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- Drusilla with a Million - 10/43 -


I presume you are the judge of when they become '_convenable_' --whatever that means. But you'd better let me tell you when I think they're ready to be passed on."

Drusilla sat back in the chair with folded hands for a few moments; then she looked down at them as they lay idly in her lap.

"I don't see what I'm goin' to do with my hands. I've always had a work-basket by my side whenever I set down, and now you just expect me to set. Well, I'm tired of it; I want to _do_ something."

A few of the neighbors, headed by Mrs. Thornton, the typical New York woman devoted to "society," made calls upon Drusilla; and when the first caller's card was brought to Drusilla, she went into the drawing-room and greeted the stylishly dressed lady who rose to meet her, wondering why she had come. The lady sat down and talked to Drusilla about the weather, asked how she liked Brookvale, spoke of the opera season and of a new singer, asked her if she cared for symphonies, which Drusilla thought at first was something to eat, mentioned a ball that was being given at Sherry's that night for charity; and then departed, leaving Drusilla still wondering why she came. Evidently she told her friends of her visit, as many came, some from curiosity and others from real kindliness and desire to be friendly with their newest neighbor.

One day Daphne saw the cards.

"Oh," she said, "has Mrs. Druer called, and Mrs. Cairns, and Mrs. Freeman. I am so glad. You must return the call."

"Is that a call? What did they come for? I been wondering about it ever since they come."

"They are your neighbors."

"Oh, is that the way they are neighborly in the city? Set down and talk about nothing for ten minutes and then go home. Well, I don't see as it's very fillin'."

"They want to get acquainted."

"Well, why don't they stay a while and git acquainted? We jest git started to talkin' when they go away. Where I lived when a neighbor come to see you, they brought their sewin' and spent the afternoon. You can't git acquainted settin' opposite each other and wonderin' what to say. Why, they all look when they git ready to go, 'Well, I've done my duty; thank goodness it's over!'"

Daphne laughed.

"You must go and return the calls."

"You mean that I must go to their houses and do what they done--set ten minutes and ask them about the weather and the opera and symphonies? I don't know nothin' about them things at all."

"You needn't ask them about the opera, but you must return their calls."

Drusilla shook her head.

"No, I won't do it."

"Oh, but you must."

"But I won't, Miss Thornton," said Drusilla obstinately. "I don't know what to say."

"I'll go with you, Miss Doane."

"Well--" and Drusilla was a little pacified--"well, I'll go once and see what it's like. I'll do anything once, but I won't promise to do it much."

"Never mind; you must return the first calls. I'll come for you to-morrow and we'll go. You have cards--I had them made for you; and I'll bring my new cardcase. No, I'll get you the dearest bag I saw downtown. Gray suede with a cardcase and mirror in it, and a pencil and everything you need."

"What do I want a mirror in my hand satchel for?"

"Why to powder your nose if it gets shiny, Miss Doane. You're not up to date. You must have a vanity box in your bag or you won't be in it at all now."

Drusilla laughed.

"You ain't forgot how vain I was that first day when I peeked in all the mirrors at the hotel. But now I can pass one without lookin' in, if I ain't got a new dress on."

"Speaking of dresses, Miss Doane, put on that dark gray velvet that Marcelle made you and the hat with the mauve. Oh, I wish it were cold, so you could wear your new furs. But--well--they'll see them all after a while. We mustn't astonish them _too_ much at first."

"Do I have to fix up so much?"

"But I want them to see how pretty you are."

Drusilla blushed like a girl.

"Pshaw, Miss Thornton, don't you know I'm past seventy years old? You shouldn't say such things."

"Oh, but I mean it. Margaret Fairchild, who was here with her mother, told the girls the other night at the dance that she couldn't keep her eyes off of you, as you sat with the light on your hair, and your pretty dress that was so half old-fashioned and half the latest style. She said you looked as if you had just stepped out of a picture."

"It's my clothes, I guess."

"Yes, it's partly the clothes, and that's where Marcelle is clever. She makes the clothes suit _you_, and doesn't try to make a fashionable middle-aged woman out of you. She spoke of your hands too, said they looked so--so--sort of feminine as they lay on the arms of the chair. You are clever, Miss Doane, to always sit on one of those high-backed chairs when callers come; it makes a lovely background."

"Does it? I hadn't thought of that. I generally set in the chair that's nearest the door; and I like one with arms that I can take hold of, 'cause it makes me nervous to have the women stare at me, and sometimes when there is such a long time between talks, I hold on to the arm tight so's I won't show I'm nervous and wonderin' what to say to fill in. But I didn't think any one noticed my hands." She looked down at them rather sadly. "They've always worked hard and I guess they show the marks."

"Oh, your hands are beautiful, Miss Doane. I can't ever believe you have worked with them."

"Can't you? I never had my hands idle in my lap in all my life till I come here. But--well, they ought to have something happen to 'em the way Jane works with 'em. Whenever I let her she's fussin' with my hands with little sticks and knives, until sometimes I'd like to box her ears. How any one can spend so much time just settin' still and lettin' some one fuss with their hands, I don't see. But I let her do it, as I don't have much else to do here but just set still, and she'd better fool with my hands than spend her time talkin' with William, which she does enough as it is."

"Oh, is Jeanne flirting?"

"Now, I shouldn't say anything. But I can't help seein' things, even if they do think I'm an old woman with my eyes half shut."

"I'll speak to Father about it."

"No, you won't, Miss Thornton. Leave her alone. It ain't much company for a young girl like her just to wait on an old woman like me; and William seems a nice young man. I like him, Miss Thornton, but I jest can't bear the sight of James."

Daphne turned quickly.

"Has James been impertinent to you?"

Drusilla shook her head.

"No, not at all. I wish he would be impudent or _anything_ except jest stand around and look grand. He don't approve of me, Miss Thornton--even his back when he leaves the dining-room says he don't approve of me. I never seen a back that can say so much as his'n."

"Well, if you don't like him I will speak to Father and he will get another butler."

"No, don't do that. He don't do nothin' to lose his place for; and I'd hate to have to git used to another back. He never says a word, but he jest _looks_; but perhaps he'll git over it, or I'll git used to it, or maybe when I git more used to things I'll talk to him and ask him if he can't be a little more human, instead of lookin' like the chief mourner at a funeral. It sometimes makes me feel that I'm dead and he's takin' the last look."

Daphne laughed.

"Oh, that's his way. He's English, you know, and English servants are trained to look like mummies."

"Well, he certainly had good trainin'. What time do we go callin' to-morrow? I want to git it over."

"I'll come for you at four, and I'll tell them to have the small car ready. Good-by. I'm going to a great big tea where I am to pour. I love to give tea, although I always give the wrong person lemon."

The next day Jeanne, being told that Drusilla was going to call upon the ladies of the neighborhood, took extra care in dressing her; and when Daphne came, Drusilla was a very richly, exquisitely dressed old lady waiting for her car. The bag delighted Drusilla and she examined the fittings, and looked at the little vanity case with its tiny powder puff and mirror. Daphne laughed as she saw her peep into the mirror.

"Oh, Miss Doane, you're just like us all. We can't pass a mirror


Drusilla with a Million - 10/43

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