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Lousiana by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Miss Ferrol began to replace the dresses in her trunk


"I

will show them to you," she said. "I--I should like you to try them on."

"To try them on!" ejaculated the child in an awe-stricken tone. "Me?"

"Yes," said Miss Ferrol, unlocking the trunk and throwing back the lid. "I have been wanting to see you in them since the first day you came."

She took them out and laid them upon the bed on their trays. Louise got up from the floor and approaching, reverently stood near them. There was a cream-colored evening-dress of soft, thick, close-clinging silk of some antique-modern sort; it had golden fringe, and golden flowers embroidered upon it.

"Look at that," said Miss Ferrol, softly--even religiously.

She made a mysterious, majestic gesture.

"Come here," she said. "You must put it on."

Louise shrank back a pace.

"I--oh! I daren't," she cried. "It is too beautiful!"

"Come here," repeated Miss Ferrol.

She obeyed timorously, and gave herself into the hands of her controller. She was so timid and excited that she trembled all the time her toilette was being performed for her. Miss Ferrol went through this service with the manner of a priestess officiating at an altar. She laced up the back

of the dress with the slender, golden cords; she arranged the antique drapery which wound itself around in close swathing folds. There was not the shadow of a wrinkle from shoulder to hem: the lovely young figure was revealed in all its beauty of outline. There were no sleeves at all, there was not very much bodice, but there was a great deal of effect, and this, it is to be supposed, was the object.

"Walk across the floor," commanded Miss Ferrol.

Louisiana obeyed her.

"Do it again," said Miss Ferrol.

Having been obeyed for the second time, her hands fell together. Her attitude and expression could be said to be significant only of rapture.

"I said so!" she cried. "I said so! You might have been born in New York!"

It was a grand climax. Louisiana felt it to the depths of her reverent young heart. But she could not believe it. She was sure that it was too sublime to be true. She shook her head in deprecation.

"It is no exaggeration," said Miss Ferrol, with renewed fervor. "Laurence himself, if he were not told that you had lived here, would never guess it. I should like to try you on him."

"Who--is he?" inquired Louisiana. "Is he a writer, too?"

"Well, yes,--but not exactly like the others. He is my brother."

It was two hours before this episode ended. Only at the sounding of the second bell did Louisiana escape to her room to prepare for dinner.

Miss Ferrol began to replace the dresses in her trunk. She performed her task in an abstracted mood. When she had completed it she stood upright and paused a moment, with quite a startled air.

"Dear me!" she exclaimed. "I--actually forgot about Ruskin!"


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