Mark ray at Silverton.
The last day of summer was dying out in a fierce storm of rain which swept in sheets across the Silverton hills, hiding the pond from view, and beating the windows of the farmhouse, whose inmates were nevertheless unmindful of the storm save as they hoped the morrow would prove bright and fair, such as the day should be which brought them back their Katy. Nearly worn out with constant reference was her letter, the mother catching it up from time to time to read the part referring to herself, the place where Katy had told how blessed it would be “to rest again on mother’s bed,” just as she had often wished to do, “and hear mother’s voice;” the deacon spelling out by his spluttering tallow candle, with its long, smoky wick, what she had said of “darling old Uncle Eph,” and the rides into the fields which she should have with him; Aunt Betsy, too, reading mostly from memory the words: “Good old Aunt Betsy, with her skirts so limp and short, tell her she will look handsomer to me than the fairest belle at Newport;” and as often as Aunt Betsy read it she would ejaculate: “The land! what kind of company must the child have kept?” wondering next if Helen had never written of the hoop, for which she had paid a dollar, and which was carefully hung in her closet, waiting for the event of to-morrow, while the hem of her pongee had been let down and one breadth added to accommodate the hoop. On the whole, Aunt Betsy expected to make a stylish appearance before the little lady of whom she stood slightly in awe, always speaking of her to the neighbors as “My niece, Miss Cameron, from New York,” and taking good care to report what she had heard of “Miss Cameron’s” costly dress and the grandeur of her house, where the furniture of the best chamber cost over fifteen hundred dollars.
“What could it be—gold?” Aunt Betsy had asked in her simplicity, feeling an increased respect for Katy, and consenting the more readily to the change in her pongee, as suggested to her by Helen.
But that was for to-morrow when Katy came; to-night she only wore a dotted brown, whose hem just reached the top of her “bootees,” as she stood by the window, wondering, first, if the rain would ever stop, and wondering, secondly, where all them fish worms, squirming on the grass by the back door, did come from. Needn’t tell her they crawled out of the ground; she knew better—they rained from the clouds, though she should s’pose that somebody would sometime have catched one on their bunnet or umberill. Dammed if she didn’t mean to stand out o’ doors some day till she was wet to the skin, and see what would come, and having thus settled a way by which to decide the only question, except that of the “’Piscopal Church and its quirks,” on which she was still obstinate, Aunt Betsy went to strain the milk just brought by Uncle Ephraim, while Helen took her position near the window, looking drearily out upon the leaden clouds, and hoping it would brighten before the morrow. Like the others, Helen had read Katy’s letter many times, dwelling longest upon the part which said: “I have been so bad, so frivolous and wicked here at Newport, that it will be a relief to make you my confessor, depending, as I do, upon your love to grant me absolution.”