A Story In Three Parts. Part I.
By Sarah Orne Jewett
We have never grown tired yet, Mary Dean and Hannah Fennel and I, of talking over past times and the way in which we came to live together and be so fond of each other -- three country girls from different states, in the fourth story of a city boarding-house. I am a teacher in a primary school, and Hannah used to keep accounts in a circulating library, and Mary Dean is in a fancy goods store -- one of the first saleswomen. My name is Elizabeth Prime -- they always call me Lizzie at home but the girls always say Betsey, and I must confess that I have grown to like to hear them, but it took me a good while to get used to the sound at first. I always hated my Aunt Betsey Prime when I was a little girl, though I believe now that she was as good a woman as she knew how to be, being made in the likeness of a round-topped slate tombstone, without the least understanding of anything in the way of a joke. She kept house for my brother and me after father and mother died, and ran the farm and brought us up to know how to use our hands and to be thrifty and self-supporting. I didn't half know how to thank her for it, and I am afraid I never really did seem grateful. She had two or three thousand dollars of her own -- that she had pinched herself to save -- and when she died we found she had left everything, even her clothes, to the foreign Missionary society. The boys and I were dreadfully put out, but poor soul, the only pleasure she ever had, I believe, was in thinking about her donation, and in one way we were just as well off without her poor gains. The farm belonged to my oldest brother Tom, and there was a charge on it to pay for Dan's learning his trade and my getting an education to teach; then we always were to have a right to go back to the old place if we were tired out, or sick, or in trouble, if we would help Tom according to our ability. Tom is as large-hearted a man as ever was, but I never liked his wife over well -- that is, I never could make her seem one of our folks. One of the children looks and acts just like me when I was her age, and there's another just like Tom himself when he was a boy. It seems as if we were starting out in life over again, and I like to have a visit to the old place every summer for Tom's sake if for nothing else, but of course I don't feel bound to the farm as if my father and mother were still alive.
Mary Dean has much the same homeless feeling, or had until we made a little home together. Her own mother is dead and her father is married again to a woman who almost turned the older children out-of-doors. He is a weak sort of man, it always seemed to me, but Mary does every kind thing for them that she can think of, and even sends them their flour and sugar, besides little things that she knows her father likes. I used to think she was foolish, but I have learned better, for it makes her so happy; and, to be sure, her father isn't always able to work now and the other children are none of them able to help much yet. But Mary was sure to have left home soon enough to take care of herself; that woman needn't have pushed her out as she did, a sickly child, even if there were so many hungry mouths to feed and hardly anything to put into them.
Mary and I have been friends for ten years; ours was a boarding-house acquaintance to begin with, but I had just come to the city from a country school-room and felt very lonely and strange, and Mary, who had been living there a year already, came and spoke to me that first evening and we were friends right away. She says that she doesn't understand now what made her take the first step, for she never liked to be forward with strangers and hardly knew anybody in the house to speak to. We always like to think of these first days, we were both so happy and surprised at finding each other out. We felt almost like lovers, we had been so lonesome. The school was hard for me, coming straight from old fashions of teaching to new ones, and it was so good to have somebody to tell my troubles to when I got home at night. I used to be kept hours after school closed getting my reports right and straightening out what I had to do. If we had been younger we might have cared less about each other, but we had lived long enough to need a real friend and helper, not a playmate.
So we went on together for two or three years, and sometimes I took Mary home to Tom's with me to spend a vacation, while I became as interested in her family affairs as if they were mine. We had a pleasant room and a good many books, and somehow we used to feel disappointed when anything called either of us away for an evening, we liked so much to be quiet and to carry out our own plans. But first one of us and then the other noticed a plain-looking girl a few years older than we, who sat at the end of the boarding-house table, a sad-faced, kind-looking sort of person, and presently we found out that her name was Fennel and that she had a room above ours.
We used to say sometimes that she was just like one of ourselves if we had not met each other and had lived on alone. At last, after we had begun to say good-night and good-morning whenever we had the chance, Mary came hurrying home one evening and put down some library books on the table, and told me that she had some news.
I was tired, for school had been very hard and the weather was growing warm, and I am afraid I didn't show much interest.
"You know Miss Fennel?" said Mary, eagerly, "I found her in Fenby's library this noon, and had such a nice talk with her. She promised to come down this evening after she gets back. It is her free evening and she seemed so pleased. She has been here four months, -- can you believe it?"
