THE BECKET GIRLS' TREE
Sarah Orne Jewett
It had been a great while to wait before Christmas seemed even near at hand; for Johnny and Jess Parsons had been making plans about it since late in the Summer. One must have something to look forward to, after Fourth of July is a thing of the past; and both the children's birthdays came in the Spring. As for Thanksgiving, they liked it well enough; but they had already grown used to having the inevitable turkey for dinner and to having old Mrs. Peters, who was both deaf and cross, for their only guest. She was a cousin of their mother's mother, and a lone woman, who had seen better days; and Mrs. Parsons always took great pains to be polite to her; and put the children on their best behavior whenever she came to the house. Anybody would have thought it was their worst by the way the old lady scowled at them over her great silver-bowed spectacles with the green side-lights, and asked if they were fond of their books, and if they knew how much they had to be thankful for. When the dinner was well under way, Mrs. Peters became more mellow and better satisfied with life, and seemed to enjoy herself; but there was always a feeling of great relief when the day was over and she had gone away, and had made her little speech about its probably being the last time, and that she wished she could return their hospitality. Poor old soul! She was, indeed, very sad and lonely. The children themselves had never been half so frolicsome as she was once. But her years and her sorrows had dried her up, little by little; and she was gray and withered as a lilac bush in Winter.
Now, all this has been told about Thanksgiving so that you would understand that the cheerful holiday was made into a very solemn occasion for these two young friends; and, therefore, they looked forward most eagerly to the day when they felt sure of a good time, which was sure to be merry and full of surprises. The Summer before they had both saved a good deal of money. Johnny had grown to be such a tall fellow that he could manage a dory by himself capitally well; and so he had often taken out small parties of people from the hotel, which was only a mile away on the other side of the point. He had caught cunners and lobsters likewise, and had put ten dollars in the bank on the first of October, besides buying himself a new suit of clothes throughout for Winter. He meant to add enough to the money in the bank next season to buy himself a trig sail-boat the year following, when he felt that his fortune would be as good as made, since he could take out large parties for longer excursions, and would also be strong enough to go away on fishing trips with his Father and the other men alongshore. After the clothes were bought he had a dollar and seventy cents; and this sum was still unbroken except by the thirty cents which he had been forced to pay for a "Mental Arithmetic," which he cordially hated. But the dollar and forty cents was thriftily laid by for Christmas; and Johnny had guarded it carefully, even expecting his Mother to furnish the cent a week which it was considered proper to carry to Sunday-school, and the new writing-book which he had needed at the beginning of the Winter term at the district school.
And as for Jess; what had not Jess done to earn her money? She had picked berries chiefly, and carried them to the boarding houses; and she had even gone lobstering with John; and had shared the profits. They were very fond of each other; for, until the last year, they had never thought of playing with any one else. It was a long way to the school-house, and most of the scholars lived at some distance beyond. Neither Johnny nor Jess were very fond of going to school; but they were very good scholars in another way; for they were quick to learn a great many useful things that were not written in their books. The only teacher they had ever cared much about was a Sunday-school teacher; and they had seen her only two or three times, when she had been boarding by the sea the Summer before, and had come to the plain little meeting-house, where they went to church, and had taken their class while Ann Donnell, who usually taught it, was away. Somehow she had taught them a great deal. They had felt ever since as if they knew a good deal more than they used; and they were looking forward eagerly to Miss Thomas's coming back the next season. She had engaged a room in one of the houses, at any rate, and the children had had a note from her and some picture-papers, which had delighted them very much.
But nothing has been said yet about the Becket girls; and, since it was their Christmas tree which the story is written about, it must be told, they were the Parsons' nearest neighbors, that they lived in a very nice, two-story house, with a gambrel roof and three dormer windows in it, looking out to sea, and that they were not girls at all. In fact they were both over seventy; but they had lived alone by themselves since they were eighteen or twenty, and they had always been called the Becket girls; and there never had seemed to be any good reason for calling them anything else. They had a good farm, for that part of the country, and it had always been let out to a neighboring farmer on the halves; but, within the last few years, since the hotel was built and so many strangers had come to Eastpoint, they had sold a good many building lots, in a worthless pasture next the sea, and were growing rich without taking much trouble about it. They went away from home very little, and they didn't even keep a cow nowadays, while the Parsons did; so Jess or John went every morning early to carry them a little pail of milk, and always, once a week, there was the money to bring back, wrapped in a bit of paper and counted exactly right. They were both very small women, with dark hair, which had scarcely grown gray at all. They were very good-natured and always had a kind word for their little neighbors, and yet John always felt that they did not like to have him come in with his muddy boots; though sometimes they were not muddy at all. They bought berries from Jess; and sometimes they went berrying themselves, and were as merry as crickets about it, in their two prim gingham sunbonnets. Jess always liked to find places for them where the blueberries were as thick as spatters; and they told each other more than once that she was an excellent little girl, and they meant to do well by her one of those days. Jess had a very different feeling about them when she met them out in the pastures; for they always seemed to be making a holiday and to be glad of companionship; but when they came to the door, to take the milk, she always felt a little afraid of them; and as for going into the kitchen or the sitting-room, it was quite a ceremonious occasion.
