|Back||1 2 3 4||Next|
Yet there must be a little difference between us somewhere, or why does Abijah Flagg write Latin letters to Emma Jane, instead of to me? There is one example on the other side of the argument,--Abijah Flagg. He stands out from all the rest of the boys like the Rock of Gibraltar in the geography pictures. Is it because he never went to school until he was sixteen? He almost died of longing to go, and the longing seemed to teach him more than going. He knew his letters, and could read simple things, but it was I who taught him what books really meant when I was eleven and he thirteen. We studied while he was husking corn or cutting potatoes for seed, or shelling beans in the Squire's barn. His beloved Emma Jane didn't teach him; her father wold not have let her be friends with a chore-boy! It was I who found him after milking-time, summer nights, suffering, yes dying, of Least Common Multiple and Greatest Common Divisor; I who struck the shackles from the slave and told him to skip it all and go on to something easier, like Fractions, Percentage, and Compound Interest, as I did myself. Oh! How he used to smell of the cows when I was correcting his sums on warm evenings, but I don't regret it, for he is now the joy of Limerick and the pride of Riverboro, and I suppose has forgotten the proper side on which to approach a cow if you wish to milk her. This now unserviceable knowledge is neatly inclosed in the outgrown shell he threw off two or three years ago. His gratitude to me knows no bounds, but--he writes Latin letters to Emma Jane! But as Mr. Perkins said about drowning the kittens (I now quote from myself at thirteen), "It is the way of the world and how things have to be!"
Well, I have read the Thought Book all through, and when I want to make Mr. Aladdin laugh, I shall show him my composition on the relative values of punishment and reward as builders of character.
I am not at all the same Rebecca today at sixteen that I was then, at twelve and thirteen. I hope, in getting rid of my failings, that I haven't scrubbed and rubbed so hard that I have taken the gloss off the poor little virtues that lay just alongside of the faults; for as I read the foolish doggerel and the funny, funny "Remerniscences," I see on the whole a nice, well-meaning, trusting, loving heedless little creature, that after all I'd rather build on than outgrow altogether, because she is Me; the Me that was made and born just a little different from all the rest of the babies in my birthday year.
One thing is alike in the child and the girl. They both love to set thoughts down in black and white; to see how they look, how they sound, and how they make one feel when one reads them over.
They both love the sound of beautiful sentences and the tinkle of rhyming words, and in fact, of the three great R's of life, they adore Reading and Riting, as much as they abhor "Rithmetic.
The little girl in the old book is always thinking of what she is "going to be."
Uncle Jerry Cobb spoiled me a good deal in this direction. I remember he said to everybody when I wrote my verses for the flag-raising: "Nary rung on the ladder o' fame but that child'll climb if you give her time!"--poor Uncle Jerry! He will be so disappointed in me as time goes on. And still he would think I have already climbed two rungs on the ladder, although it is only a little Wareham ladder, for I am one of the "Pilot" editors, the first "girl editor"--and I have taken a fifty dollar prize in composition and paid off the interest on a twelve hundred dollar mortgage with it.
"High is the rank we now possess,
This hymn was sung in meeting the Sunday after my election, and Mr. Aladdin was there that day and looked across the aisle and smiled at me. Then he sent me a sheet of paper from Boston the next morning with just one verse in the middle of it.
"She made the cleverest people quite ashamed;
Miss Maxwell says it is Byron, and I wish I had thought of the last rhyme before Byron did; my rhymes are always so common.
I am too busy doing, nowadays, to give very much thought to being. Mr. Aladdin was teasing me one day about what he calls my "cast-off careers."
"What makes you aim at any mark in particular, Rebecca?" he asked, looking at Miss Maxwell and laughing. "Women never hit what they aim at, anyway; but if they shut their eyes and shoot in the air they generally find themselves in the bull's eye."
I think one reason that I have always dreamed of what I should be, when I grew up, was, that even before father died mother worried about the mortgage on the farm, and what would become of us if it were foreclosed.
It was hard on children to be brought up on a mortgage that way, but oh! it was harder still on poor dear mother, who had seven of us then to think of, and still has three at home to feed and clothe out of the farm.
Aunt Jane says I am young for my age, Aunt Miranda is afraid that I will never really "grow up," Mr. Aladdin says that I don't know the world any better than the pearl inside of the oyster. They none of them know the old, old thoughts I have, some of them going back years and years; for they are never ones that I can speak about.
I remember how we children used to admire father, he was so handsome and graceful and amusing, never cross like mother, or too busy to play with us. He never did any work at home because he had to keep his hands nice for playing the church melodeon, or the violin or piano for dances.
Mother used to say: "Hannah and Rebecca, you must hull the strawberries, your father cannot help." "John, you must milk next year for I haven't the time and it would spoil your father's hands."
All the other men in Temperance village wore calico, or flannel shirts, except on Sundays, but Father never wore any but white ones with starched bosoms. He was very particular about them and mother used to stitch and stitch on the pleats, and press and press the bosoms and collar and cuffs, sometimes late at night.
|Back||1 2 3 4||Next|
New Chronicles of Rebecca -by- Kate Douglas WigginBottom Content goes here. Wikipedia content requires these links..... Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.