On her part, Clementina began by looking after Mrs. Lander’s comforts, large and little, like a daughter, to her own conception and to that of Mrs. Lander, but to other eyes, like a servant. Mrs. Lander shyly shrank from acquaintance among the other ladies, and in the absence of this, she could not introduce Clementina, who went down to an early breakfast alone, and sat apart with her at lunch and dinner, ministering to her in public as she did in private. She ran back to their rooms to fetch her shawl, or her handkerchief, or whichever drops or powders she happened to be taking with her meals, and adjusted with closer care the hassock which the head waiter had officially placed at her feet. They seldom sat in the parlor where the ladies met, after dinner; they talked only to each other; and there, as elsewhere, the girl kept her filial care of the old woman. The question of her relation to Mrs. Lander became so pressing among several of the guests that, after Clementina had watched over the banisters, with throbbing heart and feet, a little dance one night which the other girls had got up among themselves, and had fled back to her room at the approach of one of the kindlier and bolder of them, the landlord felt forced to learn from Mrs. Lander how Miss Claxon was to be regarded. He managed delicately, by saying he would give the Sunday paper she had ordered to her nurse, “Or, I beg your pardon,” he added, as if he had made a mistake. “Why, she a’n’t my nuhse,” Mrs. Lander explained, simply, neither annoyed nor amused; “she’s just a young lady that’s visiting me, as you may say,” and this put an end to the misgiving among the ladies. But it suggested something to Mrs. Lander, and a few days afterwards, when they came out from Boston where they had been shopping, and she had been lavishing a bewildering waste of gloves, hats, shoes, capes and gowns upon Clementina, she said, “I’ll tell you what. We’ve got to have a maid.”
“A maid?” cried the girl.
“It isn’t me, or my things I want her for,” said Mrs. Lander. “It’s you and these dresses of youas. I presume you could look afta them, come to give youa mind to it; but I don’t want to have you tied up to a lot of clothes; and I presume we should find her a comfo’t in moa ways than one, both of us. I don’t know what we shall want her to do, exactly; but I guess she will, if she undastands her business, and I want you should go in with me, to-morror, and find one. I’ll speak to some of the ladies, and find out whe’s the best place to go, and we’ll get the best there is.”
A lady whom Mrs. Lander spoke to entered into the affair with zeal born of a lurking sense of the wrong she had helped do Clementina in the common doubt whether she was not herself Mrs. Lander’s maid. She offered to go into Boston with them to an intelligence office, where you could get nice girls of all kinds; but she ended by giving Mrs. Lander the address, and instructions as to what she was to require in a maid.