Part 2 out of 5
hogshead and turned on the tap. The task was going to be a long
one and he grew impatient, for the stream was only a slender
trickle, scarcely more than the slow dripping of drops, so the
molasses must be very never low, and with his mind full of
weightier affairs he must make a note to tell the Deacon to
broach a new hogshead. Cephas feared that he could never make
out a full gallon, in which case Mrs. Morrill would be vexed, for
she kept mill boarders and baked quantities of brown bread and
gingerbread and molasses cookies for over Sunday. He did wish
trade would languish altogether on this particular morning. The
minutes dragged by and again there was perfect quiet in the
stock-room. As the door opened, Cephas, taking his last chance,
went forward to meet Patty, who was turning down the skirt of her
dress, taking the cloth off her head, smoothing her hair, and
tying on a clean white ruffed apron, in which she looked as
pretty as a pink.
"Patty! "stammered Cephas, seizing his golden opportunity,
"Patty, keep your mind on me for a minute. I've put a new coat o'
paint on the ell just to please you; won't you get married and
settle down with me? I love you so I can't eat nor drink nor
'tend store nor nothin'!"
"Oh, I--I--couldn't, Cephas, thank you; I just couldn't,--don't
ask me," cried Patty, as nervous as Cephas himself now that her
first offer had really come; "I'm only seventeen and I don't feel
like settling down, Cephas, and father wouldn't think of letting
me get married."
"Don't play tricks on me, Patty, and keep shovin' me off so, an'
givin' wrong reasons," pleaded Cephas. "What's the trouble with
me? I know mother's temper's onsartain, but we never need go into
the main house daytimes and father'd allers stand up ag'in' her
if she didn't treat you right. I've got a good trade and father
has a hundred dollars o' my savin's that I can draw out to-morrer
if you'll have me."
"I can't, Cephas; don't move; stay where you are; no, don't come
any nearer; I'm not fond of you that way, and, besides,--and,
Her blush and her evident embarrassment gave Cephas a new fear.
"You ain't promised a'ready, be you?" he asked anxiously; "when
there ain't a feller anywheres around that's ever stepped foot
over your father's doorsill but jest me?"
"I haven't promised anything or anybody,"
Patty answered sedately, gaining her self-control by degrees,
"but I won't deny that I'm considering; that's true!"
"Considerin' who?" asked Cephas, turning pale.
"Oh,--SEVERAL, if you must know the truth"; and Patty's tone was
cruel in its jauntiness.
"SEVERAL!" The word did not sound like ordinary work-a-day
Riverboro English in Cephas's ears. He knew that "several" meant
more than one, but he was too stunned to define the term properly
in its present strange connection.
"Whoever 't is wouldn't do any better by you'n I would. I'd take
a lickin' for you any day," Cephas exclaimed abjectly, after a
"That wouldn't make any difference, Cephas," said Patty firmly,
moving towards the front door as if to end the interview. "If I
don't love you UNlicked, I couldn't love you any better licked,
now, could I?--Goodness gracious, what am I stepping in? Cephas,
quick! Something has been running all over the floor. My feet are
sticking to it."
"Good Gosh! It's Mis' Morrill's molasses!" cried Cephas, brought
to his senses suddenly.
It was too true! Whatever had been the small obstruction in the
tap, it had disappeared. The gallon measure had been filled to
the brim ten minutes before, and ever since, the treacly liquid
had been overflowing the top and spreading in a brown flood,
unnoticed, over the floor. Patty's feet were glued to it, her
buff calico skirts lifted high to escape harm.
"I can't move," she cried. "Oh! You stupid, stupid Cephas, how
could you leave the molasses spigot turned on? See what you've
done! You've wasted quarts and quarts! What will father say, and
how will you ever clean up such a mess? You never can get the
floor to look so that he won't notice it, and he is sure to miss
the molasses. You've ruined my shoes, and I simply can't bear the
sight of you!"
At this Cephas all but blubbered in the agony of his soul. It was
bad enough to be told by Patty that she was "considering
several," but his first romance had ended in such complete
disaster that he saw in a vision his life blasted; changed in one
brief moment from that of a prosperous young painter to that of a
blighted and despised bungler, whose week's wages were likely to
be expended in molasses to make good the Deacon's loss.
"Find those cleaning-cloths I left in the hack room," ordered
Patty with a flashing eye. "Get some blocks, or bits of board, or
stones, for me to walk on, so that I can get out of your nasty
mess. Fill Bill Morrill's jug, quick, and set it out on the steps
for him to pick up. I don't know what you'd do without me to plan
for you! Lock the front door and hang father's sign that he's
gone to dinner on the doorknob. Scoop up all the molasses you can
with one of those new trowels on the counter. Scoop, and scrape,
and scoop, and scrape; then put a cloth on your oldest broom,
pour lots of water on, pail after pail, and swab! When you've
swabbed till it won't do any more good, then scrub! After that, I
shouldn't wonder if you had to fan the floor with a newspaper or
it'll never get dry before father comes home. I'll sit on the
flour barrel a little while and advise, but I can't stay long
because I'm going to a picnic. Hurry up and don't look as if you
were going to die any minute! It's no use crying over spilt
molasses. You don't suppose I'm going to tell any tales after
you've made me an offer of marriage, do you? I'm not so mean as
all that, though I may have my faults."
It was nearly two o'clock before the card announcing Deacon
Baxter's absence at dinner was removed from the front doorknob,
and when the store was finally reopened for business it was a
most dejected clerk who dealt out groceries to the public. The
worst feature of the affair was that every one in the two
villages suddenly and contemporaneously wanted molasses, so that
Cephas spent the afternoon reviewing his misery by continually
turning the tap and drawing off the fatal liquid. Then, too,
every inquisitive boy in the neighborhood came to the back of the
store to view the operation, exclaiming: "What makes the floor so
wet? Hain't been spillin' molasses, have yer? Bet yer have! Good
joke on Old Foxy!"
ON TORY HILL
It had been a heavenly picnic the little trio all agreed as to
that; and when Ivory saw the Baxter girls coming up the shady
path that led along the river from the Indian Cellar to the
bridge, it was a merry group and a transfigured Rodman that
caught his eye. The boy, trailing on behind with the baskets and
laden with tin dippers and wildflowers, seemed another creature
from the big-eyed, quiet little lad he saw every day. He had
chattered like a magpie, eaten like a bear, is torn his jacket
getting wild columbines for Patty, been nicely darned by
Waitstill, and was in a state of hilarity that rendered him quite
"We've had a lovely picnic!" called Patty; "I wish you had been
"You didn't ask me!" smiled Ivory, picking up Waitstill's
mending-basket from the nook in the trees where she had hidden it
"We've played games, Ivory," cried the boy. 'Patty made them up
herself. First we had the 'Landing of the Pilgrims,' and
Waitstill made believe be the figurehead of the Mayflower. She
stood on a great boulder and sang:--
'The breaking waves dashed high
On a stern and rock-bound coast'--
and, oh! she was splendid! Then Patty was Pocahontas and I was
Cap'n John Smith, and look, we are all dressed up for the Indian
Waitstill had on a crown of white birch bark and her braid of
hair, twined with running ever-green, fell to her waist. Patty
was wreathed with columbines and decked with some turkey feathers
that she had put in her basket as too pretty to throw away.
Waitstill looked rather conscious in her unusual finery, but
Patty sported it with the reckless ease and innocent vanity that
"I shall have to run into father's store to put myself tidy,"
Waitstill said, "so good-bye, Rodman, we'll have another picnic
some day. Patty, you must do the chores this afternoon, you know,
so that I can go to choir rehearsal,"
Rodman and Patty started up the hill gayly with their burdens,
and Ivory walked by Waitstill's side as she pulled off her
birch-bark crown and twisted her braid around her head with a
heightened color at being watched.
"I'11 say good-bye now, Ivory, but I'11 see you at the
meeting-house," she said, as she neared the store. "I'll go in
here and brush the pine needles off, wash my hands, and rest a
little before rehearsal. That's a puzzling anthem we have for
"I have my horse here; let me drive you up to the church."
"I can't, Ivory, thank you. Father's orders are against my
driving out with any one, you know."
"Very well, the road is free, at any rate. I'll hitch my horse
down here in the woods somewhere and when you start to walk I
shall follow and catch up with you. There's luckily only one way
to reach the church from here, and your father can't blame us if
we both take it!"
And so it fell out that Ivory and Waitstill walked together in
the cool of the afternoon to the meeting-house on Tory Hill.
Waitstill kept the beaten path on one side and Ivory that on the
other, so that the width of the country road, deep in dust, was
between them, yet their nearness seemed so tangible a thing that
each could feel the heart beating in the other's side.
Their talk was only that of tried friends, a talk interrupted by
long beautiful silences; silences that come only to a man and
woman whose understanding of each other is beyond question and
answer. Not a sound broke the stillness, yet the very air, it
seemed to them, was shedding meanings: the flowers were exhaling
a love secret with their fragrances, the birds were singing it
boldly from the tree-tops, yet no word passed the man's lips or
the girl's. Patty would have hung out all sorts of signals and
lures to draw the truth from Ivory and break through the walls of
his self-control, but Waitstill, never; and Ivory Boynton was
made of stuff so strong that he would not speak a syllable of
love to a woman unless he could say all. He was only
five-and-twenty, but he had been reared in a rigorous school, and
had learned in its poverty, loneliness, and anxiety lessons of
self-denial and self-control that bore daily fruit now. He knew
that Deacon Baxter would never allow any engagement to exist
between Waitstill and himself; he also knew that Waitstill would
never defy and disobey her father if it meant leaving her younger
sister to fight alone a dreary battle for which she was not
fitted. If there was little hope on her side there seemed even
less on his. His mother's mental illness made her peculiarly
dependent upon him, and at the same time held him in such strict
bondage that it was almost impossible for him to get on in the
world or even to give her the comforts she needed. In villages
like Riverboro in those early days there was no putting away,
even of men or women so demented as to be something of a menace
to the peace of the household; but Lois Boynton was so gentle, so
fragile, so exquisite a spirit, that she seemed in her sad
aloofness simply a thing to be sheltered and shielded somehow in
her difficult life journey. Ivory often thought how sorely she
needed a daughter in her affliction. If the baby sister had only
lived, the home might have been different; but alas! there was
only a son,--a son who tried to be tender and sympathetic, but
after all was nothing but a big, clumsy, uncomprehending
man-creature, who ought to be felling trees, ploughing, sowing,
reaping, or at least studying law, making his own fortune and
that of some future wife. Old Mrs. Mason, a garrulous,
good-hearted grandame, was their only near neighbor, and her
visits always left his mother worse rather than better. How such
a girl as Waitstill would pour comfort and beauty and joy into a
lonely house like his, if only he were weak enough to call upon
her strength and put it to so cruel a test. God help him, he
would never do that, especially as he could not earn enough to
keep a larger family, bound down as he was by inexorable
responsibilities. Waitstill, thus far in life, had suffered many
sorrows and enjoyed few pleasures; marriage ought to bring her
freedom and plenty, not carking care and poverty. He stole long
looks at the girl across the separating space that was so
helpless to separate,--feeding his starved heart upon her womanly
graces. Her quick, springing step was in harmony with the fire
and courage of her mien. There was a line or two in her
face,--small wonder; but an "unconquerable soul" shone in her
eyes; shone, too, in no uncertain way, but brightly and steadily,
expressing an unshaken joy in living. Valiant, splendid,
indomitable Waitstill! He could never tell her, alas! but how he
gloried in her!
