xt7brv0cvt1q https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7brv0cvt1q/data/mets.xml Potts, Eugenia Dunlap. 1909  books b92-105-27901584 English Published by the author, : [Lexington, Ky : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Idle hour stories  / by Eugenia Dunlap Potts. text Idle hour stories  / by Eugenia Dunlap Potts. 1909 2002 true xt7brv0cvt1q section xt7brv0cvt1q 


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          Author of
"The Song of Lancaster," "A Kentucky Girl in
Dixie," " Short Mountain Trail," " Stories
   for Children," " The Housekeepers'
     Olio," and " Home Talks."



      PRESS OF



To the memory of my beloved and only son,
   George Dunlap Potts, whose young
      eyes watched with affectionate
         interest the weaving of
              these fancies

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A THRILLING EXPERIENCE ......       ...............  I

A CLUSTER OF RIPE FRUIT ......................   12

THE GHOST AT CRESTDALE ...................... 25

HER CHRISTMAS GIFT ..       ......................... 4(

IN A PULLMAN CAR......                  48

IN OLD KENTUCKY ............................... 58

His GRATITUDE .................................. 71

THE SINGER'S CHRISTMAS ...... ..      ............. 82

TURNING THE TABLES ..........     ................. 88

How SHE HELPED HIm .........      ................. 97

THE IRON Box.................  ........ 106

THE GIRL FARMERS ......... ......... ........   125


PROVING A HEART .......    ............. 135

HEZEKIAH'S WOOING ............ ............... 152

A SUMMER DAISY.................           159

TREESA .......................................... 16)

My FIRST JURY CASE ..........   ................. 178

THREE VISITS    ............ ...................... 187

IN EASTER DAWN ................................ 202

IN THE MAMMOTH CAVE ......................... 215


   REVERIE .................................... 239


   REST ....................................... 243

   THE CHANGED CROSS ...      ........ 244


A Thrilling Experience.

            MIGHT vs. RIGHT.

0JI T is some years since I was station-master,
     telegraph-operator, baggage-agent and
     ticket seller at a little village near some
valuable oil wells.
  The station-house was a little distance from
the unpretentious thoroughfare that had grown
up in a day, and my duties were so arduous
that I had scarcely leisure for a weekly flitting
to a certain mansion on the hill where dwelt
Ellen Morris, my promised wife. In fact, it
was with the hope of lessening the distance be-
tween us that I had under taken these quadruple
  The day was gloomy, and towards the after-
noon ominous rolls of thunder portended a
  Colonel Holloway, the well-known treasurer
of the oil company, had been in the village
several days. About one o'clock he came
hurriedly into the office with a package, which
he laid upon my desk, saying:
  "Take care of that, Bowen, till to-morrow.
I am going up the road."


2             Idle Hour Stories

  The commission was not an unusual one, and
my safe was one of Marvin's best. I counted the
money, which footed up into the thousands,
placed it in the official envelope, affixed the
seals, and deposited it in the safe. As I turned
away from the lock, a voice at the door said:
  'Say, mister, can you tell me the way to the
post office"'
  A sort of shock went through me at the un-
expected presence that seemed to have dropped
down from nowhere, and I replied irritably:
  "You could not miss it if you tried. Keep
straight ahead."
  Soon large drops of rain came down, then
faster and more furiously, till the air was one
vast sheet of wvater, and little rivers leaped
madly along the gullies and culverts. Forked
lightning kept pace with the pealing thunder,
and heaven's own artillery seemed let loose.
  Anything more dismal or dreary could not
well be imagined, and gradually the loneliness
grew very oppressive. Every straggler had fled
to shelter, and the usual idlers had deserted the
  But I resolutely set to work at the dry
statistics of the station-books, with an occa-
sional call to the wires, which were ticking like
mad, so fierce was the electric current.
  It was near five o'clock when a long freight
train came lumbering by, switched off a car or


