CHAPTER X: THE END OF THE WEEK
YPSY threw down the gun, and threw up her hands with a curious quick motion, like one in suffocation, who was trying to find a voice ; but she did not utter a sound.
There was an instant's awful stillness, In that instant, it seemed to Gypsy as if she had lived a great many years ; in that instant, even Sarah's frightened cries were frozen.
Then the bushes parted, and some one sprang through. Gypsy knew the face all blackened and marred with powder-the face dearer to her than any on earth but her mother's. So she had not killed him-thank God, thank God!
"Gypsy, child!" called the dear, familiar voice; "what ails you? You haven't hurt me, but why in the name of all danger on this earth did you touch - "
But Tom stopped short; for Gypsy tottered up to him with such a white, weak look on her face, that he thought the rebound of the gun must have injured her, and caught her in his arms.
" You're not going to faint ! Where are you hurt ? "
But Gypsy was not hurt, and Gypsy never fainted. She just put her arms about his, neck and hid her face close upon his shoulder, and cried as if her heart would break.
It was a long time before she spoke,-only kissing him and clinging to him through her sobs,-then, at last,-
"Oh, Tom, I thought I had killed you-I thought-and I loved you so-oh, Tom! "
Tom choked a little, and sat down on the ground, holding her in his lap.
" Why, my little Gypsy ! "
Just then footsteps came crashing through the underbrush, and Mr. Hallam ran hurriedly up.
"Oh, you've found them! Where were they ? What has happened to Gypsy ? "
" Let me go," sobbed Gypsy ; " I can't talk just now. I want to go away and cry. "
She broke away from Tom's arms, and into the tent, where she could be alone.
"What has happened?" repeated Mr. Hallam. ' 'We came home in less than an hour, and couldn't find you. We have been to Mr. Fisher's, and hunted everywhere. I was calling for you in the gorge when Tom found you.".
Sarah was left to tell their story; which she did with remarkable justness, considering how frightened she was. She shared with Gypsy the blame of having left the tents, and insisted that it was her fault that the gun went off. Before the account was quite finished, Gypsy called Tom from the tent-door, and he went to her.
She was quiet, and very pale,
' ' Oh, Tom, I am so sorry! I didn't think I should be gone so long."
" It was very dangerous, Gypsy. You might have been lost, or you might have had to spend the night here alone, while we were hunting for you."
' ' I know it, I know it; and Sarah was so frightened, and I was too, a little, and Sarah thought you were a bear."
" I have told you a great many times that it is never safe for you to touch my gun," said Tom, gravely. He felt that Gypsy's carelessness might have brought about too terrible consequences, both to herself and to him, to be passed by lightly; and he had an idea that, as long as her mother was not there to tell her so, he must.
But Gypsy dropped her head, and looked so humble and wretched, that he had not the heart to say any more.
Gypsy was sure all the pleasure of her camping-out was utterly spoiled; but there was a bright sun the next morning, and Tom was so kind and pleasant, and the birds were singing, and the world didn't look at all as if she had nearly killed her brother twelve hours before; so she found she was laughing in spite of herself, and two very happy days passed after that. Mr. Hallam made a rule that he or Tom should keep the girls constantly in sight, and that, during the time spent in excursions which they could not join, they should remain in Mr. Fisher's house. He said it was too wild a place for them to be alone in for any length of time, and he was sorry he left them before.
Gypsy did not resent this strict tutelage. She was very humble and obedient and careful as long as they stayed upon the mountain. Those few moments, when she clung sobbing to Tom's neck, were a lesson to her. She will not forget them as long as she lives.
At the end of the fourth day, just at supper time, a dark cloud sailed over the sky, and a faint wind blew from the east.
"I wonder if it's going to rain," said Mr. Hallam. They all looked up. Gypsy said nothing; in her secret heart, she hoped it would.
"What about sending the girls to Mrs. Fisher's ? " asked Tom, when they were washing the dishes.
"Oh, no, no, it won't rain, I know-let us stay, Mr. Hallam, please. Why, I should feel like a deserter if I went off! " pleaded Gypsy.
The dark cloud seemed to have passed away, and the wind was still. After thinking a while, Mr. Hallam decided to let them stay.
