“By George!” he thought, a weakness assailing his heart suddenly; “I don’t believe she cares a rap!”
The Left Ventricle
The next day Mrs. Bonner and Miss Bonner descended upon Tinkletown. They were driven over from Boggs City in an automobile, and their advent caused a new thrill of excitement in town. Half of the women in Tinkletown found excuse to walk past Mr. Crow’s home some time during the day, and not a few of them called to pay their respects to Mrs. Crow, whether they owed them or not, much to that estimable lady’s discomfiture.
Wicker’s mother was a handsome, aristocratic woman with a pedigree reaching back to Babylon or some other historic starting place. Her ancestors were Tories at the time of the American Revolution, and she was proud of it. Her husband’s forefathers had shot a few British in those days, it is true, and had successfully chased some of her own ancestors over to Long Island, but that did not matter in these twentieth century days. Mr. Bonner long since had gone to the tomb; and his widow at fifty was quite the queen of all she surveyed, which was not inconsiderable. The Bonners were rich in worldly possessions, rich in social position, rich in traditions. The daughter, just out in society, was a pretty girl, several years younger than Wicker. She was the idol of his heart. This slip of a girl had been to him the brightest, wittiest and prettiest girl in all the world. Now, he was wondering how the other girl, who was not his sister, would compare with her when they stood together before him.
Naturally, Mrs. Crow and her daughters sank into a nervous panic as soon as these fashionable women from Boston set foot inside the humble home. They lost what little self-possession they had managed to acquire and floundered miserably through the preliminaries.
But calm, sweet and composed as the most fastidious would require, Rosalie greeted the visitors without a shadow of confusion or a sign of gaucherie. Bonner felt a thrill of joy and pride as he took note of the look of surprise that crept into his mother’s face—a surprise that did not diminish as the girl went through her unconscious test.
“By George!” he cried jubilantly to himself, “she’s something to be proud of—she’s a queen!”
Later in the day, after the humble though imposing lunch (the paradox was permissible in Tinkletown), Mrs. Bonner found time and opportunity to express her surprise and her approval to him. With the insight of the real aristocrat, she was not blind to the charms of the girl, who blossomed like a rose in this out-of-the-way patch of nature. The tact which impelled Rosalie to withdraw herself and all of the Crows from the house, giving the Bonners an opportunity to be together undisturbed, did not escape the clever woman of the world.
“She is remarkable, Wicker. Tell me about her. Why does she happen to be living in this wretched town and among such people?”