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 My thimbles






Group Title: My thimbles : a story from the "Child's friend,"
Title: My thimbles
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00002141/00001
 Material Information
Title: My thimbles a story from the "Child's friend,"
Physical Description: 35 p. : ; 16 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Hall, Louisa J ( Louisa Jane ), 1802-1892 ( Author, Primary )
Crosby, Nichols, and Company ( Publisher )
John Wilson and Son
Publisher: Crosby, Nichols and Co.
Place of Publication: Boston
Manufacturer: John Wilson and Son
Publication Date: 1852
 Subjects
Subject: Girls -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Benevolence -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Sewing -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Publishers' paper bindings (Binding) -- 1852   ( rbbin )
Bldn -- 1852
Genre: Publishers' paper bindings (Binding)   ( rbbin )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States -- Massachusetts -- Boston
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by Mrs. E.B. Hall.
Funding: Brittle Books Program
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00002141
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002250687
oclc - 23358928
notis - ALK2435
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PALMM Version

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Title Page
        Page 1
        Page 2
    My thimbles
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
Full Text







MY THIMBLES:


A STORY FROM THE CIIILD'S FRIEND."


BY MRS. E. B. HALL.


BOSTON:

CROSBY, NICHOLS, AND CO.
111, WASHINOTOX STREET.
1852.


f"










MY THIMBLES:





A STORY FROM THE "CHILD'S FRIEND."





BY MRS. E. B. HALL.











BOSTON:
CROSBY, NICHOLS, AND CO.
111, WASHINGTON STREET.
1852.





































BOSTON:

PRINTED BY JOHN WILSON AND SON,

22 SCHOOL-STaEET.













MY THIMBLES.


How well do I remember the first thimble I
ever wore a little brass thing, which blacked
my finger, and was so small that my father
laughed when he saw it. When I was a little
girl, the grown-up people thought it of great
importance that a woman should be mistress of
the needle: indeed they never thought of any
thing else. It never entered the heads of my
mother, grandmothers, and aunts, that igno-
rance of needle-work could be any thing but
disgraceful, so to school I was sent when I
was four years old. There I was to be taught
reading, spelling, and sewing; and the alphabet
and patchwork came together.







MY THIMBLES.


I was frightened at first, when I saw two
rows of children sitting on little benches, all
staring at me; and the school-ma'am, in a
chair with a tall back, fixing her great black
eyes upon me too, and then found that my
mother was really going to leave me there. I
clutched the skirt of her dress pretty tightly,
and screwed up a doleful face no doubt, though
I was actually afraid to cry aloud. But Miss
Clarke produced some squares of beautiful
calico, all gay with red flowers; and my mother
drew out the wonderful little brass thimble,
which fitted my stubby middle finger exactly;
and while I was absorbed in poking my needle
through both edges of the seam, a thing not
accomplished till after several trials, my mother
vanished.
I think Miss Clarke must have been a good
teacher; she must have had the gift, the knack,
of instruction. She made us mind, to be sure,
and not without a wholesome sense of fear.
She tapped our little restless heads with her







MY THIMBLES.


own great thimble, and she clapped a paper
fool's-cap on the heads of some of the dunces
or little rebels who tried even her patience too
far; and, worst of all, she sometimes kept a
poor weary culprit after school to finish a stint,
or learn an additional column in that horrid
spelling-book. But, on the whole, I remember
the days of the little brass thimble with great
tenderness. And well do I remember the ter-
rible catastrophe of its loss. I had kept it a
whole summer, my mother says, a wonderful
time for such a little girl; but I was really
fond of it, and always put it in my small calico
work-bag, and carried it home with me. But
one day I was trotting home in high spirits,
swinging my bag vigorously, a thing which
had been forbidden, and I suppose the thim-
ble very naturally fell out when the bag was
upside down, and was lost in the high grass.
At all events, I never saw it again, though I
cried for it bitterly, and my two brothers very
kindly hunted for it all the way through the
1*


5






MY THIMBLES.


