Part 1 out of 5
THE STORY OF WAITSTILL BAXTER
by KATE DOUGLAS WIGGIN
I. SACO WATER
II. THE SISTERS
III. DEACON BAXTER'S WIVES
IV. SOMETHING OF A HERO
V. PATIENCE AND IMPATIENCE
VI. A KISS
VII. WHAT DREAMS MAY COME
VIII. THE JOINER'S SHOP
IX. CEPHAS SPEAKS
X. ON TORY HILL
XI. A JUNE SUNDAY
XII. THE GREEN-EYED MONSTER
XIII. HAYING TIME
XIV. UNCLE BART DISCOURSES
XV. IVORY'S MOTHER
XVI. LOCKED OUT
XVII. A BRACE OF LOVERS
XVIII. A STATE O' MAINE PROPHET
XIX. AT THE BRICK STORE
XX. THE ROD THAT BLOSSOMED
XXI. LOIS BURIES HER DEAD
XXIII. AUNT ABBY'S WINDOW
XXIV. PHOEBE TRIUMPHS
XXV. LOVE'S YOUNG DREAM
XXVI. A WEDDING-RING
XXVII. THE CONFESSIONAL
XXVIII.PATTY IS SHOWN THE DOOR
XXIX. WAITSTILL SPEAKS HER MIND
XXX. A CLASH OF WILLS
XXXI. SENTRY DUTY
XXXII. THE HOUSE OF AARON
XXXIV. THE DEACON'S WATERLOO
XXXV. TWO HEAVENS
THE STORY OF WAITSTILL BAXTER
THE STORY OF WAITSTILL BAXTER
FAR, far up, in the bosom of New Hampshire's granite hills, the
Saco has its birth. As the mountain rill gathers strength it
"Through Bartlett's vales its tuneful way,
Or hides in Conway's fragrant brakes,
Retreating from the glare of day."
Now it leaves the mountains and flows through "green Fryeburg's
woods and farms." In the course of its frequent turns and twists
and bends, it meets with many another stream, and sends it,
fuller and stronger, along its rejoicing way. When it has
journeyed more than a hundred miles and is nearing the ocean, it
greets the Great Ossipee River and accepts its crystal tribute.
Then, in its turn, the Little Ossipee joins forces, and the
river, now a splendid stream, flows onward to Bonny Eagle, to
Moderation and to Salmon Falls, where it dashes over the dam like
a young Niagara and hurtles, in a foamy torrent, through the
ragged defile cut between lofty banks of solid rock.
Widening out placidly for a moment's rest in the sunny reaches
near Pleasant Point, it gathers itself for a new plunge at Union
Falls, after which it speedily merges itself in the bay and is
fresh water no more.
At one of the falls on the Saco, the two little hamlets of
Edgewood and Riverboro nestle together at the bridge and make one
village. The stream is a wonder of beauty just here; a mirror of
placid loveliness above the dam, a tawny, roaring wonder at the
fall, and a mad, white-flecked torrent as it dashes on its way to
The river has seen strange sights in its time, though the history
of these two tiny villages is quite unknown to the great world
outside. They have been born, waxed strong, and fallen almost to
decay while Saco Water has tumbled over the rocks and spent
itself in its impetuous journey to the sea.
It remembers the yellow-moccasined Sokokis as they issued from
the Indian Cellar and carried their birchen canoes along the
wooded shore. It was in those years that the silver-skinned
salmon leaped in its crystal depths; the otter and the beaver
crept with sleek wet skins upon its shore; and the brown deer
came down to quench his thirst at its brink while at twilight the
stealthy forms of bear and panther and wolf were mirrored in its
Time sped; men chained the river's turbulent forces and ordered
it to grind at the mill. Then houses and barns appeared along its
banks, bridges were built, orchards planted, forests changed into
farms, white-painted meetinghouses gleamed through the trees and
distant bells rang from their steeples on quiet Sunday mornings.
All at once myriads of great hewn logs vexed its downward course,
slender logs linked together in long rafts, and huge logs
drifting down singly or in pairs. Men appeared, running hither
and thither like ants, and going through mysterious operations
the reason for which the river could never guess: but the
mill-wheels turned, the great saws buzzed, the smoke from tavern
chimneys rose in the air, and the rattle and clatter of
stage-coaches resounded along the road.
Now children paddled with bare feet in the river's sandy coves
and shallows, and lovers sat on its alder-shaded banks and
exchanged their vows just where the shuffling bear was wont to
come down and drink.
The Saco could remember the "cold year," when there was a black
frost every month of the twelve, and though almost all the corn
along its shores shrivelled on the stalk, there were two farms
where the vapor from the river saved the crops, and all the seed
for the next season came from the favored spot, to be known as
"Egypt" from that day henceforward.
Strange, complex things now began to happen, and the river played
its own part in some of these, for there were disastrous
freshets, the sudden breaking-up of great jams of logs, and the
drowning of men who were engulfed in the dark whirlpool below the
Caravans, with menageries of wild beasts, crossed the bridge now
every year. An infuriated elephant lifted the side of the old
Edgewood Tavern barn, and the wild laughter of the roistering
rum-drinkers who were tantalizing the animals floated down to the
river's edge. The roar of a lion, tearing and chewing the arm of
one of the bystanders, and the cheers of the throng when a plucky
captain of the local militia thrust a stake down the beast's
throat,--these sounds displaced the former war-whoop of the
Indians and the ring of the axe in the virgin forests along the
There were days, and moonlight nights, too, when strange sights
and sounds of quite another nature could have been noted by the
river as it flowed under the bridge that united the two little
Issuing from the door of the Riverboro Town House, and winding
down the hill, through the long row of teams and carriages that
lined the roadside, came a procession of singing men and singing
women. Convinced of sin, but entranced with promised pardon;
spiritually intoxicated by the glowing eloquence of the
latter-day prophet they were worshipping, the band of
"Cochranites "marched down the dusty road and across the bridge,
dancing, swaying, waving handkerchiefs, and shouting hosannas.
God watched, and listened, knowing that there would be other
prophets, true and false, in the days to come, and other
processions following them; and the river watched and listened
too, as it hurried on towards the sea with its story of the
present that was sometime to be the history of the past.
When Jacob Cochrane was leading his overwrought, ecstatic band
across the river, Waitstill Baxter, then a child, was watching
the strange, noisy company from the window of a little brick
dwelling on the top of the Town-House Hill.
Her stepmother stood beside her with a young baby in her arms,
but when she saw what held the gaze of the child she drew her
away, saying: "We mustn't look, Waitstill; your father don't like
"Who was the big man at the head, mother? "
"His name is Jacob Cochrane, but you mustn't think or talk about
him; he is very wicked."
"He doesn't look any wickeder than the others," said the child.
"Who was the man that fell down in the road, mother, and the
woman that knelt and prayed over him? Why did he fall, and why
did she pray, mother?"
"That was Master Aaron Boynton, the schoolmaster, and his wife.
He only made believe to fall down, as the Cochranites do; the way
they carry on is a disgrace to the village, and that's the reason
your father won't let us look at them."
"I played with a nice boy over to Boynton's," mused the child.
"That was Ivory, their only child. He is a good little fellow,
but his mother and father will spoil him with their crazy ways."
"I hope nothing will happen to him, for I love him," said the
child gravely. "He showed me a humming-bird's nest, the first
ever I saw, and the littlest!"
"Don't talk about loving him," chided the woman. "If your father
should hear you, he'd send you to bed without your porridge."
"Father couldn't hear me, for I never speak when he's at home,"
said grave little Waitstill. "And I'm used to going to bed
without my porridge."
THE river was still running under the bridge, but the current of
time had swept Jacob Cochrane out of sight, though not out of
mind, for he had left here and there a disciple to preach his
strange and uncertain doctrine. Waitstill, the child who never
spoke in her father's presence, was a young woman now, the
mistress of the house; the stepmother was dead, and the baby a
girl of seventeen.
The brick cottage on the hilltop had grown only a little
shabbier. Deacon Foxwell Baxter still slammed its door behind him
every morning at seven o'clock and, without any such cheerful
conventions as good-byes to his girls, walked down to the bridge
to open his store.
The day, properly speaking, had opened when Waitstill and
Patience had left their beds at dawn, built the fire, fed the
hens and turkeys, and prepared the breakfast, while the Deacon
was graining the horse and milking the cows. Such minor "chores"
as carrying water from the well, splitting kindling, chopping
pine, or bringing wood into the kitchen, were left to Waitstill,
who had a strong back, or, if she had not, had never been unwise
enough to mention the fact in her father's presence. The almanac
day, however, which opened with sunrise, had nothing to do with
the real human day, which always began when Mr. Baxter slammed
the door behind him, and reached its high noon of delight when he
disappeared from view.
"He's opening the store shutters!" chanted Patience from the
heights of a kitchen chair by the window. "Now he's taken his
cane and beaten off the Boynton puppy that was sitting on the
steps as usual,--I don't mean Ivory's dog" (here the girl gave a
quick glance at her sister)," but Rodman's little yellow cur.
Rodman must have come down to the bridge on some errand for
Ivory. Isn't it odd, when that dog has all the other store steps
to sit upon, he should choose father's, when every bone in his
body must tell him how father hates him and the whole Boynton
"Father has no real cause that I ever heard of; but some dogs
never know when they've had enough beating, nor some people
either." said Waitstill, speaking from the pantry.
"Don't be gloomy when it's my birthday, Sis!--Now he's opened the
door and kicked the cat! All is ready for business at the Baxter
"I wish you weren't quite so free with your tongue, Patty."
"Somebody must talk," retorted the girl, jumping down from the
chair and shaking back her mop of red-gold curls. "I'll put this
hateful, childish, round comb in and out just once more, then it
will disappear forever. This very after-noon up goes my hair!"
"You know it will be of no use unless you braid it very plainly
and neatly. Father will take notice and make you smooth it down."
"Father hasn't looked me square in the face for years; besides,
my hair won't braid, and nothing can make it quite plain and
neat, thank goodness! Let us be thankful for small mercies, as
Jed Morrill said when the lightning struck his mother-in-law and
skipped his wife."
