“No,” she said, “I don’t think I am cross-grained. By the way, cook, wouldn’t you like a black silk apron embroidered with violets to wear when you have done all your dirty work in the kitchen?”
“Cooks don’t wear black silk aprons embroidered with violets,” was the good woman’s answer.
“But this cook might, if a nice Irish girl, who has plenty of money, gave it to her. I have it in the bottom of my trunk. I asked Aunt Katie O’Flynn to send it to me for your mistress, but your mistress doesn’t care for it. I will give it to you, cook.—And, Maria, I’ve got a little toque for you. It is sky-blue with forget-me-nots. Have you a young man, Maria? Most girls have, haven’t they? Wouldn’t you like to walk out with him in a sky-blue toque trimmed with forget-me-nots?”
“It puts me all in a flutter to think of it, miss,” said Maria. “I am sure a sweeter young lady never came into this house.”
Kathleen chatted on to the retainers, as she called cook and Maria, until she had toasted enough bread. She then went into the dining-room. Alice was there, looking pale and headachy. The day was a very cold one, and the fire was by no means bright. Kathleen’s intensely rosy cheeks—for the fire had considerably scorched them—attracted Alice’s attention.
“I do wish you wouldn’t do servant’s work,” she said. “You annoy me terribly by the way you go on.”
“Oh, don’t be annoyed, darling,” said Kathleen softly. “Just regard me as a necessary evil. You see, Alice, however cross you are, I’d have the others all on my side. There’s your mother and David and Ben and the two servants. It isn’t worth while, Alice. If they all like me, why shouldn’t you?”
Alice made no reply. Kathleen stood still for a moment; then she glanced at the clock. It was a quarter past eight. She must be out of the house in a little over a quarter of an hour if she was to meet Ruth Craven at the White Cross Corner. She sat down to the table, helped herself to a piece of toast, and spread some butter on it.
“A cup of tea, please, Alice,” she said.—“Oh, what letters are those? Any for me? David, if you give me a letter I’ll—I’ll love you ever so much. Ah, two! Dave, you are a treasure; you are a darling; you are everything that is exquisite.”
It was Alice’s place to pour out the tea. She poured some out now, very unwillingly, for Kathleen, who drew the cup towards her, stirred it absently, and began to read her letters. Presently she uttered a little shriek.
“It is from Aunt Katie O’Flynn, and she is crossing the Channel, the darling colleenoge. She is coming to London, and she wants me to see her. Oh, golloptious! What fun I shall have! Boys, aren’t you delighted? It was Aunt Katie O’Flynn who sent me that wonderful trunk of clothes. Won’t she give us a time now? I declare I scarcely know whether I’m on my head or my heels.—Alice, you’d best make yourself agreeable and join in the fun, for I can assure you it’s theaters and concerts and teas and dinners and—oh! shopping, and every conceivable thing that can delight the heart of man or woman, boy or girl, that will be our portion while Aunt Katie—the duck, the darling, the treasure!—is in London. Let me see; what hotel is she going to? Oh, the Metropole. Where is the Metropole?”