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TheProjectGutenbergEBookofSistersThree,byMrs GeorgedeHorneVaizey ThiseBookisfortheuseofanyoneanywhereatnocostandwith almostnorestrictionswhatsoever Youmaycopyit,giveitawayor re-useitunderthetermsoftheProjectGutenbergLicenseincluded withthiseBookoronlineatwww.gutenberg.org Title:SistersThree Author:Mrs GeorgedeHorneVaizey Illustrator:StanleyLloyd ReleaseDate:April16,2007[EBook#21103] Language:English ***STARTOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKSISTERSTHREE*** ProducedbyNickHodsonofLondon,England MrsGeorgedeHorneVaizey "SistersThree" ChapterOne NewYear’sDay “Iwishsomethingwouldhappen!”sighedNorah “If it were something nice,” corrected Lettice “Lots of things happen everyday,buttheyaremostlydisagreeable Gettingup,forinstance,in the cold, dark mornings—and practising—and housework, and getting readyforstupidoldclasses—Idon’tcomplainofhavingtoolittletodo I wanttodoless,andtobeabletoamusemyselfmore.” “Wewantachange,thatisthetruth,”saidHilary,bendingforwardonher seat, and sending the poker into the heart of the fire with a vigorous shove “Our lives jog-trot along in the same way year after year, and it grows monotonous I declare, when I think that this is the first day of another January it makes me ill! Fifty-two more Mondays to sit in the morning-roomanddarnstockings Fifty-twoSaturdaystogiveoutstores Threehundredandsixty-fivedaystodustornaments,interviewthecook, and say, ‘Well, let me see! The cold mutton had better be used up for lunch’—Oh,dearme!” “I’lltellyouwhat—let’shaveanicelonggrumble,”saidLettice,givingher chair a hitch nearer the fire, and bending forward with a smile of enjoyment “Let’s hold an Indignation Meeting on our own account, and discussourgrievances Womenalwayshavegrievancesnowadays—it’s thefashionablething,andIliketobeinthefashion Threecharmingand beauteousmaidensshutupinthedepthsofthecountryintheveryflower of their youth, with nothing to do—I mean with far too much to do, but withnoamusement,nofriends,novariety!Weareliketheprincessesin thefairytales,shutupinthemoatedtower;onlythentherewerealways fairygodmotherstocometotherescue,andbeautifulprincesingolden chariots Weshallhavetowaitalongtimebeforeanysuchvisitorscome tramping along the Kendal high-road I am sure it sounds melancholy enoughtomakeanyonesorryforus!” “Fatheristhedearestmanintheworld,buthedoesn’tunderstandhowa girlofseventeenfeels Iwasseventeenonmylastbirthday,soit’sworse formethanforyou,forIamreallygrown-up.”Hilarysighed,andrested her sleek little head upon her hand in a pensive, elderly fashion “I believehethinksthatifwehaveacomfortablehomeandenoughtoeat, andmoderatelydecentclothes,weoughttobecontent;butIwantever somuchmorethanthat Ifmotherhadlived—” Therewasashortsilence,andthenNorahtookupthestraininhercrisp, decidedaccents “Iamfifteenandahalf,andIlookverynearlyasoldas youdo,Hilary,andI’maninchtaller Idon’tseewhyIneedgoonwith these stupid old classes If I could go to a good school, it would be anotherthing,forIsimplyadoremusicandpainting,andshouldloveto work hard, and become celebrated; but I don’t believe Miss Briggs can teachmeanymorethanIknowmyself,andthereisnobetterteacherfor milesaround Iffatherwouldonlyletmegoabroadforayear;butheis afraidoftrustingmeoutofhissight IfIhadsevenchildren,I’dbegladto get rid of some of them, if only to get a little peace and quietness at home.” “Motherlikedtheideaofgirlsbeingeducatedathome,thatisthereason why father objects to sending us away The boys must go to boardingschools,ofcourse,becausethereisnooneherewhocantakethemin hand Asforpeaceandquietness,fatherenjoyshavingthehousefull He grumblesatthenoisesometimes,butIbelievehelikesitatthebottomof his heart If we happen to be quiet for a change in the evening, he peersoverhisbookandsays,‘Whatisthematter;hassomethinggone