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   Chapter 10 A DOUBLE KNOT.

In the High Valley / Being the fifth and last volume of the Katy Did series By Susan Coolidge Characters: 34395

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


HE next few days in the High Valley were too full of excitement and discussions to be quite comfortable for anybody. Imogen was seized with compunctions at leaving Lionel without a housekeeper, and proposed to Dorry that their wedding should be deferred till the others were ready to be married also,-a suggestion to which Dorry would not listen for a moment. There were long business-talks between the ranch partners as to hows and whens, letters to be written, and innumerable confabulations between the three sisters, in which Imogen took part, for she counted as a fourth sister now. Clover and Elsie listened and planned and advised, and found their chief difficulty to consist in hiding and keeping in the background their unfeigned and flattering joy over the whole arrangement. It made matters so delightfully easy all round to have Imogen engaged to Dorry, and it was so much to their own individual advantage to exchange her for Johnnie that they really dared not express their delight too openly.

The great question with all was how papa would take the announcement, and whether he could be induced to carry out his half promise of leaving Burnet and coming to live with them in the Valley. They waited anxiously for his reply to the letters. It came by telegraph two days before they had dared to hope for it, and was as follows:-

God bless you all four! Genesis xliii. 14.

P. Carr.

This Biblical addition nearly broke John's heart. Her sisters had to comfort her with all manner of hopeful auguries and promises.

"He'll be glad enough over it in time," they told her. "Think what it would have been if you had been going to marry a Californian, or a man with an orange plantation in Florida. He'll see that it's all for the best as soon as he gets out here, and he must come. Johnnie, you must never let him off. Don't take 'no' for an answer. It is so important to us all that he should consent."

They primed her with persuasive messages and arguments, and both Clover and Elsie wrote him a long letter on the subject. On the very eve of the departure came a second telegram. Telegrams were not every-day things in the High Valley, the nearest "wire" being at the Ute Hotel five miles away; and the arrival of the messenger on horseback created a momentary panic.

This telegram was also from Dr. Carr. It was addressed to Johnnie,-

Following just received: "Miss Inches died to-day of pneumonia." No particulars.

P. Carr.

It was a great shock to poor Johnnie. She and "Mamma Marian," as she still called her god-mother, had been warm friends always; they corresponded regularly; Johnnie had made her several long visits at Inches Mills, and she had written to her among the first with the news of her engagement.

"She never got it. She never will know about Lionel," she kept repeating mournfully. "And now I can never tell her about any of my plans, and she would have been so pleased and interested. She always cared so much for what I cared about, and I hoped she would come out here for a long visit some day, and see you all. Oh dear, oh dear! what a sad ending to our happy time!"

"Not an ending, only an interruption," put in the comforting Clover. But John for a time could not be consoled, and the party broke up under a cloud, literal as well as metaphorical, for the first snow-storm was drifting over the plain as they drove down the pass, the melting flakes instantly drunk up by the sand; all the soft blue of distance had vanished, and a gray mist wrapped the mountain tops. The High Valley was in temporary eclipse, its brightness and sparkle put by for the moment.

But nothing could long eclipse the sunshine of such youthful hearts and hopes. Before long John's letters grew cheerful again, and presently she wrote to announce a wonderful piece of news.

"Something very strange has happened," she began. "I am an heiress! It is just like the girls in books! Yesterday came a letter from a firm of lawyers in Boston with a long document enclosed. It was an extract from Mamma Marian's will; and only think,-she has left me a legacy of thirty thousand dollars! Dear thing! and she never knew about my engagement either, or how wonderfully it was going to help in our plans. She just did it because she loved me. 'To Joanna Inches Carr, my namesake and child by affection,' the will says; and I think it pleases me as much as having the money. That frightens me a little, it seems so much. At first I did not like to take it, and felt as if I might be robbing some one else; but papa says that she had no very near relations, and that I need not hesitate. Oh, my darling Clover, is it not wonderful? Now Lion and I need not wait two years, unless he prefers it, and can just go on and make our plans happily to suit ourselves and all of you,-and I shall love to think that we owe it all to dear Mamma Marian; only it will be a sore spot always that she never got the letter telling of our engagement. It came just after she died, and they returned it to me.

