Ethelyn's Mistake (Chapter 7, page 2 of 4)


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Chapter 7

He was younger than his brother by half a dozen years, but he looked
quite as old, if not older. His face and hands were sunburnt and brown,
his clothes were coarse, his pants were tucked into his tall, muddy
boots, and he held in his hands the whip with which he had driven the
shining bays, pricking up their ears behind the depot and eyeing askance
the train just beginning to move away. The Markhams were all
good-looking, and James was not an exception. The Olney girls called him
very handsome, when on Sunday he came to church in his best clothes and
led the Methodist choir; but Ethelyn only thought him rough, and coarse,
and vulgar, and when he bent down to kiss her she drew back haughtily.

"Ethelyn!" Richard said, in the low, peculiar tone, which she had almost
unconsciously learned to fear, just as she did the dark expression which
his hazel eyes assumed as he said the single word "Ethelyn!"

She was afraid of Richard when he looked and spoke that way, and putting
up her lip, she permitted the kiss which the warm-hearted James gave to
her. He was naturally more demonstrative than his brother, and more
susceptible, too; a pretty face would always set his heart to beating
and call out all the gallantry of his nature. Wholly unsophisticated, he
never dreamed of the gulf there was between him and the new sister, whom
he thought so beautiful--loving her at once, because she was so pretty,
and because she was the wife of Dick, their household idol. He was more
of a ladies' man than Richard, and when on their way to the
democratic-wagon they came to a patch of mud, through which Ethelyn's
skirts were trailing, he playfully lifted her in his strong arms, and
set her down upon the wagon-box, saying, as he adjusted her skirts: "We
can't have that pretty dress spoiled, the very first day, with
Iowa mud."

All this time Tim Jones had been dutifully holding the satchel, which he
now deposited at Ethelyn's feet, and then, at James' invitation, he
sprang into the hinder part of the wagon-box, and sitting down, let his
long limbs dangle over the backboard, while James sat partly in
Richard's lap and partly in Ethelyn's. It had been decided that the
democrat must come down again for the baggage; and so, three on a seat,
with Tim Jones holding on behind, Ethelyn was driven through the town,
while face after face looked at her from the windows of the different
dwellings, and comment after comment was made upon her pretty little
round hat, with its jaunty feather, which style had not then penetrated
so far west as Olney. Rumors there were of the Eastern ladies wearing
hats which made them look at least ten years younger than their actual
age; but Ethelyn was the first to carry the fashion to Olney, and she
was pronounced very stylish, and very girlish, too, by those who watched
her curiously from behind their curtains and blinds.

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