Ethelyn's Mistake (Chapter 10, page 1 of 5)

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Chapter 10

There were a great many vacant seats in the Methodist church the morning
following Ethelyn's arrival, while Mr. Townsend was surprised at the
size of his congregation. It was generally known that Mrs. Judge Markham
was an Episcopalian, and as she would of course patronize the Village
Hall, the young people of Olney were there en masse, eager to see the
new bride. But their curiosity was not gratified. Ethelyn was too tired
to go out, Andy said, when questioned on the subject, while Eunice
Plympton, who was also of Andy's faith, and an attendant of the Village
Hall, added the very valuable piece of information that "Miss Markham's
breakfast had been taken to her, and that when she [Eunice] came away
she was still in bed, or at all events had not yet made her appearance
below." This, together with Eunice's assertion that she was handsome,
and Tim Jones' testimony that she was "mighty stuck-up, but awful neat,"
was all the disappointed Olneyites knew of Mrs. Richard Markham, who, as
Eunice reported, had breakfasted in bed, and was still lying there when
the one bell in Olney rang out its summons for church. She did not
pretend to be sick--only tired and languid, and indisposed for any
exertion; and then it was much nicer taking her breakfast from the
little tray covered with the snowy towel which Richard brought her, than
it was to go down stairs and encounter "all those dreadful people," as
she mentally styled Richard's family; so she begged for indulgence this
once, and Richard could not refuse her request, and so excused her to
his mother, who said nothing, but whose face wore an expression which
Richard did not like.

Always strong and healthy herself, Mrs. Markham had but little charity
for nervous, delicate people, and she devoutly hoped that Richard's wife
would not prove to be one of that sort. When the dishes were washed, and
the floor swept, and the broom hung up in its place, and the sleeves of
the brown, dotted calico rolled down, she went herself to see Ethelyn,
her quick eye noticing the elaborate night-gown, with its dainty tucks
and expensive embroidery, and her thoughts at once leaping forward to
ironing day, with the wonder who was to do up such finery. "Of course,
though, she'll see to such things herself," was her mental conclusion,
and then she proceeded to question Ethelyn as to what was the matter,
and where she felt the worst. A person who did not come down to
breakfast must either be sick or very babyish and notional, and as
Ethelyn did not pretend to much indisposition, the good woman naturally
concluded that she was "hypoey," and pitied her boy accordingly.

Ethelyn readily guessed the opinion her mother-in-law was forming of
her, and could hardly steady her voice sufficiently to answer her
questions or repress her tears, which gushed forth the moment Mrs.
Markham had left the room, and she was alone with Richard. Poor Richard!
it was a novel position in which he found himself--that of mediator
between his mother and his wife; but he succeeded very well, soothing
and caressing the latter, until when, at three o'clock in the afternoon,
the bountiful dinner was ready, he had the pleasure of taking her
downstairs, looking very beautiful in her handsome black silk, and the
pink coral ornaments Aunt Barbara had given her. There was nothing gaudy
about her dress; it was in perfect taste, and very plain too, as she
thought, even if it was trimmed with lace and bugles. But she could not
help feeling it was out of keeping when James, and John, and Eunice
stared so at her, and Mrs. Markham asked her if she hadn't better tie on
an apron for fear she might get grease or something on her. With ready
alacrity Eunice, who fancied her young mistress looked like a queen,
forgetting in her admiration that she had ever thought her proud, ran
for her own clean, white apron, which she offered to the lady.

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