An illustrated text
A FINANCIAL FAILURE:
THE STORY OF A NEW ENGLAND WOOING
Sarah Orne Jewett
The day's business of the old County Savings Bank was nearly done. Mr. Pendell the treasurer and his three assistants were busy making up their accounts. Mr. Pendell was a methodical old-fashioned business man who did most of his writing at a plain high desk, where he stood leaning on one elbow hour after hour, with no apparent fatigue. As for the three younger men, they were seated at more or less ornate roll-top desks; two of these clerks were Mr. Downs and Mr. Hathaway, reliable accountants, and both in the later twenties of their age. At the least elegant of the desks, with his face toward the street sat Jonas Dyer, a young, good-looking, country fellow, whose round face had never known an anxious furrow until he came to his junior clerkship a few weeks before.
He was a poor lad himself as to this world's wealth, and of late had been forwarded in life by an old uncle who was senior director of the bank. Jonas Dyer's mother was perfectly confident that he would be his uncle's heir, but old Mr. Dyer was of that spirit and temper of mind which sometimes results in large gifts to impersonal tract societies, and Jonas knew that a great deal might depend upon his own diligence and accuracy in accounts. He was slow at figures and slow with his pen, and he had by nature no gift for saving. It was fortunate that he had little to spend, otherwise there might have been clearer revelations of his generous traits. Everybody gave him congratulations enough on his good chance in the County Savings Bank, but nobody wasted sympathy on the caged heart of poor Jonas, who loved a free life and out-of-door air; he sometimes felt as if the new bank fittings and especially the handsome iron fret-work behind which he stood, all savored of the prison, and that during bank hours at least, he was a sorrowful captive. The other clerks were fond of their surroundings, and recognized, as time went on, a different spirit in their young associate. By some mysterious insight they were aware of the tone that Jonas' mother always took in laying his duty before him. She was a devoted mother, but she loved the exhorting sound of her own voice, and had talked so much to her growing boy that he had become stolidly reticent. Perhaps Downs and Hathaway had found their example in one of Mrs. Dyer's rare visits to the bank, when it may be suspected that she had come in merely to look upon her only son at his desk, trusted as he was with untold gold and on the highroad to fortune. There was nobody else there that day on the customers' side when Jonas timidly presented his mother to his three companions.
Old Mr. Pendell behaved with courteous dignity, inviting Mrs. Dyer to come in and sit down, while Jonas unfastened the wicket gate for her, and blushing red gave her his own chair. How fast the good woman did talk without knowing it! Jonas went ostentatiously into the great safe to divert her mind and show her how completely he felt at home, trying by the way to escape a direct look at Downs and Hathaway. To tell the truth, he was just 20 years old, and hardly felt as if he was 16.
"I tell Jonas," Mrs. Dyer was saying, "that there is a good deal to be proud of and grateful for in this situation. I know he's a good boy, if not so quick as some, and I advise him to be attentive and biddable to you, Mr. Pendell, and I want him to be constant at meetin' and to avoid worthless associates. I felt very anxious about him when he come away from home. He ain't no judgment what to eat -"
Jonas came bursting out of the safe with an expression of agony.
"I guess Mr. Pendell will let you come in and see where he keeps all his money," the poor boy told his mother, trying to behave as if there were a great joke going on. He did not look at the other fellows.
"I tell 'em up our way that there's nothing to prevent your filling your pockets unless 'tis your own honesty," the visitor said, and then happily became speechless as Jonas let her take one hurried look into the gold and silver drawers.
He was fond of his mother, but she insisted upon treating him like a boy, and since he had lived in towns among strangers he had begun to feel as if he were a man. The call was abruptly ended by the appearance of a friend who had brought Mrs. Dyer to town shopping.
Downs and Hathaway shook hands politely with the good woman, and seemed to take pleasure in accepting her kind invitation to come up with Jonas and stop awhile whenever they got leave. But alas! from this call much misery took rise; it was the delight of the elder clerks to treat Jonas as if he were both touchingly young and delicate of constitution.
