Betty Leicester Stories
Betty Leicester: A Story for Girls, 1890
Sarah Orne JewettTo make this text available to readers at an earlier date, I am placing it on line before researching a good number of the notes. This provides an opportunity for readers of Betty Leicester to participate in the completion of this project. When you click on a note and find it labeled "Solve a Note," you may research that note and send the results to the site manager. People who solve notes will have their names listed as researchers with their notes in this text.
XIII. A GREAT EXCITEMENT
XIV. THE OUT-OF-DOOR CLUB
XV. THE STARLIGHT COMES IN
XVI. DOWN THE RIVER
XVII. GOING AWAY
Solve a Note & Place Your Work at this Site!
When you solve a note, be sure to tell me not only the information you have found, but where you found it. In many cases, I indicate what information I think would be helpful and potential sources for finding it.
See first note for Chapter 1.
A GREAT EXCITEMENT.
That afternoon Betty's lively young voice grew droning and dull after a while, as she read the life of Dr. Donne, and at last she stopped altogether.
"Aunt Mary, I can't help thinking about seeing the Fosters' father. Do you suppose he will come home and frighten them some night?"
"No, he would hardly dare to come where they are sure to be looking for him," said Aunt Mary. "Dear me, the thought makes me so nervous."
"When I have read to the end of this page I will just run down to see Nelly a few minutes, if you can spare me. I keep dreading to see her until I am almost afraid to go."
Miss Mary sighed and said yes. Somehow she didn't get hold of Betty's love, - only her duty.
Betty lingered in the garden and picked some mignonette before she started, and a bright carnation or two from Aunt Barbara's special plants. The Fosters' house was farther down the street on the same side, and Nelly's blinds were shut, but if Betty had only known it, poor Nelly was looking out wistfully through them, and wishing with all her heart that her young neighbor would come in. She dreaded the meeting, too, but there was such a simple, frank friendliness about Betty Leicester that it did not hurt as if one of the other girls had come.
There came the sound of the gate-latch, and Nelly went eagerly down. "Come up to my room; I was sitting there sewing," she said, blushing very red, and Betty felt her own cheeks burn. How dreadful it must be not to have such a comforting dear father as hers! She put her arms round Nelly's neck and kissed her, and Nelly could hardly keep from crying; but up-stairs they went to the bedroom, where Betty had never happened to go before. She felt suddenly, as she never had before, how pinched and poor the Fosters must be. Nelly was determined to be brave and cheerful, and took up her sewing again. It happened to be a little waist of Betty's own. Betty tried to talk gayly about being very tired of reading "Walton 's Lives." She had come to a dull place in Dr. Donne's memoirs, though she thought them delightful at first. She was just reading "The Village on the Cliff," on her own account, with perfect delight.
"Harry reads 'Walton's Angler,'" said Nelly. "That's the same man, isn't he? It is a stupid-looking old brown book that belonged to my grandfather."
"Papa reads it, too," said Betty, nodding her head wisely. "I am in such a hurry to have him come, when I think of Harry. I am sure that he will help him to be a naturalist or something like that. Mr. Buckland would have just loved Harry. I knew him when I was a little bit of a thing. Papa used to take me to see him in London, and all his dreadful beasts and snakes used to frighten me, but I do so like to remember him now. Harry makes me think of Robinson Crusoe and Mayne Reid's books, and those story-book boys who used to do such wild things fishing and hunting."
"We used to think that Harry never would get on because he spent so much time in the woods, but somehow he always learned his lessons too," said Nelly proudly; "and now his fishing brings in so much money that I don't know how we shall live when winter comes. We are so anxious about winter. Oh, Betty, it is easy to tell you, but I can't bear to have other people even look at me;" and she burst into tears and hid her face in her hands.
"Let us go out-doors, just down through the garden and across into the woods a little while," pleaded Betty. "Do, Nelly, dear!" and presently they were on their way. The fresh summer air and the sunshine were much better than the close-shaded room, where Nelly was startled by every sound about the house, and they soon lost their first feeling of constraint as they sat under a pine-tree whipping two of Miss Barbara Leicester's new tea napkins. Betty had many things to say about her English life and her friends. Mary Beck never cared to hear much about England, and it was always delightful to have an interested listener. At last the sewing was finished, and Nelly proposed that they should go a little way farther, and come out on the river bank.
Harry would be coming up about this time with his fare of fish, if he had had good luck. It would be fun to shout to him as he went by.
They pushed on together through the open pasture, where the sweet-fern and bayberry bushes grew tall and thick; there was another strip of woods between them and the river, and just this side was a deserted house, which had not been lived in for many years and was gray and crumbling. The fields that belonged to it had been made part of a great sheep pasture, and two or three sheep were standing by the half-opened door, as if they were quite at home there in windy or wet weather. Betty had seen the old house before, and thought it was most picturesque. She now proposed that they should have a picnic party by and by, and make a fire in the old fireplace; but Nelly Foster thought there would be great danger of burning the house down.
"Suppose we go and look in?" pleaded Betty. "Mary Beck and I saw it not long after I came, but she thought it was going to rain, so that we didn't stop. I like to go into an empty old ruin, and make up stories about it, and wonder who used to live there. Don't stop to pick these blackberries; you know they aren't half ripe," she teased Nelly; and so they went over to the old house, frightening away the sheep as they crossed the doorstep boldly. It was all in ruins; the roof was broken about the chimney, so that the sun shone through upon the floor, and the light-red bricks were softened and sifting down. In one corner there was a heap of withes for mending fences, which had been pulled about by the sheep, and there were some mud nests of swallows high against the walls, but the birds seemed to have already left them. This room had been the kitchen, and behind it was a dark, small place which must have been a bedroom when people lived there, dismal as it looked now.
"I am going to look in here and all about the place," said Betty cheerfully, and stepped in to see what she could find.
"Oh, go back, Nelly!" she screamed, in a great fright, the next moment; and they fled out of the house into the warm sunshine. They had had time to see that a man was lying on the floor as if he were dead. Betty's heart was beating so that she could hardly speak.
"We must get somebody to come," she panted, trying to stop Nelly. "Was it somebody dead?"
But Nelly sank down as pale as ashes into the sweet-fern bushes, and looked at her strangely. "Oh, Betty Leicester, it will kill mother, it will kill her! I believe it was my father; what shall I do?"
"Your father," faltered Betty, - "your father? We must go and tell." Then she remembered that he was a hunted man, a fugitive from justice.
They looked fearfully at the house; the sheep had come back and stood again near the doorway. There was something more horrible than the two girls had ever known in the silence of the place. It would have been less awful if there had been a face at the broken door or windows.
"Henry - we must try to stop Henry," said poor pale Nelly, and they hurried toward the river shore. They could not help looking anxiously behind them as they passed the belt of pine; a terrible fear possessed them as they ran. "He is afraid that somebody will see him. I wonder if he will come home to-night."
"He must be ill there," said Betty, but she did not dare to say anything else. What an unendurable thing to be afraid and ashamed of one's own father!
They looked down the river with eager eyes. Yes, there was Harry Foster's boat coming up slowly, with the three-cornered sail spread to catch the light breeze. Nelly gave a long sigh and sank down on the turf, and covered her face as she cried bitterly. Betty thought, with cowardly longing, of the quiet and safety of Aunt Mary's room, and the brown-covered volume of "Walton's Lives." Then she summoned all her courage. These two might never have sorer need of a friend than in this summer afternoon.
Henry Foster's boat sailed but slowly. It was heavily laden, and the wind was so light that from time to time he urged it with the oars. He did not see the two girls waiting on the bank until he was close to them, for the sun was in his eyes and his thoughts were busy. His father's escape from jail was worse than any sorrow yet; nobody knew what might come of it. Harry felt very old and careworn for a boy of seventeen. He had determined to go to see Miss Barbara Leicester that evening, and to talk over his troubles with her. He had been able to save a little money, and he feared that it might be demanded. He had already paid off the smaller debts that were owed in the village; but he knew his father too well not to be afraid of getting some menacing letters presently. If his father had only fled the country! But how could that be done without money? He would not work his passage; Harry was certain enough of that. Would it not be better to let him have the money and go to the farthest limit to which it could carry him?
Something made the young man shade his eyes with his hand and took toward the shore; then he took the oars and pulled quickly in. That was surely his sister Nelly, and the girl beside her, who wore a grayish dress with a white blouse waist, was Betty Leicester. It was just like kind-hearted little Betty to have teased poor Nelly out into the woods. He would carry them home in his boat; he could rub it clean with some handfuls of hemlock twigs or river grass. Then he saw how strangely they looked, as he pushed the boat in and pulled it far ashore. What in the world had happened?
Nelly tried to speak again and again, but her voice could not make itself heard. "Oh, don't cry any more, Nelly, dear," said Betty, trembling from head to foot, and very pale. "We went into the old house up there by the pasture, and found - Nelly said it was your father, and we thought he was very ill."
"I'll take you both home, then," said Harry Foster, speaking quickly and with a hard voice. "Get in, both of you,-this is the shortest way, - then I'll come back by my self."
"Oh, no, no!" sobbed Nelly. "He looked as if he were dying, Harry; he was lying on the floor. We will go, too; he couldn't hurt us, could he?" And the three turned back into the woods. Betty's heart almost failed her. She felt like a soldier going into battle. Oh, could she muster bravery enough to go into that house again? Yet she loved her father so much that doing this for another girl's father was a great comfort, in all her fear.
The young man hurried ahead when they came near the house, and it was only a few minutes before he reappeared.
"You must go and tell mother to come as quick as she can, and hurry to find the doctor and tell him; he will know what to do. Father has been dreadfully hurt somehow. Perhaps Miss Leicester will let Jonathan come to help us get him home." Harry Foster's face looked old and strange; he never would seem like a boy any more, Betty thought, with a heart full of sympathy. She hurried away with Nelly; they could not bring help fast enough.
After the great excitement was over, Betty felt very tired and unhappy. That night she could be comforted only by Aunt Barbara's taking her into her own bed, and being more affectionate and sympathetic than ever before' even talking late, like a girl, about the Out-of-Door Club plans. In spite of this attempt to return to every-day thoughts, Betty waked next morning to much annoyance and trouble. She felt as if the sad affairs of yesterday related only to the poor Fosters and herself, but as she went down the street, early, she was stopped and questioned by eager groups of people who were trying to find out something more about the discovery of Mr. Foster in the old house. It proved that he had leaped from a high window, hurting himself badly by the fall, when he made his escape from prison, and that he had been wandering in the woods for days. The officers had come at once, and there was a group of men outside the Fosters' house. This had a terrible look to Betty. Everybody said that the doctor believed there was only a slight chance for Mr. Foster's life, and that they were not going to try to take him back to jail. He had been delirious all night. One or two kindly disposed persons said that they pitied his poor family more than ever, but most of the neighbors insisted that "it served Foster just right." Betty did her errand as quickly as possible, and hastily brushed by some curious friends who tried to detain her. She felt as if it were unkind and disloyal to speak of her neighbor's trouble to everybody, and the excitement and public concern of the little village astonished her very much. She did not know, until then, how the joy or trouble of one home could affect the town as if it were one household. Everybody spoke very kindly to her, and most people called her "Betty," and seemed to know her very well, whether they had ever spoken to her before or not. The women were standing at their front doors or their gates, to hear whatever could be told, and our friend looked down the long street and felt that it was like running the gauntlet to get home again. Just then she met the doctor, looking gray and troubled, as if he had been awake all night, but when he saw Betty his face brightened.
"Well done, my little lady," he said, in cheerful voice, which made her feel steady again, and then he put his hand on Betty's shoulder and looked at her very kindly.
"Oh, doctor! may I walk along with you little way?" she faltered. "Everybody asks me to tell" -
"Yes, yes, I know all about it," said the doctor; and he turned and took Betty's hand as if she were a child, and they walked away together. It was well known in Tideshead that Dr. Prince did not like to be questioned about his patients.
"I was wondering whether I ought to go to see Nelly," said Betty, as they came near the house. "I haven't seen her since I came home with her yesterday. I - didn't quite dare to go in as I came by."
"Wait until to-morrow, perhaps," said the doctor. "The poor man will be gone then, and you will be a greater comfort. Go over through the garden. You can climb the fences, I dare say," and he looked at Betty with a queer little smile. Perhaps he had seen her sometimes crossing the fields with Mary Beck.
"Do you mean that he is going to die today?" asked Betty, with great awe. "Ought I to go then?"
"Love may go where common kindness is shut out," said Dr. Prince. "You have done a great deal to make those poor children happy, this summer. They had been treated in a very narrow-minded way. It was not like Tideshead, I must say," he added, "but people are shy sometimes, and Mrs. Foster herself could not bear to see the pity in her neighbors' faces. It will be easier for her now."
"I keep thinking, what if it were my own papa?" said Betty softly. "He couldn't be so wicked, but he might be ill, and I not there."
"Dear me, no!" said the doctor heartily, and giving Betty's hand a tight grasp and a little swing to and fro. "I suppose he's having a capital good time up among his glaciers. I wish that I were with him for a month's holiday;" and at this Betty was quite cheerful again.
Now they stopped at Betty's own gate. "You must take your Aunt Mary in hand a little, before you go away. There's nothing serious the matter now, only lack of exercise and thinking too much about herself."
"She did come to my tea-party in the garden," responded Betty, with a faint smile, "and I think sometimes she almost gets enough courage to go to walk. She didn't sleep at all last night, Serena said this morning."
"You see, she doesn't need sleep," explained Dr. Prince, quite professionally. "We are all made to run about the world and to work. Your aunt is always making blood and muscle with such a good appetite, and then she never uses them, and nature is clever at revenges. Let her hunt the fields, as you do, and she would sleep like a top. I call it a disease of too-wellness, and I only know how to doctor sick people. Now there's a lesson for you to reflect upon," and the busy doctor went hurrying back to where he had left his horse standing, when he first caught sight of Betty's white and anxious face.
As she entered the house Aunt Barbara was just coming out. "I am going to see poor Mrs. Foster, my dear, or to ask for her at the door," she said, and Serena and Letty and Jonathan all came forward to ask whether Betty knew any later news. Seth Pond had been loitering up the street most of the morning, with feelings of great excitement, but he presently came back with instructions from Aunt Barbara to weed the long box-borders behind the house, which he somewhat unwillingly obeyed.