Idle Hour Stories

two, then dragged its slow length onward.
This created a brief diversion, then once more
I was deserted.
  The next passenger train was not due till ten
o'clock. I lit the lamps and resigned myself
with questionable patience to the intervening
hours. An agreeable interruption came in the
form of my supper, which was brought in a
water-proof basket by a sort of jack-at-all-trades
whom we called Jake. Shaking himself like a
great dog, he "lowed there wa'n't much more
water up yonder nohow."
  "I hope not, indeed," I said, glad of the
sound of a human voice. "Jake!" I called,
as he left the office, "come back as soon as
you can-I may need you."
  I had a vague idea of despatching some sort
of report to Ellen that I had not been entirely
washed away, and obtaining a similar comfort
as to her own fate. I little thought how I should
need him.
  I think I am not by nature more timid than
other men, but as the dismal evening closed
in I took from my desk two revolvers kept
ready for possible emergencies, and laid one
upon the desk where I was making freight en-
tries and the other on the table where the elec-
tric battery stood. At intervals a fresh pack-
age for the night express was brought by some
dripping carrier, who deposited it, got his


Idle Hour Stories

receipt, hung about for a few minuites, then
hastened away to more comfortable quarters.
  Still the rain poured in torrents. It must
have been nearly nine o'clock when a wagon,
hurriedly driven, pulled up suddenly at the
platform. In a moment the door was flung
open, and I saw a small ambulance well known
about the village. Two men sprang out, and
with the help of the driver and his assistant,
proceeded to lift out a box which from its di-
mensions could contain only one kind of freight,
to wit, the remains of a human being.
  Carefully placing this box in a remote corner
of the room, near other boxes awaiting tran-
sportation, the driver and his man returned to
their wagon, while the two strangers approached
the desk to enter their ghastly freight. They
wore slouched hats and were very wet. They
produced a death certificate of one John Slate,
who had died at a farm house several miles away,
of a non-contagious complaint, and was to be
shipped to his friends down the road. This
was all. There was nothing singular about it,
and yet when the door closed upon the stran-
gers and I was again alone, or worse than alone
a feeling of awe came over me. Clearly the
storm had somewhat unstrung me.
  Only one hour till the train was due, after
which I could turn in for the night.



Idle Hour Stories

  A louder peal of thunder shook the house,
and fiercer flashed the lightning. Minute after
minute went by, and each seemed an age. The
roar and din of the elements only deepened the
gloom inside, where the uncertain kerosene
lamp darkened the shadows.
  Suddenly to my overstrained nerves the
ceaseless clicking of the instrument seemed to
say, "Watch the box-watch the box-watch
the box." As a particular strain of melody
will at times repeat itself in the mind, and
obstinately keep time to every movement, till
one is well-nigh distracted, so this refrain began
to enchain every sense: "Watch the box-
watch the box-watch the box." Till now my
depressed spirits were due only to the solitude
and the storm. No suspicion of evil or danger
had tormented me.
  Peering more closely into the dingy corner,
I saw only the ordinary pine box, with what
seemed to be a square paper, or placard, on
the side facing me. Probably the address,
bunglingly adjusted on the side instead of the
top, or else a stain of mud from the late rough
drive. At all events I was not curious enough
to approach more nearly the ghostly visitant.
  Ten minutes had crept by, when a muffled
noise in the dark corner distinctly sounded above
the pelting raindrops, while as if to mock at
my quickened fears, the wires continued their



Idle Hour Stories

monotonous warning, "Watch the box-watch
the box-watch the box."   I did watch the
box, and now as if by inspiration I grasped the
situation. There was indeed a man in the box,
but not a dead one. A living man who had
boldly lent himself to a plot to rob or murder
me, or perhaps both.
  I remembered the straggler who had surprised
me while at the safe, several hours before. He
had doubtless followed Col. Holloway and wit-
nessed the money transaction. Quick and fast
flew my thoughts in the startled endeavor to
grasp some plan of action. Single-handed I
was no match for any man, having recently re-
covered from an attack of malarial fever. This
one in the box (if indeed there was one) must
mean to secure the prize before the train was
due, and escape the consequences. He must
have accomplices, and these were doubtless on
watch, either to give or receive a signal. At
least it was not probable that he would under-
take the job alone, and the fact that he had
confederates had already appeared.
  Perhaps the sight of my pistol had delayed
the attack. Perhaps some part of their plan
had miscarried and caused delay. At all events
I must be cool. I fancied I saw his eyes
through the dark patch on the box. I was al-
most sure he was slowly lifting the lid. There
was no help near, and much might be done in



