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Mehitable Lamb
by [?]

Hannah Maria Green sat on the north door-step, and sewed over and over a seam in a sheet. She had just gotten into her teens, and she was tall for her age, although very slim. She wore a low-necked, and short-sleeved, brown delaine dress. That style of dress was not becoming, but it was the fashion that summer. Her neck was very thin, and her collar-bones showed. Her arms were very long and small and knobby. Hannah Maria’s brown hair was parted from her forehead to the back of her neck, braided in two tight braids, crossed in a flat mass at the back of her head, and surmounted by a large green-ribbon bow. Hannah Maria kept patting the bow to be sure it was on.

It was very cool there on the north door-step. Before it lay the wide north yard full of tall waving grass, with some little cinnamon rose-bushes sunken in it. Hardly anybody used the north door, so there was no path leading to it.

It was nearly four o’clock. Hannah Maria bent her sober freckled face over the sheet, and sewed and sewed. Her mother had gone to the next town to do some shopping, and bidden her to finish the seam before she returned. Hannah Maria was naturally obedient; moreover, her mother was a decided woman, so she had been very diligent; in fact the seam was nearly sewed.

It was very still–that is, there were only the sounds that seem to make a part of stillness. The birds twittered, the locusts shrilled, and the tall clock in the entry ticked. Hannah Maria was not afraid, but she was lonesome. Once in a while she looked around and sighed. She placed a pin a little way in advance on the seam, and made up her mind that when she had sewed to that place she would go into the house and get a slice of cake. Her mother had told her that she might cut a slice from the one-egg cake which had been made that morning. But before she had sewed to the pin, little Mehitable Lamb came down the road. She was in reality some years younger than Hannah Maria, but not so much younger as Hannah Maria considered her. The girl on the door-step surveyed the one approaching down the road with a friendly and patronizing air.

“Holloa!” she sang out, when Mehitable was within hailing distance.

“Holloa!” answered back Mehitable’s little, sweet, deferential voice.

She came straight on, left the road, and struck across the grassy north yard to Hannah Maria’s door-step. She was a round, fair little girl; her auburn hair was curled in a row of neat, smooth “water curls” around her head. She wore a straw hat with a blue ribbon, and a blue-and-white checked gingham dress; she also wore white stockings and patent leather “ankle-ties.” Her dress was low-necked and short-sleeved, like Hannah Maria’s, but her neck and arms were very fair and chubby.

Mehitable drew her big china doll in a doll’s carriage. Hannah Maria eyed her with seeming disdain and secret longing. She herself had given up playing with dolls, her mother thought her too big; but they had still a fascination for her, and the old love had not quite died out of her breast.

“Mother said I might come over and stay an hour and a half,” said Mehitable.

Hannah Maria smiled hospitably. “I’m keepin’ house,” said she. “Mother’s gone to Lawrence.”

Mehitable took her doll out of the carriage with a motherly air, and sat down on the door-step with it in her lap.

“How much longer you goin’ to play with dolls?” inquired Hannah Maria.

“I don’t know,” replied Mehitable, with a little shamed droop of her eyelids.

“You can’t when you get a little bigger, anyhow. Is that a new dress she’s got on?”

“Yes; Aunt Susy made it out of a piece of her blue silk.”