"Well what do you think?" asked Pippa, swinging her legs from her seat on the table- a position which had Anna seen it, would have caused her to throw up her arms in dismay.
"Of Daphne?" asked Cecil her eyes twinkling, "Or of life, or of what you are getting for Christmas.."
"Cecey! I mean Daphne of course!"
Cecil became more serious, "I know Pip, she seems awfully sad. It's different for us, she's never been seperated from her family before in sixteen years. I think she's just really homesick."
"What are you going to do?" asked Pippa matter of factly.
"Me?" exclaimed Cecil, "What can I do?"
"Cheer her up." said Pippa calmly.
"What? Why me! I thought you were all going to help too."
"Because you are the most cheerful person I know, and you're the same age as her.."
"I knew you were all going to leave her to me" interrupted Cecil triumphantly.
"If you would let me finish! It can't be Flissy because she is too old and serious, you know she acts older than she is Cece! and it can't be Claire, she's just a baby."
"Well what about you then?" asked Cecil, managing to refrain from teasing her sister about calling Marie-Claire a baby, when she was hardly three years older.
"Me? I'm too cynical to be of any use to anyone" said Pippa honestly, "and anyway what do you think Mamma and Pappa would say if we turned out another rebel?"
"She doesn't seem like the rebellious type to me." said Cecil thoughtfully.
"You are meant to say, 'No Phil you're not cynical, you are a lovely, happy person'" exclaimed Pippa.
"But Pip you are cynical." said Cecil looking puzzled, "You just admitted it."
Pippa glared at her older sister, whilst Cecil giggled madly.
"What's going on in here?" asked Jo, sticking her head through the door, "Cecil what are you laugh.. Pippa! Get off of the table!"
Cecil giggled again, before covering her mouth with her hand, as Pippa slid of the table.
Jo shook her head at her daughters.
"Come on!" she said "We are decorating the tree. Hopefully we will get it done before the boys get back. Cecil, go bring Daphne down will you? She's in her room." and with this Jo whirled back out of the room.
Once she was gone Cecil raised up her arms as if to say, see i'm being forced to look after her already.
Pippa started to laugh, before smothering it into a very unconvincing cough.
"Subtle isn't she?" she said conversationally.
"Yeah, as subtle as a brick through a window." said Cecil grumpily.
"Oh don't grump Cece. It doesn't suit you. Go up there and smile and giggle and be cheerful like you do."
Cecil glared at her sister.
"It's a compliment really Cecil."
"Yeah sure Pippa. Okay, okay... I'm going. But I was so looking forward to Christmas." she said wistfully.
"I'm sure Santa won't ignore you because you are too busy being nice Cecil."
Cecil rolled her yes. "I'll be sure to come to you again Pip when I'm next in need of comfort." she said sarcastically, before leaving her sister and trudging up the stairs.
She knocked on the door quietly, completely unsure of what to say, or do.
"Hello" she said, opening the door slowly, when there was no reply.
"Oh Daphne." she said as soon as she got through the door, forgetting all plans of giggling nervously or re-introducing herself. "Are you okay?"
Daphne wiped her face in her knitting.
"I'm fine" she muttered from this position.
Cecil remained in the doorway unsure of what she should do, something told her she should hug this poor forlorn girl, but Cecil was not a cuddler. Instead she came and perched on the side of the armchair Dapne was sitting in.
"Well" she said in her normal tones, "In that case you must come down stairs and see.... what is that? Oh Daphne it's beautiful."
"It's an angel." whispered Daphne, who seemed incapable of speaking in a normally pitched voice, but for the moment Cecil was enraptured and hardly noticed.
"Did you make this?" she asked
"May I see it?"
Silently Daphne handed over the ragdoll which had been acting as her handkerchief for the last few minutes.
"It's beautiful." repeated Cecil as she examined the angel doll Daphne had been working on. She had sewn different coloured threads around stretched wire and the angel had two large multicoloured wings. There were even little red stitches to give her rosy cheeks, and a halo: made of a curtain ring, which was held above the doll by thin wire.
"I'm a dud at sewing, and knitting." admitted Cecil, "I've never liked it before, but if this is the kind of results you can get from it, well, I'm almost persuaded."
"What is it?" said Cecil, seeing that Daphne looked like she wanted to say something, "do you want this back?" she said, holding out the doll.
"No" said Daphne quietly, "You can keep it."
"I couldn't possibly" said Cecil, who apart from thinking that it was far too valuable for her careless self, had never been a big fan of playing with dolls, even in her youth.
"It's okay." said Daphne, still in that scared, faint voice.
"Oh Hallellujah" shrieked Cecil suddenly.
Daphne sqwuaked in surprise, looking quite scared of her cousin.
"Oh sorry Daph- Can I call you Daph?- it's just I have the most brilliant idea ever! Are you coming downstairs? and we can show Mamma!"
Daphne just looked at her bewildered.
"Oh sorry Daphne." said Cecil, suddenly remembering who she was talking to. "I just had a great idea! We really ought to put this on the tree! It's much prettier than the ugly cherub thing we normally have. I'm sure we could make it stand up. Oh, Daphne, please say yes!"
Daphne relaxed for a moment, allowing a little giggle to escape, possibly from nervousness, or because of Cecil's over-energetic ways.
"Okay." she said lowering her eyes slightly.
"Please come down with me" pleaded Cecil, "We could really use your help, or" she said backtracking a little, "you could just sit and watch, and then join in if you want to?"
This appealed to Daphne slightly more.
"Here" said Cecil gently, "you just wipe your eyes, and we'll go down the stairs. I won't tell anyone okay?"
Daohne nodded slightly, and inwardly Cecil frowned, this was certainly a challenge, for the girl would hardly string two words together