xt744j09w82d https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt744j09w82d/data/mets.xml Page, Thomas Nelson, 1853-1922. 190618  books b92-230-31280747v14 English C. Scribner's sons, : New York : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Novels, stories, sketches, and poems of Thomas Nelson Page (vol. 14) text Novels, stories, sketches, and poems of Thomas Nelson Page (vol. 14) 1906 2002 true xt744j09w82d section xt744j09w82d 










PLANTATION



EDITION



VOLUME XIV

 










































The last patient was a fashionably dressed and very
                handsome woman.

 




b THE NOVELS, STORIES,
SKETCHES AND POEMS OF
THOMAS NELSON PAGE 



UNDER THE CRUST

TOMMY TROT'S VISIT
TO SANTA CLAUS








CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
NEW YORK Al A A . 1909



i
I
i



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         UNDER THE CRUST
           Copyright, 1907, by
        CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS


TOMMY TROT'S VISIT TO SANTA CLAUS
           Copyright, 1908, by
        CHARLS SCRIBNERS SONS


           Copyright, 1909, by
        CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS


           AU Rights Reserved

 













                CONTENTS

                                         PAGE
UNDER THE CRUST:
   MISS GODWIN'S INHERITANCE.... . . .   . 3
   THE NEW AGENT . .... .  . . . . . .   . 37
   A BROTHER TO DIOGENES ...  . ...... 89
   A GOTH ..... .   ..  .. . . . . . .  . 123
   LEANDER'S LIGHT.... . . . . . . . .  . 153

   MY FRIEND THE DOCTOR  ... . . . ..   . 185
   THE HOSTAGE .... .  . . . . . . . .  . 225

TOMMY TROT'S VISIT TO SANTA CLAUS ... .  . 273

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                ILLUSTRATIONS

THE LAST PATIENT WAS A FASHIONABLY DRESSED
    AND VERY HANDSOME 'WOMAN . . . . . . Fronispiee
                                           FACING PAGE
"I DON'T PLAY WITH CHILDREN,- HE SAID SCORN-
    FULLY ... ............ . . 148

THEY FLEW ON, OVER FIELDS OF WHITE SNOW . . . . 300

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MISS GODWIN'S INHERITANCE

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      MISS GODWIN'S

         INHERITANCE

                     I

W    HEN my cousin Hortensia asked me one
       evening in the middle of winter to go with
her the following week to look at a " summer place "
for her on the Maine coast, it crossed my mind
for a moment that she was slightly mad; but the
glance that I gave her as she sat in her rocking-
chair, just out of the tempered light of the reading-
lamp, with her dainty gray skirts spread about her
and the firelight flickering on her calm features and
white hands as she plied her needlework, showed
nothing to warrant my suspicion. Only the time
was midwinter, the hour was nine o'clock in the
evening, and even the tight windows and the heavy
silken curtains drawn close could not shut out the
sound of the driving sleet that had been falling all
the evening.
  I knew my cousin well; knew that notwithstand-
ing her Quaker blood and quiet ways she was, as
an old neighbor had long since aptly said of her,
                     a

 

            UNDER THE CRUST
"a woman of her own head," and that she had
during her married life enjoyed the full confidence
of her husband, her senior by some years, and one
of the strong members of the bar, and had always
borne with notable success her full share of the
exactions of a large establishment and a distin-
guished position. I knew further, that since her
husband's death she had ably carried on his char-
itable work and maintained her position as one
of the leaders, not of society, but of everything
else that was good and lofty and dignified. So I
put aside the thought that first sprang into my
mind and declared my readiness to go with her
anywhere and at any time that she might wish.
  "But why on earth do you select that particular
spot and this particular time to look at a country
place" I demanded.
  The question evidently appeared apt to her, and
she gave one of her little chuckles of pleasure which
had just enough of the silvery sound to hall-mark
it a laugh. Folding her hands for a moment in a
way which she had either inherited from the por-
trait of her Quakeress grandmother, on her dining-
room wall, or which she had learned by practice to
make so perfect that it was the exact representa-
tion of that somewhat supercilious but elegant old
dame's easy attitude, she said:
                      4

 

