Among the disreputable and vociferous crowd of New York hack drivers, that swarmed upon the pier as the Massachusetts glided into her dock, it was good to see that subduedly respectable and consciously private and superior man in the drab overcoat and the nice gloves and boots, who came forward and touched his hat to Mrs. Oferr, took her shawl and basket, and led the way, among the aggravated public menials, to a handsome private carriage waiting on the street.
“All well at home, David?” asked Mrs. Oferr.
“All well, ma’am, thank you,” replied David.
And another man sat upon the box, in another drab coat, and touched his hat; and when they reached Waverley Place and alighted, Mrs. Oferr had something to say to him of certain directions, and addressed him as “Moses.”
It was very grand and wonderful to order “David” and “Moses” about. Laura felt as if her aunt were something only a little less than “Michael with the sword.” Laura had a susceptibility for dignities; she appreciated, as we have seen out upon the wood-shed, “high places, and all the people looking up.”
David and Moses were brothers, she found out; she supposed that was the reason they dressed alike, in drab coats; as she and Frank used to wear their red merinos, and their blue ginghams. A little spasm did come up in her throat for a minute, as she thought of the old frocks and the old times already dropped so far behind; but Alice and Geraldine Oferr met her the next instant on the broad staircase at the back of the marble-paved hall, looking slight and delicate, and princess-like, in the grand space built about them for their lives to move in; and in the distance and magnificence of it all, the faint little momentary image of Frank faded away.
She went up with them out of the great square hall, over the stately staircase, past the open doors of drawing-rooms and library, stretching back in a long suite, with the conservatory gleaming green from the far end over the garden, up the second stairway to the floor where their rooms were; bedrooms and nursery,—this last called so still, though the great, airy front-room was the place used now for their books and amusements as growing young ladies,—all leading one into another around the skylighted upper hall, into which the sunshine came streaked with amber and violet from the richly colored glass. She had a little side apartment given to her for her own, with a recessed window, in which were blossoming plants just set there from the conservatory; opposite stood a white, low bed in a curtained alcove, and beyond was a dressing-closet. Laura thought she should not be able to sleep there at all for a night or two, for the beauty of it and the good time she should be having.
At that same moment Frank and her Aunt Oldways were getting down from the stage that had brought them over from Ipsley, where they slept after their day’s journey from Boston,—at the doorstone of the low, broad-roofed, wide-built, roomy old farm-house in Homesworth.