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A Mountain Woman Elia W. Peattie

Up the Gulch

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"You must excuse me," he pleaded. "I'll cure myself of it! Jest give me a chance."

This was a little more personal than Kate approved of, and she raised her parasol to conceal her annoyance. It was a brilliant little fluff of a thing which looked as if it were made of butterflies' wings. Roeder touched it with awe.

"You have sech beautiful things," he said. "I didn't know women wore sech nice things. Now that dress -- it's like -- I don't know what it's like." It was a simple little taffeta, with warp and woof of azure and of cream, and gay knots of ribbon about it.

"We have the advantage of men," she said. "I often think one of the greatest drawbacks to being a man would be the sombre clothes. I like to wear the prettiest things that can be found."

"Lace?" queried Roeder. "Do you like lace?"

"I should say so! Did you ever see a woman who didn't?"

"Hu -- um! These women I've known don't know lace, -- these wives of th' men out here. They're th' only kind I've seen this long time."

"Oh, of course, but I mean --"

"I know what you mean. My mother has a chest full of linen an' lace. She showed it t' me th' day I left. 'Peter,' she said, 'some day you bring a wife home with you, an' I'll give you that lace an' that linen.' An' I'm goin' t' do it, too," he said quietly.

"I hope so," said Kate, with her eyes moist. "I hope you will, and that your mother will be very happy."

. . . . . . .

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There was a hop at the hotel that night, and it was almost a matter of courtesy for Kate to go. Ladies were in demand, for there were not very many of them at the hotel. Every one was expected to do his best to make it a success; and Kate, not at all averse to a waltz or two, dressed herself for the occasion with her habitual striving after artistic effect. She was one of those women who make a picture of themselves as naturally as a bird sings. She had an opal necklace which Jack had given her because, he said, she had as many moods as an opal had colors; and she wore this with a crépe gown, the tint of the green lights in her necklace. A box of flowers came for her as she was dressing; they were Puritan roses, and Peter Roeder's card was in the midst of them. She was used to having flowers given her. It would have seemed remarkable if some one had not sent her a bouquet when she was going to a ball.

"I shall dance but twice," she said to those who sought her for a partner. "Neither more nor less."

"Ain't you goin' t' dance with me at all?" Roeder managed to say to her in the midst of her laughing altercation with the gentlemen.

"Dance with you!" cried Kate. "How do men learn to dance when they are up a gulch?"

"I ken dance," he said stubbornly. He was mortified at her chaffing.

"Then you may have the second waltz, " she said, in quick contrition. "Now you other gentlemen have been dancing any number of times these last fifteen years. But Mr. Roeder is just back from a hard campaign, -- a campaign against fate. My second waltz is his. And I shall dance my best."

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A Mountain Woman
Elia W. Peattie

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