The Project Gutenberg eBook, "Good-Morning, Rosamond!", by ConstanceLindsay Skinner, Illustrated by Thomas Fogarty
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Title: "Good-Morning, Rosamond!"
Author: Constance Lindsay Skinner
Release Date: June 2, 2018 [eBook #57254]
Character set encoding: UTF-8
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK "GOOD-MORNING, ROSAMOND!"***
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The Table of Contents wasadded by the Transcriber and placed into the Public Domain. Othernotes will be found at the end of this eBook.
Lulu Jones Downing
CONSTANCE LINDSAY SKINNER
Garden City New York
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
Copyright, 1917, by
Constance Lindsay Skinner
All rights reserved, including that of
translation into foreign languages,
including the Scandinavian
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
|“When one is to have perhaps only one wonderful day, decision how one shall spend any moment of it is important”||Coloured frontis.|
|(See page 24)|
|“Mrs. Lee sat in her rocker knitting. Her ball of yarn was flipping about the sward under the paws of a white kitten”||42|
|“Regarding each other and yielding to the charm of the sunset and the music, they did not observe a black-whiskered man who was crawling through the orchard”||154|
|“Rosamond saw a man who was presumably in his ‘middle thirties’—a strong, well-built man, with face and hands tanned by years of turning them, unprotected, toward all weathers”||234|
Négligés were unknown in Roseborough.Even at seven in the morning, which wasRosamond Mearely’s hour for greeting the new day,the ladies of Roseborough did not kimono: theydressed.
Young Rosamond Mearely might be—as indeedshe was—the richest and fairest woman in Roseborough,and the widow of a gentleman whose namethe hamlet and countryside mentioned still with thebated breath of pride; but she would no more havedared to appear at breakfast before her housemaids,the imposing Frigget sorority—Amanda, aged forty-nineyears “come Michelmas,” and Jemima, forty-sevenand three quarter years—in what they wouldhave pronounced (and condemned as) a “wrapper,”than she would wittingly have committed any otherirretrievable faux pas.
The mother of the Frigget sorority had guided thefirst adventures of the late, distinguished HibbertMearely about the by-ways of Trenton Waters, his4birthplace, in the infantile push-carts of his period—thatis to say, fifty-odd years before this morningwhen his young widow slipped a decorous print gown(lavender with black floral design) over her dainty,white roundness and the whalebone and batistearticle that confined it, and descended to her fourteenhundred and eightieth solitary breakfast. It wasfour years since Hibbert Mearely’s departure. Hisfaithful nurse was slowly preparing to follow him;she lay bedridden in Trenton Waters. Her twodaughters, who had been brought up to serve him,still dominated his household.
Rosamond saw them now, as the stairs circled tothe door of the large living room where summerbreakfasts were spread. They were tall, multi-bonedwomen with straight, thin, gray hair—drawnsheerly to a polka dot at the back, which one, or atmost two, hairpins controlled—and clad in skimpy,dark, cotton dresses, well starched and designed toreveal every puritan angle. They stood at oppositesides of a long, black table. The table was one ofHibbert Mearely’s antiques (a ticket attached to thefoot gave its date and history); its “early Seventeenth”carvings were hidden now by a cloth ofgleaming white damask bearing Mrs. Mearely’sbreakfast. Rosamond’s glance, by habit, travelledin a direct line between her female grenadiers to thewall where a life-size portrait, in oils, of the late5master depended. Outside the wide-open doors,the sunlight filtered through the overlacing trees andkindled the proud red of the dahlias to flame. Alittle breeze, vagrant and wilful, danced through thegarden and set all the leaves to clapping their hands.Rosamond sighed. She flitted through the doorwayand down the huge room, sedately, to her place.
“Good-mornin’, Mrs. Mearely, ma’am.”
“Good-mornin’, Mrs. Mearely, ma’am.”
“Good-morning, Amanda. Good-morning, Jemima.”
