“I’ll let him know to-morrow, that I’m here,” she said, as she shook out her wavy auburn hair, and thought, with a glow of pride, how beautiful it was. “I’ll send Edith with my compliments and a bouquet of flowers to the bride. She’ll deliver them better than any one else, if I can once make her understand what I wish her to do.”
Accordingly, the next morning, as Edith sat upon the steps of the kitchen door, talking to herself, Grace appeared before her with a tastefully arranged bouquet, which she bade her take with her compliments to Mrs. Richard Harrington, if there was such a body, and to Mr. Richard Harrington if there were not.
“Do you understand?” she asked, and Edith far more interested in her visit to Collingwood than in what she was to do when she reached there, replied,
“Of course I do; I’m to give your compliments;” and she jammed her hand into the pocket of her gingham apron, as if to make sure the compliments were there. “I’m to give them to Mr. Richard, if there is one, and the flowers to Mrs. Richard, if there ain’t!”
Grace groaned aloud, while old Rachel, the colored cook, who on all occasions was Edith’s champion, removed her hands from the dough she was kneading and coming towards them, chimed in, “She ain’t fairly got it through her har, Miss Grace. She’s such a substracted way with her that you mostly has to tell her twicet,” and in her own peculiar style Rachel succeeded in making the “substracted” child comprehend the nature of her errand.
“Now don’t go to blunderin’,” was Rachel’s parting injunction, as Edith left the yard and turned in the direction of Collingwood.
It was a mellow September morning, and after leaving the main road and entering the gate of Collingwood, the young girl lingered by the way, admiring the beauty of the grounds, and gazing with feelings of admiration upon the massive building, surrounded by majestic maples, and basking so quietly in the warm sunlight. At the marble fountain she paused for a long, long time, talking to the golden fishes which darted so swiftly past each other, and wishing she could take them in her hand “just to see them squirm.”
“I mean to catch one any way,” she said, and glancing nervously at the windows to make sure no Mrs. Richard was watching her, she bared her round, plump arm, and thrust it into the water, just as a footstep sounded near.
Quickly withdrawing her hand and gathering up her bouquet, she turned about and saw approaching her one of Collingwood’s ghosts. She knew him in a moment, for she had heard him described too often to mistake that white-haired, bent old man for other than Capt. Harrington. He did not chide her as she supposed he would, neither did he seem in the least surprised to see her there. On the contrary, his withered, wrinkled face brightened with a look of eager expectancy, as he said to her, “Little girl, can you tell me where Charlie is?”