It was towards the middle of the afternoon, as she was so reclining,—her Bible half open, her little transparent fingers lying listlessly between the leaves,—suddenly she heard her mother’s voice, in sharp tones, in the verandah.
“What now, you baggage!—what new piece of mischief! You’ve been picking the flowers, hey?” and Eva heard the sound of a smart slap.
“Law, Missis! they ’s for Miss Eva,” she heard a voice say, which she knew belonged to Topsy.
“Miss Eva! A pretty excuse!—you suppose she wants your flowers, you good-for-nothing nigger! Get along off with you!”
In a moment, Eva was off from her lounge, and in the verandah.
“O, don’t, mother! I should like the flowers; do give them to me; I want them!”
“Why, Eva, your room is full now.”
“I can’t have too many,” said Eva. “Topsy, do bring them here.”
Topsy, who had stood sullenly, holding down her head, now came up and offered her flowers. She did it with a look of hesitation and bashfulness, quite unlike the eldrich boldness and brightness which was usual with her.
“It’s a beautiful bouquet!” said Eva, looking at it.
It was rather a singular one,—a brilliant scarlet geranium, and one single white japonica, with its glossy leaves. It was tied up with an evident eye to the contrast of color, and the arrangement of every leaf had carefully been studied.
Topsy looked pleased, as Eva said,—“Topsy, you arrange flowers very prettily. Here,” she said, “is this vase I haven’t any flowers for. I wish you’d arrange something every day for it.”
“Well, that’s odd!” said Marie. “What in the world do you want that for?”
“Never mind, mamma; you’d as lief as not Topsy should do it,—had you not?”
“Of course, anything you please, dear! Topsy, you hear your young mistress;—see that you mind.”
Topsy made a short courtesy, and looked down; and, as she turned away, Eva saw a tear roll down her dark cheek.
“You see, mamma, I knew poor Topsy wanted to do something for me,” said Eva to her mother.
“O, nonsense! it’s only because she likes to do mischief. She knows she mustn’t pick flowers,—so she does it; that’s all there is to it. But, if you fancy to have her pluck them, so be it.”
“Mamma, I think Topsy is different from what she used to be; she’s trying to be a good girl.”
“She’ll have to try a good while before she gets to be good,” said Marie, with a careless laugh.
“Well, you know, mamma, poor Topsy! everything has always been against her.”
“Not since she’s been here, I’m sure. If she hasn’t been talked to, and preached to, and every earthly thing done that anybody could do;—and she’s just so ugly, and always will be; you can’t make anything of the creature!”
“But, mamma, it’s so different to be brought up as I’ve been, with so many friends, so many things to make me good and happy; and to be brought up as she’s been, all the time, till she came here!”