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Title: The Children's Book of Thanksgiving Stories
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: "But it was _my_ wishbone," persisted the gobbler, "and
I think I ought to know something about it." (See p. 108)]


Edited by


(Editor of "The Children's Book of Christmas Stories," etc.)



Garden City          New York
Doubleday, Page & Company

Copyright, 1915, by
Doubleday, Page & Company

All rights reserved, including that of translation into
foreign languages, including the Scandinavian


The Publishers desire to acknowledge the kindness of the Century
Company, Ginn & Co., the J. L. Hammett Company, Harper & Brothers, the
Houghton, Mifflin Company, the J. B. Lippincott Company, the Lothrop,
Lee & Shepard Company, the Outlook Company, the Perry Mason Company,
Charles Scribner's Sons, and others, who have granted permission to
reproduce herein selections from works bearing their copyright.


The success of "The Children's Book of Christmas Stories" has
encouraged the Editor to hope that a similar collection of stories
about Thanksgiving would prove useful to parents, librarians, and
teachers, and enjoyable to children.

Like the former book, this one is exactly what the title would
indicate--a select collection of children's stories closely connected
with our American festival.

The short descriptive note placed before each story will be of use in
choosing a tale suited to one's audience in reading aloud.

May the present volume make as many friends as did its older brother!

                                                          A. D. D.


(_Note._--The stories marked with a star (*) will be most enjoyed by
younger children; those marked with a dagger (+) are better suited to
older children.)

  *The Kingdom of the Greedy. _By P. J. Stahl_                         3
   Thankful. _By Mary E. Wilkins Freeman_                             26
  Beetle Ring's Thanksgiving Mascot. _By Sheldon C. Stoddard_         41
  +Mistress Esteem Elliott's Molasses Cake. _By Kate Upson Clark_     57
   The First Thanksgiving. _By Albert F. Blaisdell and Francis
         K. Ball_                                                     67
  +Thanksgiving at Todd's Asylum. _By Winthrop Packard_               72
   How We Kept Thanksgiving at Oldtown. _By Harriet Beecher Stowe_    86
  *Wishbone Valley. _By R. K. Munkittrick_                           106
   Patem's Salmagundi. _By E. S. Brooks_                             115
   Miss November's Dinner Party. _By Agnes Carr_                     129
  *The Visit. _By Maud Lindsay_                                      137
   The Story of Ruth and Naomi. _Adapted from the Bible_             143
   Bert's Thanksgiving. _By J. T. Trowbridge_                        146
  *A Thanksgiving Story. _By Miss L. B. Pingree_                     157
  +John Inglefield's Thanksgiving. _By Nathaniel Hawthorne_          159
   How Obadiah Brought About a Thanksgiving. _By Emily Hewitt
         Leland_                                                     167
   The White Turkey's Wing. _By Sophie Swett_                        181
  *The Thanksgiving Goose. _By Fannie Wilder Brown_                  198
  +An English Dinner of Thanksgiving. _By George Eliot_              203
   A Novel Postman. _By Alice Wheildon_                              209
  +Ezra's Thanksgivin' Out West. _By Eugene Field_                   220
  *Chip's Thanksgiving. _By Annie Hamilton Donnell_                  232
  +The Master of the Harvest. _By Mrs. Alfred Gatty_                 235
  *A Thanksgiving Dinner. _By Edna Payson Brett_                     248
   Two Old Boys. _By Pauline Shackleford Colyar_                     254
   A Thanksgiving Dinner That Flew Away. _By Hezekiah Butterworth_   265
  +Mon-daw-min. _By H. R. Schoolcraft_                               276
  A Mystery in the Kitchen. _By Olive Thorne Miller_                 282
  *Who Ate the Dolly's Dinner? _By Isabel Gordon Curtis_             296
  +An Old-fashioned Thanksgiving. _By Rose Terry Cooke_              299
   1800 and Froze to Death. _By C. A. Stephens_                      328





    This fairy tale of a gormandizing people contains no
    mention of Thanksgiving Day. Yet its connection with
    our American festival is obvious. Every one who likes
    fairy tales will enjoy reading it.

THE country of the Greedy, well known in history, was ruled by a king
who had much trouble. His subjects were well behaved, but they had one
sad fault: they were too fond of pies and tarts. It was as disagreeable
to them to swallow a spoonful of soup as if it were so much sea
water, and it would take a policeman to make them open their mouths
for a bit of meat, either boiled or roasted. This deplorable taste
made the fortunes of the pastry cooks, but also of the apothecaries.
Families ruined themselves in pills and powders; camomile, rhubarb, and
peppermint trebled in price, as well as other disagreeable remedies,
such as castor----which I will not name.

The King of the Greedy sought long for the means of correcting this
fatal passion for sweets, but even the faculty were puzzled.

"Your Majesty," said the great court doctor, Olibriers, at his last
audience, "your people look like putty! They are incurable; their
senseless love for good eating will bring them all to the grave."

This view of things did not suit the King. He was wise, and saw very
plainly that a monarch without subjects would be but a sorry king.

Happily, after this utter failure of the doctors, there came into the
mind of His Majesty a first-class idea: he telegraphed for Mother
Mitchel, the most celebrated of all pastry cooks. Mother Mitchel
soon arrived, with her black cat, Fanfreluche, who accompanied her
everywhere. He was an incomparable cat. He had not his equal as an
adviser and a taster of tarts.

Mother Mitchel having respectfully inquired what she and her cat could
do for His Majesty, the King demanded of the astonished pastry cook a
tart as big as the capitol--bigger even, if possible, but no smaller!
When the King uttered this astounding order, deep emotion was shown by
the chamberlains, the pages, and lackeys. Nothing but the respect due
to his presence prevented them from crying "Long live Your Majesty!" in
his very ears. But the King had seen enough of the enthusiasm of the
populace, and did not allow such sounds in the recesses of his palace.

The King gave Mother Mitchel one month to carry out his gigantic
project. "It is enough," she proudly replied, brandishing her crutch.
Then, taking leave of the King, she and her cat set out for their home.

On the way Mother Mitchel arranged in her head the plan of the monument
which was to immortalize her, and considered the means of executing
it. As to its form and size, it was to be as exact a copy of the
capitol as possible, since the King had willed it; but its outside
crust should have a beauty all its own. The dome must be adorned with
sugarplums of all colours, and surmounted by a splendid crown of
macaroons, spun sugar, chocolate, and candied fruits. It was no small

Mother Mitchel did not like to lose her time. Her plan of battle once
formed, she recruited on her way all the little pastry cooks of the
country, as well as all the tiny six-year-olds who had a sincere love
for the noble callings of scullion and apprentice. There were plenty of
these, as you may suppose, in the country of the Greedy; Mother Mitchel
had her pick of them.

Mother Mitchel, with the help of her crutch and of Fanfreluche, who
miaowed loud enough to be heard twenty miles off, called upon all the
millers of the land, and commanded them to bring together at a certain
time as many sacks of fine flour as they could grind in a week. There
were only windmills in that country; you may easily believe how they
all began to go. B-r-r-r-r-r! What a noise they made! The clatter was
so great that all the birds flew away to other climes, and even the
clouds fled from the sky.

At the call of Mother Mitchel all the farmers' wives were set to work;
they rushed to the hencoops to collect the seven thousand fresh eggs
that Mother Mitchel wanted for her great edifice. Deep was the emotion
of the fowls. The hens were inconsolable, and the unhappy creatures
mourned upon the palings for the loss of all their hopes.

The milkmaids were busy from morning till night in milking the cows.
Mother Mitchel must have twenty thousand pails of milk. All the little
calves were put on half rations. This great work was nothing to them,
and they complained pitifully to their mothers. Many of the cows
protested with energy against this unreasonable tax, which made their
young families so uncomfortable. There were pails upset, and even some
milkmaids went head over heels. But these little accidents did not
chill the enthusiasm of the labourers.

And now Mother Mitchel called for a thousand pounds of the best butter.
All the churns for twenty miles around began to work in the most lively
manner. Their dashers dashed without ceasing, keeping perfect time. The
butter was tasted, rolled into pats, wrapped up, and put into baskets.
Such energy had never been known before.

Mother Mitchel passed for a sorceress. It was all because of her cat,
Fanfreluche, with whom she had mysterious doings and pantomimes,
and with whom she talked in her inspired moments, as if he were a
real person. Certainly, since the famous "Puss in Boots," there had
never been an animal so extraordinary; and credulous folks suspected
him of being a magician. Some curious people had the courage to ask
Fanfreluche if this were true; but he had replied by bristling, and
showing his teeth and claws so fiercely, that the conversation had
ended there. Sorceress or not, Mother Mitchel was always obeyed. No one
else was ever served so punctually.

On the appointed day all the millers arrived with their asses trotting
in single file, each laden with a great sack of flour. Mother Mitchel,
after having examined the quality of the flour, had every sack
accurately weighed. This was head work and hard work, and took time;
but Mother Mitchel was untiring, and her cat, also, for while the
operation lasted he sat on the roof watching. It is only just to say
that the millers of the Greedy Kingdom brought flour not only faultless
but of full weight. They knew that Mother Mitchel was not joking when
she said that others must be as exact with her as she was with them.
Perhaps also they were a little afraid of the cat, whose great green
eyes were always shining upon them like two round lamps, and never lost
sight of them for one moment.

All the farmers' wives arrived in turn, with baskets of eggs upon their
heads. They did not load their donkeys with them, for fear that in
jogging along they would become omelettes on the way. Mother Mitchel
received them with her usual gravity. She had the patience to look
through every egg to see if it were fresh.

She did not wish to run the risk of having young chickens in a tart
that was destined for those who could not bear the taste of any meat
however tender and delicate. The number of eggs was complete, and
again Mother Mitchel and her cat had nothing to complain of. This
Greedy nation, though carried away by love of good eating, was strictly
honest. It must be said that where nations are patriotic, desire for
the common good makes them unselfish. Mother Mitchel's tart was to be
the glory of the country, and each one was proud to contribute to such
a great work.

And now the milkmaids with their pots and pails of milk, and the
buttermakers with their baskets filled with the rich yellow pats of
butter, filed in long procession to the right and left of the cabin
of Mother Mitchel. There was no need for her to examine so carefully
the butter and the milk. She had such a delicate nose that if there
had been a single pat of ancient butter or a pail of sour milk she
would have pounced upon it instantly. But all was perfectly fresh. In
that golden age they did not understand the art, now so well known, of
making milk out of flour and water. Real milk was necessary to make
cheesecakes and ice cream and other delicious confections much adored
in the Greedy Kingdom. If any one had made such a despicable discovery,
he would have been chased from the country as a public nuisance.

Then came the grocers, with their aprons of coffee bags, and with the
jolly, mischievous faces the rogues always have. Each one clasped
to his heart a sugar loaf nearly as large as himself, whose summit,
without its paper cap, looked like new-fallen snow upon a pyramid.
Mother Mitchel, with her crutch for a baton, saw them all placed in her
storerooms upon shelves put up for the purpose. She had to be very
strict, for some of the little fellows could hardly part from their
merchandise, and many were indiscreet, with their tongues behind their
great mountains of sugar. If they had been let alone, they would never
have stopped till the sugar was all gone. But they had not thought
of the implacable eye of old Fanfreluche, who, posted upon a water
spout, took note of all their misdeeds. From another quarter came a
whole army of country people, rolling wheelbarrows and carrying huge
baskets, all filled with cherries, plums, peaches, apples, and pears.
All these fruits were so fresh, in such perfect condition, with their
fair shining skins, that they looked like wax or painted marble, but
their delicious perfume proved that they were real. Some little people,
hidden in the corners, took pains to find this out. Between ourselves,
Mother Mitchel made believe not to see them, and took the precaution of
holding Fanfreluche in her arms so that he could not spring upon them.
The fruits were all put into bins, each kind by itself. And now the
preparations were finished. There was no time to lose before setting to

The spot which Mother Mitchel had chosen for her great edifice was
a pretty hill on which a plateau formed a splendid site. This hill
commanded the capital city, built upon the slope of another hill close
by. After having beaten down the earth till it was as smooth as a
floor, they spread over it loads of bread crumbs, brought from the
baker's, and levelled it with rake and spade, as we do gravel in our
garden walks. Little birds, as greedy as themselves, came in flocks to
the feast, but they might eat as they liked, it would never be missed,
so thick was the carpet. It was a great chance for the bold little

All the ingredients for the tart were now ready. Upon order of Mother
Mitchel they began to peel the apples and pears and to take out the
pips. The weather was so pleasant that the girls sat out of doors, upon
the ground, in long rows. The sun looked down upon them with a merry
face. Each of the little workers had a big earthen pan, and peeled
incessantly the apples which the boys brought them. When the pans were
full, they were carried away and others were brought. They had also
to carry away the peels, or the girls would have been buried in them.
Never was there such a peeling before.

Not far away, the children were stoning the plums, cherries, and
peaches. This work, being the easiest, was given to the youngest and
most inexperienced hands, which were all first carefully washed, for
Mother Mitchel, though not very particular about her own toilet, was
very neat in her cooking. The schoolhouse, long unused (for in the
country of the Greedy they had forgotten everything), was arranged
for this second class of workers, and the cat was their inspector. He
walked round and round, growling if he saw the fruit popping into any
of the little mouths. If they had dared, how they would have pelted
him with plum stones! But no one risked it. Fanfreluche was not to be
trifled with.

In those days powdered sugar had not been invented, and to grate it all
was no small affair. It was the work that the grocers used to dislike
the most; both lungs and arms were soon tired. But Mother Mitchel
was there to sustain them with her unequalled energy. She chose the
labourers from the most robust of the boys. With mallet and knife she
broke the cones into round pieces, and they grated them till they were
too small to hold. The bits were put into baskets to be pounded. One
would never have expected to find all the thousand pounds of sugar
again. But a new miracle was wrought by Mother Mitchel. It was all

It was then the turn of the ambitious scullions to enter the lists and
break the seven thousand eggs for Mother Mitchel. It was not hard to
break them--any fool could do that; but to separate adroitly the yolks
and the whites demands some talent, and, above all, great care. We dare
not say that there were no accidents here, no eggs too well scrambled,
no baskets upset. But the experience of Mother Mitchel had counted
upon such things, and it may truly be said that there were never so
many eggs broken at once, or ever could be again. To make an omelette
of them would have taken a saucepan as large as a skating pond, and
the fattest cook that ever lived could not hold the handle of such a

But this was not all. Now that the yolks and whites were once divided,
they must each be beaten separately in wooden bowls, to give them
the necessary lightness. The egg beaters were marshalled into two
brigades, the yellow and the white. Every one preferred the white, for
it was much more amusing to make those snowy masses that rose up so
high than to beat the yolks, which knew no better than to mix together
like so much sauce. Mother Mitchel, with her usual wisdom, had avoided
this difficulty by casting lots. Thus, those who were not on the white
side had no reason to complain of oppression. And truly, when all was
done, the whites and the yellows were equally tired. All had cramps in
their hands.

Now began the real labour of Mother Mitchel. Till now she had been the
commander-in-chief--the head only; now she put her own finger in the
pie. First, she had to make sweetmeats and jam out of all the immense
quantity of fruit she had stored. For this, as she could only do one
kind at a time, she had ten kettles, each as big as a dinner table.
During forty-eight hours the cooking went on; a dozen scullions blew
the fire and put on the fuel. Mother Mitchel, with a spoon that four
modern cooks could hardly lift, never ceased stirring and trying the
boiling fruit. Three expert tasters, chosen from the most dainty, had
orders to report progress every half hour.

It is unnecessary to state that all the sweetmeats were perfectly
successful, or that they were of exquisite consistency, colour, and
perfume. With Mother Mitchel there was no such word as _fail_. When
each kind of sweetmeat was finished, she skimmed it, and put it away
to cool in enormous bowls before potting. She did not use for this the
usual little glass or earthen jars, but great stone ones, like those
in the "Forty Thieves." Not only did these take less time to fill,
but they were safe from the children. The scum and the scrapings were
something, to be sure. But there was little Toto, who thought this was
not enough. He would have jumped into one of the bowls if they had not
held him.

Mother Mitchel, who thought of everything, had ordered two hundred
great kneading troughs, wishing that all the utensils of this great
work should be perfectly new. These two hundred troughs, like her other
materials, were all delivered punctually and in good order. The pastry
cooks rolled up their sleeves and began to knead the dough with cries
of "Hi! Hi!" that could be heard for miles. It was odd to see this army
of bakers in serried ranks, all making the same gestures at once, like
well-disciplined soldiers, stooping and rising together in time, so
that a foreign ambassador wrote to his court that he wished his people
could load and fire as well as these could knead. Such praise a people
never forgets.

When each troughful of paste was approved it was moulded with care into
the form of bricks, and with the aid of the engineer-in-chief, a young
genius who had gained the first prize in the school of architecture,
the majestic edifice was begun. Mother Mitchel herself drew the plan;
in following her directions, the young engineer showed himself modest
beyond all praise. He had the good sense to understand that the
architecture of tarts and pies had rules of its own, and that therefore
the experience of Mother Mitchel was worth all the scientific theories
in the world.

The inside of the monument was divided into as many compartments as
there were kinds of fruits. The walls were no less than four feet
thick. When they were finished, twenty-four ladders were set up,
and twenty-four experienced cooks ascended them. These first-class
artists were each of them armed with an enormous cooking spoon. Behind
them, on the lower rounds of the ladders, followed the kitchen boys,
carrying on their heads pots and pans filled to the brim with jam and
sweetmeats, each sort ready to be poured into its destined compartment.
This colossal labour was accomplished in one day, and with wonderful

When the sweetmeats were used to the last drop, when the great spoons
had done all their work, the twenty-four cooks descended to earth
again. The intrepid Mother Mitchel, who had never quitted the spot, now
ascended, followed by the noble Fanfreluche, and dipped her finger into
each of the compartments, to assure herself that everything was right.
This part of her duty was not disagreeable, and many of the scullions
would have liked to perform it. But they might have lingered too long
over the enchanting task. As for Mother Mitchel, she had been too well
used to sweets to be excited now. She only wished to do her duty and to
insure success.

All went on well. Mother Mitchel had given her approbation. Nothing was
needed now but to crown the sublime and delicious edifice by placing
upon it the crust--that is, the roof, or dome. This delicate operation
was confided to the engineer-in-chief who now showed his superior
genius. The dome, made beforehand of a single piece, was raised in the
air by means of twelve balloons, whose force of ascension had been
carefully calculated. First it was directed, by ropes, exactly over the
top of the tart; then at the word of command it gently descended upon
the right spot. It was not a quarter of an inch out of place. This was
a great triumph for Mother Mitchel and her able assistant.

But all was not over. How should this colossal tart be cooked? That was
the question that agitated all the people of the Greedy country, who
came in crowds--lords and commons--to gaze at the wonderful spectacle.

Some of the envious or ill-tempered declared it would be impossible to
cook the edifice which Mother Mitchel had built; and the doctors were,
no one knows why, the saddest of all. Mother Mitchel, smiling at the
general bewilderment, mounted the summit of the tart; she waved her
crutch in the air, and while her cat miaowed in his sweetest voice,
suddenly there issued from the woods a vast number of masons, drawing
wagons of well-baked bricks, which they had prepared in secret. This
sight silenced the ill-wishers and filled the hearts of the Greedy with

In two days an enormous furnace was built around and above the colossal
tart, which found itself shut up in an immense earthen pot. Thirty
huge mouths, which were connected with thousands of winding pipes for
conducting heat all over the building, were soon choked with fuel,
by the help of two hundred charcoal burners, who, obeying a private
signal, came forth in long array from the forest, each carrying his
sack of coal. Behind them stood Mother Mitchel with a box of matches,
ready to fire each oven as it was filled. Of course the kindlings had
not been forgotten, and was all soon in a blaze.

When the fire was lighted in the thirty ovens, when they saw the clouds
of smoke rolling above the dome, that announced that the cooking had
begun, the joy of the people was boundless. Poets improvised odes,
and musicians sung verses without end, in honour of the superb prince
who had been inspired to feed his people in so dainty a manner, when
other rulers could not give them enough even of dry bread. The names of
Mother Mitchel and of the illustrious engineer were not forgotten in
this great glorification. Next to His Majesty, they were certainly the
first of mankind, and their names were worthy of going down with his to
the remotest posterity.

All the envious ones were thunderstruck. They tried to console
themselves by saying that the work was not yet finished, and that an
accident might happen at the last moment. But they did not really
believe a word of this. Notwithstanding all their efforts to look
cheerful, it had to be acknowledged that the cooking was possible.
Their last resource was to declare the tart a bad one, but that would
be biting off their own noses. As for declining to eat it, envy could
never go so far as that in the country of the Greedy.

After two days, the unerring nose of Mother Mitchel discovered that the
tart was cooked to perfection. The whole country was perfumed with its
delicious aroma. Nothing more remained but to take down the furnaces.
Mother Mitchel made her official announcement to His Majesty, who was
delighted, and complimented her upon her punctuality. One day was still
wanting to complete the month. During this time the people gave their
eager help to the engineer in the demolition, wishing to have a hand
in the great national work and to hasten the blessed moment. In the
twinkling of an eye the thing was done. The bricks were taken down one
by one, counted carefully, and carried into the forest again, to serve
for another occasion.

The TART, unveiled, appeared at last in all its majesty and splendour.
The dome was gilded, and reflected the rays of the sun in the most
dazzling manner. The wildest excitement and rapture ran through
the land of the Greedy. Each one sniffed with open nostrils the
appetizing perfume. Their mouths watered, their eyes filled with
tears, they embraced, pressed each other's hands, and indulged in
touching pantomimes. Then the people of town and country, united by one
rapturous feeling, joined hands, and danced in a ring around the grand

No one dared to touch the tart before the arrival of His Majesty.
Meanwhile, something must be done to allay the universal impatience,
and they resolved to show Mother Mitchel the gratitude with which all
hearts were filled. She was crowned with the laurel of _conquerors_,
which is also the laurel of _sauce_, thus serving a double purpose.
Then they placed her, with her crutch and her cat, upon a sort of
throne, and carried her all round her vast work. Before her marched all
the musicians of the town, dancing, drumming, fifing, and tooting upon
all instruments, while behind her pressed an enthusiastic crowd, who
rent the air with their plaudits and filled it with a shower of caps.
Her fame was complete, and a noble pride shone on her countenance.

The royal procession arrived. A grand stairway had been built, so that
the King and his ministers could mount to the summit of this monumental
tart. Thence the King, amid a deep silence, thus addressed his people:

"My children," said he, "you adore tarts. You despise all other food.
If you could, you would even eat tarts in your sleep. Very well. Eat
as much as you like. Here is one big enough to satisfy you. But know
this, that while there remains a single crumb of this august tart, from
the height of which I am proud to look down on you, all other food is
forbidden you on pain of death. While you are here, I have ordered all
the pantries to be emptied and, all the butchers, bakers, pork milk
dealers, and fishmongers to shut up their shops. Why leave them open?
Why indeed? Have you not here at discretion what you love best, and
enough to last you ever, _ever_ so long? Devote yourselves to it with
all your hearts. I do not wish you to be bored with the sight of any
other food.

"Greedy ones! behold your TART!"

What enthusiastic applause. What frantic hurrahs rent the air, in
answer to this eloquent speech from the throne!

"Long live the King, Mother Mitchel, and her cat! Long live the tart!
Down with soup! Down with bread! To the bottom of the sea with all
beefsteaks, mutton chops, and roasts!"

Such cries came from every lip. Old men gently stroked their chops,
children patted their little stomachs, and the crowd licked its
thousand lips with eager joy. Even the babies danced in their nurses'
arms, so precocious was the passion for tarts in this singular country.
Grave professors, skipping like kids, declaimed Latin verses in honour
of His Majesty and Mother Mitchel, and the shyest young girls opened
their mouths like the beaks of little birds. As for the doctors, they
felt a joy beyond expression. They had reflected. They understood.
But--my friends!----

At last the signal was given. A detachment of the engineer corps
arrived, armed with pick and cutlass, and marched in good order to the
assault. A breach was soon opened, and the distribution began. The
King smiled at the opening in the tart; though vast, it hardly showed
more than a mouse hole in the monstrous wall.

The King stroked his beard grandly. "All goes well," said he, "for him
who knows how to wait."

Who can tell how long the feast would have lasted if the King had not
given his command that it should cease? Once more they expressed their
gratitude with cries so stifled that they resembled grunts, and then
rushed to the river. Never had a nation been so besmeared. Some were
daubed to the eyes, others had their ears and hair all sticky. As for
the little ones, they were marmalade from head to foot. When they
had finished their toilets, the river ran all red and yellow and was
sweetened for several hours, to the great surprise of all the fishes.

Before returning home, the people presented themselves before the King
to receive his commands.

"Children!" said he, "the feast will begin again exactly at six
o'clock. Give time to wash the dishes and change the tablecloths, and
you may once more give yourselves over to pleasure. You shall feast
twice a day as long as the tart lasts. Do not forget. Yes! if there is
not enough in this one, I will even order ANOTHER from Mother Mitchel;
for you know that great woman is indefatigable. Your happiness is my
only aim." (Marks of universal joy and emotion.) "You understand? Noon,
and six o'clock! There is no need for me to say be punctual! Go, then,
my children--be happy!"

The second feast was as gay as the first, and as long. A pleasant
walk in the suburbs--first exercise--then a nap, had refreshed their
appetites and unlimbered their jaws. But the King fancied that the
breach made in the tart was a little smaller than that of the morning.

"'Tis well!" said he, "'tis well! Wait till to-morrow, my friends; yes,
till day after to-morrow, and _next week_!"

The next day the feast still went on gayly; yet at the evening meal the
King noticed some empty seats.

"Why is this?" said he, with pretended indifference, to the court

"Your Majesty," said the great Olibriers, "a few weak stomachs; that is

On the next day there were larger empty spaces. The enthusiasm visibly
abated. The eighth day the crowd had diminished one half; the ninth,
three quarters; the tenth day, of the thousand who came at first, only
two hundred remained; on the eleventh day only one hundred; and on the
twelfth--alas! who would have thought it?--a single one answered to
the call. Truly he was big enough. His body resembled a hogshead, his
mouth an oven, and his lips--we dare not say what. He was known in the
town by the name of Patapouf. They dug out a fresh lump for him from
the middle of the tart. It quickly vanished in his vast interior, and
he retired with great dignity, proud to maintain the honour of his name
and the glory of the Greedy Kingdom.

But the next day, even he, the very last, appeared no more. The
unfortunate Patapouf had succumbed, and, like all the other
inhabitants of the country, was in a very bad way. In short, it was
soon known that the whole town had suffered agonies that night from
too much tart. Let us draw a veil over those hours of torture. Mother
Mitchel was in despair. Those ministers who had not guessed the secret
dared not open their lips. All the city was one vast hospital. No one
was seen in the streets but doctors and apothecaries' boys, running
from house to house in frantic haste. It was dreadful! Doctor Olibriers
was nearly knocked out. As for the King, he held his tongue and shut
himself up in his palace, but a secret joy shone in his eyes, to the
wonder of every one. He waited three days without a word.

The third day, the King said to his ministers:

"Let us go now and see how my poor people are doing, and feel their
pulse a little."

The good King went to every house, without forgetting a single one. He
visited small and great, rich and poor.

"Oh, oh! Your Majesty," said all, "the tart was good, but may we never
see it again! Plague on that tart! Better were dry bread. Your Majesty,
for mercy's sake, a little dry bread! Oh, a morsel of dry bread, how
good it would be!"

"No, indeed," replied the King. "_There is more of that tart!_"

"What! Your Majesty, _must_ we eat it all?"

"You _must_!" sternly replied the King; "you _MUST_! By the immortal
beefsteaks! not one of you shall have a slice of bread, and not a loaf
shall be baked in the kingdom while there remains a crumb of that
excellent tart!"

"What misery!" thought these poor people. "That tart forever!"

The sufferers were in despair. There was only one cry through all the
town: "Ow! ow! ow!" For even the strongest and most courageous were in
horrible agonies. They twisted, they writhed, they lay down, they got
up. Always the inexorable colic. The dogs were not happier than their
masters; even they had too much tart.

The spiteful tart looked in at all the windows. Built upon a height, it
commanded the town. The mere sight of it made everybody ill, and its
former admirers had nothing but curses for it now. Unhappily, nothing
they could say or do made it any smaller; still formidable, it was a
frightful joke for those miserable mortals. Most of them buried their
heads in their pillows, drew their nightcaps over their eyes, and lay
in bed all day to shut out the sight of it. But this would not do; they
knew, they felt it was there. It was a nightmare, a horrible burden, a
torturing anxiety.

In the midst of this terrible consternation the King remained
inexorable during eight days. His heart bled for his people, but the
lesson must sink deep if it were to bear fruit in future. When their
pains were cured, little by little, through fasting alone, and his
subjects pronounced these trembling words, "We are hungry!" the King
sent them trays laden with--the inevitable tart.

"Ah!" cried they, with anguish, "the tart again! Always the tart, and
nothing but the tart! Better were death!"

A few, who were almost famished, shut their eyes, and tried to eat
a bit of the detested food; but it was all in vain--they could not
swallow a mouthful.

At length came the happy day when the King, thinking their punishment
had been severe enough and could never be forgotten, believed them at
length cured of their greediness. That day he ordered Mother Mitchel to
make in one of her colossal pots a super-excellent soup of which a bowl
was sent to every family. They received it with as much rapture as the
Hebrews did the manna in the desert. They would gladly have had twice
as much, but after their long fast it would not have been prudent.
It was a proof that they had learned something already, that they
understood this.

The next day, more soup. This time the King allowed slices of bread in
it. How this good soup comforted all the town! The next day there was a
little more bread in it and a little soup meat. Then for a few days the
kind Prince gave them roast beef and vegetables. The cure was complete.

The joy over this new diet was as great as ever had been felt for the
tart. It promised to last longer. They were sure to sleep soundly,
and to wake refreshed. It was pleasant to see in every house tables
surrounded with happy, rosy faces, and laden with good nourishing food.

The Greedy people never fell back into their old ways. Their once
puffed-out, sallow faces shone with health; they became, not fat, but
muscular, ruddy, and solid. The butchers and bakers reopened their
shops; the pastry cooks and confectioners shut theirs. The country of
the Greedy was turned upside down, and if it kept its name, it was
only from habit. As for the tart, it was forgotten. To-day, in that
marvellous country, there cannot be found a paper of sugarplums or a
basket of cakes. It is charming to see the red lips and the beautiful
teeth of the people. If they have still a king, he may well be proud to
be their ruler.

Does this story teach that tarts and pies should never be eaten? No;
but there is reason in all things.

The doctors alone did not profit by this great revolution. They could
not afford to drink wine any longer in a land where indigestion had
become unknown. The apothecaries were no less unhappy, spiders spun
webs over their windows, and their horrible remedies were no longer of

Ask no more about Mother Mitchel. She was ridiculed without measure by
those who had adored her. To complete her misfortune, she lost her cat.
Alas for Mother Mitchel!

The King received the reward of his wisdom. His grateful people called
him neither Charles the Bold, nor Peter the Terrible, nor Louis the
Great, but always by the noble name of Prosper I, the Reasonable.



    This tale is evidence that Mrs. Freeman understands
    the children of New England as well as she knows their
    parents. There is a doll in the story, but boys will
    not mind this as there are also two turkey-gobblers and
    a pewter dish full of Revolutionary bullets.

SUBMIT THOMPSON sat on the stone wall; Sarah Adams, an erect, prim
little figure, ankle-deep in dry grass, stood beside it, holding
Thankful. Thankful was about ten inches long, made of the finest linen,
with little rosy cheeks, and a fine little wig of flax. She wore a
blue wool frock and a red cloak. Sarah held her close. She even drew
a fold of her own blue homespun blanket around her to shield her from
the November wind. The sky was low and gray; the wind blew from the
northeast, and had the breath of snow in it. Submit on the wall drew
her quilted petticoats close down over her feet, and huddled herself
into a small space, but her face gleamed keen and resolute out of the
depths of a great red hood that belonged to her mother. Her eyes were
fixed upon a turkey-gobbler ruffling and bobbing around the back door
of the Adams house. The two gambrel-roofed Thompson and Adams houses
were built as close together as if the little village of Bridgewater
were a city. Acres of land stretched behind them and at the other
sides, but they stood close to the road, and close to each other.
The narrow space between them was divided by a stone wall which was
Submit's and Sarah's trysting-place. They met there every day and
exchanged confidences. They loved each other like sisters--neither of
them had an own sister--but to-day a spirit of rivalry had arisen.

The tough dry blackberry vines on the wall twisted around Submit; she
looked, with her circle of red petticoat, like some strange late flower
blooming out on the wall. "I know he don't, Sarah Adams," said she.

"Father said he'd weigh twenty pounds," returned Sarah, in a small,
weak voice, which still had persistency in it.

"I don't believe he will. Our Thanksgiving turkey is twice as big. You
know he is, Sarah Adams."

"No, I don't, Submit Thompson."

"Yes, you do."

Sarah lowered her chin, and shook her head with a decision that was
beyond words. She was a thin, delicate-looking little girl, her small
blue-clad figure bent before the wind, but there was resolution in her
high forehead and her sharp chin.

Submit nodded violently.

Sarah shook her head again. She hugged Thankful, and shook her head,
with her eyes still staring defiantly into Submit's hood.

Submit's black eyes in the depths of it were like two sparks. She
nodded vehemently; the gesture was not enough for her; she nodded and
spoke together. "Sarah Adams," said she, "what will you give me if our
turkey is bigger than your turkey?"

"It ain't."

"What will you give me if it is?"

Sarah stared at Submit. "I don't know what you mean, Submit Thompson,"
said she, with a stately and puzzled air.

"Well, I'll tell you. If your turkey weighs more than ours I'll give
you--I'll give you my little work-box with the picture on the top, and
if our turkey weighs more than yours you give me---- What will you give
me, Sarah Adams?"

Sarah hung her flaxen head with a troubled air. "I don't know," said
she. "I don't believe I've got anything mother would be willing to have
me give away."

"There's Thankful. Your mother wouldn't care if you gave her away."

Sarah started, and hugged Thankful closer. "Yes, my mother would care,
too," said she. "Don't you know my Aunt Rose from Boston made her and
gave her to me?"

Sarah's beautiful young Aunt Rose from Boston was the special
admiration of both the little girls. Submit was ordinarily impressed by
her name, but now she took it coolly.

"What if she did?" she returned. "She can make another. It's just made
out of a piece of old linen, anyhow. My work-box is real handsome; but
you can do just as you are a mind to."

"Do you mean I can have the work-box to keep?" inquired Sarah.

"Course I do, if your turkey's bigger."

Sarah hesitated. "Our turkey is bigger anyhow," she murmured. "Don't
you think I ought to ask mother, Submit?" she inquired suddenly.

"No! What for? I don't see anything to ask your mother for. She won't
care anything about that rag doll."

"Ain't you going to ask your mother about the work-box?"

"No," replied Submit stoutly. "It's mine; my grandmother gave it to me."

Sarah reflected. "I _know_ our turkey is the biggest," she said,
looking lovingly at Thankful, as if to justify herself to her. "Well, I
don't care," she added, finally.

"Will you?"


"When's yours going to be killed?"

"This afternoon."

"So's ours. Then we'll find out."

Sarah tucked Thankful closer under her shawl. "I know our turkey is
biggest," said she. She looked very sober, although her voice was
defiant. Just then the great turkey came swinging through the yard. He
held up his head proudly and gobbled. His every feather stood out in
the wind. He seemed enormous--a perfect giant among turkeys. "_Look_ at
him!" said Sarah, edging a little closer to the wall; she was rather
afraid of him.

"He ain't half so big as ours," returned Submit, stoutly; but her heart
sank. The Thompson turkey did look very large.

"Submit! Submit!" called a voice from the Thompson house.

Submit slowly got down from the wall. "His feathers are a good deal
thicker than ours," she said, defiantly, to Sarah.

"Submit," called the voice, "come right home! I want you to pare apples
for the pies. Be quick!"

"Yes, marm," Submit answered back, in a shrill voice; "I'm coming!"
Then she went across the yard and into the kitchen door of the Thompson
house, like a red robin into a nest. Submit had been taught to obey her
mother promptly. Mrs. Thompson was a decided woman.

Sarah looked after Submit, then she gathered Thankful closer, and
also went into the house. Her mother, as well as Mrs. Thompson, was
preparing for Thanksgiving. The great kitchen was all of a pleasant
litter with pie plates and cake pans and mixing bowls, and full of
warm, spicy odours. The oven in the chimney was all heated and ready
for a batch of apple and pumpkin pies. Mrs. Adams was busy sliding them
in, but she stopped to look at Sarah and Thankful. Sarah was her only

"Why, what makes you look so sober?" said she.

"Nothing," replied Sarah. She had taken off her blanket, and sat in one
of the straight-backed kitchen chairs, holding Thankful.

"You look dreadful sober," said her mother. "Are you tired?"

"No, marm."

"I'm afraid you've got cold standing out there in the wind. Do you feel

"No, marm. Mother, how much do you suppose our turkey weighs?"

"I believe father said he'd weigh about twenty pounds. You are sure you
don't feel chilly?"

"No, marm. Mother, do you suppose our turkey weighs more than Submit's?"

"How do you suppose I can tell? I ain't set eyes on their turkey
lately. If you feel well, you'd better sit up to the table and stone
that bowl of raisins. Put your dolly away, and get your apron."

But Sarah stoned raisins with Thankful in her lap, hidden under her
apron. She was so full of anxiety that she could not bear to put her
away. Suppose the Thompson turkey should be larger, and she should lose
Thankful--Thankful that her beautiful Aunt Rose had made for her?

Submit, over in the Thompson house, had sat down at once to her apple
paring. She had not gone into the best room to look at the work-box
whose possession she had hazarded. It stood in there on the table,
made of yellow satiny wood, with a sliding lid ornamented with a
beautiful little picture. Submit had a certain pride in it, but her
fear of losing it was not equal to her hope of possessing Thankful.
Submit had never had a doll, except a few plebeian ones, manufactured
secretly out of corncobs, whom it took more imagination than she
possessed to admire.

Gradually all emulation over the turkeys was lost in the naughty
covetousness of her little friend and neighbour's doll. Submit felt
shocked and guilty, but she sat there paring the Baldwin apples, and
thinking to herself: "If our turkey is only bigger, if it only is,
then--I shall have Thankful." Her mouth was pursed up and her eyes
snapped. She did not talk at all, but pared very fast.

Her mother looked at her. "If you don't take care, you'll cut your
fingers," said she. "You are in too much of a hurry. I suppose you want
to get out and gossip with Sarah again at the wall, but I can't let you
waste any more time to-day. There, I told you you would!"

Submit had cut her thumb quite severely. She choked a little when her
mother tied it up, and put on some balm of Gilead, which made it smart

"Don't cry!" said her mother. "You'll have to bear more than a cut
thumb if you live."

[Illustration: "How much do you suppose our turkey weighs?"]

And Submit did not let the tears fall. She came from a brave race.
Her great-grandfather had fought in the Revolution; his sword and
regimentals were packed in the fine carved chest in the best
room. Over the kitchen shelf hung an old musket with which her
great-grandmother, guarding her home and children, had shot an Indian.
In a little closet beside the chimney was an old pewter dish full of
homemade Revolutionary bullets, which Submit and her brothers had for
playthings. A little girl who played with Revolutionary bullets ought
not to cry over a cut thumb.

Submit finished paring the apples after her thumb was tied up, although
she was rather awkward about it. Then she pounded spices in the mortar,
and picked over cranberries. Her mother kept her busy every minute
until dinnertime. When Submit's father and her two brothers, Thomas and
Jonas, had come in, she began on the subject nearest her heart.

"Father," said she, "how much do you think our Thanksgiving turkey will

Mr. Thompson was a deliberate man. He looked at her a minute before
replying. "Seventeen or eighteen pounds," replied he.

"Oh, Father! don't you think he will weigh twenty?" Mr. Thompson shook
his head.

"He don't begin to weigh so much as the Adams' turkey," said Jonas.
"Their turkey weighs twenty pounds."

"Oh, Thomas! do you think their turkey weighs more than ours?" cried

Thomas was her elder brother; he had a sober, judicial air like his
father. "Their turkey weighs considerable more than ours," said he.

Submit's face fell.

"You are not showing a right spirit," said her mother, severely. "Why
should you care if the Adams' turkey does weigh more? I am ashamed of

Submit said no more. She ate her dinner soberly. Afterward she wiped
dishes while her mother washed. All the time she was listening. Her
father and brothers had gone out; presently she started. "Oh, Mother,
they're killing the turkey!" said she.

"Well, don't stop while the dishes are hot, if they are," returned her

Submit wiped obediently, but as soon as the dishes were set away, she
stole out in the barn where her father and brothers were picking the

"Father, when are you going to weigh him?" she asked timidly.

"Not till to-night," said her father.

"Submit!" called her mother.

Submit went in and swept the kitchen floor. It was an hour after
that, when her mother was in the south room, getting it ready for her
grandparents, who were coming home to Thanksgiving--they had been on a
visit to their youngest son--that Submit crept slyly into the pantry.
The turkey lay there on the broad shelf before the window. Submit
looked at him. She thought he was small. "He was 'most all feathers,"
she whispered, ruefully. She stood looking disconsolately at the
turkey. Suddenly her eyes flashed and a red flush came over her face.
It was as if Satan, coming into that godly new England home three days
before Thanksgiving, had whispered in her ear.

Presently Submit stole softly back into the kitchen, set a chair before
the chimney cupboard, climbed up, and got the pewter dish full of
Revolutionary bullets. Then she stole back to the pantry and emptied
the bullets into the turkey's crop. Then she got a needle and thread
from her mother's basket, sewed up the crop carefully, and set the
empty dish back in the cupboard. She had just stepped down out of the
chair when her brother Jonas came in.

"Submit," said he, "let's have one game of odd or even with the

"I am too busy," said Submit. "I've got to spin my stint."

"Just one game. Mother won't care."

"No; I can't."

Submit flew to her spinning wheel in the corner. Jonas, still
remonstrating, strolled into the pantry.

"I don't believe mother wants you in there," Submit said anxiously.

"See here, Submit," Jonas called out in an eager voice, "I'll get
the steelyards, and we'll weigh the turkey. We can do it as well as

Submit left her spinning wheel. She was quite pale with trepidation
when Jonas and she adjusted the turkey in the steelyards. What if those
bullets should rattle out? But they did not.

"He weighs twenty pounds and a quarter," announced Jonas, with a gasp,
after peering anxiously at the figures. "He's the biggest turkey that
was ever raised in these parts."

Jonas exulted a great deal, but Submit did not say much. As soon as
Jonas had laid the turkey back on the shelf and gone out, she watched
her chance and removed the bullets, replacing them in the pewter dish.

When Mr. Thompson and Thomas came home at twilight there was a deal of
talk over the turkey.

"The Adams' turkey doesn't weigh but nineteen pounds," Jonas announced.
"Sarah was out there when they weighed him, and she 'most cried."

"I think Sarah and Submit and all of you are very foolish about it,"
said Mrs. Thompson severely. "What difference does it make if one
weighs a pound or two more than the other, if there is enough to go

"Submit looks as if she was sorry ours weighed the most now," said

"My thumb aches," said Submit.

"Go and get the balm of Gilead bottle, and put some more on," ordered
her mother.

That night when she went to bed she could not say her prayers. When she
woke in the morning it was with a strange, terrified feeling, as if she
had climbed a wall into some unknown dreadful land. She wondered if
Sarah would bring Thankful over; she dreaded to see her coming, but she
did not come. Submit herself did not stir out of the house all that day
or the next, and Sarah did not bring Thankful until next morning.

They were all out in the kitchen about an hour before dinner.
Grandfather Thompson sat in his old armchair at one corner of the
fireplace, Grandmother Thompson was knitting, and Jonas and Submit were
cracking butternuts. Submit was a little happier this morning. She
thought Sarah would never bring Thankful, and so she had not done so
much harm by cheating in the weight of the turkey.

There was a tug at the latch of the kitchen door; it was pushed open
slowly and painfully, and Sarah entered with Thankful in her arms.
She said not a word to anybody, but her little face was full of woe.
She went straight to Submit, and laid Thankful in her lap; then she
turned and fled with a great sob. The door slammed after her. All the
Thompsons stopped and looked at Submit.

"Submit, what does this mean?" her father asked.

Submit looked at him, trembling.

"Speak," said he.

"Submit, mind your father," said Mrs. Thompson.

"What did she bring you the doll baby for?" asked Grandmother Thompson.

"Sarah---was going to give me Thankful if---our turkey weighed most,
and I was going to---give her my---work-box if hers weighed most," said
Submit jerkily. Her lips felt stiff.

Her father looked very sober and stern. He turned to his father. When
Grandfather Thompson was at home, every one deferred to him. Even at
eighty he was the recognized head of the house. He was a wonderful
old man, tall and soldierly, and full of a grave dignity. He looked at
Submit, and she shrank.

"Do you know," said he, "that you have been conducting yourself like
unto the brawlers in the taverns and ale-houses?"

"Yes, sir," murmured Submit, although she did not know what he meant.

"No godly maid who heeds her elders will take part in any such foolish
and sinful wager," her grandfather continued.

Submit arose, hugging Thankful convulsively. She glanced wildly at her
great-grandmother's musket over the shelf. The same spirit that had
aimed it at the Indian possessed her, and she spoke out quite clearly:
"Our turkey didn't weigh the most," said she. "I put the Revolutionary
bullets in his crop."

There was silence. Submit's heart beat so hard that Thankful quivered.

"Go upstairs to your chamber, Submit," said her mother, "and you need
not come down to dinner. Jonas, take that doll and carry it over to the
Adams' house."

Submit crept miserably out of the room, and Jonas carried Thankful
across the yard to Sarah.

Submit crouched beside her little square window set with tiny panes of
glass, and watched him. She did not cry. She was very miserable, but
confession had awakened a salutary smart in her soul, like the balm of
Gilead on her cut thumb. She was not so unhappy as she had been. She
wondered if her father would whip her, and she made up her mind not to
cry if he did.

After Jonas came back she still crouched at the window. Exactly
opposite in the Adams' house was another little square window, and that
lighted Sarah's chamber. All of a sudden Sarah's face appeared there.
The two little girls stared pitifully at each other. Presently Sarah
raised her window, and put a stick under it; then Submit did the same.
They put their faces out, and looked at each other a minute before
speaking. Sarah's face was streaming with tears.

"What you crying for?" called Submit softly.

"Father sent me up here 'cause it is sinful to--make bets, and Aunt
Rose has come, and I can't have any--Thanksgiving dinner," wailed Sarah.

"I'm wickeder than you," said Submit. "I put the Revolutionary bullets
in the turkey to make it weigh more than yours. Yours weighed the most.
If mother thinks it's right, I'll give you the work-box."

"I don't--want it," sobbed Sarah. "I'm dreadful sorry you've got to
stay up there, and can't have any dinner, Submit."

Answering tears sprang to Submit's eyes. "I'm dreadful sorry you've got
to stay up there, and can't have any dinner," she sobbed back.

There was a touch on her shoulder. She looked around and there stood
the grandmother. She was trying to look severe, but she was beaming
kindly on her. Her fat, fair old face was as gentle as the mercy that
tempers justice; her horn spectacles and her knitting needles and the
gold beads on her neck all shone in the sunlight.

"You had better come downstairs, child," said she. "Dinner's 'most
ready, and mebbe you can help your mother. Your father isn't going
to whip you this time, because you told the truth about it, but you
mustn't ever do such a dreadful wicked thing again."

"No, I won't," sobbed Submit. She looked across, and there beside
Sarah's face in the window was another beautiful smiling one. It had
pink cheeks and sweet black eyes and black curls, among which stood a
high tortoise-shell comb.

"Oh, Submit!" Sarah called out, joyfully, "Aunt Rose says I can go down
to dinner!"

"Grandmother says I can!" called back Submit.

The beautiful smiling face opposite leaned close to Sarah's for a

"Oh, Submit!" cried Sarah, "Aunt Rose says she will make you a doll
baby like Thankful, if your mother's willing!"

"I guess she'll be willing if she's a good girl," called Grandmother

Submit looked across a second in speechless radiance. Then the faces
vanished from the two little windows, and Submit and Sarah went down to
their Thanksgiving dinners.


[1] From _Harper's Young People_, November 25, 1890.



    Beetle Ring had the reputation of being the toughest
    lumber camp on the river. The boys were certainly
    rough, and rather hard drinkers, but their hearts were
    in the right place, after all.

