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Watsons of the Country
MAURICE FRANCIS EGAN
Author of" The Watson Girls" "Belinda" "Belinda's
Cousins " " Jasper Thorn " " Jack Chumleigh" etc., etc.
H. L. KlLNER & Co.
, LENOX AND
Copyright, 1905, by
MAURICE FRANCIS EGAN
.: . /
! * 1 ' I
My Goddaughter, Anna Hamilton,
of Norfolk, Virginia
The author gratefully acknowledges the kind
permission of the Editor of Ave Maria to use
part of this story which originally appeared in
I. CHANGES .....
II. ALICE WATSON ....
III. A LA MODE .....
IV. ANOTHER ARRIVAL ....
V. UNEXPECTED SCENES
VI. IN THE CHRYSANTHEMUM CIRCLE
VII. LONG AGO .....
VIII. THE TRIALS OF THE OWL
IX. HELPLESS .....
X. THE HARDNESS OF HEARTS
XI. HATRED .....
XII. How IT ENDED ....
XIII. " THE STORY OF THE LITTLE GIRL
XIV. THE GARRET ....
XV. ROSE'S PART .....
XVI. A BUNDLE OF LETTERS
XVII. A FIRE
XVIII. A VICTORY
XIX. THE ADVENTURES OF RICHARD WATSON
XX. A TALK ON HISTORY
XXI. PRESQUE ISLE .....
XXII. THE DEER .....
The Watsons of the Country
" I'LL take care of both girls ! ' ' Mr. William
Watson said, when he reached New York and
heard that Alice Watson had been left homeless,
and that the daughter of an old friend, Richard
Harney, was likewise almost alone in the world.
His nephew, Robert Watson, " Bob " of the old
days on Capitol Hill, was at West Point. Clara,
his sister, was in France with Amelia Watson,
and Alice had been sent by another relative to a
very fashionable school in New York ; a school
vvhich her uncle did not like at all. He let her
stay there awhile, however, because, until he be-
came familiar with his other nieces and nephews
at Sweetbrier, he did not know where to place
The lives of our old friends, the Watson chil-
dren, had been saddened by the deaths of their
10 THE WATSONS OF THE COUNTRY
father and mother. Mr. Watson had gone first,
very peacefully in January, and his wife had
followed him, praying for her dear children, in
March. At this time, nearly two years ago,
the Watsons were living on their farm. And
thus Clara, Alice and Bob were left orphans. At
this time Alice had not met her cousins, the
Watsons of Eosebrier. She had heard of them
from her father and mother, and had sent Christ-
mas gifts regularly. Various presents had come
in return ; but Alice always thought of the
Sweetbrier children as "countrified." This was
an adjective which expressed both pity and scorn
on her lips. Uncle William liked Alice ; she was
much younger, as some girls are, than her age.
Her uncle saw that the lessons taught her by her
mother had been hidden by the growth of the
weeds, frivolity and selfishness ; but he knew that
beneath these weeds, the young girl's heart was
true and good. He was rich ; he felt that he
could now help his relatives before deciding on
his own vocation, and he determined to take care,
not only of Alice, but of Josie Harney.
The Watsons at Rosebrier had heard of Bob,
Clara and Alice; but they regarded them as
" city people " and therefore quite benighted !
They commiserated all children brought up in
Uncle William loved the bustle of New York
for a little while. His eldest brother, the father
of Alice, had always liked the cities; but the
owner of Rosebrier and himself had preferred the
life of the country. The Rosebrier Watsons had
been known to their relatives as " The Watsons
of the Country." Mr. Watson of Rosebrier and
his brother, Will, were Philadelphians by birth.
The eldest brother had been born on shipboard
during a long ocean trip, and his love for the sea
had inspired Bob with a love of the sailor's life,
which had, later, changed to a desire for the
career of a soldier.
Mrs. Watson, "of the country," as Uncle
William called her in his talk with Alice, was
likewise a Philadelphian by birth, and Uncle
William made Alice laugh by repeating some of
her stories of her earlier life and that of older
friends in the old-fashioned part of that city,
where, according to Longfellow,
"All the air is balm, and the peach
is the emblem of beauty."
12 THE WATSONS OF THE COUNTRY
" When I go into the country," said Alice, a
little patronizingly, " uncle and aunt must tell me
some of those funny old tiniey stories."
Uncle William laughed. " Yery well," he
said, "you can't please them better than by
listening to them."
