Susan Warner.

Stephen, M. D. online

. (page 6 of 34)
Online LibrarySusan WarnerStephen, M. D. → online text (page 6 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

and coffee ! " cried the little girl triumphantly.

" 0' course ye does," said the woman. " Dat ar
aint de way I used to bring up my chil'len."

" Where are your children, Jonto ? "

"Don' know, chile. Dey aint chil'len no mo',
and dey aint my chil'len no mo'."

" Why didn't you give them cakes and molasses? "

" Make deir skin yaller, chile."

POSIE. 103

"How could it?" said the little girl laughing.
"They must have had black skins; and black skins
couldn't turn yellow."

" Black ? dose little skins was as white as lilies,
and as pink as peach blossoms. Dey warn't my
true chil'len ; only while dey was little ; den I gib
'em up to deir modder. An' she, she gib 'em trash,
and deir skins warn't like lilies and peach blossoms
no mo'. Yes, chile, dat's so. Now you git out o'
my way, you two, and let me jes' git at de fire.
Hi ! Mass' Har'nbrook, he'll knock my head off,
'cos his breakfust aint ready, ef I don't make de
dus' fly. You go off, chil'lens."

The two drew back a little, and with that a little
nearer to each other.

"Don't you like cakes and molasses?" asked
Posie confidentially.

" Yes, of course," said Stephen.

" Don't you want some ? "

" No," said he smiling. " Not this morning."

" Why ? " said Posie, coming a little nearer, for
she liked the smile.

" I've had enough already."

" How do you know ? "

" I fed so," Stephen answered laughing. " Don't
you know when you have got enough ? "

" No," said Posie boldly. " I can eat cakes and
molasses after I've got enough."

" Chil'len," said Jonto here, " you go and clar
out. Ef you don't let me stop larfin, I can't see to
git my breakfust. You run along out dar, and let


me alone a while. I'll call you, Posie, when it's

The children obeyed this request, and went out
of the kitchen by the same door through which
Stephen had looked in and come in last night.
Stephen could see now what his surroundings were.
On one side of the house stretched a line of stables,
sheds, and the like ; opposite the house, and like it
at a right angle with this row of outbuildings, was
a long, high, monotonous looking brick edifice;
with row over row of windows, indicating story
over story of its inner arrangement. Square,
straight-lined, unvaried by any break or adorn
ment, it was a very bare and unpromising pile.
The fourth side of the square yard was not built up,
otherwise than with a very high board fence, in
which there was a gate, also of boards, in two door-
like leaves ; now closed and barred. Above all this
a tender May sun was shining, not very high up
yet in a soft blue sky; the yard was neatly kept;
the place looked orderly and like business ; but it
offered no prospects of pleasure. The children
stood still a moment.

"Look here," said Posie; "let's go down to the

" Where's that ? " said Stephen.

" Come along, I'll shew you." said the little girl,
setting off on a run to the big gates. " Here, can
you open this ? I can't. You open it."

" It's locked," said Stephen.

" Unlock it"

POSIE. 105

Maybe Mr. Hardenbrook wouldn't like it."

" Yes he will. He likes everything I like."

" But if we go far, Jonto won't be able to reach
us, when she wants to call you."

" I don't care " said Posie, setting off to run
again a? soon as the gate was opened, after she had
seized Stephen's hand to make sure of his keeping
pace with her. They ran down the road, leaving
the house and whole little settlement behind them.
After a few rods they came to a place where the
road passed over a little platform bridge. On the
bridge Posie stood still. The rush of waters was
audible underneath; and to the left the waters
themselves could be seen, rushing over a rocky
bed, between fringing banks of maple, oak and
alder, with wild thorn and nameless, rank, low-
growing shrubs and plants. The young trees nearly
closed over the narrow stream with their bushy
bending tops; under the green arbour thus formed
for it the brook hurried along, its waters looking
dark in the absence of the sunlight which there
could not get to it.

" There is the brook," said Posie.

"It's a beautiful brook," said Stephen. "But
what makes that roar? "

" Roar ? that's the Fall. It's just a little way
over there, that side of the bridge. Come along,
I'll shew it to you."