SIX months of idleness following a long run of fever, a lost position,
and consequent discouragement had brought poverty and wretchedness to
Joe Bennett.

The lumber camp on the Featherstone, where he had been at work, had
broken up and gone, and an old shack, deserted by some hunter, and now
standing alone in the great woods, was the only home he could provide
for his little family. It had answered its purpose as a makeshift in
the warm weather, but now, in late November, and with the terrible
northern winter coming swiftly on, it was small wonder the young
lumberman had been discouraged as he tried to forecast the future.

His strength had returned, however, and lately something of his old
courage, for he had found work. It was fifteen miles away, to be sure,
and in "Beetle Ring" lumber camp, the camp that bore the reputation
of being the roughest on the Featherstone, but it was work. He was
earning something, and might hope soon to move his family into a
habitable house and civilization.

But his position at Beetle Ring was not an enviable one. The men
took scant pains to conceal their dislike for the young fellow who
steadfastly refused to "chip in" when the camp jug was sent to the
Skylark, the nearest saloon, some miles down the river, and who
invariably declined to join in the camp's numerous sprees. But Bennett
worked on quietly.

And in the meantime to the old shack in the woods the baby had come--in
the bleak November weather.

Night was settling down over the woods. An old half-breed woman was
tending the fire in the one room of the shack, and on the wretched bed
lay a fair-faced woman, the young wife and mother, who looked wistfully
out at the bleak woods, white with the first snow, then turned her wan,
pale face toward the tiny bundle at her side.

"Your pappy will come to-night, baby," she said, softly. "It's
Saturday, and your pappy will come to-night, sure." She drew the covers
more closely, and tucked them carefully about the small figure.

"Mend the fire, Lisette, please. It's cold. And, Lisette, please watch
out down the road. Sometimes Joe comes early Saturdays."

The old woman shook her head and muttered over the little pile of wood,
but she fed the fire, and then turned and looked down the long white

"No Joe yet," she said, with a sympathetic glance toward the bed. She
looked at the thick gray clouds, and added, "Heap snow soon."

But the night came down and the evening passed, while the women
waited anxiously. It was near midnight when the wife's face lighted
up suddenly at a sound outside, and directly there was a pounding,
uncertain step on the threshold. The door opened and Bennett came in

The woman's little glad cry of welcome was changed to one of
apprehension at her husband's appearance. The resolute swing and
bearing of the lumberman--that had returned as he regained his
strength--were gone. He clumped across the room unsteadily on a pair
of rude crutches, his left foot swathed in bandages--a big, ungainly

"What is it, Joe?" the wife asked anxiously.

"Just more of my precious luck, that's all, Nannie." He threw off the
old box coat and heavy cap, brushed the melting snow from his hair
and beard, and without waiting to warm his chilled hands at the fire,
hobbled to the bed and bent over the woman and the tiny bundle.

"Are you all right, Nan?" he asked anxiously.

"All right, Joe; but I've been so worried!"

"And the baby, Nan?"

The wife gently pushed back the covers and proudly brought to view a
tiny pink and puckered face. "Fine, Joe. She's just as fine, isn't she?"

A proud, happy light flickered for a moment in the man's eyes as
he stooped to kiss the tiny face; then he shut his teeth hard and
swallowed suddenly.

"What is it, Joe?" his wife asked, looking at the rudely bandaged foot.

"Cut it--nigh half off, and hurt the bone. It'll be weeks before I can
do a stroke of work again. It means--I don't know what, and I daren't
think what, Nannie. The cook sewed it up." He glowered at the injured
member savagely.

His wife's face grew paler still, but she only asked tenderly, "How did
you ever get here, Joe?"

"Rode one of Pose Breem's hosses--his red roan."

"Fifteen miles on horseback with that foot? I should have thought it
would have killed you, Joe."

"I had to come, Nan," said the lumberman. "I didn't know how you were
getting on, and I had to come."

"I didn't suppose they'd let you have a horse, any of 'em, now
sleighing's come."

"They wouldn't--if I'd asked 'em. They don't seem to like me very well,
and I didn't ask."

His wife's big, wistful eyes were turned upon him in quick alarm. "I'm
scared, Joe, if you took a horse without asking. What'll they think?
Where is it, Joe?"

"Don't ye worry, Nan. I've sent the horse back by Pikepole Pete. He'll
have him back before morning--Pose won't miss him till then--and I
wrote a note explaining. Pose will be mad some, but he'll get over it."

The young lumberman listened uneasily to the storm, which was
increasing, looked at his wife's pale face a moment, and added:

"I had to come, Nan. I just had to."

But the woman was only half reassured. "If anything should happen," she
said, "if he shouldn't get it back, they'd think you--you stole it,

"There, there, Nan!" broke in her husband, "don't be crossing bridges.
Pete'll take the horse back. I've done the fellow lots of favours, and
he won't go back on me. Don't worry, girl!"

He moved the bandaged foot and winced, but not from the pain of the
wound. The hard look grew deeper on his face. "I'm down on my luck,
Nan," he said, hopelessly. "There's no use trying. Everything's against
me, everything--following me like grim death. And grim death," he
jerked the words out harshly, "is like to be the end of it, here in
this old shack that's not fit to winter hogs in, let alone humans.
There's not wood enough cut to last a week. You'll freeze, Nan, you and
the baby, and I'm--just nothing."

He took two silver dollars from his pocket, and said, almost savagely,
"There's what we've got to winter on, and me crippled."

But his wife put her hand on his softly. "Don't you give up so, Joe,"
she said. And presently she added: "Next Thursday's Thanksgiving. We've
seen hard times, and we may see harder, but I never knew Thanksgiving
to come yet without something to be thankful for--never."

Outside the storm continued, fine snow sifting down rapidly. "Pikepole
Pete" found stiff work facing it, and bent low over the red roan's neck.

"Blue blazes!" he muttered. "Bennett's a good fellow all right, and
he's hurt; but if he hadn't nigh saved my life twice he could get this
critter back himself fer all of me!" He glanced at the dark woods and
drew up suddenly. "The road forks here, and Turner's is yonder--less
than a mile. I'll hitch in his barn a spell and go on later," and he
took the Turner fork.

But at Turner's Pete found two or three congenial spirits--and a jug;
and a few hours later the easy-going fellow was deep in a tipsy sleep
that would last for hours.

The following Sunday morning came bright and clear upon freshly fallen
snow that softened all the ruder outlines of town and field and woods.
Beetle Ring camp lay wrapped in fleecy whiteness.

The camp was late astir, for Sunday was Beetle Ring's day--not of rest,
but of carousal. Two men had started out rather early--the camp's jug
delegation to the Skylark. Presently the men began to straggle out to
the snug row of sheds where the horses were kept. Posey Breem yawned
lazily as he threw open the door of his particular stall, then suddenly
brought himself together with a jerk and stared fixedly.

"What ails you now, Pose? Seen a ghost?"

"Skid" Thomson stopped with the big measure of feed which he was

"No, I've seen no ghost," said Breem slowly, still staring. "Look
here, Skid!" Thomson looked into the stall, and nearly dropped the

"By George, Pose!" he said. "By--George!"

The news flew over the camp like wildfire. Posey Breem's red roan,
the best horse in the camp, had been stolen! The burly lumbermen came
hurrying from all directions. There was no doubt about it--the horse
was gone, and the snow had covered every trace. There was absolutely no
clue to follow. Silently and sullenly the men filed in to breakfast. In
a lumberman's eyes hardly a crime could exceed that of horse stealing.

"What I want to know is," said Breem, as he glanced sharply round
the long room of the camp, "what's become of that yellow-haired

"By George!" said Skid Thomson, "that's right! Where is the critter?"

"Skipped!" said Bill Bates, sententiously, after a quick search had
been made. "It's all plain enough now. I never liked the close-fisted

"Nor I, either!" growled Skid. "Never chipped in with the boys, but was
laying low just the same."

"You won't catch him, either," said Bates. "They're sharp--that kind.
The critter knew 'twould snow and hide his tracks."

"And I'd just sewed up his blamed foot!" muttered the cook in disgust.

"Maybe we'll catch him. Up to Fat Pine two years ago," began Breem,
reminiscently, "Big Donovan had a horse stole. They caught the fellow."

"Yes, I remember," said Skid Thomson. "I was there. We caught him up
north." The men nodded understandingly and approvingly.

"Wuth a hundred and fifty dollars, the roan was," said Breem.

Beetle Ring camp passed an uneasy day, the "jug" for once receiving
scant attention. Late in the afternoon "Trapper John," an old
half-breed who hunted and trapped about the woods, stopped at the camp
to get warm.

"Didn't see anybody with a horse last night or this morning, eh, John?"
asked Posey Breem.

"Um, yes," responded the old trapper, quickly. "Saw um horse las'
night--man ride--big foot--so." Old John held out his arms in
exaggerated illustration.

Beetle Ring rose to its feet as one man. "What colour was the horse,
John?" asked Breem softly.

"Huh! Can't see good after dark, but think um roan." Breem looked
slowly round the silent camp, and Beetle Ring grimly made ready for

It was evening when the men stopped a few rods below the shack. A light
shone out from a window, lighting up a little space in the sombre woods.

"The fellow's got pals prob'bly," said Posey Breem. "You wait here
while I do a little scouting."

Breem crept cautiously into the circle of light, and glancing through
the uncurtained window, saw his man--with his "pals." He saw upon the
miserable bed a woman with a thin, pale face and sad, wistful eyes,
eyes that yet lighted up with a beautiful pride as they rested upon the
man, who sat close by, holding a tiny bundle in his arms.

The man shifted his position a little, so that the light fell upon the
bundle, and then the watcher outside saw the sleeping face of a baby.

There was a rumour in the camp that Posey Breem had not always been the
man that he was--that a woman had once blessed his life. But since they
had carried the young mother away, with her dead baby on her breast, to
place the two in one deep grave together, he had gone steadily downward.

With hungry eyes Breem gazed at the scene in the poor little house,
his thoughts flying backward over the years. A sudden sharp, impatient
whistle roused him, and he strode hastily back to the waiting men.

"Well, Pose?" interrogated Skid impatiently.

"He's there, all right," said Breem, in a peculiar tone. "I ain't
overmuch given to advising prowling round folks' houses, but you
fellows just look in yonder." He jerked his head toward the shack. And
a line of big, rough-looking men filed into the little illumined space,
to come back presently silent and subdued.

"Now let's go home," said Breem, turning his horse toward camp.

"And your horse, Pose?" questioned Bates.

"Burn the horse!" said Breem quickly. "D'ye think the like of yonder's
a horse thief? I ain't worrying 'bout the horse." And the men rode
back to camp silently.

The next morning, when Breem swung open the door of the stall, he was
not surprised to find the red roan standing quietly by the side of his
mate. A bit of crumpled paper was pinned to the blanket. Breem read:

    I rode your horse. I had to. I'll surely make it right.

"Course he had to!" growled the lumberman, and he passed the paper

"Oncommon peart baby," said Skid, at last.

"Dreadful cold shack, though!" muttered Bates, conveying a quarter of a
griddlecake to his mouth.

"That's just it," said Pose, scowling. "Just let a stiff nip of winter
come, and the woman yonder and the little critter, they'd freeze,
that's what they'd do, in that old rattletrap."

The men looked at one another in solemn assent. "And I've been
thinking," continued Breem, "since Bennett there belonged to the camp,
and since we kind of misused the fellow for being stingy--for which we
ought to have been smashed with logs--that we have a kind of a claim on
'em, as 'twere, and they on us. And we must get 'em out of that yonder
before they freeze plumb solid." He stopped inquiringly.

"Right as right," assented several.

"And I've been thinking," said Bates suddenly, "about that storeroom
of ours. It's snug and warm, and there's a lot of room in it, and we
can put a stove into it and----" But the rest of Bates's suggestion was
drowned in a round of applause.

"And _I've_ been thinking, just a little," put in Skid Thomson, "and
if I've figured correct, next Thursday's Thanksgiving--don't know as
I've thought of it in ten years--and if we stir round sharp we can
get things ready by then, and--well, 'twouldn't hurt Beetle Ring to
celebrate for once----" But Skid was also interrupted by a cheer.

"And it's my firm belief," reflected Bates with an air of profound
conviction, "that that baby of Bennett's was designed special and, as
you might say, providential, for to be Beetle Ring's mascot. Fat Pine
and Horseshoe have 'em--mascots--to bring luck, and I've noticed Beetle
Ring ain't had the luck lately it should have."

Bates paused, and the camp meditated in silent delight.

Thanksgiving morning was a cold one, but clear. More snow had fallen,
and the deep, feathery whiteness stretched away until lost in the dark
background of the pines and spruces. A wavering line of smoke rose over
the roof of the little old shack in the woods.

Bennett was winding rags round the armpieces of the rough crutches.
He had dragged in some short limbs the day before for fuel, but in so
doing had broken open the wound, which gave him excruciating pain.

"Joe," said his wife, suddenly, "where are you going?"

"I'm going to try for help, Nan. We're out of nigh everything, and my
foot no better."

"You can't do it, Joe. You--you'll die, if you try, Joe, alone in the
woods. Oh, Joe!"

The look of hope that had never wholly left the woman's eyes was slowly
fading out.

"We'll all die if I don't try, Nannie. I'm----"

"Huh!" suddenly exclaimed the old woman, peering out of the little
window. "Heap men, heap horses! Look, see 'em come!"

Bennett turned hastily, and saw a long line of stalwart men and sturdy
horses threshing resolutely through the deep snow and heading directly
for the shack. He looked keenly at the men, and his face paled a
little, but he said steadily, "It's the Beetle Ring men, Nan."

His wife gave a sharp cry. "It's the horse, Joe! It's the horse!
They're after you, Joe, sure!" She caught her husband's arm.

The men were now filling up the little space before the shack. Directly
there came a sounding knock. Bennett opened the door to admit the burly
frame of Posey Breem. He said quietly:

"I'm here all right, Pose, and I took your horse, but----"

"Burn the hoss!" said Breem explosively. "That's all right. Shake,
pard!" He held out a brawny hand. Bennett "shook" wonderingly.

"Wife, pard?" asked Breem, gently, nodding toward the bed. Bennett
hastily introduced him.

"Kid, pard?" Breem pointed a stubby finger at the little bundle.

Bennett nodded.

The lumberman grinned delightedly, then coughed a little, and began

"Pard, th' boys over at Beetle Ring heard--as you might say,
accidental"--Breem coughed into his big hand--"about your folks over
here, your wife _and_--the baby. They were powerful interested,
specially about the baby. Why, pard, some of the boys hain't seen a
baby in ten years, and we thought as you belonged to the camp, maybe
you and your wife would allow that the camp had a sort of claim on the
little critter yonder." He eyed the tiny bundle wistfully.

"And another thing that hit the boys, pard," he went on. "Up at Fat
Pine they got what they call a mascot, bein' a tame b'ar; an' up
at Horseshoe they got a mascot, bein' a goat. Lots of camps have
'em--fetches luck. And the boys are sure that this baby of yours was
designed special to be Beetle Ring's mascot. Now, pard, Beetle Ring, as
you know, ain't what you'd call a Sunday-school, but the boys they'll
behave. They fixed up that storeroom to beat all, nice bed, big stove,
and lots of wood, and so on, and we've got a cow for the woman and
baby. Say, we want you powerful. Got a sleigh fixed, hemlock boughs
and a cover of robes and blankets, and Skid'll drive careful. He's
a master at drivin', Skid is. You'll come, won't you? The boys are

Big tears were in the woman's eyes as she turned toward her husband.
"Oh, Joe," she said, and choked suddenly; but she pressed the baby
tightly to her breast. "I knew 'twould come Thanksgiving."

"There, pard," said Breem, after blowing his nose explosively, "you
just see to wrappin' up the woman and the kid, and me and Skid, being
as you're hurt, you know, 'll tote 'em out to the sleigh."

The young mother was soon placed carefully in the sleigh, the old woman
following. But when Skid Thomson appeared in the door of the old shack,
bearing a tiny form muffled up with wondrous care, the whole of Beetle
Ring shouted.

Breem led up a spare horse for Bennett's use. The latter stopped short,
with a curious expression on his face. The horse was the red roan.

But Breem only said, his keen eyes twinkling:

"Under such circumstances as these, pard, you're welcome to all the
hosses in Beetle Ring."

With steady, practiced hand Skid Thomson guided his powerful team
through the deep snow, over the rough forest road; and sometimes brawny
arms carried the sleigh bodily over the roughest places.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the close of the day an anxious consultation took place in the big
main room of Beetle Ring, and presently two men appeared outside.

They walked slowly toward what had been the camp's storeroom, but
halted before the door hesitatingly.

"You go in ahead, Skid, and ask 'em," said Breem, earnestly, to his

"No, go ahead yourself, Pose. I'd be sure to calk a hoss or split a
runner, or somethin'. Go on!"

Breem knocked, and both went in.

"All right, pard?"

"Right as right, Pose," said Joe Bennett.

"Wife all right?" Breem turned toward the bed, and Mrs. Bennett smiled
up at him with happy eyes, and with a bit of colour already showing in
her pale face. Breem smiled back broadly. Then he asked, "_And_, pard,
the baby?"

"Peart as peart, Pose."

Breem waited a little, twirling his cap, but receiving a sharp thump
from Thomson, went on:

"The boys, pard, are anxious about the little critter. They're kind
of hankering, pard, and, mum, if you are willin', and ain't 'fraid to
trust her with us, why, we'd be mighty glad to tote her--just for a
few minutes--over to camp. The boys are stiddy, all of 'em, stiddy as
churches. They hain't soaked a mite to-day, mum, and they ain't goin'
to; they've hove the jug into a snowdrift, and they'd take it kind,
mum--if you are willin'."

The woman, still smiling happily, was already wrapping up the baby.

Breem held up a warning finger when he returned a little later, and
again smiled delightedly.

"Went to sleep a-totin'--if you'll believe it, the burned little
critter!" he said, softly. "And," he added, "the boys, pard, are mighty
pleased; and, mum, they thank you kindly. They say, the boys do, there
ain't such a mascot as theirs in five hundred miles; they see luck
comin', chunks of it, pard, already." And the big fellow went out and
closed the door gently.


[2] From the _Youth's Companion_, November 30, 1905.




    Older boys and girls who are familiar with "The
    Courtship of Miles Standish" will enjoy the colonial
    flavour of this tale of 1705.

"OBED!" called Mistress Achsah Ely from her front porch, "step thee
over to Squire Belding's, quick! Here's a teacup! Ask Mistress Belding
for the loan of some molasses. Nothing but molasses and hot water helps
the baby when he is having such a turn of colic. Beseems me he will
have a fit! Make haste, Obed!"

At that very moment Squire Belding's little daughter Hitty was
travelling toward Mistress Ely's for the purpose of borrowing molasses
wherewith to sweeten a ginger cake. Hitty and Obed, who were of an
age, met, compared notes, and then returned to their respective homes.
Shortly afterward both of them darted forth again, bound on the same
errands as before, only in different directions.

Mr. Chapin, the storekeeper, hadn't "set eyes on any molasses for a
week. The river's frozen over so mean and solid," he said, "there's no
knowing when there'll be any molasses in town."

There had been very peculiar weather in Colchester during this month
of October, 1705. First, on the 13th (Old Style), an unprecedently
early date, had come a "terrible cold snap," lasting three days. This
was followed by two days of phenomenal mildness. The river had frozen
over during the "cold snap," and the ice had melted during the warm
days, until, on the 19th, it was breaking up and preparing to go out
to sea. In the night of the 19th had descended a frigid blast, colder
than the original one. This had arrested the broken ice, piled it up in
all sorts of fantastic forms, and congealed it till it looked like a
rough Alaskan glacier. After the cold wind had come a heavy snowstorm.
All Colchester lay under three feet of snow. Footpaths and roads were
broken out somewhat in the immediate village, but no farther. It was
most unusual to have the river closed so early in the season, and
consequently the winter supplies, which were secured from New London
and Norwich, had not been laid in. Even Mr. Chapin, the storekeeper,
was but poorly supplied with staples of which he ordinarily kept an
abundance on hand.

Therefore when Obed and Hitty had made the tour of the neighbourhood
they found but one family, that of Deacon Esteem Elliott, the richest
man in the place, which had any molasses. Mistress Elliott, in spite
of her wealth, was said to be "none too free with her stuff," and
she was not minded to lend any molasses under the circumstances, for
"a trifling foolish" cake. Obed's representation of the distress of
the Ely baby, however, appealed even to her, and she lent him a large
spoonful of the precious liquid.

That afternoon there was as much visiting about among the Colchester
housewives as the drifts permitted. Such a state of things had never
been known since the town was settled. No molasses! And Thanksgiving
appointed for the first Thursday in November! Pray what would
Thanksgiving amount to, they inquired, with no pumpkin pies, no baked
beans, no molasses cake, no proper sweetening for the rum so freely
used in those days?

Mistress Esteem Elliott was even more troubled than the rest of
Colchester, for was not her buxom daughter, and only child, Prudence
Ann, to be married on Thanksgiving Day to the son of a great magnate in
the neighbouring town of Hebron? And was it not the intention to invite
all of the aristocracy of both towns to be present at the marriage

Mistress Elliott accordingly pursued her way upon this Tuesday
afternoon, October 19, 1705, over to Mistress Achsah Ely's. There she
found Mistress Belding, who, remembering Mistress Elliott's refusal to
lend her molasses, was naturally somewhat chill in her manner.

Mistress Elliott had scarcely pulled off her homespun leggings (made
with stout and ample feet) and pulled out her knitting work, when
Mistress Camberly, the parson's wife, a lady of robust habit and
voluble tongue, came in.

"And what are we going to do, Mistress Ely?" she burst out, as soon as
the door was opened at her knock. "Not a drop of molasses to be had for
love nor money, and Thanksgiving Day set for the 4th of November!"

"Mistress Elliott has a-plenty of molasses," affirmed Mistress Belding,
with a haughty look at her unaccommodating neighbour.

"I'd have you to know, Mistress Betty Belding," retorted Mistress
Elliott, "that I have a bare quart or so in my jug, and, so far as I
can learn, that is all that the whole town of Colchester has got to
depend upon till the roads or the river can be broken to Norwich."

Mistress Ely well understood this little passage-at-arms, for Obed had
told her the whole story; but as her baby had been cured by Mistress
Elliott's molasses, she did not think it proper to interfere in the
matter. Neither did the good parson's wife, although she could not
comprehend the rights of the case. She simply repeated her first
question: "What are we going to do about it, I should like to know?"

"I wonder if Thanksgiving Day could not be put off a week," suggested
Mistress Belding, who had a good head, and was even reported to give
such advice to her husband that he always thought best to heed it.

"Such a thing was never heard of!" cried Mistress Elliott.

"But there's no law against it," insisted Mistress Belding boldly. "By
a week from the set day there will surely be some means of getting
about the country, and then we can have a Thanksgiving that's worth the
setting down to."

After a long talk the good women separated in some doubt, but as Squire
Belding and Mr. Ely were two of the three selectmen, they were soon
acquainted with the drift of the afternoon's discussion. The result of
it all is thus chronicled in the town records of Colchester:

    "At a legal town-meeting held in Colchester, October
    29, 1705, it was voted that _WHEREAS_ there was a
    Thanksgiving appointed to be held on the first Thursday
    in November, and our present circumstances being
    such that it cannot with convenience be attended on
    that day, it is therefore voted and agreed by the
    inhabitants as aforesaid (concluding the thing will
    not be otherwise than well resented) that the second
    Thursday of November aforesaid shall be set aside for
    that service."

This proceeding was, on the whole, as the selectmen had hoped that it
would be, "well resented" among the Colchester people, but there was
one household in which there was rebellion at the mandate. In the great
sanded kitchen of Deacon Esteem Elliott pretty, spoilt Prudence Ann was
fairly raging over it.

"I had set my heart on being married on Thanksgiving Day," she sobbed.
"And here it won't be Thanksgiving Day at all! And as for putting off
a wedding, everybody knows there is no surer way of bringing ill luck
down than that! I say I won't have it put off! But we can't have any
party with no molasses in town! Oh, dear! I might as well be married in
the back kitchen with a linsey gown on, as if I were the daughter of
old Betty, the pie woman! There!"

Then the proud girl would break into fresh sobs, and vow vengeance upon
the selectmen of Colchester. She even sent her father to expostulate
with them, but it was of no use. They had known all along that
the Elliotts did not want the festival day put off, but nobody in
Colchester minded very much if the Elliotts were a little crossed.

Prudence Ann would not face the reality till after the Sabbath was
past. On that day the expectant bridegroom managed to break his way
through the drifts from Hebron, and he was truly grieved, as he should
have been, at the very unhappy state of mind of his betrothed. He
avowed himself, however, in a way which augured well for the young
people's future, ready to do just what Prudence Ann and her family
decided was best.

On Monday morning Mistress Elliott sat down with her unreasonable
daughter and had a serious talk with her.

"Now, Prudence Ann," she began, "you must give up crying and fretting.
If you are going to be married on Thursday, we have got a great deal of
work to do between now and then. If you are going to wait till next
week, I want to know it. Of course you can't have a large party, if
you choose to be married on the 4th, but we will ask John's folks and
Aunt Susanna and Uncle Martin and Parson Camberley and his wife. We
can bake enough for them with what's in the house. If you wait another
week, you can probably have a better party--and now you have it all in
a nutshell."

Prudence Ann was hysterical even yet, but at last her terror of a
postponed wedding overcame every other consideration. The day was set
for the 4th, and the few guests were bidden accordingly.

On the morning of the wedding, on a neat shelf in the back kitchen of
the Elliott residence, various delicacies were resting, which had been
baked for the banquet. Mistress Elliott's molasses had sufficed to make
a vast cake and several pumpkin pies. These, hot from the oven, had
been placed in the coolness of the back kitchen until they should be
ready for eating.

It so happened that Miss Hitty Belding's sharp eyes, as she passed
Mistress Elliott's back door, bound on an errand to the house of the
neighbour living just beyond, fell upon the rich golden brown of this
wonderful cake. As such toothsome dainties were rare in Colchester at
just this time, it is not strange that her childish soul coveted it,
for Hitty was but ten years old. As she walked on she met Obed Ely.

"I tell you what, Obed," said Miss Hitty, "you ought to see the great
molasses cake which Mistress Elliott has made for Prudence Ann's
wedding. It is in her back kitchen. I saw it right by the door. Mean
old thing! She wouldn't lend my mother any molasses to make _us_ a
cake. I wish I had hers!"

"So do I!" rejoined Obed, with watering lips. "I'm going to peek in and
see it."

Obed went and "peeked," while Hitty sauntered slowly on. The
contemplation of the cake under the circumstances was too much for
even so well-brought-up a boy as Obed. Without stopping to really
think what he was doing, he unwound from his neck his great woollen
"comforter," wrapped it hastily around the cake, and was walking with
it beside Hitty in the lonely, drifted country road five minutes
later. The hearts of the two little conspirators--for they felt guilty
enough--beat very hard, but they could not help thinking how good that
cake would taste. A certain Goodsir Canty's cornhouse stood near them
in a clump of trees beside the road, and as the door was open they
crept in, gulped down great "chunks" of cake, distributed vast slices
of what was left about their persons, Obed taking by far the lion's
share, and then they parted, vowing eternal secrecy. Nobody had seen
them, and something which happened just after they had left Mistress
Eliott's back kitchen directed suspicion to an entirely different

Not two minutes after Obed's "comforter" had been thrown around the
great cake a beautiful calf, the pride of Mistress Elliott's heart, and
which was usually kept tied in the barn just beyond the back kitchen,
somehow unfastened her rope and came strolling along past the open back
door. The odour of the pumpkin pies naturally interested her, and she
proceeded to lick up the delicious creamy filling of one after another
with great zest.

Just as she was finishing the very last one of the four or five which
had stood there, Mistress Elliott appeared upon the scene, to find
her precious dainties faded like the baseless fabric of a vision,
leaving behind them only a few broken bits of pie crust. A series of
"short, sharp shocks" (as described in "The Mikado") then rent the
air, summoning Prudence Ann and Delcy, the maid, to the scene of the
calamity. Let us draw a veil over the succeeding ten minutes.

At the end of that time Prudence Ann lay upon the sitting-room lounge
(or "settle," as they called it then) passing from one fainting fit
into another, and Delcy was out in search of the doctor and such family
friends as were likely to be of service in this unexpected dilemma. It
was, of course, supposed that the calf had devoured the whole of the
mighty cake as well as the pies. It was lucky for Obed and Hitty that
the poor beast could not speak. As it was, nobody so much as thought of
accusing them of the theft, though there were plenty of crumbs in their
pockets, while the death of the innocent heifer was loudly demanded
by the angry Prudence Ann. It was only by artifice and diplomacy that
Mistress Elliott was able to preserve the life of her favourite,
which, if it had really eaten the cake, must surely have perished.

The wedding finally came off on the 4th, though there was a pouting
bride, and nuts, apples, and cider were said to be the chief
refreshments. Prudence Ann, however, probably secured the "good luck"
for which she was so anxious, for there is no record nor tradition to
the contrary in all Colchester.

Nothing would probably ever have been known of the real fate of the
famous cake if the tale had not been told by Mistress Hitty in her old
age to her grandchildren, with appropriate warnings to them never to
commit similar misdemeanours themselves.

Little Obed Ely, the active agent in the theft, died not long after
it. His tombstone, very black and crumbled, stands in one of the old
burying grounds of the town, but nothing is carved upon it as to the
cause of his early death.

The story of the Colchester molasses famine, and the consequent
postponement of their Thanksgiving, naturally spread throughout all
the surrounding towns. It was said that in one of these a party of
roguish boys loaded an old cannon with molasses and fired it in the
direction of Colchester. How they did this has not been stated, and
some irreverent disbelievers in the more uncommon of our grandfathers'
stories have profanely declared it a myth.


[3] From _Wideawake_, November, 1891, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Company.

[4] The main facts in this story are strictly historical.



    A story of the time long ago when the Pilgrims of
    Plymouth invited the Indian chief Massasoit and his
    followers to share their feast.

ALL through the first summer and the early part of autumn the Pilgrims
were busy and happy. They had planted and cared for their first fields
of corn. They had found wild strawberries in the meadows, raspberries
on the hillsides, and wild grapes in the woods.

In the forest just back of the village wild turkeys and deer were
easily shot. In the shallow waters of the bay there was plenty of fish,
clams, and lobsters.

The summer had been warm, with a good deal of rain and much sunshine;
and so when the autumn came there was a fine crop of corn.

"Let us gather the fruits of our first labours and rejoice together,"
said Governor Bradford.

"Yes," said Elder Brewster, "let us take a day upon which we may thank
God for all our blessings, and invite to it our Indian friends who have
been so kind to us."

The Pilgrims said that one day was not enough; so they planned to have
a celebration for a whole week. This took place most likely in October.

The great Indian chief, Massasoit, came with ninety of his bravest
warriors, all gayly dressed in deerskins, feathers, and foxtails, with
their faces smeared with red, white, and yellow paint.

As a sign of rank, Massasoit wore round his neck a string of bones and
a bag of tobacco. In his belt he carried a long knife. His face was
painted red, and his hair was so daubed with oil that Governor Bradford
said he "looked greasily."

Now there were only eleven buildings in the whole of Plymouth village,
four log storehouses and seven little log dwelling-houses; so the
Indian guests ate and slept out of doors. This was no matter, for it
was one of those warm weeks in the season we call Indian summer.

To supply meat for the occasion four men had already been sent out to
hunt wild turkeys. They killed enough in one day to last the whole
company almost a week.

Massasoit helped the feast along by sending some of his best hunters
into the woods. They killed five deer, which they gave to their
paleface friends, that all might have enough to eat.

Under the trees were built long, rude tables on which were piled baked
clams, broiled fish, roast turkey, and deer meat.

The young Pilgrim women helped serve the food to the hungry redskins.

Let us remember two of the fair girls who waited on the tables. One
was Mary Chilton, who leaped from the boat at Plymouth Rock; the other
was Mary Allerton. She lived for seventy-eight years after this first
Thanksgiving, and of those who came over in the _Mayflower_ she was the
last to die.

What a merry time everybody had during that week! It may be they joked
Governor Bradford about stepping into a deer trap set by the Indians
and being jerked up by the leg.

How the women must have laughed as they told about the first Monday
morning at Cape Cod, when they all went ashore to wash their clothes!

It must have been a big washing, for there had been no chance to do it
at sea, so stormy had been the long voyage of sixty-three days. They
little thought that Monday would afterward be kept as washday.

Then there was young John Howland, who in mid-ocean fell overboard but
was quick enough to catch hold of a trailing rope. Perhaps after dinner
he invited Elizabeth Tilley, whom he afterward married, to sail over to
Clarke's Island and return by moonlight.

With them, it may be, went John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, whose love
story is so sweetly told by Longfellow.

One proud mother, we may be sure, showed her bright-eyed boy, Peregrine

And so the fun went on. In the daytime the young men ran races, played
games, and had a shooting match. Every night the Indians sang and
danced for their friends; and to make things still more lively they
gave every now and then a shrill war whoop that made the woods echo in
the still night air.

The Indians had already learned to love and fear Captain Miles
Standish. Some of them called him "Boiling Water" because he was easily
made angry. Others called him "Captain Shrimp," on account of his small

Every morning the shrewd captain put on his armour and paraded his
little company of a dozen or more soldiers; and when he fired off the
cannon on Burial Hill the Indians must have felt that the English were
men of might thus to harness up thunder and lightning.

During this week of fun and frolic it was a wonder if young Jack
Billington did not play some prank on the Indians. He was the boy who
fired off his father's gun one day, close to a keg of gunpowder, in the
crowded cabin of the _Mayflower_.

The third day came. Massasoit had been well treated, and no doubt would
have liked to stay longer, but he had said he could stay only three
days. So the pipe of peace was silently passed around.

Then, taking their presents of glass beads and trinkets, the Indian
king and his warriors said farewell to their English friends and began
their long tramp through the woods to their wigwams on Mount Hope Bay.

On the last day of this Thanksgiving party the Pilgrims had a service
of prayer and praise. Elder Brewster preached the first Thanksgiving
sermon. After thanking God for all his goodness, he did not forget the
many loved ones sleeping on the hillside.

He spoke of noble John Carver, the first governor, who had died of
worry and overwork.

Nor was Rose Standish forgotten, the lovely young wife of Captain Miles
Standish, whose death was caused by cold and lack of good food.

And then there was gentle Dorothy, wife of Governor Bradford, who had
fallen overboard from the _Mayflower_ in Provincetown harbour while her
husband was coasting along the bleak shore in search of a place for a

The first Thanksgiving took place nearly three hundred years ago. Since
that time, almost without interruption, Thanksgiving has been kept by
the people of New England as the great family festival of the year. At
this time children and grandchildren return to the old home, the long
table is spread, and brothers and sisters, separated often by many
miles, again sit side by side.

To-day Thanksgiving is observed in nearly all the states of the Union,
a season of sweet and blessed memories.


[5] From "Short Stories from American History," Ginn & Co.



    Many a chuckle lies in wait for the reader in the pages
    of this story. And the humour is of the sweet, mellow
    sort that sometimes brings moisture to the eyes as well
    as laughter to the lips.

PEOPLE said that if it had not been for that annuity Eph Todd would
have been at the poor farm himself instead of setting up a rival to
it; but there _was_ the annuity, and that was the beginning of Todd's

No matter who or what you were, if you were in hard luck, Todd's asylum
was open to you. The No. 4 district schoolhouse clock was a sample. For
thirty years it had smiled from the wall upon successive generations
of scholars, until, one day, bowed with years and infirmities, it had
ceased to tick. It had been taken gently down, laid out on a desk in
state for a day or two, and finally was in funeral procession to the
rubbish heap when Eph Todd appeared.

"You're not going to throw that good old clock away?" Eph had asked of
the committeeman who acted as bearer.

"Guess I'll have to," replied the other. "I've wound it up tight, put
'most a pint of kerosene in it, and shook it till I'm dizzy, and it
won't tick a bit. Guess the old clock's done for."

"Now see here," said Eph; "you just let me have a try at it. Let me
take it home a spell."

"Oh, for that matter I'll give it to you," the committeeman replied.
"We've bought another for the schoolhouse."

A day or two after the old clock ticked away as soberly as ever on the
wall of the Todd kitchen.

"Took it home and boiled it in potash," Eph used to say; "and there it
is, just as good as it was thirty years ago."

This was true, with restrictions, for enough enamel was gone from the
face to make the exact location of the hour an uncertain thing; and
there were days, when the wind was in the east, when the hour hand
needed periodical assistance.

"It wasn't much of a job," as Eph said, "to reach up once an hour and
send the hand along one space, and Aunt Tildy had to have something to
look forward to."

Aunt Tildy was the first inmate at Todd's, and if Eph had possessed no
other recommendation to eternal beatitude, surely Aunt Tildy's prayers
had been sufficient. She passed his house on her way to the poor farm
on the very day that news of the legacy arrived, and Eph had stopped
the carriage and begged the overseer to leave her with him.

"Are you sure you can take care of her?" asked the overseer, doubtfully.

"Sure?" echoed Eph with delight. "Of course I'm sure. Ain't I got four
hundred dollars a year for the rest of my natural born days?"

"He's a good fellow, Eph Todd," mused the overseer as he drove away,
"but I never heard of his having any money."

Next day the news of the legacy was common property, and Aunt Tildy had
been an inmate at Todd's ever since. Her gratitude knew no bounds, and
she really managed to keep the house after a fashion, her chief care
being the clock.

Then there was the heaven-born inventor. He had dissipated his
substance in inventing an incubator that worked with wonderful success
till the day the chickens were to come out, when it took fire and
burned up, taking with it chickens, barn, house, and furniture, leaving
the heaven-born inventor standing in the field, thinly clad, and with
nothing left in the world but another incubator.

With this he had shown up promptly at Todd's, and there he had dwelt
thenceforth, using a pretty fair portion of the annuity in further
incubator experiments.

With excellent sagacity, for him, Eph had obliged the heaven-born
inventor to keep his machine in a little shed behind the barn, so that
when this one burned up there was time to get the horse and cow out
before the barn burned, and the village fire department managed to
save the house. Repairing this loss made quite a hole in the annuity,
and all the heaven-born inventor had to show for it was Miltiades. He
had put a single turkey's egg in with a previous hatch, and though he
had raised nary chicken, and it was contrary to all rhyme and reason,
the turkey's egg had hatched and the chick had grown up to be Miltiades.

Miltiades was a big gobbler now, and had a right to be named Ishmael,
for his hand was against all men. He took care of himself, was never
shut up nor handled, and led a wild, nomadic life.

Last of all came Fisherman Jones. He was old now and couldn't see very
well, unable to go to the brook or pond to fish, but he still started
out daily with the fine new rod and reel which the annuity had bought
for him, and would sit out in the sun, joint his rod together, and fish
in the dry pasture with perfect contentment.

You would not think Fisherman Jones of much use, but it was he who
caught Miltiades and made the Thanksgiving dinner possible.

The new barn had exhausted the revenues completely, and there would
be no more income until January 1st; but one must have a turkey for
Thanksgiving, and there was Miltiades. To catch Miltiades became the
household problem, and the heaven-born inventor set wonderful traps for
him, which caught almost everything but Miltiades, who easily avoided
them. Eph used to go out daily before breakfast and chase Miltiades,
but he might as well have chased a government position. The turkey
scorned him, and grew only wilder and tougher, till he had a lean and
hungry look that would have shamed Cassius.

The day before Thanksgiving it looked as if there would be no turkey
dinner at Todd's, but here Fisherman Jones stepped into the breach. It
was a beautiful Indian-summer day, and he hobbled out into the field
for an afternoon's fishing. Here he sat on a log, and began to make
casts in the open. Nearby, under a savin bush, lurked Miltiades, and
viewed these actions with the scorn of long familiarity. By and by
Fisherman Jones kicked up a loose bit of bark, and disclosed beneath
it a fine fat white grub, of the sort which blossoms into June beetles
with the coming of spring. He was not so blind but that he saw this,
and with a chuckle at the thoughts it called up, he baited his hook
with it.

A moment after, Eph Todd, coming out of the new barn, heard the click
of a reel, and was astonished to see Fisherman Jones standing almost
erect, his eyes blazing with the old-time fire, his rod bent, his reel
buzzing, while at the end of a good forty feet of line was Miltiades
rushing in frantic strides for the woods.

"Good land!" said Eph; "it's the turkey! Snub him," he yelled. "Don't
let him get all the line on you! He's hooked! Snub him! snub him!"

The whir of the reel deadened now, and the stride of Miltiades was
perceptibly lessened and then became but a vigorous up-and-down hop,
while the tense line sang in the gentle autumn breeze.

"Eph Todd!" gasped Fisherman Jones, "this is the whoppingest old bass
I ever hooked onto yet. Beeswax, how he does pull!" And with the words
Fisherman Jones went backward over the log, waving the pole and a pair
of stiff legs in air. The turkey had suddenly slackened the line.

"Give him the butt! Give him the butt!" roared Eph, rushing up. Even
where he lay the fisherman blood in Fisherman Jones responded to this
stirring appeal, and as the rod bent in a tense half circle a race
began such as no elderly fisherman was ever the centre of before.

Round and round went Miltiades, with the white grub in his crop, and
the line above it gripped tightly in his strong beak; and round and
round went Eph Todd, his outstretched arms waving like the turkey's
wings, and his big boots denting the soft pasture turf with the vigour
of his gallop. In the centre Fisherman Jones, too nearsighted to see
what he had hooked, had risen on one knee, and revolved with the
coursing bird, his soul wrapped in one idea: to keep the butt of his
rod aimed at the whirling game.

"Hang to him! Reel him in! We'll get him!" shouted Eph; and, with the
word, he caught his toe and vanished into the prickly depths of the
savin bush, just as the heaven-born inventor came over the hill. It
would be interesting to know just what scheme the heaven-born inventor
would have put in motion for the capture of Miltiades, but just then he
stepped into one of his own extraordinary traps, set for the turkey
of course, and, with one foot held fast, began to flounder about with
cries of rage and dismay.

This brought Eph's head above the fringe of savin bush again, and now
he beheld a wonderful sight. Fisherman Jones was again on his feet,
staring in wild surprise at Miltiades, whom he sighted for the first
time, within ten feet of him. There was no pressure on the reel, and
Miltiades was swallowing the line in big gulps, evidently determined to
have not only the white grub, but all that went with it.

Fisherman Jones's cry of dismay was almost as bitter as that of the
heaven-born inventor, who still writhed in his own trap.

"Oh, Eph! Eph!" he whimpered, "he's eating up my tackle! He's eating up
my tackle!"

"Never mind!" shouted Eph. "Don't be afraid! I reckon he'll stop when
he gets to the pole!"

Those of us who knew Miltiades at his best have doubts as to this, but,
fortunately, it was not put to the test. Eph scrambled out of his bush,
and, taking up the chase once more, soon brought it to an end, for
Fisherman Jones, his nerve completely gone, could only stand and mumble
sadly to himself, "He's eating up my tackle! He's eating up my tackle!"
and the line, wrapping about his motionless form, led Eph and the
turkey in a brief spiral which ended in the conjunction of the three.

It was not until the turkey was decapitated that Eph remembered the
heaven-born inventor and hastened to his rescue. He was still in the
trap, but he was quite content, for he was figuring out a plan for
an automatic release from the same, something which should hold the
captive so long and then let him go in the interests of humanity. He
found the trap from the captive's point of view very interesting and

The tenacity of Miltiades's make-up was further shown by the difficulty
Eph and Fisherman Jones had in separating him from his feathers that
evening; and Aunt Tildy was so interested in the project of the
heaven-born inventor to raise featherless turkeys that she forgot the
yeast cake she had put to soak until it had been boiling merrily for
some time. Everything seemed to go wrong-end-to, and they all sat up
so late that Mrs. Simpkins, across the way, was led to observe that
"Either some one was dead over at Todd's or else they were having a
family party"; and in a certain sense she was right both ways.

The crowning misadventure came next morning. Eph started for the
village with his mind full of commissions from Aunt Tildy, some of
which he was sure to forget, and in a great hurry lest he forget them
all. He threw the harness hastily upon Dobbin, hitched him into the
wagon which had stood out on the soft ground overnight, and with an
eager "Get up, there!" gave him a slap with the reins.

Next moment there was a ripping sound, and the heaven-born inventor
came to the door just in time to see the horse going out of the yard
on a run, with Eph following, still clinging to the reins, and taking
strides much like those of Baron Munchausen's courier.

"Here, here!" called the inventor, "you've forgot the wagon. Come back,
Eph! You've forgot the wagon!"

"Jeddediah Jodkins!" said Eph, as he swung an eccentric curve about the
gatepost; "do you--whoa!--suppose I'm such a--whoa! whoa!--fool that I
don't know that I'm not riding--whoa! in a--whoa! whoa!--wagon?" And
with this Eph vanished up street in the wake of the galloping horse,
still clinging valiantly to the reins.

"I believe he did forget that wagon," said the heaven-born inventor;
"he's perfectly capable of it." But when he reached the barn he saw
the trouble. The ground had frozen hard overnight, and the wagon
wheels sunken in it were held as in a vise. Eph had started the horse
suddenly, and the obedient animal had walked right out of the shafts,
harness and all.

A half hour later Eph was back with Dobbin, unharmed but a trifle
weary. It took an hour more and all Aunt Tildy's hot water to thaw out
the wheels, and when it was done Eph was so confused that he drove to
the village and back and forgot every one of his commissions. And in
the midst of all this the clock stopped. That settled the matter for
Aunt Tildy. She neglected the pudding, she forgot the pies, and she let
the turkey bake and bake in the overheated oven while she fretted about
that clock; and when it was finally set going, after long and careful
investigation by Eph, and frantic but successful attempts on the part
of Aunt Tildy to keep the heaven-born inventor from ruining it forever,
it was the dinner hour.

Poor Aunt Tildy! That dinner was the crowning sorrow of her life. The
vegetables were cooked to rags, the pies were charcoal shells, and
the pudding had not been made. As for Miltiades, he was ten times
tougher than in life, and Eph's carving knife slipped from his form
without making a dent. Aunt Tildy wept at this, and Fisherman Jones
and the inventor looked blank enough, but there was no sorrow in the
countenance of Eph. He cheered Aunt Tildy, and he cracked jokes that
made even Fisherman Jones laugh.

"Why, bless you!" he said, "ever since I was a boy I've been looking
for a chance to make a Thanksgiving dinner out of bread and milk. And
now I've got it. Why, I wouldn't have missed this for anything!" And
there came a knock at the door.

Even Eph looked a trifle blank at this. If it should be company! "Come
in!" he called.

The door was pushed aside and a big, steaming platter entered. It was
upheld by a small boy, who stammered diffidently, "My moth-moth-mother
thaid she wanted you to try thum of her nith turkey."

"Well, well!" said Eph; "Aunt Tildy has cooked a turkey for us to-day,
and she's a main good cook"--Eph did not appear to see the signs the
heaven-born inventor was making to him--"but I've heard that your
mother does things pretty well, too. We're greatly obliged." And Eph
put the steaming platter on the table.

"She thays you c-c-can thend the platter home to-morrow," stammered the
boy, and stammering himself out, he ran into another. The other held
high a big dish of plum pudding, from which a spicy aroma filled the
room. Again the heaven-born inventor made signs to Eph.

"Our folks told me to ask if you wouldn't try this plum pudding," said
the newcomer. "They made an extra one, and the cousins we expected
didn't come, so we can spare it just as well as not."

It seemed as if Eph hesitated a moment, and the inventor's face became
a panorama. Then he took the boy by the hand, and there was an odd
shake in his voice as he said:

"I'm greatly obliged to you. We all are. Something happened to our plum
pudding, and we didn't have any. Tell your ma we send our thanks."

There was a sound of voices greeting in the hallway, and two young
girls entered, each laden with a basket.

"Oh, Mr. Todd," they both said at once, "we couldn't wait to knock. We
want you to try some of our Thanksgiving. It was mother's birthday, and
we cooked extra for that, and we've got so much. We can't get all ours
onto the table. She'll feel real hurt if you don't."

Somehow Eph couldn't say a word, but there was nothing the matter with
the heaven-born inventor. His speech of delighted acceptance was such
a good one that before he was half done the girls had loaded the table
with good things, and, with smiles and nods and "good-byes," slipped
out as rapidly and as gayly as they had come in. It was like a gust of
wind from a summer garden.

The table, but now so bare, fairly sagged and steamed with offerings of
Thanksgiving. Somehow the steam got into Eph's eyes and made them wet,
till all he could do was to say whimsically:

"There goes my last chance at a bread-and-milk Thanksgiving."

