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Ethelyn's Mistake by Mary Jane Holmes

Part 2 out of 6

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winter, might perhaps adorn the walls of the parlor where Daisy's
picture hung, and where, Richard had said, was also an oil-painting of
Niagara, omitting to add that it was the handiwork of Melinda Jones,
that young lady having dabbled in paints as well as music during her two
terms schooling at Camden. Tucked away in various parts of the box were
also sundry presents, which, at Mrs. Dr. Van Buren's suggestion, Ethelyn
had bought for her husband's family. For James, who, she had heard
Richard say, was an inveterate smoker, there was a handsome velvet
smoking-cap which, having been bought at Saratoga, had cost an enormous
sum; for John, an expensive pair of elaborately wrought slippers had
been selected; but when it came to Anderson, as Ethelyn persisted in
calling the brother whom Richard always spoke of as Andy, she felt a
little perplexed as to what would be appropriate. Richard had talked
very little of him--so little, in fact, that she knew nothing whatever
of his tastes, except from the scrap of conversation she once
accidentally overheard when the old captain was talking to Richard of
his brothers.

"Does Andy like busts as well as ever?" the captain had asked, but
Richard's reply was lost as Ethelyn walked on.

Still, she had heard enough to give her some inkling with regard to the
mysterious Andy. Probably he was more refined than either James or
John--at all events, he was evidently fond of statuary, and his tastes
should be gratified. Accordingly, Boston was ransacked by Mrs. Dr. Van
Buren for an exquisite head of Schiller, done in marble, and costing
thirty dollars. Richard did not see it. The presents were a secret from
him, all except the handsome point-lace coiffure which Aunt Barbara
sent to Mrs. Markham, together with a letter which she had sat up till
midnight to write, and in which she had touchingly commended her darling
to the new mother's care and consideration.

"You will find my Ethie in some respects a spoiled child--[she wrote]
but it is more my fault than hers. I have loved her so much, and petted
her so much, that I have doubt if she knows what a harsh word or cross
look means. She has been carefully and delicately brought up, but has
repaid me well for all my pains by her tender love. Please, dear Mrs.
Markham, be very, very kind to her, and you will greatly oblige, your
most obedient servant,


"P.S. I dare say your ways out West are not exactly like our ways at the
East, and Ethie may not fall in with them at once, perhaps never with
some of them, but I am sure she will do what is right, as she is a
sensible girl. Again, yours with regret, B.B."

The writing of this letter was not perhaps the wisest thing Aunt Barbara
could have done, but she was incited to it by what her sister Sophia
told her of the rumors concerning Mrs. Markham, and her own fears lest
Ethelyn should not be as comfortable with the new mother-in-law as was
wholly desirable. To Richard himself she had said that she presumed that
his mother's ways were not like Ethie's--old people were different from
young ones--the world had improved since their day, and instead of
trying to bring young folks altogether to their modes of thinking, it
was well for both to yield something. That was the third time Richard
had heard his mother's ways alluded to; first by Mrs. Jones, who called
them queer; second, by Mrs. Dr. Van Buren, who, for Ethie's sake had
also dropped a word of caution, hinting that his mother's ways might
possibly be a little peculiar; and lastly by good Aunt Barbara, who
signalized them as different from Ethelyn's.

What did it mean, and why had he never discovered anything amiss in his
mother? He trusted that Mrs. Jones, and Mrs. Van Buren, and Aunt Barbara
were mistaken. On the whole, he knew they were; and even if they were
not his mother could not do wrong to Ethie, while Ethie would, of
course, be willing to conform to any request made by a person so much
older than herself as his mother was. So Richard dismissed that subject
from his mind, and Ethelyn--having never heard it agitated, except that
time when, with Mrs. Jones on his mind, Richard had thought proper to
suggest the propriety of her humoring his mother--felt no fears of Mrs.
Markham, senior, whom she still associated in her mind with heavy black
silk, gold-bowed spectacles, handsome lace and fleecy crochet-work.

The October morning was clear and crisp and frosty, and the sun had not
yet shown itself above the eastern hills, when Captain Markham's
carryall drove to Aunt Barbara's gate, followed by the long
democratic-wagon which was to take the baggage. Ethelyn's spoiled
traveling dress had been replaced by a handsome poplin, which was made
in the extreme of fashion, and fitted her admirably, as did every
portion of her dress, from her jaunty hat and dotted lace veil to the
Alexandre kids and fancy little gaiters which encased her feet and
hands. She was prettier even than on her bridal day, Richard thought, as
he kissed away the tears which dropped so fast even after the last
good-by had been said to poor Aunt Barbara, who watched the flutter of
Ethie's veil and ribbons as far as they could be seen, and then in the
secrecy of her own room knelt and prayed that God would bless and keep
her darling, and make her happy in the new home to which she was going.

It was very quiet and lonely in the Bigelow house that day, Aunt Barbara
walking softly and speaking slowly, as if the form of someone dead had
been borne from her side, while on the bed, which the housemaid Betty
had made so plump and round there was a cavity made by Aunt Barbara's
head, which hid itself there many times as the good woman went
repeatedly to God with the pain gnawing so at her heart. But in the
evening, when a cheerful wood fire was kindled on the hearth of her
pleasant sitting room, while Mrs. Captain Markham came in with her
knitting work, to sit until the Captain called for her on his return
from the meeting where he was to oppose with all his might the building
of a new schoolhouse, to pay for which he would be heavily taxed, she
felt better, and could talk composedly of the travelers, who by that
time were nearing Rochester, where they would spend the night.

Although very anxious to reach home, Richard had promised that Ethelyn
should only travel through the day, as she was not as strong as before
her illness. And to this promise he adhered, so that it was near the
middle of the afternoon of the fifth day that the last change was made,
and they took the train that would in two hours' time deposit them at
Olney. At Camden, the county seat, they waited for a few moments. There
was always a crowd of people here going out to different parts of the
country, and as one after another came into the car Richard seemed to
know them all, while the cordial and rather noisy greeting which they
gave "the Judge" struck Ethelyn a little oddly--it was so different from
the quiet, undemonstrative manner to which she had been accustomed. With
at least a dozen men in shaggy overcoats and slouched hats she shook
hands with a tolerably good grace, but when there appeared a tall, lank,
bearded young giant of a fellow, with a dare-devil expression in his
black eyes and a stain of tobacco about his mouth, she drew back, and to
his hearty "How are ye, Miss Markham? Considerable tuckered out, I
reckon?" she merely responded with a cool bow and a haughty stare,
intended to put down the young man, whom Richard introduced as "Tim
Jones," and who, taking a seat directly in front of her, poured forth a
volley of conversation, calling Richard sometimes "Dick," sometimes
"Markham," but oftener "Squire," as he had learned to do when Richard
was justice of the peace in Olney. Melinda, too, or "Melind," was
mentioned as having been over to the "Squire's house helping the old
lady to fix up a little," and then Ethelyn knew that the "savage" was
no other than brother to Abigail Jones, deceased. The discovery was not
a pleasant one, and did not tend to smooth her ruffled spirits or lessen
the feeling of contempt for Western people in general, and Richard's
friends in particular, which had been growing in her heart ever since
the Eastern world was left behind and she had been fairly launched upon
the great prairies of the Mississippi Valley. Richard was a prince
compared with the specimens she had seen, though she did wonder that he
should be so familiar with them, calling them by their first names, and
even bandying jokes with the terrible Tim Jones spitting his tobacco
juice all over the car floor and laughing so loudly at all the "Squire"
said. It was almost too dreadful to endure, and Ethelyn's head was
beginning to ache frightfully when the long train came to a pause, and
the conductor, who also knew Judge Markham, and called him "Dick,"
screamed through the open door "O-l-ney!"

Ethelyn was at home at last.



They were very peculiar, and no one knew this better than Mrs. Jones and
her daughter Melinda, sister and mother to the deceased Abigail and the
redoubtable Tim. Naturally bright and quick-witted, Melinda caught
readily at any new improvement, and the consequence was that the Jones
house bore unmistakable signs of having in it a grown-up daughter whose
new ideas of things kept the old ideas from rusting. After Melinda came
home from boarding-school the Joneses did not set the table in the
kitchen close to the hissing cook stove, but in the pleasant dining
room, where there gradually came to be crocheted tidies on the backs of
the rocking-chairs, and crayon sketches on the wall, and a pot of
geraniums in the window, with a canary bird singing in his cage near by.
At first, Mrs. Markham, who felt a greater interest in the Joneses than
in any other family--Mrs. Jones being the only woman in the circle of
her acquaintance to whom she would lend her copper boiler--looked a
little askance at these "new-fangled notions," wondering how "Miss Jones
expected to keep the flies out of her house if she had all the doors
a-flyin' three times a day," and fearing lest Melinda was getting
"stuck-up notions in her head, which would make her fit for nothing."

But when she found there were no more flies buzzing in Farmer Jones'
kitchen than in her own, and that Melinda worked as much as ever, and
was just as willing to lend a helping hand when there was need of haste
at the Markham house, her anxiety subsided, and the Joneses were welcome
to eat wherever they chose, or even to have to wait upon the table, when
there was company, the little black boy Pete, whom Tim had bought at a
slave auction in New Orleans, whither he had gone on a flatboat
expedition two or three years before. But she never thought of
introducing any of Melinda's notions into her own household. She "could
not fuss" to keep so many rooms clean. If in winter time she kept a fire
in the front room, where in one corner her own bed was curtained off,
and if in summer she always sat there when her work was done, it was all
that could be required of her, and was just as they used to do at her
father's, in Vermont, thirty years ago. Her kitchen was larger than Mrs.
Jones', which was rather uncomfortable on a hot day when there was
washing to be done; the odor of the soap-suds was a little sickening
then, she admitted, but in her kitchen it was different; she had had an
eye to comfort when they were building, and had seen that the kitchen
was the largest, airiest, lightest room in the house, with four windows,
two outside doors, and a fireplace, where, although they had a stove,
she dearly loved to cook just as her mother had done in Vermont, and
where hung an old-fashioned crane, with iron hooks suspended from it.
Here she washed, and ironed, and ate, and performed her ablutions in the
bright tin basin which stood in the sink near to the pail, with the
gourd swinging in the top, and wiped her face on the rolling towel and
combed her hair before the clock, which served the double purpose of
looking-glass and timepiece. When company came--and Mrs. Markham was not
inhospitable--the east room, where the bed stood, was opened; and if the
company, as was sometimes the case, chanced to be Richard's friends, she
used the west room across the hall, where the chocolate-colored paper
and Daisy's picture hung, and where, upon the high mantel, there was a
plaster image of little Samuel, and two plaster vases filled with
colored fruit. The carpet was a very pretty Brussels, but it did not
quite cover the floor on either side. It was a small pattern, and on
this account had been offered a shilling cheaper a yard, and so the
economical Mrs. Markham had bought it, intending to eke out the
deficiency with drugget of a corresponding shade; but the merchant did
not bring the drugget, and the carpet was put down, and time went on,
and the strips of painted board were still uncovered, save by the
straight row of haircloth chairs, which stood upon one side, and the
old-fashioned sofa, which had cost fifty dollars, and ought to last at
least as many years. There was a Boston rocker, and a center table, with
the family Bible on it, and a volume of Scott's Commentaries, and
frosted candlesticks on the mantel and two sperm candles in them, with
colored paper, pink and green, all fancifully notched and put around
them, and a bureau in the corner, which held the boys' Sunday shirts and
Mrs. Markham's black silk dress, with Daisy's clothes in the bottom
drawer, and the silver plate taken from her coffin. There was a
gilt-framed looking-glass on the wall, and blue paper curtains at the
windows, which were further ornamented with muslin drapery. This was the
great room--the parlor--where Daisy had died, and which, on that
account, was a kind of sacred place to those who held the memory of that
sweet, little prairie blossom as the dearest memory of their lives. Had
she lived, with her naturally refined tastes, and her nicety of
perceptions, there was no guessing what that farmhouse might have been,
for a young girl makes a deal of difference in any family. But she died,
and so the house, which when she died, was not quite finished, remained
much as it was--a large, square building, minus blinds, with a wide
hall in the center opening in front upon a broad piazza, and opening
back upon a stoop, the side entrance to the kitchen. There was a picket
fence in front; but the yard was bare of ornament, if we except the
lilac bushes under the parlor windows, the red peony in the corner, and
the clumps of violets and daisies, which grew in what was intended for
borders to the walk, from the front gate to the door. Sometimes the
summer showed here a growth of marigolds, with sweet peas and china
asters, for Andy was fond of flowers, and when he had leisure he did a
little floral gardening; but this year, owing to Richard's absence,
there had been more to do on the farm, consequently the ornamental had
been neglected, and the late autumn flowers which, in honor of Ethelyn's
arrival, were standing in vases on the center table and the mantel, were
contributed by Melinda Jones, who had been very busy in other portions
of the house working for the bride.

