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A A Woman of Yesterday

188 pages
Library of Alexandria
Where the Monk River makes its way through the mountain wall in one of the northern counties of Vermont, lies the small, white village of Haran. Although isolated and remote from the world, unknown and unconsidered beyond certain narrow limits, this village possessed, forty years ago, a local importance as being the county town, the seat also of a Young Ladies’ Seminary of some reputation, and an Orthodox church which boasted a line of ministers of exalted piety and scholarly attainment. The incumbent in the year 1869 was the Rev. Samuel Mallison. His pastorate had now extended over twenty years, and he was reverenced far beyond the bounds of his parish for learning and godliness. It was a June Saturday night in that year, and the hour was late. In the low-roofed garret of the parsonage of Haran the figure of a tall, thin girl with a candle in her hand moved swiftly and softly to the head of a steep flight of stairs, which gave access to the garret from the floor below. Some one had called her name. “Yes, father,” she returned, and a certain vibration of restrained feeling was perceptible in her voice, “it was I. I am sorry I disturbed you. Were you asleep?” All was dark below, and no person could be seen, but again came the man’s voice. “What were you doing, Anna?” was the question. “Only putting away—” here the girl faltered and stopped speaking. The candle in her hand shook, and threw a strange, wavering shadow of her shape upon the long, rough timbers of the wall. The roof was so low where she stood that of necessity her head was bent sharply forward. The outline of her shoulders was meagre and angular; her arms and body had neither the grace of a girl nor the curves of a woman; they were simply lean and long. There was something of loftiness, and even of beauty, in the face, but the cheeks were hollow, the lines all lacking in softness. The ensemble was grave and strenuous for a girl of eighteen.