It came at last to be the Monday before Christmas - only two days before the great delight (for Christmas that year fell on Wednesday); and our friends could hardly wait for it. It was snowing so fast that they were both in the house, which was a disappointment to begin with, as their father had promised to take them to the Port to spend their money and see the Christmas things in the shops. However, there was one day more; and the children whispered together and laughed a good deal, and John brought in two old hoops that belonged to lobster-traps, and a great ball of cord, and began to rig them. His father had gone away early to the fish-houses, and Mrs. Parsons was busy about her morning work. There was no use in trying to wash in that weather; so she had begun to make some mince-pies, which was very pleasant for John and Jess. The little girl was helping as well as she could, and had already whispered to her mother to ask if she might make two turnovers for herself and Johnny, with handsome top crusts, which question had been answered favorably. John was whistling as hard as he could, without much regard to time or tune; and sometimes Jessie whistled too, until Mrs. Parsons declared they were worse than cat-birds in a quarrel. The snow clicked against the windows, and there was a crackling fire in the stove. Mrs. Parsons stepped quickly to and fro, and stirred and rolled and pounded by turns, while Jessie chopped some apples in a wooden tray.
Suddenly they heard somebody outside knocking the snow off his feet, and Mr. Parsons came in, looking much excited.
"John Sands brought over a letter from the post-office," he told his wife. "They want you to come right over to Gloucester as quick as ever you can get there. They expect your brother's wife won't live any time at all, and she has set her mind on seeing you. Henry wrote the letter; and he seems all broke down; says it's hard to get proper help and he is sore troubled and don't know which way to look."
"Dear! dear!" said Mrs. Parsons, wiping her floury hands and taking the letter; but her eyes were so full of tears she couldn't read it. "To think of poor Sarah Ann dead this minute, for all we can tell! You read it; will you? You've sensed it already, and I'm sure I couldn't. It's come all of a sudden."
But the good woman could not find patience to listen, and suddenly interrupted, to wonder who was looking after the children at that busy time of year. And within five minutes she went into the bedroom to dress, where she laid her husband's clothes out on the bed, also, to be ready for him when he came back with the neighbor's horse which was to carry them four miles that stormy day to the railway station.
Jessie's mother was in a great hurry; but she found time to tell the little girl that she must keep house, and that she might mix the turnovers and bake them and put away the rest of the mince-meat into a stone jar.
"There's all that nice pie crust. It does seem too bad!" the good woman groaned. "And I meant to have it extra nice. You can bake it up into short-cakes, Jess; or, I shouldn't wonder if you could make the pies. You've got to learn some time!" and after a few directions, given in the midst of packing her carpet bag and running upstairs and down while her husband dressed himself, she put a great shawl over her head to keep the snow from spoiling her bonnet, and went out to the sleigh, talking all the while, and stopping the horse to tell the children to be careful of fire when she was already some distance from the house. There was no knowing when they would return; and Johnny and Jess watched their father and mother, first from the door and afterward from the window, until they were out of sight. John had expected at first to go to the Port and drive the horse back; but his father had announced that the owner's wife was at the Port herself, and expected to be sent for that day or the next; so the conveyance could be left at her brother's.
