FOR the land’s sake! What’ll Maria do now!’
‘That’s just what Hiram said—“What’ll Maria do now!” It aint as if she had folks belongin’ to her, and now the house is burnt, and Hannah is as she is, it does seem as if Maria’d find it hard gittin’ on alone and doin’ her own thinkin’.’
‘There wan’t nothin’ saved, I s’pose.’
‘Next door to nothin’; one washtub, I believe, and the old gray horse that was out to pasture, that’s about all; I did hear, though, something about the men-folks’ having saved a blue-chintz sofy—’twas the only thing they42 could get out of the house before the roof fell in; they couldn’t seem to get a holt of anythin’ else, ’twas so hot, and the old house burnt like tinder; Hannah she was that scairt she seemed dazed, and this mornin’ Miss Fife, she that married Ben Fife down on the Edge farm, at the foot of the hill, they took ’em in and did for ’em; and when Lucindy Fife went to call ’em to breakfast at five o’clock, there was Maria cryin’ like a baby, and Hannah lyin’, like an image, with her eyes starin’ wide open; she must a had a shock in the night.’
‘Fur the land’s sake!’ said the other woman again.
‘Yes, and Miss Fife she tried to get Maria to eat somethin’, but she wouldn’t eat a thing; she just sat and cried; you know she was always sort of a shadder to Hannah, and now she’s just like a baby.’
‘I declair! I believe I’ll go up to Miss43 Fife’s; I hate to lose the time, I ought to stir butter to-day; but just as likely as not lots of folks’ll drop in, and I sort of want to hear it all at first hand.’
‘I believe you’re right, and if you’ll set a while, I’ll hurry up these doughnuts and be ready in no time; it’s a sort of lonesome walk up there.’
The Widder Luke turned the light side of a doughnut under, the fat sizzled, and Jane Peebles said: ‘Did you hear what sofy ’twas that they saved?’
‘I don’t rightly know myself which one ’twas. Miss Culver she said it was the blue chintz one, but I don’t recollect as they had no blue sofy; I don’t seem to know exactly what they did have. Hannah never was just the same to me after we had that tiff over the raspberry jam she and I made for the church sale; but I aint goin’ to bring that up agin44 her, now she’s laid low; I shall go up there just the same in their time of trouble.’
‘I s’pose the sofy must have been a new one, or they wouldn’t have been so keen to save it.’
‘I guess ’twas;—seems as if these doughnuts wouldn’t never brown; it’s always so when you’re in a hurry.’
‘I guess I’ll ask Maria about that sofy,’ said Jane; ‘it’s likely that she’ll tell all she knows when she gets used to the situation; I always thought Maria was a sight nicer than she seemed. I know once she came near tellin’ me how they made that soft soap, that special kind you know, so white, and it keeps like jell, year after year; ’twas at a sewin’-bee, and Maria she warmed up and was just goin’ to tell me, when Hannah she came in, and Maria she shet up as quick as anythin’. It was sort of curious how she knuckled down45 to Hannah. Did you ever think Hannah was sort of set?’ added Jane, in a low, mysterious tone.
‘Hannah set! She was sotter’n a meetin’-house, and you know it, Jane Peebles, for all you sided with her about that raspberry jam.’
Widder Luke’s eyes flashed as she lifted the kettle of hot fat. She got in a good stroke on an old score, and Jane did not dare to retort. Soon after twelve she and Jane Peebles were walking through the lane towards the Fifes’—there was a Sunday air about their dresses, but a Monday decision in their faces; the reporting in hill towns is done mostly by such volunteers, and one must ‘git up airly’ for the first news.
Widder Luke carried a plate of doughnuts as a neighborly tribute to the occasion.
At the Corners the women paused a moment; they could see from where they stood46 the black skeleton of the burned barn silhouetted against the sky, beyond ‘Huckleberry Hill.’
Just then Si Briggs came along in his spring wagon, with two strange ladies on the back seat. They took the right-hand road that led to the old Keys place, and as they passed, Mr. Briggs drew his reins with an osh-sh-sh to his horse.
‘Won’t you get in and ride up the hill?’
Widder Luke and Miss Peebles decorously hesitated a moment, and then climbed over the wheel and sat on either side of Mr. Briggs, who settled himself leisurely between the two women with neighborly familiarity. Then pointing backward with the butt-end of his whip to indicate and introduce his passengers, he said: ‘These ladies were pretty well disappointed to find the Keys house burnt up;47 they come all the way from—where did you say ’twas you come from?’
