by Anna Balmer Myers
[Illustration: OH, LOOK AT THISAND THIS!]
A STORY OF
THE PLAIN PEOPLE
By ANNA BALMER MYERS
WITH FRONTISPIECE IN COLOR BY
HELEN MASON GROSE
A. L. BURT COMPANY
Publishers New York
Published by arrangement with George W. Jacobs &Company
Copyright, 1920, by
GEORGE W. JACOBS &COMPANY
All rights reserved
Printed in U.S.A.
To my Mother and Father
this book is lovingly inscribed
CHAPTER II. OLD
CHAPTER IV. THE
CHAPTER V. THE
HEART OF A CHILD
CHAPTER VI. THE
PRIMA DONNA OF
“WHERE THE BROOK
AND RIVER MEET”
BEYOND THE ALPS
CHAPTER IX. A
VISIT TO MOTHER
CHAPTER X. AN
CHAPTER XI. “THE
CHAPTER XII. THE
CHAPTER XV. THE
MUST BREAK AND
THE LAMP MUST
MOTHER BAB AND
CHAPTER XXX. THE
FEAST OF ROSES
OFF TO THE NAVY
THE ONE CHANCE
“A LOVE THAT
LIFE COULD NEVER
CHAPTER I. CALICO PATCHWORK
THE gorgeous sunshine of a perfect June morning invited to the great
outdoors. Exquisite perfume from myriad blossoms tempted lovers of
nature to get away from cramped, man-made buildings, out under the blue
roof of heaven, and revel in the lavish splendor of the day.
This call of the Junetide came loudly and insistently to a little
girl as she sat in the sitting-room of a prosperous farmhouse in
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and sewed gaily-colored pieces of red
and green calico into patchwork.
Ach, my! she sighed, with all the dreariness which a ten-year-old
is capable of feeling, why must I patch when it's so nice out? I just
ain't goin' to sew no more to-day!
She rose, folded her work and laid it in her plaited rush
sewing-basket. Then she stood for a moment, irresolute, and listened to
the sounds issuing from the next room. She could hear her Aunt Maria
bustle about the big kitchen.
Ach, I ain't afraid!
The child opened the door and entered the kitchen, where the odor of
boiling strawberry preserves proclaimed the cause of the aunt's
Maria Metz was, at fifty, robust and comely, with black hair very
slightly streaked with gray, cheeks that retained traces of the rosy
coloring of her girlhood, and flashing black eyes meeting squarely the
looks of all with whom she came in contact. She was a member of the
Church of the Brethren and wore the quaint garb adopted by the women of
that sect. Her dress of black calico was perfectly plain. The tight
waist was half concealed by a long, pointed cape which fell over her
shoulders and touched the waistline back and front, where a full apron
of blue and white checked gingham was tied securely. Her dark hair was
parted and smoothly drawn under a cap of white lawn. She was a
picturesque figure but totally unconscious of it, for the section of
Pennsylvania in which she lived has been for generations the home of a
multitude of women similarly garbedmembers of the plain sects, as the
Mennonites, Amish, Brethren in Christ, and Church of the Brethren, are
commonly called in the communities in which they flourish.
As the child appeared in the doorway her aunt turned.
So, the woman said pleasantly, you worked vonderful quick to-day
once, Phoebe. Why, you got your patches done soondid you make little
stitches like I told you?
I ain't got 'em done! The child stood erect, a defiant little
figure, her blue eyes grown dark with the moment's tenseness. I ain't
goin' to sew no more when it's so nice out! I want to be out in the
yard, that's what I want. I just hate this here patchin' to-day, that's
what I do!
Maria Metz carefully wiped the strawberry juice from her fingers,
then she stood before the little girl like a veritable tower of
amazement and strength.
Phoebe, she said after a moment's struggle to control her wrath,
you ain't big enough nor old enough yet to tell me what you ain't
goin' to do! How many patches did you make?
And you know I said you shall make four every day still so you get
the quilt done this summer yet and ready to quilt. You go and finish
I don't want to. Phoebe shook her head stubbornly. I want to play
out in the yard.
When you're done with the patches, not before! You know you must
learn to sew. Why, Phoebe, the woman changed her tactics, you used to
like to sew still. When you was just five years old you cried for goods
and needle and I pinned the patches on the little sewing-bird that
belonged to Granny Metz still and screwed the bird on the table and you
sewed that nice! And now you don't want to do no more patcheshow will
you ever get your big chest full of nice quilts if you don't patch?
But the child was too thoroughly possessed with the desire to be
outdoors to be won by any pleading or praise. She pulled savagely at
the two long braids which hung over her shoulders and cried, I don't
want no quilts! I don't want no chests! I don't like red and green
quilts, anyhownever, never! I wish my pop would come in; he wouldn't
make me sew patches, heshe began to sobI wish, I just wish I had
a mom! She wouldn't make me sew calico whenwhen I want to play.
Something in the utter unhappiness of the little girl, together with
the words of yearning for the dead mother, filled the woman with a
strange tenderness. Though she never allowed sentiment to sway her from
doing what she considered her duty she did yield to its influence and
spoke gently to the agitated child.
I wish, too, your mom was here yet, Phoebe. But I guess if she was
she'd want you to learn to sew. Ach, it's just that you like to be out,
out all the time that makes you so contrary, I guess. You're like your
pop, if you can just be out! Mebbe when you're old as I once and had
your back near broke often as I had with hoein' and weedin' and
plantin' in the garden you'll be glad when you can set in the house and
sew. Ach, now, stop your cryin' and go finish your patchin' and when
you're done I'll leave you go in to Greenwald for me to the store and
to Granny Hogendobler.
Ohthe child lifted her tear-stained faceand dare I really go
to Greenwald when I'm done?
Yes. I need some sugar yet and you dare order it. And you can get
me some thread and then stop at Granny Hogendobler's and ask her to
come out to-morrow and help with the strawberry jelly. I got so much to
make and it comes good to Granny if she gets away for a little change.
Then I'll patch quick! Phoebe said. The world was a good place
again for the child as she went back to the sitting-room and resumed
She was so eager to finish the unpleasant task that she forgot one
of Aunt Maria's rules, as inexorable as the law of the Medes and
Persiansthe door between the kitchen and the sitting-room must
Here, Phoebe, the woman called sharply, make that door shut!
Abody'd think you was born in a sawmill! The strawberry smell gets all
over the house.
Phoebe turned alertly and closed the door. Then she soliloquized, I
don't see why there has to be doors on the inside of houses. I like to
smell the good things all over the house, but then it's Aunt Maria's
boss, not me.
Maria Metz shook her head as she returned to her berries. If it
don't beat all and if I won't have my hands full yet with that girl
'fore she's growed up! That stubborn she is, like her popach, like
all of us Metz's, I guess. Anyhow, it ain't easy raising somebody
else's child. If only her mom would have lived, and so young she was to
Her thoughts went back to the time when her brother Jacob brought to
the old Metz farmhouse his gentle, sweet-faced bride. Then the joint
persuasions of Jacob and his wife induced Maria Metz to continue her
residence in the old homestead. She relieved the bride of all the brunt
of manual labor of the farm and in her capable way proved a worthy
sister to the new mistress of the old Metz place. When, several years
later, the gentle wife died and left Jacob the legacy of a helpless
babe, it was Maria Metz who took up the task of mothering the
motherless child. If she bungled at times in the performance of the
mother's unfinished task it was not from lack of love, for she loved
the fair little Phoebe with a passion that was almost abnormal, a
passion which burned the more fiercely because there was seldom any
outlet in demonstrative affection.
As soon as the child was old enough Aunt Maria began to teach her
the doctrines of the plain church and to warn her against the evils of
vanity, frivolity and all forms of worldliness.
Maria Metz was richly endowed with that admirable love of industry
which is characteristic of the Pennsylvania Dutch. In accordance with
her acceptance of the command, Six days shalt thou labor, she swept,
scrubbed, and toiled from early morning to evening with Herculean
persistence. The farmhouse was spotless from cellar to attic, the
wooden walks and porches scrubbed clean and smooth. Flower beds,
vegetable gardens and lawns were kept neat and without weeds. Aunt
Maria was, as she expressed it, not afraid of work. Naturally she
considered it her duty to teach little Phoebe to be industrious, to sew
neatly, to help with light tasks about the house and gardens.
Like many other good foster-mothers Maria Metz tried conscientiously
to care for the child's spiritual and physical well-being, but in spite
of her best endeavors there were times when she despaired of the
tremendous task she had undertaken. Phoebe's spirit tingled with the
divine, poetic appreciation of all things beautiful. A vivid
imagination carried the child into realms where the stolid aunt could
not follow, realms of whose existence the older woman never dreamed.
But what troubled Maria Metz most was the child's frank avowal of
vanity. Every new dress was a source of intense joy to Phoebe. Every
new ribbon for her hair, no matter how narrow and dull of color, sent
her face smiling. The golden hair, which sprang into long curls as Aunt
Maria combed it, was invariably braided into two thick, tight braids,
but there were always little wisps that curled about the ears and
forehead. These wisps were at once the woman's despair and the child's
freely expressed delight. However, through all the rigid discipline the
little girl retained her natural buoyancy of childhood, the spontaneous
interestedness, the cheerfulness and animation, which were a part of
her goodly heritage.
That June morning the world was changed suddenly from a dismal vale
of patchwork to a glorious garden of delight. She was still a child and
the promised walk to Greenwald changed the entire world for her.
She paused once in her sewing to look about the sitting-room. Ach,
I vonder now why this room is so ugly to me to-day. I guess it's
because it's so pretty out. Why, mostly always I think this is a
vonderful nice room.
The sitting-room of the Metz farm was attractive in its
old-fashioned furnishing. It was large and well lighted. The gray rag
carpetwoven from rags sewed by Aunt Maria and Phoebewas decorated
with wide stripes of green. Upon the carpet were spread numerous rugs,
some made of braided rags coiled into large circles, others were hooked
rugs gaily ornamented with birds and flowers and graceful scroll
designs. The low-backed chairs were painted dull green and each bore
upon the four inch panel of its back a hand-painted floral design. On
the haircloth sofa were several crazy-work cushions. Two deep
rocking-chairs matched the antique low-backed chairs. A spindle-legged
cherry table bore an old vase filled with pink and red straw flowers.
The large square table, covered with a red and green cloth, held a
glass lamp, the old Metz Bible, several hymn-books and the papers read
in that home,a weekly religious paper, the weekly town paper, and a
well-known farm journal. A low walnut organ which Phoebe's mother
brought to the farm and a tall walnut grandfather clock, the most
cherished heirloom of the Metz family, occupied places of honor in the
room. Not a single article of modern design could be found in the
entire room, yet it was an interesting and habitable place. Most of the
Metz furniture had stood in the old homestead for several generations
and so long as any piece served its purpose and continued to look
respectable Aunt Maria would have considered it gross extravagance,
even a sacrilege, to discard it for one of newer design. She was
satisfied with her house, her brother Jacob was well pleased with the
way she kept itit never occurred to her that Phoebe might ever desire
new things, and least of all did she dream that the girl sometimes
spent an interesting hour refurnishing, in imagination, the same old
Yes, Phoebe was saying to herself, sometimes this room is
vonderful to me. Only I wished the organ was a piano, like the one Mary
Warner got to play on. But, ach, I must hurry once and make this patch
done. Funny thing patchin' is, cuttin' up big pieces of good calico in
little ones and then sewin' them up in big ones again! I don't like
itshe spoke very softly for she knew her aunt disapproved of the
habit of talking to one's selfI don't like patchin' and I for
certain don't like red and green quilts! I got one on my bed now and it
hurts my eyes still in the morning when I get awake. I'd like a pretty
blue and white one for my bed. Mebbe Aunt Maria will leave me make one
when I get this one sewed. But now my patch is done and I dare to go to
Greenwald. That's a vonderful nice walk.
A moment later she stood again in the big kitchen.
See, she said, now I got them all done. And little stitches, too,
so nobody won't catch their toes in 'em when they sleep, like you used
to tell me still when I first begun to sew.
The woman smiled. Now you're a good girl, Phoebe. Put your patches
away nice and you dare go to Greenwald.
Where all shall I go?
Go first to Granny Hogendobler; that's right on the way to the
store. You ask her to come out to-morrow morning early if she wants to
help with the berries.
Dare I stay a little?
If you want. But don't you go bringin' any more slips of flowers to
plant or any seeds. The flower beds are that full now abody can hardly
get in to weed 'em still.
All right, I won't. But I think it's nice to have lots and lots of
flowers. When I have a garden once I'll have it full
Talk of that some other day, said her aunt. Get ready now for
town once. You go to the store and ask 'em to send out twenty pounds of
granulated sugar. Jonas, one of the clerks, comes out this way still
when he goes home and he can just as good fetch it along on his home
road. Your pop is too busy to hitch up and go in for it and I have no
time neither to-day and I want it early in the morning, and what I have
is almost all. And then you can buy three spools of white thread number
fifty. And when you're done you dare look around a little in the store
if you don't touch nothing. On the home road you better stop in the
post-office and ask if there's anything. Nobody was in yesterday.
All rightandAunt Maria, dare I wear my hat?
Ach, no. Abody don't wear Sunday clothes on a Wednesday just to go
to Greenwald to the store. Only when you go to Lancaster and on a
Sunday you wear your hat. You're dressed good enough; just get your
sunbonnet, for it's sunny on the road.
Phoebe took a small ruffled sunbonnet of blue checked gingham from a
hook behind the kitchen door and pressed it lightly on her head.
Ach, bonnets are vonderful hot things! she exclaimed. A nice
parasol like Mary Warner's got would be lots nicer. Where's the money?
she asked as she saw a shadow of displeasure on her aunt's face.
Here it is, enough for the sugar and the thread. Don't lose the
pocketbook, and be sure to count the change so they don't make no
And don't touch things in the store.
No. The child walked to the door, impatient to be off.
And be careful crossin' over the streets. If a horse comes, or a
bicycle, wait till it's past, or an automobile
Ach, yes, I'll be careful, Phoebe answered.
A moment later she went down the boardwalk that led through the yard
to the little green gate at the country road. There she paused and
looked back at the farm with its old-fashioned house, her birthplace
The Metz homestead, erected in the days of home-grown flax and
spinning-wheels, was plain and unpretentious. Built of gray, rough-hewn
quarry stone it hid like a demure Quakeress behind tall evergreen trees
whose branches touched and interlaced in so many places that the
traveler on the country road caught but mere glimpses of the big gray
The old home stood facing the road that led northward to the little
town of Greenwald. Southward the road curved and wound itself about a
steep hill, sent its branches right and left to numerous farms while
it, still twisting and turning, went on to the nearest city, Lancaster,
ten miles distant.
The Metz farm was just outside the southern limits of the town of
Greenwald. The spacious red barn stood on the very bank of Chicques
Creek, the boundary line.
It's awful pretty here to-day, Phoebe said aloud as she looked
from the house with its sheltering trees to the flower garden with its
roses, larkspur and other old-fashioned flowers, then to the background
of undulating fields and hills. It's just vonderful pretty here
to-day. But, ach, I guess it's pretty most anywheres on a day like
thisbut not in the house. Ugh, that patchin'! I want to forget it.
As she closed the gate and entered the country road she caught sight
of a familiar figure just ahead.
Hello, she called. Wait once, David! Is that you?
No, it ain't me, it's my shadow! came the answer as a boy, several
years older than Phoebe, turned and waited for her.
Ach, David Eby, she giggled, you're just like Aunt Maria says
still you arealways cuttin' up and talkin' so abody don't know if you
mean it or what. Goin' in to town, too, once?
Um-uh. Say, Phoebe, you want a rose to pin on? he asked, turning
to her with a pink damask rose.
Why, be sure I do! I just like them roses vonderful much. We got
'em too, big bushes of 'em, but Aunt Maria won't let me pull none off.
Where'd you get yourn?
We got lots. Mom lets me pull off all I want. You pin it on and be
decorated for Greenwald. Where all you going, Phoebe?
And I say thanks, too, David, for the rose, she said as she pinned
the rose to her dress. Um, it smells good! Where am I goin'? she
remembered his question. Why, to the store and to Granny Hogendobler
and the post-office
Jimminy Crickets! The boy stood still. That's where I'm to go! Me
and mom both forgot about it. Mom wants a money order and said I'm to
get it the first time I go to town and here I am without the money.
It's home up the hill again for me.
Ach, David, don't you know that it's vonderful bad luck to go back
for something when you got started once?
The boy laughed. It is bad luck to have to climb that hill
again. But mom'll say what I ain't got in my head I got to have in my
feet. They're big enough to hold a lot, too, Phoebe, ain't they?
She giggled, then laughed merrily. Ach, she said, you say funny
things. You just make me laugh all the time. But it's mean, now, that
you are so dumb to forget and have to go back. I thought I'd have nice
company all the ways in, but mebbe I'll see you in Greenwald.
Mebbe. Goo'bye, said the boy and turned to the hill again.
Phoebe stood a moment and looked after him. My, she said to
herself, but David Eby is a vonderful nice boy! Then she started down
the road, a quaint, interesting little figure in her brown chambray
dress with its full, gathered skirt and its short, plain waist. But the
face that looked out from the blue sunbonnet was even more interesting.
The blue eyes, golden hair and fair coloring of the cheeks held promise
of an abiding beauty, but more than mere beauty was bounded by the
ruffled sunbonnet. There was an eagerness of expression, an alert
understanding in the deep eyes, a tender fluttering of the long lashes,
an ever varying animation in the child face, as though she were
standing on tiptoe to catch all the sunshine and glory of the great,
beautiful world about her.
Phoebe went decorously down the road, across the wooden bridge over
the Chicques, then she began to skip. Her full skirt fluttered in the
light wind, her sunbonnet slipped back from her head and flapped as she
hopped along the half mile stretch of country road bordered by green
fields and meadows.
There's no houses here so I dare skip, she panted gleefully. Aunt
Maria don't think it looks nice for girls to skip, but I like to do it.
I could just skip and skip and skip
She stopped suddenly. In a meadow to her right a tangle of bulrushes
edged a small pond and, perched on a swaying reed, a red-winged
blackbird was calling his clear, Conqueree, conqueree.
Oh, you pretty thing! Phoebe cried as she leaned on the fence and
watched the bird. You're just the prettiest thing with them red and
yellow spots on your wings. And you ain't afraid of me, not a bit. I
guess mebbe you know you got wings and I ain't. Such pretty wings you
got, too, and the rest of you is all black as coal. Mebbe God made you
black all over like a crow and then got sorry for you and put some
pretty spots on your wings. I wonder nowher face soberedI just
wonder now why Aunt Maria says still that it's bad to fix up pretty
with curls and things like that and to wear fancy dresses. Why, many of
the birds are vonderful fine in gay feathers and the flowers are fancy
and the butterfliesach, mebbe when I'm big I'll understand it better,
or mebbe I'll dress up pretty then too.
With that cheering thought she turned again to the road and resumed
her walk, but the skipping mood had fled. She pulled her sunbonnet to
its proper place and walked briskly along, still enjoying thoroughly,
though less exuberantly, the beauty of the June morning.
The scent of pink clover mingled with the odor of grasses and the
delicate perfume of sweetbrier. Wood sorrel nestled in the grassy
corners near the crude rail fences, daisies and spiked toad-flax grew
lavishly among the weeds of the roadside. In the meadows tall milkweed
swayed its clusters of pink and lavender, marsh-marigolds dotted the
grass with discs of pure gold, and Queen Anne's lace lifted its
parasols of exquisite loveliness. Phoebe reveled in it all; her cheeks
were glowing as she left the beauty of the country behind her and came
at last to the little town of Greenwald.
CHAPTER II. OLD AARON'S FLAG
GREENWALD is an old town but it is a delightfully interesting one.
It does not wear its antiquity as an excuse for sinking into mouldering
uselessness. It presents, rather, a strange mingling of the quaint,
romantic and historic with the beautiful, progressive and modern.
Though it clings reverently to honored traditions it is ever mindful of
the fact that the welfare of its inhabitants is dependent upon
reasonable progress in its religious, educational and industrial life.
The charming stamp of its antiquity is revealed in its great old
trees; its wide Market Square from which narrower streets branch to the
east, west, north and south; its numerous houses of the plain,
substantial type of several generations ago; its occasional little, low
houses which have withstood the march of modern building and stand
squarely beside houses of more elaborate and later design; but chiefly
in its old-fashioned gardens. All the old-time flowers are favorites
there and refuse to be displaced by any newcomer. Sweet alyssum and
candytuft spread carpets of bloom along the neat garden walks,
hollyhocks and dahlias look boldly out to the streets, while the
old-fashioned sweet-scented roses grow on great bushes which have been
undisturbed for three or more generations.
To Phoebe Metz, Greenwald, with its two thousand inhabitants, its
several churches, post-office and numerous stores, seemed a veritable
city. She delighted in walking on its brick sidewalks, looking at its
different houses and entering its stores. How many attractions these
stores held for the little country girl! There was the big one on the
Square which had in one of its windows a great lemon tree on which grew
real lemons. Another store had a large Santa Claus in its window every
Christmasnot that Phoebe Metz had ever been taught to believe in that
patron saint of the childrenoh, no! Maria Metz would have considered
it foolish, even sinful, to lie to a child about any mythical Santa
Claus coming down the chimney Christmas Eve! Nevertheless, the smiling,
rotund face of the red-habited Santa in the store window seemed so real
and so emanative of cheer that Phoebe delighted in him each year and
felt sure there must be a Santa Claus somewhere in the world, even
though Aunt Maria knew nothing about him.
Most little towns can boast of one or more persons like Granny
Hogendobler, well-nigh community owned, certainly community
appropriated. Did any one need a helper in garden or kitchen or sewing
room, Granny Hogendobler was glad to serve. Did a housewife remember
that a rose geranium leaf imparts to apple jelly a delicious flavor,
Granny Hogendobler was able and willing to furnish the leaf. Did a
lover of flowers covet a new phlox or dahlia or other old-fashioned
flower, Granny Hogendobler was ready to give of her stock. Should a
young wife desire a recipe for crullers, shoo-fly pie, or other
delectable dish, Granny had a wealth of reliable recipes at her
tongue's end. This admirable desire to serve found ample opportunities
for exercise in the constant demands from her friends and neighbors.
But Granny's greatest joy lay in the fond ministrations for her
husband, Old Aaron, as the town people called him, half pityingly, half
accusingly. For some said Old Aaron was plain shiftless, had always
been so, would remain so forever, so long as he had Granny to do for
him. Others averred that the Confederate bullets that had shattered his
leg into splinters and necessitated its amputation must have gone
astray and struck his liverleastways, that was the kindest
explanation they could give for his laziness.
Granny stoutly refuted all these chargesgossip travels in circles
in small towns and sooner or later reaches those most concernedAaron
lazy! I-to-goodness no! Why, he's old and what for should he go out and
work every day, I wonder. He helps me with the garden and so, and when
I go out to help somebody for a day or two he gets his own meals and
tends the chickens still. Some people thought a few years ago that he
might get work in the foundry, but I said I want him at home with me.
He gets a pension and we can live good on what we have without him
slaving his last years away, and him with one leg lost at Gettysburg!
she ended proudly.
So Old Aaron continued to live his life as pleased his mate and
himself. He pottered about the house and garden and spent long hours
musing under the grape arbor. But there was one day in every year when
Old Aaron came into his own. Every Memorial Day he dressed in his
venerated blue uniform and carried the flag down the dusty streets of
Greenwald, out to the dustier road to a spot a mile from the heart of
the town, where, on a sunny hilltop, some of his comrades rested in the
Only the infirm and the ill of the town failed to run to look as the
little procession passed down the street. There were boys in khaki, the
town band playing its best, volunteer firemen clad in vivid red shirts,
a low, hand-drawn wagon filled with flowers, an old cannon, also
hand-drawn, whose shots over the graves of the dead veterans would
thrill as they thrilled every May thirtiethall received attention and
admiration from the watchers of the procession. But the real honors of
the day were accorded the thin blue line of heroes, and Old Aaron was
one of these. To Granny Hogendobler, who walked with the crowd of
cheering children and adults and kept step on the sidewalk with the
step of the marchers on the street, it was evident that the standard
bearer was growing old. The steep climb near the cemetery entrance left
him breathless and flushed and each year Granny thought, It's getting
too much for him to carry that flag. But each returning year she would
have spurned as earnestly as he any suggestion that another one be
chosen to carry that flag. And so every three hundred and sixty-fifth
day the lean straight figure of Old Aaron marched directly under the
fluttering folds of Old Glory and the soldier became a subject worthy
of veneration, then with customary nonchalance the little town forgot
him again or spoke of him as Old Aaron, a little lazy, a little
shiftless, a little childish, and Granny Hogendobler became the more
important figure of that household.
Granny was fifteen years younger than her husband and was undeniably
rotund of hips and face, the former rotundity increased by her full
skirts, the latter accentuated by her style of wearing her hair combed
back into a tight knot near the top of her head and held in place by a
huge black back-comb.
From this style of hair dressing it is evident that Granny was not a
member of any plain sect. She was, as she said, An Evangelical, one of
the old kind yet. I can say Amen to the preacher's sermon and stand up
in prayer-meeting and tell how the Lord has blessed me.
There were some who doubted the rich blessing of which Granny spoke.
I wouldn't think the Lord blessed me so much, whispered one, if I
had a man like Old Aaron, though I guess he's good enough to her. And
that boy of theirs never comes home; he must have a funny streak in him
too. But think of this, one would answer, how the Lord keeps her
cheerful, kind and faithful through all her troubles.
Granny's was a wonderful garden. She and Old Aaron lived in a little
gray cube of a house that had its front face set straight to the edge
of Charlotte Street. However, the north side of the cube looked into a
great green yard where tall spruce trees, overrun with trumpet vines
and woodbine, shaded long beds of flowers that love semi-shady places.
The rear of the house overlooked an old-fashioned garden enclosed with
a white-washed picket fence. Always were there flowers at Granny's
house. In the cold days of winter blooming masses of geraniums,
primroses and gloxinias crowded against the little square panes of the
windows and looked defiantly out at the snow; while all the old
favorites grew in the garden, from the first March snowdrop to the late
November chrysanthemum. In June, therefore, the garden was a Lovesome
It vonders me now if Granny's home, thought Phoebe as she opened
the wooden gate and entered the yard.
Here I am, called Granny. Back in the garden. I-to-goodness,
Phoebe, did you come once! I just said yesterday to Aaron that I didn't
see none of you folks for long, and here you come! You haven't seen the
flowers for a while.
Oh! Phoebe breathed an ecstatic little word of delight. Oh, your
garden is just vonderful pretty!
Ain't, agreed Granny. Aaron and me's been working pretty hard in
it these weeks. There he is, out in the potato patch; see him?
Phoebe stood on tiptoe and looked where Granny's finger pointed to
the extreme end of the long vegetable garden, where the white head of
Old Aaron was bending over his hoeing.
He's hoeing the potatoes, Granny explained. He don't see you. But
he'll soon be done and come in.
What were you doin'? asked the child.
Weeding the flag.
Weedin' the flagwhat do you mean? Phoebe's eyes lighted with
eagerness. I guess you mean mendin' the flag, Granny. She looked
toward the porch as if in search of Old Glory.
I said weeding the flag, the woman insisted. It's an idea of
Aaron's and I guess I'll tell you about it, seeing your eyes are open
so wide. See the poppies, that long stretch of them in the middle of
Um-uh, nodded Phoebe.
Well, that patch at the back is all red poppies, the buds just
coming on them nice and big. Then right in front of them is another
patch of white poppies; the buds are thick on them, too. And right in
front of themyou see what's there!
Larkspur, blue larkspur! cried Phoebe. Oh, I seeit's red, white
and blue! You'll have it all summer in your garden!
Yes. When it blooms it'll be a grand sight. I said to Aaron that
we'll have all the children of Greenwald in looking at his flag and he
said he hopes so, for they couldn't look at anything better than the
colors of Old Glory. Aaron's crazy about the flag.
