Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Poganuc people: their loves and lives online

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POGANUC PEOPLE ***




Produced by David Edwards, John Campbell and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive)









TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE

Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.

One occurrence of the oe ligature has been replaced by oe, in the word
'pharmacopoeia'.

One occurrence of the 'pointing hand' symbol has been replaced by ==>.

Obvious typographical errors and punctuation errors have been
corrected after careful comparison with other occurrences within
the text and consultation of external sources.

More detail can be found at the end of the book.




POGANUC PEOPLE.




MRS. STOWE'S RECENT BOOKS.

_Among the writers of fiction there is no single name that stands
higher than that of Mrs. Stowe, as one whose style is always fresh,
attractive, and charming, whose wit and humor are genuine, whose
depiction of human nature is apt and true, and the atmosphere of
whose writings is invariably wholesome, clean, stimulating to the
moral sense. The following books from her pen may be had of all
booksellers; or, if not, will be mailed, postpaid, to any address on
receipt of the price, by_

FORDS, HOWARD, & HULBERT, 27 Park Place, N.Y.


MY WIFE AND I: or, Harry Henderson's History. A Novel.
_Illustrated._ 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.

WE AND OUR NEIGHBORS: The Records of an Unfashionable Street. A
Novel. _Illustrated._ 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.

BETTY'S BRIGHT IDEA: and Other Tales. Comprising "Betty's Bright
Idea," "Deacon Pitkin's Farm," and "The First Christmas in New
England." _Illustrated._ 12mo. Cloth, 75 cts.

POGANUC PEOPLE: Their Loves and Lives. A Novel. _Illustrated._
12mo. Cloth, $1.50. (_Just out._)

BIBLE HEROINES: Narrative Biographies of Prominent Hebrew Women
in the Patriarchal, National and Christian Eras. Imperial Octavo.
_Spirited colored frontispiece_, "Deborah the Prophetess."
Elegantly bound, red burnished edges. $2.

FOOTSTEPS OF THE MASTER: Studies in the Life of Christ. With
Illustrations and Illuminated Titles. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.




[Illustration: THE PARSON'S DAUGHTER.

"_Oh, Nabby, Nabby! do tell me what they are doing up at your church.
I've seen 'em all day carrying armfulls and armfulls - ever so
much - of spruce and pine up that way._" - p. 8.]




POGANUC PEOPLE:


THEIR LOVES AND LIVES.


BY HARRIET BEECHER STOWE.

_Author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," "My Wife and I," "We and Our
Neighbors," etc._


With Illustrations.

[Illustration: (Publisher's colophon.)]

NEW YORK:
FORDS, HOWARD, & HULBERT.




COPYRIGHT, 1878, A.D.




CONTENTS.


