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'Well, no, I reckon not, Mr. Bowen. I'm in a good deal of a hurry. I've been sent for over to John's." And rubbing one finger up and down the horn of her saddle, for she was on horseback, Mrs. Walker added, "Johnny's sick, Mr. Bowen, an' purty bad, I'm afeard." Then she tucked up her skirts, and, gathering up the rein, that had dropped on the neck of her horse, she inquired in a more cheerful tone, "How's all the folks, Miss Bowen, an' Jinney, an' all?”

By this time the thunder began to growl, and the wind to whirl clouds of dust along the road.

"You'd better hitch your critter under the wood-shed, an' come in a bit. My woman 'll be glad to see you, an' Jinney too, there she is now, at the winder. I'll warrant nobody goes along the big road without her seein' 'em." Mr. Bowen had left the broad kitchen-porch from which he had hallooed to the old woman, and was now walking down the gravelled path, that, between its borders of four-o'clocks and other common flowers, led from the front door to the front gate. "We 're all purty well, I 'm obleeged to you," he said, as, reaching the gate, he leaned over it, and turned his cold gray eyes upon the neat legs of the horse, rather than the anxious face of the rider.

"I'm glad to hear you 're well," Mrs. Walker said; "it a'most seems to me that, if I had Johnny the way he was last week, I would n't complain about anything. We think too much of our lile hardships, Mr. Bowen, -a good deal too much!" And Mrs. Walker

looked at the clouds, perhaps in the hope that their blackness would frighten the tears away from her eyes. John was her own boy,- forty years old, to be sure, but still a boy to her, — and he was very sick.

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Mrs. Walker was hurt. Her neighbor had not given her the sympathy she expected; he had not said anything about John one way nor another; had not inquired whether there was anything he could do, nor what the doetor said, nor asked any of those questions that express a kindly solicitude.

"I am sorry about your hay," she answered, "but I must be going."

"Don't want to hurry you; but if you will go, the sooner the better. That thunder-cloud is certain to bust in a few minutes." And Mr. Bowen turned toward the house.

"Wait a minute, Mrs. Walker," called a young voice, full of kindness; "here's my umberell. It'll save your bonnet, any how; and it's a real purty


But did n't I hear you say somebody was sick over to your son's house?" "Yes, darlin'," answered the old woman as she took the umbrella; "it's Johnny himself; he's right bad, they say. I just got word about an hour ago, and left everything, and started off. They think he's got the smallpox."

Jenny Bowen, the young girl who

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had brought the umbrella, looked terribly frightened. "They won't let me go over, you know," she said, nodding her head toward the house, "not if it's really small-pox!" And then, with the hope at which the young are so quick to catch, she added, “May be it is n't small-pox. I haven't heard of a case anywhere about. I don't believe it is." And then she told Mrs. Walker not to fret about home. "I will go," she said, "and milk the cow, and look after things. Don't think one thought about it." And then she asked if the rest of them at John Walker's were well.

"If it's Hobert you want to know about," the grandmother said, smiling faintly, "he's well; but, darlin', you 'd better not think about him: they'll be ag'in it, in there!" and she nodded toward the house as Jenny had done before her.

The face of the young girl flushed, not with confusion, but with self-asserting and defiant brightness that seemed to say, "Let them do their worst." The thunder rattled sharper and nearer, bursting right upon the flash of the lightning, and then came the rain. But it proved not one of those bright, brief dashes that leave the world sparkling, but settled toward sunset into a slow, dull drizzle.

Jenny had her milking, and all the other evening chores, done betimes, and with an alertness and cheerfulness in excess of her usual manner, that might have indicated an unusual favor to be asked. She had made her evening toilet; that is, she had combed her hair, tied on a pair of calf-skin shoes, and a blue checked apron, newly washed and ironed; when she said, looking toward a faint light in the west, and as though the thought had just occurred to her, "It's going to break away, I see. Don't you think, mother, I had better just run over to Mrs. Walker's, and milk her cow for her?”

