LEE & SHEPARD, BOSTON.
LITTLE PRUDY'S FLYAWAY SERIES.
AUTHOR OF "LITTLE PRUDY STORIES," "DOTTY DIMPLE STORIES," "THE DOCTOR'S DAUGHTER," ETC.
BOSTON: LEE AND SHEPARD, PUBLISHERS.
NEW YORK: LEE, SHEPARD AND DILLINGHAM.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, BY LEE AND SHEPARD, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
Electrotyped and Printed at the Establishment of W. W. HARDING, Philadelphia.
MY LITTLE CUBAN FRIEND
LITTLE PRUDY'S FLYAWAY SERIES.
TO BE COMPLETED IN SIX VOLS.
1. LITTLE FOLKS ASTRAY.
2. PRUDY KEEPING HOUSE.
3. AUNT MADGE'S STORY.
4. LITTLE GRANDMOTHER.
(Others in preparation.)
I. GEORGE WASHINGTON, 9
II. THE SAMPLER, 24
III. THE BROKEN BRIDGE, 31
IV. THE TITHING-MAN, 44
V. A WITCH-TALK, 56
VI. A WITCH-FRIGHT, 67
VII. THE SILK POCKET, 83
VIII. PATTY'S SUNDAY, 99
IX. MRS. CHASE'S BOTTLE, 110
X. MASTER PURPLE, 122
XI. LITTLE GRANDFATHER, 134
XII. THE LITTLE DIPPER, 144
XIII. MR. STARBIRD'S DREAM, 160
XIV. SPINNING, 176
XV. THE BRASS KETTLE, 186
I believe I will tell you the story of Grandma Parlin's little childhood, as nearly as possible in the way I have heard her tell it herself to Flyaway Clifford.
* * * * *
Well, then, Grandma Parlin, her face full of wrinkles, lay in bed under a red and green patchwork quilt, with her day-cap on. That is, the one who was going to be Grandma Parlin some time in the far-off future.
She wouldn't have believed it of herself now if you had told her. You might as well have talked to the four walls. Not that she was deaf: she had ears enough; it was only brains she lacked—being exactly six hours old, and not a day over.
This was more than seventy years ago, little reader, for she was born on New Year's day, 1800,—born in a town we will call Perseverance, among the hills in Maine, in a large, unpainted house, on the corner of two streets, in a bedroom which looked out upon the east.
Her mother, who was, of course, our little Flyaway's great grandmother, lay beside her, with a very happy face.
"Poor little lamb," said she, "you have come into this strange world just as the new century begins; but you haven't the least idea what you are undertaking!—I am going to call this baby Patience," said she to the nurse; "for if she lives she will have plenty of trouble, and perhaps the name will help her bear it better."
And then the good woman lay silent a long while, and prayed in her heart that the little one might grow up in the fear of the Lord. She had breathed the same wish over her other eight children, and now for this ninth little darling what better prayer could be found?
"She's the sweetest little angel picter," said Siller Noonin, smoothing baby's dot of a nose; "I guess she's going to take after your side of the house, and grow up a regular beauty."
"We won't mind about looks, Priscilla," said Mrs. Lyman, who was remarkably handsome still. "'Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but the woman that feareth the Lord shall be praised.'"
"Well, well, what a hand Mrs. Lyman is for Scripter," thought Siller, as she bustled to the fireplace, and began to stir the gruel which was boiling on the coals. Then she poured the gruel into a blue bowl, tasting it to make sure it was salted properly. Mrs. Lyman kept her eyes closed all the while, that she might not see it done, for it was not pleasant to know she must use the spoon after Priscilla.
The gruel was swallowed, Mrs. Lyman and the baby were both asleep, and the nurse had taken out her knitting, when she heard some one step into the south entry.
"I wonder who that is," thought Siller; "it's my private opinion it's somebody come to see the new baby."
She knew it was not one of the family, for the older children had all gone to school and taken their dinners, and the two little ones were spending the day at their aunt Hannah's. Now it was really no particular business of Siller Noonin's who was at the door. Squire Lyman was in the "fore room," and Betsey Gould, "the help," in the kitchen. Siller was not needed to attend to callers; but when she was "out nursing" she always liked to know what was going on in every part of the house, and was often seen wandering about with her knitting in her hands.
As she stole softly out of the bedroom now, not to waken Mrs. Lyman, she heard Mr. Bosworth talking to Squire Lyman, and was just in time to catch the words,—
"The poor General! The doctors couldn't do nothing for him, and he died."
"Not our General?" cried Siller, dropping her knitting-work.
"Yes, George Washington," replied the visitor, solemnly.
Siller leaned back against the open door, too much excited to notice how the cold air was rushing into the house. "General Washington! When did he die? and what was the matter of him?" gasped she. "Speak low; I wouldn't have Mrs. Lyman get hold of it for the world!"
"He died a Saturday night, the fourteenth of last month, of something like the croup, as near as I can make out," said Mr. Bosworth.
Squire Lyman shook his head sorrowfully, and put another stick of wood on the fire.
"Mrs. Noonin," said he, "will you have the goodness to shut that door?"
Siller shut the door, and walked to the fire with her apron at her eyes. "O dear, O dear, how quick the news has come! Only a little over a fortnight! Here it is a Wednesday. Where was I a Saturday night a fortnight ago? O, a settin' up with old Mrs. Gould, and little did I think—Why, I never was so beat! Do you suppose the Britishers will come over and go to fighting us again? There never was such a man as General Washington! What shall we do without him?"
Siller's voice was pitched very high, but she herself supposed she was speaking just above her breath. Mr. Bosworth stamped his snowy boots on the husk mat, and was just taking out his silk handkerchief, when Siller, who knew what a frightful noise he always made blowing his nose, seized his arm and whispered,—
"Hush, we're keeping the house still? I don't know as you know we've got sick folks in the bedroom."
As she spoke there was a sudden sharp tinkle of the tea-bell—Mrs. Lyman's bell—and Priscilla ran back at once to her duty.
"Where have you been?" said Mrs. Lyman, "and what did I hear you say about George Washington?"
There was a fire in the lady's mild, blue eyes, which startled Priscilla.
"You've been dozing off, ma'am," said she, soothingly. "I hadn't been gone more'n a minute; but folks does get the cur'usest notions, dreaming like in the daytime."
"There, that will do," said the sweet-voiced lady, with a keen glance at the nurse's red eyelids; "you mean well, but the plain truth is always safest. You need not try to deceive me, and what is more, you can't do it, Priscilla."
Then the nurse had to tell what she had heard, though it was too sad a story to come to the sick woman's ears; for every man, woman, and child in the United States loved the good George Washington, and must grieve at the news of his death.
Mrs. Lyman said nothing, but lay quite still, looking out of the window upon the white fields and the bare trees, till the baby began to cry, and Siller came to take it away.
"Bless its little heart," said the nurse, holding it against her tear-wet cheek; "it's born into this world in a poor time, so it is. No wonder it feels bad. Open its eyes and look around. See, Pinky Posy, this is a free country now, and has been for over twenty years; but it's my private opinion it won't stay so long, for the Father of it is dead and gone! O, Mrs. Lyman, what awful times there'll be before this child grows up!"
"Don't borrow trouble, Priscilla. The world won't stop because one man is dead. It is God's world, and it moves."
"But, Mrs. Lyman, do you think the United States is going to hold together without General Washington?"
"Yes, to be sure I do; and my baby will find it a great deal better place to live in than ever you or I have done; now you mark my words, Priscilla."
All the people of Perseverance considered Mrs. Lyman a very wise woman, and when she said, "Now you mark my words," it was as good as Elder Lovejoy's amen at the end of a sermon. Priscilla wiped her eyes and looked consoled. After what Mrs. Lyman had said, she felt perfectly easy about the United States.
"Well, baby," said she, "who knows but you'll see great times, after all, in your day and generation?"
And upon that the baby went to sleep quite peacefully, though without ever dreaming of any "great times."
Ah, if Siller could only have guessed what wonderful things that baby was really going to see "in her day and generation!" The good woman had never heard of a railroad car, or a telegraph wire, or a gaslight. How she would have screamed with astonishment if any one had told her that Miss Patience would some time go whizzing through the country without horses, and with nothing to draw the carriage but a puff of smoke! Or that Miss Patience would warm her feet at a hole in the floor (for Siller had no idea of our furnaces). Or that Miss Patience's grandchildren would write letters to her with lightning (for a telegraph is almost the same thing as that).
But, no; Siller was only thinking about some cracker toast and a cup of tea, and wondering if it was time to set the heel in her stocking. And before she had counted off the stitches, the children came home from school, and she had more than she could do to keep the house still.
Little Moses, two years old, had to see the new baby, and in a fit of indignation almost put her eyes out with his little thumbs; for what right had "um naughty sing" in his red cradle?
But Moses soon found he could not help himself; and as "um naughty sing" did not seem to mean any harm, he gave up with a good grace.
Days, weeks, and months passed on. Siller Noonin went to other houses with her knitting-work, and Patience cut her teeth on a wooden plate, took the whooping-cough, and by that time it was her turn to give up; for another baby came to the house, and wanted that same red cradle. It was a boy, and his name was Solomon. And after that there was another boy by the name of Benjamin; and Benjamin was the only one who never had to give up, for he was always the youngest. That made eleven children in all: James, John, Rachel, and Dorcas; the twins, Silas and George; and then Mary, Moses, Patience, Solomon, and Benjamin.
There was a great deal to be done in the house, for there were two large farms, with cattle and sheep, and two men who lived at Squire Lyman's and took care of the farms. Milk had to be made into butter and cheese, and wool into blankets and gowns, and there was generally only one girl in the kitchen to help to do all the work. Her name was Betsey Gould, and she was strong and willing; and Rachel and Dorcas each did her share, and so did even little Mary; but they could not do everything. The dear mother of all had to spin and weave, and bake and brew, and pray every hour in the day for strength and patience to do her whole duty by such a large family.
They were pretty good children, but she did not have so much time to attend to them as mothers have in these days, and they did not always look as tidy or talk as correctly as you do, my dears. You must not expect too much of little folks who lived before the time of railroads, in a little country town where there were no Sabbath schools, and hardly any news-papers.
It is of Patience Lyman, the one who afterwards became Grandma Parlin, that I shall have most to say. She was usually called Patty, for short (though Patty is really the pet name for Martha instead of Patience), and she was, as nearly as I can find out, very much such a child as Flyaway Clifford—with blue eyes, soft light hair, and little feet that went dancing everywhere.
