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Harper's Round Table, June 25, 1895

Produced by Annie McGuire

[Illustration: HARPER'S ROUND TABLE]

Copyright, 1895, by HARPER & BROTHERS. All Rights Reserved.

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It was a large house, standing well back from the broad highway that leads from Brenton to Pelham, so far back, indeed, and at the end of such a long shady drive, that it could not be seen for some few minutes after turning in from the road.

The approach was pretty, the avenue winding through the trees, with an occasional glimpse of the meadows beyond. The road forked where the trees ended, and encircled the lawn, or the "heater-piece" as the family called it, it being in the exact shape of a flatiron. The house stood on high ground, and there were no trees very near.

It was a white house with green blinds, solid and substantial looking. The roof of the piazza was upheld by tall white columns, and vines growing at either end relieved the bareness. On the southern side of the house a small conservatory had been added. On the other side the ground sloped to the Charles River, though in summer one could see only the water from the upper windows, because of the trees which grew so thick upon the banks.

This was Oakleigh, the home of the Franklins, so named because of a giant oak-tree which spread its huge branches not far from the back of the house.

As to the Franklins, there were five of them, and they were all assembled on the front porch.

Though it was the last day of April, spring was unusually early for Massachusetts this year, and the day was warm and clear, suggesting summer and delightful possibilities of out-door fun.

Edith, the eldest, sat with her work. It was unusual work for a girl of barely sixteen. A large old-fashioned basket was on the floor by her side, with piles of children's clothes in it, and she was slowly and laboriously darning a stocking over a china egg.

The children had no mother, and a good deal devolved upon Edith.

Jack and Cynthia, the twins, came next in age, and they were just fourteen. They looked alike though Jack was much the taller of the two, and his hair did not curl so tightly as Cynthia's. She sat on the steps of the piazza. Her sailor hat was cast on the ground at her feet, and her pretty golden-brown hair was, as usual, somewhat awry.

It was one of the trials of Edith's life that Cynthia's hair would not keep smooth.

Jack lay at full length on the grass, sometimes flat on his back, staring at the sky, sometimes rolling over, the more easily to address his sisters.

Jack had a project in his mind, and was very much in earnest. Cynthia, of course, was already on his side--she had known of it from the first moment the idea popped into his head, but Edith had just been told, and she needed convincing.

Janet and Willy, "the children," were playing at the other end of the porch. They were only six and five, and did not count in the family discussions.

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