The Baldwin Libiry
1 :.:i ii
She looked at the doctor with a pleading artfulness.
1/1(!1111)1 ~ ~ .~,11111
AND HER NEIGHBORS.
By FRANCES LEE PRATT
D LOTHROP' COMPANY
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in .he year x87~
P, D. LOTHROP & CO.,
Ia the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washinetom
AGNES AVERY--AT GLENCOE.
I. -- --- 7
I ----- 11o
VIII. M 50
AT MRS. WINTHROP'S BOARDING-SCHOOL.
HI. -- -123
Ix m 175
III. -- 263
"The social talk, the evening fire,
The homely household shrine,
Grow bright with angel visits when
The Lord pours out the wine.
For when self seeking turns to love,
Not knowing mine nor thine,
The miracle again is wrought,
And water turned to wine."
How far that little candle throws its beams."
N a little brown house, under the drooping
branches of an elm-tree which over-
S shadowed it like a great umbrella, Agnes
Avery and her father lived. A lilac-bush
by the door with a bird's nest on it, a bed of
chamomile under the window, and a tangle of
cinnamon-roses on the bank that sloped away
from the southern gable of the house, were all
8 Agnes and Her Neighbors.
there was to make Agnes's home look movie
attractive than any other little, old, brown
moss-grown cottage, excepting the green grass,
bright with buttercups and dandelions, in their
And yet, although a traveller on the highway
would not turn his head to look at it, or remem-
ber it after he had gone a quarter of a mile, there
were plenty of people who thought it the pleas-
antest spot in the world.
It was not beautiful. Nobody said that. And
Agnes and her father were not rich. Indeed
they were really poor, and managed to live only
by making their wants very few and simple.
Their walls were low and smoky, and their fur-
niture cheap and scanty. Besides, Agnes's
father was fussy and irritable, and Agnes had
something the matter with her back, so that she
seldom went out of doors, and often for days and
days did not sit up at all.
One would think there could be nothing
pleasant about such a dull, stinted life as this,
Agnes Avery. 9
And yet Agnes Avery knew how to make it
You have heard of Alladin's wonderful lamp
which would bring just whatever he wished
when he rubbed it. Well, Agnes had, not
exactly a lamp, but a candle; a little candle.
And that was what made everything so bright in
her small, brown house.
Not a candle of wax, or of spermaceti, or tal-
low; not a candle on a golden or even on an
iron candlestick; not a candle that one could
see at all, and yet it made Agnes's heart cheer-
ful the whole day long, and gave light unto all
that came near her.
Listen while I tell you about her, and then
let us think if you and I cannot each light out
own little candle, and so brighten all our lives,
"Jesus bids us shine with a clear, pure light,
Like a little candle, burning in the night;
In this world is darkness, so we must shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine.
10 Agnes and Her Neighbors.
"Jesus bids us shine, first of all for Him ;
Well he sees and knows it, if our light is dim;
He looks down from Heaven to see us shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine.
"Jesus bids us shine then, for all around,
For many kinds of darkness in this world are found;
There's sin, there's care and sorrow, so we must shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine."
And the good seed thou hast scattered
Is springing from the heart.
NE day, very early in May, Agnes Avery
sat in a low rocking-chair busy over
some bit of mending.
The sticks of birch in the wood-box sent
out a spicy smell, and through the open window
come the distant voices of children at play.
Suddenly the outer door opened softly, and a girl
with brown eyes and long fair curls came in.
"Oh! Alice Irving I I am so glad to see you.
I have been sitting here, wishing you would
12 Agnes and Her Neighbors.
come," exclAimed Agnes, looking up with such a
cheerful face and tone that the plain, dingy room
somehow brightened up and looked cheerful, too.
Alice smiled in reply, but it was a faint, sor-
rowful smile, as she came up to put a buttercup
she had picked by the roadside among the
braids of Agnes's brown hair.
"Thank you," said Aglnes, when she had
arranged it and stepped back with her head a
little on one side to see the effect. And Agnes
looked as grateful and happy as though it had
been made of topaz with emerald leaves.
She had for so long made a Christian duty of
looking for the happiness that is to be found in
very little things that it was perfectly natural to
You don't know, Alice, how much company
this handkerchief you gave me is!" said she,
taking up a threepenny cotton one with a border
of purple pansies. "I keep it on the stand here
by me, thinking of you when I look at it, and
hearing the children, and the birds, and the frogs
out of doors, till it seems almost as though some-
body was sitting by in the room."
Alice smiled again; another little, faint,
sorrowful smile, and then it faded quite away
as she said mournfully, -
Oh, Agnes! Mother is not willing for me
to go back to the seminary next term, and I
cannot bear to think of giving it up. She has
taken a prejudice against the school on account
of what Miss Winchester said, and, though I
know she is mistaken in her opinion, all I can
say only seems to make her more decided.
What can I do? When my heart is so set
about keeping on to graduate with my class!
Do you think, do you think such an unnecessary
trial will be allowed ? "
By this time Alice was crying, and tears stood
in Agnes's pitying eyes as she replied, -
"( You will be sure to go, Alice, if it is tho
best thing for you. But we cannot tell that.
God is not impatient as we are, and sometimes
He lets us wait a long while before He permits
14 Agnes and Jer s.
us to see the reason for the things He does. I
am always satisfied when I do come to see it,
and so I try to be when I cannot. For it is my
greatest comfort to believe He overrules in the
least little thing that happens. I don't know
what I should do without such a belief. And
then if it is impossible for us to have something
we want very much, we can be sure we are
serving God by trying to be happy without it."
Agnes spoke in this soothing way and with as
much sympathy as though she herself felt the
disappointment, till Alice was a little comforted.
But when she proposed reading their usual
German lesson together, Alice exclaimed,,
"There it is again Professor Aveneaux thought
I had got on so well with French that I could
find some time for German next term, and then
we could do so much better alone after I had
been under his tuition awhile. Oh, Agnes! I
think it is too bad I"
"But, my dear, if you cannot help it, you
must try to bear the disappointment as patiently
Agnes Avery. 15
as you can and not allow your mind to dwell
upon it. I think, besides, it is not safe to
insist on having our own way. So many things
may happen which might make us repent it."
If I could only see any reason for this trial
it would be easier," sighed Alice.
There is no use in every trial if we never
see the reason why it is sent. Our characters
are always tested by them. We are made better
or worse by each, according to the effect we allow
it to produce on us."
When Alice went home she was rather less
miserable, and kept repeating to herself this
verse of Whittier which her friend had quoted;
"OhI why and whither ? God knows all
I only know that He is good;
And that whatever may befall
Or here or there, must be the best that could."
Where fortune hath deny'd it,
Contentment gives a crown.
S Agnes was darning the last stocking in
the pile, her father came in 'quite out of
humor at the result of the town-meeting
he had just left, and therefore in a
somewhat unreasonable mood.
You haven't boiled the teakettle yet, child,
and I want my supper right off. I don't see
what you find to do that you can't pay a little
attention to me, and not always be sewing when
I come home hungry," said he, fretfully.
Agnes Avery. 17
"Why, father!" Agnes answered gently,
glancing at the tall wooden clock. "It is not so
late by an hour as you usually eat."
I can't help that; I want my supper when I
do want it And now where are my boots? I
left them right here in the middle of the floor
when I went away, and I wish you wouldn't
hide my things so!"
He found the boots in their place in his bed-
room as he spoke, and seeing Agnes preparing to
fill the teakettle, said, You needn't go about
supper, I can't wait for it now. I will eat some
bread and milk, and a mouthful of pie, and make
The town-meeting was a special one called to
consider the subject of a new road.
A foolish plan," Mr. Avery said, "to break
up the- farmers at planting-time just about a
paltry road that wouldn't accommodate more than
a dozen families, and half of them could go
around by the Bend just about as well. All
nonsense; but that was of a piece with John
Agnes znd Her Neighbors.
Hunter's notions. A
cost upon the town, ai
Mr. Avery was so i
he forgot his hurry,
meal, sat with his hat
his head, looking at
foot while he talked.
Well, father," so
anything to bring a little
Id fool away the money."
heated by his subject that
and, having finished his
on, and his hands behind
the stove and trotting his
pays the largest tax in town so the expense comes
heaviest upon him."
"That is nothing," he answered quickly. "A
hundred dollars is not so much to him as one
dollar is to me, and I tell you I don't like to see
new men so forward in a place."
