Part 3 out of 9
could read the line she pointed to, and I told her so, but she
said to spell the words; so I thought she had to be obeyed, for
one poetry piece I know says:
"Quickly speed your steps to school
And there mind your teacher's rule."
I can see Miss Amelia to-day. Her pale face was lined deeper
than ever, her drab hair was dragged back tighter. She wore a
black calico dress with white huckleberries, and a white calico
apron figured in large black apples, each having a stem and two
leaves. In dress she was a fruitful person. She had been a
surprise to all of us. Chipper as a sparrow, she had hopped, and
chattered, and darted here and there, until the hour of opening.
Then in the stress of arranging classes and getting started, all
her birdlike ways slipped from her. Stern and bony she stood
before us, and with a cold light in her pale eyes, she began
business in a manner that made Johnny Hood forget all about his
paper wads, and Leon commenced studying like a good boy, and
never even tried to have fun with her. Every one was so
surprised you could notice it, except May, and she looked, "I
told you so!" even in the back. She had a way of doing that very
thing as I never saw any one else. From the set of her head, how
she carried her shoulders, the stiffness of her spine, and her
manner of walking, if you knew her well, you could tell what she
thought, the same as if you saw her face.
I followed that pencil point and in a husky voice repeated the
letters. I could see Tillie Baher laughing at me from behind her
geography, and every one else had stopped what they were doing to
watch and listen, so I forgot to be thankful that I even knew my
a b c's. I spelled through the sentence, pronounced the words
and repeated them without much thought as to the meaning; at that
moment it didn't occur to me that she had chosen the lesson
because father had told her how I made friends with the birds.
The night before he had been putting me through memory tests, and
I had recited poem after poem, even long ones in the Sixth
Reader, and never made one mistake when the piece was about
birds. At our house, we heard next day's lessons for all ages
gone over every night so often, that we couldn't help knowing
them by heart, if we had any brains at all, and I just loved to
get the big folk's readers and learn the bird pieces. Father had
been telling her about it, so for that reason she thought she
would start me on the birds, but I'm sure she made me spell after
a pencil point, like a baby, on purpose to shame me, because I
was two years behind the others who were near my age. As I
repeated the line Miss Amelia thought she saw her chance. She
sprang to her feet, tripped a few steps toward the centre of the
platform, and cried: "Classes, attention! Our Youngest Pupil
has just completed her first sentence. This sentence contains a
Thought. It is a wonderfully beautiful Thought. A Thought that
suggests a great moral lesson for each of us. `Birrrds--in their
Never have I heard cooing sweetness to equal the melting tones in
which Miss Amelia drawled those words. Then she continued, after
a good long pause in order to give us time to allow the "Thought"
to sink in: "There is a lesson in this for all of us. We are
here in our schoolroom, like little birds in their nest. Now how
charming it would be if all of us would follow the example of the
birds, and at our work, and in our play, agreeee--be kind,
loving, and considerate of each other. Let us all remember
always this wonderful truth: `Birrrrds--in their little nests--
In three steps I laid hold of her apron. Only last night Leon
had said it would come, yet whoever would have thought that I'd
get a chance like this, so soon.
"Ho but they don't!" I cried. "They fight like anything! Every
day they make the feathers fly!"
In a backward stroke Miss Amelia's fingers, big and bony, struck
my cheek a blow that nearly upset me. A red wave crossed her
face, and her eyes snapped. I never had been so surprised in all
my life. I was only going to tell her the truth. What she had
said was altogether false. Ever since I could remember I had
watched courting male birds fight all over the farm. After a
couple had paired, and were nest building, the father always
drove every other bird from his location. In building I had seen
him pecked for trying to place a twig. I had seen that happen
again for merely offering food to the mother, if she didn't
happen to be hungry, or for trying to make love to her when she
was brooding. If a young bird failed to get the bite it wanted,
it sometimes grabbed one of its nestmates by the bill, or the eye
even, and tried to swallow it whole. Always the oldest and
strongest climbed on top of the youngest and fooled his mammy
into feeding him most by having his head highest, his mouth
widest, and begging loudest. There could be no mistake. I was
so amazed I forgot the blow, as I stared at the fool woman.
"I don't see why you slap me!" I cried. "It's the truth! Lots
of times old birds pull out bunches of feathers fighting, and
young ones in the nests bite each other until they squeal."
Miss Amelia caught my shoulders and shook me as hard as she
could; and she proved to be stronger than you ever would have
thought to look at her.
"Take your seat!" she cried. "You are a rude, untrained child!"
"They do fight!" I insisted, as I held my head high and walked to
Leon laughed out loud, and that made everyone else. Miss Amelia
had so much to do for a few minutes that she forgot me, and I
know now why Leon started it, at least partly. He said afterward
it was the funniest sight he ever saw. My cheek smarted and
burned. I could scarcely keep from feeling to learn whether it
were swelling, but I wouldn't have shed a tear or raised my hand
for anything you could offer.
Recess was coming and I didn't know what to do. If I went to the
playground, all of them would tease me; and if I sat at my desk
Miss Amelia would have another chance at me. That was too much
to risk, so I followed the others outdoors, and oh joy! there
came Laddie down the road. He set me on one of the posts of the
hitching rack before the church, and with my arms around his
neck, I sobbed out the whole story.
"She didn't understand," said Laddie quietly. "You stay here
until I come back. I'll go explain to her about the birds.
Perhaps she hasn't watched them as closely as you have."
Recess was over before he returned. He had wet his handkerchief
at the water bucket, and now he bathed my face and eyes,
straightened my hair with his pocket comb, and began unlacing my
"What are you going to do?" I asked. "I must wear them. All the
girls do. Only the boys are barefoot."
"You are excused," answered Laddie. "Three-fourths of the day is
enough to begin on. Miss Amelia says you may come with me."
"Where are you going?"
Laddie was stripping off my stockings as he looked into my eyes,
and smiled a peculiar little smile.
"Oh Laddie!" I cried. "Will you take me? Honest!"
He laughed again and then he rubbed my feet.
"Poor abused feet," he said. "Sometimes I wish shoes had never
"They feel pretty good when there's ice."
"So they do!" said Laddie.
He swung me to the ground, and we crossed the road, climbed the
fence, and in a minute our redbird swamp shut the schoolhouse and
cross old Miss Amelia from sight. Then we turned and started
straight toward our Big Woods. I could scarcely keep on the
"How are the others getting along?" asked Laddie.
"She's cross as two sticks," I told him. "Johnny Hood hasn't
shot one paper wad, and Leon hadn't done a thing until he laughed
about the birds, and I guess he did that to make her forget me."
"Good!" cried Laddie. "I didn't suppose the boy thought that
"Oh, you never can tell by looking at him, how far Leon is
thinking," I said.
"That's so, too," said Laddie. "Are your feet comfortable now?"
"Yes, but Laddie, isn't my face marked?"
"I'm afraid it is a little," said Laddie. "We'll bathe it again
at the creek. We must get it fixed so mother won't notice."
"What will the Princess think?"
"That you fell, perhaps," said Laddie.
"Do the tears show?"
"Not at all. We washed them all away."
"Did I do wrong, Laddie?"
"Yes, I think you did."
"But it wasn't true, what she said."
"That's not the point."
We had reached the fence of the Big Woods. He lifted me to the
top rail and explained, while I combed his waving hair with my
"She didn't strike you because what you said was not so, for it
was. She knew instantly you were right, if she knows anything at
all about outdoors. This is what made her angry: it is her first
day. She wanted to make a good impression on her pupils, to
arouse their interest, and awaken their respect. When you spoke,
all of them knew you were right, and she was wrong; that made her
ridiculous. Can't you see how it made her look and feel?"
"I didn't notice how she looked, but from the way she hit me, you
could tell she felt bad enough."
"She surely did," said Laddie, kissing my cheek softly. "Poor
little woman! What a world of things you have to learn!"
"Shouldn't I have told her how mistaken she was?"
"If you had gone to her alone, at recess or noon, or to-night,
probably she would have thanked you. Then she could have
corrected herself at some convenient time and kept her dignity."
"Must I ask her pardon?"
"What you should do, is to put yourself in Miss Amelia's place
and try to understand how she felt. Then if you think you
wouldn't have liked any one to do to you what you did to her,
I hugged Laddie tight and thought fast--there was no need to
think long to see how it was.
"I got to tell her I was wrong," I said. "Now let's go to the
Enchanted Wood and see if we can find the Queen's daughter."
"All right!" said Laddie.
He leaped the fence, swung me over, and started toward the pawpaw
thicket. He didn't do much going around. He crashed through and
over; and soon he began whistling the loveliest little dancy
tune. It made your head whirl, and your toes tingle, and you
knew it was singing that way in his heart, and he was just
letting out the music. That was why it made you want to dance
and whirl; it was so alive. But that wasn't the way in an
Enchanted Wood. I pulled his hand.
"Laddie!" I cautioned, "keep in the path! You'll step on the
Fairies and crush a whole band with one foot. No wonder the
Queen makes her daughter grow big when she sends her to you. If
you make so much noise, some one will hear you, then this won't
be a secret any more."
Laddie laughed, but he stepped carefully in the path after that,
and he said: "There are times, Little Sister, when I don't care
whether this secret is secret another minute or not. Secrets
don't agree with me. I'm too big, and broad, and too much of a
man, to go creeping through the woods with a secret. I prefer to
print it on a banner and ride up the road waving it."
"Like,--`A youth who bore mid snow and ice, A banner with a
strange device,'" I said.
"That would be `a banner with a strange device,'" laughest
Laddie. "But, yes--something like!"
"Have you told the Princess?"
"I have!" Laddie fairly shouted it.
"Docs SHE like secrets?"
"No more than I do!"
