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Jell's Sweeping Cap

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Jell was a dainty little schoolma'affi, brown-eyed, brown-haired, with a cunning dimple in her left oheek. She had no beauty but her hair, and this was her glory. Beautiful, glossy, abundant, it rippled down her back almost to the floor. Jell rejoiced, in innocent, girliah pride, whenever fashion allowed her to display this one adornment. Her eider relatives, grandmaand aunties, said,since she had not the beautiful face of sister Eleanor, nor the finely-moulded figure and graceful cavriage of Amelia, she must reinain an "old maid." "Because," said grandma, "no one now-a-days marries for real merit, but for money or beauty ; consequently, be content, my dear, to remain single, and be a comfort to your parents," laying her soft, wrinkled hand on Jell's bonny young head. "She might do worse," said Aunt Mary, who had just lost a husband and four lovely children. "80 she might," said Aunt Caroline, meditatively threading her white fingers through Jell's chestnut locks. "But, if I'm not mistaken, this brown hair will not want for admirers." It was decided that Jell should be a school-teacher ; for Miss Independence said, as she was not to marry, she preferred to earn her living at once. So this little woman of eighteen was enthroned in the great arm-chair belongingto "District No. 8," and right royally she reigned over the little whiteheaded urchins who stumbled over "b-a, ba," and those of larger growth, who penetrated the mysteries of arithmetie aud geography. It waa pleasant to teach in the springtimb, when all the world seemed wakening into a newer, brigbter life ; when the skiea were blue, birds sang, and the apple blossoms drifted down in snowy wreaths before the schoolroom door. Yes, it was pleasant to sit there all the long noons, dreaming of the future, which seemed to promise sweet and good, though prevented as by a thin veil f rom showing plainly ; just as the far-off clouds allowed the bright blue sky tints to peep through, giving only a hint of the glory beyond. But it was not as pleasant when the gun blazed fiercely, the children grew fidgety and inattentive, and the young teacher became flrst weary, then - shall we say it ? - cross. Neither was it agreeable, aftor teaching all the week, to labor busily on Saturday, which she needed as a rest day. Still our little Jell cooked and washed dishes, swept and dusted, only occasionally thinking that her two eider sisters might aseist ia these duties. Sweep, sweep, sweep, "up stairs and down stairs, and in my lady's chamber," went the little house-maid Jell, broom and duster in hand, sweeping-cap covering her brown braids, on a busy Saturday morning. This cap of her's was a present from Aunt Mary, who had sent it, acoompanied by a characteristic note, to the effect that it only became a cheerful, smiling face, and never to wear it when she was cross. Well did it become Jell's face this sunny June day. Smiles flitted over her countenance as ripples break over the smooth surface of a suntinted lake. Light of foot and light of heart, she seomed tne embodimont of happiness, as she threw wide open the heavy hall door, and stepped blithely forth, sweeping the wide, hospitablelooking piazza, and breathing in the delicious fragrance of the roses that strove to reach the roof. An oriole in the walnut tree was singing as though filled with ecstacy on this beautiful dewy morning. He seemed to inspire Jell, for she too lifted her voice in a succession of joyous trills, the rival musicians wakening entrancmg sounds. So doubtless thought a gentleman who arrived at the juncture, and paused, fearing to mar the music. But Jell's quick ear - schoolma'ams always have them- warned her of an audieuce ; so, breaking off short, she faced around and beheld the intruder. "Pardon me for ir.terrupting the eert," said lio, remo ving his hat ; but is this the residence of Mr. Evaus, and is he at home ?" "Tes, sir," snid Jell, layinf? aaide her broom, and in viting him in ; then going n search of her father, glad to escape f rom the room, and vexed with herself for tíver singing, and wilh the stranger for lietening. For ehe knew by the amused look in his eyes, although he was polite enough not to smile, that he comprehended her embarrassment. "Well, it's no matter now ; I'U nerer meet him agaia," quofch wise little Jell. But at dinner he sn,id his caller was Mr. John Landreth, the son of an old classmate. "And," he added, turning teasingly to Eleanor and Amelia, "you had better look your bost when he calis again, as he is conaidered a good catch, and is particular as to ladies' dress 1" "Humph I" thought Jell, "wonder what he thought of my sweeping rig ? He'll not see me thia evening, for I'm going to run over the field to Clara's." So in the evening, while Eleanor and Amelia were "primping" as Jell styled it, she crofiand the tield to the house of her bosom friend and conftdant, and did not return until sho was sure the caller would be gone. Her sisters were full of new topics. "And just to think, Jell," said Eleanor, "he awked papa if he had no other daughter, and when paia said yes, but that you were at a neighbor's, I actually thought he soomed disappointed ; but of course it was fancy ; he has never I met you." I "Of course it