garden and across the orchard up to the school-
house door-step. James said our old rooster
must have swallowed it.
I thought I never should get another that
suited me. Some pinched me, so that, when I
took them off, a red thimble was left; some
were so loose, they were all the time dropping,
and rolling on the floor, to the great interrup-
tion of my industry, and disturbance of Miss
Clarke. If there had been furnace-registers in
those days, I should certainly have lost half-a-
dozen down that mysterious hole in the floor,
which so excites the speculation of very small
children and inquisitive cats. Even the ma-
gical piece of wet paper rolled round the tip of
my finger did not prevent one very shiny affair
from finding its way under the skirts of Miss
Clarke herself, who, as she rose to the rescue,
trod upon the little article, and flattened it into
uselessness.
I cannot say I was always sorry for these
disasters, for I was not always in the sewing-






MY THIMBLES.


mood. After I had learned to read fables and
little stories, "hemming" and "sewing over
and over" did seem very dull business; and I
was continually stepping up to Miss Clarke's
knee with, Please join on for me -" Please
sew over this bunchy place "- Please get
out this knot in my thread"- "I can't
thread my needle, Miss Clarke," -" My
thimble does plague me so, mayn't I put up my
work?" and so on. Now, Miss Clarke was
very gentle and kind, but very resolute for my
good. Sometimes she helped me out of my
troubles, sometimes she showed me how to help
myself out; but very seldom did she let me put
up my work till the "stint" was done. And
so, with much inward fuming and fretting, I
learned to sew, and very neatly too; for what
was done ill must be picked out.
Oh! what a dreary penalty that was, that
stopping after school to pick out! One hot
summer afternoon I shall never forget. I was
past the incessant patchwork; for I had pieced






MY THIMBLES.


out a bright quilt for my brother's bed, and the
patterns of those calicoes (fragments of my
mother's gowns, and aunt Hannah's and my
own) I should recognize a hundred years hence
if I could see them. I was past hemming
pocket handkerchiefs too; for I had provided
each of my kith and kin, having begun with a
small square of cotton for myself, stamped all
askew with the Ten Commandments. Now I
was honored with the task of making a pillow-
case, and the novelty rather pleased me at first.
I believe that for two afternoons I only dropped
my thimble three times, and once was quite
accidentally into the pail of drinking-water.
But I was felling that long, long seam, and
the sun poured in among us very hot; the flies
buzzed very loud, and Miss Clarke did seem a
little cross. The seam actually appeared to
grow longer, instead of shorter, before me; for
I measured it every two minutes. My thread
would break, or get into a "'witch-knot;" every
other stitch, my needle would stick and "creak,"







MY THIMBLES.


as if it hated to work; and my thimble the
very same thimble -would be too big at one
time and too small at another, so that I had to
keep exchanging with my neighbors all around.
I believe we were all lazy; for I never saw
Miss Clarke's thimble so busy on little girls'
sconces; and, of the boys, one was stuck
behind her chair, another in the wood-closet,
and a third with the fool's-cap on his head stood
fidgeting in the corner. I knew something
about Joshua, and it actually occurred to me
that the sun stood still once more, so endlessly
long was the afternoon.
At last, I heard somebody on the large bench
say it was almost five. First I started for joy,
and then I looked at my seam. My stint was
not half done! At it I went, poking my rusty
needle in hap-hazard, dragging it out with all
violence, striving to make up by hurry at the
last moment for the want of proper diligence in
season. I was within an inch of the end of my
turnpike seam, when Miss Clarke uttered the







MY THIMBLES.


welcome words, School is dismissed." Alas!
not for me. On examination, my work was
found "horribly done." Such long stitches,
such gobbling and puckering, were not to be
endured; and I was doomed to sit alone in the
deserted room, pick out every stitch of the last
quarter of a yard, and do it over again. It
was of no use to pout; Miss Clarke never
scolded much, she did not seem a bit angry;
but she did not yield to my crying and pouting.
She took a book out of her pocket, and sat
down in the door-way very quietly; and, when
I found there was no help for me, I went to
work, and did as I was bid. It was a very un-
comfortable business, and very tedious ; but the
whole thing did me a great deal of good. I
thought Miss Clarke very cruel at the time,
when I heard the children frolicking under the
trees, while I was a prisoner with the hateful
needle and thimble. But I did not think so
when I carried home my pillow-case finished;
and my mother examined it carefully, and said