'Cause he fought for it, mebbe.
Yes, I guess. His father died for it at Gettysburg, the same place
where Aaron lost his leg. . . . The only thing is, the larkspur's
getting ahead of the poppiesseems like the larkspur couldn't
waither voice continued lowI always love to see the larkspur
I too, said the child. I like to pull out the little slippers
from the middle of the flowers and fit 'em into each other and make
circles with 'em. I made a lot last summer and pressed 'em in a book,
but Aunt Maria made me stop.
That's just what Nason used to do. I have some pressed in the big
Bible yet that he made when he was a little boy. She spoke
half-absently, as though momentarily forgetful of the child's presence.
Who's Nason? asked Phoebe.
Granny started. I-to-goodness, Phoebe, I forgot! You don't know
him, never heard of him, I guess. He's our boy. We had a little girl,
too, but she died.
Did the boy die too, Granny?
No, ach no! You wouldn't understand. He's living in the city. He
writes to me often but he don't come home. He and his pop fell out
about the flag once when Nason was young and foolish and they're both
too stubborn to forget it.
But he'll come back some day and live with you, of course, won't
he? Phoebe comforted her.
Yessome day they'll see things different. But now don't you
bother that head of yourn with such things. You forget all about Nason.
Come now, sit on the bench a little under the arbor.
Just a little. I must go to the store yet.
You have lots to do.
Yes. And I almost forgot what I come for. Aunt Maria wants you
should come out to our place to-morrow early and help with the
strawberries if you can.
I'll come. I like to come to your place. Your Aunt Maria is so
straight out, nothing false about her. I like her. But now I bet you're
thinking of how many berries you can eat, she added as she noted the
child's abstracted look.
NoI was thinkin'I was just thinkin' what a funny name Nason is,
like you tried to say Nathan and got your tongue twisted.
It's a real name, but you must forget all about it.
If I can. Sometimes Aunt Maria tells me to forget things, like
wantin' curls and fancy things and pretty dresses but I don't see how I
can forget when I remember, do you?
It's hard, Granny said, a deeper meaning in her words than the
child could comprehend. It's the hardest thing in the world to forget
what you want to forget. But here comes Aaron
Well, well, if here ain't Phoebe Metz with her eyes shining and a
pink rose pinned to her waist and matching the roses in her cheeks!
the old soldier said as he joined the two under the arbor. Whew! Mebbe
it ain't hot hoeing potatoes!
You're all heated up, Aaron, said Granny. His fifteen years
seniority warranted a solicitous watchfulness over him, she thought.
Now you get cooled off a little and I'll make some lemonade. It'll
taste good to me and Phoebe, too.
All right, Ma, Aaron sighed in relaxation. You know how to touch
the spot. Did you tell Phoebe about the flag?
Oh, I think it's fine! cried the child. I can't wait till all the
flowers bloom. I want to see it.
You'll see it, promised the man. And you bring all the boys and
girls in too.
And then will you tell us about the war and the Battle of
Gettysburg? David Eby says he heard you once tell about it. I think it
was at some school celebration. And he says it was grand, just like
being there yourself.
A little safer, laughed the old soldier. But, yes, when the
poppies bloom you bring the children in and I'll tell you about the war
and the flag.
I'll remember. I love to hear about the war. Old Johnny
Schlegelmilch from way up the country comes to our place still to sell
brooms, and once last summer he came and it began to thunder and storm
and pop said he shall stay till it's over and then he told me all about
the war. He said our flag's the prettiest in the whole world.
So it is, solemnly affirmed Old Aaron.
I wonder if anybody it belongs to could help liking it, said the
child, remembering Granny's words.
Well, the veteran answered slowly, I knew a young fellow once, a
nice fellow he seemed, too, and his father a soldier who fought for the
flag. Well, the father was always talking about the flag and what it
means and how every man should be ready to fight for it. And one day
the boy said that he would never fight for it and be shot to pieces,
that the old flag made him sick, and one soldier in the family was
Oh! Phoebe opened her eyes wide in surprise and horror.
And the father told the boy, the old man went on in a fixed voice
as though the veriest details of the story were vividly before him,
that if he would not take back those words he never wanted to see him
again. It was better to have no son, than such a son, a coward who
hated the flag.
Here Granny appeared with the lemonade and the story was abruptly
ended. Phoebe refrained from questioning the man about the story but as
she sat under the arbor and afterwards, as she started up the street of
the little town, she wondered over and over how a boy could be the son
of a soldier and hate the flag, and whether the story Old Aaron told
her was the story of himself and Nason.
CHAPTER III. LITTLE DUTCHIE
AUNT MARIA said I dare look around a little, thought Phoebe as she
neared the big store on the Square. Her heart beat more quickly as she
turned the knob of the heavy doorlittle things still thrilled her,
going to the store in Greenwald was an event!
The clerk's courteous, What can I do for you? bewildered her for
an instant but she swallowed hard and said, Why, we want twenty pounds
of granulated sugar; ourn is almost all and Aunt Maria wants to make
some strawberry jelly to-morrow. She said for Jonas to fetch it along
on his home road.
All right. Out to Jacob Metz?
Yes, he's my pop.
I see. Anything else?
Three spools white thread, number fifty.
She shook her head as she handed him the money. No, that's all for
to-day. But Aunt Maria said I dare look around a little if I don't
Look all you want, said the clerk and turned away, smiling.
Phoebe began a slow tramp about the big store. There was the same
glass case filled with jewelry. The rings and pins rested on satin that
had faded long since, the jewelry itself was tarnished but it held
Phoebe's interest with its meagre glistening. One little ring with a
tiny turquoise aroused her desire but she realized that she was longing
for the impossible, so she moved away from the coveted treasures and
paused before the ribbons. Some of those same ribbons had been in the
tall revolving case ever since she could remember going to that store.
The pale sea-green and the crushed-strawberry were faded horribly, yet
she looked at them with longing. Suppose, she thought, I dared pick
out any ribbon I want for a sashguess I'd take that funny pink one,
or mebbe that nice blue one. But I kinda think I'd rather have a set of
dishes or a doll. But then I got that rag doll at home and that pretty
one that pop got for me in Lancaster and that Aunt Maria won't leave me
play with. That's funny now, that she says still I daren't play with it
for I might break it, that I shall keep it till I'm big. But when I'm
big I won't want a doll, and then I vonder what! What will I do with it
She stood a long time before a table crowded with a motley gathering
of toys, dolls and books. With so much coveted treasure before her it
was hard to remember Aunt Maria's injunction to refrain from touching.
Well, anyhow, she decided finally, I won't need any of these
things to play with now, for I'm going to be out in the garden and the
yard with the flowers and birds. So I guess my old rag doll will be
plenty for playin' with. But I mustn't look too long else Aunt Maria
won't leave me come in soon again. I'll walk down the other side of the
store now yet and then I must go.
She passed slowly along, her keen eyes noticing the varied
assortment of articles displayed for sale. A long line of red
handkerchiefs was fastened to a cord high above one counter. Long
shelves were stacked high with ginghams, calicoes and finer dress
materials. There were gaudy rugs and blankets tacked to the walls near
the ceiling. Counters were filled with glassware, china and crockery;
other counters were laden with umbrellas, hats, shoes
Ach, she sighed as she went out to the street, I think this goin'
to Greenwald to the store is vonderful nice! It's most as much fun as
goin' in to Lancaster, only there I go in a trolley and I see black
niggersshe spoke the word with a little shiver, for Greenwald had no
negro residentsand once in there me and Aunt Maria saw a Chinaman
with a long plait like a girl's hangin' down his back!
After asking for the mail at the post-office she turned homeward,
feeling like singing from sheer happiness. Then she looked down at her
pink damask roseit was withered.
I'm goin' home now so I guess I won't be decorated no more. She
unpinned the flower, clasped its short stem in her hand and raised the
blossom to her face.
Um-m-m! She drew deep breaths of the rose's perfume. Um-m!
Does it smell good?
Phoebe turned her head at the voice and looked into the face of a
young woman who sat on the porch of a near-by house.
Does it smell good? The question came again, accompanied by a
Quickly the hand holding the flower dropped to the child's side, her
eyes were cast down to the brick pavement and she went hurriedly down
the street. But not so hurriedly that she failed to hear the words,
LITTLE DUTCHIE and a merry laugh from the young woman.
Sheshe laughed at me! Phoebe murmured to herself under the blue
sunbonnet. I don't know who she is, but that was at Mollie Stern's
house that she satthat lady that laughed at me. She called me a
The child stabbed a fist into one eye and then into the other to
fight back the tears. She felt sure that the appellation of Dutchie was
not complimentary. Hadn't she heard the boys at school tease each other
by calling, Dutchie, Dutchie, sauer kraut! But no one had ever called
her that before! Her heart ached as she went down the street of the
little town. She had planned to look at all the gardens of the main
street as she walked home but the glory of the June day was spoiled for
her. She did not care to look at any gardens. The laughing words, Does
it smell good? rang in her ears. The name, Little Dutchie, sent her
After the first hurt a feeling of wrath rose in her. Anyhow, she
thought, it's no disgrace to be a Dutchie! Nobody needn't laugh at me
for that. But I just hate that lady that laughed at me! I hate
everybody that pokes fun at me. And I ain't goin' to always be a
Dutchie. You see once if I don't be something else when I grow up!
Hello, Phoebe, a cheery voice rang out, followed by a deeper
exclamation, Phoebe! as she came to the last intersection of streets
in the town and turned to enter the country road.
She turned a sober little face to the speakers, David Eby and his
cousin, Phares Eby.
Hello, she answered listlessly.
What's wrong? asked the older boy as they joined her.
Both were plainly country boys accustomed to hard farm work, but
their tanned faces were frank and honest under broad straw hats. Each
bore marked family resemblances in their big frames, dark eyes and
well-shaped heads, but there was a distinct line drawn between their
personalities. Phares Eby at sixteen was grave, studious and dignified;
his cousin, David, two years younger, was a cheery, laughing, sociable
boy, fond of boyish sports, delighting in teasing his schoolmates and
enjoying their retaliation, preferring a tramp through the woods to the
best book ever written.
The boys lived on adjacent farms and had long been the nearest
neighbors of the Metz family; thus they had become Phoebe's playmates.
Then, too, the Eby families were members of the Church of the Brethren,
the mothers of the boys were old friends of Maria Metz, and a deep
friendship existed among them all. Phoebe and the two boys attended the
same little country school and had become frankly fond of each other.
What's wrong? asked Phares again as Phoebe hung her head and
Ach, laughed David, somebody's broke her dolly.
Nobody ain't not broke my dolly, David Eby! she said crossly. I
wouldn't cry for that!
What's wrong then?come on, Phoebe. He pushed the sunbonnet back
and patted her roguishly on the head. But she drew away from him.
Don't you touch me, she cried. I'm a Dutchie!
She tossed her head and became silent again.
Come on, tell me, coaxed David. I want to know what's wrong. Why,
if you don't tell me I'll be so worried I won't be able to eat any
dinner, and I'm so hungry now I could eat nails.
The girl laughed suddenly in spite of herselfAch, David, you're
awful simple! Abody has to laugh at you. I was mad, for when I was in
Greenwald I was smellin' a rose, that pink rose you gave me, and some
lady on Mollie Stern's porch laughed at me and called me a LITTLE
DUTCHIE! Now wouldn't you got mad for that?
But David threw back his head and laughed. And you were ready to
cry at that? he said. Why, I'm a Dutchie, so is Phares, so's most of
the people round here. Ain't so, Phares?
Yes, guess so, the older boy assented, his eyes still upon Phoebe.
D'ye know, he said, addressing her, when you were cross a few
minutes ago your eyes were almost black. You shouldn't get so angry
I don't care, she retorted quickly, I don't care if my eyes was
But you should care, persisted the boy gravely. I don't like you
Ach, she flashed an indignant look at himPhares Eby, you're by
far too bossy! I like David best; he don't boss me all the time like
David laughed but Phares appeared hurt.
Phoebe was quick to note it. Now I hurt you like that lady hurt me,
ain't, Phares? she said contritely. But I didn't mean to hurt you,
But you like me best, said David gaily. You can't take that back,
She gave him a scornful look. Then she remembered the flag in the
Hogendobler garden and became happy and eager again as she said, Oh,
Phares, David, I know the best secret!
Can't keep it, I bet! challenged David.
Can't I? she retorted saucily. Now for that I won't tell you till
you get good and anxious. But then it's not really a secret. The flag
of growing flowers was too glorious a thing to keep; she
compromisedI'll tell you, because it's not a real secret. And she
proceeded to unfold with earnest gesticulations the story about the
flowers of red and white and blue and the invitation for all who cared
to come and see the colors of Old Glory growing in the garden of Old
Aaron and Granny, and of the added pleasure of hearing Old Aaron tell
his thrilling story of the battle of Gettysburg.
I won't want to hear about any battle, said Phares. I think war
is horrible, awful, wicked.
Mebbe so, said the girl, but the poor men who fight in wars ain't
always awful, horrible, wicked. You needn't turn your nose up at the
old soldiers. Folks call Old Aaron lazy, I heard 'em a'ready, lots of
times, but I bet some of them wouldn't have fought like he did and left
a leg at Gettysburg andach, I think Old Aaron is just vonderful
grand! she ended in an impulsive burst of eloquence.
Hooray! shouted David. So do I! When he carries the flag out the
pike every Decoration Day he's somebody, all right.
Ain't now! agreed Phoebe.
Been in the stores? David asked her, feeling that a change of
subject might be wise.
See anything pretty?
Ach, yes. A lots of things. I saw the prettiest finger ring with a
blue stone in. I wish I had it.
What would Aunt Maria say to that? wondered David.
Ach, she'd say that so long as my finger ain't broke I don't need a
band on it. But I looked at the ring at any rate and wished I had it.
You dare never wear gold rings, Phares told her.
Not now, she returned, but some day when I'm older mebbe I'll
wear a lot of 'em if I want.
The words set the boys thinking. Each wondered what manner of woman
their little playmate would become.
I bet she'll be a good-looking one, thought David. She'd look
swell dressed up fine like some of the people I see in town.
Of course she'll turn plain some day like her aunt, thought the
other boy. She'll look nice in the plain dress and the white cap.
Phoebe, ignorant of the visions her innocent words had called to the
hearts of her comrades, chattered on until they reached the little
green gate of the Metz farm.
Now you two must climb the hill yet. I'm glad I'm home. I'm
And me, the boys answered, and with good-byes were off on the
winding road up the hill.
As Phoebe turned the corner of the big gray house she came face to
face with her father.
So here you are, Phoebe, he said, smiling at sight of her. Your
Aunt Maria sent me out to look if you were coming. It's time to eat.
Been to the store, ain't?
Yes, pop. I went alone.
So? Why, you're getting a big girl, now you can go to Greenwald
Ach, she laughed. Why, it's just straight road.
They crossed the porch and entered the kitchen hand-in-hand, the
sunbonneted little girl and the big farmer. Jacob Metz was also a
member of the Church of the Brethren and bore the distinctive mark:
hair parted in the middle and combed straight back over his ears and
cut so that the edge of it almost touched his collar. A heavy black
beard concealed his chin, mild brown eyes gleamed beneath a pair of
heavy black brows. Only in the wide, high forehead and the resolute
mouth could be seen any resemblance between him and the fair child by
When they entered the kitchen Maria Metz turned from the stove,
where she had been stirring the contents of a big iron pan.
So you got back safe, after all, Phoebe, she said with a sigh of
relief. I was afraid mebbe something happened to you, with so many
streets to go across and so many teams all the time and the
Ach, I look both ways still before I start over. Granny Hogendobler
said she'll get out early.
So. What did she have to say?
Ach, lots. She showed me her flowers. Ain't it too bad, now, that
her little girl died and her boy went away?
Well, she spoiled that boy. He grew up to be not much account if he
stays away just because he and his pop had words once.
But he'll come back some day. Granny knows he will. The child
echoed the old mother's confidence.
Not much chance of that, said Aunt Maria with her usual
decisiveness. When a man goes off like that he mostly always stays
off. He writes to her she says and I guess she's just as good off with
that as if he come home to live. She's lived this long without him.
But, argued Phoebe, the maternal in her over-sweeping all else,
he's her boy and she wants him back!
Ach, the aunt said impatiently, you talk too much. Were you at
Yes. I got the thread and ordered the sugar and counted the change
and there was nothing in the post-office for us.
Did you enjoy your trip to town? asked the father.
But what? demanded Aunt Maria. Did you break anything in the
No. I just got mad. It was this wayand she told the story of her
Maria Metz frowned. David Eby should leave his mom's roses on the
stalks where they belong. Anyhow, I guess you did look funny if you
poked your nose in it like you do still here.
But she had no business to laugh at me, had she, pop?
You're too touchy, he said kindly. But did you say the lady was
on Mollie Stern's porch?
Then I guess it was her cousin from Philadelphia, the one that was
elected to teach the school on the hill for next winter.
Oh, pop, not our school?
Yes. Anyhow, her cousin was elected yesterday to teach your school.
It seems she wanted to teach in the country and Mollie's pop is friends
with a lot of our directors and they voted her in.
I ain't goin' to school then! Phoebe almost sobbed. I don't like
her, I don't want to go to her school; she laughed at me.
Come, come, the father laid his hands on her head and spoke gently
yet in a tone that she respected. You mustn't get worked up over it.
She's a nice young lady, and it will be something new to have a teacher
from Philadelphia. Anyhow, it's a long ways yet till school begins.
I'm glad it is.
Come, interrupted the aunt, help now to dish up. It's time to eat
once. We're Pennsylvania Dutch, so what's the use gettin' cross when
we're called that?
Yes, Phoebe's father said, smiling, I'm a Dutchie too, but I'm a
Phoebe smiled, but all through the meal and during the days that
followed she thought often of the rose. Her heart was bitter toward the
new teacher and she resolved never, never to like her!
CHAPTER IV. THE NEW TEACHER
THE first Monday in September was the opening day of the rural
school on the hill. Phoebe woke that morning before daylight. At four
she heard her Aunt Maria tramp about in heavy shoes. It was Monday and
wash-day and to Maria Metz the two words were so closely linked that
nothing less than serious illness or death could part them.
Ach, my, Phoebe sighed as she turned again under her red and green
quilt, this is the first day of school! Wish Aunt Maria'd forget to
call me till it's too late to go.
At five-thirty she heard her father go down-stairs and soon after
that came her aunt's loud call, Phoebe, it's time to get up. Get up
now and get down for I have breakfast made.
Yes, came the dreary answer.
Now don't you go asleep again.
No, I'm awake. Shall I dress right aways for school?
No. Put on your old brown gingham once.
Phoebe made a wry face. Ugh, that ugly brown gingham! What for did
anybody ever buy brown when there are such pretty colors in the
A moment later she pushed back the gay quilt and sat on the edge of
the bed. The first gleams of day-break sent bright streaks of light
into her room as she sat on the high walnut bed and swung her bare feet
back and forth.
It's the first time I wasn't glad for school, she soliloquized
softly. I used to could hardly wait still, and I'd be glad this time
if we didn't have that teacher from Phildelphy. Miss Virginia Lee her
name is, and she's pretty like the name, but I don't like her! Guess
she's that stuck up, comin' from the city, that she'll laugh all the
time at us country people. I don't like people that poke fun at me, you
bet I don't! I vonder now, mebbe I am funny to look at, that she
laughed at me. But if I was I think somebody would 'a' told me long
ago. I don't see what for she laughed so at me.
She sprang from the bed and ran to the window, pulled the cord of
the green shade and sent it rattling to the top. Then she stood on
tiptoe before the mirror in the walnut bureau, but the glass was hung
too high for a satisfactory scrutiny of her features. She pushed a
cane-seated chair before the bureau, knelt upon it and brought her face
close to the glass.
Um, she surveyed herself soberly. Well, now, mebbe if my hair was
combed I'd look better.
She pulled the tousled braids, opened them and shook her head until
the golden hair hung about her face in all its glory.
Whyshe gasped at the sudden change she had wrought, then laughed
aloud from sheer childish happiness in her own miracleWhy, she said
gladly, I ain't near so funny lookin' with my hair opened and down
instead of pulled back in two tight plaits! But I wish Aunt Maria'd
leave me have curls. I'd have a lot, and long ones, longer'n Mary
Phoebe! Aunt Maria's voice startled the little girl. What in the
world are you doing lookin' in that glass so? And your knees on a
cane-bottom chair! You know better than that. What for are you lookin'
at yourself like that? You ought to be ashamed to be so vain.
Phoebe left the chair and looked at her aunt.
Why, she said in an amazed voice, I wasn't being vain! I was just
lookin' to see if I am funny lookin' that it made Miss Lee laugh at me.
And I found out that I'm much nicer to look at with my hair open than
in plaits. You say still I mustn't have curls, but can't you see how
much nicer I look this way
Ach, interrupted her aunt, don't talk so dumb! I guess you ain't
any funnier lookin' than other people, and if you was it wouldn't
matter long as you're a good girl.
But I wouldn't be a good girl if I looked like some people I saw
a'ready. If I had such big ears and crooked nose and big mouth
Phoebe, you talk vonderful! Where do you get such nonsense put in
I just think it and then I say it. But was that bad? I didn't mean
it for bad.
She looked so like a cherub of absolute innocency with her deep blue
eyes opened wide in wonder, her golden hair tumbled about her face and
streaming over the shoulders of her white muslin nightgown, that Aunt
Maria, though she had never heard of Reynolds' cherubs, was moved by
the adorable picture.
I know, Phoebe, she said kindly, that you want to be a good girl.
But you say such funny things still that I vonder sometimes if I'm
raisin' you the right way. Come, hurry, now get dressed. Your pop's
goin' way over to the field near Snavely's and you want to give him
good-bye before he goes to work.
I'll hurry, Aunt Maria, honest I will, the child promised and
began to dress.
A little while later when she appeared in the big kitchen her father
and Aunt Maria were already eating breakfast. With her hair drawn back
into one uneven braid and a rusty brown dress upon her she seemed
little like the adorable figure of the looking-glass, but her father's
face lighted as he looked at her.
So, Phoebe, he said, a teasing twinkle in his eyes, I see you get
up early to go to school.
But I ain't glad to go. She refused to smile at his words.
Ach, yes, he coaxed, you be a good girl and like your new
teacher. She's nice. I guess you'll like her when you know her once.
Mebbe so, was the unpromising answer as she slipped the straps of
a blue checked apron over her shoulders, buttoned it in the back and
took her place at the table.
Breakfast at the Metz farm was no light meal. Between the early
morning meal and the twelve o'clock dinner much hard work was generally
accomplished and Maria Metz felt that a substantial foundation was
necessary. Accordingly, she carried to the big, square cherry table in
the kitchen an array of well-filled dishes. There was always a glass
dish of stewed prunes or seasonable fresh fruit; a plate piled high
with thick slices of home-made bread; several dishes of spreadings, as
the jellies, preserves or apple-butter of that community are called.
There was a generous square of home-made butter, a platter of
home-cured ham or sausage, a dish of fried or creamed potatoes, a
smaller dish of pickles or beets, and occasionally a dome of glistening
cup cheese. The meal would have been considered incomplete without a
liberal supply of cake or cookies, coffee in huge cups and yellow cream
in an old-fashioned blue pitcher.
That morning Aunt Maria had prepared an extra treat, a platter of
golden slices of fried mush.
The two older people partook heartily of the food before them but
the child ate listlessly. Her aunt soon exclaimed, Now, Phoebe, you
must eat or you'll get hungry till recess. You know this is the first
day of school and you can't run for a cookie if you get hungry. You
ain't eatin'; you feel bad?
No, but I ain't hungry.
Come now, urged her father, as he poured a liberal helping of
molasses on his sixth piece of mush, you must eat. You surely don't
feel that bad about going to school!
Ach, pop, she burst out, I don't hate the school part, the
learnin' in books; that part is easy. But I don't like the teacher, and
I guess she laughed at my tight braids. Mebbe if I dared wear
curlsOh, pop, daren't I have curls? I'd like to show her that I
look nice that way. Say I dare, then I won't be so funny lookin' no
Jacob Metz looked at his offspringwhat did the child mean? Why, he
thought she was right sweet and surely her aunt kept her clean and
tidy. But before he could answer his sister spoke authoritatively.
Jacob, I wish you'd tell her once that she daren't have curls! She
just plagues me all the time for 'em. Her hair was made to be kept back
and not hangin' all over.
Why then, Phoebe asked soberly, did God make my hair curly if I
daren't have curls? She spoke with a sense of knowing that she had
propounded an unanswerable question.
That part don't matter, evaded Aunt Maria. You ask your pop once
how he wants you to have your hair fixed.
The child looked up expectantly but she read the answer in her
I like your hair back in plaits, Phoebe. You look nice that way.
Ach, her nose wrinkled in disgust, not so very, I guess. Mary
Warner has curls, always she has curls!
Come, said the father as he rose from his chair, you be a good
girl now to-day. I'm going now.
All right, pop. I'll tell you to-night how I like the teacher.
After the breakfast dishes were washed and the other morning tasks
accomplished Phoebe brought her comb and ribbons to her aunt and sat
patiently on a spindle-legged kitchen chair while the woman carefully
parted the long light hair and formed it into two braids, each tied at
the end with a narrow brown ribbon.
Now, Aunt Maria said as she unbuttoned the despised brown dress,
you dare put on your blue chambray dress if you take care and not get
it dirty right aways.
Oh, I'm glad for that. I like that dress best of all I have. It's
not so long in the body or tight or long in the skirt like my other
dresses. And blue is a prettier color than brown. I'll hurry now and
She ran up the wide stairs, her hands skimming lightly the white
hand-rail, and entered the little room known as the clothes-room, where
the best clothes of the family were hung on heavy hooks fastened along
the entire length of the four walls. She soon found the blue chambray
dress. It was extremely simple. The plain gathered skirt was fastened
to the full waist by a wide belt of the chambray. But the dress bore
one distinctive feature. Instead of the usual narrow band around the
neck it was adorned with a wide round collar which lay over the
shoulders. Phoebe knew that the collar was vastly becoming and the
knowledge always had a soothing effect upon her.
When the call of the school bell floated down the hill to the gray
farmhouse Phoebe picked up her school bag and her tin lunch kettle and
started off, outwardly in happier mood yet loath to go to the old
schoolhouse for the first session of school.
From the Metz farm the road to the school began to ascend. Gradually
it curved up-hill, then suddenly stretched out in a long, steep climb
until, upon the summit of the hill, it curved sharply to the west to a
wide clearing. It was to this clearing the little country schoolhouse
with its wide porch and snug bell-tower called the children back to
Goldenrod and asters grew along the road, dogwood branches hung
their scarlet berries over the edge of the woods, but Phoebe would have
scorned to gather any of the flowers she loved and carry them to the
new teacher. I ain't bringing her any flowers, she
She trudged soberly ahead. As she reached the summit of the hill
several children called to her. From three roads came other children,
most of them carrying baskets or kettles filled with the noon lunch.
All were eager for the opening of school, anxious to see the new
From the farm nearest the schoolhouse Phares Eby had come for his
last year in the rural school. From the little cottage on the adjoining
farm David Eby came whistling down the road.
Hello, Phoebe, he called as he drew near to her. Glad for
I ain't! She flung the words at him. You know good enough I
Ha, ha, he laughed, don't be cranky, Phoebe. Here comes Phares
and he'll tell you that your eyes are black when you're cross. Won't
I began the sober youth, but Phoebe rudely interrupted.
I don't care. I don't like the new teacher.
You must like everybody, said Phares.
Well, I just guess I won't! There's Mary Warner with her white
dress and her black curls with a pink bow on themyou don't think I'm
likin' her when she's got what I want and daren't have? Come on, it's
time to go in, she added as Phares would have remonstrated with her
for her frank avowal of jealousy. Let's go in and see what the
teacher's got on.