"Why father!" remonstrated Agnes again,
"he has been in town ever since I can remember,
twenty years at least "
Mr. Avery laughed scornfully. That doesn't
make him one of the old settlers, and, as I said,
he is a meddlesome man." Then, noticing that
Agnes was putting a patch on the sleeve of his
blue woollen frock, he said, peevishly, I wish,
Agnes Avery. 19
when you mend my clothes, you would mend
them so they would stay whole awhile. Now
here is a button just ready to come off my coat,
and here is a tear in the lining. Why can't you
make as good a mender as your mother, child ?"
Agnes knew that when her mother was living,
before their farm was mortgaged and sold, their
means were less limited, and her father did not
wear his clothes out so closely, but she did not
reply, and he went on,-
"While you are about it, I wish, too, you
would try to get cloth for my shirts that won't
shrink so. These you made last fall are getting
Agnes said nothing to this either, for she knew
he could not be made to believe that he was
growing fleshy as well as old; and presently,
after some more fidgeting and fretting, her father
started with a pail to the nIeighbur's for the milk,
and to talk over the obnoxious road and Mr.
Then Agnes took up her scrap-book, made of
and Her Neighbors.
an old arithmetic, and filled with some of her fa-
vorite poems, and read until all remembrance of
ill-humor had passed from her thoughts
cheerful light of the little candle shone once
in her eyes.
Then she went back to her work
again with a quiet heart, saying aloud
she had last read,-
faithful that has
He'll keep his trust wi' me, at what hour I
But He bids me still to watch an' ready aye to
To gang at any moment to my ain countree.
For He gathers in His bosom withers, worthless lambs
An He carries them Himself' to His ain countree."
"That continuous sweetness, which with ease
Pleases all 'round it from the wish to please."
W OUR humble servant! said a loud voice.
Agnes was putting a pie in the oven
"r and, startled by the sudden salutation,
hit her hand against the hot stove. But,
rising, she returned the greeting pleasantly to a
large, coarse-looking woman, courtesying stiffly
in the doorway.
Take father's chair, Mrs. Wilkinson, you
must be tired after your walk. He w is your
22 Agnes and Her Ndghbors.
The woman answered shortly that it was
"well enough." Then her voice softened a tri-
fle, as she said she expected the wash of alcohol
and saltpetre that Miss Agnes recommended, did
her a powerful sight of good. Presently she
noticed that Agnes held her burnt hand as
though it were painful.
"I declare! said she, coming to look at it,
" you have got a pretty bad burn here. If you
take cold in it, I shouldn't wonder if you have a
serious time. But I can tell you what to do to
cure it right up; a little lard and soot rubbed on
will take the fire all out. That's my remedy,
but a scraped potato is wonderful good, and
some say a poultice of saleratus is best of all.
Anyway you be careful not to take cold in it."
"I always use pepperment essence, though
I've no doubt these other things are good," re-
Well, different things suit different people,
and each to his own way, I say," returned Mrs.
Wilkinson. Then after a short pause, while
Agnes Avery. 23
Agnes brought the vial of peppermint and bathed
her hand, she began again in a hard, gruff tone,-
"I called up, Miss Agnes, to tell you I can't
wash for you any more if your father doesn't
bring the clothes round more punctual. It puts
me back about all my work not to have them
come when I expect."
It is too bad, Mrs. Wilkinson," said Agnes,
in a conciliating manner. I have felt uneasy
about that very often. I always have them ready
in season, but you know father is getting old and
he has some peculiar ways, as we all have, and
likes to take his own time. But I will speak to
him about it, and do the best I can to have them
sent sooner. I cannot have you give up doing
the washing, because father is so particular I
don't think anybody else could suit him."
Mrs.-Wilkinson by this time was somewhat
mollified, and in token thereof laid upon the ta-
ble a bunch of voilets," as she called them.
"6I don't care about posies myself, but I let
these grow because my dead Eliza Ann used to
24 Agnes and Her Neighbors.
set such a store by them. Oh! it was a great
stroke when I was called to part with my Eliza
Ann! I always thought I should have been a
different woman if she'd been spared to me."
She wiped her eyes on a corner of her calico
apron, as she spoke with a softened voice.
Agnes took up her ready scrap-book. Let
me read you something I know you will like,
Mrs. Wilkinson," said she. Then she read to
the attentive listener Longfellow's "Resig-
"There is no flock, however watched and tended,
But one dead lamb is there 1
There is no fireside, howsoe'er defended,
But has one vacant chair I
No one but Agnes Avery would have thought
of looking for a chord in Mrs. Wilkinson's rough
nature responsive to poetry of any sort, but
Agnes had touched one.
"Won't you read that over again ? said she,
when it was finished.
Then after' she had heard it once more she
Agnes Avery. 25
"Won't you just write it off for me ? By this
time she had almost forgotten she had any
errand but to bring the flowers.
Well, I must be going," said the woman, at
last. Take care of your hand and tell your
father to bring along the clothes as soon as
Monday night if he expects me to do his wash-
ings for him. I will bring up a root of the
voilets to plant out under your window, if you
Patience and hope, that keep the soul
Unmuffled and serene.
HERE were three bluish-green eggs in
the robin's nest on the lilac, and to-mor-
row there wotUld be another. Abroad
were evening voices which came soft-
ened by the damp night air; the peeping chorus
of the frogs, the sleepy good-night of the birds,
the lowing of cows and the shouts of the children
who drove them from the pastures they left so
reluctantly, stopping now and then. to snatch a
mouthful of the sweet young grass on their
homeward way. (26)
to these pleasant out-
door sounds, sitting
and knitting on a sock of mixed blue yarn;
she began to sing, and very sweet it was
"Onward, Christian, -hough the region,
Where thou art, be drear and lone;
God hath set a guardian legion
Very near thee ; press thou on I
" Listen, Christian I
Rolleth o'er thee,- God is love I
Write upon the red-cross banner,
'Upward ever I heaven's above It
"By the thorn-road, and no other,
Is the mount of vision won ;
Tread it without shrinking, brother;
Jesus trod it ; press thou on.
"By thine earnest, calm endeavor,
Guiding, cheering like the sun,
Earth-bound hearts thou shalt deliver--
Oh, for their sakes, press thou on.
SBe this world the wiser, stronger,
For thy life of pain and peace ;
While it needs thee, Oh, no longer,
Pray thou for thy quink release.
28 Agnes and Her Neighbors.
"Pray, thou, Christian, daily, rather,
That thou be a faithful son ;
By the prayer of Jesus,- Father
Not my will, but thine be done.'"
After she had finished the hymn, she sat silentI
thinking of her dead mother who had been
called home so many years ago; and with fresher
sorrow and longing, of her brother Palmer who
left life below for the life above not quite five
years before, just as he had finished his medical
studies. She and her father were to have lived
with him as soon as he was established in his
profession, but he had early finished the work
God had for him here; and to Agnes came the
difficult and bitter lesson of learning to live and
be happy without this beloved brother.
Suddenly, her musings were rudely interrupted
by the appearance of a fat, old woman in a
scanty dress of faded green circassian, with a
monstrous black bonnet on her head, and a
pillow-case, stuffed out with baggage of some
sort, in her hand.
Agnes Avery. 29
1b Here I be said she, puffing with unwonted
exertion, and sinking into a chair. Agnes knew
her to be one of the town paupers, but she was
too much astonished to speak at first.
The new comer, however, found herself quite
at home, and called for a fan and a glass ol
"It is too much for me to be junketed round
the world in this way !" she exclaimed, finding
breath. "I ought to have a steady home -
that's what I need; and while poor Hezekiah
lived I never wanted for one. I am very much
out of health,--if folks don't believe it and
I'm not able to bear this junketing "
Have you walked far, Mrs. Hathaway?"
asked Agnes, more and more surprised.
Not far for a well person," Mrs. Hathaway
answered, "only from the Corners. Squire
Harrington, he is one of the selectmen this year,
he brought me there, and then he stopped to talk
with somebody or other, so I got out and came
along afoot. I had rather walk than wait there,
30 Agnes and Her Neeg abors.
for I knew I should catch my death o' cold out in
this night air. I'm not tough and rugged like
young folks, and I can't bear such things as I
"So you've come have you ?" said Mr. Avery
entering that moment with the pail of milk.
" Why don't you put Mrs. Hathaway's things
away, Agnes ? She is going to stay with us."
Agnes followed her father to the pantry, and,
shutting the door, inquired about their visitor.
"I agreed to take her this year," he replied.