But now Aunt Tildy had the floor, with her faded face all alight.

"Eph Todd," she said, "you needn't look so flustrated. It's nothing
more than you deserve and not half so much either. Ain't you the
kindest man yourself that ever lived? Ain't you always doing something
for everybody, and helping every one of these neighbours in all sorts
of ways? I'd like to know what the whole place would do without you!
And now, just because they remember you on Thanksgiving Day, you look

The steam had got into Aunt Tildy's eyes now, and she sat down again
just as there came another knock at the door, a timid sort of knock
this time.

The heaven-born inventor's face widened in beatified smiles of
expectation at this, but Eph looked him sternly in the eye.

"Jeddediah Jodkins!" he said; "if that is any more people bringing
things to eat to this house, they'll have to go away. We can't have it.
We've got enough here now to feed a--a boarding school."

The heaven-born inventor sprang eagerly to his feet. "Don't you do it,
Eph," he said, "don't you do it. I've just thought of a way to can it."

A thinly clad man and woman stood at the door which Eph opened. Both
looked pale and tired, and the woman shivered.

"Can you tell me where I can get work," asked the man, doggedly, "so
that I can earn a little something to eat? We are not beggars"--he
flushed a little through his pallor--"but I have had no work lately,
and we have eaten nothing since yesterday. We are looking----"

The man stopped, and well he might, for Eph was dancing wildly about
the two, and hustling them into the house.

"Come in!" he shouted. "Come in! Come in! You're the folks we are
waiting for! Eat? Why, goodness gra-cious! We've got so much to eat we
don't know what to do with it."

He had them in chairs in a moment and was piling steaming roast turkey
on their plates. "There!" he said, "don't you say another word till you
have filled up on that. Folks"--and he returned to the others--"here's
two friends that have come to stay a week with us and help eat turkey.
Fall to! This is going to be the pleasantest Thanksgiving we've had

And thus two new inmates were added to Todd's asylum.


[6] From the _Outlook_, November 19, 1898.



    The old-time New England Thanksgiving has been
    described many times, but never better then by the
    author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in her less successful
    but more artistic novel, "Oldtown Folks," from which
    book the following narrative has been adapted.

WHEN the apples were all gathered and the cider was all made, and the
yellow pumpkins were rolled in from many a hill in billows of gold,
and the corn was husked, and the labours of the season were done, and
the warm, late days of Indian summer came in, dreamy and calm and
still, with just frost enough to crisp the ground of a morning, but
with warm trances of benignant, sunny hours at noon, there came over
the community a sort of genial repose of spirit--a sense of something
accomplished, and of a new golden mark made in advance on the calendar
of life--and the deacon began to say to the minister, of a Sunday, "I
suppose it's about time for the Thanksgiving proclamation."

Conversation at this time began to turn on high and solemn culinary
mysteries and receipts of wondrous power and virtue. New modes of
elaborating squash pies and quince tarts were now ofttimes carefully
discussed at the evening firesides by Aunt Lois and Aunt Keziah, and
notes seriously compared with the experiences of certain other aunties
of high repute in such matters. I noticed that on these occasions
their voices often fell into mysterious whispers, and that receipts
of especial power and sanctity were communicated in tones so low
as entirely to escape the vulgar ear. I still remember the solemn
shake of the head with which my Aunt Lois conveyed to Miss Mehitable
Rossiter the critical properties of _mace_, in relation to its powers
of producing in corn fritters a suggestive resemblance to oysters. As
ours was an oyster-getting district, and as that charming bivalve was
perfectly easy to come at, the interest of such an imitation can be
accounted for only by the fondness of the human mind for works of art.

For as much as a week beforehand, "we children" were employed in
chopping mince for pies to a most wearisome fineness, and in pounding
cinnamon, allspice, and cloves in a great lignum-vitæ mortar; and the
sound of this pounding and chopping reëchoed through all the rafters of
the old house with a hearty and vigorous cheer most refreshing to our

In those days there were none of the thousand ameliorations of the
labours of housekeeping which have since arisen--no ground and prepared
spices and sweet herbs; everything came into our hands in the rough,
and in bulk, and the reducing of it into a state for use was deemed one
of the appropriate labours of childhood. Even the very salt that we
used in cooking was rock salt, which we were required to wash and dry
and pound and sift before it became fit for use.

At other times of the year we sometimes murmured at these labours, but
those that were supposed to usher in the great Thanksgiving festival
were always entered into with enthusiasm. There were signs of richness
all around us--stoning of raisins, cutting of citron, slicing of
candied orange peel. Yet all these were only dawnings and intimations
of what was coming during the week of real preparation, after the
Governor's proclamation had been read.

The glories of that proclamation! We knew beforehand the Sunday it was
to be read, and walked to church with alacrity, filled with gorgeous
and vague expectations.

The cheering anticipation sustained us through what seemed to us the
long waste of the sermon and prayers; and when at last the auspicious
moment approached--when the last quaver of the last hymn had died
out--the whole house rippled with a general movement of complacency,
and a satisfied smile of pleased expectation might be seen gleaming on
the faces of all the young people, like a ray of sunshine through a
garden of flowers.

Thanksgiving now was dawning! We children poked one another, and
fairly giggled with unreproved delight as we listened to the crackle
of the slowly unfolding document. That great sheet of paper impressed
us as something supernatural, by reason of its mighty size and by the
broad seal of the State affixed thereto; and when the minister read
therefrom, "By his Excellency, the Governor of the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts, a Proclamation," our mirth was with difficulty repressed
by admonitory glances from our sympathetic elders. Then, after a solemn
enumeration of the benefits which the Commonwealth had that year
received at the hands of Divine Providence, came at last the naming
of the eventful day, and, at the end of all, the imposing heraldic
words, "God save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts." And then, as the
congregation broke up and dispersed, all went their several ways with
schemes of mirth and feasting in their heads.

And now came on the week in earnest. In the very watches of the night
preceding Monday morning a preternatural stir below stairs and the
thunder of the pounding barrel announced that the washing was to be got
out of the way before daylight, so as to give "ample scope and room
enough" for the more pleasing duties of the season.

The making of _pies_ at this period assumed vast proportions that
verged upon the sublime. Pies were made by forties and fifties and
hundreds, and made of everything on the earth and under the earth.

The pie is an English institution, which, planted on American soil,
forthwith ran rampant and burst forth into an untold variety of genera
and species. Not merely the old traditional mince pie, but a thousand
strictly American seedlings from that main stock, evinced the power
of American housewives to adapt old institutions to new uses. Pumpkin
pies, cranberry pies, huckleberry pies, cherry pies, green-currant
pies, peach, pear, and plum pies, custard pies, apple pies,
Marlborough-pudding pies--pies with top crusts and pies without--pies
adorned with all sorts of fanciful flutings and architectural strips
laid across and around, and otherwise varied, attested the boundless
fertility of the feminine mind when once let loose in a given direction.

Fancy the heat and vigour of the great pan formation, when Aunt Lois
and Aunt Keziah, and my mother and grandmother, all in ecstasies of
creative inspiration, ran, bustled, and hurried--mixing, rolling,
tasting, consulting--alternately setting us children to work when
anything could be made of us, and then chasing us all out of the
kitchen when our misinformed childhood ventured to take too many
liberties with sacred mysteries. Then out we would all fly at the
kitchen door, like sparks from a blacksmith's window.

On these occasions, as there was a great looseness in the police
department over us children, we usually found a ready refuge at Miss
Mehitable's with Tina,[8] who, confident of the strength of her
position with Polly, invited us into the kitchen, and with the air of a
mistress led us around to view the proceedings there.

A genius for entertaining was one of Tina's principal characteristics;
and she did not fail to make free with raisins, or citrons, or whatever
came to hand, in a spirit of hospitality at which Polly seriously
demurred. That worthy woman occasionally felt the inconvenience of
the state of subjugation to which the little elf had somehow or other
reduced her, and sometimes rattled her chains fiercely, scolding with
a vigour which rather alarmed us, but which Tina minded not a whit.
Confident of her own powers, she would, in the very midst of her wrath,
mimic her to her face with such irresistible drollery as to cause
the torrent of reproof to end in a dissonant laugh, accompanied by a
submissive cry for quarter.

"I declare, Tina Percival," she said to her one day, "you're saucy
enough to physic a horn bug! I never did see the beater of you! If Miss
Mehitable don't keep you in better order, I don't see what's to become
of any of us!"

"Why, what did 'come of you before I came?" was the undismayed reply.
"You know, Polly, you and Aunty both were just as lonesome as you could
be till I came here, and you never had such pleasant times in your life
as you've had since I've been here. You're a couple of old beauties,
both of you, and know just how to get along with me. But come, boys,
let's take our raisins and go up into the garret and play Thanksgiving."

In the corner of the great kitchen, during all these days, the jolly
old oven roared and crackled in great volcanic billows of flame,
snapping and gurgling as if the old fellow entered with joyful sympathy
into the frolic of the hour; and then, his great heart being once
warmed up, he brooded over successive generations of pies and cakes,
which went in raw and came out cooked, till butteries and dressers and
shelves and pantries were literally crowded with a jostling abundance.

A great cold northern chamber, where the sun never shone, and where
in winter the snow sifted in at the window cracks, and ice and frost
reigned with undisputed sway, was fitted up to be the storehouse of
these surplus treasures. There, frozen solid, and thus well preserved
in their icy fetters, they formed a great repository for all the winter
months; and the pies baked at Thanksgiving often came out fresh and
good with the violets of April.

During this eventful preparation week all the female part of my
grandmother's household, as I have before remarked, were at a height
above any ordinary state of mind; they moved about the house rapt in
a species of prophetic frenzy. It seemed to be considered a necessary
feature of such festivals that everybody should be in a hurry,
and everything in the house should be turned bottom upwards with
enthusiasm--so at least we children understood it, and we certainly
did our part to keep the ball rolling.

At this period the constitutional activity of Uncle Fliakim increased
to a degree that might fairly be called preternatural. Thanksgiving
time was the time for errands of mercy and beneficence through the
country; and Uncle Fliakim's immortal old rubber horse and rattling
wagon were on the full jump in tours of investigation into everybody's
affairs in the region around. On returning, he would fly through our
kitchen like the wind, leaving open the doors, upsetting whatever
came in his way--now a pan of milk, and now a basin of mince--talking
rapidly, and forgetting only the point in every case that gave it
significance, or enabled any one to put it to any sort of use. When
Aunt Lois checked his benevolent effusions by putting the test
questions of practical efficiency, Uncle Fliakim always remembered
that he'd "forgotten to inquire about that," and skipping through the
kitchen, and springing into his old wagon, would rattle off again on a
full tilt to correct and amend his investigations.

Moreover, my grandmother's kitchen at this time began to be haunted by
those occasional hangers-on and retainers, of uncertain fortunes, whom
a full experience of her bountiful habits led to expect something at
her hand at this time of the year. All the poor, loafing tribes, Indian
and half-Indian, who at other times wandered, selling baskets and
other light wares, were sure to come back to Oldtown a little before
Thanksgiving time, and report themselves in my grandmother's kitchen.

The great hogshead of cider in the cellar, which my grandfather called
the Indian hogshead, was on tap at all hours of the day; and many
a mugful did I draw and dispense to the tribes that basked in the
sunshine at our door.

Aunt Lois never had a hearty conviction of the propriety of these
arrangements; but my grandmother, who had a prodigious verbal memory,
bore down upon her with such strings of quotations from the Old
Testament that she was utterly routed.

"Now," says my Aunt Lois, "I s'pose we've got to have Betty Poganut
and Sally Wonsamug, and old Obscue and his wife, and the whole tribe
down, roosting around our doors till we give 'em something. That's just
mother's way; she always keeps a whole generation at her heels."

"How many times must I tell you, Lois, to read your Bible?" was my
grandmother's rejoinder; and loud over the sound of pounding and
chopping in the kitchen could be heard the voice of her quotations: "If
there be among you a poor man in any of the gates of the land which the
Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thy heart, nor shut thy
hand, from thy poor brother. Thou shalt surely give him; and thy heart
shall not be grieved when thou givest to him, because that for this
thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works; for the poor
shall never cease from out of the land."

These words seemed to resound like a sort of heraldic proclamation to
call around us all that softly shiftless class, who, for some reason or
other, are never to be found with anything in hand at the moment that
it is wanted.

"There, to be sure," said Aunt Lois, one day when our preparations were
in full blast; "there comes Sam Lawson down the hill, limpsy as ever;
now he'll have his doleful story to tell, and mother'll give him one of
the turkeys."

And so, of course, it fell out.

Sam came in with his usual air of plaintive assurance, and seated
himself a contemplative spectator in the chimney corner, regardless of
the looks and signs of unwelcome on the part of Aunt Lois.

"Lordy massy, how prosperous everything does seem here!" he said in
musing tones, over his inevitable mug of cider; "so different from what
'tis t' our house. There's Hepsey, she's all in a stew, an' I've just
been an' got her thirty-seven cents' wuth o' nutmegs, yet she says
she's sure she don't see how she's to keep Thanksgiving, an' she's
down on me about it, just as ef 'twas my fault. Yeh see, last winter
our old gobbler got froze. You know, Mis' Badger, that 'ere cold night
we hed last winter. Wal, I was off with Jake Marshall that night; ye
see, Jake, he had to take old General Dearborn's corpse into Boston,
to the family vault, and Jake, he kind o' hated to go alone; 'twas a
drefful cold time, and he ses to me, 'Sam, you jes' go 'long with me';
so I was sort o' sorry for him, and I kind o' thought I'd go 'long.
Wal, come 'long to Josh Bissel's tahvern, there at the Halfway House,
you know, 'twas so swingeing cold we stopped to take a little suthin'
warmin', an' we sort o' sot an' sot over the fire, till, fust we knew,
we kind o' got asleep; an' when we woke up we found we'd left the old
General hitched up t' th' post pretty much all night. Wal, didn't hurt
him none, poor man; 'twas allers a favourite spot o' his'n. But, takin'
one thing with another, I didn't get home till about noon next day,
an' I tell you, Hepsey she was right down on me. She said the baby
was sick, and there hadn't been no wood split, nor the barn fastened
up, nor nuthin'. Lordy massy, I didn't mean no harm; I thought there
was wood enough, and I thought likely Hepsey'd git out an' fasten up
the barn. But Hepsey, she was in one o' her contrary streaks, an' she
wouldn't do a thing; an' when I went out to look, why, sure 'nuff,
there was our old tom-turkey froze as stiff as a stake--his claws jist
a stickin' right straight up like this." Here Sam struck an expressive
attitude, and looked so much like a frozen turkey as to give a pathetic
reality to the picture.

"Well, now, Sam, why need you be off on things that's none of your
business?" said my grandmother. "I've talked to you plainly about that
a great many times, Sam," she continued, in tones of severe admonition.
"Hepsey is a hard-working woman, but she can't be expected to see to
everything, and you oughter 'ave been at home that night to fasten up
your own barn and look after your own creeturs."

Sam took the rebuke all the more meekly as he perceived the stiff black
legs of a turkey poking out from under my grandmother's apron while she
was delivering it. To be exhorted and told of his shortcomings, and
then furnished with a turkey at Thanksgiving, was a yearly part of his
family program. In time he departed, not only with the turkey, but with
us boys in procession after him, bearing a mince and a pumpkin pie for
Hepsey's children.

"Poor things!" my grandmother remarked; "they ought to have something
good to eat Thanksgiving Day; 'tain't their fault that they've got a
shiftless father."

Sam, in his turn, moralized to us children, as we walked beside him:
"A body'd think that Hepsey'd learn to trust in Providence," he said,
"but she don't. She allers has a Thanksgiving dinner pervided; but that
'ere woman ain't grateful for it, by no manner o' means. Now she'll
be jest as cross as she can be, 'cause this 'ere ain't _our_ turkey,
and these 'ere ain't our pies. Folks doos lose so much that hes sech

A multitude of similar dispensations during the course of the week
materially reduced the great pile of chickens and turkeys which black
Cæsar's efforts in slaughtering, picking, and dressing kept daily

       *       *       *       *       *

Great as the preparations were for the dinner, everything was so
contrived that not a soul in the house should be kept from the morning
service of Thanksgiving in the church, and from listening to the
Thanksgiving sermon, in which the minister was expected to express his
views freely concerning the politics of the country and the state of
things in society generally, in a somewhat more secular vein of thought
than was deemed exactly appropriate to the Lord's day. But it is to be
confessed that, when the good man got carried away by the enthusiasm
of his subject to extend these exercises beyond a certain length,
anxious glances, exchanged between good wives, sometimes indicated a
weakness of the flesh, having a tender reference to the turkeys and
chickens and chicken pies which might possibly be overdoing in the
ovens at home. But your old brick oven was a true Puritan institution,
and backed up the devotional habits of good housewives by the capital
care which he took of whatever was committed to his capacious bosom. A
truly well-bred oven would have been ashamed of himself all his days
and blushed redder than his own fires, if a God-fearing house matron,
away at the temple of the Lord, should come home and find her pie crust
either burned or underdone by his over or under zeal; so the old fellow
generally managed to bring things out exactly right.

When sermons and prayers were all over, we children rushed home to see
the great feast of the year spread.

What chitterings and chatterings there were all over the house, as all
the aunties and uncles and cousins came pouring in, taking off their
things, looking at one another's bonnets and dresses, and mingling
their comments on the morning sermon with various opinions on the new
millinery outfits, and with bits of home news and kindly neighbourhood

Uncle Bill, whom the Cambridge college authorities released, as they
did all the other youngsters of the land, for Thanksgiving Day, made a
breezy stir among them all, especially with the young cousins of the
feminine gender.

The best room on this occasion was thrown wide open, and its habitual
coldness had been warmed by the burning down of a great stack of
hickory logs, which had been heaped up unsparingly since morning.
It takes some hours to get a room warm where a family never sits,
and which therefore has not in its walls one particle of the genial
vitality which comes from the indwelling of human beings. But on
Thanksgiving Day, at least, every year this marvel was effected in our
best room.

Although all servile labour and vain recreation on this day were by
law forbidden, according to the terms of the proclamation, it was not
held to be a violation of the precept that all the nice old aunties
should bring their knitting work and sit gently trotting their needles
around the fire; nor that Uncle Bill should start a full-fledged romp
among the girls and children, while the dinner was being set on the
long table in the neighbouring kitchen. Certain of the good elderly
female relatives, of serious and discreet demeanour, assisted at this

But who shall do justice to the dinner, and describe the turkey, and
chickens, and chicken pies, with all that endless variety of vegetables
which the American soil and climate have contributed to the table,
and which, without regard to the French doctrine of courses, were
all piled together in jovial abundance upon the smoking board? There
was much carving and laughing and talking and eating, and all showed
that cheerful ability to despatch the provisions which was the ruling
spirit of the hour. After the meat came the plum puddings, and then the
endless array of pies, till human nature was actually bewildered and
overpowered by the tempting variety; and even we children turned from
the profusion offered to us, and wondered what was the matter that we
could eat no more.

When all was over, my grandfather rose at the head of the table, and
a fine venerable picture he made as he stood there, his silver hair
flowing in curls down each side of his clear, calm face, while, in
conformity to the old Puritan custom, he called their attention to a
recital of the mercies of God in His dealings with their family.

It was a sort of family history, going over and touching upon the
various events which had happened. He spoke of my father's death, and
gave a tribute to his memory; and closed all with the application of
a time-honoured text, expressing the hope that as years passed by we
might "so number our days as to apply our hearts unto wisdom"; and
then he gave out that psalm which in those days might be called the
national hymn of the Puritans.

    "Let children hear the mighty deeds
       Which God performed of old,
     Which in our younger years we saw,
       And which our fathers told.

    "He bids us make his glories known,
       His works of power and grace.
     And we'll convey his wonders down
       Through every rising race.

    "Our lips shall tell them to our sons,
       And they again to theirs;
     That generations yet unborn
       May teach them to their heirs.

    "Thus shall they learn in God alone
       Their hope securely stands;
     That they may ne'er forget his works,
       But practise his commands."

This we all united in singing to the venerable tune of St. Martin's,
an air which, the reader will perceive, by its multiplicity of quavers
and inflections gave the greatest possible scope to the cracked and
trembling voices of the ancients, who united in it with even more zeal
than the younger part of the community.

Uncle Fliakim Sheril, furbished up in a new crisp black suit, and
with his spindleshanks trimly incased in the smoothest of black silk
stockings, looking for all the world just like an alert and spirited
black cricket, outdid himself on this occasion in singing _counter_, in
that high, weird voice that he must have learned from the wintry winds
that usually piped around the corners of the old house. But any one
who looked at him, as he sat with his eyes closed, beating time with
head and hand, and, in short, with every limb of his body, must have
perceived the exquisite satisfaction which he derived from this mode
of expressing himself. I much regret to be obliged to state that my
graceless Uncle Bill, taking advantage of the fact that the eyes of all
his elders were devotionally closed, stationing himself a little in the
rear of my Uncle Fliakim, performed an exact imitation of his _counter_
with such a killing facility that all the younger part of the audience
were nearly dead with suppressed laughter. Aunt Lois, who never shut
her eyes a moment on any occasion, discerned this from a distant part
of the room, and in vain endeavoured to stop it by vigorously shaking
her head at the offender. She might as well have shaken it at a
bobolink tilting on a clover top. In fact, Uncle Bill was Aunt Lois's
weak point, and the corners of her own mouth were observed to twitch in
such a suspicious manner that the whole moral force of her admonition
was destroyed.

And now, the dinner being cleared away, we youngsters, already
excited to a tumult of laughter, tumbled into the best room, under
the supervision of Uncle Bill, to relieve ourselves with a game of
"blindman's bluff," while the elderly women washed up the dishes and
got the house in order, and the men folks went out to the barn to look
at the cattle, and walked over the farm and talked of the crops.

In the evening the house was all open and lighted with the best of
tallow candles, which Aunt Lois herself had made with especial care for
this illumination. It was understood that we were to have a dance, and
black Cæsar, full of turkey and pumpkin pie, and giggling in the very
jollity of his heart, had that afternoon rosined his bow, and tuned his
fiddle, and practised jigs and Virginia reels, in a way that made us
children think him a perfect Orpheus....

You may imagine the astounding wassail among the young people.... My
Uncle Bill related the story of "the Wry-mouth Family," with such
twists and contortions and killing extremes of the ludicrous as
perfectly overcame even the minister; and he was to be seen, at one
period of the evening, with a face purple with laughter and the tears
actually rolling down over his well-formed cheeks, while some of the
more excitable young people almost fell in trances and rolled on the
floor in the extreme of their merriment. In fact, the assemblage was
becoming so tumultuous, that the scrape of Cæsar's violin and the
forming of sets for a dance seemed necessary to restore the peace....

Uncle Bill would insist on leading out Aunt Lois, and the bright
colour rising to her thin cheeks brought back a fluttering image of
what might have been beauty in some fresh, early day. Ellery Davenport
insisted upon leading forth Miss Deborah Kittery, notwithstanding her
oft-repeated refusals and earnest protestations to the contrary. As
to Uncle Fliakim, he jumped and frisked and gyrated among the single
sisters and maiden aunts, whirling them into the dance as if he had
been the little black gentleman himself. With that true spirit of
Christian charity which marked all his actions, he invariably chose out
the homeliest and most neglected, and thus worthy Aunt Keziah, dear old
soul, was for a time made quite prominent by his attentions....

Grandmother's face was radiant with satisfaction, as the wave of
joyousness crept up higher and higher round her, till the elders, who
stood keeping time with their heads and feet, began to tell one another
how they had danced with their sweethearts in good old days gone by,
and the elder women began to blush and bridle, and boast of steps that
they could take in their youth, till the music finally subdued them,
and into the dance they went.

"Well, well!" quoth my grandmother; "they're all at it so hearty I
don't see why I shouldn't try it myself." And into the Virginia reel
she went, amid screams of laughter from all the younger members of the

But I assure you my grandmother was not a woman to be laughed at; for
whatever she once set on foot she "put through" with a sturdy energy
befitting a daughter of the Puritans.

"Why shouldn't I dance?" she said, when she arrived red and resplendent
at the bottom of the set. "Didn't Mr. Despondency and Miss Muchafraid
and Mr. Readytohalt all dance together in the 'Pilgrim's Progress?'"
And the minister in his ample flowing wig, and my lady in her stiff
brocade, gave to my grandmother a solemn twinkle of approbation.

As nine o'clock struck, the whole scene dissolved and melted; for what
well-regulated village would think of carrying festivities beyond that

And so ended our Thanksgiving at Oldtown.


[7] Adapted from "Oldtown Folks," Houghton, Mifflin Co.

[8] Tina was Miss Mehitable's adopted child; Polly her faithful old



    A Thanksgiving ghost story about a boy who dined not
    wisely but too well.

THE Thanksgiving feast had just ended, and only Donald and his little
sister Grace remained at the table, looking drowsily at the plum
pudding that they couldn't finish, but which they disliked to leave on
their plates.

When the plates had been removed, and the plum-pudding taken to the
kitchen and placed beside the well-carved gobbler, Donald and Grace
were too tired to rise from their chairs to have their faces washed.
They seemed lost in a roseate repose, until Grace finally thought of
the wishbone that they intended to break after dinner.

"Come, now, Donald," she said, "let's break the old gobbler's wishbone."

"All right," replied Donald, opening his eyes slowly, and unwrapping
the draperies of his sweet plum-pudding dreams from about him, "let's
do it now." So he held up the wishbone, and Grace took hold of the
other end of it with a merry laugh.

"Here, you must not take hold so far from the end, because I have a
fine wish to make, and want to get the big half if possible."

"So have I a nice wish to make," replied Grace, with a sigh, "and I
also want the big end."

And so they argued for a few minutes, until their mother entered the
room and told them that if they could not stop quarrelling over the
wishbone she would take it from them and throw it into the fire. So
they lost no time in taking it by the ends and snapping it asunder.

"Hurrah!" exclaimed Donald, observing Grace's expression of
disappointment. "I've got it!"

"Well, I've made a wish, too," said Grace.

"But it won't come true," replied Donald, "because you have the little

And then Donald thought he would go out in the air and play, because
his great dinner made him feel very uncomfortable. When he was out
in the barnyard it was just growing dusk, and Donald, through his
half-closed eyes, observed a gobbler strutting about. To his great
surprise the gobbler approached him instead of running away.

"I thought we had you for dinner to-day," said Donald.

"You did," replied the gobbler coldly, "and you had a fine old time,
didn't you?"

"Yes," said Donald, "you made a splendid dinner, and you ought to be
pleased to think you made us all so happy. Your second joints were
very sweet and juicy, and your drumsticks were like sticks of candy."

"And you broke my poor old wishbone with your little sister, didn't

"I did."

"And what did you wish?" asked the gobbler.

"You mustn't ask me that," replied Donald, "because, you know, if I
tell you the wish I made it would not come true."

"But it was my wishbone," persisted the gobbler, "and I think I ought
to know something about it."

"You have rights, I suppose, and your argument is not without force,"
replied Donald, with calm dignity.

The gobbler was puzzled at so lofty a reply, and not understanding it,

"I am only the ghost, or spirit, of the gobbler you ate to-day, but
still I remember how one day last summer you threw a pan of water on
me, and alluded to my wattles as a red necktie, and called me 'Old
Harvard.' Now, come along!"

"Where?" asked Donald.

"To Wishbone Valley, where you will see the spirits of my ancestors
eaten by your family."

It was now dusk, and Donald didn't like the idea of going to such a
place. He was a brave, courageous boy, on most occasions, but the idea
of going to Wishbone Valley when the stars were appearing filled him
with a dread that he didn't like to acknowledge even to the ghost of a

"I can't go with you now, Mr. Gobbler," he said, "because I have a lot
of lessons to study for next Monday; wait until to-morrow, and I will
gladly go with you."

"Come along," replied the gobbler, with a provoked air, "and let your
lessons go until to-morrow, when you will have plenty of light."

Thereupon the gobbler extended his wing and took Donald by the hand,
and started on a trot.

"Not so fast," protested Donald.

"Why not?" demanded the gobbler in surprise.

"Because," replied Donald, with a groan, "I have just had my dinner,
and I'm too full of you to run."

So the gobbler kindly and considerately slackened his pace to a walk,
and the two proceeded out of the barnyard and across a wide meadow to a
little valley surrounded by a dense thicket. The moon was just rising
and the thicket was silvered by its light, while the dry leaves rustled
weirdly in the cold crisp air.

"This," said the gobbler, "is Wishbone Valley. Look and see."

Donald strained his eyes, and, sure enough, there were wishbones
sticking out of the ground in every direction. He thought they looked
like little croquet hoops, but he made no comments, for fear of
offending the old gobbler. But he felt that he must say something to
make the gobbler think that he was not frightened, so he remarked, in
an offhand way:

"Let's break one and make a wish."

The ghost of the old gobbler frowned, drew himself up, and uttered a
ghostly whistle that seemed to cut the air. As he did so, the ghosts
of the other turkeys long since eaten popped out of the thickets with
a great flapping of wings, and each one perched upon a wishbone and
gazed upon poor Donald, who was so frightened that his collar flew
into a standing position, while he stood upon his toes, with his knees
knocking together at a great rate.

Every turkey fixed its eyes upon the trembling boy, who was beside
himself with fear.

"What shall we do with him, grandpapa?" asked the gobbler of an ancient
bird that could scarcely contain itself and remain on its wishbone.

"I cannot think of anything terrible enough, Willie," replied the
grandparent. "It almost makes my ghostship boil when I think of the way
in which he used to amuse himself by making me a target for his bean
shooter. Often when I was asleep in the button-ball he would fetch me
one on the side of the head that would give me an earache for a week.
But now it is our turn."

Here the other turkeys broke into a wild chorus of approval.

"Take his bean shooter from his pocket," suggested another bird, "and
let's have a shot at him."

Donald was compelled to hand out his bean shooter, and the grandparent
took it, lay on his back, and with the handle of the bean shooter in
one claw and the missile end in the other began to send pebbles at
Donald at a great rate. He could hear them whistling past his ears,
but could not see them to dodge. Fortunately none struck him, and when
the turkeys felt that they had had fun enough of that kind at his
expense the bean shooter was returned to him.

"Now, then," said the gobbler's Aunt Fanny, "he once gave me a string
of yellow beads for corn."

"What shall we do to him for that?" asked the gobbler.

"Make him eat a lot of yellow beads," said the chorus.

"But we have no beads," said the gobbler sadly.

"Then let's poke him with a stick," suggested the gobbler's Granduncle
Sylvester; "he used to do that to us."

So they all took up their wishbones and poked Donald until he was sore.
Sometimes they would hit him in a ticklish spot, and throw him into
such a fit of laughter that they thought he was enjoying it all and
chaffing them. So they stuck their wishbones into the ground, and took
their positions on them once more, to take a needed rest, for the poor
ghosts were greatly exhausted.

There was one quiet turkey who had taken no part in the proceedings.

"Why don't you suggest something?" demanded Uncle Sylvester.

"Because," replied the quiet turkey, "Donald never did anything to me,
and I must treat him accordingly. I was raised and killed a long way
from here, and canned. Donald's father bought me at a store. To be a
ghost in good standing I should be on the farm where I was killed, and
really I don't know why I should be here."

"Then you should be an impartial judge," said Aunt Fanny. "Now what
shall we do with him?"

"Tell them to let me go home," protested Donald, "and I'll agree never
to molest or eat turkey again; I will give them all the angleworms I
can dig every day, and on Thanksgiving Day I'll ask my father to have
roast beef."

"I think," replied the impartial canned ghost, "that as all boys
delight in chasing turkeys with sticks, it would be eminently just and
proper for us, with the exception of myself, to chase this boy and beat
him with our wishbones, to let him learn by experience that which he
could scarcely learn by observation."

"What could I do but eat turkey when it was put on the table?"
protested Donald.

"But you could help chasing us around with sticks," sang the chorus.

They thereupon descended from the wishbones upon which they had been
perching, and flying after him, they darted the wishbones, which they
held in their beaks, into his back and neck as hard as they could.
Donald ran up and down Wishbone Valley, calling upon them to stop,
and declaring that if turkey should ever be put upon the table again
he would eat nothing but the stuffing. When Donald found that the
wishbones were sticking into his neck like so many hornet stings, he
made up his mind that he would run for the house. Finally the wishbone
tattoo stopped, and when he looked around, the gobbler, who was twenty
feet away, said: "When a Thanksgiving turkey dies, his ghost comes
down here to Wishbone Valley to join his ancestors, and it never after
leaves the valley. You will now know why every spring the turkeys steal
down here to hatch their little ones. As you are now over the boundary
line you are safe."

"Thank you," said Donald gratefully.

"Good-bye," sang all the ghosts in chorus.

There was then a great ghostly flapping and whistling, and the turkeys
and wishbones all vanished from sight.

Donald ran home as fast as his trembling legs could carry him, and he
fancied that the surviving turkeys on the place made fun of him as he
passed on his way.

When he reached the house he was very happy, but made no allusion to
his experience in Wishbone Valley, for fear of being laughed at.

"Come, Donald," said his mother, shortly after his arrival, "it is
almost bedtime; you had better eat that drumstick and retire."

"I think I have had turkey enough for to-day," replied Donald, with a
shudder, "and if it is just the same, I would rather have a nice thick
piece of pumpkin pie."

So the girl placed a large piece of pie before him; and while he was
eating with the keen appetite given him by the crisp air of Wishbone
Valley, he heard a great clattering of hoofs coming down the road.
These sounds did not stop until the express wagon drew up in front of
the house, and the driver brought in a large package for Donald.

"Hurrah!" shouted Donald, in boundless glee. "Uncle Arthur has sent me
a nice bicycle! Wasn't it good of him?"

"Didn't you wish for a bicycle to-day, when you got the big end of the
wishbone?" asked his little sister Grace.

"What makes you think so?" asked Donald, with a laugh.

"Oh, I knew it all the time; and my wish came true, too."

"How could your wish come true?" asked Donald, with a puzzled look,
"when you got the little half of the wishbone?"

"I don't know," replied Grace, "but my wish did come true."

"And what did you wish?"

"Why," said Grace, running up and kissing her little brother
affectionately, "I wished your wish would come true, of course."


[9] From _Harper's Young People_, November 21, 1893.



    New York boys, especially, will enjoy this tale of
    the doings of a group of Dutch schoolboys in old New

LITTLE Patem Onderdonk meant mischief. There was a snap in his eyes
and a look on his face that were certain proof of this. I am bound to
say, however, that there was nothing new or strange in this, for little
Patem Onderdonk generally did mean mischief. Whenever any one's cow was
found astray beyond the limits, or any one's bark gutter laid askew
so that the roof-water dripped on the passer's head, or whenever the
dominie's dog ran howling down the Heeren Graaft with a battered pypken
cover tied to his suffering tail, the goode vrouws in the neighbourhood
did not stop to wonder who could have done it; they simply raised both
hands in a sort of injured resignation and exclaimed:

"_Ach so_; what's gone of Patem's Elishamet's Patem?"

So you see little Patem Onderdonk was generally at the bottom of
whatever mischief was afoot in those last Dutch days of New Amsterdam
on the island of Manhattan.

But this time he was conjuring a more serious bit of mischief than
even he usually attempted. This was plain from the appearance of the
startled but deeply interested faces of the half-dozen boys gathered
around him on the bridge.

"But I say, Patem," queried young Teuny Vanderbreets, who was always
ready to second any of Patem's plans, "how can we come it over the
dominie as you would have us?"

"So then, Teuny," cried Patem, in his highest key of contempt, "did
your wits blow away with your hat out of Heer Snediker's nut tree
yesterday? Do not you know that the Heer Governor is at royal odds with
Dominie Curtius because the skinflint old dominie will not pay the
taxes due the town? Why, lad, the Heer Governor will back us up!"

"And why will he not pay the taxes, Patem?" asked Jan Hooglant, the
tanner's son.

"Because he's a skinflint, I tell you," asserted Patem, "though I do
believe he says that he was brought here from Holland as one of the
Company's men, and ought not therefore pay taxes to the Company. That's
what I did hear them say at the Stadt Huys this morning, and Heer
Vanderveer, the schepen, said there, too, that Dominie Curtius was not
worth one of the five hundred guilders which he doth receive for our
teaching. And sure, if the burgomaster and schepens will have none of
the old dominie, why then no more will we who know how stupid are his
lessons, and how his switch doth sting. So, hoy, lads, let's turn him

And with that little Patem Onderdonk gave Teuny Vanderbreets' broad
back a sounding slap with his battered horn book and crying, "Come on,
lads," headed his mutinous companions on a race for the rickety little
schoolhouse near the fort.

It was hard lines for Dominie Curtius all that day at school. The boys
had never been so unruly; the girls never so inattentive. Rebellion
seemed in the air, and the dominie, never a patient or gentle-mannered
man, grew harsher and more exacting as the session advanced. His
reign as master of the Latin School of New Amsterdam had not been
a successful one, and his dispute with the town officers as to his
payment of taxes had so angered him that, as Patem declared, "he seemed
moved to avenge himself upon the town's children."

This being the state of affairs, Dominie Curtius's mood this day was
not a pleasant one, and the school exercises had more to do with the
whipping horse and the birch twigs than with the horn book and the
Latin conjugations.

The boys, I regret to say, were hardened to this, because of much
practice, but when the dominie, enraged at some fresh breach of rigid
discipline, glared savagely over his big spectacles and then swooped
down upon pretty little Antje Adrianse who had done nothing whatever,
the whole school broke into open rebellion. Horn books, and every
possible missile that the boys had at hand, went flying at the master's
head, and the young rebels, led on by Patem and Teuny, charged down
upon the unprepared dominie, rescued trembling little Antje from his
clutch, and then one and all rushed pell-mell from the school with
shouts of triumph and derision.

But when the first flush of their victory was over, the boys realized
that they had done a very daring and risky thing. It was no small
matter in those days of stern authority and strict home government for
girls and boys to resist the commands of their elders; and to run away
from school was one of the greatest of crimes. So they all looked at
Patem in much anxiety.

"Well," cried several of the boys almost in a breath, "and now what
shall we do, Patem? You have us in a pretty fix."

Patem waved his hand like a young Napoleon.

"_Ach!_ ye are all cowards," he cried shrilly. "What will we _do_? Why,
then we will but do as if we were burgomasters and schepens--as we will
be some day. We will to the Heer Governor straight, and lay our demands
before him."

Well, well; this _was_ bold talk! The Heer Governor! Not a boy in all
New Amsterdam but would sooner face a gray wolf in the Sapokanican
woods than the Heer Governor Stuyvesant.

"So then, Patem Onderdonk," they cried, "you may do it yourself, for,
good faith, we will not."

"Why," said Jan Hooglant, "why, Patem, the Heer Governor will have us
rated soundly over the ears for daring such a thing; and we will all
catch more of it when we get home. Demand of the Heer Governor indeed!
Why, boy, you must be crazy!"

But Patem was not crazy. He was simply determined; and at last, by
threats and arguments and coaxing words, he gradually won over a
half-dozen of the boldest spirits to his side and, without more ado,
started with them to interview the Heer Governor.

But, quickly as they acted, the schoolmaster was still more prompt in
action. Defeated and deserted by his scholars, Dominie Curtius had
raged about the schoolroom for a while, spluttering angrily in mingled
Dutch and Polish, and then, clapping his broad black hat upon his head,
marched straight to the fort to lay his grievance before the Heer

The Heer Petrus Stuyvesant, Director General for the Dutch West India
Company in their colony of New Netherlands, walked up and down the
Governor's chamber in the fort at New Amsterdam wofully perplexed. The
Heer Governor was not a patient man, and a combination of annoyances
was hedging him about and making his government of his island province
anything but pleasant work.

The "malignant English" of the Massachusetts and Hartford colonies were
pressing their claim to the ownership of the New Netherlands, just as,
to the south, the settlers on Lord De La Ware's patent were also doing;
the "people called Quakers," whom the Heer Governor had publicly
whipped for heresy and sent a-packing, were spreading their "pernicious
doctrine" through Long Island and other outer edges of the colony, and
the Indians around Esopus, the little settlement which the province had
planted midway on the Hudson between New Amsterdam and Beaverwyck (now
Albany), were growing restless and defiant. Thump, thump, thump, across
the floor went the wooden leg with its silver bands, and with every
thump the Heer Governor grew still more puzzled and angered. For the
Heer Governor could not bear to have things go wrong.

Suddenly, with scant ceremony and but the apology of a request for
admittance, there came into the Heer Governor's presence the Dominie
Doctor Alexander Carolus Curtius, master of the Latin School.

"Here is a pretty pass, Heer Governor!" he cried excitedly. "My pupils
of the Latin School have turned upon me in revolt and have deserted me
in a body."

"_Ach_; then you are rightly served for a craven and a miser, sir!"
burst out the angry Governor, turning savagely upon the surprised

This was a most unexpected reception for Doctor and Dominie Curtius.
But, as it happened, the Heer Governor Stuyvesant was just now
particularly vexed with the objectionable Dominie. At much trouble and
after much solicitation on his part the Heer Governor had prevailed
upon his superiors and the proprietors of the province, the Dutch West
India Company, to send from Holland a schoolmaster or "rector" for the
children of their town of New Amsterdam, and the Company had sent over
Dominie Curtius.

The Heer Governor had entertained great hopes of what the new
schoolmaster was to do, and now to find him a subject of complaint from
both the parents of the scholars and the officials of the town made the
hasty Governor doubly dissatisfied. The Dominie's intrusion, therefore,
at just this stage of all his perplexities gave the Heer Governor a
most convenient person on whom to vent his bad feelings.

"Yes, sirrah, a craven and a miser!" continued the angry Governor,
stamping upon the floor with both wooden leg and massive cane. "You,
who can neither govern our children nor pay your just dues to the town,
can be no fit master for our youth. No words, sirrah, no words," he
added, as the poor dominie tried to put in a word in his defence, "no
words, sir; you are discharged from further labour in this province. I
will see that one who can rule wisely and pay his just dues shall be
placed here in your stead."

Protests and appeals, explanations and arguments, were of no avail.
When the Heer Governor Stuyvesant said a thing, he meant it, and it was
useless for any one to hope for a change. The unpopular Dominie Curtius
must go--and go he did.

But, as he left, the delegation of boys, headed by young Patem
Onderdonk, came into the fort and sought to interview the Heer Governor.

The sentry at the door would have sent them off without further ado,
but, hearing their noise, the Heer Governor came to the door.

"So, so, young rapscallions," he cried, "you, too, must needs disturb
the peace and push yourself forward into public quarrels! Get you gone!
I will have none of your words. Is it not enough that I must needs send
the schoolmaster a-packing, without being worried by graceless young
varlets as you?"

"And hath the Dominie Curtius gone indeed, Heer Governor?" Patem dared
to ask.

"Hath he, hath he, boy?" echoed the Governor, turning upon his
audacious young questioner with uplifted cane. "Said I not so, and will
you dare doubt my word, rascal? Begone from the fort, all of you, ere I
do put you all in limbo, or send word to your good folk to give you the
floggings you do no doubt all so richly deserve."

Discretion is the better part of valour, and the boyish delegation
hastily withdrew. But when once they were safely out of hearing of the
Heer Governor, beyond the Land Gate at the Broad Way, they took breath
and indulged in a succession of boyish shouts.

"And that doth mean no school, too!" cried young Patem Onderdonk,
flinging his cap in air. "Huzzoy for that, lads; huzzoy for that!"

And the "huzzoys" came with right good-will from every boy of the group.

Within less than a week the whole complexion of affairs in that
little island city was entirely changed. Both the Massachusetts and
the Maryland claimants ceased, for a time at least, their unfounded
demands. A treaty at Hartford settled the disputed question of
boundary-lines, and the Maryland governor declared "that he had not
intended to meddle with the government of Manhattan." Added to this,
Sewackenamo, chief of the Esopus Indians, came to the fort at New
Amsterdam and "gave the right hand of friendship" to the Heer Governor,
and by the interchange of presents a treaty of peace was ratified. So,
one by one, the troubles of the Heer Governor melted away, his brow
became clear and, "partaking of the universal satisfaction," so says
the historian, "he proclaimed a day of general thanksgiving."

Thanksgiving in the colonies was a matter of almost yearly occurrence.
Since the first Thanksgiving Day on American shores, when, in 1621,
the Massachusetts colony, at the request of Governor Bradford,
rejoiced, "after a special manner after we had gathered the fruit of
our labours," the observance of days of thanksgiving for mercies and
benefits had been frequent. But the day itself dates still further
back. The States of Holland after establishing their freedom from Spain
had, in the year 1609, celebrated their deliverance from tyranny "by
thanksgiving and hearty prayers," and had thus really first instituted
the custom of an official thanksgiving. And the Dutch colonists in
America followed the customs of the Fatherland quite as piously and
fervently as did the English colonists.

So, when the proclamation of the Heer Governor Stuyvesant for a day of
thanksgiving was made known, in this year of mercies, 1659, all the
townfolk of New Amsterdam made ready to keep it.

But young people are often apt to think that the world moves for
them alone. The boys of this little Dutch town at the mouth of the
Hudson were no different from other boys, and cared less for treaties
and Indians and boundary questions than for their own matters.
They, therefore, concluded that the Heer Governor had proclaimed a
thanksgiving because, as young Patem Onderdonk declared, "he had gotten
well rid of Dominie Curtius and would have no more schoolmasters in the

"And so, lads," cried the exuberant young Knickerbocker, "let us wisely
celebrate the Thanksgiving. I will even ask the mother to make for me a
rare salmagundi which we lads, who were so rated by the Heer Governor,
will ourselves give to him as our Thanksgiving offering, for the Heer
Governor, so folk do say, doth rarely like the salmagundi."

Now the salmagundi was (to some palates) a most appetizing mixture,
compounded of salted mackerel, or sometimes of chopped meat, seasoned
with oil and vinegar, pepper and raw onions--not an altogether
attractive dish to read of, but welcome to and dearly loved by many
an old Knickerbocker even up to a recent date. Its name, too, as most
of you bright boys and girls doubtless know, furnished the title
for one of the works of Washington Irving, best loved of all the

Thanksgiving Day came around, and so did Patem's salmagundi, as highly
seasoned and appetizing a one as the Goode Vrouw Onderdonk could make.

The lengthy prayers and lengthier sermon of good Dominie Megapolensis
in the Fort Church were over and the Thanksgiving dinners were very
nearly ready when up to the Heer Governor's house came a half-dozen
boys, with Patem Onderdonk at their head bearing a neatly covered dish.

Patem had well considered and formed in his mind what he deemed just
the speech of presentation to please the Heer Governor, but when the
time came to face that awful personage his valour and his eloquence
alike began to ooze away.

And, it must be confessed, the Heer Governor Stuyvesant did not
understand boys, nor did he particularly favour them. He was hasty and
overbearing though high-minded, loyal, and brave, but he never could
"get on" with the ways and pranks of boys.

And as for the boys themselves, when once they stood in the presence of
the greatest dignitary in the province, Patem's ready tongue seemed to
cleave to the roof of his mouth, and he hummed and hawed and hesitated
until the worthy Heer Governor lost patience and broke in:

"Well, well, boys; what is the stir? Speak quick if at all, for when a
man's dinner waiteth he hath scant time for stammering boys."

Then Patem spoke up.

"Heer Governor," he said, "the boys hereabout, remembering your
goodness in sending away our most pestilential master, the Dominie
Curtius, and in proclaiming a Thanksgiving for his departure and for
the ending of our schooling----"

"What, what, boy!" cried the Heer Governor, "art crazy then, or would
you seek to make sport of me, your governor? Thanksgiving for the
breaking up of school! Out on you for a set of malapert young knaves!
Do you think the world goeth but for your pleasures alone? Why, this
is ribald talk! I made no Thanksgiving for your convenience, rascals,
but because that the Lord in His grace hath relieved the town from

"Of which, Heer Governor," broke in the most impolitic Patem, "we did
think the Dominie Curtius and his school were part. And so we have
brought to you this salmagundi as our Thanksgiving offering to you for
thus freeing us of a pest and a sorrow----"

"How now, how now, sirrah!" again came the interruption from the
scandalized Heer Governor when he could recover from his surprise, "do
you then dare to call your schooling a pest and a sorrow? Why, you
graceless young varlets, I do not seek to free you from schooling. I do
even now seek to bring you speedily the teaching you do so much stand
in need of. Even now, within the week forthcoming, the good Dominie
Luyck, the tutor of mine own household, will see to the training and
teaching of this town, and so I will warrant to the flogging, too, of
all you sad young rapscallions who even now by this your wicked talk do
show your need both of teaching and of flogging."