She could do this now without a single pang of jealousy, for she was a
sensible girl, and after a night and a day of heaviness, and a vague
sense of disappointment, she had sung as merrily as ever, and no one was
more interested in the arrival of Richard's bride than she, from the
time when Richard started eastward for her. Between herself and her
mother there had been a long, confidential conversation, touching Mrs.
Markham's ways and the best means of circumventing them, so that the new
wife might not be utterly crushed with homesickness and surprise when
she first arrived. No one could manage Mrs. Markham as well as Melinda,
and it was owing to her influence wholly that the large, pleasant
chamber, which had been Richard's ever since he became a growing man,
was renovated and improved until it presented a very inviting
appearance. The rag carpet which for years had done duty, and bore many
traces of Richard's muddy boots, had been exchanged for a new
ingrain--not very pretty in design, or very stylish either, but
possessing the merit of being fresh and clean. To get the carpet Melinda
had labored assiduously, and had enlisted all three of the brothers,
James, and John, and Andy in the cause before the economical mother
consented to the purchase. The rag carpet, if cleaned and mended, was as
good as ever, she insisted; and even if it were not, she could put on
one that had not seen so much actual service. It was Andy who finally
decided her to indulge in the extravagance urged by Melinda Jones. There
were reasons why Andy was very near to his mother's heart, and when he
offered to sell his brown pony, which he loved as he did his eyes, his
mother yielded the point, and taking with her both Mrs. Jones and
Melinda, went to Camden, and sat two mortal hours upon rolls of
carpeting while she decided which to take.

Mrs. Markham was not stingy with regard to her table; that was always
loaded with the choicest of everything, while many a poor family blessed
her as an angel. But the articles she ate were mostly the products of
their large, well-cultivated farm; they did not cost money directly out
of her hand, and it was the money she disliked parting with, so she
talked and dickered, and beat the Camden merchant down five cents on a
yard, and made him cut it a little short, to save a waste, and made him
throw in the thread and binding and swear when she was gone, wondering
who "the stingy old woman was." And yet the very day after her return
from Camden "the stingy old woman" had sent to her minister a loaf of
bread and a pail of butter, and to a poor sick woman, who lived in a
leaky cabin off in the prairie, a nice, warm blanket for her bed, with a
basket of delicacies to tempt her capricious appetite.

In due time the carpet had been made, Melinda Jones sewing up three of
the seams, while Andy, who knew how to use the needle almost as well as
a girl, claimed the privilege of sewing at least half a seam on the new
sister's carpet. Adjoining Richard's chamber was a little room where
Mrs. Markham's flour and meal and corn were kept, but which, with a
little fitting up, would answer nicely for a bedroom, and after an
amount of engineering, which would have done credit to the general of an
army, Melinda succeeded in coaxing Mrs. Markham to move her barrels and
bags, and give up the room for Ethelyn's bed, which looked very nice and
inviting, notwithstanding that the pillows were small, and the bedstead
a high poster, which had been in use for twenty years. Mrs. Markham knew
all about the boxes, as she called them. There was one in Mrs. Jones'
front chamber, but she had never bought one, for what then would she do
with her old ones--"with them laced cords," so greatly preferable to the
hard slats, which nearly broke her back the night she slept on some at a
friend's house in Olney.

Richard was fond of books, and had collected from time to time a
well-selected library, which was the only ornament in his room when
Melinda first took it in hand; but when she had finished her work--when
the carpet was down, and the neat, white shades were up at the windows;
when the books which used to be on the floor and table, and chairs, and
mantel, and window sills, and anywhere, were neatly arranged in the very
respectable shelves which Andy made and James had painted; when the
little sewing chair designed for Ethelyn was put before one window, and
Richard's arm-chair before the other, and the drab lounge was drawn a
little into the room, and the bureau stood corner-ways, with a bottle of
cologne upon it, which John had bought, and a pot of pomade Andy had
made, and two little pink and white mats Melinda had crocheted, the room
was very presentable. Great, womanish Andy was sure Ethelyn would be
pleased, and rubbed his hands jubilantly over the result of his labors,
while Melinda was certainly pardonable for feeling that in return for
what she had done for Richard's wife she might venture to suggest that
the huge box, marked piano, which for ten days had been standing on the
front piazza, be opened and the piano set up, so that she could try its
tone. This box had cost Andy a world of trouble, keeping him awake
nights, and taking him from his bed more than once, as he fancied he
heard a mysterious sound, and feared someone might be stealing the
ponderous thing, which it took four men to lift. With the utmost
alacrity he helped in the unpacking, nearly bursting a blood-vessel as
he tugged at the heaviest end, and then running to the village with all
his speed, to borrow Mrs. Crandall's piano key, which, fortunately,
fitted Ethelyn's, so that Melinda Jones was soon seated in state, and
running her fingers over the superb five-hundred dollar instrument,
Ethelyn's gift from Aunt Barbara on her nineteenth birthday.

Melinda's fingers were strained and cut with carpet thread, and pricked
with carpet tacks, and red with washing dishes, but they moved nimbly
over the keys, striking out with a will the few tunes she had learned
during her two quarters' instruction. She had acquired a great deal of
knowledge in a short time, for she was passionately fond of music, and
every spare moment had been devoted to it, so that she had mastered the
scales with innumerable exercises, besides learning several pieces, of
which Money-musk was one. This she now played with a sprightliness and
energy which brought Andy to his feet, while the cowhides moved to the
stirring music in a fashion which would have utterly confounded poor
Ethelyn could she have seen them. But Ethelyn was miles and miles away.
She was not coming for a week or more, and in that time Andy tried his
hand at Yankee Doodle, playing with one finger, and succeeding far
beyond his most sanguine expectations. Andy was delighted with the
piano, and so was Eunice, the hired girl, who left her ironing and her
dishes, standing with wiping towel or flatiron in hand, humming an
accompaniment to Andy's playing, and sometimes helping to find the
proper key to touch next.

Eunice was not an Irish girl, nor a German, nor a Scotch, but a
full-blooded American, and "just as good as her employers," with whom
she always ate and sat. It was not Mrs. Markham's custom to keep a girl
the year round, but when she did it was Eunice Plympton, the daughter of
the drunken fiddler who earned his livelihood by playing for the dances
the young people of Olney sometimes got up. He was anticipating quite a
windfall from the infair it was confidently expected would be given by
Mrs. Markham in honor of her son's marriage; and Eunice herself had
washed and starched and ironed the white waist she intended to wear on
the same occasion. Of course she knew she would have to wait and tend
and do the running, she said to Melinda, to whom she confided her
thoughts, but after the supper was over she surely might have one little
dance, if with nobody but Andy.

This was Eunice, and she had been with Mrs. Markham during the past
summer; but her time was drawing to a close. All the heavy work was
over, the harvests were gathered in, the soap was made, the cleaning
done, the house made ready for Richard's wife, and it was the
understanding that when that lady came and was somewhat domesticated,
Miss Eunice was to leave. There was not much to do in the winter, Mrs.
Markham said, and with Richard's wife's help she should get along. Alas!
how little Ethelyn was prepared for the home which awaited her, and for
the really good woman, who, on the afternoon of her son's arrival, saw
into the oven the young turkey which Andy had been feeding for so very
long with a view to this very day, and then helped Eunice set the table
for the expected guests.

It did occur to Mrs. Markham that there might be a great propriety in
Eunice's waiting for once, inasmuch as there were plates to change, and
custard pie and minced, and pudding, to be brought upon the table, for
they were having a great dinner, but the good woman did not dare hint at
such a thing, so the seven plates were put upon the table, and the china
cups brought from the little cupboard at the side of the chimney, and
the silver teapot, which was a family heirloom, and had been given Mrs.
Markham by her mother, was brought also and rubbed up with what Eunice
called a "shammy," and the pickles, and preserves, and honey, and cheese
and jellies, and the white raised biscuits and fresh brown bread, and
shredded cabbage and cranberry sauce, with golden butter, and pitchers
of cream, were all arranged according to Eunice's ideas. The turkey was
browning nicely, the vegetables were cooking upon the stove, the odor of
silver-skinned onions pervading the entire house. Eunice was grinding
the coffee, and the clock said it wanted but half an hour of car-time,
when Mrs. Markham finally left the kitchen and proceeded to make
her toilet.

Eunice's had been made some time ago, and the large-sized hoop she wore
had already upset a pail and dragged a griddle from the stove hearth,
greatly to the discomfiture of Mrs. Markham, who did not fancy hoops,
though she wore a small one this afternoon under her clean and
stiffly-starched dress of purple calico. St. Paul would have made her an
exception in his restrictions with regard to women's apparel, for
neither gold nor silver ornaments, nor braided hair, found any tolerance
in her. She followed St. Paul strictly, except at such times as the good
people in the Methodist church at the east end of the village held a
protracted meeting, when she deviated so far from his injunction as to
speak her mind and tell her experience.

She was a good and conscientious woman, practicing what she preached,
and believing more in the inner than the outer adorning; but she looked
very neat this afternoon in her purple calico, with a motherly white
apron tied around her waist, and her soft, silvery hair combed smoothly
back from her forehead and twisted in a knot behind, about the size of a
half dollar. This knot however, was hidden by the headdress which
Melinda had made from bits of black lace and purple ribbon, and which,
though not at all like Aunt Barbara's Boston caps, was still very
respectable, and even tasteful-looking. Almost too tasteful, Mrs.
Markham thought, as she glanced at the tiny artificial flower tucked in
among the bows of ribbon. But Mrs. Markham did not remove the flower,
for it was a daisy, and it made her think of the Daisy who died fourteen
years ago, and who, had she lived till now, would have been

"A married woman, most likely, and I might have been grandmother," Mrs.
Markham sighed, and then, as she heard in fancy the patter of little
feet at her side, and saw before her little faces with a look like Daisy
in them, her thoughts went softly out to Richard's bride, through whom
this coveted blessing might come to her quiet household, and her heart
throbbed with a quick sudden yearning for the young daughter-in-law,
now just alighting at the Olney station, for the Eastern train had come,
and James was there with the democrat-wagon to meet it.



Olney was a thriving, busy little town, numbering five hundred
inhabitants or thereabouts. It had its groceries, its dry goods stores,
and its two houses for public worship--the Methodist and
Presbyterian--while every other Sunday a little band of Episcopalians
met for their own service in what was called the Village Hall, where,
during week days, a small, select school was frequently taught by some
Yankee schoolmistress. It had its post office, too; and there was also
talk of a bank after the railroad came that way, and roused the people
to a state of still greater activity. On the whole, it was a pretty
town, though different from Chicopee, where the houses slept so
aristocratically under the shadow of the old elms, which had been
growing there since the day when our national independence was declared.

At home Ethelyn's pride had all been centered in Boston, and she had
sometimes thought a little contemptuously of Chicopee and its
surroundings; but the farther she traveled west the higher Chicopee rose
in her estimation, until she found herself comparing every prairie
village with that rural town among the hills, which seemed to give it
dignity, and made it so greatly superior to the dead levels of which she
was getting so weary. She had admired the rolling prairies at first,
but, tired and jaded with her long journey, nothing looked well to her
now--nothing was like Chicopee--certainly not Olney, where the dwellings
looked so new and the streets were minus sidewalks.

Ethelyn had a good view of it as the train approached it and even caught
a passing glimpse of the white house in the distance which Richard
pointed out as home, his face lighting up with all the pleasure of a
schoolboy as he saw the old familiar waymarks and felt that he was
home at last.

Dropping her veil over her face Ethelyn arose to follow her husband, who
in his eagerness to grasp the hand of the tall, burly young man he had
seen from the window, forgot to carry her shawl and her satchel, which
last being upon the car-rack, she tugged at it with all her strength,
and was about crying with vexation at Richard's thoughtlessness, when
Tim Jones, who while rolling his quid of tobacco in his great mouth, had
watched her furtively, wondering how she and Melind would get along,
gallantly came to her aid, and taking the satchel down kept it upon
his arm.

"Take care of that air step. Better let me help you out. Dick is so
tickled to see Jim that he even forgets his wife, I swan!" Tim said,
offering to assist her from the train; but with a feeling of disgust too
deep to be expressed, Ethelyn declined the offer and turned away from
him to meet the curious gaze of the young man whom Richard presented as
brother James.

He was younger than his brother by half a dozen years, but he looked
quite as old, if not older. His face and hands were sunburnt and brown,
his clothes were coarse, his pants were tucked into his tall, muddy
boots, and he held in his hands the whip with which he had driven the
shining bays, pricking up their ears behind the depot and eyeing askance
the train just beginning to move away. The Markhams were all
good-looking, and James was not an exception. The Olney girls called him
very handsome, when on Sunday he came to church in his best clothes and
led the Methodist choir; but Ethelyn only thought him rough, and coarse,
and vulgar, and when he bent down to kiss her she drew back haughtily.