A few days later the excitement was at an end, the sad funeral was over, and on Sunday the Fosters were at church in their appealing black clothes. Everybody had been as kind as they knew how to be, but there were no faces so welcome to the sad family as our little Betty's and the doctor's.
"It comes of simply following her instinct to be kind and do right," said the doctor to Aunt Barbara, next day. "The child doesn't think twice about it, as most of us do. We Tideshead people are terribly afraid of one another, and have to go through just so much before we can take the next step. There's no way to get right things done but to simply do them. But it isn't so much what your Betty does as what she is."
"She has grown into my old heart," said Aunt Barbara. "I cannot bear to think of her going away and taking the sunshine with her! - and yet she has her faults, of course," added the sensible old lady.
"Oh, by the way!" said Dr. Prince, turning back. "My wife told me to ask you to come over to tea to-night and bring the little girl; I nearly forgot to give the message."
"I shall be very happy to come," answered Miss Leicester, and the doctor nodded and went his busy way. Betty was very fond of going to drive with him, and he looked about the neighborhood as he drove along, hoping to catch sight of her; but Betty was at that moment deeply engaged in helping Letty shell some peas for dinner, at the other side of the house, in the garden doorway of the kitchen. She had spent an hour before that with Mrs. Beck, while they tried together with more or less success to trim a new sailor hat for Mary Beck like one of Betty's own. Mrs. Beck was as friendly as possible in these days, but whenever the Fosters were mentioned her face grew dark. She did not like Mrs. Foster; she did not exactly blame her for all that had happened, but she did not pity her either, or feel a true compassion for such a troubled neighbor. Betty never could understand it. At any rate, she had been saved by her unsettled life from taking a great interest in her own or other people's dislikes.
That evening, just as the tea-party was in full progress, somebody came for Dr. Prince; and when he returned from his study he announced that he must go at once down the river road to see one of his patients who was worse. Perhaps he saw an eager look in Betty's eyes, for he asked gravely if Miss Leicester had a niece to lend, it being a moonlight evening and not too long a drive. Aunt Barbara made no objection, and our friend went skipping off to the doctor's stable in high glee.
"Oh, that's nice!" she exclaimed. "I'm so glad that you're going to take Pepper; she's such a dear little horse."
"Pepper is getting old," said the doctor, "but she really likes to go out in the evening. You can see how fast she will scurry home. Get me a whip from the rack, will you, child? I am anxious to be off."
Mrs. Prince and Aunt Barbara were busy talking in the parlor, and were taking great pleasure in their social occasion, but Betty was so glad that she need not stay to listen, instead of going down the town street and out among the quiet farms behind brisk old Pepper. The wise, kind doctor at her side was silent as he thought about his patient, yet he felt much pleasure in Betty's companionship. They could smell the new marsh hay and hear the trees-toads, it was a most beautiful summer night. Betty felt very grateful and happy, she did not exactly know why; it was not altogether the effect of Mrs. Prince's tea and cakes, or even because she was driving with the doctor, but the restlessness and uncertainty that make so great a part of a girl's life seemed to have gone away out of her heart. Instead of the excitement there was a pleasant quietness and sense of security, no matter what might be going to happen.
Presently the doctor appeared to have thought enough about his patient. "You don't feel chilly, do you?'' be asked kindly. "I find it damp and cold, sometimes, after a hot day, crossing this low land."
"Oh, no, I'm as warm as toast," answered Betty. "Whom see you going to see, Dr. Prince? Old Mr. Duff?"
"No, he is out-of-doors again. I saw him in the hayfield this morning. You haven't been keeping up with my practice as well as usual, of late," said the doctor, laughing a little. "I am going to see a girl about your own age. I am afraid that I am going to lose her, too."
"Is it that pretty Lizzie Edwards who sits behind the Becks' pew? I heard that she had a fever. I saw her the last Sunday that she was at church." Betty's heart was filled with dismay, and the doctor did not speak again. They were near the house now, and could see some lights flitting about; and as they stopped the sick girl's father stole silently from behind the bushes and began to fasten the horse, so that Dr. Prince could go in directly. Betty could hear the ominous word "sinking," as they whispered together; then she was left alone. It seemed so sad that this other girl should be near the door of death, and so close to the great change that must come to every one. Betty had never known so direct a consciousness of the inevitableness of death, but she was full of life herself, and so eager and ready for whatever might be coming. What if this other girl had felt so, too? She watched the upper windows where the dim light shone, and now and then a shadow crossed the curtain. Everything out-of-doors was quiet and sweet; the moon went higher and higher, and the wind rustled among the apple-trees. Some white petunias in a little plot near by looked strangely white, and Betty thought that perhaps the other girl had planted them, and there they were growing on. Now she was going to die. Betty wondered what it would be like, and if the other girl knew, and if she minded so very much. After a few minutes she found herself saying an eager prayer that the doctor might still cure her, and keep her alive. If she must die, Betty hoped that she herself might do some of the things that Lizzie Edwards would have done, and take her place. When old people had to go, who had done all they wished to do, and got tired, and could not help thinking about having a new life, that was one thing; but to go now and leave all your hopes and plans behind, - indeed, it seemed too hard. But Betty had a sense of the difference between what things could be helped and what were in God's hands, and when she had said her prayer she waited again hopefully for a long time in the moonlight.
At last there seemed to be more movement in the house and she could hear voices; then she heard somebody sobbing, and the light in the upper room went quickly out.
The doctor came after a few minutes more, which seemed very long and miserable. Pepper had fallen asleep, good old horse! and Betty did not dare to ask any questions.
"Well, well," said the doctor, in a surprisingly cheerful voice, "I forgot all about you, Miss Betty Leicester. I hope that you're not cold this time, and I don't know what the aunts will have to say about us; it is nearly eleven o'clock."
"I'm not cold, but I did get frightened," acknowledged Betty faintly; then she felt surprisingly light-hearted. Dr. Prince could not be in such good spirits if he had just seen his poor young patient die!
"We got here just in time," he said, tucking the light blanket closer about Betty. "We've pulled the child through, but she was almost gone when I first saw her; there was just a spark of life left, - a spark of life," repeated the doctor.
"Who was it crying?" Betty asked.
"The mother," said the doctor. "I had just told her that she was going to keep the little girl. Why, here's a good sound sassafras lozenge in my pocket. Now we'll have a handsome entertainment."
Betty, who had just felt as if she were going to cry for nobody knew how long, began to laugh instead, as Dr. Prince broke his unexpected lozenge into honest halves and presented her solemnly with one of them. There was never such a good sassafras lozenge before or since, and Pepper trotted steadily home to her stall and the last end of her supper. "Only think, if the doctor hadn't known just what to do," said Betty later to Aunt Barbara, "and how he goes all the time to people's houses! Every day we see him going by to do things to help people. This might have been a freezing, blowing might, and he would have gone just the same."
"Dear child, run up to your bed now," said Aunt Barbara, kissing her good-night; for Betty was very wide awake, and still had so many things to say. She never would forget that drive at night. She had been taught a great lesson of the good doctor's helpfulness, but Aunt Barbara had learned it long ago.
The young man shaded his eyes with his hand and looked toward the shore.
from "A Bit of Color," the serialization of an early version
of Betty Leicester in St. Nicholas; see note at the end of Chapter 1 for details.
NOTES FOR CHAPTER XIII. A GREAT EXCITEMENT
life of Dr. Donne:Probably Betty is reading from Isaak Walton's Lives (1670). A life of the English poet John Donne (1572-1631) is the first of the biographies in this collection.
[ Back ]
mignonette: a garden annual with yellow-green blossoms, R. odorata.
[ Back ]
"The Village on the Cliff": The Village on the Cliff (1866) is by Ann Thackeray, Lady Ritchie.
[ Back ]
'Walton's Angler': The Compleat Angler (1653-5) by Izaak Walton.
[ Back ]
Robinson Crusoe ... Mayne Reid's books: Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) published his novel, Robinson Crusoe in 1719. Thomas Mayne Reid (1818-1883) was a prolific writer of books for children and adults. Irish born, he emigrated to the United States, where he served in the Mexican War, upon which a number of his books were based. The Rifle Rangers (1850) established him as a writer for adults; The Boy Hunters (1853) is one of his notable juvenile titles.
[ Back ]
whipping: Probably they are sewing seams around the edges of the napkins.
[ Back ]
THE OUT-OF-DOOR CLUB.
The Out-of-Door Club in Tideshead was slow in getting under way, but it was a great success at last. Its first expedition was to the Picknell farm, to see the place where there had been a great battle with the French and Indians, in old times, and the relics of a beaver-dam were to be inspected beside. Mr. Picknell came to talk about the plan with Miss Barbara Leicester, who was going to drive out to the farm in the afternoon, and then walk back with the club, as besought by Betty. She was highly pleased with the eagerness of her young neighbors, who had discovered in her an unsuspected sympathy and good-fellowship at the time of Betty's June tea-party. It had been a pity to make believe old in all these late years, and to become more and more a stranger to the young people. Perhaps, if the club proved a success, it would be a good thing to have winter meetings too, and read together.
Somehow Miss Barbara had never before known exactly what to do for the young folks. She could have a little supper for them in the evening, and ask them to come and read with her; or perhaps she might propose to read some good story to them, and some poetry. They ought to know something of the great poets. Miss Mary Leicester was taken up with the important business of her own invalidism, but it might be a very good thing for her to take some part in such pleasant plans. Under all Aunt Barbara's shyness and habit of formality Betty had discovered her warm and generous heart. They had become fast friends, and, to tell the truth, Aunt Mary was beginning to have an uneasy and wistful consciousness that she was causing herself to be left out of many pleasures.
The gloom and general concern at the time of the Fosters' sorrow had caused the first club meeting to be postponed until early in August; and then, though August weather would not seem so good for out-of-door expeditions, this one Wednesday dawned like a cool, clear June day, and at three o'clock the fresh easterly wind had not ceased to blow and yet had not brought in any seaward clouds. There were eleven boys and girls, and Miss Barbara Leicester made twelve, while with the two Picknells the club counted fourteen. The Fosters promised to come later in the summer, but they did not feel in the least hurt because some of their friends urged them to join in cheerful company this very day. It seemed to Betty as if Nelly looked brighter and somehow unafraid, now that the first miserable weeks had gone. It may have been that poor Nelly was lighter-hearted already than she often had been in her father's lifetime.
They dared the club to cross a wide brook on insecure stepping-stones.
Betty and Mary Beck walked together, at first; but George Max asked Mary to walk with him, so they parted. Betty liked Harry Foster better than any other of the boys, and really missed him to-day. She was brimful of plans about persuading her father to help Harry to study natural history. While the club was getting ready to walk two by two, Betty suddenly remembered that she was an odd one, and hastily took her place between the Grants, insisting that they three must lead the procession. The timid Grants were full of fun that day, for a wonder, and a merry head to the procession they were with Betty, walking fast and walking slowly, and leading the way by short cuts across-country with great spirit. They called a halt to pick huckleberries, and they dared the club to cross a wide brook on insecure stepping-stones. Everybody made fun for everybody else whenever they saw an opportunity, and when they reached the Picknell farm, quite warm and excited, they were announced politely by George Max as "the Out-of-Breath Club." The shy Picknells wore their best white Sunday dresses, and the long white farm-house with its gambrel roof seemed a delightfully shady place as the club sat still a while to cool and rest itself and drink some lemonade. Mrs. Picknell was a thin, bright-eyed little woman, who had the reputation of being the best housekeeper in town. She was particularly kind to Betty Leicester, who was after all no more a stranger to her than were some of the others who came. It was lovely to see that Mrs. Picknell and Julia were so proud of Mary's gift for drawing, and evidently managed that she should have time for it. Mary had begun to go to Riverport every week for a lesson.
"She heard that Mr. Clinturn, the famous artist, was spending the summer there, and started out by herself one day to ask him to give her lessons," Mrs. Picknell told Betty proudly. "He said at first that he couldn't spare the time; but I had asked Mary to take two or three of her sketches with her, and when he saw them he said that it would be a pleasure to help her all that he could."
"I do think this picture of the old packet-boat coming up the river is the prettiest of all. Oh, here's Aunt Barbara; do come and see this, Aunty!"said Betty, with great enthusiasm. "It makes me think of the afternoon I came to you."
Miss Leicester took out her eyeglasses and looked as she was bidden. "It is a charming little water-color," she said, with delighted surprise. "Did you really teach yourself until this summer?"
"I only had my play paint-box until last winter," said Mary Picknell. "I am so glad you like it, Miss Leicester;" for Miss Leicester had many really beautiful pictures of her own, and her praise was worth having.
Then Mr. Picknell took his stick from behind the door, and led the company of guests out across the fields to a sloping rough piece of pasture land, with a noisy brook at the bottom, where a terrible battle had been fought in the old French and Indian war. He read them an account of it from Mr. Parkman's history, and told all the neighborhood traditions of the frightened settlers, and burnt houses, and murdered children and very old people, and the terrible march of a few captives through the winter woods to Canada. How his own great-great grandfather and grandmother were driven away from home, and each believed the other dead for three years, until the man escaped, and then went, hearing that his wife was alive, to buy her freedom. They came to the farm again, and were buried in the old burying-lot, side by side.
"There was a part of the story which you left out," Mrs. Picknell said "When they killed the little baby, the Indians told its poor mother not to cry about it or they would kill her too; and when her tears would fall, a kind-hearted squaw was quick enough to throw some water in the poor woman's face, so that the men only laughed and thought it was a taunt, and not done to hide tears at all."
"I have not heard these old town stories for years. We ought to thank you heartily," said Miss Barbara, when the battle-ground had been shown and the club had heard all the interesting things that were known about the great fight. Then they came back by way of the old family burying-place and read the quaint epitaphs, which Mr. Picknell himself had cut deeper and kept from wearing away. It seemed that they never could forget the old farm's history.
