Page images
PDF
EPUB

The market women wore their usual short clothes, and sat on high, hard saddles, covered with thick woollen cloths, which fell down over the horses. One of the women carried a large washing-tub on her knees, and a bag was tied to her crupper. The other had slung a bag of meal behind her, and carried two hoes crossed in front.

The horses kicked up such a dust on the frozen road, and the women looked so exactly like two feather beds, that Patty felt as if she. could not care much about them. Pretty soon, however, Tony turned off the road to water his horses at a beautiful brook. The women heard the wheels of the carriage crush the thin ice that had gathered among the pebbles, and turned half round.

Then Patty caught a glimpse of their jolly, good-humored faces, and loved them at once. Where had they been all through the war? It seemed as if they could not look so comfortable, if they knew what had happened. Then Patty looked at the brook. It ran across the road, over bright pebbles, and deepened into a still basin under some trees. The trunk of an old tree lay across it like a mossy bridge.

"Patty,” said mamma, "when I went over this road, twenty years ago, there were a dozen little white boys bathing in this brook. They jumped up and down in the hot June air, and were as happy as so many fishes.”

Patty laughed. As Tony drove on, they passed a good many brooks, and the round stones over which the water flowed made the horse slip

" Mamma,” said Patty, without stopping to think, "we don't have brooks like these at home;” and when Patty said "at home," she meant in Boston.

"You would not mind them at home,” said Mrs. Gray, smiling, " for they would be bridged

Here you drive right through them.” It was a very pretty road. Every now and then the trees opened, and they could see the river, or catch a distant view of Alexandria. Mamma showed Patty shady spots under the trees, where lovely wild flowers grow in summer; and when they had gone over a little bit of rough road, and been shaken almost to death, they drove into a real forest.

What sort of a road is that?” said Patty, as soon as she could speak.

over.

" That's corduroy,” said Tony.

"And corduroy,” said Mrs. Gray, laughing at Patty's worried look, "is a road made of logs laid across the path, and looking a little like the coarse cloth they call by the same name. This is the very place that was so full of locusts in that hot summer day. Don't you remember, Patty, that I told you a carriage full of ladies called out to us, when we had caught one, and begged us to tell them if it said Peace or War?”

" What did that mean?” said Patty. It seemed as if she had forgotten her mother's story.

" These locusts, that are thought to come only once in seventeen years,” said her mother, " have very large wings, and the stout membranes that support them make a clear W on the creature's back. Superstitious people think that means that the country will have war, and they are always looking for a P. They think that would mean peace.”

'Was there ever a P?” said Patty.

"No," said her mother, "I think not. There could not be, unless there were a locust made

on a new pattern. But, oh! what a noise they did make, Patty, that hot day! The earth was full of the grubs, and the hogs were rooting them up all through the woods. As soon as the grubs come up out of the ground, they split down the back and the flies come out. The little transparent jackets were left hanging on the leaves all the way. It seemed as if the locusts had had a big wash, and left it out to

dry!

non.

Although Tony had a pretty good horse, they were nearly two hours in getting to Mount Ver

The road to Winchester passes behind the house and grounds, for Washington's lawn stretched down to the river. I think Patty was a good deal disappointed when Tony stopped and waited for some one to open the gate.

There were two lodges — little ten-foot houses - covered with plaster, that had once been yellow washed. The roof of each of them was rather steep, and there was something like a pineapple on the top. But what troubled Patty was the dreary look of the ruined houses. There had never been more than a single door and window to each of them. The window

seemed to have been closed, in its best days, by a wooden shutter, and the chimney was built outside the house. It was the first time little Patty had seen a chimney built in such a fashion.

" Mamma,” said she, "what do they do it for?”

" I suppose to keep the house cool,” said Mrs. Gray. "It was always done in hot countries, and the fashion travelled North."

"Did Washington expect anybody to live in there?” said Patty.

"Some of the freed people are there now," said Tony, as a little child came out and opened the gate : "and very glad they are to get there; the chimney's better than any they can build.”

"And you must remember, Patty,” said Mrs. Gray, " that at first all the grand houses, but Mount Vernon itself, had chimneys on the outside. I have heard it said that the Virginia people were very much astonished when Laurence Washington built the first house and shut in the chimneys."

Nobody but slaves could live there,” said

« PreviousContinue »