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rather than to any of its parts, that we have there were more who, whatever their special
Leonard Woolsey Bacon.
A LATE SUPPER.
The story begins one afternoon in June She felt more solitary than she had for a just after dinner. Miss Catherine Spring long time before. Her father, the last of was the heroine, and she lived alone in her the falnily except herself, had been dead for house, which stood on the long village many years, and she had been living alone, street in Brookton-up in the country city growing more and more contented in the people would say—a town certainly not comfortable, prim white house, after the famous, but pleasant enough because it was first sharp grief of her loneliness had worn on the outer edge of the mountain region away into a more resigned and familiar sornear some great hills. One never hears It is after all a great satisfaction to much about Brookton when one is away do as one pleases. from it, but for all that life is as important Now, as I have said, she had lost part of and exciting there as it is anywhere; and her already small income, and she did not it is like every other town, a miniature know what to do. The first loss could be world, with its great people and small peo- borne, but the second seemed to put houseple, bad people and good people; its jeal- keeping out of the question, and this was ousy and rivalry, kindness and patient a dreadful thing to think of. She knew no heroism.
other way of living beside having her own Miss Spring had finished her dinner that house, and her own fashion of doing things. day, and had washed the few dishes, and If it had been possible, she would have liked put them away. She never could get used to take some boarders, but summer boarders to there being so few, because she had been had not yet found out Brookton. Mr. one of a large family. She had put on the Elden, the kind old lawyer who was her gray alpaca dress which she wore afternoons chief adviser, had told her to put an adverat home, and had taken her sewing, and sat tisement in one of the Boston papers, and down at one of the front windows in the she had done so; but it never had been sitting-room, which was shaded by a green answered, which was not only a disappointold lilac bush. But she did not sew as if ment but a mortification as well. Her she were much interested in the work, or money was not actually lost; it was the were in any hurry; and presently she laid it failure of a certain railway to pay its dividown altogether and tapped on the window- dend, that was making her so much trouble. sill with her thimble, looking as if she were Miss Spring tapped her thimble still lost in not very pleasant thought. She was faster on the window-sill, and thought a very good woman, and a very pleasant busily. “ I'm going to think it out and woman; a good neighbor all the people settle it this afternoon,” said she to herself. would tell you, and they would add also, “I must settle it some how; I will not live very comfortably left. But of late she had
on here any longer as if I could afford it.” been somewhat troubled; to tell the truth There was a niece of hers who lived in her money affairs had gone wrong, and just Lowell, who was married and not at all well. now she did not exactly know what to do. There were three children with nobody in
particular to look after them. Miss Cathe- worked cushion at either end-how com-
with a shy smile that had something appeal-
“ Whose child are you?” and smiled in sympathy, for her heart had " I'm Katy Dunning, and I live with my never grown old. The smell of the roses aunt down by Sandy River bridge. Her by the gate came blowing in sweet and girl is big enough to help round now, and fresh, and she could see the great red she said I must find a place. She would peonies in generous bloom on the borders keep me if she could,” said the little girl each side the front walk. And when she in a grown-up old fashioned way, “but looked round the room it seemed very times are going to be dreadful hard, and it pleasant to her; the clock ticked steadily, takes a good deal to keep so many." and the old fashioned chairs and the nar- “What made you come here?” asked row high mirror with the gilt eagle at the Miss Catherine, whose heart went out totop, the stiff faded portraits of her father ward this hard-worked womanly little thing. and mother in their young days, the wide It seemed so pitiful that so young a child old brass-nailed sofa with its dim worsted- who ought to be still at play should already
know about hard times, and have begun to and took up the much neglected sewing, fight the battle of life. A year ago she had looking up now and then at her happy thought of taking just such a girl to save guest. When she saw the mug was empty, steps, and for the sake of having somebody and that Katy looked at it wistfully, as she in the house, but it never could be more put it down, she took it without a word and out of the question than now. “ What went to the shelf in the cellar-way where made you come to me?"
the cream-pitcher stood, and poured out “ Mr. Rand at the post-office told aunt every drop that was in it, afterward filling that perhaps you might want me; he the mug to the brim with milk, for her litcouldn't think of anybody else.”