And now, if you think you know her well enough, perhaps you would like to go to school with her a day or two, about three quarters of a mile away from home.
How do you think she was dressed? In a "petticoat and loose gown." The loose gown was a calico jacket that hung about the waist in gathers, and the petticoat was a moreen skirt that came down almost to the ankles. Then her feet—I must confess they were bare. Nearly all the little children in Perseverance went barefooted in summer.
Patty had been longing for an education ever since she was two years old, and at three and a half she was allowed to go to school. All the other children had been taught the alphabet at home, for Mrs. Lyman was a very considerate woman, and did not think it fair to trouble a teacher with baby-work like that; but this summer she had so much to do, with little Benny in her arms and Solly under her feet, that she was only too glad to have talkative Patty out of the way.
So, just as the stage-horn was blowing, at half past eight one bright June morning, Mary put into the dinner basket an extra saucer pie, sweetened with molasses, and walked the little one off to school. What school was Patty had no idea. She had heard a great deal about the new "mistress," and wondered what sort of a creature she could be. She soon found out. Miss Judkins was merely a fine-looking young lady, with a tortoise-shell comb in her hair, not quite as large as a small chaise-top. She looked like other people, and Patty was sadly disappointed. There was an hour-glass on the desk full of dripping sand, and Patty wanted to shake it to make the sand go out faster, for she grew very tired of sitting still so long hearing the children read, "Pretty cow, go there and dine." She was afraid to say her letters; but after she had said them, was much prouder than the Speaker of the Senate after he has made a very eloquent speech. She had nothing more to do, and watched the little girls working their samplers. Her sister Mary, not yet eight years old, was making a beautiful one, with a flower-pot in one corner and a tree and birds in the other, and some lines in the middle like these:—
"Be this Miss Mary's care: Let this her thoughts engage; Be this the business of her youth, The comfort of her age."
Patty looked on, and watched Mary's needle going in and out, making little red crooks. She did not know the silk letters, and would not have understood the verse if she had heard it read; but neither did the big sister understand it herself.
"Be this the business of her youth," Mary thought meant the sampler, for really that sampler had been the business of her youth ever since she had learned to hold a needle, and the tree wasn't done yet, and the flowers were flying out of the flower-pot on account of having no stems to stand on. Patty was ashamed because she herself had no canvass with silk pictures on it to carry out to the "mistress." The more she thought about it, the more restless she grew, till before noon she fell to crying, and said aloud,—
"I want to work a sambler; yes, I do."
Miss Judkins told Mary she had better take her home. Patty felt disgraced, and cried all the way, she did not really know what for. Sometimes she thought it was because the school was such a poor place to go to, and then again she thought it was because she wanted to work a "sambler." When they got home she did not wait till they were fairly in the house, but called out, with a loud voice,—
"O, mamma! She's only a woman! The mistress is only a woman!"
That was all the way she had of telling how cruelly disappointed she felt in the school.
Mrs. Lyman had just put the baby in the cradle, and was now rocking little Solly, who was crying with a stone bruise in the bottom of his foot. Betsey Gould was washing, Dorcas and Rachael were making dresses, and the dinner must be put on the table. No wonder tired Mrs. Lyman was sorry to see Patty come home crying, or that she laid her pale, tired face against Solly's cheek when Patty whined, "Mayn't I work a sambler?" and said, in a low tone, as if she were breathing a prayer,—
"Let patience have her perfect work."
Patty had often heard her poor, overburdened mother make that same remark, but had never understood it before. Now she thought it meant, "Let my daughter Patience have a sambler to work;" and she cleared the clouds off her little face, and went dancing out to see the new goslings. Mary, who was thoughtful beyond her years, coaxed Solly into her arms, and soothed him with a little story, so that her mother could go and take up the dinner.
Patty found out next day that she was not to have a sampler; but to console her Mary hemmed a large piece of tow and linen cloth, and told her she might learn to work on it with colored thread. It was a funny looking thing after Patty had scrawled it all over with Greek and Hebrew; but it was a wonderful help to the child's feelings.
She was a great pet at school, and grew quite fond of going; but she tells Flyaway she does not remember much more that happened, after she began that sampler, until the next spring. At that time she was a trifle more than four years old.
THE BROKEN BRIDGE.
It was early in April, and the travelling was very bad, for the frost was just coming out of the ground. Mary, Moses, and the twins attended a private school, on the other side of the river, and Patty went with them; but they were all rather tired of her company.
"Mother, we're afraid she'll get lost in one of the holes," said Moses. "Won't you make her stay at home?"
Mrs. Lyman stood before the brick oven, taking out of it some blackened cobs which had been used for smoking hams, and putting them into a dish of water.
"What are you doing with those cobs?" asked Moses, while Patty caught at her mother's skirts, saying,—
"I won't lose me in a hole, mamma! Mayn't I go to school?"
"I will tell you what I am doing with the cobs, Moses," said Mrs. Lyman; "making pearlash water. I shall soak them a while, and then pour off the water into bottles. Cob-coals make the very best of pearlash."
How queer that seems to us! Why didn't Mrs. Lyman send to the store and buy soda? Because in those days there was no such thing as soda.
"But as for Patience," said she, "I really don't see, Moses, how I can have her stay at home this week. Rachel is weaving, Dorcas is spinning, and the baby is cutting a tooth. Just now my hands are more than full, my son."
Patty was delighted to hear that. It never once occurred to her to feel ashamed of being such a trial to everybody. Dorcas tied her hood, pinned her yellow blanket over her little shoulders, kissed her good by, and off she trotted between Mary and Moses, full of triumph and self-importance.
There was only a half-day's school on Saturday, and as the children were going home that noon, George said,—
"I call this rather slow getting ahead. Patty creeps like a snail."
"Because her feet are so small," said kind-hearted Mary.
"They are twice as big as common with mud, I am sure," returned George; whereupon Silas laughed; for whatever either of the twins said, the other twin thought it very bright indeed.
"There, don't plague her, Georgie," said Mary, "Moses and I have got as much as we can do to get her home. I tell you my arms ache pulling!"
As she spoke a frightful noise was heard,—not thunder, it was too prolonged for that; it was a deep, sullen roar, heard above the wail of the wind like the boom of Niagara Falls. Very soon the children saw for themselves what it meant. The ice was going out!
There was always more or less excitement to these little folks,—and, indeed, to the grown folks too,—in the going out of the ice, for it usually went at a time when you were least expecting it.
This was a glorious sight! The ice was very thick and strong, and the freshet was hurling it down stream with great force. The blocks were white with a crust of snow on top, but they were as blue at heart as a bed of violets, and tumbled and crowded one another like an immense company of living things. The tide was sending them in between great heaps of logs, and the logs were trying to crush them to pieces, while they themselves rushed headlong at terrible speed. The sun came out of a cloud, and shone on the ice and logs in their mad dance. Then the white blocks quivered and sparkled like diamonds, and the twins cried out together, "How splendid!"
"Pretty! pretty!" chimed in little Patty, falling face downwards into a mud puddle.
"Well, that's pretty works," said Moses, picking her up, and partially cleansing her with his gingham pocket-handkerchief.
"Hallo, there!" shouted Mr. Griggs, the toll-gatherer, appearing at the door of his small house with both arms above his head. "Children, children, stop! Don't you come anigh the bridge for your lives!"
"Oh, it's going off! its going off!" cried the five Lymans in concert.
They forgot to admire any longer the magnificent sight. The ice might be glorious in its beauty; but, alas, it was terrible in its strength!
How could they get home? That was the question. They could see their father's house in the distance; but how and when were they to reach it? It might as well have been up in the moon.
"They can't come after us," wailed Mary, wringing her hands; "'twill be days and days before they can put a boat into this river."
"What shall we do?" groaned Moses; "we can't sleep on the ground."
"With nothing to eat," added George, who remembered the brick-red Indian pudding they were to have had for dinner.
"Don't be scared, children; go ahead," said Dr. Hilton, from the bank.
"What! Would you have 'em risk their lives?" said the timid toll-gatherer. "Look at them blocks crowding up against the piers! Hear what a thunder they make! And the logs swimming down in booms! You step into our house, children, and my wife and the neighbors, we'll contrive to stow you away somewheres."
Crowds of people were collecting on the bank watching the ice go out.
"Well, you are in a pretty fix, children," said one of the men. "How did your folks happen to let you come?"
The Lymans stood dumb and transfixed.
"Hurry! Why don't you step lively?" said Dr. Hilton, and two or three other men.
"Stay where you are, children," cried Mr. Chase and Dr. Potter from the other bank.
"If we could only see father!" said one of the twins. Brave as they both thought themselves, the roaring torrent appalled them.
Suddenly there was a shout from the other end of the bridge as loud and shrill as a fog-bell:—
"Children, come home! George! Silas! Mary? Be quick?"
It was Squire Lyman's voice.
"What shall we do?" cried Mary, running round and round.
"'Twon't do to risk it, neighbor Lyman," screamed the toll-gatherer.
"Children, run! there is time," answered the father, hoarsely.
It was Mary who called back again, "Yes, father, we'll come."
For the twins did not seem to feel clear what to do. "He knows," thought she. "What father tells us to do must be right."
She stepped firmly upon the shaking bridge. For an instant Moses hesitated, then followed with Patty; and after him came the twins, with their teeth firmly set.
"Quick! quick!" screamed Squire Lyman. "Run for your lives!"
"Run! run!" echoed the people on both banks; but Mr. Griggs's tongue clove to the roof of his mouth.
The roaring torrent and the high wind together were rocking the bridge like a cradle. If it had not been for Patty! All the rest could run. It seemed as if the mud on the child's shoes had turned to lead. She hung, crying and struggling, a dead weight between Moses and Mary, who pulled her forward, without letting her little toddling feet touch the ground.
The small procession of five, how eagerly everybody watched it! The poor toll-gatherer, if he had had the courage, would have run after the children, and snatched them back from their doom. Every looker-on was anxious; yet all the anxiety of the multitude could not equal the agonizing suspense in that one father's heart. He thought he knew the strength of the piers; he thought he could tell how long they would stand against the ice; but what if he had made a mistake?
The children did not get on quite as fast as he had expected. Every moment seemed an age, for they were running for their lives!
It was over at last, the bridge was crossed, the children were safe!
The toll-gatherer, and the other people on the bank, set up a shout; but Squire Lyman could not speak. He seized Dr. Potter by the shoulder, and sank back against him, almost fainting.
