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Title: A Grandmother's Recollections
Author: Rodman, Ella
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Grandmother's Recollections" ***






The best bed-chamber, with its hangings of crimson moreen, was opened
and aired--a performance which always caused my eight little brothers
and sisters to place themselves in convenient positions for being
stumbled over, to the great annoyance of industrious damsels, who, armed
with broom and duster, endeavored to render their reign as arbitrary as
it was short. For some time past, the nursery-maids had invariably
silenced refractory children with "Fie, Miss Matilda! Your grandmother
will make you behave yourself--_she_ won't allow such doings, I'll be
bound!" or "Aren't you ashamed of yourself, Master Clarence? What will
your grandmother say to that!" The nursery was in a state of uproar on
the day of my venerable relative's arrival; for the children almost
expected to see, in their grandmother, an ogress, both in features and

My mother was the eldest of two children, and my grandmother, from the
period of my infancy, had resided in England with her youngest daughter;
and we were now all employed in wondering what sort of a person our
relative might be. Mamma informed us that the old lady was extremely
dignified, and exacted respect and attention from all around; she also
hinted, at the same time, that it would be well for me to lay aside a
little of my self-sufficiency, and accommodate myself to the humors of
my grandmother. This to me!--to _me_, whose temper was so inflammable
that the least inadvertent touch was sufficient to set it in a blaze--it
was too much! So, like a well-disposed young lady, I very properly
resolved that _mine_ should not be the arm to support the venerable Mrs.
Arlington in her daily walks; that should the children playfully
ornament the cushion of her easy-chair with pins, _I_ would not turn
informant; and should a conspiracy be on foot to burn the old lady's
best wig, I entertained serious thoughts of helping along myself.

In the meantime, like all selfish persons, I considered what demeanor I
should assume, in order to impress my grandmother with a conviction of
my own consequence. Of course, dignified and unbending I _would_ be; but
what if she chose to consider me a child, and treat me accordingly? The
idea was agonizing to my feelings; but then I proudly surveyed my five
feet two inches of height, and wondered how I could have thought of such
a thing! Still I had sense enough to know that such a supposition would
never have entered my head, had there not been sufficient grounds for
it; and, with no small trepidation, I prepared for my first appearance.

It went off as first appearances generally do. I _was_ to have been
seated in an attitude of great elegance, with my eyes fixed on the pages
of some wonderfully wise book, but my thoughts anywhere but in company
with my eyes; while, to give more dignity to a girlish figure, my hair
was to be turned up on the very top of my head with a huge shell comb,
borrowed for the occasion from mamma's drawer. Upon my grandmother's
entrance, I intended to rise and make her a very stiff courtesy, and
then deliver a series of womanish remarks. This, I say, _was_ to have
been my first appearance--but alas! fate ordered otherwise. I was caught
by my dignified relative indulging in a game of romps upon the balcony
with two or three little sisters in pinafores and pantalettes--myself as
much a child as any of them. My grandmother came rather suddenly upon me
as, with my long hair floating in wild confusion, I stooped to pick up
my comb; and while in this ungraceful position, one of the little
urchins playfully climbed upon my back, while the others held me down.
My three little sisters had never appeared to such disadvantage in my
eyes, as they did at the present moment; in vain I tried to shake them
off--they only clung the closer, from fright, on being told of their
grandmother's arrival.

At length, with crimsoned cheeks, and the hot tears starting to my eyes,
I rose and received, rather than returned the offered embrace, and found
myself in the capacious arms of one whom I should have taken for an old
dowager duchess. On glancing at my grandmother's portly figure and
consequential air, I experienced the uncomfortable sensation of utter
insignificance--I encountered the gaze of those full, piercing eyes, and
felt that I was conquered. Still I resolved to make some struggles for
my dignity yet, and not submit until defeat was no longer doubtful.
People in talking of "unrequited affection," speak of "the knell of
departed hopes," but no knell could sound more dreadful to the
ears of a girl in her teens--trembling for her scarcely-fledged
young-lady-hood--than did the voice of my grandmother, (and it was by no
means low), as she remarked:

"So this is Ella. Why, how the child has altered! I remember her only as
a little, screaming baby, that was forever holding its breath with
passion till it became black in the face. Many a thumping have I given
you, child, to make you come to, and sometimes I doubted if your face
ever would be straight again. Even now it can hardly be said to belong
to the meek and amiable order."

Here my grandmother drew forth her gold spectacles from a
richly-ornamented case, and deliberately scanned my indignant features,
while she observed: "Not much of the Bredforth style--quite an
Arlington." I drew myself up with all the offended dignity of sixteen,
but it was of no use; my grandmother turned me round, in much the same
manner that the giant might have been supposed to handle Tom Thumb, and
surveyed me from top to toe.

I was unable to discover the effect of her investigation, but I
immediately became convinced that my grandmother's opinion was one of
the greatest importance. She possessed that indescribable kind of manner
which places you under the conviction that you are continually doing,
saying, or thinking something wrong; and which makes you humbly obliged
to such a person for coinciding in any of your opinions. Instead of the
dignified part I had expected to play, I looked very like a naughty
child that has just been taken out of its corner. The impression left
upon my mind by my grandmother's appearance will never be effaced; her
whole _tout ensemble_ was peculiarly striking, with full dark eyes,
high Roman nose, mouth of great beauty and firmness of expression, and
teeth whose splendor I have never seen equalled--although she was then
past her fiftieth year. Add to this a tall, well-proportioned figure,
and a certain air of authority, and my grandmother stands before you.

As time somewhat diminished our awe, we gained the _entrée_ of my
grandmother's apartment, and even ventured to express our curiosity
respecting the contents of various trunks, parcels, and curious-looking
boxes. To children, there is no greater pleasure than being permitted to
look over and arrange the articles contained in certain carefully-locked
up drawers, unopened boxes, and old-fashioned chests; stray jewels from
broken rings--two or three beads of a necklace--a sleeve or breadth of
somebody's wedding dress--locks of hair--gifts of schoolgirl
friendships--and all those little mementoes of the past, that lie
neglected and forgotten till a search after some mislaid article brings
them again to our view, and excites a burst of feeling that causes us to
look sadly back upon the long vista of departed years, with their
withered hopes, never-realized expectations, and fresh, joyous tone,
seared by disappointment and worldly wisdom. The reward of patient toil
and deep-laid schemes yields not half the pleasure that did the little
Indian cabinet, (which always stood so provokingly locked, and just
within reach), when during a period of convalescence, we were permitted
to examine its recesses--when floods of sunlight danced upon the wall of
the darkened room towards the close of day, and every one seemed _so_

My grandmother indulged our curiosity to the utmost; now a pair of
diamond ear-pendants would appear among the soft folds of perfumed
cotton, and flash and glow with all the brilliancy of former days--now a
rich brocaded petticoat called up phantoms of the past, when ladies wore
high-heeled shoes, and waists of no size at all--and gentlemen felt
magnificently attired in powdered curls and cues, and as many ruffles as
would fill a modern dressing gown. There were also fairy slippers,
curiously embroidered, with neatly covered heels; and anxious to adorn
myself with these relics of the olden time I attempted to draw one on.
But like the renowned glass-slipper, it would fit none but the owner,
and I found myself in the same predicament as Cinderella's sisters. In
vain I tugged and pulled; the more I tried, the more it wouldn't go
on--and my grandmother remarked with a sigh, that "people's feet were
not as small as they were in old times." I panted with vexation; for I
had always been proud of my foot, and now put it forward that my
grandmother might see how small it was. But no well-timed compliment
soothed my irritated feelings; and more dissatisfied with myself than
ever, I pursued my investigations.

My grandmother, as if talking to herself, murmured: "How little do we
know, when we set out in life, of the many disappointments before us!
How little can we deem that the heart which then is ours will change
with the fleeting sunshine! It is fearful to have the love of a
life-time thrown back as a worthless thing!"

"Fearful!" I chimed in. "Death were preferable!"

"You little goose!" exclaimed my grandmother, as she looked me full in
the face, "What can _you_ possibly know about the matter?"

I had nothing to do but bury my head down low in the trunk I was
exploring; it was my last attempt at sentiment. My grandmother took
occasion to give me some very good advice with respect to the behavior
of hardly-grown girls; she remarked that they should be careful not to
engross the conversation, and also, that quiet people were always more
interesting than loud talkers. I resolved to try my utmost to be quiet
and interesting, though at the same time it did occur to me as a little
strange that, being so great an admirer of the species, she was not
quiet and interesting herself. But being quiet was not my grandmother's
forte; and it is generally understood that people always admire what
they are not, or have not themselves.


The old lady also possessed rather strict ideas of the respect and
deference due to parents and elders; and poor mamma, whose authority did
not stand very high, felt considerable relief in consequence of our,
(or, as I am tempted to say, _the children's_) improved behavior. I
remember being rather startled myself one day, when one of the
before-mentioned little sisters commenced a system of teazing for some
forbidden article.

"Mother, mother,--can't I have that set of cards? We want it in our
play-room--Phemie and me are going to build a house."

"I do not like to give you permission," replied mamma, looking
considerably worried, "for George does not wish you to have them."

"Oh, but George is out, mother--out for all day," rejoined the
precocious canvasser, "and will never know anything about it."

"But perhaps he might come home before you had done with them, and
George is so terribly passionate, and hates to have his things touched,
that he will raise the whole house."

"Poor boy!" observed my grandmother dryly, "What a misfortune to be so
passionate! A deep-seated, and, I fear, incurable one, Amy; for of
course you have used your utmost endeavors, both by precept and example,
to render him otherwise."

I almost pitied my mother's feelings; for well did I remember the
cried-for toy placed within his hands, to stop the constant succession
of screams sent forth by a pair of lungs whose strength seemed
inexhaustible--the comfort and convenience of the whole family
disregarded, not because he was the _best_, but the _worst_ child--and
often the destruction of some highly-prized trinket or gem of art,
because he was "_passionate_;" the result of which was, that my poor
brother George became one of the most selfish, exacting, intolerable
boys that ever lived.

There was no reply, save a troubled look; and the little tormentor
continued in a fretful tone; "We'll put 'em all away before he gets in,
and never tell him a word of it--can't we have them, mother?"

My mother glanced towards her mentor, but the look which she met
impelled her to pursue a course so different from her usual one, that I
listened in surprise: "No, Caroline, you can _not_ have them--now leave
the room, and let me hear no more about it."

"I want them," said the child in a sullen tone, while she turned to that
invariable resource of refactory children who happen to be near a door;
namely, turning the knob, and clicking the lock back and forth, and
swinging on it at intervals.

This performance is extremely trying to a person of restless, nervous
temperament, and my grandmother, setting up her spectacles, exclaimed
commandingly: "Caroline, how dare you stand pouting there? Did you not
hear your mother, naughty girl? Leave the room--this instant?"

The child stood a moment almost transfixed with surprise; but as she saw
my grandmother preparing to advance upon her--her ample skirts and
portly person somewhat resembling a ship under full sail--she made
rather an abrupt retreat; discomposing the nerves of a small
nursery-maid, whom she encountered in the passage, to such a degree
that, as the girl expressed it, "she was took all of a sudden."

I had given a quick, convulsive start as the first tones fell upon my
ear, and now sat bending over my sewing like a chidden child, almost
afraid to look up. I was one of those unlucky mortals who bear the blame
of everything wrong they witness; and having, in tender infancy, been
suddenly seized upon in Sunday school by the superintendent, and placed
in a conspicuous situation of disgrace for looking at a companion who
was performing some strange antic, but who possessed one of those
india-rubber faces that, after twisting themselves into all possible, or
rather impossible shapes, immediately become straight the moment any
one observes them--having, I say, met with this mortifying exposure, it
gave me a shock which I have not to this day recovered; and I cannot now
see any one start up hastily in pursuit of another without fancying
myself the culprit, and trembling accordingly. This sudden movement,
therefore, of my grandmother's threw me into an alarming state of
terror, and, quite still and subdued, I sat industriously stitching, all
the morning after.

"Dear me!" said my mother with a sigh, "how much better you make them
mind than I can."

"I see, Amy," said my grandmother kindly, "that your influence is very
weak--the care of of so large a family has prevented you from attending
to each one properly. You perceive the effect of a little well-timed
authority, and I do not despair of you yet. You are naturally," she
continued, "amiable and indolent, and though gentleness is certainly
agreeable and interesting, yet a constant succession of sweets cannot
fail to cloy, and engender a taste for something sharper and more

Delicacy prevented me from remaining to hear my mother advised and
lectured, and the rest of my grandmother's discourse was therefore lost
to me; but whatever it was, I soon perceived its beneficial results--the
children were no longer permitted to roam indiscriminately through all
parts of the house--certain rooms were proof againt their
invasions--they became less troublesome and exacting, and far more
companionable. The worried look gradually cleared from my mother's brow,
and as my grandmother was extremely fond of sight-seeing, visiting,
tea-drinkings, and everything in the shape of company, she persevered in
dragging her daughter out day after day, until she made her enjoy it
almost as much as herself. Old acquaintances were hunted up and brought
to light, and new ones made through the exertions of my grandmother,
who, in consequence of such a sociable disposition, soon became very
popular. The young ones were banished to the nursery; and, as they were
no longer allowed to spend their days in eating, there was far less
sickness among them, and our family doctor's bill decreased amazingly.

Our grandmother, having spent many years in the "mother-country," was
extremely English in her feelings and opinions, and highly advocated the
frugal diet on which the children of the higher classes are always kept.
Lord and Lady Grantham, the son-in-law and daughter at whose residence
she passed the time of her sojourn in England, were infallible models of
excellence and prudence; and the children were again and again informed
that their little English cousins were never allowed meat until the age
of seven, and considered it a great treat to get beef broth twice a
week. Butter was also a prohibited article of luxury--their usual
breakfast consisting of mashed potatoes, or bread and milk; and my
grandmother used to relate how one morning a little curly-headed thing
approached her with an air of great mystery, and whispered: "What _do_
you think we had for breakfast?" "Something very good, I suspect--what
can it be?" "Guess." "O, I cannot; you must tell me." "_Buttered
bread_!" Our laughter increased as she gave an amusing account of the
blue eyes stretched to their utmost extent, as these wonderful words
were pronounced hesitatingly, as though doubtful of the effect; and in
consequence of various anecdotes of the same nature, the children's
impressions of England were by no means agreeable. Our little cousins
must certainly have been the most wonderful children ever heard of, for
by my grandmother's account, they could dance, sing, and speak French
almost as soon as they could walk. She also informed us, as a positive
fact, that on saying: "_Baisez, Cora--baisez la dame_," the very baby in
arms put up its rosebud lips to kiss the stranger mentioned. It would
have been stranger still for the younger children to speak English, as
they were always in the company of French nurses.

Although my grandmother could so easily assume a stern and commanding
air, it was by no means habitual to her; and the children, though they
feared and never dared to dispute her authority, soon loved her with all
the pure, unselfish love of childhood, which cannot be bought. "Things
were not so and so when I was young," was a favorite remark of hers; and
as I one day remarked that "those must have been wonderful times when
old people were young," she smiled and said that "though not wonderful,
they were times when parents and teachers were much more strict with
children than they are now." I immediately experienced a strong desire
to be made acquainted with the circumstances of my grandmother's
childhood, and began hinting to that effect.

"Were they very strict with you, grandmother?" asked we mischievously.

She looked rather disconcerted for a moment, and then replied with a
smile: "Not very--I saw very little of my parents, being mostly left to
nurses and servants; but you all seem eager for information on that
point, and although there is absolutely nothing worth relating, you may
all come to my room this evening, and we will begin on the subject of my
younger days."

We swallowed tea rather hastily, and danced off in high glee to my
grandmother's apartment, ready for the unfolding of unheard-of
occurrences and mysteries.


We were all happily seated around the fire; the grate was piled up high
with coal, and threw a bright reflection upon the polished
marble--everything was ready to begin, when a most unfortunate question
of my sister Emma's interfered with our progress. She had settled
herself on a low stool at my grandmother's feet, and while we all sat in
silent expectation of the "once upon a time," or "when I was young,"
which is generally the prelude to similar narratives, Emma suddenly
started up, and fixing an incredulous gaze upon our dignified relative,
exclaimed: "But were you _ever_ young, grandmother? I mean," she
continued, a little frightened at her own temerity, "were you ever as
little as I am now?"

Some of us began to cough, others used their pocket-handkerchiefs, and
one and all waited in some anxiety for the effect. Emma, poor child!
seemed almost ready to sink through the floor under the many astonished
and reproving glances which she encountered; and my grandmother's
countenance at first betokened a gathering storm.

But in a few moments this cleared up; and ashamed of her momentary anger
at this childish question, she placed her hand kindly on Emma's head as
she replied: "Yes, Emma, quite as little as you are--and it is of those
very times that I am going to tell you. I shall not begin at the
beginning, but speak of whatever happens to enter my mind, and a
complete history of my childhood will probably furnish employment for a
great many evenings. But I am very much averse to interruptions, and if
you have any particular questions to ask, all inquiries must be made
before I commence."

"Were you born and did you live in America?" said I.

"Yes," replied my grandmother, "I was born and lived in America, in the
State of New York. So much for the locality--now, what next?"

"Did you ever see Washington?" inquired Bob, "And were you ever taken
prisoner and had your house burned by the British?"

Bob was a great patriot, and on Saturdays practised shooting in the
attic with a bow and arrow, to perfect himself against the time of his
attaining to man's estate, when he fully intended to collect an army and
make an invasion on England. As an earnest of his hostile intentions, he
had already broken all the windows on that floor, and nearly
extinguished the eye of Betty, the chambermaid. To both of these
questions my grandmother replied in the negative, for she happened to
come into the world just after the Revolution; but in answer to Bob's
look of disappointment, she promised to tell him something about it in
the course of her narrative.

"My two most prominent faults," said she, "were vanity and curiosity,
and these both led me into a great many scrapes, which I shall endeavor
to relate for your edification. I shall represent them just as they
really were, and if I do not make especial comments on each separate
piece of misconduct, it is because I leave you to judge for yourselves,
by placing them in their true light. I shall not tell you the year I was
born in," she continued, "for then there would be a counting on certain
little fingers to see how old grandmamma is now. When I was a child--a
_very_ young one--I used to say that I remembered very well the day on
which I was born, for mother was down stairs frying dough-nuts. This
nondescript kind of cake was then much more fashionable for the
tea-table than it is at the present day. My mother was quite famous for
her skill in manufacturing them, and my great delight was to superintend
her operations, and be rewarded for good behavior with a limited
quantity of dough, which I manufactured into certain uncouth images,
called 'dough-nut babies.' Sometimes these beloved creations of genius
performed rather curious gymnastics on being placed in the boiling
grease--such as twisting on one side, throwing a limb entirely over
their heads, &c.; while not unfrequently a leg or an arm was found
missing when boiled to the requisite degree of hardness. But sometimes,
oh, sad to relate! my fingers committed such unheard-of depredations in
the large bowl or tray appropriated by my mother, that I was sentenced
to be tied in a high chair drawn close to her side, whence I could
quietly watch her proceedings without being able to assist her.

I know that our home was situated in a pleasant village which has long
since disappeared in the flourishing city; the house was of white brick,
three stories high, with rooms on each side of the front entrance. A
large and beautiful flower-garden was visible from the back windows; and
beyond this was a still larger fruit-garden, the gate of which was
generally locked, while a formidable row of nails with the points up,
repelled all attempts at climbing over the fence. The peaches, and
plums, apricots, nectarines, grapes, cherries, and apples were such as I
have seldom, if ever, seen since. My lather was wealthy, and my earliest
recollections are connected with large, handsomely-furnished rooms,
numerous servants, massive plate, and a constant succession of
dinner-parties and visitors. How often have I watched the servants as
they filled the decanters, rubbed the silver, and made other
preparations for company, while I drew comparisons between the lot of
the favored beings for whom these preparations were made, and my own, on
being condemned to the unvarying routine of the nursery. Childhood then
appeared to me a kind of penance which we were doomed to undergo--a sort
of imprisonment or chrysalis, which, like the butterfly, left us in a
fairy-like and beautiful existence. Little did I then dream of the
cares, and toils, and troubles from which that happy season is exempt.
My father realized in his own person, to the fullest extent, all the
traditionary legends of old English hospitality; he hated everything
like parsimony--delighted to see his table surrounded with visitors--and
in this was indulged to the extent of his wishes; for day after day
seemed to pass in our being put out of sight, where we could witness the
preparations going on for other people's entertainment.

The presiding goddess in our region of the house was a faithful and
attached old nurse, whom we all called 'Mammy.' Although sometimes a
little sharp, as was necessary to keep such wild spirits in order, the
old nurse was invariably kind, and even indulgent. It was well indeed
for us that she was so, for we were left almost entirely to her
direction, and saw very little of any one else. Mammy's everyday attire
consisted of a calico short-gown, with large figures, and a stuff
petticoat, with a cap whose huge ruffles stood up in all directions;
made after a pattern which I have never since beheld, and in which the
crown formed the principal feature. But this economical dress was not
for want of means; for Mammy's wardrobe boasted several silk gowns, and
visitors seldom stayed at the house without making her a present. On
great occasions, she approached our beau-ideal of an empress, by
appearing in a black silk dress lace collar, and gold repeater at her
side. This particular dress Mammy valued more highly than any of the
others, for my father had brought it to her, as a present, from Italy,
and the pleasant consciousness of being recollected in this manner by
her master was highly gratifying to the old nurse.

I was an only daughter, with several wild brothers, and I often thought
that Mammy displayed most unjust partiality. For instance, there was
Fred who never did anything right--upset his breakfast, dinner, and
tea--several times set the clothes-horse, containing the nursery
wardrobe, in a blaze--was forever getting lost, and, when sought for,
often found dangling from a three-story window, hanging on by two
fingers, and even one--who would scarcely have weighed a person's life
in the scale with a successful joke--and always had a finger, foot, or
eye bound up as the result of his hair-brained adventures. I really
believe that Mammy bestowed all a mother's affection on this wild,
reckless boy; he seldom missed an opportunity of being impertinent, and
yet Mammy invariably said that 'Fred had a saucy tongue, but a good
heart.' This _good-heartedness_ probably consisted in drowning kittens,
worrying dogs, and throwing stones at every bird he saw. Fred always had
the warmest seat, the most thickly-buttered bread and the largest piece
of pie. I remember one day on watching Mammy cut the pie, I observed, as
usual, that she reserved the largest piece.

"Who is that for?" I enquired, although perfectly aware of its intended

"O, no one in particular," replied Mammy.

"Well then" said I, "I believe I'll take it."

"There! there!" exclaimed Mammy, pointing her finger at me, "See the
greedy girl! Now you shall not have it, just for asking for it." The
disputed piece was immediately deposited on Fred's plate; and from that
day forth I gave up all hopes of the largest piece of pie.

O, that Fred was an imp! There was nothing in the shape of mischief,
which he would not do. If left to amuse the baby, he often amused
himself by tying a string to its toe, and every now and then giving it a
sudden pull. The child would cry, of course, and, on the approach of any
one, Master Fred sat looking as demure as possible, while trying to keep
his little brother quiet. The string would then be twitched again for
his own private edification; and it was sometime before the trick was
discovered. My brother Henry had at one time several little chickens, of
which he became very fond. Day after day he fed, admired, and caressed
them; and Fred, who never could bear to see others happy long, began to
revolve in his own mind certain plans respecting the chickens. One by
one they disappeared, until the number decreased alarmingly; but no
traces of them could be found. We were questioned, but, as all denied
the charge, the culprit remained undiscovered, although strong
suspicions rested on Fred. At last the indignant owner came upon him one
day, as he stood quietly watching the struggles of two little chickens
in a tub of water. Henry bitterly exclaimed against this cruelty, but
Fred innocently replied that "he had no hand in the matter; he had
thought, for some time, how much prettier they would look swimming like
ducks, and therefore tried to teach them--but the foolish things
persisted in walking along with their eyes shut, and so got drowned."

