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v THE MAJOR LOSES HIS TEMPER W HEN Betty reached home the dark had fallen, and as she entered the house she heard the crackling of fresh logs from the library, and saw her mother sitting alone in the firelight, which flickered softly on her pearl-gray silk and ruffles of delicate lace. She was humming in a low voice one of the old Scotch ballads the Governor loved, and as she rocked gently in her rosewood chair, her shadow flitted to and fro upon the floor. One loose bell sleeve hung over the carved arm of the rocker, and the fingers of her long white hand, so fragile that it was like a flower, played silently upon the polished wood. As the girl entered she looked up quickly. "You haven't been wandering off by yourself again?" she asked reproachfully. " Oh, it is quite safe, mamma," replied Betty, impatiently . "I didn't meet a soul except free Levi." " Your father wouldn't like it, my dear," returned Mrs. Ambler, in the tone in which she might have said, "it is forbidden in the Scriptures," and she added after a moment, "but where is Petunia? You might, at least, take Petunia with you." " Petunia is such a chatterbox," said Betty, tossing her wraps upon a chair, "and if she sees a 150 The Major Loses His Temper lSI cricket in the road she shrieks, ' Gawd er live, Miss Betty,' and jumps on the other side of me. No, I can't stand Petunia." She sat down upon an ottoman at her mother's feet, and rested her chin in her clasped hands. "But did you never go walking in your life, mamma?" she questioned. Mrs. Ambler looked a little startled. "Never alone, my dear," she replied with dignity. "Why, I shouldn't have thought of such a thing. There was a path to a little arbour in the glen at myoid home, I remember, - I think it was at least a quarter of a mile away, - and I sometimes strolled there with your father; but there were a good many briers about, so I usually preferred to stay on the lawn." Her voice was clear and sweet, but it had none of the humour which gave piquancy to Betty's. It might soothe, caress, even reprimand, but it could never jest; for life to Mrs. Ambler was soft, yet serious, like a continued prayer to a pleasant and tender Deity. "I'm sure I don't see how you stood it," said Betty, sympathetically. " Oh, I rode, my dear," returned her mother. "I used to ride very often with your father or - or one of the others. I had a brown mare named Zephyr." " And you never wanted to be alone, never for a single instant?" " Alone?" repeated Mrs. Ambler, wonderingly, " why, of course I read my Bible and meditated an hour every morning. In my youth it would have The Battle-Ground been considered very unladylike not to do it, and I'm sure there's no better way of beginning the day than with a chapter in the Bible and a little meditation . I wish you would try it, Detty." Her eyes were upon her daughter, and she added in an unchanged voice, "Don't you think you might manage to make your hair lie smoother, dear? It's very pretty, I know; but the way it curls about your face is just a bit untidy, isn't it?" Then, as the Governor came in from his day in town, she turned eagerly to hear the news of his latest speech. "Oh, I've had a great day, Julia," began the Governor ; but as he stooped to kiss her, she gave a little cry of alarm. "Why, you're frozen through! " she exclaimed. "Detty, stir the fire, and make your father sit down by the fender. Shall I mix you a toddy, Mr. Ambler?" "Tut, tut!" protested the Governor, laughing, "a touch of the wind is good for the blood, my dear." There was a light track of snow where he had crossed the room, and as he rested his foot upon the brass knob of the fender, the ice clinging to his riding-boot melted and ran down upon the hearth. " Oh, I've had a great day," he repeated heartily, holding his plump white hands to the flames. "It was worth the trip to test the spirit of Virginia; dnd it's sound, Julia, as sound...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780817388294
Related ISBN
9780817310417
MARC Record
OCLC
47010965
Pages
559
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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