“I always think of old people as being the soft shadows that sturdy little children cast on the wall. They are a part of the day and sunshine, but just protected by the young folks that come between them and the direct rays. They are strangely like flowers, too, with their quaint fragrance. Aunt Viney is my tall purple flag, but Aunt Amandy is my bed of white cinnamon pinks. I—I want to keep them in bloom for always. I can’t let myself think—that I can’t.” Rose Mary’s voice trembled into a laugh as she caught a trailing wisp of honeysuckle and pressed a bunch of its buds to her lips.
“You’ll keep them, Rose Mary. You could keep anything you—you really wanted,” said Everett in a guardedly comforting voice. “And what are Mr. Alloway and Stonie in your flower garden?” he asked in a bantering tone.
“Oh, Uncle Tucker is the briar rose hedge all around the place, and Stonie is all the young shoots that I’m trying to prune and train up just like him,” answered Rose Mary with a quick laugh. “You’re my new-fashioned crimson-rambler from out over the Ridge that I’m trying to make grow in my garden,” she added, with a little hint of both audacity and tenderness in her voice.
“I’m rooted all right,” answered Everett quickly, as he blew a puff of smoke at her. “And you, Rose Mary, are the bloom of every rose-bush that I ever saw anywhere. You are, I verily believe, the only and original Rose of the World.”
“Oh, no,” answered Rose Mary lifting her long lashes for a second’s glance at him; “I’m just the Rose of these Briars. Don’t you know all over the world women are blooming on lovely tall stems, where they have planted themselves deep in home places and are drinking the Master’s love and courage from both sun and rain. But if we don’t go to rest some you’ll wilt, Rambler, and I’ll shatter. Be sure and take the glass of cream I put by your bed. Good night and good dreams!”
AT THE COURT OF DAME NATURE
“Well, Rose Mary,” said Uncle Tucker as he appeared in the doorway of the milk-house and framed himself against an entrancing, mist-wreathed, sun-up aspect of Sweetbriar with a stretch of Providence Road winding away to the Nob and bending caressingly around red-roofed Providence as it passed over the Ridge, “there are forty-seven new babies out in the barn for you this morning. Better come on over and see ’em!” Uncle Tucker’s big eyes were bright with excitement, his gray lavender muffler, which always formed a part of his early morning costume, flew at loose ends, and a rampant, grizzly lock stuck out through the slit in the old gray hat.
“Gracious me, Uncle Tuck, who now?” demanded Rose Mary over a crock of milk she was expertly skimming with a thin, old, silver ladle.
“Old White has hatched out a brood of sixteen, assorted black and white, that foolish bronze turkey hen just come out from under the woodpile with thirteen little pesters, Sniffer has got five pups—three spots and two solids—and Mrs. Butter has twin calves, assorted sex this time. They are spry and hungry and you’d better come on over!”