Gee, whistled David, girls are always thinking of clothes.
Phoebe gave him a disdainful look, but he laughed and walked by her
side, up the three steps, across the porch and into the schoolhouse.
The red brick schoolhouse on the hill was a typical country school
of Lancaster County. It had one large room with four rows of double
desks and seats facing the teacher's desk and a long blackboard with
its border of A B C. A stove stood in one of the corners in the front
of the room. In the rear numerous hooks in the wall waited for the
children's wraps and a low bench stood ready to receive their lunch
baskets and kettles. Each detail of the little schoolhouse was
reproduced in scores of other rural schools of that community. And yet,
somehow, many of the older children felt on that first Monday a hope
that their school would be different that year, that the teacher from
Philadelphia would change many of the old ways and teach them, what
Youth most desires, new ways, new manners, new things. It is only as
the years bring wisdom that men and women appreciate the old things of
life, as well as the new.
The new teacher became at once the predominating spirit of that
little group. The interest of all the children, from the shy little
beginners in the Primer class to the tall ones in the A class, was
centered about her.
Miss Lee stood by her desk as Phoebe and the two boys entered. It
was still that delightful period, before-school, when laughter could be
released and voices raised without a fear of keep quiet. The children
moved to the teacher's desk as though drawn by magnetic force. Mary
Warner, her dark curls hanging over her shoulders, appeared already
acquainted with her. Several tiny beginners stood near the desk, a few
older scholars were bravely offering their services to fetch water from
Eby's whenever it's all or you want some fresh, or else stay and clap
the erasers clean.
When the second tug at the bell-rope gave the final call for the
opening of school there was an air of gladness in the room. The new
teacher possessed enough of the elusive something the country
children felt belonged to a teacher from a big city like Philadelphia.
The way she conducted the opening exercises, led the singing, and then
proceeded with the business of arranging classes and assigning lessons
served to intensify the first feelings of satisfaction. When recess
came the children ran outdoors, ostensibly to play, but rather to
gather into little groups and discuss the merits of the new teacher.
The general verdict was, She's all right.
Ain't she all right? David Eby asked Phoebe as they stood in the
brown grasses near the school porch.
Ach, don't ask me that so often!
But honest now, Phoebe, don't you like her?
I don't know.
When will you know?
I don't know, came the tantalizing answer.
Ach, sometimes, Phoebe, you make me mad! You act dumb just like the
other girls sometimes.
Then keep away from me if you don't like me, she retorted.
Sassbox! said the boy and walked away from her.
The little tilt with David did not improve the girl's humor. She
entered the schoolroom with a sulky look on her face, her blue eyes
dark and stormy. Accordingly, when Mary Warner shook her enviable curls
and leaned forward to whisper ecstatically, Phoebe, don't you just
love the new teacher? Phoebe replied very decidedly, I do not! I
don't like her at all!
For a moment Mary held her breath, then a surprised Oh! came from
her lips and she raised her hand and waved it frantically to attract
the teacher's attention.
What is it, Mary?
Why, Miss Lee, Phoebe Metz says she don't like you at all!
Did she ask you to tell me? A faint flush crept into the face of
Then that will do, Mary.
But Phoebe Metz did not dismiss the matter so easily. She turned in
her seat and gave one of Mary's obnoxious curls a vigorous yank.
Tattle-tale! she hurled out madly. Big tattle-tale!
Yank 'em again, whispered David, seated a few seats behind the
girls, but Phares called out a soft, Phoebe, stop that.
It all occurred in a momentthe yank, the outcry of Mary, the
whispers of the two boys and the subsequent pause in the matter of
teaching and the centering of every child's attention upon the exciting
incident and wondering what Miss Lee would do with the disturbers of
Phoebe, the teacher's voice was controlled and forceful, you may
fold your hands. You do not seem to know what to do with them.
Phoebe folded her hands and bowed her head in shame. She hadn't
meant to create a disturbance. What would her father say when he knew
she was scolded the first day of school!
The teacher's voice went on, Mary Warner, you may come to me at
noon. I want to tell you a few things about tale-bearing. Phoebe may
remain after the others leave this afternoon.
Kept in! thought Phoebe disconsolately. She was going to be kept
in the first day! Never before had such punishment been meted out to
her! The disgrace almost overwhelmed her.
Now I won't ever, ever, ever like her! she thought as she bent her
head to hide the tears.
The remainder of the day was like a blurred page to her. She was
glad when the other children picked up their books and empty baskets
and kettles and started homeward.
Cheer up, whispered David as he passed out, but she was too
miserable to smile or answer.
Come on, David, urged Phares when the two cousins reached outdoors
and the younger one seemed reluctant to go home. Don't stay here to
pet Phoebe when she comes out.
Ach, the poor kidDavid was all sympathy and tenderness.
Let her get punished. Pulling Mary's hair like that!
Well, Mary tattled. I was wishing Phoebe'd yank that darned kid's
hair half off.
Mary just told the truth. You think everything Phoebe does is right
and you help her along in her temper. She needs to be punished
Ach, you make me tired, standing up for a tattle-tale! Anyhow, you
go on home. I'm goin' to hang round a while and see if Miss Lee does
Phares went on alone and the other boy stole to a window and
crouched to the ground.
Inside the room Phoebe waited tremblingly for the teacher to speak.
It seemed ages before Miss Lee walked down the aisle and stood by the
Phoebe raised her headthe look in the dark eyes of the teacher
filled her with a sudden reversion of feeling. How could she go on
hating any one so beautiful!
Phoebe, I'm sorryI'm so sorry there has been any trouble the
first day and that you have been the cause of it.
Iach, Miss Lee, the child blurted out half-sobbingly, Mary, she
tattled on me.
That was wrong, of course. I made her understand that at noon. But
don't you think that pulling her hair and creating a disturbance was
I guess so, mebbe. But I didn't mean to make no fuss. IIwhy, I
just get so mad still! I hadn't ought to pull her hair, for that hurts
Then you might tell her to-morrow how sorry you are about it.
Yes. Phoebe looked up at the lovely face of the teacher. She felt
that some explanation of Mary's tale was necessary. Why, now, she
stammered, you knowyou know that Mary said I said I don't like you?
Why, this summer once, early in June it wasthe child hung her
head and spoke almost inaudiblyyou laughed at me and called me a
LITTLE DUTCHIE! She looked up bravely then and spoke faster, And for
that, it's just for that I don't like you like all the others do
Laughed at you! Miss Lee was perplexed. You must be mistaken.
But Phoebe shook her head resolutely and told the story of the pink
rose. Miss Lee listened at first with an incredulous smile upon her
face, then with dawning remembrance.
You dear child! she cried as Phoebe ended her quaint recital. So
you are the little girl of the sunbonnet and the rose! I thought this
morning I had seen you before. But you don't understand! I didn't laugh
at you in the way you think. Why, I laughed at you just as we laugh at
a dear little baby, because we love it and because it is so dear and
sweet. And DUTCHIE was just a pet name. Can't you understand? You were
so quaint and interesting in your sunbonnet and with the pink rose
pressed to your face. Can't you understand?
Phoebe smiled radiantly, her face beaming with happiness.
Ach, ain't that simple now of me, Miss Lee? she said in her
old-fashioned manner. I was so dumb and thought you was makin' fun of
me, and just for that all summer I was wishin' school would not start
ever. And I was sayin' all the time I ain't goin' to like you. But now
I do like you, she added softly.
I am glad we understand each other, Phoebe.
Miss Lee was genuinely interested in the child, attracted by the
charming personality of the country girl. Of the thirty children of
that school she felt that Phoebe Metz, in spite of her old-fashioned
dress and older-fashioned ways, was the preëminent figure. It would be
a delight to teach a child whose face could light with so much
Now, Phoebe, she said, since we understand each other and have
become friends, gather your books and hurry home. Your mother may be
anxious about you.
Not my mother, Phoebe replied soberly. I ain't got no mom. It's
my Aunt Maria and my pop takes care of me. My mom's dead long a'ready.
But I'm goin' now, she ended brightly before Miss Lee could answer.
And the road's all down-hill so it won't take me long.
So she gathered her books and kettle, said good-bye to Miss Lee and
hurried from the schoolhouse. When she was fairly on the road she broke
into her habit of soliloquy: Ach, if she ain't the nicest lady! So
pretty she is and so kind! She was vonderful kind after what I done.
The teacher we had last year, now, he would 'a' slapped my hands with a
ruler, he was awful for rulers! But she just looked at me and I was so
sorry for bein' bad that I could 'a' cried. And when she touched my
handsher hands is soft like the milkweed silk we find still in the
fallI just had to like her. I like her now and I'm goin' to be a good
girl for her and when I grow up I wish I'd be just like her, just
esactly like her.
David Eby waited until he was certain no harm was coming to Phoebe.
He heard her say, Now I do like you and knew that the matter was
being settled satisfactorily. Relieved, yet ashamed of his
eavesdropping, he ran down the road toward his home.
That teacher's all right, he thought. But Jimminy, girls is funny
He went on, whistling, but stopped suddenly as he turned a curve in
the road and saw Phares sitting on the grass in the shelter of a clump
The older boy rose. David, he said sternly, you're spoiling
Phoebe Metz with your petting and fooling around her. What for need you
pity her when she gets kept in for being bad? She was bad!
She was not bad! David defended staunchly. That Mary Warner makes
me sick. Phoebe's got some sense, anyhow, and she's not bad. There's
nothing bad in her.
Um, said Phares tauntingly, mebbe you like her already and next
you'll want her for your girl. You give her pink roses and you stay to
lick the teacher for her if
But the sentence was never finished. At the first words David's eyes
flashed, his hands doubled into hard fists and, as his cousin paid no
heed to the warning, he struck out suddenly, then partially restraining
his rage, he unclenched his right hand and gave Phares a smarting slap
upon the mouth.
I'll learn you, he growled, to meddle in my business! You mind
your own, d'ye hear?
WhyPhares knew no words to answer the insultwhy, David, he
stammered, wiping his smarting lips.
But his silence added fuel to the other's wrath.
You butt in too much, that's what! said David. It's just like
Phoebe says, you boss too much. I ain't going to take it no more from
Inowmebbe I do, admitted Phares.
At the words David's anger cooled. He laid a hand on the older boy's
arm, as older men might have gripped hands in reconciliation. Come on,
Phares, he said in natural, friendly tones. I hadn't ought to hit
you. Let's forget all about it. You and me mustn't fight over Phoebe.
That's so, agreed Phares, but both were thoughtful and silent as
they went down the lane.
CHAPTER V. THE HEART OF A CHILD
PHOEBE'S aspiration to become like her teacher did not lessen as the
days went on. Her profound admiration for Miss Lee developed into
intense devotion, a devotion whose depth she carefully guarded from
To her father's interested questioning she answered a mere, Why, I
like her, for all, pop. She didn't laugh to make fun at me. I think
she's nice. But secretly the little girl thought of her new teacher in
the most extravagant superlatives. Her heart was experiencing its first
hero worship; the poetic, imaginative soul of the child was attracted
by the magnetic personality of Miss Lee. The teacher's smiles,
mannerisms, dress, and above all, her English, were objects worthy of
emulation, thought the child. At times Phoebe despaired of ever
becoming like Miss Lee, then again she felt certain she had within her
possibilities to become like the enviable, wonderful Virginia Lee. But
she breathed to none her ambitions and hopes except at night as she
knelt by her high old-fashioned bed and bent her head to say the prayer
Aunt Maria had taught her in babyhood. Then to the prayer, Now I lay
me down to sleep, she added an original petition, And please let me
get like my teacher, Miss Lee. Amen.
Aunt Maria, church is on the hill Sunday, ain't it? she asked one
day after several weeks of school.
Yes. And I hope it's nice, for we make ready for a lot of company
always when we have church here.
Why, the child asked eagerly, dare I ask Miss Lee to come here
for dinner too that Sunday? Mary Warner's mom had her for dinner last
Ach, yes, I don't care. You ask her. Mebbe she ain't been in a
plain church yet and would like to go with us and then come home for
dinner here. You ask her once.
Phoebe trembled a bit as she invited the teacher to the gray
farmhouse. Miss Leewhywe have church here on the hill this Sunday
and Aunt Maria thought perhaps you'd like to come out and go with us
and then come to our house for dinner. We always have a lot of people
I'd love to, Phoebe, thank you, answered Miss Lee.
The plain sects of that community were all novel to her. She was
eager to attend a service in the meeting-house on the hill and
especially eager to meet Phoebe's people and study the unusual child in
the intimate circle of home.
Tell your aunt I shall be very glad to go to the service with you,
she said as Phoebe stood speechless with joy. Will you go?
Ach, yes, I go always, with a surprised widening of the blue eyes.
And your aunt, too?
Why be sure, yes! Abody don't stay home from church when it's so
near. That would look like we don't want company. There's church on the
hill only every six weeks and the other Sundays it's at other churches.
Then we drive to those other churches and people what live near ask us
to come to their house for dinner, and we go. Then when it's here on
the hill we must ask people that live far off to come to us for dinner.
That way everybody has a place to go. It makes it nice to go away and
to have company still. We always have a lot when church is here. Aunt
Maria cooks so good.
She spoke the last words innocently and looked up with an expression
of wonder as she heard Miss Lee laugh gailynow what was funny? Surely
Miss Lee laughed when there was nothing at all to laugh about!
What time does your service begin? asked the teacher. What time
do you leave the house?
It takes in at nine o'clock
Miss Lee smothered an ejaculation of surprise.
But we leave the house a little after half-past eight. Then we can
go easy up the hill and have time to walk around on the graveyard a
little and get in church early and watch the people come in.
I'll stop for you and go with you, Phoebe.
Sunday morning at the Metz farm was no time for prolonged slumber.
With the first crowing of roosters Aunt Maria rose. After the early
breakfast there were numerous tasks to be performed before the
departure for the meeting-house. There was the milking to be done and
the cans of milk placed in the cool spring-house; the chickens and
cattle to be fed; each room of the big house to be dusted; vegetables
to be prepared for a hasty boiling after the return from the service;
preserves and canned fruits to be brought from the cellar, placed into
glass dishes and set in readiness.
At eight-fifteen Phoebe was ready. She wore her favorite blue
chambray dress and delighted in the fact that Sunday always brought her
the privilege of wearing her hat. The little sailor hat with its narrow
ribbon and little bow was certainly not the hat she would have chosen
if she might have had that pleasure, but it was the only hat she owned,
so was not to be despised. She felt grateful that Aunt Maria allowed
her to wear a hat. Many little girls, some smaller than she, came to
church every Sunday wearing silk bonnets like their elders!she felt
grateful for her hatany hat!
Tugging at the elastic under her chin, then smoothing her
handkerchief and placing it in her sleeveshe had seen Miss Lee
dispose of a handkerchief in that wayshe walked to the little green
gate and watched the road leading from Greenwald.
Her heart leaped when she saw the teacher come down the long road.
She opened the gate to go to meet her, then suddenly stood still. Miss
Lee as she appeared in the schoolroom, in white linen dress or trim
serge skirt and tailored waist, was attractive enough to cause Phoebe's
heart to flutter with admiration a dozen times a day; but Miss Lee in
Sunday morning church attire was so irresistibly sweet that the vision
sent the little girl's heart pounding and caused a strange shyness to
possess her. The semi-tailored dress of dark blue taffeta, the sheer
white collar, the small black hat with its white wings, the silver coin
purse in the gloved handno detail escaped the keen eyes of the child.
She looked down at her cotton dressit had seemed so pretty just a
moment ago. But, of course, such dresses and gloves and hats were for
grown-ups! But just you wait, she thought, when I grow up I'll look
like that, too, see if I don't!
Miss Lee, smiling, never knew the depths she stirred in the heart of
the little girl.
Am I late, Phoebe?
Ach, no. Just on time. Pop, he went a'ready, though. He goes early
still to open the meeting-house. We'll go right away, as soon as Aunt
Maria locks up. But what for did you bring a pocketbook?
For the offering.
The church offering, Phoebe. Surely you know what that is if you go
to church every Sunday. Don't you have collection plates or baskets
passed about in your church for everybody to put their offerings on
Why, no, we don't have that in our church! What for do they do that
in any church?
To pay the preachers' salaries and
Goodness, Phoebe laughed, it would take a vonderful lot to pay
all the preachers that preach at our church. Sometimes three or four
preach at one meeting. They have to work week-days and get their money
just like other men do. Men come around to the house sometimes for
money for the poor, and when the meeting-house needs a new roof or
something like that, everybody helps to pay for it, but we don't take
no collections in church, like you say. That's a funny way
The appearance of Maria Metz prevented further discussion of church
collections. With a large, fringed shawl pinned over her plain gray
dress and a stiff black silk bonnet tied under her chin, she was ready
for church. She was putting the big iron key of the kitchen door into a
deep pocket of her full skirt as she came down the walk.
That way, now we're ready, she said affably. I guess you're
Phoebe's teacher, ain't? I see you go past still.
Yes. I am very glad to meet you, Miss Metz. It is very kind of you
to invite me to go with you.
Ach, that's nothing. You're welcome enough. We always have much
company when church is on the hill. This is a nice day, so I guess
church will be full. I hope so, anyway, for I got ready for company for
dinner. But how do you like Greenwald?
Very well, indeed. It is beautiful here.
Ain't! But I guess it's different from Phildelphy. I was there
once, in the Centennial, and it was so full everywheres. I like the
country best. Can't anything beat this now, can it?
They reached the summit of the hill and paused.
No, said Miss Lee, this is hard to beat. I love the view from
Ain't nowAunt Maria smiled in approvalthis here is about the
nicest spot around Greenwald. There's the town so plain you could
almost count the houses, only the trees get in the road. And there's
the reservoir with the white fence around, and the farms and the pretty
country around themit's a pretty place.
I like this hill, said Phoebe. When I grow up I'm goin' to have a
farm on this hill, when I'm married, I mean.
That's too far off yet, Phoebe, said her aunt. You must eat bread
and butter yet a while before you think of such things.
Anyhow, I changed my mind. I'm not goin' to live in the country
when I grow up; I'm going to be a fine lady and live in the city.
Phoebe, stop that dumb talk, now! reproved her aunt sternly. You
turn round and walk up the hill. We'll go on now, Miss Lee. Mebbe you'd
like to go on the graveyard a little?
I don't mind.
Then come. Aunt Maria led the way, past the low brick
meeting-house, through the gateway into the old burial ground. They
wandered among the marble slabs and read the inscriptions, some half
obliterated by years of mountain storms, others freshly carved.
The epitaphs are interesting, said Miss Lee.
What's them? asked Phoebe.
The verses on the tombstones. Here is oneshe read the
inscription on the base of a narrow gray stone'After life's fitful
fever she sleeps well.'
Ach, Aunt Maria said tartly, I guess her man knowed why he put
that on. That poor woman had three husbands and eleven children, so I
guess she had fitful fever enough.
Phoebe laughed loud as she saw the smile on the face of her teacher,
but next moment she sobered under the chiding of Aunt Maria. Phoebe,
now you keep quiet! Abody don't laugh and act so on a graveyard!
Ugh, the child said a moment later, Miss Lee, just read this one.
It always gives me shivers when I read it still.
'Remember, man, as you pass by,
What you are now that once was I.
What I am now that you will be;
Prepare for death and follow me.'
That is rather startling, said Miss Lee.
Phoebe smiled and asked, Don't you think this is a pretty
Yes. How well cared for the graves are. Not a weed on most of
Well, Aunt Maria explained, the people who have dead here mostly
take care of the graves. We come up every two weeks or so and sometimes
we bring a hoe and fix our graves up nice and even. But some people are
too lazy to keep the graves clean. I hoed some pig-ears out a few
graves last week; I was ashamed of 'em, even if the graves didn't
belong to us.
In the corner near the road the aunt stopped before a plain gray
Phoebe's mom, she said, pointing to the inscription.
beloved wife of
aged twenty-two years
and one month.
Souls of the righteous
are in the hand of God.
I'm glad, said the child as they stood by her mother's grave,
that they put that last on, for when I come here still I like to know
that my mom ain't under all this dirt but that she's up in the Good
Place like it says there.
Miss Lee clasped the little hand in herswhat words were adequate
to express her feeling for the motherless child!
Come on, Maria Metz said crisply, or we'll be late. But Miss Lee
read in the brusqueness a strong feeling of sorrow for the child.
Silently the three walked through the green aisles of the old
graveyard, Aunt Maria leading the way, alone; Phoebe's hand still in
the hand of her teacher.
To Miss Lee, whose hours of public worship had hitherto been spent
in an Episcopal church in Philadelphia, the extreme plainness of the
meeting-house on the hill brought a sense of acute wonderment. The
contrast was so marked. There, in the city, was the large, high-vaulted
church whose in-streaming light was softened by exquisite stained
windows and revealed each detail of construction and color harmoniously
consistent. Here, in the country, was the square, low-ceilinged
meeting-house through whose open windows the glaring light relentlessly
intensified the whiteness of the walls and revealed more plainly each
flaw and knot in the unpainted pine benches. Yet the meeting-house on
the hill was strangely, strongly representative of the frank, honest,
unpretentious people who worshipped there, and after the first wave of
surprise a feeling of interest and reverence held her.
It was a unique sight for the city girl. The rows of white-capped
women were separated from the rows of bearded men by a low partition
built midway down the body of the church. Each sex entered the
meeting-house through a different door and sat in its apportioned half
of the building. On each side of the room rows of black hooks were set
into the walls. On these hooks the sisters hung their bonnets and the
shawls and the brethren placed their hats and overcoats during the
The preachers, varying in number from two to six, sat before a long
table in the front part of the meeting-house. When the duty of
preaching devolved upon one of them he simply rose from his seat and
delivered his message.
As Aunt Maria and her two followers took their seats on a bench near
the front of the church a preacher rose.
Let us join in singinghas any one a choice?
Miss Lee started as a woman's voice answered, Number one hundred
forty-seven. However, her surprise merged into other emotions as the
old hymn rose in the low-ceilinged room. There was no accompaniment of
any musical instrument, just a harmonious blending of the deep-toned
voices of the brethren with the sweet voices of the sisters. The music
swelled in full, deliberate rhythm, its calm earnestness bearing
witness to the fact that every word of the hymn was uttered in a spirit
Maria Metz sang very softly, but Phoebe's young voice rose clearly
in the familiar words, Jesus, Lover of my soul.
Miss Lee listened a moment to the sweet voice of the child by her
side, then she, too, joined in the singingfeeling the words, as she
had never before felt them, to be the true expression of millions of
mortals who have sung, are singing, and shall continue to sing them.
When the hymn was ended another preacher arose and opened the
service with a few remarks, then asked all to kneel in prayer.
Every onemen, women, childrenturned and knelt upon the bare
floor while the preacher's voice rose in a simple prayer. As the Amen
fell from his lips Miss Lee started to rise, but Phoebe laid a
restraining hand upon her and whispered, There's yet one.
For a moment there was silence in the meeting-house. Then the voice
of another preacher rose in the universal prayer, Our Father, which
art in heaven. Every extemporaneous prayer in the Church of the
Brethren is complemented by the model prayer the Master taught His
There was another hymn, reading of the Scriptures, and then the
sermon proper was preached.
Aunt Maria nodded approvingly as the preacher read, Whose adorning
let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of
wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden
man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament
of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great
You listen good now to what the preacher says, the woman whispered
The child looked Up solemnly at her aunt, about her at the many
white-capped women, then up at Miss Lee's pretty hat with its white
Mercury wingsshe was endeavoring to justify the pleasure and beauty
her aunt pronounced vanity. Was Miss Lee really wicked when she wore
clothes like that? Surely, no! After a few moments the child sighed,
folded her hands and looked steadfastly at the tall bearded man who was
The clergy among these plain sects receive no remuneration for their
preaching. With them the mercenary and the pecuniary are ever distinct
from the religious. Six days in the week the preacher follows the plow
or works at some other worthy occupation; upon the seventh day he
preaches the Gospel. There is, therefore, no elaborate preparation for
the sermon; the preacher has abundant faith in the old admonition,
Take no thought how or what ye shall speak, for it shall be given you
in that same hour what ye shall speak, for it is not ye that speak but
the spirit of the Father that speaketh in you. Thus it is that, while
the sermons usually lack the blandishments of fine rhetoric and the
rhythmic ease arising from oratorical ability, they seldom fail in deep
sincerity and directness of appeal.
The one who delivered the message that September morning told of the
joy of those who have overcome the desire for the vanities of the
world, extolled the virtue of a simple life, till Miss Lee felt
convinced that there must be something real in a religion that could
hold its followers to so simple, wholesome a life.
She looked about, at the serried rows of white-capped womenhow
gentle and calm they appeared in their white caps and plain dresses;
she looked across the partition at the lines of menhow strong and
honest their faces were; and the childrenshe had never before seen so
many children at a church servicewould they all, in time, wear the
garb of their people and enter the church of their parents? The child
at her sidevivacious, untiring, responsive Phoebewould she, too,
wear the plain dress some day and live the quiet life of her people?
The eagerness of the child's face as Miss Lee looked at her denoted
intense interest in the sermon, but none could know the real cause of
I won't, I just won't dress plain! she was thinking. Anyway, not
till I'm old like Aunt Maria. I want to look like Miss Lee when I grow
up. And that preacher just said that it ain't good to plait the hair, I
mean he read it out the Bible. Mebbe now Aunt Maria will leave me have
curls. I hope she heard him say that.
She sighed in relief as the sermon was concluded and the next
preacher rose and added a few remarks. When the third man rose to add
his few remarks Phoebe looked up at Miss Lee and whispered, Guess he's
the last one once!
Miss Lee smiled. The service was rather long, but it was drawing to
a close. There was another prayer, another hymn and the service ended.
Immediately the white-capped women rose and began to bestow upon
each other the holy kiss; upon the opposite side of the church the
brethren greeted each other in like fashion. Everywhere there were
greetings and profferings of dinner invitations.
Maria Metz and her brother did not fail in their duty. In a few
minutes they had invited a goodly number to make the gray farmhouse
their stopping-place. Then Aunt Maria hurried home, eager to prepare
for her guests. Soon the Metz barnyard was filled with carriages and
automobiles and the gray house resounded with happy voices. Some of the
women helped Maria in the kitchen, others wandered about in the
old-fashioned garden, where dahlias, sweet alyssum, marigolds, ladies'
breastpin and snapdragons still bloomed in the bright September
Miss Lee, guided by Phoebe, examined every nook of the big garden,
peered into the deserted wren-house and listened to the child's story
of the six baby wrens reared in the box that summer. Finally Phoebe
suggested sitting on a bench half screened by rose-bushes and
honeysuckle. There, in that green spot, Miss Lee tactfully coaxed the
child to unfold her charming personality, all serenely unconscious of
the fact that inside the gray house the white-capped women were
discussing the new teacher as they prepared the dinner.
She seems vonderful nice and common, volunteered Aunt Maria. Not
stuck up, for a Phildelphy lady.
Well, why should she be stuck up? argued one. Ain't she just
Mollie Stern's cousin? Course, Mollie's nice, but nothing tony.
Anyhow, the children all like her, spoke up another woman. My
Enos learns good this year.
I guess she's all right, said another, but Amande, my sister,
says that she's after her Lizzie all the time for the way she talks.
The teacher tells her all the time not to talk so funny, not to get her
t's and d's and her v's and w's mixed. Goodness knows, them letters is
near enough alike to get them mixed sometimes. I mix them myself. Manda
don't want her Lizzie made high-toned, for then nothing will be good
enough for her any more.
Ach, I guess Miss Lee won't do that, said Aunt Maria. I know I'm
glad the teacher ain't the kind to put on airs. When I heard they put
in a teacher from Phildelphy I was afraid she'd be the kind to teach
the children a lot of dumb notions and that Phoebe would be spoiled
Here, Sister Minnich, is the holder for that pan. I guess the ham is
fried enough. Yes, ain't the chicken smells good! I roasted it
yesterday, so it needs just a good heating to-day.
