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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesOutpost, Or Dora Darling And Little Sunshine - Chapter XXV - MAN VERSUS DOG
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Outpost, Or Dora Darling And Little Sunshine - Chapter XXV - MAN VERSUS DOG Post by :Sandi_McQuade Category :Long Stories Author :Jane Goodwin Austin Date :January 2011 Read :2552

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Outpost, Or Dora Darling And Little Sunshine - Chapter XXV - MAN VERSUS DOG

Mr. Burroughs staid to tea, and, while it was being prepared,
strolled with Karl about the little farm; looked at the Alderney
cow, the Suffolk pigs, the span of Morgan horses named Pope and
Pagan; quietly sounded the depths of Capt. Karl's open and joyous
nature, and made him talk of his cousin Dora, and reveal his love
and his hopes regarding her.

"They will marry out there, and she will manage him, and make him
very happy," thought Mr. Burroughs, returning toward the farmhouse,
and admiring the long slope of the mossy roof, and the clinging
masses of woodbine creeping to the ridge-pole.

"You won't make so picturesque a thing of your new home for several
years to come, if ever, Mr. Windsor," added he aloud.

"No, I suppose not; but the genius of our people is more for
beginning than ending, and this old place was built by my
grandfather," said the young man.

"An excellent and most American reason for deserting it," said Mr.
Burroughs gravely; "and, if you are thinking of selling, I should
like the opportunity of becoming purchaser. This sort of thing is
going out of the market, and I should like to secure a specimen
before it is too late. It is same as a picture, except that it is
stationary, and one must come to it instead of carrying it away in
triumph."

"I think we may like to sell; but I must consult my sister and
cousin first," said Karl rather gravely: for, after all, he did not
just like the tone assumed by this fine city gentleman in speaking
of the place that had been a home to Karl and his ancestors for more
than a century. The quick tact of the lawyer perceived the slight
wound he had given, and repaired it by carelessly saying,--

"And, besides the beauty of the place, I should be proud possessing
any thing that had belonged to a grandfather. My family has been so
migratory, that I can hardly say I had a grandfather or not:
certainly I have not the remotest idea where he lived."

Capt. Karl laughed.

"Our family has been settled here since the days of the Pilgrims"
said he; "and Kitty could show you a family chart, as large as a
table-cloth, of which she is mightily proud, although I never could
see any particular benefit it has been to us."

"And Miss Dora-is she fond of recalling her ancestors and their
fame? or is she satisfied with her own?" asked Mr. Burroughs.

"I don't believe it ever occurred to her that either she or they
deserved any," said Karl, laughing. "You never knew a creature so
entirely simple and self-forgetful in your life, and yet of so wide
and noble a nature. She is never so happy as in doing good to other
people."

"But likes to do it in her own way?" suggested the lawyer
pleasantly.

"Likes to do it in the best way, and her own way is sure to be
that," replied Karl somewhat decidedly; and Mr. Burroughs smiled and
bowed.

In the, doorway, under the swinging branch of the tall sweetbrier,
suddenly appeared Kitty, her brown face becoming flushed, and the
buttons of her under-sleeves not yet adjusted.

"Tea is ready; will you please to walk in, Mr. Burroughs?" said she:
and the guest followed, well pleased, to the wide, cool kitchen,
with its white, scoured floor, its vine-shaded windows and open door
giving a view of broad meadow-lands, with a brook curling crisply
through them, and a dark pine-wood beyond. In the centre stood the
neat tea-table, with its country dainties of rich cream, yellow
butter, custards, ripe peaches sliced and served with sugar,
buttermilk-biscuit, and the fresh sponge-cake, on which Kitty justly
prided herself.

"You see we are plain country-folks, and eat in the kitchen, Mr.
Burroughs," said she, with a little laugh, as they seated
themselves.