They never went so far as to show the slightest disrespect in allusion to or quotation from the anxious mother; they simply adopted her solicitude about Jonas, who was seldom allowed in their presence to put on manly behavior. But if they did not chaff him about this they would be sure to find something else, and so, as they explained his bank work with unfailing patience, our hero bore their chaffing and mockery as best he might and with whatever bravery and unconcern he could muster.
Jonas stood beside his desk, facing the street in a moment of idleness; he was so tall that he could see over the mahogany railing that screened the bank interior from the glance of passers-by. It was cold weather outside, and he had a sense of snug warmth and his own privileged position, yet the thought crossed his mind that it would be a good day to go through a piece of woods and mark trees for chopping. There would be no wind in the woods; somehow he could not get over the habit of planning farm work.
At this moment he noticed an ancient covered chaise which belonged to the elderly farmer who was just arranging his financial business. Mr. Pendell himself liked to attend to some of the old bank customers, for there had been days when the County Savings Bank depended upon his services alone, and he was consequently trusted and respected by all the thrifty farmers of the region.
Under the cover of the carriage Jonas did not at first observe a fresh young country face; he looked at the shaggy strong old horse, used for plowing and as a roadster by turns, and calculated the probable age and worth of the good beast before he saw the bright eyes beyond.
Then a thrill of curiosity and pleasure such as he had never felt before pervaded his frame. He felt a new sense of wakefulness and cheerful alacrity. The girl in the buggy looked at him as he looked at her, and if the truth were known the eyes of Jonas were the first to turn away. Hathaway softly reminded him that it was business hours, and Jonas bent sideways limberly into the chair before his own desk. Hathaway rose for an instant to see what was interesting outside, but the pretty girl was in eclipse of the chaise top.
"Thinking of buying that colt?" inquired Hathaway, a good deal disappointed, and Jonas vaguely smiled. The old farmer and Mr. Pendell were conversing sedately. "Ain't raised the rate o' interest, have they?" asked the depositor with a smile.
"Directors think of lowering it another year," reported the cashier. "We can't pay 5 per cent if we don't get but 4. Savings bank securities come higher every year. Why don't you buy some bonds, Mr. Hayland?"
"The old County Savings Bank's always been good enough for me and my folks."
"You'd do better with your money by 2 per cent."
"Jim Hymore struck for 18 and ain't got nothin' to show for't. I expect you've heard tell o' his venture, ain't you?"
The cashier smiled and pushed the bank book in its much-thumbed envelope across the counter, and Mr. Hayland took some time to put it into a deep inner pocket and to button his coat over it. "Well, I've got my savin's where they'll be earnin' a little somethin'," he said, after his usual custom on such occasions. "There'd been more this time, but we've been fixin' up the meetin' house an' wife thought she ought to do same 's others. Well, I don't know but I felt the pleasure o' bein' able to gratify her. Good day."
"Good day, sir," responded the cashier. "Give my respects to Mrs. Hayland."
Jonas longed to take another look before the buggy was driven away, perhaps forever, but he was afraid of Hathaway.
"Who was that old gentleman, Hathaway?" he made bold to inquire, but Hathaway only scuffed an angry foot for answer, and began again at the foot of a long column of figures.
"That's Joel Hayland; he lives eight or nine miles down Oak Hill way - a good comfortable farmer, and as honest a man as I know." Mr. Pendell himself spoke warmly, and Jonas felt as much pleased as if he were listening to the praise of one of his own family.
Just then old Mr. Hayland and his daughter were going out of town well wrapped against the chilly wind, which luckily was well astern of the covered chaise.
"We shall have it nice an' comfortable goin' home, sha'n't we, Love?" asked the farmer. "Did you get all those things your mother wanted?"
"Yes, sir," said Love. "Seems to me there's something I haven't remembered, too. Who was it in the bank?" she added.
"Mr. Pendell, the cashier, a nice, good man he is wanted to be remembered to your mother."
"Oh, not Mr. Pendell; I know him," protested Love; "a younger man, I mean."
