T1IF, DEAD BOY.
AKNALS OF PASTOR AND PEOPLE.
L. P. CROWN & CO., 61 CORNHILL.
J. W. BRADLEY, 48 NORTH FOURTH ST.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854, by
L. P. CROWN AND COMPANY,
In the Clerk s Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
STEREOTYPED AT THE
BOSTON STEREOTYPE FOUNDRY^
I OFFER you, dear reader, only humble chronicles.
They are of the quiet and still life of a country
parish. I have set them down without any attempt
at fine writing, trusting to nothing more than their
truthfulness and simplicity to interest you.
You will find in these pages the observations
of one whose walk has been for a long time in
rustic quietudes among those earnest and sincere
souls that gather, every Sabbath, in simple country
churches. You will find, too, as you read on, that
human hearts are essentially the same under all
conditions the same motives, whether of ambition,
love, selfishness, or hatred, swaying them within the
precincts of a village circle as within the walls of
a wealthy and populous town.
Whatever may Le the moral of the whole, the
sympathizing reader will find it stamped plainly
enough on every pagj3. If, however, any one feeling
is intentionally inculcated above any other, it is
that of love one for another. Without this there
is no charity ; and without charity we are destitute
of all the virtues that are really worth possessing.
That the book may succeed in awakening the
interest of even a few, and, still further, in warming
ever so little the better natures of all, is the single
and sincere wish of
TIIE STAGE COACH,
DEACON BURROUGHS FAMILY, ....... 20
THE MEN OF BROOKBORO , 31
THE FIRST SABBATH, 43
MISS BUSS 71
THE DEAD BOY, 83
THE SEVY1NG SOCIETY OF OUIi PAKISII, .... 94
A TALK WITH THE FARMER, 107
AT BROTHER NED S, 120
ORDINATION DAY 133
THE MINISTER S WIFE, ... 144
PARISH OPINIONS, 155
GOING TO HOUSEKEEPING, 1C5
THE HEART OF A CREDITOR, 175
ONLY FAMILY MATTERS, 187
A COUNTRY WEDDING, 19G
TWO IN HEAVEN, 207
ZACK, THE CKI1TLE, 220
THE CONSUMPTIVE 232
THE BLIND GIRL 347
THINGS IN GENERAL, 256
THE DEATH OF A FATHER 267
OUR SINGING SCHOOL, 281
A ROADSIDE ROSE, 289
A SICK ROOM AND ITS LESSONS, . .... 302
AN OLD FRIEND IN A NEW CHARACTER, .... 317
AN AWAKENING 337
BROOKBORO WITH ADDITIONS 348
THE OLD PARSONAGE, 360
A SCENE IN A BELFRY, . 371
A LITTLE CLOUD, 382
DISPUTES AND DIFFERENCES, 393
THE RESULT OF A QUARREL, 406
PASTOR AND PEOPLE, .... .... 419
THE FAREWELL SERMON, 430
THE STAGE COACH.
ON a dull and dreary day in November, while the
winds were shouting in their shrill voices from the boughs
of the trees which they had rifled of their leaves, and
running mad races along the roadsides and across the
bleak pastures and uplands, the stage coach was toiling
slowly over the New England hills that heralded a little
village that slept within their bosom.
It was already mid-afternoon. The sun had been
obscured quite all the day, and the atmosphere was
heavy with the breaths of a brewing storm. Every
indication had been given of the setting in of an early
winter. The stubble lands along the winding old country
roads looked bare and desolate ; and the trees that had,
only a few weeks before, flung down dark and rich shad
ows over the stone, walls, for the comfort of the traveller,
were now denuded and shivering.
10 OUR PARISH.
The stage coach continued the monotonous creaking of
its leathern springs, and the same tiresome rattle of its
heavy wheels, while ever and anon the patient driver
spoke his cheerful chirrup to his horses, beguiling himself
of his tediousness by the snatch of a whistle or a song.
