PART IV. The White Mulberry Tree
1. CHAPTER I
The French Church, properly the Church of Sainte-Agnes, stood
upon a hill. The high, narrow, red-brick building, with its tall
steeple and steep roof, could be seen for miles across the wheatfields,
though the little town of Sainte-Agnes was completely hidden away
at the foot of the hill. The church looked powerful and triumphant
there on its eminence, so high above the rest of the landscape,
with miles of warm color lying at its feet, and by its position and
setting it reminded one of some of the churches built long ago in
the wheat-lands of middle France.
Late one June afternoon Alexandra Bergson was driving along one
of the many roads that led through the rich French farming country
to the big church. The sunlight was shining directly in her face,
and there was a blaze of light all about the red church on the
hill. Beside Alexandra lounged a strikingly exotic figure in a
tall Mexican hat, a silk sash, and a black velvet jacket sewn with
silver buttons. Emil had returned only the night before, and his
sister was so proud of him that she decided at once to take him up
to the church supper, and to make him wear the Mexican costume he
had brought home in his trunk. "All the girls who have stands are
going to wear fancy costumes," she argued, "and some of the boys.
Marie is going to tell fortunes, and she sent to Omaha for a Bohemian
dress her father brought back from a visit to the old country.
If you wear those clothes, they will all be pleased. And you must
take your guitar. Everybody ought to do what they can to help
along, and we have never done much. We are not a talented family."
The supper was to be at six o'clock, in the basement of the church,
and afterward there would be a fair, with charades and an auction.
Alexandra had set out from home early, leaving the house to Signa
and Nelse Jensen, who were to be married next week. Signa had
shyly asked to have the wedding put off until Emil came home.