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Full text of "The people of our neighborhood"

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ALVMNVS BOOK FVND 




FUKD 

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M 



The People of Our 
Neighborhood 

BY 

Mary E. Wilkins 

AUTHOR OF 

"A NEW ENGLAND NUN" 



I 903 
MELVILLE PUBLISHING CO. 
161 Bank Street : : New York 



Copyright, 1895, '96, '97, '98, by 
CURTIS PUBLISHING CO. 



Contents 



/ 1 -.. 












Timotiiy Sampson : 

The Wise Man . 
Little Margaret Snell : 

The Village Runaway 
Cyrus Emmett : 

The Unlucky Man . 
Phebe Ann Little : 

The Neat Woman . 
Amanda Todd : 

The Friend of Cats 
Lydia Wheelock : 

The Good Woman . 
A Quilting Bee in Our Village . 
The Stockwells' Apple-Paring Bee 
The Christmas Sing in Our Village 



1 

23 
41 
5& 



91 

111 
129 
149 



Cl 3- 



Timothy Samson : The 
Wise Man 



I 



413089 



Timothy Samson: The 
Wise Man 



Timothy Samson is not a college grad- 
uate, not more than three men in this 
village are. I never heard that he was 
remarkable as a boy for his standing in 
the district school, but he is the village 
sage. Nobody disputes it. The doctor, 
the lawyer and the minister all have to 
give precedence to him. The doctor may 
know something about physic, the lawyer 
about law and the minister about theol- 
ogy, but Timothy Samson knows some- 
thing about everything. 

The doctor's practice suffers through 
Timothy. If any of the neighbors or 
their children are ill they are very apt 
to call in Timothy instead of the doctor. 



Timothy Samson : The Wise Man 

For one reason, they have nearly as much 
confidence in him; for another reason, it 
saves the doctor's fee. 

Timothy Samson seems able to tell al- 
most at a glance whether a child is com- 
ing down with a simple cold or the whoop- 
ing cough, with measles or scarlet fever, 
with mumps or quinsy. He has a little 
stock of medicines in his chimney closet 
in his kitchen. Timothy's medicine bot- 
tles, which hold a good quart apiece, are 
always kept replenished. Nothing is ever 
lacking in case of need. Most of them he 
concocts himself, from roots and herbs, 
with a judicious use of stimulants. For 
this last he is forced to make a slight 
charge when medicine is taken in large 
quantities. " I ask jest enough to cover 
the cost of the stimulants/' he says, and 
little enough it is — only a few cents upon 
a quart. Timothy's ministrations are sim- 
ply for humanity's sake and love of the 
healing art, and not for gain. 

He is a cobbler, a mender of the cheap 
rustic shoes that wear out their soles and 



Timothy Samson : The Wise Man 

stub their toes on our rough country 
roads. He used, until machine-work came 
in vogue, to make all the shoes for the 
neighborhood by hand. Indeed, there are 
now some few conservative mothers of 
•families who employ him twice a year to 
fit out their children with his coarse, 
faithful handiwork. Timothy owns his 
little cottage house, and his little garden, 
and his little apple orchard. He paid for 
them long ago with his small savings, and 
now he earns just enough by cobbling to 
pay his taxes and keep himself and his 
old wife in their plain and simple neces- 
saries of life. 

Timothy's shoe shop forms a tiny ell 
of his tiny house. In it he has a little 
rusty box-stove, which is usually red hot 
through the winter months, for Timothy 
is a chilly man; his work-bench with its 
sagging leather seat, a rude table heaped 
with lasts, and three or four stools and 
backless chairs for callers. The hot air 
is stifling with leather and the reek of 
ancient tobacco smoke, for Timothy 

5 



Timothy Samson : The Wise Man 

smokes a pipe. A strange atmosphere, it 
seems, for wisdom to thrive in. 

Often an anxious mother is seen to scut- 
tle down the road with her shawl thrown 
over her head, and disappear from the 
eyes of neighbors in Timothy's shoe-shop 
and reappear with Timothy ambling at 
her heels. 

Timothy is a small, spare old man, and 
he has a curious gait, but he gets over 
the ground rapidly when he goes on such 
errands. 

The children like Timothy; they are 
not as afraid of him as of the doctor. 
Sometimes one sets up a doleful lament 
when the doctor is proposed, but is com- 
forted when his mother says: "Well, I'll 
run over an' get Timothy Samson. I guess 
he'll do jest about as well." 

The children run out their tongues 
quite readily for Timothy to inspect; they 
even stretch their mouths obediently for 
his potent doses. There may, however, 
be reasons for their preference. All of 
Timothy's medicines are tinctured high 
6 



Timothy Samson : The Wise Man 

with, flavors which are pleasant and even 
delectable to childish palates, and they 
are well sweetened. So much peppermint 
and sassafras and wintergrcen, indeed, 
does Timothy infuse in his remedies that 
the doctor has been known to be very 
sarcastic over it. " Might as well take 
sassafras-tea and done with it," he said 
once with a sniff at the dregs of Timo- 
thy's medicine when Mrs. Harrison White 
called him in to see her Tommy, after 
Timothy had attended him for two weeks. 
But the doctor was three weeks curing 
Tommy after that, and she called in Tim- 
othy the next time the child was sick. 

Aside from the pleasant flavors of Tim- 
othy's medicines there is another induce- 
ment for taking them. Always after the 
patient has swallowed his dose he tucks 
into his mouth a most delicious little mo- 
lasses drop made by Mrs. Timothy. 

She makes these drops as no one in 
the village can; indeed she holds jeal- 
ously to the receipt, and cannot be coaxed 
to disclose it. She keeps her husband's 

7 



Timothy Samson : The Wise Man 

pockets filled with the drops; for some 
occult reason they never seem to stick, 
even in hot weather. 

Mrs. Timothy is a tall, shy, pale old 
woman who scarcely ever speaks unless 
she is asked a direct question. There is 
a curious lack of active individuality 
about her. At times she seems like noth- 
ing so much as a sort of spiritual looking- 
glass for the reflection of Timothy, and 
3 r et he is not an imperious or unpleasantly 
self-assertive man. Still, great self-con- 
fidence lie undoubtedly has, and that may 
eliminate a weaker nature without design- 
ing to do so. Perhaps the whole village 
reflects Timothy more or less, after the 
manner of his wife. 

Many a tale is told of a triumph of 
his sagacity over the doctors, and people 
listen with pride and chuckling delight. 
The doctor is a surly, gruff and not very 
popular old man, and everybody loves to 
relate how "the doctor said Mis' Nehe- 
miah Stockwell had erysipelas, and doc- 
tored her for that several months, and she 
8 



Timothy Samson : The Wise Man 

got worse. Then they called in Timothy 
Samson on the sly, and he said, jest as 
soon as he see her, 'twa'n't erysipelas, 
'twas poison ivy, an' put on plantain leaves 
and castor oil, and cured her right up." 

Timothy Samson's triumphs in law and 
theology are even greater than in medi- 
cine. He draws up wills, free of charge, 
which stand without a question; he col- 
lects hills with wonderful success. Every- 
body knows how he made Mr. Samuel 
Paine pay the twenty-five dollars and 
sixty-three cents which he had been ow- 
ing John Leavitt over a year for wood. 
John had asked and asked, but he began 
to think he should never get a cent. 
Samuel Paine is one of the most pros- 
perous men in the village, too; he owns 
the grist mill. Finally poor John Leav- 
itt sought aid from Timothy Samson, who 
bestowed it. 

Mrs. Samuel Paine had company to tea 
that afternoon — the minister and his wife, 
and some out-of-town cousins of hers who 
have married well. They wore stiff black 

9 



Timothy Samson : The Wise Man 

silks trimmed with jet, and carried gold 
watches; the neighbors saw them out in 
the yard. 

They had taken their seats at the tea- 
table, which Mrs. Paine had bedecked 
with her best linen and china; the min- 
ister had asked the blessing, and Mrs. 
Paine was about to pour the tea, and Mr. 
Paine to pass the biscuits, when Timothy 
Samson walked in without knocking. 

He bade the company good -day, and 
then, with no preface at all, addressed Mr. 
Samuel Paine upon the subject of his 
long-standing debt to John Leavitt. He 
told him that John Leavitt was a poor 
man, and in sore need of a barrel of flour. 

" Poor John Leavitt, he can't afford to 
have no sech fine company as you've got 
to-night, an' give 'em no sech hot biscuits 
and peach sauce, and frosted cake," said 
Timothy, pitilessly eyeing the table; " he 
can't have what he actilly needs, 'cause 
you don't pay your just debt." 

Samuel Paine, thus admonished, turned 
red, then white, but said not a word, only 
10 



Timothy Samson : The Wise Man 

pulled his old leather wallet stiffly out 
of his pocket, and poor John Leavitt had 
his barrel of flour that night. 

And all the village knows how Timothy 
settled the dispute between Lysander 
Mann and Anson White. Anson's hens 
encroached upon Lysander's young gar- 
den; he would not shut them up, and 
Lysander threatened to go to law. They 
had hot words about it. But Timothy 
said to Lysander, with that inimitably 
shrewd wink of his handsome bine eye?, 
which must have been seen by everybody 
hearing the story, who knows Timothy, 
" Why don't you fix up a nice leetle coop, 
an' some nice leetle nests in your yard, 
Lysander? " 

xlnd Lysander did, and Anson shut up 
his hens when they took to laying eggs 
upon his neighbor's premises, instead of 
scratching up his peas and beans. 

When theology is in question there is a 
popular belief in the village that the min- 
ister is indebted to Timothy for many a 
good point in his sermen. 



Timothy Samson : The Wise Man 

In fact, the minister, who is an old and 
somewhat prosy man, seldom gets credit 
among many of his congregation for any 
bright and original thought of his own. 
People nod meaningly at each other, as 
mnch as to say, " That's Timothy Sam- 
son." It is universally conceded that if 
Timothy had been properly educated he 
would have made a much better parson 
than the parson. Timothy is especially 
gifted in prayer, and often seems to bear 
the whole burden of the conference meet- 
ing upon his shoulders. 

He is one of the deacons, and he passes 
the sacramental bread and wine with the 
stately and solemn bearing of an apostle. 
Indeed, there is something which ap- 
proaches the apostolic ideal in the appear- 
ance of Timothy Samson, with his hand- 
some, benignantly-beaming old face, and 
his waving gray locks. There is only 
one thing which conflicts with it, and 
that is the twinkle of acute worldly 
wisdom and shrewdness in his blue eyes. 
One cannot imagine an apostle twink- 

12 



Timothy Samson : The Wise Man 

ling upon his fellow-men, after that 
fashion. 

Besides the wisdom comprised under 
the three heads of medicine, law and the- 
ology, Timothy has more of varied kinds 
in stock. He is strangely weatherwise. 
He seems to read the clouds and the winds 
like the chapters of a book. "We all be- 
lieve he could write an almanac as good 
as the " Old Farmers' " if he were so dis- 
posed. If the Sunday-school thinks of 
having a picnic Timothy is consulted, and 
the day he selects is invariably fair. He 
has even been known to name the wed- 
ding day instead of the bride. 

Not a woman in the "village dreams of 
going abroad in best bonnet and gown if 
Timothy Samson says it will storm. On 
the other hand, one sets forth in her fin- 
est array, and carries no umbrella, no mat- 
ter how lowering the clouds are, if Tim- 
othy gives the word that it will be fair. 

Timothy knows when there will be a 
drought and when a frost. Often we 
should lose our grapes or our melons were 

*3 



Timothy Samson : The Wise Man 

it not for Timothy's timely warning to 
cover them before nightfall with old 
blankets and carpets. Timothy is a master 
gardener, and knows well how to make 
refractory plants bud and blossom. He 
grafts sour and stubborn old fruit trees 
into sweet and luscious bearing; he knows 
how to prune vines and hedges and rose- 
bushes. 

Timothy always knows where the blue- 
berries and blackberries grow thickest, and 
pilots the children thither, and he knows 
the haunt of the partridge if an invalid 
has a longing for delicate wild meat. 

Timothy's wisdom can apply itself to 
small matters as well as great, and fit the 
minutest needs of daily life. If a house- 
wife's carpet will not go down, if her cur- 
tains will not roll up, if the stove-pipe will 
not fit, his aid is sought and never fails. 
If any one of the thousand little house- 
hold difficulties beset her, Timothy runs 
over in his shoemaker's apron and sets the 
matter right. 

If there is any matter which Timothy's 

14 



Timothy Samson : The Wise Man 

wisdom can fail to cover we have yet to 
find it. 

If this sage did not live in our village 
what should we all be? Should we ever 
go anywhere without spoiling our best 
bonnets? Should we have any wisdom at 
all unless we paid the highest market 
price for it? And we could not do that, 
because we are all poor. What shall we 
do when our wise man is gathered to his 
fathers? AYe dare not contemplate that. 



i5 



Little Margaret Snell : The 
Village Runaway 



Little Margaret Snell : The 
Village Runaway 



It certainly goes rather hard for any 
mother in this village, of a fanciful and 
romantic turn of mind, who tries to de- 
part from our staid old customs in the 
naming of her children. She is directly 
thought to be putting on airs in a par- 
ticularly foolish fashion, and her attempts 
are frustrated so far as may be. 

For instance, when Mrs. White named 
her second boy Reginald, and the neigh- 
bors knew that there was no such appella- 
tion in the family, that it was only a 
" fancy name," they sniffed contemptu- 
ously, and called him " Ridgy." Ridgy 
White he will be in this village until the 

J 9 



Little Margaret Snell 

day of his death. And when Mrs. Beals 
named her little girl Gertrude, the school- 
children, who scorned such fine names, 
transformed it to " Gritty," and Gritty the 
poor child goes. 

As for Marg'ret Snell, she fared some- 
what better; she might easily have been 
dubbed Gritty too, had it not been for the 
fact that Gertrude Beals is eight months 
older, and went to school first. She is 
only called in strict conformance to the 
homely old customs " Marg'ret " and 
sometimes " Margy," with a hard g, when 
her real name is Marguerite. 

How the neighbors sniffed when they 
learned what Francis Snell's wife had 
named her girl-baby. Miss Lurinda Snell, 
Francis' sister, told of it in Mrs. Harrison 
White's. She had dropped in there one 
afternoon, about a weeL after Marg'ret's 
birth, and several other neighbors had 
dropped in, too. 

" Sophi' has named the baby," said Lu- 
rinda. Mrs. Francis Snell's name is So- 
phia, but everybody calls her " Sophi," 
20 



Little Margaret Snell 

"with a strong emphasis on the last syl- 
lable. 

Then the others inquired eagerly what 
she had named it, and Lurinda replied 
with a scornful lift and twist of her thin 
nose and lips: "Marguerite/' 

" ; Marg'rct, you mean/' said the others. 

" No, it's Marguerite," said Lurinda. 

" "Where did she get such a name as 
that ? " asked the neighbors. 

" Out of a book of poetry," replied Lu- 
rinda, with another scornful sneer. 

The neighbors then and there agreed 
that it was very silly to twist about a good 
sensible name, and Frenchify it in that 
way; that Sophi read too much, and that 
she wouldn't be likely to have much gov- 
ernment. 

Whether the former course was silly or 
not the*y have certainly never abetted it; 
not one of them has ever called the little 
girl anything but Marg'ret or Margy, and 
whether they were right or not about 
Mrs. SnelPs superfluous reading, they 
most assuredly were about her lack of gov- 

21 



Little Margaret Snell 

eminent. Sophia Snell is a good woman, 
and probably one of the most intellectual 
persons in the village, but she does hold 
a loose rein over her domestic affairs. 
That broad, white, abstracted brow of hers 
cannot seem to bring itself to bear very 
well upon stray buttons, and heavy bread 
and childish peccadillos. Francis Snell 
sews on his buttons himself or uses pins, 
or his sister Lurinda calls him in and 
sews them on for him with strong and 
virtuous jerks. It is popularly believed 
that he never cats light bread unless his 
sister takes pity upon him, and as for lit- 
tle Marg'ret, she runs loose. She always 
has, ever since she could run at all. When 
she was nothing but a bab}% and tumbled 
over her petticoats every few minutes, she 
was repeatedly captured and brought back 
to her mother, who immediately let her 
run away again, with the same impeded 
but persistent species of locomotion. 

Before little Marg'ret was three years 
old she had toddled and tumbled all alone 
by herself over the entire village, and 



Little Margaret Snell 

often far on the outskirts. Once Thomas 
Gleason, who lives on a farm three miles 
out, brought her home. Nobody could 
understand how she got there, but she tod- 
dled into the yard at sunset in her little 
muddy pink frock, with one shoe gone, 
and no bonnet, very dirty, but very smil- 
ing, and not at all tired or frightened. 

Little Marg'ret never was afraid of any- 
body or anything. Probably there is not 
another such example of absolute fearless- 
ness in the village as she. She marches 
straight up to cross dogs and cows, the 
dark has no terrors for her, the loudest 
clap of thunder does not make her child- 
ish bosom quake. And she certainly has 
no fear, and possibly no respect, for mor- 
tal man. Speak harshly to her, even give 
her a little smart shake, or cuff her small, 
naughty hands, and she stands looking up 
at you as innocently and unabashedly as a 
pet kitten. 

Everybody prophesied that little Marg'- 
ret, through this fearlessness of hers, 
would come soon to an untimely end. 

23 



Little Margaret Snell 

" She'll get bitten by a dog or hooked by 
a cow," they said. " She'll get lost, she'll 
follow a strange man, she'll walk into the 
pond and get drowned." But she never 
has, so far, and she is going bravely on 
to six. 

Little Marg'ret's Aunt Lnrinda Snell 
has probably endured sharper pangs of 
anxiety on her account than anybody else. 
Marg'ret's father is an easy-going man; his 
sister Lurinda seems to have all the capac- 
ity for worry in the family. 

Lurinda is much given to sitting in her 
front window. She arises betimes of a 
morning, and her solitar} r maiden house is 
soon set to rights, and not a soul who 
comes down the street escapes her. Let 
little Marg'ret essay to scamper past, and 
straightway comes the sharp tap of bony 
knuckles upon the window-pane, then the 
window slides up with a creak, and Lu- 
rinda's voice is heard, sharp and shrill, 
"Marg'ret, Marg'ret, you stop! Where 
you going?" 

Then when Marg'ret scuds past, with a 
24 



Little Margaret Snell 

roguish, cock of lier head toward the 
window, the call comes again, "Margaret 
Snell, yon stop! Yon come right in 
here ! " 

But Marg'ret seldom comes to order. 
She goes where she wills, and nowhere 
ebe. The very essence of freedom seems 
to be in her childish spirit. You might as 
well try to command a little wild rabbit. 
All Lurinda's shrill orders are of no avail, 
unless she sees her soon enough to .head 
her off, and actually brings her into the 
house by dint of superior bodily strength. 

If Marg'ret has once the start, her aunt 
can never catch her, but sometimes she 
starts across her track before the little 
wild thing has time to double. Then, in- 
deed, there are struggles and wails and 
shrill interjections of wrath. 

To compensate for her lack of parental 
survey the whole neighborhood, as well 
as Lurinda, takes a hand at controlling 
this small and refractory member, 
although in uncertain fashion, which, 
perhaps, does more harm than good. How- 

25 



Little Margaret Snell 

ever, we all do our best to reduce Marg'- 
ret to subjection, each for one's self — we 
are driven to it. 

Xone of us are safe from an invasion 
of Marg'ret at any hour of the day, upon 
all occasions. Have we any very particu- 
lar company to tea, into the best parlor 
walks Marg'ret in her soiled pinafore, with 
her yellow hair in a tousle, and her face 
very dirty, and sweetly smiling, and seats 
herself in the best chair, if a guest has 
not anticipated her. When told with that 
gentle and ladylike authorit} r , which one 
can display before company, that she had 
better run right home like a good little 
girl, Marg'ret sits still and smiles. 

Then there is nothing to do but to say 
in a bland voice that thinly disguises im- 
patience, " Come out in the kitchen with 
me, Marg'ret, and I'll give you a piece of 
cake," and toll her out in that way, — ■ 
Marg'ret will sell her birthright of her 
own way for cake, and cake alone, — and 
then to cram the cake with emphasis into 
the small hand, and sa}', "Marg'ret, you 



Little Margaret Snell 

go right home and don't you come over 
here again to-day." But no one can be 
sure that she will not appear at the com- 
pany tea-table, and pull at the company's 
black silk skirts for more cake, like a pet- 
ted pussy cat. 

Marg'ret walks into the minister's study 
when he is writing his sermons or when he 
is conducting family prayers. The doc- 
tor keeps his dangerous drugs on high 
shelves where she cannot reach them; he 
has found her alone in his office so many 
times. She walks over all our houses as 
she chooses. We are never sure on going 
into any room that Marg'ret will not start 
up like a little elf and confront us. She 
has been found asleep in the middles of 
spare chamber feather-beds; she has been 
found investigating with her curious lit- 
tle fingers the sacred mysteries of best par- 
lor china-closets. 

Little Marg'ret is the one lively and ut- 
terly incorrigible thing in our dull little 
village. There are ethor children, but she 
is that one all-pervading spirit of child- 

2 7 



Little Margaret Snell 

hood which keeps us all fretting but pow- 
erless under its tyranny, and yet, if the 
truth must be told, ready enough to cut 
for it the sweet cake, which it loves, when 
it runs away into our hearts. 



28 



Cyrus Emmett : The 
Unlucky Man 



Cyrus Emmett : The 
Unlucky Man 

It is not probable that Cyrus Emmett'ff 
relations intended any sarcasm toward a 
helpless and inoffensive infant when they 
gave him the name of the great Persian 
conqueror, but that alone has proved a 
mockery of his lot in life. Poor Cyrus 
Emmett has not been able to conquer even 
the petty obstacles of the narrow sphere to 
which he was born. Even in this humble 
village of humble folk, who regard tho 
luxuries of life very much as they do the 
moon, as something so beyond their reach 
as to make desire ridiculous, Cyrus 
Emmett has the superior lowliness of the 
utterly defeated. Xot one of the other 
villagers but at some time or other has 
had his own little triumph of success^ 

3 1 



Cyrus Emmett : The Unlucky Man 

which gave him that sense of power which 
exalts humanity. He has married the pret- 
tiest girl or has made a great crop of hay, 
or he has grown the finest grapes, or built 
himself a tasty house, or been deacon or 
selectman. 

Cyrus Emmett has never known any- 
thing of these little victories, which, be- 
ing well proportioned to the simple con- 
tests, perhaps produce as fine a quality of 
triumph as did those of the great Persian 
whose name he bears. 

Poor Cyrus, when a boy at school, never 

■ quite got to the head of his class, although 

no one studied more faithfully than he, 

.and at the end of the term he knew his 

books better. Once Cyrus would have gone 

-to the head; he spelled the word correctly, 

but the teacher misunderstood. Once the 

two scholars above him had the mumps 

'and were absent, and he would then have 

jlaken his place at the head had he not 

slipped on the ice on his way to school, 

..and sprained his ankle. 

Always, when he could spell a word, and 

32 



Cyrus Emmett ; The Unlucky Man 

the scholars above him were failing, and 
his heart was beating, and his head swim- 
ming with anticipated triumph, when he 
leaned forward and waved his arm fran- 
tically, and could scarcely be restrained 
from declaring his wisdom before his turn, 
the next boy gave the correct answer and 
went to the head. If Cyrus had not been 
so near success his disappointment would 
not have been so great. 

Cyrus made a signal failure in his boy- 
ish sports. He could never quite reach 
the bottom of a hill without a swerve and 
roll in the snow when almost there, and 
that, too, on an experienced sled, and with 
no difference in his mode of steering, that 
one could see. If there was a stone or 
snag heretofore unknown on the course,. 
Cyrus discovered it and cut short his ca- 
reer; if another boy was to collide with 
any one it was with him. 

At a very early age Cyrus began to ex- 
cite a feeling compounded of contempt 
and compassion among everybody with, 
whom he came in contact. 

33 



Cyrus Emmett : The Unlucky Man 

" Cyrus Emmett is a good boy, and tries 
hard, but he never seems to make out 
much," they said. 

" Try again, Cy," the boys shouted when 
lie toiled up the hill for the twentieth time 
after a hard toss in the snow. And Cy- 
rus would try with fierce energy, and up- 
.set again amidst exultant laughter from 
the top of the hill. There has been, from 
the first, no lack of energy and persever- 
ance in Cyrus Emmett. It is possible that 
he might have gained more respect in his 
defeats if there had been. There is, after 
all, a certain negative triumph in declin- 
ing to bestir one's self against excessive 
odds, and sitting down to the buffetings of 
fate, like an Indian, maybe with a steady 
fury of unconquerable soul, but no strug- 
gles nor outcries. Cyrus, however, has 
never ceased to kick against the unending 
pricks of Providence, and fall back and 
lack again, and fall, until his neighbors 
seem never to have seen him in any atti- 
tudes but those of futile attack and de- 
ieat. Had he sat stolidly down on his 

34 



Cyrus Emmett : The Unlucky Man 

sled nor tried to coast at all, and defied 
his adverse fate in that way, it is quite 
probable that he might have gained more 
respect. 

Cyrus' father was a farmer; a thrifty 
man, and considered quite well-to-do, as 
he owned his place and stock clear, with, 
a little balance in the savings bank, until 
Cyrus was old enough to enter into active- 
co-operation with him in the farm man- 
agement. Then things began to go wrong, 
but seemingly through no fault of Cyrus', 
nor indeed of any living man. 

First the woodland caught fire, and all 
the standing wood and fifty cords of cut 
went up in flame and smoke. Then there 
was a terrible hailstorm, which seemed to 
spend its worst fury on the Emmett farm, 
and laid waste the garden and the corn- 
fields. Then the Emmetts' potatoes rot- 
ted, although nobody's else in the village 
did. That year half the little balance in 
the savings bank was drawn; in two years 
more the Emmett account was closed. The 
old man died not long after that, and his. 

35 



Cyrus Emmett : The Unlucky Man 

son inherited the farm; his wife had died 
long before, and a maiden sister of his had 
kept house for him. 

The year after his father's death Cy- 
rus' barn was struck by lightning, and 
burned to the ground with several head of 
cattle and a valuable horse. Then Cyrus 
mortgaged the farm to build a new barn 
and buy stock, and it is one of the tragic 
tales of the village that the new barn had 
not been finished a week before that also 
was burned because of the hired man's up- 
setting a lantern, and only two cows were 
saved. Then Cyrus borrowed more, and 
the neighbors went to the raising of an- 
other barn, and lent a hand in the build- 
ing. They also contributed all they could 
spare from their small means and bought 
Cyrus another horse. 

But it was not long before the horse 
sickened and died, and the lightning 
struck again and badly shattered one end 
of the new barn, and killed a cow, besides 
stunning Cyrus so severely that he was in 
/the house for a month in haying-time. 

36 



Cyrus Emmett : The Unlucky Man 

Then the neighbors gave up. "It's no use 
tryin' to help Cy Emmett, he wasn't born 
lucky/*' they said, and they had a terrified 
and uncanny feeling, as if they had been 
contending against some evil power. 

Once Cyrus had what seemed for a little 
while a stroke of luck, such as all the 
village people have known at least the 
taste of — he drew a prize. The village 
does not approve of lotteries, and Cyrus 
had been brought up to shun them, but 
that time he was tempted. A man went 
the rounds selling tickets at a quarter of 
a dollar apiece on a horse which he rep- 
resented as very valuable. The man was 
a third cousin of Deacon Xehemiah Stock- 
well, and people were inclined to think he 
was reliable, although they had not seen 
the horse. He represented, also, that the 
money obtained was to go toward the 
building of a Baptist church in East 
Windsor. 

Cyrus had just lost his horse, and he 
h-ad a quarter in his pocket and he bought 
a ticket and drew the prize. It went around 
37 



Cyrus Emmett : The Unlucky Man 

the village like wildfire. " Cy Emmett has 
drawn the horse." Pretty soon two men 
were seen leading the horse through the 
village. It seemed odd that he should be 
led instead of ridden, that it should re- 
quire two men to lead him, also that he 
should be so curiously strapped and tied 
about the head and hindquarters. How- 
ever, he looked like a fine animal, and 
tugged and pranced as well as he could un- 
der his restrictions, thereby showing his 
spirit. He was said to be very valuable; 
Cyrus Emmett was thought to be actually 
in luck that time. 

However, poor Cyrus' luck proved to be 
only one of his usual misfortunes. The 
horse was a white elephant on his hands; 
he could not be harnessed, and he threw 
every rider who bestrode him. As for 
working the farm, he might as well have 
set the fabled Pegasus at that. He kicked 
and bit — it was dangerous even to feed 
him. 

Finally he took to chewing his halter 
apart, and escaping and terrorizing the 

38 



Cyrus Emmett : The Unlucky Man 

Tillage. " Cy Emmett's horse is loose ! " 
was the signal for a general stampede. At 
last he had to be shot. 

Cyrus Emmett, when he was a little tin- 
der forty, had the mortgage on his farm 
foreclosed, and went to live in a poor cot- 
tage with a few acres of land attached. He 
has lived there ever since, and he is now 
past sixty. 

Cyrus' ill luck seems to have followed 
him in his love affairs. When he was quite 
a young man he fell in love with Mary 
Ann Linfield, hut she would not have him. 
She married Edward Bassett afterward. 

It was all over town one morning that 
Z^Iary Ann had jilted Cyrus. Her mother 
ran in to Miss Lurinda Snell and told of it. 
Cyrus did not marry until his old aunt, 
who kept his house, died; then he espoused 
a widow in the next village, and she has 
been a helpless cripple from rheumatism 
ever since their marriage. 

Cyrus has to toil from dawn until far 
into the night, tilling his few scanty acres, 
caring for two cows and hens, peddling 

39 



Cyrus Emmett : The Unlucky Man 

milk, and eggs, and vegetables, nursing 
his sick wife, and doing all the household 
tasks. 

It is a curious thing that although Cy- 
rus pays painfully, penny by penny, for 
all his little necessaries of life, he has 
no credit. I doubt if a man in the village 
would trust him with a dollar's worth, 
and he is said to purchase such infinitesi- 
mal quantities as a dozen lumps of sugar, 
and two drawings of tea, and a cup of 
beans, because he has no ready cash to pay 
for more. 

Poor Cyrus Emmett goes through the 
village street, his back bent with years and 
the hard burdens of life, but there is still 
the fire of zeal in his eyes, and he is al- 
ways in spirit trying over again that coast 
down the hill, although he always upsets 
before he reaches the goal. 

The boys call out, " Hallo, Cy," when 
they meet him, and he makes as if he did 
not hear, although they are, after all, 
friendly enough, and intend no disrespect. 
It is only that his lack of progress in life 
40 



Cyrus Emmett : The Unlucky Man 

seems somehow to put the old man on a 
level with themselves. 

Once he stopped and said, half angrily, 
half appealing!}', "Fm too old a man for 
you to speak to me like that, boys." But 
they only laughed and hailed him in the 
same way when they met again. 

They say that luck is always sure to turn 
sooner or later. Perhaps later means 
not in this world; hut if poor Cyrus Em- 
mett's luck does turn in his lifetime there 
will be great rejoicing in this village. 



4i 



Phebe Ann Little : The 
Neat Woman 



Phebe Ann Little : The 
Neat Woman 



Let anybody mention Phebe Ann Little 
in the neighborhood, and some one is sure 
to immediately remark, " She's terrible 
neat/' 

It is impossible to think even of Phebe 
Ann, to have her image come for an in- 
stant before one's mind, without reference 
to this especial characteristic of hers. She 
cannot be separated by any mental pro- 
cess from her "terrible neatness." It is in- 
teresting to speculate what can become of 
Phebe Ann in the hereafter, where, as we 
are taught to believe, the contest against 
moth and rust and the general untidiness 
of this earth is to cease. Can Phebe Ann 
exist at all in a state where neatness will 
45 



Phebe Ann Little 

be merely a negative quality with no possi- 
bility of active exposition? Will not there 
have to be cobwebs for Phebe Ann to 
sweep from the sky, if she is to inhabit it 
in any conscious state? 

