WINTER NIGHTS AND WINTER DAYS.
“That was a nice party,” said Miss Pennington, walking home with Leslie and Doctor John Hautayne, behind the Inglesides. “What made it so nice?”
“You, very much,” said Leslie, straightforwardly.
“I didn’t begin it,” said Miss Elizabeth. “No; that wasn’t it. It was a step out, somehow Out of the treadmill. I got tired of parties long ago, before I was old. They were all alike. The only difference was that in one house the staircase went up on the right side of the hall, and in another on the left,—now and then, perhaps, at the back; and when you came down again, the lady near the drawing-room door might be Mrs. Hendee one night and Mrs. Marchbanks another; but after that it was all the same. And O, how I did get to hate ice-cream!”
“This was a party of ‘nexts,’” said Leslie, “instead of a selfsame.”
“What a good time Miss Waters had—quietly! You could see it in her face. A pretty face!” Miss Elizabeth spoke in a lower tone, for Lucilla was just before the Inglesides, with Helen and Pen Pennington. “She works too hard, though. I wish she came out more.”
“The ‘nexts’ have to get tired of books and mending-baskets, while the firsts are getting tired of ice-creams,” replied Leslie. “Dear Miss Pennington, there are ever so many nexts, and people don’t think anything about it!”
“So there are,” said Miss Elizabeth, quietly. “People are very stupid. They don’t know what will freshen themselves up. They think the trouble is with the confectionery, and so they try macaroon and pistachio instead of lemon and vanilla. Fresh people are better than fresh flavors. But I think we had everything fresh to-night. What a beautiful old home-y house it is!”
“And what a home-y family!” said Doctor John Hautayne.
“We have an old home-y house,” said Miss Pennington, suddenly, “with landscape-papered walls and cosey, deep windows and big chimneys. And we don’t half use it. Doctor Hautayne, I mean to have a party! Will you stay and come to it?”
“Any time within my two months’ leave,” replied Doctor Hautayne, “and with very great pleasure.”
“So she will have it before very long,” said Leslie, telling us about the talk the next day.
It! Well, when Miss Pennington took up a thing she did take it up! That does not come in here, though,—any more of it.
The Penningtons are very proud people. They have not a very great deal of money, like the Haddens, and they are not foremost in everything like the Marchbankses; somehow they do not seem to care to take the trouble for that; but they are so established; it is a family like an old tree, that is past its green branching time, and makes little spread or summer show, but whose roots reach out away underneath, and grasp more ground than all the rest put together.