To which Miss Euphemia returned an affirmative, and the whole party trooped back to the dining-room, Pamela leading the way, and Huntington following her with a half-mischievous smile curving his usually grave mouth.
“I don’t care anything about it,” said Miss Moppet with decision. “It’s a nasty, horrid letter, and I’ve made it over and over, and it will not get one bit plainer. Count one, two, jump one; then two stitches plain; it’s no use at all, Miss Bidwell, I cannot make it any better.” And with a deep sigh Miss Moppet surveyed her sampler, where she had for six weeks been laboriously trying to inscribe “Faith Wolcott, her sampler, aged nine,” with little success and much loss of temper.
“W is a hard letter,” said Miss Bidwell, laying down one of the perpetual stockings with which she seemed always supplied for mending purposes; “you will have to rip this out again; the first stroke is too near the letter before it;” and she handed the unhappy sampler back to the child.
“It’s always like that,” said Miss Moppet in a tone of exasperation. “I think a sampler is the very devil!”
“Oh,” said Miss Bidwell in a shocked voice, “I shall have to report you as a naughty chit if you use such language.”
“Well, it just is” said Moppet; “that’s what the minister said in his sermon Sunday week, and you know, Miss Bidwell, that you admired it extremely, because I heard you tell Pamela so.”
“Admired the devil?” said Miss Bidwell. “Child, what are you talking about?”
“The sermon,” said Miss Moppet, breaking her silk for the fourth time; “the minister said the devil went roaring up and down the earth seeking whom he might devour. Wouldn’t I like to hear him roar. Do you conceive it is like a bull or a lion’s roar?”
“The Bible says a lion,” said Miss Bidwell, looking all the more severe because she was so amused.
“I am truly sorry for that poor devil,” said Miss Moppet, heaving a deep sigh. “Just think how tired he must become, and how much work he must have to do. O—o—oh!”—a prolonged scream—“he certainly has possession of my sampler”—dancing up and down with pain—“for that needle has gone one inch into my thumb!”
“Come here and let me bind it up,” said Miss Bidwell, seizing the small sinner as she whirled past her. “How often must I tell you not to give way to such sinful temper? And talking about the devil is not proper for little girls.”
“Why not just as well as for older folk?” said Moppet, submitting to have a soft bit of rag bound around the bleeding thumb. “I think the devil ought to be prayed for if he’s such an abominable sinner—yes, I do.” And Moppet, whose belief in a personal devil was evidently large, surveyed Miss Bidwell with uncompromising eyes.
“Tut!” said Miss Bidwell, to whom this novel idea savored of ungodliness, but wishing to be lenient toward the child whose adoring slave she was. “Miss Euphemia would be shocked to hear you.”