"There you go!" said Laddie. "Zeus, but the woman is beginning
to measle out all over you! You know as well as any one that
there's something wrong at her house. I don't know what it is; I
can't even make a sensible guess as yet, but it's worse than the
neighbours think. It's a thing that has driven a family from
their home country, under a name that I have doubts about being
theirs, and sent them across an ocean, `strangers in a strange
land,' as it says in the Bible. It's something that keeps a
cultured gentleman and scholar raging up and down the roads and
over the country like a madman. It shuts a white-faced, lovely,
little woman from her neighbours, but I have passed her walking
the road at night with both hands pressed against her heart.
Sometimes it tries the Princess past endurance and control; and
it has her so worn and tired struggling with it that she is
willing to carry another secret, rather than try to find strength
to do anything that would make more trouble for her father and
"Would it trouble them for her to know you, Laddie?"
"So long as they don't and won't become acquainted with me, or
any one, of course it would."
"Can't you force them to know you?"
"That I can!" said Laddie. "But you see, I only met the Princess
a short time ago, and there would be no use in raising trouble,
unless she will make me her Knight!"
"But hasn't she, Laddie?"
"Not in the very littlest least," said Laddie. "For all I know,
she is merely using me to help pass a lonely hour. You see,
people reared in England have ideas of class, that two or three
generations spent here wash out. The Princess and her family are
of the unwashed British. Father's people have been here long
enough to judge a man on his own merits."
"You mean the Princess' family would think you're not good enough
to be her Knight?"
"And we know that our family thinks they are infidels, and wicked
people; and that if she would have you, mother would be sick in
bed over it. Oh Laddie!"
"What are you going to do?"
"That I must find out."
"When it will make so much trouble, why not forget her, and go on
like you did before she came? Then, all of us were happy. Now,
it makes me shiver to think what will happen."
"Me too," said Laddie. "But look here, Little Sister, right in
my face. Will you ever forget the Princess?"
"Then how can you ask me to?"
"I didn't mean forget her, exactly. I meant not come here and do
things that will make every one unhappy."
"One minute, Chick-a-Biddy," said Laddie. Sometimes he called me
that, when he loved me the very most of all. I don't believe any
one except me ever heard him do it. "Let me ask you this: does
our father love our mother?"
"Love her?" I cried. "Why he just loves her to death! He turns
so white, and he suffers so, when her pain is the worst. Love
her? And she him? Why, don't you remember the other day when he
tipped her head against him and kissed her throat as he left the
table; that he asked her if she `loved him yet,' and she said
right before all of us, `Why Paul, I love you, until I scarcely
can keep my fingers off you!' Laddie, is it like that with you
and the Princess?"
"It is with me," said Laddie. "Not with the Princess! Now, can
I forget her? Can I keep away from even the chance to pass her
on the road?"
"No," I said. "No, you can't, Laddie. But can you ever make her
"It takes time to find that out," said Laddie. "I have got to
try; so you be a woman and keep my secret a little while longer,
until I find a way out, but don't bother your head about it!"
"I can't help bothering my head, Laddie. Can't you make her
understand that God is not a myth?"
"I'm none too sure what I believe myself," said Laddie. "Not
that there is no God--I don't mean that--but I surely don't
believe all father's teachings."
"If you believe God, do other little things matter, Laddie?"
"I think not," said Laddie, "else Heaven would be all Methodists.
As for the Princess, all she has heard in her life has been
against there being a God. Now, she is learning something on the
other side. After a while she can judge for herself. It is for
us, who profess to be a Christian family, to prove to her why we
believe in God, and what He does for us."
"Well, she would think He could do a good deal, if she knew how
mother hated asking her to come to our house; and yet she did it,
beautifully too, just to give her a chance to see that very
thing. But I almost made her do it. I don't believe she ever
would alone, Laddie, or at least not for a long time yet."
"I saw that, and understood it perfectly," said Laddie. "Thank
you, Little Sister." He picked me up and hugged me tight. "If I
could only make you see!"
"But Laddie, I do! I'm not a baby! I know how people love and
make homes for themselves, like Sally and Peter are going to. If
it is with you about the Princess as it is with father and
mother, why I do know."
"All right! Here we are!" said Laddie.
He parted the willows and we stepped on the Magic Carpet, and
that minute the Magic worked. I forgot every awful, solemn,
troublous thing we had been talking about, and looked around
while Laddie knelt and hunted for a letter, and there was none.
That meant the Princess was coming, so we sat on the throne to
wait. We hadn't remembered to bathe my cheek, we had been so
busy when we passed the water, and I doubt if we were thinking
much then. We just waited. The willow walls waved gently, the
moss carpet was spotted with little gold patches of sunlight, in
the shade a few of the red flowers still bloomed, and big, lazy
bumblebees hummed around them, or a hummingbird stood on air
before them. A sort of golden throbbing filled the woods, and my
heart began to leap, why, I don't know; but I'm sure Laddie's did
too, for I looked at him and his eyes were shining as I never had
seen them before, while his cheeks were a little red, and he was
breathing like when you've been running; then suddenly his body
grew tense against mine, and that meant she was coming.
Like that first day, she came slowly through the woods, stopping
here and there to touch the trunk of a tree, put back a branch,
or bend over a flower face. Brown as the wood floor was her
dress, and cardinal flowers blazed on her breast, and the same
colour showed on her cheeks and lips. Her eyes were like
Laddie's for brightness, and she was breathing the same way. I
thought sure there was going to be something to remember a
lifetime--I was so excited I couldn't stand still. Before it
could happen Laddie went and said it was a "beautiful day," and
she said "it didn't show in the woods, but the pastures needed
rain." Then she kissed me. Well if I ever! I sank on the
throne and sat there. They went on talking like that, until it
was too dull to bear, so I slipped out and wandered away to see
what I could find. When I grew tired and went back, Laddie was
sitting on the Magic Carpet with his back against the beech, and
the Princess was on the throne reading from a little book,
reading such interesting things that I decided to listen. After
a while she came to this:
"Thou are mated with a clown,
And the grossness of his nature, will have weight to bear thee
Laddie threw back his head, and how he laughed! The Princess put
down the book and looked at him so surprised.
"Are you reading that to me because you think it appropriate?"
"I am reading it because it is conceded to be one of the most
beautiful poems ever written," said the Princess.
"You knew when you began that you would come to those lines."
"I never even thought of such a thing."
"But you knew that is how your father would regard any
relationship, friendly or deeper, with me!"
"I cannot possibly be held responsible for what my father
"It is natural that you should think alike."
"Not necessarily! You told me recently that you didn't agree
with your father on many subjects."
"Kindly answer me this," said Laddie: "Do you feel that I'm a
`clown' because I'm not schooled to the point on all questions of
good manners? Do you find me gross because I plow and sow?"
"You surprise me," said the Princess. "My consenting to know and
to spend a friendly hour with you here is sufficient answer. I
have not found the slightest fault with your manners. I have
seen no suspicion of `grossness' about you."
"Will you tell me, frankly, exactly what you do think of me?"
"Surely! I think you are a clean, decent man, who occasionally
kindly consents to put a touch of human interest into an hour,
for a very lonely girl. What has happened, Laddie? This is not
Laddie sat straight and studied the beech branches. Father said
beech trees didn't amount to much; but I first learned all about
them from that one, and what it taught me made me almost worship
them always. There were the big trunk with great rough spreading
roots, the bark in little ridges in places, smooth purple gray
between, big lichens for ornament, the low flat branches, the
waxy, wavy-edged leaves, with clear veins, and the delicious nuts
in their little brown burrs. The Princess and I both stared at
the branches and waited while a little breath of air stirred the
leaves, the sunshine flickered, and a cricket sang a sort of
lonesome song. Laddie leaned against the tree again, and he was
thinking so hard, to look at him made me begin to repeat to
myself the beech part of that beautiful churchyard poem our big
"There, at the foot of yonder nodding beech,
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
His listless length at noontide he would stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by."
Only he was studying so deeply you could almost feel what was in
his mind, and it was not about the brook at all, even if one ran
close. Soon he began talking.
"Not so bad!" he said. "You might think worse. I admit the
cleanliness, I strive for decency, I delight in being humanely
interesting, even for an hour; you might think worse, much worse!
You might consider me a `clown.' `A country clod.' Rather a
lowdown, common thing, a `clod,' don't you think? And a `clown'!
And `gross' on top of that!"
"What can you mean?" asked the Princess.
"Since you don't seem to share the estimate of me, I believe I'll
tell you," said Laddie. "The other day I was driving from the
gravel pit with a very heavy load. The road was wide and level
on either side. A man came toward me on horseback. Now the law
of the road is to give half to a vehicle similar to the one you
are driving, but to keep all of it when you are heavily loaded,
if you are passing people afoot or horseback. The man took half
the road, and kept it until the nose of his horse touched one of
the team I was driving. I stopped and said: `Good morning, sir!
Do you wish to speak with me?' He called angrily: `Get out of
my way, you clod!' `Sorry sir, but I can't,' I said. `The law
gives me this road when I am heavily loaded, and you are on foot
"What did he do?" asked the Princess.
And from the way she looked I just knew she guessed the man was
the same one I thought of.
"He raised his whip to strike my horse," said Laddie.
"Ah, surely!" said the Princess. "Always an arm raised to
strike. And you, Man? What did you do?" she cried eagerly.
"I stood on my load, suddenly," said Laddie, "and I called:
`Hold one minute!'"
"And he?" breathed the Princess.
"Something made him pause with his arm still raised. I said to
him: `You must not strike my horse. It never has been struck,
and it can't defend itself. If you want to come a few steps
farther and tackle me, come ahead! I can take it or return it,
as I choose.'"
"Go on!" said the Princess.
"That's all," said Laddie, "or at least almost all."
"Did he strike?"
"He did not. He stared at me a second, and then he rode around
me; but he was making forceful remarks as he passed about
`country clods,' and there was an interesting one about a `gross
clown.' What you read made me think of it, that is all."