"I don't know 's I really took notice. There's two or three of 'em; a young Downs has been there a number o' years. Mr. Pendell gets right up what ever he's doin' an' tends to me himself. They say he don't do it for everybody."
"'Twas a tall, young-lookin' fellow," Love Hayland continued persuasively, but the old farmer shook his head. He had taken note of no one but his old friend, the cashier, and so home they went along the winding road through the snowless winter country. It was after Thanksgiving, and Mr. Hayland was two or three weeks later than usual with his semi-annual deposit. Although the northwest wind was behind them, the father and daughter were glad to find themselves in their own warm kitchen again. It was almost night when they got home. The day had been short and bleak, but Love came in with rosy cheeks and dancing eyes [and] a heartful of pleasure.
"I have had a real good ride," she said, "haven't you, father?"
"'Twas pleasanter than goin' alone," said the plain man, with unwonted gallantry. "I don't know but I like the road full as well in good weather. Mr. Pendell was civil and accommodatin' to me same's he always is, and sent his respects to you, mother. I see Abel Foster on the street, too, and he was glad to see me, and they meant to ride up to see us if that long spell o' rain hadn't hindered 'em. There wan't many on the street; 'twas a bad day."
Love looked at her father with surprise.
"I suppose you got me that set o' knittin' needles?" asked Mrs. Hayland, after looking over the packages that had been brought in.
"I declare, I forgot all about 'em, mother," said Love. "I left them till the last thing because we had to come by the store again, and father was in a hurry to get his bank business done. I got into the chaise after I did the other errands and - "
"Dear heart, 'taint such a great matter," said the kind little mother, with a sigh that Love could not hear. "Somebody'll soon be going again."
Presently Love disappeared, and took off her best woollen dress, and came back in a comfortable old one; but she had lingered to tie in a piece of red ribbon for a cravat, and she had looked out of the bedroom window toward town to see if she could discover the reflection of the new electric lights. The sky was very cloudy and dark, but she was pretty sure that a dim glow lighted the heavens in that direction. When she came down into the kitchen, her father and mother and Jacob Bean, the hired man, were already at supper. Love looked uncommonly pretty, and they all noticed her; the father and mother stole a pleased glance at one another.
"Seems to me as you've taken a good while to change your dress," said Mrs. Hayland, gently reproachful.
"It didn't seem long to me," answered Love, honestly. "I didn't know how late 'twas when we got home, it gets dark so early now. Why, I forgot ever so many things I've thought of buyin'. I shall have to go again quick as I can" (with a little blush).
"Come, draw up and have some o' this good warm supper, child," said the father. "I think the road's too plaguey rough to drive over again until snow comes. If you'd brought much more I shouldn't had a cent left to leave with Mr. Pendell.["]
"They weren't all my things," said Love. "Mother, I don't know but I ought to have me a new winter suit after all. Mine seemed to look a little past when I got among folks."
"I thought it looked pretty when you came down ready to go. 'Tis the bother o' getting it made," said the busy little woman. Love was still young for her age, and had never settled down into careful womanly ways, though she was already 19.
Jonas and Mr. Pendell were alone together in the bank one February morning. One of the other young men was away at his brother-in-law's funeral and Hathaway had been sent to Boston on a financial errand. Jonas wished that he could have had the variety of a journey to Boston. Sometimes he felt as if the irksome confinement of his business were telling upon his health and spirits, but he looked perfectly well, and unsympathetic friends still congratulated him on his excellent opportunity. The odor of bank bills became more and more unpleasant to him, and once or twice good Mr. Pendell had felt obliged to urge him to greater quickness - not accuracy - for our hero was much to be trusted in his figures.
His patron, the rich uncle, looked at him approvingly from under his shaggy suspicious eyebrows, as he went and came about his business or the bank meetings. Jonas lived with this uncle, who was a bachelor, and there was always plenty to do night and morning in the matter of household work, the housekeeper being amiable but decrepit, and the uncle held the opinion that a lad should be made to work as he had worked in his own youth.
