Lady Isabel was sitting, the following morning, moody and out of sorts. Captain Levison, who had accompanied Mr. Carlyle in the most friendly manner possible to the park gate on his departure, and then stolen along the hedgewalk, had returned to Lady Isabel with the news of an “ardent” interview with Barbara, who had been watching for his going by at the gate of the grove. She sat, sullenly digesting the tidings, when a note was brought in. It proved to be an invitation to dinner for the following Tuesday, at a Mrs. Jefferson’s—for Mr. and Lady Isabel Carlyle and Miss Carlyle.
“Do you go?” asked Miss Carlyle.
“Yes,” replied Isabel. “Mr. Carlyle and I both want a change of some sort,” she added, in a mocking sort of spirit; “it may be well to have it, if only for an evening.”
In truth this unhappy jealousy, this distrust of her husband, appeared to have altered Lady Isabel’s very nature.
“And leave Captain Levison?” returned Miss Carlyle.
Lady Isabel went over to her desk, making no reply.
“What will you do with him, I ask?” persisted Miss Carlyle.
“He can remain here—he can dine by himself. Shall I accept the invitation for you?”
“No; I shall not go,” said Miss Carlyle.
“Then, in that case, there can be no difficulty in regard to Captain Levison,” coldly spoke Lady Isabel.
“I don’t want his company—I am not fond of it,” cried Miss Carlyle. “I would go to Mrs. Jefferson’s, but that I should want a new dress.”
“That’s easily had,” said Lady Isabel. “I shall want one myself.”
“You want a new dress!” uttered Miss Carlyle. “Why, you have a dozen!”
“I don’t know that I could count a dozen in all,” returned Lady Isabel, chafing at the remark, and the continual thwarting put upon her by Miss Carlyle, which had latterly seemed more than hard to endure. Petty evils are more difficult to support than great ones, take notice.
Lady Isabel concluded her note, folded, sealed it, and then rang the bell. As the man left the room with it, she desired that Wilson might be sent to her.
“Is it this morning, Wilson, that the dressmaker comes to try on Miss Isabel’s dress?” she inquired.
Wilson hesitated and stammered, and glanced from her mistress to Miss Carlyle. The latter looked up from her work.
“The dressmaker’s not coming,” spoke she, sharply. “I countermanded the order for the frock, for Isabel does not require it.”
“She does require it,” answered Lady Isabel, in perhaps the most displeased tone she had ever used to Miss Carlyle. “I am a competent judge of what is necessary for my children.”
“She no more requires a new frock than that table requires one, or that you require the one you are longing for,” stoically persisted Miss Carlyle. “She has got ever so many lying by, and her striped silk, turned, will make up as handsome as ever.”