"Papa! O, papa!" cried Patty, whose little heart scarcely beat any faster than usual, in spite of all the fuss she had made, "I couldn't help but laugh!"
This little speech, so babyish and "Patty-like," brought Squire Lyman to himself, and he hugged the silly creature as if she stood for the whole five children.
"Father, it was a tough one, I tell you," said Silas.
"O, father," said Moses, "if you knew how we trembled! With that baby to pull over, too!"
"I'll tell you what I thought," said Mary, catching her breath. "I though my father knew more than the toll-gatherer, and all the other men. But anyway, if he didn't know, I'd have done what he said."
"Bravo for my Polly," said Squire Lyman, wiping his eyes.
Just half an hour after this, when they were all safe at home, the bridge was snapped in two, and went reeling down stream. Squire Lyman closed his eyes and shuddered. Of course no one could help thinking what might have happened if the children had been a little later; and everybody fell to kissing Patty, for that had long been a family habit when any feeling came up which was too strong or too deep to be expressed.
The next day, in Mrs. Lyman's Sunday evening talk with the children, she told them the trust Mary had shown in her father, when he asked her to cross the bridge, was just the feeling we should have towards our heavenly Father, who is all-wise, and can never make mistakes; and then she gave them this verse to learn:—
"Blessed is the man that maketh the Lord his trust."
Patty forgot the verse very soon; but Mary remembered it as long as she lived.
One summer's day, two years or so after this, Moses was half sick with a "run-round" on his finger, and consented to go up in the spinning-chamber and play with Patty: he never played with girls when he was well. Dorcas was at the little flax-wheel spinning linen, and Patty was in a corner under the eaves, with her rag babies spread out before her,—quite a family of them. The oldest granddaughter was down with brain fever, and she wanted Moses to bleed her. Moses did it with great skill. When he practiced medicine, he pursued the same course Dr. Potter did, their family physician; he bled and "cupped" Patty's dolls, and gave them strong doses of calomel and "jalap."
"Dorcas," said Dr. Moses, looking up, with his jackknife in the air, "what's a witch?"
"A witch? Why, we call Patty a little witch sometimes when she tangles the flax and tries to spin."
"O, I never!" exclaimed Patty, "only just once I—"
"No, no; I mean a real witch," pursued Moses. "You know what I mean. Betsey Gould's mother puts Bible leaves under the churn to keep 'em out of the butter."
"Bible leaves!" said Dorcas. "How did Mrs. Gould's Bible happen to be torn?"
"I don't know; but she puts horseshoes top o' the door, too," added Moses; "you know she does, Dorcas, and lots of other folks do it. What sort of things are witches? And what makes father and mother laugh about 'em, when other folks are so afraid?"
"Because father and mother are wiser than most of the people in this little town. Perhaps I ought not to say it, Moses, but it's the truth."
It was the truth, and Moses knew it very well. He was only talking to amuse himself, and to hear what Dorcas would say. You must remember this was more than sixty years ago, and Perseverance was a poor little struggling town, shut in among the hills, where the stage came only twice a week, and there were only two news-papers, and not very good schools. The most intelligent families, such as the Lymans, Potters, and Chases, laughed at the idea of witches, but there were some people who believed in them, and that very night little Patty was to have her head filled with strange stories.
You remember Siller Noonin, who was at Squire Lyman's when Patty was born? She was a widow, with not much of a home of her own, and was always going about from house to house nursing sick people, and doing little odds and ends of work. To-day she had dropped in at Squire Lyman's to ask if Mrs. Lyman had any more knitting for her to do. In the nicely sanded sitting-room, or "fore-room," as most of the people called it, sat Dr. Hilton, leaning back upon the settle, trotting his foot. He called himself a doctor, though I suppose he did not know much more about the human system than little Doctor Moses, up in the spinning-chamber. When old ladies were not very well, he advised them to take "brandy and cloves, and snakeroot and cinnamon;" and sometimes, if they happened to feel better after it, they thought Dr. Hilton knew a great deal.
"You are just the person—ah, I wanted to see," said Dr. Hilton to Priscilla; "I've been all round looking you up."
"Now that's strange, for I was on my way to your house," said Siller, putting her hand to her side. "I don't feel well right here, and I didn't know but you could tell me of some good bitters to take."
Dr. Hilton felt Siller's pulse, looked at her tongue, and then said, with a wise roll of the eye, which almost set Rachel to laughing, "I would advise you, ma'am—ah, to get a quart—ah, of good brandy, and steep some cloves in it, and some—ah,—some—ah,—"
"Snakeroot and cinnamon," chimed in Rachel, looking up from her sewing with a very innocent face.
Now that was exactly what the Doctor was going to say, only he was trying to say it very slowly, so that it would sound like something remarkable, and he did not like to have the words taken out of his mouth. No doctor would have liked it.
"Well, well, young woman," said he rising from the settle in a rage, "if you understand medicine better than I do, miss, I'll give up my patients to you, and you may take charge of 'em."
"Beg pardon, sir," said Rachel; "I only wanted to help you. You seemed to have forgotten part of your bitters."
It was very rude of Rachel to make sport of the Doctor, even though he was only a quack; and her mother told her afterwards she was surprised to see she was no more of a lady.
"Mark my words, Rachel," said Mrs. Lyman, "those who are careless about other people's feelings will have very few friends."
Rachel blushed under her mother's glance, and secretly wished she were as careful of her words as her sweet sister Dorcas.
But I was going to tell you that Dr. Hilton had been looking for Priscilla, because he wished her to go and keep his house a few days while his wife was gone on a visit. Siller told Mrs. Lyman she was always very lonesome there, because there were no children in the house and begged that "the two small girls" might go and stay with her till she got a little used to it,—one night would do.
Mrs. Lyman very seldom allowed Mary or Patience to be gone over night; but to oblige Priscilla, who was always such a good friend of the children in all their little sicknesses, she consented.
"I shall take them with me to prayer meeting in the evening," said Siller.
"Very well," replied Mrs. Lyman.
The little girls had never visited at Dr. Hilton's before, and were glad to go, but Patty did not know how much it would cost her. The house was very nice, and the white sand on the parlor floor was traced in patterns of roses and buds as fine as a velvet carpet. On the door-stone, at the east side of the house, stood an iron kettle, with flaming red flowers growing in it, as bright as those on Mary's sampler. Mary said it seemed as if the kettle had been taken off the stove and set out there to cool.
After a nice supper of hot biscuits, honey, cheese, and spice-cake, they all started for prayer meeting, locking the house behind them; for Dr. Hilton had business in the next town, and was to be gone all night.
Patty was not in the habit of sitting remarkably still, even at church on the Sabbath; and as for a prayer meeting in a school-house, she had never attended one before, and the very idea of it amused her to begin with. It was so funny to see grown people in those seats where the children sat in the daytime! Patty almost wondered if the minister would not call them out in the floor to recite. The services were long, and grew very dull. To pass away the time, she kept sliding off the back seat, which was much too high for her, and bouncing back again, twisting her head around to see who was there, or peeping through her fingers at a little boy, who peeped back again.
Mary whispered to her to sit still, and Siller Noonin shook her head; but Patty did not consider Mary worth minding, and had no particular respect for Siller. Finally, just at the close of a long prayer, she happened to spy Daddy Wiggins, who was sleeping with his mouth open, and the sight was too much for Patty: she giggled out-right. It was a very faint laugh, hardly louder than the chirp of a cricket; but it reached the sharp ears of Deacon Turner, the tithing-man,—the same one who sat in church watching to see if the children behaved well, and he called right out in meeting, in a dreadful voice,—
If he had fired a gun at her head it would not have startled her more. It was the first time she had ever been spoken to in public, and she sank back in Mary's arms, feeling that all was over with her. Other little girls had had their names called out, but they were generally those whose parents did not take proper care of them,—rude children, and not the sort with whom Patty associated.
O, what would her mother say? Was there any place where she could go and hide? Sally Potter would never speak to her again, and Linda Chase would think she was a heathen child.
She didn't care whether she ever had any new clothes to wear or not; what difference would it make to anybody that lived out in the barn? And that was where she meant to live all the rest of her days,—in one of the haymows.
Kind sister Mary kept her arm round the sobbing child, and comforted her, as well as she could, by little hugs. The meeting was soon over, and Patty was relieved to find that she had the use of her feet. So crushed as she had been by this terrible blow, she had hardly supposed she should be able to walk.
"It was real mean and hateful of Deacon Turner," says Mary, as they went back to Dr. Hilton's. "You didn't giggle any, hardly, and he knew you didn't mean to. I'll tell father, and he won't like it one bit."
Patty choked back a sob. This was a new way of looking at things, and made them seem a little less dreadful. Perhaps she wouldn't stay in the barn forever; possibly not more than a year or two.
"Deacon Turner is a very ha'sh man," said Siller; "but if he'd stopped to think twice, he wouldn't have spoken out so to one of you children; for you see your father is about the best friend he's got. He likes to keep on the right side of Squire Lyman, and he must have spoke out before he thought."
Patty drew a long breath. She began to think the Deacon was the one to blame, and she hadn't done any thing so very bad after all, and wouldn't live in the barn more than a day or two, if she did as long as that.
She was glad she was not going home to-night to be seen by any of the family, especially Rachel. By the time they reached Dr. Hilton's she was quite calm, and when Siller asked her if she would like some pancakes for breakfast, she danced, and said, "O, yes, ma'am," in her natural voice.
But, as Siller said, they were all rather stirred up, and wouldn't be in a hurry about going to bed. Perhaps the blackberry tea they had drunk at supper time was too strong for Siller's nerves; at any rate, she felt so wide awake that she chose to sit up knitting, with Patty in her lap, and did not perceive that both the children were growing sleepy.
It was a lovely evening, and the bright moon sailing across the blue sky set the simple woman to thinking,—not of the great and good God of whom she had been hearing this evening, but, I am ashamed to say, of witches!
"I'm glad I've got company," said she, nodding to Mary, "for there's kind of a creeping feeling goes over me such shiny nights as this. It's just the time for Goody Knowles to be out on a broomstick."
"Why, Siller Noonin," exclaimed Mary, "you don't believe in such foolishness as that! I never knew you did before!"
Siller did not answer, for she suddenly remembered that Mrs. Lyman was very particular as to what was said before her children.
"Tell me, Siller; you don't suppose witches go flying round when the moon shines?" asked Mary, curling her lip.
"That's what folks say, child."
"Well, I do declare, Siller, I thought you had more sense."
Mrs. Noonin's black eyes sparkled with anger.
