The flavor of sarcasm running through this affected sadness vexed Mr. White, and he answered, sharply,
“I think you have little reason to grumble over a tour which has so distinctly added to your reputation.”
“I was not aware,” said she, with a certain careless sauciness of manner, “that an actress was allowed to have a reputation; at least, there are always plenty of people anxious enough to take it away.”
“Gertrude,” said he, sternly, “what do you mean by this constant carping? Do you wish to cease to be an actress? Or what in all the world do you want?”
“To cease to be an actress?” she said, with a mild wonder, and with the sweetest of smiles, as she prepared to get out of the open door of the cab. “Why, don’t you know; pappy, that a leopard cannot change his spots, or an Etheopian his skin? Take care of the step, pappy! That’s right. Come here, Marie, and give the cabman a hand with this portmanteau.”
Miss White was not grumbling at all—but, on the contrary, was quite pleasant and cheerful—when she entered the small house and found herself once more at home.
“Oh, Carry,” she said, when her sister followed her into her room; “you don’t know what it is to get back home, after having been bandied from one hotel to another hotel, and from one lodging-house to another lodging-house, for goodness knows how long.”
“Oh, indeed!” said Miss Carry, with such marked coldness that her sister turned to her.
“What is the matter with you?”
“What is the matter with you?” the younger sister retorted, with sudden fire. “Do you know that your letters to me have been quite disgraceful?”
“You are crazed, child—you wrote something about it the other day—I could not make out what you meant,” said Miss White; and she went to the glass to see that the beautiful brown hair had not been too much disarranged by the removal of her bonnet.
“It is you are crazed, Gertrude White,” said Carry, who had apparently picked up from some melodrama the notion that it was rather effective to address a person by her full name. “I am really ashamed of you—that you should have let yourself be bewitched by a parcel of beasts’ skins. I declare that your ravings about the Highlands, and fairies, and trash of that sort, have been only fit for a penny journal—”
Miss White turned and stared—as well she might. This indignant person of fourteen had flashing eyes and a visage of wrath. The pale, calm, elder sister only remarked, in that deep-toned and gentle voice of hers,
“Your language is pretty considerably strong, Carry. I don’t know what has aroused such a passion in you. Because I wrote to you about the Highlands? Because I sent you that collection of legends? Because it seemed to me, when I was in a wretched hotel in some dirty town, I would rather be away yachting or driving with some one of the various parties of people whom I know, and who had mostly gone to Scotland this year? If you are jealous of the Highlands, Carry, I will undertake to root out the name of every mountain and lake that has got hold of my affections.”