Up a Road Slowly
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After her mother's death, Julie goes to live with Aunt Cordelia, a spinster schoolteacher, where she experiences many emotions and changes as she grows from seven to eighteen.
Millay’s poems during those last few weeks of school; belatedly, I had a miserable feeling that the gentle young poet would not have liked me. It was a hot, dry summer that year, and in early August, when the heat seemed almost unbearable, we heard that Agnes Kilpin was very ill with a fever resulting from the infection of a cut foot for which she had received no medical attention. Aunt Cordelia immediately drove up to the Kilpins’, taking ice and cool fruit drinks with her. That evening she
above. It was a foolish expenditure of energy—that is what Aunt Cordelia would ordinarily have said to me had I been occupied by this pointless task. Another thing struck me: Aunt Cordelia had not changed her best dress before going out to work among the dusty leaves. It was unprecedented behavior on her part. Not on mine. I often forgot, and I had been reprimanded many a time for my negligence. And now, there was Aunt Cordelia hard at work in her best dress, her fragile stockings and high
Those shoulders were bare, still beautiful in spite of mud and scratches, and they rose from what had once been a lovely dress of blue velvet, now torn in a dozen places by brambles or underbrush that she had encountered, the long full skirt splashed halfway to her waist by mud and water. “She was in the middle of the old creek bridge,” Uncle Haskell told me in a low voice. “She was crying—afraid to come on across or to turn back. See if you can take care of her, Julie.” He was as agitated as if
the task of going through Uncle Haskell’s few possessions, discarding what we must, putting away for no particular reason the things we could not bear to discard. I folded the old velvet smoking jacket and the white silk shirt which he had worn the afternoon that he became the “good golden-haired man” for little Katy Eltwing. We packed his books and with them two unopened packages containing bottles such as the one that had once reminded me of bowling pins. We found a few papers with the opening
while she quietly gave us her private opinion that a small boy’s kiss was hardly in as poor taste as a small girl’s physical violence. That, at least, was the gist of her remarks; after that she ignored me and asked Chris to go the rest of the way home with Danny and to apologize for his sister’s behavior. I slunk out to the surrounding woods, disgraced, heavyhearted, and resentful. Public opinion was against me as I could see by the prim looks that Carlotta and Elsie bent upon me. I had hurt