“Pshaw!” said Mela. “We don’t want to take Conrad away from his meetun’, do we, Chris?”
“I don’t know,” said Christine, in her high, fine voice. “They could get along without him for one night, as father says.”
“Well, I’m not a-goun’ to take him,” said Mela. “Now, Mrs. Mandel, just think out some other way. Say! What’s the reason we couldn’t get somebody else to take us just as well? Ain’t that rulable?”
“It would be allowable—”
“Allowable, I mean,” Mela corrected herself.
“But it might look a little significant, unless it was some old family friend.”
“Well, let’s get Mr. Fulkerson to take us. He’s the oldest family friend we got.”
“I won’t go with Mr. Fulkerson,” said Christine, serenely.
“Why, I’m sure, Christine,” her mother pleaded, “Mr. Fulkerson is a very good young man, and very nice appearun’.”
Mela shouted, “He’s ten times as pleasant as that old Mr. Beaton of Christine’s!”
Christine made no effort to break the constraint that fell upon the table at this sally, but her father said: “Christine is right, Mela. It wouldn’t do for you to go with any other young man. Conrad will go with you.”
“I’m not certain I want to go, yet,” said Christine.
“Well, settle that among yourselves. But if you want to go, your brother will go with you.”
“Of course, Coonrod ’ll go, if his sisters wants him to,” the old woman pleaded. “I reckon it ain’t agoun’ to be anything very bad; and if it is, Coonrod, why you can just git right up and come out.”
“It will be all right, mother. And I will go, of course.”
“There, now, I knowed you would, Coonrod. Now, fawther!” This appeal was to make the old man say something in recognition of Conrad’s sacrifice.
“You’ll always find,” he said, “that it’s those of your own household that have the first claim on you.”
“That’s so, Coonrod,” urged his mother. “It’s Bible truth. Your fawther ain’t a perfesser, but he always did read his Bible. Search the Scriptures. That’s what it means.”
“Laws!” cried Mely, “a body can see, easy enough from mother, where Conrad’s wantun’ to be a preacher comes from. I should ‘a’ thought she’d ‘a’ wanted to been one herself.”
“Let your women keep silence in the churches,” said the old woman, solemnly.
“There you go again, mother! I guess if you was to say that to some of the lady ministers nowadays, you’d git yourself into trouble.” Mela looked round for approval, and gurgled out a hoarse laugh.
The Dryfooses went late to Mrs. Horn’s musicale, in spite of Mrs. Mandel’s advice. Christine made the delay, both because she wished to show Miss Vance that she was (not) anxious, and because she had some vague notion of the distinction of arriving late at any sort of entertainment. Mrs. Mandel insisted upon the difference between this musicale and an ordinary reception; but Christine rather fancied disturbing a company that had got seated, and perhaps making people rise and stand, while she found her way to her place, as she had seen them do for a tardy comer at the theatre.