"Is this room called a kitchen? You amuse yourself by jesting with
my ignorance," said Mr. Burroughs, looking about him with affected
simplicity. "If ever I should live here, I would call this the
refreshing-room; for I can imagine nothing more soothing to eyes
weary of a summer sun than these vine-covered windows, and the cool
greens of that meadow and the pine-forest beyond."

Kitty smiled a little vaguely, half inclined to insist upon the
kitchen-side of the question; when Karl asked, in a disappointed
tone,--

"Where is Dora? Isn't she coming?"

"Not yet. Molly waked up, and Dora is giving her some supper. She
said she would come as soon as she had done. You didn't know, Mr.
Burroughs, that Dora has an adopted child, did you?"

"No, indeed. She is young to undertake such responsibility," said
Mr. Burroughs a little curiously.

"This is a little foreigner too, that Dora picked up in the road. No
one knows who she may be, or what dreadful people may come after her
any day. Dora is so queer!"

"Will you have a biscuit, Kitty? Mr. Burroughs, let me give you some
of this peach? We shall be sorry to leave our peach-orchard behind
in going to the West. I suppose, however, one can soon be started
there."

And Karl, determined not to allow Kitty the chance of making any of
her spiteful little speeches about Dora in presence of the visitor,
kept the conversation upon purely impersonal topics, until they rose
from table, and the two gentlemen strolled out upon the porch at the
western door; while Kitty ran up to call Dora, whom she found
sitting beside the bed, with Sunshine's head lying upon her arm.

"Isn't she asleep?" whispered Kitty.

The child half opened her eyes, and murmured drowsily,--

"I want to ride on the elephant. It's my little wife."

"What did she say, Dora?"

"Hush! She is out of her head, I think. She has been saying I was
her little wife," whispered Dora.

"Well, that's English, anyway," replied Kitty, staring at the child.
"What do you suppose she is?"

"I don't know. There, pet, there! Hus-h!" As she spoke, Dora
carefully withdrew her arm from under the little head, where, in the
August night, the hair clung in moist golden spirals, and a soft dew
stood upon the white forehead.

"I'll stay and fan her for a while longer, she looks so warm,"
whispered Dora.

"No, no! come down and eat your supper, and help clear away. Charley
asked Mr. Burroughs to stay all night, and I guess he will. Isn't he
real splendid? Come down, and talk about him."

Sunshine slept soundly; and Dora, half reluctantly, suffered herself
to be led away by her cousin, closing the door softly behind her,
and leaving the little child to dreams of a home so far away, and
yet so near; of a vanished past, that, even in this moment,
stretched a detaining hand from out the darkness, groping for her
own; of human love immortal as heaven, and yet, for the moment, less
trustworthy than the instinct of the brutes: for if Mr. Thomas
Burroughs, instead of being a highly cultivated and intellectual
man, had been a dog of only average intelligence, 'Toinette Legrange
would already have been discovered and, before another sunset, the
slow agony devouring her mother's heart would have been relieved.

But to each of us our gifts; and Mr. Burroughs, never suspecting how
deficient were his own, strolled with his host beneath the trees,
until the appearance of the young ladies upon the porch; when he
joined them, and resumed his conversation with Dora. From army
matters, the talk soon wandered to the new prospects of Col. Blank's
heiress; and Mr. Burroughs found himself first amused, then animated
and interested, quite beyond his wont, in the young girl's plans and
expectations.

It was late when the party separated; and as the guest closed the
door of the rosy-room, and cast an admiring glance over its neat
appointments, he muttered to himself,--

"What a bright, fresh little room! and what a brighter, fresher
little girl!-as different from thy city friends, Tom Burroughs, as
the cream she pours is from the chalky composition of the hotels.
Thou dost half persuade me to turn Hoosier, and help thee convert
the wilderness to a blooming garden, O darlingest of Darlings!"

And as the young man, with a half-smile upon his lips, set sail for
the vague and beautiful shores of Dreamland, a bright, sweet face
lighted by two earnest eyes, seemed to herald him the way, and join
itself to all his fairest fancies.

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