Jonas was naturally of a domestic turn, and only varied his life now and then by occupying a back seat at an evening meeting. In the bank he sometimes felt important, and was upborne by the dignity of his position, but out of bank hours he was simply a clumsy, country fellow unused to town life. He often looked out of the bank window to see that old horse from Oak Hill, but he was never fortunate, though the two bright eyes that looked from under the chaise top still shone like stars in his thoughts.
Mr. Pendell was very busy that morning, and when the door was opened he nodded to Jonas, who had been busy paying and receiving all the morning. As the young man rose he saw the safe horse of his dreams fastened to a post in front of the window. There was an old high-backed sleigh now, with two good buffalo robes and plenty of bright straw.
Jonas recognized the quality of the straw and that a most uninteresting looking man held the reins. But the bank door was opened, and when Jonas turned there stood his pretty girl. He blushed and she blushed, and they stood looking at each other, but Jonas' business habits stood him in good stead.
He reached for the bank book, which was timidly proffered, but he dropped it twice and struck his head on the edge of the counter in trying to pick it up. Mr. Pendell looked up impatiently, and that made things worse. The bank book was issued 19 years before and the only amount credited was a sum placed to the owner's credit when she was a baby, by the old aunt for whom she was named. Interest had been added from time to time, so that the $100 was now a comfortable little sum. Love pushed a small roll of hills under the grating.
"I want to put this in, too," she said, and Jonas dipped his pen and made an entry of the date, and counted the money afterward and set down the amount.
"There's some back interest due you, but Mr. Downs isn't here today," said Jonas.
"Father said I could leave the book and call for it some other time. I shall have more to put in next month. I'm keeping school."
They blushed again. Hathaway had returned by an earlier train than was expected, and just then entered the bank but nobody noticed him, though Hathaway was quick to see the blushes.
"Won't it put you out if I leave it?"
"Not at all," said Jonas, with a truly grand air. "It's our business. Much snow down your way?"
"A good deal," answered the pretty girl, still blushing; and then they almost looked each other in the face again, but were happily saved the embarrassment.
"Is that all?" asked the girl with touching deference, and Jonas said that it was all, but they both felt as if they wished there were something more, and Love tiptoed out to the empty world of the sidewalk.
"You'd better go out an' untie her horse," suggested Hathaway, affectionately, but by means of this jeer Jonas gained one look after the fair depositor and reassured himself of her good looks, and that Jacob Bean, the elderly hired man, was not to be feared as a rival.
"That was old Mr. Hayland's girl that was here just before snow came," Jonas told his chief with great interest, for Mr. Pendell had spoken warmly of the farmer.
"Come, step round, Jonas, and get on with your work," urged the cashier. "Seems to me it's one of your numb days, and we've got to drive work. It's a bad time to spare Downs."
Even this rebuke did not destroy the junior clerk's sense of pleasure. He laid the clean bank book on Down's desk with a lingering touch. He wished that the proper place for it was on his own desk. Bank books had seemed alike uninteresting until that moment.
As for Love Hayland she had forgotten two of her mother's commissions this time instead of one, and was jogging home speechless with delight.
There was stormy weather late that winter, and the roads were drifted, then there came a long season of rain and thaw, while Love's book lay unclaimed in the safe. At last she appeared one Saturday morning in March, when the sun was shining like May, and the crows were thick and the road nearly bare of ice and snow all the way to town.
It was the first day that seemed like spring, and winter clothes were already too heavy. Spring was in the air and spring was in Love Hayland's look as she rode in the old chaise at her father's side, and waited while he tied the horse to a stone post in front of the bank. Then they went in together. The girl had no idea of letting anyone else do her business there.
Jonas had seen them drive up and was in a flutter of anticipation. He had the bravery to elbow Hathaway aside from the counter. Mr. Pendell and Joel Hayland were exchanging their usual friendly jokes and compliments. Joel had sold some of his young stock and had come to town with the money.
Mr. Pendell retreated presently to his high desk to make up an account of some sort, but active business still went on between Love and Jonas. It took a good while to credit her with that $20 for her month's school keeping, and to display and explain the unexpected amount of interest due her in arrears. Then there was a moment of silence except for the scratching of Hathaway's pen.