' She must have a home somewhere, and we can
have a dollar a week for boarding her; beside,
she will be company for you when I am away."
"But her board will cost us more than a
dollar, father, and it would be so much pleasanter
without her I "
The dollar coming in looked bigger than the
dollar going out to Mr. Avery, and Agnes's ob-
jections annoyed him.
"I wish I could have things to suit myself in
my own house," he said. "You are just like
~-- --- --
" Why don't you put Mrs. Hathaway's things away, Agnes? --she is
going to stay with us." Page 30.
Agnes Avery. 31
John Hunter; he wants to rule everything and
everybody in the town, and you would be glad
to in the house. I suppose you would like his
scheme of making the town pay out their money
for a poor-farm and huddle the paupers together
there like a parcel of dumb creatures."
Mr. Avery was raising his voice as he went on,
growing more and more excited at his own
words, and Agnes thought it was prudent to
leave him before the object of the conversation
overheard any more. So she went to her bed-
room, to put it in order for her room-mate.
Poor Agnes! For one moment she bowed her
face in her lap, while her form shook with sobs.
How different her life was from what it promised
five years before! And now all her quiet hours
with their comfort, must be given up; even her
own room, which looked dearer than ever, with
her mother's bedspread and blankets, and
Palmer's book-shelves and little desk, was not
to be entirely hers now. But the patient heart
came back directly, and said,
and Her Veighbors.
Be comforted, -
And like a cheerful traveller, take the rood,
Singing beside the hedge.
What if the bread
Be bitter in thine inn, and thou unshod
To meet the flints ? At least it may be said,
Because the way is short, I thank thee, God I "
When slie had made the necessary preparations
for Mrs. Hathaway, she took the
which had been Palmer's, and turned to Martin
is our refuge and strength,
She always found Him so, not only in
the deep waters of affliction,
annoyances which come
but also in the
every day in the
us all; and she
Him to help her
bear this new
trial with patience, and
might be able to preserve for
She did not expect
miracle in her behalf, but resolutely and earnest-
endeavored to show
prayer by her actions.
So she went back to
kitchen and entered upon the new chapter of
her discipline with a face as serene and peaceful
as though no cloud
had ever passed over it.
for her, the water was made wine, and it
for her by Christ the Master of the
" For when self-seeking turns to love,
Not knowing mine nor thine,
The miracle again is wrought
And water turned to wine."
"Had I a glance of Thee, my God,,
Kingdoms and men would banish soon
Vanish as though I saw them not,
As a dim candle dies at noon.
Then they might fight, and rage, and rave,
I should perceive the noise no more
Than we can hear a shaking leaf
While rattling thunders round us roar."
GNES was lying on her couch one
which had 1
free from I
passed a night of suffering
eft her weak, and not yet
and long-drawn breaths came from the bedroom,
where Mrs. Hathaway was "getting
from sympathy more out of health
Agnes Avery. 85
The monotonous clock ticked heavily, and
Mr. Irving's man shouted to the oxen as they
dragged the creaking cart back and forth,
drawing dirt for a bank wall. But the birds
sung on the elm-tree, and Agnes was beguiling
the weary time, and trying to forget her suffer-
ing, by learning the twenty-first chapter of
Revelation. And God shall wipe away all
tears from their eyes; neither shall there be any
more pain; for the former things have passed
"Are you sick, Agnes?" said Kate Allen,
coming in with a basket of lettuce.
Getting better, and very glad to see you,"
answered Agnes, brightly. "Do sit down and
Kate put her basket and sun-bonnet on the
table which was fastened to one arm of Mr.
Avery's old-fashioned reading-chair, and herself
dropped into the chair with an air of exhaus-
Oh Agnes! I am having the meanest time I!"
86 Agnes and Ier Neighbors.
she said. When David came home from
college he brought his chum, Orlando Whittelsey,
to spend part of the vacation with him. Whit-
telsey is rich, and accustomed to seeing things
handsome about him, so of course I wanted to
make it as pleasant as possible at our house.
But after I had tired myself out washing
windows, baking pastry, and so on, what do you
think should happen ? Why, some evil spirit
induced David to bring along a little yelping
black puppy. Now if there is anything I utterly
detest in the world, and cannot abide, it is a dog;
and I felt discouraged when I first saw it. I
believe the animal knows I hate him, and tries to
plague me; at any rate, Dave does; whenever I
go, and whatever I do, that little nuisance is right
under my feet. I can't even enjoy a peaceful
morning nap, for at dayligh-t he begins a hideous
barking. I dream all night long of a black dog
dancing under my feet; and I certainly think it
will make me sick, I get so nervous."
Agnes laughed at first, but Kate was distressed
Agnes Avery. 37
"You don't appreciate my feelings, I see, at
all, and you think I am all in the wrong," said
she, looking just ready to cry. "Why Agnes, I
have really made it a subject of prayer; and I
have no idea I shall go to Heaven, if I die while
the dog is here."
Agnes grew serious, too. "I think," said she,
"such little continual plagues really require
more grace, sometimes, than being a martyr; but,
after all, perfection is what we must strive for."
But what can I do ? I have to be around
in the house, helping mother; and there is the
dog, and there are the boys; I begin to scold,
Whittelsey looks shocked, and Dave laughs, till
I feel ready to go distracted."
I think it possible," said Agnes, "to have
our thoughts and temper of mind so far removed
from what surrounds us, that we really live above
all these things, as the tops of high mountains
are above the clouds. Think about the great
company of prophets, apostles, and saints of all
ages, who are gathered in Heaven; and think
about God, who possesses
the gravities of
mind and thought
strong in us.
'He reigns above, He reigns alone,
Systems burn out and leave His throne I'
so mighty and
with power to bring into existence and regulate
such a vast creation, soothes
me and makes me
than anything else.
one little creature
seem so trifling."
Kate looked thoughtful.
"I speak out so quickly," she said,
the first word that
after a little silence.
Is that all for us ?
Yes, you may if you I
How kind you are Kate !
?lease," replied Agnes.
But the mention of something
out Mrs. Hathaway.
to eat brought
Agnes Avery. 39
"Who has come?" she asked, in a loud
whisper, stepping just within the bedroom door,
and shading her eyes with her hand to see the
better. Oh nobody but Allen's girl! I
thought maybe you had some grand company,
and I had best keep out of sight with my old
gown. You have got some well-looking lettuce
there, and I am real fond of lettuce when it's
crisp and tender."
Kate had stopped in the act of lighting a
candle, utterly amazed.
"So I understand that you live here and sleep
in Agnes's bedroom ?" said she, at last.
I don' know what you understand, nothing.
about it," retorted Mrs. Hathaway, but I live
here, sure enough."
"Oh Well it is a good thing you are here
to help Agnes, now her back,is so bad, isn't it ? "
replied Kate, hastily, perceiving she had given
But she had made the matter no better.
That is the way," returned Mrs. Hathaway,
40 Agnes and Her Neighbors.
in an aggrieved tone. "Everybody must be
nursed up and waited on but me. But I guess I
am as bad off.as the rest, if the truth was known;
and if it wasn't for my eating, and my sleeping,
I reckon whether or no I should stand it long."
"I want to know! said Kate, gravely.
Yes!" replied Mrs. Hathaway. And I'm
not rested up from my side here. It was too
much for me. I have rode in a wagon twice, and
I hadn't ought to done it once. A sleigh
wouldn't have tired me so."
"I suppose not. But the sleighing doesn't
happen to be very good now," answered Kate.
Then bending over Agnes, she whispered,
"She would be worse than the dog for me to
A braided rag mat covered the trap-door lead-
ing to the cellar and the stairs were old and
rickety. Not much of a cellar either, for when
it was dug seventy-five years before, a great rock
was struck, and to save expense and trouble it
was left, filling half the space.
Agnes Avery. .41
SI believe that rock would spoil my temper
entirely if I lived here. There is no room for
anything else," said Kate, as soon as her head
appeared through the trap-door.
"Bless you I cannot afford to lose my peace
of mind for a rock! Besides I am used to it; we
don't need much cellar room and it makes a nice
place to set butter and meat in warm weather.
So on-the whole, it is rather a convenience, as
we have no ice-house."
I don't reckon that Allen girl understands
what belongs to good manners very well. She
is a saucy, impudent piece," remarked Mrs.
Hathaway, after Kate had left, regaling herself
with a drink of cold tea from the spout of the
teapot before she returned to the business of
But Kate was not gone. She turned back at
the second maple-tree and presently stood in the
doorway again, balancing herself on the threshold.
