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HOME > Classical Novels > The Shuttle50 > CHAPTER XI “I THOUGHT YOU HAD ALL FORGOTTEN.”
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 As, after a singular half hour spent among the bracken under the trees, they began their return to the house, Bettina felt that her sense of adventure had altered its character. She was still in the midst of a remarkable2 sort of exploit, which might end anywhere or in anything, but it had become at once more prosaic3 in detail and more intense in its significance. What its significance might prove likely to be when she faced it, she had not known, it is true. But this was different from—from anything. As they walked up the sun-dappled avenue she kept glancing aside at Rosy4, and endeavouring to draw useful conclusions. The poor girl's air of being a plain, insignificant5 frump, long past youth, struck an extraordinary and, for the time, unexplainable note. Her ill-cut, out-of-date dress, the cheap suit of the hunchbacked boy, who limped patiently along, helped by his crutch6, suggested possible explanations which were without doubt connected with the thought which had risen in Bettina's mind, as she had been driven through the broken-hinged entrance gate. What extraordinary disposal was being made of Rosy's money? But her each glance at her sister also suggested complication upon complication.  
The singular half hour under the trees by the pool, spent, after the first hysteric moments were over, in vague exclaimings and questions, which seemed half frightened and all at sea, had gradually shown her that she was talking to a creature wholly other than the Rosalie who had so well known and loved them all, and whom they had so well loved and known. They did not know this one, and she did not know them, she was even a little afraid of the stir and movement of their life and being. The Rosy they had known seemed to be imprisoned7 within the wall the years of her separated life had built about her. At each breath she drew Bettina saw how long the years had been to her, and how far her home had seemed to lie away, so far that it could not touch her, and was only a sort of dream, the recalling of which made her suddenly begin to cry again every few minutes. To Bettina's sensitively alert mind it was plain that it would not do in the least to drag her suddenly out of her prison, or cloister8, whichsoever it might be. To do so would be like forcing a creature accustomed only to darkness, to stare at the blazing sun. To have burst upon her with the old impetuous, candid9 fondness would have been to frighten and shock her as if with something bordering on indecency. She could not have stood it; perhaps such fondness was so remote from her in these days that she had even ceased to be able to understand it.
“Where are your little girls?” Bettina asked, remembering that there had been notice given of the advent1 of two girl babies.
“They died,” Lady Anstruthers answered unemotionally. “They both died before they were a year old. There is only Ughtred.”
Betty glanced at the boy and saw a small flame of red creep up on his cheek. Instinctively10 she knew what it meant, and she put out her hand and lightly touched his shoulder.
“I hope you'll like me, Ughtred,” she said.
He almost started at the sound of her voice, but when he turned his face towards her he only grew redder, and looked awkward without answering. His manner was that of a boy who was unused to the amenities11 of polite society, and who was only made shy by them.
Without warning, a moment or so later, Bettina stopped in the middle of the avenue, and looked up at the arching giant branches of the trees which had reached out from one side to the other, as if to clasp hands or encompass12 an interlacing embrace. As far as the eye reached, they did this, and the beholder13 stood as in a high stately pergola, with breaks of deep azure14 sky between. Several mellow15, cawing rooks were floating solemnly beneath or above the branches, now wand then settling in some highest one or disappearing in the thick greenness.
Lady Anstruthers stopped when her sister did so, and glanced at her in vague inquiry16. It was plain that she had outlived even her sense of the beauty surrounding her.
“What are you looking at, Betty?” she asked.
“At all of it,” Betty answered. “It is so wonderful.”
“She likes it,” said Ughtred, and then rather slunk a step behind his mother, as if he were ashamed of himself.
“The house is just beyond those trees,” said Lady Anstruthers.
They came in full view of it three minutes later. When she saw it, Betty uttered an exclamation17 and stopped again to enjoy effects.
“She likes that, too,” said Ughtred, and, although he said it sheepishly, there was imperfectly concealed18 beneath the awkwardness a pleasure in the fact.
“Do you?” asked Rosalie, with her small, painful smile.
Betty laughed.
“It is too picturesque19, in its special way, to be quite credible,” she said.
“I thought that when I first saw it,” said Rosy.
“Don't you think so, now?”
“Well,” was the rather uncertain reply, “as Nigel says, there's not much good in a place that is falling to pieces.”
“Why let it fall to pieces?” Betty put it to her with impartial20 promptness.
“We haven't money enough to hold it together,” resignedly.
As they climbed the low, broad, lichen-blotched steps, whose broken stone balustrades were almost hidden in clutching, untrimmed ivy21, Betty felt them to be almost incredible, too. The uneven
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