So the party was had. There were some people in town from New York; she invited them and about a hundred more. The house lit up beautifully; the only pity was that Mrs. Ledwith could not wear her favorite and most becoming colors, buff and chestnut, because she had taken that family of tints for her furniture; but she found a lovely shade of violet that would hold by gas-light, and she wore black Fayal lace with it, and white roses upon her hair. Mrs. Treweek was enchanted with the brown and apricot drawing-room, and wondered where on earth they had got that particular shade, for “my dear! she had ransacked Paris for hangings in just that perfect, soft, ripe color that she had in her mind and never could hit upon.” Mrs. MacMichael had pushed the grapes back upon her plate to examine the pattern of the bit of china, and had said how lovely the coloring was, with the purple and pale green of the fruit. And these things, and a few more like them, were the residuum of the whole, and Laura Ledwith was satisfied.
Afterward, “while they were in the way of it,” Florence had a little musicale; and the first season in Shubarton Place was over.
It turned out, however, as it did in the old rhyme,—they shod the horse, and shod the mare, and let the little colt go bare. Helena was disgusted because she could not have a “German.”
“We shall have to be careful, now that we have fairly settled down,” said Laura to her sister; “for every bit of Grant’s salary will have been taken up with this winter’s expenses. But one wants to begin right, and after that one can go on moderately. I’m good at contriving, Frank; only give me something to contrive with.”
“Isn’t it a responsibility,” Frank ventured, “to think what we shall contrive for?”
“Of course,” returned Mrs. Ledwith, glibly. “And my first duty is to my children. I don’t mean to encourage them to reckless extravagance; as Mrs. Megilp says, there’s always a limit; but it’s one’s duty to make life beautiful, and one can’t do too much for home. I want my children to be satisfied with theirs, and I want to cultivate their tastes and accustom them to society. I can’t do everything for them; they will dress on three hundred a year apiece, Agatha and Florence; and I can assure you it needs management to accomplish that, in these days!”