“Papa!” again exclaimed the young lady; but this time in a tone which the tumult of delight, anticipation, and a fear lest there should be a mistake somewhere, softened almost into a whisper. She had risen from the arm of the chair to her feet, and stood with her hands clasped together beneath her chin.
The professor laughed a short and rather unnatural laugh. “I thought you wouldn’t be obstinate about it, when you came to think it over,” said he, dryly. He folded up his spectacles and put them back in his waistcoat pocket with, unusual elaboration of manner. “So you would really like to have a change, would you? Well, I trust you will not be disappointed in your expectations of society and watering-places. At all events, you may learn to appreciate home more!” Here the professor laughed again, as if he considered it a joke.
Cornelia was too much entranced by the new idea to have any notion of what he was talking about; she was already hundreds of miles away, living in stately houses, driving in magnificent carriages, sweeping in gorgeous silks and laces through gilded and illuminated ballrooms, and listening to courtly compliments from handsome and immaculate gentlemen. But when, presently, her scattered faculties began to return to a more normal state, an unquenchable curiosity to know how the miracle was to be worked, seized upon her. She dropped on her knees beside her father’s chair, took his hand in both of hers, and looked up in his face.
“But how is it to be, papa, dear? I mean, whom am I to go with? and when am I to go?—dear me, I haven’t a thing to wear! Shall I have time to get any thing ready? Isn’t Sophie invited too? How strange it all seems! I can hardly realize it, somehow. From whom is the letter?”
“Can you remember when you were about nine years old?” inquired the professor.
“I don’t know, I am sure,” replied Cornelia, in some surprise at the irrelevancy of the question. “Nothing particular. Oh! I know! we were in New York!” said she, beginning to see some connection, and breaking into a smile.
“Do you remember seeing a lady there,” continued the professor, talking and looking straight at nothing, “who made a great deal of you and Sophie, and asked you to call her Aunt Margaret?”
“Oh—I believe—I do—,” said Cornelia, slowly; “I think I didn’t like her much, because she was deaf or something, and talked in such a high voice. She wasn’t really our aunt, was she? Did she write the letter?”
“Yes, she did, my dear, and invites you and Sophie to spend the summer with her. You don’t dislike her so much as to refuse, I suppose, do you?”
“O papa!” exclaimed his daughter, deprecatingly; for the old gentleman had spoken rather in a tone of reproof. “I’m sure she’s as kind and good as she can be; I was only telling what I especially remembered about her, you know. How did she come to think of us after so long?”