Mr. Benton, who had been, of late, so much in her thought, now stood bowing before the two young ladies, thus arresting their conversation. The last speaker was right. Alice had drawn him across the room, as was quickly apparent, for to her alone he was soon addressing himself. To quite the extent allowable in good breeding, was Alice monopolized by Mr. Benton during the evening and when he left her, with scarcely-concealed reluctance, another would take his place, and enjoy the charm of her fine intelligence.
“Have you been introduced to Alice T——?” she heard one gentleman ask of another, as she stood near a window opening into the conservatory, and partly hidden by curtains.
“Yes,” was the answer.
“She is a pleasant girl.”
“By odds the most charming I have met to-night. And then she has had the good taste to dress in a modest, womanly manner. How beautifully she contrasts with a dozen I could name, all radiant with colors as a bed of tulips.”
She heard no more. But this was enough.
“You had a pleasant evening judging from your face,” said aunt Helen, when she meet her niece on the next morning.
“Yes; it was a very pleasant one—very pleasant.” Her color deepened and her eyes grew brighter.
“You were not neglected on account of you attractive style of dress?”
“Judging from the attentions I received, it must have been very attractive. A novelty, perhaps. You understand human nature better than I do, aunt Helen.”
“Was it the plainest in the room?”
“It was plainer than that of half a dozen ladies old enough to have grandchildren.”
The aunt smiled.
“Then it has not hurt your prospects?”
The question was in jest; but aunt Helen saw instantly into the heart of her niece. For a moment their eyes lingered in each other; then Alice looked down upon the floor.
“No it has not hurt my prospects.” The answer was in a softer voice, and then followed a long-drawn inspiration, succeeded by the faintest of sighs.
A visit from Mr. Benton, on the next evening, removed all doubt from the dress question, if any remained.
Coffee vs. Brandy.
“We shall have to give them a wedding party,” said Mrs. Eldridge to her husband.
Mr. Eldridge assented.
“They will be home to-morrow, and I think of sending out of invitations for Thursday.”
“As you like about that,” replied Mr. Eldridge. “The trouble will be yours.”
“You have no objections?”
“O, none in the world. Fanny is a good little girl, and the least we can do is to pay her this compliment on her marriage. I am not altogether satisfied about her husband, however; he was rather a wild sort of a boy a year or two ago.”
“I guess he’s all right now,” remarked Mrs. Eldridge; “and he strikes me as a very kind-hearted, well-meaning young man. I have flattered myself that Fanny has done quite well as the average run of girls.”