Letters arrived at Arnstead generally while the family was seated at breakfast. One morning, the post-bag having been brought in, Mr. Arnold opened it himself, according to his unvarying custom; and found, amongst other letters, one in an old-fashioned female hand, which, after reading it, he passed to Euphra.
"You remember Mrs. Elton, Euphra?"
"Quite well, uncle -- a dear old lady!"
But the expression which passed across her face, rather belied her words, and seemed to Hugh to mean: "I hope she is not going to bore us again."
She took care, however, to show no sign with regard to the contents of the letter; but, laying it beside her on the table, waited to hear her uncle's mind first.
"Poor, dear girl!" said he at last. "You must try to make her as comfortable as you can. There is consumption in the family, you see," he added, with a meditative sigh.
"Of course I will, uncle. Poor girl! I hope there is not much amiss though, after all."
But, as she spoke, an irrepressible flash of dislike, or displeasure of some sort, broke from her eyes, and vanished. No one but himself seemed to Hugh to have observed it; but he was learned in the lady's eyes, and their weather-signs. Mr. Arnold rose from the table and left the room, apparently to write an answer to the letter. As soon as he was gone, Euphra gave the letter to Hugh. He read as follows: --