"Oh--I want--I want to do something for them," I cried. "I want to do something that counts, that's got a heart in it, that knows! You knew, didn't you, it was true--what I said downstairs? I was--I am a Cruelty girl. Help me to help others like me."
"My dear," he said, very stately and sweet, "I'll be proud to be your assistant. You've a kind, true heart and--"
And just at that minute, as I was preceding him down the narrow steps, a girl in a red coat trimmed with chinchilla and in a red toque with some of the same fur blocked our way as she was coming up.
We looked at each other. You've seen two peacocks spread their tails and strut as they pass each other? Well, the peacock coming up wasn't in it with the one going down. Her coat wasn't so fine, nor so heavy, nor so newly, smartly cut. Her toque wasn't so big nor so saucy, and the fur on it--not to mention that the descending peacock was a brunette and . . . well, Mag, I had my day. Miss Evelyn Kingdon paid me back in that minute for all the envy I've spent on that pretty rig of hers.
She didn't recognize me, of course, even though the two red coats were so near, as she stopped to let me pass, that they kissed like sisters, ere they parted. But, Mag, Nancy Olden never got haughty that there wasn't a fall waiting for her. Back of Miss Kingdon stood Mrs. Kingdon--still Mrs. Kingdon, thanks to Nance Olden--and behind her, at the foot of the steps, was a frail little old-fashioned bundle of black satin and old lace. I lost my breath when the Bishop hailed his wife.
"Maria," he said--some men say their wives' first names all the years of their lives as they said them on their wedding-day--"I want you to meet Miss Olden--Nance Olden, the comedian. She's the girl I wanted for my daughter--you'll remember, it's more than a year ago now since I began to talk about her?"
I held my breath while I waited for her answer. But her poor, short-sighted eyes rested on my hot face without a sign.
"It's an old joke among us," she said pleasantly, "about the Bishop's daughter."
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