"Ethelyn!" Richard said, in the low, peculiar tone, which she had almost
unconsciously learned to fear, just as she did the dark expression which
his hazel eyes assumed as he said the single word "Ethelyn!"

She was afraid of Richard when he looked and spoke that way, and putting
up her lip, she permitted the kiss which the warm-hearted James gave to
her. He was naturally more demonstrative than his brother, and more
susceptible, too; a pretty face would always set his heart to beating
and call out all the gallantry of his nature. Wholly unsophisticated, he
never dreamed of the gulf there was between him and the new sister, whom
he thought so beautiful--loving her at once, because she was so pretty,
and because she was the wife of Dick, their household idol. He was more
of a ladies' man than Richard, and when on their way to the
democratic-wagon they came to a patch of mud, through which Ethelyn's
skirts were trailing, he playfully lifted her in his strong arms, and
set her down upon the wagon-box, saying, as he adjusted her skirts: "We
can't have that pretty dress spoiled, the very first day, with
Iowa mud."

All this time Tim Jones had been dutifully holding the satchel, which he
now deposited at Ethelyn's feet, and then, at James' invitation, he
sprang into the hinder part of the wagon-box, and sitting down, let his
long limbs dangle over the backboard, while James sat partly in
Richard's lap and partly in Ethelyn's. It had been decided that the
democrat must come down again for the baggage; and so, three on a seat,
with Tim Jones holding on behind, Ethelyn was driven through the town,
while face after face looked at her from the windows of the different
dwellings, and comment after comment was made upon her pretty little
round hat, with its jaunty feather, which style had not then penetrated
so far west as Olney. Rumors there were of the Eastern ladies wearing
hats which made them look at least ten years younger than their actual
age; but Ethelyn was the first to carry the fashion to Olney, and she
was pronounced very stylish, and very girlish, too, by those who watched
her curiously from behind their curtains and blinds.

It was the close of a chill October day, and a bank of angry clouds hung
darkly in the western sky, while the autumn wind blew across the
prairie; but colder, blacker, chillier far than prairie winds, or
threatening clouds, or autumnal day was the shadow resting on Ethelyn's
heart, and making her almost cry out with loneliness and homesickness,
as they drew near the house where the blue paper curtains were hanging
before the windows and Eunice Plympton's face was pressed against the
pane. The daisies and violets and summer grass were withered and dead,
and the naked branches of the lilac bush brushed against the house with
a mournful, rasping sound, which reminded her of the tall sign-post in
Chicopee, which used to creak so in the winter wind, and keep her Aunt
Barbara awake. To the right of the house, and a little in the rear, were
several large, square corn-cribs, and behind these an inclosure in which
numerous cattle, and horses, and pigs were industriously feeding, while
the cobs, stripped, and soiled, and muddy, were scattered everywhere.
Ethelyn took it all in at a glance, exclaiming, in a smothered voice, as
the wagon turned into the lane which led to the side door, "Not here,
Richard; surely, not here!"

But Richard, if he heard her, did not heed her. He could not comprehend
her utter desolation and crushing disappointment. Her imaginings of his
home had never been anything like this reality, and for a moment she
felt as if in a kind of horrible nightmare, from which she struggled
to awake.

"Oh! if it were only a dream," she thought; but it was no dream, though
as Richard himself lifted her carefully from the wagon, and deposited
her upon the side stoop, there came a mist before her eyes, and for an
instant sense and feeling forsook her; but only for an instant, for the
hall door was thrown open, and Richard's mother came out to greet her
son and welcome her new daughter.

But alas for Ethelyn's visions of heavy silk and costly lace! How they
vanished before this woman in purple calico, with ruffles of the same
standing up about the throat, and the cotton lace coiffure upon her
head! She was very glad to see her boy and wound both her arms around
his neck, but she was afraid of Ethelyn. She, too, had had her ideal,
but it was not like this proud-looking beauty, dressed so stylishly,
and, as it seemed to her so extravagantly, with her long, full skirt of
handsome poplin trailing so far behind her, and her basque fitting her
graceful figure so admirably. Neither did the hat, rolled so jauntily on
the sides, and giving her a coquettish appearance, escape her notice,
nor the fact that the dotted veil was not removed from the white face,
even after Richard had put the little, plump hand in hers, and said:

"This, mother, is Ethie, my wife. I hope you will love each other for my

In her joy at seeing her pet boy again, Mrs. Markham would have done a
great deal for his sake, but she could not "kiss a veil," as she
afterwards said to Melinda Jones, when she reached the point where she
talked straight out about her daughter-in-law. No, she could not kiss a
veil, and so she only held and pressed Ethelyn's hand, and leading her
into the house, told her she was very welcome, and bade her come to the
fire and take off her things, and asked if she was not tired, and cold
and hungry.

And Ethelyn tried to answer, but the great lumps were swelling in her
throat, and so keen a pain was tugging at her heart that when at last,
astonished at her silence, Richard said, "What is the matter, Ethie--why
don't you answer mother?" she burst out in a pitiful cry:

"Oh, Richard, I can't, I can't; please take me back to Aunt Barbara."

This was the crisis, the concentration of all she had been suffering for
the last hour, and it touched Mrs. Markham's heart, for she remembered
just how wretched she had been when she first landed at the rude log
cabin which was so long her Western home, and turning to Richard, she
said, in an aside:

"She is homesick, poor child, as it's natural she should be at first.
She'll be better by and by, so don't think strange of it. She seems
very young."

In referring to her youth, Mrs. Markham meant nothing derogatory to her
daughter-in-law, though Ethelyn did strike her as very young, in her
pretty hat with her heavy hair low in her neck. She was finding an
excuse for her crying, and did not mean that Ethelyn should hear. But
she did hear, and the hot tears were dashed aside at once. She was too
proud to be petted or patronized by Mrs. Markham, or apologized for by
her, so she dried her eyes, and lifting her head, said proudly:

"I am tired to-night, and my head is aching so hard that I lost my
self-control. I beg you will excuse me. Richard knows me too well to
need an excuse."

A born duchess could not have assumed a loftier air, and in some
perplexity Mrs. Markham glanced from her to Richard, as if asking what
to do next. Fortunately for all parties, Andy just then came in with his
brother John, who approached his new sister with some little hesitation.
He had heard Tim Jones' verdict, "Stuck up as the old Nick," while even
cautious James had admitted his fears that Dick had made a mistake, and
taken a wife who would never fit their ways. And this was why John had
been so late with his welcome. He had crept up the back stairs, and
donned his best necktie, and changed his heavy boots for a pair of
shoes, which left exposed to view a portion of his blue yarn socks. He
had before changed his coat and vest, and tied on a handkerchief, but it
was not his best; not the satin cravat, with the pretty bow Melinda
Jones had made, and in which was stuck a rather fanciful pin he wore on
great occasions. He was all right now, and he shook hands with his new
sister, and asked if she were pretty well, and told her she was welcome,
and then stepped back for Andy, who had been making his toilet when the
bride arrived, and so was late with his congratulations.



Andy was a character in his way. A fall from his horse upon the ground
had injured his head when he was a boy, and since that time he had been
what his mother called a little queer, while the neighbors spoke of him
as simple Andy, or Mrs. Markham's half-wit, who did the work of a girl
and knit all his own socks. He was next to Richard in point of age, but
he looked younger than either of his brothers, for his face was round
and fair, and smooth as any girl's. It is true that every Sunday of his
life he made a great parade with lather and shaving-cup, standing before
the glass in his shirt-sleeves, just as the other boys did, and
flourishing his razor around his white throat and beardless face, to the
amusement of anyone who chanced to see him for the first time.

In his younger days, when the tavern at the Cross Roads was just opened,
Andy had been a sore trial to both mother and brothers, and many a
night, when the rain and sleet were driving across the prairies, Richard
had left the warm fireside and gone out in the storm after the erring
Andy, who had more than once been found by the roadside, with his hat
jammed into every conceivable shape, his face scratched, and a tell-tale
smell about his breath which contradicted his assertion "that somebody
had knocked him down."

Andy had been intemperate, and greatly given to what the old Captain in
Chicopee had designated as "busts"; but since the time when the church
missionary, young Mr. Townsend, had come to Olney, and held his first
service in the log schoolhouse, Andy had ceased to frequent the Cross
Roads tavern, and Richard went no more in the autumnal storms to look
for his wayward brother. There was something in the beautiful simplicity
of the church service which went straight to Andy's heart, and more than
all, there was something in Mr. Townsend's voice, and manner, and face,
which touched a responsive chord in the breast of the boyish Andy, and
when at last the bishop came to that section of Iowa, his hands were
first laid in blessing on the bowed head of Andy, who knelt to receive
the rite of confirmation in the presence of a large concourse of people,
to most of whom the service and ceremony were entirely new.

While rejoicing and thanking God for the change, which she felt was
wholly sincere, Mrs. Markham had deeply deplored the pertinacity with
which Andy had clung to his resolve to join "Mr. Townsend's church or
none." She did not doubt Mr. Townsend's piety or Andy's either, but she
doubted the Episcopalians generally because they did not require more
than God himself requires, and it hurt her sore that Andy should go with
them rather than to her church across the brook, where Father Aberdeen
preached every Sunday against the pride, and pomp, and worldliness
generally of his Episcopal brethren. Andy believed in Mr. Townsend, and
in time he came to believe heart and soul in the church doctrines as
taught by him, and the beautiful consistency of his daily life was to
his mother like a constant and powerful argument in favor of the church
to which he belonged, while to his brothers it was a powerful argument
in favor of the religion he professed.

That Andy Markham was a Christian no one doubted. It showed itself in
every act of his life; it shone in his beaming, good-natured face, and
made itself heard in the touching pathos of his voice, when he repeated
aloud in his room the prayers of his church, saying to his mother, when
she objected that his prayers were made up beforehand: "And for the
land's sake, ain't the sams and hims, which are nothing but prayers set
to music, made up beforehand? A pretty muss you'd have of it if
everybody should strike out for himself, a singin' his own words just as
they popped into his head."

Mrs. Markham was not convinced, but she let Andy alone after that,
simply remarking that "the prayer-book would not always answer the
purpose; there would come a time when just what he wanted was
not there."

Andy was willing to wait till that time came, trusting to Mr. Townsend
to find for him some way of escape; and so the matter dropped, and he
was free to read his prayers as much as he pleased. He had heard from
Richard that his new sister was of his way of thinking--that though not
a member of the church except by baptism, she was an Episcopalian, and
would be married by that form.

It was strange how Andy's great, warm heart went out toward Ethelyn
after that. He was sure to like her; and on the evening of the bridal,
when the clock struck nine, he had taken his tallow candle to his room,
and opening his prayer-book at the marriage ceremony, had read it
carefully through, even to the saying: "I, Richard, take thee, Ethelyn,"
etc., kneeling at the proper time, and after he was through even
venturing to improvise a prayer of his own, in which he asked, not that
Ethelyn might be happy with his brother--there was no doubt on that
point, for Richard was perfect in his estimation--but that "old Dick"
might be happy with her--that he, Andy, might do his whole duty by her,
and that, if it was right to ask it, she might bring him something from
that famous Boston, which seemed to him like a kind of paradise, and
also that she need not at once discover that he did not know as much as
"old Dick."

This was Andy's prayer, which he had confessed to Mr. Townsend; and now,
all shaven and shorn, with his best Sunday coat and a large bandanna in
his hand, he came in to greet his sister. It needed but a glance for
Ethelyn to know the truth, for Andy's face told what he was; but there
was something so kind in his expression and so winning in his voice, as
he called her "Sister Ethie," that she unbent to him as she had unbent
to no one else; and when he stooped to kiss her, she did not draw back
as she had from James and John, but promptly put up her lips, and only
winced a very little at the second loud, hearty smack which Andy gave
her, his great mouth leaving a wet spot on her cheek, which she wiped
away with her handkerchief.

Richard had dreaded the meeting between his polished wife and his simple
brother more than anything else, and several times he had tried to
prepare Ethelyn for it, but he could not bring himself to say, "Andy is
foolish"; for when he tried to do it Andy's pleading face came up before
him just as it looked on the morning of his departure from home in June,
when Andy had said to him: "Don't tell her what a shaller critter I am.
Let her find it out by her learning."

