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Title: Mildred's Inheritance - Just Her Way; Ann's Own Way
Author: Johnston, Annie F. (Annie Fellows), 1863-1931
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mildred's Inheritance - Just Her Way; Ann's Own Way" ***

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by The Kentuckiana Digital Library)



  MILDRED'S

  INHERITANCE


  [Illustration]


  ANNIE FELLOWS
  JOHNSTON


  COSEY CORNER SERIES



  MILDRED'S INHERITANCE

          ----

      JUST HER WAY

          ----

      ANN'S OWN WAY



  Works of

  Annie Fellows Johnston

         *       *       *       *       *

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  L.C. PAGE & COMPANY
  200 Summer Street       Boston, Mass.



  [Illustration: "THREE PRETTY COLLEGE GIRLS LEANED OVER THE RAILING OF
  THE UPPER DECK." (_See page_ 1).]



  Cosy Corner Series


  MILDRED'S
  INHERITANCE

  JUST HER WAY

  ANN'S OWN WAY


  By

  Annie Fellows Johnston

  Author of "The Little Colonel" Series, "Big Brother,"
  "The Story of Dago," "Joel: A Boy of Galilee," etc.

  _Illustrated by_

  Diantha W. Horne

  [Illustration]

  _Boston_
  _L.C. Page & Company_
  1906

  _Copyright, 1899_
  BY THE TRUSTEES OF THE PRESBYTERIAN BOARD OF
  PUBLICATION AND SABBATH-SCHOOL WORK

  _Copyright, 1906_
  BY L.C. PAGE & COMPANY
  (INCORPORATED)

  _All rights reserved_

  First Impression, May, 1906

  _COLONIAL PRESS_
  _Electrotyped and Printed by C.H. Simonds & Co._
  _Boston, U.S.A._

  [Illustration]



  CONTENTS

                                                     PAGE

  MILDRED'S INHERITANCE                                1

  JUST HER WAY                                        27

  ANN'S OWN WAY                                       55


  [Illustration]



  ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                     PAGE

  "THREE PRETTY COLLEGE GIRLS LEANED OVER
   THE RAILING OF THE UPPER DECK" (_See Page_ 1) _Frontispiece_

  "BEFORE THE DAY WAS OVER THE TWO WERE
   TALKING TOGETHER LIKE OLD FRIENDS"                  5

  "SAT DOWN ON THE BATTERED LITTLE BOX TO
   WAIT"                                              11

  "SHE READ THAT POOR MUFFIT HAD OVERTAXED
   HER EYES"                                          21

  "THE PASSING OF THE VILLAGE OMNIBUS WAS
   AN EXCITING EVENT"                                 29

  "SHE AND MISS BARBARA PORED OVER A MAP
   OF WASHINGTON"                                     42

  "'I WISH DAISY AVERY COULD SEE HER NOW,'
   SHE MUTTERED, SAVAGELY"                            47

  "SAT PERCHED AMONG ITS GUARDED BRANCHES"            56

  "IT WAS THE BOX THAT HELD THE GREEN KID
   SHOES"                                             63

  "ANN FOLLOWED GINGERLY IN THEIR WAKE"               69



MILDRED'S INHERITANCE


As the good ship _Majestic_ went steaming away from the Irish coast, one
sunny September morning, three pretty college girls leaned over the
railing of the upper deck, watching the steerage passengers below. With
faces turned to the shore which they might never see again, the
lusty-throated emigrants were sending their song of "Farewell to Erin"
floating mournfully back across the water.

"Oh, look at that poor old grandmother!" exclaimed one of the girls.
"There; that one sitting on a coil of rope with a shawl over her gray
head. The pitiful way she looks back to land would make me homesick,
too, if I were not already on my way home, with all my family on board,
and all the fun of the sophomore year ahead of me. Let's go down to the
other end of the deck, where it is more cheerful."

They moved away in friendly, schoolgirl fashion, arm in arm, intent
only on finding as much enjoyment as possible in every moment of this
ocean voyage. A young English girl, dressed in deep mourning, who had
been standing near them, followed them with a wistful glance; then she
turned to look over the railing again at the old woman on the coil of
rope.

"I wish that I could change places with her," thought the girl. "She is
so old that she cannot have many homesick years in store, while I--left
alone in the world at seventeen, and maybe never to see dear old England
again--" The thought brought such an overwhelming sense of desolation
that she could not control her tears. Drawing her heavy black veil over
her face, she hurriedly made her way to her deck-chair, and sank down to
sob unseen, under cover of its protecting rugs and cushions.

This was the first time that Mildred Stanhope had ever been outside of
the village where she was born. The only child of an English clergyman,
the walls of the rectory garden had been the boundary of her little
world. She could not remember her mother, but with her father for
teacher, playmate, and constant companion, her life had been complete in
its happiness.

If the violets blooming within the protecting walls of the old rectory
garden had suddenly been torn up by the roots and thrown into the
street, the change in their surroundings could have been no greater than
that which came to Mildred in the first shock of her father's death. She
had been like one in a confused dream ever since. Some one had answered
the letter from her mother's brother in America, offering her a home.
Some one had engaged her passage, and an old friend of her father's had
taken her to Liverpool and put her on board the steamer. Here she sat
for the first three days, staring out at the sea, with eyes which saw
nothing of its changing beauty, but always only a daisy-covered mound in
a little churchyard. All the happiness and hope that her life had, ended
in that.

"Who is the pretty little English girl?" people asked when they passed
her. "She doesn't seem to have an acquaintance on board."

"I never saw such a sad, hopeless face!" exclaimed one of the college
girls whom the others called "Muffit." "If she were an American girl I'd
ask her to walk with us. But English girls are so reserved and shy, and
I am afraid it would frighten her."

If Muffit could have known, that cold, reserved manner hid a heart
hungry for one friendly word. It was the third day out before any one
spoke to her. She had been warned against making the acquaintance of
strangers, but one look at the gentle-voiced, white-haired lady who took
the chair next her own, disarmed every suspicion. The lady was dressed
in deep mourning, like herself, and she had a sweet, motherly face that
drew Mildred irresistibly to her. Before the day was over the two were
talking together like old friends. When she saw how the girl grieved for
her father, she tried to draw her away from her sorrow by questioning
her about her future.

[Illustration: "BEFORE THE DAY WAS OVER THE TWO WERE TALKING TOGETHER
LIKE OLD FRIENDS."]

