Abbildungen der Seite

66 But

[ocr errors]

old mother, and now I suppose her sister and her child; for Hetty is a poor thing---never did much and now I suppose does nothing." “ Are those Finns poor, aunt Miriam ?"

O no-not at all--they are very well off.” "So I thought--they seemed to have plenty of everything, and silver spoons and all-But why then do they go out to work ?"

“ They are a little too fond of getting money I expect," said aunt Miriam. “ And they are a queer sort of people rather—the mother is queer and the children are queer-they ain't like other folks exactly-never were.

"I am very glad we are to have Barby instead of that Lucy Finn," said Fleda. 6 O aunt Miriam! you can't think how much easier my heart feels.

“ Poor child !” said aunt Miriam looking at her. it isn't best, Fleda, to have things work too smooth in this world."

“No, I suppose not," said Fleda sighing. “Isn't it very strange, aunt Miriam, that it should make people worse instead of better to have everything go pleasantly with them?

“It is because they are apt then to be so full of the present that they forget the care of the future.”

“Yes and forget there is anything better than the present, I suppose," said Fleda.

“So we mustn't fret at the ways our Father takes to keep us from hurting ourselves ?" said aunt Miriam cheerfully

“O no!" said Fleda, looking up brightly in answer to the tender manner in which these words were spoken ;-"and I didn't mean that this is much of a trouble-only I am very glad to think that somebody is coming to-morrow.

Aunt Miriam thought that gentle unfretful face could not stand in need of much discipline.

[ocr errors]


Wise men alway
Affyrme and say,
That best is for a mang
For to apply,
The business that he can.



EDA waited for Barby's coming the next day with a

little anxiety. The introduction and installation however were happily got over. Mrs. Rossitur, as Fleda knew, was most easily pleased; and Barby Elster's quick eye was satisfied with the unaffected and universal gentleness and politeness of her new employer. She made herself at home in half an hour; and Mrs. Rossitur and Fleda were comforted to perceive, by unmistakeable signs, that their presence was not needed in the kitchen and they might retire to their own premises and forget there was another part of the house. Fleda had forgotten it utterly, and deliciously enjoying the rest of mind and body she was stretched upon the sofa, luxuriating over some volume from her remnant of a library; when the inner door was suddenly pushed open far enough to admit of the entrance of Miss Élster's head.

6 Where's the soft soap

Fleda?s book went down and her heart jumped to her mouth, for her uncle was sitting over by the window. Mrs. Rossitur looked up in a maze and waited for the question to be repeated.

“I say, where's the soft soap ?"

“Soft soap!” said Mrs. Rossitur, “I don't know whether there is any.-Fleda, do you know ?''

“I was trying to think, aunt Lucy-I don't believe there is any."

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

E6 Where is it?" said Barby.
“ There is none, I believe," said Mrs. Rossitur.
“ Where was it, then ??'

“ Nowhere--there has not been any in the house," said Fleda, raising herself up to see over the back of her sofa.

“ There ha'n't been none !" said Miss Elster, in a tone more significant than her words, and shutting the door as abruptly as she had opened it.

“What upon earth does the woman mean ?" exclaimed Mr. Rossitur, springing up and advancing towards the kitchen door. Fleda threw herself before him.

Nothing at all, uncle Rolf-she doesn't mean anything at all—she doesn't know any better.'

“I will improve her knowledge-get out of the way, Fleda."

' But uncle Rolf, just hear me one moment-please don't !-she didn't mean any harm—these people don't know any manners-just let me speak to her, please uncle Rolf !" said Fleda laying both hands upon her uncle's arms,—“ I'll

Mr. Rossitur's wrath was high, and he would have run over or knocked down anything less gentle that had stood in his way; but even the harshness of strength shuns to set itself in array against the meekness that does not oppose; if the touch of those hands had been a whit less light, or the glance of her eye less submissively appealing, it would have availed nothing. As it was, he stopped and looked at her, at first scowling, but then with a smile.

You manage her!” said he.

