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Uncollected Stories
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MISS MANNING'S MINISTER

Sarah Orne Jewett

     The lilacs were in bloom at the time when this story begins, and before Miss Narcissa Manning's house there were four elderly groups of bushes, all in good health and covered with their purple plumes. Miss Manning always said that it was the pleasantest time of the year to her. When she could first have the sitting-room windows open all day long and the scent of the lilacs blew into the room it seemed as if she had the world before her and could begin life all over again.

     On this last Sunday in May the apple blossoms were making the garden and orchard look as if it were a gala day, and the robins flew about and bees kept up a steady humming as if they must be busy every minute; for who could tell how long such good weather might last?

     It was between meetings on Sunday, and Miss Manning sat by one of the front windows with her Bible in her lap. She had eaten the cold lunch with which she commonly served herself on Summer Sundays; but in Winter when she had to have a fire at any rate, she thought, contrary to Puritan tradition, it was no harm to warm whatever food she might happen to have; and she was obliged to confess that she always enjoyed the afternoon sermon more if she had a good, warm dinner. To-day, however, she was glad not to heat up the house; and after she had put away the few plates in an orderly pile she took the family Bible and proceeded to re-read a certain passage in the Apocrypha which the minister had read that morning and which had seemed strangely secular and interesting. The congregation had pricked up its ears and wondered what the new parson would do next. Old Mr. Raynor, whose pastorate had been abruptly terminated at the end of its forty-first year by his sudden death, had almost always read either one of the Psalms or a chapter of the New Testament at the beginning of the service. At any rate he had never made such an excursion as this into the apocryphal borderland of semi-profane literature.

     Miss Manning had felt that she was enjoying a great treat in listening to the meditations upon friendship in the sixth chapter of Ecclesiasticus. The new minister's voice was most pleasant to her ears; he was still slightly tinctured with youthful enthusiasm, though the truth must be told that he was well advanced in the forties. He had gone to India as a missionary in his youth and had stayed there working more or less valiantly for a dozen years until his health suffered, and also his zeal. He came to see that he was learning too much from his heathen acquaintances to continue at all its points the warfare he had hoped to accomplish, and he longed more and more to see his native country. He cared little for the authority he wielded, or for any notoriety as a missionary in the religious magazines and newspapers which came back to him across the sea. And as for receiving travelers of English speaking nations, and as for his long journeys in the wilting heat, and as for being at the beck and call of argument-loving natives of theological bent, he was tired to death with them all. He thanked God for the few followers who had rallied to the standard, and who wept over him as he bade them farewell, but told himself that his place was in his own country. He gave wise advice and much friendly caution to the young preacher of the word who had been appointed to take his place as be showed him the neat chapel and parsonage which had been built under his own reign, and he wished that he might make the poor fellow understand at the beginning how wise it was not to expect too much either from yourself or other people. He ventured to say that the only chance of success was to put yourself as nearly as possible into your parishoners' places; for it was next to impossible that they should always see life from your standpoint. The zealous young man took little note of this. Converting the heathen seemed to him a glorious mission in life, as indeed it is; but the preachers are few to whom the deaf will listen. Human nature is the same the world over, and much of the surface of the human mind is waste and stony ground wherein no seed will grow, and the water of a shifting sea of carelessness and indecision for the right covers much of its space.

     As the Reverend Edward Taylor went home he laid many plans for his future. He had never cared so much to be useful or to find his proper place. He sadly smiled as he remembered the almost absurd sentimentalism of the church service which had preceded his departure, and how certain ladies of his acquaintance had wept and bewailed him as if he might be murdered by savages before their eyes. To tell the truth he had looked forward to a different India from that which he had really found; but he wondered none the less how America would appear to him on his return. He had some sermons which he told himself he should not be ashamed to preach in any pulpit; and he thought his years of experience in ministerial life in a foreign land ought to help him in his own.

     He had spent the first few months after his return in partial idleness, which had been most trying; for be was homeless, and the few relations he had were out of his reach, and the acquaintances he had left seemed more like strangers. His visions of a city pastorate had never been very clear, and when, after some time, he had been presented as candidate to the First Congregational church in an inland Connecticut town, and had been invited unanimously to become its minister, he felt that he was a very fortunate man. The parish fund had been well endowed by former parishioners, as the good old custom used to be, and the salary, was an uncommonly generous one. The parsonage was a somewhat imposing house with a gambrel roof; and in old Mr. Raynor's study he put up his own book shelves, and felt more at home in two days than he had in all his years in India. He thought of one and another classmate, and wrote to them, and even visited his distant relatives, and had asked all the old friends he could discover to visit him; and so, as time went on, he did not want for guests, since he also took a great interest in the social affairs of his people.