CHAPTER PAGE

I. DISSOLVING VIEWS, 7

II. DOLLY, 16

III. THE ILLUMINATION, 24

IV. DOLLY'S ADVENTURE, 39

V. DOLLY'S FIRST CHRISTMAS DAY, 48

VI. VILLAGE POLITICIANS, 61

VII. THE DOCTOR'S SERMON, 68

VIII. MR. COAN ANSWERS THE DOCTOR, 81

IX. ELECTION DAY IN POGANUC, 90

X. DOLLY'S PERPLEXITIES, 107

XI. DOLLY AND NABBY ARE INVITED OUT, 115

XII. DOLLY GOES INTO COMPANY, 127

XIII. COLONEL DAVENPORT'S EXPERIENCES, 138

XIV. THE PUZZLE OF POGANUC, 150

XV. THE POGANUC PUZZLE SOLVED, 160

XVI. POGANUC PARSONAGE, 166

XVII. SPRING AND SUMMER COME AT LAST, 181

XVIII. DOLLY'S FOURTH OF JULY, 190

XIX. SUMMER DAYS IN POGANUC, 203

XX. GOING "A-CHESTNUTTING," 220

XXI. DOLLY'S SECOND CHRISTMAS, 228

XXII. THE APPLE BEE, 239

XXIII. SEEKING A DIVINE IMPULSE, 250

XXIV. "IN SUCH AN HOUR AS YE THINK NOT," 260

XXV. DOLLY BECOMES ILLUSTRIOUS, 267

XXVI. THE VICTORY, 274

XXVII. THE FUNERAL, 280

XXVIII. DOLLY AT THE WICKET GATE, 290

XXIX. THE CONFLICT, 294

XXX. THE CRISIS, 300

XXXI. THE JOY OF HARVEST, 309

XXXII. SIX YEARS LATER, 317

XXXIII. THE DOCTOR MAKES A DISCOVERY, 325

XXXIV. HIEL AND NABBY, 330

XXXV. MISS DEBBY ARRIVES, 337

XXXVI. PREPARATIONS FOR SEEING LIFE, 344

XXXVII. LAST WORDS, 350

XXXVIII. DOLLY'S FIRST LETTER TO BOSTON, 354

XXXIX. DOLLY'S SECOND LETTER, 360

XL. ALFRED DUNBAR TO EUGENE SINCLAIR, 365

XLI. FINALE, 370




ILLUSTRATIONS.


THE PARSON'S DAUGHTER, FRONTISPIECE.

CASTE, PAGE 67

HIEL IN HIS GLORY, " 109

CHESTNUTTING, " 226




POGANUC PEOPLE.




CHAPTER I.

DISSOLVING VIEWS.


The scene is a large, roomy, clean New England kitchen of some sixty
years ago. There was the great wide fire-place, with its crane and
array of pot-hooks; there was the tall black clock in the corner,
ticking in response to the chirp of the crickets around the broad,
flat stone hearth. The scoured tin and pewter on the dresser caught
flickering gleams of brightness from the western sunbeams that
shone through the network of elm-boughs, rattling and tapping as
the wind blew them against the window. It was not quite half-past
four o'clock, yet the December sun hung low and red in the western
horizon, telling that the time of the shortest winter days was come.
Everything in the ample room shone with whiteness and neatness;
everything was ranged, put up, and in order, as if work were some
past and bygone affair, hardly to be remembered. The only living
figure in this picture of still life was that of a strapping, buxom
Yankee maiden, with plump arms stripped to the elbow and hands
plunged deep in the white, elastic cushion of puffy dough, which rose
under them as she kneaded.

Apparently pleasant thoughts were her company in her solitude, for
her round, brown eyes twinkled with a pleased sparkle, and every now
and then she broke into fragments of psalmody, which she practiced
over and over, and then nodded her head contentedly, as if satisfied
that she had caught the tune.

Suddenly the outside door flew open and little Dolly Cushing burst
into the kitchen, panting and breathless, her cheeks glowing with
exercise in face of the keen winter wind.

In she came, noisy and busy, dropping her knitting-work and
spelling-book in her eagerness, shutting the door behind her with a
cheerful bang, and opening conversation without stopping to get her
breath:

"Oh, Nabby, Nabby! do tell me what they are doing up at your church.
I've seen 'em all day carrying armfulls and armfulls - ever so
much - spruce and pine up that way, and Jim Brace and Tom Peters told
me they were going to have a 'lumination there, and when I asked
what a 'lumination was they only laughed at me and called me a
Presbyterian. Don't you think it's a shame, Nabby, that the big boys
will laugh at me so and call me names and won't tell me anything?"

"Oh, land o' Goshen, Dolly, what do you mind them boys for?" said
Nabby; "boys is mostly hateful when girls is little; but we take our
turn by and by," she said with a complacent twinkle of her brown
eyes. "I make them stand around, I bet ye, and you will when you get
older."

"But, Nabby, what is a 'lumination?"

"Well now, Dolly, you jest pick up your book, and put up your
knittin' work, and sweep out that snow you've tracked in, and hang up
your bonnet and cloak, and I'll tell you all about it," said Nabby,
taking up her whole cushion of dough and letting it down the other
side with a great bound and beginning kneading again.

The little maiden speedily complied with all her requisitions and
came and stood, eager and breathless, by the bread bowl.

And a very pretty picture she made there, with her rosy mouth just
parted to show her little white teeth, and the afternoon sunshine
glinting through the window brightness to go to the brown curls that
hung over her round, white forehead, her dark blue eyes kindling with
eagerness and curiosity.

"Well, you see," said Nabby, "to-morrow's Christmas; and they've
been dressin' the church with ground pine and spruce boughs, and
made it just as beautiful as can be, and they're goin' to have a
great gold star over the chancel. General Lewis sent clear to Boston
to get the things to make it of, and Miss Ida Lewis she made it;
and to-night they're going to 'luminate. They put a candle in every
single pane of glass in that air church, and it'll be all just as
light as day. When they get 'em all lighted up you can see that air
church clear down to North Poganuc."