"That's free kind of talk for a little girl that's some related to Sir William Phips; that used to be Governor of this Commonwealth of Massachusetts," said she.
"I never heard of Mr. Phips."
"Well, that's nothing strange. He died over a hundred years ago; but he didn't make fun of witches, I can tell you. He had 'em chained up so they couldn't hurt folks."
"Hurt folks?" said little Patty.
"Yes; you know witches have a way of taking various shapes, such as cats and dogs, and all sorts of creeturs, and going about doing mischief," said Siller, with a solemn click of her knitting-needles.
Mary's nose went farther up in the air. She had heard plenty about the Salem Witchcraft, and knew the stories were all as silly as silly can be.
"Didn't you never hear tell of that Joan of Arc over there to Salem?" went on Siller, who knew no more about history than a baby.
"We've heard of Noah's ark," put in Patty.
"Well, Joan was a witch, and took the shape of a man, and marched at the head of an army, all so grand; but she got found out, and they burnt her up. It was fifty years ago or more."
"Beg your pardon, Siller; but it was almost four hundred years ago," said Mary; "and it wasn't in this country either, 'twas in France. Mother told me all about it; she read it in a book of history."
Siller looked extremely mortified, and picked up a stitch without speaking.
"And besides that," said Mary, "Joan of Arc was a beautiful young girl, and not a witch. I know some of the people called her so; but mother says they were very foolish and wicked."
"Well, I ain't a going to dispute your mother in her opinion of witches; she knows twice to my once about books; but that ain't saying she knows everything, Polly Lyman," returned Siller, laying down her knitting in her excitement; "and 'twill take more'n your mother to beat me out of my seven senses, when I've seen witches with my own naked eyes, and heard 'em a talking to their gray cats."
"Where? O, where?" cried little Patty.
All the "witch" Siller had ever seen was an Englishwoman by the name of Knowles, and the most she ever heard her say to her cat was "Poor pussy." But Siller did not like to be laughed at by a little girl like Polly Lyman; so she tried to make it appear that she really knew some remarkable things.
"Well," said Mary, "I don't see why a gray cat is any worse to talk to than a white one: why is it? Mrs. Knowles asked my mother if it was having a gray cat that made folks call her a witch.—Siller, Mrs. Knowles wasn't the woman you meant, when you said you'd seen a witch?"
"Perhaps so—perhaps not. But what did your mother say when Mrs. Knowles asked her that question?"
"Why, mother laughed, and told Mrs. Knowles not to part with her gray cat, if it was good to catch mice."
"Yes, yes. I know your mother don't believe any of these things that's going; but either Goody Knowles is a witch, or else I am," said Siller, her tongue fairly running away with her.
"Why, Siller Noonin, what makes you think so?"
"Well, for one thing, she can't shed but three tears, and them out of her left eye," said Siller; "that I know to be a fact, for I've watched her, and it's a sure sign. Then Daddy Wiggins, he weighed her once against the church Bible, and she was the lightest, and that's another sure sign. Moreover, he tried her on the Lord's Prayer, and she couldn't go through it straight to save her life. Did you ever mind Goody Knowles's face, how it's covered with moles?"
"Do you mean those little brown things," cried Patty, "with hair in the middle? I've seen 'em lots of times; on her chin, too."
"Yes, dear. Well, Polly, there never was a witch that didn't have moles and warts."
"But what does Mrs. Knowles do that's bad?" says Mary, laughing a little, but growing very much interested.
"Well, she has been known to bewitch cattle, as perhaps you may have heard. Last spring Daddy Wiggins's cows crept up the scaffold,—a thing cows never did afore."
"O, but my father laughed about that. He said he guessed if Mr. Wiggins's cows had had hay enough, they wouldn't have gone out after some more; they'd have staid in the stalls."
"It will do very well for your father to talk," returned Siller, who was growing more and more excited. "Of course Goody Knowles wouldn't bewitch any of his creeturs; it's only her enemies she injures. And that makes me think, children, that it's kind of curious for us to be sitting here talking about her. She may be up on the ridge-pole of the house,—she or one of her imps,—a hearing every word we say."
"O, dear! O, dear!" cried Patty, curling her head under Siller's cape.
"Nonsense, child. I was only in fun," said the thoughtless Siller, beginning to feel ashamed of herself, for she had not intended to talk in this way to the children; "don't lets think any more about it."
And with that she hurried the little girls off to bed; but by this time their eyes were pretty wide open, as you may suppose.
Patty had forgotten all about her deep mortification, and never even thought of Deacon Turner, the tithing-man.
"Hark!" whispered she to Mary, "don't you hear 'em walking on the roof of the house?"
"Hear what?" said Mary, sternly.
"Those things Siller calls creeturs—on broomsticks," returned Patty.
"Nonsense; go to sleep, child."
Mary was too well instructed to be really afraid of witches; still she lay awake an hour or two thinking over what Siller had said, and hearing her cough drearily in the next chamber. Little Patty was sleeping sweetly, but Mary's nerves were quivering, she did not know why, and
"All things were full of horror and affright, And dreadful even the silence of the night."
As she lay wishing herself safe at home in her own bed, there was a sudden noise outside her window,—the sound of heavy footsteps. Who could be walking there at that time of night? If it was a man, he must want to steal. Mary did not for a moment fancy it might be a woman, or a "creetur" on a broomstick,—she was too sensible for that; but you will not wonder that, as she heard the footsteps come nearer and nearer, her heart almost stopped beating from fright. Siller had not coughed for some time, and was very likely asleep. If so, there was no time to be lost.
Mary sprang out of bed, and ran down stairs, whispering, "Fire! Murder! Thieves!"
That wakened Patty, who ran after her, clutching at her night-dress, and crying out, "A fief! A fief!"
For she had lost a front tooth the day before, and could not say "thief."
It was a wonder they both did not fall headlong, going at such speed.
Siller was in the kitchen, standing in the middle of the floor, with a red cloak on, staring straight before her, with a white, scared look.
"Hush, children, for mercy's sake!" she whispered, putting her handkerchief over Patty's mouth, "we're in a terrible fix! It's either thieves or murderers, or else it's witches. Yes, Polly Lyman, witches!"
"I don't hear the steps now," said Mary. "O, yes I do, too; yes I do, too."
By that time there was a loud knocking.
"It must be witches; thieves wouldn't knock," whispered Siller, tearing her back hair. "Hear 'em rattle that door! That was what it meant when I saw that black cat, just before sundown, worritting the doctor's dog. I thought then it was an imp."
The door continued to rattle, and the children's teeth to chatter; also Siller's, all she had left in her head.
"O, if we had a silver bullet," said she, "that would clear 'em out."
Poor little Patty! You may guess at the state of her mind when I tell you she was speechless! For almost the first time in her life she was too frightened to scream.
The knocking grew louder and louder; and Siller, seeing that something must be done, and she was the only one to do it, began to behave like a woman.
"Stop shaking so, children," said she, with a sudden show of courage. "Keep a stiff upper lip! I've got an idea! It may be flesh and blood thieves come after the doctor's chany tea-cups!"
"O, throw them out the window," gasped Mary.
"No, Polly; not while I'm a live woman," replied Siller, who really had some sense when she could forget her fear of hobgoblins. "Into the hampshire, both of you, and let me button you in."
The "hampshire" was a large cupboard, the lower part of which was half filled with boxes and buckets; but the children contrived to squeeze themselves into it.
"It isn't fair, though," said Mary, putting her head out. "I ought to help you, Siller. Give me the shovel and tongs, and I will."
Siller only answered by buttoning the hampshire door.
Patty, feeling safer, screamed "Fief!" once more; and Mary gave her a shaking, which caused the child to bite her tongue; after which Mary hugged and kissed her with the deepest remorse.
Who knew how long either of them had to live? What if the man should break down the kitchen door and get into the house? He was knocking harder than ever, and had been calling out several times,—
"Let me in! Why don't you let me in?"
"There, I do declare, that sounds like Dr. Hilton," whispered Mary to Patty.
And sure enough, next moment the voice of Siller was heard exclaiming, in the utmost surprise,—
"Bless me, doctor, you don't mean to say that's you!"
It was the most welcome sound that the little prisoners in the "hampshire" could possibly have heard. And the laugh, gruff and cracked, which came from the doctor's throat, as soon as he got fairly into the house, was sweeter than the song of a nightingale.
"Let us out! Let us out!" cried they, knocking to be let out as hard as the doctor had knocked to be let in, for Mary was beating the door with a bucket of sugar and Patty with a pewter porringer. But Siller was "all of a fluster," and it was the doctor himself who opened the hampshire doors after the little girls had almost pounded them down.
They were both ashamed to be caught in their night-dresses, and ran up stairs as fast as they could go, but on the way overheard the doctor reproving Siller for giving "those innocent little children such a scare." He was not a wise man, by any means, but he had good common sense.
"It is lucky my wife don't believe in witches," said he, "for I'm as likely to come home late at night as any way, and she'd be in hot water half her time."
Next morning the children were very glad to go home, and Mary, though she would hardly have said so to any one, could not help thinking she should never like Siller Noonin quite so well after this as she had done before.
They were climbing the fence to run across the fields, when some one said,—
It was Deacon Turner, the tithing-man; but his voice was very mild this morning, and he did not look like the same man Patty had seen at prayer meeting. His face was almost smiling, and he had a double red rose in his hand.
"Good morning, little ladies," said he, giving the rose to Patty, who blushed as red as the rose herself, and hung her head in bashful shame.
"Thank you, sir," she stammered.
"I can't bring myself to believe you meant to disturb the meetin' last night," said the deacon, taking her unwilling little hand.
"No, O, no!" replied Patty, with dripping eyes.
"It was in the school-'us, but then the school-'us is just as sacred as the meetin'-'us, when it's used for religious purposes. I'm afeared, Patience, you forgot you went there to hold communion 'long of His saints. I'm afeared your mind warn't in a fit state to receive much benefit from the occasion."
Patty felt extremely uncomfortable. Good Deacon Turner seldom took the least notice of children—having none of his own, and no nieces or nephews;—and when he did try to talk to little folks, he always made a sad piece of work of it. He did not know how to put himself in sympathy with them, and could not remember how he used to feel when he was young.
"We shall always be glad to see you at the regular Wednesday evenin' prayer meetin'," said he, "or to the prayer meetin's in the school-'us; but you must remember it ain't like a meetin' for seckler pupposes, Patience,—it's for prayer, and praise, and the singing of psalms; and you should conduct yourself in a circumspect and becoming manner, as is fittin' for the house of worship; and remember and feel that it's a privilege for you to be there."
