In the pear-tree.
Joyce was crying, up in old Monsieur Greville’s tallest pear-tree. She had gone down to the farthest corner of the garden, out of sight of the house, for she did not want any one to know that she was miserable enough to cry.
She was tired of the garden with the high stone wall around it, that made her feel like a prisoner; she was tired of French verbs and foreign faces; she was tired of France, and so homesick for her mother and Jack and Holland and the baby, that she couldn’t help crying. No wonder, for she was only twelve years old, and she had never been out of the little Western village where she was born, until the day she started abroad with her Cousin Kate.
Now she sat perched up on a limb in a dismal bunch, her chin in her hands and her elbows on her knees. It was a gray afternoon in November; the air was frosty, although the laurel-bushes in the garden were all in bloom.
“I s’pect there is snow on the ground at home,” thought Joyce, “and there’s a big, cheerful fire in the sitting-room grate.
“Holland and the baby are shelling corn, and Mary is popping it. Dear me! I can smell it just as plain! Jack will be coming in from the post-office pretty soon, and maybe he’ll have one of my letters. Mother will read it out loud, and there they’ll all be, thinking that I am having such a fine time; that it is such a grand thing for me to be abroad studying, and having dinner served at night in so many courses, and all that sort of thing. They don’t know that I am sitting up here in this pear-tree, lonesome enough to die. Oh, if I could only go back home and see them for even five minutes,” she sobbed, “but I can’t! I can’t! There’s a whole wide ocean between us!”
She shut her eyes, and leaned back against the tree as that desolate feeling of homesickness settled over her like a great miserable ache. Then she found that shutting her eyes, and thinking very hard about the little brown house at home, seemed to bring it into plain sight. It was like opening a book, and seeing picture after picture as she turned the pages.
There they were in the kitchen, washing dishes, she and Mary; and Mary was standing on a soap-box to make her tall enough to handle the dishes easily. How her funny little braid of yellow hair bobbed up and down as she worked, and how her dear little freckled face beamed, as they told stories to each other to make the work seem easier.
Mary’s stories all began the same way: “If I had a witch with a wand, this is what we would do.” The witch with a wand had come to Joyce in the shape of Cousin Kate Ware, and that coming was one of the pictures that Joyce could see now, as she thought about it with her eyes closed.