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burst of enthusiasm ; and she was Jecide'Uy put out by hei
outburst of merry laughter.

" Peter don't laugh at me," pouted she. " I always nod al
him in the right places, and say over enough of the long words
at the ends of the sentences to show that I'm attendirg.
Mamma gets more puzzled than I, and she don't even try to
nod, but pulls on such a helpless face, that I have to go and
kiss her directly. You know Uncle Dick always took care of
oiu: affairs as long as he lived ; and I daresay Mr. Scraper isn't
a very good manager. But Petei will set it all right He
knows all about it."

" ' Oh, the nonsence of th« ideal.

With red-cheeked Pen ^ for the teal ! * *

laughed Sabrina. " But I do knuw that my big brother holds
an opinion with that enthusiastic Genesee farmer who con-
sidered it a fatal mistake to describe heaven as a ' city,' when
it would be so intensely attractive under figure of a model
farm with Yankee improvements."

" I think so too, I'm sure. Isn't our pretty Roaring River
much nicer than any city? God made the country.; men make
the towns. I don't believe he will ever shut us up behind
walls, even though builded of all manner of precious stones."

" Well, ZDe, you have made up your mind to * change youi
condition,' as Deacon Proddy says ; and you have it all fixed
and settled. I don't see how it ever comes to pass that a girl
brings herself to say * yes,' and merge her individuality into her
master's. Poor Hetty Peebles used to hook onto me at school,
and bore me with sighing confidences. She said it was heart-
breaking to refuse so many, and she was so fond of going over
the number of times she had said the * fatal no,' that Chandy •



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HOW ZOE SNUBBED PETER. 21

and Sam always called her the * fatal no-ist' Ah I Zoe, childi
can it be possible that all our school-pleasures are over ? "

" Sabrina, look at me ! " flashed out Zoe. " Are you not en
gaged ? "

'* Engaged ? no indeed ! " Sabrina threw back ter head.

" Do you love Henrique Zambrano ? "

" No," very decidedly.

"OrChandy?"

"I-ove the naughty boy Chandos? The handsome play
fellow of our childhood I the promoter of our frolics I the jes*
ter \ the friend of * Bill Shakes ' ! the kind, generous, funny,
selfish, good-for-naught * pretty boy ' ! Yes, to borrow the words
of our excellent Deacon Williams, I do, in a manner, as you
may say, seemingly, love Sir John ; but prospectively as a lover,
and then as a husband — oh, no ! "

" Well now, be true, Sabrina — Sam Slaughton ? "

Still " no," but more faintly, and with rising color in her face.

" I like them all, Zoe ; but as for love — nonsense ! My
father's daughter loves her home, and her ease, and her sweet
liberty. Why, Zoe, you and I are only sixteen years old ! "

" I shall be seventeen next month, dear. Mamma was mar.
ried at seventeen. She approves of early marriages."

" Oh, of course it is all right if you like it I'm sure I shall
richly enjoy having you for my sister."

"Yes, dear, thank you! The same to you" (bowing).
" Peter says he will take you to Paris with us next year."

" Oh, will he ! Very kind of Peter, I'm sure," replied Sa-
biiiia, loftily. "Pm not in the habit of being taken about. I
prefer to make my own plans mostly."

Zoe laughed, like the elf of mischief she was.

"Very well. You will make your own plans to be my
bridesmaivi, of course. I shall have Pau'ine for the other, and



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22 MOir ZOE SNUBBED PETER.

my cousin Dickon for second bridesman. I think they will
make a ^y little couple. And I want our Chris, if I can
match her with a mate.**

" Would it not be cruel to ask her. We know very well that
her mother would not fumi^ her dresses ; and, poor, girl, hei
heart is too sore to taste any pleasure, even if she gets back
health enough.

