The girl rose, with a smile, and said that they had had quite enough of the harpsichord and singing—the day was too beautiful to spend within doors. And so she ran gaily to the door, and as she reached it, uttered a gay exclamation. Ralph and Fanny were seen approaching from the gate.
Ralph was mounted, as usual, upon his fine sorrel, and Fanny rode a little milk-white pony, which the young man had procured for her. We need not say that Miss Fanny looked handsome and coquettish, or Mr. Ralph merry and good-humored. Laughter was Fanny’s by undoubted right, unless her companion could contest the palm.
Miss Fanny’s first movement, after dismounting, was to clasp Miss Redbud to her bosom with enthusiastic affection, as is the habit with young ladies upon public occasions; and then the fair equestrian recognized Verty’s existence by a fascinating smile, which caused the unfortunate Ralph to gaze and sigh.
“Oh, Redbud!” cried Miss Fanny, laughing, and shaking gaily her ebon curls, “you can’t think what a delightful ride I’ve had—with Ralph, you know, who has’nt been half as disagreeable as usual—”
“Come,” interposed Ralph, “that’s too bad!”
“Not for you, sir!”
“Even for me.”
“Well, then, I’ll say you are more agreeable than usual.”
“That is better, though some might doubt whether that was possible.”
“Ralph, you are a conceited, fine gentleman, and positively dreadful.”
“Ah, you dread me!”
“Well, that is not fair—for I am afraid of you. The fact is, Miss Redbud,” continued Ralph, turning to the young girl, “I have fallen deeply in love with Fanny, lately—”
“Oh, sir!” said Redbud, demurely.
“But I have not told you the best of the joke.”
“What is that?”
“She’s in love with me.”
And Ralph directed a languishing glance toward Fanny, who cried out:
“Impudence! to say that I am in love with you. It’s too bad, Ralph, for you to be talking so!” added Fanny, pouting and coloring, “and I’ll thank you not to talk so any more.”
“I’ll be offended.”
“That will make you lovely.”
And striking an attitude, Mr. Ashley waited for Fanny’s communication.
Redbud smiled, and turning to Fanny, said:
“Come, now, don’t quarrel—and come in and take off your things.”
“Oh, I can’t,” cried the volatile Fanny, laughing—“Ralph and myself just called by; we are past our time now. That horrid old Miss Sallianna will scold me, though she does talk about the beauties of nature—I wonder if she considers her front curls included!”
And Miss Fanny tossed her own, and laughed in defiance
of the absent