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MR. JACK HAMLINS MEDIATION - 1899 -- AT nightfall it began to rain. The wind arose too, and also began to buffet a small, struggling, nondescript fibme, creeping along the trail over the rocky upland meadow to- wards Rylandss rancho. At times its head was hidden in what appeared to be wings thrown upward from its shoulders at times its broad-brimmed hat was cocked jauntily on one side, and again the brim was fixed over the face like a visor. At one moment a drifting misshpen mass of drapery, at the next its vague garments, beaten back hard against the figure, revealed outlines far too delicate for that rude enwrapping. For it was Mrs. Rylands herself, in her husbands hat and her Gred mans… old blue army overcoat, returning from the post-office two miles away. The wind continued its aggres- sion until she reached the front door of her newly plastered farmhouse, and then a heavier blast shook the pines above the low-pitched, shingled roof, and sent it shower of arrowy drops after her like a Parthian parting, as she entered. She threw aside the overcoat and hat, and somewhat inconsistently entered the sitting-room, to walk to the window and look back upon the path she had just trav- ersed. The wind and the rain swept down a slope, half meadow, half clearing, - a mile away, - to a fringe of sycamores. A mile further lay the stage road, where, three hours later, her husband would alight on his return from Sacramento. It would be a long wet walk for Joshua Rylands, as their only horse had been borrowed by a neigh- bof . In that fading light Mrs. Rylandss oval cheek was shining still from the raindrops, but there was something in the expression of her worried face that might have as readilysuggested tears. She was strikingly hand- some, yet quite as incongruous an ornament to her surroundings as she had been to her outer wrappings a moment ago, Even the clothes she now stood in hinted an inadapti- bility to the weather -the house - the position she occupied in it. A figured silk dress, spoiled rather than overworn, was still of a quality inconsistent with her evident habits, and the lace-edged petticoat that peeped beneath it was draggled with mud and unaccustomed usage. Her glossy black hair, which had been tossed into curls in some foreign fashion, was now wind-blown into a burlesque of it. This incongruity was still further accented by the appearance of the room she had entered. It was coldly and severely furnished, making the chill of the yet damp white plaster unpleasantly obvious. A black harmonium organ stood in one corner, set out with black and white hymn-books a trestle-like table contained a large Bible half a dozen black, horsehair- cushioned chairs stood, geometrically dis- tant, against the walls, from which hung four engravings of Paradise Lost in black mourning frames some dried ferns and autumn leaves stood in a vase on the mantel- piece, as if the chill of the room had pre- maturely blighted them. The coldly glitter- ing grate below was also decorated with withered sprays, as if an attempt b d been made to burn them, but was frustrated through damp. Suddenly recalled to a sense of her wet boots and the new carpet, she hurriedly turned away, crossed the hall, into the dining-room, and thence passed into the kitchen. The hired girl, a large-boned Missourian, a daughter of a neighboring woodman, was peeling potatoes at the table. Mrs. Rylands drew a chairbefore the kitchen stove, and put her wet feet on the hob. I U bet a cooky, Mess Rylands, you ve done forgot the vanillar, said the girl, with a certain domestic and confidential familiarity. Mrs...