I gave a little groan, and Mary was disappointed because I was tired and cross, but after supper when Hannah Fennel came shyly to our doors, my heart warmed toward her, and we had a nice evening together. The end of a month found us a family of three instead of two, for somehow Hannah seemed to belong to us, and took the room next ours, and we had a bed that turned up against the wall in the day time and was hidden by a curtain, so we used to make a parlor of our room and were very fine and comfortable.
We never could exactly understand Hannah Fennel, for all we liked her so much. She had more fun than any of us, for though Mary and I used to have an evening now and then when we felt very cheerful and laughed and teased each other, Hannah had a bit of fun ready for any time of day, a quick word or two that would keep us merry until we saw her again; such a droll sense of humor, such a way of seeing the funny side of a thing, that it did us all good. Yet she used to cry herself to sleep night after night, and often looked so sad and old that it made our hearts ache to see her, especially after we found out she was younger than either of us instead of five or six years older as we supposed.
We never liked to ask her what troubled her, and with all her sorrow she brought so much happiness into our lives that we did not know how to thank her. It was Hannah who knew what to do when I had a school-headache, and who was always ready to go to a concert or for a walk with Mary Dean, who seemed to carry half our cares and troubles but never to hint at any of her own.
Single women who are busy all day in a great city are apt to live very uncomfortable lives, -- to have to pay much more than they can afford for very little real comfort or a decent sort of home. We had tried a great many experiments and made some mistakes, but I believe that we really spent less money on our clothes and our living expenses and had a better return than any three girls we knew. Hannah was a capital manager, and had "head" as Mary Dean was always saying. We had fallen into a silly way of living on tea and crackers at one time, and nearly ruined our health, I must confess, for our first boarding mistress, a kind, careful, country-bred woman, had died some years after we had been together, and the house was turned into a lodging house, so we used to get most of our meals for ourselves in our room. Hannah would have no such nonsense, and we used to have a regular dinner at a boarding-house near by and cook our breakfasts and suppers, but good ones they were! She was so sensible and kept us so well and hearty, and made us get a good, brisk walk every day. Once I couldn't help saying to her that she was too good and kind to us, and I didn't see how her own family could get on without her. I was sorry the minute I had spoken, for she almost burst out crying; I saw her cheeks flush scarlet and I turned away and tried to talk carelessly about something else, but she went into her own room and dressed herself to go out. It was Sunday afternoon, and she didn't come back until after dark. Then we both tried to appear as if nothing had happened, but I was very sorry because I had spoken the natural thought of my heart, it seemed in some strange way to give her such a wound.
I had the long school vacation, of course, but Mary Dean had only a fortnight every summer, and sometimes less than that if the firm that employed her was unusually busy. Hannah was never sure of more than a week's holiday, but I used to spend a good part of my resting time in town -- after I made a visit or two. We had very good air and were living in a quiet part of the city; two of our windows overlooked the river, and we had a drive now and then by ourselves, or some short excursion. I used to find little time for sewing or reading while I was hard at work teaching, and I really loved the long, quiet summer days, while the girls were away and nobody tapped at my door or asked me a question all day long. Once or twice I went down to the seashore for a few days to visit the mother of a little scholar whom I was very fond of. But this last summer it happened that instead of Mary and I going off in different directions and leaving Hannah alone, as often happened, we suddenly found that we had a great deal of spare time on our hands and must make some new arrangement.
The library where Hannah was writing, was in the same building where Mary Dean's business was, and it came to pass that the owners of the property decided to make extensive repairs. The girls came home the same evening in a great state of excitement, to tell me that they were each given the choice of an extra holiday of two months and possibly a little longer, or of employment on half-wages. Both the store and the library were to be removed for the time being, but it was always a very dull time in mid-summer and they could probably well be spared. Indeed they had both asked not long before for a longer vacation than usual, as Hannah, "the Captain," as we called her, had decided that Mary needed it after several years' steady work, and Mary, who held the same opinion, agreed only upon the promise that Hannah, who was looking pale and thin, would follow the example.
So here we were, the owners of two whole idle months, and at first we hardly knew what to do with them. Hannah insisted that we should both go away, and I insisted that she must go with us, and that we must find some plan that we could carry out together. I was filled with wonder even then that Hannah said nothing of any plans of her own. She never had a letter and never spoke of her past life. And yet whoever knew her could not help loving her, and I was sure that somewhere or other at least one houseful of friends was keeping her in fond remembrance. I was more and more puzzled to know what strange fate had outwardly severed her from all her old associations and the affection of her early friends.