Except in meeting, Phebe Ann is scarce- 
ly ever seen by a neighbor without broom 
and dusting-cloth in hand. 

With the first flicker of dawn light and 
the first cock crow, comes the flirt of 
Phebe Ann's duster from her window, the 
flourish of her broom on her front door- 
step, and often far into the evening 
Phebe Ann's scrubbing and dusting shad- 
ow is seen upon the window curtains. Peo- 
ple say that Phebe Ann's husband often 
has to hold the lamp for her while she 
cleans and dusts until near midnight. A 
neighbor passing the open kitchen window 
late one summer night, reported that he 
heard Phebe Ann appeal to her husband 
in something after this fashion: " George 
Henr} T , can you remember whether I have 
washed this side of the table or the oth- 
er ? " There are even stories current that 

46 



Phebe Ann Little 

her husband has often to rise during the 
small hours of a winter night, light a 
lamp, get the broom, and sweep down the 
cellar stairs, or the back door-step, be- 
cause Phebe has awakened with a species 
of nightmare of unperformed duty tor- 
menting her. She cannot remember, in 
her bewildered state, whether she has neg- 
lected the stairs and the door-step or not, 
and if she has, none can say what evil 
seems impending over her and her house. 

Once her husband, George Henry, who 
at times is afflicted with that species of 
rheumatism known as a crick in the back, 
is reported to have rebelled at this mid- 
night call to the cellar stairs and the 
broom, and Phebe to have retorted with 
tragic emphasis: " Suppose I was to die 
before morning, George Henry Little, and 
those cellar stairs not swept." • And that 
argument is said to have been too weighty 
for George Henry's scruples. 

Phebe Ann is also said to send George 
Henry searching with a midnight taper 
for cobwebs on the ceiling, which she re- 
47 



Phebe Ann Little 

members seeing and cannot remember 
having brushed away. There is a popular 
picture in the village imagination of 
George Henry Little, in the silent watches 
of the night, standing on a chair, a feath- 
er duster in one hand and a lamp in the 
other, anxiously scanning the ceiling for 
cobwebs. 

George Henry Little, it goes without 
saying, is a meek and long-suffering man. 
If ever he had spirit and the capability of 
sustained rebellion, Phebe Ann must long 
since have scoured it away with some kind 
of spiritual soap and sand. Indeed, George 
Henry's relatives openly say that he never 
was the same man after he married Phebe 
Ann Fitch, which was his wife's maiden 
name. And yet Phebe Ann is such a mild- 
looking, little, sandy-haired woman, with 
strained, anxious blue eyes, and small, 
knotty hands with rasped knuckles, and 
George Henry is black-whiskered and 
rather fierce-visaged in comparison. Phebe 
Ann taught school before she was mar- 
ried, too, and George Henry's relatives 
48 



Phebe Ann Little 

feared that she would not make a good 
housekeeper, but their fears upon that 
head were soon allayed. 

When George Henry's sister, Mrs. Ezra 
Wheeler, went to call at his house for the 
first time after he and Phebe Ann were 
married, she came home, surprised and a 
little alarmed. 

" It was four o'clock in the afternoon 
when I got there," she tells the story, 
" and there was Phebe Ann in a calico 
dress and gingham apron (likely to have 
wedding callers all the time, too), scrub- 
bing the tops of the doors. They hadn't 
been living in that brand-new house a 
week either. I don't see what she found to 
scrub. But there she was hard at work 
with soap and sand. I said then I guessed 
we needn't worry about George Henry's 
not having a good housekeeper; I guessed 
he'd have all the housekeeping he wanted, 
and more, too." 

It is fortunate for George Henry that 
he has a reasonably neat and tidy occupa- 
tion — he is Mr. Harrison White's confi- 

49 



Phebe Ann Little 

dential clerk and chief assistant in the 
store and post-office. If he had been em- 
ployed in the grist mill, or if he had been 
a farmer, Phebe Ann might have resorted 
to such extreme measures as lodging him 
in the woodshed or on the door-step in 
mild weather. As it is he seems to work 
hard to gain an entrance to his own house. 
George Henry always goes around to the 
back door — it is improbable that he has 
ever crossed the threshold of his front 
door since his wedding-day — and when 
there he opens it a crack, slips his hand 
around the corner and takes a pair of 
slippers from a peg just inside. Then he 
removes his boots, puts on the slippers and 
enters. The neighbors are positive that 
this is his daily custom when he returns 
from the store. But should the day be 
snowy or dusty or muddy, then, indeed, 
George Henry Little has to painfully work 
his passage into his own house. Phebe 
Ann comes forth — indeed she often lies 
in wait — with the broom, and sometimes, 
it is asserted, with the duster, and poor 

50 



Phebe Ann Little 

George Henry is made to undergo a puri- 
fication as rigid as if he were about to en- 
ter a heathen temple. 

It must be a sore trial to Thebe Ann to 
admit any one without the performance of 
these cleansing rites; but she has to sub- 
mit in other cases. She cannot make the 
minister take oil his boots and put on 
slippers before entering, neither can she 
make such conditions with the neighbors. 
She has always a little corn-husk mat on 
the door-step, and there we stand and 
carefully scrape and scrape, while she 
watches with ill-concealed anxiety, and 
then we walk in, although we feel guilty. 
In very muddy weather we always, of 
course, remove our rubbers and all our 
outer garments which have become damp; 
but otherwise our shoes, which have been 
contaminated by the dust of the street, 
come boldly in contact with Phebe Ann's 
immaculate carpets. 

But she has her revenge. 

ISTot a neighbor goes in to spend a friend- 
ly hour with Phebe Ann, who does not see, 

5* 



Phebe Ann Little 

after her return, if she lives within seeing 
distance — and if she does not it is faithful- 
ly reported to her — her late hostess fling 
windows and doors wide open, and ply 
frantically broom and duster, and she 
wonders uneasily how much dirt and dust 
she could possibly have tracked into Phebe 
Ann's. 

But the neighbors have double cause for 
solicitude so far as an imputation upon 
their own neatness is concerned, for Phebe 
Ann never herself returns from a neigh- 
borly call, that she does not, it is vouched 
for by competent witnesses, hang all the 
garments which accompanied her upon 
the clothes-line to air. Miss Lurinda Snell 
declares that she turns even the sleeves 
wrong side out and brushes them vigorous- 
ly — that she has seen her. 

We all admit, with perhaps some prick- 
ings of conscience in our own cases, that 
Phebe Ann Little is a notable housekeep- 
er. Her window-panes flash like diamonds 
in the setting sun. There is no dust on 
her window-blinds; one could sit in one's 

5 2 



Phebe Ann Little 

Lest silk dress on her door-step; one could, 
if there were any occasion for so doing, 
eat one's meals off her shed floor or her 
cellar stairs. There is no speck of dirt, no 
thread of disorder in all Phehe Ann's 
house, nor upon her person, nor upon any- 
thing which helongs to her. She is cer- 
tainly a housekeeper whose equal is not 
among us, and we all give her due admira- 
tion and respect. 

She is a credit to our village, and yet it 
is possihle that one such credit is suffi- 
cient. If there were another like her the 
Tillage might become so clean that we 
should all have to take to the fields and 
survey its beautiful tidiness over pasture- 
bars. 



53 



Amanda Todd : The 
Friend of Cats 



Amanda Todd : The 
Friend of Cats 

Amanda Todd's orbit of existence is re- 
stricted of a necessity, since she was born, 
brought up and will die in this village, 
but there is no doubt that it is eccentric. 
She moves apart on her own little course 
quite separate from the rest of us. Had 
Amanda's lines of life been cast elsewhere, 
had circumstances pushed her, instead of 
hemming her in, she might have become 
the feminine apostle of a new creed, have 
founded a sect, or instituted a new sys- 
tem of female dress. As it is, she does 
f not go to meeting, she never wears a bon- 
net, and she keeps cats. 

Amanda Todd is rising sixty, and she 
never was married. Had she been, the close 
friction with another nature might have 

57 



Amanda Todd : The Friend of Cats 

worn away some of the peculiarities of 
hers. She might have gone to meeting, 
she might have worn a bonnet, she might 
even have eschewed cats, but it is not 
probable. When peculiarities are in the 
grain of a person's nature, as they proba- 
bly are in hers, such friction only brings 
them out more plainly and it is the other 
person who suffers. 

The village men are not, as a rule, very 
subtle, but they have seemed to feel this 
instinctively. Amanda was, they say, a 
very pretty girl in her youth, but no young 
man ever dared make love to her and mar- 
ry her. She had always the reputation of 
being u an odd stick," even in the district 
school. She always kept by herself at re- 
cess, she never seemed to have anything in 
common with the other girls, and she 
always went home alone from singing 
school. Probably never in her whole life 
has Amanda Todd known what it is to be 
protected by some devoted person of the 
other sex through the nightly perils of 
our village street. 

58 



Amanda Todd : The Friend of Cats 

There is a tradition in the village that 
once in her life, when she was about twen- 
ty-five years old, Amanda Todd had a 
beautiful bonnet and went to meeting. 

Old Mrs. Xathan Morse vouches for the 
reliability of it, and, moreover, she hints 
at a reason. " When Mandy, she was 'bout 
twenty-five years old," she says, " George 
Henry French, he come to town, and 
taught the district school, and he see 
Mandy, an' told Almira Benton that he 
thought she was about the prettiest girl he 
ever laid eyes on, and Almiry she told 
Mandy. That was all there ever was to it, 
he never waited on her, never spoke to her, 
fur's I know, but right after that, Mandy, 
she had a bunnit, and she went reg'lar to 
meetin'. 'Fore that her mother could 
scarcely get her to keep a thing on her 
head out-of-doors — allers carried her sun- 
bunnit a-danglin' by the strings, wonder 
she wa'n't sunstruck a million times — and 
as for goin' to meetin', her mother, she 
talked and talked, but it didn't do a mite 
of good. I s'pose her father kind of up- 

59 



Amanda Todd : The Friend of Cats 

held her in it. He was 'most as odd as 
Mandy. He wouldn't go to meetin' un- 
less he was driv, and he waVt a mem- 
ber. 'Nough sight ruther go out prowlin' 
round in the woods like a wild animal, 
Sabbath days, than go to meetin'. Once 
he ketched a wildcat, an' tried to tame it, 
but he couldn't. It bit and clawed so he 
had to let it go. I guess Mandy gets her 
likin' for cats from him fast enough. Well, 
Mandy, she had that handsome bunnit, 
an' she went to meetin' reg'lar'most a year, 
and she looked as pretty as a picture, sit- 
tin' in the pew. The bunnit was trimmed 
with green gauze ribbon and had a wreath 
of fine pink flowers inside. Her mother 
was real tickled, thought Mandy had met 
with a change. But land, it didn't last 
no time. George Henry French, he quit 
town the next year and went to Somerset 
to teach, and pretty soon we heard he hed 
married a girl over there. Then Mandy, 
she didn't come to meetin' any more. I 
dunno what she did with the bunnit — ■ 
stamped on it, most likely, she always had 
60 



Amanda Todd : The Friend of Cats 

considerable temper — anyway I never see 
her wear it arterwards." 

Thus old Mrs. Nathan Morse tells the 
story, and somehow to a reflective mind 
the picture of Amanda Todd in her youth, 
decked in her pink-wreathed bonnet, self- 
ishly but innocently attending in the sanc- 
tuary of Divine Love in order to lay hands 
on her own little share of earthly affec- 
tion, is inseparable from her, as she goes 
now, old and bare-headed, defiantly past 
the meeting-house, when the Sabbath 
bells are ringing. 

However, if Amanda Todd had elected 
to go bareheaded through the village 
street from feminine vanity, rather than 
eccentricity, it would have been no won- 
der. Not a young girl in the village has 
such a head of hair as Amanda. It is of 
a beautiful chestnut color, and there is not 
a gray thread in it. It is full of wonder- 
ful natural ripples, too — not one of the 
village girls can equal them with her pa- 
pers and crimping-pins — and Amanda ar- 
ranges it in two superb braids wound twice 

6! 



Amanda Todd : The Friend of Cats 

-around her head. Seen from behind, 
Amanda's head is that of a young beauty; 
when she turns a little, and her harsh old 
profile becomes visible, there is a shock 
to a stranger. 

Amanda's father had a great shock of 
chestnut hair which was seldom cut, and 
she inherits this adornment from him. Ha 
lived to be an old man, but that ruddy 
crown of his never turned gray. 

Amanda's mother died long ago; then 
her father. Ever since she has lived alone 
in her shingled cottage with her cats. 
There were not so many cats at first; they 
say she started with one fine tabby which 
became the mother, grandmother and 
great-grandmother to armies of kittens. 

Amanda must destroy some when she 
can find no homes for them, otherwise she 
herself would be driven afield, but still 
the impression is of a legion. 

A cat is so covert, it slinks so secretly 

from one abiding place to another, and 

seems to duplicate itself with its sudden 

appearances, that it may account in a 

62 



Amanda Todd : The Friend of Cats 

measure for this impression. Still there 
are a great many. Nobody knows just 
the number — the estimate runs anywhere 
from fifteen to fifty. Counting, or trying 
to count, Amanda Todd's cats is a favor- 
ite amusement of the village children. 
" Here's another," they shout, when a pair 
of green eyes gleams at them from a post. 
But is it another or only the same cat who 
has moved? Cats sit in Amanda's win- 
dows; they stare out wisely at the passers- 
by from behind the panes, or they fold 
their paws on the ledge outside in the 
sunshine. Cats walk Amanda's ridge-pole 
and her fence, they perch on her posts and 
fly to her cherry trees with bristling fur 
at the sight of a dog. Amanda has as 
deadly a hatred of dogs as have her cats. 
Every one which comes within stone- 
throw of her she sends off yelping, for she 
is a good shot. Kittens tumble about 
Amanda's yard, and crawl out between her 
fence-pickets under people's feet. Aman- 
da will never give away a kitten except to 
a responsible person, and is as particular 

63 



Amanda Todd : The Friend of Cats 

as if the kitten were a human orphan and 
she the manager of an asylum. 

She will never, for any consideration, 
bestow one of her kittens upon a family 
which keeps a dog or where there are 
many small children. Once she made a 
condition that the dog should be killed, 
and she may be at times inwardly dis- 
posed to banish the children. 

x\manda Todd is extremely persistent 
when she has selected a home which is per- 
fectly satisfactory to her for a kitten. Once 
one was found tied into a little basket 
like a baby on the door-step of a childless 
and humane couple who kept no dog, and 
there is a story that Deacon Nehemiah. 
Stockwell found one in his overcoat pock- 
et and never knew how it came there. It 
is probable that Amanda resorts to these 
extreme measures to save herself from 
either destroying her kittens or being 
driven out of house and home by them. 

However, once, when the case was re- 
versed, Amanda herself was found want- 
ing. When she began to grow old, and 
64 



Amanda Todd : The Friend of Cats 

the care of her pets told upon her, it 
occurred to her that she might adopt a 
little girl. Amanda has a comfortable 
income, and would have been able to pro- 
vide a good living for a child as far as that 
goes. 

But the managers of the institution to 
whom Amanda applied made inquiries, 
and the result did not satisfy them. Aman- 
da stated frankly her reason for wishing 
to take the child and her intentions with 
regard to her. She wished the little girl 
to tend her cats and assist her in caring 
for them. She was willing that she should 
attend school four hours per day, going af- 
ter the cats had their breakfast, and re- 
turning an hour earlier to give them their 
supper. She was willing that she should 
go to meeting in the afternoon only, and 
she could have no other children come to 
visit her for fear they would maltreat the 
kittens. She furthermore announced her 
intention to make her will, giving to the 
girl whom she should adopt her entire 
property in trust for the cats, to include 
6S 



Amanda Todd : The Friend of Cats 

lier own maintenance on condition that 
she devote her life to them as she had 
done. 

The trustees declared that they could 
not conscientiously commit a child to her 
keeping for such purposes, and the poor 
little girl orphan who had the chance of 
devoting her life to the care of pussy cats 
and kittens to the exclusion of all child- 
ish followers, remained in her asylum. 

So Amanda to this day lives alone, and 
manages as hest she can. Nobody in the 
village can be induced to live with her; 
one forlorn old soul preferred the alms- 
house. 

" I'd 'nough sight ruther go on the 
town than live with all them cats," she 
said. 

It is rather unfortunate that Amanda's 
shingled cottage is next the meeting- 
house, for that, somehow, seems to ren- 
der her non-church-going more glaringly 
conspicuous, and then, too, there is a lia- 
bility of indecorous proceedings on the 
part of the cats. 

66 



Amanda Todd: The Friend of Cats 

They evidently do not share their mis- 
tress' dislike of the sanctuary, and find its 
soft pew cushions very inviting. They 
watch their chances to slink in when the 
sexton opens the meeting-house; he is an 
old man and dim-eyed, and they are often 
successful. It is wise for anybody before 
taking a seat in a pew to make sure that 
one of Amanda's cats has not forestalled 
him; and often a cat flees down one flight 
of the pulpit stairs as the minister ascends 
the oilier. 

We all wonder what will become of 
Amanda's cats when she dies. There is 
a report that she has made her will and 
left her property in trust for the cats to 
somebody; but to whom? Nobody in this 
village is anxious for such a bequest, and 
whoever it may be will probably strive to 
repudiate it. Some day the cats will un- 
doubtedly go by the board; young Henry 
^Yilson, who has a gun, will shoot some, 
the rest will become aliens and wanderers, 
but we all hope Amanda Todd will never 
know it. 

67 



Amanda Todd : The Friend of Cats 

In the meantime she is undoubtedly 
carrying on among us an eccentric, but 
none the less genuine mission. A home 
missionary is Amanda Todd, and we 
should recognize her as such in spite of 
her non-church-going proclivities. Weak 
in faith though she may be, she is, per- 
chance, as strong in love as the best of 
us. At least I do not doubt that her poor 
little four-footed dependents would so give 
evidence if they could speak. 



68 



Lydia Wheelock: The 
Good Woman 



Lydia Wheelock : The 
Good Woman 



We all agree that Lydia Wheelock is 
yery plain-looking, but that she is very 
good. She was never handsome, even as 
a girl. She never had any youthful bloom, 
and her figure was always as clumsy and 
awkward as it is now. Poor Lydia, with 
her round shoulders and her high hips, 
always moved heavily among the light- 
tripping maids of her own age. Seen from 
behind, her broad, matronly back made 
her look old enough to be the mother of 
them all. Bright and delicate girlish rib- 
bons and muslins, which set off their hap- 
py, youthful, flower-like faces, made poor 
Lydia's dull, thick cheeks look duller, and 
thicker, and heavier. 

Some women as plain-visaged as Lydia, 
7i 



Lydia Wheelock 

seeing themselves, as it were, like dingy- 
barnyard fowls among flocks of splendid 
snowy doves and humming-birds, might 
have deliberately tried to cultivate loving 
kindness and sweet obligingness of man- 
ner as an offset. But Lydia was not bril- 
liant enough for that, neither had she 
much personal ambition. It is doubtful if 
she has ever looked in the glass much, ex- 
cept to ascertain if her face was clean and 
her hair smooth, and if her lack of comeli- 
ness ever cost her an anxious hour. 

Besides, Lydia's goodness, contrary to 
the orthodox tenets, really seems to be the 
result of nature, and nothing which she 
has acquired at any known period since 
her advent upon this earth. Nobody can 
remember when Lydia was not just as 
good and devout as she is now: just as 
faithful in her ministrations to the af- 
flicted and needy, just as constant at meet- 
ing, just as patient under her own trials. 

As a child at school Lydia never whis- 
pered, was never tardy, seldom failed in 
her lessons, and never teased away anoth- 
72 



Lydia Wheelock 

er little girl's candy. Besides, her mother 
always vouched for the fact that she was 
good as a young and tender infant, and 
consequently seemed to have been actual- 
ly born good. 

"Lyddy never cried except when she was 
real sick/" her mother used to say. (She 
lived to be a very old woman, and harped 
upon her good daughter as if she were the 
favorite string of her whole life.) " Never 
knowed her cry because she was mad, as 
the other children did. Lyddy allers took 
her nap regular an' slept all night without 
fussin'. An' she never banged her head 
on the floor 'cause she couldn't have her 
own way. She allers give in real pleas- 
ant and smilin\" 

What was true of Lydia as a baby has 
undoubtedly been true of her ever since 
— she has " allers give in real pleasant on' 
smilinV There may be some people who 
would urge the plea that Lydia has an 
easy temperament, and not naturally such 
a firm clutch upon her desires that it is 
agony to relinquish them. But if all the 

73 



Lydia Wheelock 

ways that Lydia has patiently and smiling- 
ly accepted have been her own ways, she 
must, even if her temperament had been 
ever so stolid, have had peculiar tastes 
and likings. Sometimes it would have 
been almost like a relish for the scalping- 
knife or the branding-iron. If Lydia has 
not, metaphorically speaking, many times 
during her life banged her head upon the 
floor, it has not been from lack of proper 
temptation. She has had from any hu- 
man standpoint a hard life. Her father 
died when she was a young girl. She had 
to leave school and go about helping the 
neighbors with sewing and cleaning and 
extra household tasks when they had com- 
pany, to earn a pittance for the support 
of herself and her mother. Lydia's moth- 
er, although she lived to be so old, was 
always a feeble woman, crippled with 
rheumatism. 

Lydia lived patiently and laboriously, 
earning just enough to keep her mother 
comfortably and herself uncomfortably 
alive, and that was all. She had one good 

74 



Lydia Wheeiock 

meal a day when she was working at a 
neighbor's. Often we know that was all 
she had, although she never said so and 
never complained. 

Lydia's shawl was always too thin for 
winter wear, and we felt that we ought to 
avoid looking at her poor bonnets in order 
not to hurt her feelings. Every cent that 
Lydia earned, beyond what she spent for 
the barest necessaries, went for her moth- 
ers comfort. 

Her mother was never without her three 
meals a day and her warm flannels, when 
the dread of Lydia's life was that she 
might faint away some day at a neighbor's 
from lack of proper nourishment, and the 
state of her attire in midwinter be dis- 
covered. She confessed her great dread 
to somebody once, after she was married. 

When Lydia was about thirty she sud- 
denly got married, to the surprise of the 
whole village. Xobody had dreamed she 
would ever marry. She was so plain and 
so poor, and seemed years older than she 
was — old enough to be her own grand- 

75 



Lydia Wheelock 

mother, as Mrs. Harrison White said. She 
married a man who had paid some atten- 
tion to Mrs. Harrison White when she waa 
a girl, and she was popularly supposed to 
favor him, hut her parents objected, so 
she married Harrison White instead. 

Elisha Wheelock, the man Lydia mar- 
ried, all the neighbors had called " a poor 
tool." He was good-looking and good- 
hearted, but seemed to have little ambi- 
tion and no taste for industry. Moreover, 
everybody said he drank. Lurinda Snell 
said she had seen him when he could 
scarcely walk, and many others agreed with 
her. Although the village was surprised, 
the village gave a sort of negative approval 
of the banns. Everybody agreed that a man 
like Elisha Wheelock couldn't hope to do 
any better. No pretty girl with a good 
home would forsake it for him, and as for 
Lydia, it was probably her first and only 
chance, and she could never hope to do 
any better either. Moreover, Elisha owned 
a comfortable house — his father had just 
died and left it to him, with quite a good- 

7 6 



Lydia Wheelock 

sized farm; and it was said positively that 
Lydia's mother was to live there. "Lydia's 
got a good home for herself and her moth- 
er if 'Lisha don't drink it up," people said. 
Some thought he would. Everybody 
Matched to see the old homestead and 
the fertile acres transformed into fiery 
draughts going down Elisha's throat, but 
they never did. 

Lydia has had her way in one respect, 
if not in others, and that one may suffice 
for much. She has certainly had her way 
with Elisha Wheelock and made a man of 
him. Not a drop has he drunk, so far as 
people know — and all the neighbors have 
watched — in all the years since he mar- 
ried Lydia. He has worked steadily on 
his farm, he does not owe a dollar, and he 
is said to have a nice little sum in the 
savings bank. Moreover, he is a deacon 
of the church, and on the school commit- 
tee. 

Some of the neighbors say openly that 
Elisha would never have been deacon if it 
had not been for his wife; that Lydia 
77 



Lydia Wheelock 

ought to have been deacon, and since she 
could not, because she was a woman, they 
made her one by proxy through her hus- 
band. Elisha is a good deacon — a very 
good deacon, indeed — and he has Lydia to 
fully and carefully advise him. 

Lydia has never had any children, but 
she always had a large family. She be- 
gan with her own mother and her hus- 
band's mother, and a little orphan second 
cousin of her husband's who had lived 
with the Wheelocks since her parents died. 
Her own mother, as I said before, was very 
feeble and a deal of care; her husband's 
mother had a jealous, irritable disposition 
and was very difficult to live with; the 
orphan cousin was delicate, had the rick- 
ets, and, people said, none too clear a 
mind. Lydia kept no servant, and she 
had to work hard to keep her house in or- 
der, sew and mend, build up her husband's 
character, and reconcile all the opposite 
dispositions and requirements of her fam- 
ily. She has had to delve in a spiritual as 
well as temporal field, and employ heart 
78 



Lydia Wheelock 

and soul and hands at the same time ever 
since she was married. After her mother 
died an old aunt of Elisha's, who would 
otherwise have had to go upon the town, 
came to live with them. She is stone- 
deaf and has a curiously inquiring mind, 
hut it is said that Lydia never loses her 
patience and never wearies of shouting the 
most useless information into her strain- 
ing ears. 

It was accounted somewhat fortunate 
that Elisha's mother did not live long af- 
ter Aunt Inez appeared, for it would have 
been, not too great a strain upon Lydia's 
patience — nobody doubts the long-sutTer- 
ing of that — but for her strength, to rec- 
oncile two such characters and keep the 
peace for any length of time. However, 
Elisha's mother had not been dead long 
before a sister of the rickety orphan cou- 
sin, who grows more and more of a charge 
as the years go on, lost her husband and 
came to live at the Wheelock place with her 
four children. They said she would be a 
great help to Lydia, but she is a pretty 
79 



Lydia Wheelock 

young thing, in spite of her four children; 
she is a good singer, and she is constant at 
all the sociables and singing-schools, and 
does a deal of fancy-work, and the neigh- 
bors think Lydia has to take nearly all the 
care of the children. They also think that 
the young widow is setting her cap here 
and there, and hope she may marry and 
so relieve poor Lydia of herself and her 
children. But, after all, it would be only a 
temporary relief. Some other widow, or 
orphan, or aged and infirm aunt, would 
descend upon her, for it is well known 
that it is Lydia who aids and abets her 
husband in his charity toward his needy 
relations. And, moreover, it is told how 
she lets the children and the additional 
expense be as small a source of worry to 
him as possible. Some of the neighbors 
think that if Lydia Wheelock stints herself 
much more, to provide for widows and 
orphans, she cannot go to meeting for lack 
of simply decent covering. Lurinda Snell 
is positive that she keeps her shawl on in 
hot weather to cover up her sleeves, which 
80 



Lvdia Wheelock 

are past mending in any decorous fashion, 
and simply make a show of their innum- 
erable and not very harmonious patches. 
And as for her bonnets, it is actually an 
insult to look attentively at them. 

Poor Lydia has not had a new carpet 
in her sitting-room since she was married. 
The one Elisha's mother had was old then, 
and long ago went to the rag-man. Ever 
since she has lived on the bare boards. It 
is a dreadful thing in this village not to 
have a carpet in the sitting-room. The 
neighbors never get over being shocked at 
the loud taps of their shoes on the hard 
boards when they enter Lydia's. She had 
a rag carpet almost done, they say, when 
Lottie Green and her children came; since 
then she has had no time nor opportunity 
to finish it. 

But everybody knew that if Lydia and 
Ehsha did not do so much for other peo- 
ple she could have a tapestry carpet in her 
fitting-room, and a black silk dreSvS every 
year. She sees to it, however, that Elisha 
is not stinted to his discomfort. He has 
81 



Lydia Wheelock 

his nice Sunday clothes and looks as well 
as any man in the whole village. 

Lydia is a good cook, and is said to sim- 
ply pamper her husband's appetite, and 
take more pains to do so the more she has 
in her family. We are all very sure that 
Lydia never neglects her husband for his 
needy relations, nor relaxes for an instant 
her watchful eye upon his spiritual and 
temporal needs. Miss Lurinda Snell de- 
clares that she has built up a fire in the 
north parlor every evening this winter 
that Elisha may sit in there and read his 
paper, and not be annoyed by Lottie 
Green's children. They are very noisy, 
boisterous children. 

Lydia Wheelock, busy as she is with her 
own, and the needs of her own, tried as 
her strength must be by her own house- 
hold cares, does not confine her ministra- 
tions to them. If a neighbor is ill Lydia 
is always ready to watch with her, and a 
most invaluable nurse she is. Not a neigh- 
bor but would rather have Lydia than any- 
body else over her when she is ill. 
82 



Lydia Wheelock. 

Absolutely untiring is Lydia when min- 
istering to the sick, tender as if the suf- 
ferer were her own child, and yet so firm 
and wise that one can feel her almost 
sufficient of herself to pull one back to 
health. 

Lydia is always in the house of mourn- 
ing; people claim her sympathy as if it 
were their right, and she seems to recog- 
nize her obligation toward all suffering 
without a question. She is also always 
ready with her aid on occasions of re- 
joicings, at wedding feasts, as well as fu- 
nerals. She comes to the front with her 
kindly sympathy when the exigencies of 
human life arise. 

We look across the meeting-house on a 
Sunday and see Lydia sitting listening to 
the sermon, her plain face uplifted with 
the expression of a saint, under that bon- 
net which we avoid glancing at for love of 
her, and our hearts are full of gratitude 
for this good woman in our village. 



83 



A Quilting Bee in Our 
Village 



A Quilting Bee in Our 
Village 



One sometimes wonders whether it will 
ever be possible in our village to attain 
absolute rest and completion with regard 
to quilts. One thinks after a week fairly 
swarming with quilting bees, " Now every 
housewife in the place must be well sup- 
plied; there will be no need to make more 
quilts for six months at least.'' Then, the 
next morning a nice little becurled girl in 
a clean pinafore knocks at the door and 
repeats demurely her well-conned lesson: 
" Mother sends her compliments, and 
would be happy to have you come to her 
quilting bee this afternoon." 

One also wonders if quilts, like flow- 
ers, have their seasons of fuller produc- 

87 



A Quilting Bee in Our Village 

tion. On general principles it seems as if 
the winter might be more favorable to 
their gay complexities of bloom. In the 
winter there are longer evenings for mer- 
riment after the task of needlework is fin- 
ished and the young men arrive; there are 
better opportunities for roasted apples, 
and chestnuts and flip, also for social 
games. It is easier, too, as well as pleas- 
anter, to slip over the long miles between 
some of our farmhouses in a sleigh if it 
is only a lover and his lass, or a wood-sled 
if a party of neighbors or a whole family. 

However, so many of our young women 
become betrothed in the spring, and wed- 
ded in the autumn, that the bees flourish 
in the hottest afternoons and evenings of 
midsummer. 

For instance, Brama Lincoln White was 
engaged to "William French, from Somer- 
set, George Henry French's son, the first 
Sunday in July, and the very next week 
her mother, Mrs. Harrison White, sent out 
invitations to a quilting bee. 