Within the coach there were four passengers. One
of them with whom this history will have especially to
do was to appearance quite a young man, perhaps
twenty-four or five years of age, with a finely-expressive
countenance, and a general bearing that had not failed to
challenge the admiration of his fellow-travellers since the
moment he became of their number. The other three
were of the same sex, and appeared to be journeying on
beyond the village where the coach was about to halt
temporarily. One of them was an object of special notice
and pity, inasmuch as he was a man with a silvery head,
and appeared to be very much intoxicated. It was evi
dent, too, from the manners he still labored to exhibit,
that his breeding had been much above the standard he
had at this time reached ; some untoward accident of
fortune, or some strong and steady temptation, having
succeeded in fastening the chain and ball to his character,
which he dragged about after him in a weak and wea
risome way that was even more than pitiful. The others
answered his pointless inquiries, or slightingly acknowl
edged his empty observations, sometimes smiling at his
strange drollery in spite of themselves, yet always pitying
the si<jht of a reduced and disabled intellect.
THE STAGE COACH. 11
The old man had attempted conversation several times
with the younger one whom I have alluded to, now em
ploying humor and badinage to draw him out from his
reserve, and now putting him inquiries of a direct nature,
that few men of ordinary civility would have refused to
It appeared that, during the ride, the elder man had
ascertained from the other that he was a clergyman ; more
than this, that he was at that time on his way to fulfil an
engagement he had recently entered into with a country
parish ; and, still more than that, that the very next village
to which the stage coach would bring them was the one
where his services for an entire year had been secured.
Forthwith, therefore, the latter rose in the other s esteem.
Despite the old man s insensibility to what was due him
self, he seemed to have -an instinctive knowledge of what
was, in this case at least, due to another, and began to
show a sense of respect one would hardly have looked
for in a man in just his unfortunate condition.
" My father was a minister," finally broke out the old
man, after lie had indulged in a long and drowsy pause.
"Ah ! " exclaimed the other ; " where was he settled ? "
"Well well, sir just now I can t tell yon ;" all this
was spoken very slowly, and with the greatest effort at
deliberation ; " but twas a good ways off from here, I can
tell you. May be you never was in that part of the
Very likely. But how long has lie been dead ? " he
continued, growing interested in the confession.
12 OUR PARISH.
"It s it s full twenty years, sir," answered the old
man. " You was nothing more than a baby when he died.
/ was a trifle younger than I am, too. I wasn t exactly
what you see me now, neither."
A misty memory seemed to swim over the surface of
his heart, and he felt that tears were sailing about in his
eyes. But the memory had much of light braided in with
its darker colors, for it gave him quite as much joy as
sadness to live it over again. lie went on, partly in a
half soliloquy, and some of the time looking the young
clergyman in the face.
"Yes, my poor father s dead dead! I sometimes
think I helped shorten his clays for him, for he wanted me
to follow the same calling he had chosen. Me! just
look at it and here I am ! No, no, sir ; it was a lucky
thing that I never was guilty of disgracing not only my
self, but that profession besides. I should have had every
thing to answer for more than I feel I ve got now."
" You have been in some business, I conclude ? " asked
the clergyman, pitying him more than ever.
" Business ? O, yes, sir ; that s what I have. I may
sa y I may say I ve done business enough to well, to
make two men just as rich as four ought to be. By riches
I don t mean any thing but enough to put a man s family
beyond the want of what s needful, and comfortable, and
eo on. But some people have a way of keeping their
money that others haven t got ; and I wasn t one of that
kind ever that could hold on, and hold on, when there s so
many ways for a man to do good with his money."
THE STAGE COACH. 13
He paused to recall the past a little.
" You may think I was reckless ; perhaps you do, seeing
me to-day. But that wasn t what swamped me. I got in
with a dishonest partner, and I very soon saw the end of
my hopes. My nature, you see, never was very suspicious ;
so I let him have pretty much his own way, gave up to
him in every thing, made a great confidant of him, told
him all my plans, how much I was worth, and every thing
else any scheming villain could have wanted to know; and
at last he got hold of the handle of the whip, as they say, and
fairly scourged me out of my own doors. And here I am ! "
The confession interested the others no less than the
young clergyman. They could not naturally help feeling a
deep sympathy for one in his situation, while the dark fear
chased suddenly over their hearts that possibly, in the
undisclosed course of events, they might be sucked into
just such another whirlpool, and in their turn involuntarily
challenge the same feelings of sympathy they now so
" Have you no family ? " asked the clergyman.
