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A Country Christmas
by [?]

“A handful of good life is worth a bushel of learning.”

“Dear Emily,–I have a brilliant idea, and at once hasten to share it with you. Three weeks ago I came up here to the wilds of Vermont to visit my old aunt, also to get a little quiet and distance in which to survey certain new prospects which have opened before me, and to decide whether I will marry a millionnaire and become a queen of society, or remain ‘the charming Miss Vaughan’ and wait till the conquering hero comes.

“Aunt Plumy begs me to stay over Christmas, and I have consented, as I always dread the formal dinner with which my guardian celebrates the day.

“My brilliant idea is this. I’m going to make it a real old-fashioned frolic, and won’t you come and help me? You will enjoy it immensely I am sure, for Aunt is a character. Cousin Saul worth seeing, and Ruth a far prettier girl than any of the city rose-buds coming out this season. Bring Leonard Randal along with you to take notes for his new books; then it will be fresher and truer than the last, clever as it was.

“The air is delicious up here, society amusing, this old farmhouse full of treasures, and your bosom friend pining to embrace you. Just telegraph yes or no, and we will expect you on Tuesday.

“Ever yours,

“SOPHIE VAUGHAN.”

“They will both come, for they are as tired of city life and as fond of change as I am,” said the writer of the above, as she folded her letter and went to get it posted without delay.

Aunt Plumy was in the great kitchen making pies; a jolly old soul, with a face as ruddy as a winter apple, a cheery voice, and the kindest heart that ever beat under a gingham gown. Pretty Ruth was chopping the mince, and singing so gaily as she worked that the four-and-twenty immortal blackbirds could not have put more music into a pie than she did. Saul was piling wood into the big oven, and Sophie paused a moment on the threshold to look at him, for she always enjoyed the sight of this stalwart cousin, whom she likened to a Norse viking, with his fair hair and beard, keen blue eyes, and six feet of manly height, with shoulders that looked broad and strong enough to bear any burden.

His back was toward her, but he saw her first, and turned his flushed face to meet her, with the sudden lighting up it always showed when she approached.

“I’ve done it, Aunt; and now I want Saul to post the letter, so we can get a speedy answer.”

“Just as soon as I can hitch up, cousin;” and Saul pitched in his last log, looking ready to put a girdle round the earth in less than forty minutes.

“Well, dear, I ain’t the least mite of objection, as long as it pleases you. I guess we can stan’ it ef your city folks can. I presume to say things will look kind of sing’lar to ’em, but I s’pose that’s what they come for. Idle folks do dreadful queer things to amuse ’em;” and Aunt Plumy leaned on the rolling-pin to smile and nod with a shrewd twinkle of her eye, as if she enjoyed the prospect as much as Sophie did.

“I shall be afraid of ’em, but I’ll try not to make you ashamed of me,” said Ruth, who loved her charming cousin even more than she admired her.

“No fear of that, dear. They will be the awkward ones, and you must set them at ease by just being your simple selves, and treating them as if they were every-day people. Nell is very nice and jolly when she drops her city ways, as she must here. She will enter into the spirit of the fun at once, and I know you’ll all like her. Mr. Randal is rather the worse for too much praise and petting, as successful people are apt to be, so a little plain talk and rough work will do him good. He is a true gentleman in spite of his airs and elegance, and he will take it all in good part, if you treat him like a man and not a lion.”