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   Chapter 1 No.1

Horace Chase By Constance Fenimore Woolson Characters: 32555

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02

IN a mountain village of North Carolina, in the year 1873, the spring had opened with its accustomed beauty. But one day there came a pure cold wind which swept through the high valley at tremendous speed from dawn to midnight. People who never succumb to mere comfort did not relight their fires. But to the Franklin family comfort was a goddess, they would never have thought of calling her "mere"; "delightful" was their word, and Ruth would probably have said "delicious." The fire in Mrs. Franklin's parlor, therefore, having been piled with fresh logs at two o'clock as an offering to this deity, was now, at four, sending out a ruddy glow. It was a fire which called forth Ruth's highest approbation when she came in, followed by her dog, Petie Trone, Esq. Not that Ruth had been facing the blast; she never went out from a sense of duty, and for her there was no pleasure in doing battle with things that were disagreeable for the sake merely of conquering them. Ruth had come from her own room, where there was a fire also, but one not so generous as this, for here the old-fashioned hearth was broad and deep. The girl sat down on the rug before the blaze, and then, after a moment, she stretched herself out at full length there, with her head resting on her arm thrown back behind it.

"It's a pity, Ruth, that with all your little ways, you are not little yourself," remarked Dolly Franklin, the elder sister. "Such a whalelike creature sprawled on the floor isn't endearing; it looks like something out of Gulliver."

"It's always so," observed Mrs. Franklin, drowsily. "It's the oddest thing in the world-but people never will stay in character; they want to be something different. Don't you remember that whenever poor Sue Inness was asked to sing, the wee little creature invariably chanted, 'Here's a health to King Charles,' in as martial a voice as she could summon? Whereas Lucia Lewis, who is as big as a grenadier, always warbles softly some such thing as 'Call me pet names, dearest. Call me a bird.' Bird! Mastodon would do better."

"Mastodon?" Ruth commented. "It is evident, His Grand, that you have seen Miss Billy to-day!"

Ruth was not a whale, in spite of Dolly's assertion. But she was tall, her shoulders had a marked breadth, and her arms were long. She was very slender and supple, and this slenderness, together with her small hands and feet, took away all idea of majesty in connection with her, tall though she was; one did not think of majesty, but rather of girlish merriment and girlish activity. And girlish indolence as well. Mrs. Franklin had once said: "Ruth is either running, or jumping, or doing something in such haste that she is breathless; or else she is stretched out at full length on the carpet or the sofa, looking as though she never intended to move again!"

The girl had a dark complexion with a rich color, and hair that was almost black; her face was lighted by blue eyes, with long thick black lashes which made a dark fringe round the blue. The persons who liked Ruth thought her beautiful; they asserted that her countenance had in it something which was captivating. But others replied that though her friends might call her captivating if they pleased, since that word denotes merely a personal charm, they had no right to say that she was beautiful; for as regards beauty, there are well-defined rules, and, with the exception of her wonderful eyes, the face of the second Miss Franklin transgressed every one of these canons. Ruth's features were without doubt irregular. And especially was it true that her mouth was large. But the lips were exquisitely cut, and the teeth very white. Regarding her appearance as a whole, there was a fact which had not as yet been noticed, namely, that no man ever found fault with it; the criticism came always from feminine lips. And these critics spoke the truth; but they forgot, or rather they did not see, some of the compensations. There were people not a few, even in her own small circle, who did not look with favor upon Ruth Franklin; it was not merely, so they asserted, that she was heedless and frivolous, caring only for her own amusement, and sacrificing everything to that, for of many young persons this could be said; but they maintained in addition that hers was a disposition in its essence self-indulgent; she was indolent; she was fond of luxuries; she was even fond of "good eating"-an odd accusation to be brought against a girl of that age. In this case also the charges were made by feminine lips. And again it may be added that while these critics spoke the truth, or part of the truth, they did not, on the other hand, see some of the compensations.

