Bang! went the cannon on the green, just as the first red streak appeared over Poganuc hills, and open flew Dolly's great blue eyes. Every boy in town was out of bed as if he had been fired out of a pop-gun, and into his clothes and out on the green with a celerity scarcely short of the miraculous. Dolly's little toilet took more time; but she, too, was soon out upon the scene with her curls in a wild, unbrushed tangle, her little breast swelling and beating with a great enthusiasm for General Washington and liberty and her country, all of which were somehow to be illustrated and honored that day in Poganuc.

As the first rays of the rising sun struck the stars and stripes floating over the Court-house, and the sound of distant drum and fife announced the coming in of the Poganuc Rangers, Dolly was so excited that she burst into tears.

"What in the world are you crying for, Dolly?" said Bill rather impatiently. "I don't see any thing to cry about."

"I can't help it, Will," said Dolly, wiping her eyes, "it's so glorious!"

"If that isn't just like a girl!" said Bill. Contempt could go no farther, and Dolly retreated abashed. She was a girl—there was no help for that; but for this one day she envied the boys—the happy boys who might some day grow up and fight for their country, and do something glorious like General Washington. Meanwhile, from mouth to mouth, every one was giving in advance an idea of what the splendors of the day were to be.

"I tell ye," said Abe Bowles, "this 'ere's goin' to be a reel slam-bang, this 'ere is. Colonel Davenport is a goin' to review the troops, and wear the very same uniform he wore at Long Island.

"Yes," said Liph Kingsley, "and old Cæsar's goin' to wear his uniform and wait on the colonel. Tell ye what, the old snowball is on his high heels this morning—got a suit of the colonel's old uniform. Won't he strut and show his ivories!"

"Hulloa, boys, there's going to be a sham fight; Hiel told me so," said Bob Cushing. "Some are going to be British and some Americans, and the Americans are going to whip the British and make 'em run."

"Tell ye what," said Jake Freeman, "there'll be a bangin' and poppin'! won't there, boys!"

"Oh," said Dolly, who irrepressibly was following her brothers into the throng, "they won't really shoot anybody, will they?"

"Oh no, they'll only fire powder, of course," said Bill majestically, "don't you know that?"

Dolly was rebuked and relieved at once.

"I say, boys," said Nabby, appearing suddenly among the throng, "your ma says you must come right home to breakfast this minit; and you, Dolly Cushing, what are you out here for, round among the fellers like a tom-boy? Come right home."

"Why, Nabby, I wanted to see!" pleaded Dolly.

"Oh yes, you're allers up to everything and into everything, and your hair not brushed nor nothin'. You'll see it all in good time—come right away. Don't be a-lookin' at them trainers, now," she added, giving herself, however, a good observing glance to where across the green a knot of the Poganuc Rangers were collecting, and where Hiel, in full glory of his uniform, with his gold epaulets and cocked hat, was as busy and impressive as became the situation.

"Oh, Nabby, do look; there's Hiel," cried Dolly.

"Yes, yes; I see plain enough there's Hiel," said Nabby; "he thinks he's mighty grand, I suppose. He'll be conceiteder'n ever, I expect."

Just at that moment Hiel, recognizing Nabby, took off his gold-laced hat and bowed with a graceful flourish.

Nabby returned a patronizing little nod, and either the morning dawn, or the recent heat of the kitchen fire, or something, flushed her cheeks. It was to be remarked in evidence of the presence of mind that distinguishes the female sex that, though she had been sent out on a hurried errand to call the children, yet she had on her best bonnet, and every curl of her hair had evidently been carefully and properly attended to that morning.

"Of course, I wasn't going to look like a fright," she soliloquized. "Not that I care for any of 'em; but looks is looks any time o' day."

At the minister's breakfast-table the approaching solemnities were discussed. The procession was to form at the Court-house at nine o'clock. Democrats and Federalists had united to distribute impartially as possible the honors of the day. As Col. Davenport, the only real live revolutionary officer the county boasted, was an essential element of the show, and as he was a staunch Federalist, it was necessary to be conciliatory. Then there was the Federal ex-Governor to sit on the platform with the newly elected Democratic Governor. The services were in the Meeting-house, as the largest building in town; and Dr. Cushing was appointed to make the opening prayer. As a compliment to the Episcopal Church the Federal members of the committee allotted a closing prayer to the Reverend Simeon Coan.

