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they'll be worried about me at home. If next station, and after paying him gave as anybody had only seen me as I rode off, much money to Miss Spring, who took it and could tell them!”
reluctantly, though there was nothing else Miss Ashton had not laughed so much in to be done. a long time; the fun of the thing overshad- “ I'm sure I don't know how to thank owed the misery, and they were all very you,” said she, “ but you must tell me how merry for a few minutes. There was some- to direct to you and I will send the money thing straightforward and homelike and back to-morrow.” pleasant in Miss Catherine's face, and the “ No, indeed !” said the girl; but Miss other travelers liked her at once, as she did Spring looked unhappy, and Miss Ashton them. They were going to a town nearer with truer kindness gave her the direction, the mountains, for the summer. Miss Ash- saying: ton was just getting over a severe illness, “ Please tell us how you found your and they asked about the place to which friends at home, because Alice and I will they were bound; but Miss Spring could wish very much to know what they thought.” tell them little about it.
“You have been so kind, I sha'n't forget “The country is beautiful around here, it,” said Miss Catherine, with a little shake isn't it?” said Alice West, when there was in her voice that was not made by the cars. a pause: the shadows were growing long, Alice had taken from her traveling bag a and the sun was almost ready to go down little white hood which she had seen in a among the hills.
“ Brookton! didn't you drawer that morning after her trunk was notice an advertisement of some one who locked and strapped, and had put it over wanted boarders there, aunty? You thought Miss Catherine's head. It was very becomit was hardly near enough to the mountains, ing, and it did not look at all unsuitable didn't you ? but this is beautiful.”
for an elderly woman to wear in the evening, “Why, that was my notice,” said Miss just from one station to the next. And she Spring, and then she stopped and flushed a was going to wrap the cream-pitcher in little. I believe if she had thought a mo- some paper when Miss Catherine said softly: ment she would not have spoken; and Miss “Does your aunty care anything about Ashton saw the hesitation and the flush. cream?”
“ I wish I were going to spend the sum- “ She likes it dearly,” said the girl, lookmer with you,” said she, by and by, in her ing so much pleased “I had half a mind frank, pleasant way; and Miss Catherine to ask you if you could spare just a little;” said, “I wish you were," and sighed quietly; and Miss Ashton's little tumbler was at she felt wonderfully at home with these once delightedly filled to the very brim. strangers, and in spite of her annoyance Its owner said she had not tasted anywhen she thought of her guests, she was thing so delicious in a long time, and would enjoying herself. “I live all alone,” she not Miss Spring take some little biscuit and said once, in speaking of something else; some grapes to eat while she 'waited in the and if she had been alone with Miss Ashton station ? Yes, indeed, they had more than I think she would have told her something they wanted, and she must not forget it was of her troubles, of which we know her heart tea-time already. Alice would wrap some was very full. Everybody found it easy to up for her in a paper. talk to Miss Ashton, but there was the And at last they shook hands most cordi. niece; and Miss Catherine, like most elderly ally and were so sorry to say good-bye. women of strong character who live alone, “I never shall forget your kindness as was used to keeping her affairs to herself, long as I live," said Miss Catherine; and and felt a certain pride in being uncom- Alice helped her off the car and nodded municative.
good-bye as it started. When the conductor looked in, with sur- “I wish with all my heart we could board prise at seeing the new passenger, Alice with that dear good soul this summer," said West asked him the fare to Hillsfield, the Miss Ashton, “ and I believe she has been
dreadfully grieved because her advertise- house, and nobody said much, and the tall ment was not answered; perhaps it may be clock ticked louder and louder, and Joseph yet. She looked sad and worried, and it began to whistle and drum with his fingers, was something besides this mishap. What meaning to show his unconcern but in reala kind face she had! I wish we knew more ity betraying the opposite feeling. about her. I'm so glad we happened to be “You don't suppose she's sick, do you ?” right here, and that she didn't have to go asked Miss Stanby, timidly. into the car."
