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   Chapter 10 No.10

Amanda: A Daughter of the Mennonites By Anna Balmer Myers Characters: 8006

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


Pink Moccasins

The pink moccasin, the largest of our native orchids, is easily the queen of the rare woodland spot in which it grows. Its flower of bright rose pink, veined with red, is held with the stalwart erectness of an Indian, whose love of solitude and quiet woods it shares.

To Amanda it was one of the loveliest flowers of the woods. She always counted the days as the time drew near when the moccasins bloomed.

When Isabel Souders arrived at the Reist farmhouse she found Amanda ready with basket and trowel for the lady-slipper hunt. Amanda had put on a simple white dress and green-and-white sun hat. She looked with bewilderment at the city girl's attire, but said nothing just then. They stopped long enough for Isabel to meet the mistress of the home and then they went down the road to the Crow Hill schoolhouse.

Suddenly Isabel stood still and panted. "Oh--Manda--you can run! Have compassion on me. My hair will be all tumbled after such mad walking, and my organdie torn."

"Hair!" echoed the country girl with a laugh. "Who thinks about hair on a moccasin hunt? You should not go flower hunting in city clothes. With your pink and white dress and lovely Dresden sash, silk stockings and low shoes, you look more fit for a dance than a ramble after deep woods flowers, such as moccasins. But we might as well go on now."

She led the way across the school-yard, climbed nimbly over the rail fence and laughed at Isabel's clumsy imitation of her. Pink azaleas grew in great bushes of bloom throughout the woods. Isabel would have stopped to pick some but Amanda said, "That withers easily. Better pick them when we come back."

They followed a narrow path, so narrow that later the summer luxuriant growth of underbrush would almost obliterate it. But Amanda knew the way to her spot. Deeper into the woods they delved, past bowers of pink azalea and closely growing branches of trees whose tender green foliage was breaking into summer growth. The bright May sunshine dripped through the green and dappled the ground in little discs of gold.

Suddenly the path led up-hill in a steep grade. Amanda stopped and leaned against a slender sapling.

"Stand here and look up," she invited.

Isabel obeyed, her gaze traveling searchingly along the steep trail.

"Oh, the beauties!" she cried as she discovered the pink flowers. "The beauties! Oh, there are more of them! And still more! Oh, Amanda!"

Before them was Amanda's haunt of the pink moccasin. From the low underbrush of spring growth rose several dozen gorgeously beautiful pink lady-slippers, each alone on a thick stem with two broad leaves spreading their green beauty near the base. What miracle had brought the rare shy plants so near the dusty road where rattling wagons and gliding automobiles sped on their busy way?

"May I pick them?" asked the city girl.

"Yes, but only one root. I'll dig that up with the trowel. That's for your friend's botany specimen. The rest we'll pull up gently and we'll get flower, stem and leaves and leave the roots in the ground for other years. I never pick all of the flowers. I leave some here in the woods --it seems they belong here and I can't bring myself to walk off with every last one of them in my arms and leave the hill desolate."

"You are a queer girl!" was the frank statement of the city girl. "But you're a dear, just the same."

They picked a number of the largest flowers.

"That's enough," Amanda declared.

Isabel laughed. "I'd take every one if it were my haunt."

"And then other people might come here after some and find the place robbed of all its blooms."

"Oh," said the other girl easily, "I look out for Isabel. Now, please, may I pick some of that pretty wild azalea?" she asked teasingly as they came down the hill.

"Help yourself. That isn't rare. You couldn't take all of that if you tried."

So Isabel gathered branches of the pink bloom until her arms were filled with it and the six moccasins in her ha

nd almost overshadowed.

As the two girls reached the edge of the woods and climbed over the fence into the school-yard Martin Landis came walking down the road.

"Hello," he called gaily. "Been robbing the woods, Amanda?"

"Aren't they lovely?" she asked. Then when he drew near she introduced him to the girl beside her.

Martin Landis was not a blind man. A pretty girl, dark-eyed and dusky-haired, her arms full of pink azaleas, her lips parted in a smile above the flowers, and that smile given to him--it was too pretty a picture to fail in making an impression upon him.

Amanda saw the look of keen interest in the eyes of the girl and her heart felt heavy. What fortune had brought the two together? Had the Fates designed the meeting of Isabel and Martin? "Oh, now I've done it!" thought Amanda. "Isabel wants what she wants and generally gets it. Pray heaven, she won't want 'My Martin!'"

Similar thoughts disturbed her as they stepped on the sunny road once more and stood there talking. With a gay laugh Isabel took the finest pink moccasin from her bunch and handed it to Martin. "Here, I'll be generous," she said in friendly tones.

"Thank you, Miss Souders." The reply was accompanied with a smile of pleasure.

A low laugh rippled from the girl's red lips. Amanda's ears tingled so she did not understand the exchange of light talk. The fear and jealousy in her heart dulled her senses to all save them, but she laughed, said good-bye, and hid her feelings as she and Isabel went down the road to the Reist farmhouse.

"Amanda," the other girl said effusively, "what a fine young man! Is he your beau?"

"No. Certainly not! I have no beau. I've known Martin Landis ever since I was born, almost. He lives down the road a piece. He's a nice chap."

"Splendid! Fine! Such eyes, such wonderfully expressive gray eyes I have never seen. And he has such a strong face. Of course, his clothes are a bit shabby. He'd be great if he fixed up."

"Yes," Amanda agreed mechanically. She was ill-pleased with the dissection of her knight.

Mrs. Reist, with true rural, Pennsylvania Dutch hospitality, invited Isabel to have supper with them, an invitation readily accepted. At the close of the meal Isabel said suddenly to Mrs. Reist, "How would you like to have me board with you for a few weeks--a month, probably?"

"Why, I don't know. All right, I guess, if Millie, here, don't think it makes too much work. Poor Millie's got the worst of all the work to do. I ain't so strong, and there's much always to do. Of course, Amanda helps, but none of us do as much as Millie."

"But me, don't I get paid for it, and paid good?" asked the hired girl, sending a loving glance at Mrs. Reist. "Far as I go it's all right to have Isabel come for a while. Mebbe she can help, too, sometimes with the work."

"I wouldn't be much help, I'm afraid. I never peeled a potato in my life."

Millie looked at the girl with slightly concealed disfavor. "Why, that's a funny way, now, to bring up a girl! I guess it's time you learn such things once! You dare come, and I'll show you how to do a little work. But why do you want to board when your folks live just in Lancaster?"

"Father and Mother are going to the Elks' Convention and to California. They expect to be gone about a month. I was going to stay in Lancaster with my aunt, but I just thought how much nicer it would be to spend that time in the country."

"Well, I guess, too!" Millie was quick to understand how one would naturally prefer the country to the city.

So it was settled that Isabel Souders was to spend June at the Reist farmhouse. Everybody concerned appeared well pleased with the arrangement. But Amanda's heart hurt. "Why did I take her for those moccasins?" she thought drearily after Isabel had gone back to the city with her precious flowers. "I know Martin will fall in love with her and she with him. Oh, I'm a mean, detestable thing! But I wish she'd go to the coast with her parents!"

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