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“ You speak as if you did not know why I wear that black dress," she said, without looking at him. “I don't know why the wearing is in the present tense, I'm
Give me the tongs--you know as much about fires as about some other things. I say it is a fashion I cannot abide; and if one must follow popular superstition for a time, the less time the better. Such a fire !--put together as if the world went by suggestion !”
“The world does not go by pounding,” said Rosalie ; and your fire is going up chimney in the shape of sparks. Hadn't you better suggest to it to blaze :”
I never made suggestions,” said he, throwing down the tongs. “ What I've got to say comes out head first. Now here you persist in shutting yourself up, and trying to be as nun-like as possible. I wonder you submit to be called Rosalie! Why not Sister Ursula,' or some such sweet appellation?"
I should not like to undertake any more Sisterhoods than I belong to at present,” said Rosalie, with a slight smile.
Well, leave off that dress, will you?" said Thornton. "I abominate hoods of all kinds! And let us have pleasant recollections instead of disagreeable.".
Disagreeable !" She stood silent and still, while the flickering light of the fire played over her face, and mingled curiously with the feelings that flitted to and fro there.
“Oh, Thornton!” she said ; “ would you forget our mother?"
Her hands were laid upon his shoulders now, and her eyes looked clear and full into his. He would willingly have freed himself from that light touch of reproof and sorrow, yet he did not try; but his own eyes fell, and it was with a very changed and softened expression that he answered,
"I would sometimes forget if I could that she is not here.”
She might have filled that mother's place for the way in which she looked at him. And then laying her head on his shoulder, while her hands were clasped about his neck, Rosalie said,
If you could. But oh, my dear brother! never forget where she is! I would I could keep that before you every minute of
If the wings of the recording angel had touched him, and the book been laid open before his eyes, Thornton could not have felt more sure that a new prayer for him was registered in heaven. And yet he did not answer according to that assurance, and there was no more spoken ; for when Rosalie raised her head it was to bid him once more " Good-night," and he left her without a word.
Hardly had little Hulda eaten that small allowance of tea and biscuit which she called her breakfast, next morning, before the doctor made his appearance. But everything was ready for him, and the room not only wore a comfortable but a comforted aspect; for Rosalie's face was a shade less anxious, and Hulda's face several shades more bright. So in answer to the doctor's inquiries she told him that she was a great deal better; though indeed she had been better' every time he had come.
I shouldn't wonder if you were to be quite a respectable looking child, after all,” said Dr. Buffem, bending down to
impress his approbation upon Hulda's forehead. “ One of these days if you keep on. Feel most like an oyster or a clam this morning?" “ I don't know how they feel, sir,” said Hulda, laughing,
Don't laugh,” said the doctor, “ that will never do. Not sick yet, Miss Rosalie? I had strong hopes you would be by this time. She looks like an oyster, don't she, Miss Tom Thumb"
No, indeed!” said Hulda, quite forgetting her own name in the one bestowed on her sister; not a bit!”
“ You think not?" said the doctor. Well, I could swear there had been pearls in the vicinity-'A sea of melting pearl, which some call tears.' Who's been eating honey"
O Rosalie had it for her breakfast,” said Hulda.
Hum,” said the doctor, “what have you had for yours? Eaten a whole beefsteak, eh?" “May I have some beefsteak?" said Hulda.
'Why no,” said Doctor Buffem, “I should think not. Wait a day or two, Miss Rosalie, and then give her beefsteak, and a little antimony, a soda biscuit, a cup of chicken-broth, a buckwheat cake, a little salts, or magnesia, or castor oil-whichever she likes best an oyster, a clam, a cup of tea; keep the room at 70°, and the sunlight out of doors, and then read Cowper.”
As the doctor stamped out of the room, Rosalie sat down by Hulda, and putting her arms round her, laid her own head on the pillow, with a feeling of thankfulness that was too weary to do aught but rest. And rest fell like the dew upon sun-touched flowers. But before six quiet minutes had ticked away, the door opened again to admit Martha Jumps.
