Out in front of the cemetery stood a white horse and a covered wagon. The horse was not tied, but she stood quite still, her four feet widely and ponderously planted, her meek white head hanging. Shadows...
Out in front of the cemetery stood a white horse and a covered wagon.
The horse was not tied, but she stood quite still, her four feet
widely and ponderously planted, her meek white head hanging. Shadows
of leaves danced on her back. There were many trees about the
cemetery, and the foliage was unusually luxuriant for May. The four
women who had come in the covered wagon remarked it. "I never saw the
trees so forward as they are this year, seems to me," said one, gazing
up at some magnificent gold-green branches over her head.
"I was sayin' so to Mary this mornin'," rejoined another. "They're
uncommon forward, I think."
They loitered along the narrow lanes between the lots: four homely,
middle-aged women, with decorous and subdued enjoyment in their worn
faces. They read with peaceful curiosity and interest the inscriptions
on the stones; they turned aside to look at the tender, newly
blossomed spring bushes--the flowering almonds and the bridal wreaths.
Once in a while they came to a new stone, which they immediately
surrounded with eager criticism. There was a solemn hush when they
reached a lot where some relatives of one of the party were buried.
She put a bunch of flowers on a grave, then she stood looking at it
with red eyes. The others grouped themselves deferentially aloof.
They did not meet any one in the cemetery until just before they left.
When they had reached the rear and oldest portion of the yard, and
were thinking of retracing their steps, they became suddenly aware of
a child sitting in a lot at their right. The lot held seven old,
leaning stones, dark and mossy, their inscriptions dimly traceable.
The child sat close to one, and she looked up at the staring knot of
women with a kind of innocent keenness, like a baby. Her face was
small and fair and pinched. The women stood eying her.
"What's your name, little girl?" asked one. She had a bright flower in
her bonnet and a smart lift to her chin, and seemed the natural
spokeswoman of the party. Her name was Holmes. The child turned her
head sideways and murmured something.
"What? We can't hear. Speak up; don't be afraid! What's your name?"
The woman nodded the bright flower over her, and spoke with sharp
"Nancy Wren," said the child, with a timid catch of her breath.
The child nodded. She kept her little pink, curving mouth parted.
"It's nobody I know," remarked the questioner, reflectively. "I guess
she comes from--over there." She made a significant motion of her head
towards the right. "Where do you live, Nancy?" she asked.
The child also motioned towards the right.
"I thought so," said the woman. "How old are you?"