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Full text of "New chronicles of Rebecca"



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THERE SITS REBECCA, THEN. IN THE OPEN DOOR 



OF THE SAWYERS BARN CHAMBER 



NEW CHRONICLES OF 

REBECCA 



BY 



KATE DOUGLAS WIGGIN 



Illustrated 




BOSTON AND >TEW YORE ' 

HOUGHTON MIFFUN COMPANY 






COPYRIGHT 1906 AiTD igcfj BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 
COPYRIGHT I9C7 BY KATE DOUGLAS RIGGS 

ALL RIGHTS RESBRVSD 

JPublithtd April 7907 



THE NEW YORK 

PUBLIC LIBRARY 

.4^STOM, LE.NCX AND 
TJLOEN FOUNOaTIONJ. 



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CONTENTS 

FIRST CHRONICLE 
JACK O' LANTERN 1 

SECOND CHRONICLE 
DAUGHTERS OF ZION 35 

THIRD CHRONICLE 
REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 58 

FOURTH CHRONICLE 
A TRAGEDY IN MILLINERY 100 

FIFTH CHRONICLE 
THE SAVING OF THE COLORS 118 

SIXTH CHRONICLE 
THE STATE O' MAINE GIRL 151 

SEVENTH CHRONICLE 
THE LITTLE PROPHET . .... . > . . . . .167 

EIGHTH CHRONICLE 
ABNER SIMPSON'S NEW LEAF 195 



VI 



CONTENTS 



NINTH CHRONICLE 
THE GREEN ISLE 



215 



TENTH CHRONICLE 
REBECCA'S REMINISCENCES . . . . 



231 



ELEVENTH CHRONICLE 
ABIJAH THE BRAVE AND THE FAIR EMMAJANE 251 



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NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

First Chronicle 
JACK O' LANTERN 



MISS MIRANDA SAWYER'S old-fash- 
ioned garden was the pleasantest spot 
in Riverboro on a sunny July morning. 
The rich color of the brick house gleamed and 
glowed through the shade of the elms and maples. 
Luxuriant hop-vines clambered up the lightning- 
rods and water-spouts, hanging their delicate clus- 
ters here and there in graceful profusion. Woodbine 
transformed the old shed and tool-house to things 
of beauty, and the flower-beds themselves were the 
prettiest and most fragrant in all the countryside. 
A row of dahlias ran directly around the garden 
spot, — dahlias scarlet, gold, and variegated. In the 
very centre was a round plot where the upturned 
faces of a thousand pansies smiled amid their leaves, 
and in the four corners were triangular blocks of 
sweet phlox over which the butterflies fluttered un- 
ceasingly. In the spaces between ran a riot of por- 
tulaca and nasturtiums, while in the more regular, 

I 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

shell-bordered beds grew spirea and gillyflowers, 
mignonette, marigolds, and clove pinks. 

Back of the barn and encroaching on the edge 
of the hay-field was a grove of sweet clover whose 
white feathery tips fairly bent under the assaults 
of the bees, while banks of aromatic mint and 
thyme drank in the sunshine and sent it out again 
into the summer air, warm and deliciously odorous. 

The hollyhocks were Miss Sawyer's pride, and 
they grew in a stately line beneath the four kitchen 
windows, their tapering tips set thickly with gay 
satin circlets of pink or lavender or crimson. 

"They grow something like steeples," thought 
little Rebecca Randall, who was weeding the bed, 
*'and the flat, round flowers are like rosettes; but 
steeples would n't be studded with rosettes, so if 
you were writing about them in a composition 
you 'd have to give up one or the other, and I think 
I '11 give up the steeples ; — 

Gay little hollyhock 

Lifting your head. 
Sweetly rosetted 

Out from your bed. 

It *s a pity the hollyhock is n't really little, instead 
of steepling up to the window-top, but I can't say, 
'Gay /^//hollyhock.' ... I might have it ' Lines 
to a Hollyhock in May,' for then it would be small ; 
but oh, no ! I forgot ; in May it would n't be bloom- 



JACK O' LANTERN 

ing, ar^d it 's so pretty to say that its head is 
* sweetly resetted.' ... I wish the teacher was n't 
away ; she would like * sweetly rosetted/ and she 
would like to hear me recite * Roll on, thou deep 
and dark blue ocean, roll ! ' that I learned out of 
Aunt Jane's Byron ; the rolls come booming out 
of it just like the waves at the beach. ... 1 could 
make nice compositions now, everything is bloom- 
ing so, and it 's so warm and sunny and happy out- 
doors. Miss Dearborn told me to write something 
in my thought book every single day, and I '11 begin 
this very night when I go to bed." 

Rebecca Rowena Randall, the little niece of the 
brick-house ladies, and at present sojourning there 
for purposes of board, lodging, education, and in- 
cidentally such discipline and chastening as might 
ultimately produce moral excellence, — Rebecca 
Randall had a passion for the rhyme and rhythm 
of poetry. From her earliest childhood words had 
always been to her what dolls and toys are to other 
children, and now at twelve she amused herself with 
phrases and sentences and images as her school- 
mates played with the pieces of their dissected 
puzzles. If the heroine of a story took a "cursory 
glance " about her " apartment," Rebecca would 
shortly ask her Aunt Jane to take a " cursory 
glance " at her oversewing or hemming ; if the vil- 
lain " aided and abetted " some one in committing 

3 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

a crime, she would before long request the pleasure 
of "aiding and abetting" in dishwashing or bed- 
making. Sometimes she used the borrowed phrases 
unconsciously ; sometimes she brought them into 
the conversation with an intense sense of pleasure 
in their harmony or appropriateness ; for a beautiful 
word or sentence had the same effect upon her im- 
agination as a fragrant nosegay, a strain of music, 
or a brilliant sunset 

"How are you gettin' on, Rebecca Rowena?" 
called a peremptory voice from within. 

" Pretty good. Aunt Miranda ; only I wish flow- 
ers would ever come up as thick as this pigweed 
and plantain and sorrel. What makes weeds be 
thick and flowers be thin ? — I just happened to be 
stopping to think a minute when you looked out." 

** You think considerable more than you weed, 
I guess, by appearances. How many times have 
you peeked into that hummingbird's nest.? Why 
don't you work all to once and play all to once, like 
other folks ? " 

" I don't know," the child answered, confounded 
by the question, and still more by the apparent logic 
back of it. " I don't know. Aunt Miranda, but when 
I'm working outdoors such a Saturday morning 
as this, the whole creation just screams to me to 
stop it and come and play." 

** Well, you need n't go if it does ! " responded her 

4 



JACK O' LANTERN 

aunt sharply. " It don't scream to me when I 'm 
rollin' out these doughnuts, and it would n't to you 
if your mind was on your duty." 

Rebecca's little brown hands flew in and out 
among the weeds as she thought rebelliously : "Cre- 
ation would fit scream to Aunt Miranda; it would 
know she would n't come. 

Scream on, thou bright and gay creation, scream I 
T is not Miranda that will hear thy cry 1 

Oh, such funny, nice things come into my head 
out here by myself, I do wish I could run up and 
put them down in my thought book before I forget 
them, but Aunt Miranda would n't like me to leave 
off weeding : — 

Rebecca was weeding the hollyhock bed 

When wonderful thoughts came into her head. 

Her aunt was occupied with the rolling-pin 

And the thoughts of her mind were common and thin. 

That wouldn't do because it's mean to Aunt 
Miranda, and anyway it is n't good. I must crawl 
under the syringa shade a minute, it 's so hot, and 
anybody has to stop working once in a while, just 
to get their breath, even if they were n't making 
poetry. 

Rebecca was weeding the hollyhock bed 

When marvelous thoughts came into her head. 

Miranda was wielding the rolling-pin 

And thoughts at such times seemed to her as a sin. 

5 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

llow pretty the hollyhock rosettes look from down 
here on the sweet, smelly ground ! 

** Let me see what would go with rosetting. Aid- 
ing and abettingy pettingy hen-settings fretting^ — 
there's nothing very nice, but I can make 'fret- 
ting 'do. 

Cheered by Rowena's petting, 
The flowers are rosetting, 
But Aunt Miranda's fretting 
Doth somewhat cloud the day.*' 

Suddenly the sound of wagon wheels broke the 
silence and then a voice called out — a voice that 
could not wait until the feet that belonged to it 
reached the spot : '* Miss S^c^-yer ! Father's got to 
drive over to North Riverboro on an errand, and 
please can Rebecca go, too, as it 's Saturday morn- 
ing and vacation besides ? '* 

Rebecca sprang out from under the syringa- 
bush, eyes flashing with delight as only Rebec- 
ca's eyes could flash, her face one luminous circle 
of joyous anticipation. She clapped her grubby 
hands, and dancing up and down, cried : " May I, 
Aunt Miranda — can I, Aunt Jane — can I, Aunt 
Miranda-Jane ? I 'm more than half through the 
bed." 

" If you finish your weeding to-night before 
sundown I s'pose you can go, so long as Mr. Per- 
kins has been good enough to ask you," responded 

6 



JACK O' LANTERN 

Miss Sawyer reluctantly. " Take off that gingham 
apron and wash your hands clean at the pump. 
You ain't be'n out o' bed but two hours an' your 
head looks as rough as if you 'd slep' in it. That 
comes from layin' on the ground same as a cater- 
pillar. Smooth your hair down with your hands an' 
p'r'aps Emma Jane can braid it as you go along the 
road. Run up and get your second-best hair ribbon 
out o' your upper drawer and put on your shade- 
hat. No, you can't wear your coral chain — jewelry 
ain't appropriate in the morning. How long do you 
cal'late to be gone, Emma Jane ? " 

** I don't know. Father's just been sent for to 
see about a sick woman over to North Riverboro. 
She *s got to go to the poor-farm." 

This fragment of news speedily brought Miss 
Sawyer, and her sister Jane as well, to the door, 
which commanded a view of Mr. Perkins and his 
wagon. Mr. Perkins, the father of Rebecca's bosom 
friend, was primarily a blacksmith, and secondarily 
a selectman and an overseer of the poor, a man 
therefore possessed of wide and varied informa- 
tion. 

" Who is it that 's sick } " inquired Miranda. 

" A woman over to North Riverboro." 

"What's the trouble?" 

"Can't say." 

"Stranger?" 

7 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

"Yes, and no; she's that wild daughter of old 
Nate Perry that used to live up towards Modera- 
tion. You remember she ran away to work in the 
factory at Milltown and married a do-nothin' fellow 
by the name o' John Winslow ? " 

*' Yes ; well, where is he ? Why don't he take 
care of her ? " 

"They ain't worked well in double harness. 
They 've been rovin' round the country, livin' a 
month here and a month there wherever they could 
get work and house-room. They quarreled a couple 
o' weeks ago and he left her. She and the little 
boy kind o' camped out in an old loggin' cabin back 
in the woods and she took in washin' for a spell ; 
then she got terrible sick and ain't expected to 
live." 

" Who 's been nursing her } " inquired Miss Jane. 

** Lizy Ann Dennett, that lives nearest neighbor 
to the cabin ; but I guess she 's tired out bein' good 
Samaritan. Anyways, she sent word this mornin' 
that nobody can't seem to find John Winslow ; that 
there ain't no relations, and the town 's got to be 
responsible, so I 'm goin' over to see how the land 
lays. Climb in, Rebecca. You an' Emmy Jane 
crowd back on the cushion an' I '11 set forrard. 
That 's the trick ! Now we 're off ! " 

" Dear, dear ! " sighed Jane Sawyer as the sisters 
walked back into the brick house. ** I remember 

8 



JACK O* LANTERN 

once seeing Sally Perry at meeting. She was a 
handsome girl, and I 'm sorry she 's come to grief." 

" If she 'd kep' on goin' to meetin' an' had n't 
looked at the men folks she might 'a* be'n earnin* 
an honest livin' this minute," said Miranda. "Men 
folks are at the bottom of everything wrong in this 
world," she continued, unconsciously reversing the. 
verdict of history. 

" Then we ought to be a happy and contented 
community here in Riverboro," replied Jane, "as 
there's six women to one man." 

"If 't was sixteen to one we'd be all the safer," 
responded Miranda grimly, putting the doughnuts 
in a brown crock in the cellar-way and slamming 
the door. 

II 

The Perkins horse and wagon rumbled along 
over the dusty country road, and after a discreet) 
silence, maintained as long as human flesh could ' 
endure, Rebecca remarked sedately : — 

" It 's a sad errand for such a shiny morning,, 
is n't it, Mr. Perkins ? " 

" Plenty o' trouble in the world, Rebecky, shiny 
mornin's an' all," that good man replied. " If you 
want a bed to lay on, a roof over your head, an' 
food to eat, you 've got to work for 'em. If t 
had n't 'a' labored early an* late, learned my trad^ 

9 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

an' denied myself when I was young, I might 'a' 
be'n a pauper layin' sick in a loggin' cabin, 'stead 
o' bein' an overseer o' the poor an' selectman drivin' 
along to take the pauper to the poor-farm." 

" People that are mortgaged don't have to go to 
the poor-farm, do they, Mr. Perkins ? " asked Re- 
becca, with a shiver of fear as she remembered her 
home farm at Sunnybrook and the debt upon it ; a 
debt which had lain like a shadow over her child- 
hood, 

** Bless your soul, no ; not unless they fail to pay 
up ; but Sal Perry an' her husband had n't got fur 
enough along in life to be mortgaged. You have to 
own something before you can mortgage it." 

Rebecca's heart bounded as she learned that a 
mortgage represented a certain stage in worldly 
prosperity. 

" Well," she said, sniffing in the fragrance of the 
new-mown hay and growing hopeful as she did so ; 
" maybe the sick woman will be better such a beau- 
tiful day, and maybe the husband will come back 
to make it up and say he 's sorry, and sweet con- 
tent will reign in the humble habitation that was 
once the scene of poverty, grief, and despair. 
That 's how it came out in a story I 'm reading." 

*' I hain't noticed that life comes out like stories 
very much," responded the pessimistic blacksmith, 
who, as Rebecca privately thought, had read less 

lO 



JACK O' LANTERN 

than half a dozen books in his long and prosperous 
career. 

A drive of three or four miles brought the party 
to a patch of woodland where many of the tall pines 
had been hewn the previous winter. The roof of a 
ramshackle hut was outlined against a background 
of young birches, and a rough path made in hauling 
the logs 2o the main road led directly to its door. 

As they drew near the figure of a woman ap- 
proached — Mrs. Lizy Ann Dennett, in a gingham 
dress, with a calico apron over her head. 

" Good-morning, Mr. Perkins," said the woman, 
who looked tired and irritable. *' I 'm real glad you 
come right over, for she took worse after I sent you 
word, and she 's dead." 

Dead ! The word struck heavily and mysteri- 
ously on the children's ears. Dead I and their 
young lives, just begun, stretched on and on, all 
decked, like hope, in living green. Dead ! and all 
the rest of the world reveling in strength. Dead .' 
with all the daisies and buttercups waving in the 
fields and the men heaping the mown grass into 
fragrant cocks or tossing it into heavily laden carts. 
Dead ! with the brooks tinkling after the summer 
showers, with the potatoes and corn blossoming, 
the birds singing for joy, and every little insect 
humming and chirping, adding its note to the blithe 
chorus of warm, throbbing life. 

II 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

** I was all alone with her. She passed away 
suddenly jest about break o' day," said Lizy Ann 
Dennett. 

" Her soul passed upward to its God 
Just at the break of day." 

These words came suddenly into Rebecca's mind 
from a tiny chamber where such things were wont 
to lie quietly until something brought them to the 
surface. She could not remember whether she had 
heard them at a funeral or read them in the hymn 
book or made them up "out of her own head," but 
she was so thrilled with the idea of dying just as 
the dawn was breaking that she scarcely heard 
Mrs. Dennett's conversation. 

** I sent for Aunt Beulah Day, an' she 's be'n 
here an' laid her out," continued the long-suffer- 
ing Lizy Ann. " She ain't got any folks, an' John 
Winslow ain't never had any as far back as I can 
remember. She belongs to your town and you '11 
have to bury her and take care of Jacky — that 's 
the boy. He 's seventeen months old, a bright little 
feller, the image o' John, but I can't keep him an- 
other day. I 'm all wore out ; my own baby's sick, 
mother's rheumatiz is extry bad, and my husband 's 
comin' home to-night from his week's work. If h^ 
finds a child o* John Winslow's under his roof jl 
can't say what would happen ; you '11 have to tak^ 
him back with you to the poor-farm." 

12 



JACK O' LANTERN 

"I can*t take him up there this afternoon," ^1> 
jected Mr. Perkins. 

"Well, then, keep him over Sunday yourself j 
he 's good as a kitten. John Winslow '11 hear o' 
Sal's death sooner or later, unless he 's gone out o* 
the state altogether, an' when he knows the boy's 
at the poor-farm I kind o' think he '11 come and 
claim him. Could you drive me over to the village 
to see about the coffin, and would you children be 
afraid to stay here alone for a spell .^" she asked, 
turning to the girls. 

" Afraid .'* " they both echoed uncomprehend- 
ingly. 

Lizy Ann and Mr. Perkins, perceiving that the 
fear of a dead presence had not entered the minds 
of Rebecca or Emma Jane, said nothing, but drove 
off together, counseling them not to stray far away 
from the cabin and promising to be back in an 
hour. 

There was not a house within sight, either look- 
ing up or down the shady road, and the two girls 
stood hand in hand, watching the wagon out of 
sight; then they sat down quietly under a tree, 
feeling all at once a nameless depression hanging 
over their gay summer-morning spirits. 

It was very still in the woods ; just the chirp of 
a grasshopper now and then, or the note of a bird, 
or the click of a far-distant mowing-machine. 

13 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

** We 're ' zuatching' T* whispered Emma Jane. 
"They watched with Gran'pa Perkins, and there 
was a great funeral and two ministers. He left 
two thousand dollars in the bank and a store full 
of goods, and a paper thing you could cut tickets 
off of twice a year, and they were just like money." 

" They watched with my little sister Mira, too," 
said Rebecca. ''You remember when she died, 
and I went home to Sunnybrook Farm } It was 
winter-time, but she was covered with evergreen 
and white pinks, and there was singing." 

"There won't be any funeral or ministers or 
singing here, will there } Is n't that awful ^ " 

"I s'pose not; and oh, Emma Jane, no flowers 
either. We might get those for her if there 's no- 
body else to do it." 

** W^ould you dare put them on to her ? " asked 
Emma Jane, in a hushed voice. 

" I don't know ; I can't tell ; it makes me shiver, 
but, of course, we could do it if we were the only 
friends she had. Let 's look into the cabin first and 
be perfectly sure that there are n't any. Are you 
afraid } " 

"N-no; I guess not. I looked at Gran'pa Per- 
kins, and he was just the same as ever." 

At the door of the hut Emma Jane's courage 
suddenly departed. She held back shuddering and 
refused either to enter or look in. Rebecca shud- 

»4 



JACK O' LANTERN 

dered too, but kept on, drawn by an insatiable 
curiosity about life and death, an overmastering 
desire to know and feel and understand the mys- 
teries of existence, a hunger for knowledge and 
experience at all hazards and at any cost. 

Emma Jane hurried softly away from the felt 
terrors of the cabin, and after two or three minutes 
of utter silence Rebecca issued from the open door, 
her sensitive face pale and woe-bcgone, the ever- 
ready tears raining down her cheeks. She ran 
toward the edge of the wood, sinking down by 
Emma Jane's side, and covering her eyes, sobbed 
with excitement: — 

" Oh, Emma Jane, she has n't got a flower, and 
she 's so tired and sad looking, as if she 'd been 
hurt and hurt and never had any good times, and 
there 's a weeny, weeny baby 'side of her. Oh, I 
wish I had n't gone in ! " 

Emma Jane blenched for an instant. " Mrs. 
Dennett never said there was two dead ones ! Isnt 
that dreadful f But," she continued, her practical 
common sense coming to the rescue, " you 've been 
in OQce and it 's all over ; it won't be so bad when 
you take in the flowers because you '11 be used to 
it. The goldenrod has n't begun to bud, so there *s 
nothing to pick but daisies. Shall I make a long 
rope of them, as I did for the schoolroom } " 

" Yes," said Rebecca, wiping her eyes and still 

15 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

sobbing. "Yes. tr.s: 's the prettiest, and if we 
z ^: it L'. ry^-.i her h^-:e a frame the undertaker 
c:.'. -ir.: ": e s: cruel ss to throw it away, even if 
s .e is 1 piuper, becanse it v^ill look so beautiful. 
frcrr. v/hat the Sur. div-school lessons say, she's 
cr.'.y asieer r.c-.v, ar.i -.vi-.en she wakes up she '11 be 

'■ J/.r-r:- 's .:-;.-;';:-^' /.'.:r<f," said Emma Jane, in an 
or:h:„:x ar.i seru'.rr.ral whisper, as she took her 
e^^er-preser.: baii :: crochet cotton from her pocket 
ar.c began to twir.e the v,h:tev,eed blossoms into a 
r:ie. 

" Oh. vreii I '" Pvebecca replied with the easy the- 
c ". : r/ : r.a: : ei : r.^e :'. : : h -.-r temperament. *' They 
sirr.r'.y ::u!d Ti*t send her dozi?: I'.cre with that lit- 
tie "^tt-:.-: :ahy. Wlio'd take care of it? You 
k- : V -i^t s:\ :: the catechism says the only com- 
ii:-.::r.s c: :r.e "-i;i-:ec a::er death are their father 
:-e z--r'. a'c ai' :-e ::herevii argels; it would n't 



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V I ... ~ . . r 






her- ever she wakes up, I hope 
: hr.e "::_: ":a:y is going to the 



r.ere he is ? " 



-Pcrfcars :ver :: hirs. Dennett's house. She 
c:a r. : seerr. s:rr.' a :::, i:a she? 

*'X:. :_: I surpise she's tired sitting up and 
r.ursir.^- a strar.^-er. i-;i::her was n't sorr\' when 
Grarhr.a ?-h-::r.s iiea : she couid n't be, for he was 

l6 



JACK O' LANTERN 

cross all the time and had to be fed like a child. 
Why are you cr}'ing again, Rebecca ? " 

" Oh, I don't know, I can't tell, Emma Jane ! 
Only I don't want to die and have no funeral or 
singing and nobody sorry for me ! I just could n't 
bear it ! " 

"Neither could I," Emma Jane responded sym- 
pathetically ; " but p'r'aps if we 're real good and die 
young before we have to be fed, they will be sorry. 
I do wish you could write some poetry for her as 
you did for Alice Robinson's canary-bird, only still 
better, of course, like that you read me out of your 
thought book." 

" I could, easy enough," exclaimed Rebecca, some- 
what consoled by the idea that her rhyming faculty 
couldbeof anyuse in such an emergency. ''Though 
I don't know but it would be kind of bold to do it. 
I 'm all puzzled about how people get to heaven 
after thev 're buried. I can't understand it a bit ; but 
if the poetry is on her, what if that should go, too.^ 
And how could I write anything good enough to be 
read out loud in heaven } " 

"A little piece of paper could n't get to heaven ; 
it just could n't," asserted Emma Jane decisively. 
*' It would be all blown to pieces and dried up. And 
nobody knows that the angels can read writing, 
an)n^'ay." 

"They must be as educated as we are, and 

17 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

more so, too," argued Rebecca. "They must be 
more than just dead people, or else why should 
they have wings ? But I '11 go off and write some- 
' thing while you finish the rope ; it 's lucky you 
• brought your crochet cotton and I my lead pencil." 
In fifteen or twenty minutes she returned with 
some lines written on a scrap of brown wrapping 
paper. Standing soberly by Emma Jane, she said, 
preparing to read them aloud : " They 're not good ; 
I was afraid your father 'd come back before I fin- 
ished, and the first verse sounds exactly like the 
funeral hymns in the church book. I could n't call 
her Sally Winslow ; it did n't seem nice when I 
did n't know her and she is dead, so I thought if I 
said * friend ' it would show she had somebody to 
be sorry. 

" This friend of ours has died and gone 
From us to heaven to live. 
If she has sinned against Thee, Lord, 
We pray Thee, Lord, forgive. 

" Her husband runneth far away 
And knoweth not she 's dead. 
Oh, bring him back — ere 't is too late — 
To mourn beside her bed. 

** And if perchance it can't be so. 
Be to the children kind ; 
The weeny one that goes with her, 
The other left behind." 

i8 



JACK O' LANTERN 

" I think that 's perfectly elegant ! " exclaimed 
Emma Jane, kissing Rebecca fervently. " You are 
the smartest girl in the whole State of Maine, and 
it sounds like a minister's prayer. I wish we could 
save up and buy a printing-machine. Then I could 
learn to print what you write and we *d be partners 
like father and Bill Moses. Shall you sign it with 
your name like we do our school compositions .<*" 

** No," said Rebecca soberly. '* I certainly shan't 
sign it, not knowing where it *s going or who '11 
read it. I shall just hide it in the flowers, and 
whoever finds it will guess that there was n't any 
minister or singing, or gravestone, or anything, so 
somebody just did the best they could. '* 

III 

The tired mother with the " weeny baby" on her 
arm lay on a long carpenter's bench, her earthly 
journey over, and when Rebecca stole in and placed 
the flowery garland all along the edge of the rude 
bier, death suddenly took on a more gracious and 
benign aspect. It was only a child's sympathy and 
intuition that softened the rigors of the sad moment, 
but poor, wild Sal Winslow, in her frame of daisies, 
looked as if she were missed a little by an un- 
friendly world ; while the weeny baby, whose heart 
had fallen asleep almost as soon as it had learned 
to beat, the weeny baby, with Emma Jane's nosegay 

19 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

of buttercups in its tiny wrinkled hand, smiled as 
if it might have been loved and longed for and 
mourned. 

" We 've done all we can now without a minister," 
whispered Rebecca. "We could sing, ' God is ever 
good ' out of the Sunday-school song-book, but I 'm 
afraid somebody would hear us and think we were 
gay and happy. — What 's that } " 

A strange sound broke the stillness : a gurgle, a 
yawn, a merry little call. The two girls ran in the 
direction from which it came, and there, on an old 
coat, in a clump of goldenrod bushes, lay a child 
just waking from a refreshing nap. 

"It's the other baby that Lizy Ann Dennett 
told about ! " cried Emma Jane. 

" Is n't he beautiful ! " exclaimed Rebecca. 
'* Come straight to me ! " and she stretched out her 
arms. 

The child struggled to its feet, and tottered, wa- 
vering, toward the warm; welcome of the voice and 
eves. Rebecca was all mother, and her maternal 
instincts had been well developed in the large fam- 
ily in which she was next to the eldest. She had 
always confessed that there were perhaps a trifle 
too many babies at Sunnybrook Farm, but, nev- 
ertheless, had she ever heard it, she would have 
stood loyally by the Japanese proverb : "Whether 
brought forth upon the mountain or in the field, it 

20 



JACK O' LANTERN 

matters nothing ; more than a treasure of one thou- 
sand ryo a baby precious is." 

" You darling thing ! " she crooned, as she caught 
and lifted the child. " You look just like a Jack-o'- 
lantern." 

The boy was clad in a yellow cotton dress, very 
full and stiff. His hair was of such a bright gold, 
and so sleek and shiny, that he looked like a fair, 
smooth little pumpkin. He had wide blue eyes full 
of laughter, a neat little vertical nose, a neat little 
horizontal mouth with his few neat little teeth show- 
ing very plainly, and on the whole Rebecca's figure 
of speech was not so wide of the mark. 

" Oh, Emma Jane ! Is n't he too lovely to go to 
the poor-farm } If only we were married we could 
keep him and say nothing and nobody would know 
the difference ! Now that the Simpsons have gone 
away there is n't a single baby in Riverboro, and 
only one in Edgewood. It 's a perfect shame, but 
I can't do anything ; you remember Aunt ]\Iiranda 
would n't let me have the Simpson baby when 
I wanted to borrow her just for one rainy Sun- 
day." 

" My mother won't keep him, so it's no use to 
ask her ; she says 'most every day she's glad we 're 
grown up, and she thanks the Lord there was n't 
but two of us." 

"And Mrs. Peter Meserve is too nerv^ous," Re- 

21 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

becca went on, taking the village houses in turn ; 
** and Mrs. Robinson is too neat." 

** People don't seem to like any but their own 
babies," observed Emma Jane. 

" Well, I can't understand it," Rebecca answered. 
" A baby 's a baby, I should think, whose ever it 
is ! Miss Dearborn is coming back Monday ; I 
wonder if she 'd like it } She has nothing to do out 
of school, and we could borrow it all the time ! " 

*' I don't think it would seem very genteel for a 
young lady like Miss Dearborn, who ' boards round,* 
to take a baby from place to place," objected Emma 
Jane. 

*' Perhaps not," agreed Rebecca despondently, 
** but I think if we haven't got any — any — /r/- 
vate babies in Riverboro we ought to have one for 
the town, and all have a share in it. We Ve got a 
town hall and a town lamp-post and a town water- 
ing-trough. Things are so uneven ! One house like 
mine at Sunnybrook, brimful of children, and the 
very next one empty ! The only way to fix them 
right would be to let all the babies that ever are 
belong to all the grown-up people that ever are, — 
just divide them up, you know, if they 'd go round. 
— Oh, I have a thought ! Don't you believe Aunt 
Sarah Cobb would keep him } She carries flowers 
to the graveyard every little while, and once she 
took me with her. There *s a marble cross, and it 

22 



JACK O' LANTERN 

says : Sacred to the memoiy of Sarah Ellens be- 
loved child of Sarah and Jeremiah Cobb, aged jy 
months. Why, that 's another reason ; Mrs. Den- 
nett says this one is seventeen months. There 's 
five of us left at the farm without me, but if we 
were only nearer to Riverboro, how quick mother 
would let in one more ! " 

** We might see what father thinks, and that 
would settle it," said Emma Jane. " Father does n't 
think very sudden, but he thinks awful strong. If 
we don't bother him, and find a place ourselves for 
the baby, perhaps he '11 be willing. He 's coming 
now; I hear the wheels." 

Lizy Ann Dennett volunteered to stay and per- 
form the last rites with the undertaker, and Jack-o'- 
lantern, with his slender wardrobe tied in a bandanna 
handkerchief, was lifted into the wagon by the re- 
luctant Mr. Perkins, and jubilantly held by Rebecca 
in her lap. Mr. Perkins drove off as speedily as 
possible, being heartily sick of the whole affair, and 
thinking wisely that the little girls had already seen 
and heard more than enough of the seamy side of 
life that morning. 

Discussion concerning Jack-o'-lantern's future 
was prudently deferred for a quarter of an hour, 
and then Mr. Perkins was mercilessly pelted with 
arguments against the choice of the poor-farm as a 
place of residence for a baby. 

23 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

"His father is sure to come back some time, 
Mr. Perkins," urged Rebecca. **He couldn't leave 
this beautiful thing forever; and if Emma Jane and 
I can persuade Mrs. Cobb to keep him a little 
while, would you care ? " 

No ; on reflection Mr. Perkins did not care. He 
merely wanted a quiet life and enough time left 
over from the public service to attend to his black- 
smith's shop ; so instead of going home over the 
same red by which they came he crossed the 
bridge mto Edgewood and dropped the children at 
the long lane which led to the Cobb house. 

Mrs. Cobb, " Aunt Sarah " to the whole village, 
sat by the window looking for Uncle Jerry, who 
would soon be seen driving the noon stage to the 
post-office over the hill. She always had an eye out 
for Rebecca, too, for ever since the child had been 
a passenger on Mr. Cobb's stagecoach, making the 
eventful trip from her home farm to the brick house 
in Riverboro in his company, she had been a con- 
stant visitor and the joy of the quiet household. 
Emma Jane, too, was a well-known figure in the 
lane, but the strange baby was in the nature of a 
surprise — a surprise somewhat modified by the fact 
that Rebecca was a dramatic personage and more 
liable to appear in conjunction with curious out- 
riders, comrades, and retainers than the ordinary 
Riverboro child. She had run away from the too 

24 



JACK O' LANTERN 

stern discipline of the brick house on one occasion, 
and had been persuaded to return by Uncle Jerry. 
She had escorted a wandering organ-grinder to 
their door and begged a lodging for him on a rainy 
night ; so on the whole there was nothing amazing 
about the coming procession. 

The little party toiled up to the hospitable door, 
and Mrs. Cobb came out to meet them. 

Rebecca was spokesman. Emma Jane's talent 
did not lie in eloquent speech, but it would have 
been a valiant and a fluent child indeed who could 
have usurped Rebecca's privileges and tendencies 
in this direction, language being her native ele- 
ment, and words of assorted sizes springing spon- 
taneously to her lips. 

** Aunt Sarah, dear," she said, plumping Jack-o'- 
lantern down on the grass as she pulled his dress 
over his feet and smoothed his hair becomingly, 
" will you please not say a word till I get through 
— as it 's very important you should know every- 
thing before you answer yes or no ? This is a 
baby named Jacky Winslow, and I think he looks 
like a Jack-o'-lantern. His mother has just died 
over to North Riverboro, all alone, excepting for 
Mrs. Lizy Ann Dennett, and there was another 
little weeny baby that died with her, and Emma 
Jane and I put flowers around them and did the 
best we could. The father — that 's John Winslow 

25 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

— quarreled with the mother — that was Sal Perry 
on the Moderation Road — and ran away and left 
her. So he does n't knovv his wife and the weeny 
baby are dead. And the town has got to bury 
them because they can't find the father right off 
quick, and Jacky has got to go to the poor-farm 
this afternoon. And it seems an awful shame to 
take him up to that lonesome place with those old 
people that can't amuse him, and if Emma Jane 
and Alice Robinson and I take 'most all the care 
of him we thought perhaps you and Uncle Jerry 
would keep him just for a little while. You Ve got 
a cow and a turn-up bedstead, you know," she hur- 
ried on insinuatingly, "and there 's hardly any plea- 
sure as cheap as more babies where there 's ever 
been any before, for baby carriages and trundle- 
beds and cradles don't wear out, and there 's always 
clothes left over from the old baby to begin the 
new one on. Of course, we can collect enough 
things to start Jacky, so he won't be much trouble 
or expense ; and anyway, he *s past the most 
troublesome age and you won't have to be up 
nights with him, and he is n't afraid of anybody or 
anything, as you can see by his just sitting there 
laughing and sucking his thumb, though he does n't 
know what 's going to become of him. And he 's 
just seventeen months old like dear little Sarah 
Ellen in the graveyard, and we thought we ought 

26 



JACK O' LANTERN 

tty give you the refusal of him before he goes to 
the poor-farm, and what do you think about it ? 
Because it 's near my dinner-time and Aunt Mi- 
randa will keep me in the whole afternoon if I 'm 
late, and I *ve got to finish weeding the hollyhock 
bed before sundown." 

IV 

Mrs. Cobb had enjoyed a considerable period of 
reflection during this monologue, and Jacky had 
not used the time unwisely, offering several un- 
conscious arguments and suggestions to the matter 
under discussion ; lurching over on the greensward 
and righting himself with a chuckle, kicking his 
bare feet about in delight at the sunshine and 
groping for his toes with arms too short to reach 
them, the movement involving an entire upsetting 
of equilibrium followed by more chuckles. 

Coming down the last of the stone steps, Sarah 
Ellen's mother regarded the baby with interest and 
sympathy. 

" Poor little mite ! " she said ; ** that does n't 
know what he 's lost and what 's going to happen 
to him. Seems to me we might keep him a spell 
till we 're sure his father 's deserted him for good. 
Want to come to Aunt Sarah, baby ? " 

Jack-o'-lantern turned from Rebecca and Emma 
Jane and regarded the kind face gravely ; then he 

27 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

held out both his hands and Mrs, Cobb, stooping, 
gathered him like a harvest. Being lifted into her 
arms, he at once tore her spectacles from her nose 
and laughed aloud. Taking them from him gently, 
she put them on again, and set him in the cush- 
ioned rocking-chair under the lilac bushes beside 
the steps. Then she took one of his soft hands in 
hers and patted it, and fluttered her fingers like 
birds before his eyes, and snapped them like casta- 
nets, remembering all the arts she had lavished 
upon ** Sarah Ellen, aged seventeen months," years 
and years ago. 

Motherless baby and babyless mother, 
Bring them together to love one another. 

Rebecca knew nothing of this couplet, but she 
saw clearly enough that her case was won. 

"The boy must be hungry; when was he fed 
last ? " asked Mrs. Cobb. " Just stay a second 
longer while I get him some morning's milk ; then 
you run home to your dinners and I '11 speak to 
Mr. Cobb this afternoon. Of course, we can keep 
the baby for a week or two till we see what hap- 
pens. Land ! he ain't goin' to be any more trouble 
than a wax doll ! I guess he ain't been used to 
much attention, and that kind 's always the easiest 
to take care of." 

At six o'clock that evening Rebecca and Emma 
Jane flew up the hill and down the lane again, wav- 

28 



^ 







GREAT, THOUGH FRIENDLY, WAS THE RIVALRY 
BETWEEN THEM 



JACK O' LANTERN 

ing their hands to the dear old couple who were 
waiting for them in the usual place, the back piazza 
where they had sat so many summers in a blessed 
companionship never marred by an unloving word. 

"Where's Jacky?" called Rebecca breathlessly, 
her voice always outrunning her feet. 

" Go up to my chamber, both of you, if you want 
to see," smiled Mrs. Cobb, " only don't wake him 
up." 

The girls went softly up the stairs into Aunt 
Sarah's room. There, in the turn-up bedstead that 
had been so long empty, slept Jack-o'-lantern, in 
blissful unconsciousness of the doom he had so 
lately escaped. His nightgown and pillow-case were 
clean and fragrant with lavender, but they were 
both as yellow as saffron, for they had belonged to 
Sarah Ellen. 

"I wish his mother could see him!" whispered 
Emma Jane. 

"You can't tell; it's all puzzly about heaven, 
and perhaps she does," said Rebecca, as they turned 
reluctantly from the fascinating scene and stole 
•^own to the piazza. 

It was a beautiful and a happy summer that year, 
and every day of it was filled with blissful plays 
and still more blissful duties. On the Monday 
after Jack-o'-lantern's arrival in Edgewood Rebecca 

29 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

founded the Riverboro Aunts Association. The 
Aunts were Rebecca, Emma Jane, Alice Robin- 
son, and Minnie Smellie, and each of the first three 
promised to labor for and amuse the visiting baby 
for two days a week, Minnie Smellie, who lived at 
some distance from the Cobbs, making herself re- 
sponsible for Saturday afternoons. 

Minnie Smellie was not a general favorite among 
the Riverboro girls, and it was only in an unpre- 
cedented burst of magnanimity that they admitted 
her into the rites of fellowship, Rebecca hugging 
herself secretly at the thought, that as Minnie gave 
only the leisure time of one day a week, she could 
not be called a "full " Aunt. There had been long 
and bitter feuds between the two children during 
Rebecca's first summer in Riverboro, but since 
Mrs. Smellie had told her daughter that one more 
quarrel would invite a punishment so terrible that 
it could only be hinted at vaguely, and Miss Mi- 
randa Sawyer had remarked that any niece of hers 
who could n't get along peaceably with the neigh- 
bors had better go back to the seclusion of a farm 
where there were n't any, hostilities had been 
veiled, and a suave and diplomatic relationship had 
replaced the former one, which had been wholly 
primitive, direct, and barbaric. Still, whenever 
Minnie Smellie, flaxed-haired, pink-nosed, and fer- 
ret-eyed, indulged in fluent conversation, Rebecca, 

30 



JACK O' LANTERN 

remembering the old fairy story, could always see 
toads hopping out of her mouth. It was really very 
unpleasant, because Minnie could never see them 
herself ; and what was more amazing, Emma Jane 
perceived nothing of the sort, being almost as 
blind, too, to the diamonds that fell continually 
from Rebecca's lips ; but Emma Jane's strong 
point was not her imagination. 

A shaky perambulator was found in Mrs. Per- 
kins's wonderful attic ; shoes and stockings were 
furnished by Mrs. Robinson; Miss Jane Sawyer 
knitted a blanket and some shirts ; Thirza Me- 
serve, though too young for an Aunt, coaxed from 
her mother some dresses and nightgowns, and was 
presented with a green paper certificate allowing 
her to wheel Jacky up and down the road for an 
hour under the superintendence of a full Aunt. 
Each girl, under the constitution of the associa- 
tion, could call Jacky " hers " for two days in the 
week, and great, though friendly, was the rivalry 
between them, as they washed, ironed, and sewed 
for their adored nephew. 

If Mrs. Cobb had not been the most amiable 
woman in the world she might have had difficulty 
in managing the Aunts, but she always had Jacky 
to herself the earlier part of the day and after dusk 
at night. 

Meanwhile Jack-o*-lantern grew healthier and 

SI 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

heartier and jollier as the weeks slipped away. 
Uncle Jerry joined the little company of worshipers 
and slaves, and one fear alone stirred in all their 
hearts ; not, as a sensible and practical person 
might imagine, the fear that the recreant father 
might never return to claim his child, but, on the 
contrary, that he might do so ! 

October came at length with its cheery days and 
frosty nights, its glory of crimson leaves and its 
golden harvest of pumpkins and ripened corn. Re- 
becca had been down by the Edgewood side of the 
river and had come up across the pastures for a 
good-night play with Jacky. Her literary labors 
had been somewhat interrupted by the joys and 
responsibilities of vice-motherhood, and the thought 
book was less frequently drawn from its hiding 
place under the old haymow in the barn chamber. 

Mrs. Cobb stood behind the screen door with 
her face pressed against the wire netting, and Re- 
becca could see that she was wiping her eyes. 

All at once the child's heart gave one prophetic 
throb and then stood still. She was like a harp 
that vibrated with every wind of emotion, whether 
from another's grief or her own. 