And then, forgetful of the boys' Thanksgiving offering and in high
displeasure at what he deemed their wilful and deliberate ignorance,
the Heer Governor turned the delegation into the street and hastened
back to his waiting dinner.

"_Ach, so_," cried young Teuny Vanderbreets, as the disgusted and
disconsolate six gathered in the roadway and looked at one another
ruefully. "Here is a fine mix-up--a regular salmagundi, Patem
Onderdonk, and no question. And you did say that this Thanksgiving
was all our work. Out upon you, say I! Here are we to be saddled with
a worse master than before. Hermanus Smeeman did tell me that Nick
Stuyvesant did tell him that Dominie Luyck is a most hard and worryful

There was a universal groan of disappointment and disgust, and then
Patem said philosophically:

"Well, lads, what's done is done and what is to be will be. Let us eat
the salmagundi anyhow and cry, 'Confusion to Dominie Luyck.'"

And they did eat it, then and there, for indigestion had no terror to
those lads of hardy stomachs.

But as for the toast of "Confusion to Dominie Luyck," that came
to naught. For Dominie Aegidius Luyck proved a most efficient and
skilful teacher. Under his rule the Latin School of New Amsterdam
became famous throughout the colonies, so that scholars came to it
for instruction from Beaverwyck and South River and even from distant

So the Thanksgiving of the boys of New Amsterdam became a day of
mourning, and Patem's influence as a leader and an oracle suffered
sadly for a while.

Five years after, on a sad Monday morning in September, 1664, the
little city was lost to the Dutch West India Company and, spite of
the efforts and protests of its sturdy Governor, the red, white, and
blue banner of the Netherlands gave place to the flag of England.
And when that day came the young fellows who then saw the defeat and
disappointment of the Heer Governor Stuyvesant were not so certain
that Patem Onderdonk was wrong when he claimed that it was all a just
and righteous judgment on the Heer Governor for his refusal of the
boys' request for no school, and for his treatment of them on that sad
Thanksgiving Day when he so harshly rebuked their display of gratitude
and lost forever his chance to partake of Patem's Salmagundi.


[10] From "Storied Holidays," Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Company.



    An amusing allegorical fantasy. All the most
    interesting Days, grandchildren of Mother Year, came to
    Mrs. November's dinner party, to honour the birthday of
    her daughter, Thanksgiving.

THE widow November was very busy indeed this year. What with elections
and harvest homes, her hands were full to overflowing; for she takes
great interest in politics, besides being a social body, without whom
no apple bee or corn husking is complete.

Still, worn out as she was, when her thirty sons and daughters
clustered round, and begged that they might have their usual family
dinner on Thanksgiving Day, she could not find it in her hospitable
heart to refuse, and immediately invitations were sent to her eleven
brothers and sisters, old Father Time, and Mother Year, to come with
all their families and celebrate the great American holiday.

Then what a busy time ensued! What a slaughter of unhappy barnyard
families--turkeys, ducks, and chickens! What a chopping of apples
and boiling of doughnuts! What a picking of raisins and rolling of
pie crust, until every nook and corner of the immense storeroom was
stocked with "savoury mince and toothsome pumpkin pies," while so great
was the confusion that even the stolid red-hued servant, Indian Summer,
lost his head, and smoked so continually he always appeared surrounded
by a blue mist, as he piled logs upon the great bonfires in the yard,
until they lighted up the whole country for miles around.

But at length all was ready; the happy day had come, and all the little
Novembers, in their best "bib and tucker," were seated in a row,
awaiting the arrival of their uncles, aunts, and cousins, while their
mother, in russet-brown silk trimmed with misty lace, looked them over,
straightening Guy Fawkes's collar, tying Thanksgiving's neck ribbon,
and settling a dispute between two little presidential candidates as to
which should sit at the head of the table.

Soon a merry clashing of bells, blowing of horns, and mingling of
voices were heard outside, sleighs and carriages dashed up to the door,
and in came, "just in season," Grandpa Time, with Grandma Year leaning
on his arm, followed by all their children and grandchildren, and were
warmly welcomed by the hostess and her family.

"Oh, how glad I am we could all come to-day!" said Mr. January, in his
crisp, clear tones, throwing off his great fur coat, and rushing to the
blazing fire. "There is nothing like the happy returns of these days."

"Nothing, indeed," simpered Mrs. February, the poetess. "If I had had
time I should have composed some verses for the occasion; but my son
Valentine has brought a sugar heart, with a sweet sentiment on it, to
his cousin Thanksgiving. I, too, have taken the liberty of bringing a
sort of adopted child of mine, young Leap Year, who makes us a visit
every four years."

"He is very welcome, I am sure," said Mrs. November, patting Leap Year
kindly on the head. "And, Sister March, how have you been since we last

"Oh! we have had the North, South, East, and West Winds all at our
house, and they have kept things breezy, I assure you. But I really
feared we should not get here to-day; for when we came to dress I found
nearly everything we had was lent; so that must account for our shabby

"He! he! he!" tittered little April Fool. "What a sell!" And he shook
until the bells on his cap rang; at which his father ceased for a
moment showering kisses on his nieces and nephews, and boxed his ears
for his rudeness.

"Oh, Aunt May! do tell us a story," clamoured the younger children, and
dragging her into a corner she was soon deep in such a moving tale that
they were all melted to tears, especially the little Aprils, who cry
very easily.

Meanwhile, Mrs. June, assisted by her youngest daughter, a "sweet girl
graduate," just from school, was engaged in decking the apartment with
roses and lilies and other fragrant flowers that she had brought from
her extensive gardens and conservatories, until the room was a perfect
bower of sweetness and beauty; while Mr. July draped the walls with
flags and banners, lighted the candles, and showed off the tricks of
his pet eagle, Yankee Doodle, to the great delight of the little ones.

Madam August, who suffers a great deal with the heat, found a seat on
a comfortable sofa, as far from the fire as possible, and waved a huge
feather fan back and forth, while her thirty-one boys and girls, led by
the two oldest, Holiday and Vacation, ran riot through the long rooms,
picking at their Aunt June's flowers, and playing all sorts of pranks,
regardless of tumbled hair and torn clothes, while they shouted,
"Hurrah for fun!" and behaved like a pack of wild colts let loose in a
green pasture, until their Uncle September called them, together with
his own children, into the library, and persuaded them to read some of
the books with which the shelves were filled, or play quietly with the
game of Authors and the Dissected Maps.

"For," said Mr. September to Mrs. October, "I think Sister August
lets her children romp too much. I always like improving games for
mine, although I have great trouble to make Equinox toe the line as he

"That is because you are a schoolmaster," laughed Mrs. October, shaking
her head, adorned with a wreath of gayly tinted leaves; "but where is
my baby?"

At that moment a cry was heard without, and Indian Summer came running
in to say that little All Hallows had fallen into a tub of water while
trying to catch an apple that was floating on top, and Mrs. October,
rushing off to the kitchen, returned with her youngest in a very wet
and dripping condition, and screaming at the top of his lusty little
lungs, and could only be consoled by a handful of chestnuts, which his
nurse, Miss Frost, cracked open for him.

The little Novembers, meanwhile, were having a charming time with their
favourite cousins, the Decembers, who were always so gay and jolly,
and had such a delightful papa. He came with his pockets stuffed full
of toys and sugarplums, which he drew out from time to time, and gave
to his best-loved child, Merry Christmas, to distribute amongst the
children, who gathered eagerly around their little cousin, saying:

    "Christmas comes but once a year,
     But when she comes she brings good cheer."

At which Merry laughed gayly, and tossed her golden curls, in which
were twined sprays of holly and clusters of brilliant scarlet berries.

At last the great folding-doors were thrown open. Indian Summer
announced that dinner was served, and a long procession of old and
young being quickly formed, led by Mrs. November and her daughter
Thanksgiving, whose birthday it was, they filed into the spacious
dining-room, where stood the long table groaning beneath its weight of
good things, while four servants ran continually in and out bringing
more substantials and delicacies to grace the board and please the
appetite. Winter staggered beneath great trenchers of meat and
poultry, pies and puddings; Spring brought the earliest and freshest
vegetables; Summer, the richest creams and ices; while Autumn served
the guests with fruit, and poured the sparkling wine.

All were gay and jolly, and many a joke was cracked as the contents of
each plate and dish melted away like snow before the sun; and the great
fires roared in the wide chimneys as though singing a glad Thanksgiving

New Year drank everybody's health, and wished them "many happy returns
of the day," while Twelfth Night ate so much cake he made himself quite
ill, and had to be put to bed.

Valentine sent mottoes to all the little girls, and praised their
bright eyes and glossy curls. "For," said his mother, "he is a sad
flatterer, and not nearly so truthful, I am sorry to say, as his
brother, George Washington, who never told a lie."

At which Grandfather Time gave George a quarter, and said he should
always remember what a good boy he was.

After dinner the fun increased, all trying to do something for the
general amusement. Mrs. March persuaded her son, St. Patrick, to dance
an Irish Jig, which he did to the tune of the "Wearing of the Green,"
which his brothers, Windy and Gusty, blew and whistled on their fingers.

Easter sang a beautiful song, the little Mays "tripped the light
fantastic toe" in a pretty fancy dance, while the Junes sat by so
smiling and sweet it was a pleasure to look at them.

Independence, the fourth child of Mr. July, who is a bold little
fellow, and a fine speaker, gave them an oration he had learned at
school; and the Augusts suggested games of tag and blindman's buff,
which they all enjoyed heartily.

Mr. September tried to read an instructive story aloud, but was
interrupted by Equinox, April Fool, and little All Hallows, who pinned
streamers to his coat tails, covered him with flour, and would not let
him get through a line; at which Mrs. October hugged her tricksy baby,
and laughed until she cried, and Mr. September retired in disgust.

"That is almost too bad," said Mrs. November, as she shook the popper
vigorously in which the corn was popping and snapping merrily; "but,
Thanksgiving, you must not forget to thank your cousins for all they
have done to honour your birthday."

At which the demure little maiden went round to each one, and returned
her thanks in such a charming way it was quite captivating.

Grandmother Year at last began to nod over her teacup in the chimney

"It is growing late," said Grandpa Time.

"But we must have a Virginia Reel before we go," said Mr. December.

"Oh, yes, yes!" cried all the children.

Merry Christmas played a lively air on the piano, and old and young
took their positions on the polished floor with grandpa and grandma at
the head.

Midsummer danced with Happy New Year, June's Commencement with August's
Holiday, Leap Year with May Day, and all "went merry as a marriage

The fun was at its height when suddenly the clock in the corner struck
twelve. Grandma Year motioned all to stop, and Grandfather Time, bowing
his head, said softly, "Hark! my children, Thanksgiving Day is ended."


[11] From _Harper's Young People_, November 23, 1880.




    The children went back to spend Thanksgiving at
    grandfather's farm. They got into some trouble and were
    afraid that they would miss their dinner.

EARLY one morning Grandmother Grey got up, opened the windows and doors
of the farmhouse, and soon everybody on the place was stirring. The
cook hurried breakfast, and no sooner was it over than Grandfather Grey
went out to the barn and hitched the two horses to the wagon.

"Get up, Robin and Dobbin!" he said, as he drove through the big gate.
"If you knew who were coming back in this wagon you would not be
stepping so slowly."

The old horses pricked up their ears when they heard this, and trotted
away as fast as they could down the country road until they came to
town. Just as they got to the railway station the train came whizzing

"All off!" cried the conductor, as the train stopped; and out came
a group of children who were, every one of them, Grandfather and
Grandmother Grey's grandchildren. They had come to spend Thanksgiving
Day on the farm.

There was John, who was named for grandfather and looked just like him,
and the twins, Teddie and Pat, who looked like nobody but each other;
their papa was grandfather's oldest son. Then there was Louisa, who
had a baby sister at home, and then Mary Virginia Martin, who was her
mamma's only child.

"I tell you," said grandfather, as he helped them into the wagon, "your
grandmother will be glad to see you!"

And so she was. She was watching at the window for them when they
drove up, and when the children spied her they could scarcely wait for
grandfather to stop the wagon before they scrambled out.

"Dear me, dear me!" said grandmother, as they all tried to kiss her at
the same time, "how you have grown."

"I am in the first grade," said John, hugging her with all his might.

"So am I," cried Louisa.

"We are going to be," chimed in the twins; and then they all talked at
once, till grandmother could not hear herself speak.

Then, after they had told her all about their mammas and papas, and
homes, and cats and dogs, they wanted to go and say "how do you do" to
everything on the place.

"Take care of yourselves," called grandmother, "for I don't want to
send any broken bones home to your mothers."

"I can take care of myself," said John.

"So can we," said the rest; and off they ran.

First they went to the kitchen where Mammy 'Ria was getting ready to
cook the Thanksgiving dinner; then out to the barnyard, where there
were two new red calves, and five little puppies belonging to Juno, the
dog, for them to see. Then they climbed the barnyard fence and made
haste to the pasture where grandfather kept his woolly sheep. "Baa-a!"
said the sheep when they saw the children; but then, they always said
that, no matter what happened.

There were cows in this pasture, too, and Mary Virginia was afraid of
them, even though she knew that they were the mothers of the calves she
had seen in the barnyard.

"Silly Mary Virginia!" said John, and Mary Virginia began to cry.

"Don't cry," said Louisa. "Let's go to the hickory-nut tree."

This pleased them all, and they hurried off; but on the way they
came to the big shed where grandfather kept his plows and reaper and
threshing machine and all his garden tools.

The shed had a long, wide roof, and there was a ladder leaning against
it. When John saw that, he thought he must go up on the roof; and then,
of course, the twins went, too. Then Louisa and Mary Virginia wanted to
go, and although John insisted that girls could not climb, they managed
to scramble up the ladder to where the boys were. And there they all
sat in a row on the roof.

"Grandmother doesn't know how well we can take care of ourselves," said
John. "But I am such a big boy that I can do anything. I can ride a
bicycle and go on errands----"

"So can I," said Louisa.

"We can ride on the trolley!" cried the twins.

"Mamma and I go anywhere by ourselves," said Mary Virginia.

"Moo!" said something down below; and when they looked, there was one
of the cows rubbing her head against the ladder.

"Don't be afraid, Mary Virginia," said Louisa. "Cows can't climb

"Don't be afraid, Mary Virginia," said John. "I'll drive her away."

So he kicked his feet against the shed roof and called, "Go away!
go away!" The twins kicked their feet, too, and called, "Go away!
go away!" and somebody, I don't know who, kicked the ladder and it
fell down and lay in the dry grass. And the cow walked peacefully on,
thinking about her little calf.

"There, now!" exclaimed Louisa, "how shall we ever get down?"

"Oh, that's nothing," said John. "All I'll have to do is to stand up on
the roof and call grandfather. Just watch me do it."

So he stood up and called, "Grandfather! Grandfather! Grandfather!"
till he was tired; but no grandfather answered.

Then the twins called, "Grandfather! Grandmother!"

"Baa," said the sheep, as if beginning to think that somebody ought to
answer all that calling.

Then they all called together: "Grandfather! Grandfather! Grandfather!"
and when nobody heard that, they began to feel frightened and lonely.

"I want to go home to my mother! I wish I hadn't come!" wailed Mary

"It's Thanksgiving dinner time, too," said John, "and there's turkey
for dinner, for I saw it in the oven."

"Pie, too," said Louisa.

"Dear, dear!" cried the twins.

And then they all called together once more, but this time with such a
weak little cry that not even the sheep heard it.

The sun grew warmer and the shadows straighter as they sat there, and
grandmother's house seemed miles away when John stood up to look at it.

"They've eaten dinner by this time, I know," he said as he sat down
again; "and grandfather and grandmother have forgotten all about us."

But grandfather and grandmother had not forgotten them, for just about
then grandmother was saying to grandfather: "You had better see where
the children are, for Thanksgiving dinner will soon be ready and I know
that they are hungry."

So grandfather went out to look for them. He did not find them in the
kitchen nor the barnyard, so he called, "Johnnie! Johnnie!" and when
nobody answered he made haste to the pasture.

The children saw him coming, and long before he had reached the
gate they began to call with all their might. This time grandfather
answered, "I'm coming!" and I cannot tell you how glad they were.

In another minute he had set the ladder up again and they all came
down. Mary Virginia came first because she was the youngest girl, and
John came last because he was the biggest boy. Grandfather put his arms
around each one as he helped them down, and carried Mary Virginia home
on his back. When they got to the house dinner was just ready.

    The turkey was brown, the potatoes were sweet,
    The sauce was so spicy, the biscuits were beat,
    The great pumpkin pie was as yellow as gold,
    And the apples were red as the roses, I'm told.

It was such a good dinner that I had to tell you about it in rhyme!

    And I'm sure you'll agree,
    With the children and me,
    That there's never a visit so pleasant to pay
    As a visit to grandma on Thanksgiving Day.


[12] From "More Mother Stories," Milton Bradley Company.



    Ruth's story is one of the most beautiful ones to be
    found in the Old Book. As a tale of the harvest, it
    deserves to be included in this collection.

NOW it came to pass, many hundreds of years ago, that there was a good
woman named Naomi who lived in the land of the Moabites. She had once
been very rich and happy, but now her husband was dead and her two sons
also, and she had left only Orpah and Ruth, the wives of her sons.
There was a famine in the land. Naomi could find no grain in the fields
to beat into flour. She and Orpah and Ruth were lonely and sad and very

But Naomi heard there was a land where the Lord had visited His people
and given them bread; so she went forth from the place where she was,
and her two daughters with her, to the land called Judah. It was a
long, hard way to go. There were rough roads to travel and steep hills
to climb. Their feet grew so weary they could scarcely walk, and at
last Naomi said:

"Go, return each to your father's house. The Lord deal kindly with you
as you have dealt with me. The Lord grant you that you may find rest."

Then she kissed them, and Orpah kissed her and left her, but Ruth would
not leave Naomi. And Naomi said to Ruth:

"Behold, thy sister is gone back unto her own people; return thou!"

But Ruth clung to Naomi more closely, as she said:

"Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee:
for whither thou goest, there will I go; and where thou lodgest, there
will I lodge. Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God."

When Naomi saw that Ruth loved her so much, she forgot how tired and
hungry she was, and the two journeyed on together until they came to
Bethlehem in Judah in the beginning of the barley harvest. There was
no famine in Bethlehem. The fields were full of waving grain, and busy
servants were reaping it and gathering it up to bind into sheaves.
Above all were the fields of the rich man, Boaz, shining with barley
and corn.

Naomi and Ruth came to the edge of the fields and watched the busy
reapers. They saw that after each sheaf was bound, and each pile of
corn was stacked, a little grain fell, unnoticed, to the ground. Ruth
said to Naomi: "Let me go to the field and glean the ears of corn after
them." And Naomi said to her, "Go, my daughter." And she went, and came
and gleaned in the field after the reapers.

And Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to his reapers: "Whose damsel is
this?" for he saw how very beautiful Ruth was, and how busily she was
gleaning. The reapers said: "It is the damsel that came back with Naomi
out of the land of the Moabites."

And Ruth ran up to Boaz, crying: "I pray you, let me glean and gather
after the reapers among the sheaves."

And Boaz, who was good and kind, said to Ruth:

"Hearest thou not, my daughter? Go not to glean in any other field, but
abide here."

Then Ruth bowed herself to the ground, and said: "Why have I found such
favour in thine eyes, seeing I am a stranger?"

And Boaz answered her: "It hath been showed me all that thou hast done
to thy mother."

So, all day, Ruth gleaned in Boaz's fields. At noon she ate bread and
parched corn with the others. Boaz commanded his reapers to let fall
large handfuls of grain, as they worked, for Ruth to gather, and at
night she took it all home to Naomi.

"Where hast thou gleaned to-day?" asked Naomi, when she saw the food
that Ruth had brought to her.

"The man's name with whom I wrought to-day is Boaz," said Ruth. And
Naomi said: "Blessed be he of the Lord--the man is near of kin unto us."

So Ruth gleaned daily, and at the end of the barley harvest the good
man Boaz took Ruth and Naomi to live with him in his own house forever.


[13] From "For the Children's Hour," Milton Bradley Company.



    Bert is a manly, generous, warm-hearted fellow. Other
    boys will like to read how good luck began to come his
    way on a certain memorable Thanksgiving Day.

AT NOON, on a dreary November day, a lonesome little fellow, looking
very red about the ears and very blue about the mouth, stood kicking
his heels at the door of a cheap eating house in Boston, and offering a
solitary copy of a morning paper for sale to the people passing.

But there were really not many people passing, for it was Thanksgiving
Day, and the shops were shut, and everybody who had a home to go to and
a dinner to eat seemed to have gone home to eat that dinner, while Bert
Hampton, the newsboy, stood trying in vain to sell the last "extry"
left on his hands by the dull business of the morning.

An old man, with a face that looked pinched, and who was dressed in a
seedy black coat and a much-battered stovepipe hat, stopped at the same
doorway, and, with one hand on the latch, appeared to hesitate between
hunger and a sense of poverty before going in.

It was possible, however, that he was considering whether he could
afford himself the indulgence of a morning paper (seeing it was
Thanksgiving Day); so, at least, Bert thought, and accosted him

"Buy a paper, sir? All about the fire in East Boston, and arrest of
safe-burglars in Springfield. Only two cents!"

The little old man looked at the boy with keen gray eyes, which seemed
to light up the pinched and skinny face, and answered in a shrill voice
that whistled through white front teeth:

"You ought to come down in your price this time of day. You can't
expect to sell a morning paper at twelve o'clock for full price."

"Well, give me a cent then," said Bert. "That's less'n cost; but never
mind; I'm bound to sell out anyhow."

"You look cold," said the old man.

"Cold?" replied Bert; "I'm froze. And I want my dinner. And I'm going
to have a big dinner, too, seeing it's Thanksgiving Day."

"Ah! lucky for you, my boy!" said the old man. "You've a home to go to,
and friends, too, I hope?"

"No, _sir_; nary home, and nary friend; only my mother"--Bert
hesitated, and grew serious; then suddenly changed his tone--"and
Hop Houghton. I told him to meet me here, and we'd have a first-rate
Thanksgiving dinner together; for it's no fun to be eatin' alone
Thanksgiving Day! It sets a feller thinking of everything, if he ever
had a home and then hain't got a home any more."

"It's more lonesome not to eat at all," said the old man, his gray eyes
twinkling. "And what can a boy like you have to think of? Here, I guess
I can find one cent for you, though there's nothing in the paper, I

The old man spoke with some feeling, his fingers trembled, and somehow
he dropped two cents instead of one into Bert's hand.

"Here! You've made a mistake!" cried Bert. "A bargain's a bargain.
You've given me a cent too much."

"No, I didn't. I never give anybody a cent too much."

"But, see here!" And Bert showed the two cents, offering to return one.

"No matter," said the old man, "it will be so much less for _my_
dinner, that's all."

Bert had instinctively pocketed the pennies when, on a moment's
reflection, his sympathies were excited.

"Poor old man!" he thought; "he's seen better days I guess. Perhaps
he's no home. A boy like me can stand it, but I guess it must be hard
for _him_. He _meant_ to give me the odd cent all the while; and I
don't believe he has had a decent dinner for many a day."

All this, which I have been obliged to write out slowly in words, went
through Bert's mind like a flash. He was a generous little fellow,
and any kindness shown him, no matter how trifling, made his heart

"Look here!" he cried, "where are _you_ going to get your dinner

"I can get a bite here as well as anywhere. It don't matter much to
me," replied the old man.

"Dine with _me_," said Bert, laughing. "I'd like to have you."

"I'm afraid I couldn't afford to dine as you are going to," said the
man, with a smile, his eyes twinkling again and his white front teeth

"I'll pay for your dinner!" Bert exclaimed. "Come! We don't have a
Thanksgiving but once a year, and a feller wants a good time then."

"But you are waiting for another boy."

"Oh, Hop Houghton! He won't come now, it's so late. He's gone to a
place down in North Street, I guess--a place I don't like: there's so
much tobacco smoked and so much beer drank there." Bert cast a final
glance up the street. "No, he won't come now. So much the worse for
him! He likes the men down there; I don't."

"Ah!" said the man, taking off his hat, and giving it a brush with
his elbow, as they entered the restaurant, as if trying to appear as
respectable as he could in the eyes of a newsboy of such fastidious

To make him feel quite comfortable in his mind on that point, Bert
hastened to say:

"I mean rowdies, and such. Poor people, if they behave themselves,
are just as respectable to me as rich folks. I ain't the least mite

"Ah, indeed!" And the old man smiled again, and seemed to look
relieved. "I'm very glad to hear it."

He placed his hat on the floor and took a seat opposite Bert at a
little table, which they had all to themselves.

Bert offered him the bill of fare.

"No, I must ask you to choose for me; but nothing very extravagant, you
know. I'm used to plain fare."

"So am I. But I'm going to have a good dinner for once in my life, and
so shall you!" cried Bert, generously. "What do you say to chicken
soup, and then wind up with a thumping big piece of squash pie? How's
that for a Thanksgiving dinner?"

"Sumptuous!" said the old man, appearing to glow with the warmth of
the room and the prospect of a good dinner. "But won't it cost you too

"Too much? No, _sir_!" laughed Bert. "Chicken soup, fifteen cents;
pie--they give tremendous pieces here; thick, I tell you--ten cents.
That's twenty-five cents; half a dollar for two. Of course, I don't do
this way every day in the year. But mother's glad to have me, once in a
while. Here, waiter!" And Bert gave his princely order as if it were no
very great thing for a liberal young fellow like him, after all.

"Where is your mother? Why don't you dine with her?" the little man

Bert's face grew sober in a moment.

"That's the question: why don't I? I'll tell you why I don't. I've got
the best mother in the world. What I'm trying to do is to make a home
for her, so we can live together and eat our Thanksgiving dinners
together some time. Some boys want one thing, some another. There's one
goes in for good times; another's in such a hurry to get rich he don't
care much how he does it; but what I want most of anything is to be
with my mother and my two sisters again, and I ain't ashamed to say so."

Bert's eyes grew very tender, and he went on, while his companion
across the table watched him with a very gentle, searching look.

"I haven't been with her now for two years, hardly at all since father
died. When his business was settled up--he kept a little grocery store
on Hanover Street--it was found he hadn't left us anything. We had
lived pretty well up to that time, and I and my two sisters had been
to school; but then mother had to do something, and her friends got
her places to go out nursing, and she's a nurse now. Everybody likes
her, and she has enough to do. We couldn't be with her, of course. She
got us boarded at a good place, but I saw how hard it was going to be
for her to support us, so I said, 'I'm a boy; _I_ can do something for
_myself_. You just pay their board, and keep 'em to school, and I'll go
to work, and maybe help you a little, besides taking care of myself.'"

"What could _you_ do?" said the little old man.

"That's it. I was only 'leven years old, and what could I? What I
should have liked would have been some nice place where I could do
light work, and stand a chance of learning a good business. But
beggars mustn't be choosers. I couldn't find such a place; and I
wasn't going to be loafing about the streets, so I went to selling
newspapers. I've sold newspapers ever since, and I shall be twelve
years old next month."

"You like it?" said the old man.

"I like to get my own living," replied Bert, proudly, "but what I want
is to learn some trade, or regular business, and settle down, and make
a home for---- But there's no use talking about that. Make the best of
things, that's my motto. Don't this soup smell good? And don't it taste
good, too? They haven't put so much chicken in yours as they have in
mine. If you don't mind my having tasted it, we'll change."

The old man declined this liberal offer, took Bert's advice to help
himself freely to bread, which "didn't cost anything," and ate his soup
with prodigious relish, as it seemed to Bert, who grew more and more
hospitable and patronizing as the repast proceeded.

"Come, now, won't you have something between the soup and the pie?
Don't be afraid: I'll pay for it. Thanksgiving don't come but once a
year. You won't? A cup of tea, then, to go with your pie?"

"I think I _will_ have a cup of tea; you are _so_ kind," said the old

"All right! Here, waiter! Two pieces of your fattest and biggest squash
pie; and a cup of tea, strong, for this gentleman."

"I've told you about myself," added Bert; "suppose, now, _you_ tell
_me_ something."

"About myself?"

"Yes. I think that would go pretty well with the pie."

But the man shook his head. "I could go back and tell about my plans
and hopes when I was a lad of your age, but it would be too much like
your own story over again. Life isn't what we think it will be when
we are young. You'll find that out soon enough. I am all alone in the
world now, and I am sixty-seven years old."

"Have some cheese with your pie, won't you? It must be so lonely at
your age! What do you do for a living?"

"I have a little place in Devonshire Street. My name is Crooker. You'll
find me up two flights of stairs, back room, at the right. Come and see
me, and I'll tell you all about my business, and perhaps help you to
such a place as you want, for I know several business men. Now don't

And Mr. Crooker wrote his address with a little stub of a pencil on a
corner of the newspaper which had led to their acquaintance, tore it
off carefully, and gave it to Bert.

Thereupon the latter took a card from his pocket, not a very clean one,
I must say (I am speaking of the card, though the remark will apply
equally well to the pocket) and handed it across the table to his new

"_Herbert Hampton, Dealer in Newspapers_," the old man read, with his
sharp gray eyes, which glanced up funnily at Bert, seeming to say,
"Isn't this rather aristocratic for a twelve-year-old newsboy?"

Bert blushed, and explained: "Got up for me by a printer's boy I know.
I'd done some favours for him, so he made me a few cards. Handy to have
sometimes, you know."

"Well, Herbert," said the little old man, "I'm glad to have made your
acquaintance. The pie was excellent--not any more, thank you--and I
hope you'll come and see me. You'll find me in very humble quarters;
but you are not aristocratic, you say. Now won't you let me pay for my
dinner? I believe I have money enough. Let me see."

Bert would not hear of such a thing, but walked up to the desk and
settled the bill with the air of a person who did not regard a trifling

When he looked around again the little old man was gone.

"Never mind, I'll go and see him the first chance I have," said Bert,
as he looked at the pencilled strip of newspaper margin again before
putting it into his pocket.

He then went round to his miserable quarters, in the top of a cheap
lodging-house, where he made himself ready, by means of soap and water
and a broken comb, to walk five miles into the suburbs and get a sight,
if only for five minutes, of his mother.

On the following Monday Bert, having a leisure hour, went to call on
his new acquaintance in Devonshire Street.

Having climbed the two flights, he found the door of the back room at
the right ajar, and looking in, saw Mr. Crooker at a desk, in the act
of receiving a roll of money from a well-dressed visitor.

Bert entered unnoticed and waited till the money was counted and a
receipt signed. Then, as the visitor departed, old Mr. Crooker looked
round and saw Bert. He offered him a chair, then turned to lock up the
money in a safe.

"So this is your place of business?" said Bert, glancing about the
plain office room. "What do you do here?"

"I buy real estate sometimes--sell--rent--and so forth."

"Who for?" asked Bert.

"For myself," said little old Mr. Crooker, with a smile.

Bert stared, perfectly aghast at the situation. This, then, was the
man whom he had invited to dinner, and treated so patronizingly the
preceding Thursday!

"I--I thought--you was a poor man."

"I _am_ a poor man," said Mr. Crooker, locking his safe. "Money doesn't
make a man rich. I've money enough. I own houses in the city. They give
me something to think of, and so keep me alive. I had truer riches
once, but I lost them long ago."

From the way the old man's voice trembled and eyes glistened, Bert
thought he must have meant by these riches friends he had lost--wife
and children, perhaps.

"To think of _me_ inviting _you_ to dinner!" the boy cried, abashed and

"It _was_ odd." And Mr. Crooker showed his white front teeth with a
smile. "But it may turn out to have been a lucky circumstance for both
of us. I like you; I believe in you; and I've an offer to make to you:
I want a trusty, bright boy in this office, somebody I can bring up
to my business, and leave it with, as I get too old to attend to it
myself. What do you say?"

What _could_ Bert say?

Again that afternoon he walked--or rather, ran--to his mother, and
after consulting with her, joyfully accepted Mr. Crooker's offer.

Interviews between his mother and his employer soon followed, resulting
in something for which at first the boy had not dared to hope. The
lonely, childless old man, who owned so many houses, wanted a home; and
one of these houses he offered to Mrs. Hampton, with ample support for
herself and her children, if she would also make it a home for him.

Of course this proposition was accepted; and Bert soon had the
satisfaction of seeing the great ambition of his youth accomplished.
He had employment which promised to become a profitable business (as
indeed it did in a few years, he and the old man proved so useful to
each other); and, more than that, he was united once more with his
mother and sisters in a happy home where he has since had a good many
Thanksgiving dinners.


[14] From "Young Joe," Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Company.



    A three-minute story for the littlest boys and girls.

IT WAS nearly time for Thanksgiving Day. The rosy apples and golden
pumpkins were ripe, and the farmers were bringing them into the markets.

One day when two little children, named John and Minnie, were going to
school, they saw the turkeys and chickens and pumpkins in the window of
a market, and they exclaimed, "Oh, Thanksgiving Day! Oh, Thanksgiving
Day!" After school was over, they ran home to their mother, and asked
her when Thanksgiving Day would be. She told them in about two weeks;
then they began to talk about what they wanted for dinner, and asked
their mother a great many questions. She told them she hoped they
would have turkey and even the pumpkin pie they wanted so much, but
that Thanksgiving Day was not given us so that we might have a good
dinner, but that God had been a great many days and weeks preparing
for Thanksgiving. He had sent the sunshine and the rain and caused the
grains and fruits and vegetables to grow. And Thanksgiving Day was for
glad and happy thoughts about God, as well as for good things to eat.

Not long after, when John and Minnie were playing, John said to
Minnie, "I wish I could do something to tell God how glad I am about
Thanksgiving." "I wish so, too," said Minnie. Just then some little
birds came flying down to the ground, and Minnie said: "Oh, I know."
Then she told John, but they agreed to keep it a secret till the day
came. Now what do you think they did? Well, I will tell you.

They saved their pennies, and bought some corn, and early Thanksgiving
Day, before they had their dinner, they went out into the street near
their home, and scattered corn in a great many places. What for? Why,
for the birds. While they were doing it, John said, "I know, Minnie,
why you thought of the birds: because they do not have any papas and
mammas after they are grown up to get a dinner for them on Thanksgiving
Day." "Yes, that is why," said Minnie.

By and by the birds came and found such a feast, and perhaps they knew
something about Thanksgiving Day and must have sung and chirped happily
all day.


[15] From "Boston Collection of Kindergarten Stories," J. L. Hammett



    A sad Thanksgiving story is a rarity indeed. But
    the one which follows reminds us that the Puritans,
    although they originated our Thanksgiving festival,
    were after all a sombre people, seldom free from a
    realizing sense of the imminence of sin. Nathaniel
    Hawthorne, a genuine product of Puritanism, inherited
    a full share of his forefathers' constitutional
    melancholy and preoccupation with the darker aspects of
    life--as this story bears witness.

ON THE evening of Thanksgiving Day, John Inglefield, the blacksmith,
sat in his elbow-chair among those who had been keeping festival at
his board. Being the central figure of the domestic circle, the fire
threw its strongest light on his massive and sturdy frame, reddening
his rough visage so that it looked like the head of an iron statue, all
aglow, from his own forge, and with its features rudely fashioned on
his own anvil. At John Inglefield's right hand was an empty chair. The
other places round the hearth were filled by the members of the family,
who all sat quietly, while, with a semblance of fantastic merriment,
their shadows danced on the wall behind them. One of the group was John
Inglefield's son, who had been bred at college, and was now a student
of theology at Andover. There was also a daughter of sixteen, whom
nobody could look at without thinking of a rosebud almost blossomed.
The only other person at the fireside was Robert Moore, formerly an
apprentice of the blacksmith, but now his journeyman, and who seemed
more like an own son of John Inglefield than did the pale and slender

Only these four had kept New England's festival beneath that roof.
The vacant chair at John Inglefield's right hand was in memory of his
wife, whom death had snatched from him since the previous Thanksgiving.
With a feeling that few would have looked for in his rough nature,
the bereaved husband had himself set the chair in its place next his
own; and often did his eye glance hitherward, as if he deemed it
possible that the cold grave might send back its tenant to the cheerful
fireside, at least for that one evening. Thus did he cherish the grief
that was clear to him. But there was another grief which he would fain
have torn from his heart; or, since that could never be, have buried it
too deep for others to behold, or for his own remembrance. Within the
past year another member of his household had gone from him, but not to
the grave. Yet they kept no vacant chair for her.

While John Inglefield and his family were sitting round the hearth
with the shadows dancing behind them on the wall, the outer door was
opened, and a light footstep came along the passage. The latch of the
inner door was lifted by some familiar hand, and a young girl came in,
wearing a cloak and hood, which she took off and laid on the table
beneath the looking-glass. Then, after gazing a moment at the fireside
circle, she approached, and took the seat at John Inglefield's right
hand, as if it had been reserved on purpose for her.

"Here I am, at last, father," said she. "You ate your Thanksgiving
dinner without me, but I have come back to spend the evening with you."

Yes, it was Prudence Inglefield. She wore the same neat and maidenly
attire which she had been accustomed to put on when the household work
was over for the day, and her hair was parted from her brow in the
simple and modest fashion that became her best of all. If her cheek
might otherwise have been pale, yet the glow of the fire suffused it
with a healthful bloom. If she had spent the many months of her absence
in guilt and infamy, yet they seemed to have left no traces on her
gentle aspect. She could not have looked less altered had she merely
stepped away from her father's fireside for half an hour, and returned
while the blaze was quivering upward from the same brands that were
burning at her departure. And to John Inglefield she was the very image
of his buried wife, such as he remembered on the first Thanksgiving
which they had passed under their own roof. Therefore, though naturally
a stern and rugged man, he could not speak unkindly to his sinful
child, nor yet could he take her to his bosom.

"You are welcome home, Prudence," said he, glancing sideways at her,
and his voice faltered. "Your mother would have rejoiced to see you,
but she has been gone from us these four months."

"I know, father, I know it," replied Prudence quickly. "And yet, when I
first came in, my eyes were so dazzled by the firelight that she seemed
to be sitting in this very chair!"

By this time, the other members of the family had begun to recover
from their surprise, and became sensible that it was no ghost from the
grave, nor vision of their vivid recollections, but Prudence, her own
self. Her brother was the next that greeted her. He advanced and held
out his hand affectionately, as a brother should; yet not entirely like
a brother, for, with all his kindness, he was still a clergyman and
speaking to a child of sin.

"Sister Prudence," said he, earnestly, "I rejoice that a merciful
Providence hath turned your steps homeward in time for me to bid you a
last farewell. In a few weeks, sister, I am to sail as a missionary to
the far islands of the Pacific. There is not one of these beloved faces
that I shall ever hope to behold again on this earth. Oh, may I see all
of them--yours and all--beyond the grave!"

A shadow flitted across the girl's countenance.

"The grave is very dark, brother," answered she, withdrawing her hand
somewhat hastily from his grasp. "You must look your last at me by the
light of this fire."

While this was passing, the twin girl--the rosebud that had grown on
the same stem with the castaway--stood gazing at her sister, longing
to fling herself upon her bosom, so that the tendrils of their hearts
might intertwine again. At first she was restrained by mingled grief
and shame, and by a dread that Prudence was too much changed to respond
to her affection, or that her own purity would be felt as a reproach
by the lost one. But, as she listened to the familiar voice, while
the face grew more and more familiar, she forgot everything save that
Prudence had come back. Springing forward she would have clasped her in
a close embrace. At that very instant, however, Prudence started from
her chair and held out both her hands with a warning gesture.

"No, Mary, no, my sister," cried she, "do not you touch me! Your bosom
must not be pressed to mine!"

Mary shuddered and stood still, for she felt that something darker
than the grave was between Prudence and herself, though they seemed so
near each other in the light of their father's hearth, where they had
grown up together. Meanwhile Prudence threw her eyes around the room in
search of one who had not yet bidden her welcome. He had withdrawn from
his seat by the fireside and was standing near the door, with his face
averted so that his features could be discerned only by the flickering
shadow of the profile upon the wall. But Prudence called to him in a
cheerful and kindly tone:

"Come, Robert," said she, "won't you shake hands with your old friend?"

Robert Moore held back for a moment, but affection struggled
powerfully and overcame his pride and resentment; he rushed toward
Prudence, seized her hand, and pressed it to his bosom.

"There, there, Robert," said she, smiling sadly, as she withdrew her
hand, "you must not give me too warm a welcome."

And now, having exchanged greetings with each member of the family,
Prudence again seated herself in the chair at John Inglefield's right
hand. She was naturally a girl of quick and tender sensibilities,
gladsome in her general mood, but with a bewitching pathos interfused
among her merriest words and deeds. It was remarked of her, too, that
she had a faculty, even from childhood, of throwing her own feelings
like a spell over her companions. Such as she had been in her days of
innocence, so did she appear this evening. Her friends, in the surprise
and bewilderment of her return, almost forgot that she had ever left
them, or that she had forfeited any of her claims to their affection.
In the morning, perhaps, they might have looked at her with altered
eyes, but by the Thanksgiving fireside they felt only that their own
Prudence had come back to them, and were thankful. John Inglefield's
rough visage brightened with the glow of his heart, as it grew warm
and merry within him; once or twice, even, he laughed till the room
rang again, yet seemed startled by the echo of his own mirth. The brave
young minister became as frolicsome as a schoolboy. Mary, too, the
rosebud, forgot that her twin-blossom had ever been torn from the stem
and trampled in the dust. And as for Robert Moore, he gazed at Prudence
with the bashful earnestness of love new-born, while she, with sweet
maiden coquetry, half smiled upon and half discouraged him.

In short, it was one of those intervals when sorrow vanishes in its
own depth of shadow, and joy starts forth in transitory brightness.
When the clock struck eight, Prudence poured out her father's customary
draught of herb tea, which had been steeping by the fireside ever since

"God bless you, child," said John Inglefield, as he took the cup from
her hand; "you have made your old father happy again. But we miss your
mother sadly, Prudence, sadly. It seems as if she ought to be here now."

"Now, father, or never," replied Prudence.

It was now the hour for domestic worship. But while the family were
making preparations for this duty, they suddenly perceived that
Prudence had put on her cloak and hood, and was lifting the latch of
the door.

"Prudence, Prudence! where are you going?" cried they all with one

As Prudence passed out of the door, she turned toward them and flung
back her hand with a gesture of farewell. But her face was so changed
that they hardly recognized it. Sin and evil passions glowed through
its comeliness, and wrought a horrible deformity; a smile gleamed in
her eyes, as of triumphant mockery, at their surprise and grief.

"Daughter," cried John Inglefield, between wrath and sorrow, "stay and
be your father's blessing, or take his curse with you!"

For an instant Prudence lingered and looked back into the fire-lighted
room, while her countenance wore almost the expression as if she were
struggling with a fiend who had power to seize his victim even within
the hallowed precincts of her father's hearth. The fiend prevailed,
and Prudence vanished into the outer darkness. When the family rushed
to the door, they could see nothing, but heard the sound of wheels
rattling over the frozen ground.

That same night, among the painted beauties at the theatre of a
neighbouring city, there was one whose dissolute mirth seemed
inconsistent with any sympathy for pure affections, and for the
joys and griefs which are hallowed by them. Yet this was Prudence
Inglefield. Her visit to the Thanksgiving fireside was the realization
of one of those waking dreams in which the guilty soul will sometimes
stray back to its innocence. But Sin, alas! is careful of her
bondslaves; they hear her voice, perhaps, at the holiest moment, and
are constrained to go whither she summons them. The same dark power
that drew Prudence Inglefield from her father's hearth--the same in
its nature, though heightened then to a dread necessity--would snatch
a guilty soul from the gate of heaven, and make its sin and its
punishment alike eternal.



    The Waddle family had very bad luck on their farm in
    the West. And they certainly were homesick! But Obadiah
    and his uncle, between them, found means to mend

THAT an innocent and helpless baby should be named Obadiah Waddle was
an outrage which the infant unceasingly resented from the time he got
old enough to realize the awful gulf that lay between his name and
those of his more fortunate mates. The experiences of his first day at
school were branded into his soul; and although he made friends by his
bright face and kind and honest nature, scarcely a day passed during
his six years of village schooling without his absurd name flying out
at him from some unsuspected ambush and making him wince.

It was bad enough when the guying came from a boy, but when a girl took
to punning, jeering, or giggling at him it seemed as if his burden was
greater than he could bear. Then he would go home through the woods and
fields to avoid human beings, so hurt and unhappy that nothing but his
mother's greeting and the smell of a good supper could cheer him.

At home he had no trouble. His mother and his baby sister called
him Obie, and sweet was his name on their lips. His father, who had
objected to "Obadiah" from the first, called him Bub or Bubby; but one
can bear almost any name when it comes with a loving smile or a pat on
the shoulder, which was Mr. Waddle's way of addressing his only son.

Very early in life it had been explained to Obadiah that he was named
for his mother's favourite brother, who went to California to live,
after hanging a silver dollar on a black silk cord round the neck of
his little namesake.

Obadiah often looked at this dollar, which was kept in a little box
with a broken earring, a hair chain, a glass breastpin, and an ancient
"copper"; and sometimes on circus days or on the Fourth of July he
wished there was no hole in it that he might expend it on sideshows and
lemonade or on monstrous firecrackers.

But he knew that his mother valued it highly because Uncle Obie gave it
to him and because there were little dents in it made by his vigorous
first teeth; so he always returned it to the box with a sigh of
resignation, and made the most of the twenty-five cents given him by
his father on the great days of the year.

When he was eleven years old the Waddle family moved West, and the last
thing Obadiah heard as the train pulled away from the little station
of his native town was this verse, lustily shouted from a group of
schoolmates assembled to bid him good-bye:

    "Oh, Obadiah, you're going West,
     Where the prairie winds don't have no rest,
     You'll have to waddle your level best.
     Good-bye, my lover, good-bye!"

Ill-fortune attended the Waddles in their western home. To be sure,
they had their rich, broad acres, with never a stone or a stump to
hinder the smooth cutting plow, but a frightful midsummer storm in the
second year literally wiped out crops and cattle, and left them with
their bare lives in their lowly sod house.

"Drought first year, tornado second. If next year's a failure, we'll
go back--if we can raise money enough to go with. Three times and then
out!" said Mr. Waddle.

Mrs. Waddle broke down and wept. It scared the children to learn that
their mother could cry--their mother, who was always so bright and
cheerful and who always laughed away their griefs!

Mr. Waddle was scared, too. He bent down and patted her shoulder--his
favourite way of soothing beast or human being.

"Now, Mary, Mary! Don't you go back on us. We can stand everything as
long as you are all right. Don't feel bad! We'll pick up again. There's
time enough yet to grow turnips and fodder corn."

"But what will we fodder it to?" wailed Mrs. Waddle.

Mr. Waddle could not answer, thinking of his splendid horses, and of
his pure Jersey cows that would never answer to his call again.

"Well, I am ashamed of myself!" said Mrs. Waddle, after a few moments,
bravely drying her eyes. "And I'm wicked, too! I've just wished that
something would happen so we'd have to go back East, and it's happened;
and we might have all been killed. And I'm going to stop just where
I am. I don't care where we live--or how we live--so long as we are
all together--and well--and there's a crust in the house and water to

Rising, she seized the broom and began vigorously to sweep together the
leaves and grass which the cyclone had cast in through the open door.

"I declare, Mary!" said Mr. Waddle. "Do you mean to say you've been
homesick all this time?"

"I'd give more for the north side of one of those old Vermont hills
than I would for the whole prairie!" was the emphatic reply. "But I'm
not going to say another single word."

Mr. Waddle felt a thrill of comfort in knowing he was not alone in his
yearning for the old home. It was singular that these two, who loved
each other so truly, could so hide their inmost feelings. Each had
feared to appear weak to the other.

Mr. Waddle looked at his wife with almost a radiant smile. "Well, Mary,
we'll go back in the fall--if we can sell. I guess we can hire the
Deacon Elbridge place I see by last week's paper it's still for sale
or rent, and carpenter work in old Hartbridge is about as profitable
for me as farming out West."

"I'm glad you wouldn't mind going back, Homer," said Mrs. Waddle, and
they looked at each other as in the days of their courtship.

But selling the farm was not easy, and October found the Waddles in
painful straits.

"What will we have for Thanksgiving, Ma?" asked Obadiah.

"Oh, a pair of nice prairie chickens, mashed turnips, hot biscuits, and
melted sugar," cheerfully replied Mrs. Waddle.

