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HOME > Short Stories > Light O' The Morning > CHAPTER XXI. — THE ROSE-COLORED DRESS.
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 Meanwhile Molly rushed off to Nora. “Linda means mischief, and I must put my foot down immediately,” she said.  
“Why, Molly, what is up?”
“Put on your hat, darling, and come with me as fast as ever you can.”
“Where to?”
“Mother has given in about Stephanotie. Linda will put her finger in the pie if she possibly can. I mean Stephanotie to get her invitation within the next five minutes. Now, then, come along, Nora. Do be quick.”
Mrs. Hartrick never allowed the girls to go out except very neatly dressed; but on this occasion they were seen tearing down the road with their garden hats on and minus their gloves. Had anyone from The Laurels observed them, good-by to Molly's liberty for many a long day. No one did, however. Linda during the critical moment was closeted with her mother. When she reappeared the girls were halfway to the village. They reached it in good time, and arrived at the house of Miss Truefitt, Stephanotie's aunt.
Miss Truefitt was an old-fashioned and precise little lady. She had gone through a great deal of trouble since the arrival of her niece, and often, as she expressed it, did not know whether she stood on her head or her heels; but she was fond of Stephanotie, who, notwithstanding her wild ways, was very affectionate and very taking. And now, when she saw Molly and Nora appearing, she herself entered the hall and opened the door for them.
“Well, my dears,” she said, “Stephie is in her bedroom; she has a headache, and wanted to lie down for a little.”
“Oh, just let me run up to her. I won't keep her a minute,” said Molly.
“Come in here with me,” said Miss Truefitt to Nora. She opened the door of her neat little parlor. Nora entered. The room was full of gay pictures and gay books, and scattered here and there were very large boxes of bon-bons.
“How she can eat them all is what puzzles me,” said Miss Truefitt; “she seems to live on them. The quantity she demolishes would wreck the health of any English girl. Ah, here comes Molly.”
But Molly did not come downstairs alone; the American girl was with her. Stephanotie rushed into the room.
“I am going to The Laurels to-morrow, auntie. I am going quite early; this dear old Molly has asked me. You guess I'll have a good time. There will be a box of bon-bons for Nora, sweet little Irish Nora; and a box for dear little Molly, a true native of England, and a fine specimen to boot. Oh, we shall have a nice time; and I am so glad I am asked!”
“It is very kind of Mrs. Hartrick to send you an invitation, Stephie,” said her aunt.
“Oh, bother that, Aunt Violet! You know perfectly well she would not ask me if Molly and Nora had not got it out of her.”
“Well, we did try our best and most conoodling ways,” said Nora in a soft voice.
“Ah, didn't you, you little Irish witch; and I guess you won, too. Well, I'm going; we'll have a jolly lark with Linda. If for no other reason, I should be glad to go to upset her apple cart.”
“Dear me, Stephie! you are very coarse and vulgar,” said Miss Truefitt.
“Not a bit of it, auntie. Have a bon-bon, do.” Stephanotie rushed across the room, opened a big box of bon-bons, and presented one, as if it were a pistol, full in Miss Truefitt's face.
“Oh, no, thank you, my dear!” said that lady, backing; “the indigestion I have already got owing to the way you have forced your bon-bons upon me has almost wrecked my health. I have lost all appetite. Dear me, Stephie! I wish you would not be so dreadfully American.”
“The process of Englishizing me is a slow one,” said Stephanotie. She turned, walked up to the glass, and surveyed herself. She was dressed in rich brown velveteen, made to fit her lissome figure. Her hair was of an almost fiery red, and surrounded her face like a halo; her eyes were very bright china-blue, and she had a dazzlingly fair complexion. There were people who thought Stephanotie pretty; there were others who did not admire her at all. She had a go-ahead, very independent manner, and was the sort of girl who would be idolized by the weaker members of the school. Molly, however, was by no means a weak member of the school, nor, for that matter, was Nora, and they both took great pleasure out of Stephanotie.
“My bark is worse than my bite,” said that young person. “I am something like you, Molly. I am a bit of a scorcher; but there, when I am trained in properly I'll be one of the best of good creatures.”
“Well, you are booked for to-morrow now,” said Molly; “and Jehoshaphat! if you don't come in time—”
“Oh, Molly!” whispered Nora.
“There, I won't say it again.”
Poor Miss Truefitt looked much shocked. Molly and Nora bade her good-by, and nodded to Stephanotie, who stood upon the doorstep and watched them down the street; then she returned to her aunt.
“I did think,” said Miss Truefitt slowly, “that the girls belonging to your school were ladylike; but to come here without gloves, and that eldest girl, Miss Hartrick, to use such a shocking expression.”
“Oh, bless you, Aunt Vi! it's nothing to the expressions she uses at school. She's a perfect horror of a girl, and I like her for that very reason. It is that horrid little Linda would please you; and I must say I am sorry for your taste.”
Stephanotie went upstairs to arrange her wardrobe for the next day.
She had long wished to visit Molly's home. The Laurels was one of
the prettiest places in the neighborhood, and Molly and Linda were
considered as among the smartest girls at the school. Stephanotie wished
to be hand-and-glove with Molly, not because she was supposed to be
rich, or respectable, or anything else, but simply because her nature
fitted to that of the wild, enthusiastic American girl. But, all the
same, now that she had got the entrée, as she expressed it, of the
Hartricks' home, she intended to make a sensation.
 “When I do the thing I may as well do it properly,” she said to
herself. “I will make them open their eyes. I have watched Mrs. Hartrick
in church; and, oh dear me! have not I longed to give her a poke in the
back. And as to Linda, she thinks a great deal of her dress. She
does not know what mine will be when I take out my very best and most
fascinating gown.”
Accordingly Stephanotie rifled her trunk, and from its depths she produced a robe which would, as she said, make the members of The Laurels sit up. It was made of rose-colored silk, and trimmed with quantities of cream lace. The skirt had many little flounces on it, and each was edged with lace. The bodice was cut rather low in the neck, and the sleeves did not come down anything like as far as the wrists. The rose-colored silk with its cream lace trimmings was altogether t............
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