"Patty, I will not permit you to repeat those tavern stories;
they are not seemly on the lips of a girl!" And Waitstill came
out of the pantry with a shadow of disapproval in her eyes and in
Patty flung her arms round her sister tempestuously, and pulled
out the waves of her hair so that it softened her face.--"I'll be
good," she said, "and oh, Waity! let's invent some sort of cheap
happiness for to-day! I shall never be seventeen again and we
have so many troubles!
Let's put one of the cows in the horse's stall and see what will
happen! Or let's spread up our beds with the head at the foot and
put the chest of drawers on the other side of the room, or let's
make candy! Do you think father would miss the molasses if we
only use a cupful? Couldn't we strain the milk, but leave the
churning and the dishes for an hour or two, just once? If you say
'yes' I can think of something wonderful to do!"
"What is it?" asked Waitstill, relenting at the sight of the
girl's eager, roguish face.
"PIERCE MY EARS!" cried Patty. "Say you will!"
"Oh! Patty, Patty, I am afraid you are given over to vanity! I
daren't let you wear eardrops without father's permission."
"Why not? Lots of church members wear them, so it can't be a
mortal sin. Father is against all adornments, but that's because
he doesn't want to buy them. You've always said I should have
your mother's coral pendants when I was old enough. Here I am,
seventeen today, and Dr. Perry says I am already a well-favored
young woman. I can pull my hair over my ears for a few days and
when the holes are all made and healed, even father cannot make
me fill them up again. Besides, I'll never wear the earrings at
"Oh! my dear, my dear!" sighed Waitstill, with a half-sob in her
voice. "If only I was wise enough to know how we could keep from
these little deceits, yet have any liberty or comfort in life!"
"We can't! The Lord couldn't expect us to bear all that we bear,"
exclaimed Patty, "without our trying once in a while to have a
good time in our own way. We never do a thing that we are ashamed
of, or that other girls don't do every day in the week; only our
pleasures always have to be taken behind father's back. It's only
me that's ever wrong, anyway, for you are always an angel. It's a
burning shame and you only twenty-one yourself. I'll pierce your
ears if you say so, and let you wear your own coral drops!"
"No, Patty; I've outgrown those longings years ago. When your
mother died and left father and you and the house to me, my
girlhood died, too, though I was only thirteen."
"It was only your inside girlhood that died," insisted Patty
stoutly, "The outside is as fresh as the paint on Uncle Barty's
new ell. You've got the loveliest eyes and hair in Riverboro, and
you know it; besides, Ivory Boynton would tell you so if you
didn't. Come and bore my ears, there's a darling!"
"Ivory Boynton never speaks a word of my looks, nor a word that
father and all the world mightn't hear." And Waitstill flushed.
"Then it's because he's shy and silent and has so many troubles
of his own that he doesn't dare say anything. When my hair is
once up and the coral pendants are swinging in my ears, I shall
expect to hear something about MY looks, I can tell you. Waity,
after all, though we never have what we want to eat, and never a
decent dress to our backs, nor a young man to cross the
threshold, I wouldn't change places with Ivory Boynton, would
you?" Here Patty swept the hearth vigorously with a turkey wing
and added a few corncobs to the fire.
Waitstill paused a moment in her task of bread-kneading. "Well,"
she answered critically, "at least we know where our father is."
"We do, indeed! We also know that he is thoroughly alive!"
"And though people do talk about him, they can't say the things
they say of Master Aaron Boynton. I don't believe father would
ever run away and desert us."
"I fear not," said Patty. "I wish the angels would put the idea
into his head, though, of course, it wouldn't be the angels;
they'd be above it. It would have to be the 'Old Driver,' as Jed
Morrill calls the Evil One; but whoever did it, the result would
be the same: we should be deserted, and live happily ever after.
Oh! to be deserted, and left with you alone on this hilltop, what
joy it would be!"
Waitstill frowned, but did not interfere further with Patty's
intemperate speech. She knew that she was simply serving as an
escape-valve, and that after the steam was "let off" she would be
"Of course, we are motherless," continued Patty wistfully, "but
poor Ivory is worse than motherless."
"No, not worse, Patty," said Waitstill, taking the bread-board
and moving towards the closet. "Ivory loves his mother and she
loves him, with all the mind she has left! She has the best blood
of New England flowing in her veins, and I suppose it was a great
come down for her to marry Aaron Boynton, clever and gifted
though he was. Now Ivory has to protect her, poor, daft, innocent
creature, and hide her away from the gossip of the village. He is
surely the best of sons, Ivory Boynton!"
"She is a terrible care for him, and like to spoil his life,"
"There are cares that swell the heart and make it bigger and
warmer, Patty, just as there are cares that shrivel it and leave
it tired and cold.
Love lightens Ivory's afflictions but that is something you and I
have to do without, so it seems."
"I suppose little Rodman is some comfort to the Boyntons, even if
he is only ten." Patty suggested.
"No doubt. He's a good little fellow, and though it's rather hard
for Ivory to be burdened for these last five years with the
support of a child who's no nearer kin than a cousin, still he's
of use, minding Mrs. Boynton and the house when Ivory's away.
The school-teacher says he is wonderful at his books and likely
to be a great credit to the Boyntons some day or other."
"You've forgot to name our one great blessing, Waity, and I
believe, anyway, you're talking to keep my mind off the
"You mean we've each other? No, Patty, I never forget that, day
or night. 'Tis that makes me willing to bear any burden father
chooses to put upon us.--Now the bread is set, but I don't
believe I have the courage to put a needle into your tender
flesh, Patty; I really don't."
"Nonsense! I've got the waxed silk all ready and chosen the
right-sized needle and I'll promise not to jump or screech more
than I can help. We'll make a tiny lead-pencil dot right in the
middle of the lobe, then you place the needle on it, shut your
eyes, and JAB HARD! I expect to faint, but when I 'come to,' we
can decide which of us will pull the needle through to the other
side. Probably it will be you, I'm such a coward. If it hurts
dreadfully, I'll have only one pierced to-day and take the other
to-morrow; and if it hurts very dreadfully, perhaps I'll go
through life with one ear-ring. Aunt Abby Cole will say it's just
odd enough to suit me!"
"You'll never go through life with one tongue at the rate you use
it now," chided Waitstill, "for it will never last you. Come,
we'll take the work-basket and go out in the barn where no one
will see or hear us."
"Goody, goody! Come along!" and Patty clapped her hands in
triumph. "Have you got the pencil and the needle and the waxed
silk? Then bring the camphor bottle to revive me, and the coral
pendants, too, just to give me courage. Hurry up! It's ten
o'clock. I was born at sun-rise, so I'm 'going on' eighteen and
can't waste any time!"
DEACON BAXTER'S WIVES
FOXWELL BAXTER was ordinarily called "Old Foxy" by the boys of
the district, and also, it is to be feared, by the men gathered
for evening conference at the various taverns, or at one of the
rival village stores.
He had a small farm of fifteen or twenty acres, with a pasture, a
wood lot, and a hay-field, but the principal source of his income
came from trading. His sign bore the usual legend: "WEST INDIA
GOODS AND GROCERIES," and probably the most profitable articles
in his stock were rum, molasses, sugar, and tobacco; but there
were chests of rice, tea, coffee, and spices, barrels of pork in
brine, as well as piles of cotton and woolen cloth on the shelves
above the counters. His shop window, seldom dusted or set in
order, held a few clay pipes, some glass jars of peppermint or
sassafras lozenges, black licorice, stick-candy, and sugar
gooseberries. These dainties were seldom renewed, for it was only
a very bold child, or one with an ungovernable appetite for
sweets, who would have spent his penny at Foxy Baxter's store.
He was thought a sharp and shrewd trader, but his honesty was
never questioned; indeed, the only trait in his character that
ever came up for general discussion was his extraordinary,
unbelievable, colossal meanness. This so eclipsed every other
passion in the man, and loomed so bulkily and insistently in the
foreground, that had he cherished a second vice no one would have
observed it, and if he really did possess a casual virtue, it
could scarcely have reared its head in such ugly company.
It might be said, to defend the fair name of the Church, that Mr.
Baxter's deaconhood did not include very active service in the
courts of the Lord. He had "experienced religion" at fifteen and
made profession of his faith, but all well-brought-up boys and
girls did the same in those days; their parents saw to that! If
change of conviction or backsliding occurred later on, that was
not their business! At the ripe age of twenty-five he was
selected to fill a vacancy and became a deacon, thinking it might
be good for trade, as it was, for some years. He was very active
at the time of the "Cochrane craze," since any defence of the
creed that included lively detective work and incessant spying on
his neighbors was particularly in his line; but for many years
now, though he had been regular in attendance at church, he had
never officiated at communion, and his diaconal services had
gradually lapsed into the passing of the contribution-box, a task
of which he never wearied; it was such a keen pleasure to make
other people yield their pennies for a good cause, without adding
any of his own!
Deacon Baxter had now been a widower for some years and the
community had almost relinquished the idea of his seeking a
fourth wife. This was a matter of some regret, for there was a
general feeling that it would be a good thing for the Baxter
girls to have some one to help with the housework and act as a
buffer between them and their grim and irascible parent. As for
the women of the village, they were mortified that the Deacon had
been able to secure three wives, and refused to believe that the
universe held anywhere a creature benighted enough to become his
The first, be it said, was a mere ignorant girl, and he a
beardless youth of twenty, who may not have shown his true
qualities so early in life. She bore him two sons, and it was a
matter of comment at the time that she called them, respectively,
Job and Moses, hoping that the endurance and meekness connected
with these names might somehow help them in their future
relations with their father. Pneumonia, coupled with profound
discouragement, carried her off in a few years to make room for
the second wife, Waitstill's mother, who was of different fibre
and greatly his superior. She was a fine, handsome girl, the
orphan daughter of up-country gentle-folks, who had died when she
was eighteen, leaving her alone in the world and penniless.
Baxter, after a few days' acquaintance, drove into the dooryard
of the house where she was a visitor and, showing her his two
curly-headed boys, suddenly asked her to come and be their
stepmother. She assented, partly because she had nothing else to
do with her existence, so far as she could see, and also because
she fell in love with the children at first sight and forgot, as
girls will, that it was their father whom she was marrying.
