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- Drusilla with a Million - 5/43 -
"We'll go as fast as you like; only I hope we won't be arrested."
"I'd be willin' to go to jail to pay fer feelin' like this. I always thought I'd have to wait till I got to Heaven before I'd git a chance to fly, but now they'll have to offer me something new."
She said nothing more on the journey, but showed by the bright flush on her cheeks and the sparkle in her eyes that she was enjoying every moment of the ride. At last they turned, passed a pair of big gate-posts and up a graveled driveway, and the car stopped before a door.
When a man came from the house and opened the door of the car, Drusilla came to herself with a start.
"Are we there already? I was kind of hopin' it'd never stop."
Mr. Thornton gravely helped Drusilla to the door.
"Welcome to your home, Miss Doane," he said. "I think we will find my daughter inside."
They entered a large hall and Drusilla stood hesitatingly, not knowing what to do. In a moment a voice was heard from above:
"Is that you, Father?" and a laughing face peered over the railing, and was followed by a slim young figure that seemed to fly down the stairs. "Oh, you were such a _long_ time, Father. Welcome home, Miss Doane! we are _so_ glad to have you. We have all been waiting such a long time. Father is always so slow;" and she flew in her pretty, impulsive way to Drusilla and took both her hands. "I am so glad to have you come, Miss Doane."
Drusilla looked at the pretty face before her that seemed to show such real welcome, and her eyes filled with tears.
"I'm real glad to come, but--but--I guess I'm a little bit scared."
"No, you aren't going to be frightened at all. You come right up with me and take off your hat in your room. Oh, here is Mrs. Perrine. She is your housekeeper, Miss Doane. And that is James, the butler; and that is Mary; and Jeanne is waiting for you upstairs. Come with me."
Drusilla followed as well as she could the flying feet up the broad stairs and was taken to a room that seemed to her a palace. It was all in soft shades of gray with a touch of blue here and there, and there were flowers everywhere. The chairs were upholstered in gray and blue chintz, and at the windows hung gray silk curtains with just a hint of the blue showing beneath them. Near the fireplace was a big couch with a soft gray silk quilt spread upon it, and pillows that invited one to rest. Drusilla stopped in delight.
"Oh--oh--what a pretty room! What a pretty room!"
Miss Thornton dimpled all over her pretty face.
"Do you like it? Oh, please say you like it! I arranged these rooms myself. This was a bachelor house, and there wasn't a pretty room in the place. I made Father let me fix them for you. You do like them, don't you?"
"I never saw nothin' like it before in my life."
"You don't think it too gay, do you? Mother said I ought not have the blue, that they should all be done in a dark color. But I said I knew you would love pretty things, and you should have them. You don't think it too gay. You like the blue, don't you?"
"I love it, I _love_ it! I never had nothin' gay colored in my life, and I love it."
"I knew you would. Come into the bedroom. Isn't this gray furniture dear? Don't those long mirrors look lovely with the gray wood? And aren't the toilet things pretty? See the monogram--_D. D_. I thought a lot about it, and aren't they pretty on that dull silver? Look at this mirror--and isn't that the _cunningest_ pin-tray? And this is for your hatpins; and look at this pin-cushion. I had the loveliest time picking them out."
Drusilla looked at the pretty things in amazement rather mixed with awe.
"Why, what'll I do with all them things?"
"Oh, you'll use them all. There isn't one too many, and perhaps I've forgotten some things. If I have, we will go and pick them out together. You will let me go with you, won't you, because I love to shop. Oh, I forgot--here is your bathroom, and beyond that is your maid's room. She is quite near, so if you feel ill in the night you can call her. But let me take off your hat. Shall I ring for Jeanne? No," as she saw the frightened look come into the eyes, "perhaps you'd rather be with me just at first. How pretty your hair is, so soft and fluffy. You must blue it, it is so white. I wish my hair would fluff, but it won't curl except in wet weather. Now come into the other room and sit down in that soft chair. Isn't that an easy chair? I picked that out too. I chose everything in the room, and I'm so proud of it. See, here is the footstool that goes with it, and you sit by the big window here when you don't want to go downstairs, and this little table will hold your books or your sewing."
Drusilla looked up at her.
"You've been real kind, Miss Thornton; you've thought of everything."
"But I loved it. I've been working ever since Father knew about you."
"It is nice of you to be here. I was afraid a little to come, not knowin' what it was goin' to be like."
"That's what I told Father. I said you didn't want to come into a big cold house with only a cold lawyer like him to say, 'Welcome home.' I made him let me come. I'm going to stay to dinner with you if you'll invite me. We'll send Father home. I don't live far from here--only about five minutes in the car--and Father can send back for me. Would you like me to stay?"
Drusilla leaned forward eagerly.
"Oh, do stay, Miss Thornton. I--I--well, I wouldn't know what to do by myself."
"Well, you sit here by this fire and I'll go down and tell Father to go away. You don't want to hear any more business to-night and Father _always_ talks business. Just you take a little nap while I'm gone. Are you comfortable? There! I'll be back in five minutes."
Drusilla sat down in the comfortable chair and watched the flames flickering in the grate; then her eyes passed lovingly around the room, resting on each beautiful picture, on the soft draperies, the easy-chairs and the flowers. She sat as one in a dream, until light steps were heard and Miss Thornton again entered the room.
"Did you sleep?"
"No, I didn't want to shut my eyes. I was afraid it might all go away and I'd be again in the bare little rooms I've always lived in. I don't think I'll ever sleep again--I might miss somethin'."
"Isn't that lovely! Why, you'll always have lovely things all your life. And now I've told James that we're going to have dinner up here. The dining-room looks too big for us two."
Miss Thornton busied herself around the room for a few moments; then drew a chair in front of the grate and sat down beside Drusilla while the butler and a maid brought in a small table. Drusilla watched them as they noiselessly arranged the china and the glass upon the beautiful cloth, and when all was prepared the butler said in his even, "servant" tones, "Dinner is served," and went behind the chair reserved for the mistress of the house. Drusilla hesitated a moment, in evident awe of the butler, who stood so erect and stiff in his evening clothes, but here again kindly Daphne Thornton came to her aid.
"Now, you sit here, Miss Doane," and she took her to the chair which the butler deftly slid into place. "I will be just opposite you. Isn't this nicer than sitting at that great big table downstairs where we would need a telephone to talk to each other?"
She chatted all through the dinner, showing in a kindly, unobtrusive way the uses of the different things that might be an embarrassment to the little old lady who was used to the simple service of a charity table. After dinner the coffee was served on a small table in front of the fire.
While they were drinking it a maid entered the room.
"The motor has come for Miss Thornton," she announced.
"Now, I am going to leave you. Get a good sleep. I will call Jeanne, who will take care of you. She is your personal maid, Miss Doane, so tell her anything you want."
Answering the ring of the bell a pretty maid came into the room, and Miss Thornton said:
"Jeanne, this is Miss Doane, your mistress. She is tired and will like to go to bed early, I am sure. See that she has a good warm bath, as it will help her sleep. And, Miss Doane, I bought a few things for you, as perhaps your luggage might not come in time. Jeanne will have them ready for you. Now, good night! I am so glad you have come, and I know you will be so happy. You will let me come often to see you, won't you?"
She came over to the chair and bent her pretty young head over the old white one, and Drusilla reached up her arms and took the smiling face between her hands.
"You'll never know, dear, what you've done for a lonely old woman. I don't know how to thank you."
"Thank _me_--why, I should thank _you_. I have had _such_ a nice time, and I'm so glad that you like the rooms--Mother said you wouldn't. Would you like me to come in the morning and see how you are getting on?"
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