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- Hildegarde's Neighbors - 1/26 -


THE HILDEGARDE SERIES

Hildegarde's Neighbors

A STORY FOR GIRLS

BY LAURA E. RICHARDS

Author of

"The Margaret Series," "The Hildegarde Series," "Captain January," "Melody," "Five Minute Stories," etc.

ILLUSTRATED

TO

M.C.G.

IN TOKEN OF THE AFFECTION OF MANY YEARS.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER

I. THE ARRIVAL

II. OLD FRIENDS AND NEW

III. PUMPKIN HOUSE

IV. HESTER'S PLAYROOM

V. TEA AT ROSEHOLME

VI. ANOTHER TEA-PARTY

VII. IN GOOD GREEN WOOD

VIII. "HANDS ACROSS THE SEA"

IX. MERRY WEATHER INDOORS

X. A NEW LIFE

XI. A NIGHT-PIECE

XII. A-SAILING WE WILL GO

XIII. IN PERIL BY WATER

XIV. ROGER THE CODGER

XV. A MORNING HOUR

XVI. GOOD-BY

HILDEGARDE'S NEIGHBORS

CHAPTER I.

THE ARRIVAL.

"Mamma," said Hildegarde Grahame, flying into her mother's room, "I have news for you, thrilling news! Guess what it is!"

Mrs. Grahame looked up from her sewing.

"The house is on fire," she said, quietly, "or you have found a Royal Walnut Moth; or, possibly, Hugh has developed wings and flown away. None of these things would greatly surprise me; but in the first case I must take action, while in either of the others I can finish this seam."

"Continue your prosaic labours!" said the girl. "The dress is mine, and I want it."

She sat down, and fanned herself with her broad straw hat. "It is hot!" she announced with emphasis.

"And that is the news?" said her mother. "Astonishing! I should never have guessed it, assuredly."

"Madam, you are a tease! The big yellow house is let, and the family is moving in today, at this moment! NOW, how do you feel?"

"Much the same, thank you!" was the reply. "Slight acceleration of the pulse, with fever-flush; nothing more. But it is great news, certainly, Hilda. Do you know anything of the people?"

Hildegarde quoted:

"'I saw them come; one horse was blind, The tails of both hung down behind, Their shoes were on their feet.'

"Mr. and Mrs. Miles Merryweather, six children, cook, housemaid and seamstress, two dogs, two cats (at least the basket mewed, so I infer cats), one canary bird, and fourteen trunks."

"Do I understand that Miss Grahame has been looking through the gap in the hedge?"

"You do, madam. And oh, mammina, it was such fun! I really could not help it; and no one saw me; and they came tumbling in in such a funny, jolly way! I rather think we shall like them, but it will be strange to have such near neighbours."

"I wonder what the Colonel will say!" Mrs. Grahame commented.

"He is pleased," said Hildegarde; "actually pleased. He knows Mr. Merryweather, and likes him; in fact, he has just been telling me about them."

"Hildegarde, you are becoming a sad gossip," said Mrs. Grahame, severely. "I think you would better sit down and work these buttonholes at once."

"So that I can repeat the gossip to you," said this impertinent young woman, kissing her mother lightly on the forehead. "Precisely, dear madam. Where is my thimble? Oh, here! Where are the buttonholes? Oh, there! Well, now you shall hear. And I fear I have been a gossip, indeed.

"It began with obedience to my elders and betters. You told me to go down and see how Mrs. Lankton's 'neurology' was; and I went. I found the poor old thing in bed, and moaning piteously. I am bound to say, however, that the moans did not begin till after I clicked the latch. It is frightful to see how suspicious a course of Mrs. Lankton always makes me. I went in, and the room was hermetically sealed, with a roaring fire in the air-tight stove."

"To-day!" exclaimed Mrs. Grahame; "the woman will die!"

"Not she!" said Hildegarde. "I was nearly suffocated, and protested, with such breath as I could find; but she said, 'Oh, Miss Grahame, my dear! you don't know anything about trouble or sickness, and no need to before your time. A breath of air, my dear, is like the bellers to my neurology--the bellers itself! Ah! I ain't closed my eyes, not to speak of, since you was here last.'

"I tried to convince her that good air was better than bad, since she must breathe some kind of air; but she only shook her head and groaned, and told me about a woman who got into her oven and shut the door, and stayed there till she was baked 'a beautiful light brown,' as Mrs. Lincoln says. ''T was a brick oven, dear, such as you don't see 'em nowadays; and she was cured of her neurology, slick and slap; but I don't never expect no such help of mine, now Mr. Aytoun's dead and gone. Not but what your blessed ma is a mother to me, and so I always tell the neighbours.'

"Do you want any more, missis? I can go on indefinitely, if you like. I stayed as long as I dared, and managed to hold the door open quite a bit, so that a little air really did get in; and I gave her the liniment, and rubbed her poor old back, and then gave her a spoonful of jelly, and ran. That is the first part of my tale. Then, I was coming home through the Ladies' Garden, and I found my Hugh playing Narcissus over a pool, and wondering whether freckles were dirt on his soul that came out in spots--the lamb! And I had to stay and talk with him a bit, and he was so dear! And then I walked along, and just as I came to the gap in the hedge, Mrs. Grahame, my dear madam, I heard the sound of a lawn-mower on the other side, and a man's voice whistling. This was amazing, and I am human, though I don't know whether you ever noticed it. I looked, I did; and so would others, if they had been there. A wagon stood at the back door, all piled with trunks and bags and baskets; I liked the look of the baskets, I can't tell exactly why. And at that very moment a carriage drove up, with two delightful brown horses, and a brown man who looked delightful, too, driving. I know it must be Mr. Merryweather, mammy, and I am sure we shall like him. Tall and straight and square, with clear blue eyes and broad shoulders; and handled his horses well, and-- what are you laughing at, Mrs. Grahame, if I may be permitted to ask?"

"I was only thinking that this charming individual was, in all probability, the coachman," said Mrs. Grahame, with mild malignity.


Hildegarde's Neighbors - 1/26

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