“Never!” she answered. “I have been to Boston twice, never anywhere else.”
“Well,” he said, “the sooner you are introduced to some of its wonders, the better. We will dine out to-night, and I will take you to one of the famous restaurants. It will suit me better to be somewhere out of the way for an hour or two this evening. There is a panic in Chicago and Illinois—but there, you wouldn’t understand that. Be ready at 8 o’clock.”
“But uncle—” she began.
He waved his hand.
“I know what you are going to say—clothes. You will find some evening dresses in your room. I have had a collection of things sent round on approval, and you will probably be able to find one you can wear. Ah! here is Mrs. Perrin.”
The door had opened, and a middle-aged lady in a stiff black silk gown had entered the room.
“Mrs. Perrin,” he said, “this is my niece. She comes from the country. She knows nothing. Tell her everything that she ought to know. Help her with her clothes, and turn her out as well as you can to dine with me at Sherry’s at eight o’clock.”
A bell rang at his elbow, and one of the telephones began to tinkle. He picked up the receiver and waved them out of the room. Virginia followed her guide upstairs, feeling more and more with every step she took that she was indeed a wanderer in some new and enchanted land of the Arabian Nights.
“Well,” he said, smiling kindly at her over the bank of flowers which occupied the centre of the small round table at which they were dining, “what do you think of it all?”
Virginia shook her head.
“I cannot tell you,” she said. “I haven’t any words left. It is all so wonderful. You have never been to our home at Wellham Springs, or else you would understand.”
“I think I can understand,” he said, “what it is like. I, too, you know, was brought up at a farmhouse.”
Her eyes smiled at him across the table.
“You should see my room,” she said, “at home. It is just about as large as the cupboard in which I am supposed to keep my dresses here.”
“I hope,” he said, “that you will like where Mrs. Perrin has put you.”
“Like!” she gasped. “I don’t believe that I could have ever imagined anything like it. Do you know that I have a big bathroom of my own, with a marble floor, and a sitting-room so beautiful that I am afraid almost to look into it. I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to go to bed.”
“In a week,” he said indulgently, “you will become quite used to these things. In a month you would miss them terribly if you had to give them up.”
Her face was suddenly grave. He looked across at her keenly.
“What are you thinking of?” he asked.
“I was thinking,” she answered, after a moment’s hesitation, “of Stella. I was wondering what it must be to her to have to give up all these beautiful things.”