" Heaven help them, if I have ! " returned the old man,
with evident agitation. " Poor Mary s gone home to her
rest ! She s beyond the reach of want or woe. I had two
children ; but "
He could not go on, but plunged his eyes out upon the
ground, and fell into a revery of sadness.
" Poor man ! " was the mental ejaculation of every one
in the coach.
14 OUR PARISH.
The two other men exchanged glance?, and slowly shook
their heads. The clergyman threw his eyes out of the
coach* window, and began to observe the appearance of the
country through which he was riding.
It was many years ago, this afternoon scene in Novem
ber, in the good old sociable days of stage coaches, and of
cheery country inns, crowded full with comforts for travel
lers, and of pleasant and chatty drivers. The screech of
the steam whistle had not yet sent its wild echoes into the
hollows of the hills to frighten the rural deities from their
abodes by the brooks and in the woods ; neither was the
roar and the rattle of the dark, snake-like train to be heard
along on the mountain sides, and in the deep gorges, and
across the smiling meadows. People journeyed by days
marches, as it were, without the haste and recklessness that
characterize the present times, and I am very much
given to thinking with a more wholesome and healthy
sense of the pleasure of travelling. Yet these contrasts
between this and the old time may not be profitable,
But the former customs were so much in vogue, at the
time this history begins, that there was fixed an ancient
stage horn at the side of the driver s box, .which he pres
ently took from its socket, and commenced blowing witli all
his might, to apprise those at the next inn that he was
coining up as fast as he could. And, to make good his
notes of announcement, he swung his long lash twice or
thrice over the heads of his jaded horses, and finally
THE STAGE COACH. 15
brought out from the end of it, with a notable jerk, one
of the clearest, smacking cracks that ever sent its echoes
down among the hollows of any hills. The horses made a
fresh start, and ran rapidly through the little ravine, and
up the next hill before them.
" AVe are near our next stopping-place," remarked one
of the travellers.
The young clergyman felt the force of the remark in
full. It would be a stopping-place indeed for him of a
far different character than to those who would wait only
for a cold bite of meat or pie and the operation of changing
horses. Here he was to begin his work in the world.
Here he was to establish himself, by labor and piety, by
love and good works, until he should feel that he had
reaped all the harvest that was ripe for his sickle.
It was a thoughtful mood into which he at once relapsed,
as the coach bore him swiftly forward ; during which he
ran over in his mind all the prospects and probabilities, all
the hopes and fears, the trials and the delights, of his oncom
ing career, and tried to imagine the natures with which his
heart would daily be called into contact, and to read in
advance the pages of the history that was not yet opened,
and silently prayed that he might never falter nor fail, but
stoutly carry forward the banner he had received, till called
on to surrender all his trust at the beck of the pale mes
senger who will summon us all in turn away.
His thoughts were not sad nor heavy, yet they imposed
a filing of responsibility upon his heart that made his lips
16 OUR PARISH.
dumb. He felt the aid of courage, for it was given him
of Heaven ; yet the courage was strangely mixed with a
sense of fear and shrinking, that kept his heart in a state
not unlike that of disquietude. Should he do all that
Heaven required of one who had enlisted for life in the
service ? Would the moments never steal into the daily
life when the high purposes, the Christian resolutions, the
yearning desires would be blighted temporarily with irres
olution, or faintheartedness, or perhaps despair ? Would
his feelings never sicken, and his strength never give out,
when he saw himself standing alone in the vineyard, and
all his fellow-laborers lounging idly about in the very heat
of the day ?
Even the most trustful and devoted man might well ask
himself the^e questions ; for humanity is but weak in its
greatest strength, and often staggers and falters when the
path is open to aid.
From this train of thought he was roused at last by the
drawing up of the coach before the inn door. The driver
jumped down from his box, and acquainted the inside with
the fact that they could get refreshments here while the
horses were changing.
The young clergyman who should by this time be
known as Mr. Humphreys alighted, saw to the getting
off of his baggage, paid his fare, and went into the house.
The landlord welcomed him, no less than the others, within
his doors, asking them if they would like any thing to eat.