The Princess stared into the beech branches for a time and then
she said: "I will ask your pardon for him. He always had a
domineering temper, and trouble he had lately has almost driven
him mad; he is scarcely responsible at times. I hesitate about
making him angry."
"I think perhaps," said Laddie, "I would have done myself credit
if I had recognized that, and given him the road, when he made a
point of claiming it."
"Indeed no!" cried the Princess. "To be beaten at the game he
started was exactly what he needed. If you had turned from his
way, he would have considered you a clod all his life. Since you
made him go around, it may possibly dawn on him that you are a
man. You did the very best thing."
Then she began to laugh, and how she did laugh.
"I would give my allowance for a quarter to have seen it," she
cried. "I must hurry home and tell mother."
"Does your mother know about me?" he demanded. "Does she know
that you come here?"
The Princess arose and stood very tall and straight.
"You may beg my pardon or cease to know me," she said. "Whatever
led you to suppose that I would know or meet you without my
Then she started toward the entrance.
"One minute!" cried Laddie.
A leap carried him to her side. He caught her hands and held
them tight, and looked straight into her eyes. Then he kissed
her hands over and over. I thought from the look on her face he
might have kissed her cheek if he had dared risk it; but he
didn't seem to notice. Then she stooped and kissed me, and
turned toward home, while Laddie and I crossed the woods to the
west road, and went back past the schoolhouse. I was so tired
Laddie tied the strings together and hung my shoes across his
shoulders and took me by the arm the last mile.
All of them were at home when we got there, and Miss Amelia came
to the gate to meet us. She was mealy-mouthed and good as pie,
not at all as I had supposed she would be. I wonder what Laddie
said to her. But then he always could manage things for every
one. That set me to wondering if by any possible means he could
fix them for himself. I climbed to the catalpa to think, and the
more I thought, the more I feared he couldn't; but still mother
always says one never can tell until they try, and I knew he
would try with every ounce of brain and muscle in him. I sat
there until the supper bell rang, and then I washed and reached
the table last. The very first thing, mother asked how I bruised
my face, and before I could think what to tell her, Leon said
just as careless like: "Oh she must have run against something
hard, playing tag at recess." Laddie began talking about Peter
coming that night, and every one forgot me, but pretty soon I
slipped a glance at Miss Amelia, and saw that her face was redder
The Wedding Gown
"The gay belles of fashion may boast of excelling
In waltz or cotillon, at whist or quadrille;
And seek admiration by vauntingly telling
Of drawing and painting, and musical skill;
But give me the fair one, in country or city,
Whose home and its duties are dear to her heart,
Who cheerfully warbles some rustical ditty,
While plying the needle with exquisite art:
The bright little needle, the swift-flying needle,
The needle directed by beauty and art."
The next morning Miss Amelia finished the chapter--that made two
for our family. Father always read one before breakfast--no
wonder I knew the Bible quite well--then we sang a song, and she
made a stiff, little prayer. I had my doubts about her prayers;
she was on no such terms with the Lord as my father. He got
right at Him and talked like a doctor, and you felt he had some
influence, and there was at least a possibility that he might get
what he asked for; but Miss Amelia prayed as if the Lord were ten
million miles away, and she would be surprised to pieces if she
got anything she wanted. When she asked the Almighty to make us
good, obedient children, there was not a word she said that
showed she trusted either the Lord or us, or thought there was
anything between us and heaven that might make us good because we
wanted to be. You couldn't keep your eyes from the big gad and
ruler on her desk; she often fingered them as she prayed, and you
knew from her stiff, little, sawed-out petition that her faith
was in implements, and she'd hit you a crack the minute she was
the least angry, same as she had me the day before. I didn't
feel any too good toward her, but when the blood of the Crusaders
was in the veins, right must be done even if it took a struggle.
I had to live up to those little gold shells on the trinket.
Father said they knew I was coming down the line, so they put on
a bird for me; but I told him I would be worthy of the shells
too. This took about as hard a fight for me as any Crusade would
for a big, trained soldier. I had been wrong, Laddie had made me
see that. So I held up my hand, and Miss Amelia saw me as she
picked up Ray's arithmetic.
"What is it?"
I held to the desk to brace myself, and tried twice before I
could raise my voice so that she heard.
"Please, Miss Amelia," I said, "I was wrong about the birds
yesterday. Not that they don't fight--they do! But I was wrong
to contradict you before every one, and on your first day, and if
you'll only excuse me, the next time you make a mistake, I'll
tell you after school or at recess."
The room was so still you could hear the others breathing. Miss
Amelia picked up the ruler and started toward me. Possibly I
raised my hands. That would be no Crusader way, but you might do
it before you had time to think, when the ruler was big and your
head was the only place that would be hit. The last glimpse I
had of her in the midst of all my trouble made me think of
Sabethany died, and they buried her at the foot of the hill in
our graveyard before I could remember. But her people thought
heaps of her, and spent much money on the biggest tombstone in
the cemetery, and planted pinies and purple phlox on her, and
went every Sunday to visit her. When they moved away, they
missed her so, they decided to come back and take her along. The
men were at work, and Leon and I went to see what was going on.
They told us, and said we had better go away, because possibly
things might happen that children would sleep better not to see.
Strange how a thing like that makes you bound you will see. We
went and sat on the fence and waited. Soon they reached
Sabethany, but they could not seem to get her out. They tried,
and tried, and at last they sent for more men. It took nine of
them to bring her to the surface. What little wood was left,
they laid back to see what made her so fearfully heavy, and there
she was turned to solid stone. They couldn't chip a piece off
her with the shovel. Mother always said, "For goodness sake,
don't let your mouth hang open," and as a rule we kept ours shut;
but you should have seen Leon's when he saw Sabethany wouldn't
chip off, and no doubt mine was as bad.
"When Gabriel blows his trumpet, and the dead arise and come
forth, what on earth will they do with Sabethany?" I gasped.
"Why, she couldn't fly to Heaven with wings a mile wide, and what
use could they make of her if she got there?"
"I can't see a thing she'd be good for except a hitching post,"
said Leon, "and I guess they don't let horses in. Let's go
He acted sick and I felt that way; so we went, but the last
glimpse of Sabethany remained with me.
As my head went down that day, I saw that Miss Amelia looked
exactly like her. You would have needed a pick-ax or a crowbar
to flake off even a tiny speck of her. When I had waited for my
head to be cracked, until I had time to remember that a Crusader
didn't dodge and hide, I looked up, and there she stood with the
ruler lifted; but now she had turned just the shade of the
wattles on our fightingest turkey gobbler.
"Won't you please forgive me?"
I never knew I had said it until I heard it, and then the only
way to be sure was because no one else would have been likely to
speak at that time.
Miss Amelia's arm dropped and she glared at me. I wondered
whether I ever would understand grown people; I doubted if they
understood themselves, for after turning to stone in a second--
father said it had taken Sabethany seven years--and changing to
gobbler red, Miss Amelia suddenly began to laugh. To laugh, of
all things! And then, of course, every one else just yelled. I
was so mortified I dropped my head again and began to cry as I
never would if she'd hit me.
"Don't feel badly!" said Miss Amelia. "Certainly, I'll forgive
you. I see you had no intention of giving offense, so none is
taken. Get out your book and study hard on another lesson."
That was surprising. I supposed I'd have to do the same one
over, but I might take a new one. I was either getting along
fast, or Miss Amelia had her fill of birds. I wiped my eyes as
straight in front of me as I could slip up my handkerchief, and
began studying the first lesson in my reader: "Pretty bee, pray
tell me why, thus from flower to flower you fly, culling sweets
the livelong day, never leaving off to play?" That was a poetry
piece, and it was quite cheery, although it was all strung
together like prose, but you couldn't fool me on poetry; I knew
it every time. As I studied I felt better, and when Miss Amelia
came to hear me she was good as gold. She asked if I liked
honey, and I started to tell her about the queen bee, but she had
no time to listen, so she said I should wait until after school.
Then we both forgot it, for when we reached home, the Princess'
horse was hitched to our rack, and I fairly ran in, I was so
anxious to know what was happening.
I was just perfectly amazed at grown people! After all the
things our folks had said! You'd have supposed that Laddie would
have been locked in the barn; father reading the thirty second
Psalm to the Princess, and mother on her knees asking God to open
her eyes like Saul's when he tried to kick against the pricks,
and make her to see, as he did, that God was not a myth, Well,
there was no one in the sitting-room or the parlour, but there
were voices farther on; so I slipped in. I really had to slip,
for there was no other place they could be except the parlour
bedroom, and Sally's wedding things were locked up there, and we
were not to see until everything was finished, like I told you.
Well, this was what I saw: our bedroom had been a porch once, and
when we had been crowded on account of all of us coming, father
enclosed it and made a room. But he never had taken out the
window in the wall. So all I had to do when I wanted to know how
fast the dresses were being made, was to shove up the window
above my bed, push back the blind, and look in. I didn't care
what she had. I just wanted to get ahead of her and see before
she was ready, to pay her for beating me. I knew what she had,
and I meant to tell her, and walk away with my nose in the air
when she offered to show me; but this was different. I was wild
to see what was going on because the Princess was there. The
room was small, and the big cherry four-poster was very large,
and all of them were talking, so no one paid the slightest
attention to me.