‘We came down from the Adirondacks,’ said Rita. ‘We wanted to call on Miss Hannah and Maria, and if possible to get a sketch of the house, to paint a picture of it.’
‘You don’t say so! well I declair for it, it’s too bad!’ said the Widder Luke; ‘but there’s sights of houses older’n that one you might paint; there’s the Fife house, where they are stoppin’ now; that’s as old agin and more tumble-down, if that’s what you want. I read a piece in the “Greentown Gazette” about artists; it said they always took the worst-lookin’ houses to paint, though it does seem queer to me.’
‘Did you know the Keys house very well, and can you tell us how the rooms were built?’
‘Why, certain!’ said Mr. Briggs. ‘I’ve48 been in it a hundred times if I have once.’
Rita and Nan bent forward to listen; the horse jogged slowly up the hill, Mr. Briggs flicking his whip from side to side to encourage the steady walk.
‘There was a hall a-runnin’ right through the middle, from front to back—an awful waste of space to my thinkin’; when my brother Joel built his house he sot out to have just such a hall, and I said to him, sez I: “While you’re about it why don’t you build a house, or else build a hall and let it out for dancin’?” Joel was dead set agin dancin’ and it kind of stuck in his mind, so he built his’n without any hall; you jest step right out of doors into the settin’-room; it’s nice in summer, but a leetle cold in winter.’
‘Yes, I should think it might be. What were the other rooms in the Keys house?’
‘Wall, there was the family settin’-room,49 on the right-hand side of the hall, and back of that the bed-room for the old folks; Hannah she’s slep’ there for some years now; on the north side there was the keepin’-room, and back of that the dinin’-room, though I’ll be blessed if I know why it wasn’t a kitchen, that is, if a kitchen is where folks cook. Them Keyses, way back to Jonathan Keys, was always folks for high-flyin’ names, ’specially Hannah.’
‘Was that all the rooms there were in the lower part?’
‘Pretty much all, except a shed they used for a kitchen in old times.’
‘Wasn’t there a little room between the front and back rooms on the north side?’ asked Nan, a little hesitatingly, while Rita gave her a pinch of excitement.
‘I don’no’ as there was,’ said Mr. Briggs.
Jane Peebles spoke up:
50 ‘I believe there was some sort of a room there. I remember once Maria said she kept that north door a leetle crack open in fly-time, and it did seem to rid the little room of flies considerble.’
‘I don’t recollect,’ said Mr. Briggs, ‘as there was a door on the north side, but I aint sure; them pine-trees was so dark and the rose-bushes so thick; I can’t remember as I’ve been round there lately; it didn’t seem any special place to go to.’
‘Well!’ said Jane Peebles, decisively, ‘I guess there aint nobody in Titusville that knows any more about that house than I do, unless it’s the Keyses themselves; and I know there was a little room.’
‘Now Jane!’ said Widder Luke (Jane wilted a little); ‘if there was a little room there, where was the door to it—on the inside51 I mean? I guess I haven’t been to the Baptist Sewing Circle for forty years for nothin’, and the Keyses have had it once every year, in January; and I venture to say I’ve set and sewed in that front room scores of times, and the only door in the front room was the door into the china-closet, except, of course, the door into the hall-way; and as to the dinin’-room, as they called it’ (Si Briggs was a widower, and this was a subtle compliment to him), ‘there wan’t no door at all on that side of the room, just blank wall, with them black pictures of the family done in ink, under glass. I always was struck with that one of Jonathan Keys, it did look exactly like Hannah—just so set and stubborn about the mouth. Poor Hannah, she has had her day though. I have often heard my mother say that Hannah was the prettiest girl in Titusville when she was52 sixteen, though she was always that stiff. She was sixteen just before she went down to Salem.’
Here was an opening, and Nan plunged in.
‘I heard something about that: didn’t she meet an old sea-captain down there and come near marrying him?’
‘I don’t know how near she came to marrying him, I know he never came to Titusville. Now I wonder how you ever came to hear that old story; it seems a hundred years ago since my mother told me.’
‘Here we be!’ called out Mr. Briggs, as he stopped his horse with the soothing down-east osh-sh-sh.
Beyond them yawned the black pit where the cellar of the Keys house had been; the ashes still guarded the mystery of the Little Room.
