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    One morning I went out riding early, and it was such nice weather that I took a favorite road and followed it for a long distance, meaning, however, to reach home in time for lunch. The time of year was September, and the weather had been too hot for riding much in the middle of the day, but when I found how cool and fresh it was, and how capitally my horse went, I was sorry I had not left word at home that I should go to see one of my friends who lived sixteen or seventeen miles away. I wished to see her particularly, for I had sent an unsatisfactory note to her the evening before about something which was more important than our affairs usually were. With my usual good luck, while I was thinking regretfully that I must turn homeward, I met a neighbor of ours, an old farmer, who was going home from the nearest town, where he went every day or two to market. We stopped and exchanged greetings.

     "Your horse takes the beauty off my old drudge," said he, pleasantly, "but I shouldn't wonder if old Fanny does better in the shafts than he would."

     I reached down to give old Fanny a bit of sugar, which she ate very slowly, looking very much puzzled and evidently trying to understand the new experience. I thought how often she had gone over that road in summer and winter weather, and wondered if there were ever such a shaggy, patient old creature -- she always seemed as good and steady and plodding as the farmer and his wife themselves. It is a great thing for even a horse to do its duty in the state of life to which it has pleased God to call it. Old Fanny was unconscious of the homage my heart was paying her, and moved forward a step or two by way of suggestion to the farmer that she thought of her early dinner, which was always ready for her when she got home from town.

     "Yes, indeed," said Mr. Denning, as he gave the reins a little pull, "I'll send word right over to your mother; be home to-morrow, you say?" and my horse, already impatient, scurried away down the road as fast as heart could wish.

     For a mile or two the way was through the woods. The lower branches of the trees often flicked their leaves against my face, and where it was shady, and the sun had not reached, everything was wet with the cold September dew, and the woods were as fresh and sweet as if it were a June morning and a shower had fallen in the night. The last few miles of my short journey were through the open country, and I stole some early apples from one tree and another that hung temptingly over the fences, and I stopped once or twice to pick some golden-rod, so when I reached my friend's house I had an armful that was glorious to behold, and the horse trotted up the avenue as if he were just let out of the stable.

     My friend looked out of her window and said good morning as if she were glad to see me.

     "I was wishing for you just now," said she. "Will you 'light?" and I said I did not mean to come so far when I started, but it was a perfect day for riding, and I met somebody by whom I could send word home.

     "I came very near going to meet you," said Bessie. "I was sure you would be out and I thought possibly you might drive over. It is a long time since you came on horseback. I wish I had been with you."

     The horse was led off and we went into the house, and upstairs to my friend's room. "I am so glad you came. Yes, your note was a grievance, and I have no end of questions for you in the answer to it, which is on my desk. I asked you to come over to-night, too. You know I spent Tuesday in Boston, and wasn't it odd that I should have met the Quiet Scholar?"

     I was much interested at once; for Bessie and I had been together only a day or two before that, and had been wondering what had become of this old schoolmate of ours. I believe we had neither of us thought of her before for a good while.

     "I think she tried at first to avoid me," said Bessie, "but she was very pleasant when I rushed at her, and really seemed very glad to see me. She asked for you and for some of the other girls, and told me that she had been living in Canada almost ever since she left school; but she has come now to live in Boston with an old aunt, and has been promised a place in one of the public schools in the Fall. She looked as distressed as ever, but I think she didn't look much older. You know she was always grave and prim. I thought she must be one of the teachers, the first time I saw her at school."

     "There was always something forlorn about her," said I. "She never seemed to have any one come to see her. This aunt must be the same one who sent her to school. I always liked her; but she was a shy thing; no one ever could get at her. I don't remember that we ever tried very hard."

