We used to think of the sunset all the day through, wondering what new glory it would spread for us, and gathering eagerly to see, as for the witnessing of a pageant.
The moon was young, for our first delight; and the evening planet hung close by; they dropped down through the gold together, till they touched the very rim of the farthest possible horizon; when they slid silently beneath, we caught our suspended breath.
“But the curtain isn’t down,” said Barbara, after a hush.
No. The great scene was all open, still. Wide from north to south stretched the deep, sweet heaven, full of the tenderest tints and softliest creeping shadows; the tree-fringes stood up against it; the gentle winds swept through, as if creatures winged, invisible, went by; touched, one by one, with glory, the stars burned on the blue; we watched as if any new, unheard-of wonder might appear; we looked out into great depths that narrow daylight shut us in from. Daylight was the curtain.
“We’ve got the best balcony seats, haven’t we, father?” Barbara said again, coming to where Mr. Holabird sat, and leaning against the railing.
“The front row, and season tickets!”
“Every one, all summer. Only think!” said Ruth.
“Pho! You’ll get used to it,” answered Stephen, as if he knew human nature, and had got used himself to most things.
“What day of the month is it?” asked Mrs. Holabird, looking up from her letter.
“How do you always know the day of the month?” said Rosamond. “You are as pat as the almanac. I have to stop and think whether anything particular has happened, to remember any day by, since the first, and then count up. So, as things don’t happen much out here, I’m never sure of anything except that it can’t be more than the thirty-first; and as to whether it can be that, I have to say over the old rhyme in my head.”
“I know how she tells,” spoke up Stephen. “It’s that thing up in her room,—that pious thing that whops over. It has the figures down at the bottom; and she whops it every morning.”
“What do you try to tease her for?” said Mrs. Holabird.
“It doesn’t tease her. She thinks it’s funny. She laughed, and you only puckered.”
Ruth laughed again. “It wasn’t only that,” she said.
“Well, what then?”
“To think you knew.”
“Knew! Why shouldn’t I know? It’s big enough.”
“Yes,—but about the whopping. And the figures are the smallest part of the difference. You’re a pretty noticing boy, Steve.”
Steve colored a little, and his eye twinkled. He saw that Ruth had caught him out.
“I guess you set it for a goody-trap,” he said. “Folks can’t help reading sign-boards when they go by. And besides, it’s like the man that went to Van Amburgh’s. I shall catch you forgetting, some fine day, and then I’ll whop the whole over for you.”