Mrs. Lander turned her head on her pillow, and so confronted him. “Albe’t, what made you want me to see that child?”
Lander must have perceived that his wife meant business, and he came to it at once. “I thought you might take a fancy to her, and get her to come and live with us.”
“We’re both of us gettin’ pretty well on, and you’d ought to have somebody to look after you if—I’m not around. You want somebody that can do for you; and keep you company, and read to you, and talk to you—well, moa like a daughta than a suvvant—somebody that you’d get attached to, maybe—”
“And don’t you see,” Mrs. Lander broke out severely upon him, “what a ca’e that would be? Why, it’s got so already that I can’t help thinkin’ about her the whole while, and if I got attached to her I’d have her on my mind day and night, and the moa she done for me the more I should be tewin’ around to do for her. I shouldn’t have any peace of my life any moa. Can’t you see that?”
“I guess if you see it, I don’t need to,” said Lander.
“Well, then, I want you shouldn’t eva mention her to me again. I’ve had the greatest escape! But I’ve got her off home, and I’ve give her money enough! had a time with her about it—so that they won’t feel as if we’d made ’em trouble for nothing, and now I neva want to hear of her again. I don’t want we should stay here a great while longer; I shall be frettin’ if I’m in reach of her, and I shan’t get any good of the ai’a. Will you promise?”
“Well, then!” Mrs. Lander turned her face upon the pillow again in the dramatization of her exhaustion; but she was not so far gone that she was insensible to the possible interest that a light rap at the door suggested. She once more twisted her head in that direction and called, “Come in!”
The door opened and Clementina came in. She advanced to the bedside smiling joyously, and put the money Mrs. Lander had given her down upon the counterpane.
“Why, you haven’t been home, child?”
“No’m,” said Clementina, breathlessly. “But I couldn’t take it. I knew they wouldn’t want me to, and I thought you’d like it better if I just brought it back myself. Good-mo’ning.” She slipped out of the door. Mrs. Lander swept the bank-notes from the coverlet and pulled it over her head, and sent from beneath it a stifled wail. “Now we got to go! And it’s all youa fault, Albe’t.”
Lander took the money from the floor, and smoothed each bill out, and then laid them in a neat pile on the corner of the bureau. He sighed profoundly but left the room without an effort to justify himself.
The Landers had been gone a week before Clementina’s mother decided that she could spare her to Mrs. Atwell for a while. It was established that she was not to serve either in the dining-room or the carving room; she was not to wash dishes or to do any part of the chamber work, but to carry messages and orders for the landlady, and to save her steps, when she wished to see the head-waiter, or the head-cook; or to make an excuse or a promise to some of the lady-boarders; or to send word to Mr. Atwell about the buying, or to communicate with the clerk about rooms taken or left.