Cousin Angeline

Uncle Job’s departure made me very unhappy, and when I could no longer see a trace of the boat that carried him away, my heart grew sick and tears started in my eyes at the thought of my abandoned state. Cousin Rolland, however, scarce giving me time to breathe, took me here and there about the little town, keeping up the while such a flow of small talk that in a little while I found myself joining with the greatest heartiness in all he said and did. When it was time for luncheon we went to his home, but not directly, for making some excuse, he left me a little way off, going on alone. This I thought very proper, I being a stranger to his wife and the circumstances of my coming peculiar. When, however, he did not return for an hour or more, I became uneasy, and some further time elapsing, was filled with fear, not being able to understand the cause of his prolonged absence. At last, to my great relief, he returned, and without explaining anything, began anew to assure me of the delight with which Cousin Angeline entered into our plans and the desire she had to know her young kinsman. Thus relieved of any anxiety, for I was never of a suspicious disposition, I went on with him to his home in the greatest possible ease of mind. Nothing in Cousin Angeline’s manner tended to disturb this feeling when I was presented to her. Nor afterward, indeed, at luncheon, for she was, on occasion and when that way inclined, a woman of more than ordinary tact and dignity. Much younger than Cousin Rolland, she lacked his rosiness of color and fullness of figure, he being very red and plump of build, while she was tall and of somewhat meager frame. Her eyes, if I may attempt to tell you how she looked, were a light blue, and save when at times tinged with a steeliness as of ice, were rather attractive than otherwise. Her mouth I thought remarkable for its great firmness, for her lips offered no more resistance to the eye than the edge of a knife-blade. Her nose, too, was noticeable, being finely formed and in all things perfect, until at last, approaching the end, the material giving out, or something else happening, what remained had been squeezed into a point somewhat too sharp for comeliness, and so left. However, I did not observe these things at the time, or if I did, only vaguely, being young and generally ignorant in respect to the importance of such matters in our daily life.
The luncheon was light, but every way fit for abstemious people, though much unlike what I had been used to at Wild Plum, where there was profusion verging on waste in all such things. However, being hungry, I did not regard it particularly, but ate with great heartiness, paying little attention to what was going on about me. Once indeed, as the meal progressed, happening to glance in Cousin Angeline’s direction, I thought I detected some show of uneasiness at the inroads I was making on her bread and butter, but not believing such a thing possible, I gave it no further attention. Nothing of any account was said at the table, except that Cousin Angeline showed much curiosity concerning my old home, and particularly Aunt Jane and her attorney, Moth. This I thought very kind, and answered her inquiries with great fullness, being desirous above all things to please her. Seeing this, she smiled encouragingly, as if much admiring my amiability and frankness of speech.
After luncheon Cousin Rolland did not stop, but bidding me good by hurried away, and this abruptly, as if greatly pressed for time. Being thus left alone with Cousin Angeline, and she seeming to forget I was there, I presently went out to inspect the garden, some glimpses of which I had obtained from the window. Of gravel and cleanliness there was no end, but of flowers no great profusion or variety, and such as there were, I thought, had a stiff, aggressive look, as if challenging me to come near or touch them. Altogether they had the air of soldiers on duty, and because of too strict discipline or for some other good reason, had lost something of the glow and comfort of outdoor life. Of flowers, however, I had never as a youth taken much account, not being able to understand them, nor, indeed, make them thrive, as my mother could without thought. Because of this I was inclined to look on what I now saw as something out of my line, and therefore not to be lightly criticised. In this frame of mind I went on to where a mild-eyed cow stood watching me curiously, as cows will when strangers approach. Not having any morsel with which to tempt her palate, I stroked her face for a while, and then turned to the little colonies of chickens that busied themselves near by. These I saluted as old friends, being much inclined to their cheerful companionship, carried on as it always is with so much small talk and pleasurable excitement. Thus being once more in their company, I fell into an attitude of attention and interest, to which they at once responded by much clucking and diligent search after the small particles of food the yard contained. These old friends I came in