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The Old Stone House   By: (1840-1894)

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This e text was converted to ASCII by Wendy Crockett from .pdf images provided for public use at: http://www.cwru.edu/UL/preserve/general.htm

THE OLD STONE HOUSE

by ANNE MARCH

(CONSTANCE FENIMORE WOOLSON)

"He that goeth on his way weeping, and beareth forth good seed, shall doubtless come again with joy and bring his sheaves with him." Psalms cxxvi .

CONTENTS

I. THE FIVE COUSINS II. LIFE AT THE OLD STONE HOUSE III. THE EDITOR'S SANCTUM IV. HUGH V. FOURTH OF JULY VI. SUNDAY VII. THE PICNIC VIII. RIGHT AT LAST IX. THE LAST DAY OF SUMMER X. THE HOME COMING XI. CONCLUSION

CHAPTER I.

THE FIVE COUSINS.

Aunt Faith sat alone on the piazza, and sad thoughts crowded into her heart. It was her birthday, the first day of June, and she could look back over more than half a century, with that mournful retrospect which birthdays are apt to bring. Aunt Faith had seen trouble, and had met affliction face to face. When she was still a bride, her husband died suddenly and left her lonely forever; then, one by one, her brothers and sisters had been taken, and she was made sole guardian of their orphan children, a flock of tender little lambs, to be nourished and protected from the cold and the rain, the snare and the pitfalls, the tempter and the ravening wolf ever prowling around the fold. Hugh and Sibyl, Tom and Grace, and, last of all, wild little Bessie from the southern hill country, this was her charge. Hugh and Sibyl Warrington were the children of an elder brother; Tom and Grace Morris the children of a sister, and Bessie Darrell the only child of Aunt Faith's youngest sister, who had been the pet of all her family. For ten long years Aunt Faith had watched over this little band of orphans, and her heart and hands had been full of care. Children will be children, and the best mother has her hours of trouble over her wayward darlings; how much more an aunt, who, without the delicate maternal instinct as a guide, feels the responsibility to be doubly heavy!

And now, after years of schooling and training, Aunt Faith and her children were all together at home in the old stone house by the lake shore, to spend a summer of freedom away from books and rules. Hugh was to leave her in the autumn to enter upon business life with a cousin in New York city, and Sibyl had been invited to spend the winter in Washington with a distant relative; Grace was to enter boarding school in December, and Tom, well, no one knew exactly what was to be done with Tom, but that something must be done, and that speedily, every one was persuaded. There remained only Bessie, "and she is more wilful than all the rest," thought Aunt Faith; "she seems to be without a guiding principle; she is like a mariner at sea without a compass, sailing wherever the wind carries her. She is good hearted and unselfish; but when I have said that I have said all. Careless and almost reckless, gay and almost wild, thoughtless and almost frivolous, she seems to grow out of my control day by day and hour by hour. I have tried hard to influence her. I believe she loves me; but there must be something wrong in my system, for now, at the end of ten years, I begin to fear that she is no better, if indeed, she is as good as she was when she first came to me, a child of six years. I must be greatly to blame; I must have erred in my duty. And yet, I have labored so earnestly!" Another tear stole down Aunt Faith's cheek as she thought of the heavy responsibility resting upon her life. "Shall I be able to answer to my brothers and sisters for all these little souls?" she mused. "There is Hugh also. Can I dare to think he is a true Christian? He is not an acknowledged soldier of the Cross; and, in spite of all the care and instruction that have been lavished upon him, what more can I truthfully say than that he is generous and brave? Can I disguise from myself his faults, his tendencies towards free thinking, his gay idea of life, ideas, which, in a great city, will surely lead him astray? No; I cannot! And yet he is the child of many prayers... Continue reading book >>




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