‘Most reemarkable!’ said David Brower.
‘Treemenjious!’ exclaimed Uncle Eb.
‘I heard about it over at the mills t’day,’ said Tip Taylor.
‘Merd Dieu!’ exclaimed Grandma Bisnette, crossing herself.
Elizabeth Brower was unable to stem this tide of enthusiasm. I had tried to stop it, but, instantly, it had gone beyond my control. If I could be hurt by praise the mischief had been done.
‘It’s very nice, indeed,’ said she soberly. ’I do hope it won’t make him conceited. He should remember that people do not always mean what they say.’
‘He’s too sensible for that, mother,’ said David.
‘Shucks!’ said Uncle Eb, ‘he ain’ no fool if he is a good speller — not by a dum sight!’
‘Tip,’ said David, ’you’ll find a box in the sleigh ’at come by express. I wish ye’d go’n git it.’
We all stood looking while Tip brought it in and pried off the top boards with a hatchet.
‘Careful, now!’ Uncle Eb cautioned him. ‘Might spile sumthin’.’
The top off, Uncle Eb removed a layer of pasteboard. Then he pulled out a lot of coloured tissue paper, and under that was a package, wrapped and tied. Something was written on it. He held it up and tried to read the writing.
‘Can’t see without my spectacles,’ he said, handing it to me.
‘For Hope,’ I read, as I passed it to her.
‘Hooray!’ said Uncle Eb, as he lifted another, and the last package, from the box.
‘For Mrs Brower,’ were the words I read upon that one.
The strings were cut, the wrappers torn away, and two big rolls of shiny silk loosened their coils on the table. Hope uttered a cry of delight. A murmur of surprise and admiration passed from one to another. Elizabeth lifted a rustling fold and held it to the lamplight We passed our hands over the smooth sheen of the silk.
‘Wall, I swan!’ said Uncle Eb. ‘Jes’ like a kitten’s ear!’
‘Eggzac’ly!’ said David Brower.
Elizabeth lifted the silk and let it flow to her feet Then for a little she looked down, draping it to her skirt and moving her foot to make the silk rustle. For the moment she was young again.
‘David,’ she said, still looking at the glory of glossy black that covered her plain dress.
‘Well, mother,’ he answered.
‘Was you fool enough t’ go’n buy this stuff fer me?’
‘No, mother — it come from New York City,’ he said.
‘From New York City?’ was the exclamation of all.
Elizabeth Brower looked thoughtfullyy at her husband.
‘Clear from New York City?’ she repeated.
‘From New York City,’ said he.
‘Wall, of all things!’ said Uncle Eb, looking over his spectacles from one to another.
‘It’s from the Livingstone boy,’ said Mrs Brower. ’I’ve heard he’s the son of a rich man.’
‘’Fraid he took a great fancy t’ Hope,’ said David.