Puslapio vaizdai

with an undercurrent of rivalry in the designations. Most of the houses of the village stood on the steep side streets that ran east from Main Street, and halfway up the long hill, in the one winding road that was approximately parallel to Main, stood the school-house. Owing to the sore lack of space, there were few shade-trees in the streets themselves, but all the dooryards were crowded with great cherry-trees of remarkably fine quality. Standing on one of the heights overlooking the valley, in May one would see the whole village as a sea of white blossoms, with here and there a red or yellow roof, or the soft green of a great weeping-willow, to accent the color tone. Locust-trees sprang up everywhere where the hand of man permitted, and rose to great height. In blossomtime their clouded-white flowers scented the whole valley.

There was no public hall. The churches, the school-house, or some hall above one of the stores cared for the few outside entertainments that ventured into our out-of-the-way region. The churches graciously welcomed, at a price, an occasional well-accredited lecturer or singer, though the audiences were never unduly strict in their interpretation of churchly propriety. Of course the few mesmerists, ventriloquists, and jugglers who came to the town were relegated to the secular hall, whither small boys would go in a state of mind that oscillated between a tense and awed expectation and a delightful consciousness of treading doubtful worldly ground. At long intervals a circus would come, and, setting up its tents in an open space in a tangled jungle of sumachs, catbriers, and locusts that we called indiscriminately the "Brick-Kiln" or the "Brick Hill," would convulse our community for an afternoon and evening, leaving behind it a succession of marvelous imitations that were given in barns, with pins for the circulating medium of exchange.

Of course the circus, too, was considered scarcely proper, but a little sophistical juggling with its educational side. (the menagerie), eased most consciences, and the whole country-side, the old and the young, would troop into town as to the county fair. I have heard a relative

of mine tell with great glee an incident relating to one circus of that period. She lived six miles away, but a colored maid in the household went, taking her child with her. She returned at night in a high state of indignation.

"Them white folks over to Port thinks theirselves mighty smart," she explained, when asked the cause of her anger. "I was settin' there, mindin' my own business, when a white man behind me he lean over an' say:

"How old 's that baby?'

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'No,' I said. Then he ups an' says to them folks with him:

"Jus' think! That chile 's ten days old an' ain't never been to a cirkis before!' An' then they giggled and giggled. Smarties!"

But these invasions of the outside world of pleasure were few, and the barrenness of the long winter evenings was occasionally broken by a concert by one of the church choirs or a highly moral play by the older members of one of the Sunday-schools. I recall how one of the latter was almost wrecked at the dress rehearsal by the sudden development of a subtle sense of propriety. The play was a moving temperance drama in which a much beaten, but still faithful, wife, with the aid of many prayers and a happy faculty for forcing into the lime-light her small crippled daughter, the father had thrown her down-stairs,-brought her her drunkard husband back to his proper estate as one of nature's noblemen. Now, in real life the heroine, aged fourteen or fifteen, played Joan to Darby, the wicked barkeeper, with the drunkard husband as a would-be rival. From his point of view, Darby had felt that the rôle of the husband properly belonged to him, and he had finally accepted that of the villain with very bad grace. Perhaps his rôle of wickedness had awakened in him an abnormal sense of right and wrong, for near the close of the play, in an exciting scene where the unhappy wife exclaimed pathetically, "My offspring! O my offspring!" the villain, who was supposed to be leering over the bar, suddenly stepped up-stage with a countenance more be

fitting a Jeremiah. He declared that "offspring" was not a proper word for a young girl to use. I think he said that it made him blush.

The cast stood embattled at once. Some one suggested that they send for a dictionary, but the moralist declared that you could find anything in a dictionary, and waved the suggestion aside with scorn. The drunkard, acutely, but with some heat, declared that the author would n't have put in the word if it had not been proper; it was foolish to think he did not know more than a boy. The heroine, still tenderly tearful, pleaded with her Darby. He must know she could n't be immodest. A boy who was not considered good enough for a place in the cast, but bright enough to make change at the door on the great night of the presentation, and attended the rehearsals on the strength of that important function, here showed a positive genius for the drama by suggesting that the drunkard and the barkeeper go out behind the church and settle the dispute in a really sensible fashion, and thereby brought down upon himself the hysterical scorn of all present except the drunkard and the barkeeper, who showed no signs of having heard the suggestion. But the heroine now burst into tears, and, declaring that she would not hurt the feelings of Darby for any play in the world, resigned from the cast, and the company went excitedly home. It was only when a politic grown-up suggested that the offending phrase be changed to "My Katie! O my Katie!" that the difficulty was smoothed out. Only one untoward incident marred the presentation the next night. As the heroine uttered the words, "My Katie! O my Katie!" an overwrought girl in the cast giggled hysterically, thereby causing the leering barkeeper to lose his cue.

