Sarah Orne Jewett.

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Produced by James Adcock. Special thanks to The Internet
Archive: American Libraries.

Books by Sarah Orne Jewett

STORIES AND TALES. 7 vols. Illustrated.
THE TORY LOVER. Illustrated.
_Holiday Edition._ With 52 illustrations. Attractively bound.
The Same. In Riverside Aldine Series In Riverside School Library.
PLAY-DAYS. Stories for Girls.
BETTY LEICESTER. A Story for Girls.

Boston and New York




The Riverside Press Cambridge





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For a great many years it had been understood in Longfield that Miss
Horatia Dane once had a lover, and that he had been lost at sea. By
little and little, in one way and another, her acquaintances had found
out or made up the whole story; and Miss Dane stood in the position,
not of an unmarried woman exactly, but rather of having spent most of
her life in a long and lonely widowhood. She looked like a person with
a history, strangers often said (as if we each did not have a
history); and her own unbroken reserve about this romance of hers gave
everybody the more respect for it.

The Longfield people paid willing deference to Miss Dane: her family
had always been one that could be liked and respected, and she was the
last that was left in the old home of which she was so fond. This was
a high, square house, with a row of pointed windows in its roof, a
peaked porch in front, with some lilac-bushes around it; and down by
the road was a long, orderly procession of poplars, like a row of
sentinels standing guard. She had lived here alone since her father's
death, twenty years before. She was a kind, just woman, whose
pleasures were of a stately and sober sort; and she seemed not unhappy
in her loneliness, though she sometimes said gravely that she was the
last of her family, as if the fact had a great sadness for her.

She had some middle-aged and elderly cousins living at a distance, and
they came occasionally to see her; but there had been no young people
staying in the house for many years until this summer, when the
daughter of her youngest cousin had written to ask if she might come
to make a visit. She was a motherless girl of twenty, both older and
younger than her years. Her father and brother, who were civil
engineers, had taken some work upon the line of a railway in the far
Western country. Nelly had made many long journeys with them before
and since she had left school, and she had meant to follow them now,
after she had spent a fortnight with the old cousin whom she had not
seen since her childhood. Her father had laughed at the visit as a
freak, and had warned her of the dulness and primness of Longfield;
but the result was that the girl found herself very happy in the
comfortable home. She was still her own free, unfettered, lucky, and
sunshiny self; and the old house was so much pleasanter for the
girlish face and life, that Miss Horatia had, at first timidly and
then most heartily, begged her to stay for the whole summer, or even
the autumn, until her father was ready to come East. The name of Dane
was very dear to Miss Horatia, and she grew fonder of her guest. When
the village-people saw her glance at the girl affectionately, as they
sat together in the family-pew of a Sunday, or saw them walking
together after tea, they said it was a good thing for Miss Horatia;
how bright she looked; and no doubt she would leave all her money to
Nelly Dane, if she played her cards well.

But we will do Nelly justice, and say that she was not mercenary: she
would have scorned such a thought. She had grown to have a great love
for her cousin Horatia, and she liked to please her. She idealized
her, I have no doubt; and her repression, her grave courtesy and rare
words of approval, had a great fascination for a girl who had just
been used to people who chattered, and were upon most intimate terms
with you directly, and could forget you with equal ease. And Nelly
liked having so admiring and easily pleased an audience as Miss Dane
and her old servant Melissa. She liked to be queen of her company: she
had so many gay, bright stories of what had happened to herself and
her friends. Besides, she was clever with her needle, and had all
those practical gifts which elderly women approve so heartily in
girls. They liked her pretty clothes; she was sensible and economical
and busy; they praised her to each other and to the world, and even
stubborn old Andrew, the man, to whom Miss Horatia herself spoke with
deference, would do any thing she asked. Nelly would by no means
choose so dull a life as this for the rest of her days; but she
enjoyed it immensely for the time being. She instinctively avoided all
that would shock the grave dignity and old-school ideas of Miss Dane;
and somehow she never had felt happier or better satisfied with life.
I think it was because she was her best and most lady-like self. It
was not long before she knew the village-people almost as well as Miss
Dane did, and she became a very great favorite, as a girl so easily
can who is good-natured and pretty, and well versed in city fashions;
who has that tact and cleverness that come to such a nature from going
about the world and knowing many people.