"I maintain that every old place in town ought to have its history kept," said Mr. Picknell. "Now, you boys and girls, what do you know about the places where you live? Why don't you make town clerks of yourselves? Take the edges of almanacs, if you can't get courage to begin a blank-book, and make notes of things, so that dates will be kept for those who come after you. Most of you live where your great-grandfathers did, and you ought to know about the old folks. Most of what I've kept alive about this old farm I learned from my great-grandmother, who lived to be a very old woman, and liked to tell me stories in the long winter evenings, when I was a boy. Now we'll go and see where the beavers used to build, down here where the salt water makes up into the outlet of the brook. Plenty of their logs lay there moss-covered, when I was a grown man."
Somehow the getting acquainted with each other in a new way was the best part of the club, after all. It was quite another thing from even sitting side by side in school, to walk these two or three miles together. Betty Leicester had taught her Tideshead cronies something of her own lucky secret of taking and making the pleasures that were close at hand. It was great good fortune to get hold of a common wealth of interest and association by means of the club; and as Mr. Picknell and Miss Leicester talked about the founders and pioneers of the earliest Tideshead farms, there was not a boy nor girl who did not have a sense of pride in belonging to so valiant an old town. They could plan a dozen expeditions to places of historic interest. There had been even witches in Tideshead, and soldiers and scholars to find out about and remember. There was no better way of learning American history (as Miss Leicester said) than to study thoroughly the history of a single New England village. As for newer towns in the West, they were all children of some earlier settlements, and nobody could tell how far back a little careful study would lead.
There was time for a good game of tennis after the stories were told, and the play was watched with great excitement, but some of the club girls strayed about the old house, part of which had been a garrison-house. The doors stood open, and the sunshine fell pleasantly across the floors of the old rooms. Usually they meant to go picnicking, but to-day the Picknells had asked their friends to tea, and a delicious country supper it was. Then they all sang, and Mary Beck's clear voice, as usual, led all the rest. It was seven o'clock before the party was over. The evening was cooler than August evenings usually are, and after many leave-takings the club set off afoot toward the town.
"What a good time!" said Betty to the Grants and Aunt Barbara, for she had claimed one Grant and let Aunt Barbara walk with the other; and everybody said "What a good time!" at least twice, as they walked down the lane to the road. There they stopped for a minute to sing another verse of "Goodnight, ladies," and indeed went away singing along the road, until at last the steepness of the hill made them quiet. The Picknells, in their doorway, listened as long as they could.
At the top of the long hill the club, stopped for a minute, and kept very still to hear the hermit-thrushes singing, and did not notice at first that three persons were coming toward them, a tall man and a boy and girl. Suddenly Betty's heart gave a great beat. The taller figure was swinging a stick to and fro, in a way that she knew well; the boy was Harry Foster, and the girl was Nelly. Surely - but the other? Oh, yes, it was papa! "Oh, papa!" and Betty gave a strange little laugh and flew before the rest of the club, who were still walking slowly and sedately, and threw herself into her father's arms. Then Miss Leicester hurried, too, and the rest of the club broke ranks, and felt for a minute if their peace of mind was troubled.
But Betty's papa was equal to this emergency. "This must be Becky, but how grown!" he said to Mary Beck, holding out his hand cordially; "and George Max, and the Grants, and - Frank Crane, is it? I used to play with your father;" and so Mr. Leicester, pioneered by Betty, shook hands with everybody and was made most welcome.
"You see that I know you all very well through Betty! So nobody believed that I could come on the next train after my letter, and get here almost as soon?" he said, holding Betty's hand tighter than ever, and looking at her as if he wished to kiss her again. He did kiss her again, it being his own Betty. They were very fond of each other, these two; but some of their friends agreed with Aunt Barbara, who always said that her nephew was much too young to have the responsibility of so tall a girl as Betty Leicester.
Nobody noticed that Harry and Nelly Foster were there too, in the first moment of excitement, and so the first awkwardness of taking up every-day life again with their friends was passed over easily. As for our Betty, she fairly danced along the road as they went homeward, and could not bear to let go her hold of her father's hand. It was even more dear and delightful than she had dreamed to have him back again.
NOTES FOR CHAPTER XIV. THE OUT-OF-DOOR CLUB
packet-boat: This text is inconsistent in hyphenating these words. I have not changed these to make them consistent.
[ Back ]
terrible battle had been fought in the old French and Indian war ... an account of it from Mr. Parkman's history: Jewett says in "The Old Town of Berwick, "Perhaps the most famous battle with the Indians was in 1690, when a party under the command of Hertel, a Frenchman, and Hopegood, a sachem, attacked Newichawannock." This took place early in the series of wars between France and the English colonies (1689-1745). Jewett tells the story of the battle at length, including the carrying of local hostages into Canada. Jewett's notes on this battle refer to Parkman's Frontenac and New France, Chap. XI. See "The Old Town of Berwick."
In Chapter 11 of Count Frontenac and New France under Louis XIV (1877), Parkman gives this account.Through snow and ice and storm, Hertel and his band were moving on their prey. On the night of the
twenty-seventh of March, they lay hidden in the forest that bordered the farms and clearings of Salmon Falls. Their scouts reconnoitred the place, and found a fortified house with two stockade forts, built as a refuge for the settlers in case of alarm. Towards daybreak, Hertel, dividing his followers into three parties, made a sudden and simultaneous attack. The settlers, unconscious of danger, were in their beds. No watch was kept even in the so-called forts; and, when the French and Indians burst in, there was no time for their few tenants to gather for defence. The surprise was complete; and, after a short struggle, the assailants were successful at every point. They next turned upon the scattered farms of the neighborhood, burned houses, barns, and cattle, and laid the entire settlement in ashes. About thirty persons of both sexes and all ages were tomahawked or shot; and fifty-four, chiefly women and children, were made prisoners. Two Indian scouts now brought word that a party of English was advancing to the scene of havoc from Piscataqua, or Portsmouth, not many miles distant. Hertel called his men together, and began his retreat. The pursuers, a hundred and forty in number, overtook him about sunset at Wooster River, where the swollen stream was crossed by a narrow bridge. Hertel and his followers made a stand on the farther bank, killed and wounded a number of the English as they attempted to cross, kept up a brisk fire on the rest, held them in check till night, and then continued their retreat. The prisoners, or some of them, were given to the Indians, who tortured one or more of the men, and killed and tormented children and infants with a cruelty not always equalled by their heathen countrymen.
Worster's Brook in March 2005
Photo by Wendy Pirsig
Jewett also knew James Sullivan's and William Williamson's accounts of these events, which she read while writing "The Old Town of Berwick." She may also have read Francis Parkman's The Old Régime in Canada (1893) which shows sympathy to the French point of view. Eye-witness accounts differ in some details. See Emerson Baker's web site for an eye-witness account: http://www.salemstate.edu/~ebaker/chadweb/raiddocs.htm.
James Sullivan says: "In the year 1690 a party under the command of one Hertel, a Frenchman, and Hopegood, a sachem, assaulted the plantation of Newichawanick [Salmon Falls River]; they killed thirty men, and the rest of the people, after an obstinate and courageous defence, surrendered at discretion. The captives were fifty-four, the greater part of whom were women and children. The enemy burned all the houses and mills, and taking with them what plunder they could carry, retreated to the northward. A party of one hundred and forty men collected from the neighbouring towns, pursued and came up with the Savages on Worster's River, at a narrow bridge. Hertel had expected a pursuit, and had placed his people in a posture of defence. The engagement was warm, and continued the whole of an afternoon; but as the men on both sides were shielded by the trees and brush, there was no great slaughter; four or five of the English, and two of the Savages were killed, a Frenchman was wounded and taken prisoner" (History of the District of Maine, 250-1; See also William Williamson, v. 2, ch. 2).
Francis Parkman says, in The Old Régime in Canada (1874), "When ... a band of French and Indians issued from the forest and fell upon the fort and settlement of Salmon Falls, it was François Hertel who led the attack; and when the retiring victors were hard pressed by an overwhelming force, it was he who, sword in hand, held the pursuers in check at the bridge of Wooster River, and covered the retreat of his men. He was ennobled for his services, and died at the age of 80, the founder of one of the most distinguished families of Canada. To the New England of old he was the abhorred chief of Popish malignants and murdering savages. The New England of to-day will be more just to the brave defender of his country and his faith" (Library of America edition, 1152-3).
At http://users.rcn.com/central.nh.ultranet/hike2002.htm, Norma Keim writes, "In 1688 a series of French and Indian Wars began, making life in our area unsettled and often dangerous. Some of these wars were extensions of war in Europe between France and England. In the New World, the French had the support of displaced natives from western and eastern Abenaki tribes as well as Indians from Canada; the English had their native allies as well. The French and Indians made numerous attempts to disrupt English settlements in New England, lasting well into the 1700s. It was to the benefit of France that English settlements failed, for settlements like Salmon Falls and Quamphegan were providing masts for the English navy in Europe.
"Salmon Falls, Quamphegan and Old Fields felt the effect of King William's War (1688). Salmon Falls was all but destroyed in the surprise attack of March 18, 1689. A group of French from Canada and their Indian allies burned homes and mills, killed many settlers and captured others, a young woman named Mehitable Goodwin among them. This attack may also have been responsible for the burning of the Humphrey Chadbourne homestead."
This raid of 1689/90 (both dates get used because of the change in calendar), as Keim recounts, swept through the Upper Landing area; Emerson Baker believes this attack destroyed the Chadbourne house at the mouth of the Great Works River.
(Research assistance: Emerson Baker, Norma Keim, Wendy Pirsig).
[ Back ]
hide tears: Jewett recounts this story also in "The Old Town of Berwick" (1894) and in The Tory Lover, Chapter 32 (1901). This is the story of Hetty Goodwin. As she explains in "The Old Town of Berwick," Jewett knows the story from local oral history, but she also points out that probably the first printed account appears in Cotton Mather's works. She mentions Magnalia Christi Americana (1702); the story also appears in Decennium Luctuosum (1699). Jewett has changed some details in this version, shortening the captivity in Canada to three years. Significant parts of Jewett's fullest version of the story in "The Old Town of Berwick" cannot be verified, and probably are legendary, notably the story of the kindly Indian woman and the story of Hetty's second marriage.
In all three of the above versions, Jewett relates that after Hetty's captors killed her son, they threatened to kill her as well if she would not control her grief. Seeing that she could not keep from weeping, a kindly Indian woman with "a mother's heart" splashed water in her face, creating -- through an apparent act of cruelty -- a rationale for Hetty's tears, and saving her from her captors' wrath. Useful as this story is to Jewett in her two novels, it is unlikely to be true. The multiple accounts we have of Hertel's raid indicate that there were no women among the raiders. The situation differs from captivities in King Philip's war (1675-6), such as that of Mary Rowlandson, when the raiders were exclusively Native Americans with more or less local camps, through which prisoners could be passed on their route to Canada. Hertel's raiders came from Three Rivers, in Canada, and were made up of French soldiers and an Indian force, mainly Sokoki, who would be familiar with the Salmon Falls area, but not recently residing there. The raiders had to move quickly through rough terrain in the winter. At his website, historian Emerson Baker reprints a transcription of an eye-witness account: “French Captive Examination from Piscataway 19th March 1690” (http://w3.salemstate.edu/~ebaker/chadweb/raiddocs.htm). Failing to mention any women traveling with the raiders, this account confirms the military nature of the raid: "yt they came by ordr of the french Govr at Canada & that both french & Indians are in pay at ten Livers p month."
Though it is not impossible that women accompanied this group, it is unlikely, and there is no mention of Indian women in written accounts from Mather through Parkman to more recent summaries, such as that in Chester B. Price's description of "Historic Indian Trails of New Hampshire" of the Newichwannock-Sokoki trail, which the raiders followed in their escape (reprinted in The Indian Heritage of New Hampshire and Northern New England. McFarland: Jefferson, NC, 2002, pp. 160-162). Colin Calloway's account emphasizes the arduous military character of the raid: " … twenty-four French, twenty to twenty-four Sokokis, and five Algonquins -- led by François Sieur d'Hertel -- left Three Rivers, crossed Lake Memphremagog to the Connecticut River, and, after three months hard traveling, attacked Salmon Falls on the New Hampshire frontier" (The Western Abenaki of Vermont 1600-1800. Norman: U Oklahoma P, 1990, pp. 94-5). A. T. Vaughan and E. W. Clark say that Governor Frontenac, who ordered the raids, had recently lowered the bounty on scalps and raised it on prisoners, thus encouraging the raiders to bring more prisoners to Canada (Puritans among the Indians, 136). In The Captor's Narrative, William H. Foster points out the need for captive labor in the developing French colony.
We may also notice another difference between early accounts of the captivity and more recent accounts of the raid. Mather and Parkman focus on the prisoners, emphasizing that they were "given to the Indians," and as a result suffered special cruelties, such as the killing of children and various tortures. Both, of course, are making cases against the Indians. Mather wishes to persuade readers that Indians are bestial minions of Satan, to be either converted or extirpated from the Christian colonies. Parkman wishes to persuade readers that Indians are a savage race, generally incapable of civilization, and, therefore, those who cannot convert to Protestant Christianity are doomed to extinction by historical forces represented by America's Manifest Destiny. More recent accounts, such as Calloway's, emphasize the conditions of international warfare between France and England, and the military character of this and other raids. It was the French intention to terrorize English colonists on the frontier and drive them out. The British had the same intentions toward the French. Both used Indians in warfare in part because they could do what "civilized" soldiers were not allowed to do, ruthlessly kill prisoners who proved incapable of keeping up with the necessary pace of the raiders as they struck and retreated. Calloway, for example, emphasizes that the Frenchman d'Hertel was in command, while earlier writers, whom Jewett follows, typically name the Indian, Hopehood, as a co-commander.
The second element of Hetty Goodwin's story that probably is legendary appears only in "The Old Town of Berwick," the assertion that Goodwin, believing her first husband dead, remarried while held prisoner in Canada.
