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Mary Erskine's prudence.
really changed, Albert himself, as well as every body else, went on calling her Mary Erskine just as before—“it is rather hard to make you wait so long for these conveniences, especially as there is no necessity for it. We need not have paid for our land this three years. I might have taken the money and built a handsome house, and furnished it for you at once.”
“And so have been in debt for the land,” said Mary.
“Yes,” said Albert. “I could have paid off that debt by the profits of the farming. I can lay up a hundred dollars a year, certainly."
“No," said Mary Erskine. “I like this plan the best. We will pay as we go along. It will be a great deal better to have the three hundred dollars for something else than to pay old debts with. We will build a better house than this if we want one, one of these years, when we get the money. But I like this house very much as it is. Perhaps, however, it is only because it is my own.”
It was not altogether the idea that it was her own that made Mary Erskine like her house. The interior of it was very pleasant indeed, especially after Albert had completed the furnishing of it, and had laid the floor. It contained
The interior of the log house.
but one room, it is true, but that was a very spacious one. There were, in fact, two apartments enclosed by the walls and the roof, though only one of them could strictly be called a
The other was rather a shed, or stoop, and it was entered from the front by a wide opening, like a great shed door. The entrance to the house proper was by a door opening from this stoop, so as to be sheltered from the storms in winter. There was a very large fire place made of stones in the middle of one side of the room, with a large flat stone for a hearth in front of it. This hearth stone was very smooth, and Mary Erskine kept it always very bright and clean. On one side of the fire was what they called a settle, which was a long wooden seat with a very high back. It was placed on the side of the fire toward the door, so that it answered the purpose of a screen to keep off any cold currents of air, which might come in on blustering winter nights, around the door. On the other side of the fire was a small and very elegant mahogany work table. This was a present to Mary Erskine from Mrs. Bell on the day of her marriage. There were drawers in this table containing sundry conveniences. The upper
drawer was made to answer the pur
The work table.
pose of a desk, and it had an inkstand in a small division in one corner. Mrs. Bell had thought of taking this inkstand out, and putting in some spools, or something else which Mary Erskine would be able to use. But Mary herself would not allow her to make such a change. She said it was true that she could not write, but that was no reason why she should not have an inkstand. So she filled the inkstand with ink, and furnished the desk completely in other respects, by putting in six sheets of paper, a pen, and several wafers. The truth was, she thought it possible that an occasion might arise some time or other, at which Albert might wish to write a letter; and if such a case should occur, it would give her great pleasure to have him write his letter at her desk.
Beyond the work table, on one of the sides of the room, was a cupboard, and next to the cupboard a large window. This was the only window in the house, and it had a sash which would rise and fall. Mary Erskine had made white curtains for this window, which could be parted in the middle, and hung up upon nails driven into the logs which formed the wall of the house, one on each side. Of what use these curtains could be except to make the room look
The furniture of Mary Erskine's house.
more snug and pleasant within, it would be difficult to say; for there was only one vast expanse of forests and mountains on that side of the house, so that there was nobody to look in.
On the back side of the room, in one corner, was the bed. It was supported upon a bedstead which Albert had made. The bedstead had high posts, and was covered, like the window, with curtains. In the other corner was the place for the loom, with the spinning-wheel between the loom and the bed. When Mary Erskine was using the spinning-wheel, she brought it out into the center of the room. The loom was not yet finished. Albert was building it, working upon it from time to time as he had opportunity. The frame of it was up, and some of the machinery was made.
Mary Erskine kept most of her clothes in a trunk; but Albert was making her a bureau.
Instead of finding it lonesome at her new home, as Mrs. Bell had predicted, Mary Erskine had plenty of company. The girls from the village, whom she used to know, were very fond of coming out to see her. Many of them were much younger than she was, and they loved to ramble about in the woods around Mary Erskine's house, and to play along the
Mary Bell's visits.
The working frock.
bank of the brook. Mary used to show them too, every time they came, the new articles which Albert had made for her, and to explain to them the gradual progress of the improvements. Mary Bell herself was very fond of going to see Mary Erskine,-though she was of course at that time too young to go alone. Sometimes however Mrs. Bell would send her out in the morning and let her remain all day, playing, very happily, around the door and down by the spring. She used to play all day among the logs and stumps, and upon the sandy beach by the side of the brook, and yet when she went home at night she always looked as nice, and her clothes were as neat and as clean as when she went in the morning. Mrs. Bell wondered at this, and on observing that it continued to be so, repeatedly, after several visits, she asked Mary Bell how it happened that Mary Erskine kept her so nice.
Oh,” said Mary Bell, “ I always put on my working frock when I go out to Mary Erskine's.”
The working frock was a plain, loose woolen dress, which Mary Erskine made for Mary Bell, and which Mary Bell always put on in the morning, whenever she came to the farm. Her own dress was taken off and laid carefully away