     But he never had married; and so far as he knew he never meant to. He had never loved any one. and he was not made unhappy by a solitary life. The good woman who kept his house, as well as many of the good women of the town, could not understand this, and were sure that from the ample resources of his congregation he would in course of time select a companion. He was still young looking, and the children even found that his looks did not belie him; and with his fine sonorous voice and earnestness in pulpit duties, and his fresh interest in everyday affairs and ready sympathy, he was certainly a most attractive man. He had put new life into the parish, as was said over and over again. There was no flagging in the monthly mission meetings now, the Sunday-school concerts were replete with anecdotes, the ladies of the parish were excited to good works, and it was surprising how little hindrance bad weather offered to church going, especially among the women.

     There was nobody to whom all this gave better satisfaction than to Miss Manning. Her life had always been too dull by far to suit her taste; but she was not possessed of the necessary energy of character which could force her to break away from her old associations. She really had a capacity for greater things than simple housekeeping. But in her youth it seemed impossible to change the order of circumstances, since she was an only child and first her father and afterward her mother had suffered long and lingering illnesses, in which they became entirely dependent upon her care and protection. Now that she was fifty years old she went on with her daily duties from force of habit; but there was no house in Rinston better kept and no garden that yielded a more satisfactory tribute of fruits and flowers. She had a sufficient amount of money to make her secure against want, although she was not a rich woman. She sometimes was tired of her life; but not often, though it seemed to her as if she had already lived on in the same fashion for a hundred years at least, and there was every probability of its continuing for another century.

     She read the Apocrypha that Sunday noon with much more eagerness than she had ever done, and turned over its pages with great curiosity. It was so much more like other books than the rest of the Bible that it had appeared to her in her young days as if it were hardly the thing to be read on Sunday; and indeed she had almost forgotten of late years how beautiful it was in many respects, though she had a private reservation of opinion that much of it was quite improper, and should have been suffered to decay and disappear with time. The great family Bible was out for the first occasion in several years, for a smaller copy answered her usual needs much better; but she turned the leaves of the great volume with much reverence and read the records of births and deaths with new interest. "I remember my aunt Narcissa as an old woman," she thought. "She was only two years older than I am now." And Miss Manning gave a little sigh and went to smooth her hair and put her bonnet on again; for the bell would soon ring for the afternoon service.

     It may have been the Spring weather and it may have been that she had read too much of the Apocrypha, but whatever the reason was, our heroine felt very sleepy. She dashed cold water over her face and roused herself with some effort; but when the blinds were closed and still the call to church was not sounded from the steeple she thought she would walk down into the garden and take a look at the flower-beds and the vegetables. The season was late; but she was certain that such hot sunshine must quicken the belated seeds. Presently she returned, well satisfied with having had a sight of the cracked soil around the bean poles and a pale sprout or two which had really pierced the ground; and her favorite mignonette was also up, making a thin trail of pale green along the border. Miss Manning stooped to gather a sprig of striped-leaf thyme of most reviving odor; and then she went on her way after locking her house carefully. The bell rang and held its peace and afterward tolled, and though she was belated she sat in her accustomed seat and at first patiently and then impatiently awaited the coming of the minister, who for some reason or other failed to appear.

     The people at length grew restless, and while their elders looked confused and anxious the young people laughed and thought it was a great joke. It was whispered through the congregation that Susan Allen, Mr. Taylor's housekeeper, was away that day at the funeral of a cousin, and that Mr. Taylor must be alone and might be ill for all anybody knew; and at length the two deacons after signaling at each other solemnly in virtue of their office, rose and went down their respective aisles and journeyed seriously toward the parsonage.

     They knocked at the door; but no answer came, and at length the elder deacon lifted the latch and entered. There was a door at the opposite end of the hall which led into the garden; and this was half open and gave a glimpse of the well-kept path with its box-bordering, which led straight down to a Summerhouse at the end. The searchers looked, one to the righthand room and one to the left and then to the garden door to discover the minister lying on the gravel walk in the hot Spring sunshine with his face downward, as if he had fallen dead.

