“I guess you don’t want to keep Clementina from Mr. Landa much longa. He’s settin’ out there on the front piazza waitin’ for her.”
“Well, the’a!” cried Mrs. Atwell. “Ain’t that just like me? Why didn’t you tell me sooner, Alonzo? Don’t you forgit what I said, Clem!”
Mrs. Lander had taken twice of a specific for what she called her nerve-fag before her husband came with Clementina, and had rehearsed aloud many of the things she meant to say to the girl. In spite of her preparation, they were all driven out of her head when Clementina actually appeared, and gave her a bow like a young birch’s obeisance in the wind.
“Take a chaia,” said Lander, pushing her one, and the girl tilted over toward him, before she sank into it. He went out of the room, and left Mrs. Lander to deal with the problem alone. She apologized for being in bed, but Clementina said so sweetly, “Mr. Landa told me you were not feeling very well, ’m,” that she began to be proud of her ailments, and bragged of them at length, and of the different doctors who had treated her for them. While she talked she missed one thing or another, and Clementina seemed to divine what it was she wanted, and got it for her, with a gentle deference which made the elder feel her age cushioned by the girl’s youth. When she grew a little heated from the interest she took in her personal annals, and cast off one of the folds of her bed clothing, Clementina got her a fan, and asked her if she should put up one of the windows a little.
“How you do think of things!” said Mrs. Lander. “I guess I will let you. I presume you get used to thinkin’ of othas in a lahge family like youas. I don’t suppose they could get along without you very well,” she suggested.
“I’ve neva been away except last summa, for a little while.”
“And where was you then?”
“I was helping Mrs. Atwell.”
“Did you like it?”
“I don’t know,” said Clementina. “It’s pleasant to be whe’e things ah’ going on.”
“Yes—for young folks,” said Mrs. Lander, whom the going on of things had long ceased to bring pleasure.
“It’s real nice at home, too,” said Clementina. “We have very good times—evenings in the winta; in the summer it’s very nice in the woods, around there. It’s safe for the children, and they enjoy it, and fatha likes to have them. Motha don’t ca’e so much about it. I guess she’d ratha have the house fixed up more, and the place. Fatha’s going to do it pretty soon. He thinks the’e’s time enough.”
“That’s the way with men,” said Mrs. Lander. “They always think the’s time enough; but I like to have things over and done with. What chuhch do you ’tend?”
“Well, there isn’t any but the Episcopal,” Clementina answered. “I go to that, and some of the children go to the Sunday School. I don’t believe fatha ca’es very much for going to chuhch, but he likes Mr. Richling; he’s the recta. They take walks in the woods; and they go up the mountains togetha.”