Ethelyn's Mistake (Chapter 6, page 2 of 6)


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Chapter 6

She could do this now without a single pang of jealousy, for she was a
sensible girl, and after a night and a day of heaviness, and a vague
sense of disappointment, she had sung as merrily as ever, and no one was
more interested in the arrival of Richard's bride than she, from the
time when Richard started eastward for her. Between herself and her
mother there had been a long, confidential conversation, touching Mrs.
Markham's ways and the best means of circumventing them, so that the new
wife might not be utterly crushed with homesickness and surprise when
she first arrived. No one could manage Mrs. Markham as well as Melinda,
and it was owing to her influence wholly that the large, pleasant
chamber, which had been Richard's ever since he became a growing man,
was renovated and improved until it presented a very inviting
appearance. The rag carpet which for years had done duty, and bore many
traces of Richard's muddy boots, had been exchanged for a new
ingrain--not very pretty in design, or very stylish either, but
possessing the merit of being fresh and clean. To get the carpet Melinda
had labored assiduously, and had enlisted all three of the brothers,
James, and John, and Andy in the cause before the economical mother
consented to the purchase. The rag carpet, if cleaned and mended, was as
good as ever, she insisted; and even if it were not, she could put on
one that had not seen so much actual service. It was Andy who finally
decided her to indulge in the extravagance urged by Melinda Jones. There
were reasons why Andy was very near to his mother's heart, and when he
offered to sell his brown pony, which he loved as he did his eyes, his
mother yielded the point, and taking with her both Mrs. Jones and
Melinda, went to Camden, and sat two mortal hours upon rolls of
carpeting while she decided which to take.

Mrs. Markham was not stingy with regard to her table; that was always
loaded with the choicest of everything, while many a poor family blessed
her as an angel. But the articles she ate were mostly the products of
their large, well-cultivated farm; they did not cost money directly out
of her hand, and it was the money she disliked parting with, so she
talked and dickered, and beat the Camden merchant down five cents on a
yard, and made him cut it a little short, to save a waste, and made him
throw in the thread and binding and swear when she was gone, wondering
who "the stingy old woman was." And yet the very day after her return
from Camden "the stingy old woman" had sent to her minister a loaf of
bread and a pail of butter, and to a poor sick woman, who lived in a
leaky cabin off in the prairie, a nice, warm blanket for her bed, with a
basket of delicacies to tempt her capricious appetite.

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