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Wee Wifie   By: (1840-1909)

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First Page:

[Illustration]

WEE WIFIE.

A NOVEL.

BY ROSA NOUCHETTE CAREY,

Author of "Not Like Other Girls," "Uncle Max," Etc.

NEW YORK: THE FEDERAL BOOK COMPANY, PUBLISHERS.

PREFACE.

The demand for Wee Wifie has led to a reissue in a cheaper form, but as so many years have elapsed since the story first made its appearance, the author considered that extensive alterations would be necessary before its republication.

It has therefore been carefully revised, and, though the characters and the salient points of the plot have been left untouched, several fresh chapters have been added to assist in the more thorough development of the story.

THE AUTHOR.

WEE WIFIE.

CHAPTER I.

PROLOGUE THE WANDERER.

Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean, Tears from the depth of some divine despair Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes, In looking on the happy Autumn fields, And thinking of the days that are no more.

TENNYSON'S Princess .

Not much of a picture, certainly!

Only a stretch of wide sunny road, with a tamarisk hedge and a clump of shadowy elms; a stray sheep nibbling in a grass ditch; and a brown baby asleep on a bench; beyond, low broad fields of grain whitening to harvest, and a distant film and haze blue cloudiness, and the deep monotonous sound of the great sea.

Yellow sunshine, green turf, the buoyancy of salt spray in the air; some one, trailing a white gown unheeded in the sandy dust, pauses a moment under the flickering elms to admire the scene.

She is a tall, grave woman, with serious eyes and dead brown hair, the shade of withered leaves in autumn, with a sad beautiful face.

It is the face of one who has suffered and been patient; who has loved much and will love on to the end; who, from the depths of a noble, selfless nature, looks out upon the world with mild eyes of charity; a woman, yet a girl in years, whom one termed his pearl among women.

Just now, standing under the elms, with her straight white folds and uncovered hair, for her sun bonnet lay on the turf beside her, her wistful eyes looking far away seaward, one could have compared her to a Norman or a Druidical priestess under the shadow of the sacred oak; there is at once something so benignant and strong, so full of pathos, in her face and form.

Low swaying of branches, then the pattering of red and yellow rain round the rough hewn bench, the brown baby awakes and stretches out its arms with a lusty cry a suggestive human sound that effectually breaks up the stillness; for at the same instant an urchin whittling wood in the hedge scrambles out in haste, and a buxom looking woman steps from the porch of an ivy covered lodge, wringing the soap suds from her white wrinkled hands.

Trifles mar tranquillity.

For a moment silence is invaded, and the dissonant sounds gather strength; for once infant tears fail to be dried by mother smiles, and, as if in answer to the shrill cries, flocks of snow white geese waddle solemnly across the grass; the boy leaves off whittling wood and chases the yellow bills; through the leafy avenue comes the loaded corn wain, the jocund wagoner with scarlet poppies in his hat, blue corn flowers and pink convolvuli trailing from the horses' ears; over the fields sound the distant pealing of bells.

The girl wakes up from her musing fit with a deep sigh, and her face becomes suddenly very pale; then she moves slowly across the road toward a path winding through the bare harvest fields, where the gleaners are busily at work. From under the tamarisk hedge comes the shadow of a woman; as the white gown disappears and the lodge keeper carries off her wailing child, the shadow becomes substance and grows erect into the figure of a girl.

Of a girl in shabby black, foot sore and weary, who drags herself with hesitating steps to the spot where the other woman's feet have rested, and there she stoops and hurriedly gathers a few blades of grass and presses them to her lips... Continue reading book >>




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