“You might live all your days here,” said Mrs. Ledwith to her sister, passing over Desire, “and never get into the heart of it, for that matter, unless you were born into it. I don’t care so much, for my part. I know plenty of nice people, and I like to have things nice about me, and to have a pleasant time, and to let my children enjoy themselves. The ‘heart,’ if the truth was known, is a dreadful still place. I’m satisfied.”
Uncle Titus’s paper was folded across the middle; just then he reversed the lower half; that brought the printing upside down; but he went on reading all the same.
“I’m going to have a real party,” said Hazel, “a real, gracious-grandmother party; just such as you and mother had, Aunt Laura, when you were little.”
Her Aunt Laura laughed good-naturedly.
“I guess you’ll have to go round and knock up the grandmothers to come to it, then,” said she. “You’d better make it a fancy dress affair at once, and then it will be accounted for.”
“No; I’m going round to invite; and they are to come at four, and take tea at six; and they’re just to wear their afternoon dresses; and Miss Craydocke is coming at any rate; and she knows all the old plays, and lots of new ones; and she is going to show how.”
“I’m coming, too,” said Uncle Titus, over his newspaper, with his eyes over his glasses.
“That’s good,” said Hazel, simply, least surprised of any of the conclave.
“And you’ll have to play the muffin man. ‘O, don’t you know,’”—she began to sing, and danced two little steps toward Mr. Oldways. “O, I forgot it was Sunday!” she said, suddenly stopping.
“Not much wonder,” said Uncle Titus. “And not much matter. Your Sunday’s good enough.”
And then he turned his paper right side up; but, before he began really to read again, he swung half round toward them in his swivel-chair, and said,—
“Leave the sugar-plums to me, Hazel; I’ll come early and bring ’em in my pocket.”
“It’s the first thing he’s taken the slightest notice of, or interest in, that any one of us has been doing,” said Agatha Ledwith, with a spice of momentary indignation, as they walked along Bridgeley Street to take the car.
For Uncle Titus had not come to the Ledwith party. “He never went visiting, and he hadn’t any best coat,” he told Laura, in verbal reply to the invitation that had come written on a square satin sheet, once folded, in an envelope with a big monogram.
“It’s of no consequence,” said Mrs. Ledwith, “any way. Only a child’s play.”
“But it will be, mother; you don’t know,” said Helena. “She’s going right in everywhere, with that ridiculous little invitation; to the Ashburnes and the Geoffreys, and all! She hasn’t the least idea of any difference; and just think what the girls will say, and how they will stare, and laugh! I wish she wasn’t my cousin!”