But one of Fred's grand _coup-d'oeils_ was the affair of the
cherry-pie. In those days ladies attended more to their household
affairs than they do at present; and my mother, an excellent
housekeeper, was celebrated for her pastry--cherry-pies in particular.
It was the Fourth of July; the boys were released from school, and
roaming about in quest of mischief as boys always are--and, as a rare
thing, we had no company that day, except my aunt, who had come from a
distance on a visit to my mother, while my father had gone to return one
of the numerous visits paid him. Cherry-pie was a standing dish at our
house with which to celebrate the Declaration of Independence. The
servants had all gone out for a holiday, no dinner was cooked, and the
sole dependence was on the cherry-pie.

They sat down to dinner, and I heard my mother say: "Now, sister Berthy,
I really hope you will enjoy this pie, for I bestowed extra pains upon
it, and placed it up in the bed-room pantry out of the boys' reach, who
are very apt to nibble off the edge of the crust. This time, I see, they
have not meddled with it."

The pie was cut; but alas! for the hollowness of human triumphs; the
knife met a wilderness of crust and vacancy, but no cherries. The
bed-room pantry had a window opening on a shed, and into that window
Fred, the scape-grace, had adroitly climbed, carefully lifted the upper
crust from the cherished pie, and abstracted all the cherries. My mother
locked him up, for punishment, but having unfortunately selected a sort
of store-room pantry, he made himself sick with sweetmeats, broke all
the jars he could lay hands on, and, finally, discovering a pair of
scissors, he worked at the lock, spoiled it, and let himself out.

At one time, being rather short of cash, he helped himself to a
five-dollar bill from my mother's drawer; but even _his_ conscience
scarcely resting under so heavy an embezzlement, he got it changed, took
half a dollar, and then put the rest back in the drawer. This
considerateness led to a discovery; they all knew that no one but Fred
would have been guilty of so foolish, and at the same time so dishonest
a thing.

My favorite brother was Henry; just three years older than myself,
manly, amiable, and intellectual in his tastes, he appeared to me
infinitely superior to any one I had ever seen; and we two were almost
inseparable. In winter he always carried me to school on his sled, saw
that Fred did not rob me of my dinner, and was always ready to explain a
difficult lesson. He was an extremely enterprising boy, with an
inexhaustible fund of ingenuity and invention; but, like most geniuses,
received more blame than praise. When quite small he constructed a sort
of gun made of wood, which would discharge a small ball of paper,
pebble, &c. This became a very popular plaything in the nursery, and for
once the inventor received due praise, on account of its keeping the
children so quiet. But one day Fred undertook to teach the year old baby
the art of shooting with it; and with a small corn for a bullet, he
placed the toy in the child's hands, turning the mouth the wrong way.
The young soldier pulled the trigger in delight, and by some strange
mischance, the corn flew up his nose. The doctor was hastily brought,
the child relieved with a great deal of difficulty, the dangerous
plaything burned, and poor Henry sent to coventry for an unlimited time.


We had a girl named Jane Davis whom my mother had brought up from
childhood. At the period to which I refer, she could not have been more
than fourteen, and as she was always good-humored and willing to oblige,
she became a general favorite. Often, in the early winter evenings, with
the nursery as tidy as hands could make it, (for Mammy, although not an
old maid, was a mortal enemy to dirt and slovenliness) we all gathered
round the fire, while the old nurse and Jane spun out long stories,
sometimes of things which had happened to them, sometimes of things
which had happened to others, and often of things that never did or
could happen to anybody. But I must do them the justice to say, that
although they sometimes related almost impossible occurrencies, they
never, on any one occasion, took advantage of their influence over us to
enforce our obedience by frighful tales of old men with bags, who seem
to have an especial fancy for naughty children. The nearest approach
that Mammy ever made to anything of this kind was to tell us, when we
began to look sleepy, that the sandman had been along and filled our
eyes. On receiving this information, we generally retired peaceably to
bed, without being haunted by any fears of ghost or goblin.

There was a wealthy and fashionable family who lived just opposite,
consisting of a widower, his sister, and two children--a son and
daughter. They lived in most extravagant style, and Jane positively
assured us that the housekeeper had told her with her own lips that
there was no end to Mr. Okeman's wealth, and that he even made his
daughter eat bank-bills on her bread and butter! Whether the son was
exempted from this disagreeable performance we never thought of
inquiring; but our awe rose ten percent, for a girl who was so rich as
absolutely to devour money. On being divulged, this grand secret amused
the inmates of the drawing-room very much, and our parents could
scarcely command their countenances to undeceive us.

Jane Davis remained with us as nursery-maid until she was eighteen, when
my mother, who was always extremely kind to servants and dependants,
placed her at a trade, and supported her comfortably until she learned
enough to support herself. She afterwards married a carpenter, who
always performed for my father those odd jobs that are constantly
required in a house, and they came to live in a kind of cottage at the
end of the garden. They there commenced farming on a small scale, and
often supplied us with milk, eggs, poultry, &c.

Mammy was a firm believer in signs of good and evil import; thus, if, in
dropping the scissors, they stood up erect on the point, she always said
that visitors were coming--a sign that rarely failed, as we were seldom
a day without them. Once I had wished very much for a large wax-doll. My
dreams were beautified with waxen images of immense size, whose china
blue eyes, long flaxen curls, and rosy cheeks, presented a combination
of charms that took my heart by storm. I sat one night, as usual, by the
nursery fire; my thoughts fixed on this all-engrossing subject, when I
ventured to communicate them to Mammy, and ask her if she thought I ever
would become the enviable possessor of such a doll.

"I don't know," replied Mammy at first, "I think it's very doubtful. But
come here," she added, "and let me see your hand."

After an examination, Mammy pronounced with an air of great mystery that
circumstances were propitious, and she was almost convinced beyond a
doubt that ere long the doll would be mine. She then pointed out to me a
small white spot on my left thumb nail, which she said always denoted a
present. I was rather incredulous at first, not conceiving that so
brilliant a dream could be realized; but after a while the doll actually
made its appearance, and I began to regard Mammy as something little
short of a witch, and became far more tractable in consequence of my
increased awe.

Jane's stories, as well as Mammy's always began with "Once upon a time
there were two sisters;" one was represented as plain-looking, but
amiable--the other beautiful, but a very Zantippe in temper. By some
wonderful combination of circumstances, the elder lost her beauty and
ugliness at the same time--when some good fairy always came along, who,
by a magic touch of her wand, made both the sisters far more lovely than
the elder had been. Beauty was always the burden of the tale; people who
were not beautiful met with no adventures, and seemed to lead a hum-drum
sort of life; therefore, I insensibly learned to regard this wonderful
possession as something very much to be desired. I believe I was quite a
pretty child, with dark bright eyes, red lips, and a pair of very rosy
cheeks. I spent considerable time before the glass, and both Mammy and
Jane began to fear the effects of vanity. Often and often would the old
nurse say: "You needn't stand before the glass, Miss Amy--there is
nothing to look at," or when in a bad humor, "Don't make such faces,
child--you have no beauty to spare," and I can very well remember how
both would endeavor to persuade me that I was the most veritable little
fright that ever existed, and quite a bugbear to my relations.

"What a pity," Jane would commence, as she saw me surveying myself with
an air of infinite satisfaction, "what a pity it is that Miss Amy has
such a dark, ugly skin--almost like an Indian, isn't it, nurse?"

I had eyes to judge for myself, and knew that I was much fairer than
either Mammy or Jane; and somebody had remarked in my presence: "What a
lovely neck and shoulders!" therefore I generally remained perfectly
quiet while listening to these inuendoes.

"Yes," Mammy would reply, "a very great pity--but an amiable temper,
Miss Amy, is more than looks; you must try and cultivate that, to make
up for your want of beauty."

"And then," continued Jane, "only see how perfectly straight her hair
is! not a sign of curl, nor even a twist!--and black eyes have such a
wicked kind of a look; they always remind me of cannibals."

Jane's eyes were as blue and bright as glass beads, while Mammy's, I
thought, approached a green, but with my own I felt perfectly satisfied;
for a lady had remarked in my presence what beautiful eyes I
had--adding that "dark eyes were so much more expressive than blue; blue
ones were so very insipid looking." The observation about my hair,
though, was only too correct, and touched me most sensibly. While most
of the other children possessed those soft, flowing curls, so beautiful
in childhood, mine obstinately refused to wave; and was, to use Jane's
expression, "as straight and as stiff as a poker." I had endeavored to
remedy this as far as lay in my power, and one day set my hair in a
blaze, while curling it with a very hot pipe-stem. I was, in
consequence, deemed one of the most abandoned of the nursery inmates;
and found myself minus at least one half of the hair I had hitherto

I really believe that both Jane and Mammy sincerely hoped to eradicate
my besetting sin, by such blunt remarks as the former; but no course
could have been less wise than the one which they took. I knew very well
that I was neither a fright, an Indian, nor a cannibal; and the pains
which they took to convince me to the contrary led me to give myself
credit for much more beauty than I really possessed. I also regarded
amiability as a virtue of very small account; and supposed that those
who practised it, only did so because they possessed neither beauty,
grace, nor anything else to recommend them.

A great source of annoyance to me was my dress. As I was an only
daughter, some mothers, with the same means, would have enhanced my
attractions with all the aid of ornament, and established me as a
permanent divinity of the drawing-room, whom all must bow to and flatter
as they entered its precincts. But, although fond of display, and
surrounded with all the appliances of wealth, the taste of my parents
never did run much on dress; and I often felt mortified at my
inferiority to others in this respect. Such articles were then much
dearer, and more in vogue than at the present day, and a blue Circassian
formed my entire stock of gala dresses, and went the rounds of all the
children's parties I attended; my mother seemed to think, (with respect
to me, at least,) that as long as a dress was clean and in good repair,
there was no need of a change--she left nothing to the pleasure of
variety. There appeared to be an inexhaustible store of the same
material in a certain capacious drawer; did an elbow give out, a new
sleeve instantly supplied its place--did I happen to realize the ancient
saying: "There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip," and make my
lap the recipient of some of the goodies provided for us at our
entertainments, the soiled front breadth disappeared, and was replaced
by another, fresh and new--did the waist grow short, it was made over
again--there verily seemed to be no end to the dress; I came to the
conclusion that blue Circassian was the most ugly material ever
invented, and often found myself calculating how many yards there might
be left.

My school hats always looked the worse for wear, and my Sunday ones were
not much better; but once my mother took me to the city, and bought me,
for school, a far handsomer hat than I had hitherto worn for best, and a
still better one for great occasions. Here I, who scarcely ever looked
decent about the upper story, actually had two new hats at once! The
best one, I remember, was a round gipsy flat, then altogether the
fashion; and the first Sunday I put it on I made a perfect fool of
myself by twisting my hair in strings, intended to pass for natural
ringlets, and allowing said strings to hang all around beneath the brim
of my hat. Mamma was sick and confined to her room, and I managed to
appear at church with this ridiculous head-gear. People certainly stared
a little, but this my vanity easily converted into looks of admiration
directed towards my new hat, and perhaps also my improved beauty--and
came home more full of self-complacency than ever.

I have before mentioned that beyond the house there was a large
fruit-garden, respecting which, my father's orders were especially
strict. He expressly forbade our touching any of the fruit unless he
gave us permission; and nothing made him more angry than to have any
gathered before it was quite ripe. It certainly requires a child whose
principle of honesty is a very strong one, to pass every day in full
view of an endless bed of ripening strawberries, whose uncommon size and
luscious hue offered so many temptations. But bad as I was, I think I
was generally pretty honest, and resisted the temptation to the best of
my ability.


I think I was about five years old, when one bright May morning my
brother Henry received especial instructions to be careful of me, and
see that I fell into no mischief on the occasion of my first day at
school. The luncheon-basket was packed with twice the usual quantity of
sandwiches, into which Mammy slyly tucked a small paper of sweet things
as a sort of comforter, with repeated injunctions to Henry not to make a
mistake and confiscate them for his own private use. A superfluous
caution--for Henry was the most generous little fellow that ever lived;
and was far more likely to fall short himself than that others should
suffer through him. Both Jane and Mammy kissed me repeatedly. I had on a
new dress of light, spotted calico, and a straw hat, with a green
ribbon, and a deep green silk cape--underneath the binding of my apron a
small handkerchief had been carefully pinned--a small blue-covered book,
and a slate with a long, sharp-pointed pencil tied on with a red cord,
were placed in my hands; and from these ominous preparations, and the
uncommon kindness of every one around, I concluded that I was at last to
meet with some adventure--perhaps to suffer martyrdom of some kind or

Poor Jane! My great passion was for beads, and when she perceived, from
various indications, that I was not exactly pleased with the change, she
ran up stairs, hastily loosened a whole string from a cherished
necklace, and returning quickly, slipped them into my hand. My mother
also came into the nursery to see that I was perfectly neat, kissed me
affectionately as she whispered to me to be a good girl and learn to
read, and with a strange, undefined sensation at my heart, I found
myself in the street with my hand fast locked in that of Henry. It was
that lovely season of the year when the fruit-trees are all in bloom;
and the sweet, flower-laden breeze, the busy hum of human life that rose
around, and the bounding, restless spirit of childhood, made me shrink
from the bondage I was about to enter.

The school-house was a very pretty cottage with a trellised front of
bean-vines and honeysuckle; and when I entered I found, to my great
surprise, that Miss Sewell, the teacher, looked very much like other
people. There were two moderate-sized rooms, opening into each other, in
one of which Mr. Sewell superintended several desks of unruly boys--in
the other, his daughter directed the studies of about twenty little
girls. There were some large girls seated at the desks, who appeared to
me so very antiquated that I was almost afraid to hazard an idea
respecting their ages; and had I been asked how old they were, should
probably have replied 'at least fifty;' although I do not now suppose
the eldest was more than fourteen.

Rather stunned by the buzz and noise of the classes reciting, and very
much puzzled as to my own probable destiny, I began to climb the hill
of knowledge. I said my letters; and Miss Sewell, having found that I
knew them pretty well, (thanks to Mammy's patient teaching), allowed me
to spell in _a-b, ab_, and _b-a, ba_, and set me some straight marks on
my slate. I met with nothing remarkable during my first day at school;
and on my return informed Mammy, as the result of my studies, that two
and one make four. Nor could I be persuaded to the contrary; for,
although I had been taught by the old nurse to count as far as ten, on
being examined by Miss Sewell, either bashfulness or obstinacy prevented
me from displaying the extent of my knowledge--and, while endeavoring to
explain to me how many one and one make, she had said: "There is one, to
begin with; well now, one more makes two," therefore as one made two in
this case, I supposed it did in every other.

I learned to love the mild countenance of Miss Sewell, with her plain
dark hair and soft eyes, and was never happier then when she was invited
to tea; for then I was emancipated from the nursery and placed beside
her at table. I dearly loved to take her fruit and flowers; and white
lilies, roses, honey-suckles, and the most admired productions of our
garden were daily laid on Miss Sewell's table. For rewards we had a
great many wide, bright-colored ribbons, which were tied upon our arms,
that every one might see them as we went home; and she who could boast a
variety of ribbons was known to have been perfect in all her lessons.
Those who had fallen into disgrace were distinguished by a broad band
passed around the head, on the front of which was written in large
characters the name of the misdemeanor.

One morning I had been rather negligent, and, having my suspicions as to
the consequence, told Mammy of my fears, and my dread of the disgrace.
The old nurse's anger even exceeded mine; she declared that her child
should not be treated so, and advised me to snatch it off and tear it to
pieces. I went to school, not having exactly made up my mind whether to
follow this advice or not; but my afternoon lessons fully made up for
the deficiency of the morning, and I escaped the dreaded punishment. I
had gone with several companions to the closet in which we deposited
our hats and shawls, and while engaged in the process of robing, I heard
a very loud voice talking in great excitement, and one which I
immediately recognised. I overheard Mammy exclaiming: "Where is my
child? Has she got that horrid thing on her head? I want to take it off
before she goes home."

Blushing with mortification, as I noticed the tittering of the
school-girls, called forth by the loud tone and strange figure of the
old nurse, who had rushed into the room in her usual attire of
short-gown and petticoat, I came hastily forward, and was immediately
seized by Mammy, who exclaimed in surprise: "Why, I though you said you
were going to have that thing on your head! I was determined that no
child of mine should wear it, so I came after you to take it off."

Mammy was one of the most independent persons I ever saw; she cared for
no one's frown, and poured forth the whole love of her warm Irish heart
upon us--tormenting and troublesome as we were. Sometimes she sung to us
of "Acushla machree" and "Mavourneen," and Mammy's Irish songs were
especial favorites with the young fry of the nursery. When we were
particularly obstreperous, she threatened to go away and leave us, and
never come back again; a threat which always produced copious showers of
tears, and promises of better behavior. Often have I watched her in
dismay as she dressed herself to go out--fearful that she would really
put her threat in execution, especially as conscience whispered that I
deserved it. At such times, nothing pacified me except the deposit of
her spectacles; when once the case was lodged in my possession, I felt
sure of Mammy--knowing that she could not stay long without them.
Sometimes she would tell us of her life in Ireland; but no act did she
more bitterly deplore than her marriage; complaining that the object of
her choice was far from what he appeared to be when she married him--and
further observing that as he turned out a very bad speculation, and
never gave her anything but a thimble, she wisely left him to his own
society, and emigrated to America.

Mammy very often kept the key of the fruit-garden; and as she never
yielded it to our entreaties, the ever-ready Fred formed a conspiracy
one Sunday afternoon, in which, I am sorry to say, I took a very
conspicuous part--the object of which was to purloin the key, and enjoy
at last this long-coveted, forbidden pleasure. Fred actually succeeded
in abstracting it from Mammy's capacious pocket, and in high glee we
proceeded to the garden. It was in the time of peaches; there hung the
lucious fruit in such profusion, that the trees were almost borne down
by its weight. We ate till we could eat no longer; and then, happening
to see two or three men passing along, we threw some over the fence to
them. They, in return, threw us some pennies; and, delighted with the
success of our frolic, we continued to throw and receive, until startled
by a most unwelcome apparition. There, at the foot of the tree, stood
Mammy--her face expressing the utmost astonishment and indignation, and
her hands extended to seize us. She had watched our manoeuvres from one
of the windows, and astonishment at our boldness and ingenuity kept her
for sometime a silent spectator. But Mammy was not apt to be _silent_
long while witnessing our misdeeds; and in an incredible short space of
time she gained the use of both her feet and her tongue. Our companions
caught a glimpse of flying drapery rapidly advancing, and rather
suddenly made their retreat; while we, now trembling, detected culprits,
took up a line of march for the house.

Not so, Fred; defying Mammy to capture him, and laughing at her dismay,
he started off on a run, and she after him in full pursuit. We watched
the chase from the nursery-window; and as Fred was none of the thinnest,
and Mammy somewhat resembled a meal-bag with a string tied round the
middle, it proved to be quite exciting. But it was brought to an
untimely end by the apparition of a pair of spectacles over the fence;
said spectacles being the undisputed property of a middle-aged
gentleman--a bachelor, who, we suspected, always stayed home from church
on Sunday afternoons to keep the neighbors in order. With
horror-stricken eyes he had beheld only the latter part of the scene,
and conceiving the old nurse to be as bad as her rebellious charge, he
called out from his garden, which communicated with ours:

"My good woman, do you know that this is Sunday?--Depend upon it, a
person of your years would feel much better to be quietly reading in
your own apartment, than racing about the garden in this unseemly

Poor Mammy! she was well aware of this before; flushed, heated, and
almost overcome with fatigue, she looked the very picture of
uncomfortableness; and this last aggravation increased the feeling to a
tenfold degree. At that moment, Fred, unconsciously, stumbled into her
very arms; she looked up--the spectacles had disappeared--and convinced
of this fact, she bore him in triumph to the nursery.

We had all expected personal chastisement, at the very least, but we
were thrown into a greater degree of horror and dismay than could well
be conceived; Mammy placed her spectacles in her pocket, collected her
valuables, and put on her hat and things, to take passage for Ireland.
We hung about her in every attitude of entreaty--acknowledged our
misdemeanors, promised amendment, and an entire confession of all the
sins we had ever perpetrated. I do think we must have remained upon our
knees at least half an hour; never had Mammy seemed so hard-hearted
before, and we began to think that she might be in earnest after all. We
begged her to whip us--lock us up--anything but leave us; and at last
she relented. She told us that she considered us the most abandoned
children that ever were born; and wished that she had two additional
eyes at the back of her head to watch our movements. We promised to
spend the afternoon in learning hymns and verses; and Mammy, having
taken her position in the large easy-chair, with a footstool at her
feet, tied Fred to one of the legs, as he sat on a low bench at her
side, and made us all study. We succeeded pretty well; although
considerably terrified at the sharp looks which Mammy from time to time
bestowed upon us.

In the evening came the promised confession; and both Mammy and Jane
were rendered almost dumb by these dreadful instances of depravity. Such
secret and unsuspected visits to the store-room pantry--such
conspiracies against locks and bolts--such scaling of walls, and
climbing in at windows, were never heard of before. I rather suspected
Fred to have drawn upon his imagination for instances of the marvellous,
for such adventures as he related never could have been met with; but
Mammy and Jane believed it all. At the conclusion, the old nurse seemed
very much disposed to punish us at once for all these united
misdemeanors--and was only prevented by our remonstrating upon the plea
of a voluntary confession.

That night I lay awake, pretending to sleep, and heard Mammy and her
satellite discussing our conduct in all its enormity. Considerably
influenced by their unaffected horror and astonishment, the thought for
the first time rushed upon my mind, that perhaps I might be much worse
than other people. It troubled me considerably; I found it impossible to
sleep, and following a good impulse, I crept softly out of bed, and
falling on my knees before Mammy, whispered to her to pray for me. There
must have been a very different expression on my countenance from its
usual one; for I afterwards heard the old nurse tell Jane that I
reminded her of an angel. I felt utterly miserable; and sobbing
convulsively, I begged Mammy to pray, not that I might have a new heart,
but that I might live a great while. I had begun to fear speedy
punishment for my misdemeanors. The old nurse, (although a really pious
woman), seemed quite at a loss how to proceed; and Jane, coming forward,
took me kindly by the hand, and reasoned with me on my conduct with all
the wisdom of riper years and a higher education. After convincing me
that I should ask, not for an increased number of years, but for a new
heart and temper, she knelt down with me and repeated the Lord's prayer.

The scene is indelibly impressed upon my memory; for although I have
since witnessed scenes containing more stage effect, and quite as
melting, I never in my life remember to have been so affected as, with
Jane's arm around me, and the light of the nursery-lamp shining upon our
kneeling figures, I distinctly heard Mammy's sobs, as she repeated each
word with a peculiar intonation of reverence. I felt a respect for the
young girl ever afterwards; and as I clasped my arms about her neck and
pressed a warm kiss on her cheek, as I bade her good-night, the tone of
my voice must have been unusually tender--for I saw tears come into her
eyes as she asked Mammy if she was not afraid, from my flushed cheeks,
that I had some fever. Although petulant, and even violent when roused,
I had a warm, loving heart, capable of the most unbounded affection; and
from that time forth Jane and I never had a single dispute. She had
appeared to me in a new light on that Sabbath eve; and with my hand
locked in hers, I fell into a sweet, dreamy sleep.