     "It is lucky for you that we are the same size," said Bessie, laughing, as she gave me a gown to take the place of my habit. "I feel as if I were clothing the poor. Aren't you hungry after your ride? I'll have some claret and a biscuit brought up for you; lunch won't be ready for an hour yet."
     "I don't believe I shall be hungry even then," said I. "I took a great deal of fruit that was not mine as I came along the road. If I had seen only one apple I should have scorned the idea of stealing it, but there are so many this year. I think tramps have a right to branches that hang over."

     "People are always squabbling about line-trees," said Bessie, who was writing at the window.

     "Where did you get all these cardinal flowers?" I asked presently, for I found two great pitchers-full in the dressing-room, and Bessie said that she had forgotten them. She had been out on the river early that morning and came home with a deck-load.

     "I meant to carry them down-stairs," she said; "but I was in a hurry to send some letters by the mail. I have just written to your mother to ask her to send you your little square box. I told her you were going to stay two or three days."

     I hesitated for a minute, and then said that I should like it. There was no reason why I could not stay. We often exchanged short visits in the summer while we were neighbors.

     The letters were sent away to be posted, and Bessie and I sat down quietly for a talk. "I asked Eliza Thurlow to come here for a day or two," said she half apologetically; "and I had written you to come over. I was a little discouraged afterward. I felt as if I had posted a letter in a street box and wished I could get it out again. But she looked pale and tired and as if a change of air would do her good. I thought we could brighten her up a little. I remembered that she used to like being out of doors. She used to go off alone after wild-flowers to bring into the botany class. What made us hate botany so at school, do you suppose?"

     "I think it was very good of you," said I. "I don't doubt it was a perfect godsend to her. You are always doing kind things and being dreadfully ashamed of yourself." And Bessie blushed a little.

     "What was it about her father?" said she. "I tried to think while I was talking with her. I know that her mother is dead; but there was some mystery about her father. I think he was a great rascal, and had to keep out of the country. The girls used to say at school that her mother died of a broken heart. I suppose we should have known much more about Eliza if she had not been put into the French teacher's little room. There was a succession of ma'mselles that first year, too. I don't know when I have thought so much about those days as I have since I saw the Quiet Scholar."

     "That nickname certainly carries me back," said I. "Who gave it to her, do you remember? I know exactly how you looked that first time I saw you; and you wore a round hat trimmed with a brown pheasant's breast. I thought you were like Leslie Goldthwaite when she went to the mountains: she was my love just then."

     "I always liked Leslie," said Bessie. "We must read that book again some day when you are here. Haven't you forgotten most of the girls at Mrs. Rugby's? Eliza asked if I knew anything about two or three whom I haven't thought of in a great while. We met on the Common; I had just been over at the house. Her aunt lives in one of those little streets down on the hill back of Mt. Vernon Street, and she asked me to come to see her if she really wished it, and said it would be a great pleasure to her aunt -- who is a good deal of an invalid. I imagine Eliza is very comfortable there, else she would have tried to keep me away. But she was very shy at first, as I told you, and I had to tease her a good deal before she would promise to come here."

     "I wonder what it means," said I; "we had not thought of her for so long until last week, and now she has come to make part of our lives again."

     "I am very glad to have you both just now, at any rate," said Bessie as we went down to lunch. "Did I tell you that papa and Tom are both away? Don't you think it would be pleasant to go out on the river by and by? I shall not let you stay in the house if you have been riding all the morning. You needn't row at all if you don't feel like it, but I wish you to see the cardinals; they are in bloom very late this year and in some of the shady places there is a perfect blaze of them. They were like a red-coat regiment drawn up in line this morning, but now the tide is higher they will be wading up to their necks, I am afraid. They are much finer than those that grow in the wet fields. I wonder if they thrive in half-salt water?"

     "Perhaps the Quiet Scholar can tell us," said I -- and later we did go out in the boat and pulled lazily up the river and then drifted down again; we always have a very good time together, Bessie and I.