The heat during all that week was 
88 



A Quilting Bee in Our Village 

something to be remembered. It was so 
warm that only the very youngest and 
giddiest of the village people went to the 
Fourth of July picnic. Cyrus Emmett 
had a sunstroke out in the hayfield, and 
Mrs. Deacon Stockwell's mother, who was 
over ninety, was overcome by the heat and 
died. Mrs. Stoekwell could not go to the 
quilting, because her mother was buried 
the day before. It was a misfortune to 
Mrs. White and Brama Lincoln, for Mrs. 
Stoekwell is one of the fastest quilters who 
ever lived, but it was no especial depriva- 
tion to Mrs. Stoekwell. Hardly any wom- 
an who was invited to that quilting was 
anxious to go. The bee was on Thursday, 
which was the hottest day of all that hot 
week. The earth seemed to give out heat 
like a stove, and the sky was like the lid 
of a fiery pot. The hot air steamed up in 
our faces from the ground and beat down 
on the tops of our heads from the sky. 
There was not a cool place anywhere. The 
village women arose before dawn, aired 
their rooms, then shut the windows, drew 

g 9 



A Ouilting Bee in Our Village 

the curtains and closed blinds and shut- 
ters, excluding all the sunlight, but in an 
hour the heat penetrated. 

Mrs. Harrison White's parlor faced 
southwest, and the blinds would have to 
be opened in order to have light enough; 
it seemed a hard ordeal to undergo. Lu- 
rinda Snell told Mrs. Wheelock that 
it did seem as if Brama Lincoln might 
have got ready to be married in better 
weather, after waiting as long as she had 
done. Brama was not very young, but 
Lurinda was older and had given up being 
married at all years ago. Mrs. Wheelock 
thought she was a little bitter, but she 
only pitied her for that. Lydia Wheelock 
is always pitying people for their sins and 
shortcomings instead of blaming them. 
She pacified Lurinda, and told her to wear 
her old muslin and carry her umbrella and 
her palm-leaf fan, and the wind was from 
the southwest, so there would be a breeze 
in Mrs. White's parlor even if it was sun- 

The women went early to the quilting; 
90 



'A Quilting Bee in Our Village 

they were expected to be there at one 
o'clock, to secure a long afternoon for 
work. Eight were invited to quilt: Lu- 
rinda and Mrs. Wheelock, the young wid- 
ow, Lottie Green, and five other women, 
some of them quite young, but master 
hands at such work. 

Brama and her mother were not going 
to quilt; they had the supper to prepare. 
Brama's intended husband was coming 
over from Somerset to supper, and a 
number of men from our village were 
invited. 

A few minutes before one o'clock the 
quilters went down the street, with their 
umbrellas bobbing over their heads. Mrs, 
Harrison White lives on the South Side 
in the great house where her husband 
keeps store. She opened the door when 
she saw her guests coming. She is a 
stout woman, and she wore a large plaid 
gingham dress, open at her creasy throat. 
Her hair clung in wet strings to her tem- 
ples and her face was blazing. She had 
just come from the kitchen where she was 

9i 



A Quilting Bee in Our Village 

baking cake. The whole house was sweet 
and spicy with the odor of it. 

She ushered her guests into the parlor, 
where the great quilting-frame was 
stretched. It occupied nearly the entire 
room. There was just enough space for 
the quilters to file around and seat them- 
selves four on a side. The sheet of patch- 
work was tied firmly to the pegs on the 
quilting-frame. The pattern was intri- 
cate, representing the rising sun, the num- 
ber of pieces almost beyond belief; the 
calicoes comprising it were of the finest 
and brightest. 

* Most all the pieces are new, an* I don't 
believe but what Mis' White cut them 
right off goods in the store," Lurinda 
Snell whispered to Mrs. Wheelock when 
the hostess had withdrawn and they had 
begun their labors. 

They further agreed among themselves 
that Mrs. White and Brama must have 
secretly prepared the patchwork in view 
of some sudden and wholly uncertain mat- 
rimonial contingency. 
92 



A Quilting Bee in Our Village 

" I don't believe but what this quilt ha* 
been pieced ever since Brama Lincoln was 
eixteen years old/' whispered Lurinda 
Snell, so loud that all the women could 
hear her. Then suddenly she pounced 
forward and pointed with her sharp fore- 
finger at a piece of green and white calico 
in the middle of the quilt. " There, I 
knew it," said she. " I remember that 
piece of calico in a square I saw Brama 
Lincoln piecing over to our house before 
Francis was married." Lurinda Snell has 
a wonderful memory. 

" That's a good many years ago," said 
Lottie Green. 

"Yes," whispered Lurinda Snell. When 
she whispers her s's always hiss so that 
they make one's ears ache, and she is very 
apt to whisper. " L T sed to be hangin' round 
Francis considerable before he was mar- 
ried," she whispered in addition, and then 
she thought that she heard Mrs. White 
coming, and said, keeping up very loud, 
in such a pleasant voice, " How comforta- 
ble it is in this room for all it is such a 

93 



A Quilting Bee in Our Village 

hot afternoon." But her cunning was 
quite needless, for Mrs. White was not 
coming. 

The women chalked cords and marked 
the patchwork in a diamond pattern for 
quilting. Two women held the ends of a 
chalked cord, stretching it tightly across 
the patchwork, and a third snapped it. 
That made a plain chalk line for the nee- 
dle to follow. When a space as far as they 
could reach had been chalked they quilted 
it. When that was finished they rolled the 
quilt up and marked another space. 

Brama Lincoln's quilt was very large; 
it did seem impossible to finish it that af- 
ternoon, though the women worked like 
beavers in that exceeding heat. They 
feared that Brama Lincoln would be dis- 
appointed and think they had not worked 
as hard as they might when she and her 
mother had been at so much trouble to 
prepare tea for them. 

Nobody saw Brama Lincoln or Mrs. 
White again that afternoon, but they 
could be heard stepping out in the kitchen 

94 



A Ouilting Bee in Our Village 

and sitting-room, and at five o'clock the 
china dishes and silver spoons began to 
clink. 

At a quarter before six the men came. 
There were only three elderly ones in the 
company: Mr. Harrison White, of course, 
and Mrs. Wheeloek's husband, and Mr. 
Lucius Downey, whose wife had died the 
jpear before. All the others were young, 
and considered beaus in the village. 

The women had just finished the quilt 
and rolled it up, and taken down the 
frame, when Lurinda Snell spied Mr. Lu- 
aius Downey coming, and screamed out 
Mid ran, and all the girls after her. They 
had brought silk bags with extra finery, 
wach as laces and ribbons and combs, to 
put on in the evening, and they all raced 
upstairs to the spare chamber. 

When they came down with their rib- 
bons gayly flying, and some of them with 
their hair freshly curled, all the men had 
arrived, and Mrs. White asked them to 
walk out to tea. 

Poor Mrs. White had put on her purple 

95 



A Quilting Bee in Our Village 

eilk dress, but her face looked as if the 
blood would burst through it, and her hair 
as if it were gummed to her forehead. 
Brama Lincoln looked very well; her front 
hair was curled, and Lurinda thought 
she had kept it in papers all day. She 
wore a pink muslin gown, all ruffled to 
the waist, and sat next her beau at the 
table. 

Lurinda Snell sat on one side of Mr. 
Lucius Downey and Lottie Green on the 
other, and they saw to it that his plate 
was well filled. Once somebody nudged 
me to look, and there were five slices of 
cake and three pieces of pie on his plate. 
However, they all disappeared — Mr. 
Downey had a very good appetite. 

Mrs. White had a tea which will go into 
the history of the village. Everybody won- 
dered how she and Brama had man- 
aged to do so much in that terrible heat. 
There were seven kinds of cake, besides 
doughnuts, cookies and short ginger- 
bread; there were five kinds of pie, and 
cup custards, hot biscuits, cold bread, pre- 
96 



A Quilting Bee in Our Village 

serves, cold ham and tongue. No woman 
in the village had ever given a better quilt- 
ing supper than Mrs. Harrison White and 
Brama. 

After supper the men went into the par- 
lor and sat in a row against the wall, while 
the women all assisted in clearing away 
and washing the dishes. 

Then the women, all except Mrs. Wheel- 
ock, who went home to take care of Lottie 
Greens children, joined the men in the 
parlor, and the evening entertainment be- 
gan. Mrs. White tried to have everything 
as usual in spite of the heat. She had 
even got the Slocum boy to come with his 
fiddle that the company might dance. 

First they played games — Copenhagen, 
and post-office, roll the cover, and the rest. 
Young and old played, except Brama Lin- 
coln and her beau; they sat on the sofa 
and were suspected of holding each oth- 
er's hands under cover of her pink 
flounces. Many thought it very silly in 
them, but when Lurinda Snell told Mrs. 
Wheelock of it next day she said that 

97 



A Quilting Bee in Our Village 

she thought there were many worse things 
to be ashamed of than love. 

Lurinda Snell played the games witk 
great enjoyment; she is very small and 
wiry, and could jump for the rolling cover 
like a cricket. Lurinda, in spite of her 
bitterness over her lonely estate, and her 
evident leaning toward Mr. Lucius Dow- 
ney, is really very maidenly in some 
respects. She always caught the cover be- 
fore it stopped rolling, and withdrew her 
hands before they were slapped in Copen- 
hagen, whereas Lottie Green almost in- 
variably failed to do so, and was, in conse- 
quence, kissed so many times by Mr. 
Downey that nearly everybody was smiling 
and tittering about it. 

However, Lurinda Snell was exceeding- 
ly fidgety when post-office was played, 
and Lucius Downey had so many letters 
for Lottie Green, and finally she succeed- 
ed in putting a stop to the game. The 
post-office was in the front entry, and of 
-course the parlor door was closed during 
the delivery of the letters, and Lurinda 

9* 



A Quilting Bee in Our Village 

objected to that. She said the room was 
go warm with the entry door shut that 
she began to feel a buzzing in her head, 
which was always dangerous in her family. 
Her grandfather had been overheated, 
been seized with a buzzing in his head, 
and immediately dropped dead, and so 
had her father. When she said that, peo- 
ple looked anxiously at Lurinda; her face 
was flushed, and the post-office was given 
up and the entry door opened. 

Next Lottie Green was called upon to 
fiing, as she always is in company, she has 
iuch a sweet voice. She stood up in the 
middle of the floor, and sang "Annie Lau- 
rie" without any accompaniment, because 
the Slocum boy, who is not an expert mu- 
sician, did not know how to play that 
tune, but Lurinda was taken with hic- 
coughs. Nobody doubted that she really 
had hiccoughs, but it was considered just- 
ly that she might have smothered them in 
her handkerchief, or at least have left the 
room, instead of spoiling Lottie Green's 
beautiful song, which she did completely- 

99 



A Quilting Bee in Our Village 

If the Slocum boy could have played the 
tune on his fiddle it would not have been 
so disastrous, but "Annie Laurie" with no 
accompaniment but that of hiccoughs was 
a failure. Brama Lincoln tiptoed out into 
the kitchen, and got some water for Lu- 
rinda to take nine swallows without stop- 
ping, but it did not cure her. Lurinda 
hiccoughed until the song was finished. 

The Slocum boy tuned his fiddle then 
and the dancing began, but it was not a 
success — partly because of Lurinda and 
partly because of the heat. Lurinda would 
not dance after the first; she said her head 
buzzed again, but people thought — it may 
have been unjustly — that she was hurt be- 
cause Lucius Downey had not invited her 
to dance. That spoiled the set, but aside 
from that the room was growing insuffer- 
ably warm. The windows were all wide 
open, but the night air came in like puffs 
of dark, hot steam, and swarms of mos- 
quitoes and moths with it. The dancers 
were all brushing away mosquitoes and 
wiping their foreheads. Their faces were 
ioo 



A Quilting Bee in Our Village 

blazing with the heat, and even the pretty 
girls had a wilted and stringy look from 
their hair out of curl and their limp mus- 
lins. 

When Lurinda refused to dance Brama 
Lincoln at once said that she thought it 
would be much pleasanter out-of-doors, 
and took William French by the arm and 
led the way. The rest of the quilting bee 
was held in Harrison White's front yard. 
The folks sat there until quite late, tell- 
ing stories and singing hymns and songs. 
Lottie Green would not sing alone; she 
said it would make her too conspicuous. 
The front yard is next to the store, and 
there was a row of men on the piazza set- 
tee, besides others coming and going. The 
yard was light from the store windows. 
Brama Lincoln and William French sat 
as far back in the shadow as they could. 

Mr. Lucius Downey sat on the door-step, 
but of the dampness; he considers him- 
self delicate. Lottie Green sat on one side 
of him and Lurinda Snell on the other. 

There was much covert curiosity as to 



A Quilting Bee in Our Village 

which of the two he would escort home. 
Some thought he would choose Lottie, 
some Lurinda. The problem was solred 
in a most unexpected manner. 

Lottie Green lives nearly a mile out of 
his way, in one direction, Lurinda half a 
mile in another. When the quilting bee 
disbanded Lottie, after lingering and look- 
ing back with sweetly-pleading eyes from 
under her pretty white rigolette, went 
down the road with Lydia Wheelock's hus- 
band; Lurinda slipped forlornly up the 
road in the wake of a fond young couple, 
keeping close behind them for protection 
against the dangers of the night, and Mr. 
Lucius Downey went home by himself. 



102 



The Stockwells' Apple- 
Paring Bee 



The Stockwells' Apple- 
Paring Bee 



During " apple years " there are always 
many paring bees in our village. During 
other years there are, of course, not so 
many, and people, consequently, are more 
eager to attend them. When Mr. Nehe- 
miah Stoekwell gave his great bee it was 
the only one that autumn, and, therefore, 
an occasion to be remembered on that ac- 
count, had not so many remarkable things 
happened during the evening. It seemed 
singular, when all the other orchards 
yielded so little fruit, for it was an unus- 
ually " of! year," that ]STehemiah Stock- 
welPs trees should have been bent to the 
ground and even had some of their 
branches broken beneath the great weight 
*°5 



The Stockwells* Apple-Paring Bee 

of apples, but thus matters often are with 
him. 

The neighbors regard Nehemiah Stock- 
well with admiration, somewhat tinctured 
with a curious jealousy as of his favorit- 
ism with Providence. The) r cannot under- 
stand why, when every other garden im 
the village shows blasted melon-vines, his 
are rampant with golden globes; when the 
cut-worms eat everybody else's cabbages 
his are left undisturbed. 

To use the language of one of the bit- 
terest dissenters against Mr. StoekwelFs 
good fortune: "It does seem as if every- 
body else's ' off year ' was his ' on year/ " 
and "he always gets double what any- 
thing is worth, because nobody else las 
got it/' 

Still, when people were invited to the 
paring bee they went, though many felt 
aggrieved and puzzled at such an unequal 
distribution of the fruits of the earth. Lu- 
rinda Snell said she was going anyhow, 
for she hadn't " eat " a good apple that 
year, and probably many shared her politic 

TO* 



The Stockwells' Apple-Paring Bee 

imposition not to slight the good things 
•f others, because of rancor at haying 
Bone of their own. 

The bee was held in the barn instead of 
th« kitchen, since it would accommodate 
a greater number of people. The Stock- 
well barn is a very lajge one on the oppo- 
fite side of the road from the house. It 
was as clean as a parlor, and well lighted 
with rows of lanterns hung from the 
fceams and scaffolds. Mrs. Stockwell used 
all her own, and borrowed many of the 
neighbors', kitchen chairs, and there were 
a number of tables set out with pans and 
knives, and needles aud strings. Bushel- 
fcaskets of apples stood around the tables, 
and the whole place was full of their 
goodly smell. There was also a woody 
fragrance of evergreen and pine, for Lot- 
tie Green and Zepheretta Stockwell and 
some other girls had been at work all day 
trimming the barn. It was a pretty sight, 
and, moreover, quite a novel one. The 
stanchions of the cow-stalls, the straight 
ladders to the scaffolds, and the posts sup- 
107 



The Stockwells' Apple-Paring Bee 

porting them were all wound with ever- 
green, and great branches of red and yel- 
low maple, and sumach, were stuck in the 
shaggy fleeces of hay in the mows. Then 
Lottie Green, who has quite a daring in- 
vention of her own, had gone a step be- 
yond — each mild-faced Jersey cow in the 
stalled row had her # horns decorated with 
evergreens and yellow leaves, and looked 
out of her stanchions at the company like 
some queer beast of fable, and, it must be 
confessed, with somewhat uneasy tossing 
of her crowned head. 

Lurinda Snell whispered to somebody 
that Lottie Green had called in Mr. Lu- 
cius Downey, who happened to be passing 
by, to tie the greens on the cows' horns 
when they came home from pasture, and 
she thought it was pretty silly work. 

However, everybody agreed that the 
barn was a charming sight, and it became 
still more so when the company was seat- 
ed around paring apples and stringing 
them. 

Old and young had come to the bee, and 
1 08 



The Stockwells' Apple-Paring Bee 

the lantern light shone on silvery glancing" 
heads and dark and golden ones. It was 
a very warm night for October, so warm 
that the great barn doors were slid apart 
for air. People could see through the open- 
ing a young maple tree full of yellow 
leaves, which gleamed like a torch in the 
light from the barn. 

The girls often motioned the young 
men to look at it. " See how handsome 
that tree looks," they cried. 

One young man, Jim Paine, whispered 
to the girl beside him, so loud that Lurin- 
da Snell heard, that he did not need to 
look outside the barn to see something 
handsome, but all the others looked at 
the beautiful tree and assented. Jim 
Paine is, perhaps, the most gallant young 
man in the village, but he has had the ad- 
vantage of living in Boston. He was in 
business there for two years, and, though 
he has now come home to live, and set- 
tled down with his father, he does not lose 
his city polish, and he makes the other 
young men appear provincial. He ia 
109 



The Stockwclls' Apple-Paring Bee 

handsome, too, and considered a great 
catch by the village girls and their moth- 
ers. 

People were not surprised at Jim 
Paine's remark; they admitted that it 
sounded just like him, but they wondered 
that it should have been addressed to such 
a girl. Zepheretta Stockwell is a good 
girl, no one denies that. She is faithful 
and industrious, but she is not only very 
plain-featured, but quite lame, and none 
of the young men have fancied her. 

The other girls were almost too scorn- 
ful to be jealous, and tittered when Lurin- 
da Snell repeated Jim's speech. As for 
poor Zepheretta, who had never, during* 
her whole life, had anything like that said 
to her, she turned white as a sheet at first, 
and then looked at Jim in a sad, sharp 
way that she has; then she blushed so that 
her cheeks were as red as the apple she 
was paring, and she looked almost pretty. 
Zepheretta's hair is a common, lustreless 
brown, but she brushes it until it is very 
smooth; she never crimps it. There is a 



The Stockwells' Apple-Paring Bee 

sort of patient hopelessness of attraction 
about Zepheretta. She does not even have 
her dresses trimmed much. That night 
she wore a plain brown cashmere with a 
little white ruffle in the neck, and a very 
fine white cambric apron beautifully hem- 
stitched. People thought that Zepheretta 
was rather extravagant to wear such an 
apron to a paring bee, though her father 
was well-to-do. All the women wore 
aprons, but most of them were made of 
gingham or calico. 

The men pared the apples, and some of 
the women pared and some strung. The 
stringing was regarded as rather the nicer 
work, and the prettiest girls, as a rule, did 
it. After a while Jim Paine took away 
Zepheretta's pan of apples and knife, and 
got a dish of nicely-cut quarters, and a 
needle and string for her. Then some of 
the pretty girls began to look spiteful and 
sober. Presently one of them, Maria Rice, 
cut her finger, for she was paring, and said 
she would not work at all; she would 
go home if she could not string. The» 



The Stockwells' Apple-Paring Bee 

Zepheretta at once gave up her stringing 
to Maria and fell to paring again, while 
Jim Paine looked bewildered and vexed. 
After a little he edged over beside Maria, 
and pared and cut for her to string, and 
she was radiant. As for Zepheretta she 
pared away as patient as ever. She is 
always giving up to other people, still she 
looked rather sober. 

All the young people were twirling ap- 
ple-parings three times around their heads 
and letting them fall over their left shoul- 
ders to determine the initials of their fu- 
ture husbands or wives. They also named 
apples and counted the seeds, all except- 
ing Zepheretta. They would have been 
inclined to laugh if she had followed their 
example, for nobody thought Zepheretta 
would ever marry. 

Finally, Jim Paine, in spite of Maria 
Rice's efforts to keep him, rose and saun- 
tered over to where Zepheretta sat patient- 
ly paring. Her face lit up so when he 
6at down beside her that she looked al- 
most pretty. Maria Rice looked non- 
112 



The Stockwells' Apple-Paring Bee 

plusscd, but only for a moment. She had 
enough strategic instinct for a general. 
She also rose promptly, followed Jim, and 
sat down, not beside him, as a less clever 
girl would have done, but on the other 
side, next Zepheretta. She began to ad- 
mire, with great effusion, the knitted lace 
on Zepheretta's apron, and begged for the 
pattern. She took up Zepheretta's atten- 
tion so completely that Jim Paine, on the 
other side, was quite ignored, and pared 
apples in silence. 

Probably not many people in the barn 
saw through Maria's manoeuvre. Our vil- 
lage does not rear many diplomats. Few 
would have even noticed it had it not been 
for the accident which resulted and came 
near changing our festivity to tragedy. 
Maria, in order to sit beside Zepheretta, 
had forced herself into a corner where no 
one was expected to sit, and which was oc- 
cupied by a low-hung lantern. Her head 
came very near it when she first sat down, 
and some one called to her to take care. 
She jerked aside, with a coquettish giggle, 

"3 



The Stockwclls' Apple-Paring Bee 

but it was not long before she forgot and 
brought her head up severely against the 
lantern. There was a crash, a scream, thea 
a wild flash of fire, and Zepheretta Stock- 
well was flying to the nearest horse-stali 
and dragging off the bay mare's blanket 
before anybody could think. Maria's aproa 
was blazing, and if it had not beea 
for Zepheretta she would certainly have 
been dangerously, if not fatally, burned. 
Zepheretta flung the horse blanket over 
Maria, and threw her down to the floor un- 
der it before any one else stirred. Thea 
Jim Paine sprung, but Zepheretta cried t* 
him fiercely to keep off, and crouched M 
closely over Maria that he could not come 
near. However, there was enough to do, 
for a fringe of hay from the scaffold had 
caught fire, and if it had not been for quick 
work the barn would have gone. It was 
a narrow escape as it was, for hay burns 
like powder. The men tore off their coata 
to smother the flames; they formed a line 
to the well and passed buckets of water. 
In fifteen minutes the fire was completely 

114 



The Stockwells' Apple-Paring Bee 

under control, but that was an end of the 
apple paring for that night. The barn 
was drenched with water, the apples were 
swollen and dripping, and everybodj was 
too nervous to settle down to work again 
under any circumstances. 

Maria Eice was not burned at all. When 
Zepheretta released her from the blanket 
she got up, looking pale and disheveled, 
with her apron a blackened rag, but she 
was quite uninjured. But poor Zepheret- 
ta's hands were burned to a blister, though 
she said nothing, and nobody would have 
known it had she not almost fainted away- 
after the scare was over. 

Mr. Nehemiah Stockwell stood up in the 
middle of the barn and said he guessed we 
had better call the paring over, and all 
come into the house and have supper. His 
voice trembled, and we could see that he 
was still fairly quaking with the fright. 

It would have been a great loss to ISTe- 
hemiah Stockwell had his barn been de- 
stroyed, for he carried only a very small 
insurance on it. 

Ir 5 



The Stockwells* Apple-Paring Bee 

"Well, we all went across the road to the 
house — those who had not fled there al- 
ready in the fear of being burned alive in 
the barn — and there was the supper-table 
all laid in the sitting-room. 

It was just after we entered the house 
that Zepheretta nearly fainted from the 
pain of her burns, and her Aunt Hannah, 
Mr. StockwelPs sister, who had been as- 
sisting Mrs. Stockwell, went with her to 
her own room. That was possibly the rea- 
son why we had such a singular experi- 
ence with the supper. Hannah Stockwell 
being very calm and clear-headed, it is not 
probable that she would have allowed us 
to sit down to the table until certain mat- 
ters had been differently arranged. Poor 
Mrs. Stockwell was almost in hysterics — 
tears rolling down her cheeks in spite of 
her frequent dabs with her apron, catch- 
ing her breath, and trembling so that 
when she took up a cup and saucer they 
rattled like castanets. 

"We placed ourselves as best we could 
around the table. There was not quite 
116 



The Stockwells' Apple-Paring Bee 

chairs enough; some stood all through 
the meal, though Mr. Stockwell and his 
hired man raced wildly back and forth 
with chairs, after the blessing had been 
asked. 

The minister asked the blessing, and it 
was a very long one, including fervent 
thanks for deliverance from perils, from 
fire and flood. Then we began to eat sup- 
per, but there was very little to eat. There 
was really nothing but bread — and cold 
bread at that — and dried-apple sauce, and 
one small pumpkin pie. There was neith- 
er tea nor coffee, though many were 
sure they could smell them. Everybody 
had expected a fine supper at the Stock- 
wells', but there was such a poor repast as 
nobody in our village had ever been known 
to offer at a paring bee. However, we 
were all too polite, of course, to speak of 
it, and Mrs. Stockwell did not appear to 
notice anything out of the way. Lurinda 
Snell whispered that she acted as if she 
didn't know whether she was at a wed- 
ding or a funeral. Lurinda looked out 
i*7 



The Stockwells , Apple-Paring Bee 

that Lucius Downey had a piece of the 
one pumpkin pie. We all discussed the 
fire and tried to eat as if we enjoyed the 
supper, but it was hard work. The dried- 
apple sauce was not sweetened, and there 
was no butter, even, on the table. 

We went home soon after supper. Usu- 
ally there is an after-course of flip and 
roasted chestnuts on these occasions, but 
nothing was said about it that night. We 
all sat around a half hour or so and dis- 
cussed the fire, and then, with one accord, 
rose and took leave. Zepheretta had not 
returned, and we understood that she had 
gone to bed. I heard Jim Paine inquir- 
ing of Mrs. Stockwell how she was, and 
she replied that Hannah had put scraped 
potato on the burns, and they were less 
painful, but she guessed Zepheretta 
wouldn't come down again. Jim Paine 
had to take Maria Rice home, for she de- 
clared that she felt too weak to walk, and 
he was the only one who had a vacant seat 
in his carriage. 

We were all flocking out of the front 
118 



The Stockwells' Apple-Paring Bee 

gate, looking across at the barn, and say- 
ing for the hundredth time how thankful 
we ought to be, when we heard Hannah 
StockwelPs voice, and after her Mrs. Ne- 
hrrniah StockweH's, like a shrill echo. 

" You haven't had a single thing that 
we meant to have for supper," cried Han- 
nah Stockwell. 

" No, you ain't, oh, dear ! oh, dear ! " 
cried Mrs. Stockwell after her. 

" There was mince pies, and apple pies, 
and Indian pudding," said Hannaji. 

"And plum pudding," declared Mrs. 
Stockwell. 

" Pumpkin pie and cranberry pie, and 
Aoughnuts." 

" And cheese » 

u There was hot biscuits, and corn- 
"bread, and freshly-baked beans." 

" And pork, and pickles " 

° There was a great chicken pie, and 
coffee." 

"And tea for them that wanted it," 
said Mrs. Stockwell. " I forgot every- 
thing. I was so upset. Oh, dear ! " 
119 



The Stockwells' Apple-Paring Bee 

" There was pound cake, and fruit cake, 
and sponge cake," Hannah Stockwell said. 

u And ginger cookies, and seed cakes — 
oh, dear ! " 

The two women went on with the cata- 
logue of that feast which we had missed. 
No such supper had ever "been prepared 
for an apple-paring bee in our village. 
They begged us, and Mr. Stockwell begged 
us, to return and partake of the dainties, 
but it was too late, we were all more or 
less shaken by our exciting experience, 
and we all refused, though some of the 
men would have accepted had not their 
wives hindered them. 

We bade the Stockwells good-night, as- 
suring them that we had had a delightful 
evening, and that the supper did not sig- 
nify in the least, and departed. But, as we 
were going down the road, we heard Han- 
nah StockwelPs voice again: 

" There were fried apple turnovers and 
currant jelly tarts," and Mrs. Stockweirs, 
feebly, but insistently, "And peach pre- 
serves and tomato ketchup." 
120 



The Stockwells' Apple-Paring Bee 

We went home that night feeling sure, 
and we have felt sure ever since, that we 
had never in our lives eaten, nor ever 
should eat, such a supper as the one we 
missed at the Stockwells' apple-paring 
bee. 



121 



The Christmas Sing in Our 
Village 



The Christmas Sing in Our 
Village 



The singing-school is, of course, a regu- 
lar institution in our village during the 
winter months, but the one of special in- 
terest is held on Christmas Eve. That is 
called, to distinguish it from the others, 
" The Christmas Sing/' On that night 
only the psalms and fugues appropriate to 
the occasion are sung, and the town hall is 
trimmed with holly and evergreen. 

The Sing begins at eight o'clock and is 
always preceded by a turkey supper. The 
supper is in the tavern, as it used to be 
called — now we say "hotel " — still it is 
the tavern, and always will be the same 
old house where the stages drew up be- 
fore the railroad was built. 

I2s 



The Christmas Sing in Cur Village 

The turkey supper is at six o'clock, and 
at least two hours are required to dispose 
of the good things and speechify; then the 
people cross the road to the town hall, 
where the Sing is held. It is a great oc- 
casion in our village, and the women give 
as much care to their costumes as if they 
were going to a ball. The dressmaker is 
hard worked for weeks before the Sing. 
Everybody who can afford it has a new 
dress, and those who cannot, have their 
old ones made over. The women all try 
to keep their costumes secret until the 
night of the Sing, and the dressmaker is 
bound over by the most solemn promises 
not to reveal anything. The Christmas 
Sing is often most brilliant and surprising 
to our humble tastes in the matter of 
dress, and was especially so last year. The 
sing of last year was also noteworthy in 
another respect; there were three betroth- 
als and a runaway marriage that night. 

It was ideal weather for Christmas Eve 
and our Sing; very cold and clear, a full 
moon, and a beautiful, hard level of snow 
126 



The Christmas Sing in Our Village 

for sleighing. At six o'clock everybody 
was assembled at the tavern; past and 
present members of the singing-school — 
even old man Veazie, who is over ninety 
— were there. There were also some guests 
— fine singers — from out of town. 

The turkey supper was excellent, and 
so were the speeches. One of the best was 
made by Mr. Cassius C. Powell from East 
Langham, a village about eight miles from 
ours, ile is a very line tenor singer and 
quite a celebrity. He sings in the church 
choir in Langham, and is in great demand 
to sing at funerals. He is not very young, 
but fine looking and a great favorite with 
the ladies. He has a gentle, deferential 
way of looking at them which is consid- 
ered very attractive. Lottie Green sat next 
him at the supper-table, and lie looked at 
her, and made sure that she had plenty 
of white meat and gravy. Mr. Lucius 
Downey was on the other side of Lottie, 
but she paid no attention to him. Had it 
not been for Lurinda Snell. who was next 
on his right, lie might have felt slighted _ 
127 



The Christmas Sing in Our Village 

She looked very well, too, in a fine new 
silk dress, plum color with velvet trim- 
ming. Lurinda was quite pretty in her 
youth, and sometimes dress and excite- 
ment seem to revive something of her old 
beauty. Her cheeks were pink and her 
eyes bright; her hair, which is still abun- 
dant, was most beautifully crimped. 

Lottie Green, also, looked very pretty. 
She had not been able to afford a new 
dress, but she had made over her old blue 
cloth one and put in silk sleeves, and it 
was as good and quite as pretty as when it 
was new. 

