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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/91

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"I'll tell my mother you've come," said Letty ingenuously. "She's just gone upstairs. Won't you walk into the parlor?"

She left them and escaped to her mother, who was struggling into her best dress. "Letty!" cried Mrs. Bell reproachfully, "you did n't leave them alone down there! Run right back and entertain them till I come."

"Here," said Letty, putting aside her mother's ineffectual, trembling fingers and buttoning her dress for her.

"What do they want?" cried Mrs. Bell.

"To make his room more like what he's used to," Letty replied, baldly, but without bitterness.

"It's aired out and read up anyway. To think of having Mrs. Robert Halket in my house! Letty, do go down and talk to her till I can come."

"I guess they can sit alone together for a few minutes without fighting," rejoined Letty.

"To think of having Mrs. Robert Halket in my house!" repeated Mrs. Bell, in lamentation and ecstasy. "Was she awful, Letty?"

"She's a human being," said Letty.

"There, there, that'll do—where's my handkerchief? Shall I help you fix yourself up—your hair?"

"No, I'm not going down, mother."

"Letty, you must." Mrs. Bell was in despair. "I can't face her alone—my goodness, child."

Letty was obdurate. "She's just come on business; she's not making a call on us; I'm not going to tag round and look at her."

"Oh, if you ain't the unmanageable!" cried Mrs. Bell, on the verge of tears.

Letty opened the door and gently pushed her out into the hall; then closed the door definitely upon her.

Mrs. Halket was not inclined to be severe. The timorousness of the little woman touched her kindly heart; she was never the grand lady in the homes of the poor. She