" More likely somebody else is,” said Mr. “Yes,” said Alice; “but, aunty, I think Spring. “ Did you say she had gone over it was the funniest thing I ever saw in my to Mrs. Hilton's, Martha ? I'll walk down life, when she appeared to me with that there and see what the matter is.” horror-stricken face and her cream-pitcher.” “I wish you would,” said his wife. “It's
And Miss Catherine, as she seated herself after six o'clock.” in the little station to wait for the down “ Hasn't got home yet !” said Mrs. Hiltrain, said to herself : “God bless them! ton, in dismay. “Why, what can have how good they were! How I should have become of her? She came in before halfhated to go into the car with all the people, past five, in a great hurry, and she left her and be stared at and made fun of. They pitcher here on the table. I suppose she have been so courteous and simple and kind; forgot it. I lent her mine, because it was why are there not more such people in the bigger. There's no house between but the world ?” And she thought about them, Donalds', and they're all off at his mother's and ate her crackers and the hot-house funeral to Lancaster. You don't suppose grapes, and was very comfortable. It might the cars run over her?” have been such a disagreeable experience, “ I don't know," said Miss Spring's nephyet she had really enjoyed herself. It did ew, in real trouble by this time. not seemn long before she again took her Thy went out together and looked everyseat in the cars, with the cream-pitcher where along the road, apologizing to each respectably disguised in white paper, and other as they did so. They went up and herself looking well enough in the soft little down the railroad for some little distance, white hood, with its corner just in the mid- and it was a great relief not to find her dle of her gray hair over her forehead. She there. Joseph asked some men if they had paid her fare as if her pocket were full of seen his aunt, and when they said no, wonmoney, and watched the other people in the deringly, and expected an explanation, he car; and by the time she reached home she did not give it, he hardly knew why. They was her own composed and reliable self went to the house beyond Miss Catherine's, again.
though Martha and Miss Stanby were sure There had been a great excitement at her she had not gone by. They looked in the house. The biscuit were done and the gin- barn, even; they went out in the garden gerbread, and the niece took them out of and through the house, for she might possithe oven and thought her aunt was gone a bly have come in without being seen, but good while—and went back to the sitting- she had apparently disappeared from the
After a few minutes she went to face of the earth. the front gate to look down the street. It had seemed foolish at first to tell the Miss Stanby joined her, and they stood neighbors; but by seven o'clock, or nearly watching until Joseph Spring came hurrying that, Martha Spring said, decisively: "She back, thinking he was late, and ready with cannot have gone far unless she has been his apologies, when they told him how long carried off. I think you had better get Miss Catherine bad been gone.
some men and have a regular hunt for her “She's stopped for something or other; before it gets any darker. I'm not going they're always asking her opinion abont home to-night until we find her;” and they things," said he, carelessly. “ She will be owned to each other that it was a very along soon.” And then they went into the serious and frightful thing. Miss Stanby
looked most concerned and apprehensive of they went home, later that evening. “I the three, and suggested what had been declare, it took the starch right out of uppermost in her mind all the time—that it me.” would be so awful if poor Miss Spring had Miss Catherine looked brighter than she been murdered, or could she have killed had that afternoon; the excitement really herself? There was something so unchar. had done her good; she told her adventure acteristic in the idea of Miss Catherine's as they hurried home together. When they committing suicide that for a moment her reached the house Martha Spring and Miss nephew could not resist a smile, but he was Stanby kissed her and cried as if their grave enough again directly, for it might hearts would break. Joseph looked out of be true, after all, and he remembered with the window a few minutes, and then an. a thrill of horror that old Mr. Elden, the nounced that he would go out and see to lawyer, had told him in confidence that the horse. Miss Spring was somewhat pinched for The tears were soon over with, and as soon money; that her affairs were in rather a bad as it seemed decent, Mrs. Martha said, “Aunt way, and perhaps he had better talk with Catherine, do tell me where you got that her, as he himself did not like to have all pretty hood. I wish I had seen it when I the responsibility of advising her.
first got here, to take the pattern. Isn't it “ Poor old lady!” thought Joseph Spring, a new stitch ?” who was a tender-hearted man. “ She look- “Dear me! haven't I taken it off?” said ed to-day as if she felt bad about something. Miss Catherine; “ well you must excuse me She has grown old this last year, that's a if I am scatter-witted. I feel as if I had fact!” It seemed to him as if she were in been gone a week.” truth dead already. “You had better look They had supper directly--that very late
— all over the house,” said he to his wife. supper!-they were all as hungry as hunt“ Did
you look in the garret ?” He remem- ers, even poor little Miss Stanby, and the bered the story that his great-grandfather reaction from such suspense inade the guests had been found hanging there, and could merry enough; while, as was often said, not have gone to the garret himself to save Miss Catherine was always good company. his life.
