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know that Robin and Jem could not stay for the party, nor even come up to wish you good-bye. They went off this morningJem to read at Cambridge, and Robin thought that he had better go home, since he hopes to be appointed to a ship any day now that war has broken out with China.'
'It was quite a sudden thought,' added Anthony—“all settled while I was up here last night. I wanted them to stay for Tom's birthday, but Robin would not hear of it. He has a restless fit upon him, and made me write to Admiral Burton last night about getting him afloat again.'
Anthony's guileless words betrayed even more than his wife's conscious manner. Tho. masina looked from one to the other, and took her first lesson in womanly reticence. She
very quietly that it was a pity they could not stay for the party, and then turned to take the baby from the nurse's arms, in
hopes that none might see her glowing cheeks.
The festivity went off heavily; the children became hot and cross over the strawberrybeds, and Mary was distressed that Sir Richard did not appear upon the scene until there were green stains upon the knees of Dick's white trowsers, and his face was smeared with the pink strawberry juice. The baby was introduced to the notice of his grandfather, and he set up such a howl at the sight of Sir Richard's white whiskers that he and his nurse were incontinently banished to the housekeeper's room. Tom hit a small Benson in the eye, and obstinately refused to be penitent, and in the midst of the uproar Sir Richard retreated to his own room, and thanked his stars that Anthony and his babies had not been transferred to the Chase. Thomasina did her part, but it was done with lagging spirits and a deep sense of injury, and it was an unspeakable relief to her when the party broke up and she was left alone to think the matter over. She had been quite unable to respond to Mary's parting words with any cordiality, for she was angry, yes, very angry, with her for her excess of prudence. There had been no flirtation between her and Robin Windsor; he had never said a word to her which all the world might not hear, but she liked him very much, certainly much better than his cold-hearted sister. He interested her and gave her something to think of, and the intimacy which had sprung up between them in those few days was no closer than was justified by their childish companionship and the family connection. And now Mary had put some foolish notions into his head, which had driven him away, and had not even allowed him to wish her good-byehere a few scalding tears rose and fell—which had prompted the desire for active service of which Anthony spoke. If he were sent to China, and fell a victim to the unwholesome climate, or was killed by Malay pirates, Mary might repent of her selfish, calculating spirit as long as she lived. She had evidently been actuated by a desire to propitiate Sir Richard, dreading that his displeasure at any closer connection with the Windsor family might be visited on his grandsons; and, in order to baffle such unworthy considerations, she resolved that her grandfather should invite Robin to stay at Bertram's Chase before leaving England, if he were not allowed to return to the cottage. By the time she had arrived at this conclusion Thomasina's anger had toned down, yet she determined to manifest her displeasure by discontinuing her visits to the cottage, which had latterly become very frequent.
and then found herself consumed by a great hunger for the intelligence which only Mary could impart, and she gathered a peaceoffering of roses and walked down to the cottage.
'I am so glad you have come, Thomasina,' said Mary; • I should have come to see you, but Dick and baby have been ailing and fret
So father told me.
I think that the
strawberry fête disagreed with us all.'
The sun was scorching that afternoon,' replied Mary. It was evident to Thomasina that, if she wished to talk of Robin, she must go straight to the point, and, since she was a young lady of decision, she did so accordingly.
' Are your brothers at home, Polly ?'
• Jem went straight to Cambridge, but Robin is at home.'
• It is a pity that he went off in such a