She looked down the lane, around the curve of 
the stone wall red with woodbine, the lane that 
would meet the stage road to the station. There, 
just mounting the crown of the hill and about to 

32 



JACK O^ LANTERN 

disappear on the other side, strode a stranger man, 
big and tall, with a crop of reddish curly hair show- 
ing from under his straw hat. A woman walked by 
his side, and perched on his shoulder, wearing his 
most radiant and triumphant mien, as joyous in 
leaving Edgewood as he had been during every 
hour of his sojourn there — rode Jack-o'-lantern ! 

Rebecca gave a cry in which maternal longing 
and helpless, hopeless jealousy strove for suprem- 
acy. Then, with an impetuous movement she started 
to run after the disappearing trio. 

Mrs. Cobb opened the door hastily, calling after 
her, "Rebecca, Rebecca, come back here! You 
must n't follow where you have n't any right to 
go. If there 'd been anything to say or do, I 'd 'a' 
done it." 

" He 's mine ! he 's mine ! " stormed Rebecca. 
"** At least he 's yours and mine ! " 

"He's his father's first of all," faltered Mrs. 
Cobb ; " don't let 's forget that ; and we 'd ought to 
be glad an' grateful that John Winslow 's come to 
his senses an' remembers he 's brought a child into 
the world and ought to take care of it. Our loss 
is his gain and it may make a man of him. Come 
in, and we '11 put things away all neat before your 
Uncle Jerry gets home." 

Rebecca sank in a pitiful little heap on Mrs. 
Cobb's bedroom floor and sobbed her heart out. 

33 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

•* Oh, Aunt Sarah, where shall we get another 
Jack-o'-lantern, and how shall I break it to Emma 
Jane ? What if his father does n't love him, and 
what if he forgets to strain the milk or lets him go 
without his nap ? That 's the worst of babies that 
are n't private — you have to part with them sooner 
or later ! " 

** Sometimes you have to part with your own, 
too," said Mrs. Cobb sadly ; and though there were 
lines of sadness in her face there was neither rebel- 
lion nor repining, as she folded up the sides of the 
turn-up bedstead preparatory to banishing it a sec- 
ond time to the attic. " I shall miss Sarah Ellen 
now more 'n ever. Still, Rebecca, we must n't feel 
to complain. It 's the Lord that giveth and the 
Lord that taketh away : Blessed be the n-ime of 
the Lord." 



Second Chronicle 
DAUGHTERS OF ZION 



ABIJAH FLAGG was driving over to 
Wareham on an errand for old Squire 
Winship, whose general chore-boy and 
farmer's assistant he had been for some years. 

He passed Emma Jane Perkins's house slowly, 
as he always did. She was only a little girl of thir- 
teen and he a boy of fifteen or sixteen, but some- 
how, for no particular reason, he liked to see the 
sun shine on her thick braids of reddish-brown hair. 
He admired her china-blue eyes too, and her ami- 
able, friendly expression. He was quite alone in 
the world, and he always thought that if he had 
anybody belonging to him he would rather have a 
sister like Emma Jane Perkins than anything else 
within the power of Providence to bestow. When 
she herself suggested this relationship a few years 
later he cast it aside with scorn, having changed 
his mind in the interval — but that story belongs 
to another time and place. 

Emma Jane was not to be seen in garden, field, 
or at the window, and Abijah turned his gaze to 

35 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 



the large brick house that came next on the other 
side of the quiet village street. It might have been 
closed for a funeral. Neither Miss Miranda nor 
Miss Jane Sawyer sat at their respective windows 
knitting, nor was Rebecca Randall's gypsy face to 
be discerned. Ordinarily that will-o'-the-wispish 
little person could be seen, heard, or felt wherever 
she was. 

" The village must be abed, I guess," mused 
Abijah, as he neared the Robinsons* yellow cot- 
tage, where all the blinds were closed and no sign 
of life showed on porch or in shed. " No, 't ain't, 
neither," he thought again, as his horse crept cau- 
tiously down the hill, for from the direction of the 
Robinsons' barn chamber there floated out into the 
air certain burning sentiments set to the tune of 
" Antioch." The words, to a lad brought up in the 
orthodox faith, were quite distinguishable : — 




-I — h^ — PJ-, 



r« 



J^ 



■t 



** Daugh - ter of Zi - on, from the dust, Ex - alt thy fall - en head I " 

Even the most religious youth is stronger on first 
lines than others, but Abijah pulled up his horse 
and waited till he caught another familiar verscj 
beginning : — 

" Rebuild thy walls, thy bounds enlarge, 
And send thy heralds forth.*' 

36 



DAUGHTERS OF ZION 

" That *s Rebecca carrying the air, and I can 
hear Emma Jane's alto." 




",Say to the North, Give up thy charge, 




« And hold not back, O South, And hold not back, O South," etc 

"Land! ain't they smart, seesawin' up and down 
in that part they learnt in singin* school ! I wonder 
what they 're actin' out, singin' hymn-tunes up in 
the barn chamber ? Some o' Rebecca's doin's, I '11 
be bound ! Git dap, Aleck 1 " 

Aleck pursued his serene and steady trot up 
the hills on the Edgewood side of the river, till at 
length he approached the green Common where 
the old Tory Hill meeting-house stood, its white 
paint and green blinds showing fair and pleasant 
in the afternoon sun. Both doors were open, and 
as Abijah turned into the Wareham road the church 
melodeon pealed out the opening bars of the Mis- 
sionary Hymn, and presently a score of voices sent 
the good old tune from the choir-loft out to the 
dusty road : — 

" Shall we whose souls are lighted 
With wisdom from on high, 

37 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

Shall we to men benighted 
The lamp of life deny ? " 

"Land!" exclaimed Abijah under his breath. 
" They 're at it up here, too ! That explains it all. 
There 's a missionary meeting at the church, and 
the girls wa'n't allowed to come so they held one 
o' their own, and I bate ye it 's the liveliest of the 
two." 

Abijah Flagg's shrewd Yankee guesses were not 
far from the truth, though he was not in posses- 
sion of all the facts. It will be remembered by 
those who have been in the way of hearing Re- 
becca's experiences in Riverboro, that the Rev. and 
Mrs. Burch, returned missionaries from the Far 
East, together with some of their children, — " all 
born under Syrian skies," as they always explained 
to interested inquirers, — spent a day or two at 
the brick house, and gave parlor meetings in native 
costume. 

These visitors, coming straight from foreign 
lands to the little Maine village, brought with them 
a nameless enchantment to the children, and espe- 
cially to Rebecca, whose imagination always kindled 
easily. The romance of that visit had never died 
in her heart, and among the many careers that 
dazzled her youthful vision was that of converting 
such Syrian heathen as might continue in idol 
worship after the Burches' efforts in their behalf 

38 



DAUGHTERS OF ZION 

had ceased. She thought at the age of eighteen 
she might be suitably equipped for storming some 
minor citadel of Mohammedanism ; and Mrs. Burch 
had encouraged her in the idea, not, it is to be 
feared, because Rebecca showed any surplus of 
virtue or Christian grace, but because her gift of 
language, her tact and sympathy, and her musical 
talent*seemed to fit her for the work. 

It chanced that the quarterly meeting of the 
Maine Missionary Society had been appointed just 
at the time when a letter from Mrs. Burch to Miss 
Jane Sawyer suggested that Rebecca should form 
a children's branch in Riverboro. Mrs. Burch's 
real idea was that the young people should save 
their pennies and divert a gentle stream of finan 
cial aid into the parent fund, thus learning early 
in life to be useful in such work, either at home or 
abroad. 

The girls themselves, however, read into her let- 
ter no such modest participation in the conversion 
of the world, and wishing to effect an organization 
without delay, they chose an afternoon when every 
house in the village was vacant, and seized upon the 
Robinsons' barn chamber as the place of meeting. 

Rebecca, Alice Robinson, Emma Jane Perkins, 
Candace Milliken, and Persis Watson, each with 
her hymn-book, had climbed the ladder leading to 
the haymow a half-hour before Abijah Flagg had 

39 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

heard the strains of " Daughter of Zion " floating 
out to the road. Rebecca, being an executive per- 
son, had carried, besides her hymn-book, a silver 
call-bell and pencil and paper. An animated dis- 
cussion regarding one of two names for the society, 
The Junior Heralds or The Daughters of Zion, 
had resulted in a unanimous vote for the latter, 
and Rebecca had been elected president at an 
early stage of the meeting. She had modestly sug- 
gested that Alice Robinson, as the granddaughter 
of a missionary to China, would be much more 
eligible. 

"No," said Alice, with entire good nature, "who- 
ever is elected president, you will be, Rebecca — 
you 're that kind — so you might as well have the 
honor; I 'd just as lieves be secretary, anyway." 

" If you should want me to be treasurer, I could 
be, as well as not," said Persis Watson suggestively; 
"for you know my father keeps china banks at 
his store — ones that will hold as much as two dol- 
lars if you will let them. I think he 'd give us one 
if I happen to be treasurer." 

The three principal officers were thus elected at 
one fell swoop and with an entire absence of that 
red tape which commonly renders organization so 
tiresome, Candace Milliken suggesting that per- 
haps she 'd better be vice-president, as Emma Jane 
Perkins was always so bashfui. 

40 



DAUGHTERS OF ZION 

*' We ought to have more members," she re- 
minded the other girls, "but if we had invited 
them the first day they 'd have all wanted to be 
officers, especially Minnie SmelHe, so it 's just as 
well not to ask them till another time. Is Thirza 
Meserve too little to join ? " 

"I can't think why anybody named Meserve 
should have called a baby Thirza," said Rebecca, 
somewhat out of order, though the meeting was 
carried on with small recognition of parliamentary 
laws. " It always makes me want to say : — 

Thirza Meserver, 
Heaven preserve her I 

or 

Thirza Meserver 
Do we deserve her? 

She 's little, but she 's sweet, and absolutely with- 
out guile. I think we ought to have her." 

" Is ' guile ' the same as guilt } " inquired Emma 
Jane Perkins. 

" Yes," the president answered ; " exactly the 
same, except one is written and the other spoken 
language." (Rebecca was rather good at imbibing 
information, and a master hand at imparting it !) 
" Written language is for poems and graduations 
and occasions like this — kind of like a best Sun- 
day-go-to-meeting dress that you would n't like to 
go blueberrying in for fear of getting it spotted." 

41 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

"I 'd just as lieves get 'guile' spotted as not," 
affirmed the unimaginative Emma Jane. *' I think 
it 's an awful foolish word ; but now we 're all 
named and our officers elected, what do we do 
first ? It 's easy enough for Mary and Martha 
Burch ; they just play at missionarying because 
their folks work at it, same as Living and I used to 
make believe be blacksmiths when we were little." 

" It must be nicer missionarying in those foreign 
places," said Persis, ** because on 'Afric's shores 
and India's plains and other spots where Satan 
reigns ' (that 's father's favorite hymn) there *s 
always a heathen bowing down to wood and stone. 
You can take away his idols if he '11 let you and 
give him a Bible and the beginning 's all made. But 
who '11 we begin on ? Jethro Small .'* " 

" Oh, he 's entirely too dirty, and foolish be- 
sides ! " exclaimed Candace. ** Why not Ethan 
Hunt } He swears dreadfully." 

"He lives on nuts and is a hermit, and it's a 
mile to his camp through the thick woods ; my 
mother '11 never let me go there," objected Alice. 
*' There 's Uncle Tut Judson." 

" He 's too old ; he 's most a hundred and deaf 
as a post," complained Emma Jane. *' Besides, his 
married daughter is a Sabbath-school teacher — 
why doesn't she teach him to behave.^ I can't 
think of anybody just right to start on 1 " 

42 



DAUGHTERS OF ZION 

"Don't talk like that, Emma Jane," and Re- 
becca's tone had a tinge of reproof in it. " We are 
a copperated body named the Daughters of Zion, 
and, of course, we 've got to find something to do. 
Foreigners* are the easiest ; there 's a Scotch fam- 
ily at North Riverboro, an English one in Edge- 
wood, and one Cuban man at Milliken's Mills.' 

"Haven't foreigners got any religion of their 
own } " inquired Persis curiously. 

" Ye-es, I s'pose so ; kind of a one ; but foreign- 
ers' religions are never right — ours is the only 
good one." This was from Candace, the deacon's 
daughter. 

** I do think it must be dreadful, being born with 
a religion and growing up with it, and then finding 
out it 's no use and all your time wasted ! " Here 
Rebecca sighed, chewed a straw, and looked trou- 
bled. 

" Well, that 's your punishment for being a hea- 
then," retorted Candace, who had been brought up 
strictly. 

** But I can't for the life of me see how you can 
help being a heathen if you 're born in Africa," 
persisted Persis, who was well named. 

"You can't." Rebecca was clear on this point. 
" I had that all out with Mrs. Burch when she was 
visiting Aunt Miranda. She says they can't help 
being heathen, but if there 's a single mission sta- 

43 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

tion in the whole of Africa, they 're accountable if 
they don't go there and get saved." 

•'Are there plenty of stages and railroads?'* 
asked Alice ; ** because there must be dreadfully 
long distances, and what if they could n't pay the 
fare ? " 

•'That part of it is so dreadfully puzzly we 
mustn't talk about it, please," said Rebecca, her 
sensitive face quivering with the force of the prob- 
lem. Poor little soul ! She did not realize that her 
superiors in age and intellect had spent many a 
sleepless night over that same " accountability of 
the heathen." 

"It's too bad the Simpsons have moved away," 
said Candace. " It *s so seldom you can find a real 
big wicked family like that to save, with only Clara 
Belle and Susan good in it." 

" And numbers count for so much," continued 
Alice. " My grandmother says if missionaries can't 
convert about so many in a year the Board advises 
them to come back to America and take up some 
other work." 

"I know," Rebecca corroborated ; "and it's the 
same with revivalists. At the Centennial picnic at 
North Riverboro, a revivalist sat opposite to Mr. 
Ladd and Aunt Jane and me, and he was telling 
about his wonderful success in Bangor last winter. 
He 'd converted a hundred and thirty in a month, 

44 



DAUGHTERS OF ZION 

he said, or about four and a third a day. I had 
just finished fractions, so I asked Mr. Ladd how 
the third ot a man could be converted. He laughed 
and said it was just the other way; that the man 
was a third converted. Then he explained that if 
you were trying to convince a person of his sin on 
a Monday, and could n't quite finish by sundown, 
perhaps you would n't want to sit up all night with 
him, and perhaps he would n't want you to ; so you 'd 
begin again on Tuesday, and you could n't say just 
which day he was converted, because it would be 
two thirds on Monday and one third on Tuesday." 

** Mr. Ladd is always making fun, and the Board 
could n't expect any great things of us girls, new 
beginners," suggested Emma Jane, who was being 
constantly warned against tautology by her teacher. 
" I think it *s awful rude, anyway, to go right out 
and try to convert your neighbors ; but if you bor- 
row a horse and go to Edgewood Lower Corner, or 
Milliken's Mills, I s'pose that makes it Foreign 
Missions." 

" Would we each go alone or wait upon them with 
a committee, as they did when they asked Deacon 
Tuttle for a contribution for the new hearse } " asked 
Persis. 

" Oh ! we must go alone," decided Rebecca ; ** it 
would be much more refined and delicate. Aunt 
Miranda says that one man alone could never get 

45 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

a subscription from Deacon Tuttle, and that's the 
reason they sent a committee. But it seems to me 
Mrs. Burch could n't mean for us to try and con- 
vert people when we're none of us even church- 
members, except Candace. I think all we can do is 
to persuade them to go to meeting and Sabbath- 
school, or give money for the hearse, or the new 
horse-sheds. Now let 's all think quietly for a min- 
ute or two who 's the very most heathenish and 
reperrehensiblest person in Riverboro." 

After a very brief period of silence the words 
" Jacob Moody " fell from all lips with entire ac- 
cord. 

** You are right," said the president tersely;" and 
after singing hymn number two hundred seventy 
four, to be found on the sixty-sixth page, we will 
take up the question of persuading Mr. Moody to 
attend divine service or the minister's Bible class, 
he not having been in the meeting-house for lo ! 
these many years. 

* Daughter of Zion, the power that hath saved thee 
Extolled with the harp and the timbrel should be.* 

Sing without reading, if you please, omitting the 
second stanza. Hymn two seventy four, to be found 
on the sixty-sixth page of the new hymn-book or 
on page thirty-two of Emma Jane Perkins's old 



one." 



46 



DAUGHTERS OF ZION 

11 

It is doubtful if the Rev. Mr. Burch had ever 
found in Syria a person more difficult to persuade 
than the already " gospel-hardened " Jacob Moody 
of Riverboro. 

Tall, gaunt, swarthy, black-bearded — his masses 
of grizzled, uncombed hair and the red scar across 
his nose and cheek added to his sinister appear- 
ance. His tumble-down house stood on a rocky 
bit of land back of the Sawyer pasture, and the 
acres of his farm stretched out on all sides of it. 
He lived alone, ate alone, plowed, planted, sowed, 
harvested alone, and was more than willing to die 
alone, "unwept, unhonored, and unsung." The road 
that bordered upon his fields was comparatively 
little used by any one, and notwithstanding the 
fact that it was thickly set with chokecherry trees 
and blackberry bushes it had been for years prac- 
tically deserted by the children. Jacob's Red As- 
trakhan and Granny Garland trees hung thick 
with apples, but no Riverboro or Edgewood boy 
stole them ; for terrifying accounts of the fate that 
had overtaken one urchin in times agone had been 
handed along from boy to boy, protecting the 
Moody fruit far better than any police patrol. 

Perhaps no circumstances could have extenuated 
the old man's surly manners or his lack of all citi- 

47 



'!» 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

zenly graces and virtues ; but his neighbors com* 
monly rebuked his present way of living and forgot 
the troubled past that had brought it about : the 
sharp-tongued wife, the unloving and disloyal sons, 
the daughter's hapless fate, and all the other sorry 
tricks that Fortune had played upon him — at least 
that was the way in which he had always regarded 
his disappointments and griefs. 

This, then, was the personage whose moral re- 
habilitation was to be accomplished by the Daugh- 
ters of Zion. But how ? 

" Who will volunteer to visit Mr. Moody ? " 
blandly asked the president. 

Visit Mr. Moody ! It was a wonder the roof of 
the barn chamber did not fall ; it did, indeed, echo 
the words and in some way make them sound more 
grim and satirical. 

" Nobody '11 volunteer, Rebecca Rowena Randall, 
and you know it," said Emma Jane. 

" Why don't we draw lots, when none of us wants 
to speak to him and yet one of us must } " 

This suggestion fell from Persis Watson, who 
had been pale and thoughtful ever since the first 
mention of Jacob Moody. (She was fond of Granny 
Garlands ; she had once met Jacob ; and, as to what 
befell, well, we all have our secret tragedies !) 

" Would n't it be wicked to settle it that way ?" 

** It 's gamblers that draw lots." 

48- 



DAUGHTERS OF ZION 

'* People did it in the Bible ever so often." 

*' It does n't seem nice for a missionary meeting." 

These remarks fell all together upon the presi- 
dent's bewildered ear the while (as she always said 
in compositions) — " the while " she was trying to 
adjust the ethics of this unexpected and difficult 
dilemma. 

" It is a very puzzly question," she said thought- 
fully. " I could ask Aunt Jane if we had time, but 
I suppose we have n't. It does n't seem nice to 
draw lots, and yet how can we settle it without ? 
We know we mean right, and perhaps it will be. 
Alice, take this paper and tear off five narrow 
pieces, all different lengths." 

At this moment a voice from a distance floated 
up to the haymow — a voice saying plaintively : 
** Will you let me play with you, girls ? Huldah 
has gone to ride, and I 'm all alone." 

It was the voice of the absolutely-with out-guile 
Thirza Meserve, and it came at an opportune mo- 
ment. 

" If she is going to be a member," said Persis, 
" why not let her come up and hold the lots ? She 'd 
be real honest and not favor anybody." 

It seemed an excellent idea, and was followed up 
so quickly that scarcely three minutes ensued be- 
fore the guileless one was holding the five scraps 
in her. hot little palm, laboriously changing their 

49 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

places again and again until they looked exactly 
alike and all rather soiled and wilted. 

" Come, girls, draw ! " commanded the president. 
" Thirza, you must n't chew gum at a missionary 
meeting, it is n't polite nor holy. Take it out and 
stick it somewhere till the exercises are over." 

The five Daughters of Zion approached the spot 
so charged with fate, and extended their trembling 
hands one by one. Then after a moment's silent 
clutch of their papers they drew nearer to one an- 
other and compared them. 

Emma Jane Perkins had drawn the short one, 
becoming thus the destined instrument for Jacob 
Moody's conversion to a more seemly manner of 
life! 

She looked about her despairingly, as if to seek 
some painless and respectable method of self-de- 
struction. 

" Do let 's draw over again," she pleaded. ** I 'm 
the worst of all of us. I 'm sure to make a mess of 
it till I kind o* get trained in." 

Rebecca's heart sank at this frank confession, 
which only corroborated her own fears. 

"I'm sorry, Emmy, dear," she said, "but our 
only excuse for drawing lots at all would be to have 
it sacred. We must think of it as a kind of a sign, 
almost like God speaking to Moses in the burning 
bush." 

50 



DAUGHTERS OF ZION 

" Oh, I wish there was a burning bush right 
here! "cried the distracted and recalcitrant mis- 
sionary. *' How quick I 'd step into it without even 
stopping to take off my garnet ring ! " 

" Don't be such a scare-cat, Emma Jane ! " ex- 
claimed Candace bracingly. "Jacob Moody can't 
kill you, even if he has an awful temper. Trot right 
along now before you get more frightened. Shall 
we go 'cross lots with her, Rebecca, and wait at 
the pasture gate ? Then whatever happens Alica 
can put it down in the minutes of the meeting." 

In these terrible crises of life time gallops with 
such incredible velocity that it seemed to Emmq 
Jane only a breath before she was being dragged 
through the fields by the other Daughters of Zion, 
the guileless little Thirza panting in the rear. 

At the entrance to the pasture Rebecca gavq 
her an impassioned embrace, and whispering, 
** Whatever you dOy be careful how you lead up!^ 
lifted off the top rail and pushed her through the 
bars. Then the girls turned their backs reluctantly 
on the pathetic figure, and each sought a tree under 
whose friendly shade she could watch, and perhaps 
pray, until the missionary should return from her 
field of labor. 

Alice Robinson, whose compositions were always 
marked 96 or 97, — 100 symbolizing such perfec- 
tion as could be attained in the mortal world o,i 

51 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

Riverboro, — Alice, not only Daughter, but Scribe 
of Zion, sharpened her pencil and wrote a few well- 
chosen words of introduction, to be used when the 
records of the afternoon had been made by Emma 
Jane Perkins and Jacob Moody. 

Rebecca's heart beat tumultuously under her 
gingham dress. She felt that a drama was being 
enacted, and though unfortunately she was not the 
central figure, she had at least a modest part in it. 
The short lot had not fallen to the properest Daugh- 
ter, that she quite realized ; yet would any one of 
them succeed in winning Jacob Moody's attention, 
in engaging him in pleasant conversation, and finally 
in bringing him to a realization of his mistaken way 
of life ? She doubted, but at the same moment her 
spirits rose at the thought of the difficulties involved 
in the undertaking. 

Difficulties always spurred Rebecca on, but 
they daunted poor Emma Jane, who had no little 
thrills of excitement and wonder and fear and long- 
ing to sustain her lagging soul. That her inter- 
view was to be entered as " minutes " by a secretary 
seemed to her the last straw. Her blue eyes looked 
lighter than usual and had the glaze of china sau- 
cers; her usually pink cheeks were pale, but she 
pressed on, determined to be a faithful Daughter 
of Zion, and above all to be worthy of Rebecca's 
admiration and respect. 

52 



DAUGHTERS OF ZION 

" Rebecca can do anything," she thought, with 
enthusiastic loyalty, "and I must n't be any stupider 
than I can help, or she '11 choose one of the other 
girls for her most intimate friend." So, mustering 
all her courage, she turned into Jacob Moody's 
dooryard, where he was chopping wood. 

** It 's a pleasant afternoon, Mr. Moody," she said 
in a polite but hoarse whisper, Rebecca's words, 
" Lead up ! Lead tip ! " ringing in clarion tones 
through her brain. 

Jacob Moody looked at her curiously. " Good 
enough, I guess," he growled; "but I don't never 
have time to look at afternoons." 

Emma Jane seated herself timorously on the 
end of a large log near the chopping-block, suppos- 
ing that Jacob, like other hosts, would pause in his 
tasks and chat. 

" The block is kind of like an idol,'* she thought ; 
** I wish I could take it away from him, and then 
perhaps he 'd talk." 

At this moment Jacob raised his axe and came 
down on the block with such a stunning blow that 
Emma Jane fairly leaped into the air. 

" You 'd better look out. Sissy, or you '11 git 
chips in the eye 1 " said Moody, grimly going on 
with his work. 

The Daughter of Zion sent up a silent prayer 
for inspiration, but none came, and she sat silent, 

53 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

giving nervous jumps in spite of herself whenever 
the axe fell upon the log Jacob was cutting. 

Finally, the host became tired of his dumb vis- 
itor, and leaning on his axe he said, " Look here. 
Sis, what have you come for ? What 's your errant? 
Do you want apples ? or cider ? or what ? Speak 
out, or git out, one or t' other." 

Emma Jane, who had wrung her handkerchief 
into a clammy ball, gave it a last despairing wrench, 
and faltered : ** Would n't you like — had n't you 
better — don't you think you'd ought to be more 
constant at meeting and Sabbath-school ? " 

Jacob's axe almost dropped from his nerveless 
hand, and he regarded the Daughter of Zion with 
unspeakable rage and disdain. Then, the blood 
mounting in his face, he gathered himself together, 
and shouted : ** You take yourself off that log and 
out o* this dooryard double-quick, you imperdent 
sanct'omus young one ! You just let me ketch Bill 
Perkins's child trying to teach me where I shall go, 
at my age ! Scuttle, I tell ye ! And if I see your 
pious cantin' little mug inside my fence ag'in on 
sech a business I '11 chase ye down the hill or set 
the dog on ye ! Scoot, I tell ye ! " 

Emma Jane obeyed orders summarily, taking 
herself off the log, out the dooryard, and other- 
wise scuttling and scooting down the hill at a 
pace never contemplated even by Jacob Moody, 

54. 



DAUGHTERS OF ZION 

who stood regarding her flying heels with a sar. 
donic grin. 

Down she stumbled, the tears coursing over her 
cheeks and mingling with the dust of her flight ; 
blighted hope, shame, fear, rage, all tearing her 
bosom in turn, till with a hysterical shriek she 
fell over the bars and into Rebecca's arms out- 
stretched to receive her. The other Daughters 
wiped her eyes and supported her almost fainting 
form, while Thirza, thoroughly frightened, burst 
into sympathetic tears, and refused to be com- 
forted. 

No questions were asked, for it was felt by all 
parties that Emma Jane's demeanor was answer- 
ing them before they could be framed. 

" He threatened to set the dog on me ! " she 
wailed presently, when, as they neared the Sawyer 
pasture, she was able to control her voice. *' He 
called me a pious, cantin' young one, and said he 'd 
chase me out o' the dooryard if I ever came again 1 
And he '11 tell my father — I know he will, for he 
hates him like poison." 

All at once the adult point of view dawned upon 
Rebecca. She never saw it until it was too obvious 
to be ignored. Had they done wrong in interviewing 
Jacob Moody ? Would Aunt Miranda be angry, as 
well as Mr. Perkins ? 

" Why was he so dreadful, Emmy ? " she ques- 

55 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

tioned tenderly. "What did you say first? How 
did you lead up to it ? " 

Emma Jane sobbed more convulsively, and wiped 
her nose and eyes impartially as she tried to think. 

** I guess I never led up at all ; not a mite. I 
did n't know what you meant. I was sent on an 
errant, and I went and done it the best I could ! 
(Emma Jane's grammar always lapsed in moments 
of excitement.) And then Jake roared at me like 
Squire Winship's bull. . . . And he called my fa-ce 
a mug. . . . You shut up that secretary book, 
Alice Robinson ! If you write down a single word 
I '11 never speak to you again. . . . And I don't 
want to be a * member ' another minute for fear of 
drawing another short lot. I 've got enough of the 
Daughters of Zion to last m.e the rest o' my life! 
I don't care who goes to meetin' and who don't." " 

The girls were at the Perkins's gate by this 
time, and Emma Jane went sadly into the empty 
house to remove all traces of the tragedy from her 
person before her mother should come home from 
the church. 

The others wended their way slowly down the 
street, feeling that their promising missionary 
branch had died almost as soon as it had budded. 

" Good-by," said Rebecca, swallowing lumps of 
disappointment and chagrin as she saw the whole 
inspiring plan break and vanish into thin air like 

S6 



DAUGHTERS OF ZION 

an iridescent bubble. ** It 's all over and we won't 
ever try it again. I 'm going in to do overcasting 
as hard as I can, because I hate that the worst 
Aunt Jane must write to Mrs. Burch that we don't 
want to be home missionaries. Perhaps we 're not 
big enough, anyway. I 'm perfectly certain it 's 
nicer to convert people when they 're yellow or 
brown or any color but white; and I believe it 
must be easier to save their souls than it is to 
make them go to meeting." 



Third Chronicle 
REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 



THE "Sawyer girls'" barn still had its 
haymow in Rebecca's time, although the 
hay was a dozen years old or more, and, 
in the opinion of the occasional visiting horse, sadly 
juiceless and wanting in flavor. It still sheltered, 
too, old Deacon Israel Sawyer's carryall and mow- 
ing-machine, with his pung, his sleigh, and a dozen 
other survivals of an earlier era, when the broad 
acres of the brick house went to make one of the 
finest farms in Riverboro. 

There were no horses or cows in the stalls now- 
adays; no pig grunting comfortably of future 
spare ribs in the sty ; no hens to peck the plants 
in the cherished garden patch. The Sawyer girls 
were getting on in years, and, mindful that care 
once killed a cat, they ordered their lives with the 
view of escaping that particular doom, at least, and 
succeeded fairly well until Rebecca's advent made 
existence a trifle more sensational. 

Once a month for years upon years. Miss Mi- 
randa and Miss Jane had put towels over their 

58 



REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 

heads and made a solemn visit to the barn, taking 
off the enameled cloth coverings (occasionally 
called "emmanuel covers" in Riverboro), dusting 
the ancient implements, and sometimes sweeping 
the heaviest of the cobwebs from the corners, or 
giving a brush to the floor. 

Deacon Israel's tottering ladder still stood in its 
accustomed place, propped against the haymow, 
and the heavenly stairway leading to eternal glory 
scarcely looked fairer to Jacob of old than this 
to Rebecca. By means of its dusty rounds she 
mounted, mounted, mounted far away from time 
and care and maiden aunts, far away from childish 
tasks and childish troubles, to the barn chamber, 
a place so full of golden dreams, happy reveries,, 
and vague longings, that, as her little brown hands 
clung to the sides of the ladder and her feet trod 
the rounds cautiously in her ascent, her heart almost 
stopped beating in the sheer joy of anticipation. 

Once having gained the heights, the next thing 
was to unlatch the heavy doors and give them a 
gentle swing outward. Then, oh, ever new Para- 
dise ! then, oh, ever lovely green and growing 
world ! for Rebecca had that something in her soul 
that 

" Gives to seas and sunset skies 
The unspent beauty of surprise." 

At the top of Guide Board hill she could see Alice 

59 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

Robinson's barn with its shining weather-vane, a 
huge burnished fish that swam with the wind and 
foretold the day to all Riverboro. The mtjadow, 
with its sunny slopes stretching up to the pine 
woods, was sometimes a flowing sheet of shimmer- 
ing grass, sometimes — when daisies and butter-* 
cups were blooming — a vision of white and gold. 
Sometimes the shorn stubble would be dott/sd with 
"the happy hills of hay," and a little later the 
rock maple on the edge of the pines wouli stand 
out like a golden ball against the green ; its neigh- 
bor, the sugar maple, glowing beside it, brave in 
scarlet. 

It was on one of these autumn days with a 
wintry nip in the air that Adam Ladd (Rebecca's 
favorite " Mr. Aladdin "), after searching for her in 
field and garden, suddenly noticed the open doors 
of the barn chamber, and called to her. At the 
sound of his voice she dropped her precious diary, 
and flew to the edge of the haymow. He never for- 
got the vision of the startled little poetess, book in 
one mittened hand, pencil in the other, dark hair 
all ruflfled, with the picturesque addition of an occa- 
sional blade of straw, her cheeks crimison, her eyes 
shining. 

" A Sappho in mittens ! " he cried laughingly, 
and at her eager question told her to look up the 
unknown lady in the school encyclopaedia, when 

60 



REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 

she was admitted to the Female Seminary at Ware 
ham. 

Now, all being ready, Rebecca went to a corner 
of the haymow, and withdrew a thick blank-book 
with mottled covers. Out of her gingham apron 
pocket came a pencil, a bit of rubber, and some 
pieces of brown paper ; then she seated herself 
gravely on the floor, and drew an inverted soap- 
box nearer to her for a table. 

The book was reverently opened, and there wa& 
a serious reading of the extracts already carefully 
copied therein. Most of them were apparently to* 
the writer's liking, for dimples of pleasure showed 
themselves now and then, and smiles of obvious 
delight played about her face ; but once in a while 
there was a knitting of the brows and a sigh of dis- 
couragement, showing that the artist in the child 
was not wholly satisfied. 

Then came the crucial moment when the budding 
author was supposedly to be racked with the throes 
of composition ; but seemingly there were no throes. 
Other girls could wield the darning or crochet or 
knitting needle, and send the tatting-shuttle through 
loops of the finest cotton; hemstitch, oversew, braid 
hair in thirteen strands, but the pencil was never 
obedient in their fingers, and the pen and ink-pot 
were a horror from early childhood to the end of 
time. 

6i 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

Not so with Rebecca ; her pencil moved as easily 
as her tongue, and no more striking simile could 
possibly be used. Her handwriting was not Spen- 
cerian ; she had neither time, nor patience, it is to 
be feared, for copybook methods, and her unformed 
characters were frequently the despair of her teach- 
ers ; but write she could, write she would, write she 
must and did, in season and out ; from the time she 
made pothooks at six, till now, writing was the easi- 
est of all possible tasks ; to be indulged in as solace 
and balm when the terrors of examples in least com- 
mon multiple threatened to dethrone the reason, or 
the rules of grammar loomed huge and unconquer- 
able in the near horizon. 

As to spelling, it came to her in the main by free 
grace, and not by training, and though she slipped 
at times from the beaten path, her extraordinary 
ear and good visual memory kept her from many 
or flagrant mistakes. It was her intention, espe- 
cially when saying her prayers at night, to look up 
all doubtful words in her small dictionary, before 
copying her Thoughts into the sacred book for the 
inspiration of posterity ; but when genius burned 
with a brilliant flame, and particularly when she 
was in the barn and the dictionary in the house, 
impulse as usual carried the day. 

There sits Rebecca, then, in the open door of the 
Sawyers' barn chamber — the sunset door. How 

62 



REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 

many a time had her grandfather, the good deacon, 
sat just underneath in his tipped-back chair, when 
Mrs. Israel's temper was uncertain, and the seren- 
ity of the barn was in comforting contrast to his 
own fireside ! 

The open doors swinging out to the peaceful 
landscape, the solace of the pipe, not allowed in 
the " settin'-room " — how beautifully these simple 
agents have ministered to the family peace in days 
agone ! " If I had n't had my barn and my store 
both^ I could n't never have lived in holy matrimony 
with Maryliza! " once said Mr. Watson feelingly. 

But the deacon, looking on his waving grass fields, 
his tasseling corn and his timber lands, bright and 
honest as were his eyes, never saw such visions 
as Rebecca, The child, transplanted from her 
home-farm at Sunnybrook, from the care of the 
overworked but easy-going mother, and the com- 
panionship of the scantily fed, scantily clothed, 
happy-go-lucky brothers and sisters — she had in- 
deed fallen on shady days in Riverboro. The blinds 
were closed in every room of the house but two, 
and the same might have been said of Miss Miran- 
da's mind and heart, though Miss Jane had a few 
windows opening to the sun, and Rebecca already 
had her unconscious hand on several others. Brick- 
house rules were rigid and many for a little crea- 
ture so full of life, but Rebecca's gay spirit could 

63 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

not be pinioned in a strait-jacket for long at a time ; 
it escaped somehow and winged its merry way into 
the sunshine and free air ; if she were not allowed 
to sing in the orchard, like the wild bird she was, 
she could still sing in the cage, like the canary. 

II 

If you had opened the carefully guarded volume 
with the mottled covers, you would first have seen 
a wonderful title-page, constructed apparently on 
the same lines as an obituary, or the inscription on 
a tombstone, save for the quantity and variety of 
information contained in it. Much of the matter 
would seem to the captious critic better adapted to 
the body of the book than to the title-page, but 
Rebecca was apparently anxious that the principal 
personages in her chronicle should be well described 
at the outset. 

She seems to have had a conviction that heredity 
plays its part in the evolution of genius, and her be- 
lief thatthe world will be inspired by the possession 
of her Thoughts is too artless to be offensive. She 
evidently has respect for rich material confided to 
her teacher, and one can imagine Miss Dearborn's 
woe had she been confronted by Rebecca's chosen 
literary executor and bidden to deliver certain "Val- 
uable Poetry and Thoughts," the property of pos- 
terity "unless carelessly destroyed." 

64 



THOUGHT BOOK 

of 

Rebecca Rowena Randall 

Really of 

Sunnybrook Farm 

But Temporily of 

The Brick House Riverboro. 

Own niece of Miss Miranda and Jane Sawyer 

Second of seven children of her father Mr. L. D. M. Randall 

(Now at rest in Temperance cemmetary and there will be a 

monument as soon as we pay off the morgage on the farm) 

Also of her mother Mrs. Aurelia Randall 

In case of Death the best of these Thoughts 

May be printed in my Remerniscences 

For the Sunday School Library at Temperance, Maine 

Which needs more books fearfully 

And I hereby Will and Testament them 

To Mr. Adam Ladd 

Who bought 300 cakes of soap from me 

And thus secured a premium 

A Greatly Needed Banquet Lamp 

For my friends the Simpsons. 

He is the only one that incourages 

My writing Remerniscences and 

My teacher Miss Dearborn will 

Have much Valuable Poetry and Thoughts 

To give him unless carelessly destroyed. 

The pictures are by the same hand that 
Wrote the Thoughts. 

It is not now decided whether Rebecca Rowena Randall will be a 
painter or an author ^ but after her death it will be known which 
the has been, if any. 




NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

From the title-page, with its wealth of detail, 
and its unnecessary and irrelevant information, the 
book ripples on like a brook, and to the weary 
reader of problem novels it may have something of 
the brook's refreshing quaUty. 

OUR DIARIES 

May, 1 87-. 

All the girls are keeping a diary because Miss 
Dearborn was very much ashamed when the school 
trustees told her that most of the girls* and all of 
the boys* compositions were disgraceful, and must 
be improved upon next term. She asked the boys to 
write letters to her once a week instead of keeping 
a diary, which they thought was girlish like play- 
ing with dolls. The boys thought it was dreadful to 
have to write letters every seven days, but she told 
them it was not half as bad for them as it was for 
her who had to read them. 

To make my diary a little different I am going 
to call it a Thought Book (written just like that, 
with capitals). I have thoughts that I never can 
use unless I write them down, for Aunt Miranda 
always says. Keep your thoughts to yourself. Aunt 
Jane lets me tell her some, but does not like my 
queer ones and my true thoughts are mostly queer. 
Emma Jane does not mind hearing them now and 
then, and that is my only chance. 



REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 

If Miss Dearborn does not like the name 
Thought Book I will call it Remerniscences (writ- 
ten just like that with a capital R). Remernis- 
cences are things you remember about yourself 
and write down in case you should die. Aunt 
Jane does n't like to read any other kind of books 
but just lives of interesting dead people and she 
says that is what Longfellow (who was born in 
the state of Maine and we should be very proud 
of it and try to write like him) meant in his 
poem ; — 

" Lives of great men all remind us 
We should make our lives sublime, 
And departing, leave behind us 
Footprints on the sands of time." 

I know what this means because when Emma 
Jane and I went to the beach with Uncle Jerry* 
Cobb we ran along the wet sand and looked at the 
shapes our boots made, just as if they were stamped 
in wax. Emma Jane turns in her left foot (splay- 
foot the boys call it, which is not polite) and 
Seth Strout had just patched one of my shoes and 
it all came out in the sand pictures. When I 
learned The Psalm of Life for Friday afternoon 
speaking I thought I should n't like to leave a 
patched footprint, nor have Emma Jane's look 
crooked on the sands of time, and right away I 
thought Oh ! what a splendid thought for my 

6/ 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

Thought Book when Aunt Jane buys me a fifteen- 
cent one over to Watson's store. 



REMERNISCENCES 

June, 187-. 

I told Aunt Jane I was going to begin my Rem , 
erniscences, and she says I am full young, but I ' 
reminded her that Candace Milliken's sister died 
when she was ten, leaving no footprints whatever, 
and if I should die suddenly who would write down 
my Remerniscences ? Aunt Miranda says the sun 
and moon would rise and set just the same, and it 
was no matter if they did n't get written down, and 
to go up attic and find her piece-bag; but I said it 
would, as there was only one of ever}'body in the 
world, and nobody else could do their remerniscen- 
sing for them. If I should die to-night I know not 
who would describe me right. Miss Dearborn would 
say one thing and brother John another. Emma Jane 
would tr)^ to do me justice, but has no words ; and I 
am glad Aunt r^Iiranda never takes the pen in hand. 

