Zachariah Atwell Mudge.

The luck of Alden Farm: with a sketch of the history of Crane's Corner, where luck was slowly learned. The whole intended as a safe guide of all young people to good luck. online

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Online LibraryZachariah Atwell MudgeThe luck of Alden Farm: with a sketch of the history of Crane's Corner, where luck was slowly learned. The whole intended as a safe guide of all young people to good luck. → online text (page 1 of 15)
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I



^



^



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\



THE



LUCK OF ALDEN FARM:



WITH



A SKETCH OF THE HISTOEY OF CRANE'S CORNER,

WHERE " LUCK " WAS SLOWLY LEAHXED.



THE WHOLE INTENDED AS A SAFE GUIDE OF ALL YOUNG
PEOPLE TO "GOOD LUCK."



BY
REV. Z.'aV^'mUDGE,

AUTHOE OF " SHELL COVE," ETC.



Boston:
Published by 2). Xothrop & do.

(Dover, J^. H.: G. T. (Lay & Co,



1S78.



1



A5T0R, Lir;.:/;,^



1924




Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873,

Bt D. LOTHROP & CO.,

In the OflBce of the Librarian of Congress, at "Washington.



C'



-r \



■jj^r^Vf,£fiii



es.




You are a mean temperance meddler ! Page 275.



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER I. PAGE

A Hint, 5

CHAPTER II.
Sunshine, 17

CHAPTER III.
Shadows, 35

CHAPTER IV.
The CHiLDitENS' Meeting, ^ 50

CHAPTER V.
The Raising, 63

CHAPTER VI.
MoEE Luck at Alden Fakm, " 76 ^

CHAPTER VII.
The Husking, 95

CHAPTER VIII.
Attee the Husking, 115

-^. CHAPTER IX.

The New Schoolmaster, 136

^ CHAPTER X.

■^rH A Breeze at Crone's Corner, 152

X CHAPTER XI.

_ij The Winter School, 175

^.^ CHAPTER XII.

•^ The Examination, 203

3



4 CONTENTS.

CHAPTER XIII. PAGE

Pattt Vose, , 219

CHAPTER XIV.
Studying by Rule, 239

CHAPTER XV.
"MosePond," 255

CHAPTER XVI.
A New Life, 277

CHAPTER XVII.
Burdened Heabts, 297

CHAPTER XVIII.
The Comforter, 318

CHAPTER XIX.
The Deceivers and the Deceived, .... 330

CHAPTER XX.
Lonely and Comfortless, 349

CHAPTER XXI.
The Angel Helper, 368

CHAPTER XXII.
The Jubilee, 880



THE LUCK OF ALDEN FARM.



CHAPTER I. •

A HINT.

The homestead of Alden Farm, as a whole,
is, at the time of our story, a good speci-
men of the New England homesteads of "the
olden time." The old chimney is there, in
the center of the house, and contains bricks
enough for all the chimneys of three, first
class, modern farm houses. But the old fire-
place, its settle, huge crane, large, winter
back-logs, around whose great fire the chil-
dren could scarcely keep comfortably warm,
and up whose immense flue the heat rushed,
into the thin, cold atmosphere, as if bravely



6 THE LUCK OF ALDEN FAKM.

seekinor to warm "all out doors," — this old
fire-place, we say, is not there.

The proprietor — we mean plain John Alden,
the farmer and owner of the house and its
farm — does not retain old things because
they are old, nor reject proposed changes
because they are new. He was in the prime
of life when- cooking-stoves were proposed
as a substitute for the old fire-place. John,
when in town with a load of his best oak
wood, which had begun to bring *^a good
price" — say three dollars and a half a cord,
stepped into a stove dealer's to look at 'Hhe
new notion." The man of stoves, with a
sharp eye to trade, opened its doors to ex-
hibit its fire-range, oven and drafts, paraded
its shining furniture, with a proud air, as
much as to say, " Mister, see that ! " and
talked the while in a manner which meant
trade.

