A Summer in a Canyon: A California Story

By Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin

Page 106

looking bravely into the good
doctor’s eyes, ‘and of course no one could make a proper speech with Jack
grinning like a Cheshire cat, but I can’t help telling you that this is
the happiest summer and the happiest birthday of my whole life, and that
I scarcely remember nowadays that I have no father and no brothers and
sisters, for I have never been alone or unhappy since you took me in
among you and Bell chose me for her friend; and I think that if you knew
how grateful I am for my beautiful summer, dear Dr. Paul and Aunt Truth,
you would be glad that you gave it to me, and I love you all, dearly,
dearly, dearly!’ Whereupon the impulsive little creature finished her
maiden speech by dashing round the table and giving Mrs. Winship one of
her ‘bear hugs,’ at which everybody laughed and rose from the table.

Laura Burton, who was thoroughly out of conceit with the world, and who
was never quite happy when other people seemed for the moment to be
preferred to herself, thought this burst of affection decidedly
theatrical, but she did not know of any one to whom she could confine her
opinions just then; indeed, she felt too depressed and out of sorts to
join in the general hilarity.

Dinner being over, Dr. Paul and the boys took the children and sauntered
up the cañon for a lazy afternoon with their books. Elsie went to sleep
in the new hammock that the doctor had hung in the sycamores back of the
girls’ sleeping-tent, and Mrs. Winship lay down for her afternoon nap.
Pancho saddled the horses for Bell and Margery, who went for a gallop.
Polly climbed into the sky-parlour to write a long letter to her mother,
and Laura was left to solitude in the sleeping-tent. Now everybody knows
that a tent at midday is not a particularly pleasant spot, and after many
a groan at the glare of the sun, which could not be tempered by any
system of shawls, and moans at the gopher-holes which she discovered
while searching for her ear-ring, and repeated consultations with the
hand-glass at brief intervals, during which she convinced herself that
she looked worse every minute,—she finally discovered a series of
alarming new spots on her neck and chin. She felt then that camping out
was a complete failure, and that she would be taken home forthwith if it
could be managed, since she saw nothing before her but day after day of
close confinement and unattractive personal appearance.

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