The Blue North Room (1906)

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"Except Sara," interrupted Ray, but Sara went on with a rush, "And we won't have a minute's peace all winter. Anyhow, where could we put her even if we wanted her to come? No, we can't have her!"

"Mother was always very fond of Aunt Josephina," said Ray reflectively. Sara had her lips open, all ready to answer whatever Ray might say, but she shut them suddenly and the boy went on. "Aunt Josephina thought a lot of Mother, too. She used to say she knew there was always a welcome for her at Maple Hollow. It does seem a pity, Sally dear, for your mother's daughter to send word to Aunt Josephina, per my mother's son, that there isn't room for her any longer at Maple Hollow."

"I shall leave it to Willard," said Sara abruptly. "If he says to let her come, come she shall, even if Dorothy and I have to camp in the barn."

"I'm going to have a prowl around the garret," said Ray, apropos of nothing.

"And I shall get the tea ready," answered Sara briskly. "Dorothy will be home from school very soon, and I hear Uncle Joel stirring. Willard won't be back till dark, so there is no use waiting for him."

At twilight Sara decided to walk up the lane and meet Willard. She always liked to meet him thus when he had been away for a whole day. Sara thought there was nobody in the world as good and dear as Willard.

It was a dull grey November twilight; the maples in the hollow were all leafless, and the hawthorn hedge along the lane was sere and frosted; a little snow had fallen in the afternoon, and lay in broad patches on the brown fields. The world looked very dull and dispirited, and Sara sighed. She could not help thinking of the dark side of things just then. "Everything is wrong," said poor Sara dolefully. "Willard has to work like a slave, and yet with all his efforts he can barely pay the interest on the mortgage. And Ray ought to go to college. But I don't see how we can ever manage. To be sure, he won't be ready until next fall, but we won't have the money then any more than now. It would take every bit of a hundred and fifty dollars to fit him out with books and clothes, and pay for board and tuition at the academy. If he could just have a year there he could teach and earn his own way through college. But we might as well hope for the moon as one hundred and fifty dollars."

Sara sighed again. She was only eighteen, but she felt very old. Willard was nineteen, and Willard had never had a chance to be young. His father had died when he was twelve, and he had run the farm since then, he and Sara together indeed, for Sara was a capital planner and manager and worker. The little mother had died two years ago, and the household cares had all fallen on Sara's shoulders since. Sometimes, as now, they pressed very heavily, but a talk with Willard always heartened her up. Willard had his blue spells too, but Sara thought it a special Providence that their blue turns never came together. When one got downhearted the other was always ready to do the cheering up.

Sara was glad to hear Willard whistling when he drove into the lane; it was a sign he was in good spirits. He pulled up, and Sara climbed into the wagon.

"Things go all right today, Sally?" he asked cheerfully.

"There was a letter from Aunt Josephina," answered Sara, anxious to get the worst over, "and she wants to come to Maple Hollow for the winter. I thought at first we just couldn't have her, but I decided to leave it to you."

"Well, we've got a pretty good houseful already," said Willard thoughtfully. "But I suppose if Aunt Josephina wants to come we'd better have her. I always liked Aunt Josephina, and so did Mother, you know."

"I don't know where we can put her. We haven't any spare room, Will."

"Ray and I can sleep in the kitchen loft. You and Dolly take our room, and let Aunt Josephina take yours."

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