"Was you ever to Oak Hill?" Love asked Jonas sweetly, in the hearing of all present.
Joel Hayland turned with sudden alarm and took a good look at the junior clerk before he had time to speak.
"I expect you're old Jonas Dyer's nephew by your looks. I heard you were in the bank some time ago. Favor your uncle some, I see. Yes, call in if you're over our way. 'Taint so pleasant now as it will be later on; but the road is settlin' fast. Good day, Mr. Pendell; much obleeged to you sir."
The father and daughter departed and Jonas was conscious of that within him which would oblige him to knock down anybody who presumed to smile. As he turned round, however, nobody was smiling, there was an aspect of self-restraint, and pious gravity about both Hathaway and Downs; Mr. Pendell was in the safe, and if he openly laughed it was inaudible to the young men outside.
Jonas knew that misery was in store for him and fairly writhed at having been supposed to resemble his uncle. That close-fisted gentleman was perfectly unendurable of late, and our hero determined not to live like a toad under a barrow any longer.
There was [were] no end to the jokes that the two clerks made that day, but none of them had any reference to Oak Hill, or Jonas' journey in that direction. In one way the simplicity of Love's question had been a little painful, asked in public as it was, and yet he forgave the lack of maidenly reticence, for the sake of a delightful permission won from the father himself.
Uncle Jonas was perfectly capable of leaving all his money to the cause of foreign missions and disappointing his poor and worthy relatives of various degrees, but Jonas was glad to have the indorsement of such relationship.
"Was you ever to Pelham Four Corners," Hathaway asked Jonas as he came in next morning, but Jonas answered yes so meekly as he hung up his coat, that the allusion was pressed no further.
"When I was up to my brother-in-law's funeral this winter, I heard that there was a man by the name of Waters paying attention to the girl of Mr. Hayland's," said Downs, the head clerk. He was a soberer-minded man than [that] Hathaway, and seemed to speak truthfully. Jonas's heart stood still.
"Was there? What kind of man is he? She's a pretty girl." asked Hathaway.
"A kind of a seeking widower," answered Downs. "She's younger than he, about 45 per cent, and didn't favor him at first; but he's well off and the old folks help it on. Their farms join, I believe, and 'twill be a good thing all round. I was kind of surprised when they asked a good looking fellow like Jonas to call. You'd better not make any trouble, Jonas; but perhaps it's all settled and the old gentleman felt safe."
The next Sunday afternoon Jonas, out of his limited means, hired the smartest single turnout at the best livery stable in Dartford and drove toward Oak Hill. It was like April overhead, but the mud was deep underfoot and he had to walk his impetuous steed the greater part of the way. The day seemed to him perfectly beautiful, and when he was directed to the Hayland farm nobody can describe how pleasant and comfortable it looked.
It was joy enough to be out in the country after being cooped up so long in town. He had been promising to go to see his mother at the first opportunity. But he did not feel the least shame at this selfish use of a holiday. The Haylands' best wagon was in the side yard; they had evidently been to church in the morning, and now for the first time Jonas' heart began to beat in an awful and even retarding manner.
He could not tie the horse's hitch rein as it should be tied, the knot worked wrong, and he grew redder and redder, and did not dare to look up at the house windows. Then the door opened and hospitabIe JoeI Hayland came out and welcomed him, and they went into the house together.
There was Love in her Sunday dress, as pretty as a pink, and Mrs. Hayland was motherly and good natured. She had heard about Jonas from somebody who lived neighbor to his mother, and knew what a good steady boy he had always been, and that he was doing well in the bank now; nephew and namesake, too, of rich old Jonas Dyer of Dartford.
"We should be pleased to have you stop to supper, Mr. Dyer," she invited him kindly, but Jonas thought he ought to get back early. When he turned and looked at Love, however, he forgot time and space, and when they proceeded to speak at length of the state of the roads he felt himself to be entertained indeed, and the last of the long spring afternoon flew by on fleetest wings.
