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Contents Old Friends and New

Illustrations associated with the unauthorized edition.
 
 

"A Brave Boy" & "Little Jimmy"
Stories attributed to Sarah Orne Jewett
in an unauthorized edition of Old Friends and New

Introduction by Graham Frater

     In American Literature in Nineteenth Century England, Clarence Gohdes (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1944), notes that reliable copyright conditions did not exist between USA and the UK until 1891 and that pirating, which is customarily thought of as an American transgression, was a two-way process.
     This may indicate that one of Jewett's books was pirated in the UK: Old Friends and New of 1879 was published in an undated edition by William Nicholson and Sons of Paternoster Square, London and attributed to S. O. Jewitt (sic); it contains the first four stories in Houghton Osgood's Boston edition, but none of the others.
     It also contains two stories that are listed nowhere else, "A Brave Boy" and "Little Jimmy"; Jacob Blanck believes these to be of "doubtful origin" (A Bibliography of American Literature, vol. 5., New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1969, p.201). Despite its sturdy covers and use of gilt, it is a careless or hasty example of book production which may strengthen the suggestion of pirating. My copy of the Nicholson edition shows the author's name misspelt and that the hero of a "A Brave Boy" has his name spelt inconsistently; illustrations and page numbers do not always correspond either.
     I believe that Blanck is likely to be right and that "A Brave Boy" is probably not a Jewett text. It does display the interest in technical detail that Kipling admired in Jewett and its setting is a lumber district which might be in New England, but little else seems to correspond. Surface factors that immediately appear untypical of Jewett include the use of what seems to be a male narrator, the unusually short paragraphs and the lack of reflective description.
     The electronic version of "A Brave Boy" supplied here will permit readers to form their own views, or indeed to test the text with a computer stylistics programme. The exercise of testing and comparison offers the possibility both of clearing up a mystery and of further illuminating Jewett's own writing.

Copyright © 1998-1999 by Graham Frater. All rights reserved, except that these texts may be freely copied or downloaded for teaching and scholarly use.



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A BRAVE BOY

     The gnarled old spruce which leans out over the stream at the foot of the lake still bears the pitchy letters "N. G.," cut in with an axe nine years ago last spring.

     Nat Gonies was as brave a lad as ever worked in the lumbering region; not yet seventeen, but an expert waterman and "driver," always on hand for his duty, quick-sighted and careful, yet dexterous, and at night, the life and soul of the tired camp, with his cheery laugh and ever-ready song.

     We could trust anything to Nat; whether it was a refractory team, or a broken raft of lumber, he would fetch it right out somehow. His quick eye had repeatedly saved men working with him from injury and once or twice from drowning. But most likely that old spruce tree is the only tombstone that he will ever have.

     We had been "warping" a raft of logs down the lake that night; for the nights in May are generally less windy than the days, and " warping," or "booming," is best done on calm water.

     When, in getting lumber down to the saw-mills, it becomes necessary to cross a lake, or an expanse of "dead" water, the logs, many hundreds in number, are first enclosed within a "boom," or " cordon," consisting of long logs connected at the ends by huge, moveable pins, termed "thorough-shots."

     Ahead of this great raft, often covering a number of acres, is hitched a "float," built of very large, buoyant logs, and generally made twenty-four feet in length by about twelve in width. Upon this float is set up an upright capstan, pierced for eight levers, or "bars."

     This float, with its capstan, is commonly called "the head-works." To the whim, or "roll," of the capstan is bent one end of a heavy warp, generally a four-inch line, eight hundred feet long, to the other end of which is attached an anchor, of about the size of those carried by small schooners.

     The anchor is first carried forward on the lake in a batteau, eight hundred feet in advance of the head-works, and dropped. The men at the capstan-bars then commence winding. The anchor holds fast tothe earth at the bottom of the lake, and thus the heavy raft of logs is wound up to the place where it has fastened itself.

     The anchor is then taken up, and again carried forward in the boat to the end of the warp, and dropped as before. The process of winding up is then recommenced, and so on, mile after mile.