     He was raised up, and the two old men tenderly carried him into the house, before one of them hurried to find the doctor and to alarm the parish of this sudden disaster. The sorrowing people clustered about the house, and tried eagerly to get a look at the stricken man. It was thought he must be dead; but at last the doctor, who had been at some distance outside the village, came to his aid and cleared the house speedily, and put him to bed, giving only the poor comfort that it was a stroke of paralysis and that he could not tell what the end might be.

     So for the next few days there was great anxiety and excitement in town, and both the people of his own parish and comparative strangers bewailed their common misfortune. The parsonage was the center of interest, and deputations from almost every family were sent to make inquiries and to proffer assistance. But Deacon Eller's wife and the minister's housekeeper took matters into their own hands, and after a time and under the plea of keeping the house quiet, nobody except the watchers and Jonas Peters, who had had some experience in nursing, were allowed to come in - Jonas Peters being Miss Manning's factotum, and a mysterious person to his townsfolk by whom he was believed to be a deserter from an English regiment which years before had been stationed in Canada.

     The Summer days came at last, and the lilac blossoms and apple blossoms of that Sunday so memorable in Rinston's history had faded and fallen long before. The small green fruit of the orchards began to show itself, and still the minister lay in a half conscious state, as if his spirit hovered between life and death and could not choose its way. The inquiries for him became less and less frequent, and in course of time, after having submitted to the vacated pulpit's being supplied with very poor preachers, and being assured by the doctor that it would be a long time before Mr. Taylor could be restored to activity, if that ever happened, the parish took steps to fill his place. It was a sorrowful thing altogether to see a man so cut down in the midst of his usefulness, and it began to be whispered about the town that Mr. Taylor had no income except his salary, and that he had drawn the next quarter's allowance in advance, having needed many books, and made some necessary alterations in the parsonage at his own expense besides.

     It was difficult to know what to do. One of the candidates at last proved acceptable, and he was a man with a large family, who wished to enter upon his duties as soon as possible. There was a parish meeting called, at which it was proposed to vote that the invalid be maintained for the present at the expense of the fund; but there was some opposition to this, for the amount must be balanced by increased subscriptions. One old man inquired if the minister had no friends who could support him; but it was answered that investigation had lately been made, and no one could be found except some cousins in the Western country, who represented themselves to be little acquainted with their afflicted relative and to be unable to spare anything for his assistance from their limited means. No one liked to propose that the minister should be sent to the almshouse, and there fell a deep silence over the assembly.

     There was a little company of women at one side of the room, though they usually instructed their husbands and fathers at home and did not attend the parish meetings in person. But this one seemed so far out of the common course of things that they could not make up their minds to stay away. The vestry was well filled for once, and the people looked at each other and waited for something to happen.

     Suddenly a voice broke the silence, and everybody turned toward it curiously. "I'm not one that wants to speak in meeting nor that wants to put myself forward. I came to say what I've got to say, at any rate; but I declare I am ashamed that nobody feels any more interest than has been shown in that poor, sick man. You keep repeating that he hadn't been settled here long; but I must say that when I think how he put his heart into his work, I, for one, am ready to take the will for the deed; and as for haggling about paying his board I'll tell you once for all that there won't be a mite of need of it. I am going to take him home to my house to-morrow morning, and I shall do the best I can for him as long as I live, and esteem it a privilege."

     There was a murmur of half disapproval and half admiration as Miss Manning sat down and covered her face with her hand. She was flushed with excitement and anger, and her neighbors could not believe that it was the usually shy and quiet woman who had spoken with so much spirit. One of the deacons rose and said that he thought their esteemed sister had been a little hasty in her judgment. They had only wished to consider what would be the best thing, and had hoped to hear the opinions of those who were present. He, for one, would be deeply distressed to be found wanting in charity, and he should try to set aside a portion of the small share of goods which had been allotted him for the benefit of his suffering pastor. He further thought they had better wait a short time and learn from Miss Manning the amount of expense incurred, and then make some arrangement as to sharing it with her. Of course the parish would hold itself responsible for the debts incurred so far during the illness. There was a feeling of relief and satisfaction, and the report was made of the new pastor's acceptance of his duties for the ensuing year and the meeting broke up. Miss Narcissa Manning went quickly down the steps and walked away up the street alone, although she was usually glad to have company and to talk things over. She was still much excited; and yet she had a strange sense of satisfaction and content in the thought of her new occupation. It had seemed to her as if she were living an idle life, and as if it were not worth while for her to go on year after year with her round of duties and her housekeeping, all to so little purpose.

