“This is Miss Johnson,” and the waiter bowed toward the musician, who, quick as thought, seized upon the truth, and springing to Mrs. Worthington’s side, exclaimed:
“It’s Mrs. Worthington, I know, my mother’s early friend. Why did you sit here so long without speaking to me? I am Alice Johnson,” and overcome with the emotions awakened by the sight of her mother’s early friend, Alice hid her face with childlike confidence in Mrs. Worthington’s bosom, and sobbed for a moment bitterly.
Then growing calm, she lifted up her head and smiling through her tears said:
“Forgive me for this introduction. It is not often I give way, for I know and am sure it was best and right that mother should die. I am not rebellious now, but the sight of you brought it back so vividly. You’ll be my mother, won’t you?” and kissing the fat white hands involuntarily smoothing her bright hair, the impulsive girl nestled closer to Mrs. Worthington, looking up into her face with a confiding affection which won a place for her at once in Mrs. Worthington’s heart.
“My darling,” she said, winding her arm around her waist, “as far as I can I will be to you a mother, and ’Lina shall be your sister. This is ’Lina, dear,” and she turned to ’Lina, who, piqued at having been so long unnoticed, was frowning gloomily.
But ’Lina never met a glance purer or more free from guile than that which Alice gave her, and it disarmed her at once of all jealousy, making her return the orphan’s kisses with as much apparent cordiality as they had been given. During this scene the woman of the snowy hair and jet black eyes had stood silently by, regarding ’Lina with that same curious expression which had so annoyed the young lady, and from which she now intuitively shrank.
“My nurse, Densie Densmore,” Alice said at last, adding in an aside: “She is somewhat deaf and may not hear distinctly, unless you speak quite loud. Poor old Densie,” she continued, as the latter bowed to her new acquaintances, and then seated herself at a respectful distance. “She has been in our family for a long time.” Then changing the conversation, Alice made many inquiries concerning Kentucky, startling them with the announcement that she had that day received a letter from Colonel Tiffton, who she believed was a friend of theirs, urging her to spend a few weeks with him. “They heard from you what were mother’s plans for my future, and also that I was to meet you here. They must be very thoughtful people, for they seem to know that I cannot be very happy here.”
For a moment ’Lina and her mother looked aghast, and neither knew what to say. ’Lina, as usual, was the first to rally and calculate results.
They were very intimate at Colonel Tiffton’s. She and Ellen were fast friends. It was very pleasant there, more so than at Spring Bank; and all the objection she could see to Alice’s going was the fear lest she should become so much attached to Mosside, the colonel’s residence, as to be homesick at Spring Bank.