« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
“I’m getting all mixed up on my hating plan,” she thought as she went. “I’ve given Mr. Danvers and Mr. Fenton flowers; that 's all right.
“‘IT 's VERY BECOMING, SAID THE OLDER
But I like them both. And I like the pretty, young lady and the hair-ribbon lady, too.” Aunty Jones chuckled comfortably when she saw the gingham. “I declare, Debby ' I don't know as my needle 'll take to anything but brown. We might have thought of blue long ago, for it 's a sight prettier. I'll enjoy sewing on it.” “I could read to you while you sew, if you like,” ventured Deborah, quite thrilling with the soft, clear shade of her new dress. Aunty Jones's face brightened. “It would be a great treat. Maybe you ’d read me my Bible piece first.”
Deborah found the Bible marker at the account of Jehoshaphat going to meet the Moabites. She liked the swing of the old Jewish story. “He appointed singers unto the Lord and that they should praise the beauty of holiness,” she read finally, and stopped to think what the words meant. The beauty of holiness was a thing she had not thought about, but in a flash she saw it was the only true beauty in the world; one must cultivate beautiful thoughts and deeds as well as beautiful flowers. That was what her hair-ribbon lady had meant, and that was why she found it hard really to hate people. Hating must always be ugly. To bring beauty into the world, one must bring love into it. Oh, but it would be much harder than transplanting flowers and wearing blue ribbons ! She finished the story, and shyly kissed Aunty Jones when she went to bed. The old lady looked up lovingly. “She is n't so awfully ugly,” thought Deborah, wonderingly, as she went upstairs. “I guess she 's beautiful inside, and it 's shining through. I never noticed. I wonder if I could n't make her something soft and white to wear at her neck. Then she would look like the hairribbon lady.” Even transplanting the beauty of love was n’t so hard when Deborah really tried it. Maybe the blue frock helped along, for it was much more friendly than the old brown ones. Deborah, before she knew it, was having long flower discussions with Mr. Fenton, and a good many of her roots made their way into his garden. She found, too, that Mr. Danvers's head painter was very fond of milk, and she carried him a pitcherful for his lunch every day. When she proposed white muslin curtains for the sitting-room, Aunty Jones was quite ready to agree, and she brought out bags of carpet-rag pieces to start a new rug. Deborah chose all the blue, and while the old
lady peacefully cut and sewed and rolled, her niece read aloud all sorts of books that they both enjoyed. For the first time, the house had a gleam of home in it, because somebody had begun to love it. All the spare time Deborah spent in Mr. Danvers's place. He had been away for a fortnight, and came back to find new little bunches of growing things in all sorts of odd places, and Deborah busy with her seedling zinnias. “You’re a born gardener,” said Mr. Danvers, “but you need more material for this big place. Suppose you had everything you wanted, what would you put in over here?” “Oh,” said Deborah, “I’ve shut my eyes and seen that place over and over; it 's full of dahlias—yellow ones" Mr. Danvers nodded approvingly. “Yes, that 's good. I 'll get some. Now how about over here?” Before the morning was over, Deborah and Mr. Danvers had planned the entire garden. Deborah forgot to be dumb or bashful. She chattered and laughed, and glowed like any other happy, human creature. Presently Mr. Danvers looked at his watch. “My how the time runs away. I don't know when I 've enjoyed a morning more. I have a train to catch now. and I sha’n’t be back till next month. Are you going to oversee all this planting for me? If you will, I 'll give you a percentage for yourself out of the dahlias and all the other things. And now I tell you what I want to do, Miss Deborah. If you have to look up at my place, I have to look down at yours. You have beautified my slopes; now I want to add a little beauty to your house. I have lumber Were I'm not going to use, and I want Fenton to Put a porch along the south side of your house. Will you let him? It will take down the height and will make a pretty little house of it. I want wo do it for my own sake, if you 'll let me.”
Then he ran for his train, and Deborah did not really know whether she had said “No, thank you,” or “Yes, thank you.” But it must have been yes, for the very next morning Mr. Fenton's men began to saw and fit and hammer by the little, dingy house.
