rebecca of sunnybrook farmby kate douglas wiggin to my mother her eyes as stars of twilight fair; like twilight's,too, her dusky hair; but all things else about her drawnfrom may-time and the cheerful dawn; a dancing shape, an image gay,to haunt, to startle, and way-lay. wordsworth. chapter i "we are seven" the old stage coach was rumbling along thedusty road that runs from maplewood to riverboro.
the day was as warm as midsummer, though itwas only the middle of may, and mr. jeremiah cobb was favoring the horses as much as possible,yet never losing sight of the fact that he carried the mail. the hills were many, andthe reins lay loosely in his hands as he lolled back in his seat and extended one foot andleg luxuriously over the dashboard. his brimmed hat of worn felt was well pulled over hiseyes, and he revolved a quid of tobacco in his left cheek. there was one passenger in the coach,â€”asmall dark-haired person in a glossy buff calico dress. she was so slender and so stifflystarched that she slid from space to space on the leather cushions, though she bracedherself against the middle seat with her feet
and extended her cotton-gloved hands on eachside, in order to maintain some sort of balance. whenever the wheels sank farther than usualinto a rut, or jolted suddenly over a stone, she bounded involuntarily into the air, camedown again, pushed back her funny little straw hat, and picked up or settled more firmlya small pink sun shade, which seemed to be her chief responsibility,â€”unless we excepta bead purse, into which she looked whenever the condition of the roads would permit, findinggreat apparent satisfaction in that its precious contents neither disappeared nor grew less.mr. cobb guessed nothing of these harassing details of travel, his business being to carrypeople to their destinations, not, necessarily, to make them comfortable on the way. indeedhe had forgotten the very existence of this
one unnoteworthy little passenger. when he was about to leave the post-officein maplewood that morning, a woman had alighted from a wagon, and coming up to him, inquiredwhether this were the riverboro stage, and if he were mr. cobb. being answered in theaffirmative, she nodded to a child who was eagerly waiting for the answer, and who rantowards her as if she feared to be a moment too late. the child might have been ten oreleven years old perhaps, but whatever the number of her summers, she had an air of beingsmall for her age. her mother helped her into the stage coach, deposited a bundle and abouquet of lilacs beside her, superintended the "roping on" behind of an old hair trunk,and finally paid the fare, counting out the
silver with great care. "i want you should take her to my sisters'in riverboro," she said. "do you know mirandy and jane sawyer? they live in the brick house." lord bless your soul, he knew 'em as wellas if he'd made 'em! "well, she's going there, and they're expectingher. will you keep an eye on her, please? if she can get out anywhere and get with folks,or get anybody in to keep her company, she'll do it. good-by, rebecca; try not to get intoany mischief, and sit quiet, so you'll look neat an' nice when you get there. don't beany trouble to mr. cobb.â€”you see, she's kind of excited.â€”we came on the cars fromtemperance yesterday, slept all night at my
cousin's, and drove from her houseâ€”eightmiles it isâ€”this morning." "good-by, mother, don't worry; you know itisn't as if i hadn't traveled before." the woman gave a short sardonic laugh andsaid in an explanatory way to mr. cobb, "she's been to wareham and stayed over night; thatisn't much to be journey-proud on!" "it was traveling, mother," said the childeagerly and willfully. "it was leaving the farm, and putting up lunch in a basket, anda little riding and a little steam cars, and we carried our nightgowns." "don't tell the whole village about it, ifwe did," said the mother, interrupting the reminiscences of this experienced voyager."haven't i told you before," she whispered,
in a last attempt at discipline, "that youshouldn't talk about night gowns and stockings andâ€”things like that, in a loud tone ofvoice, and especially when there's men folks round?" "i know, mother, i know, and i won't. alli want to say is"â€”here mr. cobb gave a cluck, slapped the reins, and the horses startedsedately on their daily taskâ€”"all i want to say is that it is a journey when"â€”thestage was really under way now and rebecca had to put her head out of the window overthe door in order to finish her sentenceâ€”"it is a journey when you carry a nightgown!" the objectionable word, uttered in a hightreble, floated back to the offended ears
of mrs. randall, who watched the stage outof sight, gathered up her packages from the bench at the store door, and stepped intothe wagon that had been standing at the hitching-post. as she turned the horse's head towards homeshe rose to her feet for a moment, and shading her eyes with her hand, looked at a cloudof dust in the dim distance. "mirandy'll have her hands full, i guess,"she said to herself; "but i shouldn't wonder if it would be the making of rebecca." all this had been half an hour ago, and thesun, the heat, the dust, the contemplation of errands to be done in the great metropolisof milltown, had lulled mr. cobb's never active mind into complete oblivion as to his promiseof keeping an eye on rebecca.
suddenly he heard a small voice above therattle and rumble of the wheels and the creaking of the harness. at first he thought it wasa cricket, a tree toad, or a bird, but having determined the direction from which it came,he turned his head over his shoulder and saw a small shape hanging as far out of the windowas safety would allow. a long black braid of hair swung with the motion of the coach;the child held her hat in one hand and with the other made ineffectual attempts to stabthe driver with her microscopic sunshade. "please let me speak!" she called. mr. cobb drew up the horses obediently. "does it cost any more to ride up there withyou?" she asked. "it's so slippery and shiny
down here, and the stage is so much too bigfor me, that i rattle round in it till i'm 'most black and blue. and the windows areso small i can only see pieces of things, and i've 'most broken my neck stretching roundto find out whether my trunk has fallen off the back. it's my mother's trunk, and she'svery choice of it." mr. cobb waited until this flow of conversation,or more properly speaking this flood of criticism, had ceased, and then said jocularly:â€” "you can come up if you want to; there ain'tno extry charge to sit side o' me." whereupon he helped her out, "boosted" her up to thefront seat, and resumed his own place. rebecca sat down carefully, smoothing herdress under her with painstaking precision,
and putting her sunshade under its extendedfolds between the driver and herself. this done she pushed back her hat, pulled up herdarned white cotton gloves, and said delightedly:â€” "oh! this is better! this is like traveling!i am a real passenger now, and down there i felt like our setting hen when we shut herup in a coop. i hope we have a long, long ways to go?" "oh! we've only just started on it," mr. cobbresponded genially; "it's more 'n two hours." "only two hours," she sighed "that will behalf past one; mother will be at cousin ann's, the children at home will have had their dinner,and hannah cleared all away. i have some lunch, because mother said it would be a bad beginningto get to the brick house hungry and have
aunt mirandy have to get me something to eatthe first thing.â€”it's a good growing day, isn't it?" "it is, certain; too hot, most. why don'tyou put up your parasol?" she extended her dress still farther overthe article in question as she said, "oh dear no! i never put it up when the sun shines;pink fades awfully, you know, and i only carry it to meetin' cloudy sundays; sometimes thesun comes out all of a sudden, and i have a dreadful time covering it up; it's the dearestthing in life to me, but it's an awful care." at this moment the thought gradually permeatedmr. jeremiah cobb's slow-moving mind that the bird perched by his side was a bird ofvery different feather from those to which
he was accustomed in his daily drives. heput the whip back in its socket, took his foot from the dashboard, pushed his hat back,blew his quid of tobacco into the road, and having thus cleared his mental decks for action,he took his first good look at the passenger, a look which she met with a grave, childlikestare of friendly curiosity. the buff calico was faded, but scrupulouslyclean, and starched within an inch of its life. from the little standing ruffle at theneck the child's slender throat rose very brown and thin, and the head looked smallto bear the weight of dark hair that hung in a thick braid to her waist. she wore anodd little vizored cap of white leghorn, which may either have been the latest thing in children'shats, or some bit of ancient finery furbished
up for the occasion. it was trimmed with atwist of buff ribbon and a cluster of black and orange porcupine quills, which hung orbristled stiffly over one ear, giving her the quaintest and most unusual appearance.her face was without color and sharp in outline. as to features, she must have had the usualnumber, though mr. cobb's attention never proceeded so far as nose, forehead, or chin,being caught on the way and held fast by the eyes. rebecca's eyes were like faith,â€”"thesubstance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." under her delicatelyetched brows they glowed like two stars, their dancing lights half hidden in lustrous darkness.their glance was eager and full of interest, yet never satisfied; their steadfast gazewas brilliant and mysterious, and had the
effect of looking directly through the obviousto something beyond, in the object, in the landscape, in you. they had never been accountedfor, rebecca's eyes. the school teacher and the minister at temperance had tried and failed;the young artist who came for the summer to sketch the red barn, the ruined mill, andthe bridge ended by giving up all these local beauties and devoting herself to the faceof a child,â€”a small, plain face illuminated by a pair of eyes carrying such messages,such suggestions, such hints of sleeping power and insight, that one never tired of lookinginto their shining depths, nor of fancying that what one saw there was the reflectionof one's own thought. mr. cobb made none of these generalizations;his remark to his wife that night was simply
to the effect that whenever the child lookedat him she knocked him galley-west. "miss ross, a lady that paints, gave me thesunshade," said rebecca, when she had exchanged looks with mr. cobb and learned his face byheart. "did you notice the pinked double ruffle and the white tip and handle? they're ivory.the handle is scarred, you see. that's because fanny sucked and chewed it in meeting wheni wasn't looking. i've never felt the same to fanny since." "is fanny your sister?" "she's one of them." "how many are there of you?"
"seven. there's verses written about sevenchildren:â€” "'quick was the little maid's reply, o master!we are seven!' i learned it to speak in school, but the scholarswere hateful and laughed. hannah is the oldest, i come next, then john, then jenny, then mark,then fanny, then mira." "well, that is a big family!" "far too big, everybody says," replied rebeccawith an unexpected and thoroughly grown-up candor that induced mr. cobb to murmur, "iswan!" and insert more tobacco in his left cheek. "they're dear, but such a bother, and costso much to feed, you see," she rippled on.
"hannah and i haven't done anything but putbabies to bed at night and take them up in the morning for years and years. but it'sfinished, that's one comfort, and we'll have a lovely time when we're all grown up andthe mortgage is paid off." "all finished? oh, you mean you've come away?" "no, i mean they're all over and done with;our family 's finished. mother says so, and she always keeps her promises. there hasn'tbeen any since mira, and she's three. she was born the day father died. aunt mirandawanted hannah to come to riverboro instead of me, but mother couldn't spare her; shetakes hold of housework better than i do, hannah does. i told mother last night if therewas likely to be any more children while i
was away i'd have to be sent for, for whenthere's a baby it always takes hannah and me both, for mother has the cooking and thefarm." "oh, you live on a farm, do ye? where is it?â€”nearto where you got on?" "near? why, it must be thousands of miles!we came from temperance in the cars. then we drove a long ways to cousin ann's and wentto bed. then we got up and drove ever so far to maplewood, where the stage was. our farmis away off from everywheres, but our school and meeting house is at temperance, and that'sonly two miles. sitting up here with you is most as good as climbing the meeting-housesteeple. i know a boy who's been up on our steeple. he said the people and cows lookedlike flies. we haven't met any people yet,
but i'm kind of disappointed in the cows;â€”theydon't look so little as i hoped they would; still (brightening) they don't look quiteas big as if we were down side of them, do they? boys always do the nice splendid things,and girls can only do the nasty dull ones that get left over. they can't climb so high,or go so far, or stay out so late, or run so fast, or anything." mr. cobb wiped his mouth on the back of hishand and gasped. he had a feeling that he was being hurried from peak to peak of a mountainrange without time to take a good breath in between. "i can't seem to locate your farm," he said,"though i've been to temperance and used to
live up that way. what's your folks' name?" "randall. my mother's name is aurelia randall;our names are hannah lucy randall, rebecca rowena randall, john halifax randall, jennylind randall, marquis randall, fanny ellsler randall, and miranda randall. mother namedhalf of us and father the other half, but we didn't come out even, so they both thoughtit would be nice to name mira after aunt miranda in riverboro; they hoped it might do somegood, but it didn't, and now we call her mira. we are all named after somebody in particular.hannah is hannah at the window binding shoes, and i am taken out of ivanhoe; john halifaxwas a gentleman in a book; mark is after his uncle marquis de lafayette that died a twin.(twins very often don't live to grow up, and
triplets almost neverâ€”did you know that,mr. cobb?) we don't call him marquis, only mark. jenny is named for a singer and fannyfor a beautiful dancer, but mother says they're both misfits, for jenny can't carry a tuneand fanny's kind of stiff-legged. mother would like to call them jane and frances and giveup their middle names, but she says it wouldn't be fair to father. she says we must alwaysstand up for father, because everything was against him, and he wouldn't have died ifhe hadn't had such bad luck. i think that's all there is to tell about us," she finishedseriously. "land o' liberty! i should think it was enough,"ejaculated mr. cobb. "there wa'n't many names left when your mother got through choosin'!you've got a powerful good memory! i guess
it ain't no trouble for you to learn yourlessons, is it?" "not much; the trouble is to get the shoesto go and learn 'em. these are spandy new i've got on, and they have to last six months.mother always says to save my shoes. there don't seem to be any way of saving shoes buttaking 'em off and going barefoot; but i can't do that in riverboro without shaming auntmirandy. i'm going to school right along now when i'm living with aunt mirandy, and intwo years i'm going to the seminary at wareham; mother says it ought to be the making of me!i'm going to be a painter like miss ross when i get through school. at any rate, that'swhat i think i'm going to be. mother thinks i'd better teach."
"your farm ain't the old hobbs place, is it?" "no, it's just randall's farm. at least that'swhat mother calls it. i call it sunnybrook farm." "i guess it don't make no difference whatyou call it so long as you know where it is," remarked mr. cobb sententiously. rebecca turned the full light of her eyesupon him reproachfully, almost severely, as she answered:â€” "oh! don't say that, and be like all the rest!it does make a difference what you call things. when i say randall's farm, do you see howit looks?"
