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rather than to any of its parts, that we have thus reviewed the broadening tendencies of two of its divisions. As the parties of the church now stand, the common interests of the kingdom of heaven are advanced by the emulous efforts of various parts. The mischiefs and the dead-loss of these "strifes and emulations" might be vastly abated if
there were more who, whatever their special relations to sects and congregations, would hold high, despite all rebukes of zealous brethren, their paramount allegiance to the whole church of Christ, and look with friendly criticism and with apostolic good will "upon the things of others."
Leonard Woolsey Bacon.
A LATE SUPPER.
THE story begins one afternoon in June just after dinner. Miss Catherine Spring was the heroine, and she lived alone in her house, which stood on the long village street in Brookton-up in the country city people would say-a town certainly not famous, but pleasant enough because it was on the outer edge of the mountain region near some great hills. One never hears much about Brookton when one is away from it, but for all that life is as important and exciting there as it is anywhere; and it is like every other town, a miniature world, with its great people and small people, bad people and good people; its jealousy and rivalry, kindness and patient heroism.
Miss Spring had finished her dinner that day, and had washed the few dishes, and put them away. She never could get used to there being so few, because she had been one of a large family. She had put on the gray alpaca dress which she wore afternoons at home, and had taken her sewing, and sat down at one of the front windows in the sitting-room, which was shaded by a green old lilac bush. But she did not sew as if she were much interested in the work, or were in any hurry; and presently she laid it down altogether and tapped on the windowsill with her thimble, looking as if she were lost in not very pleasant thought. She was a very good woman, and a very pleasant woman; a good neighbor all the people would tell you, and they would add also, very comfortably left. But of late she had been somewhat troubled; to tell the truth her money affairs had gone wrong, and just now she did not exactly know what to do.
She felt more solitary than she had for a long time before. Her father, the last of the family except herself, had been dead for many years, and she had been living alone, growing more and more contented in the comfortable, prim white house, after the first sharp grief of her loneliness had worn away into a more resigned and familiar sorrow. It is after all a great satisfaction to do as one pleases.
Now, as I have said, she had lost part of her already small income, and she did not know what to do. The first loss could be borne, but the second seemed to put housekeeping out of the question, and this was a dreadful thing to think of. She knew no other way of living beside having her own house, and her own fashion of doing things. If it had been possible, she would have liked to take some boarders, but summer boarders had not yet found out Brookton. Mr. Elden, the kind old lawyer who was her chief adviser, had told her to put an advertisement in one of the Boston papers, and she had done so; but it never had been answered, which was not only a disappointment but a mortification as well. Her money was not actually lost; it was the failure of a certain railway to pay its dividend, that was making her so much trouble.
Miss Spring tapped her thimble still faster on the window-sill, and thought busily. "I'm going to think it out and settle it this afternoon," said she to herself. "I must settle it some how; I will not live on here any longer as if I could afford it." There was a niece of hers who lived in Lowell, who was married and not at all well. There were three children with nobody in
particular to look after them. Miss Catherine was sure this niece would like nothing better than to have her come to stay with her. She thought with satisfaction how well she could manage there, and how well her housekeeping capabilities would come into play. It had grieved her in her last visit to see the house half cared for, and she remembered the yearning way Mary had said, "How I wish I could have you here all the time, Aunt Catherine!" and at once Aunt Catherine went on to build a little castle in the air, until she had a chilly consciousness that her own house was to be shut up. She compared the attractions of Lowell and Brookton most disdainfully; the dread came over her that most elderly people feel at leaving their familiar homes and the surroundings to which they have grown used. But she bravely faced all this, and resolved to write Mary that evening so the letter could go by the morning's mail. If Mary liked the plan, which Miss Catherine never for an instant doubted, she would stay through the early fall at any rate, and then see what was best to be done.