     Now she had a motive power; for her existence was necessary to the well-being of somebody else, and she felt as if she had at last found her vocation. She remembered a sermon that Mr. Taylor had preached that Spring from the text "With both hands earnestly"; and it was a great pleasure now to try to put his teachings into practice for his own good.

     Early next day in the cool of the morning the minister was brought over to his new quarters. He seemed brighter and looked stronger than he had done before, though his pallor and thinness were more apparent out in the sunshine than in his darkened room. Miss Manning walked alongside, and when he looked at her questioningly, being still unable to speak, she nodded her head at him smilingly as if they had already a secret understanding. He gave a quick sigh of content when he was at last laid on the wide couch in the sunny front room which had been made ready for him, and in all Miss Narcissa's life afterward she never forgot the look of gratitude in his eyes.

     The neighbors were by no means crestfallen after the first few minutes that followed Miss Manning's public rebuke of their stinginess and their slowness of action in so good a cause. They accepted her solution of the problem, and said to each other that they thought it was just the thing. She had plenty of time and few responsibilities, and every body would take hold to help her. But the good woman's virtue was its own reward, and indeed she had no other. She was busier and happier than she had been for many years before. With Jonas to help her she needed no assistance from anybody else; and between them they made the sick man very comfortable. It was found that he had been sunstruck amongst his various East Indian experiences and the sudden paralytic seizure was connected with that, in part. Though nobody thought at first that he could live, he slowly, by means of unsuspected vitality, regained a partial use of his arms, and even a clumsy and almost unintelligible fashion of speech. People might laugh a little at Miss Manning, and say that she behaved like a hen with one chicken, but they had only to see how the minister's thankful eyes followed her about. She was a prosaic looking little woman, of stout build and round, comfortable face. She looked you straight in the eyes when she spoke. There was an honesty and steadfastness in her looks which made everybody trust her, laugh at her old-fashioned ways, and shrink from her plain speech, as they might. There was a touch of sentimentality about her which made her name more fitting than would appear on first acquaintance, and in her care of the helpless parson this came into full bloom. It was not a Narcissa in looks, but in actions, who saw the beauty of her deeds reflected in his gratified sense of comfort. Her flowers were grown for him, and her daintiest devices of cookery and housekeeping were offered him day by day by unwearied hands. She strove diligently to anticipate every want, and after he could speak she tried to save him the mortification of the sound of his voice so changed and spoiled. She remembered a great many times how the clear tones of it had sounded through the old meeting-house. She took the family Bible to read the now familiar passage from the Apocrypha more than once. The minister preached more convincingly in the pathos of his patient silence and endurance than he had done in his best sermon, and he became every day a greater hero to his guardian and hostess, who invested him with the credit of the best examples she knew of courage and power in the missionary field, and was sure that he could tell more amazing stories if he had chosen. It seemed to her that there never had been a finer preacher or a better man.

     Little by little he regained his old interest in life, and presently it became Miss Manning's duty and pleasure to read aloud to him during some part of every day; and between his looks of approval and disapproval, his few words fitly though painfully spoken, she became interested in books and literature in a way that opened a wider horizon to her than she had ever dreamed to be in existence. She felt that her life now was more satisfactory than she had ever hoped for - and as she told her guest once for all when he had begged to know if the doctor thought he must always be helpless and dependent - that she owed him, even in his feebleness, more than she could ever repay, and that nothing could hurt her feelings so much as his ever again mentioning the subject.

     But for all this the proud spirit of the man was more and more chafed by his forced submission to Miss Manning's rule and bounty, however kindly and devotedly given they might be. She was wonderfully gifted with tact; her heart was too sensitive to the comfort of those she loved to allow her to do, even unconsciously, many things that would annoy. Her only care was to make her pensioner happy; and so this good woman swept and sewed, and tended her flowers, and smiled when she looked at him, while he felt more and more restless in his enforced idleness, and longed for a day to dawn when he might be free.

     It was a great step toward this when a city physician of high renown happened to be called to Rinston and heard the sad story of the Reverend Edward Taylor. He exclaimed with interest that it must be his own classmate and volunteered to visit him that very morning. When Miss Manning came in from a long quest of the carpenter, she was much heated and quite depressed, having found that she must wait many days for some important repairs to the eaves-gutters of her house.

