Young, ingenuous Leila has arrived from the outback to the city where she is attending her first formal ball to which her friends, the Sheridan girls, have invited her. Aware of her lack of sophistication and isolation from having lived away from the city as well as from not having brothers as the other girls do, Leila overhears her cousins, the fraternal twins talking,
Laurie leaned forward and put his hand on Laura's knee. "Look here, darling," he said. "The third and the ninth as usual. Twig?"
Laura's brother has affectionately requested dances from his sister. All the girls have a small booklet with a ribbon which they hang from their wrists. Into this little booklet they record the names of the men who have asked to dance with them. Laurie has his name down for the third and ninth dance; by doing so, he can check with Laura to see if she is having a good time or if someone has been bothering her. Also, by his coming periodically, Laura does not appear to be a "wall flower" who has no one to ask her to dance very often.
In addition, this act of Laurie displays his fraternal affection along with his manly protective nature. "Oh, how marvellous to have a brother!" Leila, an only child, thinks as she has no one upon" whom to rely in this new social situation. Neither does anyone call her an affectionate sobriquet such as "Twig," nor does Leila have a dear sister who lifts her spirits by complimenting her hair as does Meg to her sibling Jose, "I've never known your hair go up more successfully than it has to-night!" Moreover, these acts of affection also provide the siblings with confidence, and nervous Leila certainly envies the other girls for the boost to their spirits that their siblings provide them.