Rhoda Thornton's girlhood

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Material Information

Title:
Rhoda Thornton's girlhood
Physical Description:
Book
Language:
English
Creator:
Pratt, Mary E.
Bush, C. G.
Publisher:
Lee and Shepard
Lee, Shepard, and Dillingham
Place of Publication:
Boston
New York
Copyright Date:
1874

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
alh6701 - LTUF
42761536 - OCLC
002236232 - AlephBibNum
System ID:
UF00027888:00001


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( INSTR )


Full Text






+..........
. .~ ., ..
S'-A." ga-.


100
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[11 aldUn ]

























THE GIRLHIOOD SERIES.

SIX VOLUMES. ILLUSTRATED.



AN AMERICAN GIRL ABROAD ADELINE F. TRAFTON.
THE DOCTOR'S DAUGHTER SOPHIE MAY.
ONLY GIRLS VIRGINIA F. TOWNSEND.
SALLY WILLIAMS EDNA D. CHENEY.
LOTTIE EAMES.
RHODA THORNTON'S GIRLHOOD MARY E. PRATT.



LEE & SHEPARD, PUBLISHERS, Boston.












-i..












.
I V


.- ._- "

















"TELL ME THAT AGAIN, ABOUT NEVER LEAVING THEE."
Page 13.
Page r3.








RHODA THORNTON'g GIRLHOOD.








BY

MRS. MARY E. PRATT.







ILLUSTRATED BY C. G. BUSo.







BOSTON:
LEE AND SHEPARD, PUBLISHERS.
NEW YORK:
LEE, SHEPARD, AND DILLINGHAM.
1874.







































Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873, by
LEE AND SHEPARD,

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
























ELECTROTYPED AND PRINTED BY
ALFRED MIUDGE & SON 3 SOOooL STREET.















PREFACE.


THE publishers believe that no more fitting intro-
duction to this beautiful story can be presented, than
this unsolicited testimony of New England's great
poet:-

AMESBURY, 10th, 6th mo., 1872.
My Dear Friend:
I have read some chapters of the serial story,
"RHODA," in the "Museum," with great satisfaction.
It strikes me as a very successful picture of New-
England life, in its local coloring and characterization.
I hope it may be presented to the public in a more
permanent form, as I think it would prove a favorite
with young readers.
I am very truly thy friend,
JOHN G. WHITTIER.
























CONTENTS.




CHAPTER I. PAG
THE ALMSHOUSE OF STONEFIELD 9

CHAPTER II.
AlSS DEBORAH AND THE FARM-HOUSE 26

CHAPTER III.
THE ISEW HOME...... ........... 46

CHAPTER IV.
ScHooL DAYS ......... .... .. 64

CHAPTER V.
AN OCTOBER DAY ............... 84

CHAPTER VI
TIE QUILTING PARTY 99

CHAPTER VII.
THE WARRENS ... ....... .. 117

CHAPTER VIII.
PLANS .... .. ........ 136








8 CONTFWS.


CHAPTER I PAGE
ANEWHOM.. ....... 156

CHAPTER K.
A SURRIS. ...... ...... *. 177

CHAPTER XI
Lizr's STORY .. 197

CHAPTER XII.
SUNSismn .. .. 217

CHAPTER XII.
CLOUDY DAYS .. 236

CHAPTER XIV.
"GOO&D-BY, RHODA" .. 256












RHODA THORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.



CHAPTER I.

THE ALMSHOUSE OF STONEFIELD.

POOR, palsied, old Uncle Zeb sat on a bench
under the elm-tree that grew behind the
almshouse of Stonefield. It was a warm morning
about the last of July, or Uncle Zeb would have
chosen the sunny step to crouch on; for he seemed
always cold, and with the great, striped gray cat,
could generally be found enjoying the full glare of
the sun.
Stonefield was a quiet farming town,' which had
but few paupers to support, and the almshouse
was a pleasant farm-house, differing little from the
neighboring homesteads outwardly, at least. But
the twenty or thirty inmates were not a family
group to be desired, the lame, halt, and blind,
feeble old age, and helpless little children.
It was a sad kind of a place, after all. They
had enough to eat and to wear; for Mr. Iarmon
and his wife were good-natured, rough people,







10 nIIODA TIIOSRITOY'S GIRLIIOOD.

whose interest it was to keep their charges com-
fortable ; but it was not much like a home where
father and mother and children meet together.
This warm July morning all able to help were off
in the hay-field, for yesterday the great meadow
was mowed, and now, far down in the west, the
clouds looked a little showery; so Mr. Harmon,
knowing he must make hay while the sun shone,
had hurried off his household. But Uncle Zcb's
day of usefulness was long passed; he could only
crawl out to the bench, and with his dim eyes
watch the children playing on the grass, and, now
and then, stroke gray Tip, the cat.
It was half-witted Susy Blake's particular busi-
ness to look out for the children; but to-day Mrs.
Harmon, red-faced and over-driven, had called her
to wash and pare the vegetables for dinner. Pres-
ently hearing one of the children crying, Susy
came to the door to shout, -
"Uncle Zeb I Uncle Zeb can't you take care of
them young ones? Don't you see Lizy Carr is
pulling everything away from the others?"
"Lizy, I'11 come out there and give it to you
if you don't stop !"
But Lizy, a venomous little thing, nine or ten
years old, paid no heed to Uncle Zeb's mumbled
entreaties to do better, or to Susy's threats, but
thinking the field her own, overturned the mud-
pies, threw away the ragged hats, twitched the
uncombed locks, and performed a kind of witch







THE ALMSIIOUSE OF STONEFIELD. 11

dance. At length she spied little three-year-old
Jimmy Thornton, the youngest child in the
house, and one of the latest comers, sitting close
to the foot of the elm, with a great bunch of ox-
eyed daisies and red clover in his hand. She made
one dart, and Jimmy was rolled over, the flowers
were thrown up in a kind of fountain spray, and
trampled on as they came down; but the avenger
was behind her. Before daisies and clover were
half trampled, Lizy felt her old shaker bonnet
violently pulled off, saw it in higher regions than
Jimmy's flowers had visited, and received such a
ringing slap on the check as to bring tears to her
eyes.
Her first thought of returning the new comer's
blow with interest was reconsidered when she
looked at Rhoda Thornton's face, a little
brown, freckled face, surrounded with flowing,
waving hair, of a shade so near red as to afford
a convenient handle for disparaging remarks;
but now the blue eyes fairly blazed with indigna-
tion and rage, and Lizy thought best to cry, and
say, -
"What did you do that for? I had n't touched
you, Rhoda Thornton."
"No, and you won't touch me, you naughty,
wicked girl You ought to be ashamed ; you only
plague the little ones. If you touch my brother
Jimmy again -
A nod of the head that went with this last
remark finished it sufficiently.







12 RTODA TIIORN TOY'S GIRLHOOD.

So, picking up Jimmy, she, a mite of a girl,
only ten years old, sat down side of Uncle Zeb,
and soothed Jimmy, as though she had seen forty
years. The little fracas had seemed to wake up
Uncle Zeb's dormant faculties, and he watched her
with considerable interest. Presently he saw that
while she amused Jimmy, tears were running down
her cheeks.
What makes you cry? Ain't afraid of her-
are ye ?"
O, no said Rhoda, astonished to hear the
old man speak.
Then what are you crying about? "
"I am so sorry I did it," said she, blushing,
and looking down at Jimmy.
"Did what?" asked he.
"Why, struck Lizy, and let myself get so mad.
I promised my mother I would n't let my temper
get up so, and here I've been and acted just as
bad as ever"; and now the sobs broke out.
"Where is your mother ?"
"Why, did n't you know she is dead?" said
Rhoda. "They brought Jimmy and me here the
day after she was buried, and now lie has n't got
anybody but me ; and that's what made me so mad
with Lizy; but I do wish I had n't acted so."
"Where's your father?" said Uncle Zeb.
"I don't know, but mother thought he was dead.
le went offto California when Jimmy was a little
baby, and mother never heard from him. I wish
he was alive, and could take us away from here.








THE ALMSHOUSE OF STONEFIELD. 13

Mother cried and cried to think we must come
here, but she said if I took good care of Jimmy,
and did the best I could every day, the Lord would
never leave me nor forsake me; but I have n't
done the best I could to-day."
Rhoda was talking on, more for her own satis-
faction than for Uncle Zeb's, who sat looking at
her in a dazed kind of way; but his eye brightened
when she quoted her mother's saying.
"Tell me that again," said he, "about never
leaving thee."
She repeated the passage reverently.
"My mother could say 'most all the Bible, it
seems to me," said Rhoda.
"I used to know such words too," mused Uncle
Zeb, "but now they kinder come and go, and I
like to hear somebody else say them."
Jimmy was going to sleep now in Rhoda's arms;
so she sat still. The other children had gone round
the house, and there were only the summer fore-
noon sounds to break the stillness. An old cluck-
ing hen was leading a great family round, who
talked continually. The foolish old bird thought
they were all her own, not knowing that two or
three broods had been imposed upon her, under
cover of darkness. Over in the rye-field a gaunt,
long-necked turkey was promenading her soft-
voiced darlings, who whined, "0, dear!" every
step they took.
Rhoda remembered all these things that she








"14 RHODA TIIORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

heard and saw that day from what happened after;
she remembered how a quail, which sounded close
at hand, kept calling more wet" to a distant com-
rade, which answered with the same information,
both threatening Mr. Harmon's hay. And the
focusts and grasshoppers kept up such shrill
singing, that she said "it almost went through her
head."
But as the sun became higher, the shade under
the elm became denser and more grateful; so Zeb
and Rhoda, with sleeping Jimmy, quietly waited.
At length the old man roused up again.
What was your father's name ?"
"Silas Thornton, and my mother's name was
Sylvia Warren before she married," answered
Rhoda, glad to talk again.
Warren; I used to know Warrens," said Zeb,
who, like most old people, could recall and talk of
the past, while the present was a blank; he could
not have remembered what he saw or heard the
day before, but he would at times tell long stories
of people that lived and things that happened
so long ago, that they seemed like dreams to the
listeners.
Poor Uncle Zeb had been young, and had rela-
tives and friends and pleasures in his day, but
now almost ninety years of use had worn his
earthly body nearly out, and one after another of
those whose duty it would have been to care for
him had gone from earth; so here in Stonefield







THE ALMSIIOUSE OF STONEFIELD. 15

almshouse he waited to put off the mortal and take
on the immortal. He had never had much worldly
wisdom, but the Lord's ornament of a meek and
quiet spirit" had been his, and now his Lord's
promises still came and went," as he said, through
his mind, and he waited.
"Yes, I used to know Warrens. Old Squire
Sylvester Warren was the richest man over in
Northfield, where my uncle lived, when I was a
boy. I worked there on his farm one summer.
All the great folks from the city used to come out
there and have gay times, feasting and dancing;
but he was a hard old man, and his sons were
wild. He had a daughter who died young. She
was the best-looking young woman in those parts;
her name was Silvy."
Why, that was my mother's name I told you,"
said Rhoda.
"Yes," said Zeb, paying no attention to her,
"her name was Silvy; and his son Joseph mar-
ried against his will, and he turned him off, and
William didn't turn out much, and I suppose
they're all dead now. 'Most everybody is dead
now, except old Zebedee Pettis; he seems to live
a long time," continued he, talking to himself.
"But the Lord told him a long time ago that 'lihe
would never leave him nor forsake him,' and that
if he walked through 'the valley of the shadow of
death,' he need 'fear no evil,' for he would be with
him."







16 RIIODA THORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

Uncle Zeb stopped, and leaned his head back
against the tree, with a little sigh, and Rhoda
went on listening to the birds for a few minutes
longer; but the sun was right overhead now, and
presently a great blast from the tin horn, to call in
the hay-makers, told that dinner was ready, and
woke up Jimmy at the same moment.
"Come, Uncle Zeb, to dinner," said Rhoda,
joyfully; for breakfast had been early, and the
little town's poor children had no mother's pantry
to go to for lunch (and that was not a bad thing
for them) ; so she and Jimmy ran in without
waiting to see if Uncle Zeb followed.
Jimmy was perched up on a high stool beside
Rhoda, and as he did not like boiled salt pork and
vegetables, he had his rations of brown bread and
molasses. Rhoda had her hands full in trying to
supply her own mouth and keep him from dripping
his sweets over himself and the table, which, she
knew, would bring down reproof, and he would
cry, and be sent from the table. Then, Lizy had
not forgotten her little rebuff of the morning, and
kept kicking Rhoda and Jimmy under the table;
so, no wonder she did not notice that Uncle Zeb
had not come in. When dinner was nearly over,
she heard Mr. IIarmon asking for him.
Why, there he sits, asleep under the elm-tree,"
said some one who could see out of the window.
"He grows so stupid he won't know enough.to
come to his meals much longer," said Mrs. Har-







TIE ALMSIIOUSE OF STONEFIELD. 17

mon, rather crossly, for it was hot, and her helpers
not very efficient.
Well, let him alone," said her husband, till
I get through dinner, and I'll send him in."
But Uncle Zeb's rest could not be broken; the
dim eyes saw no more on earth, the palsied hands
trembled no longer. His Lord's promises had
been sure; he had walked through the valley of
the shadow of death, fearing no evil walked
through to the Lord's mountains beyond.
Rhoda and the other children stood awe-struck,
but curious, as they brought the old man's body
into the house. They waited round, and listened,
till they knew that all preparations were finished,
and that Uncle Zeb's body lay stretched under a
white sheet, in his darkened little room ; then they
wandered out into the barn, to talk it over; for
the shower that the western clouds and the quails
had predicted, was close at hand. So to the barn
with Susy Blake they all went.
Susy was thirty years old, but in many things
she was as young as the youngest there. Lizy
Carr was sufficiently impressed to have given up
her feud with Rhoda, and as one of the older chil-
dren, began to give her views and opinions.
"I shan't sleep a wink to-night; shall you,
Rhoda Thornton?"
"Why not?" asked Rhoda.
"Why, I shall be afraid of seeing Uncle Zeb's
ghost."