So Richard had said nothing particular of Andy, and now he watched him
anxiously, to see the impression he was making, and, as he saw Ethelyn's
manner, marveling greatly at this new phase in her disposition. She did
not feel half so desolate after seeing Andy, and she let him hold her
hand, which he stroked softly, admiring its whiteness, and evidently
comparing it with his own. All the Markhams had large hands and feet,
just as they were all good-looking. Even Andy had his points of beauty,
for his soft brown hair was handsomer, if possible, than Richard's, and
more luxuriant, while many a city dandy might have coveted his white,
even teeth, and his dark eyes were very placid and gentle in their

"Little sister" he called Ethelyn, who though not very short in stature,
seemed to him so much younger than he had expected Dick's wife to be
that he applied the term "little" as he would to anything which he
wished to pet.

Ethelyn's hat was laid aside by this time, and the basquine, too, which
Andy thought the prettiest coat he had ever seen, and which Eunice, who
was bidden to carry Ethelyn's things away, tried on before the glass in
Ethelyn's chamber, as she did also the hat, deciding that Melinda Jones
could make her something like them out of a gray skirt she had at home
and one of Tim's palm-leaf hats.



Eunice had not fully seen the stranger, and so, when dinner was
announced and Richard led her out, with Andy hovering at her side, she
stood ready to be introduced, with the little speech she had been
rehearsing about "I hope to see you well," etc., trembling on the tip of
her tongue. But her plans were seriously disarranged. Six months before
Richard would have presented her himself, as a matter of course; but he
had learned some things since then, and he tried not to see his mother's
meaning as she glanced from him to Eunice and then to Ethelyn, whose
proud, dignified bearing awed and abashed even her. Eunice, however, had
been made quite too much of to be wholly ignored now, and Mrs. Markham
felt compelled to say, "Ethelyn, this--ah, this is--Eunice--Eunice

That Eunice Plympton was the hired girl Ethelyn did not for a moment
dream; but that she was coarse and vulgar, like the rest of Richard's
family, she at once decided, and if she bowed at all it was not
perceptible to Eunice, who mentally resolved "to go home in the morning
if such a proud minx was to live there."

Mrs. Markham saw the gathering storm, and Richard knew by the drop of
her chin that Ethelyn had not made a good impression. How could she with
that proud cold look, which never for an instant left her face, but
rather deepened in its expression as the dinner proceeded, and one after
the other Mrs. Markham and Eunice left the table in quest of something
that was missing, while Andy himself, being nearest the kitchen, went to
bring a pitcher of hot water for Ethelyn's coffee, lifting the kettle
with the skirt of his coat, and snapping his fingers, which were
slightly burned with the scalding steam. From the position she occupied
at the table Ethelyn saw the whole performance, and had it been in any
other house she would have smiled at Andy's grotesque appearance as he
converted his coat skirts into a holder; but now it only sent a colder
chill to her heart as she reflected that these were Richard's people and
this was Richard's home. Sadly and vividly there arose before her
visions of dear Aunt Barbara's household, where Betty served so quietly
and where, except that they were upon a smaller scale, everything was as
well and properly managed as in Mrs. Dr. Van Buren's family. It was
several hours since she had tasted food, but she could scarcely swallow
a morsel for the terrible homesick feeling swelling in her throat. She
knew the viands before her were as nicely cooked as even Aunt Barbara or
Betty could have cooked them--so much she conceded to Mrs. Markham and
Eunice; but had her life depended upon it she could not have eaten them
and the plate which James had filled so plentifully scarcely diminished
at all. She did pick a little with her fork at the white, tender turkey,
and tried to drink her coffee, but the pain in her head and the pain at
her heart were both too great to allow of her doing more, and Mrs.
Markham and Eunice both felt a growing contempt for a dainty thing who
could not eat the dinner they had been at so much pains to prepare.

Ethelyn knew their opinion of her as well as if it had been expressed in
words; but they were so very far beneath her that whatsoever they might
think was not of the slightest consequence. They were a vulgar, ignorant
set, the whole of them, she mentally decided, as she watched their
manners at table, noticing how James and John poured their coffee into
their saucers, blowing it until it was cool, while Richard, feeling more
freedom now that he was again under his mother's wing, used his knife
altogether, even to eating jelly with it. Ethelyn was disgusted, and
once, as Richard's well-filled knife was moving toward his mouth, she
gently touched his foot with her own; but if he understood her he did
not heed her, and went quietly on with his dinner. Indeed, it might be
truly said of him that "Richard was himself again," for his whole manner
was that of a petted child, which, having returned to the mother who
spoiled it, had cast off the restraint under which for a time it had
been laboring. Richard was hungry, and would have enjoyed his dinner
hugely but for the cold, silent woman beside him, who, he knew, was
watching and criticising all he did; but somehow at home he did not care
so much for her criticisms as when alone with her at fashionable hotels
or with fashionable people. Here he was supreme, and none had ever
disputed his will. Perhaps if Ethelyn had known all that was in his
heart she might have changed her tactics and tried to have been more
conciliatory on that first evening of her arrival at his home. But
Ethelyn did not know--she only felt that she was homesick and
wretched--and pleading a headache, from which she was really suffering,
she asked to go to her room as soon as dinner was over.

It was very pleasant up there, for a cheerful wood fire was blazing on
the hearth, and a rocking-chair drawn up before it, with a footstool
which Andy had made and Melinda covered, while the bed in the little
room adjoining looked so fresh, and clean, and inviting, that with a
great sigh of relief, as the door closed between her and the "dreadful
people below," Ethelyn threw herself upon it, and burying her face in
the soft pillows, tried to smother the sobs which, nevertheless, smote
heavily upon Richard's ear when he came in, and drove from him all
thoughts of the little lecture he had been intending to give Ethelyn
touching her deportment toward his folks. It would only be a fair
return, he reflected, for all the Caudles he had listened to so
patiently, and duly strengthened for his task by his mother's remark to
James, accidentally overheard, "Altogether too fine a lady for us. I
wonder what Richard was thinking of," he mounted the stairs resolved at
least to talk with Ethie and ask her to do better.

Richard could be very stern when he tried, and the hazel of his eye was
darker than usual, and the wrinkle between his eyebrows was deeper as he
thus meditated harm against his offending wife. But the sight of the
crushed form lying so helplessly upon the bed and crying in such a
grieved, heart-sick way, drove all thoughts of discipline from his mind.
He could not add one iota to her misery. She might be cold, and proud,
and even rude to his family, as she unquestionably had been, but she was
still Ethie, his young wife, whom he loved so dearly; and bending over
her, he smoothed the silken bands of her beautiful hair and said to her
softly, "What is it, darling? Anything worse than homesickness? Has
anyone injured you?"

No one had injured her. On the contrary, all had met, or tried to meet
her with kindness, which she had thrust back upon them. Ethelyn knew
this as well as anyone, and Mrs. Markham, washing her dishes below
stairs, and occasionally wiping her eyes with the corner of the check
apron as she thought how all her trouble had been thrown away upon a
proud, ungrateful girl, could not think less of Ethie than Ethie thought
of herself, upstairs sobbing among the pillows. The family were ignorant
and ill bred, as she counted ignorance and ill breeding; but they did
mean to be kind to her, and she hated herself for her ingratitude in not
at least seeming pleased with their endeavors to please her. Added to
this was a vague remembrance of a certain look seen in Richard's eye--a
look which made her uneasy as she thought, "What if he should hate
me, too?"

Richard was all Ethelyn had to cling to now. She respected, if she did
not love him, and when she heard his step upon the stairs, her heart,
for an instant, throbbed with dread lest he was coming to chide her as
she deserved. When, then, he bent so kindly over her, and spoke to her
so tenderly, all her better nature went out toward him in a sudden gush
of something akin to love, and lifting her head, she laid it upon his
bosom, and drawing his arm around her neck, held it there with a sense
of protection, while she said: "No one has injured me; but, oh, I am so
homesick, and they are all so different, and my head aches so hard."

He knew she was homesick and it was natural that she should be; and he
knew, too, that, as she said, they were "so different," and though on
this point he could not fully appreciate her feelings he was sorry for
her, and he soothed her aching head, and kissed her forehead, and told
her she was tired; she would feel better by and by, and get accustomed
to their ways, and when, as he said this, he felt the shiver with which
she repelled the assertion, he repressed his inclination to tell her
that she could at least conceal her aversion to whatever was
disagreeable, and kissing her again, bade her lie down and try to sleep,
as that would help her sooner than anything else, unless it were a cup
of sage tea, such as his mother used to make for him when his head was
aching. Should he send Eunice up with a cup?

"No; oh, no," and Ethelyn's voice expressed the disgust she felt for the
young lady with red streamers in her hair, who had stared so at her and
called her husband Richard.

Ethelyn had not yet defined Eunice's position in the family--whether it
was that of cousin, or niece, or companion--and now that Richard had
suggested her, she said to him:

"Who is this Eunice that seems so familiar?"

Richard hesitated a little and then replied:

"She is the girl who works for mother when we need help."

"Not a hired girl--surely not a hired girl!" and Ethelyn opened her
brown eyes wide with surprise and indignation, wondering aloud what Aunt
Sophia or Aunt Barbara would say if they knew she had eaten with and
been introduced to a hired girl.

Richard did not say, "Aunt Sophia or Aunt Barbara be hanged, or
be--anything," but he thought it, just as he thought Ethelyn's ideas
particular and over-nice. Eunice Plympton was a respectable, trusty
girl, and he believed in doing well for those who did well for him; but
that was no time to argue the point, and so he sat still and listened to
Ethelyn's complaint that Eunice had called him Richard, and would
undoubtedly on the morrow address her as Ethelyn. Richard thought not,
but changed his mind when, fifteen minutes later, he descended to the
kitchen and heard Eunice asking Andy if he did not think "Ethelyn looked
like the Methodist minister's new wife."

This was an offense which even Richard could not suffer to pass
unrebuked, and sending Andy out on some pretext or other, he said that
to Eunice Plympton which made her more careful as to what she called his
wife, but he did it so kindly that she could not be offended with him,
though she was strengthened in her opinion that "Miss Ethelyn was a
stuck-up, an upstart, and a hateful. Supposin' she had been waited on
all her life, and brought up delicately, as Richard said, that was no
reason why she need feel so big, and above speaking to a poor girl when
she was introduced." She guessed that "Eunice Plympton was fully as
respectable and quite as much thought on by the neighbors, if she didn't
wear a frock coat and a man's hat with a green feather stuck in it."

This was the substance of Eunice's soliloquy, as she cleaned the
potatoes for the morrow's breakfast, and laid the kindlings by the
stove, ready for the morning fire. Still Eunice was not a bad-hearted
girl, and when Andy, who heard her mutterings, put in a plea for
Ethelyn, who he said "had never been so far away from home before, and
whose head was aching enough to split," she began to relent, and
proposed, of her own accord, to take up to the great lady a foot-bath
together with hot water for her head.

It was so long since Richard had been at home, and there was so much to
hear of what had happened during his absence that instead of going back
to Ethelyn he yielded to his mother's wish that he should stay with her,
and sitting down in his arm-chair by the blazing fire, he found it so
pleasant to be flattered and caressed and deferred to again, that he was
in some danger of forgetting the young wife who was thus left to the
tender mercies of Andy and Eunice Plympton. Andy had caught eagerly at
Eunice's suggestion of the foot-bath, and offered to carry it up
himself, while Eunice followed with her towels and basin of hot water.
It never occurred to either of them to knock for admittance, and Ethelyn
was obliged to endure their presence, which she did at first with a
shadow on her brow; but when Andy asked so pleadingly that she try the
hot water, and Eunice joined her entreaties with his, Ethelyn consented,
and lay very quiet while Eunice Plympton bathed the aching head and
smoothed the long, bright hair, which both she and Andy admired so much,
for Andy, when he found that Ethelyn declined the foot-bath, concluded
to remain a while, and sitting down before the fire, he scrutinized the
form and features of his new sister, and made remarks upon the luxuriant
tresses which Eunice combed so carefully.

It was something to have the homage of even such subjects as these, and
Ethelyn's heart grew softer as the pain gradually subsided beneath
Eunice's mesmeric touch, so that she answered graciously the questions
propounded by her as to whether that sack, or great-coat, or whatever it
was called, which she wore around her, was the very last style, how much
it took to cut it, and if Miss Markham had the pattern. On being told
that "Miss Markham" had not the pattern, Eunice presumed Melinda Jones
could cut one, and then, while the cooled water was heating on the coals
which Andy raked out upon the hearth, Eunice asked if she might just try
on the "vasquine" and let Miss Markham see how she looked in it.