"Why do you say 'poor Sue Inness,' His Grand?" inquired Dolly, in an expostulating tone. "Why do people always say 'poor' so-and-so, of any one who is dead? It is an alarmingly pitying word; as though the unfortunate departed must certainly be in a very bad place!"

"Here is something about the bishop," said Mrs. Franklin, who was reading a Raleigh newspaper in the intervals of conversation. Her tone was now animated. "He has been in Washington, and one of his sermons was-"

But she was interrupted by her daughters, who united their voices in a chant as follows:

"Mother Franklin thinks,

That General Jackson,

Jared the Sixth,

Macaroon custards,

And Bishop Carew,

Are per-fec-tion!"

Mrs. Franklin made no reply to these Gregorian assertions (which she had often heard before), save the remark, "You have torn your skirt, Ruth."

"Oh, please don't look at me over your glasses, His Grand. It spoils your profile so," answered Ruth; for Mrs. Franklin was surveying the skirt with her head bent forward and her chin drawn sharply in, so that her eyes could be brought to bear upon the rent over her spectacles.

She now drew off these aids to vision impatiently. "Whether I look through them or over them doesn't matter; you and Dolly are never satisfied. I cannot read the paper without my glasses; do you wish me to know nothing of the news of the world?"

"We'll tell you," responded Dolly, going on busily with her knitting. "For instance, to-day: Genevieve has had all the paint cleaned and all the windows washed; she is now breathing that righteous atmosphere of cold, fireless bleakness and soap which she adores. Miss Billy Breeze has admired everything that she can think of, because admiration is so uplifting. And she has written another page about the primeval world; now she-"

Here the door which led to the entrance-hall was opened with a jerk by Linda, a plump negro girl, who bounced in, ejaculated "Lady!" in a congratulatory tone, and then bounced out to act as usher for the incoming guest.

"Billy herself, probably," said Mrs. Franklin. "Ruth, are you stretched out there under the plea that you are not yet fully grown?"

But Ruth did not deem it necessary to leave her couch for Miss Billy Breeze. "Hail, Billy!" she said, as the visitor entered. "Mother thinks that I ought to be seated politely on the sofa; will you please imagine that I am there?"

"Oh, certainly," replied Miss Breeze, in a conciliatory tone. Miss Breeze lived under the impression that the members of this family quarrelled with each other almost incessantly; when she was present, therefore, she did her best to smooth over their asperities. "It is rather good for her, you know," she said reassuringly to Mrs. Franklin; "for it is a windy day, and Ruth is not robust." Then to Ruth: "Your mother naturally wishes you to look your best, my dear."

"Do you, His Grand?" inquired Ruth. "Because if you do, I must certainly stay where I am, so that I can tuck under me, very neatly, this rip in my skirt, which Miss Billy has not yet seen. Petie Trone, Esq., shake hands with the lady." The dog, a small black-and-tan terrier, was reposing on the rug beside Ruth; upon hearing her command, he trotted across to the visitor, and offered a tiny paw.

"Dear little fellow," said Miss Breeze, bending, and shaking it gently. "His Grand must allow that he looks extremely well?"

For the circle of friends had ended by accepting the legend (invented by Ruth) that Mrs. Franklin was Petie Trone's grandmother, or "His Grand." The only person who still held out against this title was Genevieve, the daughter-in-law; Mrs. Franklin the younger thought that the name was ridiculous. Her husband's family seemed to her incomprehensibly silly about their pets.

Miss Wilhelmina Breeze was thirty-five; but no one would have thought so from her fair pink-and-white complexion, and young, innocent eyes. From her earliest years she had longed to hear herself called "Wilhelmina." But the longing was almost never gratified; the boyish name given to her in joke when she was a baby had clung to her with the usual fatal tenacity.

"Miss Billy, have you seen mother to-day?" Dolly inquired.

"Not until now," answered the visitor, surprised.

"Well, then, have you thought of mastodons?"

"Certainly I have; and if you yourself, Dolly, would think more seriously of the whole subject, the primeval world-you would soon be as fascinated with it as I am. Imagine one of those vast extinct animals, Dolly, lifting his neck up a hill to nibble the trees on its top!" said Miss Breeze with enthusiasm. "And birds as large as chapels flying through the air! Probably they sang, those birds. What sort of voices do you suppose they had? The cave-lion was twenty-nine feet high. The horned tryceratops was seventy-five feet long! It elevates the mind even to think of them."

"You see, His Grand, that she has thought of mastodons," commented Dolly. "Your unexpected mention of them, therefore, is plainly the influence of her mind acting upon yours from a distance-the distance of the Old North Hotel."

"Have you really thought of them, dear Mrs. Franklin? And do you believe there can be such a thing as the conscious-I mean, of course, unconscious-influence of one mind upon another?" inquired Miss Billy, her face betraying a delighted excitement.

"No, no; it's only Dolly's nonsense," answered Mrs. Franklin.

"It's easy to say nonsense, His Grand. But how, then, do you account for the utterances of my planchette?" demanded Dolly, wagging her head triumphantly.

Dolly, the second of Mrs. Franklin's three children, was an invalid. The Franklins, as a family, were tall and dark, and Dolly was tall and dark also; her face, owing to the pain which frequently assailed her, was thin, worn, and wrinkled. She sat in a low easy-chair, and beside her was her own especial table, which held what she called her "jibs." These were numerous, for Dolly occupied herself in many ways. She sketched, she carved little knick-knacks, she played the violin; she made lace, she worked out chess problems, and she knitted; she also scribbled rhymes which her family called poetry. The mantel-piece of this parlor was adorned with a hanging which bore one of her verses, stitched in old English text, the work of her mother's needle:

"O Fire! in these dark frozen days

So gracious is thy red,

So warm thy comfort, we forget

The violets are dead."

The family thought this beautiful. Dolly's verses, her drawing and wood-carving, her lace-making and chess, were amateurish; her violin-playing was at times spirited, and that was the utmost that could be said of it. But her knitting was remarkable. She knitted nothing but silk stockings, and these, when finished, had a wonderful perfection. Dolly was accustomed to say of herself that in the heels of her stockings was to be found the only bit of conscience which she possessed.

When she mentioned planchette, her mother frowned. "I do not approve of such things."

"Yes, because you are afraid!" chuckled Dolly.

"Oh, anything that dear Mrs. Franklin does not approve of-" murmured Miss Billy.

Mrs. Franklin rose.

"His Grand is fleeing!" Dolly announced, gleefully.

"I must make the salad-dressing, mustn't I? Ruth will not touch Zoe's dressing. Billy, Mr. Chase is to dine with us to-day, informally; don't you want to stay and help us entertain him?" added the mistress of the house as she left the room.

"Dolly," suggested Ruth, from her place on the rug, "set planchette to work, and make it tell us secrets; make it tell us whether Miss Billy understands the true character of Achilles Larue!"

"She does not; I can tell her that without planchette," replied Dolly. "Only one person in the world has ever fully understood Achilles-had the strength to do it; and he died!"

"Yes, I know; I have heard Mr. Larue speak of that one friend," said Miss Billy, regretfully. "How unfortunate that he lost him!"

"Yes, baddish. And the term is quite in his own line," commented Dolly. "With him it is never warm, but warmish; the bluest sky is bluish; a June day, fairish; a twenty-mile walk, longish. In this way he is not committed to extravagant statements. When he is dead, he won't be more than deadish. But he's that now."

Mrs. Franklin, having made the salad-dressing (when she made it, it was always perfection), returned to the parlor. "Ruth, go and change your dress. Take Miss Billy with you, but take her to my room, not yours. For of course you will stay, Billy?"

"I don't think I'd better; I'm not dressed for the evening; and I said I should be back," answered Miss Breeze, hesitatingly.

"To whom did you say it? To the Old North? Run along," said Mrs. Franklin, smiling. "If it is shoes you are thinking of, as yours are muddy, Ruth can lend you a pair."

"That she cannot," remarked Dolly. "Buy Ruth six pairs of new shoes, and in six days all will be shabby. But you can have a pair of mine, Miss Billy."