wrong?Whyareyouallsoquiet?’Helovestoseeusfriskingabout.” “Yes, but I can’t frisk any longer—I’m too dull—I want something to happen,”repeatedNorah,obstinately “OtherpeoplehavepartiesonNew Year’sDay,oraChristmas-tree,orcrowdsofvisitorscomingtocall We have been sitting here sewing from ten o’clock this morning—nasty, uninterestingmending—whichisn’thalfdoneyet,thoughitisnearlyfour o’clock And you never think of me! I’m fifteen, and I feel it more than eitherofyou Youseeitislikethis SometimesIfeelquiteyoung,likea child,andthenyoutwoaretoopropertorunaboutandplaywithme,soI amallalone;andthenIfeelquiteoldandgrown-up,andamjustasbadly offasyou,andworse,becauseI’mtheyoungest,andhavetotakethird turnofeverything,andwearyourwashed-outribbons!Ifonlysomething wouldhappenthatwasreallystartlingandexciting—!” “Isinkit’sverynaughtytowishlikethat!”Atiny,reed-likevoiceburstinto the conversation with an unexpectedness which made the three sisters startintheirseats;asmallfigureinawhitepinaforecreptforwardintothe firelight,andraisedapairofreproachfuleyestoNorah’sface “Isinkit’s very naughty to wish like that, ’cause it’s discontented, and you don’t know what it might be like Pr’aps the house might be burned, or the wallsfalldown,oryoumightallbeillanddeadyourselves,andthenyou wouldn’tlikeit!” The three girls looked at each other, undecided between laughter and remorse “Mouse!”saidHilary,severely,“whatareyoudoinghere?Littlegirlshave no business to listen to what big people are saying You must never sit hereagainwithoutlettingusknow,orthatwillbenaughtytoo Wedon’t mean to be discontented, Mouse We felt rather low in our spirits, and wererelievingourselvesbyalittlegrumble,that’sall Ofcourse,weknow thatwehavereallymany,manythingstobethankfulfor—anicehouse, and—ah—garden,andsuchbeautifulcountryallround,and—ah—good health,and—” “And the bunnies, and the pigeons, and the new carpet in the diningroom, and because the puppy didn’t die—and—and—Me!” said the Mouse, severely; and when her sisters burst into a roar of laughter she proceededtojustifyherselfwithindignantprotest “Well,it’sthetrufh!The bunnies are pretty, and you said, ‘Thank goodness! we’ve got a respectablecarpetatlast!’AndLetticecriedwhenthelittlepuprolledits eyesandsquealed,andyousaidtoMissBriggsthatIwasonlyfive,and ifIwasspoiledshecouldn’twonder,’causeIwasthelittlestofseven,and no one could help it! And it’s ‘Happy New Year’ and plum pudding for dinner,soIdon’tsinkyououghttobediscontented!” “Youarequiteright,dear,it’sverynaughtyofus Justrunupstairstothe schoolroom, and get tidy for tea, there’s a good little Mouse Shut the doorbehindyou,forthere’safearfuldraught.”Hilarynoddedtothechild over her shoulder, and then turned to her sisters with an expressive shrug “Whatafunnylittlemitesheis!Wereallymustbecarefulhowwe speakbeforeher Sheunderstandsfartoowell,andshehassuchstern ideas of her own Well, perhaps after all we are wrong to be discontented I hated coming to live in this quiet place, but I have been ever so much stronger; I never have that wretched, breathless feeling now that I had in town, and I can run upstairs to the very top without stopping Youcan’tenjoyanythingwithouthealth,soIoughttobe—Iam! —verythankfulthatIamsomuchbetter.” “IamthankfulthatIhavemytwodearhobbies,andcanforgeteverything in playing and drawing The hours fly when I can sit out of doors and sketch,andmypreciousoldviolinknowsallmysecrets Itcrieswithme, andsingswithme,andshrieksaloudjustasIwoulddoifIdaredtomake allthenoiseIwant,whenIaminatemper IdobelieveIcouldbeoneof the best players in the world if I had the chance I feel it in me! It is aggravating to know that I make mistakes from want of proper lessons, butitisglorioustofeelsuchpoweroveraninstrumentasIdowhenIam properly worked up! I would not change places with any girl who is not musical!” Letticesaidnothing,butsheliftedhereyestotheovalmirrorwhichhung