The church choirs, of course, were voluntary, and naturally were recruited from those younger members of their respective congregations who could sing or thought they could sing, but occasionally reinforced by some worldlyminded outsider whose musical ability was tacitly accepted as a leaven for his unregenerate state. To this toleration was due the fact that our most conspicuous free-thinker was for many years the

choir-master and organist in two of our churches, serving in each at different times, of course. Even when not associated with either choir, he was a most faithful attendant at both Sunday services. He was fond of discussing the sermons afterward with the faithful, and biting in his criticism, and their attitude toward him varied with the degree of their self-satisfaction in answering his arguments. Thus his status in local opinion ranged from that of a good, but misguided, man to that of a rank atheist, the latter view usually prevailing. That was the measure of his disputatious success. Once I heard an indignant young matron declare that he went to church only to prove to others that it was a senseless habit. When reminded that at least it could not be denied that he was a good man, she readily agreed, but added that it was little to his credit, since his goodness was merely the result of his perverse determination to prove the falsity of religion by being himself more moral than most Christians. One can appreciate how largely this orthodox view of life entered into the thoughts of the community when it is known that this side of his character, in the minds of his neighbors, was like some conspicuous oddity of dress. One marked it first in all intercourse with him. It was not a material disadvantage. He was respected and trusted and even loved by the few who knew him best. It was only that in our easy-going acceptance of conservative opinions he stood out, in his one conspicuous difference, as a sort of symbol of incomprehensible revolt. We were all so sure of ourselves and our beliefs! He, we saw, was not sure. We viewed him with the sort of awe the lesser angels may be supposed to have viewed the Miltonic Lucifer.

In my natural inclination to take the mental color of my surroundings, I also, even as a small boy, stood in great awe of him, though possibly I was more influenced by the grimness of his manner. He was the custodian of the school library of the town, which he kept in his shop, and I still recall vividly the dread with which I went to him for books. The books of the library of that period were solid food for a small boy, and I can now understand how, as he stood

grimly waiting for me to make my selection, he must have thought me actuated more by a desire to disturb him than to read his precious volumes. Yet I did read them all, from Bacon's Essays and Draper's "The Intellectual Development of Europe," down through the histories of Prescott and Bancroft to Alison's "History of Europe." One rainy week in the long summer vacation I had discovered the long row of small histories of celebrated men by J. S. C. Abbott, and went through the row at high speed. When I took back the "Life of Cyrus the Great" at the end of one day I had taken it out in the morning-and called for another, he sharply voiced the suspicion that I felt he had long entertained, and declared that I was simply skimming through the books in search of I did n't know what; moreover, I was bothering him to no purpose. He added that he would let me have one book a week, but no more.

I indignantly denied the charge, saying I had read every word. At that he took up the "Cyrus" and began to question me as to its contents. I must have satisfied him, for he let me have another volume. I carried it back the next morning, and he greeted me affably, to my great relief, and then took down from a high shelf a large leather volume.

"You like history," he said; "why not read this? Do you like Napoleon? It's all about him."

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I did like Napoleon, and had read Jacob Abbott's "History of Napoleon Bonaparte" only a short time before; but the librarian's flattering interest in my reading, extraordinary as it was from my acquaintance with him, alone would have sufficed, and I carried the book home in triumph. It was the first volume of Alison's "History of Europe,' a formidable work in ten volumes, and printed in so small a type that I still remember that I used up twelve minutes in reading a double page. It seemed a lamentable amount of time for so small a gain, with so much in the world to read, and I settled to the task in a sort of nervous desperation to reach the end. I succeeded at last, but long before I came to the final page I had convinced myself that the work had been given to me as a joke. I was not chagrined,

my persistence had turned the joke on the joker, but I no longer felt my old awe of him; we had met on a lower ground, and I had found him human. Any tag that we might place on a man no longer seemed to me wholly conclusive.

