“I’m so sorry my aunt’s Thursdays are over; she never has them after Lent, but we’re to have some people Tuesday evening at a little concert which a musical friend is going to give with some other artists. There won’t be any banjos, I’m afraid, but there’ll be some very good singing, and my aunt would be so glad if you could come with your mother.”
She put down her aunt’s card on the table near her, while Mela gurgled, as if it were the best joke: “Oh, my! Mother never goes anywhere; you couldn’t get her out for love or money.” But she was herself overwhelmed with a simple joy at Margaret’s politeness, and showed it in a sensuous way, like a child, as if she had been tickled. She came closer to Margaret and seemed about to fawn physically upon her.
“Ain’t she just as lovely as she can live?” she demanded of her sister when Margaret was gone.
“I don’t know,” said Christine. “I guess she wanted to know who Mr. Beaton had been lending her banjo to.”
“Pshaw! Do you suppose she’s in love with him?” asked Mela, and then she broke into her hoarse laugh at the look her sister gave her. “Well, don’t eat me, Christine! I wonder who she is, anyway? I’m goun’ to git it out of Mr. Beaton the next time he calls. I guess she’s somebody. Mrs. Mandel can tell. I wish that old friend of hers would hurry up and git well—or something. But I guess we appeared about as well as she did. I could see she was afraid of you, Christine. I reckon it’s gittun’ around a little about father; and when it does I don’t believe we shall want for callers. Say, are you goun’? To that concert of theirs?”
“I don’t know. Not till I know who they are first.”
“Well, we’ve got to hump ourselves if we’re goun’ to find out before Tuesday.”
As she went home Margaret felt wrought in her that most incredible of the miracles, which, nevertheless, any one may make his experience. She felt kindly to these girls because she had tried to make them happy, and she hoped that in the interest she had shown there had been none of the poison of flattery. She was aware that this was a risk she ran in such an attempt to do good. If she had escaped this effect she was willing to leave the rest with Providence.
The notion that a girl of Margaret Vance’s traditions would naturally form of girls like Christine and Mela Dryfoos would be that they were abashed in the presence of the new conditions of their lives, and that they must receive the advance she had made them with a certain grateful humility. However they received it, she had made it upon principle, from a romantic conception of duty; but this was the way she imagined they would receive it, because she thought that she would have done so if she had been as ignorant and unbred as they. Her error was in arguing their attitude from her own temperament, and endowing them, for the