“Here’s your breakfast, miss. I hope it’s right. Your mother showed me how to fix it, and said I’d find a cup up here.”
“Take that blue one. I have not much appetite, and can’t eat if things are not nice and pretty. I like the flowers. I’ve been longing for some ever since I saw them last night.”
The first speaker was a red-haired, freckle-faced girl, in a brown calico dress and white apron, with a tray in her hands and an air of timid hospitality in her manner; the second a pale, pretty creature, in a white wrapper and blue net, sitting in a large chair, looking about her with the languid interest of an invalid in a new place. Her eyes brightened as they fell upon a glass of rosy laurel and delicate maidenhair fern that stood among the toast and eggs, strawberries and cream, on the tray.
“Our laurel is jest in blow, and I’m real glad you come in time to see it. I’ll bring you a lot, as soon’s ever I get time to go for it.”
As she spoke, the plain girl replaced the ugly crockery cup and saucer with the pretty china ones pointed out to her, arranged the dishes, and waited to see if anything else was needed.
“What is your name, please?” asked the pretty girl, refreshing herself with a draught of new milk.
“Rebecca. Mother thought I’d better wait on you; the little girls are so noisy and apt to forget. Wouldn’t you like a piller to your back? you look so kind of feeble seems as if you wanted to be propped up a mite.”
There was so much compassion and good-will in the face and voice, that Emily accepted the offer, and let Rebecca arrange a cushion behind her; then, while the one ate daintily, and the other stirred about an inner room, the talk went on, — for two girls are seldom long silent when together.
“I think the air is going to suit me, for I slept all night and never woke till Mamma had been up ever so long and got things all nicely settled,” said Emily, graciously, when the fresh strawberries had been enjoyed, and the bread and butter began to vanish.
“I’m real glad you like it; most folks do, if they don’t mind it being plain and quiet up here. It’s gayer down at the hotel, but the air ain’t half so good, and delicate folks generally like our old place best,” answered Becky, as she tossed over a mattress and shook out the sheet with a brisk, capable air pleasant to see.
“I wanted to go to the hotel, but the doctor said it would be too noisy for me, so Mamma was glad to find rooms here. I didn’t think a farm-house could be so pleasant. That view is perfectly splendid!” and Emily sat up to gaze delightedly out of the window, below which spread the wide intervale, through which the river ran with hay-fields on either side, while along the green slopes of the hills lay farm-houses with garden plots, and big barns waiting for the harvest; and beyond, the rocky, wooded pastures dotted with cattle and musical with cow-bells, brooks, and birds.
A balmy wind kissed a little color into the pale cheeks, the listless eyes brightened as they looked, and the fretful lines vanished from lips that smiled involuntarily at the sweet welcome Nature gave the city child come to rest and play and grow gay and rosy in her green lap.
Becky watched her with interest, and was glad to see how soon the new-comer felt the charm of the place, for the girl loved her mountain home, and thought the old farm-house the loveliest spot in the world.
“When you get stronger I can show you lots of nice views round here. There’s a woodsy place behind the house that’s just lovely. Down by the laurel bushes is my favorite spot, and among the rocks is a cave where I keep things handy when I get a resting-spell now and then, and want to be quiet. Can’t get much at home, when there’s boarders and five children round in vacation time.”
Becky laughed as she spoke, and there was a sweet motherly look in her plain face, as she glanced at the three little red heads bobbing about the door-yard below, where hens cackled, a pet lamb fed, and the old white dog lay blinking in the sun.
“I like children; we have none at home, and Mamma makes such a baby of me I’m almost ashamed sometimes. I want her to have a good rest now, for she has taken care of me all winter and needs it. You shall be my nurse, if I need one; but I hope to be so well soon that I can see to myself. It’s so tiresome to be ill!” and Emily sighed as she leaned back among her pillows, with a glance at the little glass which showed her a thin face and shorn head.