She was as plucky and clever and spirited as she was handsome,
and she made a brave fight of it with Foxy; long enough to bring
a daughter into the world, to name her Waitstill, and start her a
little way on her life journey,--then she, too, gave up the
struggle and died. Typhoid fever it was, combined with complete
loss of illusions, and a kind of despairing rage at having made
so complete a failure of her existence.
The next year, Mr. Baxter, being unusually busy, offered a man a
good young heifer if he would jog about the country a little and
pick him up a housekeeper; a likely woman who would, if she
proved energetic, economical, and amiable, be eventually raised
to the proud position of his wife. If she was young, healthy,
smart, tidy, capable, and a good manager, able to milk the cows,
harness the horse, and make good butter, he would give a dollar
and a half a week. The woman was found, and, incredible as it may
seem, she said "yes" when the Deacon (whose ardor was kindled at
having paid three months' wages) proposed a speedy marriage. The
two boys by this time had reached the age of discretion, and one
of them evinced the fact by promptly running away to parts
unknown, never to be heard from afterwards; while the other, a
reckless and unhappy lad, was drowned while running on the logs
in the river. Old Foxy showed little outward sign of his loss,
though he had brought the boys into the world solely with the
view of having one of them work on the farm and the other in the
His third wife, the one originally secured for a housekeeper,
bore him a girl, very much to his disgust, a girl named Patience,
and great was Waitstill's delight at this addition to the dull
household. The mother was a timid, colorless, docile creature,
but Patience nevertheless was a sparkling, bright-eyed baby, who
speedily became the very centre of the universe to the older
child. So the months and years wore on, drearily enough, until,
when Patience was nine, the third Mrs. Baxter succumbed after the
manner of her predecessors, and slipped away from a life that had
grown intolerable. The trouble was diagnosed as "liver
complaint," but scarcity of proper food, no new frocks or kind
words, hard work, and continual bullying may possibly have been
contributory causes. Dr. Perry thought so, for he had witnessed
three most contented deaths in the Baxter house. The ladies were
all members of the church and had presumably made their peace
with God, but the good doctor fancied that their pleasure in
joining the angels was mild compared with their relief at parting
with the Deacon.
"I know I hadn't ought to put the care on you, Waitstill, and you
only thirteen," poor Mrs. Baxter sighed, as the young girl was
watching with her one night when the end seemed drawing near.
"I've made out to live till now when Patience is old enough to
dress herself and help round, but I'm all beat out and can't try
"Do you mean I'm to take your place, be a mother to Patience, and
keep house, and everything?" asked Waitstill quaveringly.
"I don't see but you'll have to, unless your father marries
again. He'll never hire help, you know that!"
"I won't have another mother in this house," flashed the girl.
"There's been three here and that's enough! If he brings anybody
home, I'll take Patience and run away, as Job did; or if he
leaves me alone, I'll wash and iron and scrub and cook till
Patience grows up, and then we'll go off together and hide
somewhere. I'm fourteen; oh, mother, how soon could I be married
and take Patience to live with me? Do you think anybody will ever
"Don't marry for a home, Waitstill! Your own mother did that, and
so did I, and we were both punished for it! You've been a great
help and I've had a sight of comfort out of the baby, but I
wouldn't go through it again, not even for her! You're real smart
and capable for your age and you've done your full share of the
work every day, even when you were at school. You can get along
"I don't know how I'm going to do everything alone," said the
girl, forcing back her tears. "You've always made the brown
bread, and mine will never suit father. I suppose I can wash, but
don't know how to iron starched clothes, nor make pickles, and
oh! I can never kill a rooster, mother, it's no use to ask me to!
I'm not big enough to be the head of the family."
Mrs. Baxter turned her pale, tired face away from Waitstill's
"I know," she said faintly. "I hate to leave you to bear the
brunt alone, but I must! . . . Take good care of Patience and
don't let her get into trouble. . . . You won't, will you?"
"I'll be careful," promised Waitstill, sobbing quietly; "I'll do
"You've got more courage than ever I had; don't you s'pose you
can stiffen up and defend yourself a little mite? . . . Your
father'd ought to be opposed, for his own good . . . but I've
never seen anybody that dared do it." Then, after a pause, she
said with a flash of spirit,--"Anyhow, Waitstill, he's your
father after all. He's no blood relation of mine, and I can't
stand him another day; that's the reason I'm willing to die."
SOMETHING OF A HERO
IVORY BOYNTON lifted the bars that divided his land from the
highroad and walked slowly toward the house. It was April, but
there were still patches of snow here and there, fast melting
under a drizzling rain. It was a gray world, a bleak,
black-and-brown world, above and below. The sky was leaden; the
road and the footpath were deep in a muddy ooze flecked with
white. The tree-trunks, black, with bare branches, were lined
against the gray sky; nevertheless, spring had been on the way
for a week, and a few sunny days would bring the yearly miracle
for which all hearts were longing.
Ivory was season-wise and his quick eye had caught many a sign as
he walked through the woods from his schoolhouse. A new and
different color haunted the tree-tops, and one had only to look
closely at the elm buds to see that they were beginning to swell.
Some fat robins had been sunning about in the school-yard at
noon, and sparrows had been chirping and twittering on the
fence-rails. Yes, the winter was over, and Ivory was glad, for it
had meant no coasting and -skating and sleighing for him, but
long walks in deep snow or slush; long evenings, good for study,
but short days, and greater loneliness for his mother. He could
see her now as he neared the house, standing in the open doorway,
her hand shading her eyes, watching, always watching, for some
one who never came.
"Spring is on the way, mother, but it isn't here yet, so don't
stand there in the rain," he called. "Look at the nosegay I
gathered for you as I came through the woods. Here are pussy
willows and red maple blossoms and Mayflowers, would you believe
Lois Boynton took the handful of budding things and sniffed their
"You're late to-night, Ivory," she said. "Rod wanted his supper
early so that he could go off to singing-school, but I kept
something warm for you, and I'll make you a fresh cup of tea."
Ivory went into the little shed room off the kitchen, changed his
muddy boots for slippers, and made himself generally tidy; then
he came back to the living-room bringing a pine knot which he
flung on the fire, waking it to a brilliant flame.
"We can be as lavish as we like with the stumps now, mother, for
spring is coming," he said, as he sat down to his meal.
"I've been looking out more than usual this afternoon," she
replied. "There's hardly any snow left, and though the walking is
so bad I've been rather expecting your father before night. You
remember he said, when he went away in January, that he should be
back before the Mayflowers bloomed?"
It did not do any good to say: "Yes, mother, but the Mayflowers
have bloomed ten times since father went away." He had tried
that, gently and persistently when first her mind began to be
confused from long grief and hurt love, stricken pride and sick
Instead of that, Ivory turned the subject cheerily, saying,
"Well, we're sure of a good season, I think. There's been a grand
snow-fall, and that, they say, is the poor man's manure. Rod and
I will put in more corn and potatoes this year. I shan't have to
work single-handed very long, for he is growing to be quite a
"Your father was very fond of green corn, but he never cared for
potatoes," Mrs. Boynton said, vaguely, taking up her knitting. "I
always had great pride in my cooking, but I could never get your
father to relish my potatoes."
"Well, his son does, anyway," Ivory replied, helping himself
plentifully from a dish that held one of his mother's best
concoctions, potatoes minced fine and put together into the
spider with thin bits of pork and all browned together.
"I saw the Baxter girls to-day, mother," he continued, not
because he hoped she would give any heed to what he said, but
from the sheer longing for companionship. "The Deacon drove off
with Lawyer Wilson, who wanted him to give testimony in some case
or other down in Milltown. The minute Patty saw him going up Saco
Hill, she harnessed the old starved Baxter mare and the girls
started over to the Lower Corner to see some friends. It seems
it's Patty's birthday and they were celebrating. I met them just
as they were coming back and helped them lift the rickety wagon
out of the mud; they were stuck in it up to the hubs of the
wheels. I advised them to walk up the Town-House Hill if they
ever expected to get the horse home."
Town-House Hill!" said Ivory's mother, dropping her knitting.
"That was where we had such wonderful meetings! Truly the Lord
was present in our midst, and oh, Ivory! the visions we saw in
that place when Jacob Cochrane first unfolded his gospel to us.
Was ever such a man!"
"Probably not, mother," remarked Ivory dryly.
"You were speaking of the Baxters. I remember their home, and the
little girl who used to stand in the gateway and watch when we
came out of meeting. There was a baby, too; isn't there a Baxter
"She didn't stay a baby; she is seventeen years old to-day,
"You surprise me, but children do grow very fast. She had a
strange name, but I cannot recall it."
"Her name is Patience, but nobody but her father calls her
anything but Patty, which suits her much better."
"No, the name wasn't Patience, not the one I mean."
"The older sister is Waitstill, perhaps you mean her?"-and Ivory
sat down by the fire with his book and his pipe.
"Waitstill! Waitstill! that is it! Such a beautiful name!"
"She's a beautiful girl."
"Waitstill! 'They also serve who only stand and wait.' 'Wait, I
say, on the Lord and He will give thee the desires of thy
heart.'--Those were wonderful days, when we were caught up out of
the body and mingled freely in the spirit world." Mrs. Boynton
was now fully started on the topic that absorbed her mind and
Ivory could do nothing but let her tell the story that she had
told him a hundred times.
"I remember when first we heard Jacob Cochrane speak." (This was
her usual way of beginning.) "Your father was a preacher, as you
know, Ivory, but you will never know what a wonderful preacher he
was. My grandfather, being a fine gentleman, and a governor,
would not give his consent to my marriage, but I never regretted
it, never! Your father saw Elder Cochrane at a revival meeting of
the Free Will Baptists in Scarboro', and was much impressed with
him. A few days later we went to the funeral of a child in the
same neighborhood. No one who was there could ever forget it. The
minister had made his long prayer when a man suddenly entered the
room, came towards the coffin, and placed his hand on the child's
forehead. The room, in an instant, was as still as the death that
had called us together. The stranger was tall and of commanding
presence; his eyes pierced our very hearts, and his marvellous
voice penetrated to depths in our souls that had never been
"Was he a better speaker than my father?" asked Ivory, who
dreaded his mother's hours of complete silence even more than her
periods of reminiscence.