MISS GOD WIN'S INHERITANCE



  "For the best reason in the world, my dear
John! Simply-because."
  This ended it for the moment, but a little later,
having, as I suppose, enjoyed my mystification
sufficiently, she began to give her reasons. In the
first place, she was "completely worn out" with
the exactions of the social life which she had found
gathering about her more and more closely.
  "I feel so tired all the time-so dissatisfied,"
she said, with a certain lassitude quite unusual
with her. "I cannot stand the drain of this life
any longer. My heart--"
  "Your heart! Well, your heart is all right-
that I will swear," I interjected.
  "Don't be frivolous. My heart is my trouble at
present." She gave a nod of mock severity. "I
consulted a doctor and he told me to go to some
European watering place ending in 'heim'; but I
know better than that. It is 'heim' that I want,
but it is an American 'heim,' and I am going to
find it on this side the water. Like that Shunam-
itish woman, 'I dwell among mine own people."'
  "She was ever one of my favorites," I ventured;
"but what is the matter with this 'heim'" I
gazed about the luxurious apartment where Taste
had been handmaid to Wealth in every appoint-
ment.
                      ';

 

            UNDER THE CRUST
  She shook her head wearily.
  "I am so tired of this strenuous life that I feel
that if I do not get out of it and go back to some-
thing that is calm and natural I shall die. It is all
so hollow and unreal. Why, we are all trying to
do the same thing and all trying to think the same
thing, or, at least, say the same thing. We do not
think at all. Scores of women come pouring into
my house on my 'days' and pour out again, con-
tent only to say they have left cards on my table,
and then if I do not leave cards on their tables they
all think I am rude and put on airs because I live
in a big house. Forty women called here to-day,
and thirty-nine of them said precisely the same
thing. I must get out of it."
  "What was it"
  "Nothing." Her face lit up with the smile
which always made her look so charming, and of
which some one had once said: "Mrs. Davison is
not precisely a pretty woman, but her smile is an
enchantment."
  "And what did you say to them"
  "I gave them the exact equivalent-nothing. I
must get out. My husband once said that the
most dreadful thing on earth was a worldly old
woman."
  "You are neither worldly nor old," I protested.
                      6

 
MISS GOD WIN'S INHERITANCE



  She gazed at me calmly.
  "I am getting to be both. I am past forty, and
when a woman is past forty she is dependent on
two things-her goodness and her intellect. I
have lost the one and am in danger of losing the
other. I want to go where I can preserve the few
remnants I have left. And now," she added, with
a sudden return of her vivacity, which was always
like a flash of April sunlight even when the clouds
were lowest, "I have sent for you this evening to
show you the highest proof of my confidence. I
wish to ask your advice, and I want you to give the
best you have. But I do not want you to think
I am going to take it, for I am not."
  "Well, that is frank at any rate," I said. "We
shall, at least, start fair and not be by the way of
being deceived."
  "Yes, I want it; it will help me to clarify my
ideas-to arrive at my own conclusions. I shall
know better what I do not want."
  She gazed at me serenely from under her long
eyelashes.
  "Flattering, at least! How many houses do
you suppose I build on those terms And now
one question before I agree. Why do you want to
take a place which is, so to speak, nowhere-that
is, as you tell me, several miles from anywhere"
                      7

 

UNDER THE CRUST



  "Just for that reason-I want to get oack to
first principles, and I understand that the place I
have in mind was one of the most beautiful old
homes in all New England. It has trees on it that
were celebrated a century ago, and a garden that
is historical. Family-trees can be made easy
enough; but only Omnipotence can make a real
tree, and the first work of the Creator was to plant
a garden."
  "Oh! well, then, I give in. If there is a garden."
For my cousin's love for flowers was a pas-
sion. Her name, Hortensia, was an inspiration or a
prophecy. She could have made Aaron's rod bud.
  "There is one other reason that I have not told
you," she added, after a pause.
  "There always is," I observed, half cynically;
for I was not so pleased as I pretended with her
flatly notifying me that my advice went for
nothing.
  She nodded.
  "My grandfather and the owner of the old place
used to be great friends, and my grandfather
always said it was one of the loveliest spots on
earth: 'A pleasant seat,' he called it. I think he
had a little love affair there once with the daughter
of the house. My grandmother was always rather
scornful about it."
                      8

