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10. CHAPTER X
THE house was haunted, long before evening. Shadows slipped down the walls and waited behind every chair.
Did that door move?
No. She wouldn't go to the Jolly Seventeen. She hadn't energy enough to caper before them, to smile blandly at Juanita's rudeness. Not today. But she did want a party. Now! If some one would come in this afternoon, some one who liked her--Vida or Mrs. Sam Clark or old Mrs. Champ Perry or gentle Mrs. Dr. Westlake. Or Guy Pollock! She'd telephone----
No. That wouldn't be it. They must come of themselves.
Perhaps they would.
She'd have tea ready, anyway. If they came--splendid. If not--what did she care? She wasn't going to yield to the village and let down; she was going to keep up a belief in the rite of tea, to which she had always looked forward as the symbol of a leisurely fine existence. And it would be just as much fun, even if it was so babyish, to have tea by herself and pretend that she was entertaining clever men. It would!
She turned the shining thought into action. She bustled to the kitchen, stoked the wood-range, sang Schumann while she boiled the kettle, warmed up raisin cookies on a newspaper spread on the rack in the oven. She scampered up-stairs to bring down her filmiest tea-cloth. She arranged a silver tray. She proudly carried it into the living-room and set it on the long cherrywood table, pushing aside a hoop of embroidery, a volume of Conrad from the library, copies of the Saturday Evening Post, the Literary Digest, and Kennicott's National Geographic Magazine.
She moved the tray back and forth and regarded the effect. She shook her head. She busily unfolded the sewing-table set it in the bay-window, patted the tea-cloth to smoothness, moved the tray. "Some time I'll have a mahogany tea-table," she said happily.
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