Jack and Jill
8. Merry and Molly
Farmer Grant was a thrifty, well-to-do man, anxious to give his children greater
advantages than he had enjoyed, and to improve the fine place of which he was justly
proud. Mrs. Grant was a notable housewife, as ambitious and industrious as her
husband, but too busy to spend any time on the elegancics of life, though always ready
to help the poor and sick like a good neighbor and Christian woman. The three sons--
Tom, Dick, and Harry--were big fellows of seventeen, nineteen, and twenty-one; the first
two on the farm, and the elder in a store just setting up for himself. Kind-hearted but
rough-mannered youths, who loved Merry very much, but teased her sadly about her
"fine lady airs," as they called her dainty ways and love of beauty.
Merry was a thoughtful girl, full of innocent fancies, refined tastes, and romantic dreams,
in which no one sympathized at home, though she was the pet of the family. It did
seem, to an outsider, as if the delicate little creature had got there by mistake, for she
looked very like a tea-rose in a field of clover and dandelions, whose highest aim in life
was to feed cows and help make root beer.
When the girls talked over the new society, it pleased Merry very much, and she
decided not only to try and love work better, but to convert her family to a liking for
pretty things, as she called her own more cultivated tastes.
"I will begin at once, and show them that I don't mean to shirk my duty, though I do want
to be nice," thought she, as she sat at supper one night and looked about her, planning
her first move.
Not a very cheering prospect for a lover of the beautiful, certainly, for the big kitchen,
though as neat as wax, had nothing lovely in it, except a red geranium blooming at the
window. Nor were the people all that could be desired, in some respects, as they sat
about the table shovelling in pork and beans with their knives, drinking tea from their
saucers, and laughing out with a hearty "Haw, haw," when anything amused them. Yet
the boys were handsome, strong specimens, the farmer a hale, benevolent-looking
man, the housewife a pleasant, sharp-eyed matron, who seemed to find comfort in
looking often at the bright face at her elbow, with the broad forehead, clear eyes, sweet
mouth, and quiet voice that came like music in among the loud masculine ones, or the
quick, nervous tones of a woman always in a hurry.
Merry's face was so thoughtful that evening that her father observed it, for, when at
home, he watched her as one watches a kitten, glad to see anything so pretty, young,
and happy, at its play.
"Little daughter has got something on her mind, I mistrust. Come and tell father all about
it," he said, with a sounding slap on his broad knee as he turned his chair from the table