Mildred answered with a shiver. "Oh, I try not to think about that at
all. I have never seen Uncle Joe or any of his family, and everything
must be so strange and queer in America. Now, if they lived in India I
would not dread going half so much; for there would be something
homelike in feeling that I was still under the protection of our queen.
I cannot bear to think of leaving the ship, for it will be like
leaving the last bit of home, to step from under the dear old Union
Jack. 'A stranger in a strange land,'" she added, her lips quivering.

"No, dear, not as strange as you think," added the lady, with a motherly
hand-clasp. "Don't you know that one corner of our country is called New
England, in loving remembrance of the old; that your blood flows in our
veins regardless of dividing seas, and gives us the same heritage of
that proud past which you hold dear? Don't you know that thousands of us
go back every year, like children of the old homestead, drawn by all
those countless threads of song and story, of common interests and aims
and relationships that have kept the two nations woven together in the
woof of one great family?

"Let me tell you a bit of personal sentiment that links me to the old
town of Chester on the River Dee. There is a house there that, until
recently, was in the possession of my husband's family for nobody knows
how many generations. Thousands of travellers go every year to see the
inscription over its door. Once, over two hundred years ago, an awful
plague swept the town, and every family in it lost one or more of its
household. Only this one house was spared, and in grateful memory of
its escape there was carved over the door the inscription:

     "'GOD'S PROVIDENCE IS MINE INHERITANCE.'

"That became the family motto, and it is engraved here in my
wedding-ring. The beautiful thought has helped me over many times of
perplexity and sorrow, and has become the inspiration of my life.
Because we can trace it back to that place, I have grown to love every
stone in the quaint old streets of Chester."

She sat twisting the plain gold circlet on her finger for a moment, and
then added thoughtfully: "In the light of her history America might well
set that inscription over her own door: 'God's providence is mine
inheritance.' It would be none the less appropriate because it reaches
back past the struggling colonists and past the _Mayflower_ to find the
roots of that faith in the mother country, in a little English town
beside the Dee.

"No, my dear," she exclaimed, looking up at Mildred; "it is not a land
of strangers you are going to. We sing 'America' and you sing 'God Save
the Queen,' and we both feel sometimes that there is a vast difference
between the songs. But they are set to the same tune, you know, and to
alien ears, who cannot understand our tongue or our temperament, they
must sound alike."

Life seemed very different to Mildred when she went to her stateroom
that night, and her cheery companion inspired her with so much hope
before the voyage was over that she began to look forward to landing
with some degree of interest. How much of her new-found courage was due
to the presence of her helpful counsellor Mildred did not realize until
she came to the parting. They were standing at the foot of the gangplank
in the New York custom-house.

"I am sorry that I cannot stay to see you safe in your uncle's care,"
the lady said, "but my son tells me there is barely time to catch the
next train to Boston. Good-bye, my child. If you get lonely and
discouraged, think of the motto in my wedding-ring, and take it for your
own."

The next instant Mildred felt, with a terrible sinking of the heart,
that she was all alone in the great, strange, new world.

Following the directions in her uncle's letter, she pushed her way
through the crowds until she came to the section marked "S," where he
was to meet her. There was no one in sight who bore any resemblance to
the description he had written of himself. She stood there until her
trunk was brought up, and then sat down on the battered little box to
wait.

An hour went by, and she began to look around with frightened, nervous
glances. A half-hour more passed. The crowds had diminished, for the
officials were making their custom-house examinations as rapidly as
possible. All around her the sections were being emptied, and the
baggage wheeled off in big trucks. The newsboys and telegraph agents had
all gone. A great fear fell suddenly upon her that her uncle was never
coming, and that she would soon be left entirely alone in this barnlike,
cavernous custom-house, with its bare walls and dusty floors; and night
was coming on, and she had nowhere to go.

She was groping in her pocket for a handkerchief to stop the tears that
would come, despite her brave efforts to wink them back, when some one
spoke to her. It was the pretty college girl whom the others had
called Muffit.

[Illustration: "SAT DOWN ON THE BATTERED LITTLE BOX TO WAIT."]

"Are you having trouble with your baggage too?" she asked, kindly. "One
of our trunks was misplaced, and they would not examine anything until
it was found. It is here at last, thank fortune, so that we shall not be
delayed much longer. Mamma and I have noticed you waiting here, and
wondered if you were in the same predicament. Papa says that he will be
so glad to help you in any way he can, if you need his assistance." She
did not add that her mother had said, "I can't go away with any peace of
mind until I see that child safe in somebody's hands."

"There is some dreadful mistake!" sobbed Mildred. "My uncle was to meet
me here, and I do not know what to do!" She buried her face in her
handkerchief, and the next minute "Muffit's" mother had her arms around
her. Then she found that the girl's name was not Muffit, but Mildred,
like her own, Mildred Rowland.

When Mildred Stanhope told Mrs. Rowland her name, that motherly woman
exclaimed, "Oh, Edward! What if it were our daughter left in such a
trying position! She shall just come to the hotel with us and stay until
we hear from her uncle. Wasn't it fortunate that that old trunk delayed
us so long! We might have hurried off and never known anything about
you. Well, it's all right now. Mr. Rowland shall telegraph to your
uncle, and we will keep you with us until he comes."

The next two days were full of strange experiences to Mildred. The rush
and roar of the great city, the life in the palatial hotel, with its
seeming miles of corridors and hundreds of servants, bewildered her. In
response to Mr. Rowland's telegram the reply came: "Joseph Barnard died
last Wednesday. Call for letter Blank Hotel." The message was signed
Derrick Jaynes. The letter, which was brought up an hour later, bore the
same signature. It had been written at the request of Mrs. Barnard by
her minister. It told Mildred of her uncle's sudden death, occurring the
day that she left Liverpool, and had been sent to the hotel to which Mr.
Barnard had intended to take his niece, Mrs. Barnard supposing that her
husband had given Mildred that address in case of any slip in making
connections.

The kindly old minister seemed to realize the unhappy position in which
the young girl was placed, and gave minute directions regarding the
journey she would have to take alone, while Mr. Rowland arranged for her
comfort in the same fatherly way he would have done for his own Mildred.
"What would I have done without you?" she exclaimed, in a choking voice,
as she clung to Mrs. Rowland at parting. "Now I shall be adrift again,
all alone in the world, as soon as you unclasp your hand."

"No, Providence will take care of you, dear," answered Mrs. Rowland.
"Just keep thinking of that motto you told me about, and let us hear
from you when you are safe in Carlsville."

