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THE Fijrttorse lLíØt ? <$ttibt.



THE BORROWING NEIGHBOUR. Mrs. Baxter, a gentlewoman who had seen better days, and lived now in a somewhat I mixed' suburb of Leeds, was lying on a couch in her coot and shaded NiMAng-rwm. An odour of camphor pervaded the rooin. I The pale face appearing from beuehth the wfckebandage gave ample evidence that she was suffering the torture of a severe headache. II, ber,,movin a fan with a gentle motion, Sat an elderly lady, Mr. Baxter's mother, who bad at- rived on a visit that day. There was a sharp click of the gate, and then the w ell-known sound of slipshod feet across the kitchen floor. Oh, dear! I do believe Mrs. Goodwin has come to borrow something again moaned the sick woman, making a feeble attempt to rise. The door, which had been left ajar, was pushed open, and a taU, gaunt figure appeared. 4 Good afternoon, Mrs. Baxter. I do declare, if you havnt got one of them tiresome headaches again! Had it all day ?' The caller spoke in a rasping tone, with a quick utterance. You ought to take some hot tea, and soak your feet, and have a good sweat. I don't think a dose of castor oil wouldn't come pmis4 either.' Without stopping for a reply, or an introduction to the elderly stranger, she continued in a tone which touched every nerve in Mrs. Baxter's body, I I've just had word that Mrs. Springer and her sister from- Bradford were coming to spend the afternoon with me, and me without a bit of cake in the house! So I just let to work to make some, and found I was right out of peel and baking powder, so I just run over to borrow lOme.' Mrs. Baxter made an effort to rise. I Don't trouble now; you lay st-ill. I can got it. I know where you keep it!' And without other vo or& she started for the pantry. Mrs. Baxter knew that honesty was one of Mrs. Goodwin's redeeming points, so she made no effort to detain her. Having procured a sufficiency of both powder and peet, Mrs: Goodwin pulled her apron over her head again, and with a parting injunction to Mrs. Baxter to 'keep her head cool, and above all to keep her nerves quiet: ahe hastened home. The next morning, as Mrs. Baxter was busy about her household duties, and chatting with her mother, Mrs. Goodwin again appeared. She carried in her hand an empty cup. So you are better again ? Take any strong tea V Without pausing for a reply she continued, I Well, we had a real nice afternoon yesterday, and my sweet cake baked beautiful, if I do say it. I was just getting ready to make some ginger-bread, which our folks like so, and found myself right out of Demerara sugar, so I just stepped in to borrow a little tiU my groceries come home to-morrow. Mr. Goodwin called in Leeds market this morning to order them.' Mrs. Baxter quietly proceeded to fill the cup from her own well-filled store, Mrs. Goodwin indulging meanwhile in gossip, which, although not in the least malicious, was exceedingly distasteful to Mn. Baxter. So that is your husband's mother, is it?' she ex- claimed, after being introduced. Come unexpected, p'raps ?' 'No—not unexpectedly. The visit has been a pleasant anticipation for a fortnight,' replied Mrs. Baxter. Why, you didn't tell me she was comin'! Well, I must hurry. If I sit here talkin' all day I shall never get my ginger-bread made.' And soon the click of the gate announced her departure. Mrs. Baxter threw herself into a chair with an expression of hopelessness which surprised her mother. J What shall I do? she exclaimed. 'That woman worries me to death with her borrowing. She is a good, honest creature, but hasn't the least idea how she troubles me. I don't want to be disobliging, or refuse her a favour. It's just so all the time. No sooner do 1 get about my sewing, or writing, or taking a nap, than I have to jump up to wait on her for something she has come to borrow. And that isn't all, either. Sometimes she forgets to return borrowed articles. I don't wonder at it, she borrows so much. And frequently the article she returns is not as good 88 Inim Sometimes I cant use her flour or butter. I dislike to Say anything to hurt her feelings, Or to offend her, so I have borne it ever since I have lived here'—oVer twiyyeart l What shaft I do?' Her mother aat silent for a few moments. Thai she said: I know how to feel for you.' I once had a borrow- ing neighbour. I can tell you what I did, but perhaps you win not approve of my course.' Do teU me ? exclaimed Mrs. Baxter, eagerly. This neigbbbur was a good enough sort of woman,' said