Pushing into an inner room, spacious and cheerful,-^ith
THE STAGE COACH. 17
one of the pleasantest fires imaginable burning on the
hearth, they gathered around the blaze, and inwardly con
gratulated themselves on so comfortable quarters being
within their reach.
The old man did not come in at all ; whether from a
feeling of loneliness, that had betrayed itself in the latter
part of his conversation, or from a sense of shame inherent
in his nature, could not readily be determined.
An elderly gentleman was busily inspecting the baggage
that was laid on the porch, and studying over and over
again the initials, " "W. H.," as if they might have some
intimate relation to his business.
Seized with the idea that he could not be wrong, he
hastened within the house, and accosted the landlord in a
low voice :
" Do you know whether one of the gentlemen in the
other room is Mr. Humphreys ? "
" Wai, no, I don t," said the other. " Is t the new minis
ter you re expectin , deacon ?"
"Yes. One trunk is marked W. II. I think that must
belong to Mr. Humphreys."
" Like enough. If it does, he s in the other room."
" Which one is he ? Can you tell ? "
" I guess I can, deacon. Come, and I ll show you."
So the obliging host opened the door, and, after looking
over the faces and persons of the three individuals carefully,
finally remarked to the deacon that the one in the corner
was the man who owned the trunk marked " W. H."
18 OUR PARISH.
Deacon Burroughs entered the room, and advanced
towards him, holding out his hand.
" Mr. Humphreys is this ? " he asked.
" Yes, sir," said the clergyman, rising, and offering to
take the proffered hand.
" My name is Burroughs."
" Ah, Deacon Burroughs ! " exclaimed Mr. Humphreys,
a look of gladness breaking out over his fine face. " I
have had a correspondence with you, and certainly might
to feel somewhat acquainted with you. I am very glad
indeed to become personally acquainted."
And they shook hands heartily, the deacon replying to
the compliment in his own honest way.
" Come, now ! " said the latter ; "just as soon as you get
warm, we re going straight to my house. / shall take care
of you for the present. I hope you will feel satisfied with
what little we can do to make you comfortable."
Mr. Humphreys said he did not doubt that he should be
made both comfortable and happy.
" Then you just sit down again," added the deacon,
" while I run out and bring round my horse. Your trunks
shall be put in the wagon at once ; and when I come back,
all will be ready. We can talk a little as we go along."
And Deacon Burroughs bowed his way out of the room,
while the young clergyman resumed his warm corner at
In a few minutes he rose to join his new friend, and
wished his companions good day and a pleasant journey
THE STAGE COACH. 19
forward. He stood in the door, ready to get into the
Some one touched his arm from behind. He looked
round, and observed the old man, his travelling companion.
" I hope you ll do well here," said the old man, in a half
whisper, as if he would be confidential a little. " I haven t
seen the man in a long time I wanted to know so much as
I do you. You make me think of other days. I hope
you ll do well I do. God bless you."
Mr. Humphreys took his hand, and gave him an affec
tionate word of farewell, begging him to throw off the
power of the habit that enslaved so fine a nature, and
wishing him the best of fortune wherever his lot might
And in the old tavern door they separated.
Mr. Humphreys took his seat in the wagon, and was
soon on the way to the heart of the little village.
DEACON BURROUGHS FAMILY.
" I WONDER if he will come to-day, mother. He cer
tainly ought to be here by this time, if he means to preach
next Sunday for us."
" Your father has been expecting him every day, all
the week ; but he hasn t come yet. I believe he went
down with the horse and wagon this afternoon, to see if
the stage brought him over. If he isn t there to-day,
there ll be another disappointment."
" I wonder what kind of a looking man he is. I m really
curious to know."
" Why, Mr. Bard and Dr. Jennings, "who went to hear
him preach where he was hired for a few months, said he
was a j^ne-looking man. That s all / know about it. But
his sermons they were pleased with more than all. It s to
be hoped that he won t disappoint any of us here. I guess,
from all I can learn, too, that he won t."
" Do you expect he will board with us till next spring,
mother ? "
DEACON BURROUGHS FAMILY. 21
" That s the arrangement for the present ; unless he and
Mr. Burroughs make some other, I suppose he will."