"Go to Miss Walker's!" repeated the mother, as though she were as much outraged as astonished. She was seated in the door, patching, by the waning light, an old pair of mud-spat

tered trousers, her own dress being very old-fashioned, coarse, and scanty, —so scant, in fact, as to reveal the angles of her form with ungraceful definiteness, especially the knees, that were almost suggestive of a skeleton, and now, as she put herself in position, as it were, stood up with inordinate prominence. Her hands were big in the joints, ragged in the nails, and marred all over with the cuts, burns, and scratches of indiscriminate and incessant toil. But her face was, perhaps, the most sadly divested of all womanly charm. It had, in the first place, the deep yellow, lifeless appearance of an old bruise, and was expressive of pain, irritation, and fanatical anxiety.

"Go to Miss Walker's!" she said again, seeing that Jenny was taking down from its peg in the kitchen-wall a woollen cloak that had been hers since she was a little girl, and her mother's before her.

"Yes, mother. You know John Walker is very sick, and Mrs. Walker has been sent for over there. She's very down-hearted about him. He's danger

ous, they think; and I thought may be I'd come round that way as I come home, and ask how he was. Don't you think I'd better?"


"I think you had better stay at home and tend to your own business. You'll spile your clothes, and do no good that I can see by traipsin' out in such a storm." 'Why, you would think it was bad for one of our cows to go without milking," Jenny said, "and I suppose Mrs. Walker's cow is a good deal like ours, and she is giving a pailful of milk now."

"How do you know so much about Miss Walker's cow? If you paid more attention to things at home, and less to other folks, you'd be more dutiful.”

"That's true, mother, but would I be any better?"

"Not in your own eyes, child; but your 're so much wiser than your father and me, that words are throwed away on you."

"I promised Mrs. Walker that I would milk for her to-night," Jen

ny said, hesitating, and dropping her on the ground with its burden, — they eyes.

seemed, somehow, brighter than the “O yes, you 've always got some roses at home, — and, with them swingexcuse! What did you make a prom- ing in her hand, had wellnigh gained the ise for, that you knowed your father door, before she perceived that it was would n't approve of ? Take your standing open. She hesitated an inthings right off now, and peel the po- stant, — perhaps some crazy wanderer taters, and sift the meal for mush in or drunken person might have entered the morning; an' if Miss Walker's cow the house, — when brisk steps, coming must be milked, what's to hender that up the path that led from the milkingHobe, the great lazy strapper, should n't yard, arrested her attention, and, lookgo and milk her ? ?"

ing that way, she recognized through “You forget how much he has to do the darkness young Hobert Walker, at home now; and one pair of hands with the full pail in his hand. can't do everything, even if they are “O Jenny,” he said, setting down Hobert Walker's !”

the pail, “we are in such trouble at Jenny had spoken with much spirit home! The doctor says father is betand some bitterness; and the bright de- ter, but I don't think so, and I ain't satfiant flush, before noticed, came into isfied with what is being done for him. her face, as she untied the cloak and Besides, I had such a strange dream, proceeded to sift the meal and peel the I thought I met you, Jenny, alone, in potatoes for breakfast. She did her the night, and you had six red roses in work quietly, but with a determination your hand, – let me see how many have in every movement that indicated a you.” He had come close to her, and will not easily overruled.

he now took the roses and counted It was nearly dark, and the rain still them. There were six, sure enough. persistently falling, when she turned “Humph !” he said, and went on. the potato-peelings into the pig-trough “Six red roses, I thought; and while I that stood only a few yards from the looked at them they turned white as door, and, returning, put the cloak about snow; and then it seemed to me it was her shoulders, tied it deliberately, a shroud you had in your hand, and turned the hood over her head, and, not roses at all ; and you, seeing how I without another word, walked straight was frightened, said to me, “What if it out into the rain.