‘My! but don’t it look mournful!’ ejaculated53 Widder Luke, and then she continued: ‘My mother said ’twas rumored round Titusville that Hannah had caught a beau down to Salem. Of course that made a stir and folks wanted to know all the particulars, but all they could find out by hook or by crook was that ’twas a sea-captain, and that he was after his third wife, having buried his two others, and that he had asked Hannah to marry him; he gave her lots of heathenish stuff that he had brought from India for his first wife. They couldn’t seem to find out much more than that, when suddenly Hannah came home, without any warnin’; she brought an extry trunk back with her, but she did look dreadful peakid; she was sort of pale, and her eyes had a look just like her Grandfather Keys’; she hadn’t never looked like any of the Keyses before. She didn’t let on that anything had happened, and she went everywhere just the same, and nobody54 knew what she had brought home in that extry trunk, till one day, when the family had all gone to meetin’, Nancy Stack—she was Hannah’s mother’s sister—she went and peeked in the trunk and she saw a lot of trash, sea-shells and queer sorts of calico; but just as she went to lift the tray to see what else there was, she heard the folks comin’, so she shut it up quicker’n lightnin’; ’twas a snap-lock and her apron got caught; she couldn’t take time to open it, so she just tore off a piece of the hem to get away, meanin’ to go and get the scrap out some other time; but Hannah must have been in the habit of goin’ to that trunk, and before night she found the checked gingham caught in the lid, and Nancy Stark she left very sudden that afternoon and didn’t never set foot in the house again. It’s queer how it all comes back to me. I s’pose it’s55 seein’ the house gone and knowin’ how Hannah was took last night.’
‘Oh, do tell us more,’ said Rita, breathlessly. ‘We know Mrs. Grant, their niece, and it is all so interesting.’
‘Wall, folks is generally interested in what they are interested in, but I don’t know that there’s much more to tell. The captain he never turned up to get his third wife. Nancy Stark she died, and Hannah and Maria here always lived up there alone since the old folks died, and a pretty lonesome spot it was, to be sure.’
‘Did anybody ever dare to ask Miss Hannah about the captain?’
‘No, I guess not; folks up here mind their own business pretty much.’
There was a silence after this rebuke; but Nan, who always began to hold on when other people let go, said:
56 ‘I heard once that they had some beautiful china in the china-closet, some that had belonged to their grandmother.’
Nobody volunteered any remark about this. Mr. Briggs had got out and was poking round with a stick in the ashes.
‘Did you ever see the china?’
‘I did’ said Jane Peebles, ‘sights of times.’
‘What kind was it?’
‘Oh, just blue willer pattern,—but there was sights of it.’
‘Then they didn’t have any other kind, white with a gilt edge, for instance?’
‘Wall, up here, blue willer, if it’s the real old kind, is considered good ’nough for most folks.’
‘Why, of course; I only wish I had any half so nice,’ said Rita, politely.
‘Be you a chaney collector?’ asked Widder Luke, with a defiant note.
57 ‘Not at all, oh no; but I do wish we could find out whether they ever did have a gilt-edged set.’
‘Sakes alive! if you really want to know particular, I shouldn’t make any bones myself about asking Maria. I should like her to know I don’t bear any grudge against ’em, though we did have a fallin’-out about that jam, Hannah and me, come ten years ago next August. I shouldn’t mind showin’ I had friendly interest in them—now, they’re in trouble.’
The ruins of the old house looked small and insignificant in the broad sunshine. The poplars were shrivelled by the fire, and the thicket of roses was blackened and trampled; it was as dehumanized as if no one had lived there for a century.
Mr. Briggs came back to the wagon and said, briskly:
58 ‘Wall! where’ll you go next?’
Rita and Nan hesitated; then Rita said:
‘Do you suppose Miss Maria would like to see us? We met her niece just before she sailed for Europe. She asked us to call and give her aunts some messages, but if you think they are too much broken down by the fire and all—’
‘Oh, no; it will do Maria good—it’s no use cryin’ over spilt milk, or burnt houses for that matter, and I guess you could look at Hannah too; she can’t speak, I hear it said, but she lies right in the bed off of the livin’-room, and most everybody goes in to look at her.’
‘The theatre is nowhere,’ whispered Nan to Rita; ‘but isn’t it ghastly!’