" I am afraid so, indeed ; but we wont despair. Peter in-
tends asking Jan Vedder to stand with you. I rather wanted to
have my cousin, Phil Penhurst, from Canadasset, but he says
he does not know him, and he should not like to remember our
wedding so intimately mixed up with a perfect stranger. And,
besides, Phil is going to be married to that pretty Annie Tuftii,
and she mightn't like to have Wm stand with you, you know.
But if you had only known Phil, Sabrina, he'd just suit you, —
* grand, gloomy, and peculiar,' — and, of course, it would be
much nicer and more complete if you had a lover — all in the
family, you see. I should enjoy having Chandy and Sam at my
wedding, df all things; but there's no knowing when they will
come home, and Peter wont hear of waiting. He is getting to
put on plenty of airs lately. I shall have to snub him, I'm
afraid."

"Well, I like that I Snub one's lord and master elect ! A
man whom /can snub, wont ever suit me ! "

" What a pit}' about Phil Penhurst ! You couldn't lay a fin-
ger upon his dignity. Such high mightiness ! And I know it
will be all thrown away on that Annie TuftiL However, it
can't be helped now. And, really and seriously, Sabrina, 1
don't see how you can go back to school, because you will have
to help me select my trousseau. Mamma is such an invalid, I
can't have the heart to drag her about among shops ; and I in-
tend to make the most of the occasion. One doesn't manj



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HOW ZOE SNUBBED PETER, 23

bul once, and I shall thoroughly enjoy choosing pretties. W«
shall have to niake a joiuney to New York, and, of course, she
will go, and we'll take the greatest care of her. And we'll coax
your darling, dear little beauty of a yellow-haired mother to
come along too, and show them off. Such handsome mammai
don't grow on bushes. I like Peter's kinfolk, thafs one com
fort."

" Thank you, Zoe ! And Peter's kinfolk like you ; that'a a
still greater comfort."

" Yes, of course ! And we'll stop at the Metropolitan. I
love to stay there, it is so close by every thing, and right over
Niblo's. And we'll go and see Mr. and Mrs. Florence, and
have a good hearty cry over that dear, delightful * Ticket of
Leave Man,' and a laugh with Mrs. St Evremond, given with
a roll* Oh, you must come along, Sabrina; positively you
must ! "

" When is this important event to be consummated ? (as Miss-
Dulcet sa)rs, who is a happy Httle woman now, by the way).
" ' When shall Hymen light his torch?'"

" The first of April, — All-Fools' Day. Appropriate, isn't it ?
But there is one thing about it : the fools began with Adam and
Eve, and wont end till the last man and woman. Peter had
some practical farming reason for wishing it on that day — I
forget if it was a cattle-show or a sheep-washing. Oh, I re
member now, — there's to be a great Agricultural Convention
somewhere, — at Chicago, or Hartford, or — well, never mind the
place 'y at any rate, he wants to include it in our wedding trip."

"Thafs Peter all over," replied Sabrina, laughing; "bewar
Zoe, dear, how you make an issue about any thing, or you'll
fijid, to your mortification, that you come in only second best
to some brindle bovine, some costly cottswold. You remem-
ber the weeping widower, who declared over his wife's coffin,



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24 ffOlV ZOE SNUBBED PETER.

*I'd as lief lost my best cow, and I believe liefer, tlian nij
poor Malvina' ?"

" Fm not afraid ; Peter always does as I bid him ; T have
him in good training ; he knows I've got to have my own way,
and I intend always to keep a steady hand over him. The
point now in debate is, the absolute necessity for Peter's s'Ster
to stop at home till it is all over."

" Three months ahead ! I certainly can't aflford to lose so
much valuable time, Zoe. The classes would be far in ad
vance of me ; and I shall graduate with my friends, or not at
all. You can go on with the minor details, and you may count
on me for the New York trip and the grand finale ; luckily, we
have vacation in April.

"But, Sabrina," said Zoe, rather ruefully, "I didn't think
you would care about going back without me; I'm sure I
shall be too lonely without you. Why we have been play-
mates ever since we could walk ; half the fun of getting mar-
ried, will be spoilt, if you persist in going off; I think you
might do that little for your own Zoe ; come now, say you will
ftay."