"no, i can't say i do," responded mr. cobbuneasily. "now when i say sunnybrook farm, what doesit make you think of?" mr. cobb felt like a fish removed from hisnative element and left panting on the sand; there was no evading the awful responsibilityof a reply, for rebecca's eyes were searchlights, that pierced the fiction of his brain andperceived the bald spot on the back of his head. "i s'pose there's a brook somewheres nearit," he said timorously. rebecca looked disappointed but not quitedis-heartened. "that's pretty good," she said encouragingly. "you're warm but not hot; there'sa brook, but not a common brook. it has young
trees and baby bushes on each side of it,and it's a shallow chattering little brook with a white sandy bottom and lots of littleshiny pebbles. whenever there's a bit of sunshine the brook catches it, and it's always fullof sparkles the livelong day. don't your stomach feel hollow? mine doest i was so 'fraid i'dmiss the stage i couldn't eat any breakfast." "you'd better have your lunch, then. i don'teat nothin' till i get to milltown; then i get a piece o' pie and cup o' coffee." "i wish i could see milltown. i suppose it'sbigger and grander even than wareham; more like paris? miss ross told me about paris;she bought my pink sunshade there and my bead purse. you see how it opens with a snap? i'vetwenty cents in it, and it's got to last three
months, for stamps and paper and ink. mothersays aunt mirandy won't want to buy things like those when she's feeding and clothingme and paying for my school books." "paris ain't no great," said mr. cobb disparagingly."it's the dullest place in the state o' maine. i've druv there many a time." again rebecca was obliged to reprove mr. cobb,tacitly and quietly, but none the less surely, though the reproof was dealt with one glance,quickly sent and as quickly withdrawn. "paris is the capital of france, and you haveto go to it on a boat," she said instructively. "it's in my geography, and it says: 'the frenchare a gay and polite people, fond of dancing and light wines.' i asked the teacher whatlight wines were, and he thought it was something
like new cider, or maybe ginger pop. i cansee paris as plain as day by just shutting my eyes. the beautiful ladies are always gaylydancing around with pink sunshades and bead purses, and the grand gentlemen are politelydancing and drinking ginger pop. but you can see milltown most every day with your eyeswide open," rebecca said wistfully. "milltown ain't no great, neither," repliedmr. cobb, with the air of having visited all the cities of the earth and found them asnaught. "now you watch me heave this newspaper right onto mis' brown's doorstep." piff! and the packet landed exactly as itwas intended, on the corn husk mat in front of the screen door.
"oh, how splendid that was!" cried rebeccawith enthusiasm. "just like the knife thrower mark saw at the circus. i wish there was along, long row of houses each with a corn husk mat and a screen door in the middle,and a newspaper to throw on every one!" "i might fail on some of 'em, you know," saidmr. cobb, beaming with modest pride. "if your aunt mirandy'll let you, i'll take you downto milltown some day this summer when the stage ain't full." a thrill of delicious excitement ran throughrebecca's frame, from her new shoes up, up to the leghorn cap and down the black braid.she pressed mr. cobb's knee ardently and said in a voice choking with tears of joy and astonishment,"oh, it can't be true, it can't; to think
i should see milltown. it's like having afairy godmother who asks you your wish and then gives it to you! did you ever read cinderella,or the yellow dwarf, or the enchanted frog, or the fair one with golden locks?" "no," said mr. cobb cautiously, after a moment'sreflection. "i don't seem to think i ever did read jest those partic'lar ones. where'dyou get a chance at so much readin'?" "oh, i've read lots of books," answered rebeccacasually. "father's and miss ross's and all the dif'rent school teachers', and all inthe sunday-school library. i've read the lamplighter, and scottish chiefs, and ivanhoe, and theheir of redclyffe, and cora, the doctor's wife, and david copperfield, and the goldof chickaree, and plutarch's lives, and thaddeus
of warsaw, and pilgrim's progress, and lotsmore.â€”what have you read?" "i've never happened to read those partic'larbooks; but land! i've read a sight in my time! nowadays i'm so drove i get along with thealmanac, the weekly argus, and the maine state agriculturist.â€”there's the river again;this is the last long hill, and when we get to the top of it we'll see the chimbleys ofriverboro in the distance. 't ain't fur. i live 'bout half a mile beyond the brick housemyself." rebecca's hand stirred nervously in her lapand she moved in her seat. "i didn't think i was going to be afraid," she said almostunder her breath; "but i guess i am, just a little miteâ€”when you say it's coming sonear."
"would you go back?" asked mr. cobb curiously. she flashed him an intrepid look and thensaid proudly, "i'd never go backâ€”i might be frightened, but i'd be ashamed to run.going to aunt mirandy's is like going down cellar in the dark. there might be ogres andgiants under the stairs,â€”but, as i tell hannah, there might be elves and fairies andenchanted frogs!â€”is there a main street to the village, like that in wareham?" "i s'pose you might call it a main street,an' your aunt sawyer lives on it, but there ain't no stores nor mills, an' it's an awfulone-horse village! you have to go 'cross the river an' get on to our side if you want tosee anything goin' on."
"i'm almost sorry," she sighed, "because itwould be so grand to drive down a real main street, sitting high up like this behind twosplendid horses, with my pink sunshade up, and everybody in town wondering who the bunchof lilacs and the hair trunk belongs to. it would be just like the beautiful lady in theparade. last summer the circus came to temperance, and they had a procession in the morning.mother let us all walk in and wheel mira in the baby carriage, because we couldn't affordto go to the circus in the afternoon. and there were lovely horses and animals in cages,and clowns on horseback; and at the very end came a little red and gold chariot drawn bytwo ponies, and in it, sitting on a velvet cushion, was the snake charmer, all dressedin satin and spangles. she was so beautiful
beyond compare, mr. cobb, that you had toswallow lumps in your throat when you looked at her, and little cold feelings crept upand down your back. don't you know how i mean? didn't you ever see anybody that made youfeel like that?" mr. cobb was more distinctly uncomfortableat this moment than he had been at any one time during the eventful morning, but he evadedthe point dexterously by saying, "there ain't no harm, as i can see, in our makin' the grandentry in the biggest style we can. i'll take the whip out, set up straight, an' drive fast;you hold your bo'quet in your lap, an' open your little red parasol, an' we'll jest makethe natives stare!" the child's face was radiant for a moment,but the glow faded just as quickly as she
said, "i forgotâ€”mother put me inside, andmaybe she'd want me to be there when i got to aunt mirandy's. maybe i'd be more genteelinside, and then i wouldn't have to be jumped down and my clothes fly up, but could openthe door and step down like a lady passenger. would you please stop a minute, mr. cobb,and let me change?" the stage driver good-naturedly pulled uphis horses, lifted the excited little creature down, opened the door, and helped her in,putting the lilacs and the pink sunshade beside her. "we've had a great trip," he said, "and we'vegot real well acquainted, haven't we?â€”you won't forget about milltown?"
"never!" she exclaimed fervently; "and you'resure you won't, either?" "never! cross my heart!" vowed mr. cobb solemnly,as he remounted his perch; and as the stage rumbled down the village street between thegreen maples, those who looked from their windows saw a little brown elf in buff calicositting primly on the back seat holding a great bouquet tightly in one hand and a pinkparasol in the other. had they been farsighted enough they might have seen, when the stageturned into the side dooryard of the old brick house, a calico yoke rising and falling tempestuouslyover the beating heart beneath, the red color coming and going in two pale cheeks, and amist of tears swimming in two brilliant dark eyes.
rebecca's journey had ended. "there's the stage turnin' into the sawyergirls' dooryard," said mrs. perkins to her husband. "that must be the niece from up temperanceway. it seems they wrote to aurelia and invited hannah, the oldest, but aurelia said she couldspare rebecca better, if 't was all the same to mirandy 'n' jane; so it's rebecca that'scome. she'll be good comp'ny for our emma jane, but i don't believe they'll keep herthree months! she looks black as an injun what i can see of her; black and kind of up-an-comin'.they used to say that one o' the randalls married a spanish woman, somebody that wasteachin' music and languages at a boardin' school. lorenzo was dark complected, you remember,and this child is, too. well, i don't know
as spanish blood is any real disgrace, notif it's a good ways back and the woman was respectable."end of chapter i chapter ii rebecca's relations they had been called the sawyer girls whenmiranda at eighteen, jane at twelve, and aurelia at eight participated in the various activitiesof village life; and when riverboro fell into a habit of thought or speech, it saw no reasonfor falling out of it, at any rate in the same century. so although miranda and janewere between fifty and sixty at the time this story opens, riverboro still called them thesawyer girls. they were spinsters; but aurelia,
the youngest, had made what she called a romanticmarriage and what her sisters termed a mighty poor speculation. "there's worse things thanbein' old maids," they said; whether they thought so is quite another matter. the element of romance in aurelia's marriageexisted chiefly in the fact that mr. l. d. m. randall had a soul above farming or tradingand was a votary of the muses. he taught the weekly singing-school (then a feature of villagelife) in half a dozen neighboring towns, he played the violin and "called off" at dances,or evoked rich harmonies from church melodeons on sundays. he taught certain uncouth lads,when they were of an age to enter society, the intricacies of contra dances, or the stepsof the schottische and mazurka, and he was
a marked figure in all social assemblies,though conspicuously absent from town-meetings and the purely masculine gatherings at thestore or tavern or bridge. his hair was a little longer, his hands alittle whiter, his shoes a little thinner, his manner a trifle more polished, than thatof his soberer mates; indeed the only department of life in which he failed to shine was themaking of sufficient money to live upon. luckily he had no responsibilities; his father andhis twin brother had died when he was yet a boy, and his mother, whose only noteworthyachievement had been the naming of her twin sons marquis de lafayette and lorenzo de medicirandall, had supported herself and educated her child by making coats up to the very dayof her death. she was wont to say plaintively,
"i'm afraid the faculties was too much dividedup between my twins. l. d. m. is awful talented, but i guess m. d. l. would 'a' ben the practicalone if he'd 'a' lived." "l. d. m. was practical enough to get therichest girl in the village," replied mrs. robinson. "yes," sighed his mother, "there it is again;if the twins could 'a' married aurelia sawyer, 't would 'a' been all right. l. d. m. wastalented 'nough to get reely's money, but m. d. l. would 'a' ben practical 'nough tohave kep' it." aurelia's share of the modest sawyer propertyhad been put into one thing after another by the handsome and luckless lorenzo de medici.he had a graceful and poetic way of making
an investment for each new son and daughterthat blessed their union. "a birthday present for our child, aurelia," he would say,â€”"alittle nest-egg for the future;" but aurelia once remarked in a moment of bitterness thatthe hen never lived that could sit on those eggs and hatch anything out of them. miranda and jane had virtually washed theirhands of aurelia when she married lorenzo de medici randall. having exhausted the resourcesof riverboro and its immediate vicinity, the unfortunate couple had moved on and on ina steadily decreasing scale of prosperity until they had reached temperance, where theyhad settled down and invited fate to do its worst, an invitation which was promptly accepted.the maiden sisters at home wrote to aurelia
two or three times a year, and sent modestbut serviceable presents to the children at christmas, but refused to assist l. d. m.with the regular expenses of his rapidly growing family. his last investment, made shortlybefore the birth of miranda (named in a lively hope of favors which never came), was a smallfarm two miles from temperance. aurelia managed this herself, and so it proved a home at least,and a place for the unsuccessful lorenzo to die and to be buried from, a duty somewhattoo long deferred, many thought, which he performed on the day of mira's birth. it was in this happy-go-lucky household thatrebecca had grown up. it was just an ordinary family; two or three of the children werehandsome and the rest plain, three of them
rather clever, two industrious, and two commonplaceand dull. rebecca had her father's facility and had been his aptest pupil. she "carried"the alto by ear, danced without being taught, played the melodeon without knowing the notes.her love of books she inherited chiefly from her mother, who found it hard to sweep orcook or sew when there was a novel in the house. fortunately books were scarce, or thechildren might sometimes have gone ragged and hungry. but other forces had been at work in rebecca,and the traits of unknown forbears had been wrought into her fibre. lorenzo de mediciwas flabby and boneless; rebecca was a thing of fire and spirit: he lacked energy and courage;rebecca was plucky at two and dauntless at
five. mrs. randall and hannah had no senseof humor; rebecca possessed and showed it as soon as she could walk and talk. she had not been able, however, to borrowher parents' virtues and those of other generous ancestors and escape all the weaknesses inthe calendar. she had not her sister hannah's patience or her brother john's sturdy stayingpower. her will was sometimes willfulness, and the ease with which she did most thingsled her to be impatient of hard tasks or long ones. but whatever else there was or was not,there was freedom at randall's farm. the children grew, worked, fought, ate what and slept wherethey could; loved one another and their parents pretty well, but with no tropical passion;and educated themselves for nine months of
the year, each one in his own way. as a result of this method hannah, who couldonly have been developed by forces applied from without, was painstaking, humdrum, andlimited; while rebecca, who apparently needed nothing but space to develop in, and a knowledgeof terms in which to express herself, grew and grew and grew, always from within outward.her forces of one sort and another had seemingly been set in motion when she was born; theyneeded no daily spur, but moved of their own accordâ€”towards what no one knew, least ofall rebecca herself. the field for the exhibition of her creative instinct was painfully small,and the only use she had made of it as yet was to leave eggs out of the corn bread oneday and milk another, to see how it would
turn out; to part fanny's hair sometimes inthe middle, sometimes on the right, and sometimes on the left side; and to play all sorts offantastic pranks with the children, occasionally bringing them to the table as fictitious orhistorical characters found in her favorite books. rebecca amused her mother and her familygenerally, but she never was counted of serious importance, and though considered "smart"and old for her age, she was never thought superior in any way. aurelia's experienceof genius, as exemplified in the deceased lorenzo de medici led her into a greater admirationof plain, every-day common sense, a quality in which rebecca, it must be confessed, seemedsometimes painfully deficient. hannah was her mother's favorite, so far asaurelia could indulge herself in such recreations
as partiality. the parent who is obliged tofeed and clothe seven children on an income of fifteen dollars a month seldom has timeto discriminate carefully between the various members of her brood, but hannah at fourteenwas at once companion and partner in all her mother's problems. she it was who kept thehouse while aurelia busied herself in barn and field. rebecca was capable of certainset tasks, such as keeping the small children from killing themselves and one another, feedingthe poultry, picking up chips, hulling strawberries, wiping dishes; but she was thought irresponsible,and aurelia, needing somebody to lean on (having never enjoyed that luxury with the giftedlorenzo), leaned on hannah. hannah showed the result of this attitude somewhat, beinga trifle careworn in face and sharp in manner;
but she was a self-contained, well-behaved,dependable child, and that is the reason her aunts had invited her to riverboro to be amember of their family and participate in all the advantages of their loftier positionin the world. it was several years since miranda and jane had seen the children, but they rememberedwith pleasure that hannah had not spoken a word during the interview, and it was forthis reason that they had asked for the pleasure of her company. rebecca, on the other hand,had dressed up the dog in john's clothes, and being requested to get the three youngerchildren ready for dinner, she had held them under the pump and then proceeded to "smack"their hair flat to their heads by vigorous brushing, bringing them to the table in sucha moist and hideous state of shininess that
their mother was ashamed of their appearance.rebecca's own black locks were commonly pushed smoothly off her forehead, but on this occasionshe formed what i must perforce call by its only name, a spit-curl, directly in the centreof her brow, an ornament which she was allowed to wear a very short time, only in fact tillhannah was able to call her mother's attention to it, when she was sent into the next roomto remove it and to come back looking like a christian. this command she interpretedsomewhat too literally perhaps, because she contrived in a space of two minutes an extremelypious style of hairdressing, fully as effective if not as startling as the first. these anticswere solely the result of nervous irritation, a mood born of miss miranda sawyer's stiff,grim, and martial attitude. the remembrance
of rebecca was so vivid that their sisteraurelia's letter was something of a shock to the quiet, elderly spinsters of the brickhouse; for it said that hannah could not possibly be spared for a few years yet, but that rebeccawould come as soon as she could be made ready; that the offer was most thankfully appreciated,and that the regular schooling and church privileges, as well as the influence of thesawyer home, would doubtless be "the making of rebecca."end of chapter ii chapter iii a difference in hearts "i don' know as i cal'lated to be the makin'of any child," miranda had said as she folded
aurelia's letter and laid it in the light-standdrawer. "i s'posed, of course, aurelia would send us the one we asked for, but it's justlike her to palm off that wild young one on somebody else." "you remember we said that rebecca or evenjenny might come, in case hannah couldn't," interposed jane. "i know we did, but we hadn't any notion itwould turn out that way," grumbled miranda. "she was a mite of a thing when we saw herthree years ago," ventured jane; "she's had time to improve." "and time to grow worse!"
