Chapter VI.


We have traced our little Dolly's fortunes, haps and havings through Christmas day, but we should not do justice to the situation did we not throw some light on the views and opinions of the Poganuc people upon this occasion.

The Episcopal church had been newly finished. There was held on this day, for the first time in open daylight, the full Christmas Service. The illumination and services of the evening before had been skillfully designed to make an impression on the popular mind, and to draw in children and young people with all that floating populace who might be desirous of seeing or hearing some new things.

It had been a success. Such an audience had been drawn and such a sensation produced that on Christmas day everybody in the village was talking of the church; and those who did not go ran to the windows to see who did go. A week-day church service other than a fast, and thanksgiving, and "preparatory lecture" was a striking novelty; and when the little bell rang out its peal and the congregation began to assemble it was watched with curious eyes from many a house.

The day was a glorious one. The bright, cold sun made the icicles that adorned the fronts of all the houses glitter like the gems of Aladdin's palace, and a well-dressed company were seen coming up from various points of the village and thronging the portals of the church.

The little choir and their new organ rang out the Te Deum with hearty good-will, and many ears for the first time heard that glorious old heroic poem of the early church. The waves of sound rolled across the green and smote on the unresponsive double row of windows of the old meeting-house, which seemed to stare back with a gaze of blank astonishment. The sound even floated into the store of Deacon Dickenson, and caused some of the hard-handed old farmers who were doing their trading there, with their sleds and loads of wood, to stop their discourse on turnips, eggs and apple-sauce, and listen. To them it bore the sound as of a challenge, the battle-cry of an opposing host that was rising up to dispute the ground with them; and so they listened with combative ears.

"Seem to be a hevin' it all their own way over there, them 'Piscopals. Carryin' all before 'em," said one.

"How they are a gettin' on!" said another.

"Yes," said Deacon Dickenson; "all the Democrats are j'inin' them, and goin' to make a gen'l push next 'lection. They're goin' clean agin everything—Sunday laws and tiding-man and all."

"Wal," said Deacon Peasley, a meek, mournful little man, with a bald top to his head, "the Democrats are goin' to carry the state. I feel sure on 't."

"Good reason," said Tim Hawkins, a stout two-fisted farmer from one of the outlying farms. "The Democrats beat 'cause they're allers up and dressed, and we Fed'lists ain't. Why, look at 'em to town meetin! Democrats allers on time, every soul on 'em—rag, tag and bobtail—rain or shine don't make no difference with them; but it takes a yoke of oxen to get a Fed'list out, and when you've got him you've got to set down on him to keep him. That's just the difference."

"Wal," said Deacon Peasley in a thin, querulous voice, "all this 'ere comes of extending the suffrage. Why, Father says that when he was a young man there couldn't nobody vote but good church members in regular standin', and couldn't nobody but them be elected to office. Now it's just as you say, 'rag, tag and bobtail' can vote, and you'll see they'll break up all our institutions. They've got it so now that folks can sign off and go to meetin' anywhere, and next they'll get it so they needn't go nowhere—that's what'll come next. There's a lot of our young folks ben a goin' to this 'ere 'lumination."

"Wal, I told Parson Cushing about that air 'lumination last night," said Deacon Dickenson, "and he didn't seem to mind it. But I tell you he'll hev to mind. Both his boys there, and little Dolly, too, runnin' over there after she was put to bed; he'll hev to do somethin' to head this 'ere off."

"He'll do it, too," said Tim Hawkins. "Parson Cushing knows what he's about, and he'll come out with a sarmon next Sunday, you see if he don't. There's more in Parson Cushing's little finger than there is in that Sim Coan's hull body, if he did come right straight down from the 'Postles.

"I've heard," said Deacon Peasley, "that Mis' Cushing's folks in Boston was 'Piscopal, and some thought mebbe she influenced the children."

