« AnteriorContinua »
Nordont was a very grand woman; her parties, when she condescended to give one, were magnificent affairs. Of course it would not do to offend “my lady" by not accepting her kind invitation, still less to appear unsuitably dressed. Unfortunately, we had no chests of rare yellow laces and exquisite old silks to bring forward on this important occasion, story-book fashion.
Ett had been blessed in some remote period with a lovely blue silk; we turned, brushed, and cut it low in the neck (I vever saw a prettier neck than Ett's, so white, with cunning little dimples in the plump shoulders), and covered it with fairy puffs of wbite tulle. It was completely modernized. I don't believe even one im. agined that lovely evening dress to be, at least, ten years old.
“Now, girlie,” said mamma, fushed and pleased with our marvellous success, “what will you wear ??'
“My white muslin; nothing else, 13 there ? And as an original finish you can tack on a card labelled 'sweet simplicity.'
In spite of my sarcasm the dress looked fresh and cool, with its tiny fluted ruftics, and the neck trimmed with rich old lace.
“My lady" sent her carriage. We went in state. Mrs. Mordont had several friends up from the city, and to my unsophisticated eyes the ladies seemed to be all trains and shoulders.
At Mrs. Mordont's I first met Bar Eaton, just through college, handsome as Adonis when Venus proved him. The acquaintance was followed rapidly up, and I was soon in that laud of Beulah called courtship.
Three months passed, and one evening Bur slipped the flashing diamonds on my plump forefinger, and I protoised to become his wife in the fall. “That is,” I had said, half laughing, “if I don't find some one I like better.” And Bur had clasped my hands tightly, telling me never to come back to him “my vows forgot, my faith forswore."
I did not stop to analyze my heart, but thought it rather delightful to have an agreeable young gentleman completely at my service. And last, but not least, we were going to Europe-Europe, that land of my dreamos! The last of May we received a letter from my Auut Sherwood, desiring one of us to come and spend a morth with her.
“It must be you;" and mamma placed her plump hand on my dark braids. “My girlie must get back her roses before she leaves the old home nest for the flight over the water."
So it was decided that I should spend a month way up among the granite hills. One morning I found myself on board the express train eastward bound. Directly in front of me sat a fat red-faced woman, trying to quiet a struggling baby. I never saw such contortions, or heard such horrible bowls and unearthly screams as that baby uttered. I tried to read, but gave up in despair, and resigned myself to my fate. After an eight hours' ride the conductor screamed “Earlton" in an angry voice, as if such a little out-of-the-way place was a personal affront.
As I had not stated on what day I should arrive, there was no one at the station to meet me. I took a seat in the rambling 'bus, and ten minutes after was deposited in front of a brown house.
I walked slowly up the clear gravel walk, and concluded aunt must be fond of flowers. Why, it was flowers, flowers, flowers ! Wherever a rose could climb, wherever a flowering shrub could grow, there it was. I knocked several times, but no one answered my summons. In some of the upper regions I could hear a bell ringing ferociously. I opened the hall door, and walked up the staircase in the direction of that frantic beli. Everything was old and dingy, the upper hall had no carpet, and the wall paper looked as if it had been on since the year one.
“Who is there ?" asked a faint voice. I pushed open a half-closed door.
“My dear aunt !" I exclaimed, as, with outstretched hands, I walked hastily up to a plump figure reposing in an invalid's chair.
“Don't! You annoy me." I felt as if I had been suddenly dipped in cold water. "I presume you are my sister's daughter Rosamond ? Pray remove your bat and be seated."
I thought her rather cool, but concluded to make the best of it, so I sat down and surveyed the room.
Yon crushed brilliant summer blossoms in the mosslike carpet. A great bay window was filled with beautiful flowering plants. It did not seem possible that this luxurious room could belong to the house.
On a little round table at my aunt's side stood a fragile bubble-like glass, and a slender-necked bottle filled with golden wine, that sparkled and glowed like iinprisoned sunshine, a basket of delicious fruit, and some fragrant flowers. My aunt suddenly opened her eyes.
"I presume you can make herb tea, and attend to the sick?”
“I will do my best. How long have you been illy"
“Ill! Why, for years! Some chronic disease; never expect to get well.” And aunt looked as if she rather enjoyed the situation. “I should thiuk," reproachfully, “ you could have visited me before.”
I respectfully hinted that our letters had not been answered.
“ Robert wished to write, but I would not allow it; wanted to write myself. Dreadful bore-letter-writing!"
There was a slow step on the stairs.