In the middle of the night, Gypsy was awakened by a great noise. The wind was blowing a miniature hurricane through the trees, and the rain was falling in torrents. She could hear it spatter on the canvas roof, and drop from the poles, and gurgle in a .stream through the ditch. She could hear, too, the loud, angry murmur of the trout brook and the splashing of hundreds of rivulets that dashed down the slope and over the gorge into it.
She gave Sarah a little pinch, and woke her up.
"Oh, Sarah, it's come! It's raining like everything, and here we are, and we can't get to Mr. Fisher's-isn't it splendid ? "
"Ye-es," said Sarah; "it's very splendid-- only isn't it a little-wet ? It's dropping right on my cheek."
"Oh, that's nothing-why, here I can put my hand right down into a puddle of water. It's just like being at sea."
" I know it. Are people at sea always so- cold ? "
' " Why, I'm not cold. Only we might as well wear our water-proofs. The leaves are- a little damp."
So they put on their tweed cloaks, and Gypsy listened to the wind, and thought it was very poetic and romantic, and that she was perfectly happy. And just as she had lain down again there came a great gust of .lain, and one of the rivulets that were sweeping down the mountain splashed in under the canvas, and ran right through the middle of the tent like a brook. Sarah jumped up with energy.
" 0-oh, it's gone right over my feet ! "
" My shoes are sailing away, as true as you live ! " cried Gypsy, and sprang just in time to save them.
The dinner-basket and a tin pail were fast following, when Tom appeared upon the scene, and called through the wall of shawls,-
" Girls, you'll have to go to Mrs. Fisher's. Be quick as you can ! "
"I don't want to a bit," said Gypsy, who was sitting in a pool of water.
"Well, I'm going," announced Sarah, with unheard-of decision. "Camping out is very nice, but drowning is another thing."
"Well-1-suppose it would be a-little- dryer," said Gypsy, slowly.
The girls were soon dressed, and Tom lighted a lantern and went with them. A few peals of thunder growled sullenly down the valley, and one bright flash of lightning glared far through the forest. Sarah was. afraid she should be struck. Gypsy was thinking how grand it was, and wished she could be out in a midnight storm every week.
It was after midnight, and every one at Mr. Fisher's was asleep; but Tom knocked them up, and Mr. Fisher was very much amused, and Mrs. Fisher was very kind and hospitable, and built up a fire, and said they should be perfectly dry and warm before they went to bed.
So the girls bade Tom good-night, and he went back to Mr. Hallam, and they, feeling very cold and sleepy and drenched, were glad enough to be taken care of, and put to bed like babies, after Mrs. Fisher's good, motherly fashion.
"Sarah," said Gypsy, sleepily, just as Sarah was beginning to dream. "A feather-bed, and-and pillows ! (with a little jump to keep awake long enough to finish her sentence) are a little better-o the whole-than a mud- pud- "
Just there she went to sleep. The next day it poured from morning till night. That was just what Mr. Hallam and Tom liked, so they fished all day, and the girls amused themselves as best they might in Mr. Fisher's barn. The day after it rained in snatches, and the sun shone in little spasms between. A council of exigencies met in Mr. Hallam's tent, and it was unanimously decided to go home. Even Gypsy began to long for civilized life, though she declared that she had never in all her life had such a good time as she had had that week.
So Mr. Fisher harnessed and drove them briskly down the mountain, and " from afar off " Gypsy saw her mother's face, watching for her at the door-a little anxious ; very glad to see her back.
CHAPTER XI: GYPSY'S OPINION OF BOSTON
UST at the end of the vacation, it was suddenly announced that Miss Melville was not going to teach any more.
"How funny!" said Gypsy.
" Last term she expected to, just as much as anything. I don't see what's the reason. Now I shall have to go to the high school."
It chanced that they were remodelling some of the rooms at the high school, and the winter term, which would otherwise have commenced in September, was delayed till the first of October.
Gypsy had. jumped on all the hay-cocks, and picked all the huckleberries, and eaten all the early Davises, and gone on all the picnics that she could, and was just ready to settle down contentedly to school and study; so the news from Miss Melville was not, on the whole, very agreeable. What to do with herself, for another long month of vacation, was more than she knew.