 

MISS GODWIN'S INHERITANCE



                      II

  A week later we landed about mid-day at the
little station just outside of the village where my
cousin, with her usual prevision, had arranged to
have a two-horse sleigh meet us. Unfortunately,
the day before, a snow of two feet had added to the
two feet which already lay on the ground and the
track outside of town had not been broken. The
day, however, was one of those perfect winter days
which come from time to time in northern lati-
tudes when the atmosphere has been cleared; the
winds, having done their work have been laid,
and Nature, having arrayed herself in immaculate
garb, seems well content to rest and survey her
work. The sunshine was like a jewel. The white
earth sparkled with a myriad myriads of dia-
monds.
  The man to whom my cousin had written, Mr.
Silas Freeman, was on the platform to meet us.
A tall, lank person with a quiet face, a keen nose,
and an indifferent manner. Bundled in a buffalo-
robe coat, he stood on the platform and gazed at us
in a reposeful manner as we descended from the
train. We passed him twice without his speaking
to us, though his eyes were on us with mild and
                      91

 

UNDER THE CRUST



somewhat humorous curiosity. When, in response
to my inquiries, the station agent had pointed him
out, I walked up and asked if he were Mr. Freeman,
he answered briefly: "I be. That's my name."
  I introduced Mrs. Davison, and he extended his
hand in its large fur glove indifferently, while a
glance suddenly shot from his quiet eyes, keen,
curious, and inspective. She instantly took up
the running, and did so with such knowledge of
the conditions, such clearness and resolution, and
withal with such tact, that Mr. Freeman's calm
face changed from granite to something rather
softer, and his eyes began to light up with an
expression quite like interest.
  "No, he hadn't brought the sleigh, 's he didn't
know 's she'd come, seein' 's the weather w'z so
unlikely."
  "But didn't I write you I was coming" de-
manded Mrs. Davison.
  "Waal, yes. But you city folks sometimes
writes more t'n you come."
  Mrs. Davison cast her eye in my direction.
  "You see there!--he knows them." She turned
back to Freeman. "But I am not one of the 'city
folks.' I was brought up in the country."
  Mr. Freeman blinked with something between
incredulity and mild interest.
                      10

 

     MISS GODWIN'S INHERITANCE
  "Well, you'll know better next time," continued
my cousin. "Now remember, the next time I
write, I am coming-if I do not, you look in the
papers and see what I died of."
  Whether it was the words or the laugh that
went with them and changed them from a com-
plaint to a jest, Mr. Freeman's solemnity relaxed,
and he drawled, "All ri-ight."
  "And now, can't we get the sleigh right away"
demanded Mrs. Davison.
  "Guess so. But th' road beyond th' village
ain't broken."
  "Well, can't we break it"
  "Guess so."
  "Well, let's try. I'nm game for it."
  "All ri-ight," with a little snap in his eye.
  If, however, Mr. Silas Freeman did not show any
curiosity as to our movements, he was one of the
few persons we saw who did not. The object of
our coming was evidently known to the population
at large, or to such portion of it as we saw. They
peered at us from the porches of the white houses
under the big elms, or from the stoops of the stores,
where they stood bundled up in rough furs and
comforters, and, turning as we passed, discussed
us as if we were freaks ol Nature.
  As we drove along, plunging and creeping
                     11

 

UNDER THE CRUST



through the snow-drifts, Mr. Freeman began to
unbend. "This road ain't broke, but somebody's
been along here. Guess it's Miss Hewitt."
  "Who is Miss Hewitt"
  "She's one o' Doct' Hewitt's girls-she's one of
the good women-looks after them 's ain't got
anybody else to look after 'em."
  "I hope I shall know her some day," observed
my cousin.
  "She's a good one to know," remarked Mr. Silas
Freeman.
  We crept around the hill toward the river.
  "Ah! 'twas Miss Hewitt," observed the driver
to himself. "She's been to dig out F'lissy."
He was gazing down across the white field at
a small "shackelty" old cabin which lay half
buried in snow, with a few scraggy apple-trees
about it.
  When at length, after a somewhat strenuous
struggle through snow-drifts up to our horses'
backs, we stood on the portico of the old mansion,
though the snow was four feet deep I could not but
admit that the original owner knew a "pleasant
seat" when he saw it. Colonel Hamilton, when
he established himself on that point overlooking
the winding river and facing the south, plainly
knew his business.
                     12

