Clara Bell 'Claribel' Donne 56

“Well, so this is the background from which we are to face the world!” said Clara Bell, bending towards her two companions. “I hope it will prove an advantageous setting for us.”

“It is quite a good house,” said Maria Jennings, the elder of these, standing with her eyes prominent with interest, though her tone matched her words.

“That is not much to say for it,” said the youngest of the three, in the tone of the leader of them.

“Well, I mean it is a very good little house indeed,” said the second speaker.

“It is not so very little,” said Anna Donne, turning and going through the door, as if she were pushing her way. “And it will keep the weather off us. I believe it is wind-proof and watertight.”

Miss Jennings followed with an air of adapting herself as a matter of course to Anna’s moods, and Miss Bell walked, upright and deliberate, after them, looking about in self-possession and interest.

Anna Donne was a short, high-shouldered woman of thirty, with a large head that seemed to dwarf her height; round, open hazel eyes set under a receding forehead and close to an irregular nose; and an unusual reddish tinge in her hair and brows, that contributed to an odd appearance. Her father’s first cousin, Clara Bell, known as Claribel to the family, and to as many people outside it as she could contrive, was a tall, thin, upright woman of fifty-six, with an air of being distinguished and good-looking, that made her small, rough features a surprise; carefully dressed grey hair, that she frequently touched with a view to her reassurance; and a rather discordant voice, that was generally used, and often raised, to draw attention to herself.