It seemed, when our friends turned away from the window at last, as if a great deal had happened; and they found it hard to settle down again to their work; but there were the mince-pies to be baked at once, if they were ever going to be baked; and Jess finished chopping the apples and mixed the great concoction with a feeling of immense responsibility. Indeed, she would not make all that paste into short-cakes; not she! And she rolled it thin and covered the pie-plates and filled them, as she had watched her Mother do a great many times, and felt as if she were an experienced housekeeper. It was past dinner time before she finished; and she had forgotten the turnovers. But it must be confessed that three of the pies had been failures, and were either scorched to death all over, or one edge was ruined at any rate. So Jessie selected the worst-looking one and cut it in equal halves. Most of the pies looked, as she proudly heard John say, as handsome as her Mother's, and when dinner time came, neither of the children could find fault with the taste. But after the dishes were cleared away it still snowed fast, and neither of our friends could look forward with any satisfaction to the lonely afternoon. They did not, in the least, mind staying by themselves; but after the excitement of their mother's going was over, life seemed very dull. Their father had said that he should not return before Christmas night, at any rate, and perhaps not before Thursday. Even if their Aunt had not died, he had meant to go to Gloucester on business about that time, and he might possibly take the cars to Boston, to see a man there who carried on the fish business, and from whom he had lately received a letter.
Jess cleared away the dishes and John helped her wipe them and put them away, dancing a great deal as he did it; and then she sat down with her brother and helped him with the lobster traps. Suddenly John said, ruefully: "It's all spoilt about our Christmas tree!"
Jess laid down the twine and looked at him in dismay; for they had not even thought to tell their Mother of the pleasure she had lost. Before the snow came the two young folks had hunted about a half wooded pasture in the neighborhood until they had found a little spruce tree of just the right size and shape, and, if they had gone to the Port with their father that day, they would have bought presents and candles and all sorts of things, as long as their money held out, to hang upon the spruce tree's branches. You may imagine what a disappointment it all was. Jess had some presents already stowed away. She had crocheted a tidy for her mother and a comforter for her father, without their knowledge; but besides these, the brother and sister had planned other gifts far more to be admired, and had meant to make their father and mother say that they never had such a Christmas tree or spent such a Christmas since they could remember. To tell the truth there never had been but one Christmas tree in that part of the country; and that had been at the Sunday-school. But alas! the young minister who arranged the great occasion had gone away after preaching at Eastpoint only a few months.
"I'll tell you what we might do," said Jessie, doubtfully. "I don't believe the Becket girls ever saw a tree in their lives. You know how they asked us about the one at the meeting-house, and said they wished they had been there, because they had always read about it in books."
"Ki-yi!" said John, jumping up from his chair and upsetting all the clutter of the lobster traps. "We'll have the Christmas tree for them, sure as you live! I know they would let us put it up in the kitchen, while they stay in the sitting-room till it's ready; and we'll light it all up before they come out. It'll scare them about to death with all the candles and the shiny things. I mean to go over in the pasture right away and bring that spruce tree home. I don't care anything about the snow; and tomorrow we'll start after breakfast and go to the Port and get all the presents. The roads will get trodden. I don't believe it's going to snow much more, anyway. I believe the west is all clear!" and he sprang to the window; but the west was as full of snow-flakes as all the rest of the sky.
It would take too long to tell the whole story of the next day, which was Tuesday. How John and Jess tramped through the soft snow four miles to the Port - no, it was only three miles; for they were offered a lift on a horse sled the last mile of the way - and were lucky enough to find Aaron Ellis just returning with his empty fish cart, or pung, as they called it, when they had spent all their money and were somewhat wearily starting toward home with both their pockets full and their arms laden with bundles. The shops had been filled with people, and the Christmas goods were all a bewildering glitter at first, and everything seemed to be made for smaller children than the Becket girls; but they had found a workbasket for one, and a little plaid shoulder shawl for the other, besides a big handkerchief with General Washington's picture on it for each. They did not notice until too late that each handkerchief had "For a Good Boy" on it, in plain print letters; but they thought nobody would mind the mistake. The Misses Becket had a pitcher with Washington's portrait on one side, of which they thought everything.
After these gifts were bought there was not a great deal of money left for the decorations out of Johnny's dollar and forty cents; but Jess had had a dollar and five cents; and this went a long way. The shawl had cost most, for that was seventy-five cents; but, after all, they bought some gilt balls and shiny tin things, and a dozen little colored candles and their fixtures, and some candy, and then went home rejoicing. They did not know how they could wait until the next night; and indeed they were sure that Christmas eve was the proper time; but the spruce tree had to be brought, and it was growing on its sturdy stem at that very minute when our friends reached home; and it was four o'clock in the Winter afternoon.
