St. Elmo (Chapter 7, page 1 of 11)


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Chapter 7

Mrs. Murray had informed Edna that the gentleman whom she had engaged to instruct her resided in the neighboring town of--, and one Monday morning in August she carried her to see him, telling her, as they drove along, that he was the minister of the largest church in the county, was an old friend of her family, and that she considered herself exceedingly fortunate in having prevailed upon him to consent to undertake her education. The parsonage stood on the skirts of the village, in a square immediately opposite the church, and was separated from it by a wide handsome street, lined on either side with elm trees. The old-fashioned house was of brick, with a wooden portico jutting out over the front door, and around the slender pillars twined honeysuckle and clematis tendrils, purple with clustering bells; while the brick walls were draped with luxuriant ivy, that hung in festoons from the eaves, and clambered up the chimneys and in at the windows.

The daily-swept walk leading to the gate was bordered with white and purple lilies--"flags," as the villagers dubbed them--and over the little gate sprang an arch of lattice-work loaded with Belgian and English honeysuckle, whose fragrant wreaths drooped till they touched the heads of all who entered. When Mrs. Murray and Edna ascended the steps and knocked at the open door, bearing the name "Allan Hammond," no living thing was visible, save a thrush that looked out shyly from the clematis vines; and after waiting a moment, Mrs. Murray entered unannounced. They looked into the parlor, with its cool matting and white curtains and polished old-fashioned mahogany furniture, but the room was unoccupied; then passing on to the library or study, where tiers of books rose to the ceiling, they saw, through the open window, the form of the pastor, who was stooping to gather the violets blooming in the little shaded garden at the rear of the house. A large white cat sunned herself on the strawberry bed, and a mocking-bird sang in the myrtle-tree that overshadowed the study-window. Mrs. Murray called to the minister, and taking off his straw hat he bowed, and came to meet them.

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