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Suburban Sketches   By: (1837-1920)

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First Page:

[Illustration: "She lighted a potent pipe."]

SUBURBAN SKETCHES

BY W. D. HOWELLS

AUTHOR OF "VENETIAN LIFE," "ITALIAN JOURNEYS" ETC.

CONTENTS

MRS. JOHNSON

DOORSTEP ACQUAINTANCE

A PEDESTRIAN TOUR

BY HORSE CAR TO BOSTON

A DAY'S PLEASURE

A ROMANCE OF REAL LIFE

SCENE

JUBILEE DAYS

SOME LESSONS FROM THE SCHOOL OF MORALS

FLITTING

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

SHE LIGHTED A POTENT PIPE

"BUT I SUPPOSE THIS WINE IS NOT MADE OF GRAPES, SIGNOR?"

LOOKING ABOUT, I SAW TWO WOMEN

THE YOUNG LADY IN BLACK, WHO ALIGHTED AT A MOST ORDINARY LITTLE STREET

THAT SWEET YOUNG BLONDE, WHO ARRIVES BY MOST TRAINS

FRANK AND LUCY STALKED AHEAD, WITH SHAWLS DRAGGING FROM THEIR ARMS

THEY SKIRMISH ABOUT HIM WITH EVERY SORT OF QUERY.

A GAUNT FIGURE OF FORLORN AND CURIOUS SMARTNESS.

THE SPECTACLE AS WE BEHELD IT

VACANT AND CEREMONIOUS ZEAL

MRS. JOHNSON

It was on a morning of the lovely New England May that we left the horse car, and, spreading our umbrellas, walked down the street to our new home in Charlesbridge, through a storm of snow and rain so finely blent by the influences of this fortunate climate, that no flake knew itself from its sister drop, or could be better identified by the people against whom they beat in unison. A vernal gale from the east fanned our cheeks and pierced our marrow and chilled our blood, while the raw, cold green of the adventurous grass on the borders of the sopping sidewalks gave, as it peered through its veil of melting snow and freezing rain, a peculiar cheerfulness to the landscape. Here and there in the vacant lots abandoned hoop skirts defied decay; and near the half finished wooden houses, empty mortar beds, and bits of lath and slate strewn over the scarred and mutilated ground, added their interest to the scene. A shaggy drift hung upon the trees before our own house (which had been built some years earlier), while its swollen eaves wept silently and incessantly upon the embankments lifting its base several feet above the common level.

This heavenly weather, which the Pilgrim Fathers, with the idea of turning their thoughts effectually from earthly pleasures, came so far to discover, continued with slight amelioration throughout the month of May and far into June; and it was a matter of constant amazement with one who had known less austere climates, to behold how vegetable life struggled with the hostile skies, and, in an atmosphere as chill and damp as that of a cellar, shot forth the buds and blossoms upon the pear trees, called out the sour Puritan courage of the currant bushes, taught a reckless native grape vine to wander and wanton over the southern side of the fence, and decked the banks with violets as fearless and as fragile as New England girls; so that about the end of June, when the heavens relented and the sun blazed out at last, there was little for him to do but to redden and darken the daring fruits that had attained almost their full growth without his countenance.

Then, indeed, Charlesbridge appeared to us a kind of Paradise. The wind blew all day from the southwest, and all day in the grove across the way the orioles sang to their nestlings. The butcher's wagon rattled merrily up to our gate every morning; and if we had kept no other reckoning, we should have known it was Thursday by the grocer. We were living in the country with the conveniences and luxuries of the city about us. The house was almost new and in perfect repair; and, better than all, the kitchen had as yet given no signs of unrest in those volcanic agencies which are constantly at work there, and which, with sudden explosion, make Herculaneums and Pompeiis of so many smiling households. Breakfast, dinner, and tea came up with illusive regularity, and were all the most perfect of their kind; and we laughed and feasted in our vain security. We had out from the city to banquet with us the friends we loved, and we were inexpressibly proud before them of the Help, who first wrought miracles of cookery in our honor, and then appeared in a clean white apron, and the glossiest black hair, to wait upon the table... Continue reading book >>




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