"Yes," agreed Jack, "she is one of the most different persons I have ever met, and makes even a commonplace story throb with excitement."
"Fortunately the hall is a tiny one," said Jack. "Cousin Kate told me that it all started with two rolls of ancient paper that she acquired in the course of collecting information for the big book she wrote on the subject.
There was paper enough to do the open part of the hall, but the hanger started in by doing the closets and cupboards, and so ran out of material when only half finished. When she remonstrated with him, he told her it was all right, all she need do was send to a wall paper store for another roll. As a matter of fact it took two years to locate any more, and then she had to pay five dollars a roll and take five rolls instead of the one she wanted, in order to secure it from the little Southern shop where it had been accumulating dust for generations."
"If she had used ancient wall paper all through the house, it would have cost her a pretty penny," commented Mary.
"All the other papers are modern," said Jack, "but very well selected, and all Colonial or rather Old American in feeling, except the Japanese one in Cousin Kate's dressing-room. I liked the two-toned yellow stripe in the Sunshine Chamber particularly."
"So did I," said Mary, "and also the box spring on the bed. It was the easiest I ever slept on. I know that Deacon Mason's ancestors would have regarded it as a sinful luxury."
"I think the Sunshine Chamber, despite its simple furnishings, was more attractive than the Mahogany Chamber," said Jack. "Yet the furniture of the latter is antique and almost priceless, and the room was planned and executed to background the furniture, by one of Boston's smartest decorators."
"That's what's the matter with it," commented Mary. "The furniture is too strongly displayed and contrasts too strongly with the walls and hangings. The room is a show room rather than a sleep room."
"Most of the furniture in Cousin Kate's house is frankly modern," went on Jack, "though much of it is copied from Colonial or Early Nineteenth Century originals. But somehow even the odd pieces, with a twist toward Mission or Louis XV, fit in very well with the rest of the scheme. And the warming pans and ancient kettles, and leather fire-buckets, and andirons and shovels and tongs, so set the spirit of the place - "
"The quaintest room of all was in the log cabin," interrupted Mary. "The spinning-wheel and dash churn and old cow-bells and ancient dishes and old-fashioned iron spiders and whale-oil lantern took me back to Nantucket, and especially to Siasconset."
"Where the fishermen's cottages may be older," remarked Jack, "but the furnishings are mostly newer."
"Except the antiques made to sell," corrected Mary. "You remember how many of these we found in one of the shops, and the proprietor told us his principal business was with the natives who bought to sell again when 'foreigners' from the mainland should visit their habitations in search of Colonial treasures."
"Well, I like Cousin Kate's log cabin," said Jack, "even if it is modern, and built by Mr. Connolly, out of chestnut logs from Cousin Kate's own woods, with roof of chestnut bark, and chimney of rough stones from her own fields. But what does she use it for, or why did she build it?"
"For much the same reason," replied Mary, "that she built the Indian wigwam, with Sam-oset proudly guarding it on the left, and Squaw-with-no-feet on the right. The wigwam is a sort of monument to the Indians who once roamed through Breezy Meadows, while the log cabin keeps warm the memory of the earliest English settlers."
"I'll wager Cousin Kate never slept in the wigwam," ventured Jack.
"No," responded Mary, "but Mr. Connolly told me she often visits the log cabin, and does some of her writing there."
Cousin Kate's Log Cabin.
"That's where she wrote the Indian story," broke in Mr. Connolly, who, from the driver's seat, had caught the mention of his name.
"I remember," said Mary. "It was published in ------------'s Magazine. Samoset and a hundred of his fellows came to life, and gathering around Cousin Kate as she sat daydreaming in one of her woodland seats - "
"It was a regular barbecue," interrupted Mr. Connolly, who had failed to understand exactly what Mary referred to. "There was people out from Boston, some of them made up as Indians, and some looking like the old Pilgrim Fathers, and two oxen roasted over an open fire, and a clam bake, and dancing in the Round House and - "
"It seems to me," remarked Jack, "that Cousin Kate has a mania for building. Just look at Green Hills, that she bought to get rid of undesirable neighbors, and having bought, proceeds to rebuild and overbuild, and use as a "Welcome home" for non-payment guests from the city, who can't afford the outing that they need."
"But, think of the fun she gets out of it," said Mary. "And most of all out of her horses and cows."