I came back to say that you are the best per-
son in the world, Agnes, to come to with any kind
42 Agnes and Her Neighbors.
of unhappiness. You do not snuff out one to
begin with, by saying it is nothing, and it is fool-
ish to care for such a little thorn, but you
sympathize with a body from clear way down to
the very southwest corner of your heart, and
that is a great comfort of itself. And then your
own courage and cheerful way of looking at
things always brightens up life wonderfully. I
believe you could live in the midst of nothing so
disagreeable but you could throw a charm over
it of some sort." Then she ran out, and directly
disappeared behind the fir-tree once more.
"How glad and thankful I am to be a bit of
comfort to anybody. Although it is not me, I
know; but only as I seem, seen through her
loving eyes," thought Agnes.
Ah! Agnes Avery daily showed herself more
like Jesus than she, in her humility, knew. For
we have not an high priest which cannot be
touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but
was in all points tempted like as we are, yet
There are cooings, and flittings, and carols between,
For the nest is the fairest that ever was seen,
And the doves are young, and the leaves are green,
And now 'tis the merry May weather.
- HAVE brought you some morning-glories
seeds I mean."
- Agnes turned about from her place at tha
tea-table at this
there stood Nelly Hunter smiling out from under
her brown hat with a paper of seeds in. one hand
and a bunch of white shad blossoms in the other.
and Her Neighbors.
"I can come nights after school and help
train them, mother says," Nelly added.
sun comes in so hot here in summer days, and the
vines will be prettier than any kind
Nelly sparkled with delight even down to
little dancing feet.
But then Mr. Avery must needs speak up.
" Don't you go to covering
I won't have my house made
dark as a cellar," said he.
Nelly's smiles faded away, at that, but
brought them back, saying cheerfully.
We can train them at the
sides in a kind of arch.
will look better there than they would
beyond all account," remarked
looking over her teacup.
" Yes I "
Agnes Avery. .45
make a house decay, too. I don't want the
Agnes made no direct answer, but going to the
cupboard and emptying some white sugar from a
cracked pitcher, without any handle, said to
If you will get some earth in this, I will
have my morning-glories in the house where I
can see them all the time. We can fix a frame
of sticks and twine for them to run on."
Nelly's face brightened and she ran for the
earth while Agnes washed the supper-dishes.
"Oh and my flowers! said Agnes, after the
seeds were planted, they want some water."
But there were not enough to stand alone in a
tumbler, so she folded a piece of paper over the
top cutting a hole in the centre for the stems to
go through, while Nelly looked on in high delight
that her gifts were so well appreciated; talking
meanwhile as fast as her little tongue could
move about the baby's last tooth.
And we think she tried to say Papa,' this
morning," said Nelly.
46 Agnes and Her Neighbors.
Agnes listened with real interest to all these
childish stories, and one would have thought she
was the girl's own aunt by the pleasure she
showed on hearing that Nelly had gone clear to the
head on the word separate, going right above
Amelia Allen and Lucy Serrington, both older
and bigger than she.
And Miss Agnes, we had a new scholar to-day,
Susy Bryant, Emily Bryant's sister, and she didn't
keep a bit still. She crawled up on the counter,
and she put a little bit of a short slate pencil up
her nose and couldn't get it out again. The
teacher was real frightened, but she got it down
after a while with her penknife. Then when
Miss Gordon was calling our names for us to re-
port if we had whispered, the last thing before
school was done, Susy, spoke right out and said,
'say so to me, say so to me,' and then spoke up
loud, Have not! and she had whispered more
than twenty times, and talked out loud, too. Em-
ily says she never will take her to school again
in this living world; and she says "
Agnes Avery. 47
Chirp chirp! called the robin outside the
window. In another week there would be four
hungry little robins with wide mouths, instead of
eggs, in the nest on the lilac bush, and the pa-
tient mother bird had just come off her nest to
get her supper.
Agnes threw out some bits of bread and then,
with Nelly, watched her eat them. Nelly's little
tongue meantime was not idle. The robin re-
minded her of Tim Glover.
Tim Glover is the ugliest boy that goes to
our school and he breaks up every bird's nest he
can find. To-day the girls found a new one in
the old house where Mr. Caldicott used to live
and we tried to keep it secret from Tim,
but Martha Starkweather must go and keep say-
ing all the way coming home from school,' I
know something and you don't! B-i-r-d's nest
out in the old house! wasn't she mean ? and
now the girls are afraid Tim will break it up, for
he wouldn't promise Amelia Allen not to, and he
likes her best of anybody. So they are going to
watch about there till dark."
48 Agnes and her Neighbors.
Mrs. Robin finished her meal, and hopped back
to her nest, while Mr. Robin led in the family
singing, poised on a swaying branch of the elm-
"I reckon robins make a very greedy sound
when they sing. I always think what master
fellows they used to be at gobbling down our
folkses' cherries," remarked Mrs. Hathaway,
peering from the window at the evening sky just
lighting up with gold and crimson. "I shan't
wonder a bit if it rains to-morrow," she continued,
Such pleasant days are apt to be weather-breed-
ers. I have seen a good many women riding
to-day, too, and that is a sign of rain. You can
tell for certain when the stars come out. If
they are very thick, that is a sure sign."
Tommy says if a chipping-bird lights on a
hoe handle it is a sign of rain. He has noticed
it twice," said Nelly, laughing.
Tommy! Who is Tommy ?" asked Mrs.
Hathaway, who never lost any opportunity for
asking a question.
. i .. -: _
Agnes Avery. 49
He is our Irish boy. His name is Tommy
Maloney," replied Nelly.
Then she slipped out of her chair. I guess,"
said she, I better go and see if that hateful boy
has broken up our birds' nest yet."
So away she fluttered, with her small heart
bright and warm from the shining of Agnes's
We knew it would rain, for the poplars showed
The white of their leaves. ALDRICHI
HE cloudless day, the women, the stars
and the "chipping-bird," were all false
prophecies. There'was no rain on the
next day, the next nor the next, and
there had been no rain for three weeks before.
This kind of weather will spoil the grass
crop if it holds on much longer," said Mr. Avery.
The young white-oak leaves had just reached
" the size of a squirrel's foot," and the farmers,
whether they regarded this old Indian rule or not,
were planting corn.
Mr. Avery had hired some land of Mr. Allen,
and, having been busy working on it all day,
Agnes Avery. 51
was enjoying in his old armchair, the rest he had
earned. Mrs. Hathaway throwing her apron
over her head, and tilting her chair against the
wall, had composed herself for her usual evening
nap. She did not like to retire too early for fear
she shouldn't get a good night's sleep. Agnes
knit on the blue sock, with the little table hold-
ing the candle and snuffers between herself and
There won't be half a crop of grass at this
Mr. Avery was addressing his remarks to Mr.
Starkweather, a man who was now.an inhabitant
of Glencoe, but who formerly lived in Portland
for a few months, and who had ever since con-
sidered that city to be the only portion of the
world worth mentioning.
"4I should think," he said, "by what my pa-
per states, that they are having quite a dry
time at Portland as well as here."
Mr. Avery thought the drought extended some
way around, but the weather did not affect any
olass of people as much as farmers.
52 Agnes and her Neighbors.
Mr. Starkweather presumed if he had been ac-
customed to reside at a seaport he would except
"I meant to refer to landsmen of course,"
replied Mr. Avery, somewhat contemptuously.
"Are the crops seriously injured ? interposed
"I do not pretend to say they are injured any
yet, but I say if the dry weather holds on
another week, I am afraid the grass will be
"Oh, you are getting anxious too soon! Per-
haps it will rain more than you wish, before the
week is out. Mrs. Hathaway sees signs of rain
"Yes," chimed in a voice behind the apron,
"I saw a toad out to-night, and that is a
wonderful sure sign."
Everybody laughed, and, agreeing that the
matter was settled, dropped the subject for
"I have been reading an account in my
Agnes Avery. 53
paper," began Mr. Starkweather, respecting
the recent death of a gentleman who formerly
resided in Portland. I have met him there
myself, and found him a pleasant-spoken,
agreeable man. He has since edited a news-
paper somewhere at the West, and it seems by
the account, he became very much excited
respecting an article in some other paper, which
he was preparing to answer. So much so, that
fanaticism set in, and carried him off the next
Mr. Avery looked perfectly serious, and
answered gravely, that it would sometimes have
that effect. Agnes's knitting suddenly got out
of order and she bent her head low to make it
right. Meanwhile Mr. Starkweather, quite un-
conscious of any blunder, talked on with his
accustomed air of self-satisfaction.
