“Is Mrs. Atherton handsome?” he suddenly asked, remembering the fresh, girlish beauty of Grace Elmendorff, and wishing to know if it had faded.
“Oh, jolly,” said Edith, “I guess she is. Such splendid blue hair and auburn eyes.”
“She must be magnificent,” returned Richard, scarcely repressing a smile. “Give her my compliments and ask her if she’s willing now to share my self-imposed labor. Mind, don’t you forget a word, and go now. I’ll expect you again to-morrow with her answer.”
He made a gesture for Edith to leave, and though she wanted so much to tell him how she loved him for saving that Swedish baby, she forbore until another time, and ran hastily away, repeating his message as she ran lest she should forget it.
“Sent his compliments, and says ask you if you’re willing to share, his—his—his—share his—now—something—anyway, he wants you to come up there and live, and I do so hope you’ll go. Won’t it be jolly?” she exclaimed, as half out of breath she burst into the room where Grace sat reading a letter received by the morning’s mail.
“Wants me to what?” Grace asked, fancying she had not heard aright, and as Edith repeated the message, there stole into her heart a warm, happy feeling, such as she had not experienced since the orange wreath crowned her maiden brow.
Edith had not told her exactly what he said, she knew, but it was sufficient that he cared to see her, and she resolved to gratify him, but with something of her olden coquetry she would wait awhile and make him think she was not coming. So she said no more to Edith upon the subject, but told her that she was expecting her cousin Arthur St. Claire, a student from Geneva College, that he would be there in a day or two, and while he remained at Brier Hill she wished Edith to try and behave herself.
“This Mr. St. Claire,” said she, “belongs to one of the most aristocratic Southern families. He is not accustomed to anything low, either in speech or manner.”
“Can’t I even say jolly?” asked Edith, with such a seriously comical manner that Grace had great difficulty to keep from smiling.
“Jolly” was Edith’s pet word, the one she used indiscriminately and on all occasions, sometimes as an interjection, but oftener as an adjective. If a thing suited her it was sure to be jolly—she always insisting that ’twas a good proper word, for Marie used it and she knew. Who Marie was she could not tell, save that ’twas somebody who once took care of her and called her jolly. It was in vain that Grace expostulated, telling her it was a slang phrase, used only by the vulgar. Edith was inexorable, and would not even promise to abstain from it during the visit of Arthur St. Claire.