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The Old Sleigh

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"Lizabiilh!" "Coming." "There, mother, old Speckla has returncd thanks at last," holding up a plump, white egg that would do credit to any qucen of ihe poultry yard: "Well, I allers sa'd that hen was thankful for past inercies, though jour father would laugh evcrytime I said so. Liddy Steven has jest been here; she wantod to seo you, but you was gone so long I tliought you raust be down to Mis' Pennell's." Yes, 1 met lier as she carne through tlie yard." She didn't teil you the news, did Bhe?" "Sho told me Will Marston had returned f rom California." "It does heat all 'bout that boy - seems j';t like the piecc o' poetry you rend sometimos about the feller that went ofT and stayed so many years and then como back and took his mol her out o' the the house- on ly t's t4ie fathor tliia time. 'The vcry (vorst of the deacon's six,' it called liini, and that's jest what Will was [hen. 1 never believed he liad anything to do with that scrape down to the villrtge. Liddy says he's terribly ric-h, and is going to take care of his father; the deacon must be glad, for I jucss he's stayed wilh Caleb most as long" as he can comfortably. They say he's going to marry Sara Miller's Jarter Ruth. Yon seo wh en Bob Mil!cr went out lliere for his health Will ion tul liini out and done liltle kinJaésses for him, and whca he was too lick to write home Will wroto for him. Part o' the time Sara was sick hlsself. so Ruth auswered the letters, and he fel! in love with her in that way. Thero Jidn't anybody but the deacon and the Uillers know he was coming. Sam irove down to tho depot and carried litm up to Caleb's. Guess they was some surprised to see him." There is no knowing how long Mrs. (Vlleu would have gone on, her tongue teeping time to the busy click-clack of ier needies, had not Mr. Allen's step, loundcd on the walk. 'Lizabeth never talked much, and the uother did not raiud her silence tolight A slight quiver about the seniative mouth alono told how keenly the vords were feit, and the sigh of relief nrhich escabed at tho welcome sound of ier father's voice was lost in the noise nade as he entcred, stamping the snow i'om his boots. "Why, father, does it snow? I ben o busy talkiug I haint thought to look jut of the window for some time." "Yes, ít's begun to como down right mart; shouldn't wonder if it was good leighing by to-morrow." "You don't think it's going to bo a long storm?" Mrs. Alien's face had an anxious expression as she asked the question, for long storm meant days of exile for ber. "No, I sh'll bo surprised if it don't ;lear up by to-morrow noon- so's 'Lizibeth and I can take a r'.de to the villago; that'll be a treat, won't it darier?" and the smilo that lighted up his laughter's face pleased him better than iny answer could have done. Guess I'll get the old sleigh out. Ben Smart s ben down to the city, nnd ho ays he saw lots jest like it; it's five pears since I sent Jim to the village for the ncw one, and it's never been out since. I'm glad it's coming into iashion again, for I never enjoyed myelf complete in the new one- always Eelt a liltle above my station," and farmer Allen's laugh rang through the )itting-room at the fitness of his romark. "Well, 'Lizaboth, you eet supper on the table, and I'll teil father the news irhile he warms his feet. He's ben .lown to the wood lot all the afternoon and hain't heard nothing of the strangs things that bas been happenning up liere." Haring arranged things to her satisfaction, the stocking Mrs. Allen had Jropped on tho enterance of her husband continued to grow under her deft lingers, while the news lost none of its interest with repetition. That night, after 'Lizabeth had taken 'ier candle and said good night, Mr. Allen sat for some time looking at the lire, then suddenly broke out: 'Mother, don't you think 'Lizabeth looks kind o' peaked lately? Then sho Jon't seeni to eat as much as usual." "There, father, you're always fretting 'bout that girl. I don't know what you'd a done if you'd had six like our brother Jonathan." "I didn't know but the news about Will might affect her some. You know Ihey used to think so much of each other." "Massy, fathor! that was yoars and years ago, when they were children. 'Lizabelh's too sensible a girl to let a feller liko Will Marston disturb her. When hc stopped writing to her, she gave him up. She's worked hard today, and a good night'a rest will bring her round." There secmed nothing more to be said, so he took a light and proceeded to make everything safe for the night, but long after his good wife was asleep, he lay awakc thinking of the pale face his daughter had lifted for the goodnight kiss." 