My dictionary is so small it has not many gen- 
teel words in it, and I cannot find how to spell 
Remerniscences, but I remember from the cover of 
Aunt Jane's book that there was an "s" and a 
''c" close together in the middle of it, which 1 
thought foolish and not needful. 

68 



REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 

All the girls like their diaries very much, but 
Minnie Smellie got Alice Robinson's where she 
had hid it under the school wood-pile and read it 
all through. She said it was no worse than reading 
anybody's composition, but we told her it was just 
like peeking through a keyhole, or listening at a 
window, or opening a bureau drawer. She said she 
did n't look at it that way, and I told her that un- 
less her eyes got unscealed she would never leave 
any kind of a sublime footprint on the sands of 
time. I told her a diary was very sacred as you 
generally poured your deepest feelings into it ex- 
pecting nobody to look at it but yourself and your 
indulgent heavenly Father who seeeth all things. 

Of course it would not hurt Persis Watson to 
show her diary because she has not a sacred plan 
and this is the way it goes, for she reads it out 
loud to us : — 

" Arose at six this morning — (you always arise 
in a diary but you say get up when you talk 
about it). Ate breakfast at half past six. Had soda 
biscuits, coffee, fish hash and doughnuts. Wiped 
the dishes, fed the hens and made my bed before 
school. Had a good arithmetic lesson, but went 
down two in spelling. At half past four played hide 
and coop in the Sawyer pasture. Fed hens and 
went to bed at eight." 

She says she can't put in what does n't happen, 

69 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

but as I don't think her diary is interesting she 
will ask her mother to have meat hash instead of 
fish, with pie when the doughnuts give out, and 
she will feed the hens before breakfast to make a 
change. We are all going now to try and make 
something happen every single day so the diaries 
won't be so dull and the footprints so common. 
• ««**«♦« 

AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT 

July 1 87-. 

We dug up our rosecakes to-day, and that gave 
me a good Remerniscence. The way you make 
rosecakes is, you take the leaves of full blown roses 
and mix them with a little cinnamon and as much 
brown sugar as they will give you, which is never 
half enough except Persis Watson, whose affection- 
ate parents let her go to the barrel in their store. 
Then you do up little bits like sedlitz powders, 
first in soft paper and then in brown, and bury 
them in the ground and let them stay as long as 
you possibly can hold out ; then dig them up and 
eat them. Emma Jane and I stick up little signs 
over the holes in the ground with the date we 
buried them and when they *11 be done enough to 
dig up, but we can never wait. When Aunt Jane 
saw us she said it was the first thing for children 
to learn, — not to be impatient, — so when I went 
to the barn chamber I made a poem. 

70 



REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 

IMPATIENCE 

We dug our rose cakes up oh ! all too soon. 

T was in the orchard just at noon. 

*T was in a bright July forenoon. 

*T was in the sunny afternoon. 

'T was underneath the harvest moon. 

It was not that way at all ; it was a foggy morn- 
ing before school, and I should think poets could 
never possibly get to heaven, for it is so hard to 
stick to the truth when you are writing poetry. 
Emma Jane thinks it is nobody's business when 
we dug the rosecakes up. I like the line about the 
harvest moon best, but it would give a wrong idea 
of our lives and characters to the people that read 
my Thoughts, for they would think we were up 
late nights, so I have fixed it like this : 

IMPATIENCE 

We dug our rose cakes up oh ! all too soon, 
We thought their sweetness would be such a boon. 
We ne'er suspicioned they would not be done 
After three days of autumn wind and sun. 
Why did we from the earth our treasures draw? 
'T was not for fear that rat or mole might naw, 
An aged aunt doth say impatience was the reason, 
She says that youth is ever out of season. 

That is just as Aunt Jane said it, and it gave 
me the thought for the poem which is rather un- 
common. 



71 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

A DREADFUL QUESTION 

September, 187-. 

Which has been the most Beiiefercent hifluence on 
Character — Pn7iish7nent or Reward ? 

This truly dreadful question was given us by 
Dr. Moses when he visited school to-day. He is a 
School Committee ; not a whole one but I do not 
know the singular number of him. He told us we 
could ask our families what they thought, though he 
would rather we would n't, but we must write our 
own words and he would hear them next week. 

After he went out and shut the door the scholars 
were all plunged in gloom and you could have heard 
a pin drop. Alice Robinson cried and borrowed my 
handkerchief, and the boys looked as if the school- 
house had been struck by lightning. The worst of 
all was poor Miss Dearborn, who will lose her place 
if she does not make us better scholars soon, for 
Dr. Moses has a daughter all ready to put right in 
to the school and she can board at home and save 
all her wages. Libby Moses is her name. 

Miss Dearborn stared out the window, and her 
mouth and chin shook like Alice Robinson's, for 
she knew, ah! all too well, what the coming week 
would bring forth. 

Then I raised my hand for permission to speak, 
and stood up and said ; " Miss Dearborn, don't you 

72 



REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 

mind ! Just explain to us what * benefercent * means 
and we '11 write something real interesting ; for all 
of us know what punishment is, and have seen oth- 
ers get rewards, and it is not so bad a subject cts 
some." And Dick Carter whispered, " Good on 
your heady Rebecca ! " which meant he was sorry 
for her too, and would try his best, but has no 
words. 

Then teacher smiled and said benefercent meant 
good or healthy for anybody, and would all rise who 
thought punishment made the best scholars and 
men and women ; and everybody sat stock still. 

And then she asked all to stand who believed 
that rewards produced the finest results, and there 
was a mighty sound like unto the rushing of wa- 
ters, but really was our feet scraping the floor, and 
the scholars stood up, and it looked like an army, 
:hough it was only nineteen, because of the strong 
relief that was in them. Then Miss Dearborn 
jaughed and said she was thankful for every whip- 
ping she had when she was a child, and Living 
Perkins said perhaps we had n't got to the thankful 
age, or perhaps her father had n't used a strap, and 
she said oh ! no, it was her mother with the open 
hand ; and Dick Carter said he would n't call that 
punishment, and Sam Simpson said so too. 

I am going to write about the subject in my 
Thought Book first, and when I make it into a com' 

73 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

position, I can leave out anything about the family 
or not genteel, as there is much to relate about pun- 
ishment not pleasant or nice and hardly polite. 



PUNISHMENT 

Punishment is a very puzzly thing, but I believe 
in it when really deserved, only when I punish my- 
self it does not always turn out well. When I leaned 
over the new bridge, and got my dress all paint, 
and Aunt Sarah Cobb could n't get it out, I had to 
wear it spotted for six months which hurt my pride, 
but was right. I stayed at home from Alice Robin- 
son's birthday party for a punishment, and went to 
the circus next day instead, but Alice's parties are 
very cold and stiff, as Mrs. Robinson makes the 
boys stand on newspapers if they come inside the 
door, and the blinds are always shut, and Mrs. 
Robinson tells mie how bad her liver complaint is 
this year. So I thought, to pay for the circus and 
a few other things, I ought to get more punish- 
ment, and I threw my pink parasol down the well, 
as the mothers in the missionary books throw their 
infants to the crocodiles in the Ganges river. But 
it got stuck in the chain that holds the bucket, and 
Aunt Miranda had to get Abijah Flagg to take out 
all the broken bits before we could bring up water. 

I punished myself this way because Aunt Mi- 

74 



REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 

randa said that unless I improved I would be no- 
thing but a Burden and a Blight. 

There was an old man used to go by our farm 
carrying a lot of broken chairs to bottom, and 
mother used to say — " Poor man ! his back is too 
weak for such a burden ! " and I used to take him 
out a doughnut, and this is the part I want to go 
into the Remerniscences. Once I told him we were 
sorry the chairs were so heavy, and he said they 
did nt seem so heavy when he had et the dotcghnut. 
This does not mean that the doughnut was heavier 
than the chairs which is what brother John said, but 
it is a beautiful thought and shows how the human 
race should have sympathy, and help bear burdens. 

I know about a Blight, for there was a dreadful 
east wind over at our farm that destroyed all the 
little young crops just out of the ground, and the 
farmers called it the Blight. And I would rather 
be hail, sleet, frost, or snow than a Blight, which is 
mean and secret, and which is the reason I threw 
away the dearest thing on earth to me, the pink 
parasol that Miss Ross brought me from Paris, 
France. I have also wrapped up my bead purse in 
three papers and put it away marked not to be opened 
till after my death unless needed for a party. 

I must not be Burden, I must not be Blight, 
The angels in heaven would weep at the sight. 

75 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

REWARDS 

A good way to find out which has the most be- 
nefercent effect would be to try rewards on myseli 
this next week and write my composition the very 
last day, when I see how my character is. It is 
hard to find rewards for yourself, but perhaps Aunt 
Jane and some of the girls would each give me 
one to help out. I could carry my bead purse to 
school every day, or wear my coral chain a little 
while before I go to sleep at night. I could read 
Cora or the Sorrows of a Doctor's Wife a little 
oftener, but that's all the rewards I can think of. 
I fear Aunt Miranda would say they are wicked 
but oh ! if they should turn out benefercent how 
glad and joyful life would be to me ! A sweet and 
beautiful character, beloved by my teacher and 
schoolmates, admired and petted by my aunts and 
neighbors, yet carrying my bead purse constantly, 
with perhaps my best hat on Wednesday after- 
noons, as well as Sundays ! 

* « * * « * »♦ 

A GREAT SHOCK 

The reason why Alice Robinson could not play 
was, she was being punished for breaking her 
mother's blue platter. Just before supper my story 
being finished I went up Guide Board hill to see 

76 



REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 

how she was bearing up and she spoke to me from 
her window. She said she did not mind being pun- 
ished because she had n't been for a long time, and 
she hoped it would help her with her composition. 
She thought it would give her thoughts, and to- 
morrow 's the last day for her to have any. This 
gave me a good idea and I told her to call her 
father up and beg him to beat her violently. It 
would hurt, I said, but perhaps none of the other 
girls would have a punishment like that, and her 
composition would be all different and splendid. I 
would borrow Aunt Miranda's witchhayzel and pour 
it on her wounds like the Sumaritan in the Bible. 

I went up again after supper with Dick Carter to 
see how it turned out. Alice came to the window 
and Dick threw up a note tied to a stick. I had 
written : ^^ Demand your punishment to the full. Be 
brave like Dolores mother in the Martyrs of Spain.'* 

She threw down an answer, and it was : " You 
just be like Dolores^ mother yourself if you We so 
smart ! " Then she stamped away from the window 
and my feelings were hurt, but Dick said perhaps 
she was hungry, and that made her cross. And as 
Dick and I turned to go out of the yard we looked 
back and I saw something I can never forget. (The 
Great Shock) Mrs. Robinson was out behind the 
barn feeding the turkies. Mr. Robinson came softly 
out of the side door in the orcherd and looking 

77 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

everywheres around he stepped to the wire closet 
and took out a saucer of cold beans with a pickled 
beet on top, and a big piece of blueberry pie. Then 
he crept up the back stairs and we could see Alice 
open her door and take in the supper. 

Oh ! what will become of her composition, and 
how can she tell anything of the benefercent effects 
of punishment, when she is locked up by one par- 
ent, and fed by the other? I have forgiven her 
for the way she snapped me up for, of course, you 
couldn't beg your father to beat you when he was 
bringing you blueberry pie. Mrs. Robinson makes 
a kind that leaks out a thick purple juice into the 
plate and needs a spoon and blacks your mouth, 
but is heavenly. 

A DREAM 

The week is almost up and very soon Dr. Moses 
will drive up to the school house like Elijah in the 
chariot and come in to hear us read. There is a 
good deal of sickness among us. Some of the boys 
are not able to come to school just now, but hope 
to be about again by Monday, when Dr. Moses goes 
away to a convention. It is a very hard composition 
to write, somehow. Last night I dreamed that the 
river was ink and I kept dipping into it and writing 
with a penstalk made of a young pine tree. I sliced 

78 



REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 

great slabs of marble off the side of one of the 
White Mountains, the one you see when going to 
meeting, and wrote on those. Then I threw them 
all into the falls, not being good enough for Dr. 
Moses. 

Dick Carter had a splendid boy to stay over Sun- 
day. He makes the real newspaper named The 
Pilot published by the boys at Wareham Academy. 
He says when he talks about himself in writing he 
calls himself "we," and it sounds much more like 
print, besides conscealing him more. 

Example : Our hair was measured this morning 
and has grown two inches since last time. . . . We 
have a loose tooth that troubles us very much. . . . 
Our inkspot that we made by negligence on our 
only white petticoat we have been able to remove 
with lemon and milk. Some of our petticoat came 
out with the spot. 

I shall try it in my composition sometime, for of 
course I shall write for the Pilot when I go to 
Wareham Seminary. Uncle Jerry Cobb says that 
I shall, and thinks that in four years I might rise 
to be editor if they ever have girls. 

I have never been more good than since I have 
been rewarding myself steady, even to asking Aunt 
Miranda kindly to offer me a company jelly-tart, 
not because I was hungry, but for an experement 
\ was trying, and would explain to her sometime. 

79 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

She said she never thought it was wise to ex- 
perement with your stomach, and I said, with a 
queer thrilling look, it was not my stomach but my 
soul, that was being tried. Then she gave me the 
tart and walked away all puzzled and nervous. 

The new minister has asked me to come and see 
him any Saturday afternoon as he writes poetry 
himself, but I would rather not ask him about this 
composition. 

Ministers never believe in rewards, and it is use- 
less to hope that they will. We had the wrath of 
God four times in sermons this last summer, but 
God cannot be angry all the time, — nobody could, 
especially in summer ; Mr. Baxter is different and 
calls his wife dear which is lovely and the first time 
I ever heard it in Riverboro. Mrs. Baxter is another 
kind of people too, from those that live in Temper- 
ance. I like to watch her in meeting and see her 
listen to her husband who is young and handsome 
for a minister ; it gives me very queer and uncom- 
mon feelings, when they look at each other, which 
they always do when not otherwise engaged. 

She has different clothes from anybody else. 
Aunt Miranda says you must think only of two 
things : will your dress keep you warm and will it 
wear well and there is nobody in the world to know 
how I love pink and red and how I hate drab and 
green and how I never wear my hat with the black 

80 



REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 

and yellow porkupine quills without wishing it would 
blow into the river. 

Whene'er I take my walks abroad 

How many quills I see. 
But as they are not porkupines 

They never come to me. 

COMPOSITION 

Which has the most Benefercent Effect on the 
Character t Punishment or Reward f 

by 

Rebecca Rowena Randall. 

(This copy not corrected by Miss Dearborn yet.) 

We find ourselves very puzzled in approaching 
this truly great and national question though we 
have tried very ernestly to understand it, so as to 
show how wisely and wonderfully our dear teacher 
guides the youthful mind, it being her wish that 
our composition class shall long be remembered in 
Riverboro Centre. 

We would say first of all that punishment seems 
more benefercently needed by boys than girls. Boys' 
sins are very violent, like stealing fruit, profane lan- 
guage, playing truant, fighting, breaking windows, 
and killing innocent little flies and bugs. If these 
were not taken out of them early in life it would be 
impossible for them to become like our martyred 
Dresident. Abraham Lincoln. 

8i 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

Although we have asked everybody on our street, 
they think boys' sins can only be whipped out of 
them with a switch or strap, which makes us feel 
very sad, as boys when not sinning the dreadful 
sins mentioned above seem just as good as girls, 
and never cry when switched, and say it does not 
hurt much. 

We now approach girls, which we know better, 
being one. Girls seem better than boys because 
their sins are not so noisy and showy. They can 
disobey their parents and aunts, whisper in silent 
hour, cheat in lessons, say angry things to their 
schoolmates, tell lies, be sulky and lazy, but all 
these can be conducted quite ladylike and genteel, 
and nobody wants to strap girls because their skins 
are tender and get black and blue very easily. 

Punishments make one very unhappy and re- 
wards very happy, and one would think when one 
is happy one would behave the best. We were ac- 
quainted with a girl who gave herself rewards every 
day for a week, and it seemed to make her as lovely 
a character as one could wish ; but perhaps if one 
went on for years giving rewards to onesself one 
would become selfish. One cannot tell, one can 
only fear. 

If a dog kills a sheep we should whip him straight 
away, and on the very spot where he can see the 
sheep, or he will not know what we mean, and ma) 

82 



REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 

forget and kill another. The same is true of the 
human race. We must be firm and patient in pun- 
ishing, no matter how much we love the one who 
has done wrong, and how hungry she is. It does no 
good to whip a person with one hand and offer her 
a pickled beet with the other. This confuses her 
mind, and she may grow up not knowing right from 
wrong.^ 

We now respectfully approach the Holy Bible 
and the people in the Bible were punished the 
whole time, and that would seem to make it right. 
Everybody says Whom the Lord loveth he chas- 
teneth ; but we think ourself, that the Lord is a 
better punisher than we are, and knows better how 
and when to do it having attended to it ever since 
the year b. c. while the human race could not 
know about it till 1492 A. d., which is when Co- 
lumbus discovered America. 

We do not believe we can find out all about this 
truly great and national subject till we get to 
heaven, where the human race, strapped and un- 
strapped, if any, can meet together and laying 
down their harps discuss how they got there. 

And we would gently advise boys to be more 

1 The striking example of the pickled beet was removed from 
the essay by the refined but ruthless Miss Dearborn, who strove 
patiently, but vainly, to keep such vulgar images out of her pupils^ 
literary e^orts. 

83 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

quiet and genteel in conduct and try rewards to 
see how they would work. Rewards are not all 
like the little rosebud merit-cards we receive on 
Fridays, and which boys sometimes tear up and 
fling scornfully to the breeze when they get out- 
side, but girls preserve carefully in an envelope. 

Some rewards are great and glorious, for boys 
can get to be governor or school trustee or road 
commissioner or president, while girls can only be 
wife and mother. But all of us can have the orna- 
ment of a meek and lowly spirit, especially girls, 
who have more use for it than boys. 

R. R. R, 



STORIES AND PEOPLE 

October, 187-. 

There are people in books and people in River- 
boro, and they are not the same kind. They never 
talk of chargers and palfreys in the village, nor say 
How oft and Methinks, and if a Scotchman out of 
Rob Roy should come to Riverboro and want to 
marry one of us girls we could not understand 
him unless he made motions ; though Huldah Me- 
serve says if a nobleman of high degree should 
ask her to be his, — one of vast estates with serfs 
at his bidding, — she would be able to guess his 
meaning in any language. 

84 



REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 

Uncle Jerry Cobb thinks that Riverboro people 
would not make a story, but I know that some of 
them would. 

Jack-o'-lantern, though only a baby, was just 
like a real story if anybody had written a piece 
about him : How his mother was dead and his 
father ran away and Emma Jane and I got Aunt 
Sarah Cobb to keep him so Mr. Perkins would n't 
take him to the poor-farm; and about our lovely 
times with him that summer, and our dreadful loss 
when his father remembered him in the fall and 
came to take him away ; and how Aunt Sarah car- 
ried the trundle bed up attic again and Emma 
Jane and I heard her crying and stole away. 

Mrs. Peter Meserve says Grandpa Sawyer was a 
wonderful hand at stories before his spirit was 
broken by grandmother. She says he was the life 
of the store and tavern when he was a young man, 
though generally sober, and she thinks I take after 
him, because I like compositions better than all the 
other lessons ; but mother says I take after father, 
who always could say everything nicely whether 
he had anything to say or not ; so methinks I 
should be grateful to both of them. They are what 
is called ancestors and much depends upon whether 
you have them or not. The Simpsons have not any 
at all. Aunt Miranda says the reason everybody is 
so prosperous around here is because their ances- 

85 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

tors were all first settlers and raised on burnt 
ground. This should make us very proud. 

Methinks and methought are splendid words for 
compositions. Miss Dearborn likes them very much, 
but Alice and I never bring them in to suit her. Me- 
thought means the same as I thought, but sounds 
better. Example : If you are telling a dream you 
had about your aged aunt : — 

Methought I heard her say 

My child you have so useful been 

You need not sew to-day. 

This is a good example one way, but too unlikely, 
woe is me ! 

This afternoon I was walking over to the store 
to buy molasses, and as I came off the bridge and 
turned up the hill, I saw lots and lots of heelprints 
in the side of the road, — heelprints with little 
spike-holes in them. 

*' Oh ! the river drivers have come from up coun« 
try," I thought, " and they '11 be breaking the jam 
at our falls to-morrow." I looked everywhere about 
and not a man did I see, but still I knew I was not 
mistaken for the heelprints could not lie. All the 
way over and back I thought about it, though un- 
fortunately forgetting the molasses, and Alice Rob- 
inson not being able to come out, I took playtime 
to write a story. It is the first grown-up one I ever 
did, and is intended to be like Cora the Doctor's 

86 



REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 

Wife, not like a school composition. It is written 
for Mr. Adam Ladd, and people like him who live 
in Boston, and is the printed kind you get money 
for, to pay off a morgage. 

LANCELOT OR THE PARTED LOVERS 

A beautiful village maiden was betrothed to a 
stallwart river driver, but they had high and bitter 
words and parted, he to weep into the crystal stream 
as he drove his logs, and she to sigh and moan as 
she went about her round of household tasks. 

At eventide the maiden was wont to lean over 
the bridge and her tears also fell into the foaming 
stream ; so, though the two unhappy lovers did not 
know it, the river was their friend, the only one to 
whom they told their secrets and wept into. 

The months crept on and it was the next July 
when the maiden was passing over the bridge and 
up the hill. Suddenly she spied footprints on the 
sands of time. 

" The river drivers have come again ! " she cried, 
putting her hand to her side for she had a slight 
heart trouble like Cora and Mrs. Peter Meserve, that 
does n't kill. 

" They have come indeed ; especially one you 
knowy' said a voice, and oat from the alder bushes 
sprung Lancelot Littlefield, for that was the lover's 

^7 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

name and it was none other than he. His hair was 
curly and like living gold. His shirt, while of flannel, 
was new and dr)% and of a handsome color, and as 
the maiden looked at him she could think of nought 
but a fairy prince. 

"Forgive," she mermered, stretching out her 
waisted hands. 

** Nay, sweet," he replied. " 'T is I should say that 
to you," and bending gracefully on one knee he 
kissed the hem of her dress. It was a rich pink 
gingham check, ellaborately ornamented with white 
tape trimming. 

Clasping each other to the heart like Cora and 
the Doctor, they stood there for a long while, till 
they heard the rumble of wheels on the bridge and 
knew they must disentangle. 

The wheels came nearer and verily ! it was the 
maiden's father. 

" Can I wed with your fair daughter this very 
moon," asked Lancelot, who will not be called his 
whole name again in this story. 

" You may," said the father, ** for lo ! she has 
been ready and waiting for many months." This 
he said not noting how he was shaming the maiden, 
whose name was Linda Rowenetta. 

Then and there the nuptial day was appointed 
and when it came, the marriage knot was tied upon 
the river bank where first they met ; the river bank 

SS 



REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 

wJiere they had parted in anger, and where they 
had again scealed their vows and clasped each other 
to the heart. And it was very low water that sum- 
mer, and the river always thought it was because 
no tears dropped into it but so many smiles that 
like sunshine they dried it up. R. R. R. 

Finis. ^ 

CAREERS 

November, 187-. 

Long ago when I used to watch Miss Ross paint* 
ing the old mill at Sunnybrook I thought I would 
be a painter, for Miss Ross went to Paris France 
where she bought my bead purse and pink parasol 
and I thought I would like to see a street with 
beautiful bright-colored things sparkling and hang- 
ing in the store windows. 

Then when the missionaries from Syria came to 
stay at the brick house Mrs. Burch said that after 
I had experienced religion I must learn music and 
train my voice and go out to heathen lands and 
save souls, so I thought that would be my career. 
But we girls tried to have a branch and be home 
missionaries and it did not work well. Emma 
Jane's father would not let her have her birthday 
party when he found out what she had done and 
Aunt Jane sent me up to Jake Moody's to tell him 

89 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

we did not mean to be rude when we asked him to 
go to meeting more often. He said all right, but 
just let him catch that little dough-faced Perkins 
young one in his yard once more and she'd have 
reason to remember the call, which was just as 
rude and impolite as our trying to lead him to a 
purer and a better life. 

Then Uncle Jerry and Mr. Aladdin and Miss 
Dearborn liked my compositions, and I thought 
I 'd better be a writer, for I must be something 
the minute I 'm seventeen, or how shall we ever 
get the morgage off the farm ? But even that hope 
is taken away from me now, for Uncle Jerry made 
fun of my story Lancelot Or The Parted Lovers 
and I have decided to be a teacher like Miss Dear- 
born. 

The pathetic announcement of a change in the 
career and life purposes of Rebecca was brought 
about by her reading the grown-up story to Mr. 
and Mrs. Jeremiah Cobb after supper in the or- 
chard. Uncle Jerry was the person who had main- 
tained all along that Riverboro people would not 
make a story ; and Lancelot or The Parted Lovers 
was intended to refute that assertion at once and 
forever ; an assertion which Rebecca regarded 
(quite truly) as untenable, though why she cer- 
tainly never could have explained. Unfortunately 

90 



REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 

Lancelot was a poor missionary, quite unfitted for 
the high achievements to which he was destined 
by the youthful novelist, and Uncle Jerry, though 
a stage-driver and no reading man, at once per- 
ceived the flabbiness and transparency of the 
Parted Lovers the moment they were held up to 
his inspection. 

" You see Riverboro people will make a story ! " 
asserted Rebecca triumphantly as she finished her 
reading and folded the paper. " And it all came 
from my noticing the river drivers' tracks by the 
roadside, and wondering about them ; and wonder- 
ing always makes stories ; the minister says so." 

" Ye-es," allowed Uncle Jerry reflectively, tip- 
ping his chair back against the apple-tree and 
forcing his slow mind to violent and instantaneous 
action, for Rebecca was his pride and joy ; a person, 
in his opinion, of superhuman talent, one therefore 
to be "whittled into shape" if occasion demanded. 

"It's a Riverboro story, sure enough, because 
you've got the river and the bridge and the hill 
and the drivers all right there in it ; but there *s 
something awful queer 'bout it ; the folks don't act 
Riverboro, and don't talk Riverboro, 'cordin* to my 
notions. I call it a reg'lar book story." 

"But," objected Rebecca, "the people in Cin- 
derella did n't act like us, and you thought that was 
a beautiful story when I told it to you." 

or 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

"I know," replied Uncle Jerry, gaining elo- 
quence in the heat of argument. •* They did n't act 
like us, but 't any rate they acted like 'emselves ! 
Somehow they was all of a piece. Cinderella was a 
little too good, mebbe, and the sisters was most 
too thunderin' bad to live on the face o' the earth, 
and that fayry old lady that kep' the punkin* coach 
up her sleeve — well, anyhow, you jest believe that 
punkin* coach, rats, mice, and all, when you 're 
hearin' 'bout it, 'fore ever you stop to think it 
ain't so. 

"I don* know how 't is, but the folks in that Cin- 
derella story seem to match together somehow; 
they're all pow'ful onlikely — the prince feller with 
the glass slipper, and the hull bunch ; but jest the 
same you kind o* gulp 'em all down in a lump. 
But land, Rebecky, nobody 'd swaller that there 
village maiden o* your'n, and as for what's-his- 
name Littlefield, that come out o* them bushes, 
such a feller never 'd 'a* be'n in bushes ! No, 
Rebecky, you *re the smartest little critter there 
is in this township, and you beat your Uncle Jerry 
all holler when it comes to usin' a lead pencil, but 
I say that ain't no true Riverboro story ! Look at 
the way they talk ! What was that 'bout being 
'betrothed' f' 

** Betrothed is a genteel word for engaged to be 
married," explained the crushed and chastened 

92 



REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 

author ; and it was fortunate the doting old man 
did not notice her eyes in the twilight, or he might 
have known that tears were not far away. 

"Well, that's all right, then; I'm as ignorant 
as Cooper's cow when it comes to the dictionary. 
How about what's-his-name callin' the girl 'Nay- 
sweet'?" 

*' I thought myself that sounded foolish," con- 
fessed Rebecca ; " but it 's what the Doctor calls 
Cora when he tries to persuade her not to quarrel 
with his mother who comes to live with them. I 
know they don't say it in Riverboro or Temperance, 
but I thought perhaps it was Boston talk." 

*' Well, it ain't ! " asserted Mr. Cobb decisively. 
*' I 've druv Boston men up in the stage from Mill- 
town many 's the time, and none of 'em ever said 
Naysweet to me, nor nothin' like it. They talked 
like folks, every mother's son of 'em ! If I 'd 'a* had 
that what's-his-name on the * harricane deck' o* the 
stage and he tried any naysweetin' on me, I 'd 'a* 
pitched him into the cornfield, side o' the road. I 
guess you ain't growed up enough for that kind of 
a story, Rebecky, for your poetry can't be beat in 
York County, that 's sure, and your compositions 
are good enough to read out loud in town meetin' 
any day !" 

Rebecca brightened up a little and bade the old 
couple her usual affectionate good-night, but she 

93 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

descended the hill in a saddened mood. When she 
reached the bridge the sun, a ball of red fire, was 
setting behind Squire Bean's woods. As she looked, 
it shone full on the broad, still bosom of the river, 
and for one perfect instant the trees on the shores 
were reflected, all swimming in a sea of pink. 
Leaning over the rail, she watched the light fade 
from crimson to carmine, from carmine to rose, 
from rose to amber, and from amber to gray. Then 
withdrawing Lancelot or the Parted Lovers from 
her apron pocket, she tore the pages into bits and 
dropped them into the water below with a sigh. 

" Uncle Jerry never said a word about the end- 
ing ! " she thought ; " and that was so nice ! '* 

And she was right ; but while Uncle Jerry was 
an illuminating critic when it came to the actions 
and language of his Riverboro neighbors, he had no 
power to direct the young mariner when she '* fol- 
lowed the gleam," and used her imagination. 

OUR SECRET SOCIETY 

November, 1 87-. 
Our Secret Society has just had a splendid pic- 
nic in Candace Milliken's barn. 

Our name is the B. O. S. S., and not a single boy 
in the village has been able to guess it. It means 
Braid Over Shoulder Society, and that is the sign. 
All the members wear one of their braid« over the 

94 



REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 

right shoulder in front ; the president's tied with 
red ribbon (I am the president) and all the rest 
tied with blue. 

To attract the attention of another member when 
in company or at a public place we take the braid 
between the thumb and little finger and stand 
carelessly on one leg. This is the Secret Signal 
and the password is Sobb (B. O. S. S. spelled back- 
wards) which was my idea and is thought rather 
uncommon. 

One of the rules of the B. O. S. S. is that any 
member may be required to tell her besetting sin 
at any meeting, if asked to do so by a majority of 
the members. 

This was Candace Milliken's idea and much op- 
posed by everybody, but when it came to a vote so 
many of the girls were afraid of offending Candace 
that they agreed because there was nobody else's 
father and mother who would let us picnic in their 
barn and use their plow, harrow, grindstone, sleigh, 
carryall, pung, sled, and wheelbarrow, which we did 
and injured hardly anything. 

They asked me to tell my besetting sin at the 
very first meeting, and it nearly killed me to do it 
because it is such a common greedy one. It is that 
I can't bear to call the other girls when I have 
found a thick spot when we are out berrying in the 
summer time. 

95 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

After I confessed, •vhich made me dreadfully 
ashamed, every one of Ihe girls seemed surprised 
and said they had nev*?r noticed that one but had 
each thought of son'ething very different that I 
would be sure to thirk was my besetting sin. Then 
Emma Jane said that rather than tell hers she 
would resign from t^e Society and miss the picnic. 
So it made so much trouble that Candace gave up. 
We struck out the rule from the constitution and 
I had told my sin for nothing. 

The reason we Aamed ourselves the B. O. S. S. 
is, that Minnie Smellie has had her head shaved 
after scarlet fe^er and has no braid, so she can't 
be a member. 

I don't want her for a member but I can't be 
happy thinking she will feel slighted, and it takes 
away half the pleasure of belonging to the Society 
myself and being president. 

That, I think, is the principal trouble about doing 
mean and "ankind things ; that you can't do wrong 
and feel tight, or be bad and feel good. If you 
only could you could do anything that came into 
your mind yet always be happy. 

Minnie Smellie spoils everything she comes into 
but ^ suppose we other girls must either have our 
hair shaved and call ourselves The Baldheadians 
or let her be some kind of a special officer in the 
H. O. S. S. 

96 



REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 

She might be the B. I. T. U. D. member (Braid 
in the Upper Drawer), for there is where Mrs. 
Smellie keeps it now that it is cut off. 

WINTER THOUGHTS 

March, 187-. 

It is not such a cold day for March and I am up 
in the barn chamber with my coat and hood on 
and Aunt Jane's waterproof and my mittens. 

After I do three pages I am going to hide away 
this book in the haymow till spring. 

Perhaps they get made into icicles on the way 
but I do not seem to have any thoughts in the 
winter time. The barn chamber is full of thoughts 
in warm weather. The sky gives them to me, and 
the trees and flowers, and the birds, and the river ; 
but now it is always gray and nipping, the branches 
are bare and the river is frozen. 

It is too cold to write in my bedroom but while 
we still kept an open fire I had a few thoughts, but 
now there is an air-tight stove in the dining room 
where we sit, and we seem so close together. Aunt 
Miranda, Aunt Jane and I that I don't like to 
write in my book for fear they will ask me to read 
out loud my secret thoughts. 

I have just read over the first part of my Thought 
Book and I have outgrown it all, just exactly as I 
have outgrown my last year's drab cashmere, 

97 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

It is very queer how anybody can change so fast 
in a few months, but I remember that Emma Jane'g 
cat had kittens the day my book was bought at 
Watson's store. Mrs. Perkins kept the prettiest 
white one, Abijah Flagg drowning all the others. 

It seems strange to me that cats will go on 
having kittens when they know what becomes of 
them ! We were very sad about it, but Mrs. Per- 
kins said it was the way of the world and how 
things had to be. 

I cannot help being glad that they do not do the 
same with children, or John and Jenny Mira Mark 
and me would all have had stones tied to our necks 
and been dropped into the deepest part of Sunny 
Brook, for Hannah and Fanny are the only truly 
handsome ones in the family. 

Mrs. Perkins says I dress up well, but never 
being dressed up it does not matter much. At least 
they did n't wait to dress up the kittens to see how 
they would improve, before drowning them, but 
decided right away. 

Emma Jane's kitten that was born the same day 
this book was is now quite an old cat who knows 
the way of the world herself, and how things have 
to be, for she has had one batch of kittens drowned 
already. 

So perhaps it is not strange that my Thought 
Book seems so babyish and foolish to me when I 

98 



REBECCA'S THOUGHT BOOK 

think of all I have gone through and the millions 
of things I have learned, and how much better I 
spell than I did ten months ago. 

My fingers are cold through the mittens, so 
good-bye dear Thought Book, friend of my child- 
hood, now so far far behind me ! 

I will hide you in the haymow where you Ml be 
warm and cosy all the long winter and where 
nobody can find you again in the summer time but 
your affectionate author, 

Rebecca Rowena Randall. 



Fourth Chronicle 
A TRAGEDY IN MILLINERY 



EMMA Jane Perkins's new winter dress was a 
blue and green Scotch plaid poplin, trimmed 
with narrow green velvet-ribbon and steel 
nail-heads. She had a gray jacket of thick furry 
cloth with large steel buttons up the front, a pair of 
green kid gloves, and a gray felt hat with an encir- 
cling band of bright green feathers. The band be- 
gan in front with a bird's head and ended behind 
with a bird's tail, and angels could have desired no 
more beautiful toilette. That was her opinion, and 
it was shared to the full by Rebecca. 

But Emma Jane, as Rebecca had once described 
her to Mr. Adam Ladd, was a rich blacksmith's 
daughter, and she, Rebecca, was a little half-orphan 
from a mortgaged farm '* up Temperance way," de- 
pendent upon her spinster aunts for board, clothes, 
and schooling. Scotch plaid poplins were mani- 
festly not for her, but dark-colored woolen stuffs 
were, and mittens, and last winter's coats and furs. 

And how about hats ? Was there hope in store 
for her there } she wondered, as she walked home 

100 



A TRAGEDY IN MILLINERY 

from the Perkins house, full of admiration for 
Emma Jane's winter outfit, and loyally trying to 
keep that admiration free from wicked envy. Her 
red-winged black hat was her second best, and al- 
though it was shabby she still liked it, but it would 
never do for church, even in Aunt Miranda's 
strange and never-to-be-comprehended views of 
suitable raiment. 

There was a brown felt turban in existence, if 
one could call it existence when it had been rained 
on, snowed on, and hailed on for two seasons ; but 
the trimmings had at any rate perished quite off 
the face of the earth, that was one comfort ! 

Emma Jane had said, rather indiscreetly, that at 
the village milliner's at Milliken's Mills there was 
a perfectly elegant pink breast to be had, a breast 
that began in a perfectly elegant solferino and ter- 
minated in a perfectly elegant magenta ; two colors 
much in vogue at that time. If the old brown hat 
was to be her portion yet another winter, would 
Aunt Miranda conceal its deficiencies from a carp- 
ing world beneath the shaded solferino breast ? 
IVou/d she, that was the question ? 

Filled with these perplexing thoughts, Rebecca 
entered the brick house, hung up her hood in the 
entrv, and went into the dining-room. 

Miss Jane was not there, but Aunt Miranda sat 
by the window with her lap full of sewing things, 

IGI 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

and a chair piled with pasteboard boxes by her side. 
In one hand was the ancient, battered, brown felt 
turban, and in the other were the orange and black 
porcupine quills from Rebecca's last summer's hat ; 
from the hat of the summer before that, and 
the summer before that, and so on back to prehis- 
toric ages of which her childish memory kept no 
specific record, though she was sure that Temper- 
ance and Riverboro society did. Truly a sight to 
chill the blood of any eager young dreamer who 
had been looking at gayer plumage ! 

Miss Sawyer glanced up for a second with a sat- 
isfied expression and then bent her eyes again upon 
her work. 

" If I was going to buy a hat trimming," she said, 
"I couldn't select anything better or more eco- 
nomical than these quills ! Your mother had them 
when she was married, and you wore them the day 
you come to the brick house from the farm ; and 
I said to myself then that they looked kind of out- 
landish, but I *ve grown to like 'em now I 've got 
used to 'em. You've been here for goin' on two 
years and they've hardly be'n out o' wear, summer 
or winter, more 'n a month to a time ! I declare 
they do beat all for service ! It don't seem as if 
your mother could 'a' chose 'em, — Aurelia was al- 
ways such a poor buyer! The black spills are 'bout 
as good as new, but the orange ones are gittin' a 

1 02 



A TRAGEDY IN MILLINERY 

little mite faded and shabby. I wonder if I could n*t 
dip all of 'em in shoe blackin' ? It seems real queer 
to put a porcupine into hat trimmin*, though I de- 
clare I don't know jest what the animiles are like, 
it 's be'n so long sence I looked at the pictures of 
'em in a geography. I always thought their quills 
stood out straight and angry, but these kind o' curls 
round some at the ends, and that makes 'em stand 
the wind better. How do you like 'em on the 
brown felt.?" she asked, inclining her head in a 
discriminating attitude and poising them awkwardly 
on the hat with her work-stained hand. 

How did she like them on the brown felt indeed ? 

Miss Sawyer had not been looking at Rebecca, 
but the child's eyes were flashing, her bosom heav- 
ing, and her cheeks glowing with sudden rage and 
despair. All at once something happened. She 
forgot that she was speaking to an older person ; 
forgot that she was dependent ; forgot everything 
but her disappointment at losing the solferino 
breast, remembering nothing but the enchanting, 
dazzling beauty of Emma Jane Perkins's winter 
outfit ; and, suddenly, quite without warning, she 
burst into a torrent of protest. 

** I will not wear those hateful porcupine quills 
again this winter ! I will not ! It *s wicked, wicked 
to expect me to ! Oh ! how I wish there never had 
been any porcupines in the world, or that all of 

103 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

them had died before silly, hateful people ever 
thought of trimming hats with them ! They curl 
round and tickle my ear ! They blow against my 
cheek and sting it like needles ! They do look out- 
landish, you said so yourself a minute ago. No- 
body ever had any but only just me ! The only 
porcupine was made into the only quills for me and 
nobody else ! I wish instead of sticking out of the 
nasty beasts, that they stuck ijito them, same as 
they do into my cheek ! I suffer, suffer, suffer, 
wearing them and hating them, and they will last 
forever and forever, and when I 'm dead and can't 
help myself, somebody '11 rip them out of my last 
year's hat and stick them on my head, and I '11 be 
buried in them ! Well, when / am buried they will 
be, that 's one good thing ! Oh, if I ever have a 
child I '11 let her choose her own feathers and not 
make her wear ugly things like pigs' bristles and 
porcupine quills ! " 

With this lengthy tirade Rebecca vanished like 
a meteor, through the door and down the street, 
while Miranda Sawyer gasped for breath, and prayed 
to Heaven to help her understand such human 
whirlwinds as this Randall niece of hers. 

This was at three o'clock, and at half-past three 
Rebecca was kneeling on the rag carpet with her 
head in her aunt's apron, sobbing her contrition. 

" Oh ! Aunt Miranda, do forgive me if you can. 

