A Spinner in the Sun (Chapter 2, page 2 of 7)


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Chapter 2

Her gown was dark calico, stiffly starched, and made according to the durable and comfortable pattern of her school-days. "All in one piece," Miss Hitty was wont to say. "Then when I bend over, as folks that does housework has to bend over, occasionally, I don't come apart in the back. For my part, I never could see sense in wearing clothes that's held by a safety-pin in the back instead of good, firm cloth, and, moreover, a belt that either slides around or pinches where it ain't pleasant to be pinched, ain't my notion of comfort. Apron strings is bad enough, for you have to have 'em tight to keep from slipping." Miss Hitty had never worn corsets, and had the straight, slender figure of a boy.

The situation became awkward. Miss Evelina still stood in the middle of the room, her veiled face slightly averted. The impenetrable shelter of chiffon awed Miss Mehitable, but she was not a woman to give up easily when embarked upon the quest for knowledge. Some unusual state of mind kept her from asking a direct question about the veil, and meanwhile she continually racked her memory.

Miss Evelina's white, slender hands opened and closed nervously. Miss Hitty set her feet squarely on the floor, and tucked her immaculate white apron closely about her knees. "When did you come?" she demanded finally, with the air of the attorney for the prosecution.

"Last night," murmured Miss Evelina.

"On that late train?"

"Yes."

"I heard it stop, but I never sensed it was you. Seemed to me I heard somebody go by, too, but I was too sleepy to get up and see. I thought I must be dreaming, but I was sure I heard somebody on the walk. If I'd known it was you, I'd have made you stop at my house for the rest of the night, instead of coming up here alone."

"Very kind," said Miss Evelina, after an uncomfortable pause.

"You might as well set down," remarked Miss Hitty, with a new gentleness of manner. "I'm going to set a spell."

Miss Evelina sat, helplessly, in the hair-cloth chair which she hated, and turned her veiled face yet farther away from her guest. Seeing that her hostess did not intend to talk, Miss Hitty began a conversation, if anything wholly one-sided may be so termed.

"I live in the same place," she said. "Ma died seventeen years ago on the eighteenth of next April, and left the house and the income for me. There was enough to take care of two, and so I took my sister's child, Araminta, to bring up. You know my poor sister got married. She ought to have known better, but she didn't. She just put her head into the noose, and it slipped up on her, as I told her it would, both before and after the ceremony. Having seen all the trouble men make in the world, I sh'd think women would know enough to keep away from 'em, but they don't--that is, some women don't." Miss Hitty smoothed her stiff white apron with an air of conscious virtue.

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