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PAGE 3

Daily Bread
by [?]

So this St. Victoria’s day was a great day of preparation for Huldah, if she had only known its name, as she did not. For she was of the kind which prepares in time, not of the kind that is caught out when the company come with the work half done. And as John started on his collection beat that morning at about the hour Robert, in town, kissed Mary good-by, Huldah stood on the step with him, and looked with satisfaction on the gathering snow, because it would make better sleighing the next day for her father and mother to come over. She charged him not to forget her box of raisins when he came back, and to ask at the express if anything came up from town, bade him good-by, and turned back into the house, not wholly dissatisfied to be almost alone. She washed her baby, gave him his first lunch and put him to bed. Then, with the coast fairly clear,–what woman does not enjoy a clear coast, if it only be early enough in the morning?–she dipped boldly and wisely into her flour-barrel, stripped her plump round arms to their work, and began on the pie-crust which was to appear to-morrow in the fivefold forms of apple, cranberry, Marlboro’, mince, and squash,–careful and discriminating in the nice chemistry of her mixtures and the nice manipulations of her handicraft, but in nowise dreading the issue. A long, active, lively morning she had of it. Not dissatisfied with the stages of her work, step by step she advanced, stage by stage she attained of the elaborate plan which was well laid out in her head, but, of course, had never been intrusted to words, far less to tell-tale paper. From the oven at last came the pies,–and she was satisfied with the color; from the other oven came the turkey, which she proposed to have cold,–as a relay, or piece de resistance, for any who might not be at hand at the right moment for dinner. Into the empty oven went the clove-blossoming ham, which, as it boiled, had given the least appetizing odor to the kitchen. In the pretty moulds in the woodshed stood the translucent cranberry hardening to its fixed consistency. In other moulds the obedient calf’s foot already announced its willingness and intention to “gell” as she directed. Huldah’s decks were cleared again, her kitchen table fit to cut out “work” upon,–all the pans and plates were put away, which accumulate so mysteriously where cooking is going forward; on its nail hung the weary jigger, on its hook the spicy grater, on the roller a fresh towel. Everything gave sign of victory, the whole kitchen looking only a little nicer than usual. Huldah herself was dressed for the afternoon, and so was the baby; and nobody but as acute observers as you and I would have known that she had been in action all along the line and had won the battle at every point, when two o’clock came, the earliest moment at which her husband ever returned.

Then for the first time it occurred to Huldah to look out doors and see how fast the snow was gathering. She knew it was still falling. But the storm was a quiet one, and she had had too much to do to be gaping out of the windows. She went to the shed door, and to her amazement saw that the north wood-pile was wholly drifted in! Nor could she, as she stood, see the fences of the roadway!

Huldah ran back into the house, opened the parlor door and drew up the curtain, to see that there were indeed no fences on the front of the house to be seen. On the northwest, where the wind had full sweep,–between her and the barn, the ground was bare. But all that snow–and who should say how much more?–was piled up in front of her; so that unless Huldah had known every landmark, she would not have suspected that any road was ever there. She looked uneasily out at the northwest windows, but she could not see an inch to windward: dogged snow–snow–snow–as if it would never be done.