appetite was enormous, and her ways were greedy. You heard her eat her soup. She devoured the food on her plate with her eyes, before she put it into he mouth; and she criticized our English cookery in the most impudent manner, under pretence of asking humbly how it was done. There was, however, some temporary compensation for this. We had less of her talk while she was eating her dinner.
With the removal of the cloth, she recovered the use of her tongue; and she hit on the subject of all others which proves to be the sorest trial to my father's patience.
"And now, dear cousin, let us talk of your daughter, our absent I do so long to see her. When is she coming back?"
"In a few days more."
"How glad I am! And, do tell me--which is she? Your oldest girl or your youngest?"
"Neither the one nor the other, Selina."
"Oh, my head! my head! This is even worse than the accent on the 'i,' and the final 'e.' Stop! I am cleverer than I thought I was. You mean that the girls are twins. Are they both so exactly like each other that I shan't know which is which? What fun!"
When the subject of our ages was unluckily started at Mrs. Staveley's, I had slipped out of the difficulty easily by assuming the character of the eldest sister--an example of ready tact which my dear stupid Eunice doesn't understand. In my father's presence, it is needless to say that I kept silence, and left it to him. I was sorry to be obliged to do this. Owing to his sad state of health, he is easily irritated--especially by inquisitive strangers.
"I must leave you," he answered, without taking the slightest notice of what Miss Jillgall had said to him. "My work is waiting for me."
She stopped him on his way to the door. "Can't I help you?"
"Well-but tell me one thing. Am I right about the twins?"
"You are wrong."
Miss Jillgall's demonstrative hands flew up into the air again, and expressed the climax of astonishment by quivering over her head. "This is positively maddening," she declared. "What does it mean?"
"Take my advice, cousin. Don't attempt to find out what it means."