abovethemantelpiece,andinherheartshethought,“AndIamgladthat Iamsopretty Ifoneispretty,everyoneispoliteandattentive;andIdo likepeopletobekind,andmakeafuss!Whenwewereatthestationthe otherdaythepeoplenudgedeachotherandbentoutofthewindowsof the train as I passed I saw them, though I pretended I didn’t And I shouldlookfarnicerifIhadproperclothes IfIcouldonlyhavehadthat furboa,andthefeatherformyhat!ButwhatdoesitmatterwhatIwearin thiswretchedplace?Thereisnoonetoseeme.” The firelight played on three thoughtful faces as the girls sat in silence, each occupied with her special train of thought The room looked grey and colourless in the waning light, and the glimpse of wintry landscape seen through the window did not add to the general cheeriness Hilary shivered,andpickingupalogfromthecornerofthegratedroppeditinto thefire “Well,thereisnouserepining!Wehavehadourgrumble,andwemight as well make the best of circumstances It’s New Year’s Day, so I shall makearesolutiontotrytolikemywork IknowIdoitwell,becauseIam naturally a good housekeeper; but I ought to take more interest in it That’s the way the good people in books, and in the end they dote upontheverythingstheyusedtohate There’snosaying—Imaycome to adore darning stockings and wending linen before the year is out! At anyrateIshallhavethesatisfactionofhavingdonemybest.” “Well, if you try to like your work, I’ll try to remember mine—that’s a bargain,” said Lettice solemnly “There always seems to be something I want particularly to for myself, just when I ought to be at my ‘avocations,’ as Miss Briggs has it It’s a bad plan, because I have to exert myself to finish in time, and get a scolding into the bargain So here’sforpunctualityandreform!” Norah held her left hand high in the air, and began checking off the fingers with ostentatious emphasis “I resolve always to get up in the morningassoonasIamcalled,andwithoutasinglegrumble;alwaysto beamiablewhenannoyed;alwaystodowhatotherpeoplelike,andwhat I dislike myself; always to be good-tempered with the boys, and smile uponthemwhentheypullmyhairandplaytrickswithmythings;always becheerful,contented,ladylikeindeportment,andagreeableinmanner What you say? Silly! I am not silly at all If you are going to make resolutionsatall,yououghttodoitproperly Aimatthesky,andyoumay reachthetopofthetree;aimatthetopofthetree,andyouwillgrovelon theground Youaretoomodestinyouraspirations,andtheywon’tcome to any good; but as for me—with a standard before me of absolute perfection—” “Whoistalkingofperfection?Andwhereisthetea,andwhyareyoustill indarkness,withnoneofthelampslighted?Itisfiveo’clock,andIhave been in my study waiting for the bell to ring for the last half-hour What areyoualldoingovertherebythefire?”criedamasculinevoice,anda man’stallfigurestoodoutlinedinthedoorway ChapterTwo HilaryinLuck Therewasasimultaneousexclamationofdismayasthethreegirlsleapt from their seats, and flew round the room in different directions Hilary lighted the lamps, Norah drew the curtains across the windows, while Lettice first gave a peal to the bell, and then ran forward to escort her fathertoachairbythefire “Teawillbehereinamoment,father;comeandsitdown It’sNewYear’s Day,youknow,andwehavebeensobusymakinggoodresolutionsthat we have had no time for anything practical Why didn’t you come down before?Youarearegularoldwomanaboutafternoontea;Ibelieveyou wouldmissitmorethananyothermeal.” “IbelieveIshould Inevergetonwellwithmywritinginthefirstpartof theafternoon,andteaseemstogivemeafreshstart Soyougirlshave been making good resolutions? That’s good hearing Tell me about them.”AndMrBertrandleantbackinhischair,claspinghishandsbehind hishead,andlookingupathisyoungdaughterswithaquizzicalsmile A photographerwouldhavebeenhappyifhecouldhavetakenaportraitat this moment, for Mr Bertrand was a well-known author, and the books