The Sea-flower arrived at her new home in safety,—the home of our western friends, the Santons. The continued ill-health of Mrs. Santon had been the chief cause of the return of the family to the east. By a favorable turn of fortune, Mr. Santon had come into possession of nearly double the amount of his former wealth, and he was now looked upon as one of Boston’s most prominent citizens. The selling of western lands, which he had obtained for a mere trifle, had been the chief source of revenue in building up his fortune. The little Winifred, whom we left making merry over the Erin simplicity of Biddy and Patrick, had grown to be a young miss of seventeen. Those black eyes of hers, which had attracted the gaze of the tall western youths for the last time, had in no way lost their brilliancy. Mischief still sat triumphant therein, and not a day passed but some poor uninitiated was brought to test the merits of that gift. Miss Winnie looked upon this removal to more enlightened regions, as a change altogether for the best; for how could such as she, at that age which never comes but once in a lifetime, be content to feed on air, a la prairie. She had tired of looking at the same half-dozen raw-boned gallants, and had come to the grand final decision, that her charms should not be wasted thus; and now that she was surrounded by those urbane solicitors, which do mingle with those of more enlargement of brain in fashionable life, they, in turn, began to fear lest those charms might not prove for such as them.
“Mother,” asked Winnie, a few days before the arrival of the Sea-flower, “who is this friend whom you have invited to visit us?—that is, I mean to ask, what is she like? I have often heard you speak of your early friend, Mrs. Grosvenor, but you have never seen her daughter, and who knows but she may be,—well, I wont say; but you know Nantucket is but an isolated, out-of-the-way place, where fishermen live, and the society in which she has moved, will probably unfit her for enjoying ours. But she will be with us in a day or two, so we shall have to make the best of it.”
“It is many years since I have seen Mrs. Grosvenor; we met when we were both young married ladies, at the house of a friend of mine, in New York, where she was visiting, and I formed an attachment for her then, which has never abated. We have kept ourselves informed of each other’s welfare from time to time, and thinking that the daughter might possess the same amiable disposition as her mother, I thought that her presence in our family might be pleasant to us all, besides gaining for her, under your teachers of music and the languages, a finished education. As for society in Nantucket, I have never learned of what grade it is; but judging from the appearance of the only person I have ever met from there, I do not consider them far behind the age.”
“Well, I hope I shall like her, I am sure; she has a sweet name,—Natalie; perhaps we shall like her, after all. But Nantucket brought to my mind such visions of unrefined oil, that I really began to tremble, lest we might come in closer contact therewith than would be at all agreeable”