She took up her sewing again, and looked critically at it through her spectacles, and then went on with her stitching feeling lighter-hearted, now that the question was decided. The tall clock struck three slowly, and she said to herself how fast the last hour had gone. There was a little breeze outside which came rustling through the lilac leaves. The wide street was left to itself; nobody had driven by since she had sat at the window. She heard some children laughing and calling to each other where they were at play in a yard not far away, and smiled in sympathy, for her heart had never grown old. The smell of the roses by the gate came blowing in sweet and fresh, and she could see the great red peonies in generous bloom on the borders each side the front walk. And when she looked round the room it seemed very pleasant to her; the clock ticked steadily, and the old fashioned chairs and the narrow high mirror with the gilt eagle at the top, the stiff faded portraits of her father and mother in their young days, the wide old brass-nailed sofa with its dim worsted
worked cushion at either end-how comfortable it all was! and a great thrill of fondness for the room and the house came over our friend. "I didn't know I cared so much about the old place," said she. "There's no place like home '—I believe I never knew that meant so much before;" and she laid down her sewing again, and fell into a reverie.
In a little while she heard the click of the gate latch, and with the start and curiosity a village woman instinctively feels at the knowledge of somebody's coming in at the front door, she hurried to the other front window to take a look at her visitor through the blinds. It was only a child, and Miss Catherine did not wait for her to rap with the high and heavy knocker, but was standing in the open doorway when the little girl reached the steps.
"Come in dear!" said Miss Catherine kindly, "did you come of an errand?"
"I wanted to ask you something," said the child, following her into the sittingroom and taking the chair next the door with a shy smile that had something appealing about it. "I came to ask you if you want a girl this summer."
"Why no, I never keep help," said Miss Spring. "There is a woman who comes Mondays and Tuesdays, and other days when I need her. Who is it that wants to come?"
"It's only me," said the child, "I'm small of my age but I'm past ten, and I can work real smart about house." A great cloud of disappointment came over her face.
"Whose child are you?"
"I'm Katy Dunning, and I live with my aunt down by Sandy River bridge. Her girl is big enough to help round now, and she said I must find a place. She would keep me if she could," said the little girl in a grown-up old fashioned way, "but times are going to be dreadful hard, and it takes a good deal to keep so many."
"What made you come here?" asked Miss Catherine, whose heart went out toward this hard-worked womanly little thing. It seemed so pitiful that so young a child who ought to be still at play should already
know about hard times, and have begun to fight the battle of life. A year ago she had thought of taking just such a girl to save steps, and for the sake of having somebody in the house, but it never could be more out of the question than now. "What made you come to me?"
"Mr. Rand at the post-office told aunt that perhaps you might want me; he couldn't think of anybody else."
She was such a neat looking, well mended child, and looked Miss Catherine in the face so honestly. She might cry a little after she was outside the gate, but not now.
"I'm really sorry," said Miss Spring, "but you see I'm thinking about shutting my house up this summer." She would not allow to herself that it was for any longer. "But you keep up a good heart. I know a good many folks, and perhaps I can hear of a place for you. I suppose you could mind a baby, could'nt you? -No, you sit still a minute!" as the child thanked her and rose to go away; and she went out to her dining-room closet to a deep jar, and took out two of her best pound cakes, which she made so seldom now, and saved with great care. She put these on a pretty pink and white china plate, and filled a mug with milk. "Here," said she as she came back, "I want you to eat these cakes. You have walked a long ways and it'll do you good. Sit right up to the table, and I'll spread a newspaper over the cloth."
Katy loooked at her with surprise and gratitude. "I'm very much obliged," said she, and her first bite of the cake seemed the most delicious thing she had ever tasted. Yes, I suppose bread and butter would have been quite as good for her, and much less extravagant on Miss Catherine's part; but of all the people who had praised her pound cakes, nobody had so delighted in their goodness, as this hungry little girl, who had hardly ever eaten anything but bread all her days, and not very nice bread at that.
"Don't hurry," said Miss Spring, kindly; "you're a good girl and I wish I could take you: I declare, I do;" and, with a little sigh, she sat down by the window again
and took up the much neglected sewing, looking up now and then at her happy guest. When she saw the mug was empty, and that Katy looked at it wistfully, as she put it down, she took it without a word and went to the shelf in the cellar-way where the cream-pitcher stood, and poured out every drop that was in it, afterward filling the mug to the brim with milk, for her little pitcher did not hold much. "I'll get along one night without cream in my tea,” said she to herself. "That was only skimmilk she had first, and she looks hungry."