whichwerewritteninthestudyinWestmorelandwentfarandwideover the world, and made his name a household word He had forgotten his belovedworkatthismoment,however,atthesightofsomethingdearer still—histhreeyoungdaughtersstandinggroupedtogetherfacinghimat theothersideoftheold-fashionedgrate,theirfacesflushedfromtheheat ofthefire,theireyesdazzledbythesuddenlight Howtallandwomanlike theylookedintheirdarksergedresses!Lettice’shairframedherfaceina halo of mist-like curls; Hilary held up her head in her dignified little fashion;mischievousNorahsmiledinthebackground Theyweredearer to him than all his heroines; but, alas, far less easy to manage, for the heroines did as they were bid, while the three girls were developing strongwillsoftheirown “Ibelieveyouhavebeenplottingmischief,andthatisthebeginningand theendofyourgoodresolutions!” “Indeed,no,father;wewereinearnest Butitwasareaction,forbefore that we had been grumbling about— Wait a moment, here comes tea We’ll tell you later on Miss Briggs says we should never talk about disagreeabletopicsatameal,andteaisthenicestmealoftheday,so we can’t afford to spoil it Well, and how is Mr Robert getting on this afternoon?” MrBertrand’sfacetwitchedinacomicalmanner Helivedsoentirelyin thebookwhichhewaswritingatthetimethathefounditimpossibleto keep silent on the subject; but he could never rid himself of a comical feelingofembarrassmentindiscussinghisnovelsinthepresenceofhis daughters “Robert,eh?WhatdoyouknowaboutRobert?” “Weknowallabouthim,ofcourse HewasintroubleonWednesday,and you came down to tea with your hair ruffled, and as miserable as you couldbe Hemustbehappyagainto-day,foryourhairisquitesmooth WhenishegoingtomarryLadyMary?” “HeisnotgoingtomarryLadyMaryatall Whatnonsense!LadyMary, indeed! You don’t know anything about it! Give me another cup of tea, and tell me what you have been grumbling about It doesn’t sound a cheerfultopicforNewYear’sDay,butIwouldratherhaveeventhatthan hearsuchridiculousremarks!Grumbling!Whatcanyouhavetogrumble about,Ishouldliketoknow?” “Oh,father!”Thethreeyoungfacesraisedthemselvestohisinwide-eyed protest Theexclamationwasunanimous;butwhenitwasovertherewas amoment’ssilencebeforeHilarytookupthestrain “We are dull, father! We are tired of ourselves You are all day long in your study, the boys spend their time out of doors, and we have no friends Insummertimewedon’tfeelit,forweliveinthegarden,anditis brightandsunny;butinwinteritisdarkandcold Noonecomestosee us,thedaysaresolong,andeverydayislikethelast.” “Mydear,youhavethehousework,andtheothertwohavetheirlessons You are only children as yet, and your school days are not over Most childrenaresenttoboarding-schools,andhavetoworkalldaylong You have liberty and time to yourselves I don’t see why you should complain.” wasreferringtothestrickenlookwithwhichArthurNewcomehadleftthe room where he had received the deathblow to his hopes, and the remembrancebroughtacloudacrosshisownface “Ay!Idon’twonderatthat;butitwillonlyaddtoourtrouble,Lettice,ifyou fellill—andwehavehadenoughanxiety.” Hewasconsciousofnotbeingverysympathetic,buthisfeelingwasso strong on the subject that he could not control his words, and when Letticespokeagainitwaswithnoreferencetoherself “Father,doyouthinkhewillever—forget?—getoverit?” Mr Bertrand hesitated “With most young men I should have said unhesitatingly—yes!butIthinkArthurNewcomewillprobablyremember longerthanmost,thoughIsincerelyhopehewillrecoverintime Butat the best, Lettice, you have caused him bitter pain and humiliation, and, whatisworse,haveshakenhisfaithinwomenfortherestofhislife.” Letticegavealittlecryofpain “Oh,father!Iwanttotalktoyou Iwantto tell you how I feel, but I can’t, while you speak in that hard, dry voice! Don’t you see—don’t you see that you are all killing me with your coldness?Ihavemadeyoumiserable,andhavebeenweak,andfoolish, andvain;but,father,father!Ihavenotbasewicked,andIhavesuffered