Shall I take the sweet potatoes off, Maria?
Yes, they're brown enough, and the coffee's about done, and plenty
of it, too.
And it smells good, too, chorused several women.
It's just twenty-eight cent coffee; I get it in Greenwald. I guess
the things can be put out now. Call the men, Susan.
In quick order the long table in the dining-roomused only upon
occasions like thiswas filled with smoking, savory dishes, the men
called from the porches and yard and everybody, except the two women
who helped Aunt Maria to serve, seated about the board. All heads were
bowed while one of the brethren said a long grace and then the feast
True to the standards set by the majority of the Pennsylvania Dutch,
the meal was fit for the finest. There was no attempt to serve it
according to the rules of the latest book of etiquette. All the food
was placed upon the table and each one helped herself and himself and
passed the dish to the nearest neighbor. Occasionally the services of
the three women were required to bring in water, bread or coffee, or to
replenish the dishes and platters. Everybody was in good humor,
especially when one of the brethren suddenly found himself with a
platter of chicken in one hand and a pitcher of gravy in the other.
Hold on, here! he said laughingly, it's coming both ways. I can't
Now, Isaac, chided one of the women, you went and started the
gravy the wrong way around. And here, Elam, start that apple-butter
round once. Maria always has such good apple-butter.
Miss Lee's ready adaptability proved a valuable asset that day.
Everybody was so cordial and friendly that, although she was the only
woman without the white cap, there was no shadow of any
holier-than-thou spirit. She was accepted as a friend; as a lady from
Philadelphia she became invested with a charm and interest which the
frank country people did not try to conceal. They spoke freely to her
of her work in the school, inquired about the children and listened
with interest as she answered their questions about her home city.
When the dinner was ended heads were bowed again and thanks rendered
to God for the blessings received. Then the men went outdoors, where
the beehives, poultry houses, barns and orchards of the farm afforded
several hours of inspection and discussion.
Indoors some of the women began to wash dishes while Aunt Maria and
her helpers ate their belated dinner; others went to the sitting-room
and entertained themselves by rocking and talking or looking at the
pictures in the big red plush album which lay upon a small table.
Later, when everything was once more in order in the big kitchen,
Maria stood in the doorway of the sitting-room.
Now, she said, I guess we better go up-stairs and see the rugs
before the men come in. Susan said she wants to see my new rugs once
when she comes. So come on, everybody that wants to.
You come, Phoebe invited Miss Lee. I'll show you some of the
things in my chest.
Maria led the way to the spare-room on the second floor, a large
square room furnished in old-fashioned country style: a rag carpet, rag
rugs, heavy black walnut bureau and wash-stand, the latter with an
antique bowl and pitcher of pink and white, and a splasher of white
linen outlined in turkey red cotton. A framed cross-stitch sampler hung
on the wall; four cane-seated chairs and a great wooden chest completed
the furnishing of the room.
The chest became the centre of attraction as Aunt Maria opened it
and began to show the hooked rugs she had made.
Phoebe waited until her teacher had seen and admired several, then
she tugged at the silk sleeve ever so gently and whispered, D'ye want
to see some of the things I made?
Miss Lee smiled and nodded and the two stole away to the child's
Phoebe closed the door.
This is my room and this is my Hope Chest, she said proudly.
Among many of the Pennsylvania Dutch the Hope Chest has long been
considered an important part of a girl's belongings. During her early
childhood a large chest is secured and the stocking of it becomes a
pleasant duty. Into it are laid the girl's discarded infant clothes;
patchwork quilts and comfortables pieced by herself or by some fond
grandmother or mother or aunt; homespun sheets and towels that have
been handed down from other generations; ginghams, linens and minor
household articles that might be useful in her own home. When the girl
leaves the old nest for one of her own building the Hope Chest goes
with her as a valuable portion of her dowry.
Hope Chest, echoed Miss Lee. Do you have a Hope Chest?
Ach, yes, long already! Aunt Maria says it's for when I grow up and
get married and live in my own home, but Iwhy, I don't know at all
yet if I want to get married. When I say that to her she says still
that I can be glad I have the chest anyhow, for old maids need covers
and aprons and things too.
You dear child, Miss Lee said, laughing, you do say the funniest
ButPhoebe raised her flushed faceyou ain't laughing at me to
Oh, Phoebe, I love you too much for that. It's just that you are
Ach, but I'm glad! And that's why I want to show you my things.
She opened the lid of her chest and brought out a quilt, then
another, and another.
This is all mine. And I finished another one this summer that Aunt
Maria is going to quilt this fall yet. Then I'll have nine already.
Ain'tisn't that a lot?
Yes, indeed, laughed the teacher. Just nine more than I have.
WhyPhoebe stared in surprisedon't you have quilts in your
I haven't even the Hope Chest.
No Hope Chest! Now, that's funny! I thought every girl that could
have a chest for the money had a Hope Chest!
I never heard of a Hope Chest before I came to Greenwald.
Now don't it beat all! The child was very serious. We ain't at
all like other people, I believe. I wonder why we are so different from
you people. Oh, I know we talk different from you, and mostly look
different from you and I guess we do things a lot different from
youdo you think, Miss Lee, oh, do you think that I could ever
get like you?
Yes Miss Lee showed hesitancy.
For sure? Phoebe asked, quick to note the slight delay in the
Yes, I am sure you could, dear. You can learn to dress, speak and
act as people do in the great citiesbut are you sure that you want to
Want to! Why, I want to so bad that it hurts! I don't want to just
go to country school and Greenwald High School and then live on a farm
all the rest of my life and never get anywhere but to the store in
Greenwald, to Lancaster several times a year, and to church every
Sunday. I want to do some things other people in the other parts of the
country do, that's what I want. I'd like best of all to be a great
singer and to look and dress and talk like you. I can sing good, pop
says I can.
I have noticed you have a sweet voice.
Ain't! The child's voice rang with gladness. I'm so glad I have.
And David, he's glad too, for he says that he thinks it's a gift from
God to have a voice that can sing as nice as the birds. David and
Phares are just like my brothers. David's mom is awful nice. I like
hershe whisperedI like her almost better than my Aunt Maria
because she's soach, you know what I mean! She's so much like my own
mom would be. I like David better than Phares, too, because Phares
bosses me too much and he is wonderful strict and thinks everything is
bad or foolish. He preaches a lot. He says it's bad to be a big singer
and sing for the people and get money for it, in oprays, he meansis
Miss Lee was startled by the ambition of the child before her and
amazed at the determination revealed in her young pupil. Before she
could answer wisely Phoebe went on:
Now David says still I could be a big opray singer some day mebbe,
and he don't think it's bad. I think still that singin' is about
like havin' curlsif God don't want you to use your singin' and your
curls what did He give 'em to you for?
Much to the teacher's relief she was spared the difficulty of
answering the child. The aunt was bringing the visitors to Phoebe's
Come in and see my things, Phoebe invited cordially, as though
curls and operatic careers had never troubled her. In the excitement of
displaying her quilts she apparently forgot the vital problems she had
so lately discussed. But Miss Lee made a mental comment as she stood
apart and watched the child among the white-capped women, That little
girl will do things before she settles into the simple, monotonous life
these women lead.
CHAPTER VI. THE PRIMA DONNA OF THE
AUNT MARIA, dare I go without sewing just this one Saturday?
It was Saturday afternoon in early October. All the week-end work of
the farmhouse was done: the walks and porches scrubbed, the entire
house cleaned, the shelves in the cellar filled with pies and cakes.
Maria Metz stood by the wooden frame in which she had sewed Phoebe's
latest quilt and chalked lines and half-moons upon the calico,
preliminary to the actual work of quilting.
Phoebe's face was eloquent as her aunt turned and looked down.
Why? asked the woman calmly.
Ach, because it's my birthday, eleven I am to-day. And pop's going
to bring me new hair-ribbons from Greenwald, pretty blue ones, I asked
him to bring, and nice and wideshe opened her hands in imaginary
picturing of the width of the new ribbonsbut most of all, she
hastened to add as she saw an expression of displeasure on her aunt's
face, I'd like to have a party all to myself. I thought that so long
as you're going to have women in to help you quilt, and that is like a
party, only you don't call it so, why I could have a party for me
alone. I'd like to play all afternoon instead of sewing first like I do
still. Dare I, I mean may I?in conscientious endeavor to speak as
Miss Lee was trying to teach her.
Maria Metz smiled at the little girl's idea of a party, and after a
moment's hesitation replied, Ach, yes well, Phoebe, I don't care.
In the garret, oh, dare I go in the garret and play? she asked
Yes, I guess. If you put everything away nice when you are done
She started off gleefully.
And be careful of the steps. I'm always afraid you'll fall down
when you go up there, the steps are so narrow.
Ach, I won't fall. I'll be careful. I'll play a while and then
shall I help to quilt? she offered magnanimously in return for the
privilege of playing in the garret.
No, I don't need you. But you can quilt nice, too. The last time
you took littler stitches than Lizzie from the Home, but she don't see
so good. But you needn't help to-day, for so many can't get round the
frame good. Phares's mom and David's mom and Lyddy and Granny
Hogendobler and Susan are comin', and that's enough for one quilt. You
In a moment Phoebe was off, up the broad stairs to the second floor.
There she paused for breathOh, it's like going to a castle somewhere
in a strange country, goin' to the garret! I'm always a little scared
at first, goin' to the garret.
With a laugh she turned into a small room, opened a latched door,
closed it securely behind her, and stood upon the lower step of the
attic stairs. She looked about a moment. Above her were the stained
rafters of the attic, where a dim light invested it with a strange,
half fearful interest.
Ach, now, don't be a baby, she admonished herself. Go right up
the stairs. You're a queenno, I know!You're a primer donner going
up the platform steps to sing!
With that helpful delusion she started bravely up the stairs and
never paused until she reached the top step. She ran to a small window
and threw it wide open so that the October sunshine could stream in and
make the place less ghostly.
Now it's fine up here, she cried. And I dareI maytalk to
myself all I want. Aunt Maria says it's simple to talk to yourself, but
goodness, when abody has no other boys or girls to talk to half the
time like I don't, what else can abody do but talk to your own self?
Anyhow, I'm up here now and dare talk out loud all I want. I'll hunt
first for robbers.
She ran about the big attic, peered behind every old trunk and box,
even inside an old yellow cupboard, though she knew it was filled with
old school-books and older hymn-books.
Not a robber here, less he's back under the eaves.
She crept into the low nook under the slanting roof but found
nothing more exciting than a spider. Huh, it's no fun hunting for
robbers. Guess I'll spin a while.
With quick variability she drew a low stool near an old
spinning-wheel, placed her foot on the slender treadle and twisted the
golden flax in imitation of the way Aunt Maria had once taught her.
I'll weave a new dress for myselfoh, goody! she cried, springing
from the stool. Now I know what I'll do! I'll dress up in the old
clothes in that old trunk! That'll be the very best party I can have.
She skipped to a far corner of the attic, where a long,
leather-covered trunk stood among some boxes. In a moment the clasps
were unfastened, the lid raised, a protecting cloth lifted from the top
and the contents of the trunk exposed.
The child, kneeling before the trunk, clasped her hands and uttered
an ecstatic, Oh, I'll be a primer donner now! I remember there used to
be a wonderful fine dress in here somewhere.
With childish feverishness, yet with tenderness and reverence for
the relics of a long dead past, she lifted the old garments from the
The baby clothes my mom woremy mother, Miss Lee always says, and
I like that name better, too. My, but they're little! Such tweeny,
weeny sleeves! I wonder how a baby ever got into anything so tiny. I
bet she was cunningMiss Lee says babies are cunning. And here's the
dress and cap and a pair of white woolen stockings I wore. Aunt Maria
told me so the last time we cleaned house and I helped to carry all
these things down-stairs and hang them out in the air so they don't
spoil here in the trunk all locked up tight. I wish I could see how I
looked when I wore these things. I wonder if I was a nice babybut,
ach, all babies are nice. I could squeeze every one I see, only when
they're not clean I'd want to wash 'em first. And here's my
mommother's wedding dress, a gray silk one. Ain't it too bad, now,
it's going in holes! And this satin jacket Aunt Maria said my grandpap
wore at his wedding; it has a silver buckle at the neck in front. And
next comes the dress I like. It was my mother's mother's, and it's
awful old. But I think it's fine, with the little pink rosebuds and the
lace shawl round the neck and the long skirt. That's the dress I must
wear now to play I'm a primer donner.
She held out the old-fashioned pink-sprigged muslin, yellowed with
age, yet possessing the charm of old, well-preserved garments. The
short, puffed sleeves, lace fichu and full, puffed skirt proclaimed it
of a bygone generation.
It's pretty, the child exulted as she shook out the soft folds.
Guess I can slip it on over my other dress, it's plenty big. It must
button in the front, for that's the way the lace shawl goes. Umit's
longshe looked down as she fastened the last little button. Oh, I
know! I'll tuck it up in the front and leave the long back for a trail!
How's that, I wonder.
She unearthed an old mirror, hung it on a nail in the wall and
surveyed herself in the glass.
Um, I don't look so badbut my hair ain't right. I don't know how
primer donners wear their hair, but I know they don't wear it in two
plaits like mine.
She pulled the narrow brown ribbons from her braids, opened the
braids and shook her head vigorously until her curls tumbled about her
head and over her shoulders. Then she knotted the two ribbons together
and bound them across her hair in a fillet, tying them in a bow under
her flowing curls.
Now, I guess it's as good as I can fix it. I wish Miss Lee could
see me now. I wish most of all my mommother could see me. Mebbe she'd
say, 'Precious child,' like they say in stories, and then I'd say back,
'Mother dear, mother dear'she lingered over the words'Mother
dear.' But mebbe she is saying that to me right now, seeing it's my
birthday. I'll make believe so, anyhow.
She was silent for a moment, a puzzled expression on her face.
I just don't see, she spoke aloud suddenly, I don't see why I
shouldn't make believe I have a mother, just adopt one like people do
children sometimes. Aunt Maria says it's a risk to adopt some one's
child, but I don't see that it would be a risk to adopt a mother. Let
me see nowof all the women I know, who do I want to adopt? Not Mary
Warner's momshe's stylish and wears nice dresses, but I don't think
I'd like her to keep. Not Granny Hogendobler, though she's nice and I
like her a lot, a whole lot, and I wish her Nason would come back, but
I don't see how I could take her for my mother; she's too old and she
don't wear a white cap and my mother did, so I must take one that does.
I don't want Phares's mom, either. Now, David's mom I likeyes, I like
her. Most everybody calls her Aunty Bab and I'm just goin' to ask her
if I dare call her Mother Bab! Mother BabI like that vonderful much!
And I like her. When we go over to her house she's so nice and talks to
me kind and the last time I was there she kissed me and said what
pretty hair I got. Yes, I want David's mom for mine. I guess he won't
care. He always gives me apples and chestnuts and things and he shows
me birds' nests and I think he'll leave me have his mom, so long as he
can have her too. I'll ask him once when I see him. I wonder who's
goin' on the road to Greenwald.
She gathered up her long skirt and stepped grandly across the bare
floor of the attic. As she stood by the window a boyish whistle floated
up to her. She leaned over the narrow sill and peered through the
evergreen trees at the road.
That's David now, I bet! Sounds like his whistle. Oo-oo, David,
she called as the boy came swinging down the road.
Hello, Phoebe. Where you at?
He turned in at the gate and looked around.
Whew, he whistled as he glanced up and saw her at the little
window of the attic. What you doing up there?
Playin' primer donner. I just look something grand. Wait, I'll come
Sure, come on down and let me see you. I'm going to hang around a
while. Mom's here quilting, ain't she?
Sh! Phoebe raised a warning finger, then placed her hands to her
mouth to shut the sound of her voice from the people in the gray house.
You sneak round to the kitchen door, to the back one, so they can't
hear you, and I'll come down. Aunt Maria mightn't like my hair and
dress, and I don't want to make her cross on my birthday. Be careful,
don't make no noise.
Ha, laughed the boy. Bet you're sneaking things, you little
Phoebe lifted her finger, shook her head, then smiled and turned
from the window. She tiptoed down the dark attic stairs, then down the
narrow back stairs to the kitchen and slipped quietly to the little
porch at the very rear of the house.
Gee whiz! exclaimed David. You're a swell in that dress!
Ain't II mean am Iach, David, it's hard sometimes to talk like
Miss Lee says we should.
Where'd you get the dress, Phoebe?
Up in the garret. Aunt Maria said I dare go up and play 'cause it's
Hold on, that's just what I came for, to pull your ears.
No you don't, she said crossly. No you don't, David Eby, pull my
ears. She clapped a hand upon each ear.
Then I'll pull a curl, he said and suited the action to the word.
He took one of the long light curls and pulled it gently, yet with a
brusque show of savagery and strengthOne, two, three, four, five,
six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, and one to make you grow. Now who
says I can't celebrate your birthday!
You're mean, awful mean, David Eby! She tossed her head in anger.
But a moment later she relented as she saw him smile. Ach, she said
in friendly tone, I don't care if you pull my curls. It didn't hurt
anyhow. You can't do it again for a whole year. But don't you think I
look like a primer donner, David?
Oh, say it right! How can you expect to ever be what you can't
pronounce? It's pri-ma-don-na.
Pri-ma-don-na, she repeated, shaking her curls at every syllable.
Do I look like a prima donna?
Yes, all but your face.
My facewhyshe falteredwhat's wrong with my face? Ain't it
pretty enough to be a prima donna?
Funny kid, he laughed. Your face is good enough for a prima
donna, but to be a real prima donna you must fix it up with cold cream,
paint and powder.
Powder! she echoed in amazement. Not the kind you put in guns?
Gee, no! It's white stufflooks like flour; mebbe it is flour
fixed up with perfume. Mary Warner had some at school last week and
showed some of the girls at recess how to put it on. I was behind a
tree and saw them but they didn't see me.
I thought some of the girls looked paleso that was what made them
look so white! But how do you know all about fixing up to be a prima
donna? Where did you learn? She looked at him admiringly, justly
appreciating his superior knowledge.
Oh, when I had the mumps last winter I used to read the papers
every day, clean through. There was a column called the 'Hints to
Beauty' column, and sometimes I read it just for fun, it was so funny.
It told about fixing up the face and mentioned a famous singer and some
other people who always looked beautiful because they knew how to fix
their faces to keep looking young. But I wouldn't like to see any one I
like fix their faces like it said, for all that stuff
But do you think all prima donnas put such things on their faces?
she interrupted him.
What was it, Davie?
Cold cream, paint, powderhere, where are you going? he asked as
she started for the door.
I'll be out in a minute; you wait here for me.
Cold cream, paint, powder, she repeated as she closed the door and
left David outside. Cream's all in the cellar. She took a pewter
tablespoon from a drawer, opened a latched door in the kitchen and went
noiselessly down the steps to the cellar. There she lifted the lid from
a large earthen jar, dipped a spoonful of thick cream from the jar, and
began to rub it on her cheeks.
That's cold cream, anyhow, she said to herself. It
certainly is cold. Ach, I don't like the feel of it on my face; it's
too sticky and wet. But she rubbed valiantly until the spoonful was
used and her face glowed.
Now paint, red paintI don't dare use the kind you put on houses,
for that's too hard to get off; let's seeI guess red-beet juice will
She stooped to the cool, earthen floor, lifted the cover from a
crock of pickled beets, dipped the spoon into the juice and began to
rub the colored liquid upon her glowing cheeks.
If I only had a looking-glass, then I could see just where to put
it on. But I don't dare to carry the juice up the steps, for if I
spilled some just after Aunt Maria has them scrubbed for Sunday she'd
She applied the red juice by guesswork, with the inevitable result
that her ears, chin, and nose were stained as deeply as her cheeks.
Now the powder, then I'm through.
She tiptoed up to the kitchen again, took a handful of flour from
the bin and rubbed it upon her face.
Ugh, um, she sputtered, as some of the flour flew into her eyes
and nostrils. I guess that was too thick! Then she knelt on a chair
and looked into the small mirror that hung in the kitchen. She
exclaimed in horror and disappointment at the vision that met her gaze.
Why, I don't like that! I look awful! I'll rub off some of the
flour. I have blotches all over my face. Do all prima donnas look this
way, I wonder. But David knows, I guess. I'll ask him if I did it
She grabbed one end of the kitchen towel and disposed of some of the
superfluous flour, then, still doubtful of her appearance, opened the
door to the porch where the boy waited for her.
Do I look she began, but David burst into hilarious laughter.
Oh, oh, he held his sides and laughed. Oh, your face
Don't you laugh at me, David Eby! Don't you dare laugh!
She was deeply hurt at his unseemly behavior, but the deluge was
only beginning! The sound of David's laughter and Phoebe's raised voice
reached the front room where the quilting party was in progress.
Sounds like somebody on the back porch, said Aunt Maria. Guess I
better go and see. With so many tramps around always abody can't be too
The sight that met Maria Metz's eyes as she opened the back door
left her speechless. Phoebe turned and the two looked at each other in
silence for a few long moments.
Don't scold her, David said, sobered by the sudden appearance of
the woman and frightened for PhoebeAunt Maria could be stern, he
knew. Don't scold her. I told her to do it.
You did not, David; don't you tell lies for me! You just told me
how to do it and I went and done it myself. I'm playing prima donna,
Aunt Maria, she explained, though she knew it was a futile attempt at
justification. I'm playing I'm a big singer, so I had to fix up in
this dress and put my hair down this way and fix my face.
Great singermarch in here! The woman had fully regained her
voice. It's a bad girl you are! To think of your making such a monkey
of yourself when I leave you go up in the garret to play! This ends
playing in the garret. Next Saturday you sew! Ach, yes, you just come
in, she commanded, for Phoebe hung back as they entered the house.
You come right in here and let all the women see how nice you play
when I leave you go up in the garret instead of make you sew. This
here's the tramp I found, she announced as she led her into the room
where the women sat around the quilting frame and quilted.
What! several of them exclaimed as they turned from their sewing
and looked at the child. Granny Hogendobler and David Eby's mother,
What's on your face? asked one woman sternly.
Phoebe hung her head, abashed.
That's how nice she plays when I leave her go up on the garret and
have a nice time instead of making her sew like she always has to
Saturdays, Aunt Maria said in sharp tones which told the child all too
plainly of the displeasure she had caused.
I didn't mean, Phoebe looked up contritely, I didn't mean to be
bad and make you cross. I was just playing I was a big singer and I put
cold cream and paint and powder on my face
The shrill staccato words of the women set the child trembling.
Butbut, she faltered, it'll all wash off. She gave a
convincing nod of her head and rubbed a hand ruefully across the
grotesquely decorated cheek. It's just cream and red-beet juice and
Did I ever! exclaimed the mother of Phares Eby.
I-to-goodness! laughed Granny Hogendobler.
Vanity, vanity, all is vanity, quoted one of the other women.
Come here, Phoebe, said the mother of David Eby, and that woman, a
thin, alert little person with tender, kindly eyes, drew the unhappy
little girl to her. You poor, precious child, she said, it's a shame
for us all to sit here and look at you as if we wanted to eat you.
You've just been playing, haven't you? She turned to the other women.
Why, Maria, Susan, I remember just as well as if it were only
yesterday how we used to rub our cheeks with rough mullein leaves to
make them red for Love Feast, don't you remember?
Aunt Maria's cheeks grew pink. Ach, Barbara, mebbe we did that when
we were young and foolish, but we didn't act like this.
Not much different, I guess, said Phoebe's champion with a smile.
Only we forget it now. Phoebe is just like we were once and she'll get
over it like we did. Let her play; she'll soon be too old to want to
play or to know how. She ain't a bad child, just full of life and likes
to do things other people don't think of doing.
She, surely does, said Aunt Maria curtly, ill pleased by the
woman's words. Where that child gets all her notions from I'd like to
know. It's something new every day.
She'll be all right when she gets older, said David's mother.
Be sure, yes, agreed Granny Hogendobler; it don't do to be too
Mebbe so, said the other women, with various shades of
understanding in their words.
Phoebe looked gratefully into the face of Granny Hogendobler, then
she turned to David's mother and spoke to her as though there were no
others present in the room.
You know, don't you, how little girls like to play? You called me
precious child just like she would
She would, repeated Aunt Maria. What do you mean?
I mean my mother, she explained and turned again to her champion.
I was just thinking this after on the garret that I'd like you for my
mother, to adopt you for it like people do with children when they have
none and want some. I hear lots of people call you Aunty Babdare I
call you Mother Bab?
The woman laid a hand on the child's tumbled hair. Her voice
trembled as she answered, Yes, Phoebe, you can call me Mother Bab. I
have no little girl so you may fill that place. Now ask Aunt Maria if
you should wash your face and get fixed right again.
Shall I, Aunt Maria?
Yes. Go get cleaned up. Fold all them clothes right and put 'em in
the trunk and put your hair in two plaits again. If you're big enough
to do such dumb things you're big enough to comb your hair. And Aunt
Maria, peeved and hurt at the child's behavior, went back to her
quilting while Phoebe hurried from the room alone.
The child scrubbed the three layers of decoration from her face,
trudged up the stairs to the attic, took off the rose-sprigged gown and
folded it awaya disconsolate, disillusioned prima donna.
When the attic was once more restored to its orderliness she closed
the window and went down-stairs to wrestle with her curls. They were
tangled, but ordinarily she would have been able to braid them into
some semblance of neatness, but the trying experience of the past
moments, the joy of gaining an adopted mother, set her fingers
Ach, I can't, I just can't make two braids! she said at length,
ready to burst into tears.
Then she remembered David. Mebbe he's on the porch yet. I'll go see
With the narrow brown ribbons streaming from her hand and a
hair-brush tucked under one arm she ran down the stairs. She found
David, for once a gloomy figure, on the back porch, just where she had
David, she said softly, will you help me?
Whyhis face brightened as he looked at heryou ain'the
started to say cryingyou ain't mad at me for getting you into
trouble with Aunt Maria?
Ach, no. And I ain't never going to be mad at you now for I just
adopted your mom for my mommother. She's going to be my Mother Bab;
she said so.
He knitted his forehead in a puzzled frown. Phoebe explained how
kind his mother had been, how she understood what little girls like to
do, how she had promised to be Mother Bab.
You don't care, Davie, you ain't jealous? she ended anxiously.
Sure not, he assured her; I think it's kinda nice, for she thinks
you're a dandy. But did they haul you over the coals in there?
Yes, a little, all but Granny Hogendobler and your momMother Bab,
I mean. Isn't it funny to get a mother when you didn't have one for so
But, David, will you help me? I can't fix my hair and Aunt Maria is
so mad at me she said I can just fix it myself. The plaits won't come
right at all. Will you help me, please? She asserted her femininity by
adding new sweetness to her voice as she asked the uncommon favor.
Whyhe hesitated, then looked about to see if any one were near
to witness what he was about to doI don't know if I can. I never
braided hair, but I guess I can.
Be sure you can, David. You braid it just like we braid the daisy
stems and the dandelion stems in the fields. You're so handy with them,
you can do most anything, I guess.
Spurred by her appreciation of his ability he took the brush and
began to brush the tangled hair as she sat on the porch at his feet.
Gee, he exclaimed as the hair sprang into curls when the brush
left it, your hair's just like gold!
And it's curly, she added proudly.
Sure is. Wouldn't Phares look if he saw it! I told him your hair is
prettier than Mary Warner's and he said I was silly to talk about
I don't want him to see it this way, she said, for he'd say it's
a sin to have curly, pretty hair, even if God made it grow that way!
He's awful queer! I wouldn't want him for my adopted brother.
Guess he'd keep you hopping, laughed David.
Guess I'd keep him hopping, too, retorted Phoebe, at which the boy
Now what do I do? he asked when all the hair was untangled.
Part it in the middle and make two plaits.
The boy's clumsy fingers fumbled long with the parting; several
times the braids twisted and had to be undone, but after a struggle he
was able to announce, There now, you're fixed! Now you're Phoebe Metz,
no more prima donna!
