I thought as much; and as you and I had discussed the situation together last year, I wanted to see if your ideas agreed with mine. I could have sworn we were right, and can't imagine how this muddle has come about. It's a big mistake anyhow, and some one will find it out before long, or my name's not James Rendell.
Nan was thankful to feel that no shade of displeasure lurked behind the tenderness of her mother's greeting, and before the evening was over actually screwed up courage to put a question concerning the discovery of the scattered rice. The explanation was disappointingly simple. Mr and Mrs Rendell exchanged a smiling glance, and appeared much amused by the girls' discomfiture.
The ball-room, the billiard-room, the music-room, given over to the possession of one who would never use them; the stables unused; the gardens deserted! The Rendell girls could not believe it. It was too horrible to be true. Ermyntrude, Evangeline, and Gabrielle had no existence. The happy dreams which had been woven about them could never be fulfilled.
Mrs Rendell had her own entertaining rooms at the back of the house, but the girls were faithful to the little porch chamber which had been their property since childhood a quaint little den built over the doorway, with a window at each of the three sides, through which an extended view was afforded of the comings and goings of the neighbourhood.
Prescriptions from all the other fellows, with accounts of their own experiences." "Deah me, how appalling! Worse than a tea-party! I had no ideah men could be so dull. Nobody engaged? Nobody married? Nobody going to give a dance? No new people coming to live in the neighbourhood?" "Ha!" Mr Rendell struck an attitude of remembrance, at which the watching faces brightened with smiles.
If Kitty were going, it would be nothing short of cruelty to keep her companions at home, so Mrs Rendell sent a general acceptance to the invitation, and shrugged her shoulders resignedly as each of the five girls hugged her in turns, and deafened her with questions. "Mother, what shall I wear?" "Mother, my pique skirts have not come home from the wash! I wish you would leave that horrid laundry.
When there is no sympathy in the great principles of life, small talks become increasingly difficult, as this poor fellow was discovering to his cost. Punctually at one o'clock the door of Thurston House was thrown open, and Mrs Rendell was discovered standing upon the threshold, issuing final directions to her flock. "Stop talking!
Lilias clung to Ned's arm, Mrs Rendell and Elsie minced along with tiny footsteps, and Nan waited until no one was looking, and then gave giant strides from one mat to another, or clung to a friendly rail to help her round slippery corners.
You must be at home sometimes, for the last thing we want to do is to arouse suspicion; but I will arrange that you have as many changes as possible; and in any way that I can help I am at your service, dear, if you will only let me know!" "Thank you, mother," said Maud again, and made a little involuntary movement towards the door, whereupon Mrs Rendell dismissed her, after a lingering embrace.
"We'll help him, you and I! We'll make his life brighter for him, and cheer him in every way we know!" But, as it turned out, Mr Vanburgh was not anxious to be cheered, and Mrs Maitland found it more difficult than she expected to put her good resolves into practice. On Thursday evening, Mr and Mrs Rendell returned home from their Continental trip.