Part 3 out of 3
It was with bonfires that heroes had been greeted on their return
from successful wars. In this way beacon-lights had been kindled
upon lofty heights, that had inspired mariners seeking their homes
after distant adventures. As he plodded back and forward he
imagined himself some hero of antiquity. He was reading
"Plutarch's Lives" with deep interest. This had been recommended
at a former college, and he was now taking it up in the midst of
his French course.
He fancied, even, that some future Plutarch was growing up in
Lynn, perhaps, who would write of this night of suffering, and
glorify its heroes.
For himself he took a severe cold and suffered from chilblains, in
consequence of going back and forward through the snow,
carrying the wood.
But the flames of the bonfire caught the blinds of the professor's
room, and set fire to the building, and came near burning up the
whole institution. Agamemnon regretted the result as much as his
predecessor, who gave him his name, must have regretted that
other bonfire, on the shores of Aulis, that deprived him of a
The result for Agamemnon was that he was requested to leave,
after having been in the institution but a few months.
He left another college in consequence of a misunderstanding
about the hour for morning prayers. He went every day regularly
at ten o'clock, but found, afterward, that he should have gone at
half-past six. This hour seemed to him and to Mrs. Peterkin
unseasonable, at a time of year when the sun was not up, and he
would have been obliged to go to the expense of candles.
Agamemnon was always willing to try another college, wherever
he could be admitted. He wanted to attain knowledge, however it
might be found. But, after going to five, and leaving each before
the year was out, he gave it up.
He determined to lay out the money that would have been
expended in a collegiate education in buying an Encyclopædia, the
most complete that he could find, and to spend his life studying it
systematically. He would not content himself with merely reading
it, but he would study into each subject as it came up, and perfect
himself in that subject. By the time, then, that he had finished the
Encyclopædia he should have embraced all knowledge, and have
experienced much of it.
The family were much interested in this plan of making practice of
every subject that came up.
He did not, of course, get on very fast in this way. In the second
column of the very first page he met with A as a note in music.
This led him to the study of music. He bought a flute, and took
some lessons, and attempted to accompany Elizabeth Eliza on the
piano. This, of course, distracted him from his work on the
Encyclopædia. But he did not wish to return to A until he felt
perfect in music. This required a long time.
Then in this same paragraph a reference was made; in it he was
requested to "see Keys." It was necessary, then, to turn to "Keys."
This was about the time the family were moving, which we have
mentioned, when the difficult subject of keys came up, that
suggested to him his own simple invention, and the hope of getting
a patent for it. This led him astray, as inventions before have done
with master-minds, so that he was drawn aside from his regular
The family, however, were perfectly satisfied with the career
Agamemnon had chosen. It would help them all, in any path of
life, if he should master the Encyclopædia in a thorough way.
Mr. Peterkin agreed it would in the end be not as expensive as a
college course, even if Agamemnon should buy all the different
Encyclopædias that appeared.
There would be no "spreads" involved; no expense of receiving
friends at entertainments in college; he could live at home, so that
it would not be necessary to fit up another room, as at college. At
all the times of his leaving he had sold out favorably to other
Solomon John's destiny was more uncertain. He was looking
forward to being a doctor some time, but he had not decided
whether to be allopathic or homeopathic, or whether he could not
better invent his own pills. And he could not understand how to
obtain his doctor's degree.
For a few weeks he acted as clerk in a druggist's store. But he
could serve only in the toothbrush and soap department, because it
was found he was not familiar enough with the Latin language to
compound the drugs. He agreed to spend his evenings in studying
the Latin grammar; but his course was interrupted by his being
dismissed for treating the little boys too frequently to soda.
The little boys were going through the schools regularly. The
family had been much exercised with regard to their education.
Elizabeth Eliza felt that everything should be expected from them;
they ought to take advantage from the family mistakes. Every new
method that came up was tried upon the little boys.
They had been taught spelling by all the different systems, and
were just able to read, when Mr. Peterkin learned that it was now
considered best that children should not be taught to read till they
were ten years old.
Mrs. Peterkin was in despair. Perhaps, if their books were taken
from them even then, they might forget what they had learned.
But no, the evil was done; the brain had received certain
impressions that could not be blurred over.
This was long ago, however. The little boys had since entered the
public schools. They went also to a gymnasium, and a whittling
school, and joined a class in music, and another in dancing; they
went to some afternoon lectures for children, when there was no
other school, and belonged to a walking-club. Still Mr. Peterkin
was dissatisfied by the slowness of their progress. He visited the
schools himself, and found that they did not lead their classes. It
seemed to him a great deal of time was spent in things that were
not instructive, such as putting on and taking off their india-rubber
Elizabeth Eliza proposed that they should be taken from school
and taught by Agamemnon from the Encyclopædia. The rest of the
family might help in the education at all hours of the day.
Solomon John could take up the Latin grammar, and she could
give lessons in French.
The little boys were enchanted with the plan, only they did not
want to have the study-hours all the time.
Mr. Peterkin, however, had a magnificent idea, that they should
make their life one grand Object Lesson. They should begin at
breakfast, and study everything put upon the table,the material of
which it was made, and where it came from.
In the study of the letter A, Agamemnon had embraced the study
of music, and from one meal they might gain instruction enough
for a day.
"We shall have the assistance," said Mr. Peterkin, "of
Agamemnon, with his Encyclopædia."
Agamemnon modestly suggested that he had not yet got out of A,
and in their first breakfast everything would therefore have to
begin with A.
"That would not be impossible," said Mr. Peterkin. "There is
Amanda, who will wait on table, to start with"
"We could have 'am-and-eggs," suggested Solomon John Mrs.
Peterkin was distressed. It was hard enough to think of anything
for breakfast, and impossible, if it all had to begin with one letter.
Elizabeth Eliza thought it would not be necessary. All they were to
do was to ask questions, as in examination papers, and find their
answers as they could.
They could still apply to the Encyclopædia, even if it were not in
Agamemnon's alphabetical course.
Mr. Peterkin suggested a great variety. One day they would study
the botany of the breakfast-table, another day, its natural history.
The study of butter would include that of the cow. Even that of
the butter-dish would bring in geology.
The little boys were charmed at the idea of learning pottery from
the cream-jug, and they were promised a potter's wheel directly.
"You see, my dear," said Mr. Peterkin to his wife, "before many
weeks, we shall be drinking our milk from jugs made by our
Elizabeth Eliza hoped for a thorough study.
"Yes," said Mr. Peterkin, "we might begin with botany. That would
be near to Agamemnon alphabetically. We ought to find out the
botany of butter. On what does the cow feed?"
The little boys were eager to go out and see.
"If she eats clover," said Mr. Peterkin, "we shall expect the botany
The little boys insisted that they were to begin the next day; that
very evening they should go out and study the cow.
Mrs. Peterkin sighed, and decided she would order a simple
breakfast. The little boys took their note-books and pencils, and
clambered upon the fence, where they seated themselves in a row.
For there were three little boys. So it was now supposed. They
were always coming in or going out, and it had been difficult to
count them, and nobody was very sure how many there were.
There they sat, however, on the fence, looking at the cow. She
looked at them with large eyes.
"She won't eat," they cried, "while we are looking at her!"
So they turned about, and pretended to look into the street, and
seated themselves that way, turning their heads back, from time to
time, to see the cow.
"Now she is nibbling a clover."
"No, that is a bit of sorrel."
"It's a whole handful of grass."
"What kind of grass?" they exclaimed.
It was very hard, sitting with their backs to the cow, and
pretending to the cow that they were looking into the street, and
yet to be looking at the cow all the time, and finding out what she
was eating; and the upper rail of the fence was narrow and a little
sharp. It was very high, too, for some additional rails had been put
on to prevent the cow from jumping into the garden or street.
