Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/304

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A Study in Temptations.

ties. He would know his work in due season; but the time was not yet come. Already he had heard the whispers of a calling, though the voice was dim and far off, not yet to be perfectly known. So he tried to be patient.

When the Countess of Warbeck's carriage drove up to "Up-at-Battle's" that same afternoon, (Brentmore is about three hours' railway journey from London), Miss Caroline was what she called turning out the sitting-room. Both she and her niece had dusters pinned round their heads, and wore big aprons. Although the preceding night had brought a lawyer's letter telling Jane of her extraordinary change of fortune, she had not realized its full meaning—nor, indeed, had Miss Caroline. They were both simple-minded beings, and had been brought up to think that their daily tasks must be performed, even though the heavens were falling. It was the day for the parlour, and though Jane had inherited all England, the room had to be swept and garnished by some one, and as Jane was on the spot, she was, of course, the some one to do it.

Jane opened the door herself, and found the footman standing—almost gingerly, as though he were treading on very doubtful substance—on the front step.

"Is Miss Battle at home?" said he, saying Battle with difficulty, for his tongue did not take kindly to trashy syllables. (The Dowager had made up her mind that she would first ask to see the aunt, and thus avoid the unspeakable Lady Jane Shannon. "Fiddle-de-dee on courtesy!" she had told her grandson.)