“Did they run far, Dab?” asked Ham quietly.
DABNEY’S GREAT PARTY.
The boys returned a good deal earlier than anybody had expected, but they made no more trouble. As Ford Foster remarked, “they were all willing to go slow for a week,” after being carried home at such a rate by Dab’s ponies.
There was a great deal to be said, too, about the runaway, and Mrs. Foster longed to see Dabney, and thank him on Ford’s account; but he himself had no idea that he had done any thing remarkable, and was very busy decking Miranda’s parlors with the evergreens.
A nice appearance they made, too, all those woven branches and clustered sprays, when they were in place; and Samantha declared for them that,—
“They had kept Dab out of mischief all the afternoon.”
At an early hour, after supper, the guests began to arrive; for Mrs. Kinzer was a woman of too much good sense to have night turned into day when she could prevent it. As the stream of visitors steadily poured in, Dab remarked to Jenny Walters,—
“We shall have to enlarge the house, after all.”
“If it were only a dress, now!”
“Why, you could just let out the tucks. I’ve had to do that with mine.”
“Jenny, shake hands with me.”
“What for, Dabney?”
“I’m so glad to meet somebody else that’s outgrowing something.”
There was a tinge of color rising in Jenny’s face; but, before she could think of any thing to say, Dab added,—
“There, Jenny: there’s Mrs. Foster and Annie. Isn’t she sweet?”
“One of the nicest old ladies I ever saw.”
“Oh! I didn’t mean her mother.”
“Never mind. You must introduce me to them.”
“So I will. Take my arm.”
Jenny Walters had been unusually kindly and gracious in her manner that evening, and her very voice had less than its accustomed sharpness; but her natural disposition broke out a little, some minutes later, while she was talking with Annie Foster. Said she,—
“I’ve wanted so much to get acquainted with you.”
“Yes: I’ve seen you in church, and I’ve heard you talked about, and I wanted to find out for myself.”
“Find out what?” asked Annie a little soberly.
“Why, you see, I don’t believe it’s possible for any girl to be as sweet as you look. I couldn’t, I know. I’ve been trying these two days, and I’m nearly worn out.”
Annie’s eyes opened wide with surprise; and she laughed merrily, as she answered,—
“What can you mean! I’m glad enough if my face doesn’t tell tales of me.”
“But mine does,” said Jenny. “And then I’m so sure to tell all the rest with my tongue. I do wish I knew what were your faults.”
“My faults? What for?”