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“For to-day I must attend to the prospect in-doors," said Mrs. Rossitur.
“Now aunt Lucy,” said Fleda, “you are just going to put yourself down in the corner, in the rocking-chair there, with your book, and make yourself comfortable; and Hugh and I will see to all these things. Hugh and I and Mary and Jane,-that makes quite an army of us, and we can do everything without you, and you must just keep quiet. I'll build you up a fine fire, and then when I don't know what to do I will come to you for orders. Uncle Rolf, would you be so good as just to open that box of books in the hall ? because I am afraid Hugh isn't strong enough. I'll take care of you, aunt Lucy.'
Fleda’s plans were not entirely carried out, but she contrived pretty well to take the brunt of the business on her own shoulders. She was as busy as a bee the whole day. To her all the ins and outs of the house, its advantages and disadvantages, were much better known than to anybody else; nothing could be done but by her advice; and more than that, she contrived by some sweet management to baffle Mrs. Rossitur's desire to spare her, and to bear the larger half of every burden that should have come upon her aunt. What she had done in the breakfast room she did or helped to do in the other parts of the house; she unpacked boxes and put away clothes and linen, in which Hugh was her excellent helper; she arranged her uncle's dressing-table with a scrupulosity that left nothing uncared-for;—and the last thing before tea she and Hugh dived into the book-box to get out some favourite volumes to lay upon the table in the evening, that the room might not look to her uncle quite so dismally bare. He had been abroad notwithstanding the rain near the whole day.
It was a weary party that gathered round the supper-table that night, weary it seemed as much in mind as in body; and the meal exerted its cheering influence over only two of them; Mr. and Mrs. Rossitur sipped their cups of tea abstractedly.
"I don't believe that fellow Donohan knows much about his business,” remarked the former at length.
“Why don't you get somebody else, then ??? said his wife.
"I happen to have engaged him, unfortunately."
66 What doesn't he know ?"
If you had asked me what part of his business he does understand, I could have told you shortly that I don't know.” But you
do not understand it very well yourself. Are you sure ?
" "Am I sure of what??? "That this man does not know his business ???
“No further sure than I can have confidence in my own common sense.”
“What will you do ?” said Mrs. Rossitur after a moment.
A question men are not fond of answering, especially when they have not made up their minds. Mr. Rossitur was silent, and his wife too, after that.
“If I could get some long-headed Yankee to go along with him"-he remarked again, balancing his spoon on the edge of his cup in curious illustration of his own mental position at the moment; Donohan being the only fixed point and all the rest wavering in uncertainty. There were a few silent minutes before anybody answered.
If you want one and don't know of one, uncle Rolf, said Fleda, 6 I dare say cousin Seth might.”
That gentle modest speech brought his attention round upon her. His face softened.
56 Cousin Seth? who is cousin Seth ???
“ He is aunt Miriam's son," said Fleda. 66 Seth Plumfield. He's a very good farmer, I know; grandpa used to say he was; and he knows everybody."
“Mrs. Plumfield," said Mrs. Rossitur, as her husband's eyes went inquiringly to her,-“Mrs. Plumfield was Mr. Ringgan's sister, you remember. This is her son."
* Cousin Seth, eh?" said Mr. Rossitur dubiously. “ Well--Why Fleda, your sweet air don't seem to agree with you, as far as I see; I have not known you look so-so triste--since we left Paris. What have you been doing,
my child ??
“She has been doing everything, father," said Hugh. “O! it's nothing," said Fleda, answering Mr. Rossitur's
look and tone of affection with a bright smile. little tired, that's all."
"A little tired! She went to sleep on the sofa directly after supper and slept like a baby all the evening; but her power did not sleep with her; for that quiet, sweet, tired face, tired in their service, seemed to bear witness against the indulgence of anything harsh or unlovely in the same atmosphere. A gentle witness-bearing, but strong in its gentleness. They sat close together round the fire, talked softly, and from time to time cast loving glances at the quiet little sleeper by their side. They did not know that she was a fairy, and that though her wand had fallen out of her hand it was still resting upon them.
Gon. Here is everything advantageous to life.
I want you.
sunrise the next day. Fatigue was forgotten, for the and she meant to see aunt Miriam before breakfast. She ran out to find Hugh, and her merry shout reached him before she did, and brought him to meet her. Come, Hugh ! I'm going off up to aunt Miriam's, and
Come! Isn't this delicious ??? “ Hush !__" said Hugh. 5 Father's just here in the barn. I can't go, Fleda."
Fleda's countenance clouded. 5 Can't go! what's the matter?-can't you go, Hugh ?" He shook his head and went off into the barn.
A chill came upon Fleda. She turned away with a very sober step. What if her uncle was in the barn, why should she hush? He never had been a check upon her merriment, never; what was coming now? Hugh too looked disturbed. It was a spring morning no longer. Fleda forgot the glittering wet grass that had set her own eyes a sparkling but a minute ago; she walked along, cogi. tating, swinging her bonnet by the strings in thoughtful vibration,-till by the help of sunlight and sweet air, and the loved scenes, her spirits again made head and swept over the sudden hindrance they had met. There were the blessed old sugar maples, seven in number, that fringed the side of the road, how well Fleda knew them. Only skeletons now, but she remembered how beautiful they looked after the October frosts; and presently they would be putting out their new green leaves and be beautiful in another way. How different in their free-born luxuriance from the dusty and city-prisoned elms and willows she had left. She came to the bridge then, and stopped with a thrill of pleasure and pain to look and listen. Unchanged !
-all but herself. The mill was not going; the little brook went by quietly chattering to itself, just as it had done the last time she saw it, when she rode past on Mr. Carleton's horse. Four and a half years ago !-And now how strange that she had come to live there again.
Drawing a long breath, and swinging her bonnet again, Fleda softly went on up the hill ; past the saw-mill, the ponds, the factories, the houses of the settlement. The same, and not the same ! Bright with the morning sun, and yet somehow a little browner and homelier than of old they used to be. Fleda did not care for that; she would hardly acknowledge it to herself; her affection never made any discount for infirmity. Leaving the little settlement behind her thoughts as behind her back, she ran on now towards aunt Miriarn’s, breathlessly, till field after field was past and her eye caught a bit of the smooth lake and the old farmhouse in its old place. Very brown it looked, but Fleda dashed on, through the garden and in at the front door.
Nobody at all was in the entrance-room, the common sitting-room of the family. With trembling delight Fleda opened the well-known door and stole noiselessly through the little passage-way to the kitchen. The door of that was only on the latch and a gentle movement of it gave to Fleda's eye the tall figure of aunt Miriam, just before her, stooping down to look in at the open mouth of the oven which she was at that moment engaged in supplying with more work to do. It was a huge one, and beyond her aunt's head Fleda could see in the far end the great loaves of bread, half baked, and more near a perfect squad of pies and pans of gingerbread just going in to take the benefit of the oven's milder mood. Fleda saw all this as it were without seeing it; she stood still as a mouse and breathless till her aunt turned ; and then, a spring and a half shout of joy, and she had clasped her in her arms and was crying with her whole heart. Aunt Miriam was taken all aback; she