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  • 1866
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And Mrs. Linceford put her eye to the telescope. “Dakie Thayne! It’s a queer name; and yet it seems as if I had heard it before,” she said, looking away through the mystic tube into space, and seeing Jupiter with his moons, in a fair round picture framed expressly to her eye; yet sending a thought, at the same time, up and down the lists of a mental directory, trying to place Dakie Thayne among people she had heard of.

“I’ll be responsible for the name,” answered Marmaduke Wharne.

“‘Dakie’ is a nickname, of course; but they always call me so, and I like it best,” the boy was explaining to Leslie, while they waited in the doorway.

Then her turn came. Leslie had never looked through a telescope upon the stars before. She forgot the galop, and the piano tinkled out its gayest notes unheard. “It seems like coming all the way back,” she said, when she moved away for Dakie Thayne.

Then they wheeled the telescope upon its pivot eastward, and met our own moon coming up, as if in a grand jealousy, to assert herself within her small domain, and put out faint, far satellites of lordlier planets. They looked upon her mystic, glistening hill-tops, and down her awful craters; and from these they seemed to drop a little, as a bird might, and alight on the earth-mountains looming close at hand, with their huge, rough crests and sides, and sheer escarpments white with nakedness; and so–got home again. Leslie, with her maps and gazetteer, had done no traveling like this.

She would not have cared, if she had known, that Imogen Thoresby was looking for her within, to present, at his own request, the cavalry captain. She did not know in the least, absorbed in her pure enjoyment, that Marmaduke Wharne was deliberately trying her, and confirming his estimate of her, in these very things.

She danced her galop with Dakie Thayne, after she went back. The cavalry captain was introduced, and asked for it. “That was something,” as Hans Andersen would say; but “What a goose not to have managed better!” was what Imogen Thoresby thought concerning it, as the gold bars turned themselves away.

Leslie Goldthwaite had taken what came to her, and she had had an innocent, merry time; she had been glad to be dressed nicely, and to look her best: but somehow she had not thought of that much, after all; the old uncomfortableness had not troubled her to-night.

“_Just to be in better business_. That’s the whole of it,” she thought to herself, with her head upon the pillow. She put it in words, mentally, in the same off-hand fashion in which she would have spoken it to Cousin Delight. “One must look out for that, and keep at it. _That’s_ the eye-stone-woman’s way; and it’s what has kept me from worrying and despising myself to-night. It only happened so, this time; it was Mr. Wharne, not I. But I suppose one can always find something, by trying. And the trying”–The rest wandered off into a happy musing; and the musing merged into a dream.

Object and motive,–the “seeking first;” she had touched upon that, at last, with a little comprehension of its working.

She liked Dakie Thayne. The next day they saw a good deal of him; he joined himself gradually, but not obtrusively, to their party; they included him in their morning game of croquet. This was at her instance; he was standing aside, not expecting to be counted in, though he had broken off his game of solitaire, and driven the balls up to the starting-stake, as they came out upon the ground. The Thoresby set had ignored him, always, being too many already among themselves,–and he was only a boy.

This morning there were only Imogen, and Etty, the youngest; a walking-party had gone off up the Cherry Mountain road, and Ginevra was upstairs, packing; for the Thoresbys had also suddenly decided to leave for Outledge on the morrow. Mrs. Thoresby declared, in confidence, to Mrs. Linceford, that “old Wharne would make any house intolerable; and that Jefferson, at any rate, was no place for more than a week’s stay.” She “wouldn’t have it mentioned in the house, however, that she was going, till the time came,–it made such an ado; and everybody’s plans were at loose ends among the mountains, ready to fix themselves to anything at a day’s notice; they might have tomorrow’s stage loaded to crushing, if they did not take care.”

“But I thought Mrs. Devreaux and the Klines were with you,” remarked Mrs. Linceford.

“Of our party? Oh, no indeed; we only fell in with them here.”

“Fell in” with them; became inseparable for a week; and now were stealing a march,–_dodging_ them,–lest there might be an overcrowding of the stage, and an impossibility of getting outside seats! Mrs. Thoresby was a woman of an imposing elegance and dignity, with her large curls of resplendent gray hair high up on her temples, her severely-handsome dark eyebrows, and her own perfect, white teeth; yet she could do a shabby thing, you see,–a thing made shabby by its motive. The Devreaux and Klines were only “floating people,” boarding about,–not permanently valuable as acquaintances; well enough to know when one met them,–that was all. Mrs. Thoresby had daughters; she was obliged to calculate as to what was worth while. Mrs. Linceford had an elegant establishment in New York; she had young sisters to bring out; there was suitability here; and the girls would naturally find themselves happy together.

Dakie Thayne developed brilliantly at croquet. He and Leslie, with Etty Thoresby, against Imogen and the Haddens, swept triumphantly around the course, and came in to the stake, before there had been even a “rover” upon the other side. Except, indeed, as they were _sent_ roving, away off over the bank and down the road, from the sloping, uneven ground,–the most extraordinary field, in truth, on which croquet was ever attempted. But then you cannot expect a level, velvet lawn on the side of a mountain.

“Children always get the best of it at croquet,–when they know anything at all,” said Imogen Thoresby discontentedly, throwing down her mallet. “You ‘poked’ awfully, Etty.”

Etty began an indignant denial; unable to endure the double accusation of being a child,–she, a girl in her fourteenth year,–and of “poking.” But Imogen walked away quite unconcernedly, and Jeannie Hadden followed her. These two, as nearest in age, were growing intimate. Ginevra was almost too old,–she was twenty.

They played a four-ball game then; Leslie and Etty against Elinor and Dakie Thayne. But Elinor declared–laughing, all the same, in her imperturbably good-natured way–that not only Etty’s pokes were against her, but that Dakie would _not_ croquet Leslie’s ball downhill. Nothing ever really put Elinor Hadden out, the girls said of her, except when her hair wouldn’t go up; and then it was funny to see her. It was a sunbeam in a snarl, or a snow flurry out of a blue sky. This in parenthesis, however; it was quite true, as she alleged, that Dakie Thayne had taken up already that chivalrous attitude toward Leslie Goldthwaite which would not let him act otherwise than as her loyal knight, even though opposed to her at croquet.

“You’ll have enough of that boy,” said Mrs. Linceford, when Leslie came in, and found her at her window that overlooked the wickets. “There’s nothing like a masculine creature of that age for adoring and monopolizing a girl two or three years older. He’ll make you mend his gloves, and he’ll beg your hair-ribbons for hat-strings; and when you’re not dancing or playing croquet with him, he’ll be after you with some boy-hobby or other, wanting you to sympathize and help. ‘I know their tricks and their manners.'” But she looked amused and kind while she threatened, and Leslie only smiled back and said nothing.

Presently fresh fun gathered in Mrs. Linceford’s eyes. “You’re making queer friends, child, do you know, at the beginning of your travels? We shall have Cocky-locky, and Turkey-lurky, and Goosie-poosie, and all the rest of them, before we get much farther. Don’t breathe a word, girls,” she went on, turning toward them all, and brimming over with merriment and mischief;–“but there’s the best joke brewing. It’s just like a farce. Is the door shut, Elinor? And are the Thoresbys gone upstairs? They’re going with us, you know? And there’s nothing to be said about it? And it’s partly to get away from Marmaduke Wharne? Well, _he_’s going, too. And it’s greatly because they’re spoiling the place for him here. He thinks he’ll try Outledge; and there’s nothing to be said about that, either! And I’m the unhappy depositary of all their complaints and secrets. And if nobody’s stopped, they’ll all be off in the stage with us to-morrow morning! I couldn’t help telling you, for it was too good to keep.”

The secrets were secrets through the day; and Mrs. Linceford had her quiet fun, and opportunity for her demure teasing.

“How long since Outledge was discovered and settled?–by the moderns, I mean,” said Mr. Wharne. “What chance will one really have of quiet there?”

“Well, really, to be honest, Mr. Wharne, I’m afraid Outledge will be just at the rampant stage this summer. It’s the second year of anything like general accommodation, and everybody has just heard of it, and it’s the knowing and stylish thing to go there. For a week or two it may be quiet; but then there’ll be a jam. There’ll be hops, and tableaux, and theatricals, of course; interspersed with ‘picnicking at the tomb of Jehoshaphat,’ or whatever mountain solemnity stands for that. It’ll be human nature right over again, be assured, Mr. Wharne.”

Yet, somehow, Mr. Wharne would not be frightened from his determination,–until the evening; when plans came out, and good-bys and wonders and lamentations began.

“Yes, we have decided quite suddenly; the girls want to see Outledge, and there’s a pleasant party of friends, you know,–one can’t always have that. We shall probably fill a stage: so they will take us through, instead of dropping us at the Crawford House.” In this manner Mrs. Thoresby explained to her dear friend, Mrs. Devreaux.

“We shall be quite sorry to lose you all. But it would only have been a day or so longer, at any rate. Our rooms are engaged for the fifteenth, at Saratoga; we’ve very little time left for the mountains, and it wouldn’t be worth while to go off the regular track. We shall probably go down to the Profile on Saturday.”

And then–_da capo_–“Jefferson was no place really to _stay_ at; you got the whole in the first minute,” etc., etc.

“Good-night, Mrs. Linceford. I’m going up to unpack my valise and make myself comfortable again. All things come round, or go by, I find, if one only keeps one’s self quiet. But I shall look in upon you at Outledge yet.” These were the stairway words of Marmaduke Wharne to-night.

“‘One gets the whole in the first minute’! How can they keep saying that? Look, Elinor, and see if you can tell me where we are?” was Leslie’s cry, as, early next morning, she drew up her window-shade, to look forth–on what?

Last night had lain there, underneath them, the great basin between Starr King, behind, and the roots of that lesser range, far down, above which the blue Lafayette uprears itself: an enormous valley, filled with evergreen forest, over whose tall pines and cedars one looked, as if they were but juniper and blueberry bushes; far up above whose heads the real average of the vast mountain-country heaped itself in swelling masses,–miles and miles of beetling height and solid breadth. This morning it was gone; only the great peaks showed themselves, as a far-off, cliff-bound shore, or here and there a green island in a vast, vaporous lake. The night-chill had come down among the heights, condensing the warm exhalations of the valley-bosom that had been shone into all day yesterday by the long summer sun; till, when he lifted himself once more out of the east, sending his leaping light from crest to crest, white fallen clouds were tumbling and wreathing themselves about the knees and against the mighty bosoms of the giants, and at their feet the forest was a sea.

“We must dress, and we must look!” exclaimed Leslie, as the early summons came for them. “Oh dear! oh dear! if we were only like the birds! or if all this would wait till we get down!”

“Please drop the shade just a minute, Les. This glass is in such a horrid light! I don’t seem to have but half a face, and I can’t tell which is the up-side of that! And–oh dear! I’ve no _time_ to get into a fuss!” Elinor had not disdained the beauty and wonder without; but it was, after all, necessary to be dressed, and in a given time; and a bad light for a looking-glass is such a disastrous thing!

“I’ve brushed out half my crimps,” she said, again; “and my ruffle is basted in wrong side out, and altogether I’m got up _a la furieuse_!” But she laughed before she had done scolding, catching sight of her own exaggerated little frown in the distorting glass, that was unable, with all its malice, to spoil the bright young face when it came to smiles and dimples.

