“If that is all that would keep your sister from coming,” said Miriam, “she need not trouble herself.”
“Now look a here, Miss Miriam,” said Mike, quickly, “of course everything in this world depends on sarcumstances, an’ if it happened that Mr. Hav’ley was the one to git married, an’ he was to take some lady that was livin’ here anyway an’ was used to the place, an’ the ways of the house, an’ didn’t want to go anywheres else an’ wanted to stay here an’ not to chance nothin’ an’ have the same people workin’ as worked before, like Miss Drane, say, with her mother livin’ here jes’ the same, an’ you keepin’ house jes’ as you is now, an’ all goin’ on without no upsottin’, of course Seraphina, she wouldn’t mind that. She’d like mighty well to come, whether your brother was married or not; but supposin’ he married a lady like Miss Dora Bannister. Bless my soul, Miss Miriam, everything in this place would be turned heels up an’ heads down, an’ there wouldn’t be no colored pussons wanted in this ’stablishment, Seraphina nor me nuther, an’ I reckon you wouldn’t know the place in six months, Miss Miriam, with that Miss Dora runnin’ it, an’ old Miss Panney with her fingers in the pie, an’ nobody can’t help her doin’ that when Miss Dora is concerned, an’ you kin see for yourself, Miss Miriam, that Seraphina, an’ me, too, is bound to be bounced if it was to come to that.”
“I will talk to you again about your sister,” said Miriam, and she went away, amused.
Mike was delighted.
“It’s all a cussed old lie, jes’ as I thought it wuz,” said he to himself; “an’ that old Miss Panney’ll fin’ them young uns is harder nuts to crack than me an’ Phoebe wuz. I got in some good licks fur dat purty Miss Cicely, too.”
Miriam’s amusement gradually faded away as she approached the house. At first it had seemed funny to hear any one talk about Ralph or herself getting married, but now it did not appear so funny. On the contrary, that part of Mike’s remarks which concerned Ralph and Dora was positively depressing. Suppose such a thing were really to happen; it would be dreadful. She had thought her brother overfond of Dora’s society, but the matter had never appeared to her in the serious aspect in which she saw it now.
She had intended to find Ralph, and speak to him about Mike’s sister; but now she changed her mind. She was wearing the teaberry gown, and she would attend to her own affairs as mistress of the house. If Ralph could be so cruel as to marry Dora, and put her at the head of everything,—and if she were here at all, she would want to be at the head of everything,—then she, Miriam, would take off the teaberry gown, and lock it up in the old trunk.
“But can it be possible,” she asked herself, as a tear or two began to show themselves in her eyes, “that Ralph could be so cruel as that?”
As she reached the door of the house, Cicely Drane was coming out. Involuntarily Miriam threw her arms around her and folded her close to the teaberry gown.