Presently the subject of the weather came up
again, and the men entertained each other for
a long time with stories of drought and dearth.
"I remember you talked just so last year
54 Agnes and her Neighbors.
for about five weeks," said Agnes, at last,, "and
you know there never was a more bountiful sea-
son. The rains came soon enough to save every-
thing, and I do not see any use in getting
distressed till vegetation begins to suffer. You
ought to hear a fable Alice Irving and I came
across in our German reading, to-day.
"I should be pleased to have you read it
to us," said Mr. Starkweather, graciously.
So Agnes brought her German book and
tr mnslated it aloud.
Ills that never happened
THE DOUBTING CATERPILLAR.
F what can the apple-tree roots be think-
the sap ?" s
do not begin to send up
;aid a small green caterpillar,
"I see the leaf-buds
started already on that lilac
be sure we are not suffering much, at present,
but there will not be a
leaf on the
tree if the
sap does not start soon, and
then what are we
to do ?"
66 Agnes and Her Neighbors.
and began to chafe and fret again. "No sap
yet! what a backward tree! I wish it would
begin to show some signs of life."
Then it was night, and the caterpillar rolled
himself in a ball and took a good nap, and so
pretty soon it was morning; and then awaking
and stretching himself, he looked about him, and
began the grumble again because the season was
getting on and still there was not sap enough
coming up through the trunk and branches of
the old apple-tree to send out life and beauty,
in the form of leaves and blossoms.
But the tree that had put forth buds and fruit
through many generations of green caterpillars,
and had its own mission to fulfil whether the
worms were there or not, was meantime carrying
on its work in the dark laboratory under ground,
and in due season blossomed into a beautiful and
fragrant bouquet, till at last, after the hot sun of
the summer and rains of the autumn, its droop-
ing branches almost touched the ground under
the heavy burden of ripe fruit."
Agnes Avery. 57
"Huh ? Did you say it is going to be a good
fruit-year ?" queried Mrs. Hathaway, emerging
from her nap and her apron. I hope it will
be; I'm a real hand for apples, and I reckon
they are healthy for me. I always notice if I
keep along till apple-time, that I am sure to get
through the rest of the year. Well, I'll fix off to
bed, though I've no thought I shall get to sleep
before midnight, I feel so wakeful; but lying in
bed will rest me up some, I hope."
So she gathered up her blankets, with sundry
vials of medicine to have on hand in case she
should be taken sick in the night, and disap-
Mr. Starkweather took his leave soon after,
saying he left his woman alone telling her he
should not be absent long.
For some time the father and daughter sat
without speaking, on opposite sides of the little
round table. The clock, the clicking of Agnes's
needles, the distant barking of a dog, and the
peeping of the frogs, filled, without disturbing
Agnes and Her Neighbors.
I do not know of any pleasanter music than
the frogs make," said Agnes, at last. I be-
lieve I enjoy them better than I do the birds."
Your mother used to say so," replied Mr.
Then after a little pause, he added,-
"You are a good deal like her, child, and I
don't suppose you know what a comfort you are
to me. I am poor company for you, I know, but
I am an old man and I have had my troubles."
Mr. Avery turned the wooden button on the
outer door that shut out the world, and saying,--
"Try to get a good night's rest, my daughter,"
left Agnes alone.
The softened words of her father, so unusual
to him, brought happy tears to her eyes, and she
thanked God for His goodness in giving her so
"The social talk, the evening fire,
The homely household shrine,
Grow bright with angel visits, when
The Lord pours out the wine."
I think of pain and dying
As that which is but nought,
When glorious morning, warm and bright,
With all its voices of delight,
From the chill darkness of the night
Like a new life is brought.
HEN June came, she brought
roses that Kate
said it seemed to
her they grew on all kinds
and she expected every day to see rose-
buds-starting out on the
Everybody's garden was full and running
over with them.
60 Agnes and Her Neighbors.
pink, red and yellow; hundred-leaved, Michigan,
Burgundy and cinnamon roses; every color and
variety, from the elegant dainty moss-rose to the
humble wayside eglantine; and of each -was a
beautiful profusion at the brown house under
the elm-tree. Because, since Agnes had no gar-
den, those who had gardens kept her supplied
with flowers. So nobody's house had such
"You look as though you were holding a
floral festival," said Alice, coming in with a
spray of half-opened damask rose. She came to
Agnes's couch and put it in her hand. Agnes
smiled as she looked at the flowers, and at the
pink and white face of her friend, which was
lovelier to her than the roses, but there were
traces of pain on her face which Alice was quick
How many sick days you do have, Agnes,!
I am afraid you are getting worse!" she ex-
claimed. I wish you could have skilful medi-
Agnes Avery. 61
"You remember the woman in Scripture,"
returned Agnes, "who spent all her living on
physicians, and was rather the worse. When the
poor body is quite worn out we must just lay it
away and do without it, that is all."
She spoke cheerfully, but Alice looked sad.
"I wish I had as little dread of death as you
have," she said. I do not allow myself to get
unhappy about it, for a hundred things may
happen to make me ready to long for death
before it comes, but the mention of it gives me
a sudden shock which is not pleasant, and I
would like to get over that."
I remember," said Agnes, "when I felt as
you do. When I thought a great deal about
God, my dead friends and heaven, and after
awhile the shrinking from death was all gone.
Do you know Dr. Nelson's soliloquy under the
solitary tree in the prairie ? -
'Oh, the joys that are there, mortal eye hath not seen I
Oh, the songs they sing there, with hosannahs between I
Oh, the thrice blessed song of the Lamb and of Moses I
and Her Neighbors.
Oh, brightness of brightness the pearl gate uncloses I
Oh, white wings of angels I Oh, fields, white with roses I
Oh, white tents of peace where the rapt soul reposes I
Oh, the waters so still, and the pastures so green I' "-
But it is unpleasant to me to think
body which I dress and take care of, -
friends love, and which is me, must be laid
in a narrow coffin underground for the worms
eat," said Alice, with a shudder.
"You do not hesitate to throw away a stray
hair or nail-paring which was a part
We do sometimes feel reluctant
up a worn out dress on account of the
tions we have with it, and it is no wonder if we
feel so about the body in
it is only a house for
us, and it is better
realize that we have an existence apart from
Time, and especially
are trying; and I think we shall be less selfish if
we are in the
considering our bodies as,
only servants to us."
" Agnes, you make me feel
Agnes Avery. 63
I see you, and I am glad you were born just for
the good you do me," said Alice, earnestly. I
know I could not bear any disappointment about
leaving school half so comfortably if it were not
for you. You ought to be the happiest person in
the world with your good temper and such a
Before Agnes replied, Mrs. Hathaway came in
from the house of the next neighbor.
There are some ladies coming. I can't make
out who they are, but they look like the real
gentry," said she.
She had I:ardly arranged herself behind a
crack of the bedroom door when Kate Allen
came in with Miss Esther Gordan, the district
Pooh said Mrs. Hathaway, addressing
herself to the door hinge. "To think I should
mistake Kate Allen for a lady !"
"That is best that lieth nearest."
BOUT ten minutes before, Miss Esther
Gordan had pinned her shawl with
mathematical precision, put on her best
bonnet, and taken her handkerchief by
precisely the centre.
It is not my place, of course, to call on Miss
Avery first, but as I do not wish to be needlessly
formal I will go with you," she said, standing
up stiff and straight in Mr. Allen's little back-
parlor. "Really, Miss Allen, is it customary in
this place to make calls in a sun-bonnet ? she
added, seeing Kate take hers by one string.
Agnes Avery. 65
"Sometimes it is," answered Kate, making a
face at herself in the glass.
"It may be well enough here, but it would
never do with us," returned Miss Gordon, taking
"I should think you would hardly find
enough to occupy your time profitably," said she,
a few minutes after, seating herself with due
propriety in one of Agnes's splint chairs, and
looking about her.
"I usually manage to keep busy, though I
haven't accomplished much to-day," answered
Take care of the minutes and the hours will
take care of themselves," returned Miss Gordon,
sitting a little straighter and speaking with a
manner befitting one who had taught school
twelve terms and had commenced on the thir-
teenth. "I should think you would feel that
your life was running to waste when you are
employing yourself about these menial duties
that belong to servants and those who have no
66 Agnes and her Nezghbors.
desire for culture. A person of your intellect
and capability ought to be improving your mind
instead of spending your time in taking thought
for the animal instincts of our nature."