When she was left alone with her elder daughter, Mrs. Franklin said: "Poor Billy! She is always haunted by the idea that she may possibly meet Achilles Larue here. She certainly will not meet him at the Old North, for he never goes near the place, in spite of her gentle invitations. But here there is always a chance, and I never can resist giving it to her, although in reality it is folly; he has never looked at her, and he never will."

"No. But you need not be anxious about her," replied Dolly; "she has the happy faculty of living in illusions, day after day. She can go on hopefully admiring Achilles to the last moment of her life, and I dare say she even thinks that he has a liking for her, little as he shows it. She has occult reasons for this belief; she would find them in a kick."

"Goose!" said Mrs. Franklin, dismissing Billy's virginal dreams with the matron's disillusioned knowledge. "Aren't you going to change your dress, Dolly?"

"Why? Am I not tidy as I am? I thought you considered me too tidy?" And it was true that the elder Miss Franklin was always a personification of rigid neatness; from the dark hair that shaded her tired face, to the shoes on her feet, all was severely orderly and severely plain.

"Oh, go, go!" answered her mother, impatiently.

Dolly screwed up her mouth, shook her head slowly, and laid her work aside; then she rose, and with her cane walked towards the door. On her way she stopped, and, bending, kissed her mother's forehead. "Some of these days, mother, I shall be beautiful. It will be during one of our future existences somewhere. It must be so, dear; you have earned it for me by your loving pity here." Nothing could exceed the tenderness of her tone as she said this.

Mrs. Franklin made no response beyond a little toss of her head, as though repudiating this account of herself. But after Dolly had left the room, a moisture gathered in the mother's eyes.

Ruth, meanwhile, had conducted Miss Billy to her own chamber.

"But Mrs. Franklin said I was to go to her room?" suggested the guest.

"She doesn't mind; she only meant that Bob is probably here," answered Ruth, as she opened the windows and threw back the blinds; for the afternoon was drawing towards its close.

Miss Billy took off her bonnet, and, after a moment's thought, hung it by its crown on a peg; in that position it did not seem possible that even Bob could make a resting-place within it. Bob was young and very small. He was beautiful or devilish according to on

e's view of flying-squirrels. But whether you liked him or whether you hated him, there was always a certain amount of interest in connection with the creature, because you could never be sure where he was. Miss Billy, who was greatly afraid of him, had given a quick look towards the tops of the windows and doors. There was no squirrel visible. But that was small comfort; Bob could hide himself behind a curtain-ring when he chose. One of the blinds came swinging to with a bang, and Ruth, reopening the window, struggled with it again. "There is Mr. Hill coming along the back street on Daniel," she said, pausing. "He is beckoning to me! What can he want? You will find shoes in the closet, Miss Billy, and don't wait for me; I am going down to speak to him." Away she flew, running lightly at full speed through the upper hall and down the back stairs, closely followed by Petie Trone, Esq.

Miss Billy closed the window and stood there for a moment looking out. Presently she saw Ruth at the stone wall at the end of the garden. She also recognized (with disapproving eyes) the unclerical hat of the Rev. Malachi Hill, who had stopped his horse in the road outside. He was talking to Ruth, who listened with her chin resting on her hands on the top of the wall, while the wind roughened her hair wildly, and blew out her skirts like a balloon. Miss Billy watched her for a while; then, after making her own preparations for the evening, she seated herself by the fire to wait. For no one could make Ruth come in one moment before she chose to do so; it seemed better, therefore, not to call attention to her absence by returning to the parlor alone, lest Mrs. Franklin should be made uneasy by knowing that the girl was out, bareheaded, in the cold wind. Having made her decision (Billy was always troubled, even upon the smallest occasion, by four or five different theories as to the best course to pursue), she looked about the room with the same wonder and gentle dislike which she had often felt before. The necessary articles of furniture were all set closely back against the wall, in order that the central space of the large chamber should be left entirely free. For Ruth did not like little things-small objects of any kind which required dusting, and which could be easily upset. Miss Billy, who adored little things, and who lived in a grove of them, thought the place dreadfully bare. There were no souvenirs; no photographs of friends in velvet frames; there were no small tables, brackets, screens, hanging shelves, little chairs, little boxes, little baskets, fans, and knick-knacks; there was not even a wall-calendar. With Miss Billy, the removal of the old leaf from her poetical calendar, and the reading of the new one each morning, was a solemn rite. And when her glance reached the toilet-table, her non-comprehension reached its usual climax. The table itself was plain and unadorned, but on its top was spread out a profuse array of toilet articles, all of ivory or crystal. That a girl so wholly careless about everything else should insist upon having so many costly and dainty objects for her personal use in the privacy of her own room seemed remarkable. "Give Ruth her bath in scented water, and all these ivory and crystal things to use when she dresses, and she is perfectly willing to go about in a faded, torn old skirt, a hat entirely out of fashion, shabby gloves, and worn-out shoes; in short, looking anyhow!" mused Billy, perplexed.