Suddenly, looking out into the hazy twilight, Elizabeth Eliza saw
six legs and six india-rubber boots in the air, and the little boys
"They are tossed by the cow! The little boys are tossed by the
Mrs. Peterkin rushed for the window, but fainted on the way.
Solomon John and Elizabeth Eliza were hurrying to the door, but
stopped, not knowing what to do next. Mrs. Peterkin recovered
herself with a supreme effort, and sent them out to the rescue.
But what could they do? The fence had been made so high, to keep
the cow out, that nobody could get in. The boy that did the
milking had gone off with the key of the outer gate, and perhaps
with the key of the shed door. Even if that were not locked, before
Agamemnon could get round by the wood-shed and cow-shed, the
little boys might be gored through and through!
Elizabeth Eliza ran to the neighbors, Solomon John to the
druggist's for plasters, while Agamemnon made his way through
the dining-room to the wood-shed and outer-shed door. Mr.
Peterkin mounted the outside of the fence, while Mrs.
Peterkin begged him not to put himself in danger. He climbed high
enough to view the scene. He held to the corner post and reported
what he saw.
They were not gored. The cow was at the other end of the lot. One
of the little boys were lying in a bunch of dark leaves. He was
The cow glared, but did not stir. Another little boy was pulling his
india-rubber boots out of the mud. The cow still looked at him.
Another was feeling the top of his head. The cow began to crop the
grass, still looking at him.
Agamemnon had reached and opened the shed-door. The little
boys were next seen running toward it.
A crowd of neighbors, with pitchforks, had returned meanwhile
with Elizabeth Eliza. Solomon John had brought four druggists.
But, by the time they had reached the house, the three little boys
were safe in the arms of their mother!
"This is too dangerous a form of education," she cried; "I had
rather they went to school."
"No!" they bravely cried. They were still willing to try the other
THE EDUCATIONAL BREAKFAST. MRS. PETERKIN'S
nerves were so shaken by the excitement of the fall of the three
little boys into the enclosure where the cow was kept that the
educational breakfast was long postponed. The little boys
continued at school, as before, and the conversation dwelt as little
as possible upon the subject of education.
Mrs. Peterkin's spirits, however, gradually recovered. The little
boys were allowed to watch the cow at her feed. A series of
strings were arranged by Agamemnon and Solomon John, by
which the little boys could be pulled up, if they should again fall
down into the enclosure. These were planned something like
curtain-cords, and Solomon John frequently amused himself by
pulling one of the little boys up or letting him down.
Some conversation did again fall upon the old difficulty of
questions. Elizabeth Eliza declared that it was not always
necessary to answer; that many who could did not answer
questions,the conductors of the railroads, for instance, who
probably knew the names of all the stations on a road, but were
seldom able to tell them.
"Yes," said Agamemnon, "one might be a conductor without even
knowing the names of the stations, because you can't understand
them when they do tell them!"
"I never know," said Elizabeth Eliza, "whether it is ignorance in
them, or unwillingness, that prevents them from telling you how
soon one station is coming, or how long you are to stop, even if
one asks ever so many times. It would be useful if they would
Mrs. Peterkin thought this was carried too far in the horse-cars in
Boston. The conductors had always left you as far as possible
from the place where you wanted to stop; but it seemed a little too
much to have the aldermen take it up, and put a notice in the cars,
ordering the conductors "to stop at the farthest crossing."
Mrs. Peterkin was, indeed, recovering her spirits. She had been
carrying on a brisk correspondence with Philadelphia, that she had
imparted to no one, and at last she announced, as its result, that
she was ready for a breakfast on educational principles.
A breakfast indeed, when it appeared! Mrs. Peterkin had mistaken
the alphabetical suggestion, and had grasped the idea that the
whole alphabet must be represented in one breakfast.
This, therefore, was the bill of fare: Apple-sauce, Bread, Butter,
Coffee, Cream, Doughnuts, Eggs, Fish-balls, Griddles, Ham, Ice
(on butter), Jam, Krout (sour), Lamb-chops, Morning Newspapers,
Oatmeal, Pepper, Quince-marmalade, Rolls, Salt, Tea Urn,
Veal-pie, Waffles, Yeast-biscuit.
Mr. Peterkin was proud and astonished. "Excellent!" he cried.
"Every letter represented except Z." Mrs. Peterkin drew from her
pocket a letter from the lady from Philadelphia. "She thought you
would call it X-cellent for X, and she tells us," she read, "that if
you come with a zest, you will bring the Z."
Mr. Peterkin was enchanted. He only felt that he ought to invite
the children in the primary schools to such a breakfast; what a
zest, indeed, it would give to the study of their letters!
It was decided to begin with Apple-sauce.
"How happy," exclaimed Mr. Peterkin, "that this should come first
of all! A child might be brought up on apple-sauce till he had
mastered the first letter of the alphabet, and could go on to the
more involved subjects hidden in bread, butter, baked beans, etc."
Agamemnon thought his father hardly knew how much was hidden
in the apple. There was all the story of William Tell and the Swiss
independence. The little boys were wild to act William Tell, but
Mrs. Peterkin was afraid of the arrows. Mrs.
Peterkin proposed they should begin by eating the apple-sauce,
then discussing it, first botanically, next historically; or perhaps
first historically, beginning with Adam and Eve, and the first
Mrs. Peterkin feared the coffee would be getting cold, and the
griddles were waiting. For herself, she declared she felt more at
home on the marmalade, because the quinces came from
grandfather's, and she had seen them planted; she remembered all
about it, and now the bush came up to the sitting-room window.
She seemed to have heard him tell that the town of Quincy, where
the granite came from, was named from them, and she never quite
recollected why, except they were so hard, as hard as stone, and it
took you almost the whole day to stew them, and then you might
as well set them on again.
Mr. Peterkin was glad to be reminded of the old place at
grandfather's. In order to know thoroughly about apples, they
ought to understand the making of cider.
Now, they might some time drive up to grandfather's, scarcely
twelve miles away, and see the cider made. Why, indeed, should
not the family go this very day up to grandfather's, and continue
the education of the breakfast?
"Why not indeed?" exclaimed the little boys. A day at grandfather's
would give them the whole process of the apple, from the orchard
to the cider-mill. In this way they could widen the field of study,
even to follow in time the cup of coffee to Java.
It was suggested, too, that at grandfather's they might study the
processes of maple-syrup as involved in the griddle-cakes.
Agamemnon pointed out the connection between the two subjects:
they were both the products of treesthe apple-tree and the maple.
Mr. Peterkin proposed that the lesson for the day should be
considered the study of trees, and on the way they could look at
Why not, indeed, go this very day? There was no time like the
present. Their breakfast had been so copious, they would scarcely
be in a hurry for dinner, and would, therefore, have the whole day
Mrs. Peterkin could put up the remains of the breakfast for
But how should they go? The carryall, in spite of its name, could
hardly take the whole family, though they might squeeze in six, as
the little boys did not take up much room.
Elizabeth Eliza suggested that she could spend the night at
Indeed, she had been planning a visit there, and would not object
to staying some days. This would make it easier about coming
home, but it did not settle the difficulty in getting there.
Why not "Ride and Tie"?
The little boys were fond of walking; so was Mr. Peterkin; and
Agamemnon and Solomon John did not object to their turn. Mrs.
Peterkin could sit in the carriage, when it was waiting for the
pedestrians to come up; or, she said, she did not object to a little
turn of walking. Mr. Peterkin would start, with Solomon John and
the little boys, before the rest, and Agamemnon should drive his
mother and Elizabeth Eliza to the first stopping-place.