Miss Maria sat in state in the front room at the Fifes’; her black dress, borrowed from a neighbor, was large for even her plump figure,59 and it had a tendency to make her look as if she had been ill for a long time and had grown thin; her face was pale with the recent excitement, and wore the air of one who was waiting; she sat quite erect in the rocking-chair, with her plump hands folded on her lap; there was an appealing look in her eyes—she missed Hannah; there was no one to give her a pattern for thought or act. Neighbors passed in and out, and there was something so passive in Maria’s look that they talked of her freely as she as if she were not there. There was plenty of sympathy for her, but it was swept out of sight by the tide of curiosity and detail,—how the house had caught fire; who had seen it first; how Hannah slept so heavily she could not be roused for a long time; how it happened that the well was so low; how the pump-handle broke; how the men tried to save something, but how little had been got60 out! and then, ‘how bad Hannah looks,’ and how old Simeon Bissell lived ten years after his stroke, and Hannah was younger than he, and the Keyses were a long-lived family.
They passed in and out of Hannah’s room, Lucinda Fife asking each new-comer to ‘just step in and look at Hannah!’
Borne along by their sympathy and curiosity, Rita and Nan went in and looked on poor Hannah, stiff and uncompromising as of old, lying in her unwonted bed. She eyed them with her impenetrable gray gaze, and it was evident that the mystery of the Little Room would never be revealed by her, even if one could be bold enough to storm that granite citadel. They talked with Maria. She heard the messages from her niece in gentle silence. Rita took her passive hand and tried to tell her how they sympathized with her in her troubles, and to explain how it was they had61 happened to come at this time, but it evidently did not get below the surface of Maria’s consciousness. She seemed most taken with Nan, however, and to like to have her near her. Just before they left her, Rita ventured to ask if any of their gilt-edged china was saved.
‘No, I guess not,’ said Maria.
‘Did they save the blue-chintz sofa?’ impetuously asked Nan.
‘No, I didn’t hear as they did.’
‘You did have a gilt-edged china set, didn’t you?’ said Nan.
‘And a blue sofa?’ persuaded Rita.
‘I don’t seem to remember anything much,’ said Maria, with an appealing glance towards the room where Hannah lay. It would be barbarity to press her further just then.
Rita and Nan went away—not to the Adirondacks, however, but to spend a few days with Jane Peebles, who gladly acceded to62 their petition to be boarded there for a time.
‘Miss Peebles, where is that man Hiram who always lived at the Keys’?’ asked Rita, as Jane helped them to apple-sauce and ginger-bread at supper.
‘Hiram? I guess he’s pretty well tuckered out, what with the fire and Hannah’s stroke; he come over here this mornin’ and wanted a piece of my huckleberry pie; he said he couldn’t seem to relish any other food; he always did set a great store by my pie; it wan’t any better than what Hannah made, so fer as I could see, but he always ’lotted on havin’ the corner-piece when he brought me eggs from the farm.’
Miss Jane’s secret was not so hard to discover as was the secret of the Little Room.
‘I would like to talk with Hiram,’ said Nan.
‘Oh, Hiram he’ll talk till doomsday, once63 set him goin’, and say pretty smart things too, for a man.’
‘Hiram, can’t you tell us something about the old house?’ asked Nan the next morning, as Hiram rose from the kitchen table where he had been taking the solace of a corner-piece of Jane’s huckleberry pie.
‘That depends,’ said Hiram, ‘upon what you want to know. I s’pose I can tell as much as anybody.’
‘What we really want to know,’ said Rita, candidly, ‘is whether there was a closet or a little room on the north side of the Keys house, between the front and the back rooms.’
Hiram rubbed his ear carefully and began in a judicial way:
‘When Jonathan Keys first built that house, some time way back in 1700, he planned to have—’
64 ‘Jane Peebles! Jane Peebles! you’re wanted right off, up to the Fifes’, and Hiram too; Hannah she’s took worse, and Maria she’s no more use than a babe unborn. I’m on my way up there now,’ concluded the Widder Luke, as she hurried up the hill.
When Rita and Nan went to say good-bye to Maria, a few days later, Maria clung to them. She had begun to like these new friends who had taken it upon themselves to try and do for her what Mrs. Grant would have done had she been there. She followed them to the door, and said, in a whisper:
‘I asked Hannah, only the day before her last shock, whether she did have any gilt-edged china, and she sort of nodded. Then I asked her if we had a blue sofy, and she nodded again; but come to think it over by myself, I don’t think it really meant anything, because you know Hannah couldn’t do anything else65 but nod after she had that first stroke; she couldn’t shake her head; but I thought I would tell you, you have been so kind and you seemed so interested.’
