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The House in Town   By: (1819-1885)

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A Sequel to "Opportunities."




"No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier." 2 TIM. ii. 4.





Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871, by


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.





"Oh Norton! Oh Norton! do you know what has happened?"

Matilda had left the study and rushed out into the dining room to tell her news, if indeed it were news to Norton. She had heard his step. Norton seemed in a preoccupied state of mind.

"Yes!" he said. "I know that confounded shoemaker has left something in the heel of my boot which is killing me."

Matilda was not like some children. She could wait; and she waited, while Norton pulled off his boot, made examinations into the interior, and went stoutly to work with penknife and file. In the midst of it he looked up, and asked,

"What has happened to you , Pink?"

"Then don't you know yet, Norton?"

"Of course not. I would fine all shoemakers who leave their work in such a slovenly state! If I didn't limp all the way from the bridge here, it was because I wouldn't, not because I wouldn't like to."

"Why not limp, if it saved your foot?" inquired Matilda.

" You would, Pink, wouldn't you?"

"Why, yes; certainly I would."

"Well, you might," said Norton. "But did you ever read the story of the Spartan boy and the fox?"


"He stole a fox," said Norton, working away at the inside of his boot, which gave him some trouble.

"But you haven't stolen a fox."

"I should think not," said Norton. "The boy carried the fox home under his cloak; and it was not a tame fox, Pink, by any means, and did not like being .carried, I suppose; and it cut and bit and tore at the boy all the while, under his cloak; so that by the time he got the fox home, it had made an end of him."

"Why didn't he let the fox go?"

"Ah! why didn't he?" said Norton. "He was a boy, and he would have been ashamed."

"And you would have been ashamed to limp in the street, Norton?"

"For a nail in my boot. What is a man good for, that can't stand anything?"

"I should not have been ashamed at all."

"You're a girl," said Norton approvingly. "It is a different thing. What is your news, Pink?"

"But Norton, I don't see why it is a different thing. Why should not a woman be as brave as a man, and as strong, in one way?"

"I suppose, because she is not as strong in the other way. She hasn't got it to do, Pink, that's all. But a man, or a boy, that can't bear anything without limping, is a muff; that's the whole of it."

"A muff's a nice thing," said Matilda laughing.

"Not if it's a boy," said Norton. "Go on with your news, Pink. What is it?"

"I wonder if you know. Oh Norton, do you know what your mother and Mr. Richmond have been talking about?"

"I wasn't there," said Norton. "If you were, you may tell me."

"I was not there. But Mr. Richmond has been talking to me about it. Norton," and Matilda's voice sank, "do you know, they have been arranging, and your mother wishes it, that I should stay with her?"

Matilda spoke the last words very softly, in the manner of one who makes a communication of somewhat awful character; and in truth it had a kind of awe for her. Evidently not for Norton. He had almost finished his boot, and he kept on with his filing, as coolly as if what Matilda said had no particular interest or novelty. She would have been disappointed, but that she had caught one gleam from Norton's eye which flashed like an electric spark. She just caught it, and then Norton went on calmly,

"I think that is a very sensible arrangement, Pink. I must say, it is not the first time it has occurred to me."

"Then you knew it before?"

"I did not know they had settled it," said Norton, still coolly... Continue reading book >>

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