It is needless to say that no woman could be the possessor of
such a love as Ivory Boynton's and not know of its existence.
Waitstill never heard a breath of it from Ivory's lips; even his
eyes were under control and confessed nothing; nor did his hand
ever clasp hers, to show by a tell-tale touch the truth he dared
not utter; nevertheless she felt that she was beloved. She hid
the knowledge deep in her heart and covered it softly from every
eye but her own; taking it out in the safe darkness sometimes to
wonder over and adore in secret. Did her love for Ivory rest
partly on a sense of vocation?--a profound, inarticulate divining
of his vast need of her? He was so strong, yet so weak because of
the yoke he bore, so bitterly alone in his desperate struggle
with life, that her heart melted like wax whenever she thought of
him. When she contemplated the hidden mutiny in her own heart,
she was awestruck sometimes at the almost divine patience of
Ivory's conduct as a son.
"How is your mother this summer, Ivory?" she asked as they sat
down on the meeting-house steps waiting for Jed Morrill to open
"There is little change in her from year to year, Waitstill.--By
the way, why don't we get out of this afternoon sun and sit in
the old graveyard under the trees? We are early and the choir
won't get here for half an hour.--Dr. Perry says that he does not
case in the least, and that no one but some great Boston
physician could give a proper opinion on it; of course, that is
impossible at present."
They sat down on the grass underneath one of the elms and
Waitstill took off her hat and leaned back against the
"Tell me more," she said; "it is so long since we talked together
quietly and we have never really spoken of your mother."
"Of course," Ivory continued, "the people of the village all
think and speak of mother's illness as religious insanity, but to
me it seems nothing of the sort. I was only a child when father
first fell ill with Jacob Cochrane, but I was twelve when father
went away from home on his 'mission,' and if there was any one
suffering from delusions in our family it was he, not mother. She
had altogether given up going to the Cochrane meetings, and I
well remember the scene when my father told her of the revelation
he had received about going through the state and into New
Hampshire in order to convert others and extend the movement. She
had no sympathy with his self-imposed mission, you may be sure,
though now she goes back in her memory to the earlier days of her
married life, when she tried hard, poor soul, to tread the same
path that father was treading, so as to be by his side at every
turn of the road.
"I am sure" (here Ivory's tone was somewhat dry and satirical)
"that father's road had many turns, Waitstill! He was a
schoolmaster in Saco, you know, when I was born but he soon
turned from teaching to preaching, and here my mother followed
with entire sympathy, for she was intensely, devoutly religious.
I said there was little change in her, but there is one new
symptom. She has ceased to refer to her conversion to Cochranism
as a blessed experience. Her memory of those first days seems to
have faded, As to her sister's death and all the circumstances of
her bringing Rodman home, her mind is a blank. Her expectation of
father's return, on the other hand, is much more intense than
"She must have loved your father dearly, Ivory, and to lose him
in this terrible way is much worse than death. Uncle Bart says he
had a great gift of language!"
"Yes, and it was that, in my mind, that led him astray. I fear
that the Spirit of God was never so strong in father as the
desire to influence people by his oratory. That was what drew him
to preaching in the first place, and when he found in ,Jacob
Cochrane a man who could move an audience to frenzy, lift them
out of the body, and do with their spirits as he willed, he
acknowledged him as master. Whether his gospel was a pure and
undefiled religion I doubt, but he certainly was a master of
mesmeric control. My mother was beguiled, entranced, even
bewitched at first, I doubt not, for she translated all that
Cochrane said into her own speech, and regarded him as the
prophet of a new era. But Cochrane's last 'revelations' differed
from the first, and were of the earth, earthy. My mother's pure
soul must have revolted, but she was not strong enough to drag
father from his allegiance. Mother was of better family than
father, but they were both well educated and had the best
schooling to be had in their day. So far as I can judge, mother
always had more 'balance' than father, and much better
judgment,--yet look at her now!"
"Then you think it was your father's disappearance that really
caused her mind to waver? " asked Waitstill.
"I do, indeed. I don't know what happened between them in the way
of religious differences, nor how much unhappiness these may have
caused. I remember she had an illness when we first came here to
live and I was a little chap of three or four, but that was
caused by the loss of a child, a girl, who lived only a few
weeks. She recovered perfectly, and her head was as clear as mine
for a year or two after father went away. As his letters grew
less frequent, as news of him gradually ceased to come, she
became more and more silent, and retired more completely into
herself. She never went anywhere, nor entertained visitors,
because she did not wish to hear the gossip and speculation that
were going on in the village. Some of it was very hard for a wife
to bear, and she resented it indignantly; yet never received a
word from father with which to refute it. At this time, as nearly
as I can judge, she was a recluse, and subject to periods of
profound melancholy, but nothing worse. Then she took that winter
journey to her sister's deathbed, brought home the boy, and,
hastened by exposure and chill and grief, I suppose, her mind
gave way,--that's all!" And Ivory sighed drearily as he stretched
himself on the greensward, and looked off towards the snow-clad
New Hampshire hills." I've meant to write the story of the
'Cochrane craze' sometime, or such part of it as has to do with
my family history, and you shall read it if you like. I should
set down my child-hood and my boyhood memories, together with
such scraps of village hearsay as seem reliable. You were not so
much younger than I, but I was in the thick of the excitement,
and naturally I heard more than you, having so bitter a reason
for being interested. Jacob Cochrane has altogether disappeared
from public view, but there's many a family in Maine and New
Hampshire, yes, and in the far West, that will feel his influence
for years to come."
"I should like very much to read your account. Aunt Abby's
version, for instance, is so different from Uncle Bart's that one
can scarcely find the truth between the two; and father's bears
no relation to that of any of the others."
"Some of us see facts and others see visions, replied Ivory, "and
these differences of opinion crop up in the village every day
when anything noteworthy is discussed. I came upon a quotation in
my reading last evening that described it:
'One said it thundered . . . another that an angel spake'"
"Do you feel as if your father was dead, Ivory?"
"I can only hope so! That thought brings sadness with it, as one
remembers his disappointment and failure, but if he is alive he
is a traitor."
There was a long pause and they could see in the distance
Humphrey Barker with his clarionet and Pliny Waterhouse with his
bass viol driving up to the churchyard fence to hitch their
horses. The sun was dipping low and red behind the Town-House
Hill on the other side of the river.
"What makes my father dislike the very mention of yours?" asked
Waitstill. "I know what they say: that it is because the two men
had high words once in a Cochrane meeting, when father tried to
interfere with some of the exercises and was put out of doors. It
doesn't seem as if that grievance, seventeen or eighteen years
ago, would influence his opinion of your mother, or of you."
"It isn't likely that a man of your father's sort would forget or
forgive what he considered an injury; and in refusing to have
anything to do with the son of a disgraced man and a deranged
woman, he is well within his rights."
Ivory's cheeks burned red under the tan, and his hand trembled a
little as he plucked bits of clover from the grass and pulled
them to pieces absent-mindedly. "How are you getting on at home
these days, Waitstill?" he asked, as if to turn his own mind and
hers from a too painful subject.
"You have troubles enough of your own without hearing mine,
Ivory, and anyway they are not big afflictions, heavy sorrows,
like those you have to bear. Mine are just petty, nagging,
sordid, cheap little miseries, like gnat-bites;--so petty and so
sordid that I can hardly talk to God about them, much less to a
human friend. Patty is my only outlet and I need others, yet I
find it almost impossible to escape from the narrowness of my
life and be of use to any one else." The girl's voice quivered
and a single tear-drop on her cheek showed that she was speaking
from a full heart. "This afternoon's talk has determined me in
one thing," she went on. "I am going to see your mother now and
then. I shall have to do it secretly, for your sake, for hers,
and for my own, but if I am found out, then I will go openly.
There must be times when one can break the lower law, and yet
keep the higher. Father's law, in this case, is the lower, and I
propose to break it."
"I can't have you getting into trouble, Waitstill," Ivory
objected. "You're the one woman I can think of who might help my
mother; all the same, I would not make your life harder; not for
"It will not be harder, and even if it was I should 'count it all
joy' to help a woman bear such sorrow as your mother endures
patiently day after day"; and Waitstill rose to her feet and tied
on her hat as one who had made up her mind.
It was almost impossible for Ivory to hold his peace then, so
full of gratitude was his soul and so great his longing to pour
out the feeling that flooded it. He pulled himself together and
led the way out of the churchyard. To look at Waitstill again
would be to lose his head, but to his troubled heart there came a
flood of light, a glory from that lamp that a woman may hold up
for a man; a glory that none can take from him, and none can
darken; a light by which he may walk and live and die.
A JUNE SUNDAY
IT was a Sunday in June, and almost the whole population of
Riverboro and Edgewood was walking or driving in the direction of
the meeting-house on Tory Hill.
Church toilettes, you may well believe, were difficult of
attainment by Deacon Baxter's daughters, as they had been by his
respective helpmates in years gone by. When Waitstill's mother
first asked her husband to buy her a new dress, and that was two
years after marriage, he simply said: "You look well enough; what
do you want to waste money on finery for, these hard times? If
other folks are extravagant, that ain't any reason you should be.
You ain't obliged to take your neighbors for an example:--take
'em for a warnin'!"
"But, Foxwell, my Sunday dress is worn completely to threads,"
urged the second Mrs. Baxter.
"That's what women always say; they're all alike; no more idea o'
savin' anything than a skunk-blackbird! I can't spare any money
gew-gaws, and you might as well understand it first as last. Go
up attic and open the hair trunk by the winder; you'll find
plenty there to last you for years to come."
The second Mrs. Baxter visited the attic as commanded, and in
turning over the clothes in the old trunk, knew by instinct that
they had belonged to her predecessor in office. Some of the
dresses were neat, though terribly worn and faded, but all were
fortunately far too short and small for a person of her fine
proportions. Besides, her very soul shrank from wearing them, and
her spirit revolted both from the insult to herself and to the
poor dead woman she had succeeded, so she came downstairs to darn
and mend and patch again her shabby wardrobe.