One of my great troubles, and one too which I regarded in a pretty
serious light, was the obeisance I had been taught to make on meeting
"the minister's wife." I never came within view of this formidable
personage that I did not hesitate and tremble; while I looked wildly
around, in the vain hope of discovering a place of refuge. After
performing my awkward courtesy, I usually hastened on as fast as
possible, being oppressed with a most uncomfortable sensation of awe in
the presence of Mrs. Eylton. This was occasioned by the quiet observance
which I, like other children, took of the conduct of those around me.
Everything in the house seemed to be at her command; if Mrs. Eylton sent
for a thing she must have it immediately; and I drew my conclusions
that "the minister's wife" was a sort of petty sovereign, placed over
the town or village in which she resided, and that all we possessed was
held under her.

Almost every day brought a request from Mrs. Eylton for the loan of some
article in our possession; a repetition of which would naturally lead
one to conclude that ministers merely procured a house, and then
depended for everything else on the charity of the public. This
borrowing mania appeared to gather strength from indulgence, for none of
the neighbors would refuse, whatever the article might be; and our
waffle-iron, toasting-fork, Dutch-oven, bake-pan, and rolling-pin were
frequently from home on visits of a week's duration. On sending for our
muffin-rings or cake-pans, we often received a message to be expeditious
in our manufactures; that Mrs. Eylton could spare them for a day or so,
"but wanted to use them again very shortly." Our parents would buy such
conveniences, send them to the kitchen of Mrs. Eylton, and borrow them
from time to time, if in perfect accordance with that lady's
convenience. She would even borrow her neighbor's servants, and often at
very inconvenient times. Jane had often been sent for to take care of
the children; and the usual request came one afternoon that seemed to me
stamped with most remarkable events.

We were in a kind of sitting-room on the ground-floor, and my father sat
writing at a small table near the window. A servant entered with the
announcement: "Mrs. Eylton, ma'am, wants to borrow Jane."

An expression of vexation crossed my mother's countenance as she
remarked: "I do not know how I can possibly spare Jane this afternoon;
Mammy has gone out, and I do not feel inclined to attend to the children

My father looked up from his writing as he observed: "Nor do I see the
necessity of your being troubled with them, Laura."

"Not see the necessity!" exclaimed my mother, "How can I refuse the wife
of our minister? I would be willing to put up with some inconvenience
for Mr. Eylton's sake. Poor man! he has a hard time of it, with his
talents and refinement."

"No doubt he has," said my father, pityingly; then, in a more merry
tone, he added: "But can you think of no other alternative, Laura, than
disobliging Mrs. Eylton, if you object to this juvenile infliction for a
whole long summer's afternoon?"

My father was of a bolder, more determined character than my mother, and
had, withal, a spice of fun in his composition; and the expression of
his eyes now rendered her apprehensive of some sudden scheme that might
create a feeling of justifiable anger in Mrs. Eylton.

"Dearest Arthur!" she exclaimed beseechingly, as she placed a soft hand
on his shoulder, "Do not, I beseech of you, put in execution any
outlandish plan respecting Mrs. Eylton!--Do let Jane go as usual; for
she is not one to understand a joke, I can assure you--she will be
offended by it."

"And pray, madam," asked my father, with assumed gravity, "what has led
you to suppose that I intended making Mrs. Eylton the subject of a
joke? Away with you," he continued, with a mischievous look at those
pleading eyes, "Away with you, and let me do as I choose."

Turning to the servant, he asked: "Mrs. Eylton has, I believe, requested
the loan of other articles besides our domestics--has she ever sent to
borrow any of the children?"

"Indeed, and she has not, sir," replied the girl, with difficulty
repressing a laugh.

"Well then," said he, "we will now send her both the article she
requested, and some articles which she did not request. Tell Jane to be
ready to go to Mrs. Eylton's with the children."

"Yes sir," and the servant departed to execute her commission.

"Arthur!" remonstrated my mother.

"Not a word!" said my father gaily. "Children," he continued, "do you
wish to go? What says my madcap, Amy?"

Madcap Amy, for once in her life, said nothing--being too much awed and
astonished to reply. To think that I should actually enter the house,
and be face to face with the formidable Mrs. Eylton? The idea was
appalling; and for sometime I sat biting my nails in thoughful silence.
It was so sudden, it had always appeared to me that a great deal must be
gone through with--a great many different degrees of intimacy
surmounted, before I should ever find myself within the house of Mrs.
Eylton; but here was I, without the least warning, to be transformed
from the bashful child, who made no sign of recognition save an awkward
courtesy, into the regular visitor--and for a whole afternoon! No wonder
I took so long to deliberate. Though not particularly remarkable for
bashfulness or timidity at home, and despite a character for violence
in, "fighting my own battles," to assert some infringed right, I
absolutely trembled at the idea of encountering strangers; and this
visit to Mrs. Eylton's appeared, to my excited mind, like thrusting
myself into the enemy's quarters.

But then curiosity rose up in all its powers, to baffle my fear; I did
_so_ want to see how the house looked inside, and whether they really
had anything that was not borrowed! And then who knows, thought I, but
what Mrs. Eylton will show me the inside of some of her drawers? I dare
say she has a great many pretty things. There was nothing which gave me
greater delight than looking into other people's drawers, and turning
over those remnants of various things which are stored away in most
houses--in many for the mere love of hoarding. Mamma would sometimes
allow me to arrange certain little drawers containing jewelry, ribbons,
and odds and ends. But the charmed room in our house was one that was
always kept locked, and, from the circumstance of a green ribbon being
attached to the key, we called it "the green-ribbon room."

Dear me! what a collection that room contained. There were several large
trunks that nearly covered the floor, besides boxes, and bags, and
bundles; and these were filled with cast-off clothes, silks, ribbons,
and bunches of artificial flowers and feathers. The room was not very
often opened; it was at the very top of the house, and lighted by a
large dormar-window; but as soon as mamma mounted the stairs, with the
key in her hand, the alarm was given: "Quick! mother is going to the
green-ribbon room!" and mamma's ears were immediately refreshed by the
sound of numerous little feet moving up stairs at locomotive speed, with
the ostensible purpose of assisting her in her researches--but in
reality, to be getting in her way, and begging for everything we saw. It
was, "Mamma, mayn't we have this?" or, "mayn't we have that?" or "Do say
yes, just this once; and we'll never ask you for anything again as long
as we live--never," a promise faithfully kept till next time.

Mamma sometimes tried to go up very softly, in order to elude our
vigilance; but it wouldn't do. She often wondered how we found out that
that she was there, but we seldom missed an opportunity. Now and then a
dear little pitcher, or a vase of cream-colored ground with a wreath of
faint pink roses traced around it, or a cluster of bright-colored
flowers in the centre, arrested our attention, and called forth
rhapsodies of admiration. I supposed that everybody had just such a
room; and it was very probable, I thought, that Mrs. Eylton might chance
to open hers during our visit. Therefore I decided that, notwithstanding
my terror of the lady, a greater amount of pleasure might be obtained
by going there, than by staying at home.

So Jane, with her own trim person as neat as possible, bore off her
charges to the nursery, in order, as she said, "to make us fit to be
seen." "Mrs. Eylton might see this," or "notice that," and I felt
uncomfortably convinced that Mrs. Eylton must possess the sharpest pair
of eyes it had ever been my misfortune to encounter. Finally, we set
off; I remember being dressed in a white frock, with a broad sash, and
experiencing a consciousness of looking remarkably well, in spite of my
hair--which, having obstinately repulsed all Jane's advances with tongs
and curl-papers, was suffered to remain in all its native straightness.

It was summer, and a multiflora rose-vine, which extended over the front
of the parsonage, was then in full flower; while, as we mounted the
steps, I distinguished through the green blind door glimpses of a
pleasant-looking garden beyond. We entered the back parlor, where sat
Mrs. Eylton attired for a walk, and surrounded by three children, all
younger than myself. The minister's lady did not appear quite so
formidable on a close survey; though the aspect of her countenance was
by no means promising, as her eye fell upon us.

"Well, Jane," she commenced, in the tone of one who felt herself
injured, "you have kept me waiting some time--how is this? Punctuality
is a virtue very becoming in a young person."

Jane looked exceedingly disconcerted at this address; but at length she
replied, that "she could not get the children ready before."

"_The children_!" repeated Mrs. Eylton; while, young as I was, I plainly
read in her countenance, "What possessed you to bring _them_ here?"

"Yes ma'am," replied Jane, gathering more courage as she proceeded,
"Mrs. Chesbury sent them with me to spend the afternoon. She had no one
to attend to them at home."

In the meantime I became aware, as I glanced around the room, that the
prospect for the afternoon promised very little amusement. Mrs. Eylton
soon after left us, telling Jane to be very careful that we got into no
mischief; and, with, a feeling of disappointment, I saw the door close
behind her. In my scenting of the apartment I became very much struck
with the appearance of a curious looking little work-stand, containing
three small drawers. Immediately my imagination was at work upon their
contents; and I determined, if possible, to satisfy my curiosity. Mrs.
Eylton had departed without making any provision for our amusement, and
I saw no reason why I should not examine the drawers--especially if I
handled things carefully, and put them all back again. Probably they
were in disorder, and then what a pleasant surprise it would be for Mrs.
Eylton to find them all neatly arranged on her return!

Jane now proposed walking in the garden; and to avoid suspicion, I
joined the party for the present. There were a great many flower-beds,
very prettily laid out; and at the end of a wide path stood a pleasant
little summer-house, half-buried in vines. We established ourselves
there, from whence we could view the whole garden; and with a pretence
of looking again at the flowers, I soon made my escape, and returned to
the house. A wide glass-door opened from the back room into the garden,
and carefully closing this, I approached the table and attempted to open
the drawers. I tried the first one,--it was locked; the second,--and met
with no better success. Almost in despair, I placed my hands on the
third, and that finally yielded to my efforts. I beheld heterogeneous
rows of pins, papers of needles, &c., and was about to shut it in
disappointment, when my glance fell on a small box. Small,
mysterious-looking boxes always possessed a talismanic attraction in my
eyes; and the next moment I was busily at work examining the contents.
The round lid lifted, I found my gaze irresistibly fascinated by a
child's face, with fair, curling hair, and azure eyes. But the great
beauty lay in its expression; that was so calm, holy, and serene, that I
felt insensibly better as I gazed upon it. It was a peculiar face; and I
became so wrapt in its contemplation as to lose all hearing of what
passed around, until a step sounded close beside me.

I looked up, and fairly trembled with terror and dismay. There stood
Mr. Eylton, gazing on me in surprise, as if quite at a loss what to make
of the circumstance; but as his eye fell upon the picture, I noticed
that an expression of sadness crossed his countenance. Not knowing what
to do with myself, and almost ready to sink through the floor with
shame, I stood with bowed head and burning cheeks, the very picture of
mortification. But there was no trace of anger in Mr. Eylton's tone, as,
kindly taking me by the hand, he drew me towards him and asked me my
name. I answered as well as I could; and still holding the picture,
remained in silent consternation. Mr. Eylton took it from my hand, and
sighed as he bent a deep, loving gaze upon the fair face.

Prompted by a sudden impulse, I raised my eyes to his, as I enquired:
"Can you tell me where that little girl is now? I should _so_ like to
see her!"

"In heaven, I trust," replied Mr. Eylton, while his voice slightly
faltered, and a tear stood in his eye. "She was my daughter, Amy--she
died some years ago, when very young."

I felt almost ready to cry myself, when told that she was dead, and
gazed lingeringly upon the portrait as Mr. Eylton closed the box; and
placing it in the drawer, he returned to me again.

"But, my dear child," said he suddenly, "Why did you open the drawer? Do
you not know that it was extremely improper?"

"I did _so_ want to see what was in it!" was my rejoinder.

Mr. Eylton seemed puzzled at first by this reply; but probably
perceiving that I had been too much left to myself, he proceeded to
explain, in clear and concise words, the nature and tendency of my
fault. "This curiosity, my dear child, is an improper state of feeling
which should not be indulged in. Suppose," continued he, "that on
looking into this drawer, you had perceived some article which you
immediately felt a great desire to possess; yielding to the temptation
of curiosity would thus lead to the sin of covetousness, and perhaps the
crime of theft might be also added. You would reason with yourself that
no one had seen you open the drawer, and forgetting the all-seeing Eye
which never slumbers, you might conclude that no one would know you took
the article which did not belong to you."

The prospect of becoming a thief struck me with horror; and resolving
never again to meddle with other people's things, I begged Mr. Eylton to
forgive me, and entreated him not to inform Mrs. Eylton of my
misdemeanor. He smiled at the anxiety I displayed not to have it known;
and then taking a bunch of keys from a box, he proceeded to gratify my
curiosity with respect to the other drawers. These amply repaid an
investigation; containing numerous toys and trinkets of foreign
manufacture, among which were two or three small alabaster images. One
represented a beautiful greyhound in a reclining position; there was an
Italian image of the Virgin and Child; and some others which I have
almost forgotten. I was allowed to examine all these things at my
leisure; and when I departed, it was with a firm conviction that Mr.
Eylton was far more agreeable than his wife.

Jane soon came in from the summer-house, after an unsuccessful search
for me through the garden, and was not a little surprised to find me
quietly established with Mr. Eylton. Towards sunset Mrs. Eylton
returned; and being graciously dismissed, we went home with the
impression that it had been altogether rather a curious visit. But the
afternoon dwelt in my memory like a golden gleam; and often I went over,
in imagination, that delightful investigation of Mrs. Eylton's drawers.


We were generally besieged with visitors of all descriptions and
characters. My parents had one or two poor relations who made long stays
at every visit; and being generous, even to a fault, they loaded them
with presents at their departure, and invitations to come again. There
was one old lady, in particular, who engaged my fancy; she came to see
us quite often, and in the family went by the name of "Aunty Patton."
Aunty Patton was a widow, with very slender means; and boarded with a
married daughter, who had a large family of children, but very little to
support them on. Poor Aunty! she fared rather poorly at home, and did
_so_ seem to enjoy everything. She was particularly fond of fruit-cake;
and whenever she came, mamma took particular pains that this should be
one of the appliances of the tea-table. She possessed many wealthy
acquaintances and relations, and enjoyed visiting around among them very
much; praising everything that was set before her, and never
contradicting any one. It teemed impossible to put anything on the table
which she did not like; everything was "good," and "delightful," and
"just what she would have fancied." At length some cousin determined to
test her patience; and on one occasion, when the old lady happened to
dine there, the dishes, when uncovered, were found to contain nothing
but supaun and potatoes.

"I am really sorry, Aunty Patton," began the hostess, "to be able to
offer you nothing better for dinner--but sometimes you know"--

"O," said Aunty, with rather a rueful look, "it'll _do_."

Poor Aunty had that very day prepared herself for something uncommonly
nice in the way of dinner, and felt a little disappointed; but cousin
Emma soon restored her equanimity by a liberal display of fruit-cake and
other nice things, which presented themselves on opening the side-board

Aunty Patton had mild, winning kind of manners, and became a general
favorite in the nursery; probably on account of her always noticing us,
and pronouncing us "lovely little creatures." She appeared to me the
most heavenly-minded old lady I had ever seen; and I listened, with a
species of awe, to the long stories which she loved so dearly to relate
about everybody whom she visited. She was very short--not seeming to me
much taller than myself--and the cumbrous dress of the period was
calculated to make her appear much shorter. She would sit and relate
wonderful occurrences which seemed constantly taking place in her
daughter's family; one of the children would cut his foot, and for
sometime there would be danger of amputation--another urchin would upset
a kettle of scalding water on himself, and then he would be laid up for
sometime, while mamma turned the green-ribbon room topsy-turvy in her
searches after old linen--and once the daughter fell down stairs, and
was taken up for dead. They seemed to be an unfortunate family--always
meeting with hair-breadth escapes. Aunty Patton's reticule was always
well filled with good things on every occasion of her departure; and
very often a collection of money was added to the stock.

Mamma sometimes endeavored to enlist our sympathies in benevolent
purposes. I remember, on one occasion, when I had been teasing sometime
for a new tortoise-shell comb to keep back my hair with, it suddenly
entered my head that it would be a well-disposed action to ask for some
money to give Aunty Patton.

"Are you willing, Amy, to deny yourself anything," asked mamma, after I
had made my request, "in order that I may give this money to Aunty
Patton? It is no benevolence in you to ask me to give away money, unless
you are willing to do without something in consequence. If I give Aunty
Patton the five dollars that your comb will cost, are you willing to do
without it?"

"Dear me," thought I, "being good is very expensive." I deliberated for
sometime, but finally answered, "No." My mother pressed the subject no
farther; but after a while I exclaimed with a comfortable feeling of
magnanimity; "Yes, dear mamma, you _may_ give Aunty Patton the five
dollars--and I'll get _papa_ to buy me the comb!"

Mammy was a great judge of character, and when she once made up her mind
not to like a person, it was very difficult to make her change her
sentiments. My father once brought in a travelling clergyman, who
represented himself as very devout and unfortunate; and we all made
great efforts to entertain him. He was travelling West, he said, and
endeavoring to collect on the road sufficient money to pay his expenses.
My father invited him to remain with us a month; and he seemed very much
to enjoy the good things so liberally showered upon him--contriving at
the same time to render himself so agreeable that he quite won our
hearts. Mammy alone remained proof against his insinuations; he paid
assiduous court to her, and did his best to remove this unfavorable
impression, but the old nurse remained immovable.

He once asked her for the key to the fruit-garden, when my parents were
both out; but Mammy stedfastly refused him. "She had orders," she said,
"not to let the key go out of her possession, and she didn't intend to
now." The wandering clergyman departed quite enraged; and reported
proceedings as soon as my father returned. He was very much displeased
at Mammy's obstinacy, and spoke quite warmly on the subject; but the old
nurse replied that "she didn't know but he might make off with half the
fruit in the garden--she didn't like the man's looks at any rate."

I had then in my possession a little morocco pocket-book, a treasured
article, which I valued above all my other worldly goods. Sometime
before Christmas, I had observed it in a a shop-window with passionate
admiration; and on my return home, I threw out various hints and
inuendoes--scarcely hoping that they would be attended to. They were,
however; for on examining my stocking on the eventful morning, the
long-coveted pocket-book was found sticking in the toe--and what was
still better, well supplied with contents. I was in ecstasy for
sometime after; but wishing to do something to signalize myself, I now
placed it in the hands of the Rev. Mr. Motley for safe keeping.

"Mark my words," said Mammy prophetically, "you'll never see a sign of
that pocket-book again."

Alas! her words were but too true; circumstances came to light not very
favorable to the character of our visitor; and that very night the Rev.
Mr. Motley secretly decamped--mentioning in a note left behind, that
unlooked-for events had hastened his departure. My little pocket-book
accompanied him, as he quite forgot to return it; and Mammy's triumph
was almost as provoking as the loss. She had, however, with
characteristic caution, abstracted whatever money it contained; and the
reflection that the reverend gentleman had not gained much, gave her
considerable pleasure. The lesson taught me not to trust strangers again
too readily, and my father imbibed somewhat of a prejudice against
travelling clergymen in distress. Rev. Mr. Motley was never again heard

We once had a visit from a Captain Vardell, an acquaintance of my
father's, who had married a Spanish woman. This Captain had spent much
of his time at sea; roving about from place to place, until at length he
settled down for some years in Spain. He had no relations in America,
and but little money, so that of course my father's house, the usual
refuge of the needy and distressed, was at once his destination. He
appeared to us an indolent, good-natured kind of a man, and his wife
resembled him in the former quality, though quite deficient in the
latter. She could not speak a word of English, and would scold and rail
at her husband in Spanish for hours together. We did not understand what
she said, but we knew, by the flashing of those great black eyes and her
animated gestures, that her words were not words of love. She was a
large woman, with straight, black hair, that seemed to be always hanging
about her face, and rather handsome features. She spent most of her time
in playing jackstraws with us, or else lounging on the sofa; muttering
in rapid succession the words of a small prayer-book, which Captain
Vardell told us she always carried about her, as it had been consecrated
and given to her by a Spanish priest. She appeared to us very much like
a great overgrown baby; manifesting the most childish delight on winning
a game, and equally angry when defeated. Once, when in extreme
good-humor, she shewed us how to make beads resembling coral, from a
certain paste which she manufactured; but we never could extract from
her the names of the materials, and were obliged to content ourselves
with making them under her direction.

Mrs. Vardell was so extremely lazy that she would never stoop to pick up
anything she had dropped. If her handkerchief or prayer-book fell to the
floor, she made motions for us to bring them to her; and when we
sometimes mischievously pretended not to understand these signs, she
would let the article remain until some one restored it to her. She
never seemed to experience the least emotion of gratitude, and received
all favors as a natural right. She was an extremely troublesome,
exacting visitor, and we were not at all sorry when the time of her
departure arrived.

My father had exerted himself on their behalf, and at the end of their
visit handed Captain Vardell a handsome sum of money, collected from
among his merchant friends and acquaintances. People were much more
liberal then than now, and the case of the Vardells did not fail to call
forth their sympathy and generosity. The Spanish lady made her adieus,
if so they could be called, with an easy indifference--apparently
considering her fellow-mortals as machines invented for her sole use and
benefit. Captain Vardell presented us children with a handsome
collection of shells, picked up on foreign shores during his numerous
voyages; and some of them were very rare and beautiful. Most of them had
a delicate pink tinge, like the outer leaves of a just-blown rose; and
we amused ourselves fur a long time by arranging them in a glass-case
which my father gave us for the purpose.

Among our visitors was an aunt of my mother's who lived in Waterford,
Connecticut; and being a widow, with quite a large farm to attend to,
her visits were never of long duration. I became very much attached to
her, for she often entertained us with long stories about the Revolution
and the aggressions of the British soldiers--about which you shall hear
when I come to tell you of the long visit I made there one summer. Aunt
Henshaw was very proud of her farm and farming operations; her cattle
and vegetables had several times won the prize at agricultural fairs,
and she boasted that her land produced more than any of her neighbors';
who, being men, were of course expected to be more accomplished in such
matters. She appeared to delight in giving away things, and seldom made
us a visit without bringing something of her own raising. These little
presents my father always repaid tenfold; and Aunt Henshaw departed
without a new gown or hat, or something to show when she got home. I
believe that we generally anticipated more pleasure from her visits than
from any of the numerous friends who often favored us with
their company.

But Aunt Henshaw, I must confess, won my heart less by her own
individual merits than a present she once made me, which actually
appeared to me like a windfall from the skies. I was always
inordinately fond of reading, and my predelictions for fairy tales
amounted to an actual passion. When Mammy and Jane's ingenuity had been
exhausted in framing instances of the marvellous for my special
gratification, I would often fold my hands before my face, to shut out
all actual scenes, and thus sit and dream of wonderful adventures with
fairies, witches, and enchanted princesses. I was always happier in a
reverie than in the company of others--my own ideals I could make as I
chose--the real I must take as I found it. Castle-building is a pleasant
but dangerous occupation; had I not been so much of an enthusiast, a
day-dreamer, it would have been better for my happiness.

But to return to Aunt Henshaw and her present. Some school-mate one day
told me of the varied wonders contained in the "Arabian Kights." My
imagination, always excitable, became worked up to a high pitch by tales
of diamond caverns, flying horses, and mysterious Baloons under ground.
If I went to sleep, it was to dream of gardens more beautiful than
Paradise itself--of cooling fountains springing up at every step--of
all sorts of impossible fruits growing just where you wanted them--and
lamps and songs that gratified every wish. At length I could bear these
tantalizing visions of unattainable pleasure no longer; I put on my
bonnet and determined to go the whole rounds of the village until I met
with some success. People wondered what ailed me that afternoon; I
bolted directly into a room--asked if they had the Arabian Nights--and,
on being answered in the negative, went out as expeditiously as I had
gone in, and tried another acquaintance. I was not easily daunted, and
took each one in succession, but all to no purpose; I returned home,
fairly sick with disappointment, and hope delayed.

