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Painted Windows Elia W. Peattie


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"Why, I like you!" I cried. She began laughing again, but this time there was no mockery in it. She ran her fingers over the embroidery on my linen frock, she examined the lace on my petticoat, looked at the bows on my shoes, and played delicately with the locket dangling from the slender chain around my neck.

"Do you know -- other girls?" she almost whispered.

I nodded. "Lots and lots of 'em," I said. "Don't you?"

She shook her head in wistful denial.

"Us Madigans," she said, "keeps to ourselves." She said it so haughtily that for a moment I was almost persuaded into thinking that they lived their solitary lives from choice. But, glancing up at her, I saw a blush that covered her face, and there were tears in her eyes.

"Well, anyway," said I quickly, "we know each other."

"Yes," she cried, "we do that!"

She got up, then, and ran to a great tree from which a stout grape-vine was swinging, and pulling at it with her strong arms, she soon had it made into a practical swing.

"Come!" she called -- "come, let's swing together!"

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She helped me to balance myself on the rope-like vine, and, placing her feet outside of mine, showed me how to "work up" till we were sweeping with a fine momentum through the air. We shrieked with excitement, and urged each other on to more and more frantic exertions. We were like two birds, but to birds flying is no novelty. With us it was, which made us happier than birds. But I, for my part, was no more delighted with my swift flights through the air than I was with the shining eyes and flashing teeth of the girl opposite me. I liked her strength, and the way in which her body bent and swayed. Once more, she seemed like a wood-child -- a wild, mad, gay creature from the tree. I felt as if I had drawn a playmate from elf-land, and I liked her a thousand times better than those proper little girls who came to see me of a Saturday afternoon.

Well, there we were, rocking and screaming, and telling each other that we were hawks, and that we were flying high over the world, when the anxious and austere voice of my mother broke upon our ears. We tried to stop, but that was not such an easy matter to do, and as we twisted and writhed, to bring our grape-vine swing to a standstill, there was a slow rending and breaking which struck terror to our souls.

"Jump!" commanded Norah -- "jump! the vine's breaking!" We leaped at the same moment, she safely. My foot caught in a stout tendril, and I fell headlong, scraping my forehead on the ground and tearing a triangular rent in the pretty, new frock. Mother came running forward, and the expression on her face was far from being the one I liked to see.

"What have you been doing?" she demanded. "I thought you were getting old enough and sensible enough to take care of yourself!"

I must have been a depressing sight, viewed with the eyes of a careful mother. Blood and mould mingled on my face, my dress needed a laundress as badly as a dress could, and my shoes were scratched and muddy.

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Painted Windows
Elia W. Peattie

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