MY THIMBLES.


it was very nicely made for a little girl. I told
her somewhat complainingly how I had been
kept after school; and, she said, Miss Clarke
had done just right; that I should never be a
good sempstress if she allowed me to dawdle
over my work, or to hurry it.
. My first silver thimble had been anticipated
through a whole winter with no small interest.
Already I had learned that brass was not so
valuable as silver, nor silver as gold. I saw
that my mother and aunts wore silver thimbles,
while our cook and chamber-maid had brass
ones. Our dress-maker, or mantua-maker as
we called her in those days, had both; and the
tailoress came to make my brother's jackets,
with a queer thing without a top, which always
puzzled me. Five girls only at our school had
silver thimbles; and they were big girls, over
ten years old. So, first by delicate intimations,
and then by open importunity, my ambition for
an article rather beyond my years was made
known; and all due advantage was taken of my


11







MY THIMBLES.


eagerness to win it. My father promised me
the boon, if my sampler should be finished by
my birth-day.
That sampler was a magnificent and elaborate
one, at least in the opinion of the little maiden
who delved through it, from big A down to
little figure 9, and the bunch of strawberries on
one side, the bunch of grapes on the other, and
her own name and age between. I had been
long perplexed to choose between this tempting
fruit-design, and a more imposing one, contain-
ing a monument and drooping willow, which
appealed strongly to the sentimental part of my
nature. But unfortunately I had not lost any
relations, and I did not wish to put Sacred to
the memory of- unless I could fill the blank
with some real name. And then one of the big
girls who had worked it to be framed for her
mother's parlor, in honor of a dead grandmother,
told me that it was a mourning-piece, and that,
if I worked it, perhaps my mother would die;
which frightened me so, that I speedily decided







MY THIMBLES.


on the strawberries and grapes. What great
yellow spots there were on the strawberries!
how out of all size were the dingy purple grapes,
no bigger in proportion than currants! But
the royal embroideress of the Bayeux tapestry
could not have gazed on her handiwork with
more unmingled satisfaction than I did, when
the last weary stitch was drawn forth, and Miss
Clarke held it up before the school, saying, -
"Done by a little girl, only nine years old to-
morrow." When I went home, my mother
kissed me, my father patted me on the head,
and told me I should choose my own thimble;
and my brothers made believe they were going
to eat up the grapes and strawberries.
The next day I went to the jeweller's with
my mother for the great purchase. I was not
so absorbed in my own business as to have no
eyes for the glittering wonders about me, and
would have gladly stayed all day. My mother
wore very few ornaments, and for the first time
I wondered at it. How she could resist the


13





MY THIMBLES.


rings and pins I could not imagine; and when
one of the clerks, observing my curiosity and
admiration, showed me a real diamond, such as
I had read of in story-books, I almost looked
upon it with reverence, so early are conventional
ideas caught from such books. I did long to
buy it for my mother, and thought how it
would sparkle as she poured out the tea. I
wondered if any but princesses ever wore
diamonds, and who in the world would ever buy
this particular diamond ring. My mother had
to call me more than once from my reverie over
the glittering bauble, and it was well for me
that there was quite a variety of patterns among
the silver thimbles "for misses." Some, that
had pretty wreaths drawn upon them, would not
fit; and those that did fit seemed to me not so
pretty as those that did not. In my hour of
prosperity, I am afraid I was rather hard to
please; but my good mother did not get out of
patience, and I was soon ashamed of being un-
reasonable. At last we found a thimble which


14






MY THIMBLES.


could not possibly be considered too large or too
small, with an ornament upon it, and a little
space wherein my initials were immediately cut,
to my infinite delight. And so I was the mis-
tress of my first silver thimble, and walked
exultingly home; feeling myself as old again
as I was the day before, and forgetting, until I
went to bed, that there were such things as
diamond rings in the world. What share they
had in my half-dreams, I will not say.
With that silver thimble I made my first
shirt! I mean one for my father. My noble
purpose was to be kept a profound secret from
him, and nobody found that task so hard as I
did. I was in the habit of sitting with him at
dusk, and telling him all my mighty affairs, in
which he always appeared interested. Once
I was just breaking out with 0 father! I
have got to the fine stitching on the wrist-
bands!" when I remembered myself, and
stopped with an ejaculation and a silly laugh.
Another time I asked him if he ever saw any