     The guest came just after six, and I was much more glad to see her than I expected to be. The old-friend feeling came to me suddenly, and when one sees a person for the first time in several years it brings back, more clearly than anything else, the thoughts and surroundings which one may have almost forgotten. It is not so much the person himself who pleases or pains you -- but he brings back your own old self of an earlier time. We talked all that evening about our school days, calling up old stories of our merry frolics and ingenious out-wittings of the teachers, and Bessie and I took it for granted that our friend had been in the midst of them; but sometimes that was by courtesy, for we had belonged to a much more frivolous set and lessons had usually been matters of minor importance. The Quiet Scholar (who seemed pleased when we called her by the old nickname, and its abbreviation of Q.S.) was known to be fitting herself to teach and had made a much better use of her time, and was often counted out of our plans though she was never disliked. I remember her being very kind to me once when I was sick, and I used to imagine -- being much given to novel-reading -- that she had a history and a secret.

     The comfort of Bessie's home seemed to give her great pleasure -- she was very appreciative -- and we were both touched at finding how well she had remembered us, and how often she had thought of us, while we had almost forgotten her. She seemed to look back at her school days with such clinging affection and interest that I thought she must have had few pleasant days since then; and she looked worn and anxious sometimes, as if life had not been easy, and her regrets and anxieties had out-numbered her pleasures. She told us most amusing stories of her life in Canada, and of her teaching a rough set of children in one of the smallest towns, where she had a capital chance to see Canadian life from the inside as well as the outside.

     Bessie and I said to each other next morning that Miss Thurlow looked already better. She was like a wilted plant after a shower that freshens and brightens it. We spent the whole day out of doors, for it was such fine weather. We went down the river in the morning and took our lunch with us, and later in the afternoon we had a long drive -- that is, Bessie drove her guest and I rode alongside. We went down to the sea, which was only a few miles away. It was the first time Miss Thurlow had seen the sea for years, and she showed almost childish pleasure all day long. She was in capital spirits, and acted as if some burden that was heavy on her mind had been lifted, or at any rate had been forgotten for the time. We were very happy because she was, and we saw everything through her eyes. It was easy to see that hers was not a dull and unsympathetic and limited nature, but that she had somehow been crushed and hindered and kept from her share of enjoyment. It seemed pitiful enough that, being so responsive and so quick to take pleasure, she should have so little of it. It was not a tiresome exclaiming and enthusiasm; but, as I have said, she showed such happiness that one could not help catching the spirit of it. We avoided saying anything that could suggest the discussion of her own affairs, and, except for the time we had been with her at school, she was completely a stranger, though we somehow felt more intimate with her than we ever had before.

     That second evening Bessie played to us for a long time after dinner. It had grown chilly out of doors, and we had a bright wood fire. I suddenly remembered that the Quiet Scholar used to be the star at school on those days when we used to recite poetry, and that she once said Shelley's "Skylark" in a way that won even our shallow minds and hearts. I brought that book from its shelf, and she seemed pleased that I should have remembered, and afterward asked if we liked Tennyson's ballad of the little "Revenge," which was new then, and she repeated it with great spirit. Her pale face flushed, and she looked like another person as she sat in the firelight with her eyes shining. She made those sentences her own though some one else had framed them. It is the old proverb, that one is never so confidential as when one addresses the whole world; and I could not help recognizing the loyalty and bravery and steadfastness under trial which made the soul of that quiet girl.

     We sat up very late; and as we went through the hall on our way upstairs Bessie laughed a little, and said her guest had been so charming that for once in her life she had forgotten to open the mail-bag which was lying on the hall-table. She looked over the letters quickly; they were mostly for her father and brother, but there were some for herself which she took, and the last one she gave to Miss Thurlow, who started and turned suddenly pale. I knew instinctively that the sight of it gave her great pain. Bessie did not notice her, for she went to the library to redirect her father's letters and put them into the bag again to be posted early in the morning. Miss Thurlow and I went upstairs together. I tried not to look at her, but her manner had entirely changed. She was evidently troubled by the letter: she seemed as she used in the old school days. I left her at the door of her room, for I was sure she wished to be alone; but in a few minutes Bessie came up and stopped to say good-night. I heard her open the door and go in, and presently she came to me looking puzzled.