"I always think," replied Agnes, that our
duty lies in doing those things well which are
put in our way. It would be very pleasant to
be able to devote more time to reading and study,
and I should be glad to have my duty lie in that
direction, but as it does not, it is comfortable to
remember that God will accept the lowest service
if it is faithfully performed."
"Undoubtedly He will accept even a low ser-
vice faithfully performed if one is capable of
nothing higher, but I regard it as purely a waste
of your talents and energies to live here and do
housework for your father. If he appreciates
what you have already done for him as he ought,
he would immediately give you sixty dollars.
The least he can do and with this you will be
able, with economy, to go a year to Mount Holyoke
Seminary, and fit yourself for a teacher. Then
Agnes Avery. 67
you will be in the way, both of doing good and
of self-improvement. As for your father, he
ought to hire an Irish woman who has not a
mind for learning anything higher than making
bread and washing shirts."
Before Miss Gordon had ended, Mrs. Hatha-
way having decided that she was nobody to be
afraid of, advanced through the door and now
joined in the conversation.
It is a great deal to have a good home,
young woman," said she, "you don't seem to
think of that, but I know what it is to be tumb-
led about the world, and nobody can tell till
they come to feel the need of a home what a
blessing it is, especially when they are out of
health- as I am."
Miss Gordon turned at the sound of a strange
voice, and looked at the speaker with her light
gray eyes open very widely a moment, then. said
to Agnes, Who is this person ? "
"This is Mrs. Hathaway, she is living with
us," answered Agnes.
68 Agnes and her Neighbors.
You needn't be afraid to say I am supported
by the town," spoke up Mrs. Hathaway. I
don't consider that as any disgrace. My hus-
band paid taxes here, and I have just as good a
right to get my living out of the public as the
President has. I can tell you I had as nice a
home as any of you while Hezekiah was living,
before he took to drinking, and run out his prop-
erty. I might have had a home now if I had
only known how things would be. I suppose I
might have been your mother, Kate."
"I want to know, Mrs. Hathaway! What a
pity that it did not happen so I said Kate, with
a serious countenance.
Yes!" continued Mrs. Hathaway, more de-
cidedly; I expect I might. When I was a girl
I was about as well-looking as any of them. I
could dance like a top, and I used to be invited
to all the sleigh-rides and parties about here.
Your father never really asked for my company,
but I thought he would if it hadn't been that I
was going with Hezekiah Hathaway when he
Agnes Avery. 69
first come to town. Well, it happened just as it
did! Hezekiah made as good a husband as the
most, I expect, before he took to drinking, and
if I had a steady home now I wouldn't com-
Miss Gordon did not continue the subject
which this narration interrupted, but she told
Kate as they went home that it was very painful
to see one like Miss Avery, with a good mind,
wasting her life in household drudgery.
"There is not a person of my acquaintance
who does more good to everybody who comes in
her way than Agnes Avery," replied Kate, warm-
Her sphere is certainly limited, and she
should endeavor to enlarge it," returned Miss
Do you not know she has a spinal disease,
and cannot go out ? I think she shows a wonder-
ful degree of energy to keep up and do what she
does," said Kate, expending her displeasure on a
way-weed blossom which she picked in a hundred
70 Agnes and Her Neighbors.
Then she is abusing her body as well as her
intellectual powers. She ought to take all the
exercise she can bear out of doors-let her ride
if she isn't able to walk and devote herself
to study when in the house. I have a work on
the treatment of the human system which I
must loan her."
Kate made no reply, "when one is so un-
reasonable as a donkey there is no use in wasting
words," she thought to herself, demolishing a
whole colony of way-weeds.
Meantime, Mrs. Hathaway, standing on the
doorstep and looking after them, ejaculated con-
temptuously, She called me a person! I'm no
more a person than she is, I'd have her to know!
The schoolmistress is nothing but an upstart
as I consider. She is more impudent than Kate
Allen and not so good-looking either. She
needn't come preaching up to Agnes," she con-
tinued to soliloquize after betaking herself to the
bed. "Agnes knows more than five like her,
and I reckon Agnes is a christian too."
" Do you remember the last line of
look of quiet
me yesterday !"
said Agr es, with
she and Alice
Irving were left alone again.
"If I live the life He gave me,
God will turn it to His use I"
"When Greek meets Greek then comes the tug of war."
SHE robins and roses had gone, and the
crickets and cardinal flowers had come in
their places. There was a fragrance of
ripening grapes in the air, and, here and
there, scarlet and orange branches on the maples
made brilliant contrast against the surrounding
green. The grain was reaped, and standing in
stocks about the field, and, although there had
been no frost as yet, a dull brown was beginning
to creep over the hills. It was the time of corn-
harvest and fall house-cleaning.
Agnes Avery. 73
Agnes's morning glories had thriven past all
expectation. They did not grow in the broken
water-pot after all, a special committee, consist-
ing of Willy Allen and Charlie Hunter, assisted
by the advice and consent of Nelly and Agnes,
having decided they needed something larger.
So the boys constructed a curious box with legs
made of old broomsticks which brought it nearly
as high as the window-seat and gave the plants
the advantage of sunshine. Some pieces of
broomstick at the sides supported a hoop, around
which the tendrils were trained, and every morn-
ing it blossomed into a wreath of purple, and
pink, and white morning glories. Besides, Alice
Irving had planted some sweet peas in the box
when nobody saw, so it was very surprising to
Agnes as well as the children, to see, one morn-
ing, the fragrant pea flowers suddenly blossoming
in the wreath. The vine had been hidden by
the thick leaves of the morning glory, and
nobody had noticed it before.
Quite a pretty pot of posies," said Mrs.
74 Agnes and Her Neighbors.
And as for Mr. Avery, he asked everybody
who came in how they liked his flower garden,
appearing to believe he had proposed, arranged,
and taken all the care of it.
The sun was shining on the wreath of morning
glories; it was turning the tin teapot into silver,
and touching Agnes's hair with a golden tinge as
the little family were gathered about the
But in the midst of the meal the door opened
with a sudden clack and bang, and in dashed
I want to know if you haven't finished your
breakfast yet! I got mine all out of the way an
hour and a half ago. Why didn't you have a
great kettle on, full of hot water so I could
begin to clear away? I guess I will commence
on the buttery first," she said.
Then followed the clatter and rattle of tin
pans, earthen jars, boxes, and pails, as the pair
of vigorous hands proceeded to clear the upper
shelves of their contents, preparatory to a
general scrubbing and putting to rights.
Mrs. Wilkinson was about, it
as though a moderately-sized
having run off the track,
house, and the best thing
from under the wheels as
Well, now you have
Mrs. Wilkinson, I can be s
said Mr. Avery, who was
on his blue frock. I
steamed into the
done was to keep
, to see to things,
1 as well as not,"
is opinion, putting
ve got Stephen
Nicholfield helping me cut my corn to-day, and
he will be here to dinner, Agnes."
"I am glad to see the last of him," quoth
Mrs. Wilkinson, whisking off the table-cloth to
make room for the contents of the shelves. "It
is no place for a man to be round under foot
house-cleaning days. And don't he know better,
either, than to take this time for having Stephen
here to dinner ? Well, you had better boil the
pot, that makes hearty eating, and men folks
mostly like it; it suits me, too, about as well as
anything. My mother used to say no girl was'nt
fit to be married till they understand how to
76 Agnes and Her Neighbors.
get up a good boiled dish, I will put the pot right
on, it is full time."
So saying, she lifted it to its place over the
fire, knocking down one of the covers and dashing
part of a pail of water on to the stove as she
proceeded to fill the pot. Agnes fell in with
every proposition quietly, knowing well it was
the easier way; and Mrs. Hathaway gave an
extra hitch of her gown which betokened satis-
faction; for not only mere "boiled victuals," her
especial delight, but she also enjoyed partica-
larly to watch and direct the preparation.
"I hope, Agnes," said she, "you'll boil the
pork longer than you did the last time. I
reckon it wasn't done quite enough then.
There is a right way, and a wrong way to do
everything and it is most as easy to do it the
right way if you have somebody to tell you how."
Mrs. Wilkinson gave a grunt which indicated
contempt, but did not condescend to express her
opinion in any other way. "Shall I begin on
your father's bedroom or yours, first ?" she
Agnes Avery. .77
asked Agnes. These shelves ought to have a
chance to dry before I put back the dishes.