The cream-tartar biscuits were none the less He went hurrying out of the house, de. good for being cold. Joseph hadn't eaten termined now to make the disappearanc
nce such gingerbread since he was there before, public; he would go to the depot; there and the tea was made fresh over a dry-shinwere always some men there at this time. gle fire, which blazes in a minute as every The church bell began to ring for Wednes- one knows. There were more than enough day evening meeting, and she had always pound cakes, and Martha asked all over gone so regularly; he would hurry back again how Miss Catherine made her prethere and tell the people as they came. The serves, for somehow hers were never so train went by slowly to stop at the station ; good; while Miss Catherine meekly said it was a little behind time. He hurried that she had not had such good luck as on, looking down as he walked ; to tell the usual with the last she made. truth, he was thinking about the funeral, At last they drove off down the road. and suddenly he heard a familiar voice The moon had come up and was shining say:
through the trees; it was so cool and fresh "Well, Joseph ! I suppose you thought I and bright an evening, with a little yellow was lost!”
light still lingering in the west after the “ Heavens and earth, Aunt Catherine! sunset. The guests went away very happy where have you been?” And he caught her and light-hearted, for it seemed as if they by the shoulder and felt suddenly like cry- had been spared a terrible sorrow. ing and laughing together. “I never had “I saw the prettiest little table up in the anything come over me so in all my life,” garret," said Mrs. Martha. “It only needs said he to his wife and Miss Stanby, as fixing up a little. I mean to ask your Aunt
Catherine if I can't have it when I go over til we had seen them. It is a very damp again."
house, and I am sure my aunt ought not to “ No you wont,” said her husband with stay, and would be uncomfortable in many more authority than was usual with him. ways. We should like two rooms close to
Miss Catherine stood watching at the each other, and we were each to pay ten gate until they were out of sight. “I must dollars a week here, but are perfectly will. settle down," said she. “I feel as if it had ing to pay more than that. We are almost been a wedding or a funeral or something; certain that we shall like your house, but and I declare if it isn't Wednesday evening perhaps it will be the better way for me to and what will they think has become of me come down and see you, and then I can at meeting ?” though she could have trusted make all the arrangements. If Brookton Mrs. Hilton to spread the story far and suits aunty, we may want to stay as late as wide-by which you must not suppose that October, and should you mind if one of my good Mrs. Hilton was a naughty gossip. friends comes to stay with us by and by ?
The next morning Miss Catherine waked She would share my room. If you will up even more heavy-hearted than she had write me to-morrow morning, and if you been the day before. I suppose she was think you can take us, I will go down in tired after the unusual excitement. She the early afternoon train. wished she had talked to Joseph; she must “We hope you reached home all right, talk with somebody. She wished she had and that your friends were not much wornot been such a fool as to get on those cars, ried. We begin to think that your advenfor she was sure she never should hear the ture was a fortunate thing for us. With last of the joke; and after the morning kind regards from us both, work was done, she sat down in the sitting- Yours sincerely, ALICE WEST. room with the clock ticking n.ockingly, and that intolerable feeling of despair and dis- Did you ever know anything more fortugust came over her; there is nothing much nate than this ? Poor Miss Catherine sat harder to bear than that; if you know what down and cried about it; and the cat came it is I am sure you will pity her.
