“Spring Bank, Kentucky. Missus live in big house, ’most as big as this;” then anxious to have the ordeal passed, and fearful that she might not acquit herself satisfactorily to ’Lina, who, without seeming to notice her, had drawn near enough to hear, she added: “Miss ’Lina is an airey, a very large airey, and has a heap of—of—” Lulu hardly knew what, but finally in desperation added: “a heap of a’rs,” and then fled away ere another question could be asked her.
“What did she say she was?” Mrs. Richards asked, and the doctor replied:
“She said an airey. She meant an heiress.”
Money, or the reputation of possessing money, is an all-powerful charm, and in few places does it show its power more plainly than at Saratoga, where it was soon known that the lady from Spring Bank, with pearls in her hair, and pearl bracelets on her arms, was heiress to immense wealth in Kentucky, how immense nobody knew, and various were the estimates put upon it. Among Mrs. Bufort’s clique it was twenty thousand, farther away in another hall it was fifty, while Mrs. Richards, ere the supper hour arrived, had heard that it was at least a hundred thousand dollars. How or where she heard it she hardly knew, but she indorsed the statement as current, and at the tea table that night was exceedingly gracious to ’Lina and her mother, offering to divide a little private dish which she had ordered for herself, and into which poor Mrs. Worthington inadvertently dipped, never dreaming that it was not common property.
“It was not of the slightest consequence, Mrs. Richards was delighted to share it with her,” and that was the way the conversation commenced.
’Lina knew now that the proud man whose lip had curled so scornfully at dinner was Ellen’s Dr. Richards, and Dr. Richards knew that the girl who sat on the floor was ’Lina Worthington, from Spring Bank, where Alice Johnson was going.
It was very quiet at the Columbian, and the few gentlemen seated upon the piazza seemed to be of a different stamp from those at the more fashionable houses, as there were none of them smoking, nor did they stare impertinently at the gayly-dressed lady coming-up the steps, and inquiring of the clerk if Miss Alice Johnson were there.
Yes, she was, and her room was No. ——. Should he send the lady’s card? Miss Johnson had mostly kept her room.
’Lina had brought no card, but she gave her name, and passed on into the parlor, which afforded a striking contrast to the beehive downtown. In a corner two or three were sitting; another group occupied a window; while at the piano were two more, an old and a young lady; the latter of whom was seated upon the stool, and with her foot upon the soft pedal, was alternately striking a few sweet, musical chords, and talking to her companion, who seemed to be a little deaf.