She wandered about the house and sat out among the clovers and swung on the gate, in a vague, indefinite sort of way, for two weeks; then one morning Mrs. Breynton read her a letter which set her eyes on fire with delight. It was an invitation from her aunt to spend a fortnight in Boston. It so happened that Gypsy had never been to Boston. It was a long day's journey from Yorkbnry, and Mr. Breynton was not much in favor of expensive travelling for the children while they were very young; arguing that the enjoyment and usefulness would be doubled to them when they were older. Besides, Gypsy's uncle, though he was her father's brother, had seldom visited Yorkbury. His business kept him closely at home, and his wife and daughter always went to the seaside in summer; so the two families had seen very little of each other for years.
Mrs. Breynton, however, thought it best Gypsy should make this visit; and Gypsy, who had lived twelve years in a State which contained but one city, considered going to Boston very much as she would have considered going to Paradise.
It took a few days of delightful hurry and bustle to get ready. There was much washing and mending and altering, sewing on of trimmings and letting down of tucks, to be done for her; for Mrs. Breynton desired to spare her the discomfort of feeling "countrified," and Yorkbury style was not distinctively a la Paris. She told Gypsy, frankly, that she must expect to find her cousin Joy better dressed than herself; but that her wardrobe should be neat and tasteful, and in as much accordance with the prevailing mode as was practicable; so she hoped she would have too much self-respect to be troubled by the difference.
" I hope I have," said Gypsy, with an emphasis.
The days passed so quickly that it seemed like a dream when she had at last bidden them. all good-by, kissed her mother just ten times, and was fairly seated alone in the cars, holding on very tightly to her ticket, and wondering if the men put her trunk in. Although she was so little used to travelling, having never been farther than to Burlington or Vergennes in her life, yet she was not in the least afraid to take the journey alone. Her mother felt sure she could take care of herself, and her father had given her so many directions, and written such careful memoranda for her, of changes of cars, refreshment stations, what to do with her check, and how to look after her baggage, that she felt sure she could not make a mistake. Being a bright, observing child, fearless as a boy, and not in the least inclined to worry, she had no trouble at all. The conductor was very kind; an old gentleman, who was pleased with her twinkling eyes and red cheeks, gave her an orange, and helped look after her baggage ; two old ladies gave her fennel and peppermints; and before she reached Boston she was on terms of intimacy with six babies, a lapdog, and a canary-bird. Altogether, it had been a most charming journey, and she was almost sorry when they reached the city, and the train rolled slowly into the ' dark depot.
The passengers were crowding rapidly out, the lamps were lighted in the car, and she felt a little lonely sitting still there, and waiting for her uncle. She had not waited but a moment, however, when a pleasant, whiskered face appeared at the car-door, and one of those genial, "off-hand " voices, that sound at once so kindly and so careless, called out,-
"0-ho! So here's the girl! Glad to see you, child. This way; the hack's all ready."
She was hurried into a carriage, her trunk was tossed on behind, and then the door was shut, and they were driven rapidly away through a maze of crooked streets, glare of gaslights, and brilliant shop-windows, that bewildered Gypsy. She had a notion that was the way fairy-land must look. Her uncle laughed, good-naturedly, at her wide-open eyes.
' ' Boston is a somewhat bigger village than Yorkbury, I suppose! How's your father ? Why didn't he come with you ? Is your mother well ? And that boy-Linnie-Silly- what do call him? "
"Winnie, sir; and then there's Tom."
"Winnie-oh, yes! Tom well, too ? "
Before the ride was over, Gypsy had come to the conclusion that she liked her uncle very much, only he had such a funny way of asking questions, and then forgetting all about them.
The driver reined up at a house on Beacon Street, and Gypsy was led up a long flight of steps through a bright hall, and into a room that dazzled her. A bright coal-fire was glowing in the grate, for it was a chilly evening, and bright jets of gas were burning in chandeliers. Bright carpets, and curtains, furniture, pictures, and ornaments covered the length of two parlors separated only by folding-doors, and mirrors, that reached from the floor to the ceiling, reflected her figure full length, as she stood in the midst of the magnificence, in her Yorkbury hat and homemade casaque.
"Sit down, sit down," said her uncle; "I'll call your aunt. I don't see where they are; I told them to be on hand,-Kate, where's Mrs. Breynton ? "
" She's up-stairs, sir, dressing," said the servant, who had opened the door.
