“It wasn’t leavings. She didn’t touch it. I was peeping through the door and I heard her say she never ate trash. It was grand. Nobody told me not to eat it, and I ate.”
“An inherited habit, my dear.” Laine put the almonds, the olives, and the mints beyond the reach of little arms. “Once upon a time there was a lady who lived in a garden and she ate something she ought not to have eaten and thereby made great trouble. She had been told not to, but being a woman—”
“I know about her. She was Eve.” Dorothea took some almonds from her uncle’s plate and put one in her mouth. “She was made out of Adam’s rib, and Adam was made out of the dust of the earth. Ever since she ate that apple everybody has been made of dust, Antoinette says.”
Channing sat upright, in his big blue eyes doubt and distress. “Was Dorothea and me made out of dust, Uncle Winthrop?”
“Dust, mere dust, my man.”
For a moment there was silence and seeming thought, then Dorothea’s head bobbed up and down. “Well, we can’t help it, and there’s no use letting things hurt that you can’t help! But I don’t think mother knows, Uncle Winthrop, and please don’t tell her. She just hates dirt. Gracious goodness! I’m as full as a frog, and the ice-cream’s got chocolate on it, too!”
In the library some minutes later Dorothea was pouring her uncle’s coffee, and as he took the cup she brought him he bowed ceremoniously, then put it down to light a cigar. There were times when he wished Dorothea were his. If she were his— He took a long whiff of his cigar and threw the match in the fire.
DOROTHEA AND MR. LAINE
“Pardonnez-moi!” Mademoiselle Antoinette stood at the door. Around and about her hung blushing apology, and her hands clasped and unclasped in nervous appeal. The hour had struck and her little charges must come. Would Monsieur pardon? She was so sorry, it was sad, but Madame would not like it. “Oh, of course!” Laine waved his hand. “Good night, Buster!” Channing was tossed in the air. “If the gobblers get you to-night, don’t mind. They’re just turkey. Good night, Miss Wisdom!” Stooping, he kissed Dorothea and unwound the arms with which she clung to him. “I’m sorry, child, but a bargain is a bargain, and your mother won’t trust us if we don’t play fair— It’s after eight and—” “But I haven’t told you what was the specialest thing I had to—” Dorothea turned to the woman standing in the door holding her brother’s hand; spoke to her rapidly.
“Je vous en prie, Mademoiselle Antoinette, Prenez Channing et ne m’attendez pas. Je vous rejoindrai dans un instant. J’ai quelque chose de tres important a dier a mon oncle—deux minutes et j’arrive!”
Antoinette hesitated, then, with a gesture of despair, left the room; and instantly Dorothea was on a stool at her uncle’s feet.