Ethelyn's Mistake (Chapter 1, page 1 of 15)


 
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Chapter 1

There was a sweet odor of clover blossoms in the early morning air, and
the dew stood in great drops upon the summer flowers, and dropped from
the foliage of the elm trees which skirted the village common. There was
a cloud of mist upon the meadows, and the windings of the river could be
distinctly traced by the white fog which curled above it. But the fog
and the mists were rolling away as the warm June sun came over the
eastern hills, and here and there signs of life were visible in the
little New England town of Chicopee, where our story opens. The
mechanics who worked in the large shoe-shop halfway down Cottage Row had
been up an hour or more, while the hissing of the steam which carried
the huge manufactory had been heard since the first robin peeped from
its nest in the alders down by the running brook; but higher up, on
Bellevue Street, where the old inhabitants lived, everything was quiet,
and the loamy road, moist and damp with the dews of the previous night,
was as yet unbroken by the foot of man or rut of passing wheel.

The people who lived there, the Mumfords, and the Beechers, and the
Grangers, and the Thorns, did not strictly belong to the working class.
They held stocks in railroads, and mortgages on farms, and so could
afford to sleep after the shrill whistle from the manufactory had
wakened the echoes of the distant hills and sounded across the waters
of Pordunk Pond. Only one dwelling here showed signs of life, and that
the large square building, shaded in front with elms and ornamented at
the side with a luxuriant queen of the prairie, whose blossoms were
turning their blushing faces to the rising sun. This was the Bigelow
house, the joint property of Mrs. Dr. Van Buren, née Sophia Bigelow, who
lived in Boston, and her sister, Miss Barbara Bigelow, the quaintest and
kindest-hearted woman who ever bore the sobriquet of an old maid, and
was aunt to everybody. She was awake long before the whistle sounded
across the river and along the meadow lands, where some of the workmen
lived, and just as the robin, whose nest for four summers had been under
the eaves where neither boy nor cat could reach it, brought the first
worm to its clamorous young, she pushed the fringed curtain from her
open window, and with her broad frilled cap still on her head, stood for
a moment looking out upon the morning as it crept up the eastern sky.
"She will have a nice day for her wedding. May her future life be as
fair," Aunt Barbara whispered softly, then kneeling before the window
with her head bowed upon the sill, she prayed earnestly for God's
blessing on the bridal to take place that night beneath her roof, and
upon the young girl who had been both a care and a comfort since the
Christmas morning eighteen years before, when her half-sister Julia had
come home to die, bringing with her the little Ethelyn, then but two
years old.

 
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