Allen, relegated for a time to a sanatorium in the Adirondacks, amused himself by telegraphing to Marian daily; and he usually managed to time a message to reach Mrs. Owen’s Sunday dinner table with characteristic remembrances for all who might be in her house. To Dan he wrote a letter commending his course in the legislature.
“I always knew you would get on Dad’s side one of these days. The Great Experiment is making headway. Don’t worry about me. I’m going to live to be a hundred. There’s really nothing the matter with my lungs, you know. Dad just wanted an excuse to come up here himself (mother and the girls used me as an excuse for years, you remember). He’s doing big stunts tramping over the hills. You remember that good story Ware told us that night up in the house-boat? You wouldn’t think Dad would have so much curiosity, but he’s been over there to look at that place Ware told about. He’s left me now to go down to New York to see the lights. . . . I’m taking quite a literary turn. You know, besides Emerson and those chaps who camped with him up here, Stevenson was here, too,—good old R.L.S.!”
Several times Sylvia, Marian, and Dan collaborated in a Sunday round robin to Allen, in the key of his own exuberances.
“We’ll finish the peaches to-night, and call it a day’s work,” remarked Mrs. Owen. “Sylvia, you’d better give another turn to the covers on those last jars. There’s nothing takes the heart out of a woman like opening a can of fruit in January and finding mould on top. There, Annie, that’s enough cinnamon. Put in too much and your peaches will taste like a drug store.”
Spicy odors floated from the kitchen of Mrs. Owen’s house on Waupegan. The August afternoon sun struck goldenly upon battalions of glasses and jars in the broad, screened veranda, an extension of the kitchen itself. The newly affixed labels announced peach, crab-apple, plum, and watermelon preserves (if the mention of this last item gives you no thrill, so much the worse for you!); jellies of many tints and flavors, and tiny cucumber pickles showing dark green amid the gayer colors. Only the most jaded appetite could linger without sharp impingements before these condensations and transformations of the kindly fruits of the earth.
In Mrs. Owen’s corps of assistants we recognize six young women from Elizabeth House—for since the first of July Elizabeth House has been constantly represented on Waupegan, girls coming and going in sixes for a fortnight at the farm. Mrs. Owen had not only added bedrooms to the rambling old farmhouse to accommodate these visitors, but she had, when necessary, personally arranged with their employers for their vacations.