15





MY THIMBLES.


thing so funny as the little side-gussets; and,
when he inquired what I knew about gussets,
it was quite to my relief that my mother began
to talk to him about James's new school-books.
Day by day, and week by week, I worked on.
In the mean time, geography and history began
to interest me, and I had to study a little at
home in order to keep up with my classes. But
Miss Clarke never suffered any thing to inter-
fere with the two hours of needle-work every
afternoon; and as my mother helped me with my
lessons at home by hearing me read and recite
them, and explaining them to me, I had plenty
of time for exercise. A romp I was, that must
Sbe owned. No girl dared swing so high; none
could run so fast; none beat me at ball, hoop,
or jumping-rope. The swinging high was the
one thing in which my disobedience troubled
a kind mother; and of that I was cured by a
severe fall, which lamed me for a month.
And so by the slow, sure, industrious two
hours in a day, the shirt was finished the week


16






MY THIMBLES.


before New Year's Day. It was not a little
soiled, though my mother and Miss Clarke were
very particular; and I had no idea myself, that
it would be so regenerated by the process of
washing and ironing. When my mother called
me to see it on the clothes-horse, so nicely
starched, and pointed to the very button-hole,
over which I had a fretful crying fit a fortnight
before, I took a lesson of encouragement which
I have never forgotten. She showed me, too,
how much I had improved and learned during
the process of making it, and talked to me very
pleasantly about the real help I should soon be
able to give her in making clothes for my father
and brothers.
The next morning, my father found his new
shirt lying by his bedside, with a label pinned
on it, "Made by Lucy Jarvis Pemberton
for her beloved father; and, before I was out
of my little bedroom, he tapped at my door to
thank me for the best birth-day gift he had
ever had. I like to know that you are a
2*


17





MY THIMBLES.


good scholar, my child," said he; "but I am
still better pleased if you are going to be patient,
industrious, and willing to work for others." I
wondered if making a shirt proved all this; for
I remember feeling very lazy and reluctant
to go on with my job sometimes, half sorry
in my heart that I had undertaken it. But
now I was quite happy, and determined, since
everybody seemed to think it of consequence,
that I would be a good needle-woman.
It was not long that I had to rely wholly on
the approbation of others for stimulus. By the
time my first silver thimble was outgrown,
I had learned some fancy needle-work." I
had worked a bag and a ruffle; I knew how to
scollop and point, and hem-stitch; I could
"fagot," and do "seed-stitch," and satin-
stitch," and French knot, all old-fashioned now,
the very names grown obsolete. A real plea-
sure it was to see these wonderful things coming
out from the point of my needle, as it were.
As I grew more expert, I really enjoyed work


18






MY THIMBLES.


for its own sake, and it made a pleasant variety
from my lessons. Now and then, some inter-
esting book would charm me beyond the stated
hours for sewing; but my mother was vigilantly
careful that I should not get into irregular
habits, and did not suffer me to be tempted
much by works of fiction. Free access to them,
I suppose, would soon have made my stated
occupations very irksome.
At the age of twelve, I deposited my first
silver thimble, which had begun to pinch pretty
severely, in a little velvet bag, and laid it away
in my new morocco workbox. I have it yet.
I sometimes look at it, with grateful recol-
lections of a kind teacher and most judicious
mother.
And now I left Miss Clarke's school, and
went to a gentleman's seminary for young
ladies, where no needle-work was taught.
Here I had a great deal to do; and, within six
months after, I began to take lessons in music,
which, with the necessary practice and the time


19





MY THIMBLES.