104 



A TRAGEDY IN MILLINERY 

It *s the only time I 've been bad for months I You 
know it is ! You know you said last week I had n't 
been any trouble lately. Something broke inside 
of me and came tumbling out of my mouth in ugly 
words ! The porcupine quills make me feel just as 
a bull does when he sees a red cloth; nobody 
understands how I suffer with them ! " 

Miranda Sawyer had learned a few lessons in the 
last two years, lessons which were making her (at 
least on her " good days ") a trifle kinder, and at 
any rate a juster woman than she used to be. When 
she alighted on the wrong side of her four-poster 
in the morning, or felt an extra touch of rheuma- 
tism, she was still grim and unyielding ; but some- 
times a curious sort of melting process seemed 
to go on within her, when her whole bony structure 
softened, and her eyes grew less vitreous. At such 
moments Rebecca used to feel as if a superincum- 
bent iron pot had been lifted off her head, allowing 
her to breathe freely and enjoy the sunshine. 

"Well," she said finally, after staring first at 
Rebecca and then at the porcupine quills, as if to 
gain some insight into the situation, — "well, I 
never, sence I was born int' the world, heerd such a 
speech as you 've spoke, an* I guess there probably 
never was one. You 'd better tell the minister what 
vou said and see what he thinks of hl^ prize Sun- 
day-school scholar. But I 'm too old and '^ired *» 

105 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

scold and fuss, and try to train you same as I did 
at first. You can punish yourself this time, like you 
used to. Go fire something down the well, same as 
you did your pink parasol ! You've apologized and 
we won't say no more about it to-day, but I expect 
you to show by Qxtry good conduct how sorry you 
be ! You care altogether too much about your 
looks and your clothes for a child, and you've got a 
temper that '11 certainly land you in state's prison 
some o' these days ! " 

Rebecca wiped her eyes and laughed aloud. " No, 
no, Aunt Miranda, it won't, really ! That was n't 
temper ; I don't get angry with people ; but only, 
once in a long while, with things ; like those, — 
cover them up quick before I begin again ! I' m all 
right ! Shower 's over, sun 's out ! " 

Miss Miranda looked at her searchingly and un- 
comprehendingly. Rebecca's state of mind came 
perilously near to disease, she thought. 

'*Have you seen me buyin' any new bunnits, or 
your Aunt Jane 'i " she asked cuttingly. " Is there 
any particular reason why you should dress better 
than your elders .'' You might as well know that 
we 're short of cash just now, your Aunt Jane and 
me, and have no intention of riggin' you out like a 
Miiltown fact'ry girl." 

"Oh-hl" cried Rebecca, the quick tears start- 
ing again to her eyes and the color fading out 

lOO 



A TRAGEDY IN MILLINERY 

of her cheeks, as she scrambled up from her kneem 
to a seat on the sofa beside her aunt. " Oh-h I 
how ashamed I am ! Quick, sew those quills on to 
the brown turban while I 'm good ! If I can't stand 
them I '11 make a neat little gingham bag and slip 
over them ! '* 

And so the matter ended, not as it customarily 
did, with cold words on Miss Miranda's part and 
bitter feelings on Rebecca's, but with a gleam of 
mutual understanding. 

Mrs. Cobb, who was a master hand at coloring, 
dipped the offending quills in brown dye and left 
them to soak in it all night, not only making them 
a nice warm color, but somewhat weakening their 
rocky spines, so that they were not quite as ram- 
pantly hideous as before, in Rebecca's opinion. 

Then Mrs. Perkins went to her bandbox in the 
attic and gave Miss Dearborn some pale blue vel- 
vet, with which she bound the brim of the brown 
turban and made a wonderful rosette, out of which 
the porcupine's defensive armor sprang, buoyantly 
?.nd gallantly, like the plume of Henry of Navarre. 

Rebecca was resigned, if not greatly com- 
forted, but she had grace enough to conceal her 
feelings, now that she knew economy was at the 
root of some of her aunt's decrees in matters of 
dress ; and she managed to forget the solferino 
breast, save in sleep, where a vision of it had a way 

IQ7 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

of appearing to her, dangling from the ceiling, and 
Jazzling her so with its rich color that she used 
to hope the milliner would sell it that she might 
never be tempted with it when she passed the 
shop window. 

One day, not long afterward, Miss Miranda bor- 
rowed Mr. Perkins's horse and wagon and took Re- 
becca with her on a drive to Union, to see about 
some sausage meat and head cheese. She intended 
to call on Mrs. Cobb, order a load of pine wood 
from Mr. Strout on the way, and leave some rags 
for a rug with old Mrs. Pease, so that the journey 
could be made as profitable as possible, consistent 
with the loss of time and the wear and tear on her 
second-best black dress. 

The red-winged black hat was forcibly removed 
from Rebecca's head just before starting, and the 
nightmare turban substituted. 

*' You might as well begin to wear it first as 
last," remarked Miranda, while Jane stood in the 
side door and sympathized secretly with Rebecca. 

" I will ! " said Rebecca, ramming the stiff turban 
down on her head with a vindictive grimace, and 
snapping the elastic under her long braids ; " but 
it makes me think of what Mr. Robinson said when 
the minister told him his mother-in-law would ride 
in the same buggy with him at his wife's funeral." 

**! can't see how any speech of Mr. Robinson's 

108 



A TRAGEDY IN MILLINERY 

made years an* years ago, can have anything to do 
with wearin* your turban down to Union," said Mi- 
randa, settling the lap robe over her knees. 

" Well, it can ; because he said ; * Have it that 
way, then, but it '11 spile the hull blamed trip for 
me!'" 

Jane closed the door suddenly, partly because 
she experienced a desire to smile (a desire she had 
not felt for years before Rebecca came to the brick 
house to live), and partly because she had no wish 
to overhear what her sister would say when she 
took in the full significance of Rebecca's anecdote, 
which was a favorite one with Mr. Perkins. 

It was a cold blustering day, with a high wind 
that promised to bring an early fall of snow. The 
trees were stripped bare of leaves, the ground was 
hard, and the wagon wheels rattled noisily over the 
thank-you-ma'ams. 

" I 'm glad I wore my Paisley shawl over my 
cloak," said Miranda. *' Be you warm enough, Re- 
becca } Tie that white rigolette tighter round your 
neck. The wind fairly blows through my bones. I 
most wish 't we 'd waited till a pleasanter day, for 
this Union road is all up hill or down, and we shan't 
get over the ground fast, it *s so rough. Don't for* 
get, when you go into Scott's, to say I want all the 
trimmin's when they send me the pork, for mebbe 
I can try out a little mite o' lard. The last load o' 

109 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

pine's gone tumble quick; I must see if 'Bijah 
Flagg can't get us some cut-rounds at the Mills, 
when he hauls for Squire Bean next time. Keep 
your mind on your drivin', Rebecca, and don't look 
at the trees and the sky so much. It 's the same 
sky and same trees that have been here right along. 
Go awful slow down this hill and walk the boss over 
Cook's Brook bridge, for I always suspicion it 's 
goin' to break down under me, an' I should n't want 
to be dropped into that fast runnin' water this cold 
day. It *11 be froze stiff by this time next week. 
Had n't you better get out and lead " — 

The rest of the sentence was very possibly not 
vital, but at any rate it was never completed, for in 
the middle of the bridge a fierce gale of wind took 
Miss Miranda's Paisley shawl and blew it over her 
head. The long heavy ends whirled in opposite di- 
rections and wrapped themselves tightly about her 
wavering bonnet. Rebecca had the whip and the 
reins, and in trying to rescue her struggling aunt 
could not steady her own hat, which was suddenly 
torn from her head and tossed against the bridge 
rail, where it trembled and flapped for an instant. 

" My hat ! oh ! Aunt Miranda, my hateful hat ! " 
cried Rebecca, never remembering at the instant 
how often she had prayed that the " fretful por- 
cupine " might some time vanish in this violent 
manner, since it refused to die a natural death. 

no 



A TRAGEDY IN MILLINERY 

She had already stopped the horse, so, giving her 
aunt's shawl one last desperate twitch, she slipped 
out between the wagon wheels, and darted in the 
direction of the hated object, the loss of which had 
dignified it with a temporary value and importance. 

The stiff brown turban rose in the air, then 
dropped and flew along the bridge ; Rebecca pur- 
sued ; it danced along and stuck between two of 
the railings ; Rebecca flew after it, her long braids 
floating in the wind. 

" Come back ! Come back ! Don't leave me 
alone with the team. I won't have it ! Come back, 
and leave your hat ! " 

Miranda had at length extricated herself from 
the submerging shawl, but she was so blinded by 
the wind, and so confused that she did not measure 
the financial loss involved in her commands. 

Rebecca heard, but her spirit being in arms, she 
made one more mad scramble for the vagrant hat, 
which now seemed possessed with an evil spirit, for 
it flew back and forth, and bounded here and there, 
like a living thing, finally distinguishing itself by 
blowing between the horse's front and hind legs, 
Rebecca trying to circumvent it by going around 
the wagon, and meeting it on the other side. 

It was no use; as she darted from behind the 
wheels the wind gave the hat an extra whirl, and 
scurrying in the opposite direction it soared above 

III 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

the bridge rail and disappeared into the rapid water 

below. 

" Get in again ! " cried Miranda, holding on her 

bonnet " You done your best and it can't be helped, 

I only wish 't I 'd let you wear your black hat as you 

wanted to ; and I wish *t we *d never come such a 

day ! The shawl has broke the stems of the velvet 

geraniums in my bonnet, and the wind has blowed 

away my shawl pin and my back comb. I 'd like 

to give up and turn right back this minute, but 

I don't like to borrer Perkins's boss again this 

month. When we get up in the woods you can 

smooth your hair down and tie the rigolette over 

your head and settle what 's left of my bonnet ; 

it '11 be an expensive errant, this will ! " 

 «« « * « « « 

II 

It was not till next morning that Rebecca's heart 
really began its song of thanksgiving. Her Aunt 
Miranda announced at breakfast, that as Mrs. Per- 
kins was going to Milliken's Mills, Rebecca might 
go too, and buy a serviceable hat. 

** You must n't pay over two dollars and a half, 
and you mustn't get the pink bird without Mrs. 
Perkins says, and the milliner says, that it won't 
fade nor moult. Don't buy a light-colored felt be- 
cause you '11 get sick of it in two or three years, 

112 



A TRAGEDY IN MILLINERY 

same as you did the brown one. I always liked the 
shape of the brown one, and you'll never get an- 
other trimmin' that '11 wear you like them quills," 

" I hope not ! " thought Rebecca. 

" If you had put your elastic under your chin, 
same as you used to, and not worn it behind because 
you think it 's more grown-up an* fash'onable, the 
wind never 'd 'a* took the hat off your head, and you 
wouldn't V lost it ; but the mischief's done and 
you can go right over to Mis' Perkins now, so you 
won't miss her nor keep her waitin'. The two dol- 
lars and a half is in an envelope side o* the clock."" 

Rebecca swallowed the last spoonful of picked-up 
codfish on her plate, wiped her lips, and rose from 
her chair happier than the seraphs in Paradise. 

The porcupine quills had disappeared from her 
life, and without any fault or violence on her part. 
She was wholly innocent and virtuous, but never- 
theless she was going to have a new hat with the 
solferino breast, should the adored object prove, 
under rigorous examination, to be practically inde- 
structible. 

" Whene'er I take my walks abroad, 
How many hats I *11 see ; 
But if they 're trimmed with hedgehog quills 
They 'II not belong to me ! " 

So she improvised, secretly and ecstatically, as 
she went towards the side entry. 

113 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

"There's *Bijah Flagg drivin' in," said Miss 
Miranda, going to the window. " Step out and see 
what he 's got, Jane ; some passel from the Squire, 
I guess. It 's a paper bag and it may be a punkin, 
though he would n't wrop up a punkin, come to 
think of it ! Shet the dinin* room door, Jane ; it 's 
turrible drafty. Make haste, for the Squire's boss 
never Stan's still a minute 'cept when he 's goin' ! " 

Abijah Flagg alighted and approached the side 
door with a grin. 

** Guess what I Ve got for ye, Rebecky } " 

No throb of prophetic soul warned Rebecca of 
her approaching doom. 

"Nodhead apples .'^ " she sparkled, looking as 
bright and rosy and satin-skinned as an apple her- 
self. 

" No ; guess again." 

" A flowering geranium } " 

" Guess again ! " 

" Nuts .? Oh ! I can't, 'Bijah ; I *m just going to 
Milliken's Mills on an errand, and I 'm afraid of 
missing Mrs. Perkins. Show me quick ! Is it really 
for me, or for Aunt Miranda.? " 

*' Reely for you, I guess!" and he opened the 
large brown paper bag and drew from it the remains 
of a water-soaked hat ! 

They were remains, but there was no doubt of 
their nature and substance. They had clearly been 

114 



A TRAGEDY IN MILLINERY 

t hat in the past, and one could even suppose that, 
when resuscitated, they might again assume their 
original form in some near and happy future. 

Miss Miranda, full of curiosity, joined the group 
in the side entry at this dramatic moment. 

'* Well, I never ! " she exclaimed. " Where, and 
how under the canopy, did you ever ? " — 

** I was working on the dam at Union Falls yes- 
terday," chuckled Abijah, with a pleased glance at 
each of the trio in turn, "an' I seen this little bun- 
nit skippin' over the water jest as Becky does over 
the road. It 's shaped kind o' like a boat, an' gorry, 
ef it wa'n't sailin' jest like a boat ! ' Where hev I 
seen that kind of a bristlin' plume .'* * thinks I." 

(" Where indeed ! " thought Rebecca stormily.) 

"Then it come to me that I 'd drove that plume 
to school and drove it to meetin' an' drove it to the 
Fair an' drove it most everywheres on Becky. So 
I reached out a pole an' ketched it 'fore it got in 
amongst the logs an* come to any damage, an* here 
it is ! The hat 's passed in its checks, I guess ; 
looks kind as if a wet elephant had stepped on it ; 
but the plume 's 'bout 's good as new ! I reely 
fetched the hat back for the sake o' the plume." 

" It was real good of you, 'Bijah, an' we *re all of 
us obliged to you," said Miranda, as she poised the 
hat on one hand and turned it slowly with the 
^ther. 

IIS 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

"Well, I do say," she exclaimed, "and I guess 
I 've said it before, that of all the wearin' plumes 
that ever I see, that one's the wearin'est! Seems 
though it just would n't give up. Look at the way 
it 's held Mis' Cobb's dye ; it 's about as brown 's 
when it went int' the water." 

" Dyed, but not a mite dead," grinned Abijah, 
who was somewhat celebrated for his puns. 

"And I declare," Miranda continued, "when you 
think o' the fuss they make about ostriches, killin' 
'em off by hundreds for the sake o' their feathers 
that '11 string out and spoil in one hard rainstorm, 
- — an' all the time lettin' useful porcupines run 
round with their quills on, why I can't hardly un- 
derstand it, without milliners have found out jest 
how good they do last, an' so they won't use 'em 
for trimmin'. 'Bijah 's right ; the hat ain't no more 
use, Rebecca, but you can buy you another this 
mornin' — any color or shape you fancy — an' have 
Miss Morton sew these brown quills on to it with 
some kind of a buckle or a bow, jest to hide the 
roots. Then you '11 be fixed for another season, 
thanks to 'Bijah." 

Uncle Jerry and Aunt Sarah Cobb were made 
acquainted before very long with the part that des- 
tiny, or Abijah Flagg, had played in Rebecca's 
affairs, for, accompanied by the teacher, she walked 

ii6 



A TRAGEDY IN MILLINERY 

\o the old stage-driver's that same afternoon. Tak- 
ing off her new hat with the venerable trimming, 
she laid it somewhat ostentatiously upside down 
on the kitchen table and left the room, dimpling a 
little more than usual. 

Uncle Jerry rose from his seat, and, crossing 
the room, looked curiously into the hat and found 
that a circular paper lining was neatly pinned m 
the crown, and that it bore these lines, which were 
read aloud with great effect by Miss Dearborn, and 
with her approval were copied in the Thought Book 
for the benefit of posterity : — 

" It was the bristling porcupine, 

As he stood on his native heath, 
He said, ' I 'II pluck roe some immortelles 

And make me up a wreath. 
For tho' I may not live myself 

To more than a hundred and ten. 
My quills will last till crack of doom. 

And maybe after then. 
They can be colored blue or green 

Or orange, brown, or red. 
But often as they may be dyed , 

They never will be dead.' 
And so the bristling porcupine 

As he stood on his native heath, 
Said, ' I think I '11 pluck me some immortelles 

And make me up a wreath.' 

R. R R,** 



Fifth Chronicle 
THE SAVING OF THE COLORS 



EVEN when Rebecca had left school, having 
attained the great age of seventeen and 
therefore able to look back over a past in- 
credibly long and full, she still reckoned time not by 
years, but by certain important occurrences. 

There was the year her father died ; the year she 
left Sunnybrook Farm to come to her aunts in 
Riverboro ; the year Sister Hannah became en- 
gaged • the year little Mira died ; the year Abijah 
Flagg ceased to be Squire Bean's chore-boy, and 
astounded Riverboro by departing for Limerick 
Academy in search of an education ; and finally 
the year of her graduation, which, to the mind of 
seventeen, seems rather the culmination than the 
beginning of existence. 

Between these epoch-making events certain other 
happenings stood out in bold relief against the gray 
of dull daily life. 

There was the day she first met her friend of 
friends, **Mr. Aladdin," and the later, even more 

ii8 



THE SAVING OF THE COLORS 

radiant one when he gave her the coral necklace. 
There was the day the Simpson family moved away 
from Riverboro under a cloud, and she kissed Clara 
Belle fervently at the cross-roads, telling her that 
she would always be faithful. There was the visit 
of the Syrian missionaries to the brick house. 
That was a bright, romantic memory, as strange 
and brilliant as the wonderful little birds' wings 
and breasts that the strangers brought from the 
Far East. She remembered the moment they 
asked her to choose some for herself, and the rap- 
ture with which she stroked the beautiful things 
as they lay on the black haircloth sofa. Then there 
was the coming of the new minister, for though 
many were tried only one was chosen ; and finally 
there was the flag-raising, a festivity that thrilled 
Riverboro and Edgewood society from centre to 
circumference, a festivity that took place just be- 
fore she entered the Female Seminary at Wareham 
and said good-by to kind Miss Dearborn and the 
village school. 

There must have been other flag-raisings in his- 
tory, — even the persons most interested in this 
particular one would grudgingly have allowed that 
much, — but it would have seemed to them improb- 
able that any such flag-raising as theirs, either in 
magnitude of conception or brilliancy of actual per- 
formance, could twice glorify the same century. 

119 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

Of some pageants it is tacitly admitted that there 
can be no duplicates, and the flag-raising at River« 
boro Centre was one of these ; so that it is small 
wonder if Rebecca chose it as one of the important 
dates in her personal almanac. 

The new minister's wife was the being, under 
Providence, who had conceived the germinal idea 
of the flag. 

At this time the parish had almost settled down 
to the trembling belief that they were united on a 
pastor. In the earlier time a minister was chosen 
for life, and if he had faults, which was a probable 
enough contingency, and if his congregation had 
any, which is within the bounds of possibility, each 
bore with the other (not quite without friction), as 
old-fashioned husbands and wives once did, before 
the easy way out of the difficulty was discovered, 
or at least before it was popularized. 

The faithful old parson had died after thirty 
years* preaching, and perhaps the newer methods 
had begun to creep in, for it seemed impossible to 
suit the two communities most interested in the 
choice. 

The Rev. Mr. Davis, for example, was a spirited 
preacher, but persisted in keeping two horses in 
the parsonage stable, and in exchanging them when- 
ever he could get faster ones. As a parochial vis- 
itor he was incomparable, dashing from house to 

120 



THE SAVING OF THE COLORS 

house with such speed that he could cover the par- 
ish in a single afternoon. This sporting tendency, 
which would never have been remarked in a British 
parson, was frowned upon in a New England vil- 
lage, and Deacon Milliken told Mr. Davis, when 
giving him what he alluded to as his ** walking 
papers," that they didn't want the Edgewood 
church run by boss power! 

The next candidate pleased Edgewood, where 
morning preaching was held, but the other parish, 
which had afternoon service, declined to accept 
him because he wore a wig — an ill-matched, crook- 
edly applied wig. 

Number three was eloquent but given to gesticu- 
lation, and Mrs. Jere Burbank, the president of the 
Dorcas Society, who sat in a front pew, said she 
could n't bear to see a preacher scramble round the 
pulpit hot Sundays. 

Number four, a genial, handsome man, gifted in 
prayer, was found to be a Democrat. The congrega- 
tion was overwhelmingly Republican in its politics, 
and perceived something ludicrous, if not positively 
blasphemous, in a Democrat preaching the gospel. 
("Ananias and Beelzebub '11 be candidatin* here, 
first thing we know! " exclaimed the outraged Re- 
publican nominee for district attorney.) 

Number five had a feeble-minded child, which 
the hiring committee prophesied would always be 

121 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

standing in the parsonage front yard, making talk 
for the other denominations. 

Number six was the Rev. Judson Baxter, the 
present incumbent ; and he was voted to be as near 
perfection as a minister can be in this finite world. 
His young wife had a small income of her own, a 
distinct and unusual advantage, and the subscrip- 
tion committee hoped that they might not be eter- 
nally driving over the country to get somebody's 
fifty cents that had been over-due for eight months, 
but might take their onerous duties a little more 
easily, 

" It does seem as if our ministers were the poor- 
est lot ! " complained Mrs. Robinson. " If their 
salary is two months behindhand they begin to be 
nervous ! Seems as though they might lay up a 
little before they come here, and not live from hand 
to mouth so ! The Baxters seem quite different, 
and I only hope they won't get wasteful and run 
into debt. They say she keeps the parlor blinds 
open 'bout half the time, and the room is lit up 
so often evenin's that the neighbors think her and 
Mr. Baxter must set in there. It don't seem hardly 
as if it could be so, but Mrs. Buzzell says 't is, and 
she says we might as well say good-by to the par- 
lor carpet, which is church property, for the Bax- 
ters are living all over it ! " 

This criticism was the only discordant note in 

122 



THE SAVING OF THE COLORS 

the chorus of praise, and the people gradually 
grew accustomed to the open blinds and the over- 
used parlor carpet, which was just completing its 
twenty-fifth year of honest service. 

Mrs. Baxter communicated her patriotic idea of 
a new flag to the Dorcas Society, proposing that 
the women should cut and make it themselves. 

" It may not be quite as good as those manufac- 
tured in the large cities," she said, "but we shall 
be proud to see our home-made flag flying in the 
breeze, and it will mean all the more to the young 
voters growing up, to remember that their mothers 
made it with their own hands." 

" How would it do to let some of the girls help.^ '* 
modestly asked Miss Dearborn, the Riverboro 
teacher. "We might choose the best sewers and 
let them put in at least a few stitches, so that they 
can feel they have a share in it." 

" Just the thing ! " exclaimed Mrs. Baxter. 
" We can cut the stripes and sew them together, 
and after we have basted on the white stars the 
girls can apply them to the blue ground. We 
must have it ready for the campaign rally, and we 
could n't christen it at a better time than in this 
presidential year." 



123 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

II 

In this way the great enterprise was started, and 
day by day the preparations went forward in the 
two villages. 

The boys, as future voters and fighters, de- 
manded an active share in the proceedings, and 
were organized by Squire Bean into a fife and 
drum corps, so that by day and night martial but 
most inharmonious music woke the echoes, and 
deafened mothers felt their patriotism oozing out 
at the soles of their shoes. 

Dick Carter was made captain, for his grand- 
father had a gold medal given him by Queen Vic- 
toria for rescuing three hundred and twenty-six 
passengers from a sinking British vessel. River- 
boro thought it high time to pay some graceful 
tribute to Great Britain in return for her handsome 
conduct to Captain Nahum Carter, and human im- 
agination could contrive nothing more impressive 
than a vicarious share in the flag-raising. 

Living Perkins tried to be happy in the ranks, 
for he was offered no official position, principally, 
Mrs. Smellie observed, because " his father's war 
record wa'n't clean." " Oh, yes ! Jim Perkins went 
to the war," she continued. "He hid out behind 
the hencoop when they was draftin*, but they 
found him and took him along. He got into one 

124 



THE SAVING OF THE COLORS 

battle, too, somehow or 'nother, but he run away 
from it. He was allers cautious, Jim was ; if he 
ever see trouble of any kind comin' towards him, 
he was out o' sight 'fore it got a chance to light. 
He said eight dollars a month, without bounty, 
would n't pay him to stop bullets for. He would n't 
fight a skeeter, Jim would n't, but land ! we ain't 
to war all the time, and he 's a good neighbor and 
a good blacksmith.*' 

Miss Dearborn was to be Columbia and the older 
girls of the two schools were to be the States. Such 
trade in muslins and red, white, and blue ribbons 
had never been known since " Watson kep' store," 
and the number of brief white petticoats hanging 
out to bleach would have caused the passing stranger 
to imagine Riverboro a continual dancing-school. 

Juvenile virtue, both male and female, reached 
an almost impossible height, for parents had only 
to lift a finger and say, "You shan't go to the 
flag-raising ! " and the refractory spirit at once 
armed itself for new struggles toward the perfect 
life. 

Mr. Jeremiah Cobb had consented to impersonate 
Uncle Sam, and was to drive Columbia and the 
States to the " raising " on the top of his own stage. 
Meantime the boys were drilling, the ladies were 
cutting and basting and stitching, and the girls were 
sewing on stars ; for the starry part of the spangled 

125 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

banner was to remain with each of them in turn 
until she had performed her share of the work. 

It was felt by one and all a fine and splendid ser- 
vice indeed to help in the making of the flag, and if 
Rebecca was proud to be of the chosen ones, so 
was her Aunt Jane Sawyer, who had taught her all 
her delicate stitches. 

On a long-looked-for afternoon in August the 
minister's wife drove up to the brick-house door, 
and handed out the great piece of bunting to 
Rebecca, who received it in her arms with as much 
solemnity as if it had been a child awaiting bap- 
tismal rites. 

" I 'm so glad ! " she sighed happily. ** I thought 
it would never come my turn ! " 

"You should have had it a week ago, but 
Huldah Meserve upset the ink bottle over her star, 
and we had to baste on another one. You are the 
last, though, and then we shall sew the stars and 
stripes together, and Seth Strout will get the top 
ready for hanging. Just think, it won't be many 
days before you children will be pulling the rope 
with all your strength, the band will be playing, 
the men will be cheering, and the new flag will go 
higher and higher, till the red, white, and blue 
shows against the sky ! " 

Rebecca's eyes fairly blazed. "Shall I 'fell on' 
my star, or buttonhole it ? " she asked. 

126 



THE SAVING OF THE COLORS 

"Look at all the others and make the most 
beautiful stitches you can, that 's all. It is your 
star, you know, and you can even imagine it is 
your state, and try and have it the best of all. If 
everybody else is trying to do the same thing with 
her state, that will make a great country, won't 
it.? " 

Rebecca's eyes spoke glad confirmation of the 
idea. " My star, my state ! " she repeated joyously. 
"Oh, Mrs. Baxter, I'll make such fine stitches you'll 
think the white grew out of the blue !" 

The new minister's wife looked pleased to see 
her spark kindle a flame in the young heart. " You 
can sew so much of yourself into your star," she 
went on in the glad voice that made her so win- 
some, " that when you are an old lady you can put 
on your specs and find it among all the others. 
Good-by ! Come up to the parsonage Saturday 
afternoon ; Mr. Baxter wants to see you." 

"Judson, help that dear little genius of a Re- 
becca all you can ! " she said that night, when they 
were cosily talking in their parlor and living " all 
over " the parish carpet. " I don't know what she 
may, or may not, come to, some day ; I only wish 
she were ours ! If you could have seen her clasp 
the flag tight in her arms and put her cheek against 
it, and watched the tears of feeling start in her 
eyes when I told her that her star was her state I 

127 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

I kept whispering to myself, * Covet not thy neigh- 
bor's child i ' " 

Daily a* tour o'clock Rebecca scrubbed her hands 
almos' 10 the bone, brushed her hair, and otherwise 
prepared herself in body, mind, and spirit for the 
consecrated labor of sewing on her star. All the 
time that her needle cautiously, conscientiously 
formed the tiny stitches she was making rhymes 
**in her head," her favorite achievement being 
this : — 

" Your star, my star, all our stars together, 
They make the dear old banner proud 
To float in the bright fall weather." 

There was much discussion as to which of the 
girls should impersonate the State of Maine, for 
that was felt to be the highest honor in the gift 
of the committee. 

Alice Robinson was the prettiest child in the 
village, but she was very shy and by no means a 
general favorite. 

Minnie Smellie possessed the handsomest dress 
and a pair of white slippers and open-work stock- 
ings that nearly carried the day. Still, as Miss 
Delia Weeks well said, she was so stupid that if 
she should suck her thumb in the very middle of 
the exercises nobody 'd be a dite surprised ! 

Huldah Meserve was next voted upon, and the 
fact that if she were not chosen her father might 

128 



' "^-'l^-^^M* V-!'^ 



"jl>»^.> *' 




'my star, my state!" she repeated joyously 



THE SAVING OF THE COLORS 

withdraw his subscription to the brass band fund 
was a matter for grave consideration. 

" I kind o' hate to have such a giggler for the 
State of Maine ; let her be the Goddess of Liberty," 
proposed Mrs. Burbank, whose patriotism was more 
local than national. 

" How would Rebecca Randall do for Maine, and 
let her speak some of her verses ? " suggested the 
new minister's wife, who, could she have had her 
way, would have given all the prominent parts to 
Rebecca, from Uncle Sam down. 

So, beauty, fashion, and wealth having been tried 
and found wanting, the committee discussed the 
claims of talent, and it transpired that to the awe- 
stricken Rebecca fell the chief plum in the pud- 
ding. It was a tribute to her gifts that there was 
no jealousy or envy among the other girls; they 
readily conceded her special fitness for the r61e. 

Her life had not been pressed down full to the 
brim of pleasures, and she had a sort of distrust of 
joy in the bud. Not until she saw it in full radiance 
of bloom did she dare embrace it. She had never 
read any verse but Byron, Felicia Hemans, bits of 
*' Paradise Lost," and the selections in the school 
readers, but she would have agreed heartily with 
the poet who said : — 

" Not by appointment do we meet delight 
And iov: thev heed not our exgectancv; 
129 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

But round some corner in the streets of life 
They on a sudden clasp us with a smile." 

For many nights before the raising, when she 
went to her bed she said to herself, after she had 
finished her prayers : "It can't be true that I'm 
chosen for the State of Maine! It just ca7it be 
true ! Nobody could be good enotigh, but oh, I '11 
try to be as good as I can ! To be going to Ware- 
ham Seminary next week and to be the State of 
Maine too ! Oh ! I must pray hard to God to keep 
me meek and humble ! " 

III 

The flag was to be raised on a Tuesday, and on 
the previous Sunday it became known to the chil- 
dren that Clara Belle Simpson was coming back 
from Acreville, coming to live with Mrs, Fogg and 
take care of the baby, called by the neighborhood 
boys " the Fogg horn," on account of his excellent 
voice production. 

Clara Belle was one of Miss Dearborn's original 
flock, and if she were left wholly out of the festivi- 
ties she would be the only girl of suitable age to be 
thus slighted ; it seemed clear to the juvenile mind, 
therefore, that neither she nor her descendants 
would ever recover from such a blow. But, under 
all the circumstances, would she be allowed to join 
in the procession ? Even Rebecca, the optimistic, 

130 



THE SAVING OF THE COLORS 

feared not, and the committee confirmed her fears 
by saying that Abner Simpson's daughter certainly 
could not take any prominent part in the ceremony, 
but they hoped that Mrs. Fogg would allow her to 
witness it. 

When Abner Simpson, urged by the town author- 
ities, took his wife and seven children away from 
Riverboro to Acreville, just over the border in the 
next county, Riverboro went to bed leaving its barn 
and shed doors unfastened, and drew long breaths 
of gratitude to Providence. 

Of most winning disposition and genial manners, 
Mr. Simpson had not that instinctive comprehen- 
sion of property rights which renders a man a valu- 
able citizen. 

Squire Bean was his nearest neighbor, and he 
conceived the novel idea of paying Simpson five 
dollars a year not to steal from him, a method oc- 
casionally used in the Highlands in early days. 

The bargain was struck, and adhered to reli- 
giously for a twelve-month, but on the second of 
January Mr. Simpson announced the verbal con- 
tract as formally broken. 

"I did n't know what I was doin* when I made 
it, Squire," he urged. " In the first place, it's a slur 
on my reputation and an injury to my self-respect. 
Secondly, it 's a nervous strain on me ; and thirdly, 
five dollars don't pay me ! " 

131 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

Squire Bean was so struck with the unique and 
convincing nature of these arguments that he could 
scarcely restrain his admiration, and he confessed 
to himself afterward, that unless Simpson's men- 
tal attitude could be changed he was perhaps a 
fitter subject for medical science than the state 
prison. 

Abner was a most unusual thief, and conducted 
his operations with a tact and neighborly considera- 
tion none too common in the profession. He would 
never steal a man's scythe in haying-time, nor his 
fur lap-robe in the coldest of the winter. The 
picking of a lock offered no attractions to him; 
" he wa'n't no burglar," he would have scornfully 
asserted. A strange horse and wagon hitched by 
the roadside was the most flagrant of his thefts ; 
but it was the small things — the hatchet or axe 
on the chopping-block, the tin pans sunning at the 
side door, a stray garment bleaching on the grass, 
a hoe, rake, shovel, or a bag of early potatoes, — 
that tempted him most sorely; and these appealed 
to him not so much for their intrinsic value as be- 
cause they were so excellently adapted to swapping. 
The swapping was really the enjoyable part of the 
procedure, the theft was only a sad but necessary 
preliminary ; for if Abner himself had been a man 
of sufficient property to carry on his business oper- 
ations independently, it is doubtful if he would 

132 



THE SAVING OF THE COLORS 

ftave helped himself so freely to his neighbor's 
goods. 

Riverboro regretted the loss of Mrs. Simpson, 
who was useful in scrubbing, cleaning, and wash- 
ing, and was thought to exercise some influence 
over her predatory spouse. There was a story of 
their early married life, when they had a farm ; a 
story to the effect that Mrs. Simpson always rod6 
on every load of hay that her husband took to 
Milltown, with the view of keeping him sober 
through the day. After he turned out of the coun- 
try road and approached the metropolis, it was said 
that he used to bury the docile lady in the load. 
He would then drive on to the scales, have the 
weight of hay entered in the buyer's book, take 
his horses to the stable for feed and water, and 
when a favorable opportunity offered he would 
assist the hot and panting Mrs. Simpson out of the 
side or back of the rack, and gallantly brush the 
straw from her person. For this reason it was 
always asserted that Abner Simpson sold his wife 
every time he went to Milltown, but the story was 
never fully substantiated, and at all events it was 
the only suspected blot on meek Mrs. Simpson's 
personal reputation. 

As for the Simpson children, they were missed 
chiefly as familiar figures by the roadside ; but Re- 
becca honestly loved Clara Belle, notwithstanding 

J33 



/ 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

her Aunt Miranda's opposition to the intimacy. 
Rebecca's "taste for low company" was a source 
of continual anxiety to her aunt. 

"Anything that 's human flesh is good enough 
for her ! " Miranda groaned to Jane. " She '11 ride 
with the rag-sack-and-bottle peddler just as quick 
as she would with the minister; she always sets 
beside the St. Vitus* dance young one at Sabbath 
school ; and she 's forever riggin* and onriggin' that 
dirty Simpson baby ! She reminds me of a puppy 
that '11 always go to everybody that '11 have him 1 " 

It was thought very creditable to Mrs. Fogg that 
she sent for Clara Belle to live with her and go to 
school part of the year. 

"She'll be useful," said Mrs. Fogg, "and she'll 
be out of her father's way, and so keep honest ; 
though she 's so awful hombly I 've no fears for 
her. A girl with her red hair, freckles, and cross- 
eyes can't fall into no kind of sin, I don't be- 
lieve." 

Mrs. Fogg requested that Clara Belle should be 
started on her journey from Acreville by train and 
come the rest of the way by stage, and she was 
disturbed to receive word on Sunday that Mr. 
Simpson had borrowed a " good roader " from a 
new acquaintance, and would himself drive the girl 
from Acreville to Riverboro, a distance of thirty. 

134 



THE SAVING OF THE COLORS 

five miles. That he would arrive in their vicinity 
on the very night before the flag-raising was thought 
by Riverboro to be a public misfortune, and several 
residents hastily determined to deny themselves a 
sight of the festivities and remain watchfully on 
their own premises. 

On Monday afternoon the children were rehears- 
ing their songs at the meeting-house. As Rebecca 
came out on the broad wooden steps she watched 
Mrs. Peter Meserve's buggy out of sight, for in 
front, wrapped in a cotton sheet, lay the precious 
flag. After a few chattering good-bys and weather 
prophecies with the other girls, she started on her 
homeward walk, dropping in at the parsonage to 
read her verses to the minister. 

He welcomed her gladly as she removed her 
white cotton gloves (hastily slipped on outside the 
door, for ceremony) and pushed back the funny hat 
with the yellow and black porcupine quills — the 
hat with which she made her first appearance in 
Riverboro society. 

" You 've heard the beginning, Mr. Baxter ; now 
will you please tell me if you like the last verse ?" 
she asked, taking out her paper. *' I 've only read 
it to Alice Robinson, and I think perhaps she can 
never be a poet, though she 's a splendid writer. 
Last year when she was twelve she wrote a birth- 
day poem to herself, and she made * natal ' rhyme 

'35 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

with * Milton/ which, of course, it would n*t. I re- 
member every verse ended : — 

* This is my day so natal 
And I will follow Milton.* 

Another one of hers was written just because she 
could n't help it, she said. This was it : — 

' Let me to the hills away, 
Give me pen and paper; 
I '11 write until the earth will sway 
The story of my Maker.' " 

The minister could scarcely refrain from smiling, 
but he controlled himself that he might lose none 
of Rebecca's quaint observations. When she was 
perfectly at ease, unwatched and uncriticised, she 
was a marvelous companion. 

"The name of the poem is going to be *My 
Star,' " she continued, **and Mrs. Baxter gave me 
all the ideas, but somehow there 's a kind of magic- 
ness when they get into poetry, don't you think 
so } " (Rebecca always talked to grown people as 
if she were their age, or, a more subtle and truer 
distinction, as if they were hers.) 

"It has often been so remarked, in different 
words," agreed the minister. 

" Mrs. Baxter said that each star was a state, and 
if each state did its best we should have a splendid 
country. Then once she said that we ought to be 
glad the war is over and the States are all at peace 

136 



THE SAVING OF THE COLORS 

together ; and I thought Columbia must be glad, 
too, for Miss Dearborn says she 's the mother of all 
the States. So I 'm going to have it end like this : 
I didn't write it, I just sewed it while I was work- 
ing on my star : — 

For it *s your star, my star, all the stars together, 

That make our country's flag so proud 
To float in the bright fall weather. 
Northern stars, Southern stars, stars of the East and West, 

Side by side they lie at peace 
On the dear flag's mother-breast.'* 

" * Oh ! many are the poets that are sown by 
Nature,'*' thought the minister, quoting Words- 
worth to himself. " And I wonder what becomes 
of them ! That 's a pretty idea, little Rebecca, and 
I don't know whether you or my wife ought to 
have the more praise. What made you think of the 
stars lying on the flag's * mother-breast ' ? Where 
did you get that word ? " 

"Why " (and the young poet looked rather puz- 
zled), "that 's the way it is ; the flag is the whole 
country — the mother — and the stars are the states. 
The stars had to lie somewhere : * hp' nor * arms ' 
would n't sound well with * West,' so, of course, I 
said * breasty " Rebecca answered, with some sur- 
prise at the question; and the minister put his 
hand under her chin and kissed her softly on the 
forehead when he said good-by at the door. 

^37 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

IV 

Rebecca walked rapidly along in the gathering 
twilight, thinking of the eventful morrow. 

As she approached the turning on the left called 
the old Milltown road, she saw a white horse and 
wagon, driven by a man with a rakish, flapping, 
Panama hat, come rapidly around the turn and dis- 
appear over the long hills leading down to the 
falls. There was no mistaking him ; there never 
was another Abner Simpson, with his lean height, 
his bushy reddish hair, the gay cock of his hat, and 
the long, piratical, upturned mustaches, which the 
boys used to say were used as hat-racks by the 
Simpson children at night. The old Milltown road 
ran past Mrs. Fogg's house, so he must have left 
Clara Belle there, and Rebecca's heart glowed to 
think that her poor little friend need not miss the 
raising. 

She began to run now, fearful of being late for 
supper, and covered the ground to the falls in a 
brief time. As she crossed the bridge she again 
saw Abner Simpson's team, drawn up at the water- 
ing trough. 

Coming a little nearer, with the view of inquiring 
for the family, her quick eye caught sight of some- 
thing unexpected. A gust of wind blew up a corner 
of a linen lap-robe in the back of the wagon, and 

138 



THE SAVING OF THE COLORS 

underneath it she distinctly saw the white-sheeted 
bundle that held the flag ; the bundle with a tiny, 
tiny spot of red bunting peeping out at one corner. 
It is true she had eaten, slept, dreamed red, white, 
and blue for weeks, but there was no mistaking 
the evidence of her senses ; the idolized flag, longed 
for, worked for, sewed for, that flag was in the back 
of Abner Simpson's wagon, and if so, what would 
become of the raising ? 

Acting on blind impulse, she ran toward the 
watering-trough, calling out in her clear treble: 
" Mr. Simpson ! Oh, Mr. Simpson, will you let 
me ride a piece with you and hear all about Clara 
Belle } I 'm going part way over to the Centre on 
an errand." (So she was ; a most important errand, 
— to recover the flag of her country at present in 
the hands of the foe !) 