“The doctor!" whispered my aunt, suddenly becoming limp, gasping, and opening her mouth.
I grasped the fan, fully confident aunt was going into a ft. “How are
we to-day, eh?” And the white-headed doctor eyed aunt in an odd manner.
“Poorly, poorly!" sighed aunt.
“Your niece, madam ?” nodding his head toward me.
“Yes. I am glad she is here; Robert has been so negligent"
The doctor looked savage.
“ You have one of the best sons God ever made!” he exclained, testily. “ Young lady, just step down to the parlor with me."
I followed him down to the shabby little parlor.
“Well, young lady, what do you think of your aunt?”
I sagely replied I was not prepared to say.
“Well, I am; she is just about as much sick as a cat's foot!"
“Goodness!" I exclaimed, in my astonishment.
“It's the truth." And he went to mopping his face with a huge handkerchief. “She had all the doctors in creationtaken barrels of patent medicine! All under the lieavens she needs is fresh air and exercise! Got one of the best sons that ever the Lord made-should think she would torment the life out of him. Most dreadful womau I ever saw!"
I sat and stared in belpless astonishment.
“Do you know anything?” he suddenly inquired.
I glared. He had evidevtly taken me for an idiot.
“I guess you do." And he grinned in a very amiable manner. * Thought I'd better tell you, so you would know how to take your aunt's nonsense. She has got an awful temper-terrible! But you must stay just as long as you can-do lots of good, if you are strong and will use common sense. Son always shabby good-tempered; takes after his father. Every child in the town loves him, every man and woman respects the pastor. It's too bad, too bad! I'd do anything I could for the poor boy.” And the doctor sighed and stared at me helplessly.
Just then the bell rang frantically. I darted up stairs, the doctor trudged off.
“What did make you so long? I want you to go down immediately and prepare ino some poached eggs, cream toast, chocolate, and I think I could eat a bit of cold chicken; there is cooked where."
I started down the stairs, and met a gentleman coming up. He looked at me curiously, and doffed his hat with a polite “good-evening."
• Why, Robert, is it possible you are so forgelful ?” I exclaimed, laughing.
“ Can this be the little curly-headed Rosamond I saw ten years ago ?” looking at me flushed and eager.
“Of course it is, you foolish boy!" And I laughed, blushed, and tried to choke down the lump in my throat, as I looked at his tired eyes and the odd little wrinkles interlacing his forehead, and the threadbare clothes.
“Why, you have not been to your room !" looking at my dusty travelling-dress. “Come, let me show you the way."
“ Not-not just now, if you please; I am going to make aunt some cream toast and chocolate."
His face fushed.
"Do you go to your room immediately!" And with a playful show of authority he led me to the door.
I brushed my hair, bathed my grimy face and lands, donned a cool dress, and descended to the kitchen.
“Why, Robert, do the fairies help you ?" I exclaimed, glaucing admiringly at the
delicately browned toast, delicious poached turned to consciousness I was tightly eggs and fragrant chocolate.
clasped in Robert's arms. “Of course they do!' And he laughed “Robert Sherwood, are you crazy?”' I and reddened.
exclaimed. I had just finished my chocolate when I “ I couldn't help it, you looked so white was summoned up to my aunt's room. and still! And I love you! O my dar
“I wish you to make me some herb tea, ling!” a mustard plaster, and I think I had better “Let me go-let me go! Don't you have a poultice for my left lung, and a hot know that I am engaged to be married ?” footbath."
“ ( Rosamond !" I started meekly down the stairs.
“I am. This is my ring;" holding it up “Rosamond," aunt called, “ bring up rebukefully. that cure for all human ills, the cod- “Forgive me, Rosamond; I did not tl:ink liver oil box of pills, and the powders and of such a thing. You will not be angry -and- Well, perhaps that will do this with me?”' wishfully. time."
“No, you foolish boy!" ** Perhaps that would do!” I wondered We went silently home in the purple what on earth my aunt was made of, and twilight. felt thankful that she was only my dear The next morning I went back to Bmamma's half sister.
I found mamina and Ett deep in the charmPresently Robert and I went up laden ing mystery of my wedding trousseau. with cups, bottles, plasters, poultices, and Nothing satistied me; I really think I goodness only knows what. The herb tea missed my daily pilgrimage up and down was too cold, the footbath too hot, the stairs. poultice too thick, the plaster too thin, the One evening Ett had been reading pills bitter, and the “cure for all human Owen Meredith," in her sweet low voice, ills" nasty - it certainly looked nasty and I sat dreaming over the words: enough.