** Let us try on the corals, and talk up the dresses," said
Sabrina, decidedly. " La patience est amere^ mais son fruit est
doux — one of poor dear Chris's favorite proverbs. I wonder
how she is to-day ? of a truth she has need of patience ; don't
talk of lovers to me, while I have her in mind."

" Ah, yes ! but my cousin Phil is not Otho Groenveldt, nor
are you Christabel."

• " Neither you nor I, Zoe, are for an instant to be compared
to her," answered Sabrina, warmly.

" Oh, of course, I'm full willing to admit her superiority, and
yet 1 would not have believed once, that I could ever love hei
so truly, or peiinit you to do so either."



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nOlV ZOE SNUBBED PETER. f 6

" You did glimmer with the green opalescence for a while,**
Aaid Sabrina, kissing the ripe lips offered to her.

Bef*>re the sim went down, rosy-cheeked Peter drove up to
the door, with a perfect chime and clangor of bells ; seated in
the new sleigh, he had just got home from Mansu/s, drawn by
his ponies He threw the reins over their backs ; for he had
trained them to stand without hitching ; and ran into the wide
hall, and looked into the empty drawing-room. The great arm-
chair, which the two girls had vacated, stood before die rug, and
the fire shot out some sparks for greeting ; a long clean " early-
rose" potatoe, i/idiidi he had taken from his pocket, as a
specimen of his crop, when he came to dinner, lay on the
centre-table, among the Christmas gifts. Rainbow Goldsmith
(as Pauline was accustomed to call Chris's pussy), was dos-a^os
with Zoe's King Charles, a round ball apiece, in the comer.
Peter heard voices upstairs, and he turned from the pleasant
picture, and called at the foot in a hearty, cheery way, for his
betrothed

Presently tiie littie gypsy appeared on the landing, arrayed
in a black evening dress of airy fabric ; the rosy corals de-
pending from her ears ; caressing her arms ; the diadem
above her glossy hair, and the necklace rising and falling
with every eager breath. She took a flying slide, with her
hand on the balusters, and such light patting of her little feet,
that she seemed scarcely to touch the stairs; and as swiftly
and softly as a wren drops into her nest, she alighted in Peter's
strong arms, spread out to receive her.

"Oh, Peter!" exclaimed she, making up a rosy businesf?
nouth, " you've forgotten something very important."

"Pumpkins and beans! what is it?" Peter looked anx-
iously into her glowing face. Tell me c^uick, so that I can go
and do it"



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J6 HOW ZOE SNUBBED PETER,

*^YcrjL never got a watch-chain, to these corals, for (linnei
toilette, you know, without the necklace ! black silk, or
grenadine ? "

" That's a fact," said Peter, snapping his fingers. " 'What »
slui)id woodchuck I am, to be sure ! but I'll send right oflf to-
night, and have it up by express."

" Oh, no, don't, Peter, please. It wouldn't be the same at
all, as if you chose it yourself."

**' No more it wouldn't, either, Zoe, and I'll go in the mid
night train."

Zoe lauded merrily. ** You ridiculous Peter ! you'll do no
such thing! I'd rather wait till we all are there, about the
dresses and things ; I must buy Sabrina some jewels, at Ball
and Kack's" (this in a whisper dose to his ear, which slie
pulled down, for convenience), and you and I will steal off
some evening, and have a good little time, and a supper at
Delmonico's, wont we? I think I shall choose opals, she is
so fond of calling me that ; and I know, she likes my ring "
(kissing it) ; " don't you tell, will you ? And Peter ! " (This in a
loud voice.) " Of course, you entirely agree with me in think-
ing that it is clear duty for Sabrina to stay and help me get
married, instead of posting off to that stupid Rosenbloom,
now don't you, Peter ? "

"Well, no, Zoe, I don't I think she ought to graduate with
her class. I'll help you get married ; and I should suppose one
Bradshaw was enough to dangle after you," said steady-going
Peter, in a firm, strong way. " By Jove ! how wonderful you
are in that dress ! you make me think of peaches and cherries,
and strawberries and rose-apples, and I don't know what alL
I've half a mind to kiss you, Zoe."

