“Oh, bless your heart, I couldn’t wait, you know. So awfully tired I got of seeing new things and people. Dear me!”—and Cornelia threw herself back in her chair and uplifted her gloved hands in a little gesture of ineffability—“you would never imagine what a bore society is, after all.”
The professor, from his cloud, cast, unobserved, a glance of quiet scrutiny at his daughter. A certain jaunty embroidery of tone and manner struck him at once—she wasn’t quite the same simple little woman who had gone to New York two months ago. Well, well, they would wear off, perhaps, these little affectations; and then, too, it was not to be expected of her that she’d be a girl all her life. They all must needs pass through this stage to something better—or worse: all women of pith and passion like Cornelia.
“How did you leave Aunt Margaret?” inquired he.
“Oh, desolee, because I would go away,” replied Cornelia, with a very pretty laugh. “She vowed she could have spared me much better six weeks earlier; for, you see, after I’d learned the ropes, and how to take care of myself, I became, as she expressed it, ’such a dear, sweet, invaluable little attachee.’”
Sophie laughed at the comical air with which her sister repeated the sentence; yet, when her laugh was gone, there remained a slight shadow of disappointment. She, too, was unwillingly aware of some alteration.
“Is she such a grand lady as you expected?” asked she.
“Oh, my dear, grandeur’s a humbug, let me tell you. Gracious! by the time I’d been there a week, I could put it on as well as anybody. Aunt Margaret, she was no end of a swell, and all that; but, as for grandeur!—And she was such an odd old thing. Sometimes I seemed to like her, and sometimes she almost made me faint. Once in a while I thought she was trying to pump me about something; though, to be sure, there was nothing in me to be pumped. I told her about Abbie, for one thing, as much as I knew, and she seemed awfully interested—it was put on, I suppose, very likely; and yet she really did seem to mean it. I remember she couldn’t get over my forgetting Abbie’s last name: she even told me to mention it the first time I wrote to her. So queer of the old person.”
“No necessity for you to write, my dear,” observed the professor at this point. “I’ve been intending to do it myself for some time, and I’ll thank her for her hospitality, and so forth.”
Cornelia nodded, yawned, and then allowed her eyes to wander around the room.
“How nice and cozy and home-like every thing does look! And so small. Why, I should almost believe I was looking through the small end of the telescope, or something.”
“New York houses are so big, I suppose?” said Sophie.
“Gracious, dear!” exclaimed Cornelia, laughing again. “Why, the very cupboards are bigger than this whole house. It’ll take me ever so long to get over being afraid to knock my head against something when I stand up.”