Pretty Mrs. Graham laughed again, and looked up at the six-feet-two of sturdy manhood standing on the hearth-rug, gazing at her with eyes which twinkled merrily under the fiercely frowning brows. “You are a very disorderly-sergeant, dear!” she said. “Just look at your hair! It looks as if all the four winds had been blowing through it—”
“Instead of all the ten fingers going through it,” interrupted her husband. “Never mind my hair; that is not the point. What—do—you—propose—to—do—with—your daughter—Hildegarde, or Hildegardis, as it should properly be written?”
“Well, dear George,” said the commander-in-chief (she was a very small woman and a very pretty one, though she had a daughter “older than herself,” as her husband said; and she wore a soft lilac gown, and had soft, wavy brown hair, and was altogether very pleasant to look at)—“well, dear George, the truth is, I have a little plan, which I should like very much to carry out, if you fully approve of it.”
“Ha!” said Mr. Graham, tossing his “tempestuous locks” again, “ho! I thought as much. If I approve, eh, little madam? Better say, whether I approve or not.”
So saying, the good-natured giant sat himself down again, and listened while his wife unfolded her plan; and what the plan was, we shall see by and by. Meanwhile let us take a peep at Hilda, or Hildegardis, as she sits in her own room, all unconscious of the plot which is hatching in the parlor below. She is a tall girl of fifteen. Probably she has attained her full height, for she looks as if she had been growing too fast; her form is slender, her face pale, with a weary look in the large gray eyes. It is a delicate, high-bred face, with a pretty nose, slightly “tip-tilted,” and a beautiful mouth; but it is half-spoiled by the expression, which is discontented, if not actually peevish. If we lifted the light curling locks of fair hair which lie on her forehead, we should see a very decided frown on a broad white space which ought to be absolutely smooth. Why should a girl of fifteen frown, especially a girl so “exceptionally fortunate” as all her friends considered Hilda Graham? Certainly her surroundings at this moment are pretty enough to satisfy any girl. The room is not large, but it has a sunny bay-window which seems to increase its size twofold. In re-furnishing it a year before, her father had in mind Hilda’s favorite flower, the forget-me-not, and the room is simply a bower of forget-me-nots. Scattered over the dull olive ground of the carpet, clustering and nodding from the wall-paper, peeping from the folds of the curtains, the forget-me-nots are everywhere. Even the creamy surface of the toilet-jug and bowl, even the ivory backs of the brushes that lie on the blue-covered toilet table, bear each its cluster of pale-blue blossoms; while the low easy-chair in which the girl is reclining, and the pretty sofa with its plump cushions inviting to repose, repeat the same tale. The tale is again repeated, though in a different way, by a scroll running round the top of the wall, on which in letters of blue and gold is written at intervals: “Ne m’oubliez pas!” “Vergiss mein nicht!” “Non ti scordar!” and the same sentiment is repeated in Spanish, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, of all which tongues the fond father possessed knowledge.