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The Golden Bird By Maria Thompson Daviess Characters: 24533

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


The next morning it took Annette until ten o'clock and a shower of tears to get Bess and me to sit up and take our coffee. She said the decorators were downstairs beginning on Bess's wedding decorations and that the sun was shining on my wedding-day.

"Well, I wish it had delayed itself a couple of hours. I'm too sleepy to get married," I grumbled as I sat up to take the tray of coffee on my knees.

"Owen is a darling," I heard Bess murmur from her bed, which was against the wall and mine as our rooms opened into each other. I also heard a rustle of paper and smelled the perfume of flowers.

"This is for Mademoiselle from Monsieur Berry," said Annette, as she triumphantly produced a white box tied with white ribbons that lay in the center of a bunch of wild field-roses.

"Take it away and let me drink my coffee," I said, and I could see Annette's French eyes snap as she laid down the offering from Matthew and went to attend upon Bess.

"Dear Matt," I murmured when I had consumed the coffee and discovered the long string of gorgeous pearls in the white box. "Come on, Bess, let's begin to get married and be done with it," I called to her as I wearily arose. "What time did Polly say she and Matthew had decided to marry me?" I asked as I went into my bath.

"Five o'clock, and it's almost twelve now," answered Bess in a voice of panic as I heard things begin to fly into place in her room.

Despite the superhuman efforts and patience of Annette and two housemaids, directed from below by Owen and Judge Rutherford, it was half-past two o'clock before I was ready to descend to the car in which Matthew had been sitting, patiently waiting in the sunshine of his wedding day for almost two hours.

"Plenty of time," he said cheerily, as I sank into the seat beside him, and Bess and Owen climbed in behind us. Owen's chauffeur took Judge Rutherford in Owen's car, and Annette perched her prim self on the front seat beside the wheel.

"Oh, Matt, there is nobody in the world like you," I said as I cast myself on his patience and imperturbability and also the strength of his broad shoulder next mine. I could positively hear Bess and Owen's joy over this bride-like manifestation, which the wind took back to them as we went sailing out of town towards the Riverfield ribbon.

And to their further joy I put my cheek down against Matthew's throttle arm and closed my eyes so that I did not see anything of the twenty-mile progression out to Elmnest. I only opened them when we arrived in Riverfield at about half after three o'clock.

Was the village out to greet me? It was not. Every front door was closed, and every front shutter shut, and I might have felt that some dire disapproval was being expressed of me and my wedding if I had not seen smoke fairly belching from every kitchen chimney, and if I hadn't known that each house was filled with the splash of vigorous tubbing for which the kitchen stoves and wash boilers were supplying the hot water.

"Bet at least ten pounds of soap has gone up in lather," said Matthew as he turned and explained the situation to Bess and Owen after I had explained it to him.

At the door of Elmnest stood Polly in a gingham dress, but with both ends of her person in bridal array, from the white satin bows on the looped up plats to the white silk stockings and satin slippers, greeting us with relief and enthusiasm. Beside her stood Aunt Mary and the parent twins, also Bud, in the gray suit with a rose in his button-hole.

Matthew handed me out and into their respective embraces, while he also gave Polly a bundle of dry-goods from which I could see white satin ribbon bursting.

"Everything is ready," she confided to him.

"I knew it would be, Corn-tassel," he answered, with an expression of affectionate confidence and pride.

Then from the embrace of Uncle Cradd I walked straight through the back door towards the barn, leaving both Bess and Annette in a state of wild remonstrance, with the wedding paraphernalia all being carried up the stairs by Bud and Rufus. Looking neither to the right nor to the left, I made my way to the barn-door and then stopped still-dead still.

It was no longer my barn-it was merely the entrance to a model poultry farm that spread out acres and acres of model houses and runs behind it. Chickens, both white and red, were clucking and working in all the pens, and nowhere among them could I see the Golden Bird.

"I hope he's dead, too," I said as I turned on my heel and, without a word, walked back to the house and up to my room, past Polly and Matthew, who stood at the barn-door, their faces pale with anxiety.

