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mysterious image of Time's doings. Fleda had besides, without knowing it, the eye of a painter. In the lonely hillside, the odd-shaped little mill with its accompaniments of wood and water, and the great logs of timber lying about the ground in all directions and varieties of position, there was a picturesque charm for her, where the country people saw nothing but business and a place fit for it. Their hands grew hard where her mind was refining. Where they made dollars and cents, she was growing rich in stores of thought and associations of beauty. How many purposes the same thing serves !
“That had ought to be your grandpa's mill this minute," observed Cynthy.
“I wish it was !" sighed Fleda. “Who's got it now, Cynthy ?"
"O`it's that chap McGowan, I expect;-he's got pretty much the hull of everything. I told Mr. Ringgan I wouldn't let him have it if it was me, at the time. Your grandpa'd be glad to get it back now, I guess.”
Fleda guessed so too; but also guessed that Miss Gall was probably very far from being possessed of the whole rationale of the matter. So she made her no answer.
After reaching the brow of the hill the road continued on a very gentle ascent towards a little settlement half a quarter of a mile off; passing now and then a few scattered cottages or an occasional mill or turner's shop. Several mills and factories, with a store and a very few dwelling-houses were all the settlement; not enough to entitle it to the name of a village. Beyond these and the mill-ponds, of which in the course of the road there were three or four, and with a brief intervening space of cultivated fields, a single farm-house stood alone ; just upon the borders of a large and very fair sheet of water from which all the others had their supply.-So large and fair that nobody cavilled at its taking the style of a lake and giving its own pretty name of Deepwater both to the settlement and the farm that half embraced it. This farm was Seth Plumfield's.
At the garden gate Fleda quitted Cynthy and rushed forward to meet her aunt, whom she saw coming round the corner of the house with her gown pinned up behind her, from attending to some domestic concern among the pigs, the cows, or the poultry.
“O aunt Miriam,” said Fleda eagerly, we are going to have company to tea to-morrow-won't you come and help
Aunt Miriam laid her hands upon Fleda’s shoulders and looked at Cynthy.
“I came up to see if you wouldn't come down to-morrow, Mis' Plumfield,” said that personage, with her usual dry business tone, always a little on the wrong side of sweet;
your brother has taken a notion to ask two young fellers from the Pool to supper, and they're grand folks I s'pose, and have got to have a fuss made for 'em. I don't know what Mr. Ringgan was thinkin' of, or whether he thinks I have got anything to do or not; but anyhow they're a comin', I s'pose, and must have somethin? to eat; and I thought the best thing I could do would be to come and get you into the works, if I could. I should feel a little queer to have nobody but me to say nothin' to them at the table."
Ah do come, aunt Miriam !” said Fleda ; it will be twice as pleasant if you do; and besides, we want to have everything very nice, you know.
Aunt Miriam smiled at Fleda, and inquired of Miss Gall what she had in the house.
“Why I don't know, Mis' Plumfield," said the lady, while Fleda threw her arms round her aunt and thanked her, there ain't nothin' particler--pork and beef and the old story. I've got some first-rate pickles. I calculated to make some sort o' cake in the morning.”
Any of those small hams left ?" “Not a bone of 'em-these six weeks. I don't see how they've gone, for my part. I'd lay any wager there were two in the smoke-house when I took the last one out. If Mr. Didenhover was a little more like a weasel I should think he'd been in."
"Have you cooked that roaster I sent down ?"?
“No, Mis' Plumfield, I ha’n’t-it's such a plaguy sight of trouble!” said Cynthy with a little apologetic giggle ;-“I was keepin' it for some day when I hadn't much to do."
“I'll take the trouble of it. l'll be down bright and
early in the morning, and we'll see what's best to do. How's your last churning, Cynthy ?"
“Well-I guess it's pretty middlin', Mis' Plumfield.”
“Tisn't anything very remarkable, aunt Miriam,” said Fleda shaking her head.
Well, well,” said Mrs. Plumfield smiling, “ run away down home now, and I'll come to-morrow,
and I fix it. But who is it that grandpa has asked ?"
Fleda and Cynthy both opened at once.
“One of them is my cousin, aunt Miriam, that was at West Point, and the other is the nicest English gentleman you ever saw--you will like him very much—he has been with me getting nuts all to-day.”
“ They're a smart enough couple of chaps," said Cynthia ; they look as if they lived where money was plenty.
“Well I'll come to-morrow," repeated Mrs. Plumfield, “and we'll see about it. Good night, dear!"
She took Fleda's head in both her hands and gave her a most affectionate kiss; and the two petitioners set off homewards again.
Aunt Miriam was not at all like her brother, in feature, though the moral characteristics suited the relationship sufficiently well. There was the expression of strong sense and great benevolence; the unbending uprightness, of mind and body at once; and the dignity of an essentially noble character, not the same as Mr. Ringgan’s, but such as well became his sister. She had been brought up among the Quakers, and though now and for many years a staunch Presbyterian, she still retained a tincture of the calm efficient gentleness of mind and manner that belongs so inexplicably to them. More womanly sweetness than was in Mr. Ringgan's blue eye a woman need not wish to have; and perhaps his sister's had not so much. There was no want of it in her heart, nor in her manner, but the many and singular excellencies of her character were a little overshadowed by super-excellent housekeeping. Not a taint of the littleness that sometimes grows therefrom,—not a trace of the narrowness of mind that over-attention to such pursuits is too apt to bring ;--on every important occasion aunt Miriam would come out free and unshackled from all the cobweb entanglements of housewifery; she would have tossed housewifery to the winds if need were (but it never was, for in a new sense she always contrived to make both ends meet.) It was only in the unbroken everyday course of affairs that aunt Miriam's face shewed any tokens of that incessant train of small cares which had never left their impertinent footprints upon the broad high brow of her brother. Mr. Ringgan had no affinity with small cares; deep serious matters received his deep and serious consideration; but he had as dignified a disdain of trifling annoyances or concernments as any great mastiff or Newfoundlander ever had for the yelping of a little cur.
Ynne London citye was I borne,
Of parents of grete note;
Montepoole a party of ladies and gentlemen were gathered, awaiting the return of the sportsmen. The room had been made as comfortable as any place could be in a house built for “the season," after the season was past. A splendid fire of hickory logs was burning brilliantly and making amends for many deficiencies; the closed wooden shutters gave the reality if not the look of warmth, for though the days might be fine and mild the mornings and evenings were always very cool up there among the mountains; and a table 'stood at the last point of readiness for having dinner served. They only waited for the lingering woodcock-hunters.
It was rather an elderly party, with the exception of one young man whose age might match that of the absent two. He was walking up and down the room with somewhat the air of having nothing to do with himself. Another gentleman, much older, stood warming his back at the fire, feeling about his jaws and chin with one hand and looking at the dinner-table in a sort of expectant reverie. three ladies, sat quietly chatting. All these persons were extremely different from one another in individual characteristics, and all had the unmistakeable mark of the habit of good society; as difficult to locate and as easy to recognise as the sense of freshness which some ladies have the secret of diffusing around themselves ;-no definable sweetness,