Stephen could offer no effectual resistance; the
little lady dragged him away with her, over the
bridge, along the road, which presently descended


a pretty steep hill, along on the level again ; then
making a sudden turn she went over a low place
in the fence at their right into a meadow. Here
it was less easy running; the grass was rank and
thick and the ground uneven; however, Posie
skipped over it like a young deer, leaving the road
behind her and making her way towards the upper
end of the meadow, where low copsewood bor
dered and fenced it in. Before they got so far,
the two children came upon a turn of the brook,
hurrying down as they were hurrying up, and to all
appearance in as much of a hurry. Its waters still
looked dark, although in the full sunlight here ; it
was just deep enough to be dark ; and went tum
bling along over stones which strewed its bed,
boiling, dashing, eddying, rushing round corners,
but never seeming quieter when the corner was
turned. The banks here were grassy; rank, strong
tufts of grass bordering the edges, which the mow
ers' scythes never cut and trimmed into finer and
more delicate growth. As soon as the stream was
reached Stephen involuntarily stood still.

" 0, here it is again ! " he cried with an accent
of joy. " Aint it the same brook ? "

u Why of course," said Posie. " How could it
be any other?

Which unphilosophical view Stephen did not

" what a grand brook ! How it does run, Posie."
He stooped, and put his hand in the water. " Ei !
it's real strong," he exclaimed. " I guess it would

POSIE. 107

take my hand off, if it wasn't so strong on. A ship
would go fast on that brook, wouldn't it? "

" A ship ? What sort of a ship ? " said Posie, also
stepping carefully to the edge of the brook and
squatting down to dip her hand in the water.
"Aint it strong! But it's wet here, Stephen, and
dirty. See I've got my feet all wet."

*' dear, dear ! " said Stephen dismayed. " And
your nice dress ! you've got it in the mud. We'd
better go right home. Your mother'll be angry,
won't she ? "

" No ! " said Posie confidently ; " she's never angry
with me. She worries, you know, but it don't
amount to much. I'm not going home I'm going
to the Falls. Come ! Come, Stephen, come along."

Off she went and Stephen could but follow her.
Away she skipped over the rough grass and hum-
mocky ground; her extreme neatness of attire cer
tainly somewhat damaged, but her zeal not at
all. Stephen followed with some scruples and
qualms, and anticipations that somehow he might be
brought in for blame that was not his. However,
the present adventure was most delightful, what
ever came of it; given a brook and a meadow, and a
spring morning, and what more does a boy want?
except indeed a playmate; and that Stephen had
to his hand, and a rare one.

The children ran now up the course of the brook,
not following its windings, but striking across
straight towards a particular point of the copse
at the head of the meadow. Reaching it, Posie


pushed in between the trees and bushes for a few
yards, and then she stopped. They were on the
border of the brook again, and six or eight feet
from them, to the right, the waters dashed down
over a ledge of rock perhaps ten feet high. The
waters came with a will, as we have seen, even in
their quietest places; and the down pour here was
determined accordingly. At the bottom all was
foam and roar, and from thence the brook set off
with new energy and eagerness on its way to its
distant goal.

"There's the Fall," said Posie.

" It is magnificent ! " said Stephen. " It's a real

" What's Niagara ? " inquired Posie.

" It is a great Fall of water somewhere ; I have
heard my mother tell about it; it's very big, and
folks go to see it. Perhaps it may be a little big
ger than this, but I dare say this is quite as good."

" Then we'll call it Niagara," said Posie. " It
never had any name before, only I called it the
Fall. A thing's a great deal nicer when it's got
a name, don't you think so ? "

" Chil-len ! "

Here came a prolonged call from somewhere
seemingly above them.

" That's Jonto " said Posie laughing.


" Where is she ? "

" up there on the bridge. The bridge is just
a little way up there. Y es ! "

POSIE. 109

" We're comin' ! " Stephen shouted.

And that morning's diversion was over. Unless
I count the run homeward, which really belonged
to it. Such a scramble as it was ! Such a flying
across the rough meadow; such a whisking over
the fence ; such a chase up the road. Stephen had
a little sense of guilt upon him, however innocently
contracted; Posie had none, and she shouted for
fun as she ran. And then two very rosy, panting,
bright-eyed creatures tumbled rather than walked
into the kitchen.



"OEE dar, now!" said Jonto, standing and sur-
vJ veying them. " What you 'spect your ma '11
say, hey? Dar's your pa and ma eatin' breakfast
alone, dis half hour; and you done run half de
way to Cowslip; and pullin' dat boy along; an*
now he'll git scolded, you'll see; and 'taint him as
done it. What you arter, hey, 'fore you git your
breakfus', dis time in de mornin' ? What you arter,

"I wanted to show Stephen the Falls. We've
been to Niagara. See my feet, Jonto." She dis
played them, to Jonto's horror.

