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Reka Dom
by [?]

“What is home, and where, but with the loving?”


At last Ida was allowed to go out. She was well wrapped up, and escorted by Nurse in a short walk for the good of her health. It was not very amusing, but the air was fresh and the change pleasant, although the street did not prove quite that happy region it had looked from the nursery windows. Moreover, however strong one may fancy one has become indoors, the convalescent’s first efforts out of doors are apt to be as feeble as those of a white moth that has just crept from the shelter of its cocoon, giddy with daylight, and trembling in the open air. By-and-by this feeling passed away, and one afternoon Ida was allowed to go by herself into the garden, “just for a run.”

The expression was metaphorical, for she was far from being able to run; but she crept quietly up and down the walks, and gathered some polyanthuses, putting them to her face with that pleasure which the touch of fresh flowers gives to an invalid. Then she saw that the hedge was budding, and that the gap through which she had scrambled was filled up. Ida thought of the expedition and smiled. It had certainly made her very ill, but–it had led to Mrs. Overtheway.

The little old lady did not come that day, and in the evening Ida was sent for by her uncle. She had not been downstairs in the evenings since her illness. These interviews with the reserved old gentleman were always formal, uncomfortable affairs, from which Ida escaped with a sense of relief, and that evening–being weak with illness and disappointed by Mrs. Overtheway’s absence–her nervousness almost amounted to terror.

Nurse did her best in the way of encouragement. It was true that Ida’s uncle was not a merry gentleman, but there was such a nice dessert! What could a well-behaved young lady desire more than to wear her best frock, and eat almonds and raisins in the dining-room, as if she were the lady of the house?

“Though I am sorry for the child,” Nurse confided to the butler when she had left Ida with her uncle, “for his looks are enough to frighten a grown person, let alone a little girl. And do you go in presently, like a good soul, if you can find an excuse, and let her see a cheerful face.”

But before the kind-hearted old man-servant could find a plausible pretext for intruding into the dining-room, and giving an encouraging smile from behind his master’s chair, Ida was in the nursery once more.

She had honestly endeavoured to be good. She had made her curtsey at the door without a falter–weak as she was. She had taken her place at the head of the table with all dignity, and had accepted the almonds and raisins with sufficiently audible thanks. She had replied prettily enough to her uncle’s inquiries after her health; and, anxious to keep up the conversation, had told him that the hedge was budding.

What’s the matter with the hedge?” he had asked rather sharply; and when Ida repeated her bit of spring news, he had not seemed to be interested. It was no part of the gardener’s work.

Ida relapsed into silence, and so did her uncle. But this was not all. He had sharp eyes, and fierce bushy eyebrows, from under which he was apt to scrutinize Ida in a way that seemed to scatter all her presence of mind. This night of all nights she found his eyes upon her oftener than usual. Whenever she looked up he was watching her, and her discomfort increased accordingly. At last he broke the silence abruptly by saying:

“You were very sorry, child, were you not, when the news came of your father’s death?”

The sudden introduction of this sacred subject made Ida’s head reel.