In an instant the indignant blood surged in waves over Sadie’s face; the hand was angrily withdrawn, and the graceful form drawn to an erect hight, and it is impossible to describe the freezing tone of astonished indignation in which she ejaculated, “Dr. Van Anden!”
“Just what I expected,” returned that gentleman in a composed manner, bestowing a look of entire satisfaction upon his irate companion. “And yet, Sadie, I hope you will pardon my obtuseness, but I positively can not see why, if it is proper and courteous, and all that sort of thing, I, who am a friend of ten years’ standing, should not enjoy the same privilege which you accord to Fred Kenmore, to whom you were introduced last week, and with whom I heard you say you danced five times.”
Sadie looked confused and annoyed, but finally she laughed; for she had the good sense to see the folly of doing any thing else under existing circumstances.
“That is the point which puzzles me at present,” continued the Doctor, in a kind, grave tone. “I do not understand how young ladies of refinement can permit, under certain circumstances, and often from comparative strangers, attentions which, under other circumstances, they repel with becoming indignation. Won’t you consider the apparent inconsistency a little? It is the only suggestion which I wish to offer on the question at present. When you have settled that other important matter, this thing will present itself to your clear-seeing eyes in other and more startling aspects. Meantime, this is the house at which I must call. Will you hold my horses, Miss Sadie, while I dispatch matters within?”
But the autumn days were not all bright, and glowing, and glorious. One morning it rained—not a soft, silent, and warm rain, but a gusty, windy, turbulent one; a rain that drove into windows ever so slightly raised, and hurled itself angrily into your face whenever you ventured to open a door. It was a day in which fires didn’t like to burn, but smoldered, and sizzled, and smoked; and people went around shivering, their shoulders shrugged up under little dingy, unbecoming shawls, and the clouds were low, and gray, and heavy—and every thing and every body seemed generally out of sorts.
Ester was no exception; the toothache had kept her awake during the night, and one cheek was puffy and stiff in the morning, and one tooth still snarled threateningly whenever the slightest whisper of a draught came to it. The high-toned, exalted views of life and duty which had held possession of her during the past few weeks seemed suddenly to have deserted her. In short, her body had gained that mortifying ascendency over the soul which it will sometimes accomplish, and all her hopes, and aims, and enthusiasms seemed blotted out. Things in the kitchen were uncomfortable. Maggie had seized on this occasion for having the mumps, and acting upon the advice of her sympathizing mistress, had pinned a hot flannel around her face and gone to bed. The same unselfish counsel had been given to Ester, but she had just grace enough left to refuse to desert the camp, when dinner must be in readiness for twenty-four people in spite of nerves and teeth. Just here, however, the supply failed her, and she worked in ominous gloom.