"He spoke as if the Lord of Hosts had given him inspiration; as
if the angels were pouring words into his mouth just for him to
utter," replied Mrs. Boynton. "Your father was spell-bound, and I
only less so. When he ceased speaking, the child's mother crossed
the room, and swaying to and fro, fell at his feet, sobbing and
wailing and imploring God to forgive her sins.
They carried her upstairs, and when we looked about after the
confusion and excitement the stranger had vanished. But we found
him again! As Elder Cochrane said: 'The prophet of the Lord can
never be hid; no darkness is thick enough to cover him!' There
was a six weeks' revival meeting in North Saco where three
hundred souls were converted, and your father and I were among
them. We had fancied ourselves true believers for years, but
Jacob Cochrane unstopped our ears so that we could hear the
truths revealed to him by the Almighty!-It was all so simple and
easy at the beginning, but it grew hard and grievous afterward;
hard to keep the path, I mean. I never quite knew whether God was
angry with me for backsliding at the end, but I could not always
accept the revelations that Elder Cochrane and your father had!"
Lois Boynton's hands were now quietly folded over the knitting
that lay forgotten in her lap, but her low, thrilling voice had a
note in it that did not belong wholly to earth.
There was a long silence; one of many long silences at the
Boynton fireside, broken only by the ticking of the clock, the
purring of the cat, and the clicking of Mrs. Boynton's needles,
as, her paroxysm of reminiscence over, she knitted ceaselessly,
with her eyes on the window or the door.
"It's about time for Rod to be coming back, isn't it? " asked
"He ought to be here soon, but perhaps he is gone for good; it
may be that he thinks he has made us a long enough visit. I don't
know whether your father will like the boy when he comes home. He
never did fancy company in the house."
Ivory looked up in astonishment from his Greek grammar. This was
an entirely new turn of his mother's mind. Often when she was
more than usually confused he would try to clear the cobwebs from
her brain by gently questioning her until she brought herself
back to a clearer understanding of her own thought. Thus far her
vagaries had never made her unjust to any human creature; she was
uniformly sweet and gentle in speech and demeanor.
"Why do you talk of Rod's visiting us when he is one of the
family?" Ivory asked quietly.
"Is he one of the family? I didn't know it," replied his mother
"Look at me, mother, straight in the eye; that's right: now
listen, dear, to what I say."
Mrs. Boynton's hair that had been in her youth like an aureole of
corn-silk was now a strange yellow-white, and her blue eyes
looked out from her pale face with a helpless appeal.
"You and I were living alone here after father went away," Ivory
began. "I was a little boy, you know. You and father had saved
something, there was the farm, you worked like a slave, I helped,
and we lived, somehow, do you remember?"
"I do, indeed! It was cold and the neighbors were cruel. Jacob
Cochrane had gone away and his disciples were not always true to
him. When the magnetism of his presence was withdrawn, they could
not follow all his revelations, and they forgot how he had
awakened their spiritual life at the first of his preaching. Your
father was always a stanch believer, but when he started on his
mission and went to Parsonsfield to help Elder Cochrane in his
meetings, the neighbors began to criticize him. They doubted him.
You were too young to realize it, but I did, and it almost broke
"I was nearly twelve years old; do you think I escaped all the
"You never spoke of it to me, Ivory."
"No, there is much that I never spoke of to you, mother, but
sometime when you grow stronger and your memory is better we will
talk together.--Do you remember the winter, long after father
went away, that Parson Lane sent me to Fairfield Academy to get
enough Greek and Latin to make me a schoolmaster?"
"Yes," she answered uncertainly.
"Don't you remember I got a free ride down-river one Friday and
came home for Sunday, just to surprise you? And when I got here I
found you ill in bed, with Mrs. Mason and Dr. Perry taking care
of you. You could not speak, you were so ill, but they told me
you had been up in New Hampshire to see your sister, that she had
died, and that you had brought back her boy, who was only four
years old. That was Rod. I took him into bed with me that night,
poor, homesick little fellow, and, as you know, mother, he's
never left us since."
"I didn't remember I had a sister. Is she dead, Ivory? " asked
Mrs. Boynton vaguely.
"If she were not dead, do you suppose you would have kept Rodman
with us when we hadn't bread enough for our own two mouths,
mother?" questioned Ivory patiently.
"No, of course not. I can't think how I can be so forgetful. It's
worse sometimes than others. It 's worse to-day because I knew
the Mayflowers were blooming and that reminded me it was time for
your father to come home; you must forgive me, dear, and will you
excuse me if I sit in the kitchen awhile? The window by the side
door looks out towards the road, and if I put a candle on the
sill it shines quite a distance. The lane is such a long one, and
your father was always a sad stumbler in the dark! I shouldn't
like him to think I wasn't looking for him when he's been gone
Ivory's pipe went out, and his book slipped from his knee
His mother was more confused than usual, but she always was when
spring came to remind her of her husband's promise. Somehow, well
used as he was to her mental wanderings, they made him uneasy
to-night. His father had left home on a fancied mission, a duty
he believed to be a revelation given by God through Jacob
Cochrane. The farm did not miss him much at first, Ivory
reflected bitterly, for since his fanatical espousal of
Cochranism his father's interest in such mundane matters as
household expenses had diminished month by month until they had
no meaning for him at all. Letters to wife and boy had come at
first, but after six months--during which he had written from
many places, continually deferring the date of his return-they
had ceased altogether. The rest was silence. Rumors of his
presence here or there came from time to time, but though Parson
Lane and Dr. Perry did their best, none of them were ever
Where had those years of wandering been passed, and had they all
been given even to an imaginary and fantastic service of God? Was
his father dead? If he were alive, what could keep him from
writing? Nothing but a very strong reason, or a very wrong one,
so his son thought, at times.
Since Ivory had grown to man's estate, he understood that in the
later days of Cochrane's preaching, his "visions,"
"inspirations," and "revelations" concerning the marriage bond
were a trifle startling from the old-fashioned, orthodox point of
view. His most advanced disciples were to hold themselves in
readiness to renounce their former vows and seek "spiritual
consorts," sometimes according to his advice, sometimes as their
Had Aaron Boynton forsaken, willingly, the wife of his youth, the
mother of his boy? If so, he must have realized to what straits
he was subjecting them. Ivory had not forgotten those first few
years of grinding poverty, anxiety, and suspense. His mother's
mind had stood the strain bravely, but it gave way at last; not,
however, until that fatal winter journey to New Hampshire, when
cold, exposure, and fatigue did their worst for her weak body.
Religious enthusiast, exalted and impressionable, a natural
mystic, she had probably always been, far more so in temperament,
indeed, than her husband; but although she left home on that
journey a frail and heartsick woman, she returned a different
creature altogether, blurred and confused in mind, with clouded
memory and irrational fancies.
She must have given up hope, just then, Ivory thought, and her
love was so deep that when it was uprooted the soil came with it.
Now hope had returned because the cruel memory had faded
altogether. She sat by the kitchen window in gentle expectation,
watching, always watching.
And this is the way many of Ivory Boynton's evenings were spent,
while the heart of him, the five-and-twenty-year-old heart of
him, was longing to feel the beat of another heart, a girl's
heart only a mile or more away. The ice in Saco Water had broken
up and the white blocks sailed majestically down towards the sea;
sap was mounting and the elm trees were budding; the trailing
arbutus was blossoming in the woods; the robins had
come;-everything was announcing the spring, yet Ivory saw no
changing seasons in his future; nothing but winter, eternal
PATIENCE AND IMPATIENCE
PATTY had been searching for eggs in the barn chamber, and coming
down the ladder from the haymow spied her father washing the
wagon by the well-side near the shed door. Cephas Cole kept store
for him at meal hours and whenever trade was unusually brisk, and
the Baxter yard was so happily situated that Old Foxy could watch
both house and store.
There never was a good time to ask Deacon Baxter a favor,
therefore this moment would serve as well as any other, so,
approaching him near enough to be heard through the rubbing and
splashing, but no nearer than was necessary Patty said:--
"Father, can I go up to Ellen Wilson's this afternoon and stay to
tea? I won't start till I've done a good day's work and I'll come
home early. "
"What do you want to go gallivantin' to the neighbors for? I
never saw anything like the girls nowadays; highty-tighty,
flauntin', traipsin', triflin' trollops, ev'ry one of 'em, that's
what they are, and Ellen Wilson's one of the triflin'est.
You're old enough now to stay to home where you belong and make
an effort to earn your board and clothes, which you can't, even
if you try."
Spunk, real, Simon-pure spunk, started some-where in Patty and
coursed through her blood like wine.
"If a girl's old enough to stay at home and work, I should think
she was old enough to go out and play once in a while." Patty was
still too timid to make this remark more than a courteous
suggestion, so far as its tone was concerned.
"Don't answer me back; you're full of new tricks, and you've got
to stop 'em, right where you are, or there'll be trouble. You
were whistlin' just now up in the barn chamber; that's one of the
things I won't have round my premises,--a whistlin' girl."
"'T was a Sabbath-School hymn that I was whistling!" This with a
creditable imitation of defiance.
"That don't make it any better. Sing your hymns if you must make
a noise while you're workin'."
"It's the same mouth that makes the whistle and sings the song,
so I don't see why one's any wickeder than the other."
"You don't have to see," replied the Deacon grimly; "all you have
to do is to mind when you're spoken to. Now run 'long 'bout your
"Can't I go up to Ellen's, then?"
"What's goin' on up there?"
"Just a frolic. There's always a good time at Ellen's, and I
would so like the sight of a big, rich house now and then!"
"'Just a frolic.' Land o' Goshen, hear the girl! 'Sight of a big,
rich house,' indeed!--Will there be any boys at the party?"
"I s'pose so, or 't wouldn't be a frolic," said Patty with awful
daring; "but there won't be many; only a few of Mark's friends."