18 RHODA TIORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

"I don't believe in ghosts," said Rhoda; "hut
if I did, I think I should try to sleep, so as not to
see it."
O, it would come in and wake me up ; it would
come in with its arms up so, and with a great
groan, so/ said Lizy, with a long-drawn kind of
bellow, and opening her eyes in a most fearful
way.
The little children were her admiring and hor-
rified audience, and she was going to impress
them.
"There are ghosts ain't there, Susy?" con-
tinued she, seeing Rhoda still unconvinced.
"Yes," drawled Susy, with her cross eyes very
wide open, and shaking her head. My aunt
knew a woman that saw a ghost, and it was a great
big thing, and it had horns, and it made a noise
'most like a cow, and the woman run home, and
she died ten years afterwards "
"Poh said Rhoda; it was a cow, I suppose."
"No, it warn't, Rhoda Thornton, so now said
Susy; "'twas a great, awful ghost."
Lizy did not seem to think Susy's story added
much to the probability of there being ghosts; so
she changed her attack.
Well, if you don't believe in ghosts, you'll see
one. I bet Uncle Zeb'll 'pear to you."
"Well," said Rhoda, thinking it over, "I don't
think I should be scared if he did. He'd only be
Uncle Zeb. Hle has seemed kind of old and







THE ALMSHOUSE OF STONEFIELD. 19

strange, and I don't believe but that his spirit
would seem younger and more like other folks;
but then I know he won't come back, Lizy. What
should he for? He must be so glad to get out of
that sick, old, shaky body, and away from here !
He said this morning that 'most everybody seemed
to be dead; now, you know, he'll fifid all those
old folks that he used to talk of alive."
Susy seemed not to understand what Rhoda said,
but to be soothed by it.
Who told you such things?" asked she.
My mother," answered Rhoda, sadly. I wish
Jimmy and I could be with her."
"O," cried Lizy, "it's dreadful wicked to wish
you was dead."
Well, I don't exactly wish that," said Rhoda ;
"but it's pretty hard to live here with Jimmy, when
I think how nice it used to be when I went to
school, and mother was well, and Jimmy all dressed
up and at home with her."
Jimmy havin' dood time now," said he; and
his little round face came peeping out of the hay.
You must n't get in the hay," said Susy, ".or
Mr. Harmon'l whip you; he says the cows won't
eat it, if it's pulled over."
So Jimmy's good time was spoiled.
Now the rain was beginning to fall, and Mr.
Harmon and his men were coming up with the
loads of hay. He sent the children scampering
into the house ; and they ate supperwith the light-







20 RHODA THORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

ning flashing through the sky, and the thunder
rattling the dishes with its heavy roll.
And then Rhoda helped the little ones undress,
and at length crawled in beside Jimmy, and fell
asleep, listening to the rain on the roof close over
their heads.
There were three beds in the large attic under
the roof where Rhoda and Jimmy slept. Susy
Blake and Lizy Carr occupied one, Jane Hunt who
was lame, and her sister Viny, had the third.
Jane and Viny were feeble little girls, who seemed
likely to live there until their death, as they would
never be strong enough to bind out to service, or
take care of themselves.
Rhoda could never tell how long she had slept
that night, when she was wakened by Susy and
Lizy, both calling her in distressed voices. She
struggled out of her sleep, and sat up in bed. The
rain was over, and in the bare, uncurtained win-
dow the full glory of the moon was pouring. She
could hear Jane and Viny sobbing with affright
under the bedclothes, drawn over their heads,
while Susy was sitting bolt upright, crying, Ow,
ow, ow! almost like a dog yelping, and Lizy
was throwing herself up and down on the bed in
unmixed terror.
Why, what is the matter? asked poor Rhoda,
infected with fear in spite of herself.
0, the ghost, the ghost !" gasped Lizy; don't
you see it over there in the corner ?"







TIE ALMSIIOUSE OF STONEFIELD. 21

Rhoda turned her head, and there in the dark
corner, nearer to her than to any of the others,
"was something tall and white, slowly advancing
and retreating as it waved its arms. It was only
by a mighty effort that the little girl prevented her-
self from screaming and joining in the wild terror
of her companions; but she remembered what she
had said in the afternoon, and also what her mother
had often told her of the continual nearness and
care of the Lord for his children; so she shut her
mouth and eyes to calm her little frightened soul;
but opening her eyes after a second of wordless
prayer, the grim spectre had shrunk, and resolved
itself into Susy Blake's long, faded, light calico
dress, which she had hung on a nail.
The door being a little open, the fresh wind
that had sprung up after the thunder-shower was
waving and blowing it in this uncanny manner. It
was not in human nature to resist exultation after
experiencing relief from such a weight of fear.
"Why, you foolish things exclaimed Rhoda;
"don't you see it's only Susy's dress?"
It was some time before she could convince the
frightened children; but she boldly took down the
offending garment, and at length peace reigned
again. Lizy, it seemed, had been awakened, prob-
ably by the gust that forced open the door, and she
at once perceived the ghostly form approaching
and waving its arms, as she said it would; and
she soon had the whole room roused.
2







22 RHODA TIORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

Lizy made Susy Blake promise not to tell of the
affair; but poor Susy's promises might have been
written in water. Before breakfast the next morn-
ing Lizy's ghost was told of, and inquired after by
all the household; and Lizy's opinions lost ground,
while Rhoda's gained from that time among the
children. Susy seemed not quite sure about it,
but said if it had had horns, and had made a noise
like a cow, she should have known it was a ghost
after all.
It was Friday that Uncle Zeb died, and Mr.
Harmon immediately sent notice of his death to
"newspapers in the neighboring city; for though
years had passed since any relative or near friend
of his had been heard from, still it might be seen
by some one who had once known the old man;
and so it proved, for a little before the hour ap-
pointed for the funeral, the next Sunday afternoon,
a stout, covered wagon, drawn by a substantial
horse, drove up to the almshouse door, and an
angular, spare old woman dismounted. She told
Mrs. Harmon that her name was Deborah Nichols,
and that when she was a young woman, Zebedee
Pettis, then middle-aged, had worked for her father.
She had never heard what became of him, but
when she saw the notice of his death, she deter-
mined to attend his funeral, and pay what respect
she could to one whom she remembered as an
honest, good-hearted man.
Rhoda and the other children, cleanly dressed,







THE ALMSIOUSE OF STONEFIELD. 23

and seated in a decorous row before the older pau-
pers, listened while the old minister from Stone-
field Centre said a few words to the companions of
Uncle Zeb, who mostly listened to preaching and
praying in a listless sort of way. Time and cir-
cumstances bore hard on most of the poor crea-
tures, and they were just waiting."
Then four of the men carried the plain coffin
out, over the next field, into a little sandy patch
of ground set apart from the almshouse land for
burial' purposes.
Rhoda, with the others, looked on to see the
grave filled up, and then came home. She found
that Jimmy, who was too small.to be promoted to
the honor of attending a funeral, had run out into
the barn-yard, where he became so fearfully dirty,
that, I am sorry to say, he received a thorough
shaking, was undressed, and sent to bed in dis-
grace, which so grieved Rhoda, that she came very
near having another relapse of temper, and she
went to bed in a hopeless and sorrowful state.
And thus the tiresome days dragged on for
another week. She had been a good scholar when
at school, but now she could find no books. Lizy
was mischievous, and sometimes malicious; Jane
and Viny, poor little ignorant girls, who only
knew their letters, and sickly and dull, said but
little.
Once in a while she got out her Bible, which
was the only book she was allowed to have; but







24 RHODA THORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

Lizy laughed, and made fun of her, and she knew
she was only reading it for amusement, and felt it
hardly right to do that; then Jimmy was daily
getting into trouble, and she was always angry if he
was punished or blamed; worse than that, he was
learning bad words and ways. At times the
thought of how her mother would feel to see them
so living would almost break her heart.
But she was only a little girl, and the older peo-
ple round her seeing her playing or working as she
was bid, had little understanding of the trials and
griefs that were shading her naturally cheerful spirit.
When the Saturday of the week following Uncle
Zeb's death came, Rhoda, Lizy, and the little
Hunts were instructed how to string the beans for
dinner, and were seated round the great basket.
It was like a fairy task, for the basket seemed just
as full to them as it did when they began, more
than half an hour before. Lizy was shirking her
share, and hindering the others; Jane and Viny
were slow; Jimmy had wandered off, and, Rhoda
was afraid, had gone to the trough where the
horses and cows drank. He did it almost every
day, and was brought in screaming, wet, and
dirty, to be punished.
"0, it was so discouraging thought Rhoda.
Lizy, whose eyes were everywhere except on
the beans, here informed the children that -
There 's that woman that came to the funeral,
driving in at the big gate."







THE ALMSHIOUSE OF STONEFIELD. 25

The carriage came up to the front door. Mrs.
Deborah got out, and then the boy who was driv-
ing started the stout jog-trotting horse round to
the shade, at the end of the house, where the chil-
dren were seated. They were a little afraid of
being run over when the old fellow came thumping
round so fast; but when they looked up in the
driver's face, and saw what a jolly, kind, sun-
burned face looked laughingly down at them, they
could only smile back.
"I guess you like string-beans round here," said
he, "if you're going to eat all them. Don't think
I'll stay." The children were too shy to answer
him. "Why don't you say, 'You'd better wait
till you're asked'?" continued he.
"It would n't be polite," said Rhoda, pleasantly.
"Oh, 't would n't," said he, showing his white
teeth as he laughed. "What's your first name,
Miss Polite?"
"My first name's Rhoda, and my last name's
Thornton."
"Then Polite is your middle name."
No, it is n't my name at all," said she; but
there comes Jimmy. I am so glad as the little
fellow came round the house, escorted by the cat,
who, since Uncle Zeb's departure had transferred
her attentions from the oldest to the youngest
member of the household.
Just then Susy Blake's voice was heard.
Rhoda Thornton, Mis' Iarmon says, wash your
hands, and come right in the parlor."







26 RHODA TIIORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.







CHAPTER II.

MISS DEBORAH AND THE FARM-HOUSE.

W THAT do you suppose she wants of me?"
V V said Rhoda, whose heart seemed up very
near her throat.
Lizy had been there much longer, and might
know.
Maybe that woman has come for a girl to live
with her and work, and they are going to send
you."
"But where's Jimmy? I must take him in,"
said Rhoda.
"No, they don't want him," said Lizy.
"But I shall take him. He must go wherever I
do."
Rhoda, after washing her own and Jimmy's face,
and smoothing his hair, walked tremblingly into
the parlor. The old woman was seated very
uprightly on the black haircloth sofa. Her face
was a good index of her character. Plain, straight-
forward, and thoroughly just; she was rigid and
unbending with herself as well as others. She
owned the fine old farm on which she lived, and














.. ......_.--


I -T : "



T?'








lie


--[, ,I, S L- .P -

"hlls iS RIIODA -5 1' yr GOOD IN h1E; BU T WHO 1U THIS LITTLE 'r'0"- WITII IIEI? Pa ge 27.