     "That girl is crying as if her heart would break," said she. "I begged her to tell me what was the matter; but she shook her head and said she must go away as early in the morning as possible. She even asked me if she could go to-night; but I thought that was out of the question. Papa sometimes has driven across to the other railroad to catch a midnight train; but there would not be time for that. It must be nearly twelve already. I wish you would go to speak to her." But I found that the door was shut; and though I spoke once or twice she did not answer me.

     Bessie and I were much grieved at this ending, for we had been glad to think of her pleasure and had made some plans for the next day. We did not go to sleep for a long time and at last I was suddenly awakened by something pushing at my hand, and in a minute Bessie said sleepily, "Oh go away, Dash -- that's a good dog." It was her favorite dog -- a great white setter -- who always slept in the hall outside her door. He had a trick when he was younger of coming into her room at night, but he seldom did it then. Bessie always knew it was he and would reach out to pat him, when he would go away satisfied. But he would not go away that night; he seemed excited and worried, and came first to her and then to me as if he wished to tell us something.

     "What is it, Dash?" said Bessie, wide awake now, and we both listened, while the dog kept still and we heard a whistle and a little noise on the gravel under the window, and I hurried to listen. "Come down, I tell you," some one whispered, but there was no answer. Dash was growling beside me and saying as plainly as he knew how that he wished he could get out. "Suppose we do let him out," said Bessie, "and I will ring the stable bell and try to wake somebody there. I don't know what papa would say, but Brennan is the only man who sleeps in the house, and I told him he might go away to-night. He seemed very anxious about it. I told him to tell Holt I should ring if there were any trouble, and we will go down to the garden door and be ready to let him in." We both dressed hurriedly, and we were a good deal frightened. I heard a step under the window and listened there again. Miss Thurlow's room was on that side of the house, and I heard a blind creak as she opened it -- and some one again said, "Come down, I tell you, or I'll set the house on fire." Bessie was leaning over my shoulder, and I felt her shake a little, but she turned quickly and went straight to her guest's room, where I followed her. We met Miss Thurlow on the threshold.

     "Who was that? and what is the matter?" said Bessie. "I came very near sending the dog at him. Tell me what this all means." And the poor girl said, "God help me; it is my father." It was light enough to see that she had not even been lying down on the bed, and she seemed in perfect despair.

     "What does he want of you?" asked Bessie, and I knew she was quite herself again; her own fright had given place to a wish to protect her guest from this danger and trouble, whatever it was. "Tell him to go away and come back in the morning. If he threatens you, say that the family are already roused."

     "I thought he was in jail in Canada until I got a letter to-night," said the terror-stricken girl. "He has escaped and somehow he found I was here. He must have been at my poor old aunt's. He wishes me to let him in so he can rob the house. I don't even know if he is alone, but he must be desperate; he never did this before. Oh I wish I were dead, I wish I were dead," she cried most piteously.

     Bessie hurried downstairs at once, and in a minute I heard the bell at the stable ring again and again, and Dash, who had been keeping still for some reason best known to himself, began to bark loudly and run from one of the lower rooms to another. I heard some one run down the garden in a hurry, and next morning we saw his footsteps there deep in the flower-beds. Bessie let Dash out after a while and he chased about wildly and went off on the track, but luckily Bessie bethought herself in time, and called me to get the whistle from her watch chain and call him back.

     We tried to quiet Miss Thurlow, who was fairly beside herself with shame and fright. I do not think we suspected for an instant that she was her father's accomplice, which might have seemed possible, for her distress was genuine. We soon heard some one from the stable knocking at the door to see what was wanted; and Bessie told the man to keep watch about the house for a while -- we had heard footsteps and were frightened. I think Patrick would have liked to laugh a little if he had dared. But in the morning he was persuaded that it had been no idle fear.