She had not been in Longfield many weeks before she heard something of
Miss Dane's love-story; for one of her new friends said, in a
confidential moment, "Does your cousin ever speak to you about the
young man to whom she was engaged to be married?" And Nelly answered,
"No," with great wonder, and not without regret at her own ignorance.
After this she kept her eyes and ears open for whatever news of this
lover's existence might be found.

At last it happened one day that she had a good chance for a friendly
talk with Melissa; for who should know about the family affairs better
than she? Miss Horatia had taken her second-best parasol, with a deep
fringe, and had gone majestically down the street to do some morning
errands which she could trust to no one. Melissa was shelling peas at
the shady kitchen-doorstep, and Nelly came strolling round from the
garden, along the clean-swept flag-stones, and sat down to help her.
Melissa moved along, with a grim smile, to make room for her. "You
needn't bother yourself," said she: "I've nothing else to do. You'll
green your fingers all over." But she was evidently pleased to have

"My fingers will wash," said Nelly, "and I've nothing else to do
either. Please push the basket this way a little, or I shall scatter
the pods, and then you will scold." She went to work busily, while she
tried to think of the best way to find out the story she wished to

"There!" said Melissa, "I never told Miss H'ratia to get some citron,
and I settled yesterday to make some pound-cake this forenoon after I
got dinner along a piece. She's most out o' mustard too; she's set
about having mustard to eat with her beef, just as the old colonel was
before her. I never saw any other folks eat mustard with their roast
beef; but every family has their own tricks. I tied a thread round my
left-hand little finger purpose to remember that citron before she
came down this morning. I hope I ain't losing my fac'lties." It was
seldom that Melissa was so talkative as this at first. She was clearly
in a talkative mood.

"Melissa," asked Nelly, with great bravery, after a minute or two of
silence, "who was it that my cousin Horatia was going to many? It's
odd that I shouldn't know; but I don't remember father's ever speaking
of it, and I shouldn't think of asking her."

"I s'pose it'll seem strange to you," said Melissa, beginning to shell
the peas a great deal faster, "but, as many years as I have lived in
this house with her, - her mother, the old lady, fetched me up, - I
never knew Miss H'ratia to say a word about him. But there! she knows
I know, and we've got an understanding on many things we never talk
over as some folks would. I've heard about it from other folks. She
was visiting her great-aunt in Salem when she met with him. His name
was Carrick, and it was presumed they was going to be married when he
came home from the voyage he was lost on. He had the promise of going
out master of a new ship. They didn't keep company long: it was made
up of a sudden, and folks here didn't get hold of the story till some
time after. I've heard some that ought to know say it was only talk,
and they never were engaged to be married no more than I am."

"You say he was lost at sea?" asked Nelly.

"The ship never was heard from. They supposed she was run down in the
night out in the South Seas somewhere. It was a good while before they
gave up expecting news; but none ever come. I think she set every
thing by him, and took it very hard losing of him. But there! she'd
never say a word. You're the freest-spoken Dane I ever saw; but you
may take it from 'our mother's folks. I know he gave her that whale's
tooth with the ship drawn on it that's on the mantel-piece in her
room. She may have a sight of other keepsakes, for all I know; but it
ain't likely." And here there was a pause, in which Nelly grew
sorrowful as she thought of the long waiting for tidings of the
missing ship, and of her cousin's solitary life. It was very odd to
think of prim Miss Horatia's being in love with a sailor. There was a
young lieutenant in the navy whom Nelly herself liked dearly, and he
had gone away on a long voyage. "Perhaps she's been just as well off,"
said Melissa. "She's dreadful set, y'r cousin H'ratia is, and sailors
is high-tempered men. I've heard it hinted that he was a fast fellow;
and if a woman's got a good home like this, and's able to do for
herself, she'd better stay there. I ain't going to give up a certainty
for an uncertainty, - that's what _I_ always tell 'em," added Melissa,
with great decision, as if she were besieged by lovers; but Nelly
smiled inwardly as she thought of the courage it would take to support
any one who wished to offer her companion his heart and hand. It would
need desperate energy to scale the walls of that garrison.

