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A "flower story" today, child, said Miss Kebecca. Look at my garden I Everything in it froze stiff - an it's goin to snow this afternoon. A "flower story!" There's none left to teil about. Of course there's the house plants, but they're a different set altogether. I'm sorry to disappoint you, when you've come out on such a cold day too. Set up to the flre an warm your feet. Teil you a story 'bout myself ? Land sake! What would there be to teil? You wonder why I never got married. Oh, you needn't beg my pardon. What is there I should mind about that? I'm 55 years old, an it ain't the first timo folks has said they wondered. I pretended to be set 'gainst marryin as some does, an I had my chances, but I had my reasons for stayin as I was, an I kep' em to myself. They wa'n't nobody's business but mine. Xow, don'tgo tothinkinl'm put out with you for speak.n as you did. I'll teil you how 'twas if you waut to hear, but 'tain't likely it'U interest you. I -wasn't brought up to talk much 'bout myself. Well, this story's got a flower in it too, after all. Do you see that "life everlastin" on the mantel? That on each end come from my garden, but the bunch in the middle ain't nothin but the wild sort that grows out anywhere on the hills- some calis it "Injun posy." What you say? ImmortelleP I never heard that name for it, but I reckon it all 'mounts to the same thing. It has a pleasant smell when it's fsesh, kinder soothin. Some folks thinks a pillow stuffed with it is good to make you sleep. That's why grandfather wanted one - But I may as well begin at the beginnin. Cousin Almiry Beamon had always kep' house for grandfather sence grandmother died, 'an I gusss he thought he could 'pend on her long's he lived. She knew all nis ways an was used to 'em, an he had more ways to get used to 'n scme which made it harder for him an other folks, too, when she got married. 'Twas all kinder sudden, we wa'n't none of us prepared for it, an it put us out. I never blamed Cousin Almiry particularly after I'd took her place with grandfather for a spell. Deacon Swan was a pleasant spoken, peaceable sort of a man, if he wa'n't ona to set the great river on fire, an I guess Almiry never regretted the change. But as I was sayin, there didn't appear to be nobody but me to go over an take her place with grandfather. I tried to make mother say she couldn't spare me, but 'twa'n't no use. She feit bad enough 'bout lettin me go, but she said grandfather needed me more an that settled it. 'Twas a lonesome place for a girl who had been used to livin right in the town with plenty o' neighbors an five or six in the family, for there wa'n't nobody but grandfather an me in all that great house. It used to be a tavern once, an then it was lively enough, I dare say. There was rooms in it for plenty of visitors, an the great ballroom was there yet where they used to have their dances. The house stood close to the river, right at the foot of a big hill covered with rocksan pine trees. The road come windin down round under the hill - pretty steep in some places it was - an ended at the ferry, front o' grandfather's. If you wanted to go farther, you'd got to cross over. The ferryman was the only neighbor we had near'n Essex, an grandfather wouldn't cali anybody neighbor that come from there; he was dreadf ully down on Essex folks. 'Twas in October when I come to live at the ferry, toward the last of the rnouth. Grandfather wa'n't enjoyin very good health; he'd been so put out 'bout cousin Almiry - it had upset his liver, an he'd been takin thoroughwort tea an tansy an I don't know what all. Mother always said he knew as much as most doctors, an maybe he did, 'cept in prescribin for himself an takin his own medicines. Reg'lar doctors keep their doses for other folks an find it pays better. But grandfather tried all his'n on himself first, an 'twas no wonder he got run down. There was always a basin of soinethin stewin on the stove, an the garret was hung from one end to the other with herbs a-dryin. I hadn't been there móre'n n day when he sent me after "Injun posy" to make his pillow. I didn't mind goin; 'twas a beautif ui afternoon, the sun a-shinin an the red an yellow leaves droppin down softly an rustlin away under your feet. There didn't none of it grow down at the ferry, so I had to walk up the road an hunt round in other folks' parsters, for there was plenty of it on the other side the hill. I got my basket full in no time, an all I could carry in my hands besides, an then I stopped under an old cedar to rest. I was real