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A Mountain Woman Elia W. Peattie

Jim Lancy's Waterloo

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It was a house of four rooms, and a glance revealed the fact that it had been provided with the necessaries.

"I think we can be very comfortable here," said Jim, rather doubtfully.

Annie saw she must make some response. "I am sure we can be more than comfortable, Jim," she replied. "We can be happy. Show me, if you please, where my room is. I must hang my cloak up in the right place so that I shall feel as if I were getting settled."

It was enough. Jim had no longer any doubts. He felt sure they were going to be happy ever afterward.

It was Annie who got the first meal; she insisted on it, though both the men wanted her to rest. And Jim hadn't the heart to tell her that, as a general thing, it would not do to put two eggs in the corn-cake, and that the beefsteak was a great luxury. When he saw her about to break an egg for the coffee, however, he interfered.

"The shells of the ones you used for the cake will settle the coffee just as well," he said. "You see we have to be very careful of eggs out here at this season."

"Oh! Will the shells really settle it? This is what you must call prairie lore. I suppose out here we find out what the real relations of invention and necessity are -- eh?"

Jim laughed disproportionately. He thought her wonderfully witty. And he and the help ate so much that Annie opened her eyes. She had thought there would be enough left for supper. But there was nothing left.

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For the next two weeks Jim was able to be much with her; and they amused themselves by decorating the house with the bright curtainings that Annie had brought, and putting up shelves for a few pieces of china. She had two or three pictures, also, which had come from her room in her old home, and some of those useless dainty things with which some women like to litter the room.

"Most folks," Jim explained, "have to be content with one fire, and sit in the kitchen; but I thought, as this was our honeymoon, we would put on some lugs."

Annie said nothing then; but a day or two after she ventured, --

"Perhaps it would be as well now, dear, if we kept in the kitchen. I'll keep it as bright and pleasant as I can. And, anyway, you can be more about with me when I'm working then. We'll lay a fire in the front-room stove, so that we can light it if anybody comes. We can just as well save that much."

Jim looked up brightly. "All right," he said. "You're a sensible little woman. You see, every cent makes a difference. And I want to be able to pay off five hundred dollars of that mortgage this year."

So, after that, they sat in the kitchen; and the fire was laid in the front room, against the coming of company. But no one came, and it remained unlighted.

Then the season began to show signs of opening, -- bleak signs, hardly recognizable to Annie; and after that Jim was not much in the house. The weeks wore on, and spring came at last, dancing over the hills. The ground-birds began building, and at four each morning awoke Annie with their sylvan opera. The creek that ran just at the north of the house worked itself into a fury and blustered along with much noise toward the great Platte which, miles away, wallowed in its vast sandy bed. The hills flushed from brown to yellow, and from mottled green to intensest emerald, and in the superb air all the winds of heaven seemed to meet and frolic with laughter and song.

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A Mountain Woman
Elia W. Peattie

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