When I considered that I had been able for months to clothe myself with decency and leave my room in less than fifteen minutes, I could not see why time dragged so for me when being clothed by Annette and Aunt Mary. True, Aunt Mary paused to sniff into her handkerchief every few minutes or to listen to Annette's French raptures as she laid upon me each foolish garment up unto the long swath of heathenish tulle she was beginning to arrange when an interruption occurred in the shape of Rufus, who put his head in the door and mysteriously summoned Polly, who had come in to exhibit her silk muslin frills, in which she was the incarnation of young love's dream.

"You are beautiful, darling," I had just said, with the first warmth in my voice I had felt for many days, when Rufus appeared and Polly departed to leave Annette and Aunt Mary to the task of the tulle and orange-blossoms. They took their time, and it was only five minutes to five when Bess came in to get her procession all marshalled.

"Come down the back steps, darling, and let's all cool off on the back porch," she advised. "It is terribly hot up here under the roof, and Polly and Matthew say they have decided to come in from the back door so everybody will have a better view of you. How beautiful you are!"

As directed, I descended and stood spread out like a white peacock on the back porch.

"Now call Matthew and Polly," Bess directed Annette.

For several minutes we waited.

"Monsieur Berry is not here," finally reported Annette, with fine dramatic effect of her outspread hands.

"Tell Owen to find him," commanded Bess. "It is five minutes late now, and they must make that seven-twenty New York train. Hurry!"

Annette departed while Aunt Mary came to the back door and looked out questioningly.

"Great guns, Bess, where is Matt?" demanded Owen as he came around the house with his eyes and hair wild.

"Where is Polly? she'll know!" I answered tranquilly.

"I searched Mademoiselle Polly, and she is also not here," answered Annette, again running down the back stairs. From the long parlor and hall came an excited buzz, and Aunt Mary came out upon the back porch entirely this time.

"Every one of you go and look for them and leave me here quiet if you don't want me to have a brain storm," I said positively. "They have probably gone to feed the chickens."

Not risking me to make good my threat, Bess and Annette and Aunt Mary and Owen and Bud disappeared in as many different directions. They left me standing alone out on the old porch, along the eaves of which rioted a rose, literally covered with small pink blossoms that kept throwing generous gusts of rosy petals down upon my tulle and lace and the bouquet of exotics I held in my hand. Across the valley the skyline of Paradise Ridge seemed to be holding down huge rosy clouds that were trying to bubble up beyond it.

Suddenly I drew aside the tulle from my face, dropped my bouquet, and stretched out my arms to the sunset.

"I will lift up mine eyes to the hills-Oh, Pan!" I said in a soft agony of supplication as I felt the crust around me begin a cosmic upheaval.

"Well, this looks like a Romney bundle and my woman to follow into the woods. You know I won't have this kind of a wedding," suddenly fluted a stormy voice from the other side of the rose vine as Pan came up to the bottom of the steps.

"Why-why," I began to say, and then stopped, because the storm was still bursting over my head from Pan, who was attired in his usual Roycroft costume and had in one hand the Romney bundle and in the other the usual white bundle of herbs. Also as usual he was guiltless of a hat, and the crests were unusually long and ruffled.

"You look foolish, and I won't marry you that way. Go straight up-stairs and put on real clothes, get your bundle, and come on. I want to eat supper over on Sky Rock, and it is seven miles, and you'll have to cook it. I'm hungry," he stormed still more furiously.

"Everybody is inside waiting, and it's not your-"

"Well, tell 'em all to come out in the open. I won't take a mate in a house, even if it has to be done with this foolish paper," he continued to rage as he sought in the bandana bundle and produced an official document with a red tape on it. "You go and put on your clothes, and I'll break up this foolishness and get 'em in the yard."

"But wait-you don't understand. You-"

"You've got all the rest of your life to explain disobeying me like this when I expressly wrote you just what I wanted you to-" Pan went on with his raging. At this juncture Uncle Cradd appeared at the back door in mild excitement.