"won't it be kind of a privilege to put heron the right track?" asked jane timidly. "i don' know about the privilege part; it'llbe considerable of a chore, i guess. if her mother hain't got her on the right track bynow, she won't take to it herself all of a sudden." this depressed and depressing frame of mindhad lasted until the eventful day dawned on which rebecca was to arrive. "if she makes as much work after she comesas she has before, we might as well give up hope of ever gettin' any rest," sighed mirandaas she hung the dish towels on the barberry bushes at the side door.
"but we should have had to clean house, rebeccaor no rebecca," urged jane; "and i can't see why you've scrubbed and washed and baked asyou have for that one child, nor why you've about bought out watson's stock of dry goods." "i know aurelia if you don't," responded miranda."i've seen her house, and i've seen that batch o' children, wearin' one another's clothesand never carin' whether they had 'em on right sid' out or not; i know what they've had tolive and dress on, and so do you. that child will like as not come here with a passel o'things borrowed from the rest o' the family. she'll have hannah's shoes and john's undershirtsand mark's socks most likely. i suppose she never had a thimble on her finger in her life,but she'll know the feelin' o' one before
she's ben here many days. i've bought a pieceof unbleached muslin and a piece o' brown gingham for her to make up; that'll keep herbusy. of course she won't pick up anything after herself; she probably never see a duster,and she'll be as hard to train into our ways as if she was a heathen." "she'll make a dif'rence," acknowledged jane,"but she may turn out more biddable 'n we think." "she'll mind when she's spoken to, biddableor not," remarked miranda with a shake of the last towel. miranda sawyer had a heart, of course, butshe had never used it for any other purpose
than the pumping and circulating of blood.she was just, conscientious, economical, industrious; a regular attendant at church and sunday-school,and a member of the state missionary and bible societies, but in the presence of all thesechilly virtues you longed for one warm little fault, or lacking that, one likable failing,something to make you sure she was thoroughly alive. she had never had any education otherthan that of the neighborhood district school, for her desires and ambitions had all pointedto the management of the house, the farm, and the dairy. jane, on the other hand, hadgone to an academy, and also to a boarding-school for young ladies; so had aurelia; and afterall the years that had elapsed there was still a slight difference in language and in mannerbetween the elder and the two younger sisters.
jane, too, had had the inestimable advantageof a sorrow; not the natural grief at the loss of her aged father and mother, for shehad been content to let them go; but something far deeper. she was engaged to marry youngtom carter, who had nothing to marry on, it is true, but who was sure to have, some timeor other. then the war broke out. tom enlisted at the first call. up to that time jane hadloved him with a quiet, friendly sort of affection, and had given her country a mild emotion ofthe same sort. but the strife, the danger, the anxiety of the time, set new currentsof feeling in motion. life became something other than the three meals a day, the roundof cooking, washing, sewing, and church going. personal gossip vanished from the villageconversation. big things took the place of
trifling ones,â€”sacred sorrows of wives andmothers, pangs of fathers and husbands, self-denials, sympathies, new desire to bear one another'sburdens. men and women grew fast in those days of the nation's trouble and danger, andjane awoke from the vague dull dream she had hitherto called life to new hopes, new fears,new purposes. then after a year's anxiety, a year when one never looked in the newspaperwithout dread and sickness of suspense, came the telegram saying that tom was wounded;and without so much as asking miranda's leave, she packed her trunk and started for the south.she was in time to hold tom's hand through hours of pain; to show him for once the heartof a prim new england girl when it is ablaze with love and grief; to put her arms abouthim so that he could have a home to die in,
and that was all;â€”all, but it served. it carried her through weary months of nursingâ€”nursingof other soldiers for tom's dear sake; it sent her home a better woman; and though shehad never left riverboro in all the years that lay between, and had grown into the counterfeitpresentment of her sister and of all other thin, spare, new england spinsters, it wassomething of a counterfeit, and underneath was still the faint echo of that wild heart-beatof her girlhood. having learned the trick of beating and loving and suffering, the poorfaithful heart persisted, although it lived on memories and carried on its sentimentaloperations mostly in secret. "you're soft, jane," said miranda once; "youallers was soft, and you allers will be. if
't wa'n't for me keeping you stiffened up,i b'lieve you'd leak out o' the house into the dooryard." it was already past the appointed hour formr. cobb and his coach to be lumbering down the street. "the stage ought to be here," said miranda,glancing nervously at the tall clock for the twentieth time. "i guess everything 's done.i've tacked up two thick towels back of her washstand and put a mat under her slop-jar;but children are awful hard on furniture. i expect we sha'n't know this house a yearfrom now." jane's frame of mind was naturally depressedand timorous, having been affected by miranda's
gloomy presages of evil to come. the onlydifference between the sisters in this matter was that while miranda only wondered how theycould endure rebecca, jane had flashes of inspiration in which she wondered how rebeccawould endure them. it was in one of these flashes that she ran up the back stairs toput a vase of apple blossoms and a red tomato-pincushion on rebecca's bureau. the stage rumbled to the side door of thebrick house, and mr. cobb handed rebecca out like a real lady passenger. she alighted withgreat circumspection, put the bunch of faded flowers in her aunt miranda's hand, and receivedher salute; it could hardly be called a kiss without injuring the fair name of that commodity.
"you needn't 'a' bothered to bring flowers,"remarked that gracious and tactful lady; "the garden 's always full of 'em here when itcomes time." jane then kissed rebecca, giving a somewhatbetter imitation of the real thing than her sister. "put the trunk in the entry, jeremiah,and we'll get it carried upstairs this afternoon," she said. "i'll take it up for ye now, if ye say theword, girls." "no, no; don't leave the horses; somebody'llbe comin' past, and we can call 'em in." "well, good-by, rebecca; good-day, mirandy'n' jane. you've got a lively little girl there. i guess she'll be a first-rate companykeeper."
miss sawyer shuddered openly at the adjective"lively" as applied to a child; her belief being that though children might be seen,if absolutely necessary, they certainly should never be heard if she could help it. "we'renot much used to noise, jane and me," she remarked acidly. mr. cobb saw that he had taken the wrong tack,but he was too unused to argument to explain himself readily, so he drove away, tryingto think by what safer word than "lively" he might have described his interesting littlepassenger. "i'll take you up and show you your room,rebecca," miss miranda said. "shut the mosquito nettin' door tight behind you, so 's to keepthe flies out; it ain't flytime yet, but i
want you to start right; take your passelalong with ye and then you won't have to come down for it; always make your head save yourheels. rub your feet on that braided rug; hang your hat and cape in the entry thereas you go past." "it's my best hat," said rebecca "take it upstairs then and put it in the clothes-press;but i shouldn't 'a' thought you'd 'a' worn your best hat on the stage." "it's my only hat," explained rebecca. "myevery-day hat wasn't good enough to bring. fanny's going to finish it." "lay your parasol in the entry closet."
"do you mind if i keep it in my room, please?it always seems safer." "there ain't any thieves hereabouts, and ifthere was, i guess they wouldn't make for your sunshade, but come along. remember toalways go up the back way; we don't use the front stairs on account o' the carpet; takecare o' the turn and don't ketch your foot; look to your right and go in. when you'vewashed your face and hands and brushed your hair you can come down, and by and by we'llunpack your trunk and get you settled before supper. ain't you got your dress on hind sid'foremost?" rebecca drew her chin down and looked at therow of smoked pearl buttons running up and down the middle of her flat little chest.
"hind side foremost? oh, i see! no, that'sall right. if you have seven children you can't keep buttonin' and unbuttonin' 'em allthe timeâ€”they have to do themselves. we're always buttoned up in front at our house.mira's only three, but she's buttoned up in front, too." miranda said nothing as she closed the door,but her looks were at once equivalent to and more eloquent than words. rebecca stood perfectly still in the centreof the floor and looked about her. there was a square of oilcloth in front of each articleof furniture and a drawn-in rug beside the single four poster, which was covered witha fringed white dimity counterpane.
everything was as neat as wax, but the ceilingswere much higher than rebecca was accustomed to. it was a north room, and the window, whichwas long and narrow, looked out on the back buildings and the barn. it was not the room, which was far more comfortablethan rebecca's own at the farm, nor the lack of view, nor yet the long journey, for shewas not conscious of weariness; it was not the fear of a strange place, for she lovednew places and courted new sensations; it was because of some curious blending of uncomprehendedemotions that rebecca stood her sunshade in the corner, tore off her best hat, flung iton the bureau with the porcupine quills on the under side, and stripping down the dimityspread, precipitated herself into the middle
of the bed and pulled the counterpane overher head. in a moment the door opened quietly. knockingwas a refinement quite unknown in riverboro, and if it had been heard of would never havebeen wasted on a child. miss miranda entered, and as her eye wanderedabout the vacant room, it fell upon a white and tempestuous ocean of counterpane, an oceanbreaking into strange movements of wave and crest and billow. "rebecca!" the tone in which the word was voiced gaveit all the effect of having been shouted from the housetops.
a dark ruffled head and two frightened eyesappeared above the dimity spread. "what are you layin' on your good bed in thedaytime for, messin' up the feathers, and dirtyin' the pillers with your dusty boots?" rebecca rose guiltily. there seemed no excuseto make. her offense was beyond explanation or apology. "i'm sorry, aunt mirandyâ€”something cameover me; i don't know what." "well, if it comes over you very soon againwe'll have to find out what 't is. spread your bed up smooth this minute, for 'bijahflagg 's bringin' your trunk upstairs, and i wouldn't let him see such a cluttered-uproom for anything; he'd tell it all over town."
when mr. cobb had put up his horses that nighthe carried a kitchen chair to the side of his wife, who was sitting on the back porch. "i brought a little randall girl down on thestage from maplewood to-day, mother. she's kin to the sawyer girls an' is goin' to livewith 'em," he said, as he sat down and began to whittle. "she's that aurelia's child, theone that ran away with susan randall's son just before we come here to live." "how old a child?" "'bout ten, or somewhere along there, an'small for her age; but land! she might be a hundred to hear her talk! she kep' me jumpin'tryin' to answer her! of all the queer children
i ever come across she's the queerest. sheain't no beautyâ€”her face is all eyes; but if she ever grows up to them eyes an' fillsout a little she'll make folks stare. land, mother! i wish 't you could 'a' heard hertalk." "i don't see what she had to talk about, achild like that, to a stranger," replied mrs. cobb. "stranger or no stranger, 't wouldn't makeno difference to her. she'd talk to a pump or a grind-stun; she'd talk to herself ruther'n keep still." "what did she talk about?" "blamed if i can repeat any of it. she kep'me so surprised i didn't have my wits about
me. she had a little pink sunshadeâ€”it kindo' looked like a doll's amberill, 'n' she clung to it like a burr to a woolen stockin'.i advised her to open it upâ€”the sun was so hot; but she said no, 't would fade, an'she tucked it under her dress. 'it's the dearest thing in life to me,' says she, 'but it'sa dreadful care.' them 's the very words, an' it's all the words i remember. 'it's thedearest thing in life to me, but it's an awful care!' "â€”here mr. cobb laughed aloud ashe tipped his chair back against the side of the house. "there was another thing, buti can't get it right exactly. she was talkin' 'bout the circus parade an' the snake charmerin a gold chariot, an' says she, 'she was so beautiful beyond compare, mr. cobb, thatit made you have lumps in your throat to look
at her.' she'll be comin' over to see you,mother, an' you can size her up for yourself. i don' know how she'll git on with mirandysawyerâ€”poor little soul!" this doubt was more or less openly expressedin riverboro, which, however, had two opinions on the subject; one that it was a most generousthing in the sawyer girls to take one of aurelia's children to educate, the other that the educationwould be bought at a price wholly out of proportion to its intrinsic value. rebecca's first letters to her mother wouldseem to indicate that she cordially coincided with the latter view of the situation.end of chapter iii chapter iv
rebecca's point of view dear mother,â€”i am safely here. my dresswas not much tumbled and aunt jane helped me press it out. i like mr. cobb very much.he chews but throws newspapers straight up to the doors. i rode outside a little while,but got inside before i got to aunt miranda's house. i did not want to, but thought youwould like it better. miranda is such a long word that i think i will say aunt m. and auntj. in my sunday letters. aunt j. has given me a dictionary to look up all the hard wordsin. it takes a good deal of time and i am glad people can talk without stoping to spell.it is much eesier to talk than write and much more fun. the brick house looks just the sameas you have told us. the parler is splendid
and gives you creeps and chills when you lookin the door. the furnature is ellergant too, and all the rooms but there are no good sitting-downplaces exsept in the kitchen. the same cat is here but they do not save kittens whenshe has them, and the cat is too old to play with. hannah told me once you ran away withfather and i can see it would be nice. if aunt m. would run away i think i should liketo live with aunt j. she does not hate me as bad as aunt m. does. tell mark he can havemy paint box, but i should like him to keep the red cake in case i come home again. ihope hannah and john do not get tired doing my chores. your afectionate friend
rebecca. p. s. please give the piece of poetry to johnbecause he likes my poetry even when it is not very good. this piece is not very goodbut it is true but i hope you won't mind what is in it as you ran away. this house is dark and dull and dreer no lightdoth shine from far or near its like the tomb. and those of us who live herein are most asdead as serrafim though not as good. my gardian angel is asleep at leest he dothno vigil keep ah! woe is me! then give me back my lonely farm where nonealive did wish me harm dear home of youth!
p. s. again. i made the poetry like a piecein a book but could not get it right at first. you see "tomb" and "good" do not sound welltogether but i wanted to say "tomb" dreadfully and as serrafim are always "good" i couldn'ttake that out. i have made it over now. it does not say my thoughts as well but thinkit is more right. give the best one to john as he keeps them in a box with his birds'eggs. this is the best one. sunday thoughts by rebecca rowena randall this house is dark and dull and drear no lightdoth shine from far or near nor ever could.
and those of us who live herein are most asdead as seraphim though not as good. my guardian angel is asleep at least he dothno vigil keep but far doth roam. then give me back my lonely farm where nonealive did wish me harm, dear childhood home! dear mother,â€”i am thrilling with unhappynessthis morning. i got that out of cora the doctor's wife whose husband's mother was very crossand unfealing to her like aunt m. to me. i wish hannah had come instead of me for itwas hannah that was wanted and she is better than i am and does not answer back so quick.are there any peaces of my buff calico. aunt j. wants enough to make a new waste buttonbehind so i wont look so outlandish. the stiles are quite pretty in riverboro and those atmeeting quite ellergant more so than in temperance.
