And later the flame had been given into her keeping, and she was supposed to possess the magic touch to warm lonely hearts. She glanced at herself in the long mirror in the hall, and was struck afresh by the beauty of the dress. The shade of blue was just the right one to bring out the tint of her eyes and the gold of her hair. From head to foot she was a vision of loveliness such as delighted her dainty nature. One interpretation of “Seek Beauty” was to always dress as beautifully and becomingly as possible. Her mother was impatiently waiting for her to come down and show herself. Then she looked over the railing again. Emily Meeks had withdrawn from the groups of laughing girls and boys and had crept into a corner by herself. The words of the Fire Song echoed again in her ears:
“Whoso shall stand By this hearthstone Flame fanned, Shall never stand alone!”
Gladys turned and fled to her room and resolutely began to unclasp the fasteners of her butterfly dress. A ripple of astonishment went through the rooms downstairs when she descended clad in a white linen skirt and a middy blouse. All the girls had heard about the dress from New York and were impatient to see it. Frances Jones and Caroline Davis stood right at the foot of the stairs waiting for Gladys to come down so they would not lose a detail of it, and Mrs. Evans was watching them to see what effect the butterfly dress would have on them. When Gladys came down dressed in a white skirt and middy she could not believe her eyes. She hurried forward and asked in a low voice what was the matter with the new dress.
“Nothing, mother,” said Gladys sweetly, with such a beautiful smile that her mother dropped back in perplexity. Gladys advanced straight to Emily Meeks and greeted her first of all, with a friendly cordiality that put her at her ease at once. Emily, who had been dismayed when she found herself so conspicuous among all the brightly gowned girls, was reassured when she saw Gladys similarly clad, and never found out about that quick change of costume that had taken place after her coming. The other girls of course understood this fine little act of courtesy, and shamefacedly began to include Emily in their conversation and merrymaking.
So, if Mrs. Evans had counted on Gladys’s dress that night to testify to the soundness of the Evans fortune she was destined to be disappointed; but on the other hand, if inborn courtesy is a sign of high birth and breeding, then Gladys had proven herself to be a princess of the royal blood.
HARD TIMES FOR POETS.