“Here's a to-do!” she said. “Here's been Mrs. Arnet secluding herself down stairs, to spring upon the doctor as he come down, for to find out whether she could see you with safety, as she says. And the doctor gave it to her well. He said there wasn't no danger for nobody but you; and he didn't think as it was quite safe, lookn' at it in that light, but he guessed you could stand it, he said. So now the sooner the quicker, Miss Rosalie. She smells dreadful strong of pickles.”
With this forewarning Rosalie felt no surprise that her visitor's salutation kept at the safe distance of a somewhat warding-off bow of the head; and as she herself did not feel impelled to advance nearer, they took chairs at opposite sides of the fire.
“Do you consider Hulda to be out of danger :" began Mrs Arnet–who looked very much like a butterfly deprived of its moral expression.
“The doctor so considers her," said a sweet voice from the other side of the fireplace.
“Well, my dear, he is quite right in endeavouring to keep up your spirits, but at the same time I must tell you that amendments are precarious things. Mrs. Forsyth lost a child with scarlet fever only last week, and she had been supposed to be out of danger for several days. It is a shocking disease." And Mrs. Arnet made free use of her aromatic vinegar, while Rosalie's heart sought better help.
“When is Marion coming home?" she inquired presently.
Soon,” said Mrs. Arnet. “I have considered it quite a providential thing that she should be away just now, for I am sure nothing on earth would have kept her from coming to see you.'
Rosalie felt sure of it too.
“She is so very imprudent,” pursued Mrs. Arnet. “I believe she would just as soon as not sit up nights with anybody that had any disease. And if I remonstrated, she would probably tell me that she was safer there than doing nothing at home. For my part, I think one owes something to one's family?"
“And nothing to the family of one's adopted brother," thought Rosalie. But she checked the thought, and answered quietly that family duties could hardly be overrated.
“Which reminds me that I am keeping you from yours," said the lady. “How is Thornton? He never comes to see us now, but I cannot blame him. Give him my best love, my dear.” And Mrs. Arnet's eyes sought her handkerchief, and her handkerchief sought her eyes, but that was probably the fault of the aromatic vinegar.' And too affected for more words, the lady bent her head graciously and left the room, giving Rosalie a wide berth as she went. In another minute Rosalie was up-stairs. There sat Thornton, reading the newspaper by the side of the sleeping Hulda.
“It is an extraordinary thing to see me, isn't it?" said he, in answer to Rosalie's first look of pleasant surprise.
“But I thought you had gone out.”. “One must go out in order to come in," said Thornton. “If you will promise to come down to dinner to-day, and let me order it when I like, I will come home.”
There needed no answer but what the eyes gave him.
“You look sorrowful, Alie,” said her brother. • What has that woman been saying to you?"
“She left her best love for you," said Rosalie. Thornton's lip curled with no attempt at disguisement.
“I hope she did not come on purpose to bring it,” he said. her love were in the market, the report would be, 'Supply light, and the market dull.'»
"She says,” continued Rosalie, “that if Marion had been at home nothing could have kept her from coming here.'
Thornton's eye flashed, but he only said, Of course.”
His sister looked at him, and then at the fire, and then at him again.
""Oh Thornton! will you never give that one little promise ? for her sake-for mine!"
He answered, “Never!" and went.
CHAPTER IV. I cannot like the Quakers (as Desdemona would say) “ to live with them." I am all over sophisticated-with humours, fancies, craving hourly sympathy. I must have books, pictures, theatres, chit-chat, scandal, jokes, ambiguities, and a thousand whim-whams which their simpler taste can do without.-CHARLES LAMB. The doctor entered his gig and drove swiftly up Broadway, until the sound of its paving stones gave place to the regular beat of his horse's feet upon the frozen ground. Swiftly on--past houses and stores, the main body of the city, and then the miserable advanced posts of its outskirt buildings. For the most part the doctor took à vista-like view between the two, brown ears of his horse; but now and then his wig made a half revolution towards the one adventurous row of houses that marked the south side of Walker Street, or when the shouts of the skaters on the great pond at the corner of Canal suggested various ideas that were pleasant 'nly in a professional point of view. But every boy there skimmed over the smooth ice in utter defiance of the doctor, his skill, and his wig; and his good horse Hippocrates, unconscious that the weight he carried behind him was in any part made up of learning, left pond and skaters in the far distance, and trotted nimbly on through the region of market gardens, orchards, and country seats.