most of all! Why you break my heart by treating me like a stranger, and freezing me by your cruel, cruel kindness? You are my father—if I havedonewrong,won’tyouhelpmetobebetterinthefuture?Itisn’tas ifIwerecarelessofwhatIhavedone Yousee—youseehowIsuffer!” Andsheheldoutherarmswithagesturesowildandheart-brokenthat her father was startled, and caught her to him with one of his old, fond gestures “Mypoorchild!MylittleLettice!HeavenknowsIhavenotintendedtobe crueltoyou,dear,butIhavebeensoworriedanddistressedthatIhave hardlyknownwhatIwasabout Youmustforgiveme,dear,andIwillhelp you in every way I can I indeed see that you are miserable, poor child;butthatIcannothelp Itisonlyrightthatyoushouldrealise—” “Father,Idon’tthinkyouoranyoneelsecantellhowintenselyIfeelitall You know I have been a coward all my life—afraid to grieve anyone, always trying to avoid disagreeable things; and now to feel that I have ruined Arthur’s life and wrecked his happiness, goes through my heart like a knife And his poor, poor face! Father, I am too miserable and ashamedtobesureofanything,butIdobelievethiswillbealessonto me all my life I can never, never be so cruel again! I will never marry now,butIwilltrytobeacomforttoyou,fatherdear,anddoeverythingI cantomakeupforthemiseryIhavecaused—onlydo,dolovemealittle bit Don’teverybodystoplovingme!” MrBertrandsmiledtohimselfashestrokedthegirl’ssofthair Smallfear thatheoranyoneelsewouldceasecaringforlovely,lovableLettice;but allthesame,hissmilewasmoresadthanbright “I shall always love you, dear,” he said; “but, Lettice, try to think less of people’s love for you, and more of your own love for them That is the secret of happiness! This constant craving to receive love is not far removedfromselfishness,whenyougodowntotherootofthings Tryto thinkofotherpeoplefirst—” “Iwill,father—Ireallywill;butdon’tlecturemeto-day,plea–se!Ifeelso low and wretched that I can’t stand anything more I am not—all—all— altogetherbad,amI?” Mr Bertrand laughed despite himself “No, indeed Very well, then—no more lectures We understand each other now, and there are to be no morecloudsbetweenus Offwithyouintothehotel!Putonyourhatand cloak,andwewillgoforarowonthelakebeforelunch.” ChapterTwentySeven AGladSurprise The weather continued so warm and sunny that Mr Bertrand and his party lingered in Thun, day after day, enjoying the Indian summer, and loath to tear themselves away from the lovely surroundings Lettice remained silent and subdued, but there was no longer any coldness between her and her companions, and her face had lost the strained, despairing expression which had been so painful to behold The news fromLondon,moreover,wasassatisfactoryascouldbehopedforunder thecircumstances AfriendofArthurNewcome’s,whowasalsoengaged to be married, had come forward and offered to take the house and furniture at a valuation, while his father had recalled his business managerinAmericaandwassendingArthurtotakehisplaceforthenext twoorthreeyears Everyonefeltthatthechangewouldbethebestcure whichthepoorfellowcouldhave,whileitwasanimmenserelieftoknow thattherewouldbenodangerofpainfulencountersinLondon Evenwith thisdreadremoved,MrBertrandwasintenmindsabouthisplansforthe coming winter There seemed many reasons why it would be better to remain quietly in Westmoreland for another year He puzzled over the question in private, and finally confided his difficulty to Mr Rayner, with startlingandunexpectedresults “Yousee,theboyscouldgoonastheyareforsometimetocome;Norah is not over anxious for the change, and I cannot say I am willing to let Lettice go much into society just now She is so very lovely that she is bound to attract attention, and after this painful business it would be in better taste to keep out of the way until it is forgotten All things