“How well you look, Dabney!” remarked the sharp-tongued little lady. “Drowning must agree with you.”
“Yes,” said Dab, “I like it.”
“Do you know what a fuss they made over you, when you were gone? I s’pose they’d nothing else to do.”
“Jenny,” said Dab suddenly, holding out his hand, “you mustn’t quarrel with me any more. Bill Lee told me about your coming down to the landing. You may say any thing to me you want to.”
Jenny colored, and bit her lip; and she would have given her bonnet to know if Bill Lee had told Dab how very red her eyes were, as she looked down the inlet for some sign of “The Swallow.” Something had to be said, however; and she said it almost spitefully.
“I don’t care, Dabney Kinzer: it did seem dreadful to think of you three boys being drowned, and you, too, with your new clothes on. Good-morning, Dab.”
“She’s a right good-hearted girl, if she’d only show it,” muttered Dab, as Jenny tripped away; “but she isn’t a bit like Annie Foster.”
His thoughts must have been on something else than his young-lady acquaintances, nevertheless; for his next words were, “How I do wish Ham Morris would come home!”
There was time enough for that, and Ham was hardly likely to be in a hurry. The days were well employed in his absence; and, as they went by, the Morris homestead went steadily on looking less and less like its old self, and more and more like a house made for people to live and be happy in. Mrs. Kinzer and her daughters had now settled down in their new quarters as completely as if they had never known any others; and it seemed to Dab, now and then, as if they had taken almost too complete possession. His mother had her room, of course; and a big one it was. There could be no objection to that. Then another big one, of the very best, had to be set apart and fitted up for Ham and Miranda on their return home; and Dab had taken great delight in doing all in his power to make that room all it could be made. But then Samantha had insisted upon having a separate domain, and Keziah and Pamela had imitated their elder sister to a fraction.
The “guest-chamber” had to be provided as well, or what would become of the good old Long Island notions of hospitality?
Dab said nothing while the partition was under discussion, nor for a while afterwards; but one day at dinner, just after the coming of a letter from Miranda, announcing the speedy arrival of herself and her husband, he quietly remarked,—
“Now I can’t sleep in Ham’s room any longer, I suppose I’ll have to go out on the roof. I won’t sleep in the garret or in the cellar.”
“That will be a good deal as Mrs. Morris says, when she comes,” calmly responded his mother.
“As Miranda says!” said Dab, with a long breath.
“Miranda?” gasped Samantha and her sisters in chorus.
“Yes, my dears, certainly,” said their mother. “This is Mrs. Morris’s house,—or her husband’s,—not mine. All the arrangements I have made are only temporary. She and Ham both have ideas and wills of their own. I’ve only done the best I could for the time being.”