Ethelyn's Mistake (Chapter 10, page 2 of 5)


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Chapter 10

But Ethelyn declined it, saying, "My napkin is all that I shall
require."

Mrs. Markham, and Eunice, and Andy glanced at each other. Napkins were a
luxury in which Mrs. Markham had never indulged. She knew they were
common in almost every family of her acquaintance; but she did not see
of what use they were, except to make more washing, and as her standard
of things was the standard of thirty years back she was not easily
convinced; and even Melinda Jones had failed on the napkin question.
Ethelyn had been too much excited to observe their absence the previous
night, and she now spoke in all sincerity, never dreaming that there was
not such an article in the house. But there was a small square towel of
the finest linen, and sacred to the memory of Daisy, who had hemmed it
herself and worked her name in the corner. It was lying in the drawer,
now, with her white cambric dress, and, at a whispered word from her
mistress, Eunice brought it out and laid it in Ethelyn's lap, while
Richard's face grew crimson as he began to think that possibly his
mother might be a very little behind the times in her household
arrangements.

Ethelyn's appetite had improved since the previous night, and she did
ample justice to the well-cooked dinner; but her spirits were ruffled
again when, on returning to her room an hour or so after dinner, she
found it in the same disorderly condition in which she had left it.
Ethelyn had never taken charge of her own room, for at Aunt Barbara's
Betty had esteemed it a privilege to wait upon her young mistress, while
Aunt Van Buren would have been horror-stricken at the idea of any one of
her guests making their own bed. Mrs. Markham, on the contrary, could
hardly conceive of a lady too fine to do that service herself, and
Eunice was not the least to blame for omitting to do what she had never
been told was her duty to do. A few words from Richard, however, and the
promise of an extra quarter per week made that matter all right, and
neither Betty nor Mrs. Dr. Van Buren's trained chambermaid, Mag, had
ever entered into the clearing-up process with greater zeal than did
Eunice when once she knew that Richard expected it of her. She was
naturally kind-hearted, and though Ethelyn's lofty ways annoyed her
somewhat, her admiration for the beautiful woman and her elegant
wardrobe was unbounded, and she felt a pride in waiting upon her which
she would once have thought impossible to feel in anything pertaining to
her duties as a servant.

The following morning brought with it the opening of the box where the
family presents were; but Ethelyn did not feel as much interest in them
now as when they were purchased. She knew how out of place they were,
and fully appreciated the puzzled expression on James' face when he saw
the blue velvet smoking cap. It did not harmonize with the common clay
pipe he always smoked on Sunday, and much less with the coarse cob thing
she saw him take from the kitchen mantel that morning just after he left
the breakfast table and had donned the blue frock he wore upon the farm.
He did not know what the fanciful-tasseled thing was for; but he
reflected that Melinda, who had been to boarding school, could enlighten
him, and he thanked his pretty sister with a good deal of gentlemanly
grace. He was naturally more observing than Richard, and with the same
advantages would have polished sooner. Though a little afraid of
Ethelyn, there was something in her refined, cultivated manners very
pleasing to him, and his soft eyes looked down upon her kindly as he
took the cap and carried it to his room, laying it carefully away in the
drawer where his Sunday shirts, and collars, and "dancing pumps," and
fishing tackle, and paper of chewing tobacco were.

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