Mother sat in the big rocking chair, with Sally on one of its
arms, leaning against her shoulder. Shelley and May and the
sewing woman were crowded between the wall and the footboard, and
the others lined against the wall. The bed was heaped in a
tumble of everything a woman ever wore. Seemed to me there was
more stuff there than all the rest of us had, put together. The
working dresses and aprons had been made on the machine, but
there were heaps and stacks of hand-made underclothes. I could
see the lovely chemise mother embroidered lying on top of a pile
of bedding, and over and over Sally had said that every stitch in
the wedding gown must be taken by hand. The Princess stood
beside the bed. A funny little tight hat like a man's and a
riding whip lay on a chair close by. I couldn't see what she
wore--her usual riding clothes probably--for she had a nip in
each shoulder of a dress she was holding to her chin and looking
down at. After all, I hadn't seen everything! Never before or
since have I seen a lovelier dress than that. It was what always
had been wrapped in the sheet on the foot of the bed and I hadn't
got a peep at it. The pale green silk with tiny pink moss roses
in it, that I had been thinking was the wedding dress, looked
about right to wash the dishes in, compared with this.
This was a wedding dress. You didn't need any one to tell you.
The Princess had as much red as I ever had seen in her cheeks,
her eyes were bright, and she was half-laughing and half-crying.
"Oh you lucky, lucky girl!" she was saying. "What a perfectly
beautiful bride you will be! Never have I seen a more wonderful
dress! Where did you get the material?"
Now we had been trained always to wait for mother to answer a
visitor as she thought suitable, or at least to speak one at a
time and not interrupt; but about six of those grown people told
the Princess all at the same time how our oldest sister Elizabeth
was married to a merchant who had a store at Westchester and how
he got the dress in New York, and gave it to Sally for her
wedding present, or she never could have had it.
The Princess lifted it and set it down softly. "Oh look!" she
cried. "Look! It will stand alone!"
There it stood! Silk stiff enough to stand by itself, made into
a little round waist, cut with a round neck and sleeves elbow
length and flowing almost to where Sally's knees would come. It
was a pale pearl-gray silk crossed in bars four inches square,
made up of a dim yellow line almost as wide as a wheat straw,
with a thread of black on each side of it, and all over, very
wide apart, were little faint splashes of black as if they had
been lightly painted on. The skirt was so wide it almost filled
the room. Every inch of that dress was lined with soft, white
silk. There was exquisite lace made into a flat collar around
the neck, and ruffled from sight up the inside of the wide
sleeves. That was the beginning. The finish was something you
never saw anything like before. It was a trimming made of white
and yellow beads. There was a little heading of white beads
sewed into a pattern, then a lacy fringe that was pale yellow
beads, white inside, each an inch long, that dangled, and every
bead ended with three tiny white ones. That went around the
neck, the outside of the sleeves, and in a pattern like a big
letter V all the way around the skirt. And there it stood--
The Princess, graceful as a bird and glowing like fire, danced
around it, and touched it, and lifted the sleeves, and made the
bead fringe swing, and laughed, and talked every second. Sally,
and mother, and all of them had smiled such wide smiles for so
long, their faces looked almost as set as Sabethany's, but of
course far different. Being dead was one thing, getting ready
for a wedding another.
And it looked too as if God might be a myth, for all they cared,
so long as the Princess could make the wedding dress stand alone,
and talk a blue streak of things that pleased them. It was not
put on either, for there stood the dress, shimmering like the
inside of a pearl-lined shell, white as a lily, and the tinkly
gold fringe. No one COULD have said enough about it, so no
matter what the Princess said, it had to be all right. She kept
straight on showing all of them how lovely it was, exactly as if
they hadn't seen it before, and she had to make them understand
about it, as if she felt afraid they might have missed some
elegant touch she had seen.
"Do look how the lace falls when I raise this sleeve! Oh how
will you wear this and think of a man enough to say the right
words in the right place?"
Mother laughed, and so did all of them.
"Do please show me the rest," begged the Princess. "I know there
are slippers and a bonnet!"
Sally just oozed pride. She untied the strings and pushed the
prettiest striped bag from a lovely pink bandbox and took out a
dear little gray bonnet with white ribbons, and the yellow bead
fringe, and a bunch of white roses with a few green leaves.
These she touched softly, "I'm not quite sure about the leaves,"
The Princess had the bonnet, turning and tilting it.
"Perfect!" she cried. "Quite perfect! You need that touch of
colour, and it blends with everything. How I envy you! Oh why
doesn't some one ask me, so I can have things like these? I
think your brother is a genius. I'm going to ride to Westchester
tomorrow and give him an order to fill for me the next time he
goes to the city. No one shows me such fabrics when I go, and
Aunt Beatrice sends nothing from London I like nearly so well.
She was on her knees now, lifting the skirt to set under little
white satin slippers with gold buckles, and white bead buttons.
When she had them arranged to suit her, she sat on the floor and
kept straight on saying the things my mother and sisters seemed
crazy to hear. When Sally showed her the long white silk mitts
that went with the bonnet, the Princess cried: "Oh do ride home
with me and let me give you a handkerchief Aunt Beatrice sent me,
to carry in your hand!"
Then her face flushed and she added without giving Sally time to
say what she would do: "Or I can bring it the next time I come
past. It belongs with these things and I have no use for it.
"Please do! I'll use it for the thing I borrow."
"But I mean it to be a gift," said the Princess. "It was made to
go with these lace mitts and satin slippers. You must take it!"
"Thank you very much," said Sally. "If you really want me to
have it, of course I'd love to."
"I'll bring it to-morrow," promised the Princess. "And I wish
you'd let me try a way I know to dress hair for a wedding. Yours
is so beautiful."
"You're kind, I'm sure," said Sally. "I had intended to wear it
as I always do, so I would appear perfectly natural to the folks;
but if you know a more becoming way, I could begin it now, and
they would be familiar with it by that time."
"I shan't touch it," said the Princess, studying Sally's face.
"Your idea is right. You don't want to commence any new,
unfamiliar style that would make you seem different, just at a
time when every one should see how lovely you are, as you always
have been. But don't forget to wear something blue, and
something borrowed for luck, and oh do please put on one of my
"Well for mercy sake!" cried my mother. "Why?"
"So some one will propose to me before the year is out," laughed
the Princess. "I think it must be the most fun of all, to make
beautiful things for your very own home, and lovely dresses, and
be surrounded by friends all eager to help you, and to arrange a
house and live with a man you love well enough to marry, and fix
for little people who might come----"
"You know perfectly there isn't a single man in the county who
wouldn't propose to you, if you'd let him come within a mile of
you," said Shelley.
"When the right man comes I'll go half the mile to meet him? you
may be sure of that; won't I, Mrs. Stanton?" the Princess turned
"I have known girls who went even farther," said my mother rather
"I draw the line at half," laughed the Princess. "Now I must go;
I have been so long my people will be wondering what I'm doing."
Standing in the middle of the room she put on her hat, picked up
her whip and gloves, and led the way to the hitching rack, while
all of us followed. At the gate stood Laddie as he had come from
the field. His old hat was on the back of his head, his face
flushed, his collar loosened so that his strong white neck
showed, and his sleeves were rolled to the elbow, as they had
been all summer, and his arms were burned almost to blisters.
When he heard us coming he opened the gate, went to the rack,
untied the Princess' horse and led it beside the mounting block.
As she came toward him, he took off his hat and pitched it over
the fence on the grass.
"Miss Pryor, allow me to make you acquainted with my son," said
I felt as if I would blow up. I couldn't keep my eyes from
turning toward the Princess. Gee! I could have saved my
feelings. She made mother the prettiest little courtsey I ever
set eyes on, and then turned and made a deeper one to Laddie.
"I met your son in one of the village stores some time ago," she
said. "Back her one step farther, please!"
Laddie backed the horse, and quicker than you could see how it
was done, she flashed up the steps and sat the saddle; but as she
leaned over the horse's neck to take the rein from Laddie, he got
one level look straight in the eyes that I was sure none of the
others saw, because they were not watching for it, and I was.
Laddie bowed from the waist, and put the reins in her fingers all
in one movement. He caught the glance she gave him too; I could
almost feel it like a band passing between them. Then she called
a laughing good-bye to all of us at once, and showed us how to
ride right, as she flashed toward the Little Hill. That was
riding, you may believe, and mother sighed as she watched her.
"If I were a girl again," she said, "I would ride as well as
that, or I'd never mount a horse."
"She's been trained from her cradle, and her father deals in
horses. Half the battle in riding is a thoroughbred," said
Laddie. "No such horse as that ever stepped these roads before."
"And no such girl ever travelled them," said my mother, folding
her hands one over the other on top of a post of the hitching
rack. "I must say I don't know how this is coming out, and it
"Why, what's up?" asked Laddie, covering her hands with his and
looking her in the eyes.
"Just this," said my mother. "She's more beautiful of face and
form than God ought to allow any woman to be, in mercy to the men
who will be forced to meet her. Her speech is highly cultured.
Her manners are perfect, and that is a big and unusual thing in a
girl of her age. Every word she said, every move she made to-
day, was exactly as I would have been proud to hear, and to see a
daughter of mine speak and move. If I had only myself to
consider, I would make her my friend, because I'm seasoned in the
ways of the world, and she could influence me only as I chose to
allow her. With you youngsters it is different. You'll find her
captivating, and you may let her ways sway you without even
knowing it. All these outward things are not essential; they are
pleasing, I grant, but they have nothing to do with the one big,
elemental fact that a Godless life is not even half a life. I
never yet have known any man or woman who attempted it who did
not waste life's grandest opportunities, and then come crawling
and defeated to the foot of the cross in the end, asking God's
mercy where none was deserved or earned. It seems to me a craven
way. I know all about the forgiveness on the cross! I know God
is big enough and merciful enough to accept even death-bed
repentance, but what is that to compare with laying out your
course and running it a lifetime without swerving? I detest and
distrust this infidel business. I want no child of mine under
its influence, or in contact with it."
"But when your time comes, if you said just those things to hers
and won her, what a triumph, little mother!"
"`If!'" answered mother. "That's always the trouble! One can't
be sure! `If' I knew I could accomplish that, I would get on my
knees and wrestle with the Lord for the salvation of the soul of
a girl like that, not to mention her poor, housebound mother, and
that man with the unhappiest face I ever have seen, her father.
It's worth trying, but suppose I try and fail, and at the same
time find that in bringing her among us she has influenced some
of mine to the loss of their immortal souls then, what will I
"Mother," said Laddie; "mother, have you such a poor opinion of
the things you and father have taught us, and the lives you've
lived before us, that you're really afraid of a slip of a girl,
almost a stranger?"
"The most attractive girl I ever have seen, and mighty willing to
be no longer a stranger, Lad."
"Well, I can't promise for the others," said Laddie, "but for
myself I will give you my word of honour that I won't be
influenced the breadth of one hair by her, in a doctrinal way."
"Humph!" said my mother. "And it is for you I fear. If a young
man is given the slightest encouragement by a girl like that,
even his God can't always hold him; and you never have made a
confession of faith, Laddie. It is you she will be most likely
"If you think I have any chance, I'll go straight over and ask
her father for her this very evening," said Laddie, and even
mother laughed; then all of us started to the house, for it was
almost supper time. I got ready and thought I'd take one more
peep at the dress before Sally pinned it in the sheet again, and
when I went back, there all huddled in a bunch before it stood
Miss Amelia, the tears running down her cheeks.
"Did Sally say you might come here?" I asked.
"No," said Miss Amelia, "but I've been so crazy to see I just
slipped in to take a peep when I noticed the open door. I'll go
this minute. Please don't tell her."
I didn't say what I would do, but I didn't intend to.
"What are you crying about?" I inquired.
"Ah, I too have known love," sobbed Miss Amelia. "Once I made a
wedding dress, and expected to be a happy bride."
"Well, wasn't you?" I asked, and knew at once it was a silly
question, for of course she would not be a miss, if she had not
"He died!" sobbed Miss Amelia.
If he could have seen her then, I believe he'd have been glad of
it; but maybe he looked as bony and dejected as she did before he
went; and he may have turned to stone afterward, as sometimes
happens. Right then I heard Sally coming, so I grabbed Miss
Amelia and dragged her under the fourposter, where I always hid
when caught doing something I shouldn't. But Sally had so much
stuff she couldn't keep all of it on the bed, and when she
stooped and lifted the ruffle to shove a box under, she pushed it
right against us, and knelt to look, and there we were.
"Well upon my soul!" she cried, and sat flat on the floor,
holding the ruffle, peering in. "Miss Amelia! And in tears!
Whatever is the trouble?"
Miss Amelia's face was redder than any crying ever made it, and I
saw she wanted to kill me for getting her into such a fix, and if
she became too angry probably she'd take it out on me in school
the next day, so I thought I'd better keep her at work shedding
"`HE DIED!'" I told Sally as pathetically as ever I could.
Sally dropped the ruffle instantly, but I saw her knees shake
against the floor. After a while she lifted the curtain and
offered Miss Amelia her hand.
"I was leaving my dress to show you before putting it away," she
I didn't believe it; but that was what she said. Maybe it was an
impulse. Mother always said Sally was a creature of impulse.
When she took off her flannel petticoat and gave it to poor
little half-frozen Annie Hasty, that was a good impulse, but it
sent Sally to bed for a week. And when she threw a shovel of
coals on Bill Ramsdell's dog, because Bill was a shiftless lout,
and the dog was so starved it all the time came over and sucked
our eggs, that was a bad impulse, because it didn't do Bill a
particle of good, and it hurt the dog, which would have been glad
to suck eggs at home, no doubt, if Bill hadn't been too worthless
to keep hens.
That was a good impulse she had then, for she asked Miss Amelia
to help her straighten the room, and of course that meant to fold
and put away wedding things. Any woman would have been wild to
do that. Then she told Miss Amelia that she was going to ask
father to dismiss school for half a day, and allow her to see the
wedding, and she asked her if she would help serve the breakfast.
Miss Amelia wiped her eyes, and soon laughed and was just
beaming. I would have been willing to bet my three cents for
lead pencils the next time the huckster came, that Sally never
thought of wanting her until that minute; and then she arranged
for her to wait on table to keep her from trying to eat with the
wedding party, because Miss Amelia had no pretty clothes for one
thing, and for another, you shouldn't act as if you were hungry
out in company, and she ate every meal as if she were breaking a
forty days' fast. I wondered what her folks cooked at home.
After supper Peter came, and the instant I saw him I thought of
something, and it was such a teasing thought I followed around
and watched him harder every minute . At last he noticed me, and
put his arms around me.
"Well, what is it, Little Sister?" he asked.
I did wish he would quit that. No one really had a right to call
me that, except Laddie. Maybe I had to put up with Peter doing
it when I was his sister by law, but before, the old name the
preacher baptized on me was good enough for Peter. I was
thinking about that so hard, I didn't answer, and he asked again.
"I have seen Sally's wedding dress," I told him.
"But that's no reason why you should stare at me."
"That's just exactly the reason," I answered. "I was trying to
see what in the world there is about you to be worth a dress like
Peter laughed and laughed. At last he said that he was not
really worth even a calico dress; and he was so little worthy of
Sally that he would button her shoes, if she would let him. He
got that mixed. The buttons were on her slippers: her shoes
laced. But it showed a humble spirit in Peter. Not that I care
for humble spirits. I am sure the Crusaders didn't have them. I
don't believe Laddie would lace even the Princess' shoes, at
least not to make a steady business of it. But maybe Peter and
Sally had an agreement to help each other. She was always fixing
his tie, and straightening his hair. Maybe that was an impulse,
though, and mother said Sally would get over being so impulsive
when she cut her eye teeth.
When Sally Married Peter
"Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble there's no place like home!
A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there,
Which, seek through the world, is ne'er met with elsewhere."
When they began arranging the house for the wedding, it could be
seen that they had been expecting it, and getting ready for a
long time. From all the closets, shelves and chests poured heaps
of new things. First, the walls were cleaned and some of them
freshly papered, then the windows were all washed long before
regular housecleaning time, the floors were scrubbed and new
carpet put down. Mother had some window blinds that Winfield had
brought her from New York in the spring, and she had laid them
away; no one knew why, then. We all knew now. When mother was
ready to put them up, father had a busy day and couldn't help
her, and she was really provoked. She almost cried about it,
when Leon rode in bringing the mail, and said Hannah Dover had
some exactly like ours at her windows, that her son had sent from
Illinois. Father felt badly enough then, for he always did
everything he could to help mother to be first with everything;
but so she wouldn't blame him, he said crosslike that if she had
let him put them up when they came, as he wanted to, she'd have
been six months ahead.
When they finally got ready to hang the blinds no one knew how
they went. They were a beautiful shiny green, plain on one side,
and on the other there was a silver border across the bottom and
one pink rose as big as a pie plate. Mother had neglected to ask
Winfield on which side the rose belonged. Father said from the
way the roll ran, it went inside. Mother said they were rolled
that way to protect the roses, and that didn't prove anything.
Laddie said he would jump on a horse and ride round the section,
and see how Hannah Dover had hers, and exactly opposite would be
right. Everyone laughed, but no one thought he meant it. Mother
had father hold one against the window, and she stepped outside
to see if she could tell from there. When she came in she said
the flower looked mighty pretty, and she guessed that was the
way, so father started hanging them. He had only two up when
Laddie came racing down the Big Hill bareback, calling for him to
"I tell you that's not right, mother!" he said as he hurried in.
"But I went outside and father held one, and it looked real
pretty," said mother.
"One! Yes!" said Laddie. "But have you stopped to consider how
two rows across the house are going to look? Nine big pink
roses, with the sun shining on them! Anything funnier than
Dovers' front I never saw. And look here!"
Laddie picked up a blind. "See this plain back? It's double
coated like a glaze. That is so the sun shining through glass
won't fade it. The flowers would be gone in a week. They belong
inside, mother, sure as you live."
"Then when the blinds are rolled to the middle sash in the
daytime no one can see them," wailed mother, who was wild about
"But at night, when they are down, you can put the curtains back
enough to let the roses show, and think how pretty they will look
"Laddie is right!" said father, climbing on the barrel to take
down the ones he had fixed.
"What do you think, girls?" asked mother.
"I think the Princess is coming down the Little Hill," said
Shelley. "Hurry, father! Take them down before she sees! I'm
sure they're wrong."
Father got one all right, but tore the corner of the other.
Mother scolded him dreadfully cross, and he was so flustered he
forgot about being on the barrel, so he stepped back the same as
on the floor, and fell crashing. He might have broken some of
his bones, if Laddie hadn't seen and caught him.
"If you are SURE the flowers go inside, fix one before she
comes!" cried mother.
Father stepped too close the edge of the chair, and by that time
he didn't know how to hang anything, so Laddie climbed up and had
one nailed before the Princess stopped. She came to bring Sally
the handkerchief, and it was the loveliest one any of us ever had
seen. There was a little patch in the middle about four inches
square, and around it a wide ruffle of dainty lace. It was made
to carry in a hand covered with white lace mitts, when you were
wearing a wedding gown of silver silk, lined with white. Of
course it wouldn't have been the slightest use for a funeral or
with a cold in your head. And it had come from across the sea!
From the minute she took it by a pinch in the middle, Sally
carried her head so much higher than she ever had before, that
you could notice the difference.
Laddie went straight on nailing up the blinds, and every one he
fixed he let down full length so the Princess could see the roses
were inside; he was so sure he was right. After she had talked a
few minutes she noticed the blinds going up. Laddie, in a front
window, waved to her from the barrel. She laughed and answered
with her whip, and then she laughed again.
"Do you know," she said, "there is the funniest thing at Dovers'.
I rode past on the way to Groveville this morning and they have
some blinds like those you are putting up."
"Indeed?" inquired my mother. "Winfield sent us these from New
York in the spring, but I thought the hot summer sun would fade
them, so I saved them until the fall cleaning. The wedding
coming on makes us a little early but----"
"Well, they may not be exactly the same," said the Princess. "I
only saw from the highway." She meant road; there were many
things she said differently. "Have yours big pink roses and
silver scrolls inside?"
