Page:Court Royal.djvu/149

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guide. When Lady Grace put her hand to her brow, it was as though she had received a blow. Joanna touched her.

‘Was I rude? Have I pained you? I am very, very sorry. I would die rather than hurt you.’ She caught Lady Grace’s hand and kissed it.

‘No, not a bit,’ answered the lady. ‘It does one good to know the truth. Sooner or later it must be brought home to us, and rather from your lips than from a ruder tongue. We go on in a dream, with the poor always about and with us, and will wake up with surprise to find them above us. I hear my father and uncles forecasting the future, with dismal faces; I did not expect to hear the same forecast animating the rising power. Do not let us talk of that longer. Let us consider the flowers. By the way, I suppose you will be at our Christmas tenants’ ball. We give one in the winter to the farmers and their families, and to the servants and their friends. Of course you will be there.’

‘Oh what a pity, what a pity, what a pity!’

Lady Grace was unable to refrain a laugh at the girl’s exclamations and droll consternation.

‘What is such a pity?’ she asked.

‘I was to have learned to dance, but my coming here interfered with my lessons, so I can only look on and not be able to take a part.’

‘You shall have some lessons,’ said Lady Grace Eveleigh, with a sweet, kind smile. ‘I will see to that. Miss Worthivale will arrange what times will suit best, and you shall be taught by me, in my own room. Miss Worthivale is so good and sweet that she will help me.’

‘Oh, thank you, thank you,’ exclaimed Joanna; ‘that is prime!’

‘There is one thing more,’ said the lady; ‘as you are fond of flowers, I suppose you must have something like a garden at home.’

‘I have five pots—one cracked, and an old teapot without a spout.’

‘What grow in them?’

‘Fuchsias, Guernsey lilies, geranium, and wild heath.’

‘Will you accept this from me? It is nothing to look at now; only a crowd of little horns poking out of the earth; but they will expand in time into lilies of the valley, full of beauty and fragrance. Keep them as a remembrance of me.’

‘I will never, never part with them,’ said Joanna. ‘This