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could do nothing but sit down and cry too and forgot her oven door.
66 Ain't breakfast ready yet, mother ?" said à manly voice coming in. “I must be off" to see after them ploughs. Hollo !--why mother !"
The first exclamation was uttered as the speaker put the door to the oven's mouth; the second as he turned in quest of the hand that should have done it. He stood wondering, while his mother and Fleda between laughing and cry. ing tried to rouse themselves and look up.
6 What is all this?"
“I see somebody that had like to have spoiled your whole baking--I don't know who it is, yet.
“Don't you now, cousin Seth ?" said Fleda shaking away her tears and getting up.
“I ha’n’t quite lost my recollection, Cousin, you must give me a kiss.--How do you do? You ha'n't forgot how to colour, I see, for all you've been so long among the pale city-folks.
“ I haven't forgotten any thing, cousin Seth," said Fledag blushing indeed but laughing and shaking his hand with as hearty good-will.
“ I don't believe you have,--anything that is good," said he. “Where have you been all this while ?"
“O part of the time in New York, and part of the time in Paris, and some other places.”
Well ha’n't seen anything better than Queechy, or Queechy bread and butter, have you ?'' “No indeed !”
Come, you shall give me another kiss for that,” said he, suiting the action to the word ;--- and now sit down and eat as much bread and butter as you can. It's just as good as it used to be. Come mother ! I guess breakfast is ready by the looks of that coffee-pot." "Breakfast ready!” said Fleda.
Ay indeed ; it's a good half hour since it ought to ha? been ready. If it ain't I can't stop for it. Them boys will be running their furrows like sarpents if I ain't there to start them."
“Which like serpents,” said Fleda," the furrows or the
“Well, I was thinking of the furrows," said he glancing at her;—“I guess there ain't cunning enough in the others to trouble them. Come sit down, and let me see whether you have forgot a Queechy appetite."
“I don't know," said Fleda doubtfully,--"they will expect me at home."
• I don't care who expects you---sit down! you ain't going to eat any bread and butter this morning but my mother's--you haven't got any like it at your house. Mother, give her a cup of coffee, will you, and set her to work."
Fleda was too willing to comply with the invitation, were it only for the charm of old times. She had not seen such a table for years, and little as the conventionalities of delicate taste were known there, it was not without a comeliness of its own in its air of wholesome abundance and the extreme purity of all its arrangements. If but a piece of cold pork were on aunt Miriam's table, it was served with a nicety that would not have offended the most fastidious; and amid irregularities that the fastidious would scorn, there was a sound excellence of material and preparation that they very often fail to know. Fleda made up her mind she would be wanted at home; all the rather perhaps for Hugh's mysterious “hush"; and there was something in the hearty kindness and truth of these friends that she felt particularly genial. And if there was a lack of silver at the board its place was more than filled with the pure gold of association. They sat down to table, but aunt Miriam's eyes devoured Fleda. Mr. Plumfield set about his more material breakfast with all despatch.
“So Mr. Rossitur has left the city for good," said aunt Miriam. " How does he like it?"'.
“ He hasn't been here but a day, you know, aunt Miriam," said Fleda evasively.
“ Is he anything of a farmer ?" asked her cousin.
“I mean, is he going to work the farm himself, or hire it out, or let somebody else work it on shares ???
I don't know,” said Fleda ;-"I think he is going to have a farmer and oversee things himself.”
“ He'll get sick o' that,” said Seth; "unless he's the luck to get hold of just the right hand.”
“ Has he hired anybody yet ?" said aunt Miriam, after a little interval of supplying Fleda with bread and butter?
“Yes ma'am, I believe so." 66 What's his name ?"
“Donohan,--an Irishman, I believe; uncle Rolf hired him in New York."
“For his head man ?" said Seth, with a sufficiently intelligible look
Yes," said Fleda. “Why?"
“ The land's in poor heart now," said he, “a good deal of it; it has been wasted ; it wants first-rate management to bring it in order and make much of it for two or three years to come. I never see an Irishman's head yet that was worth more than a joke. Their hands are all of 'em that's good for anything."
“I believe uncle Rolf: wants to have an American to go with this man," said Fleda.