     It is very tedious work, particularly by night, when much of it has to be done. On the head-works are commonly eight men beside the "boss," one to each bar, and if the raft be very heavy, the bars have to be "double-manned." Sometimes, too, a relief-party is carried.

     Steam-tugs are beginning to be employed on the large lakes for "warping," but in the old days no better way was known than the one I have described.

     We had been "winding" all the latter part of the night, and got the raft down to the great dam at the foot of the lake about nine o'clock in the morning. This dam was a strong structure of stone and logs, about a hundred feet long, and having a "lift" of thirteen feet; that is to say, it raised the water in the lake that number of feet above its natural level. In it were three ponderous gates, the centre one being the widest and having a "drive-way," through which to run the lumber into the river below.

     Up to this time these gates had been kept shut. The lake was full of water. We wound the raft down within about a hundred feet of the dam, then carried the anchor end of the warp ashore, and made it fast to a tree, thus securing the head-works from being sucked into the flumes when the gates were raised.

     Six of the men, with Ben Murch, the foreman, then went on to the dam to hoist the centre gate. These gates were immensely strong and heavy, being built of hewn timber. Though made to play free in their grooves, the great pressure of the water when high rendered them hard to lift, and for this purpose a "hoisting machine," consisting of strong levers working on cog-wheels, had been provided.

     The roar of the out-rushing flood at once drowned every other noise. A volume of water thirteen feet in height by ten in width was pouring through the driveway, and plunging down over the log "apron" of the dam into the deep pool below. The whole dam shook, and the high, wooded banks on each side resounded to the heavy roar of the water.

     The order was then given to "man the boom." In a minute the men were skipping about the raft on the floating logs. The boom was opened, to let the logs run out and go through the flume.

     We had now only to keep the logs floating out steadily, six or eight at once. But to do this required a good deal of "poling" and moving about the boom for the lumber must needs go into the flume end foremost.

     There was a young man in the gang named A1ph Merrill. This was his first year's work handling lumber in the water. He did well for a beginner, but to drive lumber in deep or rapid water requires practice. The logs on which the men stood were all drawn by the current towards the throat of the boom.

     Young Merrill, while watching some of the other[s], stood a moment too long on one log, - till it floated off from the rest too far for him to jump to them, or back to the boom.

     An old driver, using his handspike for a paddle would have steered the log to the boom. Alph tried to do this, but the log began to roll under him. To save himself from rolling off, he dropped astride it; but in so doing, he lost his handspike, which, being iron-pointed, sank at once.

     The others who saw him shouted, "Man in the water!" Alph was in great danger, for the log was not more than eighty or ninety feet above the flume and was being drawn surely into it.

     "He'll be killed!" cried several of the men.

     Nat Gonier was standing on the boom about thirty yards above Alph. Seeing what was the matter, he ran down the boom, and as Alph floated out past the lower end of it, he jumped ten or twelve feet, and struck squarely on Alph's log. It swayed and rolled violently, but Nat kept his feet. A hurrah of admiration rose from the men at sight of this bold feat.

     Alph's all right now!" they said; for, although both were in peril, the whole gang had the fullest confidence in Nat. All were watching him, rather admiringly than anxiously. Murch stood on the dam ready to help them up when the log struck it; for we knew that Nat would work the log off to one side of the flume.

     It was impossible to hear what Nat said because of the roar, but his first move was to get Alph on his feet. He held the log so steadily, by balancing his own weight against Alph's, that the poor fellow was enabled to get up.

But Alph was one of those, who when scared, have hardly the power to help themselves. He barely managed to keep his footing. Nat, with a few strokes of his pike, turned the log out of the direct draught into the flume,

     A moment more and the end struck the pier, eight or ten feet to the right of the flume.

     "Jump now!" the boss heard Nat say as it struck.

     It was not more than four or five feet to the crown timber, but instead of making the jump, Alph lost his balance and staggered back upon Nat, who was close behind, ready to jump after him, and both fell off into the water.

     In an instant the upper end of the log swung back across the flume, and struck against the other pier.

     There it hung, but the two boys were on the upper side. Murch reached down to help Alph up. Nat had his arm over the log, and seemed to be waiting for Murch's hand, - when suddenly he went from our sight! An eddy had formed under the log beside him and sucked him down.

