“I’m nothing better than a walking dead man, now,” said he, as he, retraced his steps back to his hotel. “Nellie’s gone, and with her all for which I lived, for she’s the only girl except ’Lena who isn’t a libel on the sex—or, yes—there’s Anna—does as well as she knows how—and there’s Mabel, a little simpleton, to be sure, but amiable and good-natured, and on the whole, as smart as they’ll average. ’Twas kind in her, anyway, to offer to pay ’Lena’s music bills.”
And with these reflections, John Jr. sought out the men whom he had come to see, transacted his business, and then started for home, where he found his mother in unusually good spirits. Matters thus far had succeeded even beyond her most sanguine expectations. Nellie was gone to Europe, and the rest she fancied would be easy. ’Lena, too, was gone, but the result of this was not what she had hoped. Durward had been at Maple Grove but once since ’Lena left, while she had heard of his being in Frankfort several times.
“Something must be done”—her favorite expression and in her difficulty she determined to call upon Mrs. Graham, whom she had not seen since Christmas. “It is quite time she knew about the gray pony, as well as other matters,” thought she, and ordering the carriage, she set out one morning for Woodlawn, intending to spend the day if she found its mistress amiably disposed, which was not always the case.
Mrs. Graham reclined upon a softly-cushioned sofa, her tasteful lace morning-cap half falling from her head, and her rich cashmere gown flowing open, so as to reveal the flounced cambric skirt which her sewing-girl had sat up till midnight to finish. A pair of delicate French slippers pinched rather than graced her fat feet, one of which angrily beat the carpet, as if keeping time to its mistress’ thoughts. Nervous and uncomfortable was the lady of Woodlawn this morning, for she had just passed through a little conjugal scene with her husband, whom she had called a brute, lamenting the dispensation of Providence which took from her “her beloved Sir Arthur, who always thought whatever she said was right,” and ending by throwing herself in the most theatrical manner upon the sofa in the parlor, where, with both her blood and temper at a boiling heat, she lay, when her waiting-maid, but recently purchased, announced the approach of a carriage.
“Mercy,” exclaimed the distressed lady, “whose is it? I hope no one will ask for me.”
“Reckon how it’s Marster Livingstone’s carriage, ’case thar’s Tom on the box,” answered the girl, who had her own private reason for knowing Tom at any distance.
“Mrs. Livingstone, I’ll venture to say,” groaned Mrs. Graham, burying her lace cap and flaxen hair still farther in the silken cushions. “Just because I stopped there a few days last summer, she thinks she must run here every week; and there’s no way of escaping her. Do shut that blind; it lets in so much light. There, would you think I’d been crying?”