The next morning every one of them ran away from the meeting. The way of it was this: as they came up from breakfast and stood at the tent-door discussing the question whether they would go to the early meeting, Mrs. Duane Smithe passed, glanced up at them carelessly, then looked back curiously, and at last turned and came back to them.
“I beg pardon,” she said, “but isn’t this Miss Erskine? It surely is! I thought I recognized your face, but couldn’t be sure in these strange surroundings. And you have a party with you? How delightful! We were just wishing for more ladies. I really don’t think it is going to rain much to-day, and we have a lovely prospect in view. You must certainly join us.”
Then followed introductions and explanations, Mrs. Duane Smithe was a Saratoga acquaintance of Ruth Erskine, and was en route for Jamestown for the day.
“Where is Jamestown?” queried Eurie, who was a very useful member of society, in that she never pretended knowledge that she did not possess, so that you had only to keep still and listen to the answers that were made to her questions in order to know a good deal.
“It is at the head of this lovely little lake, or at the foot, I’m sure I don’t know which way to call it, and it is nothing of consequence, of course, but the ride thither is said to be charming, and we are going to take a lunch, and picnic in a private way, just for the fun of getting together, you know, in a more social manner than one can accomplish in this wilderness of people. Isn’t it a queer place, Miss Erskine? I am dying to know how you happened to come here.”
Ruth arched her eyebrows.
“I confess it is almost as strange as what brought you here,” she said, smiling.
“I can answer that in an instant. I have a ridiculous nephew here, who thought that a week of meetings from morning to night would be just a trifle short of paradise, so what did he do but smuggle us all off this way. I shall find it a bore, of course, and the only way to get through with it is to have little pleasure excursions like the one we propose to-day.”
Now you know as much about Mrs. Duane Smithe as though I should write about her for a week. It is strange how little we have to say before we have explained to people not only our intellectual but our moral status. Our girls, you will remember, had as little regard for the meetings as girls could have, and they had by this time begun to feel themselves in a strange atmosphere, without acquaintances or gentlemanly attentions, so it took almost no persuasion at all to induce them to join Mrs. Smithe’s party, composed of two young ladies and four young gentlemen. It would be difficult to explain to you what a disappointment the decision to spend the day in frolic, instead of going to the meetings, was to Flossy. All the