her mother, but she would borrow everything, from a piece of soap to a perambulator. Sometimes she forgot to bring them back, and sometimes they weren't worth much if she did. I remember I began besetting aside all articles of doubtful quality, such as BftUr, butter, and when She came to borrow such thhigfe again, I gave theim to her. One morning die saldtoine: '"Seems to me that last butter was not as good as you commonly have, was it P" Said I, as calmly as I.could, considering I was alarmed lest she should be provoked: ."1 think not, It's the same butter you brought b»ck to me three days ago. I didn't need to use it. I thought perhaps! ^ou liked that sort, so I put it on one side against the time you wanted some more. She looked thunderstruck. Was that what you did with the last near I htought back?"' and her tone was very suspicious. "said 1, as meek as a bmb. And the tea, too f' "Yea* tays I, though I was trembling all over, I was so worried. 4 I thought if they were your own shopkeeper's groceries there couldn t be any objec. tion. I'^OU ought to have seen that woman I She looked all'Sorts of ways. She never said one word, but just marched straight out, and she never borrowed after that. She was rather oool for a good while, but she got O*i* it finally, and thentoforth troubled the grocers a little more than she did her neigh." Why, Mat;hal I wouldn't dare do such a things said Baiter, juifior. 'I should be afraid she would gotve^y vexM and gossip about me i'Wbåt if she does? YouTt get over that T add her mottier. That very afternoon lira. Goodwin came in to return some borrowed butter. It was odorous, and therefore odious. "l'i*i deopwi+Ao' said young MmL Bista. I shall tty,yow. plan.' Next morofrig the sugar came home, and was set aside! in antibipatioii of the time when it might want to walk busk across to Mrs. Goodwin's. The butter kspt it cQihpany. yaly afew days passed, and butter was again sailed foK Mrs. Baxter shook in her shoes as she handed her neighbour that-strong scented butter. Nact morning Mrs. Goodwin came in to borrow a little salt Mid a couple of eggs. Db you tale butter fromhew dairy now, Mrs. Baxter V she Inquired. No—why do jrou ask V said Mrs. Baxter, innocently, trying to suppress a smile., •I thought that last I boirowed of you was not as good as usual/ she replied. Mrs. Baxter braced herself mentally, and proceeded to face the ordeal. It Was the same you brought home the other day. I Will tell you frankly that I thought it was not as good as mine. I am very particular about butter, even in'cooking, sb I saved it for you. in dase you should happ^to want some more.' _d MM. uooawm-s nee flushed, turned pale, then red again. For once she was at a loss for words to express herself. Bestowing on MM. Baxter a look in which there was such a variety of emotion that she failed to interpret it, she hastened away. "There, mother! I've done It now ? And Mrs. Baxter repeated the conversation. They saw nothing of Mrs. Goodwin for three days. At the end of that time she suddenly appeared, bring- ing a basket which she placed carefully on the kitchen table. "There, Mrs. Baxter Pshe exclaimed. 'I'Ye brought home all the borrowed things I could think of. It has just come to me what a nuisance I must have been; and me living as near the shops as you do! PB take care not to trouble you so much in future.' Mrs. Goodwin proceeded to unload the basket. There were eggs, salt, soda, soap, a cup of sugar, I some tea, a paper of needles, some starch, a bowl of Hour, pickles, some, mustard, some writing paper, three postage stamps, and a paper of cough drops. I And here's your basket, too. I'd bad it so long I really forgot it was yours !• And she set the basket down at the astonished Mrs. Baxter's feet. Mrs. Goodwin coloured a little as she said 'Now I hope we shall be just as good friends as ever, because I do like you. You've been kind and obliging to me, though you are more genteel than us.' 'I hope we always shall remain friends, rm aure," replied Mrs. Baxtpr. 6 To tell the truth. it has some. times inconvenienced me to get the articles, not bu, that I would just as soon you should have them. But if we understand each other, it will be all right. Occasionally I shall be happy to oblige you.' •Well I must sharpen up my memory a little and send for things before I need them, as you do.' There continued to exist between them kindly fed ing, but from that day Mrs. Baxter lost her borrow- ing neighbour.


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