Now this sentence was a perfect labyrinth of mystery to Dolly; for
she did not know what Christmas was, she did not know what the
chancel was, she never saw anything dressed with pine, and she was
wholly in the dark what it was all about; and yet her bosom heaved,
her breath grew short, her color came and went, and she trembled with
excitement. Something bright, beautiful, glorious, must be coming
into her life, and oh, if she could only see it!

"Oh, Nabby, are you going?" she said, with quivering eagerness.

"Yes, I'm goin' with Jim Sawin. I belong to the singers, and I'm
agoin' early to practice on the anthem."

"Oh, Nabby, won't you take me? Do, Nabby!" said Dolly, piteously.

"Oh, land o' Goshen! no, child; you mustn't think on't. I couldn't
do that noways. Your pa never would hear of it, nor Mis' Cushing
neither. You see, your pa don't b'lieve in Christmas."

"What is Christmas, Nabby?"

"Why, it's the day Christ was born - that's Christmas."

"Why, my papa believes Christ was born," said Dolly, with an injured
air; "you needn't tell me that he don't. I've heard him read all
about it in the Testament."

"I didn't say he didn't, did I?" said Nabby; "but your papa ain't
a 'Piscopal, and he don't believe in keeping none of them air
prayer-book days - Christmas, nor Easter, nor nothin'," said Nabby,
with a generous profusion of negatives. "Up to the 'Piscopal
church they keep Christmas, and they don't keep it down to your
meetin'-house; that's the long and short on't," and Nabby turned her
batch of dough over with a final flounce, as if to emphasize the
statement, and, giving one last poke in the middle of the fair, white
cushion, she proceeded to rub the paste from her hands and to cover
her completed batch with a clean white towel and then with a neat
comforter of quilted cotton. Then, establishing it in the warmest
corner of the fireplace, she proceeded to wash her hands and look at
the clock and make other movements to show that the conversation had
come to an end.

Poor little Dolly stood still, looking wistful and bewildered. The
tangle of brown and golden curls on the outside of her little head
was not more snarled than the conflicting ideas in the inside. This
great and wonderful idea of Christmas, and all this confusion of
images, of gold stars and green wreaths and illuminated windows
and singing and music - all done because Christ was born, and yet
something that her papa did not approve of - it was a hopeless puzzle.
After standing thinking for a minute or two she resumed:

"But, Nabby, _why_ don't my papa like it? and why don't we have a
'lumination in our meeting-house?"

"Bless your heart, child, they never does them things to Presbyterian
meetin's. Folks' ways is different, and them air is 'Piscopal ways.
For my part I'm glad father signed off to the 'Piscopalians, for it's
a great deal jollier."

"Oh, dear! my papa won't ever sign off," said Dolly, mournfully.

"To be sure he won't. Why, what nonsense that is!" said Nabby, with
that briskness with which grown people shake off the griefs of
children. "Of course _he_ won't when he's a minister, so what's the
use of worryin'? You jest shet up now, for I've got to hurry and get
tea; 'cause your pa and ma are goin' over to the lecture to-night in
North Poganuc school-house and they'll want their supper early."

Dolly still hung about wishfully.

"Nabby, if I should ask papa, and he _should_ say I might go, would
you take me?" said Dolly.

Now, Nabby was a good-natured soul enough and in a general way
fond of children; she encouraged Miss Dolly's prattling visits to
the kitchen, let her stand about surveying her in various domestic
processes, and encouraged that free expression of opinion in
conversation which in those days was entirely repressed on the part
of juveniles in the presence of their elders. She was, in fact, fond
of Dolly in a certain way, but not fond enough of her to interfere
with the serious avocations of life; and Nabby was projecting very
serious and delicate movements of diplomacy that night. She was going
to the church with Jim Sawin, who was on the very verge of a declared
admiration, not in the least because her heart inclined toward Jim,
but as a means of bringing Ike Peters to capitulation in a quarrel of
some weeks' standing. Jim Sawin's "folks," as she would have phrased
it, were "meetin'ers," while Ike Peters was a leading member of the
Episcopal choir, and it was designed expressly to aggravate him that
she was to come in exhibiting her captive in triumph. To have "a
child 'round under her feet," while engaged in conducting affairs
of such delicacy, was manifestly impossible - so impossible that she
thought stern repression of any such idea the very best policy.

