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A Mountain Woman Elia W. Peattie

A Mountain Woman

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Jessica was dancing like a fairy with Leroy. They both saw us and smiled as we came in, and a moment later they joined us. I made my excuses and left my friends to Jessica's care. She was a sort of social tyrant wherever she was, and I knew one word from her would insure the popularity of our friends -- not that they needed the intervention of any one. Leroy had been a sort of drawing-room pet since before he stopped wearing knickerbockers.

"He is at his best in a drawing-room," said Jessica, "because there he deals with theory and not with action. And he has such beautiful theories that the women, who are all idealists, adore him."

The next morning I awoke with a conviction that I had been idling too long. I went back to the city and brushed the dust from my desk. Then each morning, I, as Jessica put it, "formed public opinion" to the extent of one column a day in the columns of a certain enterprising morning journal.

Brainard said I had treated him shabbily to leave upon the heels of his coming. But a man who works for his bread and butter must put a limit to his holiday. It is different when you only work to add to your general picturesqueness. That is what I wrote Leroy, and it was the unkindest thing I ever said to him; and why I did it I do not know to this day. I was glad, though, when he failed to answer the letter. It gave me a more reasonable excuse for feeling out of patience with him.

The days that followed were very dull. It was hard to get back into the way of working. I was glad when Jessica came home to set up our little establishment and to join in the autumn gayeties. Brainard brought his wife to the city soon after, and went to housekeeping in an odd sort of a way.

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"I couldn't see anything in the place save curios," Jessica reported, after her first call on them. "I suppose there is a cooking-stove somewhere, and maybe even a pantry with pots in it. But all I saw was Alaska totems and Navajo blankets. They have as many skins around on the floor and couches as would have satisfied an ancient Briton. And everybody was calling there. You know Mr. Brainard runs to curios in selecting his friends as well as his furniture. The parlors were full this afternoon of abnormal people, that is to say, with folks one reads about. I was the only one there who hadn't done something. I guess it's because I am too healthy."

"How did Mrs. Brainard like such a motley crew?"

"She was wonderful -- perfectly wonderful! Those insulting creatures were all studying her, and she knew it. But her dignity was perfect, and she looked as proud as a Sioux chief. She listened to every one, and they all thought her so bright."

"Brainard must have been tremendously proud of her."

"Oh, he was -- of her and his Chilcat portières."

Jessica was there often, but -- well, I was busy. At length, however, I was forced to go. Jessica refused to make any further excuses for me. The rooms were filled with small celebrities.

"We are the only nonentities," whispered Jessica, as she looked around; "it will make us quite distinguished."

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A Mountain Woman
Elia W. Peattie

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