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IX THE MONTJOY BLOOD IN the morning Betty was awakened by the tapping of the elm boughs on the roof above her. An autumn wind was blowing straight from the west, and when she looked out through the small greenish panes of glass, she saw eddies of yellowed leaves beating gently against the old brick walls. Overhead light gray clouds were' flying across the sky, and beyond the waving tree-tops a white mist hung above the dim blue chain of mountains. When she went downstairs she found the Major, in his best black broadcloth, pacing up and down before the house. It was Sunday, and he intended to drive into town where the rector held his services. " You won't go in with me, I reckon?" he ventured hopefully, when Betty smiled out upon him from the library window. "Ah, my dear, you're as fresh as the morning, and only an old man to look at you. Well, well, age has its consolations; you'll spare me a kiss, I suppose?" "Then you must come in to get it," answered Betty, her eyes narrowing. "Breakfast is getting cold, and Cupid is calling down Aunt Rhody's wrath upon your head." "Oh, I'll come, I'll come," returned the Major, hurrying up the steps, and adding as he entered the 203 204 The Battle-Ground dining room, " My child, if you'd only take a fancy to Champe, I'd be the happiest man on earth." " Now I shan't allow any matchmaking on Sunday ," said Betty, warningly, as she prepared Mrs. Lightfoot's breakfast. "Sit down and carve the chicken while I run upstairs with this." She went out and came back in a moment, laughing merrily. "Do you know, she threatens to become bedridden now that I am here to fix her trays," she explained, sitting down between the tall silver urns and pouring out the Major's coffee. "What an uncertain day you have for church," she added as she gave his cup to Cupid. With his eyes on her vivid face the old man listened rapturously to her fresh young voice - the voice, he said, that always made him think of clear water falling over stones. It was one of the things that came to her from Peyton Ambler, he knew, with her warm hazel eyes and the sweet, strong curve of her mouth. "Ah, but you're like your father," he said as he watched her. "If you had brown hair you'd be his very image." "I used to wish that I had," responded Betty, "but I don't now - I'd just as soon have red." She was thinking that Dan did not like brown hair so much, and the thought shone in her face - only the Major, in his ignorance, mistook its meaning. After breakfast he got into the coach and started off, and Betty, with the key basket on her arm, followed Cupid and Aunt Rhody into the storeroom. Then she gathered fresh flowers for the table, and went upstairs to read a chapter from the Bible to Mrs. Lightfoot. The Montjoy Blood The Major stayed to dinner in town, returning late in a moody humour and exhausted by his drive. As Betty brushed her hair before her bureau, she heard him talking in a loud voice to Mrs. Lightfoot, and when she went in at supper time the old lady called her to her bedside and took her hand. "He has had a touch of the gout, Betty," she whispered in her ear, "and he heard some news in town which upset him a little. You must try to cheer him up at supper, child." "Was it bad news?" asked Betty, in alarm. " It may not be true, my dear. I hope it isn't, but, as I told Mr. Lightfoot, it is always better to believe the worst, so if any surprise comes it may be a pleasant one. Somebody told him in church - and they had much better have been attending to the service, I'm sure, - that Dan had gotten into trouble again, and Mr. Lightfoot is very angry about it. He had a talk with the boy before he went away, and made him promise to turn over a new leaf this year - but it seems this is the most serious thing that has happened yet. I must say I always told Mr. Lightfoot it was what he had to expect." " In trouble again...


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