Then came up another question,of Elizabeth Eliza's trunk. If she
stayed a few days, she would need to carry something. It might be
hot, and it might be cold.
Just as soon as she carried her thin things, she would need her
You never could depend upon the weather. Even "Probabilities"
got you no farther than to-day.
In an inspired moment, Elizabeth Eliza bethought herself of the
expressman. She would send her trunk by the express, and she left
the table directly to go and pack it. Mrs. Peterkin busied herself
with Amanda over the remains of the breakfast. Mr. Peterkin and
Agamemnon went to order the horse and the expressman, and
Solomon John and the little boys prepared themselves for a
Elizabeth Eliza found it difficult to pack in a hurry; there were so
many things she might want, and then again she might not. She
must put up her music, because her grandfather had a piano; and
then she bethought herself of Agamemnon's flute, and decided to
pick out a volume or two of the Encyclopædia. But it was hard to
decide, all by herself, whether to take G for griddle-cakes, or M for
maple-syrup, or T for tree. She would take as many as she could
make room for.
She put up her work-box and two extra work-baskets, and she must
take some French books she had never yet found time to read.
This involved taking her French dictionary, as she doubted if her
grandfather had one. She ought to put in a "Botany," if they were
to study trees; but she could not tell which, so she would take all
there were. She might as well take all her dresses, and it was no
harm if one had too many wraps. When she had her trunk packed,
she found it over-full; it was difficult to shut it. She had heard
Solomon John set out from the front door with his father and the
little boys, and Agamemnon was busy holding the horse at the
side door, so there was no use in calling for help. She got upon the
trunk; she jumped upon it; she sat down upon it, and, leaning over,
found she could lock it! Yes, it was really locked.
But, on getting down from the trunk, she found her dress had been
caught in the lid; she could not move away from it! What was
worse, she was so fastened to the trunk that she could not lean
forward far enough to turn the key back, to unlock the trunk and
release herself! The lock had slipped easily, but she could not now
get hold of the key in the right way to turn it back.
She tried to pull her dress away. No, it was caught too firmly. She
called for help to her mother or Amanda, to come and open the
trunk. But her door was shut.
Nobody near enough to hear! She tried to pull the trunk toward the
door, to open it and make herself heard; but it was so heavy that,
in her constrained position, she could not stir it. In her agony, she
would have been willing to have torn her dress; but it was her
travelling-dress, and too stout to tear. She might cut it carefully.
Alas, she had packed her scissors, and her knife she had lent to the
little boys the day before! She called again. What silence there was
in the house! Her voice seemed to echo through the room. At
length, as she listened, she heard the sound of wheels.
Was it the carriage, rolling away from the side door? Did she hear
the front door shut? She remembered then that Amanda was to
"have the day." But she, Elizabeth Eliza, was to have spoken to
Amanda, to explain to her to wait for the expressman. She was to
have told her as she went downstairs. But she had not been able to
go downstairs! And Amanda must have supposed that all the
family had left, and she, too, must have gone, knowing of the
expressman. Yes, she heard the wheels! She heard the front door
But could they have gone without her? Then she recalled that she
had proposed walking on a little way with Solomon John and her
father, to be picked up by Mrs. Peterkin, if she should have
finished her packing in time. Her mother must have supposed that
she had done so,that she had spoken to Amanda, and started with
the rest. Well, she would soon discover her mistake. She would
overtake the walking party, and, not finding Elizabeth Eliza,
would return for her. Patience only was needed. She had looked
around for something to read; but she had packed up all her
books. She had packed her knitting. How quiet and still it was! She
tried to imagine where her mother would meet the rest of the
family. They were good walkers, and they might have reached the
two-mile bridge. But suppose they should stop for water beneath
the arch of the bridge, as they often did, and the carryall pass over
it without seeing them, her mother would not know but she was
with them? And suppose her mother should decide to leave the
horse at the place proposed for stopping and waiting for the first
pedestrian party, and herself walk on, no one would be left to tell
the rest, when they should come up to the carryall. They might go
on so, through the whole journey, without meeting, and she might
not be missed till they should reach her grandfather's!
Horrible thought! She would be left here alone all day. The
expressman would come, but the expressman would go, for he
would not be able to get into the house!
She thought of the terrible story of Ginevra, of the bride who was
shut up in her trunk, and forever! She was shut up on hers, and
knew not when she should be released! She had acted once in the
ballad of the "Mistletoe Bough." She had been one of the "guests,"
who had sung "Oh, the Mistletoe Bough," and had looked up at it,
and she had seen at the side-scenes how the bride had laughingly
stepped into the trunk. But the trunk then was only a make-believe
of some boards in front of a sofa, and this was a stern reality.
It would be late now before her family would reach her
grandfather's. Perhaps they would decide to spend the night.
Perhaps they would fancy she was coming by express. She gave
another tremendous effort to move the trunk toward the door.
In vain. All was still.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Peterkin sat some time at the door, wondering
why Elizabeth Eliza did not come down. Mr. Peterkin had started
on with Solomon John and all the little boys. Agamemnon had
packed the things into the carriage,a basket of lunch, a change of
shoes for Mr. Peterkin, some extra wraps,everything Mrs.
Peterkin could think of, for the family comfort. Still Elizabeth
Eliza did not come. "I think she must have walked on with your
father," she said, at last; "you had better get in." Agamemnon now
got in. "I should think she would have mentioned it," she
continued; "but we may as well start on, and pick her up!"
They started off. "I hope Elizabeth Eliza thought to speak to
Amanda, but we must ask her when we come up with her."
But they did not come up with Elizabeth Eliza. At the turn beyond
the village, they found an envelope struck up in an inviting
manner against a tree. In this way, they had agreed to leave
missives for each other as they passed on. This note informed
them that the walking party was going to take the short cut across
the meadows, and would still be in front of them. They saw the
party at last, just beyond the short cut; but Mr. Peterkin was
explaining the character of the oak-tree to his children as they
stood around a large specimen.
"I suppose he is telling them that it is some kind of a 'Quercus,'"
said Agamemnon, thoughtfully.
Mrs. Peterkin thought Mr. Peterkin would scarcely use such an
expression, but she could see nothing of Elizabeth Eliza. Some of
the party, however, were behind the tree, some were in front, and
Elizabeth Eliza might be behind the tree. They were too far off to
be shouted at. Mrs. Peterkin was calmed, and went on to the
stopping-lace agreed upon, which they reached before long. This
had been appointed near Farmer Gordon's barn, that there might
be somebody at hand whom they knew, in case there should be
any difficulty in untying the horse. The plan had been that Mrs.
Peterkin should always sit in the carriage, while the others should
take turns for walking; and Agamemnon tied the horse to a fence,
and left her comfortably arranged with her knitting. Indeed, she
had risen so early to prepare for the alphabetical breakfast, and
had since been so tired with preparations, that she was quite
sleepy, and would not object to a nape in the shade, by the
soothing sound of the buzzing of the flies. But she called
Agamemnon back, as he started off for his solitary walk, with a
"Suppose the rest all should arrive, how could they now be
accommodated in the carryall? It would be too much for the
horse! Why had Elizabeth Eliza gone with the rest without
counting up? Of course, they must have expected that sheMrs.
Peterkinwould walk on to the next stopping-place!"
She decided there was no way but for her to walk on. When the
rest passed her, they might make a change. So she put up knitting
cheerfully. It was a little joggly in the carriage, she had already
found, for the horse was restless from the flies, and she did not
like being left alone.
She walked on then with Agamemnon. It was very pleasant at first,
but the sun became hot, and it was not long before she was
fatigued. When they reached a hay-field, she proposed going in to
rest upon one of the hay-cocks. The largest and most shady was at
the other end of the field, and they were seated there when the
carryall passed them in the road. Mrs. Peterkin waved parasol and
hat, and the party in the carryall returned their greetings, but they
were too far apart to hear each other.