Rosebrier was a pretty place. It stood far back
from the quiet country road ; all one could see of
it, through the locusts and maples, was a fat, red
chimney. It was separated from the road by a
beautiful, thick hedge of brier-roses, intertwined
with morning-glory vines.
In the stable, which looked like an ivy-covered
mound, there were two ponies, jolly, good-
natured, slow ponies. Brownie was one, Rosa-
lind the other. Brownie was Texan, who was
so old now that he had almost forgotten his
tricks of bucking and other pleasant peculiarities.
But sometimes the blood of his youth boiled, and
he suddenly went back to some of his old habits.
There was also a surrey in the stable, not a
very new one, but the family at Rosebrier liked
it well enough.
The family consisted of the five Watsons
Mr. and Mrs. Watson, Richard, Bernard and
Kose "Watson. Rose was eight years old ; Rich-
ard was sixteen, and Bernard twelve. The chil-
dren had never been away from home; they
looked on Rosebrier, with its two lawns, its
tennis-court, and its orchard and garden, as the
loveliest place on earth. There were no schools
near ; and Mr. Watson, who was an invalid, had
undertaken to prepare Richard and Bernard for
college, and they made fair progress.
One day their Uncle William Watson came to
visit them at Rosebrier. He stood on the porch
watching them. Bernard was lying at full
length, with Froissart's "Chronicles" under his
eyes ; Richard was feeding Brownie with apples ;
and Rose was approaching the house with an
apronful of flowers for the Blessed Virgin's
" How happy they are ! ' said Mrs. Watson,
with a sigh. " I hope it will last."
"They are too softly protected from all the
winds of life," Uncle William answered. " They
ought to have some variety -
"Surely you would not change them, Will-
iam ! ' interrupted Mrs. Watson. " They are
gentle, kind. Rose is carefully picking out the
14 THE WATSONS OF THE COUNTRY
finest roses for the Blessed Virgin's altar, how
thoughtful! Surely you would not change
them ! "
"Oh, no!" said Uncle William. "But I'd
give them some interest outside of themselves.
Everything is made entirely too smooth for
them. It seems a pity that all this country
freshness and brightness should be monopolized
by three children, while the city swarms with
little ones who stifle all summer long in the
Mrs. "Watson thought for a moment.
"But why shouldn't they enjoy what their
father worked so hard for ? He lost his health
and strength in trying to make his family com-
fortable. Why shouldn't the children enjoy the
result of his work ? "
" They're having too much enjoyment. They
have no interests outside of themselves. They'll
" I don't think they are selfish, Will."
"Well I don't know about that. They've
had no experience to make them unselfish.
Why don't you invite some other young people
to spend the summer here ? Or, better still, let
me get you one or two city children who never
get a breath of country air : poor children or-
phans, if I can get them." Uncle Will was very
Mrs. Watson was silent. She looked at the
velvet lawn, thought of the good order in which
everything was, and shuddered at the prospect.
What if the strange young persons had bad man-
ners ? Suppose they used their knives instead of
their forks at dinner, and pointed at things they
wanted, and tramped over the hall rugs with
muddy shoes ?
Mrs. Watson sighed. " I am afraid / am sel-
fish," she assented, finally ; " but I can't endure
the thought of having rude, uncultivated children
here. All my life has been given up to making
our children what they should be. Did you ever
notice what a soft, sweet voice Rose has ? You
can't imagine what pains I have taken with her.
And to think of some loud-voiced girl coming in
here, marking my curtains with greasy fingers,
disarranging everything, oh, dear, I can't think
of such a thing ! "
Rose, a sweet girl a picture of golden hair,
blue ribbon, white muslin, and dimples, came
16 THE WATSONS OF THE COUNTRY
up at this moment, and put a large bunch of
white and pink roses in a blue china bowl on the
porch table. She smiled very pleasantly at her
Uncle Will, and then took her mother's hand and
nestled close to her mother's side, as a nice little
girl ought to do.
"I am thinking of bringing two orphans to
live with you for a time," said Uncle Will.
" How will you like it ? "
" Poor little things ! " exclaimed Eose. " How
I shall love them ! Just think of having no
father or mother ! Oh, dear," and her blue eyes
moistened, " I think I should die if I were an or-
phan ! ' (The mother and daughter clasped
hands very tenderly.) " I'll let them have part
of my doll's house and here come the boys ! '
Brownie had been taken back to his stable,
and Eichard and Bernard the latter with the
big Froissart under his arm were coming up
the porch steps.
