Alisa Paige - A Book Sample (Chapter 3, page 1 of 14)


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Chapter 3

Ailsa and her sister-in-law, Mrs. Craig, had been unusually
reticent over their embroidery that early afternoon, seated
together in the front room, which was now flooded with sunshine--an
attractive, intimate room, restful and pretty in spite of the
unlovely Victorian walnut furniture.

Through a sunny passageway they could look into Ailsa's
bedroom--formerly the children's nursery--where her maid sat sewing.

Outside the open windows, seen between breezy curtains, new buds
already clothed the great twisted ropes of pendant wistaria with a
silvery-green down.

The street was quiet under its leafless double row of trees, maple,
ailanthus, and catalpa; the old man who trudged his rounds
regularly every week was passing now with his muffled shout:

Any old hats
Old coats
Old boots!
Any old mats
Old suits,
Old flutes! Ca-ash!

And, leaning near to the sill, Ailsa saw him shuffling along,
green-baize bag bulging, a pyramid of stove-pipe hats crammed down
over his ears.

At intervals from somewhere in the neighbourhood sounded the
pleasant bell of the scissors grinder, and the not unmusical call
of "Glass put in!" But it was really very tranquil there in the
sunshine of Fort Greene Place, stiller even for the fluted call of
an oriole aloft in the silver maple in front of the stoop.

He was a shy bird even though there were no imported sparrows to
drive this lovely native from the trees of a sleepy city; and he
sat very still in the top branches, clad in his gorgeous livery of
orange and black, and scarcely stirred save to slant his head and
peer doubtfully at last year's cocoons, which clung to the bark
like shreds of frosted cotton.

Very far away, from somewhere in the harbour, a deep sound jarred
the silence. Ailsa raised her head, needle suspended, listened for
a moment, then resumed her embroidery with an unconscious sigh.

Her sister-in-law glanced sideways at her.

"I was thinking of Major Anderson, Celia," she said absently.

"So was I, dear. And of those who must answer for his gove'nment's
madness,--God fo'give them."

There was no more said about the Major or his government. After a
few moments Ailsa leaned back dreamily, her gaze wandering around
the sunny walls of the room. In Ailsa Paige's eyes there was
always a gentle caress for homely things. Just now they caressed
the pictures of "Night" and "Morning," hanging there in their round
gilt frames; the window boxes where hyacinths blossomed; the
English ivy festooned to frame the window beside her
sister-in-law's writing-desk; the melancholy engraving over the
fireplace--"The Motherless Bairn"--a commonplace picture which
harrowed her, but which nobody thought of discarding in a day when
even the commonplace was uncommon.

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