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element; namely, a Fair. So you can credit me with half heathenism, after all."
Which I am afraid I did, in spite of Bona's whispered warning, "Judge not, lest ye be judged."
I was deeply impressed, however, by the fact that Mrs. Danforth, like myself,-though from a different motive,had come to Shiloh resolving to stand aloof from its social life. In neither case, had the resolve been kept. In both instances, it had, plainly, been broken of deliberate choice. I could not find the first trace of that grim finger of Fatality in it, upon which so many persons seek to throw the responsibility of their doings-when their tendency is evil, or their results disastrous; for it is impossible not to notice that all such are ready enough to assume the credit of whatever good they accomplish. Plainly, too, Shiloh was not to be a place of rest" to Mrs. Danforth, much more than to myself. Instead of repose, God had given us work. Was that, then, a better thing?
The Sewing Society held its regular meetings; and legislation being over, for the present, a tolerable degree of harmony characterized its labors. If, in the opinion of its President, amusement was the chief end of life, she knew how to give, as well as get;-indeed, it was currently reported that certain heretofore intermittent and intractable members, now attended regularly and worked with docility, just for the sake of hearing Mrs. Danforth's talk ;—or, as one of them said, with an unconscious recognition of the fact that its charm was more in the manner than the matter, and addressed itself quite as much to the eye as the ear, "to see her talk."
Death did not reap his full harvest in Mr. Warren's household. The fever shortly appeared in the dwellings of two of his neighbors,―neighbors, too, of that marsh, on whose vicinage Mrs. Divine had charged the origination of the disease. In one instance, it ran almost uninterruptedly through an entire family; the father and two children
died, and the mother struggled blindly back from the very threshold of the grave into an atmosphere of such desola, tion and loneliness, that she knew not how to be thankful for the staying of the Destroyer's hands. Of course, it was difficult to draw the needful supply of watchers from the hard-worked and scattered neighborhood; and my services were again called in requisition. It soon came to be well understood that, when other assistance was not available, Winnie Frost could be counted on with certainty; and a native delicacy of feeling, which I should scarcely have looked for in such a quarter, prevented me from being called upon until all more legitimate resources had been tried and failed. Beyond these two houses, however, the fever did not pass; and the latest cases were of a mild type, easily controlled, and quickly conquered;-but not until these humble services of mine, freely given wherever asked, had brought me very near to the Shiloh heart, and won for me a degree of affectionate respect and consideration which often brought tears to my eyes, and gave me a deeper insight into the hidden harmonies of God's government of the world. There are sweetnesses only to be distilled from bitternesses!
I have also made the acquaintance of most of the hills, dales, meadows, woodlands, and other natural objects of interest, to be found on the Divine Farm, or in its near vicinity. The various prominences of Chestnut Hill afford many pretty views; through the most striking of which the distant Housatonic goes winding and shining, like a narrow strip of a bluer and more lustrous sky. But I have found no prettier haunt, anywhere, than the brook-lit glen, before described; and there I have spent many an hour, book or portfolio in hand. For it is a dreamy spot, without them; and, as yet, I do not dare to dream!
In many of my rambles by day, and in all of my nightwalks to and fro from sick beds, Leo is my silent, watchful, trusty attendant; giving me a pleasant sense of compan
ionship and protection, without any drawback of constraint. Mr. Divine's flattering introduction did him no more than justice; his strength, intelligence, and faithfulness are really wonderful. He is delighted to carry my shawl, book or basket; he bears with ease many a burden that would be very wearisome to me. He can be sent home-the swiftest of messengers!-with an explanatory slip of paper, to fetch any article forgotten or unexpectedly required. He knows the nearest neighbors, and most intimate friends of the household, by name, and can be dispatched to any one of them with a note or a parcel. He can be left anywhere, in charge of anything, and the watch and ward will be patiently, conscientiously kept.
