Down at the bottom, she had just added,—
“MR. KINCAID AND DORRIS.”
“For, if I have some grown folks, mother, perhaps I ought to have other grown folks,—’to keep the balance true.’ Besides, Mr. Kincaid and Dorris always like the little nice times.”
From the day when Dorris Kincaid had come over with the gray glass vase and her repeated thanks, when the flowers had done their ministry and faded, there had been little simple courtesies, each way, between the opposite houses; and once Kenneth and his sister had taken tea with the Ripwinkleys, and they had played “crambo” and “consequences” in the evening. The real little game of “consequences,” of which this present friendliness was a link, was going on all the time, though they did not stop to read the lines as they folded them down, and “what the world said” was not one of the items in their scheme of it at all.
It would have been something worth while to have followed Hazel as she went her rounds, asking quietly at each house to see Mrs. This or That, “as she had a message;” and being shown, like a little representative of an almost extinct period, up into the parlor, or the dressing-room of each lady, and giving her quaint errand.
“I am Hazel Ripwinkley,” she would say, “and my mother sends her compliments, and would like to have Lilian,”—or whoever else,—“come at four o’clock to-day, and spend the afternoon and take tea. I’m to have a little party such as she used to have, and nobody is to be much dressed up, and we are only to play games.”
“Why, that is charming!” cried Mrs. Ashburne; for the feeling of her own sweet early days, and the old B—— Square house, came over her as she heard the words. “It is Lilian’s music afternoon; but never mind; give my kind compliments to your mother, and she will be very happy to come.”
And Mrs. Ashburne stooped down and kissed Hazel, when she went away.
She stood in the deep carved stone entrance-way to Mrs. Geoffrey’s house, in the same fearless, Red Riding Hood fashion, just as she would have waited in any little country porch up in Homesworth, where she had need indeed to knock.
Not a whit dismayed was she either, when the tall manservant opened to her, and admitted her into the square, high, marble-paved hall, out of which great doors were set wide into rooms rich and quiet with noble adorning and soft shading,—where pictures made such a magic upon the walls, and books were piled from floor to ceiling; and where her little figure was lost as she went in, and she hesitated to take a seat anywhere, lest she should be quite hidden in some great arm-chair or sofa corner, and Mrs. Geoffrey should not see her when she came down.
So, as the lady entered, there she was, upright and waiting, on her two feet, in her nankeen dress, just within the library doors, with her face turned toward the staircase.