This was about the way the deacon talked to Patty, and of course she did not understand one word of it. She tells Flyaway Clifford and Dotty Dimple that grown people in old times almost always talked "too old," and children were afraid of them.
"Yes, my child," added the deacon, "you should realize that it is a precious privilege, and feel to say with the Psalmist,—
"'I joyed when to the house of God, Go up, they said to me; Jerusalem, within thy walls, Our feet shall standing be.'"
Patty was crying by this time very loud, and there was a certain babyish sound in her wail which suddenly reminded Deacon Turner that he was talking to a little girl, and not to a young woman.
"There, there, now, don't cry," said he, patting her head, for her sun-bonnet had fallen back on her neck, "you didn't mean to make fun of religion; I'm sartin sure of that."
"No, I di-idn't, or if I did, I di-idn't mean to," almost howled Patty.
A grim smile overspread the deacon's face. The idea of an infant like that making fun of religion!
"Somehow I was thinkin' you was an older child than what you be," said he, rubbing her silky hair as roughly as a plough would go through a bed of flowers. The action almost drove Patty wild, but the good man meant it most kindly.
"Let's see, I suppose you know your letters now?" added he, going to the other extreme, and talking to her as if she were very young indeed. "And, of course, your mother, who is a godly woman, has you say your catechism. Do you remember, my dear, who made you?"
The question caused Patty to raise her tearful eyes in astonishment. Did he think a girl six and a half years old didn't know that?
"Yes, sir," said she, meekly; "God made me."
"Right, my dear; that's well said. You're not such a bad child after all, and seem to have considerable sense. Here is a dollar for you, my little woman, and tell your mother I know she's bringing you up in the way you should go, and I hope when you are old you'll not depart from it."
Patty stared at the dollar through her tears, and it seemed to stare back again with a face almost as big as a full moon.
"O, thank you, sir," said she, with a deep courtesy.
Never in her life had she owned a whole silver dollar before. How it danced and shone! She held it tight, for it did not seem to be real, and she was afraid it would melt or fly away before she could get it home.
"Mother, O mother," cried she, "see this live dollar! Deacon Turner gave it to me for remembering who made me!"
"Why, child, what do you mean?"
"She means just what she says, mother," said Mary. "Deacon Turner spoke to her in prayer meeting last night—"
"And he was sorry for it, mother, just as Siller thought he'd be; and so he wanted to give her something to make up, I suppose; but should you have thought he'd have given her that dollar?"
Mrs. Lyman was grieved to learn that Patty had been so restless and so irreverent, and called her into the bedroom to talk with her about it.
"My little girl is old enough to begin to think," said she.
"Yes, mother," said Patty, laying the silver dollar against her cheek, "I do think."
"But, Patience, you knew the people had met in that school-house to talk about God; you should have listened to what they were saying."
"But, mamma, the words were too big; I can't understand such big words."
"Well, then, my daughter, you certainly could have sat still, and let other people listen."
Patty hung her head.
"Has a child any right to go where good people are worshipping God, and behave so badly as to disturb them?"
Patty was crying again, and almost thought the barn would be the best place for her to live in. Even her "live dollar" could not console her when her mother spoke in such a tone as that.
"I'll never make any more disturbment, mamma," said she, in a broken-hearted tone.
"I hope you'll remember it," said Mrs. Lyman, taking the child's two hands in hers, and pressing them earnestly.
Patty was afraid she was about to deprive her of the precious dollar; but Mrs. Lyman did not do it; she thought Patty would remember without such a hard punishment as that.
THE SILK POCKET.
When Mrs. Lyman heard what a fright the children had had at Dr. Hilton's she was much displeased, and forbade Siller Noonin ever to talk to them again about witches. Siller confessed she had done wrong, and "hoped Mrs. Lyman wouldn't lay it up against her."
"Poh, she couldn't scare ME! I flied on a broomstick my own self, and I tumbled off. 'Course Mrs. Knowles can't do it; big folks like her!"
At the same time Patty did not like to see Mrs. Knowles come to the house. It wasn't likely she had ever "flied on a broomstick;" but when Mrs. Lyman walked out with the good woman, as she sometimes did, Patty was uneasy till she got home again. Nobody suspected the little girl of such foolishness, and she never told of it till years after, when she was a tall young lady, and did not mind being laughed at for her childish ideas.
But perhaps you would like to know what became of her live dollar. She did not know what to do with so much money, and talked about it first to one and then to another.
"Moses," said she, "which would you ravver do, have me have a hundred cents, and you have ninety-nine cents, or me have ninety-nine cents, and you have a hundred?"
Moses appeared to think hard for a moment, and then said,—
"Well, I guess I'd rather you'd have the hundred."
"O, would you?" cried Patty, kissing him gratefully.
"Yes," said Moses; "for if I had the most, you'd be teasing me for the odd cent."
The dollar burnt Patty's fingers. Some days she thought she would give it to the heathen, and other days she wondered if it would be wrong to spend it for candy. Sometimes she meant to buy a pair of silver shoe-buckles for her darling Moses, and then again a vandyke for her darling Mary. In short, she could not decide what to do with such a vast sum of money.
One day there came to the house a beggar girl, a little image of dirt and rags. She told a pitiful story about a dead mother and a drunken father, and nobody could know that it was quite untrue, and her mother was alive, and waiting for her two miles away.
Patty was so much interested in the little girl's story, that she almost wanted to give her the silver dollar on the spot, but not quite. She ran into the bedroom to ask her mother what it was best to do.
"Why, I thought I fastened that door," cried John, flourishing a paint-brush in her face. "Scamper, or you'll get some paint on your gown."
Patty scampered, but not before she had stained her dress.
"Where is mother?" asked she of Dorcas.
"In the parlor; but don't go in there, child, for the doctor's wife is making a call, and Mrs. Chase, too."
Patty did not wait for Dorcas to finish the sentence, but rushed into the parlor, out of breath. I am afraid she was rather glad to let the doctor's wife know she had some money, and thought of giving it away. Patty was not a bold child, but there were times when she did like to show off.
"O, mother, mother!" cried she, without stopping to look at the ladies. "Let me have my silver dollar this minute! 'Cause there's a poor little—"
"My child," said Mrs. Lyman, in a tone which checked Patty, and made her blush to the roots of her yellow hair.
"Pray, let her finish her story," said the doctor's wife, drawing the little one to her side; "it's something worth hearing, I know."
"It's a little girl," replied Patty, casting down her eyes, "and her mother is dead and her father is drunk."
Patty supposed he lay all the while with his hat on, for she had once seen a man curled up in a heap by the roadside, and had heard John say he was drunk.
"How very sad!" said Mrs. Potter.
Mrs. Chase looked sorry.
"Do you say the mother is dead?" said she.
"Yes'm; the man killed her to death with a jug, and then she died," replied Patty, solemnly.
"Where is the child? Something must be done about it at once," said Mrs. Potter, a very kind lady, but apt to speak without much thought. "O, Patty, dear, I am glad you have such a good heart. It is beautiful to see little children remembering the words of our Saviour, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
Patty's eyes shone with delight. It seemed to her that she was a little Lady Bountiful, going about the world taking care of the poor. She crept closer to Mrs. Potter's side.
"I haven't but just one silver dollar," said she, in a low voice; "but I'd ravver give it to the little girl than keep it myself, I would!"
"Bless your dear little soul," said the doctor's wife, kissing Patty; but Mrs. Chase said nothing; and all at once it occurred to the child that perhaps Mrs. Chase had heard of her being spoken to in meeting, and that was why she did not praise her. Dreadful thought! It frightened Patty so that she covered up her face till both the ladies had gone away, for they did not stay much longer.
After the door was closed upon them, Mrs. Lyman said—,
"Here is your silver dollar, Patty, in my pocket."
Patty fancied that her mother's voice was rather cold. She had expected a few words of praise, or at least a kiss and a smile.
"But think a minute, Patience. Are you sure you want to give it away?"
Patty put her fingers in her mouth, and eyed the dollar longingly. How large, and round, and bright it looked!
"I thought I heard you speak yesterday of buying Dorcas a vandyke,—or was it Mary?—and the day before of getting some shoe-buckles for Moses," added Mrs. Lyman, in the same quiet tones. "And only this morning your mind was running on a jockey for yourself. Whatever you please, dear. Take time to think."
"O, I'd ravver have a jockey. I forgot that—a white one."
"And what will become of the poor little girl?"
"O, I guess Dorcas will give her some remmernants to eat, and folks all around will see to her, you know."
"My child, my child, you don't think as you did when those ladies were here. Do you remember your last Sunday's verse, and what I said about it then?"
Mrs. Lyman's voice was very grave.
Patty repeated the verse,—
"Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them; otherwise, ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven."
She knew very well what it meant.
"Doing alms before women is just the same as doing 'em before men," thought Patty.
She had been making pretty speeches just for the sake of being praised, and she didn't care so very much about the beggar girl after all.
"I am going out to see that poor child for myself," said Mrs. Lyman, putting down the black silk pocket she was making; and Patty followed, with her money clasped close to her bosom.
But by that time the dirty-faced little creature had gone away.
"She told wrong stories," said Dorcas; "she said, in the first place, her mother was dead, and afterwards that her mother was sick."
"Naughty thing! I'm glad I didn't give her my silver dollar!" exclaimed Patty; though she dared not look up, for fear of meeting her mamma's eyes.
"Where have you been, child, to get so stained with paint?" said Rachel, who always saw things before any one else did. "Come here, and let me sponge your gown with spirits of turpentine."
"Strange I shouldn't have noticed that," said Mrs. Lyman. "I hope Mrs. Potter didn't spoil her crape shawl when she put her arm round you, Patience."
Patty dropped her eyes with shame, to think how pleased Mrs. Potter had been with her just for nothing at all.
"Spirits turpletine?" said she, making believe she had never heard the word before. "Spirits turpletine? That isn't angels, Rachel? Then what makes you call 'em spirits?"
Rachel knew the child was talking for the sake of changing the subject, and she would not answer such a foolish question.
"Stand still, you little try-patience," said she, "or I shall never get off the paint."
Mrs. Lyman went back to finish her pocket. Ladies in those days wore them under their dresses, tied about their waists. Mrs. Lyman's was a very pretty one, of quilted black silk, and when it was done, Patty put her dollar in it, and jingled it beside a gold piece of her mother's.