Thanks, David, for helping me. I feel much better around the
headguess curls would be a nuisance after all.
CHAPTER VII. WHERE THE BROOK AND
WHEN Phoebe adopted Mother Bab she did so with the whole-heartedness
and finality characteristic of her blood.
Mother Babthe name never ceased to thrill the erstwhile motherless
girl whose yearning for affection and understanding had been
unsatisfied by the matter-of-fact Aunt Maria.
At first Maria Metz did not seem too well pleased with the child's
persistent naming of Barbara Eby as Mother Bab; but gradually, as she
saw Phoebe's joy in the adoption, the woman acknowledged to herself
that another woman was capable of mothering where she had failed.
Phoebe spent many hours in the little house on the hill, learning
from Mother Bab many things that made indelible impressions upon her
sensitive child-heart, unraveling some of the tangled knots of her
soul, stirring anew hopes and aspirations of her being. But there
remained one knot to be untangledshe could not understand why the
plain dress and white cap existed, she could not reconcile the utter
simplicity of dress with the lavish beauty of the birds, flowersall
It will come, Mother Bab assured her one day. You are a little
girl now and cannot see into everything. But when you are older you
will see how beautiful it is to live simply and plainly.
But is it necessary, Mother Bab? the child cried out. Must I
dress like you and Aunt Maria if I want to be good?
No, you don't have to. Many people are good without wearing
the plain garb. A great many people in the world never heard of the
plain sects we have in this section of the country, and there are good
people everywhere, I'm sure of that. But it is just as true that each
person must find the best way to lead a good life. If you can wear fine
clothes and still be good and lead a Christian life, then there is no
harm in the pretty clothes. But for me the easiest way to be living
right is to live as simply as I can. This is the way for me.
I'm afraid it's the way for me, too, confessed Phoebe. I'm vain,
awfully vain! I love pretty clothes and I'll never be satisfied till I
get 'emsilk dresses, soft, shiny satin onesach, I guess I'm vain
but I'll have to wait to satisfy my vanity till I'm older, for Aunt
Maria is so set against fancy clothes.
It was true, Maria Metz compromised on some matters as Phoebe grew
older, but on the question of clothes the older woman was adamant. The
child should have comfortable dresses but there would positively be no
useless ornaments or adornments, such as wide sashes, abundance of
laces, elaborately trimmed ruffles. Fancy hats, jewelry and unconfined
curls were also strictly forbidden.
Though Phoebe, even as she grew older, had much time to spend
outdoors, there were many tasks about the house and farm she had to
perform. The chest was soon filled with quilts and that bugbear was
gone from her life. But there was continual scrubbing, baking, mending,
and other household tasks to be done, so that much practice caused the
girl to develop into a capable little housekeeper. Aunt Maria frankly
admitted that Phoebe worked cheerfully and well, a matter she found
consoling in the trying hours when Phoebe wasted time by playing the
low walnut organ in the sitting-room.
During Miss Lee's first term of teaching on the hill she taught her
how to play simple exercises and songs and the child, musically
inclined, made the most of the meagre knowledge and adeptly improved
until she was able to play the hymns in the Gospel Hymn Book and the
songs and carols in the old Music Book that had belonged to her mother
and always rested on the top of the old low organ.
So the organ became a great solace and joy, an outlet for the
intense feelings of desire and hope in her heart. When her voice joined
with the sweet tones of the old instrument it seemed to Phoebe as if
she were echoing the harmony of the eternal music of all creation.
Child though she was, she sang with the joy and sincerity of the true
musician. She merely smiled when Aunt Maria characterized her best
efforts as doodling and rejoiced when her father, Mother Bab or David
praised her singing.
In school she progressed rapidly but her interest lagged when, after
two years of teaching, Miss Lee resigned her position as teacher of the
school on the hill and a new teacher took command. The entire school
missed the teacher from Philadelphia, but Phoebe was almost
inconsolable. She, especially, appreciated the gain of contact with the
teacher she loved and she continued to profit by the remembrance of
many things Miss Lee had taught her. The Memory Gems, alone, bore
evidence of the change the teacher from the city had wrought in the
rural school. Phoebe smiled as she thought how the poems had been
sing-songed until Miss Lee taught the children to bring out the meaning
of the words.
Oh, my, she laughed one day as she and David were speaking of
school happenings, do you remember how John Schneider used to say
Memory Gems? The day he got up and said,
David laughed at the girl's droll imitation, the way she sing-songed
the verse in the exact manner prevalent in many rural schools.
And do you remember, he asked, the day Isaac Hunchberger defined
Oh, yes! I'll never forget that! It was the day the County
Superintendent of Schools came to visit our school and Miss Lee was
anxious to have us show off. Isaac showed off, all right, with his
'Bipets are sings vis two lex!' I guess Miss Lee decided that day that
the Pennsylvania Dutch is ingrained in our English and hard to get
To Phoebe each Memory Gem of her school days became, in truth, a gem
stored away for future years. Long after she had outgrown the little
rural school scraps of poetry returned to her to rewaken the enthusiasm
of childhood and to teach her again to hear the lark within the
songless egg and find the fountain where they wailed, 'Mirage!'
Phoebe wanted so many things in those school-day years but she
wanted most of all to become like Miss Lee. So earnestly did she try to
speak as her teacher taught her that after a time the peculiar idioms
and expressions became more infrequent and there was only a
delightfully quaint inflection, an occasional phrase, to betray her
Pennsylvania Dutch parentage. But in times of stress or excitement she
invariably slipped back into the old way and prefaced her exclamations
with an expressive Ach!
Life on the Metz farm went on in even tenor year in and year out.
Maria Metz never changed to any appreciable extent her mode of living
or her methods of working, and she tried to teach Phoebe to conform to
the same monotonous existence and live as several generations of Metzes
had done. But Phoebe was a veritable Evelyn Hope, made of spirit, fire
and dew. The distinctiveness of her personality grew more pronounced
as she slipped from childhood into girlhood and Maria Metz needed often
to encourage her own heart for the task of rearing into ideal womanhood
the daughter of her brother Jacob.
Phoebe had a deep love for nature and this love was fostered by her
sturdy farmer-father. As she followed him about the fields he taught
her the names of wild flowers, told her the nesting haunts of birds,
initiated her into the circle of tree-lore, taught her to keep ears,
eyes and heart open for the treasures of the great outdoors.
Phoebe required no urging in that direction. Her heart was filled
with an insatiable desire to know more and more of the beautiful world
about her. She gathered knowledge from every country walk; she showed
so much uncommon sense, David Eby said, that it was a keen pleasure
to show her the nests of the thrush or the rare nests of the
humming-bird. David and his mother, enthusiastic seekers after nature
knowledge, augmented the father's nature education of Phoebe by
frequent walks to field and woods. And so, when Phoebe was twelve years
old she knew the haunts of all the wild flowers within walking distance
of her home. With her father or with David and Mother Bab she found the
first marsh-marigolds in the meadows, the first violets of the wooded
slope of the hill, the earliest hepatica with its woolly buds, the
first windflowers and spring beauties. She knew when the time was come
for the bloodroot to lift its pure white petals about the golden hearts
in the spot where the rich mould at the base of some giant tree
nurtured the blooded plants. She could find the canopied
Jack-in-the-pulpit and the pink azalea on the hill near her home. She
knew the exact spot, a mile from the gray farmhouse, where, in a lovely
little wood by a quiet road, a profusion of bird-foot violets and
bluets made a carpet of blue loveliness each springso on, through the
fleet days of summer, till the last asters and goldenrod faded, the
child reveled in the beauties and wonders of the world at her feet and
loved every part of it, from the tiny blue speedwell in the grass to
the gorgeous orioles in the trees. What if Aunt Maria sometimes scolded
her for bringing so many weeds into the house! With apparent
unconcern she placed her flowers in a glass or earthen jar and secretly
thought, Well, I'm glad I like these pretty things; they are not weeds
The buoyancy of childhood tarried with her into girlhood. Like the
old inscription of the sun-dial, she seemed to count none but sunny
hours. But those who knew her best saw that the shadows of life also
left their marks upon her. At times the gaiety was displaced by
seriousness. Mother Bab knew of the struggles in the girl's heart.
Granny Hogendobler could have told of the hours Phoebe spent with her
consoling her for the absence of Nason, mitigating the cruel stabs of
the thoughtless people who condemned him, comforting with the assurance
that he would return to his home some day. Old Aaron loved the girl and
found her always ready to listen to his hackneyed story of the battle
Phoebe was a student in the Greenwald High School when the war
clouds broke over Europe and the world seemed to go mad in a whirl. She
hurried to Old Aaron for his opinion on the terrible war.
Isn't it awful, she said to him, that so many nations are flying
at each other's throats? And in these days of our boasted
Awful, he agreed. But, mark my words, this is just the beginning.
Before the thing's settled we'll be in it too.
She shrank from the words. Oh, no, not America! That would be too
terrible. David might go then, and a lot of Greenwald boysoh, that
would be awful!
Yes! But it would be far more dreadful to have them sit back safe
while others died for the freedom of the world. I'd rather have my boy
a soldier at a time like this than have him be ruler of a country.
The old man's words ended quaveringly. The pent-up agony of his
disappointment in his son surged over him, and he bowed his head in his
hands and wept.
Phoebe sent Granny to comfort him, and then stole away. The
veteran's grief left an impression upon her. Were his words prophetic?
Would America be drawn into the struggle? It was preposterous to dream
of that. She would forget the words of Old Aaron, for she had important
matters of her own to think about. In a few years she would be
graduated from High School and then she would have her own life-work to
decide upon. Her desire for larger experience, her determination to do
something of importance after graduation was her chief interest. The
war across the sea was too remote to bring constant fear to her.
Dutifully she went about her work on the farm and pursued her studies.
She was not without pity for the brave people of Servia and Belgium,
not without praise for the heroic French and English. She added her
vehement words of horror as she read of the atrocities visited upon the
helpless peoples. She shared in the dread of many Americans that the
octopus-arm of war might reach this country, and yet she was more
concerned about her own future than about the future of battle-racked
France or devastated Belgium.
CHAPTER VIII. BEYOND THE ALPS LIES
PHOEBE'S graduation from the Greenwald High School was her
red-letter day. Several times during the morning she stole to the
spare-room where her graduation dress lay spread upon the high bed.
Accompanied by Aunt Maria she had made a special trip to Lancaster for
the frock, though Aunt Maria had conscientiously bought a few yards of
muslin and apron gingham.
The material was soft silky batiste of the quality Phoebe liked. The
style, also, was of her choosing. She felt a glow of satisfaction as
she looked at the dress so simply, yet fashionably, made.
For once in my life I have a dress I like, she thought.
After supper, just as she was ready to dress for the great event,
Phares Eby came to the gray farmhouse.
The years had changed the solemn, serious boy into a more solemn,
serious man. Tall and broad-shouldered, he was every inch a man in
appearance. He was, moreover, a man highly respected in the community,
a successful farmer and also a preacher in the Church of the Brethren.
The latter honor had been conferred upon him a year before Phoebe's
graduation and had seemed to increase his gravity and endow him with
true bishopric dignity. He dressed after the manner of the majority of
men who are affiliated with the Church of the Brethren in that
district. His chin was covered with a thick, black beard, his dark hair
was parted in the middle and combed behind his ears. He looked ten
years older than he was and gave an impression of reserved strength,
indomitable will and rigidity of purpose in furthering what he deemed a
Phoebe felt a slight intimidation in his presence as she noted how
serious he had grown, how mature he seemed. He appeared to desire the
same friendship with her and tried to be comradely as of old, but there
remained a feeling of restraint between them.
Hello, Phares, she greeted him as cordially as possible on her
Good-evening, he returned. Are you ready for the great event?
Yes, if I don't have heart failure before I get in to town. If only
I had been fourth or fifth in the class marks instead of second, then I
might have escaped to-night with just a solo. As it is, I must deliver
the Salutatory oration.
Phoebe, you want to get off too easily! But I cannot stay more than
a minute, for I know you'll want to get ready. I just stopped to give
you a little gift for your graduation, a copy of Longfellow's poems.
Oh, thanks, Phares. I like his poems.
I thought you did. But I must go now, he said stiffly. I'll see
you to-night at Commencement. I hope you'll get through the oration all
Thanks. I hope so.
When he was gone she made a wry face. Whew, she whistled. I'm
sure Phares is a fine young man but he's too solemncoly. He gives me
the woolies! If he's like that all the time I'm glad I don't have to
live in the same house. Wonder if he really knows how to be jolly. But,
shame on you, Phoebe Metz, talking so about your old friend! Perhaps
for that I'll forget my oration to-night. With a gay laugh she ran
away to dress for the most important occasion of her life.
The white dress was vastly becoming. Its soft folds fell gracefully
about her slender young figure. Her hair was brushed back, gathered
into a bow at the top of her head, and braided into one thick braid
which ended in a curl. There were no loving fingers of mother or sister
to arrange the folds of her gown, no fond eyes to appraise her with
looks of approval, but if she felt the omission she gave no evidence of
it. She seemed especially gay as she dressed alone in her room. When
she had finished she surveyed herself in the glass.
Um, Phoebe Metz, you don't look half bad! Now go and do as well as
you look. If Aunt Maria heard me she'd be shocked, but what's the use
pretending to be so stupid or innocent as not to appreciate your own
good points. Any person with good sight and ordinary sense can tell
whether their appearance is pleasing or otherwise. I like this
Phoebe, Aunt Maria's voice came up the stairs.
Why, David's down. Are you done dressing?
I'll be down in a minute.
David Eby, too, was a man grown, but a man so different! Like his
cousin, Phares, he was tall. He had the same dark hair and eyes but his
eyes were glowing, and his hair was cut close and his chin kept
Between him and Phoebe there existed the old comradeship, free of
restraint or embarrassment. He ran to meet her as her steps sounded on
But she came down sedately, her hand sliding along the colonial
hand-rail, a calm dignity about her, her lovely head erect.
Good-evening, she said in quiet tones.
Whew! he whistled. Sweet girl graduate is too mild a phrase!
Come, unbend, Phoebe. You don't expect me to call you Miss Metz or to
kiss your handah, shall I?
Daviein a twinkling the assumed dignity deserted her, she was
all girl again, animated and adorableDavie, you're hopeless! Here I
pose before the mirror to find the most impressive way to hold my head
and be sufficiently dignified for the occasion, and you come bursting
into the hall like a tomboy, whistling and saying funny things.
I'm awfully sorry. But you took my breath away. I haven't gotten it
back yethe breathed deeply.
David, will you ever grow up?
I'll have to now. I see you've gone and done it.
Ach no, she lapsed into the childhood expression. I'm not grown
up. But how do I look? You won't tell me so I have to ask you.
You look like a Madonna, he said seriously.
Oh, she said impatiently, that sounded like Phares.
Gracious, then I'll change it! You look like an angel and good
enough to eat. But honestly, Phoebe, that dress is dandy! You look
Glad you think so. Shall I tell you a secret, David? I'm scared
pink about to-night.
You scared? He whistled again.
Don't be so smart, she said with a frown. Were you scared on your
Um-uh. At first I was. But you'll get over it in a few minutes. The
lights and the glory of the occasion dim the scary feeling when you sit
up there in the seats of honor. You should be glad your oration is
I am. Mary Warner is welcome to her Valedictory and the long wait
to deliver it.
Phoebe stiffened a bit at the thought of the other girl. Since the
days when the two girls attended the rural school on the hill and Mary
Warner was the possessor of curls while Phoebe wore the despised braids
the other girl seemed to have everything for which Phoebe longed.
Ah, don't you care about the honor, said David. Honors don't
always tell who knows the most. Why, look at me; I was fifth in my
class and I know as much any day as the little runt who was first.
Conceit! laughed Phoebe. But I guess you do know more than he
does. Bet he never saw an orioles' nest or found a wild pink moccasin.
You're a wonder at such things, David.
Um, came the sober answer, but there was a merry twinkle in his
eyes, I'm a wonder all right! Too bad only you and Mother Bab know it.
But if I don't soon go you won't get to town in time to get the pink
roses arranged just so for the grand march. The girls in our class
primped about twenty minutes, patting their hair and fixing their
ribbons and fussing with their flowers.
David, you're horrid!
I know. But I brought you something more to primp with. He handed
her a small flat box.
From Mother Bab, he said.
Oh, David, that's a beauty! she cried as she held up a scarf of
pale blue crepe de chine. I'll wear it to-night. Tell Mother Bab I
thank her over and over. But I'll see her to-night and tell her myself;
she'll be in at Commencement.
She can't come, Phoebe. She's sorry, but she has one of her
dreadful headaches and you know what that means, how sick she really
Oh, Davie, Mother Bab not coming to my Commencementwhy, I'm so
disappointed, I want her therethe tears were near the surface.
She's sorry, too, Phoebe, but she's too sick when those headaches
get her. Her eyes are the cause of them, we think now.
And I'm horribly selfish to think of myself and my disappointment
when she is suffering. You tell her I'll be up to see her in the
morning and tell her all about to-night. You are coming?
Sure thing! Aunt Mary is coming over to stay with mother, but there
is really nothing to do for her; the pain seems to have to run its
course. She'll go to bed early and be perfectly all right when she
wakes in the morning. Come on, now, cheer up, and get ready for that
'Over the Alps lies Italy.'
It's 'Beyond the Alps lies Italy,' she corrected him. Her
disappointment was softened by his cheerfulness.
Ach, it's all the same, he insisted, and went off smiling.
To Phoebe that night seemed like a dreamthe slow march down the
aisle of the crowded auditorium to the elevated platform where the nine
graduates sat in a semicircle; the sea of faces swathed in the bright
glow of many lights; the perfume of the pink roses in her arm; the
music of the High School chorus, and then the time when she rose and
stood before the people to deliver her oration, Beyond the Alps lies
She began rather shakily; the sea of faces seemed so very
formidable, so many eyes looked at herhow could she ever finish! She
spoke mechanically at first, but gradually the magic of the Italy of
her dreams stole upon her, a singular softness crept into her voice, a
mellowness like music, as she depicted the blue skies of the sunny
When she returned to her place in the semicircle a glow of
satisfaction possessed her. She felt she had not failed, that she had,
in truth, done very well. But later, when Mary Warner rose to deliver
the Valedictory, Phoebe felt her own efforts shrink into littleness.
The dark-eyed beautiful Mary was a sad thorn in the flesh for the fair
girl who knew she was always overshadowed by the brilliant, queenly
brunette. Involuntarily the country girl looked at David Ebyhe was
listening intently to Mary; his eyes never seemed to leave her face.
Little, sharp pangs of jealousy thrust themselves into the depths of
Phoebe's heart. Was it true, then, that David cared for Mary Warner?
Town gossips said he frequented her house. Phoebe had met them together
on the Square recentlynot that she cared, of course! She sat erect
and held her pink roses more tightly against her heart. It mattered
little to her if David liked other girls; it was only that she felt a
sense of proprietorship over the boy whose mother was her Mother
Babthus she tried to console herself and quiet the demons of jealousy
until the program was completed, congratulations received, and she
stood with her aunt and father, ready for the trip back to the gray
Teachers and friends had congratulated her, but it was David Eby's
hearty, You did all right, Phoebe, that gave her the keenest joy.
Did you walk in? she asked him as she gathered her roses, diploma
and scarf, preparatory to departure.
Then you can drive out with us, her father offered.
Yes, of course, she seconded the suggestion. We have room in the
So it happened that Phoebe, the blue scarf about her shoulders, sat
beside David as they drove over the country road, home from her
graduation. The vehicle rattled somewhat, but the young folks on the
rear seat could speak and hear above the clatter.
I'm glad it's over, Phoebe sighed in relief. But what next?
Mary Warner is going to enter some prep school this fall and
prepare for Vassar, David informed the girl beside him.
Lucky MaryMary Warnershe was sick of the name! I wish I knew
what I want to do.
Want to go away to school?
I don't know. Aunt Maria wants me to stay at home on the farm and
just help her. Daddy doesn't say much, but he did ask me if I would
like to go to Millersville. That's a fine Normal School and if I wanted
to be a teacher I'd go to that school, but I don't want to be a
teacher. What I really want to do is go away and study music.
Well, can't you do it? That is not really impossible.
No, but, he mimicked. But won't take you anywhere.
You set me thinking, David. Perhaps it isn't so improbable, after
all. I'm coming over to see Mother Bab to-morrow; she'll be full of
suggestions. She'll see a way for me to get what I want; she always
I bet she will, agreed David. You'll be that primer donner yet,
he mimicked, I know you will.
Oh, Davie, wouldn't it be great! But I wouldn't beautify my face
with cream and beet juice and flour!
They laughed so heartily that Aunt Maria turned and asked the cause
of the merriment.
We were just speaking of the time when I dressed in the garret and
fixed my facethe time you had the quilting party.
Ach, Aunt Maria said, smiling in the darkness. You looked
dreadful that day. I was good and mad at you! But I'm glad you're big
enough now not to do such dumb things. My, now that you're done with
school and will stay home with me we can have some nice times sewin'
and quiltin' and makin' rugs, ain't, Phoebe?
In the semi-darkness of the carriage Phoebe looked at David. The
appealing wistfulness of her face touched him. He patted her arm
reassuringly and whispered to her, Don't you worry. It'll come out all
right. Mother Bab will help you.
CHAPTER IX. A VISIT TO MOTHER BAB
THE next day as Phoebe walked up the hill to visit Mother Bab she
went eagerly and with an unusual light in her eyesshe had transformed
her schoolgirl braid into the coiffure of a woman! The golden hair was
parted in the middle, twisted into a shapely knot in the nape of her
neck, and the effect was highly satisfactory, she thought.
Mother Bab will be surprised, she said gladly as she swung up the
hill in rapid, easy strides. And DavidI wonder what David will say
if he's home.
At the summit of the hill she paused and turned, looked back at the
gray farmhouse and beyond it to the little town of Greenwald.
I just must stand here a minute and look! I love this view from the
She breathed deeply and continued to revel in the beauty of the
scene. At the foot of the hill was the Metz farm nestling in its green
surroundings. Like a tan ribbon the dusty road went winding past green
fields, then hid itself as it dipped into a valley and made a sharp
curve, though Phoebe knew that it went on past more fields and meadows
to the town. Where she stood she had a view of the tall spires of
Greenwald churches straggling through the trees, and the red and slate
roofs of comfortable houses gleaming in the sunlight. Beyond and about
the town lay fields resplendent in the pristine freshness of May
Oh, she said aloud after a long gaze, this is glorious! But I
must hurry to Mother Bab. I'm wild to have her see me. Aunt Maria just
said when I showed her my hair, 'Yes well, Phoebe, I guess you're old
enough to wear your hair up.' Mother Bab is different. Sometimes I pity
Aunt Maria and wonder what kind of childhood she had to make her so
grim about some things.
The little house in which David and his mother lived stood near the
country road leading to the schoolhouse on the hill. Like many other
farmhouses of that county it was square, substantial and unadorned, its
attractiveness being derived solely from its fine proportions, its
colonial doorways, and the harmonious surroundings of trees and
flowers. The garden was eloquent of the lavish love bestowed upon it.
Mother Bab delighted in flowers and planted all the old favorites. The
walks between the garden beds were trim and weedless, the yard and
buildings well kept, and the entire little farm gave evidence that the
reputed Pennsylvania Dutch thrift and neatness were present there.
Adjoining the farm of Mother Bab was the farm of her brother-in-law,
the father of Phares Eby. This was one of the best known in the
community. Its great barns and vast acres quite eclipsed the modest
little dwelling beside it. David Eby sometimes sighed as he compared
the two farms and wondered why Fate had bestowed upon his uncle's
efforts an almost unparalleled success while his own father had had a
continual struggle to hold on to the few acres of the little farm.
Since the death of his father David had often felt the straining of the
yoke. It was toil, toil, on acres which were rich but apparently
unwilling to yield their fullness. One year the crops were damaged by
hail, another year prolonged drought prevented full development of the
fruit, again continued rainy weather ruined the hay, and so on, year in
and year out, there was seldom a season when the farm measured up to
the expectations of the hard-working David.
But Mother Bab never complained about the ill-luck, neither did she
envy the woman in the great house next to her. Mother Bab's philosophy
of life was mainly cheerful:
I find earth not gray, but rosy,
Heaven not grim, but fair of hue.
Do I stoop? I pluck a posy.
Do I stand and stare? All's blue.
A little house to shelter her, a big garden in which to work, to
dream, to live; enough worldly goods to supply daily sustenance; the
love of her Davidtruly her BELOVED, as the old Hebrew name
signifiesthe love of the dear Phoebe who had adopted hergiven these
blessings and no envy or discontent ever ventured near the white-capped
woman. Life had brought her many hours of perplexity and several great
sorrows, but it had also bestowed upon her compensating joys. She felt
that the years would bring her new joys, now that her boy was grown
into a man and was able to manage the farm. Some day he would bring
home a wifehow she would love David's wife! But meanwhile, she was
not lonely. Her friends and she were much together, quilting, rugging,
comparing notes on the garden.
Guess Mother Bab'll be in the garden, thought Phoebe, for it's
such a fine day.
But as she neared the whitewashed fence of the garden she saw that
the place was deserted. She ran lightly up the walk, rapped at the
kitchen door, and entered without waiting for an answer to her knock.
Mother Bab, she called.
I'm here, Phoebe, came a voice from the sitting-room.
How are you? Is your headache all gone? Phoebe asked as she ran to
the beloved person who came to meet her.
All gone. I was so disappointed last nightbut what have you done
to your hair?
Oh, I forgot! Phoebe lifted her head proudly. I meant to knock at
the front door and be company to-day. I've got my hair up!
Phoebe, Phoebe, the woman drew her nearer. Let me look at you.
Her eyes scanned the face of the girl, her voice quivered as she spoke.
You've grown up! Of course it didn't come in a night but it seems that
The May fairies did it, Mother Bab. Yesterday I wore a braid. This
morning when I woke I heard the robin who sings every morning in the
apple tree outside my window and he was caroling, 'Put it up! Put it
up!' I knew he meant my hair, so here I am, waiting for your blessing.
You have it, you always have it! Butshe changed her moodare
you sure the robin wasn't saying, 'Get up, get up!' Phoebe?
Positive; it was only five o'clock.
Now I must hear all about last night, said Mother Bab as they sat
together on the broad wooden settee in the sitting-room. David told me
how nice you looked and how well you did.
Did he tell you how pleased I am with the scarf? It's just lovely!
And the color is beautiful. I wonder whyI wonder why I love pretty
things so much, really pretty things, like crepe de chine and taffeta
and panne velvet and satin. Oh, sometimes I think I must have them.
When I go to Lancaster I want lots of lovely clothes and I hate
ginghams and percales and serviceable things.
I know, Phoebe, I know how you feel about it.
Do you really? Then it can't be so awfully wicked. You are so
understanding, Mother Bab. I can't tell Aunt Maria how I feel about
such things for she'd be dreadfully hurt or worried or provoked, but
you seem always to know what I mean and how I feel.
I was eighteen myself once, a good many years ago, but I still
You have a good memory.
Yes. Why, I can remember some of the dresses I wore when I was
eighteen. But then, I have a dress bundle to help me remember them.
What's a dress bundle?
Didn't Aunt Maria keep one for you?
I never heard of one.
It's a long string of samples of dresses you wore when you were
little. Wait, I'll get mine and show you.
She left the room and went up-stairs. After a short time she
returned and held out a stout thread upon which were strung small,
irregular scraps of dress material. This is my dress bundle. My mother
started it for me when I was a baby and kept it up till I was big
enough to do it myself. Every time I got a new dress a little patch of
the goods was threaded on my dress bundle.
Oh, may I see? Why, that's just like a part of your babyhood and
childhood come back!
The two heads bent over the bundlethe girl's with its light hair
in its first putting up, the woman's with its graying hair folded under
the white cap.