warm, 'twas so sheltered there, what with the trees an all to keep the wind away, an I took off my sunbonnet and sat down on the gras. How did I look, child? Well, to be sure it's kinder unhandy to describe one's self. You see how I look now- then 1 was younger; that made all the difference - an perhaps happier; I reckon that helped some, too. Oh, I can go into particulars if you want me to. Nobody ever would 'a' thought I was sister to Catherine, she was so light, an I was dark as a gypsy. I took after my father, you see, an she waS clear mother right through. I used to kluder envy her yellow curls an pink cheeks, though I had a good head o' hair niyself, thick an soft, coming down to my knees when I undid it, but land! 'twouldn't curl, an 'twas black as could be. Yes. I had plenty o' red in my cheeks. Somebody told me once they was like bunches o' carnations, an I reckou they didn't lose none o' their color by hearin 'bout it. Got some of it yet? Ah, no, child. those carnations faded au died years ago- winter killed, likethefiowersin my garden. Eut what was I tellin you? Oh, I sat there on the ground fannin myself with my sunbonnet. There was a bittersweet vine growin over the oíd cedar, just ful] o' berries, an I sat lookin vip nn thiukin I'd pet fcüine o' it to take home to put in the jars ou the mantel, when I see a man eomin toward me down the hill. I'd heard a good deal o' firin round all the mornin, go when I see how he was dressed an that he carried a gun I judged 'twas him I'd been listenin to. 'Twa'n't nothin strange to see gunners round that time o' year. They'd come upjgftr's Essex in their boats and just overrun the whoie country. There wouldn't 'a' been a feather left in the land if they'd been the sportsnien they looked to be, but I reckon they got as much satisfaction out o' their fixin's as they oould h'ave out o' the birds, an 'twas better for all hands. Well, I wa'n't no more 'fraid o' him an his gun than the birds had 'casion to be, so I just sat an watehed him comin. But 'fore he got close up I see I'd made a mistake - on more points 'n one. He wa'n't no stranger to me, though 'twas much 's five years since I'd seen him, an as for the birds, they hadn't been so safe all the time at I'd thought - his bag looked pretty heavy. I was real pleased to see him, for we used to go to school together 'fore he went off to sea, an I didn't know he was home. "Kit," sez I, "where in the world didyou come f rom?" His name was Christopher Columbus Madison, but he wa'n't never called by it. Nobody needs a name o' more'n one syllable in Essex. It'U just be wasted an thrown away if they have it. His brother was Junius Edward, so 'course he was alway? June, an it kinder suited him. He was blue eyed and light haired, no more like Kit than Katharine was like me. But, as I was sayin, Christopher he come up to where I was standin, and shifted his gun inter his other hand, and put his arm round, my waist, and was goin to kiss me, if I hadn't pushed my great bunch of everlastin up in his face instead and slipped away from him laughin. "I should think I might ask where you come from?" sez he, and then we both explained. He was stayin home a spell to please his mother, and I told him 'bout grandfather. "Plants are scarce at the ferry, I reckon," sez he, lookin at my big bokay. "Hard up for flowers, ain't you, Kebecca?" "It's gettin late in the season," sez I, "but these are pretty. Don't you think so? An they're sweet." "I don't admire 'em especially," sez Kit. "But as for their swcetness" - He bent his dark face down over the white flowers again to givc 'em aoother trial. I wasn't tbmkin he meaut to play me a trick, an was lookin up at him, innocent enough. Course he had his revenge - an his kiss - 'fore I knew it. I was clean took aback, for I wa'n't one to let the boys take liberties in that way as some girls do. All my Injun posies tumbled in a heap to the ground, an I just stood there, not knowin whether to laugh or to cry. Kit took one look at my face then he dropped down on his knees in front o' me an began pickin up my flowers asfast as he could. Yes, I reckon I can teil you how he looked. Wait a minute till I put another stick on the flre. He was a tall, broad shouldered young fellow, dark as I was naturally an SUB ourned darker still, but he had handsome teeth, an his eyes were clear an briht - the sort that could flash easier'n they could cry, but they could grow tender for all their keenness, an I've seen 'em sad enough for tears. Well, as I was tellin you, he picked up my flowers in a great hurry and offered 'em to me - still on