       *       *       *       *       *

Easter had always come to Mildred with the freshness of country meadows,
with cowslips and crocuses, with the soft green of budding hedgerows and
a chorus of twittering bird-calls in the old rectory garden. This year,
after her long, dreary winter in Carlsville, she looked out on the roofs
of the smoky little manufacturing town, and saw only red brick factories
and dingy houses and dirty streets. The longing for the spring in her
old English home lay in her heart like a throbbing pain. "Oh, papa," she
sobbed, resting her arms on the window-sill and laying her head wearily
down, "do you know all about it, dearest? Oh, if you could only tell me
what to do!"

A week before, her aunt, Belle Barnard, had said, in her sickly,
complaining voice, "Well, Mildred, I don't like to tell you, but I have
been talking the matter over with the girls, and they think that we
might as well be plain-spoken with you. Everybody thought that your
Uncle Joe was a rich man, and so did we till we got the business settled
up. Now we find that after the lawyers are paid there won't be enough
for us all to live on comfortably. At least there wouldn't be if it
wasn't for a small inheritance that Maud and Blanche have from their
grandmother, and, of course, they couldn't be expected to divide that
with you, and deny themselves every comfort; so I don't see any help for
it but for you to get a place in some store or millinery shop, or
something. We have to move in a smaller house next week."

The week had nearly gone by, and Mildred was growing desperate.
Unfitted for most work, either in strength or education, she scarcely
knew for what to apply, and went from one place to another at her aunt's
recommendation, feeling like a forlorn little waif for whom there was no
place anywhere in the world.

One afternoon she sat by her window, looking out on the early April
sunshine, trying, with the hopelessness of despair, to form some plan
for her future. "Why didn't I have a grandmother to leave me an
inheritance like Blanche and Maud?" she thought, bitterly.

Then her thoughts flew back to the day on shipboard, when she had heard
of the old house in Chester and the inscription in her companion's
wedding-ring. "And she told me to take that motto for my own," she
whispered through her tears. "'God's providence is mine inheritance!' If
it is, the time has certainly come for me to claim it, for I have never
been in such desperate need."

The few times that winter that Mildred had gone to any service, had been
in the church in the next block. Its gray stone walls, with masses of
overhanging ivy, reminded her of the one she had loved at home. God had
seemed so very far away since she came to Carlsville. She prayed as she
had always done before, but her prayers seemed like helpless little
birds, unable to rise high enough to carry her pleadings to the ear of
the great Creator who had so many cries constantly going up to him. She
had not realized before how big the world was and how small a part her
little affairs played in the plan of the great universe. A longing for
some closer communion than she had known before drew her toward this
church, of which Derrick Jaynes was the rector. The door was unlocked,
and the slender black figure slipped in unobserved. In the big empty
church her desolate little moan was all unheard and unheeded, as she
knelt at the altar sobbing, "Oh, God, I don't know what will become of
me if you do not help me now! Oh, show me 'mine inheritance!'"

Three times during that week she went back to that same place with that
same cry. The last time she went some one was in the church. It was the
organist, practising some new Easter music for the next day's services.
A burst of triumphant melody greeted her as she noiselessly opened the
side door. She met the florist coming out, for he had just completed the
decorating, and the place was a mass of bloom. All around the chancel
stood the tall, white Easter lilies, waiting, like the angels in the
open tomb, with their glad resurrection message--"He is risen!"

As Mildred stood with clasped hands, an unspoken prayer rising with the
organ's jubilant tones and the incense of the lilies, she felt a touch
on her shoulder. It was the white-haired old minister.

"I saw you come in," he said, in a whisper. "I have been trying all day
to find time to call at your aunt's to talk with you. You do not know,
but I have been in correspondence several times this winter regarding
you, with a Mr. Rowland. He wrote me when you first came that his wife
and daughter were deeply interested in you, and wanted to be kept
informed of your welfare. This morning I received a letter which needs
your personal answer. I am very busy now, but shall try to see you
Monday in regard to it."

Mildred's heart beat rapidly as he handed her a large,
businesslike-looking letter and went softly out again. In the dim light
of the great stained-glass windows she read that poor Muffit had
over-taxed her eyes, and that they were so badly affected she could not
go back to school for the spring term. In looking for some one who could
be eyes for their Mildred, so that she might go on with her studies at
home, they had thought of this other Mildred, the little English girl,
whose low, musical voice had been so carefully trained by her father in
reading aloud. By one of these strange providences which we never
recognize as such at the time, Mr. Rowland had broken his spectacles the
last evening of Mildred's stay in New York. She had offered to read the
magazine article which he was particularly anxious to hear, and they had
been charmed by her beautifully modulated voice. Now the letter had been
written to offer her a liberal salary and a home for the summer.

Mildred gave a gasp of astonishment. It was not the almost miraculous
finding of what she had come to seek that overwhelmed her. It was a
feeling that swept across her like a flood, warm and sweet and tender;
the sudden realization that a hand stronger than death and wise above
all human understanding had her in its keeping. She dropped on her knees
at the flower-decked altar-rail, with face upturned and radiant; no
longer lonely; no longer afraid of what the future might hold. She had
come into her inheritance.

[Illustration: "SHE READ THAT POOR MUFFIT HAD OVERTAXED HER EYES."]

Kneeling there she looked back again to her father's lowly grave in the
little churchyard across the seas, but she saw it no longer through
hopeless tears. Into her heart the great organ had pealed the gladness
of its exultant Easter message, and in the deep peace of the silence
which followed, the fragrance of the lilies breathed a wordless "Amen!"



JUST HER WAY


"Look out of the window, Judith! Quick! Mrs. Avery is going away!"
Judith Windham, bending over the sewing-machine in her bedroom, started
as her little sister's voice came piping shrilly up the stairs, and
leaving her chair she leaned out of the old-fashioned casement window.

There were so few goings and comings in sleepy little Westbrooke, that
the passing of the village omnibus was an exciting event. With an
imposing rumble of yellow wheels it rattled up to Doctor Allen's gate
across the road. A trunk, a dress suit case, and numerous valises were
hoisted to the top of it, and the doctor's family flocked down to the
gate to watch the departure of the youngest member of their household,
Marguerite.

It had been four years since the first time they watched her go away, a
nineteen-year-old bride. Since then they had visited her, severally and
collectively, in her elegant apartments in Washington, but this had been
her first visit home. Judith, watching her flutter down the walk with
her hand in the old doctor's, thought she looked even prettier and more
girlish than on her wedding-day. Married life had been all roses for
Marguerite.