So they ate another of the mince-pies with a scorched top, and spent the evening making further plans. John had brought an armful of oat straw from the barn, and was tying up little sheaves of it for the birds' Christmas dinner, at Jessie's request; for she had been much pleased at an account of some Norwegian children who did the same thing. She was only afraid that the oats were too dry and old; for they had stayed in the barn a year or two, since one Summer when her Father had kept a horse while he was driving a fish wagon to the Port. She was busy herself stringing corn that had been popped into magnificent white kernels, and making long lines of it to twine about the Becket girls' tree.
Christmas morning dawned bright and clear; and John had milked the cow and Jess had gone up the road with the little pail, keeping her secret gallantly and wishing Miss Lydia Becket a Merry Christmas, and saying good-bye as if she were not going to see her again for a day or two. John himself had hurried away to the pasture, armed with a hatchet. It was a hard walk he had through the loose snow; but at last he came proudly home, dragging the slain tree after him. Somehow it did not look so tall and fine as it had before it was cut. It was small and thin, to tell the truth; and they had to give it a good shaking and stand it in the corner of the kitchen before the branches would spread out again and look as they should. At last - though John and Jess thought the time never would come - they started out just as the darkness had settled down, the boy carrying the tree and Jess tugging with both hands at a great basket into which they had packed all the Christmas presents.
As they neared the gambrel-roofed house their hearts were beating with excitement; and they soon saw the light twinkling through the kitchen window, as if it were beckoning them to hurry. They gave a loud rap at the side door, and John stamped furiously to get the snow off, and was just going to knock again louder than before when the door was opened. Miss Lydia Becket stood within and looked at her two eager guests with great wonder.
"We came to bring you a Christmas tree," said Jessie, after waiting for John to say something. "We were going to have it at our house, and then Father and Mother had to go away, you know; and - and - we thought perhaps you would like it."
Such an emergency had never arisen before in Miss Lydia's experience; and for a minute she looked dismayed; but she soon recovered herself and entered fully into the spirit of the occasion. "I'm sure we're very much obliged," she said. "Ann, here's a surprise party, John and Jessie Parsons with a Christmas tree." And while Miss Ann Becket (who was older and somewhat more to be feared) came toward the little group, her sister was taking the children's part. "I'm sure they are very kind; aren't they? We've never seen one; and it'll be a great treat.''
Miss Ann looked at them through her spectacles, and seemed more pleased than the children had ever seen her, which was a great satisfaction. She closed the door, which nobody had thought of doing; and not even looking at John's boots, led the way into the warm kitchen, where the supper table stood in the floor. The kitchen was a large room where there were houseplants, and a great fire in the fireplace, where Miss Ann and Miss Lydia still did their cooking in spite of stoves and other new inventions.
"Now I will tell you what is the best thing," said Miss Lydia, looking as merry as a girl. "You sit right down with us and have some tea, and then you can have your play afterward, and do what you've a mind to." And the children did not require much urging, though they had at least made believe to eat some supper at home before they came.
It really was a most delightful party; and the old ladies enjoyed it as much as John and Jessie. Miss Ann, herself, brought out a jar of preserved plums, and there was a Christmas cake, at any rate, which the sisters said they always made. It had been lonely at home; for the children could not remember that both their Father and Mother had ever been away so long before; and after supper was over and cleared away, with which Jess helped amazingly, the great delight of arranging the tree was begun.
At supper time Miss Lydia had said more than once that, if they had only known they were going to have company, tea should have been served in the sitting-room; and it was decided that the children should carry the tree there and the mysterious basket and do anything they chose, since they had promised not to hurt the carpet. They locked the door after them, with great solemnity, and began to work like beavers. The tree looked much smaller than they expected in the high walled sitting-room, and they had forgotten to make any arrangements for its standing up; but at last John pulled some strong cord from his pocket and fastened the little spruce into a heavy old three-cornered arm-chair, making it fast with repeated lashings and knots.
Before long they had twisted the last wire of the last candle to the topmost twig and had lighted them and hung all the presents to the branches, and then the expectant Becket girls were ushered in. They both said they had never seen anything prettier. They hovered over the Christmas tree, partly with delight and curiosity, and partly on account of their fear that the little candles would set the house on fire. The candy bags looked most inviting, and the balls, covered with gold and silver and red tinsel, glistened and shone like fireworks, and the pop corn looked like snow, while Jess had, with much toil, prepared four egg-shells by first blowing out the yolks and then putting on curious shapes of colored paper with flour paste, and hanging them to the tree with ribbons. She had meant one for each of the party; but John had kindly said she might keep his for herself.
