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VERYTHING was wrapped in a dreamy calm on the summer afternoon, when, luncheon over, the two ladies who inhabited the Cottage resigned themselves to an afternoon repose.
I will not say an afternoon nap, for neither of the ladies would have acknowledged to such a state of things, though the newspaper in the hand of Miss Ponsonby now and then fell upon her knee, and, with a desperate clutch, was held up again before her face; and the bright knitting-needles between Miss Adelaide's fingers ceased their click, and lay upon her flowered muslin gown-motionless!
The buzzing of a bluebottle fly on the windowpane, the hum of a bee as it flew past from the lavender bushes at the side of the Cottage, the
pecking of two canaries in the gilded cage on a stand in the little bay window, with an occasional lowing of an uneasy cow in the meadow below the Cottage, were all suggestive of, and conducive to, repose.
The spell of the summer afternoon was on the inhabitants of the Cottage, and extended from the drawing-room to the kitchen, where Mr. Broome, the confidential butler, coachman, gardener, and footman, all in one, slept the sleep of the just, in a comfortable chair in the housekeeper's room; where his wife, a little alert woman, quietly drove her darning-needle along the heel of a stocking, and kept a watch through the open door on the proceedings of the housemaid Bella, who assisted her in the easy duties which devolved on her in Miss Ponsonby's cottage.
The old eight-day clock gave the warning for four, and soon struck the hour in its deep sonorous tones, which resounded through the Cottage.
The grey cat awoke and stretched itself, and, having blinked at the fat poodle, still sound asleep on a stool, departed to inspect the condition of a saucer of milk, which always stood by the kitchen fireplace for her especial benefit. Mr. Broome yawned, stretched his legs, and asked in a sleepy voice if the ladies had rung the bell, and ordered the carriage.
'The carriage was ordered at five,' was Mrs. Broome's reply, 'before you went off to sleep.'
'Sleep! I haven't been asleep,' grumbled Mr. Broome wrathfully.