“Yes," said Fleda laughing, and now exerting her force she gently pushed him back towards the seat he had quitted, -"yes, uncle Rolf-you've enough else to manage don't undertake our "help.' Deliver over all your displeasure upon me when anything goes wrong-I will be the conductor to carry it off safely into the kitchen and discharge it just at that point where I think it will do most execution. Now will you uncle Rolf ?--Because we have got a newfashioned piece of firearms in the other room that I am afraid will go off unexpectedly if it is meddled with by an unskilful hand;---and that would leave us without arms, you

manage her.


[ocr errors]

see, or with only aunt Lucy's and mine, which are not reliable.”

“ You saucy girl!"_said her uncle, who was laughing partly at and partły with her,----| don't know what you deserve exactly ----Well--keep this precious new operative of yours out of my way and I'll take care to keep out of hers. But mind, you must manage not to have your piece snapping in my face in this fashion, for I won't stand

And so, quieted, Mr, Rossitur sat down to his book. again ; and Fleda leaving hers open went to attend upon Barby.

“ T'here ain't much yallow soap neither," said this personage,---- if this is all. There's one thing--if we ha’n’t got it we can make it. I must get Mis' Rossitur to have leach tub sot up right away. I'ni a dreadful hand for havin' plenty of soap. " What is a leach-tub ??? said Fleda.

Why, a leach-tub, for to leach ashes in. That's easy enough. I'll fix it, afore we're any on us much older. If Mr. Rossitur 'll keep me in good hard wood I sha'n't cost him hardly anything for potash."

“I'll see about it,” said Fleda, * and I will see about having the leach-tub, or whatever it is, put up for you. And Barby, whenever you want anything, will you just speak to me about it?-and if I am in the other room ask me to come out here. Because my aunt is not strong, and does not know where things are as well as I do; and when my uncle is in there he sometimes does not like to be disturbed with hearing any such talk. If you'll tell me I'll see and have everything done for you.

“Well-you get me a leach sot up-that's all I'll ask of you just now," said Barby good-humouredly ;-—“and help me to find the soap-grease, if there is any.

As to the rest, I don't want to see nothin' o' him in the kitchen so l’II relieve him if he don't want to see much o me in the parlour. I shouldn't wonder if there wa’n’t a speek of it ir the house.

Not a speck was there to be found,

66 Your uncle's pockets must ha' had a good hole in 'em by this time," remarked Barby as they came back from the

[ocr errors]

cellar. “However, there never was a crock so empty it couldn't be filled. You get me a leach-tub sot up, and I'll find work for it."

From that time Fleda had no more trouble with her uncle and Barby. Each seemed to have a wholesome appreciation of the other's combative qualities and to shun them. With Mrs. Rossitur Barby was soon all-powerful. It was enough that she wanted a thing, if Mrs. Rossitur's own resources could compass it. For Fleda, to say that Barby had presently a perfect understanding with her and joined to that a most affectionate careful regard, is not perhaps saying much ; for it was true of every one without exception with whom Fleda had much to do. Barby was to all of them a very great comfort and stand-by.

It was well for them that they had her within doors to keep things, as she called it, " right and tight;" for abroad the only system in vogue was one of fluctuation and uncertainty. Mr. Rossitur's Irishman, Donohan, staid his year out, doing as little good and as much at least negative harm as he well could ; and then went, leaving them a good deal poorer than he found them. Dr. Gregory's generosity had added to Mr. Rossitur's own small stock of ready money, giving him the means to make some needed outlays on the

But the outlay, ill-applied, had been greater than the income; a scarcity of money began to be more and more felt; and the comfort of the family accordingly drew within more and more narrow bounds. The temper of the head of the family suffered in at least equal degree.

From the first of Barby's coming poor Fleda had done her utmost to prevent the want of Mons. Emile from being felt. Mr. Rossitur's table was always set by her careful hand, and all the delicacies that came upon it were, unknown to him, of her providing. Even the bread. One day at. breakfast Mr. Rossitur had expressed his impatient displeasure at that of Miss Elster's manufacture.

Fleda saw the distressed shade that came over her aunt's face, and took her resolution. It was the last time. She had fol. lowed her plan of sending for the receipts, and she studied them diligently, both at home and under aunt Miriam. Natural quickness of eye and hand came in aid of her affectionate zeal, and it was not long before she could trust herself to

« ZurückWeiter »