     She went up-stairs at once to carry the mail - a copy of the Missionary Herald and two circulars - and she found her charge looking more excited and pleased than she had remembered ever to have seen him. He told her that the doctor, his old friend, had given him much encouragement; that marvelous cures were made in such cases as his by electricity (which word Miss Narcissa was a cruelly long time in understanding), and that he was going to a small hospital in New York as soon as his friend could make arrangements and telegraph him.

     She tried to [to to] enter into his joy; but it was a great shock and strain. She went down-stairs to the darkened front parlor in which she seldom sat, and cried as if her heart would break; for it seemed as if she were losing everything she had in the world. She had been so happy; but the fact remained that he hailed his deliverance with joy. He had simply endured what it had been the delight and glory of her life to give. Yet how could she have such selfish thoughts when her best friend was, perhaps, going to take up his useful work again, and be again a live man among men. He was not yet fifty and still had the look of a young man, while she herself, a few years older, felt like an elderly woman, whose life was behind her and not before.

     It was a strange little procession that crept along the main street on its way to the railway station a few days afterward. The kind surgeon had sent a stretcher on which his friend was easily carried into the car itself, and as he went along the street with patient Miss Narcissa along side, after an absence of so many months, he felt like a monk, who had come out of his cloister. The elms were growing green about the church, and the parsonage door stood wide open, with the new minister's children playing about the steps. One or two persons spoke to him, and all watched him curiously, and Miss Narcissa with her small traveling bag in her hand looked wistfully in their faces as they congratulated Mr. Taylor on his probable recovery. They wondered, if they noticed her at all, if she had no hope of it. They little knew the sorrowful thoughts which would rise up in her heart and for which she as often reproached herself.

     He said when she left him in the quiet hospital ward that he had no words to thank her for all that she had done; but she said simply that there was no need, the same old answer that she had made many times before. He held her hand closely for a minute, and, moved by an irresistible impulse, she stooped and kissed his forehead lightly as if he were lying there dead, and then turned quickly and hurried away. And to the Reverend Edward Taylor's mind there came the words of the Apostle Paul: "Charity suffereth long and is kind; envieth not; vaunteth not itself; is not puffed up; doth not behave itself unseemingly; seeketh not her own; thinketh no evil." He felt suddenly ashamed of his own life; it seemed to lie like a desert plain beneath her mountain of simple goodness. And even the coming of the physicians did not banish her from his mind as she disappeared through the distant doorway. He told himself that if he were ever fit for anything again he would make every effort to repay her kindness. He somehow had never reflected upon her loneliness, and he wondered if there would be anybody thoughtful enough to go to see her that evening on her return to her empty house.

     Several persons stopped to ask her as she walked home from the station that evening how Mr. Taylor had borne his journey; and she lingered to talk with them in a way that was unusual with her. She put off going to her solitary home until the last minute, and even then she stopped to look at the four lilac trees that were just in full bloom then. She had taken a little branch into the house to show to the minister only the day before.

     There were a good many friends to come in to see her that evening, and she received them thankfully and was always ready to tell everybody the good news she had from New York from time to time. At last the minister himself came walking in to pay her a short visit. He hobbled slowly with the aid of a stout cane; but he was marvelously improved, and was eager to talk over his plans for the next year. He had been offered a position in one of the missionary societies, and he meant to accept it, as the physicians thought him unlikely, so far as they could see, to suffer a repetition of his illness. It was very strange to see him moving about like other people, and Miss Manning listened to his well-chosen, though slowly-spoken sentences, with great satisfaction. He seemed full of hope and declared himself more eager to work than ever. He hoped to preach in his old pulpit again before many months.

     But he seemed no longer a part of the lonely housekeeper; and there was, strange to say, a little constraint between the two who had been so long familiar with all each other's concerns. There was, however, a real bond of the best sort of friendship between them; for each had been both giver and receiver. There can be no true friendship or true love without this. And Miss Manning saw presently that the man was more grateful than he had ever been even in his helplessness, and forgave him even the impatience to be at liberty which had grown with his returning strength. It was only her womanly, home-loving instinct, and her craving for somebody to live for and take care of, that had been hurt by his eager breaking away. And soon she rejoiced to see him as he said, "alive again."

     There were many persons in the first Congregational Parish who had joked a great deal about Miss Manning's falling in love with the minister, and they were at a loss to understand the non-fulfillment of their prophecies. But one month after another went by and there seemed to be no sign of Mr. Taylor's return; so that when the expected news was told at last it caused great astonishment. For one day when Miss Narcissa was busy in her garden in the Spring following the minister's departure she heard a step on the path, and remarked without turning her head, thinking it was Jonas, that he had better dig around the currant bushes.