Mrs. Peterkin and Agamemnon slowly resumed their walk.
"Well, we shall find Elizabeth Eliza in the carryall," she said, "and
that will explain all."
But it took them an hour or two to reach the carryall, with frequent
stoppings for rest, and when they reached it, no one was in it. A
note was pinned up in the vehicle to say they had all walked on; it
was "prime fun."
In this way the parties continued to dodge each other, for Mrs.
Peterkin felt that she must walk on from the next station, and the
carryall missed her again while she and Agamemnon stopped in a
house to rest, and for a glass of water.
She reached the carryall to find again that no one was in it. The
party had passed on for the last station, where it had been decided
all should meet at the foot of grandfather's hill, that they might all
arrive at the house together.
Mrs. Peterkin and Agamemnon looked out eagerly for the party all
the way, as Elizabeth Eliza must be tired by this time; but Mrs.
Peterkin's last walk had been so slow, that the other party was far
in advance and reached the stopping-place before them. The little
boys were all rowed out on the stone fence, awaiting them, full of
delight at having reached grandfather's. Mr.
Peterkin came forward to meet them, and, at the same moment
with Mrs. Peterkin, exclaimed: "Where is Elizabeth Eliza?" Each
party looked eagerly at the other; no Elizabeth Eliza was to be
seen. Where was she? What was to be done? Was she left behind?
Mrs. Peterkin was convinced she must have somehow got to
grandfather's. They hurried up the hill. Grandfather and all the
family came out to greet them, for they had been seen
approaching. There was great questioning, but no Elizabeth Eliza!
It was sunset; the view was wide and fine. Mr. and Mrs. Peterkin
stood and looked out from the north to the south. Was it too late
to send back for Elizabeth Eliza? Where was she?
Meanwhile the little boys had been informing the family of the
object of their visit, and while Mr. and Mrs. Peterkin were looking
up and down the road, and Agamemnon and Solomon John were
explaining to each other the details of their journeys, they had
discovered some facts.
"We shall have to go back," they exclaimed. "We are too late! The
maple-syrup was all made last spring."
"We are too early; we shall have to stay two or three months, the
cider is not made till October."
The expedition was a failure! They could study the making of
neither maple-syrup nor cider, and Elizabeth Eliza was lost,
perhaps forever! The sun went down, and Mr. and Mrs. Peterkin
still stood to look up and down the road.
. . . . . . . . . . . Elizabeth Eliza meanwhile, had sat upon her trunk,
as it seemed for ages. She recalled all the terrible stories of
prisoners,how they had watched the growth of flowers through
cracks in the pavement. She wondered how long she could live
without eating. How thankful she was for her abundant breakfast!
At length she heard the door-bell. But who could go to the door to
answer it? In vain did she make another effort to escape; it was
How singular!there were footsteps. Some one was going to the
door; some one had opened it. "They must be burglars." Well,
perhaps that was a better fateto be gagged by burglars, and the
neighbors informedthan to be forever locked on her trunk. The
steps approached the door. It opened, and Amanda ushered in the
Amanda had not gone. She had gathered, while waiting at the
breakfast-table, that there was to be an expressman whom she
Elizabeth Eliza explained the situation. The expressman turned the
key of her trunk, and she was released!
What should she do next? So long a time had elapsed, she had
given up all hope of her family returning for her. But how could
she reach them?
She hastily prevailed upon the expressman to take her along until
she should come up with some of the family. At least she would
fall in with either the walking party or the carryall, or she would
meet them if they were on their return.
She mounted the seat with the expressman, and slowly they took
their way, stopping for occasional parcels as they left the village.
But much to Elizabeth Eliza's dismay, they turned off from the
main road on leaving the village. She remonstrated, but the driver
insisted he must go round by Millikin's to leave a bedstead. They
went round by Millikin's, and then had further turns to make.
Elizabeth Eliza explained that in this way it would be impossible
for her to find her parents and family, and at last he proposed to
take her all the way with her trunk. She remembered with a
shudder that when she had first asked about her trunk, he had
promised it should certainly be delivered the next morning.
Suppose they should have to be out all night? Where did
express-carts spend the night? She thought of herself in a lone
wood, in an express-wagon! She could hardly bring herself to ask,
before assenting, when he should arrive.
"He guessed he could bring up before night."
And so it happened that as Mr. and Mrs. Peterkin in the late sunset
were looking down the hill, wondering what they should do about
the lost Elizabeth Eliza, they saw an express wagon approaching.
A female form sat upon the front seat.
"She has decided to come by express," said Mrs. Peterkin. "It isit
THE PETERKINS AT THE "CARNIVAL OF AUTHORS" IN
BOSTON. THE Peterkins were in quite a muddle (for them) about
the carnival of authors, to be given in Boston. As soon as it was
announced, their interests were excited, and they determined that
all the family should go.
But they conceived a wrong idea of the entertainment, as they
supposed that every one must go in costume. Elizabeth Eliza
thought their lessons in the foreign languages would help them
much in conversing in character.
As the carnival was announced early Solomon John thought there
would be time to read up everything written by all the authors, in
order to be acquainted with the characters they introduced. Mrs.
Peterkin did not wish to begin too early upon the reading, for she
was sure she should forget all that the different authors had
written before the day came.
But Elizabeth Eliza declared that she should hardly have time
enough, as it was, to be acquainted with all the authors. She had
given up her French lessons, after taking six, for want of time, and
had, indeed, concluded she had learned in them all she should
need to know of that language. She could repeat one or two pages
of phrases, and she was astonished to find how much she could
understand already of what the French teacher said to her; and he
assured her that when she went to Paris she could at least ask the
price of gloves, or of some other things she would need, and he
taught her, too, how to pronounce "garçon," in calling for more.
Agamemnon thought that different members of the family might
make themselves familiar with different authors; the little boys
were already acquainted with "Mother Goose." Mr. Peterkin had
read the "Pickwick Papers," and Solomon John had actually seen
Mr. Longfellow getting into a horse-car.
Elizabeth Eliza suggested that they might ask the Turk to give
lectures upon the "Arabian Nights." Everybody else was planning
something of the sort, to "raise funds" for some purpose, and she
was sure they ought not to be behindhand. Mrs.
Peterkin approved of this. It would be excellent if they could raise
funds enough to pay for their own tickets to the carnival; then they
could go every night.
Elizabeth Eliza was uncertain. She thought it was usual to use the
funds for some object. Mr. Peterkin said that if they gained funds
enough they might arrange a booth of their own, and sit in it, and
take the carnival comfortably.
But Agamemnon reminded him that none of the family were
authors, and only authors had booths. Solomon John, indeed, had
once started upon writing a book, but he was not able to think of
anything to put in it, and nothing had occurred to him yet.
Mr. Peterkin urged him to make one more effort. If his book could
come out before the carnival he could go as an author, and might
have a booth of his own, and take his family.
But Agamemnon declared it would take years to become an
author. You might indeed publish something, but you had to make
sure that it would be read. Mrs.
Peterkin, on the other hand, was certain that libraries were filled
with books that never were read, yet authors had written them. For
herself, she had not read half the books in their own library. And
she was glad there was to be a Carnival of Authors, that she might
know who they were.
Mr. Peterkin did not understand why they called them a
"Carnival"; but he supposed they should find out when they went
Mrs. Peterkin still felt uncertain about costumes. She proposed
looking over the old trunks in the garret. They would find some
suitable dresses there, and these would suggest what characters
they should take. Elizabeth Eliza was pleased with this thought.