"Ned has his orders at last. He goes to sea in April, and Katy writes to papa that she will come and spend a year with him if he likes, while Ned is away. But papa won't be here. He has quite decided, I think, to leave Burnet and make his home for the future with us in the High Valley. Three different physicians have already offered to buy out his practice, and it is arranged that Dorry shall rent the old house of him, and the furniture too, except the books and a few special things which papa wishes to keep. He is going to write to you about the building of what he is pleased to call 'a separate shanty;' but please don't let the shanty be really separate; he must be in with all of us somehow, or we shall never be satisfied. Did Lionel decide to move the Hutlet? Of course Katy will spend her year in the Valley instead of Burnet. I am beginning to get my little trousseau together, and have set up a 'wedding bureau' to put the things in; but it is no fun at all without any sisters at home to help and sympathize. I am the only one who has had to get ready to be married all by herself. If Katy were not coming in two months I should be quite desperate. The chief thing on my mind is how to arrange about the two weddings with the family so scattered as it is."

This difficulty was settled by Clover a little later. Both the weddings she proposed should take place in the Valley.

"It is a case of Mahomet and mountain," she wrote. "Look at it dispassionately. You and papa and Katy and Dorry have got to come out here any way,-the rest of us are here; and it is clearly impossible that all of us should go on to Burnet to see you married,-though if you persist some of us will, inconvenient and expensive as it would be. But just consider what a picturesque and romantic place the Valley is for a wedding, with the added advantage that you would be absolutely the first people who were ever married in it since the creation of the world! I won't say what may happen in the remote future, for Rose Red writes that she is going to change its name and call it henceforward 'The Ararat Valley,' not only because it contains 'a few souls, that is eight,' but also because all the creatures who go into it seem to enter pell-mell and come out two by two in pairs. You will inaugurate the long procession at all events! Do please think seriously of this, dear John. 'Consider, cow, consider,-' and write me that you consent.

"We are building papa the most charming little bungalow ever seen,-a big library and two bedrooms, one for himself and one to spare. It is just off the southwest corner, and a little covered way connects it with our piazza; for we are quite decided that he is to take his meals with us and not have the bother of independent housekeeping. Then if you decide to put your bungalow on the other side of his, as we hope you will, we shall all be close together. Lion will do nothing about the building till you come. You are to stay on indefinitely with us, and oversee the whole thing yourself from the driving of the first nail. We will all help, and won't it be fun?

"There is something very stately and comforting in the idea of a 'resident physician.' Elsie declares that now Phillida may have croup or any other infant disease she likes, and I sha'n't lie awake at night to wonder what we should do in case Geoffey was thrown from the burro and broke a bone. I am not sure but we may yet attain to the dignity of a 'resident pastor' as well, for Geoff has decided not to move the Hutlet, but leave it as it is, putting in a little simple furniture, and offer it from time to time to some invalid clergyman who needs Colorado air and would be glad to spend a few months in the Valley. Who knows but it may grow some day into a little church? Then indeed we should have a small world of our own, with the learned professions all represented; for of course Phil by that time will be qualified to do our law for us, in case we quarrel and require writs and replevins or habeas corpuses, or any last wills and testaments drawn up.

"I have begun on new curtains for Katy's room already, and Elsie and I have all manner of beautiful projects for the weddings. Now Johnnie darling, write at once and say that you agree to this plan. It really does seem a perfect one for everybody. The time must of course depend on when Dorry can get his leave, but we will be all ready whenever it comes."