     A cry arose that was heard above the thunder of the flood. The men rushed frantically on to the dam. Some even swam ashore from the raft.

     We thought at first that Nat had gone through the flume; but on looking down under the log, we saw him flattened against the left pier, where the eddy had drawn him, and where he was held by the swift current as in a vice. It was almost sickening to see his arms waving down there in that yellow-tinted torrent.

     Murch got down on the log, and a lever with a cant-hook attachment was thrust down and caught into the poor boy's jacket, and we tried to haul him up.

     But the moment we wrenched him from where he lay jammed against the pier, the current tore him off the hook and swept him through the flume. We had a glimpse of his body whirled amidst the foam, down over the apron and into the great, seething pool below.

     At the foot of the pool, fifty or sixty rods below the dam, there was then a gravel bar, on which the water was not over two or three feet deep. The men ran down there, and wading out on the bar, caught Nat's body as it rolled along

     But he was gone, - past any help of ours. We had only recovered his bruised and lifeless form.

     The rough, hard fellows hung over him and cried like children, though they were not men who often wept.



NOTES

A Brave Boy: This is one of the two interpolated stories in the undated but nineteenth century edition of Old Friends and New published in England by Nicholson and Company, London.
     As with 'Little Jimmy', its fellow in what may be a pirated volume, we cannot be certain that it was written by Jewett. In terms of overall style and subject, it seems untypical of Jewett's more widely admired work and is at odds with the other stories in the same volume. Nor do these two stories match the narrative unity that Betty Powell finds in the original American edition of the Old Friends and New collection as a whole (Colby Quarterly, June 1998, pp. 150-172). Nonetheless, the question of authorship remains open. It is a debate which web site readers may be able to resolve. Perhaps the original publication of the story can be found.
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Gonies: Note that Nat's surname is spelt as Gonier later in the text.
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batteau: This spelling is as given in the Nicholson text.
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centre:. The British spelling is used consistently.
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other[s]: typographical error corrected.
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Edited and annotated by Graham Frater. Leamington Spa, UK., April 1998..



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LITTLE JIMMY.

Like Ginx's baby, little Jimmy had been turned from the paternal hearth because there were so many to clothe and feed. Yet the child had a remarkably winning face, which might some day bring him an introduction to good society.

     He was two years old when his aunt, who was well enough off to live in a "row," came over after him one day, and kept him till he was a well-grown boy.

     Mrs. Brown was the aunt's name. She bought a cradle for the little fellow, and a whole closet full of toys.

     Rather a proud woman was Mrs. Brown: and Mrs. Ray, her sister, being the wife of a lazy ne'er-do-well, as she called him, and a man who drank, into the bargain, worked from morning till night so steadily that she seldom had time to visit the youngster.

     When he was brought to her in his gay little carriage all covered with a bright wool rug which Mrs. Brown had made with her own hands, and taken into the house, as fresh and sweet as a rose, the other children gathered about him as if he had been a wonder.

     "It kinder makes 'em feel bad, perhaps; I wouldn't bring him," said the mother one day.

     Jimmy's father would sometimes get very drunk. Once, while he was in that state, he came after Jimmy and persisted in carrying him home. The child was frightened, so was his aunt, but the man threatened to kill them all if they interfered.

     "We'd better give that child up," said Mr. Brown. "There'll always be trouble."

     "I can't," the tender-hearted woman replied as she looked at the little bed, not usually empty about that time, and burst into tears.

      Just then somebody knocked at the door. There stood Mrs. Ray, her apron over her head, her weatherbeaten face darkly flushed, and the child in her arms sound asleep.

     "I brought him over as soon as I could, poor little fellow!" she said, as her sister eagerly caught the sleeping boy and kissed him rapturously. "One of my children, at least, shall lead a decent life."

      A very happy boy was little Jimmy. He knew that he had brothers and sisters, but he very seldom saw them. He knew he had a father, but at sight of him he would run screaming away, for once or twice he had stood between him and happiness.