Vain old thing!" she continued as Mrs.
Hathaway went out of doors to watch some
passerby out of sight. You must have a sight
of patience to bear with her."
Oh, I don't notice all she says. She is get-
ting old and little things seem more important to
her than they did once. She hasn't as much to
think of now you know," Agnes replied.
"I tell you she has only broken into her nat-
ural way. I have known Deborah Hathaway--
Deborah Weatherbee that was, girl and
woman, these fifty years, and she hasn't changed
so very much. She was always as meddlesome
as a monkey and not half so attractive. She
was a selfish, vain minx and I always despised
I can't make out who them folks be. They
had a slick looking team, but it wasn't any horse
1 am used to seeing. Like enough it is company
from off going to the Aliens. They have a sight
Agnes and Her Neighbors.
of visitors, one time ard another," said Mrs.
Hathaway, returning from the door.
Then she lifted the pot lid and added, The
water is boiling like everything; it is time to put
the pork right in."
It seems to me, if I were you, I would take
my chair and sit down out of the way, Miss
Agnes, and I will try to get through the work
without any help, said I
the door after her by
went into the bedroom
ing, obstroperous thing
improves her. I am as
I be town charge, and I
can't rule the whole
Ilrs. Wilkinson slamm'ng
way of emphasis, as she
with a scrub-brush.
was always an overbear-
and I don't see as age
good as she is, any day, if
'11 have her to know she
world," muttered Mrs.
It isn't worth
everybody has their
I think it is our best
kinson more than we
minding, Mrs. Hathaway,
whims, as father says, and
way not to cross Mrs. Wil-
can help when she is here
Agnes Avery. 79
at work. 'We shall be in a poor plight if she
gets offended and leaves us, you know."
Agnes's confidential manner, together with
Mrs. Hathaway's desire to hear what news Mrs.
Wilkinson might happen to relate, had'a decided
effect; and though she kept on a defiant, uncon-
quered look, she drew her chair a little to one
side and sat down.
The hours went by until the tall clock finally
struck thirty-six times, according to an absurd
vagary it sometimes indulged in. The closets
and bedrooms, by this time, were as clean and
fresh, as strong, willing hands could make them;
and now Mrs. Wilkinson seated herself and took
a pinch of snuff.
Because there is no use," she said, in be-
ginning on the kitchen till the men have eaten
their dinner and gone. They always have a
powerful faculty at tracking in dirt and making
litter in a clean room."
Agnes was secretly glad to have the slopping
of water, the slamming of doors, and knocking
80 Agnes and Her Neighbors.
around of furniture cease for a time ; and went
about dishing up the dinner in a great blue plat-
ter, which was the fashion her father most ap-
I reckon boiled victuals ain't worth half as
much messed out in dishes," said Mrs. Hathaway,
coming to overlook the operation. Up to Liv-
ermore's, where I lived last year, they used to
take up everything by itself, and smash up the
turnips, too. The things don't keep so warm,
and they don't taste nothing so good neither. I
consider the turnips are just about spoiled,
smashed up fine just as if they were cold ones
warmed over. 'Twasn't the way I was used to
do, and it never'll seem right to me."
"Turnips are turnips, and cabbage is cabbage,
whether they are on one plate or ten," senten-
tiously remarked Mrs. Wilkinson.
She did not wait for an answer, holding Mrs.
Hathaway in much the same light she did her
husband's black dog Ben; to be treated with si-
lent contempt, unless he happened to get under
Agnes Avery. 81
foot. So she went on to say, "I don't care if
you set the cold tea on the stove to heat up, and
I'll have a cup with my dinner, seeing I am
cleaning house to-day."
Agnes brought the teapot, and Mrs. Hathaway
being by no means inclined to be left out of any-
thing, immediately came and raised the lid.
You had better put in another pinch and a
little water. I shall want some tea if the rest
"Well, Deb Hathaway!" said Mrs. Wilkin-
son, rousing as though Ben had put his nose in
her plate, I would try to have some mind of
my own, and not be tied up to anybody's apron
string. You may take the teapot off again,
Agnes, I guess I won't have any."
Mrs. Hathaway did not appear to hear this,
but began to busy herself drinking a swallow of
some kind of dark-looking medicine from the
neck of a bottle, which she called drops to give
her an appetite," and when she had gone into
the bedroom to put it away, Agnes said, quietly,
82 Agnes aicd her Neighbors.
laughing, never mind her, Mrs. Wilkinson,
she has her own peculiar ways, but we ought to
be patient with them, seeing we all have ways of
Well, I suppose you are right, Miss Agnes, I
guess we have. The old thing isn't worth mind-
ing, that is a fact," assented Mrs. Wilkinson,
presently, with some reluctance.
So the teapot was replenished and allowed to
remain on the stove.
Culture of the head is good, culture of the
heart is better, but blessed are they who have
both, and blessed is the world because of them.
Agnes, refined in mind and manner, and over-
flowing with that truest courtesy which is a token
of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, kept all day
the discordant jarring elements in quiet, if not in
harmony. Mrs. Hathaway and Mrs. Wilkinson
drank their tea with a tolerable show of peace,
revived old stories, and commented on the passing
gossip of the day. By appropriate remarks and
timely questions, Agnes carefully guided the
What was still better, she showed
to these two women, both so out of tune with the
beautiful spirit and teachings
Master, that she had something which
not, something which kept
her soul in perfect
But Mrs. Hathaway
her old habit of interfering, and as Mrs.
son again whisked off
about her cleaning with the
tread of a young el-
a small earthquake, she
" I shouldn't care nothing about
inside of that door.
It is all out of sight."
She was answered at first only by an
dashing of water and scrubbing
Mrs. Wilkinson found voice to say, -
clean house, I clean it, in sight or
Some folks are born slovenly
can't be broke
am thankful I'm not of
84 Agnes and Her Neighbors.
Mrs. Hathaway was not a bit daunted by this
suggestive speech, and was ready with a suitable
reply when Agnes broke in,-
Well, Mrs. Wilkinson if you won't make us
so clean we shall not know ourselves, you may
do it your own way. It wouldn't do to get lost
in our own house, you know," said she, laughing,
and expecting nothing more than a smile in
return from Mrs. Wilkinson.
But to her surprise, after a little silence, Mrs.
Wilkinson dropped her scrubbing-brush and
rubbing the corner of her apron across her .eyes,
said in a broken voice, -
"I am ashamed of myself getting out of tune
so easy and talking so fiercely. Anybody wou!d
think I was old enough to do better. Here is
this patient, christian girl with a father worse
than Job's three friends, and Wilkinson, and the
black cur all put in a lump, and she is like a bed
of posies with the sun shining on it from morn-
ing till night. It is part nature, I suppose, but it
is something more. It is religion. And it is
Agnes Avery. 85
worth having. What an old fool I have been!
But the good book says He didn't come to call
the righteous. He came for sinners, and he
couldn't find a fitter subject than me. I wish I
could live different. I wish I could live to
please Him. And I mean to begin now."
Then she picked up her brush, and turning her
back, began her work again in silence.
Presently Mrs. Hathaway got up and went
into the bedroom, coming out after awhile with
very red eyes and an unusually gentle manner,
while Agnes, touched beyond expression, sent
up to the Heavenly Father an earnest prayer
that the Holy Spirit might complete the good
work that seemed begun in the heart of this
rough, hard woman.
The prayer was heard and answered, for from
that day Mrs. Wilkinson, faulty and quick-
tempered still, showed daily in her life that she
was trying, though a great way off, to follow in
the footsteps of the meek and lowly One.
Antd it was the light of Agnes's little candle
that helped to show her the road.
Her virtues blossom daily, and pour out
A fragrance upon all who in her path
Have a blest fellowship.
AVE you lost anything, Mrs. Hathaway ? '
asked Agnes, coming into the kitchen and
upon her hands
and knees in a corner.
to find where
so's to kill him, and I can't.
that cricket is,
as soon as I begin to look," she
" I don't blame him if he suspects your motive,
But why do you want to kill the cricket ?
you like to hear it ?"
Agnes A very. 87
Like to hoar 'eml No, I guess I don't!
They make a dreadful melancholy, lonesome
sound; bu-t I could be t'shat well enough, if it
wasn't that I'm af:,d. of their gnawing my
stockings. I make i, a point to kill all I can
find, but it doesr.'" do much good; they are
spiteful things a. Lf you kill one, seven of its
relations will rcme to take its place and gnaw
the things of the person that killed it. They
know, somehow, who it was," affirmed the old
Then I am sure," replied Agnes, "I would
not kill the first one if it has such a bad effect.
