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- Work: A Story of Experience - 1/68 -


This etext was produced by Charles Aldarondo.

WORK:

A STORY OF EXPERIENCE.

BY

LOUISA M. ALCOTT,

AUTHOR OF "LITTLE WOMEN," "LITTLE MEN," "AN OLD-FASHIONED GIRL," "HOSPITAL SKETCHES," ETC.

"An endless significance lies in work; in idleness alone is there perpetual despair."--CARLYLE.

BOSTON:

1901.

TO

MY MOTHER,

WHOSE LIFE HAS BEEN A LONG LABOR OF LOVE, THIS BOOK IS GRATEFULLY INSCRIBED

BY

HER DAUGHTER.

CONTENTS.

I. CHRISTIE II. SERVANT III. ACTRBSS IV. GOVERNESS V. COMPANION VI. SEAMSTRESS VII. THROUGH THE MIST VIII. A CURE FOR DESPAIR IX. MRS. WILKINS'S MINISTER X. BEGINNING AGAIN XI. IN THE STRAWBERRY BED XII. CHRISTIE'S GALA XIII. WAKING UP XIV. WHICH? XV. MIDSUMMER XVI. MUSTERED IN XVII. THE COLONEL XVIII. SUNRISE XIX. LITTLE HEART'S-EASE XX. AT FORTY

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS,

FROM DRAWINGS BY SOL EYTINGE.

"How doth the little busy bee" Christie Aunt Betsey's Interlarded Speech Mrs. Stuart. Hepsey Christie as Queen of the Amazons Mr. Philip Fletcher Mrs. Saltonstall and Family "No, I thank you" Helen Carrol Mrs. King and Miss Cotton The Rescue "C. Wilkins, Clear Starcher" Lisha Wilkins Mrs. Wilkins' "Six Lively Infants" Mr. Power Mrs. Sterling David and Christie in the Greenhouse Mr. Power and Christie in the Strawberry Bed A Friendly Chat Kitty. "One Happy Moment" David "Then they were married" "Don't mourn, dear heart, but WORK" "She's a good little gal; looks consid'able like you" "Each ready to do her part to hasten the coming of the happy end"

WORK:

A STORY OF EXPERIENCE.

CHAPTER I.

CHRISTIE.

CHRISTIE.

"AUNT BETSEY, there's going to be a new Declaration of Independence."

"Bless and save us, what do you mean, child?" And the startled old lady precipitated a pie into the oven with destructive haste.

"I mean that, being of age, I'm going to take care of myself, and not be a burden any longer. Uncle wishes me out of the way; thinks I ought to go, and, sooner or later, will tell me so. I don't intend to wait for that, but, like the people in fairy tales, travel away into the world and seek my fortune. I know I can find it."

Christie emphasized her speech by energetic demonstrations in the bread-trough, kneading the dough as if it was her destiny, and she was shaping it to suit herself; while Aunt Betsey stood listening, with uplifted pie-fork, and as much astonishment as her placid face was capable of expressing. As the girl paused, with a decided thump, the old lady exclaimed:

"What crazy idee you got into your head now?"

"A very sane and sensible one that's got to be worked out, so please listen to it, ma'am. I've had it a good while, I've thought it over thoroughly, and I'm sure it's the right thing for me to do. I'm old enough to take care of myself; and if I'd been a boy, I should have been told to do it long ago. I hate to be dependent; and now there's no need of it, I can't bear it any longer. If you were poor, I wouldn't leave you; for I never forget how kind you have been to me. But Uncle doesn't love or understand me; I am a burden to him, and I must go where I can take care of myself. I can't be happy till I do, for there's nothing here for me. I'm sick of this dull town, where the one idea is eat, drink, and get rich; I don't find any friends to help me as I want to be helped, or any work that I can do well; so let me go, Aunty, and find my place, wherever it is."

"But I do need you, deary; and you mustn't think Uncle don't like you. He does, only he don't show it; and when your odd ways fret him, he ain't pleasant, I know. I don't see why you can't be contented; I've lived here all my days, and never found the place lonesome, or the folks unneighborly." And Aunt Betsey looked perplexed by the new idea.

"You and I are very different, ma'am. There was more yeast put into my composition, I guess; and, after standing quiet in a warm corner so long, I begin to ferment, and ought to be kneaded up in time, so that I may turn out a wholesome loaf. You can't do this; so let me go where it can be done, else I shall turn sour and good for nothing. Does that make the matter any clearer?" And Christie's serious face relaxed into a smile as her aunt's eye went from her to the nicely moulded loaf offered as an illustration.

"I see what you mean, Kitty; but I never thought on't before. You be better riz than me; though, let me tell you, too much emptins makes bread poor stuff, like baker's trash; and too much workin' up makes it hard and dry. Now fly 'round, for the big oven is most het, and this cake takes a sight of time in the mixin'."

"You haven't said I might go, Aunty," began the girl, after a long pause devoted by the old lady to the preparation of some compound which seemed to require great nicety of measurement in its ingredients; for when she replied, Aunt Betsey curiously interlarded her speech with audible directions to herself from the receipt-book before her.

AUNT BETSEY'S INTERLARDED SPEECH.

"I ain't no right to keep you, dear, ef you choose to take (a pinch of salt). I'm sorry you ain't happy, and think you might be ef you'd only (beat six eggs, yolks and whites together). But ef you can't, and feel that you need (two cups of sugar), only speak to Uncle, and


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