his knees. "Here they are, Rebecca," sez he, "every one of 'em. Please forgive me for makin you drop 'em." But I wouldn't look at him. I picked up my basket an walked away. So then he jumped up an' come along, too, takin the basket out o' my hand 'fore I could stop him. "What are you goin to do with all this stuff anyhow?" sez he. But I thought he'd got through his apologizin in rather too short order, bein's I hadn't said nothin 'bout forgivin htm, so I answered pretty stiff an distant: "It's for grandfather. I won't trouble you to carry it home for me. It ain't heavy." "It's no trouble, thank you," sez Kit. He'd slung the basket on the end of his gun an was carryin it over his shoulder, an he went rigiit on, talkin 'bout June, an folks I knew in Üssex, an places he'd been to while he was away, an one thing after another, just as unconcerned as could be. "If I liked a girl," sez he, looking at the flowers in his hand, "I should give her a bunch of these to remember me by." "If you liked a dozen girls, you mean," sez I, for I'd heard of Kit Madison afore. "If I liked a dozen, 'twould be the same as none at all," sez he. "Only one would be different. We'd reached grandfather's offset steps by that time, an I thaaked him an took my posies. "I can't ask you to come in," sez I. "Grandfather don't like me to have much company." "l'll come some other time then if I ïnay," sez Kit; "have you forgiven me, Rebecca?" "I don't see as it's any consequence whether I have or not," sez I. "You're justas happy." "I'm not," sez he; "I'm very miserable. Will you take this, Rebecca?" holdin out a bit o' the "life everlasün." "Course," sez I, "after all my trouble, I don't want to lose any of it." "You didn't have no trouble with that piece," sez Kit. "I picked it." "Oh, well," sez I, "every little helps when you're makin a pillow." "That's not goin in a pillow," sez he. "VVhatshall I do with it, then?" sez I. "Put it in one o' grandfather's stews? I don't s'pose he'd know the diff 'rence." "A thing that's everlastin's meant to be kept," sez Kit. "A thing that's everlastin's pretty hard to get rid of," sez I, an he went off in a hurry. I was glad he did, for grandfather was out splittin up kindlin wood, an I knew he'd have somethin to say. I took my posies into the house an spread 'em up in the garret to dry- all but two bunehes I put in Uiejarson the mantel. I hadn't got my bittersweet after all, you see- an the little piece Kit gave me. "Who was that you was talkin to out to the door?" sez grandfnther when he carne in with his kindlin wood. "Kit Madison," says I, flyin round lively's I could gettin supper. "I thought as much," sez grandfather, "an you niay as well understand, Rebecca, lirst as last, that I ain't goin to have nothin of that sort goin on here. If you're cut out after the same pattern as your Cousin Almiry, the sooner you leave the better. I can't be bothered in that way again- by Essex fellers'specially." I didn't say nothin, but 'twas kinder hard on Cousin Almiry. She was 45 years old. &n I don't believe she'd ever looked at a man in her life till DeaconSwan asked her to have liim. "It's begun to enow, child, just as I told you. Look how thick it is down on tüa river. I'm af raid you'll have a real uncomfortable time gettiu home. You don't mind it? Oh, well, I didn't when I was young." The winter set in real early that year. The ground was covered with snow by Thanksgivin time, an grandfather an I went over in a sleigh an spent the day with father and mother. I was homesick enough when I went back again. 'Twouldn't 'a' been so bad if grandfather'd only let me have some company. I can't begin to teil you how the wind howled around that great empty house. We didn't use the main body oL it never, but just lived in a side wing that was built this way: First the keepin room, as grandfather called it, joinin the house, that was parlor, sittin room, kitchen an dinin room all to once. On the end o' that was a storeroom an grandfather's bedroom; mine was up stairs over the keepin room with windows on the corth side an south side, too, just as they were down stairs. 'Twas a sirrhtly place. From my south windows I could see way down the river past Essex, an a long stretch o' meadows, all white an smooth, with never a track across 'em. My north windows looked up the steep hillside, covered with wïiite like all the rest, 'cept where the rocks an the pine trees showed black under their load of snow. Course the river froze up the flrst thing, an great blocks of ice lay piled an heaped 'long the shore, an of all the unearthly noises that anybody ever listened to that river'd make the worst at night, when the tide was comin in. 