"That sounds pretty good," said Obadiah; but when he got out of doors
he said to himself that you could not shoot prairie chickens without
ammunition, and that he had no bait even if he tried to use his quail
traps. He also reflected that his mother looked thin and pale, that
sister Ellie needed shoes, and that plum pudding and mince pie used
to be on Thanksgiving tables. But this was the day for his story
paper--post-office day--which seemed to cheer things up somehow.

When he went to town for the mail he would see if his father, who was
at work carpentering on a barn, could not spare a dime for a little
powder and shot. So the boy trudged away on his long walk, with his
empty gun on his shoulder and the hope of youth in his heart.

His father, busy at work, greeted him cheerily, but had no dime for
powder and shot. Pay for the work was not to be had until the first of
December, and meanwhile every penny must be saved--for coal and for
Ellie's shoes.

"It leaves Thanksgiving out in the cold, doesn't it, Bub? But we'll
make it up at Christmas, maybe," said Mr. Waddle, as Obadiah turned to
go. "Here's three cents for a bite of candy for Sis, and take good care
of mother. I'll be home day after to-morrow, likely."

Obadiah jingled the three pennies in his pocket as he walked to the
combined store and post-office. Three cents! They would buy a charge or
two of powder and shot, and he still had a few caps. And candy was not
good for people anyhow! He wished he had asked his father if he might
buy ammunition instead.

"But I'll not bother him again," he decided, "and Sis will be glad
enough of the candy."

He would not buy rashly. He looked over the jars of striped sticks,
peppermint drops, chocolate mice, and mixed varieties. Then he sat
down on a nail keg to await the distribution of the mail. He watched
the people standing by for the opening of the delivery window. It was
a rare thing for his family to get a letter, but then they seldom sent

Once in a while a newspaper came from Uncle Obadiah, but only one
letter in two years. Perhaps if he knew what hard luck they were having
he would write oftener. The boy had heard his mother say only the week
before that she wanted to write to Brother Obie, but was no hand at
letters, especially when there was no good news to write.

A thought now came to young Obadiah. He would write to his Uncle
to-morrow, and his brain began fairly to hum with what he would say.
When his time came he invested one cent in a clean white stick of candy
and the remaining two in a postage stamp. "I'll pay two cents back to
pa as soon as I get the answer," he said confidently to his questioning

His walk home abounded in exasperations. Never had game appeared so
plentiful. Three separate flocks of prairie chickens flew directly over
his head, a rabbit scurried across his path, and in the stubble of the
ruined grainfields rose and fell little clouds of quail.

"They just know it ain't loaded!" grumbled Obadiah, trudging with his
empty gun.

That night, after Sis had gone to sleep, and his mother had lain down
beside her, cheerfully remarking that bed was cheaper than fire, and
that she was glad there was a good wood lot on the Elbridge place,
Obadiah, behind the sheltering canvas partition that separated the
kitchen from the bedrooms, wrote the following letter:

    DEAR UNCLE:--Last year our crops were burned up by the
    drought and this year they were swept away by a cyclone
    and all the stock was killed, and father will not get
    his pay for carpenter work until December. If there was
    no hole in the dollar you gave me when I was a baby I
    would take it and buy something for Thanksgiving. I
    wish you would send me a dollar without a hole in it as
    soon as you can and I will send you the one with a hole
    in it. I would send it now but I have not got stamps
    enough. I hope you are well. We are all well, only ma
    is homesick. Your sincere nephew,

                                          OBADIAH WADDLE.

    P. S.--Please send your answer right to me, because I
    want to surprise ma with some things for Thanksgiving.

The next morning he set off to look at his most distant quail traps,
found them empty, and circled round to the village, where he posted his

The days crept slowly by, and times grew more and more uncomfortable
in the little sod house. Often when Obadiah was doing his "sums" his
pencil would shy off to a corner of his slate and scribble a list of
items something like this:

    2 cents to Pa                           $.02
    Stamps and paper (to send the D)         .06
    Powder and shot                          .10
    Tea and sugar for Ma                     .30
    1 lb. raisens                            .15
    6 eggs                                   .08
    1 lb. butter                             .20
    More powder                              .09

Sometimes he would set down half a pound of "raisens" and add "candy
for Sis, .05," but this was in his reckless moments. Sober second
thought always convinced him that "raisens" would bring the greatest
good to the greatest number about Thanksgiving time.

He casually asked his mother how long it took people to go to

"Well, Uncle Obie's newspapers always get here about four or five days
after they are printed. Dear me! I must write to your Uncle Obie just
as soon as we can spare the money for paper and stamps. He'll be glad
to know we are all alive and well, and that's about all I can tell him."

Obadiah smiled broadly behind his geography and began reckoning the
days. The answer might arrive about the 18th, but he heroically waited
until the 21st before going to ask for it. He reached the village long
before mail time, but saw so many things to consider in the grocery
and provision line that he was almost surprised when the rattle of the
"mail rig" and an ingathering of people told that the important time
had arrived.

The Waddles had given up their box, so he could not expect to see his
letter until it should be handed out to him from the general "W" pile.
He waited patiently. The fortunate owners of lock boxes took out their
letters with a proud air while the distributing was still going on.
Others, who had mere open boxes, drew close and tried to read inverted
superscriptions with poor success. Others who never had either letters
or papers, but who came in at this hour from force of habit, stood
near the stove or leaned on the counters and spoke of the weather and
swapped feeble jokes. Finally the small wooden window was flung open.
The little group got its papers and letters and gradually retired.

"Any letter for me?" cried Obadiah, his heart jumping.

"Nope; your pa got your papers last Saturday."

"But--ain't there a letter--for me?"

The man hastily ran over the half-dozen "W" missives. "Nope."

Obadiah's heart was heavy as lead now. He went out into the sleety
weather and faced the long walk home. His eyes were so blurred with
tears he could hardly see and his feet came near slipping.

A derisive shout came from across the street: "Hallo! Pretty bad
'waddling' this weather!"

Obadiah pulled his hat over his eyes and tramped on in scornful silence.

And now another voice called out to him, a voice from the rear: "Oh,
say! Waddle! Come back here--package for ye!" Obadiah hastily went
back, his heart leaping.

"Registered package," explained the postmaster. "'Most forgot it. Sign
your name on that line. Odd name you've got. No danger your mail going
to some other fellow."

Obadiah laughed and said he guessed not, and hardly believing
his senses, again started for home, and soon struck out upon the
far-stretching road. In the privacy of the great prairie he looked at
the package again. How heavy it was for such a small one, and how
important looked the long row of stamps; and there was Uncle Obadiah's
name in one corner, proving that it was truly the answer!

There must be a jackknife in it, or something besides the dollar. He
cut the stout twine, removed the wrapper, and lifted the cover of a
strong paper box. There was something wrapped in neat white paper and
feeling very solid.

Obadiah removed the paper, and a heavy, handsome and very fat leather
purse slipped into his hand. He opened it. It had several compartments,
and in each one were three or more hard, flat, round objects wrapped in
more white paper to keep them from jingling, very likely.

Obadiah unwrapped one of these round, flat objects, and even in the
dull light of the drizzling and fading November day he could see that
it was a bright, clean, shining silver dollar--and had no hole in it.

With hands fairly shaking with joy, he returned the purse to the box
and sped homeward. He ran all the way, only slowing up for breath now
and then, but it was dark, and the poor little supper was waiting when
he reached the house. The small lamp did not shed a very brilliant
light, but a mother does not need an electric glare in order to read
her child's face.

"Well, Obie, what's happened?" asked his mother as soon as he was
inside the door. "Have you caught a whole flock of quails?"

"Something better'n quails! Guess again, Ma!"

"Three nice fat prairie hens then."

"Something better'n prairie hens." And then Obie could wait no longer.
He pulled the package from under his coat and tossed it down beside the
poor old teapot, which had known little but hot water these many weeks.

"Why, it's from Brother Obie--to _you_!" exclaimed his mother, while
his father drew near and said, "Well, well!"

"And look inside! I haven't half looked yet," said Obie, "but _you_
look, Ma! I just want you to look!"

Ma opened the box, and then the purse, and then the fourteen round
objects wrapped in white paper. And they made a fine glitter on the red

"Well, _well_!" repeated Mr. Waddle.

"And here's something written," said Mrs. Waddle, taking a paper from a
pocket at the back of the purse.

"Read it, Ma--out loud! _I_ don't care," said Obie generously.

So Ma read it in a voice that trembled a little:

    MY DEAR NEPHEW:--If I count rightly, it is thirteen
    years since your good mother labelled you Obadiah. I'm
    not near enough to give you thirteen slaps--I wish I
    were--so I send you thirteen dollars, and one to grow
    on. Never mind returning the dollar with the hole in
    it--keep it for your grandchildren to cut their teeth
    on. Give my love to your parents and little sister; and
    if you look the purse through closely, I think you will
    find something of interest to your mother. It is about
    time she paid our old Vermont a visit. Be a good boy.
                       Your affectionate uncle,
                                          OBADIAH BROWN.

"Oh, that blessed brother!" cried Mrs. Waddle, wiping her eyes with her

Obie seized the purse and examined it on all sides. It was a very
wizard of a purse, for another little flat pocket was found in its
inmost centre, and from it Obie drew out another bit of folded paper
and opened it.

"Why, it's a check!" shouted Mr. Waddle. "A check for you, Mary,
for--two--hundred--dollars! My! There's a brother for you!"

"Oh, not two _hundred_--it must be twenty--it can't be----" faltered
Mrs. Waddle, wiping her eyes to look at the paper.

Then she gave a little cry and fell to hugging all her family. "We can
all go back--we can go next week!" and she almost danced up and down on
the unresponsive clay floor.

"I owe you two cents, Pa, and I'll pay it back to you just as soon as I
can get a dollar changed," said Obadiah proudly, fingering the shining

"How's that, Bubby?"

Then Obadiah explained.

"I hope you didn't complain, Obie," said his mother, her happy face

"Well, I told him about the drought and the cyclone. I guess if I was a
near relation I wouldn't call that complaining. And then I asked him if
he wouldn't swap dollars with me, so I could have one without a hole in
it to get something for Thanks----"

Mr. Waddle broke in with a shout of laughter, and Mrs. Waddle kissed
her son once more, and laughed, too, although her eyes were full of
tears. And then Obadiah knew everything was all right.

"We can have Thanksgiving now, can't we, Ma?" he asked. "It's so near;
and I'm going to get all the things. We'll have chicken pie--_tame_
chicken pie--and plum pudding--and butter--and cream for the
coffee--and cranberries--and lump sugar--and pumpkin pie--and----"

"Oh, me wants supper!" exclaimed Sis. And then they laughed again, and
fell upon the cooling cornbread and molasses and melancholy bits of
fried pork and the thin ghost of tea as if they were already engaged in
a feast of Thanksgiving. And so they were.


[16] From the _Youth's Companion_, November 26, 1903.



    Priscilla, the big white hen turkey, deserved a better
    fate than to be eaten on Thanksgiving Day, and Minty
    and Jason contrived to save her.

MARY ELLEN was coming home from her school teaching at the Falls, and
Nahum from 'tending in Blodgett's store at Edom Four Corners, and Uncle
and Aunt Piper with Mirandy and Augustus and the twins were coming from
Juniper Hill, and there was every prospect of as merry a Thanksgiving
as one could wish to see. And Thanksgivings were always merry at the
Kittredge farm on Red Hill. Uncle Kittredge might be a trifle over
thrift--a leetle nigh, his neighbours called him--but there was no
stinting at Thanksgiving, and when a boy is accustomed to perpetual
cornbread and sausages, he knows how to appreciate unlimited turkey
and plum pudding; and when he is used to gloomy evenings, in which
Uncle Kittredge holds the one feeble kerosene lamp between himself and
a newspaper, Aunt Kittredge knits in silent meditation on blue yarn
stockings, he knows how good it is to have the house filled with lights
and people, jolly games going on in the parlour, and candy-pulling in
the kitchen. All these delights were directly before Jason Kittredge
as he dangled his legs from the stone wall and whittled away at the
skewers which Clorinda, the "hired girl," had demanded of him, and yet
his heart was as heavy as lead.

He did not even look up when his sister Minty came up the hill toward
him. He knew it was Minty, because she was hop-skipping and humming,
and he knew that Aunt Kittredge had sent her to Mrs. Deacon Preble's to
get a recipe for snow pudding; she had said she "must have something
real stylish, because she had invited the new minister and his daughter
to dinner."

"Oh, Jason, don't you wish it was always going to be Thanksgiving Day
after to-morrow?" Minty continued her hop-skipping; she went to and fro
before the dejected figure on the wall. Minty was tall for twelve, and
she had a very high forehead, which made Aunt Kittredge think that she
was going to be "smart." Aunt Kittredge made her comb her hair straight
back from the high forehead, and fasten it with a round comb; not a
vestige of hair showed under Minty's blue hood, and her forehead looked
bleak and cold, and her pale blue eyes were watery, and her new teeth
were large and overlapped each other; but Aunt Kittredge said it was no
matter, if she was only good and "smart."

"Why, Jason, is anything the matter?" Minty stopped, breathless, and
the joy faded out of her face. Jason continued to whittle in gloomy
silence. His hands were almost purple with cold, and the wind flapped
his large pantaloons--they were Uncle Kittredge's old ones, and Aunt
Kittredge never thought it worth the while to consider the fit if they
were turned up so that he could walk in them.

"You don't care because the new minister and his daughter are coming?"
pursued Minty. Jason's tastes, as she well knew, did not incline to
ministers and schoolmasters as companions in merrymaking. "She's a big
girl, almost sixteen, and she will go with Mary Ellen, and we shall
have Mirandy and Augustus and the twins; and the Sedgell girls and
Nehemiah Ham are coming in the evening, and we shall have such fun, and
such lots to eat!"

"That's just like you. You're friv'lous. You don't know what an awful
hard world it is. You haven't got a realizing sense," said Jason

This last accusation was one with which Aunt Kittredge was accustomed
to overwhelm Clorinda when she burned the pies or wore her best
bonnet to evening meeting. Minty's face grew so long that it looked
like the reflection of a face in a spoon, and the tears came into her
eyes. It must be a hard world, since Jason found it so. He was much
stouter-hearted than she; his round, snub-nosed, freckled face was
generally as cheerful as the sunshine. Jason had his troubles--Minty
well knew what they were--but he bore them manfully. He didn't like
to have Clorinda use his hens' eggs when he was saving them to sell,
and perhaps it was even more trying to be at school when the eggs man
came around, and have Aunt Kittredge sell his eggs and put the money
into her pocket. Jason wished to go into business for himself, and he
had a high opinion of the poultry business for a beginning. Cyrus,
their "hired man," had once lived with a man at North Edom who made
fabulous sums by raising poultry. But Aunt Kittredge's peculiar views
of the rights of boys interfered with his accumulation of the necessary
capital. All these troubles Jason bore bravely. It must be some great
misfortune that caused him to look so utterly despairing, and to accuse
her of such dreadful things, thought poor Minty.

Jason took pity on her woful face. "P'raps you're not so much to blame,
Mint. You don't know," he said, in a somewhat softened tone. "It's Aunt

Minty heaved a long, long sigh. It generally _was_ Aunt Kittredge.

"She's told Cyrus to kill the--the white turkey!" continued Jason, with
almost a break in his voice.

"To kill Priscilla!" gasped Minty. "She couldn't--she wouldn't! Oh,
Jason, Cyrus won't do it, will he?"

"Hasn't he got to if she says so?" demanded Jason grimly.

"But Priscilla is yours," said Minty stoutly.

"She says she only let me call her mine. Just as if I didn't save
her out of that weak brood when all the rest were killed by the
thunderstorm! And brought her up in cotton behind the kitchen stove,
no matter how much Clorinda scolded! And found her nest with thirty-one
eggs in it in the old pine stump! And she knows me and follows me

"I shouldn't think Aunt Kittredge would want to," said Minty

"She wants a big turkey, because the minister and his daughter are
coming to dinner, and she doesn't want to have one of the young ones
killed, because she is too stin----"

"I wouldn't care if I were you. After all, Priscilla is only a turkey,"
said Minty, attempting to be cheerful.

But this well-meant effort at consolation aroused Jason's wrath.
"That's just like a girl!" he cried. "What do you care if you only have
blue beads and lots of candy?"

Poor Minty's face lengthened again, and her jaw fell. "There's my two
dollars and thirty cents, Jason," she said anxiously.

Jason started; a ray of hope flushed his freckled face.

"We can buy a big turkey over at Jonas Hicks's for all that money,"
continued Minty. And then she drew nearer to Jason, and added a
thrilling whisper, "And we can hide Priscilla!"

Jason stared at her in amazement. He had never expected Minty to come
to the front in an emergency. Perhaps the high forehead meant something
after all. "_She_'ll be after you about the money, you know," he said,
with a significant nod toward the house.

"It's my own. I earned it picking berries and weeding old Mrs.
Jackman's garden. It's in my bank, and the bank won't open till there's
five dollars in it."

Jason's face darkened.

"But we can smash it," said Minty calmly.

_Certainly_ the high forehead meant something.

Priscilla was hidden. The "smashing" was done in extreme privacy behind
the stone wall of the pasture. Cyrus was bound over to secrecy, as was
also Jonas Hicks, who, after some haggling, sold them his finest turkey
for two dollars and thirty cents.

"Cyrus is gettin' real handy and accommodatin'," said Clorinda the next
morning, when they were all in the kitchen, and Jason, ignobly arrayed
in Clorinda's kitchen-belle apron, was chopping, and Minty was seeding
raisins. "I expected nothin' but what I'd got to pick the white turkey,
and he's fetched her in all picked and drawed."

"She don't weigh quite so much as I expected," said Uncle Kittredge, as
he suspended the turkey on the hook of the old steelyards.

Jason and Minty slyly exchanged anxious glances. Neither of them had
looked at the turkey, and Minty's face was suffused with red even to
the roots of her tow-coloured hair.

Mary Ellen and Nahum came that night, and bright and early on the
morning of Thanksgiving Day came Uncle and Aunt Piper with Mirandy and
Augustus and the twins, and the house was full of noise and jollity.
Jason was obliged to go to church in the morning with the grown people,
but Minty stayed at home to help Clorinda, and after much manoeuvring
she found an opportunity to run down to the shanty in the logging road
and feed the white turkey. The new minister and his daughter came to
dinner, and Jason and Minty were glad that the children had seats at
the far end of the table. The minister's daughter was sixteen, and
looked very stylish, and Aunt Kittredge said she was glad enough that
they had the snow pudding, and that she had asked Aunt Piper to bring
her sauce dishes.

It had begun to be very merry at the far end of the table, in a quiet
way, for Aunt Kittredge's stern eye wandered constantly in that
direction, and Jason and Minty had almost forgotten that there were
trials and difficulties in life, when suddenly Aunt Piper's loud voice
sounded across the table, striking terror to their souls:

"You don't say that this is the white turkey? Seems kind of a pity to
kill her, she was so handsome. But she eats real well. Now, you mustn't
forget to let me take a wing home to Sabriny. You know you always
promised her a wing for her hat when the white turkey was killed."

Sabriny was Aunt Piper's niece, who had been left at home to keep house.

"Sure enough I did," said Aunt Kittredge. "Jason, you go out to the
barn and get Cyrus to give you one of the white turkey's wings; and
Minty, you wrap it up nice, so it will be handy for your aunt to
carry. Go as soon as you've ate your dinner, so's to have it ready, for
Uncle Piper has got to get home before sundown."

"Yes'm," answered Jason hoarsely, without lifting his eyes from his
plate. He could scarcely eat another mouthful, and Minty found it
unexpectedly easy to obey Aunt Kittredge's injunction to decline snow
pudding lest there should not be "enough to go round."

"What are you going to do?" asked Minty, overtaking Jason, as he walked
dejectedly through the woodshed as soon as dinner was over.

"I don't know; run away and be a cowboy like Hiram Trickey, I guess."

Minty's heart gave a great throb. Hiram Trickey had sent home a
photograph, which showed him to have become very like the picture of a
pirate in Cyrus's old book, with pistols and a dirk at his belt.

"Jason, the new minister's daughter has got a white gull's wing on her
hat, and--it's up in the spare chamber on the bed, and I don't think
Sabriny would ever know the difference."

Jason stared in mild-eyed speechless wonder. Minty had never shown
herself a leading spirit before.

"It will be dark before the minister's daughter goes, and there's a
veil over the hat, and if we put a little something white on it I'm
sure she won't notice. And when she does notice she won't know what
became of it. And we can save up and buy her another gull's wing."

"Sabriny'll know," said Jason, but there was an accent of hope in his

"They don't have turkeys, and they know that Priscilla wasn't a common
turkey; perhaps they won't know the difference," said Minty. "Anyway,
it will give us time to get Priscilla out of the way. If Aunt Kittredge
finds out, she will have her killed right away."

"You go and get the wing off the minister's daughter's hat, Mint,"
directed Jason firmly.

Minty worked with trembling fingers in the chilly seclusion of the
spare chamber, but she made a neat package. And she stuck on to the hat
in place of the wing some feathers from the white rooster.

There was an awful moment as Uncle and Aunt Piper were leaving.

"Just let me see whether he's got a real handsome wing," said Aunt
Kittredge, taking the package which Minty had put into Aunt Piper's

"Malachi is in considerable of a hurry, and they've done it up so
nice," said Aunt Piper. "There! I 'most forgot my sauce dishes, and
Sabriny's going to have company to-morrow!"

Minty drew a long breath of relief as the carriage disappeared down the
lane, and Jason privately confided to her his opinion that she was "an
orfle smart girl."

There was another dreadful moment when the minister's daughter went
home. They had played games until a very late hour, for Corinna, and
she dressed so hurriedly that she did not observe that anything had
happened to her hat, but as she went down the garden walk Jason and
Minty saw in the moonlight the rooster's feathers blowing from it.

The next morning, in the privacy afforded by the great woodpile, to
which Jason had gone to chop his daily stint, the children debated the
advisability of committing the white turkey to the care of Lot Rankin,
who lived with his widowed mother on the edge of the woods.

"It's hard to get a chance to feed her," said Jason, "and she may

"Lot Rankin may tell," suggested Minty. And she heaved a great sigh.
Conspiracy came hard to Minty.

Just then the voice of the new minister's daughter came to their ears.
She was talking with Aunt Kittredge on the other side of the woodpile.

"There was a high wind last night when I went home, and I suppose it
blew away. I am very sorry to lose it, because it was so pretty, and it
was a present, too," she said.

"Maybe the children have found it; they're round everywhere," said Aunt
Kittredge. And then she called shrilly to Jason.

Minty shrank down in a little heap behind a huge log as Jason stepped
bravely out from behind the woodpile, and answered promptly that he had
not seen the gull's wing. That was literally true; but how _she_ was
going to answer, Minty did not know.

It was so great a relief that tears sprang to Minty's eyes when, after
a little more conversation, the minister's daughter went away. Aunt
Kittredge had taken it for granted that, as she remarked, "if one of
them young ones didn't know anything about it the other didn't."

Minty felt her burden of guilt to be greater than she could bear.
And there was no way in which she could earn money enough to buy the
minister's daughter a new feather until berries were ripe and the weeds
grew in old Mrs. Jackman's garden. Minty racked her brains to think of
something she could give the minister's daughter to ease her troubled
conscience. There was her Bunker Hill monument, made of shells, her
most precious treasure; she would gladly have parted with even that,
but it stood upon the table in the parlour, and Aunt Kittredge would
discover so soon that it had gone. And Aunt Kittredge was quite
capable of asking the minister's daughter to return it. Minty felt,
despairingly, that this atonement was impossible.

But suddenly a bright idea struck her. The feather on her summer Sunday
hat! It was blue--it had been white originally, but Aunt Kittredge
had thriftily had it dyed when it became soiled. Blue would be very
becoming to the minister's daughter, and perhaps she would like it as
well as her gull's wing. There was another sly visit to the chilly
spare chamber. Minty took the summer Sunday hat from its bandbox in
the closet, and carefully abstracted the blue feather. It was slightly
faded, and there were some traces of the wetting it had received in
a thunderstorm in spite of the handkerchief which Aunt Kittredge
carefully pinned over it; but Minty thought it still a very beautiful
feather. She put it into a little pasteboard box, wrote the minister's
daughter's name on it, placed it on her doorstep at dusk, rang the
bell, and ran away.

It was nearly a week before she could find this opportunity to present
the feather, for Aunt Kittredge didn't allow her to go out after
dark; and in all that time they had not been able to negotiate with
Lot Rankin, for Lot had the mumps on both sides at once, and could
not be seen. But the very next day after the minister's daughter
received her feather--as if things were all coming right, thought
Minty hopefully--Uncle Kittredge sent her down to Lot Rankin's to find
out when he would be strong enough to help Cyrus in the logging camp;
and Jason gave her many charges concerning the contract she was to
make with Lot. But as she was going out of the house, there stood the
minister's daughter in the doorway, talking with Aunt Kittredge.

"I shouldn't have known where it came from if Miss Plympton, the
milliner, hadn't happened to come in," the young girl was saying. "She
said at once, 'It's Minty Kittredge's feather. I had it dyed for her
last summer, and there's the little tag from the dye-house on it now.'
I can't think why she sent it to me."

Aunt Kittredge turned to the shrinking figure behind her, holding the
blue feather accusingly in her hand.

"Araminta Kittredge, what does this mean?" she demanded sternly.

"I--I--she felt so bad about her gull's wing, and--and----" A rising
sob fairly choked Minty.

"Please don't scold her. I'm sure she can explain," pleaded the
minister's daughter.

"It's my duty to find out just what this means," said Aunt Kittredge
severely. "I never heard of a child doing such a high-handed thing! You
can do your errand now, because your uncle wants you to, but when you
come back I shall have a settlement with you."

Poor Minty! She ran fast, never looking back, although the minister's
daughter called to her in kindliest tones.

There was no hope of keeping a secret from Aunt Kittredge when once
she had discovered that there was one. The only chance of saving
Priscilla's life lay in persuading Lot Rankin to care for and conceal

But, alas! she found that Lot was not to be persuaded. He was going
into the woods to work, and his mother was "set against turkeys."
Moreover, she was "so lonesome most of the time that when folks _did_
come along she told 'em all she knew."

Jason, who had been very anxious, met her at the corner. Perhaps it was
not to be wondered at that Jason was somewhat cross and unreasonable.
He said only a girl would be so foolish as to send that feather to the
minister's daughter. Girls were all silly, even those who had high
foreheads, and he would never trust one again. He hoped she was going
to have sense enough not to tell, no matter what Aunt Kittredge did.

Poor Minty felt herself to be quite unequal to resisting Aunt
Kittredge, but she swallowed a lump in her throat and said firmly that
she would try to have sense enough.

As they passed the blacksmith's shop, Liphlet, Uncle Piper's man,
called out to them: "Mebbe I shan't have time to go up to your house.
The blacksmith is sick, so I had to come over here to get the mare
shod, and I wish you'd tell your aunt that Sabriny says 'twan't no
turkey's wing that she sent her: 'twas some kind of a sea-bird's wing,
and it come off of somebody's bunnit, and she's a-goin' to fetch it

Minty and Jason answered not a word, but as they went on they looked at
each other despairingly.

"We should have been found out anyway," said Minty.

Her pitifully white face seemed to touch Jason and arouse a spark of
manly courage in his bosom.

"I'll stand by you, Mint, feather and all. You can't help being a
girl," he said magnanimously. "And I won't run away to be a cowboy like
Hiram Trickey."

Minty gave him a little grateful glance, but she could not speak. It
did not seem so dreadful now about Hiram Trickey. She wished that a
girl could run away to be a cowboy.

As they slowly and dejectedly drew near the house, they saw a horse and
a farm wagon at the door, and through the window they discovered that
Uncle and Aunt Kittredge, Clorinda, and Cyrus were all in the kitchen.
There was a visitor. Here was at least a slight reprieve. They went
around through the woodshed; it seemed advisable to approach Aunt
Kittredge with caution, even in the presence of a visitor.

"Well, I must say I'm consid'able disappointed," the visitor was
saying, as they softly opened the door. He was a bluff, burly man, who
sat with his tall whip between his knees. "I ought to 'a' stopped when
I see her out there top of the stone wall the last time I come by--the
handsomest turkey cretur I ever did see, and I've been in the poultry
business this twenty years. I knew in a minute she belonged to that
breed that old Mis' Joskins had; she fetched 'em from York State. She
moved away before I knew it, and carried 'em all with her."

"I bought some eggs of her, and 'most all of 'em hatched, but that
white turkey was the only one that lived," said Aunt Kittredge. "I
declare if I'd known she was anything more'n common, and worthy of
havin' her picture in a book----"

"You'd ought to have known it, Maria!" said Uncle Kittredge testily. "I
wa'n't for havin' her killed, and you'd ought to have heard to me!"

"I was calc'latin' to hev her picter right in the front of my new
poultry book," continued the visitor, whom the children now recognized
as the distinguished poultry dealer of North Edom for whom Cyrus had
once worked. "And I was going to have printed under it, 'From the farm
of Abner Kittredge, Esq., Corinna.' Be kind of a boom for you 'n'
Corinna, too--see? And if you didn't want to sell her right out, I was
calc'latin' to make you a handsome offer for all the eggs she laid."

"There! Now you see what you've done, Maria! I declare I wouldn't
gredge givin' a twenty dollar bill to fetch that white turkey back!"
exclaimed Uncle Kittredge.

"Oh, oh! Uncle Kittredge!" Minty broke away from Jason, who would have
held her back, not feeling sure that it was quite time to speak, and
rushed into the room. "You needn't give twenty dollars! Priscilla is
down in the little shanty in the logging wood! We saved her--Jason
and I--and we bought a turkey of Jonas Hicks instead. I paid with my
own money, Aunt Kittredge! And then I--I took the gull's wing off the
minister's daughter's hat to send to Sabriny, and--and so that's why I
sent her the blue feather, and--and Sabriny's going to send the gull's
wing back----"

"Jason, you go and fetch that turkey home!" said Uncle Kittredge. "And,
Maria, don't you blame them children one mite!"

"I never heard of such high-handed doin's!" gasped Aunt Kittredge.

"I expect I shall have to send you children each a copy of my book with
the picter of that turkey in it," said the poultry dealer. "And maybe
the boy and I can make kind of a contract about eggs and chickens."

The minister's daughter wore her gull's wing to church the next Sunday,
and she privately confided to Minty that she "didn't blame her one
bit." Aunt Kittredge looked at Minty somewhat severely for several
days but only as she looked at her when she turned around in church or
fidgeted in the long prayer. And after the poultry book came out with
Priscilla's photograph as a frontispiece, and people began to make
pilgrimages to the Red Hill farm to see the poultry, she was heard to
say several times that "it was wonderful to see how a smart boy like
Jason could make turkey raising pay," and that "as for Minty, she
always knew that high forehead of hers wasn't for nothing."


[17] From _Harper's Young People_, November 22, 1892.



    How a little boy learned to be thankful. A charming
    story even though it _has_ a moral.

"BUT I don't like roast goose," said Guy, pouting. "I'd rather
have turkey. Turkey is best for Thanksgiving, anyway. Goose is for

Guy's mother did not answer. He watched her while she carefully wrote
G. T. W. on the corner of a pretty new red-bordered handkerchief. Five
others, all alike, and all marked alike, lay beside it. The initials
were his own.

"Why didn't you buy some blue ones? I'd rather have them different," he

Mrs. Wright smiled a queer little smile, but did not answer. She
lighted a large lamp and held the marked corner of one of the
handkerchiefs against the hot chimney. The heat made the indelible ink
turn dark, although the writing had been so faint Guy hardly could see
it before.

"Oh, dear," he cried, "there's a little blot at the top of that T! I
don't want to carry a handkerchief that has a blot on it."

"Very well," said his mother. "I'll put them away, and you may carry
your old ones until you ask me to let you carry this one. I don't care
to furnish new things for a boy who doesn't appreciate them."

"I don't like old----"

"That'll do, Guy. Never mind the rest of the things that you don't
like. I want you to take this dollar down to Mrs. Burns. Tell her that
I shall have a day's work for her on Friday, and I thought she might
like to have part of the pay in advance to help make Thanksgiving with.
Please go now."

"But a dollar won't help much. She won't like that. She always acts
just as if she was as happy as anybody. I don't want to go there on
such an errand as that."

Mrs. Wright smiled again, but her tone was very grave.

"Mrs. Burns is 'as happy as anybody,' Guy, and she has the best-behaved
children in the neighbourhood. The little ones almost never cry, and I
never have seen the older ones quarrel. But there are eight children,
and Mr. Burns has only one arm, so he can't earn much money. Mrs. Burns
has to turn her hands to all sorts of things to keep the children
clothed and fed. She'll be thankful to get the dollar--you see if she
isn't! And tell her if she is making mince pies to sell this year, I'll
take three."

Guy walked very slowly down the street until he came to the little
house where the Burns family lived.

"I'd hate to live here," he thought. "I don't see where they all
sleep. My room isn't big enough, but I don't believe there's a room in
this house as big as mine. I shouldn't have a bit of fun, ever, if I
lived here. And I'd hate to have my mother make pies and send me about
to sell them."

Then he knocked on the front door, for there was no bell. No one came.
He could hear people talking in the distance, so he knew some of the
family were at home. Some one always was at home here to look after the
little children. He walked around to the kitchen door: it stood open.
The children were talking so fast they did not hear his knock.

They were very busy. Katie, the eleven-year-old, and Malcolm, ten,
Guy's age, were cutting citron into long, thin strips, piling it on a
big blue plate. Mary and James, the eight-year-old twins, were paring
apples with a paring machine. The long, curling skins fell in a large
stone jar standing on a clean paper, spread on the floor. Charlie, who
was only four years old, was watching to see that none of the parings
fell over the edge of the jar. Susan, who was seven, was putting
raisins, a few at a time, into a meat chopper screwed down on the
kitchen table. George, three years old, was turning the handle of the
chopper to grind the raisins. Baby Joe was creeping about the kitchen
floor after a kitten. Mrs. Burns was taking a great piece of meat from
a steaming kettle on the back of the stove. Every one was working,
except the baby and the kitten, but all seemed to be having a glorious
time. What they were saying seemed so funny it was some time before
Guy could understand it. At last he was sure it was some kind of a game.

"Mice?" asked Susan. Mary squealed, and they all laughed.

"Because they're small," said Mary. "Snakes?"

"They can't climb trees," Mrs. Burns called out from the pantry. The
children fairly roared at that. "A pantry with no window in it?"

"Oh, we've had that before," Katie answered. "I know what you say. It's
a good place to ripen pears in when Mrs. Wright gives us some."

Guy knocked very loudly at that. He had not thought that he was

The children started, but did not leave their work. They looked at
their mother. "Jamie," she said. Then Jamie came to meet Guy, and
invited him to walk in.

"What game is it?" asked Guy, forgetting his errand.

"Making mince pies," said Jamie. "It's lots of fun. Don't you want to
play? I'll let you turn the paring machine if you'd like that best."

Guy said "Thank you" and began to turn the parer eagerly.

"But I don't mean what you are doin'," said Guy. "I knew that was mince
pies. I thought that was work. I meant what you were saying. It sounds
so funny! I never heard it before."

"Mamma made it up," explained Malcolm. "It's great fun. We always play
it at Thanksgiving time. You think of something that people don't like,
and the one who can think first tells what he is thankful for about it.
We call it 'Thanksgiving.'"

Guy stayed for an hour, and played both games. Then, quite to his
surprise, the twelve o'clock whistles blew, and he had to go home. But
he remembered his errands and did them, to the great pleasure of the
whole Burns family.

In the afternoon Guy spent some time writing a note to his mother. It
was badly written, but it made his mother happy. It read:

    DEAR MOTHER:--I am Thankful the blot isent any bigger.
    I am Thankful the hankershefs isent black on the
    borders. I would like that one with the Blot on to put
    in my pocket when you read this. But my old ones are
    nice. The Burnses dont have things to be Thankful for
    but they are Thankful just the same.

    I am Thankful for the Goose we are going to have. The
    best is I am Thankful I am not a Goose myself, for if I
    was I wouldent know enough to be Thankful.
                              Respectfully yours,
                                        GUY THEODORE WRIGHT.


[18] From the _Youth's Companion_, November 26, 1908.



    Americans are not the only people who hold a feast each
    year after the crops are gathered into barns.

    The older boys and girls who wish to know more of the
    jolly English farmer, Martin Poyser, and his household,
    will enjoy reading about them in George Eliot's great
    novel, "Adam Bede."

IT WAS a goodly sight--that table, with Martin Poyser's round
good-humoured face and large person at the head of it, helping his
servants to the fragrant roast beef, and pleased when the empty
plates came again. Martin, though usually blest with a good appetite,
really forgot to finish his own beef to-night--it was so pleasant to
him to look on in the intervals of carving, and see how the others
enjoyed their supper; for were they not men who, on all the days of
the year except Christmas Day and Sundays, ate their cold dinner, in
a makeshift manner, under the hedgerows, and drank their beer out of
wooden bottles--with relish certainly, but with their mouths toward the
zenith, after a fashion more endurable to ducks than to human bipeds.
Martin Poyser had some faint conception of the flavour such men must
find in hot roast beef and fresh-drawn ale. He held his head on one
side, and screwed up his mouth, as he nudged Bartle Massey, and watched
half-witted Tom Tholer, otherwise known as "Tom Saft," receiving his
second plateful of beef. A grin of delight broke over Tom's face as the
plate was set down before him, between his knife and fork, which he
held erect, as if they had been sacred tapers; but the delight was too
strong to continue smouldering in a grin--it burst out the next moment
in a long-drawn "haw, haw!" followed by a sudden collapse into utter
gravity, as the knife and fork darted down on the prey. Martin Poyser's
large person shook with his silent unctuous laugh; he turned toward
Mrs. Poyser to see if she, too, had been observant of Tom, and the eyes
of husband and wife met in a glance of good-natured amusement.

But _now_ the roast beef was finished and the cloth was drawn, leaving
a fair large deal table for the bright drinking cans, and the foaming
brown jugs, and the bright brass candlesticks, pleasant to behold.
_Now_ the great ceremony of the evening was to begin--the harvest
song, in which every man must join; he might be in tune, if he liked
to be singular, but he must not sit with closed lips. The movement was
obliged to be in triple time; the rest was _ad libitum_.

As to the origin of this song--whether it came in its actual state
from the brain of a single rhapsodist, or was gradually perfected
by a school or succession of rhapsodists, I am ignorant. There is a
stamp of unity, of individual genius upon it, which inclines me to
the former hypothesis, though I am not blind to the consideration
that this unity may rather have arisen from that consensus of many
minds which was a condition of primitive thought foreign to our modern
consciousness. Some will perhaps think that they detect in the first
quatrain an indication of a lost line, which later rhapsodists, failing
in imaginative vigour, have supplied by the feeble device of iteration;
others, however, may rather maintain that this very iteration is an
original felicity to which none but the most prosaic minds can be

The ceremony connected with the song was a drinking ceremony. (That
is perhaps a painful fact, but then, you know, we cannot reform our
forefathers.) During the first and second quatrain, sung decidedly
_forte_, no can was filled:

    "Here's a health unto our master,
       The founder of the feast;
     Here's a health unto our master
       And to our mistress!

    "And may his doings prosper,
       Whate'er he takes in hand,
     For we are all his servants,
       And are at his command."

But now, immediately before the third quatrain or chorus, sung
_fortissimo_, with emphatic raps on the table, which gave the effect of
cymbals and drum together, Alick's can was filled, and he was bound to
empty it before the chorus ceased.

    "Then drink, boys, drink!
       And see ye do not spill,
     For if ye do, ye shall drink two,
       For 'tis our master's will."

When Alick had gone successfully through this test of steady-handed
manliness, it was the turn of old Kester, at his right hand--and so on,
till every man had drunk his initiatory pint under the stimulus of the
chorus. Tom Saft--the rogue--took care to spill a little by accident;
but Mrs. Poyser (too officiously, Tom thought) interfered to prevent
the exaction of the penalty.

To any listener outside the door it would have been the reverse of
obvious why the "Drink, boys, drink!" should have such an immediate
and often-repeated encore; but once entered, he would have seen that
all faces were at present sober, and most of them serious; it was the
regular and respectable thing for those excellent farm-labourors to
do, as much as for elegant ladies and gentlemen to smirk and bow over
their wine glasses. Bartle Massey, whose ears were rather sensitive,
had gone out to see what sort of evening it was at an early stage in
the ceremony; and had not finished his contemplation, until a silence
of five minutes declared that "Drink, boys, drink!" was not likely to
begin again for the next twelve-month. Much to the regret of the boys
and Totty; on them the stillness fell rather flat, after that glorious
thumping of the table, toward which Totty, seated on her father's knee,
contributed with her small might and small fist.

When Bartle reëntered, however, there appeared to be a general desire
for solo music after the choral. Nancy declared that Tim the wagoner
knew a song and was "allays singing like a lark i' the stable";
whereupon Mr. Poyser said encouragingly, "Come, Tim, lad, let's hear
it." Tim looked sheepish, tucked down his head, and said he couldn't
sing; but this encouraging invitation of the master's was echoed all
round the table. It was a conversational opportunity: everybody could
say, "Come, Tim"--except Alick, who never relaxed into the frivolity of
unnecessary speech. At last Tim's next neighbour, Ben Tholoway, began
to give emphasis to his speech by nudges, at which Tim, growing rather
savage, said, "Let me alooan, will ye? else I'll ma' ye sing a toon ye
wonna like." A good-tempered wagoner's patience has limits, and Tim was
not to be urged further.

"Well, then, David, ye're the lad to sing," said Ben, willing to show
that he was not discomfited by this check. "Sing 'My loove's a roos
wi'out a thorn.'"

The amatory David was a young man of an unconscious abstracted
expression, which was due probably to a squint of superior intensity
rather than to any mental characteristic; for he was not indifferent to
Ben's invitation, but blushed and laughed and rubbed his sleeve over
his mouth in a way that was regarded as a symptom of yielding. And for
some time the company appeared to be much in earnest about the desire
to hear David's song. But in vain. The lyrism of the evening was in
the cellar at present, and was not to be drawn from that retreat just


[19] From Chapter LIII of "Adam Bede."



    A little country girl made known her wants in a
    decidedly original way. A small boy in the city did
    his best to satisfy them. This is at once a story of
    Thanksgiving and of Christmas.

"OH, MOTHER! what do you suppose Ellen found in the turkey? You
never could guess. It's a letter--yes, a real letter just stuffed
inside--see!" And Freddie held before his mother's wondering eyes a
soiled and crumpled envelope which seemed to contain a letter.

Freddie had been in the kitchen all the morning watching the various
operations for the Thanksgiving dinner which was "to come off" the next
day, when all the "sisters, cousins, and aunts" of the family were to
assemble, as was their custom each year, and great was the commotion in
the kitchen and much there was for Master Fred to inspect. When Ellen
put her hand into the turkey to arrange him for the stuffing, great
was her astonishment at finding a piece of paper. Drawing it quickly
out she called, "Freddie, Freddie, see here! See what I've found in
the turkey! I declare if he isn't a new kind of a postman, for sure as
you're born this is a letter, come from somewhere, in the turkey. My!
who ever heard of such a thing?"

Freddie, standing with eyes and mouth wide open, finally said, "Why,
Ellen, do you believe it is a letter?"

"Why, of course it is! Don't you see it's in a' envelope and all sealed
and everything?"

"Yes, but it hasn't any stamp and how could a turkey bring it--how did
it get in him?"

"Oh," laughed Ellen, "that's the question! You'd better take it right
up to your mother and get her to read it to you and perhaps it will

So Freddie, all excitement, rushed upstairs and into his mother's room,
shouting as we have read.

His mother took the letter from him. "Where did you get this,
Freddie--what do you mean by finding it in the turkey?"

"Why, Ellen found it in the turkey when she was fixing him, and I don't
see how it got there."

Mrs. Page turned the envelope and slowly read, "To the lady who buys
this turkey," written with a pencil and in rather crooked letters on
the outside; then opening the envelope she found, surely enough, a
letter within, also written in pencil, in rather uncertain letters,
some large, some quite small, some on the line, others above or below,
but all bearing sufficient relation to one another for her finally to
decipher the following:

                                  _Nov. 20,
                              Mad River Village, N. H._

    dere lady I doo want a dol for Christmas orful and
    mother says that Sante Claws is so busy in the city
    that she gueses he forgits the cuntry and for me to
    rite to the city lady who buys our turkey and ask her
    if she will pleas to ask Sante Claws if he could send
    a dol way up here in the cuntry to me. I will hang my
    stockin in the chimly and he cannot mistake the house
    becaus it is the only house that is black in the hole
    place. I have prayed to him lots of times to give me
    a dol but I gues he does not mind prayers much from a
    little girl so far away so will you pleas to ask him
    for me and oblige

                                           LUCY TILLAGE.

    P. S.--I hope the turkey will be good to eat, he is our
    very best one and I was sorry to have him killed, but I
    never had a dol.

Freddie listened, very much interested, sometimes helping to make
out the letters while his mother read this remarkable letter. At
its conclusion he dropped upon a chair in deep thought while in his
imagination he saw a small black house surrounded by turkeys running
wildly about while a little girl tried to catch the largest.

"Oh, mother," at length he sighed, "only think of a girl who never
had a doll, and Beth has so many she don't know what to do with them
all--shall you ask Santa Claus to send her one?"

"Well," said Mrs. Page, who also had been in deep thought, "do you
think we better ask Santa Claus to send her one, or send her one
ourselves? You and Beth might send her one for a Christmas present."

At once Freddie became fired with the desire to rush to a store,
purchase a doll, and send it off to the little "black house." He seemed
to think the house was little because the girl was little.

"No, no, Freddie, not so fast," said Mrs. Page. "I think we better wait
till papa comes home and then we will ask his advice about it: first,
if he knows of a town in New Hampshire of this name, and then if he
thinks there may really be a little girl there who has such an odd
name--I shouldn't be surprised if Papa could find out all about her."

Freddie thought it was hard to wait until his father came home before
something was done about securing a doll; still he knew his mother was
right and tried to be patient, wishing Beth would come home, wondering
how the little girl looked, and if she had any brothers who wanted
something, and fifty other things, till he heard his father's key in
the front door; then down he rushed, flourishing the open sheet in his
hand, and gave him a most bewildering and rapid account of the letter
and the finding it in the turkey, ending with, "Now, Papa, do you know
of any such town, and did you ever hear of Lucy Tillage before, or of
anybody's turkey having a letter sent in him, and don't you think we
might send her the doll right away so's she might have it for Christmas
sure--don't you, Papa? And if we can't get a new one won't you tell
Beth to send one of hers? I know she won't want so many and----"

"Oh! stop, my boy," said Mr. Page, laughing heartily; "wait a moment,
Fred, I don't half understand what this is all about--a letter and a
turkey and a little girl with a doll and a turkey in a black house----"

"Now, Papa, you're getting it all mixed up; you read the letter
yourself, please."

So Mr. Page read the letter and heard about finding it in the turkey,
and then talked it over with his wife and Freddie and Beth, who had
come in from her play, and it was decided that he should write to the
postmaster and minister in Mad River Village asking them if they knew
of any family in the place of the name of Tillage, and if they did,
whether they were a poor family, and how many children they had, and
anything else they might know of them.

There was no time to lose if the doll was to be sent for Christmas, so
both letters were written that very evening and Freddie begged to put
them in the post box himself that there might be no mistake in that.

Then came a long time of waiting for Master Fred. At first he thought
one day would be enough for the letter to find its way to Mad River
Village; but upon a solemn consultation with the cousins and aunts
who came to the Thanksgiving party, it was decided that three days,
at least, ought to be allowed for a letter to reach a place that none
of them had ever heard of, and perhaps there was not such a village
anywhere after all; but Freddie had made up his mind that there was
somewhere, and so each morning found him watching for the postman and
each night he went to bed disappointed, saying, "Oh! I hope there is a
truly Mad Village."

Beth was almost as much excited as Fred about Lucy's letter, but still
she laughed at him as older sisters sometimes seem to take pleasure in
doing, saying, "I guess it's a delicious wonderland kind of a letter,
and that the people up there are mad people to be sending letters in

"Well, you just wait, Beth, and see if they are," answered Fred;
and sure enough, after ten days of waiting Freddie was rewarded by
receiving from the postman a yellow envelope with "Mad River Village"
printed in large, clear letters "right side of the stamp." He ran as
fast as he could with it to his father, shouting to Beth by the way to
"come and see if there isn't a Mad Village and a Lucy Tillage."

