Mistress of Brown Furrows

Mistress of Brown Furrows by Susan Barrie Read Free Book Online

Book: Mistress of Brown Furrows by Susan Barrie Read Free Book Online
Authors: Susan Barrie
but—he’ ll almost certainly want a dressing room...”
    This was such unusual talk between herself and Aggie that it made her feel suddenly rather uncomfortable. Strange, intimate, almost foreign talk that brought a faint flush to her cheeks, and she turned away. But Agatha looked at her closely, and with the penetrating eyes of the old and faithful servant she read with complete ease all that her mistress was thinking. Her mistress with the grey threads invading her once rich brown hair, and her pleasant blue eyes that were usually rather humorous, but just now were curiously thoughtful and ever so slightly shadowed. And there was a certain amount of effort in everything she did today.
    Agatha wanted to go to her and take her hands and squeeze them hard and tell her not to mind. That although something was departing out of the house—something treasured, and free, and filled with contentment—something also was coming into it, and, who knew, they might grow to like the idea in time. A young wife—possibly a young mother at no very distant date! — and that would entail a fresh kind of interest, something that was after all very natural....
    But Meg’s face did not invite that kind of talk just then; and instead Agatha watched the tall and rather awkward form that looked so well on the back of a horse move over to the diamond-paned window, and thrust wide the lattice. Kate followed her, obviously concerned by her air of repression, and by the unaccustomed sharp edge to her voice when issuing her rebuke.
    Meg leaned out of the window, and drew deep breaths of the pure air. It was invigorating, that air to which she had been accustomed since her earliest days, and yet it always soothed her somehow. That and the prospect of the distant hills, just now veiled in a gauzy mist of cloud through which the sun was striving to force a pathway.
    Below her was a smooth stretch of emerald turf, and a cedar tree reaching out dark branches towards the window. A white-painted garden seat was on the terrace immediately below the window and a huge white cat was sleeping contentedly curled up upon it, while a handsome Siamese male cat lay sprawled at no great distance. On the lawn was a common-or-garden tabby, washing itself most industriously.
    Meg’ s face lightened as she watched the animals, although Kate growled low in her throat—not so much because she had any objection to cats, but because it helped to maintain her prestige. Then the woman’ s eyes drifted to the trim flower borders, magnificently displaying all the splendor of midsummer, and beyond them to the orchard and her own little herb garden. Beyond that again was tiny sunken rose-garden, where the air at this season of the year was saturated with the perfume of the roses, and clouds of falling petals—red, yellow and white—were flung in all directions by every playful gust of wind. The rose-garden was bounded by a little patch of wilderness, or woodland, through which a delicate silvery ribbon of a stream wound its way, after trickling uncertainly down from the hills, and slender forms of silver birch leaned perilously forward to peer at themselves in the water. Beyond all that were the wide open fields, and the thickets and the copses and the hidden dells which belonged to the Brown Furrows estate.
    Meg wished so much sometimes that she had been born a man, and that all this that she could see from the window had been hers by right of birth. And that the old mellowing stone house, with its deep-set windows and its blackened beams, had been hers also. The next best thing was that it belonged to Timothy, and that Timothy had always allowed her to do almost exactly as she liked in the house and garden, and to advise on the running of the estate.
    But now Timothy was married, and everything would be changed. She felt so deadly certain of that that it was like a load on her mind—a physical burden which she would henceforth have to carry. She could have cried out in

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