Mr. Simpson turned round in his seat and cried 
heartily, "Certain sure I will!" for he liked the 
fair sex, young and old, and Rebecca had always 
been a prime favorite with him. " Climb right in ! 
How's everybody.^ Glad to see ye ! The folks talk 
'bout ye from sun-up to sun-down, and Clara Belle 
can't hardly wait for a sight of ye ! " 

Rebecca scrambled up, trembling and pale with 
excitement. She did not in the least know what 
was going to happen, but she was sure that the 
flag, when in the enemy's country, must be at least 

139 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

a little safer with the State of Maine sitting on top 
of it! 

Mr. Simpson began a long monologue about 
Acreville, the house he lived in, the pond in front 
of it, Mrs. Simpson's health, and various items of 
news about the children, varied by reports of his 
personal misfortunes. He put no questions, and 
asked no replies, so this gave the inexperienced 
soldier a few seconds to plan a campaign. There 
were three houses to pass ; the Browns* at the cor- 
ner, the Millikens', and the Robinsons' on the brow 
of the hill. If Mr. Robinson were in the front yard 
she might tell Mr. Simpson she wanted to call there 
and ask Mr. Robinson to hold the horse's head 
while she got out of the wagon. Then she might 
fly to the back before Mr. Simpson could realize 
the situation, and dragging out the precious bundle, 
sit on it hard, while Mr. Robinson settled the mat- 
ter of ownership with Mr. Simpson. 

This was feasible, but it meant a quarrel between 
the two men, who held an ancient grudge against 
each other, and Mr. Simpson was a valiant fighter, 
as the various sheriffs who had attempted to arrest 
him could cordially testify. It also meant that 
everybody in the village would hear of the incident 
and poor Clara Belle be branded again as the child 
of a thief. 

Another idea danced into her excited brain ; 

140 



THE SAVING OF THE COLORS 

such a clever one she could hardly believe it hers. 
She might call Mr. Robinson to the wagon, and 
when he came close to the wheels she might say, 
" all of a sudden " ; " Please take the flag out of 
the back of the wagon, Mr. Robinson. We have 
brought it here for you to keep overnight." Mr. 
Simpson might be so surprised that he would give 
up his prize rather than be suspected of stealing. 

But as they neared the Robinsons' house there 
was not a sign of life to be seen ; so the last plan, 
ingenious though it was, was perforce abandoned. 

The road now lay between thick pine woods with 
no dwelling in sight. It was growing dusk and Re- 
becca was driving along the lonely way with a per- 
son who was generally called Slippery Simpson. 

Not a thought of fear crossed her mind, save the 
fear of bungling in her diplomacy, and so losing the 
flag. She knew Mr. Simpson well, and a pleasanter 
man was seldom to be met. She recalled an after- 
noon when he came home and surprised the whole 
school playing the Revolutionary War in his helter- 
skelter dooryard, and the way in which he had 
joined the British forces and impersonated General 
Burgoyne had greatly endeared him to her. The 
only difficulty was to find proper words for her del- 
icate mission, for, of course, if Mr. Simpson's anger 
were aroused, he would politely push her out of the 
wagon and drive away with the flag. Perhaps if 

14J 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

she led the conversation in the right direction ar 
opportunity would present itself. She well remem' 
bered how Emma Jane Perkins had failed to con- 
vert Jacob Moody, simply because she failed to 
" lead up " to the delicate question of his manner 
^f life. Clearing her throat nervously, she began : 

" Is it likely to be fair to-morrow ? '* 

" Guess so ; clear as a bell. What 's on foot ; a 
picnic .'' 

" No ; we 're to have a grand flag-raising ! " 
(" That is," she thought, " if we have any flag to 
raise ! ") 

*'That so.? Where.?" 

" The three villages are to club together and 
have a rally, and raise the flag at the Centre. 
There '11 be a brass band, and speakers, and the 
Mayor of Portland, and the man that will be gov- 
ernor if he *s elected, and a dinner in the Grange 
Hall, and we girls are chosen to raise the flag." 

** I want to know ! That '11 be grand, won't 
it ? " (Still not a sign of consciousness on the part 
of Abner.) 

" I hope Mrs. Fogg will take Clara Belle, for it 
will be splendid to look at ! Mr. Cobb is going to 
be Uncle Sam and drive us on the stage. Miss 
Dearborn — Clara Belle's old teacher, you know — 
is going to be Columbia ; the girls will be the 
States of the Union, and oh, Mr. Simpson, I am 

142 



THE SAVING OF THE COLORS 

the one to be the State of Maine ! " (This was not 
altogether to the point, but a piece of information 
impossible to conceal.) 

Mr. Simpson flourished the whipstock and gave 
a loud, hearty laugh. Then he turned in his seat 
and regarded Rebecca curiously. " You 're kind o* 
small, hain't ye, for so big a state as this one } " he 
asked. 

"Any of us would be too small," replied Re- 
becca with dignity, "but the committee asked me, 
and I am going to try hard to do well." 

The tragic thought that there might be no oc- 
casion for anybody to do anything, well or ill, sud- 
denly overcame her here, and putting her hand on 
Mr. Simpson's sleeve, she attacked the subject 
practically and courageously. 

" Oh, Mr. Simpson, dear Mr. Simpson, it 's such 
a mortifying subject I can't bear to say anything 
about it, but please give us back our flag ! Don't, 
donH take it over to Acreville, Mr. Simpson ! 
We 've worked so long to make it, and it was so 
hard getting the money for the bunting ! Wait a 
minute, please ; don't be angry, and don't say no 
just yet, till I explain more. It '11 be so dreadful 
for everybody to get there to-morrow morning and 
find no flag to raise, and the band and the mayor 
all disappointed, and the children crying, with their 
muslin dresses all bought for nothing ! O dear 

143 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

Mr. Simpson, please don't take our flag away from 



us!" 



The apparently astonished Abner pulled his mus- 
taches and exclaimed : " But I don't know what 
you 're drivin' at ! Who 's got yer flag ? / hain't ! " 

Could duplicity, deceit, and infamy go any fur- 
ther, Rebecca wondered, and her soul filling with 
righteous wrath, she cast discretion to the winds 
and spoke a little more plainly, bending her great 
swimming eyes on the now embarrassed Abner, 
who looked like an angle-worm wriggling on a 
pin. 

" Mr. Simpson, how can you say that, when I saw 
the flag in the back of your wagon myself, when 
you stopped to water the horse ? It 's wicked of 
you to take it, and I cannot bear it ! " (Her voice 
broke now, for a doubt of Mr. Simpson's yielding 
suddenly darkened her mind.) ''If you keep it, 
you '11 have to keep me, for I won't be parted from 
it ! I can't fight like the boys, but I can pinch and 
scratch, and I will scratch, just like a panther — 
I '11 lie right down on my star and not move, if I 
starve to death ! " 

" Look here, hold your bosses 'n' don't cry till 
you git something to cry for ! " grumbled the out- 
raged Abner, to whom a clue had just come ; and 
leaning over the wagon-back he caught hold of a 
corner of white sheet and dragged up the bundle, 

144 



THE SAVING OF THE COLORS 

scooping off Rebecca's hat in the process, and 
almost burying her in bunting. 

She caught the treasure passionately to her heart 
and stifled her sobs in it, while Abner exclaimed : 
" I swan to man, if that hain't a flag ! Well, in that 
case you 're good 'n' welcome to it ! Land ! I seen 
that bundle lyin' in the middle o' the road and I 
says to myself, that 's somebody's washin' and I 'd 
better pick it up and leave it at the post-ofBce to 
be claimed ; 'n' all the time it was a flag ! " 

This was a Simpsonian version of the matter, 
the fact being that a white-covered bundle lying 
on the Meserves' front steps had attracted his prac- 
ticed eye, and slipping in at the open gate he had 
swiftly and deftly removed it to his wagon on gen- 
eral principles ; thinking if it were clean clothes it 
would be extremely useful, and in any event there 
was no good in passing by something flung into 
your very arms, so to speak. He had had no lei- 
sure to examine the bundle, and indeed took little 
interest in it. Probably he stole it simply from 
force of habit, and because there was nothing else 
in sight to steal, everybody's premises being pre- 
ternaturally tidy and empty, almost as if his visit 
had been expected ! 

Rebecca was a practical child, and it seemed to 
Tier almost impossible that so heavy a bundle should 
fall out of Mrs. Meserve's buggy and not be no- 

145 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

ticed ; but she hoped that Mr. Simpson was telling 
the truth, and she was too glad and grateful to 
doubt any one at the moment. 

"Thank you, thank you ever so much, Mr. Simp- 
son. You 're the nicest, kindest, politest man I 
ever knew, and the girls will be so pleased you gave 
us back the flag, and so will the Dorcas Society; 
they'll be sure to write you a letter of thanks; 
they always do." 

"Tell 'em not to bother 'bout any thanks," said 
Simpson, beaming virtuously. " But land ! I 'm 
glad 'twas me that happened to see that bundle 
in the road and take the trouble to pick it up." 
("Jest to think of it 's bein* a flag ! " he thought ; 
" if ever there was a pesky, wuthless thing to trade 
ofif, 't would be a great, gormin' flag like that ! ") 

"Can I get out now, please?" asked Rebecca. 
"I want to go back, for Mrs. Meserve will be 
dreadfully nervous when she finds out she dropped 
the flag, and she has heart trouble.'* 

"No, you don't," objected Mr. Simpson gallantly, 
turning the horse. " Do you think I 'd let a little 
creeter like you lug that great heavy bundle? I 
hain't got time to go back to Meserve's, but 1 '11 
take you to the corner and dump you there, flag 'n' 
all, and you can get some o' the men-folks to carry 
it the rest o* the way. You '11 wear it out, huggin' 
it so ! " 

146 



THE SAVING OF THE COLORS 

** I helped make it and I adore it ! " said Rebecca^ 
who was in a high-pitched and grandiloquent mood. 
** Why don't you like it ? It 's your country's flag." 

Simpson smiled an indulgent smile and looked a 
trifle bored at these frequent appeals to his ex- 
tremely rusty higher feelings. 

" I don* know *s I Ve got any partic'lar interest 
in the country," he remarked languidly. " I know 
I don't owe nothin' to it, nor own nothin' in 
it!" 

" You own a star on the flag, same as everybody," 
argued Rebecca, who had been feeding on patriot^ 
ism for a month ; " and you own a state, too, like 
all of us ! " 

" Land ! I wish 't I did ! or even a quarter sec- 
tion ! " sighed Mr. Simpson, feeling somehow a 
little more poverty-stricken and discouraged than 
usual. 

As they approached the corner and the water- 
ing-trough where four cross-roads met, the whole 
neighborhood seemed to be in evidence, and Mr. 
Simpson suddenly regretted his chivalrous escort 
of Rebecca; especially when, as he neared the 
group, an excited lady, wringing her hands, turned 
out to be Mrs. Peter Meserve, accompanied by 
Huldah, the Browns, Mrs. Milliken, Abijah Flagg, 
and Miss Dearborn. 

" Do you know anything about the new flag, 

147 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

Rebecca?" shrieked Mrs. Meserve, too agitated, 
at the moment, to notice the child's companion. 

'' It 's right here in my lap, all safe," responded 
Rebecca joyously. 

"You careless, meddlesome young one, to take 
it off my steps where I left it just long enough to 
go round to the back and hunt up my door-key ! 
You 've given me a fit of sickness with my weak 
heart, and what business was it of yours ? I believe 
you think you own the flag ! Hand it over to me 
this minute ! " 

Rebecca was climbing down during this torrent 
of language, but as she turned she flashed one look 
of knowledge at the false Simpson, a look that 
went through him from head to foot, as if it were 
carried by electricity. 

He had not deceived her after all, owing to the 
angry chatter of Mrs. Meserve. He had been hand- 
cuffed twice in his life, but no sheriff had ever dis- 
comfited him so thoroughly as this child. Fury 
mounted to his brain, and as soon as she was safely 
out from between the wheels he stood up in the 
wagon and flung the flag out in the road in the 
midst of the excited group. 

"Take it, you pious, passimonious, cheese-parin', 
hair-splittin', back-bitin', flag-raisin' crew ! " he 
roared. " Rebecca never took the flag ; I found it 
in the road, I say 1 " 

148 



THE SAVING OF THE COLORS 

" You never, no such a thing ! " exclaimed Mrs. 
Meserve. " You found it on the doorsteps in my 
garden ! " 

" Mebbe 't was your garden, but it was so chock 
full o' weeds I thought \ was the road," retorted 
Abner. " I vow I would n't *a' given the old rag 
back to one o' youy not if you begged me on your 
bended knees ! But Rebecca 's a friend o' my folks 
and can do with her flag 's she 's a mind to, and the 
rest o* ye can go to thunder — *n' stay there, for 
all I care ! " 

So saying, he made a sharp turn, gave the gaunt 
white horse a lash and disappeared in a cloud of 
dust, before the astonished Mr. Brown, the only 
man in the party, had a thought of detaining him. 

" I 'm sorry I spoke so quick, Rebecca," said 
Mrs. Meserve, greatly mortified at the situation. 
" But don't you believe a word that lyin' critter 
said ! He did steal it off my doorstep, and how did 
you come to be ridin' and consortin' with him } I 
believe it would kill your Aunt Miranda if she 
should hear about it ! " 

The little school-teacher put a sheltering arm 
round Rebecca as Mr. Brown picked up the flag 
and dusted and folded it. 

" I 'm willing she should hear about it," Rebecca 
answered. " I did n't do anything to be ashamed 
of ! I saw the flag in the back of Mr. Simpson's 

149 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

wagon and I just followed it. There weren't any 
men or any Dorcases to take care of it and so it 
fell to me ! You would n't have had me let it cut 
of my sight, would you, and we going to raise it 
to-morrow morning ? " 

" Rebecca 's perfectly right, Mrs. Meserve 1 " 
said Miss Dearborn proudly. " And it 's lucky 
there was somebody quick-witted enough to ' ride 
and consort * with Mr. Simpson ! I don't know what 
the village will think, but seems to me the town 
clerk might write down in his book, * This day the 
State of Maine saved the Jlag! ' '* 



Sixth Chronicle 
THE STATE O' MAINE GIRL 



THE foregoing episode, if narrated in a 
romance, would undoubtedly have been 
called •' The Saving of the Colors," but 
at the nightly conversazione in Watson's store it 
was alluded to as the way little Becky Randall got 
the flag away from Slippery Simpson. 

Dramatic as it was, it passed into the limbo 
of half -forgotten things in Rebecca's mind, its 
brief importance submerged in the glories of the 
next day. 

There was a painful prelude to these glories. 
Alice Robinson came to spend the night with 
Rebecca, and when the bedroom door closed upon 
the two girls, Alice announced her intention of 
"doing up" Rebecca's front hair in leads and 
rags, and braiding the back in six tight, wetted 
braids. 

Rebecca demurred. Alice persisted. 

"Your hair is so long and thick and dark and 
straight," she said, " that you '11 look like an In- 
jun 1 " 

151 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

"I am the State of Maine; it all belonged U 
the Indians once," Rebecca remarked gloomily, 
for she was curiously shy about discussing her per- 
sonal appearance. 

" And your wreath of little pine-cones won't set 
decent without crimps," continued Alice. 

Rebecca glanced in the cracked looking-glass 
and met what she considered an accusing lack of 
beauty, a sight that always either saddened or en- 
raged her according to circumstances ; then she 
sat down resignedly and began to help Alice in 
the philanthropic work of making the State of 
Maine fit to be seen at the raising. 

Neither of the girls was an expert hairdresser, 
and at the end of an hour, when the sixth braid 
was tied, and Rebecca had given one last shudder- 
ing look in the mirror, both were ready to weep 
with fatigue. 

The candle was blown out and Alice soon went 
to sleep, but Rebecca tossed on her pillow, its 
goose-feathered softness all dented by the cruel 
lead knobs and the knots of twisted rags. She 
slipped out of bed and walked to and fro, holding 
her aching head with both hands. Finally she leaned 
on the window-sill, watching the still weather-vane 
on Alice's barn and breathing in the fragrance of 
the ripening apples, until her restlessness subsided 
under the clear starry beauty of the night 

153 



THE STATE O' MAINE GIRL 

At six in the morning the girls were out of bed, 
for Alice could hardly wait until Rebecca's hair 
was taken down, she was so eager to see the result 
of her labors. 

The leads and rags were painfully removed, to- 
gether with much hair, the operation being punctu- 
ated by a series of squeaks, squeals, and shrieks on 
the part of Rebecca and a series of warnings from 
Alice, who wished the preliminaries to be kept 
secret from the aunts, that they might the more 
fully appreciate the radiant result. 

Then came the unbraiding, and then — dramatic 
moment — the "combing out ;" a difficult, not to 
say impossible process, in which the hairs that had 
resisted the earlier stages almost gave up the 
ghost. 

The long front strands had been wound up from 
various angles and by various methods, so that, when 
released, they assumed the strangest, most obsti- 
nate, most unexpected attitudes. When the comb 
was dragged through the last braid, the wild, tor- 
tured, electric hairs following, and then rebounding 
from it in a bristling, snarling tangle, Massachu- 
setts gave one encompassing glance at the State 
o' Maine's head, and announced her intention of 
going home to breakfast ! She was deeply grieved 
at the result of her attempted beautifying, but she 
felt that meeting Miss Miranda Sawyer at the morn- 

153 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

ing meal would not mend matters in the least, so 
slipping out of the side door, she ran up Guide- 
Board hill as fast as her legs could carry her. 

The State o' Maine, deserted and somewhat un- 
nerved, sat down before the glass and attacked her 
hair doggedly and with set lips, working over it 
until Miss Jane called her to breakfast ; then, with 
a boldness born of despair, she entered the dining- 
room, where her aunts were already seated at ta- 
ble. To ** draw fire " she whistled, a forbidden joy, 
which only attracted more attention, instead of di- 
verting it. There was a moment of silence after 
the grotesque figure was fully taken in ; then came 
a moan from Jane and a groan from Miranda. 

"What have you done to yourself.^" asked Mi- 
randa sternly. 

" Made an effort to be beautiful and failed ! " 
jauntily replied Rebecca, but she was too miserable 
to keep up the fiction. " Oh, Aunt Miranda, don't 
scold. I 'm so unhappy ! Alice and I rolled up my 
hair to curl it for the raising. She said it was so 
straight I looked like an Indian ! " 

'* Mebbe you did," vigorously agreed Miranda, 
" but 't any rate you looked like a Christian Injun, 
*n' now you look like a heathen Injun; that's all 
the difference I can see. What can we do with her, 
Jane, between this and nine o'clock ? " 

"We'll all go out to the pump just as soon as 

154 



THE STATE O' MAINE GIRL 

we're through breakfast," answered Jane sooth- 
ingly. ** We can accomplish consid'rable with wa- 
ter and force." 

Rebecca nibbled her corn-cake, her tearful eyQj 
cast on her plate and her chin quivering. 

" Don't you cry and red your eyes up/* chided 
Miranda quite kindly ; " the minute you 've eat 
enough run up and get your brush and comb and 
meet us at the back door." 

"I wouldn't care myself how bad I looked," said 
Rebecca, " but I can't bear to be so homely that I 
shame the State of Maine ! " 

Oh, what an hour followed this plaint ! Did any 
aspirant for literary or dramatic honors ever pass 
to fame through such an antechamber of horrors } 
Did poet of the day ever have his head so mal- 
treated ? To be dipped in the rain-water tub, soused 
again and again ; to be held under the spout and 
pumped on ; to be rubbed furiously with rough 
roller towels ; to be dried with hot flannels ! And 
is it not well-nigh incredible that at the close of 
such an hour the ends of the long hair should still 
stand out straight, the braids having been turnec^ 
up two inches by Alice, and tied hard in that posi- 
tion with linen thread.? 

" Get out the skirt-board, Jane," cried Miranda, to 
whom opposition served as a tonic, " and move that 
flat-iron on to the front o' the stove. Rebecca, set 

155 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

down in that low chair beside the board, and Jane, 
you spread out her hair on it and cover it up with 
brown paper. Don't cringe, Rebecca ; the worst 's 
over, and you *ve borne up real good ! I '11 be care- 
ful not to pull your hair nor scorch you, and oh, how 
I 'd like to have Alice Robinson acrost my knee 
and a good strip o' shingle in my right hand ! 
There, you 're all ironed out and your Aunt Jane 
can put on your white dress and braid your hair up 
again good and tight. Perhaps you won't be the 
hombliest of the States, after all ; but when I see 
you comin' in to breakfast I said to myself : ' I guess 
if Maine looked like that, it would n't never *a' been 
admitted into the Union ! ' " 

When Uncle Sam and the stagecoach drew up 
to the brick house with a grand swing and a flourish, 
the Goddess of Liberty and most of the States were 
already in their places on the "harricane deck." 

Words fail to describe the gallant bearing of the 
horses, their headstalls gayly trimmed and their 
harnesses dotted with little flags. The stage win- 
dows were hung in bunting, and from within beamed 
Columbia, looking out from the bright frame as 
if proud of her freight of loyal children. Patriotic 
streamers floated from whip, from dash-board and 
from rumble, and the effect of the whole was some- 
thing to stimulate the most phlegmatic voter. 

Rebecca came out on the steps and Aunt Jane 

156 



THE STATE O^ MAINE GIRL 

brought a chair to assist in the ascent. Miss Dear- 
born peeped from the window, and gave a despair- 
ing look at her favorite. 

What had happened to her ? Who had dressed 
her ? Had her head been put through a wringing- 
machine ? Why were her eyes red and swollen ? 
Miss Dearborn determined to take her behind the 
trees in the pine grove and give her some finishing 
touches ; touches that her skillful fingers fairly 
itched to bestow. 

The stage started, and as the roadside pageant 
grew gayer and gayer, Rebecca began to brighten 
and look prettier, for most of her beautifying came 
from within. The people, walking, driving, or 
standing on their doorsteps, cheered Uncle Sam's 
coach with its freight of gossamer-muslined, flutter- 
ing-ribboned girls, and j ust behind, the gorgeously 
decorated hay cart, driven by Abijah Flagg, bearing 
the jolly but inharmonious fife-and-drum corps. 

Was ever such a golden day ! Such crystal air ! 
Such mellow sunshine ! Such a merry Uncle Sam ! 

The stage drew up at an appointed spot near a 
pine grove, and while the crowd was gathering, 
the children waited for the hour to arrive when 
they should march to the platform ; the horn 
toward which they seemed to have been moving 
since the dawn of creation. 

As soon as possible Miss Dearborn whispered to 

157 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

Rebecca : *• Come behind the trees with me ; I 
want to make you prettier ! '* 

Rebecca thought she had suffered enough from 
that process already during the last twelve hours, 
but she put out an obedient hand and the two 
iv^ithdrew. 

Now Miss Dearborn was, I fear, a very indif- 
ferent teacher. Dr. Moses always said so, and 
Libbie Moses, who wanted her school, said it was 
a pity she had n't enjoyed more social advantages 
in her youth. Libbie herself had taken music 
lessons in Portland ; had spent a night at the 
Profile House in the White Mountains, and had 
visited her sister in Lowell, Massachusetts. These 
experiences gave her, in her own mind, and in the 
mind of her intimate friends, a horizon so bound- 
less that her view of smaller, humbler matters was 
a trifle distorted. 

Miss Dearborn's stock in trade was small, her 
principal virtues being devotion to children and 
ability to gain their love, and a power of evolving 
a schoolroom order so natural, cheery, serene, and 
peaceful that it gave the beholder a certain sense 
of being in a district heaven. She was poor in arith- 
metic and weak in geometry, but if you gave her a 
rose, a bit of ribbon, and a seven-by-nine looking- 
glass she could make herself as pretty as a pink ip 
two minutes. 



THE STATE O' MAINE GIRL 

Safely sheltered behind the pines, Miss Dean 
born began to practice mysterious feminine arts. 
She flew at Rebecca's tight braids, opened the 
strands and rebraided them loosely ; bit and tore 
the red, white, and blue ribbon in two and tied 
the braids separately. Then with nimble fingers 
she pulled out little tendrils of hair behind the 
ears and around the nape of the neck. After a 
glance of acute disapproval directed at the stiff 
balloon skirt she knelt on the ground and gave a 
strenuous embrace to Rebecca's knees, murmur- 
ing, between her hugs, " Starch must be cheap at 
the brick house ! " 

This particular line of beauty attained, there en- 
sued great pinchings of ruffles ; her fingers that 
could never hold a ferrule nor snap children's ears 
being incomparable fluting-irons. 

Next the sash was scornfully untied and tight* 
ened to suggest something resembling a waist 
The chastened bows that had been squat, dowdy, 
spiritless, were given tweaks, flirts, bracing little 
pokes and dabs, till, acknowledging a master hand, 
they stood up, piquant, pert, smart, alert ! 

Pride of bearing was now infused into the flat- 
tened lace at the neck, and a pin (removed at some 
sacrifice from her own toilette) was darned in at the 
back to prevent any cowardly lapsing. The short 
white cotton gloves that called attention to the 

159 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

tanned wrist and arms were stripped off and put in 
her own pocket. Then the wreath of pine-cones was 
adjusted at a heretofore unimagined angle, the hair 
was pulled softly into a fluffy frame, and finally, as 
she met Rebecca's grateful eyes she gave her two 
approving, triumphant kisses. In a second the 
sensitive face lighted into happiness ; pleased dim- 
ples appeared in the cheeks, the kissed mouth was 
as red as a rose, and the little fright that had walked 
behind the pine-tree stepped out on the other side 
Rebecca the lovely. 

As to the relative value of Miss Dearborn's ac- 
complishments, the decision must be left to the 
gentle reader ; but though it is certain that children 
should be properly grounded in mathematics, no 
heart of flesh could bear to hear Miss Dearborn's 
methods vilified who had seen her patting, pulling, 
squeezing Rebecca from ugliness into beauty. 

The young superintendent of district schools was 
a witness of the scene, and when later he noted the 
children surrounding Columbia as bees a honey- 
suckle, he observed to Dr. Moses: "She may not 
be much of a teacher, but I think she 'd be consid- 
erable of a wife!" and subsequent events proved 
that he meant what he said ! 



i6o 



THE STATE O' MAINE GIRL 

II 

Now all was ready ; the moment of fate was ab- 
solutely at hand ; the fife-and-drum corps led the 
way and the States followed ; but what actually 
happened Rebecca never knew ; she lived through 
the hours in a waking dream. Every little detail 
was a facet of light that reflected sparkles, and 
among them all she was fairly dazzled. The brass 
band played inspiring strains ; the mayor spoke 
eloquently on great themes ; the people cheered ; 
then the rope on which so much depended was put 
into the children's hands, they applied superhuman 
strength to their task, and the flag mounted, 
mounted, smoothly and slowly, and slowly unwound 
and stretched itself until its splendid size and 
beauty were revealed against the maples and pines 
and blue New England sky. 

Then after cheers upon cheers and after a patri- 
otic chorus by the church choirs, the State of Maine 
mounted the platform, vaguely conscious that she 
was to recite a poem, though for the life of her she 
could not remember a single word. 

" Speak up loud and clear, Rebecky," whispered 
Uncle Sam in the front row, but she could scarcely 
hear her own voice when, tremblingly, she began 
her first line. After that she gathered strength and 
the poem "said itself," while the dream went on. 

i6i 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

She saw Adam Ladd leaning against a tree ; Aunt 
Jane and Aunt Miranda palpitating with nervous- 
ness; Clara Belle Simpson gazing cross-eyed but 
adoring from a seat on the side ; and in the far, far 
distance, on the very outskirts of the crowd, a tall 
man standing in a wagon — a tall, loose-jointed 
man with red upturned mustaches, and a gaunt 
white horse headed toward the Acreville road. 

Loud applause greeted the State of Maine, the 
slender little white-clad figure standing on the mossy 
boulder that had been used as the centre of the 
platform. The sun came up from behind a great 
maple and shone full on the star-spangled banner, 
making it more dazzling than ever, so that its 
beauty drew all eyes upward. 

Abner Simpson lifted his vagrant shifting gaze 
to its softly fluttering folds and its splendid mass- 
ing of colors, thinking : — 

*' I don't know 's anybody 'd ought to steal a flag 
— the thunderin' idjuts seem to set such store by 
it, and what is it, anyway ? Nothin' but a sheet o* 
buntin' ! " 

Nothing but a sheet of bunting ^ He looked cu- 
riously at the rapt faces of the mothers, their babies 
asleep in their arms ; the parted lips and shining 
eyes of the white-clad girls ; at Cap'n Lord, who 
had been in Libby prison, and Nat Strout, who had 
left an arm at Bull Run ; at the friendly, jostling 

162 



THE STATE O' MAINE GIRL 

crowd of farmers, happy, eager, absorbed, their 
throats ready to burst with cheers. Then the 
breeze served, and he heard Rebecca's clear voice 
saying : — 

" For it 's your star, my star, all the stars together, 
That make our country's flag so proud 
To float in the bright fall weather ! " 

" Talk about stars ! She 's got a couple of *em 
right in her head," thought Simpson. ... **If I 
ever seen a young one like that lyin' on anybody's 
doorstep I 'd hook her quicker 'n a wink, though 
I *ve got plenty to home, the Lord knows ! And 
I would n't swap her off neither. . . . Spunky little 
creeter, too ; settin' up in the wagon lookin' 'bout 's 
big as a pint o' cider, but keepin' right after the 
goods! ... I vow I 'm 'bout sick o' my job! Never 
with the crowd, allers jest on the outside, *s if I 
wa'n't as good 's they be! If it paid well, mebbe I 
would n't mind, but they 're so thunderin' stingy 
round here, they don't leave anything decent out 
for you to take from 'em, yet you're reskin' your 
liberty 'n' reputation jest the same! . . . Countin' 
the poor pickin's 'n' the time I lose in jail I might 
most 's well be done with it 'n' work out by the day, 
as the folks want me to ; I'd make 'bout 's much, 
'n* I don' know's it would be any harder! " 

He could see Rebecca stepping down from the 
platform, while his own red-headed little girl stooq* 

163 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

up on her bench, waving her hat with one hand, her 
handkerchief with the other, and stamping with 
both feet. 

Now a man sitting beside the mayor rose from 
his chair and Abner heard him call : — 

** Three cheers for the women who made the 
flag!" 

*' Hip, hip, hurrah ! " 

** Three cheers for the State of Maine ! " 

" Hip, hip, hurrah ! " 

"Three cheers for the girl that saved the flag 
from the hands of the enemy ! " 

** Hip, hip, hurrah! Hip, hip, hurrah!^* 

It was the Edgewood minister, whose full, vibrant 
voice was of the sort to move a crowd. His words 
rang out into the clear air and were carried from 
lip to lip. Hands clapped, feet stamped, hats 
swung, while the loud huzzahs might almost have 
wakened the echoes on old Mount Ossipee. 

The tall, loose-jointed man sat down in the wagon 
suddenly and took up the reins. 

" They 're gettin' a little mite personal, and I guess 
it 's 'bout time for you to be goin', Simpson ! " 

The tone was jocular, but the red mustaches 
drooped, and the half-hearted cut he gave to start 
the white mare on her homeward journey showed 
that he was not in his usual devil-may-care mood. 

** Durn his skin i " he burst out in a vindictive 

164 , 



THE STATE O' MAINE GIRL 

undertone, as the mare swung into her long- gait. 
" It *s a lie ! I thought 't was somebody's wash ! I 
hain't an enemy ! " 

While the crowd at the raising dispersed in happy 
family groups to their picnics in the woods; while 
the Goddess of Liberty, Uncle Sam, Columbia, and 
the proud States lunched grandly in the Grange 
hall with distinguished guests and scarred veterans 
of two wars, the lonely man drove, and drove, and 
drove through silent woods and dull, sleepy vil- 
lages, never alighting to replenish his wardrobe 
or his stock of swapping material. 

At dusk he reached a miserable tumble-down 
house on the edge of a pond. 

The faithful wife with the sad mouth and the 
habitual look of anxiety in her faded eyes came to 
the door at the sound of wheels and went doggedly 
to the horse-shed to help him unharness. 

"You didn't expect to see me back to-night, did 
ye ? " he asked satirically ; " leastwise not with this 
same horse ? Well, I 'm here ! You need n't be 
scairt to look under the wagon-seat, there hain't 
nothin' there, not even my supper, so I hope you 're 
suited for once ! No, I guess I hain't goin' to be 
an angel right away, neither. There wa'n't nothin* 
but flags layin' roun' loose down Riverboro way, 'n* 
whatever they say, I hain't sech a hound as to steal 
a flag ! " 

i6s 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

It was natural that young Riverboro should have 
red, white, and blue dreams on the night after the 
new flag was raised. A stranger thing, perhaps, is 
the fact that Abner Simpson should lie down on 
his hard bed with the flutter of bunting before his 
eyes, and a whirl of unaccustomed words in his 
mind. 

" For it *s your star, my star, all our stars together." 

" I 'm sick of goin' it alone," he thought ; ** I 
guess I '11 try the other road for a spell; " and with 
that he fell asleep. 



Seventh Chronicle 
THE LITTLE PROPHET 

I 

I GUESS York County will never get red of 
that Simpson crew ! " exclaimed Miranda Saw- 
yer to Jane. " I thought when the family 
moved to Acreville we 'd seen the last of 'em, but 
we ain't ! The big, cross-eyed, stutterin' boy has 
got a place at the mills in Maplewood ; that 's near 
enough to come over to Riverboro once in a while 
of a Sunday mornin' and set in the meetin' house 
starin' at Rebecca same as he used to do, only it 's 
reskier now both of 'em are older. Then Mrs. Fogg 
must go and bring back the biggest girl to help her 
take care of her baby, — as if there wa'n't plenty of 
help nearer home ! Now I hear say that the young- 
est twin has come to stop the summer with the 
Games up to Edgewood Lower Gorner.'* 

" I thought two twins were always the same 
age," said Rebecca reflectively, as she came into 
the kitchen with the milk pail. 

" So they be," snapped Miranda, flushing and 
correcting herself. " But that pasty-faced Simpson 
twin looks younger and is smaller than the other 

167 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

one. He *s meek as Moses and the other one is as 
bold as a brass kettle ; I don't see how they come 
to be twins ; they ain't a mite alike." 

*' Elijah was always called the 'fighting twin* 
at school," said Rebecca, "and Elisha's otner name 
was Namby-Pamby ; but I think he 's a nice little 
boy, and I *m glad he has come back. He won't 
like living with Mr. Came, but he '11 be almost next 
door to the minister's, and Mrs. Baxter is sure to 
let him play in her garden." 

" I wonder why the boy 's stayin' with Cassius 
Came," said Jane. **To be sure they haven't got 
any of their own, but the child 's too young to be 
much use." 

"I know why," remarked Rebecca promptly, 
" for I heard all about it over to Watson's when I 
was getting the milk. Mr. Came traded something 
with Mr. Simpson two years ago and got the best 
of the bargain, and Uncle Jerry says he *s the 
only man that ever did, and he ought to have a 
monument put up to him. So Mr. Came owes 
Mr. Simpson money and won't pay it, and Mr. 
Simpson said he 'd send over a child and board 
part of it out, and take the rest in stock — a pig or 
a calf or something." 

" That 's all stuff and nonsense," exclaimed Mi- 
randa ; " nothin' in the world but store-talk. You 
git a clump o' men-folks settin* round Watson'? 

i68 



THE LITTLE PROPHET 

stove, or out on the bench at the door, an* they'll 
make up stories as fast as their tongues can wag. 
The man don't live that 's smart enough to cheat 
Abner Simpson in a trade, and who ever heard of 
anybody's owin' him money ? 'T ain't supposable 
that a woman like Mrs. Came would allow her hus- 
band to be in debt to a man like Abner Simpson. 
It 's a sight likelier that she heard that Mrs. Simp- 
son was ailin' and sent for the boy so as to help 
the family along. She always had Mrs. Simpson to 
wash for her once a month, if you remember, Jane .?" 

There are some facts so shrouded in obscurity 
that the most skillful and patient investigator can- 
not drag them into the light of day. There are 
also (but only occasionally) certain motives, acts, 
speeches, lines of conduct, that can never be wholly 
and satisfactorily explained, even in a village post- 
office or on the loafers' bench outside the tavern 
door. 

Cassius Came was a close man, close of mouth 
and close of purse ; and all that Riverboro ever 
knew as to the three months' visit of the Simpson 
twin was that it actually occurred. Elisha, other- 
wise Namby-Pamby, came ; Namby-Pamby stayed ; 
and Namby-Pamby, when he finally rejoined his 
own domestic circle, did not go empty-handed (so 
to speak), for he was accompanied on his home- 
ward travels by a large, red, bony, somewhat trucu* 

169 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

lent cow, who was tied on behind the wagon, and 
who made the journey a lively and eventful one by 
her total lack of desire to proceed over the road 
from Edgewood to Acreville. But that, the cow's 
tale, belongs to another time and place, and the 
coward's tale must come first ; for EUsha Simpson 
was held to be sadly lacking in the manly quality 
of courage. 

It was the new minister's wife who called Namby- 
Pamby the Little Prophet. His full name was Elisha 
Jeremiah Simpson, but one seldom heard it at full 
length, since, if he escaped the ignominy of Namby- 
Pamby, 'Lishe was quite enough for an urchin just 
in his first trousers and those assumed somewhat 
prematurely. He was " 'Lishe," therefore, to the 
village, but the Little Prophet to the young minis- 
ter's wife. 

Rebecca could see the Games' brown farmhouse 
from Mrs. Baxter's sitting-room window. The lit- 
tle-traveled road with strips of tufted green be- 
tween the wheel tracks curled dustily up to the 
very doorstep, and inside the screen door of pink 
mosquito netting was a wonderful drawn-in rug, 
shaped like a half pie, with "Welcome" in saffron 
letters on a green ground. 

Rebecca liked Mrs. Cassius Came, who was a 
friend of her Aunt Miranda's and one of the few 

170 



THE LITTLE PROPHET 

persons who exchanged calls with that somewhat 
unsociable lady. The Came farm was not a long 
walk from the brick house, for Rebecca could go 
across the fields when haying-time was over, and 
her delight at being sent on an errand in that di- 
rection could not be measured, now that the new 
minister and his wife had grown to be such a re- 
source in her life. She liked to see Mrs. Came 
shake the Welcome rug, flinging the cheery word 
out into the summer sunshine like a bright greeting 
to the day. She liked to see her go to the screen 
door a dozen times in a morning, open it a crack 
and chase an imaginary fly from the sacred pre- 
«:incts within. She liked to see her come up the 
cellar steps into the side garden, appearing mys- 
teriously as from the bowels of the earth, carrying 
a shining pan of milk in both hands, and disappear- 
ing through the beds of hollyhocks and sunflowers 
to the pig-pen or the hen-house. 

Rebecca was not fond of Mr. Came, and neither 
was Mrs. Baxter, nor Elisha, for that matter; in 
fact Mr. Came was rather a difficult person to 
grow fond of, with his fiery red beard, his freckled 
skin, and his gruff way of speaking ; for there were 
no children in the brown house to smooth the 
creases from his forehead or the roughness from 
his voice. 



i/i 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

II 

The new minister's wife was sitting under the 
shade of her great maple early one morning, when 
she first saw the Little Prophet. A tiny figure came 
down the grass-grown road leading a cow by a rope. 
If it had been a small boy and a small cow, a mid- 
dle-sized boy and an ordinary cow, or a grown man 
and a big cow, she might not have noticed them ; 
but it was the combination of an infinitesimal boy 
and a huge cow that attracted her attention. She 
could not guess the child's years, she only knew 
that he was small for his age, whatever it was. 

The cow was a dark red beast with a crumpled 
horn, a white star on her forehead, and a large sur- 
prised sort of eye. She had, of course, two eyes, 
and both were surprised, but the left one had an 
added hint of amazement in it by virtue of a few 
white hairs lurking accidentally in the centre of 
the eyebrow. 

The boy had a thin sensitive face and curly brown 
hair, short trousers patched on both knees, and a 
ragged straw hat on the back of his head. He pat- 
tered along behind the cow, sometimes holding the 
rope with both hands, and getting over the ground 
in a jerky way, as the animal left him no time to 
think of a smooth path for bare feet. 

The Came pasture was a good half-mile distant, 

172 



THE LITTLE PROPHET 

and the cow seemed in no hurry to reach it ; ac- 
cordingly she forsook the road now and then, and 
rambled in the hollows, where the grass was sweeter 
to her way of thinking. She started on one of these 
exploring expeditions just as she passed the minis- 
ter's great maple, and gave Mrs. Baxter time to call 
out to the little fellow, " Is that your cow ? " 

Elisha blushed and smiled, and tried to speak 
modestly, but there was a quiver of pride in his 
voice as he answered suggestively : — . 

" It 's — nearly my cow." 

" How is that .? " asked Mrs. Baxter. 

** Why, Mr. Came says when I drive her twenty- 
nine more times to pasture 'thout her gettin' her 
foot over the rope or 'thout my bein' afraid, she 's 
goin' to be my truly cow. Are you 'fraid of 
cows } '• 

" Ye-e-es," Mrs. Baxter confessed, " I am, just a 
little. You see, I am nothing but a woman, and 
boys can't understand how we feel about cows." 

"I can ! They 're awful big things, aren't they ?" 

"Perfectly enormous ! I 've always thought a 
cow coming towards you one of the biggest things 
in the world." 

" Yes ; me, too. Don't let 's think about it. Do 
they hook people so very often ? " 

" No indeed, in fact one scarcely ever hears of 
such 51 case." 

173 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

** If they stepped on your bare foot they *d 
scrunch it, would n't they ? " 

" Yes, but you are the driver ; you must n't let 
them do that ; you are a free-will boy, and they are 
nothing but cows." 

" I know ; but p'r'aps there is free-will cows, 
and if they just would do it you could n't help being 
scrunched, for you must n't let go of the rope nor 
run, Mr. Came says." 

"No, of course that would never do." 