"She's the same dear old harum-scarum Daisy she always was, in spite of
the efforts of her Lord Chesterfield of a husband to reform her,"
thought Judith, fondly, as her old schoolmate, catching sight of her at
the window, waved her parasol so wildly that the staid old 'bus horses
began to plunge.

The girls had bidden each other good-bye the night before, but
Marguerite stopped in the midst of her final embracings to call out,
"Good-bye, again, Judith. Remember, I shall expect you the first of
February." Then the slender figure in its faultless tailor-made gown
disappeared into the omnibus. Her husband, a distinguished, scholarly
man, lifted his hat once more and stepped in after her. The door banged
behind them, and, creaking and swaying, the ancient vehicle moved off in
a cloud of dust.

[Illustration: "THE PASSING OF THE VILLAGE OMNIBUS WAS AN EXCITING
EVENT."]

Feeling that something very bright and interesting had dropped out of
her life, Judith went back to the sewing-machine. As she picked up her
work an involuntary sigh escaped her.

"That's a very sorry sound, Judith. Are you tired?"

It was a sympathetic voice that asked the question, and Judith looked up
with a smile. Her mother's cousin stood in the doorway--a prim little
old spinster, who had been their guest for several days. Like
Marguerite, she, too, had come back to her native village after an
absence of four years, but not to her father's house. She was all alone
in the world, save for a few distant relatives who called her Cousin
Barbara. After a short visit, she would go away for another long
absence, but not, like Marguerite, to a life full of many interests and
pleasures. She had only her music pupils in a little Pennsylvania mining
town, and a room in a boarding-house.

"Come in, Cousin Barbara," said Judith, cordially. "I was sighing over
Marguerite's departure. You know she was my best friend at school, and I
have missed her so much since her marriage. The other girls in our class
have all gone away to teach or take positions somewhere, except the two
who married and settled down here in Westbrooke; and they have such
different interests now. All they can talk about is their housekeeping
or their babies. Most of the boys have gone away, too. I don't wonder.
Anybody with any ambition would get away from such a place if it were
within the range of possibilities."

Cousin Barbara had seated herself in a low rocking-chair and was pulling
the basting threads from a finished garment. "Listen!" she said, "isn't
that Amy calling again?" An excited little voice came shrilly up the
stairs.

"Look, Judith! Mrs. Avery is coming back again! What do you suppose is
the matter?"

The omnibus dashing down the road stopped suddenly at the gate opposite.
The door burst open, and the dignified Mr. Avery, in undignified haste,
ran breathlessly toward the house, while Marguerite called out a
laughing explanation to her friend at the window.

"I left my watch on the dressing-table and my purse with my trunk keys
in it, and we've only six minutes to catch the train. Isn't that just my
way? Look at Algernon run! I wouldn't have believed it of him. Well, it
has given me another chance to remind you that you are to come to me in
February. You needn't shake your head. I'll not take 'no' for an answer.
You're so good at planning, Judith, I'm sure you can arrange it some
way."

Then as her husband returned, red-faced and breathless, she leaned out
of the 'bus, and laughingly blew an airy kiss from her fingertips.

"That's just like her!" exclaimed Judith. "She's as irresponsible and
careless as a child. She was always late to school, and losing her
pencils and forgetting her books. We used to call her 'Daisy
Dilly-dally.' She's such a dear little butterfly, though, and it doesn't
seem possible that we are the same age--twenty-three. I feel like a
patriarch beside her."

"So she has invited you to visit her in Washington," began Miss Barbara.
"I am glad of that. It will be such a fine change for you."

To her surprise, the gray eyes filled with tears, and in her effort to
wink them back Judith did not reply for a moment. Then she answered,
lightly, "Yes; it would be a golden opportunity if I could only afford
to accept, but the wolf is still at the door, Cousin Barbara. It has
stood in the way of everything I ever longed to do. Even when a child I
used to hear so much about it that I thought it was a veritable
flesh-and-blood wolf. Many a night I slipped out of bed and peered
through the curtain, all a-shiver. I wanted to see if its fiery eyeballs
were really watching at the door. I wanted to see them if they were
there, and yet was terrified to peep out for fear they were. Even now it
seems more than a mere figure of speech. Often I dream of having a
hand-to-hand struggle with it, but I always conquer it in the end--in my
dreams," she added, with a gay little laugh. "And that is a good omen."

That cheery laugh was the key-note of Judith's character, Miss Barbara
thought. All her life she had taken the pinch of poverty bravely for the
sake of her invalid mother and the three younger sisters whom she was
now helping through school. Gradually she had shouldered the heavy
responsibilities laid upon her, until she had settled down to a routine
of duty, almost hopeless in its monotony. Miss Barbara noted with keen
eyes that a careworn look had become the habitual expression of the
sweet girlish face, and she sat wishing with all her heart that she were
something herself besides a poorly paid little music teacher with the
wolf lurking at her own door. As she wound the basting threads on a
spool she planned the rose-coloured future Judith should have if it were
only in her power to give it.

Judith must have felt the unspoken sympathy, for presently she burst
forth: "If I could only go away, just once, and have a real good time,
like other girls, just once, while I am young enough to enjoy it, I
wouldn't ask anything more. I've never been ten miles outside of
Westbrooke, and I'm sure no one ever longed to travel more than I. I
never have any company of my own age. Our old set is all gone, and my
friends are either elderly people or the school-children who come to see
the girls. And they all are so absorbed in the trivial village
happenings and neighbourhood gossip.

"What I want is to meet people out in the world who really do
things,--men like Mr. Avery, for instance; Daisy is always entertaining
distinguished strangers, artists and authors and musicians. Friendship
with such cultured, interesting people would broaden the horizon of my
whole life. I have a feeling that if I could once get away, it would
somehow break the ice, and things would be different ever after." Then
she added, with a tinge of bitterness that rarely crept into her voice,
"I might as well plan to go to the moon. The round-trip ticket alone,
without the sleeping-car berth, would be at least forty dollars,
wouldn't it?"

Miss Barbara nodded. "Yes, fully that. It costs me almost that much to
go to Packertown and back, and that, you know, is a few hours this side
of Washington."

There was silence for several minutes, while Judith, already ashamed of
her outburst, stitched twice round the skirt she was making for Amy.
Then she said in a cheerful tone that somehow forbade any return to the
subject, "Tell me about Packertown, Cousin Barbara. How did you happen
to stray off there after a music class?"