Probably Maria Bice had the finest new 
dress of any of the girls. Everybody stared 
at Maria when she entered with a great 
rustle of silk and rattle of starched petti- 
coats. The dress was of pink silk, and — 
a most startling innovation in our village 
— the waist was cut square and quite low. 
Maria has a beautiful neck, and she wore 
a great bunch of pink roses on one shoul- 
der. She had elbow sleeves, too, and drew 
-off her long gloves with a very fme air 
128 



The Christmas Sing in Our Village 

when she sat down to table. The other 
girls were half admiring, half scandalized. 
No such costume as that had ever been 
worn to our singing school before. Poor 
Zepheretta Stockwell, in a black silk 
which might have been worn appro- 
priate!}' by her grandmother, was entirely 
eclipsed by Maria in more senses than 
one. Jim Paine sat between the two girls 
at supper. Maria's pink skirts spread over 
his knee, her pretty face was tilted up in 
his and her tongue was wagging every 
minute. Once I saw Jim try to speak to 
Zepheretta, but Maria was too quick for 
him. 

When supper was over the people all 
assembled in the town hall without delay. 
The hall was finely decorated — green 
wreaths hung in all the windows, and the 
portrait of the gentleman who gave the 
town house to the village fifty years ago, 
'\Squire Ebenezer Adams, was draped with 
an American flag. It is a life-size por- 
trait, and hangs on the right of the 
stage. Our old singing master and choir 
129 



The Christmas Sing in Our Village 

leader, Mr. Orlando Sage, stood on the 
stage, and conducted the school, as usual. 
The piano was on his right. The south 
district teacher, Mis? Elmira Crane, played 
that. There was old Mr. Joseph Nelson, 
With his hass viol, which he used to play 
in the church choir, and Thomas Farr and 
Charlie Morse, with their violins. 

The school was arranged in the usual 
manner, in the four divisions of sopranos, 
tenors, bassos and altos. At eight o'clock 
Mr. Sage raised his baton, and the music 
began. 

Everybody stood up, and sang their best 
and loudest, with, perhaps, one exception. 
The result was quite magnificent, unless 
you happened to stand close to certain 
singers, and did not sing loud enough 
yourself to drown them out. 

"We went on with the fine old fugues, 
and it was grand, had it not been for the 
weakness in the sopranos. At length, Mr. 
Orlando Sage stood directly in front of 
the sopranos, waving his baton frantical- 
ly, raising himself up on his toes, and 
130 



The Christmas Sing in Our Village 

jerking his head as if in such ways he 
would stimulate them to greater volume 
of voice. Mr. Sage is a nervous little 
man. Finally, with an imperious switch 
of his baton, and a stamp of his foot, he 
brought the whole school to a dead stop. 

"Miss Stockwell/' he said, "why don't 
you sing ? " 

Everybody stared at Zepheretta. She 
turned white, then red, and replied mcek- 







that she was sinsin 



" Xo, you are not singing," returned 
Mr. Sage. " I was riding pasi your fa- 
ther's yesterday, and I heard you singing. 
You have a voice. Why don't you sing ? '' 

Mr. Sage brandished his baton, as if he 
would like to hit her with it, and poor 
Zepheretta looked almost frightened to 
death. " Why don't you sing ? " sternly 
demanded Mr. Sage again. " You never 
sing in this school as you can sing." 

Zepheretta looked as if she were going 

lo cry. She opened her mouth, as if to 

speak, but did not. Then, suddenly, Lu- 

riuda Snell, who sat on her right, spoke 

1^1 



The Christmas Sing in Our Village 

for her. " I can tell you why, if you want 
to know, Mr. Sage," she said; " I haven't 
told a soul before, but much as three 
years ago I heard Maria Rice tell Zepher- 
etta not to sing so loud, she drowned her 
all out, and Zepheretta hasn't sung so 
loud since/' 

When Lurinda stopped, with a defiant 
nod of her head, you could have heard a 
pin drop. Maria Rice, on the other side 
of Zepheretta, was blushing as pink as her 
•dress. Then Mr. Sage brought his baton 
down. " Sing ! " he shouted, and we all 
began again — " When shepherds watch 
their flocks by night.*' 

Zepheretta did let out her voice a little 
more then, and we were all amazed; no- 
body had dreamed she could sing so well. 
Still it was quite evident that she held her 
voice back somewhat on her high notes, 
on account of Maria's feelings, though 
Maria would not sing at all during the 
rest of the evening. I think she was glad 
when the Sing was over, though everybody 
else had enjoyed it. 

132 



The Christmas Sing in Our Village 

It was ten o'clock when we closed, after 
singing " When marshaled on the nightly 
plain/*' and all the young men who had 
come with teams hastened out to get 
them. Many a young woman who had 
come to the Sing with her father or 
brother went home in the sleigh of some 
gallant swain who was waiting for her 
when she emerged from the town hall. 
All the girls in coming down the steps ran 
a sort of gauntlet of love and jealousy 
between double lines of waiting beaus, 
beyond whom the restive horses pranced 
with frequent flurries of bells. 

Then Maria Rice, to the great delight 
of the vindictive of her sex and the 
amused pity of others, was seen, after 
manifestly hurrying and lingering, and 
peering with eagerly furtive eyes toward 
Jim Paine, to gather up her pink silk 
skirts and go forlornly down the road 
with Lydia Wheelock, who lived her way.' 
It was rumored that she wept all the way 
home, in spite of Lydia's attempts to com- 
fort her, but nobody ever knew. She was 

*33 



The Christmas Sing in Our Village 

not far on the road before Jim Paine and 
Zepheretta passed her in Jim's sleigh, 
drawn by his fast black horse. 

Everybody was astonished to see Jim 
step out from the waiting file, accost 
Zepheretta, and lead her to his sleigh as 
if she had been a princess, and probably 
Zepheretta was the most astonished of all. 
; Mr. Caseins C. Dowell, who had driven 
over from Langham, took Lottie Green 
home, and Mr. Lucius Downey escorted 
Lurinda Snell. He had brought a lantern, 
though it w r as bright moonlight — he is 
fond of carrying *one because his eyes are 
poor. The lantern light shone full on 
Lurinda's face as she went proudly past 
on his arm, and she looked like a young 
girl. 

The next day we heard that all three 
couples were going to be married, and 
that another young couple, who had 
driven down the road at such a furious 
rate that everybody had hastened out of 
the way, and there had been narrow es- 
capes from collisions, were married. They 

*34 



The Christinas Sing in Our Village 

had driven ten miles to Dover for that 
purpose, nobody ever knew why. The 
parents on either side would have given 
free consent to the match, but they drove 
to Dover that Christmas Eve as if a whole 
regiment of furious relatives were savage- 
ly charging at their back-. 

However, that marriage has been happy 
so far, and the others also. Jim and 
Zepheretta are a devoted pair; Lurinda 
Snell makes a good wife for Lucius Dow- 
ney, and does not talk as bitterly about 
her neighbors as she was accustomed to 
do formerly. Cassius C. Dowell seems 
very happy with Lottie, so the neighbor- 
all say, and Lydia Wheclock, now that 
she has not Lottie and her children to 
look after and provide for, has bought. 
herself a new parlor carpet and a bonnet. 

Take it altogether, that Sing seemed to 
bring much happiness to our village, set. 
as it were, to sweet Christmas music. 



THE 
JAMESONS 



BY 

MARY E. WILKINS 

'A Humble Romance," "A New England Nun, 

"TiiMDROKE," Etc. 



NEW YORK 

Intbrmational Association of Newspapers & Authors 
1901 



Copyright, 189S, 1899, by thk 
CURTIS PUBLISHING COMPANY 

CoPYRICHT, 1899, BY THK 

BOUBLEDAY & McCLURE CO. 



hOKiH tUVEK iSJNDEKY 
PKIN'TKKS AN!) BINDERS 
NEW YORK CITV, N. Y. 



THE JAMESONS 



THEY ARRIVE 



Until that summer nobody in our vil- 
lage had ever taken boarders. There had 
been no real necessity for it, and we had 
always been rather proud of the fact. 
"While we were certainly not rich — there 
was not one positively rich family among 
us — we were comfortably provided with 
all the necessities of life. We did not 
need to open our houses, and our closets, 
and our bureau drawers, and give the 
freedom of our domestic hearths, and, as 
it were, our household gods for playthings, 
to strangers and their children. 
1 136 



The Jamesons 

Many of us had to work for our daily 
bread, but, we were thankful to say, not 
in that way. We prided ourselves be- 
cause there was no summer hotel with a 
demoralizing bowling-alley, and one of 
those dangerous chutes, in our village. 
We felt forbiddingly calm and superior 
when now and then some strange city 
people from Grover, the large summer 
resort six miles from us, travelled up and 
down our main street seeking board in 
vain. We plumed ourselves upon our 
reputation of not taking boarders for love 
or money. 

Nobody had dreamed that there was to 
be a break at last in our long-established 
custom, and nobody dreamed that the 
break was to be made in such a quarter. 
One of the most well-to-do, if not the 
most well-to-do, of us all, took the first 
boarders ever taken in Linnville. When 
Amelia Powers heard of it she said, 
" Them that has, gits." 

On the afternoon of the first day of 
137 



They Arrive 

June, six years ago, I was sewing at my 
sitting-room window. I was making a 
white muslin dress for little Alice, my 
niece, to wear to the Seventeenth-of-June 
picnic. I had been sitting there alone all 
the afternoon, and it was almost four 
o'clock when I saw Amelia Powers, who 
lives opposite, and who had been sewing 
at her window — I had noticed her arm 
moving back and forth, disturbing the 
shadows of the horse-chestnut tree in the 
yard — fling open her front door, run out 
on the piazza, and stand peering around 
the corner post, with her neck so stretched 
that it looked twice as long as before. 
Then her sister Candace, who has poor 
health and seldom ventures out-of-doors, 
threw up the front chamber window and 
leaned out as far as she was able, and 
stared with her hand shading her eyes 
from the sun. I could just see her head 
through an opening in the horse-chestnut 
branches. 

Then I heard another door open, and 
138 



The Jamesons 

Mrs. Peter Jones, who lives in the house 
next below the Powers', came running 
out. She ran down the walk to her front 
gate and leaned over, all twisted sideways, 
to see. 

Then I heard voices, and there were 
Adeline Ketchum and her mother coming 
down the street, all in a nutter of hurry. 
Adeline is slender and nervous ; her elbows 
jerked out, her chiu jerked up, and her 
skirts switched her thin ankles; Mrs. 
Ketchum is very stout, and she walked 
with a kind of quivering flounce. Her 
face was blazing, and I knew her bonnet 
was on hindside before — I was sure that 
the sprig of purple flowers belonged on 
the front. 

When Adeline and her mother reached 
Mrs. Peter Jones' gate they stopped, and 
they all stood there together looking. 
Then I saw Tommy Gregg racing along, 
and I felt positive that his mother had 
sent him to see what the matter was. 
She is a good woman, but the most curi- 
i39 



They Arrive 

ous person in our village. She never 
seems to have enough affairs of her own 
to thoroughly amuse her. I never saw a 
hoy run as fast as Tommy did — as if his 
mother's curiosity and his own were a 
sort of motor compelling him to his ut- 
most speed. His legs seemed never to 
come out of their running crooks, and his 
shock of hair was fairly stiffened out he- 
hind with the wind. 

Then I began to wonder if it were pos- 
sible there was a fire anywhere. I ran to 
my front door and called : 

"Tommy! Tommy!" said T, "where is 
the fire?" 

Tommy did not hear me, but all of a 
sudden the fire-bell began to ring. 

Then I ran across the street to Mrs. 
Peter Jones' gate, and Amelia Powers 
came hurrying out of her yard. 

M Where is it ? Oh, where is it ? " said 
she, and Candace put her head out of the 
window and called out, "Where is it? 
Is it near here ? " 

740 



The Jamesons 

"We all sniffed for smoke and strained 
our eyes for a red fire glare on the hori- 
zon, but we could neither smell nor see 
anything unusual. 

Pretty soon we heard the fire-engine 
coming, and Amelia Powers cried out: 
"Oh, it's going to Mrs. Liscom's! It's 
her house ! It's Mrs. Liscom's house ! " 

Candace Powers put her head farther 
out of the window, and screamed in a 
queer voice that echoed like a parrot's, 
" Oh, 'Melia ! 'Melia ! it's Mrs. Liscom's, 
it's Mrs. Liscom's, and the wind's this 
way ! Come, quick, and help me get out 
the best feather bed, and the counterpane 
that mother knit ! Quick ! Quick ! w 

Amelia had to run in and quiet Can- 
dace, who was very apt to have a bad 
spell when she was over-excited, and the 
rest of us started for the fire. 

As we hurried down the street I asked 

Mrs. Jones how she had known there was 

a fire in the first place, for I supposed 

that was why she had run out to her front 

141 



They Arrive 

dcor and looked down the street. Then 
I learned about the city boarders. She 
and Amelia, from the way they faced at 
their sitting-room windows, had seen the 
Grover stage-coach stop at Mrs. Liscom's, 
and had run out to see the boarders 
alight. Mrs. Jones said there were five 
of them — the mother, grandmother, two 
daughters, and a son. 

I said that I did not know Mrs. Lis- 
com was going to take boarders; I was 
very much surprised. 

" I suppose she thought she would earn 
some money and have some extra things," 
said Mrs. Jones. 

" It must have been that," said Mrs. 
Ketch urn, panting — she was almost out of 
breath — " for, of course, the Liscoms don't 
need the money." 

I laughed and said I thought not. I 
felt a little pride about it, because Mrs. 
Liscom was a second cousin of my hus- 
band, and he used to think a great deal 
cf her. 

142 



The Jamesons 

"They must own that nbe place clear, 
if it ain't going to bum to the ground, 
and have something in the bank besides," 
assented Mrs. Peter Jones. 

Ever so many people were running 
down the street with us, and th^ air 
seemed full of that brazen clang cf the 
fire-bell; still we could not see any fire,, 
nor even smell any smoke, until we got 
to the head of the lane where the Liscom 
house stands a few rods from the main 
street. 

The lane was about choked up with the 
fire-engine, the hose- cart, the fire depart- 
ment in their red shirts, and, I should 
think, half the village. We climbed 
over the stone wall into Mrs. Liscom's 
oat-field; it was hard work for Mrs. 
Ketchum, but Mrs. Jones and I pushed 
and Adeline pulled, and then we ran 
along close to the wall toward the house. 
We certainly began to smell smoke, 
though we still could not see any fire. 
The firemen were racing in and out of 
143 



They Arrive 

the house, bringing out the furniture, as 
were some of the village boys, and the 
engine was playing upon the south end, 
where the kitchen is. 

Mrs. Peter Jones, who is very small 
and alert, said suddenly that it looked to 
her as if 'die smoke were coming out of 
the kitchen chimney, but Mrs. Ketchum 
said of course it was on lire inside in the 
woodwork. " Oh, only to think of Mrs. 
Liscom's nice house being all burned up, 
and what a dreadful reception for those 
boarders ! " she groaned out. 

I never saw su n h a hubbub, and appar- 
ently over nothing at all, as there was. 
There was a steady yell of fire from a 
crowd of boys who seemed to enjoy it; 
the water was swishing, the firemen's 
arms were pumping in unison, and every- 
body generally running in aimless circles 
like a swarm of ants. Then we saw the 
boarders coming out. "Oh, the house 
must be all in a light blaze inside 1 * 
groaned Mrs. Ketchum. 
i44 



The Jamesons 

There were five of the boarders. The 
mother, a large, fair woman with a long, 
massive face, her reddish hair crinkling 
and curling around it in a sort of ivy- 
tendril fashion, came first. Her two 
daughters, in blue gowns, with pretty, 
agitated faces, followed ; then the young 
son, fairly teetering with excitement; 
then the grandmother, a little, tremulous 
old lady in an auburn wig. 

The woman at the head carried a 
bucket, and what should she do but form 
her family into a line toward the well at 
the north side of the house where we 
were I 

Of course, the family did not nearly 
reach to the well, and she beckoned to 
us imperatively. " Come immediately ! " 
said she ; " if the men of this village have 
no head in an emergency like this, let the 
women arise ! Come immediately. " 

So Mrs. Peter Jones, Mrs. Ketchum, 
Adeline, and I stepped into the line, and 
the mother boarder filled the bucket at 
*45 



They Arrive 

the well, and we passed it back from hand 
to hand, and the boy at the end flung it 
into Mrs. Liscom's front entry all over 
her nice carpet. 

Then suddenly we saw Caroline Liscom 
appear. She snatched the bucket out of 
the hands of the boy boarder and gave it 
a toss into the lilac-bush beside the door; 
then she stood there, looking as I had 
never seen her look before. Caroline 
Liscom lias always had the reputation of 
being a woman of a strong character; she 
is manifestly the head of her family. It 
is always, "Mrs. Liscom's house," and 
"Mrs. Liscom's property," instead of Mr. 
Liscom's. 

It is always understood that, though 
Mr. Liscom is the nominal voter in town 
matters, not a selectman goes into office 
with Mr. Liscom's vote unless it is au- 
thorized by Mrs. Liscom. Mr. Liscom 
is, so to speak, seldom taken without 
Mrs. Liscom's indorsement. 

Of course, Mrs. Liscom being such a 
146 



The Jamesons 

character has always more or less author- 
ity in her bearing, but that day she dis- 
played a real majesty which I had never 
seen in her before. She stood there a 
second, then she turned and made a back- 
ward and forward motion of her arm as 
if she were sweeping, and directly red- 
shirted firemen and boys began to fly out 
of the house as if impelled by it. 

"You just get out cf my house; every 
one of you ! " said Caroline in a loud but 
slow voice, as if she were so augry that 
she was fairly reining herself in ; and they 
got out. Then she called to the firemen 
who were working the engine, and they 
heard her above all the uproar. 

"You stop drenching my house with 
water, and go home ! " said she. 

Everybody began to hush and stare, 
but Tommy Gregg gave one squeaking 
cry of fire as if in defiance. 

"There is no fire," said Caroline Lis- 
com. "My house is not on fire, and has 
not been on fire. I am getting tea, and 
i47 



They Arrive 

the kitchen chimney always smokes when 
the wind is west. I don't thank you, 
any of you, for coming here and turning 
my house upside down and drenching it 
with water, and lugging my furniture out- 
of-doors. Now you can go home. I don't 
see what fool ever sent you here ! " 

The engine stopped playing, and you 
could hear the water dripping off the 
south end of the house. The windows 
were streaming as if there had been a 
shower. Everybody looked abashed, aud 
the chief engineer of the fire department — ■ 
who is a little nervous man who always 
works as if the river were on lire and he 
had started it — asked meekly if they 
shouldn't bring the furniture back. 

"No," said Caroline Liscom, "I want 
you to go home, and that is all I do want 
of you." 

Then the mother boarder spoke — she 

was evidently not easily put down. M I 

refuse to return to the house or to allow 

my family to do so unless I am officially 

148 



The Jamesons 

notified by the fire department that the 
fire is extinguished," said she. 

"Then you can stay out-of-doors," said 
Caroline Liscom, and we all gasped to hear 
her, though we secretly admired her for it. 

The boarder glared at her in a curious 
kind of way, like a broadside of stoniness, 
but Caroline did not seem to mind it at 
all. Then the boarder changed her tactics 
like a general on the verge of defeat. She 
sidled up to Mr. Spear, the chief engineer, 
who was giving orders to drag home the 
engine, and said in an unexpectedly sweet 
voice, like a trickle of honey off the face 
of a rock : " My good man, am I to un- 
derstand that I need apprehend no further 
danger from fire ! I ask for the sake of 
my precious family." 

Mr. Spear looked at her as if she had 
spoken to him in Choctaw, and she was 
obliged to ask him over again. "My 
good man," said she, "is the fire out? " 

Mr. Spear looked at her as if he were 
half daft then, but he answered: "Yes, 
149 



They Arrive 

ma'am, yes, ma'am, certainly, ma'am, no 
danger at all, ma'am." Then he went on 
ordering the men : " A leetle more to the 
right, boys ! All together ! " 

"Thank you, my good man, your word 
is sutiicient," said the boarder, though 
Mr. Spear did not seem to hear her. 

Then she sailed into the house, and her 
son, her two daughters, and the grand- 
mother after her. Mrs. Peter Jones and 
Adeline and her mother went home, but 
I ventured, since I was a sort of relation, 
to go in and offer to help Caroline set 
things to rights. She thanked me, and 
said that she did not want any help; 
when Jacob and Harry came home they 
would set the furniture in out of the yard. 

" I am sorry for you, Caroline," said T. 

" Look at my house, Sophia Lane," said 
she, and that was all she would say. She 
shut her mouth tight over that. That 
lior.se was enough to make a strong- 
minded woman like Caroline dumb, and 
jbend a weak one into hysterics. It was 



The Jamesons 

dripping with water, and nearly all the 
furniture out in the yard piled up pell- 
mell. I could not see how she was going 
to get supper for the boarders : the kitchen 
fire was out and the stove drenched, with 
a panful of biscuits in the oven. 

" What are you going to give them for 
supper, Caroline ? " said I, and she just 
shook her head. I knew that those 
boarders would have to take what they 
could get, or go without. 

When Caroline was in any difficulty 
there never was any help for her, except 
from the working of circumstances to their 
own salvation. I thought I might as well 
go home. I offered to give her some pie 
or cake if he^s were spoiled, but she only 
shook he^: nead again, and I knew she 
must have some stored away in the parlor 
china-closet, where the water had not 
penetrated. 

I went through the house to the front 
entry, thinking I would go out the front 
door — the side one was dripping as if it 
i5 l 



They Arrive 

were under a waterfall. Just as I reached 
it I heard a die-away voice from the front 
chamber say, "My good woman." 

I did not dream that I was addressed, 
never having been called by that name, 
though always having hoped that I was a 
good woman. 

So I kept right on. Then I heard a 
despairing sigh, and the voice said, " You 
speak to her, Harriet." 

Then I heard another voice, very sweet 
and a little timid, " Will you please step 
upstairs? Mamma wishes to speak to 
you." 

I began to wouder if they were talking 
to me. I looked up, and there discovered 
a pretty, innocent, rosy little face, peering 
over the balustrade at the head of the 
stairs. " Will you please step upstairs ? " 
said she again, in the same sweet tones. 
"Mamma wishes to speak to you." 

I have a little weakness of the heart t 
and do not like to climb stairs more than 
I am positively obliged to ; it always puts 

2 i r 2 



The Jamesons 

me so out of breath. I sleep downstairs 
on that account. I looked at Caroline's 
front stairs, which are rather steep, with 
some hesitation. I felt shaken, too, on 
account of the alarm of fire. Then I 
heard the first voice again with a sort of 
languishing authority : " My good woman, 
will you be so kind as to step upstairs 
immediately ? " 

I went upstairs. The girl who had 
spoken to me — I found afterward that she 
was the elder of the daughters — motioned 
me to go into the north chamber. I 
found them all there. The mother, Mrs. 
H. Boardman Jameson, as I afterward 
knew her name to be, was lying on the 
bed, her head propped high with pillows ; 
the younger daughter was fanning her, 
and she was panting softly as if she were 
almost exhausted. The grandmother sat 
beside the north window, with a paper- 
covered book on her knees. She was eat- 
ing something from a little white box on 
the window-sill. The boy was at an- 
i53 



They Arrive 

other window, also with a book in which 
he did not seem to be interested. He 
looked up at me, as I entered, with a most 
peculiar expression of mingled innocence 
and shyness which was almost terror. I 
could not see why the boy should possi- 
bly be afraid of me, but I learned after- 
ward. that it was either his natural atti- 
tude or natural expression. He was either 
afraid of every mortal thing or else ap- 
peared to be. The singular elevated arch 
of his eyebrows over his wide-open blue 
eyes, and his mouth, which was always 
parted a little, no doubt served to give 
this impression. He was a pretty boy, 
with a fair pink-and-white complexion, 
and long hair curled like a girl's, which 
looked odd to me, for he was quite large. 
Mrs. Jameson beckoned me up to the 
bed with one languid finger, as if she 
could not possibly do more. I began to 
think that perhaps she had some trouble 
with her heart like myself, and the fire had 
overcome her, and I felt very sympathetic. 
*54 



The Jamesons 

" I am sorry you have had such an un- 
pleasant experience, " I began, but she cut 
me short. 

"My good woman," said she in little 
more than a whisper, " do you know of 
any house in a sanitary location where 
we can obtain board immediately ? I am 
very particular about the location. There 
must be no standing water near the house, 
there must not be trees near on account 
of the dampness, the neighbors must not 
keep hens — of course, the people of the 
house must not keep hens — and the wom- 
an must have an even temper. I must 
particularly insist upon an even temper. 
My nerves are exceedingly weak ; I can- 
not endure such a rasping manner as that 
which I have encountered to-day. " 

When she stopped and looked at me 
for an answer I was so astonished that I 
did not know what to say. There she 
was, just arrived ; had not eaten one meal 
in the house, and wanting to find another 
boarding-place. 



They Arrive 

Finally I said, rather stupidly I sup- 
pose, that I doubted if she could find 
another boarding-place in our village as 
good as the one which she already had. 

She gave another sigh, as if of the most 
determined patience. " Have I not al- 
ready told you, my good woman," said 
she, " that I cannot endure such a rasping 
manner and voice as that of the woman 
of the house ? It is most imperative that 
I have another boarding-place at once." 

She said this in a manner which net- 
tled me a little, as if I had boarding- 
places, for which she had paid liberally 
and had a right to demand, in my hand, 
and was withholding them from her. I 
replied that I knew of no other boarding- 
place of any kind whatsoever in the vil- 
lage. Then she looked at me in what I 
suppose was meant to be an ingratiating 
way. 

"My good woman," said she, "you 
look very neat and tidy yourself, and I 
don't doubt are a good plain cook; I am 
>5<5 



The Jamesons 

willing to try your house if it is net sur- 
rounded by trees and there is no standing 
water near; I do not object to running 
water. " 

In the midst of this speech the elder 
daughter had said in a frightened way, 
"Oh, mamma! " but her mother had paid 
no attention. As for myself, I was angry. 
The memory of my two years at VVard- 
ville Young Ladies' Seminary in my 
youth and my frugally independent life 
as wife and widow was strong upon me. 
I had read and improved my mind. I 
was a prominent member of the Ladies' 
Literary Society of our village: I wrote 
papers which were read at tjie meetings ; 
I felt, in reality, not one whit below Mrs. 
H. Boardman Jameson, and, moreover, 
large sleeves were the fashion, and my 
sleeves were every bit as large as hers, 
though she had just come from the city. 
That added to my conviction of my own 
importance. 

" Madam," said I, " I do not take board- 
*57 



They Arrive 

ers. I have never taken boarders, and I 
never shall take boarders. " Then I turned 
and went out of the room, and downstairs^ 
with, it seemed to me, much dignity. 

However, Mrs. Jameson was not im- 
pressed by it, for she called after me : " My 
good woman, will you please tell Mrs. 
Liscom that I must have some hot water 
to make my health food with imme- 
diately? Tell her to send up a pitcher at 
once, very hot." 

I did not tell Caroline about the hot 
water. I left that for them to manage 
themselves. I did not care to mention 
hot water with Caroline's stove as wet as 
if it had been dipped in the pond, even if 
I had not been too indignant at the per- 
sistent ignoring of my own dignity. I 
went home and found Louisa Field, my 
brother's widow, and her little daughter 
Alice, who live with me, already there. 
Louisa keeps the district school, and with 
her salary r , besides the little which my 
brother left her, gets aloug very comfort- 



The Jamesons 

ably. I have a small sum in bank, besides 
my house, and we have plenty to live on, 
even if we don't have much to spare. 

Louisa was full of excitement over the 
false alarm of fire, and had heard a rea- 
son for it which we never fairly knew to 
be true, though nearly all the village be- 
lieved it. It seems that the little Jame- 
son boy, so the story ran, had peeped into 
the kitchen and had seen it full of smoke 
from Caroline's smoky chimney when she 
was kindling the fire ; then had run out 
into the yard, and seeing the smoke out 
there too, and being of such an exceed- 
ingly timid temperament, had run out to 
the head of the lane calling fire, and had 
there met Tommy Gregg, who had spread 
the alarm and been the means of calling 
out the fire department. 

Indeed, the story purported to come 
from Tommy Gregg, who declared that 
the boy at Liscom's had "hollered " fire, 
and when he was asked where it was had 
told him at Liscom's. However that may 
159 



They Arrive 

have been, I looked around at our humble 
little home, at the lounge which I had 
covered myself, at the threadbare carpet 
on the sitting-room floor, at the wall- 
paper which was put on the year before 
my husband died, at the vases on the 
shelf, which had belonged to my mother, 
and I was very thankful that I did not 
care for " extra things " or new furniture 
and carpets enough to take boarders who 
made one feel as if one were simply a 
colonist of their superior state, and the 
Kepublic was over and gone. 



60 



n 

WE BECOME ACQUAINTED WITH THEM 

It was certainly rather unfortunate, as 
far as the social standing of the Jamesons 
among us was concerned, that they 
brought Grandma Cobb with them. 

Everybody spoke of her as Grandma 
Cobb before she had been a week in the 
village. Mrs. H. Boardman Jameson al- 
ways called her Madam Cobb, but that 
made no difference. People in our vil- 
lage had not been accustomed to address 
old ladies as madam, and they did not 
take kindly to it. Grandma Cobb was of 
a very sociable disposition, and she soon 
developed the habit of dropping into the 
village houses at all hours of the day and 
evening. She was an early riser, and all 
the rest of her family slept late, and she 
161 



We Become Acquainted 

probably found it lonesome. She often 
made a call as early as eight o'clock in 
the morning, and she came as late as ten 
o'clock in the evening When she came 
in the morning she talked, and when she 
came in the evening she sat in her chair 
and nodded. She often kept the whole 
family up, and it was less exasperating 
when she came in the morning, though it 
was unfortunate for the Jamesons. 

If a bulletin devoted to the biography 
of the Jameson family had been posted 
every week on the wall of the town house 
it could have been no more explicit than 
was Grandma Cobb. Whether we would 
or not we soon knew all about them ; the 
knowledge was fairly forced upon us. 
We knew that Mr. II. Boardman Jameson 
had been very wealthy, but had lost most 
of his money the year before through the 
failure of a bank. We knew that his 
wealth had all been inherited, and that 
he would never have been, in Grandma 
Cobb's opinion, capable of earning it him- 
162 



The Jamesons 

self. We knew that lie had obtained, 
through the influence of friends, a posi- 
tion in the custom-house, and we knew 
the precise amount of his salary. We 
knew that the Jamesons had been obliged 
to give up their palatial apartments in 
New York and take a humble flat in a 
less fashionable part of the city. We 
knew that they had always spent their 
summers at their own place at the sea- 
shore, and that this was the first season 
of their sojourn in a little country village 
in a plain house. We knew how hard a 
struggle it had been for them to come here ; 
we knew just how much they paid for their 
board, how Mrs. Jameson never wanted 
anything for breakfast but an egg and a 
hygienic biscuit, and had health food in 
the middle of the forenoon and afternoon. 
We also knew just how old they all 
were, and how the H. in Mr. Jameson's 
name stood for Hiram. We knew that 
Mrs. Jameson had never liked the name 
— might, in fact, have refused to marry 
163 



We Become Acquainted 

on that score had not Grandma Cobb 
reasoned with her and told her that he 
was a worthy man with money, and she 
not as young as she had been ; and how 
she compromised by always using the ab- 
breviation, both in writing and speaking. 
"She always calls him H," said Grandma 
Cobb, "and I tell her sometimes it doesn't 
look quite respectful to speak to her hus- 
band a.s if he were a part of the alphabet." 
Grandma Cobb, if the truth had been told, 
was always in a state of covert rebellion 
against her daughter. 