" Tell her Miss Gypsy has come; sit down, child, and make yourself at home."
Gypsy sat down, and Mr. Breynton, not satisfied with sending a message to his wife, went to the foot of the stairs, and called,- " Miranda!-Joy! "
A voice from somewhere above answered, a little sharply, that she was coming as fast as she could, and she told Joyce to go down long ago, but she hadn't stirred.
Gypsy heard every word, and she began to wonder if her aunt were very glad to see her, and what sort of a girl her cousin must be, if she didn't obey her mother unless she chose to. Just then Joy came down stairs, walking very slowly and properly, and came into the parlor with the manners of a young lady of eighteen. She might have been a pretty child, if she had been dressed more plainly and becomingly; but her face was pale and thin, and there was a fretful look about her mouth, that almost spoiled it.
Gypsy went up warmly, and kissed her. Joy had extended the tips of her fingers to shake hands, and she looked a little surprised, but kissed her politely, and asked if she were tired with the journey. Just then Mrs. Breynton came in, with many apologies for her delay, met Gypsy kindly enough, and sent her up-stairs to take off her things.
"Who trimmed your hat?" asked Joy, suddenly.
" Miss Jones. She's our milliner."
"Oh," said Joy, "mine is a pheasant. Nobody thinks of wearing velvet now -most everybody has a pheasant."
"I shouldn't like to wear just what everybody else did," Gypsy could not help saying. She hung the turban up in the closet, with a little uncomfortable feeling. It was a fine drab straw, trimmed and bound with velvet a shade darker. It was pretty, and she knew it; it just matched her casaque, and her mother had thought it all the more lady-like for its simplicity. Nevertheless, it was not going to be very pleasant to have her cousin Joy ashamed of her.
"Oh, oh, how short they wear dresses in Yorkbury!" remarked Joy, as Gypsy walked across the room. "Mine are nearly to the tops of my boots, now I'm thirteen years old."
"Are they?-where did I put my bag?" said Gypsy, carelessly. Joy looked a little piqued that she did not seem more impressed.
" There's dinner," she said, after a silence, in which she had been secretly inspecting and commenting upon every article of Gypsy's attire. ' 'Come, let's go down. Mother scolds if we're late."
"Scolds!" said Gypsy. How funny! my mother never scolds."
" Doesn't she ? " asked Joy, a little wonder in her eyes.
" It seems so queer to have dinner at six o'clock," said Gypsy, confidentially, as they went down stairs. ' ' At home they are just sitting down to supper."
Joy laughed patronizingly.
"Oh, yes; I suppose you're used to country hours."
For the second time, Gypsy felt uncomfortable. She would very much have liked to ask her cousin what there was to be ashamed of in being used to country hours, when you lived in the country. But they had reached the dining-room door, and her aunt was calling out somewhat fretfully to Joy to hurry, so she said nothing.
After supper, her uncle said she looked very much like her father, hoped she would make herself at home, thought her a little taller than Joyce, and then was lost to view, for the evening, behind his newspaper. Her aunt inquired if she could play on the piano, was surprised to find she knew nothing more classical than chants and Scotch airs; told Joy to let her hear that last air of Von Weber's; and then she took up a novel, which was lying partially read upon the table. When Joy was through playing, she. proposed a game of solitaire. Gypsy would much rather have examined the beautiful and costly ornaments with which the rooms were filled, but she was a little too polite and a little too proud to do so, unasked.
"What do you play most?" she asked, as they began to move the figures on the solitaire board.
" Oh," said Joy, " I practise three hours, and that takes all the time when I'm in school. In vacations, I don't know,-1 like to walk in Commonwealth Avenue pretty well; then mother has a good deal of company, and I always come down."
"Only go to walk, and sit still in the parlor!" exclaimed Gypsy; " dear me!"
" Why, what do you do ? "
" Me ? Oh, I jump on the hay and run down hills and poke about in the swamp."
' ' Push myself round on a raft in the orchard-swamp; it's real fun."
"Why, I never heard of such a thing!" said Joy, looking shocked.
' ' Well, it's splendid; you ought to come up to Yorkbury, and go out with me. Tom would make you a raft."