The very next day Aunt Henshaw came down on a visit; and placing in my
hands an old-looking, leather-covered book, observed, "I happened to
come across this stowed away in an old chest, Amy, and knowing your
fondness for fairy tales, I have brought it for you to read."

I scarcely heard what she said; I had glanced at the book, and on
seeing "Arabian Nights" traced in large gilt letters, the ground seemed
swimming before me, and I could scarcely contain my senses. Seizing the
beloved book, I made my escape as quickly as possible; and mounting up
to the cupola, a tiny room with glass sides, that commanded a view of
the country round, I effectually secured myself against interruption,
and soon became fascinated out of all remembrance. The day waned into
evening--the shadows deepened around--I remember fixing my eyes on a
brilliant star that seemed to come closer and closer, until it assumed a
strangely beautiful form, and I lost all consciousness.

In the meantime a strict search for me had been going on below. They
began to be alarmed at my continued absence; and after examining every
room, the garden, and every spot on the premises, they sent around the
neighborhood. I was known to be extremely fond of visiting, and every
acquaintance was interrogated in turn--of course, without success. No
one had thought of the cupola, and mamma was getting fairly frightened;
when Mammy took a light, and on ascending to my dormitory, discovered me
fast asleep, with the book tightly clasped to my bosom.

It afterwards yielded the boys as much delight as it had me; Fred, in
particular, had a notion of trying experiments upon the plan there laid
out. He had sat one afternoon for sometime with the book in his
hands--apparently resolving some problem in his own mind; Mammy was
stooping over the nursery fire, when she was suddenly startled by an
unexpected shower of water sprinkled over her head and neck--Fred at the
same time exclaiming, in a tone that seemed to doubt not: "I command you
instantly to turn into a coal black mare!"

"I don't know what would become of you, you good-for-naught, if I did!"
returned Mammy.

Some years later I read "The Children of the Abbey," and this opened a
new field of thought. My dreams, instead of being peopled with fairies
and genii, were now filled with distressed damsels who met with all
sorts of persecutions and Quixotic adventures, and finally ended where
they should have commenced.


I had a boy-lover who always selected me as his partner in all our
plays, and kept me in pointers with blue ribbons attached to them, to
point out the towns on the large map in the school-room. Charles Tracy
was about my own age, but in disposition and taste he resembled my
brother Henry, and the two were quite inseparable; while his sister
Ellen and I formed an acquaintance through the fence by displaying our
dolls to each other--and this was the beginning of an intimacy that
lasted a long time for children's friendships.

Ellen possessed a charm which often caused me to experience the
uncomfortable sensation of envy; her hair fell in long, golden-colored
ringlets upon her neck and shoulders, and these same curls seemed to
shake about so nicely whenever she moved her head. I sometimes thought
that Ellen shook them about much more than was absolutely necessary; but
at the same time they excited my warmest admiration. I felt as though I
could do anything--go through with all sorts of difficulties to have my
hair curl naturally; and with a feeling of unspeakable rapture I
listened to Ellen one day as she told me in a mysterious whisper that
the nurse had said eating crusts made her hair curl.

_Eating crusts!_ What a discovery!--I immediately felt ready to eat all
the crusts in our house and every one else's. I bribed the children to
deliver up all their crusts to me, and commenced eating them with a
voracity that excited the surprise of all the nursery inmates. But
already, in perspective, I beheld my head adorned with long, glossy
curls, and I persevered, despite the laughter I excited. I devoured
crusts by the wholesale, but alas! no waving locks rewarded my patient
toil; and at length I had the pleasure of hearing that the crust
business was a fable, invented by Ellen's nurse to induce that young
lady to finish her odds and ends of bread, which she was very much
disposed to scatter about the nursery. It was cruel, after being
elevated to such a pinnacle of happiness, to find my hopes thus rudely
dashed to the ground; and my hair seemed straighter than ever, from
contrast with what I had expected it to be. Ellen was prevented from
wasting her crusts, and so far it was well; but the nurse lost by her
falsehood whatever respect I may have had for her--a loss which she
perhaps did not regard as such, or indeed trouble herself at all
about--but even a child's good opinion is something.

I was very much inclined to be fleshy--too much so, I thought, for
beauty of figure; and this was another great annoyance. People in
speaking of us, always used to say: "What fine large children!" until I
hated the very sound of it, and wished most earnestly for Ellen's light,
fairy-like figure. I once resolved to starve myself into growing thin;
and, to Mammy's great surprise, refused to taste the dinner she handed
me, and resolutely persisted in going to bed without my supper. Mammy,
good old soul! watched me narrowly, not having been let into the secret
of my laudable resolve; and while she supposed that I had fallen into a
restless slumber, I was in reality tossing about on my trundle bed,
suffering the tantalizing pains of hunger. I remonstrated with myself in
vain; heard all the _pros_ and _cons_ on both sides in this perplexing
case of vanity _vs._ appetite, and finally resolved to satisfy my
hunger, cost what it would.

But how to do this was the next question. Enticing slices of bread and
butter kept dancing before my eyes; and at length, when I heard the
snore which announced Mammy's departure to the land of dreams, I rose as
quietly as possible, and descended on a foraging expedition to the
pantry. How very nice everything did look! I stood for a moment feasting
my eyes with the sight, but oh, ill-timed delay! I had not tasted a
single morsel, when a low whisper fell upon my ear, and on turning, I
beheld Mammy gazing on me rather fearfully, while at her elbow stood
Jane in night-gown and cap, who was violently rubbing her eyes in order
to clear away the fancied mist, and thus convince herself that it was
really the veritable _me_ who was about to perform such an
unheroine-like part.

This discovery seemed to me exactly like those tantalizing dreams in
which you are sitting down at a table covered with everything nice, but
before you have time to taste anything your visions are rudely
dispelled, and you wake and look in vain for the tempting paraphernalia.
I once bore this in mind after being several times teased in this
manner; and resolving not to be so deceived again, I succeeded in
regaling myself with a mince-pie--which appeared to me quite in the
light of a triumph. I now cast about me for some means to escape from
this disagreeable dilemma; and having heard Mammy whisper to Jane: "How
very wild she looks!" I found that they supposed me to be walking in my
sleep, a practice to which I was somewhat addicted; and not seeing why
sleep-walkers should not direct their course to the cupboard as well as
anywhere else, I boldly seized a loaf and commenced an attack upon it.

"Let us wait and see what she will do," whispered Mammy.

"It is very evident what she will do, now that she has the loaf in her
hands," replied Jane in a sleepy tone. "I do not believe that she is
asleep at all, but just as wide awake as we are. I have read a story
somewhere," she continued, "of a French girl who succeeded in persuading
people that she lived without eating; but at last some one watched the
girl closely, and one night discovered her at the pantry, regaling
herself with cold chicken sufficiently to go without eating for a week.
Now, Miss Amy has eaten neither dinner nor supper, and she may be
imitating the French girl, in order to be made a fuss with. I will speak
to her and see."

"Not for the world!" exclaimed Mammy in terror, as she grasped the more
enterprising Jane. "Do not touch her--for I have heard of its killing
people to be awakened suddenly while in this state."

Jane obeyed, although her face still wore an incredulous expression; and
I continued eating, looking as wild as possible all the time. The
nursery-maid began at length to fear that I would put an end to my own
life, if not spoken to; but Mammy still objected--murmuring as she
watched my voracious performances; "Poor child! how hungry she must have
been to come down and eat in her sleep! I wonder why she refused her

After a while, however, I became more sleepy than hungry; and Mammy and
Jane kindly conveyed me back to my little bed, where I slept soundly
till morning. I was not destined to reap much glory from this
escapade--not even the glory of being a sleep-walker; for Jane, looking
me steadily in the face, said: "Now, Miss Amy, I wish you to tell me
truly whether you were asleep last night, when you went down into the
pantry and devoured almost a whole loaf of bread! Now be a good girl,
and tell the truth, for you frightened us very much."

At first I pretended stupidity, and inquired, "what pantry?" and "what
bread?" but Jane soon discovered that I knew very well; and while she
looked at me so searchingly I could not possibly frame a plausible
story--so, from sheer necessity, I told the whole truth, "and nothing
but the truth." My curious attempt at getting thin excited great
amusement; but Mammy told me that she knew of a better way than that,
which was to run up and down stairs as much as possible. I followed her
advice until I became tired of it; and during that period I was
universally acknowledged to be the most obliging child in the house, for
I was quite indefatigable in running on other people's errands. I became
discouraged, though, when I found that I remained as fat as ever; and
began tasking my brain for some other expedient.

I had gone to Ellen Tracy's to enjoy a holiday; and, quite mad with
spirits, we roamed hither and thither, scarcely knowing what to do with
ourselves. At length Ellen proposed that we should go to "the boys'
room," and go we accordingly did. We would have recognized it as the
sanctum of two or three noisy urchins of the male gender, even had we
not known it beforehand. On the dressing-table stood a top, half-a-dozen
marbles, and a fishing-line; while the walls displayed various quaint
devices of their own drawing. There was a something which, Ellen
informed us, was intended for a ghost; but if so, he had a most undue
proportion of flesh on his bones, and looked far more like a giant. We
concluded to equip ourselves in male attire, for the sake of
variety--being heartily tired of frocks and petticoats; and Ellen's
pretty curls having been tucked up under a round cap, she looked so
fascinating that I felt quite ambitious to rival her--but in attempting
to draw on one of Charles' jackets, I found that it would not meet round
my waist. Oh, mortification unspeakable! to find myself larger around
the waist than a boy a whole year my senior! I could scarcely refrain
from bursting into tears; forgetting that I belonged to the dumpling
order, while Charles was as slender and straight as a young birch tree.
My pleasure for that day was gone; in vain Ellen displayed her whole
stock of worldly possessions to tempt my admiration. I scarcely bestowed
a look on anything, and returned home perfectly miserable.

For days I kept my ears wide open in hopes of catching something that
might relieve my distress, and at length I met with some success. I
overheard a visitor telling my mother of some young lady, whose figure
they had been admiring, that she was nothing at all without her
corsets--a complete dumpling; and then followed a long digression on the
impropriety of imposing upon the public in this manner; but for that I
did not care--I determined to impose upon them too, as soon as I got a
chance. Soon after, a school-mate encased me in a remarkably tight pair,
during an afternoon's visit; and having, as she said, 'made me look
quite genteel,' I departed for home with the delightful consciousness of
being 'something of a figure.' Before bed-time I had a romp in the
garden with my wild brother and Charles Tracy; I experienced a feeling
of suffocation, while running through the paths, that became quite

"Why Amy!" exclaimed Charles as he grasped my arm, "What _is_ the
matter? you look quite black in the face!" They all gathered around me,
but unable to speak, I sank back into Charles Tracy's arms, and lost
all consciousness.

When I recovered, I found myself lying on my own little bed, with my
mother bending fondly over me--the cause of all this trouble on a chair
at my side--and Mammy, dear, good Mammy! regarding me with a puzzled
look of surprise.

"Why, she actually fainted!" whispered Jane, "just dead away, like any
grown person!"

"No," replied Mammy, "the child was dreadfully squeezed, and that took
away her breath. She'll kill herself next, with some of her capers!"

Mamma now made a sign for them to be quiet, and stooping down close to
my face, asked me how I felt. I tried to answer, "better;" but the words
almost choked me, and I still experienced a difficulty in breathing. The
evil consequences of this attempt at the graceful were but temporary,
however; and the next morning, as I sat up quite recovered, a discussion
took place between mamma and the old nurse on the propriety of
equipping me at once in corsets to improve my figure. I soon experienced
the delight of possessing a pair of my own; on which memorable occasion,
I resolved that, like the old woman, I would "neither borrow nor lend;"
but the present was conditional--on the first instance of my lacing too
tight it was to be taken from me. I took care that this should never
happen--that is, to such a degree as to expose myself to punishment; but
in many a scene of enjoyment did I suffer the consequences of my foolish
vanity. Often while music, and dancing, and everything contributed to
render a children's party delightful, I sat apart in a corner, or else
went languidly through the figures of the dance, while every nerve
throbbed with acute pain.

Ellen and I had for sometime noticed that Charles and Henry were more
together than ever. They seldom associated with us now, or asked us to
join them; Henry proved faithless with respect to a table he had
promised my doll, and Charles refused, for the present, to dig his
sister's garden spot; therefore we put our two wise heads together and
concluded that this must mean something. The moment school was out, the
cap was hastily snatched from its nail in the entry, and they both
sallied forth together--where, or for what purpose, we tried in vain to
discover. On Saturdays they were constantly at work in the barn,
hammering, and cutting, and shaving; and one day we detected them
making, over a fire which they had built on bricks in the open air,
something which smelt very much like molasses candy. But upon Ellen's
venturing to communicate this to Charles, he answered contemptuously
that "it was just like girls!--always fancying that everything was
something eatable!"

The two made a journey to town together, and came back laden with sundry
parcels; and notwithstanding all this business, Henry found time to be
very industrious in weeding the flower-beds, for which my father paid
him so much an hour--and I noticed that he was uncommonly punctual in
presenting his bills. Without being very penetrating, we discovered
that the scheme, whatever it might be, was one that required a great
deal of time, a great deal of shopping, and a great deal of money. We
racked our brains in vain, and not a single mite of information could we
extract from the boys; indeed, we might just as well have attacked two
pine boards, for they pretended to be deaf as soon as we commenced our
inquiries. Ellen began to be afraid that they meditated living on some
wild island, like Robinson Crusoe, for she had seen Charles privately
appropriate a hatchet, and a ball of twine; and I inclined to the
opinion that they were both going to sea, and represented to Ellen how
delightful it would be to have them making voyages and bringing us
shells, and corals, and all sorts of curious things. But I was the
greatest philosopher of the two, for my more timid playmate cried
bitterly at the idea; and it was sometime before I could succeed in
pacifying her.

We one day discovered the boys in an old barn on the premises; and
waiting patiently near by until we saw them depart on some errand to the
house, we perceived, to our great joy that the door was unfastened; and
effecting a hasty entrance, we expected to be almost as well rewarded
for our trouble as was Blue-beard's wife on entering the forbidden
chamber. But nothing could we see except a few old boxes turned upside
down, and along one side a neat row of shelves. We perceived indeed that
the small window now contained four panes of glass, and we also
discovered two or three little shelves there. But here our discoveries
ended; there was nothing to account for all the labor and privacy that
had been going on for the last two or three weeks,--and quite in
despair, we returned to the house before the boys discovered our prying.

Things continued in this state for sometime longer; and finding that all
our efforts at discovery were not rewarded with the slightest success,
we assumed an appearance of proud indifference, and pretended to be as
much occupied with our dolls and baby-houses as they were with their
barn. Now and then one of the boys, in the tantalizing spirit of
mischief, would thrust a parcel under our very eyes, exclaiming at the
same time: "Wouldn't you like to see the inside, though? Confess, now,
that you would give your very ears to know what's in it!"

"Indeed, and we would not!" in great indignation, "not we! We supposed
that it was some boys' nonsense not worth talking about, and were quite
occupied with our own affairs, without troubling ourselves about them."

In a tone that sounded very much as though he were in earnest, Charles
would continue: "Suppose, Henry, that we let them know what it is, if
they promise not to tell--shall we?"

"By no means," Henry would reply, with the air of a Socrates, "Women can
never keep a secret--I have heard my father say so."

"We were sure we didn't want to hear their secrets!" and indignantly
clipping away with our scissors, we turned a deaf ear to all further
remarks. However, the secret did come to light after a while, and in a
most unexpected manner.

We had just received a liberal allowance of pocket-money, and while
Ellen and I deliberated on the various ways in which it might be spent
to advantage, Henry asked us, with a perfectly grave face, if we had
heard of the new store lately opened near us? _New_ store! Why there had
never been any store at all, except the little stand kept by old Betty
Tweednor, and now Henry spoke of the new store as though such a thing
had ever existed. Certainly we had not heard of it; but resolving to
remain no longer in ignorance, we seized our bonnets, and were ready to
start in a moment. Henry looked very knowing and mysterious; but
following his guidance, we soon found ourselves at the barn which had
before excited our curiosity. Why, it had been turned into a regular
shop! Rows of candies, better known among children as "barber's-poles,"
looked imposingly out of the window, and these were flanked by piles of
pea-nuts, apples, &c. But all these would have been nothing without that
delight of childhood--taffy-candy; and upon a further investigation, we
discovered a very ingenious pair of clam-shell scales, with holes bored
for strings to pass through, and suspended from a stout stick which was
kept in its place by being fastened to an upright piece of wood at each
end--the whole resting upon a very complete counter formed of old
boxes. It looked exactly like a real store; and behind the counter stood
Charles, as demure as possible,--while crowds of our schoolmates gazed,
admired, and wondered.

A sign near the door informed passers that "the proprietors, grateful
for past favors and the patronage of a liberal public, would continue
the business under the firm of Chesbury and Tracy." It would be a
somewhat difficult task, we thought, to discover the favors and
patronage alluded to; but the young merchants had concluded that this
clause gave a dignity and air of reality to the whole. We experienced
the pleasure of making purchases, weighed out to us from the much
admired clam-shell scales, and were very particular in exacting full
weight. Each sale was recorded in a small account book; and long after
we had grown to the years of discretion, our mirth was excited by
accidentally meeting with this juvenile record. So many purchases were
made that afternoon, that the young storekeepers perceived with dismay
the very visible decrease in their supplies. We accused them of
retrenching considerably in their quantities, on this discovery, and
thought that they were too inexperienced for so weighty an office.

Ellen and I often added to their stores by little pies and cakes which
we manufactured at home; and in process of time their articles embraced
such a variety that the shop became quite celebrated. Even mamma would
sometimes come to make purchases; and the boy-merchants found their
scheme a very profitable one. But alas! it vanished with the last summer
breath; the early snows surrounded their little store, and all access
became inconvenient. So they had a sale at prime cost--and we then
obtained most wonderful bargains in the confectionary line. Finding
himself quite wealthy now, Charles could well afford to be generous; and
presented me with a new doll, and his sister Ellen with a miniature set
of cups and saucers, over which we had many happy tea-drinkings. We
received no presents from Henry, and heard nothing of his money; and it
was not till some time after, and then through another source, that we
learned that his portion had materially helped to keep a poor woman
from freezing during the winter. My father often remarked of Henry, that
"he was too generous and self-forgetful ever to be rich;" but there is
no doubt that such have their reward--in their own consciences at least.


The winter wore rapidly away with sleigh-riding, snow-balling, and our
usual parties; and spring, lovely spring! again made its appearance. Our
flower-garden looked its very loveliest at this season; for it boasted
countless stores of hyacinths, tulips, daffodils, blue-bells, violets,
crocuses, &c. I remember so well when we first noticed the little green
sprouts shooting up in spots from which the snow had melted; and on
making this discovery, we always danced into the house and shouted out:
"Spring has come!" It gladdened our very hearts to find the first little
violet that dared to show its head above the ground; and then we ran to
the peach-trees to look at the delicate pink buds that shot forth so
curiously without any leaves. There was a warm sweet breath abroad upon
the air that tossed our hair about, and fanned our flushed cheeks, and
we knew that it was spring, sweet spring! that had come again to us. Oh,
how delightful it was when, escaped from all watchful eyes, I could
throw aside the troublesome sun-bonnet, that so obstructed my sight, and
dig and delve at pleasure! Never in all my life have I been so happy as
in these delightful spring days, when I roved about the paths with a
heart full of happiness, and a sensation of thankfulness for the
blessings I enjoyed.

Two circumstances contributed materially to immortalize this particular
spring in my recollections: I then completed my tenth year, which I
thought left me on the very threshold of womanhood, and we had two pet
squirrels, who inhabited the locust trees in front of the house, with a
tin cage to retire to at night--one of whom we called "blackey," and the
other "browney," from their different colors.

"Blackey" was extremely mischievous, and rarely could be caught; but
"browney" seemed a perfect paragon of gentleness and goodness--and I
would seat myself on the steps, holding him for hours, and listening to
the monotonous hum of the locusts, which always filled my heart with a
sense of quiet happiness. Did you never sit watching the glorious
sunbeams, as they fell on the soft, fresh grass, and with this low,
soothing hum in your ears, feel that the earth was very beautiful? I
have; but then I was a dreamer--an unmistakable, enthusiastic dreamer,
and my fancies would, perhaps, be laughed at by the wise ones of earth.

To return to "browney;" my love cooled for him very suddenly one
morning, as, with my finger in close proximity to his mouth, I sat and
apostrophized him thus, "You dear, little angel, you! I love you
dearly!" a sudden closing of sharp little teeth on my poor fingers put
an end to my rhapsodies; and the "little angel" was most unceremoniously
dropped on the ground, from whence he made his escape to his usual home,
the locust tree--and I never again sought to entice him from his
retreat. I ran about the walks as usual this spring, but it was with
languor and indifference that I visited our usual haunts; and I
wondered what it was that made my steps so very slow and dragging--it
seemed as though a weight were tied on each heel. If I attempted a race
with the boys, I was obliged to give up from very weariness; and
laughing at what they termed my laziness, they pursued their amusements
without me. Charles Tracy would now and then bring me a bunch of wild
flowers; and to the surprise of all, I preferred sitting with them in my
hands to joining in my usual noisy games. I grew pale and thin; and
Mammy and Jane began to express their uneasiness about me, while I often
noticed my mother's eyes fixed upon me in tender solicitude.

I went to bed one night feeling restless and feverish. It was the latter
part of April, and a small wood-fire still burned on the hearth; on the
embers of which I fixed my eyes steadfastly, until strange shapes and
burning eyes seemed moving about the quiet hearth. I was quite alone;
Mammy had gone out to spend the evening, and Jane was taking her tea in
the kitchen. Had it been for life or death I could not have spoken; I
tried to scream--but a hollow sound rattled in my ears--and with the
cold drops gathering on my forehead, I lay still, subdued, in a state of
delirious agony. I was almost senseless; until at length, feeling a
touch upon my arm, and a breathing at my side, I started wildly up, and
eluding all pursuit, fled swiftly down the stair-case. I pressed my hand
tightly on my throbbing head, and gaining the kitchen, burst suddenly
in, exclaiming, "O! Jane! Jane! do not leave me again!" I sunk down
insensible; and remember nothing but a scream of horror which proceeded
from Jane, who, having just seated herself beside me as I sprang out of
bed, had followed me in a state of breathless alarm to the kitchen.

When I again opened my eyes, it was about midnight. I had been conveyed
to my mother's room, and now experienced the delightful sensation of
finding myself in a high bed, with curtains; while my head was raised up
with pillows to an unusual height. In turning myself to obtain a better
view of the surrounding scenery, I became conscious of a stiffness in my
right arm; and fairly shuddered with horror on perceiving a basin of
blood close to my bedside. But worse and worse! a few paces further off
stood a grave-looking man, whom, from his very air, I knew to be a
doctor. Nay, had I been at all doubtful on this point, the addition of a
pair of spectacles would have convinced me at once--as this is an
ornament especially pertaining to M. D.'s. I had always hated, loathed,
dreaded a doctor as I would a nauseous object; and I now trembled to
find myself in his power--fearing that he read my dislike in my face.
Spectacles, too, disconcerted me; the glimmer of the polished glass
seems to add new fire to the eyes beneath; and I now beheld a pair, eyes
and all, levelled directly upon me. I shuddered at the very idea of a
doctor, and could never sit still in the room with one; and now there
stood that horrid man, evidently regarding me as his victim, while I
felt too weak and sick to make the least resistance.

My aversion probably arose from the circumstance of once having had a
loose front tooth pulled out--one that was just ready to jump out
itself; which operation, I felt convinced, had left my system in a very
shattered state. Often since did I torture myself for hours by mounting
up on a table before the glass, and with a string tied around a loosened
tooth, give it a little cowardly pull at intervals--lacking sufficient
courage to rid myself of my trouble at once. I have sometimes sat in
this interesting position for a whole morning; and should probably have
continued it through the afternoon had not Fred, or Henry, perceiving my
employment, come slyly behind me and caused me to start suddenly, which
always dislodged the troublesome tooth.