Grandma Cobb was always dressed in 
a black silk gown which seemed sumptu- 
ous to the women of our village. They 
could scarcely reconcile it with the state- 
ment that the Jamesons had lost their 
money. Black silk of a morning was 
stupendous to them, when they reflected 
how they had, at the utmost, but one 
black silk, and that guarded as if it were 
cloth of gold, worn only upon the grand- 
est occasions, and designed, as they knew 
164 



The Jamesons 

in their secret hearts, though they did not 
proclaim it, for their last garment of 
earth. Grandma Cobb always wore a fine 
lace cap also, which should, according to 
the opinions of the other old ladies of the 
village, have been kept sacred for other 
women's weddings or her own funeral. 
She used her best gold-bowed spectacles 
every day, and was always leaving them 
behind her in the village houses, pud lit- 
tle Tommy or Annie had to run after her 
with a charge not to lose them, for no- 
body knew how much they cost. 

Grandma Cobb always carried about 
with her a paper-covered novel and a 
box of cream peppermints. She ate tlie 
peppermints and freely bestowed them 
upon others; the novel she never read. 
She said quite openly that she only car- 
ried it about to please her daughter, who 
had literary tastes. "She belongs to a 
Shakespeare Club, and a Browning Club, 
and a Current Literature Club," said 
Grandma Cobb. 

i6 5 



We Become Acquainted 

We concluded that she had, feeling al- 
together incapable of even carrying about 
Shakespeare and Browning, compromised 
with peppermints and current literature. 

" That book must be current literature," 
said Mrs. Ketchum one day, " but I looked 
into it when she was at our house, and I 
should not want Adeline to read it." 

After a while people looked upon 
Grandma Cobb's book with suspicion ; but 
since she always carried it, thereby keep- 
ing it from her grandchildren, and never 
read it, we agreed that it could not do 
much harm. 

The very first time that I saw Grandma 
Cobb, at Caroline Liscom's, she had that 
book. I knew it by the red cover and 
a baking-powder advertisement on the 
back ; and the next time also — that was 
it the seventeenth-of-June picnic. 

The whole Jameson family went to 

the picnic, rather to our surprise. I think 

}«eople had a fancy that Mrs. II. Board - 

man Jameson would be above our little 

iGG 



The Jamesons 

Tural picnic. We had yet to understand 
Mrs. Jameson, and learn that, however 
much she really held herself above and 
aloof, she had not the slightest intention 
of letting us alone, perhaps because she 
thoroughly believed in her own non- 
mixable quality. Of course it would al- 
ways be quite safe for oil to go to a picnic 
with water, no matter how exclusive it 
might be. 

The picnic was in Leonard's grove, and 
young and old were asked. The seven- 
teenth-of- June picnic is a regular institu- 
tion in our village. I went with Louisa, 
and little Alice in her new white muslin 
dress; the child had been counting on it 
for weeks. We were nearly all assem- 
bled when the Jamesons arrived. Half a 
dozen of us had begun to lay the table 
for luncheon, though we were not to have 
it for an hour or two. We always 
thought it a good plan to make all our 
preparations in season. We were collect- 
ing the baskets and boxes, and it did look 
167 



We Become Acquainted 

as if we were to have au unusual feast 
that year. Those which we peeped in- 
to appeared especially tempting. Mrs. 
Nathan Butters had brought a great loaf 
of her rich fruit cake, a kind for which 
she is famous in the village, and Mrs. 
Sim White had brought two of her 
whipped-cream pies. Mrs. Ketchum had 
brought six mince pies, which were a real 
rarity in June, and Flora Clark had 
brought a six-quart pail full of those 
jumbles she makes, so rich that if you 
drop one it crumbles to pieces. Then 
there were two great pinky hams and a 
number of chickens. Louisa and I had 
brought a chicken ; we had one of ours 
killed, and I had roasted it the day be- 
fore. 

I remarked to Mrs. Ketchum that we 
should have an unusually nice dinner; 
and so we should have had if it had not 
been for Mrs. H. Boardman Jameson. 

The Jamesons came driving into the 
grove in the Liscom carryall and their 
3 168 



The Jamesons 

buggy. Mr. Jacob Liscom was in charge 
of the carryall, and the Jameson boy was 
on the front seat with him ; on the back 
seat were Grandma, or Madam Cobb, and 
the younger daughter. Harry Liscom 
drove the bay horse in the buggy, and 
Mrs. Jameson and Harriet were with 
him, he sitting between them, very un- 
comfortably, as it appeared — his knees 
were touching the dasher, as he is a tall 
young man. 

Caroline Liscom did not come, and I 
did not wonder at it for one. She must 
have thought it a good chance to rest one 
day from taking boarders. We were sur- 
prised that Mrs. Jameson, since she is 
such a stout woman, did not go in the 
carryall, and let either her younger daugh- 
ter or the boy go with Harry and Harriet 
in the buggy. We heard afterward that 
she thought it necessary that she should 
go with them as a chaperon. That 
seemed a little strange to us, since our 
village girls were all so well conducted 
169 



We Become Acquainted 

that we thought nothing of their going 
buggy-riding with a good young man like 
Harry Lis com; he is a church member 
and prominent in the Sunday-school, and 
this was in broad daylight and the road 
full of other carriages. So people stared 
and smiled a little to see Harry driving 
in with his knees braced against the 
dasher, and the buggy canting to one side 
with the weight of Mrs. H. Boardman 
Jameson. He looked rather shamefaced, 
I thought, though he is a handsome, 
brave young fellow, and commonly car- 
ries himself boldly enough. Harriet 
Jameson looked very pretty, though her 
eostume was not, to my way of thinking, 
quite appropriate. However, I suppose 
that she was not to blame, poor child, 
and it may easily be more embarrassing 
to have old fine clothes than old poor 
ones. Really, Harriet Jameson would 
have looked better dressed that day in an 
old calico gown than the old silk one 
which she wore. Her waist was blue 
170 



The Jamesons 

Bilk with some limp chiffon at the neck 
and sleeves, and her skirt was old brown 
silk all frayed at the bottom and very 
shiny. There were a good many spots on 
it, too, and some mud stains, though it 
had not rained for two weeks. 

However, the girl looked pretty, and 
her hair was done with a stylish air, and 
she wore her old Leghorn hat, with its 
wreath of faded French flowers, in a way 
which was really beyond our girls. 

And as for Harry Liscom, it was plain 
enough to be seen that, aside from his 
discomfiture at the close attendance of 
Mrs. H. Boardman Jameson, he was bliss* 
fully satisfied and admiring. I was rather 
sorry to see it on his account, though I 
had nothing against the girl. I think, on 
general principles, that it is better usually 
for a young man of our village to marry 
one of his own sort; that he has a better 
chance of contentment and happiness. 
However, in this case it seemed quite 
likely that there would be no chance of 
'7* 



We Become Acquainted 

married happiness at all. It did not 
look probable that Mrs. H. Boardman 
Jameson would smile upon her eldest 
daughter's marriage with the son of "a 
good woman," and I was not quite sure 
as to what Caroline Liscom would say. 

Mr. Jacob Liscom is a pleasant-faced, 
mild-eyed man, very tall and slender. 
He lifted out the Jameson buy, who did 
not jump out over the wheel, as boys 
generally do when arriving at a picnic, 
and then he tipped over the front seat 
and helped out Madam Cobb, and the 
younger daughter, whose name was Sarah. 
We had not thought much of such old- 
fashioned names as Harriet and Sarah for 
some years past in our village, and it 
seemed rather odd taste in these city 
people. We considered Hattie and Sadie 
much prettier. Generally the Harriets 
and Sarahs endured only in the seclusion 
of the family Bible and the baptismal 
records. Quite a number of the ladies 
had met Mrs. Jameson, having either 
172 



The Jamesons 

called at Mrs. Lis corn's and seen her 
there, or having spoken to her at church ; 
and as for Grandma Cobb, she had had 
time to visit nearly every house in the 
village, as I knew, though she had not 
been to mine. Grandma Cobb got out, 
all smiling, and Jacob Liscom handed 
her the box of peppermints and the paper- 
covered novel, and then Harry Liscom 
helped out Harriet and her mother. 

Mrs. Jameson walked straight up to us 
who were laying the table, and Harry 
followed her with a curiously abashed 
expression, carrying a great tin cracker- 
box in one hand and a large basket in 
the other. We said good-morning as 
politely as we knew how to Mrs. Jame- 
son, and she returned it with a brisk air 
which rather took our breaths away, it 
was so indicative of urgent and very 
pressing business. Then, to our utter as- 
tonishment, up she marched to the nearest 
basket on the table and deliberately took 
off the cover and began taking out the 

i73 



We Become Acquainted 

content?. It happened to he Mrs. Nathan 
Butters' basket. Mrs. Jameson lifted out 
the great loaf of fruit cake and set it on 
the table with a contemptuous thud, as it 
seemed to us ; then she took out a cran- 
berry pie and a frosted apple pie, and set 
them beside it. She opened Mrs. Peter 
Jones' basket next, and Mrs. Jones stood 
there all full of nervous twitches and saw 
her take out a pile of ham sandwiches 
and a loaf of chocolate cake and a bottle 
of pickles. She went on opening the 
baskets and boxes one after another, and 
we stood watching her. Finally she came 
to the pail full of jumbles, and her hand 
slipped and the most of them fell to the 
ground and were a mass of crumbles. 

Then Mrs. Jameson spoke; she had 
not before said a word. "These are 
enough to poison the whole village," said 
she, and she sniffed with a proud uplift- 
ing of her nose. 

I am sure that a little sound, something 
between a groan and a gasp, came from 
i74 



The Jamesons 

us, but no one spoke. I felt that it was 
fortunate, and yet I was almost sorry that 
Mora Clark, who made those jumbles, 
was not there ; she had gone to pick wild 
flowers with her Sunday-school class. 
Flora is very high-spirited and very proud 
of her jumbles, and I knew that she 
would not have stood it for a minute to 
hear them called poison. There would 
certainly have been words then and there, 
for Flora is afraid of nobody. She is a 
smart, handsome woman, and would have 
been married long ago if it had not been 
for her temper. 

Mrs. Jameson did not attempt to gather 
up the jumbles ; she just went on affcer 
that remark of hers, opening the rest of 
the things; there were only one or two 
more. Then she took the cracker-box 
which Harry had brought; he had stolen 
away to put up his horse, and it looked 
to me very much as if Harriet had stolen 
away with him, for I could not see ker 
anywhere. 

*75 



We Become Acquainted 

Mrs. Jameson lifted this cracker-box 
on to the table and opened it. It was 
quite full of thick, hard-looking biscuits, 
or crackers. She laid them in a pile be- 
side the other things; then she took up 
the basket and opened that. There was 
another kind of a cracker in that, and 
two large papers of something. When 
everything was taken out she pointed at 
the piles of eatables on the table, and ad- 
dressed us : " Ladies, attention ! " rapping 
slightly with a spoon at the same time. 
Her voice was very sweet, with a curious 
kind of forced sweetness: "Ladies, at- 
tention ! I wish you to carefully observe 
the food upon the table before us. I wish 
you to consider it from the standpoint of 
wives and mothers of families. There is 
the food which you have brought, un- 
wholesome, indigestible; there is mine, 
approved of by the foremost physicians 
and men of science of the day. For ten 
years I have had serious trouble with the 
alimentary canal, and this food has kept 
176 



The Jamesons 

me in strength and vigor. Had I at- 
tempted to live upon your fresh biscuits, 
your frosted cakes, your rich pastry, I 
should be in my grave. One of those 
biscuits which you see there before you 
is equal in nourishment to six of your 
indigestible pies, or every cake upon the 
table. The great cause of the insanity and 
dyspepsia so prevalent among the rural 
classes is rich pie and cake. I feel it my 
duty to warn you. I hope, ladies, that you 
will consider carefully what I have said." 

With that, Mrs. Jameson withdrew 
herself a little way and sat down under a 
tree on a cushion which had been brought 
in the carryall. We looked at one an- 
other, but we did not say anything for a 
few minutes. 

Finally, Mrs. White, who is very good- 
natured, remarked that she supposed that 
she meant well, and she had better put 
her pies back in the basket or they would 
dry up. We all began putting back the 
things which Mrs. Jameson had taken 
i77 



We Become Acquainted 

out, except the broken jumbles, and were 
very quiet. However, we could not help 
feeling astonished and aggrieved at what 
Mrs. Jameson had said about the insan- 
ity and dyspepsia in our village, since we 
could scarcely remember one case of in- 
sanity, and very few of us had to be in 
the least careful as to what we ate. Mrs. 
Peter Jones did say in a whisper that if 
Mrs. Jameson had had dyspepsia ten 
years on those hard biscuits it was more 
than any of us had had on our cake and 
pie. We left the biscuits, and the two 
paper packages which Mrs. Jameson had 
brought, in a heap on the table just 
where she had put them. 

After we had replaced the baskets we 
all scattered about, trying to enjoy our- 
selves in the sweet pine woods, but it 
was hard work, we were so much dis- 
turbed by what had happened. We won- 
dered uneasily, too, what Flora Clark 
would say about her jumbles. We were 
all quiet, peaceful people who dreaded 
> 7 8 



The Jamesons 

altercation ; it made our hearts beat too 
fast. Taking it altogether, we felt very 
much as if some great, overgrown bird of 
another species had gotten into our vil- 
lage nest, and we were in the midst of an 
awful commotion of strange wings and 
beak. Still we agreed that Mrs. Jame- 
son had probably meant well. 

Grandma Cobb seemed to be enjoying 
herself. She was moving about, her 
novel under her arm and her peppermint 
box in her hand, holding up her gown 
daintily in front. She spoke to every- 
body affably, and told a number confiden- 
tially that her daughter was very delicate 
about her eating, but she herself believed 
in eating what you liked. Harriet and 
Harry Liscom were still missing, and so 
were the younger daughter, Sarah, and 
the boy. The boy's name, by the way, 
was Cobb, his mother's maiden name. 
That seemed strange to us, but it possibly 
would not have seemed so had it been a 
prettier name. 

179 



We Become Acquainted 

Just before liuich-tiine Cobb and his 
sister Sarah appeared, and they were in 
great trouble. Joints Green, who owns 
the farm next the grove, was with them, 
and actually had Cobb by the hair, hold- 
ing all his gathered-up curls tight in his 
list, lie held Sarah by one arm, too, and 
she was crying. Cobb was crying, too, 
for that matter, and crying out loud like 
a baby. 

Jonas Green is a very brusque man, 
and he did look as angry as I had ever 
seen any one, and when I saw what those 
two were carrying I did not much won- 
der. Their hands were full of squash 
blossoms and potato blossoms, and Jonas 
Green's garden is the pride of his life. 

Jonas Green marched straight up to 
Mrs. Jameson under her tree, and said in 
a loud voice : " Ma'am, if this boy and 
girl are yours I think it is about time 
you taught them better than to tramp 
through folks' fields picking things that 
don't belong to them, and I expect what 
180 



The Jamesons 

I've lost in squashes and potatoes to be 
made good to me." 

We all waited, breathless, and Mrs. 
Jameson put on her eyeglasses and looked 
up. Then she spoke sweetly. 

"My good man," said she, "if, when 
you come to dig your squashes, you find 
less than usual, and when you come to 
pick your potatoes the bushes are not in 
as good condition as they generally are, 
you may come to me and I will make it 
right with you." 

Mrs. Jameson spoke with the greatest 
dignity and sweetness, and we almost 
felt as if she were the injured party, in 
spite of all those squash and potato blos- 
soms. As for Jonas Green, he stared at 
her for the space of a minute, then he 
gave a loud laugh, let go of the boy and 
girl, and strode away. We heard him 
laughing to himself as he went; ail 
through his life the mention of potato 
bushes and digging squashes was enough 
to send him into iits of laughter. It was 
181 



We Beceme Acquainted 

the joke of his lifetime, for Jonas Green 
had never been a merry man, and it was 
probably worth more than the vegetables 
which he had lost. I pitied Cobb and 
Sarah, they were so frightened, and got 
hold of them myself and comforted them. 
Sarah was just such another little timid, 
open-mouthed, wide-eyed sort of thing as 
her brother, and they were merely pick- 
ing flowers, as they supposed. 

" I never saw such beautiful yellow 
t owers, M Sarah said, sobbing and looking 
ruefully at her great bouquet of squash 
blossoms. This little Sarah, who was 
only twelve, and very small and childish 
for her age, said sooner and later many 
ignorant, and yet quaintly innocent things 
about our country life, which were widely 
repeated. It was Sarah who said, when 
she was offered some honey at a village 
tea-drinking, "Oh, will you please tell me 
what time you drive home your bees? 
and do they give honey twice a day like 
the cows ? " It was Sarah who, when 
182 



The Jamesons 

ner brother was very anxious to see the 
pigs on Mr. White's farm, said, "Oh, 
be quiet, Cobb, dear; it is too late to- 
night; the pigs must have gone into their 
holes." 

I think poor Cobb and Sarah might 
have had a pleasant time at the picnic, 
after all — for my little Alice made friends 
with them, and Mi's. Sim White's Charlie 
— had it not been for their mother's 
obliging them to eat her hygienic biscuits 
for their luncheons. It was really pitiful 
to see them looking so wistfully at the 
cake and pie. I had a feeling of relief 
that all the rest of us were not obliged to 
make our repast of hygienic bread. I 
had a fear lest Mrs. Jameson might try 
to force us to do so. However, all she 
did was to wait until we were fairly 
started upon our meal, and then send 
around her children with her biscuits, 
following them herself with the most ten- 
der entreaties that we would put aside that 
unwholesome food and not risk our pre- 
183 



We Become Acquainted 

cious lives. She would not, however, 
allow us to drink our own coffee — about 
that she was firm. She insisted upon our 
making some hygienic coffee which she 
had brought from the city, and we were 
obliged to yield, or appear in a very stub- 
born and ungrateful light. The coffee 
was really very good, and we did not 
mind. The other parcel which she had 
brought contained a health food, to be 
made into a soit of porridge with hot 
water, and little cups of that were passed 
around, Mrs. Jameson's face fairly beam- 
ing with benevolence the while, and there 
was no doubt that she was entirely in 
earnest. 

Still, we were all so disturbed — that is, 
all of us elder people — that I doubt if 
anybody enjoyed that luncheon unless it 
was Grandma Cobb. She did not eat 
hygienic biscuits, but did eat cake and 
pie in unlimited quantities. I was really 
afraid that she would make herself ill 
with Mrs. Butters' fruit cake. One thing 
4 184 



The Jamesons 

was a great relief, to me at least: Flora 
Clark did not know the true story of her 
jumbles until some time afterward. Mrs. 
White told her that the pail had been 
upset and they were broken, and we were 
all so sorry; and she did not suspect. 
We were glad to avoid a meeting between 
her and Mrs. Jameson, for none of us 
felt as if we could endure it then. 

I suppose the young folks enjoyed the 
picnic if we did not, and that was the 
principal thing to be considered, after all. 
I know that Harry Liscom and Harriet 
Jameson enjoyed it, and all the more that 
it was a sort of stolen pleasure. Just 
before we went home I was strolling off 
by myself near the brook, and all of a 
sudden saw the two young things under 
a willow tree. I stood back softly, and 
they never knew that I was there, but 
they were sitting side by side, and 
Harry's arm was around the girl's waist, 
and her head was on his shoulder, and 
they were looking at each other as if they 
185 



Wc Become Acquainted 

eaw angels, and I thought to myself that, 
whether it was due to hygienic bread 
or pie, they were in love— and what 
would Mrs. H. Bcaidman Jameson and 
Caroline Liscom say? 



186 



Ill 

MRS. JAMESON IMPROVES US 

It was some time before we really un- 
derstood that we were to be improved. 
We might have suspected it from the 
episode of the hygienic biscuits at the 
picnic, but we did not. We were not 
fairly aware of it until the Ladies' Sew- 
ing Circle met one afternoon with Mrs. 
Sim White, the president, the first week 
in July. 

It was a very hot afternoon, and I 
doubt if we should have had the meeting 
that day had it not been that we were 
anxious to get off a barrel as soon as 
possible to a missionary in Minnesota. 
The missionary had seven children, the 
youngest only six weeks old, and they 
were really suffering. Flora Clark did 
187 



Mrs. Jameson Improves Us 

say that if it were as hot in Minnesota: 
as it was in Linnville she would not 
thank anybody to send her clothes; she 
would be thankful for the excuse of pov- 
erty to go without them. But Mrs. Sim 
White would not hear to having the meet- 
ing put off ; she said that a cyclone might 
come up any minute in Minnesota and 
cool the air, and then think of all those 
poor children with nothing to cover them. 
Flora Clark had the audacity to say that 
after the cyclone there might not be any 
children to cover, and a few of the 
younger members tittered ; but we never 
took Flora's speeches seriously. She 
always came to the sewing meeting, no- 
matter how much she opposed it, and 
sewed faster than any of us. She came 
that afternoon and made three flannel 
petticoats for three of the children, 
though she did say that she thought the 
money would have been better laid out 
in palm-leaf fans. 

We were astonished to see Mrs. BL 
188 



The Jamesons 

Boardman Jameson come that very hot 
rafternoon, for we knew that she consid- 
ered herself delicate, and, besides, we 
wondered that she should feel interested 
in our sewing circle. Her daughter Har- 
riet came with her; Madam Cobb, as I 
afterward learned, went, instead, to Mrs. 
Ketchum's, and stayed all the afternoon, 
and kept her from going to the meeting 
at all. 

Caroline Liscom came with her board- 
ers, and I knew, the minute I saw her, 
that something was wrong. She had a 
look of desperation and defiance which I 
had seen on her face before. Thinks I to 
myself: "You are all upset over some- 
thing, but you have made up your mind 
to hide it, whether or no." 

Mrs. Jameson had a book in her hand, 
and when she first came in she laid it on 
the table where we cut out our work. 
Mrs. Liscom went around the room with 
her, introducing her to the ladies whom 
she had not met before. I could see that 
189 



Mrs. Jameson Improves Us 

she did not like to do it, and was simply 
swallowing her objections with hard gulps 
every time she introduced her. 

Harriet walked behind her mother and 
Mrs. Liscom, and spoke very prettily 
every time she was addressed. 

Harriet Jameson was really an exceed- 
ingly pretty girl, with a kind of apolo- 
getic sweetness and meekness of manner 
which won her friends. Her dress that 
afternoon was pretty, too: a fine white 
lawn trimmed with very handsome em- 
broidery, and a white satin ribbon at the 
waist and throat. I understood after- 
ward that Mrs. Jameson did not allow 
her daughters to wear their best clothes 
generally to our village festivities, but 
kept them for occasions in the city, since 
their fortunes were reduced, thinking that 
their old finery, though it might be a little 
the worse for wear, was good enough for 
our unsophisticated eyes. But that might 
not have been true ; Harriet was very well 
dressed that afternoon, at all events. 
190 



The Jamesons 

Mrs. Jameson seemed to be really very 
affable. She spoke cordially to us all, 
and then asked to have some work given 
her; but, as it happened, there was noth- 
ing cut out except a black dress for the 
missionary's wife, and she did not like to 
strain her eyes working on black. 

"Let me cut something out," said she 
in her brisk manner ; " I have come here 
to be useful. What is there needing to 
be cut out?" 

It was Flora Clark who replied, and I 
always suspected her of a motive in it, 
for she had heard about her jumbles by 
that time. She said there was a little 
pair of gingham trousers needed for the 
missionary's five-year-old boy, and Mrs. 
Jameson, without a quiver of hesitation, 
asked for the gingham and scissors. I 
believe she would have undertaken a 
suit for the missionary with the same 
alacrity. 

Mrs. Jameson was given another little 
pair of trousers, a size smaller than thos« 
191 



Mrs. Jameson Improves Us 

required, for a pattern, a piece of blue 
and white gingham and the shears, and 
she began. We all watched her fur- 
tively, but she went slashing away with 
as much confidence as if she had served 
an apprenticeship with a tailor in her 
youth. We began to think that possibly 
she knew better how to cut out trousers 
than we did. Mrs. White whispered to 
me that she had heard that many of those 
rich city women learned how to do every- 
thing in case they lost their money, and 
she thought it was so sensible. 

When Mrs. Jameson had finished cut- 
ting out the trousers, which was in a 
very short space of time, she asked for 
some thread and a needle, and Flora 
Clark started to get some, and got there- 
by an excuse to examine the trousers. 
She looked at them, and held them up 
so we all could see, and then she spoke. 

"Mrs. Jameson," said she, "these are 
cut just alike back and front, and they 
are large enough for a boy of twelve.* 
192 



The Jamesons 

She spoke very clearly and decisively. 
Flora Clark never minces matters. 

We fairly shivered with terror as to 
what would come next, and poor Mrs. 
White clutched my arm hard. "Oh," 
she whispered, " I am so sorry she spoke 
so.* 

But Mrs. Jameson was not so easily 
put down. She replied very coolly and 
sweetly, and apparently without the 
slightest resentment, that she had made 
them so on purpose, so that the boy 
would not outgrow them, and she always 
thought it better to have the back and 
front cut alike; the trousers could then 
be worn either way, and would last much 
longer. 

To our horror, Flora Clark spoke again. 
u I guess you are right about their last- 
ing," said she; "I shouldn't think those 
trousers would wear out any faster on a 
five-year-old boy than they would on a 
pair of tongs. They certainly won't 
touch him anywhere." 
i93 



Mrs. Jameson Improves Us 

Mrs. Jameson only smiled in her 
calmly superior way at that, and we 
concluded that she must be good-tem- 
pered. As for Flora, she said nothing 
more, and we all felt much relieved. 

Mrs. Jameson went to sewing on the 
trousers with the same confidence with 
which she had cut them out; but I must 
say we had a little more doubt about her 
skill. She sewed with incredible swift- 
ness ; I did not time her exactly, but it 
did not seem to me that she was more 
than an hour in making those trousers. 
I know the meeting began at two o'clock, 
and it was not more than half -past three 
when she announced that they were done. 

Flora Clark rose, and Mrs. White 
clutched her skirt and held her back 
while she whispered something. How- 
ever, Flora went across the room to the 
table, and held up the little trousers that 
we all might see. Mrs. Jameson had 
done what many a novice in trousers- 
making does: sewed one leg over the 
194 



The Jamesons 

other and made a bag of them. The} 
were certainly a comical sight. 1 don't 
know whether Flora's sense of humor got 
the better of her wrath, or whether Mrs. 
White's expostulation influenced her, but 
she did not ,say one word, only stood there 
holding the trousers, her mouth twitching. 
As for the rest of us, it was all we could 
do to keep our faces straight. Mrs. 
Jameson was looking at her book, and 
did not seem to notice anything; and 
Harriet was sitting with her back to 
Flora, of which I was glad. I should 
have been sorry to have had the child's 
feelings hurt. 

Flora laid the trousers on the table and 
came back to her seat without a word, 
and I know that Mrs. White sat up nearly 
all night ripping them, and cutting them 
over, and sewing them together again, in 
season to have them packed in the barrel 
the next day. 

In the mean time, Mrs. Jameson was 
finding the place in her book; and just as 
*95 



Mrs. Jameson Improves Us 

Mrs. Peter Jones had asked Mrs. Butters 
if it were true that Dora Peckham was 
going to marry Thomas Wells and had 
bought her wedding dress, and before 
Mrs. Butters had a chance to answer 
her (she lives next door to the Peck- 
hams), she rapped with the scissors on 
the table. 

"Ladies," said she. "Ladies, atten- 
tion ! " 

I suppose we all did stiffen up invol- 
untarily; it was so obviously not Mrs. 
Jameson's place to call us to order and 
attention. Of course she should have 
been introduced by our President, who 
should herself have done the rapping 
with the scissors. Flora Clark opened 
her mouth to speak, but Mrs. White 
clutched her arm and looked at her so 
beseechingly that she kept quiet. 

Mrs. Jameson continued, utterly un- 
conscious of having given any offence. 
We supposed that she did not once think 
it possible that we knew what the usages 
196 



The Jamesons 

of ladies' societies were. "Ladies," said 
she, " I am sure that you will all prefer 
having your minds improved and your 
spheres enlarged by the study and con- 
templation of one of the greatest authors 
of any age, to indulging in narrow vil- 
lage gossip. I will now read to you a 
selection from Robert Browning." 

Mrs. Jameson said Eobert Browning 
with such an impressive and triumphantly 
introductory air that it was almost im- 
possible for a minute not to feel that 
Browning was actually there in our sew- 
ing circle. She made a little pause, too, 
which seemed to indicate just that. It 
was borne upon Mrs. White's mind that 
she ought to clap, and she made a feeble 
motion with her two motherly hands 
which one or two of us echoed. 

Mrs. Jameson began to read the selec- 
tion from Robert Browning. Now, as I 
have said before, we have a literary soci- 
ety in our village, but we have never 
attempted to read Browning at our meet- 
197 



Mrs. Jameson Improves Us 

h»gs. Some of us read him a little and 
strive to appreciate him, but we have 
been quite sure that some other author 
would interest a larger proportion of the 
ladies. I don't suppose that more than 
three of us had ever read or even heard 
of the selection which Mrs. Jameson read. 
It was, to my way of thinking, one of 
the most difficult of them all to be under- 
stood by an untrained mind, but we lis- 
tened politely, and with a semblance, at 
least, of admiring interest. 

I think Harriet Jameson was at first 
the only seriously disturbed listener, to 
judge from her expression. The poor 
child looked so anxious and distressed 
that I was sorry for her. I heard after- 
ward that she had begged her mother not 
to take the Browning book, saying that 
she did not believe the ladies would like 
it; and Mrs. Jameson had replied that she 
felt it to be her duty to teach them to 
like it, and divert their minds from the 
petty gossip which she had always heard 
198 



The Jamesons 

was the distinguishing feature of rural 
sewing meetings. 

Mrs. Jameson read and read; when 
she had finished the first selection she 
read another. At half -past four o'clock, 
Mrs. White, who had been casting dis- 
tressed glances at me, rose and stole out 
on tiptoe. 

I knew why she did so ; Mrs. Bemis' 
hired girl next door was baking her bis- 
cuits for her that she need not heat her 
house up, and she had brought them in. 
I heard the kitchen door open. 

Presently Mrs. White stole in again 
and tried to listen politely to the reading, 
but her expression was so strained to 
maintain interest that one could see the 
anxiety underneath. I knew what wor- 
ried her before she told me, as she did 
presently. " I have rolled those biscuits 
up in a cloth," she whispered, "but I am 
dreadfully afraid that they will be spoiled." 

Mrs. Jameson began another selection, 
and I did pity Mrs. White. She whis- 
199 



Mrs. Jameson Improves Us 

pered to me again that her table was not 
set, and the biscuits would certainly be 
spoiled. 

The selection which Mrs. Jameson was 
then reading was a short one, and I saw 
Mrs. White begin to brighten as she evi- 
dently drew near the end. But her joy 
was of short duration, as Mrs. Jameson 
began another selection. 

However, Mrs. White laid an implor- 
ing hand on Flora Clark's arm when she 
manifested symptoms of rising and inter- 
rupting the reading. Flora was getting 
angr} 7 — I knew by the way her forehead 
was knitted and by the jerky way she 
sewed. Poor Harriet Jameson looked 
more and more distressed. I was sure 
she saw Mrs. White holding back Flora, 
and knew just what it meant. Harriet 
was sitting quite idle with her little 
hands in her lap ; we had set her to hem- 
ming a ruffle for the missionary's wife's 
dress, but her stitches were so hopelessly 
uneven that I had quietly taken it from 
5 200 



The Jamesons 

her and told her I was out of work and 
would do it myself. The poor child had 
blushed when she gave it up. She evi- 
dently knew her deficiencies. 

