The afternoon colloquy continued until Victoria, Burl, and Pearl bid adieu and left for their respective homes.
Burl, being the conscientious bear that he was, offered Victoria a ride to her estate.
Pearl was less than pleased but not wanting to be rude said nothing more about it, but the grimace on her face spoke volumes.
Once everyone was on their way Georgiana started back to the parlor when she noticed something beneath the bell pull. Leaning over to retrieve it she was startled by the clanging of the front door bell. Nearly tumbling head over paws she regained her composure as Hobbs rushed past to open the door.
"Miss Beartram, please allow me."
Not wanting to interfere she returned to the parlor where Steerforth was immersed in a book. Looking up he smiled.
"Who rang the bell?"
"I don't know. Hobbs is attending to it."
Moments later Hobbs entered with an embossed envelope.
"This just arrived via snail mail sir."
"Thank you Hobbs."
Georgiana looked on as Steerforth opened the envelope and read,
"You are cordially invited to a ball..."
"How exciting! I do love to dance! And to be fond of dancing is a certain step towards falling in love!"
Georgiana began twirling about the room.
"It does sound like a lovely way to spend an evening. And you will be pleased to learn who the guest of honor is."
But before Georgiana could respond the front bell pealed again.
With a scowl on his face Hobbs entered the room and introduced the guest.
"Sir, Miss Harietta Rabbit to see you."
Scurrying past Georgiana, Harietta hopped onto the chair leaving Georgiana to sit in the rocker.
Hobbs began to protest but Steerforth stopped him before a word was muttered.
"Miss Rabbit, to what do we owe this honor?"
Hobbs rolled his eyes and departed.
"No doubt word has reached you that one of our most accomplished citizens has returned from a long sabbatical."
"Why yes, we just received an invitation for the ball in his honor."
"I suspected you might know something of this momentous occasion. I am writing an article for the Bearton Times and thought you might be able to shed some light as to the attendees of the event as well as any discoveries made on his travels..."
Unable to withstand the suspense any longer Georgiana blurted out,
"Oh my goodness, you don't mean..."
Her snow white fur flushed,
"He has returned!"
Finally he was home...