“I wish I lived in a block of houses, and could see across the corner into my best friend’s room when she got up in the morning!”
“And could have that party!” said Diana.
“Think of the clean, smooth streets, with red sidewalks, and people living all along, door after door! I like things set in rows, and people having places, like the desks at school. Why, you’ve got to go way round Sand Hill to get to Elizabeth Ann Dorridon’s. I should like to go up steps, and ring bells!”
“I don’t know,” said Diana, slowly. “I think birds that build little nests about anywhere in the cunning, separate places, in the woods, or among the bushes, have the best time.”
“Birds, Dine! It ain’t birds, it’s people! What has that to do with it?”
“I mean I think nests are better than martin-boxes.”
“Let’s go in and get her to tell us that story. She’s in the round room.”
The round room was a half ellipse, running in against the curve of the staircase. It was a bit of a place, with the window at one end, and the bow at the other. It had been Doctor Ripwinkley’s office, and Mrs. Ripwinkley sat there with her work on summer afternoons. The door opened out, close at the front, upon a great flat stone in an angle, where was also entrance into the hall by the house-door, at the right hand. The door of the office stood open, and across the stone one could look down, between a range of lilac bushes and the parlor windows, through a green door-yard into the street.
“Now, Mother Frank, tell us about the party!”
They called her “Mother Frank” when they wished to be particularly coaxing. They had taken up their father’s name for her, with their own prefix, when they were very little ones, before he went away and left nobody to call her Frank, every day, any more.
“That same little old story? Won’t you ever be tired of it,—you great girls?” asked the mother; for she had told it to them ever since they were six and eight years old.
“Yes! No, never!” said the children.
For how should they outgrow it? It was a sunny little bit out of their mother’s own child-life. We shall go back to smaller things, one day, maybe, and find them yet more beautiful. It is the going back, together.
“The same old way?”
“Yes; the very same old way.”
“We had little open-work straw hats and muslin pelisses,—your Aunt Laura and I,”—began Mrs. Ripwinkley, as she had begun all those scores of times before. “Mother put them on for us,—she dressed us just alike, always,—and told us to take each other’s hands, and go up Brier and down Hickory streets, and stop at all the houses that she named, and that we knew; and we were to give her love and compliments, and ask the mothers in each house,—Mrs. Dayton, and Mrs. Holridge (she lived up the long steps), and Mrs. Waldow, and the rest of them, to let Caroline and Grace and Fanny and Susan, and the rest of them, come at four o’clock, to spend the afternoon and take tea, if it was convenient.”