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13 Standing Rock and Lake McDonald It was full summer when we got back to Wisconsin, and The Old Homestead was at its best.The garden was red with ripening fruit, the trees thick with shining leaves, and the thrushes and catbirds were singing in quiet joy.In the fields the growing corn was showing its ordered spears,and the wheat was beginning to wave in the gentle wind. No land could be more hospitable, more abounding or more peaceful than our valley. With her New Daughter again beside her life seemed very complete and satisfying to my mother,and I was quite at ease until one night, as she and I were sitting alone in the dusk, she confided to me, for the first time, her conviction that she had but a short time to live.Her tone,as well as her words,shocked me,for she had not hitherto been subject to dark moods. She gave no reason for her belief, but that she was suffering from some serious inner malady was evident,—I feared it might concern the action of her heart— and I was greatly disturbed by it. Of course I made light of her premonition, but thereafter I watched her with minute care, and called on the doctor at the slightest sign of change.We sang to her,we read to her,and Zulime spent long hours reading to her or sitting beside her. She was entirely happy except when, at intervals, her mysterious malady,— something she could not describe,—filled her eyes with terror. She loved to sit in the kitchen and watch her new daughter presiding over its activities,and submitted,with pathetic pride,to any change which Zulime proposed.“I am perfectly contented,” she said to me,“except—” “Except what, mother?” “The grandchild. I want to see my grandchild.” One of our regular excursions for several years had been a drive (usually on Sunday) over the ridge to Lewis Valley, where Frank McClintock still lived.Among my earliest memories is a terror of 152 Garland_Daughter_to press 10/20/06 3:43 PM Page 152 this road,for it led up a long,wooded hill,which seemed to me,as a child,a dangerous mountain pass. Many,many times since then I had made the climb,sometimes in the spring,sometimes in midsummer ,but now my plans included my wife.Mother was eager to go. “I can stand the ride if you will drive and be careful going down hill,” she said to me and so, although I was a little in doubt about the effect upon her heart,I hired a team,and early of a clear June morning we started for Mindoro. It was like riding back into the hopeful,happy past,for both the old people. Father was full of wistful reminiscences of “the early days,” but mother,who sat beside Zulime, made no comment, although her face shone with inward joy of the scene, the talk— until we came to the steep descent which scared her. Clinging to her seat with pitiful intensity she saw nothing but dangerous abysses until we reached the level road on the opposite side of the ridge. It was glorious June, and in this I now rejoice, for it proved to be the last time that we made the crossing of the long hill together. I was glad to have her visit her brother’s home once more.Change was coming to him as well as to her. His prodigious muscles and his boyish gayety were fading away together.Though still delightfully jolly and hospitable, his temper was distinctly less buoyant. He still played the fiddle;but like his brother,David,he found less and less joy in it,for his stiffened fingers refused to do his bidding. The strings which once sang clear and sweet,failed of their proper pitch, and these discords irritated and saddened him. Aunt Lorette,his handsome,rosy-cheeked wife,was beginning to complain smilingly, of being lame and “no account,” but she provided a beautiful chicken dinner,gayly“visiting”while she did it,with mother sitting by to watch her at the job as she had done so many times before. Lorette, like all the rest of us,felt under the necessity of putting her best foot forward in order that “Zuleema” should not be disappointed in any way, and to Zulime she was like a character in a novel; indeed, they all tried to live up to...


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