My eyes rested a moment on the doctor, and then glanced off to seek some
more agreeable object, and having found mamma, she seemed like a lovely
angel in comparison with the ogre who, I felt convinced, only waited his
opportunity to put an end to my life. Mamma came close to me, and
observing my gaze still bent upon the basin, she whispered softly: "Do
not look so frightened, Amy, you have only been bled--that is all,
believe me."

_All_! After this announcement I wondered that I breathed at all; and
had I not been too weak should certainly have cried over the thoughts
of the pain I must have suffered in my insensibility. I made no reply,
but leaned my head droopingly upon the pillow; and Dr. Irwin, taking my
hand, observed: "She is very weak, and we may expect delirium before

His first assertion received the lie direct in the strength with which I
pushed him off, as I would the touch of a viper; and clinging to mamma,
I cried: "Take him away, dear mother! Take him away!--Do not let him
come near us!"

"What?" exclaimed the doctor good-humoredly, "are you afraid of me, my
little lady? Do I look so very frightful?"

I was quite surprised at his pleasant tone, and on a nearer survey of
his features, felt my passion considerably cooled; but those odious
spectacles spoiled all. I remember soon after being raised up, while
some one held a cup to my lips, but whether the draught were good or bad
I was unable to determine. Dr. Irwin now took my mother aside, and
whispered something in a low tone, as he placed a small packet in her
hands. I heard my mother say: "I am afraid she will never take it,
doctor," to which he replied: "But she _must_ take it, madam--we cannot
consider a child's humors in the scale with her life." I now felt
assured that some nauseous compound was being prepared for me; which I
firmly resolved to fling in the doctor's face, should he dare to
approach me with it. I was a perfect fury when roused; and this fancied
cruelty excited my strongest passions.

But Dr. Irwin wisely took himself off; and the next morning poor mamma
received half the mixture on her dress, while the other half found a
resting place on the floor--a few drops only having slipped down my
throat; while one of the servants heard my screams at the end of the
village, and the next door neighbor, prompted by humanity, sent to
inquire the name of the murdered party. The next dose was more
successful; mamma having spread out before my eyes all her possessions
which she thought likely to tempt me, I received permission to make a
choice, on condition of swallowing a spoonful of calomel jalap. I
further displayed my gentleness by biting Dr. Irwin's fingers when he
attempted to look at my throat, and the good man evidently regarded me
as a pretty refractory patient.

I always had a great horror of being sick--that is, a real, regular fit
of sickness, where you are perched up in bed, and have to do as other
people please, and have only just what covering they please--when you
are not suffered to put an arm out, or toss off a quilt that almost
smothers you, or drink a drop of cold water. Once in a while, I thought,
to be just sufficiently sick to sit in the easy chair and look over
mother's pretty things, or daub with her color-box, while people brought
me oranges and waited upon me, did very well. I was not a gentle, timid,
feminine sort of a child, as I have said before--one who would faint at
the prick of a pin, or weep showers of tears for a slight headache; I
was a complete little hoyden, full of life and spirits, to whom the idea
of being in bed in the day-time was extremely disagreeable--and when I
had been "awful," according to the nursery phraseology, the greatest
punishment that could be inflicted upon me was to send me thither to
enjoy the charms of solitude. I was a female edition of my brother
Fred; not quite so prone to tricks and mischief, perhaps--but almost as
wild and unmanageable.

Now and then Fred would come down in the morning pale, sick, and
subdued-looking; his head tightly bound with a handkerchief, and his
whole countenance expressive of suffering. A sick headache was the only
thing that could tame him; and a smile of ineffable relief sat on the
faces of the others as they glanced at his woe-begone visage. He was as
secure for that day as though chained hand and foot. My quiet hours were
when some fascinating book engrossed my whole attention; I drank in each
word, and could neither see nor hear anything around.

But here I was, really sick and quiet, ill in bed for a whole
month--day-time and all; and oh! the nauseous doses that somehow slipped
down my unwilling throat! Sometimes I would lie and watch the others
moving around and doing as they chose, and then, feeling galled by my
own sense of dependence and inefficiency, the warm blood would glow
quickly as before, and springing hastily up, I determined to throw off
this weary feeling of lassitude. But it was of no use; all I could do
was to sink back exhausted, and "bide my time."

When the first stage of my illness was passed, poor mamma, completely
worn out, would often leave me to the care of Mammy or Jane; with
numerous directions to see that I took whatever had been left for me by
Doctor Irwin. I always liked to have Jane with me, for I _loved_ her;
and the medicine never seemed to taste so bad when she gave it to me.
She had various ways of smoothing this disagreeable duty; and one night
when I had been rather obstreperous, she cut a pill in two and took
half, by way of keeping me company; saying as she swallowed it that
"perhaps it might do her some good." When I became well enough to leave
my bed I sat in a nice easy-chair drawn close up to the window, from
whence I could see the early flowers that were now blooming in full
beauty in the garden below, while some amusing book rested on my lap. I
remember that they brought me the very first strawberries that ripened;
and the neighbors were so kind that many a well-relished delicacy was
sent in "for Mrs. Chesbury's sick child."

I was just able to run about, but still looking very pale and thin, when
Aunt Henshaw arrived on a visit. "What!" exclaimed she, "can this be the
madcap, Amy? Why, you look like a ghost, child! What in the world have
you been doing to yourself--studying too hard?"

The old lady possessed no great powers of penetration, and not being
sufficiently discerning to distinguish between the love of reading and
the love of study, she concluded, from seeing me often with a book in my
hand, that I was quite a studious character. Aunt Henshaw remained a
week or two; and though not exactly sick, I remained thin and drooping,
and seemed to get no stronger as the season advanced. The state of my
health was canvassed over and over again in the family circle; and one
day, when they were all gazing upon me with anxious solicitude, and
remarking upon my pale cheeks, Aunt Henshaw observed: "She needs a
change of air, poor child! She must go home with me."


I was quite surprised at the effect which this remark produced. Although
an only daughter, I had never been much caressed at home--I was always
so troublesome that they loved me best at a distance. If I happened to
get into the library with my father, I was sure to upset the inkstand,
or shake the table where he sat writing--or if admitted to my mother's
apartment, I made sad havoc with her work-basket, and was very apt to
clip up cut out articles with my little scissors--which said scissors I
regarded with the greatest affection; in the first place because they
were my own private property, and in the next place, they afforded me
the delightful pleasure of clipping--that great enjoyment of childhood;
but they did so much mischief that complaints against them were loud
and long, and I quite trembled at an oft-repeated threat of taking them

My mother evidently disapproved of Aunt Henshaw's proposal, and my
father drawing me towards him affectionately, said: "I am afraid we
could not part with our little madcap--we should miss her noise sadly."

The idea of being missed, and actually made a subject of argument, was
something quite new to me; and glancing in surprise from one to the
other, I awaited the issue in silence, scarcely knowing whether I wished
to go or stay. But Aunt Henshaw carried her point. She represented so
many advantages to be gained by the change, where I could run about
quite wild, rolling among the fresh hay, and breathing the pure
air--insisting that it must bring a color into my pale cheeks--that my
parents at length yielded.

Now began the delightful bustle of preparation. My mother turned over my
scanty wardrobe with perplexed looks; and an immediate cutting and
clipping took place, by which old gowns of hers were made into bran new
ones for me. Nor was this all--some were bought on purpose for me; and
I had two or three delightful jaunts to the city, to choose the patterns
for myself; and I wondered if anybody ever had so many, new things at
once as I was about to have. I became quite a wonder in the family--a
person whose movements were of the utmost importance; for I was going to
be away from them the whole summer, and it seemed an almost endless
separation. Mammy was not at all pleased at their sending her child away
from her; the old nurse even cried over me, and insisted upon it that I
had always been a paragon of excellence, and that she could not live
without me. My father gave me some money to buy her a present, the
selection of which was to be left entirely to my own taste; and the sum
I expended in a manner perfectly characteristic: I procured a large
bunch of gay beads for Mammy, and presented Jane with the wonderful
history of little Red Riding Hood. Both treasured them as carefully, and
apparently valued them as highly, as if they had been better selected;
and being quite confident that they would prefer them to anything else,
I was much surprised at the disapprobation expressed in the family

I gave Henry a little pincushion, which I made on purpose for him, and
not knowing what to present Fred with, I allowed him to rip open my
second-best doll, which was still in quite a good state of preservation.
Fred had always possessed an inquiring mind, and an inclination to
inspect the contents of everything, in consequence of which my
possessions often suffered--and this employment now afforded him the
most intense satisfaction; while I, with a certain feeling of curiosity,
and yet scarcely able to repress an effort for the rescue of poor dolly,
stood watching the proceeding. Nothing appeared, however, but saw-dust;
although Fred had positively assured me that he had no doubt we would
find a diamond ring, or a piece of money, at least--as people often did
where they least expected it; and it was partly this consideration that
led me to consent to the dissection, for we had made an agreement to
divide the spoils.

Fred's head was always filled with wonderful schemes of this nature,
and if he had not been so lazy and fond of mischief he would have made a
smart boy; for he was always reading books containing wonderful
researches into the productions of former centuries; and being
particularly interested in the study of minerals and different species
of rock, he often endeavored to explain to me the various forms of
strata which were found below the earth; but my comprehension could not
take it in. He was continually poring over fossil remains, and digging
in the garden for something curious. He one day ran in with his apron
full of stones and other rubbish, and holding up in triumph an object of
various hues, through which a slight blue shade was distinctly visible,
he called out eagerly: "See, mother! I have really found some fossil
remains at last!"

Mamma took the admired treasure in her hand, as Fred desired; and as she
did so, a smile that had hovered about her mouth grew deeper and deeper;
and finally her amusement burst forth in a hearty laugh. Fred seized his
prize indignantly, and after washing it with the greatest care, found
himself in possession of the spout of an old crockery tea-pot. We heard
no more of fossil remains after that; though he still pursued his
researches privately--having, I believe transferred his expectations
from fossil remains to golden treasures. He was hardly more successful
in this line, as he never found anything to reward his toil except a
solitary five-pence, that he mistook for a gold piece, and which
required more rubbing and scouring to make it distinguishable than it
was worth. Having sacrificed my doll on the shrine of sisterly
affection, not to mention the dross of private interest, I concluded
that I had done as much for Fred as he had any right to expect; and
employed myself in arranging sugar-plums in various attractive forms, as
farewell presents to my younger brothers.

The eventful morning arrived on which I was to take my departure. It was
my first absence from home for any length of time, and I had scarcely
been able to sleep at all during the night--my mind being occupied with
the one all-engrossing thought. I scarcely dared to listen at first, for
fear I should hear it rain; but the sun shone brightly in all the glory
of a clear June morning, and springing out of bed, I dressed myself as
expeditiously as possible, for fear that Aunt Henshaw might go off
without me. "What then was my surprise, when after breakfast I saw the
old lady sit down as usual, and after carefully wiping her spectacles,
take up a book she had been perusing, just as if the greatest event of
my life were not about to occur that very day?

"Why, Aunt Henshaw!" said I in a tone of acute disappointment, "Are we
not going to-day?"

"Certainly, my dear," was her reply, "But the stage coach will not be
here till two o'clock, and I have all my things ready."

What could I possibly do with the six intervening hours? I too had all
my things ready; and my spirits were now in a state that absolutely
required excitement of some kind or other. I tried to read, but it was
impossible to fix my thoughts on the subject--even the Arabian Nights
failed to interest me; and after wondering for some time at Aunt
Henshaw, who could view the near prospect of a journey that would
occupy two or three days with the most perfect composure, I proceeded to
my mother's apartment. I had not been there long before I got up a cry,
and felt more doubtful than ever whether I wished to go. But mamma
talked with me for some time; and having clearly ascertained that it was
my parents' wish that I should go, in hopes of benefiting my health by
the change, I comforted myself with the idea of martyrdom on a small

I put my doll to board with Ellen Tracy until my return, at a charge of
so many sugar-plums a week; with strict injunctions not to pull its arms
or legs out of order, or attempt to curl its hair. I could not eat a
mouthful of dinner, but Aunt Henshaw stowed away some cake for me in a
corner of her capacious bag; a proceeding which then rather amused me,
but for which I was afterwards exceedingly thankful. The time seemed
almost interminable; I threw out various hints on the value of
expedition, the misery of being behindhand, and the doubtful punctuality
of stage-coaches--but Aunt Henshaw remained immovable.

"As to its coming before the appointed time," said she, "I never heard
of such a thing. It is much more likely to leave us altogether."

Dreadful idea! Suppose it should! I stood flattening my nose against the
window-pane in hopes of spying the welcome vehicle; but it did not even
glimmer in the far distance. Full half an hour before the time, I was
equipped in the wrappers which my invalid state required, impatiently
awaiting the expected clatter of wheels. At length it rolled rapidly up
to the door; a shabby-looking vehicle, drawn by four horses--and a
perfect wilderness of heads and eyes looked forth from the windows,
while legs and arms dangled from the top. It was quite full; and several
voices called out, "They can't come in, driver! It's impossible!"

What a blank fell upon my hopes at these cruel words! The people looked
so savage and unpitying, and I thought that after all we must stay at
home--there seemed no crevice of space into which we could force
ourselves; and in silent consternation I surveyed Aunt Henshaw's
substantial proportions. But she was an experienced traveller; and
making her adieus with a degree of composure and certainty that quite
reassured me, she took me by the hand and advanced to the stage as
smilingly as though they had all invited her to enter. The driver's
eagle eye spied out a seat for Aunt Henshaw--a kind-looking old
gentleman took me on his lap--the door was closed, and away we rattled.
Aunt Henshaw, never much given to silence, found a congenial companion
in the gentleman who had given me a seat; they were soon engaged in an
animated conversation on the pleasures of farming, during which I went
to sleep--nor was I aroused until about two hours after, when we found
ourselves landed at the wharf. We went on board the packet, and
proceeded to the cabin, where I was surprised, amused, and rather
frightened at the appearance of the narrow-looking boxes which we were
destined to sleep in. But Aunt Henshaw assured me that there was no
danger; and I found from experience that I could sleep almost as well
there as in my own bed at home.

The wind was unfavorable, and we were almost a week on the water; but
at length we reached New London and proceeded to Waterford. Aunt
Henshaw's family, I knew, consisted only of a daughter--her sons having
married and settled away from her--and to the meeting with this cousin
Statia, I looked forward with some anxiety. It was almost dark when we
approached the house; a real farmhouse, with lilac and syringa bushes in
front, and a honeysuckle running over the piazza. A little dog came out
and barked at us--a sensible-looking cat rested on the porch--and in the
door-way stood Cousin Statia. She kissed me affectionately, and appeared
glad to see her mother; and we were all soon seated around the table,
where fresh cottage-cheese, crimson radishes, and warm tea-cakes looked
invitingly forth.

I was rather disappointed in the appearance of Cousin Statia; I had
expected to see a fresh, smiling-looking country girl, but I found a
stiff, demure-looking young lady, at whose age I scarcely dared venture
a guess. A little colored girl waited on the table, who evidently
surveyed me with a great deal of interest; for I constantly caught the
sharp glances of her little black eyes. She had been christened
Aholibama--a name which she told me was taken out of some story-book,
though I afterwards found that it was in the Bible--but this being too
long an appellation, they had abbreviated it to Holly. During a hasty
glance into the cheerful kitchen, I caught a glimpse of a very
nice-looking colored woman, who, I afterwards found, was Sylvia, the

Everything looked very pleasant around, though plain; but I was tired
and sleepy, and at an early hour Cousin Statia conducted me to a small,
neat room in the second story, with white curtains; and after
ascertaining that I could undress myself, she left me for a short time,
promising to come and take the candle. I felt the least bit homesick and
wished very much to see them all; but I was also very much interested in
the novelty of a new scene, and anticipated a great deal of pleasure in
examining the premises. Aunt Henshaw had told me that she believed there
were kittens somewhere around, and I determined to search till I found
them; for a little pet kitten appeared to me the sweetest of all
created things.

In the meantime, I began to experience a very uncomfortable sensation
that quickly swallowed up all other thoughts. Cousin Statia had taken
the candle, but it was a bright, moonlight night, and the beautiful
moonbeams that came dancing in and formed a perfect network upon the
floor, made the room almost as light as day. It was not very warm
weather, but I felt the perspiration pouring down, while I trembled in
every limb. My eyes were fixed with a sort of fascination on the
opposite wall, where the shadow of a figure seemed to pass and repass;
and every time it arrived at a certain point, there was a sort of a kick
up, as though with the feet behind. I looked all around, as soon as I
dared to, but everything was still except the tormenting shadow. I
scarcely breathed, but kept watching the queer figure, till I was almost
ready to faint from cowardice. I tried to reason with myself--and called
to mind how my father had endeavored to banish this weakness; how one
night on being afraid to go into the cellar, he had himself gone with
me and examined every corner, to convince me that there was nothing to
fear; and under the impulse of these reflections I sprang out of bed,
determined to investigate the mystery. I went in every part of the room;
I examined the window, the curtains, but nothing was to be seen, while
the figure still continued its movements; and almost sick, I returned to
bed, to lie and watch the shadow. All sorts of queer stories rushed into
my head; I tried to forgot them and think of something else, but it was
impossible. The movement was slow, regular, and punctual.

At last I could stand it no longer; I rushed to the window, determined
to stay there till the mystery was explained, for I felt convinced that
I should find it there. I directed my eyes piercingly to every part of
the curtains; and at length I perceived that the window had been let
down at the top. I closed it, arranged the curtains differently, and
then, in some trepidation, returned to my shadow. It had disappeared;
and I now understood that the formidable figure was merely a part of the
curtain, which, influenced by the night wind, swayed to and fro,
causing the shadow on the wall.

I do not think I ever experienced a cowardly feeling afterwards; that
night perfectly satisfied me that superstition was the most unreasonable
torture that could be inflicted on oneself; and I was ever afterwards
celebrated for my bravery. Even my father praised my conduct, and said
that it was pretty well for a girl of ten years, under such
circumstances--at the same time representing to me how much more
reasonable such a course was, than screaming would have been, to rouse
the household for nothing. I went quietly to sleep, and dreamed neither
of goblins nor ghosts, but of a dear little spotted kitten with a blue
ribbon around its neck.


I did not wake very early the next morning, and when I opened my eyes, I
perceived Cousin Statia standing by my bedside, who had been endeavoring
to waken me. Her manner was rather solemn as she announced that Aunt
Henshaw was waiting for me to commence the morning services. At this
information I felt very much mortified; and springing quickly out of
bed, I was soon dressed and in the breakfast room. Aunt Henshaw sat with
a large Bible open before her; and after kissing me kindly, she read a
chapter, and then offered a short prayer.

After breakfast, Cousin Statia proceeded to wash up the cups and
saucers, which she always did for fear of their being broken; Aunt
Henshaw proceeded to the poultry yard, and I accompanied her. She had a
large tin pan in her hand, filled with moistened Indian meal, with which
she fed the chickens; of which there seemed an endless number, both old
and young. Then we went to the barn-yard, and she showed me a young
calf; but it was an awkward-looking thing, that scampered about without
sense or meaning. But I had not forgotten the kittens, and I asked Aunt
Henshaw where they were. She said that she would look; and going into
the barn, we peered around, in mangers and out-of-the-way places,
without the least success; and we concluded that the old cat must have
hid them up in the mow.

"Perhaps Holly knows, though," said the old lady, on noticing my
disappointment, "very little escapes her eyes, and we can at least call
her and see."

Holly was called, but with not much more success than our hunt after the
kittens, so we were obliged to proceed to the kitchen--a wing on the
same floor with the parlor and dining-room. Holly was now visible,
peeling apples, and evidently glad to be released from her task, she
professed herself perfectly acquainted with the whereabouts of the

"But can we get them?" asked Aunt Henshaw.

"Oh yes, Missus," replied Holly, "if you'll only 'tice the old cat
somewhere and shut her up. She'd 'spect suthin' if she saw me, and
there'd be no gittin' rid of her; and if she once ketched us at the
bisness, she'd scratch our very eyes out--cats is always dreadful skeery
about their kittens."

There was something in this speech which grated on my ear as painfully
ungrammatical; and I resolved, on the first opportunity, to instruct
Holly in the rudiments of grammar. She remained in the kitchen while
Aunt Henshaw, after calling "pussy" in an affectionate manner, shut the
cat up in the dining-room; and our guide then led the way to the
kittens. The garret stairs turned off in two directions; one led to
about four or five steps, beneath which was a hollow place extending
some distance back, where Holly had often seen the old cat go in and out
in a private manner.

"Now," said she, "you stay here, and I'll jest git the rake and rake
the kittens out for Miss Amy, here."

"But I am afraid you will hurt them," said Aunt Henshaw.

"It ain't very likely," replied Holly confidently, "that they're a-going
to be so shaller as to git hurt. They'll squirm over the points of the
rake, and take care of themselves."

The rake was brought; and five little sprawling kittens, with their eyes
scarcely open, were soon crawling at my feet. "Oh, you dear little
angels!" I exclaimed in ecstasy.

"Rather black-looking angels," said Aunt Henshaw with a smile.

I took them up, one after another, and was quite at a loss which to
admire most. There were three black ones, one grey, and one white one
spotted. I rather thought I preferred the white and grey, while Holly
claimed the three black ones. We took them all to the kitchen and placed
a saucer of milk before them, while Holly let out the cat, that she
might see how well we were treating them. She looked around in surprise
at first; but then deliberately taking them one by one, she carried
them all off in her mouth, and we saw nothing more of them for some

I spent the morning in wandering about; and in the afternoon I sat in
the parlor with Cousin Statia, who was knitting as fast as her needles
could fly. I asked her for a book; and after some search, she handed me
the "Pilgrim's Progress," in which I soon became deeply interested,
while Aunt Henshaw took a nap in her chair. Towards evening the old
white horse was harnessed up, and we took a drive; Aunt Henshaw being
determined, as she said, to put some color in my pale cheeks. They
evidently thought a great deal of this old horse, whom they called Joe;
but I mentally compared him with my father's carriage-horses--a
comparison not much to his advantage. Cousin Statia drove, but Joe did
not seem much disposed to go. Every now and then he came to a
stand-still, and I quite wanted to get out and push him along. But they
saw nothing uncommon in his behavior, and even congratulated themselves
upon his being so careful. Aunt Henshaw said that such dreadful
accidents had happened in consequence of horses running away with
people, and that Joe's great virtue consisted in his being so perfectly

We did not drive very far, and on our return found that Sylvia had tea
all ready and waiting for us. The old colored woman was quite tasty in
her ideas, and had garnished an immense dish of strawberries with
flowers and leaves, through which the red fruit gleamed most temptingly
forth. After tea, when Cousin Statia had taken up her knitting, and Aunt
Henshaw was seated in her usual chair, I placed a low stool beside her
for myself, and begged for one of her usual stories. She was a very
entertaining old lady, with a great deal of natural wit, and abundant
reminiscences of the times in which she had lived. Nothing delighted us
more than to hear her stories of the Revolution, in many of which she
figured as principal actor; and I now expected a rich treat.

"Well, I do not know," replied Aunt Henshaw in answer to my question, "I
think I must have told you all."

This remark, I knew from experience, was the prelude to something even
more interesting than usual, and I waited patiently for her to begin.

"Did I ever tell you," she continued, "of the time that Statia went to
her Uncle Ben's at night, with no one except her two little brothers?"

I had never heard the narrative, and eagerly settled myself in the
position of a listener.

"Statia," said her mother, "you had better tell the story--perhaps you
remember it better than I do."