"Nancy, my child, our friends are growing impatient, and is there anything the-"

But here he was interrupted by a clamor of voices that fairly poured its volume around the corner of the house. In two seconds it explained itself by its very appearance. First came Matthew, walking slowly, and in his arms he carried a soaked bundle which he held to his breast as tenderly, I was sure, as young Mrs. Buford was holding the blue bundle in the parlor, and two long plaits hung down over his arm. From between him and the bundle there came a feeble squawking and fluttering of wings. From them all poured rivulets of water, and mingled with the squawks were weak gurgles. As I looked, Matthew stopped and lifted the bundle closer on his breast, disclosing its identity as that of Polly, and buried his face in the soaked hair while they all stood dripping together as the rest of us stood perfectly silent and still.

"That fool Henri let the Golden Bird get away, and he flew across the river and fell in a tangle of undergrowth. Rufus called Polly, and she plunged right in after him. Her dress caught on the same snag and God, Ann, they were being sucked under just as I got to them. She's still unconscious." In some ways as unconscious as was the Corn-tassel, Matthew began to press hot kisses on the face under his chin which brought forth a feeble choke.

"Lay her down on the porch, and I'll show you how to empty her lungs, Berry," said Adam, laying down his bundle and taking charge of the situation, as all the rest, even capable Aunt Mary, still stood helpless before the catastrophe. Reluctantly, Matthew obeyed.

"Uncle Cradd, go in the house and tell them all what has happened, and ask them all to come out on the cool of the lawn until we can have the wedding. It will be in just a few minutes, tell them," I said, with the brain that had taken the incubator eggs to bed with Bess and me beginning to act rapidly. "Let me speak to you just a second, Matt," I said, and drew the dazed and dripping bridegroom to one side.

"Matthew," I said very quietly and slowly so that I would not have to repeat the words, "I'm not going to marry you at all, but I'm going to marry Evan Baldwin. I'll tell you all about it when I come back from my honeymoon with him. You help me put it through and then stay right here and look after Polly. She may suffer terribly from shock."

"Oh, God, Ann, my heart turned over in my breast and kicked when I saw her sink, and for a minute I couldn't find her," Matthew said as he gave a dripping shudder that shook some of the water off him and on my tulle. To the announcement of the loss of a bride he gave no heed at all, for at that moment, as Pan lifted the drenched bundle across his knees and patted it, a faint voice moaned out Matthew's name, and he flew to receive the revived Polly in his arms.

"Now, hold her that way until I am sure I have established complete respiration,"

commanded Pan. "You women begin to take these wet rags off of her. Get two blankets." At which command the rest of the bridal party flew to work in different directions and I with them. Bess and I arrived in my room at the same moment, and she seized the two blankets I drew from the chest and departed without waiting for words. As I drew out the blankets, something else rolled to the floor, and I saw it was my Romney bundle, packed weeks before my death.

Its suggestion was not to be denied. I stopped just where I was, and in two minutes my strong hands ripped that tulle and lace and chiffon from my back without waiting to undo hooks and eyes. In another three minutes I was into a pair of the tan cotton stockings and the flat shoes, which Pan had made me that rainy day in the barn, had on my corduroys and a linen smock, and was running down to my wedding with wings of the wind.

When I reached the back porch I found Polly sitting up on the floor, with Matthew's arms around her, and the entire wedding-party standing beside the back steps, looking on and ejaculating with thankfulness. Old Parson Henderson stood near, beaming down benedictions for the rescue, and I decided that they were all in a daze in which anything could be put over on them.

"Here's my bundle and me," I whispered to Pan, as he stood regarding the young recovered squaw proudly. "Hand the license to Parson Hendricks. I'll make him go on and marry us and get away before anybody puts me back into tulle."

"As Polly is all right now we'll have the wedding, for it's getting late, and we want to get across to the Paradise Ridge to camp," said Adam, with the fluty command in his voice which always gets attention and obedience. As he spoke he put down his bundle, gave Parson Hendricks the document, and drew me beside him. I kept my bundle in my hand and stood with my other in his.

"Why, I didn't know that-" the old parson began to splutter while a murmur of surprise and question began to arise among the hitherto hypnotized wedding-guests. Judge Rutherford stood apart with the twin parents showing them some book treasure he had unearthed for father, and I don't think that either one of my natural guardians was at my wedding except in body.

At the critical moment dear old Matt did rise to the occasion, as did Polly also, with a crimson glow coming into her drenched cheeks, pallid only a second before, and a light like sunrise on a violet bank coming into her eyes.