should turn out to be my wedding"Well, I must say! Well, I must dress ?' And while we talked, your say !” cried the mother, in exasperated father came between us, and led you astonishment. “What on airth is that away by a great chain that he put girl a-comin' to ?” And, resting her round your neck. But you think all elbows on her knees, she leaned her this foolish, I see.” And, as if he yellow face in her hands, and gathered feared the apprehension he had conout of her hard, embittered heart such fessed involved some surrender of consolation as she could.

manhood, he cast down his eyes, and Jenny, meantime, tucked up her pet- awaited her reply in confusion. She ticoats, and, having left a field or two had too much tact to have noticed this between her and the homestead, tripped at any time; but in view of the serious lightly along, debating with herself circumstances in which he then stood, whether or not she should carry out her she could not for the life of her have will to the full, and return by the way turned any feeling of his into a jest, of Mr. John Walker's,—a question she however unwarranted she might have need hardly have raised, if unexpected felt it to be. events had not interfered with her pre- “My grandmother was a great bedeterminations. At Mrs. Walker's gate liever in dreams,” she said, sympathetishe stopped and pulled half a dozen ros- cally; " but she always thought they es from the bush that was almost lying went by contraries; and, if she was



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right, why, yours bodes ever so much the son of a poor man, and Jenny was good. But come, Hobert, let us go in- prospectively rich, and the faces of her to the house : it's raining harder." parents were set as flints against the

“ How stupid of me, Jenny, not to poor young man. But Jenny had said remember that you were being drowned, in her heart more than once that she almost! You must try to excuse me: I would marry him ; and if the old folks am really hardly myself to-night.” had known this, they might as well have

“Excuse you, Hobert! As if you held their peace. Hobert did not dream could ever do anything I should not that she had talked thus to her heart, think was just right!” And she laughed and, with his constitutional timidity, he the little musical laugh that had been feared she would never say anything of ringing in his ears so long, and skipped the kind. Then, too, his conscientiousbefore him into the house.

ness stood in his way. Should he preHe followed her with better heart; sume to take her to his poor house, and, as she strained and put away the even if she would come ? No, no, he milk, and swept tho hearth, and set the must not think of it; he must work and house in order, he pleased himself with wait, and defer hope. This hour so fancies of a home of which she would opportune was also most inopportune, be always the charming mistress.

such sorrow at home! He would And who, that saw the sweet do- not speak to-night, - O no, not tomestic cheer she diffused through the night! And yet he could bear up house with her harmless little gossip against everything else, if she only about this and that, and the artfully cared for him! Such were his resolves, artless kindnesses to him she mingled as she passed to and fro before him, with all, could have blamed him ? trifling away the time with pretence of He was given to melancholy and to adjusting this thing and that; but at musing; his cheek was sometimes pale, last expedients failed, and reaching for and his step languid ; and he saw, all her cloak, which hung almost above too often, troublesome phantoms com- him as he sat against the wall, she said ing to meet him. This disposition in it was time to go. As frostwork disanother would have incited the keenest appears in the sunshine, so his brave ridicule in the mind of Jenny Bowen, but resolutions vanished when her arm in Hobert it was well enough; nay, reached across his shoulder, and the more, it was actually fascinating, and ribbon that tied her beads fluttered she would not have had him otherwise. against his cheek. With a motion These characteristics — for her sake quite involuntary, he snatched her we will not say weaknesses — constant- hand. “No, Jenny, not yet, — not quite ly suggested to her how much she

yet !” he said. could be to him, — she who was so “ And why not?” demanded Jenny; strong in all ways, - in health, in hope, for could any woman, however innoand in enthusiasm. And for him it cent, or rustic, be without her little was joy enough to look upon her full coquetries ? And she added, in a tone bright cheek, to see her compact little that contradicted her words, “I am figure before him; but to touch her sure I should not have come if I had dimpled shoulder, to feel one tress of known you were coming !” her hair against his face, was ecstasy ; “I dare say not,” replied Hobert, in and her voice,- the tenderest trill of the a voice so sad and so tender withal, wood-dove was not half so delicious! as to set the roses Jenny wore in her But who shall define the mystery of bosom trembling. “I dare say not, love? They were lovers; and when we indeed. I would not presume to hope have said that, is there anything more you would go a step out of your way to to be said? Their love had not, how- give me pleasure ; only I was feeling ever, up to the time of which we write, so lonesome to-night, I thought may be found utterance in words. Hobert was - no, I did n't think anything; I cer

