Page:Hopkinson Smith--armchair at the inn.djvu/222

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“The wife was different. Although she was of the same peasant stock, a strain of gentleness and refinement had somehow crept in. In everything she was his opposite—a short woman with narrow shoulders and small waist; a low, soft voice, and a temper so kindly and even that her neighbors loved her as much as they hated her husband. And then there was a daughter—no sons—just one daughter. With her my acquaintance with the family began, and but for this girl I should have known nothing of what I am going to tell you.

“It all came about through a little fête my father gave to which the neighbors and some of the land-owners were invited. You know all about these festivities, of course. Something of the kind must be done every year, and my dear father never forgot what he owed his people, and always did his best to make them happy. On this occasion the idea came into my head that it would be something of a novelty if I arranged a dance of the young people with a May-pole and garlands, after one of the Watteau paintings in our home; something that had never been done before, but which, if done at all, must be carried out properly. So I sent to Paris to get the costumes,