"Well, there ain't goin' to be no more argyfyin'! I won't have
any girl o' mine frolickin' with boys, so that's the end of it.
You're kind o' crazy lately, riggin' yourself out with a ribbon
here and a flower there, and pullin' your hair down over your
ears. Why do you want to cover your ears up? What are they for?"
"To hear you with, father," Patty replied, with honey-sweet voice
and eyes that blazed.
"Well, I hope they'll never hear anything worse," replied her
father, flinging a bucket of water over the last of the wagon
"THEY COULDN'T!" These words were never spoken aloud, but oh! how
Patty longed to shout them with a clarion voice as she walked
away in perfect silence, her majestic gait showing, she hoped,
how she resented the outcome of the interview.
I've stood up to father!" she exclaimed triumphantly as she
entered the kitchen and set down her yellow bowl of eggs on the
table. "I stood up to him, and answered him back three times!"
Waitstill was busy with her Saturday morning cooking, but she
turned in alarm.
"Patty, what have you said and done? Tell me quickly!"
"I 'argyfied,' but it didn't do any good; he won't let me go to
Waitstill wiped her floury hands and put them on her sister's
"Hear what I say, Patty: you must not argue with father, whatever
he says. We don't love him and so there isn't the right respect
in our hearts, but at least there can be respect in our manners."
"I don't believe I can go on for years, holding in, Waitstill!"
"Yes, you can. I have!"
"You're different, Waitstill."
"I wasn't so different at sixteen, but that's five years ago, and
I've got control of my tongue and my temper since then. Sometime,
perhaps, when I have a grievance too great to be rightly borne,
sometime when you are away from here in a home of your own, I
shall speak out to father; just empty my heart of all the
disappointment and bitterness and rebellion. Somebody ought to
tell him the truth, and perhaps it will be me!"
"I wish it could be me," exclaimed Patty vindictively, and with
an equal disregard of grammar.
"You would speak in temper, I'm afraid, Patty, and that would
spoil all. I'm sorry you can't go up to Ellen's," she sighed,
turning back to her work; "you don't have pleasure enough for one
of your age; still, don't fret; something may happen to change
things, and anyhow the weather is growing warmer, and you and I
have so many more outings in summer-time. Smooth down your hair,
child; there are straws in it, and it's all rough with the wind.
I don't like flying hair about a kitchen."
"I wish my hair was flying somewhere a thousand miles from here;
or at least I should wish it if it did not mean leaving you; for
oh. I'm so miserable and disappointed and unhappy!"
Waitstill bent over the girl as she flung herself down beside the
table and smoothed her shoulder gently.
"There, there, dear; it isn't like my gay little sister to cry.
What is the matter with you to-day, Patty?"
"I suppose it's the spring," she said, wiping her eyes with her
apron and smiling through her tears. "Perhaps I need a dose of
sulphur and molasses."
"Don't you feel well as common?"
"Well? I feel too well! I feel as if I was a young colt shut up
in an attic. I want to kick up my heels, batter the door down,
and get out into the pasture. It's no use talking, Waity;--I
can't go on living without a bit of pleasure and I can't go on
being patient even for your sake. If it weren't for you, I'd run
away as Job did; and I never believed Moses slipped on the logs;
I'm sure he threw himself into the river, and so should I if I
had the courage!"
"Stop, Patty, stop, dear! You shall have your bit of pasture, at
least. I'll do some of your indoor tasks for you, and you shall
put on your sunbonnet and go out and dig the dandelion greens for
dinner. Take the broken knife and a milkpan and don't bring in so
much earth with them as you did last time. Dry your eyes and look
at the green things growing. Remember how young you are and how
many years are ahead of you! Go along, dear!"
Waitstill went about her work with rather a heavy heart. Was life
going to be more rather than less difficult, now that Patty was
growing up? Would she he able to do her duty both by father and
sister and keep peace in the household, as she had vowed, in her
secret heart, always to do? She paused every now and then to look
out of the window and wave an encouraging hand to Patty. The
girl's bonnet was off, and her uncovered head blazed like red
gold in the sunlight. The short young grass was dotted with
dandelion blooms, some of them already grown to huge disks of
yellow, and Patty moved hither and thither, selecting the younger
weeds, deftly putting the broken knife under their roots and
popping them into the tin pan. Presently, for Deacon Baxter had
finished the wagon and gone down the hill to relieve Cephas Cole
at the counter, Patty's shrill young whistle floated into the
kitchen, but with a mischievous glance at the open window she
broke off suddenly and began to sing the words of the hymn with
rather more emphasis and gusto than strict piety warranted.
"There'll be SOMEthing in heav-en for chil-dren to do,
None are idle in that bless-ed land:
There'll be WORK for the heart. There'll be WORK for the mind,
And emPLOYment for EACH little hand.
"There'll be SOME-thing to do,
There'll be SOME-thing to do,
There'll be SOME-thing for CHIL-dren to do!
On that bright blessed shore where there's joy evermore,
There'll be SOME-thing for CHIL-DREN to do."
Patty's young existence being full to the brim of labor, this
view of heaven never in the least appealed to her and she
rendered the hymn with little sympathy. The main part of the
verse was strongly accented by jabs at the unoffending dandelion
roots, but when the chorus came she brought out the emphatic
syllables by a beat of the broken knife on the milkpan.
This rendition of a Sabbath-School classic did not meet
Waitstill's ideas of perfect propriety, but she smiled and let it
pass, planning some sort of recreation for a stolen half-hour of
the afternoon. It would have to be a walk through the pasture
into the woods to see what had grown since they went there a
fortnight ago. Patty loved people better than Nature, but failing
the one she could put up with the other, for she had a sense of
beauty and a pagan love of color. There would be pale-hued
innocence and blue and white violets in the moist places, thought
Waitstill, and they would have them in a china cup on the
supper-table. No, that would never do, for last time father had
knocked them over when he was reaching for the bread, and in a
silent protest against such foolishness got up from the table and
emptied theirs into the kitchen sink.
"There's a place for everything," he said when he came back, "and
the place for flowers is outdoors."
Then in the pine woods there would be, she was sure, Star of
Bethlehem, Solomon's Seal, the white spray of groundnuts and
bunchberries. Perhaps they could make a bouquet and Patty would
take it across the fields to Mrs. Boynton's door. She need not go
in, and thus they would not be disobeying their father's command
not to visit that "crazy Boynton woman."
Here Patty came in with a pan full of greens and the sisters sat
down in the sunny window to get them ready for the pot.
"I'm calmer," the little rebel allowed." That's generally the way
it turns out with me. I get into a rage, but I can generally sing
"You certainly must have got rid of a good deal of temper this
morning, by the way your voice sounded."
"Nobody can hear us in this out-of-the-way place. It's easy
enough to see that the women weren't asked to say anything when
the men settled where the houses should be built! The men weren't
content to stick them on the top of a high hill, or half a mile
from the stores, but put them back to the main road, taking due
care to cut the sink-window where their wives couldn't see
anything even when they were washing dishes."
"I don't know that I ever thought about it in that way"; and
Waitstill looked out of the window in a brown study while her
hands worked with the dandelion greens. "I've noticed it, but I
never supposed the men did it intentionally."
"No, you wouldn't," said Patty with the pessimism of a woman of
ninety, as she stole an admiring glance at her sister. Patty's
own face, irregular, piquant, tantalizing, had its peculiar
charm, and her brilliant skin and hair so dazzled the masculine
beholder that he took note of no small defects; but Waitstill was
beautiful; beautiful even in her working dress of purple calico.
Her single braid of hair, the Foxwell hair, that in her was
bronze and in Patty pale auburn, was wound once around her fine
head and made to stand a little as it went across the front. It
was a simple, easy, unconscious fashion of her own, quite
different from anything done by other women in her time and
place, and it just suited her dignity and serenity. It looked
like a coronet, but it was the way she carried her head that gave
you the fancy, there was such spirit and pride in the poise of it
on the long graceful neck. Her eyes were as clear as mountain
pools shaded by rushes, and the strength of the face was softened
by the sweetness of the mouth.
Patty never let the conversation die out for many seconds at a
time and now she began again. "My sudden rages don't match my
name very well, but, of course, mother didn't know how I was
going to turn out when she called me Patience, for I was nothing
but a squirming little bald, red baby; but my name really is too
ridiculous when you think about it."
Waitstill laughed as she said: "It didn't take you long to change
it! Perhaps Patience was a hard word for a baby to say, but the
moment you could talk you said, 'Patty wants this' and 'Patty
"Did Patty ever get it? She never has since, that's certain! And
look at your name: it's 'Waitstill,' yet you never stop a moment.
When you're not in the shed or barn, or chicken-house, or kitchen
or attic, or garden-patch, you are working in the Sunday School
or the choir."
It seemed as if Waitstill did not intend to answer this
arraignment of her activities. She rose and crossed the room to
put the pan of greens in the sink, preparing to wash them.
Taking the long-handled dipper from the nail, she paused a moment
before plunging it into the water pail; paused, and leaning her
elbow on a corner of the shelf over the sink, looked steadfastly
out into the orchard.
Patty watched her curiously and was just going to offer a penny
for her thoughts when Waitstill suddenly broke the brief silence
by saying: "Yes, I am always busy; it's better so, but all the
same, Patty, I'm waiting,--inside! I don't know for what, but I
always feel that I am waiting!"
"SHALL we have our walk in the woods on the Edgewood side of the
river, just for a change, Patty?" suggested her sister. "The
water is so high this year that the river will be splendid. We
can gather our flowers in the hill pasture and then you'll be
quite near Mrs. Boynton's and can carry the nosegay there while I
come home ahead of you and get supper. I'll take to-day's eggs to
father's store on the way and ask him if he minds our having a
little walk. I've an errand at Aunt Abby's that would take me
down to the bridge anyway."
"Very well," said Patty, somewhat apathetically. "I always like a
walk with you, but I don't care what becomes of me this afternoon
if I can't go to Ellen's party."
The excursion took place according to Waitstill's plan, and at
four o'clock she sped back to her night work and preparations for
supper, leaving Patty with a great bunch of early wildflowers for
Ivory's mother. Patty had left them at the Boyntons' door with
Rodman, who was
picking up chips and volunteered to take the nosegay into the
house at once.