Waitstill had gone through the same as her mother before her, but
in despair, when she was seventeen, she began to cut over the old
garments for herself and Patty. Mercifully there were very few of
them, and they had long since been discarded. At eighteen she had
learned to dye yarns with yellow oak or maple bark and to make
purples from elder and sumac berries; she could spin and knit as
well as any old "Aunt" of the village, and cut and shape a
garment as deftly as the Edgewood tailoress, but the task of
making bricks without straw was a hard one, indeed.
She wore a white cotton frock on this particular Sunday. It was
starched and ironed with a beautiful gloss, while a touch of
distinction was given to her costume by a little black sleeveless
"roundabout" made out of the covering of an old silk umbrella.
Her flat hat had a single wreath of coarse daisies around the
crown, and her mitts were darned in many places, nevertheless you
could not entirely spoil her; God had used a liberal hand in
making her, and her father's parsimony was a sort of boomerang
that flew back chiefly upon himself.
As for Patty, her style of beauty, like Cephas Cole's ell had to
be toned down rather than up, to be effective, but circumstances
had been cruelly unrelenting in this process of late. Deacon
Baxter had given the girls three or four shopworn pieces of faded
yellow calico that had been repudiated by the village housewives
as not "fast" enough in color to bear the test of proper washing.
This had made frocks, aprons, petticoats, and even underclothes,
for two full years, and Patty's weekly objurgations when she
removed her everlasting yellow dress from the nail where it hung
were not such as should have
fallen from the lips of a deacon's daughter. Waitstill had taken
a piece of the same yellow material, starched and ironed it, cut
a curving, circular brim from it, sewed in a pleated crown, and
lo! a hat for Patty! What inspired Patty to put on a waist ribbon
of deepest wine color, with a little band of the same on the pale
yellow hat, no one could say.
"Do you think you shall like that dull red right close to the
yellow, Patty? " Waitstill asked anxiously.
"It looks all right on the columbines in the Indian Cellar,"
replied Patty, turning and twisting the hat on her head. "If we
can't get a peek at the Boston fashions, we must just find our
styles where we can!"
The various roads to Tory Hill were alive with vehicles on this
bright Sunday morning. Uncle Bart and Abel Day, with their
respective wives on the back seat of the Cole's double wagon,
were passed by Deacon Baxter and his daughters, Waitstill being
due at meeting earlier than others by reason of her singing in
the choir. The Deacon's one-horse, two-wheeled "shay" could hold
three persons, with comfort on its broad seat, and the
twenty-year-old mare, although she was always as hollow as a
gourd, could generally do the mile, uphill all the way, in half
an hour, if urged continually, and the Deacon, be it said, if not
good at feeding, was unsurpassed at urging.
Aunt Abby Cole could get only a passing glimpse of Patty in the
depths of the "shay," but a glimpse was always enough for her, as
her opinion of the girl's charms was considerably affected by the
forlorn condition of her son Cephas, whom she suspected of being
hopelessly in love with the young person aforesaid, to whom she
commonly alluded as "that red-headed bag-gage."
"Patience Baxter's got the kind of looks that might do well
enough at a tavern dance, or a husking, but they're entirely
unsuited to the Sabbath day or the meetin'-house," so Aunt Abby
remarked to Mrs. Day in the way of backseat confidence. "It's
unfortunate that a deacon's daughter should be afflicted with
that bold style of beauty! Her hair's all but red; in fact, you
might as well call it red, when the sun shines on it: but if
she'd ever smack it down with bear's grease she might darken it
some; or anyhow she'd make it lay slicker; but it's the kind of
hair that just matches that kind of a girl,--sort of up an'
comin'! Then her skin's so white and her cheeks so pink and her
eyes so snappy that she'd attract attention without half trying
though I guess she ain't above makin' an effort."
"She's innnocent as a kitten," observed Mrs. Day impartially.
"Oh, yes, she's innocent enough an' I hope she'll keep so!
Waitstill's a sight han'somer, if the truth was told; but she's
the sort of girl that's made for one man and the rest of em never
look at her. The other one's cut out for the crowd, the more the
merrier. She's a kind of man-trap, that girl is!--Do urge the
horse a little mite, Bartholomew! It makes me kind o' hot to be
passed by Deacon Baxter. It's Missionary Sunday, too, when he
gen'ally has rheumatism too bad to come out."
"I wonder if he ever puts anything into the plate," said Mrs.
Day. "No one ever saw him, that I know of."
"The Deacon keeps the Thou Shalt Not commandments pretty well,"
was Aunt Abby's terse response. "I guess he don't put nothin'
into the plate, but I s'pose we'd ought to be thankful he don't
take nothin' out. The Baptists are gettin' ahead faster than
they'd ought to, up to the Mills. Our minister ain't no kind of a
proselyter, Seems as if he didn't care how folks got to heaven so
long as they got there! The other church is havin' a service this
afternoon side o' the river, an' I'd kind o' like to go, except
it would please 'em too much to have a crowd there to see the
immersion. They tell me, but I don't know how true, that that
Tillman widder woman that come here from somewheres in Vermont
wanted to be baptized to-day, but the other converts declared
THEY wouldn't be, if she was!"
"Jed Morrill said they'd have to hold her under water quite a
spell to do any good," chuckled Uncle Bart from the front seat.
"Well, I wouldn't repeat it, Bartholomew, on the Sabbath day; not
if he did say it. Jed Morrill's responsible for more blasphemious
jokes than any man in Edgewood. I don't approve of makin' light
of anybody's religious observances if they're ever so foolish,"
said Aunt Abby somewhat enigmatically. "Our minister keeps
remindin' us that the Baptists and Methodists are our brethren,
but I wish he'd be a little more anxious to have our S'ceity keep
ahead of the others."
"Jed's 'bout right in sizin' up the Widder Tillman," was Mr.
Day's timid contribution to the argument." I ain't a readin' man,
but from what folks report I should think she was one o' them
critters that set on rocks bewilderin' an' bedevilin' men-folks
out o' their senses--SYREENS, I think they call 'em; a reg'lar
SYREEN is what that woman is, I guess!"
"There, there, Abel, you wouldn't know a syreen if you found one
in your baked beans, so don't take away a woman's character on
hearsay." And Mrs. Day, having shut up her husband as was her
bounden duty as a wife and a Christian, tied her bonnet strings a
little tighter and looked distinctly pleased with herself.
"Abel ain't startin' any new gossip," was Aunt Abby's opinion, as
she sprung to his rescue. "One or two more holes in a colander
don't make much dif'rence.--Bartholomew, we're certainly goin' to
be late this mornin'; we're about the last team on the road"; and
Aunt Abby glanced nervously behind. "Elder Boone ain't begun the
openin' prayer, though, or we should know it. You can hear him
pray a mile away, when the wind's right. I do hate to be late to
meetin'. The Elder allers takes notice; the folks in the wing
pews allers gapes an' stares, and the choir peeks through the
curtain, takin' notes of everything you've got on your back. I
hope to the land they'll chord and keep together a little mite
better 'n they've done lately, that's all I can say! If the Lord
is right in our midst as the Bible says, He can't think much of
our singers this summer!"
"They're improvin', now that Pliny Waterhouse plays his fiddle,"
Mrs. Day remarked pacifically. "There was times in the anthem
when they kept together consid'able well last Sunday. They didn't
always chord, but there, they chorded some!--we're most there
now, Abby, don't fret! Cephas won't ring the last bell till he
knows his own folks is crossin' the Common!"
Those were days of conscientious church-going and every pew in
the house was crowded. The pulpit was built on pillars that
raised it six feet higher than the floor; the top was cushioned
and covered with red velvet surmounted by a huge gilt-edged
Bible. There was a window in the tower through which Cephas Cole
could look into the church, and while tolling the bell could keep
watch for the minister. Always exactly on time, he would come in,
walk slowly up the right-hand aisle, mount the pulpit stairs,
enter and close the door after him. Then Cephas would give one
tremendous pull to warn loiterers on the steps; a pull that
meant, "Parson's in the pulpit!" and was acted upon accordingly.
Opening the big Bible, the minister raised his right hand
impressively, and saying, "Let us pray," the whole congregation
rose in their pews with a great rustling and bowed their heads
devoutly for the invocation.
Next came the hymn, generally at that day one of Isaac Watts's.
The singers, fifteen or twenty in number, sat in a raised gallery
opposite the pulpit, and there was a rod in front hung with red
curtains to hide them when sitting down. Any one was free to
join, which perhaps accounted for Aunt Abby's strictures as to
time and tune. Jed Morrill, "blasphemious" as he was considered
by that acrimonious lady, was the leader, and a good one, too.
There would be a great whispering and buzzing when Deacon Sumner
with his big fiddle and Pliny Waterhouse with his smaller one
would try to get in accord with Humphrey Baker and his clarionet.
All went well when Humphrey was there to give the sure key-note,
but in his absence Jed Morrill would use his tuning-fork. When
the key was finally secured by all concerned, Jed would raise his
stick, beat one measure to set the time, and all joined in, or
fell in, according to their several abilities. It was not always
a perfect thing in the way of a start, but they were well
together at the end of the first line, and when, as now, the
choir numbered a goodly number of voices, and there were three or
four hundred in the pews, nothing more inspiring in its peculiar
way was ever heard, than the congregational singing of such
splendid hymns as "Old Hundred," "Duke Street," or " Coronation."
Waitstill led the trebles, and Ivory was at the far end of the
choir in the basses, but each was conscious of the other's
presence. This morning he could hear her noble voice rising a
little above, or, perhaps from its quality, separating itself
somehow, ever so little, from the others. How full of strength
and hope it was, her voice! How steadfast to the pitch; how
golden its color; how moving in its crescendos! How the words
flowed from her lips; not as if they had been written years ago,
but as if they were the expression of her own faith. There were
many in the congregation who were stirred, they knew not why,
when there chanced to be only a few "carrying the air" and they
could really hear Waitstill Baxter singing some dear old hymn,
full of sacred memories, like:-
"While Thee I seek, protecting Power,
Be my vain wishes stilled!
And may this consecrated hour
With better hopes be filled."
"There may be them in Boston that can sing louder, and they may
be able to run up a little higher than Waitstill, but the
question is, could any of 'em make Aunt Abby Cole shed tears?"
This was Jed Morrill's tribute to his best soprano.
There were Sunday evening prayer-meetings, too, held at "early
candlelight," when Waitstill and Lucy Morrill would make a duet
of "By cool Siloam's Shady Rill," or the favorite "Naomi," and
the two fresh young voices, rising and falling in the tender
thirds of the old tunes, melted all hearts to new willingness of
"Father, whate'er of earthly bliss
Thy sov'reign will denies,
Accepted at Thy Throne of grace
Let this petition rise!
"Give me a calm, a thankful heart,
From every murmur free!
The blessing of Thy grace impart
And let me live to Thee!"
How Ivory loved to hear Waitstill sing these lines! How they
eased his burden as they were easing hers, falling on his
impatient, longing heart like evening dew on thirsty grass!
