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She went a short distance by herself, however,
and came first to a bakery, where she bought
some buns, not so good as the English ones,
but still very good buns indeed, and two ap-
ples, which the baker s wife told her had grown
in her own garden. You could see the tree
out of the back window, by which the hospita-
ble woman had left her sewing, and they were.


indeed, well-kept and delicious apples for that
late season of the year. Betty lingered for
some minutes in the pleasant shop. She was
very hungry, and the buns were all the better
for that. She looked through a door and saw
the oven, but the baking was all done for the
day. The baker himself was out in his cart ;
he had just gone up to Tideshead. Here was
another way in which one might have gone
to Tideshead by land ; it would have been
good fun to go on the baker's cart and stop in
the farm-house yards and see everybody ; but
on the whole there was more adventure in going
by water. Papa had always told Betty that
the river was beautiful. She did not remem-
ber much about it herself, but this would be a
fine way of getting a first look at so large a
part of the great stream.

It was slack water now, and the wharf
seemed high, and the landing-stage altogether
too steep and slippery. When Betty reached
the packet's deck, old Mr. Plunkett was sound
asleep ; but while she was eating her buns the
dog came most good-naturedly and stood be-
fore her, cocking his head sideways, and
putting on a most engaging expression, so


that they lunched together, and Betty left off
nearly as hungry as she began. The old dog
knew an apple when he saw it, and was dis-
appointed after the last one was brought out
from Betty's pocket, and lay down at her feet
and went to sleep again. Betty got into the
shade of the wharf and sat there looking down
at the flounders and sculpins in the clear wa-
ter, and at the dripping green sea-weeds on
the piles of the wharf. She was almost star-
tled when a heavy wagon was driven on the
planks above, and a man shouted suddenly to
the horses. Presently some barrels of flour
were rolled down and put on deck twelve
of them in all by a man and boy who gave
her, the young stranger, a careful glance every
time they turned to go back. Then a mow-
ing-machine arrived, and was carefully put
on board with a great deal of bustle and loud
talking. There was somebody on deck, now,
whom Betty believed to be the packet's skip-
per, and after a while the old captain returned.
He seated himself by Mr. Plunkett and shook
hands with him warmly, and asked him for
the news ; but there did not seem to be any.
" I 've been up to see my wife's cousin Jake


Hallet's folks," he explained, " and I thought
sure I 'd get left," and old Plunkett nodded
soberly. They did not sail for at least half an
hour after this, and Betty sat discreetly on the
low cabin roof next the wharf all the time.
When they were out in the stream at last she
could get a pretty view of the town. There
was some shipping farther down the shore,
and some tall steeples and beautiful trees and
quaintly built warehouses ; it was very pleas-
ant, looking back at it from the water.

A little past the middle of the afternoon
they moved steadily up the river. The men
all sat together in a group at the stern, and
appeared to find a great deal to talk about.
Old Mr. Plunkett may have thought that
Betty looked lonely, for after he waked for
the second time he came over to where she
sat and nodded to her ; so Betty nodded back,
and then the old man reached for her um-
brella, which was very pretty, with a round
piece of agate in the handle, and looked at it
and rubbed it with his thumb, and gave it
back to her. " Present to ye ? " he asked, and
Betty nodded assent. Then old Plunkett went

-y again, but she felt a sense of his kind


companionship. She wondered whom she must
pay for her passage and how much it would
be, but it was no use to ask so deaf a fellow-
passenger. He had put on a great pair of
spectacles and was walking round her trunk,
apparently much puzzled by the battered labels
of foreign hotels and railway stations.

Betty thought tnat she had seldom seen half
so pleasant a place as this New England river.
She kept longing that her father could see it,
too. As they went up from the town the
shores grew greener and greener, and there
were some belated apple-trees still in bloom,
and the farm-houses were so old and stood so
pleasantly toward the southern sunshine that
they looked as if they might have grown like
the apple-trees and willows and elms. There
were great white clouds in the blue sky ; the
air was delicious. Betty could make out at
last that old Mr. Plunkett was the skipper's
father, that Captain Beck was an old ship-
master and a former acquaintance of her own,
and that the flour and some heavy boxes be-
longed to one store-keeping passenger with a
long sandy beard, and the mowing-machine
to the other, who was called Jim Foss, and


that he was a farmer. He was a great joker
and kept making everybody laugh. Old Mr.
Plunkett laughed too, now that he was wi<?
awake, but it was only through sympathy ,
he seemed to be a very kind old man. One
by one all the men came and looked at the
trunk labels, and they all asked whether Betty
had n't been considerable of a traveler, or
some question very much like it. At last
the captain came with Captain Beck to collect
the passage money, which proved to be thirty-
seven cents.

" Where did you say you was goin' to stop
in Tideshead ? " asked Captain Beck.

" I 'in going to Miss Leicester's. Don't
you remember me ? Are n't you Mary Beck's
grandfather ? I 'm Betty Leicester."

" Toe be sure, toe be sure," said the old
gentleman, much pleased. " I wonder that I
had not thought of you at first, but you have
grown as much as little Mary has. You 're
getting to be quite a young woman. Com-
mand me," said the shipmaster, making a
handsome bow. " I am glad that I fell in with
you. I see your father's looks, now. The
ladies had a hard fight some years ago to keep


him from running off to sea with me. He V
been a great traveler since then, has n't he ? *
to which Betty responded heartily, again feel
ing as if she were among friends. The store-
keeper offered to take her trunk right up the
hill in his wagon, when they got to the Tides-
head landing, and on the whole it was delight-
ful that the trains had been changed just in
time for her to take this pleasant voyage.



BETTY had seen strange countries since her
last visit to Tideshead. Then she was only a
child, but now she was so tall that strangers
treated her as if she were already a young
lady. At fifteen one does not always know
just where to find one's self. A year before
it was hard to leave childish things alone, but
there soon came a time when they seemed to
have left Betty, while one by one the graver
interests of life were pushing themselves for-
ward. It was reasonable enough that she
should be taking care of herself ; and, as we
have seen, she knew how better than most girls
of her age. Her father's rough journey to the
far North had been decided upon suddenly;
Mr. Leicester and Betty had been comforta-
bly settled at Lynton in Devonshire for the
Summer, with a comfortable prospect of some
charming excursions and a good bit of work


on papa's new scientific book. Betty was used
to sudden changes of their plans, but it was
a hard trial when he had come back from
London one day, filled with enthusiasm about
the Alaska business.

" The only thing against it is that I don't
know what to do with you, Betty dear," said
papa, with a most wistful but affectionate
glance. " Perhaps you would like to go to
Switzerland with the Duncans ? You know
they were very anxious that I should lend you
for a while."

" I will think about it," said Betty, trying
to smile, but she could not talk any more just
then. She did n't believe that the hardships
of this new journey were too great ; it was
papa who minded dust and hated the care of
railway rugs and car-tickets, not she. But she
gave him a kiss and hurried out through the
garden and went as fast as she could along the
lonely long cliff-walk above the sea, to think
the sad matter over.

That evening Betty came down to dinner
with a serene face. She looked more like a,
young lady than she ever had before. " I have
quite decided what I should like to do," she


said. " Please let me go home with you and
stay in Tideshead with Aunt Barbara and
Aunt Mary. They speak about seeing us in
wheir letters, and I should be nearer where you
are going." Betty's brave voice failed her for
a moment just there.

" Why, Betty, what a wise little woman you
are ! " said Mr. Leicester^ looking very much
pleased. " That 's exactly right. I was think-
ing about the dear souls as I came from town,

o '

and promised myself that I would run down
for a few days before I go North. That is, if
you say I may go ! " and he looked seriously at

" Yes," answered Betty slowly ; " yes, I am
sure you may, papa dear, if you will be very,
very careful."

They had a beloved old custom of papa's
asking his girl's leave to do anything that was
particularly important. In Betty's baby-days
she had reproved him for going out one morn-
ing. " Who said you might go, Master Papa?'
demanded the little thing severely ; and it had
been a dear bit of fun to remember the old
atory from time to time ever since. Betty's
mother had died before she could remember ;


the two who were left were most dependent
upon each other.

You will see how Betty came to have care-
taking ways and how she had learned to think
more than most girls about what it was best
to do. You will understand how lonely she
felt in this day or two when the story begins.
Mr. Leicester was too much hurried after all
when he reached America, and could not go
down to Tideshead for a few days' visit, as
they had both hoped and promised. And here,
at last, was Betty going up the long village
street with Captain Beck for company. She
had not seen Tideshead for four years, but it
looked exactly the same. There was the great,
square, white house, with the poplars and lilac
bushes. There were Aunt Barbara and Aunt
Mary sitting in the wide hall doorway as if
they had never left their high-backed chairs
since she saw them last.

" Who is this coming up the walk ? " said
Aunt Barbara, rising and turning toward her
placid younger sister in sudden excitement.
" It can't be why, yes, it is Betty, after
all ! " and she hurried down the steps.

" Grown out of all reason, of course ! " she


said sharply, as she kissed the surprising
grandmece, and then held her at arm's-length
to look at her again most fondly. " Where
did you find her, Captain Beck ? We sent
over to the train ; in fact, I went myself with
Jonathan, but we were disappointed. Your
father always telegraphs two or three times
before he really gets here, Betty ; but you
have not brought him, after all."

" We had to come up river by the packet,"
said Captain Beck ; " the young lady 's had
quite a voyage ; her sea-chest '11 be here di-

The captain left Betty's traveling-bag on the
great stone doorstep, and turned to go away,
but Betty thanked him prettily for his kind-
ness, and said that she had spent a delightful
afternoon. She was now warmly kissed and
hugged by Aunt Mary, who looked much
younger than Aunt Barbara, and she saw two
heads appear at the end of the long hall.

" There are Serena and Letty ; you must
run and speak to them. They have been
looking forward to seeing you," suggested
Aunt Barbara, who seemed to see everything
at once; but when Betty went that way no-


body was to be found until she came to the
kitchen, where Serena and Letty were, or pre*-
tended to be, much surprised at her arrival.
They were now bustling about to get Betty
some supper, and she frankly confessed that
she was very hungry, which seemed to vastly
please the good women.

" What in the world shall we do with her ? *
worried Aunt Mary, while Betty was gone.
" I had no idea she would seem so well grown.
She used to be small for her age, you know t

44 Do? do?" answered Miss Barbara Leices-
ter sternlv. " If she can't take care of her-


self by this time, she never will know how.
Tom Leicester should have let her stay here
altogether, instead of roaming about the world
with him, or else have settled himself down in
respectable fashion. I can't get on with teas-
ing children at my age. I 'm sure I 'm glad
she 's well grown. She must n't expect us to
turn out of our ways," grumbled Aunt Bar-
bara, who had the kindest heart in the world,
and was listening anxiously every minute for
Betty's footsteps.

It was very pleasant to be safe in the old


house at last. The young guest did not feel
any sense of strangeness. She used to be
afraid of Aunt Barbara when she was a child,
but she was not a bit afraid now : and Aunt
Mary, who seemed a very lovely person then,
was now a little bit tiresome, or else Betty
herself was tired and did not find it easy to

After supper ; and it was such a too-good
supper, with pound-cakes, and peach jam, and
crisp shortcakes, and four tall silver candle-
sticks, and Betty being asked to her great as-
tonishment if she would take tea and meekly
preferring some milk instead ; they came back
to the doorway. The moon had come up, and
the wide lawn in front of the house (which
the ladies always called the yard) was almost
as light as day. The syringa bushes were in
full bloom and fragrance, and other sweet
odors filled the air beside. There were two
irreverent little dogs playing and chasing each
other on the wide front walk and bustling
among the box and borders. Betty could hear
!;he voices of people who drove by, or walked
along the sidewalk, but Tideshead village was
almost as still as the fields outside the town.


She answered all the questions that the aunts
kindly asked her for conversation's sake, and
she tried to think of ways of seeming inter-
ested in return.

" Can I climb the cherry-tree this summer.


Aunt Barbara ? ' she asked once. " Don't
you remember the day when there was a tea
company of ladies here, and Mary Beck and I
got some of the company's bonnets and shawls
off the best bed and dressed up in them and
climbed up in the trees ? '

"You looked like two fat black crows,"
laughed Aunt Barbara, though she had been
very angry at the time. " All the fringes of
those thin best shawls were catching and snap-
ping as you came down. Oh, dear me, I
could n't think what the old ladies would say.
None of your mischief now, Miss Betty ! " and
she held up a warning forefinger. " Mary
Beck is coming to see you to-morrow ; you
will find some pleasant girls here."

"Tideshead has always been celebrated for
its cultivated society, you know, dear," added
iunt Mary.

Just now a sad feeling of loneliness began
to assail Betty. The summer might be


long in passing, and anything might happen
to papa. She put her hand into her pocket to
have the comfort of feeling a crumpled note, a
very dear short note, which papa had written
her only the day before, when he had suddenly
decided to go out to Cambridge and not come
back to the hotel for luncheon.

They talked a little longer, Betty and the
grandaunts, until sensible Aunt Barbara said,
" Now run upstairs to bed, my dear ; I am
sure that you must be tired," and Betty, who
usually begged to stay up as long as the grown
folks, was glad for once to be sent away like
a small child. Aunt Barbara marched up
the stairway and led the way to the east bed-
room. It was an astonishing tribute of respect
to Betty, the young guest, and she admired
such large-minded hospitality ; but after all
she had expected a comfortable snug little
room next Aunt Mary's, where she had always
slept years before. Aunt Barbara assured her
that this one was much cooler and pleasanter,
and she must remember what a young lady
she had grown to be. " But you may change
to some other room if you like, my dear child,"
said the old lady kindly. " I would n't un-


pack to-night, but just go to bed and get rested.
I have my breakfast at half past seven, but
your Aunt Mary does n't come down. 1 hope
that you will be ready as early as that, for I
like company ; ' and then, after seeing that
everything was in order and comfortable, she
kissed Betty twice most kindly and told her
that she was thankful to have her come to
them, and went away downstairs.

It was a solemn, big, best bedroom, with
dark India-silk curtains to the bed and win-
dows, and dull coverings on the furniture.
This all looked as if there were pretty figures
and touches of gay color by daylight, but now
by the light of the two candles on the dress-
ing-table it seemed a dim and dismal place
that night. Betty was not a bit afraid ; she
only felt lonely. She was but fifteen years
old, and she did not know how to get on by
herself after all. But Betty was no coward.
She had been taught to show energy and to
make light of difficulties. What could she
do? Why, unpack a little, and then go to
bed and go to sleep ; that would be the best

She knelt down before her trunk, and had


an affectionate feeling toward it as she turned
the key and saw her familiar properties inside.
She took out her pictures of her father and
mother and Mrs. Duncan, and shook out a
crumpled dress or two and left them to lie on
the old couch until morning. Deep down in
the sea-chest, as Captain Beck had called it,
she felt the soft folds of a gay piece of Indian
silk made like a little shawl, which papa had
pleased himself with buying for her one day at
Liberty's shop in London. Mrs. Duncan had
laughed when she saw it, and told Betty not to
dare to wear it for at least ten years ; but the
color of it was marvelous in the shadowy old
room. Betty threw the shining red thing over
the back of a great easy-chair and it seemed
to light the whole place. She could not help
feeling more cheerful for the sight of that gay
bit of color. Then a great wish filled her
heart, dear little Betty ; perhaps she could
really bring some new pleasure to Tideshead
that summer ! The old aunties' lives looked
very gray and dull to her young eyes ; it was
a dull place, perhaps, for Betty, who had lived
a long time where the brightest and busiest
people were. The last thing she thought of


before she fell asleep was the little silk shawl,
She had often heard artistic people say " a bir
of color ; ' now she had a new idea, though a
dim one, of what a bit of color might be ex-
pected to do in every-day life. Good-night,
Betty. Good-night, dear Betty, in your best
bedroom, sound asleep all the summer night
and dreaming of those you love 1



HOWEVER old and responsible Betty Leices-
ter felt overnight, she seemed to return to
early childhood in spite of herself next day.
She must see the old house again and chatter
with Aunt Barbara about the things and peo-
ple she remembered best. She looked all
about the garden, and spent an hour in the
kitchen talking to Serena and Letty while
they worked there, and then she went out to
see Jonathan and a new acquaintance called
Seth Pond, an awkward young man, who took
occasion to tell Betty that he had come from
way up-country where there was plenty green-
er'n he was. There were a great many inter-
esting things to see and hear in Jonathan's
and Seth's domains, and Betty found the re-
mains of one of her own old cubby-holes in the
shed-chamber, and was touched to the heart
when she found that it had never been cleared


away. She had known so many places and so
many people that it was almost startling to
find Tideshead looking and behaving exactly
the same, while she had changed so much.
The garden was a most lovely place, with its
long, vine-covered summer-house, and just now
all the roses were in bloom. Here was that
cherry-tree into which she and Mary Beck had
climbed, decked in the proper black shawls
and bonnets and black lace veils. But where
could dear Becky be all the morning ? They
had been famous cronies in that last visit,
when they were eleven years old. Betty hur-
ried into the house to find her hat and tell
Aunt Barbara where she was going.

Aunt Barbara took the matter into serious
consideration. " Why, Mary will come to see
you this afternoon, I don't doubt, my dear,
and perhaps you had better wait until after
dinner. They dine earlier than we, and are
apt to be busy."

Betty turned away disappointed. She wished
that she had thought to find Mary just after
breakfast in their friendly old fashion, but it
was too late now. She would, sit down at the
old secretar^ in the library and begin a letter
to papa.


" Dear Papa," she wrote, " Here I am at
Tideshead, and I feel just as I used when I
was a little girl, but people treat me, even
Mary Beck, as if I were grown up, and it is a
little lonely just at first. Everything looks
just the same, and Serena made me some
hearts and rounds for supper ; was n't she kind
to remember ? And they put on the old silver
mug that you used to have, for me to drink out
of. And I like Aunt Barbara best of the two
aunts, after all, which is sure to make you
laugh, though Aunt Mary is very kind and
seems ill, so that I mean to be as nice to her
as I possibly can. They seemed to think that
you were going off just as far as you possibly
could without going to a star, and it made me
miss you more than ever. Jonathan talked
about politics, whether I listened or not, and
did n't like it when I said that you believed in
tariff reform. He really scolded and said the
country would go to the dogs, and I was sorry
that I knew so little about politico. People
expect you to know so many new things witfc
every inch you grow. Dear papa, I wish tha*
I were with you. Remember not to smoke to*
often, even if you wish to very much ; and


please, dear papa, think very often that I am
your only dear child,


" P. S. I miss you more because they ar
all so much older than we are, papa dear.
Perhaps you will tell me about the tariff re-
form for a lesson letter when you can't think
of anything else to write about. I have not
seen Mary Beck yet, or any of the girls I
used to know. Mary always came right over
before. I must tell you next time about such
a funny, nice old woman who came most of
the way with me in the cars, and what will
you think when I tell you the most important
thing, I had to come up river on the packet I

I wished and wished for you.


Dinner - time was very pleasant, and Aunt
Mary, who first appeared then, was most kind
and cheerful ; but both the ladies took naps^
after dinner was over and they had read their
letters, so Bettv went to her own room, mean


ing to put away her belongings ; but Letty
had done this beforehand, and the large room
looked very comfortable and orderly. Aunt
Barbara had smiled when another protest was


timidly offered about the best bedroom, and
told Betty that it was pleasant to have her
nist across the hall. " I am well used to my
housekeeping cares," added Aunt Barbara,
with a funny look across the table at her
young niece ; and Betty thought again, how
much she liked this grandaunt.

The house was very quiet and she did not
know exactly what to do, so she looked about
the guest-chamber.

There were some quaint-looking silhouettes
on the walls of the room, and in a deep oval
frame a fine sort of ornament which seemed
to be made of beautiful grasses and leaves, all
covered with glistening crystals. The dust had
crept in a little at one side. Betty remem-
bered it well, and always thought it very in-
teresting. Then there were two old engrav-
ings of Angelica Kauffmann and Madame
Le Brun. Nothing pleased her so much, how-
ever, as papa's bright little shawl. It looked
brighter than ever, and Letty had folded it
uid left it on the old chair.

Just then there came a timid rap or two with

ae old knocker on the hall-door. It was early

jor visitors, and the aunts were both in their

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Online LibrarySarah Orne JewettBetty Leicester → online text (page 2 of 13)