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HE new comers were Mrs. Burcham and Mrs. Shemnar, the one keen, brisk, alert, vigorous; the other slow, bland, smiling, and vapid. The former walked straight into the room, her sharp black eyes taking instant note of all that it contained; the latter sank down on a box just outside the door, complained of the heat, and fanned herself with her sun-bonnet, while her light blue eyes wandered slowly and halfabsently from one object to another.

Both looked surprised at sight of Ruth Winnot, and cach gave her a characteristic nod;-the one sharp and crisp as a gust of winter-wind, the other sultry and turbid as the breath of a morning in dog-days;--but neither made any remark. For which unexpected piece of consideration, or mark of indifference, or uncertainty how to deal with so unusual a fact, or whatever it might be, I was so grateful to them that I gave both an unwontedly cordial greeting. Which emboldened Mrs. Burcham (though it may be questioned if she stood in need of such encouragement, and would not have done the same thing without it) to come and bend over me, inspecting my work.

It is singular how spontaneous and inevitable is the tendency of some persons to arouse antagonism, provoke discussion, and elicit electrical sparks of ill-humor, wherever

they present themselves. The acrid quality of their own moral atmosphere diffuses itself insensibly around them, and is returned upon them again and again; as the air of a confined room continually comes back to be re-inhaled, and still farther corrupted, by lungs that have already vitiated its healthful, vitalizing properties. It is probable enough that these unfortunates never quite understand the nature or the cause of their infelicity, nor by what natural and inalterable laws their own uncomfortable moods are continually reflected back upon them, but go through life ascribing the opposition they excite and the ill-temper they evoke to causes entirely outside themselves. Either they believe that the world is, everywhere and always, the unlovely, bitter, hostile, and provoking thing they find it; or they fancy that it cherishes some unaccountable spite and rancor toward them, and grow ever sourer and more acrimonious thereby.

Mrs. Burcham belongs to this class. She not only has the gift of making herself disagreeable in a marked and peculiar degree; but the added power of detecting and bringing forth, as by the touch of a loadstone, all the latent disagreeableness of others. She and Mrs. Prescott rarely meet without a shower of sparks, as when steel strikes flint; Essie Volger often comes in collision with her in a way that evolves more clash than harmony; and more than once in Sewing Society matters, I have avoided irritating friction only by declining to enter into any discussions.

So innate, and apparently involuntary, is her propensity to oppose, to battle, to condemn, that I have been driven to account for it by the supposition that her ancestors must have sprung, somehow, from that hot-headed race of warriors which cropped up out of the ground wherein Cadmus had sown the dragon's teeth; and that the hereditary instincts have not been greatly weakened by a long interfusion of years and alien blood.

"Mercy on us!" she exclaimed, lifting the worn and torn portion of the curtain upon which I was at work, "what in the world are you doing with those ragged things?"

"Mending them, Mrs. Burcham."

She turned to the part which had been restored, and examined it minutely.

"Well! it's a wonderful specimen of mending, there's no gainsaying that," she said, at length,-but rather as if she grudged the admission. "Still, I must say, I think it's a frightful waste of time."

“I cannot quite agree with you,” replied I; "I do not regard anything, in reason, as a waste of time, which adds to the comfort or the tasteful appearance of a home. The sense of sight calls for some gratification, as well as the other senses."

ESSIE VOLGER (taking up the subject with animation). If Miss Frost had embroidered a pin-cushion, or a tidy, to give to Mrs. Taylor, you wouldn't have called it a waste of time. Yet it would have cost more work, and not have been doing her half so real a service.

MRS. BURCHAM. Umph! I've neither tidies nor muslin curtains in my parlor. My curtains are of green paper; it didn't cost much to get them, and it won't cost much to replace them when they're worn out. And what is good enough for me, is good enough for my minister's wife, guess.

It is impossible to do justice to the tone in which Mrs. Burcham said "my minister." It seemed to imply that Mr. Taylor belonged to her absolutely,-body, soul, family, and possessions. I am in doubt to this day whether Bona. or Mala had most to do with my rejoinder; certainly it sprang from no inconsiderable depth of feeling of some sort.

"The rule admits of a much wider application than that, Mrs. Burcham. In a certain abstract sense, what is good enough for the beggar at your door is good enough

for you; and what is good enough for you is good enough for the king; and what is agreeable to one portion of mankind ought to be agreeable to the rest. Therefore, since the Esquimaux delight in raw meat and train-oil, let us order them for dinner to-morrow."

ESSIE. And a seal-skin suit to eat them in!

MRS. BURCHAM (seeing a loophole of escape, and making for it). You forget the difference in climate, Miss Frost! I (quietly closing the aperture in her face). You forgot the difference in taste, habit, education, Mrs. Burcham!

ESSIE (hurrying to make the fastening secure). Because Mrs. Taylor has been accustomed all her life to do without cows, sheep, poultry, a dairy flowing with milk and butter, a cheese-room lined with cheeses, a cellar stored with apples, cider, vegetables, pork,-presses burst, ing with blankets, quilts, comfortables, linen, and whatever goes to make up the completest idea of farm-house plenty, -you would think it unjust and unreasonable that you should be required to dispossess yourself of all these things. Because Polly Sykes has no curtains at all to her windows,―neither paper, muslin, nor anything else (except she makes an old newspaper do duty, now and then), -is that a good reason why you should give up yours? So, if Mrs. Taylor has been accustomed to think her par lor incomplete without snowy muslin curtains, tastefully looped back from the windows, and books on the table, and pictures on the wall; and she has been able to get them, or has had friends kind enough to give them to her; do not grudge her the pleasure of having them, nor Miss Frost's time in mending them.

I (giving a last turn to the lock). Or, if you really think it should be "share and share alike," send her half your cows, hens, butter, cheese, etc., etc., and take half of her curtains in return.

ESSIE (flinging a gibe through the keyhole). Mending thrown in!

MRS. BURCHAM (her black eyes flashing ominously). I don't object to Mrs. Taylor's having embroidered muslin curtains if she wants them, and can afford it; I can't. And if she don't mind their looking like the last gasp of would-be gentility, before it gives up the ghost! But I own I do hate to see time wasted. And I did think yours

and Miss Frost's ought to be too valuable to be flung away on old worn-out things, that must go to pieces in another wash or two, anyhow. But you ought to know best about that. If it isn't, all right.

ESSIE (musingly). To be sure, it would be better to buy new ones, they might last longer, and I think we might accomplish it, if you would be so good as to head the subscription, and take it round.

MRS. BURCHAM (reddening with anger). Thank you, Miss Volger, but I believe I can spend my time better than in encouraging my minister, or his wife, to strive after the pomps and vanities of the world; things he's bound to preach against, if he does his duty.

ESSIE (in apparent soliloquy, holding up a very dilap idated curtain, and gravely surveying it). Um-" pomps and vanities!" Decidedly more vanity than pomp, I should say Light as a feather, and thin as a spider's web! Several holes-and a border around them! Plenty openwork—and next to nothing to hold it together! Ventilation amply provided for;-protection dispensed with! Benevolently designed to let candle-light outand sunlight in! Well, yes, vanity enough,-in the sense of want of substance, and to spare! But as for


AUNT VIN (severely, from the doorway, having caught the last sentences in passing). Essie Volger! you must be inside yourself to be a-holding Mr. Taylor's things up to ludicule, like that! I'm ashamed of you! And as for the curtains, I'm sure they look well enough, after they're mended, if they was a little decapitated, to begin with.

"Aunt Vin!" screamed Essie, hysterically, "I never


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