    We heard nothing more that night. Patrick paraded faithfully about the grounds with Dash and the old mastiff, who was formidable to look at, but very deaf and sleepy, and I think there was another man beside. We heard them tramp about, and felt entirely protected. We had enough to think of in taking care of Miss Thurlow [Thurston], who was terribly excited. She begged us to forgive her and to let her go away, and we hardly knew what to do with her for a while; but at last she grew quieter, and it seemed to be a relief to her to tell us about her trouble. It was a long, sad story; the gossip at school had all been true; her father had been a rascal, who had gone steadily from bad to worse. Shame and sorrow had broken her mother's heart; and though from time to time he seasons of repentance, and his daughter had tried to trust him and keep him, she had always been disappointed, and found it was of no use. She had gone, against her aunt's wishes, to live with him in Canada, where he had been, or pretended to be, in a respectable business; but he was always a cheat and a marauder, smuggling and robbing and gambling -- nobody could tell the list of his crimes. At last, during one of his long absences, he had been caught and tried and put into jail for several years, and then Miss Thurlow had come back to her aunt, thinking herself safe for the time at least.

     "I would not let him disgrace my aunt more than I could help," said she, when we asked why she had stayed with him so long. "He insisted that I should not leave him; but if I had not taught and helped take care of myself I might have starved sometimes, I think. I always hated to touch his money; but my aunt was very kind to me. I only suspected most of his wrong-doings. He was always as pleasant to me as to other people; and I tried to remember always that he was my father, and I did try to be good to him and to help him. But I believe I would put the officers on his track now," said she with bitter anger. "He never will be better. It was too bad that he should follow me and threaten to burn this house if I did not let him in to rob it. I have done everything for him. He must be very desperate; but I hate him -- I hate him!"

     It seems that the letter had been sent to her in Boston, and that it had been remailed to her address at Bessie's. He told her in it that he was out of jail, and must have money; and she was afraid that before finding out where she was, and that the house was unprotected, he had troubled her aunt in some way; so she was in perfect misery. He must have been at the house, else he would not have known where to find her. "You do not think I would have let him in?" she said, looking at us beseechingly. "I would have given him all the money I had, and tried to make him go away. I was so afraid he might set the house on fire! Oh, he would do anything! I am so afraid of him now!" We tried to comfort the poor soul; but what comfort was there? for her future looked dark enough, and who knew what even the next day might bring? We promised that in every way we would be her friends; and it seemed to us that she never before had allowed herself to tell her troubles to any one; as if she had tried to cover them until it could be done no longer, and had anxiously kept her miserable secrets to herself until they had worn into her very soul and made her whole life shadowed and fearful. Her father had been in prison while she was at school, and she used to think the girls knew it. It was sad to think of her trying to hide and forget such a wretched secret and to act as if she had none; but how many people know how to pity her? [May be !]

     Just before daylight I had fallen asleep, and early in the morning one of the maids came running upstairs to tell us that there had been burglars around the house the night before. Bessie hurried in from Miss Thurlow's room, where she had been lying on the sofa. "Patrick says you were right, Miss Bessie; there are great tracks across the garden and footmarks under the window, and there is one of the thieves dead; they found him down under the railroad bridge just now, and he had fallen in the dark. Brennan was coming home and he saw him; it was a stranger; some officers were down in the village after him and they say he had got out of jail; he was a great thief, they say, Miss Bessie, and if it weren't for you hearing him we all would be murdered in our beds."

     "Hush, hush," said Bessie, "I don't want you to wake Miss Thurlow. I'm thankful I shut her door," said she to me: "luckily she has fallen asleep. Katy, will you tell Patrick that I want the little phaeton in half an hour and he must drive me down to the village."

