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The Readjustment   By: (1873-1948)

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Copyright, 1910, by





After luncheon they walked over from the ranch house more indeed a country villa, what with its ceiled redwood walls, its prints, its library, than the working house of a practical farm and down the dusty, sun beaten lane to the apricot orchard. Picking was on full blast, against the all too fast ripening of that early summer.

Judge Tiffany, pattern of a vigorous age, seemed to lean a little upon his wife as she walked beside him, her arm tucked confidently into his; but it was a leaning of the spirit rather than of the flesh. She, younger than he by fifteen years, was a tiny woman, her hair white but her waist still slim. She seemed to tinkle and twinkle. Her slight hands, the nail of the little finger was like a grain of popcorn moved with swift, accurate bird motions. As she chattered of the ranch and the picking, her voice, still sweet and controlled, came from her lips like the pleasant music of a tea bell. He was mainly silent; although he threw in a quiet, controlled answer here and there. One could read, in the shadowy solicitude with which she regarded him now and then, the relation between that welded old couple she the entertainer, the hoarder of trivial detail from her days; he the fond, indulgent listener.

"I think Eleanor must be back from the city," Mrs. Tiffany was saying, "I notice smoke from the big chimney; and I suppose she'll be over before noon with the sulphur samples. It's amusing and homey in her her habit of flying to her own little nest before she comes to us. She'll inspect the house, have dinner ordered, and know every blessed detail of the picking before we catch a glimpse of her." Mrs. Tiffany smiled sadly, as though this industry were somewhat tragic.

"I wonder how long Eleanor will be contented with such a way of life?" put in Judge Tiffany.

"I've worried over that," answered his wife. "Suppose she should settle down to it? It isn't as though Eleanor hadn't her chance at travel and society and the things a girl of her breeding should have. This is all her deliberate choice, and I've done nothing to help her choose. Perhaps I should have decided for her. It's curious the guard that girl keeps over her deeper feelings. How unlike she is to her mother and yet how like " Her thought shifted suddenly with the direction of her eyes. "Hasn't Olsen overloaded that little team?" she said.

The cutting shed stood midway of their course. Twenty women and girls, their lips going as rapidly as their knives, sat on fruit crates at long tables, slicing the red and gold balls apart, flicking out the stones, laying the halves to dry in wooden trays. A wagon had just arrived from the orchard. Olsen, the Swedish foreman, was heaving the boxes to his Portuguese assistant, who passed them on into the cutting shed. Further on stood the bleaching kilns; still further, the bright green trees with no artistic irregularities of outline trees born, like a coolie, to bear burdens. Now the branches bent in arcs under loads of summer gilded fruit.

Long step ladders straddling piles of boxes, beside this row or that, showed where picking was going forward. Mrs. Tiffany halted under one tree to call pleasantries up to a Portuguese, friend of many a harvest before. Judge Tiffany proceeded on down the row, pausing to inspect the boxes for any fruit gathered before it was ripe.

The first picker was a Chinese. His box, of course, showed only perfection of workmanship. The Judge called up familiarly:

"Hello, Charlie!"

A yellow face grinned through the branches; the leaves rustled as though some great bird were foraging, and the answer came back:

"Hello you Judge!" The Judge picked over the next two boxes without comment; at the third, he stopped longer... Continue reading book >>

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