"Won't you step inside? " the boy asked shyly, wishing to be
polite, but conscious that visitors, from the village very seldom
crossed the threshold.
"I'd like to, but I can't this afternoon, thank you. I must run
all the way down the hill now, or I shan't be in time to supper."
"Do you eat meals together over to your house?" asked the boy.
"We're all three at the table if that means together."
"We never are. Ivory goes off early and takes lunch in a pail. So
do I when I go to school. Aunt Boynton never sits down to eat;
she just stands at the window and takes a bite of something now
'and then. You haven't got any mother, have you?"
"Neither have I, nor any father, nor any relations but Aunt
Boynton and Ivory. Ivory is very good to me, and when he's at
home I'm never lonesome."
"I wish you could come over and eat with sister and me," said
Patty gently." Perhaps sometime, when my father is away buying
goods and we are left alone, you could join us in the woods, and
we would have a picnic? We would bring enough for you; all sorts
of good things; hard-boiled eggs, doughnuts, apple-turnovers, and
bread spread with jelly."
"I'd like it fine!" exclaimed Rodman, his big dark eyes sparkling
with anticipation. "I don't have many boys to play with, and I
never went to a picnic Aunt Boynton watches for uncle 'most all
the time; she doesn't know he has been away for years and years.
When she doesn't watch, she prays. Sometimes she wants me to pray
with her, but praying don't come easy to me."
"Neither does it to me," said Patty.
"I'm good at marbles and checkers and back-gammon and
"So am I," said Patty, laughing, "so we should be good friends.
I'll try to get a chance to see you soon again, but perhaps I
can't; I'm a good deal tied at home."
"Your father doesn't like you to go any-wheres, I guess,"
interposed Rodman. "I've heard Ivory tell Aunt Boynton things,
but I wouldn't repeat them. Ivory's trained me years and years
not to tell anything, so I don't."
"That's a good boy!" approved Patty. Then as she regarded him
more closely, she continued, "I'm sorry you're lonesome, Rodman,
I'd like to see you look brighter."
"You think I've been crying," the boy said shrewdly." So I have,
but not because I've been punished. The reason my eyes are so
swollen up is because I killed our old toad by mistake this
morning. I was trying to see if I could swing the scythe so's to
help Ivory in haying-time. I've only 'raked after' and I want to
begin on mowing soon's I can. Then somehow or other the old toad
came out from under the steps; I didn't see him, and the scythe
hit him square. I cried for an hour, that's what I did, and I
don't care who knows it except I wouldn't like the boys at school
to hector me. I've buried the toad out behind the barn, and I
hope Ivory'll let me keep the news from Aunt Boynton. She cries
enough now without my telling her there's been a death in the
family. She set great store by the old toad, and so did all of
"It's too bad; I'm sorry, but after all you couldn't help it."
"No, but we should always look round every-wheres when we're
cutting; that's what Ivory says. He says folks shouldn't use
edged tools till they're old enough not to fool with 'em."
And Rodman looked so wise and old-fashioned for his years that
Patty did not know whether to kiss him or cry over him, as she
said: "Ivory's always right, and now good-bye; I must go this
very minute. Don't forget the picnic."
"I won't!" cried the boy, gazing after her, wholly entranced with
her bright beauty and her kindness. "Say, I'll bring something,
too,--white-oak acorns, if you like 'em; I've got a big bagful up
Patty sped down the long lane, crept under the bars, and flew
like a lapwing over the high-road.
"If father was only like any one else, things might be so
different!" she sighed, her thoughts running along with her feet.
"Nobody to make a home for that poor lonesome little boy and that
poor lonesome big Ivory. . . . I am sure that he is in love with
Waitstill. He doesn't know it; she doesn't know it; nobody does
but me, but I'm clever at guessing. I was the only one that
surmised Jed Morrill was going to marry again. . . . I should
almost like Ivory for myself, he is so tall and handsome, but of
course he can never marry anybody; he is too poor and has his
mother to look after. I wouldn't want to take him from Waity,
though, and then perhaps I couldn't get him, anyway. . . . If I
couldn't, he'd be the only one! I've never tried yet, but I feel
in my bones, somehow, that I could have any boy in Edgewood or
Riverboro, by just crooking my forefinger and beckoning to him. .
. . I wish--I wish--they were different! They don't make me want
to beckon to them! My forefinger just stays straight and doesn't
feel like crooking! . . . There's Cephas Cole, but he's as stupid
as an owl. I don't want a husband that keeps his mouth wide open
whenever I'm talking, no matter whether it's sense or nonsense.
There's Phil Perry, but he likes Ellen, and besides he's too
serious for me; and there's Mark Wilson; he's the best dressed,
and the only one that's been to college. He looks at me all the
time in meeting, and asked me if I wouldn't take a walk some
Sunday afternoon. I know he planned Ellen's party hoping I'd be
there!--Goodness gracious, I do believe that is his horse coming
behind me! There's no other in the village that goes at such a
It was, indeed, Mark Wilson, who always drove, according to Aunt
Abby Cole, "as if he was goin' for a doctor." He caught up with
Patty almost in the twinkling of an eye, but she was ready for
him. She had taken off her sunbonnet just to twirl it by the
string, she was so warm with walking, and in a jiffy she had
lifted the clustering curls from her ears, tucked them back with
a single expert movement, and disclosed two coral pendants just
the color of her ear-tips and her glowing cheeks.
"Hello, Patty!" the young man called, in brusque country fashion,
as he reined up beside her. "What are you doing over here? Why
aren't you on your way to the party? I've been over to Limington
and am breaking my neck to get home in time myself."
"I am not going; there are no parties for me!" said Patty
"Not going! Oh! I say, what's the matter? It won't be a bit of
fun without you! Ellen and I made it up expressly for you,
thinking your father couldn't object to a candy-pull!"
"I can't help it; I did the best I could. Wait-still always asks
father for me, but I wouldn't take any chances to-day, and I
spoke to him myself; indeed I almost coaxed him!"
"He's a regular old skinflint!" cried Mark, getting out of the
wagon and walking beside her.
"You mustn't call him names," Patty interposed with some dignity.
"I call him a good many myself, but I'm his daughter."
"You don't look it," said Mark admiringly. " Come and have a
little ride, Won't you?"
"Oh, I couldn't possibly, thank you. Some one would be sure to
see us, and father's so strict."
"There isn't a building for half a mile! Just jump in and have a
spin till we come to the first house; then I'll let you out and
you can walk the rest of the way home. Come, do, and make up to
me a little for my disappointment. I'll skip the candy-pull if
you say the word."
It was an incredibly brief drive, at Mark's rate of speed; and as
exciting and blissful as it was brief and dangerous, Patty
thought. Did she imagine it, or did Mark help her into the wagon
differently from--old Dr. Perry, for instance?
The fresh breeze lifted the gold thread of her curls and gave her
cheeks a brighter color, while her breath came fast through her
parted lips and her eyes sparkled at the unexpected, unaccustomed
pleasure. She felt so grown up, so conscious of a new power as
she sat enthroned on the little wagon seat (Mark Wilson always
liked his buggies "courtin' size" so the neighbors said), that
she was almost courageous enough to agree to make a royal
progress through the village; almost, but not quite.
"Come on, let's shake the old tabbies up and start 'em talking,
shall we?" Mark suggested." I'll give you the reins and let Nero
have a flick of the whip."
"No, I'd rather not drive," she said. "I'd be afraid of this
horse, and, anyway, I must get out this very minute; yes, I
really must. If you hold Nero I can just slip down between the
wheels; you needn't help me."
Mark alighted notwithstanding her objections, saying gallantly,
"I don't miss this pleasure, not by a jugful! Come along! Jump!"
Patty stretched out her hands to be helped, but Mark forestalled
her by putting his arms around her and lifting her down. A second
of time only was involved, but in that second he held; her close
and kissed her warm cheek, her cheek that had never felt the
touch of any lips but those of Waitstill. She pulled her
sunbonnet over her flaming face, while Mark, with a gay smile of
farewell, sprang into the wagon and gave his horse a free rein.
Patty never looked up from the road, but walked faster and
faster, her heart beating at breakneck speed. It was a changed
world that spun past her; fright, triumph, shame, delight, a
gratified vanity swam over her in turn.
A few minutes later she heard once more the rumble of wheels on
the road. It was Cephas Cole driving towards her over the brow of
Saco Hill. "He'll have seen Mark," she thought, "but he can't
know I've talked and driven with him. Ugh! how stupid and common
"I heard your father blowin' the supper-horn jest as I come over
the bridge," remarked Cephas, drawing up in the road. " He stood
in the door-yard blowin' like Bedlam. I guess you 're late to
"I'll be home in a few minutes," said Patty, "I got delayed and
am a little behindhand."
"I'11 turn right round if you'11 git in and lemme take you
back-along a piece; it'll save you a good five minutes," begged
"All right; much obliged; but it's against the rules and you must
drop me at the foot of our hill and let me walk up."
"Certain; I know the Deacon 'n' I ain't huntin' for trouble any
more'n you be; though I 'd take it quick enough if you jest give
me leave! I ain't no coward an' I could tackle the Deacon
to-morrow if so be I had anything to ask him."
This seemed to Patty a line of conversation distinctly to be
discouraged under all the circumstances, and she tried to keep
Cephas on the subject of his daily tasks and his mother's
rheumatism until she could escape from his over-appreciative
"How do you like my last job?" he inquired as they passed his
father's house. "Some think I've got the ell a little dite too
yaller. Folks that ain't never handled a brush allers think they
can mix paint better 'n them that knows their trade."
"If your object was to have everybody see the ell a mile away,
you've succeeded," said Patty cruelly. She never flung the poor
boy a civil word for fear of getting something warmer than
civility in return.
"It'll tone down," Cephas responded, rather crestfallen. "I
wanted a good bright lastin' shade. 'T won't look so yaller when
father lets me paint the house to match, but that won't be till
next year. He makes fun of the yaller color same as you; says a
home's something you want to forget when you're away from it.
