“He knows so many people I don’t,” she thought, but she said nothing. No one noticed her silence—or Maurice’s, either! The doctor, and Morton, and the handsome bride, were listening to Edith, amused, apparently, at her crudity and ignorance.
“Oh yes,” Eleanor heard her say; “Eleanor’s voice is perfectly fine, father says. I’m not musical. Father says I don’t know the difference between ‘Yankee Doodle’ and ‘Old Hundred.’ Father say—” and so on.
“She’s tiresome!” Eleanor told herself. Later, as she sat at the little dinner table, all gay with flowers and the bride’s new candlesticks and glittering bonbon dishes ("Hetty’s showing off our loot,” the bridegroom said, proudly), Eleanor, looking on, and straining sometimes to be silly like the rest of them, said to herself, bleakly, that the doctor, who looked fifty, had been asked on her account. When he began to talk to her it was all she could do to say, “Really?” or, “Of course!” at the proper places; she was absorbed in watching Edith—the vivid face, the broad smile, the voice so full of preposterous certainties! “I look old,” she thought; and indeed she did—most unnecessarily! for she was only forty-four. Her throat suddenly ached with unshed tears of longing to be young. Yet if she had not been so bitter she would have seen that Maurice looked almost as old as she did! And no wonder. His consternation at the sight of Doctor Nelson had been panic! He could hardly eat. Naturally, the preoccupation of the two Curtises threw the burden of talk upon the others. Doctor Nelson gave himself up to his hostess, and Morton found Edith’s ardors, upon every subject under heaven, most diverting; he teased her and baited her, and her eyes grew more shining, and her cheeks pinker, and her gayety more contagious with every repartee she flung back at him. Mrs. Morton struggled heroically with Maurice’s heaviness, but she told her husband afterward, that Mr. Curtis was nearly as dull as his wife! “I couldn’t make him talk!” she said. After a while she gave up trying to make him talk, and listened to Edith’s story of what happened when she was a little girl and came to Mercer with her father:
“A terrible shipwreck!” Edith said; “I remember it because of Maurice’s gallantry in giving the flopping girl his coat—he was a perfect Sir Walter Raleigh! Remember, Maurice?”
Maurice said, briefly, that he “remembered”; “if she says Dale, I’m dished,” he thought; aloud, he said that the river was growing impossible for boating; which caused them to drop the subject of the flopping girl, and talk about Mercer’s increasing dinginess, at which Edith said, eagerly:
“You ought to see our mountains—no smoke there!”
Then, of course, came tales of camping, and, most animatedly, the story of Eleanor’s wonderful rescue of Maurice.
“She pulled that great big Maurice all the way down to Doctor Bennett’s! And we were all so proud of her!”