That young man, however, faithful to the logic of his creed, politely declined joining in public services where his assisting might be held to recognize the ordination of an unauthorized sectarian preacher, and so the Rev. Dr. Goodman, of Skantic, was appointed in his place.

Squire Lewis was observed slightly to elevate his eye-brows and shrug his shoulders as he communicated to the committee the grounds of his rector's refusal. He was in fact annoyed, and a little embarrassed, by the dry, amused expression of Sheriff Dennie's countenance.

"Oh, speak it all out; never fear, Lewis," he said. "I like to see a man face the music. Your minister is a logical fellow, and keeps straight up to what he teaches. You old Episcopalians were getting loose in your ideas; you needed cording up."

"There's such a thing as cording too tight and breaking a string sometimes," muttered the Squire, who was not well pleased at the scruple that kept his church unrepresented in the exercises.

The domestic arrangements for the parson's family were announced at the breakfast table. The boys were endowed with the magnificent sum of six cents each and turned loose for the day, with the parting admonition to keep clear of powder—a most hopeless and unnecessary charge, since powder was the very heart and essence of all the glory of the day.

At an early hour the bell of the Meeting-house rang out over all the neighboring hills and valleys; the summons was replied to by streams of wagons on the roads leading to Poganuc for a square of ten miles round. Not merely Poganuc—North, South, East, West, and Center—was in motion, but several adjacent towns and villages sent forth their trainers—bands of militia, who rose about midnight and marched till morning to be on time.

By nine o'clock nominally (but far nearer to ten really) the procession started from the Court-house with drum and fife and banners. Dolly had been committed for the day to the charge of Nabby, who should see that she took no harm, and engineer for her the best chances of seeing all that went on; while Mrs. Cushing, relieved of this care, took her seat quietly among the matronage of Poganuc and waited for the entrance of the procession. But Dolly saw them start from the Court-house, with beat of drum and peal of fife; and Dolly saw the banners, and saw Colonel Davenport with his white hair and splendid physique, now more splendid in the blue and gold of his military dress; and they all marched with majestic tread towards the meeting-house. Then Nabby hurried with her charge and got for her a seat by herself in the front singers' seat in the gallery, where she could see them all file in and take their seats on the platform. Nabby had been one of the flowers of this singers' seat before her father's change of base had transferred her to the Episcopal Church, and her presence to-day was welcomed by many old friends—for Nabby had a good, strong clear voice of her own, and was no small addition to the choral force.

The services opened by the national Puritan psalm:

"Let children hear the mighty deeds

Which God performed of old,

Which in our younger years we saw

And which our fathers told.

"Our lips shall teach them to our sons,

And they again to theirs,

That generations yet unborn

May teach them to their heirs.

"That they may learn, in God alone

Their hope securely stands;

That they may ne'er his laws forget,

But practice his commands."

The wild warble of "St. Martin's," the appointed tune whose wings bore these words, swelled and billowed and reverberated through the house, carrying with it that indefinable thrill which always fills a house when deep emotions are touched—deepest among people habitually reserved and reticent of outward demonstration. It was this solemn undertone, this mysterious, throbbing sub-bass of repressed emotion, which gave the power and effect to the Puritan music. After the singing came Dr. Cushing's prayer—which was a recounting of God's mercies to New England from the beginning, and of his deliverances from her enemies, and of petitions for the glorious future of the United States of America—that they might be chosen vessels, commissioned to bear the light of liberty and religion through all the earth and to bring in the great millennial day, when wars should cease and the whole world, released from the thraldom of evil, should rejoice in the light of the Lord.

The millennium was ever the star of hope in the eyes of the New England clergy: their faces were set eastward, towards the dawn of that day, and the cheerfulness of those anticipations illuminated the hard tenets of their theology with a rosy glow. They were children of the morning. The Doctor, however, did not fail to make use of his privilege to give some very decided political hits, and some petitions arose which caused sensation between the different parties. The New England clergyman on these occasions had his political antagonists at decided advantage. If he could not speak at them he could pray at them, and of course there was no reply to an impeachment in the court of heaven. So when the Doctor's prayer was over, glances were interchanged, showing the satisfaction or dissatisfaction, as might be, of the listeners.

And now rose Colonel Davenport to read the Declaration of Independence. Standing square and erect, his head thrown back, he read in a resonant and emphatic voice that great enunciation upon which American national existence was founded.