Down-stairs Mrs. Franklin was receiving another visitor. After Dolly's departure, Rinda had made a second irruptive entrance, with the announcement, "Gen'lem!" and Mr. Anthony Etheridge came in. Etheridge was a strikingly handsome man, who appeared to be about fifty-eight. He entered with light step and smiling face, and a flower in his coat.

"Ah, commodore, when did you return?" said Mrs. Franklin, giving him her hand.

"Two hours ago," answered Etheridge, bowing over it gallantly. "You are looking remarkably well, my dear madam. Hum-ha!" These last syllables were not distinct; Etheridge often made this little sound, which was not an ahem; it seemed intended to express merely a general enjoyment of existence-a sort of overflow of health and vitality.

"Only two hours ago? You have been all day in that horrible stage, and yet you have strength to pay visits?"

"Not visits; a visit. You are alone?"

"Only for the moment; Dolly and Ruth are dressing. We are expecting some one to dine with us-a new acquaintance, by-the-way, since you left; a Mr. Chase."

"Yes, Horace Chase; I knew he was here. I should like to kick him out!"

"Why so fierce?" said Mrs. Franklin, going on with her lamplighters. For the making of lamplighters from old newspapers was one of her pastimes.

"Of course I am fierce. We don't want fellows of that sort here; he will upset the whole place! What brought him?"

"He has not been well, I believe" ("That's one comfort! They never are," interpolated Etheridge), "and he was advised to try mountain air. In addition, he is said to be looking into the railroad project."

"Good heavens! Already? The one solace I got out of the war was the check it gave to the advance of those horrible rails westward; I have been in hopes that the locomotives would not get beyond Old Fort in my time, at any rate. Why, Dora, this strip of mountain country is the most splendid bit of natural forest, of nature undraped, which exists to-day between the Atlantic Ocean and the Rockies!"

"Save your eloquence for Genevieve, commodore."

"Hum-ha! Mrs. Jared, eh?"

"Yes; she knew Mr. Chase when he was a little boy; she says she used to call him Horrie. As soon as she heard that he was here, she revived the acquaintance; and then she introduced him to us."

"Does she like him?" asked Etheridge, with annoyance in his tone.

"I don't know whether she likes him or not; but she is hoping that he will do something that will increase the value of property here."

"It is intelligent of Mrs. Jared to be thinking of that already," said Etheridge, softening a little. "Perhaps if I owned land here, I should take another view of the subject myself! You too, Dora-you might make something?"

"No; we have no land save the garden, and the house is dreadfully dilapidated. Personally, I may as well confess that I should be glad to see the railroad arrive; I am mortally tired of that long jolting stage-drive from Old Fort; it nearly kills me each time I take it. And I am afraid I don't care for nature undraped so much as you do, commodore; I think I like draperies."