required for exercise, used up all the waking
hours. I was amazed to find how days and
weeks slipped away, and how little sewing I
accomplished. I had actually begun to like it,
and did not mean to give it up; but what was I
to do At lkst, one day, when it stormed so
violently that I could not go to school, I deter-
mined to take some work, and sit down by
my ever-industrious mother. I found myself
looking for the easiest thing possible, a ruffle
or handkerchief to hem; and in ten minutes I
was tired. Disuse had had its customary effect.
I had used the needle so little of late that I
had lost my interest in it; and I proposed to
go and practise my last music-lesson again.
And now that which is usually and justly
considered the greatest calamity that can befall
a child, came upon me suddenly and fearfully.
I was left an orphan; my father and mother
were taken from me by an epidemic within a
fortnight, and my whole life was newly modelled.
I cannot dwell upon those events, so sad and


20






MY THIMBLES.


bewildering are the reflections connected with
them; but some of the results are connected
with my habits of industry, and the history
of "my thimbles."
I went to live with an aunt, who had no
children of her own, and whose affection and
ambition soon centred upon me; but, alas!
her views of the essentials in life and in cha-
racter differed materially from those of my
parents. In the simplicity of my childhood, I
had but a vague perception of this; although
conscious of such a general, universal change
about me, that it seemed as if the old world
in which I had lived for thirteen years had
floated away, and left me on the strand of a
new and strange one. It seemed to be an
object to have me put away childish things,"
even that very single-heartedness of childhood,
and become a young woman no, a young
lady at once; so I was sent to dancing-
school, and a fashionable day-school, and took
lessons in music.


21






MY THIMBLES.


For a while, I longed for the quiet hour of
needle-work, when I might have time to think.
But how could that be found, when every hour
of the day and evening was occupied so press-
ingly! Study study; -practise -practise;
write exercises, go to French conversation
parties in the evening, little exercise in the
open air, no sewing, no thinking! It
was so mortifying not to recite well among the
brilliant girls at our school! It would be so
disgraceful if I were not able to play at my
aunt's musical parties! And then came emu-
lations and little rivalries to keep up the excite-
ment; and I was whirled along from month to
month, from year to year, and did just what
others did, and did not do what others did not,
- and others did not touch a needle for weeks
together.
My outgrown silver thimble was replaced,
because somebody gave me a splendid little
workbox on the first Christmas after I went to
my aunt's; and I did struggle to use it occa-


22






MY THIMBLES.


sionally for a year or so. But with disuse my
skill diminished; and, as a natural consequence,
my interest died away also. My aunt kept a
sempstress in the family, and a part of her duty
was to make and mend my clothes; and so,
when I reached my twentieth year, I had a
fashionable contempt for plain sewing, could
not conjecture how a single garment that I
wore was cut or made, and lived upon a suc-
cession of exciting occupations of one sort or
another. I read four languages besides my
own, spoke three, played brilliantly, -
drew tolerably, danced well enough to be on
the floor evening after evening, till morning, -
could criticize a new novel or poem cleverly,
- write such graceful notes and letters, and
I had such headaches, and such seasons of ner-
vous depression It never occurred to any one
that so exhausting a mode of life must bring on
such effects.
I went to make a long-deferred visit to a
country cousin, when I was about twenty, and,


23





MY THIMBLES.


anticipating a very dull time, took my workbox
as a "dernier resort" against ennui. Pro-
bably I should not have thought of it as a
resource; but in preparing for my rustication,
and looking over a box of trinkets, I came
across the first silver thimble, which I had laid
away in fond recollection of those who gave it.
As I was vainly striving to insert my finger
into it, the remembrance of the happy day when
my mother stood in the jeweller's store with me,
patiently bearing with my impatience, and of
my father's approbation of my industry, and
of the tranquil, pleasant hours when I sat
sewing by my mother's side, came back so
vividly that the tears rolled down my cheeks.
I slipped the little old thimble into my elegant
workbox, as if it had been a precious talisman;
and that very afternoon I bought a quantity of
Berlin wools, canvas, and a stock of patterns.
Some of my friends had lately taken to working
slippers and chair-covers most vigorously; and
the possibility of returning from the stupid


24






MY THIMBLES.


ruralities of B -, a proficient in this new
fashionable accomplishment, was quite enticing.
I did bring home a gorgeous chair-cover for
my aunt. Thanks to the pains that had been
taken to educate my fingers in early life, they
soon became expert in the new and fascinating
task; and my aunt's chair was made up expen-
sively by the best upholsterer in the city, and
abundantly admired, and my industry com-
mended by all visitors, except one.
That one was a widow, an early friend of my
aunt's, who seldom came to see her; for their
pursuits were very different. She was a person
of some property and great respectability; but
her life was devoted to charitable objects, and
she never came to our house, I fancy, except on
some such errand. She it was who quietly
pronounced my work very beautiful, but did
not launch into those commendations of my
industry which, somehow or other, I had
expected from her especially. I could not
understand it then.
3


25






MY THIMBLES.