considered,IthinkIshouldbewisetogiveuptheideaofcomingtotown untilnextwinter.” Mr Rayner’s face had clouded over while his friend was speaking, and hisanswercameindry,irritatedtones “When you say, ‘all things considered,’ you forget, of course, that you have entirely overlooked Miss Hilary’s feelings in the matter As your eldestdaughter,Ishouldhavethoughtthatherwishesmighthavebeen consulted;butitappearsthatalltheothersareputbeforeher!” “Hallo, what’s this? And pray when did you constitute yourself Hilary’s champion?”criedMrBertrand,turningroundinhisseatwithalaugh,and anamusedexpressiononhisface,whichgaveplacetooneofblankest astonishmentashemettheflashinhiscompanion’seyes,andheardthe firmtoneoftheanswer— “Howlongago?Idon’tknow!ButIamherchampion,nowandforever,if shewillhaveme!” “Rayner!Whatisthis?Youcannotpossiblybeinearnest?” HerbertRaynerlaughedshortly Noonecouldlookathimforamoment anddoubtthathewasdeeplyinearnest,buttherewasabitterringinhis laughterwhichshowedthathemisunderstoodthereasonofhisfriend’s surprise “I don’t wonder that you are astonished! A fine lover I am—am I not, to daretoaspiretoabrightyounggirl?” “Mydearfellow,youmisunderstoodme Iknowtowhatyourefer,butthat neverevenenteredmymind WhatIcan’trealiseisthatyoucanpossibly entertainanyfeelingofthekindforHilary You!IfIeverthoughtofyour possible marriage it was always with some clever, charming woman of theworldwhowouldhelpyouwithyourwork,andenterintoyourplans Hilaryisameregirl Shehasnospecialabilityofanykind—” “No?” “Nottheslightestliterarygift!” “No.” “Absolutelyignorantofyourworld.” “Yes.” “Youaretenyearsolderthansheis.” “Yes.” “Well—well—well—” “Well,Bertrand,wecan’targueaboutthesethings Thereitis,andIcan’t account for it I want Hilary, and I don’t want the ‘clever, charming woman.’Shesatisfiesme,and—” “Haveyouspokentoher?” “Certainly not! I don’t know that I should have ever summoned up couragetospeaktoyou,ifyouhadnottakenmebysurprise Itwouldbe differentifIwerenowasIwastenyearsago,butIfearedyoumightthink myhealthaninsuperableobjection.” “No—no!Ican’tsaythat—ifyouhavereallysetyourheartonit Howlong hasthisbeengoingon?” Mr Rayner smiled—a quick, whimsical smile, which was like a flash of sunshine “Well, you have heard the story of the scarlet slippers? That evening, afteryouleft,Iwenttolookforthembehindthecurtains,andsmuggled themdownstairsbeneathmycoat Idon’tknowwhatpossessedmetodo it,butIdid,andIhavethemstill!” MrBertrandthrewbackhisheadwithaburstoflaughter “Oh,afterthat!Ifyouhavegotthelengthoftreasuringworstedslippers, thereisnomoretobesaid Rayner,mydearfellow,IsupposeIoughtto bedistressed,butIbelieveIam—uncommonlypleasedandproud!Little Hilary! It would be delightful to feel that you were one of us And have youanyideaastowhethershecaresforyouinreturn?” “We have always been great friends I cannot say more And you reallygivemepermissiontospeaktoher?Wouldyougivehertome,in spiteofmyweaknessandinfirmity?HowcanIeverexpressmythanks?” “IfHilarycaresforyou,Iwillputnohindranceinyourway;butwemust have no more mistakes I will not allow an engagement until I have satisfiedmyselfastoherfeelings Thereisonecomfort:sheknowsher own mind uncommonly well, as a rule You can speak to her when you will ” Although the conversation lasted for some time longer, the same things were practically repeated over and over again, and when the two gentlemen came in to lunch, the girls and Miss Carr all noticed the unusualradianceoftheirexpressions Thelastfewweekshadcontained somuchtroubleandworry,thatitwasquiteinspiritingtoseebrightfaces again,andtoheargenuinelaughtertaketheplaceoftheforced“ha,ha!” whichhaddonedutyforsolong EvenLetticesmiledonceortwiceinthe course of that meal, and Norah’s eyes lost their dreamy, far-away look and twinkled with the old merry expression, while Hilary nodded gaily acrossthetableinanswertoherfather’ssearchinglook,andchattered