     I kept watch by the guest, who slept uneasily, until Bessie came back. I was afraid she would wake up, but when Bessie came to the door and beckoned to me the light footsteps awakened her, and she started up, looking at us imploringly.

     Bessie hesitated a minute and then said bravely, "My dear girl, your father will never do you or himself any more harm -- he is dead!"

     I suppose the greatest sorrow was that he had been her father, and yet his death was a relief to her. She was grieved because she was not sorrier, yet it was a terrible shock, and she was a long time in getting over the effect of it. It was probable that he had been returning to the village and had made a misstep in the dark and the fall had killed him at once. There were some formalities of law to be gone through with, and Bessie offered to pay the bills for his burial, which surprised nobody, for hers is a most generous family, and it was supposed that she had been moved by the forlornness and friendlessness of the man. The newspapers said that he was reported to have a family in Canada; but the name he was known by was not his own, and I do not think his daughter's name was ever brought into connection with his. She had gone at once to her aunt, meaning to return directly, and Bessie went with her, but the strain and shock had been too great, so Bessie left her there and she was ill for days afterward. I think it was just as well that it was so.

     It would be hard to believe, if one did not see it so often, that one life could cast such a cloud over another, and take away almost all its sunshine and hinder and distress it. I believe I had a good lesson when I thought of it, that our lives make every life with which they come in contact more happy and useful or less so. It is seldom, perhaps, that so terrible a shadow as this is thrown, but we ought to take care not to throw any shadows, or to worry and fret people more than we can help. And if our sins are not the kind that others are in danger of copying, they still may be paining and shaming the people we love, and we ought to try to carry our burdens ourselves without forever talking about them, and making demands for sympathy. Sympathy must be a free gift and not an exaction.

     But in this darkened life strong self-control and self-sacrifice and self-reliance and trust in God had had time to grow, and nobody could regret the discipline who came to know the character that had been formed by it. I think one rarely finds a truer or a better friend than Bessie and I found in this Quiet Scholar, who had learned her lessons in so hard a school.

     It seemed to me as I went home that it had been longer than three days since I had ridden over to my friend's, and I thought about a great many things as I rode home again. It had been a strange chapter to come into one's every-day life.

     It was not very long ago that I saw Miss Thurlow in her own home, a pleasant, old-fashioned little house where she lives with her quaint, cheerful old aunt, who said that she could not imagine how she had lived so long alone without her niece. They seemed very fond of each other, and it was impossible not to see that a weight had been taken from both their minds, but we were all apparently unconscious of there having been so lately anything that was shocking and miserable. Miss Thurlow was brighter and prettier than I had ever seen her; she was teaching in a pleasant private school, and she told me what I already was sure of, that she saw Bessie often, and that she gave her a great many pleasures.


"The Quiet Scholar" appeared in The Christian Union 34:7  (August 17, 1881), 148-150. 

From "Notes," p. 147 of The Christian Union 34:7.
     A number of our most valued contributors unite to make the present number of the "Christian Union" especially attractive. Miss Jewett's charming study of "The Quiet Scholar" will be read with interest by all who admire her graceful style and delicate characterization. The paper by the Hon. Josiah Quincy shows, from practical experience, how workingmen may secure for themselves homes that are Independent of the tenement houses and of the exactions of usurious money-lenders. …

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to do its duty in the state of life to which it has pleased God to call it:  This idea appears often in Western literature, perhaps most importantly for Jewett in the Bible, Daniel 12:12-13, and in Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), "Self-Reliance " (1841), near the beginning, where he admonishes the reader to "Trust thyself  and to accept the place divine providence has found for you." Though not offered as one of the moral lessons of this adventure given at the end of the story, this idea turns out to be a theme as the narrator repeatedly hints that a force outside themselves draws the three young women together at a moment when they can benefit each other and, especially, help Eliza Thurlow at a time of crisis.  This idea also is prominent in the novel for young readers, A Summer in Leslie Goldthwaite's Life (1871) by Adeline Dutton Train Whitney (1824 – 1906), which is set in the resort towns of the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