She remembered an old turban of white mull muslin, in an old
bandbox, and why should not her mother wear it?
Mrs. Peterkin supposed that she should then go as her own
Agamemnon did not approve of this. Turbans are now worn in the
East, and Mrs.
Peterkin could go in some Eastern character. Solomon John
thought she might be Cleopatra, and this was determined on.
Among the treasures found were some old bonnets, of large size,
with waving plumes. Elizabeth Eliza decided upon the largest of
She was tempted to appear as Mrs. Columbus, as Solomon John
was to take the character of Christopher Columbus; but he was
planning to enter upon the stage in a boat, and Elizabeth Eliza was
a little afraid of sea-sickness, as he had arranged to be a great
while finding the shore.
Solomon John had been led to take this character by discovering a
coal-hod that would answer for a helmet; then, as Christopher
Columbus was born in Genoa, he could use the phrases in Italian
he had lately learned of his teacher.
As the day approached the family had their costumes prepared.
Mr. Peterkin decided to be Peter the Great. It seemed to him a
happy thought, for the few words of Russian he had learned would
come in play, and he was quite sure that his own family name
made him kin to that of the great Czar. He studied up the life in
the Encyclopædia, and decided to take the costume of a
ship-builder. He visited the navy-yard and some of the docks; but
none of them gave him the true idea of dress for ship-building in
Holland or St. Petersburg.
But he found a picture of Peter the Great, representing him in a
broad-brimmed hat. So he assumed one that he found at a
costumer's, and with Elizabeth Eliza's black waterproof was
satisfied with his own appearance.
Elizabeth Eliza wondered if she could not go with her father in
some Russian character. She would have to lay aside her large
bonnet, but she had seen pictures of Russian ladies, with fur muffs
on their heads, and she might wear her own muff.
Mrs. Peterkin, as Cleopatra, wore the turban, with a little row of
false curls in front, and a white embroidered muslin shawl crossed
over her black silk dress. The little boys thought she looked much
like the picture of their great-grandmother. But doubtless
Cleopatra resembled this picture, as it was all so long ago, so the
rest of the family decided.
Agamemnon determined to go as Noah. The costume, as
represented in one of the little boys' arks, was simple. His father's
red-lined dressing gown, turned inside out, permitted it easily.
Elizabeth Eliza was now anxious to be Mrs. Shem, and make a
long dress of yellow flannel, and appear with Agamemnon and the
little boys. For the little boys were to represent two doves and a
raven. There were feather-dusters enough in the family for their
costumes, which would be then complete with their india-rubber
Solomon John carried out in detail his idea of Christopher
Columbus. He had a number of eggs boiled hard to take in his
pocket, proposing to repeat, through the evening, the scene of
setting the egg on its end. He gave up the plan of a boat, as it must
be difficult to carry one into town; so he contented himself by
practising the motion of landing by stepping up on a chair.
But what scene could Elizabeth Eliza carry out? If they had an ark,
as Mrs. Shem she might crawl in and out of the roof constantly, if
it were not too high. But Mr. Peterkin thought it as difficult to
take an ark into town as Solomon John's boat.
The evening came. But with all their preparations they got to the
hall late. The entrance was filled with a crowd of people, and, as
they stopped at the cloakroom, to leave their wraps, they found
themselves entangled with a number of people in costume coming
out from a dressing-room below. Mr. Peterkin was much
encouraged. They were thus joining the performers. The band was
playing the "Wedding March" as they went upstairs to a door of
the hall which opened upon one side of the stage. Here a
procession was marching up the steps of the stage, all in costume,
and entering behind the scenes.
"We are just in the right time," whispered Mr. Peterkin to his
family; "they are going upon the stage; we must fall into line."
The little boys had their feather-dusters ready. Some words from
one of the managers made Peterkin understand the situation.
"We are going to be introduced to Mr. Dickens," he said.
"I thought he was dead!" exclaimed Mrs. Peterkin trembling.
"Authors live forever!" said Agamemnon in her ear.
At this moment they were ushered upon the stage. The stage
manager glared at them, as he awaited their names for
introduction, while they came up all unannounced,a part of the
programme not expected. But he uttered the words upon his lips,
"Great Expectations;" and the Peterkin family swept across the
stage with the rest: Mr. Peterkin costumed as Peter the Great, Mrs.
Peterkin as Cleopatra, Agamemnon as Noah, Solomon John as
Christopher Columbus, Elizabeth Eliza in yellow flannel as Mrs.
Shem, with a large, old-fashioned bonnet on her head as Mrs.
Columbus, and the little boys behind as two doves and a raven.
Across the stage, in face of all the assembled people, then
following the rest down the stairs on the other side, in among the
audience, they went; but into an audience not dressed in costume!
There were Ann Maria Bromwick and the Osbornes,all the
neighbors,all as natural as though they were walking the streets at
home, though Ann Maria did wear white gloves.
"I had no idea you were to appear in character," said Ann Maria to
Elizabeth Eliza; "to what booth do you belong?"
"We are no particular author," said Mr. Peterkin.
"Ah, I see, a sort of varieties' booth," said Mr. Osborne.
"What is your character?" asked Ann Maria of Elizabeth Eliza.
"I have not quite decided," said Elizabeth Eliza. "I thought I should
find out after I came here. The marshal called us 'Great
Mrs. Peterkin was at the summit of bliss. "I have shaken hands
But she looked round to ask the little boys if they, too, had shaken
hands with the great man, but not a little boy could she find.
They had been swept off in Mother Goose's train, which had
lingered on the steps to see the Dickens reception, with which the
procession of characters in costume had closed. At this moment
they were dancing round the barberry bush, in a corner of the
balcony in Mother Goose's quarters, their feather-dusters gayly
waving in the air.
But Mrs. Peterkin, far below, could not see this, and consoled
herself with the thought, they should all meet on the stage in the
grand closing tableau. She was bewildered by the crowds which
swept her hither and thither. At last she found herself in the
Whittier Booth, and sat a long time calmly there. As Cleopatra she
seemed out of place, but as her own grandmother she answered
well with its New England scenery.
Solomon John wandered about, landing in America whenever he
found a chance to enter a booth. Once before an admiring
audience he set up his egg in the centre of the Goethe Booth,
which had been deserted by its committee for the larger stage.
Agamemnon frequently stood in the background of scenes in the
It was with difficulty that the family could be repressed from going
on the stage whenever the bugle sounded for the different groups
Elizabeth Eliza came near appearing in the "Dream of Fair
Women," at its most culminating point.
Mr. Peterkin found himself with the "Cricket on the Hearth," in the
Dickens Booth. He explained that he was Peter the Great, but
always in the Russian language, which was never understood.
Elizabeth Eliza found herself, in turn, in all the booths. Every
manager was puzzled by her appearance, and would send her to
some other, and she passed along, always trying to explain that
she had not yet decided upon her character.
Mr. Peterkin came and took Cleopatra from the Whittier Booth.
"I cannot understand," he said, "why none of our friends are
dressed in costume, and why we are."
"I rather like it," said Elizabeth Eliza, "though I should be better
pleased if I could form a group with some one."
The strains of the minuet began. Mrs. Peterkin was anxious to join
the performers. It was the dance of her youth.
But she was delayed by one of the managers on the steps that led
to the stage.
"I cannot understand this company," he said, distractedly.
"They cannot find their booth," said another.
"That is the case," said Mr. Peterkin, relieved to have it stated.
"Perhaps you had better pass into the corridor," said a polite
They did this, and, walking across, found themselves in the
"This is the booth for us," said Mr. Peterkin.
"Indeed it is," said Mrs. Peterkin, sinking into a chair, exhausted.