John Alden whistled, thrust his hands into
his pockets, examined the article closely, made



A HINT. 7

little talk with the man, and finally stood
some minutes in musing silence.

"What's the price of that arrangement?"
said John, breaking the silence.

" Only thirty-six dollars ! " said the stove
man, blandly.

"I'll talk with Patience about it," said
John, turning resolutely away.

John mounted the seat of his heavy ox-
wagon, and rode off whistling, while the
disappointed man of trade walked back to
his bench, muttering, "The simpleton don't
know his mind, but must ask his old woman
at home ! Such old fellows would not pay
thirty-six dollars for all the improvements in
Christendom ! "

"I'll take that article," said John Alden,
ju§t three weeks from this time, as he walked
into the stove dealer's place of business, at
the same time drawing a purse of silver dol-
lars from his pocket.

John and his wife, Patience, had talked



8 THE LUCK OF ALDEN FARM.

the matter over beside their huge fire-place.
They carefully noted the increasing value of
wood ; they called to mind the cold drafts
from the opened doors, duriug the winter,
and the hot drafts which went roaring up the
chimney ; John explained what he deemed the
conveniences of the new invention — its sav-
ing of labor and fuel; and, finally, the great
outlay of thirty-six hard dollars, earned by
hard toil, was balanced, with careful reck-
oning, against these advantages. When the
decision was once made, John and Patience
went quietly at work, as assured that their
decision was right, as if it had been consid-
ered by a jury of the fathers of the town,
and they had rendered their verdict in due
form.

John and Patience Alden were not self-
conceited people, but they did have "a mind
of their own," as even the stove-man now
believed, and a self-reliance which was re-
markably fruitful of good luck.



A HINT. y

The mason was called to wall up, with
brick and mortar, the ancestral fire-place.
The man with the trowel worked away, but
grumbled as he worked, "It is none of my
business. Patience Alden, and I am not a
man to be meddling with other people's af-
fairs. But it does seem to me that John
is real foolish. I heard my mother tell how
his good old grandparents sat before this
very fire-place, resting and chatting, and then
getting out the great family Bible, just as
people used to do, when new faugled things
wan't so much thought of. And then. Pa-
tience, haven't I seen, since your day in
this house, John's own dear father and
mother, sitting right here, in this place
which Pm shutting up never to be seen
again, drinking their cider of a cold winter
eveniug, and a thanking God for their own
home and hearth? Dear me, what would
they say ! Well, they have gone where they
won't be troubled with these times of pride
and nonsense,"



10 THE LUCK OF ALDEN FARM.

Patience dropped a tear at the allusion to
the greatly beloved parents, which the brick-
layer mistook for a tear of regret at John's
foolish purchase ; so he added with increased
earnestness, "Patience Alden, . I never
thought you were to blame for this foolish
business. It don't seem like John neither.
He's been real lucky, and got ahead smartly.
But it don't signify, he's missed it this time !"

Patience w^iped the tears from her face, at
this reflection upon her husband, and turned
to the meddler, with a quiet but resolute
countenance, as she exclaimed, "John and
I are perfectly agreed concerning this im-
provement ! "

The man subsided into a becomiuor silence
during the rest of his stay in the house.

John Alden's neighbor, Mr. Crone, and
his wife, Jerusha Crone, and all the little
Crones, let fly their sharp arrows, that is,
their bitter words, at John and his wife, for
their late extravagance.



A HINT. 11

"I can't afford to spend thirty-six hard-
earned dollars to gratify my wife's foolish
notion for a new thing."

"You may thank your good fortune," said
Mrs. Crone, smartly, "that your wife has no
foolish notion after new things."

"I know it, woman," said Mr. Crone, in
a conciliatory manner. "We always get
along nicely in the good old paths. I told
the parish committee, when they came round
to make up the salary of the parson, that I
should pay only the two cords of wood,
which I have always paid, and which my
father and grandfather paid. *It was enough,'
said I, *for their minister, and it's enough
for mine.' But, Jerusha, I believe they
would have teased another cord from me,
had you not given them a piece of your
mind about the extravagance of the times."

