924 THE PORTER'S SON
not equally profitable. For George it was profitable, and not at all long, except when he thought about those at home. How were they getting on upstairs and downstairs ? Well, he got news of them ; and one can put so much in a letter, both the bright sunshine, and the dark, heavy days. They lay in the letter, which told that the father was dead, and only the mother was left behind. Emily had been like an angel of comfort; she had come down to her, the mother wrote, and added that she herself had got leave to keep the employment at the gate.
The General's lady kept a diary ; in it was recorded every party, every ball, she had gone to, and all the visitors she had received. The diary was illustrated with the visiting cards of diplomats and the highest nobility. She was proud of her diary ; it grew for many a day, during many big headaches, and also during many brilliant nights, that is to say, court-balls.
Emily had been at a court-ball for the first time. The mother was dressed in pink with black lace ; Spanish! The daughter in white, so clear, so fine ! green ribbons fluttered like leaves of sedge amongst her curly, golden hair, which bore a crown of water-lilies. Her eyes were so blue and so clear, her mouth so small and red, she looked like a little mermaid, as lovely as can be imagined. Three princes danced with her, that is to say, first one and then another ; the General's lady did not have a headache for a week.
But the first ball was not the last one ; it was all too much for Emily, and it was a good thing that the summer came with its rest and fresh air. The family was invited to the old Count's castle. It was a castle with a garden worth seeing. One part of it was quite as in olden days, with stiff, green hedges, where one seemed to go between green screens, in which there were peep-holes. Box-trees and yew-trees were clipped into stars and pyramids ; water sprang from great grottoes, set with cockle-shells : round about stood stone figures of the very heaviest stone, one could see that by the clothes and the faces; every flowerbed had its shape of a fish, shield, or monogram; that was the French part of the garden. From there one came, as it were, into the fresh open wood, where the trees dared to