And then Jeannie came knocking at the door. They had spare minutes, after all, and the mists were yet tossing in the valley when they went down. They were growing filmy, and floating away in shining fragments up over the shoulders of the hills, and the lake was lower and less, and the emerging green was like the “Thousand Islands.”

They waited a little there, in the wide, open door together, and looked out upon it; and then the Haddens went round into their sister’s room, and Leslie was left alone in the rare, sweet, early air. The secret joy came whispering at her heart again: that there was all this in the world, and that one need not be utterly dull and mean, and dead to it; that something in her answered to the greatness overshadowing her; that it was possible, sometimes, and that people did reach out into a larger life than that of self and every-day. How else did the great mountains draw them to themselves so? But then she would not always be among the mountains.

And so she stood, drinking in at her eyes all the shifting and melting splendors of the marvelous scene, with her thought busy, once more, in its own questioning. She remembered what she had said to Cousin Delight: “It is all outside. Going, and doing, and seeing, and hearing, and having. In myself, am I good for any more, after all? Or only–a green fig-tree in the sunshine?”

Why, with that word, did it all flash together for her, as a connected thing? Her talk that morning, many weeks ago, that had seemed to ramble so from one irrelevant matter to another,–from the parable to her fancy-traveling, the scenes and pleasures she had made for herself, wondering if the real would ever come; to the linen-drawer, representing her little feminine absorptions and interests; and back to the fig-tree again, ending with that word,–“the real living is the urging toward the fruit”? Her day’s journey, and the hints of life–narrowed, suffering, working–that had come to her, each with its problem? Marmaduke Wharne’s indignant protest against people who “did not know their daily bread,” and his insistence upon the _two_ things for human creatures to do: the _receiving_ and the giving; the taking from God, in the sunshine, to grow; the ripening into generous uses for others,–was it all one, and did it define the whole, and was it identical, in the broadest and highest, with that sublime double command whereon “hang the law and the prophets”?

Something like this passed into her mind and soul, brightening there, like the morning. It seemed, in that glimpse, so clear and gracious,–the truth that had been puzzling her.

Easy, beautiful summer work: only to be shone upon; to lift up one’s branching life, and be–reverently–glad; to grow sweet and helpful and good-giving, in one’s turn,–could she not begin to do that? Perhaps–by ever so little; the fruit might be but a berry, yet it might be fair and full, after its kind; and at least some little bird might be the better for it. All around her, too, the life of the world that had so troubled her,–who could tell, in the tangle of green, where the good and the gift might ripen and fall? Every little fern-frond has its seed.

Jeannie came behind her again, and called her back to the contradictory phase of self that, with us all, is almost ready, like Peter, to deny the true. “What are you deep in now, Les?”

“Nothing. Only–we go _down_ from here, don’t we, Jeannie?”

“Yes. And a very good thing for you, too. You’ve been in the clouds long enough. I shall be glad to get you to the common level again.”

“You’ve no need to be anxious. I can come down as fast as anybody. _That_ isn’t the hard thing to do. Let’s go in, and get salt-fish and cream for our breakfast.”

The Haddens were new to mountain travel; the Thoresbys, literally, were “old stagers;” they were up in the stable-yard before Mrs. Linceford’s party came out from the breakfast-room. Dakie Thayne was there, too; but that was quite natural for a boy.

They got their outside seats by it, scrambling up before the horses were put to, and sitting there while the hostlers smiled at each other over their work. There was room for two more, and Dakie Thayne took a place; but the young ladies looked askance, for Ginevra had been detained by her mother, and Imogen had hoped to keep a seat for Jeannie, without drawing the whole party after her, and running aground upon politeness. So they drove round to the door.

“First come, first served,” cried Imogen, beckoning Jeannie, who happened to be there, looking for her friend. “I’ve saved a place for you,”–and Jeannie Hadden, nothing loath, as a man placed the mounting board, sprang up and took it.

Then the others came out. Mrs. Thoresby and Mrs. Linceford got inside the vehicle at once, securing comfortable back corner-seats. Ginevra, with Leslie and Elinor, and one or two others too late for their own interest, but quite comprehending the thing to be preferred, lingered while the last trunks went on, hoping for room to be made somehow.

“It’s so gay on the top, going down into the villages. There’s no fun inside,” said Imogen complacently, settling herself upon her perch.

“Won’t there be another stage?”

“Only half way. This one goes through.”

“I’ll go half way on the other, then,” said Ginevra.

“This is the best team, and goes on ahead,” was the reply.

“You’ll be left behind,” cried Mrs. Thoresby. “Don’t think of it, Ginevra!”

“Can’t that boy sit back, on the roof?” asked the young lady.

“That boy” quite ignored the allusion; but presently, as Ginevra moved toward the coach-window to speak with her mother, he leaned down to Leslie Goldthwaite. “I’ll make room for _you_,” he said.

But Leslie had decided. She could not, with effrontery of selfishness, take the last possible place,–a place already asked for by another. She thanked Dakie Thayne, and, with just one little secret sigh, got into the interior, placing herself by the farther door.

At that moment she missed something. “I’ve left my brown veil in your room, Mrs. Linceford,”–and she was about to alight again to go for it.

“I’ll fetch it,” cried Dakie Thayne from overhead, and, as he spoke, came down on her side by the wheel, and, springing around to the house entrance, disappeared up the stairs.

“Ginevra!” Then there came a laugh and a shout and some crinoline against the forward open corner of the coach, and Ginevra Thoresby was by the driver’s side. A little ashamed, in spite of herself, though it was done under cover of a joke; but “All’s fair among the mountains,” somebody said, and “Possession’s nine points,” said another, and the laugh was with her, seemingly.

Dakie Thayne flushed up, hot, without a word, when he came out, an instant after.

“I’m _so_ sorry!” said Leslie, with real regret, accented with honest indignation.

“It’s your place,” called out a rough man, who made the third upon the coach-box. “Why don’t you stick up for it?”

The color went down slowly in the boy’s face, and a pride came up in his eye. He put his hand to his cap, with a little irony of deference, and lifted it off with the grace of a grown man. “I know it’s my place. But the young lady may keep it–now. _I’d_ rather be a gentleman!” said Dakie Thayne.

“You’ve got the best of it!” This came from Marmaduke Wharne, as the door closed upon the boy, and the stage rolled down the road toward Cherry Mountain.

There is a “best” to be got out of everything; but it is neither the best of place or possession, nor the chuckle of the last word.



Among the mountains, somewhere between the Androscoggin and the Saco,–I don’t feel bound to tell you precisely where, and I have only a story-teller’s word to give you for it at all,–lies the little neighborhood of Outledge. An odd corner of a great township such as they measure off in these wilds; where they take in, with some eligible “locations” of intervale land, miles also of pathless forest where the bear and the moose are wandering still, a pond, perhaps, filling up a basin of acres and acres in extent, and a good-sized mountain or two, thrown in to keep off the north wind; a corner cut off, as its name indicates, by the outrunning of a precipitous ridge of granite, round which a handful of population had crept and built itself a group of dwellings,–this was the spot discovered and seized to themselves some four or five years since by certain migratory pioneers of fashion.

An old two-story farmhouse, with four plain rooms of generous dimensions on each floor, in which the first delighted summer party had divided itself, glad and grateful to occupy them double and even treble bedded, had become the “hotel,” with a name up across the gable of the new wing,–“Giant’s Cairn House,”–and the eight original rooms made into fourteen. The wing was clapped on by its middle; rushing out at the front toward the road to meet the summer tide of travel as it should surge by, and hold up to it, arrestively, its titular sign-board; the other half as expressively making its bee-line toward the river and the mountain view at back,–just as each fresh arrival, seeking out the preferable rooms, inevitably did. Behind, upon the other side, an L provided new kitchens; and over these, within a year, had been carried up a second story, with a hall for dancing, tableaux, theatricals, and traveling jugglers.

Up to this hostelry whirled daily, from the southward, the great six-horse stage; and from the northward came thrice a week wagons or coaches “through the hills,” besides such “extras” as might drive down at any hour of day or night.

Round the smooth curve of broad, level road that skirted the ledges from the upper village pranced four splendid bays; and after them rollicked and swayed, with a perfect delirium of wheels and springs, the great black and yellow bodied vehicle, like a huge bumble-bee buzzing back with its spoil of a June day to the hive. The June sunset was golden and rosy upon the hills and cliffs, and Giant’s Cairn stood burnished against the eastern blue. Gay companies, scattered about piazzas and greenswards, stopped in their talk, or their promenades, or their croquet, to watch the arrivals.

“It’s stopping at the Green Cottage.”

“It’s the Haddens. Their rooms have been waiting since the twenty-third, and all the rest are full.” And two or three young girls dropped mallets and ran over.

“Maud Walcott!” “Mattie Shannon!”

“Jeannie!” “Nell!”

“How came _you_ here?”

“We’ve been here these ten days,–looking for you the last three.”

“Why, I can’t take it in! I’m so surprised!”

“Isn’t it jolly, though?”

“Miss Goldthwaite–Miss Walcott; Miss Shannon–Miss Goldthwaite;–my sister, Mrs. Linceford.”

“_Me voici_!” And a third came up suddenly, laying a hand upon each of the Haddens from behind.

“You, Sin Saxon! How many more?”

“We’re coming, Father Abraham! All of us, nearly, three hundred thousand more–or less; half the Routh girls, with Madam to the fore!”

“And we’ve got all the farther end of the wing downstairs,–the garden bedrooms; you’ve no idea how scrumptious it is! You must come over after tea, and see.”

“Not all, Mattie; you forget the solitary spinster.”

“No, I don’t; who ever does? But can’t you ignore her for once?”

“Or let a fellow speak in the spirit of prophecy?” said Sin Saxon. “We’re sure to get the better of Graywacke, and why not anticipate?”

“Graywacke?” said Jeannie Hadden. “Is that a name? It sounds like the side of a mountain.”

“And acts like one,” rejoined Sin Saxon. “Won’t budge. But it isn’t her name, exactly, only Saxon for Craydocke; suggestive of obstinacy and the Old Silurian,–an ancient maiden who infests our half the wing. We’ve got all the rooms but hers, and we’re bound to get her out. She’s been there three years, in the same spot,–went in with the lath and plaster,–and it’s _time_ she started. Besides, haven’t I got manifest destiny on my side? Ain’t I a Saxon?” Sin Saxon tossed up a merry, bewitching, saucy glance out of her blue, starlike eyes, that shone under a fair, low brow touched and crowned lightly with the soft haze of gold-brown locks frizzed into a delicate mistiness after the ruling fashion of the hour.

“What a pretty thing she is!” said Mrs. Linceford, when, seeing her busy with her boxes, and the master of the house approaching to show the new arrivals to their rooms, Sin Saxon and her companions flitted away as they had come, with a few more sentences of bright girl-nonsense flung back at parting. “And a witty little minx as well. Where did you know her, Jeannie? And what sort of a satanic name is that you call her by?”

“Just suits such a mischief, doesn’t it? Short for Asenath,–it was always her school-name. She’s just finished her last year at Madam Routh’s; she came there soon after we did. It’s a party of the graduates, and some younger ones left with Madam for the long holidays, that she’s traveling with. I wonder if she isn’t sick of her life, though, by this time! Fancy those girls, Nell, with a whole half-wing of the hotel to themselves, and Sin Saxon in the midst!”