THE GREEN-EYED MONSTER
"WHILE Thee I seek, protecting Power," was the first hymn on this
particular Sunday morning, and it usually held Patty's rather
vagrant attention to the end, though it failed to do so to-day.
The Baxters occupied one of the wing pews, a position always to
be envied, as one could see the singers without turning around,
and also observe everybody in the congregation,--their entrance,
garments, behavior, and especially their bonnets,--without being
in the least indiscreet, or seeming to have a roving eye.
Lawyer Wilson's pew was the second in front of the Baxters in the
same wing, and Patty, seated decorously but unwillingly beside
her father, was impatiently awaiting the entrance of the family,
knowing that Mark would be with them if he had returned from
Boston. Timothy Grant, the parish clerk, had the pew in between,
and afforded a most edifying spectacle to the community, as there
were seven young Grants of a church-going age, and the ladies of
the congregation were always counting them, reckoning how many
more were in their cradles at home and trying to guess from Mrs.
Grant's lively or chastened countenance whether any new ones had
been born since the Sunday before.
Patty settled herself comfortably, and put her foot on the wooden
"cricket," raising her buff calico a little on the congregation
side, just enough to show an inch or two of petticoat. The
petticoat was as modestly long as the frock itself, and
disclosing a bit of it was nothing more heinous than a casual
exhibition of good needlework. Deacon Baxter furnished only the
unbleached muslin for his daughters' undergarments; but twelve
little tucks laboriously done by hand, elaborate inch-wide
edging, crocheted from white spool cotton, and days of bleaching
on the grass in the sun, will make a petticoat that can be shown
in church with some justifiable pride.
The Wilsons came up the aisle a moment later than was their usual
habit, just after the parson had ascended the pulpit. Mrs. Wilson
always entered the pew first and sat in the far end. Patty had
looked at her admiringly, and with a certain feeling of
proprietorship, for several Sundays. There was obviously no such
desirable mother-in-law in the meeting-house. Her changeable silk
dress was the latest mode; her shawl of black llama lace
expressed wealth in every delicate mesh, and her bonnet had a
distinction that could only have emanated from Portland or
Boston. Ellen Wilson usually came in next, with as much of a
smile to Patty in passing as she dared venture in the Deacon's
presence, and after her sidled in her younger sister Selina,
commonly called "Silly," and with considerable reason.
Mark had come home! Patty dared not look up, but she felt his
approach behind the others, although her eyes sought the floor,
and her cheeks hung out signals of abashed but certain welcome.
She heard the family settle in their seats somewhat hastily, the
click of the pew door and the sound of Lawyer Wilson's cane as he
stood it in the corner; then the parson rose to pray and Patty
closed her eyes with the rest of the congregation.
Opening them when Elder Boone rose to announce the hymn, they
fell--amazed, resentful, uncomprehending--on the spectacle of
Mark Wilson finding the place in the book for a strange young
woman who sat beside him. Mark himself had on a new suit and wore
a seal ring that Patty had never observed before; while the
dress, pelisse, and hat of the unknown were of a nature that no
girl in Patty's position, and particularly of Patty's
disposition, could have regarded without a desire to tear them
from her person and stamp them underfoot; or better still, flaunt
them herself and show the world how they should be worn!
Mark found the place in the hymn-book for the--creature, shared
it with her, and once, when the Grant twins wriggled and Patty
secured a better view, once, Mark shifted his hand on the page so
that his thumb touched that of his pretty neighbor, who did not
remove hers as if she found the proximity either unpleasant or
improper. Patty compared her own miserable attire with that of
the hated rival in front, and also contrasted Lawyer Wilson's
appearance with that of her father; the former, well dressed in
the style of a gentleman of the time, in broadcloth, with fine
linen, and a tall silk hat carefully placed on the floor of the
pew; while Deacon Baxter wore homespun made of wool from his own
sheep, spun and woven, dyed and finished, at the fulling-mill in
the village, and carried a battered felt hat that had been a
matter of ridicule these dozen years. (The Deacon would be buried
in two coats, Jed Morrill always said, for he owned just that
number, and would be too mean to leave either of 'em behind him!)
The sermon was fifty minutes long, time enough for a deal of
thinking. Many a housewife, not wholly orthodox, cut and made
over all her children's clothes, in imagination; planned the
putting up of her fruit, the making of her preserves and pickles,
and arranged her meals for the next week, during the progress of
those sermons. Patty watched the parson turn leaf after leaf
until the final one was reached. Then came the last hymn, when
the people stretched their aching limbs, and rising, turned their
backs on the minister and faced the choir. Patty looked at
Waitstill and wished that she could put her throbbing head on her
sisterly shoulder and cry,--mostly with rage. The benediction was
said, and with the final "Amen" the pews were opened and the
worshippers crowded into the narrow aisles and moved towards the
Patty's plans were all made. She was out of her pew before the
Wilsons could possibly leave theirs, and in her progress down the
aisle securely annexed her great admirer, old Dr. Perry, as well
as his son Philip. Passing the singing-seats she picked up the
humble Cephas and carried him along in her wake, chatting and
talking with her little party while her father was at the
horse-sheds, making ready to go home between services as was his
habit, a cold bite being always set out on the kitchen table
according to his orders. By means of these clever manoeuvres
Patty made herself the focus of attention when the Wilson party
came out on the steps, and vouchsafed Mark only a nonchalant nod,
airily flinging a little greeting with the nod,--just a "How d'ye
do, Mark? Did you have a good time in Boston?"
Patty and Waitsill, with some of the girls who had come long
distances, ate their luncheon in a shady place under the trees
behind the meeting-house, for there was an afternoon service to
come, a service with another long sermon. They separated after
the modest meal to walk about the Common or stray along the road
to the Academy, where there was a fine view.
Two or three times during the summer the sisters always went
quietly and alone to the Baxter burying-lot, where three
grassgrown graves lay beside one another, unmarked save by narrow
wooden slabs so short that the initials painted on them were
almost hidden by the tufts of clover. The girls had brought roots
of pansies and sweet alyssum, and with a knife made holes in the
earth and planted them here and there to make the spot a trifle
less forbidding. They did not speak to each other during this
sacred little ceremony; their hearts were too full when they
remembered afresh the absence of headstones, the lack of care, in
the place where the three women lay who had ministered to their
father, borne him children, and patiently endured his arbitrary
and loveless rule. Even Cleve Flanders' grave,--the Edgewood
shoemaker, who lay next,--even his resting-place was marked and,
with a touch of some one's imagination marked by the old man's
own lapstone twenty-five pounds in weight, a monument of his
Waitstill rose from her feet, brushing the earth from her hands,
and Patty did the same. The churchyard was quiet, and they were
alone with the dead, mourned and unmourned, loved and unloved.
"I planted one or two pansies on the first one's grave," said
Waitstill soberly. "I don't know why we've never done it before.
There are no children to take notice of and remember her; it's
the least we can do, and, after all, she belongs to the family."
"There is no family, and there never was!" suddenly cried Patty.
"Oh! Waity, Waity, we are so alone, you and I! We've only each
other in all the world, and I'm not the least bit of help to you,
as you are to me! I'm a silly, vain, conceited, ill-behaved
thing, but I will be better, I will! You won't ever give me up,
will you, Waity, even if I'm not like you? I haven't been good
"Hush, Patty, hush!" And Waitstill came nearer to her sister with
a motherly touch of her hand. "I'll not have you say such things;
you that are the helpfullest and the lovingest girl that ever
was, and the cleverest, too, and the liveliest, and the best
"No one thinks so but you!" Patty responded dolefully, although
she wiped her eyes as if a bit consoled.
It is safe to say that Patty would never have given Mark Wilson a
second thought had he not taken her to drive on that afternoon in
early May. The drive, too, would have quickly fled from her
somewhat fickle memory had it not been for the kiss. The kiss
was, indeed, a decisive factor in the situation, and had shed a
rosy, if somewhat fictitious light of romance over the past three
weeks. Perhaps even the kiss, had it never been repeated, might
have lapsed into its true perspective, in due course of time, had
it not been for the sudden appearance of the stranger in the
Wilson pew. The moment that Patty's gaze fell upon that
fashionably dressed, instantaneously disliked girl, Marquis
Wilson's stock rose twenty points in the market. She ceased, in a
jiffy, to weigh and consider and criticize the young man, but
regarded him with wholly new eyes. His figure was better than she
had realized, his smile more interesting, his manners more
attractive, his eyelashes longer; in a word, he had suddenly
grown desirable. A month ago she could have observed, with idle
and alien curiosity, the spectacle of his thumb drawing nearer to
another (feminine) thumb, on the page of the Watts and Select
Hymn book; now, at the morning service, she had wished nothing so
much as to put Mark's thumb back into his pocket where it
belonged, and slap the girl's thumb smartly and soundly as it
The ignorant cause of Patty's distress was a certain Annabel
Franklin, the daughter of a cousin of Mrs. Wilson's. Mark had
stayed at the Franklin house during his three weeks' visit in
Boston, where he had gone on business for his father. The young
people had naturally seen much of each other and Mark's
inflammable fancy had been so kindled by Annabel's doll-like
charms that he had persuaded her to accompany him to his home and
get a taste of country life in Maine. Such is man, such is human
nature, and such is life, that Mark had no sooner got the whilom
object of his affections under his own roof than she began to
Annabel was twenty-three, and to tell the truth she had palled
before, more than once. She was so amiable, so
well-finished,--with her smooth flaxen hair, her neat nose, her
buttonhole of a mouth, and her trim shape,--that she appealed to
the opposite sex quite generally and irresistibly as a worthy
helpmate. The only trouble was that she began to bore her suitors
somewhat too early in the game, and they never got far enough to
propose marriage. Flaws in her apparent perfection appeared from
day to day and chilled the growth of the various young loves that
had budded so auspiciously. She always agreed with everybody and
everything in sight, even to the point of changing her mind on
the instant, if circumstances seemed to make it advisable. Her
instinctive point of view, when she went so far as to hold one,
was somewhat cut and dried; in a word, priggish. She kept a young
man strictly on his good behavior, that much could be said in her
favor; the only criticism that could be made on this estimable
trait was that no bold youth was ever tempted to overstep the
bounds of discretion when in her presence. No unruly words of
love ever rose to his lips; his hand never stole out
involuntarily and imprudently to meet her small chilly one; the
sight of her waist never even suggested an encircling arm; and as
a fellow never desired to kiss her, she was never obliged to warn
or rebuke or strike him off her visiting list. Her father had an
ample fortune and some one would inevitably turn up who would
regard Annabel as an altogether worthy and desirable spouse. That
was what she had seemed to Mark Wilson for a full week before he
left the Franklin house in Boston, but there were moments now
when he regretted, fugitively, that he had ever removed her from
her proper sphere. She did not seem to fit in to the conditions
of life in Edgewood, and it may even be that her most glaring
fault had been to describe Patty Baxter's hair at this very
Sunday dinner as "carroty," her dress altogether "dreadful," and
her style of beauty "unladylike." Ellen Wilson's feelings were
somewhat injured by these criticisms of her intimate friend, and
in discussing the matter privately with her brother he was
inclined to agree with her.
