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Patty Rutter, The Quaker Doll Who Slept in Independence Hall

by Sarah J. Prichard

Tale of the American Revolution

Patty Rutter had fallen asleep with her bonnet on, and had been lying there, fast asleep, nobody knew just how long; for, somehow—it happened so—there was nobody in particular to awaken her; that is to say, no one had seemed to care though she slept on all day and all night, without ever waking up at all.

But then, there never had been another life quite like Patty Rutter's life. In the first place, it had a curious reason for beginning at all; and nearly everything about it had been as unlike your life and mine as possible.

In her very baby days, before she walked or talked, she had been sent away to live with strangers, and no real, warm kiss of true love had ever fallen on her little lips.

It all came about in this way: Mrs. Sarah Rutter, a lady living in Philadelphia—exactly what relation she bore to Patty it is a little difficult to determine—decided to send the little one to live with a certain Mrs. Adams, at Quincy, in Massachusetts, and she particularly desired that the child should go dressed in a style fitting an inhabitant of the proud city of Philadelphia.

Now, at that time Philadelphia was very much elated because of several things that had happened to her; but the biggest pride of all was, that once upon a time the Continental Congress had met there, and—and most wonderful thing—had made a Nation!

Well, to be sure, that was something to be proud of; though Patty didn't understand, a bit more than you do, what it meant. However, the glory of it all was talked about so much that she couldn't help knowing that, when this nation, with its fifty-six Fathers, and thirteen Mothers, was born one day in July, 1776, at Philadelphia, all the city rang with a sweet jangle, and called to all the people, through the tongue of its Liberty bell, to come up and greet the newcomer with a great shout of welcome.

But that had been long ago, before Mrs. Sarah Rutter was grown up, or Patty Rutter began to be dressed for her trip to Quincy.

As I wrote, Mrs. Rutter wished that Patty should go attired in a manner to do honor to the city of Philadelphia; therefore she was not permitted to depart in her baby clothes, but her little figure was arrayed in a long, prim gown of soft drab silk, while a kerchief of purest mull was crossed upon her breast; and, depending from her waist, like the fashion of to-day, were pincushion and watch. Upon her youthful head was a bonnet, crowned and trimmed in true Quaker fashion; and her infantile feet were securely tied within shapely slippers of kid. Thus equipped, Miss Patty was sent forth upon her journey.

Ah! that journey began a long time ago—fifty-eight, yes, fifty-nine years have gone by, and Patty Rutter is quite an aged little lady now, as she lies asleep, with her bonnet on.

“It is time,” says somebody, “to close.”

No one seems to take notice that Patty Rutter does not get up and depart with the rest of the visitors, that she only stirs her eyelids and turns her head on the silken “quilt” where she is lying.

The little woman who keeps house in the Hall locks it up and goes away, and there is little Patty Rutter shut in for the night. As the key turns in the old-time lock, the Lady Rutter winks hard and sits up.

“Well, I've been patient, anyhow, and Mrs. Samuel Adams herself couldn't wish me to do more,” she said, with a comforting yawn and a delightful stretch, and then she began to stare in blank bewilderment.

“I should like to know what this all means,” she whispered, “and where I am. I've heard enough to-day to turn my head. How very queer folks are, and they talk such jargon now-a-days. Centennial and Corliss Engine; Woman's Pavilion and Memorial Hall; Main Building and the Trois Freres; Hydraulic Annex, railroads and what-nots.

I never heard of such things. I don't think it is proper to speak of them, or the Adamses would have told me. No more intelligent folks in the land than the Adamses, and I guess they know what belongs to good society and polite conversation. I declare I blushed so in my sleep that I was quite ashamed. I'll get up and look about now. I'm sure this isn't any one of the houses where we visit, or folks wouldn't talk so.”

Patty Rutter straightened her bonnet on her head, smoothed down her robe of silken drab, adjusted her kerchief, looked at her watch to learn how long she had been sleeping, and found, to her surprise, that it had run down. Right over her head hung two watches.

“Why, how thoughtful folks are in this house,” she exclaimed in a timid voice, reaching up and taking one of the two time-pieces in her hand. “Why, here's a name; let me see.”

Reading slowly, she announced that the watch belonged to “Wil-liam Wil-liams—worn when he signed the Declaration of Independence.” “Ah!” she cried, with pathetic tone, “this watch is run down too, at four minutes after five. I remember! This William Williams was one of the fifty-six Fathers. I guess I must be in Lebanon—he lived there and his folks would have his watch of course. Here's another,” taking down a watch and reading, “Colonel John Trumbull. Run down, too! and at twenty-three minutes after six. He was the son of Brother Jonathan, Governor of one of the Mothers, when the Nation was born. Yes, yes, I must be in Lebanon. Well, it's a comfort, at least, to know that I'm in company the Adamses would approve of, though how I came here is a mystery.”