At this moment two doves and a raven appeared,the little boys,
who had been dancing eagerly in Mother Goose's establishment,
and now came down for ice-cream.
"I hardly know how to sit down," said Elizabeth Eliza, "for I am
sure Mrs. Shem never could. Still, as I do not know if I am Mrs.
Shem, I will venture it."
Happily, seats were to be found for all, and they were soon
arranged in a row, calmly eating ice-cream.
"I think the truth is," said Mr. Peterkin, "that we represent
historical people, and we ought to have been fictitious characters
in books. That is, I observe, what the others are. We shall know
better another time."
"If we only ever get home," said Mrs. Peterkin, "I shall not wish to
It seems like being on the stage, sitting in a booth, and it is so
bewildering, Elizabeth Eliza not knowing who she is, and going
round and round in this way."
"I am afraid we shall never reach home," said Agamemnon, who
had been silent for some time; "we may have to spend the night
here. I find I have lost our checks for our clothes in the
"Spend the night in a booth, in Cleopatra's turban!" exclaimed Mrs.
"We should like to come every night," cried the little boys.
"But to spend the night," repeated Mrs. Peterkin.
"I conclude the Carnival keeps up all night," said Mr. Peterkin.
"But never to recover our cloaks," said Mrs. Peterkin; "could not
the little boys look round for the checks on the floors? "
She began to enumerate the many valuable things that they might
never see again.
She had worn her large fur cape of stone-marten,her
grandmother's,that Elizabeth Eliza had been urging her to have
made into a foot-rug. Now how she wished she had! And there
were Mr. Peterkin's new overshoes, and Agamemnon had brought
an umbrella, and the little boys had their mittens. Their
india-rubber boots, fortunately, they had on, in the character of
birds. But Solomon John had worn a fur cap, and Elizabeth Eliza
a muff. Should they lose all these valuables entirely, and go home
in the cold without them? No, it would be better to wait till
everybody had gone, and then look carefully over the floors for the
checks; if only the little boys could know where Agamemnon had
been, they were willing to look. Mr. Peterkin was not sure as they
would have time to reach the train.
Still, they would need something to wear, and he could not tell the
time. He had not brought his watch. It was a Waltham watch, and
he thought it would not be in character for Peter the Great to wear
At this moment the strains of "Home, Sweet Home" were heard
from the band, and people were seen preparing to go.
"All can go home, but we must stay," said Mrs. Peterkin, gloomily,
as the well-known strains floated in from the larger hall.
A number of marshals came to the refreshment-room, looked at
them, whispered to each other, as the Peterkins sat in a row.
"Can we do anything for you?" asked one at last. "Would you not
like to go?" He seemed eager they should leave the room.
Mr. Peterkin explained that they could not go, as they had lost the
checks for their wraps, and hoped to find their checks on the floor
when everybody was gone. The marshal asked if they could not
describe what they had worn, in which case the loss of the checks
was not so important, as the crowds had now almost left, and it
would not be difficult to identify their wraps. Mrs. Peterkin
eagerly declared she could describe every article.
It was astonishing how the marshals hurried them through the
quickly deserted corridors, how gladly they recovered their
garments! Mrs. Peterkin, indeed, was disturbed by the eagerness
of the marshals; she feared they had some pretext for getting the
family out of the hall. Mrs. Peterkin was one of those who never
consent to be forced to anything. She would not be compelled to
go home, even with strains of music. She whispered her
suspicions to Mr. Peterkin; but Agamemnon came hastily up to
announce the time, which he had learned from the clock in the
large hall. They must leave directly if they wished to catch the
latest train, as there was barely time to reach it.
Then, indeed, was Mrs. Peterkin ready to leave. If they should miss
If she should have to pass the night in the streets in her turban! She
was the first to lead the way, and, panting, the family followed
her, just in time to take the train as it was leaving the station.
The excitement was not yet over. They found in the train many of
their friends and neighbors, returning also from the Carnival; so
they had many questions put to them which they were unable to
answer. Still Mrs. Peterkin's turban was much admired, and
indeed the whole appearance of the family; so that they felt
themselves much repaid for their exertions.
But more adventures awaited them. They left the train with their
friends; but as Mrs. Peterkin and Elizabeth Eliza were very tired,
they walked very slowly, and Solomon John and the little boys
were sent on with the pass-key to open the door. They soon
returned with the startling intelligence that it was not the right
key, and they could not get in. It was Mr. Peterkin's office-key; he
had taken it by mistake, or he might have dropped the house-key
in the cloak-room of the Carnival.
"Must we go back?" sighed Mrs. Peterkin, in an exhausted voice.
More than ever did Elizabeth Eliza regret that Agamemnon's
invention in keys had failed to secure a patent!
It was impossible to get into the house, for Amanda had been
allowed to go and spend the night with a friend, so there was no
use in ringing, though the little boys had tried it.
"We can return to the station," said Mr. Peterkin; "the rooms will
be warm, on account of the midnight train. We can, at least, think
what we shall do next."
At the station was one of their neighbors, proposing to take the
New York midnight train, for it was now after eleven, and the
train went through at half-past.
"I saw lights at the locksmith's over the way, as I passed," he said;
"why do not you send over to the young man there? He can get
your door open for you. I never would spend the night here."
Solomon John went over to "the young man," who agreed to go up
to the house as soon as he had closed the shop, fit a key, and open
the door, and come back to them on his way home. Solomon John
came back to the station, for it was now cold and windy in the
deserted streets. The family made themselves as comfortable as
possible by the stove, sending Solomon John out occasionally to
look for the young man. But somehow Solomon John missed him;
the lights were out in the locksmith's shop, so he followed along
to the house, hoping to find him there.
But he was not there! He came back to report. Perhaps the young
man had opened the door and gone on home. Solomon John and
Agamemnon went back together, but they could not get in. Where
was the young man? He had lately come to town, and nobody
knew where he lived, for on the return of Solomon John and
Agamemnon it had been proposed to go to the house of the young
man. The night was wearing on.
The midnight train had come and gone. The passengers who came
and went looked with wonder at Mrs. Peterkin, nodding in her
turban, as she sat by the stove, on a corner of a long bench. At last
the station-master had to leave, for a short rest. He felt obliged to
lock up the station, but he promised to return at an early hour to
"Of what use," said Elizabeth Eliza, "if we cannot even then get
into our own house?"
Mr. Peterkin thought the matter appeared bad, if the locksmith had
left town. He feared the young man might have gone in, and
helped himself to spoons, and left.
Only they should have seen him if he had taken the midnight train.
Solomon John thought he appeared honest. Mr. Peterkin only
ventured to whisper his suspicions, as he did not wish to arouse
Mrs. Peterkin, who still was nodding in the corner of the long
Morning did come at last. The family decided to go to their home;
perhaps by some effort in the early daylight they might make an
On the way they met with the night-policeman, returning from his
beat. He stopped when he saw the family.
"Ah ! that accounts," he said; "you were all out last night, and the
burglars took occasion to make a raid on your house. I caught a
lively young man in the very act; box of tools in his hand! If I had
been a minute late he would have made his way in" The family
then tried to interruptto explain "Where is he?" exclaimed Mr.
"Safe in the lock-up," answered the policeman.
"But he is the locksmith!" interrupted Solomon John.
"We have no key!" said Elizabeth Eliza; "if you have locked up the
locksmith we can never get in."
The policeman looked from one to the other, smiling slightly when
he understood the case.
"The locksmith!" he exclaimed; "he is a new fellow, and I did not
recognize him, and arrested him! Very well, I will go and let him
out, that he may let you in!"
and he hurried away, surprising the Peterkin family with what
seemed like insulting screams of laughter.