All the little Crones caught the spirit of
their parents. Ezekiel, or "Zeke," as they
called him, said, petulantly, "The Alden boys



12 THE LUCK OF ALDEN FARM.

always did feel big. Now they will be
grander than ever ! " And Zake gave his
"chip hat" a toss into the air, and a kick
when it came down, transferring to his in-
nocent hat the ill will he felt to the lucky
children of Alden Farm.

Neighbor Goodnow thought that John and
Patience knew what they were about. "For
my part," he said, "I would not risk the
throwing away of thirty-six hard-earned dol-
lars, but I shan't matter it, if John's exper-
iment proves saving. It's a blessing to have
a man like John among folks, who is willing
to take all the risk of new thinsrs."

Goodnow represented a class of John's
neighbors, who were sure to reap a benefit
from his spirit of enterprise. If his plans
succeeded, they adopted them; if they
failed, they were wiser in their own eyes
than before, exclaiming complacentl}^, " We
told you so, John ! That was a silly, notion
of yours ! "



A HINT. 13

John Alden and his wife were fully in-
formed by the gossipers concerning the talk
of their neighbors. But they were neither
angrj^ nor disturbed. He sometimes laughed
heartily at their expense. He could gen-
erally afford to do this, for his plans were
adopted with caution, and patient thinking,
and then carried out with decision. So he
lapghed when his neighbors grumbled, and
felt the better for it, especially as his health-
ful laughing did them no hurt.

John's stove was set up, and in due time
the winter came. In the time of which we
speak, the winter, like the early Puritan
society, was a positive "institution." The

fall did not shade into the winter, and the

f.

I winter into the spring, so that one was at

loss to tell whether the winter had been ab-
sorbed by these two seasons, or whether
there had been no season in particular, as
in these degenerate times. The cold came
on, like a genuine article as it was, direct '



14 THE LUCK OF ALDEN FAEM.

from the Arctic regions. The snow was a
home product, and in quality and quantity
did credit to the sturdy old character of the
New Ensrland climate.

The great kitchen of Alden Farm smiled
"all over its face," as the little Aldens dil-
igently supplied the stove, in a stormy win-
ter evening, with well seasoned, oak wood;
it did not smile, as in the days of the huge
fire-place, on one side of its face with the
rosy hue of summer heat, and on the other
scowl with a biting frost. The old kitchen
was jubilant with the stove's genial warmth,
and so were the kitchen's inmates. The
little Aldens, with whom, in a larger growth
we are to become acquainted, sat around a
table at one end of the room. Their parents
sat at the little *'snap stand" at the other.
The young folks liked this ; their pent-up
laughter and sly fun were under less re-
straint than when the family were huddled
about the now cast-off back log. The par



A HINT. 15

ents liked it, because, sitting by themselves,
they had more quiet, a better chance to in-
dulge in their own line of talk, and, espe-
cially because they did not choose to see
and hear all that their children did. John
and Patience did enjoy immensely to see the
young folks fairly sparkle and run over at
times, with youthful animation. They knew
when such outbursts had the right moral
tone, and they knew how not to be nervous
at their noise, and when not to put their
hands on the escaping steam, and so how
not to scald themselves, and how not to blow
up the children.

John Alden cut the usual generous pile
of wood that winter. He did not spend
his time loitering in the kitchen, because it
was more comfortable than usual. "When the
Crones saw his wood-pile, larger, as they
thought, than ever, they shrugged their
shoulders and said, "John don't expect to
save any fuel by his new notion, after all ! "



16 THE LUCK OF ALDEN FARM.

But before the summer was ended, he had
sold in town enough wood saved by the
stove to replace more than half of those
tliirty-six dollars which so troubled his neigh-
bors.

