BLTC Press Titles

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Vanity Fair

William Thackery

The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A. Conan Doyle

The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

Much ado about Peter

by Jean Webster



meadow, were dotted over with white sailboats.

"Do ye want anything more of me, Nora?" she asked.

"No, be off with you, child/' said Nora, good-naturedly. "I 'll finish puttin' to rights meself," and she gathered up the dish-towels and carried them into the laundry.

Annie paused by the screen door leading on to the back veranda, and stood regarding the stables speculatively. She was wondering what would be the most diplomatic way of approaching Peter. Her speculations were suddenly interrupted by the appearance in the kitchen of Miss Ethel, with a very beruffled white muslin frock in her arms.

"Annie," she said, "you 'll have to wash this dress. I forgot to have Kate do it yester-' day, and I want to wear it to-night. Have it ready by five o'clock and be careful about the lace."

She threw the frock across the back of a

chair, and ran on out of doors to join a laughing crowd of young people about the tenniscourt. Annie stood in the middle of the floor and watched her with a fast-clouding brow.

"An' never so much as said please!" she muttered to herself. She walked over and picked up the frock. It was very elaborate with ruffles and tucks and lace insertion; its ironing meant a good two hours' work. Ironing muslin gowns on a Fourth of July was not Annie's business. She turned it about slowly and her eyes filled with tears — not of sorrow for the lost afternoon, but of anger at the injustice of demanding such work from her on such a day.

Presently Nora came in again. She paused in the doorway, her arms akimbo, and regarded Annie.

"What's that you 've got?" she inquired.

Then the floodgates of Annie's wrath were opened and she poured out her tale.

"Don't you mind it, Annie darlin'," said Nora, trying to comfort her. "Miss Ethel did n't mean nothin'. She was in a hurry, likely, an' she did n't stop to think."

"Didn't think! Why can't she wear some other dress? She's got a whole room just full o' dresses, an' she has to have that special one ironed at a minute's notice. An' Kate comin' three days in the week! It isn't my place to wash — that is n't what Mrs. Carter engaged me for — I would n't 'a' minded so much if she 'd asked it as a favour, but she just ordered me as if washin' was me work. On Fourth o' July, too, an' Mrs. Carter tellin' me I could have the afternoon off — an' all those ruffles — 'have it done by five o'clock,' she says, an' goes out to play."

Annie threw the dress in a fluffy pile in the middle of the floor.

"I shan't do it! I won't be ordered about that way by Miss Ethel or anybody else."

"I 'd do it for you meself, Annie, but I could n't iron that waist no more 'n a kangaroo. But you just get to work on it; you iron beautiful and it won't take you long when you once begin."

"Won't take me long? It'1l take me the whole afternoon; it'1l take me forever. I shan't touch it!"

Annie's eyes wandered out of doors again. The sunshine seemed brighter, the songs of the birds louder, the glimpse of the bay more enticing. And, as she looked, Peter came sauntering out from the stables — Peter in his town clothes, freshly shaven, with a new red necktie and a flower in his buttonhole. He was coming toward the kitchen.

Annie's lips trembled and she kicked the dress spitefully.

Peter appeared in the doorway. He, too, had been revolving projects for the fitting celebration of the day, and he wished tentatively to broach them to Annie.

"What's up?" he inquired, looking from Annie's flushed cheeks to Nora's troubled eyes.

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