In Old Kittery and her Families, Everett Stackpole, doubting the marriage, provides this account:Other captives were Thomas Goodwin and his wife, who was Mehitable, daughter of Lieut. Roger Plaisted. The husband and wife were assigned to different bands of Indians and so remained apart. After his escape he is said to have returned to Canada for the ransom of his wife. An account of her sufferings was written by Rev. Cotton Mather in his Magnalia, and has been often republished. Her son, about five months old, was barbarously murdered before her eyes and hanged by the neck in a forked bough of a tree. After terrible sufferings from grief, cold and hunger, she arrived at Montreal. The record of her baptism, written in French, has been kindly furnished me by Miss C. Alice Baker, who has published much about the captives taken in the French and Indian Wars. The translation is as follows:Again, it remains possible that Hetty remarried in Canada and perhaps even bore one or more children while there, but the marriage would have had to take place, as Stackpole points out, after May of 1693. C. Alice Baker's inquiry elicited no record of a marriage, and Foster's research for The Captor's Narrative turned up no evidence that Hetty married in Canada. He discusses her as among two married English women who converted to Catholicism during their captivities (144).
"Monday, 11 May, 1693, there was solemnly baptized an English woman called in her own country Mehetabel, and by the French who captured her in war, 18 March 1690, Esther, who was born at Barvic, in New England, 30 April (old style, or 19 May new style) 1670, of the marriage of Roger Pleisted, Protestant, and Olive Coleman of the same religion, and was married to Thomas Gouden [Goodwin] also Protestant. She has lived for about three years in the service of Mademoiselle de Nauguiere [written also de la Naudiere]. She was named Marie Esther. Her godfather was Messire Hector de Catlieres, Chevalier, Governor for the King in the Isle of Montreal and its vicinity. Her godmother was Damoiselle Marguerite Renee Denis, widow of Monsieur Naugiere de la Perade, during his life Captain of the Guard of Monsieur le Conte de Frontenac, Governor of New France. The baptism was performed by M. Francois Dolie de Casson, Grand Vicar of the most Illustrious and most Reverend Monseigneur Bishop of Quebec."
(Signed) Chevalier de Catlieres,
Marguerite renee denis,
E. Guyoth, Cure.
I have heard the tradition from one of her descendants that Mehitabel Goodwin was married in Canada to a man named Rand (some say Pain) and that descendants are living in Portsmouth. This is highly improbable. She was baptized in May, 1693, and could not have been married before, and she was ransomed in October, 1695. The Rands of Portsmouth are all, doubtless, descended from the Francis Rand who came over in the company of Capt. John Mason. (Old Kittery and Her Families, 1903, pp. 165-6).
One wonders about how the story of this marriage made it into the oral history of South Berwick and so, into Jewett's account of Hetty in "The Old Town of Berwick." It certainly adds to the pathos of the 5-years separation of the young married couple, but it also adds complications that beg for deeper exploration. How did Hetty feel about leaving her second husband to return with her first? How did her children by the second marriage end up in nearby Portsmouth, NH? What relationships did they sustain with their mother?
Jewett does not mention Hetty's supposed second marriage in either of her novels, probably because it would have seemed inappropriate and would have worked against her reasons for bringing Hetty's story into her narratives. Indeed, in The Tory Lover (Chapter 32), Madam Wallingford emphasizes her ancestor's extreme reticence about her trials, suggesting that Hetty was not herself the witness who provided Cotton Mather with his account of Hetty's captivity. Possibly, C. Alice Baker, Jewett's close friend according to biographer Paula Blanchard (Sarah Orne Jewett, pp. 225-6), told Jewett about the baptism between 1894 and the publication of The Tory Lover in 1901. Baker did not retell Hetty's story in True Stories of New England Captives Carried to Canada During the Old French and Indian Wars (1897), but she may have completed her research on Hetty Goodwin before 1897.
Though this detail seems less important to Jewett's work, there also is lack of clarity about how Hetty was rescued and returned home. Jewett indicates that Hetty's husband, Thomas, personally undertook the redemption, but Emma Lewis Coleman says, "'Hitobl Goodin' was one of those redeemed in Oct 1695 by Mathew Cary" (Coleman, New England Captives Carried to Canada I : 185-186). Vaughan and Clark in Puritans among the Indians indicate that Hetty Goodwin was among the twenty-two prisoners brought back to Boston from Canada by Matthew Carey/Cary aboard the Tryal in October-November, 1695 (157).
[ Back ]
"Goodnight, Ladies": “Goodnight, Ladies”is attributed to Edwin Pearce Christy (November 28, 1815 – May 21, 1862), the first version appearing in 1847 and the complete version in 1867.
Verse 1: Goodnight, ladies! Goodnight, ladies! Goodnight, ladies! We're going to leave you now.
Chorus: Merrily we roll along, roll along, roll along, O'er the dark blue sea.
Verse 2: Farewell, Ladies! Farewell, ladies! Farewell, ladies! We're going to leave you now.
Verse 3: Sweet dreams, ladies! Sweet dreams, ladies! Sweet dreams, ladies! We're going to leave you now.
[ Back ]
THE STARLIGHT COMES IN.
There was a most joyful evening in the old Leicester house. Everybody forgot to speak about Betty's going to bed, and even Aunt Mary was in high spirits. It was wonderful how much good a little excitement did for her, and Betty had learned that an effort to be entertaining always brought the pleasant reward of saving Aunt Mary from a miserable, tedious morning or afternoon. When she waked next morning, her first thought was about papa, and her next that Aunt Mary was likely to have a headache after sitting up so late. Betty herself was tired, and felt as if it were the day after the fair; but when she hurried down to breakfast she found Aunt Barbara alone, and was told that papa had risen at four o'clock, and, as she expressed it to Aunt Mary a little later, stolen his breakfast from Serena and gone down to Riverport on the packet, tide having served at that early hour.
"I heard a clacketing in the kitchen closet," said Serena, "and I just got my skirt an' a cape on to me an' flew down to see what 't was. I expected somebody was took with fits; an' there was y'r father with both his hands full o' somethin' he'd collected to stay himself with, an' he looked 's much o' a boy 's ever he did, and I so remarked, an' he told me he was goin' to Riverport. 'Want a little change, I s'pose?' says I, an' he laughed good an' clipped it out o' the door and down towards the landin'."
"I wonder what he's after now, Serena?" said Betty sagely, but Serena shook her head absently. It was evident to Betty's mind that papa had shaken off all thought of care, and was taking steps towards some desired form of enjoyment. He had been disappointed the evening before to find that there were hardly any boats to be had. Very likely he meant to bring one up on the packet that afternoon; but Betty was disappointed not to find him in the house, and thought that he might have called her to go down on the packet with him. She felt as if she were going to have a long and dull morning.
However, she found that Aunt Mary was awake and in a cheerful frame, so she brought her boots in, and sat by the garden window while she put some new buttons on with the delightful little clamps that save so many difficult stitches. Aunt Mary was already dressed, though it was only nine o'clock, and was seated before an open bureau drawer, which her grandniece had learned to recognize as a good sign. Aunt Mary had endless treasures of the past carefully tucked away in little bundles and boxes, and she liked to look these over, and to show them to Betty, and tell their history. She listened with great eagerness to Betty's account of papa's departure.
"I was afraid that you would feel tired this morning," said the girl, turning a bright face toward her aunt.
"I am sure I expected it myself," replied Aunt Mary plaintively, "but it isn't neuralgia weather, perhaps. At any rate, I am none the worse."
"I believe that a good frolic is the very best thing for you," insisted Betty, feeling very bold; but Aunt Mary received this news amiably, though she made no reply. Betty had recovered by this time from her sense of bitter wrong at her father's departure, and after she had talked with Aunt Mary a little while about the grand success of the Out-of-Door Club, she went her ways to find Becky.
Becky was in a very friendly mood, and admired Mr. Leicester, and wondered too at ever having been afraid of him in other years, when she used to see him walking sedately down the street.
"Papa is very sober sometimes when he is hard at work," explained Betty with eagerness. "He gets very tired, and then - oh, I don't mean that papa is ever aggravating, but for days and days I know that he is working hard and can't stop to hear about my troubles, so I try not to talk to him; but he always makes up for it after a while. I don't mind now, but when I was a little girl and first went away from here I used to be lonely, and even cry sometimes, and of course I didn't understand. We get on beautifully now, and I like to read so much that I can always cover up the dull times with a nice book."
"Do they last long, - the dull times?" asked Mary Beck in an unusually sympathetic voice. Betty had spoken sadly, and it dawned upon her friend's mind that life was not all a holiday even to Betty Leicester.
"Ever so long," answered Betty briskly; "but you see I have my mending and housekeeping when we are in lodgings. We are masters of the situation now, papa always says; but when I was too small to look after him, we used to have to depend upon old lodging-house women, and they made us miserable, though I love them all for the sake of the good ones who will let you go into the kitchen yourself and make a cup of tea for papa just right, and be honest and good, and cry when you go away instead of clamming the door. Oh, I could tell you stories, Mary Eliza Beck!" and Betty took one or two frisky steps along the sidewalk as if she meant to dance. Mary Beck felt as if she were looking out of a very small and high garret window at a vast and surprising world. She was not sure that she should not like to keep house in country lodgings, though, and order the dinner, and have a housekeeping purse, as Betty had done these three or four years. They had often talked about these experiences; but Becky's heart always faltered when she thought of being alone in strange houses and walking alone in strange streets. Sometimes Betty had delightful visits, and excellent town lodgings, and diversified hotel life of the most entertaining sort. She seemed to be thinking about all this and reflecting upon it deeply. "I wish that papa and I were going to be here a year," she said. "I love Tideshead."
Mr. Leicester did not wait to come back with the packet boat, but appeared by the stage from the railway station in good season for dinner. He was very hungry, and looked well satisfied with his morning's work, and he told Betty that she should know toward the end of the afternoon the reason of his going to Riverport, so that there was nothing to do but to wait. She was disappointed, because she had fancied that he meant to bring home a new row-boat; perhaps, after all, he had made some arrangements about it. Why, yes! it might be coming up by the packet, and they would go out together that very evening. Betty could hardly wait for the hour to come.
When dinner was over, papa was enticed up to see the cubby-house, while the aunts took their nap. There was a little roast pig for dinner, and Aunt Barbara had been disappointed to find that her guest had gone away, as it was his favorite dinner; but his unexpected return made up for everything, and they had a great deal of good fun. Papa was in the best of spirits, and went out to speak to Serena about the batter puddling as soon as Aunt Barbara rose from her chair.
"Now don't you tell me you don't get them batter puddings a sight better in the dwellings of the rich and great," insisted Serena, with great complacency. "Setting down to feast with lords and dukes, same 's you do, you must eat of the best the year round. We do season the sauce well, I will allow. Miss Barbara, she always thinks it may need a drop more."
"Serena," said Betty's father solemnly, "I assure you that I have eaten a slice of bacon between two tough pieces of hard tack for my dinner many a day this summer, and I haven't had such a batter pudding since the last one you made yourself."
"You don't tell me they're goin' out o' fashion," said Serena, much shocked "I know some ain't got the knack o' makin' 'em!"
Betty stood by, enjoying the conversation. Serena always said proudly that a great light of intellect would have been lost to the world if she had not rescued Mr. Leicester from the duck-pond when he was a boy, and they were indeed the best of friends. Serena's heart rejoiced when anybody praised her cooking, and she turned away now toward the pantry with a beaming smile, while the father and daughter went up to the garret.
It was hot there at this time of day; still the great elms outside kept the sun from shining directly on the roof, and a light breeze was blowing in at the dormer window.
Mr. Leicester sat down in the high-backed wooden rocking-chair, and looked about the quaint little place with evident pleasure. Betty was perched on the window-sill. She had looked forward eagerly to this moment.
"There is my old butterfly-net," he exclaimed, "and my minerals, and - why, all the old traps! Where did you find them? I remember that once I came up here and found everything cleared away but the gun, - they were afraid to touch that."
"I looked in the boxes under the eaves," explained Betty. "Your little Fourth of July cannon is there in the dark corner. I had it out at first, but Becky tumbled over it three times, and once Aunt Mary heard the noise and had a palpitation of the heart, so I pushed it back again out of the way. I did so wish that you were here to fire it. I had almost forgotten what fun the Fourth is. I wrote you all about it, didn't I?"
"Some day we will come to Tideshead and have a great celebration, to make up for losing that," said papa. "Betty, my child, I'm sleepy. I don't know whether it is this rocking-chair or Serena's dinner."
"Perhaps it was getting up so early in the morning," suggested Betty. "Go to sleep, papa. I'll say some of my new pieces of poetry. I learned all you gave me, and some others beside."
"Not the 'Scholar Gypsy,' I suppose?"
"Yes, indeed," said Betty. "The last of it was hard, but all those verses about the fields are lovely, and make me remember that spring when we lived in Oxford. That was the only long one you gave me. I am not sure that I can say it without the book. I always play that I am in the 'high field corner' looking down at the meadows, and I can remember the first pages beautifully."
Papa's eyes were already shut, and by the time Betty had said
"All the live murmur of a summer's day"
she found that he was fast asleep. She stole a glance at him now and then, and a little pang went through her heart as she saw that his hair was really growing gray. Aunt Mary and Aunt Barbara appeared to believe that he was hardly more than a boy, but to Betty thirty-nine years was a long lifetime, and indeed her father had achieved much more than most men of his age. She was afraid of waking him and kept very still, so that a sparrow lit on the window-sill and looked at her a moment or two before he flew away again. She could even hear the pigeons walking on the roof overhead and hopping on the shingles, with a tap, from the little fence that went about the house-top. When Mr. Leicester waked he still wished to hear the "Scholar Gypsy," which was accordingly begun again, and repeated with only two or three stops. Sometimes they said a verse together, and then they fell to talking about some of the people whom they both loved in Oxford, and had a delightful hour together. At first Betty had not liked to learn long poems, and thought her father was stern and inconsiderate in choosing such old and sober ones; but she was already beginning to see a reason for it, and was glad, if for nothing else, to know the poems papa himself liked best, even if she did not wholly understand them. It was easy now to remember a new one, for she had learned so many. Aunt Barbara was much pleased with this accomplishment, for she had learned a great many herself in her lifetime. It seemed to be an old custom in the Leicester family, and Betty thought one day that she could let this gift stand in the place of singing as Becky could; one's own friends were not apt to care so much for poetry, but older people liked to be "repeated" to. One night, however, she had said Tennyson's ballad of "The Revenge" to Harry Foster and Nelly as they came up the river, and they liked it surprisingly.