"Now, Dolly Cushing, you jest shet up - for 'tain't no use talkin'.
Your pa nor your ma wouldn't hear on't; and besides, little girls
like you must go to bed early. They can't be up 'night-hawkin','
and goin' round in the cold. You might catch cold and die like
little Julia Cavers. Little girls must be in bed and asleep by eight
o'clock."

Dolly stood still with a lowering brow. Just then the world looked
very dark. Her little rose-leaf of an under lip rolled out and
quivered, and large bright drops began falling one by one over her
cheeks.

Nabby had a soft spot in her heart, and felt these signs of
affliction; but she stood firm.

"Now, Dolly, I'm sorry; but you can't go. So you jest be a good girl
and not say no more about it, and don't cry, and I'll tell you what
I'll do: I'll buy you a sugar dog down to the store, and I'll tell
you all about it to-morrow."

Dolly had seen these sugar dogs in the window of the store,
resplendent with their blue backs and yellow ears and pink
tails - designed probably to represent dogs as they exist at the end
of the rainbow. Her heart had burned within her with hopeless desire
to call one of these beauties her own; and Nabby's promise brought
out a gleaming smile through the showery atmosphere of her little
face. A sugar dog might reconcile her to life.

"Now, you must promise me 'certain true as black is blue,'" said
Nabby, adjuring by an apparently irrational form of conjuration in
vogue among the children in those times. "You must promise you won't
say a word about this 'ere thing to your pa or ma; for they wouldn't
hear of your goin', and if they would I shouldn't take you. I really
couldn't. It would be very inconvenient."

Dolly heaved a great sigh, but thought of the sugar dog, and calmed
down the tempest that seemed struggling to rise in her little breast.
A rainbow of hope rose over the cloud of disappointment, and a sugar
dog with yellow ears and pink tail gleamed consolingly through it.




CHAPTER II.

DOLLY.


Our little Dolly was a late autumn chicken, the youngest of ten
children, the nursing, rearing and caring for whom had straitened the
limited salary of Parson Cushing, of Poganuc Center, and sorely worn
on the nerves and strength of the good wife who plied the laboring
oar in these performances.

It was Dolly's lot to enter the family at a period when babies
were no longer a novelty, when the house was full of the wants and
clamors of older children, and the mother at her very wits' end with
a confusion of jackets and trowsers, soap, candles and groceries,
and the endless harassments of making both ends meet which pertain
to the lot of a poor country minister's wife. Consequently Dolly
was disposed of as she grew up in all those short-hand methods by
which children were taught to be the least possible trouble to their
elders. She was taught to come when called, and do as she was bid
without a question or argument, to be quenched in bed at the earliest
possible hour at night, and to speak only when spoken to in the
presence of her elders. All this was a dismal repression to Dolly,
for she was by nature a lively, excitable little thing, bursting with
questions that she longed to ask, and with comments and remarks that
she burned to make, and so she escaped gladly to the kitchen where
Nabby, the one hired girl, who was much in the same situation of
repressed communicativeness, encouraged her conversational powers.

On the whole, although it never distinctly occurred to Dolly to
murmur at her lot in life yet at times she sighed over the dreadful
insignificance of being only a little girl in a great family of
grown up people. For even Dolly's brothers nearest her own age were
studying in the academy and spouting scraps of superior Latin at her
to make her stare and wonder at their learning. They were tearing,
noisy, tempestuous boys, good natured enough and willing to pet her
at intervals, but prompt to suggest that it was "time for Dolly to
go to bed" when her questions or her gambols interfered with their
evening pleasures.

Dolly was a robust, healthy little creature, never ailing in any way,
and consequently received none of the petting which a more delicate
child might have claimed, and the general course of her experience
impressed her with the mournful conviction that she was always liable
to be in the way - as she commonly was, with her childish curiosity,
her burning desire to see and hear and know all that interested
the grown people above her. Dolly sometimes felt her littleness
and insignificance as quite a burden, and longed to be one of the
grown-up people. _They_ got civil answers when they asked questions,
instead of being told not to talk, and they were not sent to bed
the minute it was dark, no matter what pleasant things were going
on about them. Once Dolly remembered to have had sore throat with
fever. The doctor was sent for. Her mother put away all her work and
held her in her arms. Her father came down out of his study and sat
up rocking her nearly all night, and her noisy, roistering brothers
came softly to her door and inquired how she was, and Dolly was only
sorry that the cold passed off so soon, and she found herself healthy
and insignificant as ever. Being gifted with an active fancy, she
sometimes imagined a scene when she should be sick and die, and her
father and mother and everybody would cry over her, and there would
be a funeral for her as there was for a little Julia Cavers, one of
her playmates. She could see no drawback to the interest of the scene
except that she could not be there to enjoy her own funeral and see
how much she was appreciated; so on the whole she turned her visions
in another direction and fancied the time when she should be a grown
woman and at liberty to do just as she pleased.

