I have my flax hair built in many strange and differing fashions, and again unbuilt: piled high, to give me height; twisted low, in a vain endeavor to liken me to the Greeks; curled, plaited, frizzed, and again unfrizzed. I institute a searching and critical examination of my wardrobe, rejecting this and that; holding one color against my cheek, to see whether my pallor will be able to bear it; turning away from another with a grimace of self-disgust.
And this is the same “I,” who thought it so little worth while to win the good opinion of father’s blear-eyed old friend, that I went to my first meeting with him with a scorched face, loose hair, tottering, all through prayers, on the verge of a descent about my neck, and a large round hole, smelling horribly of singeing, burnt in the very front of my old woolen frock.
His coming is near now. This very day I shall see him come in that door. He will sit in that chair. His head will dent that cushion. I shall sit on a footstool at his feet. The better to imagine the position, I push a footstool into the desired neighborhood to Roger’s arm-chair, and already see myself, with the eye of faith, in solid reality occupying it. I rehearse all the topics that will engage my tongue. The better to realize their effect upon him, I give utterance out loud to the many greetings, to the numberless fond and pretty things with which I mean to load him.
He always looked so very joyful when I said any little civil thing to him, and I so seldom, seldom did. Ah! we will change all that! He shall be nauseated with sweets. And then, still sitting by him, holding his hand, and with my head (dressed in what I finally decide upon as the becomingest fashion) daintily rested on his arm, I will tell him all my troubles, I will tell him of Algy’s estrangement, his cold looks and harsh words. Without any outspoken or bitter abuse of her, I will yet manage cunningly to set him on his guard against Mrs. Huntley. I will lament over Bobby to him. Yes, I will tell him all my troubles— all, that is, with one reservation.
Barbara is no longer here. She has gone home.
“You will be better by yourselves,” she says, gently, when she announces her intention of going. “He will like it better. I should if I were he. It will be like a new honey-moon.”
“That it will not,” reply I, stoutly, recollecting how much I yawned, and how largely Mr. Musgrave figured in the first. “I have no opinion of honey-moons; no more would you if you had had one.”
“Should not I?” speaking a little absently, while her eyes stray through the window to the serene coldness of the sky, and the pallid droop of the snow-drops in the garden-border.
“You are sure,” say I, earnestly, taking her light hand in mine, “that you are not going because you think that you are not wanted now—that now, that I have my—my own property again” (smiling irrepressibly), “I can do very well without you.”