"Aint you 'iiuff to keep six folks waitin' on
you! Hope you'll marry a rich man when you
grows up, or I'se be boun' ye'll live in hot water."

" It's her feet want to go in hot water now," said
Stephen, who, concerned as he was about the es
capade in which he had been involuntary partaker,
thought more of his little companion than of him
self. " She got into the soft ground at the edge
of the brook before we knew it was wet" He


looked at the black-white stockings with some
dismay. Jonto stooped down and felt of them.

" Dey's as wet as dey kin be," she said. " You
sit down and keep still dar till I git you somefin
dry. Your ma's in a awful hurry; but she'll jes'
have to wait till I git you fit to be seen. You
wait dar, Posie."

Posie was doubtful what to do, but finally con
cluded to wait, making a joke of the whole thing.
Stephen thought it no joke. However, every lesser
thought was swallowed up in admiration and won
dering delight at the childish vision before him.
Flushed cheeks and roguish eyes, curly hair tossed
into all sorts of graceful lines; soft, pliant move
ments, sweet wilful bearing; they took little Ste
phen utterly captive. He thought he and Posie
had done wrong and deserved to be blamed; but
blame could not fasten on such a creature, it would
surely attach solely to him ; he was content. That
would be merely the due and necessary adjustment
of things. So he stood and waited and looked on,
while Jonto brought clean shoes and stockings and
put them on Posie. That done, the little girl was
dashing away.

" Stop, stop ! " cried Jouto. " Here ! you'se to
take Stephen in wid you. Your ma, she wants to
see him. Dar take him along. An' ax your pa
what we'se to do for Stephen's t'ings ? "

The little girl flew along one passage and another,
followed by Stephen, who found it dreadful to be
rushing through a strange house at that rate, but


he could not help it. Posie dashed in at a door at
last, and more slowly, though immediately, Stephen
went in after her.

It was a large, bright room to which he found
himself introduced ; the morning sun pouring in on
a breakfast table, and two people were sitting at the
table. One of them he knew; the other was a lit
tle woman with an oddly fretful face. I believe she
would have struck Stephen as handsome if it had
not been for the pinch in her nose, and the lines
in her brow, and the sound of her voice when she
epoke. All was fretful together. Posie forestalled

" what have you got for breakfast ? I know 1
omelette. I'm so hungry ! And biscuits."

" I should like to know where you have been ? "
said her mother, eyeing her with her head a one

" just down the road," the little girl answered,
drawing up a chair to the table.

" What made you go down the road before you
had had your breakfast, you crazy thing? I sup
pose this is the first fruits of your new importation,
Mr. Hardenbrook. I don't see why you never can
be contented to let well alone."

" Good morning, Stephen," said his friend of yes
terday. Stephen bowed, standing still a few paces
within the door ; while Posie fell to on the omelette.
" Maria, this is my new little boy."

Maria looked at him critically.

" What do you expect a child like that to do,

CHIPS. 113

Mr. Hardenbrook ? " she asked with a curl of her
lip, and Stephen thought with an added pinch of
her nose. " Anything but lead Posie into mischief?
I suppose he will do that. I hardly supposed he
would be in such a hurry to do it."

" What mischief have you done, Stephen, hey ? "

" I was afraid it wasn't right, sir."

" Ah, then why did you do it ? " asked Mrs. Har
denbrook sharply.

Stephen did not see how he could answer with
out charging the fault, where it belonged, on his
little companion ; he was silent.

" Isn't it the fashion to speak when you're spok
en to, in the parts where you have been brought

"Yes, ma'am."

" Well then, why don't you tell me what I ask

" I would, ma'am, if "

"If what?"

*' If I could."

" Seems to me you're stupid as well as mischiev
ous," said the lady complacently. " What did you
take Posie down the road for ? And how far did
you go ? "

" We went to Niagara, mother," said Posie.

" To Niagara ! What do you mean ? "

" Stephen said it was as good as Niagara, and so
I said we would call it Niagara. It's our Niagara."

" You've never been all the way to the brook in
the meadow ? "


Posie nodded. "It wasn't far. It didn't take
but a few minutes."

" I hope you are satisfied with your new boy's
first morning's work ! " said the lady. "Wasn't the
meadow wet? Didn't you get your shoes wet,

Posie shook her head. " Feet's all dry," she said.

" They couldn't be. Here, boy, let me see your
feet. Come here. Turn up your foot, so I can see
the soles of your shoes Dry? why, they're as wet
as they can be. They have been in the mud."

