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   Chapter 17 LEAF-GLORY.

A Summer in Leslie Goldthwaite's Life. By A. D. T. Whitney Characters: 12261

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


There was a pretty general break-up at Outledge during the week following. The tableaux were the finale of the season's gayety,-of this particular little episode, at least, which grew out of the association together of these personages of our story. There might come a later set, and later doings; but this last week of August sent the mere summer-birds fluttering. Madam Routh must be back in New York, to prepare for the reopening of her school; Mrs. Linceford had letters from her husband, proposing to meet her by the first, in N--, and so the Haddens would be off; the Thoresbys had stayed as long as they cared to in any one place where there seemed no special inducement; General Ingleside was going through the mountains to Dixville Notch. Rose Ingleside,-bright and charming as her name; just a fit flower to put beside our Ladies' Delight, finding out at once, as all girls and women did, her sweetness, and leaning more and more to the rare and delicate sphere of her quiet attraction,-Oliver and Dakie Thayne,-these were his family party; but there came to be question about Leslie and Delight. Would not they make six? And since Mrs. Linceford and her sisters must go, it seemed so exactly the thing for them to fall into; otherwise Miss Goldthwaite's journey hither would hardly seem to have been worth while. Early September was so lovely among the hills; opportunities for a party to Dixville Notch would not come every day; in short, Dakie had set his heart upon it, Rose begged, the General was as pressing as true politeness would allow, and it was settled.

"Only," Sin Saxon said suddenly, on being told, "I should like if you would tell me, General Ingleside, the precise military expression synonymous with 'taking the wind out of one's sails.' Because that's just what you've done for me."

"My dear Miss Saxon! In what way?"

"Invited my party,-some of them,-and taken my road. That's all. I spoke first, though I didn't speak out loud. See here!" And she produced a letter from her mother, received that morning. "Observe the date, if you please,-August 24. 'Your letter reached me yesterday.' And it had traveled round, as usual, two days in papa's pocket, beside. I always allow for that. 'I quite approve your plan; provided, as you say, the party be properly matronized. I'-H'm-h'm! that refers to little explanations of my own. Well, all is, I was going to do this very thing,-with enlargements. And now Miss Craydocke and I may collapse."

"Why, when with you and your enlargements we might make the most admirable combination? At least, the Dixville road is open to all."

"Very kind of you to say so,-the first part, I mean,-if you could possibly have helped it. But there are insurmountable obstacles on that Dixville road-to us. There's a lion in the way. Don't you see we should be like the little ragged boys running after the soldier-company? We couldn't think of putting ourselves in that 'bony light,' especially before the eyes of Mrs.-Grundy." This last, as Mrs. Thoresby swept impressively along the piazza in full dinner costume.

"Unless you go first, and we run after you," suggested the General.

"All the same. You talked Dixville to her the very first evening, you know. No, nobody can have an original Dixville idea any more. And I've been asking them,-the Josselyns, and Mr. Wharne and all, and was just coming to the Goldthwaites; and now I've got them on my hands, and I don't know where in the world to take them. That comes of keeping an inspiration to ripen. Well, it's a lesson of wisdom! Only, as Effie says about her housekeeping, the two dearest things in living are butter and experience!"

Amidst laughter and banter and repartee, they came to it, of course; the most delightful combination and joint arrangement. Two wagons, the General's and Dr. Ingleside's two saddle-horses, Frank Scherman's little mountain mare, that climbed like a cat, and was sure-footed as a chamois,-these, with a side-saddle for the use of a lady sometimes upon the last, made up the general equipment of the expedition. All Mrs. Grundy knew was that they were wonderfully merry and excited together, until this plan came out as the upshot.

The Josselyns had not quite consented at once, though their faces were bright with a most thankful appreciation of the kindness that offered them such a pleasure; nay, that entreated their companionship as a thing so genuinely coveted to make its own pleasure complete. Somehow, when the whole plan developed, there was a little sudden shrinking on Sue's part, perhaps on similar grounds to Sin Saxon's perception of insurmountable obstacles; but she was shyer than Sin of putting forth her objections, and the general zeal and delight, and Martha's longing look, unconscious of cause why not, carried the day.

There had never been a blither setting off from the Giant's Cairn. All the remaining guests were gathered to see them go. There was not a mote in the blue air between Outledge and the crest of Washington. All the subtile strength of the hills-ores and sweet waters and resinous perfumes and breath of healing leaf and root distilled to absolute purity in the clear ether that sweeps only from such bare, thunder-scoured summits-made up the exhilarant draught in which they drank the mountain joy and received afar off its baptism of delight.

It was beautiful to see the Josselyns so girlish and gay; it was lovely to look at old Miss Craydocke, with her little tremors of pleasure, and the sudden glistenings in her eyes; Sin Saxon's pretty face was clear and noble, with its pure impulse of kindliness, and her fun was like a sparkle upon deep waters. Dakie Thayne rushed about in a sort of general satisfaction which would not let him be quiet anywhere. Outsiders looked with a kind of new, half-jealous respect on these privileged few who had so suddenly become the "General's party." Sin Saxon whispered to Leslie Goldthwaite: "It's neither his nor mine, honeysuckle; it's yours,-Henny-penny and all the rest of it, as Mrs. Linceford said." Leslie was glad with the crowning gladness of her bright summer.

