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Barbara Ladd   By: (1860-1943)

Barbara Ladd by Charles George Douglas Roberts

First Page:

[Illustration: Cover art]

[Frontispiece: Leaning over the edge of the porch she dropped the bundle soundlessly into a bed of marigolds . ( Page 13)]

BARBARA LADD

BY

CHARLES G. D. ROBERTS

AUTHOR OF

THE KINDRED OF THE WILD, THE HEART OF THE ANCIENT WOOD, A SISTER TO EVANGELINE, POEMS, ETC.

ILLUSTRATED BY

FRANK VERBECK

NEW YORK

GROSSET & DUNLAP

PUBLISHERS

Copyright, 1902,

BY L. C. PAGE & COMPANY (Incorporated).

All Rights Reserved.

Published October, 1902

Eighth Impression, April, 1908.

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

"LEANING OVER THE EDGE OF THE PORCH SHE DROPPED THE BUNDLE SOUNDLESSLY INTO A BED OF MARIGOLDS" ( See page 13 ) . . . Frontispiece

"'WHAT A NICE LOOKING BOY YOU ARE!' SHE SAID"

"'O MEHITABLE DEMORALISED BY BARBARA!' VOWED DOCTOR JOHN"

"HE SANK OFF AGAIN, FALLING BACK INTO BARBARA'S SUPPORTING ARMS"

BARBARA LADD

CHAPTER I.

She knew very well that she should have started earlier; but if there was one thing that could daunt her wayward and daring little spirit, it was the dark. Now, as she stood, wide eyed and breathless with suspense, beside her open window, the face of the dark began to change. A gray pallor came over it, and on a sudden she was aware of a black horizon line, ghostly, lonely beyond words, far to the eastward over the yet invisible tree tops. With this pallor came a chill which Barbara felt on her little, trembling hands, on her eyes, and in her heart: as if the night, in going, had laid aside its benignity and touched the world in farewell with a cold hand of warning and menace. Then, here and there a leaf stood out, palely distinct, upon the thick frondage of the apple tree whose nearest branches crowded the roof of the porch below her window. There was a faint chirping from the heart of the syringa thicket; and Barbara's ears were so attentive that she caught the drowsy, awakening flutter of small wings down below in the dewy gloom. With the sound came a cool and delicate pungency from the wet currant bushes, puffed upward to her as if the garden world beneath the leaves had drawn a long breath in getting ready to awake. This tonic scent, which nostrils less keen than Barbara's would scarcely have discerned, came to the child as a signal for action. Peculiarly sensitive to the message and influence of odours, she felt this sudden fragrance in her nerves as a summons, a promise, and a challenge, all in one. Noiselessly she pushed the two diamond paned leaves of her window open to their widest. How the grayness was spreading! A pang of apprehension seized her, lest she had delayed too long. She turned impulsively, and stepped into the darkness of her room.

In a moment her slim little figure reappeared at the window, this time heavily encumbered. In one hand was a round, soft bundle, in the other a square wicker basket with a white cloth tied over the top. The white cloth glimmered conspicuously, but the light was not yet strong enough to reveal the colour of the bundle. Setting both the burdens out upon the roof of the porch, she turned, glanced in at the window, and said, softly:

"Good bye, little room! I haven't been happy with you. But I hope you won't be lonely when I'm gone!"

Leaning over the edge of the porch, she dropped the bundle soundlessly into a bed of marigolds. The basket, on the other hand, she took up with care. Thrusting her left arm through the handle, she swung herself nimbly into the apple tree, and thence to the ground; while the basket tipped and slewed as if it were alive.

"Be still, my babies!" she whispered; and then, picking up the bundle from the crushed marigolds, and never turning her head to look up at the stately old house which she was leaving, she fled down the walk between the currant and gooseberry bushes, the thyme, the sage, and summer savoury beds, through a narrow wicket gate half hidden in larkspur and honeysuckle, along the foot path through the rank and dripping burdocks back of the barn, where she felt a little qualm of homesickness at the sound of her dear horses breathing deeply and contentedly in the stalls, and thence, letting down one of the bars and crawling through with her burdens, out into the graying, hillocky open of the cow pasture... Continue reading book >>




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