Yellow Star_ A Story of East and West
A STORY OF EAST AND WEST
ELAINE GOODALE EASTMAN
Author of “Wigwam Evenings,” “LittleBrother o’ Dreams,” Etc.
With Illustrations by
ANGEL DE CORA
WILLIAM LONE STAR
LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY
By Little, Brown, and Company.
All rights reserved
Published, September, 1911
Electrotyped and Printed by
THE COLONIAL PRESS
C. H. Simonds & Co., Boston, U.S.A.
(MOUNT HOLYOKE, 1914.)
|II.||The Girl from Dakota||20|
|III.||A Lesson in History||33|
|V.||In Wolcott’s Woods||63|
|VI.||A Wild West Performance||76|
|VII.||Behind the Scenes||88|
|VIII.||The Right Stuff||99|
|IX.||Glimpses of Old America||112|
|X.||Nobody’s Little Girl||130|
|XII.||Herbs and Simples||159|
|XIV.||An End and a Beginning||193|
|XV.||The Scene Shifts||207|
|XVI.||By Return of Post||222|
|XVII.||“Pray for my People when the Sun Goes Down”||238|
|XVIII.||Facing the Sunrise||255|
|“I seem to be just in time, again, Stella,” was all he said||Frontispiece|
|A girlish figure swung down out of the old apple-tree and dropped lightly upon its feet||Page||16|
|He was quiet, even for an Indian baby; unnaturally quiet, she thought||”||88|
|“I was only digging medicine,” the elf soberly announced||”||209|
It was four o’clock of a hot Septemberafternoon, and the buzz of twentygirls released from school filled theclose room with a sibilant overflow, muchlike the gossip of bees in a blossomingelder-bush. The boys had already goneclattering down the stairs to the ball-field,and the little maids of the highestgrammar grade demurely prepared tofollow, sipping the sweets of freedom withmore of leisurely enjoyment, in truefeminine fashion.
A long, thin girl of thirteen or so, in astarched blue gingham frock nearly toher sharp knees, who looked somehow asif blown straight forward by a strongwind, and a plump bud of a fair-haireddamsel in pink, stood close together in aneddy of the murmuring stream.
“I don’t think it’s fair, Doris; no, Idon’t!” were the long girl’s first wordsearnestly spoken, as she tossed the lanklocks back from her eager face with acharacteristic gesture.
“Don’t think what’s fair?” queriedDoris, serenely. “Oh, Sin, you’vedropped your glasses!”
“Bother the glasses—you know whatI mean. That wild Indian girl from the‘land of the Ojibways,’ or wherever it isthey say she’s coming to our school, andthe girls will make her life one longmisery, just because she wears a redblanket, prob’ly, and a feather or twoin her straight, black hair—”
“You don’t know what you’re talkingabout, Sin Parker. She never wore ablanket in her life, so there!”
“Why—why—isn’t she a sure-’noughIndian, then, after all?” stammeredromance-loving Cynthia, droppingthe glasses again in her excitement.“And how do you happen to know somuch about it, Doris Brown?”
“Well, I do know; mother was outcalling yesterday afternoon, and she’sheard all about it. I expect she’s over atthe Spellman house now. You see, it’sthis way…” And the two girls, witharms about each other’s waists andabsorbed faces, drifted through the bigdoors in their turn and followed a chattering,fluttering throng down the wide, elm-linedvillage street.
In the prim parlor of an old New Englandhomestead, watched over by theghostly crayon portraits of departedancestors, the fate of the brown-skinnedlittle stranger was equally the topic ofdiscussion.
Mrs. Brown, a stout, motherly lady ina creaking black silk, had timed her callneatly for the second day after the arrivalfrom the west of Miss Spellman’s widowedsister, whose husband had lived for twentyyears as a missionary among the Indians,and her unusual charge.
“No, I was never in favor of bringingthe child to Laurel. I strongly advisedLucy to place her at once in one of theexcellent Government boarding-schoolsfor Indian children. I understand thatthey are everything that could be desiredfor a girl in her position—clean and well-managed—thecommon branches thoroughlytaught, together with houseworkand sewing.”
Miss Sophia spoke with her usualpositiveness in that hard, clear-cut voiceof hers, raising her white, aquiline profilea trifle against the shadowy backgroundof her ancestral “best room.”
