CHAPTER I. BEATRICE WILL FIT.
"So," continued Mrs. Meadowsweet, settling herself in a lazy, fat sort of a way in her easy chair, and looking full at her visitor with a complacent smile, "so I called her Beatrice. I thought under the circumstances it was the best name I could give—it seemed to fit all round, you know, and as he had no objection, being very easy-going, poor man, I gave her the name."
"Yes?" interrogated Mrs. Bertram, in a softly surprised, and but slightly interested voice; "you called your daughter Beatrice? I don't quite understand your remark about the name fitting all round."
Mrs. Meadowsweet raised one dimpled hand slowly and laid it on top of the other. Her smile grew broader.
"A name is a solemn thing, Mrs. Bertram," she continued. "A name is, so to speak, to fit the person to whom it is given, for life. Will you tell me how any mother, even the shrewdest, is to prophecy how an infant of a few weeks old is to turn out? I thought over that point a good deal when I gave the name, and said I to myself however matters turn 'Beatrice' will fit. If she grows up cozy and soft and petting and small, why she's Bee, and if she's sharp and saucy, and a bit too independent, as many lasses are in these days, what can suit her better than Trixie? And again if she's inclined to be stately, and to hold herself erect, and to think a little more of herself than her mother ever did—only not more than she deserves—bless her—why then she's Beatrice in full. Oh! and there you are, Beatrice! Mrs. Bertram has been good enough to call to see me. Mrs. Bertram, this is my daughter Beatrice."
A very tall girl came quietly into the room, bowed an acknowledgment of her mother's introduction, and sat down on the edge of the sofa. She was a dignified girl from the crown of her head to her finger-tips, and Mrs. Bertram, who had been listening languidly to the mother, favored the newcomer with a bright, quick, inquisitive stare, then rose to her feet.
"I am afraid I must say good-bye, Mrs. Meadowsweet. I am glad to have made your daughter's acquaintance, and another day I hope I shall see more of her. I have of course heard of you from Catherine, my dear," she added, holding out her hand frankly to the young girl.
"Yes. Is Catherine well?" asked Beatrice, in a sweet high-bred voice.
"She is well, my dear. Good-bye, Mrs. Meadowsweet. I quite understand the all-roundness and suitability of your choice in the matter of names."
Then the great lady sailed out of the room, and Beatrice flew to the window, placed herself behind the curtain and watched her down the street.
"What were you saying about me, mother?" she asked, when Mrs. Bertram had turned the corner.
"I was only telling about your name, my dearie girl. He always gave me my way, poor man, so I fixed on Beatrice. I said it would fit all round, and it did. Shut that window, will you, Bee?—the wind is very sharp for the time of year. You don't mind my calling you Bee now and then—even if it doesn't seem quite to fit?" continued Mrs....