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Rainbow Valley

XXXIV. Una Visits The Hill
Una went upstairs. Carl and Faith were already on their way through the early
moonlight to Rainbow Valley, having heard therefrom the elfin lilt of Jerry's jews-
harp and having guessed that the Blythes were there and fun afoot. Una had no
wish to go. She sought her own room first where she sat down on her bed and
had a little cry. She did not want anybody to come in her dear mother's place.
She did not want a stepmother who would hate her and make her father hate her.
But father was so desperately unhappy--and if she could do any anything to
make him happier she MUST do it. There was only one thing she could do--and
she had known the moment she had left the study that she must do it. But it was
a very hard thing to do.
After Una cried her heart out she wiped her eyes and went to the spare room. It
was dark and rather musty, for the blind had not been drawn up nor the window
opened for a long time. Aunt Martha was no fresh-air fiend. But as nobody ever
thought of shutting a door in the manse this did not matter so much, save when
some unfortunate minister came to stay all night and was compelled to breathe
the spare room atmosphere.
There was a closet in the spare room and far back in the closet a gray silk dress
was hanging. Una went into the closet and shut the door, went down on her
knees and pressed her face against the soft silken folds. It had been her mother's
wedding-dress. It was still full of a sweet, faint, haunting perfume, like lingering
love. Una always felt very close to her mother there--as if she were kneeling at
her feet with head in her lap. She went there once in a long while when life was
TOO hard.
"Mother," she whispered to the gray silk gown, "_I_ will never forget you, mother,
and I'll ALWAYS love you best. But I have to do it, mother, because father is so
very unhappy. I know you wouldn't want him to be unhappy. And I will be very
good to her, mother, and try to love her, even if she is like Mary Vance said
stepmothers always were."
Una carried some fine, spiritual strength away from her secret shrine. She slept
peacefully that night with the tear stains still glistening on her sweet, serious, little
face.
The next afternoon she put on her best dress and hat. They were shabby
enough. Every other little girl in the Glen had new clothes that summer except
Faith and Una. Mary Vance had a lovely dress of white embroidered lawn, with
scarlet silk sash and shoulder bows. But to-day Una did not mind her
shabbiness. She only wanted to be very neat. She washed her face carefully.
She brushed her black hair until it was as smooth as satin. She tied her
shoelaces carefully, having first sewed up two runs in her one pair of good
stockings. She would have liked to black her shoes, but she could not find any
blacking. Finally, she slipped away from the manse, down through Rainbow
Valley, up through the whispering woods, and out to the road that ran past the
house on the hill. It was quite a long walk and Una was tired and warm when she
got there.
 
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