A Little Girl in Old Philadelphia

Publisher: DigiLibraries.com
Language: English
Published: 1 month ago
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She was swinging her gingham sunbonnet, faded beyond any recognition of its pristine coloring, her small hand keeping tight hold of the strings. At every revolution it went swifter and swifter until it seemed a grayish sort of wheel whirling in the late sunshine that sent long shadows among the trees. When she let it go it flew like a great bird, while she laughed sweet, merry childish notes that would have stirred almost any soul. A slim, lithe little maid with a great crop of yellow hair, cut short in the neck, and as we should say now, banged across the forehead. But it was a mass of frowzy curls that seemed full of sunshine.

With two or three quick leaps she captured it again and was just preparing for her next swirl.

"Primrose! Primrose! I think thee grows more disorderly every day. What caper is this? Look at these strings, they are like a twisted rope. And if thy bonnet had gone into the pond! For that matter it needs the washtub."

Primrose laughed again and then broke it in the middle with a funny little sound, and glanced at the tall woman beside her, who was smoothing out the strings with sundry pinches.

"Certainly thou art a heedless girl! What thou wilt be——" She checked herself. "Come at once to the kitchen. Wash thy face and hands and comb out that nest of frowze. Let me see"—surveying her. "Thou must have a clean pinafore. And dust thy shoes."

Primrose followed Aunt Lois in a spell of wonderment. The scolding was not severe, but it was generally followed by some sort of punishment. A clean pinafore, too! To be set on a high stool and study a Psalm, or be relegated to bread and water, and, oh! she was suddenly hungry. Down in the orchard were delicious ripe apples lying all about the ground. Why had she not gone and taken her fill?

She scrubbed her face with her small hands until Aunt Lois said, "That is surely enough." Then she wet her hair and tugged at the tangles, but as for getting it straight that was out of the question. All this time Aunt Lois stood by silent, with her soft gray eyes fixed on the culprit, until Prim felt she must scream and run away.

The elder turned to a chest of drawers and took out an apron of homespun blue-and-white check, a straight, bag-like garment with plain armholes and a cord run in at the neck. A bit of tape was quite a luxury, as it had to be imported, while one could twist cords, fine or coarse, at home.

"Your Aunt Wetherill's housekeeper is in the next room. She has come hither to give notice. Next week will be the time to go in town."

"Oh, Aunt Lois! Aunt Lois!" Primrose buried her face in the elder's gown. A curious yearning passed over the placid countenance, followed by a stronger one of repression, and she unclasped the clinging hands.

"It is a misfortune, as I have ever said, and there will be just shifting hither and yon, until thou art eighteen, a long way off. It makes thee neither fish nor fowl, for what is gained in one six months is upset in the next. But thy mother would have it so."

Primrose made no further protest, but swallowed over a great lump in her throat and winked hard....