For a moment Ethelyn hesitated, but Eunice had been so kind, and
proffered her request so timidly, that she could not well refuse, and
gave a faint assent. But she was spared the trial of seeing her basquine
strained over Eunice's buxom figure by the entrance of Richard, who came
to say that Melinda Jones was in the parlor below. In spite of all Tim
had said about madam's airs, and his advice that "Melinda should keep
away," that young lady had ventured upon a call, thinking her intimacy
with the family would excuse any unseemly haste, and thinking, too, it
may be, that possibly Mrs. Richard Markham would be glad to know there
was someone in Olney more like the people to whom she had been
accustomed than Mrs. Markham, senior, and her handmaid, Eunice Plympton.
Melinda's toilet had been made with direct reference to what Mrs.
Ethelyn would think of it, and she was looking very well indeed in her
gray dress and sack, with plain straw hat and green ribbons, which
harmonized well with her high-colored cheeks. But Melinda's pains had
been for naught, just as Richard feared, when she asked if "Mrs.
Markham" was too tired to see her.

Richard was glad to see Melinda, and Melinda was glad to see Richard--so
glad that she gave him a hearty kiss, prefacing the act with the remark,
"I can kiss you, now you are a married man."

Richard liked the kiss, and liked Melinda's frank, open manner, which
had in it nothing Van Burenish, as he secretly termed the studied
elegance of Mrs. Richard Markham's style. Melinda was natural, and he
promptly kissed her back, feeling that in doing so he was guilty of
nothing wrong, for he would have done the same had Ethelyn been present.
She had a terrible headache, he said, in answer to Melinda's inquiry,
and perhaps she did not feel able to come down. He would see.

The hot water and Eunice's bathing had done Ethelyn good, and, with the
exception that she was very pale, she looked bright and handsome, as she
lay upon the pillows, with her loose hair forming a dark, glossy frame
about her face.

"You are better, Ethie," Richard said, bending over her, and playfully
lifting her heavy hair. "Eunice has done you good. She's not so bad,
after all."

"Eunice is well enough in her place," was Ethelyn's reply; and then
there was a pause, while Richard wondered how he should introduce
Melinda Jones.

Perhaps it was vain in him, but he really fancied that the name of Jones
was distasteful to Ethelyn, just as the Van Buren name would have been
more distasteful to him than it already was had he known of Frank's love
affair. And to a certain extent he was right. Ethelyn did dislike to
hear of the Joneses, whom she heartily despised, and her brow grew
cloudy at once when Richard said, bunglingly, and as if it were not at
all what he had come up to say: "Oh, don't you remember hearing me speak
of Melinda Jones, whom I hoped you would like? She is very kind to
mother--we all think a great deal of her; and though she knows it is
rather soon to call, she has come in for a few minutes, and would like
to see you. I should be so glad if you would go down, for it will
gratify her, I know, and I really think we owe her something--she has
always been so kind."

But Ethelyn was too tired, and her head ached too hard to see visitors,
she said; and besides that, "Miss Jones ought to have known that it was
not proper to call so soon. None but a very intimate friend could
presume upon such a thing."

"And Melinda is an intimate friend," Richard answered, a little warmly,
as he left his wife, and went back to Melinda with the message, that
"some time she should be happy to make Miss Jones' acquaintance, but
to-night she really must be excused, as she was too tired to come down."

All this time Andy had been standing with his back to the fire, his
coat-skirts taken up in his arms, his light, soft hat on his head, and
his ears taking in all that was transpiring. Andy regarded his stylish
sister-in-law as a very choice gem, which was not to be handled too
roughly, but he was not afraid of her; he was seldom afraid of anybody,
and when Richard was gone, he walked boldly up to Ethelyn and said:

"I don't want to be meddlesome, but 'pears to me if you'd spoke out your
feelings to Dick, you'd said, 'Tell Melinda Jones I don't want to see
her, neither to-night nor any time.' Mebby I'm mistaken, but honest, do
you want to see Melinda?"

There was something so straightforward in his manner that, without being
the least offended, Ethelyn replied:

"No, I do not. I am sure I should not like her if she at all resembles
her brother^ that terrible Timothy."

Andy did not know that there was anything so very terrible about Tim. He
liked him, because he gave him such nice chews of tobacco, and was
always so ready to lend a helping hand in hog-killing time, or when a
horse was sick; neither had he ever heard him called Timothy before, and
the name sounded oddly, but he classed it with the fine ways of his new
sister, who called him Anderson, though he so much wished she wouldn't.
It sounded as if she did not like him; but he said nothing on that
subject now--he merely adhered to the Jones question, and without
defending Tim, replied:

"Gals are never much like their brothers, I reckon. They are softer, and
finer, and neater; leastways our Daisy was as different from us as
different could be, and Melinda is different from Tim. She's been to
Camden high-school, and has got a book that she talks French out of; and
didn't you ever see that piece she wrote about Mr. Baldwin's boy, who
fell from the top of the church when it was building, and was crushed to
death? It was printed, all in rhyme, in the Camden _Sentinel_, and Jim
has a copy of it in his wallet, 'long with a lock of Melinda's hair. I
tell you she's a team."

Andy was warming up with his subject, and finding Ethelyn a good
listener, he continued:

"I want you to like her, and I b'lieve you orter, for if it hadn't been
for her this room wouldn't of been fixed up as 'tis. Melinda coaxed
mother to buy the carpet, and the curtings, and to put your bed in
there. Why, that was the meal room, where you be, and we used to keep
beans there, too; but Melinda stuck to it till mother moved the chest
and the bags, and then we got some paint, and me and the boys and
Melinda painted, and worked, hopin' all the time that you'd be pleased,
as I guess you be. We wanted to have you like us."

And simple-hearted Andy drew near to Ethelyn, who was softened more by
what he said than she could have been by her husband's most urgent
appeal. The thought of the people to whom she had been so cold, and even
rude, working and planning for her comfort, touched a very tender chord,
and had Richard then proffered his request for her to go down, it is
very possible she might have done so; but it was too late now, and after
Andy left her she lay pondering what he had said and listening to the
sound of voices which came up to her from the parlor directly beneath
her room where James, and John, and Andy, and the mother, with Melinda,
and Eunice, were talking to Richard, who was conscious of a greater
feeling of content, sitting there in their midst again, than he had
known in many a day. Melinda had been more than disappointed at Mrs.
Richard's non-appearance, for aside from a curiosity to see the great
lady, there was a desire to be able to report that she seen her to other
females equally curious, whom she would next day meet at church. It
would have added somewhat to her self-complacency as well as importance
in their eyes, could she have quoted Mrs. Richard's sayings, and,
described Mrs. Richard's dress, the very first day after her arrival. It
would look as if the intimacy, which many predicted would end with Mrs.
Ethelyn's coming, was only cemented the stronger; but no such honor was
in store for her. Ethelyn declined coming down, and with a good-humored
smile Melinda said she was quite excusable; and then, untying her
bonnet, she laid it aside, just as she did the indescribable air of
stiffness she had worn while expecting Mrs. Richard.

How merrily they all laughed and chatted together! and how handsome
James' eyes grew as they rested admiringly upon the sprightly girl, who
perfectly conscious of his gaze, never looked at him, but confined her
attention wholly to Richard, until Andy asked "if they could not have a
bit of a tune."

Then, for the first time, Richard discovered that Ethelyn's piano had
been unpacked, and was now standing between the south windows, directly
under Daisy's picture. It was open, too, and the sheet of music upon the
rack told that it had been used. Richard did not care for himself, but
he was afraid of what Ethelyn might say, and wondered greatly why she
had not spoken of the liberty they had taken.

Ethelyn had not observed the piano; or if she did she had paid no
attention to it. Accustomed as she had always been to seeing one in the
room, she would have missed its absence more than she noticed its
presence. But when, as she lay half dozing and thinking of Aunt Barbara,
the old familiar air of "Money-musk," played with a most energetic hand,
came to her ear, she started, for she knew the tone of her own
instrument--knew, too, that Melinda Jones' hands were sweeping the
keys--and all that Melinda Jones had done for her comfort was forgotten
in the deep resentment which heated her blood and flushed her cheek as
she listened to "Old Zip Coon," which followed "Money-musk," a shuffling
sound of feet telling that somebody's boots were keeping time after a
very unorthodox fashion. Next came a song--"Old Folks at Home"--and in
spite of her resentment Ethelyn found herself listening intently as
James' rich, deep bass, and John's clear tenor, and Andy's alto joined
in the chorus with Melinda's full soprano. The Markham boys were noted
for their fine voices; and even Richard had once assisted at a public
concert; but to-night he did not sing--his thoughts were too intent upon
the wife upstairs and what she might be thinking of the performance, and
he was glad when the piano was closed and Melinda Jones had gone.

It was later than he supposed, and the clock pointed to almost eleven
when he at last said good-night to his mother and went, with a
half-guilty feeling, to his room. But there were no chidings in store
for him; for, wearied with her journey and soothed by the music, Ethelyn
had forgotten all her cares and lay quietly sleeping, with one hand
beneath her cheek and the other resting outside the white counterpane.
Ethie was very pretty in her sleep, and the proud, restless look about
her mouth was gone, leaving an expression more like a child's than like
a girl of twenty. And Richard, looking at her, felt supremely happy that
she was his, forgetting all of the past which had been unpleasant, and
thinking only that he was blessed above his fellow mortals that he could
call the beautiful girl before him his Ethelyn--his wife.



There were a great many vacant seats in the Methodist church the morning
following Ethelyn's arrival, while Mr. Townsend was surprised at the
size of his congregation. It was generally known that Mrs. Judge Markham
was an Episcopalian, and as she would of course patronize the Village
Hall, the young people of Olney were there en masse, eager to see the
new bride. But their curiosity was not gratified. Ethelyn was too tired
to go out, Andy said, when questioned on the subject, while Eunice
Plympton, who was also of Andy's faith, and an attendant of the Village
Hall, added the very valuable piece of information that "Miss Markham's
breakfast had been taken to her, and that when she [Eunice] came away
she was still in bed, or at all events had not yet made her appearance
below." This, together with Eunice's assertion that she was handsome,
and Tim Jones' testimony that she was "mighty stuck-up, but awful neat,"
was all the disappointed Olneyites knew of Mrs. Richard Markham, who, as
Eunice reported, had breakfasted in bed, and was still lying there when
the one bell in Olney rang out its summons for church. She did not
pretend to be sick--only tired and languid, and indisposed for any
exertion; and then it was much nicer taking her breakfast from the
little tray covered with the snowy towel which Richard brought her, than
it was to go down stairs and encounter "all those dreadful people," as
she mentally styled Richard's family; so she begged for indulgence this
once, and Richard could not refuse her request, and so excused her to
his mother, who said nothing, but whose face wore an expression which
Richard did not like.

Always strong and healthy herself, Mrs. Markham had but little charity
for nervous, delicate people, and she devoutly hoped that Richard's wife
would not prove to be one of that sort. When the dishes were washed, and
the floor swept, and the broom hung up in its place, and the sleeves of
the brown, dotted calico rolled down, she went herself to see Ethelyn,
her quick eye noticing the elaborate night-gown, with its dainty tucks
and expensive embroidery, and her thoughts at once leaping forward to
ironing day, with the wonder who was to do up such finery. "Of course,
though, she'll see to such things herself," was her mental conclusion,
and then she proceeded to question Ethelyn as to what was the matter,
and where she felt the worst. A person who did not come down to
breakfast must either be sick or very babyish and notional, and as
Ethelyn did not pretend to much indisposition, the good woman naturally
concluded that she was "hypoey," and pitied her boy accordingly.

Ethelyn readily guessed the opinion her mother-in-law was forming of
her, and could hardly steady her voice sufficiently to answer her
questions or repress her tears, which gushed forth the moment Mrs.
Markham had left the room, and she was alone with Richard. Poor Richard!
it was a novel position in which he found himself--that of mediator
between his mother and his wife; but he succeeded very well, soothing
and caressing the latter, until when, at three o'clock in the afternoon,
the bountiful dinner was ready, he had the pleasure of taking her
downstairs, looking very beautiful in her handsome black silk, and the
pink coral ornaments Aunt Barbara had given her. There was nothing gaudy
about her dress; it was in perfect taste, and very plain too, as she
thought, even if it was trimmed with lace and bugles. But she could not
help feeling it was out of keeping when James, and John, and Eunice
stared so at her, and Mrs. Markham asked her if she hadn't better tie on
an apron for fear she might get grease or something on her. With ready
alacrity Eunice, who fancied her young mistress looked like a queen,
forgetting in her admiration that she had ever thought her proud, ran
for her own clean, white apron, which she offered to the lady.

