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she called, "cut me a big locus' bough. I want to wave it fo' a flag!"
Just as he dropped a branch down at her feet, she caught the sound of wheels. "Hurry, gran'fathah," she called; "they's comin'." But the old Colonel had already started on toward the gate to meet them. The carriage stopped, and in a moment more Papa Jack was tossing Lloyd up in his arms, while the old Colonel was helping Elizabeth to alight.
"Isn't this a happy mawnin'?" exclaimed the Little Colonel, as she leaned from her seat on her father's shoulder to kiss his sunburned cheek.
"A very happy morning," echoed her grandfather, as he walked on toward the house with Elizabeth's hand clasped close in his own.
Long after they had pa.s.sed up the steps the old locusts kept echoing the Little Colonel's words. Years ago they had showered their fragrant blossoms in this same path to make a sweet white way for Amanthis's little feet to tread when the Colonel brought home his bride.
They had dropped their tribute on the coffin-lid when Tom was carried home under their drooping branches. The soldier-boy had loved them so, that a little cl.u.s.ter had been laid on the breast of the gray coat he wore.
Night and day they had guarded this old home like silent sentinels that loved it well.
Now, as they looked down on the united family, a thrill pa.s.sed through them to their remotest bloom-tipped branches.
It sounded only like a faint rustling of leaves, but it was the locusts whispering together. "The children have come home at last," they kept repeating. "What a happy morning! Oh, what a happy morning!"