Grace’s home was a beautiful, great house, bigger than the Harley’s at Tillbury, and Nan Sherwood was impressed by its magnificence and by the spacious rooms. Her term at Lakeview Hall had made Nan much more conversant with luxury than she had been before. At home in the little cottage on the by-street, although love dwelt there, the Sherwoods had never lived extravagantly in any particular. Mrs. Sherwood’s long invalidism had eaten up the greater part of Mr. Sherwood’s salary when he worked in the Atwater Mills; and now that Mrs. Sherwood’s legacy from her great uncle, Hugh Blake of Emberon, was partly tied up in the Scotch courts, the Sherwoods would continue to limit their expenditures.
At Mrs. Sherwood’s urgent request, her husband was going into the automobile business. A part of the money they had brought back from Scotland had already been used in fitting up a handsome showroom and garage on the main street of Tillbury; and some other heavy expenses had fallen upon Mr. Sherwood, for which he would, however, be recompensed by the sale of the first few cars.
If Ravell Bulson injured Mr. Sherwood’s business reputation by his wild charges, or if the company Mr. Sherwood expected to represent, heard of the trouble, much harm might be done. The automobile manufacturing company might even refuse to allow their cars to be handled by Mr. Sherwood—which was quite within their rights, according to the contract which had been signed between them.
Enough of this, however. Nan and Bess Harley were established with Grace Mason, in Chicago, expecting to have a fine time. Nan tried to put all home troubles off her mind.
The girls occupied a beautiful large suite together on the third floor, with a bath all their own, and a maid to wait upon them. Grace was used to this; but she was a very simple-minded girl, and the presence of a tidy, be-aproned and be-capped maid not much older than herself, did not particularly impress Grace one way or another.
“I feel like a queen,” Bess confessed, luxuriously. “I can say: ’Do thus and so,’ and ’tis done. I might say: ‘Off with his head!’ if one of my subjects displeased me, and he would be guillotined before you could wink an eye.”
“How horrid!” said Grace, the shy. “I never could feel that way.”
“It would never do for Elizabeth to be a grand vizer, or sultan, or satrap,” Nan remarked laughingly.
“Who wants to be a ‘shawl-strap’? Not I!” cried Bess, gaily. “I am Queen Bess, monarch of all I survey. Katie!”—the neat little maid had just entered the room—“will you hand me the book I was reading in the other room? I’m too weak to rise. Oh, thanks!”
Grace laughed; but Nan looked a little grave as Katie disappeared again.
“Don’t, honey,” Nan said to her thoughtless chum. “It isn’t nice. The poor girl has necessary work enough without your making up thing’s for her to do. She is on her feet from morning till night. She tells me that her ankles swell dreadfully sometimes, and that is awful for a young girl like her.”