From behind the curtains of a second-story window of the mansion, a young miss had watched the arrival and departure of the carriages. As the second one drove away she exclaimed, “Oh! what a lark! Those last folks came in Aunt Ella’s carriage, too. I bet Quincy and auntie have put up some sort of a game on pa and ma. I won’t go down stairs till Quincy comes, for I want to give my new sister a hug and a squeeze and a kiss, and I sha’n’t dare to do it till Quincy has introduced her to pa and ma.”
At that moment the young man, faultlessly attired, came down stairs from the third story, and Maude sprang out from her doorway on the second floor and said in a whisper, “How long have you been home, Quincy?”
“I came in about half-past eleven,” he replied.
“Oh, you rogue,” cried Maude. “I have been watching out the window for an hour. I see it all now, you don’t mean to give pa and ma a chance to say boo until after dinner. Let me go down first, Quincy.”
Maude went down stairs and was duly presented to the assembled guests as the youngest scion of the house of Sawyer.
At exactly five minutes of one Quincy entered the parlor through the rear door. Aunt Ella and Alice were seated side by side between the two front windows. As Quincy advanced he exchanged the compliments of the season with the guests. Finally the Hon. Nathaniel and his son Quincy stood facing Aunt Ella and Alice.
“Quincy,” said his father, in slow, measured tones, “it gives me great pleasure to present you to the, celebrated young author, Bruce Douglas.”
Quincy bent low, and Alice inclined her head in acknowledgment. He reached forward, clasped her hand in his and took his place by her side. “Father, mother, and sisters,” he cried, and there was a proud tone in his clear, ringing voice, “there is still another presentation to be made—that Christmas gift of which I spoke this morning at breakfast. You see I hold this lady by the hand, which proves that we are friends and not strangers. To her friends in the town of Eastborough, where she was born, the daughter of an honest farmer, who made a frugal living and no more, she was known by the name of Mary Alice Pettengill. To the story and book-reading public of the United States, she is known as Bruce Douglas, but to me she is known by the sacred name of wife. I present to you as a Christmas gift, a daughter and a sister.”
There was a moment of suspense, and all eyes were fixed upon the parents so dramatically apprised of their son’s marriage. The Hon. Nathaniel cleared his throat, and advancing slowly, took Alice’s hand in his and said, “It gives me great pleasure to welcome as a daughter one so highly favored by nature with intellectual powers and such marked endowments for a famous literary career. I am confident that the reputation of our family will gain rather than lose by such an alliance.”
“He thinks her books are going to sell,” remarked Leopold to his wife.