Those were exciting days. Boxes of plants and seeds arrived, and there was an experienced
gardener at Mr. Danvers's who lived for nothing but to plant beauty as Deborah ordered it. The porch took on its outline and filled out to completeness. One day the painter whom Deborah had fed with milk handed back the jug with a very grave face. “That there milk seems to have some magic in it,” he said solemnly. “I declare if it ain't turned into white paint; enough to cover your whole house. If you 'll say the word, I 'll smear it over odd times after hours; it 'll be a good-looking little place when it gets whitened up.” “Have n't you got some green cheese around, too?” laughed Mr. Fenton. “I was just thinking I 've got some blinds piled under a lot of rubbish over at the shop that would just fit these little windows. I took 'em off an old house ten years ago. I'll hang 'em if you 'll daub 'em over with green cheese.” “Oh s” cried Deborah. “Everybody is so good. Could I really have blinds 2 Not having them has always made the house look like a person without any eyebrows.” “It 's nothing to put those on,” Mr. Fenton said; “and it 's all the house needs to make it match the garden. My new flowers are doing finely. Why don't you come over and see 'em 2 Don't you ever come to see my girl?" “She would n't want me to,” stammered Deborah. She could not forget how homely Josie thought her. “Of course she 'd want you,” answered Mr. Fenton. “I 'll send her down here to prove it.” “Oh, don't," Deborah wanted to protest, but she did n't. Would she even have to love Josie Fenton P The paint and the blinds were on before Josie came. Debby tried to be cordial and entertaining, but it was Josie who did most of the talking. They discussed the weather and the garden, and all the time Josie was casting little flying glances at Deborah. “Oh, Debby " she exclaimed abruptly at last. “Will you be mad? I 'm just crazy to fix your hair. I never noticed before how thick and soft it is. You could be stunning if you did it right. Come on up-stairs and let me try.” Most unwillingly Deborah led the way to her room and sat down before her dressing-table. “Why, it 's gorgeous !” cried Josie, as Debby's loosened hair flowed over her shoulders. “But you must n't drag it back tight as if you were stuffing a pincushion. It 's got lots of wave in it. There, you must always roll it like that and keep it soft—so. Now where 's your blue ribbon 2 Why, Debby, you ’re lovely Just look '" Confused, yet pleased, Peborah looked in the mirror which had so often reflected her plain face. But what did she see now * A warm flush in the pale cheeks; a happy smile on the discon
tented lips; a friendly look in the downcast eyes; softly waving hair instead of the scalp-tight locks —and all this set off by a blue ribbon and a blue dress that made her eyes look like forget-me-nots. It was n't herself; it could n't be She was so ugly, and this girl was a joy to look at . It was too good to be true. “Don’t you ever dare do it any other way !” said Josie. “There 's Father going home. I 'll catch a ride. Come and see me, Debby.” Debby felt almost too conscious to go down to supper. She stole another glance at herself in the mirror, and smiled at what she saw. “I 'm not ugly,” she thought with a throb of joy. “People won't have to hate looking at me. Something has shined through, but I don't know what it is.” She went out to water her flowers after supper, with the smile still in the corners of her lips, the flush on her cheeks, and the brightness in her eyes. When Fred Dillon walked by, instead of turning her back, Deborah looked up and smiled. It was a friendly smile, born of her new sense of self-assurance. “Hello, Debby" the boy said. “If you 'll invite me in, I'll carry that water-pot for you. My, what a dandy porch you 've got' You 'll have to have a house-warming for that, for sure ''' “So I can " cried Deborah. “I 'll do it just as soon as the moon is full.” “Then I 'm invited, am I ?” “Yes,” said Debby, “only I can't let you pass lemonade if you spill as much as you 're spilling out of that watering-pot.” “They 're wet enough anyhow,” said the boy. “Let 's go sit on the porch and look at how much good we 've done them.” Debby led the way to the porch, her heart beating with a new glad glow of life. It was all so wonderful. Above her, Mr. Danvers's beautiful house stood against the evening sky, and his lawns sloped to her own pretty little home, painted and porched and shuttered, worthy of the garden in which it stood. Fred had come to see her, as he called to see other girls, and she was talking and laughing, and she was n’t homely. Life was full of joy, where a few months ago there had been only heaviness and hopeless loneliness. And she loved everything and everybody. “Loving is the biggest beauty in the world,” Deborah thought. “The really ugly things are just hating and hatefulness. I guess we can put beauty anywhere if we have loving enough.”