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Leaf IV.
 Sleep is one of the most and undervalued amusements known to the human race. I have never had enough yet, and every second of time that I'm not busy with something interesting, I curl up on the bed and go dream-hunting—only I sleep too hard to do much . But this torture book found that out about me, and stopped it the very first thing on page three. The command is to sleep as little as possible to keep the nerves in a good condition—"eight hours at the most, and seven would be better." What earthly good would a seven-hour nap do me? I want ten hours to sleep and twelve if I get a good tired start. To see me stagger out of my nice bed at six o'clock every morning now would the sternest heart with and at my faithfulness—to whom?  
Yes, it was the day after poor Mr. Carter's funeral that Aunt Adeline moved up here into my house and settled herself in the big south room across the landing from mine. Her furniture weighs a ton each piece, and Aunt Adeline is not light herself in . The next morning, when I went in to breakfast she sat in the "vacant chair" in a way that made me see that she was obviously trying to fill the . I am sorry she worried herself about that. Anyhow, it made me take a resolve. After breakfast, I went into the kitchen to speak to Jane.
"Jane," I said, looking past her head, "my health is not very good, and you can bring my breakfast to me in bed after this." Poor Mr. Carter always wanted breakfast on the stroke of seven. Jane has buried husbands. Also her mother is our washerwoman, and influenced by Aunt Adeline. Jane understands everything I say to her. After I had closed the door I heard a laugh that sounded like a war-whoop, and I smiled to myself. But that was before my martyrdom to this book had begun. I get up now!
But the day after I came from London I lay in bed just as long as I wanted to, and ignored the thought of the exercises and deep breathing and the icy unsympathetic tub. I couldn't even take very much interest in the lonely egg on the lonely slice of dry toast. I was thinking about things.
Hillsboro is a very little on the universe; even more peculiar than being like a hen. It is one of the oldest towns in the North, and the on it is so thick that it can't be scratched off except in spots. But when it does get stirred up to take an interest in anything, it certainly goes the pace. It hasn't had any real excitement for a long time, and I felt that it needed it. I rolled over and laughed into my pillow.
The subject of the conduct of widows is a serious one. Of all the things old Tradition is most set about, it is that; and what was to be the proper thing a million years ago this town still shall be done, and spends a good deal of its time seeing its directions carried out.
For a year after the funeral they forget about the poor , and when they do remember her they speak to and of her in the same tones of voice they used at the obsequies. Then sooner or later some neighbour is sure to see some man walk home from church with her, or hear some masculine voice in her front garden. Mr. Blake gave Mrs. Caruther's little Jessie a ride in his trap and helped her out at her mother's gate just before last Christmas, and if the poor widow hadn't acted quickly the town would have noticed them to death before he proposed to her. They were married the day after New Year's Day, and she lost lots of good friends because she didn't give them more time to talk about it.
I don't intend to run any risk of losing my friends that way, and I want them to have all the they can get out of it. I'm going to serve out doses of excitement until the dear old place is running as it did when it was a two-year old. Why get annoyed when people are interested in you? It's a compliment, after all, and gives them more to think about. I remembered the two trunks I had brought home with me, and hugged my knees up under my chin with pleasure at the thought of the town-talk they contained.
Then just as I had got the first plan well going and was deciding whether to wear the mauve crêpe de Chine or the white chiffon with the as a first dose for my friends, a sweetness came in through my window that took my breath away, and I lay still with my hand over my heart and listened. It was Billy singing right under my window, and I've never heard him do it before in all his five years. It was the dearest old-fashioned ever written, and Billy sang the words as distinctly as if he had been a boy chorister doing a difficult recitative. My heart beat so it shook the lace on my breast, like a breeze from heaven, as he took the high note and then let it go on the last few words.
"If you love me, Molly, darling,
Let your answer be a kiss!"
A confused recollection of having heard the words and tune sung by my mother when I was at the rocking age myself brought the tears to my eyes as I flew to the window and parted the curtains. If you heard a little boy-angel singing at your , wouldn't you expect a face upturned with heaven-lights all over it? Billy's face was upturned as he heard me draw up the blind, but it was like a wild Indian's with decorations of brown mud, and he held a slimy frog in one hand while he wiped his other grimy hand down the front of his blouse.
