« AnkstesnisTęsti »
chin in a second, and his gun was to his face with the muzzle thrust down between the oxen.
And then my father's gentle hand reached out, lay on that long, black, Kentucky rifle barrel, and it dropped down, slept once more at the fiddler's side; and again the melodies; and the very stars came down, believe me, to listen, for they never seemed so big and so close before.
The bears sat down on their haunches at last, and one of them kept opening his mouth and putting out his red tongue, as if he really wanted to taste the music. Every now and then one of them would lift up a paw and gently tap the ground, as if to keep time with the music. And both my papa and Lyte said next day that those bears really wanted to dance...
The moon came up by and by, and the chin of the weary fiddler sank lower and lower, till all was still. The oxen lay down and ruminated, with their noses nearly against us. Then the coal-black bears melted away before the milk-white moon, and we slept there, with the sweet breath of the cattle, like incense, upon CINCINNATUS HINER MILLER.
[Abridgment from "True Bear Stories." Used by
"Mother, I'm going to work Mr. Laurence a pair of slippers. He is so kind to me, I must thank him, and I don't know any other way. May I do it?" asked Beth.
Yes, dear. It will please him very much, and be a nice way of thanking him. The girls will help you about them, and I will pay for the making," replied Mrs. March, — who took peculiar pleasure in granting Beth's requests, because she so seldom asked anything for herself.
After many serious discussions with Meg and Jo, the pattern was chosen, the materials bought, and the slippers begun. A cluster of grave yet cheerful pansies, on a deep purple ground, was pronounced very appropriate and pretty; and Beth worked away early and late, with occasional lifts over the hard parts.
She was a nimble little needlewoman, and the slippers were finished before any one got tired of them.
Then she wrote a very short, simple note, and,
with Laurie's help, got them smuggled on to the study table before the old gentleman was up.
When the excitement was over, Beth waited to see what would happen. All that day passed, and a part of the next, before any acknowledgment arrived, and she was beginning to fear she had offended her crotchety friend. On the afternoon of the second day, she went out to do an errand, and give poor Joanna, the invalid doll, her daily exercise.
As she came up the street, on her return, she saw three, yes, four, heads popping in and out of the parlor windows, and several hands were waved, and several joyful voices screamed: “Here's a letter from the old gentleman! Come quick and read it!” "O Beth, he's sent you" began Amy, gesticulating with unseemly energy; but she got no farther, for Jo quenched her by slamming down the window.
Beth hurried on, in a flutter of suspense. At the door her sisters seized her and bore her to the parlor in a triumphal procession, all pointing, and all saying at once, "Look there! look there!"
Beth did look, and turned pale with delight and surprise; for there stood a little cabinet piano, with a letter lying on the glossy lid, directed, like a signboard, to "Miss Elizabeth March."
"For me?" gasped Beth, holding on to Jo, and feeling as if she should tumble down, it was such an overwhelming thing altogether.
"Yes; all for you, my precious! Isn't it splendid of him? Don't you think he is the dearest old man in the world? Here's the key in the letter. We didn't open it, but we are dying to know what he says," cried Jo, hugging her sister, and offering the
"You read it! I can't, I feel so queer! Oh, it is too lovely!" and Beth hid her face in Jo's apron, quite upset by her present.
Jo opened the paper, and began to laugh, for the first words she saw were:
"How nice it sounds! I wish some one would write to me so!" said Amy, who thought the oldfashioned address very elegant.
"I have had many pairs of slippers in my life,
but I have never had any that suited me so well as yours,'" continued Jo. "Heart's-ease is my favorite flower, and these will always remind me of the gentle giver. I like to pay my debts; so you will allow "the old gentleman" to send you something which once belonged to the little granddaughter he lost.
"With hearty thanks and best wishes, I remain "Your grateful friend and humble servant,
There, Beth, that's an honor to be proud of, I'm sure! Laurie told me how fond Mr. Laurence used to be of the child who died, and how he kept all her little things carefully. Just think, he's given you her piano! That comes of having blue eyes and loving music," said Jo, trying to soothe Beth, who trembled, and looked more excited than she had ever been before.
"See the cunning brackets to hold candles, and the nice green silk, puckered up, with a gold rose in the middle, and the pretty rack and stool, all complete," added Meg, opening the instrument and displaying its beauties.
"Your humble servant, James Laurence'; only think of his writing that to you! I'll tell the girls. They'll think it is splendid," said Amy, much impressed by the note.