She hung the watches in place, stepped out of the glass room, in which she had slept, into a hall, and with a slight exclamation of delicious approval, stopped short before a number of chairs, and clasped her little fingers tightly together.

You must remember that Patty Rutter was a Friend, a Quaker, perhaps a descendant of William Penn, but then, in her baby days, having been transplanted to the rugged soil and outspoken ways of Massachusetts, she could not keep silence altogether, in view of that which greeted her vision.

She was in the very midst of old friends. Chairs in which she had sat in her young days stood about the grand hall. On the walls hung portraits of the ancestor kings of the nation born at Philadelphia in 1776.

In royal robes and with careless grace, lounged King George III., the nation's grandfather, angry no longer at his thirteen daughters who strayed from home with the Sons of Liberty.

Her feet made haste and her eyes opened wider, as her swift hands seized relic after relic. She sat in chairs that Washington had rested in; she caught up camp-kettles used on every field where warriors of the Revolution had tarried; she patted softly La Fayette's camp bedstead; and wondered at the taste that had put into the hall two old, time-worn, battered doors, but soon found out that they had gone through all the storm of balls that fell upon the Chew House during the battle of Germantown.

She read the wonderful prayer that once was prayed in Carpenter's Hall, and about which every member of Congress wrote home to his wife.

On a small “stand,” encased in glass, she came upon a portrait of Washington, painted during the time he waited for powder at Cambridge. Patty Rutter had seen it often, with its halo of the General's own hair about it. She turned from it, and beheld (why, yes, surely she had seen that, but not here; it was, why long ago, in her baby days in Philadelphia, that Mrs. Rutter had taken her up into a tower to see it), a bell—Liberty Bell, that rang above the heads of the Fathers when the Nation was born.

Poor little Patty began to cry. Where could she be? She reached out her hand, and climbed the huge beams that encased the bell, and tried to touch the tongue. She wanted to hear it ring again, but could not reach it.

“It's curious, curious,” she sobbed, wiping her eyes and turning them with a thrill of delight upon a beloved name that greeted her vision. It was growing dark, and she might be wrong. But no, it was the dear name of Adams; and she saw, in a basket, a little pile of baby raiment. There were dainty caps and tiny shirts of cambric, whose linen was like a gossamer web, and whose delicate lines of hem-stitch were scarcely discernible; there were small dresses, yellow with the sun color that time had poured over them, and they hung with pathetic crease and tender fold over the sides of the basket.

The little woman paused and peered to read these words, “Baby-clothes, made by Mrs. John Adams for her son, John Quincy Adams.”

“Little John Quincy!” she cried, “A baby so long ago!” She took the little caps in her hands, she pulled out the crumpled lace that edged them. She said, through the swift-falling tears:

“Oh, I remember when he was brought home dead, and how, in the Independence Hall of the State House at Philadelphia, he lay in state, that the inhabitants who knew his deeds, and those of his father, John, and his uncle, Samuel, might see his face. I love the Adamses every one,” and she softly pressed the baby-caps that had been wrought by a mother, ere the country began, to her small Quaker lips, with real New England fervor for its very own. Tenderly she laid them down, to see, while the light was fading, a huge picture on the wall. She studied it long, trying to discern the faces, with their savage beauty; the sturdy right-doing men who stood before them; and then her eyes began to glisten, and gather light from the picture; her lips parted, her breath quickened; for Patty Rutter had gone beyond her life associations in Massachusetts, back to the times in which her Quaker ancestors had make treaty with the native Indians.

“It is!” she cried with a shout; “It is Penn's treaty!” Patty gazed at it until she could see no longer. “I'm glad it is the last thing my eyes will remember,” she said sorrowfully, when in the gloom she turned away, went down the hall, and entered her glass chamber.

“Never mind my watch,” she said softly. “When I waken it will be daylight, and I need not wind it. It will be so sweet to lie here through the night in such grand and goodly company. I only wish Mrs. Samuel Adams could come and kiss me good night.”

With these words, Patty Rutter laid herself to rest upon the silken quilt from Gardiner's Island; and if you look within the Relic Room, opposite to Independence Hall, in the old State House at Philadelphia, in this Centennial summer, you will find her there, still taking her long nap, fully indorsed by Miss Adams, and in Independence Hall, across the passage way, you will see the portraits of more than fifty of the Fathers of the nation, but the Mothers abide at home.