The green peas were all shelled presently, and Melissa said gravely
that she should have to be lazy now until it was time to put in the
meat. She wasn't used to being helped, unless there was extra work,
and she calculated to have one piece of work join on to another.
However, it was no account, and she was obliged for the company; and
Nelly laughed merrily as she stood washing her hands in the shining
old copper basin at the sink. The sun would not be round that side of
the house for a long time yet, and the pink and blue morning-glories
were still in their full bloom and freshness. They grew over the
window, twined on strings exactly the same distance apart. There was a
box crowded full of green houseleeks down at the side of the door:
they were straying over the edge, and Melissa stooped stiffly down
with an air of disapproval at their untidiness. "They straggle all
over every thing," said she, "and they're no kind of use, only Miss's
mother she set every thing by 'em. She fetched 'em from home with her
when she was married, her mother kep' a box, and they came from
England. Folks used to say they was good for bee-stings." Then she
went into the inner kitchen, and Nelly went slowly away along the
flag-stones to the garden from whence she had come. The garden-gate
opened with a tired creak, and shut with a clack; and she noticed how
smooth and shiny the wood was where the touch of so many hands had
worn it. There was a great pleasure to this girl in finding herself
among such old and well-worn things. She had been for a long time in
cities or at the West; and among the old fashions and ancient
possessions of Long-field it seemed to her that every thing had its
story, and she liked the quietness and unchangeableness with which
life seemed to go on from year to year. She had seen many a dainty or
gorgeous garden, but never one that she had liked so well as this,
with its herb-bed and its broken rows of currant-bushes, its tall
stalks of white lilies and its wandering rose-bushes and honeysuckles,
that had bloomed beside the straight paths for so many more summers
than she herself had lived. She picked a little nosegay of late red
roses, and carried it into the house to put on the parlor-table. The
wide hall-door was standing open, with its green outer blinds closed,
and the old hall was dim and cool. Miss Horatia did not like a glare
of sunlight, and she abhorred flies with her whole heart. Nelly could
hardly see her way through the rooms, it had been so bright out of
doors; but she brought the tall champagne-glass of water from the
dining-room and put the flowers in their place. Then she looked at two
silhouettes which stood on the mantel in carved ebony frames. They
were portraits of an uncle of Miss Dane and his wife. Miss Dane had
thought Nelly looked like this uncle the evening before. She could not
see the likeness herself; but the pictures suggested something else,
and she turned suddenly, and went hurrying up the stairs to Miss
Horatia's own room, where she remembered to have seen a group of
silhouettes fastened to the wall. There were seven or eight, and she
looked at the young men among them most carefully; but they were all
marked with the name of Dane: they were Miss Horatia's brothers, and
our friend hung them on their little brass hooks again with a feeling
of disappointment. Perhaps her cousin had a quaint miniature of the
lover, painted on ivory, and shut in a worn red morocco case; she
hoped she should get a sight of it some day. This story of the lost
sailor had a wonderful charm for the girl. Miss Horatia had never been
so interesting to her before. How she must have mourned for the lover,
and missed him, and hoped there would yet be news from the ship! Nelly
thought she would tell her her own little love-story some day, though
there was not much to tell yet, in spite of there being so much to
think about. She built a little castle in Spain as she sat in the
front-window-seat of the upper hall, and dreamed pleasant stories for
herself until the sharp noise of the front-gate-latch waked her; and
she looked out through the blind to see her cousin coming up the walk.

Miss Horatia looked hot and tired, and her thoughts were not of any
fashion of romance. "It is going to be very warm," said she. "I have
been worrying ever since I have been gone, because I forgot to ask
Andrew to pick those white currants for the minister's wife. I
promised that she should have them early this morning. Would you go
out to the kitchen, and ask Melissa to step in for a moment, my dear?"

