Imágenes de páginas

many years now there had been no business done here, and Squire Scupper's son kept the key of the store hung in the entry of the old house, taking it down to open the door when some neighbor wanted a spool of thread, a few raisins, or some split pease out of the little stock that was kept for the convenience of the neighborhood. Once in a while, on a bright afternoon, Uncle Elisha would open the doors wider and sit in a great arm-chair made for Squire Scupper, and big enough now to hold two people with ease, especially since one of the arms was gone, and there he would read the newspaper and entertain any chance passer.

The Bodleys always counted on this yearly visit to the Cape, and now that their father had gone they were particularly glad to make the journey with their mother, for it seemed lonely at home. They set out, as I said, on the Fourth of July, and the crackers were popping briskly as they took the early stage-coach. They usually went in their own carryall, but this year they were to go by the public conveyance. Martin, their hired man, had driven them into town to take the stage, and the morning air was still cool, but as the day wore on it became excessively hot. “I

suppose your father is just starting,” said Mrs. Bodley about eleven o'clock.

“I wish his steamer went by Uncle Elisha's,” said Nathan. “I'd wave my pocket handkerchief at him.”

“So would I mine,” said Cousin Ned, mopping his forehead, “ if it would wave; but there is n't a particle of air stirring, and my handkerchief is as stringy as a fishing-line. Would n't I like to be off the breakwater at this moment, or diving off one of the rocks!

“We 'll play this stage-coach is a steamer,” said Phippy, “and


we 're alone, alone, all, all alone, alone on a wide, wide sea.' Mother, I suppose the Fourth of July is the very middlest middle of midsummer, is n't it? Yesterday was near the top, and tomorrow will begin to fall off, but to-day is the very most middle point, and exactly at twelve o'clock we shall be at the point of a pin. Yes, it will begin to be Fall at one minute after twelve o'clock, at one second after twelve.”

“ Poh,” said Nathan. “ The .very middle must be at twelve o'clock at night between the thirtieth of June and the first of July.”

“Well, it's hotter now than it was last Saturday,” rejoined Phippy.

“ You 're both wrong," said Ned, pulling up a limp dickey. “ Children, midsummer is the twenty-fourth day of June.”

“Just hear him; how wise he is. Where did you find that out, Mr. Adams ?”

Oh, I learned it when I was in Ireland.” “Was ye iver in Ireland ?” The voice came from a corner of the coach where sat a passenger, the only other one beside the family, a woman decently dressed, who had hitherto kept silence. Ned laughed.

“ Ye 're foolin' me,” said the woman good-naturedly. “But manny a time I've watched a midsummer ave, and that's the same as the ave of St. John the Baptist. It's all the same thing." The children looked at their mother. “ Yes,” said Mrs. Bodley; " in Europe St. John's Eve and Mid

“ summer Eve are one and the same. Did you ever gather St. John's wort, then?” she asked, with a smile, of their neighbor.

“ Indade, no, but I've sat up manny a time to see that my sowl did n't wander.”

[ocr errors]

“What does she mean?” whispered Lucy. The woman had quick ears.

“Did ye never hear that on that night ivery body's sowl laves his body and flies off to the place where the man or woman 'll die some day?

“Never,” said Ned. “ Wil, it does.”

“But what's the St. John's wort, for, mother?” asked Lucy, who wished to get away from such an uncanny subject.

“ That is one of the superstitions of the day. I don't know how general it is now, but I suppose in some places young men and women still go out in search of this plant and others, which they think have magical powers. Girls used to think that if they put one of these flowers in their room that night, they could tell in the morning, by the way it bent, whether they should be married within a year or not.”

“ Then there 's no use in our hunting yet,” said Phippy, with becoming philosophy. “We're too young.

The stage-route did not pass through Plymouth and the Manomet Woods, but by Middleborough, and so to Sandwich. The woods in many places had been burned over, and the stage toiled through roads that were often heavy with sand. It was rather a tedious journey, and the children were glad enough on the second day to be set down at Hyannis. They found their Uncle Elisha waiting for them with his carryall; they had caught sight of it out of the windows of the coach.

“ The steps are down, Nathan,” Phippy cried. “I'm going to step on every one."

The old carryall was indeed a wonderful vehicle. Its chief glory

[graphic][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »