Scanned by Deidre Johnson for her 19th-Century Girls' Series webpage. Please do not use on other pages without permission.
O one came to the room. After a while the front door opened and shut, and she saw, from the window, that her aunt and Joy were going out. She then remembered that she had heard them say they had some calls to make at that hour. Her uncle was at the store, and no one was now in the house besides herself, but the servants.
" All right," she said, half aloud; " I couldn't have fixed it better."
For half an hour she stayed in her room with the door locked, and any one listening outside could have heard her moving briskly about, opening drawers and shutting closet doors. Then she came down stairs and went out. She was gone just about long enough to have been to the nearest hack-stand and back again. A few minutes after she returned, the door-bell rang.
" I'll go," she called to Kate ; "it's a man I sent here on an errand, and I shall have to see him."
"Very well, miss," said Kate, and went singing down the back-stairs with her broom.
"This way," said Gypsy, opening the door. She led the way to her room, and the man who followed her shouldered her trunk with one hand, and carried it out to a carriage which stood at the door. Gypsy went into her aunt's room and left a little note on the table where it would be easily seen, threw her veil over her face, felt of her purse to be sure it was safe in her pocket, and ran hastily down stairs after him, and into the carriage. The man strapped on her trunk, slammed the door upon her, and, mounting his box, drove rapidly away. Kate, who happened to be looking out of one of the basement windows, saw the carriage, but did not notice the trunk. She .supposed Gypsy was riding somewhere to meet her aunt or uncle, and went on with her dusting.
The carriage stopped at the Fitchburg depot, and Gypsy paid her fare and went into the ladies' room. The coachman, who seemed to be an accommodating man, though a little curious, brought her a check, and hoped she'd get along comfortable; it was a pretty long journey for such a young creetur to take alone.
Gypsy thanked him, and going up to the ticket-master, asked him something in a low tone.
" In just an hour! " said the ticket-master, in a loud, business-like voice.
" An hour ! So long as that ? "
Gypsy drew her veil very closely about her face, and sat down in the darkest corner she could find. She seemed to be very much afraid of being recognized; for she shrank from every new-comer, and started every time the door opened.
"Train for Fitchburg, Rutland, Burlington ! " shouted a voice, at last, and the words. were drowned in the noise of hurrying feet.
Gypsy took a seat in the rear car, by the door which was open, so that she was partially concealed from the view of the passengers. Just before the train started, a tall, whiskered gentleman walked slowly through the car, scanning the faces on each side of him.
"You haven't seen a little girl here, dressed in drab, with black eyes and red cheeks, have you ? " he asked, stopping just in front of Gypsy.
Several of the passengers shook their heads, and one old lady piped out on a very high key,-
"No, sir, I hain't !"
The gentleman passed out, and shut the door. Gypsy held her breath. It was her uncle.
He looked troubled and anxious. Gypsy's cheeks flushed,-a sudden impulse came over her to call him back,-she started and threw open the window, but the engine-bell rang, the train puffed slowly off, and her uncle disappeared in the crowd.
As she was whirled rapidly along through wharves and shipping and lumber, away from the roar of the city, and out where woods and green fields lined the way, she began, for the first time, to think what she was doing, and to wonder if she were doing right. Her anger at her aunt, and the utter disappointment and homesickness of her Boston visit, had swept away, for a few moments, all her power of reasoning. To get home, to see her mother,--to hide her head on her shoulder and cry,--
this was the one thought that had turned itself over and over in her mind, on that quick ride from Beacon Street, and in that hour spent in the dark corner of the depot. Here she was, running like a thief from her uncle's house, without a word of good-by or thanks for his hospitality, with no message to tell him where she had gone but that note, hastily written in the first flush of her hurt and angry feelings. And the hurrying train was whirling her over hill and valley faster and farther. To go back was impossible, go on she must. What had she done ?
She began now, too, to wonder where she should spend the night. The train went only as far as Rutland, and it would be late and dark when she reached the town-far too late for a little girl to be travelling alone, and to spend a night in a strange hotel, in a strange place. What should she do ?
As the afternoon passed, and the twilight fell, and the lamps were lighted, and people hurried out at way-stations to safe and waiting homes, her loneliness and anxiety increased. Just before entering Rutland, a young man, dressed in a dandyish manner, and partially intoxicated, entered the car, and took the empty seat by Gypsy. She did not like his looks, and moved away slightly, turning to look out of the window.
" No offense, I hope ? " said the man, with a foolish smile; " the car was full."
Gypsy made no reply.
" Travelling far ? " he said, a moment after.
"To Rutland, sir," said Gypsy, feeling very uneasy, as she perceived the odor of rum, and wishing he would not talk to her.
" Friends there ? " said the man again.
"N-no, sir," said Gypsy, reluctantly. "I am going to the hotel."
' ' Stranger in town ? What hotel do you go to?"
" I don't know," said Gypsy, hurriedly. The car was just stopping, and she rose and tried to pass him.
