Mrs. Myers did not stop a moment in the repetition of her formula, and there was sharp work before her; but Dab’s tongue was also loose now, and Elder Potter had hardly time to hear who he was before Deacon Short had to let go of Dick, and hear Dab say,—
“How d’ye do, Elder Potter? and this is my near neighbor and friend, Mr. Richard Lee.”
“Mrs. Sunderland,” began Mrs. Myers, to a lady whose face and dress declared her a social magnate, “my new boarder, Mr. Frank Harley:” and the rest of her introduction speech followed; and stately Mrs. Sunderland had just time to utter a few words of gracious inquiry about the “precious health” of Frank’s father and mother, when he, too, took up the “omission,” and Dick Lee’s introduction stepped into the place of any other answer for a moment.
It was a good thing for Dick, as Mrs. Sunderland was a member of a society for promoting emigration to Liberia, and was seized at once with a dim idea that a part of her “mission” was standing before her in very brilliant shoes and a new red necktie. She did not know how utterly she and the other good people and those three boys were demolishing a curious vision of Almira’s and her mother’s, of some social advantage they might derive, thenceforward, from having “a colored servant” in their employ. Dick’s own chance was coming right down upon him, a little before he was quite ready for it; for the minister and his wife came out a few moments later, and Mrs. Sunderland took upon herself the duty of presenting Richard Lee to them, very much if as she would have said,—
“My dear Mr. Fallow,—my dear Mrs. Fallow,—see what I’ve found! Is he not remarkable?”
The words she really uttered were somewhat more formal; but the good, quiet-looking little minister and very quiet-looking little wife were still shaking hands with Dick, that is, with his right hand, when he turned almost eagerly, and caught hold of Dab Kinzer with his left.
“Yes, sir, an’ dis is Cap’n Dab—I mean, this is my friend Mr. Dabney Kinzer, of Long Island,—de bes’—”
“How do you do, Mr. Kinzer? Glad to make your acquaintance,” said Mr. Fallow; and Dick’s success was complete, except that he was saying to himself,—
“I jes’ can’t trus’ my tongue wid de oder boys. Dey’s got to take dar chances.”
“Now, Mr. Kinzer,” said Miss Almira, at that moment, “it’s time we were going home.”
“Yes, Frank,” said her mother patronizingly, “I think we had better be going.”
If such an exercise as “introduction” could earn it, they were both entitled to good appetites; and, after all, it had been quite a nice little affair.
Dabney was quite as tall as Miss Almira; but as they walked across the green, side by side, he could not avoid a side-glance that gave him a very clear idea of the difference between his present company and Annie Foster. It was at that very moment that it occurred to Frank that he had last walked home from church under the protecting wing of the portly and matronly Mrs. Kinzer; and he could but draw some kind of a comparison between her and Mrs. Myers.