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- Sara, a Princess - 26/43 -
you see a large brown house with a tower, and a porch with heavy pillars"--
"Oh, yes, sir; and a deep green lawn in front; I've often noticed it."
"Very well," smiling agreeably, "that's my home. Turn in at the carriage-drive, and follow it until you see an opening in the hedge; go through, and keep to the little foot-path; it will bring you here, for it's my own private way."
"Thank you," said Sara, "I will be very glad to use it," and seated herself at her desk in the business-like way she was acquiring, much to the professor's secret amusement.
That noon, as he sat opposite his wife at table, he said,--
"Marian, I want you to look out of the window about a quarter past one, and you will see a _rara avis_."
"Goodness! Henry, you're not having any of those horrid dinornis things brought to the house, are you?"
"No, my dear; this rare bird I have in mind is simply a handsome girl, who doesn't enjoy being stared at by the students,--in a word, my little helper, Miss Olmstead,--and I've told her to travel by my own cross- roads, because she comes in all of a flutter, mornings, after running the gantlet of those college scamps on the campus."
His wife gave a quick, appreciative nod. She was a pale, dark-eyed woman, with a face of rare intelligence and sweetness.
"Indeed I do want a peep at her, Henry; she's the fisher-girl with the family on her hands, that Madame Grandet told us about, isn't she?"
"Yes, the same; let me give you another croquette, wife." "No, thanks; I've sufficient. And how does she appear, very provincial?"
"Not at all, that I can see, unless to be modest as a violet, and business-like as a night-editor, be provincial. She speaks good English, and sensible, too, in a peculiarly pleasing voice, and has the most finished manners, to my notion; for she goes quietly about her affairs without fuss or remark, and says what there is to say in brief, clean words. No, she is anything but _outre_."
"Really, my dear, I never heard you praise a woman so highly before."
He smiled quietly.
"I neither praise nor dispraise, Marian; they are, with one notable exception simply out of my ken, ordinarily; but I like this little girl, where she is, unusually well."
"Be sure, then, I shall watch for her with all my eyes! Don't forget your papers, dear; oh, and turn your pockets inside out at once, please, till I see if you have any of my letters yet undelivered!"
He obeyed with a matter-of-course air, which showed this to be a common occurrence with the absent-minded scientist, and having yielded up two dainty, square missives, which he had not carried more than two days, took his departure.
An hour later Sara turned in at the designated carriage-drive, and followed its windings up near the house, then off towards the dividing hedge, never seeing two bright, interested eyes which were peering through the filmy lace curtains, and taking pleased note of her trim, erect figure in its black dress, and lovely, thoughtful face, below its plain straw hat; then passed through the hedge, and, with all the delight of a child exploring some bit of woodland, followed the well- worn little path, which crossed a corner of the next yard, then skirted a tennis-court, wound by a rather suspicious-looking dog-kennel, then led into an unused grassy lane, reminding her so gently of home that she longed to linger; but, pressing on in her narrow way, she finally brought up before a gray stone pile, in which was a small door, and, opening it with some caution, found herself in the tiny square entry just back of the familiar cloak-room.
Professor Macon took in her pleased face at a glance.
"You liked my little by-way?" he asked.
"Immensely!" with a hearty accent. "May I always use it?"
"Most assuredly!" and without more words both bent to their absorbing tasks.
NEW FRIENDS, NEW DUTIES, AND A NEW LOSS.
The sale of Sara's collection to Professor Grandet brought her a neat little sum, with which she added a few much-needed articles of furniture to her rooms, making them more modern and comfortable; and through Mrs. Hoffstott she finally succeeded in finding a trusty little girl, who was glad to come during the hours of Sara's absence to tend baby and do the left-over bits of work for the pittance she could afford to pay. Even this left a perilously small amount for the house expenses, and the clothing of the four; but the latter necessity was made easier by Madame Grandet and Miss Prue, both of whom found they had many articles too good to throw away. The latter had pressed enough of these upon Sara, during the packing, to make Molly and herself quite comfortable, for, as Miss Prue always wore black, her dresses were suitable now; and, the madame had come to the rescue with some of the professor's cast-off trousers for Morton's use.