' 'I will show you the way," he said, standing up, and reeling slightly as he tried to walk. Gypsy, in despair, looked for the conductor. He was nowhere to be seen. The crowd passed out, quite careless of the frightened child, or regarding her only with a curious stare.
" It's only a little way," said the man, with an oath.
"Why, sakes a massy, if this ain't Gypsy Breynton! "
Gypsy turned, with a cry of joy, at hearing her name, and fairly sprang into Mrs. Surly's arms.
" Why, where on airth did you come from, Gypsy Breynton? "
"I came from Boston, and that man is drunk, and,-oh, dear! I'm so glad to see you, and I've got to go to a hotel, and I didn't know what mother would say, and where did you come from? " said Gypsy, talking very fast.
"I come from my sister Lucindy's, down to Bellows Falls, and I'm going to Cousin Mary Ann Jacobs to spend the night."
"Oh! " said Gypsy, wistfully.
' ' I don't see how a little gal like you ever come to be on a night train alone," said Mrs. Surly, with a keen, curious look at Gypsy's face; "but I know your ma'd never let you go to a hotel this time o' night, and Mary Ann she'd be delighted to see you; so you'd better come along."
Gypsy was so happy and so thankful, she could fairly have kissed her,-even her, Mrs. Surly. Cousin Mary Ann received her hospitably, and the evening and the night passed quickly away. Mrs. Surly was very curious, and somewhat suspicious on the subject of Gypsy's return to Yorkbury, under such peculiar circumstances. Gypsy said that she left Boston quite suddenly, that they were not expecting her at home, and that she took so late a train for several reasons, but had not thought that it went no further than Rutland, till she was fairly started; which was true. More than this, Mrs. Surly could not cross-question out of her, and she soon gave up trying.
Cousin Mary Ann wanted Mrs. Surly's company another day; so Gypsy took an early train for Yorkbury alone.
Gypsy never took any trouble very deeply to heart, and the morning sunlight, and the sight of the dear, familiar mountains, drove away, to a great extent, the repentant and anxious thoughts of the night.
As the train shrieked into Yorkbury, she forgot everything but that she was at home,- miles away from Boston, her mother near, and Tom, and the dear old days of paddling about on rafts, and having no dinner-parties to disgrace herself at, and no aunt to be afraid of.
It seemed as if every one she knew were at the station. Mr. Surly was there, under strict orders from his wife, to watch for her every train till she came; and Mr. Fisher was there, just down on an errand from the mountains; and Mrs. Rowe and Sarah were walking up the street; and Agnes Gaylord was over at the grocer's, nodding and smiling as Gypsy stepped upon the platform; and there, too, was Mr. Simms, who had been somewhere in the cars, and who stepped into the coach just after she did.
' ' Why, Miss Gypsy !-why, really ! You home again, my dear ? Why, your father didn't expect you!"
"I know it," said Gypsy. "Are they all well ? "
"Oh, yes, yes, all well,-but to give them such a surprise! It is so exactly like you, my dear."
"I don't like Boston," said Gypsy, coloring. "I had a horrid time, and I came home very suddenly."
"Don't like Boston? Well, you are a remarkable young lady! " exclaimed Mr. Simms, and relapsed into silence, watching- Gypsy's flushed and eager face, as people watch a light coming back into a dark room.
"We have missed you up at the store, my dear, " he said, after a while.
"Have you? I'm glad. Oh! who's that with Miss Melville out walking under the elm-trees?"
" I guess it's Mr. Hallam."
"Oh, to be sure," interrupted Gypsy, looking very bright. "I see,-Mr. Guy Hallam. Now I guess I know why she wouldn't teach school! "
"They are to be married in the spring," said Mr. Simms.
"Just think!" said Gypsy. "How funny ! Now she'll have to stay at home and keep house all day,-I think she's real silly, don't you ? "
Of all the many remarkable things that Miss Gypsy had ever said, Mr. Simms thought this capped the climax.
Now the coach had rattled up the hill, and lumbered round the corner, and there was the old house, looking quiet and pleasant and dear, in the morning sunlight. Gypsy was .so excited that she could not sit still, and kept Mr. Simms in a fever of anxiety, for fear she would tumble out of the coach windows. It seemed to her as if she had been gone a year, instead of just one week.
She sprang down the carriage-steps at a bound, and ran into the house. Her mother was out in the kitchen helping Patty about the dinner. She heard such a singing and shouting as no one had made in the house since Gypsy went away, and hurried out into the front entry to see what had happened. Tom ran in from the garden, and Winnie slid down on the banisters, and Mr. Breynton was just coming up the yard, and Patty put her head in at the entry door, wiping her hands on her apron, and everybody must be kissed all round, and for a few minutes there was such a bustle, that Gypsy could hardly hear herself speak.
"What has brought you home so soon?" asked her mother, then. "We didn't look for you for a week yet."
