They entered their own hospitable house, where fires blazed and the kettle sang. “Say,” said Allison, “isn’t this great! Why did we ever leave it? Isn’t it fine, Father?”
But “father” still had his eyes upon the dainty little lady who had brought forth the miracle of home from a wilderness of dust and ashes. He bent again over the small, white hand.
“A woman, a fire, and a singing kettle,” he said. “All the dear, familiar spirits of the house to welcome us home.”
THE VOICE OF THE VIOLIN
Madame Bernard and Isabel had not yet come down when Rose entered the living-room, half an hour before dinner. The candles were lighted, and in the soft glow of the reading lamp was a vase of pink roses, sent by Colonel Kent to his old friend. The delicate sweetness filled the room and mingled with the faint scent of attar of roses and dried rose petals which, as always, hung about the woman who stood by the table, idly rearranging the flowers.
The ruby ring caught the light and sent tiny crimson gleams dancing into the far shadows. Her crepe gown was almost the colour of the ruby; warm and blood-red. It was cut low at the throat, and an old Oriental necklace of wonderfully wrought gold was the only ornament she wore, aside from the ring. The low light gave the colour of the gown back to her face, beautiful as always, and in her dusky hair she had a single crimson rose.
Aunt Francesca had said that the Colonel was very much pleased with the house and glad to be at home again. She had sent over her own cook to prepare their first dinner, which, however, she had declined to share, contenting herself with ordering a feast suited to the Colonel’s taste. To-night, they were to dine with her and meet the other members of her household.
Madame came in gowned in lustreless white, with heliotrope at her belt and in her hair. She wore a quaintly wrought necklace of amethysts set in silver, and silver buckles, set with amethysts, on her white shoes. More than once Rose had laughingly accused her of being vain of her feet.
“Why shouldn’t I be vain?” she had retorted, in self-defence. “Aren’t they pretty?”
“Of course they are,” smiled Rose, bending down to kiss her. “They’re the prettiest little feet in all the world.”
Madame’s fancy ran seriously to shoes and stockings, of which she had a marvellous collection. Silk stockings in grey and white, and in all shades of lavender and purple, embroidered and plain, with shoes to match in satin and suede, occupied a goodly space in her wardrobe. At Christmas-time and on her birthday, Rose always gave her more, for it was the one gift which could never fail to please.
“How lovely the house is,” said Madame, looking around appreciatively. “I hope the dinner will be good.”
“I’ve never known it to be otherwise,” Rose assured her.