Idle Hour Stories

the time still to elapse before the train was clue.
  Quietly walking to the battery, I feigned to
take a message. In reality I sent one to the
conductor of the on-coming express, as the only
device whereby I could secure assistance, and
this would doubtless come too late. Yet it was
all I could do just now.
  With every sense on the alert I arose to secrete
my key if possible, when the door burst open,
and Frank Morris, my future brother-in-law,
rushed in, followed by a huge dog that was
Ellen's special pet and attendant.
  "Confound you!" said Frank, spluttering
about and shaking himself as vigorously as the
dog. "I'll be blowed if I ever go on such a
fool's errand as this."
  "Why you are pretty well 'blowed' " I said,
with a poor attempt to be funny, but immensely
  "I never was so glad to see anybody in my
life!" and I meant it.
  "There it is," he said; "make much of it"
as he cleverly flipped a little white missive over
to me. "Such billing and cooing I never want
to see again. Regular spoons, by jove! Can't
go to sleep till she knows you have not been
melted, or washed away, or something. And
Cato must come along to see that her precious
brother doesn't get lost. Ugh! Lie down over



Idle Hour Stories

there, old fellow!'" Then to me he said;
"Here help me out of this wet thing."
  But I was engrossed just then, so ridding him
of the offending garment, the broad-shouldered
young athlete strode about the room in mock
  "Heavens! what a night!" he exclaimed.
"What time does your train pass Ten Just
three minutes. I guess I'll stay; but we will
have that young damsel floating down here if
she doesn't hear pretty soon."
  "Hello, Cato, what's the matter" as the
dog gave a low growl, "what's that in the cor-
ner, Bowen"
  The dog continued to growl and look suspi-
ciously as the young fellow rattled on. "That,"
1 said, "is a dead man."
  "Humph!" he laughed. "Jolly good com-
pany for such a night. I say, Bowen, you've
got a nice toy there," and he took up the pistol
that lay on the table. In the meanwhile I had
scrawled on piece of paper, which I had quietly
placed near the pistol: "The man in the box
is a burglar. Be ready for an attack."
  "Oh that's the game!" he said aloud, and
instantly strode across the room, as Cato sprang
up and barked furiously at the box. Simul-
taneously the top of the box flew up, and utter-
ing a shrill whistle, the man sprang to a sitting
posture, while through the wide-flung door the



Idle Hour Stories

other two ruffians appeared with pistols cocked.
At once there began a deadly struggle. The
dog had leaped upon the box and knocked the
"dead" man's pistol out of his hand, as Frank
shouted, "Toho Cato!" unwilling that the dog
should tear him to pieces, but wishing to keep
him at bay.
  "Your keys! " yelled the other men; "or by
heavens, you' 11 drop! "
  Instantly closing in, man to man, the fierce
struggle went on amid shouts, oaths and pistol
  "Call off your cursed dog!" screamed the
"dead" man continually.
  The encounter, which had occupied scarcely
a minute, was at its deadliest, both Frank and
I endevoring to disarm rather than kill, when
the whistle of the train sounded, and in another
moment the conductor and his men were among
us. "Seize that scoundrel!" shouted Frank
breathlessly, indicating the man in the box.
"Here Cato! " and the obedient animal unwill-
ingly retired, but continued his savage growl.
  At this juncture my man fell to the floor,
badly wounded in the leg, and uttering groans
and imprecations. It was quick work to secure
the men, and Jake, who opportunely reap-
peared, was sent to summon the village police.
Some of the passengers, impatient at the delay,
had got wind of the adventure, and now crowd-