"Which is worth the most, mamma?" said she, "your dollar or my dollar?"
"Mine is worth just twenty times as much as yours."
"Well, I'm glad that naughty girl hasn't got either of 'em," thought Patty. "I'm sorry I made believe good; but I want my dollar, and here 'tis, all safe."
Safe! Before night Patty's dollar was gone, and her mother's gold piece with it,—pocket, and all. It went that very afternoon; but nobody knew it till Mrs. Lyman was getting ready to go to the store two days afterwards, and wanted her pocket to put on.
When she came into the kitchen and said it was not in her bureau drawer, and when Rachel, who always did the hunting, had looked everywhere and could not find it, then there was crying in that house, you may be sure. Patty said at once the beggar girl had taken the pocket.
"But how could she?" said Dorcas. "She was out of sight and hearing before mother began to quilt it."
"Well, then she came back in the night," sobbed Patty.
"I dare say Snippet has put it out of place," said big brother James.
"Yes, Patty is a great hand to lose things," said Rachel.
"No, no, no; that niggeramus girl came and took it; came in the night," persisted Patty.
"Patience!" said her mother, reprovingly; and then Patty had to stop.
She mourned only for the silver dollar. She would have mourned for the gold piece too, if she had known that her mother intended to buy fall clothes with it for the little girls. It was as well Patty did not know this, for she had as much already as she could bear.
Priscilla Noonin came over that afternoon with her knitting. "It was midsummer, and the hay was down," and there were two men helping get it into the barn. One of the men was tall and well formed, but the other, Israel Crossman, was so short as to be almost a dwarf. He had yellow and white hair, was a little lame, and his hands were covered with warts. After supper he sat a few minutes on the top of the fence whittling a stick. As Siller Noonin stood knitting at the window she saw him, and shook her head.
"Somehow or 'nother," said she, "I don't like the looks of that man, and never did. It's my private opinion, Mrs. Lyman, that either he stole your pocket or I did."
"Be careful," whispered Mrs. Lyman, "he will hear you."
He might have heard, or might not; but he soon got off the fence and limped away.
"Israel bears a good character," said Mrs. Lyman; "I will not suspect him, unless I see better reason than I have ever seen yet."
The loss of the silk pocket continued to be a great mystery. Everybody hunted for it from garret to cellar; but summer passed, and it did not come.
Patty's grief wore away by degrees; still she never heard the word "pocket" or the word "dollar" without a pang. And every time she saw Mrs. Chase or Mrs. Potter, she could not help wondering if her money didn't fly away just to punish her for trying to "show off" before them? At any rate, she would never, never "show off" again.
But we must give up hunting for a little while: Sunday has come. Let us forget that "live dollar" (perhaps it's a dead dollar now), and go to church with Patty.
When she was "dressed for meeting," she went into the nicely sanded parlor and stood alone before the looking-glass a minute or two to admire herself. Look at her! She had on a blue cambric frock, and a blue cambric jockey, or hat, turned up a little at the sides, and tied under the chin with a blue ribbon; and on her little brown hands were a pair of white cotton gloves. Don't laugh, little city folks! This was all very fine, sixty years ago, in a backwoods town. But look at her feet, and you must laugh! Her shoes were of the finest red broadcloth, and Mrs. Lyman had made them herself out of pieces of her own cloak and some soft leather left in the house by Mr. Piper, the shoemaker. He went from family to family, making shoes; but he could not make all that were needed in town, so this was not the first time Mrs. Lyman had tried her hand at the business. She used a pretty last and real shoemaker's thread, and Mr. Piper said she was "a dabster at it; no wonder her husband was well off when he had such a smart wife."
For, strange as it may seem to you, Squire Lyman was "well off,"—that is, he had one of the best farms in the county, and more money than any one else in Perseverance, except Mr. Chase and Dr. Potter; those two men were much wealthier than he was.
All the Lymans walked to church except the squire and his wife and the two little boys; they went in the chaise. Dr. Potter rode horseback, with a great show of silk stockings. His wife was propped up behind him on a pillion. She was a graceful rider, but of course she had to put one arm around the doctor to keep from falling off. This would be an odd sight now to you or me, but Patty was so used to seeing ladies riding on pillions that she thought nothing about it. She looked down at her red shoes twinkling in and out of the green grass, and might have been perfectly happy, only the soles wouldn't squeak.
"Patty! Patty!" called sister Mary, "come back here and walk with me."
Patty did not know till then that she was hopping. She went and took Mary's hand, and walked soberly along, thinking.
"I hope Deacon Turner didn't see me. I guess he's 'way ahead of us. I want to run and swing my arms; but I won't, because it is God's holy day."
On the way they overtook Sally Potter, whose jockey was dented and faded; and Patty said, "Good morning, Sally," with quite an air. But when Linda Chase came along, and her new red bosom-pin shone out in the sun, Patty's heart died within her.
"S'pose Linda don't know some folks don't like to see little girls wear bosom-pins," thought she.
When they reached the meeting-house Mrs. Potter was just alighting upon a horse-block. "Good morning, Linda," said she; "and how do you do, Patty, my dear?"
"H'm! She didn't say 'Linda, my dear.' Guess she don't like bosom-pins," thought Patty; and her silly heart danced up again.
"O, but I know why Mrs. Chase says 'Patty, my dear;' it's because I—well, she s'poses I gave that dollar to the girl that her father was drunk."
And I am glad to say Patty blushed.
The meeting-house was an unpainted building with two doors. As they walked in at the left door, their feet made a loud sound on the floor, which was without a carpet. There were galleries on each side of the house, and indeed the pulpit was in a gallery, up, up, ever so high, with a sounding-board over the preacher's head. Right in the middle of the church was a box stove, but you could see that it was not half large enough to heat the house. Of course there was no fire in it now, for it was midsummer; but in the winter ladies had to carry foot-stoves full of live coals to keep their feet warm in their pews.
Squire Lyman's pew was very near the pulpit, and was always pretty well filled. Like the rest of the great square boxes,—for that was what they looked like,—the seat was so high that Patty's scarlet shoes dangled in the air ever so far from the floor.
At precisely ten o'clock, Elder Lovejoy walked feebly up the aisle, and climbed the pulpit stairs. Patty watched him, as if he had been one of Jacob's angels ascending the ladder. He was a tall, thin man, with a fair complexion and long features. He wore a large turned-down collar and a white neckerchief, stuffed round the throat with what was called a pudding, and the ends of the neckerchief were so very long that they hung half way down his vest. Everybody loved Elder Lovejoy, for he was very good; but Patty thought him more than human. He seemed to her very far off, and sacred, like King Solomon or King David; and if he had worn a crown, she would have considered it very appropriate.
After a long prayer, during which all the people stood up, Elder Lovejoy read a long, long psalm, and the people rose again to hear it sung. They turned their backs to the pulpit, and faced the singers.
But there was a great surprise to-day. A strange sound mingled with the voices singing; it was the sound of a bass-viol. The people looked at one another in surprise, and some with frowns on their faces. Never had an instrument of music of any sort been brought into that little church before; and now it was Deacon Turner's brother, the blacksmith, who had ventured to come there with a fiddle!
Good Elder Lovejoy opened his eyes, and wiped his spectacles, and thought something must be done about it; they could not have "dance music" in that holy place. Deacon Turner and a great many others thought just so too; and at noon they talked to the wicked blacksmith, and put a stop to his fiddle.
But nothing of this was done in church time. Elder Lovejoy preached a very long sermon, in a painfully sing-song tone; but Patty thought it was exactly right; and when she heard a minister preach without the sing-song, she knew it must be wrong. She could not understand the sermon, but she stretched up her little neck towards the pulpit till it ached, thinking,—
"Well, mamma says I must sit still, and let other people listen. I won't make any disturbment."
Mrs. Lyman looked at her little daughter with an approving smile, and Deacon Turner, that dreadful tithing-man up in the gallery, thought his lecture had done that "flighty little creetur" a great deal of good—or else it was his dollar, he did not know which.
Patty sat still for a whole hour and more, counting the brass nails in the pews, and the panes of glass in the windows, and keeping her eyes away from Daddy Wiggins, who always made her want to laugh. At last the sermon was over, and the people had just time enough to go to their homes for a cold dinner before afternoon service, which began at one o'clock.
Sunday did seem like a long day to little folks; and do you wonder? They had no Sabbath school or Sabbath school books; and the only part of the day which seemed to be made for them was the evening. At that time they had to say their catechisms,—those who had not said them the night before.
Did you ever see a Westminster Catechism, with its queer little pictures? Then you can have no idea how it looks. After supper Mrs. Lyman called the children into her bedroom, shut the door, and had them repeat their lessons, beginning with the question, "Who was the first man?"
Patty supposed the Catechism was as holy as the Bible, and thought the rhyme,—
"Zaccheus he Did climb a tree, His Lord to see,"
was fine poetry, of course, and she never dreamed of laughing at the picture of dried-up little Zaccheus standing on the top of a currant-bush.
Little Solly could answer almost all the questions, and sometimes baby Benny, who sat in his mamma's lap, would try to do it too. They all enjoyed these Sunday evenings in "mother's bedroom," for Mrs. Lyman had a very pleasant way of talking with her children, and telling interesting Bible stories.
The lesson this evening was on the commandment, "Thou shalt not covet." When Patty understood what it meant, she said promptly, "Well, mamma, I don't do it."
For she was thinking,—
"What you s'pose I want of Linda Chase's bosom-pin? I wouldn't be seen wearing it!"
MRS. CHASE'S BOTTLE.
You see Patty knew as much about her own little heart as she did about Choctaw.
One Wednesday morning, early in September, Mrs. Lyman stood before the kneading trough, with both arms in dough as far as the elbows. In the farthest corner of the kitchen sat little Patty, pounding mustard-seed in a mortar.
"Mamma," said she, "Linda Chase has got a calico gown that'll stand alone."
"I've heard you tell of that before," said Mrs. Lyman, taking out a quantity of dough with both hands, putting it on a cabbage-leaf, and patting it into shape like a large ball of butter. A cabbage-leaf was as good as "a skillet," she thought, for a loaf of brown bread.
"Did you ever see a gown stand all alone, mother? Linda says hers does."
"Poh, it don't!" said Moses. "I know better."
"Then hers told a lie!" exclaimed little Solly. "George Wash'ton never told a lie."
"Linda tells the truth," said Patty; "now, mamma, why don't my gowns stand alone?"