"Oh, wal, Mis' Cushing, she did come from a 'Piscopal family," said Deacon Dickenson. "She was a Kittery, and her gran'ther, Israel Kittery, was a tory in the war. Her folks used to go to the old North in Boston, and they didn't like her marryin' Parson Cushing a grain; but when she married him, why, she did marry him. She married his work, and married all his pinions. And nobody can say she hain't been a good yoke-fellow; she's kept up her end, Mis' Cushing has. No, there's nobody ought to say nothin' agin Mis' Cushing."

"Wal, I s'pose we shall hear from the doctor next Sunday," said Hawkins. "He'll speak out; his trumpet won't give an unsartin sound."

"I reely want ter know," said Deacon Peasley, "ef Zeph Higgins has reely come down with his folks to-day, givin' up a hull day's work! I shouldn't 'a' thought Zeph'd 'a' done that for any meetin'?"

"Oh, laws, yis; Zeph 'll do anything he sets his will on, particular if it's suthin' Mis' Higgins don't want to do—then Zeph 'll do it, sartin. I kind o' pity that air woman," said Hawkins.

"Oh, yis," said the deacon; "poor Mis' Higgins, she come to my wife reely mournin' when Zeph cut up so about them water-pipes, and says she, 'Mis' Dickenson, I'd rather 'a' worked my fingers to the bone than this 'ere should 'a' happened; but I can't do nothin',' says she; 'he's that sort that the more you say the more sot he gets,' says she. Wal, I don't wish the 'Piscopals no worse luck than to get Zeph Higgins, that's all I've got to say."

"Wal," said Tim Hawkins, "let 'em alone. Guess they'll find out what he is when they come to pass the hat 'round. I expect keepin' up that air meetin' 'll be drefful hard sleddin' yit—and they won't get nothin' out o' Zeph. Zeph's as tight as the bark of a tree."

"Wonder if that air buildin's paid fer? Hiel Jones says there's a consid'able debt on't yit," said Deacon Peasley, "and Hiel gen'ally knows."

"Don't doubt on't," said Deacon Dickenson. "Squire Lewis he's in for the biggest part on't, and he's got money through his wife. She was one of them rich Winthrops up to Boston. The squire has gone off now to Lucius Jenks's store, and so has Colonel Danforth and a lot more of the biggest on 'em. I told Hiel I didn't mind, so long as I kep' Colonel Davenport and Judge Belcher and Judge Peters and Sheriff Dennie. I have a good many more aristocracy than he hez."

"For my part I don't care so very much for these 'ere town-hill aristocracy," said Tim Hawkins. "They live here in their gret houses and are so proud they think it's a favor to speak to a farmer in his blue linsey shirt a drivin' his team. I don't want none on 'em lookin' down on me. I am as good as they be; and I guess you make as much in your trade by the farmers out on the hills as you do by the rich folks here in town."


"O yis, sartin," said Deacon Dickenson, making haste to propitiate.... "I'd rather see your sled a-standin' front o' my door than the finest carriage any on 'em drives."—p. 67.

"Oh, yis, sartin," said Deacon Dickenson, making haste to propitiate. "I don't want no better trade than I get out your way, Mr. Hawkins. I'd rather see your sled a standin' front o' my door than the finest carriage any of 'em drives. I haint forgot Parson Cushing's sarmon to the farmers, 'The king himself is sarved by the field.'"

"I tell you that was a sarmon!" said Hawkins "We folks in our neighborhood all subscribed to get it printed, and I read it over once a month, Sundays. Parson Cushing 's a good farmer himself. He can turn in and plow or hoe or mow, and do as good a day's work as I can, if he does know Latin and Greek; and he and Mis' Cushing they come over and visit 'round 'mong us quite as sociable as with them town-hill folks. I'm jest a waitin' to hear him give it to them air 'Piscopals next Sunday. He'll sarve out the Democrats—the doctor will."

"Wal," said Deacon Dickenson, "I don't think the doctor hed reely got waked up when I spoke to him 'bout that 'lumination, but I guess his eyes are open now, and the doctor 's one o' that sort that's wide awake when he is awake. He'll do suthin' o' Sunday."

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook