“Why, that blue frock you wore last week.”
“Doesn’t set well round the neck. I couldn’t wear that.”
“But I shan’t care.”
“No, you won’t mind.”
“Well, then it’s all right. Because you only care how you look to me, do you, dear? I only dress for you, that’s certain.”
“Yes, but you see I couldn’t appear in it again very well.”
“Any strange gentleman you mid meet in your journey might notice the set of it, I suppose. Fancy, men in love don’t think so much about how they look to other women.” It is difficult to say whether a tone of playful banter or of gentle reproach prevailed in the speech.
“Well then, Dick,” she said, with good-humoured frankness, “I’ll own it. I shouldn’t like a stranger to see me dressed badly, even though I am in love. ’Tis our nature, I suppose.”
“You perfect woman!”
“Yes; if you lay the stress on ‘woman,’” she murmured, looking at a group of hollyhocks in flower, round which a crowd of butterflies had gathered like female idlers round a bonnet-shop.
“But about the dress. Why not wear the one you wore at our party?”
“That sets well, but a girl of the name of Bet Tallor, who lives near our house, has had one made almost like it (only in pattern, though of miserably cheap stuff), and I couldn’t wear it on that account. Dear me, I am afraid I can’t go now.”
“O yes, you must; I know you will!” said Dick, with dismay. “Why not wear what you’ve got on?”
“What! this old one! After all, I think that by wearing my gray one Saturday, I can make the blue one do for Sunday. Yes, I will. A hat or a bonnet, which shall it be? Which do I look best in?”
“Well, I think the bonnet is nicest, more quiet and matronly.”
“What’s the objection to the hat? Does it make me look old?”
“O no; the hat is well enough; but it makes you look rather too—you won’t mind me saying it, dear?”
“Not at all, for I shall wear the bonnet.”
“—Rather too coquettish and flirty for an engaged young woman.”
She reflected a minute. “Yes; yes. Still, after all, the hat would do best; hats are best, you see. Yes, I must wear the hat, dear Dicky, because I ought to wear a hat, you know.”
PART THE FOURTH—AUTUMN
Dick, dressed in his ‘second-best’ suit, burst into Fancy’s sitting-room with a glow of pleasure on his face.
It was two o’clock on Friday, the day before her contemplated visit to her father, and for some reason connected with cleaning the school the children had been given this Friday afternoon for pastime, in addition to the usual Saturday.
“Fancy! it happens just right that it is a leisure half day with you. Smart is lame in his near-foot-afore, and so, as I can’t do anything, I’ve made a holiday afternoon of it, and am come for you to go nutting with me!”