“My thinking of her, or the music's strain, All trials and tribulations must end some
Or something which never will be expressed, time, and at last aunt was deposited safe
Has brought her back from the grave again, in bed, much to my delight.
With the jasmine in her breast. I never could have endured the next She is not dead, and she is not wed I month without Robert. “I was up stairs,
But she loves me now, and she loved me then;
And the very first words that her sweet lips said, and down stairs, and in my lady's cham
My heart grew youthful again. ber." O, the horrible messes that I stewed But O, the smell of that jasmine flower! up under my aunt's directions! At the end And 0, that music1 and 0, the way of the month I excelled in making herb
That voice rang out from the donjon tower, tea and plasters. The parlor rejoiced in a
Non ti seordar di me!
"Non ti seordar di me!'” pretty new carpet, cool white curtains, and a few pictures. Robert had lost the old A boy came hastily up the walk with a tired look, and the ugly little wrinkles brown envelop in his hand. were fast disappearing. The last evening “Despatch, ma'am!” And he gave it to of my visit, the doctor came driving up with his prancing bays.
O, the merciless brevity of that tele“Young lady, march and get your hat!
grain! You and Robert are going for a drive.”
“ R. Sherwood died this morning. FuI meekly obeyed, and Robert and I were
neral three o'clock Thursday.” 800n rolling over the smooth country road, past cool farmhouses and through fragrant The room seemed to dance. I would lanes. Robert was unusually silent, and I nol-I must not faint. With dry lips I lightly shook the ribbons.
whispered, “ He is dead, he is dead-dead!" * Gently, gently, Rosamond !” exclaimed I stared at the horrible flowers on mamma's Robert.
fan; there never was, never would be, such But it was too late; the high-mettled impossible roses. The lamp danced, and bays plunged madly down the rocky hill, all the ugly-ugly little carved griffins on and upset the light buggy. For the first the piano sang or seemed to sing the words time in my life I fainted. When I re- Ett had read but a moment before.
“And I think in the lives of most women and
men, There is a moment when all would run smooth
and even, If the dead could only And out when
To come back and be forgiven."
“ Ett," I could hear mamma say, you and I must go to-morrow morning. “Poor Ruby; how she will miss him !"
They go they go to my dead darling! Never! a thousand times never!
“I must go, mamma. I shall know just what to do. Aunt Ruby will want me."
Mamma deinurred at first, but presently concluded I should go, and alone.
That night I sent Bur Eaton back his diamonds. I could never marry him, I felt. The next evening I alighted at Earlton; the train had been delayed, and I walked swiftly through the purple dusk to Aunt Ruby's home.
I went up the walk into the little hall. The parlor door was open, and I could see
a bowed figure sitting at the window.
“Aunt! 0, Aunt Ruby!" I gasped.
The figure started up, tall—so tall! Was it, could it be? The next moment I had both arms clasped around Robert's neck.
“0, I thought you were dead-dead!" sobbing and clinging to him.
“Rosamond, my darling, what do you mean ?" clasping ine close, so close to his warm beating heart.
“That that horrible - horrible telegram!"
“Yes, I sent that horrible telegram, young lady,” chuckled the doctor's voice in the doorway. “Thought it would bring you.”
Poor Aunt Ruby was dead; she had ruptured a blood-vessel the morning before.
Two days after the funeral Robert accompanied me home, and in the golden October I was married, and the sun never looked on a happier bride.
A WONDERFUL GIRL, AND A WONDERFUL HAPPENING.
BY M. T. CALDOR.
Winnie's cheek, and what could be seen “MOTHER dear, I've something to say to of the face pressed close against her mothyou. Promise to hear it patiently and in- er's lap, crimsoned to a fiery hue beneath dulgently," said little Winnie Lermont, the impetuous tide that came surging from dropping down upon one knee beside the her heart, but she answered, hastily and easy-chair in which a pale weary-looking proudly: invalid was sitting, her head propped up “Now you have flown very wide indeed with pillows, and her eyes closed drearily. from the mark, mother mine. Harry War
The thin white hand crept fondly to the ner has made no such demand. He never graceful head, and smoothed tenderly the will, and if he were iuclined, I should not fluffy waves of silky brown hair.
listen to him." “Am I such an ogre that you are afraid The invalid could not restrain a deep to tell me your little troubles, Winnie ? Do sigh of relief, yet she returned, in an anxyou need my promise of indulgence ?'' Mrs. ious tone: Lermont asked, with a shade of gentle re- “I hope you have not quarrelled with proach in her low voice.