this town is stilish, gay and fair, and fullof wellthy riches rare, but i would pillow on my arm the thought of my sweet brooksidefarm. school is pretty good. the teacher can answermore questions than the temperance one but not so many as i can ask. i am smarter thanall the girls but one but not so smart as two boys. emma jane can add and subtract inher head like a streek of lightning and knows the speling book right through but has nothoughts of any kind. she is in the third reader but does not like stories in books.i am in the sixth reader but just because i cannot say the seven multiplication tablemiss dearborn threttens to put me in the baby primer class with elijah and elisha simpsonlittle twins.
sore is my heart and bent my stubborn pride,with lijah and with lisha am i tied, my soul recoyles like cora doctor's wife, like heri feer i cannot bare this life. i am going to try for the speling prize butfear i cannot get it. i would not care but wrong speling looks dreadful in poetry. lastsunday when i found seraphim in the dictionary i was ashamed i had made it serrafim but seraphimis not a word you can guess at like another long one outlandish in this letter which spellsitself. miss dearborn says use the words you can spell and if you cant spell seraphim makeangel do but angels are not just the same as seraphims. seraphims are brighter whiterand have bigger wings and i think are older and longer dead than angels which are justfreshly dead and after a long time in heaven
around the great white throne grow to be seraphims. i sew on brown gingham dresses every afternoonwhen emma jane and the simpsons are playing house or running on the logs when their mothersdo not know it. their mothers are afraid they will drown and aunt m. is afraid i will wetmy clothes so will not let me either. i can play from half past four to supper and aftersupper a little bit and saturday afternoons. i am glad our cow has a calf and it is spotted.it is going to be a good year for apples and hay so you and john will be glad and we canpay a little more morgage. miss dearborn asked us what is the object of edducation and isaid the object of mine was to help pay off the morgage. she told aunt m. and i had tosew extra for punishment because she says
a morgage is disgrace like stealing or smallpoxand it will be all over town that we have one on our farm. emma jane is not morgagednor richard carter nor dr. winship but the simpsons are. rise my soul, strain every nerve, thy morgageto remove, gain thy mother's heartfelt thanks thy family's grateful love. pronounce family quick or it won't sound right your loving little friend rebecca dear john,â€”you remember when we tide thenew dog in the barn how he bit the rope and howled i am just like him only the brick houseis the barn and i can not bite aunt m. because
i must be grateful and edducation is goingto be the making of me and help you pay off the morgage when we grow up. your loving becky.end of chapter iv chapter v wisdom's ways the day of rebecca's arrival had been friday,and on the monday following she began her education at the school which was in riverborocentre, about a mile distant. miss sawyer borrowed a neighbor's horse and wagon anddrove her to the schoolhouse, interviewing the teacher, miss dearborn, arranging forbooks, and generally starting the child on
the path that was to lead to boundless knowledge.miss dearborn, it may be said in passing, had had no special preparation in the artof teaching. it came to her naturally, so her family said, and perhaps for this reasonshe, like tom tulliver's clergyman tutor, "set about it with that uniformity of methodand independence of circumstances which distinguish the actions of animals understood to be underthe immediate teaching of nature." you remember the beaver which a naturalist tells us "busiedhimself as earnestly in constructing a dam in a room up three pair of stairs in londonas if he had been laying his foundation in a lake in upper canada. it was his functionto build, the absence of water or of possible progeny was an accident for which he was notaccountable." in the same manner did miss
dearborn lay what she fondly imagined to befoundations in the infant mind. rebecca walked to school after the first morning.she loved this part of the day's programme. when the dew was not too heavy and the weatherwas fair there was a short cut through the woods. she turned off the main road, creptthrough uncle josh woodman's bars, waved away mrs. carter's cows, trod the short grass ofthe pasture, with its well-worn path running through gardens of buttercups and white-weed,and groves of ivory leaves and sweet fern. she descended a little hill, jumped from stoneto stone across a woodland brook, startling the drowsy frogs, who were always winkingand blinking in the morning sun. then came the "woodsy bit," with her feet pressing theslippery carpet of brown pine needles; the
"woodsy bit" so full of dewy morning, surprises,â€”fungousgrowths of brilliant orange and crimson springing up around the stumps of dead trees, beautifulthings born in a single night; and now and then the miracle of a little clump of waxenindian pipes, seen just quickly enough to be saved from her careless tread. then sheclimbed a stile, went through a grassy meadow, slid under another pair of bars, and cameout into the road again having gained nearly half a mile. how delicious it all was! rebecca claspedher quackenbos's grammar and greenleaf's arithmetic with a joyful sense of knowing her lessons.her dinner pail swung from her right hand, and she had a blissful consciousness of thetwo soda biscuits spread with butter and syrup,
the baked cup-custard, the doughnut, and thesquare of hard gingerbread. sometimes she said whatever "piece" she was going to speakon the next friday afternoon. "a soldier of the legion lay dying in algiers,there was lack of woman's nursing, there was dearth of woman's tears." how she loved the swing and the sentimentof it! how her young voice quivered whenever she came to the refrain:â€” "but we'll meet no more at bingen, dear bingenon the rhine." it always sounded beautiful in her ears, asshe sent her tearful little treble into the clear morning air. another early favorite(for we must remember that rebecca's only
knowledge of the great world of poetry consistedof the selections in vogue in school readers) was:â€” "woodman, spare that tree! touch not a singlebough! in youth it sheltered me, and i'll protect it now." when emma jane perkins walked through the"short cut" with her, the two children used to render this with appropriate dramatic action.emma jane always chose to be the woodman because she had nothing to do but raise on high animaginary axe. on the one occasion when she essayed the part of the tree's romantic protector,she represented herself as feeling "so awful foolish" that she refused to undertake itagain, much to the secret delight of rebecca,
who found the woodman's role much too tamefor her vaulting ambition. she reveled in the impassioned appeal of the poet, and imploredthe ruthless woodman to be as brutal as possible with the axe, so that she might properly putgreater spirit into her lines. one morning, feeling more frisky than usual, she fell uponher knees and wept in the woodman's petticoat. curiously enough, her sense of proportionrejected this as soon as it was done. "that wasn't right, it was silly, emma jane;but i'll tell you where it might come inâ€”in give me three grains of corn. you be the mother,and i'll be the famishing irish child. for pity's sake put the axe down; you are notthe woodman any longer!" "what'll i do with my hands, then?" askedemma jane.
"whatever you like," rebecca answered wearily;"you're just a motherâ€”that's all. what does your mother do with her hands? now here goes! "'give me three grains of corn, mother, onlythree grains of corn, 't will keep the little life i have till the coming of the morn.'" this sort of thing made emma jane nervousand fidgety, but she was rebecca's slave and hugged her chains, no matter how uncomfortablethey made her. at the last pair of bars the two girls weresometimes met by a detachment of the simpson children, who lived in a black house witha red door and a red barn behind, on the blueberry plains road. rebecca felt an interest in thesimpsons from the first, because there were
so many of them and they were so patched anddarned, just like her own brood at the home farm. the little schoolhouse with its flagpole ontop and its two doors in front, one for boys and the other for girls, stood on the crestof a hill, with rolling fields and meadows on one side, a stretch of pine woods on theother, and the river glinting and sparkling in the distance. it boasted no attractionswithin. all was as bare and ugly and uncomfortable as it well could be, for the villages alongthe river expended so much money in repairing and rebuilding bridges that they were obligedto be very economical in school privileges. the teacher's desk and chair stood on a platformin one corner; there was an uncouth stove,
never blackened oftener than once a year,a map of the united states, two black-boards, a ten-quart tin pail of water and long-handleddipper on a corner shelf, and wooden desks and benches for the scholars, who only numberedtwenty in rebecca's time. the seats were higher in the back of the room, and the more advancedand longer-legged pupils sat there, the position being greatly to be envied, as they were atonce nearer to the windows and farther from the teacher. there were classes of a sort, although nobody,broadly speaking, studied the same book with anybody else, or had arrived at the same degreeof proficiency in any one branch of learning. rebecca in particular was so difficult toclassify that miss dearborn at the end of
a fortnight gave up the attempt altogether.she read with dick carter and living perkins, who were fitting for the academy; recitedarithmetic with lisping little thuthan thimpthon; geography with emma jane perkins, and grammarafter school hours to miss dearborn alone. full to the brim as she was of clever thoughtsand quaint fancies, she made at first but a poor hand at composition. the labor of writingand spelling, with the added difficulties of punctuation and capitals, interfered sadlywith the free expression of ideas. she took history with alice robinson's class, whichwas attacking the subject of the revolution, while rebecca was bidden to begin with thediscovery of america. in a week she had mastered the course of events up to the revolution,and in ten days had arrived at yorktown, where
the class had apparently established summerquarters. then finding that extra effort would only result in her reciting with the oldestsimpson boy, she deliberately held herself back, for wisdom's ways were not those ofpleasantness nor her paths those of peace if one were compelled to tread them in thecompany of seesaw simpson. samuel simpson was generally called seesaw, because of hisdifficulty in making up his mind. whether it were a question of fact, of spelling, orof date, of going swimming or fishing, of choosing a book in the sunday-school libraryor a stick of candy at the village store, he had no sooner determined on one plan ofaction than his wish fondly reverted to the opposite one. seesaw was pale, flaxen haired,blue eyed, round shouldered, and given to
stammering when nervous. perhaps because ofhis very weakness rebecca's decision of character had a fascination for him, and although shesnubbed him to the verge of madness, he could never keep his eyes away from her. the forcewith which she tied her shoe when the lacing came undone, the flirt over shoulder she gaveher black braid when she was excited or warm, her manner of studying,â€”book on desk, armsfolded, eyes fixed on the opposite wall,â€”all had an abiding charm for seesaw simpson. when,having obtained permission, she walked to the water pail in the corner and drank fromthe dipper, unseen forces dragged seesaw from his seat to go and drink after her. it wasnot only that there was something akin to association and intimacy in drinking next,but there was the fearful joy of meeting her
in transit and receiving a cold and disdainfullook from her wonderful eyes. on a certain warm day in summer rebecca'sthirst exceeded the bounds of propriety. when she asked a third time for permission to quenchit at the common fountain miss dearborn nodded "yes," but lifted her eyebrows unpleasantlyas rebecca neared the desk. as she replaced the dipper seesaw promptly raised his hand,and miss dearborn indicated a weary affirmative. "what is the matter with you, rebecca?" sheasked. "i had salt mackerel for breakfast," answeredrebecca. there seemed nothing humorous about this reply,which was merely the statement of a fact, but an irrepressible titter ran through theschool. miss dearborn did not enjoy jokes
neither made nor understood by herself, andher face flushed. "i think you had better stand by the pailfor five minutes, rebecca; it may help you to control your thirst." rebecca's heart fluttered. she to stand inthe corner by the water pail and be stared at by all the scholars! she unconsciouslymade a gesture of angry dissent and moved a step nearer her seat, but was arrested bymiss dearborn's command in a still firmer voice. "stand by the pail, rebecca! samuel, how manytimes have you asked for water to-day?" "this is the f-f-fourth."
"don't touch the dipper, please. the schoolhas done nothing but drink this afternoon; it has had no time whatever to study. i supposeyou had something salt for breakfast, samuel?" queried miss dearborn with sarcasm. "i had m-m-mackerel, j-just like reb-b-becca."(irrepressible giggles by the school.) "i judged so. stand by the other side of thepail, samuel." rebecca's head was bowed with shame and wrath.life looked too black a thing to be endured. the punishment was bad enough, but to be coupledin correction with seesaw simpson was beyond human endurance. singing was the last exercise in the afternoon,and minnie smellie chose shall we gather at
the river? it was a baleful choice and seemedto hold some secret and subtle association with the situation and general progress ofevents; or at any rate there was apparently some obscure reason for the energy and vimwith which the scholars shouted the choral invitation again and again:â€” "shall we gather at the river, the beautiful,the beautiful river?" miss dearborn stole a look at rebecca's benthead and was frightened. the child's face was pale save for two red spots glowing onher cheeks. tears hung on her lashes; her breath came and went quickly, and the handthat held her pocket handkerchief trembled like a leaf.
"you may go to your seat, rebecca," said missdearborn at the end of the first song. "samuel, stay where you are till the close of school.and let me tell you, scholars, that i asked rebecca to stand by the pail only to breakup this habit of incessant drinking, which is nothing but empty-mindedness and desireto walk to and fro over the floor. every time rebecca has asked for a drink to-day the wholeschool has gone to the pail one after another. she is really thirsty, and i dare say i oughtto have punished you for following her example, not her for setting it. what shall we singnow, alice?" "the old oaken bucket, please." "think of something dry, alice, and changethe subject. yes, the star spangled banner
if you like, or anything else." rebecca sank into her seat and pulled thesinging book from her desk. miss dearborn's public explanation had shifted some of theweight from her heart, and she felt a trifle raised in her self-esteem. under cover of the general relaxation of singing,votive offerings of respectful sympathy began to make their appearance at her shrine. livingperkins, who could not sing, dropped a piece of maple sugar in her lap as he passed heron his way to the blackboard to draw the map of maine. alice robinson rolled a perfectlynew slate pencil over the floor with her foot until it reached rebecca's place, while herseat-mate, emma jane, had made up a little
mound of paper balls and labeled them "bulletsfor you know who." altogether existence grew brighter, and whenshe was left alone with the teacher for her grammar lesson she had nearly recovered herequanimity, which was more than miss dearborn had. the last clattering foot had echoed throughthe hall, seesaw's backward glance of penitence had been met and answered defiantly by oneof cold disdain. "rebecca, i am afraid i punished you morethan i meant," said miss dearborn, who was only eighteen herself, and in her year ofteaching country schools had never encountered a child like rebecca. "i hadn't missed a question this whole day,nor whispered either," quavered the culprit;
"and i don't think i ought to be shamed justfor drinking." "you started all the others, or it seemedas if you did. whatever you do they all do, whether you laugh, or miss, or write notes,or ask to leave the room, or drink; and it must be stopped." "sam simpson is a copycoat!" stormed rebecca"i wouldn't have minded standing in the corner aloneâ€”that is, not so very much; but i couldn'tbear standing with him." "i saw that you couldn't, and that's the reasoni told you to take your seat, and left him in the corner. remember that you are a strangerin the place, and they take more notice of what you do, so you must be careful. now let'shave our conjugations. give me the verb 'to
be,' potential mood, past perfect tense." "i might have been "we might have been thou mightst have been you might have been he might have been they might have been." "give me an example, please." "i might have been glad thou mightst havebeen glad he, she, or it might have been glad." "'he' or 'she' might have been glad becausethey are masculine and feminine, but could 'it' have been glad?" asked miss dearborn,who was very fond of splitting hairs.