Melissa was picking over red currants to make a pie, and rose from her
chair with a little unwillingness. "I guess they could wait until
afternoon," said she, as she came back. "Miss H'ratia's in a fret
because she forgot about sending some white currants to the
minister's. I told her that Andrew had gone to have the horses shod,
and wouldn't be back till near noon. I don't see why part of the folks
in the world should kill themselves trying to suit the rest. As long
as I haven't got any citron for the cake, I suppose I might go out and
pick 'em," added Melissa ungraciously. "I'll get some to set away for
tea anyhow."

Miss Dane had a letter to write after she had rested from her walk;
and Nelly soon left her in the dark parlor, and went back to the
sunshiny garden to help Melissa, who seemed to be taking life with
more than her usual disapproval. She was sheltered by an enormous
gingham sunbonnet.

"I set out to free my mind to your cousin H'ratia this morning," said
she, as Nelly crouched down at the opposite side of the bush where she
was picking; "but we can't agree on that p'int, and it's no use. I
don't say nothing. You might's well ask the moon to face about and
travel the other way as to try to change Miss H'ratia's mind. I ain't
going to argue it with her: it ain't my place; I know that as well as
anybody. She'd run her feet off for the minister's folks any day; and,
though I do say he's a fair preacher, they haven't got a speck o'
consideration nor fac'lty; they think the world was made for them, but
I think likely they'll find out it wasn't; most folks do. When he
first was settled here, I had a fit o' sickness, and he come to see me
when I was getting over the worst of it. He did the best he could, I
always took it very kind of him; but he made a prayer, and he kep'
sayin' 'this aged handmaid,' I should think, a dozen times. Aged
handmaid!" said Melissa scornfully: "I don't call myself aged yet, and
that was more than ten years ago. I never made pretensions to being
younger than I am; but you'd 'a' thought I was a topplin' old creatur'
going on a hundred."

Nelly laughed; Melissa looked cross, and moved on to the next
currant-bush. "So that's why you don't like the minister?" But the
question did not seem to please.

"I hope I never should be set against a preacher by such as that." And
Nelly hastened to change the subject; but there was to be a last word:
"I like to see a minister that's solid minister right straight
through, not one of these veneered folks. But old Parson Croden spoilt
me for setting under any other preaching."

"I wonder," said Nelly, after a little, "if Cousin Horatia has any
picture of that Captain Carrick."

"He wasn't captain," said Melissa. "I never heard that it was any more
than they talked of giving him a ship next voyage."

"And you never saw him? He never came here to see her?"

"Bless you, no! She met with him at Salem, where she was spending the
winter, and he went right away to sea. I've heard a good deal more
about it of late years than I ever did at the time. I suppose the
Salem folks talked about it enough. All I know is, there was other
good matches that offered to her since, and couldn't get her; and I
suppose it was on account of her heart's being buried in the deep with
him." And this unexpected bit of sentiment, spoken in Melissa's
grummest tone, seemed so funny to her young companion, that she bent
very low to pick from a currant-twig close to the ground, and could
not ask any more questions for some time.

