“Will you adopt the old woman too?” asked Mrs. Graham, whose face was turned away so as to hide its expression.
“That is an after consideration,” returned her husband, “but if you are willing, I will either take her to our home, or provide for her elsewhere—but come, what do you say?”
All this time Mrs. Graham had sat bolt upright, her little dumpling hands folded one within the other, the long transparent nails making deep indentures in the soft flesh, and her gray eyes emitting green gleams of scorn. The answer her husband sought came at length, and was characteristic of the woman. Hissing out the words from between her teeth, she replied, “When I take ’Lena Rivers into my family for my husband and son to make love to, alternately, I shall be ready for the lunatic asylum at Lexington.”
“And what objection have you to her?” asked Mr. Graham; to which his wife replied, “The very fact, sir, that you wish it, is a sufficient reason why I will not have her; besides that, you must misjudge me strangely if you think I’d be willing for my son to come daily in contact with a girl of her doubtful parentage.”
“What know you of her parentage?” said Mr. Graham, his lips turning slightly pale.
“Yes, what do I know?” answered his wife. “Her father, if she has any, is a rascal, a villain——”
“Yes, yes, all of that,” muttered Mr. Graham, while his wife continued, “And her mother a poor, low, mean, ignorant——”
“Hold!” thundered Mr. Graham. “You shall not speak so of any woman of whom you know nothing, much less of ‘Lena Rivers’ mother.”
“And pray what do you know of her—is she an old acquaintance?” asked Mrs. Graham, throwing into her manner as much of insolence as possible.
“I know,” returned Mr. Graham, “that ’Lena’s mother could be nothing else than respectable.”
“Undoubtedly; but of this be assured—the daughter shall never, by my permission, darken my doors,” said Mrs. Graham, growing more and more excited, and continuing—“I know you of old, Harry Graham; and I know now that your great desire to secure Woodlawn was so as to be near her, but it shan’t be.”
In her excitement, Mrs. Graham forgot that it was herself who had first suggested Woodlawn as a residence, and that until within a day or two her husband and ’Lena were entire strangers. But this made no difference. She was bent upon being unreasonable, and for nearly an hour she fretted and cried, declaring herself the most abused of her sex, and wishing she had never seen her husband, who, in his heart, warmly seconded that wish, wisely resolving not to mention the offending ’Lena again in the presence of his wife.
The next day the bargain for Woodlawn was completed; after which, Mr. and Mrs. Graham, together with Durward, returned to Louisville, intending to take possession of their new home about the first of October.