Mr. Page was never given so short a time before to open a letter and
adjust his glasses, but then a letter had never before been received
under such circumstances. It proved to be from the postmaster at Mad
River Village, and ran as follows:

                              _Mad River Village, N. H._

    MR. PAGE of Boston: I rec. your letter a Day or two
    since and hasten to ans. it right away, as you wish,
    by this morning's mail which I must put up pretty soon
    so this letter must be short. Yes sir I do know a
    family in this town by the name of Tillage and they're
    a good respectable family too. They live a mile or
    two out of the village on a farm his father left him
    and I guess they have pretty hard times making both
    ends meet--there ain't much sale up here for farm
    things, you know, and it costs a heap to send them
    to Boston but they do say that of late he's raised
    lots of chickens and turkeys to send to Boston for
    Thanksgiving. Last year he and his wife started in on
    taking summer boarders and I guess they done first
    rate. They're young folks, got three children, a
    little girl a small boy and a baby and I guess they'll
    do as well as any one can on that farm, it's a likely
    place but his father ain't been dead long and Geo.
    didn't have no show while the old man was alive. He
    buys his flour and groceries of me and I call him a
    honest fellow and I guess you'd like to board with them
    if you want to try them next summer. I don't think of
    anything more to say so will close.

                                   Yours respt.
                                         JOSIAH SAFFORD.

    P. S.--His name and address are George Tillage,
    Intervale Farm, Mad River Village, N. H.

This was a highly satisfactory letter, especially to Master Fred who
had shouted gleefully to Beth, "I told you so!" "I do know a family
of the name of Tillage," and when his father read "three children, a
little girl, etc.," he nearly turned a somersault in his excitement,
dancing about and saying, "that's Lucy! that's Lucy!"

Mr. Page turned smilingly to his wife, saying, "Well, my dear, this
does not sound so much like a fairy tale after all, and I really think
you and the children must play Santa Claus and send Lucy a doll."

"Oh, yes, Papa, of course we must! Yes, do, Mamma!" shouted both
children at once. "It'll be such fun and she won't know where it comes

Mrs. Page was only too willing, so she promised, only adding that she
hoped the minister would give an equally good account.

The children, however, were quite satisfied with the postmaster's
letter and began preparations the very next morning to secure the doll
and her "fit out" as Beth called it. First, Beth's dolls were looked
at to see if one of them would do to take a trip into the country, but
although there were quite a number of them none seemed to just suit
their ideas of what Lucy's doll should be. So Mamma was appealed to
and in consequence a visit was paid to Partridge's store by Mrs. Page,
accompanied by Beth and Master Fred. Here such a bewildering array of
dolls was presented to the children that it was with difficulty they
finally decided upon one with blue eyes and short golden hair, and real
hair that curled bewitchingly. Then came the selection of the "fit
out." Freddie thought she should have skates and a watch and bracelets
and one of the cunning waterproof cloaks and a trunk--in fact,
everything that could be bought for a doll (and in these days that
means all articles of apparel, whether for use or ornament, that could
be bought for a real person); but Mrs. Page explained that she would
not need so many things in Mad River Village, so he was contented with
a trunk which he selected himself, while his mother and Beth bought
a little hat and cloak, shoes, stockings, and a pretty sunshade--the
dresses and underclothing Beth thought she could make with the aid of
her mother's seamstress, and she was very ambitious to try.

Freddie thought the "small boy" and the "baby" ought to have presents
sent to them also; so he was allowed to select a drum, which he was
sure the boy "would like best of anything," and a pretty rattle and a
rubber cow for the baby.

It was a very busy season of the year for the Pages as well as for
other people, and Beth had many presents to think about, but she kept
the little dresses and clothes for Lucy's doll in mind and worked and
planned with a will all the time she could spare for them, and Mary,
the seamstress, sewed and sewed, and as she knew how to cut dresses as
well as make them, in about two weeks they had, as Beth said, "a lovely
fit out," even to a tiny muff and collar made from some bits of fur
mamma had and a sweet little hood made just like Beth's own.

Then Miss Doll was dressed in her travelling suit, muff and all, her
other dresses and clothing packed in the little trunk, and she herself
carefully tucked in on top, then Beth shut the cover and locked it,
tying the key to one of the buckles of the side strap--a box had been
procured and into it was packed the trunk, the drum, and the presents
for the baby, supplemented by Freddie with a ball which he had found
among his own playthings and two cornucopias of candy which he had
purchased himself, saying that "Christmas won't be Christmas if they
don't have some candy." Mrs. Page "filled in the nooks and corners just
to steady the whole," as she modestly said, with a pair of strong warm
mittens for Mr. Tillage, some magazines and books, several pairs of
long thick stockings which Freddie had outgrown but not worn out, and
over the whole a beautiful warm shawl.

Then Beth and Fred composed a letter together which Beth wrote and they
both signed:

    DEAR LUCY TILLAGE:--The turkey brought the letter
    safely to us and we wanted to be Santa Claus ourselves
    and so send the doll and the other things for a
    Christmas present to you and your brother and the baby.

    We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

                                             BETH PAGE,
                                             FRED PAGE.

This they neatly folded, put in an envelope addressed to Miss Lucy
Tillage, Mad River Village, and placed on the shawl where it might be
seen the moment the box was opened. They felt very proud and happy when
the box was finally nailed up and directed in clear printed letters to

      Intervale Farm,
          Mad River Village,
               New Hampshire.

Freddie insisted that Lucy's name ought to be put on, too, as she was
the one who had written the letter and to whom the box was really
sent; so "For Lucy" was printed across one corner and underlined that
her father might see it was sent particularly to her. It all seemed
so mysterious, sending presents to people they did not know, and so
delightful, that they thought this the best Christmas they had ever
known and only wished that they could be in the little "black house"
when the box was opened, to see Lucy's face as she caught sight of the
cunning trunk and then the doll which she had so longed for.

The very day the box was sent on its way there came a letter from a
minister in the town in which Mad River Village was located, saying
that he "did not know any family of the name of Tillage, but upon
inquiry he had found that there was a family of that name living on the
other side of the river, but as they did not go to his church he was
not acquainted with them; he was sorry, etc., etc."

But the children cared little for this letter; their faith in Lucy was
not shaken, and they were very happy that they had answered her letter.


[20] From _Wideawake_, November, 1889. Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Company.



    A Kansas settler's recollections of an oldtime
    Thanksgiving in western Massachusetts. Older boys and
    girls will best appreciate the tender sentiment of the
    picture which Eugene Field has painted so vividly by
    his masterly use of homely dialect.

EZRA had written a letter to the home folks, and in it he had
complained that never before had he spent such a weary, lonesome day
as this Thanksgiving Day had been. Having finished this letter, he sat
for a long time gazing idly into the open fire that snapped cinders all
over the hearthstone and sent its red forks dancing up the chimney to
join the winds that frolicked and gambolled across the Kansas prairies
that raw November night. It had rained hard all day, and was cold; and
although the open fire made every honest effort to be cheerful, Ezra,
as he sat in front of it in the wooden rocker and looked down into
the glowing embers, experienced a dreadful feeling of loneliness and

"I'm sick o' Kansas," said Ezra to himself. "Here I've been in this
plaguey country for goin' on a year, and--yes, I'm sick of it, powerful
sick of it. What a miser'ble Thanksgivin' this has been! They don't
know what Thanksgivin' is out this way. I wish I was back in ol'
Mass'chusetts--that's the country for _me_, and they hev the kind o'
Thanksgivin' I like!"

Musing in this strain, while the rain went patter-patter on the
windowpanes, Ezra saw a strange sight in the fireplace--yes, right
among the embers and the crackling flames Ezra saw a strange, beautiful
picture unfold and spread itself out like a panorama.

"How very wonderful!" murmured the young man. Yet he did not take his
eyes away, for the picture soothed him and he loved to look upon it.

"It is a pictur' of long ago," said Ezra softly. "I had like to forgot
it, but now it comes back to me as nat'ral-like as an ol' friend. An' I
seem to be a part of it, an' the feelin' of that time comes back with
the pictur', too."

Ezra did not stir. His head rested upon his hand, and his eyes were
fixed upon the shadows in the firelight.

"It is a pictur' of the ol' home," said Ezra to himself. "I am back
there in Belchertown, with the Holyoke hills up north an' the Berkshire
Mountains a-loomin' up gray an' misty-like in the western horizon.
Seems as if it wuz early mornin'; everything is still, and it is so
cold when we boys crawl out o' bed that, if it wuzn't Thanksgivin'
mornin', we'd crawl back again an' wait for Mother to call us. But it
_is_ Thanksgivin' mornin', and we're goin' skatin' down on the pond.
The squealin' o' the pigs has told us it is five o'clock, and we must
hurry; we're goin' to call by for the Dickerson boys an' Hiram Peabody,
an' we've got to hyper! Brother Amos gets on about half o' my clothes,
and I get on 'bout half o' his, but it's all the same; they are stout,
warm clo'es, and they're big enough to fit any of us boys--Mother
looked out for that when she made 'em. When we go downstairs, we find
the girls there, all bundled up nice an' warm--Mary an' Helen an'
Cousin Irene. They're going with us, an' we all start out tiptoe and
quiet-like so's not to wake up the ol' folks. The ground is frozen
hard; we stub our toes on the frozen ruts in the road. When we come to
the minister's house, Laura is standin' on the front stoop a-waitin'
for us. Laura is the minister's daughter. She's a friend o' Sister
Helen's--pretty as a dagerr'otype, an' gentle-like and tender. Laura
lets me carry her skates, an' I'm glad of it, although I have my hands
full already with the lantern, the hockies, and the rest. Hiram Peabody
keeps us waitin', for he has overslept himself, an' when he comes
trottin' out at last the girls make fun of him--all except Sister Mary,
an' she sort o' sticks up for Hiram, an' we're all so 'cute we kind o'
calc'late we know the reason why.

"And now," said Ezra softly, "the pictur' changes: seems as if I could
see the pond. The ice is like a black lookin'-glass, and Hiram Peabody
slips up the first thing, an' down he comes, lickety-split, an' we all
laugh--except Sister Mary, an' _she_ says it is very imp'lite to laugh
at other folks' misfortunes. Ough! how cold it is, and how my fingers
ache with the frost when I take off my mittens to strap on Laura's
skates! But, oh, how my cheeks burn! And how careful I am not to hurt
Laura, an' how I ask her if that's 'tight enough,' an' how she tells
me 'jist a little tighter' and how we two keep foolin' along till the
others hev gone an' we are left alone! An' how quick I get my _own_
skates strapped on--none o' your new-fangled skates with springs an'
plates an' clamps an' such, but honest, ol'-fashioned wooden ones with
steel runners that curl up over my toes an' have a bright brass button
on the end! How I strap 'em and lash 'em and buckle 'em on! An' Laura
waits for me an' tells me to be sure to get 'em on tight enough--why,
bless me! after I once got 'em strapped on, if them skates hed come
off, the feet wud ha' come with 'em! An' now away we go--Laura and
me. Around the bend--near the medder where Si Barker's dog killed a
woodchuck last summer--we meet the rest. We forget all about the cold.
We run races an' play snap the whip, an' cut all sorts o' didoes, an'
we never mind the pick'rel weed that is froze in on the ice an' trips
us up every time we cut the outside edge; an' then we boys jump over
the air holes, an' the girls stan' by an' scream an' tell us they know
we're agoin' to drownd ourselves. So the hours go, an' it is sun-up
at last, an' Sister Helen says we must be gettin' home. When we take
our skates off, our feet feel as if they were wood. Laura has lost her
tippet; I lend her mine, and she kind o' blushes. The old pond seems
glad to have us go, and the fire-hangbird's nest in the willer tree
waves us good-bye. Laura promises to come over to our house in the
evenin', and so we break up.

"Seems now," continued Ezra musingly, "seems now as if I could see us
all at breakfast. The race on the pond has made us hungry, and Mother
says she never knew anybody else's boys that had such capac'ties as
hers. It is the Yankee Thanksgivin' breakfast--sausages an' fried
potatoes, an' buckwheat cakes, an' syrup--maple syrup, mind ye, for
Father has his own sugar bush, and there was a big run o' sap last
season. Mother says, 'Ezry an' Amos, won't you never get through
eatin'? We want to clear off the table, fer there's pies to make, and
nuts to crack, and laws sakes alive! The turkey's got to be stuffed
yet!' Then how we all fly around! Mother sends Helen up into the attic
to get a squash while Mary's makin' the pie crust. Amos an' I crack
the walnuts--they call 'em hickory nuts out in this pesky country of
sagebrush and pasture land. The walnuts are hard, and it's all we
can do to crack 'em. Ev'ry once'n a while one on 'em slips outer our
fingers and goes dancin' over the floor or flies into the pan Helen is
squeezin' pumpkin into through the col'nder. Helen says we're shif'less
an' good for nothin' but frivolin'; but Mother tells us how to crack
the walnuts so's not to let 'em fly all over the room, an' so's not to
be all jammed to pieces like the walnuts was down at the party at the
Peasleys' last winter. An' now here comes Tryphena Foster, with her
gingham gown an' muslin apron on; her folks have gone up to Amherst
for Thanksgivin', an' Tryphena has come over to help our folks get
dinner. She thinks a great deal o' Mother, 'cause Mother teaches her
Sunday-school class an' says Tryphena oughter marry a missionary. There
is bustle everywhere, the rattle uv pans an' the clatter of dishes; an'
the new kitchen stove begins to warm up an' git red, till Helen loses
her wits and is flustered, an' sez she never could git the hang o' that
stove's dampers.

"An' now," murmured Ezra gently, as a tone of deeper reverence crept
into his voice, "I can see Father sittin' all by himself in the
parlour. Father's hair is very gray, and there are wrinkles on his
honest old face. He is lookin' through the winder at the Holyoke
hills over yonder, and I can guess he's thinkin' of the time when he
wuz a boy like me an' Amos, an' uster climb over them hills an' kill
rattlesnakes an' hunt partridges. Or doesn't his eyes quite reach the
Holyoke hills? Do they fall kind o' lovingly but sadly on the little
buryin' ground jest beyond the village? Ah, Father knows that spot,
an' he loves it, too, for there are treasures there whose memory he
wouldn't swap for all the world could give. So, while there is a kind
o' mist in Father's eyes, I can see he is dreamin'-like of sweet an'
tender things, and a-communin' with memory--hearin' voices I never
heard, an' feelin' the tech of hands I never pressed; an' seein'
Father's peaceful face I find it hard to think of a Thanksgivin'
sweeter than Father's is.

"The pictur' in the firelight changes now," said Ezra, "an' seems as if
I wuz in the old frame meetin'-house. The meetin'-house is on the hill,
and meetin' begins at half-pas' ten. Our pew is well up in front--seems
as if I could see it now. It has a long red cushion on the seat, and
in the hymn-book rack there is a Bible an' a couple of Psalmodies. We
walk up the aisle slow, and Mother goes in first; then comes Mary,
then me, then Helen, then Amos, and then Father. Father thinks it is
jest as well to have one o' the girls set in between me an' Amos. The
meetin'-house is full, for everybody goes to meetin' Thanksgivin' Day.
The minister reads the proclamation an' makes a prayer, an' then he
gives out a psalm, an' we all stan' up an' turn 'round an' join the
choir. Sam Merritt has come up from Palmer to spend Thanksgivin' with
the ol' folks, an' he is singin' tenor to-day in his ol' place in the
choir. Some folks say he sings wonderful well, but _I_ don't like Sam's
voice. Laura sings soprano in the choir, and Sam stands next to her an'
holds the book.

"Seems as if I could hear the minister's voice, full of earnestness an'
melody, comin' from way up in his little round pulpit. He is tellin' us
why we should be thankful, an', as he quotes Scriptur' an' Dr. Watts,
we boys wonder how anybody can remember so much of the Bible. Then I
get nervous and worried. Seems to me the minister was never comin' to
lastly, and I find myself wonderin' whether Laura is listenin' to what
the preachin' is about, or is writin' notes to Sam Merritt in the back
of the tune book. I get thirsty, too, and I fidget about till Father
looks at me, and Mother nudges Helen, and Helen passes it along to me
with interest.

"An' then," continues Ezra in his revery, "when the last hymn is given
out an' we stan' up agin an' join the choir, I am glad to see that
Laura is singin' outer the book with Miss Hubbard, the alto. An' goin'
out o' meetin' I kind of edge up to Laura and ask her if I kin have the
pleasure of seein' her home.

"An' now we boys all go out on the Common to play ball. The Enfield
boys have come over, and, as all the Hampshire county folks know, they
are tough fellers to beat. Gorham Polly keeps tally, because he has got
the newest jackknife--oh, how slick it whittles the old broom handle
Gorham picked up in Packard's store an' brought along jest to keep
tally on! It is a great game of ball; the bats are broad and light,
and the ball is small and soft. But the Enfield boys beat us at last;
leastwise they make 70 tallies to our 58, when Heman Fitts knocks the
ball over into Aunt Dorcas Eastman's yard, and Aunt Dorcas comes out
an' picks up the ball an' takes it into the house, an' we have to stop
playin'. Then Phineas Owen allows he can flop any boy in Belchertown,
an' Moses Baker takes him up, an' they wrassle like two tartars, till
at last Moses tuckers Phineas out an' downs him as slick as a whistle.

"Then we all go home, for Thanksgivin' dinner is ready. Two long tables
have been made into one, and one of the big tablecloths Gran'ma had
when she set up housekeepin' is spread over 'em both. We all set
round--Father, Mother, Aunt Lydia Holbrook, Uncle Jason, Mary, Helen,
Tryphena Foster, Amos, and me. How big an' brown the turkey is, and how
good it smells! There are bounteous dishes of mashed potato, turnip,
an' squash, and the celery is very white and cold, the biscuits are
light and hot, and the stewed cranberries are red as Laura's cheeks.
Amos and I get the drumsticks; Mary wants the wishbone to put over the
door for Hiram, but Helen gets it. Poor Mary, she always _did_ have to
give up to 'rushin' Helen,' as we call her. The pies--oh, what pies
Mother makes; no dyspepsia in 'em, but good nature an' good health
an' hospitality! Pumpkin pies, mince, an' apple, too, and then a big
dish of pippins an' russets an' bellflowers, an', last of all, walnuts
with cider from the Zebrina Dickerson farm! I tell ye, there's a
Thanksgivin' dinner for ye! that's what we get in old Belchertown; an'
that's the kind of livin' that makes the Yankees so all-fired good an'

"But the best of all," said Ezra very softly to himself, "oh, yes, the
best scene in all the pictur' is when evenin' comes, when all the lamps
are lit in the parlour, when the neighbours come in, and when there is
music and singing an' games. An' it's this part o' the pictur' that
makes me homesick now and fills my heart with a longin' I never had
before; an' yet it sort o' mellows and comforts me, too. Miss Serena
Cadwell, whose beau was killed in the war, plays on the melodeon, and
we all sing--all on us: men, womenfolks, an' children. Sam Merritt is
there, and he sings a tenor song about love. The women sort of whisper
round that he's goin' to be married to a Palmer lady nex' spring, an' I
think to myself I never heard better singin' than Sam's. Then we play
games--proverbs, buzz, clap-in-clap-out, copenhagen, fox-an'-geese,
button-button-who's-got-the-button, spin-the-platter, go-to-Jerusalem,
my-ship's-come-in; and all the rest. The ol' folks play with the young
folks just as nat'ral as can be; and we all laugh when Deacon Hosea
Cowles hez to measure six yards of love ribbon with Miss Hepsey Newton,
and cut each yard with a kiss; for the deacon hez been sort o' purrin'
round Miss Hepsey for goin' on two years. Then, aft'r a while, when
Mary and Helen bring in the cookies, nutcakes, cider, an' apples,
Mother says: 'I don't believe we're goin' to hev enough apples to go
round; Ezry, I guess I'll have to get you to go down cellar for some
more.' Then I says: 'All right, Mother, I'll go, providin' some one'll
go along an' hold the candle.' An' when I say this I look right at
Laura, an' she blushes. Then Helen, jest for meanness, says: 'Ezry, I
s'pose you ain't willin' to have your fav'rite sister go down cellar
with you and catch her death o' cold?' But Mary, who hez been showin'
Hiram Peabody the phot'graph album for more'n an hour, comes to the
rescue an' makes Laura take the candle, and she shows Laura how to hold
it so it won't go out.

"The cellar is warm an' dark. There are cobwebs all between the rafters
an' everywhere else except on the shelves where Mother keeps the
butter an' eggs an' other things that would freeze in the butt'ry
upstairs. The apples are in bar'ls up against the wall, near the
potater bin. How fresh an' sweet they smell! Laura thinks she sees a
mouse, an' she trembles an' wants to jump up on the pork bar'l, but I
tell her that there shan't no mouse hurt her while I'm around; and I
mean it, too, for the sight of Laura a-tremblin' makes me as strong
as one of Father's steers. 'What kind of apples do you like best,
Ezry?' asks Laura, 'russets or greenin's or crow-eggs or bellflowers
or Baldwins or pippins?' 'I like the Baldwins best,' says I, ''coz
they got red cheeks just like yours.' 'Why, Ezry Thompson! how you
talk!' says Laura. 'You oughter be ashamed of yourself!' But when I
get the dish filled up with apples there ain't a Baldwin in all the
lot that can compare with the bright red of Laura's cheeks. An' Laura
knows it, too, an' she sees the mouse again, an' screams, and then the
candle goes out, and we are in a dreadful stew. But I, bein' almost
a man, contrive to bear up under it, and knowin' she is an orph'n, I
comfort an' encourage Laura the best I know how, and we are almost
upstairs when Mother comes to the door and wants to know what has kep'
us so long. Jest as if Mother doesn't know! Of course she does; an'
when Mother kisses Laura good-bye that night there is in the act a
tenderness that speaks more sweetly than even Mother's words.

"It is so like Mother," mused Ezra; "so like her with her gentleness
an' clingin' love. Hers is the sweetest picture of all, and hers the
best love."

Dream on, Ezra; dream of the old home with its dear ones, its holy
influences, and its precious inspiration!--Mother. Dream on in the
faraway firelight; and as the angel hand of memory unfolds these sacred
visions, with thee and them shall abide, like a Divine Comforter, the
spirit of Thanksgiving.


[21] From "A Little Book of Profitable Tales," copyright, 1889,
published by Charles Scribner's Sons.



    Chip had plenty of nuts on Thanksgiving Day. The little
    lady called Heart's Delight saw to that. Can you guess
    who Chip was?

THEY had got "way through," as Terry said, to the nuts. It had been
a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner "so far." Grandmother's sweet face
beamed down the length of the great table, over all the little crinkly
grandheads, at grandfather's face. Everybody felt very thankful.

"I wish all the children this side o' the north pole had had some
turkey, too, and squash and cram'bry--and things," said Silence
quietly. Silence was always wishing beautiful things like that.

"An' some nuts," added Terry, setting his small white teeth into the
meat of a big fat walnut. "It wouldn't seem Thanksgivingy 'thout nuts."

"I know somebody who would be thankful with just nuts," smiled
grandfather. "Indeed, I think he'd rather have them for all the courses
of his Thanksgiving dinner!"

"Just nuts! No turkey, nor puddin', nor anything?"

The crinkly grandheads all bobbed up from their plates and nut-pickers
in amazement. Just nuts!

"Yes. Guess who he is?" Grandfather's laughing eyes twinkled up the
long table at grandmother.

"I'll give you three guesses apiece, beginning with Heart's Delight.
Guess number one, Heart's Delight."

"Chip," gravely. Heart's Delight had guessed it the very first guess.

"Chip!" laughed all the little grand girls and boys. Why, of course!
Chip! He would rather have just nuts for Thanksgiving dinner!

"I wish he had some o' mine!" cried Silence.

"An' mine!" cried Terry; and all the others wished he had some of
theirs. What a Thanksgiving dinner little Chip would have had!

"He's got plenty, thank you." It was the shy little voice of Heart's
Delight. A soft pink colour had come into her round cheeks. Everybody
looked at her inquiringly, for how did Heart's Delight know Chip had
plenty of nuts? Then Terry remembered something.

"Oh, that's where her nuts went to!" he cried. "Heart's Delight gave
'em to Chip! We couldn't think what she'd done with 'em all."

The pink colour was growing pinker--very pink indeed.

"Yes, that's where," said Silence, leaning over to squeeze one of
Heart's Delight's little hands. And sure enough, it was. In the
beautiful nut month of October, when the children went after their
winter's supply of nuts, little Heart's Delight had left all her
little rounded heap just where bright-eyed, nut-loving squirrel Chip
would be sure to find them and hurry them away to his winter hole. And
Chip had found them, she was sure, for not one was left when she went
back to see, the next day.

"Why, maybe this very minute--right now--Chip's cracking his
Thanksgiving dinner!" Terry laughed.

"Same as we are! Maybe he's got to the nut cour--oh, they're all nut
courses! But maybe he's sittin' up to his table with the rest of the
folks, thanksgiving to Heart's Delight," Silence said.

Heart's Delight's little shy face nearly hid itself over her plate.
This was dreadful! It was necessary to change the subject at once, and
a dear little thought came to her aid.

"But I'm afraid he hasn't got any gran'father and gran'mother to his
Thanksgiving," she said softly. "I shouldn't think anybody could
thanksgive 'thout a gran'mother and gran'father."


[22] From the _Youth's Companion_, November 26, 1903.



    A good old-fashioned story for the older boys and girls
    to read on the Sunday before Thanksgiving Day.

THE Master of the Harvest walked by the side of his cornfields in the
early year, and a cloud was over his face, for there had been no rain
for several weeks, and the earth was hard from the parching of the cold
east winds, and the young wheat had not been able to spring up.

So, as he looked over the long ridges that lay stretched in rows before
him, he was vexed, and began to grumble, and say, "The harvest would be
backward, and all things would go wrong." At the mere thought of which
he frowned more and more, and uttered words of complaint against the
heavens, because there was no rain; against the earth, because it was
so dry and unyielding; against the corn, because it had not sprung up.

And the man's discontent was whispered all over the field, and all
along the long ridges where the corn seeds lay; and when it reached
them they murmured out, "How cruel to complain! Are we not doing our
best? Have we let one drop of moisture pass by unused, one moment of
warmth come to us in vain? Have we not seized on every chance, and
striven every day to be ready for the hour of breaking forth? Are we
idle? Are we obstinate? Are we indifferent? Shall we not be found
waiting and watching? How cruel to complain!"

Of all this, however, the Master of the Harvest heard nothing, so the
gloom did not pass away from his face. On the contrary, he took it
with him into his comfortable home, and repeated to his wife the dark
words that all things were going wrong; that the drought would ruin the
harvest, for the corn was not yet sprung.

And still thinking thus, he laid his head on his pillow, and presently
fell asleep.

But his wife sat up for a while by the bedside, and opened her Bible,
and read, "The harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are the

Then she wrote this text in pencil on the flyleaf at the end of the
book, and after it the date of the day, and after the date the words,
"Lord, the husbandman, Thou waitest for the precious fruit Thou hast
sown, and hast long patience for it! Amen, O Lord, Amen!"

After which the good woman knelt down to pray, and as she prayed she
wept, for she knew that she was very ill.

But what she prayed that night was heard only in heaven.

And so a few days passed on as before, and the house was gloomy with
the discontent of its master; but at last one evening the wind
changed, the sky became heavy with clouds, and before midnight there
was rain all over the land; and when the Master of the Harvest came in
next morning, wet from his early walk by the cornfields, he said it was
well it had come at last, and that, at last, the corn had sprung up.

On which his wife looked at him with a smile, and said, "How often
things came right, about which one had been anxious and disturbed."
To which her husband made no answer, but turned away and spoke of
something else.

Meantime, the corn seeds had been found ready and waiting when the
hour came, and the young sprouts burst out at once; and very soon all
along the long ridges were to be seen rows of tender blades, tinting
the whole field with a delicate green. And day by day the Master of the
Harvest saw them and was satisfied; but because he was satisfied, and
his anxiety was gone, he spoke of other things, and forgot to rejoice.

And a murmur arose among them: "Should not the Master have welcomed
us to life? He was angry but lately, because the seed he had sown had
not yet brought forth; now that it has brought forth, why is he not
glad? What more does he want? Have we not done our best? Are we not
doing it minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day? From the morning
and evening dews, from the glow of the midday sun, from the juices of
the earth, from the breezes which freshen the air, even from clouds
and rain, are we not taking in food and strength, warmth and life,
refreshment and joy; so that one day the valleys may laugh and sing,
because the good seed hath brought forth abundantly? Why does he not

As before, however, of all they said the Master of the Harvest heard
nothing; and it never struck him to think of the young corn blades'
struggling life. Nay, once, when his wife asked him if the wheat was
doing well, he answered, "Very fairly," and nothing more. But she then,
because the evening was fine and the fairer weather had revived her
failing powers, said she would walk out by the cornfields herself.

And so it came to pass that they went out together. And together they
looked all along the long green ridges of wheat, and watched the blades
as they quivered and glistened in the breeze which sprang up with the
setting sun. Together they walked, together they looked; looking at the
same things and with the same human eyes; even as they had walked, and
looked, and lived together for years, but with a world dividing their
hearts; and what was ever to unite them?

Even then, as they moved along, she murmured half aloud, half to
herself, thinking of the anxiety that had passed away: "Thou visitest
the earth, and blessest it; thou makest it very plenteous."

To which he answered, if answer it may be called, "Why are you always
so gloomy? Why should Scripture be quoted about such common things?"

And she looked in his face and smiled, but did not speak; and he could
not read the smile, for the life of her heart was as hidden to him as
the life of the corn blades in the field.

And so they went home together, no more being said by either; for, as
she turned round, the sight of the setting sun and of the young freshly
growing wheat blades brought tears into her eyes.

_She_ might never see the harvest upon earth again; for her that other
was at hand, whereof the reapers were to be angels.

And when she opened her Bible that night she wrote on the flyleaf the
text she had quoted to her husband, and after the text the date of the
day, and after the date the words, "Bless me, even me also, oh, my
Father, that I may bring forth fruit with patience!"

Very peaceful were the next few weeks that followed, for all nature
seemed to rejoice in the weather, and the corn blades shot up till they
were nearly two feet high, and about them the Master of the Harvest had
no complaints to make.

But at the end of that time, behold, the earth began to be hard and
dry again, for once more rain was wanted; and by degrees the growing
plants failed for want of moisture and nourishment, and lost power and
colour, and became weak and yellow in hue. And once more the husbandmen
began to fear and tremble, and once more the brow of the Master of the
Harvest was overclouded with angry apprehension.

And as the man got more and more anxious about the fate of his crops,
he grew more and more irritable and distrustful, and railed as before,
only louder now, against the heavens because there was no rain; against
the earth because it lacked moisture; against the corn plants because
they had waxed feeble.

Nay, once, when his sick wife reproved him gently, praying him to
remember how his fears had been turned to joy before, he reproached her
in his turn for sitting in the house and pretending to judge of what
she could know nothing about, and bade her come out and see for herself
how all things were working together for ill.

And although he spoke it in bitter jest, and she was very ill, she said
she would go, and went.

So once more they walked out together, and once more looked over the
cornfields; but when he stretched out his arm and pointed to the long
ridges of blades, and she saw them shrunken and faded in hue, her heart
was grieved within her, and she turned aside and wept over them.

Nevertheless, she said she durst not cease from hope, since an hour
might renew the face of the earth, if God so willed; neither should she
dare to complain, _even the harvest were to fail_. At which words the
Master of the Harvest stopped short, amazed, to look at his wife, for
her soul was growing stronger as her body grew weaker, and she dared to
say things now which she would have had no courage to utter before.

But of all this he knew nothing, and what he thought, as he listened,
was that she was as weak in mind as in body; and what he said was that
a man must be an idiot who would not complain when he saw the bread
taken from under his very eyes!

And his murmurings and her tears sent a shudder all along the long
ridges of sickly corn blades, and they asked one of another, "Why does
he murmur? and, Why does she weep? Are we not doing all we can? Do we
slumber or sleep, and let opportunities pass by unused? Are we not
watching and waiting against the times of refreshing? Shall we not
be found ready at last? Why does he murmur? and, Why does she weep?
Is she, too, fading and waiting? Has she, too, a master who has lost

Meantime, when she opened her Bible that night, she wrote on the
flyleaf the text, "Wherefore should a man complain, a man for the
punishment of his sins?" and after the text the date of the day, and
after the date the words, "Thou dost turn Thy face from us, and we are
troubled; but, Lord, how long, how long?"

And by and by came on the long-delayed times of refreshing, but so
slowly and imperfectly that the change in the corn could scarcely
be detected for a while. Nevertheless, it told at last, and stems
struggled up among the blades, and burst forth into flowers, which
gradually ripened into ears of grain. But a struggle it had been, and
continued to be, for the measure of moisture was scant, and the due
amount of warmth in the air was wanting. Nevertheless, by struggling
and effort the young wheat advanced, little by little, in growth;
preparing itself, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, as best
it could, for the great day of the harvest. As best it could! Would the
Master of the Harvest ask more? Alas! he had still something to find
fault with, for when he looked at the ears and saw that they were small
and poor, he grumbled, and said the yield would be less than it ought
to be, and the harvest would be bad.

And as more weeks went on, and the same weather continued, and the
progress was very, very slow, he spoke out of his vexation to his wife
at home, to his friends at the market, and to the husbandmen who passed
by and talked with him about the crops.

And the voice of his discontent was breathed over the cornfield, all
along the long ridges where the plants were labouring, and waiting, and
watching. And they shuddered and murmured: "How cruel to complain! Had
we been idle, had we been negligent, had we been indifferent, we might
have passed away without bearing fruit at all. How cruel to complain!"

But of all this the Master of the Harvest heard nothing, so he did not
cease to complain.

Meantime, another week or two went on, and people as they glanced over
the land wished that a few good rainy days would come and do their work
decidedly, so that the corn ears might fill. And behold, while the wish
was yet on their lips, the sky became charged with clouds, darkness
spread over the country, a wild wind rose, and the growling of thunder
announced a storm. And such a storm! People hid from it in cellars and
closets and dark corners, as if now, for the first time, they believed
in a God, and were trembling at the new-found fact; as if they could
never discover Him in His sunshine and blessings, but only thus in His
tempests and wrath.

And all along the long ridges of wheat plants drove the rain-laden
blast, and they bent down before it and rose up again, like the waves
of a labouring sea. Ears over ears they bowed down; ears above ears
they rose up. They bowed down as if they knew that to resist was
destruction; they rose up as if they had a hope beyond the storm. Only
here and there, where the whirlwinds were the strongest, they fell down
and could not lift themselves again. So the damage done was but little,
and the general good was great. But when the Master of the Harvest
saw here and there patches of overweighted corn yet dripping from the
thunder showers, he grew angry for them, and forgot to think of the
long ridges that stretched over his fields, where the corn ears were
swelling and rejoicing.

And he came in gloomy to his home, when his wife was hoping that now,
at last, all would be well; and when she looked at him the tumult of
her soul grew beyond control, and she knelt down before him as he sat
moody in his chair, and threw her arms round him, and cried out: "It is
of the Lord's mercies that we are not utterly consumed. Oh, husband!
pray for the corn and for me, that it may go well with us at the last!
Carry me upstairs!" And his anger was checked by fear, and he carried
her upstairs and laid her on the bed, and said it must be the storm
which had shaken her nerves. But whether he prayed for either the corn
or her that night she never knew.

And presently came a new distress: for when the days of rain had
accomplished their gracious work, and every one was satisfied, behold,
they did not cease. And as hitherto the cry had gone up for water on
the furrows, so now men's hearts failed them for fear lest it should
continue to overflowing, and lest mildew should set in upon the full,
rich ears, and the glorious crops should be lost.

And the Master of the Harvest walked out by his cornfields, his face
darker than ever. And he railed against the rain because it would not
cease; against the sun because it would not shine; against the wheat
because it might perish before the harvest.

"But why does he always and only complain?" moaned the corn plants, as
the new terror was breathed over the field. "Have we not done our best
from the first? And has not mercy been with us, sooner or later, all
along? When moisture was scant, and we throve but little, why did he
not rejoice over that little, and wait, as we did, for more? Now that
abundance has come, and we swell triumphant in strength and in hope,
why does he not share our joy in the present, and wait in trust, as
we do, for the future ripening change? Why does he always complain?
Has he himself some hard master, who would fain reap where he has not
sown, and gather where he has not strewed, and who has no pity for his
servants who strive?"

But of all this the Master of the Harvest heard nothing. And when the
days of rain had rolled into weeks and the weeks into months, and the
autumn set in, and the corn still stood up green in the ridges, as if
it never meant to ripen at all, the boldest and most hopeful became
uneasy, and the Master of the Harvest despaired.

But his wife had risen no more from her bed, where she lay in sickness
and suffering, yet in patient trust, watching the sky through the
window that faced her pillow, looking for the relief that came at last.
For even at the eleventh hour, when hope seemed almost over, and men
had half learned to submit to their expected trial, the dark days began
to be varied by a few hours of sunshine; and though these passed away,
and the gloom and rain returned again, yet they also passed away in
their turn, and the sun shone out once more.

And the poor sick wife, as she watched, said to those around her that
the weather was gradually changing, and that all would come right at
last; and sighing a prayer that it might be so with herself also, she
had her Bible brought to the bed, and wrote in the flyleaf the text,
"Some thirty, some sixty, some an hundredfold"; and after the text the
date of the day, for on that day the sun had been shining steadily for
many hours. And after the date the words, "Unto whom much is given,
of him shall much be required; yet if Thou, Lord, be extreme to mark
iniquity, O Lord, who may stand?"

And day by day, the hours of sunshine were more in number, and the
hours of rain and darkness fewer, and by degrees the green corn ears
ripened into yellow, and the yellow turned into gold, and the harvest
was ready, and the labourers not wanting. And the bursting corn broke
out into songs of rejoicing, and cried, "At least we have not waited
and watched in vain! Surely goodness and mercy have followed us all the
days of our life, and we are crowned with glory and honour. Where is
the Master of the Harvest, that he may claim his own with joy?"

But the Master of the Harvest was bending over the bed of his dying

And she whispered that her Bible should be brought, and he brought
it, and she said, "Open it at the flyleaf at the end, and write, 'It
is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in
dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised
in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body!'"
And she bade him add the date of the day, and after the date of the
day, the words, "O Lord, in Thy mercy say of me--She hath done what she
could!" And then she laid her hand in his, and so fell asleep in hope.

And the harvest of the earth was gathered into barns, and the
gathering-day of rejoicing was over, and the Master of it all sat alone
by his fireside, with his wife's Bible on his knee. And he read the
texts and the dates and the prayers, from the first day when the corn
seeds were held back by drought; and as he read a new heart seemed to
burst out within him from the old one--a heart which the Lord of the
other Harvest was making soft, and the springing whereof He would bless.

And henceforth, in his going out and coming in from watching the fruits
of the earth, the texts and the dates and the prayers were ever present
in his mind, often rising to his lips; and he murmured and complained
no more, let the seasons be what they would and his fears however
great; for the thought of the late-sprung seed in his own dry cold
heart, and of the long suffering of Him who was Lord and Master of all,
was with him night and day. And more and more as he prayed for help,
that the weary struggle might be blessed, and the newborn watching and
waiting not be in vain, so more and more there came over his spirit a
yearning for that other harvest, where he and she who had gone before
might be gathered in together.

And thus--in one hope of their calling--the long-divided hearts were
united at last.


[23] From "Parables from Nature."



    Ministers' sons, somehow, have a bad reputation.
    Little Johnnie was one and he thought it pretty hard
    to have to go to church on Thanksgiving Day. But the
    pink-frosted cakes----

"OH, DEAR!" puffed a certain little boy one bright Thanksgiving
morning, as he jerked his chubby neck into the stiffest of white
collars. "Great fun, isn't it, having to sit up in meeting for a couple
of hours straight as a telegraph pole when I might be playing football
and beating the Haddam team all to hollow! This is what comes of your
pa's being the minister, I s'pose."

But Johnnie, for that was his name, continued his dressing, the ten
years of his young life having taught him how useless it is to make a
fuss over what has to be done.

In a few minutes he had finished, and was quite satisfied with his
appearance, but for his shoes. These he eyed for a moment, and
concluding that they would not pass inspection, started for the
woodshed to give them a shine.

On his way he passed the open dining-room door, and suddenly halted.
"Oh! Why can't I have a nice little lunch during sermon time?"

He took a step back and peeped slyly into the room; then stole across
to the old-fashioned cupboard, stealthily opening the doors, and such
an array of good things you never beheld! Sally was the best cook in
Brockton any day, but on Thanksgiving she could work wonders.

He looked with longing eyes from one dish to another. Now the big pies
were out of the question, and the cranberry tarts--he felt of them
lovingly--but no, they were altogether too sticky. He stood on tiptoe
to see what was on the second shelf. To his delight he found a platter
filled with just the daintiest little pink-frosted cakes you ever saw.

"O-oo, thimble cakes!" he exclaimed. "You are just the fellows I want!
I'll take you along to church with me." He cast one quick glance
around, then grabbed a handful of the tiny cakes and crammed them into
his trousers' pocket.

"Lucky for me ma isn't going to meeting to-day," chuckled the naughty
boy, "and I don't believe grandma'd ever tell on me if I carried along
the turkey!"

The early bell had now begun to ring, and Johnnie started for the
village church.

"Come, my son," said Doctor Goodwin, as they entered the meeting-house,
"you are to sit in the front seat with grandma this morning: she is
particularly anxious to hear every word of the sermon to-day. And
where's your contribution, boy? You haven't forgotten that?"

"No, sir," meekly answered Johnnie, "it's tied up in my handkerchief."
But his heart sank--the front seat! How ever was his lunch to come in

The opening hymn had been sung, the prayer of thanksgiving offered, and
now, as the collection was about to be taken, the pastor begged his
people to be especially generous to the poor on this day.

Up in the front pew sat Johnnie, but never a word of the notice did he
hear, so busy was he planning out his own little affair. It wasn't such
easy planning either, just supposing he got caught!

But what was that? Johnnie jumped as if he had been struck. However,
it was nothing but the money plate under his nose, and the good Deacon
Simms standing calmly by.

To the guilty boy it seemed as if the deacon must have been waiting for
ten minutes at the least, and in a great flurry he began to fumble for
his handkerchief. What _had_ he done with it? Oh, there it was at last,
way down in the depths of his right trousers' pocket.

He caught hold of the knotted corner, and out came the handkerchief
with a whisk and a flourish, and scatter, rattle, helter-skelter, out
flew a half-dozen pink thimble cakes, down upon the floor, back into
Mrs. Smiley's pew, and to Johnnie's horror one pat into the deacon's

The good man's eyes tried not to twinkle as he removed the unusual
offering, and passed on more quickly than was his wont.

Miserable Johnnie, with his face as red as a rooster's comb and eyes
cast down in shame, saw nothing but the green squares on the carpet
and the dreadful pink-frosted cakes. He was sure that every one in the
church was glaring at him; probably even grandma had forsaken him, and
each moment he dreaded--he knew not what.

To his surprise, the service seemed to go right on as usual. Another
hymn was sung, and then there was a general settling down for the
sermon. Very soon he began to grow tired of just gazing at the floor,
yet he dared not look up, and by and by the heavy eyes drooped and
Johnny was fast asleep.

All was now quiet in the meeting-house save the calm, steady voice of
the preacher. Pretty soon a wee creature dressed all in soft brown
stole across the floor of a certain pew. She was a courageous little
body indeed, but what mother would not venture a good deal for her
hungry babies? Such a repast as this was certainly the opportunity of
a lifetime. Looking cautiously around, then concluding that all was
safe, she disappeared down a hole in a corner way under the seat. In a
twinkling she was back again; this time, however, she was not alone.
Four little ones pattered after Mamma Mouse, and eight bright eyes
spied a dinner worth running for.

Never mind what they did; but when Johnnie awoke at the strains of the
closing hymn and tried to remember what had gone wrong, he saw nothing
of the pink-frosted cakes save some scattered crumbs.

What could have become of them, he thought, in bewilderment.

He hardly knew how he got out of the church that day, but he found
himself rushing down the road a sadder and a wiser boy. Grandma and
papa had remained to chat. Johnnie did not feel like chatting to-day.

When he reached the house he did not go in, but out to the hayloft,
his favourite resort in time of trouble. When the dinner bell sounded,
notwithstanding the delicious Thanksgiving odours which had been wafted
even to the barn, it was an unwelcome summons; yet go he must, and
walking sheepishly into the dining-room, he slunk into his chair.

"Well, John," said his father, as he helped him to turkey, "I
understand that you did not forget the poor to-day. Eh, my son?"

"The poor?" What could he mean? Johnnie was too puzzled to speak.

Then his father went on to tell how little Mrs. Mouse and her babies
had nibbled a wondrous dinner of pink thimble cakes on the floor of pew
number one while Johnnie slept. Grandma and Mrs. Smiley had told him
all about it on the way home; besides, he had seen enough himself from
the pulpit.

Johnny bravely bore the laugh at his expense, and as the merriment died
away heaved a deep sigh of relief, and exclaimed, "Well, I'm glad
somebody had a feast, even if it wasn't the fellow 'twas meant for!
Humph, _'twas_ quite a setup for poor church mice, wasn't it? But they
needn't be looking for another next year. You don't catch me trying
that again--no-sir-ee!"


[24] From the _Youth's Companion_, November 29, 1900.



    Walter's two grandfathers were a pair of jolly chums,
    _as boys_. There is plenty of humour in this tale of a
    turkey hunt.

"DAY after to-morrow will be Thanksgiving," said Walter, taking his
seat beside Grandpa Davis on the top step of the front gallery.

"And no turkey for dinner, neither," retorted Grandma Davis, while her
bright steel needles clicked in and out of the sock she was knitting.

The old man was smoking his evening pipe, and sat for a moment with his
eyes fixed meditatively upon the blue hills massed in the distance.

"Have we got so pore as all that, Mother?" he asked, after a while,
glancing over his shoulder at his wife, who was rocking to and fro just
back of him.

"I'm obleeged to own to the truth," answered the old lady dejectedly.
"What with the wild varmints in the woods and one thing an' another,
I'm about cleaned out of all the poultry I ever had. It's downright

"Well, then," asserted Grandpa Davis, with an unmirthful chuckle, "it
don't appear to me as we've got so powerful much to be thankful about
this year."

"Why, Grandpa!" cried Walter, in shocked surprise, "I never did hear
you talk like that before."

"Never had so much call to do it, mebbe," interposed the old man

The last rays of the setting sun touched the two silvered heads, and
rested there like a benediction, before disappearing below the horizon.

Silence had fallen upon the little group, and a bullfrog down in the
fishpond was croaking dismally.

"Why don't you go hunting, and try to kill you a turkey for
Thanksgiving?" ventured Walter, slipping his arm insinuatingly through
his grandfather's. "I saw a great big flock of wild ones down on the
branch last week, and I got right close up to them before they flew."

"I reckon there ought to be a smart sight of game round and about them
cane brakes along that branch," said the old man slowly, as though
thinking aloud. "It used to be ahead of any strip of woods in all these
parts, when me and Dick was boys. But nobody ain't hunted there, to my
knowledge, not sence me and him fell out."

"I wish you and Grandpa Dun were friends," sighed Walter. "It does
seem too bad to have two grandpas living right side by side, and not

"I ain't got no ill-will in my heart for Dick," replied Grandpa Davis,
"but he is too everlastin' hard-headed to knock under, and I'll be
blamed if I go more'n halfway toward makin' up."

"That's just exactly what Grandpa Dun says about you," Walter assured
him very earnestly.

"Wouldn't wonder if he did," said the old man pointedly. "Dick is
always ben a mighty hand to talk, and he'd drap dead in his tracks if
he couldn't get in the last word."

Be this as it might, the breach had begun when the Davis cattle broke
down the worm fence and demolished the Dun crop of corn, and it
widened when the Dun hogs found their way through an old water gap and
rooted up a field of the Davis sweet potatoes. Several times similar
depredations were repeated, and then shotguns were used on both sides
with telling effect. The climax was reached when John Dun eloped with
Rebecca, the only child of the Davises.

The young couple were forbidden their respective homes, though the farm
they rented was scarce half a mile away, and the weeks rolled into
months without sign of their parents relenting.

When Walter was born, however, the two grandmothers stole over, without
their husbands' knowledge, and mingled their tears in happy communion
over the tiny blue-eyed mite.

It was a memorable day at each of the houses when the sturdy little
fellow made his way, unbidden and unattended, to pay his first call,
and ever afterward (though they would not admit it, even to themselves)
the grandfathers watched for his coming, and vied with each other in
trying to win the highest place in his young affections.