Papa reached for the old guitar presently and after mending the broken strings he began to sing a delightful little Italian song, a great favorite of Betty's. Then there was a step on the stairs, Aunt Barbara's dignified head appeared behind the railing, and they called her to come up and join them.
"I felt as if there must be ghosts walking in daylight when I heard the old guitar," she said a little wistfully. When she was seated in the rocking-chair and Betty's father had pulled forward a flowered tea-chest for himself, he went on with his singing, and then played a Spanish dancing tune, with a nod to Betty, so that she skipped at once to the open garret-floor and took the pretty steps with much gayety. Aunt Barbara smiled and kept time with her foot; then she left the prim rocking-chair and began to follow the dance too, soberly chasing Betty and receding and even twirling her about, until they were both out of breath and came back to their places very warm and excited. They looked strangely alike as they danced. Betty was almost as tall and only a little more quick and graceful than her grandaunt.
"It is such fun to be just the same age as you and papa," insisted Betty. "We do everything together now." She took on a pretty grown-up air, and looked at Aunt Barbara admiringly. It was only this summer that she had begun to understand how young grown people really are. Aunt Mary seemed much older because she had stopped doing so many pleasant things. This garret dance was a thing to remember. Betty liked Aunt Barbara better every day, but it had never occurred to her that she knew that particular Spanish dance. An army officer's wife had taught it to Betty and some of her friends the summer she was in the Isle of Wight. Becky had been brought up to be very doubtful about dancing, which was a great pity, for she was apt to be stiff and awkward when she walked or tried to move about in the room. Somehow she moved her feet as if they had been made too heavy for her, but she learned a good deal from trying to keep step as she walked with Betty, who was naturally light-footed.
Mr. Leicester put down the guitar at last, and said that he had an errand to do, and that Betty had better come along.
"Can't you sit still five minutes, either of you?" maliciously asked Aunt Barbara, who had quite regained her breath. "I really did not know how cozy this corner was. I must say that I had forgot to associate it with anything but Serena's and my putting away blankets in the spring. I used to like to sit by the window and read when I was your age, Betty. In those days I could look over this nearest elm and see way down the river, just as you can now in winter when the leaves are gone. I dare say the three generations before me have played here too. I am so glad that we could have Betty this summer; it is time she began to strike her roots a little deeper here."
"Yes," said Mr. Leicester, "but I can't do without her, my only Betsey!" and they all laughed, but Betty had a sudden suspicion that Aunt Barbara would try to keep her altogether now. This frightened our friend a little, for though she loved the old home dearly, she must take care of papa. It was her place to take care of him now; she had been looking over his damaged wardrobe most anxiously that morning, as if her own had never known ruin. His outside clothes were well enough, but alas for his pocket handkerchiefs and stockings! He looked a little pale, too, and as if he had on the whole been badly neglected in minor ways.
But there never was a more cheerful and contented papa, as they walked toward the river together hand-in-hand, in the fashion of Betty's childhood. They found that the packet had come in, and there was a group of spectators on the old wharf, who were looking eagerly at something which proved to be a large cat-boat which the packet had in tow. Mr. Leicester left Betty suddenly and went to the wharf's edge.
"Did you have any trouble bringing her up?" he asked.
"Bless ye, no, sir," said the packet's skipper; "didn't hinder us one grain; had a clever little breeze right astern all the way up."
"Look here, Betty," said papa, returning presently. "I went down this morning to hunt for a dory with a sail, and I saw this cat-boat which somebody was willing to let, and I have hired it for a while. I wish to look up the river shell-fish a bit; it's not altogether play, I mean you to understand."
"Oh, papa!" cried Betty joyfully. "The only thing we needed was a nice boat. But you can't have clutters in pots and pans at Aunt Barbara's, can you, and your works going on? Serena won't like it, and she can be quite terrible, you know!"
'Come on board and look at her,' said Mr. Leicester.
"Come on board and look at her," said Mr. Leicester, regardless of the terrors of Serena's disapproval. The cat-boat carried a jib beside a good-sized mainsail, and had a comfortable little cabin with a tiny stove and two berths and plenty of lockers. Two young men had just spent their vacation in her, coasting eastward, and one of them told Mr. Leicester that she was the quickest and steadiest boat he ever saw, sailing close to the wind and answering her rudder capitally. They had lived on board altogether and made themselves very comfortable indeed. There was a light little flat-bottomed boat for tender, and the white cat-boat itself had been newly painted with gilt lettering across the stern, Starlight, Riverport.
"I can ask the Out-of-Door Club one day next week," announced Betty, with great enthusiasm. "Isn't she clean and pretty? Won't Aunt Barbara like her, papa?"
"I must look about for some one to help me to sail her," said Mr. Leicester, with uncommon gravity. "What do you think of young Foster? He must know the river well, and his fishing may be falling off a little now. It would be a good way to help him, don't you think so?"
Betty's eyes shone with joy. "Oh, yes," she said; "they do have such a hard time now. Nelly told me so yesterday morning. It has cost them so much lately. Harry has been trying to get something to do in Riverport."
They were busy anchoring the Starlight out in the stream, and now Mr. Leicester helped Betty over the side into the tender and sculled her ashore. Some of the men on the wharf had disappeared, but others were still there, and there was a great bustle of unloading some bags of grain from the packet. Mr. Leicester invited one of his old acquaintances who asked many questions to come out and see the cat-boat, and as Betty hurried up the street to the house she saw over her shoulder that a large company in small leaky crafts had surrounded the pretty Starlight like pirates. It was apt to be very dull in Tideshead for many of the idle citizens, and Mr. Leicester's return was always hailed with delight. It was nearly tea-time, so that Betty could not go over to tell Mary Beck the good news; but one white handkerchief, meaning Come over, was quickly displayed on the pear-tree branch, and while Betty was getting dressed in a much-needed fresh gown for tea Becky kindly appeared, and was delighted with the good news. She had seen the Starlight already from a distance.
"My father used to have a splendid sail-boat," said fatherless Becky with much wistfulness, and Betty put her arms round her and gave her a warm kiss. Sometimes it seemed that whatever one had the other lacked.
NOTES FOR CHAPTER XV. THE STARLIGHT COMES IN
Fourth of July: Annual American holiday celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the beginning of the American Revolution of 1776.
[ Back ]
'The Scholar Gypsy'... "All the live murmur of a summer's day": Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) published his poem, "The Scholar Gypsy" in 1853. "The Scholar Gypsy" is 250 lines. This is the twentieth line of the poem.
[ Back ]
Tennyson's ballad of "The Revenge": Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) published "The Revenge: A Ballad of the Fleet" in 1878. The Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia says, "Sir Richard Grenville, b. c.1542, d. Sept. 12, 1591, was an English naval hero in the service of Queen Elizabeth I. He was a cousin of Sir Walter Raleigh, and in 1585 he led the expedition that founded Raleigh's "Lost Colony" on Roanoke Island, N.C. In 1591, Grenville joined an English fleet intending to intercept Spanish treasure ships off the Azores. His ship, the Revenge, was separated from the rest and forced to engage a Spanish war fleet by itself. Grenville fought a heroic 15-hour battle, but he was mortally wounded and his ship was captured."
[ Back ]
cat-boat: a type of sailboat.
[ Back ]
DOWN THE RIVER.
There was a great stirring about and opening and shutting of kitchen doors early the next morning but one. Betty had been anxious the day before to set forth on what she was pleased to call a long cruise in the Starlight, but Mr. Leicester said that he must give up the morning to his letters, and after that came a long business talk with Aunt Barbara in the library, where she sat before her capacious secretary and produced some neat packages of papers from a little red morocco trunk which Betty had never seen before. To say truth, Aunt Barbara was a famous business woman and quite the superior of her nephew in financial matters, but she deferred to him meekly, and in fact gained some long-desired information about a northwestern city in which Mr. Leicester had lately been obliged to linger for two or three days.
It was a day of clear hot sunshine and light breeze, not ill the least a good clay for sailing; but Betty was Just as much disappointed to be kept at home as if it had been, and after breakfast she loitered about in idleness, with a look of dark disapproval, until papa suddenly faced about and held her before him by her two shoulders, looking gravely into her eyes, which fell at once.
"Don't be cross, Betty," he said quietly; "we shall play all the better if we don't forget our work. What is there to do first? Where's 'Things to be done'?"
Betty dipped into her pocket and pulled out a bit of paper with the above heading, and held it up to him. Papa's eyes began to twinkle and she felt her cheeks grow red, but good humor was restored. "1. Ask Seth to sharpen my knife. 2. Find Aunt Mary's old 'Evenings at Home' and read her the Transmigrations of Indur. 3. Find out what 'hedonism' means in the dictionary. 4. Sew on papa's buttons."
"Those were all the things I could think of last night," explained Betty apologetically, "I was so sleepy."
"It strikes me that the most important duty happened to be set down last," said Mr. Leicester, beginning to laugh. "If you will look after the buttons, I will tell you the meaning of 'hedonism' and sharpen the jack-knife, and I am not sure that I won't read the Transmigrations to Aunt Mary beside, for the sake of old times. I know where those little old brown books are, too, unless they have been moved from their old places. I am willing to make a good offer, for I have hardly a button to my back, you know. And this evening we will have a row, if not a sail. The sky looks as if the wind were rising, and you can ask Mary Beck to go with us to-morrow down the river, if you like. I am going to see young Foster the first time I go down the street. Now good-by until dinner-time, dear child."
"Good-by, dear papa!" and Betty ran upstairs two steps at a time. She had already looked to see if there were plenty of ink in his ink-bottle, and some water in a tiny vase on his writing-table for the quill pens. It was almost the only thing she had done that morning, but it was one of her special cares when they were together. She gathered an armful of his clothes, and finding that Aunt Mary was in a hospitable frame went into her room for advice and society, and sat busily sewing by the favorite cool western window nearly all the morning.
In the evening, when the tide was high, Betty and Mr. Leicester went out for a little row by themselves, floating under some over-hanging oak-boughs and talking about things that had happened when they were apart.
Now we come back to where we began this chapter, - the early morning of the next day, and Serena's and Letty's bustling in the pantry to have a basket of luncheon ready, so that the boating party need not lose the tide; the boating party itself at breakfast in the dining room; Mary Beck in a transport of delight sitting by her window at the other side of the street, all ready to rush out the minute she saw Betty appear. As for Harry Foster and Seth, they had already gone down to the shore.
On the wide sofa in the hall was a funny old-fashioned leather satchel with a strong strap- handle. It seemed full to overflowing, and beside it lay a warm shawl neatly folded, and, not to make too long a story, Aunt Barbara's third-best bonnet was close at hand, and these were her provisions for spending the day on the river. Mr. Leicester had insisted that she should go with them, and that if she found it tiresome there was nothing to prevent her coming back by train from Riverport in the afternoon. Aunt Barbara felt as if she were being a little adventurous, and packed her small portmanteau with a secret foreboding that she might be kept out over night; still she had always been very fond of boating, and had seen almost none of it for many years, in fact since Betty's father had been at home sometimes, in his college vacations. There was a fine breeze blowing already in the elms and making the tall hollyhocks bow in the garden, and when they reached the wharf and put down the creaking wicker basket on the very edge the tide was still high, and Harry Foster had already hoisted the Starlight's sail with one careful reef in it, and was waiting to row them out two at a time in the tag-boat. Nelly Foster could not go, as she and her mother were very busy that day, but Harry's face looked brighter than Betty had ever seen it, and she was sure that papa must have been very good, and, to use a favorite phrase of his, opened a new gate for him. Mary Beck was strangely full of fears, considering that she was the granddaughter of a brave old sailor; but after she was out of the unsteady smaller boat, and had been decoyed by Betty to the bows of the Starlight, and shown how to stow herself away so that she hindered neither jib nor boom, she began to enjoy herself highly. Aunt Barbara sat under her every-day parasol, looking quite elegant and unseaworthy but very happy. Harry Foster was steering just beside her, and Mr. Leicester, with Seth's assistance, was shaking out the reef; for the wind was quieter just now, and they wished to get farther down river as soon as possible, since here, where the banks were often high and wooded and the stream narrow, it was gusty and uncertain sailing for so large a boat. They slipped down fast with the wind and tide, and passed the packet, which had started out ahead of them. She carried an unusual number of passengers, and was loaded deep with early potatoes. The girls waved their handkerchiefs and the men on board the packet gave a cheer, while Mr. Leicester saluted with the Starlight's flag, and it was altogether a ceremonious occasion. Seth said that he "guessed folks would think old Tideshead was waking up." Of all the pleasure-boat's company Seth was perhaps the best satisfied. He had been in a state of torture lest he might not be asked to make one of the crew, and it being, divulged that although of up-country origin he had once gone to the Georges Banks fishing with a seafaring uncle, Mr. Leicester considerately asked for his services. Seth had put on the great rubber-boots and a heavy red woolen shirt that he wore on shipboard in March weather. He was already obliged to fan himself incessantly with his straw hat, as they were running before the wind, and presently, after much suffering, made an excuse to go into the little cabin, whence he reappeared, much abashed, in his stocking feet and a faded calico shirt, which had been luckily put on under the red one. Aunt Barbara held her parasol so that it covered her face for a few minutes, and there was a considerate silence, until Seth mentioned that he "had thought he knew before what it was to be het up, but you never knew what kind of weather 't was to be on the water."
At the next bend of the river the wind made them much cooler, while the boat sailed even better than before. There had been plenty of rain, so that the shore was as green as in June and the old farm-houses looked very pleasant. Betty had not been so far down as this since the day she came to Tideshead, and was looking eagerly for certain places that she remembered. Aunt Barbara and papa were talking about John Paul Jones and his famous river crew, some of whom Aunt Barbara had known in their old age, while she was a girl. Harry Foster was listening with great interest. Betty and even Becky felt proud of Harry as he steered, looking along the river with quick, sure eyes. They did not feel so familiar with him as usual; somehow, he looked a good deal older since the trouble about his father, and there was a new manliness and dignity about him, as if he knew that his mother and Nelly had no one but himself to depend upon. It was plain to see that his early burden of shame and sorrow had developed a strong character in the lad. There was none of the listlessness and awkward incapacity and self-admiration that made some of the other Tideshead boys so unattractive, but Harry Foster had a simple way of speaking and of doing whatever had to be done.