tle pitcher did not hold much. “I'll get She was such a neat looking, well mended along one night without cream in my tea,” child, and looked Miss Catherine in the face said she to herself. “That was only skimso honestly. She might cry a little after milk she had first, and she looks hungry.” she was outside the gate, but not now. “ It's real pleasant here,” said Katy;
“I'm really sorry,” said Miss Spring, “ you're so good! Aunt said I could tell “ but you see I'm thinking about shutting you, if you wanted to take me, that I don't my house up this summer.” She would hurt my clothes, and I'm careful about the not allow to herself that it was for any dishes. She thought I wouldn't be a bother. longer. “ But you keep up a good heart. Would you tell the other people? I should I know a good many folks, and perhaps be real glad to get a place." I can hear of a place for you. I
“I'll tell 'em you're a good girl,” said pose you could mind a baby, could'nt you? Miss Catherine, “and I'll get you a good
- No, you sit still a minute!” as the child home, if I can." For she thought of her thanked her and rose to go away; and she niece in Lowell, and how much trouble there went out to her dining-room closet to a was when she was there about getting a caredeep jar, and took out two of her best ful young girl to take care of the smallest pound cakes, which she made so seldom child. Then it occurred to her that Katy now, and saved with great care. She put was very small herself, and did not look these on a pretty pink and white china very strong, and Mary might not hear to it; plate, and filled a mug with milk. “Here,” so, after Katy had gone, she began to be said she as she came back, “ I want you to sorrowful again, and to wish she had promeat these cakes. You have walked a long ised less and need not disappoint the little ways and it'll do you good. Sit right up thing. to the table, and I'll spread a newspaper Another hour had gone, and it was four over the cloth."
o'clock now, and in a few minutes she heard Katy loooked at her with surprise and a carriage stop at the gate. She heard sevgratitude. “I'm very much obliged,” said eral voices, and was discouraged for a minshe, and her first bite of the cake seemed ute. Three people were coming in, and she the most delicious thing she had ever tasted. was so glad when she saw it was a nephew
Yes, I suppose bread and butter would and his wife from a town a dozen miles away, have been quite as good for her, and much and a friend with them whom she had often less extravagant on Miss Catherine's part; seen at their house. They came in with but of all the people who had praised her good-natured chatter and much laughing. pound cakes, nobody had so delighted in They had started out for a drive early after their goodness, as this hungry little girl, dinner, and had found the weather so pleaswho had hardly ever eaten anything but ant that they had kept on to Brookton. bread all her days, and not very nice bread " I don't know what the folks will think," at that.
we meant to be back right “ Don't hurry,” said Miss Spring, kindly; away.” Well,” said the niece, “ I'm so “you're a good girl and I wish I could take glad we found you at home, and how well you: I declare, I do; "and, with a little you do look, Aunt Catherine! I declare, sigh, she sat down by the window again you're smarter than any of us."
“I guess she is,” said her nephew, who office to see Mr. Rand, the storekeeper. was a great favorite. “I tell you she's the Soon after this it was time to get supper. salt of the earth,” and he gave her a most Just as Miss Spring was going out, her affectionate and resounding great kiss; and niece said, “ I had a letter from Lowell then they were all merrier than ever. yesterday, from Mary."
“What are you sitting down for without “ How is she now?” Miss Spring meant laying off your bonnets ? ” asked the host to talk over her plans a little with Joseph
“ You must stay and get supper before after supper, but was silent enough about you ride bome. I'll have it early, and them now. there's a moon.
You take the horse right “Her husband's oldest sister is coming to round into the yard, Joseph ; there's some stay all summer with them. She is a widow more of that old hay in the barn; you know and has been living out West. It'll be a where to find it;” and, after some persua- great help to Mary, and John sets everysion, the visitors yielded, and settled then- thing by this sister. She is a good deal selves quietly for the rest of the afternoon. older than he, and brought him up." They had said, as they came over, that they “ It is a good thing,” said Miss Catherine, were sure Aunt Catherine would a-k them to emphatically, and with perfect composure. stay until evening, and she always had such “ I have been thinking about Mary lately. good suppers. Miss Stanby had never been I pitied her so when I was there. I have at the house before, and only once as far as had half a mind to go and stay with her Brookton, and she seemed very happy. She a while myself.” took care of her step-mother, who was very “ You might have got sick going to Lowell old and a great deal crosser than there was in hot weather. Shan't I come out and help any need of being. This little excursion you, Aunt Catherine ?” who said “No inwould do her a world of good, and luckily deed ;” and went out to the kitchen, and her married sister happened to be at home dropped into a chair. “Oh, what am I for a day or two's visit, so she did not feel going to do !” said she; for she never had anxious about being away. She was a felt so helpless and hopeless in her life. sharp-faced, harassed-looking little woman, The old clock gave its queer little cluck, who might have been pretty if she had been by way of reminder that in five minutes it richer and less worried and disappointed. would be five o'clock. She had promised to She was a pleasant and patient soul, and have tea early, so she opened a drawer to this drive and visit were more to her than a take out a big calico apron, and went to journey to Boston would be to her compan- work. Her eyes were full of tears. Poor ions. They were well-to-do village people, woman; she felt as if she had come face to comfortable and happy, and unenvious as it face with a great wall, but she bravely went is possible for village people, or any other to work to make the cream-tartar biscuit. people, to be.