But Ethelyn declined it, saying, "My napkin is all that I shall

Mrs. Markham, and Eunice, and Andy glanced at each other. Napkins were a
luxury in which Mrs. Markham had never indulged. She knew they were
common in almost every family of her acquaintance; but she did not see
of what use they were, except to make more washing, and as her standard
of things was the standard of thirty years back she was not easily
convinced; and even Melinda Jones had failed on the napkin question.
Ethelyn had been too much excited to observe their absence the previous
night, and she now spoke in all sincerity, never dreaming that there was
not such an article in the house. But there was a small square towel of
the finest linen, and sacred to the memory of Daisy, who had hemmed it
herself and worked her name in the corner. It was lying in the drawer,
now, with her white cambric dress, and, at a whispered word from her
mistress, Eunice brought it out and laid it in Ethelyn's lap, while
Richard's face grew crimson as he began to think that possibly his
mother might be a very little behind the times in her household

Ethelyn's appetite had improved since the previous night, and she did
ample justice to the well-cooked dinner; but her spirits were ruffled
again when, on returning to her room an hour or so after dinner, she
found it in the same disorderly condition in which she had left it.
Ethelyn had never taken charge of her own room, for at Aunt Barbara's
Betty had esteemed it a privilege to wait upon her young mistress, while
Aunt Van Buren would have been horror-stricken at the idea of any one of
her guests making their own bed. Mrs. Markham, on the contrary, could
hardly conceive of a lady too fine to do that service herself, and
Eunice was not the least to blame for omitting to do what she had never
been told was her duty to do. A few words from Richard, however, and the
promise of an extra quarter per week made that matter all right, and
neither Betty nor Mrs. Dr. Van Buren's trained chambermaid, Mag, had
ever entered into the clearing-up process with greater zeal than did
Eunice when once she knew that Richard expected it of her. She was
naturally kind-hearted, and though Ethelyn's lofty ways annoyed her
somewhat, her admiration for the beautiful woman and her elegant
wardrobe was unbounded, and she felt a pride in waiting upon her which
she would once have thought impossible to feel in anything pertaining to
her duties as a servant.

The following morning brought with it the opening of the box where the
family presents were; but Ethelyn did not feel as much interest in them
now as when they were purchased. She knew how out of place they were,
and fully appreciated the puzzled expression on James' face when he saw
the blue velvet smoking cap. It did not harmonize with the common clay
pipe he always smoked on Sunday, and much less with the coarse cob thing
she saw him take from the kitchen mantel that morning just after he left
the breakfast table and had donned the blue frock he wore upon the farm.
He did not know what the fanciful-tasseled thing was for; but he
reflected that Melinda, who had been to boarding school, could enlighten
him, and he thanked his pretty sister with a good deal of gentlemanly
grace. He was naturally more observing than Richard, and with the same
advantages would have polished sooner. Though a little afraid of
Ethelyn, there was something in her refined, cultivated manners very
pleasing to him, and his soft eyes looked down upon her kindly as he
took the cap and carried it to his room, laying it carefully away in the
drawer where his Sunday shirts, and collars, and "dancing pumps," and
fishing tackle, and paper of chewing tobacco were.

Meanwhile, John, who was even more shy of Ethelyn than James, had been
made the recipient of the elegantly embroidered slippers, which
presented so marked a contrast to his heavy cowhides, and were three
sizes too small for his mammoth feet. Ethelyn saw the discrepancy at
once, and the effort it was for John to keep from laughing outright, as
he took the dainty things into which he could but little more than
thrust his toes.

"You did not know what a Goliath I was, nor what stogies I wore; but I
thank you all the same," John said, and with burning blushes Ethelyn
turned next to her beautiful Schiller--the exquisite little bust--which
Andy, in his simplicity mistook for a big doll, feeling a little
affronted that Ethelyn should suppose him childish enough to care for
such toys.

But when Richard, who stood looking on, explained to his weak brother
what it was, saying that people of cultivation prized such things as
these, and that some time he would read to him of the great German poet,
Andy felt better, and accepted his big doll with a very good grace.

The coiffure came next, Mrs. Markham saying she was much obliged, and
Eunice asking if it was a half-handkerchief, to be worn about the neck.

Taken individually and collectively, the presents were a failure--all
but the pretty collar and ribbon-bow, which, as an afterthought, Ethelyn
gave to Eunice, whose delight knew no bounds. This was something she
could appreciate, while Ethelyn's gifts to the others had been far
beyond them, and but for the good feeling they manifested might as well
have been withheld. Ethelyn felt this heavily, and it did not tend to
lessen the bitter disappointment which had been gnawing in her heart
ever since she had reached her Western home. Everything was different
from what she had pictured it in her mind--everything but Daisy's face,
which, from its black-walnut frame above her piano, seemed to look so
lovingly down upon her. It was a sweet, refined face, and the soft eyes
of blue were more beautiful than anything Ethelyn had ever seen. She
did not wonder that every member of that family looked upon their lost
Daisy as the household angel, lowering their voices when they spoke of
her, and even retarding their footsteps when they passed near her
picture. She did wonder, however, that they were not more like what
Daisy would have been, judging from the expression of her face and all
Richard had said of her.

Between Mrs. Markham and Ethelyn there was from the first a mutual
feeling of antagonism, and it was in no degree lessened by Aunt
Barbara's letter, which Mrs. Markham read three times on Sunday, and
then on Monday very foolishly talked it up with Eunice, whom she treated
with a degree of familiarity wholly unaccountable to Ethelyn.

"What did that Miss Bigelow take her for that she must ask her to be
kind to Ethelyn? Of course she should do her duty, and she guessed her
ways were not so very different from other people's, either," and the
good woman gave an extra twist to the tablecloth she was wringing, and
shaking it out rather fiercely, tossed it into the huge clothes-basket
standing near.

The wash was unusually large that day and as the unpacking of the box
had taken up some time, the clock was striking two just as the last
clothespin was fastened in its place, and the last brown towel hung upon
the currant bushes. It was Mrs. Markham's weakness that her wash should
be fluttering in the wind before that of Mrs. Jones, which could be
plainly seen from her kitchen window. But to-day Mrs. Jones was ahead,
and Melinda's pink sun-bonnet was visible in the little back-yard as
early as eleven, at which time the Markham garments had just commenced
to boil. The bride had brought with her a great deal of extra work, and
what with waiting breakfast for her until the coffee was cold and the
baked potatoes "all soggy," and then cleaning up the litter of "that
box," Mrs. Markham was dreadfully behind with her Monday's work. And it
did not tend to improve her temper to know that the cause of all her
discomposure was "playing lady" in a handsome cashmere morning gown,
with heavy tassels knotted at her side, while she was bending over the
washtub in a faded calico pinned about her waist, and disclosing the
quilt patched with many colors, and the black yarn stockings footed with
coarse white. Not that Mrs. Markham cared especially for the difference
between her dress and Ethelyn's--neither did she expect Ethelyn to
"help" that day--but she might at least have offered to wipe the dinner
dishes, she thought. It would have shown her good will at all events.
But instead of that she had returned to her room the moment dinner was
over, and Eunice, who went to hunt for a missing sock of Richard's,
reported that she was lying on the lounge with a story book in her hand.

"Shiffless," was the word Mrs. Markham wanted to use, but she repressed
it, for she would not talk openly against Richard's wife so soon after
her arrival, though she did make some invidious remarks concerning the
handsome underclothes, wondering "what folks were thinking of to put so
much work where it was never seen. Puffs, and embroidery, and lace, and,
I vum, if the ruffles ain't tucked too," she continued, in a despairing
voice, hoping Ethelyn knew "how to iron such filagree herself, for the
mercy knew she didn't."

Now these same puffs, and embroidery, and ruffles, and tucks had excited
Eunice's liveliest admiration, and her fingers fairly itched to see how
they would look hanging on the clothes bars after passing through her
hands. That Ethelyn could touch them she never once dreamed. Her
instincts were truer than Mrs. Markham's and it struck her as perfectly
proper that one like Ethelyn should sit still while others served, and
to her mistress' remarks as to the ironing, she hastened to reply: "I'd
a heap sight rather do them up than to iron the boys' coarse shirts and
pantaloons. Don't you mind the summer I was at Camden working for Miss
Avery, who lived next door to Miss Judge Miller, from New York? She had
just such things as these, and I used to go in sometimes and watch Katy
iron 'em, so I b'lieve I can do it myself. Anyways, I want to try."

Fears that Eunice might rebel had been uppermost in Mrs. Markham's mind
when she saw the pile of elegant clothes, for she had a suspicion that
Mrs. Ethelyn would keep as much aloof from the ironing-board as she did
from the dish-washing; but if Eunice was willing and even glad of the
opportunity, why, that made a difference, and the good woman began to
feel so much better that by the time the last article was on the line,
the kitchen floor cleared up, and the basin of water heating on the
stove for her own ablutions, she was quite amiably disposed toward her
grand daughter-in-law, who had not made her appearance since dinner.
Ethelyn liked staying in her chamber better than anywhere else, and it
was especially pleasant there to-day, for Eunice had taken great pains
to make it so, sweeping, and dusting and putting to rights, and patting
the pillows and cushions just as she remembered seeing Melinda do, and
then, after the collar and ribbon had been given to her, going down on
her hands and knees before the fire to wash the hearth with milk, which
gave to the red bricks a polished, shining appearance, and added much to
the cheerfulness of the room. Ethelyn had commended her pleasantly, and,
in the seventh heaven of delight, Eunice had returned to her washing,
taking greater pains than ever with the dainty puffs and frills, and
putting in a stitch where one was needed.

It was very evident that Eunice admired Ethelyn, and Ethelyn in return
began to appreciate Eunice; and when, after dinner, she went to her
room, and, wearied with her unpacking, lay down upon the lounge, she
felt happier than she had since her first sight of Olney. It was
pleasant up there, and the room looked very pretty with the brackets and
ornaments, and pictures she had hung there instead of in the parlor, and
she decided within herself that though disappointed in every respect,
she could be quite comfortable for the few weeks which must intervene
before she went to Washington. She should spend most of the time in the
retirement of her room, mingling as little as possible with the family,
and keeping at a respectful distance from her mother-in-law, whom she
liked less than any of Richard's relations.

"I trust the Olney people will not think it their duty to call," she
thought. "I suppose I shall have to endure the Joneses for Abigail's
sake. Melinda certainly has some taste; possibly I may like her," and
while cogitating upon Melinda Jones and the expected gayeties in
Washington, she fell asleep; nor did Richard's step arouse her, when,
about three o'clock, he came in from the village in quest of some law
documents he wished to see.

Frank Van Buren would probably have kissed her as she lay there sleeping
so quietly; but Richard was in a great hurry. He had plunged at once
into business. Once there were forty men waiting to see and consult "the
Squire," whose reputation for honesty and ability was very great, and
whose simple assertion carried more weight than the roundest oath of
some lawyers, sworn upon the biggest Bible in Olney. Waylaid at every
corner, and plied with numberless questions, he had hardly found an
opportunity to come home to dinner, and now he had no time to waste in
love-making. He saw Ethelyn, however, and felt that his room had never
been as pleasant as it was with her there in it, albeit her coming was
the cause of his books and papers being disturbed and tossed about and
moved where he had much trouble to find them. He felt glad, too, that
she was out of his mother's way, and feeling that all was well, he found
his papers and hurried off to the village again, while Ethelyn slept on
till Eunice Plympton came up to say that "Miss Jones and Melinda were
both in the parlor and wanted her to come down."



Mrs. Jones had risen earlier than usual that Monday morning, and felt
not a little elated when she saw her long line of snowy linen swinging
in the wind before that of her neighbor, whom she excused on the score
of Richard's wife. But when twelve o'clock, and even one o'clock struck,
and still the back yard gave no sign, she began to wonder "if any of
'em could be sick"; and never was flag of truce watched for more
anxiously than she watched for something which should tell that it was
all well at Sister Markham's.

The sign appeared at last, and with her fears quieted, Mrs. Jones
pursued the even tenor of her way until everything was done and her
little kitchen was as shining as soap and sand and scrubbing brush could
make it. Perhaps it was washing the patchwork quilt which Abigail had
pieced that brought the deceased so strongly to Mrs. Jones' mind, and
made her so curious to see Abigail's successor. Whatever it was, Mrs.
Jones was very anxious for a sight of Ethelyn; and when her work was
done she donned her alpaca dress, and tying on her black silk apron,
announced her intention of "running into Mrs. Markham's just a minute.
Would Melinda like to go along?"

Melinda had been once to no purpose, and she had inwardly resolved to
wait a while before calling again; but she felt that she would rather be
with her mother at her first interview with Ethelyn, for she knew she
could cover up some defects by her glibber and more correct manner of
conversing. So she signified her assent, but did not wear her best
bonnet as she had on Saturday night. This was only a run in, she said,
never dreaming that, "for fear of what might happen if she was urged to
stay to tea," her mother had deposited in her capacious pocket the
shirt-sleeve of unbleached cotton she was making for Tim.

