I
don’t know whether you meant it–”

“I never say any thing I don’t mean,” said Sara, interrupting him; but
she too felt that something more than usual was coming, and did not
enlarge upon the subject. “What was it, papa?” she said, clinging still
closer to his arm.

“You refused Motherwell,” said Mr. Brownlow, “though he could have given
you an excellent position, and is, they tell me, a very honest fellow. I
told you to consider it, but you refused him, Sara.”

“Well, no,” said Sara, candidly; “refusing people is very clumsy sort of
work, unless you want to tell of it after, and that is mean. I did not
refuse him. I only contrived, you know, that he should not speak.”

“Well, I suppose that it comes to about the same thing,” said Mr.
Brownlow. “What I am going to say now is very serious. You once told me
you would marry the man I asked you to marry. Hush, my darling, don’t
speak yet. I dare say you never thought I would ask such a proof of
confidence from you; but there are strange turns in circumstances. I am
not going to be cruel, like a tyrannical father in a book; but if I were
to ask you to do such a great thing for me–to do it blindly without
asking questions, to try to love and to marry a man, not of your own
choice, but mine–Sara, would you do it? Don’t speak yet. I would not
bind you. At the last moment you should be free to withdraw from the
bargain–”

“Let me speak, papa!” cried Sara. “Do you mean to say that you _need_
this–that you really _want_ it? Is it something that can’t be done any
other way? first tell me that.”

“I don’t think it can be done any other way,” said Mr. Brownlow sadly,
with a sigh.

“Then of course I will do it,” said Sara. She turned to him as she
spoke, and fixed her eyes intently on his face. Her levity, her
lightness, her careless freedom were all gone. No doubt she had meant
the original promise, as she said, but she had made it with a certain
gay bravado, little dreaming of any thing to follow. Now she was
suddenly sobered and silenced. There was no mistaking the reality in Mr.
Brownlow’s face. Sara was not a careful, thoughtful woman; she was a
creature who leaped at conclusions, and would not linger over the most
solemn decision. And then she was not old enough to see both sides of a
question. She jumped at it, and gave her pledge, and fixed her fate more
quickly than another temperament would have chosen a pair of gloves. But
for all that she was very grave. She looked up in her father’s face,
questioning him with her eyes. She was ready to put her life in his
hands, to give him her future, her happiness, as if it had been a flower
for his coat. But yet she was sufficiently roused to see that this was
no laughing matter. “Of course I will do it,” she repeated without any
grandeur of expression; but she never looked so grave, or had been so
serious all her life.

As for her father, he looked at her with a gaze that seemed to devour
her. He wanted to see into her heart. He wanted to look through and
through those two blue spheres into the soul which was below, and he
could not do it. He was so intent upon this that he did not even
perceive at the first minute that she had consented. Then the words
caught his ear and went to his heart–“Of course I will do it.” When he
caught the meaning, strangely enough his object went altogether out of
his mind, and he thought of nothing but of the half pathetic,
unhesitating, magnificent generosity of his child. She had not asked a
question, why or wherefore, but had given herself up at once with a kind
of prodigal readiness. A sudden gush of tears, such as had not refreshed
them for years, came into Mr. Brownlow’s eyes. Not that they ran over,
or fell, or displayed themselves in any way, but they came up under the
bushy eyebrows like water under reeds, making a certain glimmer in the
shade. “My dear child!” he said, with a voice that had a jar in it such
as profound emotion gives; and he gathered up her two little hands into
his, and pressed them together, holding her fast to him. He was so
touched that his impulse was to give her back her word, not to take
advantage of it; to let every thing go to ruin if it would, and keep his
child safe. But was it not for herself? It was in the moment when this
painful sweetness was going to his very heart that he bent over her and
kissed her on the forehead. He could not say any thing, but there are
many occasions, besides those proper to lovers, when that which is
inexpressible may be put into a kiss. The touch of her father’s lips on
Sara’s forehead told her a hundred things; love, sorrow, pain, and a
certain poignant mixture of joy and humiliation. He could not have
uttered a word to save his life. She was willing to do it, with a lavish
youthful promptitude; and he, was he to accept the sacrifice? This was
what John Brownlow was thinking when he stooped over her and pressed his
lips on his child’s brow. She had taken from him the power of speech.