"Where you used to live did all the cows go 
down into the boggy places when you drove 'em 
to pasture, or did some walk in the road t " 

" There were n't any cows or any pastures where 
I used to live ; that *s what makes me so foolish ; 
why does your cow need a rope t " 

" She don't like to go to pasture, Mr. Came says. 
Sometimes she 'd druther stay to home, and so 
when she gets part way she turns round and comes 
backwards." 

"Dear me!" thought Mrs. Baxter, "what be- 
comes of this boy-mite if the cow has a spell of 
going backwards.'* — Do you like to drive her.-*" 
she asked. 

" N-no, not erzackly ; but, you see, it *11 be my 
cow if I drive her twenty-nine more times 'thout 
her gettin' her foot over the rope and 'thout my 
bein* afraid," and a beaming smile gave a transient 

174 



THE LITTLE PROPHET 

brightness to his harassed little face. "Will she 
feed in the ditch much longer?" he asked. " Shall 
I say 'Hurrap'? That's what Mr. Came says — 
* Hicrrap !' like that, and it means to hurry up." 

It was rather a feeble warning that he sounded, 
and the cow fed on peacefully. The little fellow 
looked up at the minister's wife confidingly, and 
then glanced back at the farm to see if Cassius 
Came were watching the progress of events. 

" What shall we do next .? " he asked. 

Mrs. Baxter delighted in that warm, cosy little 
" we ; " it took her into the firm so pleasantly. She 
was a weak prop indeed when it came to cows, but 
all the courage in her soul rose to arms when Elisha 
said, "What shall we do next .'*" She became alert, 
ingenious, strong, on the instant. 

"What is the cow's name .-^ " she asked, sitting 
up straight in the swing-chair. 

" Buttercup ; but she don't seem to know it very 
well. She ain't a mite like a buttercup." 

" Never mind ; you must shout * Buttercup ! ' at 
the top of your voice, and twitch the rope hard ; 
then I '11 call, * Hurrap 1 ' with all my might at the 
same moment. And if she starts quickly we must n't 
run nor seem frightened ! " 

They did this ; it worked to a charm, and Mrs. 
Baxter looked affectionately after her Little Pro- 
phet as the cow pulled him down Tory Hill. 

175 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

The lovely August days wore on. Rebecca was 
often at the parsonage and saw Elisha frequently, but 
Buttercup was seldom present at their interviews, 
as the boy now drove her to the pasture very early 
in the morning, the journey thither being one of 
considerable length and her method of reaching the 
goal being exceedingly roundabout. 

Mr. Came had pointed out the necessity of get- 
ting her into the pasture at least a few minutes 
before she had to be taken out again at night, and 
though Rebecca did n't like Mr. Came, she saw 
the common sense of this remark. Sometimes Mrs. 
Baxter and Rebecca caught a glimpse of the two at 
sundown, as they returned from the pasture to the 
twilight milking, Buttercup chewing her peaceful 
cud, her soft white bag of milk hanging full, her 
surprised eye rolling in its accustomed " fine 
frenzy." The frenzied roll did not mean anything, 
they used to assure Elisha ; but if it did n't, it was 
an awful pity she had to do it, Rebecca thought ; 
and Mrs. Baxter agreed. To have an expression of 
eye that meant murder, and yet to be a perfectly 
virtuous and well-meaning animal, this was a 
calamity indeed. 

Mrs. Baxter was looking at the sun one evening 
as it dropped like a ball of red fire into Wilkins's 
Woods, when the Little Prophet passed, 

*' It 's the twenty-ninth night," he called joyously. 

176 



THE LITTLE PROPHET 

" I am so glad," she answered, for she had often 
feared some accident might prevent his claiming 
the promised reward. ** Then to-morrow Buttercup 
will be your own cow ? " 

** I guess so. That 's what Mr. Came said. He 's 
off to Acreville now, but he '11 be home to-night, 
and father's going to send my new hat by him. 
When Buttercup's my own cow I wish I could 
change her name and call her Red Rover, but 
p'r'aps her mother wouldn't like it. When she 
b'longs to me, mebbe I won't be so 'fraid of gettin' 
hooked and scrunched, because she '11 know she 's 
mine, and she *11 go better. I haven't let her get 
snarled up in the rope one single time, and I don't 
show I 'm afraid, do I .^ " 

" I should never suspect it for an instant," said 
Mrs. Baxter encouragingly. " I 've often envied you 
your bold, brave look ! " 

Elisha appeared distinctly pleased. " I have n't 
cried, either, when she 's dragged me over the pas- 
ture bars and peeled my legs. Bill Peters's little 
brother Charlie says he ain't afraid *of anything, 
not even bears. He says he would walk right up 
close and cuff 'em if they dared to yip ; but I ain't 
like that ! He ain't scared of elephants or tigers 
or lions either; he says they're all the same as 
frogs or chickens to him ! " 

Rebecca told her Aunt Miranda that evening 

177 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

that it was the Prophet's twenty-ninth night, and 
that the big red cow was to be his on the morrow. 
"Well, I hope it'll turn out that way," she said. 
**But I ain't a mite sure that Cassius Came will 
give up that cow when it comes to the point. It 
won't be the first time he 's tried to crawl out of a 
bargain with folks a good deal bigger than 'Lisha, 
for he *s terrible close, Cassius is. To be sure he *s 
stiff in his joints and he's glad enough to have a 
boy to take the cow to the pasture in summer-time, 
but he always has hired help when it comes har- 
vestin'. So 'Lisha '11 be no use from this on ; and 
I dare say the cow is Abner Simpson's anyway. 
If you want a walk to-night, I wish you 'd go up 
there and ask Mis' Came if she'll lend me an' your 
Aunt Jane half her yeast-cake. Tell her we '11 pay 
•it back when we get ours a Saturday. Don't you 
want to take Thirza Meserve with you ? She *s 
alone as usual while Huldy *s entertainin* beaux on 
the side porch. Don't stay too long at the parson- 
age 



I" 



III 

Rebecca was used to this sort of errand, for the 
whole village of Riverboro would sometimes be 
rocked to the very centre of it^* being by simulta- 
neous desire for a yeast-cake. As the nearest re 
pository was a mile and a half distant, as the yeast 

178 



THE LITTLE PROPHET 

cake was valued at two cents and would n't keep, 
as the demand was uncertain, being dependent en- 
tirely on a fluctuating desire for *'riz bread," the 
storekeeper refused to order more than three yeast- 
cakes a day at his own risk. Sometimes they re- 
mained on his hands a dead loss ; sometimes eight 
or ten persons would "hitch up" and drive from 
distant farms for the coveted article, only to be 
met with the fiat, " No, I 'm all out o* yeast-cake ; 
Mis* Simmons took the last ; mebbe you can borry 
half o' hern, she hain't much of a bread-eater." 

So Rebecca chmbed the hills to Mrs. Game's, 
knowing that her daily bread depended on the 
successful issue of the call. 

Thirza was barefooted, and tough as her little 
feet were, the long walk over the stubble fields 
tired her. When they came within sight of the 
Came barn, she coaxed Rebecca to take a short 
cut through the turnips growing in long, beautifully 
weeded rows. 

" You know Mr. Came is awfully cross, Thirza, 
and can't bear anybody to tread on his crops or 
touch a tree or a bush that belongs to him. I 'm 
kind of afraid, but come along and mind you step 
softly in between the rows and hold up your petti- 
coat, so you can't possibly touch the turnip plants. 
I '11 do the same. Skip along fast, because then we 
won't leave any deep footprints." 

179 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

The children passed safely and noiselessly along", 
their pleasure a trifle enhanced by the felt dangers 
of their progress. Rebecca knew that they were 
doing no harm, but that did not prevent her hoping 
to escape the gimlet eye of Mr. Came. 

As they neared the outer edge of the turnip 
patch they paused suddenly, petticoats in air. 

A great clump of elderberry bushes hid them 
from the barn, but from the other side of the clump 
came the sound of conversation : the timid voice 
of the Little Prophet and the gruff tones of Cas- 
sius Came. 

Rebecca was afraid to interrupt, and too honest 
to wish to overhear. She could only hope the man 
and the boy would pass on to the house as they 
talked, so she motioned to the paralyzed Thirza to 
take two more steps and stand with her behind the 
elderberry bushes. But no ! in a moment they 
heard Mr. Came drag a stool over beside the grind- 
stone as he said : — 

"Well, now, Elisha Jeremiah, we'll talk about 
the red cow. You say you've drove her a month, 
do ye ? And the trade between us was that if you 
could drive her a month, without her getting the 
rope over her foot and without bein' afraid, you was 
to have her. That *s straight, ain't it ? " 

The Prophet's face burned with excitement, his 
gingham shirt rose and fell as if he were breathing 

1 80 



THE LITTLE PROPHET 

hard, but he only nodded assent and said no- 
thing. 

"Now," continued Mr. Came, "have you made 
out to keep the rope from under her feet ? '* 

" She ain't got t-t-tangled up one s-single time,** 
said Elisha, stuttering in his excitement, but 
looking up with some courage from his bare 
toes, with which he was assiduously threading the 
grass. 

" So far, so good. Now 'bout bein' afraid. As you 
seem so certain of gettin' the cow, I suppose you 
hain't been a speck scared, hev you ? Honor bright, 
now ! " 

" I — I — not but just a little mite. I " — 

" Hold up a minute. Of course you did n't say 
you was afraid, and did n't s/iow you was afraid, and 
nobody knew you was afraid, but that ain't the way 
we fixed it up. You was to call the cow your 'n if 
you could drive her to the pasture for a month 
without dezn afraid. Own up square now, hev you 
be'n afraid } " 

A long pause, then a faint, "Yes." 

" Where 's your manners ? " 

" I mean yes, sir." 

" How often .? If it hain't be'n too many times 
mebbe I '11 let ye off, though you 're a reg'lar girl- 
boy, and '11 be runnin' away from the cat bimeby. 
Has it be'n — twice ?" 

i8i 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

" Yes," and the Little Prophet's voice was very 
faint now, and had a decided tear in it. 

" Yes what ? " 

" Yes, sir." 

" Has it be'n four times ? " 

*' Y-es, sir." More heaving of the gingham shirt. 

'* Well, you atr a thunderin' coward ! How many 
times ? Speak up now." 

More digging of the bare toes in the earth, and 
one premonitory tear drop stealing from under the 
downcast lids, then, — 

" A little, most every day, and you can keep the 
cow," wailed the Prophet, as he turned abruptly 
and fled behind the shed, where he flung himself 
into the green depths of a tansy bed, and gave 
himself up to unmanly sobs. 

Cassius Came gave a sort of shamefaced guffaw 
at the abrupt departure of the boy, and went on 
into the house, while Rebecca and Thirza made a 
stealthy circuit of the barn and a polite and circum- 
spect entrance through the parsonage front gate. 

Rebecca told the minister's wife what she could 
remember of the interview between Cassius Came 
and Elisha Simpson, and tender-hearted Mrs. Bax- 
ter longed to seek and comfort her Little Prophet 
sobbing in the tansy bed, the brand of coward on 
his forehead, and what was much worse, the fear. 
in his heart that he deserved it. 

182 



THE LITTLE PROPHET 

Rebecca could hardly be prevented from beard- 
ing Mr. Came and openly espousing the cause of 
Elisha, for she was an impetuous, reckless, valiant 
creature when a weaker vessel was attacked or 
threatened unjustly. 

Mrs. Baxter acknowledged that Mr. Came had 
been true, in a way, to his word and bargain, but 
she confessed that she had never heard of so cruel 
and hard a bargain since the days of Shylock, 
and it was all the worse for being made with a 
child. 

Rebecca hurried home, her visit quite spoiled 
and her errand quite forgotten till she reached the 
brick-house door, where she told her aunts, with 
her customary picturesqueness of speech, that she 
would rather eat buttermilk bread till she died than 
partake of food mixed with one of Mr. Came's yeast- 
cakes ; that it would choke her, even in the shape 
of good raised bread. 

" That 's all very fine, Rebecky," said her Aunt 
Miranda, who had a pin-prick for almost every 
bubble ; " but don't forget there 's two other 
mouths to feed in this house, and you might at 
least give your aunt and me the privilege of chokin 
if we feel to want to ! '* 



:_» 



183 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

IV 

Mrs. Baxter finally heard from Mrs. Came, 
through whom all information was sure to filter 
if you gave it time, that her husband despised 
a coward, that he considered Elisha a regular 
mother's-apron-string boy, and that he was " learn- 
in' " him to be brave. 

Bill Peters, the hired man, now drove Buttercup 
to pasture, though whenever Mr. Came went to 
Moderation or Bonnie Eagle, as he often did, Mrs. 
Baxter noticed that Elisha took the hired man's 
place. She often joined him on these anxious ex- 
peditions, and, a like terror in both their souls, they 
attempted to train the red cow and give her some 
idea of obedience. 

" If she only would n't look at us that way we 
would get along real nicely with her, wouldn't 
we?" prattled the Prophet, straggling along by 
her side; "and she is a splendid cow; she gives 
twenty-one quarts a day, and Mr. Came says it 's 
more 'n half cream." 

The minister's wife assented to all this, thinking 
that if Buttercup would give up her habit of turn* 
ing completely round in the road to roll her eyes 
and elevate her white-tipped eyebrow, she might 
indeed be an enjoyable companion ; but in her 
present state of development her society was not 

184 



THE LITTLE PROPHET 

agreeable, even did she give sixty-one quarts of 
milk a day. Furthermore, when Mrs. Baxter dis- 
covered that she never did any of these reprehen- 
sible things with Bill Peters, she began to believe 
cows more intelligent creatures than she had sup- 
posed them to be, and she was indignant to think 
Buttercup could count so confidently on the weak- 
ness of a small boy and a timid woman. 

One evening, when Buttercup was more than 
usually exasperating, Mrs. Baxter said to the 
Prophet, who was bracing himself to keep from 
being pulled into a wayside brook where Buttercup 
loved to dabble, " Elisha, do you know anything 
about the superiority of mind over matter ? " 

No, he did n't, though it was not a fair time to 
ask the question, for he had sat down in the road 
to get a better purchase on the rope. 

" Well, it does n't signify. What I mean is that 
we can die but once, and it is a glorious thing to 
die for a great principle. Give me that rope. I 
can pull like an ox in my present frame of mind. 
You run down on the opposite side of the brook, 
take that big stick, wade right in, — you are bare- 
footed, — brandish the stick, and, if necessary, do 
more than brandish. I would go myself, but it is 
better she should recognize you as her master, and 
I am in as much danger as you are, anyway. She 
may try to hook you, of course, but you must keep 

I8S 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

waving the stick, — die brandishing, Prophet, that 's 
the idea ! She may turn and run for me, in which 
case I shall run too ; but I shall die running, and 
the minister can burv us under our favorite sweet- 
apple tree ! " 

The Prophet's soul was fired by the lovely lady's 
eloquence. Their spirits mounted simultaneously, 
and they were flushed with a splendid courage in 
which death looked a mean and paltry thing com- 
pared with vanquishing that cow. She had already 
stepped into the pool, but the Prophet waded in 
towards her, moving the alder branch menacingly. 
She looked up with the familiar roll of the eye 
that had done her such good service all summer, 
but she quailed beneath the stern justice and the 
new valor of the Prophet's gaze. 

In that moment perhaps she felt ashamed of the 
misery she had caused the helpless mite. At any 
rate, actuated by fear, surprise, or remorse, she 
turned and walked back into the road without a 
sign of passion or indignation, leaving the boy and 
the lady rather disappointed at their easy victory. 
To be prepared for a violent death and receive 
not even a scratch made them fear that they might 
possibly have overeatimated the danger. 

They were better friends than ever after that, 
the young minister's wife and the forlorn little boy 
from Acreville, sent away from home he knew not 

1 86 



THE LITTLE PROPHET 

why, unless it were that there was little to eat 
there and considerably more at the Cash Games', as 
they were called in Edge wood. Cassius was famil- 
iarly known as Uncle Cash, partly because there 
was a disposition in Edgewood to abbreviate all 
Christian names, and partly because the old man 
paid cash, and expected to be paid cash, for every- 
thing. 

The late summer grew into autumn, and the 
minister's great maple flung a flaming bough of 
scarlet over Mrs. Baxter's swing-chair. Uncle Cash 
found Elisha very useful at picking up potatoes 
and apples, but the boy was going back to his 
family as soon as the harvesting was over. 

One Friday evening Mrs. Baxter and Rebecca, 
wrapped in shawls and " fascinators," were sitting 
on Mrs. Came's front steps enjoying the sunset. 
Rebecca was in a tremulous state of happiness, for 
she had come directly from the Seminary at Ware- 
ham to the parsonage, and as the minister was 
absent at a church conference, she was to stay the 
night with Mrs. Baxter and go with her to Portland 
next day. 

They were to go to the Islands, have ice cream 
for luncheon, ride on a horse-car, and walk by the 
Longfellow house, a programme that so unsettled 
Rebecca's never very steady mind that she radiated 
flashes and sparkles of joy, making Mrs. Baxter 

187 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

wonder if flesh could be translucent, enabling the 
spirit-fires within to shine through ? 

Buttercup was being milked on the grassy slope 
near the shed door. As she walked to the barn, 
after giving up her pailfuls of yellow milk, she 
bent her neck and snatched a hasty bite from a 
pile of turnips lying temptingly near. In her haste 
she took more of a mouthful than would be consid- 
ered good manners even among cows, and as she 
disappeared in the barn door they could see a forest 
of green tops hanging from her mouth, while she 
painfully attempted to grind up the mass of stolen 
material without allowing a single turnip to escape. 

It grew dark soon afterward and they went into 
the house to see Mrs. Game's new lamp lighted for 
the first time, to examine her last drawn-in rug 
(a wonderful achievement produced entirely from 
dyed flannel petticoats), and to hear the doctor's 
wife play " Oft in the Stilly Night," on the dul- 
cimer. 

As they closed the sitting-room door opening on 
the piazza facing the barn, the women heard the cow 
coughing and said to one another: ** Buttercup was 
too greedy, and now she has indigestion." 

Elisha always went to bed at sundown, and 
Uncle Cash had gone to the doctor's to have his 
hand dressed, for he had hurt it in some way in the 
threshing-machine. Bill Peters, the hired man, cam6> 

1 88 



THE LITTLE PROPHET 

in presently and asked for him, saying that the 
cow coughed more and more, and it must be thaV 
something was wrong, but he could not get her to 
open her mouth wide enough for him to see any- 
thing. "She'd up an' die ruther 'n obleege any- 
body, that tarnal ugly cow would ! " he said. 

When Uncle Cash had driven into the yard, he 
came in for a lantern, and went directly out to the 
barn. After a half-hour or so, in which the little 
party had forgotten the whole occurrence, he came 



m agam. 



" I 'm blamed if we ain't goin' to lose that cow," 
he said. " Come out, will ye, Hannah, and hold the 
lantern } I can't do anything with my right hand 
in a sling, and Bill is the stupidest critter in the 
country." 

Everybody went out to the bam accordingly, 
except the doctor's wife, who ran over to her house 
to see if her brother Moses had come home from 
Milltown, and could come and take a hand in the 
exercises. 

Buttercup was in a bad way ; there was no doubt 
of it. Something, one of the turnips, presumably, 
had lodged in her throat, and would move neither 
way, despite her attempts to dislodge it. Hei 
breathing was labored, and her eyes bloodshot from 
straining and choking. Once or twice they suc- 
ceeded in getting her mouth partly open, but before 

189 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

they could fairly discover the cause of trouble she 
had wrested her head away. 

*' I can see a little tuft of green sticking straight 
up in the middle," said Uncle Cash, while Bill 
Peters and Moses held a lantern on each side of 
Buttercup's head; "but, land! it's so far down, 
and such a mite of a thing, I could n't git it, even 
if I could use my right hand. S'pose you try, 
Bill." 

Bill hemmed and hawed, and confessed he did n't 
care to try. Buttercup's grinders were of good size 
and excellent quality, and he had no fancy for 
leaving his hand within her jaws. He said he was 
no good at that kind of work, but that he would 
help Uncle Cash hold the cow's head ; that was 
just as necessary, and considerable safer. 

Moses was more inclined to the service of hu- 
manity, and did his best, wrapping his wrist in a 
cloth, and making desperate but ineffectual dabs 
at the slippery green turnip-tops in the reluctantly 
opened throat. But the cow tossed her head and 
stamped her feet and switched her tail and wriggled 
from under Bill's hands, so that it seemed alto- 
gether impossible to reach the seat of the trouble. 

Uncle Cash was in despair, fuming and fretting 
the more because of his own crippled hand. 

"Hitch up, Bill," he said, "and, Hannah, you 
drive over to Milliken's Mills for the horse-doctor- 

IQO 



THE LITTLE PROPHET 

I know we can git out that turnip if we can hit on 
the right tools and somebody to manage 'em right ; 
but we 've got to be quick about it or the critter '11 
choke to death, sure ! Your hand 's so clumsy, 
Mose, she thinks her time 's come when she feels 
it in her mouth, and your fingers are so big you 
can't ketch holt o' that green stuff 'thout its slip- 
pin'!" 

" Mine ain't big ; let me try," said a timid voice, 
and turning round, they saw little Elisha Simpson, 
his trousers pulled on over his night-shirt, his curly 
hair ruffled, his eyes vague with sleep. 

Uncle Cash gave a laugh of good-humored de- 
rision. " You — that 's afraid to drive a cow to pas- 
ture ? No, sir ; you hain't got sand enough for this 
job, I guess ! " 

Buttercup just then gave a worse cough than 
ever, and her eyes rolled in her head as if she were 
giving up the ghost. 

" I 'd rather do it than see her choke to death ! " 
cried the boy, in despair. 

** Then, by ginger, you can try it, sonny ! " said 
Uncle Cash. " Now this time we '11 tie her head 
up. Take it slow, and make a good job of it." 

Accordingly they pried poor Buttercup's jaws 
open to put a wooden gag between them, tied her 
head up, and kept her as still as they could, while 
the women held the lanterns. 

191 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

" Now, sonny, strip up your sleeve and reach as 
fur down 's you can ! Wind your little fingers in 
among that green stuff stickin' up there that ain't 
hardly big enough to call green stuff, give it a twist, 
and pull for all you 're worth. Land ! what a skinny 
little pipe stem ! " 

The Little Prophet had stripped up his sleeve. 
It was a slender thing, his arm ; but he had driven 
the red cow all summer, borne her tantrums, pro- 
tected her from the consequences of her own obsti- 
nacy, taking (as he thought) a future owner's pride 
in her splendid flow of milk — grown fond of her, 
in a word, and now she was choking to death. A 
skinny little pipe stem is capable of a deal at such 
a time, and only a slender hand and arm could have 
done the work. 

Elisha trembled with nervousness, but he made 
a dexterous and dashing entrance into the awful 
cavern of Buttercup's mouth ; descended upon the 
tiny clump of green spills or spikes, wound his little 
fingers in among them as firmly as he could, and 
then gave a long, steady, determined pull with all 
the strength in his body. That was not so much 
in itself, to be sure, but he borrowed a good deal 
more from some reserve quarter, the location of 
which nobody knows anything about, but upon 
which everybody draws in time of need. 

Such a valiant pull you would never have expected 

192 



THE LITTLE PROPHET 

of the Little Prophet. Such a pull it was that, to 
his own utter amazement, he suddenly found him- 
self lying flat on his back on the barn floor with a 
very slippery something in his hand, and a fair- 
sized but rather dilapidated turnip at the end of it. 

" That 's the business ! " cried Moses. 

" I could 'a' done it as easy as nothin' if my arm 
had been a leetle mite smaller," said Bill Peters. 

"You're a trump, sonny!" exclaimed Uncle 
Cash, as he helped Moses untie Buttercup's head 
and took the gag out. 

" You 're a trump, 'Lisha, and, by ginger, the 
cow 's your 'n ; only don't you let your blessed pa 
drink none of her cream ! " 

The welcome air rushed into Buttercup's lungs 
and cooled her parched, torn throat. She was pretty 
nearly spent, poor thing, and bent her head (rather 
gently for her) over the Little Prophet's shoulder 
as he threw his arms joyfully about her neck, and 
whispered, " You 're my truly cow now, ain't you. 
Buttercup ? " 

" Mrs. Baxter, dear," said Rebecca, as they walked 
home to the parsonage together under the young 
harvest moon; "there are all sorts of cowards, 
are n't there, and don't you think Elisha is one of 
the best kind." 

" I don't quite know what to think about cowards, 
Rebecca Rowena," said the minister's wife hesitat- 

193 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

ingly. "The Little Prophet is the third coward I 
have known in my short life who turned out to be 
a hero when the real testing time came. Meanwhile 
the heroes themselves — or the ones that were 
taken for heroes — were always busy doing some- 
thing, or being somewhere, else." 



Eighth Chronicle 
ABNER SIMPSON'S NEW LEAF 



REBECCA had now cut the bonds that 
bound her to the Riverboro district school, 
and had been for a week a full-fledged pu- 
pil at the Wareham Seminary, towards which goal 
she had been speeding ever since the memorable 
day when she rode into Riverboro on the top of 
Uncle Jerry Cobb's stagecoach, and told him that 
education was intended to be " the making of her.'* 
She went to and fro, with Emma Jane and the 
other Riverboro boys and girls, on the morning and 
evening trains that ran between the academy town 
and Milliken's Mills. 

The six days had passed like a dream ! — a dream 
in which she sat in corners with her eyes cast down ; 
flushed whenever she was addressed ; stammered 
whenever she answered a question, and nearly died 
of heart failure when subjected to an examination 
of any sort. She delighted the committee when 
reading at sight from "King Lear," but somewhat 
discouraged them when she could not tell the capi- 
tal of the United States. She admitted that her 

195 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

former teacher, Miss Dearborn, might have men- 
tioned it, but if so she had not remembered it. 

In these first weeks among strangers she passed 
for nothing but an interesting-looking, timid, inno- 
cent, country child, never revealing, even to the 
far-seeing Emily Maxwell, a hint of her originality, 
facility, or power in any direction. Rebecca was 
fourteen, but so slight, and under the paralyzing 
new conditions so shy, that she would have been 
mistaken for twelve had it not been for her gen- 
eral advancement in the school curriculum. 

Growing up in the solitude of a remote farm- 
house, transplanted to a tiny village where she lived 
with two elderly spinsters, she was still the veriest 
child in all but the practical duties and responsibili- 
ties of life ; in those she had long been a woman. 

It was Saturday afternoon ; her lessons for Mon- 
day were all learned and she burst into the brick- 
house sitting-room with the flushed face and em- 
barrassed mien that always foreshadowed a request. 
Requests were more commonly answered in the 
negative than in the affirmative at the brick house, 
a fact that accounted for the slight confusion in 
her demeanor. 

"Aunt Miranda," she began, ''the fishman says 
that Clara Belle Simpson wants to see me very 
much, but Mrs. Fogg can't spare her long at a 
time, you know, on account of the baby being no 

196 



ABNER SIMPSON'S NEW LEAF 

better; but Clara Belle could walk a mile up, and 
I a mile down the road, and we could meet at the 
pink house half way. Then we could rest and talk 
an hour or so, and both be back in time for our 
suppers. I 've fed the cat ; she had no appetite, as 
it 's only two o'clock and she had her dinner at 
noon, but she '11 go back to her saucer, and it *s off 
my mind. I could go down cellar now and bring up 
the cookies and the pie and doughnuts for supper 
before I start. Aunt Jane saw no objection ; but 
we thought I 'd better ask you so as to run no 
risks." 

Miranda Sawyer, who had been patiently waiting 
for the end of this speech, laid down her knitting 
and raised her eyes with a half-resigned expression 
that meant : Is there anything unusual in heaven 
or earth or the waters under the earth that this 
child does not want to do ? Will she ever settle 
down to plain, comprehensible Sawyer ways, or will 
she to the end make these sudden and radical pro- 
positions, suggesting at every turn the irresponsi- 
ble Randall ancestry } 

" You know well enough, Rebecca, that I don't 
like you to be intimate with Abner Simpson's 
young ones," she said decisively. " They ain't fit 
company for anybody that 's got Sawyer blood in 
their veins, if it 's ever so little. I don't know, I 'm 
sure, how you 're goin* to turn out ! The fish peddler 

197 



NEW CFIRONICLES OF REBECCA 

seems to be your best friend, without it 's Abijah 
Flagg that you 're everlastingly talkin' to lately. I 
should think you'd rather read some improvin' book 
than to be chatterin' with Squire Bean's chore-boy ! " 

" He is n't always going to be a chore-boy," ex- 
plained Rebecca, ** and that 's what we 're consider- 
ing. It 's his career we talk about, and he has n't 
got any father or mother to advise him. Besides, 
Clara Belle kind of belongs to the village now that 
she lives with Mrs. Fogg ; and she was always the 
best behaved of all the girls, either in school or 
Sunday-school. Children can't help having fa- 
thers ! " 

"Everybody says Abner is turning over a new 
leaf, and if so, the family 'd ought to be encouraged 
every possible way," said Miss Jane, entering the 
room with her mending basket in hand. 

" If Abner Simpson is turnin' over a leaf, or any- 
thin' else in creation, it 's only to see what *s on the 
under side ! " remarked Miss Miranda promptly. 
"Don't talk to me about new leaves ! You can't 
change that kind of a man ; he is what he is, and 
you can't make him no different ! " 

" The grace of God can do consid'rable," ob- 
served Jane piously. 

" I ain't sayin' but it can if it sets out, but it has 
to begin early and stay late on a man like Simp- 



son." 



198 



ABNER SIMPSON'S NEW LEAF 

"Now, Mirandy, Abncr ain't more 'n forty! I 
don't know what the average age for repentance 
is in men-folks, but when you think of what an 
awful sight of 'em leaves it to their deathbeds, 
forty seems real kind of young. Not that I 've 
heard Abner has experienced religion, but every- 
body 's surprised at the good way he 's conductin* 
this fall." 

" They '11 be surprised the other way round when 
they come to miss their firewood and apples and 
potatoes again," affirmed Miranda. 

" Clara Belle don't seem to have inherited from 
her father," Jane ventured again timidly. "No 
wonder Mrs. Fogg sets such store by the girl. If 
it had n't been for her, the baby would have been 
dead by now." 

" Perhaps try in' to save it was interferin' with 
the Lord's will," was Miranda's retort. 

" Folks can't stop to figure out just what 's the 
Lord's will when a child has upset a kettle of 
scalding water on to himself," and as she spoke Jane 
darned more excitedly. " Mrs. Fogg knows well 
enough she had n't ought to have left that baby 
alone in the kitchen with the stove, even if she did 
see Clara Belle comin' across lots. She 'd ought to 
have waited before drivin' off ; but of course she 
was afraid of missing the train, and she 's too good 
a woman to be held accountable," 

799 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

"The minister's wife says Clara Belle is a real — 
I can't think of the word ! " chimed in Rebecca. 
** What 's the female of hero ? Whatever it is, that *s 
what Mrs. Baxter called her ! " 

" Clara Belle 's the female of Simpson ; that 's 
what she is," Miss Miranda asserted : " but she 's 
been brought up to use her wits, and I ain't sayin* 
but she used 'em." 

" I should say she did ! " exclaimed Miss Jane ; 
"to put that screaming, suffering child in the 
baby-carriage and run all the way to the doctor's 
when there was n't a soul on hand to advise her ! 
Two or three more such actions would make the 
Simpson name sound consid'rable sweeter in this 
neighborhood." 

"Simpson will always sound like Simpson to 
me ! " vouchsafed the elder sister, " but we 've talked 
enough about 'em an* to spare. You can go along, 
Rebecca ; but remember that a child is known by 
the company she keeps." 

"All right. Aunt Miranda; thank you!" cried 
Rebecca, leaping from the chair on which she had 
been twisting nervously for five minutes. " And 
how does this strike you } Would you be in favor 
of my taking Clara Belle a company-tart ? " 

" Don't Mrs. Fogg feed the young one, now she 's 
taken her right into the family ? " 

**0h, yes," Rebecca answered, "she has lovely 

200 



ABNER SIMPSON'S NEW LEAF 

things to eat, and Mrs. Fogg won't even let her 
drink skim milk ; but I always feel that taking a 
present lets the person know you 've been thinking 
about them and are extra glad to see them. Besides, 
unless we have company soon, those tarts will have 
to be eaten by the family, and a new batch made ; 
you remember the one I had when I was rewarding 
myself last week ? That was queer — but nice," 
she added hastily. 

" Mebbe you could think of something of your 
own you could give away without taking my tarts ! " 
responded Miranda tersely ; the joints of her armor 
having been pierced by the fatally keen tongue of 
her niece, who had insinuated that company-tarts 
lasted a long time in the brick house. This was a 
fact ; indeed, the company-tart was so named, not 
from any idea that it would ever be eaten by guests, 
but because it was too good for every-day use. 

Rebecca's face crimsoned with shame that she 
had drifted into an impolite and, what was worse, 
an apparently ungrateful speech. 

" I did n't mean jo say anything not nice, Aunt 
Miranda," she stammered. "Truly the tart was 
splendid, but not exactly like new, that 's all. And 
oh ! I know what I can take Clara Belle ! A few 
chocolate drops out of the box Mr. Ladd gave me 
on my birthday." 

" You go down cellar and get that tart, same as 

20 1 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

I told you," commanded Miranda, *' and when you 
fill it don't uncover a new tumbler of jelly; there 's 
some dried-apple preserves open that '11 do. Wear 
your rubbers and your thick jacket. After runnin' 
all the way down there — for your legs never seem 
to be rigged for walkin' like other girls' — you '11 set 
down on some damp stone or other and ketch your 
death o' cold, an' your Aunt Jane 'n' I '11 be kep' 
up nights nursin* you and luggin' your meals up- 
stairs to you on a waiter." 

Here Miranda leaned her head against the back 
of her rocking-chair, dropped her knitting and 
closed her eyes wearily ; for when the immovable 
body is opposed by the irresistible force there is a 
certain amount of jar and disturbance involved in 
the operation. 

Rebecca moved toward the side door, shooting 
a questioning glance at Aunt Jane as she passed. 
The look was full of mysterious suggestion and 
was accompanied by an almost imperceptible ges- 
ture. Miss Jane knew that certain articles were 
kept in the entry closet, and by this time she had 
become sufficiently expert in telegraphy to know 
that Rebecca's unspoken query meant : " Could you 
permit the hat with the red wingSy it being Satur- 
day, fine settled weather, and a pleasure excursion ?** 

These confidential requests, though fraught with 
embarrassment when Miranda was in the room, 

202 



ABNER SIMPSON'S NEW LEAF 

gave Jane much secret joy ; there was something 
about them that stirred her spinster heart — they 
were so gay, so appealing, so un-Sawyer-, un-River- 
boro-like. The longer Rebecca lived in the brick 
house the more her Aunt Jane marveled at the 
child. What made her so different from everybody 
else. Could it be that her graceless popinjay of a 
father, Lorenzo de Medici Randall, had bequeathed 
her some strange combination of gifts instead of 
fortune ? Her eyes, her brows, the color of her 
lips, the shape of her face, as well as her ways and 
words, proclaimed her a changeling in the Sawyer 
tribe ; but what an enchanting changeling ; bring- 
ing wit and nonsense and color and delight into 
the gray monotony of the dragging years ! 

There was frost in the air, but a bright, cheery 
sun, as Rebecca walked decorously out of the brick- 
house yard. Emma Jane Perkins was away over 
Sunday on a visit to a cousin in Moderation ; Alice 
Robinson and Candace Milliken were having mea- 
sles, and Riverboro was very quiet. Still, life was 
seldom anything but a gay adventure to Rebecca, 
and she started afresh every morning to its con- 
quest. She was not exacting ; the Asmodean feat 
of spinning a sand heap into twine was, poetically 
speaking, always in her power, so the mile walk to 
the pink-house gate, and the tryst with freckled, 
red-haired Clara Belle Simpson, whose face Miss 

203 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

Miranda said looked like a raw pie in a brick oven, 
these commonplace incidents were sufficiently ex- 
hilarating'to brighten her eye and quicken her step. 

As the great bare horse-chestnut near the pink- 
house gate loomed into view, the red linsey-woolsey 
speck going down the road spied the blue linsey- 
woolsey speck coming up, and both specks flew 
over the intervening distance and, meeting, em- 
braced each other ardently, somewhat to the injury 
of the company-tart. 

" Did n't it come out splendidly ? " exclaimed Re- 
becca. '* I was so afraid the fishman would n't tell 
you to start exactly at two, or that one of us would 
walk faster than the other; but we met at the very 
spot ! It was a very uncommon idea, was n't it ? 
Almost romantic ! " 

** And what do you think ? " asked Clara Belle 
proudly. " Look at this ! Mrs. Fogg lent me her 
watch to come home by ! " 

" Oh, Clara Belle, how wonderful ! Mrs. Fogg 
gets kinder and kinder to you, does n't she ? You 're 
not homesick any more, are you ? " 

*' No-o ; not really ; only when I remember 
there's only little Susan to manage the twins: 
though they're getting on real well without me. 
But I kind of think, Rebecca, that I 'm going to be 
given away to the Foggs for good." 

" Do you mean adopted } " 

204 



ABNER SIMPSON'S NEW LEAF 

"Yes; I think father's going to sign papera 
You see we can't tell how many years it '11 be be- 
fore the poor baby outgrows its burns, and Mrs. 
Fogg '11 never be the same again, and she must 
have somebody to help her." 

*' You'll be their real daughter, then, won't you, 
Clara Belle ? And Mr. Fogg is a deacon, and a 
selectman, and a road commissioner, and every- 
thing splendid." 

" Yes ; I '11 have board, and clothes, and school, 
and be named Fogg, and " (here her voice sank to 
an awed whisper) "the upper farm if I should 
ever get married ; Miss Dearborn told me that 
herself, when she was persuading me not to mind 
being given away." 

*' Clara Belle Simpson ! " exclaimed Rebecca in 
a transport. "Who'd have thought you'd be a 
female hero and an heiress besides.^ It's just like 
a book story, and it happened in Riverboro. I '11 
make Uncle Jerry Cobb allow there can be River- 
boro stories, you see if I don't." 

" Of course I know it 's all right," Clara Belle 
replied soberly. " I '11 have a good home and father 
can't keep us all ; but it 's kind of dreadful to b^ 
given away, like a piano or a horse and carriage ! " 

Rebecca's hand went out sympathetically to Clara 
Belle's freckled paw. Suddenly her own face clouded 
and she whispered: — 

20S 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

" I 'm not sure, Clara Belle, but I *m given away 
too — do you s'pose I am ? Poor father left us in 
debt, you see. I thought I came away from Sunny- 
brook to get an education and then help pay off the 
mortgage ; but mother does n't say anything about 
my coming back, and our family 's one of those too- 
big ones, you know, just like yours." 

" Did your mother sign papers to your aunts ? " 

" If she did I never heard anything about it ; 
but there 's something pinned on to the mortgage 
that mother keeps in the drawer of the bookcase." 

"You'd know it if 'twas adoption papers; I 
guess you 're just lent," Clara Belle said cheeringly. 
"I don't believe anybody 'd ever givt you away^ 
And, oh ! Rebecca, father 's getting on so well ! 
He works on Daly's farm where they raise lots of 
horses and cattle, too, and he breaks all the young 
colts and trains them, and swaps off the poor ones, 
and drives all over the country. Daly told Mr. 
Fogg he was splendid with stock, and father says 
it's just like play. He's sent home money three 
Saturday nights." 

" I 'm so glad ! " exclaimed Rebecca sympatheti- 
cally. " Now your mother '11 have a good time and 
a black silk dress, won't she } " 

" I don't know," sighed Clara Belle, and her voice 
was grave. ** Ever since I can remember she 's just 
washed and cried and cried and washed. Miss 

206 



ABNER SIMPSON'S NEW LEAF 

Dearborn has been spending her vacation up to 
Acreville, you know, and she came yesterday to 
board next door to Mrs. Fogg's. I heard them 
talking last night when I was getting the baby to 
sleep — I couldn't help it, they were so close — 
and Miss Dearborn said mother does n't like Acre- 
ville ; she says nobody takes any notice of her, and 
they don't give her any more work. Mrs. Fogg said, 
well, they were dreadful stiff and particular up that 
way and they liked women to have wedding-rings." 

** Has n't your mother got a wedding-ring ? " 
asked Rebecca, astonished. "Why, I thought every- 
body /lad to have them, just as they do sofas and 
a kitchen stove ! " 

" I never noticed she did n't have one, but when 
they spoke I remembered mother's hands washing 
and wringing, and she does n't wear one, I know. 
She hasn't got any jewelry, not even a breast- 
pm. 

" Well," and Rebecca's tone was somewhat cen- 
sorious, "your father's been so poor perhaps he 
could n't afford breast-pins, but I should have 
thought he 'd have given your mother a wedding- 
ring when they were married ; that 's the time tc 
do it, right at the very first." 

" They did n't have any real church dress-up wed- 
ding," explained Clara Belle extenuatingly. " You 
see the first mother, mine, had the big boys and 

207 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

me, and then she died when we were little. Then 
ifter a while this mother came to housekeep, and she 
stayed, and by and by she was Mrs. Simpson, and 
Susan and the twins and the baby are hers, and she 
and father did n't have time for a regular wedding 
in church. They don't have veils and bridesmaids 
and refreshments round here like Miss Dearborn's 
sister did." 

" Do they cost a great deal — wedding-rings } '* 
asked Rebecca thoughtfully. " They 're solid gold, 
so I s'pose they do. If they were cheap we might 
buy one. I 've got seventy-four cents saved up ; 
how much have you } '* 

** Fifty-three," Clara Belle responded, in a depress- 
ing tone ; " and anyway there are no stores nearer 
than Milltown. We 'd have to buy it secretly, for I 
wouldn't make father angry, or shame his pride, 
now he 's got steady work ; and mother would know 
I had spent all my savings." 