For my part I would rather have a stocking
gnawed now and then, than lose the crickets,
though I never was aware they did anything of
the kind. But here is the paper. Wouldn't you
like me to read it to you ?"
Has the paper come ?" inquired Mrs. Hatha-
way eagerly, forgetting both the cricket and her
disgust at Agnes's bad taste. "I have kept a
smart lookout, but somehow Anderson will man-
Agnes and Her Neighbors.
age to slip by in spite of me almost always.
Yes, I don't much care if you read over the
deaths and marriages and the new advertisements
if there are any."
So she seated herself with a hitch of expecta-
tion by the side of Agnes, and was beginning to
give her close attention, when a tall woman with
a weary face appeared in the doorway, with a
brilliant bouquet of dahlias and hydrangeas in her
How do you do, both of you ? I ought to
apologize for not dropping in oftener when I
know how shut up you are, Agnes, with your
poor health; but really, I have so much to do I
scarcely get time to go out anywhere. I am
almost inclined to envy you your leisure to read,"
she said, seeing the paper in Agnes's hand, 1
always feel if I merely stop to look the paper
over that I am losing just so much time; and as
for a book, I can hardly catch a moment during
the day to read my Bible. I tell Mr. Cotterill
frequently that I shall actually become
rant as the brute creation "
Agnes Avery. 89
"You must find a great deal to do, with your
family, if you do not keep help," Agnes said,
when her visitor had stopped for breath. "But
do sit down in this chair and rest for now."
"I always do all my own work," Mrs.
Cotterill resumed, as she took the proffered seat.
" My husband would be frightened and think we
were coming to poverty immediately if I should
have a girl. And on the whole, I prefer to do
alone, and have things done my own way.
Besides, a girl's board, with what she would
waste, is fully equal to her wages, and I find it
hard enough to get money for my own necessary
expenses. It was only to-day I was telling my
husband I needed a new calico dress, and he said
he hadn't a cent of money by him. I assure you
I dread to see the bottom of the sugar-tub and
flour-barrel, Mr. Cotterill always looks as though
he felt so blue when I tell him we are out of
Then she stopped again for breath, and Agnes
said, You would really make us think you were
90 Agnes and Her Neighbors.
poor, if we didn't know that Mr. Cotterill owns
one of the best farms in town."
Mrs. Cotterill was evidently gratified by this
remark, however she continued, The farm is
well enough, but we are not quite out of debt
for it yet, and interest money counts up very
fast. Then our children are growing, and we
ou ht to be laying by something for them. The
expense of giving Alphonzo and Lorenzo a lib-
eral education is a great deal. I have often
thought if the twins had been girls, I might have
had some help by this time."
"Mrs. Cotterill," spoke up Mrs. Hathaway,
who had been trying to find an opening for some
time, "I want to inquire after your husband's
father and mother."
They are quite feeble and it isn't likely they
will ever be any better," was the reply.
"' Father Cotterill can't get up without help, and
Mother isn't much better. I don't wish to com-
plain, but the care of them adds a great deal to
my work, and I have no one to take a single
Agnes Avery. 91
step for me. I get quite discouraged sometimes,
when I stop to think how little my life amounts
to, and I am almost ready to believe it would be
quite as well if I had never been born."
Mrs. Cotterill, you ought not to feel so," said
Agnes, earnestly. "It is a great thing to bring
up five boys and give them good physical and
moral training, if you accomplish nothing more.
Only think of giving immortality to so many
Mrs. Cotterill looked oppressed rather than
cheered by this reflection.
I feel," said she, "we are living such dry,
dull lives that they are hardly worth having.
We start at daylight and work on till bedtime
like slaves. My hours are filled with washing,
ironing, churning, and baking, from Monday
until Saturday, hardly getting much rest from
labor even on Sunday. Out of doors it is just
the same work, work, work,- and what does
it all amount to ? The boys are coming up in
this kind of way, and they know if they get any-
92 Agnes and Her Neighbors.
thing more than a decent common-school educa-
tion, as the twins are trying to do, we must all
work the harder and live the poorer for it. Life
doesn't seem worth all the trouble we take to
As she spoke, a look of determined melancholy
settled over her careworn features, making the
lines deeper and the eyes sadder.
The sunset clouds were flushing up in yellow
and orange and red, and they lighted Agnes's
face as she repeated softly, For here we have
no continuing city, but we seek one to come."
Mrs. Cotterill's eyes did not brighten, and she
said in the same dispirited tone, "We do not
live much as though we believed it. One would
think, to see how we toil and spend our strength
for the things of the world, that there was noth-
We are obliged to clothe and feed our bodies
while we have the use of them," said Agnes,
cheerfully, "but if our lot is east in the midst of
labor and suffering, we have a great support and
Agnes Avery. 93
comfort in knowing that this hard life is not the
whole of our existence but only the beginning.
And to us, if we are Christians, the life to come
will resemble this only as the full-blown flower
is like the seed. We have the assurance that in
this world we shall have tribulation, you know,
and therefore we need not feel surprised and
unprepared when we are not placed just to our
taste. So we must deliberately make up our
minds to take what comes to us, not only bearing
it patiently, but I believe it is our duty really
to be happy in spite of our circumstances; not
allowing ourselves to dwell in our thoughts on
what is unpleasant in our life. And if there is
nothing pleasant to think of in our earthly
duties, we can always think of Heaven and so
find ourselves lifted above the annoyances of
earth. I often think how strange it must seem
to angels looking from the heights above to see
what trifles disturb us here; and when we are
done with our bodies we shall wonder such
transient troubles ever had such power over us.
94 Agnes and Her Neighbors.
Agnes's words had more weight with her
friends because they knew she did not speak idly,
but of that which she had known and lived;
and Mrs. Cotterill was drawn away from the
remembrance of her monotonous duties of work
and care. As the brightness faded out from the
west, and twilight deepened, they still thought
and spoke of the immortality of glory and happi-
ness which they trusted awaited even them -
two humble, weary laborers in an obscure corner
of the earth.
"' I wish you would sing Homeward Bound,'
to us, Mrs. Cotterill," said Agnes, as the stars
began to come out, one by one, and the moon
showed its golden rim above the hill.
Mrs. Cotterill had a sweet-toned voice, and it
was in harmony with the quiet of the autumnal
twilight, as she sang, -
"Out on an ocean all boundless we ride,
We're homeward bound.
Tossed on the waves of a rough restless tide,
We're homeward bound.
Far from the safe, quiet harbor we've rode,
Seeking our Father's celestial abode,
Promise of which on us each He bestowed;
WVe're homeward bound I
" Wildly the storm sweeps us on as it roars,
We're homeward bound.
Look I Yonder lie the bright heavenly shores,
We're homeward bound.
Steady, Oh pilot, stand firm at the wheel,
Steady, we soon shall out-weather the gale ;
Oh, how we fly neathh the loud creaking sail,
We're homeward bound I
"Down the horizon the earth disappears,
We're homeward bound.
Joyful, Oh, comrades. No sighing or tears;
We're homeward bound.
Listen I What music comes soft o'er the sea ?
'Welcome, thrice welcome and blessed are ye.'
Can it the greeting of Paradise be ?
We're homeward bound I
SInto the harbor of heaven now we glide,
We're home at last.
Softly we drift on its bright silver tide,
We're home at last.
Glory to God I All our dangers are o'er,
We stand secure on the glorified shore,
96 Agnes and Her Neighbors.
SGlory to God I' we will shout evermore,
We're home at last 1"
There was a silence when the last note died
away, and even Mrs. Hathaway forebore to
interrupt it. Each thought of the beautiful
home in the invisible country which awaits the
dwellers under low as well as lofty roofs -if so
be they are found following in the footsteps of
Christ our Saviour.
But remembrance of the imperative, homely
duties of every-day life soon called Mrs. Cotterill's
tired spirit back from its brief respite. It came,
however, refreshed and strengthened to take up
the burden of life again. She too 'had seen the
shining of Agnes's little candle.
So she went home to her pantry and her dairy;
and her husband was astonished to see the peace-
ful shining in her face, and to hear her singing
softly to herself as she stirred the batter, and
washed the pails,-
"Steady, Oh pilot, stand firm at the wheel;
Steady, we soon shall out-weather the gale;