"Yes," said mother.
The Princess bubbled until it made you think one of those yellow
oriole birds had perched on her saddle. "That poor woman has
gone and put hers up wrong side out. The effect of all those big
pink roses on her white house front is most amusing. It looks as
if the house were covered with a particularly gaudy piece of
comfort calico. Only fancy!"
She laughed again and rode away. Mother came in just gasping.
"Well, for all His mercies, large and small, the Lord be
praised!" she cried piously, as she dropped into the big rocking
chair. "THAT is what I consider escaping by the skin of your
Then father and Laddie laughed, and said they thought so too.
When the blinds were up, the outside looked well, and you should
have seen the inside! The woodwork was enamelled white, and the
wall paper was striped in white and silver. Every so far on the
silver there was a little pink moss rose having green leaves.
The carpet was plum red and green in wide stripes, and the lace
curtains were freshly washed, snowy, and touched the floor. The
big rocker, the straight-backed chairs, and the sofa were
beautiful red mahogany wood, and the seats shining haircloth. If
no one happened to be looking, you could sit on a sofa arm, stick
your feet out and shoot off like riding down a haystack; the
landing was much better. On the sofa you bounced two feet high
the first time; one, the second; and a little way the third. On
the haystack, maybe you hit a soft spot, and maybe you struck a
rock. Sometimes if you got smart, and tried a new place, and
your feet caught in a tangle of weeds and stuck, you came up
straight, pitched over, and landed on your head. THEN if you
struck a rock, you were still, quite a while. I was once. But
you never dared let mother see you--on the sofa, I mean; she
didn't care about the haystack.
There were pictures in oval black frames having fancy edges, and
a whatnot where all our Christmas and birthday gifts, almost too
dainty to handle, were kept. You fairly held your breath when
you looked at the nest of spun green glass, with the white dove
in it, that George Washington Mitchell gave to Shelley. Of
course a dove's nest was never deep, and round, and green, and
the bird didn't have red eyes and a black bill. I thought
whoever could blow glass as beautifully as that, might just as
easy have made it right while he was at it; but anyway, it was
pretty. There were pitchers, mugs, and vases, almost too
delicate to touch, and the cloth-covered box with braids of hair
coiled in wreaths from the heads of the little fever and whooping
Laddie asked Sally if she and Peter were going to have the
ceremony performed while they sat on the sofa. Seemed the right
place. They had done all their courting there, even on hot
summer days; but I supposed that was because Sally didn't want to
be seen fixing Peter's tie until she was ready. She made no
bones about it then. She fixed it whenever she pleased; likewise
he held her hand. Shelley said that was disgusting, and you
wouldn't catch her. Leon said he bet a dollar he would; and I
said if he knew he'd get beaten as I did, I bet two dollars he
wouldn't tell what he saw. The mantel was white, with vases of
the lovely grasses that grew beside the stream at the foot of the
Big Hill. Mother gathered the fanciest every fall, dried them,
and dipped them in melted alum coloured with copperas, aniline,
and indigo. Then she took bunches of the colours that went
together best and made bouquets for the big vases. They were
pretty in the daytime, but at night you could watch them sparkle
and shimmer forever.
I always thought the sitting-room was nicer than the parlour.
The woodwork was white enamel there too, but the bureau and
chairs were just cherry and not too precious to use. They were
every bit as pretty. The mantel was much larger. I could stand
up in the fireplace, and it took two men to put on an everyday
log, four the Christmas one. On each side were the book shelves
above, and the linen closets below. The mantel set between
these, and mother always used the biggest, most gorgeous bouquets
there, because she had so much room. The hearth was a slab of
stone that came far into the room. We could sit on it and crack
nuts, roast apples, chestnuts, and warm our cider, then sweep all
the muss we made into the fire. The wall paper was white and
pale pink in stripes, and on the pink were little handled baskets
filled with tiny flowers of different colours. We sewed the rags
for the carpet ourselves, and it was the prettiest thing. One
stripe was wide, all gray, brown, and dull colours, and the other
was pink. There were green blinds and lace curtains here also,
and nice braided rugs that all of us worked on of winter
evenings. Everything got spicker and spanner each day.
Mother said there was no use in putting down a carpet in a
dining-room where you constantly fed a host, and the boys didn't
clean their feet as carefully as they should in winter; but there
were useful rags where they belonged, and in our bedroom opening
from it also. The dining-room wall paper had a broad stripe of
rich cream with pink cabbage roses scattered over it and a narrow
pink stripe, while the woodwork was something perfectly
marvellous. I didn't know what kind of wood it was, but a man
who could turn his hand to anything, painted it. First, he put
on a pale yellow coat and let it dry. Then he added wood brown,
and while it was wet, with a coarse toothed comb, a rag, and his
fingers, he imitated the grain, the even wood, and knotholes of
dressed lumber, until many a time I found myself staring steadily
at a knot to see if a worm wouldn't really come working out. You
have to see a thing like that to understand how wonderful it is.
You couldn't see why they washed the bedding, and took the
feathers from the pillows and steamed them in mosquito netting
bags and dried them in the shade, when Sally's was to be a
morning wedding, but they did. I even had to take a bucket and
gather from around the walls all the little heaps of rocks and
shells that Uncle Abraham had sent mother from California, take
them out and wash and wipe them, and stack them back, with the
fanciest ones on top. He sent her a ring made of gold he dug
himself. She always kept the ring in a bottle in her bureau, and
she meant to wear it at the wedding, with her new silk dress. I
had a new dress too. I don't know how they got everything done.
All of them worked, until the last few days they were perfect
When they couldn't find another thing indoors to scour, they
began on the yard, orchard, barn and road. Mother even had Leon
stack the wood pile straighter. She said when corded wood leaned
at an angle, it made people seem shiftless; and she never passed
a place where it looked that way that her fingers didn't just
itch to get at it. He had to pull every ragweed on each side of
the road as far as our land reached, and lay every rail straight
in the fences. Father had to take spikes and our biggest maul
and go to the bridges at the foot of the Big and the Little Hill,
and see that every plank was fast, so none of them would rattle
when important guests drove across. She said she just simply
wouldn't have them in such a condition that Judge Pettis couldn't
hear himself think when he crossed; for you could tell from his
looks that it was very important that none of the things he
thought should be lost. There wasn't a single spot about the
place inside or out that wasn't gone over; and to lots of it you
never would have known anything had been done if you hadn't seen,
because the place was always in proper shape anyway; but father
said mother acted just like that, even when her sons were married
at other people's houses; and if she kept on getting worse, every
girl she married off, by the time she reached me, we'd all be
scoured threadbare and she'd be on the verge of the grave. May
and I weeded the flowerbeds, picked all the ripe seed, and pulled
up and burned all the stalks that were done blooming. Father and
Laddie went over the garden carefully; they scraped the walks and
even shook the palings to see if one were going to come loose
right at the last minute, when every one would be so flustrated
there would be no time to fix it.
Then they began to talk about arrangements for the ceremony,
whether we should have our regular minister, or Presiding Elder
Lemon, and what people they were going to invite. Just when we
had planned to ask every one, have the wedding in the church, and
the breakfast at the house, and all drive in a joyous procession
to Groveville to give them a good send-off in walked Sally. She
had been visiting Peter's people, and we planned a lot while she
"What's going on here?" she asked, standing in the doorway,
dangling her bonnet by the ties.
She never looked prettier. Her hair had blown out in little
curls around her face from riding, her cheeks were so pink, and
her eyes so bright.
"We were talking about having the ceremony in the church, so
every one can be comfortably seated, and see and hear well,"
Sally straightened up and began jerking the roses on her bonnet
far too roughly for artificial flowers. Perhaps I surprised you
with that artificial word, but I can spell and define it; it's
easy divided into syllables. Goodness knows, I have seen enough
flowers made from the hair of the dead, wax, and paper, where you
get the shape, but the colour never is right. These of Sally's
were much too bright, but they were better than the ones made at
our house. Hers were of cloth and bought at a store. You
couldn't tell why, but Sally jerked her roses; I wished she
wouldn't, because I very well knew they would be used to trim my
hat the next summer, and she said: "Well, people don't have to
be comfortable during a wedding ceremony; they can stand up if I
can, and as for seeing and hearing, I'm asking a good many that I
don't intend to have see or hear either one!"
"My soul!" cried mother, and she dropped her hands and her mouth
fell open, like she always told us we never should let ours,
while she stared at Sally.
"I don't care!" said Sally, straightening taller yet; her eyes
began to shine and her lips to quiver, as if she would cry in a
minute; "I don't care----!"
"Which means, my child, that you DO care, very much," said
father. "Suppose you cease such reckless talk, and explain to us
exactly what it is that you do want."
Sally gave her bonnet an awful jerk. Those roses would look like
sin before my turn to wear them came, and she said: "Well then,
I do care! I care with all my might! The church is all right,
of course; but I want to be married in my very own home! Every
one can think whatever they please about their home, and so can
I, and what I think is, that this is the nicest and the prettiest
place in all the world, and I belong here----"
Father lifted his head, his face began to shine, and his eyes to
grow teary; while mother started toward Sally. She put out her
hand and held mother from her at arm's length, and she turned and
looked behind her through the sitting-room and parlour, and then
at us, and she talked so fast you never could have understood
what she said if you hadn't known all of it anyway, and thought
exactly the same thing yourself.
"I have just loved this house ever since it was built," she said,
"and I've had as good times here as any girl ever had. If any
one thinks I'm so very anxious to leave it, and you, and mother,
and all the others, why it's a big mistake. Seems as if a girl
is expected to marry and go to a home of her own; it's drummed
into her and things fixed for her from the day of her birth; and
of course I do like Peter, but no home in the world, not even the
one he provides for me, will ever be any dearer to me than my own
home; and as I've always lived in it, I want to be married in it,
and I want to stay here until the very last second----"
"You shall, my child, you shall!" sobbed mother.
