“If you please, I’ve come,” said a small girl, as she walked into a large room where three ladies sat at work.
One of the ladies was very thin, one very stout, and the youngest very pretty. The eldest put on her glasses, the stout one dropped her sewing, and the pretty one exclaimed, —
“Why, it must be little Rosamond!”
“Yes, I’ve come; the man is taking my trunk upstairs, and I’ve got a letter for Cousin Penelope,” said the child, with the sweet composure of one always sure of a welcome.
The stout lady held out her hand for the letter; but the little girl, after a keen look at the three faces, went to the old lady, who received her with a kiss, saying, —
“That’s right; but how did you know, dear?”
“Oh, Papa said Cousin Penny is old, Cousin Henny fat, and Cousin Cicely rather pretty; so I knew in one minute,” replied Rosamond, in a tone of innocent satisfaction at her own cleverness, and quite unconscious of the effect of her speech.
Miss Penelope hastily retired behind the letter. Miss Henrietta frowned so heavily that the gold-rimmed eye-glasses flew off her nose with a clash, and Cicely laughed outright, as she exclaimed, —
“I’m afraid we have got an enfant terrible among us, though I can’t complain of my share of the compliments.”
“I never expected to find Clara’s child well mannered, and I see I was quite right. Take your hat off, Rosamond, and sit down. It tires Sister to lean on her in that way,” said Miss Henny in a severe tone, with no offer of any warmer welcome.
Seeing that something was amiss, the child quietly obeyed, and perching herself in an ancient arm-chair crossed her short legs, folded her plump hands over the diminutive travelling-bag she carried, and sat looking about the room with a pair of very large blue eyes, quite unabashed, though rather pensive, as if the memory of some tender parting were still fresh in her little heart.
While Miss Penny slowly reads the letter, Miss Henny works daisies on a bit of canvas with pettish jerks of her silk, and Miss Cicely leans in the sofa-corner, staring at the newcomer, we will briefly introduce our small heroine. Her father was cousin to the elder ladies, and being called suddenly across the water on business, took his wife with him, leaving the little girl to the care of these relatives, thinking her too young for so long a journey. Cicely, an orphan niece who lived with the old ladies, was to have the care of Rosy; and a summer in the quiet country town would do her good, while change of scene would console her for this first separation from her mother. How she fared remains to be seen; and we need only add that the child had been well trained, made the companion of a sweet and tender woman, and was very anxious to please the parents whom she passionately loved, by keeping the promises she had made them, and being “as brave as Papa, as patient and kind as dear Mamma.”
“Well, what do you think of it, Missy?” asked Cicely, as the blue eyes came back to her, after roving round the spacious, old-fashioned, and rather gloomy room.
“It’s a pretty large, dark place for a little girl to be all alone in;” and there was a suspicious quiver in the childish voice, as Rosy opened her bag to produce a very small handkerchief, evidently feeling that she might have sudden need of it if some one did not speak to her very soon.
“We keep it dark on account of Sister’s eyes. When I was a little girl, it wasn’t considered polite to say rude things about other people’s houses, especially if they were very handsome ones,” said Miss Henny, with a stern glance over the eye-glasses at the young offender, whose second remark was even more unfortunate than her first.
“I didn’t mean to be rude, but I must tell the truth. Little girls like bright places. I’m sorry about Cousin Penny’s eyes. I will read to her; I do to Mamma, and she says it is very well for a child only eight years old.”