'Twas 'riough to scare anybody to death if they didn't know what 'twas. I never could get used to it. Well, the days was short, an I kept to work pretty busy. When night come grandfather aa I would sit down, one each Bide the side. I'd have my knittin, an' he'd be stirrin his herb teas while he talked and told stories. I was interasted in those stories, to be sure, but they made me dreadful p'voked, for they was all 'bout what lively times they used to have in that house years age, when he an grandmother 5rst come thrre to livean keep the tavern. For you see 1 knew it might be real pleasant, even then, if only he was willin. There was young folks 'nough, that would 'a' come if only he'd let 'em. The Madison boys did come every once in a while. June had pretty good luck 'bout not findin grandfather to home, but he 'most always caught Kit, an then how he did go on, to be sure. He mortiíied me so, I 'most feit I'd rather folks would stay away. I was tellin Kit 'bout grandfather's stories one afternoon- he'd come in for a few minutes; grandfather 'd gone down to the store an hadn't got back. I was tellin him how lively the old place used to be. "I listen to him all the evenin," sez I, "an then I can't help listenin for the resto' the night. This house is just full o' ghosts. You can laugh, but I hear the ladies goin down stairs in their slippers - pat, pat, pat. I s'pose it's the rats, o' eöurse, an the swish o' their dresses, that might be the wind, an the sound o' their voices an the music, that could be the wind, too, singin through the pine trees, but it's too mournful a tune for any but ghosts to dance to." "Poor little girl," sez Kit, but I reckon he thought I scared myself a good deal for nothin. He took my hand in his great brown fist, an he held it as we stood together 'fore the fire. "I wish we could have a real party here," sez I. " 'Twould make the whole place seem different ever after, an I don't believe grandfather'd mind when once they got here." Kit said if I was sure about that he could manage the party easy enough. There were plenty of 'em would like to come. They were getting up surprises all the time, an they'd bring their own music an refreshments with 'em. Well, child, if you'll believe me, we just 'ranged to do it. We told June, an he entered right in, o' course. He was all for fun any time. What's the reason you haven' t asked 'bout June's looks, child? He was better worth describin than most - the prettiest fellow I ever see. Not many girls could come up to him. Those two brothers were dreadful fond o' each other. Folks used to laugh at Kit and say the reason he didn't settle down to no girl in particular was 'cause he was in love with June. But we talked the party all over that night as we stood afore the fire, an we got everythin settled. Land love you! Xo! He wa'n't holdin my hand all the time. I took it right away from him! 'Fore he went he asked me what I'd done with his piece of "life everlastin." I s'pose the bunches on the mantel made him think on't. I looked at him as if I didn't know what he meant, an he laughed right out. "No need to ask further," says he. "I s'pose it went into your grandfather's pillow with the rest. It'll give him queer dreams, I reckon." "He hasn't said nothin 'bout it yet," sez I, an the door opened, and grandfather walked in. He was in a dreadful bad temper. He'd met a team on the way home - Essex fellers, he said, they was, scowlin at Kit- an they wouldn't turn out for him more'n so mucli, so he had to do the rest, an. got upset in a drift an broke oue o' the shafts an lost his whip. It sounded like the old family coach when he was tellin it. But it had made him late, an you couldn't wonder he was put out. I kinder let Kit see I wished he'd go au got him off 'fore grandfather said anything very bad to hini! Well, I got that ballroom scrubbed; I did every bit o' it on my hands an knees, an 'twas cold enough in there to freeze two dry rags together. June got the wood for the fire when he was in one day an piled it up all ready to light. We grated a wax candle on the floor an danced round on it till 'twas smooth as satin. June an I 'tended to all that; he was asplendid dancer. WeVried to get Kit to see how nice it was when he come in, but he shook his head. He said he'd wait for the party. I thought he looked dreadful tired as he stood there watchin June and me. I wondered if there was anything the matter, but June was all right, an what 'fected one generally touched the other. ( He brought me another bunch