awayallunsuspectingofthegreateventwhichwassocloseathand WhenMrRayneraskedhertotakeherworktotheseatoverlookingthe lake, in the afternoon, she said, “Won’t you come too, Lettice?” and trippedafterhim,hummingalivelyair It was a very different Hilary who returned to the hotel two hours later, and went to join her father on the verandah Her face was pale and serious; she looked older and more womanlike; but there was a steady lightofhappinessinhereyeswhichtolditsowntale “Well,Hilary,”heaskedgravely,“andwhatisittobe?” “There is no doubt about that, father! It is to be as he wants—now and always!” “Ithoughtasmuch Butyoumustrealisewhatyouaredoing,dear When most girls are married they look forward to having a strong man’s arm betweenthemandtheworld;theyexpecttobeshieldedfromtrouble;but ifyoumarryRayner,thiswillnotbeyourlot Youwillhavetowatchover him,tosparehimfatigueandanxiety,andtaketheburdenonyourown shoulders,forheisamanwhowillrequireconstantcare.” “I know that It is what I long to I should be so happy looking after him.” “And perhaps—it seems brutal to mention it, but the possibility must be faced—hemightnotbesparedtoyouformanyyears!Adelicatefellow likethat—” “Strongmendieunexpectedly,father,aswellasweaklyones Everyone hastorunthatrisk Iwouldratherbehiswifeevenfortwoorthreeyears thanmarryanyotherman AndIwillnursehimsowell—takesuchgood care—” “Ah,Iseeyourmindismadeup!Well,dear,somepeoplewouldthinkI was doing a foolish thing in consenting to this engagement, but I consent Idomorethanthat,Irejoicewithallmyheartinyourhappiness, andinmyownhappiness,foritwillbeajoytoeveryoneofus Rayner will be a son-in-law worth having, and a husband of whom any woman might be proud Ah, well! this is something like an engagement! That otherunhappyaffairwasnothingbuttroublefromfirsttolast Youknow yourmind,mydear,andarenotlikelytochange.” “Never!”saidHilary Andhereyesflashedwithabright,determinedlook, atwhichherfathersmiled “That’s good hearing! Well, dear, we will have another talk later on, but nowwehadbettergoandjointheothers Theyarecurioustoknowwhat wearewhisperingaboutoverhere.” Miss Carr had come out of the hotel after her afternoon nap, and was seated on the verandah beside the two younger girls Mr Rayner had joined them, and was listening with mischievous enjoyment to their speculationsaboutHilary’sconferencewithherfather “Howinterestedtheyseem!Nowheiskissingher Whydon’ttheycome over here and tell us all about it?” cried Norah; and, as if anxious to gratifyhercuriosity,MrBertrandcametowardstheverandahatthatvery moment, and presenting Hilary to them with a flourishing hand, cried roguishly— “AllowmetointroducetoyouthefutureMrsHerbertRayner!” The excitement, joy, and astonishment of the next few minutes can be betterimaginedthandescribed MissCarrshedtearsintoherteacup;the girls repeated incoherently that they had always expected it, and that theyhadneverexpectedit;andMrBertrandwasasmischievousinhis teasing ways as Raymond himself could have been under the circumstances; but the lovers were too happy to be disturbed by his sallies It was both beautiful and touching to see Mr Rayner’s quiet radiance, and to watch how his eyes lightened whenever they lit on Hilary’sface,whiletoseethatself-possessedyoungladylookingshyand embarrassedwassomethingnewindeedintheannalsofthefamily!Shy shewas,however,beyondpossibilityofdoubt,hardlydaringtolookinMr Rayner’sdirection,andrefusingoutrighttoaddresshimbyhisChristian namefortheedificationofthelisteners “What is there to be frightened at? I am not frightened! Herbert, you take sugar, Herbert? Will you have two lumps, Herbert?” cried Lettice saucily,andeveryonesmiled,pleasedtoseethelovelyfacelightedupby theoldmerrysmile,andtohearajokefromthelipswhichhaddrooped sosadly “Willyouputmeinastory,Herbert,ifI’mverygood,andpromisenotto tease?”saidNorah,determinednottobeoutdone;andthenewbrother