Rosamond stood in the hall-door, as she went down the steps and away. At the same moment, Barbara, flushed with an evidently hurried walk, came in. “Why! what makes you so red, Rose?” she said.
“Somebody has been snubbing somebody,” replied Rose, holding her royal color, like her namesake, in the midst of a cool repose. “And I don’t quite know whether it is Olivia Marchbanks or I.”
“A color-question between Rose and Barberry!” said Ruth. “What have you been doing, Barbie? Why didn’t you stay to tea?”
“I? I’ve been walking, of course.—That boy has got home again,” she added, half aloud, to Rosamond, as they went up stairs.
We knew very well that she must have been queer to Harry again. He would have been certain to walk home with her, if she would have let him. But—“all through the town, and up the hill, in the daylight! Or—stay to tea with him there, and make him come, in the dark!—And if he imagined that I knew!” We were as sure as if she had said it, that these were the things that were in her mind, and that these were what she had run away from. How she had done it we did not know; we had no doubt it had been something awful.
The next morning nobody called. Father came home to dinner and said Mr. Goldthwaite had told him that Harry was under orders,—to the “Katahdin.”
In the afternoon Barbara went out and nailed up the woodbines. Then she put on her hat, and took a great bundle that had been waiting for a week for somebody to carry, and said she would go round to South Hollow with it, to Mrs. Dockery.
“You will be tired to death. You are tired already, hammering at those vines,” said mother, anxiously. Mothers cannot help daughters much in these buzzes.
“I want the exercise,” said Barbara, turning away her face that was at once red and pale. “Pounding and stamping are good for me.” Then she came back in a hurry, and kissed mother, and then she went away.
Mrs. Hobart has a “fire-gown.” That is what she calls it; she made it for a fire, or for illness, or any night alarm; she never goes to bed without hanging it over a chair-back, within instant reach. It is of double, bright-figured flannel, with a double cape sewed on; and a flannel belt, also sewed on behind, and furnished, for fastening, with a big, reliable, easy-going button and button-hole. Up and down the front—not too near together—are more big, reliable, easy-going buttons and button-holes. A pair of quilted slippers with thick soles belong with this gown, and are laid beside it. Then Mrs. Hobart goes to bed in peace, and sleeps like the virgin who knows there is oil in her vessel.
If Mrs. Roger Marchbanks had known of Mrs. Hobart’s fire-gown, and what it had been made and waiting for, unconsciously, all these years, she might not have given those quiet orders to her discreet, well-bred parlor-maid, by which she was never to be “disengaged” when Mrs. Hobart called.