"It seems to me a more serious case than it appears to him," said
Mrs. Peterkin did not understand it at all. Had burglars entered the
house? Did the policeman say they had taken spoons ? And why
did he appear so pleased? She was sure the old silver teapot was
locked up in the closet of their room. Slowly the family walked
towards the house, and, almost as soon as they, the policeman
appeared with the released locksmith, and a few boys from the
street, who happened to be out early.
The locksmith was not in very good humor, and took ill the jokes
of the policeman. Mr. Peterkin, fearing he might not consent to
open the door, pressed into his hand a large sum of money. The
door flew open; the family could go in.
Amanda arrived at the same moment. There was hope of breakfast.
Mrs. Peterkin staggered towards the stairs. "I shall never go to
another carnival!" she exclaimed.
THE PETERKINS AT THE FARM. YES, at last they had
reached the seaside, after much talking and deliberation, and
summer after summer the journey had been constantly postponed.
But here they were at last, at the "Old Farm," so called, where
seaside attractions had been praised in all the advertisements. And
here they were to meet the Sylvesters, who knew all about the
place, cousins of Ann Maria Bromwick. Elizabeth Eliza was
astonished not to find them there, though she had not expected
Ann Maria to join them till the very next day.
Their preparations had been so elaborate that at one time the
whole thing had seemed hopeless; yet here they all were. Their
trunks, to be sure, had not arrived; but the wagon was to be sent
back for them, and, wonderful to tell, they had all their
Agamemnon had brought his Portable Electrical Machine and
Apparatus, and the volumes of the Encyclopædia that might tell
him how to manage it, and Solomon John had his photograph
camera. The little boys had used their india-rubber boots as
portmanteaux, filling them to the brim, and carrying one in each
hand,a very convenient way for travelling they considered it; but
they found on arriving (when they wanted to put their boots
directly on for exploration round the house), that it was somewhat
inconvenient to have to begin to unpack directly, and scarcely
room enough could be found for all the contents in the small
chamber allotted to them.
There was no room in the house for the electrical machine and
camera. Elizabeth Eliza thought the other boarders were afraid of
the machine going off; so an out-house was found for them, where
Agamemnon and Solomon John could arrange them.
Mrs. Peterkin was much pleased with the old-fashioned porch and
low-studded rooms, though the sleeping-rooms seemed a little
stuffy at first.
Mr. Peterkin was delighted with the admirable order in which the
farm was evidently kept. From the first moment he arrived he
gave himself to examining the well-stocked stables and barns, and
the fields and vegetable gardens, which were shown to him by a
highly intelligent person, a Mr. Atwood, who devoted himself to
explaining to Mr. Peterkin all the details of methods in the
The rest of the family were disturbed at being so far from the sea,
when they found it would take nearly all the afternoon to reach
the beach. The advertisements had surely stated that the "Old
Farm" was directly on the shore, and that sea-bathing would be
exceedingly convenient; which was hardly the case if it took you
an hour and a half to walk to it.
Mr. Peterkin declared there were always such discrepancies
between the advertisements of seaside places and the actual facts;
but he was more than satisfied with the farm part, and was glad to
remain and admire it, while the rest of the family went to find the
beach, starting off in a wagon large enough to accommodate
them, Agamemnon driving the one horse.
Solomon John had depended upon taking the photographs of the
family in a row on the beach; but he decided not to take his
camera out the first afternoon.
This was well, as the sun was already setting when they reached
"If this wagon were not so shaky," said Mrs. Peterkin "we might
drive over every morning for our bath. The road is very straight,
and I suppose Agamemnon can turn on the beach."
"We should have to spend the whole day about it," said Solomon
John, in a discouraged tone, "unless we can have a quicker horse."
"Perhaps we should prefer that," said Elizabeth Eliza, a little
gloomily, "to staying at the house."
She had been a little disturbed to find there were not more elegant
and fashionable-looking boarders at the farm, and she was
disappointed that the Sylvesters had not arrived, who would
understand the ways of the place. Yet, again, she was somewhat
relieved, for if their trunks did not come till the next day, as was
feared, she should have nothing but her travelling dress to wear,
which would certainly answer for to-night.
She had been busy all the early summer in preparing her dresses
for this very watering-place, and, as far as appeared, she would
hardly need them, and was disappointed to have no chance to
display them. But of course, when the Sylvesters and Ann Maria
came, all would be different; but they would surely be wasted on
the two old ladies she had seen, and on the old men who had
lounged about the porch; there surely was not a gentleman among
Agamemnon assured her she could not tell at the seaside, as
gentlemen wore their exercise dress, and took a pride in going
around in shocking hats and flannel suits. Doubtless they would
be dressed for dinner on their return.
On their arrival they had been shown to a room to have their meals
by themselves, and could not decide whether they were eating
dinner or lunch. There was a variety of meat, vegetables, and pie,
that might come under either name; but Mr. and Mrs. Peterkin
were well pleased.
"I had no idea we should have really farm-fare," Mrs. Peterkin
said. "I have not drunk such a tumbler of milk since I was young."
Elizabeth Eliza concluded they ought not to judge from a first
meal, as evidently their arrival had not been fully prepared for, in
spite of the numerous letters that had been exchanged.
The little boys were, however, perfectly satisfied from the moment
of their arrival, and one of them had stayed at the farm, declining
to go to the beach, as he wished to admire the pigs, cows, and
horses; and all the way over to the beach the other little boys were
hopping in and out of the wagon, which never went too fast, to
pick long mullein-stalks, for whips to urge on the reluctant horse
with, or to gather huckleberries, with which they were rejoiced to
find the fields were filled, although, as yet, the berries were very
They wanted to stay longer on the beach, when they finally
reached it; but Mrs.
Peterkin and Elizabeth Eliza insisted upon turning directly back, as
it was not fair to be late to dinner the very first night.
On the whole the party came back cheerful, yet hungry. They
found the same old men, in the same costume, standing against
"A little seedy, I should say," said Solomon John.
"Smoking pipes," said Agamemnon; "I believe that is the latest
"The smell of their tobacco is not very agreeable," Mrs. Peterkin
was forced to say.
There seemed the same uncertainty on their arrival as to where
they were to be put, and as to their meals.
Elizabeth Eliza tried to get into conversation with the old ladies,
who were wandering in and out of a small sitting-room. But one
of them was very deaf, and the other seemed to be a foreigner.
She discovered from a moderately tidy maid, by the name of
Martha, who seemed a sort of factotum, that there were other
ladies in their rooms, too much of invalids to appear.
"Regular bed-ridden," Martha had described them, which
Elizabeth Eliza did not consider respectful.
Mr. Peterkin appeared coming down the slope of the hill behind
the house, very cheerful. He had made the tour of the farm, and
found it in admirable order.
Elizabeth Eliza felt it time to ask Martha about the next meal, and
ventured to call it supper, as a sort of compromise between dinner
and tea. If dinner were expected she might offend by taking it for
granted that it was to be "tea," and if they were unused to a late
dinner they might be disturbed if they had only provided a "tea."
So she asked what was the usual hour for supper, and was
surprised when Martha replied, "The lady must say," nodding to
Mrs. Peterkin. "She can have it just when she wants, and just what
This was an unexpected courtesy.
Elizabeth Eliza asked when the others had their supper.
"Oh, they took it a long time ago," Martha answered. "If the lady
will go out into the kitchen she can tell what she wants."
"Bring us in what you have," said Mr. Peterkin, himself quite
hungry. "If you could cook us a fresh slice of beefsteak that would
"Perhaps some eggs," murmured Mrs. Peterkin.
"Scrambled," cried one of the little boys.
"Fried potatoes would not be bad," suggested Agamemnon.
