The clock was striking eight as the young ladies entered the house; but Dora was
allowed to sit up a little longer to see her aunt, Mrs. Hazleby. It was not long
before a loud knock at the door announced that lady's arrival.
Mrs. Hazleby was a tall bony Scotchwoman, with fierce-looking grey eyes. She
gave Mrs. Woodbourne a very overpowering embrace, and then was careful to
mark the difference between her niece, little Dora, whom she kissed, and the
three elder girls, with whom she only shook hands. She was followed by her
daughters--Harriet, a tall showy girl of sixteen, and Lucy, a pale, quiet, delicate-
looking creature, a year younger. Rupert Merton was still missing; but his
movements were always so uncertain, that his family were in no uneasiness on
As Mrs. Woodbourne was advancing to kiss Harriet, a loud sharp 'yap' was heard
from something in the arms of the latter; Mrs. Woodbourne started, turned pale,
and looked so much alarmed, that Anne could not laugh. Harriet, however, was
not so restrained, but laughed loudly as she placed upon a chair a little Blenheim
spaniel, with a blue ribbon round his neck, and called to her sister Lucy to 'look
after Fido.' It presently appeared that the little dog had been given to them at the
last place where they had been staying on the road to Abbeychurch; and Mrs.
Hazleby and her eldest daughter continued for some time to expatiate upon the
beauty and good qualities of Fido, as well as those of all his kith and kin. He was
not, however, very cordially welcomed by anyone at the Vicarage; for Mr.
Woodbourne greatly disliked little dogs in the house, his wife dreaded them much
among her children, and there were symptoms of a deadly feud between him and
Elizabeth's only pet, the great black cat, Meg Merrilies. But still his birth,
parentage, and education, were safe subjects of conversation; and all were sorry
when Mrs. Hazleby had exhausted them, and began to remark how thin
Elizabeth looked--to tell a story of a boy who had died of a fever, some said of
neglect, at the school where Horace was--to hint at the possibility of Rupert's
having been lost on the Scottish mountains, blown up on the railroad, or sunk in
a steam-vessel--to declare that girls were always spoiled by being long absent
from home, and to dilate on the advantages of cheap churches.
She had nearly all the conversation to herself, the continual sound of her voice
being only varied by Harriet's notes and comments, given in a pert shrill, high
key, and by a few syllables in answer from Lady Merton and Mrs. Woodbourne.
The two gentlemen, happily for themselves, had a great quantity of plans and
accounts of the church to look over together, which were likely to occupy them
through the whole of Sir Edward's visit. Elizabeth was busy numbering the
Consecration tickets for the next day, and Anne in helping her, so that they sat
quietly together in the inner drawing-room during the greater part of the evening.