It must not be imagined, however, that Dolly had an unhappy
childhood. Indeed it may be questioned whether, if she had lived in
our day when the parents often seem to be sitting at the feet of
their children and humbly inquiring after their sovereign will and
pleasure, she would have been much happier than she was. She could
not have all she wanted, and the most petted child on earth cannot.
She had learned to do without what she could not get, and to bear
what she did not like; two sources of happiness and peace which we
should judge to be unknown to many modern darlings. For the most part
Dolly had learned to sail her own little boat wisely among the bigger
and bustling crafts of the older generation.

There were no amusements then specially provided for children. There
were no children's books; there were no Sunday-schools to teach
bright little songs and to give children picnics and presents. It
was a grown people's world, and not a child's world, that existed
in those days. Even children's toys of the period were so poor and
so few that, in comparison with our modern profusion, they could
scarcely be said to exist.

Dolly, however, had her playthings, as every child of lively fancy
will. Childhood is poetic and creative, and can make to itself toys
out of nothing. Dolly had the range of the great wood-pile in the
back yard, where, at the yearly "wood-spell," the farmers deposited
the fuel needed for the long, terrible winters, and that woodpile was
a world of treasure to her. She skipped, and sung, and climbed among
its intricacies and found there treasures of wonder. Green velvet
mosses, little white trees of lichen that seemed to her to have tiny
apples upon them, long grey-bearded mosses and fine scarlet cups
and fairy caps she collected and treasured. She arranged landscapes
of these, where green mosses made the fields, and little sprigs of
spruce and ground-pine the trees, and bits of broken glass imitated
rivers and lakes, reflecting the overshadowing banks. She had, too,
hoards of chestnuts and walnuts which a squirrel might have envied,
picked up with her own hands from under the yellow autumn leaves; and
she had - chief treasure of all - a wooden doll, with staring glass
eyes, that had been sent her by her grandmother in Boston, which doll
was the central point in all her arrangements. To her she showed
the chestnuts and walnuts; she gave to her the jay's feathers and
the bluebird's wing which the boys had given to her; she made her a
bed of divers colors and she made her a set of tea-cups out of the
backbone of a codfish. She brushed and curled her hair till she took
all the curl out of it, and washed all the paint off her cheeks in
the zeal of motherly ablutions.

In fact nobody suspected that Dolly was not the happiest of children,
as she certainly was one of the busiest and healthiest, and when that
evening her two brothers came in from the Academy, noisy and breezy,
and tossed her up in their long arms, her laugh rung gay and loud, as
if there were no such thing as disappointment in the world.

She pursed her mouth very tight for fear that she should let out
something on the forbidden subject at the supper-table. But it
was evident that nothing could be farther from the mind of her
papa, who, at intervals, was expounding to his wife the difference
between natural and moral inability as drawn out in a pamphlet
he was preparing to read at the next ministers' meeting - remarks
somewhat interrupted by reproof to the boys for giggling at table and
surreptitiously feeding Spring, the dog, in contravention of family
rules.

It is not to be supposed that Will and Tom Cushing, though they were
minister's boys, were not _au courant_ in all that was going on
note-worthy in the parish. In fact, they were fully versed in all
the details of the projected ceremonies at the church and resolved
to be in at the show, but maintained a judicious reticence as to
their intentions lest, haply, they might be cut short by a positive
interdict.

The Episcopal church at Poganuc Center was of recent origin. It
was a small, insignificant building compared with the great square
three-decker of a meeting-house which occupied conspicuously the
green in Poganuc Center. The minister was not a man particularly
gifted in any of those points of pulpit excellence which Dr. Cushing
would be likely to appreciate, and the Doctor had considered it
hitherto too small and unimportant an affair to be worth even a


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