“Poor ‘Graywacke’ in the midst, you mean,” said Nell.

“Like a respectable old grimalkin at the mercy of a crowd of boys and a tin kettle,” added Jeannie, laughing.

“I’ve no doubt she’s a very nice person, too. I only hope, if I come across her, I mayn’t call her Graywacke to her face,” said Mrs. Linceford.

“Just what you’ll be morally sure to do, Augusta!”

With this, they had come up the staircase and along a narrow passage leading down between a dozen or so of small bedrooms on either side,–for the Green Cottage also had run out its addition of two stories since summer guests had become many and importunate,–and stood now where three open doors, one at the right and two at the left, invited their entrance upon what was to be their own especial territory for the next two months. From one side they looked up the river along the face of the great ledges, and caught the grandeur of far-off Washington, Adams, and Madison, filling up the northward end of the long valley. The aspect of the other was toward the frowning glooms of Giant’s Cairn close by, and broadened then down over the pleasant subsidence of the southern country to where the hills grew less, and fair, small, modest peaks lifted themselves just into blue height and nothing more, smiling back with a contented deference toward the mightier majesties, as those who might say: “We do our gentle best; it is not yours; yet we, too, are mountains, though but little ones.” From underneath spread the foreground of green, brilliant intervale, with the river flashing down between margins of sand and pebbles in the midst.

Here they put Leslie Goldthwaite; and here, somehow, her first sensation, as she threw back her blinds to let in all the twilight for her dressing, was a feeling of half relief from the strained awe and wonder of the last few days. Life would not seem so petty here as in the face of all that other solemn stateliness. There was a reaction of respite and repose. And why not? The great emotions are not meant to come to us daily in their unqualified strength. God knows how to dilute his elixirs for the soul. His fine, impalpable air, spread round the earth, is not more cunningly mixed from pungent gases for our hourly breath, than life itself is thinned and toned that we may receive and bear it.

Leslie wondered if it were wrong that the high mountain fervor let itself go from her so soon and easily; that the sweet pleasantness of this new resting-place should come to her as a rest; that the laughter and frolic of the schoolgirls made her glad with such sudden sympathy and foresight of enjoyment; that she should have “come down” all the way from Jefferson in Jeannie’s sense, and that she almost felt it a comfortable thing herself not to be kept always “up in the clouds.”

Sin Saxon, as they called her, was so bright and odd and fascinating; was there any harm–because no special, obvious good–in that? There was a little twinge of doubt, remembering poor Miss Craydocke; but that had seemed pure fun, not malice, after all, and it was, hearing Sin Saxon tell it, very funny. She could imagine the life they led the quiet lady; yet, if it were quite intolerable, why did she remain? Perhaps, after all, she saw through the fun of it. And I think, myself, perhaps she did.

The Marie Stuart net went on to-night; and then such a pretty muslin, white, with narrow, mode-brown stripes, and small, bright leaves dropped over them, as if its wearer had stood out under a maple-tree in October and all the tiniest and most radiant bits had fallen and fastened themselves about her. And, last of all, with her little hooded cape of scarlet cashmere over her arm, she went down to eat cream biscuit and wood strawberries for tea. Her summer life began with a charming freshness and dainty delight.

There were pleasant voices of happy people about them in hall and open parlor, as they sat at their late repast. Everything seemed indicative of abundant coming enjoyment; and the girls chatted gayly of all they had already discovered or conjectured, and began to talk of the ways of the place and the sojourners in it, quite like old _habituees_.

It was even more delightful yet, strolling out when tea was over, and meeting the Routh party again half way between the cottage and the hotel, and sauntering on with them, insensibly, till they found themselves on the wide wing-piazza, upon which opened the garden bedrooms, and being persuaded after all to sit down, since they had got there, though Mrs. Linceford had demurred at a too hasty rushing over, as new comers, to begin visits.

“Oh, nobody knows when they _are_ called upon here, or who comes first,” said Mattie Shannon. “We generally receive half way across the green, and it’s a chance which turns back, or whether we get near either house again or not. Houses don’t signify, except when it rains.”

“But it just signifies that you should see how magnificently we have settled ourselves for nights, and dressing, and when it _does_ rain,” said Sin Saxon, throwing back a door behind her, that stood a little ajar. It opened directly into a small apartment, half parlor and half dressing-room, from which doors showed others, on either side, furnished as sleeping-rooms.

“It was Maud Walcott’s, between the Arnalls’ and mine; but, what with our trunks, and our beds, and our crinolines, and our towel-stands, we wanted a Bowditch’s Navigator to steer clear of the reefs, and something was always getting knocked over; so, one night, we were seized simultaneously with an idea. We’d make a boudoir of this for the general good, and forthwith we fell upon the bed, and amongst us got it down. It was the greatest fun! We carried the pieces and the mattresses all off ourselves up to the attic, after ten o’clock, and we gave the chambermaid a dollar next morning, and nobody’s been the wiser since. And then we walked to the upper village and bought that extraordinary chintz, and frilled and cushioned our trunks into ottomans, and curtained the dress-hooks; and Lucinda got us a rocking-chair, and Maud came in with me to sleep, and we kept our extra pillows, and we should be comfortable as queens if it wasn’t for Graywacke.”

“Now, Sin Saxon, you know Graywacke is just the life of the house. What would such a parcel of us do, if we hadn’t something to run upon?”

“Only I’m afraid I shall get tired of it at last. She bears it so. It isn’t exactly saintliness, nor Graywackeiness, but it seems sometimes as if she took a quiet kind of fun out of it herself,–as if she were somehow laughing at us, after all, in her sleeve; and if she is, she’s got the biggest end. _She_’s bright enough.”

“Don’t we tree-toad her within an inch of her life, though, when we come home in the wagons at night? I shouldn’t think she could stand that long. I guess she wants all her beauty-sleep. And Kate Arnall can tu-whit, tu-whoo! equal to Tennyson himself, or any great white _American_ owl.”

“Yes, but what do you think? As true as I live, I heard her answer back the other night with such a sly little ‘Katy-did! she did! she did!’ I thought at first it actually came from the great elm-trees. Oh, she’s been a girl once, you may depend; and hasn’t more than half got over it either. But wait till we have our ‘howl’!”

What a “howl” was, superlative to “tree-toading,” “owl-hooting,” and other divertisements, did not appear at this time; for a young man did, approaching from the front of the hotel, and came up to the group on the piazza with the question, “At what time do we set off for Feather-Cap to-morrow?”

“Oh, early, Mr. Scherman; by nine o’clock.”

“Earlier than you’ll be ready,” said Frank Scherman’s sister, one of the “Routh” girls also.

“I shan’t have any crimps to take down, that’s one thing,” Frank answered. And Sin Saxon, glancing at his handsome waving hair, whispered saucily to Jeannie Hadden, “I don’t more than half believe that, either;”–then, aloud, “You must join the party too, girls, by the way. It’s one of the nicest excursions here. We’ve got two wagons, and they’ll be full; but there’s Holden’s ‘little red’ will take six, and I don’t believe anybody has spoken for it. Mr. Scherman! wouldn’t it make you happy to go and see?”

“Most intensely!” and Frank Scherman bowed a low graceful bow, settling back into his first attitude, however, as one who could quite willingly resign himself to his present comparative unhappiness awhile longer.

“Where is Feather-Cap?” asked Leslie Goldthwaite.

“It’s the mountain you see there, peeping round the shoulder of Giant’s Cairn; a comfortable little rudiment of a mountain, just enough for a primer-lesson in climbing. Don’t you see how the crest drops over on one side, and that scrap of pine–which is really a huge gaunt thing a hundred years old–slants out from it with just a tuft of green at the very tip, like an old feather stuck in jauntily?”

“And the pine woods round the foot of the Cairn are lovely,” said Maud.

“Oh!” cried Leslie, drawing a long breath, as if their spicy smell were already about her, “there is nothing I delight in so as pines!”

“You’ll have your fill to-morrow, then; for it’s ten miles through nothing else, and the road is like a carpet with the soft brown needles.”

“I hope Augusta won’t be too tired to feel like going,” said Elinor.

“We had better ask her soon, then; she is looking this way now. We ought to go, Sin; we’ve got all our settling to do for the night.”

“We’ll walk over with you,” said Sin Saxon. “Then we shall have done up all the preliminaries nicely. We called on you–before you were off the stage-coach; you’ve returned it; and now we’ll pay up and leave you owing us one. Come, Mr. Scherman; you’ll be so far on your way to Holden’s, and perhaps inertia will carry you through.”

But a little girl presently appeared, running from the hotel portico at the front, as they came round to view from thence. Madam Routh was sitting in the open hall with some newly arrived friends, and sent one of her lambs, as Sin called them, to say to the older girls that she preferred they should not go away again to-night.

“‘Ruin seize thee, Routh–less king!'” quoted Sin Saxon, with an absurd air of declamation. “‘Twas ever thus from childhood’s hour;’ and now, just as we thought childhood’s hour was comfortably over,–that the clock had struck one, and down we might run, hickory, dickory, dock,–behold the lengthened sweetness long drawn out of school rule in vacation, even before the very face and eyes of Freedom on her mountain heights! Well, we must go, I suppose. Mr. Scherman, you’ll have to represent us to Mrs. Linceford, and persuade her to join us to Feather-Cap. And be sure you get the ‘little red’!”

“It’ll be all the worse for Graywacke, if we’re kept in and sent off early,” she continued, _sotto voce_, to her companions, as they turned away. “My! what _has_ that boy got?”



After all this, I wonder if you wouldn’t just like to look in at Miss Craydocke’s room with me, who can give you a pass anywhere within the geography of my story?

She came in here “with the lath and plaster,” as Sin Saxon had said. She had gathered little comforts and embellishments about her from summer to summer, until the room had a home-cheeriness, and even a look of luxury, contrasted with the bare dormitories around it. Over the straw matting, that soon grows shabby in a hotel, she had laid a large, nicely-bound square of soft, green carpet, in a little mossy pattern, that covered the middle of the floor, and was held tidily in place by a foot of the bedstead and two forward ones each of the table and washstand. On this little green stood her Shaker rocking-chair and a round white-pine light-stand with her work-basket and a few books. Against the wall hung some white-pine shelves with more books,–quite a little circulating library they were for invalids and read-out people, who came to the mountains, like foolish virgins, with scant supply of the oil of literature for the feeding of their brain-lamps. Besides these, there were engravings and photographs in _passe-partout_ frames, that journeyed with her safely in the bottoms of her trunks. Also, the wall itself had been papered, at her own cost and providing, with a pretty pale-green hanging; and there were striped muslin curtains to the window, over which were caught the sprays of some light, wandering vine that sprung from a low-suspended terra-cotta vase between.

She had everything pretty about her, this old Miss Craydocke. How many people do, that have not a bit of outward prettiness themselves! Not one cubit to the stature, not one hair white or black, can they add or change; and around them grow the lilies in the glory of Solomon, and a frosted leaf or a mossy twig, that they can pick up from under their feet and bring home from the commonest walk, comes in with them, bearing a brightness and a grace that seems sometimes almost like a satire! But in the midst grows silently the century-plant of the soul, absorbing to itself hourly that which feeds the beauty of the lily and the radiance of the leaf,–waiting only for the hundred years of its shrouding to be over!