Out on the stone wall at the Corners Nan and Rita sat and laughed and cried; the tragedy and the comedy appealed to them, and not even when Nan said, as they walked down to Jane Peebles’ house, ‘All the same, I saw the Little Room,’ and Rita said, ‘I saw the china-closet,’ did they feel any bitterness.
‘Good-bye,’ said Hiram; ‘I’m real glad you came, and I want you to tell Miss Grant, when you write to her, that Hiram—she’ll remember Hiram fast enough—Hiram is going to marry Jane Peebles, and that Maria shan’t never want for a home so long as Jane can make huckleberry pies.’
‘Oh, we are so glad; and you will send us a piece of wedding-cake, won’t you?’
66 ‘I shouldn’t wonder,’ said Hiram.
‘Won’t you please tell us what you started to that time when Miss Hannah was taken worse so suddenly? we do so want to know whether there was a room or a china-closet there on the north side.’
‘I do remember now that I started in to tell you that; it wan’t much anyhow, only when their Grandfather Keys built the house he boasted that he intended to build the entire house of timber that hadn’t a knot in it. He spent ten years a-gettin’ the timber ready, and when it was done he found that right in the front-room closet they had put a piece of board with a great knot in it. He was dreadful mad, but he kept it there all the same—on purpose, he said, to show folks it wan’t no use to set out to do anythin’ perfect in this world.’
‘Then there was a china-closet—’
67 ‘Wall, yes, there certainly was a closet there.’
‘Oh, Nan!’ said Rita, as the cars moved away from where Hiram stood, ‘he didn’t say exactly what kind of a closet even then.’
‘No; but we can write to Jane and ask her to answer our questions with just yes or no. When she is Mrs. Hiram (I wonder if he ever had a last name) she will get it out of him if we can only interest her.’
‘Jane,’ said Hiram that evening, ‘if you could manage to wash on Saturday, so as to have an off-day on Monday, I don’no but we might as well be married then as any other time. I should feel sort of easier in my mind if Maria came down to live with us before they think her room is better than her company up to the Fifes’, if Hannah should die.’
68 ‘That’s so, Hiram. I’ll hurry round and fix things, and you better stop to-night and tell Maria that I’ll be real glad to have her come and live with us; and Hiram, I’ve been thinking that if the men folks did save that blue-chintz sofy—’
‘Wait a minute, Jane, I sort of want to tell you somethin’; ’taint anythin’ I should want you to repeat, but it’s somethin’ that sort of troubles me some. You see, Miss Hannah she’s always been good to me, and I shouldn’t want to say anythin’ to set folks a-talkin’; but Miss Hannah haint been exactly well for some weeks, and only the day before the fire she came to me and she says she thought ’twas about time she put that old trunk full of duds, the one she’s always kept in her closet, out of the way, and she guessed she’d have me burn it up. I thought ’twas most a pity to destroy the trunk—it was a real good one, and hadn’t69 never seen no travel to speak of—and so I said I’d take the things out and burn ’em; that seemed to trouble her, and she was real short with me. She said I was no better than all the other folks, that I was pryin’ round to see what she kep’ in it. I sort of soothed her, and then she said she’d been pestered most to death by folks always askin’ her about some old blue chintz, and about a little room; and she guessed that if she could put that trunk out of sight, mebby folks would mind their own business and let her have some peace. So when Maria was out to the garden for some stuff for dinner, Miss Hannah she got me to help her carry the trunk out of her room and put it in the hall-closet; it wan’t no kind of a place to keep it, but I thought it was better to humor her a mite, seein’ she was out of sorts.
‘In the middle of the night,’ continued Hiram, dropping his voice and looking round70 to see that nobody was coming up the walk, ‘in the middle of the night I smelt smoke, and thought right off that the barn must be a-burnin’, but I couldn’t see no light; then I heard a sort of smothered noise, and I suspicioned right off what was the matter. I run to Maria’s room and found her stumblin’ round in the dark—her room bein’ full of smoke she was sort of confused—and there was a turrible glare out in the hall. We found Miss Hannah out there wringin’ her hands and callin’ out: “Oh, the trunk will be burnt up, the trunk will be burnt up!” We couldn’t coax her to go away, and it did seem as she’d burn up in her tracks if I hadn’t just took her and carried her out. By that time the house was all blazin’, and, though the folks began to come, it wan’t no use—it had to go. Hannah she was all dressed, and I don’t believe she had been to bed.’