Almost before he had finished speaking, she was gone.

** Peter," said she, pouting, and flying up the sliirs, " I wont



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HOW ZOR SNUBBED PETRH. i1

have 2J1} watch chain. You needn't trouble )rourself about
me."

Sbe did not reach the landing, before Peter caught her up ;
for he took three stairs, with his long legs ; and so had the ad-
vantage of her.

^' Don't, Mr. Bradshaw ! You are crushing my dress, please
leave me alone ! "

"Zoe, dearest!" I suppose there must have been a dash
of reproach mingled with the surprise, in steady Peter's eyes
and voice ; for Zoe, though she persisted in pushing him oH^
colored violently.

** I don't like you any m(»re. You ought to agree with me,
and take my part"

"Agree with you, right or wrong, 2k)c?" asked Peter,
smiling; " is that my role? Now, Fll be more generous than
that ; / only ask you to think my thoughts, when they are on
the square, and you know and feel it. You may pull out all
the chickweed, and pusley, and keep only the fuschias, and
verbenas and those ; I'll not complain. Take your part I
Yes, darling, I will, against' the world, — that comes with the
vow I am studying every night, before I say my {prayers, so
as to have it all on my toi^;ue's-end before the day. Let's see
how does it go, — * With all my worldly goods — hum — love,
cherish, protect till death.' You see, Zoe, I'm up in the main
parts ; I've got all the seeds in ; only I haven't them rolled down
yet It shall be the business of my life, to keep that vow, 2k)e
— my proudest pleasure."

She stole a glance up into his glistening eyes, and it made
her heart beat, they were so steady, and loving ; but her per-
rerse mood impelled her to persist

" Ver}' well, sir; then begin now, by saying diat Sabrina
ihall stop at home."



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28 KOIV ZOE SNUBBED PETER.

" No> my heart's best darling, Sabrina shall go to school**

" Good^vening, sir; I wont have any watch-chain, and 1
went get married at all ; never in the wide world 1 Now,
there!"

Sabrina, who had kept wisely out of sight, during this dia>
logue, and whose proximity was entirely forgotten by the
talkers, — Sabrina wondered how her rosy cheeked brother
would come out of his fix.

"Zoe, beauiy, don't! even in jest; don't say that! ydxaX
would life be without you."

" Humph — me! It seems your own way is the most im-
portant thing to your life ; and I'm not in jest ; oh, no, sir ! far
fi-om it Tm in real earnest This subject is vastly too important
for irony ; I've made up my mind to go back to school widi
Sabrina; ray education needs finishing as much as hers ; and
if she ought to go, I ought to ; and I'm going to stay on, ever
so many years, till I'm as accomplished as — any thing ! The
fact is, I'm disgusted with you, Peter Bradshaw."

She pushed him off and stuck out her lips perversely, and re-
sisted all his efforts to approach her.

After a little, the young man's face changed, the loving light
in his eyes clouded over, and he shut his teeth firmly together,
and looked steadily at his tantalizing little fianc^, -^o patted
the carpet with her slipper, and shook pettishly her shoulders,
looking down sideways.

" Do you mean it, 2k)e ? " he said, quietly.

" Yes,. I do mean it You are so poky ! " And she looked
as if she did mean it, and she thought herself ill-used. So pro-
vokir:g of Peter to stand out against her whims, and look as solid
and firm as a lock. '^ Of course I mean it," she added, as he
did not speak, or coax, or protest ** Yes ! and now, what have
you got to say about it ? "



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MOW ZOE SNUBBED PETER. 29

" Not much, Zoe ; only if you don't marry me the first day
of next April, you never will — that's alL" He turned, and
walked firmly down the stairs.