"She's always intended to marry Baldwin. I knew all about it. Go on!" Matthew commanded, as he supported Polly in her blankets on wobbly bare feet.

During the resuscitation of Polly, Owen Murray, true to his new passion for the Leghorn family, had been reviving Mr. G. Bird and now with regard for decorum, he set him quietly upon his feet. Did the Golden Bird run like a coward from the scene of the catastrophe of his making? He did not. He deliberately stretched his wings, gave a mighty crow, and walked over and began to peck in my smock-pockets at corn that had lain there many long weeks for him.

"Go on, Parson," commanded Pan again, impatiently, and then standing together in the fading sunlight, Pan, Mr. G. Bird, and I were married.

Did Pan allow me to stay and make satisfactory explanations of my conduct to my friends and enjoy the wedding festivities so carefully copied out of the "Review" by Polly and Matthew? He did not. Immediately after the ceremony he picked up his two bundles and turned to all of our assembled friends.

"We'll be back in a few weeks, and then I'll show you what I learned in Argentina. We have to hurry now to get across the valley. Some of the fine sheep over at Plunkett's are down with foot rash, and I want to be there by noon. Luck to you all." With these words Pan led me around the corner of the house, through the old garden, and out into the woods, Mr. G. Bird still following at the smock-pocket.

"We'll have to go back and lock him up; he'll follow me," I said, as I paused and took the Golden Bird's proud head in my hand and let him peck at a dull gold circle on my third finger, which, I am sure, Pan himself had hammered out of a nugget for me.

"No, let's take him. I want to show him over at Plunkett's and then in Providence and Hillsboro, to grade up their poultry. I doubt if there's his equal in America," answered Pan as he went on ahead of me to break the undergrowth into which he was leading me underneath the huge old trees.

"I didn't write you to let that fool Belgian prune the whole place like that," Pan remarked as we paused at old Tilting Rock and looked down upon the orderly and repaired Elmnest in the sunset glow.

"Write?" I murmured weakly, while my mind accused Uncle Cradd, and rightly too, as I learned later after a search in his pockets.

"Wasn't any use sending any letter after that New Orleans one, because I traveled on the return trip all the way myself. Still you did pretty well to get the wedding and all ready at the hour I set, even if you did make that awful flummery mistake. I'll forgive you even that after I get over the shock of seeing you look that way."

"The hour you set?" I again murmured a weak question.

"I thought of writing you to get ready by nine o'clock in the morning, but I knew I'd have to stop in Hayesville for that bit of red tape, so I said five o'clock and had to hustle to make it. I knew you'd be ready. Now you'll have to travel, for we have five miles to go and it takes the pot two hours to simmer. Are you hungry?"

I hadn't the strength to answer. I had just enough to pad along behind at his heels with Mr. G. Bird at mine. However, as I padded, I suddenly felt return that strength of ten women which I had put from me the morning I fled from the empty Elmnest, and I knew that it had come upon me to abide.

I needed every bit of the energy of ten ordinary women to keep up with Pan's commands, as I helped him make camp beside a cool spring that bubbled out of a rock in a little cove that was swung high up on the side of Paradise Ridge. I washed the bundle of greens he had brought to the wedding and set them to simmer with the inevitable black walnut kernels in a pot that he produced from under a log in the edge of the woods, along with a couple of earthen bowls like the ones he kept secreted in the spring-house at Elmnest.

"Got 'em all over ten States," he answered, as I questioned him with delight at the presence of our old friends. Then while I crouched and stirred, he took his long knife out, cut great armfuls of cedar boughs, threw them in a shadow at the foot of a tall old oak, and with a bundle of sticks swept upon them a great pile of dry leaves into the form of a huge nest. The golden glow was just fading as I lifted the pot and poured his portion in his bowl, then mine in the other, while he cut the black loaf he had taken from his bundle into hunks with his knife. It was after seven o'clock, and the crescent moon hung low by the ridge, waiting for the sun to take its complete departure before setting in for its night's joy-ride up the sky. It was eight before Pan finished his slow browsing in his bowl and came over to crouch with me out on the ledge of rock that overlooked the world below us. Clusters of lights in nests of gray smoke were dotted around over the valley, and I knew the nearest one was Riverfield; indeed I could see a bunch of lights a little way apart from the rest, and I felt sure that they were lighting the remaining revelers at my wedding-feast at Elmnest. The Golden Bird had gone sensibly to roost on one of the low limits of the old oak, and he reminded me of the white blur of Polly's wedding bell, which I had caught a glimpse of as I ran through the hall at Elmnest.

