Nor was the evening less agreeable. Henrietta pleased grandmamma by getting her carpet-work out of some puzzle, and by flying across the room to fetch the tea-chest: she delighted grandpapa by her singing, and by finding his spectacles for him; she did quite a praiseworthy piece of her own crochet purse, and laughed a great deal at the battle that was going on between Queen Bee and Fred about the hero of some new book. She kept her list of Uncle Geoffrey’s manifold applicants on the table before her, and had the pleasure of increasing it by two men, business unknown, who sent to ask him to come and speak to them; by a loud and eager appeal from Fred and Beatrice to decide their contest, by a question of taste on the shades of grandmamma’s carpet-work, and by her own query how to translate a difficult German passage which had baffled herself, mamma, and Fred.
However, Queen Bee’s number, fifty, had not been attained, and her majesty was obliged to declare that she meant in a week instead of a day, for which reason the catalogue was written out fair, to be continued.
Mrs. Frederick Langford thought herself well recompensed for the pain her resolution had cost her, by the pleasure that Mr. and Mrs. Langford evidently took in her son and daughter, by the brightness of her two children’s own faces, and especially when Henrietta murmured in her sleep something about “delightful,” “bright leaves and red berries,” and then, “and ’tis for my own dear papa.”
And after all, in the attainment of their fondest wish, were Henrietta and Frederick as serenely happy as she was?
Christmas Eve, which was also a Saturday, dawned brightly on Henrietta, but even her eagerness for her new employment could not so far overcome her habitual dilatoriness as not to annoy her cousin, Busy Bee, even to a degree of very unnecessary fidgeting when there was any work in hand. She sat on thorns all breakfast time, devoured what her grandpapa called a sparrow’s allowance, swallowed her tea scalding, and thereby gained nothing but leisure to fret at the deliberation with which Henrietta cut her bread into little square dice, and spread her butter on them as if each piece was to serve as a model for future generations.
The subject of conversation was not precisely calculated to soothe her spirits. Grandmamma was talking of giving a young party—a New-year’s party on Monday week, the second of January. “It would be pleasant for the young people,” she thought, “if Mary did not think it would be too much for her.”
Beatrice looked despairingly at her aunt, well knowing what her answer would be, that it would not be at all too much for her, that she should be very glad to see her former neighbours, and that it would be a great treat to Henrietta and Fred.
“We will have the carpet up in the dining-room,” added Mrs. Langford, “and Daniels, the carpenter, shall bring his violin, and we can get up a nice little set for a dance.”