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"I hope you're not very set on being a rich woman, Meg," said Graeme, when they were alone together.
"Oh, but I am," she said, with a smile which all the riches in the world could not have bought from her, or brought to her.
"Yes, I know,"--and he gathered the smile with a kiss. "But in coa.r.s.e material wealth, I mean."
"I'm just as set on it as you are. I want just as much as will make you happy. You mean Mr. Pixley has made away with it all?"
"I'm very much afraid so, but I guess we can get along all right without it."
"Of course we can--splendidly. I'm a famous housekeeper and you'll be a famous author. There couldn't be a better team. It will bring out the very best that's in us."
"We can never come to actual want anyway, for my little bit--which, by the way, Lady Elspeth once took the trouble to impress upon me was just about enough to pay Mr. Pixley's servants' wages--is in Consols, and they're not likely to crack up. And my last book brought me about fifty pounds--"
"It ought to have brought you five thousand. I'm sure it was good enough."
"Of course it was, but it takes time to work up to the five thousand point. Some get there, I suppose. But I should imagine more starve off at the fifty line."
"We could live like princes on a couple of hundred a year in Sark here."
"It would pall on you in time, I'm afraid."
"You've been here twice as long as I have. Has it begun to pall on you yet?"
"I don't think it would ever pall on me, if I lived here for a century. But then I've got my work, you see."
"And I've got you, my dear. When you and Sark begin to pall I'll promise to let you know. It's heavenly."
"Oh, I don't claim all that, you know. Don't expect _too_ much--"
"Will Charles be involved at all, do you think, Jock?"
"I don't think so. They had not much to do with one another in business matters."
"I'm glad of that. Do you know"--with an introspective look in her eyes--"I've an idea--"
"That would be capital. She'd make him an excellent wife."
"I'm sure she would. She's just what he needs. She's as good as gold, and she has more genuine common-sense than anyone I know."
"Oh, we're exceptions to all rules. But I do hope something--I mean everything--may come of it. And we would all have reason to bless this blessed little island all our days."
"Some of us will, anyway. It certainly shall not go unblest."
On the Tuesday afternoon Graeme received a brief telegram from Charles Pixley--"Crossing tonight." And Wednesday morning found them all on the sea-wall awaiting the arrival of the steamer from Guernsey.
"There he is--in the front corner of the upper deck--keen to get here as soon as possible, I should say. I know just how he feels," said Graeme, with a laugh. "Looks a bit different from what he did the first time he came."
"That's Mrs. Pixley on the side seat," said Margaret, and they waved their welcomes.
There were two ladies on the side seat, and both stood up and waved vigorously in reply.
"Why--who--?" began Margaret. And then--excitedly, "Jock--I believe it's Lady Elspeth. I'm certain it is. It is. It is."
"Just like her! Hurrah for the Gordons!" and he sent them welcomes which a world full of Pixleys alone could not have excited in him.
"Now this _is_ delightful," he said, as he sprang on board and rushed at Lady Elspeth.
"All right, my boy! Don't shake my hand right off, if you can help it.
Here, you may give me a kiss, though it's contrary to the usages of my country. We'll pretend I'm your mother again. Now say how do you do to Mrs. Pixley. How's Margaret? I've got crows to pick with you young people--"
"Make it seven, or it's unlucky," laughed Graeme.
"Tell you later. We're great believers in crows here. Mrs. Pixley, I am very glad indeed to see you here. Charles, old man, you've done splendidly."
Charles wrung his hand in silence. His face was sober, with a latent glow of expectation in it. When he had seen to the luggage he joined the group on the quay, and it was Miss Penny who was the first to see him coming.
"Welcome back to Sark!" she said cheerfully.
"I'm uncommonly glad to be here. Everybody all right? How's Mrs.
"Everybody's first-rate, especially Meg and Jock. Their spirits are enough to inflate the island."
"It's good to be young," and the sober mask lifted slightly and let the inner light shine through.
"Go to an hotel?" said Margaret indignantly, in reply to a suggestion from Lady Elspeth. "Indeed you'll do nothing of the kind,"--and, as the old lady hesitated still,--"If you do I'll never speak to you again as long as I live."
"Oh well, I couldn't stand that--"
"Of course you couldn't. Neither could I. An hotel indeed!"--with withering scorn--"And we with four empty bedrooms crying aloud at night because two of their fellows are occupied and they are left out in the cold! An hotel! I'd just like to see you!"
"My guidness! Is she often like this, Jock?"
"Oh, always! I thought you knew her. Why couldn't you warn me in time?--No!" as Lady Elspeth attempted to speak--"It's too late now.
We're bound for life. There's no cutting the bond. The Vicar told us so."