At last the candles burnt down so far that they had to be blown out; and then the gifts were offered. These were a great success; and even the Washington handkerchiefs were well received; and Miss Ann went upstairs to bring down two Lafayette handkerchiefs, which she and her sister had had ever since they were little girls; and she told the children how she had seen the great man himself; for she had been staying at her Aunt's in Salem when he passed through during his last visit to America, and she had walked in procession and worn a badge with "Welcome Lafayette" on it; and the General had patted her cheek and shaken hands with her and said something in French to the gentleman who stood beside him. "I have always wished I knew what it was," said the old lady, blushing a little.
The children had a great surprise. When they came to count the little packages of presents there were too many; and both John and Jess discovered some that were marked with their names. The Becket girls had used their time to good purpose while the sitting-room door was locked; for they had hunted among their treasures and found a famous pocket-knife, with many blades which had once belonged to their brother; and this was for John, while Jess had a purse which was only a little worn, and inside it she found a silver thimble which Miss Lydia had outgrown, and which fitted her exactly. The purse had a bright half dollar in it, and there was also a half dollar for John; and two little round paper bundles were found to contain pound-cakes such as they knew the old ladies only offered their guests on high state occasions. How Miss Becket and Miss Lydia had managed to smuggle them in their young guests could not imagine; but were none the less grateful.
Such a blazing fire as there was in the Franklin stove; and the old ladies looked bright and young, and were even a great deal pleasanter than when they went blueberrying. They laughed and talked, and had dressed themselves in their very best afternoon dresses; and Miss Lydia had put on her watch. Both the children could sing; and they remembered almost all of the Christmas hymns Mr. Willis, the young minister, had taught the Sunday-school at the time of the great Christmas tree, from which this one was copied. The Misses Becket folded their hands in their laps and beat time with the ends of their fingers, as they listened to "While Shepherds Watched their flocks by Night," and "God Rest you Merry Gentlemen!" and "Carol, Joyfully"; and, although Johnny did not wish to sing at first, he soon lost fear and tuned up amazingly. I dare say he would have whistled for the company if he had had the least encouragement. And afterward Miss Ann asked if they could not repeat some poetry; and both the children made their bows and spoke the pieces they had learned for the last day of school.
Then, to everybody's astonishment, the tall clock in the corner struck nine, and it was time to go home; for there was some distance to walk. The tree was left where it was and everybody looked forward to seeing it next day. The old ladies insisted upon standing in the door in the cold to watch their guests go away; and when they shut the door one went into the kitchen and one into the sitting-room, and each held a light at a window unbeknownst to the other; and they wondered if the children were warm enough and if they were not afraid, while the hardy young creatures capered away in the starlight without a shiver or a look behind.
Miss Ann and Miss Lydia had to sit up some time later than usual to talk it all over. They hardly ever had any one come in of an evening, and it was pleasant to see the children; for they had no young relations at all. "I thought I should give up when I saw that green and yellow shawl," said the older sister. "I've got shawls enough now to put one on the back of every stone in the pasture. But there. Itshows their good feeling, and it is a nice size, and I shall make all the use of it I can. I declare I don't know when we have had such an evening. The little girl is going to be a good deal of company for us, as she grows up; and we must do what we can for them. The Parsons are good, kind neighbors. They must have gone a good ways after that tree. I don't recall any spruce about here, unless it's [its] way over toward Lawton's."
"Didn't they like it, though?" said John, triumphantly, throwing a crumbling ball of the light snow at the top of a barberry bush. "They said they never saw anything to match it. We'll give 'em one next year that'll touch the top of the room!"
"Why, I do believe there's mother!" exclaimed Jess; for suddenly, as they came near the house, they heard the sound of sleigh-bells close at hand; and presently, the sleigh itself appeared around the turn of the road. Mrs. Parsons was much astonished to see the children abroad at that time of the night; and while their father made the borrowed horse comfortable in the barn, and John hurried to make a fire in the kitchen stove, she explained that their Aunt was so much better, she was sitting up when they got to Gloucester, and they came home as soon as possible; only the train had been late, and their Father would stop at the Port to buy some presents for his girl and boy, since he did not have time in Boston. Besides a sled for John, and a hood and pair of best gloves for Jessie and some peppermint candy, a book had come for each of them through the post-office, from Miss Thomas. They thought they never should wish to go to bed, and that there never had been such a Christmas. The only regret was that their father and mother had not reached home in season to see the Becket girls' tree. "Oh! they were sopleased!" Jess said over and over again. "And it was the best Christmas I ever saw!"