"why not?" asked rebecca "because 'it' is neuter gender." "couldn't we say, 'the kitten might have beenglad if it had known it was not going to be drowned'?" "yeâ€”es," miss dearborn answered hesitatingly,never very sure of herself under rebecca's fire; "but though we often speak of a baby,a chicken, or a kitten as 'it,' they are really masculine or feminine gender, not neuter." rebecca reflected a long moment and then asked,"is a hollyhock neuter?" "oh yes, of course it is, rebecca"
"well, couldn't we say, 'the hollyhock mighthave been glad to see the rain, but there was a weak little hollyhock bud growing outof its stalk and it was afraid that that might be hurt by the storm; so the big hollyhockwas kind of afraid, instead of being real glad'?" miss dearborn looked puzzled as she answered,"of course, rebecca, hollyhocks could not be sorry, or glad, or afraid, really." "we can't tell, i s'pose," replied the child;"but i think they are, anyway. now what shall i say?" "the subjunctive mood, past perfect tenseof the verb 'to know.'"
"if i had known "if we had known if thou hadst known if you had known if he had known if they had known. "oh, it is the saddest tense," sighed rebeccawith a little break in her voice; "nothing but ifs, ifs, ifs! and it makes you feel thatif they only had known, things might have been better!" miss dearborn had not thought of it before,but on reflection she believed the subjunctive mood was a "sad" one and "if" rather a sorry"part of speech."
"give me some more examples of the subjunctive,rebecca, and that will do for this afternoon," "if i had not loved mackerel i should nothave been thirsty;" said rebecca with an april smile, as she closed her grammar. "if thouhadst loved me truly thou wouldst not have stood me up in the corner. if samuel had notloved wickedness he would not have followed me to the water pail." "and if rebecca had loved the rules of theschool she would have controlled her thirst," finished miss dearborn with a kiss, and thetwo parted friends. end of chapter v chapter vi
sunshine in a shady place the little schoolhouse on the hill had itsmoments of triumph as well as its scenes of tribulation, but it was fortunate that rebeccahad her books and her new acquaintances to keep her interested and occupied, or lifewould have gone heavily with her that first summer in riverboro. she tried to like heraunt miranda (the idea of loving her had been given up at the moment of meeting), but failedignominiously in the attempt. she was a very faulty and passionately human child, withno aspirations towards being an angel of the house, but she had a sense of duty and a desireto be good,â€”respectably, decently good. whenever she fell below this self-imposedstandard she was miserable. she did not like
to be under her aunt's roof, eating bread,wearing clothes, and studying books provided by her, and dislike her so heartily all thetime. she felt instinctively that this was wrong and mean, and whenever the feeling ofremorse was strong within her she made a desperate effort to please her grim and difficult relative.but how could she succeed when she was never herself in her aunt miranda's presence? thesearching look of the eyes, the sharp voice, the hard knotty fingers, the thin straightlips, the long silences, the "front-piece" that didn't match her hair, the very obvious"parting" that seemed sewed in with linen thread on black net,â€”there was not a singleitem that appealed to rebecca. there are certain narrow, unimaginative, and autocratic oldpeople who seem to call out the most mischievous,
and sometimes the worst traits in children.miss miranda, had she lived in a populous neighborhood, would have had her doorbellpulled, her gate tied up, or "dirt traps" set in her garden paths. the simpson twinsstood in such awe of her that they could not be persuaded to come to the side door evenwhen miss jane held gingerbread cookies in her outstretched hands. it is needless to say that rebecca irritatedher aunt with every breath she drew. she continually forgot and started up the front stairs becauseit was the shortest route to her bedroom; she left the dipper on the kitchen shelf insteadof hanging it up over the pail; she sat in the chair the cat liked best; she was willingto go on errands, but often forgot what she
was sent for; she left the screen doors ajar,so that flies came in; her tongue was ever in motion; she sang or whistled when she waspicking up chips; she was always messing with flowers, putting them in vases, pinning themon her dress, and sticking them in her hat; finally she was an everlasting reminder ofher foolish, worthless father, whose handsome face and engaging manner had so deceived aurelia,and perhaps, if the facts were known, others besides aurelia. the randalls were aliens.they had not been born in riverboro nor even in york county. miranda would have allowed,on compulsion, that in the nature of things a large number of persons must necessarilybe born outside this sacred precinct; but she had her opinion of them, and it was nota flattering one. now if hannah had comeâ€”hannah
took after the other side of the house; shewas "all sawyer." (poor hannah! that was true!) hannah spoke only when spoken to, insteadof first, last, and all the time; hannah at fourteen was a member of the church; hannahliked to knit; hannah was, probably, or would have been, a pattern of all the smaller virtues;instead of which here was this black-haired gypsy, with eyes as big as cartwheels, installedas a member of the household. what sunshine in a shady place was aunt janeto rebecca! aunt jane with her quiet voice, her understanding eyes, her ready excuses,in these first difficult weeks, when the impulsive little stranger was trying to settle downinto the "brick house ways." she did learn them, in part, and by degrees, and the constantfitting of herself to these new and difficult
standards of conduct seemed to make her olderthan ever for her years. the child took her sewing and sat beside auntjane in the kitchen while aunt miranda had the post of observation at the sitting-roomwindow. sometimes they would work on the side porch where the clematis and woodbine shadedthem from the hot sun. to rebecca the lengths of brown gingham were interminable. she madehard work of sewing, broke the thread, dropped her thimble into the syringa bushes, prickedher finger, wiped the perspiration from her forehead, could not match the checks, puckeredthe seams. she polished her needles to nothing, pushing them in and out of the emery strawberry,but they always squeaked. still aunt jane's patience held good, and some small measureof skill was creeping into rebecca's fingers,
fingers that held pencil, paint brush, andpen so cleverly and were so clumsy with the dainty little needle. when the first brown gingham frock was completed,the child seized what she thought an opportune moment and asked her aunt miranda if she mighthave another color for the next one. "i bought a whole piece of the brown," saidmiranda laconically. "that'll give you two more dresses, with plenty for new sleeves,and to patch and let down with, an' be more economical." "i know. but mr. watson says he'll take backpart of it, and let us have pink and blue for the same price."
"did you ask him?" "yes'm." "it was none o' your business." "i was helping emma jane choose aprons, anddidn't think you'd mind which color i had. pink keeps clean just as nice as brown, andmr. watson says it'll boil without fading." "mr. watson 's a splendid judge of washing,i guess. i don't approve of children being rigged out in fancy colors, but i'll see whatyour aunt jane thinks." "i think it would be all right to let rebeccahave one pink and one blue gingham," said jane. "a child gets tired of sewing on onecolor. it's only natural she should long for
a change; besides she'd look like a charitychild always wearing the same brown with a white apron. and it's dreadful unbecomingto her!" "'handsome is as handsome does,' say i. rebeccanever'll come to grief along of her beauty, that's certain, and there's no use in humoringher to think about her looks. i believe she's vain as a peacock now, without anything tobe vain of." "she's young and attracted to bright thingsâ€”that'sall. i remember well enough how i felt at her age." "you was considerable of a fool at her age,jane." "yes, i was, thank the lord! i only wish i'dknown how to take a little of my foolishness
along with me, as some folks do, to brightenmy declining years." there finally was a pink gingham, and whenit was nicely finished, aunt jane gave rebecca a delightful surprise. she showed her howto make a pretty trimming of narrow white linen tape, by folding it in pointed shapesand sewing it down very flat with neat little stitches. "it'll be good fancy work for you, rebecca;for your aunt miranda won't like to see you always reading in the long winter evenings.now if you think you can baste two rows of white tape round the bottom of your pink skirtand keep it straight by the checks, i'll stitch them on for you and trim the waist and sleeveswith pointed tape-trimming, so the dress'll
be real pretty for second best." rebecca's joy knew no bounds. "i'll bastelike a house afire!" she exclaimed. "it's a thousand yards round that skirt, as welli know, having hemmed it; but i could sew pretty trimming on if it was from here tomilltown. oh! do you think aunt mirandy'll ever let me go to milltown with mr. cobb?he's asked me again, you know; but one saturday i had to pick strawberries, and another itrained, and i don't think she really approves of my going. it's twenty-nine minutes pastfour, aunt jane, and alice robinson has been sitting under the currant bushes for a longtime waiting for me. can i go and play?" "yes, you may go, and you'd better run asfar as you can out behind the barn, so 't
your noise won't distract your aunt mirandy.i see susan simpson and the twins and emma jane perkins hiding behind the fence." rebecca leaped off the porch, snatched alicerobinson from under the currant bushes, and, what was much more difficult, succeeded, bymeans of a complicated system of signals, in getting emma jane away from the simpsonparty and giving them the slip altogether. they were much too small for certain pleasurableactivities planned for that afternoon; but they were not to be despised, for they hadthe most fascinating dooryard in the village. in it, in bewildering confusion, were oldsleighs, pungs, horse rakes, hogsheads, settees without backs, bed-steads without heads, inall stages of disability, and never the same
on two consecutive days. mrs. simpson wasseldom at home, and even when she was, had little concern as to what happened on thepremises. a favorite diversion was to make the house into a fort, gallantly held by ahandful of american soldiers against a besieging force of the british army. great care wasused in apportioning the parts, for there was no disposition to let anybody win butthe americans. seesaw simpson was usually made commander-in-chief of the british army,and a limp and uncertain one he was, capable, with his contradictory orders and his fondnessfor the extreme rear, of leading any regiment to an inglorious death. sometimes the long-sufferinghouse was a log hut, and the brave settlers defeated a band of hostile indians, or occasionallywere massacred by them; but in either case
the simpson house looked, to quote a riverboroexpression, "as if the devil had been having an auction in it." next to this uncommonly interesting playground,as a field of action, came, in the children's opinion, the "secret spot." there was a velvetystretch of ground in the sawyer pasture which was full of fascinating hollows and hillocks,as well as verdant levels, on which to build houses. a group of trees concealed it somewhatfrom view and flung a grateful shade over the dwellings erected there. it had been hardthough sweet labor to take armfuls of "stickins" and "cutrounds" from the mill to this secludedspot, and that it had been done mostly after supper in the dusk of the evenings gave ita still greater flavor. here in soap boxes
hidden among the trees were stored all theirtreasures: wee baskets and plates and cups made of burdock balls, bits of broken chinafor parties, dolls, soon to be outgrown, but serving well as characters in all sorts ofromances enacted there,â€”deaths, funerals, weddings, christenings. a tall, square houseof stickins was to be built round rebecca this afternoon, and she was to be charlottecorday leaning against the bars of her prison. it was a wonderful experience standing insidethe building with emma jane's apron wound about her hair; wonderful to feel that whenshe leaned her head against the bars they seemed to turn to cold iron; that her eyeswere no longer rebecca randall's but mirrored something of charlotte corday's hapless woe.
"ain't it lovely?" sighed the humble twain,who had done most of the labor, but who generously admired the result. "i hate to have to take it down," said alice,"it's been such a sight of work." "if you think you could move up some stonesand just take off the top rows, i could step out over," suggested charlotte corday. "thenleave the stones, and you two can step down into the prison to-morrow and be the two littleprinces in the tower, and i can murder you." "what princes? what tower?" asked alice andemma jane in one breath. "tell us about them." "not now, it's my supper time." (rebecca wasa somewhat firm disciplinarian.) "it would be elergant being murdered by you,"said emma jane loyally, "though you are awful
real when you murder; or we could have elijahand elisha for the princes." "they'd yell when they was murdered," objectedalice; "you know how silly they are at plays, all except clara belle. besides if we onceshow them this secret place, they'll play in it all the time, and perhaps they'd stealthings, like their father." "they needn't steal just because their fatherdoes," argued rebecca; "and don't you ever talk about it before them if you want to bemy secret, partic'lar friends. my mother tells me never to say hard things about people'sown folks to their face. she says nobody can bear it, and it's wicked to shame them forwhat isn't their fault. remember minnie smellie!" well, they had no difficulty in recallingthat dramatic episode, for it had occurred
only a few days before; and a version of itthat would have melted the stoniest heart had been presented to every girl in the villageby minnie smellie herself, who, though it was rebecca and not she who came off victoriousin the bloody battle of words, nursed her resentment and intended to have revenge.end of chapter vi chapter vii riverboro secrets mr. simpson spent little time with his family,owing to certain awkward methods of horse-trading, or the "swapping" of farm implements and vehiclesof various kinds,â€”operations in which his customers were never long suited. after everysuccessful trade he generally passed a longer
or shorter term in jail; for when a poor manwithout goods or chattels has the inveterate habit of swapping, it follows naturally thathe must have something to swap; and having nothing of his own, it follows still morenaturally that he must swap something belonging to his neighbors. mr. simpson was absent from the home circlefor the moment because he had exchanged the widow rideout's sleigh for joseph goodwin'splough. goodwin had lately moved to north edgewood and had never before met the urbaneand persuasive mr. simpson. the goodwin plough mr. simpson speedily bartered with a man "overwareham way," and got in exchange for it an old horse which his owner did not need, ashe was leaving town to visit his daughter
for a year, simpson fattened the aged animal,keeping him for several weeks (at early morning or after nightfall) in one neighbor's pastureafter another, and then exchanged him with a milltown man for a top buggy. it was atthis juncture that the widow rideout missed her sleigh from the old carriage house. shehad not used it for fifteen years and might not sit in it for another fifteen, but itwas property, and she did not intend to part with it without a struggle. such is the suspiciousnature of the village mind that the moment she discovered her loss her thought at oncereverted to abner simpson. so complicated, however, was the nature of this particularbusiness transaction, and so tortuous the paths of its progress (partly owing to thecomplete disappearance of the owner of the
horse, who had gone to the west and left noaddress), that it took the sheriff many weeks to prove mr. simpson's guilt to the town'sand to the widow rideout's satisfaction. abner himself avowed his complete innocence, andtold the neighbors how a red-haired man with a hare lip and a pepper-and-salt suit of clotheshad called him up one morning about daylight and offered to swap him a good sleigh foran old cider press he had layin' out in the dooryard. the bargain was struck, and he,abner, had paid the hare-lipped stranger four dollars and seventy-five cents to boot; whereuponthe mysterious one set down the sleigh, took the press on his cart, and vanished up theroad, never to be seen or heard from afterwards. "if i could once ketch that consarned oldthief," exclaimed abner righteously, "i'd
make him dance,â€”workin' off a stolen sleighon me an' takin' away my good money an' cider press, to say nothin' o' my character!" "you'll never ketch him, ab," responded thesheriff. "he's cut off the same piece o' goods as that there cider press and that there characterand that there four-seventy-five o' yourn; nobody ever see any of 'em but you, and you'llnever see 'em again!" mrs. simpson, who was decidedly abner's betterhalf, took in washing and went out to do days' cleaning, and the town helped in the feedingand clothing of the children. george, a lanky boy of fourteen, did chores on neighboringfarms, and the others, samuel, clara belle, susan, elijah, and elisha, went to school,when sufficiently clothed and not otherwise
more pleasantly engaged. there were no secrets in the villages thatlay along the banks of pleasant river. there were many hard-working people among the inhabitants,but life wore away so quietly and slowly that there was a good deal of spare time for conversation,â€”underthe trees at noon in the hayfield; hanging over the bridge at nightfall; seated aboutthe stove in the village store of an evening. these meeting-places furnished ample groundfor the discussion of current events as viewed by the masculine eye, while choir rehearsals,sewing societies, reading circles, church picnics, and the like, gave opportunity forthe expression of feminine opinion. all this was taken very much for granted, as a rule,but now and then some supersensitive person
made violent objections to it, as a theoryof life. delia weeks, for example, was a maiden ladywho did dressmaking in a small way; she fell ill, and although attended by all the physiciansin the neighborhood, was sinking slowly into a decline when her cousin cyrus asked herto come and keep house for him in lewiston. she went, and in a year grew into a robust,hearty, cheerful woman. returning to riverboro on a brief visit, she was asked if she meantto end her days away from home. "i do most certainly, if i can get any otherplace to stay," she responded candidly. "i was bein' worn to a shadder here, tryin' tokeep my little secrets to myself, an' never succeedin'. first they had it i wanted tomarry the minister, and when he took a wife
in standish i was known to be disappointed.then for five or six years they suspicioned i was tryin' for a place to teach school,and when i gave up hope, an' took to dressmakin', they pitied me and sympathized with me forthat. when father died i was bound i'd never let anybody know how i was left, for thatspites 'em worse than anything else; but there's ways o' findin' out, an' they found out, hardas i fought 'em! then there was my brother james that went to arizona when he was sixteen.i gave good news of him for thirty years runnin', but aunt achsy tarbox had a ferretin' cousinthat went out to tombstone for her health, and she wrote to a postmaster, or to somekind of a town authority, and found jim and wrote back aunt achsy all about him and justhow unfortunate he'd been. they knew when
i had my teeth out and a new set made; theyknew when i put on a false front-piece; they knew when the fruit peddler asked me to behis third wifeâ€”i never told 'em, an' you can be sure he never did, but they don't needto be told in this village; they have nothin' to do but guess, an' they'll guess right everytime. i was all tuckered out tryin' to mislead 'em and deceive 'em and sidetrack 'em; butthe minute i got where i wa'n't put under a microscope by day an' a telescope by nightand had myself to myself without sayin' 'by your leave,' i begun to pick up. cousin cyrusis an old man an' consid'able trouble, but he thinks my teeth are handsome an' says i'vegot a splendid suit of hair. there ain't a person in lewiston that knows about the minister,or father's will, or jim's doin's, or the
fruit peddler; an' if they should find out,they wouldn't care, an' they couldn't remember; for lewiston 's a busy place, thanks be!" miss delia weeks may have exaggerated matterssomewhat, but it is easy to imagine that rebecca as well as all the other riverboro childrenhad heard the particulars of the widow rideout's missing sleigh and abner simpson's supposedconnection with it. there is not an excess of delicacy or chivalryin the ordinary country school, and several choice conundrums and bits of verse dealingwith the simpson affair were bandied about among the scholars, uttered always, be itsaid to their credit, in undertones, and when the simpson children were not in the group.
