“Go right up stairs and lay off your things,” urged their hostess hospitably. “Ladies to the right; gents to the left. I’m so glad you came, Fanny. I’d begun to wonder—”
The girl’s lip curled haughtily. The slight emphasis on the personal pronoun and the fervid squeeze of Mrs. Black’s fat hand hurt her sore heart. But she smiled brilliantly.
“Thank you, Mrs. Black, I wouldn’t have missed it for worlds!” she said coldly.
“Does my hair look decent?” asked Ellen, as the two girls peered into the mirror together. “The dew does take the curl out so. It must be lovely to have naturally curly hair, like yours, Fanny. It looks all the prettier for being damp and ruffled up.”
Fanny was pulling out the fluffy masses of curling brown hair about her forehead.
“Your hair looks all right, Ellen,” she said absent-mindedly.
She was wondering if Wesley Elliot would speak to her.
“I saw that Orr girl,” whispered Ellen; “she’s got on a white dress, all lace, and a black sash. She does look pretty, Fanny; we’ll have to acknowledge it.”
“Ye-es,” murmured Fanny who was drawing on a pair of fresh white gloves.
“You aren’t going to wear those gloves down stairs, are you, Fan? I haven’t got any.”
“My hands are all stained up with currant jelly,” explained Fanny hurriedly. “Your hands are real pretty, Ellen.”
Ellen glanced down at her capable, brown hands, with their blunt finger-tips.
“Did you ever notice her hands, Fanny?”
Fanny shook her head.
“Her nails are cut kind of pointed, and all shined up. And her hands are so little and soft and white. I suppose a man—do you think Jim would notice that sort of thing, Fanny?”
Fanny snapped the fastenings of her gloves.
“Let’s go down stairs,” she suggested. “They’ll be wondering what’s become of us.”
Ellen Dix caught at her friend’s arm, her pretty face, with its full pouting lips and brilliant dark eyes upturned.
“Do you suppose— You don’t think Jim is mad at me for what I said about her, do you?”
“I don’t remember you said anything to make anybody mad. Come, let’s go down, Ellen.”
“But, Fan, I was wondering if that girl— Do you know I—I kind of wish she hadn’t come to Brookville. Everything seems—different, already. Don’t you think so, Fanny?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Why should you think about it? She’s here and there’s no use. I’m going down, Ellen.”
Fanny moved toward the stairs, her fresh young beauty heightened by an air of dignified reserve which Ellen Dix had failed to penetrate.
Wesley Elliot, who had by now reached the wide opening into the hall in the course of his progress among the guests, glanced up as Fanny Dodge swept the last step of the stair with her unfashionable white gown.