Miss Craydocke never came in from the woods and rocks without her trophies. Rare, lovely mosses and bits of most delicate ferns, maidenhair and lady-bracken, tiny trails of wintergreen and arbutus, filled a great shallow Indian china dish upon her bureau top, and grew, in their fairy fashion, in the clear, soft water she kept them freshened with.

Shining scraps of mountain minerals–garnets and bright-tinted quartz and beryls, heaped artistically, rather than scientifically, on a base of jasper and malachite and dark basalt and glistening spar and curious fossils; these not gathered by any means in a single summer or in ordinary ramblings, but treasured long, and standing, some of them, for friendly memories–balanced on the one side a like grouping of shells and corals and sea-mosses on the other, upon a broad bracket-mantel put up over a little corner fireplace; for Miss Craydocke’s room, joining the main house, took the benefit of one of its old chimneys.

Above or about the pictures lay mossy, gnarled, and twisted branches, gray and green, framing them in a forest arabesque; and great pine cones, pendent from their boughs, crowned and canopied the mirror.

“What _do_ you keep your kindling wood up there for?” Sin Saxon had asked, with a grave, puzzled face, coming in, for pure mischief, on one of her frequent and ingenious errands.

“Why, where should I put a pile of wood or a basket? There’s no room for things to lie round here; you have to hang everything up!” was Miss Craydocke’s answer, quick as a flash, her eyes twinkling comically with appreciation of the fun.

And Sin Saxon had gone away and told the girls that the old lady knew how to feather her nest better than any of them, and was sharp enough at a peck, too, upon occasion.

She found her again, one morning, sitting in the midst of a pile of homespun, which she was cutting up with great shears into boys’ blouses.

“There! that’s the noise that has disturbed me so!” cried the girl. “I thought it was a hay-cutter or a planing-machine, or that you had got the asthma awfully. I couldn’t write my letter for listening to it, and came round to ask what _was_ the matter!–Miss Craydocke, I don’t see why you keep the door bolted on your side. It isn’t any more fair for you than for me; and I’m sure I do all the visiting. Besides, it’s dangerous. What if anything should happen in the night? I couldn’t get in to help you. Or there might be a fire in our room,–I’m sure I expect nothing else. We boiled eggs in the Etna the other night, and got too much alcohol in the saucer; and then, in the midst of the blaze and excitement, what should Madam Routh do but come knocking at the door! Of course we had to put it in the closet, and there were all our muslin dresses,–that weren’t hanging on the hooks in Maud’s room! I assure you I felt like the man sitting on the safety-valve, standing with my back against the door, and my clothes spread out for fear she would see the flash under the crack. For we’d nothing else but moonlight in the room.–But now tell me, please, what are all these things? Meal-bags?”

“Do you really want to know?”

“Of course I do. Now that I’ve got over my fright about your strangling with the asthma–those shears did wheeze so!–my curiosity is all alive again.”

“I’ve a cousin down in North Carolina teaching the little freedmen.”

“And she’s to have all these sacks to tie the naughty ones up in? What a bright idea! And then to whip them with rods as the Giant did his crockery, I suppose? Or perhaps–they can’t be petticoats! Won’t she be warm, though?”

“May be, if you were to take one and sew up the seams, you would be able to satisfy yourself.”

“I? Why, I never _could_ put anything together! I tried once, with a pair of hospital drawers, and they were like Sam Hyde’s dog, that got cut in two, and clapped together again in a hurry, two legs up and two legs down. Miss Craydocke, why don’t _you_ go down among the freedmen? You haven’t half a sphere up here. Nothing but Hobbs’s Location, and the little Hoskinses.”

“I can’t organize and execute. Letitia can. It’s her gift. I can’t do great things. I can only just carry round my little cup of cold water.”

“But it gets so dreadfully joggled in such a place as this! Don’t we girls disturb you, Miss Craydocke? I should think you’d be quieter in the other wing, or upstairs.”

“Young folks are apt to think that old folks ought to go a story higher. But we’re content, and they must put up with us, until the proprietor orders a move.”

“Well, good-by. But if ever you do smell smoke in the night, you’ll draw your bolt the first thing, won’t you?”

This evening,–upon which we have offered you your pass, reader,–Miss Craydocke is sitting with her mosquito bar up, and her candle alight, finishing some pretty thing that daylight has not been long enough for. A flag basket at her feet holds strips and rolls of delicate birch-bark, carefully split into filmy thinness, and heaps of star-mosses, cup-mosses, and those thick and crisp with clustering brown spires, as well as sheets of lichen silvery and pale green; and on the lap-board across her knees lies her work,–a graceful cross in perspective, put on card-board in birch shaded from faint buff to bistre, dashed with the detached lines that seem to have quilted the tree-teguments together. Around the foot of the cross rises a mound of lovely moss-work in relief, with feathery filaments creeping up and wreathing about the shaft and thwart-beam. Miss Craydocke is just dotting in some bits of slender coral-headed stems among little brown mushrooms and chalices, as there comes a sudden, imperative knocking at the door of communication, or defense, between her and Sin Saxon.

“You must just open this time, if you please! I’ve got my arms full, and I couldn’t come round.”

Miss Craydocke slipped her lap-board–work and all–under her bureau, upon the floor, for safety; and then with her quaint, queer expression, in which curiosity, pluckiness, and a foretaste of amusement mingled so as to drive out annoyance, pushed back her bolt, and presented herself to the demand of her visitor, much as an undaunted man might fling open his door at the call of a mob.

Sin Saxon stood there, in the light of the good lady’s candle, making a pretty picture against the dim background of the unlighted room beyond. Her fair hair was tossed, and her cheeks flushed; her blue eyes bright with sauciness and fun. In her hands, or across her arms, rather, she held some huge, uncouth thing, that was not to the last degree dainty-smelling, either; something conglomerated rudely upon a great crooked log or branch, which, glanced at closer, proved to be a fragment of gray old pine. Sticks and roots and bark, straw and grass and locks of dirty sheep’s-wool, made up its bulk and its untidiness; and this thing Sin held out with glee, declaring she had brought a real treasure to add to Miss Craydocke’s collection.

“Such a chance!” she said, coming in. “One mightn’t have another in a dozen years. I have just given Jimmy Wigley a quarter for it, and he’d just all but broken his neck to get it. It’s a real crow’s nest. Corvinus something-else-us, I suppose. Where will you have it? I’m going to nail it up for you myself. Won’t it make a nice contrast to the humming-bird’s? Over the bed, shall I? But then, if it _should_ drop down on your nose, you know! I think the corner over the fireplace will be best. Yes, we’ll have it right up perpendicular, in the angle. The branch twists a little, you see, and the nest will run out with its odds and ends like an old banner. Might I push up the washstand to get on to?”

“Suppose you lay it _in_ the fireplace? It will just rest nicely across those evergreen boughs, and–be in the current of ventilation outward.”

“Well, that’s an idea, to be sure.–Miss Craydocke!”–Sin Saxon says this in a sudden interjectional way, as if it were with some quite fresh idea,–“I’m certain you play chess!”

“You’re mistaken. I don’t.”

“You would, then, by intuition. Your counter-moves are–so–triumphant. Why, it’s really an ornament!” With a little stress and strain that made her words interjectional, she had got it into place, thrusting one end up the throat of the chimney, and lodging the crotch that held the nest upon the stems of fresh pine that lay across the andirons; and the “odds and ends,” in safe position, and suggesting neither harm nor unsuitableness, looked unique and curious, and not so ugly.

“It’s really an ornament!” repeated Sin, shaking the dust off her dress.

“As you expected, of course,” replied Miss Craydocke.

“Well, I wasn’t–not to say–confident. I was afraid it mightn’t be much but scientific. But now–if you don’t forget and light a fire under it some day, Miss Craydocke!”

“I shan’t forget; and I’m very much obliged, really. Perhaps by and by I shall put it in a rough box and send it to a nephew of mine, with some other things, for his collection.”

“Goodness, Miss Craydocke! They won’t express it. They’ll think it’s an infernal machine, or a murder. But it’s disposed of for the present, anyway. The truth was, you know, twenty-five cents is a kind of cup of cold water to Jimmy Wigley, and then there was the fun of bringing it in, and I didn’t know anybody but you to offer it to; I’m so glad you like it; the girls thought you wouldn’t. Perhaps I can get you another, or something else as curious, some day,–a moose’s horns, or a bear-skin; there’s no knowing. But now, apropos of the nest, I’ve a crow to _pick_ with you. You gave me horrible dreams all night, the last time I came to see you. I don’t know whether it was your little freedmen’s meal-bags, or Miss Letitia’s organizing and executive genius, or the cup of cold water you spoke of, or–it’s just occurred to me–the fuss I had over my waterfall that day, trying to make it into a melon; but I had the most extraordinary time endeavoring to pay you a visit. Down South it was, and there you were, organizing and executing, after all, on the most tremendous scale, some kind of freedmen’s institution. You were explaining to me and showing me all sorts of things, in such enormous bulk and extent and number! First I was to see your stables, where the cows were kept. A trillion of cows!–that was what you told me. And on the way we went down among such wood-piles!–whole forests cut up into kindlings and built into solid walls that reached up till the sky looked like a thread of blue sewing-silk between. And presently we came to a kind of opening and turned off to see the laundry (Mrs. Lisphin had just brought home my things at bedtime); and _there_ was a place to do the world’s washing in, or bleach out all the Ethiopians! Tubs like the hold of the Great Eastern, and spouts coming into them like the Staubbach! Clothes-lines like a parade-ground of telegraphs, fields like prairies, snow-patched, as far as you could see, with things laid out to whiten! And suddenly we came to what was like a pond of milk, with crowds of negro women stirring it with long poles; and all at once something came roaring behind and you called to me to jump aside,–that the hot water was let on to make the starch; and down it rushed, a cataract like Niagara, in clouds of steam! And then–well, it changed to something else, I suppose; but it was after that fashion all night long, and the last I remember, I was trying to climb up the Cairn with a cup of cold water set on atilt at the crown of my head, which I was to get to the sky parlor without spilling a drop!”

“Nobody’s brain but yours would have put it together like that,” said Miss Craydocke, laughing till she had to feel for her pocket-handkerchief to wipe away the tears.

“Don’t cry, Miss Craydocke,” said Sin Saxon, changing suddenly to the most touching tone and expression of regretful concern. “I didn’t mean to distress you. I don’t think anything is really the matter with my brain!”

“But I’ll tell you what it is,” she went on presently, in her old manner, “I _am_ in a dreadful way with that waterfall, and I wish you’d lend me one of your caps, or advise me what to do. It’s an awful thing when the fashion alters, just as you’ve got used to the last one. You can’t go back, and you don’t dare to go forward. I wish hair was like noses, born in a shape, without giving you any responsibility. But we do have to finish ourselves, and that’s just what makes us restless.”

“You haven’t come to the worst yet,” said Miss Craydocke significantly.

“What do you mean? What is the worst? Will it come all at once, or will it be broken to me?”

“It will be broken, and _that_’s the worst. One of these years you’ll find a little thin spot coming, may be, and spreading, over your forehead or on the top of your head; and it’ll be the fashion to comb the hair just so as to show it off and make it worse; and for a while that’ll be your thorn in the flesh. And then you’ll begin to wonder why the color isn’t so bright as it used to be, but looks dingy, all you can do to it; and again, after a while, some day, in a strong light, you’ll see there are white threads in it, and the rest is fading; and so by degrees, and the degrees all separate pains, you’ll have to come to it and give up the crown of your youth, and take to scraps of lace and muslin, or a front, as I did a dozen years ago.”

