It was the essential calm after the storm. Caring for the dairy and working the butter into firm, sweet, tempting yellow rolls were the only tasks that troubled her
a little, but Holcroft assured her that she was learning these important duties faster than he had expected her to. She had several hours a day in which to ply her
needle, and thus was soon enabled to replenish her scanty wardrobe.
One morning at breakfast she appeared in another gown, and although its material was calico, she had the appearance to Holcroft of being unusually well dressed. He
looked pleased, but made no comment. When the cherry blossoms were fully out, an old cracked flower vase--the only one in the house--was filled with them, and they
were placed in the center of the dinner table. He looked at them and her, then smilingly remarked, "I shouldn't wonder if you enjoyed those cherry blows more than
anything else we have for dinner."
"I want something else, though. My appetite almost frightens me."
"That's famous! I needn't be ashamed of mine, then."
One evening, before the week was over, he saw her busy with a rake about the door. Last year's leaves were still scattered about, with twigs and even small boughs
wrested by the winds from the trees. He was provoked with himself that he had neglected the usual spring clearing away of litter, and a little irritated that she
should have tried to do the work herself. He left the horses at the barn and came forward directly. "Alida," he said gravely, "there's no need of your doing such
work; I don't like to see you do it."
"Why," she replied, "I've heard that women in the country often milk and take care of the chickens."
"Yes, but that's very . I wouldn't like people to think I expected such things of you."
"It's very easy work," she said smilingly, "easier than sweeping a room, though something like it. I used to do it at home when I was a girl. I think it does me
good to do something in the open air."
She was persisting, but not in a way that chafed him. Indeed, as he looked into her appealing eyes and face flushed with exercise, he felt that it would be churlish
to say another word.
"Well," he said, laughing, "it makes you look so young and rosy I guess it does you good. I suppose you'll have to have your own way."
"You know I wouldn't do this or anything else if you really didn't want me to."