Such a supreme moment can not last. Sara, too, not knowing why, had felt
that _serrement du cœur_, and had been pierced by the same poignant
sweetness. But she knew little reason for it, and none in particular why
her father should be so moved, and her spirits came back to her long
before his did. She walked along by his side in silence, feeling by the
close pressure of her hands that he had not quite come to himself for
some time after _she_ had come back to herself. With every step she took
the impression glided off Sara’s mind; her natural light-heartedness
returned to her. Moreover, she was not to be compelled to marry that
very day, so there was no need for being miserable about it just yet at
least. She was about to speak half a dozen times before she really
ventured on utterance; and when at last she took her step out of the
solemnity and sublimity of the situation, this was how Sara plunged into
it, without any interval of repose.

“I beg your pardon, papa; I would not trouble you if I could help it.
But please, now it is all decided, will you just tell me–am I to marry
any body that turns up? or is there any one in particular? I beg your
pardon, but one likes to know.”

Mr. Brownlow was struck by this demand, as was to be expected. It
affected his nerves, though nobody had been aware that he had any
nerves. He gave an abrupt, short laugh, which was not very merry, and
clasped her hands tighter than ever in his.

“Sara,” he said, “this is not a joke. Do you know there is scarcely any
thing I would not have done rather than ask this of you? It is a very
serious matter to me.”

“I am sure I am treating it very seriously,” said Sara. “I don’t take it
for a joke; but you see, papa, there is a difference. What you care for
is that it should be settled. It is not you that have the marrying to
do; but for my part it is _that_ that is of the most importance. I
should rather like to know who it was, if it would be the same to you.”

Once more Mr. Brownlow pressed in his own the soft, slender hands he
held. “You shall know in time–you shall know in good time,” he said,
“if it is inevitable;” and he gave a sort of moan over her as a woman
might have done. His beautiful[B] child! who was fit for a prince’s
bride, if any prince were good enough. Perhaps even yet the necessity
might be escaped.

[B] The fact was, Sara was not beautiful. There was not the least
trace of perfection about her; but her father had prepossessions and
prejudices, such as parents are apt to have, unphilosophical as it may
be.

“But I should like to know now,” said Sara; and then she gave a little
start, and colored suddenly, and looked him quickly, keenly in the face.
“Papa!” she said;–“you don’t mean–do you mean–this Mr. Powys,
perhaps?”

Mr. Brownlow actually shrank from her eye. He grew pale, almost green;
faltered, dropped her hands–“My darling!” he said feebly. He had not
once dreamt of making any revelation on this subject. He had not even
intended to put it to her at all, had it not come to him, as it were, by
necessity; and consequently he was quite unprepared to defend himself.
As for Sara, she clung to him closer, and looked him still more keenly
in the eyes.

“Tell me,” she said; “I will keep my word all the same. It will make no
difference to me. Papa, tell me! it is better I should know at once.”

“You ought not to have asked me that question, Sara,” said Mr. Brownlow,
recovering himself; “if I ask such a sacrifice of you, you shall know
all about it in good time. I can’t tell; my own scheme does not look so
reasonable to me as it did–I may give it up altogether. But in the mean
time don’t ask me any more questions. And if you should repent, even at
the last moment–”

“But if it is necessary to you, papa?” said Sara, opening her eyes–“if
it has to be done, what does it matter whether I repent or not?”

