Meantime that modern church is still very modern indeed, and at this present time its pulpit is vacant—they are candidating!
“Margaret, do stop that horrid screeching! You make my head fairly snap.” The music suddenly ceased. The sharp voice came from the pantry, and belonged to Margaret’s mother, Mrs. Murray. She stood before her moulding board weighing out chopped raisins, currants, flour, butter, and all the other ingredients that go to make a fruit-cake. The deep-cut frown between her eyes, the worried expression, and the tightly-shut lips told their own story.
The singer stood at the kitchen-table washing the breakfast dishes—a pretty picture, with her sixteen years just blossoming into pink cheeks and bright eyes—a trim and dainty figure even in her simple dark print and white apron. She looked so happy and caroled forth her song so gaily, while she wiped the delicate china cups on the soft towel. If her mother could but have seen her, would she so rudely have jarred the bright spirit? And this was Margaret. She, too, could frown; now the straight black brows drew themselves together in an ugly way on the white forehead, the cheeks took a deeper pink, and the bright eyes had a snap in them. She flung the cups on the table in place of the almost loving touches she had bestowed upon them. The clatter went on, and at last a luckless cup reeled, and rolled to the very edge of the table, and—off it went! shivering into many fragments. This brought Mrs. Murray to the pantry door.
“Well, I never saw anything like you for carelessness,” she said in a high-keyed voice.
“There goes another of that set! You were vexed, or that wouldn’t have happened. I heard how you slammed about after I spoke to you. Now pick up the pieces and go away. I will wash them myself.”
Every nerve in the girl’s body fairly quivered. Her mother had touched her on a tender point. She had been drilled by her music-teacher for a long time on the high notes of a difficult piece of music, and she had just succeeded in trilling it out to her own satisfaction and delight, when she was startled by her mother’s voice. Poor Margaret! She had a hot temper, and when the severe reprimand for her carelessness was added, she felt so angry and disgraced that she would have said many a word to repent of, but happily she could not control her voice to speak. Every time she attempted it, a choking sob stood right in the doorway, and would not let the wicked words out.
Mrs. Murray was a pattern housekeeper, a model of neatness. Everything in her house shone, from the parlour windows to the kitchen stove. Her cake was always light, her bread sweet. No table could compare with hers for delicious variety. Her housekeeping was a fine art, before which everything else was made to bow. Her parlour was made most attractive in all its appointments, and everything that goes to make a pleasant home was lavishly supplied by her husband; yet a more uncomfortable family it would be hard to find.