Lloydsboro Valley would have seemed a strange place to Joyce, could she have followed her letter back to Kentucky. She had known it only in midsummer, when the great trees at Locust arched their leafy branches above the avenue, to make a giant arbour of green. Now these same trees stood bleak and bare in the February twilight, almost knee-deep in drifts of snow. Instead of a green lacework of vines, icicles hung between the tall white pillars of the porch, gleaming like silver where the light from the front windows streamed out upon them, and lay in far-reaching paths across the snow.
In the long drawing-room, softly lighted by many candles and the glow of a great wood ﬁre, the Little Colonel sat on the arm of her father’s chair. He had just driven up from the station, and she held his cold ears in her warm little hands, giving them a pull now and then to emphasize what she was saying.
“The ﬁrst sleigh-ride of the season, Papa Jack. Think of that! We’ve had enough snow this wintah for any amount of coasting and sleighing if it had only lasted. That’s the trouble with Kentucky snow; it melts too fast to be any fun. But to-night everything is just right, moon and all, and the sleighs are to call for us at half-past seven, and we’re going for a glorious, gorgeous, grandiferous old sleigh-ride. At nine o’clock we’ll stop at The Beeches for refreshments.”
“Yes,” chimed in Betty from the hearth-rug, where she sat leaning against her godmother’s knee. “Mrs. Walton says we shall have music wherever we go, like little Jenny that ‘rode a cock-horse to Banbury Cross.’ She has a whole pile of horns and\ bells ready for us. It’s lovely of her to entertain both the clubs. She’s asked the Mu Chi Sigma from the Seminary as well as our Order of Hildegarde.”
“Oh, that reminds me,” exclaimed Mr. Sherman, “although I don’t know why it should—I brought a letter up from the post-ofﬁce for you, Lloyd.” Feeling in several pockets, he at last found the big square envelope he was searching for.
“What a big fat one it is,” said Lloyd, glancing at the postmark. “Phœnix, Arizona! I don’t know anybody out there.”
“Arizona is where our mines are located,” said Mr. Sherman, watching her as she tore open the envelope.
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