"It's real pleasant here," said Katy; "you're so good! Aunt said I could tell you, if you wanted to take me, that I don't hurt my clothes, and I'm careful about the dishes. She thought I wouldn't be a bother. Would you tell the other people? I should be real glad to get a place.”
"I'll tell 'em you're a good girl," said Miss Catherine, "and I'll get you a good home, if I can." For she thought of her niece in Lowell, and how much trouble there was when she was there about getting a careful young girl to take care of the smallest child. Then it occurred to her that Katy was very small herself, and did not look very strong, and Mary might not hear to it; so, after Katy had gone, she began to be sorrowful again, and to wish she had promised less and need not disappoint the little thing.
Another hour had gone, and it was four o'clock now, and in a few minutes she heard a carriage stop at the gate. She heard several voices, and was discouraged for a minute. Three people were coming in, and she was so glad when she saw it was a nephew and his wife from a town a dozen miles away, and a friend with them whom she had often seen at their house. They came in with good-natured chatter and much laughing. They had started out for a drive early after dinner, and had found the weather so pleasant that they had kept on to Brookton.
"I don't know what the folks will think," said they; "we meant to be back right away." "Well," said the niece, "I'm so glad we found you at home, and how well you do look, Aunt Catherine! I declare, you're smarter than any of us.”
"I guess she is," said her nephew, who was a great favorite. "I tell you she's the salt of the earth," and he gave her a most affectionate and resounding great kiss; and then they were all merrier than ever.
"What are you sitting down for without laying off your bonnets?" asked the host ess. "You must stay and get supper before you ride home. I'll have it early, and there's a moon. You take the horse right round into the yard, Joseph; there's some more of that old hay in the barn; you know where to find it ;" and, after some persuasion, the visitors yielded, and settled themselves quietly for the rest of the afternoon. They had said, as they came over, that they were sure Aunt Catherine would ask them to stay until evening, and she always had such good suppers. Miss Stanby had never been at the house before, and only once as far as Brookton, and she seemed very happy. She took care of her step-mother, who was very old and a great deal crosser than there was any need of being. This little excursion would do her a world of good, and luckily her married sister happened to be at home for a day or two's visit, so she did not feel anxious about being away. She was a sharp-faced, harassed-looking little woman, who might have been pretty if she had been richer and less worried and disappointed. She was a pleasant and patient soul, and this drive and visit were more to her than a journey to Boston would be to her companions. They were well-to-do village people, comfortable and happy, and unenvious as it is possible for village people, or any other people, to be.
Miss Spring was a little distracted and a bit formal for a few minutes, while she was thinking what she could get for tea; but that being settled, she gave her whole mind to enjoying the guests. She regretted the absence of the two pound cakes Katy Dunning had eaten, but it was only for an instant. She could make out with new gin gerbread, and no matter if she couldn't! It was all very pleasant and sociable, and they talked together for a while busily, telling the news and asking and answering questions; and, by and by, Joseph took his hat saying that he must go down to the post
office to see Mr. Rand, the storekeeper. Soon after this it was time to get supper. Just as Miss Spring was going out, her niece said, "I had a letter from Lowell yesterday, from Mary."
"How is she now?" Miss Spring meant to talk over her plans a little with Joseph after supper, but was silent enough about them now.
"Her husband's oldest sister is coming to stay all summer with them. She is a widow and has been living out West. It'll be a great help to Mary, and John sets everything by this sister. She is a good deal older than he, and brought him up."
"It is a good thing," said Miss Catherine, emphatically, and with perfect composure. "I have been thinking about Mary lately. I pitied her so when I was there. I have had half a mind to go and stay with her a while myself."
"You might have got sick going to Lowell in hot weather. Shan't I come out and help you, Aunt Catherine?" who said " No indeed;" and went out to the kitchen, and dropped into a chair. "Oh, what am I going to do!" said she; for she never had felt so helpless and hopeless in her life.