There was a group of wooden pails on the boat, and a queer apparatus for dredging which Mr. Leicester had made the afternoon before with Seth's and Jonathan's help. They had implored a flat-iron from Serena for one of the weights, and she had also contributed a tin pail, which was curiously weighted also with small pieces of iron, so that it would sink in a particular way. It was believed that a certain uncommon little creature would be found in the flats farther down the river, and Mr. Leicester told the ship's company certain interesting facts about its life and behavior which made everybody eager to join the search. "I have been meaning to hunt for it for years," he said. "Professor Agassiz told me about it when I was in college, but then he always roused one's enthusiasm as no one else could, and made whatever he was interested in seem the one thing in the world that was of very first importance." Betty's heart glowed as she listened; she thought the same thing of papa. "He was such an inspirer of others to do good work," said Mr. Leicester, still thinking lovingly of his great teacher.
Sometimes the river was narrow and deep and the Starlight's course lay near the shore, so that the children came running down to the water's edge to see the pretty boat go by, and envy Betty and Mary Beck in the shadow of her great white sail. Some of them shouted Hollo! and the two girls answered again and again, until the little voices sounded small and piping and were lost in the distance. Halfway to Riverport, where the houses were a good way from any village, it seemed as if these old homes had remained the same for many years; none of them had bay-windows, and the paint was worn away by wind and weather. It was like stepping back twenty or thirty years in the rural history. Aunt Barbara said that everything looked almost exactly the same along one reach of the river as it did when she could first remember it. The shores were green with pines and ferns and gray with ledges. It was salt water here, so that they could smell the seaweed and the woods, and could hear the song-sparrows and the children's voices as they passed the lonely farm-houses standing high and fog-free above the water. From one of these they heard the sound of women's voices singing.
"They're havin' a meetin' in there, I expect," explained Seth. "Yes, I hear 'Liza Loomis's voice too. You know, Miss Leicester, she used to live up to Tideshead and sing in the Methodist choir. She's got a lovely voice to sing. She's married down this way. They like to git together in these scattered places, but 't is more customary up where I come from to have them neighborhood meetin's of an afternoon." Betty watched the small gray house with sleep interest, and thought she should like to go in. There were little children playing about the door, as if they had been brought and left outside to amuse themselves. It was very touching to hear the old hymn as they sailed by, and Aunt Barbara and Betty's father looked at each other significantly as they listened. "Becky, you ought to be there to help sing," Betty whispered, as they sat side by side, but Becky thought it was very stupid to be having a prayer-meeting that lovely morning.
Seth Pond had celebrated the Fourth of July by going down to Riverport on the packet, and he had gathered much information about the river which he was glad to give now for everybody's pleasure and enlightenment.
"There's a bo't layin' up in that cove that's drowned two men," he said solemnly. "There was a lady with 'em, but she was saved. I understand they'd been drinking heavy."
Betty looked at the boat with awe where it lay with the stern under water and the bows ashore and all warped apart. "Isn't she good for anything?" she asked.
"Nobody'll ever touch her," said Seth contemptuously, - "she's drowned two men."
But Miss Leicester smiled, and said that it appeared to have been their own fault.
They could see into the low ruined cabin from the deck of the Starlight, and, after they passed, the cabin port-hole seemed to watch them like an eye until it was far astern.
"I suppose she will lie there until she breaks up in a high tide, and then the women will gather her wreck wood to burn," said Mr. Leicester, watching the warped mast; and Harry Foster said that no fishermen on the river would ever touch a boat that they believed to be unlucky. Just then they came round apoint and passed a little house close by the water, where there were flakes for drying fish and a collection of little weather-beaten boxes shaped like roofs which were used to cover the fish in wet weather. Betty thought they looked like a village of baby-houses. At this moment a woman darted out of the house door, screaming to some one inside, "I've lost Georgie and Idy both!" and off the anxious mother hurried along the steep path to the fish flakes, as if that were where she usually found the runaways. Presently they heard a child's shrill voice, and a pink pinafore emerged from among the little roofs. Ida was deposited angrily in the lane, while the mother went back to hunt for the other one. It was very droll to see and hear it all from the river, but it was some minutes before loud shrieks announced the adventurous Georgie's capture.
"Georgie must ha' been hull down on the horizon," remarked Seth blandly, trying to be very nautical, and everybody laughed; but Betty and Mary thought the woman very cross, when it was such a pretty place to play out there among the bayberry, and perhaps there were ripe blackberries. Harry Foster said that children did mischief in pulling off bits of the dry fish and spoiling them for market; but there was no end of fish, and everybody felt a sympathy for "Idy and Georgie both" in their sad captivity.
Before long the houses were nearer together, and even clustered in little groups close by the river, and sometimes the Starlight passed some schooners going up or down, or being laden with bricks or hay or firewood at small wharves. Then they came in sight of the Riverport steeples, only a few miles below. The wind was not so gusty now and blew steadily, but it was very light, and the Starlight moved slowly. Harry and Seth had already hoisted a topsail, and while Mr. Leicester steered Harry came and stood by the masts, looking out ahead and talking with the two girls. But Harry felt responsible for the boat, and could not give himself up to pleasuring until, as he said, he understood the tricks and manners of the Starlight a little better. It was toward noon, now, for they had come slowly the last third of the way; and Mr. Leicester, after a word with Aunt Barbara, proposed that they should go ashore for a while, for there was a beautiful piece of pine woods close at hand, and the flats which he was going to investigate were also within rowing distance. So down came the sails and alongside came the tag-boat; and Aunt Barbara was landed first, parasol and all, and the others followed her. The tide was running out fast, and it was not easy to find a landing-place along the muddy shores. Betty thought the Starlight looked much smaller from the shore than she seemed when they were on board Harry and Seth made everything trig and came in last, leaving the cat-boat at anchor far out.
Even after the joy of sailing it was very pleasant ashore under the shady pines, and Mr. Leicester found a delightfully comfortable place for Aunt Barbara to sit in, while the girls were near by. "What an interesting morning we have had!" Betty heard Aunt Barbara say. "Sailing down the river brings to mind so many things in the past. The beginnings of history in this part of the country always have to do with the river. I wish that I could remember all the stories of the early settlements that I used to hear old people tell in my childhood."
"See that little green farm in the middle of the sunburnt pastures across the river," said Mr. Leicester, who had been looking that way intently. "Look, Betty! what a small green spot it makes with its orchard and fields among the woods and brown pastures, and yet what toil has been spent there year after year!"
Betty looked with great interest. She had seen the green farm, but she had not thought about it, and neither had Mary Beck, who could not tell why she kept looking that way again and again, and somehow could not help thinking how good it would be to make a green place like that by one's own life among dull and difficult surroundings. Betty was her green place; by and by she could do the same thing for somebody else, perhaps.
"What a lovely place this is!" said Aunt Barbara, still enthusiastic. "There is such sweet air here among the pines, and I delight in the wide outlook over the river. I begin to feel as young as ever. I thought that I was almost too old to enjoy myself any more, last winter. It is such a mistake to let one's self make great things out of little ones, as I did, and carry life too heavily," she added.
"You must feel ever so much older inside than you look outside," said Betty, who was in famous spirits.
Mr. Leicester laughed with the rest, and then looked over his shoulder with a droll expression, as if something was causing him great apprehension. "Aunt Barbara!" he began, and then hid his face with his arm, as if he were about to be well whipped.
"What mischief now?" said she.
"I have played you a trick: you are not leaving your home and friends for one day, but for two."
Miss Leicester looked puzzled.
"You were very good not to say that I was foolish to carry two extra sails."
"I did think it was nonsense, Tom," he was promptly assured, "but then I remembered that you had only hired the boat, and thought perhaps the sails went with it. Of course they take up too much room in the cabin. You can't mean that you are going on a longer voyage?"
"Tents!" shouted Betty jumping up and dancing about in great excitement. "Tents! don't you see, Aunt Barbara? and we're going to camp out." It was a very anxious moment, for if Aunt Barbara said, "We must go home to-night," there would be nothing to do but obey.
"But your Aunt Mary will be worried, won't she?" asked Miss Leicester, whose quick wit suspected a deep-laid plot. She was already filled with a spirit of adventure; she really looked pleased, but was not without a sense of responsibility.
"I thought you would like it," explained Mr. Leicester, in a matter-of-fact way; "and there was no need of telling you beforehand, so that you would make your will and pay your taxes and get in all the winter supplies and have the minister to tea before you started. Aunt Mary knows, and so does Serena; you will see that Serena contemplated the situation by the way she filled these big baskets."
"I saw that they were amused with something that I didn't quite understand. And Mary Beck's mother will not feel anxious?" she asked, for a final assurance. "I never expected to turn myself into a wild Indian at my age, even to please foolish children like you and Betty, but I have always wished that I could sleep one night under the pine woods."
"You said so when we were reading Mr. Stevenson's 'Travels with a Donkey' aloud to Aunt Mary," Betty stated eagerly, as if the others would find it hard to believe her grand-aunt. Somehow, a stranger would have found it difficult to believe that Miss Leicester had unsatisfied desires about gypsying.
Mary Beck was deeply astonished; she had a huge admiration for her dignified neighbor across the way, and yet it was always a little perilous to her ease of mind and self-possession to find herself in Miss Leicester's company. Many a time, in the days before Betty came to Tideshead, she had walked to and fro before the old house hoping to be spoken to or called in for a visit, and yet was too shy to properly answer a kind good-morning when they met. Aunt Barbara used to think that Becky was a dull girl, but they were already better friends. It took a long time to rouse Becky's enthusiasm, but when roused it burned with steady flame. To think that she should be camping out with Miss Leicester!
But Mr. Leicester and Betty and Becky were soon at work making their camp, and the novices took their first lesson in woodcraft. The young men, Harry Foster: and Seth, came ashore bringing the tender loaded deep with tents and blankets, some of them from Jonathan's carefully kept chests in the carriage-house, and Miss Leicester wondered again how anybody had contrived to get so many things from the house to the boat without her knowledge. There were two sharp hatchets, and presently Seth and Harry were dispatched to gather some dry wood for the fire, though until near evening the tents need not be put up nor the last arrangements made for sleeping. By and by everybody could help either to cut or carry hemlock and spruce boughs for the beds.
Betty helped her father to roll some stones together for a fireplace just at the edge of the river beach, and pleased him very much by rolling a heavy one up to the top of the heap on a piece of board which had washed ashore, just as she had seen farmers do in building a stone wall. Mary Beck, in a trepidation of delight, was helping Miss Barbara Leicester unpack the baskets, to see what would be eaten for dinner and what should be kept for future meals, when Mr. Leicester called them.
"Aunt Barbara," he proclaimed, "I am not going to let you keep tent; you only know how to keep house; and beside, you mustn't do what you always do at home. Let the girls manage dinner and you come with me, now that the fire is started. I have thought of an errand."
Miss Leicester meekly obeyed; she was ready for anything, having once cast off, as she said, all obligation to society, and with a few parting charges to Betty about the provisions she disappeared among the pines with her nephew.
"Isn't it fun?" said Mary Beck, and she put on such a comical face when Betty sedately quoted,
"What is that, mother?"
"A lark, my child,"
that Betty fell into a fit of laughter, and Becky caught it, and they were gasping for breath before they could stop. "Oh, think of Aunt Barbara camping out and setting herself up for a gypsy!" said Betty. "This is just the way papa does now and then. I always told you so, didn't I? - only you never know when to watch for his tricks. He doesn't always catch me like this, I can tell you. Think of Aunt Barbara! I hope the dear thing will pass a good night, she isn't bit older than we are in her dear heart. How will she ever have the face to walk into church so grandly Sunday morning!" and so the merry girls chattered on, while they spread the cloth and Betty put a decoration of leaves round the edge and a handful of flowers in the middle. "You have such a way of prettifying things," said Mary Beck; "there, the chocolate pot is beginning to boil already."
"We ought to have some fresh water; it is time papa came back," said Betty anxiously; and just then appeared papa and smiling Aunt Barbara, and a small tin pail which had to be borrowed at a farm-house half a mile away because it was forgotten.
The wind blew cool across the river, and more and more boats went gliding up and down in the channel, though the tide was very low. Everybody was hungrier than ever, because the sea wind is famous for helping on an appetite, and the hot chocolate was none too hot after all, though Aunt Barbara's bonnet was hanging on a branch and she did not seem to miss the shelter of it. Becky was forced to change her opinion about cooking; she had always disliked to have anything to do with it; it seemed to her a thing to be ignored and concealed in polite society, and yet Betty was openly proud of having had a few cooking-school lessons, and of knowing the right way to do things. Becky suddenly began to parade her own knowledge, and found herself of great use to the party. Instead of being unwilling when her mother asked for help again, she meant to learn a great many more things. She was overjoyed when she found a tin box of coffee, and remembered that Betty had said it was her father's chief delight. She would make a good cup for him in the morning. Betty was always saying how nice it was to know how to do things. She never expected to like to wash dinner dishes, but the time had come, though a hot sun was somehow pleasanter than a hot stove, and it had been a gypsy dinner, with potatoes in the ashes and buns toasted on a hot stone, and no end of good things beside.
"We must have some oysters to roast for our supper. I know a place just below here where they are very salt and good," said Mr. Leicester; "and one of you young men might go fishing, and bring us in a string of flounders, or anything you can get. We have breakfast to look out for, you remember."
"Ay, ay, sir," said Harry Foster, sailor fashion, but with uncommon heartiness. Harry had been very quiet and care-taking on the boat, and had not said much, either, since he came ashore, but his eyes had been growing brighter, and as Miss Leicester looked up at him she was touched at the change in his face. How boyish and almost gay he was again! She caught his eye, and gave him a kind reassuring little nod, as if nobody could be more pleased to have him happy than herself.