Clover's arguments were unanswerable, and every one gradually gave in to the plan which she had so much at heart. Dorry got a fortnight's holiday, beginning on the 15th of June; so the twentieth was fixed as the day for the double wedding, and the preparations went merrily on. Early in May Katy arrived in Burnet; and after that Johnnie had no need to complain of being unsistered, for Katy was a host in herself, and gave all her time to helping everybody. She sewed and finished, she packed and advised, she assisted to box her father's books, and went with Dorry to choose the new papers and rugs which were to make the old house freshly bright for Imogen; she exclaimed and rejoiced over each wedding present that arrived, and supplied that sweet atmosphere of mutual interest and sympathy which is the vital breath of a family occasion. All was ready in time; the old home was in exact and perfect order for its new mistress, the good-bys were said, and on the morning of the fifteenth the party started for Colorado.

Quite a little group waited for them on the platform of the St. Helen's station three days later. Lionel had of course come in to meet his bride, and Imogen her bridegroom; and Geoff had come, and Clover, to meet her father and Katy, and Phil was also in waiting. It was truly a wonderful moment when the train drew up, and Johnnie, all beautiful in smiles and dimples, encountered Lionel; while Dorry jumped out to greet Imogen, who was in blooming health again, and very pleased to see him.

"We have brought the two carryalls," Clover explained. "Geoff got a new one the other day, that the means of transportation may keep pace with the increase of population, as he says. I think, Geoff, we will put the brides and bridegrooms together in the new one. Then the 'echoes' from the back seat can mix with the 'echoes' from the front seat; and it will be as good as the East Canyon, and they will all feel at home."

So it was arranged, and the party started.

"Katy," cried Clover, looking at her sister with eyes that seemed to drink her in, "I had forgotten quite how dear you are! It seems to me that you have grown handsome, my child; or is it only that you are a little fatter?"

"I am afraid the latter," replied Katy, with a laugh. "No one but Ned was ever so deluded as to call me handsome."

"Where is Ned? It is such a shame that he can't be here,-the only one of the family missing!"

"He is on his way to China," said Katy, with a little suppressed sigh. "Yes, it is too bad; but it can't be helped. Naval orders are like time and tide, and wait for no man, and most of all for no woman." She paused a moment, and changed the subject abruptly. "Did I tell you," she asked, "that after I broke up at Newport I went to Rose for a week?"

"Johnnie wrote that you were to go."

"It was such a bright week! Boston was beautiful, as it always is in spring, with the Public Garden a blaze of flowers, and all the pretty country about so green and sweet! Rose was most delightful; and I saw ever so many of the old Hillsover girls, and even had a glimpse of Mrs. Nipson!"

"That must have been rather a bad joy."

"N-o, not exactly. I was rather glad, on the whole, to meet her again. She isn't as bad as we made her out. School-girls are almost always unjust to their teachers."

"Oh, come, now," said Clover, making a little face. "This is a happy occasion, certainly, and I am in a benignant frame of mind, but really I can't stand having you so horridly charitable. 'There is no virtue, madam, in a mush of concession.' Mrs. Nipson was an unpleasant old thing,-so there! Let us talk of something else. Tell me about your visit to Cousin Helen."

"Oh, that was a sweet visit all through. I stayed ten days, and she was better than usual, it seemed to me. Did I write about little Helen's ball?"

"No."

"She is just nineteen, and it was her first dance. Such a pretty creature, and so pleased and excited about it! and Cousin Helen was equally so. She gave Helen her dress complete, down to the satin shoes, and the fan and the long gloves, and a turquoise necklace, and turquoise pins for her hair. You never saw anything so charming as the way in which she enjoyed it. You would have supposed that Helen was her own child, as she lay on the sofa, with such bright beaming eyes, while the pretty thing turned round and round to exhibit her finery."

"There certainly never was any one like Cousin Helen. She is embodied sympathy," said Clover. "Now, Katy, I want you to look. We are just turning into our own road."

