The Josselyns had not quite consented at once, though their faces were bright with a most thankful appreciation of the kindness that offered them such a pleasure; nay, that entreated their companionship as a thing so genuinely coveted to make its own pleasure complete. Somehow, when the whole plan developed, there was a little sudden shrinking on Sue's part, perhaps on similar grounds to Sin Saxon's perception of insurmountable obstacles; but she was shyer than Sin of putting forth her objections, and the general zeal and delight, and Martha's longing look, unconscious of cause why not, carried the day.
There had never been a blither setting off from the Giant's Cairn. All the remaining guests were gathered to see them go. There was not a mote in the blue air between Outledge and the crest of Washington. All the subtile strength of the hills--ores and sweet waters and resinous perfumes and breath of healing leaf and root distilled to absolute purity in the clear ether that only sweeps from such bare, thunder-scoured summits--made up the exhilarant draught in which they drank the mountain-joy and received afar off its baptism of delight.
It was beautiful to see the Josselyns so girlish and gay; it was lovely to look at old Miss Craydocke, with her little tremors of pleasure, and the sudden glistenings in her eyes; Sin Saxon's pretty face was clear and noble, with its pure impulse of kindliness, and her fun was like a sparkle upon deep waters. Dakie Thayne rushed about in a sort of general satisfaction which would not let him be quiet anywhere. Outsiders looked with a kind of new, half-jealous respect on these privileged few who had so suddenly become the "General's party."
Sin Saxon whispered to Leslie Goldthwaite,--"It's neither his nor mine, honeysuckle; it's yours,--Henny-penny and all the rest of it, as Mrs. Linceford said." Leslie was glad with the crowning gladness of her bright summer.
"That girl has played her cards well," Mrs. Thoresby said of her, a little below her voice, as she saw the general himself making her especially comfortable with Cousin Delight in a back seat.
"Particularly, my dear madam," said Marmaduke Wharne, coming close and speaking with clear emphasis, "as she could not possibly have known that she had a trump in her hand!"
To tell of all that week's journeying, and of Dixville Notch,--the adventure, the brightness, the beauty, and the glory,--the sympathy of abounding enjoyment, the waking of new life that it was to some of them,--the interchange of thought, the cementing of friendships,--would be to begin another story, possibly a yet longer one. Leslie's summer, according to the calendar, is already ended. Much in this world must pause unfinished, or come to abrupt conclusion. People "die suddenly at last," after the most tedious illnesses. "Married and lived happy ever after," is the inclusive summary that winds up many an old tale whose time of action only runs through hours. If in this summer-time with Leslie Goldthwaite your thoughts have broadened somewhat with hers, some questions for you have been partly answered; if it has appeared to you how a life enriches itself by drawing toward and going forth into the life of others through seeing how this began with her, it is no unfinished tale that I leave with you.
A little picture I will give you farther on, a hint of something farther yet, and say good by.
Some of them came back to Outledge, and stayed far into the still rich September. Delight and Leslie sat before the Green Cottage one morning, in the heart of a golden haze and a gorgeous bloom. All around the feet of the great hills lay the garlands of early-ripened autumn. You see nothing like it in the lowlands;--nothing like the fire of the maples, the carbuncle-splendor of the oaks, the flash of scarlet sumachs and creepers, the illumination of every kind of little leaf, in its own way, upon which the frost-touch comes down from those tremendous heights that stand rimy in each morning's sun, trying on white caps that by and by they shall pull down heavily over their brows, till they cloak all their shoulders also in the like sculptured folds, to stand and wait, blind, awful chrysalides, through the long winter of their death and silence.
Delight and Leslie had got letters from the Josselyns and Dakie Thayne.
There was news in them such as thrills always the half-comprehending sympathies of girlhood. Leslie's vague suggestion of romance had become fulfilment. Dakie Thayne was wild with rejoicing that dear old Noll was to marry Sue. "She had always made him think of Noll, and his ways and likings, ever since that day of the game of chess that by his means came to grief. It was awful slang, but he could not help it: it was just the very jolliest go!"