"That girl has played her cards well," Mrs. Thoresby said of her, a little below her voice, as she saw the General himself making her especially comfortable with Cousin Delight in a back seat.

"Particularly, my dear madam," said Marmaduke Wharne, coming close and speaking with clear emphasis, "as she could not possibly have known that she had a trump in her hand!"

To tell of all that week's journeying, and of Dixville Notch; the adventure, the brightness, the beauty, and the glory; the sympathy of abounding enjoyment, the waking of new life that it was to some of them; the interchange of thought, the cementing of friendships,-would be to begin another story, possibly a yet longer one. Leslie's summer, according to the calendar, is already ended. Much in this world must pause unfinished, or come to abrupt conclusion. People "die suddenly at last," after the most tedious illnesses. "Married and lived happy ever after," is the inclusive summary that winds up many an old tale whose time of action only runs through hours. If in this summer-time with Leslie Goldthwaite your thoughts have broadened somewhat with hers, some questions for you have been partly answered; if it has appeared to you how a life enriches itself by drawing toward and going forth into the life of others through seeing how this began with her, it is no unfinished tale that I leave with you.

A little picture I will give you, farther on, a hint of something farther yet, and say good-by.

Some of them came back to Outledge, and stayed far into the still, rich September. Delight and Leslie sat before the Green Cottage one morning, in the heart of a golden haze and a gorgeous bloom.

All around the feet of the great hills lay the garlands of early-ripened autumn. You see nothing like it in the lowlands,-nothing like the fire of the maples, the carbuncle-splendor of the oaks, the flash of scarlet sumachs and creepers, the illumination of every kind of little leaf in its own way, upon which the frost touch comes down from those tremendous heights that stand rimy in each morning's sun, trying on white caps that by and by they shall pull down heavily over their brows, till they cloak all their shoulders also in the like sculptured folds, to stand and wait, blind, awful chrysalides, through the long winter of their death and silence.

Delight and Leslie had got letters from the Josselyns and Dakie Thayne. There was news in them such as thrills always the half-comprehending sympathies of girlhood. Leslie's vague suggestion of romance had become fulfillment. Dakie Thayne was wild with rejoicing that dear old Noll was to marry Sue. "She had always made him think of Noll, and his ways and likings, ever since that day of the game of chess that by his means came to grief. It was awful slang, but he could not help it: it was just the very jolliest go!"

Susan Josselyn's quiet letter said,-"That kindness which kept us on and made it beautiful for us, strangers, at Outledge, has brought to me, by God's providence, this great happiness of my life."

After a long pause of trying to take it in, Leslie looked up. "What a summer this has been! So full; so much has happened! I feel as if I had been living such a great deal!"

"You have been living in others' lives. You have had a great deal to do with what has happened."

"Oh, Cousin Delight! I have only been among it! I could not do-except such a very little."

"There is a working from us beyond our own. But if our working runs with that?-You have done more than you will ever know, little one." Delight Goldthwaite spoke very tenderly. Her own life, somehow, had been closely touched, through that which had grown and gathered about Leslie. "It depends on that abiding. 'In me, and I in you; so shall ye bear much fruit.'"

She stopped. She would not say more. Leslie thought her talking rather wide of the first suggestion; but this child would never know, as Delight had said, what a centre, in her simple, loving way, she had been for the working of a purpose beyond her thought.

Sin Saxon came across the lawn, crowned with gold and scarlet, trailing creepers twined about her shoulders, and flames of beauty in her full hands. "Miss Craydocke says she praised God with every leaf she took. I'm afraid I forgot to, for the little ones. But I was so greedy and so busy, getting them all for her. Come, Miss Craydocke; we've got no end of pressing to do, to save half of them!"

"She can't do enough for her. Oh, Cousin Delight, the leaves are glorified, after all! Asenath never was so charming; and she is more beautiful than ever!"

Delight's glance took in also another face than Asenath's, grown into something in these months that no training or taking thought could have done for it. "Yes," she said, in the same still way in which she had spoken before, "that comes too,-as God wills. All things shall be added."

My hint is of a Western home, just outside the leaping growth and ceaseless stir of a great Western city; a large, low, cosy mansion, with a certain Old World mellowness and rest in its aspect,-looking forth, even, as it does on one side, upon the illimitable sunset-ward sweep of the magnificent promise of the New; on the other, it catches a glimpse, beyond and beside the town, of the calm blue of a fresh-water ocean.

The place is "Ingleside;" the General will call it by no other than the family name,-the sweet Scottish synonym for Home-corner. And here, while I have been writing and you reading these pages, he has had them all with him; Oliver and Susan, on their bridal journey, which waited for summer-time to come again, though they have been six months married; Rose, of course, and Dakie Thayne, home in vacation from a great school where he is studying hard, hoping for West Point by and by; Leslie Goldthwaite, who is Dakie's inspiration still; and our Flower, our Pansy, our Delight,-golden-eyed Lady of innumerable sweet names.

The sweetest and truest of all, says the brave soldier and high-souled gentleman, is that which he has persuaded her to wear for life,-Delight Ingleside.

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