'Lizabeth was not likely to get the strength her mother thought from a uight's rest Uutil the first rays of morniug lightod up the east she lay thinking of the old days, nnd living thum over again. Sho could not remember the time when she and Will had not scemed to belong to each othor. Wheu they were children he had drawu her to and from school on his sled, savod her the largest half of his apple or orange, and fought all her battles with a vigor worthy of an old knight. When tho years in their flight made them no longer ohildren, it was always Will who, at tho close of meeting or singing-school, drew her arm through his with an air of proprietorship and started for the Allen farm. After his mother's death he had not chosen his associates wiscly, but in spite of scorn and opposition, without disobodience, she had clungto him and trusted. Then carne tho afluir at tho village. One dark night a party of rouglis had broken into 'Squire Pcasley's barn, tied together the legs of all his hens, nailed up Whitefoot's stall, and then, climbing the roof of the ell, had placed a board soaked in salt and water over the chimney. The old gentleman, who livod alone, was obliged to travel on a slipery ground to the nearost neighbor for help. The villagers were justly indignant, aud for punishing the miserean ts, but no clue to thern could bc fonnd. Will was away from home that night, and suspicion rested on him as one of the party, until he could beai' it no longer, and decided to go away. It seemed but yostcrday - thoir partIng in the old trysting-place. Will had slippad the tiny gold band she wore upon her flnger - it seemed but a thread of gold now - asking her to wear it until he carne back. "For," said he, 'Til never como back till I can offer yon a name and a home. Somehow, the devil has had possession of me lately, but bad as I am, I would scorn to do what they acense me of - torture a feeble old man. While you believe aud trust me, thore are plenty who do not." And with n last "Good-bye, my Beth, " he was gone. When th first letter came addressed to Miss Beth Allen in Will' e rouud, boyish hand. Mr, Allen frownod and bis wife scoldcd; but when she was for stopping the correspondence at once, he said: "There. there, mother! let the girl write to him if she wants to; sho won't do him auy liarm, and I eau trust her for a true Allen not to go far out of tliu way." So the matter had droppod, and for flve years 'Lizabeth's letters were received without comment; Uien they ceased suddenlv and unexpectedly. For months 'Lizabeth watched the mails with anxious fa-ce. Mrs. Allen shook her head with an "I told you hu didn't amount to auything," whenever there was no one but her husband to hear, and Mr. Allen waited in silence. Time does much toward healing such wounds, and five years had made it seem more like an unpleasant dream than areality; when the news of Will's return came, awakening memories of other days. For once Mr. Allen was weatherwise. The snow had fallen through the night, covering tue etirth as with a raantle; the feathery flakes continued to como lazily down until just before twelve o'clock, then there was a rift in the western sky, and when the old yellow sleigh stood al the door the sun shonc as brlght as ever. "Be careful, father, aud don't let 'Lizabeth get cold waiting for you, " was Mrs. Allen's parting injunction as she came to the door to sce theiu off. There was jast wind enongh to lift the uewly-fallen snow andsond it in little whirls to lie sparkling and glistcning a few yards from where it had fallen. Robín was in excellent spirits, and Mr. Allen declared as he drew up in front of the village post -office that the distance never seemed so short. "Draw the robe close around you, darter, and don't get tired waiting. I've got to bargain with Sam Chase about that stove, bnt i'll bo quick as I can; then we'll drive down to Burnham's and get the book you mentioned." With this and an extra pull to Robin's blanket. Mr. Allen was gone. "Father was right, the old sleigh is more comfortable than the new one," 'Lizabeth thought, as she nestled down in one corner, drawing the robes more closely to keep out the puffs of wind that (ried to find enterance at all corners. Whilo tucking the robe belween the cushion and the side of tho sleigh her finger touched something smooth iike paper. "One of father's old receipts, he's so careless, " she thought, with a fond smile, as she drew it forth for inspection. But a glance was needed to show her mistake. It was a letter yellow with age, iinopened and addressed to herself in the handwriting she knew so well. She could scarcely trust her ejes, but there was tho familiar post-mark- San Francisco - and she was just leaniug forward to road the date, whon a gust of wind, taking it from her hands, deposited it at the feet of a gentleman who was