"It is the lu€k of Alden Farm folks to
have things come out just so ! " exclaimed
the Crones. "Every wind is fair for them.
We never did have any luck." But deacon
Termer said in his quiet way that he thought
that the luck at Alden Farm was nothing:
more than God's blessing on the exercise
of good sense, and the putting forth of a
genuine Yankee energy.



CHAPTER II.



SUNSHINE.



It was a bitter cold evening of the winter
in which the " new notion " was introduced
into the great kitchen of Alden Farm. The
snow was drifting in heavy banks about the
door- ways and across every pathway. When
a gust of wind* unusually fierce rattled the
sleet against the windows, Carver, the oldest
son, pushed the elbow of Miles, who sat by
his side absorbed in a book he was reading,
and exclaimed, " Hear th^t Miles, don't it
come good ! I guess it will be fun to-mor-
row wading to school through the snow ! " •

Miles looked up for a moment, remarked
dreamily that it did storm splendidly, and
dropped his eyes again upon his book.

17 2



18 THE LUCK OF ALDEN FAKM.

The youngest child, the baby Winslow,
was asleep in the cradle, on the rocker of
which Mrs. Alden's foot was resting, while
her hands were busily engaged in mending
some rather large holes in the stockings of
the boys. Her husband sat on the other
side of the table, with folded hands, in a
musino: attitude. His face at last relaxed
into a humorous expression, not uncommon
in his familiar intercourse with his family,
as he bent down and whispered to his wife,
"Patience, can you say your lesson in the
Catechism ? "

Mrs. Alden, a little startled, said with a
slight expression of doubt as to the mean-
ing of the question, "I am not a child, John,
to be ffettin^: a lesson in the Catechism."

John smiled, but answered seriously, "No,
Patience, but the minister said last Sunday,
that the children would meet on Saturday
following the Wednesday-lecture, in the big
kitchen of the parsonage, with their Cate-



SUNSHINE. 19

chisms, and he should know what members
neglected the religious instruction of their
children. Now, Patience, you know we
haven't neglected this duty altogether, but
it don't stand to reason that the children
will learn from us what we don't know our-
selves."

"Do you mean, John," said Patience, lay-
ing down her half darned stocking and look-
ing at her husband with a shade of severity
upon her usually calm face, "that we ought
to go to the parsonage and say our Cate-
chism with the children, to prove to them
that we know what it teaches?"

"No, Patience," replied Mr. Alden, with
a merry twinkle of his eye. "You need
only to recite to ??ze/"

" Oh I " replied Mrs. Alden, pleasantly,
resuming her work, "if that is all, you can
get the Catechism and proceed."

John took down from the book-case one
of several carefully preserved copies of the



20 THE LUCK OF ALDEN FARM.

important little book, and commenced a very
slow and hesitating questioning of his wife.
Patience's face wore a devout expression,
but her attention seemed not to be diverted
a moment from her work, while she answered
every question as readily as though the an-
swers had been the last committed lessons
of a girl of sixteen. John, surprised, put
the questions more rapidly and with less
caution as to being heard by the children.
He ran through many sections of the book,
and then skipped here and there, picking
out questions which involved long and diffi-
cult answers. But Patience, nowhere, for a
moment tripped.

"Nicely done," said Mr. Alden, laying
down the book and pushing back his chair,
as if he was about to walk the room as he
often did.

"Stop, John," said Patience, the twinkle
this time being in her eye ; " it don't stand
to reason that you can insist upon the chil-



SUNSHINE. 21

dren kuowiDg the Catechism, without you
can answer its questions yourself. Let me
hear you!"

John blushed a little, but drew his chair
up again to the table and waited for the
questions. Patience proceeded very seriously
and slowly to put them. The answers for
some time, though very deliberately given,
were correct. But when his wife began to
skip about, and select random questions,
John plead a bad memory, and declared he
would read nothing but the Bible and Cate-
chism until he could answer every one.

Carver and Miles, at their table, on the
other side of the room, were listening to this
Catechism recitation. They laughed a little
slyly when father stumbled at the answers,
and Carver whispered in his brother's ear that
mother was "too wide-awake" for father.