HereMother Bab turned the bundle upside down and fingered the
scraps with that loving way of those who are dreaming of long departed
days and touching a relic of those cherished hoursthis white calico
with the little pink dots was the first dress any one gave me.
Grandmother Hoerner made it for me, all by hand. Funny, wasn't it, the
way they used to put colored dresses on wee babies! See, here are pink
calico ones and white with red figures and a few blue ones. I wore all
these when I was a baby. Then when I grew older these; they are much
prettier. This red delaine I wore to a spelling bee when I was about
sixteen and I got a book for a prize for standing up next to last. This
red and black checked debaige I can see yet. It had an overskirt on it
trimmed with little ruffles. This purple cashmere with the yellow
sprigs in it I had all trimmed with narrow black velvet ribbon. I'll
never forget that dressI wore it the day I met David's father.
Oh, you must have looked lovely!
He said so. She smiled; her eyes looked beyond Phoebe, back to the
golden days of her youth when Love had come to her to bless and to
abide with her long beyond the tarrying of the spirit in the flesh. He
said I looked nice. I met him the first time I wore the purple dress.
It was at a corn-husking party at Jerry Grumb's barn. Some man played
the fiddle and we danced.
Danced! echoed Phoebe.
Yes, danced. But just the old-fashioned Virginia reel. We had cider
and apples and cake and pie for our treat and we went home at ten
o'clock! David walked home with me in the moonlight and I guess we
liked each other from the first. We were married the next year, then we
both turned plain.
Were you ever sorry, Mother Bab?
That I married him, or that I turned plain?
Yes. Both, I mean.
No, never sorry once, Phoebe, about either. We were happy together.
And about turning plain, why, I wasn't sorry either.
But you had to give up Virginia reels and pretty dresses.
Yes, but I learned there are deeper, more important things than
dancing and wearing pretty dresses.
She looked at Phoebe, but the girl had bowed her head over the dress
bundle and appeared to be thinking.
And so, continued Mother Bab softly, my bundle ended with that
dress. Since I dress plain I don't wear colors, just gray and black.
But I always thought if I had a girl I'd start a dress bundle for her,
for it's so much satisfaction to get it out sometimes and look over the
pieces and remember the dresses and some of the happy times you had
when you wore them. But the girl never came.
But you have David!
Yes, to be sure, he's been so much to me, but I couldn't make him a
dress bundle. He wouldn't have liked it when he grew olderboys are
different. And I wouldn't want him to be a sissy, either.
He isn't, Mother Bab. He's fine!
I think so, Phoebe. He has worked so hard since he's through school
and he's so good to me and takes such care of the farm, though the
crops don't always turn out as we want. But you haven't told me what
you are going to do, now that you're through school.
I don't know. I want to do something.
No. What I would like best of all is study music.
In Greenwald? You mean to learn to play?
No, to learn to sing. I have often dreamed of studying music in a
great city, like Philadelphia.
What would you do then?
Sing, sing! I feel that my voice is my one talent and I don't want
to bury it.
Well, don't Miss Lee live in Philadelphia? Perhaps she could help
you to get a good teacher and find a place to board.
Mother Bab! Phoebe sprang to her feet and wrapped her arms about
the slender little woman. That's just it! she cried. I never thought
of that! David said you'd help me. I'll write to Miss Lee to-day!
Phoebe, the woman said, smiling at the girl's wild enthusiasm.
I'm not crazy, just inspired, said Phoebe. You helped me, I knew
you would! I want to go to Philadelphia to study music but I know daddy
and Aunt Maria would never listen to any proposals about going to a big
city and living among strangers. But if I write to Miss Lee and she
says she'll help me the folks at home may consider the plan. I'll have
a hard time, thougha reactionary doubt touched herI'll have a
dreadful time persuading Aunt Maria that I'm safe and sane if I mention
music and Philadelphia and Phoebe in the same breath. Then she smiled
determinedly. At least I'm going to make a brave effort to get what I
want. I'm not going to settle down on the farm and get brown and fat
and wear gingham dresses all my life, and sunbonnets in the bargain! I
never could see why I had to wear sunbonnets, I always hated them. Aunt
Maria always tried to make me wear them, but as soon as I was out of
her sight I sneaked them off. I remember one time I threw my bonnet in
the Chicques and I had the loveliest time watching it disappear down
the stream. But Aunt Maria made me make another one that was uglier
still, so I gained nothing but the temporary pleasure of seeing it
float away. And how I hated to do patchwork! It seemed to me I was
always doing it, and I never could see the sense of cutting up pieces
and then sewing them together again.
But the sewing was good practice for you, Phoebe. Patchworkseems
to me all our life is patchwork: a little here and a little there; one
color now, then another; one shape first, then another shape fitted in;
and when it is all joined it will be beautiful if we keep the parts
straight and the colors and shapes right. It can be a very beautiful
rising sun or an equally pretty flower basket, or it can be just a
crazy quilt with little of the beautiful about it.
Mother Bab, if I had known that while I was patching I would have
loved to patch! I had nothing to make it interesting; it was just
stitching, stitching, stitching on seams! But those vivid quilts are
all finished and I guess Aunt Maria is as glad about it as I am, for I
gave her some worried hours before the end was sighted. Poor Aunt
Maria, she should be glad to have me go to the city. I've led her some
merry chases, but I must admit she was always equal to them, forged
ahead of me many times.
Phoebe, you're a wilful child and I'm afraid I spoil you more.
No you don't! You're my safety valve. If I couldn't come up here
and say the things I really feel I'd have to tell it to the Jenny
WrensAunt Maria hates to have me talk to myself.
But she's good to you, Phoebe?
Yes, oh, yes! I appreciate all she has done for me. She has taken
care of me since I was a tiny baby. I'll never forget that. It's just
that we are so different. I can't make Phoebe Metz be just like Maria
Metz, can I?
No, you must be yourself, even if you are different.
That's it, Mother Bab. I feel I have the right to live my life as I
choose, that no person shall say to me I must live it so or so. If I
want to study music why shouldn't I do so? My mother left a few hundred
dollars for me; it's been on interest and amounts to more than a few
hundred, about a thousand dollars, I think. So the money end of my
studying music need not worry Aunt Maria. I am determined to do it,
I suppose I'd feel the same way.
How did you learn to understand so well, Mother Bab? You have lived
all your life on a farm, yet you are not narrow.
I hope I have not grown narrow, the woman said softly. I have
read a great deal. I have readdon't you breathe it to a soulI have
often read when I should have been baking pies or washing windows!
No wonder David worships you so.
I still enjoy reading, said Mother Bab. David subscribes for
three good magazines and when they come I'm so anxious to look into
them that sometimes my cooking burns.
That must be one of the reasons your English is correct. I am
ashamed of myself when I mix my v's and w's and use a t for a
d. I have often wished the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect would have
been put aside long ago.
Yes, the woman agreed, I can't see the need of it. It has been
ridiculed so long that it should have died a natural death. It's a
mystery to me how it has survived. But cheer up, Phoebe, the gibberish
is dying out. The older people will continue to speak it but the
younger generations are becoming more and more English speaking. Why,
do you know, Phoebe, since this war started in Europe and I read the
dreadful crimes the Germans are committing I feel that I never want to
hear or say, 'Yah.'
Bully! Phoebe clapped her hands. I said to old Aaron Hogendobler
yesterday that I'm ashamed I have a German name and some German
ancestors, even if they did come to this country before the Revolution,
and he said no one need feel shame at that, but every American who is
not one hundred per cent American should die from shame. I know we
Pennsylvania Dutch can carry our end of the burdens of the world and be
real Americans, but I want to sound like one too.
Mother Bab laughed. Just yesterday I said to David that the butter
I say that very often. I must read more.
And I less. I haven't told you, Phoebe, nor David, but my eyes are
going back on me. I went to Lancaster a few weeks ago and the doctor
there said I must be very careful not to strain them at all. I think
I'd rather lose any other sense than sight. I always thought it was the
greatest affliction in the world to be blind.
It is! It mustn't come to you, Mother Bab!
The woman looked worried, but in a moment her face brightened.
Anyhow, she said, what's the use of worrying or thinking about
it? If it ever comes I'll have to bear it just as many other people are
bearing it. I'm glad I have sight to-day to see you.
Phoebe gave her an ecstatic hug. I believe you're Irish instead of
Pennsylvania Dutch! You do know how to blarney and you have that
coaxing, lovely way about you that the Irish are supposed to have.
Why, Phoebe, I am part Irish! My mother's maiden name was McKnight.
David and I still have a few drops of the Irish blood in us, I
I just knew it! I'm glad. I adore the whimsical way the Irish have,
and I like their sense of humor. I guess that's one of the reasons I
like you better than other people I know and perhaps that's why David
is jolly and different from Phares. Ah, she added roguishly, I think
it's a pity Phares hasn't some Irish blood in him. He's so solemn he
seldom sees a joke.
But he's a good boy and he thinks a lot of you. He's just a little
too quiet. But he's a good preacher and very bright.
Yes, he's so good that I'm ashamed of myself when I say mean things
about him. I like him, but people with more life are more interesting.
Hello, who's this you like? David's hearty voice burst upon them.
Phoebe turned and saw him standing in the sunlight of the open door.
The thought flashed upon her, How big and strong he is!
He wore brown corduroys, a blue chambray shirt slightly open at the
throat, heavy shoes. His face was already tanned by the wind and sun,
his hands rough from contact with soil and farming implements, his dark
hair rumpled where he had pulled the big straw hat from his head, but
there was an odor of fresh spring earth about him, a boyish
wholesomeness in his face, that attracted the girl as she looked at his
frame in the doorway.
There was a flash of white teeth, a twinkle in his dark eyes, as he
asked, What did I hear you say, Phoebethat you like me?
Indeed not! I wouldn't think of liking anybody who deceived me as
you have done. All these years you have left me under the impression
that you are Pennsylvania Dutch and now Mother Bab says you are part
Little saucebox! What about yourself? You can't make me believe
that you are pure, unadulterated Pennsylvania Dutch. There's some alien
blood in you, by the ways of you. Have you seen Phares this afternoon?
he asked irrelevantly.
Phares? No. Why?
He went down past the field some time ago. Said he's going to
Greenwald and means to stop and ask you to go to a sale with him next
week. He said you mentioned some time ago that you'd like to go to a
real old-fashioned one and he heard of one coming off next week and
thought you might like to go.
I surely want to go. Don't you want to come, too, David? And Mother
But David shook his head. And spoil Phares's party, he said.
Phares wouldn't thank us.
Phoebe shrugged her shoulders. Ach, David Eby, you're silly! Just
as though I want to go to a sale all alone with Phares! He can take the
big carriage and take us all.
He can but he won't want to. David showed an irritating wisdom.
When I invite you to come on a party with me I won't want Phares
tagging after, either. Two's company.
Two's boredom sometimes, she said so ambiguously that the man
laughed heartily and Mother Bab smiled in amusement.
Come now, Phoebe, David said, just because you put your hair up
you mustn't think you can rule us all and don grown-up airs.
Then you do notice things! I thought you were blind. You are
downright mean, David Eby! When you wore your first pair of long pants
I noticed it right away and made a fuss about them and it takes you ten
minutes to see that my hair is up instead of hanging in a silly braid
down my back.
I saw it first thing, Phoebe. That was meanI'm sorry
You look it, she said sceptically.
I'm sorry, he repeated, to see the braid go, though you look fine
this way. I liked that long braid ever since the day I braided it, the
day you played prima donna. Remember?
The girl flushed, then was vexed at her embarrassment and changed
suddenly to the old, appealing Phoebe.
I remember, Davie. You were my salvation that day, you and Mother
Before they could answer she added with seeming innocency, yet with
a swift glance into the face of the farmer boy, I must go now so I'll
be home when Phares comes to invite me to that sale. I'm going with
him; I'm wild to go.
Yes? David said slowly.
Yes, she repeated, a teasing look in her eyes.
Mommie, isn't she fine? David said after Phoebe was gone and he
lingered in the house.
Mighty fine. But she is so different from the general run of girls;
she's so lively and bright and sweet, so sensitive to all impressions.
She's anxious to get to the city to study music. It would be a
wonderful experience for herand yet
And yet echoed David, then fell into silence.
Mother Bab was thinking of her boy and Phoebe, of their gay
comradeship. How friendly they were, how well-mated they appeared to
be, how appreciative of each other. Could they ever care for each other
in a deeper way? Did the preacher care for the playmate of his
childhood as she thought David was beginning to care?
Well, I must go again, mommie. I came in for a drink at the pump
and heard you and Phoebe. Now I must hustle for I have a lot to do
before sundownach, why aren't we rich!
Do you wish for that?
Certainly I do. Not wealthy; just to have enough so we needn't lie
awake wondering if the dry spell or the wet spell or the hail will ruin
the crops. I wish I could find an Aladdin's lamp.
Daviethe smile faded from her facedon't get the money craze.
Money isn't everything. This farm is paid for and we can always make a
comfortable living. Money isn't all.
No, butbut it means everything sometimes to a young, single
fellow. But don't you worry; the crops are fine this year, so far.
The mother did not forget his words at once. It must be, she
thought, that David wants Phoebe and feels he must have more money
before he can ask her to marry him. Will men never learn that girls who
are worth getting are not looking so much for money but the man. The
young can't see the depth and fullness of love. I've tried to teach
David, but I suppose there's some things he must learn for himself.
CHAPTER X. AN OLD-FASHIONED COUNTRY
A WEEK later Phares and Phoebe drove into the barnyard of a farm six
miles from Greenwald, where the old-fashioned sale was scheduled to be
We are not the first, after all, said the preacher as he saw the
number of conveyances in and about the barnyard. He smiled
good-humoredly as he led the wayhe could afford to smile when he was
All about the big yard of the farm were placed articles to be sold
at public auction. It was a miscellaneous collection. A cradle with
miniature puffy feather pillows, straw tick and an old patchwork quilt
of pink and white calico stood near an old wood-stove which bore the
inscription, CONOWINGO FURNACE. Corn-husk shoe-mats, a quilting frame,
rocking-chairs, two spinning-wheels, copper kettles, rolls of
hand-woven rag carpet, old oval hat-boxes and an old chest stood about
a huge table which was laden with jars of jellies. Chests, filled with
linens and antique woolen coverlets, afforded a resting place for the
fortunate ones who had arrived earliest. A few antique chairs and
tables, a mahogany highboy in excellent condition and an antique
corner-cupboard of wild-cherry wood occupied prominent places among the
collection. Truly, the sale warranted the attention it was receiving.
I'd like to bid on somethingI'm going to do it! Phoebe said as
they looked about. When I was a little girl and went to sales with
Aunt Maria I coaxed to bid, just for the excitement of bidding. But she
always made me tell what I wanted and then she bid on it.
What do you want to buy? asked the preacher.
Oh, I don't know. I don't want any apple-butter in crocks, or any
chairs. Oh, I'll have some fun, Phares! I'll bid on the third article
they put up for sale! I heard a man say the dishes are going to be sold
first, so I'll probably get a cracked plate or a saucer without a cup,
but whatever it is, the third article is going to be mine.
That is rather rash, warned Phares. It may be a bed or a chest.
You can't scare me. I'm going to have some real thrills at this
The preacher entered into the spirit of the girl and smiled at her
promise to bid on the third thing put up for sale.
Oh, look at the highboy, she exclaimed to him.
Do you like it? he asked.
Yes. See how it's inlaid with hollywood and cherry and how fine the
lines of it are! I wonder how much it will bring. But Aunt Maria'd
scold if I brought any furniture home, so I can't buy it.
The price will depend upon the number of bidders and the size of
their pocketbooks. If any dealers in antiques are here it may run way
up. We used to buy homespun linen and fine old furniture very cheap at
sales, but the antique dealers changed that.
By that time the number of people was steadily increasing. They came
singly and in groups, in carriages, farm wagons, automobiles and afoot.
Some of the curious went about examining each article in the motley
collection in the yard.
Phoebe watched it all with an amused smile; finally she broke into
Phares looked up inquiringly: What is it?
This is great sport! I haven't been to a good sale for several
years. That old man has knocked his fist upon every chair and table,
has tested every piece of furniture, has opened all the bureau drawers,
even the case of the old clock, and just a moment ago he rocked the
cradle furiously to convince himself that it is in good working
condition. Here he comes with a pewter plate in his handlet's hear
what he has to say about it.
The old man's cracked harsh voice rose above the confusion of other
sounds as he leaned against a table near Phoebe and Phares and spoke to
Here now, Eph, is one of them pewter plates that folks fuss so
about just now, and I hear they put them in their dinin'-rooms along
the wall! Why, when I was a boy my granny had a lot of 'em and we'd
knock 'em around any way. Ha, ha, he laughed loudly, I can tell you a
good one, Eph, about one of them pewter dishes.
He slapped the plate against his knee, but the thud was instantly
drowned by his quick, Ach, Jimminy, I hit myself pretty hard that
time! But I'll tell you about it, Eph. You heard of the fellows from
the city who go around the country hunting up old relics, all old
truck, and sell it again in the city? Well, one of them fellows come to
my house the other week and asked if I had anything old-fashioned I
would sell. Now if Lizzie'd been home we might got rid of some of the
old things we have on the garret, but I was alone and I didn't know
what I dared sellyou know how the women is. So I said, 'What kind of
old things do you want?'
'Oh,' he said, 'I buy old furniture, dishes, linen, pewter'
'Pewter?' I said. 'Who wants that?'
'There is a great demand for it,' he said, 'and I will give you a
good price for any you have.'
'Well,' I laughed, 'I have just one piece of pewter.'
'Where is it?'
'Why, the cats have been eating out of it for a few years.'
'May I see it?' he asks.
So I took him out to the barn and showed him the big pewter bowl
the cats eat out of and he said, 'I'll give you fifty cents for that
Gosh, I said to him, 'Mister, I was just fooling with you. I know
you don't want a cat-dish.'
But he said again, 'I'll give you fifty cents for that dish.'
So when I saw that he really meant it and wanted the dish I wrapped
the old pewter dish in a paper and he gave me half a dollar for it.
When I told Lizzie about it she laughed good and said the city folks
must be dumb if they want pewter dishes when you can buy such nice ones
for ten cents. Yes, Eph, that's the fellow's going to auctioneer. He's
a good one, you bet; he keeps things lively all the time. All his folks
is good talkers. Lizzie says his mom can talk the legs off an iron pot.
But then he needs a good tongue in this business; it takes a lot of
wind to be an auctioneer, specially at a big sale like this. He says
it's going to be a wonderful sale, that he ain't had one like it for
years. There's things here belonged to the family for three
generations, been handed down and handed down and now to-day it'll get
scattered all over Lancaster County, mebbe further. This saving up
things and not using 'em is all nonsense. I tell Lizzie we'll use what
we got and get new when it's worn out and not let a lot back for the
young ones to fight over or other people to buy.
Here the auctioneer climbed upon a big box, clapped his hands and
called loudly, Attention, attention! This sale is about to begin. We
have here a collection of fine things, all in good condition. The terms
of the sale are cash. Now, folks, bid up fast and talk loud when you
bid so I can hear you. We have here some of the finest antique dishes
in the country, also some furniture that can't be duplicated in any
store to-day. We'll begin on this cherry table.
He lifted a spindle-legged table in the air and went on talking.
Now that's a fine table to begin with! All solid cherry, no screws
looseand that's more than you can say about some peoplenow what's
bid for this table? Fine and good as the day it came out of a good
workman's shop; no scratches on itthe Brubaker people knew how to
take care of furniture. Who bids? How much for it do you bid? Fifty
centsfifty, all rightmake it sixtysixty cents I'm bid. Sixty,
sixty, sixtyseventygo ahead, eightygo onninety, one dollar, one
dollar ten, twenty, thirtykeep onone dollar thirty, make it forty,
forty, forty, forty, I have a dollar forty for this tableall done?
Goingall doneall done?
All was said in one breathless succession of words. He paused an
instant to gather fresh impetus, then resumed, All doneany more?
Gone at a dollar forty to
Sold to Lizzie Brubaker.
There, whispered the preacher to Phoebe, that's one.
She smiled and nodded her head.
Here now, called the auctioneer, here's a fine set of chairs. Bid
on them; wink to me if you don't want to call out. My wife said she
don't care how many ladies wink to me this afternoon at this sale, but
after that she won't have itnow then; go ahead! Give me one of the
chairs, Sam, so the people can see itah, ain't that a beauty! Six in
all, all solid wood, too, none of your cane seats that you have to be
afraid to sit in. All solid wood, and every one alike, all painted
green and every one with fine hand-painted flowers on the back. Where
can you beat such chairs? Don't make them any more these days, real
antiques they are! Bid up now, friends; how much a piece? The six go
together, it would be a shame to part them. Fifteen cents did I
hear?Say, I'm ashamed to take a bid like that! Twenty, that's a
little betterthirty, thirty, forty over here? Forty cents I have,
fifty, sixty, seventy, seventy-five, eighty, eighty, eighty cents I'm
bid; I'm bid eighty centsmake it ninetyninety I'm bid, make it a
dollarninety, ninetyall done at ninety? Guess we'll let Jonas Erb
have them at ninety cents a piece, and real bargains they are!
Here's where I bid, said Phoebe, her cheeks rosy from excitement.
Shall I release you from your promise? offered the preacher.
No, I'll bid.
Attention, called the auctioneer. Attention, everybody! Here we
have a real antique, something worth bidding on!
Phoebe held her breath.
Here now, Sam, give it a lift so everybody can seeah, there you
He shouted the last words as two men held above the crowdthe old
Phoebe groaned and looked at Phareshe was smiling. The old
aversion to ridicule swelled in her; he should not have reason to laugh
at her; she would show him that she was equal to the occasionshe
would bid on the cradle!
Start it, hurry up, somebody. How much is bid for the cradle? Sam
here says it's been in the Brubaker family for years and years. Think
of all the babies that were rocked to sleep in itit's a real relic.
Phoebe, unacquainted with the value of cradles, was silently
endeavoring to determine the proper amount for a first bid. She was
relieved to hear a woman's voice call, Twenty-five cents.
Twenty-five I have, twenty-five, called the auctioneer. Make it
Thirty, said Phoebe.
Forty, came from the other woman.
Make it fifty, Miss. He pointed a fat finger at Phoebe.
Fifty, she responded.
Fifty, fifty, anybody make it sixty? Fifty centsall done at
fifty? Then it goes at fifty cents toPhoebe repeated her nameto
He proceeded with the sale. Phoebe turned triumphantly to the
preacherI kept my promise.
You did, he said. The cradle is yourswhat are you going to do
Gracious! Why, I never thought of that! I don't want it. I just
wanted the fun of bidding. Can't I pay it and leave it and they can
sell it over again?
You bid rashly, the preacher said, though his eyes were smiling
and his usual tone of admonition was absent from his voice. I think
you may be able to sell it to the woman who was bidding against you.
I'll find her and give it to her.
She elbowed her way through the crowd until she reached the place
from which the opposing voice had come. She looked about a moment, then
addressed a woman near her. Do you know who was bidding on the
Yes, it was Hetty here, the one with the white waist. Here, Hetty,
this lady wants to talk to you.
To me? echoed the rival bidder for the cradle.
Did you bid on the cradle? asked Phoebe.
Yes, but I didn't get it. I only wanted it because it was in the
family so long. I'm a Brubaker. I said I wouldn't give more than fifty
cents for it, for it would just stand up in the garret anyway, and be
one more thing to move around at housecleaning time. Yet I'd liked to
have it. I don't know who got it.
I did, but I don't want it. I'd like to give it to you.
Whythe woman was amazedwhat did you bid on it for?
Just for the fun of bidding, said Phoebe, laughing. Will you let
me give it to you?
I'll give you half a dollar for it, offered the woman.
No, I mean it. I want to give it to you. I'll consider it a favor
if you'll take it from me.
Well, if you want it that way. But don't you want the quilt and the
No, take it just as it is.
Why, thanks, said the woman as she went to the spot where the
cradle stood. She soon walked away with the clumsy gift in her arm.
Now don't it beat all, she said as she set it down near her friends.
I just knew that I'd get a present to-day. This morning I put my
stocking on wrong side out and I just left it for they say still that
it means you'll get a present before the day is over, and here I get
With a bright smile illumining her face, Phoebe rejoined the
I see you disposed of the cradle, he greeted her.
Yes. But I felt like a hypocrite when she thanked me, for I was
giving her what I didn't want.
Here the busy auctioneer called again, Attention, everybody! This
piece of furniture we are going to sell now dates back to ante-bellum
Ach, it don't, Phoebe heard a voice exclaim. That never belonged
to any person called Bellem; that was old Amanda Brubaker's for years
and she used to tell me that it belonged to her grandmother once. That
man don't know what he's saying, but that's the way these auctioneers
do; you can't believe half they say at a sale half the time.
Phoebe looked up at Phares; both smiled, but the loquacious
auctioneer, not knowing the comments he was causing, went on serenely:
Yes, sir, this is a real old piece of furniture, a real antique.
Look at this, everybodya chest of drawers, a highboy, some people
call it, but it's pretty by any name. All of it is genuine mahogany
trimmed with inlaid pieces of white wood. Start it up, somebody. What
will you give for the finest thing we have here at this sale to-day?
What's bid? Good! I'm bid five dollars to begin; shows you know a good
thing when you see it. Five dollarsmake it ten?
Ten, answered Phares Eby.
Phoebe gave a start of surprise as the preacher's voice came in
answer to the entreaty of the auctioneer.
Phares, she whispered, I didn't mean that I want to buy it.
I am buying it, he said calmly, an inscrutable smile in his eyes.
You like it, don't you?
She felt a vague uneasiness at his words, at the new sound of
tenderness in his voice.
Yes, I like it, but
Then we'll talk about that some other day soon, he returned, and
looked again at the busy auctioneer.
Ten dollars, ten, ten, came the eager call of the man on the box.
Who makes it fifteen? That's itfifteen I havesixteen,
eighteentwentytwenty-five, thirtythirty, thirty, come on, who
makes it more? Not done yet? Not going for that little bit? Who makes
Thirty-five, said Phares.
Thirty-five, the auctioneer caught at the words. That's the way
Thirty-eight, came a voice from the crowd.
Thirty-eight, the auctioneer smiled broadly at the bid. Some
person is going to get a fine antiquekeep it up, the highest bidder
Forty, offered Phares.
Forty, forty dollarsI have forty dollars offered for the
highboyall done at forty
There was a tense silence.
Forty dollarsall done at fortylast callgoinggoinggone.
Gone at forty dollars to Phares Eby.
Phoebe turned to the preacher. Did you bid just for the fun of
bidding? she asked.
Well, he replied slowly, the cases are not exactly alike. You
like the highboy, don't you?
Yesbut what has that to do with it? She looked up, but turned
her head away quickly. What did he mean? Surely Phares was not given to
foolishness or love-making to her!
She was glad that he suggested moving to the edge of the crowd after
his successful bidding was completed. There a welcome diversion came in
the form of the old man who had previously amused them by his talk
about the pewter plate.
There now, Eph, he was saying, what do you think of paying forty
dollars for that old chest of drawers? To be sure it's good and all the
drawers work yetI tried 'em before the sale commenced. But forty
The stupidity and extravagance of some people silenced him for a
moment, then he continued: My Lizzie, now, she knows better how to
spend money. She bought ten dollars' worth of flavors and soap and
things like that and she got in the bargain a big chest of drawers
bigger than this old one, and it was polished up finer and had a
looking-glass on the top yet. That man must have a lot of money to give
forty dollars for one piece of furniture! Achin answer to a
remonstrance from his companionthey can't hear me. I don't talk
loud, and anyhow, they're listening to the auctioneer. That girl with
him has a funny streak too. She bought the old cradle and then I heard
her tell Hetty that she just bought it for fun and she gave it to
Hetty. So, is that man Phares Eby from near Greenwald? Well, I thought
he'd have too much sense to buy such a thing for forty dollars, but
some people gets crazy when they get to a sale. Who ever heard of a
person buying a cradle for fun and giving it away? But I guess that
cradles went out of style some time ago. My girl Lizzie wasn't raised
with funny notions like some girls have nowadays, but when she was
married and had her first baby and we told her she could borrow the old
cradle she was rocked in to put her baby in, she said she didn't want
it, for cradles ain't healthy for babies, it is bad to rock babies! I
guess that was her man's dumb notion, for he's a professor in the High
School where they live, but he's just Jake Forney's John. They get
along fine, but they do some dumb things. They let that baby yell till
he found out that he wouldn't get rocked. It made her mom quite sick
when we were up to visit them, and sometimes we'd sneak rocking it a
little, just so the little fellow'd know there is such a thing as
getting rocked. They don't want any person to kiss that baby, neither.