 

      MISS GODWIN'S INHERITANCE
  The remains of a terraced lawn sloped in gra-
cious curves around the hill in front, where still
stood some of the grand elms which, even a century
before, had awakened the enthusiasm of the own-
er's Southern visitor. Beyond, on one side, came
down to the river's margin a forest of pines which
some good fortune, in shape of a life-long litigation,
had spared from the lumberman's axe, and which
stood like an army guarding the old mansion and
its demesnes, and screening them from the en-
croachments of modern, pushing life.
  On the other side, the hill ran down again to the
water's edge, the slope covered with apple-trees
which now stood waist deep in snow.
  Behind, huddled close to the house, were a num-
ber of out-buildings in a state of advanced dilap-
idation, and yet behind these the hill rose nobly a
straight slant of nearly half a mile, its crest, where
once the avenue had wound, crowned with a fine
row of elms and maples, a buttress and defence
against the double storm of the north wind and
the casual tourist.
  Moreover, the original architect had known his
business, or, at least, had known enough to give the
owner excellent ideas, for the house was a perfect
example of the Colonial architecture which seems
to have blown across the country a century and a
                      13

 

UNDER THE CRUST



half ago like the breath of a classical spring, leav-
ing in its path the traces of a classical genius
which had its inspiration on the historic shores of
the AEgean and the Mediterranean. From founda-
tion to peaked roof with its balustrade, in form
and proportion, through every detail of pillar and
moulding and cornice, it was altogether charming
and perfect.
  I became suddenly aware that my cousin's eyes
had been on my face for some time. She had been
enjoying my surprise and delight.
  "Well, what do you think of it"
  "It is charming-altogether charming."
  "I thought you would like it."
  "Like it! Why, it is a work of genius. That
architect, whoever he was-"
  "Helped to clarify the ideas of the owner."
  "Helped to clarify! This is the work of a man
of genius, I say."
  "His name was Hamilton. He built it and
owned it."
  As we came out of the house and plunged around
to the long-closed front door to take another look
at the beautiful facade, my cousin gave an ex-
clamation.
  "Why, here is a rose, all wrapped up and pro-
tected." She was bending over it as if it had been
                     14

 
MISS GODWINS INHERITANCE



a baby in its cradle, a new tone in her voice. "It
is the only sign of care about the whole place. I
wonder what kind it is"
  "I guess that's F'lissy God'in's rose-bush," said
Mr. Freeman, who had followed us in our tour of
inspection, now with an inscrutable look of reserve,
now with one of humorous indulgence.
  "Who is F'lissy Godwin" asked Mrs. Davison,
still bending over the twist of straw.
   "She's one of 'em-she's the one as lives down
the road a piece in that little old house under the
hill you saw."
  "Does any one live in that house!"
  "Waal, if you call it livin'. She stays there any-
way. She wouldn't go to the New Home-pre-
ferred to stay right here, and comes up and potters
around-I al'ays heard she had a rose-bush."
  "Oh! She has a new home Why on earth
doesn't she go there" questioned Mrs. Davison.
  The driver's eyes blinked. "Guess she didn't
like the comp'ny. That's what th' call the poor-
house." His eyes blinked again, this time with
satisfaction at my cousin's ignorance. "They
might's well ha' let her stay on up here. She
wa'nt flighty enough to do any harm, and she'd
ha' taken as good care of the house as any one.
But they wouldn't." His tone expressed such
                     15

 

            UNDER THE CRUST
entire acquiescence that Mrs. Davison asked,
"Who would not"
  "Oh, them others. They had the right, and
they wouldn't; so she's lived down there ever
since I knew her. All the others 're dead now-
she's sort o' 'the last leaf on the tree."'
  The quotation seemed suddenly to lift him up to
a new level.
  My cousin's face had grown softer and softer
while he was speaking.
  "Poor old thing! Could I help her"
  "Waal, I guess you could if you wanted to."
  "I do. Couldn't you give her something for me"
  " I guess I could, but you'd better get somebody
else to do it. She'd want to know where it come
from, and I d'n' know 's she'd take it if she knew
it come from you as is buyin' the place."
  " Oh! I see. But you need not tell her it came
from me. You might give it to her as from your-
self "
  It was the one mistake she made. His face
hardened.
  "Waal, no, I couldn't do that."
  My cousin saw her error and apologized. He
said nothing, but he softened.
  "Miss Hewitt might do it. She's the one as
hunts 'em up and helps 'em."
                     16