"Of course you do! But when you-and by you I mean the nation at large-when you perceive that your last acre of primitive forest is forever gone, then you will repent. And you will begin to cultivate wildness as they do abroad, poor creatures-plant forests and guard 'em with stone walls and keepers, by Jove! Horace Chase appears here as the pioneer of spoliation. He may not mean it; he does not come with an axe on his shoulder exactly; he comes, in fact, with baking-powder; but that's how it will end. Haven't you heard that it was baking-powder? At least you have heard of the powder itself-the Bubble? I thought so. Well, that's where he made his first money-the Bubble Baking-Powder; and he made a lot of it, too! Now he is in no end of other things. One of them is steamships; some of the Willoughbys of New York have gone in with him, and together they have set up a new company, with steamers running south-the Columbian Line."

"Yes, Genevieve explained it to us. But as he does not travel with his steamers round his neck, there remains for us, inland people as we are, only what he happens to be himself. And that is nothing interesting."

"Not interesting, eh?" said Etheridge, rather gratified.

"To my mind he is not. He is ordinary in appearance and manners; he says 'yes, ma'am,' and 'no, ma'am,' to me, as though I were a great-grandmother! In short, I don't care for him, and it is solely on Genevieve's account that I have invited him. For she keeps urging me to do it; she is very anxious to have him like Asheville. He has already dined with us twice, to meet her. But to-day he comes informally-a chance invitation given only this morning (and again given solely to please her), when I happened to meet him at the Cottage."

"How old is the wretch?"

"I don't know. Forty-four or forty-five."

"Quite impossible, then, that Mrs. Jared should have known him when he was a boy; she was not born at that time," commented Etheridge. "What she means, of course, is that she, as a child herself, called him 'Horrie.'"

Mrs. Franklin did not answer, and at this moment Dolly came in.

"Yes, I am well," she said, in reply to the visitor's greeting; "we are all well, and lazy. The world at large will never be helped much by us, I fear; we are too contented. Have you ever noticed, commodore, that the women who sacrifice their lives so nobly to help humanity seldom sacrifice one small thing, and that is a happy home? Either they do not possess such an article, or else they have spoiled it by quarrelling with every individual member of their families."

"Now, Dolly, no more of your sarcasms. Tell me rather about this new acquaintance of yours, this bubbling capitalist whom you have invented and set up in your midst during my unsuspecting absence," said Etheridge.

"You need not think, commodore, that you can make me say one word about him," answered Dolly, solemnly; "for I read in a book only the other day that a tendency to talk about other persons, instead of one's self, was a sure sign of advancing age. Young people, the book goes on to say, are at heart interested in nothing on earth but themselves and their own affairs; they have not the least curiosity about character or traits in general. As I wish to be considered young, I have made a vow to talk of nothing but myself hereafter. Anything you may wish to hear about me I am ready to tell you." Dolly was now attired in a velvet dress of dark russet hue, like the color of autumn oak leaves; this tint took the eye away somewhat from the worn look of her plain thin face. The dress, however, was eight years old, and the fashion in which it had been made originally had never been altered.

"The being interested in nothing but themselves, and their own doings and feelings, is not confined to young people," said Mrs. Franklin, laughing. "I have known a goodly number of their elders who were quite as bad. When these gentry hold forth, by the hour, about their convictions and their theories, their beliefs and disbeliefs, their likings and dislikings, their tastes and their principles, their souls, their minds, and their bodies-if, in despair, you at last, by way of a change, turn the conversation towards some one else, they become loftily silent. And they go away and tell everybody, with regret of course, that you are hopelessly given to gossip! Gossip, in fact, has become very valuable to me; I keep it on hand, and pour it forth in floods, to drown those egotists out."

"When you gossip, then, I shall know that I bore you," said Etheridge, rising, "I mustn't do so now; I leave you to your Bubble. Mrs. Jared, I suppose, will be with you this evening? I ask because I had thought of paying her a how-do-you-do visit, later."

"Pay it here, commodore," suggested Mrs. Franklin. "Perhaps you would like to see her 'Horrie' yourself?"