Course I ain't in favor of everybody kissing a baby, but I can't see
the hurt of its own people kissing it. We used to take it behind the
door and kiss it good, and it's living yet. Ain't, Eph, it's a wonder
we ever growed up, the way we were bounced and rocked and joggled and
kissed! I say it ain't right to go back on cradles; they belong to
babies. But look, Eph, there she's buying them old copper sheep bells!
Wonder if she keeps sheep.
Phoebe, triumphant bidder for a pair of hand-beaten copper sheep
bells, turned and looked at the farmer. The tenderness of a bright
smile still played about her lips and the old man, interpreting the
smile as a personal greeting to him, drew near and spoke to her.
I can tell you what to take to clean them bells.
Thank you, she answered cordially, but I do not want to clean
But you can make them shiny if you take
You are very kind, but I really want to keep them just as they
The old man looked at her for a moment, then shook his head as
though in perplexity and turned away.
Several more hours of vigorous work on the part of the noisy
auctioneer resulted in the sale of the miscellaneous collection of
The loquacious old farmer was often moved to whistle or to emit a
low Gosh as the sale progressed and seemingly valueless articles were
sold for high prices. A linen homespun table-cloth, woven in
geometrical design, occasioned spirited bidding, but the man on the box
was equal to the task and closed the bids at twenty dollars. Homespun
linen towels were bought eagerly for seven, eight, nine dollars. A
genuine buffalo robe was knocked down to a bidder at the price of
eighty dollars. Cups and saucers and plates sold for from two to four
dollars each. But it was an old blue glass bottle that provoked the
greatest sensation. Gosh, who wants that? said the old man as the
bottle was brought forth. If he throws a cup or plate in with it mebbe
somebody will give a penny for it.
But a moment later, as an antique dealer started the bid at a dollar
the old man spluttered, Jimminy pats! Why, it's just an old glass
Some person enlightened himit was Stiegel glass! After the first
bid on the bottle every one became attentive. The two rival bidders
were alert to every move of the auctioneer, the bids leapt up and
upten dollarseleven dollarstwelve dollarsthirteen dollarsgone
at thirteen dollars!
It was late afternoon when Phoebe and the preacher turned homeward.
The preacher's purchase had to be left at the farm until he could
return for it in the big farm wagon, but Phoebe thought of the highboy
as they rode along the pleasant country roads. She remembered the
expression she had caught on the face of Phares and the remembrance
troubled her. She sought desperately for some topic of conversation
that would lead the man's thoughts from the highboy and prevent the
return of the mood she had discovered at the sale.
YouPhares, she began confusedly, you are going to baptize this
next time, Aunt Maria thought.
The preacher looked at the girl. The exhilarating influence of the
early June outdoors was visible in her countenance. Her eyes sparkled,
her cheeks glowedshe seemed the epitome of innocent, happy girlhood.
The vision charmed the preacher and caused the blood to course more
swiftly through his veins, but he bit his lip and steadied his voice to
speak naturally. Yes, Phoebe, I want to speak to you about that.
Oh, dear, she thought, now I have done it! Why did I start
him on that subject! Some of the excessive color faded from her face
and she looked ahead as he spoke.
Phoebe, the second Sunday in June I am going to baptize a number of
converts in the Chicques near your home. Are you ready to come with the
rest, and give up the vanities of the world?
Oh, Phares, why do you ask me? I can't wear plain clothes while I
love pretty ones. I can't be a hypocrite.
But surely, Phoebe, you see that a simple life is more conducive to
happiness than a complex, artificial life can possibly be. It is my
duty to strive for the saving of souls and we have been friends so long
that I take a special interest in you and desire to see you safe in the
shelter of the Church.
Phares, I'll tell you frankly, if I ever wear plain garb it will be
because I feel that it is the right thing for me to do, not
because some person persuades me to.
Of course, that is the only way to come. But can't you come now?
I can't. I hurt you when I say that, but I want you to be my good
friend, as always, in spite of my worldliness. Will you, Phares?
He opened his lips to speak, but she went on quickly: Because I am
learning every day how much I need the help and friendship of all my
He longed to throw down the reins he was holding and tell her what
was in his heart, but something in her manner, her peculiar stress on
the word friendship restrained him. She was, after all, only a child.
Only eighteentoo young to think of marriage. He could wait a while
longer before he told her of his love and his desire to marry her.
I will, Phoebe, he promised. I'll be your friend, always.
I thought so, she breathed deeply in relief. I knew you wouldn't
fail me. Look at that field, Pharesoh, this is a perfect day! There
should be a superlative form of perfect for a day like this! Those
fields have as many colors as the shades reflected on a copper plate:
lilac, tan, purple, rose, green and brown.
The preacher answered a mere Yes. She turned again and looked at
the fields they were passing. Perhaps, she thought, before that corn
is ripe I'll be in Philadelphia! But she did not utter the thought,
for she knew the preacher would not approve of her going to the city.
He should know nothing about it until it was definitely settled.
The thought of studying music in Philadelphia left her restless. If
only the preacher would be more talkative!
It's just perfect to-day, isn't it, Phares? she asked radiantly,
resolved to make him talk. But his answers were so perfunctory that she
turned her head, made a little grimace through the open side of the
carriage and mentally dubbed him Bump-on-log. Very well, if he felt
indisposed to talk to her, she could enjoy the drive without his voice!
Suddenly she laughed outright.
What he looked at her, puzzled.
What's funny? she finished. You.
Yes, you. If sales affect you like this you must be careful to
avoid them. You've been half asleep for the last half hour. I think the
horse knows the way home; you haven't been driving at all.
I have not been asleep, he contradicted gravely, just thinking.
Must be deep thoughts.
They wereshall I tell them to you?
Oh, no, not to-day! she cried. I've had enough excitement for one
day. Some other time. Besides, we are almost home.
After that he threw off his lethargic manner and entered the girl's
mood of appreciation of the lavish loveliness of the June. Yet, as
Phoebe alighted from the carriage at the little gate of the Metz farm,
and after she had thanked him and started through the yard to the
house, she said softly to herself, If Phares Eby isn't the queerest
person I know! Just like a clam one minute and just lovely the next!
Maria Metz was dishing a panful of fried potatoes as Phoebe entered
Hello, daddy, Aunt Maria, exclaimed the girl.
So you come once? said her aunt.
Have a good time? asked her father.
Yes, it was a fine sale, a real old-fashioned one.
But Aunt Maria was impatient for her supper. Hurry, she said, and
get washed to eat. I have everything out and it'll get cold, then it
ain't good. Did Phares like the sale? What did he have to say?
Um, guess he liked it, said the girl with a shrug of her
shoulders. It's hard to tell what he likeshe's such a queer person.
He said he's going to baptize the second Sunday of June and asked me if
I want to come with the others.
He did! Aunt Maria could not keep the eagerness out of her voice.
Well, let's sit down and eat.
After a short grace she turned to the girl. Now then, she said as
she helped herself generously to sausage and potatoes and handed the
dishes across the table to Phoebe, tell us about it.
There isn't much to tell. I just told him that I can't renounce the
pleasures of the world before I had a chance to take hold of them. I'm
not ready yet to dress plain.
Why aren't you ready? asked the woman.
Ach, don't ask me, Phoebe replied, speaking lightly in an effort
to conceal her real feeling. I just didn't come to that state yet. I
want some more fun and pleasure before I think only of serious things.
You're just like a big baby, her aunt said impatiently. You can
hurt a good man like Phares Eby and come home and laugh about it.
Now, Maria, interposed the father, let her laugh; she'll meet
with crying soon enough, I guess.
But the woman could not be easily silenced. Some day, Phoebe,
you'll wish you'd been nicer to Phares.
Why, I am nice to him.
Well, anyhow, I think it's soon time you give up the world and its
vanities, said Aunt Maria.
The girl's teasing mood fled. I think, she said slowly, that the
plain dress should not be worn by any one who does not realize all that
the dress stands for. If I ever turn plain I'll do so because I feel it
is the right thing to do, but just now vanity and the love of pretty
clothes are still in my heart.
After the meal was over the women washed the dishes while Jacob went
out to attend to the evening milking. Later, when the poultry houses
and stables were locked he returned to the kitchen and read the weekly
paper. After a while he turned to Phoebe.
Will you sing for me this evening? he asked.
Yes, came the ready response.
Then make the door shut, Aunt Maria directed as they went to the
sitting-room. I want to mark my rug yet this evening and your noise
CHAPTER XI. THE BRIGHT LEXICON OF
WHAT shall I sing? Phoebe asked as her father sank into the big
rocker and she took her place at the low organ.
Ach, anything, he replied.
She smiled, turned the pages of an old music book, and began to
sing, Annie Laurie. Her father nodded approval and smiled when she
followed that with several other old-time favorites. Then she hesitated
a moment, a low melody came from the organ, and the words of the
beautiful lullaby fell from her lips:
Sweet and low, sweet and low,
Wind of the western sea;
Low, low,breathe and blow,
Wind of the western sea;
Over the rolling waters go,
Come from the dying moon and blow,
Blow him again to me,
While my little one, while my pretty one sleeps.
Phoebe sang the lullaby as gently as if a tiny head were nestled
against her bosom. She had within her, as has every normal, unspoiled
woman, the loving impulses and yearning tenderness of motherhood. Her
womanhood's star of hope shone brightly, though from a great distance;
she devoutly hoped for the fulfillment of her destiny, but always
dreamed of it coming in some time far removed from the present.
Wifehood and motherhoodthat was her goal, but long years of other
joys and other achievements stretched between. Yet she felt an
incomparable joy as she sang the lullaby. She sang it easily and
sweetly and uttered each word with the freedom of one to whom music is
To the man who listened memory drew aside the curtains of twenty
years. He beheld again the sweet-faced wife glorified with the blessed
halo of motherhood. He thrilled at the remembrance of her intense
rapture as she clasped her babe in moments of vivid ecstasy, or held it
tenderly in her arms as she sang the slumber song. The man was lost in
reverythe sweet voice of the mother had suddenly grown weak and
drifted into silencea silence which would have been intolerable save
for the lisping of a child voice that was filled with the same
indefinable sweetness the treasured, silenced voice had possessed. In
those first days of bereavement Jacob Metz had clung to his motherless
babe for comfort; her love and caresses had renewed his strength and
touched him with a divine sense of his responsibility. His
toil-hardened hands could not do the mother's tasks for her but his
heart could love sufficiently to recompense, so far as that be
possible, for the loss of the mother's presence. His own childhood had
been stripped of all romance, hence he could not measure the value of
the innocent pleasures of which Aunt Maria, in her stern and narrow
discipline, deprived the little girl; but so far as he saw the light
and so far as he was able, he quietly soothed where Aunt Maria
irritated, and mitigated by his interest and sympathy the sternness of
the woman's rule.
A fleeting retrospect of the past years crowded upon him as he heard
Phoebe sing the mother's song. The two voices seemed strangely merged
and blended; when she ended and turned her face to him she seemed the
vivid reincarnation of that other Phoebe.
That's a pretty song, isn't it, daddy? You like it?
Yes. Your mom used to sing you to sleep with it.
I wish I could remember. I can't remember her at all, the girl
I wish you could, too. You look just like her. I'm glad you do. We
Metz people all have the black hair and dark eyes but you have your
mom's light hair and blue eyes. I see her every time I look at you.
She seated herself near him. In a moment he spoke again, very
deliberately, with his characteristic expressiveness:
Phoebe, I want you to know more about your mom. You know she was
plain, a member of our Church. I would like you to dress like she did
but I don't want you to dress that way and then be dissatisfied and go
back to the dress of the world. Not many people do that, but those that
do are the laughing-stock of the world. I don't want you coaxed to be
plain and then not stay plain. I tell you this because I can see that
you are just like your mom was, you like pretty things so much. She
came in the Church with some girls she knew; none of her people were
plain. I knew her right after she joined, and I took her to Love Feasts
and to Meetings and we were soon promised to marry each other. I saw
that something was troubling her and she told me that she wanted pretty
clothes again and wanted to go to parties and picnics like some of the
other girls she knew. But because she cared for me and was promised to
me she kept on dressing plain. So we were married. The second year you
came and then she was satisfied without pretty dresses. She said to me
once, 'Jacob, I was foolish to fret about pretty clothes and jewelry,
they could not bring happiness, but this'she looked down at
you'this is the most precious, most beautiful jewel any woman could
have.' I knew then that the love of vanity was gone from her, that she
would never be tempted to go back to the dress and ways of the world.
For a moment there was silence in the big room. The memory of the
days when the home circle was unbroken left the father quiet and
thoughtful and strangely touched Phoebe.
I am glad you told me, daddy, she said presently. To-day when
Phares talked about the baptizing he seemed so confident and at peace
in his religion, yet I could not promise to come into the Church and
wear the plain dress. I am going to think about it
Here Aunt Maria called loudly, Phoebe, come out here once.
Phoebe sighed, then turned from her father and entered the kitchen.
The older woman was bending over an oblong frame and by the aid of a
small steel hook was pulling tufts of cloth through the mesh of a piece
of burlap, the foundation of a hooked rug.
See once, Phoebe, won't this be pretty till it's done?
Yes, very pretty. I like the Wall of Troy design you are using, and
the blues and gray will be a good combination. What are you going to do
It's for your chest.
The girl laughed. Aunt Maria, you'll have to enlarge that chest or
buy a second one. This spring when we cleaned house and had all the
things of that chest hung out to air, I counted eleven quilts, six
rugs, five table-cloths, ten gingham aprons, ever so many towels,
besides all the old homespun linen I have in that other chest on the
garret. I'll never need all that.
Why, you don't know. If you marry
But if I don't marry?
Ach, I guess old maids need covers and aprons and things as well as
them that marry. But now I guess I'll stop for to-night. I want to sew
the hooks 'n' eyes on my every-day dress yet before I go to bed.
But before you go I want to ask you, to talk with you and daddy,
said Phoebe, determined to decide the matter of studying music in
Philadelphia. The uncertainty of it was growing to be a strain upon
her. If there was no possibility of her dreams becoming realities she
would put the thoughts away from her, but she wanted the question
Now what Aunt Maria raised her spectacles to her forehead and
looked at the girl, at her flushed cheeks, her eyes darkened by
So, the woman chuckled, Phares picked up spunk once and asked
Phares has nothing to do with it, Phoebe said curtly, her cheeks
flushing deeper at the thought of the words she knew her aunt was ready
to say. This is my affair, and, of course, yours and daddy's. She
turned to her fatherI want to study music.
Music? Howyou mean to learn to play the organ? he asked.
No. Oh, no! I mean to sing. Listen, please, she pleaded as she saw
the bewildered look on his face. You know I have always liked to sing.
I have told you that many people have said my voice is good. So I'd
like to go to Philadelphia and take lessons from a good teacher. May I?
I can use the money I have in the bank, that my mother left me. I have
about a thousand dollars. It won't take all of that for a few years'
lessons. Daddy, if you'll only say I may go! Her voice wavered
suspiciously at the end.
Jacob Metz looked at his daughter, then at the little low organ in
the other room. Another Phoebe had loved to sit at that instrument and
singperhaps he was too easy with the girlbut if she wanted to go
away and take lessons
Before he could answer the plea Maria Metz found her voice and spoke
Jacob Metz, goodness knows you're sometimes dumb enough to do
foolish things, but you surely ain't goin' to leave Phoebe go off to
learn singing! Throwing away money like that! And what good is to come
of it, I'd like to know. Who put that dumb notion in her head, it just
now vonders me! If she must go away somewheres to school, like all the
young ones think they must nowadays, why not leave her go to
Millersville or to Elizabethtown or to Lancaster to learn dressmakin'?
But to Philadelphywhy, that's a big city! Anyhow, I can't see the use
of all this flyin' around to school. We didn't get it when we was
young, and we growed up, too. We was lucky if we got to the country
school regular, and we got through the world so far!
But Maria, her brother spoke gently, you know things have changed
since we went to school. The world don't stay the same.
But to learn music! she placed a scornful accent on the last word.
What good will that do? And can't any one in Greenwald or Lancaster,
even, learn her to sing? Anyhow, she don't need no lessons, she hollers
too loud already. If she takes lessons yet what'll she do?
Oh, Aunt Maria, Phoebe said impatiently, you don't understand! If
my voice is worth training it is worth having a good teacher. A city
like Philadelphia is the place to go to.
But where would you stay down there? Mebbe you couldn't get a place
with nice people. Abody don't know what kinda people live in a city.
I've thought of that. I wrote to Miss Lee last week and asked her
and she wrote back and said it would be a splendid thing for me. She
offered to help me find a boarding place. I could see her often and
would not be alone among strangers. Best of all, Miss Lee has a cousin
who plays the violin and who lives with her and her mother and he will
help me find a good teacher. Isn't that lovely?
Omph, sniffed Aunt Maria. It'll cost you a lot of money for
board, mebbe as much as four dollars a week! And your lessons will be a
lot, and your car fare back and forth. Then I guess you'd want a lot
more dresses and thingsach, you just put that dumb notion from your
Maria, Phoebe's father spoke in significantly even tones, you
needn't talk like that. Phoebe has the money her mom left her and I
guess I could send her to school if I wanted to. It won't hurt her to
go study music and see something of the world. It'll do her good to get
away once like other girls.
Do her good, echoed Aunt Maria. Jacob Metz! You know little of
the dangers of the big cities! But then, men ain't got no sense! I
never met one yet that had enough to fill a thimble!
Aunt Maria, the girl said gently, I'm not a child. I'm eighteen
and I'll be near Miss Lee and her friends.
And the fiddler, added the woman tartly.
Ach, Phoebe laughed. Miss Lee will take care of me.
Mebbe so, grumbled Aunt Maria.
Now look here, Maria, Jacob spoke up, Phoebe can go this fall
once and try it and she can come home often and if she don't like it
she can come home right away. It takes only three hours to go to there.
So, Phoebe, you write to Miss Lee and tell her to expect you.
Then I may go! She threw her arms about her father's neck and
kissed his bearded face. Demonstrations of affection were rare in the
Metz household, but the father smiled as he stroked the girl's hair.
You be a good girl, Phoebe, that's all I want, he said.
I will, daddy, I will!
Then, Maria, you take Phoebe to Lancaster and get things ready so
she can go in September. I'll let her take that thousand she has in the
bank, but that must reach; it's enough for music lessons.
I won't need all of it. What's left I'll save for next year.
Next year! How many years must you go? demanded Aunt Maria, still
unhappy and sore.
I don't know. But when the thousand is gone I'll earn more if I
want to spend more.
Ach, my, groaned the woman, you talk like money grew on trees!
What's the world comin' to nowadays? She rose and pushed her rugging
frame into a corner of the kitchen.
Maria, her brother suggested, we can get a hired girl if the
work's too much for you alone.
Hired girl! I don't want no hired girl! Half of 'em don't do to
suit, anyhow! I don't just want Phoebe here to help to work. It'll be
awful lonesome with her gone.
Phoebe saw the glint of anguish in the dark eyes and felt that her
aunt's protestations were partly due to a disinclination to be parted
from the child she had reared.
Aunt Maria, she said kindly, I hate to do what you think I
shouldn't do, for you're good to me. You mustn't feel that I'm doing
this just to be contrary. You and I think differently, that's all.
Perhaps I'm too young to always think right, but I don't want you to be
hurt. I'll come home often.
Ach, yes well, the woman was touched by the girl's tenderness, but
was still unconvinced. Not much use my saying more, I guess. You and
your pop will do what you like. You're a Metz, too, and hard to change
when you make up your mind once.
That night when Phoebe went to bed in her old-fashioned walnut bed
she lay awake for hours, dreaming of the future. If Aunt Maria had
known the visions that flitted before the girl that night she would
have quaked in apprehension, for Phoebe finally drifted into slumber on
clouds of glory, forecasts of the wonderful time when, as a prima donna
in trailing, shimmering gown, she would have the world at her feet
while she sang, sang, sang!
CHAPTER XII. THE PREACHER'S WOOING
THERE belonged to the Metz farm an old stone quarry which Phoebe
learned to love in early childhood and which, as she grew older, she
adopted as her refuge and dreaming-place.
Almost directly opposite the green gate at the country road was a
narrow lane which led to the quarry. It was bordered on the right by a
thickly interlaced hedge of blackberry bushes and wild honeysuckle,
beyond which stood the orchard of the Metz farm. On the left of the
lane a wide field sloped up along the road leading to the summit of the
hill where the schoolhouse and the meeting-house stood. The lane was
always inviting. It was the fair road to a fairer spot, the old stone
The old stone quarry banked its rugged height against the side of a
great wooded hill. Some twenty feet below the level of the lane was a
huge semicircular base, and from this the jagged sides reared
perpendicularly to the summit of the hill. The top and slopes of this
hill were covered with a dense growth of underbrush and trees. Tall
sycamores bordered the road opposite the quarry, making the spot
sheltered and secluded.
To this place Phoebe hurried the morning after she had gained her
father's consent to go to Philadelphia.
I just had to come here, she breathed rapturously; the house is
too narrow, the garden too small, this June morning. They won't hold my
She stood under the giant sycamore opposite the quarry and looked
appreciatively about her. Earth's warm, throbbing bosom thrilled with
the universal joy of parentage and fruition. Shafts of sunlight shot
through the green of the trees, odors of wild flowers mingled with the
fresh, woodsy fragrance of the fields and woods, song sparrows flitted
busily among the hedges and sang their delicious, Maids, maids, maids,
hang on your tea kettle-ettle-ettle! From the densest portions of the
woods above the quarry a thrush sangall nature seemed atune with
Phoebe's mood, blithe, happy, joyous!
Phares Eby, going to town that morning, walked slowly as he neared
the Metz farm and looked for a glimpse of Phoebe. He saw, instead, the
portly figure of Aunt Maria as she walked about her garden to see the
progress of her early June peas.
Why, Phares, she called, you goin' to Greenwald?
Yes. Anything I can do for you?
Ach no. Phoebe was in the other day. But come in once, Phares, I'll
tell you something about her.
Where is Phoebe? he asked as he joined Aunt Maria in the garden.
Over at the quarry again. But I must tell you, she's goin' to
Phildelphy to study singin'. She asked her pop and he said she dare.
Yes. I don't like it at all, but she's goin' just the same.
It is a mistake to let her go, said the preacher. It's a big
mistake, Aunt Maria. She should stay at home or go to some school and
learn something of value to her. In this quiet place she has never
heard of many temptations which, in the city, she must meet face to
face. It is the voice of the Tempter urging her to do this thing and we
who are her friends should persuade her to remain in her good home and
near the friends who care for her. Have you thought, Aunt Maria, that
the people to whom she will go may dance and play cards and do many
worldly things? Philadelphia is very different from Greenwald. Why, she
may learn to indulge in worldly amusements and to love the vanities of
the world which we have tried to teach her to avoid! She will be like a
bird in a strange nest.
I know, Phares, but I can't make it different. When Jacob says a
thing once it's hard to change him, and she is like that too. They
fixed it up last night and I had no say at all. All I said against her
going did as much good as if I said it to the chairs in the kitchen.
Phoebe is going to get Miss Lee, the one that was teacher on the hill
once, to help her. And Miss Lee has a cousin that lives with her and he
plays the fiddle and he is goin' to get a teacher for her.
Phares Eby groaned and gritted his teeth.
I guess I'll go talk with her a while, he decided.
Mebbe she'll come in soon, if you want to wait. I told her to bring
me some pennyroyal along from the field next the quarry. You know
that's so good for them little red ants, and they got into my jelly
cupboard. She went a while ago and I guess she'll soon be back now.
I think I'll walk over.
All right, Phares. Tell her not to forget the pennyroyal.
With long strides the preacher crossed the road and started up the
lane to the quarry. There he slackened his pacehe thought of the
previous day when he had asked Phoebe about entering the Church. She
had disappointed him, it was true, but she had seemed so eager to do
right, so innocent and childlike, that the interview had not left him
wholly unhappy or greatly discouraged. He had hoped last night that she
would give the matter of her soul's salvation serious thought, that she
would soon stand in the stream and be baptized by him. Over sanguine he
had beenso soon she had forgotten serious things and planned a winter
in Philadelphia studying music.
I must act, he thought. I must tell her of my love. All these
years I have loved her and kept silent about it because I thought she
was just a child. But I must tell her now. If she loves me she shall
marry me soon and this great temptation will leave her; she will
hearken to the voice of her conscience, and we will begin our life of
With this resolution strong within him he went up the lane to the
quarry and Phoebe.
She was seated on a rock under the giant sycamore and leaned
confidingly against the shaggy trunk. The glaring sunshine that fell
upon the fields and hills could not wholly penetrate the protecting
canopy of well-proportioned sycamore leaves; only a few quivering rays
fell upon the girl's upturned face.
As the preacher approached she looked around quickly but did not
move from her caressing attitude by the tree.
Good-morning, Phares. I'm glad you came. I was wishing for some one
to share the old quarry with me this morning.
Aunt Maria told me you were hereshe is impatient for her
pennyroyal. Now, that the supreme moment had arrived, he hesitated and
grasped at the first straw for conversation.
Oh, dear, she said childishly, Aunt Maria expects me to remember
ants and pennyroyal when I come here. Phares, I can't explain it, but
this old quarry has a strange fascination for me. The beauty in its
variegated stone with the sunlight upon it attracts me. Sometimes I am
tempted to climb up the hill and hang over the quarry and look down
into the heart of it.
Don't ever do that! cried the preacher.
I won't, laughed Phoebe. I don't want to die just yet. But isn't
it the loveliest place! I come here often when the men are not
blasting. It seems almost a desecration to blast these rocks when we
think how long nature took in their making.
She paused . . . only the sounds of nature invaded the quiet of the
place: the drowsy hum of diligent bees, the cattle browsing in a field
near by, the ecstatic trill of a bird. The world of bustle and flurry
with its seething vats of evil and corruption, its sordid discontent
and petulance, its ways of pain and darkness, seemed far removed from
that place of peace and calm solitude. Phoebe could not bear to think
that across the seas men were lying in the filth of water-soaked
trenches, agonizing and bleeding on the battlefields and suffering
nameless tortures in hospitals that a peace like unto the peace of her
quiet haven might brood undisturbed over the world in future
generations. She dismissed the harrowing thought of warshe would
enjoy the calm of her quarry.
The preacher had listened silently to the girl's rhapsodiesshe
suddenly awakened to the realization that he was paying scant attention
to her enthusiastic words. She looked at him, her heart-beats
quickened, some intuition warned her of the imminent declaration.
She rose quickly from the embrace of the sycamore tree, but the
compelling eyes of the preacher restrained her from flight. She stood
before him, within reach of his hands.
His first words reassured her somewhat: Phoebe, your aunt has told
me that you are going to Philadelphia to study music.
Yes. Isn't it fine! I'm so happy she stopped. Displeasure was
written plainly upon his countenance. Don't you think it's all right,
I think it is a great mistake, he said gravely. Why not spend
your time on something of value to yourself and your friends and the
world in general?
