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“I must go home to see about getting up a dinner. I am the greatest hand at making something out of nothing, aunt Miriam, that ever you saw.
There is nothing like practice. I only wish the man uncle Orrin talks about would come along once in a while.”
6 Who was that?" said aunt Miriam.
“A man that used to go about from house to house, said Fleda laughing,
só when the cottagers were making soup, with a ham-bone to give it a relish, and he used to charge them so much for a dip, and so inuch for a wallop."
“ Come, come, I can do as much for you as that,” said aunt Miriam, proceeding to her store-pantry,—“ see herewouldn't this be as good as a ham-bone ?" said she, bringing out of it a fat fowl ;—“how would a wallop of this do ?”
“Admirably !-only--the ham-bone used to come out again,—and I am confident this never would.”
“Well I guess I'll stand that,” said aunt Miriam smiling, _" you wouldn't mind carrying this under your cloak, would you ???
“I have no doubt I shall go home lighter with it than without it, ma'am,--thank you dear aunty !-dear aunt Miriam !"
There was a change of tone, and of eye, as Fleda sealed each thank with a kiss.
• But how is it ?-does all the charge of the house come upon you, dear ???
O, this kind of thing, because aunt Lucy doesn't understand it and can't get along with it so well. She likes better to sew, and I had quite as lief do this.'
" And don't you sew too ?”
“()-a little. She does as much as she can," said Fleda gravely.
" Where is your other cousin ?" said Mrs. Plumfield abruptly.
“Marion ?-she is in England I believe;-we don't hear from her very often.
No, no, I mean the one who is in the army ?” - Charlton !--O he is just ordered off to Mexico," said Fleda sadly, “and that is another great trouble to aunt Lucy. This iniserable war!”
iDoes he never come home?"
Only once since we came from Paris--while we were in New York. He has been stationed away off at the West." “He has a captain's pay now, hasn't he ?"
Yes, but he doesn't know at all how things are at home--he hasn't an idea of it, and he will not have. Well good-bye, dear aunt Miriam-I must run home to take care of my chicken.”
She ran away; and if her eyes many a time on the way down the hill filled and overflowed, they were not bitter nor dark tears; they were the gushings of high and pure and generous affections, weeping for fulness, not for want.
That chicken was not wasted in soup; it was converted into the nicest possible little fricassee, because the toast would make so much more of it; and to Fleda's own dinner little went beside the toast, that a greater portion of the rest might be for her aunt and Hugh.
That same evening Seth Plumfield came into the kitchen while Fleda was there.
“Here is something belongs to you, I believe," said he with a covert smile, bringing out from under his cloak the mate to Fleda's fowl;—“ mother said somethin' had run away with t’other one and she didn't know what to do with this one alone. Your uncle at home?"
The next news that Fleda heard was that Seth had taken a lease of the saw-mill for two years.
Mr. Didenhover did not disappoint Fleda's expectations. Very little could be got from him or the farm under him beyond the immediate supply wanted for the use of the family, and that in kind, not in cash. Mrs. Rossitur was comforted by knowing that some portion of rent had also gone to Dr. Gregory--how large or how small a portion she could not find out. But this left the family in increasing straits, which narrowed and narrowed during the whole first summer and winter of Didenhover's administration. Very straitened they would have been but for the means of relief adopted by the two children, as they were always called. Hugh, as soon as the spring opened, had a quiet hint, through Fleda, that if he had a mind to take the working of the saw-mill he might, for a consideration merely nominal. This offer was immediately and gratefully closed with; and Hugh's earnings were thenceforward very important at home. Fleda had her own ways and means. Mr. Rossitur, more low-spirited and gloomy than ever, seemed to have no heart to anything. He would have worked perhaps if he could bave done it alone; but to join Didenhover and his men, or any other gang of workmen, was too much for his magnanimity. He helped nobody but Fleda. For her he would do anything, at any time; and in the garden and among her flowers in the flowery courtyard he might often be seen at work with her. But nowhere else,
Some bring a capon, some a rurall cake,
To the time walked away, for this family was not now
of those " whom time runneth withal,"—to the second summer of Mr. Didenhover's term.
One morning Mrs. Rossitur was seated in the breakfastroom at her usual employment, mending and patching ; no sinecure now. Fleda opened the kitchen door and came in folding up a calico apron she had just taken off. “You are tired, dear,” said Mrs. Rossitur sorrowfully;
you look pale.” “Do I ???_said Fleda sitting down. “I am a little tired !"
“Why do you do so ?”
"O it's nothing" said Fleda cheerfully ;-"I haven't hurt myself. I shall be rested again in a few minutes."
“ What have you been doing ?"
“O I tired myself a little before breakfast in the garden, I suppose. Aunt Lucy, don't you think I had almost a bushel of peas ?—and there was a little over a half bushel last time, so I shall call it a bushel. Isn't that fine ?"
“You didn't pick them all yourself?”
Hugh helped me a little while; but he had the horse to get ready, and I was out before him this morningpoor fellow, he was tired from yesterday, I dare say.”
Mrs. Rossitur looked at her, a look between remonstrance and reproach, and cast her eyes down without saying a word, swallowing a whole heartful of thoughts and feelings. Fleda stooped forward till her own forehead softly touched Mrs. Rossitur's, as gentle a chiding of despondency as a very sunbeam could have given.
"Now aunt Lucy !-what do you mean? Don't you know it's good for me?
-And do you know, Mr. Sweet will give me four shillings a bushel; and aunt Lucy, I sent three dozen heads of lettuce this morning besides. Isn't that doing well? and I sent two dozen day before yesterday. It is time they were gone for they are running up to seed, this set; I have got another fine set almost
Mrs. Rossitur looked at her again, as if she had been a sort of terrestrial angel.
“ And how much will you get for them ?"
" I don't know exactly-threepence, or sixpence perhaps, -I guess not so much--they are so easily raised; though I don't believe there are so fine as mine to be seen in this region.-If I only had somebody to water the strawberries !
-we should have a great many. Aunt Lucy, I am going to send as many as I can without robbing uncle Rolf-he sha’n’t miss them ; but the rest of us don't mind eating rather fewer than usual? I shall make a good deal by them. And I think these morning rides do Hugh good; don't you think so ?"
- And what have you been busy about ever since breakfast, Fleda ?
“O—two or three things," said Fleda lightly. “What???
“I had bread to make--and than I thought while my hands were in I would make a custard for uncle Rolf."
“You needn't have done that, dear! it was not neces
“Yes it was, because you know we have only fried pork for dinner to-day, and while we have the milk and eggs it doesn't cost much--the sugar is almost nothing. He will like it better, and so will #ugh. As for you," said Fleda, gently touching her forehead again, “ you know it is of no consequence!"
“I wish you would think yourself of some consequence," said Mrs. Rossitur,