She watched this new group gather: a business man, two fashionable ladies, three college girls, a gray-haired colored woman, and a young spectacled brown man, and then, to her surprise, Mrs. Vanderpool and Zora.
Zora was scarcely seated when that strange sixth sense of hers told her that something had happened, and it needed but a side-glance from Mrs. Vanderpool to indicate what it was. She sat with folded hands and the old dreamy look in her eyes. In one moment she lived it all again—the red cabin, the moving oak, the sowing of the Fleece, and its fearful reaping. And now, when she turned her head, she would see the woman who was to marry Bles Alwyn. She had often dreamed of her, and had set a high ideal. She wanted her to be handsome, well dressed, earnest and good. She felt a sort of person proprietorship in her, and when at last the quickened pulse died to its regular healthy beat, she turned and looked and knew.
Caroline Wynn deemed it a part of the white world’s education to participate in meetings like this; doing so was not pleasant, but it appealed to her cynicism and mocking sense of pleasure. She always roused hostility as she entered: her gown was too handsome, her gloves too spotless, her air had hauteur enough to be almost impudent in the opinion of most white people. Then gradually her intelligence, her cool wit and self-possession, would conquer and she would go gracefully out leaving a rather bewildered audience behind. She sat today with her dark gold profile toward Zora, and the girl looked and was glad. She was such a woman she would have Bles marry. She was glad, and she choked back the sob that struggled and fought in her throat.
The meeting never got beyond a certain constraint. The Congressman made an excellent speech; there were various sets of figures read by the workers; and Miss Wynn added a touch of spice by several pertinent questions and comments. Then, as the meeting broke up and Mrs. Cresswell came forward to speak to Zora, Mrs. Vanderpool managed to find herself near Miss Wynn and to be introduced. They exchanged a few polite phrases, fencing delicately to test the other’s wrist and interest. They touched on the weather, and settlement work; but Miss Wynn did not propose to be stranded on the Negro problem.
“I suppose the next bit of excitement will be in the inauguration,” she said to Mrs. Vanderpool.
“I understand it will be unusually elaborate,” returned Mrs. Vanderpool, a little surprised at the turn. Then she added pleasantly: “I think I shall see it through, from speech to ball.”
“Yes, I do usually,” Miss Wynn asserted, adjusting her furs.
Mrs. Vanderpool was further surprised. Did colored people attend the ball?
“We sorely need a national ball-room,” she said. “Isn’t the census building wretched?”
“I do not know,” smiled Miss Wynn.
“Oh, I thought you said—”