There was a comical gleam in Jim’s eye now, for Adah was not the first applicant he had taken up to Terrace Hill. He never suspected that this was Adah’s business, and he answered frankly:
“No, that’s about played out. Madam turned the last one out doors.”
“Turned her out doors?” and Adah’s face was as white as the snow rifts they were passing.
The driver felt that he had gossiped too much, and relapsed into silence, while Adah, in a paroxysm of terror, sat with clasped hands and closed eyes. Leaning forward, at last she said, huskily:
“Driver, driver, do you think she’ll turn me off, too?”
“Turn you off!” and in his surprise at the sudden suspicion which for the first time darted across his mind, Jim brought his horses to a full stop, while he held a parley with the pale, frightened creature, asking so eagerly if Mrs. Richards would turn her off. “Why should she? You ain’t going there for that, be you?”
“Not to be turned out of doors, no,” Adah answered; “but I—I—I want that place so much. I read Miss Anna’s advertisement; but please turn back, or let me get out and walk. I can’t go there now. Is Miss Anna like the rest?”
“Miss Anna’s an angel,” he answered. “If you get her ear, you’re all right; the plague is to get it with them two she-cats ready to tear your eyes out. If I’se you, I’d ask to see her. I wouldn’t tell my arrent either, till I did. She’s sick upstairs; but I’ll see if Pamely can’t manage it. That’s my woman—Pamely; been mine for four years, and we’ve had two pair of twins, all dead; so I feel tender toward the little ones,” and Jim glanced kindly at Willie, who had succeeded in making Adah notice the house standing out so prominently against the winter sky, and looking to the poor woman-girl more like a prison than a home.
It might be pleasant there in the summer, Adah thought; but now, with snow on the roof, snow on the walk, snow on the trees, snow everywhere, it presented a cheerless aspect. Only one part of it seemed inviting—the two crimson-curtained windows opening upon a veranda, from which a flight of steps led down into what must be a flower garden.
“Miss Anna’s room,” the driver said, pointing toward it; and Adah looked wistfully out, vainly hoping for a glimpse of the sweet face she had in her mind as Anna’s.
But only Asenath’s grim, angular visage was seen, as it looked from Anna’s window, wondering whom Jim could be bringing home.
“It’s a handsome trunk—covered, too. Can it be Lottie?” and mentally hoping it was not, she busied herself again with bathing poor Anna’s head, which was aching sadly to-day, owing to the excitement of her brother’s visit and the harsh words which passed between him and his sisters, he telling them, jokingly at first, that he was tired of getting married, and half resolved to give it up; while they, in return, had abused him for fickleness, taunted him with their poverty, and sharply reproached him for his unwillingness to lighten their burden, by taking a rich wife when he could get one.