Page:Female Prose Writers of America.djvu/298

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MARIA J. B. BROWNE.

cled him, and bounded his desires, and the almost irresistible attractions of his pleasant labour, would have won him back from his illusion, and left him a quiet, useful, and valuable citizen.

These arrangements were very suddenly got up, and of course must be executed while at a fever heat, or they would be likely to fail, as Mr. Skates, though his neighbours had never called him “shifty-minded” before, might possibly sicken of the prospective change, and overturn the whole just on the very eve of accomplishment. When Katy was so near the enchanted circle, it would be death to be obliged to withdraw. Sophronia considerately protracted her stay a week longer than she had at first meditated, to mind the children, and do some “light chores,” to facilitate the preparations which Mr. and Mrs. Skates were so busy and so animated in making. And when the “things” were nearly all removed from their places, and packed away into the chambers, and all the rooms began to look stripped and melancholy, and there began to be gloomy and ill-omened echoes shooting through the unfurnished apartments—echoes that would croak of desolation, and would sometimes strike like a knell on James’s simple heart in spite of himself—in spite of the bustling and gleefulness of his triumphant little wife—in spite of the glare of Cousin Sophronia’s fancy paintings, which she took care to hold up before him to the very last moment of her tarrying,—when matters were in such a train, and she had given the unsophisticated aspirants all necessary directions, quite a catalogue, by the way, Cousin Sophronia took her departure, and in a few days Mr. and Mrs. Skates were ready to follow.

Mrs. Skates was happy as a queen when they were all seated in the cars going to the city—the city at last!—and when the coach drew up before the splendid entrance of a great castle-like hotel, and the servants came out and overwhelmed them with attentions and services, and conducted them in as if they were indeed the Hon. Captain Somebody and lady, she was quite bewildered with excitement and triumph. “Let my neighbours sneer now if they will,” thought Katy, as she tossed her vain little head, and sat down with a mixture of confusion, diffidence, and complacency, in the