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A Pilgrim Maid by Marion Ames Taggart

And Constance kissed her own hand by way of her reward


Brushing,

and braiding, and coiling skilfully, Constance wound the fine, yet heavy locks around Priscilla's head.

Then with deft fingers she pulled, and patted and fastened into curves above her brow sundry strands which she had left free for that purpose, and fell back to admire her results.

"Well, my Prissy!" Constance cried, rapturously clapping her hands. "Wait till you are dressed, and I let you see this in the glass yonder. No, not now! Only when the bridal gown is donned! My word, Priscilla Mullins, but John Alden will think that he never saw, nor loved you until this day! Which is as we would wish him to feel. They may forbid us curling and waving our locks in this plantation, but no one ever yet, as I truly believe, could make laws to keep girls from increasing their charms! Your hair brought down and shaken loose thus around your face, my Pris, is far, far more lovely, and adorns you better than any curling tongs could do it. Because, after all, nature fits faces and hair together, and my waving hair would not be half so becoming to you as your own straight hair, thus crowning your brow. Constance Hopkins, my girl, I am proud of your skill as lady's maid!" And Constance kissed her own hand by way of her reward, as she went to the corner and gingerly lifted the white gown that waited there for her handling.

It was a soft, fragile thing, made of white stuff from the East, embroidered

all over with sprigs of small flowers. It had been Constance's mother's, and had come from England at the bottom of her own chest, safe hidden, together with other beautiful fabrics that had been Constance's mother's, from the condemnatory eyes of Stephen Hopkins's second wife.

"It troubles me to wear this flimsy loveliness, Constance," said Priscilla, as the gown drifted down over her shoulders. "And to think it was thy mother's."

"It will not harm it to lie over your true heart to-day, dearest Pris, when you vow to love John forever. It seems to me as though lifeless things drew something of value to themselves from contact with goodness and love. Pris, it is really most exquisite! And that deep ruffle that I sewed around it at the bottom makes it exactly long enough for you, yet it leaves it still right for me to wear, should I ever want to, only by ripping it off again! Oh, Priscilla, dear, you are lovely enough, and this embroidery is fine enough, for you to be a London bride!"

Once more Constance fell back to admire at the same time Priscilla and her achievements.

"I think, perhaps, it may be wrong, as they tell us it is, to care too much for outward adornment, Con dear. Not but that I like it, and love you for being so unselfish, so generous to me," said Priscilla, with her sweet gravity of manner.

"Constance, if only my mother and father, and Joseph--but of course my parents I mourn more than my brother--were here to bless me to-day!"


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