"Couldn't we have some onions?" asked the little boy who had
stayed at home, and had noticed the odor of onions when the
others had their supper.
"A pie would come in well," said Solomon John.
"And some stewed cherries," said the other little boy.
Martha fell to laying the table, and the family was much pleased,
when, in the course of time, all the dishes they had recommended
appeared. Their appetites were admirable, and they pronounced
the food the same.
"This is true Arab hospitality," said Mr. Peterkin, as he cut his
"I know it," said Elizabeth Eliza, whose spirits began to rise. "We
have not even seen the host and hostess."
She would, indeed, have been glad to find some one to tell her
when the Sylvesters were expected, and why they had not arrived.
Her room was in the wing, far from that of Mr. and Mrs. Peterkin,
and near the aged deaf and foreign ladies, and she was kept awake
for some time by perplexed thoughts.
She was sure the lady from Philadelphia, under such
circumstances, would have written to somebody. But ought she to
write to Ann Maria or the Sylvesters? And, if she did write, which
had she better write to? She fully determined to write, the first
thing in the morning, to both parties. But how should she address
her letters ? Would there be any use in sending to the Sylvesters'
usual address, which she knew well by this time, merely to say
they had not come? Of course the Sylvesters would know they had
not come. It would be the same with Ann Maria.
She might, indeed, inclose her letters to their several postmasters.
Postmasters were always so obliging, and always knew where
people were going to, and where to send their letters. She might,
at least, write two letters, to say that theythe Peterkinshad
arrived, and were disappointed not to find the Sylvesters. And she
could add that their trunks had not arrived, and perhaps their
friends might look out for them on their way. It really seemed a
good plan to write. Yet another question came up, as to how she
would get her letters to the post-office, as she had already learned
it was at quite a distance, and in a different direction from the
station, where they were to send the next day for their trunks.
She went over and over these same questions, kept awake by the
coughing and talking of her neighbors, the other side of the thin
She was scarcely sorry to be aroused from her uncomfortable sleep
by the morning sounds of guinea-hens, peacocks, and every other
kind of fowl.
Mrs. Peterkin expressed her satisfaction at the early breakfast, and
declared she was delighted with such genuine farm sounds.
They passed the day much as the afternoon before, reaching the
beach only in time to turn round to come back for their dinner,
which was appointed at noon.
Mrs. Peterkin was quite satisfied. "Such a straight road, and the
beach such a safe place to turn round upon!"
Elizabeth Eliza was not so well pleased. A wagon had been sent to
the station for their trunks, which could not be found; they were
probably left at the Boston station, or, Mr. Atwood suggested,
might have been switched off upon one of the White Mountain
trains. There was no use to write any letters, as there was no way
to send them. Elizabeth Eliza now almost hoped the Sylvesters
would not come, for what should she do if the trunks did not come
and all her new dresses ? On her way over to the beach she had
been thinking what she should do with her new foulard and
cream-colored surah if the Sylvesters did not come, and if their
time was spent in only driving to the beach and back. But now, she
would prefer that the Sylvesters would not come till the dresses
and the trunks did. All she could find out, from inquiry, on
returning, was, "that another lot was expected on Saturday." The
next day she suggested: "Suppose we take our dinner with us to
the beach, and spend the day." The Sylvesters and Ann Maria then
would find them on the beach, where her travelling-dress would
be quite appropriate. "I am a little tired," she added, "of going
back and forward over the same road; but when the rest come we
can vary it."
The plan was agreed to, but Mr. Peterkin and the little boys
remained to go over the farm again.
They had an excellent picnic on the beach, under the shadow of a
ledge of sand.
They were just putting up their things when they saw a party of
people approaching from the other end of the beach.
"I am glad to see some pleasant-looking people at last," said
Elizabeth Eliza, and they all turned to walk toward them.
As the other party drew near she recognized Ann Maria
Bromwick! And with her were the Sylvesters,so they proved to
be, for she had never seen them before.
"What! you have come in our absence!" exclaimed Elizabeth Eliza.
"And we have been wondering what had become of you!" cried
"I thought you would be at the farm before us," said Elizabeth
Eliza to Mr.
Sylvester, to whom she was introduced.
"We have been looking for you at the farm," he was saying to her.
"But we are at the farm," said Elizabeth Eliza.
"And so are we!" said Ann Maria.
"We have been there two days," said Mrs. Peterkin.
"And so have we, at the 'Old Farm,' just at the end of the beach,"
said Ann Maria.
"Our farm is old enough," said Solomon John.
"Whereabouts are you?" asked Mr. Sylvester.
Elizabeth Eliza pointed to the road they had come.
A smile came over Mr. Sylvester's face; he knew the country well.
"You mean the farm-house behind the hill, at the end of the road?"
The Peterkins all nodded affirmatively.
Ann Maria could not restrain herself, as broad smiles came over
the faces of all the party.
"Why, that is the Poor-house!" she exclaimed.
"The town farm," Mr. Sylvester explained, deprecatingly.
The Peterkins were silent for a while. The Sylvesters tried not to
"There certainly were some disagreeable old men and women
there!" said Elizabeth Eliza, at last.
"But we have surely been made very comfortable," Mrs. Peterkin
"A very simple mistake," said Mr. Sylvester, continuing his
amusement. "Your trunks arrived all right at the 'Old Farm,' two
"Let us go back directly," said Elizabeth Eliza.
"As directly as our horse will allow," said Agamemnon.
Mr. Sylvester helped them into the wagon. "Your rooms are
awaiting you," he said. "Why not come with us?"
"We want to find Mr. Peterkin before we do anything else," said
They rode back in silence, till Elizabeth Eliza said, "Do you
suppose they took us for paupers?"
"We have not seen any 'they,'" said Solomon John, "except Mr.
At the entrance of the farm-yard Mr. Peterkin met them.
"I have been looking for you," he said. "I have just made a
"We have made it, too," said Elizabeth Eliza; "we are in the
"How did you find it out?" Mrs. Peterkin asked of Mr. Peterkin.
"Mr. Atwood came to me, puzzled with a telegram that had been
brought to him from the station, which he ought to have got two
days ago. It came from a Mr.
Peters, whom they were expecting here this week, with his wife
and boys, to take charge of the establishment. He telegraphed to
say he cannot come till Friday.
Now, Mr. Atwood had supposed we were the Peterses, whom he
had sent for the day we arrived, not having received this
"Oh, I see, I see!" said Mrs. Peterkin; "and we did get into a
muddle at the station!"
Mr. Atwood met them at the porch. "I beg pardon," he said. "I hope
you have found it comfortable here, and shall be glad to have you
stay till Mr. Peters' family comes."
At this moment wheels were heard. Mr. Sylvester had arrived, with
an open wagon, to take the Peterkins to the "Old Farm."
Martha was waiting within the door, and said to Elizabeth Eliza,
"Beg pardon, miss, for thinking you was one of the inmates, and
putting you in that room. We thought it so kind of Mrs. Peters to
take you off every day with the other gentlemen, that looked so
Elizabeth Eliza did not know whether to laugh or to cry.
Mr. Peterkin and the little boys decided to stay at the farm till
Friday. But Agamemnon and Solomon John preferred to leave
with Mr. Sylvester, and to take their electrical machine and
camera when they came for Mr. Peterkin.
Mrs. Peterkin was tempted to stay another night, to be wakened
once more by the guinea-hens. But Elizabeth Eliza bore her off.
There was not much packing to be done. She shouted good-by into
the ears of the deaf old lady, and waved her hand to the foreign
one, and glad to bid farewell to the old men with their pipes,
leaning against the porch.
"This time," she said, "it is not our trunks that were lost"
"But we, as a family," said Mrs. Peterkin.