“Why, sister,” pleaded gentle Mrs.Waring, almost tearfully, “I could nomore have left my little girl in one of thosebig, bare, whitewashed barracks …to eat coarse food off thick stonewarein a noisy dining-room … to sleep withfifty other girls in a dormitory where thebeds almost touch … she’s not usedto anything like that! I tell you, thechild is as sensitive as you or I.”
“I must beg of you, Lucy, not tomention my name in any such connection,”interposed her sister. “It wouldcertainly seem that a school expresslyprovided for just such girls as YellowStar—or whatever her ridiculous nameis—must be the proper place for her.However, you were determined to bringher home with you, and you have hadyour way. It remains to be seen whatwill come of it… Let me fill yourglass, Emmeline.”
“No, thank you, Sophia,” murmuredgood Mrs. Brown, hastily finishing hericed tea, and setting the thin, frostedgoblet with its bits of shaved lemon peelon the silver tray at her hostess’s elbow.Sophia certainly did have a positive giftfor making folks uncomfortable. “Isurely do hope,” she plucked up courageto add, “that Yellow Star will do wellin Laurel, and be happy with us, now thatshe is here.”
“We call her Stella,” faltered Mrs.Waring. “It seemed wiser …” (hereMiss Sophia indulged in what might in aless aristocratic dame have been plainlycalled a sniff) … “wiser not to retainanything that might tend to make herneedlessly conspicuous—”
“Oh, I see! ‘Stella’—that’s verypretty. I understand you are sendingher to grammar school?”
“Stella will enter the eighth grade to-morrow,”Mrs. Waring answered, drawingcourage from the delicate sympathy conveyedin her old friend’s soft, purringtones. “She is nearly fourteen, and Iwant her to be thoroughly prepared forthe academy next year.”
“Why, I’m surprised! How ever did youmanage it, Lucy? That’s my Doris’s grade—andDoris was fourteen last month.”
“I have taught Stella myself up tonow,” her adopted mother announcedwith modest pride, “and a quicker ormore willing pupil I never met with anywhere.Yes, I’ve talked with the superintendent;he questioned her himself;and he says she could get into the academythis fall, he thinks, but advises ayear in the grades to give her more confidenceand lay a better foundation.”
“Foundation for what—can any onetell me that?” Miss Sophia had beensilent an unusually long time, for her.“I’m afraid my sister hasn’t consideredthat to educate the child above herstation in life and out of sympathy withher own people will only lead to her unhappinessin the end. If you would onlytake my advice, Lucy, before it’s too late,and train the child for a little maid—sinceyou will have her with you—insteadof spoiling her as you do…”
“Stella is my little girl, sister,” interruptedthe gentle Lucy, with theunexpected daring of some timid animalbrought to bay. “She shall share whateverI have, and for as long as I live.Please remember that she hasn’t a bloodrelation in the world, so far as she knows,and is perfectly free to live anywhere. Iintend to give her a good education—justas good as she can take, or as Iwould have given my own daughter, if Ihad one—and the rest is in God’shands—and her own!”
There was a minute’s tense silence.Then Miss Sophia ostentatiously begana conversation on quite another subjectwith her subdued caller, who wantednothing so much just then as to catch aglimpse of the unconscious bone of contention,but simply dared not ask in somany words to see Yellow Star.
Lucy sat back in her chair with herthin hands squeezed tightly together,trying hard to recover her composure.It was quite true that Sophia had opposedfrom the first her purpose to adoptand educate the child, and had yieldedungraciously enough in the end, merelybecause she had exhausted her weapons.There were but the two sisters left, andthe homestead belonged to them equally.Mr. Waring had died the year before,leaving only the few hundred dollars thatrepresented a missionary’s scanty savings.It was entirely natural and right that hiswidow should come home to live, andquite impossible for her to leave behindthe waif whom she had picked up in theIndian camp some eight or nine yearsearlier, and had taken fully into her heartand home. Her dear husband had lovedand believed in the child, just as she did.Yes, Sophia was making it very hard forher, who shrank unspeakably from anythinglike a contest of wills; yet thepurpose with which she had come backto the old home was unshaken.
As Lucy sat there, struggling withpainful thoughts and oblivious to themurmur of civil conversation, her quickeye caught a flash of white—evidentlya slip of folded paper that some one hadslid in the crack of the closed door. Shehastily left her chair, and with hersister’s cold gray eye upon her, securedthe paper and slipped out of the roomwith it in her hand, for it was naturallyimpossible to open it under that fire ofsuspicious