Part I
Chapter XXII
 

Betty, after several long and restless nights, decided that she was not equal to the ordeal of sitting down patiently in Washington awaiting the rare and flying visits of Senator North. If she could place herself quite beyond the possibility of seeing him before the first of June, she could get through the intervening months with a respectable amount of endurance, but not otherwise. Hers was not the nature of the patient watcher, the humble applicant for crumbs. She might put up with slices where she could not get the whole loaf, but her head lifted itself at the notion of crumbs. Her heart had not yet begun to ache. She determined that it should not until it was in far more desperate straits than now. When Lady Mary Montgomery, who was tired and wanted a long rest before December, invited her to go to California, she accepted at once; and, a week after the adjournment of Congress, went through the formality of obtaining her mother's consent. "Well," said Mrs. Madison, philosophically, "I have lost you for three months at a time before, and I suppose I can stand it again. I think you need a change. You've been nervous lately, and you're thinner than you were. As long as you don't marry I can resign myself quite gracefully to these little partings."

"You're a dear, Mollyanthus. I only wish you were going with me, but I'll keep a journal for you and post it every night. I am glad you do not dislike Harriet. Of course if you did I should not go, for it is too soon to turn her adrift."

"She is inoffensive enough, poor soul, and so deep in her books that I should not know she was in the house if she didn't come to the table."

"Make Jack take her to the theatre once a week. She has promised me that she will go for a walk every day with Sally."

"Sally says she is convinced Harriet is a Roman empress reborn, and may astonish Washington at any moment," said Mrs. Madison, anxiously. "Do you believe in reincarnation?"

"I don't believe or disbelieve anything I don't understand. We none of us can even guess what is latent in Harriet--for the matter of that I don't know what is latent in myself. I can only suspect. I don't think Harriet will ever go very deep into herself; she has not imagination enough. If circumstances are not too unfavourable, she may slip through life happy and respected, in spite of her tragic appearance: she is so slothful by nature, so much more susceptible to good influences than to bad. All of us possess every good and bad instinct in the whole book of human nature, but few of us have imagination enough to find it out. And the less we know of ourselves the better."

"Betty, you certainly do need a change. You looked tragic yourself as you said that; and if you became tragic it would mean something. I'm afraid your conscience is tormenting you about Mr. Burleigh, and perhaps I did not do right in asking him to come to the Adirondacks; but probably he would have come to the hotel, anyhow; and if I did have to lose you--"

"You'll never get rid of me." And she went to her room to consult with Leontine.

The night before she left Harriet came into her room and said timidly,--

"Betty, I sometimes wonder if you have told Mr. Emory the truth about myself--"

"Certainly not. Why should I tell Mr. Emory--or anyone else?"

"Well, he is so kind to me and we have become such friends, I thought perhaps you would think he ought to know."

"That is pure nonsense. Do you suppose I tell my friends everything I know? No friend is so close as to demand to know more than you choose to tell him."

"All right, honey; but I am always afraid he will see my finger-nails when he is helping me with my lessons--"

"He is very near-sighted; and I doubt if anyone would notice those faint blue marks unless they were looking for them."

"Of course they seem the most conspicuous things I've got, to me."

"Are you happy here, Harriet?" asked Betty, gently. Harriet nodded and looked at her benefactor with glowing eyes. "Oh, yes," she said. "Yes --yes. It is like heaven, in spite of the hard work they make me do. I'm right down afraid of that old Frenchman, and when Professor Morrow shuts his eyes and groans, 'Door--d-o-o-r, Miss Walker, not d-o-u-g- h,' I could cry. But I'm happy all the same, and I forgot that for a whole week."

"Well, forget it altogether. And remember to have a thin travelling dress and a lot of summer things made. And of all people do not confide in Jack Emory or Sally Carter--or any other Southerner."