Sin Saxon had no sauciness to give back for that; it made her feel all at once that this old Miss Craydocke had really been a girl too, with golden hair like her own, perhaps,–and not so very far in the past, either, but that a like space in her own future could picture itself to her mind; and something, quite different in her mood from ordinary, made her say, with even an unconscious touch of reverence in her voice: “I wonder if I shall bear it, when it comes, as well as you!”

“There’s a recompense,” said Miss Craydocke. “You’ll have got it all then. You’ll know there’s never a fifty or a sixty years that doesn’t hold the tens and the twenties.”

“I’ve found out something,” said Sin Saxon, as she came back to the girls again. “A picked-up dinner argues a fresh one some time. You can’t have cold roast mutton unless it has once been hot!” And never a word more would she say to explain herself.



The “little red” was at the door of the Green Cottage. Frank Scherman had got the refusal of it the night before, and early in the morning Madam Routh’s compliments had come to Mrs. Linceford, with the request, in all the form that mountain usage demanded, that she and the young ladies would make part of the expedition for the day.

Captain Jotham Green, host and proprietor, himself stood at the horses’ heads. The Green Cottage, you perceive, had double right to its appellation. It was both baptismal and hereditary, surname and given name,–given with a coat of fresh, pale, pea-green paint that had been laid on it within the year, and had communicated a certain tender, newly-sprouted, May-morning expression to the old centre and its outshoots.

Mrs. Green, within, was generously busy with biscuits, cold chicken, doughnuts fried since sunrise, and coffee richly compounded with cream and sugar, which a great tin can stood waiting to receive and convey, and which was at length to serve as cooking utensil in reheating upon the fire of coals the picnickers would make up under the very tassel of Feather-Cap.

The great wagons were drawn up also before the piazza of the hotel; and between the two houses flitted the excursionists, full of the bright enthusiasm of the setting off, which is the best part of a jaunt, invariably.

Leslie Goldthwaite, in the hamadryad costume, just aware–which it was impossible for her to help–of its exceeding prettiness, and of glances that recognized it, pleased with a mixture of pleasures, was on the surface of things once more, taking the delight of the moment with a young girl’s innocent abandonment. It was nice to be received so among all these new companions; to be evidently, though tacitly, _voted_ nice, in the way girls have of doing it; to be launched at once into the beginning of apparently exhaustless delights,–all this was superadded to the first and underlying joy of merely being alive and breathing, this superb summer morning, among these forests and hills.

Sin Saxon, whatever new feeling of half sympathy and respect had been touched in her toward Miss Craydocke the night before, in her morning mood was all alive again to mischief. The small, spare figure of the lady appeared at the side-door, coming out briskly toward them along the passage, just as the second wagon filled up and was ready to move.

I did not describe Miss Craydocke herself when I gave you the glimpse into her room. There was not much to describe; and I forgot it in dwelling upon her surroundings and occupations. In fact, she extended herself into these, and made you take them involuntarily and largely into the account in your apprehension of her. Some people seem to have given them at the outset a mere germ of personality like this, which must needs widen itself out in like fashion to be felt at all. Her mosses and minerals, her pressed leaves and flowers, her odds and ends of art and science and prettiness which she gathered about her, her industries and benevolences,–these were herself. Out of these she was only a little elderly thread-paper of a woman, of no apparent account among crowds of other people, and with scarcely enough of bodily bulk or presence to take any positive foothold anywhere.

What she might have seemed, in the days when her hair was golden, and her little figure plump, and the very unclassical features rounded and rosy with the bloom and grace of youth, was perhaps another thing; but now, with her undeniable “front,” and cheeks straightened into lines that gave you the idea of her having slept all night upon both of them, and got them into longitudinal wrinkles that all day was never able to wear out; above all, with her curious little nose (that was the exact expression of it), sharply and suddenly thrusting itself among things in general from the middle plane of her face with slight preparatory hint of its intention,–you would scarcely charge her, upon suspicion, with any embezzlement or making away of charms intrusted to her keeping in the time gone by.

This morning, moreover, she had somehow given herself a scratch upon the tip of this odd, investigating member; and it blushed for its inquisitiveness under a scrap of thin pink adhesive plaster.

Sin Saxon caught sight of her as she came. “Little Miss Netticoat!” she cried, just under her breath, “_with_ a fresh petticoat, _and_ a red nose!” Then, changing her tone with her quotation,–

“‘Wee, modest, crimson-tipped flower, Thou’st met me in a luckless hour!’

Thou always dost! What _hast_ thou gone and got thyself up so for, just as I was almost persuaded to be good? Now–_can_ I help that?” And she dropped her folded hands in her lap, exhaled a little sigh of vanquished goodness, and looked round appealingly to her companions.

“It’s only,” said Miss Craydocke, reaching them a trifle out of breath, “this little parcel,–something I promised to Prissy Hoskins,–and _would_ you just go round by the Cliff and leave it for me?”

“Oh, I’m afraid of the Cliff!” cried Florrie Arnall. “Creggin’s horses backed there the other day. It’s horribly dangerous.”

“It’s three quarters of a mile round,” suggested the driver.

“The ‘little red’ might take it. They’ll go faster than we, or can, if they try,” said Mattie Shannon.

“The ‘little red’ ‘s just ready,” said Sin Saxon. “You needn’t laugh. That wasn’t a pun. But oh, Miss Craydocke!”–and her tone suggested the mischievous apropos–“what _can_ you have been doing to your nose?”

“Oh, yes!”–Miss Craydocke had a way of saying “Oh, yes!”–“It was my knife slipped as I was cutting a bit of cord, in a silly fashion, up toward my face. It’s a mercy my nose served, to save my eyes.”

“I suppose that’s partly what noses are for,” said Sin Saxon gravely. “Especially when you follow them, and ‘go it blind.'”

“It was a piece of good luck, too, after all,” said Miss Craydocke, in her simple way, never knowing, or choosing to know, that she was snubbed or quizzed. “Looking for a bit of plaster, I found my little parcel of tragacanth that I wanted so the other day. It’s queer how things turn up.”

“Excessively queer,” said Sin solemnly, still looking at the injured feature. “But, as you say, it’s all for the best, after all. ‘There _is_ a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will.’ Hiram, we might as well drive on. I’ll take the parcel, Miss Craydocke. We’ll get it there somehow, going or coming.”

The wagon rolled off, veils and feathers taking the wind bravely, and making a gay moving picture against the dark pines and gray ledges as it glanced along. Sin Saxon tossed Miss Craydocke’s parcel into the “little red” as they passed it by, taking the road in advance, giving a saucy word of command to Jim Holden, which transferred the charge of its delivery to him, and calling out a hurried explanation to the ladies over her shoulder that “it would take them round the Cliff,–the most wonderful point in all Outledge; up and down the whole length of New Hampshire they could see from there, if their eyes were good enough!” And so they were away.

Miss Craydocke turned back into the house, not a whit discomfited, and with not so much as a contrasting sigh in her bosom or a rankle in her heart. On the contrary, a droll twinkle played among the crow’s-feet at the corners of her eyes. They could not hurt her, these merry girls, meaning nothing but the moment’s fun, nor cheat her of her quiet share of the fun either.

Up above, out of a window over the piazza roof, looked two others,–young girls, one of them at least,–also, upon the scene of the setting-off.

I cannot help it that a good many different people will get into my short story. They get into a short time, in such a summer holiday, and so why not? At any rate, I must tell you about these Josselyns.

These two had never in all their lives been away pleasuring before. They had nobody but each other to come with now. Susan had been away a good deal in the last two years, but it had not been pleasuring. Martha was some five or six years the younger. She had a pretty face, yet marked, as it is so sad to see the faces of the young, with lines and loss–lines that tell of cares too early felt, and loss of the first fresh, redundant bloom that such lines bring.

They sat a great deal at this window of theirs. It was a sort of instinct and habit with them, and it made them happier than almost anything else,–sitting at a window together. It was home to them because at home they lived so: life and duty were so framed in for them,–in one dear old window-recess. Sometimes they thought that it would he heaven to them by and by: that such a seat, and such a quiet, happy outlook, they should find kept for them together, in the Father’s mansion, up above.

At home, it was up three flights of stairs, in a tall, narrow city house, of which the lower floors overflowed with young, boisterous half brothers and sisters,–the tide not seldom rising and inundating their own retreat,–whose delicate mother, not more than eight years older than her eldest step-daughter, was tied hand and foot to her nursery, with a baby on her lap, and the two or three next above with hands always to be washed, disputes and amusements always to be settled, small morals to be enforced, and clean calico tiers to be incessantly put on.

And Susan and Martha sat upstairs and made the tiers.

Mr. Josselyn was a book-keeper, with a salary of eighteen hundred dollars, and these seven children. And Susan and Martha were girls of fair culture, and womanly tastes, and social longings. How does this seem to you, young ladies, and what do you think of their upstairs life together, you who calculate, if you calculate at all, whether five hundred dollars may carry you respectably through your half-dozen city assemblies, where you shine in silk and gossamer, of which there will not be “a dress in the room that cost less than seventy-five dollars,” and come home, after the dance, “a perfect rag”?

Two years ago, when you were perhaps performing in tableaux for the “benefit of the Sanitary,” these two girls had felt the great enthusiasm of the time lay hold of them in a larger way. Susan had a friend–a dear old intimate of school-days, now a staid woman of eight-and-twenty–who was to go out in yet maturer companionship into the hospitals. And Susan’s heart burned to go. But there were all the little tiers, and the ABC’s, and the faces and fingers.

“I can do it for a while,” said Martha, “without you.” Those two words held the sacrifice. “Mamma is so nicely this summer, and by and by Aunt Lucy may come, perhaps. I can do _quite_ well.”

So Martha sat, for months and months, in the upstairs window alone. There were martial marchings in the streets beneath; great guns thundered out rejoicings; flags filled the air with crimson and blue, like an aurora; she only sat and made little frocks and tiers for the brothers and sisters. God knew how every patient needle thrust was really also a woman’s blow for her country.

And now, pale and thin with close, lonely work, the time had come to her at last when it was right to take a respite; when everybody said it must be; when Uncle David, just home from Japan, had put his hand in his pocket and pulled out three new fifty-dollar bills, and said to them in his rough way, “There, girls! Take that, and go your lengths.” The war was over, and among all the rest here were these two women-soldiers honorably discharged, and resting after the fight. But nobody at Outledge knew anything of the story.

There is almost always at every summer sojourn some party of persons who are to the rest what the mid-current is to the stream; who gather to themselves and bear along in their course–in their plans and pleasures and daily doings–the force of all the life of the place. If any expedition of consequence is afoot, _they_ are the expedition; others may join in, or hold aloof, or be passed by; in which last cases, it is only in a feeble, rippling fashion that they go their ways and seek some separate pleasure in by-nooks and eddies, while the gay hum of the main channel goes whirling on. At Outledge this party was the large and merry schoolgirl company with Madam Routh.