It was a radiant afternoon, with long, soft shadows alternating with golden sunshine, and the High Valley was at its very best as they slowly climbed the zigzag pass. With every turn and winding Katy's pleasure grew; and when they rounded the last curve, and came in sight of the little group of buildings, with their picturesque background of forest and the splendid peak soaring above, she exclaimed with delight:-

"What a perfect situation! Clover, you never said enough about it! Surely the half was not told me, as the Queen of Sheba remarked! Oh, and there is Elsie on the porch, and that thing in white beside her is Phillida! I never dreamed she could be so large! How glad I am that I didn't die of measles when I was little, as dear Rose Red used to say."

Katy's coming was the crowning pleasure of the occasion to all, but most of all to Clover. To have her most intimate sister in her own home, and be able to see her every day and all day long, and consult and advise and lay before her the hopes and intentions and desires of her heart, which she could never so fully share with any one else, except Geoff, was a delight which never lost its zest, and of which Clover never grew weary.

To settle Dr. Carr in his new quarters was another pleasure, in which they all took equal part. When his books and microscopes were unpacked, and the Burnet belongings arranged pretty much in their old order, the rooms looked wonderfully homelike, even to him. The children soon learned to adore him, as children always had done; the only trouble was that they fought for the possession of his knee, and would never willingly have left him a moment for himself. His leisure had to be protected by a series of nursery laws and penances, or he would never have had any; but he said he liked the children better than the leisure. He was born to be a grandfather; nobody told stories like him, or knew so well how to please and pacify and hit the taste of little people.

But all this, of course, came subsequently to the double wedding, which took place two days after the arrival of the home-party. The morning of the twentieth was unusually fine, even for Colorado,-fair, cloudless, and golden bright, as if ordered for the occasion,-without a cloud on the sky from dawn to sunset. The ceremony was performed by a clergyman from Portland, who with his invalid wife were settled in the Hutlet for the summer, very glad of the pleasant little home offered them, and to escape from the crowd and confusion of Mrs. Marsh's boarding-house, where Geoff had found them. Two or three particular friends drove out from St. Helen's; but with that exception the whole wedding was "valley-made," as Elsie declared, including delicious raspberry ice-cream, and an enormous cake, over which she and Clover had expended much time and thought, and which, decorated with emblematical designs in icing and wreathed with yucca-blossoms, stood in the middle of the table.

The ceremony took place at noon precisely, when, as Phil facetiously observed, "the shadows of the high contracting parties could never be less." There was little that was formal abo

ut it, but much that was reverent and sweet and full of true feeling. Imogen and Johnnie had both agreed to wear white muslin dresses, very much such dresses as they were all accustomed to wear on afternoons; but Imogen had on her head her mother's wedding-veil, which had been sent out from England, and John wore Katy's, "for luck," as she said. Both carried a big bouquet of Mariposa lilies, and the house was filled with the characteristic wild-flowers of the region most skilfully and effectively grouped and arranged.

A hospitably hearty luncheon followed the ceremony, of which all partook; then Imogen went away to put on her pretty travelling-suit of pale brown, and the carry-all came round to take Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Carr to St. Helen's, which was the first stage on their journey of life.

The whole party stood on the porch to see them go. Imogen's last word and embrace were for Clover.

"We are sisters now," she whispered. "I belong to you just as much as Isabel does, and I am so glad that I do! Dear Clover, you have been more good to me than I can say, and I shall never forget it."

"Nonsense about being good! You are my Dorry's wife now, and our own dear sister. There is no question about goodness,-only to love one another."

She kissed Imogen warmly, and helped her into the carriage. Dorry sprang after her; the wheels revolved; and Phil, seizing a horseshoe which hung ready to hand on the wall of the house, flung it after the departing vehicle.

"It's more appropriate than any other sort of old shoe for this Place of Hoofs," he observed. "Well, the Carr family are certainly pretty well disposed of now. I am 'the last ungathered rose on my ancestral tree.' I wonder who will tear me from my stem!"

"You can afford to hang on a while longer," remarked Elsie. "I don't consider you fairly expanded yet, by any means. You'll be twice as well worth gathering a few years from now."

"Oh, very fine!-years indeed! Why, I shall be a seedy old bachelor! That would never do! And Amy Ashe, whom I have had in my eye ever since she was in pinafores, will be married to some other fellow!"