The trip to Washington was mentioned no more that summer, but Miss
Barbara understood.

It was the middle of September when the old yellow omnibus rolled up for
Miss Barbara and her trunk. This time there was no returning in mad
haste after forgotten property. With a precision that was almost
fussiness, she had packed her trunk days before her departure, and her
bonnet was on an hour before train time.

"I can't help it," she said, calmly, when Judith remonstrated. "It's
just my way. I have a horror of keeping any one waiting. Habitual
disregard of punctuality in the keeping of an engagement or a promise is
a sort of dishonesty, in my opinion. I suppose I do carry it to an
extreme in minor matters, but it is better to do that than to cause
other people needless anxiety and trouble."

Miss Barbara was mounted on her hobby now, and she ambled vigorously
along until Amy, with a sigh of relief, announced that she heard wheels.
Amy had heard Cousin Barbara's views more than once, when a missing shoe
button, a torn glove, or an unanswered note, claimed immediate
attention.

"Remember, Judith," said Miss Barbara, at parting, "if anything should
happen to make it possible for you to go to Washington, be sure and let
me know. I want to arrange for you to stop with me a week on your way."
But even as Judith spoke her thanks, she shook her head. She had stopped
building air-castles.

Winter came early to Westbrooke. Mrs. Allen ran over occasionally with a
letter from Marguerite, who was an erratic correspondent, sometimes
sending interesting daily bulletins of sixteen or twenty pages,
sometimes breaking a month's silence by only a postal card. They rarely
heard from Miss Barbara, but, one snowy day late in January, Amy dashed
in from the post-office with a letter to Judith, addressed in her
unmistakable precise little hand. She wrote:

     "The new year began for me with a great pleasure, Judith dear. An
     old bill, which I had been unable to collect for so long that I
     crossed it off my books two years ago, was paid very unexpectedly,
     and I feel as if I had fallen heir to a dukedom.

     "It is enough to enable you to make your visit to Washington and to
     pay your board in the room next to mine for two weeks. Maybe there
     will be enough to get the material for a simple evening gown, and
     you can make it while you are here, or at home. It depends on
     whether you go first to Mrs. Avery or to me. Write to her at once,
     please, so that I may know when to expect you.

     "Oh, my dear child, you do not know the unalloyed pleasure I have
     already had in anticipating not only your visit to me, but your
     good times in Washington. I feel that your enjoyment of the outing,
     which I would have enjoyed so intensely at your age, will, in a
     way, compensate me for my starved, unsatisfied girlhood, and I am
     sure you are too generous to refuse me the pleasure.

     "Enclosed you will find the check and a card on which I have
     written all necessary directions as to railroad connections,
     time-tables, etc."

       *       *       *       *       *

No girl of fifteen could have been more enthusiastic in her rapturous
expressions of delight than Judith, as she danced into her mother's
room, waving the check. Amy looked on in amazement.

"I didn't know that sister could get so excited," she said to her
mother, afterwards.

"It is the first great pleasure she has ever had," said Mrs. Windham,
with a sigh. "It means far more to her than a trip to Europe would to
Marguerite. We all must help her to make the most of it."

It seemed to Judith that all Westbrooke had heard of her proposed
journey before night. Neighbours ran in to talk it over and proffer
their assistance. The little old trunk that had gone on her mother's
wedding journey was brought down, and the family dropped various
contributions into it, from Mrs. Windham's well-preserved black silk
skirt, to Edith's best stockings. Amy brought her coral pin and only
lace-trimmed handkerchief, begging Judith to wear them when she went to
the White House. "Then I can tell the girls they've seen the President
of the United States," she said, proudly.

Lillian, next in age to Judith, presented her outright with her
Christmas gloves. "Mittens are good enough for Westbrooke," she said.
"Just bring me a leaf from Mount Vernon and one from Arlington for my
memory book. I can hardly realize that you are really going to see such
famous places."

Marguerite's letter in response to Judith's news came promptly. She
named a long list of sights which she had planned for Judith to see,
and mentioned a noted violinist who was to visit Washington the
following month and had promised to play at the musicale she intended
giving on the sixteenth.

"I am sure you will like that better than anything," she wrote. "Make
your visit to Miss Barbara first. I wish I could have you come on the
first of February, as I invited you to do, but, unfortunately, Mr.
Avery's mother and sisters are with us just now, and they occupy all our
spare room. They do not expect to stay long after my cousin's reception
on the third, however, and I will write as soon as they leave, and let
you know just what day to come."

The first week of Judith's visit in Packertown fairly flew by. Miss
Barbara was away much of the time, both morning and afternoon, with her
music pupils, but Judith busied herself with the making of the dainty
white dinner gown, and wove happy day-dreams while she worked. In the
evenings she and Miss Barbara pored over a map of Washington until they
could locate all the prominent places of interest, and then Miss Barbara
brought out a pile of borrowed magazines in which were interesting
descriptions of those very places, and they took turns in reading
aloud.

[Illustration: "SHE AND MISS BARBARA PORED OVER A MAP OF WASHINGTON"]

When the dress was completed they had a little jubilee. Judith wore it
one evening, with its dainty flutter of ribbons, for Miss Barbara to
admire, and they invited the landlady and her daughter in to have music
and toast marshmallows.

"You don't look a day over eighteen," Miss Barbara declared. "You ought
to wear white all the time."

"It is given only to saints and the 'lilies that toil not' to do that,"
answered Judith, gaily. "I am satisfied to be arrayed just on state
occasions." And then because she was so happy she seized the little
music teacher and waltzed her round and round before the mirror. "It's
all your doing, you blessed Cousin Barbara! See how you have
metamorphosed me."

Several days later she stood idly turning the calendar. "This is the day
of the reception," she said; "the Averys will certainly be going home
soon, and I ought to hear from Marguerite."

But no letter came the next day, nor the next, nor all the following
week, although she went to the post-office several times daily.

It grew dull waiting, with Miss Barbara gone so much, and with nothing
to do. She read the few books at her disposal, she paced up and down in
the two little back bedrooms that she and Miss Barbara occupied. She
took long walks alone, but the little mining town was even smaller than
Westbrooke, and she found scant material with which to fill her letters
home.

The two weeks for which she had been invited came to an end, and Judith
grew desperate over her fruitless trips to the post-office. She knew
that Miss Barbara had just made the payment that was due the Building
and Loan Association in which she was putting her little earnings, and
would be almost penniless until the end of another term. Besides, she
had accepted all that she was willing to take from the hard-worked
little music teacher.