I have forgotten exactly how it came about that we made up our minds to spend that whole vacation in a little, old-fashioned farm-house near my old home. Some neighbors of my father and mother who were old people when I left the farm had died only a year or two before and my brother Tom had bought their few acres to add to his property. I don't know what made me think of taking the house, which had been standing empty, but, to make my story short, we did go there, we three girls together, and were as happy as heart could wish. Tom was good enough to give us the rent and as many vegetables as we wanted off the farm, but Hannah and Mary wouldn't hear to our plundering anybody when we had plenty of money, by living carefully, to pay our own way. So we used to go foraging among the neighbors and buy some pears here and some early beets or corn in the next place; and Tom's wife always had the butter-money and egg-money, so we used to put something in her pocket every week, and she was more friendly than I ever knew her to be. I was so thankful to have Tom's boy and girl to myself a little, and I do believe that they enjoyed having us in the Ford house as much as we did being there. We felt all the time as if we were on a picnic, and I have wished a great many times that people who want to be right out in the country, and who haven't much money to spend on their holidays, would remember the little deserted farmhouses that stand near the by-ways and lanes all over New England; that are good shelter enough for a few weeks in summer, and have a real gift of restfulness and lovely human associations within their gray walls.
Somehow I never could look at the white lilac tree that old Mrs. Ford was so fond of, or at the few flowers that were left in the turf where her little garden used to be, without tears coming into my eyes as I thought of her. There were a few blossoms of London-pride and sweet-williams and some sprigs of ambrosia, and behind the house was her hop-vine and two or three currant bushes, and before we left, the yellow sweet apples were dropping from their boughs, that I used to tease her for when I was a little girl.
Mary [May] and I used to wonder a great deal about Hannah -- perhaps because there was more time to do it in. We used to walk a great deal together, because of course I had to go to see all the people I used to know, and sometimes the neighbors used to ask us all to come and drink tea, after haying time was over, but Hannah always seemed to dislike going about. She was so happy and so much brighter than usual that it did our hearts good, but we used to say that she behaved as if she thought we were safe at last from somebody or something that had made her afraid. I asked two or three scholars of mine to come and spend a week. Poor little city-bred things they were, that never had rolled in the grass; and I don't believe they had a word to say about anybody except Hannah after they went home, she was so good to them and knew so well how to please them.
Perhaps one reason why we talked more about this dear, silent friend of ours was this: we had grown a little better used to the fact that we did not know anything about her, until just before we came away from town, the very day before, when I was packing my trunk and the other girls were out doing some last shopping. The little errand boy from the circulating library came running over to bring a letter for Hannah which the proprietor thought she might be glad to have before she left the city. I never had seen a letter of hers before; they must all have come to the library, so I couldn't help stealing a look at this as it lay on the table. The address was in a man's hand-writing and the postmark was not very far from my own home, just over the boundary of the next State. When Hannah came in and saw it, she flushed quickly and I thought her very glad, too, as she caught up the letter and went into her own room and stood close by the window and read it. The daylight was almost gone but she read the letter twice through. That night it was very late before she put out her light, and in the morning I could see the tear-marks under her eyes where she must have lain awake and cried. Just as we were on our way to the station, I saw a young man spring forward from the sidewalk as if he wished to stop us; of course I told the girls, for he seemed to recognize one of them and to be very eager to speak to her, but Hannah seemed really alarmed, and said, "No! no! go on, or we shall lose the train."
It was true that we were in some danger of being late, so I said nothing more as I had lost sight of the stranger, at any rate, in the crowd that was passing a street corner.
You may be sure that Mary Dean and I talked this over together more than once. My sister-in-law, Tom's wife, managed to find out that we really knew nothing about Hannah's past history, and made me very angry one day by saying that she wondered how we dared to be such friends with her, and to take her to live with us. This seemed so silly; the idea of once doubting Hannah -- Hannah, who was so much more sensible and careful than either of us -- who was as straight-forward and honest-hearted and kind as the day was long. She seemed above any sort of suspicion. Yet it was strange that something held us back from questioning her, and made Mary Dean, who was quick-spoken and careless as a child about most things, always on her guard against hurting Hannah's feelings by anything that seemed like curiosity. If she had a secret to keep, we liked her and trusted her none the less.
