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On The Veranda

On The Veranda image
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The people who owned it called it a porch, but Miss Hetheringtoii thought that a rather depreeiatory way of speaking of her country resort, for the suinmers boarders lived there. The house might have been a very pioasant one ■when it was opened, but in the summer-time it was virtually closed, because of the tlies, and heat, and dust, and sun, Airs. Fries said. In thè morning the bed in the boarders' room was nicely made - too nleely i'or a considérate person to disturb - the furniture all dusted, and put baek against the wall, and the furniture was solid mahogany; the blinds were shut. and indeed the Windows too, and coming in out of the sunlight one had to grope one's way all over the house. So Miss Hetherington went out upon the veranda immediately alter break tast, and remained there il' she remained near the house at all, till bed-time. Just now it was delightful. She had just left the breakfast table, but by the little watch that hung from her girdle it was already nine o'clo-jk, and the little watch kept excellent time. All through the meal there had been a pleasant clickety nmsic from the neighboring üeld. John had told Miss Hetherington the night before that he would about reach the middle of the field with bis mowing-machine when she left the breakfast table the next morning, and sure enough there he was. Wnat a Hercules was this young farmer Fries! and a handsome stalwart fellow, and a line, frank, excellent nature, and a gentleman withal. The Frieses had always .sent their sons to a sort of college íor a lew years, to polish fhem up; then, if they chose to go on with a profession, the money was lound for it. In fact, several of John's cousins were studente of divinity, of medicine, of law; but John chose to be a farmer, of his own free-will, his mother said. She was a nice, quaint, wholesome little woman, whom Miss Hetherington liked very much, and Mrs. Fries seemed to return this affection, until John - But that was a matter of course. ,Cela va sans dire,' Miss Hetherington said, and feit sorry that these little hobbies of mothers always interfered witli their happiness. She feit sorry, but not sufftciently so to let it interfere with her own. She had begun by liking Mrs. Fries better than her son. She amused her, and interested her; the old lady had all that native ingenuity, vigor, simplicity, and honesty of expression whieh the few years at college had cured for John. But of late Mrs. Fries had been very busy. It was hayingtime. and she went to bed early. Mrs. Fries did; not Miss Hetherington, who disliked going to bed more than anythlng in the world, unless it might be getting out of bed after she had once gone to it. As for John, he liked the moon. But there he was, quite in the middle of the üeld, as he had sworn to be. The veranda faced the road, running the whole length of the house. Some line horse-chestnuts shaded the lawn which extended down a dozen rods or so to the road; then across the lenco was the üeld of hay where John was mowing. Miss Iletlierington put up her glass. Her sight was tolerably good Viy nioon or gas light, but deficiënt in the garish light of day. Without her glass, John and the mower looked one;she couldn't teil where. John began and the mower ended. Miss Hetherington put up her glasa and just then the veranda made a pleasant picture. A few vines had been trimmed with a due regard to light and shade, but the most of them had been teft to their own sweet will, just as the farming had been left to John, and there is ahvays something deliehtful in the attributes of au fetterod will. Humming-birds and hees, darning-needles and butterflies, and all sorts oí winged fchiags, dartod in and out of the blossonis, and a gorgeous spider hung midway in a niagnificent palace made in a single night. spiders wore b ack and yellow, the fsahionable colora, and so did Miss Hesherington, who was not only a handsome creature, but she had a great respect tbr the aecessories of beauty. The apider paused in the construction of bis palaue to look at her, and so did John. AU at once the nmsic of the mower ceased, and the fine ligure at the helm, or whatever the governing power of a mower is called, took off its wide-brimmed straw hat, and waved it in the sweet sommee air; and Miss Hetherington, not to be outdone, took from her belt a little trifle of lace and linen, and she also waved it. And 11 ei ven knows how long this little pantomine might have gone on if Miss Hetb.eriD.gtou had not heard behind her a peculiar cough; it was an apologetic cough - a cough thatbegged to be exeused lor intruding- and it carne from Mrs. Fries, who was also looking fX Ui Hethurington, but not lik John, or the spider, or the many wellkiicwn ways of looking at a pretty wouian. ïhere was somethiiig in the faze os Mrs. Fries tkat went to ilist, Hethenngton's heart without elating ït. 'Good-mdrniiio;,' said Miss Hetherington - 'Gooa-nioruing, Mrs. Fries. You teil me without speaking that I must not interfere with the shining liours of liaying-tiine, and you see that it is just as i f I went within-iloors - not a bit of me is to be seen, and I promise you won't be till the tedions sim goes down.' Miss Hetherington h;id put Uerself and lior draperies quito behiml a lingo J apáñese honeysuckle, and now sank inte one of the big red easy-chairs, and reached a book from a convenient and sheltered nook which was cramnied with paper literatura She yawned slightly. ïhe compact mass of summer reading took a somewhat wearisome shape. 'And how long does tliis troublesoine haying-time last?' she said. Miss Hetherington looked up, and was surprised to see that Mrs. Frie?. had turned into an old woman. From a comfortable middle age she had slirunk and faded into soniething quite pitiable. ïhe red in her cheek, which had hitiierto bloomed like that in i winter apple, had suddenly fled, and her eyes, which had always held the snap of virility, were sunken and dull. 