A Mary Wilkins Freeman Reader

By Mary Wilkins Freeman; Mary R. Reichardt | Go to book overview

The Reign of the Doll

1904

There was a great storm. Fidelia Nutting was too frightened and excited to go to bed. It was eleven o'clock; three hours before, at eight o'clock, she had opened the door into her bedroom in order that the warmth of the sitting-room should temper the freezing atmosphere before she retired. She sat where she could see the peaceful white slope of the feather-bed; her head was heavy with sleep, but the strain of her nerves kept her awake. Fidelia was exceedingly timid, and even overawed, by any unusual stress of nature. Summer thunder-storms had always rendered her for the time a mild maniac, winds seemed to penetrate her soul, winter snows to enter and sift into the farthest crannies of her thoughts. This storm was sleet rather than snow. The wind raged. It seemed to pounce upon the house and shake it like a wild beast, then retreat, muttering, to some awful lair of storm, to return with a new gathering of fury.

Fidelia cowered and shivered, with a roll of fearful eyes. She was a large, elderly woman with the soul of a child. She was entirely alone in her little house; over across the street, in the large, old mansion-house of the Nuttings, her sister Diantha was also alone. Now and then Fidelia went to her window, that looked across the street, and saw with a thrill of half-resentful comfort her sister Diantha's light. She reflected that Diantha also had always been afraid in a storm, though not as afraid as she—or not owning to it.

"She always used to keep her lamp burning when there was a thunder‐ storm and when the wind was high," reflected Fidelia. Diantha's lamp was set on a table in the centre of her sitting-room, in a direct line with Fidelia's window. A great beam of yellow light shone through the window—through the shreds of snow which clung like wool to the sashes, through the icy veil

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