The Little Evangelist
It was Sunday afternoon. St. Clare was stretched on a bamboo lounge in the verandah, solacing himself with a cigar. Marie lay reclined on a sofa, opposite the window opening on the verandah, closely secluded, under an awning of transparent gauze, from the outrages of the mosquitos, and languidly holding in her hand an elegantly bound prayer-book. She was holding it because it was Sunday, and she imagined she had been reading it,though, in fact, she had been only taking a succession of short naps, with it open in her hand.
Miss Ophelia, who, after some rummaging, had hunted up a small Methodist meeting within riding distance, had gone out, with Tom as driver, to attend it; and Eva had accompanied them.
I say, Augustine, said Marie after dozing a while, I must send to the city after my old Doctor Posey; Im sure Ive got the complaint of the heart.
Well; why need you send for him? This doctor that attends Eva seems skilful.
I would not trust him in a critical case, said Marie; and I think I may say mine is becoming so! Ive been thinking of it, these two or three nights past; I have such distressing pains, and such strange feelings.
O, Marie, you are blue; I dont believe its heart complaint.
I dare say you dont, said Marie; I was prepared to expect that. You can be alarmed enough, if Eva coughs, or has the least thing the matter with her; but you never think of me.
If its particularly agreeable to you to have heart disease, why, Ill try and maintain you have it, said St. Clare; I didnt know it was.
Well, I only hope you wont be sorry for this, when its too late! said Marie; but, believe it or not, my distress about Eva, and the exertions I have made with that dear child, have developed what I have long suspected.
What the exertions were which Marie referred to, it would have been difficult to state. St. Clare quietly made this commentary to himself, and went on smoking, like a hard-hearted wretch of a man as he was, till a carriage drove up before the verandah, and Eva and Miss Ophelia alighted.
Miss Ophelia marched straight to her own chamber, to put away her bonnet and shawl, as was always her manner, before she spoke a word on any subject; while Eva came, at St: Clares call, and was sitting on his knee, giving him an account of the services they had heard.
They soon heard loud exclamations from Miss Ophelias room, which, like the one in which they were sitting, opened on to the verandah and violent reproof addressed to somebody.
What new witchcraft has Tops been brewing? asked St. Clare. That commotion is of her raising, Ill be bound!
And, in a moment after, Miss Ophelia, in high indignation, came dragging the culprit along.
Come out here, now! she said. I will tell your master!
Whats the case now? asked Augustine.
The case is, that I cannot be plagued with this child, any longer! Its past all bearing; flesh and blood cannot endure it! Here, I locked her up, and gave her a hymn to study; and what does she do, but spy out where I put my key, and has gone to my bureau, and got a bonnet-trimming, and cut it all to pieces to make dollsjackets! I never saw anything like it, in my life!
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