Seth said nothing, but Fleda understood the shake of his head as he reached over after a pickle. “Are you going to keep a dairy, Fleda ?" said her aunt.
I don't know, ma'am ;--I haven't heard anything about it."
“Does Mrs. Rossitur know anything about country affairs ?"
“No-nothing," Fleda said, her heart sinking perceptibly with every new question.
“She hasn't any cows yet?"
She !-any cows !-But Fleda only said they had not come; she believed they were coming.
“What help has she got?"
“Mother you'll have to take hold and learn her," said Mr. Plumfield.
6 Teach her ?” cried Fleda, repelling the idea ;~"aunt Lucy? she cannot do anything-she isn't strong enough ;not anything of that kind.”
- What did she come here for ?" said Seth.
“You know," said his mother, “ that Mr. Rossitur's circumstances obliged him to quit New York.”
Ay, but that ain't my question. A man had better keep his fingers off anything he can't live by. A farm's one thing or t’other, just as it's worked. The land won't grow specie-it must be fetched out of it. Is Mr. Rossitur a smart man ???
Very,” Fleda said, “about everything but farming." “Well if he'll put himself to school maybe he'll learn," Seth concluded as he finished his breakfast and went off. Fleda rose too, and was standing thoughtfully by the fire, when aunt Miriam came up and put her arms round her. Fleda's eyes sparkled again.
“You're not changed-you're the same little Fleda," she said.
“ Not quite so little," said Fleda smiling.
“Not quite so little, but my own darling. The world hasn't spoiled thee yet.
“I hope not, aunt Miriam.” “ You have remembered your mother's prayer, Fleda ?” " Always!"
How tenderly aunt Miriam's hand was passed over the bowed head,--how fondly she pressed her. And Fleda's answer was as fond.
“I wanted to bring Hugh up to see you, aunt Miriam, with me, but he couldn't come. You will like Hugh. He is so good!"
“ I will come down and see him," said aunt Miriam; and then she went to look after her oven's doings. Fleda stood by, amused to see the quantities of nice things that were rummaged out of it. They did not look like Mrs. Renney's work, but she knew from old experience that they were good.
“How early you must have have been up, to put these things in," said Fleda.
“Put them in! yes, and make them. These were all made this morning, Fleda.“
“This morning !-before breakfast! Why the sun was only just rising when I set out to come up the hill; and I wasn't long coming, aunt Miriam.”
“To be sure; that's the way to get things done. Before breakfast !—What time do you breakfast, Fleda ??? “Not till eight or nine o'clock.”
Eight or nine !-Here ?" “There hasn't been any change made yet, and I don't suppose there will be. Uncle Rolf is always up early, but he can't bear to have breakfast early.
Aunt Miriam's face shewed what she thought; and Fleda went away with all its gravity and doubt settled like lead upon her heart. Though she had one of the identical apple pies in her hands, which aunt Miriam had quietly said was for her and Hugh,” and though a pleasant savour of old times was about it
, Fleda could not get up again the bright feeling with which she had come up the hill. There was a miserable misgiving at heart. It would work off in time.
It had begun to work off, when at the foot of the hill she met her uncle. He was coming after her to ask Mr. Plumfield about the desideratum of a Yankee. Fleda put her pie in safety behind a rock, and turned back with him, and aunt Miriam told them the way to Seth's ploughing ground.
A pleasant word or two had set Fleda's spirits a bounding again, and the walk was delightful. Truly the leaves were not on the trees, but it was April, and they soon would be; there was promise in the light, and hope in the air, and everything smelt of the country and spring-time. The soft tread of the sod, that her foot had not felt for so long,--the fresh look of the newly-turned earth, --here and there the brilliance of a field of winter grain,---and that nameless beauty of the budding trees, that the full luxuriance of summer can never equal,-Fleda's heart was springing for sympathy. And to her, with whom association was everywhere so strong, there was in it all a shadowy presence of her grandfather, with whom she had so often seen the spring-time bless those same hills and fields long ago. She walked on in silence, as her manner commonly was when deeply pleased; there were hardly two persons to whom she would speak her mind freely then. Mi. Rossitur had his own thoughts.