MISS DEBORAH AND THE FARM-IHOUSE. 27

she managed and carried it on in a manner hardly
to be surpassed. She had no near relatives living;
but at different times had taken several boys and
girls, whom she had brought up and sent out into
the world useful men and women. Now she had
only Jotham Harris, the good-natured boy of nine-
teen years, who had talked to the bean-stringers.
She had concluded, she told Mrs. Harmon, that
she was too old to again take a small girl; but
seeing the little row at Zebedee Pettis's funeral,
she thought maybe she might be spared long enough
to see another of sufficient age to care for herself.
Lizy had been put in one place, and soon came
back, like a bad penny; so Mrs. Harmon did not
recommend her. The little Hunts were not to be
thought of, but Rhoda Thornton would, it seemed
to her, just suit Miss Nichols. Jimmy she said
nothing about, for Miss Nichols would not want
him, and he could stay at the almshouse for a few
years, until he was able to be put in some place;
besides, Rhoda would be more useful without
him.
So Mrs. Harmon looked decidedly displeased
at seeing Jimmy, as he came trotting in, holding
fast to Rhoda's hand; but before she had time to
send him out, Miss Deborah's quick eye spied
him through her glasses.
This is Rhoda is it ? A good name; but who
is this little tot with her ?"
"My brother Jimmy," said Rhoda, feeling that








28 RHODA THORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

now was the time when her soul was to be tried,
but that she must prevail.
Miss Nichols is here to see about having you to
live with her; you will have a very good home,
and learn to be a smart girl. Jimmy we will keep
here a while longer; maybe some one will adopt
him," said Mrs. Harmon, decidedly.
Rhoda's face grew white and set; she was a
timid child, and dared not speak out often; but
now she must.
O, Mrs. Harmon, Jimmy must go where I go I
I promised my mother I would watch him al-
ways."
"Well, but, Rhoda, you must talk and under-
stand sense. You are nearly ten years old, and
must go when you have a chance. Now, Jimmy
is too little to do anything, and he must stay here
till he can be done something with."
The great tears began to roll down Rhoda's
cheeks, but she controlled her sobs; she must have
voice to speak.
"Won't you please take us both? You don't
know what a stout girl I am, and how I will work
if you only will."
Poor little thing. she did not look very stout
and able.
Miss Deborah turned to Mrs. Harmon.
"What should I do with such a child ? He is n't
three years old is he ? "
"0, yes," cried Rhoda; "he was three last







MISS DEBORAII AND TIE FARM-IHOUSE. 29

spring, and he'll grow real fast. He can help
pretty soon."
"I am beginning to grow so old that I don't
think I can undertake it," said she, in a low voice,
to Mrs. Iarmon.
Well, we'll manage it. Rhoda must n't lose
such a chance."
But. the little girl heard all they said; fear of
separation made her alive to every word, and at
this her self-command gave way. She caught up
Jimmy, who, frightened at her tears, began to cry
also.
O, dear me, what shall I do? what shall I do?
I promised my mother, and now they make me
leave you, Jimmy. 0, please, please don't do
it !"
Rhoda rocked to and fro in the chair she sat
down in.
"It does seem a pity to part them. I don't
know but I must give up taking her," said Miss
Deborah.
"It would be a pity for her to miss such a
chance," replied Mrs. Harmon.
"O, I will try so hard if you will only take us
both! "
I wish you would call in my boy, Jotham Har-
ris ; he would have a good deal of the trouble if
I should let both children come," said the old
lady.
Jotham was soon called, and came in, looking








30 RHODA THIORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

rather shame-faced and uncomfortable, but pleas-
ant and cheerful nevertheless.
Jotham, you know I came to see about a little
girl, and I found the very one I picked out the
other day would be the right one; but she has
that little brother, and she can't bear to even think
of leaving him. Now, I can't seem to see what to
do about it."
Jotham, who was a distant relation of Miss
Nichols, and called her aunt, looked over at sob-
bing Rhoda and Jimmy. His kind face clouded.
"Why don't you take 'em both? That little
shaver is a real cunning one. I was looking at him
this morning, and laughing to see him step round
with the cat out there."
But you know how much trouble and care he
would be."
Well, I don't believe but he '11 be more fun
than trouble, aunt Debby."
Well, Mrs. Harmon, I can but try them a
while, and see. I want to do what's right, and
I'11 take both. I'11 send Jotham over after them
next Monday afternoon. I would take them to-
day, but I 'm going on farther."
Rhoda could hardly believe the evidence of her
ears; but with release from the intense anxiety,
her shyness returned, and she could only say,
pressing up to Miss Deborah,-
"I think you're very good to me very good
indeed."







MISS DEBORAII AND THE FARM-IIOUSE. 31

"Well," said she, "you must try and be a good
girl."
Jotham made a funny bow at Jimmy as he went
out, that made the little fellow laugh and hide his
face on Rhoda's shoulder.
When the children went out doors again,
everything seemed changed. To think that only
two more nights and days, and they were going ten
miles off to live It gave them importance in the
eyes of the other children.
But Lizy, who had tried a place, told frightful
stories of the hardships and ill treatment to be
encountered.
"You'll wish you was back here 'fore a week's
out. Here you get knocked round, and don't
have much fun; but there they watch you, and
make you work all the time. You can't get off
no how."
"Well," sighed Rhoda, I am going to have
Jimmy any way."
"He '11 only make more for you to do. I should
think you'd leave him here. I can't bear plaguy
little young ones."
Now, Lizy was not so naughty a girl as her
words and actions might lead us to suppose. She
was a bright, active child, that must find some out-
let for her over-flowing life; and the poor little
thing had met with neglect or ill treatment all her
days; hence she knew nothing better than to throw
out all her quills, like a porcupine. Had she been







32 RHODA THORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

the loved child of some good home, she would have
been the pride of her parents, on account of her
bright, active ways. Her black eyes, her even,
white teeth, and abundant hair made her attractive
even now; but, alas for poor Lizy no one was
ready or willing to train the little witch-girl into
the noble woman she might become. She could
remember neither father nor mother, and she was
a kind of female Ishmaelite, whose hand was against
every one, and every one's hand against her; but
she was not so naughty as she seemed. We are
glad to think that our heavenly Father, who alone
can judge aright, finds seeds of good in such neg-
lected, weed-grown hearts, and can keep them
alive to save souls that, to our dim eyes, might
seem lost.
But it was fated that a good deal more should
happen to our little heroine and hero before Jo-
tham came for them on Monday. After dinner,
Saturday, Rhoda, Lizy, and Susy Blake were told
they might take pails, go down the hill about a
quarter of a mile, and pick blackberries.
This was a pleasant task, and they started, un-
mindful of the heat. Jimmy was rather small,
but there was no one to take care of him; so his
short legs trudged along with them.
When they reached the field which they were
directed to visit, they found pickers had been be-
fore them; only green and red berries could be
found. A man who was letting down the bars







MISS DEBORAH AND THE FiIARM-IHOUSE. 33

into the next field, to drive his ox-team through,
told them that a few fields farther on berries were
plenty. So, not wishing to carry empty pails
home, they went on. The berries were fine and
abundant, as the man had said; and in spite of the
scratching, clinging vines, they soon picked their
pails full, besides eating all they wanted. Jimmy
was black from ear to ear, for he only filled his
own little mouth.
They had walked through one field on the way
home, when they found the next one occupied by
cattle, which had come into it while they were
picking berries. One cow had rather a wild look
and way, and to their terror advanced towards the
children whenever they attempted to get over the
stone wall. Even Rhoda was afraid of cows,
harmless, quiet creatures as they are. I am afraid
of them in y-.il' when they look at me and shake
their heads. So the children were in a quandary.
Let's sit down here on this side and rest," said
Rhoda. Maybe she '11 go away, thinking we have
gone."
Susy Blake was perched upon the wall with a
great stick, which she flourished, and shouted, -
Sho go 'long Sho go 'long "
But Mooly looked at her disdainfully for a
while, and then shook her head, and made a little
run towards her, which caused Susy to retreat so
suddenly as to fall flat on her back, followed by
(wo or three stones from the wall.
3







34 IRHODA TIION1TON'S GIRLHOOD.

N.lthiJ l better offering than what Rhoda had
proposed, they sat down in the shade.
I don't s'pose she 'd hurt us," said Lizy, but
I'm scared of her."
"Jimmy afraidd moo too," said he, rhyming un-
consciously.
's ugly, I know," said Susy, who felt rather
shaky yet, after her fall. Every now and then
one of them would peep over the wall; but their
enemy, who was feeding unconcernedly, always
lifted her head and looked at them with a little
toss, as if to say,-
"You '11 see what you 'll get if you come here I "
So they sat and talked till the sun began to
throw very long shadows; then they decided that
they must risk the cow; but Jimmy was missing.
They looked all around, and Rhoda was almost
beside herself. Where could he be? After what
seemed a very long search, a little foot was seen
sticking out from behind some bushes, and there
lay the tired little fellow asleep; so Susy took
him up until he should be awake enough to walk,
and they started again. Now the cow had gone;
they could see her marching in line with the oth-
ers, which were in the field, towards a pair of bars
which a man was letting down for them to pass
through.
dear it's milking time now," said Rhoda.
"How late we shall be "
The way certainly seemed three times as far as







MISS DEBORAH AND TIE FARM-IIOUSE. 35

it did coming, and tired Jimmy was so slow It
grew dark fast, the weary fields stretched out be-
fore them; but worse than all, when they at
length reached the road, it was not the one they
came. They were certainly lost!
Susy could only stand with open mouth and
eyes, and say, -
"Why, I don't know nothing' where to go I
never see this place before." Then she began to
scold about Jimmy: "If we had n't had him, we
should n't have been so late."
"Well," said Rhoda, "there's nothing for us to
do but to walk on to some house, and find out
where we are."
She spoke cheerfully, and started on with her
poor little offending brother; but her heart was
heavy. What if they should not find any house,
and have to stay out all night? She had heard of
such things. They might starve in the woods;
there might be wolves, though she did not believe
there were : all these thoughts were chasing through
her mind, and stray tears would force themselves
down her cheeks. Just at the wolves' point, how-
ever, relief came. A long way from the road she
spied a large farm-house. It was growing so dark
that she might have passed without seeing it, save
that at the gate, which opened from the road, two
men were talking, and she heard their voices be-
fore she came to them. She stopped, and her
companions with her, until she was noticed.







36 RHODA TIIORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

The men were talking so busily, that for a sec-
ond or two they did not see her, and she had time
to observe them. The one who leaned on the gate
inside was a pleasant, stout farmer, past middle
age, but not old; the one outside was much
younger, apparently about eighteen or twenty; he
had evidently come on horseback, as a fine black
horse was pawing up the roadside with his im-
patient fore-foot, wishing folks would do their
talking after he was in his stable.
"So Walter Warren wanted to be buried up at
Northfield?" the older man was saying as they
came up.
"Yes, it seemed so much his wish, that my annt
could not think of anything else," said the other.
In the pause that followed they saw Rhoda and
her troop.
"Please, sir, could you tell us the way to Mr.
Harmon's, the poor-farm?"
"Why, child, how came you here? It's two
miles over there, on the other road."
"We lost our way out in the fields, where we
went after blackberries," said Rhoda, with quiv-
ering voice.
How could she get Jimmy two miles more?
Good farmer Easton looked at the little party.
One glance at poor Susy Blake told of her capacity.
"Well, the best thing for you to do is to go up
to the house; and I'll come in a minute and see
about it."








MISS DEBORAH AND THE FARM HOUSE. 37

Rhoda hesitated.
It is so lite now, I know they'll be worried
about us ; and I suppose we ought to go right on."
"0, go right up You can't walk so far with
that little fellow this time in the evening. I'11 see
about it; come, young man, you walk up, and
stay until I send this company on."
The young man seemed to think he would like
to see the end of the affair; so he drew the bridle
over his arm, and they made quite a cavalcade up
the road to the house.
Such a bright, pleasant room as they came into !
The evening was quite cool for a summer night,
and the bright light looked cheering to the chil-
dren. Everything was put in order for Sunday,
and a large, motherly-looking dame, and her
pretty, young dau ghter, stout, and evidently the
imago of her mother when young, sat unemployed,
taking their Saturday evening rest.
Well, wife, here 's company for you. Look at
these poor things come out from the almshouse
blackberrying, and got strayed over here, nobody
knows how; and this gentleman is young hMr.
Waring, come over to see about arranging for the
funeral of Walter Warren. Ile's to be buried in
their old burying-ground, over in Northfield."
Mrs. Easton was rather flurried at so many and
different objects of interest presented to her notice;
but Mr. Easton, a man of business, straightened
matters at once.








88 RIIODA THORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

Martha," speaking to his daughter, tell Moses
to harness old Pete into the wagon to carry them
home, and you get them something to eat, and I 'll
finish talking about this funeral."
"Was Walter Warren a relation of yours?"
said Mrs. Easton to the young man who was so
occupied gazing at the strange almshouse group
that he did not know at first that he was ad-
dressed.
And the good woman, following the direction of
his eyes, did not wonder. Susy Blake, with her
vacant cross eyes, and open mouth, sat on the edge
of a chair; Lizy, completely quelled and shy, had
slunk into the darkest corner she could find; but
Rhoda, who felt she must bear the burden, sat full
in the light, with Jimmy in her lap. The freckles
and sunburn were not to be seen by lamp-light;
the evening damp still clung to his curly, auburn
hair; the clear blue eyes, with their suggestion of
tears, and the drooping corners of the mouth
made a touchingly beautiful and sad child-picture.
"Beg your pardon, ma'am; did you speak to
me?"
Mrs. Easton repeated her question.
"He was my aunt's husband, and a very good
uncle to me. I was named for him; my name is
Walter Warren Waring."
Quite a lot of W's to write," said Mr. Easton.
"He had no children, I believe," said Mrs.
Easton.








MISS DEBORAH AND THE FARM-IHOUSE. 39

He had one daughter, named Sylvia, after his
aunt who died when he was a boy."
"I have heard about her. Well, who is there
of the old Warren stock left?"
"None of the name, I think, but my uncle's
sister, Miss Esther Warren. She is a single wo-
man, about sixty years old, and very proud and
rich. There is so much which is unpleasant con-
nected with Northfield, that she never comes here.
She keeps house in the city, and has a country
house at the sea-shore. But I will not stay any
longer, I think. I must ride over. I was directed
to Mr. Easton, as selectman of the town, and one
who would assist in making arrangements ; and I
am glad to find that he used to know my uncle."
Yes, I used to know him well when we were
boys."
Well, good night. You will oblige us by mak-
ing arrangements for next Monday afternoon."
The young man mounted the impatient black
horse, pondering many things as he rode away,
but every now and then think ng, -
"Who is it that pretty child made me think of?
I would like to know."
By the time he was off, .M-.tha called the wan-
derers into the kitchen, where were a l:irge pitcher
of milk, slices of bread and butter, and a great
plate heaped up with wonderful doughnuts. How
good all tasted If they could only escape blame
at home, it was not so bad, after all.








40 RHODA THIONTON'S GIRLHOOD.

The good farmer seemed to think of all things.
"The moon's up, is n't it?" said he. "I think
I'll drive them over myself. I can tell them
how 't was better 'n Moses. And I guess I'll come
round by Mr. Jones's," continued he, "to see about
that funeral. You can go too, Martha, if you
want to."
So he and Martha took the front seat, and the
others got in back, and in a very short time they
arrived at the alnshouse, where they found Mr.
Harmon preparing to start a hunt for them. But
Mr. Easton, who was well known in the town, so
arranged matters that not a word of blame fell on
them, and they tumbled to bed and were asleep in
a marvellously short time.
Sunday was a lovely day at Stonefield poor-
xarm. Mr. and Mrs. Harmon went sometimes to
church, but the children seldom had clothes suit-
able, even if there should be a meeting near
enough for their walking, which was only once in
five or six weeks, when the school-house, about
half a mile off, was used for that purpose. The
meeting-house was more than two miles distant.
The farm children were sometimes sent to school
in this same district; but Rhoda had never been,
as it was nearly the close of the spring term, when
she and Jimmy came to Stoncfield. Their mother
had died in a town some distance away, but in-
quiry proved their father to have belonged in
Stonefield. So here the little waifs were sent.








MISS DEBORAH ANYD THE FAR1M-IIOUSE. 41

"I hope," said Rhoda to Susy Blake, on this
Sunday morning, that where we are going is
near a meeting-house, and we can go every Sun-
day to church. I don't want to do just tho same
that day as any other."
"Well," drawled Susy, "I like to see the folks
come in, and hear the singin', but I get sleepy
pretty quick don't you ?"
"I do sometimes, but not very often. I can't
understand all the preachers say; but the reading
and singing, and thinking that all the people there
are reading and singing with me, make it pleas-
ant, I think."
Lizy Carr seemed quite subdued this day; she
was getting to respect Rhoda. She found her a
kind, warm friend when well treated, but not dis-
posed to tolerate any impositions; and she liked
her all the better for that. The poor little Hunts
were so sickly and dull, she knew she should miss
Rhoda sadly.
"I 'most wish I was going to a place, too," said
she.
"If you'd only act as well as you can, you'd
be a great deal smarter girl than I," replied Rhoda.
" I can't do things half so quick and well as you
when you try."
Praise was so unusual to Lizy that tears almost
came into her eyes, and she had to dance round,
and act awkwardly, to avoid showing her feelings;
but she said, after a while, -








42 RHODA TIIORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

"Well, if I get sent out again, I mean to try;
only, if they go to treating me bad, I shall act bad,
I expect."
Jimmy was rather cross and tired after the
tramp the day before; and so, attending to him,
and visiting the hens and the pigs, and other dumb
friends, the long day wore away, and Rhoda and
Jimmy whispered their prayers for the last time in
this stopping-place of their life.
Brisk and early on Monday morning began the
collecting together of the few things the little ones
could call their own. Rhoda gave a beautiful,
little, deserted, humming-bird's nest to Viny Hunt,
who had a fancy for hoarding such things ; her fine
white jack-stones, that she was weeks hunting for
before she found a set to her mind, she gave to
lame Jane, whose active little hands tried to make
up for her helpless little feet. It was some time
before she could find anything to give Susy Blake;
but she at last thought of a tiny looking-glass, in a
gilt frame, one of her few relies of home which
she could bestow. One would not have thought
poor Susy would care for a lookiig-glass, but noth-
ing gave her more satisfaction than to peruse her
own face in a mirror; doing that her content was
unbounded. She had nothing left for Lizy but
her bird-feather pin-sight," carefully arranged in
a paper box, with a clear bit of glass over it. It
was a very pretty thing, for the little girl had an
artist's eye for beauty and color sober, soft,








MISS DEBORAH AND THE FARM-IHOUSE. 43

mottled feathers, from hens and turkeys, mixed
with white from the geese, with now and then a
brilliant spot of blue, where a feather from the jay
shone, and the oriole's vivid orange. They made
a unique pin-show." Tipsy furnished the wild
bird plumage, for she was a mighty hunter among
eats.
Mrs. Harmon was very kind to the children on
this day, and saw that their small possessions were
in the little trunk. Their clothing was good, but
much worn, when they came to Stonefield; and
children soon demolish half-worn things. There-
fore Mrs. Harmon, to have them go decently, had
purchased, some stout, cowhide shoes, and Jimmy
was overwhelmed with a coarse, broad-brimmed,
straw hat. But as they sat waiting, after dinner,
to be sent for, they were two, sweet-looking little
children, in spite of all disadvantages of dress.
When the stout horse came thumping up to the
door, Rhoda was not half so glad as she expected
to be. She looked piteously at those around her;
it had grown to be home, such as it was, and she
was again adrift. Another new abiding-place to
fit into Poor little soul, no wonder the lips trem-
bled, and tears fell I All kissed them, while Jotham,
jolly and pleasant as before, threw in the trunk,
and then tossed in Jimmy; Rhoda clambered in
without a word.
"Let us hear how they get along," said Mrs.
Harmon.








44 RHODA THORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

"Yes, ma'am," replied Jotham; and they were
off.
Rhoda looked back until the road turned, then
forward : the road and her life lay before her.
Well, little boy, you've got more hat than
head, have n't you? said Jotham, chucking Jimmy
under the chin, and making him laugh.
How far are we going? asked Rhoda.
Well, it's about twelve miles to our house;
but you see we ain't going straight there. I
brought Aunt I)ebby round through Northfield, and
left her at the old Warren place. There's a funeral
there, of a rich city man that Aunt Debby used to
know, and we are going back to take her after
it's through."
"0," said Rhoda, "that's the same funeral I
heard of where we went when we got lost Satur-
day."
Did you get lost ? Why, how did that happen ?"
Rhoda who loved to talk when she could find
an audience, gave him a long account of their
adventures.
Why, 't was up at Daniel Easton's, I'll warrant,
you came out."
"Yes, I remember now, they called him Mr.
Easton."
Jotham looked pleased.
I should n't wonder if you saw Martha."
"Yes, Martha got us some milk, and bread and
butter, and doughnuts, and rode over with us."







MISS DEBORAHI AND THE FARM-IHOUSE. 45

Jotham smiled, but said nothing more.
The children were not old enough to appreciate
the beauty of the country through which they were
riding. For the three miles they had travelled,
the road was a continual but gradual rise from
Stonefield, with rich old farms stretching away on
either side. And now they turned into a long ave-
nue, at the farther end of which they could see a
large, square-roofed house. Around the door stood
groups of men; and under the shade of the many
trees and outbuildings stood vehicles of all kinds,
from the splendid city coach to the open wagons
of the neighboring farmers.
"Aunt Debby said, if the funeral was n't over,
we had better ride over here through the barn-
yard, and stand round at the end of that crib ; there
we could see, and not be seen much. I suppose
she thought it would n't look right to be bringing
a trunk to a funeral." So, obedient to instruc-
tions, they took their positions.








43 RTIODA TIIORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.







CHAPTER III.

-THE NEW HOME.

" ITELL," said Rhoda, "I seem to see a great
VT many funerals. Uncle Zeb's only a week
ago, and now this one; and it seems strange that
Uncle Zeb was talking about Warrens, who lived
over in Northfield, that very morning he died.
I 'd just told him my mother was named Warren;
maybe she was some relation to this man."
Jotham was so intent looking at the people
who had begun to come out, that he paid no
attention to what she was saying. The services
were over; and the stately hearse, with two black
horses, drove up to the door; the coffin was
placed in it, and it drove down the avenue. Then
a close-shut coach drove to the door, and the
young man whom Rhoda had seen at Mr. Eas-
ton's, assisted a lady in black, with a long veil,
into it; then the clergyman came out with another
tall, black-robed lady; and thus one carriage
after another passed down the avenue. Rhoda
recognized the Eastons, and thought Martha saw
her, but found it was Jotham she was smiling at








TIHE NEWV HOME. 47

- not much of a smile, for, remembering she
was at a funeral, she tried to look sober; but
Jotham looked pleased, though a little red-
faced.
The graveyard is just over on the hill there,"
said he; and looking, they saw the hearse had
already turned into it. Miss Deborah came out
now, and hurried them off, so as to be away before
the carriages came back.
So here's Rhoda and Jimmy. Well, I'm afraid
they '1 be pretty tired before they get home," said
she, after they started; "but we have such a long
ride before us, that it won't do to stop, so we
must eat some gingerbread we've got here, and go
along."
She talked a little while to the children, and
then began to look at the farms they were passing,
and to talk of the people who owned them, and
their management, until Jimmy got to sleep, with
his head in Rhoda's lap; and then the voices
began to sound very far off to the little girl, and
somebody seemed to be placing something behind
her head, and she knew nothing more until every-
thing stopped with a sudden Whoa and they
were at home.
Excitement and fatigue had so overcome the
children, that they could not notice much that
night, but ate their suppers half asleep ; and only
feeling what a clean, nice room and bed they were
in, they slept dreamlessly till morning. The first








48 RIIODA TIIORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

thing Rhoda knew, Miss Deborah was beside her
bed, speaking low, -
"Come, get up, now; but don't wake your
brother yet, if you can help it. Breakfast is about
ready. After this, you must help get it; but I
thought I would let you sleep this morning, you
were so tired. You can come down-stairs and
wash."
While Rhoda was dressing she had time to look
round her room. The ceiling slanted down one side,
so she judged it was under the roof; and looking
out of the window, she found she was in the L of
the house. She could look down into the poultry
yard,,where turkeys gobbled, ducks quacked, and
hens, geese, Guinea hens, and numberless doves
added their noise; but over on the fence was a
more magnificent sight than all-a monstrous
peacock, with tail all spread. Rhoda could hardly
restrain herself from waking Jimmy that moment
to see him. An older person would have been
more struck with the beautiful scenery. Miss
Nichols's farm lay gently sloping towards the
south, and Rhoda's window looked over a green,
fertile valley, to the hills of Northfield.
The little room was clean and comfortable, but
with no 1 uperfluity or ornament. The floor was
bare, except a long strip of home-woven rag car-
pet, which was spread between the bed and the
small pine bureau. Over the bureau hung a shin-
ing little looking-glass, that made Rhoda's round








THE IEW HOME. 49

face have a very queer, twisted look, while her
complexion was of a green tinge ; but she saw the
whitewashed wall looked the same hue in the glass;
so she made up her mind she had not changed
color during the night. When dressed, she went
out into the passage. She found the stairway
close at hand. The door of an adjoining room
stood open; and seeing a tumbled, narrow bed, she
concluded Jotham slept there, which she found"
afterwards was the fact. Another door led into
the two-storied part of the house, where ? 1 Deb-
orah slept; so she felt quite safe, and surrounded
by friends. The stairs turned suddenly near the
foot, and Rhoda found herself directly in the
kitchen, where the breakfast was almost ready.
A round table was set in the farther corner of the
large kitchen, and corn cakes, fried ham, luscious
sweet corn, and mealy potatoes were pleasant to
sight and smell, and much more so to taste, the
little girl thought, who had for so long lived on
the not very well cooked fare at the poor farm.
As they ii--_,...l breakfast, Jimmy was heard
crying for Rhoda, who hurried up and soon
brought him down. IIe was installed in a high
chair which Jothamn had found under the eaves in
the garret. Miss Deborah said she rather thought
it was the one she sat in herself when a baby.
Certainly it looked ancient enough for almost any
number of years to have gone over it; but Jimmy
found no fault, although he did rather slip I. i,... .I..








