“In love?” she said. “At their age?” He laughed at her, and she added: “I don’t mean they are not fond of each other, but Mr. Farron must be forty-five. What I mean by love—” she hesitated.
But she did stop, for her quick ears told her that some one was coming, and, Pringle opening the door, Mrs. Farron came in.
She was a very beautiful person. In her hat and veil, lit by the friendly light of her own drawing-room, she seemed so young as to be actually girlish, except that she was too stately and finished for such a word. Mathilde did not inherit her blondness from her mother. Mrs. Farron’s hair was a dark brown, with a shade of red in it where it curved behind her ears. She had the white skin that often goes with such hair, and a high, delicate color in her cheeks. Her eyebrows were fine and excessively dark—penciled, many people thought.
“Mama, this is Mr. Wayne,” said Mathilde. Here was another tremendous moment crowding upon her—the introduction of her beautiful mother to this new friend, but even more, the introduction to her mother of this wonderful new friend, whose flavor of romance and interest no one, she supposed, could miss. Yet Mrs. Farron seemed to be taking it all very calmly, greeting him, taking his chair as being a trifle more comfortable than the others, trying to cover the doubt in her own mind whether she ought to recognize him as an old acquaintance. Was he new or one of the ones she had seen a dozen times before?
There was nothing exactly artificial in Mrs. Farron’s manner, but, like a great singer who has learned perfect enunciation even in the most trivial sentences of every-day matters, she, as a great beauty, had learned the perfection of self-presentation, which probably did not wholly desert her even in the dentist’s chair.
She drew off her long, pale, spotless gloves.
“No tea, my dear,” she said. “I’ve just had it,” she added to Wayne, “with an old aunt of mine. Aunt Alberta,” she threw over her shoulder to Mathilde. “I am very unfortunate, Mr. Wayne; this town is full of my relations, tucked away in forgotten oases, and I’m their only connection with the vulgar, modern world. My aunt’s favorite excitement is disapproving of me. She was particularly trying to-day.” Mrs. Farron seemed to debate whether or not it would be tiresome to go thoroughly into the problem of Aunt Alberta, and to decide that it would; for she said, with an abrupt change, “Were you at this party last night that Mathilde enjoyed so much?”
“Yes,” said Wayne. “Why weren’t you?”
“I wasn’t asked. It isn’t the fashion to ask mothers and daughters to the same parties any more. We dance so much better than they do.” She leaned over, and rang the little enamel bell that dangled at the arm of her daughter’s sofa. “You can’t imagine, Mr. Wayne, how much better I dance than Mathilde.”
“I hope it needn’t be left to the imagination.”