Press enter after choosing selection

Finding A Lover

Finding A Lover image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

"Ladybug, ladybug, fly away! Bring me a beau without delay. " St. Andrew's night had come around just 18 times in the brief existence of Martha McClintock, and for years at the midnight hour of the fateful day the girl had said her little speech to the ladybug. It is an old superstition that he or she who desires to be happily mated must find a ladybug on St. Andrew's day. The tiny black beetlemust be irnprisoned all day and be given its liberty in the witching hour of ghosts and goblins. Then within a year wil-1 come a beau to marry the lady fair. i In Honiton township every boy and girl, since they were old enough to know anything of beaus and sweethearts, followed the old time superstitious custom on St. Andrew's night. If any of them married within the year, they extolled the effioacy of the charm of the ladybug, and the young folk of Honiton believed all the more faithfnlly in it. Martha McClintock begau to try the charm at the age of 14, not because she lacked schoolboy beaus, for she was a pretty girl, but because marriage neant to her more than a lover and a protector. It rneant a deliverer frora an unkind fate. The McClintocks belonged to sÓrne of the oldest families of Virginia. "' They had been well to do once úpon ai time, but had become impoverished. I Grief carried away Martha 's mother, and then her father died, leaving thé poor girl alone in the world, save for the kinship of an old aunt, who had become estranged from the family many years ago. she -was the sister of Martha's father, who had forever incurred the displeasure of his fatnily by marrying the prettiest girl in an adjoining township rather than the bride they had chosen for him. To this aunt, who was well off in worldly goods, Martha was sent by the town authorities. The girl was not a welcome gift from the township, but in view of her close relation to Martha's father and her ability to house and feed and clothe her she could not well reí use to receive her. To tie the sensitive, tender, young creature, who had been loved to idolatry by two doting parents to a sour old maid, who looked with affection upon no one but a half dozen cats, was like imprisoning a lark in a dismal cage. In this loveless atmosphere the child grew into a maiden. She was given as good an education as the place afïorded, for her spinster aunt shunned the criticism of her neighbors, which would have been poured out upon her had she neglected to give so bright a girl the necessary schooling. Martha learned rapidly. She took advantage of overy opportunity to enrich her rnind, and as all the teachers were fond of her and sought to bring as much brightness as possible into the yonng girl's life her school days were arnong the happiest of her existence. At the age of 16 her guardián took her from school, believing that she had done enough so far as her niece's mental development was conoerned. A life of drudgery began with that day for Martha McClintock. The servant was dismissed, and she was installed as maid of all work. The tedium and hardship of meníal labor might have been borne in patience had she uot been ent off froin all companiouship with the young people of the place. She met them only on Sunday at church, and even then the ogre eye of the spinster conflned the intercourse to a mere greeting or a frieudly handshake from the more courageous youths of the village. The monotony of her louely life made Matthá döépondent, andhèr dái'ly prayer ■was one for deliverance fröm the serfdom. Thus St. Andrew's day carne for the eighteenth time in the young girl's life, and in accordance with the custom of the young folks of her acquaiutance 6he searched high and low for a ladybug amoug the shrubs of her aunt's garden. The seasou was late, and the bugs and beetles had not come out as early as formerly. Ladybugs were unusually scarce that year, and Martha as sorely cíi.-.iijpi titc. ... .:. i..-" search ïvailei.l her uounn? lu bitter tt'ars over her hard lot the ?irl retired tor the first time sílice she loulii rcmember, unable to carry out the pharm with the ladybug. Her sleep was restless and frequently broken by the sobs she could not control. At midnight she arose. PerJiaps she would find a lady bug, af ter all, if she wout out now in the moonlight and renewed her searoh among the grapevines that trailed arouud the fence at the far end of the garden. Softly she crept down stairs and out of the rear door. Her aunt was a sound sleeper, and the girl feit safe from her ruolestations. She hurried down to the fence, the moon guiding her footsteps as it peeped out from uuderneath a cloud. Soon it shone f uil and white over the entire landscape, bringing into bold relief evcry object in the garden. The big wine leaves were silhouetted against the darker background. The dewdrops sparkled like diamonds, and busy ants that crawled over thern were distinctly visible. Suddenly Martha stopped. There, a-way up near the top of the fence, she saw a lady bug perched on a lenf which stood out straight and firm like a tray. It was asleep, sound asleep, and Martha had no trouble in breaking the leaf from the stem and securing the coveted prize. "Ladybug, ladybug, fly awayl Bring me a beau without delay. " cried the girl, hope, longing, anguish; expressed in her voice. A loud groan answered in the distance. The girl trembled. "Help, help!" cried the voioe of a man. Martha's first impulse was to fly to the house, but her better nature asserted itself. A human being was in distress ; that was clear. She must go to him ; that was also clear. " Where are you?" shouted Martha at the top of her voice. "Here, under this clump of cottonwood trees. Help, for heaveu's sake I" "I arn coming, " answered Martha, this time not so loud, for the cottonwood trees were not far off. Sheclimbed over the fence and ran as fast as she could to the spot indicated, which was about a hundred yards away. There in the inoonliglit she saw lying in the giass a man. He was young and handsorne, and he wore the garb of a huntsman. His face was pale and distorted with pain, but a look of gratitude shot from his feverish eyes as they glanced up at the tall, graceful girl bending over him. " Where are you hurt?" asked Martha. "I was thrown from njy horse, " said the injnred man, "while hunting this afternoon. In the f all I broke my leg. The horse ran away, and at first I was glad of this, beoause I hoped that the riderless animal would teil the story of some one's injury and that help would come to me. For hours I waited for the sound of a human voice without avail. Then I dragged myself to the edge of this field. I must have fainted, for when I recovered my senses it was night. I triecl to sleep, but the pain was so intense that I could not do so. Then carne your voice. It was like the voice of an angel. " It did not take Martha long to debate what she must do for the injured man. Her father's most intimate friend was Dr. Godlove, the town physician. It was a mile to his house, but she was young and agile, and she knew the doctor would come with her instantly. In léss than au hour she returned, bringing with her Dr. Godlove, followed by a light spring wagon, into which a mattress had been laid. The doctor and the driver placed the injured man on the mattress and lifted him to the wagon bed. Then the drive back to town began. It was slow, becanse the least jar caused the patiënt to groan with pain. The doctor took him to his house even before the young man was able to give him his card, which he did as soon as he was comfortably laid on the bed in the guest chamber. The operation of setting the broken limb began, and when that was over the young man dropped into a sound sleep brought a bout by opiates givon by the doctor. Martha learued from herold friend that the injured man whom she had found nnder the cottcmwood trees was the son of one of the richest nierchants of Philadëlphia. He, had corne to the Virginia mouutaius on a hunting trip and was about to return to nis home when misfortune overtook him. Thé six' weeks whioh followed were the happiest in Martha's life. Dr. Godlove iusisted that he needed her to help hirn nurse his patiënt, and thus obtained permission from Martha's aunt to keep her at his house. The request was made at the instigation of the young Philadelphian, who had fallen in love with the girl as she bent over him in the moonlight and brought him the succor that had been denied him so long. It is needless to say that Martha loved him in return, and before he departed for his home they were married in the doctor's parlor. The young wife confided her romance of St. Andrew'snight to one of her schoolgirl friends, and ever since the charm of the ladybug is held in high regard by the young folk of Honiton.'


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News