Abbildungen der Seite

“Yes--that is, a cousin has kindly consented to come and help me. " A cousin !" said Mrs. Rossitur.

Ay,we're in a nest of cousins." “In a what, Mr. Rossitur ???

“ In a nest of cousins; and I had rather be in a nest of rooks. I wonder if I shall be expected to ask my ploughmen to dinner! Every second man is a cousin, and the rest are uncles."


Whilst skies are blue and bright,

Whilst flowers are gay,
Whilst eyes that change ere night

Make glad the day;
Whilst yet the calm hours creep,
Dream thou—and from thy sleep
Then wake to weep.


HE days of summer flew by, for the most part lightly

over the heads of Hugh and Fleda. The farm was little to them but a place of pretty and picturesque doings and the scene of nameless delights by wood and stream, in all which, all that summer, Fleda rejoiced; pulling Hugh along with her even when sometimes he would rather have been poring over his books at home. She laughingly said it was good for him; and one half at least of every fine day their feet were abroad. They knew nothing practically of the dairy but that it was an inexhaustible source of the sweetest milk and butter, and indirectly of the richest custards and syllabubs. The flock of sheep that now and then came in sight running over the hill-side, were to them only an image of pastoral beauty and a soft link with the beauty of the past. The two children took the very cream of country life. The books they had left were read with greater eagerness than ever. When the weather was lovely to stay in the house," Shakspeare or Massillon or Sully or the < Curiosities of Literature” or “ Corinne” or Milner's Church History, for Fleda's reading was as miscellaneous as ever, was enjoyed under the flutter of leaves and along with the rippling of the mountain spring; whilst King curled himself up on the skirt of his mistress's gown and slept for company ; hardly more thoughtless and fearless


of harm than his two companions. Now and then Fleda opened her eyes to see that her uncle was moody and not like himself, and that her aunt's gentle face was clouded in consequence; and she could not sometimes help the suspicion that he was not making a farmer of himself; but the next summer wind would blow these thoughts away, or the next look of her fiowers would put them out of her head. The whole courtyard in front of the house had been given up to her peculiar use as a flower-garden, and there she and Hugh made themselves very busy.

But the summer-time came to an end.

It was a November morning, and Fleda had been doing some of the last jobs in her flower-beds. She was coming in with spirits as bright as her cheeks, when her aunt's attitude and look, more than usually spiritless, suddenly checked them. Fleda gave her a hopeful kiss and asked for the explanation.

“ How bright you look, darling!" said her aunt, stroking her cheek.

· Yes, but you don't, aunt Lucy. What has happened ??? “ Mary and Jane are going away."

Going away !- What for ??? " They are tired of the place—don't like it, I suppose."

Very foolish of them! Well, aunt Lucy, what matter ? we can get plenty more in their room.

" Not from the city--not possible; they would not come at this time of year.

“ Sure? Well, then here we can at any rate.”

“Here! But what sort of persons shall we get here? And your uncle--just think!"“O but I think we can manage," said Fleda.

66 When do Mary and Jane want to go ?

"Immediately!--to-morrow--they are not willing to wait till we can get somebody. Think of it!"

“Well let them go," said Fleda, ——“ the sooner the better."

Yes, and I am sure I don't want to keep them; but--" and Mrs. Rossitur wrung her hands," I haven't money enough to pay them quite--and they won't go without it.”

Fleda felt shocked-So much that she could not help looking it


[ocr errors]


* But can't uncle Rolf give it you ?"
Mrs. Rossitur shook her head. 56 I have asked him."
" How much is wanting ?"

Twenty-five. Think of his not being able to give me that!”_ Mrs. Rossitur burst into tears.

Now don't, aunt Lucy !" --said Fleda, guarding well her own composure ;--- you know he has had a great deal to spend upon the farm and paying men, and all, and it is no wonder that he should be a little short just now, cheer up !--we can get along with this anyhow."

“I asked him," said Mrs. Rossitur through her tears, 6 when he would be able to give it to me; and he told me he didn't know !!

Fleda ventured no reply but some of the tenderest caresses that lips and arms could give; and then sprang away and in three minutes was at her aunt's side again.

“Look here, aunt Lucy," said she gently,-- here is twenty dollars, if you can manage the five."

“Where did you get this ?” Mrs. Rossitur exclaimed.

"I got it honestly. It is mine, aunt Lucy,” said Fleda smiling. “Uncle Orrin gave me some money just before we came away, to do what I liked with; and I haven't wanted to do anything with it till now.

But this seemed to hurt Mrs. Rossitur more than all the rest. Leaning her head forward upon Fleda’s breast and clasping her arms about her she cried worse tears than Fleda had seen her shed. If it had not been for the emergency Fleda would have broken down utterly too.

" That it should have come to this ! I can't take it, dear Fleda !??

-“Yes you must, aunt Lucy,” said Fleda soothingly. “I couldn't do anything else with it that would give me so much pleasure. I don't want it-it would lie in my drawer till I don't know when. We'll let these people be off as soon as they please. Don't take it so-uncle Rolf will have money again--only just now he is out, I supposeand we'll get somebody else in the kitchen that will do nicely-you see if we don't.'

Mrs. Rossitur's embrace said what words were powerless

to say.

“But I don't know how we're to find any one here in the country—I don't know who'll go to look--I am sure your uncle won't want to,--and Hugh wouldn't know"

“ I'll go," said Fleda cheerfully;-"Hugh and I. We can do famously--if you'll trust me. I won't promise to bring home a French cook.

“No indeed-we must take what we can get. But you can get no one to-day, and they will be off by the morning's .coach---what shall we do to-morrow,---for dinner ? Your uncle

"I'll get dinner," said Fleda caressing her ;-_“I'll take all that on myself. It sha’n’t be a bad dinner either. Uncle Rolf will like what I do for him I dare say. Now cheer up, aunt Lucy!-dom--that's all I ask of you. Won't you ?---for me ?"

She longed to speak a word of that quiet hope with which in every trouble she secretly comforted herself-she wanted to whisper the words that were that moment in her own mind, “ Truly I know that it shall be well with them that fear God;"---but her natural reserve and timidity kept her lips shut; to her griof.

The women were paid off and dismissed and departed in the next day's coach from Montepoole. Fleda stood at the front door to see them go, with a curious sense that there was an empty house at her back, and indeed upon her back. And in spite of all the cheeriness of her tone to her aunt, she was not without some shadowy feeling that soberer times might be coming upon them.

“What is to be done now ?'' said Hugh close beside her. "O we are going to get somebody else," said Fleda. 6: Where ?" “I don't know !-You and I are going to find out." " You and I!

We are going out after dinner, Hugh dear,” said she turning her bright merry face towards him,-" to pick up somebody."

Linking her arm within his she went back to the deserted kitchen premises to see how her promise about taking Ma ry's place was to be fulfilled.

“Do you know where to look ?" said Hugh. " I've a notion ;-but the first thing is dinner, tliat uncle

si Yes.

« ZurückWeiter »