Mother says the two rooms of the ell are big enough for somebody
to set up housekeepin' in. What do you think?"
"I never think," returned Patty with a tantalizing laugh.
"Good-night, Cephas; thank you for giving me a lift!"
"WHAT DREAMS MAY COME
SUPPER was over and the work done at last; the dishes washed, the
beans put in soak, the hens shut up for the night, the milk
strained and carried down cellar. Patty went up to her little
room with the one window and the slanting walls and Waitstill
followed and said good-night. Her father put out the lights,
locked the doors, and came up the creaking stairs. There was
never any talk between the sisters before going to bed, save on
nights when their father was late at the store, usually on
Saturdays only, for the good talkers of the village, as well as
the gossips and loafers, preferred any other place to swap
stories than the bleak atmosphere provided by old Foxy at his
place of business.
Patty could think in the dark; her healthy young body lying not
uncomfortably on the bed of corn husks, and the patchwork
comforter drawn up under her chin. She could think, but for the
first time she could not tell her thoughts to Waitstill. She had
a secret; a dazzling secret, just like Ellen Wilson and some of
the other girls who were several years older. Her afternoon's
experience loomed as large in her innocent mind as if it had been
"I hope I'm not engaged to be married to him, EVEN IF HE DID--"
The sentence was too tremendous to be finished, even in thought.
"I don't think I can be; men must surely say something, and not
take it for granted you are in love with them and want to marry
them. It is what they say when they ask that I should like much
better than being married, when I'm only just past seventeen. I
wish Mark was a little different; I don't like his careless ways!
He admires me, I can tell one; that by the way he looks, but he
admires himself just as much, and expects me to do the same;
still, I suppose none of them are perfect, and girls have to
forgive lots of little things when they are engaged. Mother must
have forgiven a good many things when she took father. Anyway,
Mark is going away for a month on business, so I shan't have to
make up my mind just yet!" Here sleep descended upon the slightly
puzzled, but on the whole delightfully complacent, little
creature, bringing her most alluring and untrustworthy dreams.
The dear innocent had, indeed, no need of haste! Young Mr.
Marquis de Lafayette Wilson, Mark for short, was not in the least
a gay deceiver
or ruthless breaker of hearts, and, so far as known, no scalps of
village beauties were hung to his belt. He was a likable,
light-weight young chap, as indolent and pleasure-loving as the
strict customs of the community would permit; and a kiss, in his
mind, most certainly never would lead to the altar, else he had
already been many times a bridegroom. Miss Patience Baxter's
maiden meditations and uncertainties and perplexities, therefore,
were decidedly premature. She was a natural-born, unconsciously
artistic, highly expert, and finished coquette. She was all this
at seventeen, and Mark at twenty-four was by no means a match for
her in this field of effort, yet!--but sometimes, in getting her
victim into the net, the coquette loses her balance and falls in
herself. There wasn't a bit of harm in Marquis de Lafayette, but
he was extremely agile in keeping out of nets!
Waitstill was restless, too, that night, although she could not
have told the reason. She opened her window at the back of the
house and leaned out. The evening was mild with a soft wind
blowing. She could hear the full brook dashing through the edge
of the wood-lot, and even the "ker-chug" of an occasional
bull-frog. There were great misty stars in the sky, but no moon.
There was no light in Aunt Abby Cole's kitchen, but a faint
glimmer shone through the windows of Uncle Bart's joiner's shop,
showing that the old man was either having an hour of peaceful
contemplation with no companion but his pipe, or that there might
be a little group of privileged visitors, headed by Jed Morrill,
busily discussing the affairs of the nation.
Waitstill felt troubled and anxious to-night; bruised by the
little daily torments that lessened her courage but never wholly
destroyed it. Any one who believed implicitly in heredity might
have been puzzled, perhaps, to account for her. He might
fantastically picture her as making herself out of her ancestors,
using a free hand, picking and choosing what she liked best, with
due care for the effect of combinations; selecting here and there
and modifying, if advisable, a trait of Grandpa or Grandma
Foxwell, of Great-Uncle or Great-Aunt Baxter; borrowing qualities
lavishly from her own gently born and gently bred mother, and
carefully avoiding her respected father's Stock, except, perhaps,
to take a dash of his pluck and an ounce of his persistence. Jed
Morrill remarked of Deacon Baxter once: "When Old Foxy wants
anything he'11 wait till hell freezes over afore he'll give up."
Waitstill had her father's firm chin, but there the likeness
ended. The proud curve of her nostrils, the clear well-opened eye
with its deep fringe of lashes, the earnest mouth, all these came
from the mother who was little more than a dim memory.
Waitstill disdained any vague, dreary, colorless theory of life
and its meaning. She had joined the church at fifteen, more or
less because other girls did and the parson had persuaded her;
but out of her hard life she had somehow framed a courageous
philosophy that kept her erect and uncrushed, no matter how great
her difficulties. She had no idea of bringing a poor, weak,
draggled soul to her Maker at the last day, saying "Here is all I
have managed to save out of what you gave me!" That would be
something, she allowed, immeasurably something; but pitiful
compared with what she might do if she could keep a brave,
vigorous spirit and march to the last tribunal strengthened by
battles, struggles, defeats, victories; by the defense of weaker
human creatures, above all, warmed and vitalized by the pouring
out and gathering in of love.
Patty slept sweetly on the other side of the partition, the
contemplation of her twopenny triumphs bringing a smile to her
childish lips: but even so a good heart was there (still perhaps
in the process of making), a quick wit, ready sympathy, natural
charm; plenty, indeed, for the stronger sister to cherish,
protect, and hold precious, as she did, with all her mind and
There had always been a passionate loyalty in Waitstill's
affection, wherever it had been bestowed. Uncle Bart delighted in
telling an instance of it that occurred when she was a child of
five. Maine had just separated amicably from her mother,
Massachusetts, and become an independent state. It was in the
middle of March, but there was no snow on the ground and the
village boys had built a bonfire on a plot of land near Uncle
Bart's joiner's shop. There was a large gathering in celebration
of the historic event and Waitstill crept down the hill with her
homemade rag doll in her arms. She stood on the outskirts of the
crowd, a silent, absorbed little figure clad in a shabby woollen
coat, with a blue knit hood framing her rosy face. Deborah, her
beloved, her only doll, was tightly clasped in her arms, for
Debby, like her parent, had few pleasures and must not be denied
so great a one as this. Suddenly, one of the thoughtless young
scamps in the group, wishing to create a new sensation and add to
the general excitement, caught the doll from the child's arms,
and running forward with a loud war-whoop, flung it into the
flames. Waitstill did not lose an instant. She gave a scream Of
anguish, and without giving any warning of her intentions,
probably without realizing them herself, she dashed through the
little crowd into the bonfire and snatched her cherished
offspring from the burning pile. The whole thing was over in the
twinkling of an eye, for Uncle Bart was as quick as the child and
dragged her out of the imminent danger with no worse harm done
than a good scorching.
He led the little creature up the hill to explain matters and
protect her from a scolding. She still held the doll against her
heaving breast, saying, between her sobs: " I couldn't let my
Debby burn up! I couldn't, Uncle Bart; she's got nobody but me!
Is my dress scorched so much I can't wear it? You'11 tell father
how it was, Uncle Bart, won't you?"
Debby bore the marks of her adventure longer than her owner, for
she had been longer in the fire, but, stained and defaced as she
was, she was never replaced, and remained the only doll of
Waitstill's childhood. At this very moment she lay softly and
safely in a bureau drawer ready to be lifted out, sometime,
Waitstill fancied, and shown tenderly to Patty's children. Of her
own possible children she never thought. There was but one man in
the world who could ever be the father of them and she was
separated from him by every obstacle that could divide two human
THE JOINER'S SHOP
VILLAGE "Aunts" and "Uncles" were elected to that relationship by
the common consent of the community; their fitness being
established by great age, by decided individuality or
eccentricity of character, by uncommon lovableness, or by the
possession of an abundant wit and humor. There was no formality
about the thing; certain women were always called "Aunt Sukie,"
or "Aunt Hitty," or what not, while certain men were
distinguished as "Uncle Rish," or "Uncle Pel," without previous
arrangement, or the consent of the high contracting parties.
Such a couple were Cephas Cole's father and mother, Aunt Abby and
Uncle Bart. Bartholomew Cole's trade was that of a joiner; as for
Aunt Abby's, it can only be said that she made all trades her own
by sovereign right of investigation, and what she did not know
about her neighbor's occupations was unlikely to he discovered on
this side of Jordan. One of the villagers declared that Aunt Abby
and her neighbor, Mrs. Abel Day, had argued for an hour before
they could make a bargain about the method of disseminating a
certain important piece of news, theirs by exclusive right of
discovery and prior possession. Mrs. Day offered to give Mrs.
Cole the privilege of Saco Hill and Aunt Betty-Jack's, she
herself to take Guide-Board and Town-House Hills. Aunt Abby
quickly proved the injustice of this decision, saying that there
were twice as many families living in Mrs. Day's chosen territory
as there were in that allotted to her, so the river road to
Milliken's Mills was grudgingly awarded to Aunt Abby by way of
compromise, and the ladies started on what was a tour of mercy in
those days, the furnishing of a subject of discussion for long,
Uncle Bart's joiner's shop was at the foot of Guide-Board Hill on
the Riverboro side of the bridge, and it was the pleasantest spot
in the whole village. The shop itself had a cheery look, with its
weather-stained shingles, its small square windows, and its
hospitable door, half as big as the front side of the building.
The step was an old millstone too worn for active service, and
the piles of chips and shavings on each side of it had been there
for so many years that sweet-williams, clove pinks, and purple
phlox were growing in among them in the most irresponsible
fashion; while a morning-glory vine had crept up and curled
around a long-handled rake that had been standing against the
front of the house since early spring. There was an air of cosy
and amiable disorder about the place that would have invited
friendly confabulation even had not Uncle Bart's white head,
honest, ruddy face, and smiling welcome coaxed you in before you
were aware. A fine Nodhead apple tree shaded the side windows,
and underneath it reposed all summer a bright blue sleigh, for
Uncle Bart always described himself as being "plagued for shed
room" and kept things as he liked at the shop, having a "p'ison
neat " wife who did exactly the opposite at his house.