And thus, so little do we know of the prankishness of the blind
god, thus was Annabel Franklin working for her rival's best
interests; and instead of reviling her in secret, and treating
her with disdain in public, Patty should have welcomed her
cordially to all the delights of Riverboro society.
EVERYBODY in Riverboro, Edgewood, Milliken's Mills, Spruce Swamp,
Duck Pond, and Moderation was "haying." There was a perfect
frenzy of haying, for it was the Monday after the "Fourth," the
precise date in July when the Maine farmer said good-bye to
repose, and "hayed" desperately and unceasingly, until every
spear of green in his section was mowed down and safely under
cover. If a man had grass of his own, he cut it, and if he had
none, he assisted in cutting that of some other man, for "to
hay," although an unconventional verb, was, and still is, a very
active one, and in common circulation, although not used by the
Whatever your trade, and whatever your profession, it counted as
naught in good weather. The fish-man stopped selling fish, the
meat-man ceased to bring meat; the cobbler, as well as the judge,
forsook the bench; and even the doctor made fewer visits than
usual. The wage for work in the hay-fields was a high one, and
every man, boy, and horse in a village was pressed into service.
When Ivory Boynton had finished with his own small crop, he
commonly went at once to Lawyer Wilson, who had the largest
acreage of hay-land in the township. Ivory was always in great
demand, for he was a mighty worker in the field, and a very giant
at "pitching," being able to pick up a fair-sized hay-cock at one
stroke of the fork and fling it on to the cart as if it were a
feather. Lawyer Wilson always took a hand himself if signs of
rain appeared, and Mark occasionally visited the scene of action
when a crowd in the field made a general jollification, or when
there was an impending thunderstorm. In such cases even women and
girls joined the workers and all hands bent together to the task
of getting a load into the barn and covering the rest.
Deacon Baxter was wont to call Mark Wilson a "worthless,
whey-faced, lily-handed whelp," but the description, though
picturesque, was decidedly exaggerated. Mark disliked manual
labor, but having imbibed enough knowledge of law in his father's
office to be an excellent clerk, he much preferred travelling
about, settling the details of small cases, collecting rents and
bad bills, to any form of work on a farm. This sort of life, on
stage-coaches and railway trains, or on long driving trips with
his own fast trotter,suited his adventurous disposition and gave
him a sense of importance that was very necessary to his peace of
mind. He was not especially intimate with Ivory Boynton, who
studied law with his father during all vacations and in every
available hour of leisure during term time, as did many another
young New England schoolmaster. Mark's father's praise of Ivory's
legal ability was a little too warm to please his son, as was the
commendation of one of the County Court judges on Ivory's
preparation of a brief in a certain case in the Wilson office.
Ivory had drawn it up at Mr. Wilson's request, merely to show how
far he understood the books and cases he was studying, and he had
no idea that it differed in any way from the work of any other
student; all the same, Mark's own efforts in a like direction had
never received any special mention. When he was in the hay-field
he also kept as far as possible from Ivory, because there, too,
he felt a superiority that made him, for the moment, a trifle
discontented. It was no particular pleasure for him to see Ivory
plunge his fork deep into the heart of a hay-cock, take a firm
grasp of the handle, thrust forward his foot to steady himself,
and then raise the great fragrant heap slowly, and swing it up to
the waiting haycart amid the applause of the crowd. Rodman would
be there, too, helping the man on top of the load and getting
nearly buried each time, as the mass descended upon him, but
doing his slender best to distribute and tread it down properly,
while his young heart glowed with pride at Cousin Ivory's
Independence Day had passed, with its usual gayeties for the
young people, in none of which the Baxter family had joined, and
now, at eleven o'clock on this burning July morning, Waitstill
was driving the old mare past the Wilson farm on her way to the
river field. Her father was working there, together with the two
hired men whom he took on for a fortnight during the height of
the season. If mowing, raking, pitching, and carting of the
precious crop could only have been done at odd times during the
year, or at night, he would not have embittered the month of July
by paying out money for labor: but Nature was inexorable in the
ripening of hay and Old Foxy was obliged to succumb to the
inevitable. Waitstill had a basket packed with luncheon for three
and a great demijohn of cool ginger tea under the wagon seat.
Other farmers sometimes served hard cider, or rum, but her
father's principles were dead against this riotous extravagance.
Temperance, in any and all directions, was cheap, and the Deacon
was a very temperate man, save in language.
The fields on both sides of the road were full of haymakers and
everywhere there was bustle and stir. There would be three or
four men, one leading, the others following, slowly swinging
their way through a noble piece of grass, and the smell of the
mown fields in the sunshine was sweeter than honey in the comb.
There were patches of black-eyed Susans in the meadows here and
there, while pink and white hardhack grew by the road, with day
lilies and blossoming milkweed. The bobolinks were fluting from
every tree; there were thrushes in the alder bushes and orioles
in the tops of the elms, and Waitstill's heart overflowed with
joy at being in such a world of midsummer beauty, though life,
during the great heat and incessant work of haying-time, was a
little more rigorous than usual. The extra food needed for the
hired men always kept her father in a state of mind closely
resembling insanity. Coming downstairs to cook breakfast she
would find the coffee or tea measured out for the pot. The
increased consumption of milk angered him beyond words, because
it lessened the supply of butter for sale. Everything that could
be made with buttermilk was ordered so to be done, and nothing
but water could be used in mixing the raised bread. The corncake
must never have an egg; the piecrust must be shortened only with
lard, or with a mixture of beef-fat and dripping; and so on, and
so on, eternally.
When the girls were respectively seventeen and thirteen,
Waitstill had begged a small plot of ground for them to use as
they liked, and beginning at that time they had gradually made a
little garden, with a couple of fruit trees and a thicket of red,
white, and black currants raspberry and blackberry bushes. For
several summers now they had sold enough of their own fruit to
buy a pair of shoes or gloves, a scarf or a hat, but even this
tiny income was beginning to be menaced. The Deacon positively
suffered as he looked at that odd corner of earth, not any bigger
than his barn floor, and saw what his girls had done with no
tools but a spade and a hoe and no help but their own hands. He
had no leisure (so he growled) to cultivate and fertilize ground
for small fruits, and no money to pay a man to do it, yet here
was food grown under his very eye, and it did not belong to him!
The girls worked in their garden chiefly at sunrise in spring and
early summer, or after supper in the evening; all the same
Waitstill had been told by her father the day before that she was
not only using ground, but time, that belonged to him, and that
expect her to provide "pie-filling" out of her garden patch
during haying, to help satisfy the ravenous appetites of that
couple of "great, gorming, greedy lubbers" that he was hiring
this year. He had stopped the peeling of potatoes before boiling
because he disapproved of the thickness of the parings he found
in the pig's pail, and he stood over Patty at her work in the
kitchen until Waitstill was in daily fear of a tempest of some
Coming in from the shed one morning she met her father just
issuing from the kitchen where Patty was standing like a young
Fury in front of the sink. "Father's been spying at the eggshells
I settled the coffee with, and said I'd no business to leave so
much good in the shell when I broke an egg. I will not bear it;
he makes me feel fairly murderous! You'd better not leave me
alone with him when I'm like this. Oh! I know that I'm wicked,
but isn't he wicked too, and who was wicked first?"
Patty's heart had been set on earning and saving enough pennies
for a white muslin dress and every day rendered the prospect more
uncertain; this was a sufficient grievance in itself to keep her
temper at the boiling point had there not been various other
contributory causes. Waitstill's patience was flagging a trifle,
too, under the stress of the hot days and the still hotter,
breathless nights. The suspicion crossed her mind now and then
that her father's miserliness and fits of temper might be caused
by a mental malady over which he now had little or no control,
having never mastered himself in all his life. Her power of
endurance would be greater, she thought, if only she could be
certain that this theory was true, though her slavery would be
just as galling.
It would be so easy for her to go away and earn a living; she who
had never had a day of illness in her life; she who could sew,
knit, spin, weave, and cook. She could make enough money in
Biddeford or Portsmouth to support herself, and Patty, too, until
the proper work was found for both. But there would be a truly
terrible conflict of wills, and such fierce arraignment of her
unfilial conduct, such bitter and caustic argument from her
father, such disapproval from the parson and the neighbors, that
her very soul shrank from the prospect. If she could go alone,
and have no responsibility over Patty's future, that would be a
little more possible, but she must think wisely for two.
And how could she leave Ivory when there might perhaps come a
crisis in his life where she could be useful to him? How could
she cut herself off from those Sundays in the choir, those dear
fugitive glimpses of him in the road or at prayer-meeting? They
were only sips of happiness, where her thirsty heart yearned for
long, deep draughts, but they were immeasurably better than
nothing. Freedom from her father's heavy yoke, freedom to work,
and read, and sing, and study, and grow,--oh! how she longed for
this, but at what a cost would she gain it if she had to harbor
the guilty conscience of an undutiful and rebellious daughter,
and at the same time cut herself off from the sight of the one
being she loved best in all the world.
She felt drawn towards Ivory's mother to-day. Three weeks had
passed since her talk with Ivory in the churchyard, but there had
been no possibility of an hour's escape from home. She was at
liberty this afternoon--relatively at liberty; for although her
work, as usual, was laid out for her, it could be made up somehow
or other before nightfall. She could drive over to the Boynton's
place, hitch her horse in the woods near the house, make her
visit, yet be in plenty of time to go up to the river field and
bring her father home to supper. Patty was over at Mrs. Abel
Day's, learning a new crochet stitch and helping her to start a
log-cabin quilt. Ivory and Rodman, she new, were both away in the
Wilson hay-field; no time would ever be more favorable; so
instead of driving up Town-House Hill when she returned to the
village she kept on over the bridge.
UNCLE BART DISCOURSES
UNCLE BART and Cephas were taking their nooning hour under the
Nodhead apple tree as Waitstill passed the joiner's shop and went
over the bridge.
"Uncle Bart might somehow guess where I am going," she thought,
"but even if he did he would never tell any one."
"Where's Waitstill bound this afternoon, I wonder?" drawled
Cephas, rising to his feet and looking after the departing team.
"That reminds me, I'd better run up to Baxter's and see if
any-thing's wanted before I open the store."
"If it makes any dif'rence," said his father dryly, as he filled
his pipe, "Patty's over to Mis' Day's spendin' the afternoon.
Don't s'pose you want to call on the pig, do you? He's the only
one to home."
