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   Chapter 2 No.2

Through stained glass By George Agnew Chamberlain Characters: 5549

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


Ann Sutherland Leighton was one of those rare religionists that occasionally bloom in a most unaccountable manner on a family tree having its roots in the turf rather than clinging to Plymouth Rock. Isaac Sutherland, her father, had been knowing in horse-flesh, and would have looked askance on the Reverend Orme Leighton as a suitor had he not also been knowing in men. The truth was that in Leighton the man was bigger than the parson, and to the conceded fact that all the world loves a lover he added the prestige of the less-bandied truth that all the world loves a fighter. He, also, knew horse-flesh. He finally won Ann's father over on the day when Ike Sutherland learned to his cost that the Reverend Orme could discern through the back of his head that distension of the capsular ligament of the hock commonly termed a bog spavin.

Ann did not share her husband's extreme views. It was a personal loyalty that had brought her uncomplaining to a far country, unbuoyed by the Reverend Orme's dreams of a new state, but seeking with an inward fervidness some scene of lasting peace wherewith to blot out the memory of long years of turmoil and wholesale bereavement.

To her those first years in Consolation Cottage were long-long with the weight of six thousand miles from home. Then, with the suddeness of answered prayer, a light came into her darkness. He was named Shenton. Mammy's broad, homesick face broke into an undying smile. "Sho is mo' lak ole times, Mis' Ann, havin' a young Marster abeout." And when, two years later, on a Christmas day, Natalie was born, Mammy mixed smiles with tears and sobbed, "Oh, Mis' Ann, sho is mo' an' mo' lak ole times."

She, too, had her clinging memories of halls, now empty, that echoed once to the cries and gurgling laughter of a race in full flower.

As Ann sat one evening on the embowered veranda looking away to the north, a child within the circle of each arm, the old aching in her breast was stilled. The restless Leighton paused in his stride to gaze through fiery, but gloomy, eyes upon his fair-haired baby daughter and his son, pale, crowned with dark curls, and cried, with a toss of his own dark mane: "As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man, so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them!"

This realization of the preciousness of children in adversity paved the way for the reception of one who was to come to them from under the shadow of a family cloud, a certain mysterious personage of tender years, Lewis Leighton, by name.

For weeks the name of Lewis Leighton had been whispered about the house, first by the grown-ups and finally, when the Reverend Orme and his wife had come to the great decision, by the children. The children knew nothing of t

he great decision nor did they know the sources of their sudden joy. Their spirits were reaching out to clasp this new thread in life at an age when all new threads are golden.

On the appointed day the Reverend Orme went to the nearest seaport to meet the youthful voyager and convoy him home. As evening drew near, great was the excitement at Consolation Cottage. To Natalie and to Shenton, the sudden arrival of an entirely new brother, not in swaddling-clothes, but handed down ready-made from the shelf, was an event that loomed to unusual proportions. At last the great gate swung open, and a cab rattled its leisurely way up the drive.

In an instant the children were on their feet, jumping up and down and clapping their hands. "Mother," shouted Shenton, "they're coming!" Little Natalie clambered in stumbling haste up the steps and clutched Mrs. Leighton's skirts. "Muvver," she cried, in an agony of ecstasy, "they're coming!"

"Yes, yes, dear; I see. Oh, look how you've rumpled your dress! What will Lewis say to that? Come, Shenton, give mother your hand." Slowly she led them down the steps, her eyes fixed on the approaching cab.

The Reverend Orme sprang out and up to meet them. He kissed his wife and children. Shenton clung to his arm.

"O Dad," he cried, "didn't you bring him?"

"Bring him? I should say I did. Here, step out, young man."

A chubby face above a blouse, a short kilt and fat legs, appeared from the shadows of the cab. Grave eyes passed fearlessly over the group on the steps until they settled on the broad black face of Mammy.

"Bad nigger!"

Mrs. Leighton gasped and arrested herself in the very movement of welcome. Mammy's genial face assumed a terrible scowl, her white eyes bulged, and her vast arms went suddenly akimbo.

"Wha' 's that yo' say, yo' young Marster?" she thundered.

"Go-go-good nigger," stuttered the chubby face and smiled. With that he was swept from the cab into Mrs. Leighton's arms, and Mammy, grinning from ear to ear, caught him by one fat leg and demanded in soft negro tones:

"Wha' fo' you call yo' mammy 'bad niggah,' young Marster? Ho! ho!

'Go-go-good niggah!' Did yo' hea' him, Mis' Ann?"

Shenton and Natalie jumped up and down, with, cries of "Please, Mother," and "Muvver, oh, please!" Mrs. Leighton set Lewis on his feet between them. Shenton held out his hand. "How d' ye."

"How do do," replied Lewis, gravely. Natalie was plucking at his arm. He turned to her. They were almost of a size, but to Natalie he towered an inch above her. She held up her lips, and he kissed them. Then they stood and stared at each other. Natalie's short forefinger found its way to her mouth.

"My dwess is wumpled," she said.

"I got a dog at home," declared Lewis-"a big dog."

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