And so about four o'clock the twain started for the house of Mrs.
Markham, who saw them coming and welcomed them warmly. She was always
glad to see Mrs. Jones, and she was doubly glad to-day, for it seemed to
her that some trouble had come upon her which made neighborly sympathy
and neighborly intercourse more desirable than ever. Added to this,
there was in her heart an unconfessed pride in Ethelyn and a desire to
show her off. "Miss Jones was not going to stir home a step till after
supper," she said, as that lady demurred at laying off her bonnet. "She
had got to stay and see Richard; besides that, they were going to have
waffles and honey, with warm gingerbread."

Nobody who had once tested them, could withstand Mrs. Markham's waffles
and gingerbread. Mrs. Jones certainly could not; and when Eunice went up
for Ethelyn, that worthy woman was rocking back and forth in a low
rocking-chair, her brass thimble on her finger and Tim's shirt-sleeve in
progress of making; while Melinda, in her pretty brown merino and white
collar, with her black hair shining like satin, sat in another
rocking-chair, working at the bit of tatting she chanced to have in her
pocket. Ethelyn did not care to go down; it was like stepping into
another sphere leaving her own society for that of the Joneses; but
there was no alternative, and with a yawn she started up and began
smoothing her hair.

"This wrapper is well enough," she said, more to herself, than Eunice,
who was still standing by the door looking at her.

Eunice did not think the wrapper well enough. It was pretty, she knew,
but not as pretty as the dresses she had seen hanging in Ethelyn's
closet when she arranged the room that morning; so she said,
hesitatingly: "I wish you wouldn't wear that down. You were so handsome
yesterday in the black gown, with them red earrings and pin, and your
hair brushed up, so."

Ethelyn liked to look well, even here in Olney, and so the wrapper was
laid aside, the beautiful brown hair was wound in heavy coils about the
back of the head, and brushed back from her white forehead after a
fashion which made her look still younger and more girlish than she was.
A pretty plaid silk, with trimmings of blue, was chosen for to-day,
Eunice going nearly wild over the short jaunty basque, laced at the
sides and the back. Eunice had offered to stay and assist at her young
mistress' toilet, and as Ethelyn was not unaccustomed to the office of
waiting-maid, she accepted Eunice's offer, finding, to her surprise,
that the coarse red fingers, which that day had washed and starched her
linen, were not unhandy even among the paraphernalia of a Boston
lady's toilet.

"You do look beautiful," Eunice said, standing back to admire Ethelyn,
when at last she was dressed. "I have thought Melinda Jones handsome,
but she can't hold a candle to you, nor nobody else I ever seen, except
Miss Judge Miller, in Camden. She do act some like you, with her gown
dragglin' behind her half a yard."

Thus flattered and complimented, Ethelyn shook out her skirts, which
"draggled half a yard behind," and went downstairs to where Mrs. Jones
sat working on Timothy's shirt, and Melinda was crocheting, while Mrs.
Markham, senior, clean and neat, and stiff in her starched, purple
calico, sat putting a patch on a fearfully large hole in the knee of
Andy's pants. As Ethelyn swept into the room there fell a hush upon the
inmates, and Mrs. Jones was almost guilty of an exclamation of surprise.
She had expected something fine, she said--something different from the
Olney quality--but she was not prepared for anything as grand and
queenly as Ethelyn, when she sailed into the room, with her embroidered
handkerchief held so gracefully in her hands, and in response to Mrs.
Markham's introduction, bowed so very low, and slowly, too, her lips
scarcely moving at all, and her eyes bent on the ground. Mrs. Jones
actually ran the needle she was sewing with under her thumb in her
sudden start, while Melinda's crocheting dropped into her lap. She, too,
was surprised, though not as much as her mother. She, like Eunice, had
seen Mrs. Judge Miller, from New York, whose bridal trousseau was
imported from Paris, and whose wardrobe was the wonder of Camden. And
Ethelyn was very much like her, only younger and prettier.

"Very pretty," Melinda thought, while Mrs. Jones fell to comparing her,
mentally, with the deceased Abigail; wondering how Richard, if he had
ever loved the one, could have fancied the other, they were so unlike.

Of course, the mother's heart gave to Abigail the preference for all
that was good and womanly, and worthy of Richard Markham; but Ethelyn
bore off the palm for style, and beauty, too.

"Handsome as a doll, but awfully proud," Mrs. Jones decided, during the
interval in which she squeezed her wounded thumb, and got the needle
again in motion upon Timothy's shirt-sleeve.

Ethelyn was not greatly disappointed in Mrs. Jones and her daughter; the
mother especially was much like what she had imagined her to be, while
Melinda was rather prettier--rather more like the Chicopee girls than
she expected. There was a look on her face like Susie Granger, and the
kindly expression of her black eyes made Ethelyn excuse her for wearing
a magenta bow, while her cheeks were something the same hue. They were
very stiff at first, Mrs. Jones saying nothing at all, and Melinda only
venturing upon common-place inquiries--as to how Ethelyn bore her
journey, if she was ever in that part of the country before, and how she
thought she should like the West. This last question Ethelyn could not
answer directly.

"It was very different from New England," she said, "but she was
prepared for that, and hoped she should not get very homesick during the
few weeks which would elapse before she went to Washington."

At this point Mrs. Markham stopped her patching and looked inquiringly
at Ethelyn. It was the first she had heard about Ethelyn's going to
Washington; indeed, she had understood that Richard's wife was to keep
her company during the winter, a prospect which since Ethelyn's arrival
had not looked so pleasing to her as it did before. How in the world
they should get on together without Richard, she did not know, and if
she consulted merely her own comfort she would have bidden Ethelyn go.
But there were other things to be considered--there was the great
expense it would be for Richard to have his wife with him. Heretofore he
had saved a good share of his salary, but with Ethelyn it would be money
out of his pocket all the time; besides that, there were reasons why it
was not proper for Ethelyn to go; her best place was at home.

Thus reasoned Mrs. Markham, and when next her needle resumed its work on
Andy's patch, Ethelyn's fate with regard to Washington was decided, for
as thought the mother on that point, so eventually would think the son,
who deferred so much to her judgment. He came in after a little, looking
so well and handsome that Ethelyn felt proud of him, and had he then
laid his hand upon her shoulder, or put his arm around her waist, as he
sometimes did when they were alone, she would not have shaken it off, as
was her usual custom. Indeed, such is the perversity of human nature,
and so many contradictions are there in it, that Ethelyn rather wished
he would pay her some little attention. She could not forget Abigail,
with Abigail's mother and sister sitting there before her, and she
wanted them to see how fond her husband was of her, hoping thus to prove
how impossible it was that Abigail could ever have been to him what she
was. But Richard was shy in the presence of others, and would sooner
have put his arm around Melinda than around his wife, for fear he should
be thought silly. He was very proud of her, though, and felt a thrill of
satisfaction in seeing how superior, both in look and manner, she was to
Melinda Jones, whose buxom, healthy face grew almost coarse and homely
from comparison with Ethelyn's.

As Ethelyn's toilet had occupied some time, it was five when she made
her appearance in the parlor, consequently she had not long to wait ere
the announcement of supper broke up the tediousness she endured from
that first call, or visit. The waffles and the gingerbread were all they
had promised to be, and the supper passed off quietly, with the
exception of a mishap of poor, awkward Andy, who tipped his plate of hot
cakes and honey into his lap, and then in his sudden spring backward,
threw a part of the plate's contents upon Ethelyn's shining silk. This
was the direst calamity of all, and sent poor Andy from the table so
heart-broken and disconsolate that he did not return again, and Eunice
found him sitting on the wood-house steps, wiping away with his
coat-sleeve the great tears which rolled down his womanish face.

"Ethelyn never would like him again," he said, calling himself "a great
blundering fool, who never ought to eat at the same table with
civilized folks."

But when Ethelyn, who heard from Eunice of Andy's distress, went out to
see him, assuring him that but little damage had been done, that soft
water and magnesia would make the dress all right again, he brightened
up, and was ready to hold Mr. Harrington's horse when, after dark, that
gentleman drove over from Olney with his wife and sister to call on Mrs.
Richard. It would almost seem that Ethelyn held a reception that
evening, for more than the Harringtons knocked at the front door, and
were admitted by the smiling Eunice. It was rather early to call, the
Olneyites knew, but there on the prairie they were not hampered with
many of Mrs. Grundy's rules, and so curious to see the "Boston lady,"
several of the young people had agreed together between the Sunday
services to call at Mrs. Markham's the following night. They were
well-meaning, kind-hearted people, and would any one of them gone far
out of their way to serve either Richard or his young wife; but they
were not Eastern bred, and feeling somewhat awed by Ethelyn's cold,
frigid manner, they appeared shy and awkward--all except Will Parsons,
the young M.D. of Olney, who joked, and talked and laughed so loudly,
that even Richard wondered he had never before observed how noisy Dr.
Parsons was, while Andy, who was learning to read Ethelyn's face, tried
once or twice, by pulling the doctor's coat-skirts and giving him a
warning glance, to quiet him down a little. But the doctor took no
hints, and kept on with his fun, finding a splendid coadjutor in the
"terrible Tim Jones," who himself came over to call on Dick and
his woman.

Tim was rigged out in his best, with a bright red cravat tied around his
neck, and instead of his muddy boots with his pants tucked in the tops,
he wore coarse shoes tied with strings and flirted his yellow silk
handkerchief for the entire evening. It was dreadful to Ethelyn, for she
could see nothing agreeable in Richard's friends; indeed, their presence
was scarcely bearable, and the proud look on her face was so apparent
that the guests felt more or less ill at ease, while Richard was nearer
being angry with Ethelyn than he had ever been. Will Parsons and Tim
Jones seemed exceptions to the rest of the company, especially the
latter, who, if he noticed Ethelyn's evident contempt, was determined
to ignore it, and make himself excessively familiar.

As yet, the open piano had been untouched, no one having the courage to
ask Ethelyn to play; but Tim was fond of music, and unhesitatingly
seating himself upon the stool, thrust one hand in his pocket, and with
the other struck the keys at random, trying to make out a few bars of
"Hail, Columbia!" Then turning to Ethelyn he said, with a good-humored
nod, "Come, old lady, give us something good."

Ethelyn's eyes flashed fire, while others of the guests looked their
astonishment at Tim, who knew he had done something, but could not for
the life of him tell what.

"Old lady" was a favorite title with him. He called his mother so, and
Melinda, and Eunice Plympton, and Maria Moorehouse, whose eyes he
thought so bright, and whom he always saw home from meeting on Sunday
nights; and so it never occurred to him that this was his offense. But
Melinda knew, and her red cheeks burned scarlet as she tried to cover
her brother's blunder by modestly urging Ethelyn to favor them with
some music.

Of all the Western people whom she had seen, Ethelyn liked Melinda the
best. She had thought her rather familiar, and after the Olneyites came
in and put her more at her ease, she fancied her a little flippant and
forward; but, in all she did or said, there was so much genuine
sincerity and frankness, that Ethelyn could not dislike her as she had
thought she should dislike a sister of Abigail Jones and the terrible
Tim. She had not touched her piano since her arrival, for fear of the
homesickness which its familiar tones might awaken, and when she saw
Tim's big red hands fingering the keys, in her resentment at the
desecration she said to herself that she never would touch it again; but
when in a low aside Melinda added to her entreaties: "Please, Mrs.
Markham, don't mind Tim--he means well enough, and would not be rude for
the world, if he knew it," she began to give way, and it scarcely needed
Richard's imperative, "Ethelyn," to bring her to her feet. No one
offered to conduct her to the piano--not even Richard, who sat just
where he was; while Tim, in his haste to vacate the music stool,
precipitated it to the floor, and got his leather shoes entangled in
Ethelyn's skirts.

Tim, and Will Parsons, and Andy all hastened to pick up the stool,
knocking their heads together, and raising a laugh in which Ethelyn
could not join. Thoroughly disgusted and sick at heart, she felt much as
the Jewish maidens must have felt when required to give a song. Her harp
was indeed upon the willows hung, and her heart was turning sadly toward
her far-off Jerusalem as she sat down and tried to think what she should
play to suit her audience. Suddenly it occurred to her to suit herself
rather than her hearers, and her snowy fingers--from which flashed
Daisy's diamond and a superb emerald--swept the keys with a masterly
grace and skill. Ethelyn was perfectly at home at the piano, and dashing
off into a brilliant and difficult overture, she held her hearers for a
few minutes astonished both at her execution and the sounds she made. To
the most of them, however, the sounds were meaningless; their tastes had
not yet been cultivated up to Ethelyn's style. They wanted something
familiar--something they had heard before; and when the fine performance
was ended terrible Tim electrified her with the characteristic
exclamation: "That was mighty fine, no doubt, for them that understand
such; but, now, for land's sake, give us a tune."

Ethelyn was horror-stricken. She had cast her pearls before swine; and
with a haughty stare at the offending Timothy, she left the stool, and
walking back to her former seat, said:

"I leave the tunes to your sister, who, I believe, plays sometimes."

