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Alice Wilde: The Raftsman's DaughterA Reprint of the Classic Beadle Dime Novel
By Enss, Chris
FalconCopyright © 2006 Enss, Chris
All right reserved.
The day after her father's return, Alice Wilde sat down to try her new thimble in running up the skirt of her merino dress. The frock which she wore, and all the others, probably, were fashioned in the style of twenty years ago - short under the arms; a belt at the waist; low in the neck; full, puffed, short sleeves; narrow skirt, and no crinoline. Her profuse hair, when it was not allowed to fall in a golden torrent around her neck, was looped up in the quaint style which marked the fashion of her dress. She looked like the portrait, come to life, of some republican belle and beauty of long ago. Quite unconscious that this ancient style had been superseded by the balloons of to-day, she measured off the three short breadths which, when hemmed, would leave her pretty ankles exposed, even as they now, with the slippered feet, peeped from her scanty gingham.
If Philip Moore had understood the mantuamaker's art, and had possessed "patterns" of the latest mode, he would not have instructed his hostess in any changes, she looked so picturesque and quaint as she was. But he did not let her sew very steadily that day. He wanted to explore the surroundings of the cabin, and she was his ready, intelligent guide.
They went back into the forest, through which thundered, ever and anon, the crash of afalling tree; for many men were busy cutting timber for another raft, on which, at its completion, Philip was to return to Center City. His business would not have detained him more than three or four days, but he was in no haste; he wanted to hunt and fish a little, and he liked the novelty of the idea of floating down the river on a raft of logs in company with a score of rough fellows. Although David Wilde sawed up some of his timber himself, his old-fashioned mill was not equal to the supply, and he sent the surplus down to the steam saw-mills, one of which was owned by Philip and his partner.
It called forth all of his affability to conquer the shyness of his pretty guide, who at last dared to look full into his face with those brilliant blue eyes, and to tell him where the brooks made the sweetest music, where the fawns came oftenest to drink, where the violets lingered the latest, and where there was a grape vine swing.
Both of them looked very happy when they came in, just in time to meet Mr. Wilde at the supper-table, who had been at the mill all day. He did not seem in such good spirits. Some new thought troubled him. His keen, gray eyes scanned the countenance of his child, as if searching for something hitherto undiscovered; and then turned suspiciously to the stranger, to mark if he, too, held the same truth. For the first time it occurred to him, that his "cub," his pt, was no longer a little girl - that he might have done something fatally foolish in bringing that fine city aristocrat to his cabin. Had he not always hated and despised these dandified caricatures of men? - despised their vanity, falsehood, and affectation? - hated their vices, their kid-gloves, their perfumed handkerchiefs, and their fashionable nonsense? Yet, pleased with one of them, and on a mere matter of business, he had, without the wisdom of a fool, much less of a father, brought one of that very class to his house. How angry he was with himself his compressed lip alone revealed, as he sharply eyed his guest. yet the laws of hospitality were too sacred with him to allow of his showing any rudeness to his guest, as a means of getting rid of him.
Unconscious of the bitter jealousy in her father's heart, Alice was as gay as a humming-bird.
Excerpted from Alice Wilde: The Raftsman's Daughter by Enss, Chris Copyright © 2006 by Enss, Chris. Excerpted by permission.
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