"I have seen her a sight o' times when I knew she was thinking about
him," Melissa went on presently, this time with a tenderness in her
voice that touched Nelly's heart. "She's been dreadful lonesome. She
and the old colonel, her father, wasn't much company to each other,
and she always kep' every thing to herself. The only time she ever
said a word to me was one night six or seven years ago this Christmas.
They got up a Christmas-tree in the vestry, and she went, and I did
too; I guess everybody in the whole church and parish that could crawl
turned out to go. The children they made a dreadful racket. I'd ha'
got my ears took off if I had been so forth-putting when I was little.
I was looking round for Miss H'ratia 'long at the last of the evening,
and somebody said they'd seen her go home. I hurried, and I couldn't
see any light in the house; and I was afraid she was sick or
something. She come and let me in, and I see she had been a-cryin'. I
says, 'Have you heard any bad news?' But she says, 'No,' and began to
cry again, real pitiful. 'I never felt so lonesome in my life,' says
she, 'as I did down there. It's a dreadful thing to be left all alone
in the world.' I did feel for her; but I couldn't seem to say a word.
I put some pine-chips I had handy for morning on the kitchen-fire, and
I made her up a cup o' good hot tea quick's I could, and took it to
her; and I guess she felt better. She never went to bed till three
o'clock that night. I couldn't shut my eyes till I heard her come
upstairs. There! I set every thing by Miss H'ratia. I haven't got no
folks either. I was left an orphan over to Deerfield, where Miss's
mother come from, and she took me out o' the town-farm to bring up. I
remember, when I come here, I was so small I had a box to stand up on
when I helped wash the dishes. There's nothing I ain't had to make me
comfortable, and I do just as I'm a mind to, and call in extra help
every day of the week if I give the word; but I've had my lonesome
times, and I guess Miss H'ratia knew."

Nelly was very much touched by this bit of a story, it was a new idea
to her that Melissa should have so much affection and be so
sympathetic. People never will get over being surprised that
chestnut-burrs are not as rough inside as they are outside, and the
girl's heart warmed toward the old woman who had spoken with such
unlooked-for sentiment and pathos. Melissa went to the house with her
basket, and Nelly also went in, but only to put on another hat, and
see if it were straight, in a minute spent before the old mirror, and
then she hurried down the long elm-shaded street to buy a pound of
citron for the cake. She left it on the kitchen-table when she came
back, and nobody ever said any thing about it; only there were two
delicious pound-cakes - a heart and a round - on a little blue china
plate beside Nelly's plate at tea.

After tea Nelly and Miss Dane sat in the front-doorway, - the elder
woman in a high-backed arm-chair, and the younger on the doorstep. The
tree-toads and crickets were tuning up heartily, the stars showed a
little through the trees, and the elms looked heavy and black against
the sky. The fragrance of the white lilies in the garden blew through
the hall. Miss Horatia was tapping the ends of her fingers together.
Probably she was not thinking of any thing in particular. She had had
a very peaceful day, with the exception of the currants; and they had,
after all, gone to the parsonage some time before noon. Beside this,
the minister had sent word that the delay made no trouble; for his
wife had unexpectedly gone to Downton to pass the day and night. Miss
Horatia had received the business-letter for which she had been
looking for several days; so there was nothing to regret deeply for
that day, and there seemed to be nothing for one to dread on the

"Cousin Horatia," asked Nelly, "are you sure you like having me here?
Are you sure I don't trouble you?"

"Of course not," said Miss Dane, without a bit of sentiment in her
tone: "I find it very pleasant having young company, though I am used
to being alone; and I don't mind it so much as I suppose you would."

"I should mind it very much," said the girl softly.

"You would get used to it, as I have," said Miss Dane. "Yes, dear, I
like having you here better and better. I hate to think of your going
away." And she smoothed Nelly's hair as if she thought she might have
spoken coldly at first, and wished to make up for it. This rare caress
was not without its effect.

"I don't miss father and Dick so very much," owned Nelly frankly,
"because I have grown used to their coming and going; but sometimes I
miss people - Cousin Horatia, did I ever say any thing to you about
George Forest?"

"I think I remember the name," answered Miss Dane.

"He is in the navy, and he has gone a long voyage, and - I think every
thing of him. I missed him awfully; but it is almost time to get a
letter from him."

"Does your father approve of him?" asked Miss Dane, with great
propriety. "You are very young yet, and you must not think of such a
thing carelessly. I should be so much grieved if you threw away your

"Oh! we are not really engaged," said Nelly, who felt a little
chilled. "I suppose we are, too: only nobody knows yet. Yes, father
knows him as well as I do, and he is very fond of him. Of course I
should not keep it from father; but he guessed at it himself. Only
it's such a long cruise, Cousin Horatia, - three years, I

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