The evening is drawing on again at Exeter, and Alice and her mother are in a little sitting room that opens on the porch. Mrs. Weston is fanning her daughter, who has been suffering during the day from headache. Miss Janet is there, too, and for a rare occurrence, is idle; looking from the window at the tall peaks of the Blue Ridge upon which she has gazed for many a year. Little Lydia stands by her side, her round eyes peering into Miss Janet's face, wondering what would happen, that she should be unemployed. They are awaiting Mr. Weston's return from an afternoon ride, to meet at the last and most sociable meal of the day.
"Miss Janet," said Lydia, "aint Miss Alice white?"
"Very pale," said Miss Janet, looking at Alice; then, with a sigh, turning to the mountains again.
"What makes her so white?" asked Lydia, in an under tone.
"She has had a headache all day. Be quiet, child," said Miss Janet.
After a moment, Lydia said, "I wish I could have de headache all de time."
"What do you say such a foolish thing as that for, Lydia?"
"'Kase I'd like to be white, like Miss Alice." Miss Janet did not reply. Again Lydia spoke, "If I was to stay all time in de house, and never go in de sun, would I git white?"
"No--no--foolish child; what gives you such ideas?"
There was another pause. Mrs. Weston fanned Alice, who, with closed eyes, laid languidly on the lounge.