Zoe watched him, and her color deepened and paled, and a
faint sickness rushed over her. Peter leaving her in anger !
Would he come back ? Would he look at her before he left
her? Only three stairs more 1 His thick hair curled close
around his head, and his neck looked firm and white as a mar-
ble pillar. His firesh, ruddy cheeks ! she could just see their
crimson glow, and she knew how his eyes shone — quiet and
steady, although they were looking straight before him. His
brown, shapely hand moved down the rail as he stepped.
Only three stairs more I If she let him go, she might never
get him back. In fact, something told her that she never
could. And she loved him dearly. Her heart thumped fast
The last stair, and not a look : he was marching through the
hall, his hand was on the door-knob ! She called softly, —

"Peter!"

"What is it, Zoe?" said he.

** Why are you going so last ?**

" I've nothing to stop for any more."

" But — Peter — Pm coming."

Down she flew like a feather. And again she landed in his
arms outstretched to receive her.

" You are as obstinate as Pauline's donkeys, you old Peter I
And I know quite well that when I begin to give in, there'll be
no end of it You ridiculous fellow I "

^ Zoe smiled bristly, and looked as sweet and firiendly as a
diower-washed rose. And really Peter lost nothing of her re-
spect because he had a mind of his own, and manliness to stand
fast to his own convictions against her. She acknowledged het



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80 MOHT ZOJi SNUBBED PETEML

master. Peter received ho* gladly ; butitwas amiiiLtebefope
the doud cleared off his honest face.

*' Did you mean it, Zoe ? " he asked half doubtfully.

"Mean what?"

"That about gcnng to school"

" Now don't be poky any more, Peter. I've come down to
you, haven't I ? I am here. I mean to be married All-Fools'
Day, if you like to be the other fool," die replied, smiling and
blushii^.

" Dcm't do it again, Zoe ; it hurts."

" I wont if I can help it, Peter ; but you are such a ridicu-
lous fellow I You put on no end oi airs just now, didn't you ?
And as to Sabrina, die'll go anyhow, let you say what you may ;
so there's no use in our wasting our breath disputing over her,
you sec"

" Of comrse ^ will, darling. She's setter than a donkey.
And ^peaking of fools and donkeys, Posey and Whim are at the
door, waiting for you to come out and look at them. Suppose
you get into something warm, and drive Sabrina home, and then
come down to the church and pick me up, and we'll try their
|iaces on die flats. The de^^iii^ is i^aze smooth down there."

"Ah! has my new sleigh come, Peter? Why <lidn't you
lell me before?"

" It is at the door, Zoe."

" Oil, dear I do be quidc and s^ow me my tmmout ! "

She seized his hand, and die two ran down to the door.
Peter pulled a fur cloak from the rack as they dashed by, and
hurriedly wrapped ha* in it ; for the keen wind blew tears out
of her blade eyes which were swiming there. She examined
the whole establishment critically; sleigh, horses, harness,
robes, all canse in Sok minute inspection ; while Peter ^tood
pioudly by.



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AN OLD FRIEND IN THE FURNACE, 31

*' What darling ponies ! Posey and Whim i Oh, you yoiing
villain ! how dared you give them such names ? I must try
Ihem directly. Do you believe they will get to kcow rae
Peter, and to love me ? Pretty creatures I See them look a«
ine!"

*' Oh, yes I I whispered to them, while I was training thein,
who was to be their mistress. But they didn't know how pretty
you were, that is why they study you so. You must feed them
sugar. You know quite well how to do that — sugar is nice."

" Come right away into the house, and let me get ready."

In the hall, Zoe stopped and put her hands upon Petet^f
heaver coat-sleeves, and looked up in his face.

** Peter I — the truth is, I am very fond of you, because you
are just as ^lendid as you can be and live 1 "

" Oh, oh ! " said Sabrina Bradshaw, to herself^ ** that is the
way you snub our Peter, is it, Miss Zoe ? Well, I think he
will probably bear a good deal of that kind of snubbing."



