The Story Girl
The Tale Of The Rainbow Bridge
Felix, so far as my remembrance goes, never attained to success in the Ordeal of Bitter
Apples. He gave up trying after awhile; and he also gave up praying about it, saying in
bitterness of spirit that there was no use in praying when other fellows prayed against you
out of spite. He and Peter remained on bad terms for some time, however.
We were all of us too tired those nights to do any special praying. Sometimes I fear our
"regular" prayers were slurred over, or mumbled in anything but reverent haste. October
was a busy month on the hill farms. The apples had to be picked, and this work fell
mainly to us children. We stayed home from school to do it. It was pleasant work and
there was a great deal of fun in it; but it was hard, too, and our arms and backs ached
roundly at night. In the mornings it was very delightful; in the afternoons tolerable; but in
the evenings we lagged, and the laughter and zest of fresher hours were lacking.
Some of the apples had to be picked very carefully. But with others it did not matter; we
boys would climb the trees and shake the apples down until the girls shrieked for mercy.
The days were crisp and mellow, with warm sunshine and a tang of frost in the air,
mingled with the woodsy odours of the withering grasses. The hens and turkeys prowled
about, pecking at windfalls, and Pat made mad rushes at them amid the fallen leaves. The
world beyond the orchard was in a royal magnificence of colouring, under the vivid blue
autumn sky. The big willow by the gate was a splendid golden dome, and the maples that
were scattered through the spruce grove waved blood-red banners over the sombre cone-
bearers. The Story Girl generally had her head garlanded with their leaves. They became
her vastly. Neither Felicity nor Cecily could have worn them. Those two girls were of a
domestic type that assorted ill with the wildfire in Nature's veins. But when the Story Girl
wreathed her nut brown tresses with crimson leaves it seemed, as Peter said, that they
grew on her--as if the gold and flame of her spirit had broken out in a coronal, as much a
part of her as the pale halo seems a part of the Madonna it encircles.
What tales she told us on those far-away autumn days, peopling the russet arcades with
folk of an elder world. Many a princess rode by us on her palfrey, many a swaggering
gallant ruffled it bravely in velvet and plume adown Uncle Stephen's Walk, many a
stately lady, silken clad, walked in that opulent orchard!
When we had filled our baskets they had to be carried to the granary loft, and the contents
stored in bins or spread on the floor to ripen further. We ate a good many, of course,
feeling that the labourer was worthy of his hire. The apples from our own birthday trees
were stored in separate barrels inscribed with our names. We might dispose of them as
we willed. Felicity sold hers to Uncle Alec's hired man--and was badly cheated to boot,
for he levanted shortly afterwards, taking the apples with him, having paid her only half
her rightful due. Felicity has not gotten over that to this day.
Cecily, dear heart, sent most of hers to the hospital in town, and no doubt gathered in
therefrom dividends of gratitude and satisfaction of soul, such as can never be purchased