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“'Some of them are very unlovely,' I replied.
Then came the unbraiding, and then—dramatic moment—the "combing out;" a difficult, not to say impossible process, in which the hairs that had resisted the earlier stages almost gave up the ghost.
“Ta’en my belt to her!” he repeated. “Ta’en my belt to her!” And the recollection of that evening in the forest flowed back upon his mind, and he once more saw Matcham’s wincing body and beseeching eyes.
A sprig of holly lay by each plate, and nothing would do but each little Ruggles must leave his seat and have it pinned on by Carol, and as each[Pg 53] course was served, one of them pleaded to take something to her. There was hurrying to and fro, I can assure you, for it is quite a difficult matter to serve a Christmas dinner on the third floor of a great city house; but if it had been necessary to carry every dish up a rope ladder the servants would gladly have done so. There were turkey and chicken, with delicious gravy and stuffing, and there were half a dozen vegetables, with cranberry jelly, and celery, and pickles; and as for the way these delicacies were served, the Ruggleses never forgot it as long as they lived.
No sooner were those Dons admitted,
"Your share—yours! True—your half of my life! It is true." He paused with a low, ironical, malignant laugh, and then added, as he rose and turned away, "But the work is yet to be done."
As I look out of my window in the dusk I can see one of the mothers galloping across the enclosure, the soft white lining of her tail acting as a beacon-light to the eight infant hares following her, a quaint procession of eight white spots in it glancing line. In the darkest night those baby creatures could follow their mother through grass or hedge or thicket, and she would need no warning note to show them where to flee in case of danger. “All you have to do is to follow the white night-light that I keep in the lining of my tail,” she says, when she is giving her first maternal lectures; and it seems a beneficent provision of Nature. To be sure, Mr. Heaven took his gun and went out to shoot wild rabbits to-day, and I noted that he marked them by those same self-betraying tails, as they scuttled toward their holes or leaped toward the protecting cover of the hedge; so it does not appear whether Nature is on the side of the farmer or the rabbit . . .
Elisha always went to bed at sundown, and Uncle Cash had gone to the doctor's to have his hand dressed, for he had hurt it is some way in the threshing-machine. Bill Peters, the hired man, came in presently and asked for him, saying that the cow coughed more and more, and it must be that something was wrong, but he could not get her to open her mouth wide enough for him to see anything. “She'd up an' die ruther 'n obleege anybody, that tarnal, ugly cow would!” he said.
The pathetic announcement of a change in the career and life purposes of Rebecca was brought about by her reading the grown-up story to Mr. and Mrs. Jeremiah Cobb after supper in the orchard. Uncle Jerry was the person who had maintained all along that Riverboro people would not make a story; and Lancelot or The Parted Lovers was intended to refute that assertion at once and forever; an assertion which Rebecca regarded (quite truly) as untenable, though why she certainly never could have explained. Unfortunately Lancelot was a poor missionary, quite unfitted for the high achievements to which he was destined by the youthful novelist, and Uncle Jerry, though a stage-driver and no reading man, at once perceived the flabbiness and transparency of the Parted Lovers the moment they were held up to his inspection.