Cousin Maude (Chapter 5, page 1 of 8)

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Chapter 5

It was a chilly, rainy afternoon toward the latter part of August.
John was gone, the doctor was cross, and Hannah was cross. Nellie,
too, was unusually irritable, and venting her spite upon Hannah
because there was nothing for dinner fit to eat, and upon Maude
because the house was so desolate and dark, she crept away upstairs,
and wrapping a shawl round her, sat down to a novel, pausing
occasionally to frown at the rain which beat at the windows or the
wind as it roared dismally through the trees.

While thus employed she heard the sound of wheels, and looking up, saw standing before
their gate a muddy wagon, from which a little, dumpy figure in black
was alighting, carefully holding up her alpaca dress, and carrying
in one hand a small box which seemed to be full of flowers.

"She must have come to stay a long time," thought Nellie, as she saw
the piles of baggage which the driver was depositing upon the stoop.
"Who can it be?" she continued, as she recalled all her aunts and
cousins, and found that none of them answered the description of
this woman, who knocked loudly at the door, and then walked in to
shelter herself from the storm.

"Forlornity!" Nellie heard her exclaim, as she left the chamber in
answer to the summons. "Forlornity! No table, no hat-stand, no
nothin', and the dingiest old ile-cloth! What does it mean? Your
servant, miss," she added, dropping a courtesy to Nellie, who now
stood on the stairs, with her finger between the pages of her book,
so as not to lose the place. "I guess I've made a mistake," said the
woman; "is this Dr. Canady's?"

"It is," answered Nellie, and the stranger continued, "Dr. Canady
who married the widder Remington? "

"The same," returned Nellie, thinking how unmercifully she would
tease Maude should this prove to be any of her relations.

"And who be you?" asked the stranger, feeling a little piqued at the
coldness of her reception.

"I am Miss Helen--Dr. Kennedy's daughter," answered the young lady,
assuming an air of dignity, which was not at all diminished by the
very, expressive "Mortal!" which dropped from the woman's lips.

"Can I do anything for you?" asked Nellie, and the stranger
answered: "Yes, go and call Maude, but don't tell her who I am."

She forgot that Nellie did not herself know who she was, and sitting
down upon her trunk, she waited while Nellie hurried to the kitchen,
where, over a smoky fire, Maude was trying in vain to make a bit of
nicely browned toast for her mother, who had expressed a wish for
something good to eat.

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