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- A Day Of Fate - 6/66 -
than any abstract topic I could introduce. Her lips, however, were so exquisitely chiselled that they made, for the time, any utterance agreeable, and suggested that only tasteful thoughts and words could come from them.
"Now, mother," said Mr. Yocomb, leaning back in his chair after finishing a generous cup of coffee, "I feel inclined to be a good Christian man. I have a broad charity for about every one except editors and politicians. I am a man of peace, and there can be no peace while these disturbers of the body politic thrive by setting people by the ears. I don't disparage the fare, mother, that thee gives us at the meetinghouse, that is, when thee does give us any, but I do take my affirmation that thee has prepared a gospel feast for us since we came home that has refreshed my inner man. As long as I am in the body, roast-beef and like creature comforts are a means of grace to me. I am now in a contented frame of mind, and am quite disposed to be amiable. Emily Warren, I can even tolerate thy music--nay, let me speak the truth, I'd much like to hear some after my nap. Thee needn't shake thy head at me, mother, I've caught thee listening, and if thee brings me up before the meeting, I'll tell on thee. Does thee realize, Emily Warren, that thee is leading us out of the straight and narrow way?"
"I would be glad to lead you out of a narrow way," she replied, in a tone so quiet and yet so rich that I was inclined to believe I had not yet seen Miss Warren. Perhaps she saw that I was becoming conscious of her existence, for I again detected the old mirthful light in her eyes. Was I or Mr. Yocomb's remark the cause?
Who was Emily Warren anyway, and why must she be at the farmhouse at a time when I so earnestly wished "the coast clear?" The perverse world at last was asserting its true self, and there was promise of a disturbance in my shining tide. Moreover, I was provoked that the one remark of this Emily Warren had point to it, while my perfect flower of womanhood had revealed nothing definitely save a good appetite, and that she had no premonitions that this was the day of her destiny.
"Father," said my fair ideal abruptly, as if a bright idea had just struck her, "did thee notice that Friend Jones's rockaway had been painted and all fixed up? I guess he rather liked our keeping him there before all the meeting."
"Mother, I hope thee'll be moved to preach about the charity that thinketh no evil," said her father gravely.
The young girl tossed her head slightly as she asserted, "Araminta Jones liked it anyway. Any one could see that."
"And any one need not have seen it also," her mother said, with a pained look. Then she added, in a low aside, as we rose from the table, "Thee certainly need not have spoken about thy friend's folly."
The daughter apparently gave little heed to her mother's rebuke, and a trivial remark a moment later proved that she was thinking of something else.
"Adah, thee can entertain Richard Morton for a time, while mother attends to the things," said her father.
The alacrity with which she complied was flattering at least, and she led me out on the piazza, that corresponded with my day-dream.
"Zillah," called Mrs. Tocomb to her little girl, "do not bother Emily Warren. She may wish to be alone. Stay with Adah till I am through."
"Oh, mother, please, let me go with Emily Warren. I never have a good time with Adah."
"There, mother, let her have her own way," said Adah, pettishly. "Emily Warren, thee shouldn't pet her so if thee doesn't want to be bothered by her."
"She does not bother me at all," said Miss Warren quietly. "I like her."
The little girl that had been ready to cry turned to her friend a radiant face that was eloquent with the undisguised affection of childhood.
"Zillah evidently likes you, Miss Warren," I said, "and you have given the reason. You like her."
"Not always a sufficient reason for liking another," she answered.
"But a very good one," I urged.
"There are many better ones."
"What has reason to do with liking, anyway?" I asked.
The mirthfulness I had noted before glimmered in her eyes for a moment, but she answered demurely, "I have seen instances that gave much point to your question, but I cannot answer it," and with a slight bow and smile she took her hat from Zillah and went down the path with an easy, natural carriage, that nevertheless suggested the city and its pavements rather than the country.
"What were you two talking about?" asked Adah, with a trace of vexed perplexity on her brow, for I imagined that my glance followed Miss Warren with some admiration and interest.
"You must have heard all we said."
"Where was the point of it?"
"What I said hadn't any point, so do not blame yourself for not seeing it. Don't you like little Zillah? She seems a nice, quiet child."
"Certainly I like her--she's my sister; but I detest children."
"I can't think that you were detested when you were a child."
"I don't remember: I might have been," she replied, with a slight shrug.
"Do you think that, as a child, you would enjoy being detested?"
"Mother says it often isn't good for us to have what we enjoy."
"Undoubtedly your mother is right."
"Well, I don't see things in that way. If I like a thing I want it, and if I don't like it I don't want it, and won't have it if I can help myself."
"Your views are not unusual," I replied, turning away to hide my contracting brow. "I know of others who cherish like sentiments."
"Well, I'm glad to meet with one who thinks as I do," she said complacently, and plucking a half-blown rose that hung near her, she turned its petals sharply down as if they were plaits of a hem that she was about to stitch.
"Here is the first harmonic chord in the sweet congeniality of which I dreamed," I inwardly groaned; but I continued, "How is it that you like Zillah as your sister, and not as a little girl?"
"Oh, everybody likes their brothers and sisters after a fashion, but one doesn't care to be bothered with them when they are little. Besides, children rumple and spoil my dress," and she looked down at herself approvingly.
"Now, there's Emily Warren," continued my "embodiment of June." "Mother is beginning to hold her up to me as an example. Emily Warren is half the time doing things that she doesn't like, and I think she's very foolish. She is telling Zillah a story over there under that tree. I don't think one feels like telling stories right after dinner."
"Yes, but see how much Zillah enjoys the story."
"Oh, of course she enjoys it. Why shouldn't she, if it's a good one?"
"Is it not possible that Miss Warren finds a pleasure in giving pleasure?"
"Well, if she does, that is her way of having a good time."
"Don't you think it's a sweet, womanly way?"
"Ha, ha, ha! Are you already smitten with Emily Warren's sweet, womanly ways?"
I confess that I both blushed and frowned with annoyance and disappointment, but I answered lightly, "If I were, would I be one among many victims?"
"I'm sure I don't know," she replied, with her slight characteristic shrug, which also intimated that she didn't care.
"Miss Warren, I suppose, is a relative who is visiting you?"
"Oh, no, she is only a music teacher who is boarding with us. Mother usually takes two or three boarders through the summer months, that is if they are willing to put up with our ways."
"I suppose it's correct to quote Scripture on Sunday afternoon. I'm sure your mother's ways are those of pleasantness and peace. Do you think she would take me as a boarder?"
"I fear she'll think you would want too much city style."
"That is just what I wish to escape from."
"I think city style is splendid."
"Oh, the city is gay and full of life and people. I once took walks down Fifth Avenue when making a visit in town, and I would be perfectly happy if I could do so every day."
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