But then, unfortunabitcoin kaufen ebaytely, this led to a fresh mystification.
"Oh, stop! Or Iripple coin kaufen shall think that you're bewitched yourself.""I truly begin to think I am."
"Oh, well! Since we all and everything are affected in the same way, it don't matter.""But it does. It's unaccountable. I'm beginning to rub my eyes and pinch myself to wake up.""If you like it, I wouldn't wake up.""Suppose I did, and saw Mrs. Mumpson sitting where you do, Jane here, and Mrs. Wiggins smoking her pipe in the corner. The very thought makes me shiver. My first words would be, 'Please pass the cold p'ison.'""What nonsense you are talking tonight!" she tried to say severely, but the pleased, happy look in her eyes betrayed her. He regarded her with the open admiration of a boy, and she sought to divert his attention by asking, "What do you think has become of Jane?"
"I don't know--stealing around like a strange cat in some relation's house, I suppose.""You once said you would like to do something for her.""But you're always a-doing. Well, if you're content, I haven't Christian fortitude enough to make any changes."
She smiled and thought that she was more than content. She had begun to detect symptoms in her husband which her own heart enabled her to interpret. In brief, it looked as if he were drifting on a smooth, swift tide to the same haven in which she was anchored.One unusually warm morning for the season, rain set in after breakfast. Holcroft did not fret in the least that he could not go to the fields, nor did he, as had been his custom at first, find rainy-day work at the barn. The cows, in cropping the lush grass, had so increased their yield of milk that it was necessary to churn every other day, and Alida was busy in the dairy. This place had become inviting by reason of its coolness, and she had rendered it more so by making it perfectly clean and sweet. Strange to say, it contained another chair besides the one she usually occupied. The apartment was large and stone-flagged. Along one side were shelves filled with rows of shining milk-pans. In one corner stood the simple machinery which the old dog put in motion when tied upon his movable walk, and the churn was near. An iron pipe, buried deep in the ground, brought cool spring water from the brook above. This pipe emptied its contents with a low gurgle into a shallow, oblong receptacle sunk in the floor, and was wide and deep enough for two stone crocks of ample size to stand abreast up to their rims in the water. The cream was skimmed into these stone jars until they were full, then Holcroft emptied them into the churn. He had charged Alida never to attempt this part of the work, and indeed it was beyond her strength. After breakfast on churning days, he prepared everything and set the dog at work. Then he emptied the churn of the buttermilk when he came in to dinner.All the associations of the place were pleasant to Alida. It was here that her husband had shown patience as well as kindness in teaching her how to supplement his work until her own experience and judgment gave her a better skill than he possessed. Many pleasant, laughing words had passed between them in this cool, shadowy place, and on a former rainy morning he had brought a chair down that he might keep her company. She had not carried it back, nor was she very greatly surprised to see him saunter in and occupy it on the present occasion. She stood by the churn, her figure outlined clearly in the light from the open door, as she poured in cold water from time to time to hasten and harden the gathering butter. Her right sleeve was rolled well back, revealing a white arm that was becoming beautifully plump and round. An artist would have said that her attitude and action were unconsciously natural and graceful. Holcroft had scarcely the remotest idea of artistic effect, but he had a sensible man's perception of a charming woman when she is charming."Mr. Holcroft," she asked very gravely, "will you do something for me?"
"Yes, half a dozen things.""You promise?"
"Certainly! What's the trouble?""I don't mean there shall be any if I can help it," she answered with a light ripple of laughter. "Please go and put on your coat.""How you've humbugged me! It's too hot.""Oh, you've got to do it; you promised. You can't stay here unless you do."
"So you are going to take care of me as if I were a small boy?""You need care--sometimes."He soon came back and asked, "Now may I stay?""Yes. Please untie the dog. Butter's come."
"I should think it would, or anything else at your coaxing.""Oh-h, what a speech! Hasn't that a pretty golden hue?" she asked, holding up a mass of the butter she was ladling from the churn into a wooden tray.
"Yes, you are making the gilt-edge article now. I don't have to sell it to Tom Watterly any more.""I'd like to give him some, though."
He was silent, and something like sudden rage burned in his heart that Mrs. Watterly would not permit the gift. That anyone should frown on his having such a helper as Alida was proving herself to be, made him vindictive. Fortunately her face was turned away, and she did not see his heavy frown. Then, to shield her from a disagreeable fact, he said quickly, "do you know that for over a year I steadily went behind my expenses . And that your butter making has turned the tide already? I'm beginning to get ahead again.""I'm SO glad," and her face was radiant."Yes, I should know that from your looks. It's clearer every day that I got the best of our bargain. I never dreamed, though, that I should enjoy your society as I do--that we should become such very good friends. That wasn't in the bargain, was it?""Bargain!" The spirited way with which she echoed the word, as if thereby repudiating anything like a sordid side to their mutual relations, was not lost on her wondering and admiring partner. She checked herself suddenly. "Now let me teach YOU how to make butter," and with the tray in her lap, she began washing the golden product and pressing out the milk.He laughed in a confused delighted way at her piquant, half saucy manner as he watched her deft round arm and shapely hand."The farmers' wives in Oakville would say your hands were too little to do much."
"They would?" and she raised her blue eyes indignantly to his. "No matter, you are the one to say about that.""I say they do too much. I shall have to get Jane to help you."
"By all means! Then you'll have more society.""That was a home shot. You know how I dote on everybody's absence, even Jane's."
"You dote on butter. See how firm and yellow it's getting. You wouldn't think it was milk-white cream a little while ago, would you? Now I'll put in the salt and you must taste it, for you're a connoisseur.""A what?"
"Judge, then.""You know a sight more than I do, Alida.""I'm learning all the time.""So am I--to appreciate you."
"Listen to the sound of the rain and the water as it runs into the milk-cooler. It's like low music, isn't it?"Poor Holcroft could make no better answer than a sneeze.
"Oh-h," she exclaimed, "you're catching cold? Come, you must go right upstairs. You can't stay here another minute. I'm nearly through.""I was never more contented in my life."
"You've no right to worry me. What would I do if you got sick? Come, I'll stop work till you go.""Well then, little boss, goodbye."
With a half suppressed smile at his obedience Alida watched his reluctant departure. She kept on diligently at work, but one might have fancied that her thoughts rather than her exertions were flushing her cheeks.It seemed to her that but a few moments elapsed before she followed him, but he had gone. Then she saw that the rain had ceased and that the clouds were breaking. His cheerful whistle sounded reassuringly from the barn, and a little later he drove up the lane with a cart.She sat down in the kitchen and began sewing on the fine linen they had jested about. Before long she heard a light step. Glancing up, she saw the most peculiar and uncanny-looking child that had ever crossed her vision, and with dismal presentiment knew it was Jane.Chapter 28 Another Waif
It was indeed poor, forlorn little Jane that had appeared like a specter in the kitchen door. She was as wet and bedraggled as a chicken caught in a shower. A little felt hat hung limp over her ears; her pigtail braid had lost its string and was unraveling at the end, and her torn, sodden shoes were ready to drop from her feet. She looked both curiously and apprehensively at Alida with her little blinking eyes, and then asked in a sort of breathless voice, "Where's him?""Mr. Holcroft?"
Jane nodded."He's gone out to the fields. You are Jane, aren't you?"
Another nod."Oh, DEAR!" groaned Alida mentally; "I wish she hadn't come." Then with a flush of shame the thought crossed her mind, "She perhaps is a friendless and homeless as I was, and , and 'him' is also her only hope. "Come in, Jane," she said kindly, "and tell me everything."