"I have packed my trunk and am going home to-morrow, Cousin Barbara,"
she announced. "Mr. Avery's family have evidently stayed longer than
Daisy expected, and she can't have me. Maybe some of them are ill."

"Then she should have written and told you so," said Miss Barbara,
waxing so indignant over the neglect of her _protégée_ that she grew
eloquent on the subject of her hobby--punctuality, especially in
correspondence.

"I suppose you wouldn't want to write again?" she suggested.

But Judith shook her head. "Oh, no, no!" she insisted; "Daisy
understands perfectly that I can stay here only two weeks. I explained
the situation fully in my letter. I mailed it myself, and I am sure that
she received it. And I couldn't thrust myself upon her, you know. She
has probably forgotten all about her invitation by this time; this visit
doesn't mean as much to her as to me."

"But I can't bear to be disappointed after going so far," said Miss
Barbara. "She'll surely write in a few days. You'll just have to stay
another week. I can arrange for that long. The landlady wants the room
after the twenty-first for a permanent boarder, but you can't go until
then."

In spite of all Judith's protestations, Miss Barbara kept her, and never
did a week drag by so slowly. It snowed incessantly. Miss Barbara was
unusually busy. Judith took a severe cold that confined her to the
house. Her eyes ached when she attempted to read, and all she could do
was to pace up and down the room and look out of the window, or watch
the clock in feverish impatience for Miss Barbara to return with the
mail.

But not until the sixteenth, the day of the musicale, did she lose hope.
When the hour came in which she should have been listening to the famous
violinist in Marguerite's elegant drawing-rooms, she threw herself on
the bed and cried as if her heart would break. It had been years since
she had given away to her emotions as she did then, but the
disappointment was a bitter one. She must go back home without even a
glimpse of the city of her dreams, and without meeting a single
interesting person. True, she had had a pleasant visit with Cousin
Barbara, but they both had thought of it as only the stepping-stone to
what lay beyond. Then at the thought of Miss Barbara's disappointment,
second only to her own, she cried again. And again for her mother's
disappointment and the girls', and her mortification when it should be
discussed in every house in Westbrooke. She sobbed so long that finally
she fell into a deep sleep of exhaustion.

Miss Barbara, coming in later in the twilight, found her lying on the
bed, with a feverish flush on her cheeks. The grieved, childlike droop
of the sensitive little mouth told its own story, and Miss Barbara set
her lips sternly together.

"I wish Daisy Avery could see her now," she muttered, savagely; "it's
cruel to disappoint any one so. I don't care what the cause is, it's
wickedly cruel to be so careless."

[Illustration: "'I WISH DAISY AVERY COULD SEE HER NOW,' SHE MUTTERED,
SAVAGELY."]

Four days later Judith went home. In the course of a week a letter
was forwarded to her from Packertown. It was from Marguerite:

     "How can you ever forgive my abominable carelessness? I intended to
     answer immediately after our guests left, but Mr. Avery and I were
     invited to a little house-party in the country, and I thought a few
     days wouldn't make any difference to you. Then, after our return,
     so many things interfered and the days slipped by so fast, that the
     month was nearly gone before I realized it. But then I always have
     been such a poor correspondent.

     "I hope that it hasn't inconvenienced you any, and that you have
     been having a good visit with Miss Barbara. You know my unfortunate
     way of doing things, and I'm sure you'll forgive me, like the
     darling you always were.

     "We shall look for you to-morrow on the six o'clock train. Don't
     disappoint us, for we both shall be at the station to meet you.

                                  "Devotedly,
                                         "MARGUERITE."


Judith read the letter aloud to the girls and then dropped it in the
fire, watching it without a word, as it curled up in the flame. How
long she had waited for that careless little letter! How anxiously she
had hoped for it! A few days sooner it would have brought untold
happiness. Now it was only a hollow mockery. Well, it was all over now.
Her hopes were in ashes like the letter. How high they had burned! And
the little evening gown she had taken such pleasure in making--there
would never be any occasion fit for its wearing in Westbrooke. She might
as well fold it away. The letter had come too late. And she was asked to
forgive it--the disappointment that would sting all her life
long--simply because it was Daisy's way.

The silence was growing uncomfortable. Amy kept casting frightened
glances at her sister's white, tense face. "Oh, dear," she sighed,
finally, "if this had only been in a story it wouldn't have ended so
dreadfully. Something nice would have happened just at the last minute
to make up for the disappointment."

"But it isn't in a story," said Judith, slowly, rising to leave the
room. "And nothing can compensate for such a disappointment. It will
hurt always."

As the door closed behind her the girls exchanged sympathizing glances.
"If there had even been a good reason," sighed Lillian, "but it was only
carelessness. And the trouble of it is, the world is full of Daisy
Averys."



ANN'S OWN WAY


"Ann! Ann! Have you been home yet to feed the chickens?" The call came
from the doorway of a big old farmhouse, where a pleasant-faced woman
stood looking out over the October fields.

The answer floated down from an apple-tree near by, where a ten-year-old
girl sat perched among its gnarled branches. She had a dog-eared book of
fairy tales on her knee, and was poring over it in such blissful
absorption that she had forgotten there were such things in all the
world as chickens to be fed.

"No'm, Aunt Sally, I haven't done it yet, but I'll go in a minute," and
she was deep into the story again.

"But, Ann," came the voice after a moment's waiting, "it is nearly
sundown, and you ought to go right away, dear. Lottie says that you have
been reading ever since you came home from school, and I am afraid that
your mother wouldn't like it."

[Illustration: "SAT PERCHED AMONG ITS GUARDED BRANCHES"]

"Oh, bother!" exclaimed Ann under her breath, shutting the book with an
impatient slap; but she obediently swung herself down from the limb,
and went into the house for the key. The little cottage where Ann Fowler
lived stood just across the lane from her Uncle John's big brown house,
where she was staying while her mother was away from home. Mrs. Fowler,
who had been called to the city by her sister's illness, had taken
little Betty with her, but Ann could not afford to miss school and had
been left in her Aunt Sally's care. The arrangement was very agreeable
to the child, for it meant no dish-wiping, no dusting, no running of
errands while she was a guest. Her only task was to go across the lane
twice a day and feed the chickens.