There was a very fresh little fire in the prim best room. Others might have found the wide low storied kitchen a pleasanter and more airy place to sit, but Jonas and Love had already reached that stage of interest which demands seclusion, and there they sat until the sun was low.
It was not art that allured them in the shape of a portrait of Daniel Webster and the Landing of the Pilgrims on the parlor walls; it was not luxury, for the hair cloth sofa had stiff springs and sloped forward at a strange angle. What they talked about was also of a secondary consideration; it was enough for Love that she talked to Jonas and for Jonas that Love listened to his words.
When they came out, trying hard to appear as if it were an every day visit, Mrs. Hayland stood at the side of the window after parting with the blushing young visitor, and remarked significantly to her husband:
"Joel, just as sure 's you're born them two's goin' to keep company."
"Let 'em have it their own way; they're both good child'n," answered Joel, with a sage smile.
Before the spring work began at Oak Hill Jonas announced to Mr. Pendell that he meant to resign his situation, and gave no reason for so doing. Mr. Pendell, who knew the reason from Joel Hayland himself, laid the serious matter before the directors on Monday morning. Jonas had not brooked his uncle's wrath at home by making a declaration of his ingratitude in proposing to leave so promising a financial career. The old man twisted himself about in his chair and looked very black at the first moment of surprise. Then Mr. Pendell said that he had some sympathy with Jonas' decision. The boy was willing and honest and did the best he could, but he was not made for bank work. He was after Joel Hayland's girl over at Oak Hill, and the old folks needed a young, smart man on the farm - it was a good thing all round.
"That's where the young dog's been going every Sunday then," said old Mr. Dyer, the uncle, with unexpected approval and sympathy. "They're good folks, and he might have done worse for himself. If Joel favors the match, I'll take hold and give Jonas a little start. I won't have anybody saying that the favor was all on her folks' side."
There was an amiable grumble of applause from the other directors, and the busy cashier at once proposed a sale of bonds which were reported shaky but rising in market value, and so the great question of the junior clerk's future was quickly solved. The young couple were married in early planting time, and however it may have appeared to other people, for them it was ever a miraculous and wonderful thing that they had fallen in love at first sight, and that their thoughts had always been of one another even while one was in the bank at Dartford and the other far away at Oak Hill.
That autumn Mr. Joel Hayland dreaded the long, cold drive to town, and sent the young people to that bank with his stout pocket book. Jonas had persuaded his father-in-law to make a safe investment in some county bonds, and went inside the bank railings to do a bit of writing. As he rose from his old desk he caught sight of Love, well wrapped and looking for him, expectantly, out of the old chaise. Their eyes met as they had met once before, and Jonas knew that she was his wife now, and yet he was still shy, she did look so pretty and so strange, not like anybody else. Perhaps the year was all a dream!
Hathaway was standing close by; lIathaway began to look a little old and blurred in the face, like a worn silver piece, and not so quick and gay as he used. He longed to say, "Was you ever to Oak Hill?" but Jonas had flocks and herds now, and wide acres were under his rule; though he was only 21, he was looked upon as a stable citizen and one of growing influence. Perhaps his size was in his favor; at any rate, the senior clerks had already more than once declared that his room was better than his company in the bank, he seemed some days to take up the whole floor.
"Call down and see us, boys," said Jonas, pulling on a new pair of great fur gloves. ["]You, too, Mr. Pendell; 'twould please Father Hayland right through; he was anxious I should make his respects to you. He's got some first-rate cider tapped. Well, come when you can, any of you. Good day!"
"Clever boy," said Mr. Pendell; "feels more comfortable where he is, doesn't he?" and at this the two clerks smiled assent.
"Jonas was never cut out for anything but a farmer. He feels crowded anywhere except in an open field," said Hathaway, bending over the neat pages of his great ledger.
Jonas and Love were driving out of town with the new horse as fast as the law allowed.
"My!" exclaimed Jonas; "it came over me when I was in the bank how I saw you setting out there that first day. I don't suppose you cared any to speak of about me, but I knew I hadn't got to look further."