"And as for having a crowd of men that father is planning to ask,
staring at me, because he changes harvest help and wood chopping
with them, or being criticised and clawed over by some women
simply because they'll be angry if they don't get the chance, I
just won't--so there! Not if I have to stand the minister
against the wall, and turn our backs to every one. I think----"
"That will do!" said father, wiping his eyes. "That will do,
Sally! Your mother and I have got a pretty clear understanding
of how you feel, now. Don't excite yourself! Your wedding
shan't be used to pay off our scores. You may ask exactly whom
you please, want, and feel quite comfortable to have around
Then Sally fell on mother's neck and every one cried a while;
then we wiped up, Leon gave Sally his slate, and she came and sat
beside the table and began to make out a list of those she really
wanted to invite. First she put down all of our family, even
many away in Ohio, and all of Peter's, and then his friends, and
hers. Once in the list of girls she stopped and said: "If I
take that beautiful imported handkerchief from Pamela Pryor, I
have just got to invite her "
"And she will outdress and outshine you at your own wedding," put
"Let her, if she can!" said Sally calmly. "She'll have to hump
herself if she beats that dress of mine; and as for looks, I know
lots of people who think gray eyes, pink cheeks, and brown curls
far daintier and prettier than red cheeks and black eyes and
curls. If she really is better looking than I am, it isn't her
fault; God made her that way, and He wouldn't like us to punish
her for it; and it would, because any one can see she wants to be
friends; don't you think, mother?"--mother nodded--"and besides,
I think she's better looking than I am, myself!"
Sally said that, and wrote down the Princess' name in big
letters, and no one cheeped.
Then she began on our neighbourhood, thinking out loud and
writing what she thought. So all of us were as still, and held
our breath in softly and waited, and Sally said slow and musing
like, "Of course we couldn't have anything at THIS house without
Sarah Hood. She dressed most of us when we were born, nursed us
when we were sick, helped with threshing, company, and parties,
and she's just splendid anyway; we better ask all the Hoods"; so
she wrote them down. "And it will be lonely for Widow Willis and
the girls to see every one else here--we must have them; and of
course Deams--Amanda is always such splendid help; and the Widow
Fall is so perfectly lovely, we want her for decorative purposes;
and we could scarcely leave out Shaws; they always have all of us
everything they do; and Dr. Fenner of course; and we'll want Flo
and Agnes Kuntz to wait on table, so their folks might as well
So she went on taking up each family we knew, and telling what
they had done for us, or what we had done for them; and she found
some good reason for inviting them, and pretty soon father
settled back in his chair and never took his eyes from Sally's
shining head as she bent over the slate, and then he began
pulling his lower lip, like when it won't behave, and his eyes
danced exactly as I've seen Leon's. I never had noticed that
Sally went straight on and at last she came to Freshetts. "I am
going to have all of them, too," she said. "The children are
good children, and it will help them along to see how things are
done when they are right; and I don't care what any one says, I
LIKE Mrs. Freshett. I'll ask her to help work, and that will
keep her from talking, and give the other women a chance to see
that she's clean, and human, and would be a good neighbour if
they'd be friendly. If we ask her, then the others will."
When she finished--as you live--there wasn't a soul she had left
out except Bill Ramsdell, who starved his dog until it sucked our
eggs, and Isaac Thomas, who was so lazy he wouldn't work enough
to keep his wife and children dressed so they ever could go
anywhere, but he always went, even with rags flying, and got his
stomach full just by talking about how he loved the Lord. To
save me I couldn't see Isaac Thomas without beginning to myself:
"'Tis the voice of the sluggard; I hear him complain,
You have waked me too soon, I must slumber again.
I passed by his garden, I saw the wild brier,
The thorn, and the thistle, grow broader and higher;
The clothes that hang on him are turning to rags;
And his money he wastes, till he starves or he begs."
That described Isaac to the last tatter, only he couldn't waste
money; he never had any. Once I asked father what he thought
Isaac would do with it, if by some unforeseen working of Divine
Providence, he got ten dollars. Father said he could tell me
exactly, because Isaac once sold some timber and had a hundred
all at once. He went straight to town and bought Mandy a red
silk dress and a brass breastpin, when she had no shoes. He got
the children an organ, when they were hungry; and himself a plug
hat. Mandy and the children cried because he forgot candy and
oranges until the last cent was gone. Father said the only time
Isaac ever worked since he knew him was when he saw how the hat
looked with his rags. He actually helped the men fell the trees
until he got enough to buy a suit, the remains of which he still
wore on Sunday. I asked father why he didn't wear the hat too,
and father said the loss of that hat was a blow, from which Isaac
never had recovered. Once at camp-meeting he laid it aside to
pray his longest, most impressive prayer, and an affectionate cow
strayed up and licked the nap all off before Isaac finished, so
he never could wear it again.
Sally said: "I'll be switched if I'll have that disgusting
creature around stuffing himself on my wedding day; but if you're
not in bed, when it's all over, mother, I do wish you'd send
Mandy and the children a basket."
Mother promised, and father sat and looked on and pulled his
lower lip until his ears almost wiggled. Then Sally said she
wanted Laddie and Shelley to stand at the parlour door and keep
it tight shut, and seat every one in the sitting-room except a
special list she had made out to send in there. She wanted all
our family and Peter's, and only a few very close friends, but it
was enough to fill the room. She said when she and Peter came
downstairs every one could see how they looked when they crossed
the sitting-room, and for all the difference the door would make,
it could be left open then; she would be walled in by people she
wanted around her, and the others could have the fun of being
there, seeing what they could, and getting all they wanted to
eat. Father and mother said that was all right, only to say
nothing about the plan to shut the door; but when the time came
just to close it and everything would be satisfactory.
Then Sally took the slate upstairs to copy the list with ink, so
every one went about something, while mother crossed to father
and he took her on his lap, and they looked at each other the
longest and the hardest, and neither of them said a word. After
a while they cried and laughed, and cried some more, and it was
about as sensible as what a flock of geese say when they are let
out of the barn and start for the meadow in the morning. Then
father, all laughy and criey, said: "Thank God! Oh, thank God,
the girl loves the home we have made for her!"
Just said it over and over, and mother kept putting in: "It
pays, Paul! It pays!"
Next day Sally put on her riding habit and fixed herself as
pretty as ever she could, and went around to have a last little
visit with every one, and invited them herself, and then she
wrote letters to people away. Elizabeth and Lucy came home, and
every one began to work. Father and mother went to the village
in the carriage and brought home the bed full of things to eat,
and all we had was added, and mother began to pack butter, and
save eggs for cakes, and the day before, I thought there wouldn't
be a chicken left on the place. They killed and killed, and
Sarah Hood, Amanda Deam, and Mrs. Freshett picked and picked.
"I'll bet a dollar we get something this time besides ribs and
neck," said Leon. "How do you suppose thigh and breast would
"I was always crazy to try the tail," I said.
"Much chance you got," sniggered Leon. "'Member the time that
father asked the Presiding Elder, `Brother Lemon, what piece of
the fowl do you prefer?' and he up and said: `I'm partial to the
rump, Brother Stanton.' There sat father bound he wouldn't give
him mother's piece, so he pretended he couldn't find it, and
forked all over the platter and then gave him the ribs and the
thigh. Gee, how mother scolded him after the preacher had gone!
You notice father hasn't asked that since. Now, he always says:
`Do you prefer light or dark meat?' Much chance you have of ever
tasting a tail, if father won't even give one to the Presiding
"But as many as they are killing----"
"Oh THIS time," said Leon with a flourish, "this time we are
going to have livers, and breast, and thighs, AND tails, if you
are beholden to tail."
"I'd like to know how we are?"
"Well, since you have proved that you can keep your mouth shut,
for a little while, anyway, I'm going to take you in on this,"
said Leon. "You keep your eyes on me. When the wedding gets
going good, you watch me, and slip out. That's all! I'll be
fixed to do the rest. But mind this, get out when I do."
"All right," I promised.
They must have wakened about four o'clock on the wedding day; it
wasn't really light when I got up. I had some breakfast in my
night dress, and then I was all fixed up in my new clothes, and
made to sit on a chair, and never move for fear I would soil my
dress, for no one had time to do me over, and there was only one
dress anyway. There was so much to see you could keep interested
just watching, and I was as anxious to look nice before the boys
and girls, and the big people, as any one.
Every mantel and table and bureau was covered with flowers, and
you could have smelled the kitchen a mile away, I know. The
dining table was set for the wedding party, our father and
mother, and Peter's, and the others had to wait. You couldn't
have laid the flat of your hand on that table anywhere, it was so
covered with things to eat. Miss Amelia, in a dress none of us
ever had seen before, a real nice white dress, pranced around it
and smirked at every one, and waved the peacock feather brush to
keep the flies from the jelly, preserves, jam, butter, and things
that were not cooked.
For hours Mrs. Freshett had stood in the kitchen on one side of
the stove frying chicken and heaping it in baking pans in the
oven, and Amanda Deam on the other, frying ham, while Sarah Hood
cooked other things, and made a wash boiler of coffee.
Everything was ready by the time it should have been. I had
watched them until I was tired, when Sally came through the room
where I was, and she said I might come along upstairs and see her
dressed. When we reached the door I wondered where she would put
me, but she pushed clothing together on a bed, and helped me up,
and that was great fun.
She had been bathed and had on her beautiful new linen
underclothing that mother punched full of holes and embroidered
in flowers and vines, and Shelley was brushing her hair when some
one called out: "The Princess is coming!"