It was one Saturday afternoon, and Sara, consequently, at home by three o'clock, when she stood, armed with a pattern and some formidable- looking shears, about to attack a light gray pair of these, when there came a quick little "rat-tat-tat" at the door.
"Open it, Molly," she said abstractedly, thinking it might be either Kathie or Grisel; but instead of the round pink and white face and yellow braids she looked for, there appeared a tall lady, richly dressed, whose pale, fine countenance was quite unfamiliar.
The lady advanced.
"This is Miss Olmstead, I know; and I am Mrs. Macon. I have often seen you through the window at home."
Sara greeted her with a blush, and drew forward the best chair, inwardly experiencing a deep regret that she had not changed the baby's pinafore, and had kept her cutting operations in the parlor.
Mrs. Macon, however, seemed to notice neither, but praised the baby's pretty rings of hair, saying he reminded her of one of Raphael's cherubs, and asked Molly about her school, taking in, with evident amusement, the child's original answers, and little twists and tosses, till Sara could recover her equanimity, and be her own quiet self once more. Then she turned to her with some word of commendation for her laborious life, and added, with a light laugh,--
"You looked quite fierce with your great scissors as I came in. It wasn't the baby's hair you thought of cutting, I hope?" "Oh, no, indeed! I wouldn't cut his dear little curls for anything! I was trying to--to cut out some pants for Morton."
"You poor child! What a genius you must be to attempt it! Do you think you can?"
The tone of perfect _camaraderie_ seemed to drive away the last vestige of Sara's shyness.
"I have once or twice at home, but it's different here: the boys dress better, you see, and Morton's getting very particular. I've a good pattern, but I do feel a bit frightened to put my scissors into the goods."
"Of course you do," rising, and going over to the table to look at the pattern pinned carefully over the old garment. "But, my dear, couldn't you cut to better advantage by turning this a little? Here, let me show you."
With a rapid movement she unfastened and cast aside the jetted lace wrap she wore, and filling her mouth with pins, after the manner of womankind, began mumbling her explanations, as she turned and twisted the paper about, Sara, meanwhile, looking on with the earnestness of a priestess of Athene, listening to her oracle.
Months of meeting in fashionable parlors could not have made them so intimate as those ten minutes over that pattern, while their heads bobbed together, and their tongues ran on in unison. For when it was adjusted, Mrs. Macon insisted on superintending the cutting, and when this was satisfactorily accomplished, to the exclusion of the one worn place, and the ink-spatters, she was as elated as Sara herself.
"There! We've done it, we've done it! Now, if you only get them together right; you're sure you'll remember which is the front, and which the back, and when you stitch them--where's your machine?"
"I haven't any," said Sara.
"Dear heart! And were you going to sew those long seams by hand?"
Sara nodded deprecatingly, as much as to say she knew it was wrong not to have a machine, but she couldn't help it; and her visitor was so charmed with the look in her sweet eyes, that she gave her cheek a playful little tap as she said,--
"It's not to be thought of! I've an excellent machine which stands useless half the time; you shall come and learn to use it: this will be just the thing to begin on. Why can't you come now? I'm anxious to see them underway, and, besides, I haven't a doubt Morton needs them; boys always are needing new trousers!"
Sara had to acknowledge that he did; and the upshot was, that in less time than it takes to tell it, baby was turned over to Molly, and Sara, with her bundle, found herself in Mrs. Macon's carriage, riding home with her, to the astonishment of the coachman, who had been preparing his mind for a long, sleepy afternoon on the box, while his mistress consulted her list, and made her formal visits. The fact is, she had forgotten all about them; just now the most interesting thing in her rather monotonous life was Sara and those trousers. An acquaintance begun in this manner could never be quite formal again. Mrs. Macon was warm-hearted, and often-times weary of doing nothing in her great
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