Idle Hour Stories

ed into the station in no little excitement. The
box was found to haye a false side-piece next
to the wall, which was easily pushed down by
the man inside, for greater comfort in his
cramped position; and there were besides a
number of air holes. It was the moving of the
side-panel that caused the muffled noise I had
  I was questioned in all possible ways, and
the.curiosity of the passengers was fully gratified
amid the clamor of the prisoners, who continu-
ally swore at each other. "What did you wait
so infernal long for" said one of them, glaring
at the "dead" man.
  "What was your infernal hurry" retorted the
other, sarcastically.
  It was plain from the quarrel that ensued that
the sight of my pistols and my evident uneasi-
ness, together with effect of the fearful storm,
which confused all signals, had unsettled the
fellow' s plan, and had robbed him of his pres-
ence of mind. While puzzling as to the safest
course, the sudden entrance of Frank and the
dog had precipitated the catastrophe.
  The men were conducted to the County Jail,
and I was the hero of the hour, although I
could not claim much credit for personal valor
in the matter.
Was it Fate or Providence that befriended
me But for my presentiment, or what ever it



Idle Hour Stories

might be, I should have urged Frank's im-
mediate return to my anxious betrothed. But
for her loving anxiety he never would have
come down on such a night. But for the dog
one of us must have been killed. And first of
all, but for the instinctive sense of danger the
telegraph wires would never have spoken a
warning to my excited fancy; and this manifest
feeling of apprehension, though I strove hard
to conceal it, held the man in the box at bay.
  The practical result of the episode was a more
commodious station-house, and more men on
duty. My salary was raised; but eventually
I gave up the situation because my wife could
never feel satisfied to have me perform night
work after the fearful experience I have related.
  As to Frank, he is not backward with explo-
sive English whenever the subject is mentioned,
and no amount of persuasion could ever recon-
cile Cato to the station-room.



A Cluster of Ripe Fruit.


- HEY were five sisters, all unmarried; they
     lived in the old Dutch town that was
     made memorable by Barbara Frietchie's
exploits. They never hoisted a Union flag, or
did any grand thing; but they deserve a place
in story just the same. Their name was Peyre,
and the young people called them "The Pears",
not in derision, for the regard they inspired was
little short of veneration. Their ages ranged
from sixty-five to eighty years when I first knew
them. Unlike the Hannah More quintette, they
were not literary. But no hive of busy bees
was ever more industrious than they in the line
of purely feminine accomplishments.
  "The Pears" were not poor, but they were
frugal. They owned a comfortable two-story
brick house on a quiet street, and let their
ground floor to a small tradesman. The way
to the sisters led along a smothly-paved side
alley, all fenced in, through a little kitchen with
spotless floor and shining tins, up a narrow,
crooked, snow-white stairway, and finally
through funny little chambers, up two steps, or


Idle Hour Storis1

down three, till the workshop was reached.
There they sat, clean and fresh and busy, each
in her own nook; and just there they might
have been found every day these sixty years.
  The workshop had the appearance of tidy full-
ness. An everlasting quilt was stretched across
the end window, and here Miss Becky had laid
her chalk-lines and pricked her fingers through
several generations. The faithful fingers were
brown and crooked, she said, from rheumatism;
but how could theybe straight when eternally
bent over the patchwork Surely the quilt was
not always the same; yet the frames were never
empty, and the chair was never vacant.
  Miss Polly was housekeeper and cook, with
Miss Phcebe to run errands, do the marketing,
visit the needy, and supervise generally. Some
one must have done the mending and darning
and laundry work, but I never saw any of that.
  Miss Sophie (the sisters said Suffy) was the
knitter and her needles were never still. Al-
ways a gray yarn stocking, and never any ap-
pearance of the finished pair. Go when you
would,-and the dear ladies were not alone
many hours,-the knitting was on and going on.
  Miss Chrissy was the beauty. Ages ago
there had been a tradition of a lover, but no-
thing came of it. Perhaps they had all five
lived out their little romances-who could tell
A certain homage was paid to the beauty. Her