I jumped for the window, and all of them, even Sally, crowded
behind. Well, talk about carriages! No one ever had seen THAT
one before. It WAS a carriage. And such horses! The funny
"'orse, 'ouse" man who made the Pryor garden was driving. He
stopped at the gate, got out and opened a door, and the Princess'
father stepped down, tall and straight, all in shiny black. He
turned around and held out his hand, bowing double, and the
Princess laid her hand in his and stepped out too. He walked
with her to the gate, made another bow, kissed her hand, and
stepped back, and she came down the walk alone. He got in the
carriage, the man closed the door, and they drove away.
Sally must have arranged before that the Princess was to come
early, for she came straight upstairs. She wore a soft white
silk dress with big faded pink roses in it, and her hair was
fastened at each ear with a bunch of little pink roses. She was
lovely, but she didn't "outdress or outshine" Sally one bit, and
she never even glanced at the mirror to see how she looked; she
began helping with Sally's hair, and to dress her. When Bess
Kuntz prinked so long she made every one disgusted, the Princess
said: "Oh save your trouble. No one will look at you when
there's a bride in the house."
There was a roll almost as thick as your arm of garters that all
the other girls wanted Sally to wear for them so they would get a
chance to marry that year, and Agnes Kuntz's was so large it went
twice around, and they just laughed about it. They put a blue
ribbon on Sally's stays for luck, and she borrowed Peter's sister
Mary's comb to hold her back hair. They had the most fun, and
when she was all ready except her dress they went away, and Sally
stood in the middle of the room trembling a little. Outside you
could hear carriage wheels rolling, the beat of horses' hoofs,
and voices crying greetings. "There was a sound of revelry," by
day. Mother came in hurriedly. She wore her new brown silk,
with a lace collar pinned at the throat with the pin that had a
brown goldstone setting in it, and her precious ring was on her
finger. She was dainty and pretty enough to have been a bride
herself. She turned Sally around slowly, touching her hair a
little and her skirts; then she went to the closet, took out the
wedding dress, put the skirt over Sally's head, and she came up
through the whiteness, pink and glowing. She slipped her arms
into the sleeves, and mother fastened it, shook out the skirt,
saw that the bead fringe hung right, and the lace collar lay
flat, then she took Sally in her arms, held her tight and said:
"God bless you, dear, and keep you always. Amen."
Then she stepped to the door, and Peter, all shining and new,
came in. He hugged Sally and kissed her like it didn't make the
least difference whether she had on calico or a wedding dress,
and he just stared, and stared at her, and never said a word, so
at last she asked: "Well Peter, do you like my dress?"
And the idiot said: "Why Sally, I hadn't even seen it!"
Then both of them laughed, and the Presiding Elder came.
I never liked to look at him very well because something had
happened, and he had only one eye. I always wondered if he had
"plucked it out" because it had "offended" him; but if you could
forget his eye, and just listen to his voice, it was like the
sweetest music. He married those two people right there in the
bedroom, all but about three words at the end. I heard and saw
every bit of it. Then Sally said it was time for me to go to
mother, but she followed me into the boys' room and shut the
door. Then she knelt in her beautiful silver dress, and put her
arms around me and said: "Honest, Little Sister, aren't you
going to kiss me goodbye?"
"Oh I can if you want me to," I said, but I didn't look at her; I
looked out of the window.
She laughed a breathless little catchy sort of laugh and said:
"That's exactly what I do want."
"You didn't even want me, to begin with," I reminded her.
"There isn't a doubt but whoever told you that, could have been
in better business," said Sally, angry-like. "I was much younger
then, and there were many things I didn't understand, and it
wasn't you I didn't want; it was just no baby at all. I wouldn't
have wanted a boy, or any other girl a bit more. I foolishly
thought we had children enough in this house. I see now very
plainly that we didn't, for this family never could get along
without you, and I'm sorry I ever thought so, and I'd give
anything if I hadn't struck you and----"
"Oh be still, and go on and get married!" I said. I could just
feel a regular beller coming in my throat. "I was only fooling
to pay you up. I meant all the time to kiss you good-bye when
the others did. I'll nearly die being lonesome when you're
Then I ran for downstairs, and when I reached the door, where the
steps went into the sitting-room, I stopped, scared at all the
people. It was like camp-meeting. You could see the yard full
through the windows. Just as I was thinking I'd go back to the
boys' room, and from there into the garret, and down the back
stairway, Laddie went and saw me. He came over, led me to the
parlour door, put me inside, and there mother took my hand and
held me tight, and I couldn't see Leon anywhere.
I was caught, but they didn't have him. Mother never hung on as
she did that day. I tried and tried to pull away, and she held
tight. It was only a minute until the door opened, people
crowded back, and the Presiding Elder, followed by Sally and
Peter, came into the room, and they began being married all over
If it hadn't grown so solemn my mother sprung a tear, I never
would have made it. She just had to let me go to sop her face,
because tears are salty, and they would turn her new brown silk
front yellow. The minute my hand was free, I slipped between the
people and looked at the parlour door. It was wedged full and
more standing on chairs behind them. No one could get out there.
I thought I would fail Leon sure, and then I remembered the
parlour bedroom. I got through that door easy as anything, and
it was no trick at all to slip behind the blind, raise the
window, and drop into mother's room from the sill. From there I
reached the back dining-room door easy enough, went around to the
kitchen, and called Leon softly. He opened the door at once and
I slipped in. He had just got there. We looked all around and
couldn't see where to begin at first. There was enough cooked
food there to load two wagons.
An old pillow-case that had dried sage in it was lying across a
chair and Leon picked it up and poured the sage into the wood-
box, and handed the case to me. He went over and knelt before
the oven, while I followed and held open the case. Leon rolled
his eyes to the ceiling and said so exactly like father when he
is serving company that not one of us could have told the
difference: "Which part of the fowl do you prefer, Brother
It was so funny it made me snigger, but I straightened up and
answered as well as I could: "I'm especially fond of the rump,
Leon stirred the heap and piled four or five tails in the case.
I thought that was all I could manage before they would spoil, so
I said: "Do you prefer light or dark meat, Sister Abigail?"
"I wish to choose breast," said Leon, simpering just like that
silly Abigail Webster. He put in six breasts. Then we found
them hidden away back in the oven in a pie pan, for the bride's
table, I bet, and we took two livers apiece; we didn't dare take
more for fear they had been counted. Then he threw in whatever
he came to that was a first choice big piece, until I was really
scared, and begged him to stop; but he repeated what the fox said
in the story of the "Quarrelsome Cocks"--"Poco was very good, but
I have not had enough yet," so he piled in pieces until I ran
away with the pillow-case; then he slid in a whole plateful of
bread, another of cake, and put the plates in a tub of dishes
under the table. Then we took some of everything that wasn't too
runny. Just then the silence broke in the front part of the
house, and we scooted from the back door, closing it behind us,
ran to the wood house and climbed the ladder to the loft over the
front part. There we were safe as could be, we could see to the
road, hear almost everything said in the kitchen, and "eat our
bites in peace," like Peter Justice told the Presiding Elder at
the church trial that he wanted his wife to, the time he slapped
her. Before very long, they began calling us, and called, and
called. We hadn't an idea what they wanted, so we ate away. We
heard them first while I was holding over a back to let Leon
taste kidney, and it made him blink when he got it good.
"Well my soul!" he said. "No wonder father didn't want to feed
that to another man when mother isn't very well, and likes it!
Then he gave me a big bite of breast. It was sort of dry and
tasteless; I didn't like it.
"Why, I think neck or back beats that all to pieces!" I said in
"Fact is, they do!" said Leon. "I guess the people who `wish to
choose breast,' do it to get the biggest piece."
I never had thought of it before, but of course that would be the
"Allow me, Sister Stanton," said Leon, holding out a piece of
That was really chicken! Then we went over the backs and picked
out all the kidneys, and ate the little crusty places, and all
the cake we could swallow; then Leon fixed up the bag the best he
could, and set it inside an old cracked churn and put on the lid.
He said that would do almost as well as the cellar, and the food
would keep until to-morrow. I wanted to slip down and put it in
the Underground Station; but Leon said father must be spending a
lot of money right now, and he might go there to get some, so
that wouldn't be safe. Then he cleaned my face, and I told him
when he got his right, and we slipped from the back door, crossed
the Lawton blackberry patch, and went to the house from the
orchard. Leon took an apple and broke it in two, and we went in
eating as if we were starving. When father asked us where in
this world we had been, Leon told him we thought it would be so
awful long before the fourth or fifth table, and we hadn't had
much breakfast, and we were so hungry we went and hunted
something to eat.
"If you'd only held your horses a minute," said father; "they
were calling you to take places at the bride's table."
Well for land's sake! Our mouths dropped open until it's a
wonder the cake and chicken didn't show, and we never said a
word. There didn't seem to be anything to say, for Leon loved to
be with grown folks, and to have eaten at the bride's table would
have been the biggest thing that ever happened to me. At last,
when I could speak, I asked who had taken our places, and bless
your heart if it wasn't that mealy-faced little sister of
Peter's, and one of the aunts from Ohio. They had finished, and
Sally was upstairs putting on her travelling dress, while the
guests were eating, when I heard Laddie ask the Princess to ride
with him and Sally's other friends, who were going to escort her
to the depot.
"You'll want all your horses. What could I ride?"
"If I find you a good horse and saddle will you go?"
"I will. I think it would be fine sport."
Laddie turned and went from sight that minute. The Princess
laughed and kept on making friends with every one, helping wait
on people, thinking of nice things to do, and just as the
carriage was at the gate for father and mother, and Sally and
Peter, and every one else was untying their horses to ride in the
procession to the village, from where I was standing on the
mounting block I saw something coming down the Little Hill. I
took one look, ran to the Princess, and almost dragged her.
Up raced Laddie, his face bright, his eyes snapping with fun. He
rode Flos, was leading the Princess' horse Maud, and carrying a
big bundle under his arm. He leaped from the saddle and fastened