As Ann came out of the house swinging the key, her aunt called her
again: "Mrs. Grayson was here to-day. She came to invite you and Lottie
to a Saturday afternoon romp with her little girls to-morrow. She's
asked a dozen boys and girls to come and play all afternoon and stay to
tea. Her oldest daughter, Jennie, is going to give a Hallowe'en party at
night, but she'll send you home in the carryall after tea, before the
foolishness begins."

"Didn't she invite us to the party too?" asked Ann, who had heard it
discussed at school all week by the older girls and boys of the
neighbourhood, until her head was full of the charms and mysteries of
Hallowe'en.

"Why, of course not," was the answer. "Jennie Grayson is fully eighteen
years old and wouldn't want you children tagging around."

"But we can't work any charms in the afternoon," said Ann, "They won't
come true unless you wait till midnight to do 'em. I found a long list
of 'em in an old book at home and gave them to Jennie. I think she might
have asked me. I'd love to try my fate walking down cellar backwards
with a looking-glass in one hand and a candle in the other. They say
that you can see the reflection of the man you're going to marry looking
over your shoulder into the glass."

"Why, Ann Fowler!" exclaimed her aunt in a horrified tone, lifting up
both hands in her astonishment. "I didn't think it of a little girl like
you! Don't you go to putting any foolish notions like that into Lottie's
head. Fate indeed! It would be more like your fate to fall down cellar
and break the looking-glass and set yourself on fire. No, indeed!
Lottie shouldn't go to such a party if she had a dozen invitations."

Ann hurried away wishing that she had not spoken. She had an
uncomfortable feeling that her aunt considered her almost wicked,
because she had made that wish. As for her aunt, she was saying to her
husband, who had just come in, "Well, well! that child has the queerest
notions. Her mother lets her read entirely too much, and anything she
happens to get her hands on. And she sets such store by her clothes,
too. I believe if she had her own way she'd be rigged out in her Sunday
best the whole week long. I'm glad that Lucy isn't like her."

No one, judging by the appearance of the resolute little figure trudging
across the lane, would have imagined that Ann's besetting sin was a love
of dress. She was such a plain old-fashioned little body, with her short
brown hair combed smoothly back behind her ears. But the checked
sunbonnet, the long-sleeved gingham apron, and the stout calfskin shoes
were no index of Ann's taste. They were of her mother's choosing, and
Ann's mother was not a woman whose decisions could be lightly set
aside.

In a bureau drawer in the guest-chamber of the little cottage was a
dress that Ann had been longing to put on for six months. It was of
dainty white organdy, made to wear over a slip of the palest green silk,
with ribbons to match. And carefully wrapped in a box, with many
coverings of tissue paper, was a pair of beautiful pale green kid shoes.
Ann had worn them only once, and that was in the early spring, when she
had gone to a cousin's wedding in the city. Many a Sunday morning since,
she had wept bitter tears into that drawer, at not being allowed to wear
the costume to church.

"Just see how beautiful they are, mother," she would say tearfully,
touching the beribboned dress with admiring fingers and caressing the
shoes. "By the time I have another chance to wear them in the city they
will be too small for me, and I shall have to give them to Betty. I
don't see why I can't wear them out here."

"Because they are not suitable, Ann," her mother would answer. "You
would look ridiculous going through the fields and along the dusty roads
in such finery, and among all these plainly attired country people you
would appear overdressed. I hope that my little daughter is too much of
a lady in her tastes to ever want to call attention to herself in that
way, especially at church."

"But, mother," the little girl would sob protestingly, and then Mrs.
Fowler's decided voice would silence her.

"Hush, Ann! Close the drawer at once. You cannot wear them." That would
settle the matter for awhile, but the scene had been repeated several
times during the summer. Now it was next to the last day of October, and
no suitable occasion had arrived for Ann to wear them.

As she stood scattering the corn to the chickens, a daring plan began to
form itself in her busy brain. The trees suggested it; the trees of the
surrounding woodland, decked out in their royal autumn colouring of red
and yellow, that the sunset was just now turning into a golden glory.

"Even the trees get to wear their best clothes sometimes," she said to
herself. "They look like a lot of princesses ready for a ball. Oh,
that's what they are," she exclaimed aloud. "They are all Cinderellas.
October is their fairy godmother who has changed their old every-day
dresses into beautiful ball-gowns, for them to wear on Hallowe'en. I
don't see why I couldn't wear my best clothes too, to-morrow." Then she
went on, as if she were talking to the old white rooster: "I'd rather be
dressed up and look nice than to play, and I needn't romp at all. If we
were to begin trying charms after supper, Mrs. Grayson would be almost
sure to let us stay until after Jennie's party begins, and then all the
big boys and girls would see my lovely clothes. Nobody out here knows
I've got 'em. And then if I should go down cellar with a looking-glass
and candle and somebody should look over my shoulder, I'd be so glad
that the first time he ever saw me I was all in green and white like the
Princess Emeralda, with my beautiful pale green party shoes on."

Alas! Aunt Sally was right. The flotsam and jetsam of too many
sentimental stories and fairy tales were afloat in the child's active
mind. A few minutes later she had gathered the eggs and put them away in
the pantry. Then she stepped into the sitting-room, awed by the solemn
stillness that enveloped the usually cheerful room. How strange and
dark it seemed with all the blinds closed! She groped her way across the
floor, and tiptoed through the hall as if she were afraid that the great
eight-day clock in the corner might hear her and call her back. Its loud
tick-tock was the only sound in the house, except her own rapid
breathing.

[Illustration: "IT WAS THE BOX THAT HELD THE GREEN KID SHOES."]

Throwing open a western window, she pushed back the shutters until the
guest-chamber was all alight with the glow of the sunset. Then she
clutched the handles of the bureau drawer with fingers that twitched
guiltily, and gave a jerk. It was locked. For a moment her
disappointment was so great that she was ready to cry, but her face soon
cleared and she began a search for the keys. Under the rug, in the vases
on the mantel, behind photograph frames, into every crack where a key
could be hidden, she peered with eager brown eyes. It was not to be
found. Finally she climbed on a chair to the highest closet shelf, where
she came across something that made her give a cry of delight. It was
the box that held the green kid shoes.

"I'll wear this much of my party clothes, anyhow," she declared,
scrambling down with the box in her arms. Then followed a fruitless
search for the silk stockings that matched them. They were not in the
box with the shoes, where they had always been kept, and a rummage
through the drawers showed nothing suitable.

She heard her Aunt Sally's cook blowing the horn for supper before she
gave up the search. That night after she and Lottie had gone up to bed,
she took her cousin into her confidence.