" Well, I for one shall be glad to have a new minister
settled here. We ve been obliged to do the best we could
quite long enough ; and that s not been much above the
poorest, sometimes. I hope Mr. Humphreys will suit and
"And I rather think he will, from what I hear. He
comes to us with the first recommendations from those he s
been studying under, and certificates of the very best
scholarship. I guess he s a man of uncommon learning
for one of his years."
There was a pause here, which each one of the speakers
improved for a moment or two of thought. We will im
prove it likewise, to tell the reader who these persons, so
much interested in Mr. Humphreys, were.
Lucy Burroughs and her mother, the daughter and
wife of the deacon.
Mrs. Burroughs was not quite a woman to match the
character of her husband, for but no matter ; all this
will duly come out in the course of the narrative. Lucy
was different from either ; wholly herself, and no one else.
The room in which they sat looked unusually cosy and
pleasant, especially by contrast with the gloomy appearance
of things out of doors. The fire blazed brightly on the
hearth, it was long before the invention of those abom
inations known as "airtights," and threw out a ruddy
glow over the figures of the carpet, the chintz-covered easy
22 OUR PARISH.
chair, and against the polished leaf of the table. The
brass firedogs glistened like gold, looking full of wavering
heat, and dancing jets, and waves of flame. Before the
hearth was stretched a rug, somewhat faded in its colors,
but soft and thick, upon which a large gray and white
tabby cat lay dozing, filling the room with her drowsy
Such pleasant rooms how few of them there are now
adays ! Or if wealth exchanges snugness and comfort for
empty and glittering magnificence, how few and far sep
arated are the hearts that acknowledge their satisfaction,
with the change !
The brightly -polished shovel and tongs, the little low
mantel, on which stood the lamps and the snuffer tray, and
over which hung a picture in needlework that Mrs. Bur
roughs had wrought in her girlhood, the carpet, with its
green and brown leaves, modestly winding themselves
about the figures, the easy chair, the long settle against
the wall, the high, old-fashioned clock, ticking and click
ing all the time in the corner, its voices echoing through
the night along the passages and all through the rooms,
where are the pictures of home, in these gregarious times,
that awaken one half the tender feelings in the human
heart, or call up a fraction of those dear old associations
that are so closely linked in with domestic peace, and hap
piness, and love? feelings and associations that are inter
twined with all these several objects, and centred nowhere
so fixedly as at the quiet hearth and happy home.
DEACON BURROUGHS FAMILY. 23
Both mother and daughter were engaged in sewing.
They did not often take their eyes from the work they were
upon, unless to look thoughtfully for a moment into the fire,
or to note the movements of the hands over the face of the
old clock in the corner.
Lucy was a girl of decided sprightliness, and was not
destitute of attractions such as readily hold the attention
of the other sex. She was eighteen, already entered on
her nineteenth year, the favorite of her mother, as she
additionally was her oldest child, almost the sole mis
tress and manager of the household, much given to social
enjoyments, and full of vivacity. Many a girl was
there, in her day, who envied the appearance and the gifts
of Lucy Burroughs.
The door suddenly opened, and in ran a younger sister,
"Look out of the window, Lucy ! Look out, mother!"
called she, speaking very naturally to Lucy first. " See
who that is with father ! "
Both ran, with their work in their laps, across the room,
and held their faces a minute steadily against the corner of
" I guess that must be the minister,"* said the mother.
Lucy looked longer. She was surveying him with some
what different eyes and thoughts, perhaps, than her
" He s young looking, mother," said she, at length. " I
thought he must be older."
24 OCR PARISH.
" No, Dr. Jennings said don t you remember, Lucy,
the evening he spent here? he said he was young, and
that / should think he was handsome."
" 0, dear ! " exclaimed Sarah, in a burst of childish de
light, " I m so glad he s going to board here ! I m so glad ! "
" Why, what difference can that make with you, I should
like to know?" inquired her sister Lucy, looking round
upon her with a searching glance.
" O, the girls at school will all have so many questions
to ask about the new minister ; and I shall be the only one
that will know all about him. Won t Emma Ray be
vexed, though ? and won t I tease the Bards every day I
live ? For once in my life, I shall seem to know something
that every body else doesn t," answered Sarah.
Deacon Burroughs came up through the front yard with
the stranger, having tied the horse by a post at the gate,