He had inherited characteristics of each of his grandsires, and
possessed the bold, masterful manner which was common to them both.
"Say, Grandpa," he urged, "go hunting to-morrow and try to kill a
turkey for Thanksgiving, won't you? I know grandma would feel better to
have one, and if you make a cane caller, like papa does, I'll bet you
can get a shot at one sure."

The old man did not commit himself about going, but when Walter saw
him surreptitiously take down his gun from the pegs on the wall across
which it had lain for so many years, and begin to rub the barrels and
oil the hammers, he went home satisfied that he had scored another

Perhaps nothing less than his grandson's pleading could have induced
Grandpa Davis to visit again the old hunting-ground which had been so
dear to him in bygone days, which was so rich in hallowed memories. It
seemed almost a desecration of the happy past to hunt there now alone.

The first cold streaks of dawn were just stealing into the sky the
next morning when, accoutred with shot-pouch, powder-flask, and his
old double-barrelled gun, Grandpa Davis made his way toward the
branch. A medley of bird notes filled the air, long streamers of gray
moss floated out from the swaying trees, and showers of autumn leaves
fluttered down to earth. Some of the cows were grazing outside the pen,
up to their hocks in lush, fresh grass, while others lay on the ground
contentedly chewing their cuds. All of them raised their heads and
looked at him as he passed them by.

How like old times it was to be up at daybreak for a hunt! The long
years seemed suddenly to have rolled away, leaving him once more a boy.
He almost wondered why Dick had not whistled to him as he used to do.
Dick was an early riser, and somehow always got ready before he did.

There was an alertness in the old man's face and a spring in his step
as he lived over in thought the joyous days of his childhood. The
clouds were flushed with pink when he came in sight of the big water
oak on the margin of the stream, and recollected how he and Dick had
loved to go swimming in the deep, clear water beneath its shade.

"We used to run every step of the way," he soliloquized, laughing,
"unbuttonin' as we went, chuck our clothes on the bank, and 'most break
our necks tryin' to git in the water fust. I've got half a notion to
take a dip this mornin', if it wasn't quite so cool," he went on, but
a timely twinge of rheumatism brought him to his senses, and he seated
himself on the roots of a convenient tree.

Cocking his gun, he laid it across his knees, and waited there
motionless, imitating the yelp of a turkey the while. Three or four
small canes, graduated in size, and fitted firmly one into the other,
enabled him to make the note, and so expert had he become by long
practice that the deception was perfect.

After a pause he repeated the call; then came another pause, another
call, and over in the distance there sounded an answer. How the blood
coursed through the old man's veins as he listened! There it was again.
It was coming nearer, but very slowly. He wondered how many were in
the flock, and called once more. This time, to his surprise, an answer
came from a different direction--a long, rasping sound, a sort of cross
between a cock's crow and a turkey's yelp.

He started involuntarily, and very cautiously peeped around. Hardly
twenty steps from him another gray head protruded itself from the bole
of another tree, and Grandpa Davis and Grandpa Dun looked into each
other's eyes.

"I'll be double-jumped-up if that ain't Dick!" cried Grandpa Davis,
under his breath. "And there ain't a turkey as ever wore a feather
that he could fool. A minute more, and he'll spile the fun. Dick," he
commanded, "stop that racket, and sneak over here by me," beckoning
mysteriously. "Sh-h-h! they are answerin' ag'in. Down on your
marrow-bones whilst I call."

Flattening himself upon the ground as nearly as he could, and creeping
behind the undergrowth, Grandpa Dun made his way laboriously to the
desired spot. He had never excelled in calling turkeys, but he was a
far better shot than Grandpa Davis.

Without demur the two old boys fell naturally into the _rôle_ of former
days. Breathless and excited, they crouched there, waiting for the
fateful moment. Their nerves were tense, their eyes dilated, and their
hearts beating like trip-hammers.

Grandpa Davis had continued to call, and now the answer was very near.

"Gimme the first shot, Billy," whispered Grandpa Dun. "I let you do the
callin'; and, besides, you know you never could hit nothin' that wasn't
as big as the side of a meetin'-house."

Before Grandpa Davis had time to reply, there came the "put-put-put"
which signals possible danger. A stately gobbler raised his head to
reconnoitre; two guns were fired almost simultaneously, and, with a
whir and a flutter, the flock disappeared in the cane brake.

The two old boys bounded over the intervening sticks and stumps with
an agility that Walter himself might have envied, and bending over the
prostrate gobbler exclaimed in concert: "Ain't he a dandy, though!"

They examined him critically, cutting out his beard as a trophy, and
measured the spread of his wings.

"But he's yourn, after all, Dick," said Grandpa Davis ruefully. "These
here ain't none of my shot, so I reckon I must have missed him."

"I knowed you would, Billy, afore your fired," Grandpa Dun replied,
with mock gravity, "but that don't cut no figger. He's big enough
for us to go halvers and both have plenty. More'n that, you done the
callin' anyhow."

Then they laughed, and as they looked into one another's faces, each
seemed to realize for the first time that his quondam chum was an old

A moment before they had been two rollicking boys off on a lark
together--playing hooky, perhaps--and in the twinkling of an eye some
wicked fairy had waved her wand and metamorphosed them into Walter's
two grandfathers, who had not spoken to each other since years before
the lad was born.

Yet the humour of the situation was irresistible after all, and,
without knowing just how it happened, or which made the first advance,
Dick and Billy found themselves still laughing until the tears coursed
down their furrowed cheeks, and shaking hands with as much vigour as
though each one had been working a pump handle.

"I'll tell you what it is, Billy," said Dick at last; "you all come
over to my house, and we'll eat him together on Thanksgivin'."

"See here, Dick," suggested Billy, abstracting a nickel from his
trousers' pocket; "heads at your house, and tails at mine."

"All right," came the hearty response.

Billy tossed the coin into the air: it struck a twig and hid itself
among the fallen leaves, where they sought it in vain.

"'Tain't settled yet," announced Dick; "but lemme tell you what let's
do. S'posin' we all go over to-morrow--it'll be Thanksgivin', you
know--and eat him at John's house."

"Good!" cried Billy, with beaming face. "You always did have a head
for thinkin' up things, Dick, and this here'll sorter split the
difference, and ease matters so as----"

"Yes, and our two old women can draw straws, if they've got a mind to,
and see which of them is obligated to make the fust call," interrupted

"Jist heft him, old feller," urged one of them.

"Ain't he a whopper, though!" exclaimed the other.

"Have a chaw, Dick?" asked Billy, offering his plug of tobacco.

"Don't keer if I do," acquiesced Dick, biting off a goodly mouthful.

Seating themselves upon a fallen hickory log, they chewed and
expectorated, recalling old times, and enjoying their laugh with the
careless freedom of their childhood days.

"Dick, do your ricolleck the fight you and a coon had out on the limb
of that tree over yonder, one night?" queried Billy, nudging his
companion in the ribs. "He come mighty nigh gittin' the best of you."

"He tore one sleeve out of my jacket, and mammy gimme a beatin'
besides," giggled Dick. "And say, Billy, wasn't it fun the day we
killed old man Lee's puddle ducks for wild ones? I don't believe I ever
run as fast in my life."

"And, Dick, do you remember the night your pappy hung the saddle up
on the head of the bed to keep you from ridin' the old gray mare to
singin' school, and you rid her, bareback, anyway? You ricolleck you
was stoopin' over, blowin' the fire, next mornin', when he seen the
hairs on your britches, an' come down on you with the leather strop
afore you knowed it."

Thus one adventure recalled another, and the two old boys laughed
uproariously, clapping their hands and holding their sides, while the
sun climbed up among the treetops.

"Ain't we ben two old fools to stay mad all this time?" asked one of
them, and the other readily agreed that they had, as they once more
grasped hands before parting.

Walter had arranged the Thanksgiving surprise for his parents, but
when he brought home the big gobbler he was unable longer to keep the
secret, and divulged his share in what had happened.

"I didn't really believe either one of them could hit a turkey," he
confided to his father, "but I wanted to have them meet once more, for
I knew if they did they would make friends."

The parlour was odorous with late fall roses next morning, the table
set, and Walter and his parents in gala attire, when two couples,
walking arm in arm, appeared upon the stretch of white road leading up
to the front gate.

One couple was slightly in advance of the other, and Grandpa Davis, who
was behind, whispered to his wife:

"Listen, Mary, Dick is actually tryin' to sing, and he never could turn
a tune, but somehow it does warm up my heart to hear him: seems like
old times ag'in."

After dinner was over--and such a grand dinner it was--Grandpa Davis
voiced the sentiment of the rest of the happy family party when he
announced, quite without warning:

"Well, this here has ben the thankfulles' Thanksgivin' I ever seen, and
I hope the good Lord will spar' us all for yet a few more."


[25] From _Lippincott's Monthly Magazine_, December, 1896.



    A Cape Cod story about a wise old gander whose
    adventure on the sea insured him against the perils of
    the Thanksgiving hatchet. For boys or girls.

THERE is one sound that I shall always remember. It is "Honk!"

I spun around like a top, one summer day when I heard it, looking
nervously in every direction.

I had just come down from the city to the Cape with my sister Hester
for my third summer vacation. I had left the cars with my arms full of
bundles, and hurried toward Aunt Targood's.

The cottage stood in from the road. There was a long meadow in front of
it. In the meadow were two great oaks and some clusters of lilacs. An
old, mossy stone wall protected the grounds from the road, and a long
walk ran from the old wooden gate to the door.

It was a sunny day, and my heart was light. The orioles were flaming in
the old orchards; the bobolinks were tossing themselves about in the
long meadows of timothy, daisies, and patches of clover. There was a
scent of new-mown hay in the air.

In the distance lay the bay, calm and resplendent, with white sails and
specks of boats. Beyond it rose Martha's Vineyard, green and cool and
bowery, and at its wharf lay a steamer.

I was, as I said, light-hearted. I was thinking of rides over the sandy
roads at the close of the long, bright days; of excursions on the bay;
of clambakes and picnics.

I was hungry, and before me rose visions of Aunt Targood's fish
dinners, roast chickens, and berry pies. I was thirsty, but ahead was
the old well sweep, and behind the cool lattice of the dairy window
were pans of milk in abundance.

I tripped on toward the door with light feet, lugging my bundles, and
beaded with perspiration, but unmindful of all discomforts in the
thought of the bright days and good things in store for me.

"Honk! honk!"

My heart gave a bound!

_Where_ did that sound come from?

Out of a cool cluster of innocent-looking lilac bushes I saw a dark
object cautiously moving. It seemed to have no head. I knew, however,
that it had a head. I had seen it; it had seized me once in the
previous summer, and I had been in terror of it during all the rest of
the season.

I looked down into the irregular grass, and saw the head and a very
long neck running along on the ground, propelled by the dark body,
like a snake running away from a ball. It was coming toward me, and
faster and faster as it approached.

I dropped my bundles.

In a few flying leaps I returned to the road again, and armed myself
with a stick from a pile of cordwood.

"Honk! honk! honk!"

It was a call of triumph. The head was high in the air now. My enemy
moved grandly forward, as became the monarch of the great meadow

I stood with beating heart, after my retreat.

It was Aunt Targood's gander.

How he enjoyed his triumph, and how small and cowardly he made me feel!

"Honk! honk! honk!"

The geese came out of the lilac bushes, bowing their heads to him in
admiration. Then came the goslings--a long procession of awkward,
half-feathered things; they appeared equally delighted.

The gander seemed to be telling his admiring audience all about it:
how a strange lad with many bundles had attempted to cross the yard;
how he had driven him back, and had captured his bundles, and now was
monarch of the field. He clapped his wings when he had finished his
heroic story, and sent forth such a "Honk!" as might have startled a

Then he, with an air of great dignity and coolness, began to examine my

Among my effects were several pounds of chocolate caramels done up in
brown paper. Aunt Targood liked caramels, and I brought her a large

He tore off the wrappers quickly. He bit one. It was good. He began to
distribute the bonbons among the geese, and they, with much liberality
and good-will, among the goslings.

This was too much. I ventured through the gate, swinging my cordwood


He dropped his head on the ground, and drove it down the walk in a
lively waddle toward me.


It was Aunt Targood's voice at the door.

He stopped immediately.

His head was in the air again.


Out came Aunt Targood with her broom.

She always corrected the gander with her broom. If I were to be whipped
I should choose a broom--not the stick.

As soon as he beheld the broom he retired, although with much offended
pride and dignity, to the lilac bushes; and the geese and goslings
followed him.

"Hester, you dear child," she said to my sister, "come here. I was
expecting you, and had been looking out for you, but missed sight of
you. I had forgotten all about the gander."

We gathered up the bundles and the caramels. I was light-hearted again.

How cool was the sitting-room, with the woodbine falling about the open

Aunt brought me a pitcher of milk, and some strawberries, some bread
and honey, and a fan.

While I was resting and taking my lunch, I could hear the gander
discussing the affairs of the farmyard with the geese. I did not
greatly enjoy the discussion. His tone of voice was very proud, and he
did not seem to be speaking well of me.

I was suspicious that he did not think me a very brave lad. A young
person likes to be spoken well of, even by the gander.

Aunt Targood's gander had been the terror of many well-meaning people,
and of some evildoers, for many years. I have seen tramps and pack
peddlers enter the gate, and start on toward the door, when there would
sound that ringing warning like a war blast, "Honk, honk!" and in a
few minutes these unwelcome people would be gone. Farmhouse boarders
from the city would sometimes enter the yard, thinking to draw water by
the old well sweep; in a few minutes it was customary to hear shrieks,
and to see women and children flying over the walls, followed by
air-rending "Honks!" and jubilant cackles from the victorious gander
and his admiring family.

Aunt Targood sometimes took summer boarders. Among those that I
remember was the Rev. Mr. Bonney, a fervent-souled Methodist preacher.
He put the gander to flight with the cart whip, on the second day
after his arrival, and seemingly to aunt's great grief; but he never
was troubled by the feathered tyrant again.

Young couples sometimes came to Father Bonney to be married; and one
summer afternoon there rode up to the gate a very young couple, whom
we afterward learned had "run away," or rather, had attempted to get
married without their parents' approval. The young bridegroom hitched
the horse, and helped from the carriage the gayly dressed miss he
expected to make his wife. They started up the walk upon the run, as
though they expected to be followed and haste was necessary to prevent
the failure of their plans.


They stopped. It was a voice of authority.

"Just look at him!" said the bride. "Oh, oh!"

The bridegroom cried "Shoo!" but he might as well have said "Shoo"
to a steam engine. On came the gander, with his head and neck upon
the ground. He seized the lad by the calf of his leg, and made an
immediate application of his wings. The latter seemed to think he had
been attacked by dragons. As soon as he could shake him off he ran. So
did the bride, but in another direction; and while the two were thus
perplexed and discomfited, the bride's father appeared in a carriage,
and gave her a most forcible invitation to ride home with him. She
accepted it without discussion. What became of the bridegroom, or how
the matter ended, we never knew.

"Aunt, what makes you keep that gander year after year?" said I one
evening, as we were sitting on the lawn before the door. "Is it because
he is a kind of watchdog, and keeps troublesome people away?"

"No, child, no; I do not wish to keep most people away--not
well-behaved people--nor to distress nor annoy any one. The fact is,
there is a story about that gander that I do not like to speak of to
every one--something that makes me feel tender toward him; so that if
he needs a whipping I would rather do it. He knows something that no
one else knows. I could not have him killed or sent away. You have
heard me speak of Nathaniel, my oldest boy?"


"That is his picture in my room, you know. He was a good boy to me. He
loved his mother. I loved Nathaniel--you cannot think how much I loved
Nathaniel. It was on my account that he went away.

"The farm did not produce enough for us all--Nathaniel, John, and me.
We worked hard, and had a hard time. One year--that was ten years
ago--we were sued for our taxes.

"'Nathaniel,' said I, 'I will go to taking boarders.'

"Then he looked up to me and said--oh, how noble and handsome he
appeared to me:

"'Mother, I will go to sea.'

"'Where?' asked I, in surprise.

"'In a coaster.'

"I turned white. How I felt!

"'You and John can manage the place,' he continued. 'One of the
vessels sails next week--Uncle Aaron's; he offers to take me.'

"It seemed best, and he made preparations to go.

"The spring before Skipper Ben--you have met Skipper Ben--had given me
some goose eggs; he had brought them from Canada, and said that they
were wild goose eggs.

"I set them under hens. In four weeks I had three goslings. I took
them into the house at first, but afterward made a pen for them out in
the yard. I brought them up myself, and one of those goslings is that

"Skipper Ben came over to see me the day before Nathaniel was to sail.
Aaron came with him.

"I said to Aaron:

"'What can I give Nathaniel to carry to sea with him to make him think
of home? Cake, preserves, apples? I haven't got much; I have done all I
can for him, poor boy.'

"Brother looked at me curiously, and said:

"'Give him one of those wild geese, and we will fatten it on shipboard
and will have it for our Thanksgiving dinner.'

"What Brother Aaron said pleased me. The young gander was a noble bird,
the handsomest of the lot; and I resolved to keep the geese to kill for
my own use, and to give _him_ to Nathaniel.

"The next morning--it was late in September--I took leave of Nathaniel.
I tried to be calm and cheerful and hopeful. I watched him as he went
down the walk with the gander struggling under his arms. A stranger
would have laughed, but I did not feel like laughing; it was true that
the boys who went coasting were usually gone but a few months, and
came home hardy and happy. But when poverty compels a mother and son
to part, after they have been true to each other, and shared their
feelings in common, it seems hard, it seems hard--though I do not like
to murmur or complain at anything allotted to me.

"I saw him go over the hill. On the top he stopped and held up the
gander. He disappeared; yes, my own Nathaniel disappeared. I think of
him now as one who disappeared.

"November came. It was a terrible month on the coast that year. Storm
followed storm; the sea-faring people talked constantly of wrecks and
losses. I could not sleep on the nights of those high winds. I used
to lie awake thinking over all the happy hours that I had lived with

"Thanksgiving week came.

"It was full of an Indian-summer brightness after the long storms. The
nights were frosty, bright, and calm.

"I could sleep on those calm nights.

"One morning I thought I heard a strange sound in the woodland pasture.
It was like a wild goose. I listened; it was repeated. I was lying in
bed. I started up--I thought I had been dreaming.

"On the night before Thanksgiving I went to bed early, being very
tired. The moon was full; the air was calm and still. I was thinking
of Nathaniel, and I wondered if he would indeed have the gander for
his Thanksgiving dinner, if it would be cooked as well as I would have
cooked it, and if he would think of me that day.

"I was just going to sleep when suddenly I heard a sound that made me
start up and hold my breath.


"I thought it was a dream followed by a nervous shock.

"'_Honk! honk!_'

"There it was again, in the yard, I was surely awake and in my senses.

"I heard the geese cackle.

"'_Honk! honk! honk!_'

"I got out of bed and lifted the curtain. It was almost as light as day.

"Instead of two geese there were three. Had one of the neighbours'
geese stolen away?

"I should have thought so, and should not have felt disturbed, but
for the reason that none of the neighbours' geese had that peculiar
call--that hornlike tone that I had noticed in mine.

"I went out of the door.

"The _third_ goose looked like the very gander I had given Nathaniel.
Could it be?

"I did not sleep. I rose early and went to the crib for some corn.

"It _was_ a gander--a 'wild gander'--that had come in the night. He
seemed to know me.

"I trembled all over as though I had seen a ghost. I was so faint that
I sat down on the meal chest.

"As I was in that place, a bill pecked against the door. The door
opened. The strange gander came hobbling over the crib stone and went
to the corn bin. He stopped there, looked at me, and gave a sort of
glad 'Honk' as though he knew me and was glad to see me.

"I was certain that he was the gander I had raised and that Nathaniel
had lifted into the air when he gave me his last recognition from the
top of the hill.

"It overcame me. It was Thanksgiving. The church bell would soon be
ringing as on Sunday. And here was Nathaniel's Thanksgiving dinner and
Brother Aaron's--had it flown away? Where was the vessel?

"Years have passed--ten. You know I waited and waited for my boy to
come back. December grew dark with its rainy seas; the snows fell; May
righted up the hills, but the vessel never came back. Nathaniel--my
Nathaniel--never returned.

"That gander knows something he could tell me if he could talk. Birds
have memories. _He_ remembered the corncrib--he remembered something
else. I wish he _could_ talk, poor bird! I wish he could talk. I will
never sell him, nor kill him, nor have him abused. He _knows_!"


[26] From "Zigzag Journeys in Acadia and New France," Lothrop, Lee &
Shepard Company.



    This is the real Indian fairy tale of the birth of
    Mon-daw-min. Readers of Longfellow will remember his
    treatment of the same subject in "Hiawatha."

IN times past, a poor Indian was living with his wife and children in
a beautiful part of the country. He was not only poor, but inexpert
in procuring food for his family, and his children were all too young
to give him assistance. Although poor, he was a man of a kind and
contented disposition. He was always thankful to the Great Spirit for
everything he received. The same disposition was inherited by his
eldest son, who had now arrived at the proper age to undertake the
ceremony of the Ke-ig-uish-im-o-win, or fast, to see what kind of a
spirit would be his guide and guardian through life. Wunzh, for this
was his name, had been an obedient boy from his infancy, and was of a
pensive, thoughtful, and mild disposition, so that he was beloved by
the whole family. As soon as the first indications of spring appeared,
they built him the customary little lodge at a retired spot, some
distance from their own, where he would not be disturbed during this
solemn rite. In the meantime he prepared himself, and immediately went
into it, and commenced his fast. The first few days he amused himself,
in the mornings, by walking in the woods and over the mountains,
examining the early plants and flowers, and in this way prepared
himself to enjoy his sleep, and at the same time stored his mind with
pleasant ideas for his dreams. While he rambled through the woods, he
felt a strong desire to know how the plants, herbs, and berries grew
without any aid from man, and why it was that some species were good
to eat and others possessed medicinal or poisonous juices. He recalled
these thoughts to mind after he became too languid to walk about, and
had confined himself strictly to the lodge; he wished he could dream of
something that would prove a benefit to his father and family, and to
all others. "True!" he thought, "the Great Spirit made all things, and
it is to him that we owe our lives. But could he not make it easier for
us to get our food than by hunting animals and taking fish? I must try
to find out this in my visions."

On the third day he became weak and faint, and kept his bed. He
fancied, while thus lying, that he saw a handsome young man coming down
from the sky and advancing toward him. He was richly and gayly dressed,
having on a great many garments of green and yellow colours, but
differing in their deeper or lighter shades. He had a plume of waving
feathers on his head, and all his motions were graceful.

"I am sent to you, my friend," said the celestial visitor, "by that
Great Spirit who made all things in the sky and on the earth. He has
seen and knows your motives in fasting. He sees that it is from a
kind and benevolent wish to do good to your people, and to procure a
benefit for them, and that you do not seek for strength in war or the
praise of warriors. I am sent to instruct you, and show you how you
can do your kindred good." He then told the young man to arise, and
prepare to wrestle with him, as it was only by this means that he could
hope to succeed in his wishes. Wunzh knew he was weak from fasting,
but he felt his courage rising in his heart, and immediately got up,
determined to die rather than fail. He commenced the trial, and after
a protracted effort was almost exhausted when the beautiful stranger
said, "My friend, it is enough for once; I will come again to try you";
and, smiling on him, he ascended in the air in the same direction
from which he came. The next day the celestial visitor reappeared at
the same hour and renewed the trial. Wunzh felt that his strength was
even less than the day before, but the courage of his mind seemed to
increase in proportion as his body became weaker. Seeing this, the
stranger again spoke to him in the same words he used before, adding,
"To-morrow will be your last trial. Be strong, my friend, for this is
the only way you can overcome me, and obtain the boon you seek." On the
third day he again appeared at the same time and renewed the struggle.
The poor youth was very faint in body, but grew stronger in mind at
every contest, and was determined to prevail or perish in the attempt.
He exerted his utmost powers, and after the contest had been continued
the usual time, the stranger ceased his efforts and declared himself
conquered. For the first time he entered the lodge, and sitting down
beside the youth, he began to deliver his instructions to him, telling
him in what manner he should proceed to take advantage of his victory.

"You have won your desires of the Great Spirit," said the stranger.
"You have wrestled manfully. To-morrow will be the seventh day of your
fasting, your father will give you food to strengthen you, and as it
is the last day of trial, you will prevail. I know this, and now tell
you what you must do to benefit your family and your tribe. To-morrow,"
he repeated, "I shall meet you and wrestle with you for the last time;
and, as soon as you have prevailed against me, you will strip off my
garments and throw me down, clean the earth of roots and weeds, make it
soft, and bury me in the spot. When you have done this, leave my body
in the earth, and do not disturb it, but come occasionally to visit the
place, to see whether I have come to life, and be careful never to let
the grass or weeds grow on my grave. Once a month cover me with fresh
earth. If you follow my instructions, you will accomplish your object
of doing good to your fellow-creatures by teaching them the knowledge I
now teach you." He then shook him by the hand and disappeared.

In the morning the youth's father came with some slight refreshments,
saying, "My son, you have fasted long enough. If the Great Spirit will
favour you, he will do it now. It is seven days since you have tasted
food, and you must not sacrifice your life. The Master of Life does not
require that." "My father," replied the youth, "wait till the sun goes
down. I have a particular reason for extending my fast to that hour."
"Very well," said the old man. "I shall wait till the hour arrives, and
you feel inclined to eat."

At the usual hour of the day the sky visitor returned, and the trial
of strength was renewed. Although the youth had not availed himself of
his father's offer of food, he felt that new strength had been given
to him, and that exertion had renewed his strength and fortified his
courage. He grasped his angelic antagonist with supernatural strength,
threw him down, took from him his beautiful garments and plume, and
finding him dead, immediately buried him on the spot, taking all the
precautions he had been told of, and being very confident, at the same
time, that his friend would again come to life. He then returned to
his father's lodge, and partook sparingly of the meal that had been
prepared for him. But he never for a moment forgot the grave of his
friend. He carefully visited it throughout the spring, and weeded out
the grass, and kept the ground in a soft and pliant state. Very soon
he saw the tops of the green plumes coming through the ground; and the
more careful he was to obey his instructions in keeping the ground
in order, the faster they grew. He was, however, careful to conceal
the exploit from his father. Days and weeks had passed in this way.
The summer was now drawing toward a close, when one day, after a long
absence in hunting, Wunzh invited his father to follow him to the quiet
and lonesome spot of his former fast. The lodge had been removed, and
the weeds kept from growing on the circle where it stood, but in its
place stood a tall and graceful plant, with bright coloured silken
hair, surmounted with nodding plumes and stately leaves, and golden
clusters on each side. "It is my friend," shouted the lad; "it is the
friend of all mankind. It is _Mondawmin_. We need no longer rely on
hunting alone; for, as long as this gift is cherished and taken care
of, the ground itself will give us a living." He then pulled an ear.
"See, my father," said he, "this is what I fasted for. The Great Spirit
has listened to my voice, and sent us something new, and henceforth our
people will not alone depend upon the chase or upon the waters."

He then communicated to his father the instructions given him by the
stranger. He told him that the broad husks must be torn away, as he
had pulled off the garments in his wrestling; and having done this,
directed him how the ear must be held before the fire till the outer
skin became brown, while all the milk was retained in the grain. The
whole family then united in feast on the newly grown ears, expressing
gratitude to the Merciful Spirit who gave it. So corn came into the


[27] From "The Myth of Hiawatha."



    The boy who has a sister and the girl who has a brother
    are the ones who will best like this story of the
    spirited twins, Jessie and Jack. Jessie wanted to take
    music lessons and Jack tried mining in Colorado.

SOMETHING very mysterious was going on in the Jarvis kitchen. The table
was covered with all sorts of good things--eggs and butter and raisins
and citron and spices; and Jessie, with her sleeves rolled up and a
white apron on, was bustling about, measuring and weighing and chopping
and beating and mixing those various ingredients in a most bewildering

Moreover, though she was evidently working for dear life, her face
was full of smiles; in fact, she seemed to have trouble to keep from
laughing outright, while Betty, the cook, who was washing potatoes at
the sink, fairly giggled with glee every few minutes, as if the sight
of Miss Jessie working in the kitchen was the drollest thing in the

It was one of the pleasantest sights that big, sunny kitchen had seen
for many a day, and the only thing that appeared mysterious about it
was that the two workers acted strangely like conspirators. If they
laughed--as they did on the slightest provocation--it was very soft and
at once smothered. Jessie went often to the door leading into the hall,
and listened; and if there came a knock on the floor, she snatched off
her apron, hastily wiped her hands, rolled down her sleeves, asked
Betty if there was any flour on her, and then hurried away into another
part of the house, trying to look cool and quiet, as if she had not
been doing anything.

On returning from one of these excursions, as she rolled up her sleeves
again, she said:

"Betty, we must open the other window if it is cold. Mamma thought she
smelled roast turkey!"

Betty burst into a laugh which she smothered in her apron. Jessie
covered her mouth and laughed, too, but the window was opened to
make a draught and carry out the delicious odours, which, it must be
confessed, did fill that kitchen so full that no wonder they crept
through the cracks, and the keyholes, and hung about Jessie's dress as
she went through the hall, in a way to make one's mouth water.

"What did ye tell her?" asked Betty, as soon as she could speak.

"Oh, I told her I thought potpie smelled a good deal like turkey," said
Jessie, and again both laughed. "Wasn't it lucky we had potpie to-day?
I don't know what I should have said if we hadn't."

Well, it was not long after that when Jessie lined a baking-dish with
nice-looking crust, filled it with tempting looking chicken legs
and wings and breasts and backs and a bowlful of broth, laid a white
blanket of crust over all, tucked it in snugly around the edge, cut
some holes in the top, and shoved it into the oven just after Betty
drew out a dripping pan in which reposed, in all the glory of rich
brown skin, a beautiful turkey. Mrs. Jarvis couldn't have had any nose
at all if she didn't smell that. It filled the kitchen full of nice
smells, and Betty hurried it into the pantry, where the window was open
to cool.

Then Jessie returned to the spices and fruits she had been working over
so long, and a few minutes later she poured a rich, dark mass into a
tin pudding-dish, tied the cover on tight, and slipped it into a large
kettle of boiling water on the stove.

"There!" she said, "I hope that'll be good."

"I know it will," said Betty confidently. "That's y'r ma's best

"Yes, but I never made it before," said Jessie doubtfully.

"Oh, I know it'll be all right, 'n' I'll watch it close," said Betty;
"'n' now you go'n sit with y'r ma. I want that table to git dinner."

"But I'm going to wash all these things," said Jessie.

"You go long! I'd ruther do that myself. 'Twon't take me no time," said

Jessie hesitated. "But you have enough to do, Betty."

"I tell you I want to do it," the girl insisted.

"Oh, I know!" said Jessie; "you like to help about it. Well, you may;
and I'm much obliged to you, besides." And after a last look at the
fine turkey cooling his heels (if he had any) in the pantry, Jessie
went into the other part of the house.

When dinner time arrived and papa came from town, there duly appeared
on the table the potpie before mentioned, and various other things
pleasant to eat, but nothing was seen of the turkey so carefully
roasted nor of the chicken pie, nor of the pudding that caused the
young cook so much anxiety. Nothing was said about them, either, and
it was not Thanksgiving nor Christmas, though it was only a few days
before the former.

It was certainly odd, and stranger things happened that night. In the
first place, Jessie sat up in her room and wrote a letter; and then,
after her mother was in bed and everything still, she stole down the
back stairs with a candle, quietly, as though she was doing some
mischief. Betty, who came down to help her, brought a box in from the
woodshed; and the two plotters, very silently, with many listenings at
the door to see if any one was stirring, packed that box full of good

In it the turkey, wrapped in a snowy napkin, found a bed, the chicken
pie and the plum pudding--beautiful looking as Betty said it would
be--bore him company; and numerous small things, jam jars, fruits,
etc., etc., filled the box to its very top. Then the cover, provided
with screws so that no hammering need be done, was fastened on.

"Now you go to bed, Miss Jessie," whispered Betty. "I'll wait."

"No, you must be tired," said Jessie. "I'd just as lief."

"But I'd ruther," said Betty shortly--"'n' I'm going to; it won't be
long now."

So Jessie crept quietly upstairs, and before long there was a low rap
on the kitchen door. Betty opened it, and there stood a man.

"Ready?" said he.

"Yes," answered Betty; "but don't speak loud; Miss Jarvis has sharp
ears, 'n' we don't want her disturbed. Here's the card to mark it by,"
and she produced a card from the table.

The man put it in his pocket, shouldered the box, and Betty shut the

Not one of those good things ever went into the Jarvis dining-room!

The next morning things went on just as usual in the house. The kitchen
door was left open and Mrs. Jarvis was welcome to smell any of the
appetizing odours that wafted out into her room. Jessie resumed her
study, and especially her practice, for she hoped some day to be
a great musician. She waited on her mother and took charge of the
housekeeping, so much as was necessary with the well-tried servant at
the head of the kitchen. And though she had but sixteen years over her
bright brown head, she proved herself to be what in that little New
England town was called "capable."

But that box of goodies! Let us see where it went.

It was Thanksgiving morning in a rough-looking little mining settlement
in Colorado. In a shanty rougher and more comfortless than the rest
were two persons: one, a man of thirty, was deeply engaged in cleaning
and oiling a gun which lay in pieces about him on the rough bench where
he sat; the other, a youth of sixteen, was trying to make a fire burn
in the primitive-looking affair that did duty as a stove. Both wore
coarse miner's suits, and picks and other things about the room told
that their business was to dig for the yellow dust we are all so greedy
to have.

Evidently luck had not been good, for the whole place appeared run
down, and the two looked absolutely hungry.

It was Thanksgiving morning, as I said, but no thankfulness shone in
the two pale, thin faces. Both were sad, and the younger one almost

"Jack," said the elder, pausing in his operations, "mind you give that
old hen a good boil, or we won't be able to eat it."

"It'll be better'n nothing, anyway, I suppose," said Jack gloomily.

"Not much. 'Specially if you don't get the taste of sage brush out of
it. Lucky I happened to get that shot at her, anyway," he went on,
"I've seen worse dinners--even Thanksgiving dinners--than a sage hen."

"I haven't," said Jack shortly; for the mention of Thanksgiving had
brought up before him with startling vividness the picture of a bright
dining-room in a certain town far away, a table loaded with good
things, and surrounded by smiling faces, and the contrast was almost
more than he could bear.

"Well, don't be down on your luck, boy, so long as you can get a
good fat hen to eat, if she does happen to be too fond of seasoning
before she's dead!" replied the other cheerfully; "we haven't struck
it yet, but it's always darkest just before dawn, you know. We may be
millionaires before this time to-morrow."

"We may," answered Jack; but he didn't look as if he had much hope of

A few hours later the occupants of the cabin sat down to their
Thanksgiving dinner. It consisted of the hen aforesaid, cut in pieces
and boiled--looking very queer, too--served in the kettle in which the
operation had been performed. The table was at one end of the bench,
the table service two jackknives and two iron spoons--absolutely
nothing else.

The elder sat on the bench, the younger drew up a keg that had held
powder, and the dinner was about to begin.

But that hen was destined never to be eaten, for just at that moment
the door was pushed open in the rude way of the country, a box set down
on the floor, and a rough voice announced:

"A box for Mr. Jack Jones."

Jack started up.

"For me, there must be a mistake! Nobody knows----" He stopped, for he
had not mentioned that his name was assumed.

"Likely not!" said the man, with a knowing look, "but folks has a
mighty queer way of findin' out," and he shut the door and left.

Jack stood staring at the box as if he had lost his wits. It could not
be from home, for no one knew where he went when he stole out of the
house one night six months ago, and ran away to seek his fortune. Not a
line had he ever written--not even when very ill, as he had been; not
even when without a roof to cover his head, as he had been more than
once; not even when he had not eaten for two days, as also, alas, had
been his experience.

He had deliberately run away, because--how trivial it looked to him
now, and how childish seemed his conduct--because he thought his father
too hard on him; would not allow him enough liberty; wanted to dictate
to this man of sixteen; he intended to show him that he could get on

Poor Jack, the only comfort he had been able to extract from his hard
lot these many months of wandering, of work, of suffering such as he
had never dreamed of--his only comfort was that his tender mother
didn't know, his only sister would no more be worried by his grumbling
and complaints, and his father would be convinced now that he wasn't a
baby. Small comfort, too, to balance the hardships that had fallen to
his lot since the money he had drawn from the savings bank--his little
all--was used up.

"Why don't you open it?" The gruff but not unkind voice of his
roommate, whom he called Tom, aroused him. "Maybe there's something in
it better'n sage hen," trying to raise a smile.

But no smile followed. Mechanically Jack sought the tools to open it,
and in a few moments the cover was off.

It _was_ from home! On the very top was a letter addressed to Jack
Jarvis in a hand that he well knew.

He hastily stuffed it into his pocket unopened. The layers of paper
were removed, and as each one was thrown off, something new appeared.
Not a word was spoken, but the kettle of sage hen was silently put on
the floor by Tom as the bench began to fill up. A jar of cranberry
sauce, another of orange marmalade, oranges and apples, a plum pudding,
a chicken pie, and lastly, in its white linen wrapper, the turkey we
saw browning in that far-off New England kitchen.

As one by one these things were lifted out and placed on the bench a
deep silence reigned in the cabin. Jack had choked at sight of the
letter, and memories of days far different from these checked even
Tom's usually lively tongue. A strange unpacking it was; how different
from the joyful packing at dead of night with those two laughing girl
faces bending over it!

When all was done, and the silence grew painful, Jack blurted out:
"Help yourself," and bustled about, busily gathering up the papers and
folding them, and stuffing them back in the box, as though he were the
most particular housekeeper in the world. But if Jack couldn't eat,
something, too, ailed Tom. He said simply:

"Don't feel hungry. Believe I'll go out and see what I can find," and
shouldering his gun, now cleaned and put together, he quickly went out
and shut the door.

Jack sat down on the keg and looked at the things which so vividly
brought home, and his happy life there, before him. He did not feel
hungry, either. He sat and stared for some time. Then he remembered
his letter. He drew it from his pocket and opened it. It was very
thick; and when he pulled it out of the envelope the first thing he
saw was the smiling face of his sister Jessie, his twin sister, his
playmate and comrade, his confidante from the cradle. The loss of her
ever-willing sympathy had been almost more to him than all the rest of
his troubles.

This was another shock that brought something to his eyes that made him
see the others through a mist. There were the pictures of his mother,
whose gentle voice he could almost hear, and of his father, whose gray
hairs and sad face he suddenly remembered were partly his work.

At last he read the letter. It began:

    DEAR JACK:--I've just found out where you are, and
    I'm so glad. I send you this Thanksgiving dinner. It
    was too bad for you to go off so. You don't know how
    dreadful it was for mamma; she was sick a long time,
    and we were scared to death about her, but she's better
    now; she can sit up most all day.

    Oh, Jack! Father _cried_! I'm sure he did, and he
    almost ran out of the room, and didn't say anything to
    anybody all day. But I was determined I'd find you. I
    shan't tell you how I did it, but Uncle John helped
    me, and now, Jack, he says he wants just such a fellow
    as you to learn his business, and he'll make you a very
    good offer. And, Jack, that's my turkey--my Winnie--and
    nobody but Betty knows anything about this box and this
    letter. I send you all my money out of the savings bank
    (I didn't tell _anybody_ that), and _I want_ you to
    come home. You'll find the money under the cranberries.
    I thought it would be safe there, and I knew you'd eat
    them all, you're so fond of cranberries. I didn't tell
    anybody because I want to surprise them, and besides,
    let them think you came home because you got ready.
    It's nobody's business where you got the money anyway.

    Now do come right home, Jack. You can get here in a
    week's time, I know.

                            Your affectionate sister,

Jack laid the letter down with a rush of new feelings and thoughts that
overwhelmed him. He sat there for hours; he knew nothing of time. He
had mechanically turned the cranberry jar upside down and taken from
the bottom, carefully wrapped in white paper, fifty dollars.

A pang went through him. Well did he know what that money represented
to his sister; by how many sacrifices she had been saving it for a year
or two, with the single purpose of taking the lessons from a great
master that were to fit her to teach, to take an independent position
in the world, to relieve her father, who had lost a large slice of his
comfortable income, and who was growing old and sad under his burden.
She had often talked it over with Jack.

Now she had generously given up the whole to him, all her hopes and
dreams of independence; and he--he who should have been the support of
his sister, the right arm of his father--he had basely deserted.

These thoughts and many more surged through his mind that long
afternoon, and when Tom returned as the shadows were growing long, he
sat exactly as he had been left.

On Tom's entrance he roused himself. There was a new light in his eye.

"Come, Tom," he said, "dinner's waiting. You must be hungry by this

"I am that," said Tom, who had been through his own mental struggles

The two sat down once more to their Thanksgiving dinner, and this time
they managed to eat, though Jack choked whenever he thought of tasting
a bit of Jessie's pet turkey, Winnie; and much as he liked turkey, and
a home turkey at that, he could not touch it.

After the meal, when the provisions were stored away in the cupboard (a
soap box) much too small for such a supply, it had grown quite dark,
and the two, still disinclined to talk, went to their beds--if the
rough bunks they occupied may be dignified by that name.

But not to sleep--at least not Jack, who tumbled and tossed all night
and got up in the morning with an energy and life he had not shown for

After breakfast Tom shouldered his pick and said:

"I'll go on, Jack, while you clear up." Yet he felt in his heart he
should never see Jack again; for there was a homestruck look in his
face that the man of experience in the ways of runaway boys knew well.

He was not surprised that Jack did not join him, nor that when he
returned at night to the cabin he found him gone and a note pinned up
on the door:

    I can't stand it--I'm off for home. You may have my
    share of everything.

It was a cold evening in early December, and there seemed to be
an undercurrent of excitement in the Jarvis household. The table
was spread in the dining-room with the best silver and linen. Mrs.
Jarvis was better, and had even been able to go into the kitchen to
superintend the preparations for dinner.

Jessie went around with a shining face that no one understood and she
could not explain.

Betty was strangely nervous, and had made several blunders that morning
which mortified the faithful servant very much. An air of expectancy
pervaded the whole house, though the two heads of it had not a hint of
the cause.

Jessie heard the train she had decided to be the important one. She
could hardly contain herself for expectation. She tried hard to sober
herself now and then by the thought, "Perhaps he won't come," but she
couldn't stay sobered, for she felt as certain that he would as that
she lived.

You all know how it happened. The door opened and Jack walked in. One
instant of blank silence, and then a grand convulsion.

Jack fell on his knees with his face in his mother's lap, though he
had not thought a moment before of doing any such thing. Jessie hung
over him, frantically hugging him. Mr. Jarvis, vainly trying to join
this group, could only lay his hands on Jack's head and say in a broken
voice: "My son! My son!" while Betty performed a war dance around the
party, wildly brandishing a basting spoon in one hand and wiping her
streaming eyes on the dishcloth which she held in the other.

It was long before a word could be spoken, and the dinner was totally
ruined, as Betty declared with tears (though they were not for sorrow),
before any one could calm down enough to eat.

Then the reaction set in, and justice was done to the dinner, while
talk went on in a stream. Jack did not tell his adventures; he only
said that he had come from the city, where he had made arrangements
for a situation with Uncle John--at which Jessie's eyes sparkled. His
looks, even after a week of comfort and hope, spoke for his sufferings.

There is little more to tell. Jack Jarvis at seventeen was a different
boy from the Jack who at sixteen started out to seek his fortune. You
may be sure that Jessie had her music lessons after all, and that a new
Winnie with a fine young brood at her heels stalked about the Jarvis
grounds the next spring.


[28] From "Kristy's Surprise Party," Houghton, Mifflin Co.



    A good story for the Big Sister to read to the little
    boys and girls.

"WHY can't dollies have a Thanksgiving dinner as well as real folks?"
asked Polly Pine.

"I don't know why," said mamma, laughing; "go and dress them in their
best clothes, get the dolls' house swept and dusted and the table
ready. Then I'll fix their dinner before we go downstairs."

"Oh, how nice!" said Polly Pine.

The doll house stood in the nursery. It was very big and very
beautiful. It was painted red; it had tall chimneys, and a fine front
door with R. Bliss on a brass plate. There were lace curtains at the
windows, and two steps led up to the cunning little piazza. Polly Pine
swept the rooms with her tiny broom and dusted them. Then she set the
table in the dining-room with the very best dishes and the finest
silver. She set a teeny vase in the middle of the table, with two
violets in it, and she put dolly table napkins at each place.

When the house was all nice and clean she dressed Lavinia in her pink
muslin, and Dora Jane in her gray velvet, and Hannah Welch in her
yellow silk; then she seated them around the table, each one in her
own chair. Polly was just telling them about company manners, how they
must not eat with their knives, or leave their teaspoons in their cups
when they drank their tea, when the door opened and in came mamma with
a real dolls' Thanksgiving dinner.

There was a chicken bone to put on the platter before Hannah Welch,
for Hannah always did the carving. There were cunning little dishes of
mashed potato and cranberry sauce, and some celery in a tiny tumbler,
and the smallest squash pie baked in a patty pan. Polly Pine just
hopped up and down with delight when she saw it. She set everything on
the table; then she ran away to put on her nicest muslin frock with the
pink ribbons, and she went downstairs to her own dinner.

There were gentlemen there for dinner--gentlemen Polly was very fond
of--and she had a nice time visiting with one of them. He could change
his table napkin into a white rabbit, and she forgot all about the
dolls' Thanksgiving dinner until it was dessert-time, and the nuts and
raisins came in.

Then Polly remembered, and she jumped down from her chair and asked
mamma if she might go upstairs and see if the dolls had eaten their
dinner. When mamma told about the doll house Thanksgiving, all the
family wanted to go, too, to find out if the dolls had enjoyed their

The front door of the doll house was open, and there sat the dolls just
as their little mistress had left them--only they had eaten nearly all
the dinner! Everything was gone except the potato and the cranberry
sauce. The chicken leg was picked bare, the bread was nibbled, and the
little pie was eaten all around.

"Well, this is funny," said papa.

Just then they heard a funny, scratching noise in the doll house, and a
little gray mouse jumped out from under the table. He ran out the front
door of the doll house, and over the piazza, and down the steps before
you could say "Jack Robinson." In a minute he was gone--nobody knew
where. There was another tiny mouse in the doll house under the parlour
sofa, and a third one under Lavinia's bed, with a poor, frightened gray
tail sticking out. They all got away safe. Papa would not allow mamma
to go for the cat. He said:

"Why can't a poor little mouse have a Thanksgiving dinner as well as


[29] From "For the Children's Hour," Milton Bradley Company.



    A long story about a family of hardy New England
    pioneers in Revolutionary days. It will be most enjoyed
    by the older children.

"Pile in, Hannah. Get right down 'long o' the clock, so's to kinder
shore it up. I'll fix in them pillers t'other side on't, and you can
set back ag'inst the bed. Good-bye, folks! Gee up! Bright. Gee! I tell
ye, Buck."

"Good-bye!" nodded Hannah, from the depths of the old calash which
granny had given her for a riding-hood, and her rosy face sparkled
under the green shadow like a blossom under a burdock leaf.

This was their wedding journey. Thirty long miles to be travelled, at
the slow pace of an oxcart, where to-day a railroad spins by, and a log
hut in the dim distance.

But Hannah did not cry about it. There was a momentary choking,
perhaps, in her throat, as she caught a last view of granny's mob cap
and her father's rough face, with the red head of her small stepbrother
between them, grouped in the doorway. Her mother had died long ago, and
there was another in her place now, and a swarm of children. Hannah was
going to her own home, to a much easier life, and going with John. Why
should she cry?

Besides, Hannah was the merriest little woman in the country. She had a
laugh always lying ready in a convenient dimple.

She never knew what "blues" meant, except to dye stocking yarn. She
was sunny as a dandelion and gay as a bobolink. Her sweet good nature
never failed through the long day's journey, and when night came she
made a pot of tea at the campfire, roasted a row of apples, and broiled
a partridge John shot by the wayside, with as much enjoyment as if
this was the merriest picnic excursion, and not a solitary camp in the
forest, long miles away from any human dwelling, and by no means sure
of safety from some lingering savage, some beast of harmful nature, or
at least a visit from a shambling black bear, for bears were plentiful
enough in that region.

But none of these things worried Hannah. She ate her supper with hearty
appetite, said her prayers with John, and curled down on the featherbed
in the cart, while John heaped on more wood, and, shouldering his
musket, went to lengthen the ropes that tethered his oxen, and then
mounted guard over the camp. Hannah watched his fine, grave face, as
the flickering light illuminated it, for a few minutes, and then slept
tranquilly till dawn. And by sunset next day the little party drew up
at the door of the log hut they called home.