There was certainly no tag on the man who at about that time was to become my teacher in Sunday-school. One might have called him a Laodicean: while strictly moral, he never attended church, and he did not make conspicuous his opinions. But the new pastor of the church had met him, and, attracted by his habit of wide reading and his intelligence, had invited him to take a class in the Sunday-school. We had no printed lesson papers at that time, though we studied the Bible in periods, and at the moment of his coming were wandering leisurely through the epoch of kings in the Old Testament, the temple of Solomon being, on his first afternoon, of chief interest.

Our new teacher was easy and selfconfident. He had no special concern in Solomon's temple, he told us, not imagining it to have been of much architectural worth, though of that he could not be certain, as the descriptions of it were vague; and then by easy stages he led us on to the Parthenon as something really worth while. The next Sunday he brought a manual of Greek architecture, I think he had borrowed it from the pastor, and presently we were fully embarked on our new course. I certainly learned in an unforgetable way the different orders of Greek and Roman architecture, and caught a wide, but pleasant, view of Greek history, not omitting its mythology. Indeed, I may say that he held my whole interest. I never expected to study Hebrew and had only a faint interest in its kings, but my heart was set on Greek, and to learn something definite concerning the Acropolis and the Olympic games seemed a long step toward the Greek alphabet, though the step might seem far afield in a Christian Sunday-school. I do not know whether the pastor or the superintendent ever knew what we were being taught. I was interested, and recalling the other boys to memory, I can believe that they were wholly satisfied to let

well enough alone, inasmuch as they had no lessons to learn and need only listen or appear to listen. Perhaps the authorities, seeing that the class was at least quiet, and the teacher for the first time in their knowledge was regularly attending a church service, were also satisfied with that much. In time it might lead to more. On the whole, I think we were all rather broad-minded.

Every year each of the three churches had three high feasts, which were their chief social events: a strawberry festival in June, an oyster supper in winter, and a donation party at the parsonage, which was also held in winter. The last was gradually abandoned, through the tactful influences of the ministers and their wives, no doubt, who could hardly have felt the pecuniary gain an adequate compensation for the wear and tear on their household goods and their nerves; for while the adult attendance at each was mainly confined to the parishioners of the church, the younger people of the town, with less sectarian prejudice, attended all. They crowded into the upper rooms of the house, making the occasion a sort of Roman holiday. We used to march round and round through the hall and connecting rooms, in pairs, in a sort of singing "Going to Jerusalem," chanting continually:

pect six or eight different kinds of cake, from fruit-cake and pound-cake, always iced, down through crullers to chocolate layer cake, then first coming into fashion; and a boy could not only test all, but as much of each as he chose. As the more substantial elements of a supper were of like abundance and variety, it must have been only by Divine Providence that half of the children of the village did not die of acute indigestion before morning. When the plate was passed, we youngsters would note, with a feeling compounded of pride in their wealth and scorn at their failure to live up to the equity of the occasion, that our elders would sometimes fling upon the plate five-dollar bills or even bills of a higher denomination. But we kept the letter of the law with a firm hand and gave the established price. We knew our rights.

It is only when one recalls the past that one appreciates how dominant were the churches in the social life of the town. While theoretically considered only as highways to God, in reality they were purveyors of diversion to an ennuied people. This is said with no irreverence and with no lack of appreciation of their true function. Indeed, the community was not a fruitful one for any display of spiritual activity. The population was

It rains and it hails, and it 's cold, stormy virtually stationary, its life went on in


In comes the farmer drinking cider.
You go reaper, and I 'll go binder;
I've lost my true love, and I can't find her.

There was always an odd boy in the middle of the ring, and at the last word of the stanza, as we changed partners, it was the task of this bereft one to gain a partner for himself in the mad rush.

