One summer afternoon, Helen Woodbourne returned from her daily walk with her sisters, and immediately repaired to the school-room, in order to put the finishing touches to a drawing, with which she had been engaged during the greater part of the morning. She had not been long established there, before her sister Katherine came in, and, taking her favourite station, leaning against the window shutter so as to command a good view of the street, she began, 'Helen, do you know that the Consecration is to be on Thursday the twenty-eighth, instead of the Tuesday after?'
'I know Lizzie wished that it could be so,' said Helen, 'because the twenty-eighth is St. Augustine's day; but I thought that the Bishop had appointed Tuesday.'
'But Papa wrote to him, and he has altered the day as Papa wished; I heard Mamma and Mr. Somerville talking about it just now when I went into the drawing-room,' answered Katherine.
'Will everything be ready in time?' said Helen.
'Dear me!' cried Katherine, 'I wonder if it will. What is to be done if that tiresome Miss Dighten does not send home our dresses in time? We must go and hurry her to-morrow. And I must get Mamma to go to Baysmouth this week to get our ribbons. I looked over all Mr. Green's on Monday, and he has not one bit of pink satin ribbon wide enough, or fit to be seen.'
'Oh! but I meant the things in the church—the cushions and the carving on the Font,' said Helen.
'Oh dear! yes, the Font is very nearly done, we saw to-day, you know; and as to the cushions, Mrs. Webbe may have Sarah to help her, and then they will certainly be finished. I wonder whether there will be any fun!' said Katherine.
'Is a Consecration an occasion for fun?' asked Helen very gravely.
'Why, no, I do not exactly mean that,' replied Katherine, 'but there will be a great many people, and the Mertons staying here, and Rupert is always so full of fun.'
'Hm—m,' said Helen, 'I do not suppose he will be come back from Scotland.'
'And Mrs. Turner says,' continued Katherine, 'that of course as the Bishop is coming to luncheon after Church, Mamma must give an elegant dejeuner a la fourchette to everybody. Next time I go to St. Martin's Street, Mrs. Turner is going to give me a receipt for making blanc-manger with some cheap stuff which looks quite as well as isinglass. It is made on chemical principles, she says, for she heard it all explained at the Mechanics' Institute. And Aunt Anne will be sure to bring us some of their grand fruit from Merton Hall. What a set-out it will be! The old Vicarage will not know itself; how delightful it will be!'
'So you think the happiness of the Consecration day depends upon the party and the luncheon,' said Helen.
'No, no, of course I do not,' said Katherine; 'but we must think about that too, or we should not do what is proper.'
'Someone must,' said Helen, 'but it is happy for us that we are not called upon to do so yet.'
'Why, we must help Mamma,' said Katherine; 'I am sure that is our duty.'
'Certainly,' said Helen; 'but we need not dwell upon such thoughts for our own pleasure.'
'No, I do not, I am sure,' said Katherine; 'I do not care about the grand dejeuner, I am sure I think a great deal more about the Church and the Bishop—I wonder whether he will come by the railroad.'
At this moment, the door was thrown back hastily, and Elizabeth, the elder sister of Katherine and Helen, darted in, looking full of indignation, which she only wanted to pour forth, without much caring whether it was listened to with sympathy or not....