The Starlight was now aground in the bright green river grass and the flats were bare for a long distance beyond, so that there was no more boating for the present. There were plenty of comfortable hollows to rest in farther back on the soft carpet under the pines, and so the dining-room nearer the shore was abandoned and the provisions cachéd, as Mr. Leicester called it, under an oak-tree. Certain things had been forgotten, but just round the point the steeples of Riverport were in full view; and when everybody had rested enough and the tide was creeping in, Mr. Leicester first sent Harry out in the small boat and his long-legged fishing-boots to get two buckets of river mud, and after he had seated himself beside them with his magnifying glasses and a paraphernalia of tools familiar to Betty, Harry was given orders to take Seth Pond and the two girls and go down to Riverport shopping, as soon as the Starlight floated again.
Harry was hovering over the scientific enterprise and looked sorry for a minute, but it seemed to the girls as if the tide had stopped rising. At last they got on board by going down the shore a little way to be taken off the sooner from some rock. Aunt Barbara announced that she meant to go too; indeed, she was not tired; what had there been to tire her? So off they all went, and left Mr. Leicester to his investigations. It took some time to go to Riverport, for the wind was light and the tide against them. Everybody, and Betty in particular, thought it great fun to make fast to the wharf and go ashore up into the town shopping. Aunt Barbara gayly stepped off first, to see an old friend who lived a little way above the business part of the town, and asked to be called for, as they went back, at the friend's river gate. Harry knew it? - the high house with the lookout on top and the gate at the garden-foot. Betty went first to find her early friend, the woman who kept the bake-house, and was recognized at once and provided with fresh buns and crisp molasses cookies which had hardly cooled. Then Betty and Becky walked about the narrow streets for an hour, enjoying themselves highly and collecting ship's stores at two or three fruit shops; also laying in a good store of chocolate, which Betty proclaimed to be very nourishing. She got two pots of her favorite orange marmalade too, in case they made toast for supper.
"All the old ladies are looking out of their windows, just as they were the day I was coming to Tideshead," she said; and Becky replied that their faces were always at just the same pane of glass. The fences were very high and had their tops cut in points, and over them here and there drooped the heavy bough of a fruit-tree or a long tendril of grapevine, as if there were delightful gardens inside. The sidewalks were very narrow underneath these fences, so that Betty often walked in the street to be alongside her companion. There were pretty old knockers on the front doors, and sometimes a parrot hung out under the porch, and shouted saucily at the passers-by. Riverport was a delightful old town. Betty was sure that if she did not love Tideshead best she should like to belong in Riverport, and have a garden with a river gate, and a great square house of three stories and a lookout on top.
The stores were put on board, and Seth Pond came back from researches which had been rewarded by a half-bushel basket full of clams. Then they swung out into the stream again, and ever so many little boys with four grown men on the wharf gave them a cheer. It was great fun stopping for Aunt Barbara, who was in the garden watching for them, and was escorted by a charming white-haired old gentleman who teased her a little upon her youthful escapade, and a younger lady who walked sedately under an antique Chinese parasol. Betty sprang ashore to greet this latter personage, who had lately paid a visit to Miss Barbara at Tideshead. She was fond of Miss Marcia Drummond.
"It seems like old times to have you going home by boat," said Miss Marcia, kissing Aunt Barbara good-by. "It is much pleasanter than a car journey. Betty, my dear, you know that your aunt is a very rash and heedless person; I hope you will hold her in check. I have been trying to persuade her that she will be much safer to-night in one of our old four-posters;" and so they said good-by merrily and were off again, while the young people in the boat looked back as long as they could see the old garden with its hollyhocks and lilies, and the two figures of the courtly old gentleman and the lady with the parasol going up the broad walk.
"What a good thing it was in Tom Leicester to send his daughter to Tideshead this summer!" said the old gentleman. "I think that Barbara is renewing her youth. Tom is a man of distinction, and yet keeps to his queer wild ways. You are sure that Barbara quite understands about our wishing them to dine here? I think this camping business is positively foolish conduct in a person of her age."
But Miss Marcia Drummond looked wistfully over her shoulder at the cat-boat's lessening sail, and wished that she too were going to spend a night under the pines.
A little way up the river they passed the packet boat, a little belated and heavily laden, but moving steadily.
"Look at old Step-an'-fetch-it," said Seth. "She spears all the little winds with that peakéd sail o' hern. Ain't one on 'em can git by her." They kept company for a while, until in the broad river bay above Riverport bridge the Starlight skimmed far ahead, like a great white moth. Seth mentioned that folks would think they was settin' up a navy up to Tideshead, and just then the Starlight yawed, and the boom threw Seth off his balance and nearly overboard, as much to his own amusement as the rest of the ship's company's. Betty and Mary Beck stowed themselves away before the mast, and wished that the sail were longer. The sun was low, and the light made the river and the green shores look most beautiful. Miss Leicester suggested that they should sail a, little farther before going in, and so they went as far as the next reach, a mile above the camp, on the accommodating west wind. It was a last puff before sundown, and by the time Harry had anchored the Starlight in deeper water than before, her sail drooped in the perfectly still evening air.
Once on shore everybody was busy; the spruce and hemlock boughs must be arranged carefully for the beds and the tents pitched over them before the August dew began to fall.
Mr. Leicester was chief of this part of camp duty, and Miss Barbara, who seemed to enjoy herself more every moment, was allowed by the girls to help, just that once, about getting supper. It was growing cool and the fire was not unwelcome, but by and by a gentle wind began to blow and kept away the midges. Betty began to think that there would be nothing left for breakfast by the time supper was half through, but she managed to secrete part of her cherished buns, and reflected that it would be easy to send to Riverport for further supplies even if breakfast were a little late. Betty felt a certain care and responsibility over the whole expedition, it was so delightful to be looking after papa again; and she was obliged to tell him that he must not touch the river mud any more, or he would not be fit to go through the streets of Riverport next day, at which Mr. Leicester, though deeply attached to his old friends in that town, looked very distressed and unwilling.
The darkness fell fast, and the supper dishes had to be put under some bayberry bushes until morning. The salt air was very sweet and fresh, and it was just warm enough and just cool enough, as Betty said. The stars were bright; in fact, the last few days had been much more like June than August, and it was what English people call Queen's weather. Mary Beck said sagely that it must be because Miss Leicester came, and then was quite ashamed, dear little soul, not understanding that nothing is so pleasant to an older woman as to find herself interesting and companionable to a girl. People do not always grow away from their youth; they add to it experiences and traits of different sorts; and it is easy sometimes to throw off all these, and find the boy or the girl again, eager and fresh and ready for simple pleasures, and to make new beginnings.
Seth Pond had stolen out to the cat-boat on some errand of his own which nobody questioned, and now there suddenly resounded the surprising notes of his violin. It was very pretty to hear his familiar old tunes over the water, and everybody respected Seth's amiable desire to afford entertainment, even if he failed a little now and then in time or tone. He had mastered several old Scottish and English airs in the book Betty had given him, and already had become proficient in some lively jigs and dancing tunes, as we knew at the time of Betty's first party in the garden. The clumsy fellow had a real gift for music. Some stray fairy must have passed his way and left an unexpected gift. The little audience on the shore were ready to applaud, and two or three boats came near, while some young people in one began to sing "Bonny Doon," softly, while Seth played, and, encouraged by the applause, went on more boldly, and took up the strain again when Seth changed suddenly to "Lochaber no more." Miss Leicester was overjoyed when she heard such fresh young voices sing the plaintive old air so readily. It had always been a great favorite of hers, and she said so with enthusiasm. Mary Beck was sorry that she never had learned it, but by the time the last verse came she began to join in as best she could.
"I'll bring thee a heart with love running o'er,
And then I'll leave thee and Lochaber no more,"
the words ended. Nobody who heard it that summer night in the starlight by the river shore would ever forget the old song.
"You must have influenced Seth's choice of music," Betty's father said to Aunt Barbara, who confessed that the droning of the violin over cheap music was more than she could bear at first, and she had been compelled to suggest something in the place of "The Sweet By-and-By" and "Golden Slippers." Luckily, Seth seemed to abandon these without regret.
At last the boats all disappeared into the darkness, and the little camp was made ready for night. The open air made every one sleepy but Miss Barbara, who consoled herself by thinking that if she did not sleep it would be little matter; she had been awake many a night in her life and felt none the worse. But in fact the sound of rippling water against the bank and the sea-like sound of the pine boughs overhead sent her to sleep before she had half time to properly enjoy them. She and Betty declared that their thick-set evergreen boughs and warm blankets made the best of beds. They could see the stars through the open end of the tent. One was so bright that it let fall a slender golden track of light on the river. Mary Beck thought that she had never been so happy. Camping-out had always been such a far-off thing, and belonged to summer tourists and the remote unsettled parts of country; but here she was, close to her own home, with all the delights of gypsy life suddenly made her own. Betty and Betty's friends had such a way of enjoying every-day things. Becky was learning to be happy in simple ways she never had before. She went to sleep too, and the stars shone on, and late in the night the waning moon came up, strange and red; then the dawn came creeping into the morning sky, and one wild creature after another, in the crevices of rocks or branches of trees, waked and went its ways silently or gay with song.
When Betty's eyes first opened she could not remember where she was, for a moment. Then she was filled with a sense of great contentment, and lay still, looking out through the open end of the tent across the wide still river down which some birds were flying seaward. It was most beautiful in that early morning of a new day, and from beyond the water on the opposite shore came the far sweet sound of a woman's voice singing as she worked, as if a long-looked-for day had come and held great joy for her. She was singing just as the birds sing, and Betty tried to fancy how she looked as she went to and fro so busily in one of the farm-houses.
Aunt Barbara did not wake until after Betty, which was a great joy, and there was a peal of delighted laughter from the girls when she waked and found their bright young eyes watching her. She complained of nothing, except a moment of fright when she saw her own bonnet at the top of a lopped fir which had been stuck into the ground at the foot of the bed, to hang her raiment on. Her wrap had been put neatly round the tree's shoulders by Betty, so that it looked like a queer sort of skeleton creature with every sort of garment on its sharp pegs of bones. Nobody had taken the least bit of cold, and everybody was as cheerful as possible, and so the day began. Seth Pond had trudged off to get some milk at one of the farm-houses, and had lighted a fire before he went and covered it with bits of dry turf, which served to keep it in as well as peat. Mr. Leicester complained that he had found the tent too warm, and so had rolled himself in his blanket and spent the night in the open air. Evidently he and Harry Foster had been awake some time, and they were having a famous talk about one of the treasured creatures in the muddy wooden pail. Harry had managed to learn a great deal by spending an hour now and then in a famous old library in Riverport, in which Miss Leicester had given him the use of her share; and Betty knew that her father was delighted and surprised with the young man's interest in his own favorite studies. She had felt sure all summer that papa would know just how to help Harry Foster on, and as she watched them she could not help thinking that she wished Harry were her brother. But then she would no longer have entire right to papa.
"Come, Elizabeth Leicester!" said papa, in high spirits. "I never had such a dilatory damsel to make my first tent breakfast!" So Betty hastened, and poked the fire nearly to death in her desire for promptness with the morning meal. After it was over Miss Leicester sat in the shade with a book, while all the rest went fishing and took a long sail seaward beside.
That evening they went home with the tide, in great delight, every one. Aunt Barbara was unduly proud of her exploits and a sunburnt nose, and the younger members of the party were a little subdued from their first enthusiasm by all sorts of exciting pleasures. As for Harry Foster, the lad felt as if a door had been kindly opened in the solid wall of hindrance which had closed about him, and as if he could look through now into a new life.
Betty and her father in the garden, from "A Bit of Color";
see note at the end of Chapter 1 for details.
NOTES FOR CHAPTER XVI. DOWN THE RIVER
'Evenings at Home' and read her the Transmigrations of Indur: The Transmigrations of Indur, an Indian Brachman Through the Bodies of an Antelope, Wild Goose, Dormouse, Elephant, Whale, Bee, Rabbit, Mastiff, and His Return to the Human Form had been a popular children's story since at least the 1790s when John Aiken and Anna L. Barbauld included it in their multi-volume selection of reading for children, Evenings At Home; Or the Juvenile Budget Opened: Consisting of a Variety of Miscellaneous Pieces, For the Instruction and Amusement of Young Persons. This collection went through multiple editions in the nineteenth century.
[ Back ]
Georges Banks: A productive area for fishing in the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
[ Back ]
John Paul Jones and his famous river crew: In "The Old Town of Berwick," Jewett says, "This region bore its part in all the wars with generosity and bravery. The famous crew of John Paul Jones and the "Ranger" was mainly gathered from the shores of the river. One of the last of his sailors was, in his extreme old age, my father's patient." See also, "River Driftwood" in Country By-Ways.
[ Back ]
Professor Agassiz: The Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia says: "One of the most influential scientists of the 19th century, the Swiss-born American naturalist Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz, b. May 28, 1807, d. Dec. 14, 1873, did pioneering work on fossil fish and was the originator of the concept of ice ages." Agassiz went to the United States in 1846 and became a professor at Harvard University.
[ Back ]
song-sparrow: "A common North American song-bird of the genus Melospiza, esp. M. fasciata (or melodia) and cinerea." (Source: Oxford English Dictionary).
[ Back ]
flakes for drying fish: a light rack or platform such as for holding fish up to dry.
[ Back ]
hull down on the horizon: A ship that is visible over the horizons only by its sails.
Seatalk Nautical Dictionary: http://www.seatalk.info/cgi-bin/nautical-marine-sailing-dictionary/db.cgi?db=db&view_records=1&uid=default&Term=hull+down&submit=Look+it+up!
[ Back ]
bayberry: a short, thick wild bush which grows along the coast in New England; the wax from its berries is used to make scented candles; represents `instruction' in the nineteenth-century language of flowers. (Research: Ted Eden).
[ Back ]
Mr. Stevenson's 'Travels with a Donkey': English writer, Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) published Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes in 1879.
[ Back ]
"What is that, mother?": This is from Bishop George W. Doane (1799 – 1859), What is That, Mother?” The often reprinted poem/hymn offers the behavior of four birds (lark, swan, dove, eagle) as models for a son: keep prayer close, be sweet to your dying breath, cherish love, and be brave. The Library of Congress holds a score from 1845: http://www.loc.gov/item/sm1845.400950.