"Don't set your heart on Amy," said Katy. "She's not seventeen yet; and I don't think her mother has any idea of having her made into Ashes of Roses so early!"

"There's no harm in having a girl in one's eye," retorted Phil, disconsolately. "I declare, you all look so contented and so satisfied with yourselves and one another, that it's enough to madden a fellow, left out, as I am, in the cold! I shall go back to St. Helen's with Dr. and Mrs. Hope."

The others, left to themselves in their happy loneliness, gathered together in the big room after the last guest had gone. Geoff touched a match to the ready-laid fire; Clover wheeled an armchair forward for her father, and sat down beside him with her arm on his knee; John and Lionel took possession of a big sofa.

"Now let us enjoy ourselves," said Clover. "The world is shut out, we are shut in; there are none to molest and make us afraid; and, please Heaven, there is a whole, long, happy year before us! I never did suppose anything so perfectly perfect could happen to us all as this. Now, papa,-dear papa,-just say that you like it as much as we all do."

Elsie perched herself on the arm of her father's chair; Katy stood behind, stroking his hair. Dr. Carr held out his hand to Johnnie, who ran across the room, knelt down, caught it in both hers, and fondly laid her cheek upon it.

"I like it quite as much as you do," he said. "Where my girls are is the place for me; and I am going to be the most contented old gentleman in America for the rest of my days."

THE END

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BOSTON

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SUSAN COOLIDGE'S POPULAR BOOKS.

NOT QUITE EIGHTEEN.

By Susan Coolidge, author of "What Katy Did," "The Barberry Bush," "A Guernsey Lily," etc. 16mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Price, $1.25

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ROBERTS BROTHERS. Publishers, Boston, Mass.

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Messrs. Roberts Brothers' Publications.

Nelly's Silver Mine.

By H. H.

With Illustrations. 16mo, cloth. Price $1.50.

"The sketches of life, especially of its odd and out-of-the-way aspects, by H. H. always possess so vivid a reality that they appear more like the actual scenes than any copy by pencil or photograph. They form a series of living pictures, radiant with sunlight and fresh as morning dew. In this new story the fruits of her fine genius are of Colorado growth, and though without the antique flavor of her recollections of Rome and Venice, are as delicious to the taste as they are tempting to the eye, and afford a natural feast of exquisite quality."-N. Y. Tribune.

"This charming little book, written for children's entertainment and instruction, is equally delightful to the fathers and mothers. It is life in New England, and the racy history of a long railway journey to the wilds of Colorado. The children are neither imps nor angels, but just such children as are found in every happy home. The pictures are so graphically drawn that we feel well acquainted with Rob and Nelly, have travelled with them and climbed mountains and found silver mines, and know all about the rude life made beautiful by a happy family, and can say of Nelly, with their German neighbor, Mr. Kleesman, 'Ach well, she haf better than any silver mine in her own self.'"-Chicago Inter-Ocean.

"In 'Nelly's Silver Mine' Mrs. Helen Hunt Jackson has given us a true classic for the nursery and the school-room, but its readers will not be confined to any locality. Its vivid portraiture of Colorado life and its truth to child-nature give it a charm which the most experienced cannot fail to feel. It will stand by the side of Miss Edgeworth and Mrs. Barbauld in all the years to come."-Mrs. Caroline H. Dall.

"We heartily commend the book for its healthy spirit, its lively narrative, and its freedom from most of the faults of books for children."-Atlantic Monthly.

Our publications are to be had of all Booksellers. When not to be found, send directly to

ROBERTS BROTHERS, Boston.

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Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired.

Varied hyphenation was retained. This includes:

bedroom bed-room

carryall carry-all

homesick home-sick

housekeeping house-keeping

pigtail pig-tail

postpaid post-paid

straightforward straight-forward

zigzag zig-zag

The remaining corrections made are indicated by dotted lines under the corrections. Scroll the mouse over the word and the original text will appear.

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