|CHAPTER II. -- FLORA AT HOME.|
She was young, and she soon wearied of her sombre thoughts, which could avail her nothing, and she glanced at the houses on each side of her own. There was a marked difference. It was not in the style of the building, for hers was the most attractive. It was, however, in the general appearance, and Flora felt she would like to begin at the topmost shingle and pull her home down to the ground. But the thought came to her that then she would have no home. She knew there was no room for her with Aunt Sarah, who was, no doubt, at this very moment enjoying her absence.
"No, indeed, I do not want to live with Aunt Sarah," she thought; and then began to wonder vaguely if she had not better go to work and try to make her present home a more congenial one.
The more she thought about it, the better the idea pleased her. Just as she was endeavoring to decide upon something definite to do, she was startled by seeing a board in the fence, just behind her, pushed aside. Before she could move, a round, fat, little face was thrust through the opening, and a pair of inquisitive brown eyes were
"Well, and who are you? and what do you mean by coming in here that way?" asked Flora, amused at the odd-looking little creature.
"I'm Jem," answered the midget, coolly; "and I didn't mean nuffing."
"Jem? I thought you were a girl," said Flora, looking at the quaint, short-waisted dress, that reached almost down to the copper toed shoes, and the funny, little, short, white apron, tied just under the fat arms, which were squeezed into sleeves much too tight for them.
"So I am a girl," answered Jem, indignantly; "don't you see I've gut a napron on wif pockets in?" And she thrust her chubby little fingers into one of them.
"But you said your name was 'Jem,' and that's a boy's name," persisted Flora, enjoying her odd companion.
"'Tain't none," was the sententious reply; "it's short for `Jemima'; that's what my really name is."
"Well, Jemima, what do you want in here?"
"Nothing? Well, that isn't in here."
"There ain't anythin' else's I can see," retorted Jem, turning down the corners of her mouth very far, and looking about disdainfully.
Flora laughed outright at this, but her visitor's countenance lost none of its solemnity.
"You do not seem to admire my yard, Jem."
"Don't see anythin' to remire," retorted Jem. "You'd just ought to peep in ours," and she moved over to the fence, and pulling away the board with a triumphant air, motioned Flora to look. Flora looked, but the first thing she saw was not the yard, but the young girl with whom she had been talking not an hour since.