[ Back ]
Step-an'-fetch-it: The Oxford English Dictionary offers examples of this term beginning in 1940, and refers to the famous African American vaudeville performer and film actor, Lincoln Theodore Perry (1902–85), who adapted this phrase as his stage name. Jewett could not be referring to him, and the phrase as it appears here seems to make no reference to African American stereotypes, but only to the activities of a boat being enterprising in catching the wind and doing its work.
[ Back ]
midges: very small gnats.
[ Back ]
"Lochaber no more":"Farewell to Lochaber," with words by Allan Ramsay (1686-1747), was first published in The Tea-Table Miscellany (1724). The song begins.Farewell to Lochaber, farewell to my Jean,Research: Patricia Rattray
Where heartsome wi' thee.. I ha'e mony days been;
For Lochaber no more, Lochaber no more,
We'll may be return to Lochaber no more.
These tears that I shed, they are a' for my dear,
And no for the dangers attending on weir,
Tho' borne on rough seas to a far distant shore,
Maybe to return to Lochaber no more.
[ Back ]
"The Sweet By-and-By" and "Golden Slippers": "In the Sweet By-and-By" (1868) is a hymn by Joseph P. Webster (1819-1875), with music by Sandford F. Bennett. This hymn begins:There's a land that is fairer than day,According to the Library of Congress's "Music for the Nation" web site, "James A. Bland's song "Oh, Dem Golden Slippers" started its life in 1879 as a minstrel parody of a spiritual sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers. That spiritual ran: "What kind of shoes you going to wear? Golden slippers! Golden slippers I'm bound to wear, That outshine the sun." (The Fisk song was not published until 1880; it was then described as "one of the most popular songs of the "Jubilee Singers"; it had presumably been performed for some time before it was published.) Bland's song soon outstripped the Fisk song in popularity; by now people tend to think of "Oh, Dem Golden Slippers" as the original and the Fisk spiritual as some kind of variant. It is, in fact, somewhat disconcerting to hear "Oh, Dem Golden Slippers" as first published, with its mocking piano part and its silly verse proclaiming it a parody, since it has been taken seriously for so long. James A. Bland (1854-1919) published most of his songs in a burst of creativity from 1878 to 1881. In 1881 he left America for Europe with Haverly's Genuine Colored Minstrels, and stayed in Europe when the troupe returned. Perhaps he continued to write songs after 1881; if so, very few were published, and were after the period of this online collection."
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way,
To prepare us a dwelling place there.
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
In the sweet by and by
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.
The song as usually performed begins:Oh, my golden slippers am laid away, Kase I don't 'spect to wear 'em till my weddin' day,Research Assistance: Patricia Rattray; source http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/smhtml/audiodir.html.
And my long-tail'd coat, dat I loved so well, I will wear up in de chariot in de morn;
And my long white robe dat I bought last June, I'm 'gwine to git changed Kase it fits too soon,
And de ole grey hoss dat I used to drive, I will hitch him to de chariot in de morn.
Oh, dem golden slippers! Oh, dem golden slippers!
Golden slippers I'm gwine to wear, becase dey look so neat;
Oh, dem golden slippers! Oh, dem golden slippers!
Golden slippers Ise gwine to wear, To walk de golden street.
[ Back ]
use of her share: Miss Leicester has invested in a Riverport library in exchange for lending privileges.
[ Back ]
Miss Leicester and her nephew, Betty's father, were sitting together in the library. Betty had gone to bed. It was her last night in Tideshead, and the summer which had been so long to look forward to was spent and gone. She had felt very sorry before she went to sleep, and thought of many things which might have been better, but after all one could not help being very rich and happy with so many pleasures to remember. When she thought how many new friends she had made, and how dear all the old ones had been, and that she had become very friendly even with Mrs. Beck, it was a great satisfaction. And now in less than a fortnight she was to be with Ada and Bessie Duncan and their delightful mother in London again. She certainly had a great deal to look forward to; still there was a wistful feeling in her heart at leaving Tideshead.
There had been a fire in the library fireplace, for the evening was cool, and papa and Aunt Barbara sat opposite each other. Papa was smoking, as he always did before he went to bed; and happily Miss Leicester liked the odor of tobacco, so that they were comfortable together. They were talking most affectionately about Betty.
"I think you have done wonderfully with her, Tom," said the aunt. "Nobody knows how anxious your Aunt Mary and I have felt at the thought of your carrying her hither and yon, and spoiling her because she couldn't settle down to regular habits of life."
"The only way is not to let one's habits become irregular," answered Betty's papa. "I found out long ago that I could have my hours for work and for exercise, and could go on with my reading as well in one place as in another. I have tried not to let Betty see too many people in town life, yet pretty soon she will be sixteen. She has always seemed to look at life from a child's point of view until last spring. I don't mean that she doesn't still have many days when she only considers the world's relation to herself; but on the whole she begins to be very serious about her own relation to the world, and is constantly made to think more of what she can give than of what she can get. This is a very trying season in many ways, the first really hard time that comes into a boy's or a girl's life."
"Yes, and one is constantly learning those lessons in one way and another during all the rest of one's life," sighed Aunt Barbara. Then her face lighted up, and she added, "Just in proportion as she thinks that she does things for other people she is making steps upward for herself."
"I always think that Betty looks like Bewick's picture of the robin redbreast; you remember it? There is an expression to its little beak which always reminds me of my girl."
Aunt Barbara was much amused, but confessed that she remembered it, and that Betty and the bird really resemble each other. "I think there is a very good print of it in the large White's 'Selborne' which you sent me," she said, going to one of the bookshelves and taking it down. "Yes, they are certainly like one another," she repeated. "You see that this copy has been used? I lent it for a long time to my young neighbor, Henry Foster."
"I am very much interested in that lad!" exclaimed Mr. Leicester. "I don't know that among all the students I can remember I have seen one who strikes me as being so intent and so really promising. Betty has written about him, but I imagined that he interested her because he had a boat and could take her out on the river. I supposed that he was one of the idle fellows who evade their honest work, and, with a smattering of pretty tastes which give them plenty of conceit, come to no sort of use in the end. Betty knows enough of my hobbies to talk about his fish a little, and I thought it was all girlish nonsense; the truth is that she has shown real discernment of character, - young Foster is a fine fellow."
"Can you do anything for him?" asked Miss Leicester. "I pity his poor mother with all my heart. She is very ambitious for her son. I wish that he could earn enough for their needs, and still be able to go on with some serious study. Mrs. Foster and the daughter would make any sacrifice, but they must have something to eat and to wear. I cannot see how they can absolutely do without him even if his own expenses are paid. They will not accept charity."
"I could learn by talking with him this evening that he is able already to take some minor post in a museum. He would very soon make up what he lacks in fitness, if we could put him where he could get hold of the proper books. He must be put under the right influences, for though he seems to have energy, many a boy with an unusual gift gets stranded in a small town like this, and becomes less useful in the end than if he were like everybody else."
"I think it has been a great thing for him to be developed on the every-day side, and to have care and even trouble," said Miss Leicester. "Now I wish to see the exceptional side of him have a chance. I stand ready to help at any point, you must remember."
"I can give him some work at once, with the understanding that he is to study at Cambridge this winter. I have plans for next summer in which he could be of great service. We will not say too much, but keep our own counsel until we watch him a little longer."
Aunt Barbara nodded emphatically, but for her part she felt no doubt of Harry Foster's power of keeping at his work; then she proposed another subject of personal concern, and they talked a long time in the pleasant old library, among the familiar books and pictures, until the fire had given its last flicker and settled quietly down into a few red coals among the gray ashes.
Every one was glad to know that Harry's collection of fishes and insects and his scientific tastes had won great approval from a man of Mr. Leicester's fame, and that the boy was to be forwarded in his studies as fast as possible.
Who shall tell the wonder of the town over a phonograph which Mr. Leicester brought with him? In fact, the last of the summer seemed altogether the pleasantest, and papa and Betty had a rare holiday together. Aunt Mary and Aunt Barbara, Serena and Letty, and Seth and Jonathan were all in a whirl from morning until night. Serena thought that the phonograph was an invention of the devil, and after hearing the uncanny little machine repeat that very uncomplimentary remark which she had just made about it, she was surer than before. Serena did not relish being called an invention of the evil one, herself, but it does not do to call names at a phonograph.
"It was lonely when I first came," said Betty, the evening before she was to go away, as she walked to and fro between the box-borders with her father, "but I like everybody better and better, - even poor Aunt Mary," she added in a whisper. "It is lovely to live in Tideshead. Sometimes one gets cross, though, and it is so provoking about the left-out ones, and the won't-play ones, and the ones that want everything done some other way, and then let you do it after all. But I thought at first it was going to be so stupid, and that nobody would like any of the things I did; and here is Mary Picknell, who can paint beautifully, and Harry Foster knows so many of the things you do, and George Max is going to be a sea-captain, and so is Jim Beck, and poor dear Becky can sing like a bird when she feels good-natured. Why, papa, dear, I do believe that there is one person in Tideshead of every kind in the world. And Aunt Barbara is a duchess!"
"I never saw so grand a duchess as your Aunt Barbara in her very best gown," said Betty's papa, "but I haven't seen all the duchesses there are in existence."
"Oh, papa, do let us come and live here together," pleaded the girl, with shining eyes. "Must you go back to England for very long? After I see Mrs. Duncan and the rest of the people in London, I am so afraid I shall be homesick. You can keep on having the cubby-house for a very private study, and I know you could write beautifully on the rainy days, when the elm branches make such a nice noise on the roof. Oh, papa, do let us come some time!"
"Some time," repeated Mr. Leicester, with great assurance. "How would next summer do, for instance? I have been talking with Aunt Barbara about it, and we have a grand plan for the writing of a new book, and having some friends of mine come here too, and for the doing of great works. I shall need a stenographer, and we are" -
"Those other people could live at the Fosters' and Becks'," Betty interrupted, delightedly entering into the plans. She was used to the busy little colonies of students who gathered round her father. "Here comes Mr. Marsh, the teacher of the academy, to see you," and she danced away on the tips of her toes.
"Serena and Letty! I am coming back to stay all next summer, and papa too," she said, when she reached the middle of the kitchen.
"Thank the goodness!" said Serena. "Only don't let your pa bring his talking-machine to save up everybody's foolish speeches. Your aunt said this morning that what I ought to ha' said into it was, ' Miss Leicester, we're all out o' sugar.' But the sugar's goin' to last longer when you're gone. I expect we shall miss you," said the good woman, with great feeling.
Now, everything was to be done next summer: all the things that Betty had forgotten and all that she had planned and could not carry out. It was very sad to go away, when the time came. Poor Aunt Mary fairly cried, and said that she was going to try hard to be better in health, so that she could do more for Betty when she came next year, and she should miss their reading together, sadly; and Aunt Barbara held Betty very close for a minute, and said, "God bless you, my darling," though she had never called her "my darling" before. And Captain Beck came over to say good-by, and wished that they could have gone down by the packet boat, as Betty came, and gave our friend a little brass pocket-compass, which he had carried to sea many years. The minister came to call in the evening, with his girls; and the dear old doctor came in next morning, though be was always in a hurry, and kissed Betty most kindly, and held her hand in both his, while he said that he had lost a good deal of practice, lately, because she kept the young folks stirring, and he did not know about letting her come back another summer.
But when poor Mrs. Foster came, with Nelly, and thanked Betty for bringing a ray of sunshine into her sad home, it was almost too much to bear; and good-by must be said to Becky, and that was harder than anything, until they tried to talk about what they would do next summer, and how often they must write to each other in the winter months between.
"Why, sometimes I have been afraid that you didn't like me," said Betty, as her friend's tears again began to fall.
"It was only because I didn't like myself," said dear Becky forlornly. It was a most sad and affectionate leave-taking, but there were many things that Becky would like to think over when her new old friend had fairly gone.
"I never felt as if I really belonged to any place, until now. You must always say that I am Betty Leicester of Tideshead," said Betty to her father, after she had looked back in silence from the car window for a long time. Aunt Barbara had come to the station with them, and was taking the long drive home alone, with only Jonathan and the slow horses. Betty's thoughts followed her all along the familiar road. Last night she had put the little red silk shawl back into her trunk with a sorry sigh. Everybody had been so good to her, while she had done so little for any one!
But Aunt Barbara was really dreading to go back to the old house, she knew that she should miss Betty so much.
Papa was reading already; he always read in the cars himself, but he never liked to have Betty do so. He looked up now, and something in his daughter's face made him put down his book. She was no longer only a playmate; her face was very grave and sweet. "I must try not to scurry about the world as I have done," he thought, as he glanced at Betty again and again. "We ought to have a home, both of us; her mother would have known. A girl should grow up in a home, and get a girl's best life out of the cares and pleasures of it."
"[']I am afraid you won't wish to come down to the hospitalities of lodgings this winter,"['] said Mr. Leicester. "Perhaps we had better look for a comfortable house of our own near the Duncans."
"Oh, we're sure to have the best of good times!" said Betty cheerfully, as if there were danger of his being low-spirited. "We must wait about all that, papa, dear, until we are in London."
Not a lively book, but so instructive for young people.
This unsigned illustration appeared at the end of "A Bit of Color," in St. Nicholas but does not appear directly connected with the serial. See note at the end of Chapter 1 for details.
NOTES FOR CHAPTER XVII. GOING AWAY
Bewick's picture of the robin redbreast: Grolier's Multimedia Encyclopedia says: "Thomas Bewick, b. Aug. 12, 1753, d. Nov. 8, 1828, was a British engraver and illustrator. He was responsible for the 19th-century revival of wood engraving and the introduction of the technique of white-line engraving on wood, which made possible greater subtlety in the use of light and shade. Bewick learned his craft with a metal engraver in Newcastle. He was a keen, enthusiastic observer of nature, and his books and illustrations met with great success. His most important illustrated works are A General History of Quadrupeds (1790) and the two-volume A History of British Birds (1797, 1804)."
[ Back ]
the large White's 'Selbourne': British author, Gilbert White (1720-1793) wrote the Natural History and Antiquities of Selbourne (1788).
[ Back ]
study at Cambridge: by implication at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
[ Back ]
Betty Leicester Stories