The seat of the sleigh was all white now with scattered fruit
blossoms, and one of Waitstill's earliest remembrances was of
going downhill with Patty toddling at her side; of Uncle Bart's
lifting them into the sleigh and permitting them to sit there and
eat the ripe red apples that had fallen from the tree. Uncle
Bart's son, Cephas (Patty's secret adorer), was a painter by
trade, and kept his pots and cans and brushes in a little
outhouse at the back, while Uncle Bart himself stood every day
behind his long joiner's bench almost knee-deep in shavings. How
the children loved to play with the white, satiny rings, making
them into necklaces, hanging them to their ears and weaving them
Wonderful houses could always be built in the corner of the shop,
out of the little odds and ends and "nubbins" of white pine, and
Uncle Bart was ever ready to cut or saw a special piece needed
for some great purpose.
The sound of the plane was sweet music in the old joiner's ears.
"I don't hardly know how I'd a made out if I'd had to work in a
mill," he said confidentially to Cephas. "The noise of a saw
goin' all day, coupled with your mother's tongue mornin's an'
evenin's, would 'a' been too much for my weak head. I'm a quiet
man, Cephas, a man that needs a peaceful shop where he can get
away from the comforts of home now and then, without shirkin' his
duty nor causin' gossip. If you should ever marry, Cephas,--which
don't look to me likely without you pick out a dif'rent girl,--I
'd advise you not to keep your stock o' paints in the barn or the
shed, for it's altogether too handy to the house and the
women-folks. Take my advice and have a place to yourself, even if
it's a small one. A shop or a barn has saved many a man's life
and reason Cephas, for it's ag'in' a woman's nature to have you
underfoot in the house without hectorin' you. Choose a girl
same's you would a horse that you want to hitch up into a span;
't ain't every two that'll stan' together without kickin'. When
you get the right girl, keep out of her way consid'able an'
there'll be less wear an' tear."
It was June and the countryside was so beautiful it seemed as if
no one could be unhappy, however great the cause. That was what
Waitstill Baxter thought as she sat down on the millstone step
for a word with the old joiner, her best and most understanding
friend in all the village.
"I've come to do my mending here with you," she said brightly, as
she took out her well-filled basket and threaded her needle.
"Isn't it a wonderful morning? Nobody could look the world in the
face and do a wrong thing on such a day, could they, Uncle Bart?"
The meadows were a waving mass of golden buttercups; the shallow
water at the river's edge just below the shop was blue with
spikes of arrow- weed; a bunch of fragrant water-lilies, gathered
from the mill-pond's upper levels, lay beside Waitstill's
mending-basket, and every foot of roadside and field within sight
was swaying with long-stemmed white and gold daisies. The June
grass, the friendly, humble, companionable grass, that no one
ever praises as they do the flowers, was a rich emerald green, a
velvet carpet fit for the feet of the angels themselves. And the
elms and maples! Was there ever such a year for richness of
foliage? And the sky, was it ever so blue or so clear, so far
away, or so completely like heaven, as you looked at its
reflection in the glassy surface of the river?
"Yes, it's a pretty good day," allowed Uncle Bart judicially as
he took a squint at his T-square. "I don' know's I should want to
start out an' try to beat it! The Lord can make a good many kinds
o' weather in the course of a year, but when He puts his mind on
to it, an' kind o' gives Himself a free hand, He can turn out a
June morning that must make the Devil sick to his stomach with
envy! All the same, Waity, my cow ain't behavin' herself any
better'n usual. She's been rampagin' since sun-up. I've seen
mother chasin' her out o' Mis' Day's garden-patch twice
a'ready!--It seems real good an' homey to see you settin' there
sewin' while I'm workin' at the bench. Cephas is down to the
store, so I s'pose your father's off somewheres?"
Perhaps the June grass was a little greener, the buttercups
yellower, the foliage more lacey, the sky bluer, because Deacon
Baxter had taken his luncheon in a pail under the wagon seat, and
departed on an unwilling journey to Moderation, his object being
to press the collection of some accounts too long overdue. There
was something tragic in the fact, Waitstill thought, that
whenever her father left the village for a whole day, life at
once grew brighter, easier, more hopeful. One could breathe
freely, speak one's heart out, believe in the future, when father
The girls had harbored many delightful plans at early breakfast.
As it was Saturday, Patty could catch little Rod Boynton, if he
came to the bridge on errands as usual; and if Ivory could spare
him for an hour at noon they would take their luncheon and eat it
together on the river-bank as Patty had promised him. At the last
moment, however, Deacon Baxter had turned around in the wagon and
said: "Patience, you go down to the store and have a regular
house-cleanin' in the stock-room. Git Cephas to lift what you
can't lift yourself, move everything in the place, sweep and dust
it, scrub the floor, wash the winder, and make room for the new
stuff that they'11 bring up from Mill-town 'bout noon. If you
have any time left over, put new papers on the shelves out front,
and clean up and fix the show winder. Don't stand round gabbin'
with Cephas, and see't he don't waste time that's paid for by me.
Tell him he might clean up the terbaccer stains round the stove,
black it, and cover it up for the summer if he ain't too busy
"The whole day spoiled!" wailed Patty, flinging herself down in
the kitchen rocker. "Father's powers of invention beat anything I
That stock-room could have been cleaned any time this month and
it's too heavy work for me anyway; it spoils my hands, grubbing
around those nasty, sticky, splintery boxes and barrels. Instead
of being out of doors, I've got to be shut up in that smelly,
rummy, tobacco-y, salt-fishy, pepperminty place with Cephas Cole!
He won't have a pleasant morning, I can tell you! I shall snap
his head off every time he speaks to me."
"So I would!" Waitstill answered composedly. "Everything is so
clearly his fault that I certainly would work off my temper on
Cephas! Still, I can think of a way to make matters come out
right. I've got a great basket of mending that must be done, and
you remember there's a choir rehearsal for the new anthem this
afternoon, but anyway I can help a little on the cleaning. Then
you can make Rodman do a few of the odd jobs, it will be a
novelty to him; and Cephas will work his fingers to the bone for
you, as you well know, if you treat him like a human being."
"All right!" cried Patty joyously, her mood changing in an
instant. "There's Rod coming over the bridge now! Toss me my
gingham apron and the scrubbing-brush, and the pail, and the tin
of soft soap, and the cleaning cloths; let's see, the broom's
down there, so I've got everything. If I wave a towel from the
store, pack up luncheon for three. You come down and bring your
mending; then, when you see how I'm getting on, we can consult.
I'm going to take the ten cents I've saved and spend it in
raisins. I can get a good many if Cephas gives me wholesale
price, with family discount substracted from that. Cephas would
treat me to candy in a minute, but if I let him we'd have to ask
him to the picnic! Good-bye!" And the volatile creature darted
down the hill singing, "There'll be something in heaven for
children to do," at the top of her healthy young lungs.
THE waving signal, a little later on, showed that Rodman could go
to the picnic, the fact being that he was having a holiday from
eleven o'clock until two, and Ivory was going to drive to the
bridge at noon, anyway, so his permission could then be asked.
Patty's mind might have been thought entirely on her ugly task as
she swept and dusted and scrubbed that morning, but the reverse
was true. Mark Wilson had gone away without saying good-bye to
her. This was not surprising, perhaps, as she was about as much
sequestered in her hilltop prison as a Turkish beauty in a harem;
neither was it astonishing that Mark did not write to her. He
never had written to her, and as her father always brought home
the very infrequent letters that came to the family, Mark knew
that any sentimental correspondence would be fraught with danger.
No, everything was probably just as it should be, and yet,--well,
Patty had expected during the last three weeks that something
would happen to break up the monotony of her former existence.
She hardly knew what it would be, but the kiss dropped so lightly
on her cheek by Mark Wilson still burned in remembrance, and made
her sure that it would have a sequel, or an explanation.
Mark's sister Ellen and Phil Perry were in the midst of some form
of lover's quarrel, and during its progress Phil was paying
considerable attention to Patty at Sabbath School and
prayer-meeting, occasions, it must be confessed, only provocative
of very indirect and long-distance advances. Cephas Cole, to the
amazement of every one but his (constitutionally) exasperated
mother, was "toning down" the ell of the family mansion,
mitigating the lively yellow, and putting another fresh coat of
paint on it, for no conceivable reason save that of pleasing the
eye of a certain capricious, ungrateful young hussy, who would
probably say, when her verdict was asked, that she didn't see any
particular difference in it, one way or another.
Trade was not especially brisk at the Deacon's emporium this
sunny June Saturday morning. Cephas may have possibly lost a
customer or two by leaving the store vacant while he toiled and
sweated for Miss Patience Baxter in the stockroom at the back,
overhanging the river, but no man alive could see his employer's
lovely daughter tugging at a keg of shingle nails without trying
to save her from a broken back, although Cephas could have
watched his mother move the house and barn without feeling the
slightest anxiety in her behalf. If he could ever get the "heft"
of the "doggoned" cleaning out of the way so that Patty's mind
could be free to entertain his proposition; could ever secure one
precious moment of silence when she was not slatting and banging,
pushing and pulling things about, her head and ears out of sight
under a shelf, and an irritating air of absorption about her
whole demeanor; if that moment of silence could ever, under
Providence, be simultaneous with the absence of customers in the
front shop, Cephas intended to offer himself to Patience Baxter
that very morning.
Once, during a temporary lull in the rear, he started to meet his
fate when Rodman Boynton followed him into the back room, and the
boy was at once set to work by Patty, who was the most consummate
slave-driver in the State of Maine. After half an hour there was
another Heavensent chance, when Rodman went up to Uncle Bart's
shop with a message for Waitstill, but, just then, in came Bill
Morrill, a boy of twelve, with a request for a gallon of
molasses; and would Cephas lend him a stone jug over Sunday, for
his mother had hers soakin' out in soap-suds 'cause 't wa'n't
smellin' jest right. Bill's message given, he hurried up the road
on another errand, promising to call for the molasses later.
Cephas put the gallon measure under the spigot of the molasses