Cephas made no remark, but gave his trousers a hitch, picked up a
chip, opened his jack-knife, and sitting down on the greensward
began idly whittling the bit of wood into shape.
"I kind o' wish you'd let me make the new ell two-story, father;
't wouldn't be much work, take it in slack time after hayin'."
"Land o' Liberty! What do you want to do that for, Cephas? You
'bout pestered the life out o' me gittin' me to build the ell in
the first place, when we didn't need it no more'n a toad does a
pocketbook. Then nothin' would do but you must paint it, though I
shan't be able to have the main house painted for another year,
so the old wine an' the new bottle side by side looks like the
Old Driver, an' makes us a laughin'-stock to the village;--and
now you want to change the thing into a two-story! Never heerd
such a crazy idee in my life."
"I want to settle down," insisted Cephas doggedly.
"Well, settle; I'm willin'! I told you that, afore you painted
the ell. Ain't two rooms, fourteen by fourteen, enough for you to
settle down in? If they ain't, I guess your mother'd give you one
o' the chambers in the main part."
"She would if I married Phoebe Day, but I don't want to marry
Phoebe," argued Cephas. "And mother's gone and made a summer
kitchen for herself out in the ell, a'ready. I bet yer she'll
never move out if I should want to move in on a 'sudden."
"I told you you was takin' that risk when you cut a door through
from the main part," said his father genially. "If you hadn't
done that, your mother would 'a' had to gone round outside to git
int' the ell and mebbe she'd 'a' stayed to home when it stormed,
anyhow. Now your wife'11 have her troopin' in an' out, in an'
out, the whole 'durin' time."
"I only cut the door through to please so't she'd favor my
gittin' married, but I guess 't won't do no good. You see,
father, what I was thinkin' of is, a girl would mebbe jump at a
two-story, four-roomed ell when she wouldn't look at a smaller
"Pends upon whether the girl's the jumpin' kind or not! Hadn't
you better git everything fixed up with the one you've picked
out, afore you take your good savin's and go to buildin' a bigger
place for her?"
"I've asked her once a'ready," Cephas allowed, with a burning
face. "I don't s'pose you know the one I mean?"
"No kind of an idee," responded his father, with a quizzical wink
that was lost on the young man, as his eyes were fixed upon his
whittling. "Does she belong to the village?"
"I ain't goin' to let folks know who I've picked out till I git a
little mite forrarder," responded Cephas craftily. "Say, father,
it's all right to ask a girl twice, ain't it?
"Certain it is, my son. I never heerd there was any special limit
to the number o' times you could ask 'em, and their power o'
sayin' 'No' is like the mercy of the Lord; it endureth forever.
--You wouldn't consider a widder, Cephas? A widder'd be a good
comp'ny-keeper for your mother."
"I hain't put my good savin's into an ell jest to marry a
comp'ny-keeper for mother," responded Cephas huffily. "I want to
be number one with my girl and start right in on trainin' her up
to suit me."
"Well, if trainin' 's your object you'd better take my advice an'
keep it dark before marriage, Cephas. It's astonishin' how the
female sect despises bein' trained; it don't hardly seem to be in
their nature to make any changes in 'emselves after they once
"How are you goin' to live with 'em, then?" Cephas inquired,
looking up with interest coupled with some incredulity.
"Let them do the training responded his father, peacefully
puffing out the words with his pipe between his lips. "Some of
'em's mild and gentle in discipline, like Parson Boone's wife or
Mis' Timothy Grant, and others is strict and firm like your
mother and Mis' Abel Day. If you happen to git the first kind,
why, do as they tell you, and thank the Lord 't ain't any worse.
If you git the second kind, jest let 'em put the blinders on you
and trot as straight as you know how, without shying nor kickin'
over the traces, nor bolting 'cause they've got control o' the
bit and 't ain't no use fightin' ag'in' their superior
strength.--So fur as you can judge, in the early stages o' the
game, my son,--which ain't very fur,--which kind have you picked
Cephas whittled on for some moments without a word, but finally,
with a sigh drawn from the very toes of his boots, he responded
"She's awful spunky, the girl is, anybody can see that; but she's
a young thing, and I thought bein' married would kind o' tame her
"You can see how much marriage has tamed your mother down,"
observed Uncle Bart dispassionately; "howsomever, though your
mother can't be called tame, she's got her good p'ints, for she's
always to be counted on. The great thing in life, as I take it,
Cephas, is to know exactly what to expect. Your mother's gen'ally
credited with an onsartin temper, but folks does her great
injustice in so thinking for in a long experience I've seldom
come across a temper less onsartin than your mother's. You know
exactly where to find her every mornin' at sun-up and every night
at sundown. There ain't nothin' you can do to put her out o'
temper, cause she's all out aforehand. You can jest go about your
reg'lar business 'thout any fear of disturbin' her any further
than she's disturbed a'ready, which is consid'rable. I don't mind
it a mite nowadays, though, after forty years of it. It would
kind o' gall me to keep a stiddy watch of a female's disposition
day by day, wonderin' when she was goin' to have a tantrum. A
tantrum once a year's an awful upsettin' kind of a thing in a
family, my son, but a tantrum every twenty-four hours is jest
part o' the day's work." There was a moment's silence during
which Uncle Bart puffed his pipe and Cephas whittled, after which
the old man continued: "Then, if you happen to marry a temper
like your mother's, Cephas, look what a pow'ful worker you
gen'ally get! Look at the way they sweep an' dust an' scrub an'
clean! Watch 'em when they go at the dish-washin', an' how they
whack the rollin'-pin, an' maul the eggs, an' heave the wood int'
the stove, an' slat the flies out o' the house! The mild and
gentle ones enough, will be settin' in the kitchen rocker
read-in' the almanac when there ain't no wood in the kitchen box,
no doughnuts in the crock, no pies on the swing shelf in the
cellar, an' the young ones goin' round without a second shift to
Cephas's mind was far away during this philosophical dissertation
on the ways of women. He could see only a sunny head fairly
rioting with curls; a pair of eyes that held his like magnets,
although they never gave him a glance of love; a smile that
lighted the world far better than the sun; a dimple into which
his heart fell headlong whenever he looked at it!
"You're right, father; 'tain't no use kickin' ag'in 'em," he said
as he rose to his feet preparatory to opening the Baxter store.
"When I said that 'bout trainin' up a girl to suit me, I kind o'
forgot the one I've picked out. I'm considerin' several, but the
one I favor most-well, I believe she'd fire up at the first sight
o' training and that's the gospel truth."
"Considerin' several, be you, Cephas?" laughed Uncle Bart. "Well,
all I hope is, that the one you favor most--the girl you've asked
once a'ready--is considerin' you!"
Cephas went to the pump, and wetting a large handkerchief put it
in the crown of his straw hat and sauntered out into the burning
heat of the open road between his father's shop and Deacon
"I shan't ask her the next time till this hot spell's over," he
thought, "and I won't do it in that dodgasted old store ag'in,
neither; I ain't so tongue-tied outdoors an' I kind o' think I'd
be more in the sperit of it after sundown, some night after
WAITSTILL found a cool and shady place in which to hitch the old
mare, loosening her check-rein and putting a sprig of alder in
her headstall to assist her in brushing off the flies.
One could reach the Boynton house only by going up a long
grass-grown lane that led from the high-road. It was a lonely
place, and Aaron Boynton had bought it when he moved from Saco,
simply because he secured it at a remarkable bargain, the owner
having lost his wife and gone to live in Massachusetts. Ivory
would have sold it long ago had circumstances been different, for
it was at too great a distance from the schoolhouse and from
Lawyer Wilson's office to be at all convenient, but he dreaded to
remove his mother from the environment to which she was
accustomed, and doubted very much whether she would be able to
care for a house to which she had not been wonted before her mind
became affected. Here in this safe, secluded corner, amid
familiar and thoroughly known conditions, she moved placidly
about her daily tasks, performing them with the same care and
precision that she had used from the beginning of her married
life. All the heavy work was done for her by Ivory and Rodman;
the boy in particular being the fleetest-footed, the most
willing, and the neatest of helpers; washing dishes, sweeping and
dusting, laying the table, as deftly and quietly as a girl. Mrs.
Boynton made her own simple dresses of gray calico in summer, or
dark linsey-woolsey in winter by the same pattern that she had
used when she first came to Edgewood: in fact there were
positively no external changes anywhere to be seen, tragic and
terrible as had been those that had wrought havoc in her mind.
Waitstill's heart beat faster as she neared the Boynton house.
She had never so much as seen Ivory's mother for years. How would
she be met? Who would begin the conversation, and what direction
would it take? What if Mrs. Boynton should refuse to talk to her
at all? She walked slowly along the lane until she saw a slender,
gray-clad figure stooping over a flower-bed in front of the
cottage. The woman raised her head with a fawn-like gesture that
had something in it of timidity rather than fear, picked some
loose bits of green from the ground, and, quietly turning her
back upon the on coming stranger, disappeared through the open
There could be no retreat on her own part now, thought Waitstill.
She wished for a moment that she had made this first visit under
Ivory's protection, but her idea had been to gain Mrs. Boynton's
confidence and have a quiet friendly talk, such a one as would be
impossible in the presence of a third person. Approaching the
steps, she called through the doorway in her clear voice: "Ivory
asked me to come and see you one day, Mrs. Boynton. I am
Waitstill Baxter, the little girl on Town House Hill that you
used to know."
Mrs. Boynton came from an inner room and stood on the threshold.
The name "Waitstill" had always had a charm for her ears, from
the time she first heard it years ago, until it fell from Ivory's
lips this summer; and again it caught her fancy.
"'WAITSTILL!"' she repeated softly; "'WAITSTILL!' Does Ivory know
"We've known each other for ever so long; ever since we went to
the brick school together when we were girl and boy. And when I
was a child my stepmother brought me over here once on an errand
and Ivory showed me a humming-bird's nest in that lilac bush by
Mrs. Boynton smiled "Come and look!" she whispered. "There is
always a humming-bird's nest in our lilac. How did you remember?"
The two women approached the bush and Mrs. Boynton carefully
parted the leaves to show the dainty morsel of a home thatched
with soft gray-green and lined with down. "The birds have flown
now," she said. "They were like little jewels when they darted
off in the sunshine."
Her voice was faint and sweet, as if it came from far away, and
her eyes looked, not as if they were seeing you, but seeing
something through you. Her pale hair was turned back from her
paler face, where the veins showed like blue rivers, and her
smile was like the flitting of a moonbeam. She was standing very
close to Waitstill, closer than she had been to any woman for
many years, and she studied her a little, wistfully, yet
courteously, as if her attention was attracted by something fresh
and winning. She looked at the color, ebbing and flowing in the
girl's cheeks; at her brows and lashes; at her neck, as white as
swan's-down; and finally put out her hand with a sudden impulse
and touched the knot of wavy bronze hair under the brimmed hat.