50 RIODA TTHOPTON'S GIPRLOOD.

While he was eating his breakfast, aunt Deborah
instructed Rhoda how to pick up and wash the
dishes. She was a very hard worker herself, and
wished all of her household to be the same. There
were no waste moments in her day, and every
household duty must be performed in the best
manner. After the breakfast dishes were placed,
each in its ovii particular spot on the closet shelves,
she sent tlh little girl up to make her own and
Jotham's bed. Rhoda was very sure she could do
that without showing; but when Aunt Debby came
up on a visit of inspection, both had to come to
pieces again, and be made up in the prescribed
manner. Rhoda felt rather down-hearted about it,
but could see that a marked improvement was
made in their appearance by the change.
Coming down, she found Jimmy had gone to the
barn with Jotham and John Speers, Aunt Debby's
hired man. He did not live there, but had a ner-
vous, sick wife in a small house a little way down
the hill. Aunt Debby was now going to her milk-
room, and told Rhoda she might run over the
house, and look into all the rooms, until she came
"up again. She was glad to do this, although she
felt timid as she opened door after door, into large,
darkened rooms. Aunt Debby clung to old fash-
ions; she made no new-fangled things," as she
called them. There were no carpets in the house,
except the home-woven ones, and, as it seemed to
Rhoda, hundreds of rugs rugs braided, and rugs








THE NEW HOME. 51

made of canvas, with gay rags sewed on or pulled
through; for when other work failed, Aunt Debby
always had rags on hand, as Rhoda afterwards
found. Use, durability, and economy were all
Aunt Debby looked for in buying or planning any-
thing.
There was a large sitting-room, where the old
lady sat in warm weather, whenever she allowed
herself to sit down, and a great parlor, so dark-
ened that when Rhoda opened the door, she started
back in alarm at the row of eyes that stared at
her from the wall; but she saw in a moment that
they were only portraits. Aunt Debby's father
had hired a wandering artist to paint portraits of
himself, wife, and six children, for a very small
sum of money; and the fearful results glared at
visitors from eight, black, wooden frames. They
were the only pictures Miss Nichols ever admired
ortolerated. All the originals, save Aunt Debby,
the baby of the group, had long since passed from
mortal vision; but she traced likenesses, and loved
them all, bad as they were made to look.
From the parlor Rhoda went up-stairs to the
spare rooms, with their white floors bare, save the
inevitable braided and tufted rugs, and smelling of
lavender. She admired the high bedsteads, with
testers, snowy curtains, and puffed up feather-beds
that looked likely to smother one. She peeped
into the giit framled mirrors that hung over the
high bureaus. They seemed astonished to see such








52 RHODA TIIOIRTOY'S GIRLHOOD.

a young, little face looking into them. There were
great cases of drawers, of which the legs were
nearly as high as Rhoda's head before any drawers
began. Consequently Aunt Debby had to mount
on a chair to reach the top. When she came back
through the sitting-room, she saw a bookcase,
and paused to look into it. How she hoped there
were books there she might be allowed to read I
but she dared not stay now, and she reached the
kitchen just as Aunt Debby came up the cellar
stairs.
Dinner was the next event; and she helped with
the vegetables, and ran to the barn to meet Jimmy,
who was bringing in cggs in Jotham's hat, at great
risk to both. lHe was wild with delight at seeing
the peacock, but rather awe-struck at the gobbler,
who seemed to know his little dress had been red,
although now faded to a nondescript color. After
the dinner table had been cleared away, Rhoda
would have been glad to look at the books; but
Aunt Debby always had something to do.
"Now we 'll go up-stairs-, and look over your
clothes. Mrs. Iarmon said you had nothing lit to
go to meeting in, and we must see about that;
and I think we'll put Jimmy into pamtaloons this
fall ; he's pretty small, I know, but it is less trou-
ble, and warmer ; and Jotham has some old clothes
I can cut over. I guess I 've got the patterns I used
to make his by."
Jotham was twenty years old now; co poor








ITHE NEW HOME. 53

Jimmy did not bid fair to look very modern in his
new clothes.
"Did i 'i .1:1 always live here?" asked Rhoda.
"Ever since he was six years old; he was my
cousin's boy. :ri,. was left a widow, and came
here with him when he was six. She had con-
sumption, the slow kind, and lived till he was
twelve, and now I call him my boy."
"I think he's a good boy, though he's a pretty
big one," said Rhoda.
Your gowns are pretty much all alike, I think;
but they were good ones in their day."
"Yes, as long as mother could work, she made
us good clothes."
"How long was she sick? "
Only three weeks. She had a fever, the doctor
said."
Aunt Debby had inquired of others, to learn of
the children's parents ; so she did not pursue the
conversation in regard to them, but turned to the
clothes again.
"Well, I've some brown-and-white gingham,
like a dress I once had. I bought a whole piece at
a bargain, and it was the best thing to wash and
wear; it will make a good dress for Sundays for a
few weeks, and then do for a school dress."
"0, am I to go to school? How glad I
am! "
Yes, you are to go to school when the weather
is right. You must get up early, so as to do up







b4 RHODA THORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

the chores; and when Jimmy gets his clothes, he
can go part of the time too."
"I've wanted to go so much! I'll try and do
everything."
"About something for your head now. I've
lots of straw braid in the house, and to-morrow I'11
send you down with some to John Speers's house.
His wife sews straw when she thinks she's able;
and she'll make you a hat. I can find some dark
ribbon, and that will do both now and in the winter.
Let's see; it's Tuesday afternoon now. I don't
suppose we can get all done this week; but we'll
see."
The gingham was brought from Aunt Debby's
stores, and cut out that day. There was not much
attention paid to the fit of it. Aunt Debby's chief
object seemed to be to have it loose and large
enough to allow of growth; and the material itself
was far from beautiful, looking more suitable for
Miss Deborah than for a girl ten years old.
After breakfast next morning the Dunstable
braid was found, and Rhoda directed to John
Speers's house. John himself was a simple,
sturdy man, who looked so hearty and so well fed
that Rhoda was quite astonished to find his wife a
puny, whining woman, sitting wrapped in a shawl,
warm weather as it was. The little house was
clean as hands could make it, for there were no
children to mar things, or put them out of ordeir.
The two great objects of Mrs. Speers's life seemed





















,,~~111,111, V
J. I



ii 1 11IN ~;; IIirlIi

--- ---





;I~lii





i
i







RI~iTOI)A V. jlTRja







RnODA VJ.SITS M3RS. SPrERS. Page 54-







THE NEW HOME. 55

to be, to keep things in order, and to take medi-
cine.
So you 're the little girl up to Miss Nichols's -
be you? And you want a hat ? Well, I don't know
as John '11 think I'm able-he knows how poorly I
was last night but I '11 take the straw and the
measure of your head, and try. You can come
down Friday, towards night, and maybe it 'll be
done."
The week was a very busy one. What with
helping make her dress, and the numberless little
household jobs, Rhoda had very little time to
think; but now and then she wished she could see
some little girl, and play a while. Jimmy was
growing to be the darling of all. John Speers
carried him down to his house, to his wife, who
quite "brightened up at sight of him, and took to
him right off, and he to her," John triumphantly
told Miss Deborah. iHe was rather proud of his
feeble wife, but aunt Debby had not much patience
with her. She worked, sick or well, and made
no complaint, and expected others to do the
same.
Friday night the hat was finished, and Saturday
saw the gingham also completed, with a round
cape made to go with the dress. Sunday morning
was fine, and Aunt Debby decided to go to meet-
ing with Jotham and Rhoda. John Speers carried
Jimmy to his house, to the great satisfaction of
himself and the little boy.








56 RIIODA TIIORNTON'S GIRLIIOOD.

When the new dress, cape, and hat were on,
Aunt Debby said, -
There, that 's the way I like to see a child look;
no ribbons or foolishness ; there's something that
will wash and wear."
But poor Rhoda, when she looked at the little
old-fashioned, brown figure !.i the glass, almost
winced. As I said before, she had a fine eye for
beauty and color, and she glanced at her coarse
shoes with a sigh. I forgot to say that Aunt
Debby, who could turn her hand to all trades, had
shingled both the children's hair not very scien-
tifically, but thoroughly, so far as shortness went;
so even that ornament failed Rhoda. The hat was
trimmed with a well-washed ribbon, the original
color of which was a puzzle. Now it was a dingy
brown. But once in the covered wagon, with the
sides rolled up, and Charley, the horse, trotting
briskly along, she forgot her dress, and enjoyed
every moment. They rode four miles over pleas-
ant hills, and through beautiful valleys, until they
came to the church, at Northfield Centre. There
were a few fine residences hero. Here was also
the town-house, with its liberty-pole in front, not
far from the church. A little farther on, a school-
house, ,li;i ..! by the name of academy, with a
tiny belfry and bell, also fronted the elh-bordered
green. Behind the church was a long shed, di-
vided into stalls for horses and carriages, many of
which were already occupied, while other horses,







THE NEW IOME. b i

hitched to posts and fences, were whisking and
stamping off flies. As Aunt Debby and Rhoda
were getting out, a stylish carriage drove up, and
"a little girl, about Rhoda's age, with a lady who
seemed to be her mother, went up the steps at the
same time. How beautifully the little lady was
dressed such a clear, white muslin, such nicely-
1;itiig, bronze boots, and kid gloves, and the flow-
ing sash, and hat ribbons Rhoda saw them in a
glance; but when she came, in her momentary
survey, to the smooth curls, and delicate features,
she shrank from the unmistakable look of disdain
on the pretty face, as she held her dress away
from the coarse gingham. The quick temperi that
held Lizy Carr in check raged away in the little
heart for a few minutes.
"How I would like to strike her, and tear off
her fine clothes, to look so at me because I am
poorly dressed," thought she, glancing over from
the side pew, where she was sitting, to the well-
placed seat in the centre of the church where the
little girl was daintily fanning herself with a gor-
geous fan.
It was not until the voice of the gray-haired
minister, -.lyi"v' a, "aving met together for the
worship of Almighty God," fell on her car, that
she drove out the evil spirit and welcomed back
the good.
O, that I should feel so the first time I have
been in meeting for so long!" was her ashamed








58 RIIODA TIIORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

thought; and in spite of temptation, she resolutely
pushed away all remembrance of the indignity
offered her, or her ugly dress and hat, and thought
of other and better things. Her mother had been
a sweet singer, and Rhoda had inherited her voice ;
and when the familiar hymn tunes began to sound
from the organ, her heart'grew glad, and her clear,
childish voice joined in with the voices of the
congregation.
She was so engrossed that she did not see Aunt
Debby's look of blended astonishment and amuse-
ment, as she watched her through her glasses, or
that many others of her neighbors in church looked
with kindly glances at her. Of course she could
not understand much of the sermon; but to hear
the Bible read, once more to sing hymns, and know
that she was joining in the worship of the Lord,
was so pleasant to her, that she was soothed and
happy so much so, that when the services were
over, and Aunt Debby was stopping to speak to
different persons, and the little high and mighty
miss again gave the gingham-clad girl to understand
the difference between them, gingham asserted
itself, and gave muslin and ribbons an honest,
straightforward, but unabashed look, and drove the
unpleasantness away at once.
The Eastons were there, or I-i. Easton and
M\artha were. They talked with Aunt Debby, and
recognized Rhoda, inquired after Jimmy, and told
her she must come and see them some time and







TIE NEW HOME. 59

become acquainted. Mr. Easton, they said, was
almost sick; so they drove Pete themselves. Just
then Jotham came, bringing Pete up to the steps ;
he seemed glad to see them, but had not much to
say; then he brought Charley, and they started.
It was all pleasant, and Rhoda thought of Lizy
and the Hunts, and concluded in her wise head that
it was better to be in a place, if you did have to
work hard, and have no little girls to play with.
Everything had been cooked for Sunday the day
before, and Aunt Debby's custom was to have din-
ner and supper together when they returned home;
so by four o'clock the meal was eaten, and every-
thing cleared away.
Rhoda was then told that she might do just as
she wished. Jotham took Jimmy out for a walk;
Aunt Debby sat down in the favorite rocking-chair
by the sitting-room window, with her Bible, and
Rhoda was soon perched on a kitchen chair before
the bookcase; and a rather hard case it was for a
little girl to find amusement from. Such a collec-
tion! books of sermons, laws of the State, and of
the United States; a dictionary, one or two spell-
ing-books, and a grammar, bound volumes of some
farming periodicals, etc.; but just as she was
thinking whether she would give it up, or take
down John Rogers's primer and W ebster's spelling-
book, she spied another old, well-worn volume,
and opening it, and finding pictures, she concluded
to try that. So, replacing the others, she carried








60 RlODA TIORNTON'S GIRLHIOOD.

her chair back, and seated herself on the kitchen
doorstep.
The frontispiece was a very ancient picture of a
man with a great bundle on his back, walking on
towards a far-off gate. She thought he must be a
pedler, but the title-page showed the book to be
"The Pilgrim's Progress," by John Bunyan. She
began to read the wonderful dream that charms
both old and young. Jimmy came home, but she
could only smile at him, with her eyes still on the
page. Jotham fed the poultry close by her, but
turkey and peacock spread their glories in vain, if
they coveted her notice. She listened to the argu-
ments of Christian's neighbors ; she waded through
the slough with him; she grieved over Pliable's
desertion; shuddered at Beelzebub's archers, and
entered the gate delightedly, with the burdened
one fleeing from the wrath to come. It was a sor-
rowful moment when Aunt Debby told her it was
too dark for her to read any more.
"It will spoil your eyes, child; but that is a
good book, and you can read in it some other time.
So now go to bed with Jimmy; for to-morrow is
washing-day, and we must be up real early."
So ended the children's first Sunday at Mi-
Deborah's.
And the days went on in the same monotonous
hard-working way. Comfortable and well treated
the children grew fat and hardy through the late
summer and early fall. But one evening in Sep-







THE NEW HOME. 61

tember Jotham came home from the grist-mill,
with good news for Ihodi, the district school
was to begin in one week from the next Monday.
It was then Wednesday. The blue eyes danced,
and she could hardly sit still.
"And, Aunt Debby," continued Jotham, Mr.
Bruce said it was a young woman going to teach,
and she won't want to board round; and here 's
about the nighest place to the school-house, where
there's anybody she'd want to board with at all,
and lie wanted to know if you would n't take her."
That's just like Sam Bruce. His house ain't
more than twenty rods farther off on the other road ;
but neither he nor his wife would ever think of
troubling themselves to take any one."
"Well, nobody'd want to go if they did; for
Mrs. Bruce is so cross and stingy, they would n't
get enough to cat. Now, here, you know, every-
body that comes gets so fat they don't know what
to do. Just look at Rhoda's cheeks "; and he
pinched the round, red specimens of Aunt Debby's
good feeding.
Jotham wanted the teacher to come, and he knew
how to manage to have his way.
You should n't talk so about Mary Bruce ; but
then I guess it would n't be a very good place to
live. I don't suppose it would make much ,i.e r-
ence to us, and Rhoda and Jimmy could go along
when she went in the morning. I'11 see about it
to-morrow."