"Oh, I hate Boston!" cried Gypsy, pulling off her things. "I didn't like anything but the Museum and Bunker Hill; and Joy wore silk dresses, and wouldn't let me look in the shop-windows, 'n I took a poor, little beggar-girl home, and you can't run round any, and Aunt Miranda told me she'd tell you, and I hate it, and she's just as cross as a bear! "
"Your aunt cross!" said her mother, who could make neither beginning nor end of Gypsy's excited story.
"I guess she is," said Gypsy, with an emphasis. "Oh, I am so glad to get home. Where's the kitty, and how's Peace Maythorne and everybody, and Winnie has a new jacket, hasn't he ?"
Mr. and Mrs. Breynton exchanged glances.
They saw that something was wrong; but wisely considered that that time was not the one for making any inquiries into the matter. Mrs. Breynton thought, also, that if Gypsy had been guilty of ill-temper or rudeness, she would confess it herself. She was right; for as soon as dinner was over, Gypsy called her away alone, and told her all the story. They were shut up together a long time, and when Gypsy came out her eyes were red with crying.
All that Mrs. Breynton said does not matter here; but Gypsy is not likely soon to forget it. A few words spoken, just as the conversation ended, became golden mottoes that helped her over many rough places in her life.
"It is all the old trouble, Gypsy,-you didn't think.' A little self-control, a moment's quiet thought, would have saved all this."
"Oh, I know it!" sobbed Gypsy. "That's what always ails me. I'm always doing things, and always sorry for them. I mean to do right, and I cannot remember. What shall I do with myself, mother ? "
" Gypsy," said her mother, very soberly, "this will never do. . You can think. And, Gypsy, my child, in every one of these little thoughtless words and acts God sees a sin."
"A sin when you didn't think? "exclaimed Gypsy.
' 'You must learn to think, Gypsy; and He will teach you."
Her mother kissed her many times, and Gypsy clung to her neck, and was very still. Whatever thoughts she had just then, she never told them to any one.
The afternoon passed away like a merry dream. Gypsy was so happy that she had had the talk with her mother; so glad to be kissed and forgiven and loved and helped; to find every one so pleased to see her back, and home so dear, and the mountains so blue and beautiful, and the sunlight so bright, that she scarcely knew whether she were asleep or awake. She must hunt up the kitten, and feed the chickens, and take a peep at the cow, and stroke old Billy in his stall; she must see how many sweet peas were left on the vines, and climb out on the shed-roof that had been freshly shingled since she was gone, and run down to the Kleiner Berg, and over to see Sarah Rowe. She must know just what Tom had been doing this interminable week, just how many buttons Winnie had lost off from his jacket, and what kind of pies Patty had baked for dinner. She must kiss her mother twenty times an hour, and pull her father's whiskers, and ride Winnie on her shoulder. Best of all, perhaps, it was to run down to Peace Maythorne's, and find the sunlight golden in the quiet room, and the pale face smiling on the pillow; to hear the gentle voice, when the door opened, say, "Oh, Gypsy!" in such a way,-as no other voice ever said it; and then to sit down and lay her head upon the pillow by Peace, and tell her all that had. happened.
"Well," said Peace, smiling, "I think you have learned a good deal for one week, and I guess you will never unlearn it."
" I guess you'll be very sorry you went to Bosting," remarked Winnie, in an oracular manner, that night, when they were all together in their old places in the sitting-room. "The Meddlesome Quinine Club had a concert here last Wednesday, and we had preserved seats. What do you think of that ? "
This is a copy of the letter that found its way to Beacon Street a few days after:-
"MY DEAR UNCLE AND AUNT MIRANDA:
" I am so sorry I don't know what to do. I was so tired sitting still, and going to dinner-parties, and then auntie was displeased about the beggar-girl (I took her home, and her mother was just as glad as she could be, and so poor!) and so I felt angry and homesick, and I know I oughtn't to have gone to such a place without asking; but I didn't think; and then I came home in the afternoon train, but I didn't think when I did that either. Mother says that was no excuse, and I know it was very wicked in me to do such a thing. Mrs. Surly met me in the cars at Rutland, and took me to spend the night with her cousin, Mrs. Mary Ann Jacobs; so I got along safely, and nothing happened to me, but one drunken man that kept talking.
" Mother says I have done a very rude and unkind thing, to leave you all so, when you had invited me there, and been so good to me. I know it. I had a real nice time when I went to see Bunker Hill and the Museum with uncle; and, of course, it was my own fault that I didn't like to wear gloves, and choked so at dinner.
" Mother says you will never want to see me there again; and I shouldn't think you would. Seems to me I never did such a thing in all my life, and you haven't any idea how badly I feel about it. But I know that doesn't help it any.
" I've made up my mind never to do anything again till I've thought it all over as many as twelve times. Mother says two or three would do, but I think twelve would be safer.
"I wish you'd let Joy come up here. I'd take her boating and riding, and up to Ripton, and down to the swamp, and everything, and try to make up.
" I don't suppose you will ever care anything more about me; but I wish you'd please. to excuse me and forgive me.
" Your affectionate niece,
"P. S.-Winnie's cat has the cunningest little set of kittens you ever saw. They're all blind, and they have such funny paws."
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