CHAPTER III.

AN OLD FRIEND IN THE FURNACE.

B^SBONTIJS had passed now, at this Christmas-time, since
Elra 91 Ruth Blair commenced her battle in her lonely home
BUhbI asking counsel or help only from the great Fountain
of help. Sorrowfully, and with penitent tears, she lived over tlie
summer. Retracing each wayward step, bitterly bewailing her
blindness, and wondering at her perverse folly ; and the shame-
fill wrong she had done her noble husband, by her foolish, mad
jealousy \ suflering herself to be played upon by Belle Brandcn;,



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33 AN OLD FRIEND IN THE FURNACE.

^- " a school-girl ! a mere child ! " (Heaven keep us from such
children I)

Those of our dear readers who went with us through the
trials of Christabel, the Widow Goldsmith's daughter, will recaC
the exploits and schemes of that beautiful blonde whom Chandy
named Mopsa Pandora ; and to all such as didn% we would
say in the words of the poet, " Buy me, and I will do you
good," because we are now to follow out the lives of some old
acquaintances.

The glamor was removed, the spell broken, and Rulhie
could clearly see the drift of the half-suggestions, artful insinu-
ations and skilful manoeuvres to seciure George Blair's attentions
and give them the appearance of devotion, when she knew it
would galL And the wife, " the little bud of a woman ! " could
have beaten herself for so easily lending her silly soul to the
furtherance of such exploits. Her vain longings for a grand
house, pretty dresses, and rich furniture ; her foolish ambition
for a prominent place in society, in which her good sense had gaxA
to sleep, and all the latent weakness of her nature had strugj^led
to the surface. The small matron had meant to hide, thojght
were hidden in her own breast, and lo ! her noble husltand
had read and understood — and pronounced upon her — even
her secret weakness, her most carefully concealed follies. Belle
Brandon had forced an intimacy upon her. It was none of her
seeking ; and yet it had borne such bitter fruits that she wa^
biought to ask herself the question, " Am I weaker in character
than that child, that school-girl I since the strongest sliould
rule?"

Mrs. George Blair had an inborn love for womanly prelli-
nesses which had never had natiu^ license. Pure-bred ; gentle-
folks on both sides ; orphaned at fifteen ; a teacher at sixteen ;
and her nineteenth birthday not full-orbed, — she was left alon«!



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AN OLD FRIEND IN THE FURNACE. 88

irith her child. The only man she had ever loved, had left her
to work out her life as she could. He was a noble, good fellow
too ; and thought he was giving her back her only chance of
happiness, — freedom and a divorce I

We are accustomed to expect that marriage will mature tho
character as by a miracle ; but the tastes and idiosyncrasies are
not changed by the utterance of the responses. The habits and
desires do not disappear, nor the individuality, when the ring
is slipped upon the little, smooth finger. The bishop's bless-
ing may soften for the time the heart of the white-robed girl
whom he is launching into her untried life, and bring tears to
her eyes ; but that, nor even the first husband-kiss, does not
interrupt the current of her sensibilities, nor metamorphose her
souL And there art cases on record, where the young sposo
has kept his money as closely buttoned in his pocket after he
had pronounced the vow, ** With all my worldly goods I thee
endow," as in his bachelor days, and perhaps counted it and
hoarded " quite unpleasantly."

Poor Ruth had been a tender little mother and a fond wife
till this shadow fell over her. Don't judge her too harshly ;
We all make slips sometimes ; we all have to confess to
foolish wishes, hours of bitter discontent with our position
in life. Many of us think we could gladly shake off our
peculiar burdens, and lift some that look Ughter among our
neighbors. And I fancy there are not many of you, young
wives, but could be made jealous as Ruth was, if ^ome beauti-
ful Belle Brandon showed off her eyes and dimples brilliantly
and successfully at your George. This last remark is throvm



Online LibraryJulie P. SmithChris and Otho; the pansies and orange-blossoms they found in Roaring River ... → online text (page 2 of 39)