62 RHIIODA TIIORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

Jotham knew it was the same as settled, and
that he should be sent to tell Mr. Bruce that the
teacher might come; but Mr. Bruce, who was
school trustee, came over himself, and saved
Jotham the trouble. He said the new teacher was
a Miss Miles, who had very good recommenda-
tions, and he thought would do. She came from
a distance, and would arrive there on the Saturday
before her school was to begin. She had friends
at N ,,rhii. i1. Centre, but that was too far away for
her to board. So all was understood and arranged,
and Mr. Bruce rode away.
Rhoda was a great castle-builder, and she formed
many pictures, and imagined many things in re-
gard to the new teacher. Her coming was the
pivot round which everything turned; she could
not understand how Aunt Debby could go on
as if nothing of importance was about to occur.
She had one of the chambers opened and aired,
but beyond that did nothing out of the usual
course.
Rhoda questioned Jotham as to what he sup-
posed the lady would be like; and he gravely
informed her that he guessed she was about as old
as Aunt Debby, and had a long neck and hooked
nose, and wore green spectacles; that she would
have him cut a large stick each day from the black
birch tree, and make Rhoda carry it to school.
He would have talked some time longer, but she
would not hear.








THE NEW HOME. 63

"I don't believe you think any such thing,
Jotham Harris."
Still, though unbelieving, she could not help
associating his description with her ideas of the
teacher, and was much relieved when a little, ele-
gant, fair-faced young lady dismounted from the
stage on the Saturday night, which happened to
be rainy. Miss Mary Miles had little idea of the
wonderful admiration this little girl, with short
hair and long dress, who stood by to take her b)on-
net and wrappings, was forming for her; but she
thanked her pleasantly, and Rhoda went to bed
happy.








64 RIIODA TIIORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.







CHAPTER IV.

SCHOOL DAYS.

HIE rain fell on the next day steadily and plen-
tifully. Aunt Debby staid not at home for
that, however; but ';--, Miles, who was ..,;'
from headache, concluded not to venture out.
Rhoda was left to keep house and take care of
Jimmy. Miss Miles went to her room after Aunt
Debby and Jotham drove away, and the little boy
and girl were left down-stairs alone. Rhoda hur-
ried up her few remaining duties, so as again to
journey on with Christian, whom. she had taken
short journeys with every Sunday since her first
one there. Jimmy had enough amusement in
watching a litter of kittens that Jothani had found
and brought from the barn in a basket, to the great
disgust of the old cat, who was spending her spare
moments in ]--. .;:_, them around by the back of
their necks, trying to find some opening by which
she could convey them to their nest in the hay
again. The first time she tried it, Jimmy seat-
ted her furiously, for he thought she was trying
to cat the little furry things; but after Rhoda had








SCHOOL DAYS. 65

explained the matter to him, he thought it great
fun to see the troubled old puss fetch and carry;
so Rhoda read in peace.
After a while kitty found a door ajar, and seiz-
ing one of her darlings, with head up marched for
the barn, stepping daintily through the puddles,
Jimmy watching her with delight from the win-
dow; then back for another and another, until the
four squeaking little things were safe at home
again. Then Jimmy lay down on the chintz-cov-
ered settee, to think about it, and in thinking, his
eyes shut up; anld when Rhoda became conscious
of the unusual stillness, she found the little fellow
fast asleep. So she went on into the land Beulah,
and was walking and talking by the river which
Christian by this time had reached, when Miss
Miles's pleasant voice spoke close to her.
What are you reading so interestedly, Rhoda?"
Blushing with shyness and pleasure, Rhoda
answered, -
I am reading what a man dreamed about an-
other man named Christian."
"0, Pilgrim's Progress'! said she. "I do
not wonder you are interested. I read it the first
time when I was about as old as you are; and I
have read it many times since. What are you
reading now? "
O, I am nearly through! He is waiting by
the river. Aunt Debby says there is a meaning to
it which I must try to find out."








66 RHODA TIORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

Well, yes, there is a meaning; but I think you
are rather young to find it out yet. You might as
well read it now like any interesting story. You
are to be one of my little scholars, I hope."
"Yes, ma'am. I am very glad I am to go to
school, for it's nearly a year since I went, and I
am afraid I shall forget all I used to know."
Miss Miles won Rhoda's confidence, and by a
few leading questions led her to tell her sad little
story.
Well, dear, I am glad you have fallen into such
good hands. You must try to be a good girl, and
learn well; you will get along nicely; you will find
many hard things; we all do," said Miss Miles,
with a sigh; "but if we take things rightly, doing
the best we can, thinking more of others than
ourselves, we shall find the way made plain before
us day by day, and pleasant things will come to us
as well as hard."
She paused, hardly knowing whether Rhoda
would understand her; but the little girl broke in
gladly -
"I know it is so, for one Sunday"-
She stopped, remembering that perhaps she had
hitter not tell of her dislike of her dress, and the
little girl; but Miss Miles's smile and, What of
one Sunday?" reassured her, and the whole story
came.
"Yes, I see you understand what I mean, through
the best teacher, Experience; that's a teacher I







SCHOOL DAYS. 67

have taken, and am still taking, daily lessons
of."
So tney tamed on, and when Jimmy woke up,
he crept into the new teacher's lap, and heard
stories about Mother Hubbard and The House
that Jack built." Aunt Debby found the three fast
friends when she returned.
At sunset the rain was over, and his majesty the
sun came out in full glory. Rhoda's heart bounded
with joy, not for the beauty of the sight, but be-
cause the prospect was of a fair day on the morrow.
The nett morning she was down-stairs as soon
as Jotham, but in her great haste and excitement
was far from helping as much as usual. Jimmy
was not to go yet a while, until Miss Miles had
organized her little tribe, and put them in working
order. Jotham carried them over to show them
the way. The school-house was a little, blank,
bare-looking building, in an open lot, with a very
scanty show of grass. Some half dozen children,
of various ages, were already at the door, early as
it was ; most of them had dinner pails or baskets in
their hands, and all stared at the teacher and Rhoda.
The interior of the house was roughly finished at
first, and had not been improved by its years of
use. Boot heels and jackknives had spent their
force upon floor and desk ; and the results showed
a powerful agency in them. It smelt very clean
and soapy now, for it had been well scoured on the
Saturday before.








68 RHODA TIOR1NTON'S GIRLHOOD.

When the children were all gathered, at nine
o'clock, Miss Miles found there were about thirty
boys and girls, their ages ranging froln) five to
eighteen years. She was a goo raider of faces;
and, with few exceptions, she found a pleas:at,
teachable, little company. But one surly-looking
boy, about sixteen years old, was not so satisf.c-
tory; she read trouble with him. Among the
girls, she saw one with a dissatisfied, tale-bearing
face, and one or two dull, heavy countenances;
but upon the whole, she was pleased with her
pupils.
About all that could be done the first day was to
learn the names and form the scholars into classes.
To Rhoda's satisfaction, she found herself among
the scholars forming the first classes, in most
things. Study and books had always been a de-
light to her, and her year's rest had, it seemed,
only brightened and freshened her acquirements.
The surly boy was named Sam Hobart; he
answered growlingly to questions, but said nothing
disrespectful. Rhoda made some acquaintance
with the girls, and fairly revelled in being once
more among children. This first day was delight
unalloyed and perfect.
In the evening Miss M l. -, questioned Jotham
about her pupils, for he knew all the people in
town. This was the town of Southfield, and of
course lay south of Northfield. Stonefield lay ad-
joining both, on the east. When Jotham heard







SCHOOL DAYS. 69

that Sam IIobart had made his appearance he was
indignant.
That's too blad. That fellow has broken up
the school two or three times; last time 't was a
master, and they had a regular fight, and Sam
blacked the master's eyes, and the master would n't
stay if Sam war n't turned out. The trustee was
old Mr. Battey, and he said the master must mas-
ter Sam. So he would n't stay; said 't would spoil
the school. Last year Sam did n't come ; but now
I bet he thinks it's a lady, and he can cut up
again."
What would the present trustee do, if he should
make trouble?" asked Miss Miles.
I rather think he'd say, Turn him out !' but
it's too bad for him to be let come."
Jotham, do you know two Brown girls, about
as big as I am?" asked Rhoda.
Yes, they live over on the turnpike; they are
good little girls, I guess."
"I liked them ever so much," said she; "but
one of the girls I did not like so well. She sits
farther back, and is a bigger girl; her first name
is Maria."
I know ; it's Maria Jones ; she 's always telling
tales of the other scholars; and sometimes she
makes up things that never happened, I guess."
You 'd say it quicker if you called it lying,"
said Aunt Debby, dryly.
"Well, 't would n't sound so well," said Jotham.







7( RHIIODA THORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

Call things by their right names, I say," an-
swered she.
For several days things went on pleasantly; but
oin Thursday all the scholars had become well
acquainted with each other and with the teacher,
and it was getting to be an old story. The schol-
ars found Miss Miles a lady with a low voice and
pleasant manners, but full of quiet determination;
and most of them recognized her as their mistress,
and accepted it as a fixed fact that they must do
as she wished in school. But Sam Hobart, as she
expected, was not willing to bow to that decision.
She had been watching every day for some mani-
festation, but had all the time managed skilfully to
avoid any rock that the smooth-sailing school-ship
might run upon. But they struck an unexpected
snag on Thursday afternoon.
School was almost done, and the first spelling-
class was reciting. The custom was for a misspell
to put the misspeller down in the class, while the
right speller went above. Miss Miles had, on the
first day placed them according to height, which
put Sam Hobart at the head, and Rhoda at the foot.
Spelling was like breathing to Rhoda. So she had
worked her way up to Sam. When she should
have outspelled him, like Alexander, she could find
no more to conquer; but he held his place man-
fully, and the lesson was nearly through- only
three words more.
Separated," said Miss Miles.








SCHOOL DA S. 71

S-e-p-e-r-a-t-e-d," spelled Sam.
Think a moment, Samuel," said his teacher.
S-e-p-e-r-r-a-t-c-d."
Wrong. The next."
"S-e-p-a-r-a-t-c-d," spelled Rhoda.
"Right. Go up." Rhoda turned to step above
him, but he moved nearer the wall, and looked at
her threateningly. Some sound had made the
teacher turn her head from the class, and she did
not see this performance.
I told you to go to the head, Rhoda," said she.
The little girl looked pitifully at Sam, and made
another attempt to pass him, with the same result.
"I wish you to step down, so that Rhoda can go
above you," said Miss Miles.
"I ain't a-going to. I spelt the word just as
she did, and she shan't go up," growled he.
Do I understand you to say you will not move
down ?" Sam muttered and mumbled some unin-
telligible words. "Speak plainly, Sam; you are
nearly a man grown, and I want to know whether
I have a gentleman or a boy in my school."
"I ain't a-going to move down."
Very well, then, I shall not teach you. You
are no longer a scholar of mine."
You can't turn me out unlesss the trustee lets
you ; and they 'lI tell you you must master me, and
I'd like to see the woman that could do that."
Miss Miles made no reply, but put the next
word to Rhoda, then to the next, until the lesson







72 RHODA TTIORNTOY'S GIRLIIOOD.

"was over, and the class took their seats. Sam
stood a moment; he hardly knew what move to
make, but he soon shambled to his scat.
"Now, children," said Miss Miles, "we have
one scholar less. I am sorry to lose Sam IIobart;
for he was getting to be a man, and should have
learned much more before he left school, but he
chose it should be so."
"I ain't a-going to leave," growled Sam.
He was more puzzled how to act than ever
before. Miss Miles appeared neither to hear or
see him.
"There may be something round here that
seems like a scholar; but you must not think it
is one until you see Sam Hobart come back and
take his place as a new scholar, at the foot of the
spelling-class. There is no such boy attending
here. School is dismissed."
The little company started out joyfully. Sam
was raging. What could he do to show his defi-
ance? The children seemed to ignore his presence
as well as the teacher. IIe whistled and stamped
round the room while Miss Miles and Rhoda were
getting ready ; but quick-witted Rhoda seemed as
unconscious as the teacher. Finally he made a
great show of putting his desk in order for the
next day, expecting to hinder their departure; but
they quietly put on hats and shawls, and stepping
from the door, the key was turned and they walked
away. Here was a dilemma for Sam; he knew