time to know very well, and with great liking, because of their simple ways; but of their product, which I looked forward to with interest, as young people of good appetite will, only a small portion ever found its way to the table. The reason of this, as I learned at a later day, was that the greater part was put aside and converted by Cousin Angeline, with other small perquisites of the house, into a secret fund for her own particular behoof and divertisement. This properly enough. However, it did not come fully to light until after Cousin Rolland’s death, some years later, when the fund thus laid away came in the nick of time to enable her to live on in great contentment and ease of life. This until one day a clergyman of studious habits coming along and being desirous to marry, yet not having the time to examine the goods he was getting, or being ignorant in respect to such matters, he took her out of hand, as Cousin Rolland had done before him. However, these things being then unknown, as I say, I confidently looked forward to a plentiful supply of butter and eggs, as in the old time at Wild Plum, though mistakenly, as it appeared. When the scantiness of fare in this respect became apparent, I did not much regard it, I am bound to say, being always stout of appetite for such things as fell in my way, thinking little of what was lacking. Indeed, I had heard it said, and wisely, that we were ever inclined to eat more than was good for us. This saying was often on my Aunt Jane’s lips, and she, living up to her doctrine, was in everything healthy and well preserved. So that if sometimes on getting up from Cousin Angelina’s table I felt that I could have eaten more, remembering my aunt and her rugged health, I was fain to think it for the best. Such reflections of the young, however apt, are more natural to mature folk, being seasoned in the latter case with a philosophy of life that the former lack. So that if abstinence is not always accepted by children with good grace, older people and relatives, however remote, should make allowance for the circumstance.
1On the evening of my arrival, tea was delayed by Cousin Rolland’s not coming at the time expected, and when he reached home I observed an unsteadiness of limb and height of voice that I had not noticed before. Cousin Angeline also remarked the change, and harshly, by a word that, out of respect for Cousin Rolland, I may not repeat. When the meal was over, and it was not such, I am bound to say, as to cause one to lay awake because of too much fullness, we sat about in great discomfort of mind, Cousin Rolland making pretense of reading and Cousin Angeline busying herself with some accounts that lay docketed in a precise way on her table. These, I learned later, had to do with the many charitable matters in which she was interested, and to their great and lasting good, so it was claimed. Her contributions toward work of this nature, however, were rather in the way of supervision and needed advice than in the giving of more tangible things. In new and unorganized societies such duties, she was often at pains to point out, were much more necessary and difficult of procurement than the mere giving of money. Nevertheless, in accepting offices requiring this disparity of service she did so without jealousy or protest, her desire to help, she would say, leading her to act with cheerful zeal, leaving the lesser labor of providing funds and supplies to those competent in that direction.
When it was time to retire for the night, Cousin Angeline made much of the cozy nook she had arranged for me, and indeed it quite exceeded anything of the kind I had ever seen. The couch, which answered for both bed and lounge, was put to one side of the kitchen, and so deftly that lying down my feet just missed the stove at one end, while my head barely escaped contact with the cupboard at the other. Upon trial I found the bed hard and the clothing scant, but it being summer this last I thought not worth noticing. Cousin Rolland, who had by this time regained his former composure, eyed the bed with great disfavor, but being in disgrace, did not venture further than to inquire why she had not given me a room, there being one unoccupied. To this Cousin Angeline replied by look rather than words, but on the whole giving out that it was unprepared, and in any event hardly suitable for such occupancy, being in the nature of a guest-chamber. As I made no remark, but began resolutely to take off my clothes, being tired with the day’s doings, nothing more was said on the subject. Bidding me good night, they went away, leaving me in darkness, save that, happily and as of good omen, plenty of light came from the full moon shining through the open window at my side. The bed, to my young and pliant bones, seemed at first not so hard, but later, the edge being taken off my weariness, I awoke to find it different; but never having set much store by such things when living in greater luxury of life, and being still tired, I turned my face to the wall, and was soon lost in sleep.
