“Miss Somers,” replied Susan.
“Betty, she saw Miss Somers! I must hear about it. Susan, stop gathering those things, and have a chat with us.”
“I can’t indeed, Miss Barbara, for my mother wants her soup, and I am in a hurry.” And Susan ran home.
“Would you believe it, her head is full of soup now?” said Bab to her maid. “She seems to think nothing of her visit to the Abbey. My papa may well call her Simple Susan. But simple or not I mean to get what I want out of her. Maybe when she has settled the grand matter of the soup, she’ll be able to speak. I’ll step in and ask to see her mother. That will put her in a good humor in a trice.”
Barbara went to the cottage and found Susan standing over a pot on the fire. “Is the soup ready?” she asked. “I’ll wait till you take it in to your mother and go in with you. I want to ask her how she is, myself.”
“Sit down then, miss,” said Susan, “I have put in the parsley, so the soup is nearly ready.”
Barbara sat down and plied Susan with questions. How was Miss Somers dressed? Were the sisters dressed alike? What were they having for dinner at the Abbey? Above all, what could Miss Somers mean by saying she would call at Farmer Price’s cottage at six o’clock that evening? “What do you think she could mean?” asked Barbara.
“What she said,” replied Susan, “that she would be here at six o’clock.”
“That’s plain enough,” said Barbara, “but what else do you think she meant? People, you know, often mean more or less than they say.”
“They do,” answered Susan, with a smile that made Barbara guess of whom she was thinking.
But Bab did not mean Susan to know that she guessed, so she said, “I suppose you think that Miss Somers meant more than she said?”
“I was not thinking of Miss Somers when I said what I did,” replied Susan.
There was a pause, and then Bab remarked, “How nice the soup looks!”
Susan had poured it into a basin, and as she dropped over it the bright yellow marigold, it looked very tempting. She tasted it and added a little salt; tasted it again, and added a little more. Then she thought it was just as her mother liked it.
“Oh, I must taste it!” said Bab, seizing the basin greedily.
“Won’t you take a spoon?” said Susan, trembling as she saw the big mouthfuls Barbara took with a loud noise.
“Take a spoon, indeed!” exclaimed Bab. “How dare you, how dare you speak so to me? ‘Take a spoon, pig!’ was what you meant to say! I’ll never enter your cottage again!” And she flounced out of the house.
Susan stood still, amazed at the beginning of Barbara’s speech, but her last words explained the sudden outburst.