"I am thy child," crooned Pan, with a new note to his chant that immediately started on my heartstrings. "And I'm tired," he added as he stretched himself on the rock beside me, laid his head on my breast, and nuzzled his lips into my bare throat.

"I'm going to lift the crests and look at the tips of your ears, Pan," I said as I held him tight.

"Better not," he mocked me.

I did, and the tips were-I never intend to tell.

The lights were twinkling out in the valley one by one, and the young moon made the purple blackness below us only faintly luminous when Pan drew me closer and then into the very edge of the world itself, and pointed down into the soft darkness.

"We are all like that, we natives of this great land-asleep in the midst of a silvery mist, while the rest of the world is in the blaze of hell. We've got to wake up and take them to our breast, to nourish and warm and save them. There'll be just you and I and a few others to call the rest of our people until they hear and value and work," he said as he settled me against him so that the twain chants of our heartstrings became one.

"I'll follow you through the woods and help you call, Adam," I said softly, with my lips under the red crest nearest to me.

"And I'll bring you back here to nest and stay with you until your young are on their feet, with their eyes open," Pan crooned against my lips. "Dear God, what a force unit one woman and one man can create!"

THE END

* * *

THE FIREFLY OF FRANCE

By Marion Polk Angellotti

This is not a story of laughter or tears, of shock or depression. It has no manufactured gloom. It preaches no reform. It has not a single social problem around which the characters move and argue and agonize. No reader need lie awake at night wondering what the author meant; all she intends to convey goes over the top with the first sight of the printed words. The story invites the reader to be thrilled, and dares him (or her) to weep.

Briefly, "The Firefly of France" is in the manner of the romance-in the manner of Dumas, of Walter Scott. It is a story of love, mystery, danger, and daring. It opens in the gorgeous St. Ives Hotel in New York and ends behind the Allied lines in France. The story gets on its way on the first page, and the interest is continuous and increasing until the last page. And it is all beautifully done.

The Philadelphia Record says: "No more absorbing romance of the war has been written than 'The Firefly of France.' In a sprightly, spontaneous way the author tells a story that is pregnant with the heroic spirit of the day. There is a blending of mystery, adventure, love and high endeavor that will charm every reader."

12mo, 363 pages

Illustrated by Grant T. Reynard

Price $1.40

At All Bookstores

Published by

THE NEW CENTURY CO.

353 Fourth Avenue

New York City

* * *

FILM FOLK

"Close-ups" of the Men, Women and Children who make the "Movies."

By Rob Wagner

A book of humor and entertaining facts. It is a sort of Los Angeles Canterbury Tales wherein appears the stories, told in the first person, of the handsome film actor whose beauty is fatal to his comfort; of the child wonder; the studio mother; the camera man, who "shoots the films"; the scenario writer; the "extra" man and woman, whose numbers are as the sands of the sea; the publicity man, who "rings the bells," etc., etc.

All the stories are located in or near Los Angeles, a section more densely populated with makers of "movies" than any other section on earth. The author lives there, he has been in sympathetic contact with these votaries of this new art since its beginning, and his statements are entirely trustworthy.

"Film Folk" is not a series of actual biographies of individuals; the author in each case presents an actor, a director or one of the other characters for the sake of concreteness and to carry out the story-form, and he contrives to set forth in the course of the book the entire movie-making world. The reader gets a clear idea of how the films are made and he is immensely entertained with the accounts of the manners and customs of the inhabitants of the vast movie villages-manners and customs unique in many respects.

The stories are told in a style as easy to read as the author is good-humored.

8vo, 356 pages

Illustrated from photographs

Price $2.00

At All Bookstores

Published by

THE CENTURY CO.

353 Fourth Avenue

New York City

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