Old Densie had for the last few days been much in ’Lina’s mind. She had disliked her at Saratoga, and somehow it made her feel uncomfortable every time she thought of finding her at Spring Bank. Densie had never forgotten ’Lina, and many a time had she recalled the peculiar expression of her black eyes, shuddering as she remembered how much they were like another pair of eyes whose gleams of passion had once thrilled her with terror.
“Upon my word,” ’Lina began, as she entered the pleasant parlor, “this is better than I expected. Somebody has been very kind for my sake. Miss Johnson, I’m sure it’s you I have to thank,” and with a little flash of gratitude she turned to Alice, who replied in a low tone:
“Thank your brother. He made a sacrifice for the sake of surprising you.”
Whether it was with a desire to appear amiable in Alice’s eyes, or because she really was touched with Hugh’s generosity, ’Lina involuntarily threw her arm around his neck, and gave to him a kiss which he remembered for many, many years. At the nicely prepared dinner served soon after her arrival, a cloud lowered on ’Lina’s brow, induced by the fact that Densie Densmore was permitted a seat at the table, a proceeding sadly at variance with ’Lina’s lately acquired ideas of aristocracy.
Accordingly that very day she sought an opportunity to speak with her mother when she knew that Densie was in an adjoining room.
“Mother,” she began, “why do you suffer that woman to come to the table? Is it a whim of Alice’s, or what?”
“Oh, you allude to Mrs. Densmore. I couldn’t at first imagine whom you meant,” Mrs. Worthington replied, going on to say how foolish it was for ’Lina to assume such airs, that Densie was as good as anybody, or at all events was a quiet, well-behaved woman, worthy of respect, and that Hugh would as soon stay away himself as banish her from the table because she had once been a servant.
“Yes, but consider Dr. Richards when he comes. What must he think of us? At the North they recognize white niggers as well as black. I tell you I won’t have it, and unless you speak to her, I shall.”
’Lina ate her supper exultingly, free from Densie’s presence, caring little for the lonely old woman whose lip quivered and whose tears started every time that she remembered the slighting words accidentally overheard.
Swiftly the days went by, bringing callers to see ’Lina; Ellen Tiffton, who received back her jewelry, never guessing that the bracelet she clasped upon her arm was not the same lent so many months ago. Ellen was to be bridesmaid, inasmuch as Alice preferred to be more at liberty, and see that matters went on properly. This brought Ellen often to Spring Bank, and as ’Lina was much with her, Alice was left more time to think. Adah’s continued silence with regard to Dr. Richards had troubled her at first, but now she felt relieved. ’Lina had stated distinctly that ere coming to Kentucky, he was going to Terrace Hill, and Adah’s last letter had said the same. She would see him then, and if—if he were George—alas! for the unsuspecting girl who fluttered gayly in the midst of her bridal finery, and wished the time would come when she could “escape from that hole, and go back to dear, delightful Fifth Avenue Hotel.”