So it had come about long ago, though I have not had a corner to mention it in, that they “knew the Muffin Man,” in an Aspen Street sense; and were no strangers to the charm of Mrs. Ripwinkley’s “evenings.” There was always an “evening” in the “Mile Hill House,” as the little family and friendly coterie had come to call it.
Rosamond and Leslie had been down together for a week once, at the Schermans; and this time Rosamond was coming alone. She had business in Boston for a day or two, and had written to ask Asenath “if she might.” There were things to buy for Barbara, who was going to be married in a “navy hurry,” besides an especial matter that had determined her just at this time to come.
And Asenath answered, “that the scarlet and gray, and green and blue were pining and fading on the shelf; and four days would be the very least to give them all a turn and treat them fairly; for such things had their delicate susceptibilities, as Hans Andersen had taught us to know, and might starve and suffer,—why not? being made of protoplasm, same as anybody.”
Rosamond’s especial errand to the city was one that just a little set her up, innocently, in her mind. She had not wholly got the better,—when it interfered with no good-will or generous dealing,—of a certain little instinctive reverence for imposing outsides and grand ways of daily doing; and she was somewhat complacent at the idea of having to go,—with kindly and needful information,—to Madam Mucklegrand, in Spreadsplendid Park.
Madam Mucklegrand was a well-born Boston lady, who had gone to Europe in her early youth, and married a Scottish gentleman with a Sir before his name. Consequently, she was quite entitled to be called “my lady;” and some people who liked the opportunity of touching their republican tongues to the salt of European dignitaries, addressed her so; but, for the most part, she assumed and received simply the style of “Madam.” A queen may be called “Madam,” you know. It covers an indefinite greatness. But when she spoke of her late,—very long ago,—husband, she always named him as “Sir Archibald.”
Madam Mucklegrand’s daughter wanted a wet-nurse for her little baby.