30. CHAPTER THIRTY
Mrs. Chester fancied beforehand that it would be easy to
deliver this little speech, but when the time came, she found
it rather difficult to utter it naturally, with Amy's unsuspicious
eyes looking straight at her full of surprise and trouble.
"Amy felt that there was something behind this, but would
not guess what, and said quietly, feeling hurt, and showing that
she did, "Perhaps you had rather I took no table at all?"
"Now, my dear, don't have any ill feeling, I beg. It's
merely a matter of expediency, you see, my girls will naturally
take the lead, and this table is considered their proper place.
I think it very appropriate to you, and feel very grateful for
your efforts to make it so pretty, but we must give up our private
wishes, of course, and I will see that you have a good place
elsewhere. Wouldn't you like the flower table? The little girls
undertook it, but they are discouraged. You could make a charming
thing of it, and the flower table is always attractive you know."
"Especially to gentlemen," added May, with a look which enlightened
Amy as to one cause of her sudden fall from favor. She colored
angrily, but took no other notice of that girlish sarcasm,
and answered with unexpected amiability...
"It shall be as you please, Mrs. Chester. I'll give up my
place here at once, and attend to the flowers, if you like."
"You can put your own things on your own table, if you
prefer," began May, feeling a little conscience-stricken, as she
looked at the pretty racks, the painted shells, and quaint
illuminations Amy had so carefully made and so gracefully arranged.
She meant it kindly, but Amy mistook her meaning, and said quickly . ..
"Oh, certainly, if they are in your way," and sweeping her
contributions into her apron, pell-mell, she walked off, feeling
that herself and her works of art had been insulted past forgiveness.
"Now she's mad. Oh, dear, I wish I hadn't asked you to speak, Mama,"
said May, looking disconsolately at the empty spaces on her table.