“I don’t see why,” said Martha Josselyn, still looking out, as the “little red” left the door of the Green Cottage,–“I don’t see why those new girls who came last night should have got into everything in a minute, and we’ve been here a week and don’t seem to catch to anything at all. Some people are like burrs, I think, or drops of quicksilver, that always bunch or run together. We don’t _stick_, Susie. What’s the reason?”

“Some of these young ladies have been at Madam Routh’s; they were over here last evening. Sin Saxon knows them very well.”

“You knew Effie Saxon at school, too.”

“Eight years ago. And this is the little one. That’s nothing.”

“You petted her, and she came to the house. You’ve told her stories hundreds of times. And she sees we’re all by ourselves.”

“She don’t see. She doesn’t think. That’s just the whole of it.”

“People ought to see, then. You would, Sue, and you know it.”

“I’ve been used to seeing–and thinking.”

“Used! Yes, indeed! And she’s been _used_ to the other. Well, it’s queer how the parts are given out. Shall we go to the pines?”



A great cliff-side rearing itself up, rough with inaccessible crags, bristling with old, ragged pines, and dark with glooms of close cedars and hemlocks, above a jutting table of rock that reaches out and makes a huge semicircular base for the mountain, and is in itself a precipice-pedestal eighty feet sheer up from the river-bank; close in against the hill front, on this platform of stone, that holds its foot or two of soil, a little, poor unshingled house, with a tumbledown picket-fence about it, attempting the indispensable dooryard of all better country-dwellings here where the great natural dooryard or esplanade makes it such an utter nonsense,–this is the place at which the “little red” drew up, ten minutes later, to leave Prissy Hoskins’s parcel.

Dakie Thayne jumped down off the front seat, and held up his arms to help Leslie out over the wheel, upon her declaring that she must go and do the errand herself, to get a nearer look at Hoskins life.

Dakie Thayne had been asked, at Leslie’s suggestion, to fill the vacant sixth seat beside the driver, the Thoresbys one and all declining. Mrs. Thoresby was politic: she would not fall into the wake of this schoolgirl party at once. By and by she should be making up her own excursions, and asking whom she would.

“There’s nothing like a boy of that age for use upon a picnic, Mrs. Linceford,” Leslie had pleaded, with playful parody, in his behalf, when the lady had hinted something of her former sentiment concerning the encroachments and monopolies of “boys of that age.” And so he came.

The Haddens got Jim Holden to lift them down on the opposite side, for a run to the verge of the projecting half-circle of rock that, like a gigantic bay-window or balcony in the mighty architecture of the hills, looked up and down the whole perspective of the valley. Jim Holden would readily have driven them round its very edge upon the flat, mossy sward, but for Mrs. Linceford’s nerves, and the vague idea of almost an accident having occurred there lately which pervaded the little party. “Creggin’s horses had backed,” as Florrie Arnall said; and already the new comers had picked up, they scarcely knew how, the incipient tradition, hereafter to grow into an established horror of the “Cliff.”

“It was nothing,” Jim Holden said; “only the nigh hoss was a res’less crittur, an’ contrived to git his leg over the pole; no danger with _his_ cattle.” But Mrs. Linceford cried out in utter remonstrance, and only begged Leslie to be quick, that they might get away from the place altogether.

All this bustle of arrival and discussion and alighting had failed, curiously, to turn the head of an odd, unkempt-looking child,–a girl of nine or ten, with an old calico sun-bonnet flung back upon her shoulders, tangled, sunburnt hair tossing above it; gown, innocent of crinoline, clinging to lank, growing limbs, and bare feet, whose heels were energetically planted at a quite safe distance from each other, to insure a fair base for the centre of gravity,–who, at the moment of their coming, was wrathfully “shoo-ing” off from a bit of rude toy-garden, fenced with ends of twigs stuck up-right, a tall Shanghai hen and her one chicken, who had evidently made nothing, morally or physically, of the feeble inclosure.

“I wish you were dead and in your gravies!” cried the child, achieving, between her righteous indignation and her relenting toward her uncouth pets at the last breath, a sufficiently queer play upon her own word. And with this, the enemy being routed, she turned face to face with Dakie Thayne and Leslie Goldthwaite, coming in at the dilapidated gate.

“They’ve scratched up all my four-o’clocks!” she said. And then her rustic shyness overcame suddenly all else, and she dragged her great toe back and forth in the soft mould, and put her forefinger in her mouth, and looked askance at them from the corners of her eyes.

“Prissy? Prissy Hoskins?” Leslie addressed her in sweet, inquiring tones. But the child stood still with finger in mouth, and toe working in the ground, not a bit harder nor faster, nor changing in the least, for more or less, the shy look in her face.

“That’s your name, isn’t it? I’ve got something for you. Won’t you come and get it?'” Leslie paused, waiting; fearing lest a further advance on her own part might put Prissy altogether to flight. Nothing answered in the girl’s eyes to her words; there was no lighting up of desire or curiosity, however restrained; she stood like one indifferent or uncomprehending.

“She’s awful deef!” cried a new voice from the doorway. “She ain’t that scared. She’s sarcy enough, sometimes.”

A woman, middle-aged or more, stood on the rough, slanting door-stone. She had bare feet, in coarse calf-skin slippers, stringy petticoats differing only from the child’s in length, sleeves rolled up to the shoulders, no neck garniture,–not a bit of anything white about her. Over all looked forth a face sharp and hard, that might have once been good-looking, in a raw, country fashion, and that had undoubtedly always been, what it now was, emphatically Yankee-smart. An inch-wide stripe of black hair was combed each way over her forehead, and rolled up on her temples in what, years and years ago, used to be called most appropriately “flat curls,”–these fastened with long horn side-combs. Beyond was a strip of desert,–no hair at all for an inch and a half more toward the crown; the rest dragged back and tied behind with the relentless tightness that gradually and regularly, by the persistence of years, had accomplished this peculiar belt of clearing. It completed her expression; it was as a very halo of Yankee saintship crowning the woman who in despite of poverty and every discouragement had always hated, to the very roots of her hair, anything like what she called a “sozzle;” who had always been screwed up and sharp set to hard work. She couldn’t help the tumbledown fence; she had no “men-folks” round; and she couldn’t have paid for a hundred pickets and a day’s carpentering, to have saved her life. She couldn’t help Prissy’s hair even; for it would kink and curl, and the minute the wind took it “there it was again;” and it was not time yet, thank goodness! to harrow it back and begin in her behalf the remarkable engineering which had laid out for herself that broad highway across all the thrifty and energetic bumps up to Veneration (who knows how much it had had to do with mixing them in one common tingle of mutual and unceasing activity?) and down again from ear to ear. Inside the poor little house you would find all spick and span, the old floor white and sanded, the few tins and the pewter spoons shining upon the shelf, the brick hearth and jambs aglow with fresh “redding,” table and chairs set back in rectangular tidiness. Only one thing made a litter, or tried to; a yellow canary that hung in the window and sang “like a house afire,” as Aunt Hoskins said, however that is, and flung his seeds about like the old “Wash at Edmonton,” “on both sides of the way.” Prissy was turned out of doors in all pleasant weather, so otherwise the keeping-room stayed trim, and her curly hair grew sunburnt.

“She’s ben deef ever sence she hed the scarlet-fever. Walk in,” said the woman, by no means satisfied to let strangers get only the outside impression of her premises, and turning round to lead the way without waiting for a reply. “Come in, Prissy!” she bawled, illustrating her summons with what might be called a beckoning in broad capitals, done with the whole arm from finger-tips to shoulder, twice or thrice.

Leslie followed over the threshold, and Prissy ran by like a squirrel, and perched herself on a stool just under the bird-cage.

“I wouldn’t keep it if ‘t warn’t for her,” said Aunt Hoskins apologetically. She was Prissy’s aunt, holding no other close domestic relation to living thing, and so had come to be “Aunt Hoskins” in the whole region round about, so far as she was known at all. “It’s the only bird she can hear sing of a morning. It’s as good as all outdoors to her, and I hain’t the heart to make her do without it. _I_’ve done without most things, but it don’t appear to me as if I _could_ do without them. Take a seat, do.”

“I thank you, but my friends are waiting. I’ve brought something for Prissy, from Miss Craydocke at the hotel.” And Leslie held out the package which Dakie Thayne, waiting at the door, had put into her hand as she came in.

“Lawful suz, Prissy! if ‘t ain’t another book!” cried the good woman, as Prissy, quick to divine the meaning of the parcel, the like of which she had been made accustomed to before, sprang to her aunt’s side within hearing of her exclamation. “If she ain’t jest the feelingest and thoughtfullest–Well! open it yourself, child; there’s no good of a bundle if you don’t.”

Poor Prissy was thus far happy that she had not been left in the providence of her little life to utter ignorance of this greatest possible delight–a common one to more outwardly favored children–of a real parcel all one’s own. The book, without the brown paper and string, would have been as nothing, comparatively.

Leslie could not but linger to see it untied. There came out a book,–a wonderful big book,–Grimm’s Tales; and some little papers fell to the floor. These were flower seeds,–bags labeled “Petunia,” “Candytuft,” “Double Balsam,” “Portulaca.”

“Why, Prissy!” shouted Miss Hoskins in her ear as she picked them up, and read the names; “them’s elegant things! They’ll beat your four-o’clocks all to nothin’. It’s lucky the old Shank-high did make a clearin’ of ’em. Tell Miss Craydocke,” she continued, turning again to Leslie, “that I’m comin’ down myself, to–no, I _can’t_ thank her! She’s made a _life_ for that ‘ere child, out o’ nothin’, a’most!”

Leslie stood hushed and penetrated in the presence of this good deed, and the joy and gratitude born of it.

“This ain’t all, you see; nor’t ain’t nothin’ new. She’s ben at it these two year; learnin’ the child to read, an’ tellin’ her things, an’ settin’ her to hunt ’em out, and to do for herself. She was crazy about flowers, allers, an’ stories; but, lor, I couldn’t stop to tell ’em to her, an’ I never knew but one or two; an’ now she can read ’em off to me, like a minister. She’s told her a lot o’ stuff about the rocks,–_I_ can’t make head nor tail on’t; but it’d please you to see her fetchin’ ’em in by the apern-full, an’ goin’ on about ’em, that is, if there was reely any place to put ’em afterwards. That’s the wust on’t. I tell you, it _is_ jest _makin_’ a life out o’ pieces that come to hand. Here’s the girl, an’ there’s the woods an’ rocks; there’s all there was to do with, or likely to be; but she found the gumption an’ the willingness, an’ she’s done it!”

Prissy came close over to Leslie with her book in her hand. “Wait a minute,” she said, with the effort in her tone peculiar to the deaf. “I’ve got something to send back.”

“_If_ it’s convenient, you mean,” put in Aunt Hoskins sharply. “She’s as blunt as a broomstick, that child is.”

But Prissy had sprung away in her squirrel-like fashion, and now came back, bringing with her something really to make one’s eyes water, if one happened, at least, to be ever so little of a geologist,–a mass of quartz rock as large as she could grasp with her two hands, shot through at three different angles with three long, superb, columnar crystals of clear, pale-green beryl. If Professor Dana had known this exact locality, and a more definite name for the “Cliff,” wouldn’t he have had it down in his Supplement with half a dozen exclamation points after the “beryl”!

“I found it a-purpose!” said Prissy, with the utmost simplicity, putting the heavy specimen out of her own hands into Leslie’s. “She’s been a-wantin’ it this great while, and we’ve looked for it everywheres!”