Mrs. Jameson read selections from 
Robert Browning until six 'oclock, and 
by that time Mrs. White had attained to 
the calmness of despair. At a quarter of 
six she whispered to me that the biscuits 
were spoiled, and then her face settled 
into an expression of stony peace. When 
Mrs. Jameson finally closed her book 
there was a murmur which might have 
been considered expressive of relief or 
applause, according to the amount of self- 
complacency of the reader. Mrs. Jame- 
son evidently considered it applause, for 
she bowed in a highly gracious manner, 
and remarked : " I am very glad if I have 
given you pleasure, ladies, and I shall be 
more than pleased at some future time to 
read some other selections even superior 
to these which I have given, and also to 
make some remarks upon them." 
201 



Mrs. Jameson Improves Us 

There was another murmur, which 
might have been of pleasure at the pros- 
pect of the future reading, or the respite 
from the present one; I was puzzled to 
know which it did mean. 

We always had our supper at our sew- 
ing meetings at precisely five o'clock, and 
now it was an hour later. Mrs. White 
rose and went out directly, and Flora 
Clark and I followed her to assist. We 
began laying the table as fast as we could, 
while Mrs. White was cutting the cake. 
The ladies of the society brought the cake 
and pie, and Mrs. White furnished the 
bread and tea. However, that night it 
was so very warm we had decided to have 
lemonade instead of tea. Mrs. White 
had put it to vote among the ladies when 
they first came, and we had all decided in 
favor of lemonade. There was another 
reason for Mrs. White not having tea: 
she has no dining-room, but eats in her 
kitchen summer and winter. It is a very 
large room, but of course in such heat as 
202 



The Jamesons 

there was that day even a little fire would 
have made it unendurably warm. So she 
had planned to have her biscuits baked in 
Mrs. Bemis' stove and have lemonade. 

Our preparations were nearly com- 
pleted, and we were placing the last things 
on the table, when my sister-in-law, 
Louisa Field, came out, and I knew that 
something was wrong. 

"What is the matter? " said I. 

Louisa looked at Flora as if she were 
almost afraid to speak, but finally it came 
out: Mrs. Jameson must have some hot 
water to prepare her health food, as she 
dared not eat our hurtful cake and pie, 
especially m such heat. 

Flora Clark's eyes snapped. She could 
not be repressed any longer, so she turned 
on poor Louisa as if she were the offender. 
* Let her go home, then ! " said she. " She 
sha'n't have any hot water in this 
house ! ' 

Flora spoke very loud, and Mrs. White 
was in agony. " Oh, Flora ! don't, don't I " 
203 



Mrs. Jameson Improves Us 

said she. But she looked at the cold 
kitchen stove in dismay. 

I suggested boiling the kettle on Mrs. 
Bemis' stove ; but that could not be done, 
for the hired girl had gone away buggy- 
riding with her beau after she had brought 
in the biscuits, and Mrs. Bemis was not 
at the sewing circle : her mother, in the 
next town, was ill, and she had gone to 
see her. So the Bemis house was locked 
up, and the fire no doubt out. Mrs. 
White lives on an outlying farm, and 
there was not another neighbor within a 
quarter of a mile. If Mrs. Jameson must 
have that hot water for her hygienic food 
there was really nothing to do but to 
make up the fire in the kitchen stove, no 
matter how uncomfortable we all might 
be in consequence. 

Flora Clark said in a very loud voice, 
and Mrs. White could not hush her, that 
she would see Mrs. II. Boardman Jame- 
son in Gibraltar first; and she was so in- 
dignant because Mrs. White began to put 
204 



The Jamesons 

kindlings into the stove that she stalked 
off into the other room. Mrs. White 
begged me to follow her and try to keep 
her quiet, but I was so indignant myself 
that I was almost tempted to wish she 
would speak out her mind. I ran out 
and filled the tea-kettle, telling Mrs. 
White that I guessed Flora wouldn't say 
anything, and we started the fire. 

It was a quarter of seven before the 
water was hot, and we asked the ladies 
to walk out to supper. Luckily, the gen- 
tlemen were not coming that night. It 
was haying-time, and we had decided, 
since we held the meeting principally be- 
cause of the extra work, that we would 
not have them. We often think that the 
younger women don't do as much work 
when the gentlemen are coming ; they are 
upstairs so long curling their hair and 
prinking. 

I wondered if Flora Clark had said 
anything. I heard afterward that she 
had not, but I saw at once that she was 
205 



Mis. Jameson Improves Us 

endeavoring to wreak a little revenge 
upon Mrs. Jameson. By a series of very 
skilful and scarcely perceptible manoeu- 
vres she gently impelled Mrs. Jameson, 
without her being aware of it, into the 
seat directly in front of the stove. I 
knew it was not befitting my age and 
Christian character, but I was glad to 
see her there. The heat that night was 
something terrific, and the fire in the 
stove, although we had made no more 
than we could help, had increased it de- 
cidedly. I thought that Mrs. Jameson, 
between the stove at her back and the 
hot water in her health food, would have 
her just deserts. It did seem as if she 
must be some degrees warmer than any 
of the rest of us. 

However, who thought to inflict just 
deserts upon her reckoned without Mrs. 
H. Boardman Jameson. She began stir- 
ring the health food, which she had 
brought, in her cup of hot water; but 
suddenly she looked around, saw the stove 
206 



The Jamesons 

at her back, and sweetly asked Mrs. 
White if she could not have another seat, 
as the heat was very apt to affect her 
head. 

It was Harriet, after all, upon whom 
the punishment for her mother's thought- 
lessness fell. She jumped up at once, 
and eagerly volunteered to change seats 
with her. 

" Indeed, my place is quite cool, mam- 
ma," she said. So Mrs. Jameson and her 
daughter exchanged places ; and I did not 
dare look at Flora Clark. 

Though the kitchen was so hot, I think 
we all felt that we had reason to be thank- 
ful that Mrs. Jameson did not beseech us 
to eat health food as she did at the pic- 
nic, and also that the reading was over 
for that day. 

Louisa, when we were going home that 
night, said she supposed that Mrs. Jame- 
son would try to improve our literary 
society also; and she was proved to be 
right in her supposition at the very next 
207 



Mrs. Jameson Improves Us 

meeting. Mrs. Jameson came, and she 
not only read selections from Browning, 
but she started us in that mad problem 
of Shakespeare and Bacon. Most of the 
ladies in our society had not an intimate 
acquaintance with either, having had, if 
the truth were told, their minds too fully 
occupied with such humble domestic 
questions of identity as whether Johnny 
or Tommy stole the sugar. 

However, when we were once fairly 
started there was no end to our interest; 
we all agonized over it, and poor Mrs. 
Sim White was so exercised over the 
probable deception cf either Bacon or 
Shakespeare, in any case, that she told 
m 3 privately that she was tempted to 
leave the literary society and confine her- 
self to her Bible. 

There was actual animosity between 
some members of our society in conse- 
quence. Mrs. Charles Eoot and Rebecca 
Snow did not speak to each other for 
weeks because Mrs. Boot believed that 
208 



The Jamesons 

Shakespeare was Bacon, and Eebecca be* 
lieved he was himself. Rebecca even 
stayed away from church and the society 
on that account. 

Mrs. Jameson expressed herself as very 
much edified at our interest, and said she 
considered it a proof that our spheres 
were widening. 

Louisa and I agreed that if we could 
only arrive at a satisfactory conclusion in 
the matter we should feel that ours were 
wider; and Flora Clark said it did not 
seem of much use to her, since Shake- 
speare and Bacon were both dead and 
gone, and we were too much concerned 
with those plays which were written any- 
how, and no question about it, to bother 
about anything else. It did not seem to 
her that the opinion of our literary soci- 
ety would make much difference to either 
of them, and that possibly we had better 
spend our time in studying the plays. 

At the second meeting of our society 
which Mrs. Jameson attended she gave 
209 



Mrs. Jameson Improves Us 

us a lecture, which she had written and 
delivered before her Shakespeare club in 
the city. It was upon the modem drama, 
and we thought it must be very instruc- 
tive, only as few of us ever went to the 
theatre, or even knew the name of a 
modem playwright, it was almost like a 
lecture in an unknown tongue. Mrs. 
Ketchum went to sleep and snored, and 
told me on the way home that she did 
not mean to be ungrateful, but she could 
not help feeling that it would have been 
as improving for her to stay at home and 
read a new Sunday-school book that she 
was interested in. 

Mrs. Jameson did not confine herself 
in her efforts for our improvement to our 
diet and our literary tastes. After she 
had us fairly started in our bewildering 
career on the tracks of Bacon and Shake- 
speare — doing a sort of amateur detective 
work in the tombs, as it were — and after 
she had induced the storekeeper to lay in 
a supply of health food — which ho finally 



The Jamesons 

fed to the chickens — she turned her atten- 
tion to our costumes. She begged us to 
cut off our gowns at least three inches 
around the bottoms, for wear when en- 
gaged in domestic pursuits, and she tried 
to induce mothers to take off the shoes 
and stockings of their small children, and 
let them run barefoot. Children of a 
larger growth in our village quite gener- 
ally go barefoot in the summer, but the 
little ones are always, as a rule, well 
shod. Mrs. Jameson said that it was 
much better for them also to go without 
shoes and stockings, and Louisa and I 
were inclined to think she might be right 
— it does seem to be the natural way of 
things. But people rather resented her 
catching their children on the street and 
stripping off their shoes and stockings, 
and sending the little things home with 
then in their hands. However, their 
mothers put on the shoes and stockings, 
and thought she must mean well. Very 
few of them said anything to her by way 



Mrs. Jameson Improves Us 

of expostulation ; but the children finally 
ran when they saw her coming, so they 
would not have their shoes and stockings 
taken off. 

All this time, while Mrs. H. Boardman 
Jameson was striving to improve us, her 
daughter Harriet was seemingly devoting 
all her energies to the improvement of 
Harry Liscom, or to the improvement of 
her own ideal in his heart, whichever it 
may have been ; and I think she succeeded 
in each case. 

Neither Mrs. Liscom nor Mrs. Jame- 
son seemed aware of it, but people began 
to say that Harry Liscom and the eldest 
Jameson girl w r ere going together. 

I had no doubt of it after what I had 
seen in the grove ; and one evening during 
the last of July I had additional evidence. 
In the cool of the day I strolled down the 
road a little way, and finally stopped at 
the old Wray house. Nobody lived there 
then; it had been shut up for many a 
year. I thought I would sit down on the 

212 



The Jamesons 

old doorstep and rest, and I had barely 
settled myself when I heard voices. They 
came around the corner from the south 
piazza, and I could not help hearing 
what they said, though I rose and went 
away as soon as I had my wits about me 
and fairly knew that I was eavesdropping. 

"You are so far above me," said a boy's 
voice which I knew was Harry Lis corn's. 

Then came the voice of the girl in 
reply: "Oh, Harry, it is you who are so 
far above me. " Then I was sure that they 
kissed each other. 

I reflected as I stole softly away, lest 
they should discover me and be ashamed, 
that, after all, it was only love which 
could set people upon immeasurable 
heights in each other's eyes, and stimu- 
late them to real improvement and to live 
up to each other's ideals. 



213 



IV 

THEY TAKE A FARM 

I had wondered a little, after Mrs. 
Jameson's frantic appeal to me to secure 
another boarding-place for her, that she 
seemed to settle down so contentedly 
at Caroline Liscom's. She said nothing 
more about her dissatisfaction, if she felt 
any. However, I fancy that Mrs. Jame- 
son is one to always conceal her distaste 
for the inevitable, and she must have 
known that she could not have secured 
another boarding-place in Linnville. As 
for Caroline Liscom, her mouth is always 
closed upon her own affairs until they 
have become matters of history. She 
never said a word to me about the Jame- 
sons until they had ceased to be her 
boarders, which was during the first week 
214 



The Jamesons 

in August. My sister-in-law, Louisa 
Field, came home one afternoon with the 
news. She had been over to Mrs. Gregg's 
to get her receipt for blackberry jam, and 
had heard -it there. Mrs. Gregg always 
knew about the happenings in our village 
before they fairly gathered form on the 
horizon of reality. 

"What do you think, Sophia?" said 
Louisa when she came in — she did not 
wait to take off her hat before she began 
— "the Jamesons are going to leave the 
Lis corns, and they have rented the old 
Wray place, and are going to run the farm 
and raise vegetables and eggs. Mr. Jame- 
son is coming on Saturday night, and 
they are going to move in next Monday. * 

I was very much astonished; I had 
never dreamed that the Jamesons had 
any taste for farming, and then, too, it 
was so late in the season. 

" Old Jonas Martin is planting the gar- 
den now," said Louisa. " I saw him as I 
came past." 

215 



They Take a Farm 

"The garden," said I; "why, it is the 
first of August ! " 

" Mrs. Jameson thinks that she can raise 
late peas and corn, and set hens so as to 
have spring chickens very early in the sea- 
son, " replied Louisa, laughing; "at least,, 
that is what Mrs. Gregg says. The Jame- 
sons are going to stay here until the last of 
October, and then Jonas Martin is going to 
take care of the hens through the winter. " 

I remembered with a bewildered feel- 
ing what Mrs. Jameson had said about 
not wanting to board with people who 
kept hens, and here she was going to keep 
them herself. 

Louisa and I wondered what kind of a 
man Mr. H. Boardman Jameson might 
be ; he had never been to Linnville, being 
kept in the city by his duties at the 
custom-house. 

" I don't believe that he will have much 
to say about the farm while Mrs. Jame- 
son has a tongue in her head," said 
Louisa; and I agreed with her. 
6 216 



The Jamesons 

When we saw Mr. H. Boardman Jame- 
son at church the next Sunday we were 
confirmed in our opinion. 

He was a small man, much smaller 
than his wife, with a certain air of de- 
funct style about him. He had quite a 
fierce bristle of moustache, and a nervous 
briskness of carriage, yet there was some- 
thing that was unmistakably conciliatory 
and subservient in his bearing toward 
Mrs. Jameson. He stood aside for her 
to enter the pew, with the attitude of 
vassalage ; he seemed to respond with an 
echo of deference to every rustle of her 
silken skirts and every heave of her wide 
shoulders. Mrs. Jameson was an Episco- 
palian, and our church is Congregational. 
Mrs. Jameson did not attempt to kneel 
when she entered, but bent her head for- 
ward upon the back of the pew in front 
of her. Mr. Jameson waited until she 
fcras fairly in position, with observant and 
anxious eyes upon her, before he did like- 
wise. 

217 



They Take a Farm 

This was really the first Sunday on 
which Mrs. Jameson herself had appeared 
at church. Ever since she had been in 
our village the Sundays had been excep- 
tionally warm, or else rainy and disagree- 
able, and of course Mrs. Jameson was 
in delicate health. The girls and Cobb 
had attended faithfully, and always sat 
in the pew with the Lis coins. To-day 
Harry and his father sat in the Jones 
pew to make room for the two elder 
Jamesons. 

There was an unusual number at meet- 
ing that morning, partly, no doubt, be- 
cause it had been reported that Mr. Jame- 
son was to be there, and that made a 
little mistake of his and his wife's more 
conspicuous. The minister read that 
morning the twenty-third Psalm, and 
after he had finished the first verse Mrs. 
Jameson promptly responded with the 
second, as she would have done in her 
own church, raising her solitary voice 
with great emphasis. It would not have 
218 



The Jamesons 

been so ludicrous had not poor Mr. Jame- 
son, evidently seeing the mistake, and his 
face blazing, yet afraid to desert his wife's 
standard, followed her dutifully just a 
few words in the rear. While Mrs. 
Jameson was beside the still waters, Mr. 
Jameson was in the green pastures, and 
so on. I pitied the Jameson girls. Har- 
riet looked ready to cry with mortifica- 
tion, and Sarah looked so alarmed that I 
did not know but she would run out of 
the church. As for Cobb, he kept staring 
at his mother, and opening his mouth to 
speak, and swallowing and never saying 
anything, until it seemed as if he might 
go into convulsions. People tried not to 
laugh, but a little repressed titter ran over 
the congregation, and the minister's voice 
shook. Mrs. Jameson was the only one 
who did not appear in the least disturbed ; 
she did not seem to realize that she had 
done anything unusual. 

Caroline Liscom was not at church — 
indeed, she had not been much since the 
219 



They Take a Farm 

boarders arrived ; she had to stay at home 
to get the dinner. Louisa and I won- 
dered whether she was relieved or dis- 
turbed at losing her boarders, and whether 
we should ever know which. When we 
passed the Wray house on our way home, 
and saw the blinds open, and the fresh 
mould in the garden, and the new shin- 
gles shining on the hen-house roof, we 
speculated about it. 

"Caroline had them about nine weeks, 
and at fifteen dollars a week she will have 
one hundred and thirty-five dollars," said 
Louisa. "That will buy her something 
extra. " 

" I know that she has been wanting 
some portieres for her parlor, and a new 
set for her spare chamber, and maybe that 
is what she will get," said I. And I said 
furthermore that I hoped she would feel 
paid for her hard work and the strain it 
must have been on her mind. 

Louisa and I are not very curious, but 
the next day we did watch — though 
220 



The Jamesons 

rather furtively — the Jamesons moving 
into the old Wray house. 

All day we saw loads of furniture pass- 
ing, which must have been bought in 
Orover. So many of the things were 
sewed up in burlap that we could not tell 
much about them, which was rather un- 
fortunate. It was partly on this account 
that we did not discourage Tommy Gregg 
— who had been hanging, presumably 
with his mother's connivance, around the 
old Wray house all day — from reporting 
to us as we were sitting on the front door- 
step in the twilight. Mrs. Peter Jones 
and Amelia Powers had run over, and 
were sitting there with Louisa and me. 
Little Alice had gone to bed ; we had re- 
fused to allow her to go to see what was 
going on, and yet listened to Tommy 
Gregg's report, which was not, I suppose, 
to our credit. I have often thought that 
punctilious people will use cats '-paws to 
gratify curiosity when they would scorn 
to use them for anything else. Still, 

221 



They Take a Farm 

neither Louisa nor I would have actually* 
beckoned Tommy Gregg up to the door, 
as Mrs. Jones did, though I suppose we 
had as much cause to be ashamed, for we 
certainly listened full as greedily as she. 

It seemed to me that Tommy had seen 
all the furniture unpacked, and much of 
it set up, by lurking around in the silent, 
shrinking, bright-eyed fashion that he 
has. Tommy Gregg is so single-minded 
in his investigations that I can easily 
imagine that he might seem as impersonal 
as an observant ray of sunlight in the 
window. Anyway, he had evidently seen 
everything, and nobody had tried to stop 
him. 

"It ain't very handsome," said Tommy 
Gregg with a kind of disappointment and 
wonder. " There ain't no carpets in the 
house except in Grandma Cobb's room, 
and that's jest straw mattin' ; and there's 
some plain mats without no roses on 'em ; 
and there ain't no stove 'cept in the 
kitchen; jest old andirons like mother 
222 



The Jamesons 

keeps up garret; and there ain't no stuffed 
furniture at all ; and they was eatin' sup- 
per without no table-cloth." 

Amelia Powers and Mrs. Jones thought 
that it was very singular that the Jame- 
sons had no stuffed furniture, but Louisa 
and I did not feel so. We had often 
wished that we could afford to change the 
haircloth furniture, which I had had 
when I was married, for some pretty rat- 
tan or plain wood chairs. Louisa and I 
rather fancied the Jamesons' style of 
house-furnishing when we called there. 
It was rather odd, certainly, from our 
Tillage standpoint, and we were not ac- 
customed to see bare floors if people 
could possibly buy a carpet; the floors 
were pretty rough in the old house, too. 
It did look as if some of the furniture 
was sliding down-hill, and it was quite 
a steep descent from the windows to the 
chimney in all the rooms. Of course, a 
carpet would have taken off something of 
that effect. Another thing struck us as 
223 



They Take a Farm 

odd, and really scandalized the village at 
large: the Jamesons had taken down 
every closet and cupboard door in the 
house. They had hung curtains before 
the clothes- closets, but the shelves of the 
pantry which opened out of the dining- 
room, and the china-closet in the parlor, 
were quite exposed, and furnished with, 
to us, a very queer assortment of dishes. 
The Jamesons had not one complete set, 
and very few pieces alike. They had 
simply ransacked the neighborhood for 
forsaken bits of crockery-ware, the rem- 
nants of old wedding-sets which had been 
long stored away on top shelves, or used 
for baking or preserving purposes. 

I remember Mrs. Gregg laughing, and 
saying that the Jamesons were tickled to 
death to get some old blue cups which 
she had when she was married and did 
not pay much for then, and had used for 
fifteen years to put up her currant jelly 
in; and had paid her enough money for 
them to make up the amount which she 
224 



The Jamesons 

had been trying to earn, by selling eggs, 
to buy a beautiful new tea-set of a brown- 
and- white ware. I don't think the Jame- 
sons paid much for any of the dishes 
which they bought in our village ; we are 
not very shrewd people, and it did not 
seem right to ask large prices for articles 
which had been put to such menial uses. 
I think many things were given them. 
I myself gave Harriet Jameson an old 
blue plate and another brown one which 
I had been using to bake extra pies in 
when my regular pie-plates gave out. 
They were very discolored and cracked, 
but I never saw anybody more pleased 
than Harriet was. 

I suppose the special feature of the 
Jamesons' household adornments which 
roused the most comment in the village 
was the bean-pots. The Jamesons, who 
did not like baked beans and never cooked 
them, had bought, or had given them, 
a number of old bean-pots, and had them 
fitting about the floor and on the tables 
225 



They Take a Farm 

with wild flowers in them. People could 
not believe that at first; they thought 
they must be some strange kind of vase 
which they had had sent from New York. 
They cast sidelong glances of sharpest 
scrutiny at them when they called. When 
they discovered that they were actually 
bean-pots, and not only that, but were 
sitting on the floor, which had never been 
considered a proper place for bean-pots in 
any capacity, they were really surprised. 
Mora Clark said that for her part her 
bean-pot went into the oven with beans in 
it, instead of into the corner with flowers 
in it, as long as she had her reason. But 
I must say I did not quite agree with her. 
I have only one bean-pot, and we eat 
beans, therefore mine has to be kept 
sacred to its original mission ; and I must 
say that I thought Mrs. Jameson's with 
goldenrod in it really looked better than 
mine with beans. I told Louisa that I 
could not see why the original states of 
inanimate things ought to be remembered 
226 



The Jamesons 

against them when they were elevated to 
finer uses any more than those of people, 
and now that the bean-pot had become a 
vase in a parlor why its past could not be 
forgotten. Louisa agreed with me, but 
I don't doubt that many people never 
looked at those pots full of goldenrod 
without seeing beans. It was to my 
way of thinking more their misfortune 
than the Jamesons' mistake; and they 
made enough mistakes which were not to 
be questioned not to have the benefit of 
any doubt. 

Soon the Jamesons, with their farm, 
were the standing joke in our village. I 
had never known there was such a strong 
sense of humor among us as their pro- 
ceedings awakened. Mr. H. Boardman 
Jameson did not remain in Fairville long, 
as he had to return to his duties at 
the custom-house. Mrs. Jameson, who 
seemed to rouse herself suddenly from 
the languid state which she had assumed 
at times, managed the farm. She cer- 
227 



They Take a Farm 

tainly had original ideas and the courage 
of her convictions. 

She stopped at nothing; even Nature 
herself she had a try at, like some met- 
tlesome horse which does not like to be 
balked by anything in the shape of a 
wall- 
Old Jonas Martin was a talker, and he 
talked freely about the people for whom 
he worked. "Old Deacon Sears had a 
cow once that would jump everything. 
Wa'n't a wall could be built that was 
high enough to stop her," he would say. 
" 'Tain't no ways clear to my mind that 
she ain't the identical critter that jumped 
the moon ; — and I swan if Mis' Jameson 
ain't like her. There ain't nothin' that's 
goin' to stop her; she ain't goin' to be 
hendered by any sech little things as 
times an' seasons an' frost from raisin' 
corn an' green peas an' flowers in her 
garden. 'The frost'll be a-nippin' of 'em, 
marm,' says I, 'as soon as they come up, 
marm/ 'I wish vou to leave that to me, 
228 



The Jamesons 

my good man,' says she. Law, she ain't 
a-goin' to hev any frost a-nippin' her gar- 
den unless she's ready for it. And as for 
the chickens, I wouldn't like to be in 
their shoes unless they hatch when Mis 1 
Jameson she wants 'em to. They have 
to do everything else she wants 'em to, 
and I dunno but they'll come to time on 
that. They're the fust fowls I ever see 
that a woman could stop scratchm'." 

With that, old Jonas Martin would 
pause for a long cackle of mirth, and his 
auditor would usually join him, for Mrs. 
Jameson's hens were enough to awaken 
merriment, and no mistake. Louisa and 
I could never see them without laughing 
enough to cry; and as for little Alice, 
who, like most gentle, delicate children, 
was not often provoked to immoderate 
laughter, she almost went into hysterics. 
"We rather dreaded to have her catch 
sight of the Jameson hens. There were 
twenty of them, great, fat Plymouth 
Rocks, and every one cf them in shoes, 
229 



They Take a Farm 

■which were made of pieces of thick cloth 
sewed into little bags and tied firmly 
around the legs of the fowls, and they 
were effectually prevented thereby from 
scratching up the garden seeds. The 
gingerly and hesitating way in which 
these hens stepped around the Jameson 
premises was very funny. It was quite 
a task for old Jonas Martin to keep the 
hens properly shod, for the cloth buskins 
had to be often renewed; and distressed 
squawkings amid loud volleys of aged 
laughter indicated to us every day what 
was going on. 

The Jamesons kept two Jersey cows, 
and Mrs. Jameson caused their horns to 
be wound with strips of cloth terminating 
in large, soft balls of the same, to prevent 
their hooking. When the Jamesons first 
began farming, their difficulty in suiting 
themselves with cows occasioned much 
surprise. They had their pick of a num- 
ber of fine ones, but invariably took them 
on trial, and promptly returned them 
230 



The Jamesons 

with the message that they were not sat- 
isfactory. Old Jonas always took back 
the cows, and it is a question whether or 
not he knew what the trouble was, and 
was prolonging the situation for his own 
enjoyment. 

At last it came out. Old Jonas came 
leading back two fine Jerseys to Sim 
White's, and he said, with a great chuckle : 
" Want to know what aib these ere crit- 
ters, Sim? Well, I'll tell ye: they ain't 
got no upper teeth. The Jamesons ain't 
goin' to git took in with no cows without 
no teeth in their upper jaws, you bet." 

That went the rounds of the village. 
Mrs. White was so sorry for the Jame- 
sons in their dilemma of ignorance cf our 
rural wisdom that she begged Sim to go 
over and persuade them that cows were 
created without teeth in their upper jaw, 
and that the cheating, if cheating there 
were, was done by Nature, and all men 
alike were victimized. I suppose Mr. 
White must have convinced her, for they 
2 3* 



They Take a Farm 

bought the cows ; but it must have been 
a sore struggle for Mrs. Jameson at least 
to swallow instruction, for she had the 
confidence of an old farmer in all matters 
pertaining to a farm. 

She, however, did listen readily to one 
singular piece of information which 
brought much ridicule upon them. She 
chanced to say to Wilson Gregg, who is 
something of a wag, and had just sold the 
Jamesons a nice little white pig, that she 
thought that ham was very nice in alter- 
nate streaks of fat and lean, though she 
never ate it herself, and only bought the 
pig for the sake of her mother, who had 
old-fashioned tastes in her eating and 
would have pork, and she thought that 
home-raised would be so much healthier. 

"Why, bless you, ma'am," said he, "if 
you want your ham streaky all you have 
to do is to feed the pig one day and starve 
him the next." 

Tiie Jamesons tried this ingenious plan ; 
then, luckilv for the pig, old Jonas, who 



The Jamesons 

had chuckled over it for a while, revealed 
the fraud and put him on regular rations. 
I suppose the performance of the Jame- 
sons which amused the village the most 
was setting their hens on hard-boiled 
eggs for sanitary reasons. That seemed 
incredible to me at first, but we had it on 
good authority — that of Hannah Bell, a 
farmer's daughter from the West Corners, 
who worked for the Jamesons. She 
declared that she told Mrs. Jameson 
that hens could not set to any pur- 
pose on boiled eggs; but Mrs. Jameson 
had said firmly that they must set upon 
them or none at all ; that she would not 
have eggs about the premises so long 
otherwise ; she did not consider it sani- 
tary. Finally, when the eggs would 
not hatch submitted to such treatment, 
even at her command, she was forced 
to abandon her position, though even 
then with conditions of her surrender t« 
Nature. She caused the nests to be well 
soaked with disinfectants. 
233 



They Take a Farm 

The Jamesons shut the house up the 
last of October and went back to the city, 
and I think most of us were sorry. I 
was, and Louisa said that she missed 
them. 

Mrs. Jameson had not been what we 
call neighborly through the summer, when 
she lived in the next house. Indeed, I 
think she never went into any of the 
village houses in quite a friendly and 
equal way, as we visit one another. 
Generally she came either with a view 
toward improving us — on an errand of 
mercy as it were, which some resented — - 
or else upon some matter of business. 
Still we had, after all, a kindly feeling 
for her, and especially for Grandma Cobb 
and the girls, and the little meek boy. 
Grandma Cobb had certainly visited us, 
and none of us were clever enough to find 
©ut whether it was with a patronizing 
spirit or not. The extreme freedom 
which she took with our houses, almost 
seeming to consider them as her own, 
2 34 



The Jamesons 

living in them some days from dawn till 
late at night, might have indicated either 
patronage or the utmost democracy. 
We missed her auburn-wigged head ap- 
pearing in our doorways at all hours, and 
there was a feeling all over the village as 
if company had gone home. 

I missed Harriet more than any of 
them. During the last of the time she 
had stolen in to see me quite frequently 
when she was released from her mother's 
guardianship for a minute. None of our 
village girls were kept as close as the 
Jamesons. Louisa and I used to wonder 
whether Mrs. Jameson kept any closer 
ward because of Harry Liscom. He cer- 
tainly never went to the Jameson house. 
We knew that either Mrs. Jameson had 
prohibited it, or his own mother. We 
thought it must be Mrs. Jameson, for 
Harry had a will of his own, as well as 
his mother, and was hardly the man te 
yield to her in a matter of this kind with- 
out a struggle. 

235 



They Take a Farm 

Though Harry did not go to the Jame- 
son house, I, for one, used to see two sus- 
picious-looking figures steal past the house 
in the summer evenings ; but I said noth- 
ing. There was a little grove on the 
north side of our house, and there was a 
bench under the trees. Often I used to 
see a white flutter out there of a moon- 
light evening, and I knew that Harriet 
Jameson had a little white cloak. Louisa 
saw it too, but we said nothing, though 
we more than suspected that Harriot 
must steal out of the house after her 
mother had gone to her room, which we 
knew was early. Hannah Bell must 
know if that were the case, but she kept 
their secret. 

Louisa and I speculated as to what 
was our duty if we were witnessing clan- 
destine meetings, but we could never 
bring our minds to say anything. 

The night before the Jamesons left it 
was moonlight and there was a hard frost, 
and I saw those young things stealing 
236 



The Jamesons 

down the road for their last stolen meet- 
ing, and I pitied them. I was afraid, too, 
that Harriet would take cold in the sharp 
air. I thought she had on a thin cloak. 
Then I did something which I never 
quite knew whether to blame myself for 
or not. It did seem to me that, if the 
girl were a daughter of mine, and would 
in any case have a clandestine meeting 
with her lover, I should prefer it to be in 
a warm house rather than in a grove on 
a frosty night. So I caught a shawl 
from the table, and ran out to the front 
door, and called. 

" Harry ! " said I, " is that you ? " They 
started, and I suppose poor Harriet was 
horribly frightened ; but I tried to speak 
naturally, and as if the two being there 
together were quite a matter of course. 

" I wonder if it will be too much for 
me to ask of you," said I, when Harry 
had responded quite boldly with a " Good- 
evening, Aunt Sophia " — he used to call 
me Aunt when he was a child, and still 
237 



They Take a Farm 

kept it up — " I wonder if it will be too 
much to ask if you two will just step in 
here a minute while I run down to Mrs. 
Jones' ? I want to get a pattern to use 
the first thing in the morning. Louisa 
has gone to meeting, and I don't like to 
leave Alice alone." 