There was, of course, no dancing, but kissing games were always popular. Every lad had his favorite lassie, whom he was expected to take to supper, the price of which for us children was twentyfive cents apiece, which was the greatest return for the money that I am ever likely to see in this vale of tears. The women of the town were famous cooks, and as each congregation endeavored to make its own party the best of the year, there was nothing lacking to complete the joy of a boy. One could always ex

unrelieved monotony, and the majority of the people were already Christians by profession. Most of those who were not were liberal in their support of the churches, and led, in their outward form at least, lives so indistinguishable from the lives of their Christian neighbors that it was difficult for the latter to bestir themselves greatly on the ground that the souls of the former were in danger. Even at that day it was a religion of sentiment and tradition rather than of analyzed belief, and the older forms of arousing sluggish souls through a stimulated excitement were still employed in one or two of the churches in the definitely planned "protracted meetings" and revivals, though now only spasmodically and with ever-increasing irregularity. Our last great revival, and the most notable of all in its intense excitement, was held in one of the churches when I was still a small boy. It must

have been about the year 1870 that Boston Corbett, the slayer of Wilkes Booth, having gained a certain renown as an effective revivalist, was invited to the town. Every night for weeks that winter the church was packed to the doors. Though not an attendant at that church, I often went to the meetings, though only in the light-hearted mood of one who goes to a wild melodrama, and I still vividly recall the figure of the evangelist and his manner. Of medium height, always dressed in black, with his intensely black and rather long hair parted in the middle, his face white almost to the point of ghastliness, and a fringe of narrow black beard about the lower part of his face, he used to walk restlessly back and forth in front of the "mourners' bench" or through the aisles, clapping his hands at intervals and exclaiming in sharp staccato tones, "Glory be to God!" "Hallelujah!" "Amen!" over and over again. And as he walked he searched the faces of the audience; and when he saw one that seemed to be moved, he paused for a personal plea so intimate and searching that it must have been terrifying for the timid or hysterical, while shouts of "Amen!" and "Glory be to God!" arose from all sides of the house. There were three sisters in the church who were notable for their gifts of prayer and exhortation, and they were almost constantly on their feet. It was all wild, hysterical, and in a certain way moving.

I was not sufficiently moved to confess my own sins, which at that time I had not been able to visualize to a sufficient degree to render me consciously uncomfortable, though there was always a sort of pallid excitement in hearing the confessions of others. People were accustomed to speak of their great sins at such meetings, but always with so triumphant a belief that they were about to be washed away that we who listened were charitable enough to believe that they were not so black as they painted themselves. But one night it was different. A young girl whom every one present had known only as an unusually modest and well-behaved maiden rose to her feet. In a voice quiet, but tense with a certain exhalted sincerity, she confessed that she had sinned and sinned

greatly. She asked for no one's prayers, which was the usual formula; she simply made her bald confession and dropped into her seat and bowed her head on the rail before her. In the hush that followed a young man rose quickly. He spoke excitedly and somewhat incoherently; but he seemed to identify himself with the sin of the girl, though of that I am not absolutely certain. What he did state clearly was his willingness to marry her.

Up to that moment the meeting had been perfervid with emotion, and many had gone forward for prayers, but the incident came like the shutting of a door on tumultuous sound. People sat still in their seats, staring ahead of them, frozen in a sort of horrified dismay. They had been moved to hysterical rapture by the florid confessions of vaguely declared sins, but before reality they sat stunned. Half-heartedly a hymn was presently sung, the benediction was pronounced, and the service was over.

And nothing ever came of it. It may have been simply hysteria, exaggerating a trifle; I never knew. I suppose I was too young to be in the way of learning the truth, if there was any truth in the dramatic situation. The excitement died away shortly, the principals went their ways, the girl left the town, and the man married. Both have now been dead many years.

But these seasons of religious fervor were few in number and gradually grew fewer. The Episcopalians began to hold services in the village, as did the Catholics, and this widening of the range of religious antagonism weakened its force in any one direction. We grew closer together. The old convictions and prohibitions that we had inherited from our New England forebears lessened their hold, though even in my early boyhood these held some of us lightly. Many of my friends were not allowed to read novels or play cards, and on the Sabbath they could open no secular book and were not permitted to walk for mere pleasure. As one who was permitted to do all of these things, I was envied by my less privileged friends, though doubtless they enjoyed a certain compensatory satisfaction in the thought that my privileges would be far fewer than theirs in

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