 

     MISS GODWIN'S INHERITANCE
  "Well, then I will get her to do it for me. She
will know how."
  "She knows how to do a good many things,"
observed Mr. Freeman quietly.

                     I[I

  After this I knew that nothing would keep my
cousin from buying the place if she could get it,
and so in truth it turned out. After some nego-
tiating, in which every edge was made to cut by
the sellers, the deal was closed and the Hamilton
place with all its "improvements, easements, ap-
purtenances and hereditaments," became hers and
her heirs' forever.
  No child with a new toy was ever more de-
lighted.
  I received one evening an imperative message:
"Pray come immediately," and on my arrival I
knew at once that my cousin had gotten the place.
Her eyes were dancing and all of her old spirit
appeared to have come back. The flush of youth
was on her cheeks. I found the big library table
covered with photographs of the place and the
house, inside and out, and if there was a spot on
the table not covered by a photograph it held a
book on gardening.
                     17

 

            UNDER THE CRUST
  "Well, I have it."
  "Or them," I observed quietly.
  "Them" with a puzzled look. "Never mind!
I know it's an insult, though I do not know just
how. Well, I have sent for you. I want-"
  "My advice"
  "-You to carry out my ideas."
  "How do you know I will"
  "Come, do not talk nonsense. Of course you
will." She did not even take the trouble to smile.
She began to sketch her views rapidly and clearly
in a way that showed a complete comprehension
of the case.
  "The house is to be done just this way. And
the grounds are to be restored as they were. All
these old buildings are to be removed." She was
speaking with a photograph in her hand showing
the decrepit stables-" these-which are recent ex-
crescences, pulled down; this moved back to its
old site under the hill down there-and here is to
be the garden just where it was-and as it was.
See, here is the description."
  She took from the table a small volume bound
in red leather, and opened it.
  "Here is an old letter written by my grand-
father a hundred years ago, giving his impressions
of the place when he visited it."
                     18

 
      MISS GODWIN'S INHERITANCE
  "'Here I am in the Province of Maine, where I
arrived a few days ago, expecting to find myself in
a foreign land. Imagine my surprise when I dis-
covered that the place and the people are more like
those among whom I was brought up in my youth
than in any other part of New England which I
have visited. Of course, I am speaking of its ap-
pearance in the summer, for this is July, and it
might be early June. . .'
  "You don't want all this-hc gives simply a
description of the distinction in classes which he
was surprised to find here-'many of the families
having their coats of arms and other relics of the
gentry-class.' Ah! here it is. Here is the de-
scription:
  "' I was invited to Colonel H.'s and he sent down
for me his barge manned by a half dozen sturdy
fellows, just as might have been sent from Shirley
or Rosewell or Brandon; and on my arrival I
found the Colonel awaiting me on the great rock
which dispenses with any need for a pier, except a
float and a few wooden steps.
  "'He has one of the pleasantest seats which I
have found in all my travels-a house which,
though not large, would. have done justice to any
place in Maryland or Virginia, and which possesses
every mark of good taste and refinement. It
                      19

 

            UNDER THE CRUST
fronts to the south and is bathed in sunlight the
whole day long.
  "'The garden immediately caught my attention,
and I think I might say I never saw more beautiful
flowers, which surprised me, for I had an idea that
this region produced little besides rocks and Puri-
tanical narrowness: of which more anon. The
garden lies at the back of the house, beginning on a
level, with formal borders and grass-walks where
the turf is kept as beautiful as any that I ever saw
in England, and where there is every variety of
flower which Adam and Eve could have known in
their garden. In the first place, roses-roses-
roses! Then all the rest: Rush-leaved daffodils,
the jonquilles-"narcissi," the Colonel's sister calls
them; phlox of every hue; hollyhocks, peonies,
gillies-almost all that you have. Then the shrub-
bery!-lilacs, syringas, meadowsweet, spiraa, and
I do not know how many more. I could not get
over the feeling that they had all been brought
from home. Indeed, I saw a fat robin sitting in a
lilac bush that I am sure I saw at home two months
ago, and when I bowed to him he nodded to me, so
I know he is the same. On the land-side the gar-
den slopes away suddenly into an untilled stretch
of field where the wild flowers grow in unrivalled
profusion. This the Colonel's sister calls her
                      20

