Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything
- Betty Gordon in Washington - 3/28 -
a wagon for that. I wish I could go, too. Bob, I never saw a country vendue. Please, can't I?"
"You cannot," replied Bob with unaccustomed decision. Betty usually wheedled him into granting her requests. "Haven't I just told you there is nothing to go in? If you see yourself perched on that raw-boned nag with me, I don't, that's all. But I tell you what; there's a sale to-morrow at a farm this side of Glenside--I'll take you to that, if you like. I guess Peabody will let me off, seeing as how there are wagons advertised. We can easily walk to Faulkner's place."
This promise contented Betty, and she ate her dinner quietly. Bob rode off on the old horse directly after dinner, and then for the first time Betty noticed that Mrs. Peabody seemed worried about something.
"Don't you feel well? Won't you go upstairs and lie down and let me do the dishes?" urged the girl. "Do, Mrs. Peabody. You can have a nice, long rest before it's time to feed the chickens."
"I feel all right," said Mrs. Peabody dully. "Only--well, I found this card from the new minister back of the pump this morning. It's a week old, and he says he's coming out to call this afternoon. There's no place in the house I can show him, and I haven't got a decent dress, either."
Betty swallowed her first impulse to say what she thought of a husband who would make no effort to see that his wife received her mail, and instead turned her practical mind to consideration of the immediate moment. The so-called parlor was hopeless she knew, and she dismissed it from the list of possibilities at once. It was a sparsely furnished, gloomy room, damp and musty from being tightly closed all summer, and the unpainted, rough boards had never been carpeted.
"There's the porch," said Betty suddenly. "Luckily that's shady in the afternoon, and we can bring out the best things to make it look used. You let me fix it, Mrs. Peabody. And you can wear--let me see, what can you wear?"
Mrs. Peabody waited patiently, her eyes mirroring her explicit faith in Betty's planning powers.
"Your white shirtwaist and skirt," announced the girl at length. "They're both clean, aren't they? I thought so. Well, I'll lend you a ribbon girdle, and you can turn in the high neck so it will be more in style. You'll see, it will look all right."
While Mrs. Peabody washed her dishes with more energy than usual because she had a definite interest in the coming hours, Betty flew to the shabby room that was titled by courtesy the parlor. She flung up the windows and opened the blinds recklessly. She would take only the plain wooden chair and the two rockers, she decided, for the stuffed plush furniture would look ridiculous masquerading as summer furnishings. The sturdy, square table would fit into her scheme, and also the small rug before the blackened fireplace.
She dashed back to the kitchen and grabbed the broom. She did not dare scrub the porch floor for fear that it would not dry in time, but she swept it carefully and spread down the rug. Then one by one, and making a separate trip each time, she carried out the table and the chairs. With a passing sigh for the bouquet abandoned in the field and probably withered by this time, she managed to get enough flowers from the overgrown neglected garden near the house to fill the really lovely colonial glass vase she had discovered that morning.
"It looks real pretty," pronounced Mrs. Peabody, when she was brought out to see the transformed corner of the porch. "Looks as if we used it regular every afternoon, doesn't it? Do you think it will be all right not to ask him in, Betty?"
"Of course," said Betty stoutly. "Don't dare ask him in! If he wants a drink of water, call me, and I'll get it for him. You must be sitting in your chair reading a magazine when he comes and he'll think you always spend your afternoons like that."
"I'll hurry and get dressed," agreed Mrs. Peabody, giving a last satisfied glance at the porch. "I declare, I never saw your beat, Betty, for making things look pretty."
Betty needed that encouragement, for when it came to making Mrs. Peabody look pretty in the voluminous white skirt and stiff shirtwaist of ten years past, the task seemed positively hopeless. Betty, however, was not one to give in easily, and when she had brushed and pinned her hostess's thin hair as softly as she could arrange it, and had turned in the high collar of her blouse and pinned it with a cameo pin, the one fine thing remaining to Mrs. Peabody from her wedding outfit, adding a soft silk girdle of gray-blue, she knew the improvement was marked. Mrs. Peabody stared at herself in the glass contentedly.
"I didn't know I could look that nice," she said with a candor at once pathetic and naive. "I've been wishing he wouldn't come, but now I kinda hope he will."