and rubbed against her foot and purred The afternoon seemed very long. It sympathizingly, and was taken up and wept rained, and nobody came in until the even- over, which I believe had never happened ing, when Mrs. Hilton's boy came with a to her before. Of all people, who could be letter. Miss Catherine had been to the pleasanter boarders than these? They had post-office just before dinner, to send the won her heart in the half hour she had almoney to Miss Ashton, and this surprised ready spent with them. She had wished her very much. “It must have come by then, that they were coming to her; it the seven o'clock train,” said she. “I never would be such a pleasure to make them get letters from that way;” and she took it comfortable. And twenty dollars a weekto the window and looked curiously at the that would surely be more than enough for address, and at last she opened it. It was them all to live upon with what she had bea pretty letter to look at, and it proved to side. And there was Katy, who could save be a pleasant one to read. It was from so many steps and could wait on Miss AshAlice West, Miss Ashton's niece; and Miss ton; she would have the child come at once. Catherine read it slowly and felt as if
She could have Mrs. Brown come every day were in a dream.
for a while, beside Mondays and Tuesdays,
and how glad she would be of the extra pay. “My Dear Miss SPRING :
Miss Catherine even went up stairs in the “My aunt, Miss Ashton, wishes me to late June twilight to look at the two familwrite to you, to ask if it would be conven- iar front chambers, with only the small ient for you to take us to board. We are square hall separating them. They looked very much disappointed here, and are glad so pleasant and were so airy and of such we did not positively engage our rooms un- good size, they could not help being suited;
she patted the pillow of her best bed affec- going wrong, that it was a series of mistionately, and thought with pride, that they takes. “I never will be so miserable again,” would find no fault with her way of cook- said she. “It was all ordered for the best, ing. And her house never was damp; and may the Lord forgive me for doubting there was not a better house in Brookton. His care and goodness as I did that day.” Life had rarely looked brighter to Miss It went straight to her heart the next SunCatherine than it did that night.
day when the old minister said in his serAlice West came down the next after- mon : Dear friends, do not let us forget noon, and found the house and the rooms what the Psalmist says: that the steps of a and Miss Catherine herself were all exactly good man are ordered by the Lord. He what wise Miss Ashton had said they would plans the way we go; and so let us always be. And the two boarders thought them- try to see what He means in sending us this selves lucky to have found such a pleas- way or that. Do not let us go astray from ant house for the summer; they were so willfulness, or blame Him for the work He considerate, and became favorites with gives us to do, or the burdens he gives us to many people besides their hostess. They carry, since he knows best.” brought a great deal of pleasure and good- So often, in looking back, we find that will to sober little Brookton, as two culti- what seemed the unluckiest day of the week vated, thoughtful, helpful women may make really proved most fortunate, and what we any place pleasanter if they choose. Miss called bad luck proved just the other thing. Ashton is a help and a comfort and a pleas- We trace out the good results of what we ure wherever she goes, while Alice West is thought must make everything go wrong; learning to be like her more and more every we say, “If it had not been for this or that, year. Miss Catherine remembered some- I should have missed and lost so much.” I times with great thankfulness that it was once happened to open a book of sermons the loss of her money for a while, that had and to see the title of one: “Every Man's brought her these friends. Katy Dunning Life a Plan of God.” I did not read the was so happy to go to live at Miss Spring's sermon itself and have never seen the book after all, and did her very best--a patient, again, but I have thought of it a great steady, willing little creature she was! And many times. Since it is true that our lives I am sure she never had had so many good are planned with the greatest love and wistimes in her life as she did that summer. dom, must it not be that our sorrows and
I might tell you so much more about hindrances come just from our taking these people, but a story must end some things wrong? where. You may hope that Miss Cathe- And here, for the last of the story, is a rine's fortunes bettered, and that she never verse that Robert Browning wrote, that will have to give up her home; that she can Miss Ashton said one morning, and Miss keep Katy all the time; that Miss Ashton Catherine liked: will come back to Brookton the next year, and the next.
“Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be, I am sure you will think in reading all the last of life, for which the first was made: this, just what I have thought as I told it, Our times are in His hand and what Miss Catherine herself felt that
Who saith, 'A whole I planned;'
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be it was such a wonderfully linked together
afraid!” chain. All the time she thought she was
Sarah 0. Jewett.