Idle Hour Stories

once brilliant auburn hair had paled to grayish
sandy bands that lay smooth under a cap which
was always a little pretentious. Her dark eyes
and smiling lips made the soft white old face
passing fair. Miss Chrissy was the embroiderer
and needle-work artist. Her treasures of scal-
lops and points and eyelets and wheels, all
traced in ink upon bits of letter-paper, were
kept in a big square yellow box that was brist-
ling and bursting at all points.
  This box was marvellous. There could never
have been but one other in the world; and that
I had seen under my great-grandmother's bed,
the bed that had its dainty white frill, and its
glazed calico curtains of gay paradise birds.
They were all of a piece and not easily forgot-
ten. The box had seen hard service among the
"Pears."  It was cross-stitched up and down
the corner's along the bottom and the top, and
all around. It never occurred to them to get a
new one. Like their old Bible, its places could
be found.
  I went, one frosty autumn day, to get a pat-
tern for silk embroidery. Stamping-blocks and
tracing-wheels were unknown quantities to Miss
Chrissy. Her stumpy little pencil-and that,
too, seemed always the same-had to do the
transfering. She liked a bit of harmless gossip,
dear soul; and the young girls of the town
made a point of supplying the lack of a news-



Idle Hour Stories

paper with their busy tongues. So she knew
at once who I was.
  "Oh," she said, with her kindly smile, "you
are young Mrs. John:  I remember when your
husband was a babe. I think I can find it; -
yes, it is down in this corner,"-rummaging in
the yellow box; "here it is-the pattern your
aunt,-Mrs. John, selected for your husband's
first short dress.  All the Hunt family were
customers of ours. Mrs. John, she they called
Aunt Lou, was a great favorite. She was rich,
and had no children. Well, she came one day
all in a flurry to get a pattern-a nice wide one
she said, for little John's dress. He was the
first baby, and they fairly idolized him.  This
is it. I recollect the wheel and the overcast-
ing. It was-let me see-forty years ago,
come this December.  Now, this little scallop
is as popular as any " and she fished up an-
another, all full of needle-pricks. "Some ladies
don't like much embroidery, but they want a
little finish. This one trimmed a set of linen
for Mrs. Senator Jones.  It took me a good
while to draw it.  She don't like this turn in
the corner, so I made up something else. You
know I design my own patterns."
  Then resisting the temptation to give the
history of the rest of her favorites, she put the
box aside and turned her attention to the quart
bottle in hand, with its strip of muslin stretched



Idle Hour Stories

tight around it, over a bewildering collection
of grapes and leaves.  This was her method,
and the admiring sisters thought it perfect.
  That night I teased John's mother into hunt-
ing up the dress, and there was the identical
pattern, edging the fine white cambric now
yellow with age.  She was amused at my re-
port of Miss Chrissy.
  In my annual journeyings to the old town I
never neglected "The Pears." They always
looked as if I had just stepped out for an hour,
and come back. The carpet did not wear out;
the stove never lacked luster; the tiny window-
panes were always just washed, and the dili-
gent fingers went on just the same.  They had
a quaint way noteasy to describe.  When one
talked all the rest chimed in with little whis-
pering echoes, to support the assertion; and
yet they did not seem to interrupt.  They
were to me living wonders, so perfectly un-
spotted from the world, so earnest in their
pigmy money-making, and so thoroughly
united, I felt consumed with curiosity as to
their inner life. They must sometimes put by
the quilting and the knitting and the patterns.
  "How do you interest yourselves evenings,
Miss Chrissy" I asked, half ashamed of the
  "Oh, we read," she said, smiling her ready
smile.  "Yes, read," echoed Miss Suffy and



Idle Hour Stories

the rest.  "We read Sunday-School books,
and our Bible, of course. Sometimes we don't
go to bed till teno'clock."
   "Ten o'clock-o'clock-o'clock," assented
the gentle voices. It was not silly; the smil-
ing faces all wore the sweet, simple look of
guileless childhood.
  Miss Suffy's window overlooked a time hon-
ored graveyard, where gray slabs were tottering.
Next to her beloved patterns and their varied
experiences, Miss Chrissy liked to tell of scenes
and memories suggested by these somber re-
  "It was a very cold day, Mrs. John," (so she
always called me), "when they buried your
husband's uncle out there. Poor fellow! He
was shot at Buena Vista.  A cannon-ball took
off both his legs, and went right through the
horse he rode. He was a gallant officer. They
thought at first he would rally.  The surgeons
did their work quickly, and he suffered little or
no pain, but there was no chloroform in that
day, and he died from the shock.  The snow
was deep on the ground, but it was a grand
funeral. They've got a fine new cemetery out
on the hill, but we never go there.  Our dead
are all here where we can see their graves."
  "Graves," came the echo, they had all along
nodded, or murmured, assent.