Nor is Leo so unobservant of my moods as might be supposed. Often, when my book slips from my fingers, and my eyes stare into vacancy (or some less profitable quarter!) till they are dim with unfelt moisture, it is Leo that recalls me to myself, with his head laid on my knee, in token of sympathy, or his nose thrust into my hand, by way of remonstrance. And his wistful eyes say, as plainly as any tongue could do, "Would it not be better to drop that, now, and go home?"
Not long since, Aunt Vin and I divided a certain nightvigil between us. I took the first watch; and when it was over, Leo (whom I had retained for that purpose) escorted me home. To my surprise, I found Mrs. Divine quietly reading by the kitchen fire.
"I generally sit up till midnight and after," she explained. "It's about the only time I get for reading, and I can't live without that. And I thought may be you'd be chilly when you come in, and a little fire wouldn't be amiss."
Then she looked at Leo. "That dog takes an uncom mon fancy to you, Miss Frost."
I. (thoughtfully patting Leo's head). 'Happy'-says an Eastern sage happy he that hath a dog for his friend.'—
MRS. DIVINE. Umph! it needn't have taken a sage to say that!
I. You did not hear him out. He adds, 'Happier he that hath a dog alone!'
MRS. DIVINE (contemptuously). A sage? Nothing but a cynic! Leo, there, is wiser. He would say-if he could speak-that he'd rather have you for his friend than halfa-dozen dogs!
To which argumentum ad canem neither the Eastern sage nor I had anything to say.
Pardon this digression-if a digression it be! In country life, animals hold an important place. Dogs, horses, chickens, may fairly be counted members of the social. circle.
On the second Sunday after the one of which I have given such faithful and voluminous account, Ruth Winnot's birdlike voice again charmed my ear, and recalled to my memory the resolve made, at Bona's instigation, a fortnight before; which, I am ashamed to say, I had suffered to slip from my mind, amid the multiplicity of my interests and occupations. My faithful Mentor did not fail to improve the opportunity to administer a reprimand and an admonition.
"Remember that your talents were not given you," she concluded, "to be buried in a napkin, when you cease to care for them, nor to be exercised merely for your pleasure or that of your friends; their possession involves a fearful responsibility. God expects to receive His own again, with usury."
That very evening, I sought out my hostess. "Mrs. Divine, tell me something about Ruth Winnot, please."
"Ruth Winnot!" repeated the old lady, wiping her spectacles, preparatory to taking a wondering view of me,"there's nothing to tell, that I know of, only that she's Farmer Winnot's daughter, and lives in that red house, up on the hill, there."
"But what makes her look so sad?"
"Well, I guess it's on account of her feet.”
"Her feet!" I repeated, in amaze.
"Yes. Didn't you know she had crooked feet-club. feet, some folks call 'em. She was born so."
"And why were they never straightened?"
"Well, her mother couldn't make up her mind to see the child suffer;-some mothers can't-or won't-do that, you know, even when it's for their children's plain good. If God had felt like that, I wonder where mankind would be now! And Ruth has grown up so delicate, that the doctors don't advise the straightening, at present. But she's awfully sensitive about her feet, poor thing! She never goes anywhere, hardly, except to church; and she always takes good care to get there before other folks come, and waits till they are gone, before she leaves."
"Ah! yes," said I, "I remember that she remained in the gallery all alone, on the day of Maggie Warren's funeral, when Alice and I went down stairs. I wondered at it, then."
"She always does so. And her mother told me she couldn't bear to have a word said to her about her feet, even by her; and Alice-who is more intimate with her than anybody else says that she never heard her so much as hint at them, in the most distant manner. But I don't think there's any sense in letting her go on in that way. I told her mother it would be real good for her to be made to talk about them (a thing you can't talk about, always seems twice as bad as it is), and that she ought to try and overcome her dislike to going among folks. She's getting into a downright unhealthy, morbid way; and something ought to be done about it, I think. Come, there's another chance for you to do good, Miss Frost, and you seem to be on the lookout for all such."
The next morning I despatched the following laconic epistle to Uncle John; having before my eyes the fear