In the mean time, Katherine and Helen were visiting their guests, Harriet and Lucy Hazleby, whom, contrary to Elizabeth’s arrangement, Mrs. Woodbourne had lodged in the room where her own two little girls usually slept. Harriet was sitting at the table, at her ease, curling her long cork-screw ringlets, with Fido at her feet; Lucy was unpacking her wardrobe, Katherine lighting her, and admiring each article as it was taken out, in spite of her former disapprobation of Harriet’s style of dress. Helen stood lingering by the door, with her hand on the lock, still listening or talking, though not much interested, and having already three times wished her guests good night. Their conversation, though not worth recording for any sense or reflection shewn by any of the talkers, may perhaps display their characters, and add two or three facts to our story, which may be amusing to some few of our readers.
‘Oh! Lucy,’ cried Harriet, with a start, ’take care of my spotted muslin, it is caught on the lock of the box. You always are so careless.’
Katherine assisted Lucy to rescue the dress from the threatened danger, and Harriet continued, ’Well, and what do you wear to-morrow, Kate?’
‘White muslin, with pink ribbons,’ said Katherine.
’I have a green and orange striped mousseline de laine, Mamma gave only fifteen-pence a yard for it; I will shew it to you when Lucy comes to it, and you will see if it is not a bargain. And what bonnets?’
‘Straw, with ribbon like our sashes,’ said Katherine. ’Oh! we had so much trouble to get—’
‘My bonnet is green satin,’ said Harriet, ’but if I had been you, Kate, I would have had Leghorn. Wouldn’t you, Lucy?’
‘Five Leghorn bonnets would have cost too much,’ said Katherine, ’and Mamma wished us all to be alike.’
‘Ah! she would not let you be smarter than her own girls, eh, Kitty?’ said Harriet, laughing.
’I had been obliged to buy a very nice new straw bonnet at Dykelands,’ said Helen, ’and it, would have been a pity not to use that.’
’Well, I have no notion of a whole row of sisters being forced to dress alike,’ said Harriet; ‘Aunt Mildred might—’
Here Lucy stopped her sister’s speech, by bringing the gown forward to display it. When Harriet had sufficiently explained its excellence she began, ’So your cousin, young Merton, is coming, is he?’
‘Yes,’ said Katherine, ’we expected him last night, or in the course of this day, but he has not come yet.’
‘Well, what sort of a young fellow is he?’ said Harriet.
‘Very clever indeed,’ said Katherine.
‘Oh! then he will not be in my line at all,’ said Harriet; ’those clever boys are never worth speaking to, are they, Lucy?’
‘Do you like stupid ones better?’ said Helen.
‘Capital, isn’t it, Lucy?’ cried Harriet; ’I did not mean stupid; I only meant, clever boys, as they call them, have no fun, they only read, read for ever, like my brother Allan.’