rebecca randall was of precisely the samestock, and had had much the same associations as her schoolmates, so one can hardly saywhy she so hated mean gossip and so instinctively held herself aloof from it. among the riverboro girls of her own age wasa certain excellently named minnie smellie, who was anything but a general favorite. shewas a ferret-eyed, blond-haired, spindle-legged little creature whose mind was a cross betweenthat of a parrot and a sheep. she was suspected of copying answers from other girls' slates,although she had never been caught in the act. rebecca and emma jane always knew whenshe had brought a tart or a triangle of layer cake with her school luncheon, because onthose days she forsook the cheerful society
of her mates and sought a safe solitude inthe woods, returning after a time with a jocund smile on her smug face. after one of these private luncheons rebeccahad been tempted beyond her strength, and when minnie took her seat among them asked,"is your headache better, minnie? let me wipe off that strawberry jam over your mouth." there was no jam there as a matter of fact,but the guilty minnie's handkerchief went to her crimson face in a flash. rebecca confessed to emma jane that same afternoonthat she felt ashamed of her prank. "i do hate her ways," she exclaimed, "but i'm sorryi let her know we 'spected her; and so to
make up, i gave her that little piece of brokencoral i keep in my bead purse; you know the one?" "it don't hardly seem as if she deserved that,and her so greedy," remarked emma jane. "i know it, but it makes me feel better,"said rebecca largely; "and then i've had it two years, and it's broken so it wouldn'tever be any real good, beautiful as it is to look at." the coral had partly served its purpose asa reconciling bond, when one afternoon rebecca, who had stayed after school for her grammarlesson as usual, was returning home by way of the short cut. far ahead, beyond the bars,she espied the simpson children just entering
the woodsy bit. seesaw was not with them,so she hastened her steps in order to secure company on her homeward walk. they were speedilylost to view, but when she had almost overtaken them she heard, in the trees beyond, minniesmellie's voice lifted high in song, and the sound of a child's sobbing. clara belle, susan,and the twins were running along the path, and minnie was dancing up and down, shrieking:â€” "'what made the sleigh love simpson so?' theeager children cried; 'why simpson loved the sleigh, you know,' the teacher quick replied." the last glimpse of the routed simpson tribe,and the last rutter of their tattered garments, disappeared in the dim distance. the fallof one small stone cast by the valiant elijah,
known as "the fighting twin," did break thestillness of the woods for a moment, but it did not come within a hundred yards of minnie,who shouted "jail birds" at the top of her lungs and then turned, with an agreeable feelingof excitement, to meet rebecca, standing perfectly still in the path, with a day of reckoningplainly set forth in her blazing eyes. minnie's face was not pleasant to see, fora coward detected at the moment of wrongdoing is not an object of delight. "minnie smellie, if everâ€”iâ€”catchâ€”youâ€”singingâ€”thatâ€”tothe simpsons againâ€”do you know what i'll do?" asked rebecca in a tone of concentratedrage. "i don't know and i don't care," said minniejauntily, though her looks belied her.
"i'll take that piece of coral away from you,and i think i shall slap you besides!" "you wouldn't darst," retorted minnie. "ifyou do, i'll tell my mother and the teacher, so there!" "i don't care if you tell your mother, mymother, and all your relations, and the president," said rebecca, gaining courage as the noblewords fell from her lips. "i don't care if you tell the town, the whole of york county,the state of maine andâ€”and the nation!" she finished grandiloquently. "now you runhome and remember what i say. if you do it again, and especially if you say 'jail birds,'if i think it's right and my duty, i shall punish you somehow."
the next morning at recess rebecca observedminnie telling the tale with variations to huldah meserve. "she threatened me," whisperedminnie, "but i never believe a word she says." the latter remark was spoken with the directintention of being overheard, for minnie had spasms of bravery, when well surrounded bythe machinery of law and order. as rebecca went back to her seat she askedmiss dearborn if she might pass a note to minnie smellie and received permission. thiswas the note:â€” of all the girls that are so mean there'snone like minnie smellie. i'll take away the gift i gave and pound her into jelly. p. s. now do you believe me?
r. randall. the effect of this piece of doggerel was entirelyconvincing, and for days afterwards whenever minnie met the simpsons even a mile from thebrick house she shuddered and held her peace. end of chapter vii chapter viii color of rose on the very next friday after this "dreadfullestfight that ever was seen," as bunyan says in pilgrim's progress, there were great doingsin the little schoolhouse on the hill. friday afternoon was always the time chosen for dialogues,songs, and recitations, but it cannot be stated
that it was a gala day in any true sense ofthe word. most of the children hated "speaking pieces;" hated the burden of learning them,dreaded the danger of breaking down in them. miss dearborn commonly went home with a headache,and never left her bed during the rest of the afternoon or evening; and the casual femaleparent who attended the exercises sat on a front bench with beads of cold sweat on herforehead, listening to the all-too-familiar halts and stammers. sometimes a bellowinginfant who had clean forgotten his verse would cast himself bodily on the maternal bosomand be borne out into the open air, where he was sometimes kissed and occasionally spanked;but in any case the failure added an extra dash of gloom and dread to the occasion. theadvent of rebecca had somehow infused a new
spirit into these hitherto terrible afternoons.she had taught elijah and elisha simpson so that they recited three verses of somethingwith such comical effect that they delighted themselves, the teacher, and the school; whilesusan, who lisped, had been provided with a humorous poem in which she impersonateda lisping child. emma jane and rebecca had a dialogue, and the sense of companionshipbuoyed up emma jane and gave her self-reliance. in fact, miss dearborn announced on this particularfriday morning that the exercises promised to be so interesting that she had invitedthe doctor's wife, the minister's wife, two members of the school committee, and a fewmothers. living perkins was asked to decorate one of the black-boards and rebecca the other.living, who was the star artist of the school,
chose the map of north america. rebecca likedbetter to draw things less realistic, and speedily, before the eyes of the enchantedmultitude, there grew under her skillful fingers an american flag done in red, white, and bluechalk, every star in its right place, every stripe fluttering in the breeze. beside thisappeared a figure of columbia, copied from the top of the cigar box that held the crayons. miss dearborn was delighted. "i propose wegive rebecca a good hand-clapping for such a beautiful pictureâ€”one that the whole schoolmay well be proud of!" the scholars clapped heartily, and dick carter,waving his hand, gave a rousing cheer. rebecca's heart leaped for joy, and to herconfusion she felt the tears rising in her
eyes. she could hardly see the way back toher seat, for in her ignorant lonely little life she had never been singled out for applause,never lauded, nor crowned, as in this wonderful, dazzling moment. if "nobleness enkindlethnobleness," so does enthusiasm beget enthusiasm, and so do wit and talent enkindle wit andtalent. alice robinson proposed that the school should sing three cheers for the red, white,and blue! and when they came to the chorus, all point to rebecca's flag. dick carter suggestedthat living perkins and rebecca randall should sign their names to their pictures, so thatthe visitors would know who drew them. huldah meserve asked permission to cover the largestholes in the plastered walls with boughs and fill the water pail with wild flowers. rebecca'smood was above and beyond all practical details.
she sat silent, her heart so full of gratefuljoy that she could hardly remember the words of her dialogue. at recess she bore herselfmodestly, notwithstanding her great triumph, while in the general atmosphere of good willthe smellie-randall hatchet was buried and minnie gathered maple boughs and covered theugly stove with them, under rebecca's direction. miss dearborn dismissed the morning sessionat quarter to twelve, so that those who lived near enough could go home for a change ofdress. emma jane and rebecca ran nearly every step of the way, from sheer excitement, onlystopping to breathe at the stiles. "will your aunt mirandy let you wear yourbest, or only your buff calico?" asked emma jane.
"i think i'll ask aunt jane," rebecca replied."oh! if my pink was only finished! i left aunt jane making the buttonholes!" "i'm going to ask my mother to let me wearher garnet ring," said emma jane. "it would look perfectly elergant flashing in the sunwhen i point to the flag. good-by; don't wait for me going back; i may get a ride." rebecca found the side door locked, but sheknew that the key was under the step, and so of course did everybody else in riverboro,for they all did about the same thing with it. she unlocked the door and went into thedining-room to find her lunch laid on the table and a note from aunt jane saying thatthey had gone to moderation with mrs. robinson
in her carryall. rebecca swallowed a pieceof bread and butter, and flew up the front stairs to her bedroom. on the bed lay thepink gingham dress finished by aunt jane's kind hands. could she, dare she, wear it withoutasking? did the occasion justify a new costume, or would her aunts think she ought to keepit for the concert? "i'll wear it," thought rebecca. "they'renot here to ask, and maybe they wouldn't mind a bit; it's only gingham after all, and wouldn'tbe so grand if it wasn't new, and hadn't tape trimming on it, and wasn't pink." she unbraided her two pig-tails, combed outthe waves of her hair and tied them back with a ribbon, changed her shoes, and then slippedon the pretty frock, managing to fasten all
but the three middle buttons, which she reservedfor emma jane. then her eye fell on her cherished pink sunshade,the exact match, and the girls had never seen it. it wasn't quite appropriate for school,but she needn't take it into the room; she would wrap it in a piece of paper, just showit, and carry it coming home. she glanced in the parlor looking-glass downstairs andwas electrified at the vision. it seemed almost as if beauty of apparel could go no furtherthan that heavenly pink gingham dress! the sparkle of her eyes, glow of her cheeks, sheenof her falling hair, passed unnoticed in the all-conquering charm of the rose-colored garment.goodness! it was twenty minutes to one and she would be late. she danced out the sidedoor, pulled a pink rose from a bush at the
gate, and covered the mile between the brickhouse and the seat of learning in an incredibly short time, meeting emma jane, also breathlessand resplendent, at the entrance. "rebecca randall!" exclaimed emma jane, "you'rehandsome as a picture!" "i?" laughed rebecca "nonsense! it's onlythe pink gingham." "you're not good looking every day," insistedemma jane; "but you're different somehow. see my garnet ring; mother scrubbed it insoap and water. how on earth did your aunt mirandy let you put on your bran' new dress?" "they were both away and i didn't ask," rebeccaresponded anxiously. "why? do you think they'd have said no?"