 

      MISS GODWIN'S INHERITANCE
"wild garden." A field of daisies looked as if it
were covered with snow.. An old fellow with a
face wrinkled and very like a winter apple, told
me that one "Sir William Pepperil brought them
over, and that is the reason you don't find 'em
anywhere else but here." I did not tell him of
my friend the robin.
  "'By the way, the Colonel's sister is a very
charming young lady-dark hair, gray eyes with
black lashes, a mouth which I think her best
feature, and a demure air. She is so fond of her
garden that I call her Ho:ttensia."'
  "What's that"
  My cousin broke into a silvery laugh. "You
know now where I got my name. But I don't
think my grandmother ever quite forgave her."
  She closed the book.
  "Now, you see what I want-to restore it
exactly as it was, and only to add what will carry
out this idea."
  "Are you going to have a gardener"
  "'Of course-"
  "A landscape gardener"
  "Yes, of course! And a man to furnish the
house by contract-and another to select my pict-
ures for me!"  Her nose was turned up, and she
was chopping out her words at me.
                     21

 

UNDER THE CRUST



  "Well, you need not be so insulted."
  "I told you I wanted to restore it."
  "I only wanted to know how much in earnest
you are."
  "Well, you put one new thing in that house, not
in keeping with the idea I have, and you will
know."
                      IV
  With the first opening of Spring my cousin was
at work on her "restoration." She had the good
sense to select as her head workman-for she
would have no contractor either in or out of the
house-a local carpenter-an excellent man. But
even with this foresight it must be said that her
effort at restoration was not received with entire
approbation by her new neighbors. The gossip
that was brought to her-and there was no little
of it-informed her that they considered her in-
coming as an intrusion, and regarded her with
some suspicion and a little disdain. Some of them
set out evidently to make it very clear to her that
they did not propose to let her interfere in any way
with their habits and customs. They were "as
good as she was," and they meant her to know it.
  In time, however, as she pushed on with her
work, always good-natured and always deter-
                     22

 

MISS GODWIN'S INHERITANCE



mined, she began to make her way with them.
Silas Freeman stood her in good stead, for he be-
came her fast friend.
  "She is rather citified," he agreed, "but she
can't help that, and she ain't a bit airified."
  I was present on an occasion when one of the
first evidences of her gradual breaking into the
charmed circle came. The work on the house was
progressing rapidly. Rotted pediments, broken
window frames, unsound cornices, lost spindles,
being replaced by their exact counterparts; each
bit that needed renewal or repair being restored
with absolute fidelity under her keen eyes. And
all the time she was rummaging around through
the country picking up old furniture and articles
that dated back and belonged to the time when
her grandfather had visited the place. No child
ever enjoyed fitting up a baby-house more keenly
than she enjoyed fitting up this old mansion.
  It was really beginning to show the effect of her
tact and zeal. She had -actually gotten two or
three rooms finished and furnished, and had
moved in, "'the better to see, my dear,"' she said
to me. "Besides, I know very well that the only
way to get workmen out of a house is to live them
out. I mean to spend this summer here."
  Outside, too, the work was progressing favor-
                      23

 