" O Dick," Eose called out, " we're to have two
little orphans to play with ! Uncle Will is going
to bring them. Isn't it lovely ? '
Uncle Will smiled.
Kichard raised his sleepy-looking eyes to his
uncle's face and waited. Bernard said, petu-
"What do we want orphans for? Strangers
pottering around are a nuisance. They mix up
all the books, and these orphans will probably
" I am afraid you are selfish," said his mother.
"Just think of the children stifling in the city
streets this hot weather, and compare their lot
with yours. You can swing in the hammock
over there, where there is always a breeze. You
can jump on Brownie, and feel the breezes rush
past you on the warmest day. But these un-
happy children can find no relief. Yes, Uncle
"Will, bring the orphans here ; they will do us all
good, and we'll do our best to civilize them if
they are a little rough."
" Yery well," Uncle William said. " I may as
well be frank : I've asked them already, and one
will be here to-night."
Mrs. Watson smiled. He had a way of doing
as he pleased, and his intentions were always
good ; but she could not help wishing he had
given her longer warning.
At dinner the sole subject of conversation was
18 THE WATSONS OF THE COUNTRY
the orphans. Rose almost wept as she imagined
their pale cheeks, wistful looks, and utter sorrow-
Uncle William explained that one was his old
friend John Harney's little girl, whose mother
had died some years ago ; and that the other was
their own cousin Alice Watson. He did not
know Josie Harney very well ; but he knew Alice
and he smiled a little, and he hoped they
would all like her, though she was much older.
" Like her ! " exclaimed Eose. " It would be a
sin not to love an orphan ! "
The boys were less enthusiastic. They feared
that some of their favorite amusements might be
interfered with. Richard had some doubts about
the attic where his chemicals were. Rose re-
spected them, and would never dream of invad-
ing his sanctuary. Bernard trembled for his
books; he could leave a precious volume on a
window-seat or on the sitting-room table one
day and find it there the next. The hammock
on the lawn was his : nobody used it, because he
liked to lounge in it and commit his lessons to
memory. The boat on the lake was Richard's,
and the other children always respected him as
its owner. The grapes in the little arbor were
never touched by anybocty until Rose gave the
word, and that was not until she had picked the
largest bunches for her father's feast-day.
Order and peace reigned at Rosebrier; the
children had been taught that order meant com-
fort, and they had all become almost slaves to
comfort. Nobody encroached on the leisure of
anybody else. Mrs. Watson and Rose always
took the back seat in the surrey ; Richard rode
on Brownie and Bernard drove. Mr. Watson
never went out in a carriage; he walked only
within the Rosebrier grounds.
Mr. Watson understood Uncle Will's intention
about the orphans, and laughed silently as the
children discussed it.
"I am afraid we are selfish here, Will," he
said. " There are no better children in the world
than mine, even if I do say it ; but I think the
very happiness we enjoy here is a bad prepara-
tion for actual life, I mean, of course, for the
children ; for I suppose I shall never see much
actual life outside of Rosebrier."
" We'll see how they stand the test. I think
you'll thank me for my interference in this mat-
20 THE WATSONS OF THE COUNTRY
ter. I have an idea the orphans will do them
more good than they'll do the orphans."
" I shall give them some of my old dresses,
shall I not, mamma ? ' said Rose. " The blue
lawn has just a small spot in it, and the pink is
only a little torn. I should think an orphan
would look sweet in that ! '
Rose paused in the act^of peeling a pear and
admired her own generosity. Mrs. Watson cast
an approving glance towards her; but Uncle
Will asked if St. Elizabeth gave only her old
clothes to the poor.
" I don't see why she should give new clothes
away," said Bernard. " Old clothes are good
enough for poor people."
" I don't think St. Martin gave away his cloak
to the poor man because it was old," Uncle Will
Bernard was silent. He said to himself that
as Uncle Will intended to be a priest, of course
he had ideas nobody else could understand. For
himself he would never give away anything that
" Who was St. Martin ? " asked Rose.
" The good French saint who gave his own
cloak to a shivering beggar, and shivered him-
" How uncomfortable ! ' said Eose. " Why
didn't he buy the beggar a new one and keep his
" Because he was a saint, I suppose," answered
Uncle "Will. " But, for your understanding, per-
haps there were no shops, and perhaps he did not
have the money ; and perhaps the beggar might
have died of cold while St. Martin was looking
for a cloak coarse enough to suit the beggar's
station in life."
Eichard looked keenly at his uncle. " I wish
you wouldn't laugh at us, uncle ! Even in
America there are different stations in life ; and
what might suit a beggar would not be suitable
to a gentleman "
Uncle Will sighed and interrupted. " I wish
you would not always think of yourself as a
gentleman, Dick, that is, as somebody apart
from the rest of the world. Let other people
call you a gentleman. Be content with yourself
as a Christian and a human being. I count on
you to be good to the orphans."
" Are they nice, sir ? " Eichard asked.
22 THE WATSONS OF THE COUNTRY
" I really don't know ; but they are Christians
and human beings."
" I suppose they'll be dropping tears all over
the place, and talking of death, and making life
so gloomy that we'll be glad to be rid of them,"
Kichard said, discontentedly. " Oh, dear, I wish
they were gone ! '
"I know the style," remarked his brother.
"Like Smike in 'Nicholas Nickleby': they'll
wear black gowns, and refuse to eat because their
tears choke them." .
" For shame ! ' said Mrs. Watson. " Do you
know, I believe that these children are a trifle
"Too much comfort always makes people
heartless," answered Uncle "Will.
Coffee was served, with a very small cup for
Rose, and the family went into the sitting-room
to say the rosary. This was an invariable cus-
tom at Rosebrier. The children, associating it
with the calm twilight in winter and the glowing
sunset in summer, had learned to love it. Hardly
had Mr. Watson finished when a carriage drove
up to the front door. A voice, calling authori-
tatively and shrilly : " Don't smash my trunk ! '
A minute afterwards a tall girl bounded into
the room, with the exclamation : " How do you
do, all ! I'm Alice Watson."
One of the orphans had come.
24: THE WATSONS OF THE COUNTRY
MRS. WATSON grew sad as she looked at the
newcomer. Uncle Will was in the habit of rul-
ing the household at Rosebrier for its own good,
of course Mr. Watson rather liked it, because, as
he was never quite well, it relieved him of re-
sponsibility ; and Mrs. Watson always held that
whatever her brother-in-law did was right. Oc-
casionally the boys had rebelled ; but they were
so plainly in the wrong at those times, and Uncle
Will so plainly in the right, that their opposition
only made his rule the stronger. Looking at
Alice Watson as she advanced into the lamp-
light, Mrs. Watson felt that she ought to have
insisted on knowing more about the newcomer
before permitting her to come into the house ;
and for the first time she felt somewhat indig-
nant at Uncle Will's high-handed way of provid-
ing her with guests.
Alice had become a tall girl. She wore a big
ALICE WATSON 25
straw hat, with a trailing feather, and a long
plaid ulster, into the pockets of which her hands
" Well, Uncle Will," she said, " I'm here ! "
Uncle Will shook hands with her. " But I did
not expect you until ten o'clock. You know I
told you to take the-
" Oh, I took the other road ! " Alice interrupted
coolly. " It tired me to wait."
She held her cheek towards Mrs. Watson to be
kissed, and smiled condescendingly at Eose, who
Uncle Will introduced the rest of the family.
Alice went through this ceremony with great
self-possession. She made even her uncle and
aunt feel that she was the oldest person present.
Divested of her hat and wrap, she appeared in
an elaborately trimmed frock.
" Dear me," she said, " I am hardly presentable !
I really ought to change my gown."
Kose blushed as she heard these majestic words.
This was the person to whom she had thought of
giving her cast-off dresses!
Mrs. Watson asked Kose to take Alice to her
room, suggesting that it was too late to change
26 THE WATSONS OF THE COUNTRY
her dress. Alice, after some discussion, con-
cluded to have a cup of tea as she was. Mrs.
Watson sent for tea and cake ; and Alice, taking
the large armchair usually reserved for Mr.
Watson, proceeded to refresh herself.
Kichard watched her with interest. He had
never before seen anybody like her. She glanced
about the room with undisguised curiosity. The
Watsons held this room was the prettiest in the
world. Its big windows looked towards the west ;
its polished floor was covered with Turkish rugs ;
and the walls were stained so that the water-
colors, tastefully bound books, brass shields and
candlesticks, showed to the best advantage.
Kichard watched her looks with satisfaction ; she
must admire this room !
"How do you get on without gas, Mrs.
Watson ? Nobody in the city thinks of getting
on without gas or electric light."
Rose looked in astonishment at this bold young
person, who did not admire their beautiful silver
" How old-fashioned ! And rugs too ! You
know they've gone out. Everybody has floors
waxed so that you can see yourself in them, and
ALICE WATSON 27
not a rug anywhere. But I suppose country
people always are a little behind in the styles.
Madame says that everything is Louis Seize
Richard's jaw fell. " Louis Seize ! " What was
" Louis Seize " ?
Fancying from the silence around her that she
was in deeper water than suited her acquaintances,
she condescended to give a few words of expla-
" Louis Seize means Louis the Sixteenth,
the king that beheaded Marie Antoinette, you
Eichard forgot his manners and laughed.
Alice's color rose ; she looked at Mrs. Watson's
pained face. Mrs. Watson had never known
Richard to be so rude before.
" What is that boy laughing at ? " Alice asked,
setting down her teacup.
" I was laughing because it seems to me you
know more about fashion than history," said
the boy, disregarding his mother's shocked
" Hush ! "
" Louis the Sixteenth did cut off Marie An-
28 THE WATSONS OF THE COUNTRY
" Why, Marie Antoinette was his wife ; and the
mob beheaded both her and him ! '
" Of course," said Alice graciously, " I knew
" Of course," answered Richard, sarcastically.
Mr. Watson interfered ; he gravely asked
Richard to leave the room. Richard was in
disgrace, and he could scarcely believe it pos-
sible. Bernard and Rose were aghast. Richard
ordered out of the room, Richard, the pink of
propriety ! Whose turn would it be next ?
Bernard, moved by the awfulness of this event,
could only murmur as his brother passed : " I'd
like to club that orphan ! '
Unhappily, his mother heard him ; the pained
look on her face made life a burden to him for
the rest of the evening. The orphan had not
been in the house half an hour, and her work
had begun : their pleasant circle was already
Mr. Watson went over to the lounge and took
up a book. Alice sipped her tea and was silent
until she saw the rosary.
" Oh, you're all Catholics here, I suppose ? '
she remarked suddenly.
ALICE WATSON 29
" Yes," answered Mrs. Watson. " Is not that
a pretty rosary ? '
" Garnets and pearls, yes, very pretty ; but I
don't bother about religion. Madame Regence
says it's bad form to be too zealous. My sister
does the devotion for the family. Of course I
go to mass when it's clear."
Uncle Will dared not meet Mrs. Watson's eyes
as Alice made this announcement. He felt that
he had made a mistake, and he wished with all
his heart that he had not taken advantage of the
gentleness of the Watsons to force this cousin
The guest yawned, politely covering her mouth
with her hand. Rose was wishing all the time
that she would let papa have his armchair, for
he was falling asleep on the lounge ; and the rest
of the family knew that if he slept now he would
lie awake all night, and be ill in the morning.
Rose drew a long folding-chair into the light,
piled up the pine-scented cushions as high as pos-
sible, and asked Alice if she would not take it.
" Thank you ; I'm quite comfortable," was the
answer, with another yawn.
Mrs. Watson saw with horror that Mr. Watson
30 THE WATSONS OF THE COUNTRY
was closing his eyes. It was felt as a family
calamity when Mr. Watson lost a night's sleep.
If he could only be got into his chair !
" Have you ever seen the moon ? " asked Ber-
nard, nervously, in the hope that she would
change her seat. " I mean, have you ever seen
the moon through our bay-window ?"
" Of course not," answered Alice ; " but I
fancy the moon looks the same through your
bay-windows as through other bay-windows ! '
Bernard was crushed. He looked angrily at
Rose felt that she must do something.
" Papa ! " she said.
No answer, but a slight snore.
" Papa ! "
Still no answer.
" Papa ! ! "
Mr. Watson jumped from his recumbent posi-
tion, with a feeling that the house was a-fire, at
least. His head struck a little ebonv cabinet on
the wall, and the cabinet and a cherished Dres-
den cup and saucer fell to the floor. The cup
was uninjured, but the saucer flew into a dozen
ALICE WATSON 31
Rose, with tears in her eyes, ran to pick up the
fragments. "Oh, I didn't mean to do it ! I really
didn't mean to do it ! " she said, beginning to
Mr. Watson looked with amazed eyes at the
scene. " Rose," he said, " I wish you were more
considerate. Your screaming awakened me so
suddenly that I have a splitting headache. You
used to be more thoughtful ! '
Rose, who had never been rebuked by her
father before this, dropped the fragments of
china, with the cup, which at once went to pieces,
and ran sobbing out of the room.
Bernard sat glowering at the orphan, who
seemed a little tired of the people around her,
but entirely satisfied with herself.
" What do you do in the evenings ? Don't
you find them tiresome ? In New York there is
always something going on."
Rose stole in quietly, and went over to the