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Joint Owners In Spain
by [?]

The Old Ladies’ Home, much to the sorrow of its inmates, “set back from the road.” A long, box-bordered walk led from the great door down to the old turnpike, and thickly bowering lilac-bushes forced the eye to play an unsatisfied hide-and-seek with the view. The sequestered old ladies were quite unreconciled to their leaf-hung outlook; active life was presumably over for them, and all the more did they long to “see the passing” of the little world which had usurped their places. The house itself was very old, a stately, square structure, with pillars on either side of the door, and a fanlight above. It had remained unpainted now for many years, and had softened into a mellow lichen-gray, so harmonious and pleasing in the midst of summer’s vital green, that the few artists who ever heard of Tiverton sought it out, to plant umbrella and easel in the garden, and sketch the stately relic; photographers, also, made it one of their accustomed haunts. Of the artists the old ladies disapproved, without a dissenting voice. It seemed a “shaller” proceeding to sit out there in the hot sun for no result save a wash of unreal colors on a white ground, or a few hasty lines indicating no solid reality; but the photographers were their constant delight, and they rejoiced in forming themselves into groups upon, the green, to be “took” and carried away with the house.

One royal winter’s day, there was a directors’ meeting in the great south room, the matron’s parlor, a sprat bearing the happy charm of perfect loyalty to the past, with its great fireplace, iron dogs and crane, its settle and entrancing corner cupboards. The hard-working president of the board was speaking hastily and from a full heart, conscious that another instant’s discussion might bring the tears to her eyes:–

“May I be allowed to say–it’s irrelevant, I know, but I should like the satisfaction of saying it–that this is enough to make one vow never to have anything to do with an institution of any sort, from this time forth for evermore?”

For the moment had apparently come when a chronic annoyance must be recognized as unendurable. They had borne with the trial, inmates and directors, quite as cheerfully as most ordinary people accept the inevitable; but suddenly the tension had become too great, and the universal patience snapped. Two of the old ladies, Mrs. Blair and Miss Dyer, who were settled in the Home for life, and who, before going there, had shown no special waywardness of temper, had proved utterly incapable of living in peace with any available human being; and as the Home had insufficient accommodations, neither could be isolated to fight her “black butterflies” alone. No inmate, though she were cousin to Hercules, could be given a room to herself; and the effect of this dual system on these two, possibly the most eccentric of the number, had proved disastrous in the extreme. Each had, in her own favorite fashion, “kicked over the traces,” as the matron’s son said in town-meeting (much to the joy of the village fathers), and to such purpose that, to continue the light-minded simile, very little harness was left to guide them withal. Mrs. Blair, being “high sperited,” like all the Coxes from whom she sprung, had now so tyrannized over the last of her series of room-mates, so browbeaten and intimidated her, that the latter had actually taken to her bed with a slow-fever of discouragement, announcing that “she’d rather go to the poor-farm and done with it than resk her life there another night; and she’d like to know what had become of that hunderd dollars her nephew Thomas paid down in bills to get her into the Home, for she’d be thankful to them that laid it away so antic to hand it back afore another night went over her head, so’t she could board somewheres decent till ’twas gone, and then starve if she’d got to!”