     But there was no response, and having finished planting her mignonette seeds the good woman rose from her knees stiffly and found her companion was Mr. Taylor.

     "I was just thinking of you!" she exclaimed, and then felt somewhat confused and began to talk faster than ever to hide her confusion.

     "I had a commission to execute with the branch society in Boston," the minister explained, "and I thought it would be pleasant to take a look at Rinston at this season of the year"; and at this point he also became confused. But he soon told her his true errand in straightforward language. "I find that I cannot be happy without you, Narcissa." And there was a solemn silence, which was presently broken by an energetic robin, who began a famous chirping in one of the trees near by, as if he had long been looking for this event and was ready with his congratulations.

     "Do you really want a plain old woman like me?" asked Miss Manning, after awhile, with an admiring look at her lover but the answer was more than satisfactory, and as they walked slowly to the house, she looked around the garden and said that her good fortune had always come to her with the Spring.

     It all happened in the best of time; for the new railroad which took its way through Rinston had marked its course through Miss Manning's small property, and she often told herself and the minister that she should have been most desolate to be homeless and to have nobody to look to. The townspeople made themselves merry enough over the sober love making, and some were even unwise enough to smile at Miss Narcissa's suiting her formerly brisk pace to the slow steps of her husband in more ways than one, but the truth remained that there was not a happier couple in Rinston, old or young; and so they began life anew in their later years, and Miss Narcissa proudly became the minister's bride.

     She often told him that she had felt from the first as if they belonged to each other, and the hardest day of her life was when he left her to go to the hospital. I need not say that our heroine never repented her choice. She was one of the many women who must have something or other to shower their care and affection upon. And she was more than suited with her returned missionary, her admired scholar and her more or less dependent invalid. To many young persons of her acquaintance it seemed a most prosaic arrangement; but Miss Manning often quoted a bit of apocryphal wisdom to herself; for had she not proved the minister first and taken him, though, she was at peace with many, for her one counsellor among a thousand.



Notes

"Miss Manning's Minister" first appeared in The Independent (35:1082-1084), August 23, 1883. It was collected in Richard Cary, Uncollected Stories of Sarah Orne Jewett, 1971. This text is based on Cary.
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the world before her:  John Milton (1608-1674) ends Paradise Lost (1667) with these lines:
    The World was all before them, where to choose
    Their place of rest. . . .
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Puritan tradition: The fourth of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 forbids laboring on the Sabbath or day of rest.
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Apocrypha: A group of books included as canonical in the bible by Catholic and Orthodox Christians, but not by Protestants.
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sixth chapter of Ecclesiasticus: Sometimes called "The Wisdom of Sirach," the first half of this book contains proverbs on friendship, the second half on wisdom.
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stony ground wherein no seed will grow water of a shifting sea: See Matthew 13 for the parable of the sower. The metaphor of the shifting sea may allude to Isaiah 11:6-9, which ends, "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea."
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Edward Taylor: The minister is named after a famous American Puritan minister & poet, Edward Taylor (c. 1642 - 1729).
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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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Rinston: Almost certainly a fictional village.
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mignonette: a garden annual with yellow-green blossoms, R. odorata.
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wants to speak in meeting: I Corinthians 34-5 admonishes the Corinthians to forbid women speaking in church and instructs women to ask their husbands questions at home if they wish to learn anything.
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with both hands earnestly: See Micah 7:2.
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everybody: the original text is not consistent in spelling this as one or two words.
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meeting-house: In New England, a Protestant church.
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Missionary Herald: The Baptist denomination published The Missionary Herald in London from 1819 to 1911. Like sister publications in other parts of the world, such as India, the Herald contained news of Christian missionary activities in various parts of the world.
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cures by electricity: The use of electricity for its supposed curative properties was called "Galvanism," which is defined in the 1913 Webster's unabridged dictionary as "the branch of physical science which treats of dynamical electricity, or the properties and effects of electrical currents." Harvey Green in The Light of the Home (1983) mentions a popular text on the topic: A Practical Treatise on the Medical and Surgical Uses of Electricity Including Localized and General Electricalization (1871). Research assistance: Gabe Heller.
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Apostle Paul Charity suffereth long: See 1 Corinthians 13:3-4.
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her one counsellor among a thousand: See Ecclesiasticus 6:6.
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Edited and annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College.


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