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Taught By A Sensible And "blessed Old Maid."

Taught By A Sensible And "blessed Old Maid." image
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"There is no othor way, Clara. I am fhe only relativo sho has left, and we muet invite her hero for tho winter, anyhow. She and John stayed with father and mother while I was roaniing hen and thcre. Now they are all gone, Martha' s alone, and it's no more than right for me to look out for her awhile. ríl write immediately." ¦Ves Xathau; tliat is right I know, bul 1 oaa't help dnading it. I alwaya had ¦ horror of 'old maids;' " and Mi's. Tracy looked nervously aroónd the pkin kitchen of tlie little -You needa't bo afraid of Martha; she isn't very old, and I venture to say, none of the prying, disagreeablo old inaids we read of. In gpite of his roassuring words, Mrs. Tracy dreaded the arrival of her husband's malden sister, who he had not ¦een sinoe the day lie left his New England home to try his fortuno in the ncw West But, as Clara soon discovered, there was nothing to fear from the qniet, sadfaced roman who carne to them, whose life had been go (uil of devotion to others, and noWe self-saerüiee, that there had been no time for growinohard and bitter because some of life'l sweetest blessings had been denied her. The children, Bert and Mabel and baby llay. with the unerring instinct of chil.lhood, feit the depth of her quiet kimlline-s. and took her at oncu into thcir loving little hearts. Misa Traoy, although wholly unobtrusive. was nalurally very obsei-vant. This, together with tho interest shc feit in her brother's family led her, before she had been man; reeks an inmate of his house, to make a disooverj. Nathan, in his desire to get on in the WOflá, was missing much that would have made Ufe plea-ant. In thinkingBO constantly of the future, he was losing all the sweetneas of the present That this was affecting the whole family n as only too apparent It was seen in Clara's anxious, weary face, and repeated in a lesa degree upou the counteqancei oí their children. There seemed to be no rest for any of theoi. Xo relaxation in the struggle for ezistence. Xothingto vary thewearing monotony oi erery-day labor, which, like Bome huge Juggernaut, was oruahing beneath its wheek all that niight have made We gweet and pleasanfa Martha sluank from interfering with the habita of her brother's family; but, looking ahead, she sawforthem nothing but sorrow and disappointment, and feit that somethingmustbe done tosave thom. Watrhing for an opportuuity to talk with Nathan, she gladly aocepted h;s invitation one morning to ridu with liiin to town. 'I'hc were rolling rapidly over tho li'vel prairie road, wlicn Martha broke tllc1 1(!H(. li truly exhilacatinz to ride in this lii-a-inur air.'oMT thes.. tinc road, especially with sö nier a 'rig,' as ynu cali it. Tüe bugg) is easj and the horses rcally line animáis. JTou must be doing wrll nÖW, Xathan." 1 1 am. Martha: luit it has been a hard pull, with losing crops, sicJtncss, fie Wc're in debl ct, but wii h hard work and eoonomy i guess we cao make it up in anotheryear. "Then what wiJl come next?" "I mtaad to have a nice large barn, and tome ohoice catUe.; then I shall build a goud house and prepare to take comfort. There isn't a better farm than mine for miles around. and I must Tiiakc the best improremente possible. 1'licn. some ,]a, we'll have tho best of - .r thing." "But who will share it all with you?" "Whv. niy family, of course!" opening his cycs wide with astonishment. ¦All except Clara, yon mean," solemnlv. ¦Viiv. Martha, howyon talk. It is for her l'm working - who clse, I'd like to know?" "Xow, Natlian, Jast take a few plain words fi'om your sister, who means only kiiulne.-s. I'vc liad ex[)ericnco, and, in my judgnient, Clara hasn't vitality enongh to take her tlirough andtlnr year of hard work. I have your interests at lieart, and would not needlessly amuse your fears; but I am conyinced that your wife is weariug out. She musl rest from this constant labor, oír yoUT children will soon be motherll'-s." ¦l)on"t, Martha, talk in that way! Clara is as well as nsuaL She was alwa nlendei' and ilelieate. I'd gladly have kipt her in case, but she knew she married a poor man, and was willing to work Hp;1 He was a little annoyeil. ¦I doubt not ou have been kind and rrooil to hiT. and now that she h as Selped 'work ap' ÍO far, I know you will be glad to give her a vaeation. You do not realize what it is to care for threa [it ehilclivn ani do all the work that munt be done in a fann-liouo. Sh might havo been slcndcr when a rl, ut not careworn. To-night, if you vill look at one of her old pictures, you vill lio convinced I am right." "SuDoose I am: what then?" '-HUW IllliCll IV Wtn-vr -w- timrn ack to Ohio for tho winter? I can teep house." "Simply out of tho question. She woulda t go anyhow, Martha." "I thought you didn't know it; but hu is as hoiuesick as a child to seo her ather and mother. She hasn't said so, ihe never complains, but an unutterablo onding iills hor eyes, and quiek tears when sae ipeakl of them. Sure of your consent and