SCHOOL DA YS 73

the boys were waiting round, and he should bh
laughed at. He could jump from the window well
enough. Miss Miles knew that; but that was no
great triumph.
IIis first ;i:I,,!! 1.- was to tear things to pieces in
the school-room; but in that case, he knew the
trustees would interfere, and he must go. IHe
could do nothing better than clamber out of the
window, and go home. IIe left the window wide
open; but that made no difference, for Jothaml
came by soon after, and shut it. When Aunt
Debby and Jotham heard of the -.',i,, they were.
pleased that Sam was "come up with," as Aunt
Debby said; but they were afraid she would find
him troublesome the next day.
0, I expect that! and if I cannot manage to
drive him into good behavior or away from school
by such means, I must apply to the trustee; but
I would like to do it myself. My fear is that he
will interfere with the children; but I shall see
to-morrow."
A little late, but before any lessons were recited,
Sam lounged in the next morning. His first lesson
was arithmetic. IIe c *;., -1 that, and prided him-
self on his proficiency in the study; but the poor,
foolish boy had attended school such short terms,
owing to his behavior, that he could only reach
about the same place at each attempt at school.
Miss Miles had kindly started him on, without
putting him back to begin again, making herself








74 RHODA THORNTON'S GIRLIOOD.

the trouble of an extra class, composed of Sam,
and Johnny Gorton, a bright boy from the city,
who was boarding with his uncle for a few months.
It was trying to Sam to come to a sticking-place
in his examples, and see Johnny, after a few words
of explanation, go triumphantly on; but by no
means could he draw attention to himself. Miss
Miles appeared neither to see nor hear any such
person. School went on smoothly, and at last he
began to make slight disturbances, of which no
notice was taken. In the afternoon he continued
the annoyances, and at recess began to trouble and
torment the others, especially Rhoda, whom he
looked upon as the cause of the state of affairs;
but Miss Miles rang her bell, and told the chil-
dren, as it was Friday afternoon, they might have
a short recess, and be dismissed earlier. This
was satisfactory to all but Sam, who waited round
a while, and then went home to plan his next
method of attack.
Rhoda told. Jotham of Sam's persecutions; how
he called her names, and threatened her. Jotham
said but little, telling her not to mind; he guessed
he could fix it. Dr. Winter, of Northfield Centre,
came over Friday night, to carry Miss Miles to
spond Saturday and Sunday with his family; and
Rhoda, who went to church Sunday, had the pleas-
ure of an affectionate greeting from her, gingham-
clad as she was, and all before the fine, little miss,
whose name she found was Fanny Folger. This







SCHOOL DAYS. 75

little lady had shed her muslins, and shone in a
dainty, fall toilet.
Monday morning Miss Miles's friends were to
bring her directly to the school-house; so Rhoda
was to go alone. Aunt Debby needed her longer
than usual, and it was past nine when she started.
Jotham'was just going away with the horse and
open wagon.
"Jump in, Rhoda," called he. I can carry you
as far as the turn in the road; it will help some."
How I do hope," said she, that Sam Hobart
won't be round anywhere for I shall be alone.
The scholars will be all .in."
"If you want, I'11 carry you way there."
No, it would take you too-long."
A new idea struck Jotham; it was quite a little
walk from the turn to the school-house, but by
jumping a few stone walls and ditches, one could
cut across lots in much shorter time. As soon as
Rhoda had gone a little way, Jotham jumped out,
hitched Charley in a shady spot, and started across
the fields. He spied Sam, before he came to the
school-house, sitting on a stone, grinding his heels
into the dirt, and pulling spears of grass; he evi-
dently could not make up his mind just what to do
that would be most disagreeable.
Jotham kept out of sight behind the wall, and
watched; for he heard Rhoda's little steps hurry-
ing along, to make up for lost time. Sam heard
them, too, and saw her before Jotham did.







76 RIIODA TIIORTON'S GIRLHOOD.

ere," said Sam, "you stop, you red-headed
alhnshouse brat I 'll learn you to try to go above
me You don't go to school this morning, I '1l
have you know. You just start back double-quick
time, or I '11 lick you."
Rhoda stopped, white with fear; but she had
not time to speak or turn, when Jotham jumped
over the wall.
Run right along, Rhoda," said h6, cheerfully.
"I guess you '11 go to school without any hinder-
ing."
She darted by with such a thankful, grateful
look at Jotham!
"Now you start up the road double-quick," said
he to Sam.
The ill-conditioned, lowering face glared at
Jotham; but he saw something in the fine, open
countenance that made him think he had better
make a show of going; but he kept up a running
grumble.
"You think you'll scare me, Jotham Harris;
you can't do it. It's none o' your business, I '11
have you to know. I tell you you can't bully me.
I'11 lick that red-headed But here he received
a well-directed kick from behind, that stopped
further speech for the time.
Jotham had an object in letting him go a little
way from the school-house ; and now they had come
to a bend in the road that answered his purpose ; and
this staggerer of a kick was the first installment of


















44

'.. O i












"No' You START UP THE ROAD DOUBLE QUICK." Page 76.
'~ ~~ ~~~~:~~ .'1!.',q", 1
I,",,1, \
", ,
4r_ f "-" ,, '

,
aOW :O TRTU HETA OUL 1 UC1 Pg 6








SCHOOL DAYS. 77

what Jotham considered Sam's due. But Sam was
a fighter, and turned without more words, and the
two grappled. The dust flew as they struggled
and swayed from side to side of the road. Sam
was nearly as heavy as Jotham; but what could
he do against the best wrestler in town? In less
than a minute he was down, and receiving such a
drubbing as he deserved.
"You'll lick a little girl will you? said
Jothaun, putting in blows, untouched himself, in
spite of Sam's frantic efforts to hit back. You 've
been telling long enough that folks must master
you; if a woman can't, I 'l let you know who can."
Sam now began to cry for quarter.
Well," said Jotham, but still holding him down,
"what 'll you do if I let you get up ? "
"I'll go home," whimpered Sam.
Yes, and come back as soon as I am gone. No;
you've got to do a precious sight more than that.
You've got to promise never to say a word to Rho-
da Thornton again but what you 'd be willing for
me to hear; and more'n that, you've got to go
into school again, and tell i- Miles that you're
going to behave and take any place she tells you."
This was a bitter pill for Sam, who began to
remonstrate.
Very well," said Jotham, you have n't had
enough yet "; and he gave him another whack.
Stop,",said Sam ; I will."
Well, now," said Jothamn, see you do it. If







78 RHODA THORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

you do all fair and square, I'11 never tell anybody
about this, and I'll be a good friend to you; but
if you don't in every particular come up to what
you promise, it won't be long before you'll get
a drubbing that this one ain't a circumstance to;
and I hope you'll do what is right about it, for
your own sake, for Miss Miles says you're a first-
rate scholar, if you only try."
"Well, I'll go in this afternoon," said Sam,
completely quelled.
"Well, good-by. If you do, you '11 find a friend
in me; but remember."
Jotham had to drive Charley rather faster to
make up for lost time; but he felt in hopes he had
done a good morning's work. After school he was
anxious to hear, but did not like to ask.
"I was so glad to see you this morning, Jo-
tham! said Rhoda; did you come on purpose ?"
"Yes, I thought I would."
Sam came this afternoon all good as could be.
He told Miss Miles he would go to the foot of the
class."
If Rhoda had been a little older, she might have
noticed a queer kind of a look on Jotham's face
upon hearing this.
And Sam went on doing well. It was a kind
of turning-point with him. He was the only child
of a foolishly indulgent mother, who was a widow;
and he had never before received just such a lesson
as Jotham gave him. He had the good sense to








SCHOOL DAYS. 79

see that he was wrong, and Jotham was right.
They became fast friends after this; and when both
were men, they often laughed over it.
But I must not linger too long in the little school,
pleasant and instructive as it was. Jimmy was
soon promoted to his pantaloons, and on pleasant
days went with his sister. The home companion-
ship of one so cultivated and lovely as Miss Miles,
was of as much advantage to the little girl as the
school instruction. Aunt Debby also seemed to
enjoy the company of the teacher, while to Jotham
it was of great benefit. He praised her so much,
that Martha Easton, who usually liked every one,
seenied singularly inclined to find fault with her,
and to criticise her; but when she found she was
twenty-five years old, she also joined in the admi-
ration of the others.
Miss Miles helped Rhoda in many ways. When
the question of a winter dress came up, she told
Aunt Debby that she had a blue dress which she
was thinking what to do with, as she could not
make it over for herself. It would be just the thing
for Rhoda; and by some carefully-worded sugges-
tions she succeeded in having it made in a modern
manner. There was enough of it for a sack; and
Jotham furnished gray squirrel skins to make a
muff and trim the sack; and somewhere from Miss
Miles's stores came a bit of blue silk, that, trimmed
with the same fur, made a charming little hood.
Miss Miles felt repaid for the trouble she had taken,








80 RIIODA TIIOnSTON'S GIRILIIOOD.

on hearing the satisfied little sigh Rhoda gave when
she saw all the suit laid out on one of the spare-
room beds, with a new pair of shoes and white
mittens, of her own knitting, beside it.
And Jimmy was gainer by her also. Her friend,
Mr-. Winter, had a little boy about a year older,
and an outgrown suit of his (" good as new," Aunt
Debby said) was sent as a present to him; and it
was found much less work to make his other clothes
like these than after Jotham's old patterns. Jimmy
did not care himself; he trotted round just as con-
tented in pantaloons down to his heels as in shorter
ones. He spent half his days with Mrs. Speers,
whose health really seemed improved in waiting
upon him; and when he had mastered his letters,
the good couple were loud in their admiration.
So the winter wore on. Vacations Miss Miles
spent at Northfield Centre, and Rhoda sewed rags,
and did numberless duties to Miss Debby's satis-
faction, who had never regretted taking the chil-
dren from the poor-farm.
Miss Miles had engaged to keep the school for
the school year, which would end in May. Her
teaching had given such i;-'.. ;. II, that the trus-
tee wished to re-engage her ; but she declined, tell-
ing Aunt Debby that there had been reasons for
her leaving her city school. Now it seemed best
for her to return again, as her salary there was
much larger; but that she should always remem-
ber with great pleasure her eight months spent in








SCHOOL DAYS. 81

Southfield. She gave Rhoda Miss Edgeworth's
"Parent's Assistant," and a beautiful spotted mus-
lin for her summer dress; and with good advice
to the children, and kind farewells to all, she went
away
How dull and empty the house seemed without
her A little note came to Aunt Debby, telling
of her safe arrival, and then for a long time they
heard no more. Rhoda had formed a pleasant
friendship with Nancy and Phebe Brown; and an
afternoon visit to them, now and then, or their
return visits to her, were her only excitement.
About this time she heard that Lizy Carr had left
the poorhouse. Some relative had claimed her,
and taken her away. The other members of the
household remained about the same. Mr. Harmon,
happening to be going near there, called and told
them. He was astonished to find them so much
grown and improved.
One day, in the latter part of summer, Mrs.
Winter came to see them, bringing great news.
She said there was no longer any Miss Miles; she
had become a Mrs. Fields. Mrs. Winter had been
at the wedding, and the bride wished her to be
sure and tell Miss Nichols all about it. It was a
long story; but we will make a short one of it,
and tell that Miss Miles was the only child of Dr.
Miles, a famous physician, and in her girlhood
had enjoyed all the luxuries of wealth; but unfor-
tunate speculations had swallowed up the old








82 RHODA THORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

doctor's property, and at his death she was left
penniless. She immediately began to support
herself by teaching. There was a student of her
father's, one Mr. Fields, between whom and herself
there had been a long attachment.
Through some misunderstanding, he had left the
city, and she had not heard from him for a long
time before her father's death. It was his return
to the city that caused her to come to Southfield;
and, thinking he had again gone abroad, she
returned; but they had met, and all had been
explained.
"And now," said Mrs. Winter, I suppose they
are half way across the Atlantic."
"Well," said Aunt Debby, "it's quite like a
story. Some people have such things happen
to them. Now, I've always lived right here;
never went forty miles away from home, I sup-
pose."
"Are these portraits of your family?" said
Mrs. Winter, looking at the staring faces on the
wall.
"Yes, I had five brothers and sisters, and all
died young but me; and now I've not a relation
living, nearer than Jotham, my cousin's son. I
used to feel lonesome, thinking of it; but noy
I am getting old, I think how many relations
I am going to meet, not leave, before long."
Mrs. Winter thought all stories were not of those
who went abroad; but some who staid at home








SCHOOL DAYS. 83

might have griefs and hopes to tell. She left
them, promising to come again. Her little Arthur
had been having such a fine time with Jimmy,
who played host very well, that he went away
reluctantly.







84 RHODA TIIORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.






CHAPTER V.

AN OCTOBER DAY.