Somewhat crestfallen, but by no means browbeaten, Tim insisted that
Melinda should give them a jig; and, so, crimsoning with shame and
confusion, Melinda took the vacant stool and played her brother a
tune--a rollicking, galloping tune, which everybody knew, and which set
the feet to keeping time, and finally brought Tim and Andy to the floor
for a dance. But Melinda declined playing for a cotillion which her
brother proposed, and so the dancing arrangement came to naught,
greatly to the delight of Ethelyn, who could only keep back her tears by
looking up at the sweet face of Daisy smiling down upon her from the
wall. That was the only redeeming point in that whole assembly, she
thought. She would not even except Richard then, so intense was her
disappointment and so bitter her regret for the mistake she made when
she promised to go where her heart could never be.

It was nine o'clock when the company dispersed. Each of the ladies
cordially invited Ethelyn to call as soon as convenient, and Mrs.
Harrington, a lady of some cultivation, whose husband was the village
merchant, saying encouragingly to her, as she held her hand a moment,
"Our Western manners seem strange to you, I dare say; but we are a
well-meaning people, and you will get accustomed to us by and by."

She never should--no, never, thought Ethelyn, as she went up to her
room, tired and homesick, and disheartened with this, her first
introduction to the Olney people. It was a very cross wife that slept at
Richard's side that night, and the opinion expressed of the Olneyites
was anything but complimentary to the taste of one who had known them
all his life and liked them so well. But Richard was getting accustomed
to such things. Lectures did not move him now as they had at first, and
overcome with fatigue from his day's work and the evening's excitement,
he fell asleep, while Ethelyn was enlarging upon the merits of the
terrible Tim, who had addressed her as "old lady" and asked her to
"play a tune."



In the course of two weeks all the people in Olney called upon Ethelyn,
who would gladly have refused herself to them all. But after the morning
when Andy stood outside the door of her room, wringing his hands in
great distress at the tone of Richard's voice, and Ethelyn stayed in bed
all day with the headache, and was nursed by Eunice and Melinda, Ethelyn
did better, and was at least polite to those who called. She had said
she would not see them, and Richard had said she should; and as he
usually made people do as he liked, Ethelyn was forced to submit, but
cried herself sick. It was very desolate and lonely upstairs that day,
for Richard was busy in town, and the wind swept against the windows
with a mournful, moaning sound, which made Ethelyn think of dear old
Chicopee, and the lofty elms through whose swaying branches the same
October wind was probably sighing on this autumnal day. But, oh! how
vast the difference, she thought; for what would have been music if
heard at home among the New England hills, was agony here upon the
Western prairie.

Ethelyn was very wretched and hailed with delight the presence of
Melinda Jones, who came in the afternoon, bringing a basket of delicious
apples and a lemon tart she had made herself. Melinda was very sorry for
Ethelyn, and her face said as much as she stood by her side and laid her
hand softly upon the throbbing temples, pitying her so much, for she
guessed just how homesick she was there with Mrs. Markham, whose ways
had never seemed so peculiar, even to her, as since Ethelyn's arrival.
"And still," she thought, "I do not see how she can be so very unhappy,
in any circumstances, with a husband like Richard." But here Melinda
made a mistake; for though Ethelyn respected her husband, and had
learned to miss him when he was gone, and the day whose close was not to
bring him back would have been very long, she did not love him as a
husband should be loved; and so there was nothing to fall back upon when
other props gave way.

Wholly unsuspicious, Melinda sat down beside her, offering to brush her
hair, and while she brushed and combed, and braided, and admired the
glossy brown locks, she talked on the subject she thought most
acceptable to the young wife's ear--of Richard, and the great popularity
he had achieved, not only in his own county, but in neighboring ones,
where he stood head and shoulders above his fellows. There was talk once
of making him governor, she said, but some thought him too young.
Lately, however, she had heard that the subject was again agitated,
adding that her father and Tim both thought it more than probable that
the next election would take him to the gubernatorial mansion.

"Tim would work like a hero for Richard," she said. "He almost idolizes
him, and when he was up for Judge Tim's exertions alone procured for him
a hundred extra votes. Tim is a rough, half-savage fellow, but he has
the kindest of hearts, and is very popular with a certain class of men
who could not be reached by one more polished and cultivated."

So much Melinda said, by way of excusing Tim's vulgarities; and then,
with the utmost tact, she led the conversation back to Richard and the
governorship, hinting that Ethelyn could do much toward securing that
office for her husband. A little attention, which cost nothing, would go
a great ways, she said; and it was sometimes worth one's while to make
an effort, even if they did not feel like it. More than one rumor had
reached Melinda's ear touching the pride of Dick Markham's wife--a pride
which the Olney people felt keenly, and it the more keenly knowing that
they had helped to give her husband a name; they had made him Judge, and
sent him to Congress, and would like to make him governor, knowing well
that that no office, however high, would change him from the plain,
unpretending man, who, even in the Senate Chamber, would shake drunken
Ike Plympton's hand, and slap Tim Jones on the back if need be. They
liked their Dick, who had been a boy among them, and they thought it
only fair that his wife should unbend a little, and not freeze them so
with her lofty ways.

"She'll kick the whole thing over if she goes on so," Tim had said to
his father, in Melinda's hearing, and so, like a true friend to Richard,
Melinda determined to try and prevent the proud little feet from doing
so much mischief.

Nor was she unsuccessful. Ethelyn saw the drift of the conversation, and
though for an instant her cheek crimsoned with resentment that she
should be talked at by Melinda Jones, she was the better for the
talking, and the Olney people, when next they come in contact with her,
changed their minds with regard to her being so very proud. She was
homesick at first, and that was the cause of her coldness, they said,
excusing her in their kind hearts, and admiring her as something far
superior to themselves. Even Tim Jones got now and then a pleasant word,
for Ethelyn had not forgotten the hundred extra votes. She would have
repelled the insinuation that she was courting favor or that hopes of
the future governorship for Richard had anything to do with her changed
demeanor. She despised such things in others; but Ethelyn was human, and
it is just possible that had there been nothing in expectancy she would
not have submitted with so good a grace to the familiarities with which
she so constantly came in contact. At home she was cold and proud as
ever, for between her mother-in-law and herself there was no affinity,
and they kept as far apart as possible, Ethelyn staying mostly in her
room, and Mrs. Markham, senior, staying in the kitchen, where Eunice
Plympton still remained.

Mrs. Markham had fully expected that Eunice would go home within a few
days after Ethelyn's arrival; but when the days passed on, Ethelyn
showed no inclination for a nearer acquaintance with the kitchen--"never
even offering to wipe the teacups on washing days," as Mrs. Markham
complained to James, and John, and Andy--the good woman began to
manifest some anxiety on the subject, and finally went to Richard to
know if "he expected to keep a hired girl all winter or was Ethelyn
going to do some light chores."

Richard really did not know; but after a visit to his room, where Ethie
sat reading in her handsome crimson wrapper, with the velvet trimmings,
he decided that she could "not do chores," and Eunice must remain. It
was on this occasion that Washington was broached, Mrs. Markham
repeating what she heard Ethelyn saying to Melinda, and asking Richard
if he contemplated such a piece of extravagance as taking his wife to
Washington would be. In Richard's estimation there were other and
weightier reasons why Ethelyn should remain quietly at home that winter.
He did not especially mind the expense she might be to him, and he owned
to a weak desire to see her queen it over all the reigning belles, as he
was certain she would. Unbiased by his mother, and urged by Ethelyn, he
would probably have yielded in her favor; but the mother was first in
the field, and so she won the day, and Ethie's disappointment was a
settled thing. But Ethie did not know it, as Richard wisely refrained
from being the first to speak of the matter. That she was going to
Washington Ethelyn had no doubt, and this made her intercourse with the
Olneyites far more endurable. Some of them she found pleasant,
cultivated people--especially Mr. Townsend, the clergyman, who, after
the Sunday on which she appeared at the Village Hall in her blue silk
and elegant basquine, came to see her, and seemed so much like an old
friend when she found that he had met at Clifton, in New York, some of
her acquaintances. It was easy to be polite to him, and to the people
from Camden, who hearing much of Judge Markham's pretty bride, came to
call upon her--Judge Miller and his wife, with Marcia Fenton and Miss
Ella Backus, both belles and blondes, and both some-bodies, according to
Ethelyn's definition of that word. She liked these people, and Richard
found no trouble in getting her to return their calls. She would gladly
have stayed in Camden altogether, and once laughingly pointed out to
Richard a large, vacant lot, adjoining Mr. Fenton's, where she would
like to have her new house built.

There was a decided improvement in Ethelyn; nor did her old perversity
of temper manifest itself very strongly until one morning, three weeks
after her arrival in Olney, when Richard suggested to her the propriety
of his mother's giving them a party, or infair, as he called it. The
people expected it, he said; they would be disappointed without it, and,
indeed, he felt it was something he owed them for all their kindness to
him. Then Ethelyn rebelled--stoutly, stubbornly rebelled--but Richard
carried the point, and two days after the farmhouse was in a state of
dire confusion, wholly unlike the quiet which reigned there usually.
Melinda Jones was there all the time, while Mrs. Jones was back and
forth, and a few of the Olney ladies dropped in with suggestions and
offers of assistance. It was to be a grand affair--so far, at least, as
numbers were concerned--for everybody was invited, from Mr. Townsend and
the other clergy, down to Cecy Doane, who did dressmaking and tailoring
from house to house. The Markhams were very democratic in their
feelings, and it showed itself in the guests bidden to the party. They
were invited from Camden as well--Mr. and Mrs. Miller, with Marcia
Fenton and Ella Backus; and after the two young ladies had come over to
ascertain how large an affair it was to be, so as to know what to wear,
Ethelyn began to take some little interest in it herself and to give the
benefit of her own experience in such matters. But having a party in
Mrs. Dr. Van Buren's handsome house, where the servants were all so well
trained, and everything necessary was so easy of access, or even having
a party at Aunt Barbara's, was a very different thing from having one
here under the supervision of Mrs. Markham, whose ideas were so many
years back, and who objected to nearly everything which Ethelyn
suggested. But by dint of perseverance on Melinda's part her scruples
were finally overcome; so that when the night of the party arrived the
house presented a very respectable appearance, with its lamps of
kerosene, and the sperm candles flaming on the mantels in the parlor,
and the tallow candles smoking in the kitchen.

Mrs. Markham's bed had been removed from the sitting room, and the
carpet taken from the floor, for they were going to dance, and Eunice's
mother had been working hard all day to keep her liege lord away from
the Cross Roads tavern so that he might be presentable at night, and
capable of performing his part, together with his eldest son, who played
the flute. She was out in the kitchen now, very large and important with
the office of head waiter, her hoops in everybody's way, and her face
radiant with satisfaction, as she talked to Mrs. Markham about what we
better do. The table was laid in the kitchen and loaded with all the
substantials, besides many delicacies which Melinda and Ethelyn had
concocted; for the latter had even put her hands to the work, and
manufactured two large dishes of Charlotte Russe, with pretty molds of
blanc-mange, which Eunice persisted in calling "corn-starch puddin',
with the yallers of eggs left out," There were trifles, and tarts, and
jellies, and sweetmeats, with raised biscuits by the hundred, and loaves
on loaves of frosted cake; while out in the woodshed, wedged in a tub of
ice, was a huge tin pail, over which James, and John, and Andy, and even
Richard had sat, by turns, stirring the freezing mass. Mrs. Jones'
little colored boy, who knew better how to wait on company than any
person there, came over in his clean jacket, and out on the doorstep was
eating chestnuts and whistling Dixie, as he looked down the road to see
if anybody was coming. Melinda Jones had gone home to dress, feeling
more like going to bed than making merry at a party, as she looped up
her black braids of hair and donned her white muslin dress with the
scarlet ribbons. Melinda was very tired, for a good share of the work
had fallen upon her--or rather she had assumed it--and her cheeks and
hands were redder than usual when, about seven o'clock, Tim drove her
over to Mrs. Markham's, and then went to the village after the dozen or
more of girls whom he had promised "to see to the doin's."

But Melinda looked very pretty--at least James Markham thought so--when
she stood up on tiptoe to tie his cravat in a better-looking bow than
he had done. Since the night when Richard first told her of Ethelyn, it
had more than once occurred to Melinda that possibly she might yet bear
the name of Markham, for her woman nature was quick to see that James,
at least, paid her the homage which Richard had withheld. But Melinda's
mind was not yet made up, and as she was too honest to encourage hopes
which might never be fulfilled, she would not even look up into the
handsome eyes resting so admiringly upon her as she tied the bow of the
cravat and felt James' breath upon her burning cheeks. She did, however,
promise to dance the first set with him, and then she ran upstairs to

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