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The Golden Road

VI. Great-Aunt Eliza's Visit
It was a diamond winter day in February--clear, cold, hard, brilliant. The sharp
blue sky shone, the white fields and hills glittered, the fringe of icicles around the
eaves of Uncle Alec's house sparkled. Keen was the frost and crisp the snow
over our world; and we young fry of the King households were all agog to enjoy
life--for was it not Saturday, and were we not left all alone to keep house?
Aunt Janet and Aunt Olivia had had their last big "kill" of market poultry the day
before; and early in the morning all our grown-ups set forth to Charlottetown, to
be gone the whole day. They left us many charges as usual, some of which we
remembered and some of which we forgot; but with Felicity in command none of
us dared stray far out of line. The Story Girl and Peter came over, of course, and
we all agreed that we would haste and get the work done in the forenoon, that we
might have an afternoon of uninterrupted enjoyment. A taffy-pull after dinner and
then a jolly hour of coasting on the hill field before supper were on our
programme. But disappointment was our portion. We did manage to get the taffy
made but before we could sample the result satisfactorily, and just as the girls
were finishing with the washing of the dishes, Felicity glanced out of the window
and exclaimed in tones of dismay,
"Oh, dear me, here's Great-aunt Eliza coming up the lane! Now, isn't that too
mean?"
We all looked out to see a tall, gray-haired lady approaching the house, looking
about her with the slightly puzzled air of a stranger. We had been expecting
Great-aunt Eliza's advent for some weeks, for she was visiting relatives in
Markdale. We knew she was liable to pounce down on us any time, being one of
those delightful folk who like to "surprise" people, but we had never thought of
her coming that particular day. It must be confessed that we did not look forward
to her visit with any pleasure. None of us had ever seen her, but we knew she
was very deaf, and had very decided opinions as to the way in which children
should behave.
"Whew!" whistled Dan. "We're in for a jolly afternoon. She's deaf as a post and
we'll have to split our throats to make her hear at all. I've a notion to skin out."
"Oh, don't talk like that, Dan," said Cecily reproachfully. "She's old and lonely and
has had a great deal of trouble. She has buried three husbands. We must be
kind to her and do the best we can to make her visit pleasant."
"She's coming to the back door," said Felicity, with an agitated glance around the
kitchen. "I told you, Dan, that you should have shovelled the snow away from the
front door this morning. Cecily, set those pots in the pantry quick--hide those
 
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