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Lousiana by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Miss Ferrol forgot herself for the moment


style="text-align: justify;">She presented herself at the bed-room door with a timid knock the next morning before breakfast, evidently expecting to be taken charge of. Miss Ferrol felt sure she would appear, and had, indeed, dressed herself in momentary expectation of hearing the knock.

When she heard it she opened the door at once.

"I am glad to see you," she said. "I thought you might come."

A slight expression of surprise showed itself in the girl's eyes. It had never occurred to her that she might not come.

"Oh, yes," she replied. "I never could go down alone when there was any one who would go with me."

There was something on her mind, Miss Ferrol fancied, and presently it burst forth in a confidential inquiry.

"Is this dress very short-waisted?" she asked, with great earnestness.

Merciful delicacy stood in the way of Miss Ferrol's telling her how short-waisted it was, and how it maltreated her beautiful young body.

"It is rather short-waisted, it is true."

"Perhaps," the girl went on, with a touch of guileless melancholy, "I am naturally this shape."

Here, it must be confessed, Miss Ferrol forgot herself for the moment, and

expressed her indignation with undue fervor.

"Perish the thought!" she exclaimed. "Why, child! your figure is a hundred times better than mine."

Louisiana wore for a moment a look of absolute fright.

"Oh, no!" she cried. "Oh, no. Your figure is magnificent."

"Magnificent!" echoed Miss Ferrol, giving way to her enthusiasm, and indulging in figures of speech. "Don't you see that I am thin--absolutely thin. But my things fit me, and my dressmaker understands me. If you were dressed as I am,"--pausing to look her over from head to foot--"Ah!" she exclaimed, pathetically, "how I should like to see you in some of my clothes!"

A tender chord was touched. A gentle sadness, aroused by this instance of wasted opportunities, rested upon her. But instantaneously she brightened, seemingly without any particular cause. A brilliant idea had occurred to her. But she did not reveal it.

"I will wait," she thought, "until she is more at her ease with me."

She really was more at her ease already. Just this one little scrap of conversation had done that. She became almost affectionate in a shy way before they reached the dining-room.

"I want to ask you something," she said, as they neared the door.

"What is it?"

She held Miss Ferrol back with a light clasp on her arm. Her air was quite tragic in a small way.

"Please say 'Louise,' when you speak to me," she said. "Never say 'Miss Louisiana'--never--never!"

"No, I shall never say 'Miss Louisiana,'" her companion answered. "How would you like 'Miss Rogers?'"

"I would rather have 'Louise,'" she said, disappointedly.

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