These salutations never varied. Rosamond spreadher old-fashioned damask napkin on her lap slowlywith a sense of apprehension. Amanda had her ownmanner of establishing an “atmosphere.” Out ofthe corner of her eye Rosamond perceived that shewas more unbending than usual this morning.
“I was a’most a-comin’ up to see if you’d bentook sick—it’s five after.” Amanda’s tone was dryand accusative.
“Is it? Perhaps I may have dawdled a little ... Imean,” hastily, “I think one of my lacesknotted.”
“Seven sharp was a’ways Mr. Hibbert Mearely’sbreakfast hour”—Jemima’s tone was impersonaland final—“as we’d oughter know that cooked andserved it to him twenty year, not countin’ the longtime of his young an middle manhood when he was6trapsein’ the world after them curios an’ antics ofhis’n.”
“Antiques, Jemima,” the lady of the house corrected.
“That’s wot I said,” stubbornly.
“Your porridge was dished at seven sharp an’ wasperfec’ for that hour; but five minutes makes a worldof difference in the nature of a hot bowl of porridge.”
“I’m sure it will be delicious, Amanda,” her mistressmurmured. Her tone was timid and placating.
“Speakin’ of laces knottin’,” Amanda continued,“Mary Caroline was the only one of us girls that wasinclined to fat, an’ maw a’ways made her let ’emout when she took ’em off, nights, so there’d be notime wasted in the mornin’.”
“It was my boot-lace, Amanda,” milady protested.
“Mebbe ’twas—an’ mebbe ’twasn’t. It’s loosenin’’em overnight that counts—both boots an’stays. An’ so Mary Caroline found—leastways ifshe didn’t want maw to wallop her for bein’ late—slothbein’ one of the seven deadly sins maw couldnot abide. Mary Caroline was a natural temptationto a high-tempered, energetic woman like maw—shebein’ inclined to fat.”
Mrs. Mearely motioned the porridge bowl awaywith a chill gravity.
“I’d like my toast and eggs now. Of course I donot suppose you mean anything personal, Amanda,7by your repeated allusions to your deceased sister’sphysique. Nevertheless I may say, without loweringmy dignity, that, although I am not thin and—and—er—flatall over like some of Roseborough’swomen, I am not fat. I am not even ‘inclined to fat’as it appears your—er—walloped sister was, accordingto your description.”
Mrs. Mearely’s attempt to reduce Amanda Frigget,domestic, to a proper sense of her relation towardthe mistress of Villa Rose, failed miserably. Thehaughty eye of the would-be grande dame waveredfrom that forbidding countenance and weakly soughtrefuge in the colour-blend of buttered toast with yolkof egg. Alas, she had given Amanda the sort ofopportunity which never passed unimproved.
“You’re not fat as compared with some, but you’vegot a general curve to you, which is on’y to be expectedin the daughter-of-a-farmer’s figure.” Amandaproceeded, uncompromisingly, to make theFrigget position on curves and non-curves evenplainer. “Now Mr. Hibbert Mearely’s sisters, bothwhat married small but choice titles, was so lean an’aristocratical you could count the ridges in theirbackbones—on’y you wouldn’t of persoomed thatway on born ladies. But look who their father was—an’Mr. Mearely’s father, too! A perfessor an’clergy that had his descent from the middle ages ofHenery Seven!”
8“No wonder Mr. Mearely felt he could afford tobe condescendin’,” Jemima put in, as she removedthe tea cosy. “But I don’t s’pose he’d ever haveset his a’most royal foot onto ploughed an’ harrowedgroun’, if he hadn’t of seen you that day in the gateof your father’s farm in Poplars Vale. That’s whenhe forgot about Henery Seven an’ went back to thesoil—a man that was past fifty an’ had seen all themuseums of Europe!”
“Strange—strange, indeed!” Mrs. Mearely hissedsoftly, striking a small silver knife into a butter ballwith intent to wound.
Amanda took up the theme.
“An’ how did it all come to happen? By theaccident of him, a absen’-minded man, takin’ thewrong turn at the cross-roads as he