lookedatherwithadmiringeyes “I think I rather enjoy being teased, you know; it is so very new and satisfactory! But I shall certainly make a heroine of you some fine day, Norah,whenIhavemanufacturedaheroworthyoftheoccasion!” Norah’slaughrangoutmerrily,butassheturnedherheadtolookatthe distantmountains,alittlefilmofmoisturedimmedhereyes Impossibleto seetwopeoplesohappytogetherasHerbertandHilary,andnotthinkof the long years which must pass before such a joy came to herself But Rexwastrue—hewouldnotchange;hewasworthallthewaiting— “Well, Helen,” said Mr Bertrand to his faithful old friend as the young peoplemovedoffatlastandleftthemalonetogether “Well,Helen,and whatdoyouthinkofthislatestdevelopment?Areyousatisfied?HaveI beenwise?—Doyouthinkheistherightmanforher?” MissCarrlookedathimwithalittleflashofdisdain “Ithink,”shesaidslowly,“thatHilaryhasimprovedsowonderfullyduring the last few years, that there is now some chance of her being almost good enough for him! My dear Austin, he is a king among men! Hilary maybeaproudwomanthathischoicehasfallenuponher Theywillbe veryhappy.” “Itrust,Ithinktheywill!ItseemsstrangethatitshouldbeHilary,whowas alwayssocarefulofherowninterests,whoshouldhavechosentomarry a delicate, crippled fellow who must be more or less of a care all his days;butIbelieveitwillmakeasplendidwomanofher,drawoutallthe tenderness of her nature, and soften her as nothing else could have done Yes!Iamthoroughlyhappyaboutit,moreespeciallyasithasthe honour of your distinguished approval These engagements come thick andfastuponus,Helen Letushopetherewillbeabreathingtimenow forsometimetocome Letticeisboundtomarrysoonerorlater,butwe will pray for ‘later,’ and as for Norah, I suppose her future is practically settled Poorchild!itwillbealongwaiting,butRexisafinelad,andis boundtosucceed Heknowshisownmind,too,andwillnotbelikelyto change;whileNorah—” “Yes,sheisoneofthesteadfastones,butsheisonlyachild,Austin,and willbenonetheworseforthetimeofwaiting.” “AndIcannotregretit,sincethroughitIshallbeabletokeeponeofmy littlelasseswithmeforsomeyearsatleast Ishallbealonelymanwhen theyalltakeflight! Come,itisgettingchilly Letusgointothehouse.” |Chapter1||Chapter2||Chapter3||Chapter4||Chapter5||Chapter6||Chapter7|| Chapter8||Chapter9||Chapter10||Chapter11||Chapter12||Chapter13||Chapter 14||Chapter15||Chapter16||Chapter17||Chapter18||Chapter19||Chapter20|| Chapter21||Chapter22||Chapter23||Chapter24||Chapter25||Chapter26||Chapter 27| EndofProjectGutenberg'sSistersThree,byMrs GeorgedeHorneVaizey ***ENDOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKSISTERSTHREE*** *****Thisfileshouldbenamed21103-h.htmor21103-h.zip***** Thisandallassociatedfilesofvariousformatswillbefoundin: http://www.gutenberg.org/2/1/1/0/21103/ ProducedbyNickHodsonofLondon,England Updatededitionswillreplacethepreviousone theoldeditions willberenamed Creatingtheworksfrompublicdomainprinteditionsmeansthatno oneownsaUnitedStatescopyrightintheseworks,sotheFoundation (andyou!)cancopyanddistributeitintheUnitedStateswithout permissionandwithoutpayingcopyrightroyalties Specialrules, setforthintheGeneralTermsofUsepartofthislicense,applyto 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Title: Sisters Three Author:Mrs GeorgedeHorneVaizey Illustrator:StanleyLloyd ReleaseDate:April16,2007[EBook#21103] Language:English ***STARTOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOK SISTERS THREE ***...TheProjectGutenbergEBookof Sisters Three, byMrs GeorgedeHorneVaizey ThiseBookisfortheuseofanyoneanywhereatnocostandwith... ***STARTOFTHISPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOK SISTERS THREE *** ProducedbyNickHodsonofLondon,England MrsGeorgedeHorneVaizey "Sisters Three" ChapterOne NewYear’sDay “Iwishsomethingwouldhappen!”sighedNorah “If it were
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