Poor child! said Rachel, wiping her eyes; but thee mustnt feel so. The Lord hath ordered it so that never hath a fugitive been stolen from our village. I trust thine will not be the first.
The door here opened, and a little short, round, pin-cushiony woman stood at the door, with a cheery, blooming face, like a ripe apple. She was dressed, like Rachel, in sober gray, with the muslin folded neatly across her round, plump little chest.
Ruth Stedman, said Rachel, coming joyfully forward; how is thee, Ruth? she said, heartily taking both her hands.
Nicely, said Ruth, taking off her little drab bonnet, and dusting it with her handkerchief, displaying, as she did so, a round little head, on which the Quaker cap sat with a sort of jaunty air, despite all the stroking and patting of the small fat hands, which were busily applied to arranging it. Certain stray locks of decidedly curly hair, too, had escaped here and there, and had to be coaxed and cajoled into their place again; and then the new comer, who might have been five-and-twenty, turned from the small looking-glass, before which she had been making these arrangements, and looked well pleased,as most people who looked at her might have been,for she was decidedly a wholesome, whole-hearted, chirruping little woman, as ever gladdened mans heart withal.
Ruth, this friend is Eliza Harris; and this is the little boy I told thee of.
I am glad to see thee, Eliza,very, said Ruth, shaking hands, as if Eliza were an old friend she had long been expecting; and this is thy dear boy,I brought a cake for him, she said, holding out a little heart to the boy, who came up, gazing through his curls, and accepted it shyly.
Wheres thy baby, Ruth? said Rachel.
O, hes coming; but thy Mary caught him as I came in, and ran off with him to the barn, to show him to the children.
At this moment, the door opened, and Mary, an honest, rosy-looking girl, with large brown eyes, like her mothers, came in with the baby.
Ah! ha! said Rachel, coming up, and taking the great, white, fat fellow in her arms, how good he looks, and how he does grow!
To be sure, he does, said little bustling Ruth, as she took the child, and began taking off a little blue silk hood, and various layers and wrappers of outer garments; and having given a twitch here, and a pull there, and variously adjusted and arranged him, and kissed him heartily, she set him on the floor to collect his thoughts. Baby seemed quite used to this mode of proceeding, for he put his thumb in his mouth (as if it were quite a thing of course), and seemed soon absorbed in his own reflections, while the mother seated herself, and taking out a long stocking of mixed blue and white yarn, began to knit with briskness.
Mary, theed better fill the kettle, hadnt thee? gently suggested the mother.
Mary took the kettle to the well, and soon reappearing, placed it over the stove, where it was soon purring and steaming, a sort of censer of hospitality and good cheer. The peaches, moreover, in obedience to a few gentle whispers from Rachel, were soon deposited, by the same hand, in a stew-pan over the fire.
Rachel now took down a snowy moulding-board, and, tying on an apron, proceeded quietly to making up some biscuits, first saying to Mary,Mary, hadnt thee better tell John to get a chicken ready? and Mary disappeared accordingly.
And how is Abigail Peters? said Rachel, as she went on with her biscuits.
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