"It was a raw November night," she began, "and though it did not exactly
storm, the wind moaned and raged through the trees, blowing the fallen
leaver about in gusts, and making a pleasant fire seem doubly cheerful.
The large hickory logs were roaring and blazing in our huge fireplace
and my father, my mother, my two brothers, and myself were gathered
around the fire. I was the eldest, but I was then only twelve years old;
and yet, I remember always to have felt a great deal of care and
responsibility towards the other children I never can forget the night,
for I then experienced my first lesson of self-forgetfulness; and
whenever I speak of it, it seems as of something just passed. As I was
saying, we all sat by the fire, and had just been talking of the
British, who were dreaded and feared by us children as a race of ogres.
The door opened suddenly, and John, one of the hired men, stood before
us, his countenance expressive of some disaster. My father and mother
both rose in apprehension, and demanded the cause of his seeming terror.

"Why sir," he stammered, "perhaps it ain't after all, anything so very
bad--there may not be any real danger; though it ain't exactly what you
would have chosen. I have just come from the post-office, and they say
that a party of British have landed about four miles below, and will
probably come and take supper with you. I do not believe they will do
anything worse, but it is best to be ready."

My mother turned very pale, but she did not faint; she was a true
daughter of America, and always tried to repress all outward signs of
weakness. "I can load the guns," said she, "and attend to the
supper--but what will become of the children? These soldiers may perhaps
be intoxicated, and might set fire to the house."

"They must be sent away," replied my father; "How long will it be before
the British get here?" he continued.

"About two hours I should think," was John's reply; "and this being the
first farmhouse they pass, they will probably stop here."

"Statia," said my father, turning to me, "it is my wish that you take
your brothers and go as quickly as possible to your Uncle Ben's, where
you will be out of danger. I must send you _alone_, my child, for I can
spare no one to accompany you. But it is not a dark night, and you are
well acquainted with the road. I see no other alternative."

"I trembled in every limb, but I had been brought up with the greatest
deference for my parents' wishes, and should not have dared to dispute
my father's command, even had he told me to do a much harder thing. The
children began to cry, for they were afraid of being murdered on the
road; but my mother succeeded in soothing them; and well bundled up, we
received a kiss and blessing from our parents, and started on our dreary
journey. Here was I quite alone, except my two little brothers, who
clung to me as we went along, and cried with terror, with three long
miles before me, and the wind blowing around us with such fury that we
could scarcely keep our feet. My younger brother now complained of the
cold; and resolved to protect them at whatever cost to myself, I took
off my cloak and wrapped it about him. I had only a shawl left; and
wrapping my arms in its thin folds, while the children grasped my skirt,
we proceeded slowly along. It was fortunate for us that the moon shone
brightly, for, even as it was, I was puzzled about the way. But at
length we reached the well-known house, and surprised enough were they
to see us; but when we told them the reason, my uncle immediately
started for my father's house, to render any assistance that might be
required. The night passed, however, without the expected invasion; the
British proceeded in another direction, and our cold, lonely walk might
have been dispensed with. But my father called me his brave little
girl, and said that in future he could always trust me--while my mother
pressed us silently to her bosom, and as she kissed us, I felt the warm
tears falling on my face. She too had had her trial on that fearful

I felt very thankful that my parents had never required such a
disagreeable proof of obedience; for, not possessing the firm principle
of right which characterized Cousin Statia, even as a child, I should
have been very much disposed to resist their authority.

"Well," said Aunt Henshaw, "that is a story of which Statia may well be
proud, but her telling it has just put me in mind of something else. I
once had a large jar of sour milk standing before the fire, which I was
going to make into cottage-cheese, when one of the servants came
running, in breathless haste, with the news that three British soldiers
were approaching the house. Plunder was generally the object of such
stragglers, and there was quite a large sum of gold lying in a bureau
drawer, which I felt very unwilling to part with. My husband was from
home, so seizing the money, I quietly dropped it all in the jar of
milk. I had just finished this exploit when the soldiers entered; and
after eating in a manner that made the children fear they would next be
precipitated down their capacious throats, they began to look about for
plunder. I tried to be as composed as possible, and this, I think, kept
them a little in awe; for they were perfectly civil in words, and did no
damage, except to turn things topsy turvy. They found nothing to suit
them, till spying a very good coat of Mr. Henshaw's, one of them coolly
encased himself in it and they all walked off together." I watched them
from the window, and perceiving that they had left the gate open, I
called out after them: "Be kind enough to shut the gate, will you? I am
afraid the pigs will get in." They stopped a moment, smiled, and then
did as I requested. "Ah, Amy," said my aunt in conclusion, "the
necessity of the times was a school that taught women far more of the
realities of life than they learn now-a-days."

Aunt Henshaw fell into a long revery; and a pair of eyes, which had been
glimmering near the door for some time, suddenly disappeared, and I
heard the retreating footsteps of Holly as she took her way to the
kitchen. The little colored girl always kept her eyes and ears open, and
never lost an opportunity to gain knowledge of any description. A great
deal which she had stealthily learned was communicated to me during my
stay; and I am sorry to say that I was more hurt than benefitted by the
companionship. Aunt Henshaw, though kind, did not appear to me in the
light of a playmate, and Cousin Statia seldom opened her lips--being too
industrious to waste time in talking; so that, for want of more suitable
company, I descended to the kitchen.

The next morning, having obtained Aunt Henshaw's permission, I went out
to feed the chickens; and having drawn them near the wood-pile, I
confined my favors almost exclusively to a sober-looking hen and five
little chickens. When the pan was empty, I conceived that I had well
earned the right, and putting my hand down softly, I took up a cunning
little thing and hugged it in delight. But a terrible flapping of wings
sounded close to my ears--I could scarcely distinguish any thing--and
dropping the chicken, I fell across the chopping-log. The old hen rushed
furiously at me, and kept beating me with her wings; while I, afraid
that my eyes would be pecked out, could do nothing but scream. Some one,
at length, picked me up; and when I ventured to look around, I beheld
Sylvia, who stood beside me, laughing immoderately. Holly soon joined
the company, and even Cousin Statia seemed amused; while Aunt Henshaw
carefully examined my eyes to see that they had sustained no injury.

"I ought to have told you not to touch the chickens," said the old lady;
"for the hen would even sacrifice her life to protect them."

But experience is the best teacher, after all--the lessons thus gained,
though more disagreeable, are seldom forgotten; and I never again
meddled with the chickens.

This seemed destined, though, to be a day of misfortunes, to which the
chicken business was but a slight commencement. The evening was most
lovely, and I accompanied Holly, who bad gone to feed the pigs. A fence
separated the pen from the rest of the yard; and on this fence it was
Holly's usual practice to perch herself and watch the motions of her
charges. She looked so comfortable that I determined to follow her
example; and having gained the eminence, I looked around in triumph. But
oh, how sad to tell! but a few moments elapsed ere I found myself
floundering in the mire beneath; while the pigs all rushed towards me as
though I had been thrown there for them to make a supper of. Holly was
quite convulsed with laughter; but my screams now became terrific; and
calling Sylvia, the two extricated me from my unpleasant predicament.

I was truly a pitiable object, but my white dress was the greatest
sufferer: while the tears that rolled down my cheeks grew blacker and
blacker as they descended. I almost wished myself home again; but
Sylvia, between her paroxyms of laughter, told me "not to cry, and they
would soon make me look as good as new--any how, missus musn't see me in
such a pickle." They fell to scraping and scouring with the greatest
zeal, and then placed me before the kitchen fire to dry.

"How the pigs did run!" said Holly; "'spect, Miss Amy, they mistook you
for a little broder!"

At this sally Sylvia laughed louder than ever; but perceiving my
distress, she observed, in a kind tone: "Never mind, Miss Amy, we can't
help laughing, you know--and you'll laugh too, when you git out of this
here mess. But we do really feel sorry for you, for you look reel awful;
I only hope old missus won't come in and ketch you."

But in a few moments the kind face of Aunt Henshaw looked into the scene
of distress which the kitchen had now become, and surprise at my
appearance rendered her almost speechless. But she soon recovered
herself; and under her direction I was immersed in a tub of water, while
my unfortunate clothes were consigned to the same fate. After this
ceremony I was advised to go to bed; and thither I accordingly repaired,
thinking how forlorn it was to fall into the pig-pen on such a beautiful

The whole household seemed disposed to bear in mind that unfortunate
occurrence; when about to fall into mischief, Aunt Henshaw would say in
a peculiar tone: "Remember the pig-pen, Amy!" or, when troubling Sylvia,
it would be; "I guess you learned that in the pig-pen, Miss Amy;" and
even Holly took up the burden of the song, till I heartily wished that
she had taken the plunge instead of myself. Before long they all
discovered that I was very prone to such scrapes; I dropped a very nice
hat down the well, which, for fear of its spoiling the water, they spent
a great deal of time in fishing up--I fell from the mow, but fortunately
sustained no injury; and Sylvia one day caught me skimming off the
cream--an amusement which I considered very innocent, but she speedily
undeceived me.


Two or three weeks passed on very pleasantly, and I began to think it
time to write a letter home. I had made but little progress in the art,
and letter-writing always appeared to me a great undertaking; but Aunt
Henshaw, having one afternoon provided me with pen, ink, and paper, and
elevated me nicely with the large Bible and my "Pilgrim's Progress," I
sat biting the end of my quill, and pondering over some form of
commencement. I had already written "dear mother" at the top; at length
I added after considerable reflection:

"I am well, and hope that you are the same. It is very pleasant here. No
more at present from

Your affectionate Daughter,


Aunt Henshaw pronounced this "very well--what was of it;" and Cousin
Statia smiled, though I could not well why; but her smiles were so few
and far between that they always set me a wondering. The letter was
sealed, however, and enclosed in a larger one of Aunt Henshaw's, who
probably gave a more detailed account of matters and things than I had

In the meantime, I was fast regaining the blooming, hoyden appearance
most natural to me; and Aunt Henshaw continued to write glowing accounts
of my improvement. In due time my scrawl was answered by a most
affectionate letter from mamma, to which was added a postscript by my
father; and I began to rise wonderfully in my own estimation, in
consequence of having letters addressed entirely to myself. I even
undertook to correct Sylvia for speaking ungrammatically, which made her
very angry; and she took occasion to observe, that she had not lived so
long in the world to be taught grammar by young ladies who fell into
pig-pens. One great source of amusement at Henshaw's, was to watch
Sylvia making cheeses. Sometimes she allowed me to make small ones,
which I pressed with geranium leaves; but one day, being a little out of
humor, she refused to let me have the rennet unless I could find it.--I
searched through the kitchen and everywhere for it, and spent the whole
morning in looking, till I almost despaired of finding it; but at length
I pushed aside a tub, and there it was. This was one of Sylvia's
peculiarities. She was an excellent servant, and having been a long time
in the family, Aunt Henshaw allowed her to have pretty much her own way.
Sylvia was not wanting in sense, and often, when the old lady thought
she had obtained the better of the dispute, she was, in reality,
yielding to the sagacity of the colored woman. Holly was a sort of
satellite, and evidently quite in awe of her superior; but Sylvia
regarded her as the very quintescence of laziness, and always delighted
to set her at some interminable job. It was much more to Holly's taste
to look after the cows and pigs, and wander about the premises, than to
wash dishes and peel potatoes; but she dared not resist the cook's

One Sunday morning I was left at home, in consequence of not being well,
with strict injunctions not to get into mischief; while Aunt Henshaw,
Cousin Statia, and Sylvia went to church--the superintendence of the
house being placed in Holly's charge. I settled myself by the parlor
window with my "Pilgrim's Progress" and pursued the thread of
Christian's adventures; while I glanced from time to time on the
prospect without, while the hum of the locusts and lowing of the cows
came borne upon my ear like pleasant sounds. I laid down my book to read
a chapter in the Bible, and was enjoying a very pleasant frame of mind
when the tempter came, in the shape of Holly, and beckoned me into the

Nothing loath, I followed eagerly; and the colored girl proposed that we
should have a small baking. The fire had been carefully put out in the
kitchen, and we concluded to make one on bricks in the yard. After
puffing and blowing with considerable energy, Holly kindled a flame;
and we then concluded to mix up some gingerbread, and bake it in
clam-shells As I heard the monotonous hum of the bees, and remarked the
stillness around, while everything seemed to speak of the Sabbath, my
conscience reproached me; and I was several times on the point of
turning back into the parlor, but I lacked sufficient courage to resist
Holly's glowing descriptions of our gingerbread that was to be. The
store-room closet was pretty dark, and Holly was obliged to go by
guess-work in selecting her materials, but all seemed right; and in
triumph we placed several clam-shells of dough on the fire to bake. We
worked very hard to keep up the flames, but the baking progressed
slowly; and we dreaded to hear the sound of wheels that announced the
return of the church-goers. It was done at last, and we sat down to
enjoy the feast. I broke off a piece, and put it in my mouth, expecting
to find a delicious morsel, but it had a very queer taste; and I saw
that Holly was surveying it with an appearance of the greatest

"What is the matter?" said I, "What have you done to it, Holly?"

"Well, I guess I've put in lime instead of flour," she replied.

It was but too true; and just then we heard the sound of wheels, and a
vigorous lifting of the great brass knocker. Holly hurriedly cleared
away all signs of our employment, and then opened the door; while I
returned to my books, convinced that the poorest time to make
gingerbread was on Sunday, and in the dark. But Aunt Henshaw discovered
our proceedings through Sylvia, who complained that some one had dropped
molasses in the lime; which she soon traced to Holly, and I was never
left home again on Sunday, alone.

"Once," said Aunt Henshaw, when I had, as usual, solicited a story,
"there was a report that the British were about to sack New London. The
city was a scene of hurry and confusion. Carriages were driving hither
and thither, laden with silver plate and other valuables, which the
owners were glad to place in the hands of any respectable-looking
stranger they met, for safe-keeping. Several pieces were placed in our
carriage; among others a handsome silver tankard and half-a-dozen
goblets, which were never reclaimed. I have always kept them to this

She showed me these articles, which were extremely rich and massive, and
the old lady always kept them carefully locked in a capacious
side-board; never taking them out except to look at.

"Aunt Henshaw, did you ever see a lord?" I inquired.

"Plenty of them," was her reply, "lords were as thick as blackberries
during the Revolution."

"How did they look?" said I.

"Very much like other people--and often pretty distressed."

I was then surprised at this information, but I have since learned
better; for I have seen the House of Lords in England, and they are, for
the most part, a common, uninteresting-looking assembly.

"There was a Lord Spencer," continued my aunt, "a very wild young man,
who was constantly committing some prank or other--though always
strictly honorable in repairing any damages he occasioned. He once, for
mere sport, shot a fine colt, belonging to an old farmer, as he was
quietly grazing in the field. Even his companions remonstrated with him,
and endeavored to prevent the mischief; but he laid them a wager that he
should not only escape punishment, but that he would even make the old
farmer perfectly satisfied with his conduct. They accepted his bet, and
anxious to see how he would extricate himself, they accompanied him to
the residence of the old farmer.

"That is a very fine colt of yours," began the young lord, "I should
like to purchase him."

"He is not for sale," replied the farmer, shortly.

"I suppose not," rejoined the visitor. "But what would you value him at
in case any accident happened to him through the carelessness of others?
What sum would pay you for it?"

"A hundred dollars would cover his value," said the farmer, after some
consideration, "but has any thing happened to him, that you ask these

"Yes," replied the lord, "I have unfortunately shot him--and here is two
hundred dollars as an equivalent."

Lord Spencer won his wager, for the farmer had made at least a hundred
dollars, and being extremely fond of money, he could not regret the loss
of his colt. "This is a specimen, Amy, of what lords are; so do not go to
forming any exalted notions of them, as of a superior race of beings. It
was very cruel in Lord Spencer to shoot the poor animal--but it was
honorable in him to make up the farmer's loss, for it doubled the amount
of wages he gained; yet to sum up the proceeding, it was wrong--for
besides killing an inoffensive animal, it did not belong to him."

Aunt Henshaw seldom failed to point out the right and wrong in her
stories, for she feared that I would be carried away with whatever was
most dazzling, and thus form erroneous impressions. It is an excellent
maxim that "people should be just before they are generous;" and did all
bear this in mind while admiring actions that often dazzle with a false
glitter, they would assume a totally different appearance.

Every few days there was an inundation of different cousins who lived
but a few miles distant; and then there was so much shaking of great
rough hands, as I was presented--so many comments on my appearance, and
comparison of each separate feature with each of my parents--that I grew
almost afraid to look up under the many eyes that were bent upon me to
detect resemblances to the Henshaws, Chesburys, or Farringtons--which
last was my mother's maiden name. I became quite tired of telling people
when I arrived, how long I intended to stay, and how many brothers and
sisters I had. They were all very kind, though, and invited me so
politely to come and see them that I quite wanted to go; and Aunt
Henshaw promised to return their visits very soon, and bring me with

So one fine day we set forth on a visit to Cousin Ben's--a son of the
identical Uncle Ben to whose house Cousin Statia walked with her two
little brothers, on that cold November night. She pointed out the road
as we passed, showed me the very place where she had wrapped her own
cloak around her brother, the spot where they stopped to rub their hands
warm, and a cross-road which they came very near taking. The house was
plain, but pleasantly situated; and as we drove up to the door, Cousin
Ben, his wife, and two or three children about my own age, came out to
meet us. There was very little reserve among these country cousins; and
before long, I was on as good terms with my play-mates as though I had
known them all my life. We raced out into the fields, and feasted on
sugar-pears, which were then just ripe; and I found, to my surprise,
that my female cousins were quite as expert at climbing trees as the
boys. I began to feel deficient in accomplishments; but I was not
sufficiently a hoyden to follow their example, and could only perform
the part of an admiring spectator.

A very quiet-looking old horse was grazing near by, and my cousins
proposed that we should have a ride. I surveyed the great tall animal
with dismay, and was frightened at the idea of being perched on his
back; but the boys lifted me up, and five of us were soon mounted, ready
for a start. It was our intention to proceed in this triumphant manner
to the woods to gather berries; but our proposed conductor evidently
disapproved the projected excursion, for, with a sudden kick-up behind,
he sent us all five rolling on the grass. My white frock was the
sufferer as usual; and scarcely any evil that has befallen me since,
ever affected me more than would the dreaded spot that always appeared
in the most conspicuous place whenever I was dressed up. It was always
the herald of speedy disgrace, either in the shape of being sent
supperless to bed, or deprived of going out next day. Mammy was
particularly severe on such occasions; it was provoking to be sure,
after taking the pains to dress me nicely, to find all her work spoiled
within the next fifteen minutes; but I did think it was not my fault,
and wondered how it always happened. My new companions could not
understand my distress in consequence of this accident; and with
trembling steps I went in to Aunt Henshaw, expecting to be kept by her
side for the rest of the day, and never brought out again.

What was my surprise when, after examining the spot, she said, in a tone
which sounded like music in my ears: "Well child, you couldn't help it,
and it is well you were not hurt. After all, white dresses are poor
things for children to play in, and this is only fit for the wash-tub
now. But this is not quite so bad as the pig-pen--eh, Amy?"

The color mounted quickly into my face at these last words, and gladly
obeying her injunction to "go, play now," I bounded from the room; while
Aunt Henshaw, I suppose, enlightened the company as to the meaning of
her question, and my evident confusion. Oh, if people did but know the
effect of kind words, especially when harshness is expected! I never
enjoyed romping so much in all my life as on that afternoon; Aunt
Henshaw had pronounced my dress "fit only for the wash-tub," and I
thought that before it proceeded thither, it might just as well be a
little more soiled as not. So we rolled about on the grass, climbed over
fences, and rambled through the woods without fear or restraint. With a
light and happy heart I set out on the journey home, congratulating
myself that I was not then to encounter the eagle eyes of Mammy.

Aunt Henshaw, though perfectly willing that I should enjoy myself at
play, did not approve of my spending my whole time in idleness; and
under her superintendence, I felt more disposed to work than I ever had
before. With her assistance I completed several articles of dress for a
sister of Sylvia's, who was very poor, and lived in a sort of hovel near
by; and the indefatigable Holly having again discovered the kittens in
some equally out-of-the-way place, I at last, with a great deal of
difficulty, succeeded in manufacturing a warm suit of clothes for the
winter wear of the prettiest one. Having equipped the kitten in its new
habiliments, I carried it to Aunt Henshaw, as quite a triumph of art;
but when I made my appearance, with the two little ears poking out of
the bonnet, and the tail quite visible through a hole in the skirt which
I had cut for it, Cousin Statia actually indulged in a hearty fit of
laughter, while Aunt Henshaw appeared even more amused. She told me
that nature had furnished it with a covering quite sufficient to protect
it from the cold; but I thought that it must then be a great deal too
warm in summer, and had just commenced fanning it, when she explained to
me that the fur was a great deal thinner in summer than in winter. This
satisfied me; and releasing the astonished kitten from its numerous
wrappers, I presented them to Holly, and gave up all idea of furnishing
it with a wardrobe.


At Aunt Henshaw's, my passion for rummaging drawers and boxes of
knickknacks was abundantly gratified. The old lady fairly over-flowed
with the milk of human kindness, and allowed me to put her things in
disorder as often as I chose. There was an album quilt, among her
possessions, which I never grew tired of admiring. The pieces were all
of an octagon shape, arranged in little circles of different colors; and
in the centre of each circle was a piece of white muslin, on which was
written in tiny characters the name of the person who had made the
circle, and two lines of poetry. This album quilt was a good many years
old; and had been made by the ladies of the neighborhood, as a tribute
of respect to Aunt Henshaw, on account of her many acts of bravery and
presence of mind during the trying times of the Revolution.

The old lady was never weary of describing the grand quilting, which
took place in an old stone barn on the premises; when they all came at
one o'clock, and sitting down to work, scarcely spoke a word until six,
when the quilt was triumphantly pronounced to be completed; and taking
it from the frame, they proceeded to arrange a large table, set out with
strawberries and cream, dough-nuts, chickens, cider, and almost every
incongruous eatable that could be mentioned. Washington was then
President, and after drinking his health in cider, coffee, and tea,
which last was then a very precious commodity, being served in cups
exactly the size of a doll's set, they all in turn related stories or
personal anecdotes of the great General, of whom Aunt Henshaw never
spoke without the greatest reverence and enthusiasm. He died when I was
very young, so that I never saw him; but I have visited his tomb, and
his residence at Mount Vernon, and have also seen portraits of him that
were pronounced to be life-like by those who were intimately acquainted
with him.

Aunt Henshaw had actually entertained La Fayette at her house for a
whole night, and she showed me the very room he slept in; while Cousin
Statia produced an album in which he had written his name. I always
experienced a burning desire to possess some memento of the
distinguished men whose names are woven in the annals of our country;
and seating myself at the table with the album before me, I spent
several hours in trying to copy the illustrious autograph. But all my
efforts were vain; I could produce nothing like it, and was obliged to
return the book to its favored owner.

I delighted to spell out the album quilt until I knew almost every line
by heart; while the curious medley which these different scraps of
poetry presented reminded me very much of a play, in which one person
repeats a line, to which another must find a rhyme. When Aunt Henshaw
died, which was just about the time that I was grown up, she left the
quilt to me in her will; because, as she said. I had always been so
fond of it. I still have it carefully packed away, and regard it as
quite a treasure.

