The Hiltons' Holiday


There was a bright, full moon in the clear sky, and the sunset was still shining faintly in the west. Dark woods stood all about the old Hilton farmhouse, save down the hill, westward, where lay the shadowy fields which John Hilton, and his father before him, had cleared and tilled with much toil—the small fields to which they had given the industry and even affection of their honest lives.

John Hilton was sitting on the doorstep of his house. As he moved his head in and out of the shadows, turning now and then to speak to his wife, who sat just within the doorway, one could see his good face, rough and somewhat unkempt, as if he were indeed a creature of the shady woods and brown earth, instead of the noisy town. It was late in the long spring evening, and he had just come from the lower field as cheerful as a boy, proud of having finished the planting of his potatoes.

“I had to do my last row mostly by feelin’,” he said to his wife. “I’m proper glad I pushed through, an’ went back an’ ended off after supper. ’Twould have taken me a good part o’ to-morrow mornin’, an’ broke my day.”

“ ’Tain’t no use for ye to work yourself all to pieces, John,” answered the woman, quickly. “I declare it does seem harder than ever that we couldn’t have kep’ our boy; he’d been comin’ fourteen years old this fall, most a grown man, and he’d work right ’longside of ye now the whole time.”

“ ’Twas hard to lose him; I-do seem to miss little John,” said the father, sadly. “I expect there was reasons why ’twas best. I feel able an’ smart to work; my father was a girt strong man, an’ a monstrous worker afore me. ’Tain’t that; but I was thinkin’ myself to-day what a sight o’ company the boy would ha’ been. You know, small’s he was, how I could trust him to leave anywheres with the team, and how he’d beseech to go with me wherever I was goin’; always right in my tracks I used to tell ’em. Poor little John, for all he was so young he had a great deal o’ judgment; he’d ha’ made a likely man.”

The mother sighed heavily as she within the shadow.

“But then there’s the little girls, a sight o’ help an’ company,” urged the father, eagerly, as if it were wrong to dwell upon sorrow and loss. “Katy, she’s most as good as a boy, except that she ain’t very rugged. She’s a real little farmer, she’s helped me a sight this spring; an’ you’ve got Susan Ellen, that makes a complete little housekeeper for ye as far as she’s learnt. I don’t see but we’re better off than most folks, each on us having a workmate.”

“That’s so, John,” acknowledged Mrs. Hilton, wistfully, beginning to rock steadily in her straight splint- bottom chair. It was always a good sign when she rocked.

“Where be the little girls so late?” asked their father. “’Tis gettin’ long past eight o’clock. I don’t know when we’ve all set up so late, but it’s so kind o’ summer-like an’ pleasant. Why, where be they gone?”

“I’ve told ye; only over to Becker’s folks,” answered the mother. “I don’t see myself what keeps ’em so late; they beseeched me after supper till I let ’em go. They’re all in a dazzle with the new teacher; she asked ’em to come over. They say she’s unusual smart with ’rethmetic, but she has a kind of gorpen look to me. She’s goin’ to give Katy some pieces for her doll, but I told Katy she ought to be ashamed wantin’ dolls’ pieces, big as she’s gittin’ to be. I don’t know’s she ought, though; she ain’t but nine this summer.”

“Let her take her comfort,” said the kind-hearted man. “Them things draws her to the teacher, an’ makes them acquainted. Katy’s shy with new folks, more so’n Susan Ellen, who’s of the business kind. Katy’s shy-feelin’ and wishful.”

“I don’t know but she is,” agreed the mother slowly. “Ain’t it sing’lar how well acquainted you be with that one, an’ I with Susan Ellen? ’Twas always so from the first. I’m doubtful sometimes our Katy ain’t one

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