was," said Jell, quickly, then thought, "What would he think, I wonder, if lie knew I ran away from hiin ?" On Sunday the girls came from church to Jell, who bad remained at home to see to dinner.with a long account of how Mr. Landreth had looked so eagerly at them as they walked into church, and when the services were over had handed them into the carriage, promising himself the pleasure of caUing during the week. "I believe he is in love with one of you," laughed Jell ; "but which one?" "I don't know," said Eleonor, looking doubtfully at Amelia. "I don't know," said Amelia, looking doubtfully at Eleanor. "Time alone wül teil," said the wise school-mistress, oracularly. Let us go to dinner." Monday morning Jell was to school, glad and yet sorry, for it was her last week before vacation. Althongh she eometimes wearied of her work, yet ït was something in whioh she could not help but be interested. This week she resolved to be kind and forbearing to her pupils- her children, as she playfully oallod them - so that none but happy remembrances might be carried away. At noon one of her sweetest little girls begged to take down her hair and put it up again, this being deemed by some a great privilege ; never granted, however, unless the toacher feit specially indulgent. But this time Jell allowed it to be done, and sat with her back to the door, reading, with her hair falling in lovely confusión around her. A slight noise made her turn, and she beheld Mr. Landreth standing ia the door, as though he knew not whether to advance or withdraw. Annoyed, Jell invited him to be seated, and told Nellie to put up her hair. White this was being done, the gentleman remarked that he liad been thirsty, and had stopped for a drink. So the child was dispatched for some water in Miss Jell's own private glass. After drinking, the stranger introduoed himself, and abruptly inquired if Jell was not Miss Evans, and, on her acknowledging her identity, he said he had met hei sisters, but there seemed to be some fate against his becoming acquainted with herself, as when he called she was out, and on Sundav she remained at home. Then they talked of yarioTts things until schooltime, and, since he was there, Jell could not help asking him to remain and see some of the exercises. Thus it came to pass that Eleanor, looking from the door . about four o'clook, saw Mr. Landreth and Jell walking up the lane. Great was her wonder thereat, but when she was informed that they met by accident, and he was going to stay to tea, she asked no more questions, but sat down to entertain the guest, while Jell slipped away. She returned, however, before tea, with her hair arranged in somewhat better order, and a white rose at her throat. After this Mr. Landreth managed to drop in this pleasant circle quite often - very often, in fact. And Mrs. Evans puzzled herself considerably as to which of her daughters attracted him. He turned Eleanor's music, criticised Amelia's drawing, and discussed "Sartor Kesartos" with Jell. If he took Eleanor riding in the morning, he was quite sure to walk with Amelia in the afternoon, and just as sure to meet Jell coming from school, and persuade her to go rowing. I do not think Jell herself knew which he cared for most, or that she thought of it. She only thought the days unusually bright ; and when he sent Eleanor a bouquet of fairest roses, Amelia stately lilies, and Jell violets and heart's-ease, she put her's carefully away in a drawer, scarcely knowing why, only that she hated to throw them away. One morning Jell missed her sweeping cap - could not finditanywhere. She remembered seeing it in the sittingroom the night before, but now it was gone. Cario must have run off with it. Jell was quite distressed, for this cap was dear to her. Her mother called it her "happy cap," and its owner was disconsolate enough without it. School was over, and her two eldest sisters had gone for a short visit. The house seemed lonely, and the day passed slowly. But evening arrived finally, and with it Mr. Landreth. Jell was just telling herself that she need not expect him, now that Eleanor and Amelia were absent, when she spied him coming up the walk. As the air was warm, they remained on the piazza in the moonlight and talked, or were silent, as the spirit moved them. Presently he drew forth from a side pocket - Jell's sweeping cap ! She was silent in astonishment. "Do you know," said he, tenderly smoothing the saucy scarlet bow, "I have fallen in love with this cap ?" "Have you ?" Then, with a new and strange generosity, "Perhaps you had botter keep it." "You are too kind ; but, after all, I bolieve it is not the cap, but the owner, that I love best. Will you be as generous this time, Jell ?" leaning forward to look in her eyes. And Jell was glad that it was too dark for him to see what he might have seen there, and that none but he and the oriole swinging in its nest in the -walnut heard the reply. John only held her hand f ast, and they sat there in silence, until he said: "Do you know when I first loved you, Jell?" "No." "Why, the first time I sa-w yon, on this very spot, with this cap on your head. Every time after that, I only loved you more. I saw yon industrious, patiënt, intelligent, beautiful - " Here Jell, putting her hand over his mouth, told him to "Hush !" and he "hushed" at once.


Old News
Michigan Argus