But very often, during a voyage of discoveries through rooms that were
seldom used, I passed various boxes, and awkward-looking little trunks,
and curious baskets, that struck me as being particularly interesting in
appearance. But Aunt Henshaw always said: "Those are Statia's--we must
not touch them," and passed quickly on, without in the least indulging
my excited curiosity. Whether Cousin Statia kept wild animals, or
mysterious treasures, or old clothes, in all these places, I was unable
to conclude; but I determined to find out if possible. Having one day
accompanied her upstairs, she proceeded to unlock a large trunk which I
had always regarded with longing eyes; and opening them very wide, that
I might take in as much as possible in a hasty survey, what was my
disappointment to see her take out a couple of linen pillow-cases,
nicely ruffled, while at least a dozen or two more remained, together
with a corresponding number of sheets, table-cloths, napkins, &c.! All
of home-made manufacture, and seeming to my youthful ideas enough to
last a life-time. What could Cousin Statia possibly do with all these
things? Or what had she put them there for? I knew that Aunt Henshaw
possessed inexhaustible stores, and I could not imagine why Cousin
Statia found it necessary to have her's separate. I pondered the matter
over for two or three days, and then concluded to apply to Holly for
information on the desired point.

"Why, lor bless you!" said the colored girl in a mysterious manner,
"Didn't you know that Miss Statia has been crossed in love?"

Holly announced this fact as a sufficiently explanatory one; but I could
not comprehend what connection there was between being crossed in love,
and a large trunk of bran new things.

"Why, I quite pities your ignorance, Miss Amy! In old times," continued
my informant, as though dwelling on her own particular virtue in this
respect, "in old times people didn't used to be half so lazy as they am
now-a-days, and thought nothing at all of sewing their fingers to the
bone, or spinning their nails off, or knittin' forever; and when gals
growed up, and had any thoughts of gittin' married, they set to work and
made hull trunks full of things, and people used to call them spinsters.
Now Miss Statia has been fillin' trunks and baskets ever sense she could
do anything, so that she's got a pretty likely stock--but no one ever
came along this way but what was married already, and that's the meanin'
of bein' crossed in love. But don't for your life go to tellin'
nobody--they'd most chop my head off, if it should come out."

I asked Holly how she had ascertained the fact; "Oh," she replied,
knowingly, "there ain't much that escapes me. I know pretty much every
article in this house, and hear whatever's goin' on. Key-holes is a
great convenience; and though it ain't very pleasant to be squatin' in
cold entries, and fallin' in the room sometimes, when people open the
door without no warnin', yet I'm often there when they think I'm safe in
the kitchin. Miss Statia once boxed my ears and sent me to bed, when she
happened to ketch me listinin'; but it didn't smart much, and people
can't 'spect to gather roses without thistles."

Holly often interspersed her conversation with various quotations and
wise reflections; but the idea of listening at key-holes quite shocked
my sense of honor, and I endeavored to remonstrate with her upon the

"It won't do for you to talk so, Miss Amy," was her sagacious reply;
"you mus'n't quarrel with the ship that carries you safe over. If I had
not listened at key-holes, you'd never have known what was in them

The truth of this remark was quite manifest; and concluding that I was
not exactly suited to the character of admonisher, I never renewed the

Aunt Henshaw had boxes of old letters which she estimated among her
greatest valuables; and sometimes, when the sun was shining brightly
without, and the soft air of summer waving the trees gently to and fro,
the old lady would invite me in a mysterious manner to her room, and
drawing forth an almost endless package, open letter after letter, and
read to me the correspondence of people whom I cared nothing about. I
tried very hard to suppress all signs of yawning, for I wanted to be out
at play; but I must have been ungrateful not to exercise a little
patience with one so kind and affectionate, and she, dear old soul!
evidently considered it the greatest treat she could offer me. I became
in this manner acquainted with the whole history of her courtship; and
charmed with so quiet a listener, she would read to me till I fairly
fell asleep. But her thoughts being entirely occupied with the past, and
her eyes in endeavoring to decipher the faded hand-writing, this
inattention passed unobserved; and she pursued her reading until called
off by her daily duties.

Dear old lady! how often have I watched her when she was asleep, as with
the neat white frill of her cap partially shading her face, she sat in
the large chair with her hands folded together, and her spectacles lying
on the book in her lap. She looked so pure and calm that I sometimes
felt afraid that she might be dead, like old people I had heard of who
died quietly in their sleep; but I could not bear the idea, and a
feeling of inexpressible relief would come over me when I beheld the
lids slowly rise again from the mild eyes that were ever bent lovingly
upon me.

She bad a box piled with rolls of manuscript containing poetry, which
she told me she had taken great pleasure in composing. "Saturday
nights," said she, "when everything was in order, and, the next day
being Sunday, I had no household cares to think of, I would amuse myself
in composing verses that were seldom shown to any one. Mr. Henshaw was a
most excellent man and a kind husband, but he had no taste for poetry,
and considered it a great waste of time. Another thing that helped to
set him against it was an unfortunate poem that I composed on the event
of a marriage that took place in the neighborhood. The gentleman had
courted the lady for a number of years without success; and after
praising his constancy, I dwelt on the beauteous Eliza's charms, and
said something about winning the goal at last. But they were very much
offended; they supposed that I was ridiculing them, and said that I had
represented them as doing a great many foolish things which they had
never thought of. There was no use in attempting to pacify them--I had
thrown away my poetry where it was not appreciated; and Mr. Henshaw
exclaimed in a tone of annoyance: 'Now do, I beg of you, never let me
see you again at the writing-desk! You have done as much mischief with
your pen as other women accomplish with their tongues.' So I never sent
poetry again to other people; but whenever I felt lonely, I sat down and
wrote, and it has really been a great comfort to me. One of these days,
Amy, I shall give this all to you."

When I returned home, the poetry was carefully laid in the bottom of my
trunk; but I have my suspicions that for sometime after Jane kindled the
nursery fire with it. While looking over her things one day. Aunt
Henshaw showed me an old-fashioned pair of ear-rings, which I admired
very much.

"I intended to give these to you, Amy," said she, "but I see that your
ears have not been pierced."

"Why, I thought those holes always grew in people's ears!" said I, in
surprise. "Have I none in mine?"

"No," she replied, "they are always made with a needle, or some sharp

"Does it hurt?" I inquired.

"Not much," was her reply, and so the subject dropped, but I still
pursued it in thought.

I fancied myself decked with the ear-rings, and the pleasure I should
experience in showing them to Mammy and Jane; but then on the other
hand, the idea of the needle was anything but agreeable, for I could not
bear the least pain. I wavered for sometime between the advantages and
disadvantages of the operation. This state of mind led me to notice
people's ears much more than I had formerly done; and perceiving that
Sylvia's were adorned with a pair of large gold hoops, I applied to her
for advice.

"Why, Miss Amy!" she exclaimed, in surprise, "you are real shaller, if
you don't have your ears bored after that! Why, I'd made a hole in my
nose in half a minit, if somebody'd only give me a gold ring to put
through it!"

"Who bored _your_ ears, Sylvia?" said I at length.

"Why, I did it myself, to be sure. Any body can do that--jest take a
needle and thread and draw it right through."

I shuddered involuntarily; but just then Sylvia moved her head a little,
and the rings shook and glittered so fascinatingly that I resolved to
become a martyr to the cause of vanity. The colored woman having agreed
to perform the office, and Aunt Henshaw and Statia being out for the
afternoon, I seated myself on a chair with my back against the dresser;
while Sylvia mounted the few steps that led to her sleeping-room in
order to search for a needle, and Holly endeavored to keep up my courage
by representing the fascinating appearance I should present when
decorated with ear-rings.

Sylvia soon came down, with needle, and thread, and cork; while I began
to tremble and turn pale on perceiving the instruments of torture. I had
quite forgotten how disagreeable needles felt in the flesh; and Sylvia's
first attempt was brought to a sudden end by a loud scream, which would
certainly have roused the neighbors had there been any near.

"Now, Miss Amy!" she exclaimed, "I had your ear almost bored then. But
if you're going to cut up such didos I shall leave off directly--it
ain't no such great fun for me."

She was going up stairs with a very resolute air, and again the
ear-rings flashed and glittered; and having by this time lost the acute
sense of pain, I called her back and begged her to proceed.

"Now mind," said she, "if you holler again, I'll jest stop at once."

I glued my lips firmly together, while she again adjusted the cork and
needle; but I could hardly bear it, and trembled like an aspen leaf. One
ear was soon pierced, while I felt the needle in every part of my frame;
and Sylvia was proceeding to do the other, but I jumped up suddenly,
exclaiming: "Oh Sylvia! I cannot have the other one bored! It will kill

"Well, I wouldn't if I was you, Miss Amy," said she, "cos you can hang
both rings in one ear, you know--and that'll look real beautiful, won't
it, Holly?"

Holly burst into a loud fit of laughter, and through the effects of
ridicule, I submitted a second time to the infliction. But it was
impossible to endure the suffering any longer; the color gradually
faded from my face, and just as Sylvia concluded, she found that I had
fainted. The two were very much frightened, and after almost drowning me
with water, they lifted me up and carried me to my own bed. Aunt Henshaw
soon came home, and her horror at my situation was only equalled by her
astonishment. Sylvia did not tell her the cause of my sudden illness;
but she soon discovered it by a glance at my ears which were much
inflamed and swollen, having been pierced in a very bungling manner.
Sylvia received such a severe reprimand that she was almost angry enough
to leave on the spot; but she had only erred through ignorance, and I
succeeded at length in reconciling her mistress.

"But, my dear Amy," said the kind old lady, as she sat down beside me,
"Why is it that you are always getting into some trouble if left to
yourself for ever so short a time? You cannot tell the pain it gives me.
Why, an account of your various scrapes since you have been here would
almost fill a book."

What could I reply? It was a natural and most unfortunate propensity
which displayed itself everywhere; as well with Mammy in the precincts
of the nursery, as when roaming about at Aunt Henshaw's.

"But the ear-rings?" said I. "You will give them to me now, will you
not? I should _so_ much like to have them!"

"And so you shall have them, dear," replied Aunt Henshaw. "It would he
cruel to refuse them after your suffering so much for them. But I never
would have mentioned them had I had any idea of such an unfortunate

Supposing that it would please me, she got them out of the case and laid
them beside me. They were very pretty, to be sure, but oh! how much
suffering those ear-rings caused me! My poor ears were very sore for a
long time, and I would sit for hours leaning my head on a pillow, in
hopes of easing the pain. And yet, when they were at last well, and the
ear-rings really in, I almost forgot what I had suffered in the delight
I experienced at my supposed transformation. They were the admiration of
the kitchen; and even Aunt Henshaw and Cousin Statia allowed that
ear-rings were a great improvement; and I began to think that on my
return home they would even throw Ellen Tracy's curls into the shade.

The summer was passing away--harvest had come and gone; and while the
others were engaged during this busy season, I was to be seen perched on
every load of hay, from which I had of course two or three tumbles, but
always on some pile beneath. The kittens had grown large and awkward,
and consequently lost my favor; while the cat no longer put herself to
the trouble of hiding them, so that I could now have them whenever I
chose--coming like most other privileges when no longer desired. The
evenings were getting chilly, so that a fire was very acceptable; and I
loved to sit by the bright flame before the candles were brought in, and
listen to Aunt Henshaw's stories.

"Now," said I one evening when we had all comfortably arranged ourselves
to spend the twilight in doing nothing, "do tell me a very interesting
story, Aunt Henshaw--for you know that I am going home soon, and perhaps
it is the last that I shall hear."

"Well," said she with a smile, "if it is to be so very interesting, I
must think very hard first."

Cousin Statia had been looking towards the door, when she suddenly
inquired: "Did you ever tell her about the bullet hole?"

"Why, no," replied the old lady, "I do not believe I ever did. Have you
noticed the round hole in the front door, Amy?"

I replied in the negative; and taking me into the hall, she led the way
to the front door which opened in two parts, and in the upper half I
distinctly perceived a bullet hole which had been made by the British;
and it was the story attached to this very hole which she was about to
tell me.

"Well, one night," said she, "a long while ago, I sat by the fire with
the baby in my arms, while the other children were playing around. The
two women servants were in the kitchen, and Mr. Henshaw had taken the
men several miles off, on some business relating to the farm. It was
just about this time, before the candles were lit; and one of the women
came in to tell me that five British soldiers were approaching the

"Fasten all the doors then," said I, "and let no one enter unless I
give you permission."

The doors were well fastened up, and before long I heard them knocking
with the ends of their muskets. I let them knock for some time; but at
length I raised an upper window, and asked them what they wanted.

"We want some supper," they replied, "and will probably stay all night."

"It is not in my power to accommodate you." I replied, as coolly as
possible, "nor do I feel willing to admit any visitors in the absence of
my husband."

"If you do not admit us soon we will break the door down!" they

"Of that I am not much afraid," said I; "it is too well secured."

I withdrew from the window, and for half an hour they tried various
means of effecting an entrance, but it was impossible. I approached the
window again, and they called out: "If you do not have the door opened,
we shall certainly fire!"

"Do so," I replied; "there is no one to injure by it except helpless
women and children."

I did not suppose they would do it--I thought it was intended only for
a threat; and was therefore as much surprised as any of the others, when
a bullet came whizzing through the front door, and passing through a
pane of glass in an opposite window, fell into the yard. A dreadful
scream arose from the servants, and perhaps frightened for the effects,
or perceiving my husband and the men, they made a hasty retreat; and I
was just ready to sink from fright when Mr. Henshaw came in. He told me
never to stop up the bullet-hole, but to leave it to show what women
were made of in the Revolution.


Cousin Statia had completed her winter's knitting, Aunt Henshaw began to
make pumpkin pies, and the period of my visit was rapidly drawing to a
close. The letters from home grew more and more solicitous for my
return, and at last the day was fixed. I felt anxious to see them all
again, and yet rather sorry to lay aside my present state of freedom. I
had quite escaped from leading-strings, and found it very pleasant to
follow the bent of my inclination as I had done at Aunt Henshaw's; but
absence had banished all memory of the thorns I had sometimes
encountered in my career at home, and I thought only of the roses--the
idea of change being also a great inducement.

Holly and I had passed whole afternoons in gathering hazel-nuts which
grew near a fence not far from the house; and having filled a very
respectable-sized bag with them, I felt quite impatient at the idea of
returning home well-laden with supplies, like any prudent housekeeper.
Aunt Henshaw was to accompany me, and selecting some of her choicest
produce, and an immense bunch of herbs, as antidotes for all the aches
and ills which human flesh is heir to, on a bright, glowing September
morning, we set forward on my homeward journey. "Blessings brighten as
they leave us;" and although I had been considered the torment of the
whole household, all regretted my departure, and begged me to come soon

"Now, Miss Amy," said Sylvia, as I was taking a long private farewell in
the kitchen, "jest take a piece of advice from an old colored woman what
has lived longer in the world than you have, and roasted chickens and
fried sassages ever sense she can remember. Buckwheat cakes is very
good, but to keep your own counsel is a heap better--so when you go home
don't you go to telling about that ere pig-pen business, or the time
when the old hen flewed at you, or tumbling off the old horse. People
that don't say nothin' often gits credit for bein' quite sensible, and
p'raps you can deceive 'em too; for you'll be kind o' made a fuss with
when you fust get home, and if you don't let on about all these here
scrapes they'll think more of you."

Sylvia's advice struck me as being very sensible, and I therefore
resolved to act upon it, and endeavor to make them consider me quite a
different character from the hoyden Amy. I kissed Cousin Statia, who
took up her sewing as calmly as though nothing of any importance was
about to occur; and having delighted Holly's eyes with a bright ribbon
in which all the colors of the rainbow seemed combined, I presented
Sylvia with a collar worked by myself, and passed out to the stage,
which was waiting for us. Our journey home was quite an uneventful one;
and the wind being more favorable, we were not so long on the passage.

My parents were watching for us with anxious solicitude; but when the
door opened in bounded a wild, blooming hoyden, in whose sparkling eyes
and glowing cheeks they could detect no trace of the delicate invalid.
Henry and Fred, with a troop of younger brothers, stood ready to devour
me with kisses; but Mammy, rushing impulsively forward, pushed them all
aside, and cried and laughed over me alternately, while she almost
crushed me with the violence of her affection. Before I was well seated,
Fred spied out the bag of hazel-nuts; and a vigorous sound of cracking
informed me that the work of devastation had already commenced.

How they all stared at my ear-rings! But mamma turned pale and burst
into tears; while I stood still, feeling very uncomfortable, and yet not
being exactly aware of the manner in which I had displeased her. Aunt
Henshaw, however, with a minute accuracy that struck me as being
painfully correct, related every circumstance connected with that
unfortunate business, from her finding me extended on the bed to the
time when the rings were placed in my ears.

"Oh Amy! how could you!" exclaimed my mother; "I have always despised
the barbarous practice of making holes in the flesh for the sake of
ornament," she continued, "but to have them pierced by an ignorant
colored woman! Come here, child, and let me look at your ears. They are
completely spoiled!" she exclaimed, "the holes are one-sided, and close
to the very bone! What is to be done?"

Aunt Henshaw suggested that it would be better to let those grow up, and
have others made in the right place; but I still retained a vivid
recollection of that scene of torture, and did not therefore feel
willing to have it repeated. But the ear-rings must come out--they were
no ornament all one-sided; so they were laid away in cotton, while I had
the pleasure of reflecting on the suffering I had endured for nothing.
Being thus brought down at the very commencement of my attempt to be
sensible, and finding it less trouble to resume my natural character, I
concluded to disregard Sylvia's well-meant advice. I was very poor at
keeping a secret; so one by one all the scrapes in which I had figured
came to light, to the great horror of the others, and the delight of
Fred, who was quite pleased to discover a congenial soul.

Mammy at length seized upon me again, and carrying me almost by force
to the nursery, she locked the door and sat down beside me; determined,
as she said, to have me to herself for a while. Having requested an
account of all the adventures I had met with, she listened with the most
absorbed attention while I unfolded the various circumstances of my
visit. Mammy was sometimes amused, sometimes frightened, and often
shocked, but generally for the dignity of the family; for as I had been
its representative, she feared that it would suffer in the eyes of the
country people.

Time passed on; Aunt Henshaw returned home, and things proceeded in
their usual way. My vanity was flattered by the increased attention
which I met with on all sides; my parents appeared to consider me much
less of a child since my return, and I was in consequence almost
emancipated from the nursery; while Mammy and Jane no longer chided me
for my misdemeanors--which, to say the truth, were much less frequent
than formerly.

But I soon after experienced a great source of regret in the departure
of Ellen Tracy for boarding-school. Not being an only daughter like
myself, her parents could better spare her; but we were almost
inconsolable at parting, and having shed abundance of tears, presented
each other with keepsakes as mementos of our unchanging friendship. Hers
was a little china cup, which I have kept to this day, while I gave her
a ring made of my own hair; so that, for want of Ellen's company, I was
obliged to take up with her brother's; and the boys complained that I
kept Charles so much to myself it was impossible to make him join any of
their excursions.

It was my twelfth birthday; and on the evening of that day I feared that
Mammy's oft-repeated threat of leaving us, at which we had so often
trembled in our younger days, was about to be verified. A married sister
was taken very ill, and Mammy was immediately sent for to take care of
her; and indeed we were afraid that she would be obliged to stay there
altogether, on account of her nephews and nieces. How dreary the nursery
seemed after her departure! In vain did the good-natured Jane exert
herself to tell her most amusing stories; they had lost their interest;
and yielding to her feelings, she became at length as dull as any of us.

In about a week Mammy returned; but we could see that she was changed;
her sister had died and left five children but illy provided for.
Through the influence of my father, different situations were obtained
for the three eldest; while the old nurse, with the assistance of
occasional charity, supported the two younger ones. But Mammy had
suffered from sleepless nights, and rooms but illy warmed; and her own
health failed during her ceaseless watch by the bedside of her sister.
We did not know exactly what it was, but felt very sure that Mammy
seemed no longer like the same person.

Children who are kept at a distance by their parents and elders, often
have very queer thoughts, whose existence no one imagines. I do not
think I was an ordinary child; and notwithstanding my hoyden nature had
a very thoughtful turn of mind. I well recollect, on being once sent
early to bed for some misdemeanor I bribed my brother Fred to accompany
me; and waking up during the night, the saying that "he who goes to bed
in anger has the devil for his bed-fellow" came across my mind, and
impressed me so strongly that I caught hold of Fred's foot to ascertain
whether it was so disagreeable a guest, or my own madcap brother who was
lying beside me. Even the kick I received in return was rather welcome
than otherwise, as it proved beyond a doubt that it was really the
veritable Fred.

But what has this to do with Mammy? you ask. A great deal, I can assure
you; for I began to fear that it was not the old nurse who had returned
to us, but some strange being, who, having assumed her appearance, had
not been able altogether to imitate her manner. So I kept myself aloof,
and felt afraid to venture too close; but she grew thinner and paler,
and my mother relieved her from all care of the children.

I slept in a small closet that opened into the nursery; and calling me
very softly one night, she said, "Miss Amy, will you bring me a pitcher
of water? I know they would not let me have it," she continued as I
attempted to remonstrate with her, "but I am determined not to die

I was very much frightened, but I could not see her suffer with thirst;
and bringing her a large pitcher of water, she drank almost half of it
at once. "Now place it on a chair where I can reach it," said she, "and
go back to bed--I shall be better soon."

I did as she requested, and, childlike, soon fell asleep again. The old
nurse too slept--but hers was the sleep that knows no waking. They came
in the next morning and found her dead. Her features were peaceful as
though she had died calmly, and beside her stood the pitcher empty. She
always said that if she should ever be ill, she _would_ have water--she
would drink till she died, and she had literally done so. We all felt
very sad, and Fred broke forth into loud screams, on being told of her

It was my first realization of death--the first corpse I had ever seen;
and as I knelt beside the coffin, where the pale hands that lay
cross-folded on the breast, the motionless features, and the dreadful
stillness of the whole figure, spoke eloquently of the change that had
taken place, I thought of my many acts of wilfulness, ingratitude, and
unkindness, which had often pained the loving heart that had now forever
ceased to beat. Could I but see those still features again animated with
life, I felt that never again would my tongue utter aught but words of
kindness; but it was now too late for amendment--there was nothing left
me but repentance.

My parents too grieved at her death; she had been in the family so long
that they were loathe to miss the old familiar face from its post in the
nursery. She was buried from our own house; and there were more true
mourners at her funeral than often fall to the lot of the great and


"Papa, have you any relations?" I asked one evening rather suddenly,
after pondering over the subject and wondering why it was that our
family consisted of no one but papa, and mamma, and us children; while
other people always had aunts, or uncles, or cousins living with them.
We had plenty, to be sure, who came and made visits at different times;
but I meant some one to live with us altogether.

"What a curious question!" said my father, smiling, "And how suddenly
you bolted out with it, Amy, after at least half an hour's silence. You
must have thought deeply on the subject, but what put it into your head
just now?"

Not knowing exactly what to say, I wisely remained silent; and turning
to my mother, he continued in a low tone: "Do you know that this random
question of Amy's has awakened some not very welcome reminiscences, and
pointed out a line of duty which does not promise much pleasure beyond
the consciousness of doing right? I ought to invite an addition to the
family without delay."

"Are you joking, or in earnest?" inquired my mother, "And if in earnest,
pray whom do you refer to?"

"You will soon find it to be most solid, substantial earnest," rejoined
my father, "for I must this very evening write a letter to Mrs.
Chesbury, senior, the step-mother of whom you have heard me speak,
inviting her to spend the summer with us. She has, you know, resided at
the South since my father's death, occasionally visiting her relatives
at the North; and as we have never yet been honored with her company,
that pleasure is still in store for us. My recollections of her, to be
sure, are not so very delightful. She was very severe in her discipline,
and continually checked my pleasures and enjoyments, which she usually
exchanged for some long, heavy, incomprehensible task; and at the first
blunder in recitation, off came her shoe, which she immediately laid
across my shoulders with the most unremitting zeal. I recollect her
whipping me one day when it really appeared to me that I had not been in
the least to blame. I was quite a little fellow then, and drawing my
hand across my eyes, I sobbed forth: 'I wish one of us in this room was
dead, I do--I don't wish it was me--and I don't wish it was the
cat--' Whatever I had intended to add was suddenly cut short; and I began
to think that it was rather foolish of me to subject myself to two
whippings instead of one. I have quite escaped from leading-strings
now," added my father with an expressive look; but the old lady may be
of considerable assistance in keeping you young ones in order.

