New Munich were confused and bewildering
There were only one or two people who, more observant than communicative, noted that Mrs. Leitzel, though lazily good-humoured and apparently happy, had a strained expression in her large, soft eyes, a veiled, elusive look of trouble, almost of suffering.
Meantime, the people of New Munich were not more astonished than were Daniel's sisters themselves at the relation which they found themselves sustaining toward his wife. It had taken only a few days of association with Margaret to disarm them of their stiffness, suspicion, and jealousy of their brother's devotion to her. They found her so surprisingly willing to take second place in her husband's house, so disinclined to usurp any of the prerogatives which they had so long enjoyed (and which they knew most people would think should now be hers) that in spite of many things about her which they could not understand or approve, they presently succumbed to the subtle spell of her magnetism and her docility and became almost as enthusiastic about her as was Danny himself.
Long and earnest were the discussions they held in secret over her.
"Her clothes are so plain," lamented Sadie. "You could hardly call 'em such a trussoo, could you? All she's got is just her travelling suit with two silk waists, two house dresses, one afternoon dress, and two evening dresses. And her underclothes ain't fancy like a bride's. When I asked her to show me her wedding underclothes, she said she didn't get any new, she hadn't needed any! To be sure, what she has got is awful fine linen and hand embroidered, but it ain't made a bit fancy and no coloured ribbons at. All plain white," said Sadie in a tone of keen disappointment.
"And her evening dresses," said Jennie; "she says the lace on 'em she 'inherited.' putting old second-hand lace on your wedding outfit yet! I told her I'd anyhow think she'd buy new for her wedding outfit. And she said, 'But I couldn't afford to buy lace like this. My great-grandmother wore this lace on a ball gown.'"
"She ain't ashamed to say right out she can't afford this and that," said Sadie wonderingly.
"Well, to be sure, that's just to us, and we're her folks now. She'd know better than to say it outside."
"Well, I guess anyhow then!" Sadie fervently hoped.
"But it looks as if she didn't have much, don't it?"
"I'm afraid it does." Sadie shook her head.
"What I want to know is, did she or didn't she bring Danny anything?" Jennie worried.
"It's hard to say," sighed Sadie.
"I don't like to ask her right out, just yet anyhow. After a while I will mebby," said Jennie.
"She's wonderful genteel, the most genteel lady I ever saw," remarked Sadie. "And how she speaks her words so pretty! Buttah for butter; and haose for house. It sounds grand, don't it?"
"It's awful high-toned," Jennie granted. "I wonder what Hiram's Lizzie will have to say when she sees her once. Won't Lizzie look common anyhow, alongside of her?"
"Well, I guess!"
"Hiram will have more jealous feelings than ever when he sees what a genteel lady Danny picked out; ain't?"
"And that makes something, too, being high-toned that way; it makes near as much as money," said Jennie thoughtfully.
"Still, I don't believe Danny would have married her if she hadn't anything," Sadie speculated.
"Well, I guess not, too, mebby. I hope not. It's next Sabbath we're invited to Millerstown to spend the day at Hiram's, you mind?" she told Sadie; "if only you don't take the cold or have the headache," she added, insisting always upon regarding Sadie as an invalid to be coddled.
"You know, Jennie, Danny always says he has so ashamed for our Hiram's common table manners. I guess he won't like it, either, before Margaret that Hiram eats so common, for all he's a minister."
"Yes, well, but supposing she met Mom by chance, what would she think? Danny better consider of that before he worries over our Hiram."
"Yes, I guess, too," Sadie agreed.
Meantime, Margaret, during these first months after her marriage, was living through a succession of spiritual upheavals and epochs which, under a calm and even phlegmatic exterior, were completely hidden from those about her.
Her earliest impressions in her new and strange environment at the Leitzels' home in ; for so isolated and narrow had her life hitherto been, that vulgarity in any form had never, up to this time, touched or come nigh her, and she did not understand it, did not know how to meet or cope with it.
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