"What do the people say?" said Joy, looking at her mother.
"Oh, there aren't any people there to see. If there were, they wouldn't say anything. I have just the nicest times. Winnie and I tipped over last spring,-clear over, splash! "
" You will ruin your complexion," remarked her aunt, laying down her novel. "I suppose you never wear a veil."
"A veil? Dear me, no! I can't bear the feeling of a veil. I wore one in the cars through, to keep the cinders off. Then, besides that, I row and coast, and,-oh, I forgot, walking on the fences; it's real fun if you don't tumble off."
" Walking on the fences! "
' ' Oh, yes. I always go in the fields where there's nobody 'round. Then I like to climb the old walls, where you have to jump when the stones roll off from under you."
Mrs. Breynton elevated her eyebrows with a peculiar expression, and returned to her novel.
Gypsy was one of those happy people who are gifted with the faculty of always having a pleasant time, and the solitaire game was good enough, if it hadn't been so quiet; but when she went up to bed, she looked somewhat sober. She bade Joy good-night, shut herself into the handsomely-furnished room which had been given her, sat down on the floor, and winked hard several times. She would not have objected at that moment to seeing her mother, or Tom, or pulling her father's whiskers, or squeezing Winnie a little, or looking into the dear, familiar sitting-room where they were all gathered just then to have prayers. She began to have a vague idea that there was no place like home. She also came to the conclusion, very faintly, and feeling like a traitor all the time, that her Aunt Miranda was very fashionable and very fretful, and did not treat Joy at all as her mother treated her; that Joy thought her countrified, and had never walked on a fence in all her life; that her uncle was very good, but very busy, and that a fortnight was a rath-er long time to stay there.
However, her uncle's house was not the whole of Boston. All the delights of the great, wonderful city remained unexplored.. and who could tell what undreamed-of joys to-morrow would bring forth?
So Gypsy's smiles came back after their usual punctual fashion, and she fell asleep as soon as her head touched the pillow, to dream that she was sitting in Tom's lap, reading an Arabic novel aloud to Winnie.
It might have been about half an hour after, that she woke suddenly with a terrible feeling in her lungs and throat, and sat up in bed gasping, to see the door burst open, and her aunt come rushing in.
"Is the house on fire?" asked Gypsy, sleepily.
' 'House on fire! It might have been. It's a wonder you're alive! "
" Alive," repeated Gypsy, bewildered.
"Why, child, you blew out the gas!" said her aunt, sharply, throwing open the windows. " Didn't you know any better than that ? "
"I'm so used to blowing out our lamps," said Gypsy, feeling very much frightened and ashamed.
"Country ways!" exclaimed her aunt. "Well, thank fortune, there's no harm done, -go to sleep, like a good girl."
Gypsy did not relish being told to go to sleep like a good girl, when she had done nothing wrong; nor did her aunt's one chilly kiss, at leaving her, serve to make her forget those few sharp words.
The next morning, after breakfast, Joy proposed to go out to walk, and Gypsy ran up to put on her things in great glee. One little circumstance dashed damply on it, like water on glowing coals.
' ' How large your casaque is about the neck," said Joy. carelessly. "I like mine small and high, with a binding."
Gypsy remembered what her mother said: and, because her casaque happened to be cut after Miss Jones's patterns instead of Madame Demorest's, she did not feel that her character was seriously affected; but it was not pleasant to have such things said. Her cousin did not mean to be unkind. On the contrary, she had taken rather a fancy to Gypsy. She was simply a little thoughtless and a little vain. Joy is not the only girl in Boston, I am afraid, who has hurt the feelings of her country visitors in that careless way.
' ' You've never seen the Common, I suppose, nor the Public Gardens?" said Joy, as they started off. ' ' We'll walk across to Boylston Street,-dear me! you haven't any gloves on! "
' 'Oh, must I put them on?" said Gypsy, with a sigh; " I'm afraid I sha'n't like Boston if I have to wear gloves week-days. I can't bear the feeling of them."
"I suppose that's what makes your hands so red and brown," replied Joy, astonished, casting a glance at her own sickly, white fingers, which she was pinching into a pair of very tight kid gloves.
"Here are the Gardens," she said, proudly, as they entered the inclosure. "Aren't they beautiful ? I don't suppose you have anything like this in Yorkbury. We'll go up to the Common in a minute."