Rebecca looked nonplussed. " I declare," she 
said, " I think the Acreville people must be per- 
fectly horrid not to call on your mother only be- 
cause she hasn't got any jewelry. You would n't 
dare tell your father what Miss Dearborn heard, 
so he 'd save up and buy the ring .-* " 

*'No ; I certainly would not ! " and Clara Belle's 
lips closed tightly and decisively. 

Rebecca sat quietly for a few moments, then she 

208 



ABNER SIMPSON'S NEW LEAF 

exclaimed jubilantly: "I know where we could 
get it ! From Mr. Aladdin, and then I need n't tell 
him who it's for! He's coming to stay over to- 
morrow with his aunt, and I '11 ask him to buy a 
ring for us in Boston. I won't explain anything, 
you know ; I '11 just say I need a wedding-ring." 

" That would be perfectly lovely," replied Clara 
Belle, a look of hope dawning in her eyes ; ** and 
we can think afterwards how to get it over to 
mother. Perhaps you could send it to father in- 
stead, but I would n't dare to do it myself. You 
won't tell anybody, Rebecca ^ " 

"Cross my heart! " Rebecca exclaimed dramati- 
cally ; and then with a reproachful look, " you know 
I could n't repeat a sacred secret like that ! Shall 
we meet next Saturday afternoon, and I tell you 
what 's happened } — Why, Clara Belle, is n't that 
Mr. Ladd watering his horse at the foot of the hill 
this very minute ? It is ; and he 's driven up from 
Milltown 'stead of coming on the train from Boston 
to Edgewood. He 's all alone, and I can ride home 
with him and ask him about the ring right away ! " 

Clara Belle kissed Rebecca fervently, and started 
on her homeward walk, while Rebecca waited at 
the top of the long hill, fluttering her handkerchief 
as a signal. 

" Mr. Aladdin ! Mr. Aladdin ! " she cried, as the 
horse and wagon came nearer. 

209 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

Adam Ladd drew up quickly at the sound of the 
eager young voice. 

" Well, well ; here is Rebecca Rowena fluttering 
along the highroad like a red-winged blackbird ! 
Are you going to fly home, or drive with me ? " 

Rebecca clambered into the carriage, laughing 
and blushing with delight at his nonsense and with 
joy at seeing him again. 

*' Clara Belle and I were just talking about you 
this minute, and I 'm so glad you came this way, for 
there *s something very important to ask you about," 
she began, rather breathlessly. 

"No doubt," laughed Adam Ladd, who had be- 
come, in the course of his acquaintance with 
Rebecca, a sort of high court of appeals ; " I hope 
the premium banquet lamp doesn't smoke as it 
grows older ? " 

** Now, Mr. Aladdin, you wz/I not remember 
nicely. Mr. Simpson swapped off the banquet lamp 
when he was moving the family to Acreville; it's 
not the lamp at all, but once, when you were here 
last time, you said you'd make up your mind what 
you were going to give me for Christmas." 

"I do remember that much quite nicely." 

"Well, is it bought .? " 

"No, I never buy Christmas presents before 
Thanksgiving." 

"Then, ^^^r Mr. Aladdin, would you buy me 

2IO 



ABNER SIMPSON'S NEW LEAF 

something different, something that I want to give 
away, and buy it a little sooner than Christmas ? " 

" That depends. I don't relish having my Christ- 
mas presents given away. I like to have them kept 
forever in little girls* bureau drawers, all wrapped 
in pink tissue paper ; but explain the matter and 
perhaps I 'II change my mind. What is it you 
want .? " 

** I need a wedding-ring dreadfully," said Re- 
becca, " but it *s a sacred secret." 

Adam Ladd's eyes flashed with surprise and he 
smiled to himself with pleasure. Had he on his list 
of acquaintances, he asked himself, a person of any 
age or sex so altogether irresistible and unique as 
this child.-* Then he turned to face her with the 
merry teasing look that made him so delightful to 
young people. 

** I thought it was perfectly understood between 
us," he said, "that if you could ever contrive to 
grow up and I were willing to wait, that I was to 
ride up to the brick house on my snow white " — 

** Coal black," corrected Rebecca, with a spar- 
kling eye and a warning finger. 

" Coal black charger ; put a golden circlet on 
your lily white finger, draw you up behind me on 
my pillion " — 

"And Emma Jane, too," Rebecca interrupted. 

" I think I did n't mention Emma Jane," argued 

211 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

Mr. Aladdin. " Three on a pillion is very uncom- 
fortable. I think Emma Jane leaps on the back of 
a prancing chestnut, and we all go off to my castle 
in the forest." 

** Emma Jane never leaps, and she'd be afraid of 
a prancing chestnut," objected Rebecca. 

*' Then she shall have a gentle cream-colored 
pony ; but now, without any explanation, you ask 
me to buy you a wedding-ring, which shows plainly 
that you are planning to ride off on a snow white 
- — I mean coal black — charger with somebody 
else." 

Rebecca dimpled and laughed with joy at the 
nonsense. In her prosaic world no one but Adam 
Ladd played the game and answered the fool ac- 
cording to his folly. Nobody else talked delicious 
fairy-story twaddle but Mr. Aladdin. 

" The ring is n't for me ! " she explained carefully. 
"You know very well that Emma Jane nor I can't 
be married till we're through Quackenbos's Gram- 
mar, Greenleaf's Arithmetic, and big enough to 
wear long trails and run a sewing-machine. The 
ring is for a friend." 

"Why doesn't the groom give it to his bride 
himself.?" 

" Because he's poor and kind of thoughtless, and 
anyway she isn't a bride any more ; she has three 
step and three other kind of children." 

212 



ABNER SIMPSON'S NEW LEAF 

Adam Ladd put the whip back in the socket 
thoughtfully, and then stooped to tuck in the rug 
over Rebecca's feet and his own. When he raised 
his head again he asked : ** Why not tell me a little 
more, Rebecca ? I 'm safe ! " 

Rebecca looked at him, feeling his wisdom and 
strength, and above all his sympathy. Then she 
said hesitatingly : " You remember I told you all 
about the Simpsons that day on your aunt's porch 
when you bought the soap because I told you how 
the family were always in trouble and how much 
they needed a b:jnquet lamp? Mr. Simpson, Clara 
Belle's father, has always been very poor, and not 
always very good, — a little bit thievish^ you know, 
— but oh, so pleasant and nice to talk to ! and now 
he *s turning over a new leaf. And everybody in 
Riverboro liked Mrs. Simpson when she came here 
a stranger, because they were sorry for her and she 
was so patient, and such a hard worker, and so kind 
to the children. But where she lives now, though 
they used to know her when she was a girl, they're 
not polite to her and don't give her scrubbing and 
washing ; and Clara Belle heard our teacher say to 
Mrs. Fogg that the Acreville people were stiff, and 
despised her because she didn't wear a wedding- 
ring, like all the rest. And Clara Belle and I 
thought if they were so mean as that, we *d love to 
give her one, and then she 'd be happier and iiavfj 

_ 213 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

more work; and perhaps Mr. Simpson if he gets 
along better will buy her a breast-pin and earrings, 
and she '11 be fitted out like the others. I know 
Mrs. Peter Meserve is looked up to by everybody 
in Edgewood on account of her gold bracelets and 
moss agate necklace." 

Adam turned again to meet the luminous, inno- 
cent eyes that glowed under the delicate brows and 
long lashes, feeling as he had more than once felt 
before, as if his worldly-wise, grown-up thoughts 
had been bathed in some purifying spring. 

" How shall you send the ring to Mrs. Simp- 
son ? " he asked, with interest. 

** We have n't settled yet ; Clara Belle *s afraid to 
do it, and thinks I could manage better. Will the 
ring cost much ? because, of course, if it does, I 
must ask Aunt Jane first. There are things I have 
to ask Aunt Miranda, and others that belong to 
Aunt Jane." 

" It costs the merest trifle. I '11 buy one and 
bring it to you, and we '11 consult aboiit it ; but I 
think as you 're great friends with Mr. Simpson 
you *d better send it to him in a letter, letters 
being your strong point ! It 's a present a man 
ought to give his own wife, but it's worth trying, 
Rebecca. You and Clara Belle can manage it 
between you, and I '11 stay in the background where 
ttiobody will see me." 



Ninth Chronicle 
THE GREEN ISLE 

Many a green isle needs must be 
In the deep sea of misery, 
Or the mariner, worn and wan, 
Never thus could voyage on 
Day and night and night and day, 
Drifting on his weary way. 

Shelley. 

MEANTIME in these frosty autumh ^ays 
life was crowded with events in the 
lonely Simpson house at Acreville. 

The tumble-down dwelling stood on the edge of 
Pliny's Pond ; so called because old Colonel Rich- 
ardson left his lands to be divided in five equal 
parts, each share to be chosen in turn by one of 
his five sons, Pliny, the eldest, having priority of 
choice. 

Pliny Richardson, having little taste for farming, 
and being ardently fond of fishing, rowing, and 
swimming, acted up to his reputation of being "a 
little mite odd," and took his whole twenty acres 
in water — hence Pliny's Pond. 

The eldest Simpson boy had been working on a 
farm in Cumberland County for two years. Samuel, 

215 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

generally dubbed "See-saw," had lately found a 
humble place in a shingle mill and was partially 
self-supporting. Clara Belle had been adopted by 
the Foggs ; thus there were only three mouths to 
fill, the capacious ones of Elijah and Elisha, the 
twin boys, and c2 lisping, nine-year-old Susan, the 
capable houseworker and mother's assistant, for 
the baby had died during the summer ; died of dis- 
couragement at having been born into a family 
unprovided with food or money or love or care, or 
even with desire for, or appreciation of, babies. 

There was no doubt that the erratic father of 
the house had turned over a new leaf. Exactly 
when he began, or how^ or why, or how long he 
would continue the praiseworthy process, — in a 
word whether there would be more leaves turned 
as the months went on, — Mrs. Simpson did not 
know, and it is doubtful if any authority lower than 
that of Mr. Simpson's Maker could have decided 
the matter. He had stolen articles for swapping' 
purposes for a long time, but had often avoided 
detection, and always escaped punishment until 
the last few years. Three fines imposed for small 
offenses were followed by several arrests and two 
imprisonments for brief periods, and he found him- 
self wholly out of sympathy with the wages of sin. 
Sin itself he did not especially mind, but the wages 
thereof were decidedly unpleasant and irksome to 

2l6 



THE GREEN ISLE 

him. He also minded very much the isolated posi- 
tion in the community which had lately become 
his ; for he was a social being and would ahnost 
rather not steal from a neighbor than have him 
find it out and cease intercourse ! This feeling was 
working in him and rendering him unaccountably 
irritable and depressed when he took his daughter 
over to Riverboro at the time of the great flag- 
raising. 

There are seasons of refreshment, as well as 
seasons of drought, in the spiritual, as in the 
natural world, and in some way or other dews and 
rains of grace fell upon Abner Simpson's heart 
during that brief journey. Perhaps the giving 
away of a child that he could not support had 
made the soil of his heart a little softer and readier 
for planting than usual ; but when he stole the 
new flag off Mrs. Peter's Meserve's doorsteps, 
under the impression that the cotton-covered 
bundle contained freshly washed clothes, he uncon- 
sciously set certain forces in operation. 

It will be remembered that Rebecca saw an 
inch of red bunting peeping from the back of his 
wagon, and asked the pleasure of a drive with him. 
She was no daughter of the regiment, but she pro^ 
posed to follow the flag. When she diplomatically 
requested the return of the sacred object which 
was to be the glory of the "raising " next day, and 

217 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

he thus discovered his mistake, he was furious 
with himself for having slipped into a disagreeable 
predicament ; and later, when he unexpectedly 
faced a detachment of Riverboro society at the 
cross-roads, and met not only their wrath and 
scorn, but the reproachful, disappointed glance of 
Rebecca's eyes, he felt degraded as never before. 

The night at the Centre Tavern did not help 
matters, nor the jolly patriotic meeting of the three 
villages at the flag-raising next morning. He would 
have enjoyed being at the head and front of the 
festive preparations, but as he had cut himself o£E 
trom all such friendly gatherings, he intended at 
any rate to sit in his wagon on the very outskirts 
of the assembled crowd and see some of the gayety j 
for, heaven knows, he had little enough, he who 
loved talk, and song, and story, and laughter, and 
excitement. 

The flag was raised, the crowd cheered, the little 
girl to whom he had lied, the girl who was imper- 
sonating the State of Maine, was on the platform 
"speaking her piece," and he could just distinguish 
some of the words she was saying : — 

" For it *s your star, my star, all the stars togethe^:^ 
That makes our country's flag so proud 
To float in the bright fall weather." 

Then suddenly there was a clarion voice cleaving 
the air, and he saw a tall man standing in the 

2l8 



THE GREEN ISLE 

centre of the stage and heard him crying : " Three 
cheers for the girl that saved the flag fro^n the hands 
cf the enemy ! " 

He was sore and bitter enough already ; lonely, 
isolated enough ; with no lot nor share in the honest 
community life ; no hand to shake, no neighbor's 
meal to share ; and this unexpected public arraign- 
ment smote him between the eyes. With resent- 
ment newly kindled, pride wounded, vanity bleeding, 
he flung a curse at the joyous throng and drove 
toward home, the home where he would find his 
ragged children and meet the timid eyes of a 
woman who had been the loyal partner of his pov- 
erty and disgraces. 

It is probable that even then his (extremely 
light) hand was already on the " new leaf/' The 
angels, doubtless, were not especially proud of the 
matter and manner of his reformation, but I dare 
say they were glad to count him theirs on any 
terms, so difficult is the reformation of this blind 
and foolish world ! They must have been ; for they 
immediately flung into his very lap a profitable, 
and what is more to the point, an interesting and 
agreeable situation where money could be earned 
by doing the very things his nature craved. There 
were feats of daring to be performed in sight of 
admiring and applauding stable boys ; the horses 
he loved were his companions ; he was obliged X,o 

219 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

"swap," for Daly, his employer, counted on him ta 
get rid of all undesirable stock ; power and respon- 
sibility of a sort were given him freely, for Daly 
was no Puritan, and felt himself amply capable of 
managing any number of Simpsons ; so here were 
numberless advantages within the man's grasp, 
and wages besides ! 

Abner positively felt no temptation to steal ; his 
soul expanded with pride, and the admiration and 
astonishment with which he regarded his virtuous 
present was only equaled by the disgust with 
which he contemplated his past ; not so much a 
vicious past, in his own generous estimation of it, 
as a ** thunderin' foolish " one. 

Mrs. Simpson took the same view of Abner's 
new leaf as the angels. She was thankful for even 
a brief season of honesty coupled with the Satur- 
day night remittance ; and if she still washed and 
cried and cried and washed, as Clara Belle had 
always seen her, it was either because of some hid- 
den sorrow, or because her poor strength seemed 
all at once to have deserted her. 

Just when employment and good fortune had; 
come to the step-children, and her own were 
better fed and clothed than ever before, the pain 
that had always lurked, constant but dull, near her 
tired heart, grew fierce and triumphantly strong ; 
clutching her in its talons, biting, gnawing, worry* 

220 



THE GREEN ISLE 

ing, having her each week with slighter powers of 
resistance. Still hope was in the air and a greater 
content than had ever been hers was in her eyes ; 
a content that came near to happiness when the 
doctor ordered her to keep her bed and sent for 
Clara Belle. She could not wash any longer, but 
there was the ever new miracle of the Saturday 
night remittance for household expenses. 

" Is your pain bad to-day, mother ? " asked Clara 
Belle, who, only lately given away, was merely bor- 
rowed from Mrs. Fogg for what was thought to be 
a brief emergency. 

" Well, there, I can't hardly tell, Clara Belle," 
Mrs. Simpson replied, with a faint smile. " I can't 
seem to remember the pain these days without it 's 
extra bad. The neighbors are so kind ; Mrs. Little 
has sent me canned mustard greens, and Mrs. Ben- 
son chocolate ice-cream and mince pie ; there *s 
the doctor's drops to make me sleep, and these 
blankets and that great box of eatables from Mr. 
Ladd ; and you here to keep me comp'ny ! I declare 
I'm kind o' dazed with comforts. I never expected 
to see sherry wine in this house. I ain't never 
dravved the cork ; it does me good enough jest to 
look at Mr. Ladd's bottle settin* on the mantel- 
piece with the fire shinin' on the brown glass." 

Mr. Simpson had come to see his wife and had 
met the doctor just as he was leaving the house. 

221 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

*' She looks awful bad to me. Is she goin* to pull 
through all right, same as the last time ? " he asked 
the doctor nervously. 

** She 's going to pull right through into the other 
world," the doctor answered bluntly ; " and as there 
don't seem to be anybody else to take the bull by 
the horns, I 'd advise you, having made the wo- 
man's life about as hard and miserable as you could, 
to try and help her to die easy ! " 

Abner, surprised and crushed by the weight of 
this verbal chastisement, sat down on the doorstep, 
his head in his hands, and thought a while sol- 
emnly. Thought was not an operation he was wont 
to indulge in, and when he opened the gate a few 
minutes later and walked slowly toward the barn 
for his horse, he looked pale and unnerved. It is 
uncommonly startling, first to see yourself in an- 
other man's scornful eyes, and then, clearly, in 
your own. 

Two days later he came again, and this time it 
was decreed that he should find Parson Carll tying 
his piebald mare at the post. 

Clara Belle's quick eye had observed the minis- 
ter as he alighted from his buggy, and, warning her 
mother, she hastily smoothed the bedclothes, ar- 
ranged the medicine bottles, and swept the hearth. 

" Oh ! don't let him in ! "-wailed Mrs. Simpson, 
all of a flutter at the prospect of such a visitor. 

222 



THE GREEN ISLE 

** Oh, dear ! they must think over to the village 
that I *m dreadful sick, or the minister would n't 
never think of callin* ! Don't let him in, Clara 
Belle ! I 'm afraid he will say hard words to me, 
or pray to me ; and I ain't never been prayed to 
since I was a child ! Is his wife with him ? " 

" No ; he 's alone ; but father 's just drove up 
and is hitching at the shed door." 

"That's worse than all!" and Mrs. Simpson 
raised herself feebly on her pillows and clasped her 
hands in despair. " You must n't let them two 
meet, Clara Belle, and you must send Mr. Carll 
away; your father would n't have a minister in the 
house, nor speak to one, for a thousand dollars ! " 

" Be quiet, mother ! Lie down ! It '11 be all 
right ! You '11 only fret yourself into a spell ! The 
minister 's just a good man; he won't say anything 
to frighten you. Father's talking with him real 
pleasant, and pointing the way to the front door." 

The parson knocked and was admitted by the 
excited Clara Belle, who ushered him tremblingly 
into the sickroom, and then betook herself to the 
kitchen with the children, as he gently requested her. 

Abner Simpson, left alone in the shed, fumbled 
in his vest pocket and took out an envelope which 
held a sheet of paper and a tiny packet wrapped in 
tissue paper. The letter had been read once before 
and ran as follows : — 

223 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

Dear Mr. Simpson: 

This is a secret letter. I heard that the Acreville 
people were n't nice to Mrs. Simpson because she 
did n't have any wedding-ring like all the others. 

I know you 've always been poor, dear Mr. Simp- 
son, and troubled with a large family like ours at 
the farm ; but you really ought to have given Mrs. 
Simpson a ring when you were married to her, right 
at the very first ; for then it would have been over 
and done with, as they are solid gold and last for- 
ever. And probably she would n't feel like asking 
you for one, because ladies are just like girls, only 
grown up, and I know I 'd be ashamed to beg for 
jewelry when just board and clothes cost so much. 
So I send you a nice, new wedding-ring to save 
your buying, thinking you might get Mrs. Simpson 
a bracelet or eardrops for Christmas. It did not 
cost me anything, as it was a secret present from 
a friend. 

I hear Mrs. Simpson is sick, and it would be a 
great comfort to her while she is in bed and has so 
much time to look at it. When I had the measles 
Emma Jane Perkins lent me her mother's garnet 
ring, and it helped me very much to put my wasted 
hand outside the bedclothes and see the ring spar- 
kling. 

Please don't be angry with me, dear Mr. Simpson, 
because I like you so much and am so glad you are 

224 



THE GREEN ISLE 

happy with the horses and colts ; and I believe now 
perhaps you did think the flag was a bundle of 
washing when you took it that day ; so no more 
from your 

Trusted friend, 

Rebecca Rowena Randall. 

Simpson tore the letter slowly and quietly into 
fragments and scattered the bits on the woodpile, 
took off his hat, and smoothed his hair ; pulled his 
mustaches thoughtfully, straightened his shoulders, 
and then, holding the tiny packet in the palm of his 
hand, he went round to the front door, and having 
entered the house stood outside the sickroom for an 
instant, turned the knob and walked softly in. 

Then at last the angels might have enjoyed a 
moment of unmixed joy, for in that brief walk from 
shed to house Abner Simpson's conscience waked 
to life and attained sufficient strength to prick and 
sting, to provoke remorse, to incite penitence, to 
do all sorts of divine and beautiful things it was 
meant for, but had never been allowed to do. 

Clara Belle went about the kitchen quietly, mak- 
ing preparations for the children's supper. She had 
left Riverboro in haste, as the change for the 
worse in Mrs. Simpson had been very sudden, 
but since she had come she had thought more 
than once of the wedding-ring. She had wondered 

225 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

wn ether Mr. Ladd had bought it for Keoecca, and 
whether Rebecca would find means to send it to 
Acreville; but her cares had been so many and 
varied that the subject had now finally retired to 
the background of her mind. 

The hands of the clock crept on and she kept 
hushing the strident tones of Elijah and Elisha, 
opening and shutting the oven door to look at the 
corn bread, advising Susan as to her dishes, and 
marveling that the minister stayed so long. 

At last she heard a door open and close, and saw 
the old parson come out, wiping his spectacles, 
pnd step into the buggy for his drive to the village. 

^'hen there was another period of suspense, 
during which the house was as silent as the grave, 
and presently her father came into the kitchen, 
greeted the twins and Susan, and said to Clara 
Belle : **Don^t o^o in there yet ! " jerking his thumb 
towards Mrs. Simpson's room ; "she's all beat out 
and she's just droppin* off to sleep. I'll send 
some groceries up from the store as I go along. 
Is the doctor makin' a second call to-night } " 

" Yes ; he '11 be here pretty soon, now," Clara 
Belle answered, looking at the clock. 

" All right. I '11 be here again to-morrow, soon 
as it's light, and if she ain't picked up any I'll 
send word back to Daly, and stop here with you 
for a spell till she 's better." 

226 



THE GREEN ISLE 

It was true ; Mrs. Simpson was " all beat out/* 
It had been a time of excitement and stress, and 
the poor, fluttered creature was dropping off into 
the strangest sleep — a sleep made up of waking 
dreams. The pain, that had encompassed her heart 
like a band of steel, lessened its cruel pressure, and 
finally left her so completely that she seemed to 
see it floating above her head ; only that it looked 
no longer like a band of steel, but a golden circle. 

The frail bark in which she had sailed her life- 
voyage had been rocking on a rough and tossing 
ocean, and now it floated, floated slowly into 
smoother waters. 

As long as she could remember, her boat had 
been flung about in storm and tempest, lashed by 
angry winds, borne against rocks, beaten, torn, 
buffeted. Now the waves had subsided ; the sky 
was clear ; the sea was warm and tranquil ; the 
sunshine dried the tattered sails ; the air was soft 
and balmy. 

And now, for sleep plays strange tricks, the 
bark disappeared from the dream, and it was she, 
herself, who was floating, floating farther and 
farther away ; whither she neither knew nor cared ; 
it was enough to be at rest, lulled by the lapping 
of the cool waves. 

Then there appeared a green isle rising from the 
sea ; an isle so radiant and fairy-like that her fam- 

227 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

ished eyes could hardly believe its reality ; but it 
was real, for she sailed nearer and nearer to its 
shores, and at last her feet skimmed the shining 
sands and she floated through the air as disem- 
bodied spirits float, till she sank softly at the foot 
of a spreading tree. 

Then she saw that the green isle was a flowering 
isle. Every shrub and bush was blooming ; the trees 
were hung with rosy garlands, and even the earth 
was carpeted with tiny flowers. The rare fragrances, 
the bird songs, soft and musical, the ravishment of 
color, all bore down upon her swimming senses at 
once, taking them captive so completely that she 
remembered no past, was conscious of no present, 
looked forward to no future. She seemed to leave 
the body and the sad, heavy things of the body. 
The humming in her ears ceased, the light faded, 
the birds' songs grew fainter and more distant, the 
golden circle of pain receded farther and farther 
until it was lost to view ; even the flowering island 
gently drifted away, and all was peace and silence. 

It was time for the doctor now, and Clara Belle, 
too anxious to wait longer, softly turned the knob 
of her mother's door and entered the room. The 
glow of the open fire illumined the darkest side of 
the poor chamber. There were no trees near the 
house, and a full November moon streamed in at 
the unblinded, uncurtained windows, lighting up 

228 



THE GREEN ISLE 

the bare interior — the unpainted floor, the gray 
plastered walls, and the white counterpane. 

Her mother lay quite still, her head turned and 
drooping a little on the pillow. Her left hand was 
folded softly up against her breast, the fingers of 
the right partly covering it, as if protecting some- 
thing precious. 

Was it the moonlight that made the patient brow 
so white, and where were the lines of anxiety and 
pain } The face of the mother who had washed and 
cried and cried and washed was as radiant as if the 
closed eye were beholding heavenly visions. 

" Something must have cured her ! " thought 
Clara Belle, awed and almost frightened by the 
whiteness and the silence. 

She tiptoed across the floor to look more closely 
at the still, smiling shape, and bending over it saw, 
under the shadow of the caressing right hand, a 
narrow gold band gleaming on the work-stained 
finger. 

" Oh, the ring came, after all ! " she said in a 
glad whisper, " and perhaps it was that that made 
her better!" 

She put her hand on her mother's gently. A 
terrified shiver, a warning shudder, shook the girl 
from head to foot at the chilling touch. A dread 
presence she had never met before suddenly took 
shape. It filled the room ; stifled the cry on her 

229 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

lips ; froze her steps to the floor ; stopped the beat- 
ing of her heart. 

Just then the door opened 

" Oh, doctor ! come quick ! '* she sobbed, stretch- 
ing out her hand for help, and then covering her 
eyes. *' Come close ! Look at mother ! Is she bet- 
ter — or is she dead ? " 

The doctor put one hand on the shoulder of the 
shrinking child, and touched the woman with the 
other. 

"She is better!" he said gently, "and she is 
dead." 




Tenth Chronicle 

REBECCA'S REMINISCENCES 

EBECCA was sitting by the window in her 
room at the Wareham Female Seminary. 
She was alone, as her roommate, Emma 
Jane Perkins, was reciting Latin down below in 
some academic vault of the old brick building. 

A new and most ardent passion for the classics 
had been born in Emma Jane's hitherto unfertile 
brain, for Abijah Flagg, who was carrying off all 
the prizes at Limerick Academy, had written her 
a letter in Latin, a letter which she had been unable 
to translate for herself, even with the aid of a dic- 
tionary, and which she had been apparently unwill- 
ing that Rebecca, her bosom friend, confidant, and 
roommate, should render into English. 

An old-tashioned Female Seminary, with its allot- 
ment of one medium-sized room to two medium- 
sized young females, gave small opportunities 
for privacy by night or day, for neither the double 
washstand, nor the thus far unimagined bathroom, 
nor even indeed the humble and serviceable 
screen, had been realized, in these dark ages 
of which I write. Accordingly, like the irrational 

231 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

ostrich, which defends itself by the simple process 
of not looking at its pursuers, Emma Jane had kept 
her Latin letter in her closed hand, in her pocket, 
or in her open book, flattering herself that no one 
had noticed her pleased bewilderment at its only 
half-imagined contents. 

All the fairies were not present at Rebecca's 
cradle. A goodly number of them telegraphed that 
they were previously engaged or unavoidably ab- 
sent from town. The village of Temperance, 
Maine, where Rebecca firjt saw the light, was 
hardly a place on its own merits to attract large 
throngs of fairies. But one dear old personage who 
keeps her pocket full of Merry Leaves from the 
Laughing Tree, took a fancy to come to the little 
birthday party ; and seeing so few of her sister- 
fairies present, she dowered the sleeping baby more 
richly than was her wont, because of its apparent 
lack of wealth in other directions. So the child grew, 
and the Merry Leaves from the Laughing Tree 
rustled where they hung from the hood of her 
cradle, and, being fairy leaves, when the cradle was 
given up they festooned themselves on the cribside, 
and later on blew themselves up to the ceilings at 
Sunnybrook Farm and dangled there, making fun 
for everybody. They never withered, even at the 
brick house in Riverboro, where the air was par- 
ticularly inimical to fairies, for Miss Miranda Saw- 

232 



REBECCA'S REMINISCENCES 

yer would have scared any ordinary elf out of het 
seventeen senses. They followed Rebecca to Ware- 
ham, and during Abijah Flagg's Latin correspond- 
ence with Emma Jane they fluttered about that 
young person's head in such a manner that Re- 
becca was almost afraid that she would discover 
them herself, although this is something, as a 
matter of fact, that never does happen. 

A week had gone by since the Latin missive had 
been taken from the post-office by Emma Jane, and 
now, by means of much midnight oil-burning, by 
much cautious questioning of Miss Maxwell, by 
such scrutiny of the moods and tenses of Latin 
verbs as wellnigh destroyed her brain tissue, she 
had mastered its romantic message. If it was con- 
ventional in style, Emma Jane never suspected it. 
If some of the similes seemed to have been culled 
from the Latin poets, and some of the phrases 
built up from Latin exercises, Emma Jane was 
neither scholar nor critic ; the similes, the phrases, 
the sentiments, when finally translated and writ- 
ten down in black-and-white English, made, in her 
opinion, the most convincing and heart-melting 
document ever sent through the mails : — 

Mea cara Emma: 

Cur audeo scribere ad te epistulam ? Es mihi 
dea! Semper es in mea anima. Iterum et iterum 

233 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

es cum me in somnis. Saepe video tuas capillos 
auri, tuos pulchros oculos similes caelo, tuas genas, 
quasi rubentes rosas in nive. Tua vox est dulcior 
quam cantus avium aut murmur rivuli in montibus. 

Cur sum ego tarn miser et pauper et indignus, et 
tu tam dulcis et bona et nobilis ? 

Si cogitabis de me ero beatus. Tu es sola puella 
quam amo, et semper eris. Alias puellas non amavl 
Forte olim amabis me, sed sum indignus. Sine te 
sum miser, cum tu es prope mea vita omnis est 
gaudium. 

Vale, carissima, carissima puella ! 

De tuo fideli servo 

A. F. 
My dear Emma: 

Why dare I write to you a letter ? You are to me 
a goddess! Always you are in my heart. Agam 
and again you are with me in dreams. Often I see 
your locks of gold, your beautiful eyes like the sky, 
your cheeks, as red roses in snow. Your voice is 
sweeter than the singing of birds or the murmur 
of the stream in the mountains. 

Why am I so wretched and poor and unworthy, 
and you so sweet and good and noble } 

If you will think of me I shall be happy. You 
are the only girl that I love and always will be. 
Other girls I have not loved. Perhaps sometime 
you will love me, but I am unworthy. Without 

234 



REBECCA'S REMINISCENCES 

you I am wretched, when you are near my life is 
all joy. 

Farewell, dearest, dearest girl ! 

From your faithful slave 

A. F. 

Emma Jane knew the letter by heart in English. 
She even knew it in Latin, only a few days before 
a dead language to her, but now one filled with 
life and meaning. From beginning to end the 
epistle had the effect upon her as of an intoxicat- 
ing elixir. Often, at morning prayers, or while eat- 
ing her rice pudding at the noon dinner, or when 
sinking off to sleep at night, she heard a voice 
murmuring in her ear, ** Vale, carissima, carissima, 
puella ! " As to the effect on her modest, coun- 
trified little heart of the phrases in which Abijah 
stated she was a goddess and he her faithful slave, 
that quite baflfles description ; for it lifted her 
bodily out of the scenes in which she moved, into 
a new, rosy, ethereal atmosphere in which even 
Rebecca had no place. 

Rebecca did not know this, fortunately ; she 
only suspected, and waited for the day when 
Emma Jane would pour out her confidences, as 
she always did, and always would until the end 
of time. At the present moment she was busily 
employed in thinking about her own affairs. A 

235 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

shabby composition-book with mottled board cov- 
ers lay open on the table before her, and some- 
times she wrote in it with feverish haste and ab- 
sorption, and sometimes she rested her chin in the 
cup of her palm, and with the pencil poised in the 
other hand looked dreamily out on the village, its 
huddle of roofs and steeples all blurred into posi- 
tive beauty by the fast-falling snowfiakes. 

It was the middle of December and the friendly 
sky was softly dropping a great white mantle of 
peace and good-will over the little town, making 
all ready within and without for the Feast o* the 
Babe. 

The main street, that in summer was made dig- 
nified by its splendid avenue of shade trees, now 
ran quiet and white between rows of stalwart 
trunks, whose leafless branches were all hanging 
heavy under their dazzling burden. 

The path leading straight up the hill to the 
Academy was broken only by the feet of the hurry- 
ing, breathless boys and girls who ran up and 
down, carrying piles of books under their arms ; 
books which they remembered so long as they 
were within the four walls of the recitation room, 
and which they eagerly forgot as soon as they met 
one another in the living, laughing v/orld, going 
up and down the hill. 

*' It 's very becoming to the universe, snow is I " 

2i6 



REBECCA'S REMINISCENCES 

thought Rebecca, looking out of the window dreani" 
ily. " Really there 's little to choose between th^ 
world and heaven when a snowstorm is going on, 
I feel as if I ought to look at it every minute. I 
wish I could get over being greedy, but it still 
seems to me at sixteen as if there were n't waking 
hours enough in the day, and as if somehow I were 
pressed for time and continually losing something. 
How well I remember mother's story about me 
when I was four. It was at early breakfast on the 
farm, but I called all meals 'dinner* then, and 
when I had finished I folded up my bib and sighed : 
* Oh, dear ! Only two more dinners, play a while 
and go to bad ! ' This was at six in the morning 
— lampligh. in the kitchen, snowlight outside! 

Powdery, powdery, powdery snow, 
Making things lovely wherever you go 1 
Merciful, merciful, merciful snow, 
Masking the ugliness hidden below. 

Herbert made me promise to do a poem for the Jan- 
uary * Pilot,' but I must n't take the snow as a sub- 
ject ; there has been too great competition among 
the older poets ! " And with that she turned in her 
•:hair and began writing again in the shabby book, 
A^hich was already three quarters filled with childish 
scribblings, sometimes in pencil, and sometimes in 
violet ink with carefully shaded capital letters. 

^^ T^ ^P 'V' "V ^^ 1^ ^^ 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

Squire Bean has had a sharp attack of rheuma- 
tism and Abijah Flagg came back from Limerick 
for a few days to nurse him. One morning the 
Burnham sisters from North Riverboro came over 
to spend the day with Aunt Miranda, and Abijah 
jvent down to put up their horse. ("'Commodatin' 
'Bijah " was his pet name when we were all young.) 
He scaled the ladder to the barn chamber — the 
dear old ladder that used to be my safety valve ! — 
and pitched down the last forkful of grandfather's 
hay that will ever be eaten by any visiting horse. 
They will be delighted to hear that it is all gone; 
they have grumbled at it for years and years. 

What should Abijah find at the bottom of the 
heap but my Thought Book, hidden there two or 
three years ago and forgotten ! 

When I think of what it was to me, the place it 
filled in my life, the affection I lavished on it, I 
wonder that I could forget it, even in all the ex- 
citement of coming to Wareham to school. And 
that gives me "an uncommon thought" as I used 
to say ! It is this : that when we finish building an 
air castle we seldom live in it after all ; we some- 
times even forget that we ever longed to ! Perhaps 
we have gone so far as to begin another castle on 
a higher hilltop, and this is so beautiful, — espe- 
cially while we are building, and before we live in 
itl — that the first one has quite vanished from 

238 



REBECCA'S REMINISCENCES 

sight and mind, like the outgrown shell of the nau. 
tilus that he casts off on the shore and never looks 
at again. (At least I suppose he does n't ; but per- 
haps he takes one backward glance, half-smiling, 
half-serious, just as I am doing at my old Thought 
Book, and says, " Was that my shell ! Goodness 
gracious I how did I ever squeeze myself itito it / ") 
That bit about the nautilus sounds like an ex- 
tract from a school theme, or a " Pilot " editorial, or 
a fragment of one of dear Miss Maxwell's lectures, 
— but I think girls of sixteen are principally imita- 
tions of the people and things they love and admire ; 
and between editing the " Pilot," writing out Virgil 
translations, searching for composition subjects, and 
studying rhetorical models, there is very little of the 
original Rebecca Rowena about me at the present 
moment; I am just a member of the graduating 
class in good and regular standing. We do our 
hair alike, dress alike as much as possible, eat and 
drink alike, talk alike, — I am not even sure that 
we do not think alike : and what will become of the 
poor world when we are all let loose upon it on 
the same day of June } Will life, real life, bring our 
true selves back to us .'' Will love and duty and 
sorrow and trouble and work finally wear off the 
** school stamp " that has been pressed upon all of 
us until we look like rows of shining copper cents 
fresh from the mint } 

239 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

Yet there must be a little difference between us 
somewhere, or why does Abijah Flagg write Latin 
letters to Emma Jane, instead of to me ? There 
is one example on the other side of the argument, 
— Abijah Flagg. He stands out from all the rest 
of the boys like the Rock of Gibraltar in the geo- 
graphy pictures. Is it because he never went to 
school until he was sixteen ? He almost died of 
longing to go, and the longing seemed to teach him 
more than going. He knew his letters, and could 
read simple things, but it was I who taught him what 
books really meant when I v/as eleven and he thir- 
teen. We studied while he was husking corn or 
cutting potatoes for seed, or shelling beans in the 
Squire's barn. His beloved Emma Jane did n't teach 
him ; her father would not have let her be friends 
with a chore-boy ! It was I who found him after milk- 
ing-time, summer nights, suffering, yes dying, of 
Least Common Multiple and Greatest Common Di- 
visor ; I who struck the shackles from the slave and 
told him to skip it all and go on to something easier, 
like Fractions, Percentage, and Compound Inter- 
est, as I did myself. Oh ! how he used to smell of 
the cows when I was correcting his sums on warm 
evenings, but I don't regret it, for he is now the 
joy of Limerick and the pride of Riverboro, and I 
suppose has forgotten the proper side on which to 
approach a cow if you wish to milk her. This now 

240 



REBECCA'S REMINISCENCES 

unserviceable knowledge is neatly inclosed in the 
outgrown shell he threw off two or three years ago. 
His gratitude to me knows no bounds, but — he 
writes Latin letters to Emma Jane ! But as Mr. 
Perkins said about drowning the kittens (I now 
quote from myself at thirteen), " It is the way of 
the world and how things have to be ! " 

Well, I have read the Thought Book all through, 
and when I want to make Mr. Aladdin laugh, I shall 
show him my composition on the relative values of 
punishment and reward as builders of character. 

I am not at all the same Rebecca to-day at six- 
teen that I was then, at twelve and thirteen. I 
hope, in getting rid of my failings, that I haven't 
scrubbed and rubbed so hard that I have taken the 
gloss off the poor little virtues that lay just along- 
side of the faults ; for as I read the foolish doggerel 
and the funny, funny " Remerniscences," I see on 
the whole a nice, well-meaning, trusting, loving^ 
heedless little creature, that after all I 'd rather 
build on than outgrow altogether, because she is 
Me ; the Me that was made and born just a little 
different from all the rest of the babies in my birth- 
day year. 

One thing is alike in the child and the girl. They 
both love to set thoughts down in black and white ; 
to see how they look, how they sound, and how 
they make one feel when one reads them oven 

2/11 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

They both love the sound of beautiful sentences 
and the tinkle of rhyming words, and in fact, of the 
three great R's of life, they adore Reading and 
*Riting, as much as they abhor 'Rithmetic. 

The little girl in the old book is always thinking 
of what she is " going to be." 

Uncle Jerry Cobb spoiled me a good deal in this 
direction. I remember he said to everybody when 
I wrote my verses for the flag-raising : ** Nary rung 
on the ladder o' fame but that child '11 climb if you 
give her time!" — poor Uncle Jerry ! he will be so 
disappointed in me as time goes on. And still he 
would think I have already climbed two rungs on 
the ladder, although it is only a little Wareham 
ladder, for I am one of the " Pilot " editors, the first 
" girl editor" — and I have taken a fifty dollar prize 
in composition and paid off the interest on a twelve 
hundred dollar mortgage with it. 

** High is the rank we now possess, 
But higher we shall rise ; 
Though what we shall hereafter be 
Is hid from mortal eyes." 

This hymn was sung in meeting the Sunday 
after my election, and Mr. Aladdin was there that 
day and looked across the aisle and smiled at me. 
Then he sent me a sheet of paper from Boston the 
next morning with just one verse in the middle 
of it 

242 



REBECCA'S REMINISCENCES 

" She made the cleverest people quite ashamed; 
And ev'n the good with inward envy groan, 
Finding themselves so very much exceeded, 
In their own way by all the things that she did." 

Miss Maxwell says it is Byron, and I wish I had 
thought of the last rhyme before Byron did; my 
rhymes are always so common. 

I am too busy doing, nowadays, to give very much 
thought to being. Mr. Aladdin was teasing me one 
day about what he calls my ** cast-off careers." 

