"We are the creatures of God's will, I suppose," said one of her visitors, piously.
She had given them little confidences in return.
"I make my bread," she said, with child- ish pride, "pray see if you do not think it excellent!" And she cut a flaky loaf to dis- play its whiteness. One guest summoned the bravado to inquire, --
"Then you are not used to doing house- work?"
"I?" she said, with a slow smile, "I have never got used to anything, -- not even liv- ing." And so she baffled them all, yet won them.
The weeks went by. Elizabeth Astrado attended to her bees, milked her cow, fed her fowls, baked, washed, and cleaned, like the simple women about her, saving that as she did it a look of ineffable content lighted up her face, and she sang for happiness. Sometimes, amid the ballads that she hummed, a strain slipped in of some great melody, which she, singing unaware, as it were, corrected, shaking her finger in self- reproval, and returning again to the ballads and the hymns. Nor was she remiss in neighborly offices; but if any were ailing, or had a festivity, she was at hand to assist, condole, or congratulate, carrying always some simple gift in her hand, appropriate to the occasion.
She had her wider charities too, for all she kept close to her home. When, one day, a story came to her of a laborer struck down with heat in putting in a culvert on the railroad, and gossip said he could not speak English, she hastened to him, caught dying words from his lips, whispered a reply, and then what seemed to be a prayer, while he held fast her hand, and sank to coma with wistful eyes upon her face. Moreover 'twas she who buried him, rais- ing a cross above his grave, and she who planted rose-bushes about the mound.
"He spoke like an Italian," said the phy- sician to her warily.