o' everlastin's, Kit did. He said his mother sent 'em - they were some she'd raised in her garden. Well, everything was ready, an the next ftight grandfather an I was sittin by the fire, talkin as usual, an just as he was tellin how the parties used to drive up there carne a knock at the door, an there they was. Grandfather was so s'prised I reckou he didn't know for a minute whether he'd gone tuck to old times or not, an they all crowded round him, shakiu hands with him an actin as if they s'posed he'd be real pleased to see 'em. I showed 'em up stairs to the rooms I'd got ready for 'em to dress in, an then I slipped away to fix myself up. I wore u white dress, child, an the everlastin's Kit brought me. They were big white ones au shone like silver in my black hair. I wore some more of 'em in the front of my dress, an right in the center tho piece u' "Injun posy" he give me first. I was kind o' shamed o' it, but June had just told rae be was goin off to sea again the r.ext day, an- I'd ?ot an ache in my heart, child. I may fis well own it! I cóuld hear thi. girls laughin softly in the other ehamber, au the tap of their slippers as they went down stairs, an the swish o' their dresses. Itsouuded for all the world like the noisea ï heard every night, an the fiddles tunin down in the ballroom. It all seemed a part o' the same thing. "It's more cheerful," sez I to myself. But I could hear the moanin of the frozen rlver, an the wind was sobbin through the pine trees just the same. Kit and June met me at the door as I come down. "The first danco is for me, an the last one's for Kit,'' sez June. "We're going to divide even tonight, Rebecca." "I hope you've fixed everything to youi minds," sez I. "When I have company, I like to have 'em consult their own wishes 'stead o' me." "Oh, come! You're satisfied, and you know it!" sez June, an we went off together. Oh, well I rememlier every minute o' that evenin, though ifïfón't make so much to teil. I danced straight through with those boys, first one an then t'other, though I don't s'pose 'twas 'cordin to rule. More'n one wa'n't pleased by it, for Kit an June was the best partners in the room an fav'rites on .ill sides. But I didn' t care; I knew I might as well make the most o' the chance; I'd never have another. Grandfather'd gone to bed in an awful temper, an - Kit was goin tomorrow! "You like these everlastin's better'n the other sort," he said to me as we stood for a minute restin at the end o' the room. "What other sort?" sez I, lookin down at the flowers on my breast, an he looked, too, an saw his Injun posy. I didn't dare look up at him, but I knew he saw it. "You kept it, then, after all," sez he under his breath. "You said everlasting things was meant to be kept," sez I, turnin my face away. The music began again then, an June carne up for his turn. I wondered afterward why I hadn't noticed how quiet they both was that night - they that always used to be so lively- but I s'pose they didn't give me time, an everybody round was making noise enough. I had my last 'dance with Kit, an then the musicians put up their fiddles, an the girls fluttered off to put on their wraps. The sleighs come up to the door, an the party was over far too soon. Kit an June an I was left alone in the empty ballroom. The candles had burned down to their sockets. I thought 'twas the flickering light made those two so pale! "It's been the finest party o the season," sez June, with a long brealh. "I thank you for bein so good to us, Rebecca. Weshan't forget when we're far away, an- you've 'greed to treat us both alike tonight - now bid us goodby just the same," an 'fore I knew what he was doin he took me in his arms an kissed me an was gone 'fore I could speak. "What did he mean?" sez I. "Only what he said," sez Kit. "We're goin away tomorrow, but he'll come back some day, an you'll be good to him, but- you'll keep the everlastin's?" An then he was gone, too, with only a clasp o' my hand- he didn't kiss me- he left June that much ahead. They were loyal to each other, those two brothers. What both couldn't have, either scorned to take. I never see 'em again. Kit was lost at sea, an June went south an died o' the fever in New Orleans. Wild boys, folks called them in Essex, but they was true as steel to each other - an to me! It's most dark, child, my story's took so long! An the snow is deep. Who would think the flowers could ever have bloomed in that garden to look at it now? But the sun will shine, an the spring will come back again some day, an I - have my "life


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