"I'm not going to tell you again about that day," said Love laughing at him. "You know now just as well as I do. There never was two before that had less doubts, I feel sure of that!"
"Ain't it first-rate that folks can get married," said Jonas, soberly. "I never thought anything about it till I come to want you. Now just think o' there being a law o' the State that folks that wants each other can have each other for good an' all! It seemed queer when I begun to think about that"
"Don't you remember how I forgot mother's knittin' needles that very first day?" asked Love, shyly. "I didn't even know what your name was, and now here we are, ridin' home together."
"A Financial Failure: The Story of a New England Wooing" first appeared in The Boston Sunday Globe, December 7, 1890, p. 25, and then was reprinted in Comfort for All, 1891. Richard Cary included it in Uncollected Stories of Sarah Orne Jewett, 1971. Kathrine Aydelott has located a later reprinting in the Delphos, Ohio Daily Herald (12 January 1898). This text is based on the Sunday Globe, which was illustrated by an unknown artist. Click here to view the illustrations. Information about the artist would be welcome. The Globe text was difficult to copy; hence there are uncertainties at some points in this text, and Cary's text has been used as the authority for clearing these up. Apparent errors have been corrected and indicated with brackets. If you find errors or corrections or items needing annotation, please contact the site manager.
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tract societies: In the nineteenth-century United States, several religious organizations published tracts and pamphlets to spread their doctrines and attract converts. Perhaps the best-known in recent times is the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Jehovah's Witnesses, but in the nineteenth century, several sects and denominations had associated tract societies.
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iron fret-work: Until well into the twentieth century, the individual stations at which bank tellers worked were divided from the public by wrought-iron work, often very elaborate; the resulting space was called a "teller's cage" and was both a symbol of security and a line of demarcation between the bank's personnel and the public. (Research: Jeanne Collins).
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wicket gate: a small gate, either in a low railing or in a wrought-iron screen, that would afford a bank customer access to an area of desks or to a safe-deposit vault. (Research: Jeanne Collins).
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meetin': Protestant church service in New England.
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gold and silver drawers: money drawers in which gold and silver coins were kept before paper money became widely used. (Research: Jeanne Collins).
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mark trees for chopping: to blaze, or cut away a patch of bark with an ax or hatchet, to identify trees to be cut for firewood later. (Research: Jeanne Collins).
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bank book: A person's bank account would be recorded in an individual bank book or pass book. Later, with an increased use of personal checks, bank books came to be used mainly for savings accounts. (Research: Jeanne Collins).
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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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brother-in-law's: the original text reads "mother-in-law" here, but at the end of this chapter, Downs says this was his brother-in-law's funeral. Cary concurs in his text.
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buffalo robes: buffalo skin or robe used as a blanket.
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foreign missions: Christian missionary work outside the United States supported by religious denominations or by tract societies. (Research: Jeanne Collins).
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Jonas's: This text is inconsistent in forming the possessive with Jonas. I have left the text as it stands on this point.
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Dartford: Probably a fictional town.
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Daniel Webster and the Landing of the Pilgrims: "Daniel Webster, b. Salisbury, N.H., Jan. 18, 1782, d. Oct. 24, 1852, statesman, lawyer, and orator, was his era's foremost advocate of American nationalism." (Source: Grolier's Multimedia Encyclopedia). The Pilgrims were the original English settlers of Plymouth, Massachusetts, the first permanent colony in New England (1620). According to Britannica Online, "Of the 102 colonists, 35 were members of the English Separatist Church (radical faction of Puritanism) who had earlier fled to Leyden, the Netherlands, to escape persecution at home ... At a commemorative bicentennial celebration in 1820, orator Daniel Webster used the phrase Pilgrim Fathers, and the term became common usage thereafter." Both Webster and the landing of the Pilgrims were subjects of popular art in the nineteenth century. (Research assistance: Jeanne Collins).
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Edited and annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College,
with assistance of Jeanne C. Collins, Wordsworth Editing, Writing, & Design, P. O. Box 18154, Denver, CO 80218-0154.