Dolly had never heard it before, and even now had but a vague idea of what was meant by some parts of it; but she gathered enough from the recital of the abuses and injuries which had driven her nation to this course to feel herself swelling with indignation, and ready with all her little mind and strength to applaud that concluding Declaration of Independence which the Colonel rendered with resounding majesty. She was as ready as any of them to pledge her "life, fortune and sacred honor" for such a cause. The heroic element was strong in Dolly; it had come down by "ordinary generation" from a line of Puritan ancestry, and just now it swelled her little frame and brightened her cheeks and made her long to do something, she scarce knew what; to fight for her country or to make some declaration on her own account.

But now came the oration of the day, pronounced by a lively young Virginia law student in the office of Judge Gridley. It was as ornate and flowery, as full of patriotism and promise, as has been the always approved style of such productions. The bird of our nation received the usual appropriate flourishes, flew upward and sun-ward, waved his pinions, gazed with undaunted eye on the brightness, and did all other things appointed for the American Eagle to do on the Fourth of July. It was a nicely-written classical composition, and eminently satisfactory to the audience; and Dolly, without any very direct conception of its exact meaning, was delighted with it, and so were all the Poganuc People.

Then came the singing of an elaborate anthem, on which the choir had been practicing for a month beforehand and in which the various parts ran, and skipped, and hopped, and chased each other round and round, and performed all sorts of unheard-of trills and quavers and musical evolutions, with a heartiness of self-satisfaction that was charming to witness.

Then, when all was over, the procession marched out—the magnates on the stage to a dinner, and the Poganuc military to refresh themselves at Glazier's, preparatory to the grand review in the afternoon.

Dolly spent her six cents for ginger-bread, and walked unwearyingly the rounds of sight-seeing with Nabby, her soul inly uplifted with the grandeur of the occasion.

In the afternoon came the military display; and Colonel Davenport on his white horse reviewed the troops; and just behind him, also mounted, was old Cato, with his gold-laced hat and plume, his buff breeches and long-tailed blue coat. On the whole, this solemn black attendant formed a striking and picturesque addition to the scene. And so there were marching and counter-marching and military evolutions of all kinds, and Hiel, with his Poganuc Rangers, figured conspicuously in the eyes of all.

It was a dangerous sight for Nabby. She really could not help feeling a secret awe for Hiel, as if he had been wafted away from her into some higher sphere; he looked so very determined and martial that she began to admit that he might carry any fortress that he set himself seriously to attack. After the regular review came the sham fight, which was in fact but an organized military frolic. Some of the West Poganuc youth had dressed themselves as Indians, and other companies, drawn by lot, were to personate the British, and there was skirmishing and fighting and running, to the wild and crazy delight of the boys. A fort, which had been previously constructed of bushes and trees, was furiously attacked by British and Indians, and set on fire; and then the Americans bursting out scattered both the fire and the forces, and performed prodigies of valor.

In short, it was a Day of days to Dolly and the children, and when sober twilight drew on they came home intoxicated with patriotism and sight-seeing.

On her way home Dolly was spied out by her old friend Judge Gridley, who always delighted to have a gossip with her.

"Ha, my little Dolly, are you out to-day?"

"To be sure, sir," said Dolly; "indeed I'm out. Oh, hasn't it been glorious! I've never been so happy in my life. I never heard the Declaration of Independence before."

"Well, and what do you think of it?" asked the Judge.

"I never heard anything like it," said Dolly. "I didn't know before how they did abuse us, and wasn't it grand that we wouldn't bear it! I never heard anything so splendid as that last part."

"You would have made a good soldier."

"If I were a man I would. Only think of it, Colonel Davenport fought in the war! I'm so glad we can see one man that did. If we had lived then, I know my papa and all my brothers would have fought; we would have had 'liberty or death.'"

Dolly pronounced these words, which she had heard in the oration, with a quivering eagerness. The old Judge gave her cheek a friendly pinch.

"You'll do," he said; "but now you must let Nabby here get you home and quiet you down, or you won't sleep all night. Good by, Pussy."

And so went off Dolly's Fourth of July.

But Hiel made an evening call at the parsonage in his full regimentals; and stayed to a late hour unreproved. There were occasions when even the nine o'clock bell did not send a young fellow home. This appeared to be one of them.

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