"I had a daughter once," she said. "My second baby was a girl,
but she lived only a few weeks. I need her very much, for I am a
great care to Ivory. He is son and daughter both, now that Mr.
Boynton is away from home.--You did not see any one in the road
as you turned in from the bars, I suppose?"
"No," answered Waitstill, surprised and confused, "but I didn't
really notice; I was thinking of a cool place for my horse to
"I sit out here in these warm afternoons," Mrs. Boynton
continued, shading her eyes and looking across the fields,
"because I can see so far down the lane. I have the supper-table
set for my husband already, and there is a surprise for him, a
saucer of wild strawberries I picked for him this morning. If he
does not come, I always take away the plate and cup before Ivory
gets here; it seems to make him unhappy."
"He doesn't like it when you are disappointed, I suppose,"
Waitstill ventured. "I have brought my knitting, Mrs. Boynton, so
that I needn't keep you idle if you wish to work. May I sit down
a few minutes? And here is a cottage cheese for Ivory and Rodman,
and a jar of plums for you, preserved from my own garden."
Mrs. Boynton's eyes searched the face of this visitor from a
world she had almost forgotten and finding nothing but tenderness
there, said with just a trace of bewilderment: "Thank you yes, do
sit down; my workbasket is just inside the door. Take that
rocking-chair; I don't have another one out here because I have
never been in the habit of seeing visitors."
"I hope I am not intruding," stammered Waitstill, seating herself
and beginning her knitting, to see if it would lessen the sense
of strain between them.
"Not at all. I always loved young and beautiful people, and so
did my husband. If he comes while you are here, do not go away,
but sit with him while I get his supper. If Elder Cochrane should
be with him, you would see two wonderful men. They went away
together to do some missionary work in Maine and New Hampshire
and perhaps they will come back together. I do not welcome
callers because they always ask so many difficult questions, but
you are different and have asked me none at all."
"I should not think of asking questions, Mrs. Boynton."
"Not that I should mind answering them," continued Ivory's
mother, "except that it tires my head very much to think. You
must not imagine I am ill; it is only that I have a very bad
memory, and when people ask me to remember something, or to give
an answer quickly, it confuses me the more. Even now I have
forgotten why you came, and where you live; but I have not
forgotten your beautiful name."
"Ivory thought you might be lonely, and I wanted so much to know
you that I could not keep away any longer, for I am lonely and
unhappy too. I am always watching and hoping for what has never
come yet. I have no mother, you have lost your daughter; I
thought--I thought--perhaps we could be a comfort to each other!"
And Waitstill rose from her chair and put out her hand to help
Mrs. Boynton down the steps, she looked so frail, so transparent,
so prematurely aged. "I could not come very often--but if I could
only smooth your hair sometimes when your head aches, or do some
cooking for you, or read to you, or any little thing like that,
as I would fer my own mother--if I could, I should be so glad!"
Waitstill stood a head higher than Ivory's mother and the glowing
health of her, the steadiness of her voice, the warmth of her
hand-clasp must have made her seem like a strong refuge to this
storm-tossed derelict. The deep furrow between Lois Boynton's
eyes relaxed a trifle, the blood in her veins ran a little more
swiftly under the touch of the young hand that held hers so
closely. Suddenly a light came into her face and her lip
"Perhaps I have been remembering wrong all these years," she
said. "It is my great trouble, remembering wrong. Perhaps my baby
did not die as I thought; perhaps she lived and grew up; perhaps"
(her pale cheek burned and her eyes shone like stars) "perhaps
she has come back!"
Waitstill could not speak; she put her arm round the trembling
figure, holding her as she was wont to hold Patty, and with the
same protective instinct. The embrace was electric in its effect
and set altogether new currents of emotion in circulation.
Something in Lois Boynton's perturbed mind seemed to beat its
wings against the barriers that had heretofore opposed it, and,
freeing itself, mounted into clearer air and went singing to the
sky. She rested her cheek on the girl's breast with a little sob.
"Oh! let me go on remembering wrong," she sighed, from that safe
shelter." Let me go on remembering wrong! It makes me so happy!"
Waitstill gently led her to the rocking-chair and sat down beside
her on the lowest step, stroking her thin hand. Mrs. Boynton's
eyes were closed, her breath came and went quickly, but presently
she began to speak hurriedly, as if she were relieving a
"There is something troubling me," she began, "and it would ease
my mind if I could tell it to some one who could help. Your hand
is so warm and so firm! Oh, hold mine closely and let me draw in
strength as long as you can spare it; it is flowing, flowing from
your hand into mine, flowing like wine. . . . My thoughts at
night are not like my thoughts by day, these last weeks. . . . I
wake suddenly and feel that my husband has been away a long time
and will never come back. . . . Often, at night, too, I am in
sore trouble about something else, something I have never told
Ivory, the first thing I have ever hidden from my dear son, but I
think I could tell you, if only I could be sure about it."
"Tell me if it will help you; I will try to understand," said
"Ivory says Rodman is the child of my dead sister. Some one must
have told him so; could it have been I? It haunts me day and
night, for unless I am remembering wrong again, I never had a
sister. I can call to mind neither sister nor brother."
"You went to New Hampshire one winter," Waitstill reminded her
gently, as if she were talking to a child. "It was bitter cold
for you to take such a hard journey. Your sister died, and you
brought her little boy, Rodman, back, but you were so ill that a
stranger had to take care of you on the stage-coach and drive you
to Edgewood next day in his own sleigh. It is no wonder you have
forgotten something of what happened, for Dr. Perry hardly
brought you through the brain fever that followed that journey."
"I seem to think, now, that it is not so!" said Mrs. Boynton,
opening her eyes and looking at Waitstill despairingly. "I must
grope and grope in the dark until I find out what is true, and
then tell Ivory. God will punish false speaking! His heart is
closed against lies and evil-doing!"
"He will never punish you if your tired mind remembers wrong,"
said Waitstill. "He knows, none better, how you have tried to
find Him and hold Him, through many a tangled path. I will come
as often as I can and we will try to frighten away these worrying
"If you will only come now and then and hold my hand," said
Ivory's mother,--"hold my hand so that your strength will flow
into my weakness, perhaps I shall puzzle it all out, and God will
help me to remember right before I die."
"Everything that I have power to give away shall be given to
you," promised Waitstill. " Now that I know you, and you trust
me, you shall never be left so alone again,--not for long, at any
rate. When I stay away you will remember that I cannot help it,
"Yes, I shall think of you till I see you again I shall watch the
long lane more than ever now. Ivory sometimes takes the path
across the fields but my dear husband will come by the old road,
and now there will be you to look for!"
AT the Baxters the late supper was over and the girls had not sat
at the table with their father, having eaten earlier, by
themselves. The hired men had gone home to sleep. Patty had
retired to the solitude of her bedroom almost at dusk, quite worn
out with the heat, and Waitstill sat under the peach tree in the
corner of her own little garden, tatting, and thinking of her
interview with Ivory's mother. She sat there until nearly eight
o'clock, trying vainly to put together the puzzling details of
Lois Boynton's conversation, wondering whether the perplexities
that vexed her mind were real or fancied, but warmed to the heart
by the affection that the older woman seemed instinctively to
feel for her. "She did not know me, yet she cared for me at
once," thought Waitstill tenderly and proudly; "and I for her,
too, at the first glance."
She heard her father lock the barn and shed and knew that he
would be going upstairs immediately, so she quickly went through
the side yard and lifted the latch of the kitchen door. It was
fastened. She went to the front door and that, too, was bolted,
although it had been standing open all the evening, so that if a
breeze should spring up, it might blow through the house. Her
father supposed, of course, that she was in bed, and she dreaded
to bring him downstairs for fear of his anger; still there was no
help for it and she rapped smartly at the side door. There was no
answer and she rapped again, vexed with her own carelessness.
Patty's face appeared promptly behind her screen of mosquito
netting in the second story, but before she could exchange a word
with her sister, Deacon Baxter opened the blinds of his bedroom
window and put his head out.
"You can try sleepin' outdoors, or in the barn to-night," he
called. "I didn't say anything to you at supper-time because I
wanted to see where you was intendin' to prowl this evenin'."
"I haven't been 'prowling' anywhere, father," answered Waitstill;
"I've been out in the garden cooling off; it's only eight
"Well, you can cool off some more," he shouted, his temper now
fully aroused; "or go back where you was this afternoon and see
if they'll take you in there! I know all about your deceitful
tricks! I come home to grind the scythes and found the house and
barn empty Cephas said you'd driven up Saco Hill and I took his
horse and followed you and saw where you went Long's you couldn't
have a feller callin' on you here to home, you thought you'd call
on him, did yer, you bold-faced hussy?"
"I am nothing of the sort," the girl answered him quietly; "Ivory
Boynton was not at his house, he was in the hay-field. You know
it, and you know that I knew it. I went to see a sick, unhappy
woman who has no neighbors. I ought to have gone long before. I
am not ashamed of it, and I don't regret it. If you ask
unreasonable things of me, you must expect to be disobeyed once
in a while.
"Must expect to be disobeyed, must I?" the old man cried, his
face positively terrifying in its ugliness. "We'll see about
that! If you wa'n't callin' on a young man, you were callin' on a
crazy woman, and I won't have it, I tell you, do you hear? I
won't have a daughter o' mine consortin' with any o' that Boynton
crew. Perhaps a night outdoors will teach you who's master in
this house, you imperdent, shameless girl! We'11 try it, anyway!"
And with that he banged down the window and disappeared,
gibbering and jabbering impotent words that she could hear but
Waitstill was almost stunned by the suddenness of this
catastrophe. She stood with her feet rooted to the earth for
several minutes and then walked slowly away out of sight of the
house. There was a chair beside the grindstone under the Porter
apple tree and she sank into it, crossed her arms on the back,
and bowing her head on them, burst into a fit of weeping as
tempestuous and passionate as it was silent, for although her
body fairly shook with sobs no sound escaped.
The minutes passed, perhaps an hour; she did not take account of
time. The moon went behind clouds, the night grew misty and the
stars faded one by one. There would be rain to-morrow and there
was a great deal of hay cut, so she thought in a vagrant sort of
Meanwhile Patty upstairs was in a state of suppressed excitement
and terror. It was a quarter of an hour before her father settled
him-self in bed; then an age, it seemed to her, before she heard
his heavy breathing. When she thought it quite safe, she slipped
on a print wrapper, took her shoes in her hand, and crept
noiselessly downstairs, out through the kitchen and into the
shed. Lifting the heavy bar that held the big doors in place she
closed them softly behind her, stepped out, and looked about her
in the darkness. Her quick eye espied in the distance, near the
barn, the bowed figure in the chair, and she flew through the wet
grass without a thought of her bare feet till she reached her
sister's side and held her in a close embrace.
