Now Susy had really no intention of making a secret with regard to the blouse. She meant to tell her mother frankly that it was a present from Miss Kathleen O’Hara, but Mrs. Hopkins’s manner and words put the little girl into a passion, and she was determined now not to say a word.
“It is my secret,” she said. “I won’t tell you how I got it, nor who gave it to me. And I won’t take it off.”
Just then there were voices, and Aunt Church called out:
“Where are you, Mary Hopkins? Why don’t you show yourself? Fussing over fine living, I suppose. Oh, there is your daughter. My word! Fine feathers make fine birds.—Come over and speak to me, my dear, and help me out of this chair. Now then, give me your hand. Be quick!”
Susy put out her hand and helped Mrs. Church as well as she could out of the bath-chair. Tom winked when he saw the splendid apparition; then he stuck his tongue into his cheek, and coming close to his sister, he whispered:
“Wherever did you get that toggery?”
“That’s nothing to you,” said Susy.
Mrs. Church glanced over her shoulder and looked solemnly at Susy.
“It’s my opinion,” she said, speaking in a slow, emphatic, rather awful voice, “that you are a very, very bad little girl. You will come to no good. Mark my words. I prophesy a bad end for you, and trouble for your unfortunate mother. You will remember my words when the prophecy comes true. Help me now into the parlor. I cannot stay long, but I will have a morsel of your grand dinner before I leave.”
AUNT CHURCH AT DINNER AND THE CONSEQUENCES THEREOF.
When Mrs. Church was comfortably established in the easy-chair in the little parlor, with her feet on the fender, and a nice view of the street from the window near by—when her best widow’s-cap was perched upon her head, and her little black mitts were drawn over her delicate, small hands—she looked around her and gave a brief sigh of satisfaction.
“Upon my word,” she said, “I’m not at all sorry I came. There’s nothing like seeing things for yourself. Most elegant damask on the table. Mary Hopkins, where did you get that damask?”
Mrs. Hopkins, whose cheeks were flushed, and who looked considerably worried, replied that it had been left to her by her own mother.
“My mother was a housekeeper in a nobleman’s family,” she said, “and she was given that cloth and two or three more like it. I have ’em in the linen-chest upstairs, and I wouldn’t part with ’em to anybody.”
“I admire your pride,” said Mrs. Church. “Next door to pride comes honesty. I am sometimes inclined to believe that it comes afore pride; but we needn’t dispute that delicate point at present. And the silver forks. My word!—Tom, my boy, pass me a fork to examine.”
Tom took up a fork and handed it to Mrs. Church.