Gypsy looked carelessly around, and did not seem to be very much impressed or interested.
"I'd rather go over into that street where the people and the carriages are," she said.
"Why!" exclaimed Joy; "don't you like it ? See the fountains, and the deer and the grass, and all."
" I like the deer," said Gypsy; "only I feel so sorry for them."
" Sorry for them!"
' ' Why, they look so as if they wanted to be off in the woods with nobody round. I like the rabbits better, jumping round at home under the pine-trees. Then I think the trout-brook, at Ripton, is a great deal prettier than these fountains. But then I guess I should like the stores," she said, apologetically, a little afraid she had hurt or provoked Joy.
" I never saw anybody like you," said Joy, looking puzzled. When they came to Tremont, and then to Washington Street, Gypsy was in an ecstasy. She kept calling to Joy to see that poor little beggar girl, or that funny old woman, or that negro boy who was trying to stand on his head, or the handsome feather on that lady's bonnet, and stopped every other minute to see some beautiful toy or picture in a shop-window, till Joy lost all patience.
"Gypsy Breynton! don't keep staring in the windows so; people will think we are a couple of servant girls just from down East, who never saw Washington Street before! "
" I never did," said Gypsy, coolly.
But she looked a little sober. What was the use of Boston, and all its beautiful sights and busy sounds, if you must walk right along as if you were going to church, and not seem to see nor hear any of the wonders, for fear of being called countrified ? Gypsy began to hate the word.
' ' You must take your cousin to the Aquarial Gardens," said Mr. Breynton to Joy, at dinner.
"Oh, I'm tired to death of the Aquarial Gardens," answered Joy; "none of the girls I go with ever go now, and I've seen it all so many times."
"But Gypsy hasn't. Try the Museum, then."
"I can't bear the Museum. The white snakes in bottles make me so nervous," said Joy.
' 'A white snake in a bottle! Why, I never saw one, " said Gypsy, with sparkling eyes.
"Well, I'll go with you, child, if Joy hasn't the politeness to do it," said her uncle, patting her eager face.
" Mr. Breynton," said his wife, petulantly, " you are always blaming that child for something."
Yet, in the very next breath, she scolded Joy, for delaying her practising ten minutes, more severely than her father would have done if she had told a falsehood.
Mr. Breynton was very busy the next day, and forgot all about Gypsy; but the day after he left his store at an early hour, and took her to the Museum, and out to Bunker Hill. That was the happiest day Gypsy spent in. Boston.
The day after her aunt had a large dinner company. No one would have imagined that Gypsy dreaded it in the least; but, in her secret heart, she did. Joy seemed to be perfectly happy when she was dressed in her brilliant Stuart plaid silk, with its long sash and valenciennes lace ruffles, and spent a full half hour exhibiting her jewelry-box to Gypsy's wondering eyes, and trying to decide whether she would wear her coral brooch and ear-rings, which matched the scarlet of the plaid, or a handsome malachite set, which were the newer.
Gypsy looked on admiringly, for she liked pretty things as well as other girls; but dressed herself in the simple blue-and-white checked foulard, with blue ribbons around her net and at her throat to match,-the best suit, over which her mother had taken so much pains, and which had seemed so grand in Yorkbury,- hoped her aunt's guests would not laugh at her, and decided to think no more about the matter.
The first half hour of dinner passed off pleasantly enough. Gypsy was hungry; for she had just come home from a long walk to Williams & Everett's picture gallery, and the dinner was very nice; the only trouble with it being that, there were so many courses, she could not decide what to eat and what to refuse. But after a while a deaf old gentleman, who sat next her, felt conscientiously impelled to ask her where she lived and how old she was, and she had to scream so loud to answer him, that it attracted the attention of all the guests. Then the dessert came and the wine, and an hour and a half had passed, and still no one showed any signs of leaving the table, and the old gentleman made spasmodic attempts at conversation, at intervals of ten minutes. The hour and a half became two hours, and Gypsy was so thoroughly tired out sitting still, it seemed as if she should scream, or upset her finger-bowl, or knock over her chair, or do some terrible thing.