"I say, Molly, look at the frog I bringed you!" he exclaimed as he came close under the sill, which is not high from the ground. "If you put your face down to the mud and sing something to 'em, they'll come out of their holes. A comed, too, but I couldn't ketch 'em both. Lift me up, and I can put him in the waterglass on your table." He held up one muddy hand to me, and I lifted him up into my arms. From the embrace in which he and the frog and I indulged my lace and cambric came out much the worse.
"That was a lovely song you sang about 'Molly darling,' Billy," I said. "Where did you hear it?"
"That's a good frog-song, Molly, and I believe I can git a squirrel with it, too, if I sing it quite low." He began to squirm out of my arms toward the table and the glass.
"Who taught it to you, sugar-sweet?" I persisted as I poured water in on the frog under his direction.
"Nobody taught it to me. Father sings it to me when Tilly, nurse, nor you aren't there to put me to bed. He don't know no good songs like 'Black-eyed Susan' or 'Little Boy Blue.' I go to sleep quick 'cause he makes me feel tired with his slow tune what's only good for frogs and things. Get a piece of cloth to tie over the top of the glass, Molly, quick!"
I found some, and I don't know why my hand trembled as I handed it to Billy. As soon as he got it he climbed out of the window, glass, frog and all, and I saw him and the old setter go down the garden walk together in pursuit of the desired squirrel, I suppose. I closed the blinds and drew the curtains again and flung myself on my pillow. Something warm and sweet seemed to be over me in great waves, and I felt young and close up to some sort of big world-good. It was delicious, and I don't know how long I would have stayed there just feeling it if Jane hadn't brought in my letter.
He had written from London, and it was many pages of wonderful things all flavoured with me. He told me about Miss Clinton and what good friends they were, and how much he hoped she would be in Hillsboro when he got here. He said that a great many of her dainty ways reminded him of his "own slip of a girl," especially the turn of her head like a "flower on its stem." At that I got right out of bed like a jumping out of a box and looked at myself in the mirror.
There is one exercise here on page twenty that I hate worst of all. You screw up your face tight until you look like a Christmas mask to get your neck muscles , and then wobble your head round like a new-born baby until it swims. I did that one twenty extra times and all the others in proportion to make up for those two hours in bed. Hereafter I'll get up at the time directed on page three, or maybe earlier. It frightens me to think that I've got only a few weeks more to turn from a cabbage-rose into a lily. I won't let myself even think "perfect flower" and " runner." If I do, I get warm and happy all over. I try when I get hungry to think of myself in that blue muslin dress.
I haven't been really willing before to write down in this wretched volume that I took that garment to the city with me and what Madame Rene did to it—remade it into the loveliest thing I ever saw, only I wouldn't let her alter the size one single inch. I'm , as all women are at peculiar times. I think she understood, but she seemed not to, and worked a miracle on it with ribbon and lace. I've put it away on the top shelf of a cupboard, for it is a to look at it.
You can just take any recipe for a party and it will make a good début for a girl, but it takes more time to one for a widow, especially if it is for yourself. I spent all the rest of the day doing almost nothing and thinking until I felt light-headed. Finally I had just about given up any idea of a party and had decided to leak out in general society as quietly as my clothes would let me, when a real was lighted inside me.
If Tom Pollard wasn't my own first cousin I would have loved him , even if I am a week older than he. He was about the only in my childhood's days, though I don't think anybody would think of calling him at all green. He never stopped coming to see me occasionally, and Mr. Carter liked him. He was the first man to notice the white ruche I sewed in the neck of my old black silk four or five months ago, and he let me see that he noticed it out of the corner of his eyes as we were coming out of church, under Aunt Adeline's very elbow.
And when that conflagration was lighted in me about my début, Tom did it. I was sitting peaceably in my own summer-house, dressed in the summer-before-last that Jane washes and irons every day while I am deciding how to hand out the first of my trousseau to the neighbours, when Tom, in a dangerous blue-striped shirt, with a tie that melted into it in tone, jumped over my fence and landed at my side. He kissed the lace
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