Idle Hour Stories

  "One of the saddest funerals we have ever
seen." Miss Chrissy went on, "was a double
funeral. Two young men, both only sons,
were drowned in the river while bathing. Their
mothers were widows. It was terrible.  Two
hearses and two long lines of mourners. There
they lie-over there in that enclosure.  They
were cousins, and were buried side by side."
  "The mothers, Chrissy!" mildly prompted
the whisper, when the narrator paused.
  "Yes, the mothers! one died of a broken
heart, and the other lost her mind outright. She
is living yet, an old woman, who regularly
goes to the front door of the asylum every
morning and takes her seat. If it is cold
weather, she sits inside.  She asks every one
who enters if Luther is coming-that was her
boy's name."
  "Did you know the first Mrs. John Hunt,
Miss Chrissy-my husband's grandmother"
I asked, willing to change the gloomy subject.
  "Just as well as I know you, Mrs. John. She
was a beautiful little woman. I was very young
at the time I am thinking of. She sent at
night for an embroidered flannel I was doing.
It was my first wide pattern, and it went slow.
At 10 o'clock it was finished, and my father
went with me to take it home. They were all
going to Washington to the President's ball-
President Monroe, it was-and the trunk was



Idle Hour Stories

packing. It was to go on the big traveling-
coach. When I ran up stairs and knocked,-
I had often been there before-she opened the
door herself.  'Oh, it's you Chrissy,' she said
in her pleasant way; come in child; don't
you want to see something pretty' And she
showed me twvo elegant brocaded silk gowns,
very narrow and very short-waisted, but stiff
enough to stand alone.'
  "She praised my work and said I was a good
girl. Then she paid me the money and tied a
little blue silk handkerchief around my neck
for a keepsake. 'There,' she said, in her quick
voice, 'you may go.' I did many other pat-
terns for the family, but poor lady! she never
saw me again. She had an illness and lost her
eyesight. She was stone blind for many years.
I have the keepsake yet. It is put away in the
hair-trunk. "
  The sisters were all in full sympathy, as usual.
Thus I sat and listened scores of times, making
a pretence of wanting a pattern,-anything to
get Miss Chrissy story-telling.
  In the centennial year I found "The Pears"
much shaken from their even tenor. The relic-
hunters had penetrated their omnium gatherum
and offered fabulous sums for the quaint old
bits they found there. One of them declared
he must and would have these wonders for the
New England Kitchen. But the sisters were



Idle Hour Stories

outraged. Adroitly I managed to hint a desire
to see those treasures inestimable, and then for
the first time I moved from my accustomed seat,
and they moved from theirs. The magnitude of
their wrongs would admit of nothing like rou-
tine or monotony. The chairs were pushed
back, and I saw five tall, slim figures standing
erect, in straight black gowns, white kerchiefs
and spotless caps. They were devout Lutherans,
and their pew at the Sunday service was never
vacant; but I had never seen them outside the
  We filed into the funny little chambers where
were the high beds, with their steps to be
climbed. What a wilderness of feathers and
patchwork! Some of Miss Becky's work was
there. The bureaus nearly to ceilings, orna-
mented with round glass knobs, had their little
mirrors perched up above my head. The
candle stands, with spindle legs, wore an ante-
diluvian look, and the chairs were just as queer.
The more aspiring ones were prim in starched
antimaccassars. Even the footstools belonged
to a prehistoric age. There was nothing costly
or elegant, but so very ancient and even comi-
cal, I had never seen anything like it, any-
where. A few oil-paintings, hung in the very
border of the huge-figured paper, were small,
but evidently fine.