" Mine are dry," said Posie.

" How came hers to be dry and yours to be wet,

Stephen was in a great dilemma. With much
unwillingness, he had been forced to come forward
and shew the condition of his one only pair of
shoes; but to give the explanation asked for was
worse yet. Posie wheeled round in her chair and
fixed her eyes upon him with the blankest, blandest
expression of curious innocence. Stephen was as
tounded and fairly confused by her look.

" Can't you speak ? " said Mrs. Hardenbrook.

"Speak, Stephen," said Mr. Hardenbrook. "That
is a simple enough thing to say. There can be no
difficulty in it."

" Mine got wet because I went into the ground
where it was soft."

" Can't you finish, and say hers are dry because
she did not go where you went ? "

Stephen looked down in the greatest confusion.

CHIPS. 115

" He's a stupid, for all I see," said the lady laugh
ing. " I wish you joy of your bargain, Mr. Harden-
brook. What's your name, boy ? "

" Stephen Joyce Kay."

" Three names. Well, won't you take him where
he belongs, Mr. Hardenbrook? and instruct him
that he is to keep there, and not meddle with

" I'm going to meddle with him, though," said
the little girl. " I like him. He's going to play
with me."

"Stephen will have too much to do to play a
great deal with you. Posie ; he is going to be a busy
little boy," her father explained.

" What's he going to do ? "

"0 different things. He is going to learn to
work in my factory."

" Among the men ? He's too little to work, pa."

"Anybody that is old enough to play, is old
enough to do something besides play," said her
father gravely.

" He don't know how to do anything."

" He will learn."

" What for should he learn, till he's bigger ? "

" Posie, you're such a simpleton ! " said her mo
ther. "This little boy has got to work, to earn his

" I haven't."

" No, you haven't, because papa gives it to you
This little boy has no one to give it to him."

" Pa can give it to him."


" Pa won't, though. Your father will teach him
how to be useful, if he can ; and then, if Stephen is
useful he will deserve to have his bread, and he
will get it."

" Does nobody that aint useful deserve to have
his bread ? "

" No, of course not."

Posie looked from one face to another, in doubt or

" Then I don't see what's to become of you, mo
ther," she concluded. " I am useful, but I don't
think you are. Pa, Stephen could be useful to

"Ah, well," said Mr. Hardenbrook laughing,
" after I have done with him you may have him,
Posie. Come, Stephen, you and I will go about
our business. He shall be at your service, Posie,
after he has got through his work; but I do not
know when that will be. Now, my boy. "

Mr. Hardenbrook strode through the passages by
which Stephen had come, till they reached the
kitchen again. Passing through this, they went
out into the court, crossed it, and entered the
ground floor of the long factory building. They
were then in a sort of office room, where Stephen
could hear very plainly a whirring and clattering,
of which he had been aware outside. It was
louder and plainer here, and when Mr. Harden
brook opened an inner door became much louder
still. It was confusing, for the very floor under
Stephen's feet seemed to feel the jar of machinery

CHIPS. 117

as no doubt it did. This lower floor was in part
devoted to the work of a sawing mill; Stephen
perceived a big wheel in one corner, and moving
frames of timber, and men busy hither and thither.
Mr. Hardenbrook did not tarry there, however, but
turned to one side and went up an open staircase
to the floor above. The shaking could be felt here
too, that was all; the machinery was left below.
In this upper room, which was long and wide, a
number of men were at work in various ways with
what looked like carpenter's tools ; though the ma
terial upon which they used them was frequently
dark wood of various hues. Stephen looked on
with great interest. Men were turning at turning
lathes; they were planing; and they were doing
a great many other things, which as yet he could
not distinguish. From this floor, after a few min
utes, Mr. Hardenbrook mounted to a third. Here,
to Stephen's delight, he saw finished pieces of
furniture, and others unfinished; fitting, putting
together, varnishing and polishing were going on

"Now you have seen it all, Stephen," said his
conductor. "On this floor, you see, people are
putting pieces of cherry wood and pieces of ma
hogany and pine together to make all sorts of
things; bedsteads and bureaus, and tables and
chairs, and all sorts of things. On the second
floor, below, other men are getting out the
pieces, cutting the veneers, and turning the legs
and rungs. And on the first floor of all, they are


" Sensible boy. Well, Mr. Gordon will tell you
that he is here always by seven o'clock."

" And when do they leave off and go away at
night, sir?"


" I'll allow him two hours to go over this floor,"
remarked Mr. Gordon. "There's a good many
square foot in it. And the floor below is wuss."