It looked very pretty to Hannah. She had the fairy gift, that is so
rare among mortals, of seeing beauty in its faintest expression; and
the young grass about the rough stone doorstep, the crimson cones on
the great larch tree behind it, the sunlit panes of the west window,
the laugh and sparkle of the brook that ran through the clearing, the
blue eyes of the squirrel caps that blossomed shyly and daintily beside
the stumps of new-felled trees--all these she saw and delighted in.
And when the door was open, the old clock set up, the bed laid on the
standing bedplace, and the three chairs and table ranged against the
wall, she began her housewifery directly, singing as she went. Before
John had put his oxen in the small barn, sheltered the cart and the
tools in it, and shaken down hay into the manger, Hannah had made a
fire, hung on the kettle, spread up her bed with homespun sheets and
blankets and a wonderful cover of white-and-red chintz, set the table
with a loaf of bread, a square of yellow butter, a bowl of maple sugar,
and a plate of cheese; and even released the cock and the hen from
their uneasy prison in a splint basket, and was feeding them in the
little woodshed when John came in.

His face lit up, as he entered, with that joyful sense of home so
instinctive in every true man and woman. He rubbed his hard hands
together, and catching Hannah as she came in at the shed door, bestowed
upon her a resounding kiss.

"You're the most of a little woman I ever see, Hannah, I swan to man."

Hannah laughed like a swarm of spring blackbirds. "I declare, John,
you do beat all! Ain't it real pleasant here? Seems to me I never saw
things so handy."

Oh, Hannah, what if your prophetic soul could have foreseen the
conveniences of this hundred years after! Yet the shelves, the pegs,
the cupboard in the corner, the broad shelf above the fire, the great
pine chest under the window, and the clumsy settle, all wrought out of
pine board by John's patient and skilful fingers, filled all her needs;
and what can modern conveniences do more?

So they ate their supper at home for the first time, happy as
new-nested birds, and far more grateful.

John had built a sawmill on the brook a little way from the house,
and already owned a flourishing trade, for the settlement about the
lake from which Nepasset Brook sprung was quite large, and till John
Perkins went there the lumber had been all drawn fifteen miles off, to
Litchfield, and his mill was only three miles from Nepash village. Hard
work and hard fare lay before them both, but they were not daunted by
the prospect....

By and by a cradle entered the door, and a baby was laid in it....

One baby is well enough in a log cabin, with one room for all the
purposes of life; but when next year brought two more, a pair of stout
boys, then John began to saw lumber for his own use. A bedroom was
built on the east side of the house, and a rough stairway into the
loft--more room perhaps than was needed; but John was called in Nepash
"a dre'dful forecastin' man," and he took warning from the twins.
And timely warning it proved, for as the years slipped by, one after
another, they left their arrows in his quiver till ten children bloomed
about the hearth. The old cabin had disappeared entirely. A good-sized
frame house of one story, with a high-pitched roof, stood in its stead,
and a slab fence kept roving animals out of the yard and saved the
apple trees from the teeth of stray cows and horses.

Poor enough they were still. The loom in the garret always had its web
ready, the great wheel by the other window sung its busy song year in
and year out. Dolly was her mother's right hand now; and the twins,
Ralph and Reuben, could fire the musket and chop wood. Sylvy, the
fourth child, was the odd one. All the rest were sturdy, rosy, laughing
girls and boys; but Sylvy had been a pining baby, and grew up into a
slender, elegant creature, with clear gray eyes, limpid as water, but
bright as stars, and fringed with long golden lashes the colour of her
beautiful hair--locks that were coiled in fold on fold at the back of
her fine head, like wreaths of undyed silk, so pale was their yellow
lustre. She bloomed among the crowd of red-cheeked, dark-haired lads
and lasses, stately and incongruous as a June lily in a bed of tulips.
But Sylvy did not stay at home. The parson's lady at Litchfield came to
Nepash one Sunday, with her husband, and seeing Sylvy in the square
corner pew with the rest, was mightily struck by her lovely face,
and offered to take her home with her the next week, for the better
advantages of schooling. Hannah could not have spared Dolly; but Sylvia
was a dreamy, unpractical child, and though all the dearer for being
the solitary lamb of the flock by virtue of her essential difference
from the rest, still, for that very reason, it became easier to let her
go. Parson Everett was childless, and in two years' time both he and
his wife adored the gentle, graceful girl; and she loved them dearly.
They could not part with her, and at last adopted her formally as their
daughter, with the unwilling consent of John and Hannah. Yet they knew
it was greatly "for Sylvy's betterment," as they phrased it; so at last
they let her go.

But when Dolly was a sturdy young woman of twenty-five the war-trumpet
blew, and John and the twins heard it effectually. There was a sudden
leaving of the plow in the furrow. The planting was set aside for the
children to finish, the old musket rubbed up, and with set lips and
resolute eyes the three men walked away one May morning to join the
Nepash company. Hannah kept up her smiling courage through it all.
If her heart gave way, nobody knew it but God and John. The boys she
encouraged and inspired, and the children were shamed out of their
childish tears by mother's bright face and cheery talk.

Then she set them all to work. There was corn to plant, wheat to sow,
potatoes to set; flax and wool to spin and weave, for clothes would be
needed for all, both absent and stay-at-homes. There was no father to
superintend the outdoor work; so Hannah took the field, and marshalled
her forces on Nepasset Brook much as the commander-in-chief was doing
on a larger scale elsewhere. Eben, the biggest boy, and Joey, who came
next him, were to do all the planting; Diana and Sam took on themselves
the care of the potato patch, the fowls, and the cow; Dolly must spin
and weave when mother left either the wheel or loom to attend to the
general ordering of the forces; while Obed and Betty, the younglings
of the flock, were detailed to weed, pick vegetables (such few as
were raised in the small garden), gather berries, herbs, nuts, hunt
the straying turkeys' nests, and make themselves generally useful.
At evening all the girls sewed; the boys mended their shoes, having
learned so much from a travelling cobbler; and the mother taught them
all her small stock of schooling would allow. At least, they each
knew how to read, and most of them to write, after a very uncertain
fashion. As to spelling, nobody knew how to spell in those days....
But they did know the four simple rules of arithmetic, and could say
the epigrammatic rhymes of the old New England Primer and the sibyllic
formulas of the Assembly's Catechism as glibly as the child of to-day
repeats "The House That Jack Built."

So the summer went on. The corn tasselled, the wheat ears filled well,
the potatoes hung out rich clusters of their delicate and graceful
blossoms, beans straggled half over the garden, the hens did their duty
bravely, and the cow produced a heifer calf.

Father and the boys were fighting now, and mother's merry words were
more rare, though her bright face still wore its smiling courage.
They heard rarely from the army. Now and then a post rider stopped
at the Nepash tavern and brought a few letters or a little news; but
this was at long intervals, and women who watched and waited at home
without constant mail service and telegraphic flashes, aware that news
of disaster, of wounds, of illness, could only reach them too late to
serve or save, and that to reach the ill or the dying involved a larger
and more disastrous journey than the survey of half the world demands
now--these women endured pangs beyond our comprehension, and endured
them with a courage and patience that might have furnished forth an
army of heroes, that did go far to make heroes of that improvised,
ill-conditioned, eager multitude who conquered the trained bands of
their oppressors and set their sons "free and equal," to use their own
dubious phraseology, before the face of humanity at large.

By and by winter came on with all its terrors. By night wolves howled
about the lonely house, and sprung back over the palings when Eben
went to the door with his musket. Joe hauled wood from the forest
on a hand-sled, and Dolly and Diana took it in through the kitchen
window when the drifts were so high that the woodshed door could not
be opened. Besides, all the hens were gathered in there, as well for
greater warmth as for convenience in feeding, and the barn was only to
be reached with snowshoes and entered by the window above the manger.

Hard times these were. The loom in the garret could not be used, for
even fingers would freeze in that atmosphere; so the thread was wound
off, twisted on the great wheel, and knit into stockings, the boys
learning to fashion their own, while Hannah knit her anxiety and her
hidden heartaches into socks for her soldier boys and their father.

By another spring the aching and anxiousness were a little dulled, for
habit blunts even the keen edge of mortal pain. They had news that
summer that Ralph had been severely wounded, but had recovered; that
John had gone through a sharp attack of camp-fever; that Reuben was
taken prisoner, but escaped by his own wit. Hannah was thankful and
grateful beyond expression. Perhaps another woman would have wept and
wailed, to think all this had come to pass without her knowledge or
her aid; but it was Hannah's way to look at the bright side of things.
Sylvia would always remember how once, when she was looking at Mount
Tahconic, darkened by a brooding tempest, its crags frowning blackly
above the dark forest at its foot and the lurid cloud above its head
torn by fierce lances of light, she hid her head in her mother's
checked apron, in the helpless terror of an imaginative child; but,
instead of being soothed and pitied, mother had only laughed a little
gay laugh, and said gently, but merrily:

"Why, Sylvy, the sun's right on the other side, only you don't see it."

After that she always thought her mother saw the sun when nobody else
could. And in a spiritual sense it was true.

Parson Everett rode over once or twice from Litchfield that next
summer to fetch Sylvia and to administer comfort to Hannah. He was a
quaint, prim little gentleman, neat as any wren, but mild-mannered as
wrens never are, and in a moderate way kindly and sympathetic. When
the children had haled their lovely sister away to see their rustic
possessions, Parson Everett would sit down in a high chair, lay aside
his cocked hat, spread his silk pocket handkerchief over his knees, and
prepare to console Hannah.

"Mistress Perkins, these are trying times, trying times. There is a
sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry-trees--h-m! Sea and waves
roaring of a truth--h-m! h-m! I trust, Mistress Perkins, you submit to
the Divine Will with meekness."

"Well, I don't know," replied Hannah, with a queer little twinkle in
her eye. "I don't believe I be as meek as Moses, parson. I should like
things fixed different, to speak truth."

"Dear me! Dear me--h-m! h-m! My good woman, the Lord reigneth. You must
submit; you must submit. You know it is the duty of a vessel of wrath
to be broken to pieces if it glorifieth the Maker."

"Well, mebbe 'tis. I don't know much about that kind o' vessel. I've
got to submit because there ain't anything else to do, as I see. I
can't say it goes easy--not'n' be honest; but I try to look on the
bright side, and to believe the Lord'll take care of my folks better'n
I could, even if they was here."

"H-m! h-m! Well," stammered the embarrassed parson, completely at his
wit's end with this cheerful theology, "well, I hope it is grace that
sustains you, Mistress Perkins, and not the vain elation of the natural
man. The Lord is in His holy temple; the earth is His footstool--h-m!"
The parson struggled helplessly with a tangle of texts here; but the
right one seemed to fail him, till Hannah audaciously put it in:

"Well, you know what it says about takin' care of sparrers, in the
Bible, and how we was more valerable than they be, a lot. That kind o'
text comes home these times, I tell ye. You fetch a person down to the
bedrock, as Grandsir Penlyn used to say, and then they know where they
be. And ef the Lord is really the Lord of all, I expect He'll take care
of all; 'nd I don't doubt but what He is and does. So I can fetch up on

Parson Everett heaved a deep sigh, put on his cocked hat, and blew his
nose ceremonially with the silk handkerchief. Not that he needed to:
but as a sort of shaking off of the dust of responsibility and ending
the conversation, which, if it was not heterodox on Hannah's part,
certainly did not seem orthodox to him.... He did not try to console
her any more, but contented himself with the stiller spirits in his
own parish, who had grown up in and after his own fashion.

Another dreadful winter settled down on Nepasset township. There was
food enough in the house and firewood in the shed; but neither food nor
fire seemed to assuage the terrible cold, and with decreased vitality
decreased courage came to all. Hygienics were an unforeseen mystery
to people of that day. They did not know that nourishing food is as
good for the brain as for the muscles. They lived on potatoes, beets,
beans, with now and then a bit of salt pork or beef boiled in the pot
with the rest; and their hearts failed, as their flesh did, with this
sodden and monotonous diet. One ghastly night Hannah almost despaired.
She held secret council with Dolly and Eben, while they inspected the
potato bin and the pork barrel, as to whether it would not be best for
them to break up and find homes elsewhere for the winter. Her father
was old and feeble. He would be glad to have her with him and Betty.
The rest were old enough to "do chores" for their board, and there were
many families where help was needed, both in Nepash and Litchfield,
since every available man had gone to the war by this time. But while
they talked a great scuffling and squawking in the woodhouse attracted
the boys upstairs. Joe seized the tongs and Diana the broomstick.
An intruding weasel was pursued and slaughtered; but not till two
fowls, fat and fine, had been sacrificed by the invader and the tongs
together. The children were all hungry, with the exhaustion of the
cold weather, and clamoured to have these victims cooked for supper.
Nor was Hannah unmoved by the appeal. Her own appetite seconded.
The savoury stew came just in time. It aroused them to new life and
spirits. Hannah regained courage, wondering how she could have lost
heart so far, and said to Dolly, as they washed up the supper dishes:

"I guess we'll keep together, Dolly. It'll be spring after a while, and
we'll stick it out together."

"I guess I would," answered Dolly. "And don't you believe we should
all feel better to kill off them fowls--all but two or three? They're
master hands to eat corn, and it does seem as though that biled hen
done us all a sight o' good to-night. Just hear them children."

And it certainly was, as Hannah said, "musical to hear 'em." Joe had a
cornstalk fiddle, and Eben an old singing book, which Diana read over
his shoulder while she kept on knitting her blue sock; and the three
youngsters--Sam, Obed, and Betty--with wide mouths and intent eyes,
followed Diana's "lining out" of that quaint hymn "The Old Israelites,"
dwelling with special gusto and power on two of the verses:

      "We are little, 'tis true,
       And our numbers are few,
    And the sons of old Anak are tall;
       But while I see a track
       I will never go back,
    But go on at the risk of my all.

      "The way is all new,
       As it opens to view,
    And behind is the foaming Red Sea;
       So none need to speak
       Of the onions and leeks
    Or to talk about garlics to me!"

Hannah's face grew brighter still. "We'll stay right here!" she said,
adding her voice to the singular old ditty with all her power:

      "What though some in the rear
       Preach up terror and fear,
    And complain of the trials they meet,
       Tho' the giants before
       With great fury do roar,
    I'm resolved I can never retreat."

And in this spirit, sustained, no doubt, by the occasional chickens,
they lived the winter out, till blessed, beneficent spring came again,
and brought news, great news, with it. Not from the army, though.
There had been a post rider in Nepash during the January thaw, and he
brought short letters only. There was about to be a battle, and there
was no time to write more than assurances of health and good hopes for
the future. Only once since had news reached them from that quarter.
A disabled man from the Nepash company was brought home dying with
consumption. Hannah felt almost ashamed to rejoice in the tidings he
brought of John's welfare, when she heard his husky voice, saw his
worn and ghastly countenance, and watched the suppressed agony in his
wife's eyes. The words of thankfulness she wanted to speak would have
been so many stabs in that woman's breast. It was only when her eight
children rejoiced in the hearing that she dared to be happy. But the
other news was from Sylvia. She was promised to the schoolmaster in
Litchfield. Only to think of it! Our Sylvy!

Master Loomis had been eager to go to the war; but his mother was
a poor bedrid woman, dependent on him for support, and all the
dignitaries of the town combined in advising and urging him to stay
at home for the sake of their children, as well as his mother. So at
home he stayed, and fell into peril of heart, instead of life and
limb, under the soft fire of Sylvia's eyes, instead of the enemy's
artillery. Parson Everett could not refuse his consent, though he and
madam were both loth to give up their sweet daughter. But since she and
the youth seemed to be both of one mind about the matter, and he being
a godly young man, of decent parentage, and in a good way of earning
his living, there was no more to be said. They would wait a year before
thinking of marriage, both for better acquaintance and on account of
the troubled times.

"Mayhap the times will mend, sir," anxiously suggested the schoolmaster
to Parson Everett.

"I think not, I think not, Master Loomis. There is a great blackness of
darkness in hand, the Philistines be upon us, and there is moving to
and fro. Yea, Behemoth lifteth himself and shaketh his mane--h-m! ah!
h-m! It is not a time for marrying and giving in marriage, for playing
on sackbuts and dulcimers--h-m!"

A quiet smile flickered around Master Loomis's mouth as he turned
away, solaced by a shy, sweet look from Sylvia's limpid eyes, as he
peeped into the keeping-room, where she sat with madam, on his way
out. He could afford to wait a year for such a spring blossom as that,
surely. And wait he did, with commendable patience, comforting his
godly soul with the fact that Sylvia was spared meantime the daily
tendance and care of a fretful old woman like his mother; for, though
Master Loomis was the best of sons, that did not blind him to the
fact that the irritability of age and illness were fully developed in
his mother, and he alone seemed to have the power of calming her. She
liked Sylvia at first, but became frantically jealous of her as soon as
she suspected her son's attachment. So the summer rolled away. Hannah
and her little flock tilled their small farm and gathered plenteous
harvest. Mindful of last year's experience, they raised brood after
brood of chickens, and planted extra acres of corn for their feeding,
so that when autumn came, with its vivid, splendid days, its keen winds
and turbulent skies, the new chicken yard, which the boys had worked
at through the summer, with its wattled fence, its own tiny spring,
and lofty covered roofs, swarmed with chickens, ducks, and turkeys.
Many a dollar was brought home about Thanksgiving time for the fat
fowls sold in Litchfield and Nepash; but dollars soon vanished in
buying winter clothes for so many children, or rather, in buying wool
to spin and weave for them. Mahala Green, the village tailoress, came
to fashion the garments, and the girls sewed them. Uncouth enough was
their aspect; but fashion did not yet reign in Nepash, and if they were
warm, who cared for elegance? Not Hannah's rosy, hearty, happy brood.
They sang and whistled and laughed with a force and freedom that was
kin to the birds and squirrels among whom they lived; and Hannah's
kindly, cheery face lit up as she heard them, while a half sigh told
that her husband and her soldier boys were still wanting to her perfect

At last they were all housed snugly for winter. The woodpile was larger
than ever before, and all laid up in the shed, beyond which a rough
shelter of chinked logs had been put up for the chickens, to which
their roosts and nest boxes, of coarse wicker, boards nailed together,
hollow bark from the hemlock logs, even worn-out tin pails, had all
been transferred. The cellar had been well banked from the outside,
and its darksome cavern held good store of apples, pork, and potatoes.
There was dried beef in the stairway, squashes in the cupboard,
flour in the pantry, and the great gentle black cow in the barn was
a wonderful milker. In three weeks Thanksgiving would come, and even
Hannah's brave heart sank as she thought of her absent husband and
boys; and their weary faces rose up before her as she numbered over
to herself her own causes for thankfulness, as if to say: "Can you
keep Thanksgiving without us?" Poor Hannah! She did her best to set
these thankless thoughts aside, but almost dreaded the coming festival.
One night, as she sat knitting by the fire, a special messenger from
Litchfield rode up to the door and brought stirring news. Master
Loomis's mother was dead, and the master himself, seeing there was
a new levy of troops, was now going to the war. But before he went
there was to be a wedding, and, in the good old fashion, it should be
on Thanksgiving Day, and Madam Everett had bidden as many of Sylvy's
people to the feast as would come.

There was great excitement as Hannah read aloud the madam's note. The
tribe of Perkins shouted for joy, but a sudden chill fell on them when
mother spoke:

"Now, children, hush up! I want to speak myself, ef it's a possible
thing to git in a word edgeways. We can't all go, fust and foremost.
'Tain't noways possible."

"Oh, Mother! Why? Oh, do! Not go to Sylvy's wedding?" burst in the
"infinite deep chorus" of youngsters.

"No, you can't. There ain't no team in the county big enough to hold ye
all, if ye squeeze ever so much. I've got to go, for Sylvy'd be beat
out if mother didn't come. And Dolly's the oldest. She's got a right to

Loud protest was made against the right of primogeniture, but mother
was firm.

"Says so in the Bible. Leastways, Bible folks always acted so. The
first-born, ye know. Dolly's goin', sure. Eben's got to drive, and I
must take Obed. He'd be the death of somebody, with his everlastin'
mischief, if I left him to home. Mebbe I can squeeze in Betty, to keep
him company. Joe and Sam and Dianner won't be more'n enough to take
care o' the cows and chickens and fires, and all. Likewise of each

Sam set up a sudden howl at his sentence, and kicked the mongrel yellow
puppy, who leaped on him to console him, till that long-suffering beast
yelped in concert.

Diana sniffed and snuffled, scrubbed her eyes with her checked apron,
and rocked back and forth.

"Now, stop it!" bawled Joe. "For the land's sake, quit all this noise.
We can't all on us go; 'n' for my part, I don't want to. We'll hev a
weddin' of our own some day!" and here he gave a sly look at Dolly, who
seemed to understand it and blushed like an apple-blossom, while Joe
went on: "Then we'll all stay to 't, I tell ye, and have a right down
old country time."

Mother had to laugh.

"So you shall, Joe, and dance 'Money Musk' all night, if you want
to--same as you did to the corn huskin'. Now, let's see. Betty, she's
got that chintz gown that was your Sunday best, Dolly--the flowered
one, you know, that Dianner outgrowed. We must fix them lawn ruffles
into 't; and there's a blue ribbin laid away in my chest o' drawers
that'll tie her hair. It's dreadful lucky we've got new shoes all
round; and Obed's coat and breeches is as good as new, if they be made
out of his pa's weddin' suit. That's the good o' good cloth. It'll last
most forever. Joe hed 'em first, then Sam wore 'em quite a spell, and
they cut over jest right for Obey. My black paduasoy can be fixed up, I
guess. But, my stars! Dolly, what hev' you got?"

"Well, Mother, you know I ain't got a real good gown. There's the
black lutestring petticoat Sylvy fetched me two years ago; but there
ain't any gown to it. We calculated I could wear that linsey jacket to
meeting, under my coat; but 'twouldn't do rightly for a weddin'."

"That's gospel truth. You can't wear that, anyhow. You've got to hev
somethin'. 'Twon't do to go to Sylvy's weddin' in linsey woolsy; but I
don't believe there's more'n two hard dollars in the house. There's a
few Continentals; but I don't count on them. Joe, you go over to the
mill fust thing in the morning and ask Sylvester to lend me his old
mare a spell to-morrer, to ride over to Nepash, to the store."

"Why don't ye send Doll?" asked Joe, with a wicked glance at the girl
that set her blushing again.

"Hold your tongue, Joseph, 'n' mind me. It's bedtime now, but I'll wake
ye up airly," energetically remarked Hannah. And next day, equipped in
cloak and hood, she climbed the old mare's fat sides and jogged off on
her errand; and by noon-mark was safe and sound home again, looking a
little perplexed, but by no means cast down.

"Well, Dolly," said she, as soon as cloak and hood were laid aside,
"there's the beautifulest piece of chintz over to the store you ever
see--jest enough for a gown. It's kind of buff-coloured ground,
flowered all over with roses, deep-red roses, as nateral as life.
Squire Dart wouldn't take no money for 't. He's awful sharp about them
new bills. Sez they ain't no more'n corn husks. Well, we ain't got a
great lot of 'em, so there's less to lose, and some folks will take
'em; but he'll let me have the chintz for 'leven yards o' soldier's
cloth--blue, ye know, like what we sent pa and the boys. And I spent
them two silver dollars on a white gauze neckkercher and a piece of red
satin ribbin for ye, for I'm set on that chintz. Now hurry up 'nd fix
the loom right off. The web's ready, then we'll card the wool. I'll
lay ye a penny we'll have them 'leven yards wove by Friday. To-day's
Tuesday, Thanksgiving comes a Thursday week, an' ef we have the chintz
by sundown a Saturday there'll be good store of time for Mahaly Green
and you to make it afore Wednesday night. We'll hev a kind of a
Thanksgiving, after all. But I wisht your pa----" The sentence ended in
Hannah's apron at her eyes, and Dolly looked sober; but in a minute she
dimpled and brightened, for the pretty chintz gown was more to her than
half a dozen costly French dresses to a girl of to-day. But a little
cloud suddenly put out the dimples.

"But, Mother, if somebody else should buy it?"

"Oh, they won't. I've fixed that. I promised to fetch the cloth inside
of a week, and Squire Dart laid away the chintz for me till that time.
Fetch the wool, Dolly, before you set up the web, so's I can start."

The wool was carded, spun, washed, and put into the dye tub, one "run"
of yarn that night; and another spun and washed by next day's noon--for
the stuff was to be checked, and black wool needed no dyeing. Swiftly
hummed the wheel, merrily flew the shuttle, and the house steamed with
inodorous dye; but nobody cared for that, if the cloth could only
be finished. And finished it was--the full measure and a yard over;
and on Saturday morning Sylvester's horse was borrowed again, and
Hannah came back from the village beaming with pleasure, and bringing
besides the chintz a yard of real cushion lace, to trim the ruffles
for Dolly's sleeves, for which she had bartered the over yard of cloth
and two dozen fresh eggs. Then even busier times set in. Mahala Green
had already arrived, for she was dressmaker as well as tailoress, and
was sponging and pressing over the black paduasoy that had once been
dove-coloured and was Hannah's sole piece of wedding finery, handed
down from her grandmother's wardrobe at that. A dark green grosgrain
petticoat and white lawn ruffles made a sufficiently picturesque attire
for Hannah, whose well-silvered hair set off her still sparkling
eyes and clear healthy skin. She appeared in this unwonted finery on
Thanksgiving morning to her admiring family, having added a last touch
of adornment by a quaint old jet necklace, that glittered on the pure
lawn neckkerchief with as good effect as a chain of diamonds and much
more fitness. Betty, in her striped blue-and-white chintz, a clean
dimity petticoat, and a blue ribbon round her short brown curls, looked
like a cabbage rosebud--so sturdy and wholesome and rosy that no more
delicate symbol suits her.

Obed was dreadful in the old-fashioned costume of coat and breeches,
ill-fitting and shiny with wear, and his freckled face and round
shock head of tan-coloured hair thrown into full relief by a big,
square collar of coarse tatten lace laid out on his shoulders like
a barber's towel, and illustrating the great red ears that stood
out at right angles above it. But Obed was only a boy. He was not
expected to be more than clean and speechless; and, to tell the truth,
Eben, being in the hobbledehoy stage of boyhood--gaunt, awkward, and
self-sufficient--rather surpassed his small brother in unpleasant
aspect and manner. But who would look at the boys when Dolly stood
beside them, as she did now, tall and slender, with the free grace of
an untrammelled figure, her small head erect, her eyes dark and soft as
a deer's, neatly clothed feet (not too small for her height) peeping
from under the black lutestring petticoat, and her glowing brunette
complexion set off by the picturesque buff-and-garnet chintz gown,
while her round throat and arms were shaded by delicate gauze and
snowy lace, and about her neck lay her mother's gold beads, now and
then tangling in the heavy black curls that, tied high on her head with
a garnet ribbon, still dropped in rich luxuriance to her trim waist.

The family approved of Dolly, no doubt, though their phrases of
flattery were as homely as heartfelt.

"Orful slick-lookin', ain't she?" confided Joe to Eben; while sinful
Sam shrieked out: "Land o' Goshen! ain't our Dolly smart? Shan't I
fetch Sylvester over?"

For which I regret to state Dolly smartly boxed his ears.

But the pung was ready, and Sam's howls had to die out uncomforted.
With many parting charges from Hannah about the fires and fowls, the
cow, the hasty pudding, already put on for its long boil, and the
turkey that hung from a string in front of the fire and must be watched
well, since it was the Thanksgiving dinner, the "weddingers," as Joe
called them, were well packed in with blankets and hot stones and set
off on their long drive.

The day was fair and bright, the fields of snow purely dazzling; but
the cold was fearful, and in spite of all their wraps, the keen winds
that whistled over those broad hilltops where the road lay seemed
to pierce their very bones, and they were heartily glad to draw up,
by twelve o'clock, at the door of the parsonage and be set before a
blazing fire, and revived with sundry mugs of foaming and steaming
flip, made potent with a touch of old peach brandy; for in those
ancient days, even in parsonages, the hot poker knew its office and
sideboards were not in vain.

There was food, also, for the exhausted guests, though the refection
was slight and served informally in the kitchen corner, for the
ceremonial Thanksgiving dinner was to be deferred till after the
wedding. And as soon as all were warmed and refreshed they were ushered
into the great parlour, where a Turkey carpet, amber satin curtains,
spider-legged chairs and tables, and a vast carved sofa, cushioned also
with amber, made a regal and luxurious show in the eyes of our rustic

But when Sylvy came in with the parson, who could look at furniture?
Madam Everett had lavished her taste and her money on the lovely
creature as if she were her own daughter, for she was almost as dear to
that tender, childless soul. The girl's lustrous gold-brown hair was
dressed high upon her head in soft puffs and glittering curls, and a
filmy thread-lace scarf pinned across it with pearl-headed pins. Her
white satin petticoat showed its rich lustre under a lutestring gown of
palest rose brocaded with silver sprigs and looped with silver ribbon
and pink satin roses. Costly lace clung about her neck and arms, long
kid gloves covered her little hands and wrists and met the delicate
sleeve ruffles, and about her white throat a great pink topaz clasped a
single string of pearls. Hannah could scarce believe her eyes. Was this
her Sylvy?--she who even threw Madam Everett, with her velvet dress,
powdered hair, and Mechlin laces, quite into the background!

"I did not like it, Mammy dear," whispered Sylvy, as she clung round
her astonished mother's neck. "I wanted a muslin gown; but madam had
laid this by long ago, and I could not thwart or grieve her, she is so
very good to me."

"No more you could, Sylvy. The gown is amazing fine, to be sure; but
as long as my Sylvy's inside of it I won't gainsay the gown. It ain't
a speck too pretty for the wearer, dear." And Hannah gave her another
hug. The rest scarce dared to touch that fair face, except Dolly, who
threw her arms about her beautiful sister, with little thought of her
garments, but a sudden passion of love and regret sending the quick
blood to her dark brows and wavy hair in a scarlet glow.

Master Loomis looked on with tender eyes. He felt the usual masculine
conviction that nobody loved Sylvy anywhere near as much as he did;
but it pleased him to see that she was dear to her family. The parson,
however, abruptly put an end to the scene.

"H-m! my dear friends, let us recollect ourselves. There is a time for
all things. Yea, earth yieldeth her increase--h-m! The Lord ariseth to
shake visibly the earth--ahem! Sylvia, will you stand before the sophy?
Master Lummis on the right side. Let us pray."

But even as he spoke the words a great knocking pealed through the
house: the brass lion's head on the front door beat a reveille loud and
long. The parson paused, and Sylvia grew whiter than before; while
Decius, the parson's factotum, a highly respectable old negro (who,
with his wife and daughter, sole servants of the house, had stolen in
to see the ceremony), ambled out to the vestibule in most undignified
haste. There came sounds of dispute, much tramping of boots, rough
voices, and quick words; then a chuckle from Decius, the parlour door
burst open, and three bearded, ragged, eager men rushed in upon the
little ceremony.

There was a moment's pause of wonder and doubt, then a low cry from
Hannah, as she flew into her husband's arms; and in another second
the whole family had closed around the father and brothers, and for
once the hardy, stern, reticent New England nature, broken up from
its foundations, disclosed its depths of tenderness and fidelity.
There were tears, choking sobs, cries of joy. The madam held her lace
handkerchief to her eyes with real need of it; Master Loomis choked for
sympathy; and the parson blew his nose on the ceremonial bandanna like
the trumpet of a cavalry charge.

"Let us pray!" said he, in a loud but broken voice; and holding fast
to the back of the chair, he poured out his soul and theirs before the
Lord with all the fervour and the fluency of real feeling. There was
no stumbling over misapplied texts now, no awkward objections in his
throat, but only glowing Bible words of thankfulness and praise and
joy. And every heart was uplifted and calm as they joined in the "Amen."

John's story was quickly told. Their decimated regiment was disbanded,
to be reformed of fresh recruits, and a long furlough given to the
faithful but exhausted remnant. They had left at once for home, and
their shortest route lay through Litchfield. Night was near when
they reached the town, but they must needs stop to get one glimpse
of Sylvy and tidings from home, for fear lay upon them lest there
might be trouble there which they knew not of. So they burst in upon
the wedding. But Master Loomis began to look uneasy. Old Dorcas had
slipped out, to save the imperilled dinner, and Pokey, the maid (_née_
Pocahontas!) could be heard clinking glass and silver and pushing about
chairs; but the happy family were still absorbed in each other.

"Mister Everett!" said the madam, with dignity, and the little minister
trotted rapturously over to her chair to receive certain low orders.

"Yes, verily, yes--h-m! A--my friends, we are assembled in this place
this evening----"

A sharp look from madam recalled him to the fact that this was not a

"A--that is--yes, of a truth our purpose this afternoon was to----"

"That's so!" energetically put in Captain John. "Right about face!
Form!" and the three Continentals sprung to their feet and assumed
their position, while Sylvy and Master Loomis resumed theirs, a
flitting smile in Sylvia's tearful eyes making a very rainbow.

So the ceremony proceeded to the end, and was wound up with a short
prayer, concerning which Captain Perkins irreverently remarked to his
wife some days after:

"Parson smelt the turkey, sure as shootin', Hannah. He shortened up so
'mazin' quick on that prayer. I tell you I was glad on't. I knew how he
felt. I could ha' ate a wolf myself."

Then they all moved in to the dinner table--a strange group, from
Sylvia's satin and pearls to the ragged fatigue-dress of her father and
brothers; but there was no help for that now, and really it troubled
nobody. The shade of anxiety in madam's eye was caused only by a doubt
as to the sufficiency of her supplies for three unexpected and ravenous
guests; but a look at the mighty turkey, the crisp roast pig, the
cold ham, the chicken pie, and the piles of smoking vegetables, with
a long vista of various pastries, apples, nuts, and pitchers of cider
on the buffet, and an inner consciousness of a big Indian pudding, for
twenty-four hours simmering in the pot over the fire, reassured her,
and perhaps heartened up the parson, for after a long grace he still
kept his feet and added, with a kindly smile:

"Brethren and friends, you are heartily welcome. Eat and be glad, for
seldom hath there been such cause and need to keep a Thanksgiving!"

And they all said Amen!


[30] Adapted from "Huckleberries," Houghton, Mifflin Co.



    An exciting story of a battle with a crazy moose. It
    has a Thanksgiving flavour, too.

"What shall we have for Thanksgiving dinner?" was a question which
distressed more than one household that year. Indeed, it was often a
question what to have for dinner, supper, or breakfast on any day.
For that was the strangely unpropitious, unproductive season of 1816,
quaintly known in local annals as "1800 and Froze to Death."

It was shortly after the close of the War of 1812 with England. Our
country was then poor and but little cultivated. There was no golden
West to send carloads of wheat and corn; no Florida or California to
send fruit; there were no cars, no railroads. What the people of the
Eastern States had they must raise for themselves, and that year there
were no crops.

Nothing grew, nothing ripened properly. Winter lingered even in the lap
of May. As late as the middle of June there was a heavy snowstorm in
New England. Frosts occurred every fortnight of the season. The seed
potatoes, corn, and beans, when planted, either rotted in the ground
or came up to be killed by the frosts. The cold continued through July
and August. A little barley, still less wheat and rye, a few oats, in
favourable situations, were the only cereals harvested, and these were
much pinched in the kernel.

Actual starvation threatened hundreds of farmers' families as this
singular summer and autumn advanced. The corn crop, then the main
staple in the East, was wholly cut off. Two and three dollars a
bushel--equal to ten dollars to-day--were paid for corn that year--by
those who had the money to purchase it. Many of the poorer families
subsisted in part on the boiled sprouts of raspberry and other shrubs.
Starving children stole forth into the fields of the less indigent
farmers by night, and dug up the seed potatoes and sprouted corn to eat

Moreover, there appeared to be little or no game in the forest; many
roving bears were seen, and wolves were bold. All wild animals, indeed,
behaved abnormally, as if they, too, felt that nature was out of joint.
The eggs of the grouse or partridge failed to hatch; even woodchucks
were lean and scarce. So of the brooding hens at the settler's barn:
the eggs would not hatch, and the hens, too, it is said, gave up laying
eggs, perhaps from lack of food. Even the song birds fell into the
"dumps" and neglected to rear young.

The dreary, fruitless autumn drew on; and Thanksgiving Day bade fair to
be such a hollow mockery that in several states the governors did not
issue proclamations.

Maine at that time was a part of the state of Massachusetts. My
impression is that the governor appointed November 28th as Thanksgiving
Day, but I am not sure. It is likely that not much unction attended the
announcement. The notices of it did not reach many localities in Maine.
In the neighbourhood where my grandparents lived, in Oxford County,
nothing was heard of it; but at a schoolhouse meeting, on November
21st, our nearest neighbour, Jonas Edwards, made a motion "that the
people of the place keep the 28th of the month as Thanksgiving Day--the
best they could."

The motion prevailed; and then the poor housewives began to ask the
question, "What shall we have for Thanksgiving dinner?" At our house it
is still remembered that one of my young great-uncles cried in reply,
"Oh, if we could only have a good big johnnycake!"

And it was either that very night, or the night after, that the
exciting news came of the arrival of a shipload of corn at Bath and

At Brunswick, seat of the then infant Bowdoin College, Freeport,
Topsham, and other towns near the coast of Maine, where the people were
interested in maritime ventures, it had become known that a surplus of
corn was raised in Cuba, and could be purchased at a fair price. An old
schooner, commanded by one Capt. John Simmons, was fitted out to sail
for a cargo of the precious cereal. For three months not a word was
heard from schooner or skipper.

Captain Simmons had purchased corn, however, and loaded his crazy old
craft full to the deck with it. Heavy weather and head winds held him
back on his voyage home. Water got to the corn, and some of it swelled
to such an extent that the old schooner was like to burst. But it got
in at last, early in November, with three thousand bushels of this West
India corn.

How the news of this argosy flew even to towns a day's journey up from
the coast!

A great hunger for corncake swept through that part of the state; and
in our own little neighbourhood a searching canvass of the resources
of the five log farmhouses followed. As a result of it, young Jonathan
Edwards and my then equally youthful Great-uncle Nathaniel set off the
next day to drive to Brunswick with a span of old white horses hitched
in a farm wagon without springs, carrying four rather poor sheep, four
bushels of barley, and fifteen pounds of wool, which they hoped to
exchange for five bushels of that precious corn. On top of it all there
were three large bagfuls of hay for the horses. The boys also took an
axe and an old flintlock gun, for much of the way was then through

It was a long day's drive for horses in poor condition, but they
reached Brunswick that night. There, however, they found the cargo of
corn so nearly sold out, or bartered away, that they were able to get
but three bushels to bring home.

The corn was reckoned at nine dollars, the four sheep at only six
dollars, and it had been difficult "dickering" the fifteen pounds of
wool and the two bushels of barley as worth three dollars more. The
extra two bushels of barley went for their keep overnight. Such was
produce exchange in 1816.

The next morning they started for home, lightly loaded with their
dearly bought corn. Their route lay along the Androscoggin River, and
they had got as far on their way as the present factory town of Auburn,
where the Little Androscoggin flows into the larger river of the same
name, when they had an adventure which resulted in very materially
increasing the weight of their load.

It was a raw, cloudy day, and had begun to "spit snow"; and as it drew
toward noon, they stopped beside the road at a place where a large pine
and several birches leaned out from the brink of the deep gorge through
which the Little Androscoggin flows to join the larger stream. Here
they fed their horses on the last of the three bagfuls of hay, but had
nothing to cook or eat in the way of food themselves. The weather was
chilly, and my young Great-uncle Nathaniel said to Jonathan:

"If you will get some dry birchbark, I will flash the pan. We will
kindle a fire and warm up."

Jonathan brought the bark, and meanwhile Nathaniel drew the charge from
the old "Queen's arm," then ignited some powder in the pan with the
flintlock, and started a blaze going.

The blaze, however, had soon to be fed with dry fuel, and noticing a
dead firtop lying on the ground a few steps away, Jonathan took the
axe and ran to break it up; and the axe strokes among the dry stuff
made a considerable crackling.

Throwing down the axe at last, Jonathan gathered up a large armful of
the dry branches, and had turned to the fire, when they both heard
a strange sound, like a deep grunt, not far away, followed by sharp
crashes of the brush down in the basin.

"What's that?" Nathaniel exclaimed. "It's a bear I guess," and he
snatched up the empty gun to reload it. Jonathan, too, threw down his
armful of boughs and turned back to get the axe.

Before they could do either, however, the strange grunts and crashes
came nearer, and a moment later a pair of broad antlers and a huge
black head appeared, coming up from the gorge.

At sight of the snorting beast, Jonathan turned suddenly. "It's a
moose, Nat!" he cried. "A big bull moose! Shoot him! Shoot him!"

Nat was making frantic efforts, but the gun was not reloaded.
Recharging an old "Queen's arm" was a work of time.

Fortunately for the boys, the attention of the moose was full fixed on
the horses. With another furious snort, it gained the top of the bank
and bounded toward where they stood hitched, chewing their hay.

The tired white horses looked up suddenly from their hay, and
perceiving this black apparition of the forest, snorted and tugged at
their halters.

With a frightful bellow, half squeal, half roar, the moose rose twelve
feet tall on his hind legs, and rushed at the one hitched nearest.
The horse broke its halter, ran headlong against its mate, recoiled,
bumped into a tree trunk, and then--the trees standing thick in front
of it--backed over the bank and went out of sight down the bluff, the
moose bounding after it, still bellowing hoarsely.

The other horse had also broken its halter and ran off, while the two
boys stood amazed and alarmed at this tremendous exhibition of animal

"Nat! Nat! He will kill that horse!" Jonathan exclaimed, and they both
ran to look over the bank. Horse and moose were now down near the
water, where the river ran deep and swift under the steep bank, the
horse trying vainly to escape through the tangled alder brush, the
moose savagely pursuing.

The sight roused the boys to save their horse. Axe in hand, Jonathan
ran and slid down the bluff side, catching hold of trees and bushes as
he did so, to keep from going quite into the river. Nat followed him,
with the gun which he had hastily primed. Both horse and moose were now
thrashing amidst the alder clumps.

"Shoot him, shoot him!" Jonathan shouted. "Why don't you fire? Oh, let
me have that gun!"

It is not as easy as an onlooker often thinks to shoot an animal, even
a large one, in rapid motion, particularly among trees and brush;
something constantly gets in the way. Both animals were now tearing
along the brink of the deep stream, stumbling headlong one second, up
the next, plunging on. As often as Nat tried to steady himself on the
steep side of the bluff for a shot, either the horse was in the way or
both animals were wholly concealed by the bushes. Moreover, the boys
had to run fast through the brush to keep them in sight. Nat could not
shoot with certainty, and Jonathan grew wild over the delay.

"Shoot him yourself, then!" Nat retorted, panting.

Jonathan snatched the gun and dashed forward, Nat picking up the axe
and following after. On they ran for several hundred yards, barely
keeping pace with the animals. Jonathan experienced quite as much
difficulty in getting a shot as Nat had done.

At last he aimed and snapped--and the gun did not go off.

"You never primed it!" he exclaimed indignantly. Nat thought that he
had done so, but was not wholly certain; and feeling that he must
do his part somehow, he now dashed past Jonathan, and running on,
attempted to head the horse off at a little gully down the bank to
which they had now come. It was a brushy place; he fell headlong
into it himself, and rolled down, still grasping hard at the axe. He
was close upon the horse now, within a few yards of the water, and
looking up, he saw the moose's head among the alder brush. The creature
appeared to be staring at him, and regaining his feet, much excited,
Nat threw the axe with all his strength at the moose's head.

By chance rather than skill, the poll of the axe struck the animal
just above the eyes at the root of the antlers. It staggered, holding
its head to one side a moment, as if half-stunned or in pain. Then,
recovering, it snorted, and with a bound through the brush, jumped into
the stream, and either swam or waded across to the low sandy bank on
the other side. There it stood, still shaking its head.

Jonathan had caught up with Nat by this time, and they both stood
watching the moose for some moments, hoping that the mad animal had now
had enough of the fracas and would go his way. The horse was in the
brush of the little gully, sticking fast there, or tired out by its
exertions; and they now began considering how they could best extricate
it and get it back up the bluff.

Just then, however, their other horse neighed long and shrill from the
top of the bank, calling to its mate. The frightened horse beside them
neighed back in reply.

These equine salutations produced an unexpected result. Another hoarse
snort and a splash of the water was the response from across the stream.

"He's coming again!" exclaimed Jonathan. "Have you got the powder-horn,
Nat? Give it to me quick, if you've got it!" Nathaniel had had the
powder-horn up on the bank, but had dropped it there, or lost it out of
his pocket in his scramble down the bluff.

There was no time to search for it. The moose was plunging through the
narrow stream, and a moment later sprang ashore and came bounding up
the gully toward the horse.

The boys shouted to frighten him off. The crazy creature appeared
neither to hear nor heed. Jonathan hastily took refuge behind a rock;
Nat jumped to cover of a tree trunk.

In his rush at the horse, the moose passed close to them. Again Nat
hurled the axe at the animal's side. Jonathan, snatching up a heavy
stone, threw it with all his might. The horse, too, wheeling in the
narrow bed of the gully, kicked spitefully, lashing out its iron-shod
hoofs again and again, planting them hard on the moose's front.

For some moments this singular combat raged there. Recovering the axe
and coming up behind the animal, Nat now attempted to deal a blow. The
moose wheeled, however, as if struck by sudden panic, and went clear
over Nat, who was thrown headlong and slid down into the water.

The moose bounded clear over him, and again went splashing through
the Little Androscoggin to the other side, where it turned as before,
shaking its antlers and rending the brush with them.

Nathaniel had caught hold of a bush, and thus saved himself from going
fully into the swift current. Jonathan helped him get out, and the two
young fellows stared at each other. The encounter had given them proof
of the mad strength and energy of the moose.

"Oh, if we could only find that powder-horn somewhere!" Jonathan

The horse up on the bluff sent forth again its shrill neigh, to which
the one beside them responded.

And just as before, the moose, with an awful bellow, came plunging
through the little river and bounding up the gully.

"My soul! Here he comes again!" Jonathan fairly yelled. "Get out o' the

And Nat got out of the way as quickly as possible, taking refuge behind
the same rock in the side of the gully.

Again the place resounded to a frightful medley of squeals, bellowings,
and crashes in the brush. This time Jonathan had caught up the axe,
and approaching the furious mêlée of whirling hoofs and gnashing teeth
from one side, attempted to get in a blow. In their wild movements the
enraged animals nearly ran over him, but he struck and stumbled.

The blow missed the moose's head, but fell on the animal's foreleg,
just below the knee, and broke the bone. The moose reared, and wheeling
on its hind legs, plunged down the gully, falling partly into the
river, much as Nat had done.

A dozen times it now struggled to get up, almost succeeding, but
fell back each time. With the ardour of battle still glowing in him,
Jonathan rushed forward with the axe, and finally managed to deal
the moose a deathblow; with a knife they then bled it, and stood by,

"We've muttoned him! We've muttoned him!" Nat shouted. "But I never had
such a fight as that before."

The horse, as it proved, was not seriously injured, but they were
obliged to cut away the alder brush in the gully to get the animal back
up the bluff, and were occupied for fully an hour doing so.

The body of the moose was a huge one; it must have weighed fully
fourteen hundred pounds. The boys could no more have moved it than they
could move a mountain. Moreover, it was now beginning to snow fine and

Jonathan had a fairly good knife, however, and by using the axe they
succeeded in rudely butchering the carcass and dismembering it. Even
then the quarters were so heavy that their full strength was required
to drag them up the bluff and load them into the wagon. The head, with
its broad, branching antlers, was all that they could lift to the top
of their now bulky load.

The task had taken till past four o'clock of that stormy November
afternoon. Twilight was upon them, the wintry twilight of a snowstorm,
before they made start; and it was long past midnight when they finally
plodded home.

There were corncake and moose venison for Thanksgiving dinner.



[31] From the _Youth's Companion_, November 26, 1908.



       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

Page x, "Swet" changed to "Swett" (By Sophie Swett)

Page 60 and 63, the wife of the parson calls herself Mrs. "Camberly"
while the parson calls himself "Camberley" as each is used only once
and in the spirit of marital harmony, both were retained.

Page 84, "beggers" changed to "beggars" (We are not beggars)

Page 199, period added after "Mrs" (Mrs. Burns is 'as happy as)

Page 256, "worm" is correct as printed as it is another name for a
split rail fence.

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