They had reached the cottage where Dora lived. It was small, and stood in a diminutive but rather pretty flower-garden on a short, little used street immediately behind Dearing’s home. And when he had opened the sagging gate in the white paling fence, she preceded him into the low, vine-grown porch, and narrow, box-like hallway, from which she led him into the parlor, the room opposite to the chamber of the sick woman.
“Sit down, won’t you?” Dora said, in a weary tone, as she began to unfasten her hat. “I’ll tell her you are here.”
He took a seat in the bowed window of the plainly furnished room, and she brought a palm-leaf fan to him. “I’m sure my mother won’t keep you waiting long.” And with the look of abstraction deepening on her mobile face, she turned away.
A neat matting made of green and brown straw covered the floor, on which were placed rugs made of scraps of silk of various colors artistically blended. A carved rosewood table with a white marble top stood in the centre of the room, and on it rested a plush-covered photograph-album, a glass lamp with a fluted and knotched paper shade on a frame of wire, and a vase of freshly cut flowers. Between the two front windows, which, like their fellows, were draped in white lace curtains of the cheapest quality, stood Dora’s piano—a small, square instrument with sloping octagonal legs and lyre-shaped pedal-support. Against the wall near by leaned a time-worn easel, on which lay some torn and ragged sketches, a besmeared palette, and a handful of stubby, paint-filled brushes. The ceiling overhead was made of planks and painted light blue; the walls were plastered and whitewashed and ornamented by some really good family portraits in oil which had been done by Dora’s deceased father, who had been the town’s only artist. A Seth Thomas clock presided over a crude mantelpiece which was bare of any other ornament. The deep chimney was filled with pine-tops and cones, the uneven bricks of the hearth were whitewashed.
Dearing heard the girl’s returning step in the hallway, and then she looked in on him.
“She is sitting up,” Dora announced. “She wants you to come to her.”
As he entered the room across the hall Dora turned toward the kitchen in the rear, and he found himself facing her mother, a thin, gaunt woman about fifty years of age, who sat in a low rocking-chair near her bed, the latter orderly arranged under a spotlessly white coverlet and great snowy pillows.