"She used to keep pigs," volunteered Mr. Connolly, whose interruptions had been smiled upon.
"And so became an 'Authority on Hogs,'" commented Mary.
"How was that?" asked Jack.
"One terribly hot day in August," responded Mary, "she was reclining in the skeeter-cheater, with an electric fan doing its best to keep her cool, when up drove a carriage containing an attractive young lady with an insinuating manner, and a photographer in the rear, who introduced herself as a special writer for the Sunday Herald."
"'Miss Kate? I thought so; I have been sent out to write up your farm, now so famous and so charming, and we beg you to come along with us and pose for a few pictures" " 'By no means,' responded Cousin Kate. 'I never go out in the noon heat.'
"The attractive young lady urged and insinuated and pleaded until Cousin Kate turned the subject by asking if they had had lunch. They hadn't and were delighted to accept her hospitality for themselves and steed. After luncheon the urging and pleading and insinuating continued until Cousin Kate in despair went the rounds with them, and did their bidding. She posed beside the hay wagon, pitchfork in hand; she sat in the basket phaeton, with whip at a sporty angle; she stood by the door of the log cabin, feeding eight of her dogs; she lumbered into the flat boat on the Lily Pond, etc., etc. The young lady departed enthusiastic over their success, thanking Cousin Kate over and over again for her kindness, and assuring her that she would never forget it.
Interior of Cousin Kate's Log Cabin.
"No sooner was the young lady gone than Cousin Kate repented in sackcloth and ashes. 'If only,' she said to herself, 'the photographs would fail to come out' "
"Of course they did fail," said Jack, who saw what was coming.
"Yes," answered Mary, "they failed, and the next day at noon reappeared the young lady with another photographer, and wanted Cousin Kate to do it all over again. But this time she was adamant. Nothing could induce her. The young lady might go with the foreman and photograph the horses and cows and dogs and pigs, but Cousin Kate refused to be in it. When the foreman returned from his trip with the young lady he remarked: " 'She seemed powerfully interested in hogs.' Cousin Kate trembled. Sure enough, the very next Sunday a full page story entitled 'Cousin Kate, An Authority on Hogs,' and in the middle of the page a 'fake' portrait of her surrounded by eight pigs, all gazing affectionately at her."
"It was an outrage," said Jack indignantly.
"So Cousin Kate thought," said Mary, "particularly as they quoted her as saying 'If farmers want to make some money, they should raise pigs.'"
"She finally gave the pigs to one of the neighbors for his trouble in taking them away," explained Mr. Connolly. "They wouldn't get fat, and cost her more in grain than they would have ever been worth anyway. That was before I came with her," he added apologetically.
"I'm tired of pigs," said Mary. "I want one of those little Japanese garden boxes that Taka makes."
"They're very clever," assented Jack, "especially the one by the skeeter-cheater, with the water wheel that actually turns. Just like a little Japanese village in miniature. But after all, I like the inside of Cousin Kate's home best. That stairway leading up from the dining-room, too narrow for a wooden railing, with a railing of rope just as on shipboard."
"It's always the quaint things and the queer things that catch your eye," said Mary. "You haven't said a word about the seven miles of roads, with stone and rustic seats, and an occasional bench or table, to make comfortable every viewpoint."
"No," agreed Jack, "but not because I didn't enjoy the drives. I believe Cousin Kate knows every inch of the two hundred acres of her farm. I was surprised that she didn't have a feeding acquaintance with the pickerel in the brook."
"You ought to see the attic," laughed Mary. "It is crowded with the most interesting old objects I have ever seen, - enough furniture to transform our 'den' into a bit of old New England, and Cousin Kate hinted that the next time we come out - "
"Which I hope will be very soon," said Jack with enthusiasm. "I'm just boiling over with ideas that will help us in our own home. And I do wish we could get more story interest into it. One thing I am determined upon, you shall have a Japanese tea-house with a tiny Japanese water garden around it."
"I think I'd rather have a log cabin," said Mary, "way out in the high woods back of the house, with only an almost-hidden trail leading to it. Then when we are tired of living like everybody else, we can camp out there, just you and I alone, and cook over an open fire where the goose hangs always high."
"Agreed," said Jack. "Do you think Cousin Kate will give you one of those old warming pans, and some of the candlesticks that came from her greatgrandfather?"
Mary smiled, but did not answer, for they were already at the railway station, with barely time to make the train.