As near as might be to one of these the doctor checked his horse, -or I should rather say, as near as he chose ; for though the iron gate was too far from the dwelling to let even its closing clang be heard, the many tracks on the road beyond showed that few vehicles stopped where the gig had done. But the doctor preferred walking. The long ride had made him well acquainted with the state of the atmosphere, and Hippocrates was merrier than he when they reached the gate. So leaving the boy in the red comforter to do the best he could under the circumstances, Dr. Buffem swung to the gate, and strode away through an avenue of tall trees to the house. In summer they would have screened him from both sun and wind, but now the leaflless branches only mocked him with the slight shadows they cast; and the pitiless breath of winter swept whistling through, until every twig shook and shivered in its power. The falling leaves stuck crisp and frozen to the ground; and if there were any at large, they had retreated into corners, and there lay huddled together.
Dr. Buffem pursued his walk, and the wind pursued him,-the doctor in extreme dissatisfaction at the pinched face of nature. His own was not suffering in the same way, for not even the wind could get hold of such cheeks; but still it was great presumption for the wind to try: and the curiosity which would fain have made itself acquainted with the lining of his coat was no less unwarrantable. And though the sunshine was by no means so inquisitive, the doctor made
up his mind that too much reserve was just as bad as too little. So he tramped along, pounding the frozen ridges with his heavy boots, and shaking himself from time to time, to make sure that the enemy had carried nothing but the outworks. Even the nicely swept porch, and the roses that were trimmed and trained beyond the wind's power, had not one approving look. Dr. Buffem made for the knocker; and after a succession of raps that might have answered for half the Peerage, he gave an echo to the same upon the porch floor, while his eyes sought Hippocrates in the distance.
The knocks were immediately successful, but the doctor's back took no note thereof.
• The door stands open, friend Buffem,” said a quiet voice. “ Does thee require aught? The wind is cold.” “Require:" said the doctor, wheeling round
“Rest and a guide, and food and fire. “The wind's as keen as nineteen honed razors,-no sort of a wind to kiss pretty faces. Where are the men?"
“James Hoxton, as thou knowest, is yet ill,” replied the damsel, “and Caleb Williams hath gone in search of letters,--and moreover tendeth not the door at any time.”
"The wiser man he,” replied the doctor. “But James Hoxton's as well as a fish out of water-wriggling his way back at full speed. What's the news up in these Northern regions :-how long since the mercury shook hands with zero?"
“Here is fire,” said the damsel, opening a side door into a small specimen of wax work, "and here thou mayest leave thy clogs. When thou art warm, I will conduct thee up-stairs."
Clogs?" said the doctor. “Well—' every quakeress is a lily,' -but even lilies come out of what may be called mud's raw material. How thee must love John Frost, friend Rachel. Now then- Lead on !-I'll follow thee!'" Along the
wide hall and up the broad easy steps of the old staircase, went Rachel in her sad-coloured gown and white cap,-fit genius to preside over so spotless a domain; and after her the doctor, who with some difficulty made her tripping steps the measure of his own. Trip, trip-a soft stuff-rustle, and a slight key-jingle, their proper accompaniment: while the doctor's heavy tread camé like some strange instrument played out of time.
Rachel crossed the upper hall, and opening the door into a room that stretched along that end of the house, she stepped back and left the doctor to enter. The room looked like the head-quarters of the Fairy Order. Like snow-wreaths hung the curtains-like patches of snow lay napkin and toilet cover and bed-quilt. The furniture was made of self-adjusting materials,—the table-cloth probably shook itself. More polished than" our best society” were the andirons, and at the same time more reflecting: while the ashes, too well instructed to fly about the room or fall on the hearth, followed the soot up chimney. Too dry to sing, the wood burned noiselessly; only the dancing flames showed some vagaries, and declared themselves beyond the sphere of Quakerdom.
In a quiet tête-à-tête with the fire Dr. Buffem found his patient; or rather, he found her first in one of the reflecting andirons, which showed the face and figure that her high-backed chair concealed.
Her cap, her grey dress, the smooth kerchief that lay folded across a breast as unruffled, proclaimed her to be of Rachel's order;