“What is that, honey?” The two girls had sat down on Ina’s window-seat, and were nestling close together, with their arms around each other’s waist, and the two streams of dark hair intermingling.
“I am heartily tired,” said Ina, in a tone of impatient scorn, “of this everlasting annoyance to which we are subjected from the people who want us to pay them money for the necessaries of life. We must have a certain amount of things in order to live at all, and if people must have the money for them, I want them to have it, and not have to endure such continual persecution.”
“Ina,” said Charlotte, in a piteous, low voice, “do you think papa is very poor?”
“Yes, honey, I am afraid he is very poor.”
Charlotte began to weep softly against her sister’s shoulder.
“Don’t cry, honey,” soothed Ina. “You can come and stay with me a great deal, you know.”
“Ina Carroll, do you think I would leave papa?” demanded Charlotte, suddenly erect. “Do you think—I would? You can, if you want to, but I will not.”
“It costs something to support us, dear,” said Ina. “Don’t be angry, precious.”
“I will never have another new dress in all my life,” said Charlotte. “I won’t eat anything. I tell you I never will leave papa, Ina Carroll.”
It was about a week later when Anderson, going into the drug store one evening, found young Eastman in the line in front of the soda-fountain. A girl in white was with him, and Anderson thought at first glance that she was Charlotte Carroll, as a matter of course—he had so accustomed himself to think of the two in union by this time. Then he looked again and saw that the girl was much larger and fair-haired, and recognized her as Bessy Van Dorn, William Van Dorn’s daughter. The girl’s semi-German parentage showed in her complexion and high-bosomed, matronly figure, although she was so young. She had a large but charming face, full of the sweetest placidity; her eyes, as blue as the sky, looked out upon the world with amiable assent to all its conditions. It required no acuteness to predict this as an ideal spouse for a man of a nervous and irritable temperament; that there was in her nature that which could supply cushioned fulnesses to all the exactions of his. She sat on a high stool and sipped her ice-cream soda with simple absorption in the pleasant sensation. She paid no attention whatever to her escort beside her, who took his soda with his eyes fixed on her. Her chin overlapping in pink curves like a rose, was sunken in the lace at her neck as she sipped. She did not sit straight, but rested in her corsets with an awkward lassitude of enjoyment. It was a very warm night, but she paid no attention to that. She was without a hat, and the beads of perspiration stood all over her pink forehead, and her thin white muslin clung to her plump neck and arms. There was something almost indecent