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apologise, as he did, for allowing her to settle Thomasina on her pony, instead of dismounting himself.
A very nice-looking girl she is,” said Sir Richard as they trotted briskly home; but the others look like a lot of young barbarians. What do you say, Thomasina ?'
I do not know much about the children,' she replied sedately, 'but I think that I shall like them all. I do like Miss Windsor.'.
It was a half-holiday at the grammar school that day, and they met the two boys, also trotting home to dinner. Jem looked askance at Thomasina, and Robin, when he was satisfied that Sir Richard was looking another way, gave a saucy nod, as if to ask her how she liked it. It was a question which she had to answer two or three times in the course of the day. To Anthony she was communicative, but when Mrs. Grey said, Well, child, how did you get on?' and
Lady Bertram looked up briskly to hear her reply, Thomasina pursed up her little lips and said demurely, “Very well indeed, Aunt Thomasina ;' and nothing more could be extracted from her.
When the two old ladies had gone out driving she perched on her father's knee, and said resentfully, 'It is not any business of Aunt Thomasina's, is it now ?'
"She is your godmother, and it is kind of her to take an interest in my little girl.'
'If asking questions is taking an interest, I do not think it is kind at all. Polly is kind. She says that I may call her Polly, although I suppose that Aunt Thomasina will think it impertinent.'.
'Is Polly Miss Windsor, your new governess?'
Yes; but she is not like a governess in a book. She has such nice ways, and she is very good-natured and merry. And she
says that I
that I am not so very particularly stupid.'
That is a consolation indeed,' said Anthony smiling. He scarcely required such a testimony to the quickness of his little girl's intelligence.
You must come and fetch me to-morrow,' continued Thomasina, "and then perhaps you will see her. Sir Richard says that she is very
nice looking.' Anthony endorsed this opinion when he saw Mary Windsor some days later. He was always shy with women, and Mary was at least equally afraid of Mr. Bertram, but some sort of acquaintance grew up between them. Thomasina was a bond of union, and the rule laid down by Lady Bertram, that intercourse between the two families should be restricted to the hours of study, was soon relaxed. She was occasionally allowed to spend an afternoon at the cottage, and this
made it necessary to invite the young
Windsors to visit her at the Chase. Although Thomasina was on good terms with the whole family, Polly and the two school-boys, whom she saw but rarely, were her chief allies. She enjoyed an afternoon's nutting with Jem and Robin, but there was a want of polish about the younger children, and the bickering and conflict of wills and passions, from which no large family is exempt, were distasteful to her. Her first fancy for Polly deepened into warm affection, to which Mary Windsor readily responded, for she declared Thomasina to be her most docile and affectionate pupil. They took long walks together, and, when Mr. Windsor could spare his horse, Mary was invited to ride with Sir Richard and the little girl. Sir Richard had demurred at first, but it was Thomasina's wish, and Thomasina's will was law.
A YEAR slipped away in this new order of things, and Mrs. Grey was again expected to arrive on her autumn visit to the Chase. It was a bright September day, and Thomasina, when she started for a ride with her father, suggested that they should go round by the cottage, and invite Mary Windsor to join them. Mr. and Mrs. Windsor were away from home, and the horse must want exercise. Anthony assented, and, as they rode up to the gate, Polly came out of the conservatory to meet them in her gardening gloves, for she had been engaged in trimming off the withered stalks of scarlet geraniums. She listened, with colour a little heightened by embar