At twenty-two I was about to be married.
The thought of my parents was much with me
at this period of my life; and, one day, as
Henry sat beside me while I was working an
ottoman, I took the little precious thimble from
my box, and showed it to him, told him its
history, and talked to him of my parents. He
manifested great interest, and, by his questions,
soon brought more distinctly before me the dif-
ference between the views of those who had
begun my education, and those who had com-
pleted it. He looked thoughtful: I felt so. I
had long had a dim perception of a solemn fact,
- that I was wasting time, health, and strength.
I knew, that, when I used to wear that little
thimble, I was more industrious, more thought-
ful for others, more prayerful and religious,
more at peace, than I had ever been since. I
was meditating upon it now, trying to under-
stand how it was; and, as I turned the small
thimble about in my fingers, I determined that
the coming change in my life should be marked


26






MY THIMBLES.


by a more conscientious investigation of duty in
regard to the use of time. Henry could not
have read my thoughts; but he asked me if I
had more pleasure in working that fine thing on
my lap, than when I was making the first shirt
for my father; and added, with a smile, Who
knows ? I may be so poor yet, that I shall be
thankful for a wife who can make my shirts."
It was a little strange, that, with so many
costly gifts, I had never had a gold thimble;
but I was well pleased when Henry brought
me a very beautiful one the next day. I know
not what came over me, some serious thoughts
growing out of our conversation that morning, I
suppose; but I secretly resolved, that, with my
first gold thimble, I would do something actually
useful. But my habits did not favor such a
purpose. A few weeks after our marriage, I
met Mrs. Sinclair, the widow I have mentioned,
in a store. She was buying a whole piece of
unbleached cotton; and, when I asked what she
could possibly do with it, she said that several


27






MY THIMBLES.


poor families in her neighborhood had just been
"burnt out," without being able to save their
clothes; and that some ladies of her acquaint-
ance were to meet at her house, and sew for
them. "Why," exclaimed I, "would it not be
better just to give the poor people the stuff, and
let them make their own things?" In the
conceit of a young bride, I imagined this to be
quite a sensible speech, for I had a vague re-
collection of hearing my aunt say that it was
not a good plan to work for the poor; it was
encouraging them in idleness. Mrs. Sinclair
smiled and said,;" One of these women is too
old and infirm to sew, and has nobody to work
for her: another is able and willing to sew, but
she has a husband and five children, and you
see it would take her a great while to provide
each with garments, even if she could work
from morning till midnight; but she must cook,
wash, iron, and tend the baby, and do all sorts
of things; and I don't exactly see how she is to
find time, -do you ?"


28





MY THIMBLES.


I was silent; and she added, Then there is
a third family, a man and woman, with only
two children; but the parents are both intem-
perate." I looked disgusted, and said, Surely
you will not sew for such worthless crea-
tures ?" Why not ? asked Mrs. Sinclair;
the children are not intemperate, poor things,
and are suffering for want of clothes." I did
not know what to say; and Mrs. Sinclair left
me to my reflections, while she attended to her
business.
I had intended to begin a pair of slippers for
my husband that afternoon; but I could not
help pondering on what I had just heard, and,
just as Mrs. Sinclair was leaving the shop,
I yielded to a strong impulse, and asked if I
might come to her house with the other ladies.
She seemed very much gratified with my
request, though a little surprised. It occurred
to me that perhaps she thought I could not do
plain sewing; and I confess I had myself some
misgivings on the point. I told her so; and
3*







MY THIMBLES.