“A-purpose” it did seem as if the magnificent fragment had been laid in the way of the child’s zealous and grateful search. “There were only the rocks,” as Aunt Hoskins said; in no other way could she so joyously have acknowledged the kindness that had brightened now three summers of her life.

“It’ll bother you, I’m afeard,” said the woman.

“No, indeed! I shall _like_ to take it for you,” continued Leslie, with a warm earnestness, stooping down to the little girl, and speaking in her clear, glad tone close to her cheek. “I only wish _I_ could find something to take her myself.” And with that, close to the little red-brown cheek as she was, she put the period of a quick kiss to her words.

“Come again, and we’ll hunt for some together,” said the child, with instant response of cordiality.

“I will come–if I possibly can,” was Leslie’s last word, and then she and Dakie Thayne hurried back to the wagon.

The Haddens had just got in again upon their side. They were full of exclamations about the wonderful view up and down the long valley-reaches.

“You needn’t tell _me_!” cried Elinor, in high enthusiasm. “I don’t care a bit for the geography of it. That great aisle goes straight from Lake Umbagog to the Sound!”

“It is a glorious picture,” said Mrs. Linceford. “But I’ve had a little one, that you’ve lost. You’ve no idea, Leslie, what a lovely tableau you have been making,–you and Dakie, with that old woman and the blowzy child!”

Leslie blushed.

“You’ll never look prettier, if you try ever so hard.”

“Don’t, Mrs. Linceford!”

“Why not?” said Jeannie. “It’s only a pity, I think, that you couldn’t have known it at the time. They say we don’t know when we’re happiest; and we _can’t_ know when we’re prettiest; so where’s the satisfaction?”

“That’s part of your mistake, Jeannie, perhaps,” returned her sister. “If you had been there you’d have spoiled the picture.”

“Look at that!” exclaimed Leslie, showing her beryl. “That’s for Miss Craydocke.” And then, when the first utterances of amazement and admiration were over, she told them the story of the child and her misfortune, and of what Miss Craydocke had done. “_That_’s beautiful, I think,” said she. “And it’s the sort of beauty, may be, that one might feel as one went along. I wish I could find–a diamond–for that woman!”

“Thir garnits on Feather-Cap,” put in Jim the driver.

“Oh, _will_ you show us where?”

“Well, ‘t ain’t nowhers in partickler,” replied Jim. “It’s jest as you light on ’em. And you wouldn’t know the best ones when you did. I’ve seen ’em,–dead, dull-lookin’ round stones that’ll crack open, chock–full o’ red garnits as an egg is o’ meat.”

“Geodes!” cried Dakie Thayne.

Jim Holden turned round and looked at him as if he thought he had got hold of some new-fashioned expletive,–possibly a pretty hard one.

They came down, now, on the other side of the Cliff, and struck the ford. This diverted and absorbed their thoughts, for none of the ladies had ever forded a river before.

“Are you sure it’s safe?” asked Mrs. Linceford.

“Safe as meetin’,” returned Jim. “I’d drive across with my eyes shot.”

“Oh, don’t!” cried Elinor.

“I ain’t agoin’ ter; but I could,–an’ the hosses, too, for that matter.”

It was exciting, nevertheless, when the water in mid-channel came up nearly to the body of the wagon, and the swift ripples deluded the eye into almost conviction that horses, vehicle, and all were not gaining an inch in forward progress, but drifting surely down. They came up out of the depths, however, with a tug, and a swash, and a drip all over, and a scrambling of hoofs on the pebbles, at the very point aimed at in such apparently sidelong fashion,–the wheel-track that led them up the bank and into the ten-mile pine woods through which they were to skirt the base of the Cairn and reach Feather-Cap on his accessible side. It was one long fragrance and stillness and shadow.

They overtook the Routh party at the beginning of the mountain-path. The pine woods stretched on over the gradual slope, as far as they would climb before dinner. Otherwise the midday heats would have been too much for them. This was the easy part of the way, and there was breath for chat and merriment.

Just within the upper edge of the woods, in a comparatively smooth opening, they halted. Here they spread their picnic, while up above, on the bare, open rock, the young men kindled their fire and heated the coffee; and here they ate and drank, and rested through the noontide.

Light clouds flitted between the mountains and the heavens, later in the day, and flung bewildering, dreamy shadows on the far-off steeps, and dropped a gracious veil over the bald forehead and sun-bleak shoulders of Feather-Cap. It was “weather just made for them,” as fortunate excursionists are wont to say.

Sin Saxon was all life, and spring, and fun. She climbed at least three Feather-Caps, dancing from stone to stone with tireless feet, and bounding back and forth with every gay word that it occurred to her to say to anybody. Pictures? She made them incessantly. She was a living dissolving view. You no sooner got one bright look or graceful attitude than it was straightway shifted into another. She kept Frank Scherman at her side for the first half-hour, and then, perhaps, his admiration or his muscles tired, for he fell back a little to help Madam Routh up a sudden ridge, and afterwards, somehow, merged himself in the quieter group of strangers.

By and by one of the Arnalls whispered to Mattie Shannon,–“He’s sidled off with her, at last. Did you ever know such a fellow for a new face? But it’s partly the petticoat. He’s such an artist’s eye for color. He was raving about her all the while she stood hanging those shawls among the pines to keep the wind from Mrs. Linceford. She isn’t downright pretty either. But she’s got up exquisitely!”

Leslie Goldthwaite, in her lovely mountain dress, her bright bloom from enjoyment and exercise, with the stray light through the pines burnishing the bronze of her hair, had innocently made a second picture, it would seem. One such effects deeper impression, sometimes, than the confusing splendor of incessant changes.

“Are you looking for something? Can I help you?” Frank Scherman had said, coming up to her, as she and her friend Dakie, a little apart from the others, were poising among some loose pebbles.

“Nothing that I have lost,” Leslie answered, smiling. “Something I have a very presumptuous wish to find. A splendid garnet geode, if you please!”

“That’s not at all impossible,” returned the young man. “We’ll have it before we go down,–see if we don’t!”

Frank Scherman knew a good deal about Feather-Cap, and something of geologizing. So he and Leslie–Dakie Thayne, in his unswerving devotion, still accompanying–“sidled off” together, took a long turn round under the crest, talking very pleasantly–and restfully, after Sin Saxon’s continuous brilliancy–all the way. How they searched among loose drift under the cliff, how Mr. Scherman improvised a hammer from a slice of rock; and how, after many imperfect specimens, they did at last “find a-purpose” an irregular oval of dull, dusky stone, which burst with a stroke into two chalices of incrusted crimson crystals,–I ought to be too near the end of a long chapter to tell. But this search and this finding, and the motive of it, were the soul and the crown of Leslie’s pleasure for the day. She did not even stop to think how long she had had Frank Scherman’s attention all to herself, or the triumph that it was in the eyes of the older girls, among whom he was excessively admired, and not very disguisedly competed for. She did not know how fast she was growing to be a sort of admiration herself among them, in their girls’ fashion, or what she might do, if she chose, in the way of small, early belleship here at Outledge with such beginning,–how she was “getting on,” in short, as girls express it. And so, as Jeannie Hadden asked, “Where was the satisfaction?”

“You never knew anything like it,” said Jeannie to her friend Ginevra, talking it all over with her that evening in a bit of a visit to Mrs. Thoresby’s room. “I never saw anybody take so among strangers. Madam Routh was delighted with her; and so, I should think, was Mr. Scherman. They say he hates trouble; but he took her all round the top of the mountain, hammering stones for her to find a geode.”

“That’s the newest dodge,” said Mrs. Thoresby, with a little sarcastic laugh. “Girls of that sort are always looking for geodes.” After this, Mrs. Thoresby had always a little well-bred venom for Leslie Goldthwaite.

At the same time Leslie herself, coming out on the piazza for a moment after tea, met Miss Craydocke approaching over the lawn. She had only her errand to introduce her, but she would not lose the opportunity. She went straight up to the little woman, in a frank, sweet way. But a bit of embarrassment underneath, the real respect that made her timid,–perhaps a little nervous fatigue after the excitement and exertion of the day,–did what nerves and embarrassment, and reverence itself will do sometimes,–played a trick with her perfectly clear thought on its way to her tongue.

“Miss Graywacke, I believe?” she said, and instantly knew the dreadful thing that she had done.

“Exactly,” said the lady, with an amused little smile.

“Oh, I _do_ beg your pardon,” began Leslie, blushing all over.

“No need,–no need. Do you think I don’t know what name I go by, behind my back? They suppose because I’m old and plain and single, and wear a front, and don’t understand rats and the German, that I’m deaf and blind and stupid. But I believe I get as much as they do out of their jokes, after all.” The dear old soul took Leslie by both her hands as she spoke, and looked a whole world of gentle benignity at her out of two soft gray eyes, and then she laughed again. This woman had no _self_ to be hurt.

“We stopped at the Cliff this morning,” Leslie took heart to say; “and they were so glad of your parcel,–the little girl and her aunt. And Prissy gave me something to bring back to you; a splendid specimen of beryl that she has found.”

“Then my mind’s at rest!” said Miss Craydocke, cheerier than ever. “I was sure she’d break her neck, or pull the mountain down on her head some day looking for it.”

“Would you like–I’ve found–I should like you to have that, too,–a garnet geode from Feather–Cap?” Leslie thought she had done it very clumsily, and in a hurry, after all.

“Will you come over to my little room, dear,–number fifteen, in the west wing,–to-morrow sometime, with your stones? I want to see more of you.”

There was a deliberate, gentle emphasis upon her words. If the grandest person of whom she had ever known had said to Leslie Goldthwaite, “I want to see more of you,” she would not have heard it with a warmer thrill than she felt that moment at her heart.



It was a glorious July morning, and there was nothing particular on foot. In the afternoon, there would be drives and walks, perhaps; for some hours, now, there would be intensifying heat. The sun had burned away every cloud that had hung rosy about his rising, and the great gray flanks of Washington glared in a pale scorch close up under the sky, whose blue fainted in the flooding presence of the full white light of such unblunted day. Here and there, adown his sides, something flashed out in a clear, intense dazzle, like an enormous crystal cropping from the granite, and blazing with reflected splendor. These were the leaps of water from out dark rifts into the sun.

“Everybody will be in the pines to-day,” said Martha Josselyn. “I think it is better when they all go off and leave us.”

“We can go up under our rock,” said Sue, putting stockings and mending cotton into a large, light basket. “Have you got the chess-board? What _should_ we do without our mending-day?”

These two girls had bought new stockings for all the little feet at home, that the weekly darning might be less for the mother while they were away; and had come with their own patiently cared for old hose, “which they should have nothing else to do but to embroider.”

They had made a sort of holiday, in their fashion, of mending-day at home, till it had come to seem like a positive treat and rest; and the habit was so strong upon them that they hailed it even here. They always got out their little chess-board, when they sat down to the big basket together. They could darn, and consider, and move, and darn again; and so could keep it up all day long, as else even they would have found it nearly intolerable to do. So, though they seemed slower at it, they really in the end saved time. Thursday night saw the tedious work all done, and the basket piled with neatly folded pairs, like a heap of fine white rolls. This was a great thing, and “enough for one day,” as Mrs. Josselyn said. It was disastrous if they once began to lie over. If they could be disposed of between sun and sun, the girls were welcome to any play they could get out of it.