My life the first day was in no particular different throughout my stay with Cousin Angeline, except such slight change as going to Cousin Rolland’s office or loitering by the river, which latter ever drew me, by reason of its great and masterful ways. Unhappily for me, however, my habits, and more particularly my manners, not being suited to city life, soon attracted the attention and reproof of Cousin Angeline. In this connection, and that I might improve the faster, she cited as examples for me to study her orphaned nephews, Rudley and James, whose bringing-up she had supervised, and to whom she was in all things greatly attached. Her reference to these young gentlemen, whom I was destined never to see, were given, too, with much strength of utterance as time went on and the need of reproof became more and more apparent. For Cousin Angeline was not lacking in force of speech, as she was fond of saying, when good might be accomplished thereby. Her frequent reference to Rudley and James made them a source of anxiety to me at first, and later a cause of fear and shame, for however strenuously I sought to follow their example, I could never by any chance come near to them, even in the smallest particular of their lives. In the larger things my failure was more marked, but not without hopefulness at first. Thus, when Cousin Angeline told me it had never been necessary to bribe Rudley and James to read the Bible, and that even as children they loved to bury their faces in its sacred pages, I strove to become equally interested. So, too, in regard to keeping the Sabbath and absence of desire to amuse myself on that sacred day. To them, she was wont to say, the hum of the Sunday-school was like the music of the harps; and upright and alert, with attentive faces, no fragment of prayer or sermon ever escaped their hungry ears. Of texts they could repeat every one they had heard, down to the very last, but I, when questioned, could not for the life of me think of one. It thus fell out that the feet of Rudley and James, being fixed on solid ground, all else came easy. It was a second nature to them to be respectful and prompt at meals, sparing in the use of jam, and ever regardful of those about them. Nor could they tell a lie, or come to the table save with shining faces. NORFLOXACIN
Such, unfortunately for me, because of my shortcomings, were Rudley and James, in all things upright and without shred or raveling of any kind. When I came to know how perfect they were, I never through vanity sought to equal them in any great thing, but struggled only to pattern after them in smaller matters, but fruitlessly, as it turned out. Nor was I alone in these efforts, not indeed to achieve preferment, but bear equality in some immaterial thing. For Cousin Rolland came in with like scantiness of resource in comparison with Cousin Angeline’s dear father, who in every detail of life, so it appeared, was a model of sobriety and goodly thrift. These comparisons, however unpalatable, Cousin Rolland and I came in time to bear with patience; nay, to look forward to with equanimity, as one may become accustomed to any disquieting thing in life. Nor did we ever question anything she said, for Cousin Angeline was not a woman to argue with, much less to contradict in matters about which she had made up her mind. If, indeed, one were so foolish, she had a way of conjuring up something in her own experience that would utterly and forever upset all your arguments, however plausible they might appear. This trait, however, we often notice in good men and women that we know, and so I do wrong, perhaps, to speak of it as peculiar to her. DIFLOXACIN HCL
In all Cousin Angeline’s references to Rudley and James, the former, I came to remark, was ever named first. Whether this was because he was older or the more upright of life I never knew—or if I did, have forgotten.
Thus they passed, and to my good, I hope; but in the long years that have elapsed since that far-off time I have had, as you may suppose, many curious reflections regarding them; not, indeed, in the way of speculative desire for nearer acquaintance, but rather as to how they fell out in the end—whether they lived on to old age, looked up to and honored by the world, or relaxing because of too great strain, finally fell by the wayside in sheer contrariness of spirit, and so ended their lives in shame, and different from what might have been hoped. Of these details and others of interest I shall now never know, for the connecting-threads by which knowledge might have come to me were long since severed. Thus it has been that at the end of all my cogitations concerning them, I have ever been compelled, and to my great regret, to bid them a new and reluctant farewell.