“Nothing is necessary to me that would cost your happiness,” said Mr.
Brownlow. And then they went on again for some time in silence. As for
Sara, she had no inclination to have the magnificence of her sacrifice
thus interfered with. For the moment her feeling was that, on the whole,
it would even be better that the marriage to which she devoted herself
should be an unhappy and unfit one. If it were happy it would not be a
sacrifice; and to be able to repent at the last, like any commonplace
young woman following her own inclinations, was not at all according to
Sara’s estimation of the contract. She went on by her father’s side,
thinking of that and of some other things in silence. Her thoughts were
of a very different tenor from his. She was not taking the matter
tragically as he supposed–no blank veil had been thrown over Sara’s
future by this intimation, though Mr. Brownlow, walking absorbed by her
side, was inclined to think so. On the contrary, her imagination had
begun to play with the idea lightly, as with a far-off possibility in
which there was some excitement, and even some amusement possible. While
her father relapsed into painful consideration of the whole subject,
Sara went on demurely by his side, not without the dawnings of a smile
about the corners of her mouth. There was nothing said between them for
a long time. It seemed to Mr. Brownlow as if the conversation had broken
off at such a point that it would be hard to recommence it. He seemed to
have committed and betrayed himself without doing any good whatever by
it; and he was wroth at his own weakness. Softening of the brain! there
might be something in what the Rector said. Perhaps it was disease, and
not the pressure of circumstances, which had made him take so seriously
the first note of alarm. Perhaps his whole scheme to secure Brownlows
and his fortune to Sara was premature, if not unnecessary. It was while
he was thus opening up anew the whole matter, that Sara at last ventured
to betray the tenor of her thoughts.

“Papa,” she said, “I asked you a question just now, and you
did not answer me; but answer me now, for I want to know.
This–this–gentleman–Mr. Powys. Is he–a gentleman, papa?”

“I told you he was my clerk, Sara,” said Mr. Brownlow, much annoyed by
the question.

“I know you did, but that is not quite enough. A man may be a gentleman
though he is a clerk. I want a plain answer,” said Sara, looking up
again into her father’s face.

And he was not without the common weakness of Englishmen for good
connections–very far from that. He would not have minded, to tell the
truth, giving a thousand pounds or so on the spot to any known family of
Powys which would have adopted the young Canadian into its bosom. “I
don’t know what Powys has to do with the matter,” he said; and then
unconsciously his tone changed. “It is a good name; and I think–I
imagine–he must belong somehow to the Lady Powys who once lived near
Masterton. His father was well born, but, I believe,” added Mr.
Brownlow, with a slight shiver, “that he married–beneath him. I think
so. I can’t say I am quite sure.”

“I should have thought you would have known every thing,” said Sara. “Of
course, papa, you know I am dying to ask you a hundred questions, but I
won’t, if you will only just tell me one thing. A girl may promise to
accept any one–whom–whom her people wish her to have; but is it as
certain,” said Sara, solemnly, “that he–will have me?”

Then Mr. Brownlow stood still for a moment, looking with wonder,
incomprehension, and a certain mixture of awe and dismay upon his child.
Sara, obeying his movement, stood still also with her eyes cast down,
and just showing a glimmer of malice under their lids, with the color
glowing softly in her cheeks, with the ghost of a smile coming and going
round her pretty mouth. “Oh child, child!” was all Mr. Brownlow said. He
was moved to smile in spite of himself, but he was more moved to wonder.
After all, she was making a joke of it–or was it really possible that,
in this careless smiling way, the young creature, who had thrust her
life into his hands like a flower, to be disposed of as he would, was
going forward to meet all unknown evils and dangers? The sober, steady,
calculating man could understand a great many things more abstruse, but
he could not understand this.