     "I'm not going to have my boy made a fine gentleman of," the father would say, when half crazy from rum.

     "What would you have him? - a sot like yourself?" the mother retorted.

     "If I can't keep him nobody else shall!" said the man, with an oath. And yet, when he was sober, and consequently sane, he always expressed himself delighted at the idea of Jimmy's good fortune, particularly as he was not rugged like the rest of his children.

     One day little Jimmy was sitting on the doorstep of a neighbour, cultivating the acquaintance of a little fairy with long ringlets, and laughing like the happy child he was.

     "Wouldn't you like to go to heaven?" asked Blue-eyes of little Jimmy.

     "Yes, if Mamma Jenny" - as he always called his aunt - "would go with me."

     "Do you know how to sing? - 'cause the angels have to sing," continued his pretty questioner.

     "No, I don't; do you?"
 

     The answer was a scream. The little girl, with one glance of horror, sprang into the doorway. Little Jimmy sat motionless as the dreadful apparition stood before him, - his own drunken, demoniac father. Then to avoid the clutch of his terrible bands, the boy sprang sideways, and fell into an area.

     For days and days thereafter the doctor's carriage drove up to the door of the Browns. The doctor went in and came out with a grave face.

     The poor distracted mother, who could not take care of her delicate child, made frequent visits to his bedside. They said his brain was injured.

     "I must sing," he would say, "because I am going to heaven. Mamma Jenny, come go to heaven with little Jimmy."

     But Mamma Jenny could not go with the innocent child, though he pleaded so eloquently. Mamma Jenny would have given her life to save his, she loved him so; but what availed all her longing and her sorrow?

      Jimmy died at twelve of the night, his little hands clasped in hers, and his sad eyes fixed on her face.

     "Tell papa," he kept saying; but what message the little soul would have sent to the miserable man was never known.

     Then came the small white hearse and the few carriages. Little Jimmy's brothers and sisters went to the funeral, - the father could not go because of his poverty, and the mother was sick at home.

     And little Jimmy's was only one small life out of the uncounted thousands that have been sacrificed to the demon of intemperance.



NOTES

"Little Jimmy" is one of the two interpolated stories in the undated but nineteenth century edition of Old Friends and New published in England by Nicholson and Company, London.
     As with 'A Brave Boy', its fellow in what may be a pirated volume, we cannot be certain that it was written by Jewett. In terms of overall style and lay-out, it seems untypical of Jewett's more widely admired work and is at odds with the other stories in the same volume. Nor do these two stories match the narrative unity that Betty Powell finds in the original American edition of the Old Friends and New collection as a whole (Colby Quarterly, June 1998, pp. 150-172). Nonetheless, the question of authorship remains open. It is a debate which web site readers may be able to resolve. Perhaps the original publication of the story can be found..
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Ginx's baby: Ginx's Baby, his Birth and other Misfortunes, A Satire by Edward Jenkins, 1838-1910. Ginx's baby is, as the reference suggests, an unwanted child. WorldCat offers this note on the novel: "Ginx's baby is 'a satire on the struggles of rival sectarians for the religious education of a derelict child.' Dict. nat. biog., 2d Suppl." The novel was first published in London in 1870 and in the United States in 1871, and went through many editions in both countries during the decade. (Research: Betty Rogers and Terry Heller).
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a "row": a row house would be an individual home in a joined row of homes, as opposed to a tenement or building of small apartments, where Jimmy's life probably began. (Research: Terry Heller).
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little Jimmy was sitting on the doorstep of a neighbour: In this English edition, the American spelling is not used. In the contemporary British editions of Jewett's work that were produced by Osgood, McIlvaine and Co., or in co-operation with Houghton Mifflin, the American spelling "neighbor" is commonly retained.
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an area: The relevant OED gloss is a sunken court giving access to a basement, a meaning that dates back to 1649. However, such an area would probably have railings. The Longman Dictionary of the English Language (1984) suggests for 'areaway' a North American usage that may be rather closer to this context i.e. a sunken space providing access, ventilation or light to a cellar or basement.
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Edited and annotated by Graham Frater, Leamington Spa, UK.,


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