They said they would be glad to come 
in, though, of course, with not as much 
joy as they felt later, when they saw that 
I meant to leave them to themselves for 
a time. 

I stayed at Mrs. Jones' until I knew 
that Louisa would be home if I waited 
any longer, and I thought, besides, that 
the young people had been alone long 
enough. Then I went home. I suppose 
that they were sorry to see me so soon, 
but they looked up at me very gratefully 
when I bade them good-night and thanked 
them. I said quite meaningly that it 
was a cold night and there would be a 
frost, and Harriet must be careful and 
not take cold. I thought that would be 
-238 



The Jamesons 

enough for Harry Liscom, unless being in 
love had altered him and made him self- 
ish. I did not think he would keep his 
sweetheart out, even if it were his last 
chance of seeing her alone for so long, if 
he thought she would get any harm by it, 
especially after he had visited her for a 
reasonable length of time. 

I was right in my opinion. They did 
not turn about directly and go home — I 
did not expect that, of course — but they 
walked only to the turn of the road the 
other way; then I saw them pass the 
house, and presently poor Harry returned 
alone. 

I did pity Harry Liscom when I met 
him on the street a few days after the 
Jamesons had left. I guessed at once 
that he was missing his sweetheart 
sorely, and had not yet had a letter from 
her. He looked pale and downcast, 
though he smiled as he lifted his hat to 
me, but he colored a little as if he sus- 
pected that I might guess his secret. 
239 



They Take a Farm 

I met him the next day, and his face 
was completely changed, all radiant and 
glowing with the veritable light of youth- 
ful hope upon it. lie bowed to me with 
such a flash of joy in his smile that I 
felt quite warmed by it, though it was 
none of mine. I thought, though I said 
nothing, " Harry Liscom, you have had a 
letter." 



THEIR SECOND SUMMER 

The Jamesons returned to Linnville 
the first of June. For some weeks we 
had seen indications of their coming. 
All through April and May repairs and 
improvements had been going on in their 
house. Some time during the winter the 
Jamesons had purchased the old Wray 
place, and we felt that they were to be 
a permanent feature in our midst. 

The old Wray house had always been 
( painted white, with green blinds, as were 
most of our village houses ; now it was 
painted red, with blinds of a darker shade. 
When Louisa and I saw its bright walls 
through the budding trees we were some- 
what surprised, but thought it might look 
rather pretty when we became accustomed 
241 



Their Second Summer 

to it. Very few of the neighbors agreed 
with us, however; they had been so used 
to seeing the walls of their dwellings white 
that this startled them almost as much as 
a change of color in their own faces would 
have done. 

" We might as well sot up for red In- 
juns and done with it," said Mrs. Gregg 
one afternoon at the sewing circle. 
"What anybody can want anything any 
prettier than a neat white house with 
green blinds for, is beyond me." 

Every month during the winter a let- 
ter had come to our literary society in 
care of the secretary, who was my sister- 
in-law, Louisa Field. Louisa was al- 
ways secretary because she was a school- 
teacher and was thought to have her hand 
in at that sort of work. Mrs. Jameson 
wrote a very kind, if it was a somewhat 
patronizing, sort of letter. She extended 
to us her very best wishes for our im- 
provement and the widening of our 
spheres, and made numerous suggestions 
242 



The Jamesons 

which she judged calculated to advance 
us in those respects. She recommended 
selections from Eobert Browning to be 
read at our meetings, and she sent us 
some copies of explanatory and critical 
essays to be used in connection with 
them. She also in March sent us a copy 
of another lecture about the modern 
drama which she had herself written and 
delivered before her current literature 
club. With that she sent us some works 
of Ibsen and the Belgian writer, Maeter- 
linck, with the recommendation that we 
devote ourselves to the study of them at 
once, they being eminently calculated for 
the widening of our spheres. 

Flora Clark, who is the president of 
the society; Mrs. Peter Jones, who is 
the vice-president; Louisa, and I, who 
am the treasurer, though there is nothing 
whatever to treasure, held a council over 
the books. We all agreed that while we 
were interested in them ourselves, though 
they were a strange savor to our mental 
243 



Their Second Summer 

palates, yet we would not read Mrs. 
Jameson's letter concerning them to the 
society, nor advise the study of them. 

" I, for one, don't like to take the re- 
sponsibility of giving the women of this 
village such reading," said Flora Clark. 
" It may be improving and widening, and 
it certainly is interesting, and there are 
fine things in it, but it does not seem to 
me that it would be wise to take it into 
the society when I consider some of the 
members. I would just as soon think of 
asking them to tea and giving them noth- 
ing but olives and Russian caviare, which, 
I understand, hardly anybody likes at 
first. I never tasted them myself. We 
know what the favorite diet of this vil- 
lage is ; and as long as we can eat it our- 
selves it seems to me it is safer than to 
try something which we may like and 
everybody else starve on, and I guess we 
haven't exhausted some of the older, sim- 
pler things, and that there is some nour- 
ishment to be gotten out of them yet for 
244 



The Jamesons 

all of us. It is better for us all to eat 
bread and butter and pie than for two or 
three of us to eat the olives and caviare, 
and the rest to have to sit gnawing their 
forks and spoons." 

Mrs. Peter Jones, who is sometimes 
thought of for the president instead of 
Flora, bridled a little. "I suppose you 
think that these books are above the ladies 
of this village," said she. 

" I don't know as I think they are so 
much above as too far to one side," said 
Flora. "Sometimes it's longitude, and 
sometimes it's latitude that separates peo- 
pie. I don't know but we are just as far 
from Ibsen and Maeterlinck as they are 
from us." 

Louisa and I thought Flora might be 
right. At all events, we did not wish 
to set ourselves up in opposition to her. 
We never carried the books into the soci- 
ety, and we never read Mrs. Jameson's 
letter about them, though we did feel 
somewhat guilty, especially as we reflected 

2 45 



Their Second Summer 

that Flora had never forgotten the affair 
of the jumbles, and might possibly have 
allowed her personal feelings to influence 
her. 

"I should feel very sorry," said Louisa 
to me, " if we were preventing the women 
of this village from improving them- 
selves." 

" Well, we can wait until next summer, 
and let Mrs. Jameson take the responsi- 
bility. I don't want to be the means of 
breaking up the society, for one," said I. 

However, when Mrs. Jameson finally 
arrived in June, she seemed to be on a 
slightly different tack, so to speak, of 
improvement. She was not so active in 
our literary society and our sewing circle 
as she had been the summer before, but 
now, her own sphere having possibly en- 
larged, she had designs upon the village 
in the abstract. 

Hannah Bell came over from the West 
Corners to open the house for them, and 
at five o'clock we saw the Grover stage 
246 



The Jamesons 

rattle past with their trunks on top, and 
Grandma Cobb and the girls and Cobb 
looking out of the windows. Mrs. Jame- 
son, being delicate, was, of course, leaning 
back, exhausted with her journey. Jonas 
Martin, who had been planting the gar- 
den, was out at the gate of the Wray 
house to help the driver carry in the 
trunks, and Hannah Bell was there too. 

Louisa and I had said that it seemed 
almost too bad not to have some one of 
the village women go there and welcome 
them, but we did not know how Mrs. H. 
Boardman Jameson might take it, and 
nobody dared go. Mrs. White said that 
she would have been glad to make some 
of her cream biscuits and send them over, 
but she knew that Mrs. Jameson would 
not eat them, of course, and she did not 
know whether she would like any of the 
others to, and might think it a liberty. 

So nobody did anything but watch. It 
was not an hour after the stage coach ar- 
rived before we saw Grandma Cobb com* 
247 



Their Second Summer 

ing up the road. We did not know 
whether she was going to Amelia Powers', 
or Mrs. Jones', or to our house; but she 
turned in at our gate. 

We went to the door to meet her, and 
I must say she did seem glad to see us, 
and we were glad to see her. In a very 
short time we knew all that had happened 
in the Jameson family since they had left 
Linnville, and with no urging, and with 
even some reluctance on our part. It did 
not seem quite right for us to know how 
much Mrs. Jameson had paid her dress- 
maker for making her purple satin, and 
still less so for us to know that she had 
not paid for the making of her black lace 
net and the girls' organdy muslins, though 
she had been dunned three times. The 
knowledge was also forced upon us that 
all these fine new clothes were left in New 
York, since the shabby old ones must be 
worn out in the country, and that Harriet 
had cried because she could not bring 
some of her pretty gowns with her. 
8 248 



The Jamesons 

* Her mother does not think that there 
is any chance of her making a match here, 
and she had better save them up till next 
winter. Dress does make so much differ- 
ence in a girl's prospects, you know," said 
Grandma Cobb shrewdly. 

I thought of poor Harry Liscom, and 
how sorry his little sweetheart must have 
felt not to be able to show herself in her 
pretty dresses to him. However, I was 
exceedingly glad to hear that she had 
cried, because it argued well for Harry, 
and looked as if she had not found another 
lover more to her mind in New York. 

Indeed, Grandma Cobb informed us pre- 
sently as to that. " Harriet does not seem 
to find anybody," said she. " I suppose it 
is because H. Boardman lost his money ; 
young men are so careful nowadays." 

Grandma Cobb stayed to tea with us 
that night ; our supper hour came, and of 
course we asked her. 

Grandma Cobb owned with the greatest 
frankness that she should like to stay. 
249 



Their Second Summer 

u There isn't a thing to eat at our house 
but hygienic biscuits and eggs/ said she. 
" My daughter wrote Hannah not to cook 
anything until we came; Hannah would 
have made some cake and pie, otherwise. 
I tell my daughter I have got so far along 
in life without living on hygienic food, 
and I am not going to begin. I want to 
get a little comfort out of the taste of my 
victuals, and my digestion is as good as 
hers, in spite of all her fussing. For my 
part," continued Grandma Cobb, who had 
at times an almost coarsely humorous 
method of expressing herself, " I believe 
in not having your mind on your inwards 
any more than you can possibly help. I 
believe the best way to get along with 
them is to act as if they weren't there." 

After Grandma Cobb went home, as late 
as nine o'clock, I saw a clinging, shadowy 
couple stroll past our house, and knew it 
was Harriet Jameson and Harry, as did 
Louisa, and our consciences began to trou- 
ble us again. 

250 



The Jamesons 

* I feel like a traitor to Caroline and to 
Mrs. Jameson sometimes, " said I. 

" Well, maybe that is better than to be 
traitor to true love," said Louisa, which 
did sound rather sentimental. 

The next morning about eleven o'clock 
Mrs. Jameson came in, and we knew at 
once that she was, so to speak, fairly 
rampant in the field of improvement for 
our good, or rather the good of the village, 
for, as I said before, she was now resolved 
upon the welfare of the village at large, 
and not that of individuals or even socie- 
ties. 

"I consider that my own sphere has 
been widened this winter," said Mrs. 
Jameson, and Louisa and I regarded her 
with something like terror. Flora Clark 
said, when she heard that remark of Mrs. 
Jameson's, that she felt, for her part, as if 
a kicking horse had got out of the pasture, 
and there was no knowing where he would 
stop. 

We supposed that it must be an evi- 
2 5i 



Their Second Summer 

dence of Mrs. Jameson's own advance in 
improvement that she had adopted such 
a singular costume, according to our ideas. 
She was dressed no longer in the rich 
fabrics which had always aroused our ad- 
miration, but, instead, wore a gown of 
brown cloth cut short enough to expose 
her ankles, which were, however, covered 
with brown gaiters made of cloth like her 
dress. She wore a shirt-waist of brown 
silk, and a little cutaway jacket. Mrs. 
Jameson looked as if she were attired for 
riding the wheel, but that was a form of 
exercise to which she was by no means 
partial either for herself or for her daugh- 
ters. I could never understand just why 
she was not partial to wheeling. Wheels 
were not as fashionable then as now, but 
Mrs. Jameson was always quite up with, 
if not in advance of, her age. 

Neither of us admired her in this cos- 
tume. Mrs. Jameson was very stout, and 
the short skirt was not, to our way of.' 
thinking, becoming. 

252 



The Jamesons 

* Don't you think that I have adopted 
a very sensible and becoming dress for 
country wear? " said she, and Louisa and 
I did not know what to say. We did 
not wish to be untruthful and we disliked 
to be impolite. Finally, Louisa said 
faintly that she thought it must be very 
convenient for wear in muddy weather, 
and I echoed her. 

" Of course, you don't have to hold it 
up at all," said I. 

" It is the only costume for wear in the 
country," said Mrs. Jameson, "and I hope 
to have all the women in Linnville wear- 
ing it before the summer is over." 

Louisa and I glanced at each other in 
dismay. I think that we both had men- 
tal pictures of some of the women whom 
we knew in that costume. Some of our 
good, motherly, village faces, with their 
expressions of homely dignity and Chris- 
tian decorousness, looking at us from un- 
der that jaunty English walking-hat, in 
lieu of their sober bonnets, presented them- 
253 



Their Second Summer 

selves to our imaginations, and filled us 
with amusement and consternation. 

" Only think how Mrs. Sim White would 
look," Louisa said after Mrs. Jameson had 
gone, and we both saw Mrs. White going 
down the street in that costume indicative 
of youthful tramps over long stretches of 
road, and mad spins on wheels, instead of 
her nice, softly falling black cashmere 
skirts covering decently her snowy stock- 
ings and her cloth congress boots ; and we 
shuddered. 

"Of course, she would have to wear 
gaiters like Mrs. Jameson," said Louisa, 
"but it would be dreadful." 

"Well, there's one comfort," said I; 
" Mrs. White will never wear it. " 

"Nor anybody else," said Louisa. 

Still we did feel a little nervous about 
it; there is never any estimating the in- 
fluence of a reformer. However, we were 
sure of ourselves. Louisa and I agreed 
that we never would be seen out in any 
such costume. Not very many in the 
2 54 



The Jamesons 

village were. There were a few women, 
who were under the influence of Mrs. 
Jameson, who did cut off some of their 
old dresses and make themselves some 
leggings with hers for a pattern. After 
their housework was done they started off 
for long tramps with strides of indepen- 
dence and defiance, but they did not keep 
it up very long ; none of them after Mrs. 
Jameson went away. To tell the truth, 
most of the women in our village had so 
much work to do, since they kept no ser- 
vants, that they could not take many ten- 
mile walks, no matter what length skirts 
they wore. However, many wore the 
short ones while doing housework, which 
was very sensible. 

During that morning call, Mrs. Jame- 
son, besides the reformed costume, advo- 
cated another innovation which fairly took 
our breaths away. She was going to beau- 
tify the village. We had always consid- 
ered the village beautiful as it was, and 
we bridled a little at that. 
255 



Their Second Summer 

" There is scarcely a house in this vil- 
lage which is overgrown with vines," said 
she. "I am going to introduce vines." 

Louisa ventured to say that she thought 
vines very pretty, but she knew some peo- 
ple objected to them on the score of spi- 
ders, and also thought that they were bad 
for the paint. We poor, frugal village 
folk have always to consider whether 
beauty will trespass on utility, and con- 
sequently dollars and cents. There are 
many innocent slaves to Mammon in our 
midst. 

Mrs. Jameson sniffed in her intensely 
scornful way. " Spiders and paint ! " said 
she. " I am going to have the houses of 
this village vine-clad. It is time that 
the people were educated in beauty." 

"People won't like it if she does go to 
planting vines around their houses with- 
out their permission, even if she does 
mean well," said Louisa after she had 
gone. 

" She never will dare to without their 
256 



The Jamesons 

permission," said I ; but I wondered while 
I spoke, and Louisa laughed. 

"Don't you be too sure of that," said 
she — and she was right. 

Permission in a few cases Mrs. Jame- 
son asked, and in the rest she assumed. 
Old Jonas Martin ransacked the woods 
for vines — clematis and woodbine — then 
he, with Mrs. Jameson to superintend, 
set them out around our village houses. 
The calm insolence of benevolence with 
which Mrs. Jameson did this was inim- 
itable. People actually did not know 
whether to be furious or amused at this 
liberty taken with their property. They 
saw with wonder Mrs. Jameson, with old 
Jonas following laden with vines and 
shovel, also the girls and Cobb, who had 
been pressed, however unwillingly, into 
service, tagging behind trailing with wood- 
bine and clematis ; they stood by and saw 
their house-banks dug up and the vines set, 
and in most cases said never a word. If 
they did expostulate, Mrs. Jameson only 
257 



Their Second Summer 

directed Jonas where to put the next vine, 
and assured the bewildered owner of the 
premises that he would in time thank her. 

However, old Jonas often took the irate 
individual aside for a consolatory word. 
" Lord a-massy, don't ye worry," old Jonas 
would say, with a sly grin; "ye know 
well enough that there won't a blamed 
one of the things take root without no 
sun an' manure ; might as well humor her 
long as she's sot on 't." 

Then old Jonas would wink slowly 
with a wink of ineffable humor. There 
was no mistaking the fact that old Jonas 
was getting a deal of solid enjoyment out 
of the situation. He had had a steady, 
hard grind of existence, and was for the 
first time seeing the point of some of 
those jokes of life for which his natural 
temperament had given him a relish. He 
acquired in those days a quizzical cock to 
his right eyebrow, and a comically confi- 
dential quirk to his mouth, which were 
in themselves enough to provoke a laugh * 
258 



The Jamesons 

Mrs. Jameson, however, did not confine 
herself, in her efforts for the wholesale 
decoration of our village, to the planting 
of vines around our house -walls; and 
there were, in one or two cases, serious 
consequences. 

When, thinking that corn-cockles and 
ox-eyed daisies would be a charming com- 
bination at the sides of the country road, 
she caused them to be sowed, and thereby 
introduced them into Jonas Green's wheat- 
field, he expostulated in forcible terms, 
and threatened a suit for damages; and 
when she caused a small grove of promis- 
ing young hemlocks to be removed from 
Eben Betas' woodland and set out in the 
sandy lot in which the schoolhouse stands, 
without leave or license, it was generally 
conceded that she had exceeded her priv- 
ileges as a public benefactress. 

I said at once there would be trouble, 
when Louisa came home and told me 
about it. 

" The schoolhouse looks as if it were set 
259 



Their Second Summer 

in a shady grove," said she, "and is ever 
so pretty. The worst of it is, of course, 
the trees won't grow in that sand-hill." 

" The worst of it is, if she has taken 
those trees without leave or license, as I 
suspect, Eben Belts will not take it as a 
joke," said I; and I was right. 

Mr. IT. Boardman Jameson had to pay 
a goodly sum to Eben Betts to hush the 
matter up; and the trees soon withered, 
and were cut up for firewood for the 
schoolhouse. People blamed old Jonas 
Martin somewhat for his share of this 
transaction, arguing that he ought not to 
have yielded to Mrs. Jameson in such a 
dishonest transaction, even in the name 
of philanthropy; but he defended himself, 
saying: "It's easy 'nough to talk, but 
I'd like to see any of ye stand up agin 
that woman. When she gits headed, it's 
either git out from under foot or git 
knocked over." 

Mrs. Jameson not only strove to estab- 
lish improvements in our mids^, but she 
260 



The Jamesons 

attacked some of our time-honored insti- 
tutions, one against which she directed 
all the force of her benevolent will being 
our front doors. Louisa and I had always 
made free with our front door, as had some 
others ; but, generally speaking, people in 
our village used their front doors only for 
weddings, funerals, and parties. The side 
doors were thought to be good enough for 
ordinary occasions, and we never dreamed, 
when dropping in for a neighborly call, 
of approaching any other. Mrs. H. 
Boardman Jameson resolved to do away 
with this state of things, and also with 
our sacred estimate of the best parlors, 
which were scarcely opened from one 
year's end to the other, and seemed redo- 
lent of past grief and joy, with no dilu- 
tion by the every-day occurrences of life. 
Mrs. Jameson completely ignored the side 
door, marched boldly upon the front one, 
and compelled the mistress to open it to 
her resolute knocks. Once inside, she 
advanced straight upon the sacred pre- 
261 



Their Second Summer 

cincts of the best parlor, and seated her- 
self in the chilly, best rocking-chair with 
the air of one who usurps a throne, asking 
with her manner of sweet authority it' the 
blinds could not be opened and the sun 
let in, as it felt damp to her, and she was 
very susceptible to dampness. It was 
told, on good authority, that in some 
cases she even threw open the blinds and 
windows herself while the person who 
admitted her was calling other members 
of the family. 

It was also reported that she had on 
several occasions marched straight up W 
a house which she had no design of enter 
ing, thrown open the parlor blinds, and 
admitted the sunlight, with its fading in- 
fluence, on the best carpet, and then pro- 
ceeded down the street with the bearing 
of triumphant virtue. It was related that 
in a number of instances the indignant 
housewife, on entering her best parlor, 
found that the sun had been streaming in 
there all day, right on the carpet. 
262 



The Jamesons 

Mrs. Jameson also waged fierce war on 
another custom dear to the average village 
heart, and held sacred, as everything 
should be which is innocently dear to 
one's kind, by all who did not exactly 
approve of it. 

In many of our village parlors, some- 
times in the guest-chambers, when there 
had been many deaths in the family, hung 
the framed coffin-plates and faded funeral 
wreaths of departed dear ones. Now and 
then there was a wreath of wool flowers, 
a triumph of domestic art, which encircled 
the coffin-plate instead of the original 
funeral garland. Mrs. Jameson set her- 
self to work to abolish this grimly pathetic 
New England custom with all her might. 
She did everything but actually tear them 
from our walls. That, even in her fiery 
zeal of improvement, she did not quite 
dare attempt. She made them a constant 
theme of conversation at sewing circle 
and during her neighborly calls. She 
spoke of the custom quite openly as grew- 
263 



Their Second Summer 

some and barbarous, but I must say with- 
out much effect. Mrs. Jameson found 
certain strongholds of long-established 
customs among us which were impregna- 
ble to open rancor or ridicule — and that 
was one of them. The coffin-plates and 
the funeral wreaths continued to hang in 
the parlors and chambers. 

Once Flora Clark told Mrs. Jameson to 
her face, in the sewing circle, when she 
had been talking for a good hour about 
the coffin-plates, declaring them to be 
grewsome and shocking, that, for her part, 
she did not care for them, did not have 
one in her house — though every one of 
her relations were dead, and she might 
have her walls covered with them — but 
she believed in respecting those who did ; 
and it seemed to her that, however much 
anybody felt called upon to interfere with 
the ways of the living, the relics of the 
dead should be left alone. Flora con- 
cluded by saying that it seemed to her 
that if the Linnville folks let Mrs. Jame- 
9 264 



The Jamesons 

son's bean-pots alone, she might keep her 
hands off their coffin-plates. 

Mrs. Jameson was quite unmoved even 
by that. She said that Miss Clark did 
not realize, as she would do were her 
sphere wider, the incalculable harm that 
such a false standard of art might do in a 
community: that it might even pervert 
the morals. 

" I guess if we don't have anything to 
hurt our morals any worse than our coffin- 
plates, we shall do," returned Flora. She 
said afterward that she felt just like dig- 
ging up some of her own coffin-plates, and 
having them framed and hung up, and 
asking Mrs. Jameson to tea. 

All through June and a part of July 
Louisa and I had seen the clandestine 
courtship between Harry Liscom and Har- 
riet Jameson going on. We could scarcely 
help it. "We kept wondering why neither 
Caroline Liscom nor Mrs. Jameson seemed 
aware of it. Of course, Mrs. Jameson 
was so occupied with the village welfare 
265 



Their Second Summer 

that it might account for it in her case, 
but we were surprised that Caroline was 
so blinded. We both of us thought that 
she would be very much averse to the 
match, from her well-known opinion of 
the Jamesons ; and it proved that she was. 
Everybody talked so much about Harry 
and his courtship of Harriet that it seemed 
incredible that Caroline should not hear 
of it, even if she did not see anything her- 
self to awaken suspicion. We did not 
take into consideration the fact that a 
strong-minded woman like Caroline Lis- 
com has difficulty in believing anything 
which she does not wish to be true, and 
that her will stands in her own way. 

However, on Wednesday of the second 
week of July both she and Mrs. Jameson 
had their eyes opened perforce. It was a 
beautiful moonlight evening, and Louisa 
and I were sitting at the windows looking 
out and chatting peacefully. Little Alice 
had gone to bed, and we had not lit the 
lamp, it was so pleasant in the moonlight. 
266 



The Jamesons 

Presently, about half-past eight o'clock, 
two figures strolled by, and we knew who 
they were. 

M It is strange to me that Grandma Cobb 
does not find it out, if Mrs. Jameson is 
too wrapped up in her own affairs and 
with grafting ours into them," said Louisa 
thoughtfully. 

I remarked that I should not be sur- 
prised if she did know ; and it turned out 
afterward that it was so. Grandma Cobb 
had known all the time, and Harriet had 
gone through her room to get to the back 
stairs, down which she stole to meet 
Harry. 

The young couple had not been long 
past when a stout, tall figure went hur- 
riedly by with an angry flirt of skirts — 
short ones. 

" Oh, dear, that is Mrs. Jameson S " cried 
Louisa. 

We waited breathless. Harry and Har- 
riet could have gone no farther than the 
grove, for in a very short time back they 
267 



Their Second Summer 

all came, Mrs. Jameson leading — almost 
pulling — along her daughter, and Harry 
pressing close at her side, with his arm 
half extended as if to protect his sweet- 
heart. Mrs. Jameson kept turning and 
addressing him ; we could hear the angry 
clearness of her voice, though we could 
not distinguish many words; and finally, 
when they were almost past we saw poor 
Harriet also turn to him, and we judged 
that she, as well as her mother, was beg- 
ging him to go, for he directly caught 
her hand, gave it a kiss, said something 
which we almost caught, to the effect 
that she must not be afraid — he would 
take care that all came out right — and 
was gone. 

" Oh, dear," sighed Louisa, and I echoed 
her. I did pity the poor young things. 

To our surprise, and also to our dis- 
may, it was not long before we saw Mrs. 
Jameson hurrying back, and she turned 
in at our gate. 

Louisa jumped and lighted the lamp, 
268 



The Jamesons 

and I set the rocking-chair for Mrs. 
Jameson. 

"No, I can't sit down," said she, wav- 
ing her hand. " I am too much disturbed 
to sit down," but even as she said that 
she did drop into the rocking - chair. 
Louisa said afterward that Mrs. Jameson 
was one who always would sit down dur- 
ing all the vicissitudes of life, no matter 
how hard she took them. 

Mrs. Jameson was very much dis- 
turbed; we had never seen her calm su- 
periority so shaken; it actually seemed 
as if she realized for once that she was 
not quite the peer of circumstances, as 
Louisa said. 

" I wish to inquire if you have known 
long of this shameful clandestine love 
affair of my daughter's?" said she, and 
Louisa and I were nonplussed. We did 
not know what to say. Luckily, Mrs. 
Jameson did not wait for an answer; 
she went on to pour her grievance into 
our ears, without even stopping to be sure 
269 



Their Second Summer 

whether they were sympathizing ones or 
not. 

"My daughter cannot marry into one 
of these village families," said she, with- 
out apparently the slightest consideration 
of the fact that we were a village family. 
" My (laughter has been very differently 
brought up. I have other views for her; 
it is impossible; it must be understood at 
once that I will not have it." 

Mrs. Jameson was still talking, and 
Louisa and I listening with more of dis- 
may than sympathy, when who should 
walk in but Caroline Liscom herself. 

She did not knock — she never does ; 
she opened the door with no warning 
whatsoever, and stood there. 

Louisa turned pale, and I know I must 
have. I could not command my voice, 
though I tried hard to keep calm. 

I said "Good-morning," when it should 
have been "Good-evening," and placed 
Alice's little chair, in which she could 
Bot by any possibility sit, for Caroline. 
270 



The Jamesons 

"No, I don't want to sit down," said 
Caroline, and she kept her word better 
than Mrs. Jameson. She turned directly 
to the latter. " I have just been over to 
your house," said she, "and they told me 
that you had come over here. I want to 
say something to you, and that is, I don't 
want my son to marry your daughter, and 
I will never give my consent to it, never, 
never I " 

Mrs. Jameson's face was a study. For 
a minute she had not a word to say ; she 
only gasped. Finally she spoke. " You 
can be no more unwilling to have your 
son marry my daughter than I am to have 
my daughter marry your son," said she. 

Then Caroline said something unex- 
pected. "I would like to know what 
you have against my son, as fine a young 
man as there is anywhere about, I don't 
care who he is," said she. 

And Mrs. Jameson said something 
unexpected. "I should like to inquire 
271 



Their Second Summer 

what you have against my daughter?" 
said she. 

" Well, I'll tell you one thing," returned 
Caroline; "she doesn't know enough to 
keep a doll-baby's house, and she ain't 
neat." 

Mrs. Jameson choked; it did not seem 
as if she could reply in her usual manner 
to such a plain statement of objections. 
She and Caroline glared at each other a 
minute; then to our great relief, for no 
one wants her house turned into the seat 
of war, Caroline simply repeated, " I shall 
never give my consent to have my son 
marry your daughter," and went out. 

Mrs. Jameson did not stay long after 
that. She rose, saying that her nerves 
were very much shaken, and that she felt 
it sad that all her efforts for the welfare 
and improvement of the village should 
have ended in this, and bade us a mourn- 
ful good-evening and left. 

Louisa and I had an impression that 
she held us in some way responsible, and 
272 



The Jamesons 

we could not see why, though I did re- 
flect guiltily how I had asked the lovers 
into my house that October night. 
Louisa and I agreed that, take it alto- 
gether, we had never seen so much 
mutual love and mutual scorn in 'wo 
families. 



273 



VI 

THE CENTENNIAL 

The older one grows, the less one won- 
ders at the sudden, inconsequent turns 
which an apparently reasonable person 
will make in a line of conduct. Still I 
must say that I was not prepared for 
what Mrs. H. Boardman Jameson did in 
about a week after she had declared that 
her daughter should never marry Harry 
Liscom : capitulated entirely, and gave her 
consent. 

It was Grandma Cobb who brought us 
the news, coming in one morning before 
we had our breakfast dishes washed. 

"My daughter told Harriet last night 

that she had written to her father and he 

had no objections, and that she would 

withdraw hers on further consideration, " 

274 



The Jamesons 

said Grandma Cobb, with a curious, un. 
conscious imitation of Mrs. Jameson's 
calm state of manner. Then she at once 
relapsed into her own. "My daughter 
says that she is convinced that the young 
man is worthy, though he is not socially 
quite what she might desire, and she does 
not feel it right to part them if they have 
a true affection for each other," said 
Grandma Cobb. Then she added, with a 
shake of her head and a gleam of mali- 
cious truth in her blue eyes : " That is not 
the whole of it; Eobert Browning was 
the means of bringing it about." 

" Robert Browning ! " I repeated. I 
was bewildered, and Louisa stared at me 
in a frightened way. She said afterward 
that she thought for a minute that Grand- 
ma Cobb was out of her head. 

But Grandma Cobb went on to explain. 
"Yes, my daughter seems to look upon 
Eobert Browning as if everything he said 
was written on tables of stone," said she; 
" and last night she had a letter from Mrs. 
275 



The Centennial 

Addison Sears, who feels just the same 
way. My daughter had written hei 
about Harriet's love affair, and this was 
in answer. Mrs. Sears dwelt a good dea) 
upon Mr. Browning's own happy marriage ; 
and then she quoted passages; and my 
daughter became convinced that Robert 
Browning would have been in favor of 
the match, — and that settled it. My 
daughter proves things by Browning al- 
most the same way as people do by Scrip- 
ture, it seems to me sometimes. I am 
thankful that it has turned out so," 
Grandma Cobb went on to say, "for I 
like the young man myself; and as for 
Harriet, her mind is set on him, and 
she's something like me: once get her 
mind set on anybody, that's the end of 
it. My daughter has got the same trait, 
but it works the contrary way : when she 
once gets her mind set against anybody, 
that's the end of it unless Robert Brown- 
ing steps in to turn her." 