Susan Josselyn's quiet letter said,--"That kindness which kept us on and made it beautiful for us, strangers, at Outledge, has brought to me, by God's providence, this great happiness of my life."
After a long pause of trying to take it in, Leslie looked up. "What a summer this has been! So full,--so much has happened! I feel as if I had been living such a great deal!"
"You have been living in others' lives. You have had a great deal to do with what has happened."
"O Cousin Delight! I have only been _among_ it! I could not _do_ --except such a very little."
"There is a working from us beyond our own. But if our working runs with that--? You have done more than you will ever know, little one."
Delight Goldthwaite spoke very tenderly. Her own life, somehow, had been closely touched, through that which had grown and gathered about Leslie. "It depends on that abiding. 'In me, and I in you; so shall ye bear much fruit.'"
She stopped. She would not say more. Leslie thought her talking rather wide of the first suggestion; but this child would never know, as Delight had said, what a centre, in her simple, loving way, she had been for the working of a purpose beyond her thought.
Sin Saxon came across the lawn, crowned with gold and scarlet, trailing creepers twined about her shoulders, and flames of beauty in her full hands. "Miss Craydocke says she praised God with every leaf she took. I'm afraid I forgot to--for the little ones. But I was so greedy and so busy, getting them all for her. Come, Miss Craydocke; we've got no end of pressing to do, to save half of them!"
"She can't do enough for her. O Cousin Delight, the leaves _are_ glorified, after all! Asenath never was so charming; and she is more beautiful than ever!"
Delight's glance took in also another face than Asenath's, grown into something in these months that no training or taking thought could have done for it. "Yes," she said, in the same still way in which she had spoken before, "that comes, too,--as God wills. All things shall be added."
My hint is of a Western home, just outside the leaping growth and ceaseless stir of a great Western city; a large, low, cosy mansion, with a certain Old-World mellowness and rest in its aspect,--looking forth, even, as it does on one side, upon the illimitable sunset-ward sweep of the magnificent promise of the New; on the other, it catches a glimpse, beyond and beside the town, of the calm blue of a fresh-water ocean.
The place is "Ingleside"; the general will call it by no other than the family name,--the sweet Scottish synonym for Home-corner. And here, while I have been writing and you reading these pages, he has had them all with him; Oliver and Susan, on their bridal journey, which waited for summertime to come again, though they have been six months married; Rose, of course, and Dakie Thayne, home in vacation from a great school where he is studying hard, hoping for West Point by and by; Leslie Goldthwaite, who is Dakie's inspiration still; and our Flower, our Pansie, our Delight,--golden-eyed Lady of innumerable sweet names.
The sweetest and truest of all, says the brave soldier and high-souled gentleman, is that which he has persuaded her to wear for life,--Delight Ingleside.
A CASE OF COINCIDENCE
By Rose Terry Cooke
She was a queer old lady, was Grandmother Grant; she was not a bit like other grandmothers; she was short and fat and rosy as a winter apple, with a great deal of snow-white hair set up in a big puff on top of her head, and eyes as black as huckleberries, always puckered up with smiles or laughter.
She never would wear a cap.
"I can't be bothered with 'em!" she said: and when Amelia Rutledge, who was determined her grandma should, as she said, "look half-way decent," made her two beautiful little mob caps, soft and fluffy, and each with a big satin bow, one lavender and one white, put on to show where the front was, Grandma never put them on right; the bow was over one ear or behind, or the cap itself was awry, and in the end she pulled them off and stuck them on a china jar in the parlor, or a tin canister on the kitchen shelf, and left them there till flies and dust ruined them.
"Amelia's as obstinate as a pig!" said the old lady: "she would have me wear 'em, and I wouldn't!"