71 ‘You don’t think she set the house afire, Hiram?’
‘No, not a-meanin’ to; but what I think is that she felt lonesome without that trunk, and so she went down to the hall-closet when she thought we was asleep, and either she dropped her candle or else the things that hung in the closet caught fire, and she didn’t see it till ’t was too late, and then she was so fearful that the trunk would burn she wouldn’t go away.’
‘What was in the trunk?’
Hiram shuffled from one foot to the other, then hesitated a little, and said:
‘Jane, I’ve been comin’ to see you a good many years, most ever since we was young, and yet we haint never exactly spoke of gittin’ married till lately; but they aint so slow down in the city, and I guess Hannah sort of expected to git married to that sea-captain down to Salem. Anyways, whatever she kept in that72 trunk it came from Salem, and I guess ’twas some stuff he gave her.’
‘You don’t say so, all these years!’
In Paris, Mrs. Grant, with her husband, sat over the breakfast coffee in their little parlor in the Hotel St. Romain. The window opened on the balcony overhanging the Rue St. Roch. From the narrow street below floated the cry, ‘Les moules, les moules?’ mingled with the clap, clap of the horses’ hoofs on the asphalt below. The concierge sang as he swept the sidewalk before the door, and the newsboys cried, with their plaintive intonation, ‘Le Figaro, Le Figaro! Le P’tit Journal!’
‘Roger,’ said Mrs. Grant, ‘I had such a curious dream last night. I suppose I must have been asleep, but I seemed to be awake, when suddenly I saw Aunt Hannah standing at the foot of my bed, just between the two73 posts. She stood quite still, and her eyes were fixed on me with her peculiar expression of reserve, but also as if she had an intense desire to speak. I was just going to cry out, “Why, Aunt Hannah, is that you?” when suddenly I felt very passive, and as if a change was going on. The curtains of my bed moved back slowly, and I was again in that mysterious little room. I seemed to see either myself or my mother, I could not tell which it was, as a little girl, lying on the sofa; it was that same blue-chintz sofa I told you about; everything in the room was exactly as I remember seeing it when I was a child, even to the shell and the book on the shelf.
‘I can’t express to you how it was that I saw the little girl lying there; it was as if my mind was compelled by some other mind to see the little girl and the little room; and all the time I did not know whether it was my74 mother or myself as a child that I was looking at, and I could feel all the time my Aunt Hannah’s gray eyes, though I could not see her while the vision of the little room lasted.
‘It was some minutes before the scene began to fade, and it did so very gradually, just as it came: first, the roses and blue morning-glories on the paper began to waver and grow indistinct; then one object after another trembled and faded. It was exactly as if something outside of myself compelled me to see these things; and then, as the pressure of that other will was removed, the impression gradually disappeared. The last to go was the figure of the little girl, but she too faded; the bed-curtains seemed to evolve out of the walls of the room, and I was lying on my bed; but Aunt Hannah still stood between the foot-posts, with her eyes fixed on mine. Then came the impression that she could not speak,75 but that she wanted to convey some thought to me; and then these words came to me—not as if a voice spoke them, but as if they were being printed on my mind or consciousness:
‘“Margaret, you must not worry any more about the Little Room, it has no connection with you or your mother, and it never had any: it all belongs to me. I am sorry that my secret ever troubled anyone else; I tried to keep it to myself, but sometimes it would get out. There’ll never be any Little Room to trouble anybody else any more.”
‘All the time I was hearing these words I felt Aunt Hannah’s eyes; and then she began to move backward, slowly, and she seemed to vanish down a long, long distance, till I lost sight of her. The last thing I saw was her gray eyes fastened on my face. I awoke, and found myself sitting up, with my head bent76 forward, looking right between the foot-posts of the bed.’
‘Your Aunt Hannah seems to be more fond of travelling than she used to be. Paris is further from Titusville than Brooklyn,’ said Mr. Grant, lightly.
‘Oh, don’t, Roger, don’t! I think Aunt Hannah must be dead.’
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