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Country Neighbors   By: (1857-1948)

Book cover

First Page:

COUNTRY NEIGHBORS

by

ALICE BROWN

Boston and New York Houghton Mifflin Company The Riverside Press Cambridge 1910

Copyright, 1910, by Alice Brown All Rights Reserved Published April 1910

CONTENTS

THE PLAY HOUSE 1

HIS FIRST WIFE 20

A FLOWER OF APRIL 42

THE AUCTION 53

SATURDAY NIGHT 76

A GRIEF DEFERRED 96

THE CHALLENGE 122

PARTNERS 150

FLOWERS OF PARADISE 171

GARDENER JIM 192

THE SILVER TEA SET 215

THE OTHER MRS. DILL 237

THE ADVOCATE 265

THE MASQUERADE 285

A POETESS IN SPRING 314

THE MASTER MINDS OF HISTORY 341

THE PLAY HOUSE

Amelia Maxwell sat by the front chamber window of the great house overlooking the road, and her own "story an' a half" farther toward the west. Every day she was alone under her own roof, save at the times when old lady Knowles of the great house summoned her for work at fine sewing or braiding rags. All Amelia's kin were dead. Now she was used to their solemn absence, and sufficiently at one with her own humble way of life, letting her few acres at the halves, and earning a dollar here and there with her clever fingers. She was but little over forty, yet she was aware that her life, in its keener phases, was already done. She had had her romance and striven to forget it; but out of that time pathetic voices now and then called to her, and old longings awoke, to breathe for a moment and then sleep again.

Amelia seemed, even to old lady Knowles, who knew her best, a cheerful, humorous body; but only Amelia saw the road by which her serenity had come. Chiefly it was through an inexplicable devotion to the great house. She could not remember a time when it was not wonderful to her. While she was a little girl, living alone with her mother, she used to sit on the doorstone with her bread and milk at bedtime, and think of the great house, how grand it was and large. There was a wonderful way the sun had of falling, at twilight, across the pillars of its porch where the elm drooped sweetly, and in the moonlight it was like a fairy city. But the morning was perhaps the best moment of all. The great house was painted a pale yellow, and when Amelia awoke with the sun in her little unshaded chamber, she thought how dark the blinds were there, with such a solemn richness in their green. The flower beds in front were beautiful to her; but the back garden, lying alongside the orchard, and stretching through tangles of sweet william and rose, was an enchanted spot to play in. The child that was, used to wander there and feel very rich. Now, a woman, she sat in the great house sewing, and felt rich again. As it happened, for one of the many times it came to her, she was thinking what the great house had done for her. Old lady Knowles had, in her stately way, been a kind of patron saint, and in that summer, years ago, when Amelia's romance died and she had drooped like a starving plant, Rufus, the old lady's son, had seemed to see her trouble and stood by her. He did not speak of it. He only took her for long drives, and made his cheerful presence evident in many ways, and when he died, with a tragic suddenness, Amelia used selfishly to feel that he had lived at least long enough to keep her from failing of that inner blight.

On this day when old lady Knowles had gone with Ann, her faithful help, to see the cousin to whom she made pilgrimage once a year, Amelia resolved to enjoy herself to the full. She laid down her sewing, from time to time, to look about her at the poppy strewn paper, the four post bed and flowered tester, the great fireplace with its shining dogs, and the Venus and Cupid mirror... Continue reading book >>




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