Betty gently propelled her to the porch and established her in one of the rocking chairs with a magazine to give her an air of leisure.
"You'll come and talk to him, won't you?" urged Mrs. Peabody anxiously. "It's been so long since I've seen a stranger I won't know what to say."
"Yes, you will," Betty assured her "I'll come out after you've talked a little while. He won't stay long, I imagine, because he will probably have a number of calls to pay."
"Well, I hope Joseph stays out of sight," remarked Joseph Peabody's wife frankly. "Of course, in time the new minister will know him as well as the old one did; but I would like to have him call on me like other parishioners first."
BOB HAS GREAT NEWS
The new minister proved to be a gentle old man, evidently retired to a country charge and, in his way, quite as diffident as Mrs. Peabody. He was apparently charmed to be entertained on the porch, and saw nothing wrong with the neglected house and grounds. His near-sighted eyes, beaming with kindness and good-will, apparently took comfort and serenity for granted, and when Betty came out half an hour after his arrival, carrying a little tray of lemonade and cakes, he was deep in a recital of the first charge he had held upon his graduation from the theological seminary forty years before.
"There, that's over!" sighed Mrs. Peabody, quite like the experienced hostess, when the minister's shabby black buggy was well on its way out of the lane. "You're dreadful good, Betty, to help me through with it. He won't come again for another six months--it takes him that long to cover his parish, the farms are so far apart. Let me help you carry back the chairs."
Betty longed to suggest that they leave them out and use the porch as an outdoor sitting room, but she knew that such an idea would be sure to meet with active opposition from the master of Bramble Farm. Long before he came in to supper that night the chairs had been restored to their proper places and Mrs. Peabody had resumed the gray wrapper she habitually wore. Only the vase of flowers on the table was left to show that the afternoon had been slightly out of the ordinary. That and the tray of glasses Betty had unfortunately left on the draining board of the sink, intending to wash them with the supper dishes.
"Whose glasses, and what's been in 'em?" demanded Mr. Peabody suspiciously. "There's sugar in the bottom of one of 'em. You haven't been making lemonade?" He turned to his wife accusingly.
Bob had not come home yet, and there was only Ethan, the hired man, Betty, and the Peabodys at the supper table.
"I made lemonade," said Betty quietly. "Those are my own glasses I bought in Glenside, and the sugar and lemons were mine, too. So were the cakes."
This silenced Peabody, for he knew that Betty's uncle sent her money from time to time, and though he fairly writhed to think that she Could spend it so foolishly, he could not interfere.
As soon as it was dark the Peabody household retired, to save lighting lamps, and this evening was no exception. Betty learned from a stray question Mrs. Peabody put to Ethan, the hired man, that Bob was not expected home until ten or eleven o'clock. There was no thought of sitting up for him, though Betty knew that in all likelihood he would have had no supper, having no money and knowing no one in Trowbridge.
She was not sleepy, and having brushed and braided her hair for the night, she threw her sweater over her dressing gown and sat down at the window of her room, a tin of sardines and a box of crackers in her lap, determined to see to it that Bob had something to eat.
There was a full moon, and the road lay like a white ribbon between the silver fields. Betty could follow the lane road out to where it met the main highway, and now and then the sound of an automobile horn came to her and she saw a car speed by on the main road. Sitting there in the sweet stillness of the summer night, she thought of her mother, of the old friends in Pineville, and, of course, of her uncle. She wondered where he was that night, if he thought of her, and what would be his answer to her letter.
"Is that a horse?" said Betty to herself, breaking off her reverie abruptly. "Hark! that sounds like a trotting horse."
She was sure that she could make out the outlines of a horse and rider on the main road, but it was several minutes before she was positive that it had turned into the lane. Yes, it must be Bob. No one else would be out riding at that hour of the night. Betty glanced at her wrist-watch--half-past ten.
The rhythmic beat of the horse's hoofs sounded more plainly, and soon Betty heard the sound of singing. Bob was moved to song in that lovely moonlight, as his sorry mount was urged to unaccustomed spirit and a feeling of freedom.
"When in thy dreaming, moons like these shall shine again,
Previous Page Next Page
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 20 28
Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything