Слике страница

“Mercy, no, child. It wouldn't keep clean any time at all. White pantalettes are bad enough without white dresses. If you want, you can go down to the store and pick it out yourself this afternoon. It's pretty hot though. Maybe you better wait until to-morrow.”

She wanted a white dress, but to be allowed to pick out any dress at all was an event that might occur but once in a lifetime.

“I don't mind if it is hot,” she said.

Thus it happened that the afternoon found a hot little girl toiling over the dusty road toward the store. Along the sides of the road the burdock leaves were covered with fine white dust. Even the leaves of the scrub-apple drooped. Not a breath of air stirred them. The goldenrod held up its gay head bravely, but its plumes hung heavily against the sturdy stalk. From hidden places came long, hot, stinging sounds.

Betty plodded on. She felt cross. Even the prospect of the new dress was not comforting. She wanted it, yes, of course she wanted it, but she didn't want any horrid little roses or stiff little figures on it.

At last she was climbing the steps of the village store. The storekeeper sat behind the counter, a big red handkerchief in his hand, a pitcher near him, with little drops of moisture outside and a clinking noise within.

“Hello," he said in surprise, “pretty hot day for little girls, isn't it?"

“Yes, sir,” said Betty, pushing back the damp little curls. “Well, what can I do for you?” he asked.

“Mother sent me here to get some print for a dress.” She was resigned to her fate, but interested in it nevertheless.

He got off his stool slowly.

“I've got some real pretty print,” he said, as he pulled down a piece. “Little pink roses on it. You'll like that, won't you?”

Betty was silent. She had been brought up to tell the truth. He spread it out on the counter.

“It washes beautiful,” he went on. "Mirandy Snow had a dress off it, and it did up beautiful. It's wash goods."

Betty had an idea,-such an audacious one that it frightened her.

“What--what happens if it isu’t ?" she asked timidly. The storekeeper wrinkled his forehead in masculine perplexity. “Well, I don't exactly know. I guess all them little roses would wash out; it would be an awful shame, they're so pretty. But you needn't be afraid. This'll wash all right.” Betty was trembling, but her resolve was made. "Have you any prints that won't wash ?" she said. Mr. Pease looked over his spectacles at her in great astonishment.

“You don't want anything that won't wash, missy. Your ma wouldn't want you to get anything that won't wash." * But have you ? " persisted Betty.

"Well, I don't know but I have,” he admitted reluctantly, and pulled down a second piece.

"You see it's not half so pretty,” he said, “it can't come up to them pink roses."

But Betty did not care.
"I'll take it,” she said decisively.
The astonished man made a few last objections.

“I don't like to let you have it. It ain't first-class goods. It ain't warranted to wash. Your ma

“Five yards, please,” said Betty, firmly.

He cut them off slowly and with obvious reluctance, and stood looking after her as she went out into the heat again.

“Well I swan!” he said. During the long, hot summer afternoons that followed Betty sat in the shade of the wood bine and sewed—with hope. She forgot the heat and the seams she hated, and remembered only that her dress with the ugly little blue spots on it now would be white after it was washed.

“He said the figures would wash out,” she thought. It was her secret. Mother did not even suspect it. She wondered what mother would say when her dress turned out white instead of with the little blue dots on it.

"I guess she'll be surprised,” thought Betty, not without misgivings that she might be something else too.

And so it happened that one morning she sat under the woodbine shelling peas, for the dress was done. And inside she heard not the thump of the flat-iron, but the sound of the scrubbing-board. She listened and waited.

She listened and waited. At last she heard her mother's voice. It was quiet, but there were foreboding notes in it.

Betsy, come here," it said.

Betty went. She was afraid mother did not like it. She almost wished

“See here, Betty,” said her mother,-and yes, she did sound surprised and angry.

Betty looked.

Why, what had happened? The blue was still there. It looked all blue, only it was not pretty,- it was not right. Some places the blue was in blotches, and some places you could hardly see it. And there was not any white at all. She began to cry.