"Maybe she catches him now," answered
Miles, in an undertone, "but I reckon father
will answer all the questions like a book,
after about two evenings."



22 THE LUCK OF ALDEN FARM.

The storm increased at a fearful rate. Mr.
Alden lit the lamp in the lantern and went
to the barn to see if " all was right." The
thought that a barn door might have been
accidently left open, or the bedding of some
of the animals neglected, urged this special
care. Mrs. Alden had more precious sub-
jects of interest on her mind. She took the
candle from the old mantle-piece and went
np stairs to see if the sleepers in the trun-
dle-bed, Euth and Eachel, were "warm and
comfortable." She tucked them up anew,
laid an additional blanket over their feet,
paused a moment to look at the cozy nest-
lers and say, " God bless them," and then
to examine carefully everything through the
chambers that the cold could injure.

While the parents were absent on these
errands of kindness and love, the sons dis-
cussed in their way the parental study of
the Catechism.

"Mother did answer the questions splen-
didly," remarked Carver.



SUNSHINE. 23

"Yes," said Miles, "but father didn't do
bad. I reckon though women can always
beat the men in answering smart and lively.
How the girls do beat us. Carver, at school !"

Carver was taken by surprise at this allu-
sion, and blushed a little, for Squire Treen's
daughter had gone above him that day in
the class, by answering a question he had
missed. He defended himself and his sex
by answering more sharply than the occasion
required, "They don't understand the lessons
though half as well as the boys ! "

The return of the parents suppressed the
reply of Miles, but not his merry laugh at
his brother's expense.

The family of John Alden were astir long
before the daylight appeared. Euth and
Eachel had been "lively as crickets," long
before a light was brought for them to dress ;
while Miles had pestered out of his brother
a disposition to take another doze, by plying
him with all the Catechism questions he could



24 THE LUCK OF ALDEN FARM.

think of.' "I'll pay you, Miles, for this,"
he yawned, "by putting you through the
whole book when I get up."

"It won't be fair," retorted Miles, "to
put me through any thing but the lesson
we are to say to the minister on Saturday
afternoon."

"Yes, the whole book," persisted his
brother. "When I w^as twelve years old
I could answer every question as quick as
a hen can pick up a kernel of corn."

Miles received this brag with a chuckle.
"If he did it at twelve, he ought to do it
at fourteen years old," he mused. " Some-
time, when he gets, deep into his study,
I'll come down upon him, with questions in

the Catechism, thick and fast as hail stones.

i

Carver will be up with me though if I don't
know every answer in the book ; I did
almost, once."

"Feeling his spirit stirred by these mus-
ings, Miles exclaimed, aloud, "Here's the



SUNSIIINE. 25

boy — " he was about to say, " Here's the
boy that can conquer it ! " but seehig his
brother start up with wonder at his earn-
estness, he stopped suddenly and settled
down calmly upon his knees to offer his
morning prayer. He then went down stairs,
followed soon by his brother, and both im-
mediately engaged cheerfully in assisting their
parents ; the older one in the barn with the
father, and the younger in the kitchen.

At Alden Farm, before there were daugh-
ters old enough to be efficient in domestic
work, the sons in turn, "helped mother."
She often had for them "a tale of other
davs," which had descended throuo^h the
household circles, from the early Pioneer
settlers, or a song which equally well made
cheerful hearts and willing hands. So Car-
ver and Miles often prepared the vegetables
for the meals, sat the table, or washed the
dishes, with such pleasant beguilement of
the time, that they almost reluctantly left



26 THE LUCK OF ALDEN FARM.

the kitchen for the more appropriate boys'
work of the barn. There was no degrada-
tion felt or thou£:ht of. Their mother's
-presence made honorable the hour, and the
work.