"miss mirandy always says no, doesn't she?"asked emma jane. "yeâ€”es; but this afternoon is very specialâ€”almostlike a sunday-school concert." "yes," assented emma jane, "it is, of course;with your name on the board, and our pointing to your flag, and our elergant dialogue, andall that." the afternoon was one succession of solidtriumphs for everybody concerned. there were no real failures at all, no tears, no parentsashamed of their offspring. miss dearborn heard many admiring remarks passed upon herability, and wondered whether they belonged to her or partly, at least, to rebecca. thechild had no more to do than several others, but she was somehow in the foreground. ittranspired afterwards at various village entertainments
that rebecca couldn't be kept in the background;it positively refused to hold her. her worst enemy could not have called her pushing. shewas ready and willing and never shy; but she sought for no chances of display and was,indeed, remarkably lacking in self-consciousness, as well as eager to bring others into whateverfun or entertainment there was. if wherever the macgregor sat was the head of the table,so in the same way wherever rebecca stood was the centre of the stage. her clear hightreble soared above all the rest in the choruses, and somehow everybody watched her, took noteof her gestures, her whole-souled singing, her irrepressible enthusiasm. finally it was all over, and it seemed torebecca as if she should never be cool and
calm again, as she loitered on the homewardpath. there would be no lessons to learn to-night, and the vision of helping with the preserveson the morrow had no terrors for herâ€”fears could not draw breath in the radiance thatflooded her soul. there were thick gathering clouds in the sky, but she took no note ofthem save to be glad that she could raise her sunshade. she did not tread the solidground at all, or have any sense of belonging to the common human family, until she enteredthe side yard of the brick house and saw her aunt miranda standing in the open doorway.then with a rush she came back to earth. end of chapter viii chapter ixashes of roses
"there she is, over an hour late; a littlemore an' she'd 'a' been caught in a thunder shower, but she'd never look ahead," saidmiranda to jane; "and added to all her other iniquities, if she ain't rigged out in thatnew dress, steppin' along with her father's dancin'-school steps, and swingin' her parasolfor all the world as if she was play-actin'. now i'm the oldest, jane, an' i intend tohave my say out; if you don't like it you can go into the kitchen till it's over. stepright in here, rebecca; i want to talk to you. what did you put on that good new dressfor, on a school day, without permission?" "i had intended to ask you at noontime, butyou weren't at home, so i couldn't," began "you did no such a thing; you put it on becauseyou was left alone, though you knew well enough
i wouldn't have let you." "if i'd been certain you wouldn't have letme i'd never have done it," said rebecca, trying to be truthful; "but i wasn't certain,and it was worth risking. i thought perhaps you might, if you knew it was almost a realexhibition at school." "exhibition!" exclaimed miranda scornfully;"you are exhibition enough by yourself, i should say. was you exhibitin' your parasol?" "the parasol was silly," confessed rebecca,hanging her head; "but it's the only time in my whole life when i had anything to matchit, and it looked so beautiful with the pink dress! emma jane and i spoke a dialogue abouta city girl and a country girl, and it came
to me just the minute before i started hownice it would come in for the city girl; and it did. i haven't hurt my dress a mite, auntmirandy." "it's the craftiness and underhandedness ofyour actions that's the worst," said miranda coldly. "and look at the other things you'vedone! it seems as if satan possessed you! you went up the front stairs to your room,but you didn't hide your tracks, for you dropped your handkerchief on the way up. you leftthe screen out of your bedroom window for the flies to come in all over the house. younever cleared away your lunch nor set away a dish, and you left the side door unlockedfrom half past twelve to three o'clock, so 't anybody could 'a' come in and stolen whatthey liked!"
rebecca sat down heavily in her chair as sheheard the list of her transgressions. how could she have been so careless? the tearsbegan to flow now as she attempted to explain sins that never could be explained or justified. "oh, i'm so sorry!" she faltered. "i was trimmingthe schoolroom, and got belated, and ran all the way home. it was hard getting into mydress alone, and i hadn't time to eat but a mouthful, and just at the last minute, wheni honestlyâ€”honestlyâ€”would have thought about clearing away and locking up, i lookedat the clock and knew i could hardly get back to school in time to form in the line; andi thought how dreadful it would be to go in late and get my first black mark on a fridayafternoon, with the minister's wife and the
doctor's wife and the school committee allthere!" "don't wail and carry on now; it's no goodcryin' over spilt milk," answered miranda. "an ounce of good behavior is worth a poundof repentance. instead of tryin' to see how little trouble you can make in a house thatain't your own home, it seems as if you tried to see how much you could put us out. takethat rose out o' your dress and let me see the spot it's made on your yoke, an' the rustyholes where the wet pin went in. no, it ain't; but it's more by luck than forethought. iain't got any patience with your flowers and frizzled-out hair and furbelows an' airs an'graces, for all the world like your miss-nancy father."
rebecca lifted her head in a flash. "lookhere, aunt mirandy, i'll be as good as i know how to be. i'll mind quick when i'm spokento and never leave the door unlocked again, but i won't have my father called names. hewas a p-perfectly l-lovely father, that's what he was, and it's mean to call him missnancy!" "don't you dare answer me back that imperdentway, rebecca, tellin' me i'm mean; your father was a vain, foolish, shiftless man, an' youmight as well hear it from me as anybody else; he spent your mother's money and left herwith seven children to provide for." "it's s-something to leave s-seven nice children,"sobbed rebecca. "not when other folks have to help feed, clothe,and educate 'em," responded miranda. "now
you step upstairs, put on your nightgown,go to bed, and stay there till to-morrow mornin'. you'll find a bowl o' crackers an' milk onyour bureau, an' i don't want to hear a sound from you till breakfast time. jane, run an'take the dish towels off the line and shut the shed doors; we're goin' to have a turribleshower." "we've had it, i should think," said janequietly, as she went to do her sister's bidding. "i don't often speak my mind, mirandy; butyou ought not to have said what you did about lorenzo. he was what he was, and can't bemade any different; but he was rebecca's father, and aurelia always says he was a good husband." miranda had never heard the proverbial phraseabout the only "good indian," but her mind
worked in the conventional manner when shesaid grimly, "yes, i've noticed that dead husbands are usually good ones; but the truthneeds an airin' now and then, and that child will never amount to a hill o' beans tillshe gets some of her father trounced out of her. i'm glad i said just what i did." "i daresay you are," remarked jane, with whatmight be described as one of her annual bursts of courage; "but all the same, mirandy, itwasn't good manners, and it wasn't good religion!" the clap of thunder that shook the house justat that moment made no such peal in miranda sawyer's ears as jane's remark made when itfell with a deafening roar on her conscience. perhaps after all it is just as well to speakonly once a year and then speak to the purpose.
rebecca mounted the back stairs wearily, closedthe door of her bedroom, and took off the beloved pink gingham with trembling fingers.her cotton handkerchief was rolled into a hard ball, and in the intervals of reachingthe more difficult buttons that lay between her shoulder blades and her belt, she dabbedher wet eyes carefully, so that they should not rain salt water on the finery that hadbeen worn at such a price. she smoothed it out carefully, pinched up the white ruffleat the neck, and laid it away in a drawer with an extra little sob at the roughnessof life. the withered pink rose fell on the floor. rebecca looked at it and thought toherself, "just like my happy day!" nothing could show more clearly the kind of childshe was than the fact that she instantly perceived
the symbolism of the rose, and laid it inthe drawer with the dress as if she were burying the whole episode with all its sad memories.it was a child's poetic instinct with a dawning hint of woman's sentiment in it. she braided her hair in the two accustomedpig-tails, took off her best shoes (which had happily escaped notice), with all thewhile a fixed resolve growing in her mind, that of leaving the brick house and goingback to the farm. she would not be received there with open arms,â€”there was no hopeof that,â€”but she would help her mother about the house and send hannah to riverboro inher place. "i hope she'll like it!" she thought in a momentary burst of vindictiveness. shesat by the window trying to make some sort
of plan, watching the lightning play overthe hilltop and the streams of rain chasing each other down the lightning rod. and thiswas the day that had dawned so joyfully! it had been a red sunrise, and she had leanedon the window sill studying her lesson and thinking what a lovely world it was. and whata golden morning! the changing of the bare, ugly little schoolroom into a bower of beauty;miss dearborn's pleasure at her success with the simpson twins' recitation; the privilegeof decorating the blackboard; the happy thought of drawing columbia from the cigar box; theintoxicating moment when the school clapped her! and what an afternoon! how it went onfrom glory to glory, beginning with emma jane's telling her, rebecca randall, that she wasas "handsome as a picture."
she lived through the exercises again in memory,especially her dialogue with emma jane and her inspiration of using the bough-coveredstove as a mossy bank where the country girl could sit and watch her flocks. this gaveemma jane a feeling of such ease that she never recited better; and how generous itwas of her to lend the garnet ring to the city girl, fancying truly how it would flashas she furled her parasol and approached the awe-stricken shepherdess! she had thoughtaunt miranda might be pleased that the niece invited down from the farm had succeeded sowell at school; but no, there was no hope of pleasing her in that or in any other way.she would go to maplewood on the stage next day with mr. cobb and get home somehow fromcousin ann's. on second thoughts her aunts
might not allow it. very well, she would slipaway now and see if she could stay all night with the cobbs and be off next morning beforebreakfast. rebecca never stopped long to think, more's the pity, so she put on her oldest dress and hat and jacket, then wrapped her nightdress,comb, and toothbrush in a bundle and dropped it softly out of the window. her room wasin the l and her window at no very dangerous distance from the ground, though had it been,nothing could have stopped her at that moment. somebody who had gone on the roof to cleanout the gutters had left a cleat nailed to the side of the house about halfway betweenthe window and the top of the back porch. rebecca heard the sound of the sewing machinein the dining-room and the chopping of meat
in the kitchen; so knowing the whereaboutsof both her aunts, she scrambled out of the window, caught hold of the lightning rod,slid down to the helpful cleat, jumped to the porch, used the woodbine trellis for aladder, and was flying up the road in the storm before she had time to arrange any detailsof her future movements. jeremiah cobb sat at his lonely supper atthe table by the kitchen window. "mother," as he with his old-fashioned habits was inthe habit of calling his wife, was nursing a sick neighbor. mrs. cobb was mother onlyto a little headstone in the churchyard, where reposed "sarah ann, beloved daughter of jeremiahand sarah cobb, aged seventeen months;" but the name of mother was better than nothing,and served at any rate as a reminder of her
woman's crown of blessedness. the rain still fell, and the heavens weredark, though it was scarcely five o'clock. looking up from his "dish of tea," the oldman saw at the open door a very figure of woe. rebecca's face was so swollen with tearsand so sharp with misery that for a moment he scarcely recognized her. then when he heardher voice asking, "please may i come in, mr. cobb?" he cried, "well i vow! it's my littlelady passenger! come to call on old uncle jerry and pass the time o' day, hev ye? why,you're wet as sops. draw up to the stove. i made a fire, hot as it was, thinkin' i wantedsomethin' warm for my supper, bein' kind o' lonesome without mother. she's settin' upwith seth strout to-night. there, we'll hang
your soppy hat on the nail, put your jacketover the chair rail, an' then you turn your back to the stove an' dry yourself good." uncle jerry had never before said so manywords at a time, but he had caught sight of the child's red eyes and tear-stained cheeks,and his big heart went out to her in her trouble, quite regardless of any circumstances thatmight have caused it. rebecca stood still for a moment until unclejerry took his seat again at the table, and then, unable to contain herself longer, cried,"oh, mr. cobb, i've run away from the brick house, and i want to go back to the farm.will you keep me to-night and take me up to maplewood in the stage? i haven't got anymoney for my fare, but i'll earn it somehow
afterwards." "well, i guess we won't quarrel 'bout money,you and me," said the old man; "and we've never had our ride together, anyway, thoughwe allers meant to go down river, not up." "i shall never see milltown now!" sobbed rebecca. "come over here side o' me an' tell me allabout it," coaxed uncle jerry. "jest set down on that there wooden cricket an' out withthe whole story." rebecca leaned her aching head against mr.cobb's homespun knee and recounted the history of her trouble. tragic as that history seemedto her passionate and undisciplined mind, she told it truthfully and without exaggeration.end of chapter ix
chapter x rainbow bridges uncle jerry coughed and stirred in his chaira good deal during rebecca's recital, but he carefully concealed any undue feeling ofsympathy, just muttering, "poor little soul! we'll see what we can do for her!" "you will take me to maplewood, won't you,mr. cobb?" begged rebecca piteously. "don't you fret a mite," he answered, witha crafty little notion at the back of his mind; "i'll see the lady passenger throughsomehow. now take a bite o' somethin' to eat, child. spread some o' that tomato preserveon your bread; draw up to the table. how'd
you like to set in mother's place an' pourme out another cup o' hot tea?" mr. jeremiah cobb's mental machinery was simple,and did not move very smoothly save when propelled by his affection or sympathy. in the presentcase these were both employed to his advantage, and mourning his stupidity and praying forsome flash of inspiration to light his path, he blundered along, trusting to providence. rebecca, comforted by the old man's tone,and timidly enjoying the dignity of sitting in mrs. cobb's seat and lifting the blue chinateapot, smiled faintly, smoothed her hair, and dried her eyes. "i suppose your mother'll be turrible gladto see you back again?" queried mr. cobb.
a tiny fearâ€”just a baby thingâ€”in the bottomof rebecca's heart stirred and grew larger the moment it was touched with a question. "she won't like it that i ran away, i s'pose,and she'll be sorry that i couldn't please aunt mirandy; but i'll make her understand,just as i did you." "i s'pose she was thinkin' o' your schoolin',lettin' you come down here; but land! you can go to school in temperance, i s'pose?" "there's only two months' school now in temperance,and the farm 's too far from all the other schools." "oh well! there's other things in the worldbeside edjercation," responded uncle jerry,
attacking a piece of apple pie. "yeâ€”es; though mother thought that was goingto be the making of me," returned rebecca sadly, giving a dry little sob as she triedto drink her tea. "it'll be nice for you to be all togetheragain at the farmâ€”such a house full o' children!" remarked the dear old deceiver, who longedfor nothing so much as to cuddle and comfort the poor little creature. "it's too fullâ€”that's the trouble. but i'llmake hannah come to riverboro in my place." "s'pose mirandy 'n' jane'll have her? i shouldbe 'most afraid they wouldn't. they'll be kind o' mad at your goin' home, you know,and you can't hardly blame 'em."
this was quite a new thought,â€”that the brickhouse might be closed to hannah, since she, rebecca, had turned her back upon its coldhospitality. "how is this school down here in riverboroâ€”prettygood?" inquired uncle jerry, whose brain was working with an altogether unaccustomed rapidity,â€”somuch so that it almost terrified him. "oh, it's a splendid school! and miss dearbornis a splendid teacher!" "you like her, do you? well, you'd betterbelieve she returns the compliment. mother was down to the store this afternoon buyin'liniment for seth strout, an' she met miss dearborn on the bridge. they got to talkin''bout school, for mother has summer-boarded a lot o' the schoolmarms, an' likes 'em. 'howdoes the little temperance girl git along?'
asks mother. 'oh, she's the best scholar ihave!' says miss dearborn. 'i could teach school from sun-up to sun-down if scholarswas all like rebecca randall,' says she." "oh, mr. cobb, did she say that?" glowed rebecca,her face sparkling and dimpling in an instant. "i've tried hard all the time, but i'll studythe covers right off of the books now." "you mean you would if you'd ben goin' tostay here," interposed uncle jerry. "now ain't it too bad you've jest got to give it allup on account o' your aunt mirandy? well, i can't hardly blame ye. she's cranky an'she's sour; i should think she'd ben nussed on bonny-clabber an' green apples. she needsbearin' with; an' i guess you ain't much on patience, be ye?"
"not very much," replied rebecca dolefully. "if i'd had this talk with ye yesterday,"pursued mr. cobb, "i believe i'd have advised ye different. it's too late now, an' i don'tfeel to say you've ben all in the wrong; but if 't was to do over again, i'd say, well,your aunt mirandy gives you clothes and board and schoolin' and is goin' to send you towareham at a big expense. she's turrible hard to get along with, an' kind o' heaves benefitsat your head, same 's she would bricks; but they're benefits jest the same, an' mebbeit's your job to kind o' pay for 'em in good behavior. jane's a leetle bit more easy goin'than mirandy, ain't she, or is she jest as hard to please?"
