“Don’t talk, granny,” whispered ’Lena, painfully conscious of the curious eyes fixed upon them by the bevy of blacks, who had come out to greet their master, and who with sidelong glances at each other, were inspecting the new comers.
“Don’t talk! why not?” said Mrs. Nichols, rather sharply. “This is a free country I suppose.” Then bethinking herself, she added quickly, “Oh, I forgot, ’taint free here!”
After examining the satchel and finding that the night gown sleeve was safe, Mrs. Nichols took up her line of march for the house, herself carrying her umbrella and band-box, which she would not intrust to the care of the negroes, “as like enough they’d break the umberell, or squash her caps.”
“The trumpery room is plenty good enough for ’em,” thought Corinda, retreating into the kitchen and cutting sundry flourishes in token of her contempt.
The moment ’Lena came in sight, Mrs. Livingstone exclaimed, “Oh, mercy, which is the oldest?” and truly, poor ’Lena did present a sorry figure,
Her bonnet, never very handsome or fashionable, had received an ugly crook in front, which neither her grandmother or uncle had noticed, and of which John Jr. would not tell her, thinking that the worse she looked the more fun he would have! Her skirts were not very full, and her dress hung straight around her, making her of the same bigness from her head to her feet. Her shoes, which had been given to her by one of the neighbors, were altogether too large, and it was with considerable difficulty that she could keep them on, but then as they were a present, Mrs. Nichols said “it was a pity not to get all the good out of them she could.”
In front of herself and grandmother, walked Mr. Livingstone, moody, silent, and cross. Behind them was John Jr., mimicking first ’Lena’s gait and then his grandmother’s. The negroes, convulsed with laughter, darted hither and thither, running against and over each other, and finally disappearing, some behind the house and some into the kitchen, and all retaining a position from which they could have a full view of the proceedings. On the piazza stood Anna and Carrie, the one with her handkerchief stuffed in her mouth, and the other with her mouth open, astounded at the unlooked-for spectacle.
“Oh, what shall I do, what shall I do?” groaned Mrs. Livingstone.
“Do? Get up and dress yourself, and come and see your new relations: that’s what I should do,” answered John Jr., who, tired of mimicking, had run forward, and now rushed unceremoniously into his mother’s sleeping-room, leaving the door open behind him.
“John Livingstone, what do you mean?” said she, “shut that door this minute.”
Feigning not to hear her, John Jr. ran back to the piazza, which he reached just in time to hear the presentation of his sisters.
“This is Carrie, and this is Anna,” said Mr. Livingstone, pointing to each one as he pronounced her name.