They had been called the Sawyer girls whenMiranda at eighteen, Jane at twelve, andAurelia at eight participated in the variousactivities of village life; and when Riverboro fellinto a habit of thought or speech, it saw no reasonfor falling out of it, at any rate in the same century.
So although Miranda and Jane were between fiftyand sixty at the time this story opens, Riverborostill called them the Sawyer girls. They werespinsters; but Aurelia, the youngest, had made whatshe called a romantic marriage and what her sisterstermed a mighty poor speculation. "There's worsethings than bein' old maids," they said; whetherthey thought so is quite another matter.
The element of romance in Aurelia's marriageexisted chiefly in the fact that Mr. L. D. M. Randallhad a soul above farming or trading and was a votaryof the Muses. He taught the weekly singing-school(then a feature of village life) in half a dozenneighboring towns, he played the violin and "called off"at dances, or evoked rich harmonies from churchmelodeons on Sundays. He taught certain uncouthlads, when they were of an age to enter society, theintricacies of contra dances, or the steps of theschottische and mazurka, and he was a markedfigure in all social assemblies, though conspicuouslyabsent from town-meetings and the purely masculinegatherings at the store or tavern or bridge.
His hair was a little longer, his hands a littlewhiter, his shoes a little thinner, his manner a triflemore polished, than that of his soberer mates;indeed the only department of life in which he failedto shine was the making of sufficient money to liveupon. Luckily he had no responsibilities; his fatherand his twin brother had died when he was yet aboy, and his mother, whose only noteworthy achievementhad been the naming of her twin sons Marquisde Lafayette and Lorenzo de Medici Randall, hadsupported herself and educated her child by makingcoats up to the very day of her death. She was wontto say plaintively, "I'm afraid the faculties was toomuch divided up between my twins. L. D. M. isawful talented, but I guess M. D. L. would 'a' benthe practical one if he'd 'a' lived.""L. D. M. was practical enough to get the richestgirl in the village," replied Mrs. Robinson.
"Yes," sighed his mother, "there it is again; ifthe twins could 'a' married Aurelia Sawyer, 't would'a' been all right. L. D. M. was talented 'nough toGET Reely's money, but M. D. L. would 'a' ben practical'nough to have KEP' it."Aurelia's share of the modest Sawyer propertyhad been put into one thing after another by thehandsome and luckless Lorenzo de Medici. He hada graceful and poetic way of making an investmentfor each new son and daughter that blessed theirunion. "A birthday present for our child, Aurelia,"he would say,--"a little nest-egg for the future;"but Aurelia once remarked in a moment of bitternessthat the hen never lived that could sit onthose eggs and hatch anything out of them.