BY ALICE BROWN
WITH A FRONTISPIECE
By W. W. CHURCHILL, Jr.
GROSSET & DUNLAP
COPYRIGHT 1907 AND 1908 BY ALICE BROWN
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Published April 1908
Madam Fulton and her granddaughter Electra were sitting at the breakfast-table. It was a warm yet inspiriting day in early spring, and, if the feel and look of it were not enough, the garden under the dining-room windows told the season's hour like a floral clock. The earliest blossoms had been pushed onward by the mounting spirit of the year, and now the firstlings of May were budding. The great Georgian house, set in the heart of this processional bloom, showed the mellow tints of time. It had an abundant acreage, diversified, at first hand, not only by this terraced garden in the rear, but by another gone to wild abandon on the west, and an orchard stretching away into level fields and, beyond them, groves of pine.
These dining-room windows, three of them, side by side, and now unshaded, gave large outlook on a beautiful and busy world where the terrace mounted in green, to be painted later with red peony balls, and where the eye, still traveling, rested in satisfaction on the fringe of locusts at the top.
Inside the house the sense of beauty could be fully fed. Here was a sweet consistency, the sacred past in untouched being, that time when furniture was made in England, and china was the product of long voyages and solemn hoarding in corner cabinets with diamond panes. Life here was reflected dimly from polished surfaces and serenely accentuated by quaint carvings and spindle legs. Here was "atmosphere"—the theatre of simple and austere content.
Madam Fulton outwardly fitted her background as a shepherdess fits a fan. She was a sprite of an old lady, slender and round, and finished in every movement, with the precision of those who have "learned the steps" in dancing of another period. It was her joy that she had kept her figure, her commonplace that, having it, she knew what to do with it. She had a piquant profile, dark eyes, and curls whiter than white, sifted over with the lustre of a living silver. According to her custom, she wore light gray, and there was lace about her wrists and throat.
"Coffee, Electra?" she suddenly proposed, in a contralto voice that still had warmth in it. She put the question impatiently, as if her hidden self and that of the girl