"I want to be like George Wash'ton," put in Solly again, pounding with the rolling-pin, "and papa's got a hatchet; but we don't have no cherry trees. I can't be like George Wash'ton."
"O, what a noise! Stop it!" said Moses, tickling little Solly under the arms.
"Mamma, I wish I was as rich as Linda," said Patty, raising her voice above the din.
A look of pain came into Mrs. Lyman's eyes. It was not alone the children's racket that disturbed her. She sighed, and turned round to open the door of the brick oven. The oven had been heated long ago, and Dorcas had taken out the coals. It was just the time to put in the brown bread, and Mrs. Lyman set the cabbage-leaf loaves on the wooden bread-shovel, and pushed them in as far as they would go.
After this was done she began to mix pie-crust; but not a word had she to say about the gown that would stand alone.
"Now, Patience, you may clean the mortar nicely, and pound me some cinnamon."
Patty thought her mother could not know how her little arm ached. Linda Chase didn't have to pound things; her mother thought she was too small. Linda's father had a gold watch with a chain to it, and Linda's big brother drove two horses, and looked very fine, not at all like George and Silas. Patty would not have thought of the difference, only she had heard Betsy Gould say that Fred Chase would "turn up his nose at the twins' striped shirts."
"Mamma," said she, beginning again in that teasing tone so trying to mothers, "I have to eat bread and milk and bean porridge, and Linda don't. She has nice things all the time."
"Patience," said Mrs. Lyman, wearily, "I cannot listen to idle complaints. Solomon, put down that porringer and go ask Betsey to wash your face."
"But, mamma," said Patty, "why can't I have things like Linda Chase?"
"My little girl must try to be happy in the state in which God has placed her," said Mrs. Lyman, trimming a pie round the edges.
"But I don't live in a state," said Patty, dropping a tear into the cinnamon; "I live in the District of Maine; and I want a gown that'll stand alo-ne!"
"It's half past eight, And I can't afford to wait,"
sang Moses from the south entry.
This was a piece of poetry which always aroused Patty. Up she sprang, and put on her cape-bonnet to start for school at Mrs. Merrill's, just round the corner.
"Daughter," said Mrs. Lyman, in a low voice, as she was going out, "you have a happier home than poor Linda Chase. Don't cry for things that little girl has, because, my dear, it is wicked."
"A happier home than poor Linda Chase!"
Patty was amazed, and did not know what her mother meant; but when she got to school there was Linda in a dimity loose-gown, and Linda said,—
"My mother wants you to come and stay all night with me, if your mother's willing."
So Patty went home at noon to ask. Mrs. Lyman never liked to have Patty gone over night; but the child pleaded so hard that she gave her consent, only Patty must take her knitting-work, and musn't ask to wear her Sunday clothes.
When she went home with Linda she found Mrs. Chase sitting by the parlor window very grandly dressed. She kissed Patty, without once looking at Patty's gingham loose-gown; but her eyes were quite red, as if she had been crying.
"I like to have you come to see Linda," said she, "for Linda has no little sister, and she feels rather lonesome."
Then the children went up stairs to see the wonderful calico gown which cost "four and sixpence" a yard, and almost stood alone (that was all Linda had ever said it could do).
Mr. Chase and Fred were both away from home; and Patty was glad, for Mr. Chase was so very polite and stiff, and Fred always talked to her as if she was a baby. She did not like to go to see Linda when either of them was there.
Mrs. Chase took both the little girls in her lap, and seemed to enjoy hearing their childish prattle. Patty glanced at the gay rings on the lady's fingers, and at the pictures on the walls, and wondered why it wasn't a happy home, and what made Mrs. Chase's eyes so red. Then all at once she remembered what Siller Noonin had said: "O, yes, Mrs. Chase has everything heart can wish, except a bottle to put her tears in."
Patty did not see why a handkerchief wasn't just as good; but she could not help looking at Linda's mother with some curiosity. If she really had a strong preference for crying into a bottle, why didn't her rich husband buy her a bottle, a glass one, beautifully shaped, with gold flowers on it, and let her cry into it just as much as she pleased? He was rich, and he ought to.
When they went to bed in the beautiful chamber that had such pretty furniture, Mrs. Chase kissed them good night, but not in a happy way, like Patty's mother.
"What makes your ma look so?" said Patty; "has she got the side-ache?"
"No, I guess not," replied little Linda; "but she says she feels bad round the heart."
"My ma don't," returned Patty, thoughtfully. "I never heard her say so."
That was the last Patty knew, till ever so long afterwards, right in the middle of a dream, she heard a great noise. It was a sound of scuffling, and something being dragged up stairs. She saw the glimmer of lights, and heard somebody's voice—she thought it was Mr. Chase's—say, "Look out for his head, George."
"What is it?" whispered Patty. "O, what is it?"
Linda covered her face with the sheet, and whispered, trembling all over,—
"I guess Freddy's sick."
"No, no, no," cried Patty; "hear how loud he talks!"
"O, but he's very sick," repeated Linda.
They heard him in the next chamber, kicking against the wall, and saying dreadful words, such as Patty had never heard before—words which made her shiver all over as if she was cold.
"Is it 'cause he is sick?" said she to Linda.
Linda thought it was.
Next morning, bright and early, Patty had to run home to help Moses turn out the cows; there were nine of them, and it took two, besides the dog Towler, to get them to pasture. She told her mother what she had heard in the night, and her mother looked very sober; but Rachel spoke up quickly,—
"I'll tell you, Patty, what makes Fred Chase have such sick turns; he drinks too much brandy."
"Yes," said big brother John; "that fellow keeps a bottle in his room the whole time."
"Is it his mamma's bottle?" asked Patty; for it flashed over her all at once that perhaps that was the reason Mrs. Chase didn't have a bottle to cry into, because Fred kept it up in his room—full of brandy.
Nobody knew what she meant by asking "if it was his mamma's bottle;" so no one answered; but Mrs. Lyman said,—
"You see, Patty, it can't be very pleasant at Linda's house, even if she does have calico dresses that stand alone."
"It don't quite stand alone, mamma."
"And I hope you won't cry again, my daughter, for pretty things like hers."
"No, I won't mamma.—Is that why Linda's mother 'feels bad round her heart,' 'cause Freddy drinks out of the bottle?"
"Yes, dear, it makes Mrs. Chase very unhappy."
"Then I'm sorry, and I won't ever cry to have things like Linda any more."
"That is right, my child; that's right!—Now, darling, run and help Moses turn out the cows."
I think it was the next winter after this that Patty had that dreadful time in school. If she had known what was coming, she would not have been in such a hurry for her shoes. Mr. Piper came in the fall, after he had got his farm work done, to "shoe-make" for the Lymans, beginning with the oldest and going down to the youngest; and he was so long getting to Patty that she couldn't wait, and started for school the first day in a pair of Moses's boots.
O, dear; but such a school as it was. Timothy Purple was the worst teacher that ever came to Perseverance. He was very cruel, but he was cowardly too; for he punished the helpless little children and let the large ones go free. I have no patience with him when I think of it!
The first day of school he marched about the room, pretending to look for a nail in the wall to hang the naughtiest scholar on, whether it was a boy or a girl. Patty was so frightened that her milk-teeth chattered. You little folks who go to pleasant, orderly schools, and receive no heavier punishment than black marks in a book, can't have much idea how she suffered.
She expected every day after this to see a rope come out of Mr. Purple's pocket, and was sure if he hung anybody it would be Patty Lyman. Mr. Purple soon found she was afraid of him, and it gratified him, because he was just the sort of man to like to see little ones tremble before him.
"I tell you what," said Moses, indignantly, "he's all the time picking upon Patty."
And so he was. He often shook her shoulders, twitched her flying hair, or boxed her pretty little ears. Not that he disliked Patty, by any means. I suppose a cat does not dislike a mouse, but only torments it for the sake of seeing it quiver.
Moses was picked upon too; but he did not make much complaint, for the "other fellows" of his age were served in the same way.
As for poor little browbeaten Patty, she went home crying almost every night, and her tender mother was sometimes on the point of saying to her,—
"Dear child, you shall not go another day."
But she did not say it, for good Mrs. Lyman could not bear to make a disturbance. She knew if she should take Patty out of school, other parents would take their children out too; for nobody was at all satisfied with Mr. Purple, and a great many people said they wished the committee had force enough to turn him away.
But there was a storm in the air which nobody dreamed of.
The sun rose one morning just as usual, and Patty started for school at half past eight with the rest of the children. You would have pitied her if you had been there. The tears were dripping from her seven years old eyes like a hail shower. It was very cold, but she didn't mind that much, for she had a yellow blanket round her head and shoulders, and over those boots of Moses's were drawn a pair of big gray stockings, which turned up and flopped at the toes. And it wasn't that ridiculous goosequill in her hair which made her cry either, though I am sure it must have hurt. No; it was the thought of the master, that dreadful man with the ferule and the birch sticks.
Her mother stood at the door with a saucer pie in her hand. She knew there was nothing Patty liked better.
"Here, Patience," said she, in a tone of motherly pity, "here's a pie for you. Don't you think now you can go without crying?"
Patience brightened at that, and put the bunch of comfort into Moses's dinner pail, along with some doughnuts as big as her arm, and some brown bread and sausages.
It was a long way to the school-house, and by the time the children got there their feet were numb. There was a great roaring fire in the enormous fireplace; but it did Patty no good, for this was one of the master's "whipping days," and he strode the brick hearth like a savage warrior. Where was the little boy or girl brave enough to say, "Master, may I go to the fire?"
Poor Patty took out her Ladies' Accidence, and turned over the leaves. It was a little book, and the title sounds as if it was full of stories; but you must not think Patty would have carried a story book to school!
No; this was a Grammar. In our times little girls scarcely seven years old are not made to study such hard things, for their teachers are wise enough to know it is of no use. Patty was as good a scholar as any in school for her age. Her letters had been boxed into her ears very young by Miss Judkins, and now she could read in Webster's Third Part as fast as a squirrel can run up a tree; but as for grammar, you could put all she knew into a doll's thimble. She could not tell a noun from a verb, nor could Linda Chase or Sally Potter, if you stood right over them, all three, with three birch switches. They all knew long strings of words, though, like this:—
"A noun is the name of anything that exists, or that we have any notion of."
She liked to rattle that off—Patty did—or her little nimble tongue, her head keeping time to the words.
I wish you had heard her, and seen her too, or that I could give you any idea of Mr. Purple's school.
