Richards before--save at a distance, or spinning past him in her smart little runabout.
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She was in her office and came forward to meet him gravely sweet. She had a little, square, wide-lipped, straight-browed face like a boy's. Not pretty but haunting. Wavy brown hair with one teasing, unruly little curl that would fall down on her forehead, giving her a youthful look in spite of her thirty-five years.
What a dear face!
So wide at the cheekbones--so deep grey-eyed. With such a lovely, smiling, generous mouth. Some old text of Sunday-school days suddenly flitted through Klondike Lesley's dazed brain:. For just a second their eyes met and locked. Only a second. But it did the work of years.
The irresistible woman had met the immovable man and the inevitable had happened. She might have had thick ankles--only she hadn't; her mother might have meowed all over the church. Nothing would have mattered to Klondike Lesley. She made him think of all sorts of lovely things, such as sympathy, kindness, generosity, and women who were not afraid to grow old. He had the most extraordinary feeling that he would like to lay his head on her breast and cry, like a little boy who had got hurt, and have her stroke his head and say,.
Moorhouse has given her up.
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We are all very fond of her. Her mother will die if she cannot be saved. Won't you come? She came. She said little, but she did some drastic things about diet and sleeping. Old and Young Grandmothers gasped when she ordered the child's cradle moved out on the veranda. Every day for two weeks her light, steady footsteps came and went about Cloud of Spruce. Lorraine and Salome and Young Grandmother hung breathlessly on her briefest word.
Old Grandmother saw her once. She had told Salome to bring "the woman-doctor in," and they had looked at each other for a few minutes in silence. The steady, sweet, grey eyes had gazed unquailingly into the piercing black ones. The little humorous quirk in Dr.
Richards's mouth widened to a smile. She looked around her at all the laughing brides of long ago in their billows of tulle. She spoke with her own dignity of "Dr.
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Richards"--for a short time. Klondike brought Dr. Richards to Cloud of Spruce and took her away. Her own car was laid up for repairs. But nobody was paying much attention to Klondike just then. At the end of the two weeks it seemed to Lorraine that the shadow had ceased to deepen on the little wasted face.
A few more days--was it not lightening--lifting? At the end of three more weeks Dr. Richards told them that the baby was out of danger. Lorraine fainted and Young Grandmother shook and Klondike broke down and cried unashamedly like a schoolboy. A few days later the clan had another conclave--a smaller and informal one. The aunts and uncles present were all genuine ones. And it was not, as Salome thankfully reflected, on a Friday. The horror of this kept the Lesleys silent for a few minutes. Besides, every one dreaded starting up another argument so soon after those dreadful weeks.
Who knew but what it had been a judgment on them for quarrelling over it? Call her after the woman who has saved her life, of course. The Lesleys looked at each other. A simple, graceful, natural solution of the problem--if only He can tell you, or I'm much mistaken. Every one looked at Klondike. In the anxiety of the past weeks everybody in the clan had been blind to Klondike's goings-on--except perhaps Old Grandmother.
Klondike straightened his shoulders and tossed back his mane.
It was as good a time as any to tell something that would soon have to be told. The Witch of Endor, being wise in her generation, licked her black paws and said no more, but continued to have her own opinion. On the evening of Old Grandmother's ninety-eighth birthday there was a sound of laughter on the dark staircase--which meant that Marigold Lesley, who had lived six years and thought the world a very charming place, was dancing downstairs.
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You generally heard Marigold before you saw her. She seldom walked. A creature of joy, she ran or danced. Her laughter always seemed to go before her. Both Young Grandmother and Mother, to say nothing of Salome and Lazarre, thought that golden trill of laughter echoing through the somewhat prim and stately rooms of Cloud of Spruce the loveliest sound in the world. Mother often said this.
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Young Grandmother never said it. That was the difference between Young Grandmother and Mother. Marigold squatted down on the broad, shallow, uneven sandstone steps at the front door and proceeded to think things over--or, as Aunt Marigold, who was a very dear, delightful woman, phrased it, "make magic for herself. Already, even at six, Marigold found this an entrancing occupation--"int'resting," to use her own pet word.
She had picked it up from Aunt Marigold and from then to the end of life things would be for Marigold interesting or uninteresting. Some people might demand of life that it be happy or untroubled or successful. Marigold Lesley would only ask that it be interesting. Already she was looking with avid eyes on all the exits and entrances of the drama of life.
There had been a birthday party for Old Grandmother that day, and Marigold had enjoyed it--especially that part in the pantry about which nobody save she and Salome knew. Young Grandmother would have died of horror if she had known how many of the whipped cream tarts Marigold had actually eaten. But she was glad to be alone now and think things over. In Young Grandmother's opinion Marigold did entirely too much thinking for so small a creature. Even Mother, who generally understood, sometimes thought so too. It couldn't be good for a child to have its mind prowling in all sorts of corners.
But everybody was too tired after the party to bother about Marigold and her thoughts just now, so she was free to indulge in a long delightful reverie. Marigold was, she would have solemnly told you, "thinking over the past. Whether all her thoughts would have pleased Young Grandmother, or even Mother, if they had known them, there is no saying.
But then they did not know them. Long, long ago--when she was only five and a half--Marigold had horrified her family--at least the Grandmotherly part of it--by saying in her nightly prayer, "Thank you, dear God, for 'ranging it so that nobody knows what I think.
But she continued to think privately that God was very wise and good in making thoughts exclusively your own. Marigold hated to have people barging in, as Uncle Klon would have said, on her little soul.
But then, as Young Grandmother would have said and did say, Marigold always had ways no orthodox Lesley baby ever thought of having--"the Winthrop coming out in her," Young Grandmother muttered to herself. All that was good in Marigold was Lesley and Blaisdell. All that was bad or puzzling was Winthrop. For instance, that habit of hers of staring into space with a look of rapture.
What did she see? And what right had she to see it? And when you asked her what she was thinking of she stared at you and said, "Nothing. The sky above her was a wonderful soft deep violet. A wind that had lately blown over clover-meadows came around the ivied shoulder of the house in the little purring puffs that Marigold loved.
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To her every wind in the world was a friend--even those wild winter ones that blew so fiercely up the harbour. The row of lightning-rod balls along the top of Mr. Donkin's barn across the road seemed like silver fairy worlds floating in the afterlight against the dark trees behind them. The lights across the harbour were twinkling out along the shadowy shore.