The Story Girl
A Queen Of Hearts
I wakened shortly after sunrise. The pale May sunshine was showering through the
spruces, and a chill, inspiring wind was tossing the boughs about.
"Felix, wake up," I whispered, shaking him.
"What's the matter?" he murmured reluctantly.
"It's morning. Let's get up and go down and out. I can't wait another minute to see the
places father has told us of."
We slipped out of bed and dressed, without arousing Dan, who was still slumbering
soundly, his mouth wide open, and his bed-clothes kicked off on the floor. I had hard
work to keep Felix from trying to see if he could "shy" a marble into that tempting open
mouth. I told him it would waken Dan, who would then likely insist on getting up and
accompanying us, and it would be so much nicer to go by ourselves for the first time.
Everything was very still as we crept downstairs. Out in the kitchen we heard some one,
presumably Uncle Alec, lighting the fire; but the heart of house had not yet begun to beat
for the day.
We paused a moment in the hall to look at the big "Grandfather" clock. It was not going,
but it seemed like an old, familiar acquaintance to us, with the gilt balls on its three
peaks; the little dial and pointer which would indicate the changes of the moon, and the
very dent in its wooden door which father had made when he was a boy, by kicking it in a
fit of naughtiness.
Then we opened the front door and stepped out, rapture swelling in our bosoms. There
was a rare breeze from the south blowing to meet us; the shadows of the spruces were
long and clear-cut; the exquisite skies of early morning, blue and wind-winnowed, were
over us; away to the west, beyond the brook field, was a long valley and a hill purple with
firs and laced with still leafless beeches and maples.
Behind the house was a grove of fir and spruce, a dim, cool place where the winds were
fond of purring and where there was always a resinous, woodsy odour. On the further
side of it was a thick plantation of slender silver birches and whispering poplars; and
beyond it was Uncle Roger's house.
Right before us, girt about with its trim spruce hedge, was the famous King orchard, the
history of which was woven into our earliest recollections. We knew all about it, from
father's descriptions, and in fancy we had roamed in it many a time and oft.
It was now nearly sixty years since it had had its beginning, when Grandfather King
brought his bride home. Before the wedding he had fenced off the big south meadow that