" What makes you aim at any mark in particular, 
Rebecca ? " he asked, looking at Miss Maxwell and 
laughing. "Women never hit what they aim at, 
anyway ; but if they shut their eyes and shoot in 
the air they generally find themselves in the bull's 
eye." 

I think one reason that I have always dreamed 
of what I should be, when I grew up, was, that 
even before father died mother worried about the 
mortgage on the farm, and what would become of 
us if it were foreclosed. 

It was hard on children to be brought up on a 
mortgage that way, but oh ! it was harder still on 
poor dear mother, who had seven of us then to 
think of, and still has three at home to feed and 
clothe out of the farm. 

Aunt Jane says I am young for my age. Aunt 
Miranda is afraid that I will never really " grow 

243 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

up," Mr. Aladdin says that I don't know the world 
any better than the pearl inside of the oyster. 
They none of them know the old, old thoughts I 
have, some of them going back years and years ; 
for they are never ones that I can speak about. 

I remember how we children used to admire 
father, he was so handsome and graceful and amus- 
ing, never cross like mother, or too busy to play 
with us. He never did any work at home because 
he had to keep his hands nice for playing the 
church melodeon, or the violin or piano for dances. 

Mother used to say: "Hannah and Rebecca, 
you must hull the strawberries, your father cannot 
help." " John, you must milk next year for I 
have n't the time and it would spoil your father's 
hands." 

All the other men in Temperance village wore 
calico, or flannel shirts, except on Sundays, but 
father never wore any but white ones with starched 
bosoms. He was very particular about them and 
mother used to stitch and stitch on the pleats, and 
press and press the bosoms and collar and cuffs, 
sometimes late at night. 

Then she was tired and thin and gray, with no 
time to sew on new dresses for herself, and no 
time to wear them, because she was always taking 
care of the babies ; and father was happy and well 
and handsome. But we children never thought 

244 



REBECCA'S REMINISCENCES 

much about it until once, after father had mort- 
gaged the farm, there was going to be a sociable 
in Temperance village. Mother could not go as 
Jenny had whooping-cough and Mark had just 
broken his arm, and when she was tying father's 
necktie, the last thing before he started, he said ; 
*' I wish, Aurelia, that you cared a little ahoutj/our 
appearance and ^^^r dress : it goes a long way with 
a man like me." 

Mother had finished the tie, and her hands 
dropped suddenly. I looked at her eyes and mouth 
while she looked at father and in a minute I was 
ever so old, with a grown-up ache in my heart. It 
has always stayed there, although I admired my 
handsome father and was proud of him because he 
was so talented ; but now that I am older and have 
thought about things, my love for mother is differ- 
ent from what it used to be. Father was always 
the favorite when we were little, he was so inter- 
esting, and I wonder sometimes if we don't remem- 
ber interesting people longer and better than we 
do those who are just good and patient. If so it 
seems very cruel. 

As I look back I see that Miss Ross, the artist 
who brought me my pink parasol from Paris, sowed 
the first seeds in me of ambition to do something 
special. Her life seemed so beautiful and so easy 
to a child. I had not been to school then, or read 

245 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

George Macdonald, so I did not know that " Ease 
is the lovely result of forgotten toil." 

Miss Ross sat out of doors and painted lovely 
things, and everybody said how wonderful they 
were, and bought them straight away ; and she 
took care of a blind father and two brothers, and 
traveled wherever she wished. It comes back to 
me now, that summer when I was ten and Miss 
Ross painted me sitting by the mill-wheel while 
she talked to me of foreign countries ! 

The other day Miss Maxwell read something 
from Browning's poems to the girls of her literature 
class. It was about David the shepherd boy W'to 
used to lie in his hollow watching one eagle " wheel- 
ing slow as in sleep." He used to wonder about 
the wide world that the eagle beheld, the eagle that 
was stretching his wings so far up in the blue, 
while he, the poor shepherd boy, could see only the 
"strip 'twixt the hill and the sky ; " for he lay in a 
hollow. 

I told Mr. Baxter about it the next day, which 
was the Saturday before I joined the church. I 
asked him if it was wicked to long to see as much 
as the eagle saw } 

There was never anybody quite like Mr. Baxter. 

"Rebecca dear," he said, "it may be that you 
need not alA^ays lie in a hollow, as the shepherd 
boy did ; but wherever you lie, that little strip you 

246 



REBECCA^S REMINISCENCES 

see * 'twixt the hill and the sky ' is able to hold all 
of earth and all of heaven, if only you have the 
right sort of vision." 

I was a long, long time about "experiencing re- 
ligion." I remember Sunday afternoons at the brick 
house the first winter after I went there ; when I 
used to sit in the middle of the dining-room as 
I was bid, silent and still, with the big family Bible 
on my knees. Aunt Miranda had Baxter's *' Saints' 
Rest," but her seat was by the window, and she at 
least could give a glance into the street now and 
then without being positively wicked. 

Aunt Jane used to read the ** Pilgrim's Pro- 
gress." The fire burned low ; the tall clock ticked, 
ticked, so slowly and steadily, that the pictures 
swam before my eyes and I almost fell asleep. 

They thought by shutting everything else out 
that I should see God ; but I did n't, not once. I 
was so homesick for Sunnybrook and John that 
I could hardly learn my weekly hymns, especially 
the sad, long one beginning : — 

** My thoughts on awful subjects roll, 
Damnation and the dead." 

It was brother John for whom I was chiefly 
homesick on Sunday afternoons, because at Sunny- 
brook Farm father was dead and mother was always 
busy, and Hannah never liked to talk. 

Then the next year the missionaries from Syria 

247 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

came to Riverboro ; and at the meeting Mr. Burch 
saw me playing the melodeon, and thought I was 
grown up and a church member, and so he asked 
me to lead in prayer. 

I did n't dare to refuse, and when I prayed, which 
was just like thinking out loud, I found I could talk 
to God a great deal easier than to Aunt Miranda 
or even to Uncle Jerry Cobb. There were things 
I could say to Him that I could never say to any- 
body else, and saying them always made me happy 
and contented. 

When Mr. Baxter asked me last year about join- 
ing the church, I told him I was afraid I did not 
understand God quite well enough to be a real 
member. 

" So you don't quite understand God, Rebecca } " 
he asked, smiling. "Well, there is something else 
much more important, which is, that He under- 
stands you ! He understands your feeble love, your 
longings, desires, hopes, faults, ambitions, crosses ; 
and that, after all, is what counts ! Of course you 
don't understand Him ! You are overshadowed by 
His love. His power. His benignity, His wisdom ; 
that is as it should be ! Why, Rebecca, dear, if 
you could stand erect and unabashed in God's pre- 
sence, as one who perfectly comprehended His na- 
ture or His purposes, it would be sacrilege! Don't 
be puzzled out of your blessed inheritance of faith, 

248 



REBECCA'S REMINISCENCES 

my child ; accept God easily and naturally, just as 
He accepts you ! " 

"God never puzzled me, Mr. Baxter; it isn't 
that," I said; "but the doctrines do worry me 
dreadfully." 

" Let them alone for the present," Mr. Baxter 
said. "Anyway, Rebecca, you can never prove 
God ; you can only find Him ! " 

" Then do you think I have really experienced 
religion, Mr. Baxter.?" I asked. "Am I the begin- 
nings of a Christian ? " 

" You are a dear child of the understanding 
God!" Mr. Baxter said; and I say it over to my- 
self night and morning so that I can never for- 
get it. 

^ V 9|C Tq^ ^ ^ ^ ^|C tIc 

The year is nearly over and the next few months 
will be lived in the rush and the whirlwind of work 
that comes before graduation. The bell for philo- 
sophy class will ring in ten minutes, and as I have 
been writing for nearly two hours, I must learn my 
lesson going up the Academy hill. It will not be 
the first time ; it is a grand hill for learning ! I 
suppose after fifty years or so the very ground has 
become soaked with knowledge, and every particle 
of air in the vicinity is crammed with useful infor- 
mation. 

I will put my book into my trunk (having no 

249 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

blessed haymow hereabouts) and take it out again, 
— when shall I take it out again ? 

After graduation perhaps I shall be too grown 
up and too busy to write in a Thought Book ; buf 
oh, if only something would happen worth putting 
down ; something strange ; something unusual ; 
something different from the things that happen 
every day in Riverboro and Edgewood ! 

Graduation will surely take me a little out of 
"the hollow," — make me a little more like the 
soaring eagle, gazing at the whole wide world be- 
neath him while he wheels "slow as in sleep." But 
whether or no, I '11 try not to be a discontented 
shepherd, but remember what Mr. Baxter said, 
that the little strip that I see " 'twixt the hill and 
the sky " is able to hold all of earth and all of hea- 
ven, if only I have the eyes to see it. 

Rebecca Rowena Randalju 

Wareham Female Seminary, December 187-% 



Eleventh Chronicle 

ABIJAH THE BRAVE AND THE 
FAIR EMMAJANE 

I 

** A warrior so bold and a maiden so bright 

Conversed as they sat on the green. 
They gazed at each other in tender delight. 
Alonzo the brave was the name of the knight, 

And the maid was the fair Imogene. 

** * Alas ! * said the youth, * since tomorrow I go 

To fight in a far distant land, 
Your tears for my absence soon ceasing to flow, 
Some other will court you, and you will bestow 

On a wealthier suitor your hand.' 

" * Oh, hush these suspicions ! ' Fair Imogene said, 

• So hurtful to love and to me 1 
For if you be living, or if you be dead, 
I swear by the Virgin that none in your stead 

Shall the husband of Imogene be 1 ' " 

EVER since she was eight years old Rebecca 
had wished to be eighteen, but now that 
she was within a month of that awe-inspir- 
ing and long-desired age she wondered if, after all, 
it was destined to be a turning-point in her quiet 
existence. Her eleventh year, for instance, had 
been a real turning-point, since it was then that 

251 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

she had left Sunnybrook Farm and come to her 
maiden aunts in Riverboro. Aurelia Randall may 
have been doubtful as to the effect upon her spin- 
ster sisters of the irrepressible child, but she was 
hopeful from the first that the larger opportunities 
of Riverboro would be the " making " of Rebecca 
herself. 

The next turning-point was her fourteenth year, 
when she left the district school for the Wareham 
Female Seminary, then in the hey-day of its local 
fame. Graduation (next to marriage, perhaps, the 
most thrilling episode in the life of a little country 
girl) happened at seventeen, and not long after- 
ward her Aunt Miranda's death, sudden and un- 
expected, changed not only all the outward activities 
and conditions of her life, but played its own part 
in her development. 

The brick house looked very homelike and pleas- 
ant on a June morning nowadays, with children's 
faces smiling at the windows and youthful footsteps 
sounding through the halls : and the brass knocker 
on the red-painted front door might have remem- 
bered Rebecca's prayer of a year before, when she 
leaned against its sun-warmed brightness and 
whispered: "God bless Aunt Miranda; God bless 
the brick house that was ; God bless the brick 
house that 's going to be ! " 

All the doors and blinds were open to the sun and 

252 



ABIJAH THE BRAVE 

air as they had never been in Miss Miranda Saw' 
yer's time. The hollyhock bed that had been her 
chief pride was never neglected, and Rebecca liked 
to hear the neighbors say that there was no such 
row of beautiful plants and no such variety of beau- 
tiful colors in Riverboro, as those that climbed up 
and peeped in at the kitchen windows where old 
Miss Miranda used to sit. 

Now that the place was her very own Rebeccafelt 
a passion of pride in its smoothly mown fields, its 
carefully thinned-out woods, its blooming garden 
spots, and its well-weeded vegetable patch ; felt, too, 
whenever she looked at any part of it, a passion of 
gratitude to the stern old aunt who had looked 
upon her as the future head of the family, as well as 
a passion of desire to be worthy of that trust. 

It had been a very difficult year for a girl fresh 
from school : the death of her aunt, the nursing of 
Miss Jane, prematurely enfeebled by the shock, the 
removd of her own invalid mother and the rest of 
the little family from Sunnybrook Farm. But all 
had gone smoothly ; and when once the Randall 
fortunes had taken an upward turn nothing seemed 
able to stop their intrepid ascent. 

Aurelia Randall renewed her youth in the com- 
panionship of her sister Jane and the comforts b} 
which her children were surrounded ; the mort- 
gage was no longer a daily terror, for Sunnybrook 

253 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

had been sold to the new railroad ; Hannah, now 
Mrs. Will Melville, was happily situated ; John, at 
last, was studying medicine ; Mark, the boisterous 
and unlucky brother, had broken no bones for sev- 
eral months ; while Jenny and Fanny were doing 
well at the district school under Miss Libby Moses, 
Miss Dearborn's successor. 

" I don't feel very safe," thought Rebecca, 
remembering all these unaccustomed mercies as 
she sat on the front doorsteps, with her tatting 
shuttle flying in and out of the fine cotton like a 
hummingbird. "It's just like one of those too 
beautiful July days that winds up with a thunder- 
shower before night ! Still, when you remember 
that the Randalls never had anything but thunder 
and lightning, rain, snow, and hail, in their family 
history for twelve or fifteen years, perhaps it is 
only natural that they should enjoy a little spell of 
settled weather. If it really turns out to be settled, 
now that Aunt Jane and mother are strong again I 
must be looking up one of what Mr. Aladdin calls 
my 'cast-off careers.' — There comes Emma Jane 
Perkins through her front gate ; she will be here in 
a minute, and I'll tease her!" and Rebecca ran 
in the door and seated herself at the old piano that 
Btood between the open windows in the parlor. 

Peeping from behind the muslin curtains, she 
waited until Emma Jane was on the very threshold 

254 



AEiJAH THE BRAVE 

and then began singing her version of an old bal- 
lad, made that morning while she was dressing. 
The ballad was a great favorite of hers, and she 
counted on doing telling execution with it in the 
present instance by the simple subterfuge of re- 
moving the original hero and heroine, Alonzo and 
Imogene, and substituting Abijah the Brave and 
the Fair Emmajane, leaving the circumstances in 
the first three verses unaltered, because in truth 
they seemed to require no alteration. 

Her high, clear voice, quivering with merriment, 
floated through the windows into the still summer air : 

"A warrior so bold and a maiden so bright 

Conversed as they sat on the green. 
They gazed at each other in tender delight. 
Abijah the Brave was the name of the knight, 

And the maid was the Fair Emmajane." 

"Rebecca Randall, stop! Somebody 'II hear 
you ! " 

"No, they won't — they're making jelly in the 
kitchen, miles away." 

" • Alas ! ' said the youth, ' since to-morrow I go 

To fight in a far distant land, 
Your tears for my absence soon ceasing to flow, 
Some other will court you, and you will bestow 

On a wealthier suitor your hand.' " 

" Rebecca, you can't think how your voice car- 
ries ! I believe mother can hear it over to my 
house ! " 

255 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

"Then, if she can, I must sing the third verse, 
just to clear your reputation from the cloud cast 
upon it in the second," laughed her tormentor, 
going on with the song : — 

'* * Oh, hush these suspicions ! ' Fair Emmajane said, 

' So hurtful to love and to me I 
For if you be living, or if you be dead, 
I swear, my Abijah, that none in your stead, 

Shall the husband of Emmajane be ! ' " 

After ending the third verse Rebecca wheeled 
around on the piano-stool and confronted her friend, 
who was carefully closing the parlor windows : — 

"Emma Jane Perkins, it is an ordinary Thurs- 
day afternoon at four o'clock and you have on 
your new blue barege, although there is not even 
a church sociable in prospect this evening. What 
does this mean? Is Abijah the Brave coming at 
last ? " 

" I don't know certainly, but it will be some time 
this week." 

"And of course you'd rather be dressed up and 
not seen, than seen when not dressed up. Right, 
my Fair Emmajane ; so would I. Not that it makes 
any difference to poor me, wearing my fourth best 
black and white calico and expecting nobody." 

" Oh, well, j^^?^ ! There *s something inside of you 
that does instead of pretty dresses," cried Emma 
Jane, whose adoration of her friend had never al- 

256 




IS ABIJAH THE BRAVE COMING AT LAST? 



ABIJAH THE BRAVE 

tered nor lessened since they met at the age of 
eleven. "You know you are as different from 
anybody else in Riverboro as a princess in a fairy 
story. Libby Moses says they would notice you in 
Lowell, Massachusetts ! " 

" Would they ? I wonder," speculated Rebecca, 
rendered almost speechless by this tribute to her 
charms. ''Well, if Lowell, Massachusetts, could see 
me, or if you could see me, in my new lavender 
muslin with the violet sash, it would die of envy, 
and so would you ! " 

** If I had been going to be envious of you, Re- 
becca, I should have died years ago. Come, let *s go 
out on the steps where it 's shady and cool." 

"And where we can see the Perkins front gate 
and the road running both ways," teased Rebecca, 
and then, softening her tone, she said : " How is it 
getting on, Emmy.^ Tell me what's happened 
since I 've been in Brunswick." 

"Nothing much," confessed Emma Jane. "He 
writes to me, but I don't write to him, you know. 
I don't dare to, till he comes to the house." 

" Are his letters still in Latin ? " asked Rebecca, 
with a twinkling eye. 

"Oh, no! not now, because — well, because there 
are things you can't seem to write in Latin. I saw 
him at the Masonic picnic in the grove, but he 
won't say anything jral to me till he gets more pay 

257 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

and dares to speak to mother and father. He is 
brave in all other ways, but I ain't sure he '11 ever 
have the courage for that, he 's so afraid of them 
and always has been. Just remember what 's in his 
mind all the time, Rebecca, that my folks know all 
about what his mother was, and how he was born 
on the poor-farm. Not that I care; look how he 's 
educated and worked himself up ! I think he 's per- 
fectly elegant, and I should n't mind if he had been 
born in the bulrushes, like Moses." 

Emma Jane's every-day vocabulary was pretty 
much what it had been before she went to the 
expensive Wareham Female Seminary. She had 
acquired a certain amount of information concern- 
ing the art of speech, but in moments of strong 
•feeling she lapsed into the vernacular. She grew 
slowly in all directions, did Emma Jane, and, to 
use Rebecca's favorite nautilus figure, she had left 
comparatively few outgrown shells on the shores of 
"life's unresting sea." 

"Moses wasn't born in the bulrushes, Emmy 
dear,'* corrected Rebecca laughingly. "Pharaoh's 
daughter found him there. It was n't quite as ro- 
mantic a scene — Squire Bean's wife taking little 
Abijah Flagg from the poorhouse when his girl- 
mother died, but, oh, I think Abijah's splendid ! Mr. 
Ladd says Riverboro '11 be proud of him yet, and I 
should n't wonder, Emmy dear, if you had a three- 

258 



ABIJAH THE BRAVE 

story house with a cupola on it, some day ; and, 
sitting down at your mahogany desk inlaid with 
garnets, you will write notes stating that Mrs. 
Abijah Flagg requests the pleasure of Miss Re- 
becca Randall's company to tea, and that the Hon. 
Abijah Flagg, M. C, will call for her on his way 
from the station with a span of horses and the tur- 
quoise carryall !** 

Emma Jane laughed at the ridiculous prophecy, 
and answered : " If I ever write the invitation I 
shan't be addressing it to Miss Randall, I 'm sure 
of that ; it '11 be to Mrs. " 

"Don't!" cried Rebecca impetuously, changing 
color and putting her hand over Emma Jane's lips. 
" If you won't I '11 stop teasing. I could n't bear a 
name put to anything, I could n't, Emmy dear ! I 
would n't tease you, either, if it weren't something 
we 've both known ever so long — something that 
you have always consulted me about of your own 
accord, and Abijah too." 

"Don't get excited," replied Emma Jane, "I was 
only going to say you were sure to be Mrs. Some- 
body in course of time." 

" Oh," said Rebecca with a relieved sigh, her 
color coming back ; "if that's all you meant, just 
nonsense ; but I thought, I thought — I don't really 
know just what I thought ! " 

** I think you thought something you did n't want 

259 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

me to think you thought," said Emma Jane with 
unusual felicity. 

** No, it 's not that ; but somehow, to-day, I have 
been remembering things. Perhaps it was because 
at breakfast Aunt Jane and mother reminded me 
of my coming birthday and said that Squire Bean 
would give me the deed of the brick house. That 
made me feel very old and responsible ; and when 
I came out on the steps this afternoon it was just 
as if pictures of the old years were moving up 
and down the road. Everything is so beautiful 
to-day ! Does n't the sky look as if it had been 
dyed blue and the fields painted pink and green 
and yellow this very minute ? " 

"It 's a perfectly elegant day ! " responded Emma 
Jane with a sigh. " If only my mind was at rest ! 
That *s the difference between being young and 
grown-up. We never used to think and worry." 

" Indeed we did n't ! Look, Emmy, there 's the 
very spot where Uncle Jerry Cobb stopped the 
stage and I stepped out with my pink parasol and 
my bouquet of purple lilacs, and you were watching 
me from your bedroom window and wondering 
what I had in mother's little hair trunk strapped 
on behind. Poor Aunt Miranda did n't love me at 
first sight, and oh, how cross she was the first two 
years ! But now every hard thought I ever had 
comes back to me and cuts like a knife ! " 

260 



ABIJAH THE BRAVE 

'* She was dreadful hard to get along with, and 
I used to hate her like poison," confessed Emma 
Jane ; " but I am sorry now. She was kinder to- 
ward the last, anyway, and then, you see children 
know so little ! We never suspected she was sick 
or that she was worrying over that lost interest 
money." 

" That 's the trouble. People seem hard and un- 
reasonable and unjust, and we can't help being hurt 
at the time, but if they die we forget everything 
but our own angry speeches ; somehow we never 
remember theirs. And oh, Emma Jane, there 's 
another such a sweet little picture out there in the 
road. The next day after I came to Riverboro, do 
you remember, I stole out of the brick house cry- 
ing, and leaned against the front gate. You pushed 
your little fat pink -and -white face through the 
pickets and said : * Don't cry ! I '11 kiss you if you 
will me ! ' " 

Lumps rose suddenly in Emma Jane's throat, 
and she put her arm around Rebecca's waist as they 
sat together side by side. 

"Oh, I do remember," she said in a choking 
voice. "And I can see the two of us driving over 
to North Riverboro and selling soap to Mr. Adam 
Ladd ; and lighting up the premium banquet-lamp 
at the Simpson party ; and laying the daisies round 
Jacky Winslow's mother when she was dead in the 

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NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

cabin ; and trundling Jacky up and down the 
street in our old baby-carriage ! " 

"And I remember you," continued Rebecca, 
" being chased down the hill by Jacob Moody, 
when we were being Daughters of Zion and you 
had been chosen to convert him ! " 

*' And I remember you, getting the flag back 
from Mr. Simpson ; and how you looked when you 
spoke your verses at the flag-raising." 

*' And have you forgotten the week I refused to 
speak to Abijah Flagg because he fished my turban 
with the porcupine quills out of the river when I 
hoped at last that I had lost it ! Oh, Emma Jane, 
we had dear good times together in the * little 
harbor.'" 

" I always thought that was an elegant composi- 
tion of yours — that farewell to the class," said 
Emma Jane. 

"The strong tide bears us on, out of the little 
harbor of childhood into the unknown seas," re- 
called Rebecca. ** It is bearing you almost out of 
my sight, Emmy, these last days, when you put 
on a new dress in the afternoon and look out of 
the window instead of coming across the street. 
Abijah Flagg never used to be in the little harbor 
with the rest of us ; when did he first sail in, 
Emmy } " 

Emma Jane grew a deeper pink and her button- 

262 



ABIJAH THE BRAVE 

hole of a mouth quivered with delicious excite- 
ment. 

** It was last year at the seminary, when he wrote 
me his first Latin letter from Limerick Academy," 
she said in a half whisper. 

"I remember," laughed Rebecca. *'You sud- 
denly began the study of the dead languages, and 
the Latin dictionary took the place of the crochet- 
needle in your affections. It was cruel of you never 
to show me that letter, Emmy!" 

"I know every word of it by heart," said the 
blushing Emma Jane, "and I think I really ought 
to say it to you, because it's the only way you will 
ever know how perfectly elegant Abijah is. Look 
the other way, Rebecca. Shall I have to translate 
it for you, do you think, because it seems to me I 
could not bear to do that !" 

** It depends upon Abijah's Latin and your pro- 
nunciation," teased Rebecca, "Go on; I will turn 
my eyes toward the orchard." 

The Fair Emmajane, looking none too old still 
for the "little harbor," but almost too young for 
the "unknown seas," gathered up her courage and 
recited like a tremulous parrot the boyish love- 
letter that had so fired her youthful imagination : 

"Vale, carissima, carissima puella ! " repeated 
Rebecca in her musical voice. " Oh, how beau- 
tiful it sounds! I don't wonder it altered your 

^63 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

feeling for Abijah ! Upon my word, Emma Jane," 
she cried with a sudden change of tone, " if I had 
suspected for an instant that Abijah the Brave 
had that Latin letter in him I should have tried to 
get him to write it to me ; and then it would be I 
who would sit down at my mahogany desk and ask 
Miss Perkins to come to tea with Mrs. Flagg." 

Emma Jane paled and shuddered openly. " I 
speak as a church member, Rebecca," she said, 
*'when I tell you I 've always thanked the Lord that 
you never looked at Abijah Flagg and he never 
looked at you. If either of you ever had, there 
never would have been a chance for me, and I 've 
always known it ! " 

II 

The romance alluded to in the foregoing chapter 
had been going on, so far as Abijah Flagg's part 
of it was concerned, for many years, his affection 
dating back in his own mind to the first moment 
that he saw Emma Jane Perkins at the age of nine. 

Emma Jane had shown no sign of reciprocating 
his attachment until the last three years, when the 
evolution of the chore-boy into the budding scholar 
and man of affairs had inflamed even her some- 
what dull imagination. 

Squire Bean's wife had taken Abijah away from 
the poorhouse, thinking that she could make him 

264 



ABIJAH THE BRAVE 

of some little use in her home. Abbie Flagg, the 
mother, was neither wise nor beautiful ; it is to be 
feared that she was not even good, and her lack of 
all these desirable qualities, particularly the last 
one, had been impressed upon the child ever since 
he could remember. People seemed to blame 
him for being in the world at all ; this world that 
had not expected him nor desired him, nor made 
any provision for him. The great battle-axe of 
poorhouse opinion was forever leveled at the mere 
little atom of innocent transgression, until he grew 
sad and shy, clumsy, stiff, and self-conscious. He 
had an indomitable craving for love in his heart 
and had never received a caress in his life. 

He was more contented when he came to Squire 
Bean's house. The first year he could only pick up 
chips, carry pine wood into the kitchen, go to the 
post-office, run errands, drive the cows, and feed 
the hens, but every day he grew more and more 
useful. 

His only friend was little Jim Watson, the store- 
keeper 's son, and they were inseparable companions 
whenever Abijah had time for play. 

One never-to-be-forgotten July day a new family 
moved into the white cottage between Squire 
"Bean's house and the Sawyers'. Mr. Perkins had 
sold his farm beyond North Riverboro and had es- 
tablished a blacksmith's shop in the village, at the 

26a 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

Edgewood end of the bridge. This fact was of no 
special interest to the nine-year-old Abijah, but 
what really was of importance, was the appearance 
of a pretty little girl of seven in the front yard ; a 
pretty little fat doll of a girl, with bright fuzzy hair, 
pink cheeks, blue eyes, and a smile of almost be- 
wildering continuity. Another might have criticised 
it as having the air of being glued on, but Abijah 
was already in the toils and never wished it to 
move. 

The next day being the glorious Fourth and a 
holiday, Jimmy Watson came over like David, to 
visit his favorite Jonathan. His Jonathan met 
him at the top of the hill, pleaded a pressing en- 
gagement, curtly sent him home, and then went 
back to play with his new idol, with whom he had 
already scraped acquaintance, her parents being ex- 
ceedingly busy settling the new house. 

After the noon dinner Jimmy again yearned to 
resume friendly relations, and, forgetting his rebuff, 
again toiled up the hill and appeared unexpectedly 
at no great distance from the Perkins premises, 
wearing the broad and beaming smile of one who 
is confident of welcome. 

His morning call had been officious and unpleas- 
ant and unsolicited, but his afternoon visit could 
only be regarded as impudent, audacious, and posi- 
tively dangerous ; for Abijah and Emma Jane were 

266 



ABIJAH THE BRAVE 

cosily playing house, the game of all others in which 
it is particularly desirable to have two and not three 
participants. 

At that moment the nature of Abijah changed, 
at once and forever. Without a pang of conscience 
he flew over the intervening patch of ground be- 
tween himself and his dreaded rival, and seizing 
small stones and larger ones, as haste and fury de- 
manded, flung them at Jimmy Watson, and flung 
and flung, till the bewildered boy ran down the hill 
howling. Then he made a " stickin' " door to the 
play-house, put the awed Emma Jane inside, and 
strode up and down in front of the edifice like an 
Indian brave. At such an early age does woman 
become a distracting and disturbing influence L, 
man's career! 

Time went on, and so did the rivalry between 
the poorhouse boy and the son of wealth, but Abi- 
jah's chances of friendship with Emma Jane grew 
fewer and fewer as they both grew older. He did 
not go to school, so there was no meeting-ground 
there, but sometimes, when he saw the knot of 
boys and girls returning in the afternoon, he would 
invite Elijah and Elisha, the Simpson twins, to 
visit him, and take pains to be in Squire Bean's 
front yard doing something that might impress his 
inamorata as she passed the premises. 

As Jimmy Watson was particularly small and 

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NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

fragile, Abijah generally chose feats of strength 
and skill for these prearranged performances. 

Sometimes he would throw his hat up into the 
elm-trees as far as he could and, when it came 
down, catch it on his head. Sometimes he would 
walk on his hands, with his legs wriggling in the 
air, or turn a double somersault, or jump incredi- 
ble distances across the extended arms of the 
Simpson twins ; and his bosom swelled with pride 
when the girls exclaimed, "Isn't he splendid!" 
although he often heard his rival murmur scornfully, 
** Smarty Aleck ! " — a scathing allusion of unknown 
origin. 

Squire Bean, although he did not send the boy 
to school (thinking, as he was of no possible im- 
portance in the universe, it was not worth while 
bothering about his education), finally became im- 
pressed with his ability, lent him books, and gave 
him more time to study. These were all he needed, 
books and time, and when there was an especially 
hard knot to untie, Rebecca, as the star scholar of 
the neighborhood, helped him to untie it. 

When he was sixteen he longed to go away from 
Riverboro and be something better than a chore- 
boy. Squire Bean had been giving him small wages 
for three or four years, and when the time of part' 
ing came presented him with a ten-dollar bill and 
a silver watch. 

268 



ABIJAH THE BRAVE 

Many a time had he discussed his future with 
Rebecca and asked her opinion. 

This was not strange, for there was nothing in 
human form that she could not and did not con- 
verse with, easily and delightedly. She had ideas 
on every conceivable subject, and would have cheer- 
fully advised the minister if he had asked her. The 
fishman consulted her when he could n't endure 
his mother-in-law another minute in the house ; 
Uncle Jerry Cobb did n't part with his river field 
until he had talked it over with Rebecca ; and as 
for Aunt Jane, she could n't decide whether to 
wear her black merino or her gray thibet unless 
Rebecca cast the final vote. 

Abijah wanted to go far away from Riverboro, 
as far as Limerick Academy, which was at least 
fifteen miles; but although this seemed extreme, 
Rebecca agreed, saying pensively : " There is a 
kind of magicness about going far away and then 
coming back all changed." 

This was precisely Abijah's unspoken thought. 
Limerick knew nothing of Abbie Flagg's worth- 
lessness, birth, and training, and the awful stigma of 
his poorhouse birth, so that he would start fair. He 
could have gone to Wareham and thus remained 
within daily sight of the beloved Emma Jane ; but 
no, he was not going to permit her to watch him in 
the process of "becoming," but after he had "be- 

269 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

come " something. He did not propose to take any 
risks after all these years of silence and patience. 
Not he ! He proposed to disappear, like the moon 
on a dark night, and as he was, at present, some- 
thing that Mr. Perkins would by no means have in 
the family nor Mrs. Perkins allow in the house, he 
would neither return to Riverboro nor ask any fa- 
vors of them until he had something to offer. Yes, 
sir. He was going to be crammed to the eyebrows 
with learning for one thing, — useless kinds and all, 
— going to have good clothes, and a good income. 
Everything that was in his power should be right, 
because there would always be lurking in the back- 
ground the things he never could help — the 
mother and the poorhouse. 

So he went away, and although at Squire Bean's 
invitation he came back the first year for two brief 
visits at Christmas and Easter, he was little seen 
in Riverboro, for Mr. Ladd finally found him a 
place where he could make his vacations profitable 
and learn bookkeeping at the same time. 

The visits in Riverboro were tantalizing rather 
than pleasant. He was invited to two parties, but 
he was all the time conscious of his shirt-collar, and 
he was sure that his "pants" were not the proper 
thing, for by this time his ideals of dress had at- 
tained an almost unrealizable height. As for his 
shoes, he felt that he walked on carpets as if they 

270 



ABIJAH THE BRAVE 

were furrows and he were propelling a plow or a 
harrow before him. They played Drop the Hand- 
kerchief and Copenhagen at the parties, but he 
had not had the audacity to kiss Emma Jane, which 
was bad enough, but Jimmy had and did, which was 
infinitely worse ! The sight of James Watson's un- 
worthy and over-ambitious lips on Emma Jane's 
pink cheek almost destroyed his faith in an over- 
ruling Providence. 

After the parties were over he went back to his 
old room in Squire Bean's shed chamber. As he 
lay in bed his thoughts fluttered about Emma Jane 
as swallows circle around the eaves. The terrible 
sickness of hopeless handicapped love kept him 
awake. Once he crawled out of bed in the night, 
lighted the lamp, and looked for his mustache, 
remembering that he had seen a suspicion of down 
on his rival's upper lip. He rose again half an hour 
later, again lighted the lamp, put a few drops of oil 
on his hair, and brushed it violently for several 
minutes. Then he went back to bed, and after 
making up his mind that he would buy a dulcimer 
and learn to play on it so that he would be more 
attractive at parties, and outshine his rival in so- 
ciety as he had aforetime in athletics, he finally 
sank into a troubled slumber. 

Those days, so full of hope and doubt and tor- 
ture, seemed mercifully unreal now, they lay so far 

271 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

back in the past — six or eight years, in fact, which 
is a lifetime to the lad of twenty — and meantime 
he had conquered many of the adverse circum- 
stances that had threatened to cloud his career. 

Abijah Flagg was a true child of his native State. 
Something of the same timber that Maine puts into 
her forests, something of the same strength and 
resisting power that she works into her rocks, goes 
into her sons and daughters ; and at twenty Abijah 
was going to take his fate in his hand and ask Mr. 
Perkins, the rich blacksmith, if, after a suitable 
period of probation (during which he would further 
prepare himself for his exalted destiny), he might 
marry the fair Emma Jane, sole heiress of the Per- 
kins house and fortunes. 

Ill 

This was boy and girl love, calf love, perhaps, 
though even that may develop into something 
larger, truer, and finer; but not so far away were 
other and very different hearts growing and bud- 
ding, each in its own way. There was little Miss 
Dearborn, the pretty school-teacher, drifting into a 
foolish alliance because she did not agree with 
her stepmother at home ; there was Herbert Dunn, 
valedictorian of his class, dazzled by Huldah Me- 
serve, who like a glowworm "shone afar off bright, 
but looked at near, had neither heat nor light." 

272 



ABIJAH THE BRAVE 

Theiw was sweet Emily Maxwell, less than thirty 
still, with most of her heart bestowed in the wrong 
quarter. She was toiling on at the Wareham school, 
living as unselfish a life as a nun in a convent ; 
lavishing the mind and soul of her, the heart and 
body of her, on her chosen work. How many 
women give themselves thus, consciously and un- 
consciously ; and, though they themselves miss the 
joys and compensations of mothering their own lit- 
tle twos and threes, God must be grateful to them 
for their mothering of the hundreds which make 
them so precious in His regenerating purposes. 

Then there was Adam Ladd, waiting at thirty- 
five for a girl to grow a little older, simply be- 
cause he could not find one already grown who 
suited his somewhat fastidious and exacting tastes. 

" I '11 not call Rebecca perfection," he quoted 
once, in a letter to Emily Maxwell, — " I '11 not call 
her perfection, for that 's a post, afraid to move. 
But she 's a dancing sprig of the tree next it." 

When first she appeared on his aunt's piazza 
m North Riverboro and insisted on selling him a 
large quantity of very inferior soap in order that 
her friends, the Simpsons, might possess a pre- 
mium in the shape of a greatly needed banquet 
"amp, she had riveted his attention. He thought 
at the time that he enjoyed talking with her more 
ihan with any woman alive, and he had never 

273 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

changed his opinion. She always caught what he 
said as if it were a ball tossed to her, and some- 
times her mind, as through it his thoughts came 
back to him, seemed like a prism which had dyed 
them with deeper colors. 

Adam Ladd always called Rebecca in his heart 
his little Spring. His boyhood had been lonely and 
unhappy. That was the part of life he had missed, 
and although it was the full summer of success 
and prosperity with him now, he found his lost 
youth only in her. 

She was to him — how shall I describe it ? 

Do you remember an early day in May with 
^".dding leaf, warm earth, tremulous air, and 
iianging, willful sky — how new it seemed } how 
fresh and joyous beyond all explaining.? 

Have you lain with half-closed eyes where the 
flickering of sunlight through young leaves, the 
song of birds and brook and the fragrance of wild 
flowers combined to charm your senses, and you 
felt the sweetness and grace of nature as never 
before } 

Rebecca was springtide to Adam's thirsty heart. 
She was blithe youth incarnate ; she was music — 
an -^olian harp that every passing breeze woke 
to some whispering little tune ; she was a chan- 
ging, iridescent joy-bubble ; she was the shadow 
of a leaf dancing across a dusty floor. No bough 

274 



ABIJAH THE BRAVE 

of his thought could be so bare but she somehow 
built a nest in it and evoked life where none was 
before. 

And Rebecca herself ? 

She had been quite unconscious of all this until 
very lately, and even now she was but half awak- 
ened; searching among her childish instincts and 
her girlish dreams for some Ariadne thread that 
should guide her safely through the labyrinth of her 
new sensations. 

For the moment she was absorbed, or thought 
she was, in the little love story of Abijah and Emma 
Jane, but in reality, had she realized it, that love 
story served chiefly as a basis of comparison for a 
possible one of her own, later on. 

She liked and respected Abijah Flagg, and lov- 
ing Emma Jane was a habit contracted early in life; 
but everything that they did or said, or thought or 
wrote, or hoped or feared, seemed so inadequate, so 
painfully short of what might be done or said, or 
thought or written, or hoped or feared, under easily 
conceivable circumstances, that she almost felt a 
disposition to smile gently at the fancy of the igno- 
rant young couple that they had caught a glimpse 
of the great vision. 

She was sitting under the sweet-apple tree at 
twilight. Supper was over; Mark's restless feet 
were quiet, Fanny and Jenny were tucked safely in 

27s 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

bed ; her aunt and her mother were stemming cur- 
rants on the side porch. 

A blue spot at one of the Perkins windows 
showed that in one vestal bosom hope was not dead 
yet, although it was seven o'clock. 

Suddenly there was the sound of a horse's feet 
coming up the quiet road ; plainly a steed hired 
from some metropolis like Milltown or Wareham, 
as Riverboro horses when through with their day's 
work never disported themselves so gayly. 

A little open vehicle came in sight, and in it sat 
Abijah Flagg. The wagon was so freshly painted 
and so shiny that Rebecca thought that he must 
have alighted at the bridge and given it a last 
polish. The creases in his trousers, too, had an air 
of having been pressed in only a few minutes be- 
fore. The whip was new and had a yellow ribbon 
on it ; the gray suit of clothes was new, and the 
coat flourished a flower in its button-hole. The 
hat was the latest thing in hats, and the intrepid 
swain wore a seal-ring on the little finger of his 
right hand. As Rebecca remembered that she had 
guided it in making capital G's in his copy-book, 
she felt positively maternal, although she was two 
years younger than Abijah the Brave. 

He drove up to the Perkins gate and was so long 
about hitching the horse that Rebecca's heart beat 
tumultuously at the thought of Emma Jane's heart 

276 



ABIJAH THE BRAVE 

waiting under the blue barege. Then he brushed 
an imaginary speck off his sleeve, then he drew on 
a pair of buff kid gloves, then he went up the path, 
Tapped at the knocker, and went in. 

" Not all the heroes go to the wars," thought 
Rebecca. " Abijah has laid the ghost of his father 
and redeemed the memory of his mother, for no 
one will dare say again that Abbie Flagg's son 
could never amount to anything ! " 

The minutes went by, and more minutes, and 
more. The tranquil dusk settled down over the 
little village street and the young moon came out 
just behind the top of the Perkins pine-tree. 

The Perkins front door opened and Abijah the 
Brave came out hand in hand with his Fair Emma- 
jane. 

They walked through the orchard, the eyes of 
the old couple following them from the window, 
and just as they disappeared down the green slope 
that led to the riverside the gray coat-sleeve en- 
circled the blue barege waist. 

Rebecca, quivering with instant sympathy and 
comprehension, hid her face in her hands. 

" Emmy has sailed away and I am all alone in 
the little harbor," she thought. 

It was as if childhood, like a thing real and vis- 
ible, were slipping down the grassy river-banks, 
after Abijah and Emma Jane, and disappearing 

277 



NEW CHRONICLES OF REBECCA 

like them into the moon-lit shadows of the summer 
night. 

*'I am all alone in the Httle harbor," she re- 
peated; "and oh, I wonder, I wonder, shall I be 
afraid to leave it, if anybody ever comes to carry 
me out to seal" 



CENTRAL CiHCui-Aiioi^ 

CHILDREN'3 FiOOM