She could not find a word that was strong enough, perhaps. By and by she said:
“Well, I am glad of it—I’m glad of it. I never cared anything for him anyway!”
And then, with small consistency, she cried a little, and patted her foot more indignantly than ever.
Two months had gone by and the Hawkins family were domiciled in Hawkeye. Washington was at work in the real estate office again, and was alternately in paradise or the other place just as it happened that Louise was gracious to him or seemingly indifferent—because indifference or preoccupation could mean nothing else than that she was thinking of some other young person. Col. Sellers had asked him several times, to dine with him, when he first returned to Hawkeye, but Washington, for no particular reason, had not accepted. No particular reason except one which he preferred to keep to himself—viz. that he could not bear to be away from Louise. It occurred to him, now, that the Colonel had not invited him lately—could he be offended? He resolved to go that very day, and give the Colonel a pleasant surprise. It was a good idea; especially as Louise had absented herself from breakfast that morning, and torn his heart; he would tear hers, now, and let her see how it felt.
The Sellers family were just starting to dinner when Washington burst upon them with his surprise. For an instant the Colonel looked nonplussed, and just a bit uncomfortable; and Mrs. Sellers looked actually distressed; but the next moment the head of the house was himself again, and exclaimed:
“All right, my boy, all right—always glad to see you—always glad to hear your voice and take you by the hand. Don’t wait for special invitations—that’s all nonsense among friends. Just come whenever you can, and come as often as you can—the oftener the better. You can’t please us any better than that, Washington; the little woman will tell you so herself. We don’t pretend to style. Plain folks, you know—plain folks. Just a plain family dinner, but such as it is, our friends are always welcome, I reckon you know that yourself, Washington. Run along, children, run along; Lafayette,—[**In those old days the average man called his children after his most revered literary and historical idols; consequently there was hardly a family, at least in the West, but had a Washington in it—and also a Lafayette, a Franklin, and six or eight sounding names from Byron, Scott, and the Bible, if the offspring held out. To visit such a family, was to find one’s self confronted by a congress made up of representatives of the imperial myths and the majestic dead of all the ages. There was something thrilling about it, to a stranger, not to say awe inspiring.]—stand off the cat’s tail, child, can’t you see what you’re doing?—Come, come, come, Roderick Dhu, it isn’t nice for little boys to hang onto young gentlemen’s coat tails —but never mind him, Washington, he’s full of spirits and don’t mean any harm. Children will be children, you know. Take the chair next to Mrs. Sellers, Washington—tut, tut, Marie Antoinette, let your brother have the fork if he wants it, you are bigger than he is.”