The old clock gave its queer little cluck, by way of reminder that in five minutes it would be five o'clock. She had promised to have tea early, so she opened a drawer to take out a big calico apron, and went to work. Her eyes were full of tears. Poor woman; she felt as if she had come face to face with a great wall, but she bravely went to work to make the cream-tartar biscuit. Somehow she couldn't remember how much to take of anything. She was quite confused when she tried to remember the familiar rule. It was silly! She had made them hundreds of times, and was celebrated for her skill. Cream-tartar biscuit and some cold bread, and some preserved plums; or was it citron-melon she meant to have?-and some of that cold meat she had for dinner, for a relish, with a bit of cheese.
She would have felt much more miserable if she had not had to hurry, and after a few minutes, when the first shock of her bad news had been dulled a little, she was herself again; and tea was nearly ready,
the biscuits baking in the oven and some molasses gingerbread beside, when she happened to remember that there was not a drop of cream in the cream-pitcher; she had given it all to poor little Katy. Joseph was very particular about having cream in his tea, so she called her niece Martha to the kitchen and asked her to watch the oven while she went down the road to a neighbor's. She did not stop even to take her sun-bonnet; it was not a great way, and shady under the elms, so away she went with the pitcher. Mrs. Hilton, the neighbor, was a generous soul, and when she heard of the unexpected company, with ready sympathy and interest she said, “Now what did you bring such a mite of a pitcher for? Do take this one of mine. I'd just as soon you'd have the cream as not. I don't calculate to make any butter this week, and it'll be well to have it to eat with your preserves. It's nice and sweet as ever you saw." "I'm sure you are kind," said Miss Spring, and with a word or two more she went hurrying home. As I have said, it was not far, but the railroad came between, and our friend had to cross the track. It seemed very provoking that a long train should be standing across the road. It seemed to be waiting for something; an accident might have happened, for the station was a little distance back.
Miss Catherine waited in great anxiety; she could not afford to waste a minute. She would have to cross an impossible culvert in going around the train either way. She saw some passengers or brakemen walking about on the other side, and with great heroism mounted the high step of the platform with the full intention of going down the other side, when to her horror the train suddenly moved. She screamed "Stop! stop!" but nobody saw her and nobody heard her, and off she went, cream-pitcher and all, without a bit of a bonnet. It was simply awful.
The car behind her was the smoking car, and the one on which she stood happened to be the Pullman. She was dizzy and did not dare to stay where she was, so she opened the door and went in. There was a young lady standing in the passage way
getting a drink of water for some one in a dainty little tumbler, and she looked over her shouldef, thinking Miss Spring was the conductor, to whom she wished to speak, and she smiled, for who could help it?
"I'm carried off," said poor Aunt Catherine, hysterically. "I had company come to tea unexpectedly, and I was all out of cream, and I went out to Mrs. Hilton's, and I was in a great hurry to get back, and there seemed no sign in the world of the cars starting. I wish we never had sold our land for the track! Oh, what shall I do! I'm a mile from home already; they'll be frightened to death, and I wanted to have supper early for them, so they could start for home; it's a long ride. And the biscuit ought to be eaten hot. Dear me! they'll be so worried!"
"I'm very sorry, indeed," said the young lady, who was quivering with laughter in spite of her heartfelt sympathy for such a calamity as this. "I suppose you will have to go on to the next station: is it very far?"
"Half an hour," said Miss Spring, despairingly, "and the down train doesn't get into Brookton until seven; and I haven't a cent of money with me, either. I shall be crazy! I don't see why I didn't get off; but it took all my wits away the minute I found I was going.”
"I'm so glad you didn't get off," said the girl gravely; "you might have been terribly hurt. Won't you come into the com partment just here with my aunt and me? She is an invalid, and selves; you need not see me take your pitcher.” glad to find so kind a emergency, followed her.
we are all by ourany one else. Let And Miss Spring, friend in such an
There were two sofas running the length of the compartment; and on one of these was lying a most kind and refined-looking woman, with gray hair and the sweetest eyes. Poor Aunt Catherine somehow felt comforted at once, and when this new friend looked up wonderingly, and her niece tried to keep from even smiling while she told the story discreetly, she began to laugh at herself heartily.
"I know you want to laugh, dear," said she. "It's ridiculous, only I'm so afraid