“When that picture was painted and was first seen by my friends, some one remarked,
“‘Oh, how dearly above all else Marcia prizes a gay life!’
“I have always enjoyed social pleasures,” she continued, “but if I were to say that one thing, above all else, gave me true delight, I should say, that to make others happy had ever been my greatest joy.”
“Pardon me, if I venture to say that that is the charm which has preserved your beauty,” said the young tutor, gravely bowing to Aunt Marcia, who, sweeping a low courtesy, acknowledged the courtly speech which was uttered in such evident sincerity.
“And, in return let me say, that the young man who thinks it worth while to pay a graceful compliment to one who is quite old enough to be his grandmother, proves himself to be a worthy descendant of his talented father, a perfect gentleman of the old school,” replied Aunt Marcia; and Helen saw the quick flush of pleasure on the professor’s cheek. His love for his father amounted almost to worship, and Aunt Marcia could have chosen no word of praise which would have moved him so deeply, or pleased him more surely, than to thus have declared him, to be a “worthy descendant.”
Other young people joined this central group, and Nina at the piano played softly a dreamy nocturne which seemed a gentle accompaniment to the conversation.
In the shadow of a tall jar of ferns Jotham was looking at Randy, and thinking that while the white party gown was very charming, it was also true that Randy at home in a pink sunbonnet had been well worth looking at.
“How serious you look,” said Randy, “are you thinking that to-night’s pleasure will mean many hours of hard study to-morrow, Jotham?”
“No, indeed,” he answered with a laugh, “I am not allowing a thought of study to mar to-night’s enjoyment. I was just wondering, Randy, why some girls are very dependent for a good appearance, upon what they wear, while one girl whom I know, can look equally well in a party gown or a gingham dress and sunbonnet.”
Randy blushed as she said, “O, Jotham, has Professor Marden been teaching you to pay compliments, along with your other studies?”
“Indeed, no,” was the answer. “He meant every word which he said to Miss Dayton’s aunt, as truly as I meant what I said to you, and Randy,” he continued, “you and I have been here in the city all winter, have seen its life and stir and bustle, and you have seen much of the social side of the problem which is puzzling me. Is it so much better, this city life, than the home life in the country? There, every busybody is interested in his neighbor; here, we are met on every hand by strangers who do not know, or wish to know anything in regard to us. Here a hundred strangers in the great railway stations are objects of but little interest. Randy, do you realize the commotion which one arrival with a hand-bag causes at the little station at home? I tell you, Randy, one is large in a little country town, and small, so small in a great city.”