"Couldn't I do one in the morning before the
men come, and the other at night after they are
gone ? " asked the little boy modestly.

"That'll be it!" said Gordon. "You've got a
head on your shoulders, young chap. But what'll
he do, to keep out o' mischief all day, Mr. Harden-

" He'll want part of it for rest."

"Fact. But too much rest 'ud tire him agin."

"Can't you shew him how to do something?"

" Guess I kin," said Mr. Gordon, again studying
Stephen and scratching hia yellow head. "Ever
druv a nail ? "

" Yes sir," said Stephen, " but I can't do it

"Kin you hold a nail for somebody else's
hammer ? "

" No sir ; I should get my fingers pounded."

Mr. Gordon laughed, Stephen could not imagine
why, and told Mr. Hardenbrook he "would do."
And with that Stephen was disposed of, and the
conversation passed to other things.



r PHE little boy entered upon his novitiate of
1 instruction that very day. By Mr. Harden-
brook's desire he staid at the factory after the
master left it, and was ordered to wait upon Mr.
Gordon. It was amusing at first to do this; for
Stephen was interested and curious about the va
rious manufactures that were going on; it was
very entertaining to him to see how the men
handled their tools, how they prepared their pieces
of wood and put them together. After a while
Mr. Gordon began to make demands upon him ;
sent him down stairs with a message, or with a
commission to bring him this or that; and then
other of the workmen took their cue from their
leader, and found that Stephen could save them
steps and trouble. He ran up stairs and down
stairs, back and forward, and was conscious of
having been rather busy, when he went back
across the court to dinner. Jonto inquired par
ticularly as to what was going to be done with
him at the factory ; gave one or two funny little


snorts and sniffs when she heard Stephen's re
port, but delivered her opinions no further on the

" Den what time do ye spect ye'll come to sup
per?" she asked after dinner when Stephen was
about going.

"01 don't know. You see, Jonto, I must do
my work over there before it gets dark, for I
couldn't take a light in."

" Well, go 'long," said the old woman. " I aint
gwine to let ye starve, nieder, long's Jonto's in de
kitchen. Clar! S'pos'n 1 had Posie to clear up
arter me, hey ? "

"0 but Posie's very different!" said Stephen,
shocked at this allusion.

" What's de differ ? " said the old woman. " I'll
allow as one pusson's child has as much right to
git larnin' and go to school as anoder pusson's.
De good Lord, he didn't make no differ."

"0 yes, Jonto, but I must earn money," said
Stephen, with so much gravity that the old wo
man looked at him.

"What is you so boun' to make money fur?
Don't see! You'se got nuffin to do wid money,
a pickaninny like you. De lub o' money is de root
o' all evil, boy."

"Yes, Jonto; I don't love it; but I want it. I
must get it, if I can."

" I neber see a ten-year-old so hot arter money.
Taint nat'ral. Is it 'cos you've had so much o'
it, or so little ? "


" I never had any."

Stephen explained himself no further, and went
away. Jon to shook her head over this developement.
She could not understand it. However, Stephen
was very young ; she purposed in her heart to look
after him and not let the service of Mammon swal
low him up, if she could help it.

At the factory that afternoon Stephen found it
not quite so amusing as in the earlier part of
the day. Things went on as they had done in the
morning. The men found it quite convenient to
make a messenger of him; and he began to be a
little tired of running up and down stairs, especially
when he looked forward to his own work proper,
that would begin when theirs ended. Slowly the
hours wore away; the spring afternoon faded;
the long factory rooms lost what brightness the
sunlight had given them; and finally the men
threw down their tools, drew on their jackets,
and clattered down the stairs. Mr. Gordon waa
the last.

" Now," said he, " you kalkilate to do one at a
time ; aint that so ? "

"Yes, sir."

" Wall, that's your best plan, I guess. Look here ;
fust you'll gather up the tools and put 'em together
some place. Then you pick out all sich bits o'
veneer, as big as that, see ? and lay 'em in one
place. Then you collect the glue pots, and put
them by themselves. That's the way to begin.
What be you goin' to do then ? "


Stephen looked at the piles of shavings and rub.
bish which encumbered the floor.

" A broom wouldn't do much good," said he. " If
I could get a rake, or that, I think it would be the

" That's it ! " said Mr. Gordon approvingly. " I
said you had a head on your shoulders. So long

Online LibrarySusan WarnerStephen, M. D. → online text (page 6 of 34)