But one day I was sitting alone in our little house, feeling very sorry, as I sat at my sewing, that our time was so nearly spent, and yet not a little glad to think about my school and how glad I should be to see the children. Everything was still except the rustle of the leaves and the chirping of the cricket in the long grass under the apple trees, and I started at the sound of footsteps coming up the path that led from the road. Whose face should I see but the young man's I had noticed in the street the day we left town.
He asked me if Miss Fennel lived there and I said yes. Then I remembered her avoidance of him, though whether she also had seen him I could not tell, and I looked him straight in the eyes, and said: "You must tell me first if you have come to trouble her. I know nothing about her affairs or her friends, but I know her well and love her dearly, and I am not going to let anybody trouble her in any way."
"Nobody in this world cares half so much for her as I do," and the minute the stranger spoke I knew he told me the truth.
"If she has never told you her history, I will. -- There is not a better soul alive, but her father was a rascal, and her mother died of a broken heart, and though I have loved Hannah ever since I can remember, when her poor mother was gone she told me that she never would consent to marry me -- it would be a sin to link an honest name to such shame as belonged to hers."
"Poor girl," said I. "What an awful weight she has had to carry, and never a soul to speak to! We should have cared for her all the more."
"She made me promise that I would not try to find her or to write to her for three years, and I kept my promise," the lover said. "I wish I hadn't, too, for I dare say she only thought I would forget that I ever cared anything about her. I wrote her early in the summer, when my time was out, and she wrote such a pitiful letter, to tell me we must give each other up. But when I found she still loved me, I started right off to find her, though I didn't know any address except the city. I saw her in the street -- "
"Yes," I said eagerly, "I saw you that day, but she would not stop: "
"Then I lost track of her, of course, and I didn't know what to do. I supposed they would know at the place where she worked; but they had mislaid her address in the confusion of moving, and it took me a long time to get it, and then I found that we had been near together all summer. I own a place over in Stratton now. I always thought it would be better to strike root in a new place, for Hannah's sake. And I am going to marry her whether she says yes, or says no!"
"I would if I were you," said I. "You go across this next field and into the orchard beyond, and there you'll find her. I see her dress from here." I was so glad to think it was the blue gingham dress that she looked so pretty in; and away Hannah's lover went, straight toward that bit of dark blue. I must say, I wished I were one of the robins in the apple trees for a little while, to listen to what was said. My heart beat as fast as it could, and I did not feel like sitting still and sewing any longer. I went up the lane to where the young man's horse stood and fed him with white clover and then ran back to the house and began to get ready for the best kind of a company tea. Once or twice I was afraid that Hannah would say no, but one look at her face was enough to relieve me of any such fears, as they came across the field together.
She came and put her arms round me and kissed me when she came in; and I couldn't help crying a little. "It isn't right, I'm afraid," says Hannah, looking at me with her appealing eyes, "but Jim would have it so;" and you never saw anything like the nod of Jim's head, nor the beaming happiness of him. "I told your friend here what your misery had been," he said as gently as could be, as if he were so afraid of hurting her feelings, and Hannah gave me such a frightened look, so I went and kissed her again.
"I'm sure I don't know what Mary Dean and I shall ever do without you," I whispered to her. "You have made us a real home and been such a help;" while Hannah said we never should know what it had been to her, alone in the world as she felt, to have us treat her like a sister.
So that winter Mary Dean and I were alone together again and happy enough too, though we missed our old companion every day. Still, we like to have her letters and are going to spend all the time we can get with her this summer, though of course, Mary cannot expect very long holidays, and I cannot leave her alone in town all through my long vacation.
There is a great deal we can do for some younger girls whom we have learned to know in the city, who don't understand any better how to take care of themselves and their money than we did at first, and we mean to lend them a helping hand and perhaps start a little friendly society or club among the girls who live in our fashion.
Hannah seems to be very happy. I always liked "Jim" as she calls him, from the first moment I saw him. I think she still worries about the sins of the fathers being visited upon the children, and sometimes thinks she may have done wrong to marry; but I believe shedoes good enough in this world to make up for the harm her father did. She never forgets it, I can see that, and she looks older by ten years than she really is, but her husband cares enough about her to make her grow younger and younger now. Dear Hannah! She did look very happy the day she was married. I don't know whether Mary Dean and I shall ever forsake our life together in our sky-parlor, but I have often thought I should like to go back to the little old Ford house where we spent last summer, and end my days. I told my brother Tomin the last letter I wrote, to be sure and keep it in good repair for Mary Dean and me.