Stop a minute. Shut your eyes, and think you are in Perseverance.—There, do you see that man in a blue swallow-tail coat? This is the master. His head runs up to a peak, like an old-fashioned sugar loaf, and blazes like a maple tree in the fall of the year. He stands by his desk making a quill pen, and looking about him with sharp glances, that seem to cut right and left. Patty almost thinks his head is made of eyes, like the head of a fly; and she is sure he has a pair in the pockets of his swallow-tail coat.
But it is a great mistake. He does not see a twentieth part of the mischief that is going on; and what he does see he dares not take much notice of, for he is mortally afraid of the large boys.
There is a great noise in the room of shuffling feet and buzzing lips, but he pretends not to hear it.
Up very near the back seat sits Mary Lyman, or Polly, as almost everybody calls her, with a blue woolen cape over her shoulders, called a vandyke, and her hair pulled and tied, and doubled and twisted, and then a goosequill shot through it like a skewer.
Behind her, in the very back seat of all, sits Dorcas, the prettiest girl in town, with a pale, sweet face, and a wide double frill in the neck of her dress.
Patty's future husband, William Parlin, is just across the aisle. He is fourteen years old, and you may be sure has never thought yet of marrying Patty.
The twins, Silas and George, sit together, pretending to do sums on a slate; but, I am sorry to say, they are really making pictures of the master. George says "his forehead sneaks away from his face," and on the slate he is made to look like an idiot. But the color of his hair cannot be painted with a white slate pencil.
"I expect every day I shall scream out 'Fire!'" whispered Silas! "Mr. Purple's a-fire!"
In the floor stands brother Moses, with a split shingle astride his nose, after the fashion of a modern clothes-pin. So much for eating beechnuts in school, and peeling them for the little girls; but he and Ozem Wiggins nod at each other wisely behind Mr. Purple's back, as much as to say, they know what the reason is they have to be punished; it is because they are only nine years old; if they were in their teens the master wouldn't dare! Ozem has not peeled beechnuts, but he has "called names," and has to hold out a hard-wood poker at arm's length. If he should curve his elbow in the least, it would get a rap from the master's ferule.
"Class in Columbian Orator," says Mr. Purple, "take your places out in the floor."
A dozen of the large boys and girls march forth, their shoes all squeaking as if some of the goosequills had got into the soles.
You would not understand that, but they know it means, "Make your manners;" and the girls obey by quick little courtesies, and the boys by stiff little bows.
Most of them say "natur" and "creetur," though duly corrected, and Charley Noonin, Siller's nephew, says "wooled" for "would."
Next comes a class in the Art of Reading. The twins are in that.
Then Webster's Third Part, and unhappy little Patty steps out, almost crying with chilblains, and has to be shaken because she doesn't stand still.
After that some poor little souls try to spell out the story of "Thrifty and Unthrifty" in Webster's shingle-covered spelling-book.
"Class in Morse's Geography.—Little lady in that front seat, be car-ful! Come out here, Patty Lyman, and stand up by the fireplace. No crying."
It is almost a daily habit with Master Purple to call Patty into the floor while the geography class recites, and afterwards to give her a small whipping, for no other reason in the world than that she cannot stand still. William Parlin, who is a manly, large-hearted boy, pities the poor little thing, and sometimes darkly hints that he is not going to look on much longer and see her abused.
But let us hear the geography class.
The pupils stay in their seats to recite, while the master walks the floor and switches his boots. There is such a fearful uproar to-day that he has to raise his voice as if he were speaking a ship in a storm.
"What two rivers unite to form the Ohio?"
"A pint of clover seed and a bushel of Timothy," replies William Parlin, in a low voice.
"Right," returns Mr. Purple, who has not heard a word, but never contradicts William because his father is on the committee.—"Next: Soil of Kentucky?"
"Flat-boats and flat-irons," replies one of the twins, just loud enough to set the boys laughing three seats before and behind him.
"Very well, ver-y well.—Less laughing.—What is the capital? Speak up distinctly."
"Capital punishment," responds the other twin, cracking an acorn.
"Correct.—Next may answer, a little louder: Where is Frankfort?"
And that was the way the lesson went. There had been a great deal more noise than usual, and Mr. Purple was almost distracted, for he saw the large boys were "in league," and he dared not call them to account.
Meanwhile active little Patty, who thought she was standing perfectly still, studying that dreadful Ladies' Accidence, had really been spinning about on one foot; and just then she darted forward to tear a bit of shining bark from a white birch stick in the "ears" of the fireplace.
"Master," cried out a mean-spirited boy on the front bench, "Patty's pickin' gum off that ar log; I seed her."
Master Purple strode quickly across the room. He had been longing for a whole hour to give somebody a terrible whipping; and here was a good opportunity.
Of course it was the unmanly little tell-tale he was going to punish?
No, indeed; it was Patty. He seized upon the bewildered little creature with the greatest fury.
"Patty Lyman, what do you mean, young woman? Haven't I laid down a rule, and how dare you disobey? It was only yesterday I feruled Ozen Wiggins for chewing gum."
"I didn't," wailed Patty.
"What? Do you contradict me? We'll see about that! Hold out your hand, you naughty, wicked child!"
The tone was so fierce, and the clutch on her shoulder hurt her so much, that poor Patty screamed fearfully.
"Hold out your hand!" repeated the master.
Patty gave him her slender baby-palm, poor little creature! while Dorcas and Mary, up in the back seats, both drew in their breaths with a shudder.
Down came the hard-wood ferule, whizzing through the air like a thing of life. No time then to tell Mr. Purple she couldn't have picked gum off a hard-wood stick if she had tried; he wouldn't have believed her, and wouldn't have listened, no matter what she said.
One! two! three! Patty had never been struck like this before. The twins looked at each other, and almost rose from their seats. Indignation flashed from thirty pairs of eyes, but the master was too excited to see it.
Four! five! six! Patty's little figure bent like a broken reed, when there was a shuffling of boots in the aisle, and a voice shouted,
"Stop that, sir!"
It was William Parlin's voice. He had sent it on ahead of him, and was following after it as fast as he could.
"Let that child alone, Master Purple."
Master Purple was so utterly surprised and confounded that he stood stock still, with his ferule high in the air.
In another minute William was at his side.
"Do you mean to let go that little girl's hand, sir?"
Master Purple stood and glared.
"She's taken her last ruling, sir. I won't look on and see such small children abused, sir. If the committee can't make a fuss about it, I will."
You might have heard a pin drop. The whole school held its breath in surprise. Master Purple, not knowing what he did, dropped Patty's hand, and the sobbing child tried to go to her seat; but, blinded with tears, and pain and fright, she mistook the way, and staggered along to the fireplace.
"Poor little thing, don't cry!" said William, lowering his voice to the gentlest tone; and taking her in his arms he carried her up to the back seat, and set her in Dorcas's lap.
It was an action which Patty never forgot. From that moment she loved dear William Parlin with all her little heart.
"O, William, do be careful," said Dorcas; for by that time Master Purple had come to his senses, and was rushing towards William, brandishing that heavy ruler.
But William was too quick for him. Before Master Purple could reach the back seat, the boy ran across the benches between the heads of the frightened children, and seizing the monstrous tongs, tossed them like a feather, exclaiming,
"Stand off, sir!"
What could Mr. Purple do? He was angry enough to tear William in pieces; but it was not so easy to get at a boy who was armed with a pair of tongs.
"How dare you?" he cried, choking with rage; "how dare you, young man? Are the boys in this school willing to look on and see their teacher insulted?"
The boys did seem to be willing. Mr. Purple glanced about the room, hoping some one would come to his aid; but no one came. They were all against him, and full of admiration for William, though none of them would have dared to take William's place.
The little boys liked the excitement, but the little girls thought this was the end of the world, and began to cry.
"Is this the treatment I am to receive from my school?" exclaimed Master Purple, in despair.
The like had never been heard of in the town of Perseverance that a school should rise against its teacher.
"I am going straight to your father to inform him of your conduct," he stammered, his face white with wrath.
And seizing his hat, he rushed out of the house, without stopping for his cloak.
I will not try to describe the uproar which followed. I will only say that William Parlin was afterwards reproved by his father for his rash conduct, but not so severely as some people thought he should have been. Mr. Purple's red head was never seen in that school-house again. Another teacher came to take his place, who was a Christian gentleman, and treated the little children like human beings.
No one was more glad of the change than Patty Lyman. The new master came to town before her tender palm was quite healed from the cruel blows; and she was the first to see him. But the meeting happened in such a queer way, that I shall have to tell you about it.
THE LITTLE DIPPER.
"Well, mother," said Squire Lyman, one afternoon, "the new teacher has got along, and by the looks of him I don't believe he is the man to abuse our little girl. Patty, dear, open the cellar door for papa."
Mr. Lyman's arms were full of hemlock, which he had brought home from the woods. Betsy liked it for brooms, and he and his hired men always got quantities of it when they were hauling the winter's wood from the wood lot.
"Yes, I know the Starbird family very well," replied Mrs. Lyman; "that is, I used to know this young man's mother, and I presume he is quite different from Mr. Purple."
Mrs. Lyman was sitting before the kitchen fire with the great family Bible in her lap; but, instead of reading it, she was winding round it some white soft wicking.
"Why, mamma, mamma, what are you doing?" exclaimed Patty. "How can papa read to-night with the Bible all tied up?"
"I shan't hurt the good book, my dear." And as Mrs. Lyman spoke she cut the wicking in two with the shears, and as it fell apart it let out the precious volume just as good as ever. Then she took from the table some slender sticks, and put on each stick twelve pieces of wicking, giving each piece a little twist with her fingers.
"O, now I know," said Moses, who was watching too; "you're a goin' to make candles—going to dip those strings in a kettle of something hot. Yes, I know."
"Yes, and there's the kettle," said Patty.
Mrs. Lyman was very late this year about her candles. She dipped them once a year, and always in the afternoon and evening, because there was so much, so very much going on in that kitchen in the morning.
"Now, please, mamma," said Patty, "let me help."
Mrs. Lyman tipped two chairs face downward towards the floor,—"Like folks trying to creep," said Patty,—and laid two long sticks from one chair to the other, making a very good fence. Next she set the candle rods across the fence, more than a hundred of them in straight rows.
"James," called she, going to the door; and while James was coming she laid a large plank on the floor right under the candle rods.
"That's to catch the drippings," said the learned Moses; and he was right.
Squire Lyman and James came in and lifted the heavy brass kettle from the crane, and placed it on a board just in front of the brick hearth, not far from the creeping chairs; and then Mrs. Lyman sat down to dip candles.