"Mother hasn't left a thing unlocked but my school clothes," she said.
"I can't find a stocking except my red ones and my striped ones and some
horrid old brown things. She hasn't left out a single white pair for
Sundays; I don't see what she could have been thinking of." Nowadays
little girls might not think that such a distressing matter, but
twenty-five years ago no stockings but white ones were considered proper
for full-dress occasions.

"I'll lend you some," said Lottie obligingly. "I have a pair of fine
white lamb's wool that will fit you. They are a little small for me, and
ma put them away to keep because grandma knit them herself after she was
eighty years old. But I know she would not care if you wore them just
once."

"Then let's get them to-night and not say anything about it until after
to-morrow," said Ann. "She might say I ought not to wear the shoes, and
I'm just bound to have my own way for once in my life."

When Ann's dark eyes flashed as wickedly as they did then, Lottie always
submitted without a word. Opening a big chest in one corner of the room,
she began fumbling among the pile of neatly wrapped winter flannels it
contained, while Ann held the candle.

"I saw ma put them in this corner," said Lottie. "I am sure. Oh! here
they are," she exclaimed, and as she unfolded them she sneezed so
suddenly that it nearly put out the candle. "It's the red pepper," she
explained. "They're full of it, to keep out the moths. Hold them up and
shake them hard."

Several shrivelled red pods fell out as Ann obeyed, and so much loose
pepper that they both began sneezing violently. Lottie's mother
presently called up the stairs for them to hurry to bed, for they surely
must be taking cold.

The next afternoon when Mrs. Grayson's carryall drove down the lane Ann
was waiting in front of the cottage, and climbed in before her Aunt
Sally came out to the gate to see them off.

"Tuck the lap-robe around you well," she called. "If I had known it was
so cold, I'd have gotten out your hoods instead of those sunbonnets. It
really begins to feel as if winter is on the way."

It was a dull gray day with a hint of snow in the air. Several flakes
fell before they reached the Grayson farm, and Ann pulled aside the
lap-robe more than once to peep at the light green shoes with secret
misgivings as to their appropriateness. The wool stockings made them
such a tight fit that they pinched considerably, but the pinching was
more than compensated for by the shapely appearance of her trim little
feet. Besides there was a vast amount of satisfaction to the wilful
child in the mere knowledge that she was having her own way.

[Illustration: "ANN FOLLOWED GINGERLY IN THEIR WAKE."]

Under ordinary circumstances Ann would have looked back at that
afternoon as one of the merriest of her life. She loved the woods like
an Indian, and usually was the leading spirit in such exploits as they
ventured on that day. They were off to the woods with baskets and
pails as soon as they had all assembled. But for once the late wild
grapes hung their tempting bunches overhead in vain. The persimmons,
frost-sweetened and brown, lay under the trees unsought by Ann's nimble
fingers, and the nuts pattered down on the dead leaves unheeded. While
the other children raced down the hills and whooped through the frosty
hollows, Ann followed gingerly in their wake, picking her way as best
she could through the rustling leaves and across the slippery logs that
bridged the little brooks. It was too cold to sit down. She was obliged
to keep stirring; so all that miserable afternoon she tagged after the
others, painfully conscious of her fine shoes, and a slave to the task
of keeping them clean.

"Hi! Ann, what's the matter?" called one of the boys as he noticed her
mincing along at the tail-end of the procession instead of gallantly
leading the charge as usual. Then his glance wandered down past the
checked sunbonnet and the long-sleeved gingham apron to the cause of her
leisurely gait.

"My eyes!" he exclaimed with more vigour than politeness. "What made you
pull your shoes so soon for, Ann? They ain't ripe. They're green as
gourds."

"Mind your own business, Bud Bailey," was the only answer he received,
but from then on what had been her greatest pride became her deepest
mortification. For some unaccountable reason, after awhile her feet
burned as if they were on fire, and before the afternoon was over the
pain was almost unbearable. Lottie found her sitting on a log behind a
big tree, with her arms clasped around her knees, rocking back and
forth, her eyes tightly closed and her teeth clenched.

"It must be the red pepper in those stockings that burns you so," she
said sympathetically. "Come on up to the house and take them off. Lucy
will lend you another pair."

But Ann sprang up, fiercely forbidding her to mention it to any one, and
dashed into the games with a Spartan disregard of her pain. It was the
only way to keep from crying, and she played recklessly on at
"prisoner's base," not stopping even when a pointed stick snagged one
shoe and a sharp rock cut the other.

It was nearly dark when they went up to the house. Bud Bailey swung his
baskets over the fence and turned to help the girls, but after his
unfortunate speech to Ann, she scorned his gallantries. Scrambling to
the top rail by herself at a little distance from his proffered hand,
she poised an instant, and then sprang lightly down. Unfortunately, she
had not looked before she leaped. Bud's basket was in the way, and both
feet sank into a great pulpy mass of wild grapes, that instantly
squirted their streams of purple juice all over her light shoes. They
were splotched and dyed so deeply that no amount of rubbing could ever
wipe away the ugly stains. They were hopelessly ruined.

Alas for the Princess Emeralda, who that night might have learned her
fate in the charm mirror! It was a Hallowe'en she could never forget,
since its unhappiness was both burned and dyed into her memory. She sat
through the tea, her feet like hot coals, too miserable to enjoy
anything. Afterwards, when Jennie's guests began to arrive, she shrank
into a corner, with her dress pulled down far as possible.

It seemed weeks before the carryall was driven up to the door, but at
last she was jolting along the frozen road beside Lottie on the way
home. Out in the starlight, within the protecting privacy of her
sunbonnet, she could let fall some of the tears she had been fighting
back so long. Neither of the children spoke until the carryall turned
into the home lane. Then Lottie cried out; "Oh, Ann! There's a light in
your house. Your mother must have come back sooner than she expected.
Yes, I can see Betty at the window watching for you."

At the gate Ann climbed over the wheel and then turned to exclaim
savagely, "I know what you're thinking, Lottie Fowler, even if you don't
dare say it. You're thinking you're glad that you are not in my shoes!
But I've had my own way, anyhow!" Then with her head high she marched up
the path to the house.

But in spite of her brave speech, when she reached the door-step, she
stopped to wipe her eyes again on her apron. The carryall drove away,
and still she stood there saying to herself with a little sob, "Oh, I
wonder if the Prodigal Son was half as much ashamed to go home as I am!"


THE END.





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