The children looked frightened; and Fred, being now too old to dread any
whippings on his own account, kindly undertook the instruction of his
younger brothers in the art of being saucy and playing practical jokes.
We were told to call her "grandmother," and treat her with the greatest
respect; but as I dwelt upon my father's account of her, like the
magician in olden story, I almost trembled at the visitor I had invoked.
The letter was written and despatched; and after a while, an answering
one received, in which the step-mother accepted her son-in-law's
invitation, "for the sake," as she said, "of the many happy hours they
had formerly enjoyed together." I sat reading in a distant corner of the
room when this letter was received, almost concealed by the folds of the
curtains; and the other children being out of the room, I overheard my
father say:

"I do not remember much else but being whipped, and sent supperless to
bed; if they _were_ happy hours, it must have been on the principle of
the frogs--'What is play to you is death to us.'"

My mother smiled; but she replied softly: "Perhaps she is changed now,
Arthur; do not say anything against her before the children, for she is
a stranger, entitled to our hospitality--and I would not have her
welcome a chilling one."

In process of time the old lady arrived, accompanied by a colored
servant who answered to the name of Venus. Fred christened her "the
black divinity," at which she became highly offended; and ever after,
there was a perpetual war of words waging between the two. My
grandmother was a small, dark-complexioned woman, with an exceedingly
haughty, and very repulsive expression. She received all her
daughter-in-law's endeavors to make her feel at home as a natural right;
and appeared to consider other people intended only for her sole use and
benefit. As I glanced from her to my mother's fair, soft beauty, and
strikingly sweet expression, I formed a comparison between the two not
much to my grandmother's advantage.

We soon found that the old lady had a great idea of taking the reins
into her own hands; the children were scolded, and threatened, and
locked up in dark closets, until, to use their own expression, they
became, most "dreadfully good," and never dared to show off under the
espionage of those eagle eyes. During the summer, our parents were
absent for some weeks on a pleasure jaunt; and Grandmother Chesbury
having the entire control of us, we were obliged to behave very
differently from usual. She kept us all in awe except Fred; but on him
it was impossible to make the least impression. If she tyrannized over
the rest us, it was abundantly repaid by the teazings of my mischievous

The old lady was extremely violent in temper, and after irritating it to
the highest pitch, or, as he termed it, "putting on the steam," he
provoked her still more by his polite sarcasms and tantalizing replies.
The object of contest between them was generally the last word in the
argument; and when victory appeared to incline neither to one side nor
the other, my grandmother would exclaim angrily: "Hold your tongue this
moment, you impertinent boy! Not another word."

"Yes'm," Fred would reply, with every appearance of submission.

Having triumphed up stairs, he generally went in search of Venus, whose
anger was almost as vehement as that of her mistress. Her time, when not
attending to Mrs. Chesbury, was chiefly occupied by the duties of the
toilet; and Jane asserted that she had anxiously inquired if there were
no respectable colored gentlemen about the place? Venus always bestowed
a great deal of pains on the arrangement of her head covering, which was
profusely decorated with combs of various shapes and sizes; but "thereby
hangs a tale" which must be told.

Good beef is very scarce at the South, and Southerners therefore
consider it a great treat when they come North. My grandmother was very
fond of it frizzled; and Venus being quite _au fait_ in the manufacture
of this dish, the old lady never allowed any one else to make it for
her. One afternoon, during my parents' absence, the children being
disposed of in various ways--some had gone out for a walk, two were
playing together in a closet where they had been locked up, and others
were rambling about the grounds--the house was pretty clear; so my
grandmother resolved to enjoy a treat in her own apartment. A small
table was nicely laid out with all the requisites for a comfortable tea,
and Venus then departed to the kitchen to dish up some frizzled beef.

But it so happened that the odor of the savory dish, in its passage up
stairs, found its way to the nostrils of Master Fred, who had been
quietly engaged in some wonderfully wise researches in the library; and
as even philosophers are not exempt from the earth-born love of good
things, out rushed our student with a polite request that Venus would
"allow him to taste the trash, and see if it was fit to be sent to Mrs.
Chesbury." A scuffle ensued, in which Fred succeeded in satisfying his
curiosity; and with considerably ruffled plumage, and not in the
sweetest state of mind, Venus proceeded up stairs. Fred slyly followed;
and peeping through the key-hole of a door that opened into my
grandmother's room, he determined to watch the progress of the feast.
Things looked very tempting, and he had half a mind to petition for a
seat at the table; but he began to think that, even should he succeed in
his request, a _seat_ would be all he could gain; for the old lady
attacked the eatables very much in the style of a school-boy just come
home for the holidays. The frizzled beef rapidly disappeared, till the
bottom of the dish was scarcely covered; but suddenly ceasing her
attacks upon it, my grandmother took the dish in her hand, and pointing
to some black substance, interrogated the colored girl in accents of
mingled doubt and horror.

"Why Venus, come here! What--what--what _is_ this?"

"Why, la, Missus!" exclaimed Venus, while every feature brightened with
joyful surprise, "If there ain't my little comb, what I lost in the
scuffle with Master Fred! Who would have thought to find it here!"

"Who, indeed!" ejaculated the old lady, in a voice scarcely audible.

My grandmother did not leave her room that evening, and we were told
that she was ill; while it is scarcely necessary to add that Fred never
again interfered with any of Venus' cookeries. When repeating the story,
he always dwelt upon the ridiculous tableau presented by the horrified
looks of the old lady, as she pointed to the suspicious-looking
article--and the delight and surprise of Venus at recovering her lost
property in such an unexpected manner. He possessed a great talent for
drawing; and before long, a caricature appeared, which was a most
life-like representation of the whole scene. My mother shook her head,
and my father delivered a short, but expressive lecture upon the
improper nature of mimicry; but in the midst of an edifying discourse
Fred suddenly displayed the drawing in full view--at which all the
children burst into peals of laughter, and my father abruptly closed his
sermon, and frowning sternly, walked into the library; but we could
perceive a nervous twitching about the corners of his mouth, which
looked very much at variance with the frown upon his brow.

My mother too, fixed her eyes steadfastly upon her sewing, and refused
to look up; which Fred saucily told her was only because she knew she
would laugh if she did. We were then told that we had been naughty
children, and sent out of the room; but somehow, we did not feel as
though we had been _very_ bad, or that our parents were very angry with
us, and skipping along through the garden-walks, we next sent Jane
almost into convulsions of laughter by a display of the picture. Mamma,
however, burned it before long; she said that it was highly improper to
ridicule our grandmother, even if she _had_ faults, and that we must
bear with her kindly, and not forget how few pleasures she enjoyed. Dear
mamma! she was too kind--too good; and often met with the fate of

I once heard of a lady who went to a house to make a call, and stayed
eleven years; this was somewhat similar to my grandmother's case--she
came to pass the summer with us, and spent her life-time. Whenever she
spoke of going back to the South, my father urged her to stay, and gave
convincing reasons why she should prolong her visit; and my mother, too,
kindly reflecting that the old lady had no near relatives and seemed to
enjoy herself with us, added her entreaties. At last they told her that
there was no reason why she should not stay altogether; and she appeared
to think so too, for she stayed. As we grew more accustomed to her we
liked her better than at first; she told us long stories about the
South, and related anecdotes of the greatness, and wealth, and
distinguished position of her own family, which she considered superior
to any in the United States. Venus too came into more favor; and after a
while we almost forgot the beef story.


Time passed on; I had almost reached my fifteenth birthday, and began
to consider myself no longer a child. I was very tall for my age, and
quite showy-looking; and gentlemen who visited at the house now treated
me with all the attention due a young lady; which flattered my vanity
very much, and made me think them very agreeable. I remember my father's
once sending me from the room, on account of some gentleman's nonsense
which he considered me too young to listen to; but I felt very much hurt
at such treatment, and almost regarded myself as some heroine of romance
imprisoned by cruel parents. Novels were a great injury to me, as indeed
they are to every one. Their style was much more extravagant and
unnatural than at the present day; and even at this early age, I had
read the "Children of the Abbey," the "Mysteries of Udolpho," the
"Scottish Chiefs," "Thaddeus of Warsaw," and many others of the same

But how did I obtain these, you ask? My mother, with her sense and
discernment, would not have placed such books in my hands; and you are
right. My grandmother was an inveterate novel-reader, but very careful
that her books fell into no other hands; so that the only means of
satisfying my taste for romantic reading was by stealth. Although novels
were proscribed, no other books were placed in my hands; there were then
scarcely any children's books published, and consumed as I was by an
inordinate passion for reading, was determined to indulge it without
being very particular about the means. How often have I watched my
opportunity when my grandmother had left her apartment for an afternoon
visit or drive, and then drawn forth the cherished volume from beneath
the pillow and even from between the bed and sacking bottom! so
carefully were they concealed from view. Sometimes, indeed, she locked
the door of her room, and took the key with her; and then all ingress
was impossible.

What wild, foolish dreams I indulged in!--What romantic-visions of the
future that were never realized! How well I remember my sensations on
reading the "Scottish Chiefs." Wallace appeared to me almost in the
light of a god--so noble, so touching were all his acts and words, that
I even envied Helen Mar the privilege of calling herself his wife, and
then dying to lay her head in the same grave with him. I resolved to
give up all the common-place of life, and cling unto the spiritual--to
purify myself from every earth-born wish and habit, and live but in the
hope of meeting with a second Wallace. I persevered in this resolution
for a whole week; and then meeting with some equally delightful hero of
an opposite nature, I changed from grave to gay. My mood during these
periods of fascination was as variable as the different heroines I
admired. Now I would imitate the pensiveness of Amanda, and go about
with streaming tresses, and a softly modulated tone of voice--then I
would read of some sprightly heroine who changed all by her vivacity
and piquant sayings, and immediately commence springing down three
stairs at a time, teazing all the children, and making some reply to
everything that was said, which sometimes passed for wit but oftener for
impudence--and then again some noble, self-sacrificing character would
excite my admiration, and oh! how I longed for some opportunity to
signalize myself! A bullet aimed at some loved one, whom I could protect
by rushing forward and receiving it myself; but I was not to be killed,
only sufficiently wounded to make me appear interesting--disabled in the
arm, perhaps, without much suffering, for bodily pain never formed a
prominent feature in my ideas of the romantic and striking--I was too
great a coward; or else a plunge into the waves to rescue some drowning
person from perishing, when I wished just to come near enough to death
to elevate me into a heroine for after life.

I looked in the glass, and seeing large, dark eyes, a healthful bloom,
and rather pretty features, I concluded that I need not belong to the
plain and amiable order, and began to wish most enthusiastically for
some romantic admirer; some one who would expose himself to the danger
of a sore throat and influenza for the sake of serenading me--who would
be rather glad than otherwise to risk his life by jumping down a
precipice to bring me some descried wild flower, and who, when away from
me, would pass his time in writing extravagant poetry, of which I was to
be the bright divinity. Old as I am, I feel almost ashamed to repeat
this nonsense now; and had I then possessed more sense myself, or made
by mother the confidant of these flights of fancy, I need not now relate
my own silly experience to warn you from the effects of novel-reading.

Charles Tracy did not at all realize my romantic ideas of a hero; and
one bright day the dissatisfaction which had been gradually gathering in
my mind expressed itself in words. I had gone down to a lake at the
bottom of the garden to indulge in high-flown meditations; and Charles
Tracy stood beside one of the boats which were always kept there.

"Come, Amy," said he, as I drew near, "it is a beautiful day--let us
have a row across the lake."

"No," said I, twining my arm around one of the young trees near, "I
prefer remaining here."

"You had better come with me," rejoined Charles, "instead of keeping
company there with the snapping-turtles. Well," he added after a short
pause, "if you will not come with me, why I must go alone."

"Go, then!" said I, bitterly, "you love your own pleasure a great deal
better than you do me!"

"Why Amy!" he exclaimed, coming close to me as though doubtful of my
sanity, "how very strangely you talk! You know that I love you very
much," he continued, "for haven't we been together and quarrelled with
each other ever since I can remember? And do I not now bear the marks of
the time when you threw the cat in my face to end our childish dispute?
And the scar where you stuck the pen-knife in my arm? And don't you
remember how you used to pull my hair out by handfuls? How can I help
loving you when I call to mind all these tender recollections?"

This reply provoked me very much; and I answered energetically: "You do
_not_ love me!--you do not know how to love I When did you ever make any
sacrifices for me?" I continued in an excited manner, "When did I ever
hear you singing beneath my window in a tone meant for no ear but mine?
When did you ever rush with me out of a burning house, or encounter any
danger for my sake? When did you ever watch for a glimpse of my taper at
midnight when all others were asleep?"

During the progress of this singular speech, Charles Tracy's countenance
had gradually changed from the surprised to the amused; and when I had
concluded he laughed--yes, he actually laughed! What a damper of

"Laugh on," said I, in a dignified manner, as I turned my steps
homeward, "that has now put an end to all."

He was but a boy--I, a _woman_, for should I not be fifteen to-morrow?
and I walked away from him in contempt; while he quietly jumped into the
boat and rowed across the lake, whistling a tune. But I had not
proceeded far before a loud "ha! ha!" from my brother Fred sounded close
at my side; he had been an unobserved listener to the whole
conversation, now enjoyed the pleasure of teasing me all the way home.

"That's right, Amy!" said he, "Keep up your dignity, child. What a rich
scene! _'When did you ever watch for a glimpse of my taper at midnight
when all others were asleep?'_ Rather a hopeless watch, I'm thinking, as
you sleep in the middle room between mother's and the nursery; and
between you and I, Amy, you know that you don't burn a taper, but a
brass lamp; but that, of course, isn't quite so poetical to tell of.
Such an air, too!--what a rare tragic actress you'd make! Do say it
over, won't you? I have almost forgotten the beginning."

I gave Fred a boxed ear, which must have stung for sometime afterwards;
and running hastily into the house, locked myself up in my own room till
tea-time. The next day was my birthday; and while my table was strewn
with acceptable gifts from all the others, I perceived among them a
very antiquated-looking cap and pair of spectacles, to the latter of
which was attached a slip of paper, on which was written: "To improve
the impaired sight of my dear sister Amy, produced by her declining
years; also a cap to conceal the gray hairs of age, and 'Young's Night
Thoughts' for the edification of her mind."

I was almost ready to cry from mortification; but I remembered that I
was now fifteen, and took the articles down stairs for the purpose of
exposing Master Fred, but what did I get for my pains? In justification
he told the story of yesterday, in his own peculiarly humorous way; and
when I saw myself thus reflected, the ridiculous tendency of my words
and manner struck me forcibly, and I was almost ready to laugh. But the
others did that abundantly for me, while wondering where I had picked up
such notions; and Grandmother Chesbury, I verily believe, suspected that
I had been at her novels, for after that I never could find one.

But although I was thus debarred from receiving any new impressions, the
old ones still continued in full force; and at last came the long
desired opportunity to signalize myself. I was then almost sixteen, and
the treaty of peace with England had just been celebrated. I remember
well the illuminations and festivities on the first night of the
proclamation, which we spent in the city at a friend's house; the
balconies were wreathed with flowers, lights blazed from every window,
crowds of beautifully-dressed women filled the rooms, and the sounds of
music and dancing were heard in every street. It was my first evening in
company--my first experience of admiration; and completely carried away
by the music, the lights, and the occasion, the old desire for some
signalizing deed came thronging back in full force, till I grew almost
bewildered. No opportunity offered that night; I could only join in the
festivities, and listen to the feats and praises of others; but towards
the latter part of the evening my eye was attracted by the brilliant
uniform and handsome appearance of a young officer who passed through
the rooms, and lingered a moment in a distant corner among a knot of
friends who crowded eagerly about him. His commanding figure, beautiful
features, and intellectual, yet sweet, expression, completely realized
all my ideas of a novel-hero; I saw my father speaking to him, and
immediately made signs to introduce him, but before I could catch his
eye, the officer had disappeared. Papa told me that Major Arlington's
father had been an old friend of his, and he would have introduced him
to me, but business called him in another direction, and he could not
stay a moment longer, but promised us a visit at an early day.

You need not smile, Miss Ella, and look so knowing at the mention of the
name; how do you know that there were not two Arlingtons in the world?
How do you know but that it was his brother I married? How do you
know--but never mind, I will go on with my story. It was several days
after that eventful evening, which still left a vivid impression upon my
mind; the desire to perform some wonderful deed remained in full force,
mingled with visions of the young officer, and I wandered about, without
paying much attention to my ordinary duties. Papa and mamma were both
from home, and Grandmother Chesbury had locked herself up with a new
novel; while I was roaming about the grounds not far from the front

A sound of wheels suddenly struck upon my ear; I supposed it was some
visitor and paid not much attention to it; but before long there was a
confused noise of voices--a sound of plunging and rearing--and a
distinct crashing of some heavy vehicle. My evil genius led me to the
spot; I beheld a handsome carriage, which the horses seemed striving to
dash in pieces--caught a glimpse of a glittering uniform inside--and
following a wild impulse, sprang forward and endeavored to seize the
bridle. I heard some one say, "Take care of the young lady!" and then
the officer jumped from the carriage, while I was thrown down close to
the horses' feet. A confused hum sounded in my ears--and then followed a
long blank.

       *       *       *       *       *

When I awoke to consciousness I found myself lying on a sofa in a small
sitting-room; but no one was bending tenderly over me--not even a
mother's face met my eyes--but the gossip of two women servants grated
painfully on my ear.

"What under the sun possessed Miss Amy to go and cut up such a caper as
that!" said one of them, "All the mischief she's done this day won't be
done away with for weeks to come."

"No, indeed!" rejoined the other, "that young officer is a fixture here
for six weeks at least. Rome wasn't built in a day, nor are broken legs
healed in ten minutes--and such a beauty as he is, too! It's shameful to
think of!"

"If she'd only let him alone, he'd done well enough--but she must go and
jump right under the horses' feet, so that, of course, he had to spring
out to prevent her being killed, and that broke his leg, while she
wasn't hurt a bit. Speaking of beauties, if Miss Amy could only have
seen herself then!--spotted with mud from head to foot, and her hair
flying in all directions!"

On hearing that I was not hurt, I sprang from the sofa and rushed to the
glass, where I encountered the reflection of a most pitiable-looking
figure. Even my face was daubed with mud and dirt, and I looked like a
veritable fright. Shame, mortification, and sorrow for my heedless
conduct almost overwhelmed me. In the selfish desire to signalize
myself, I had hazarded the life of a fellow-being, and brought upon him
weeks of suffering which no act of mine could now alleviate. The tears
rolled down my cheeks; but having ascertained that my parents had not
yet returned, I cut short the gossip of the servants, and ordering them
to bring me some water, I arranged my disordered dress for a visit to
the sufferer's apartment.

Doctor Irwin had been instantly sent for; and when I entered the room,
he was seated by his patient's bedside, while Major Arlington lay with
closed eyes and pallid features in a kind of sleep or stupor.

"Miss Amy," whispered the doctor, "this is a sad business--and your
parents from home, too. What will be their feelings on their return?"

I glanced at the motionless figure of the young officer, and too much
ashamed to reply, hung my head in silence.

"Are you sure that you were not at all hurt, my dear child?" he
continued in a kind tone; "What a very wild proceeding it was to throw
yourself into the melée! If two men could not manage the horses, could
you suppose that your strength would be sufficient. You should have
reasoned with yourself before taking such a step, for you see the
unfortunate effects of it."

_Reason!_ there was not the least particle of reason in my whole
composition; this was a wild, impulsive act, performed without the least
thought for the probable consequences, and I now stood gazing on the
wreck I had made, in silent bewilderment. My parents soon returned; and
hurrying to the apartment with countenances of astonishment and fear,
there realized a confirmation of the dreadful accounts they had been
assailed with. "And who was the author of all this mischief? _Amy_." My
eyes drooped under the stern, reproving glances I encountered, and I
crept about the house like a guilty thing--fervently wishing for the
bodily suffering I had brought upon the victim of my wild attempt,
instead of the pain of mind with which I was tormented.

Days passed on, but the lapse of time was unheeded by me; my post was by
the bedside of the sufferer--my employment to anticipate his slightest
wish, and yield to every humor. As he grew better I read to him, sung to
him, talked to him; and in return received the grateful glances of those
expressive eyes, which followed me about whenever I moved from his side.
At length he could sit up in his apartment, and then walk slowly through
the grounds, with the assistance of a heavy cane on one side and my arm
on the other; till at last he was pronounced to be as well as other
people; or, as Dr. Irwin expressed it, "as good as new." Your eyes are
brightening up, Ella, in anticipation of a most sentimental love-tale;
but I shall not gratify your desire of laughing at your grandmother's
folly; but shall only say, that before he left, I had promised, with the
consent of my parents, to become Mrs. Arlington. I was married at
eighteen, and, strange to say, to one who appeared a realization of all
my girlish fancies; he was noble-minded, warm-hearted, and almost as
enthusiastic as myself--with a sweetness of temper which I have never
seen raffled, except by some act of injustice or cruelty.

But do not flatter yourself, Ella, that life glided on with me like the
pages of a romance; I was obliged to lay aside a great many silly
theories which I had indulged in, and come to plain reality much oftener
than suited my inclination. A _perfect_ person is not to be found upon
earth; when disposed to murmur at not meeting with the sacrifices you
expect, ask yourself if you would be willing to make these sacrifices
for another--and then be not surprised that others are not more free
from the dross of self-consideration than you are. Also, do not suppose
that it was my hair-brained performance at our first meeting which
attracted my husband's affections; no, often has the color mounted to my
face at his reference to that scene, and his own impressions then.

"You reminded me, Amy," he would say, laughing, "of some reckless sprite
from the kingdom of misrule, who had flown into the scene, determined to
make all the trouble she could. It was very chivalrous of you, to be
sure, and I ought to be very grateful--but I must own that I felt
exceedingly provoked at being obliged to risk my life by springing out
to rescue you from the horses' hoofs. But never mind, _chere amie_" he
would add as he saw the hot tears starting to my eyes, while face, neck,
and brow, were suffused with the hue of mortification, "there was an
after-page in the sick-room, when I beheld, with surprise, my crazy
heroine transformed into the demure, and gentle nurse, and learned to
distinguish a soft-toned voice, which always lingered in my ears like
pleasant music; so that after all, I am really indebted to you, Amy, for
making me break my leg--for, if you had not done so, I am afraid I never
should have discovered my jewel of a wife."

So much for my romance; but the scene generally ended with the kiss of
reconciliation, and I, too, learned to smile at my act of girlish folly.

"My tale is told; my parents have long slept beside each other, where the
long grass waves over them--my elder brothers are still living--my
brother Henry is a beloved and venerated clergyman in one of our large
cities--while the wild, hair-brained Fred became a talented lawyer in
the same place where he is universally respected. The rest of my
brothers are all dead; and we three only survive out of a family of
nine. Perhaps at some future time I may give you an account of my
residence in England; but I must now conclude my adventures for the

Here ended my grandmother's history, which had afforded us many evenings
of amusement. We were both surprised and pleased at her frankness in
speaking of her faults and mischievous acts; and could indeed hardly
comprehend that the very sensible, dignified lady before us had ever
been such an odd, harum-scarum sort of character--yet so it was, and she
had kindly related her own experience for our improvement. The last
chapter was intended more especially for my own particular edification;
but we all laughed heartily at my grandmother's ideas of signalizing
herself. That room is to us a charmed spot; and we look forward most
anxiously to the time when she is to begin an account of her life in


*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Grandmother's Recollections" ***

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