That was all, but it was enough; not a grandchild ever made her another cap. Moreover Grandmother Grant always dressed in one fashion; she had a calico dress for morning and a black silk for the afternoon, made with an old-fashioned surplice waist, with a thick plaited ruff about her throat; she sometimes tied a large white apron on, but only when she went into the kitchen; and she wore a pocket as big as three of yours, Matilda, tied on underneath and reached through a slit in her gown. Therein she kept her keys, her smelling-bottle, her pocket-book, her handkerchief and her spectacles, a bit of flagroot and some liquorice stick. I mean when I say this, that all these things belonged in her pocket, and she meant to keep them there; but it was one peculiarity of the dear old lady, that she always lost her necessary conveniences, and lost them every day.
"Maria!" she would call out to her daughter in the next room, "have you seen my spectacles?"
"No, mother; when did you have them?"
"Five minutes ago, darning Harry's stockings; but never mind, there's another pair in the basket."
In half an hour when Gerty came into her room for something she needed, Grandmother would say:
"Gerty, do look on the floor and see if my specs lie anywhere around."
Gerty couldn't find them, and then Grandma would say:
"Probably they dropped out on the grass under the window, you can see when you go down; but give me my gold pair out of my upper drawer."
And when Mrs. Maria went to call her mother down to dinner she would find her hunting all about the room, turning her cushions over, peering into the wood-basket, shaking out the silk quilt, and say "What is it you want, mother?"
"My specs, dear. I can't find one pair."
"But there are three on your head now!" and Grandma would sit down and laugh till she shook all over, as if it were the best joke in the world to push your spectacles up over the short white curls on your forehead, one pair after another, and forget all about them.
She mislaid her handkerchief still oftener. Gerty would sometimes pick up six of these useful articles in one day where the old lady dropped them as she went about the house; but the most troublesome of all her habits was a way she had of putting her pocket-book in some queer place every night, or if ever she left home in the day-time, and then utterly forgetting where she had secreted it from the burglars or thieves she had all her life expected.
The house she lived in was her own, but Doctor White who had married her daughter Maria, rented it of her, and the rent paid her board; she had a thousand dollars a year beside, half of which she reserved for her dress and her charities, keeping the other half for her Christmas gifts to her children and grandchildren. There were ten of these last, and the ten always needed something. Gerty White, the doctor's daughter, was twelve years old; she had three brothers: Tom, John, and Harry, all older than she was. Mrs. Rutledge, who had been Annie Grant, was a widow with three daughters--Sylvia, Amelia, and Anne, these latter two now out in society and always glad of new dresses, gloves, bonnets, ribbons, lace, and the thousand small fineries girls never have to their full satisfaction. There were Thomas Grant's two girls of thirteen and fifteen, Rosamond and Kate, and his little boy Hal, crippled in his babyhood so that he must always go on crutches, but as bright and happy as Grandma herself, and her prime favorite.
Now it was Grandma's way to draw her money out of the bank two weeks before Christmas, and go into Boston with Mrs. White to buy all the things she had previously thought over for these ten and their parents; and one winter she had made herself all ready to take the ten-o'clock train, and had just taken her pocket-book out of the drawer when she was called down-stairs to see a poor woman who had come begging for some clothes for her husband.
"Come right upstairs, Mrs. Slack," said Grandma. "I don't have many applications for men's things, so I guess there's a coat of Mr.
Grant's put away in the camphor chest, and maybe a vest or so; you sit right down by my fire whilst I go up to the garret and look."
It took Grandma some time to find the clothes under all the shawls and blankets in the chest, and when she had given them to Mrs. Slack she had to hurry to the station with her daughter, and the cars being on the track they did not stop to get tickets, but were barely in time to find seats when the train rolled off. The conductor came round in a few minutes and Grandma put her hand in her pocket, suddenly turned pale, opened her big satchel and turned out all its contents, stood up and shook her dress, looked on the floor, and when Mrs. White said in amazement, "What _is_ the matter, mother?" she answered curtly, "I've lost my pocket-book."
"Was it in your pocket?" asked Maria.