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Anne Sophia's call upon Mary Erskine.
was tolerably good that winter, he should be able to clear enough to pay all his expenses and to pay for his furniture.
His calculations proved to be correct. Business was very good. He paid for his furniture, and bought as much more on a new credit in the spring.
Anne Sophia came out to make a call upon Mary Erskine, about a month after she had got established in her new home. She came in the morning. Mr. Gordon brought her in a chaise as far as to the corner, and she walked the rest of the way. She was dressed very handsomely, and yet in pretty good taste. It was not wholly a call of ceremony, for Anne Sophia felt really a strong attachment to Mary Erskine, and had a great desire to see her in her new home.
When she rose to take her leave, after her call was ended, she asked Mary Erskine to come to the village and see her as soon as she could. "I meant to have called upon you long before this,” said she, “but I have been so busy, and we have had so much company. But I want to see you very much indeed. We have a beautiful house, and I have a great desire to show it to you. I think you have got a beautiful place here for a farm, one of these days;
Mary Erskine's home.
but you ought to make your husband build you a better house. He is as able to do it as my husband is to get me one, I have no doubt.”
Mary Erskine had no doubt either. She did not say so however, but only replied that she liked her house very well. The real reason why she liked it so much was one that Anne Sophia did not consider. The reason was that it was her own. Whereas Anne Sophia lived in a house, which, pretty as it was, belonged to other people.
All these things, it must be remembered, took place eight or ten years before the time when Malleville and Phonny went to visit Mary Erskine, and when Mary Bell was only four or five years old. Phonny and Malleville, as well as a great many other children, had grown up from infancy since that time. In fact, the Jemmy who fell from his horse and sprained his ankle the day they came, was Jemmy Gordon, Anne Sophia's oldest son.
Albert's farming operations.
Both Mary Erskine and Anne Sophia went on very pleasantly and prosperously, each in her own way, for several years. Every spring Albert cut down more trees, and made new openings and clearings. He built barns and sheds about his house, and gradually accumulated quite a stock of animals. With the money that he obtained by selling the grain and the grass seed which he raised upon his land, he bought oxen and sheep and cows. These ani. mals fed in his pastures in the summer, and in the winter he gave them hay from his barn.
Mary Erskine used to take the greatest pleasure in getting up early in the cold winter mornings, and going out with her husband to see him feed the animals. She always brought in a large pile of wood every night, the last thing before going to bed, and laid it upon the hearth where it would be ready at hand for the morning fire. She also had a pail of water ready, from the spring, and the tea-kettle by the
Mary Erskine's morning visits to the barn.
side of it, ready to be filled. The potatoes, too, which were to be roasted for breakfast, were always prepared the night before, and placed in an earthen pan, before the fire. Mary Erskine, in fact, was always very earnest to make every possible preparation over night, for the work of the morning. This arose partly from an instinctive impulse which made her always wish, as she expressed it, “ to do every duty as soon as it came in sight,” and partly from the pleasure which she derived from a morning visit to the animals in the barn. She knew them all by name. She imagined that they all knew her, and were glad to see her by the light of her lantern in the morning. It gave her the utmost satisfaction to see them rise, one after another, from their straw, and begin eagerly to eat the hay which Albert pitched down to them from the scaffold, while she, standing below upon the barn floor, held the lantern so that he could see.
She was always very careful to hold it so that the cows and the oxen could see too.
One day, when Albert came home from the village, he told Mary Erskine that he had an offer of a loan of two hundred dollars, from Mr. Keep. Mr. Keep was an elderly gentle
Mr. Gordon's request.
man of the village,—of a mild and gentle expression of countenance, and white hair. He was a man of large property, and often had money to lend at interest. He had an office, where he used to do his business. This office was in a wing of his house, which was a large and handsome house in the center of the village. Mr. Keep had a son who was a physician, and he used often to ask his son's opinion and advice about his affairs. One day when Mr. Keep was sitting in his office, Mr. Gordon came in and told him that he had some plans for enlarging his business a little, and wished to know if Mr. Keep had two or three hundred dollars that he would like to lend for six months. Mr. Keep, who, though he was a very benevolent and a very honorable man, was very careful in all his money dealings, said that he would look a little into his accounts, and see how much he had to spare, and let Mr. Gordon know the next day.
That night Mr. Keep asked his son what he thought of lending Mr. Gordon two or three hundred dollars. His son said doubtfully that he did not know. He was somewhat uncertain about it. Mr. Gordon was doing very well, he believed, but then his expenses were quite