[ THE END]
"Three Friends" first appeared serialized in three issues of Good Cheer 4 (Jan., Feb., Mar., 1886), pp. 1-2 of each issue. This text is based on the original. It was missed in later bibliographic studies and rediscovered by Philip B. Eppard, who reprinted it with his short essay, "Two Lost Stories by Sarah Orne Jewett," in Gwen Nagel, ed., Critical Essays on Sarah Orne Jewett (1984).
Apparent errors in the text have been corrected and indicated with brackets. If you find errors or items needing annotation, please contact the site manager.
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foreign Missionary society: The purpose of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in Boston was "to send out consecrated men to all parts of the world and establish schools, churches and powerful native ministries."
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London-pride and sweet-williams ... sprigs of ambrosia: In New England, London Pride is Lychnis chalcedonica, known commonly today as Maltese Cross. Click here or scroll down for more information and a photograph. (Research: Nancy Mayer Wetzel). Sweet William is also known as phlox, an easy to cultivate North American native flower, usually a shade of blue or purple. In mythology, ambrosia is a food of the gods; the name has been applied to several plants.
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Edited and annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College.
LONDON PRIDE by Nancy Mayer Wetzel, Landscape Gardener, Jewett House
Copyright (c) 2003 by Nancy Mayer Wetzel
The plant London Pride is mentioned frequently in Sarah Orne Jewett's writing. If Jewett may be taken at her word in "The Confession of a House-Breaker," London Pride grew in her home garden in South Berwick, Maine, as well as in her literary gardens. References to London Pride in Jewett's writing include: "From a Mournful Villager" (1881), "The Confession of a House-Breaker" (1883), "An Only Son" (1883), "Three Friends" (1886), "A Second Spring" (1893), and Chapter 2 of The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896).
Today in New England, Jewett's London Pride is known as Maltese Cross (Lychnis chalcedonica). The red London Pride in this photograph blooms in a South Berwick garden with the golden-yellow Sunflower Heliopsis (Heliopsis helianthoides 'Summer Sun'). (Photograph by Gary Wetzel, copyright 2003)
The study of plant names is a fascinating pursuit. Over the years, the common name London Pride passed out of general use and the red flower disappeared from the Jewett garden. How is it known, then, that London Pride is Maltese Cross? A great help in tracing London Pride is Jewett's description of her plant in "The Confession of a House-Breaker:"The ranks of flowers in my garden took on a great splendor of bloom, as the light grew clearer. …It seemed as if the quiet June morning ushered in some great festival day, there were such preparations being made. After the roses, the London pride was most gorgeous to behold, with its brilliant red and its tall, straight stalks. It had a soldierly appearance, as if the flowers were out early to keep guard.Steven M. Still in Manual of Herbaceous Ornamental Plants (1994) agrees with the term Jewett used for her plant. He says London Pride—and the commonly named Maltese Cross, Jerusalem Cross, and Scarlet Lightning—are Lychnis chalcedonica, an erect plant of two or three feet with scarlet blooms in summer. Lychnis, from a Greek word meaning lamp, is a genus of bright flowers, certainly a fitting genus for Jewett’s tall stalks of brilliant red bloom.
What Jewett called London Pride, Still identifies as Lychnis chalcedonica, but Jewett’s contemporary Gertrude Jekyll and Still's contemporary Donald Wyman say London Pride is something quite different: Saxifraga umbrosa. Wyman's Gardening Encyclopedia (1986) states the plant is a tumbling mound of six inches with small pink or white flowers in spring that is much grown in England. This information is born out by the English Jekyll in Wood and Garden (1899):Next comes the common London Pride, which I think quite the most beautiful of the Saxifrages of this section. If it was a rare thing, what a fuss we should make about it! The place is a little dry for it, but all the same, it makes a handsome spreading tuft hanging over the face of the wall. When its pink cloud of bloom is at its best, I always think it the prettiest thing in the garden.Lychnis chalcedonica was used in American gardens in the 1600s and has remained popular in perennial borders. New pink and carmine-red varieties have been developed. Saxifraga umbrosa was in general use in this country later, some time between 1776 and 1850, and is still suggested for rock gardens and ground covers. Rudy J. Favretti and Joy Putman Favretti documented these dates from period sources and published their findings in Landscapes and Gardens for Historic Buildings (1978).
