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A Speckled Bird   By:

A Speckled Bird by Augusta J. Evans Wilson

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E text prepared by Juliet Sutherland, Mary Meehan, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team (http://www.pgdp.net)

A SPECKLED BIRD

by

AUGUSTA EVANS WILSON

Author of "St. Elmo," "Vashti," "Infelice," "At the Mercy of Tiberius," etc.

"As a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her."

G. W. Dillingham Company Publishers New York

Copyright, 1902, by G. W. Dillingham Company

A Speckled Bird. Issued August, 1902.

To MY KIND READERS KNOWN AND UNKNOWN, WHO HAVE DESIRED AND ASKED ME TO WRITE AGAIN, THESE PAGES ARE OFFERED IN GRATEFUL RECOGNITION OF VERY LOYAL FRIENDSHIP DURING MANY YEARS

A SPECKLED BIRD

CHAPTER I

"Grandma, who named me Eglah?"

"My cousin, Bishop Vivian, when he baptized you."

"Do you think he had any right to put such a label on me?"

"Certainly, because your father selected your name, and the bishop had no choice."

"It is so ugly, I never can like it, and a little baby that can't speak her mind ought not to be tied to something she must drag all her life and hate for ever and ever."

"Eat your breakfast, and try to be a good, quiet child, then your name will not trouble you so much."

"I never shall like it, any more than you do, and you know, grandma, when you call me your mouth twists like you had toothache."

"I was not consulted about your name. It belonged to your New England Grandmother Kent, and as it appears you belong only to your father, you were called after his mother. I heard him tell you it was the name of a queen one of David's wives."

"Yes, but I found out she was not the head queen just a sort of step wife queen. Now if I could only be the pet queen, Sheba, I should not fret at all."

"The Queen of Sheba was not David's wife."

"You are all wrong about your Bible, grandma, because you are only a Methodist. David's Sheba was nicknamed Bath Sheba, for the reason that he saw her going to her bath house, and she looked so pretty. I saw her picture in father's 'Piscopal Bible."

"There, there! Be quiet. Drink your milk."

Mrs. Maurice leaned back in her chair and sighed as she looked down at the fragile child beside her. The tall, silver coffee urn showed in repoussé on one side the flight of Europa, on the other Dirce dragged to death. Eglah could never understand how the strands of the victim's hair supported the weight of her form, and wondered why they did not give way and set the prisoner free. To day she eyed it askance, then surveyed her own fair image reflected in the polished, smooth surface below the band of figures.

"Grandma, don't you think horses are much nicer for ladies to ride than oxen?"

"Yes, my dear."

"Then why did you buy ox riders?" one small finger pointed to the heirloom fetich.

"I did not buy the urn. It has belonged to your Grandfather Maurice's family for one hundred and fifty years, and was brought from Old England. Eliza, take her away. If she cannot be silent, she must go back and have her meals with you. It seems impossible to teach her that in the presence of grown people children are expected to listen."

Mrs. Mitchell came forward from a side table, lifted the little girl from her chair, and untied the ruffled bib that protected her white dimity dress.

"Now tell grandmother you are sorry you annoyed her, and if she will let you sit at her table you will be as quiet as she wishes."

"Ma Lila, don't make me tell stories; she doesn't believe them, and I am so tired saying things I don't mean. I want to go back to the side table, where you are not always scolding me. Grandma, it will be peacefuller if I stay with Ma Lila "

"Hush! Come here."

Mrs. Maurice lifted the little one's dimpled chin and studied the fair face that had bloomed seven years in her lonely home: a winsome face cut like a gem, velvety brown eyes, long lashed, and the pure, pale oval set in a shining bronze frame of curling hair, all chestnut in shade, braided with gold when sunshine hid among the ripples... Continue reading book >>




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