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golden-rod: Wikipedia says: "Solidago, commonly called goldenrods, is a genus of about 100 to 120 species of flowering plants in the aster family, Asteraceae. Most are herbaceous perennial species found in open areas such as meadows, prairies, and savannas. They are mostly native to North America, including Mexico...."  Because there are so many varieties, it is difficult to know which specific flower Jewett refers to.  A common variety is "Solidago gigantea ... a North American plant species in the sunflower family. Its common names include tall goldenrod and giant goldenrod, in reference to its height of up to 2 m tall, rather large for the genus, smooth goldenrod and late goldenrod.  It is a widespread species known from most of non-arctic North America east of the Rocky Mountains."


Giant goldenrod
Courtesy of Wikipedia

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I feel as if I were clothing the poor:  This may be an allusion to Matthew 25: 31-6, about the Son of Man separating the sheep from the goats.

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cardinal flowers: Wikipedia says: Lobelia cardinalis ... is a species of Lobelia native to the Americas, from southeastern Canada south through the eastern and southwestern United States, Mexico and Central America to northern Colombia."  While the plant does not flourish especially near tidal streams, it does require reliably moist soil.

Cardinal flower

Image of Cardinal Flowers on the bank of Ichetucknee River, Columbia Co., Florida
Courtesy of Wikipedia

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I suppose we should have known>:  The newspaper text reads: I I suppose….

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We met on the Common; … one of those little streets down on the hill back of Mt. Vernon Street:  Boston Common is a 48 acre tract originally reserved in 1634 as pasture and training field.  According to Wikipedia, Mt. Vernon Street, a few blocks north of the Common, was developed in the 18th and 19th centuries to expand residential land in the Beacon Hill area of Boston and became known during that period as a street for wealthy home-owners.  The small streets on the hill in the middle and late 19th-century, however, were likely homes of African Americans and immigrants.

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a red-coat regiment:> :  In the United States, a "red-coat" is a British infantryman.

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if they thrive in half-salt water:  Like several of Jewett's excursion sketches of this period, this story is set along a tidal river like the Piscataqua in her home region of Maine, suggesting that Jewett's home village of South Berwick is the model for the narrator's starting point on this trip and that she probably is near a larger town, like Portsmouth, NH at the mouth of the Piscataqua, when she visits Bessie.  Bessie's home is rural and near the sea.  See Country By-Ways (1881) for several of these sketches.

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Shelley's "Skylark"Tennyson's ballad of the little "Revenge," which was new then: The British Romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) was the author of "To a Skylark" (1820). 
    Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809‑1892) published "The Revenge: A Ballad of the Fleet" in 1878. The Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia says, "Sir Richard Grenville, b. c.1542, d. Sept. 12, 1591, was an English naval hero in the service of Queen Elizabeth I. He was a cousin of Sir Walter Raleigh, and in 1585 he led the expedition that founded Raleigh's "Lost Colony" on Roanoke Island, N.C. In 1591, Grenville joined an English fleet intending to intercept Spanish treasure ships off the Azores. His ship, the Revenge, was separated from the rest and forced to engage a Spanish war fleet by itself. Grenville fought a heroic 15‑hour battle, but he was mortally wounded and his ship was captured."  The date of the poem suggests that Jewett imagines the story taking place in about 1878.

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It is the old proverb, that one is never so confidential as when one addresses the whole world: The origin of this proverb is unknown.  Jewett uses it in several in her works.  See also "Carlyle in America," an unpublished story likely composed in the early to middle 1880, and her letter to Vernon Lee of 17 March 1907.

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our lives ... more happy and useful or less so:  This moral nugget the narrator draws from these events is a key idea in White's A Summer in Leslie Goldthwaite's Life.

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Edited and annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College.
Manuscript preparation assistant:  Tanner Brossart.

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