Somehow she couldn't remember how much Miss Spring was a little distracted and a to take of anything. She was quite confused bit formal for a few minutes, while she was when she tried to remember the familiar thinking what she could get for tea; but rule. It was silly! She had made them that being settled, she gave her.whole mind hundreds of times, and was celebrated for to enjoying the guests. She regretted the her skill. Cream-tartar biscuit and some absence of the two pound cakes Katy Dun- cold bread, and some preserved plums; or ning had eaten, but it was only for an in- was it citron-melon she meant to have ?-and stant. She could make out with new gin. some of that cold meat she had for dinner, gerbread, and no matter if she couldn't! It for a relish, with a bit of cheese. was all very pleasant and sociable, and they She would have felt much more miseratalked together for a while busily, telling ble if she had not had to hurry, and after a the news and asking and answering ques- few minutes, when the first shock of her tions; and, by and by, Joseph took his hat bad news had been dulled a little, she was saying that he must go down to the poste herself again; and tea was nearly ready,
the biscuits baking in the oven and some getting a drink of water for some one in a molasses gingerbread beside, when she hap. dainty little tumbler, and she looked over pened to remember that there was not a her shouldef, thinking Miss Spring was the drop of cream in the cream-pitcher; she had conductor, to whom she wished to speak, given it all to poor little Katy. Joseph was and she smiled, for who could help it? very particular about having cream in his “ I'm carried off,” said poor Aunt Cathtea, so she called her niece Martha to the erine, hysterically. “I had company come kitchen and asked her to watch the oven to tea unexpectedly, and I was all out of while she went down the road to a neigh- cream, and I went out to Mrs. Hilton's, and bor's. She did not stop even to take her I was in a great hurry to get back, and sun-bonnet; it was not a great way, and there seemed no sign in the world of the shady under the elms, so away she went cars starting. I wish we never had sold with the pitcher. Mrs. Hilton, the neigh- our land for the track! Oh, what shall I bor, was a generous soul, and when she do! I'm a mile from home already; they'll heard of the unexpected company, with be frightened to death, and I wanted to ready sympathy and interest she said, “Now have supper early for them, so they could what did you bring such a mite of a pitcher start for home; it's a long ride. And the for? Do take this one of mine. I'd just as biscuit ought to be eaten hot. Dear me ! soon you'd have the cream as not. I don't they'll be so worried !” calculate to make any butter this week, and “ I'm very sorry, indeed," said the
young it'll be well to have it to eat with your pre- lady, who was quivering with laughter in serves. It's nice and sweet as ever you saw.” spite of her heartfelt sympathy for such a “ I'm sure you are kind,” said Miss calamity as this. “I
suppose you will have Spring, and with a word or two more she to go on to the next station: is it very far?” went hurrying home. As I have said, it “ Half an hour,” said Miss Spring, dewas not far, but the railroad came between, spairingly, “and the down train doesn't get and our friend had to cross the track. It into Brookton until seven; and I haven't a seemed very provoking that a long train cent of money with me, either. I shall be should be standing across the road. It crazy! I don't see why I didn't get off; but seemed to be waiting for something; an ac- it took all my wits away the minute I found cident might have happened, for the station I was going.” was a little distance back.
“ I'm so glad you didn't get off," said the Miss Catherine waited in great anxiety; girl gravely; "you might have been terrishe could not afford to waste a minute. She bly hurt. Won't you come into the comwould have to cross an impossible culvert partment just here with my aunt and me? in going around the train either way. She She is an invalid, and we are all by oursaw some passengers or brakemen walking selves; you need not see any one else. Let about on the other side, and with great me take your pitcher.” And Miss Spring, heroism mounted the high step of the plat- glad to find so kind a friend in such an form with the full intention of going down emergency, followed her. the other side, when to her horror the train There were two sofas running the length suddenly moved. She screamed “ Stop! of the compartment; and on one of these was stop!” but nobody saw her and nobody lying a most kind and refined-looking woheard her, and off she went, cream-pitcher man, with gray hair and the sweetest eyes. and all, without a bit of a bonnet. It was Poor Aunt Catherine somehow felt comfortsimply awful.
ed at once, and when this new friend looked The car behind her was the smoking car, up wonderingly, and her niece tried to keep and the one on which she stood happened from even smiling while she told the story to be the Pullman. She was dizzy and did discreetly, she began to laugh at herself not dare to stay where she was, so she heartily. opened the door and went in. There was a “I know you want to laugh, dear,” said young lady standing in the passage way she. “ It's ridiculous, only I'm so afraid