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Westerfelt   By: (1858-1919)

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E text prepared by Al Haines


A Novel



New York and London Harper & Brothers Publishers 1901 Copyright, 1901, by Harper & Brothers. All rights reserved.




Chapter I

They had had a quilting at the house of the two sisters that day. Six or seven women of the neighborhood, of middle age or older, had been in to sew on the glaring, varicolored square. All day long they had thrust their needles up and down and gossiped in their slow, insinuating way, pausing only at noon to move their chairs to the dinner table, where they sat with the same set curves to their backs.

The sun had gone down behind the mountain and the workers had departed, some traversing the fields and others disappearing by invisible paths in the near by wood. The two sisters had taken the finished quilt from its wooden frame, and were carefully ironing out the wrinkles preparatory to adding it to the useless stack of its kind in the corner of the room.

"I believe, as I'm alive, that it's the purtiest one yet," remarked Mrs. Slogan. "Leastwise, I hain't seed narry one to beat it. Folks talks mightily about Mis' Lithicum's last one, but I never did have any use fer yaller buff, spliced in with indigo an' deep red. I wisht they was goin' to have the Fair this year; ef I didn't send this un I'm a liar."

Mrs. Slogan was a childless married woman of past sixty. Her sister, Mrs. Dawson, had the softer face of the two, which, perhaps, was due to her having suffered much and to the companionship of a daughter whom she loved. She was shorter than her sister by several inches, and had a small, wrinkled face, thin, gray hair, and a decided stoop. Some people said she had acquired the stoop in bending so constantly over her husband's bed during his last protracted illness. Others affirmed that her sister was slowly nagging the life out of her, and simply because she had been blessed with that which had been denied her a daughter. Be this as it may, everybody who knew Mrs. Slogan knew that she never lost an opportunity to find fault with the girl, who was considered quite pretty and had really a gentle, lovable disposition.

"Whar's Sally?" asked Mrs. Slogan, when she had laid the quilt away.

"I don't know whar she is," answered Mrs. Dawson. "I reckon she'll be in directly."

"I'll be bound you don't know whar she is," retorted the other, with asperity; "you never keep a eye on 'er. Ef you'd a watched 'er better an' kept 'er more at home thar never would 'a' been the talk that's now goin' about an' makin' you an' her the laughin' stock of the settlement. I told you all along that John Westerfelt never had marryin' in the back o' his head, an' only come to see her beca'se she was sech a fool about 'im."

"I seed 'er down the meadow branch just now," broke in her husband, who sat smoking his clay pipe on the door step. "She was hard at it, pickin' flowers as usual. I swear I never seed the like. That gal certainly takes the rag off'n the bush. I believe she'd let 'possum an' taters git cold to pick a daisy. But what's the talk?" he ended, as he turned his head and looked at his wife, who really was the source of all his information.

"Why," replied Mrs. Slogan, with undisguised satisfaction in her tone, "Mis' Simpkins says Westerfelt is goin' with Ab Lithicum's daughter Lizzie."

"Well," said Slogan, with a short, gurgling laugh, "what's wrong with that? A feller as well fixed as Westerfelt is ort to be allowed to look around a little, as folks say in town when they are a tradin'. Lord, sometimes I lie awake at night thinkin' what a good time I mought 'a' had an' what I mought 'a' run across ef I hadn't been in sech a blamed fool hurry! Lawsy me, I seed a deef an' dumb woman in town t'other day, and, for a wonder, she wasn't married, nur never had been! I jest looked at that woman an' my mouth fairly watered... Continue reading book >>

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