“Quite sure, Nancy!” looking back into my eager eyes with confident affection.
“And you will come back very soon? very?”
“When you quarrel,” she answers, her face dimpling into a laugh, “I will come and make it up between you.”
“You must come before then” say I, with a proud smile, “or your visit is likely to be indefinitely postponed.”
Roger and I quarrel! We both find the idea so amusing that we laugh in concert.
“Gertrude. Is my knight come? O the Lord, my hand! Sister, do my cheeks look well? Give me a little box o’ the ear, that I may seem to blush.”—EASTWARD HOE.
She is gone now. The atmosphere of the house seems less clear, less pure, now that she has left it. As she drives away, it seems to me, looking after her, that no flower ever had a modester face, a more delicate bloom. If I had time to think about it, I should fret sorely after her, I should grievously miss her; but I have none.
The carriage that takes her to the station is to wait half an hour, and then bring back Roger. There is, therefore, not more than enough time for me to make the careful and lengthy toilet, on which I have expended so much painstaking thought. I have deferred making it till now, so that I may appear in perfect dainty freshness, as if I had just emerged from the manifold silver papers of a bandbox, before him when he arrives— that not a hair of my flax head may be displaced from its silky sweep; that there may be no risk of Vick jumping up, and defiling me with muddy paws that know no respect of clothes.
I take a long time over it. I snub my maid more than I ever did in my life before. But I am complete now; to the last pin I am finished. Perhaps—though this does not strike me till the last moment—perhaps I am rather, nay, more than rather, overdressed for the occasion. But surely this, in a person who has not long been in command of fine clothes, and even in that short time has had very few opportunities of airing them, is pardonable.
You remember that it is February. Well, then, this is the warm splendor in which I am clad. Genoa velvet, of the color of a dark sapphire, trimmed with silver-fox fur; and my head crowned with a mob-cap, concerning which I am in doubt, and should be nervously glad to have the boys here to enlighten me as to whether it is very becoming or rather ridiculous. The object of the mob-cap is to approximate my age to Roger’s, and to assure all such as the velvet and fur leave in doubt, that I am entitled to take my stand among the portly ranks of British matrons.
“Algy was right,” say I, soliloquizing aloud, as I stand before the long cheval glass, with a back-hair glass in one hand, by whose aid I correct my errors in the profile, three-quarters or back view; “mine is not the most hopeless kind of ugliness. It is certainly modifiable by dress.”