On the morning of which we were speak-
ing, Miles, with his eight year old sister,
Ruth, did much of the morning wOrk of
the kitchen. Rachel, six years old, was
full of glee, and the three summers Jere-
miah, was ready at every turn, with his
childish pranks, while the baby, Winslow,
did all the scolding for the family. He
was hungry, wanted his breakfast, and would
have it, whether anybody else was served or
not. In vain Jeremiah chided. "Naughty,
naughty baby ! " he said, solemnl}^ ; " don't
you know mother is werry busy? Itty boys
should wait."

But baby only kicked the sides of the
cradle more spitefully, and, if louder screams
meant anything, exclaimed, "I Won't wait I"



SUNSHINE. 27

"Itty ki-baby," said Jeremiah, putting his
lips as Dear the enraged animal in the cradle
as he dared to.

"You little Sancho," said Euth, shaking
her fist at him.

i

Baby's mother came to the rescue at last,
the family were permitted by his cradle
majesty to eat their breakfast and attend to
family devotions in peace, and Miles soon
after was told by his mother, with one of
her sweetest smiles, that he might go.

"You may go, my son," was all that was
said. But to Miles, when he looked into
her loving eyes, it meant, — You have done
your work well ; helped me a great deal ;
God bless you !

There was nobody to chide Miles for sitr
ting cosily beside the stove with his book.
It was his school book which was first
studied, and kept in his lap. But he slyly
drew out his Catechism once in a while, and
gave its pages close attention. He was de-



28 THE LUCK OF ALDEN FAEM.

termined to surprise not only his brother
Carver, but his parents, by his ability to
answer every question.

Monday evening before the Saturday chil-
drens' meeting at the parsonage, the Alden
family were around their evening lamps.
It was very early, the twilight still linger-
ing outside. As the breakfast at the farm-
house was eaten long before daybreak, the
dinner hour came at twelve, or even earlier,
and the supper at five, or, not unfrequently,
as on this evening, at half past four. The
solemn stillness of dream-land pervaded the
house at nine, unless the baby Winslow for-
bade it.

On this occasion, Kuth and Kachel had not
yet gone to their trundle-bed. There was
little study, but much merriment, with the
boys while they were present.

"Look here, Miles!" said Carver, sud-
denly, as if a bright thought had just oc-
curred to him, " next Saturdav is the Cate-



SUNSHINE. 29

chism day at the parsonage. I must see
that you know all your Catechism. Stand
up now, hold up your head, and speak so
as to be heard."

Miles reached out his hand and seized the
Catechism, with which Carver was about to
proceed, and said, in a most solemn tone,
while he quoted the words of his father, "It
don't stand to reason that we should require
of others w^hat we don't know ourselves. I
will see how well you can answer the ques-
tions."

Carver was fairly caught, and submitted,
in imitation of his father's example, to be
examined, and came out of the trial remark-
ably well, stumbling on a few answers only.

" T-o-l-e-r-a-b-l-y well, my boy," drawled
out Miles, in imitation of the old gentleman
who taught the district school. "You may
sit down and study one hour, and you will
know it perfectly."

Carver had good sense and kind feeling



30 THE LUCK OF ALDEN FAEM.

enough to enjoy the pleasantry he had him-
self commenced, and he sat down to his
hour's task, indulging the thought that his
turn would come for fun, at the end of the
hour, when he would come down on Miles
"like night," with questions from the Cate-
chism.

In the meantime. Miles turned to Euth,
and proposed to examine her.

"It don't stand to reason that you should
hear me until I hear you," said Euth, pertly,
catching up the Catechism and beginning to
ask him the questions. Carver enjoyed this
hugely, but Miles answered every question.
He won't get along so well when / examine
him, thouo^ht Carver. I'll be thorough.

Euth went through her assigned lesson
prompt Ijs and turned to Each el, who re-
peated what she had learned from her


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Online LibraryZachariah Atwell MudgeThe luck of Alden Farm: with a sketch of the history of Crane's Corner, where luck was slowly learned. The whole intended as a safe guide of all young people to good luck. → online text (page 1 of 15)