"Yes," said her Mother. "You will find out better the older you grow that the way to have a good time yourself is to make somebody else have one."
But I had almost forgotten to tell what the children gave each other. John's gift was a foot-rule, which he had long been wishing for and had spoken of more and more as Christmas approached; but he was greatly surprised for all that, when he found it in a piece of newspaper, hidden among the branches of the little tree. He had kindly bestowed a paint-box upon Jess, which she enjoyed all the rest of the Winter, and deeply deplored after all the colors had been mixed at once, when she left it out in the rain one pleasant day in the Spring.
"The Becket Girls' Tree" first appeared in The Independent (36:27-29), January 3, 1884, and was collected in Richard Cary, Uncollected Stories of Sarah Orne Jewett, 1971. This text is based on Cary.
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Christmas: Celebration of the birth of Christ in Christian cultures, usually between 25 December and 6 January.
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Fourth of July: United States national holiday celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence on 4 July 1776.
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Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving is an annual holiday celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November. It originated in three days of prayer and feasting by the Plymouth colonists in 1621, although an earlier thanksgiving was offered in prayer alone by members of the Berkeley plantation near present-day Charles City, Va., on Dec. 4, 1619. The first national Thanksgiving Day, proclaimed by President George Washington, was celebrated on Nov. 26, 1789. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln made it an annual holiday to be commemorated on the last Thursday in November (Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia).
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cunners: A cunner is a small, salt-water food fish found along the coast of eastern North America.
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"Mental Arithmetic": This was a somewhat common title for elementary mathematical school texts in the 19th Century. An example would be: James B. Thomson, Mental Arithmetic, Or, First Lessons in Numbers for Children, which was printed in many editions.
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gambrel roof: a curved or hipped roof in the United States; so named because of the resemblance of its curve to the angle of a horse's hind leg, from which the term is derived. (Source: Oxford English Dictionary).
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cat-birds: Probably the Gray Catbird, named because its characteristic call note is a cat-like mew.
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Gloucester: A seaport in northern Massachusetts.
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the cars: railway cars.
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General Washington: (1732-1799), commander of the American Revolutionary Army and first president of the United States (1789-1797).
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Lafayette … Salem … last visit to America: The Marquis and Marquise de Lafayette visited the United States, including Berwick, in 1825. Jewett mentions his visit to Mrs. Cushing in "The Old Town of Berwick." Salem is a seaport in Massachusetts, north of Boston. See two accounts of the 1825 visit by General Lafayette to Madam Cushing in South Berwick and the Charles Cushing Hobbs Talk.
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Franklin stove: type of wood-burning stove, invented by Benjamin Franklin (c. 1740). The Franklin stove burned wood on a grate and had sliding doors that could be used to control the draft (flow of air) through it. Because the stove was relatively small, it could be installed in a large fireplace or used free-standing in the middle of a room by connecting it to a flue. Its design influenced the potbellied stove. (Source: Britannica Online; research, Barbara Martens)
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"While Shepherds Watched their flocks by Night," …"God Rest you Merry Gentlemen!" … "Carol, Joyfully": "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks" is a Christmas hymn based on the announcement of the birth of Christ in Luke 2:10-14. Lyrics by Nahum Tate (1652-1715) and melody by George F. Handel (1685-1759). It begins:
While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around,
And glory shone around.
"Fear not!" said he, for mighty dread
Had seized their troubled mind.
"Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind
To you and all mankind.
"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" is a traditional English Christmas hymn that begins:
God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day;
To save us all from Satan's power when we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy;
O tidings of comfort and joy.
"Carol Joyfully" may be "Carol, Merrily," also called "Carol, Brothers, Carol," a traditional English carol that begins:
"Carol, brothers, carol,
Carol the good tidings,
And pray a gladsome Christmas
For all your fellow-men:
Carol, brothers, carol,
Christmas Day again."
Research: Gabe Heller.
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barberry bush: "A shrub (Berberis vulgaris) found native in Europe and N. America, with spiny shoots, and pendulous racemes of small yellow flowers, succeeded by oblong, red, sharply acid berries; the bark yields a bright yellow dye." (Source: Oxford English Dictionary).
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Edited and annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College.
If you find errors or items needing annotation, pleae contact the site manager.