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   Chapter 24 No.24

The Trumpeter Swan By Temple Bailey Characters: 3267

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05

The Flippin farmhouse was wide and rambling. It had none of the classic elegance of the old Colonial mansions, but it had a hall in the middle with the sitting-room on one side and on the other an old-fashioned parlor with a bedroom back of it. The dining-room was back of the sitting-room, and beyond that was the kitchen, and a succession of detached buildings which served as dairy, granary, tool-house and carriage house in the old fashion. There was much sunlight and cleanliness in the farmhouse, and beauty of a kind, for the Flippins had been content with simple things, and Mary's taste was evidenced in the restraint with which the new had been combined with the old. She and her mother did most of the work. It was not easy in these days to get negroes to help. Daisy, the mulatto, had come down for the summer, but they had no assurance that when the winter came they could keep her. Divested of her high heels and city affectations, Daisy was just a darkey, of a rather plain, comfortable, efficient type. When Mary went in, she was getting supper.

"Has Mother come, Daisy?"

"No, Miss, she ain', an' yo' Poppa ain' come. An' me makin' biscuits."

"Your biscuits are always delicious, Daisy."

"An' me and John wants to go to the movies, Miss Mary. An' efen the supper is late."

"You can leave the dishes until mornin', Daisy."

Mary smiled and sighed as she went on with Fiddle to her own room. The good old days of ordered service were over.

She went into the parlor bedroom. It was the one which she and Fiddle occupied. She bathed and dressed her baby, and changed her own frock. Then she entered the

long, dim parlor. There was a family Bible on the table. It was a great volume with steel engravings. It had belonged to her father's father. In the middle of the book were pages for births and deaths. The records were written legibly but not elegantly. They went back for two generations. Beyond that the Flippins had no family tree.

Mary had seen the family tree at Huntersfield. It was rooted in aristocratic soil. There were Huguenot branches and Royalist branches-D'Aubignes and Moncures, Peytons and Carys, Randolphs and Lees. And to match every name there was more than one portrait on the walls of Huntersfield.

Mary remembered a day when she and Truxton Beaufort had stood in the wide hall.

"A great old bunch," Truxton had said.

"If they were my ancestors I should be afraid of them."

"Why, Mary?"

"Oh, they'd expect so much of me."

"Oh, that," Truxton said airily, "who cares what they expect?"

Mr. and Mrs. Flippin came home in time for supper. The nurse had arrived and the surgeons would follow in the morning. "It's dreadful, Mary," Mrs. Flippin said, "to see her poor husband; money isn't everything. And he loves her as much as if they were poor."

Daisy washed the dishes in a perfect whirl of energy, donned her high-heeled slippers and her Washington manner, and went off with John. It was late that night when Mrs. Flippin went out to find Mary busy.

"My dear," she said, "what are you doing?" Mary was rolling out pastry, with ice in a ginger-ale bottle. "I am going to make some tarts. There was a can of raspberries left-and-and well-I'm just hungry for-raspberry tarts, Mother."

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