Warm, moist air breathing the odor of sweet flag and spearmint; a country road with hot, dusty surface cooled by the

evening dew; the frogs Shoes That Pass in the Night croaking arguments from

the mist-hidden swamp; the fireflies dancing here and there in the darkness; softly from the distance comes the regular sound of footfalls approaching. Soon a turn in the road makes the sound more distinct, and a light, now eclipsed, now swinging clear, half suggests in outline the cause of the rhythmic tread. Gradually the disturbers of the peace are more distinctly seen. They are four feet; but evidently not those of a quadruped as they are clearly divided into two pairs, which are in a row, or as much in a row as the unevenness of the ground permits.

Two of these travelers are clad in dark russet leather with exceedingly heavy soles somewhat muddy and rather damp. Nothing very extensive appears above the bobbing loops of the shoe strings except the beginning of what must be thick brown woolen golf stockings. The other pair are a good deal smaller and take shorter, more irregular steps with evident care for picking their way. They are a most dainty display of patent leather with toes that go up a bit at the end as if used to this tramp, but hardly bearing the strain gracefully. The little ties stop at the ankle, and the uncertain rise and fall of white lace around these now hides and now reveals a bit of the brightest plaid. Just in front extends a line of a stiff white hem which appears to be caught up at the sides as only starched scallops show here and there, while the embroidered ruffles below hang limp and rather dirty where they have touched the moist ground. With resolute steps the four boots have approached and passed. Now the swaying lantern reveals in its yellow light only the russets, and the golf stockings cast their shadow on the white duck and the lace. A low monotone of conversation was wafted on the air as they passed, but it is soon lost in the distance. The feet fall into step more evenly now, but after a little space, the patent leathers suddenly turn right around and a moment later continue their march on the other side of the road-where the walking is much worse! The way seems hard and the little black shoes trip occasionally. Soon the brown ones come to the rescue and the lock step is continued, but presently it slackens and finally stops. The lantern is set down-hard, not carefully. One side of the skirt is dropped, then the other. Then suddenly both little patent leathers go right off the ground, a muffled cry sounds on the air and the lantern, jarred by the movement, slips from its critical position and the light goes out; but on the summer night sounds a glad, little laugh and the fireflies dance more giddily and the last, sleepy croak of the frogs is hushed.



A scent of wild roses, a river's flow,

Green grasses that bend and sway ;-
And a half-formed wish that I hardly know

Comes into my mind to-day.

A face that means all the world to me,

Dark eyes now tender, now gay ;-
And a clear ideal of what I would be
Comes into my heart to-day.



One doctrine of the modern psychology of crowds emphasizes the loss of a sense of responsibility suffered more or less completely by the individual in a large assemblage. This principle doubtless contains the explanation of that most unpleasant phenomenon of our composite life,-the discourtesy of the college audience. Happily this discourtesy is by no means the habitual attitude; on the contrary, no other audience is more enthusiastic, more sensitively appreciative, when the right appeal is made; but woe to the orator or to the lecturer who fails to make this appeal! He may perhaps offend by the too ingratiating tone of his preamble. Then will the roses ranged before him prove to have thorns, and the sweet and gentle femininity that he so gracefully lauded vent its outraged feelings in a retribution quite incongruous with his metaphors. Again, he may be guilty of a grammatical slip, or of a peculiar style of enunciation, or of any mannerism in speech or gesture. Whatever the. case, the result will be the same. The speaker will find himself looking down upon a sea of smiles of every variety,—the superior, the frankly amused, the furtive, the sneering, the tolerant because utterly scornful. It is a mistaken idea that an audience is helpless in the hands of the speaker to whose remarks it must listen for one hour or two without the liberty of reply; it has a variety of ways in which it may show its ennui, its disapprobation, or its superiority; and of these ways none is so effective as the smile. Confronted by this smile, the lecturer must feel as despairing as the vanquished ancients in the arena who looked up to the benches for their fate and saw every thumb turned down. The speaker is condemned ; endeavor as he may, his cause is lost; and the audience has settled itself to enjoy the contemplation of his struggles. The man in the arena presumably has done his best. He can not be blamed for feeling somewhat harshly toward those who condemn him. In our day

« ПретходнаНастави »