"oh, aunt jane and i get along splendidly,"exclaimed rebecca; "she's just as good and kind as she can be, and i like her betterall the time. i think she kind of likes me, too; she smoothed my hair once. i'd let herscold me all day long, for she understands; but she can't stand up for me against auntmirandy; she's about as afraid of her as i am." "jane'll be real sorry to-morrow to find you'vegone away, i guess; but never mind, it can't be helped. if she has a kind of a dull timewith mirandy, on account o' her bein' so sharp, why of course she'd set great store by yourcomp'ny. mother was talkin' with her after prayer meetin' the other night. 'you wouldn'tknow the brick house, sarah,' says jane. 'i'm
keepin' a sewin' school, an' my scholar hasmade three dresses. what do you think o' that,' says she, 'for an old maid's child? i've takena class in sunday-school,' says jane, 'an' think o' renewin' my youth an' goin' to thepicnic with rebecca,' says she; an' mother declares she never see her look so young 'n'happy." there was a silence that could be felt inthe little kitchen; a silence only broken by the ticking of the tall clock and the beatingof rebecca's heart, which, it seemed to her, almost drowned the voice of the clock. therain ceased, a sudden rosy light filled the room, and through the window a rainbow archcould be seen spanning the heavens like a radiant bridge. bridges took one across difficultplaces, thought rebecca, and uncle jerry seemed
to have built one over her troubles and givenher strength to walk. "the shower 's over," said the old man, fillinghis pipe; "it's cleared the air, washed the face o' the airth nice an' clean, an' everythingto-morrer will shine like a new pinâ€”when you an' i are drivin' up river." rebecca pushed her cup away, rose from thetable, and put on her hat and jacket quietly. "i'm not going to drive up river, mr. cobb,"she said. "i'm going to stay here andâ€”catch bricks; catch 'em without throwing 'em back,too. i don't know as aunt mirandy will take me in after i've run away, but i'm going backnow while i have the courage. you wouldn't be so good as to go with me, would you, mr.cobb?"
"you'd better b'lieve your uncle jerry don'tpropose to leave till he gits this thing fixed up," cried the old man delightedly. "now you'vehad all you can stan' to-night, poor little soul, without gettin' a fit o' sickness; an'mirandy'll be sore an' cross an' in no condition for argyment; so my plan is jest this: todrive you over to the brick house in my top buggy; to have you set back in the corner,an' i git out an' go to the side door; an' when i git your aunt mirandy 'n' aunt janeout int' the shed to plan for a load o' wood i'm goin' to have hauled there this week,you'll slip out o' the buggy and go upstairs to bed. the front door won't be locked, willit?" "not this time of night," rebecca answered;"not till aunt mirandy goes to bed; but oh!
what if it should be?" "well, it won't; an' if 't is, why we'll haveto face it out; though in my opinion there's things that won't bear facin' out an' hadbetter be settled comfortable an' quiet. you see you ain't run away yet; you've only comeover here to consult me 'bout runnin' away, an' we've concluded it ain't wuth the trouble.the only real sin you've committed, as i figger it out, was in comin' here by the winder whenyou'd ben sent to bed. that ain't so very black, an' you can tell your aunt jane 'boutit come sunday, when she's chock full o' religion, an' she can advise you when you'd better tellyour aunt mirandy. i don't believe in deceivin' folks, but if you've hed hard thoughts youain't obleeged to own 'em up; take 'em to
the lord in prayer, as the hymn says, andthen don't go on hevin' 'em. now come on; i'm all hitched up to go over to the post-office;don't forget your bundle; 'it's always a journey, mother, when you carry a nightgown;' them's the first words your uncle jerry ever heard you say! he didn't think you'd be bringin'your nightgown over to his house. step in an' curl up in the corner; we ain't goin'to let folks see little runaway gals, 'cause they're goin' back to begin all over ag'in!" when rebecca crept upstairs, and undressingin the dark finally found herself in her bed that night, though she was aching and throbbingin every nerve, she felt a kind of peace stealing over her. she had been saved from foolishnessand error; kept from troubling her poor mother;
prevented from angering and mortifying heraunts. her heart was melted now, and she determinedto win aunt miranda's approval by some desperate means, and to try and forget the one thingthat rankled worst, the scornful mention of her father, of whom she thought with the greatestadmiration, and whom she had not yet heard criticised; for such sorrows and disappointmentsas aurelia randall had suffered had never been communicated to her children. it would have been some comfort to the bruised,unhappy little spirit to know that miranda sawyer was passing an uncomfortable night,and that she tacitly regretted her harshness, partly because jane had taken such a loftyand virtuous position in the matter. she could
not endure jane's disapproval, although shewould never have confessed to such a weakness. as uncle jerry drove homeward under the stars,well content with his attempts at keeping the peace, he thought wistfully of the touchof rebecca's head on his knee, and the rain of her tears on his hand; of the sweet reasonablenessof her mind when she had the matter put rightly before her; of her quick decision when shehad once seen the path of duty; of the touching hunger for love and understanding that wereso characteristic in her. "lord a'mighty!" he ejaculated under his breath, "lord a'mighty!to hector and abuse a child like that one! 't ain't abuse exactly, i know, or 't wouldn'tbe to some o' your elephant-hided young ones; but to that little tender will-o'-the-wispa hard word 's like a lash. mirandy sawyer
would be a heap better woman if she had alittle gravestun to remember, same's mother 'n' i have." "i never see a child improve in her work asrebecca has to-day," remarked miranda sawyer to jane on saturday evening. "that settin'down i gave her was probably just what she needed, and i daresay it'll last for a month." "i'm glad you're pleased," returned jane."a cringing worm is what you want, not a bright, smiling child. rebecca looks to me as if she'dbeen through the seven years' war. when she came downstairs this morning it seemed tome she'd grown old in the night. if you follow my advice, which you seldom do, you'll letme take her and emma jane down beside the
river to-morrow afternoon and bring emma janehome to a good sunday supper. then if you'll let her go to milltown with the cobbs on wednesday,that'll hearten her up a little and coax back her appetite. wednesday 's a holiday on accountof miss dearborn's going home to her sister's wedding, and the cobbs and perkinses wantto go down to the agricultural fair." end of chapter x chapter xi "the stirring of the powers" rebecca's visit to milltown was all that herglowing fancy had painted it, except that recent readings about rome and venice disposedher to believe that those cities might have
an advantage over milltown in the matter ofmere pictorial beauty. so soon does the soul outgrow its mansions that after once seeingmilltown her fancy ran out to the future sight of portland; for that, having islands anda harbor and two public monuments, must be far more beautiful than milltown, which would,she felt, take its proud place among the cities of the earth, by reason of its tremendousbusiness activity rather than by any irresistible appeal to the imagination. it would be impossible for two children tosee more, do more, walk more, talk more, eat more, or ask more questions than rebecca andemma jane did on that eventful wednesday. "she's the best company i ever see in allmy life," said mrs. cobb to her husband that
evening. "we ain't had a dull minute thisday. she's well-mannered, too; she didn't ask for anything, and was thankful for whatevershe got. did you watch her face when we went into that tent where they was actin' out uncletom's cabin? and did you take notice of the way she told us about the book when we satdown to have our ice cream? i tell you harriet beecher stowe herself couldn't 'a' done itbetter justice." "i took it all in," responded mr. cobb, whowas pleased that "mother" agreed with him about rebecca. "i ain't sure but she's goin'to turn out somethin' remarkable,â€”a singer, or a writer, or a lady doctor like that missparks up to cornish." "lady doctors are always home'paths, ain'tthey?" asked mrs. cobb, who, it is needless
to say, was distinctly of the old school inmedicine. "land, no, mother; there ain't no home'path'bout miss parksâ€”she drives all over the country." "i can't see rebecca as a lady doctor, somehow,"mused mrs. cobb. "her gift o' gab is what's goin' to be the makin' of her; mebbe she'lllecture, or recite pieces, like that portland elocutionist that come out here to the harvestsupper." "i guess she'll be able to write down herown pieces," said mr. cobb confidently; "she could make 'em up faster 'n she could read'em out of a book." "it's a pity she's so plain looking," remarkedmrs. cobb, blowing out the candle.
"plain looking, mother?" exclaimed her husbandin astonishment. "look at the eyes of her; look at the hair of her, an' the smile, an'that there dimple! look at alice robinson, that's called the prettiest child on the river,an' see how rebecca shines her ri' down out o' sight! i hope mirandy'll favor her comin'over to see us real often, for she'll let off some of her steam here, an' the brickhouse'll be consid'able safer for everybody concerned. we've known what it was to hevchildren, even if 't was more 'n thirty years ago, an' we can make allowances." notwithstanding the encomiums of mr. and mrs.cobb, rebecca made a poor hand at composition writing at this time. miss dearborn gave herevery sort of subject that she had ever been
given herself: cloud pictures; abraham lincoln;nature; philanthropy; slavery; intemperance; joy and duty; solitude; but with none of themdid rebecca seem to grapple satisfactorily. "write as you talk, rebecca," insisted poormiss dearborn, who secretly knew that she could never manage a good composition herself. "but gracious me, miss dearborn! i don't talkabout nature and slavery. i can't write unless i have something to say, can i?" "that is what compositions are for," returnedmiss dearborn doubtfully; "to make you have things to say. now in your last one, on solitude,you haven't said anything very interesting, and you've made it too common and every-dayto sound well. there are too many 'yous' and
'yours' in it; you ought to say 'one' nowand then, to make it seem more like good writing. 'one opens a favorite book;' 'one's thoughtsare a great comfort in solitude,' and so on." "i don't know any more about solitude thisweek than i did about joy and duty last week," grumbled rebecca. "you tried to be funny about joy and duty,"said miss dearborn reprovingly; "so of course you didn't succeed." "i didn't know you were going to make us readthe things out loud," said rebecca with an embarrassed smile of recollection. "joy and duty" had been the inspiring subjectgiven to the older children for a theme to
be written in five minutes. rebecca had wrestled, struggled, perspiredin vain. when her turn came to read she was obliged to confess she had written nothing. "you have at least two lines, rebecca," insistedthe teacher, "for i see them on your slate." "i'd rather not read them, please; they arenot good," pleaded rebecca. "read what you have, good or bad, little ormuch; i am excusing nobody." rebecca rose, overcome with secret laughterdread, and mortification; then in a low voice she read the couplet:â€” when joy and duty clash let duty go to smash.
dick carter's head disappeared under the desk,while living perkins choked with laughter. miss dearborn laughed too; she was littlemore than a girl, and the training of the young idea seldom appealed to the sense ofhumor. "you must stay after school and try again,rebecca," she said, but she said it smilingly. "your poetry hasn't a very nice idea in itfor a good little girl who ought to love duty." "it wasn't my idea," said rebecca apologetically."i had only made the first line when i saw you were going to ring the bell and say thetime was up. i had 'clash' written, and i couldn't think of anything then but 'hash'or 'rash' or 'smash.' i'll change it to this:â€” when joy and duty clash, 't is joy must goto smash."
"that is better," miss dearborn answered,"though i cannot think 'going to smash' is a pretty expression for poetry." having been instructed in the use of the indefinitepronoun "one" as giving a refined and elegant touch to literary efforts, rebecca painstakinglyrewrote her composition on solitude, giving it all the benefit of miss dearborn's suggestion.it then appeared in the following form, which hardly satisfied either teacher or pupil:â€” solitude it would be false to say that one could everbe alone when one has one's lovely thoughts to comfort one. one sits by one's self, itis true, but one thinks; one opens one's favorite
book and reads one's favorite story; one speaksto one's aunt or one's brother, fondles one's cat, or looks at one's photograph album. thereis one's work also: what a joy it is to one, if one happens to like work. all one's littlehousehold tasks keep one from being lonely. does one ever feel bereft when one picks upone's chips to light one's fire for one's evening meal? or when one washes one's milkpail before milking one's cow? one would fancy not. r. r. r. "it is perfectly dreadful," sighed rebeccawhen she read it aloud after school. "putting in 'one' all the time doesn't make it soundany more like a book, and it looks silly besides."
"you say such queer things," objected missdearborn. "i don't see what makes you do it. why did you put in anything so common as pickingup chips?" "because i was talking about 'household tasks'in the sentence before, and it is one of my household tasks. don't you think calling supper'one's evening meal' is pretty? and isn't 'bereft' a nice word?" "yes, that part of it does very well. it isthe cat, the chips, and the milk pail that i don't like." "all right!" sighed rebecca. "out they go;does the cow go too?" "yes, i don't like a cow in a composition,"said the difficult miss dearborn.
the milltown trip had not been without itstragic consequences of a small sort; for the next week minnie smellie's mother told mirandasawyer that she'd better look after rebecca, for she was given to "swearing and profanelanguage;" that she had been heard saying something dreadful that very afternoon, sayingit before emma jane and living perkins, who only laughed and got down on all fours andchased her. rebecca, on being confronted and charged withthe crime, denied it indignantly, and aunt jane believed her. "search your memory, rebecca, and try to thinkwhat minnie overheard you say," she pleaded. "don't be ugly and obstinate, but think realhard. when did they chase you up the road,
and what were you doing?" a sudden light broke upon rebecca's darkness. "oh! i see it now," she exclaimed. "it hadrained hard all the morning, you know, and the road was full of puddles. emma jane, living,and i were walking along, and i was ahead. i saw the water streaming over the road towardsthe ditch, and it reminded me of uncle tom's cabin at milltown, when eliza took her babyand ran across the mississippi on the ice blocks, pursued by the bloodhounds. we couldn'tkeep from laughing after we came out of the tent because they were acting on such a smallplatform that eliza had to run round and round, and part of the time the one dog they hadpursued her, and part of the time she had
to pursue the dog. i knew living would remember,too, so i took off my waterproof and wrapped it round my books for a baby; then i shouted,'my god! the river!' just like thatâ€”the same as eliza did in the play; then i leapedfrom puddle to puddle, and living and emma jane pursued me like the bloodhounds. it'sjust like that stupid minnie smellie who doesn't know a game when she sees one. and eliza wasn'tswearing when she said 'my god! the river!' it was more like praying." "well, you've got no call to be prayin', anymore than swearin', in the middle of the road," said miranda; "but i'm thankful it's no worse.you're born to trouble as the sparks fly upward, an' i'm afraid you allers will be till youlearn to bridle your unruly tongue."
"i wish sometimes that i could bridle minnie's,"murmured rebecca, as she went to set the table for supper. "i declare she is the beatin'est child!" saidmiranda, taking off her spectacles and laying down her mending. "you don't think she's aleetle mite crazy, do you, jane?" "i don't think she's like the rest of us,"responded jane thoughtfully and with some anxiety in her pleasant face; "but whetherit's for the better or the worse i can't hardly tell till she grows up. she's got the makingof 'most anything in her, rebecca has; but i feel sometimes as if we were not fittedto cope with her." "stuff an' nonsense!" said miranda "speakfor yourself. i feel fitted to cope with any
child that ever was born int' the world!" "i know you do, mirandy; but that don't makeyou so," returned jane with a smile. the habit of speaking her mind freely wascertainly growing on jane to an altogether terrifying extent.end of chapter xiMy Little Pony Elements Of Harmony Coloring Pages