Idle Hour Stories

   "These things were brought from Alsace,"
explained Miss Chrissy, as I commented freely.
"Elsace is the way to call it-and we can't bear
to have strangers meddling with what is sacred
to us.'"
   "Sacred to us," came from the procession
  At last, pausing before a huge hair trunk, they
all gathered nearer, and when the lid was raised,
they vied with one another in displaying the
contents. It would take a great while to tell
all that I saw, or their curious little speeches
and words and assents. There were samplers
in every style of lettering and color. The in-
evitable tombstone, with the weeping-willow
and mourning female, was among them. Bits
of painted velvet, huge reticules, bead purses;
gay shawls, and curious lace caps-all showed
patient handiwork. Gifts and souvenirs were
plentiful, even to the blue silk keepsake of the
first Mrs. John. Then came old-fashioned silver
spoons and knives and tea-pots, heir-looms,
they said, from the old country. A bit of
coarse paper bore an order for supplies for sol-
diers upon the Commissaire at Nice, and was
signed with the genuine autograph of the great
Napoleon. Every article had its history, and
rarely, if ever, was the little work-shop so
long neglected as on that occasion. When the
procession filed back, I took leave with some-



Idle Hour Stornes

what the feeling of having been buried in
wonderland, and suddenly resurrected.
  Perhaps the shock of the dreaded vandalism
was too much. Perhaps the excitement of the
hair trunk struck too deep. At all events, Miss
Becky grew to muttering over her quilt, and
making long pauses. One day her needle stuck
fast in the patchwork, and her head quietly
sank to rest on the rolled frame. When I paid
my next visit. they said, "You will find it very
odd at The Pears's. Miss Becky is gone."
  I did find it odd. The quilt was rolled for-
ever, and the end window was empty. There
was only the chair. Still Miss Suffy sat with
her stocking, and Miss Chrissy with her patterns,
placid and patient,-they were only waiting;
yet working as they waited. Miss Polly sighed
once in a while over her pans. Miss Phcebe still
went to market and distributed small alms to
the poor. Ripe in good works and in holy re-
signation were The Pears.
  "Our quilter is gone," said Miss Chrissy.
This time there was no whispered echo; only a
gentle sighing all around. But some of the
scallops in the yellow box were not without fresh
adventures; and these I heard.
  That winter, Miss Phoebe fell on the slippery
little side alley. There were no bones broken,
but she, too, sank to rest in the old gray church-



Idle Hour Stories

  It was three years before I went back. Then
they said, "Miss Chrissy is alone." Alone I
found her. She was little changed. The
brightness had merely gone from her smile. I
noticed that her talk was less of her patterns,
and more of the gray slabs. She no longer
clung to the proud little boast, "I design my
own patterns."  She was apt to tell whatSuffy
said, or Polly, or Phcehe, not forgetting Becky,
our quilter.
  "No," she said, when I asked: "Polly was
not sick. She said in the morning, 'Chrissy, do
you ever feel strange in your head' Next
morning she did not wake up. Suffy was never
as strong as the rest-her back was bad; so when
she had a sort of fit one day, it was soon over. "
  'You don' t-you can' t-stay here all alone"
  "No, Mrs. John, Henrietta is with me. You
know Henrietta She belongs to the people
down stairs. I shan't forget her kindness."
  "Are you very lonely, Miss Chrissy" I
asked, choking down the tears.
  "No, not lonely. The dear Lord is with
me; He will stay to the end. No, Mrs. John,
not lonely."
  She had always refrained, in diffidence, or
humility, from religious talk. I know it was
from no lack of deep spiritual conviction. If
ever the world contained a purer, sweeter
sisterhood, I have not known it. Their work



Idle Hour Stories

was homely, as their lives were secluded, but
no one ever saw them idle or impatient. In
one straight and narrow path they walked
through earth's temptations to heaven's re-
  One of the last things she said to me was
that I should take some of the choicest pat-
terns to my western home, notably "little
John's first short dress edge."
  "You have been a helper to us in more ways
than one. God will bless you, Mrs. John."
  "Is there nothing you would have me do
now Dear Miss Chrissy, do not hesitate to
speak. "
  She did hesitate. "I don't think of any-
thing. My papers have long been drawn up.
Lawyer Thomas will attend to them. You
know our little savings are to go to the Home
for Aged Women."
  I never saw her again. Sitting one day,
placid and patient, she fell asleep over the
yellow box; and when they lifted the soft
white old face, all was still.



The Ghost at Crestd