passing. She dared not look up, but in a moment he was handing it toward her, saylng: "Is this your property, Miss Allen?" At the sound of the voicc, so liltle changed that she would know it anywhere, the hot blood rushed to her face, and she had scarcely courage to reply: "I think so. 1 never saw it before." She feit the keen eyes search her face, and there was a touch of scorn in the question that followed. "It is an old letter addressed to you, and you never saw it before?" She feit as if she must vindícate herself, and her answer came full and clear. "I just found it in the old sleigli. I do not know how long it has lain there." He glanced again at %io letter; it must be the same one; he knew the date so well. The tone was almost eager now. "You never saw it before, Beth? You did not receive it, my last letter, and leavu itunanswered?" "Could you doubt me, Will?" She was was looking him in the face now. "I might have known botter, but you wero always so punctual, and when I received no answer to my last letter I was too proud to write and ask au explanation. 1 thought you had given me up, likc every one else in B . Can you forgive me for my want of confidence? But he needed not words for answer. When Mr. Allen came hurrying back tho old sleigh had two occupants. It was some time before they could explain affairs to his bewildered ïu'ml, but wheu 1 ght began to dawn he excla'med: "It was that Jim; he's so careless! lost a letter for me once!" Will was persuaded to accompany them home, and it was a very merry party that surprisod Mrs. Allen by their early appearanco. As soon as possible Mr. Allen hui ried his wifo off to the kuchen to unravel the mystory, while Will and 'L'zabeth read and ro-read the old letter by tho light of the hickory fire. What Ruth Miller would say was a source of much anxiety to Mrs. Allen, until one day Will remarked, much to her peace of niind, that Ruth had been engaged for somo time to a friend of his in the West - a gentleman she met E some years before while visitiug in the city. ' The house upon the hill Will and 'Lizabeth cali home, and the old yellow I s'.oigh - well, as Mr. Allen says, it's not I every sleigh that can boost of a romance like that. - Portland TransI cripC Firjnty different state aow obttxre Arbof day. Wlne-dealers Ia San FrancUco are maklne arrangeraents to hip wlues to Japan, Norwar, ana Qcrmanj. "Swan's efr on toat" to one of th latest dlsh as that have found faror among tbe epicureans of Albanj, N. T. A wineryat Marysville, Cal., hai mide prcparallons to comume two thausaad toni f grapes during the coming season. One of the Albanr, N. T., atorekeepen 1 a young Rlrl 15 rears old. Bhe managet tha etore without assistance, and puriue a growIne business. The professor of phygtcal educat!on 1b the Unlrersity of Tennsvlranla, aided br tbe faeulty, are stopping the smoking of clgarettci on the college grounds. The Y. M. C. A., at Cornell uniremlty II makinc an effort to forra a religious librar for tbe use of itt members. The asaodatlon has tbree hundred members. Not oae In twelye New York city U4 who rresrntcd themselres to undergo the pbrglcal examinatlon aa prellmimry to competitioa for adm!lon to a cadeUhJp at the Xuyal academy paased. Stram irhicb collected around one hundred tin dr!r!ng-cans In a dyeinj;, priutisg, and bleachlug ettubllshment at Brooxdale, N. T., caused an explosión which ehook the country for thrce miles. In San Fraaciaco, Cal., the other day, a achool-teacber conipcllcd her acholan to atrtp to akln to fiiid who had ctolen a llttle Rirl't dres s pin. Tlie next day the lost artlcle wat found in the aehool-yard. A great school for brewers Is about to be etabllshed In the old uulrersity town of Donal, France. It la calculated tbat in this way Donal wlll supply France wlth brewers, wbot beer wlll drive the Germán bererafe completely out of tbe field. The Sans Souci botcl at Ballston, N. T., which at the time of IU erection was th ; largest hoat.-lry In the United States, has been sold to a New York librar. It bas numbered among lts guests such men as Webster, Clay, Douglas, and Calhoun. A little ludían boy, wbose problem in arltkmetic to work out was "Divide 1,000 by 9." worked away Tery patiently untll the slat wai nearlr corered wlth U's and 1 over, then, looklag up to hls teacher, ín tones of great perplexIty, sald: "Miss Blank, I can not stop." In Rondout, N. T., there Is a restaurant tbat i displays prlnted cards which conreys to cujtomers Information of what may be obtslaed tbere. One of the slgns reads as follows: "Lamb chopsea;' another, " oyster stewes ;" another, -'all kindse of pises;" another, "oyster íryses," etc. A mas walked lnto the place, and, after looking at the signa, blandly ask4 the clerk for a "pleceses of pieses."


Old News
Ann Arbor Democrat