Copyright, 1895, by Harper A Brothers. All Rights Reserved.
||NEW YORK, TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 1895.
||FIVE CENTS A COPY.
|VOL. XVI.—NO. 830.
||TWO DOLLARS A YEAR.
AN OWN RELATION.
BY SOPHIE SWETT.
The country-week girl came up the lane with her head in the air, so Gideon, who was watching her from the crotch in the old sweet-apple tree, afterwards remarked to little Adoniram.
After some hesitation Gideon dropped down at her feet. Aunt Esther had especially enjoined it upon him to be kind to the country-week girl. Aunt Esther would remember that he used to get under the bed when a girl came to see Phemie; but that was when he was small.
"Is this Sweet Apple Hill? Be you Trueworthys?" demanded the girl, looking critically at Gideon.
"Yes, 'm," said Gideon, and then reddened and scorned himself because he had been overpolite. But the girl was tall for fourteen—"Grazella Hickins, aged fourteen," the letter from the Country-week Committee had read—and she wore a wide sash and a scarlet feather in her hat and carried a pink parasol.
Phemie, who came around the corner of the house just then, saw at a glance that the finery was shabby, but Gideon thought that Grazella Hickins was very stylish.
Grazella dropped her bundle upon the grass opposite the front gate and seated herself upon it, meditatively. She did not arise from it as Phemie opened the gate, but she surveyed her with an air of friendly criticism; Phemie was fourteen too.
"I like your looks real well," she remarked at length, with a trifle of condescension. Her glance sought Gideon and little Adoniram, who peeped from behind the friendly shelter of the big black-currant bush. "I think boys are kind of—middling," she added. It was evident that a more severe adjective than this had been withheld only from motives of politeness. "I've got an own relation, though, that's an awful nice boy—awful smart too; you never know what he's going to do next."
Little Adoniram pricked up his ears; Aunt Esther had been known to say that of him without meaning to be complimentary. City standards of behavior seemed to be cheerfully different from those of Bayberry Corner.
"I wouldn't have said a word if Jicksy could have come too," continued Grazella, and her snapping black eyes slowly filled with tears. "A cousin is a real comfort."
"Do you mean that you didn't want to come?" asked Phemie, in a disappointed tone.
"I'm in the newspaper business; 'twas kind of risky to leave it; there's so many pushin' in. But they don't want me to home; mother she's married again, and he don't like me. Jicksy is all I've got that's really my own. If he could have come too—"
She swallowed a lump in her throat with determination, and raised her eyes to the old sweet apple-tree whose fruit was yellowing in the August sunshine.
"Are them apples?" she asked. "They ain't near so shiny and handsome as Judy Magrath keeps on her stand; Judy shines 'em with her apron. I never was in the country before, and I don't know as I'm going to like it. But I'm run down, they say, and I've got a holler cough, so I had to come."
Phemie had almost begun to wish that they had not taken a country-week girl; but now she noticed, suddenly, the meagreness of the tall form, and the deep hollows under the snapping black eyes, and repented. It was proverbial that people grew plump and strong on Sweet Apple Hill.
Aunt Esther came out, and the girl's manner softened under the influence of her tactful kindness. She seemed to like Grandpa Trueworthy too; she said she had a grandpa once, and 'twas the most she ever did have that was like other folks.
But, after all, it was she and Gideon who seemed most congenial. Gideon explained, with a gravely approving wag of the head, that she was "business." Gideon flattered himself that he had abilities in that line, and he was cultivating them diligently. He had not expected to get any hints from a girl; but the country-week girl was assistant at a newspaper stand, and she also "tended" for Judy Magrath when Judy, as she explained with sad and