           UNDER THE CRUST
ably, though the frost was scarcely out of the
ground. The rickety buildings were all removed
from her cherished ground "where once the garden
smiled" and she was only awaiting a favorable
season to lay out her garden and put in her seeds
and slips, which were already being gotten ready.
  It was one of those Sunday afternoons in April
when Spring announces that she has come to pay
you a visit, and leaves her visiting card in blue-
birds and dandelions. The bluebirds had been
glancing about the lawn all day, making dashes of
vivid color against the spruces, and even a few
robins had been flitting around, surveying the land
and spying out choice places. Dandelions were
beginning to gleam in favored spots, and a few
green tufts were peeping up where jonquils had,
through all discouragements, lived to shake their
golden trumpets in sheltered places.
  My cousin had enjoyed it all unspeakably. She
had moved all day like one in a trance, with sof-
tened eyes and gentle voice. Before going to
church she had, with her own hands, unwrapped
the rose-bush she had observed on her first visit,
and I heard her bemoaning its poor, starved condi-
tion. "Poor thing-you are the only real old
occupant," I heard her murmur. "You shall have
new soil and I hope you will live."
                      24

 
MISS GODWIN'S INHERITANCE



                      Vr
  The afternoon had been perfect and the sun had
just stolen over toward the top of the western hill
and was sending his light across the yard, tinging
the twigs of the apple-trees with a faint flush of
pink, and we were watching the lengthening shad-
ows when I became aware that there was someone
standing in the old disused road just outside the
yard. She was an old woman, and there was some-
thing so calm about her that she seemed herself
almost like one of the shadows. She was dressed
in the plainest way: an old black dress, now faded
to a dim brown, a coat of antique design and ap-
pearance, in which a faint green under the arms
alone showed that it, too, had once been black, a
little old bonnet over her thin gray hair, which
was smoothed down over her ears in a style of forty
years before.
  "There is someone," I said in a low tone. "Isn't
she quaint "
  My cousin, seeing that she was a poor woman,
moved down the slope toward her.
  "Good afternoon," she said gently.
  "Afternoon"-w th a little shift of her position
which reminded me of a courtesy. "Air you Miss
Davison "
                     25

 

UNDER THE CRUST



  "Yes, I am Mrs. Davison."
  "The one 't bought the place"
  "Yes, I am that one. Can I do anything for
you" The tone of her voice was so kind that the
old woman seemed to gain a little courage.
  "Well, I thought I'd come up and see you a
moment this Sabbath afternoon."
  "Won't you come up and see the sunset"
  "Well, thank you-perhaps I will, if it will not
discompose you."
  My cousin smiled at her quaint speech. As the
visitor came up the slope I saw her small, sunken
eyes sweep the grounds before her and then rest on
the rose-bush which my cousin had unwrapped
that day.
  "It is so beautiful from this terrace," pursued
my cousin.
  "Yes, it is," said the visitor. She stood and
gazed at the sky a moment, then glanced half
furtively at the house and about the grounds, and
again her eyes rested on the rose-bush. Her faded
weather-beaten face had grown soft.
  "I have seen it very often from this spot. I
used to live here."
  " You did! Well, won't you walk into the house
and take a cup of tea I have just ordered tea for
my cousin and myself."
                     26

 

MISS GODWIN'S INHERITANCE



  The visitor gave me a somewhat searching
look.
  " Well, perhaps, I will, thank you." As she fol-
lowed my cousin in, she crossed over to the side of
the walk where the rose-bush was, and her wrin-
kled and knotted old hand casually touched it as
she passed.
  My cousin went off to see about the tea, and I
was left with our visitor. She was pitifully shabby
and worn-looking as she sat there, with shrunken
shoulders and wrinkled face beaten by every storm
of adversity, and yet there was something still in
the gray eyes and thin, close-shut lips of the un-
conquerable courage with which she had faced de-
feat. She was too dazed to say much, but her eyes
wandered in a vague way from one point to
another, taking in every detail of the repair and
restoration. The only thing she said was, "My!-
My!" under her breath.
  When my cousin returned and took her seat at
the little tea-table with its silver service, the old
lady simply sat passive and dazed, and to the
polite questions of the former she answered rather
at random.
  Yes, she was a girl when she lived there. Her
grandfather had left her the right to use one of the
upstairs rooms, but "they' would not let her have
                      27

 

UNDER THE CRUST



it. "They did not like her to come on the place,
so she didn't come much."
  My! wasn't the tea good-" so sweet and warm-
in'"
  Every now and then she became distraite and
vague. She appeared to have something on her
mind or to be embarrassed by my presence, so I
rose and strolled across to a window, and from
there over toward the door. As I passed I heard
her state timidly the object of her visit.
  "I