"You said you were twelve years old, I believe ? " said the old gentleman, suddenly. This was the fifth time he had asked that very same question. Joy trod on Gypsy's toes under the table, and Gypsy laughed, coughed, seized her goblet, and began to drink violently to conceal her rudeness.
" Twelve years ? and you live in Vermont ? " remarked the old gentleman placidly. This was a drop too much. Gypsy swallowed her water the wrong way, strangled and choked, and ran out of the room with crimson face, mortified and gasping.
She knew, by a little flash of her aunt's eyes, that she was ashamed of her, and much displeased. She locked herself into her own room, feeling very miserable, and would not have gone down stairs again if she had not been sent for, after the company had returned to the parlors.
She did not dare to disobey, so she went, and sat down in a corner by the piano, where she hoped she should be out of sight.
A pleasant-faced lady, sitting near, turned, and said,-
" Don't you play, my dear ? "
"A little," said Gypsy, wishing she could have truthfully said no.
"I wish you would play for me," said the lady.
"Oh, I shouldn't like to," said Gypsy, shrinking; "I don't know anything but Scotch airs."
" That is just what I like," said the lady.
" Mrs. Breynton, can't you persuade your niece to play a little for me ? "
"Certainly, Gypsy," said her aunt, with a look which plainly said, " Don't think of it." Gypsy's mother had taught her that it was both disobliging and affected to refuse to play when she was asked, no matter how simple her music might be. So, not knowing how to refuse, and wishing the floor would open and swallow her up, she went to the piano, and played two sweet Scotch airs. She played them well for a girl of her age, and the lady thanked her, and seemed to enjoy them. But that night, just as she was going to bed, she accidentally overheard her aunt saying to Joy,-
" It was very stupid and forward in her. I tried to make her understand, but I couldn't- those little songs, too! Why, with all your practice, and such teachers as you have had, I wouldn't think of letting you play before anybody at your age."
Gypsy cried herself to sleep that night.
Just a week from the day that she came to Boston, Gypsy and Joy were out shopping in Summer Street. They had just come out of Hovey's, when they met a ragged child, not more than three years old, crying as if its heart were broken.
"Uh, dear!" cried Gypsy; "see that poor little girl! I'm going to see what's the matter."
' 'Don't! "said Joy, horrified; "come along! Nobody stops to speak to beggars in Boston; what are you doing ? "
For Gypsy had stopped and taken the child's two dirty little fists down from her eyes, and looked down into the tear-stained and mud-stained face to see what was the matter.
" I-I don't know where nobody is," sobbed the child.
"Have you lost your way? Where do you live?" asked Gypsy, with great, pitying eyes. Gypsy could never bear to see anybody cry; and then the little creature was so ragged and thin.
" I live there," said the child, pointing vaguely down the street. " Mother's to home there somewhars."
"I'll go with you and find your mother," said Gypsy; and taking the child's hand, she started off in her usual impulsive fashion, without a thought beyond her pity.
"Gypsy! Gypsy Breynton!" called Joy. " The police will take her home-you mustn't I "
But Gypsy did not hear, and Joy, shocked .and indignant, went home and left her.
In about an hour Gypsy came back, flushed and panting with her haste. Joy, in speechless amazement, had looked from the window and seen her running across the Common.
Her aunt met her on the stairs with a face like a thunder-cloud.
"Why, Gypsy Breynton, I am ashamed of you! How could you do such a thing as to go off with a beggar, and take hold of her hand right there in Summer Street, and go nobody knows where, alone, into those terrible Irish streets! It was a dreadful thing to do, and I should think you would have known better, and I really think I must write to your mother about it immediately ! "
Gypsy stood for a moment, motionless with astonishment. Then, without saying a word,. she passed her aunt quickly on the stairs, and ran up to her room. Her face was very white. If she had been at home she would have broken forth in a torrent of angry words.
Kate, the house-maid, was sweeping the entry.
"Did you know there was going to be another great dinner to-day, miss ? " she said,. as Gypsy passed her.
Gypsy went into her room, and locked her door. Another of those terrible dinner-companies, and her aunt so angry at her! It was. too much-she could not bear it! She looked about the room twice, passed her hand over her forehead, and her face flushed quickly.
One of Gypsy's sudden and often perilous resolutions was made.
On to chapter 12 (conclusion)
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