In Mrs. Levy’s attractive drawing-room, Bertha’s guests were assembled for the tea-party.
Lizzie Heartwell, the first to arrive, was ushered into the brightly lighted room, to find Mrs. Levy the only occupant.
“I welcome you gladly, Miss Heartwell,” said Mrs. Levy, rising and taking Lizzie by the hand. “I have long desired your acquaintance, knowing my daughter’s friendship for you. Pray be seated.”
“I thank you, Mrs. Levy,” replied Lizzie, “I indeed esteem it an honor to meet the mother of such a friend as Bertha.”
“My daughter will be present by and by. I regret that necessity compels her non-appearance as yet. Sit nearer the fire.”
Lizzie drew closer to the glowing grate, and they continued a pleasant conversation till Bertha appeared.
“What a handsome woman!” thought Lizzie, as she occasionally surveyed Mrs. Levy from head to foot during the tte- -tte.
And she was a handsome womam, dressed quietly but richly in black satin, her head adorned only by the clustering curls she had worn from her girlhood. There was little change even in their arrangement, and only an occasional thread of silver here and there bespoke the touch of time. Her eyes were still beautiful, but their lustre had been dimmed by the tears of her widowhood.
Bertha bore the same cast of beauty that distinguished her mother, yet time’s developing, modelling work for her was not yet completed. When the guests were duly assembled, Bertha approached her mother, who was still entertaining Lizzie, appearing quite fascinated with her daughter’s friend, and said, “Mother, won’t you release your prisoner now? Helen Le Grande wishes her to join the group over there by the window, in a game of euchre.”
“Certainly, my dear. I trust Miss Heartwell will pardon me if I have detained her too long.”
“Come, Lizzie, come along,” said Bertha; and then added, in an undertone, “you know what I promised to show you, Lizzie. Come with me; let them make up the game without you.”
“Oh! yes, that album; show it to me,” said Lizzie, following Bertha to a well-filled tagre, from which she took a handsomely bound album, saying, “This is from Asher. Isn’t it lovely?”
“Indeed it is,” replied Lizzie.
“Mamma says I do not know who sent it to me, as there is no name anywhere. She does not wish me to think it’s from Asher, but I know it is. It’s just like him to do such nice things,” and, bending her head closer to Lizzie, Bertha continued, “you see, Lizzie, I am awfully disappointed because mamma would not allow me to invite him here to-night. I am just as vexed as I well can be.”
“Won’t some of these other gentlemen answer in his stead?” asked Lizzie, smiling.
“Bosh! no; all of these, and forty more, are not equal to Asher Bernhardt, in my estimation. I love Asher, I tell you, and I mean to marry him, one of these days; do you hear me?”