This, however, was about the end of their conference, for they had
reached old Betty’s cottage by this time, who came out, ungrateful old
woman as she was, to courtesy as humbly to Mr. Brownlow as if he had
been twenty old squires, and to ask after his health. And Sara had
occasion to speak to her friend Pamela on the other side of the way. It
was not consistent with the father’s dignity, of course, to go with her
to visit those humble neighbors, but he stood at the gate with old Betty
behind in a whirl of courtesies, watching while Sara’s tall, straight,
graceful figure went across the road, and Pamela with her little, fresh,
bright, dewy face, like an April morning, came running out to meet her.
“Poor little thing!” Mr. Brownlow said to himself–though he could not
have explained why he was sorry for Pamela; and then he turned back
slowly and went home, crossing the long shadows of the trees. He was not
satisfied with himself or with his day’s work. He was like a doctor
accustomed to regard with a cool and impartial eye the diseases of
others, but much at a loss when he had his own personal pains in hand.
He was uneasy and ashamed when he was alone, and reminded himself that
he had managed very badly. What was he to do? Was he to act as a doctor
would, and put his domestic malady into the hands of a brother
practitioner? But this was a suggestion at which he shuddered. Was he to
take Jack into his counsel and get the aid of his judgment?–but Jack
was worse, a thousand times worse, than a stranger. He had all his life
been considered a very clever lawyer, and he knew it; he had got scores
of people out of scrapes, and, one way or other, half the county was
beholden to him; and he could do nothing but get himself deeper and
deeper into his own miserable scrape. Faint thoughts of making it into
“a case” and taking opinions on it–taking Wrinkell’s opinion, for
instance, quietly, his old friend who had a clear head and a great deal
of experience–came into his mind. He had made a muddle of it himself.
And then the Rector’s question recurred to him with still greater
force–could it be softening of the brain? Perhaps it would be best to
speak to the doctor first of all.

Meanwhile Sara had gone into Mrs. Swayne’s little dark parlor, out of
the sunshine, and had seated herself at Pamela’s post in the window,
very dreamy and full of thought. She did not even speak for a long time,
but let her little friend prattle to her. “I saw you and Mr. Brownlow
coming down the avenue,” said Pamela; “what a long time you were, and
how strange it looked! Sometimes you had a great deal to say, and then
for a long time you would walk on and on, and never look at each other.
Was he scolding you? Sometimes I thought he was.”

Sara made no answer to this question; she only uttered a long, somewhat
demonstrative sigh, and then went off upon a way of her own. “I wonder
how it would have felt to have had a mother?” she said, and sighed
again, to her companion’s great dismay.

“How it would have felt!” said Pamela; “that is just the one thing that
makes me feel I don’t envy you. You have quantities and quantities of
fine things, but I have mamma.”

“And I have papa,” said Sara, quickly, not disposed to be set at a
disadvantage; “that was not what I meant. Sometimes, though you may
think it very wicked, I feel as if I was rather glad; for, of course, if
mamma had been living it would have been very different for me; and then
sometimes I think I would give a great deal–Look here. I don’t like
talking of such things; but did you ever think what you would do if you
were married? Fanny Hardcastle likes talking of it. How do you think you
should feel? to the gentleman, you know?”

“Think,” said Pamela; “does one need to think about it? love him, to be
sure.” And this she said with a rising color, and with two rays of new
light waking up in her eyes.

“Ah, love him,” said Sara; “it is very easy to talk; but how are you to
love him? that does not come of itself just when it is told, you know;
at least I suppose it doesn’t–I am sure I never tried.”

“But if you did not love him, of course you would not marry him,” said
Pamela, getting confused.

“Yes–that is just one of the things it is so easy to say,” said Sara;
“and I suppose at your age you don’t know any better. Don’t you know
that people _have_ to marry, whether they like it or not? and when they
never, never would have thought of it themselves? I suppose,” said Sara,
in the strength of her superior knowledge, “that most of us are married
like that. Because it suits our people, or because– I don’t know
what–any thing but one’s own will.” And this little speech the young
martyr again rounded with a sigh.

“Are you going to be married?” said Pamela, drawing a footstool close to
her friend’s feet, and looking up with awe into her face. “I wish you
would tell me. Mamma has gone to Dewsbury, and she will not be back for
an hour. Oh, do tell me–I will never repeat it to any body. And, dear
Miss Brownlow, if you don’t love him–”

“Hush,” said Sara; “I never said any thing about a _him_. It is you who
are such a romantic little girl. What I was speaking of was one’s duty;
one has to do one’s duty, whether one likes it or not.”