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tainly did n't hope anything. Well, Jenny, I want you to tell me the meanno matter, I am ready to go.” And ing of my dream ; and yet I am afraid he let go the hand he had been hold- you will interpret it as your granding, and stood up.

mother used to hers." It was Jenny's privilege to pout a Jenny laughed gayly. “That is just little now, and to walk sullenly and what I will do, dear Hobert,” she said; silently home, --so torturing herself “for she used to say that only bad and her honest - hearted lover ; but dreams went by contraries, and yours she was much too generous, much was the prettiest dream I ever heard." too noble, to do this. She would not The reply to this sweet interpreta for the world have grieved poor Ho- tion was after the manner of all lovers bert, - not then, - not when his heart since the world began. And so, for was so sick and so weighed down with getting the stern old folks at home, shadows ; and she told him this with a forgetting everything but each other, simple earnestness that admitted of no - they sat for an hour at the very gate doubt, concluding with, “I only wish, of heaven. How often Hobert called Hobert, I could say or do something her his sweetheart, and his rosebud, to comfort you."

and other fond names, we need not “ Then you will stay ? Just a mo- stop to enumerate : how often he said ment, Jenny!” And the hand was in that for her sake he could brave the winhis again.

ter storm and the summer heat, that she “Dear Jenny, - dear, dear Jenny!" should never know rough work nor sad She was sitting on his knee now; and days, but that she should be as tenderthe rain, with its pattering against the ly protected, as daintily cared for, as window, drowned their heart-beats; and any lady of them all, - how often he the summer darkness threw over them said all these things, we need not enuits sacred veil.

merate; nor need we say with what “Shall I tell you, darling, of another unquestioning trust, and deafness to dream I have had to-night -- since I all the suggestions of probability, Jenny have been sitting here?The fair believed. Does not love, in fact, always cheek bent itself close to his to lis- believe what it hopes ? Who would do ten, and he went on. “I have been away with the blessed insanity that dreaming, Jenny, a very sweet dream; clothes the marriage day with such enand this is what it was. You and I chantment? Who would dare to do were living here, in this house, with it? grandmother; and she was your grand- No royal mantle could have been admother as well as mine ; and I was justed with tenderer and more reverent farmer of the land, and you were mis- solicitude than was that night the coarse tress of the dairy; and the little room cloak about the shoulders of Jenny. with windows toward the sunrise, and The walk homeward was all too short ; the pretty bureau, and bed with snow- and whether the rain fell, or whether white coverlet and pillows of down, the moon were at her best, perhaps that was ” — perhaps he meant to say neither of them could have told until ours," but his courage failed him, and they were come within earshot of the with a charming awkwardness, he said, Bowen homestead ; then both suddenly " yours, Jenny,” and hurried on to speak stood still. Was it the arm of Jenny that of the door-yard flowers, and the gar- trembled so ? No, no! we must own den with its beds of thyme and mint, the truth, — it was the arm through its berry-bushes and hop-vines and bee- which hers was drawn. At her chamhives, — all of which were brighter and ber window, peering out curiously and sweeter than were ever hives and anxiously, was the yellow-white face of bushes in any other garden ; and when Mrs. Bowen; and, leaning over the he had run through the catalogue of gate, gazing up and down the road, the rustic delights, he said: “And now, rain falling on his bent shoulders and

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