Darrel of the Blessed Isles eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 280 pages of information about Darrel of the Blessed Isles.

“If he would mind his business, we—­we might take him for one week,” said Miss S’mantha.  She glanced inquiringly at her sister.

Letitia and S’mantha Tower, “the two old maids,” had but one near relative—­Ezra Tower, a brother of the same neighbourhood.

There were two kinds of people in Faraway,—­those that Ezra Tower spoke to and those he didn’t.  The latter were of the majority.  As a forswearer of communication he was unrivalled.  His imagination was a very slaughter-house, in which all who crossed him were slain.  If they were passing, he looked the other way and never even saw them again.  Since the probate of his father’s will both sisters were of the number never spoken to.  He was a thin, tall, sullen, dry, and dusty man.  Dressed for church of a Sunday, he looked as if he had been stored a year in some neglected cellar.  His broadcloth had a dingy aspect, his hair and beard and eyebrows the hue of a cobweb.  He had a voice slow and rusty, a look arid and unfruitful.  Indeed, it seemed as if the fires of hate and envy had burned him out.

The two old maids, feeling the disgrace of it and fearing more, ceased to visit their neighbours or even to pass their own gate.  Poor Miss S’mantha fell into the deadly mire of hypochondria.  She often thought herself very ill and sent abroad for every medicine advertised in the county paper.  She had ever a faint look and a thin, sickly voice.  She had the man-fear,—­a deep distrust of men,—­never ceasing to be on her guard.  In girlhood, she had been to Albany, Its splendour and the reckless conduct of one Alma Haskins, companion of her travels, had been ever since a day-long perennial topic of her conversation.  Miss Letitia was more amiable.  She had a playful, cheery heart in her, a mincing and precise manner, and a sweet voice.  What with the cleaning, dusting, and preserving, they were ever busy.  A fly, driven hither and thither, fell of exhaustion if not disabled with a broom.  They were two weeks getting ready for the teacher.  When, at last, he came that afternoon, supper was ready and they were nearly worn out.

“Here he is!” one whispered suddenly from a window.  Then, with a last poke at her hair, Miss Letitia admitted the teacher.  They spoke their greeting in a half whisper and stood near, waiting timidly for his coat and cap.

“No, thank you,” said he, taking them to a nail.  “I can do my own hanging, as the man said when he committed suicide.”

Miss S’mantha looked suspicious and walked to the other side of the stove.  Impressed by the silence of the room, much exaggerated by the ticking of the clock, Sidney Trove sat a moment looking around him.  Daylight had begun to grow dim.  The table, with its cover of white linen, was a thing to give one joy.  A ruby tower of jelly, a snowy summit of frosted cake, a red pond of preserved berries, a mound of chicken pie, and a corduroy marsh of mince, steaming volcanoes of new biscuit, and a great heap of apple fritters, lay in a setting of blue china.  They stood a moment by the stove,—­the two sisters,—­both trembling in this unusual publicity.  Miss Letitia had her hand upon the teapot.

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Darrel of the Blessed Isles from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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