"My darling, my own, own, poor darling!" she cried softly, the
tears running down her cheeks. "How wicked, how unjust to serve
my dearest sister so! Don't cry, my blessing, don't cry; you
frighten me! I'11 take care of you, dear! Next time I'll
interfere; I'll scratch and bite; yes, I'll strangle anybody that
dares to shame you and lock you out of the house! You, the
dearest, the patientest, the best!"
Waitstill wiped her eyes. "Let us go farther away where we can
talk," she whispered.
"Where had we better sleep?" Patty asked. "On the hay, I think,
though we shall stifle with the heat"; and Patty moved towards
"No, you must go back to the house at once, Patty dear; father
might wake and call you, and that would make matters worse. It's
beginning to drizzle, or I should stay out in the air. Oh! I
wonder if father's mind is going, and if this is the beginning of
the end! If he is in his sober senses, he could not be so
strange, so suspicious, so unjust."
"He could be anything, say anything, do anything," exclaimed
Patty. "Perhaps he is not responsible and perhaps he is; it
doesn't make much difference to us. Come along, blessed darling!
I'll tuck you in, and then I'll creep back to the house, if you
say I must. I'll go down and make the kitchen fire in the
morning; you stay out here and see what happens. A good deal will
happen, I'm thinking, if father speaks to me of you! I shouldn't
be surprised to see the fur flying in all directions; I'll seize
the first moment to bring you out a cup of coffee and we'll
consult about what to do. I may tell you now, I'm all for running
Waitstill's first burst of wretchedness had subsided and she had
recovered her balance. "I'm afraid we must wait a little longer,
Patty," she advised. "Don't mention my name to father, but see
how he acts in the morning. He was so wild, so unlike himself,
that I almost hope he may forget what he said and sleep it off.
Yes, we must just wait."
"No doubt he'll be far calmer in the morning if he remembers
that, if he turns you out, he faces the prospect of three meals a
day cooked by me," said Patty. "That's what he thinks he would
face, but as a matter of fact I shall tell him that where you
sleep I sleep, and where you eat I eat, and when you stop cooking
I stop! He won't part with two unpaid servants in a hurry, not at
the beginning of haying." And Patty, giving Waitstill a last hug
and a dozen tearful kisses, stole reluctantly back to the house
by the same route through which he had left it.
Patty was right. She found the fire lighted when she went down
into the kitchen next morning, and without a word she hurried
breakfast on to the table as fast as she could cook and serve it.
Waitstill was safe in the barn chamber, she knew, and would be
there quietly while her father was feeding the horse and milking
the cows; or perhaps she might go up in the woods and wait until
she saw him driving away.
The Deacon ate his breakfast in silence, looking and acting very
much as usual, for he was generally dumb at meals. When he left
the house, however, and climbed into the wagon, he turned around
and said in his ordinary gruff manner: "Bring the lunch up to the
field yourself to-day, Patience. Tell your sister I hope she's
come to her senses in the course of the night. You've got to
learn, both of you, that my 'say-so' must be law in this house.
You can fuss and you can fume, if it amuses you any, but 't won't
do no good. Don't encourage Waitstill in any whinin' nor
blubberin'. Jest tell her to come in and go to work and I'11
overlook what she done this time. And don't you give me any more
of your eye-snappin' and lip-poutin' and head-in-the-air
You're under age, and if you don't look out, you'll get something
that's good for what ails you! You two girls jest aid an' abet
one another that's what you do, aid an' abet one another, an if
you carry it any further I'll find some way o' separatin' you, do
Patty spoke never a word, nor fluttered an eyelash. She had a
proper spirit, but now her heart was cold with a new fear, and
she felt, with Waitstill, that her father must be obeyed and his
temper kept within bounds, until God provided them a way of
She ran out to the barn chamber and, not finding Waitstill,
looked across the field and saw her coming through the path from
the woods. Patty waved her hand, and ran to meet her sister, joy
at the mere fact of her existence, of being able to see her
again, and of hearing her dear voice, almost choking her in its
intensity. When they reached the house she helped her upstairs as
if she were a child, brought her cool water to wash away the dust
of the haymow, laid out some clean clothes for her, and finally
put her on the lounge in the darkened sitting-room.
"I won't let anybody come near the house," she said, "and you
must have a cup of tea and a good sleep before I tell you all
that father said. Just comfort yourself with the thought that he
is going to 'overlook it' this time! After I carry up his
luncheon, I shall stop at the store and ask Cephas to come out on
the river bank for a few minutes. Then I shall proceed to say
what I think of him for telling father where you went yesterday
"Don't blame Cephas!" Waitstill remonstrated. "Can't you see just
how it happened? He and Uncle Bart were sitting in front of the
shop when I drove by. When father came home and found the house
empty and the horse not in the stall, of course he asked where I
was, and Cephas probably said he had seen me drive up Saco Hill.
He had no reason to think that there was any harm in that."
"If he had any sense he might know that he shouldn't tell
anything to father except what happens in the store," Patty
insisted. "Were you frightened out in the barn alone last night,
"I was too unhappy to think of fear and I was chiefly nervous
about you, all alone in the house with father."
"I didn't like it very much, myself! I buttoned my bedroom door
and sat by the window all night, shivering and bristling at the
least sound. Everybody calls me a coward, but I'm not! Courage
isn't not being frightened; it's not screeching when you are
frightened. Now, what happened at the Boyntons'?"
"Patty, Ivory's mother is the most pathetic creature I ever saw!"
And Waitstill sat up on the sofa, her long braids of hair hanging
over her shoulders, her pale face showing the traces of her heavy
weeping. "I never pitied any one so much in my whole life! To go
up that long, long lane; to come upon that dreary house hidden
away in the trees; to feel the loneliness and the silence; and
then to know that she is living there like a hermit-thrush in a
forest, without a woman to care for her, it is heart-breaking!"
"How does the house look,--dreadful?"
"No: everything is as neat as wax. She isn't 'crazy,' Patty, as
we understand the word. Her mind is beclouded somehow and it
almost seems as if the cloud might lift at any moment. She goes
about like somebody in a dream, sewing or knitting or cooking. It
is only when she talks, and you notice that her eyes really see
nothing, but are looking beyond you, that you know there is
"If she appears so like other people, why don't the neighbors go
to see her once in a while?"
"Callers make her unhappy, she says, and Ivory told me that he
dared not encourage any company in the house for fear of exciting
her, and making her an object of gossip, besides. He knows her
ways perfectly and that she is safe and content with her fancies
when she is alone, which is seldom, after all."
"What does she talk about?" asked Patty.
"Her husband mostly. She is expecting him to come back daily. We
knew that before, of course, but no one can realize it till they
see her setting the table for him and putting a saucer of wild
strawberries by his plate; going about the kitchen softly, like a
"It gives me the shudders!" said Patty. "I couldn't bear it! If
she never sees strangers, what in the world did she make of you?
How did you begin?"
"I told her I had known Ivory ever since we were school children.
She was rather strange and indifferent at first, and then she
seemed to take a fancy to me."
"That's queer!" said Patty, smiling fondly and giving Waitstill's
hair the hasty brush of a kiss.
"She told me she had had a girl baby, born two or three years
after Ivory, and that she had always thought it died when it was
a few weeks old. Then suddenly she came closer to me--
"Oh! Waity, weren't you terrified?"
"No, not in the least. Neither would you have been if you had
been there. She put her arms round me and all at once I
understood that the poor thing mistook me just for a moment for
her own daughter come back to life. It was a sudden fancy and I
don't think it lasted, but I didn't know how to deal with it, or
contradict it, so I simply tried to soothe her and let her ease
her heart by talking to me. She said when I left her: 'Where is
your house? I hope it is near! Do come again and sit with me.
Strength flows into my weakness when you hold my hand!' I somehow
feel, Patty, that she needs a woman friend even more than a
doctor. And now, what am I to do? How can I forsake her; and yet
here is this new difficulty with father?"
"I shouldn't forsake her; go there when you can, but be more
careful about it. You told father that you didn't regret what you
had done, and that when he ordered you to do unreasonable things,
you should disobey him. After all, you are not a black slave.
Father will never think of that particular thing again, perhaps,
any more than he ever alluded to my driving to Saco with Mrs. Day
after you had told him it was necessary for one of us to go there
occasionally. He knows that if he is too hard on us, Dr. Perry or
Uncle Bart would take him in hand. They would have done it long
ago if we had ever given any one even a hint of what we have to
endure. You will be all right, because you only want to do kind,
neighborly things. I am the one that will always have to suffer,
because I can't prove that it's a Christian duty to deceive
father and steal off to a dance or a frolic. Yet I might as well
be a nun in a convent for all the fun I get! I want a white
book-muslin dress; I want a pair of thin shoes with buckles; I
want a white hat with a wreath of yellow roses; I want a volume
of Byron's poems; and oh! nobody knows--nobody but the Lord could
understand--how I want a string of gold beads."
"Patty, Patty! To hear you chatter anybody would imagine you
thought of nothing but frivolities. I wish you wouldn't do
yourself such injustice; even when nobody hears you but me, it is
"Sometimes when you think I'm talking nonsense it's really the
gospel truth," said Patty. "I'm not a grand, splendid character,
Waitstill, and it's no use your deceiving yourself about me; if
you do, you'll be disappointed."
"Go and parboil the beans and get them into the pot, Patty. Pick
up some of the windfalls and make a green-apple pie, and I'll be
with you in the kitchen myself before long. I never expect to be
disappointed in you, Patty, only continually surprised and
"I thought I'd begin making some soft soap to-day," said Patty
mischievously, as she left the room. "We have enough grease saved
up. We don't really need it yet, but it makes such a disgusting
smell that I'd rather like father to have it with his dinner.
It's not much of a punishment for our sleepless night."
A BRACE OF LOVERS
HAYING was over, and the close, sticky dog-days, too, and August
was slipping into September. There had been plenty of rain all
the season and the countryside was looking as fresh and green as
an emerald. The hillsides were already clothed with a verdant
growth of new grass and
"The red pennons of the cardinal flowers
Hung motionless upon their upright staves."
How they gleamed in the meadow grasses and along the brooksides
like brilliant flecks of flame, giving a new beauty to the
nosegays that Waitstill carried or sent to Mrs. Boynton every
To the eye of the casual observer, life in the two little
villages by the river's brink went on as peacefully as ever, but
there were subtle changes taking place nevertheless. Cephas Cole
had "asked" the second time and again had been refused by Patty,
so that even a very idiot for hopefulness could not urge his
father to put another story on the ell.
"If it turns out to be Phoebe Day," thought Cephas dolefully,
"two rooms is plenty good enough, an' I shan't block up the door
that leads from the main part, neither, as I thought likely I
should. If so be it's got to be Phoebe, not Patty, I shan't care
whether mother troops out 'n' in or not." And Cephas dealt out
rice and tea and coffee with so languid an air, and made such