Harry, Winnie. I should be sorry to have “Ah, mother dear, but this is something my daughter vex by any idle caprice so startling-revolutionary. I never essayed kind a friend as young Warner has been.” anything so bold and daring before."
Winnie was silent; perhaps, however, And the girl still kept an averted face, the crimsoned cheek and downcast eye anthough westling her lead more closely to swered better than her tongue could bave the caressing band.
done. “ Harry Warner has asked for my one • You have quarrelled with Harry," said treasure. He will take you away from Mrs. Lerinont, decidedly. “ That accounts me !" cried out Mrs. Lermont, a stabbing for the restlessness and perturbation I inward pang sending its sharpness to her have noticed in you for the last few days. voice. “O Winnie, Winnie, that will be a Little Winnie, I am afraid you have been revolution indeed!"
& very foolish girl.”
Winnie flung back her head with a by but more the look on her daughter's face, no means ungraceful air of proud disdain, had given her a sudden and swift reveand laughed nervously as she returned, in lation. a tone of forced gayety:
“ Winnie, my poor child, have you been “Then it must be because my wise mam- bearing your load of grief and care alone ? ma has permitted herself to think up such Do you mean that all our money is gone? foolish ideas, and I have caught the conta- My sickness has made me heedless. I am gion. But, I assure you, I have been afraid I have been wickedly extravagant. meaning to be very wise, and earnest, and Winnie, is it to earn money that you must grave. And if you liave seen any signs of go ?” she asked, bitterly. agitation, it but foretells the eruption and “Yes, mamma," answered Winnie, wiprevolution of which I began to tell you. ing her drenched eyes, and smiling again, Hear it now, please, without any irrelevant bravely, “that is the long and short of it.
But indeed it's not so dreadful a bugbear “You are very much in earnest, Winnie, as one thinks. It is only that I am such a though you try to hide it under a gay tone. baby about leaving you. But we must I see it now. Tell it, wbatever it may be,
manage frequent meetings, and make the my child, tell it fearlessly."
most of then. And it will be such a comWinnie lifted her face now, and turned
fort to know you are getting well and her eyes frankly to meet her mother's
strong up in that grand mountain air. O searching look.
my darling mother! when you were so ill, “Mamma," she faltered, “I want your and I thought I might lose you, every other consent to my accepting Mrs. Aspinwall's trouble was light and trivial. We must offer to take me as governess for her chil- have you well and strong again; then perdren. Miss Simpson leaves next month, haps we shall be able to manage to have a and they will give me the chance if I de- home once more." cide this week."
“This must be given up, then ?" said Mrs. Lermont's face showed her dismay Mrs. Lermont, in a low voice. and surprise, and sbe exclaimed, inco- Her daughter flung her arms tenderly herently:
about her. “As a governess! you, Winnie Lermont! “I bave hid it from you as long as I Your father's daughter! Indeed, indeed! could. O mamma, bear it bravely! For this would be a revolution indeed!"
my sake, and poor little Ned's, keep up a Poor Winnie bit her lips fiercely to hide stout heart. Dear mother, promise me you their tremor. She kept a brave face, will not let it retard your recovery, or I though her heart was aching grievously. shall reproach myself for telling you.”
“It seems the best thing, considering • You need not do that, Winnifred. I everything, the very best thing that I can see plainly what a heroine you have been. ook for," she went on, firmly. “I shall You have kept a cheery face in my sickhave a moderate salary, and my boarding room, bearing all this anxiety in silence. expenses saved. They are kind people, My dear child, I hope I am not so weak as and will not abuse me. And there is no to shirk my share now. Tell me the whole gentleman cousin, brother or son, such as situation plainly, how our affairs stand. usually makes the tribulations of a gov- Are we badly in debt?" erness's life in the story books. That is • Not in debt yet, mother. There I am the bright part of it. The dark part is, my father's daughter truly.
While you and 0, it makes me shudder like a coward were so very sick—those terrible weeks of to think of it that I inust be separated doubt and trembling-I gave little heed, from you. O mamma, manıma, keep up and had in Susan Weeks to help, and she my courage! help me to bear it cheerfully, ordered what she pleased. I was aghast for indeed it is the only alternative before when I learned how much the grocer's bill us!"
and the butcher's account came to. But I And she suddenly seized her mother's did not hesitate about what should be hands, and covered them with passionate done. I let Mr. Jones have my piano, and
I took Ned away from the academy." Mrs. Lermont's face was convulsed with
“ Your piano gone! O my poor Wina spasm of grief. The few words binted,
nie!” groaned Mrs. Lermont.