my willingness to keep ïonse for her, she would go gladly." "And you think it would do her good?" "Undoubtedly, and it would bo the iheapesl medicine you could give her, ind the sttrest Think it over a day or i., Xatliau." Thai eveuiug Martha was not surirised to see a startled, anxious look on ïer brother's face, as ho closely re;arded his wife, be tluiught im'self unobserved, Husbanda are itten the blindest of all persons in regard to their wivts, bi;t .Xathan was on -inced. Thai night wheu they werc alone, he udilenlv cMlaimeil: "Clara, how would you liko to i-it vour mother this fall!'" She lookcd at him a moment in silence, while a wave of crimson swcpt over her pale face. Then, turuing aray, she said, brokenly: "Don't talk about it, Nat; I know we can't afford k, and l'd rather not sceak of it." "But we can afford it, and Martha is willing to keep house for me. Now do you want to go, dear?" There was an unconscious tone of reproach in his voice, and a look of pain ín his faco whieh she could not understand. "O, Nathan!" she sobbed, with herfaoe hidden on his shoulder, "don't imagine tliat I love you any the less, or am tired of our little home; but I do want to go. Jiivt now there is nothing in the worfd I want so niuch as to see father and mother." "Well, then you shall go. little wife, Don't cry so; I didn't know you cared so rauch; but that settjes it, you shall go." After Mrs. Tracy and the baby wore gone, Martha lookcd around the unornamented rooms and resolved that there should be something new, sotnething bright and pretty, to welcome back the home-keeper. I'lio "front room" had never been furnished, bnt after considering her resources, Martha thought she could manage it, if she could persuade Nathan into buying a carpet. "A carpet? why Martha!" he exclaimed at her proposal, too astonished to say inoro. "What was ('lara's old home like? You don't want her to notice too sharp a contrast on her return," said the sister, quietly. "I may get a carpet," thoughtfully; "but so many other things would have tofollow." " "Nat. when father and mother died, we were going to divide things, bul you liad no home then, and while John and I stayed. everything remained the same. Wheu 1 came here, I sold or packed everything, and there is a big box for you, which is on the way out here. Besides bedding and clothing, thore aro pictures, vases, curtains, a table-spread and some of mother's nico rugs. They will help furnish the room. I guess you can afford to buy acane-seat rocker and two Chairs, and we'll make the rest." "l'd like to know how." There are two bottomlcss chaira in the granary; I will ebonize the frames, cushion seat and back, and with strips of embroidery and heavy fringa they will bo handsome. That old rocker which is forever coming to pieces can be mended and treated likewise, minus the rockers, and you'll havo an easychair. A pine table which you can make, stained and varnished, and covcred with the spread, will do nicely." "Well, it sounds practicable, I'll help all I can." "There will be ottomans to make, a mantle to put up, and a cómico for the curtains. It will take our spare time for all winter, but how pleased Clara will be." "I inteud to have everything nice for her some day. ' ' "Yes, Nat; but a woman must have something to live on in the meantimé. Thete'a a love of the beautiful in every woman's heart, and it must be satislieil. If surrouuded by grand scenery the inind eau feed ou that; but here, in ) his level, monótonotu country, I bélieve the home should bo very bright and attraetive.'' 'There may be some truth in that, but I never thought of that hefore," replied Nathan. 'It is not common for a man to think about the home as a woman does, for he mingles with the world, while most of lier hours are spent insido the four walls. Clara had no time to fix up anvthing; that baby was a sight of trouble; but if you and thechildren help, we can do wonders." And they did. When Clara came home, four months later, she scarcely knew the place. "Come and look at yonr wifo," wlüspered Martha, when Nathan liad liiiished the chores and was readv for a happy erening. There she was in the prettj room, chatting with the children. Joy and glailness shone through her face. which had lost its sharpness aml pallor, and there was an elastieitv in her movementt which reoalled her girlhod. "Slie looks ten years younger, Martha; and if I can heïp it she shall never work so again. You've taught me a lesson I'll not forget. We'll take all the comfort we can now if we never gel a big houstt ' ¦Maitha made this go pretty that we .-han't want anothcr," exelaimed Clara, hearing his last rcniark as tln entered the room. "I'm so thankful to you all for this pleasant hoine-cominji." "Martha detécTSt the thanks, for she planned it all," said Nathan, catehing up the baby. "You are a jevvel, Martha; aud to think that I was afraid of you and dreadcd to havo you come!' "Was that because you knew I iras an oldmaid?'" asked Martha, laughing. "Yes, that was just it. I dida't know, vou sce. that vou wero 6uch a 'blesscd


Ann Arbor Courier
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