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31. XXXI. AUNT MIRANDA'S APOLOGY
When Rebecca alighted from the train at Maplewood and hurried to the post-office where the stage was standing, what was her joy to see uncle Jerry Cobb holding the horses' heads.
"The reg'lar driver 's sick," he explained, "and when they sent for me, thinks I to myself, my drivin' days is over, but Rebecky won't let the grass grow under her feet when she gits her aunt Jane's letter, and like as not I'll ketch her to-day; or, if she gits delayed, to-morrow for certain. So here I be jest as I was more 'n six year ago. Will you be a real lady passenger, or will ye sit up in front with me?"
Emotions of various sorts were all struggling together in the old man's face, and the two or three bystanders were astounded when they saw the handsome, stately girl fling herself on Mr. Cobb's dusty shoulder crying like a child. "Oh, uncle Jerry!" she sobbed; "dear uncle Jerry! It's all so long ago, and so much has happened, and we've grown so old, and so much is going to happen that I'm fairly frightened."
"There, there, lovey," the old man whispered comfortingly, "we'll be all alone on the stage, and we'll talk things over 's we go along the road an' mebbe they won't look so bad."
Every mile of the way was as familiar to Rebecca as to uncle Jerry; every watering-trough, grindstone, red barn, weather-vane, duck-pond, and sandy brook. And all the time she was looking backward to the day, seemingly so long ago, when she sat on the box seat for the first time, her legs dangling in the air, too short to reach the footboard. She could smell the big bouquet of lilacs, see the pink-flounced parasol, feel the stiffness of the starched buff calico and the hated prick of the black and yellow porcupine quills. The drive was taken almost in silence, but it was a sweet, comforting silence both to uncle Jerry and the girl.
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