"Greatly, greatly. I am always glad to meet any of these driving speculators who come within my reach. For it makes me contented for a month afterwards-contented with my own small means-to see how yellow they are! Not a man jack of them who hasn't a skin like guinea gold." Upon this point the commodore could enlarge safely, for no color could be fresher and finer than his own.

After he had gone, Mrs. Franklin said: "Imagine what he has just told me-that Genevieve could not possibly have known Horace Chase when he was a boy, because she is far too young!" And then mother and daughter joined in a merry laugh.

"It would be fun to tell him that she was forty on her last birthday," said Dolly.

"He would never believe you; he would think that you fibbed from jealousy," answered Mrs. Franklin. "As you are dressed, I may as well go and make ready myself," she added, rising. "I have been waiting for Ruth; I cannot imagine what she is about."

This is what Ruth was about-she was rushing up the back stairs in the dark, breathless. When she reached her room, she lit the candles hastily. "You still here, Miss Billy? I supposed you had gone down long ago." She stirred the fire into a blaze, and knelt to warm her cold hands. "Such fun! I have made an engagement for us all, this evening. You can never think what it is. Nothing less than a fancy-dress procession at the rink for the benefit of the Mission. A man is carrying costumes across the mountains for some tableaux for a soldiers' monument at Knoxville; his wagon has broken down, and he is obliged to stay here until it is mended. Mr. Hill has made use of this for the Mission. Isn't it a splendid idea? He has been rushing about all the afternoon, and he has found twenty persons who are willing to appear in fancy dress, and he himself is to be an Indian chief, in war-paint and feathers."

"In war-paint and feathers? Oh!"

"Yes. It seems that he has a costume of his own. He had it when he was an insurance agent, you know, before he entered the ministry; he was always fond of such things, he says, and the costume is a very handsome one; when he wore it, he called himself Big Moose."

"Big Moose! It must be stopped," said Miss Billy, in a horrified voice. For Miss Billy had the strictest ideas regarding the dignity of the clergy.

"On the contrary, I told him that it would be a great attraction, and that it was his duty to do all he could," declared Ruth, breaking into one of her intense laughs. Her laugh was not loud, but when it had once begun it seemed sometimes as if it would never stop. At present, as soon as she could speak, she announced, "We'll all go."

"Do not include me," said Miss Billy, with dignity. "I think it shocking, Ruth. I do indeed."

"Oh, you'll be there," said Ruth, springing up, and drawing Miss Billy to her feet. "You'll put on roller-skates yourself, and go wheeling off first this way, then that way, with Achilles Larue." And, as she said this, she gleefully forced her visitor across the floor, now in a long sweep to the right, now to the left, with as close an imitation of skating as the circumstances permitted.

While they were thus engaged, Mrs. Franklin opened the door. "What are you doing? Ruth-not dressed yet?"

"I'm all ready, His Grand," responded Ruth, running across the room and pouring water into the basin in a great hurry. "I have only to wash my hands" (here she dashed lavender into the water); "I'll be down directly."

"And we shall all admire you in that torn dress," said her mother.

"Never mind, I'll pin it up. Nobody will see it at dinner, under the table. And after dinner my cloak will cover it-for we are all going out."

"Going out this windy evening? Never! Are you ready, Billy? And Ruth, you must come as you are, for Mr. Chase is already here, and Rinda is bringing in the soup."

"Never fear, His Grand. I'll come."

And come she did, two minutes later, just as she was, save that her wind-roughened hair had been vaguely smoothed, and fastened down hastily with large hair-pins placed at random. Owing to her hurry, she had a brilliant color; and seeing, as she entered, the disapproving expression in her mother's eyes, she was seized with the idea of making, for her own amusement, a stately sweeping courtesy to Horace Chase; this she accordingly did, carrying it off very well, with an air of majesty just tempered at the edges with burlesque.

Chase, who had risen, watched this salutation with great interest. When it was over, he felt it incumbent upon him, however, to go through, in addition, the more commonplace greeting. "How do you do, Miss Ruth?" he said, extending his hand. And he gave the tips of her fingers (all she yielded to him) three careful distinct shakes.

Then they went to dinner.

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