Louisa and I were heartily glad to heat 
276 



The Jamesons 

of Mr. Browning's unconscious interces- 
sion and its effect upon Mrs. Jameson, 
but we wondered what Caroline Liscom 
would say. 

"It will take more than passages of 
poetry to move her," said Louisa when 
Grandma Cobb had gone. 

All we could do was to wait for devel- 
opments concerning Caroline. Then one 
day she came in and completely opened 
her heart to us with that almost alarm- 
ing frankness which a reserved woman 
often displays if she does lose her self- 
restraint. 

" I can't have it anyhow," said Caroline 
Liscom ; and I must say I did pity her, 
though I had a weakness for little Har- 
riet. " I feel as if it would kill me if 
Harry marries that girl — and I am afraid 
he will; but it shall never be with my 
consent, and he shall never bring her to 
my house while I am in it." 

Then Caroline went on to make revela- 
tions about Harriet which were actually 
277 



The Centennial 

dire accusations from a New England 
housewife like her. 

" It was perfectly awful the way hei 
room looked while she was at my house," 
said Caroline ; " and she doesn't know how 
to do one thing ahout a house. She can't 
make a loaf of hread to save her life, and 
she has no more idea how to sweep a room 
and dust it than a baby. I had it straight 
from Hannah Bell that she dusted her 
room and swept it afterward. Think of 
my boy, brought up the way he has been, 
everything as neat as wax, if I do say it, 
and his victuals always cooked nice, and 
ready when he wanted them, marrying a 
girl like that. I can't and I won't have 
it. It's all very well now, he's capti- 
vated by a pretty face; but wait a little, 
and he'll find out there's something else. 
He'll find out there's comfort to be con- 
sidered as well as love. And she don't 
even know how to do plain sewing. 
Only look at the bottoms of her dress- 
es, with the braid hanging ; and I kno"W 



The Jamesons 

she never mends her stockings — I had 
it from the woman who washes them. 
Only think of my son, who has always 
had his stockings mended as smooth as 
satin, either going with holes in them, or 
else having them gathered up in hard 
bunches and getting corns. I can't and 
I won't have it! " 

Caroline finished all her remarks with 
that, setting her mouth hard. It was 
evident that she was firm in her decision. 
I suggested mildly that the girl had never 
been taught, and had always had so much 
money that she was excusable for not 
knowing how to do all these little things 
which the Linnville girls had been forced 
to do. 

■ I know all that," said Caroline ; " I am 
not blaming her so much as I am her 
mother. She had better have stopped 
reading Browning and improving her own 
mind and the village, and improved her 
own daughter, so she could walk in the 
way Providence has set for a woman 
279 



The Centennial 

without disgracing herself. But I am 
looking at her as she is, without any 
question of blame, for the sake of my 
son. He shall not marry a girl who 
don't know how to make his home com- 
fortable any better than she does — not if 
his mother can save him from it." 

Louisa asked timidly — we were both 
of us rather timid, Caroline was so fierce 
■ — if she did not think she could teach 
Harriet. 

" I don't know whether I can or not! " 
said Caroline. " Anyway, I am not going 
to try. What kind of a plan would it be 
for me to have her in the house teaching 
her, where Harry could see her every 
day, and perhaps after all find out that 
it would not amount to anything. I'd 
rather try to cure drink than make a 
good housewife of a girl who hasn't been 
brought up to it. How do I know it's in 
her? And there I would have her right 
under Harry's nose. She shall never 
marry him; I can't and I won't have it." 
10 280 



The Jamesons 

Louisa and I speculated as to whether 
Caroline would be able to help it, when 
she had taken her leave after what 
seemed to us must have been a most un- 
satisfactory call, with not enough sym- 
pathy from us to cheer her. 

" Harry Liscom has a will, as well as 
his mother, and he is a man grown, and 
running the woollen factory on shares 
with his father, and able to support a 
wife. I don't believe he is going to 
stop, now the girl's mother has consented, 
because his mother tells him to," said 
Louisa; and I thought she was right. 

That very evening Harry went past to 
the Jamesons, in his best suit, carrying 
a cane, which he swung with the assured 
air of a young man going courting where 
he is plainly welcome. 

"I am glad for one thing," said I, "and 
that is there is no more secret strolling 
in my grove, but open sitting up in her 
mother's parlor." 

Louisa looked at me a little uncertain- 
281 



The Centennial 

ly, and I saw that there was something 
which she wanted to say and did not 
quite dare. 

"What is it? w said I. 

"Well," said Louisa, hesitatingly, "I 
was thinking that I supposed — I don't 
know that it would work at all — maybe 
her mother wouldn't be willing, and 
maybe she wouldn't be willing herself — 
but I was thinking that you were as good 
a housekeeper as Caroline Liscom, and — 
you might have the girl in here once in a 
while and teach her." 

" I will do it," said I at once, — " if I can, 
that is." 

I found out that I could. The poor 
child was only too glad to come to my 
house and take a few lessons in house- 
keeping. I waylaid her when she was 
going past one day, and broached the 
subject delicately. I said it was a good 
idea for a young girl to learn as much as 
she could about keeping a house nice be- 
fore she had one of her own, and Harriet 
282 



The Jamesons 

blushed as red as a rose and thanked me, 
and arranged to come for her first lesson 
the very next morning. I got a large 
gingham apron for her, and we began. I 
gave her a lesson in bread-making that 
very day, and found her an apt pupil. 
I told her that she would make a very 
good housekeeper — I should not wonder 
if as good as Mrs. Liscom, who was, I 
considered, the best in the village; and 
she blushed again and kissed me. 

Louisa and I had been a little worried 
as to what Mrs. Jameson would say; 
but we need not have been. Mrs. Jame- 
son was strenuously engaged in uprooting 
poison-ivy vines, which grew thickly 
along the walls everywhere in the vil- 
lage. I must say it seemed Scriptural to 
me, and made me think better in one 
way of Mrs. Jameson, since it did require 
considerable heroism. 

Luckily, old Martin was one of the 
few who are exempt from the noxious in- 
fluence of poison -ivy, and he pulled up 
2S3 



The Centennial 

the roots with impunity, but I must say- 
without the best success. Poison-ivy is 
a staunch and persistent thing, and more 
than a match for Mrs. Jameson. She 
suffered herself somewhat in the conflict, 
and went about for some time with her 
face and hands done up in castor-oil, 
which we consider a sovereign remedy 
for poison-ivy. Cobb, too, was more or 
less a victim to his mother's zeal for up- 
rooting noxious weeds. 

It was directly after the poison-ivy 
that Mrs. Jameson made what may be 
considered her grand attempt of the sea- 
son. All at once she discovered what 
none of the rest of us had thought of — I 
suppose we must have been lacking in 
public feeling not to have done so — that 
our village had been settled exactly one 
hundred years ago that very August. 

Mrs. Jameson came into our house 

with the news on the twenty-seventh 

day of July. She had just foimd it out 

in an old book which had been left be- 

284 



The Jamesons 

hind and forgotten in the garret of the 
Wray house. 

""We must have a centennial, of 
course," said she magisterially. 

Louisa and I stared at her. " A cen- 
tennial ! " said I feebly. I think visions 
of Philadelphia, and exhibits of the prod- 
ucts of the whole world in our fields and 
cow-pastures, floated through my mind. 
Centennial had a stupendous sound to 
me, and Louisa said afterward it had to 
her. 

" How would you make it ? " asked 
Louisa vaguely of Mrs. Jameson, as if a 
centennial were a loaf of gingerbread. 

Mrs. Jameson had formed her plans 
with the rapidity of a great general on 
the eve of a forced battle. "We will 
take the oldest house in town," said she 
promptly. " I think that it is nearly as 
old as the village, and we will fit it up as 
nearly as possible like a house of one 
hundred years ago, and we will hold oui 
>celebratk>n there." 



The Centennial 

"Let me see, the oldest house is the 
Shaw house," said I. 

"Why, Emily Shaw is living there," 
said Louisa in wonder. 

"We shall make arrangements with 
her," returned Mrs. Jameson, with confi- 
dence. She looked around our sitting- 
room, and eyed our old-fashioned high- 
boy, of which we are very proud, and 
an old-fashioned table which becomes 
a chair when properly manipulated. 
" Those will be just the things to go in 
one of the rooms," said she, without so 
much as asking our leave. 

"Emily Shaw's furniture will have to 
be put somewhere if so many other 
things are to be moved in," suggested 
Louisa timidly; but Mrs. Jameson dis- 
missed that consideration with merely a 
wave of her hand. 

" I think that Mrs. Simeon White has 
a swell-front bureau and an old looking- 
glass which will do very well for one of 
the chambers," she went on to say, "and 
286 



The Jamesons 

Miss Clark has a mahogany table." Mrs. 
Jameson went on calmly enumerating 
articles of old-fashioned furniture which 
she had seen in our village houses which 
she considered suitable to be used in the 
Shaw house for the centennial. 

" I don't see how Emily Shaw is going 
to live there while all this is going on," 
remarked Louisa in her usual deprecatory 
tone when addressing Mrs. Jameson. 

" I think we may be able to leave her 
one room," said Mrs. Jameson; and Lou- 
isa and I fairly gasped when we reflected 
that Emily Shaw had not yet heard a 
word of the plan. 

"I don't know but Emily Shaw will 
put up with it, for she is pretty meek," 
said Louisa when Mrs. Jameson had gone 
hurrying down the street to impart her 
scheme to others; "but it is lucky for 
Mrs. Jameson that Flora Clark hasn't 
the oldest house in town." 

I said I doubted if Flora would even 
consent to let her furniture be displayed 

2 8 7 



The Centennial 

in the centennial; but she did. Every- 
body consented to everything. I don't 
know whether Mrs. H. Boardman Jame- 
son had really any hypnotic influence 
over us, or whether we had a desire for 
the celebration, but the whole village 
marshalled and marched to her orders 
with the greatest docility. All our cher- 
ished pieces of old furniture were loaded 
into carts and conveyed to the old Shaw 
house. 

The centennial was to be held the 
tenth day of August, and there was nec- 
essarily quick work. The whole village 
was in an uproar; none of us who had 
old - fashioned possessions fairly knew 
where we were living, so many of them 
were in the Shaw house; we were short 
of dishes and bureau drawers, and coun- 
terpanes and curtains. Mrs. Jameson 
never asked for any of these things ; she 
simply took them as by right of war, 
and nobody gainsaid her, not even Flora 
Clark. However, poor Emily Shaw was 
288 



The Jamesons 

the one who displayed the greatest meek- 
ness under provocation. The whole affair 
must have seemed revolutionary to her. 
She was a quiet, delicate little woman, 
no longer young. She did not go out 
much, not even to the sewing circle or 
the literary society, and seemed as fond 
of her home as an animal of its shell — 
as if it were a part of her. Old as her 
house was, she had it fitted up in a mod- 
ern, and, to our village ideas, a very pret- 
ty fashion. Emily was quite well-to-do. 
There were nice tapestry carpets on all 
the downstairs floors, lace curtains at the 
windows, and furniture covered with red 
velvet in the parlor. She had also had the 
old fireplaces covered up and marble slabs 
set. There was handsome carved black 
walnut furniture in the chambers; and 
taken altogether, the old Shaw house was 
regarded as one of the best furnished in the 
village. Mrs. Sim White said she didn't 
know as she wondered that Emily didn't 
like to go away from such nice things. 
289 



The Centennial 

Now every one of these nice things 
was hustled out of sight to make room 
for the pieces of old-fashioned furniture. 
The tapestry carpets were taken up and 
stowed away in the garrets, the lace cur- 
tains were pulled down. In their stead 
were the old sanded bare floors and cur- 
tains of homespun linen trimmed with 
hand-knitted lace. Emily's nice Mar- 
seilles counterpanes were laid aside for 
the old blue-and-white ones which our 
grandmothers spun and wove, and her 
fine oil paintings gave way to old en- 
gravings of Webster death-bed scenes and 
portraits of the Presidents, and samplers. 
Emily was left one room to herself — a 
little back chamber over the kitchen — 
and she took her meals at Flora Clark's, 
next door. She was obliged to do that, for 
her kitchen range had been taken down, 
and there was only the old fireplace fur- 
nished with kettles and crane to cook in. 

" I suppose my forefathers used to get 
all their meals there," said poor Emily 
290 



The Jamesons 

Shaw, who has at all times a gentle, sad 
way of speaking, and then seemed on the 
verge of uncomplaining tears, " but I don't 
quite feel competent to undertake it now. 
It looks to me as if the kettles might 
be hard to lift." Emily glanced at her 
hands and wrists as she spoke. Emily's 
hands and arms are very small and bony, 
as she is in her general construction, 
though she is tall. 

The little chamber which she inhab- 
ited during the preparation for the cen- 
tennial was very hot in those midsummer 
days, and her face was always suffused 
with a damp pink when she came out of it ; 
but she uttered no word of complaint, not 
even when they took down her marble 
slabs and exposed the yawning mouths of 
the old fireplaces again. All she said was 
once in a deprecatory whisper to me, to 
the effect that she was a little sorry to 
have strangers see her house looking so, 
but she supposed it was interesting. 

We expected a number of strangers. 
291 



The Centennial 

Mrs. Sim White's brother, who had gone 
to Boston when he was a young man and 
turned out so smart, being the head of a 
large dry 7 -goods firm, was coming, and was 
to make a speech; and Mr. Elijah M. 
Mills, whose mother's people came from 
Linnville, was to be there, as having a 
hereditary interest in the village. Of 
course, everybody knows Elijah M. Mills. 
He was to make a speech. Mrs. Lucy 
Beers Wright, whose aunt on her father's 
side, Miss Jane Beers, used to live in 
Linnville before she died, was to come 
and read some selections from her own 
works. Mrs. Lucy Beers Wright writes 
quite celebrated stories, and reads them 
almost better than she writes them. She 
has enormous prices, too, but she prom- 
ised to come to the centennial and read 
for nothing ; she used to visit her aunt in 
linnville when she was a girl, and wrote 
that she had a sincere love for the dear 
old place. Mrs. Jameson said that we 
were very fortunate to get her. 

292 



The Jamesons 

Mrs. Jameson did not stop, however, 
at celebrities of local traditions ; she flew 
higher still. She wrote the Governor of 
the State, inviting him to be present, and 
some of us were never quite certain that 
she did not invite the President of thd 
United States. However, if she had done 
so, it seemed incredible that since he was 
bidden by Mrs. II. Boardman Jameson he 
neither came nor wrote a letter. The 
Governor of the State did not come, but 
he wrote a very handsome letter, express- 
ing the most heartfelt disappointment 
that he was unable to be present on such 
an occasion ; and we all felt very sorry for 
him when we heard it read. Mrs. Sim 
White said that a governor's life must 
be a hard one, he must have to deny 
himself many pleasures. Our minister, 
the Eev. Henry P. Jacobs, wrote a long 
poem to be read on the occasion ; it was 
in blank verse like Young's "Night 
Thoughts," and some thought he had 
imitated it; but it was generally consid- 
293 



The Centennial 

ered rery fine, though we had not the 
pleasure of hearing it at the centennial — 
why, I will explain later. 

There was to be a grand procession, of 
•ourse, illustrative of the arts, trades, 
and professions in our village a hundred 
years ago and at the present time, and 
Mrs. Jameson engineered that. I never 
Raw a woman work as she did. Louisa 
and I agreed that she could not be so 
very delicate after all. She had a finger 
in everything except the cooking; that 
she left mostly to the rest of us, though 
she did break over in one instance to our 
sorrow. We made pound-cake, and cup- 
cake, and Indian puddings, and pies, and 
we baked beans enough for a standing 
army. Of course, the dinner was to be 
after the fashion of one of a hundred years 
ago. The old oven in the Shaw kitchen 
was to be heated, and Indian puddings 
and pies baked in it; but that would not 
hold enough for such a multitude as we ex- 
pected, so we all baked at home — that is, 
294 



The Jamesons 

all except Caroline Liscom. She would 
not bake a thing because Mrs. Jameson 
got up the centennial, and she declared 
that she would not go. However, she 
changed her mind, which was fortunate 
enough as matters afterward transpired. 

The tenth of August, which was the 
one hundredth anniversary of the settle- 
ment of our village, dawned bright and 
clear, for which we were thankful, 
though it was very hot. The exercises 
were to begin at eleven o'clock in the 
morning with the procession. We were 
to assemble at the old Shaw house at 
half -past twelve; the dinner was to be 
at half -past one, after an hour of social 
intercourse which would afford people an 
opportunity of viewing the house, and a 
few of us an opportunity of preparing the 
dinner. After dinner were to be the 
speeches and readings, which must be 
concluded in season for the out-of-town 
celebrities to take the Grover stage-coach 
to connect with the railroad train. 
2 95 



The Centennial 

By eight o'clock people began to arrive 
from other villages, and to gather on the 
street corners to view the procession. It 
was the very first procession ever organ- 
ized in our village, and we were very 
proud of it. For the first time Mrs. 
Jameson began to be regarded with real 
gratitude and veneration as a local bene- 
factress. We told all the visitors that 
Mrs. II. Boardman Jameson got up the 
centennial, and we were proud that she 
was one of us when we saw her driving 
past in the procession. We thought it 
exceedingly appropriate that the Jame- 
sons — Mr. Jameson had come on from 
New York for the occasion — should ride 
in the procession with the minister and 
the lawyer in a barouche from Grover. 
Barouches seemed that day to be illustra- 
tive of extremest progress in carriages, 
in contrast with the old Linnville and 
Wardville stage-coaches, and the old 
chaise and doctor's sulky, all of which 
had needed to be repaired with infinite 
11 296 



The Jamesons 

care, and were driven with gingerly fore- 
sight, lest they fall to pieces on the line 
of march. We really pitied the village 
doctor in the aged sulky, for it seemed as 
if he might have to set a bone for himself 
by reason of the sudden and total col- 
lapse of his vehicle. Mrs. Jameson had 
decreed that he should ride in it, how- 
ever, and there was no evading her man- 
date. 

Mrs. Jameson looked very imposing in 
her barouche, and we were glad that she 
wore one of her handsome black silks 
instead of her sensible short costume. 
There was a good deal of jet about the 
waist, and her bonnet was all made of jet, 
with a beautiful tuft of pink roses on the 
front, and she glittered resplendently as 
she rode past, sitting up very straight, aa 
befitted the dignity of the occasion. 

"That is Mrs. H. Boardman Jameson/ 

said we, and we mentioned incidentally 

that the gentleman beside her was Mr. 

Jameson. We were not as proud of 

297 



The Centennial N 

Mm, since all that he had done which 
we knew of was to lose all his money and 
have his friends get him a place in the 
custom-house; he was merely a satellite 
of his wife, who had gotten up our cen- 
tennial. 

Words could not express the admira- 
tion which we all felt for the procession. 
It was really accomplished in a masterly 
manner, especially taking into considera- 
tion the shortness of the time for prepar- 
ation ; but that paled beside the wonders 
of the old Shaw house. I was obliged 
to be in the kitchen all during that hour 
of inspection and social intercourse, but I 
could hear the loud bursts of admiration. 
The house seemed full of exclamation- 
points. Flora Clark said for her part she 
could not see why folks could not look at 
a thing and think it was pretty without 
screaming; but she was tired, and proba- 
bly a little vexed at herself for working 
so hard when Mrs. Jameson had gotten 
up the centennial. It was very warm in 
298 



The Jamesons 

the kitchen, too, for Mrs. Jameson had 
herself started the hearth fire in order to 
exemplify to the utmost the old custom. 
The kettles on the crane were all steam- 
ing. Flora Clark said it was nonsense 
to have a hearth -fire on such a hot day 
because our grandmothers were obliged 
to, but she was in the minority. Most 
of the ladies were inclined to follow Mrs. 
Jameson's lead unquestionably on that 
occasion. They even exclaimed admir- 
ingly over two chicken pies which she 
brought, and which I must say had a 
singular appearance. The pastry looked 
very hard and of a curious leaden color. 
Mrs. Jameson said that she made them 
herself out of whole wheat, without 
shortening, and she evidently regarded 
them as triumphs of wholesomeness and 
culinary skill. She furthermore stated 
that she had remained up all night to 
bake them, which we did not doubt, as 
Hannah Bell, her help, had been em- 
ployed steadily in the old Shaw house. 
299 



The Centennial 

Mrs. Jameson had cut the pies before 
bringing them, which Flora Clark whis- 
pered was necessary. " I know that she 
had to cut them with a hatchet and a 
hammer/ whispered she ; and really when 
we came to try them later it did not seem 
so unlikely. I never saw such pastry, 
anything like the toughness and cohe- 
siveness of it ; the chicken was not sea- 
soned well, either. We could eat very 
little; with a few exceptions, we could 
do no more than taste of it, which was 
fortunate. 

I may as well mention here that the 
few greedy individuals, who I fancy fre- 
quent all social functions with an under- 
current of gastronomical desire for their 
chief incentive, came to grief by reason 
of Mrs. Jameson's chicken pies. She 
baked them without that opening in the 
upper crust which, as every good house- 
wife knows, is essential, and there were 
dire reports of sufferings in consequence. 
The village doctor, after his precarious 
300 



The Jameson,* 

drive in the ancient sulky, had a night of 
toil. Caleb — commonly called Kellup — 
Bates, and his son Thomas, were the 
principal sufferers, they being notorious 
eaters and the terrors of sewing- circle 
suppers. Flora Clark confessed to me 
that she was relieved when she saw them 
out again, since she had passed the pies to 
them three times, thinking that such de- 
vourers would stop at nothing and she 
might as well save the delicacies for the 
more temperate. 

We were so thankful that none of the 
out-of-town celebrities ate Mrs. Jame- 
son's chicken pies, since they had a 
rather unfortunate experience as it was. 
The dinner was a very great success, and 
Flora Clark said to me that if people a 
hundred years ago ate those hearty, nour- 
ishing victuals as these people did, she 
didn't wonder that the men had strength 
to found a Eepublic, but she did wonder 
how the women folks who had to cook 
for them had time and strength to live, 
301 



The Centennial 

After dinner the speechifying began. 
The Rev. Henry P. Jacobs made the 
opening address ; we had agreed that he 
should be invited to do so, since he was 
the minister. He asked the blessing be- 
fore we began to eat, and made the open- 
ing address afterward. Mr. Jacobs is 
considered a fine speaker, and he is never 
at a loss for ideas. We all felt proud of 
him as he stood up and began to speak of 
the state of the Linnville church a hun- 
dred years ago, and contrasted those days 
of fireless meeting-houses with the com- 
forts of the sanctuary at the present time. 
He also had a long list of statistics. I 
began at last to feel a little uneasy lest 
he might read his poem, and so rob the 
guests who were to speak of their quotas 
of time. Louisa said she thought he was 
intending to, but she saw Mrs. Jameson 
whisper to her husband, who immediately 
tiptoed around to him with a scared and 
important look, and said something in a 
low voice. Then the minister, with a 
302 



The Jamesons 

somewhat crestfallen air, curtailed his 
remarks, saying something about his 
hoping to read a poem a little later on 
that auspicious occasion, but that he 
would now introduce Mrs. H. Boardman 
Jameson, to whom they were all so much 
indebted. 

Mrs. Jameson arose and bowed to the 
company, and adjusted her eyeglasses. 
Her jets glittered, her eyes shone with a 
commanding brightness, and she really 
looked very imposing. After a few 
words, which even Flora Clark acknowl- 
edged were very well chosen, she read 
the Governor's letter with great impres- 
siveness. Then she went on to read other 
letters from people who were noteworthy 
in some way and had some association 
with the village. Flora Clark said that 
she believed that Mrs. Jameson had writ- 
ten to every celebrity whose grandfather 
ever drove through Linnville. She did 
have a great many letters from people 
who we were surprised to hear had ever 
303 



The Centennial 

heard of us, and they were very interest- 
ing. Still it did take time to read them ; 
and after she had finished them all, Mrs. 
Jameson commenced to speak on her own 
account. She had some notes which she 
consulted unobtrusively from time to 
time. She dwelt mainly upon the vast 
improvement for the better in our condi- 
tion during the last hundred years. She 
mentioned in this connection Robert 
Browning, the benefit of whose teaching 
was denied our ancestors of a hundred 
years ago. She also mentioned hygienic 
bread as a contrast to the heavy, indiges- 
tible masses of corn-meal concoctions and 
the hurtful richness of pound-cake. Mrs. 
Jameson galloped with mild state all her 
little hobbies for our delectation, and the 
time went on. AVe had sat very long at 
dinner ; it was later than we had planned 
when the speechifying began. Mrs. 
Jameson did not seem to be in the least 
aware of the flight of time as she peace- 
fully proceeded ; nor did she see how we 
3°4 



The Jamesons 

were all fidgeting. Still, nobody spoke to 
her; nobody quite dared, and then we 
thought every sentence would be her last. 
The upshot of it was that the Grover 
stage-coach arrived, and Mrs. Sim White's 
brother, Elijah M. Mills, and Mrs. Lucy 
Beers Wright, besides a number of others 
of lesser fame, were obliged to leave 
without raising their voices, or lose their 
trains, which for such busy people was 
not to be thought of. There was much 
subdued indignation and discomfiture 
among us, and I dare say among the 
guests themselves. Mrs. Lucy Beers 
Wright was particularly haughty, even to 
Mrs. Sim White, who did her best to ex- 
press her regret without blaming Mrs. 
Jameson. As for Elijah M. Mills, Louisa 
said she heard him say something which 
she would not repeat, when he was put- 
ting on his hat. He is a fine speaker, 
and noted for the witty stories which he 
tells ; we felt that we had missed a great 
deal. I must say, to do her justice, that 
3°5 



The Centennial 

Mrs. Jameson seemed somewhat per- 
turbed, and disposed to be conciliating 
when she bade the guests good-by; she 
was even apologetic in her calmly supe- 
rior way. 

However, the guests had not been 
gone long before something happened to 
put it all out of our minds for the time. 
The Rev. Henry P. Jacobs had just stood 
up again, w r ith a somewhat crestfallen 
air, to read his poem — I suppose he was 
disappointed to lose the more important 
part of his audience — when there was a 
little scream, and poor Harriet Jameson 
was all in a blaze. She wore a white 
muslin dress, and somehow it had caught 
— I suppose from a spark ; she had been 
sitting near the hearth, though we had 
thought the fire was out. Harry Lis com 
made one spring for her when he saw 
what had happened ; but he had not been 
very near her, and a woman was before 
him. She caught up the braided rug 
from the floor, and in a second Harriet 
306 



The Jamesons 

was bome down under it, and then Harry 
was there with his coat, and Sim White, 
and the fire was out. Poor Harriet 
was not much hurt, only a few trifling 
burns; but if it had not been for the 
woman she might easily have gotten her 
death, and our centennial ended in a 
tragedy. 

It had all been done so quickly that 
we had not fairly seen who the woman 
who snatched up the rug was, but when 
the fire was out we knew : Caroline Lis- 
com. She was somewhat burned herself, 
too, but she did not seem to mind that at 
all. She was, to our utter surprise — for 
we all knew how she had felt about Har- 
ry's marrying Harriet — cuddling the girl 
in her motherly arms, the sleeves of her 
best black grenadine being all scorched, 
too, and telling her that she must not be 
frightened, the fire was all out, and call- 
ing her my dear child, and kissing her. 
I, for one, never knew that Caroline Lis- 
com could display so much warmth of 
307 



The Centennial 

love and pity, and that toward a girl 
whom she was determined her son should 
not marry, and before so many. I sup- 
pose when she saw the poor child all in a 
blaze, and thought she would be burned 
to death, her heart smote her, and she 
felt that she would do anything in the 
world if she only lived. 

Harry Liscom was as white as a sheet. 
Once or twice he tried to push his moth- 
er away, as if he wished to do the com- 
forting and cuddling himself; but she 
would not have it. " Poor child ! poor 
child ! " she kept repeating; " it's all over, 
don't be frightened," as if Harriet had 
been a baby. 

Then Mrs. H. Boardman Jameson 
came close to Caroline Liscom, and tears 
were running down her cheeks quite 
openly. She did not even have out her 
handkerchief, and she threw her arms 
right around the other woman who had 
saved her daughter. "God bless you! 
Oh, God bless you ! " she said ; then her 
308 



The Jamesons 

voice broke and she sobbed out loud. I 
think a good many of us joined her. As 
for Caroline Lis com, she sort of pushed 
Harriet toward her son, and then she 
threw her poor, scorched arms around 
Mrs. H. Boardman Jameson and kissed 
her. "Oh, let us both thank God!" 
sobbed Caroline. 

As soon as we got calm enough we 
took Harriet upstairs ; her pretty muslin 
was fluttering around her in yellow rags, 
and the slight burns needed attention; 
she was also exhausted with the nervous 
shock, and was trembling like a leaf, her 
cheeks white and her eyes big with ter- 
ror. Caroline Lis com and her mother 
came too, and Caroline concealed her 
burns until Harriet's were dressed. 
Luckily, the doctor was there. Then 
Harriet was induced to lie down on the 
north chamber bed on the old blue-and- 
white counterpane that Mrs. Sim White's 
mother spun and wove. 

Rev. Henry P. Jacobs did not read his 
3°9 



The Centennial 

poem; we were too much perturbed to 
listen to it, and nobody mentioned it to 
him. Flora Clark whispered to me that 
if he began she should go home ; for her 
part, she felt as if she had gone through 
enough that day without poetry. The 
poem was delivered by special request at 
our next sewing circle, but I think the 
minister was always disappointed, though 
he strove to bear it with Christian grace. 
However, within three months he had to 
console him a larger wedding fee than 
often falls to a minister in Linnville. 

The centennial dissolved soon after the 
burning accident. There was nothing 
more to do but to put the Shaw house to 
rights again and restore the various arti- 
cles to their owners, which, of course, 
could not be done that day, nor for many 
days to come. I think I never worked 
harder in my life than I did setting things 
to rights after our centennial ; but I had 
one consolation through it, and that was 
the happiness of the two young things, 
310 



The Jamesons 

who had had indirectly their love tangle 
smoothed out by it. 

Caroline Lis com and Mrs. Jameson 
were on the very best of terms, and Har- 
riet was running over to Caroline's house 
to take lessons in housekeeping, instead 
of to mine, before the week was out. 

There was a beautiful wedding the last 
of October, and young Mrs. Harry Lis- 
com has lived in our midst ever since, 
being considered one of the most notable 
housekeepers in the village for her age. 
She and her husband live with Caroline 
Liscom, and Louisa says sometimes that 
she believes Caroline loves the girl better 
than she does her own son, and that she 
fairly took her into her heart when she 
saved her life. 

"Some women can't love anybody ex- 
cept their own very much unless they can 
do something for them, " says Louisa ; and 
I don't know but she is right. 

The Jamesons are still with us every 
summer — even Grandma Cobb, who does 
3" 



The Centennial 

not seem to grow feeble at all. Sarah is 
growing to be quite a pretty girl, and 
there is a rumor that Charlie White is 
attentive to her, though they are both 
almost too young to think of such things. 
Cobb is a very nice boy, and people say 
they had as soon have him come in and 
sit a while and talk, as a girl. As for 
Mrs. Jameson, she still tries to improve 
us at times, not always with our full con- 
currence, and her ways are still not alto- 
gether our ways, provoking mirth, or 
calling for charity. Yet I must say we 
have nowadays a better understanding of 
her good motives, having had possibly 
our spheres enlarged a little by her, after 
all, and having gained broader views 
from the points of view of people outside 
our narrow lives. I think .we most of us 
are really fond of Mrs. H. Boardman 
Jameson, and are very glad that the 
Jamesons came to our village. 



THB END 
12 312 



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