'It's too late to interfere with John,' she said; 'It's too late; the mischief s done.' Miss Hetherington was touched and interested. The fault she had found with her summer reading was tliat she couldn't get to believe in it. Here was something before her eyes. She suddenly put up her soft white hands, from which a shower oL lace reeded, and catching the trembling wrinkled hands of Mrs. Fries within ïer own, she drew lier gently into a ihalr by her side behind the honeysuekle. 'Dear madam, dear Mrs. Fries,' she said, in that low, caressing voice which was a valuable accessory of Miss Heth'ïington's, 'don't, pleiise, worry. I assure you there's nothing to worry about. 'Begging your pardon, miss, I think ;here is,' cried Mrs. Fries; 'if you ain't in earnest, my John is; and that's what [ want to talk to you about this mornng. I don't say you'se all to blame. [t's perhaps just as natural for you to ro round trappin' foolish boys like John as it is for that nasty black and yellow spider to lie in wait for tlies.' 'Madam !' Miss Hetherington drew ïerself up haughtily. 'Begging your pardon again - perhaps ['m wrong ; perhaps it may be as John ïopes, though I sorely distrust it. You ain't the kind of a girl to take kindly to 'arni life ; and there may be a way to eave the farm behind - the farm and me too, and everything that might be a trouble to you - if you only love John. Ah ! you draw back. I thought you would. I told John so last nlght. John,' says I, 'she's f ooling you ; that's only her summer sport ;' and he tried to augh me off. But I talked on and on, rying to show him the pitfall he was unibling into, when all at once he urned on me with a white face, and, Mother, hush !' says he ; 'there's only ;his to say, in that case : what's fun 'or her is death to me !' And I don't say you can help it, any more than yonler spider can help catching flies. The '..ord made you both, and sent you, but I wishd it had pleased Him to send you somewhere else, and spare my John.' TH go - I'll go now !' beginning, in fact, to gather up her draperies. 'It's too late now. The mischief's lone.' And it seemed that more mischief was at hand, for a great ery arose Tom the opposite field, and a bad sight could be seen from the veranda. Nothng less than a stalwart man dethroned 'rom his proud perch on the mower, md trampled under hoofs that had always seemed to move only at his bidding. Miss Hetherington stood there as if turned to stone. Mrs. Fries had disappeared, and in the mean while they were bringing the poor young farmer :o the house on a rough litter. I asroached Miss Hetherington. 'I think we had better go,' I ventured to say, for I was the only other summer boarder, Come' let us go and pack up and get away, Kate.' She turned on me quite flercely. 'You, a woman !' she said, 'and talk of going at a time like this !' 'I spoke as a boarder, Kate, not as a woman. You know we have no right to intrude any further; we were not wanted in the beginning; we forced ourselves upon these worthy people.' 'We didn't know there was a man within miles,' said poor Kate; 'that is, a young man - I mean a-a gentleman - ' 'Of course we didn't,' I said encouragingly; 'but we know now, to our, to their, and to everybody's cost. Let's get away, Kate; it's the refinement of eruelty to stay any longer.' She'stood there quite dazed, and I led her quietly up stairs into our darkened room. The whole house seemed kcpt in readinoss for any gort of castrophe. I confess I was dying to get rid of it, and threw open the sliutters the better to seeto pack our trunks. Upon which, Kate run over and closed them again. How can yon let the sim come in on the carpet in that way?' said Kate, and the flies. Haven't we done her though injury already V' 'Speak tor yourself, my dear,' I said ; and at that moment the poor little old lady ran in, crying and wringing her linds. 'He isn't - isn't - ' I stammered, while Kate became white as the wal! she leaiied against. ïhe old lady went up to her and grasped her dress. 'Packing your trunk'? Going?' she said, in a hollow whisper. 'She don't want to go,' I said, coming to the rescue. 'She'd rather stay, but 1 don't think it's best. I - ' The old lady turned to me, keeping her hold on poor Kate's black and yellow trimming. 'I don't care whether you go or not,' she said to me; 'but if you've soul in your body, you won't take her with you. He's asking for hei now; she may save his life. Let her save him first; for Qod'a sake, let her try to save himl' There was more íorce than politenes in the old lady's appeal, but this was no time for platitudes. 'Airs. Fries,' said I, 'there's one thing about it - if she staya now, ha mus stay foryr.' Kate uttered a soft little cry, and pu her arms about the old lady. She looked over at me, with a wonderfu light in her eyes, and a sudden soften ing of her whole being. 'Oh, is that it ?' I said. 'Well, stay then, dear, in Ileaven's name, and so will I till the worst is over. You won' be incongruous here, Kate; you're won derfully adaptable - ' But she had gone away to John witl the old lady. It was a terrible risk. I waited in rreat suspense, placing what hope ] could in trepanned skulls and the modern improvements in artificial lirnbs, for I knew from the first he wouldn't die - young men like John hold on to life, especially with a temptation like Kate by the side of them. I am writing upon the same veranda i year after the accident in the hay ïeld. The honey-suckle is in f uil bloom, md Kate's pet mocking bird is shriekng in a flood of light that radiates the lining-room. Young Mrs. Fries bas substituted nets for the Cimmerian jloom that used to envelop the house. !iow any one with half an eye can see, o the fartherest end of any corridor, md the bedrooms have a sun-bath every lay. The old lady don't nünd. She's all the way of twenty years younger, and the best of company. John didn't ose his leg, let alone bis lile; and the unniest part of the whole tliing is that vate has made quite a match. John ïappened to be ever so much richer ban any of the marriageable men we mew.-


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