T HE school funds seemed to be at a low ebb that
autumn ; for September days clear and golden,
with nights cool and damp, went by one after an-
other, until October was the reigning month; and
then, without pause, as the way of months is, that
marched along. And Aunt Debby's work went
on about as unceasingly; long strings of quartered
apples festooned the sunny sides of the house and
shed; sweet corn cut from the cob dried on plat-
forms made of boards resting on barrels; every
window seat showed rows of jars, and tumblers
filled with rich-tinted jellies and jams, taking a
final touch from the sun; and each day had some
odor of pickle or preserve or cider apple-sauce
boiling, peculiar to itself, interspersed with airings
and cleaning that the whole house was taking
piecemeal. In all these performances Rhoda was
Aunt Debby 's right hand; and by night the young
feet grew heavy, and she could not help a wistful
looking back to the bright school days. Towards
the latter part of the month the hazy Indian sum-








AN OCTOBER DAY. 85

mer days came. Maples, birch and elms, in com-
pany with all their friends and relations high and
low, had decked themselves in most brilliant array,
although their glory was fast fading; every wind
showering down some of their fluttering ornaments.
On one of these days Jotham had been away a few
miles to find a market for his Thanksgiving poultry,
which were strutting around the yard heavy and
important, little thinking, poor things, of the last
Thursday in November. Aunt Debby had been in
the garret all day, and Rhoda and Jimmy had been
so much interested in the strange old things they
had assisted in moving and assorting, that the day
had not seemed so long. The collection of wheels
for spinning, quilling, and reeling had been to the
little boy a mine of delight; and they had hummed
and whirled under his restless hands, more merrily
than they had for years before. He had to turn
over an old bread tray, large enough for a cradle,
to stand upon, while he operated upon the great
wool wheel; but the little linen one was more to
his mind; that had to spin imaginary flax all day
by spells.
By the time the shortening day began to darken,
all was swept and orderly, and the old garret was
left to rest in quiet, save for scampering rats, until
the spring cleaning should come. Then down-
stairs they went to get supper, which being done,
they sat down for.the first time in the day to rest,
and wait for Jotlam. The rattle of the wagon







86 RHODA THORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

wheels was soon heard far up the road, sounding
distinct in the evening air. Jimmy ran out to
open the gate, and Rhoda leaned against the win-
dow to watch. The great, round, harvest moon
shone down on the landscape brightly, the dew
glittered on the grass, and everything looked so
white and still; the very crickets were shutting up
their chirping until spring again, although one hid-
den fellow, held his own against the tea-kettle,
somewhere round Aunt Debby 's kitchen hearth -
he kept it up almost as though he had heard of
John Perrybringle and Dot. But Rhoda was so
tired that it looked cold and lonely to her; and the
chirping and singing in doors only sounded sad
and depressing, although life just at that mo-
ment seemed much less bright than the moonlight.
She hardly saw the wagon go by to the barn, and
only turned to the room again when she heard
Jotham come in. His quick eye saw the pale, care-
worn look in her face, and his kind heart began at
once to cast about for some pleasant thing to drive
it away.
Well, Aunt Debby," said he, as he sat down
to supper, and began to store away the cold beef
and bread in generous mouthfuls, Charley and I
have had a trot to-day. We 've had pretty good
luck, however, but I guess we'11 have to go it again
to-morrow. Can't you and Rhoda and Jimmy go
too ? I've got to go to several places, and it's kind
of lonesome trailing round without any body to
speak to all day."







AN OCTOBER DAY. 87

Why, where have you got to go to-morrow?"
said she.
"Well, you see, I found over at the' Centre,' a
man from the city looking up a good lot of fowls for
one of the city markets. IHe wants four or five hun-
dred pounds, and he'll pay two cents a pound more
than any body round here would; so I made a
bargain to have all ready for him a week before
Thanksgiving, -turkeys, chickens, ducks, geese
and all."
"Not the peacock?" said Jimmy, in a fright.
No, I don't think we '11 sell him; I guess he'd
be rather a tough customer."
"I 'm glad you made such a good bargain," said
Aunt Debby; "but what have you got to go to-
morrow for ? "
Why, as I was coming home I met Sam Miller,
and he stopped me to ask what I was going to do
with my fowls; he said he had n't got any to sell
himself, but he asked on his father's account. Old
Moses, you know, over on the Warren place; he's
got a likely lot of turkeys he says, but he's so old
he can't get round much; and if I'd go round there,
I could buy them of him so as to make enough to
p i'. 'r:y trouble; so I told him I'd ride round to-
morrow. Then I want to tell Daniel Easton that
the man will be round to see him day after tomor-
row, to see his poultry; and then, last of all, you
know how you were wishing for some wild grapes
the other day; well, over on the cross-road between







88 RHODA TIIORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

Mr. Bruce and Mr. Battey's farms, I came across a
vine that beats all I've seen for years. They hang
there in bushels. How they've missed being picked
I don't see; but I suppose there's few people
going that way, and what do are like me with
nothing to put them in ; they ve hung so long they
are just as ripe as they can be. I was sorry I
hadn't a basket or something; but I don't think
but what they'll be there to-morrow. So I guess it
will be a pleasant ride all round, so you'd better
go."
"I don't think I can," said Aunt Debby. "I
must see to tying up and putting away what I've
got done up, and I have so many things drying, I
don't think I will go; but I do want some grapes.
I hope they ain't picked. Rhoda and Jimmy may
go if you want them. You'll want something to
eat put up, won't you?"
"No; I guess we 'll fetch up at Mr. Easton's about
dinner-time; but a few doughnuts won't come amiss
to Jimmy, for we must start bright and early, soon
as we can get through breakfast, or we shan't do
all we are planning to."
He looked over at Rhoda. How her eyes shone
and cheeks glowed! She had forgotten all about
how tired and lonely she felt a little while before.
SThe breakfast dishes were washed and away the
next morning by the time the sun was fairly up,
and Jotham soon stood beside Charley at the door.
Before the start Aunt Debby put in two, large







AN OCTOBER DAY. oo

baskets. You ought to carry some grapes to Miss
Easton," said she, so I '11 put in two."
All right," said Jotham ; there 's enough to fill
both, if nobody's found them since yesterday, and I
don't believe but what they hang there safe and
ripe."
The dew lay heavy on the grass as they rode out
of the yard and they were soon off over the hills
and far away." The corn stood stacked in the
fields as they rode along, looking, as the children
pleased themselves by thinking, like old women
starting away for a walk. In some fields the great,
yellow pumpkins yet laid ungathered. Don't you
wish they were great lumps of gold, sister," said
Jimmy, and you and Jotham and I could pick up
as many as we wanted? "
We'd load up old Charley till he could n't
hardly pull, would n't we? said Jotham, so that
we'd have to get out and walk and push the wagon,
and turn round and go right home again."
". should n't want to go right home again," said
Jimmy. I guess we'd leave them till we come
back this afternoon."
We should n't find many when we came back,
if they were gold," said Rhoda.
"No, I bet not," laughed Jotham. "Old Mr.
Bruce and his wife Miry would tug pretty hard all
day. They 'd have the old, crooked-horned oxen
out; and if they war n't all picked up by dark,
he'd mount guard with his blunderbuss all night."







90 RHODA THORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

What's a blunderfuss ? said Jimmy, who
always got new words wrong.
"0, it's a kind of old fire-arm that kicks so
when it's used that it hurts the one that holds it
more than what it's aimed at. But there's the old
man himself, thrashing out his beans in the barn."
The barn stood opposite the house, the broad
doors opening on the road. He and his hired boy
were swinging the flails steadily, but they seemed
glad to stop when Jotham drove up, and came to
the door to talk a few minutes.
You've got a good crop of beans this year, I
should think," said Jotham.
Well, fair; calculate I will have about twenty
bushels," answered Mr. Bruce. "How's your
aunt this morning ?"
She's well. How 's your folks?"
'Bout as usual; my wife has a touch of asthma
'most every fall. Last year she went down to Lo-
rinda's, and somehow the change it's near the
shore you know made her miss the turn. I tried
to have her go this year, and Lorinda wrote; but
't want no use, she's such a worker; she thought
the apples and corn war n't half dried last year.
Old Aunt Phcbe came up and did it while she was
gone. So we could n't start her; and last night she
had a smart touch of short breath. Well, Rhoda,
you in a hurry for a school to begin again ?"
"Yes, indeed; When do you think it will?"
I 'm afraid not until week after Thanksgiving."







AN OCTOBER DAY. 91

"That's seems a long time to wait," said she.
Yes; but it will hold longer in the spring for
being so late now. Where are you going to-day,
Jotham ? "
"0, we've got to go all round over in North-
field, and it's time we jogged along. Good morn-
ing."
"Good morning," said Mr. Bruce; and they soon
heard the thump; thump, of the flails again. They
saw Miry out, hanging up her strings of apples.
There was such a heap of squashes and pumpkins
shining in the sun in one place, that the children
concluded they would need no more if they were
gold.
"I wish you had asked him to let me see that
thing you told about," said Jimmy.
What thing? asked Jotham.
Why, I can't think of the name; but it was
something that had legs and arms."
"Legs and arms ? What does he mean?" said
Jotham to Rhoda.
I am sure I don't know," she replied.. What
do you want to see, Jimmy?"
Why, that thing Jotham told about that kicks;
I wanted to see it kick."
O, the blunderbuss ; why that is a kind of a
gun." So Jotham had to tell him all about it, how
it looked and how it kicked; and before the story
was finished they were driving through the cross-
road where they were to find the grapes.







92 RHODA THORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

It was a rough, up-hill, stony bit of country road,
but so filled with beautiful colors, and pleasant
things. This morning Charley's footsteps were
muffled by the gorgeous scarlet, yellow, and brown
leaves that covered the track ; great chestnut-trees
had cast their fruit and opened burs to the ground,
and frisky squirrels were busy gleaning their win-
ter stores; partridges and quails rose whirring
from the stubble as they drove along, and ferns,
vines, and bushes, all seemed to vie with each other
in beauty; and best of all when the grape-vine was
reached, it was untouched and the great purple
branches hung ripe and heavy, ready to drop into
the baskets. Soon both the rough baskets looked
like pictures of offerings to the god of wine, with
the hanging fruit heaped and drooping round them.
Rhoda and Jimmy found them nice to eat, although
it was rather a gulp to swallow one of the great
pulps. After the baskets would hold no more, no
matter how coaxed, Rhoda picked some bright
sumach sprays, and some long trails of scarlet
woodbine, and with these, spires of golden rod, and
clusters of purple asters, she decorated the old bas-
kets until they were gorgeous in color and beauty.
And in finding these she came across some of her
favorites, the lovely fringed gentian. Then they
checked up Chi ,l. y, who had been feeding by the
road, and started on towards Northfield, and in due
time they turned in at Daniel Easton's great gate.
Mr. Easton, like Mr. Bruce, was busy in his barn;







AN OCTOBER DAY. 93

but he came out when he saw them, with a hearty
" Well, well, and how do you all do? Drive on,
right up to the house, and I'll be in presently."
But Jotham, now he had got there, seemed a
little shy of hurrying up to the house, and began
to tell his errand.
0, go on, go on," said Mr. Easton, squinting up
at the sun, "it's past eleven now; dinner will be
ready soon. Carry these small folks up to the wo-
men folks, and then when Charley is unharnessed
and having a feed, we '11 find time to talk."
Mrs. Easton and Martha were never put back
by unexpected company; and they welcomed the
children as heartily as the good man had done.
Jimmy was soon occupied with a young puppy in
the yard, which rolled and tumbled and yelped
in agonies of awkward play, to the satisfaction of
Jimmy and himself, while Rhoda sat down in the
kitchen to talk with Mrs. Easton and Marlthli while
they prepared to serve the dinner. She had been
there several times since her first memorable visit,
and felt very well acquainted. She had just had
time to tell of Aunt Debby's picklings and pre-
servings, and the luck attending each enterprise,
when the tall old clock in the next room began to
tell twelve, and soon the contents of the mighty
dinner-pot were sorted and steaming on the table.
Before Mr. Easton stood the great, blue platter
with its round of corned beef, and block of firm,
home-raised pork, while the array of vegetables








94 RHODA THORNTON'S GIRLHOOD.

that faced his wife, might have almost daunted a
less portly dame. But she was equal to it, and
deftly furnished each plate with its spoonful of
golden squash, silver turnip, emerald cabbage,
ruby beet, and pearl-white potato, until it looked
almost as brilliant as Rhoda's grape baskets. After
they had done full justice to all, including the
pumpkin and apple pies with sage cheese, they
left the table, and Jotham brought in a basket of
the grapes.
Why I am real glad to have these, Jotham,"
said Mrs. Easton; somebody has picked those
that grew over in our interval, and I 'd 'most given
"up having any to preserve. How handsome they
look; it 'most seems a pity to disturb them but
it must be done ; Martha, take them out, and empty
the basket."
Jotham had to help her carry them, they were
so heavy; and it was some time, Rhoda thought,
before they found anything to hold them. But
this pleasant visit must come to an end, and at
length they were ready to start again. Jimmy had
found a horse-chestnut tree, and his pockets were
distended until he looked deformed, with the great,
handsome, worthless nuts, always so dear to chil-
dren's hearts.
It was past three o'clock when they drove up
the avenue of the Warren place, and Rhoda de-
cided that she and Jimmy would not get out of the
wagon; but old Mr. Miller was slow and lame