The plants called London Pride have many other common names. While this distances one from plant identification, it does provide an inviting narrative spin for the search. On June 30, 1801, Martha Ballard, a midwife and healer from Hallowell, Maine, relieved her grandson's pain with "a decoction of ye flowers of London pride." The journal in which Ballard recorded this incident was published in 1992, The Diary of Martha Ballard, 1785-1812, edited by Robert and Cynthia McCausland. The glossary states that the flowers of London Pride are St. Patrick's cabbage. Here is yet another common name for a London Pride plant. The Color Dictionary of Flowers and Plants for Home and Garden (1969) by Roy Hay and Patrick M. Synge says St. Patrick's cabbage is Saxifraga umbrosa. However, considering the late June occurrence of this event, the possibility that Ballard used the fresh-blooming flowers of Lychnis chalcedonica should be considered.
There is also variation on the name London Pride, indicating a third genus where it crops up: Lychnis, Saxifraga, and Lobelia.A name close to London Pride has persisted in Hancock County, Maine to the present, according to Jan Morse Whalen of Steuben. Pride of London is what the recently deceased Virginia Gilson Whalen, descendant of an old Machias merchant family, called the scarlet Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis). Jewett admired the Cardinal Flower growing on the banks of the Salmon Falls River near her home. Although she distinguished between the red Cardinal Flower and the red London Pride, Jewett acknowledged, perhaps unwittingly, their metaphorical similarity when she wrote of the Cardinal Flower's "pride." From "River Driftwood" (1881):They (Cardinal Flowers) wear a color that is the sign of high ecclesiastical rank, and the temper of their minds would make them furies if they fought for church and state. They are no radicals; they are tories and aristocrats; they belong to the old nobility among flowers. It would be a pity if the rank marsh grass overran them, or if the pickerel weed should wade ashore to invade them and humble their pride.Alice Morse Earle's Old Time Gardens (1901), includes a section on London Pride with a regional slant. Earle valued London Pride, as did Jewett, for associations of yore and included an anecdote about its importance in one garden before 1801. A welcome black and white photograph, labeled London Pride, shows the plant presently recognized as Maltese Cross (Lychnis chalcedonica):A great favorite in the old garden was the splendid scarlet Lychnis, to which in New England is given the name of London Pride. There are two old varieties: one has four petals with squared ends, and is called, from the shape of the expanded flower, the Maltese Cross; the other, called Scarlet Lightning, is shown on a succeeding page; it has five deeply-nicked petals. It is a flower of midsummer eve and magic power, and I think it must have some connection with the Crusaders, being called Gerarde Floure of Jerusalem, and Flower of Candy. The five-petalled form is rarely seen; in one old family I know it is so cherished, and deemed so magic a homemaker, that every bride who has gone from that home for over a hundred years has borne away a plant of the London Pride; it has really become a Family Pride.There is even earlier visual documentation for London Pride: a painting of vivid color and veracity, titled in a bold hand above the flower image, "London Pride. J. Fisher, 1820." Reverend Jonathan Fisher of Blue Hill, Maine included London Pride in an untitled notebook of watercolor sketches, now in the collection at his house, the Jonathan Fisher Memorial, Inc. Alice Winchester, in Versatile Yankee, The Art of Jonathan Fisher, 1768-1847 (1973), describes the watercolors as charming depictions of the particular in nature. Fisher's five-petalled London Pride is clearly today's Maltese Cross (Lychnis chalcedonica). Commentary for the London Pride plate in the book states:Another plant that might be found in a Maine garden, realistically rendered down to the meticulous detailing of touches of blue on the stamens and the highlights on the hairy stems.Via the intriguing folkways and science of nomenclature, one arrives at the conclusion that, in New England today, London Pride is Maltese Cross. The plant commonly seen has five petals, but the name that Earle ascribed to that form, Scarlet Lightning, has been replaced by Maltese Cross. Fisher, Earle, and Jewett, all New Englanders, have shown in word, watercolor, and photograph that their London Pride is Lychnis chalcedonica, the Maltese Cross currently propagated in nurseries.
London Pride is being reintroduced to the Jewett garden, which is open to the public along with her house. Van Berkum Nursery in Deerfield, New Hampshire--less than an hour's drive from the Jewett garden--often has Maltese Cross available. Their catalog entry for Lychnis chalcedonica makes no mention of London Pride, but it does give this accurate annotation:This is an old fashioned flower that grew in most of our grandmothers' gardens. Maltese Cross is easy to grow and has bright scarlet clusters of cross-like flowers that look elegant with its dark green foliage.