“There they go, those two together. Always to the pines, and always with a work-basket,” said Leslie Goldthwaite, sitting on the piazza step at the Green Cottage, by Mrs. Linceford’s feet, the latter lady occupying a Shaker rocking-chair behind. “What nice girls they seem to be,–and nobody appears to know them much, beyond a ‘good-morning’!”

“Henny-penny, Goosie-poosie, Turkey-lurky, Ducky-daddles, _and_ Chicken Little!” said Mrs. Linceford, counting up from thumb to little finger. “Dakie Thayne and Miss Craydocke, Marmaduke Wharne and these two,–they just make it out,” she continued, counting back again. “Whatever you do, Les, don’t make up to Fox Lox at last, for all our sakes!”

Out came Dakie Thayne, at this point, upon them, with his hands full. “Miss Leslie, _could_ you head these needles for me with black wax? I want them for my butterflies, and I’ve made _such_ a daub and scald of it! I’ve blistered three fingers, and put lop-sided heads to two miserable pins, and left no end of wax splutters on my table. I haven’t but two sticks more, and the deacon don’t keep any; I must try to get a dozen pins out of it, at least.” He had his sealing-wax and a lighted “homespun candle,” as Leslie called the dips of Mrs. Green’s manufacture, in one hand, and a pincushion stuck full of needles waiting for tops, in the other.

“I told you so,” said Mrs. Linceford to Leslie. “That’s it, then?” she asked of Dakie Thayne.

“What, ma’am?”

“Butterflies. I knew you’d some hobby or other,–I said so. I’m glad it’s no worse,” she answered, in her pleasant, smiling way. Dakie Thayne had a great liking for Mrs. Linceford, but he adored Leslie Goldthwaite.

“I’d like to show them to you, if you’d care,” he said. “I’ve got some splendid ones. One great Turnus, that I brought with me in the chrysalis, that hatched out while I was at Jefferson. I rolled it up in a paper for the journey, and fastened it in the crown of my hat. I’ve had it ever since last fall. The asterias worms are spinning now,–the early ones. They’re out on the carrot-tops in shoals. I’m feeding up a dozen of ’em in a box. They’re very handsome,–bright green with black and yellow spots,–and it’s the queerest thing to see them stiffen out and change.”

“_Can_ you? Do they do it all at once?” asked Etty Thoresby, slipping into the rocking-chair, as Mrs. Linceford, by whom she had come and placed herself within the last minute, rose and went in to follow her laundress, just then going up the stairs with her basket.

“Pretty much; it seems so. The first thing you know they stick themselves up by their tails, and spin a noose to hang back their heads in, and there they are, like a papoose in a basket. Then their skin turns a queer, dead, ashy color, and grows somehow straight and tight, and they only squirm a little in a feeble way now and then, and grow stiffer and stiffer till they can’t squirm at all, and then they’re mummies, and that’s the end of it till the butterflies are born. It’s a strange thing to see a live creature go into its own shroud, and hang itself up to turn into a corpse. Sometimes a live one, crawling round to find a place for itself, will touch a mummy accidentally; and then, when they’re not quite gone, I’ve seen ’em give an odd little quiver, under the shell, as if they were almost at peace, and didn’t want to be intruded on, or called back to earthly things, and the new comer takes the hint, and respects privacy, and moves himself off to find quarters somewhere else. Miss Leslie, how splendidly you’re doing those! What’s the difference, I wonder, between girls’ fingers and boys’? I couldn’t make those atoms of balls so round and perfect, ‘if I died and suffered,’ as Miss Hoskins says.”

“It’s only centrifugal force,” said Leslie, spinning round between her finger and thumb a needle to whose head she had just touched a globule of the bright black wax. “The world and a pin-head–both made on the same principle.”

The Haddens and Imogen Thoresby strolled along together, and added themselves to the group.

“Let’s go over to the hotel, Leslie. We’ve seen nothing of the girls since just after breakfast. They must be up in the hall, arranging about the tableaux.”

“I’ll come by and by, if you want me; don’t wait. I’m going to finish these–properly;” and she dipped and twirled another needle with dainty precision, in the pause between her words.

“Have you got a lot of brothers at home, Miss Leslie?” asked Dakie Thayne.

“Two,” replied Leslie; “not at home, though, now; one at Exeter, and the other at Cambridge. Why?”

“I was thinking it would be bad–what do you call it–political economy or something, if you hadn’t any, that’s all.”

“Mamma wants you,” said Ginevra Thoresby, looking out at the door to call her sisters. “She’s in the Haughtleys’ room. They’re talking about the wagon for Minster Rock to-night. What _do_ you take up your time with that boy for?” she added, not inaudibly, as she and Imogen turned away together.

“Oh dear!” cried blunt Etty, lingering, “I wonder if she meant me. I want to hear about the caterpillars. Mamma thinks the Haughtleys are such nice people, because they came in their own carriage, and they’ve got such big trunks, and a saddle-horse, and elegant dressing-cases, and ivory-backed brushes! I wish she didn’t care so much about such things.”

Mrs. Thoresby would have been shocked to hear her little daughter’s arrangement and version of her ideas. She had simply been kind to these strangers on their arrival, in their own comfortable carriage, a few days since; had stepped forward,–as somehow it seemed to devolve upon her, with her dignified air and handsome gray curls, when she chose, to do,–representing by a kind of tacit consent the household in general, as somebody in every such sojourn usually will; had interested herself about their rooms, which were near her own, and had reported of them, privately, among other things noted in these first glimpses, that “they had everything about them in the most _per_fect style; ivory-backed brushes, and lovely inlaid dressing-cases, Ginevra; the best all _through_, and no sham!” Yes, indeed, if that could but be said truly, and need not stop at brushes and boxes!

Imogen came back presently, and called to Etty from the stairs, and she was obliged to go. Jeannie Hadden waited till they were fairly off the landing, and then walked away herself, saying nothing, but wearing a slightly displeased air.

Mrs. Thoresby and her elder daughter had taken a sort of dislike to Dakie Thayne. They seemed to think he wanted putting down. Nobody knew anything about him; he was well enough in his place, perhaps; but why should he join himself to their party? The Routh girls had Frank Scherman, and two or three other older attendants; among them he was simply not thought of, often, at all. If it had not been for Leslie and Mrs. Linceford, he would have found himself in Outledge, what boys of his age are apt to find themselves in the world at large,–a sort of odd or stray, not provided for anywhere in the general scheme of society. For this very reason, discerning it quickly, Leslie had been loyal to him; and he, with all his boy-vehemence of admiration and devotion, was loyal to her. She had the feeling, motherly and sisterly in its mingled instinct, by which all true and fine feminine natures are moved, in behalf of the man-nature in its dawn, that so needs sympathy and gentle consideration and provision, and that certain respect which calls forth and fosters self-respect; to be allowed and acknowledged to be somebody, lest for the want of this it should fail, unhappily, ever to be anybody. She was not aware of it; she only followed her kindly instinct. So she was doing, unconsciously, one of the best early bits of her woman-work in the world.

Once in a while it occurred to Leslie Goldthwaite to wonder why it was that she was able to forget–that she found she had forgotten, in a measure–those little self-absorptions that she had been afraid of, and that had puzzled her in her thoughtful moments. She was glad to be “taken up” with something that could please Dakie Thayne; or to go over to the Cliff and see Prissy Hoskins, and tell her a story; or help Dakie to fence in safely her beds of flower-seedlings (she had not let her first visit be her last, in these weeks since her introduction there), or to sit an hour with dear old Miss Craydocke and help her in a bit of charity work, and hear her sweet, simple, genial talk. She had taken up her little opportunities as they came. Was it by instinct only, or through a tender Spirit-leading, that she winnowed them and chose the best, and had so been kept a little out of the drift and hurry that might else have frothed away the hours? “Give us our daily bread,” “Lead us not into temptation,”–they have to do with each other, if we “know the daily bread when we see it.” But that also is of the grace of God.

There was the beginning of fruit under the leaf with Leslie Goldthwaite; and the fine life-current was setting itself that way with its best impulse and its rarest particles.

The pincushion was well filled with the delicate, bristling, tiny-headed needles, when Miss Craydocke appeared, walking across, under her great brown sun-umbrella, from the hotel.

“If you’ve nothing else to do, my dears, suppose we go over to the pines together? Where’s Miss Jeannie? Wouldn’t she like it? All the breeze there is haunts them always.”

“I’m always ready for the pines,” said Leslie. “Here, Dakie, I hope you’ll catch a butterfly for every pin. Oh, now I think of it, have you found your _elephant_?”

“Yes, half way up the garret-stairs. I can’t feed him comfortably, Miss Leslie. He wants to eat incessantly, and the elm-leaves wilt so quickly, if I bring them in, that the first thing I know, he’s out of proper provender and off on a raid. He needs to be on the tree; but then I should lose him.”

Leslie thought a minute. “You might tie up a branch with mosquito-netting,” she said.

“Isn’t that bright? I’ll go right and do it,–only I haven’t any netting,” said he.

“Mrs. Linceford has. I’ll go and beg a piece for you. And then, if you’ll just sit here a minute, I’ll come, Miss Craydocke.”

When she came back, she brought Jeannie with her. To use a vulgar proverb, Jeannie’s nose was rather out of joint since the Haughtleys had arrived. Ginevra Thoresby was quite engrossed with them, and this often involved Imogen. There was only room for six in Captain Green’s wagon, and nothing had been said to Jeannie about the drive to Minster Rock.

Leslie had hanging upon her finger, also, the finest and whitest and most graceful of all possible little splint baskets, only just big enough to carry a bit of such work as was in it now,–a strip of sheer, delicate grass-linen, which needle and thread, with her deft guidance, were turning into a cobweb border, by a weaving of lace-lines, strong, yet light, where the woof of the original material had been drawn out. It was “done for odd-minute work, and was better than anything she could buy.” Prettier it certainly was, when, with a finishing of the merest edge of lace, it came to encircle her round, fair arms and shoulders, or to peep out with its dainty revelation among the gathering treasures of the linen-drawer I told you of. She had accomplished yards of it already for her holiday work.

She had brought the netting, as she promised, for Dakie Thayne, who received it with thanks, and straightway hastened off to get his “elephant” and a piece of string, and to find a convenient elm-branch which he could convert into a cage-pasture.

“I’ll come round to the pines, afterward,” he said.

And just then,–Sin Saxon’s bright face and pretty figure showing themselves on the hotel piazza, with a seeking look and gesture,–Jeannie and Elinor were drawn off also to ask about the tableaux, and see if they were wanted, with the like promise that “they would come presently.” So Miss Craydocke and Leslie walked slowly round, under the sun-umbrella, to the head of the ledge, by themselves.

Up this rocky promontory it was very pretty little climbing, over the irregular turf-covered crags that made the ascent; and once up, it was charming. A natural grove of stately old pine-trees, with their glory of tasseled foliage and their breath of perfume, crowned and sheltered it; and here had been placed at cosy angles, under the deepest shade, long, broad, elastic benches of boards, sprung from rock to rock, and made secure to stakes, or held in place by convenient irregularities of the rock itself. Pine-trunks and granite offered rough support to backs that could so fit themselves; and visitors found out their favorite seats,