she said, "But you work in worsteds remark-
ably well." "But that is so different," I
exclaimed : however, I will do my best." I
was ashamed to say how long it was since I had
used a needle for any useful purpose; a whole-
some shame, and a new one for me. The very
presence of such a sensible, excellent woman
seemed to reveal the falseness of the standard
by which I had judged my acquirements.
My husband smiled very pleasantly when I
told him the use r was going to make of the
rich gold thimble, and said he would gladly
give me one of pure diamond if he could be
sure it would be always as well employed;
" unless," said he, you would prefer to have
the same cost in unbleached cotton That
I should," replied I; and went with a light
heart to Mrs. Sinclair's.
In my long neglect of plain sewing, I had
forgotten a good deal of my skill; but that
which has been taught early and thoroughly is
easily recovered. In my humility I took a


30







MY THIMBLES.


coarse sheet, and it certainly felt clumsy in my
hands, and I am sure I should have exhibited a
neater seam when I was thirteen years old.
But it was finished in due season; and the
emotion with which I surveyed it and folded it
up was very different from any thing I had
known for years. It reminded me somewhat of
the hour when I finished my father's shirt;
and the tears came into my eyes at the remem-
brance.
I held up the gold thimble proudly to Henry
when he came home, and informed him of the
feat it had performed; and again my parents
rose before me, as with a glowing heart I
received his few words of approbation.
All this may seem a small matter to be
recorded; but it led to some of the happiest
hours of my life, and is that a small matter ?
My husband was a judicious, benevolent man.
How many of the young men around me would
have looked coldly on this newly-awakened inte-
rest in a young wife, if they had not actually







MY THIMBLES.


laughed at it! The gold thimble was only a
symbol of what my husband valued in woman,
- in a rich woman; quiet, systematic, benevo-
lent occupation, equally unpretending and
efficient.
Our circumstances were affluent, and we
were exposed to all the dangers of leisure; of
having nothing that made demands apparent
and pressing demands upon our time and
thoughts. And yet both of us, I suppose, had
energy and capacity that required a sphere
of action. We found it in connection with
the various wise and beneficent institutions of
the city.
I gave all the needle-work of my family to
poor persons who supported themselves by
sewing; and we lived nearly up to our income,
giving, in various ways, all that our position
did not require us to expend in our way of
living; and of that we took the liberty of
judging by our own consciences, rather than by
the expectations of our friends. Instead of


32







MY THIMBLES.


going to balls and giving balls, we spent a
great part of our evenings at home; my hus-
band read aloud, and I- sewing! very plain
sewing it was. I went with Mrs. Sinclair when
she took "my sheet" to the poor woman in
B street, and that was the beginning of a
new sort of visiting for me; and out of my
new sort of visiting grew constant employment
for the gold thimble. It was a fancy of mine,
that when, by way of variety, I did a little
ornamental work for a friend, I took the silver
thimble I had had for three or four years; but
when I had a garment to make for a poor per-
son, I loved to use Henry's gift.
My health improved decidedly in this new
mode of life. My walks to visit certain families
in obscure parts of the city were long; but I did
not choose to parade a carriage at their humble
doors, and was sure that the walks helped my
appetite and digestion, and so benefited my
general health. Then it was so satisfactory to
judge for myself what would be most useful to







MY THIMBLES.


a struggling family; and so pleasant to see a
ragged little girl put on the very frock I had
been making for her the evening before, while
my husband read Macaulay aloud; and the
morning awakening was so glad, bringing
neither headache nor heartache.
The days of the gold thimble were very
happy days; certainly not because it was gold,
but because the uses to which I put it brought
me peace at the time, and are still most pleasant
to my remembrance.
I fear my narrative may not have incident
enough for my young readers; and I will
weary them no longer. A sequel there is in
my mind, but it may not be worth putting on
paper; and advice is so old-fashioned, I hardly
dare conclude with it. I will only say to the
young girls who will read this effusion of
mine to the end, that with "my thimbles" I
have passed many of the best and pleasantest
hours of my life. Using the thimble, I have
planned, I have hoped, I have rejoiced, I


34







MY THIMBLES. 85

have become quiet in my mind, I have thought
of my duty to God and man, I have grown less
selfish as I worked for others, I have prayed, I
have been happy. I bless those who taught
me to use and love my thimbles," whether of
brass, silver, or gold.




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