This oracular speech was very disappointing to Pamela. She looked up
eagerly with her bright eyes, trying to make out the romance which she
had no doubt existed. “I can fancy,” she said, softly, “why you wanted
your mother;” and her little hand stole into Sara’s, which lay on her
knee. Sara did not resist the soft caress. She took the hand, and
pressed it close between her own, which were longer, and not so rounded
and childlike; and then, being a girl of uncertain disposition, she
laughed, to Pamela’s great surprise and dismay.

“I think, perhaps, I like to be my own mistress best,” she said; “if
mamma had lived she never would have let me do any thing I wanted to
do–and then most likely she would not have known what I meant. It is
Jack, you know, who is most like mamma.”

“But he is very nice,” said Pamela, quickly; and then she bent down her
head as quickly, feeling the hot crimson rushing to her face, though she
did not well know why. Sara took no notice of it–never observed it,
indeed–and kept smoothing down in her own her little neighbor’s soft
small hand.

“Oh yes,” she said, “and I am very fond of my brother; only he and I are
not alike, you know. I wonder who Jack will marry, if he ever marries;
but it is very fine to hear him talk of that–perhaps he never did to
you. He is so scornful of every body who falls in love, and calls them
asses, and all sorts of things. I should just like to see him fall in
love himself. If he were to make a very foolish marriage it would be
fun. They say those dreadfully wise people always do.”

“Do they?” said Pamela; and she bent down to look at the border of her
little black silk apron, and to set it to rights, very energetically,
with her unoccupied hand. But she did not ask any farther question; and
so the two girls sat together for a few minutes, hand clasped in hand,
the head of the one almost touching the other, yet each far afield in
her own thoughts; of which, to tell the truth, though she was so much
the elder and the wiser, Sara’s thoughts were the least painful, the
least heavy, of the two.

“You don’t give me any advice, Pamela,” she said at last. “Come up the
avenue with me at least. Papa has gone home, and it is quite dark here
out of the sun. Put on your hat and come with me. I like the light when
it slants so, and falls in long lines. I think you have a headache
to-day, and a walk will do you good.”

“Yes, I think I have a little headache,” said Pamela, softly; and she
put on her hat and followed her companion out. The sunshine had passed
beyond Betty’s cottage, and cut the avenue obliquely in two–the one end
all light, the other all gloom. The two young creatures ran lightly
across the shady end, Sara, as always, leading the way. Her mind, it is
true, was as full as it could be of her father’s communication, but the
burden sat lightly on her. Now and then a word or two would tingle, as
it were, in her ears; now and then it would occur to her that her fate
was sealed, as she said, and a sigh, half false half true, would come to
her lips, but in the mean time she was more amused by the novelty of the
position than discouraged by the approach of fate.

“What are you thinking of?” she said, when they came into the tender
light in the farther part of the avenue; for the two, by this time, had
slackened their pace, and drawn close together, as is the wont of girls,
though they did not speak.

“I was only looking at our shadows going before us,” said Pamela, and
this time the little girl echoed very softly Sara’s sigh.

“They are not at all beautiful to look at; they are shadows on stilts,”
said Sara; “you might think of something more interesting than that.”

“But I wish something did go before us like that to show the way,” said
Pamela. “I wish it was true about guardian angels–if we could only see
them, that is to say; and then it is so difficult to know–”

“What?” said Sara; “you are too young to want a guardian angel; you are
not much more than a little angel yourself. When one has begun to go
daily farther from the cast, one knows the good of being quite a child.”

“But I am not quite a child,” said Pamela, under her breath.

“Oh yes, you are. But look, here Jack must be coming; don’t you hear the
wheels? I did not know it was so late. Shall you mind going back alone,
for I must run and dress? And please come to me in the morning as soon
as ever they are gone, I have such heaps of things to say.”

Saying this, Sara ran off, flying along under the trees, she and her
shadow; and poor little Pamela, not so much distressed as perhaps she
ought to have been to be left alone, turned back toward the house. The
dog-cart was audible before it dashed through the gate, and Pamela’s
heart beat, keeping time with the ringing of the mare’s feet and the
sound of the wheels. But it stopped before Betty’s door, and some one
jumped down, and the mare and the dog-cart and the groom dashed past
Pamela in a kind of whirlwind. Mr. John had keen eyes, and saw something
before him in the avenue; and he was quick-witted, and timed his
inquiries after Betty in the most prudent way. Before Pamela, whose
heart beat louder than ever, was half way down the avenue, he had joined
her, evidently, whatever Betty or Mrs. Swayne might say to the contrary,
in the most purely accidental way.

