“But mine looks more like Martha’s, doesn’t it, mother?” pleaded patient Richard, who, though the threads were drawn and gathered, had kept to the regular one up and one down throughout.
Then the signal of the smoke arose against the opal of the twilight sky, and we went out hand in hand, all three happy, to meet our breadwinner.
Late that night, when all the household slept, I added a little package to my treasures in the attic desk,—two long stockings with queer darned knees,—and upon the paper band that bound them is written a date and “The Sweating of the Corn.”
A WAYSIDE COMEDY
May 5th. Madame Etiquette has entered this peaceful village. Not, however, as the court lady of the old French regime, but travelling in the wake of the Whirlpoolers under dubious aliases, being sometimes called Good Form and at other The Correct Thing. At present she is having a hand-to-hand encounter with New England Prejudice, a once stalwart old lady of firm will, but now considerably weakened by age and the incessant arguing of her great-grandchildren.
The result of the conflict is quite uncertain, for actually even the Sunday question hangs in the balance; while the spectacle is most amusing to the outsider and embarrassing to the referees.
Father, seeing through medical eyes, regards the matter merely in the light of a mild epidemic. Evan is rather sarcastic; he much preferred garden quiet and smoking his evening pipe to the tune of soothing conversation concerning the rural days’ doings, to the reflex anxiety of settling social problems. In these, lo and behold, I find myself unwillingly involved, for one New England habit has not been abandoned—that of consulting the wife of minister and doctor, even if holes are afterward picked in the result, and in this case a daughter stands in the wife’s place.
The beginning was two years back, when the Bluff colony began to be an, object of speculation, followed in turn by censure, envy, and finally aspiration that has developed this spring into an outbreak of emulation.
Ever since I can remember, social life has moved along quite smoothly hereabout, the doings being regulated by the age and purses of the participants. The householders who went to the city for a few winter months were a little more precise in their entertaining than the born and bred country folk. As they commonly dined at night, they asked people to dinner rather than to supper, which is the country meal of state. But lawn parties, picnics, and clambakes at the shore were pretty much on the same scale, those who could afford it having music and employing a caterer, while those who could not made no secret of the cause, and felt neither jealous nor humiliated. A wagon load of neighbourly young people might go on a day’s excursion uncriticised, without thought of dragging a mother or aunt in their wake as chaperon. In fact, though no one is more particular than father in matters of real propriety, I cannot remember being formally chaperoned in my life or of suffering a shadow of annoyance for the lack.