They began by going together to the carpet stores and the paper warehouses; but they ended in detailing themselves for separate work; their ideas clashed ridiculously, and perpetually confused each other. Frank remembered loyally her old brown sofa and chairs; she would not have gay colors to put them out of countenance; for even if she re-covered them, she said they should have the same old homey complexion. So she chose a fair, soft buff, with a pattern of brown leaves, for her parlor paper; Mrs. Ledwith, meanwhile, plunging headlong into glories of crimson and garnet and gold. Agatha had her blush pink, in panels, with heart-of-rose borders, set on with delicate gilt beadings; you would have thought she was going to put herself up, in a fancy-box, like a French mouchoir or a bonbon.
“Why don’t you put your old brown things all together in an up-stairs room, and call it Mile Hill? You could keep it for old times’ sake, and sit there mornings; the house is big enough; and then have furniture like other people’s in the parlor?”
“You see it wouldn’t be me.” said Mrs. Ripwinkley, simply.
“They keep saying it ‘looks,’ and ‘it looks,’” said Diana to her mother, at home. “Why must everything look somehow?”
“And every_body_, too,” said Hazel. “Why, when we meet any one in the street that Agatha and Florence know, the minute they have gone by they say, ‘She didn’t look well to-day,’ or, ’How pretty she did look in that new hat!’ And after the great party they went to at that Miss Hitchler’s, they never told a word about it except how girls ‘looked.’ I wonder what they did, or where the good time was. Seems to me people ain’t living,—they are only just looking; or is this the same old Boston that you told about, and where are the real folks, mother?”
“We shall find them,” said Mrs. Ripwinkley, cheerily; “and the real of these, too, when the outsides are settled. In the meantime, we’ll make our house say, and not look. Say something true, of course. Things won’t say anything else, you see; if you try to make them, they don’t speak out; they only stand in a dumb show and make faces.”
“That’s looking!” said Hazel. “Now I know.”
“How those children do grow!” said Mrs. Ripwinkley, as they went off together. “Two months ago they were sitting out on the kitchen roof, and coming to me to hear the old stories!”
“Transplantin’,” said Luclarion. “That’s done it.”
At twelve and fourteen, Hazel and Diana could be simple as birds,—simpler yet, as human children waiting for all things,—in their country life and their little dreams of the world. Two months’ contact with people and things in a great city had started the life that was in them, so that it showed what manner of growth it was to be of.
And little Hazel Ripwinkley had got hold already of the small end of a very large problem.