“This is luck,” said Jack; “I have not seen you for two whole days,
except at the window, which doesn’t count. I don’t know how we managed
to endure the dullness before that window came to be inhabited. Come
this way a little, under the chestnuts–you have the sun in your eyes.”

“Oh, I don’t mind,” said Pamela, “and I must not wait; I am going home.”

“I suppose you have been walking with Sara, and she has left you to go
home alone,” said Jack; “it is like her. She never thinks of any thing.
But tell me what you have been doing these two frightfully long days?”

From which it will be seen that Mr. John, as well as his sister, had
made a little progress toward intimacy since he became first acquainted
with the lodgers at Mrs. Swayne’s.

“I don’t think they have been frightfully long days,” said Pamela,
making the least little timid response to his emphasis and to his
eyes–wrong, no doubt, but almost inevitable. “I have been doing nothing
more than usual; mamma has wanted me, that’s all.”

“Then it is too bad of mamma,” said Jack; “you know you ought to be out
every day. I must come and talk to her about it–air and exercise, you
know.”

“But you are not a doctor,” said Pamela, with a soft ring of
laughter–not that he was witty, but that the poor child was happy, and
showed it in spite of herself; for Mr. John had turned, and was walking
down the avenue, very slowly, pausing almost every minute, and not at
all like a man who was going home to dinner. He was still young. I
suppose that was why he preferred Pamela to the more momentous fact
which was in course of preparation at the great house.

“I am a little of every thing,” he said; “I should like to go out to
Australia, and get a farm, and keep sheep. Don’t you like the old
stories and the old pictures with the shepherdesses? If you had a little
hut all covered with flowers, and a crook with ribbons–”

“Oh, but I should not like to be a shepherdess,” cried Pamela, in haste.

“Shouldn’t you? Well, I did not mean that; but to go out into the bush,
or the backwoods, or whatever they call it, and do every thing and get
every thing for one’s self. Shouldn’t you like that? Better than all the
nonsense and all the ceremony here,” said Jack, bending down to see
under the shade of her hat, which as it happened was difficult enough.

“_We_ don’t have much ceremony,” said Pamela, “but if I was a lady like
your sister–”

“Like Sara!” said Jack, and he nodded his head with a little brotherly
contempt. “Don’t be any thing different from what you are, please. I
should like people to wear always the same dress, and keep exactly as
they were when–the first time, you know. I like you, for instance, in
your red cloak. I never see a red cloak without thinking of you. I hope
you will keep that one forever and ever,” said the philosophical youth.
As for Pamela, she could not but feel a little confused, wondering
whether this, or Sara’s description of her brother, was the reality. And
she should not have known what to answer but that the bell at the house
interfered in her behalf, and began to send forth its touching call–a
sound which could not be gainsayed.

“There is the bell,” she cried; “you will be too late for dinner. Oh,
please don’t come any farther. There is old Betty looking out.”

“Bother dinner,” said Mr. John, “and old Betty too,” he added, under his
breath. He had taken her hand, the same hand which Sara had been
holding, to bid her good-bye, no doubt in the ordinary way. At all
events, old Betty’s vicinity made the farewell all that politeness
required. But he did not leave her until he had opened the gate for her,
and watched her enter at her own door. “When my sister leaves Miss
Preston in the avenue,” he said, turning gravely to Betty, with that
severe propriety for which he was distinguished, “be sure you always see
her safely home; she is too young to walk about alone.” And with these
dignified words Mr. John walked on, having seen the last of her, leaving
Betty speechless with amazement. “As if I done it!” Betty said. And then
he went home to dinner. Thus both Mr. Brownlow’s children, though he did
not know it, had begun to make little speculations for themselves in
undiscovered ways.