“Nay. He knows all the titled people. He was at one of Lady Grafton’s routs, Tibbie, and was spoke to by the Duke of Cumberland!”
For a man falsely to assert acquaintance with a royal duke seemed so impossible to the girl that this was accepted as indisputable proof; driven from her first position, Tibbie remarked, “Perhaps he won’t return. Many ’s the maid been cozened and deserted by the men.”
For a moment, either because this idea did not please Janice or because she needed time to digest it, there was silence.
“Oh, Janice,” sighed Tibbie, presently, “’t is almost past belief that thee has had so much happen to thee.”
But a few weeks before the girl thought the chief part of her experiences the most cruel luck that had ever befallen maiden. Yet so quickly does youth put trouble in the past, and so respondent is it to the romantic view of things, that she now promptly answered,—
“Is ’t not, Tibbie! Am I not a lucky girl? If I only was certain about Thalia, I should be so happy.”
Of the time Janice spent at Trenton little need be said. Compared with Greenwood, the town was truly almost riotous. Neither Presbyterian nor Quaker approved of dancing, and so the regular weekly assemblies were forbidden fruit to the girls, and Janice and Tibbie were too well born to be indelicately of the throng who skated long hours on Assanpink Creek, or to take part in the frequent coasting-parties. But of other amusements they had, in the expression of the day, “a great plenty.” Four teas,—but without that particular beverage,—two quilting-bees, one candy-pulling and one corn-popping, three evenings at singing-school, and a syllabub party supplied such ample social dissipation to Janice that life seemed for the time fairly to whirl.
Not the least of the excitement, it must be confessed, was the conquest by Janice of a young Quaker cousin of Tabitha’s named Penrhyn Morris. Two other of the Trenton lads, too, began to behave in a manner so suspicious to the girls as to call for much discussion. Tibbie as well had several swains, who furnished still further subjects of conversation after sleeping hours had come. Several times sharp reproofs were shouted through the partition from Miss Drinker’s room, but the whispering only sank in tone and not in volume.
One incident not to be omitted was the appearance of Philemon, nominally on business, in Trenton; but he called upon the Drinkers, and remained to dinner when asked. He stayed on and on after that meal, wearying the two girls beyond measure by the necessity of maintaining a conversation, until, just as the desperation point was reached, Tibbie introduced a topic which had an element of promise in it.
“Hast thou seen Charles Fownes of late?” she asked of the mute awkward figure; and though Janice did not look up, there was a moment’s flicker of her eyelashes.