But music is of great value. Why, the world needs it as it needs
But, Phoebe, you must remember you do not come of a people who
stand before the worldly and lift their voices for the joy of the
multitude of curious people. Your voice is right as it is and needs no
training. It is as God gave it to you and is made to be used in His
service, in His Church and your home.
But I have always wanted to learn to sing well, really well. So I
am going to Philadelphia this winter and take lessons from a competent
Phoebe, exhorted the preacher, put away the temptation before it
grips you so strongly that you cannot shake it off. You must not go!
He spoke the last words in a tone of authority which the girl
answered, Phares, let us speak of something else. You know I have some
of the Metz determination in my make-up and I can't be easily forced to
give up a cherished plan. At any rate, we must not quarrel about it.
The preacher forbore to try further argument or persuasion. He
became grave. His habitual serenity of mind was disturbed by shadowy
forebodingswhen the pebbles of doubt drop into the placid pool of
content it invariably follows that the waters become agitated for a
time. Hitherto he had been hopeful of winning Phoebe. Had he not known
her and loved her all her life! What was more natural than that their
friendship should culminate in a deeper feeling!
He stretched out his hand in a sudden rush of feelingPhoebe, I
She stepped back a pace and his hand fell to his side.
Don't, Phares, she began, but the next moment she realized that
she could not turn aside his love without listening to him.
Phoebe, you must listenI love you, I have loved you all my life.
Can't you say that you care for me?
Don't ask me that! she pleaded. I don't want to marry anybody
now. All my life I have dreamed of going to a city and studying music
and I can't let the opportunity slip away from me now when it is so
near. To work under the direction of a master teacher has long been one
of my dearest dreams.
You mean that you do not love me, then. Or if you do, that you
would rather gratify your desire to study music than marry mewhich is
Ach, Phares, don't make it hard for me! I said I don't want to get
married now. All my life I have lived on a farm and have thought that I
should be wonderfully happy if I could get away from it for a while and
know what it is to live in a big city. There I shall have a chance to
see life in its broader aspects. I shall not be harmed by gathering new
ideas and ideals, gaining new friends, and, above all, learning to sing
The man groaned in spirit. It was evident that she was thoroughly
determined to go away from the farm.
Phoebe, he pleaded again, not entirely for his own selfish desire,
but worried about her love of worldliness, do you know that the things
for which you are going to the city are really not important, that all
outward acquisitions for which you long now are transient? The things
that count are goodness and purity and to be without them is to be
pauperized; the things that bring happiness are love and home ties and
to be without them is to be desolate. You want a larger, broader
vision, but the city cannot always give you that.
There was no bitterness in his voice, only an undertone of sadness
as he spoke. Phoebe, tell me plainly, do you care for me?
Her face was lamentably pathetic as she looked into his and read
there the desire for what she could not give. Not as you wish, she
said softly. But I don't really know what love is yet, I haven't
thought about it except as something that will come to me some day, a
long time from now. There are too many other things I must think about
now. When I am through studying music I'll think about being married.
The preacher shook his head; his heart was too heavy for more words,
more futile words.
Let us go, Phares, she said, the silence becoming intolerable.
Yes, he agreed. And Phoebe, he added as they turned away from
the quarry, I hope you'll learn your lesson quickly and come back to
They stepped from the sheltered path into the sunshine of the lane.
Long trails of green lay in their path as they went, but the eyes of
both were temporarily blinded to the loveliness of the June. When they
reached the dusty road the preacher said good-bye and went on his way
to the town.
She stood where he left her; the suppressed feelings of the past
half hour soon struggled to avenge themselves and she sped down the
lane again, back to the refuge of the kindly tree, and there, under her
sycamore, burst into passionate weeping.
Some time after Phares left the girl at the end of the lane David
Eby came swinging down the hill and entered the Metz kitchen.
Hello, Aunt Maria. Where's Phoebe?
Why, I guess over at the quarry. She went for pennyroyal long ago
and then Phares came and he went over after her, but I saw him go on
the way to town a bit ago, so I guess she's still over there. Guess
she's stumbling around after a bird's nest or picking some weeds that
ain't no good. I don't see why she stays so long.
I'll go see, volunteered David.
Yes well. And tell her to hurry with that pennyroyal. I want it for
red ants, but they can carry away the whole jelly cupboard till she
I'll tell her, said David, and went off, whistling.
Phoebe's paroxysm of grief was short-lived. The soothing quiet of
the quarry calmed her, but her eyes showed telltale marks of tears as
David's steps sounded down the lane.
She rose hastily, then sank back to her seat under the tree as she
saw the identity of the intruder.
Whew, Phoebe Metz, he said and whistled in his old, boyish way as
he sat beside her, you're crying!
I am not, she declared.
Then you just have been! I haven't seen you in tears for many
years. Phoebehe changed his tonewhat's gone wrong? Anything the
Don't, she sniffed, don't ask me or you'll have me at it again.
She steadied her voice and went on, I came over here so gloriously
happy I could have shouted, because daddy said last night that I may go
to Philadelphia this fall
Gee whiz! David grabbed her hand. Why, I'm tickled to death. But
whatwhy are you crying? Isn't that what you want?
Yes. She smiled, pleased by his interest and eagerness. But just
as I was happiest along came Phares and told me it was wicked to go.
It's all a mistake to go, he said.
Ach, the dickens with the old fossil! David cried. And I'm not
going to take that back or be sorry for saying it. Hadn't he better
sense than to throw a wet blanket on all your happiness!
Perhaps I needed it. I was just about burning up with gladness.
Well, don't you care what he's thinking about it. You go learn
music if you want to and your father lets you go. Did he see you cry?
Certainly not! I wouldn't cry before him. He would say that was
foolish or wicked or something it shouldn't be. But youyou are so
sensible I don't mind if you do see me with my eyes red.
Ha, ha, that's a compliment. I have been told that I am
happy-go-lucky and sort of a cheerful idiot, but no person ever told me
that I'm sensible. Well, don't you forget me when you get to be that
I won't. You and Mother Bab rub me the right way.
But won't she be glad when I tell her, said David. I came down to
see if you had decided about it, and I find it all arranged.
And me in tears, added Phoebe, her natural poise and good humor
again restored. Tell Mother Bab I am coming up soon to tell her about
So, in happier mood, she walked beside David, down the green lane to
the road, across the road to her own gate.
So you come once! Aunt Maria greeted her.
Oh, I forgot your pennyroyal! I'll go get it.
Never mind. You stayed so long I went over to the field near the
barn and got some. But you look like you've been cryin', Phoebe. Did
you and Phares have a fall-out?
You and David, then?
Noplease don't ask meit's nothing.
Well, there ain't no man in shoe leather worth cryin' about, I can
tell you that. They just laugh at your cryin'.
Phoebe smiled at her aunt's philosophy and resolved to forget the
discouraging words of the preacher. She would be happy in spite of
himthe future held bright hours for her!
CHAPTER XIII. THE SCARLET TANAGER
THE days that followed were busy days at the gray farmhouse. Phoebe
was soon deep in the preparations for her stay in the city. Her meagre
wardrobe required replenishment; she wanted to go to Philadelphia with
an outfit of which Miss Lee would not be ashamed. Much to her aunt's
surprise the girl selected one-piece dresses of blue serge with sheer
white collars for every-day wear in cold weather; a few white linens
for warm days; and these, with her blue serge suit, her simple white
graduation dress, and a plain dark silk dress, were the main articles
of her outfit. Aunt Maria expressed her relief and wonder at the girl's
choiceWell, it wonders me that you don't want a lot of ugly fancy
things to go to Phildelphy. Those dresses all made in one are sensible
once. I guess the style makers tried all the outlandish styles they
could think of and had to make a nice style once.
But when Phoebe purchased a piece of long-cloth and began to make
undergarments, beautifying them by sprays of hand embroidery, Aunt
Maria scoffed, Umph, I'd be ashamed to put snake-doctors on my
The girl laughed. They aren't snake-doctors, they are butterflies,
Not much differenceboth got wings. I don't see what for you want
to waste time like that.
It makes them prettier, and I like pretty things.
Ach, you have dumb notions sometimes. I guess we better make your
other dresses soon, then you won't have time for sewing snake-doctors
or butterflies. You better get your silk dress made in Greenwald, it's
so soft and slippery that I ain't going to bother my old fingers makin'
it. Granny Hogendobler wants to come out and help to sew, and David's
mom said she'll come down and help us cut and fit the serge dresses.
She's real handy like that. If those dresses look as nice on you as
they do on the pictures they will be all right. Granny and Barb dare
just come and both help with your thingsthey both think it's so fine
for you to go to the city! Granny Hogendobler spoiled her Nason by
givin' him just what he wanted, and now what has she got for it? And I
guess Barb is easy with that big boy of hers. Mebbe if she was a little
stricter he'd be in the Church like Phares is, though David is a nice
boy and I guess he don't give his mom any trouble.
I just love Mother Bab; don't you say such things about her!
Phoebe exclaimed, her eyes flashing.
Why, I like her too, the woman said. She looked at Phoebe in
surprise. You needn't be so touchy. For goodness' sake, don't take to
gettin' touchy like some people are! Handling them's like tryin' to
plane over a knot in wood; any way you push the plane is the wrong way.
This here going to Philadelphy upsets you, I guess. You're gettin' as
touchy as the little touch-me-nots we get on the hill; they all snap
shut when you touch 'emonly you snap open.
Phoebe laughed. I guess I am excited, she admitted. I'm sewing
too much for summer days and it makes me irritable. I think I'll let
the butterflies wait and I'll go outdoors. Shall I weed the garden?
Weed the garden? Now you're talkin' dumb! Don't you know yet that
abody don't weed a garden on Fridays? Ours always gets done on Monday.
But if you want to get out you dare take some of the sand-tarts I baked
yesterday up to David's mom, she likes them so much. And you ask her if
she can come down next week to help with the dresses. But don't stay
too long, for it's been so hot all day and I think it's goin' to storm
Don't worry about me if it rains. I won't start for home if it
looks threatening. I'll wait till the storm is over.
Aunt Maria filled a basket with her delectable cookies and the girl
started up the hill. It was, indeed, a hot day, even for August. Phoebe
paused several times in the shelter of overhanging trees as she plodded
up the steep road. On the summit she climbed the rail fence and perched
in the cool shade for a little while and looked out over the valley
where the town of Greenwald lay.
It's lovely here, and I'm wondering how I can be happy when I know
that I am going to leave it soon and go to the city for a long winter
away from my home. But there's a voice calling to me from the great
outside world and I won't be satisfied until I go and mingle with the
multitude of a great city. It is life, life, that I want to see and
know. And yet, I'm glad I'll have this to come back to! It gives me a
comfortable feeling to know that this is waiting for me, no matter
where I gothis is still my home. Sometimes I wonder if Aunt Maria
could possibly be speaking wisely when she says it is all a waste of
money to run off to the city and study music. But what is there on the
farm to attract me? I don't want to marry yetthe remembrance of
Phares Eby's pleading came to herand if I do marry some time, it
won't be Phares. No, never Phares! Ach, Phoebe Metz, you don't know
what you want! she said to herself as she jumped from the fence and
ran down the road to the Eby farm.
At the gate she paused. Mother Bab stood among her flowers, her
white-capped head bare of any other covering, the hot sunshine
streaming upon her.
Mother Bab, she cried, you are simply baking in the sun!
No, the woman turned to Phoebe and smiled. I'm forgetting it's
hot while I look at the flowers. You see, Phoebe, I was in the house
sewing and trying to keep cool and all of a sudden my eyes grew dim so
I couldn't sew. The fear came to me, the fear that my sight is going,
though I try not to strain them at all and never sew at night. Well, I
just ran out here and began to look and look at my flowersif I ever
do go blind I'm going to have lots of memories of lovely things I've
Phoebe drew Mother Bab's face to her and kissed it. You just
mustn't get blind! It would be too dreadful. There are many clever
specialists in the city these days. Surely, there is some doctor who
can help you.
They all say there is little to be done in a case like mine. But,
let's forget it; I can see and we'll keep on hoping it will last. I
went to a doctor at Lancaster some time ago and I'm going to give him a
fair trial. I guess it'll come out right.
Phoebe brightened again at the woman's words of contagious cheer and
Isn't the garden pretty? asked Mother Bab as they looked about it.
Perfect! Those zinnias are lovely.
Yes, I like them. But I like their other name betterYouth and Old
Age, my mother used to call them. She used to say that they are not
like other flowers, more like people, for the buds open into tiny
flowers and those tiny flowers grow and develop until they are large
and perfect. I would think something fine were missing in my garden if
I didn't have my Youth and Old Age every year. But you will be too hot
in this sun; shall we go in?
No, please, not until I have seen the flowers. I need to gather
precious memories, too, to take with me to Philadelphia. Oh, I like
thisshe knelt in the narrow path and buried her face in fragrant
lemon verbena plants.
I like that, too. Mother used to call it Joy Everlasting. We always
put it in our bureau drawers between the linens. David likes lavender
better, so I use that now.
How you spoil him, said Phoebe.
You think so? asked the mother gently.
Phoebe smiled in retraction of her statement. We'll both be
parboiled if we stay out here any longer, she said as she linked her
arm into Mother Bab's. Aunt Maria sent you some sand-tarts.
Isn't she good!
Yes, butthe blue eyes twinkled mischievouslythey are just a
bribe. We want you to come down and help us with the dresses some day
next week. You are not to sew, but if you are there to tell about the
fit of them I'll feel better satisfied. Whew! If it's as hot as this
I'll have a lovely time fitting woolen dresses!
You won't mind.
I don't believe I shall, so long as the dresses are to be worn in
Philadelphia. Granny Hogendobler is coming out, too. Will you come?
I'll be glad to. David can eat his dinner at his aunt's.
They entered the house and sat in the sitting-room, a room dear to
both because of its association with many happy hours.
I love this room, Phoebe said. This must be one of my pleasant
memories when I go.
I like it better than any other room in the house, said Mother
Bab. I suppose it's because the old clock and the haircloth sofa are
in it. Why, Davie used to slide down the ends of that sofa and call it
his boat when he was just a little fellow. And that old clockher
voice sank to the tenderness of musing retrospectwhy, Davie's father
set it up the day we were married and came here and set up housekeeping
and it's been ticking ever since. Davie used to say 'tick-tock' when he
heard it, when he first learned to talk. I like that old clock most as
much as if it were something alive. A man who comes around here to buy
antique furniture came in one day and offered to buy it. I'll never
forget how David told him it wasn't for sale. The very thought of
selling the old clock made Davie cross.
Davie cross! How could he keep the twinkle out of his eyes long
enough to be cross?
Ach, it don't last long when he gets cross.
Where is he now, Mother Bab?
Working in the tobacco field.
In the hot sun!
He says he don't mind it. He's so pleased with the tobacco this
summer. It looks fine. If the hail don't get in it now it'll bring
about four hundred dollars, he thinks. That will be the most he has
ever gotten out of it. But tobacco is an awful risk. If the weather is
just so it pays about the best of anything around this part of the
country, I guess, but so often the poor farmers work hard in the
tobacco fields and then the hail comes along and all is spoiled. But
ours is fine so far.
I'm glad. David has been working hard all summer with it.
Sometimes he gets discouraged; Phares's crops always seem to do
better than David's, yet David works just as hard. But Phares plants no
At that moment Phares Eby himself came into the room where the two
sat. He appeared a trifle embarrassed when he saw Phoebe. Since the
June meeting under the sycamore tree by the old stone quarry he had
made no special effort to see her, and the several times they had met
in that time he had greeted her with marked restraint.
Good-afternoon, he murmured, looking from Phoebe to Mother Bab and
back again to Phoebe. I didn't know you were here, Phoebe. IAunt
Barbara, I came in to tell you there's a bright red bird in the woods
down by the cornfield.
There is! cried Phoebe with much interest. Is it all red, or has
it black wings and tail?
Why, I couldn't say. I know David and Aunt Barbara are always
interested in birds and I heard David say the other day that he hadn't
seen a red bird this summer, that they must be getting scarce around
this section. So I thought I'd come up and tell you about it. I know it
is bright red. Do you want to come out and try to find it again, Aunt
Not now, Phares. I have been in the sun so much to-day that my head
Would you care to see it? he asked Phoebe in visible hesitation.
She answered eagerly, her passionate love of birds mastering her
embarrassment. I'd love to, Phares! I am anxious to see whether it's a
tanager or a cardinal. I have never seen a cardinal.
South of David Eby's cornfield stretched a strip of woodland. There
blackberry brambles tangled about the bases of great oaks and the
entire woodstrees and bramblesmade an ideal nesting-place for
Perhaps it's gone, said the preacher as they went along to the
But it's worth trying for, she said.
They kept silent then; only the rustling of the corn was heard as
the two went through the green aisle. When they reached the woodland a
sudden burst of glorious melody came to them. Phoebe laid a hand
impulsively upon the arm of the preacher, but she removed it quite as
suddenly when he looked down at her and said, Our bird!
The bird, a scarlet tanager, aware of the presence of the intruders
and eager to attract attention to himself and safeguard his hidden
mate, flew to an exposed branch of an oak tree. There he displayed his
gorgeous, flaming scarlet body with its touch of black in wings and
It's a tanager, said Phoebe. Isn't he lovely!
Very fine, said the preacher. What color is his mate? Is she
She's green, a lovely olive green. When she sits on the nest she's
just the color of her surroundings. If she were red like her mate she'd
be too easily destroyed.
God's providence, said the preacher.
It is wonderfullook, Phares, there he goes!
The scarlet tanager made a streak of vivid color across the sky as
he flew off over the corn.
I wonder if he trusts us or if his mate is not about, Phoebe said.
He's a beauty, so is his mate in her green frock. A few minutes with
the birds can teach us a great deal, can't it?
Yes, Phoebe, here, right near your home, are countless lessons to
be learned and accomplishments to be acquired. Tell me, do you still
wish to go away to the city?
Certainly. I am going in September.
You remember the verse in the Third Reader we used to have at
'Stay, stay at home, my heart and rest;
Home-keeping hearts are happiest.
For those who wander, they know not where,
Are full of trouble and full of care;
To stay at home is best.'
But I have ambitions, Phares. All my eighteen years of life have
been spent on a farm, in the narrow existence of those whose days are
passed within one little circle. I want to see things, I want to meet
people, I want to live, I want to learn to singI can't do any of
these things here. Oh, you can't understand my real sincerity in this
desire to get away. It is not that I love my home and my people less
than you love yours. I feel that I must get away!
But your voice, Phoebe, like the scarlet tanager's, is right as God
made it. Because we are such old friends it grieves me to see you go. I
was hoping you would change your mindthere is so much vanity and evil
in the city.
I'll try to keep from it, Phares. I shall merely learn to sing
better, meet a few new people, and be wiser because of the experience.
It is useless to try to persuade you, I suppose. I hoped you would
reconsider it, that you would learn to care for me as I care.
Phares, don't. You make me unhappy.
Misery loves company, he quoted, trying to smile.
But can't you see that marriage is the thing I am thinking least
about these days? I am too young.
She looked, indeed, like a fair representation of Youth as she stood
by the crude rail fence at the edge of the woods, one arm flung along
the rough top rail, her hair tumbled from the walk through the
cornfield, her eyes still gleaming with the joy of seeing the tanager,
yet shadowy with the startled emotions occasioned by the preacher's
He looked at her
Oh, look! Our tanager is back! she exclaimed.
I guess she is too young, he thought as he saw how quickly she
turned from the question of marriage to watch the red bird.
Phoebe's lips parted in pleasure as she saw the tanager again take
up his place on the oak and burst into song. So absorbed were man and
maid that neither heard the rustle of parted corn nor were aware of the
presence of a third person until a voice exclaimed, Oh, I beg your
pardon. I didn't know you were here.
As they turned David Eby stood before them, his expression a
mingling of surprise and wonder. The flush on Phoebe's face, the
awakened look in her eyes, troubled the man who had come through the
corn and found the girl he loved standing with the preacher. The
self-conscious look on the preacher's face assured David that he had
stumbled through the field in an awkward moment, that his presence was
unwelcome. He turned to go back, but Phoebe stepped quickly to him and
took his hand.
Ah, thought Phares with a twinge of jealousy, she wouldn't do
that to me. How quickly she dropped her hand a while ago. They are such
good friends, she and David. It's wrong to be envious; I must fight
against itand yetI want her just as much as David does!
David, Phoebe begged, come back! Why, I was just wishing you were
here! There's a scarlet tanagersee! She pointed to the brilliant
I thought he was coming to this woods so I came to hunt him, said
David, his irritation gone. I saw that fellow over by the tobacco
field and followed him here. I bet they have their nest in this very
woods. We'll look better next spring and try to find it and see the
little ones. Tut, tut, he whistled to the bird, don't sing your
pretty head off. His eyes turned to the sky and the smile left his
face. It looks threatening, he said. I thought I heard thunder as I
came through the corn.
That so? said Phares. Then we better move in.
Even as they turned and started through the field the thunder came
againdistantnearer, rolling in ominous rumbles.
Look at the sky, said David. Clear yellowthat means hail!
Oh, DavidPhoebe stood still and looked at himnot hail on your
He took her arm. Come on, Phoebe, it's coming fast. We must get in.
Come to our house, Phares, that's the nearest.
Just as they reached the kitchen door, where Mother Bab was looking
for them, the hail came.
It's hail, Mommie, David said. The three words held all the worry
and pain of his heart.
Never mindthe little mother patted his shoulder. It's hail for
more people than we know, perhaps for some who are much poorer than we
But the tobacco He stood by the window, impotent and weak,
while the devastating hail pounded and rattled and smote the broad
leaves of his tobacco and rendered it almost worthless.
Won't new leaves grow again? Phoebe tried to cheer him.
Not this late in the summer. My tobacco was almost ready to be cut;
it was unusually early this year.
Well, spoke up the preacher, I can't see why you always plant
tobacco. Smoking and chewing tobacco are filthy habits. I can't see why
so many people of this section plant the weed when the soil could be
used to produce some useful grain or vegetable.
YesDavid turned and addressed his cousin fiercelyit's easy
enough for you to talk! You with your big farm and orchards and every
crop a success! Your bank account is so fat that you don't need to care
whether your acres bring in a big return or a lean one. But when you
have just a few acres you plant the thing that will be likely to bring
in the most money. You know many poor people plant tobacco for that
reason, and that is why I plant it.
Davie, the mother said, Davie!
I know, he said bitterly. I'm a beast when my temper gets beyond
control, but Phares can be so confounded irritating, he rubs salt in
your cuts every time.
Just for healing, the mother said gently.
David, said Phoebe, I guess the temper is a little bit of that
Irish showing up.
At that David smiled, then laughed.
Phoebe, he said, you know how to rub people the right way. If
ever I have the blues you are just the right medicine.
I don't want to be called medicine, she said with a shake of her
Not even a sugar pill? asked Mother Bab.
No. I don't like the sound of pill.
David looked across at the preacher, who stood silent and helpless
in the swift tide of conversation. You may be right, Phares. It may be
the wrath of Providence upon the tobacco. I'll try alfalfa in that
field next and then I'll rub Aladdin's lamp. I'll make some money
Where do you find Aladdin's lamp? asked Phoebe.
I can't tell you now. But I know I'm tired of slaving and having
nothing for my work, so I am going after the magic lamp.
CHAPTER XIV. ALADDIN'S LAMP
THE morning after the hail storm dawned fair and sunshiny. David
went out and stood at the edge of his tobacco field. All about him the
hail had wrought its destruction. Where yesterday broad, thick leaves
of green tobacco had stood out strong and vigorous there hung only limp
shreds, punctured and torn into worthlessness.
All wasted, my summer's work. I'll rub that magic lamp now. Fool
that I was, not to do it sooner!
A little later, as he walked down the road to town, his lips were
closed in a resolute line, his shoulders squared in soldierly fashion.
I hope Caleb Warner is in his office, he thought.
Caleb Warner was in; he greeted David cordially.
Good-morning, Dave. How are things out your way? Hail do much
Some damage, echoed the farmer. It hailed just about four hundred
dollars' worth too much for me.
What, you don't say so! That's the trouble with your farming.
Caleb Warner was an affable little man with a frank, almost
innocent, look on his smooth-shaven face. Spontaneous interest in his
friends' affairs made him an agreeable companion and helped materially
to increase his clienteleCaleb Warner dealt in real estate and,
incidentally, in oil stocks and gold stocks.
That's just the trouble with your farming, he repeated. You slave
and break your back and crops are fine and you hope to have a good
return for your labor, when along comes a hail storm and ruins your
fruit or tobacco or corn, or along comes a dry spell or a wet spell
with the same result. It sounds mighty fine to say the farmer is the
most independent person on the face of the earthit's a different
proposition when you try it out. Not so?
I'm about convinced you speak the truth about it, said the farmer.
I know I do. I used to be a farmer, but I have grown wiser. I think
there are too many other ways to make money with less risk.
That is why I came David hesitated, but the other man waited
silently for the explanation. Have you any more of the gold-mine stock
you offered me some time ago?
That Nevada mine?
Just one thousand dollars' worth; the rest is all cleaned out. I
sold a thousand yesterday. Listen, Dave, there's the chance of your
life. You know how I worked on that farm of mine, how my wife had to
slave, how even Mary had to work hard. Then one day a friend of mine
who had gone west came to me and offered me some stock in a western
gold mine. My wife was afraid of it, said I'd lose every cent I put in
it and we'd have to go to the poorhousewomen don't generally
understand about investments. But I went ahead and got the stock, and
in a few years I sold out part of it for a neat sum and drew big
dividends on what I kept. Then we moved to town; my wife keeps a maid,
Mary goes to college, and we're living instead of slaving our lives
away on a farm. And it's honestly made money, for the gold was put into
the earth for us to use. It is just a case of running a little risk,
but no person loses money because of your risk. Of course, there's lots
of stock sold that's not worth the paper it's written on, but I don't
sell that kind.
People trust you here, said David.
If the man winced or had reason to do so, he betrayed no sign of it.
I hope so, he said. You have known me all my life. If I ever want to
work any skin game I'll go out of the place where all my friends are.
This mine of which I speak is near the mine at Goldfield and some of
the veins struck recently are richer than those of the renowned
Goldfield. They are still striking deeper veins. I have sold stock in
that mine to fifteen people in this town.
He mentioned some of the residents of Greenwald; people who, in
David's opinion, were too shrewd to be entangled in any nefarious
investment. The names impressed Davidif those fifteen put their money
into it he might as well be the sixteenth.
In a little while David Eby walked home with a paper representing
the ownership of a number of shares of a certain gold mine in Nevada,
while Caleb Warner patted musingly a check for five hundred dollars.
Mother Bab wondered at her boy's philosophical acceptance of his
crop failure. I'm glad you take it this way, she said as he came in,
whistling, from his trip to Greenwald.
What's the use of crying? he answered gaily, though he felt far
from gay. Had he been too hasty? Doubts began to assail him. It was
going to be hard to deceive his mother, she was always so eager for his
confidence. But, then, he was doing it for her sake as much as for his
own. The war clouds were drawing nearer and nearer to this country; if
the time came when America would enter the war he would have to answer
the call for help. If the stock turned out to be what the other wise
men of the town felt confident it would be then the added money would
be a boon to his mother while he was away in the service of his
countryand yetit was a great risk he was running. Why had he done
it? The old lines of the poem came back to him and burned into his
O what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive.
Then, again, swift upon that thought came the old proverb, Nothing
venture, nothing gain. Thus he was torn between doubt and
satisfaction, but it was too late to undo the deed. He was the owner of
the stock and Caleb Warner had the five hundred dollars!
CHAPTER XV. THE FLEDGLING'S FLIGHT
PHOEBE found the packing of her trunk a task not altogether without
pain. As she gathered her few treasures from her room a feeling of
desolation seemed to pervade the place. Going away from home for the
first long stay, however bright the new place of sojourn, brings to
most hearts an undercurrent of sadness.
She smiled a bit wistfully at her few treasuresher books, an old
picture of her mother, the little Testament Aunt Maria gave her to
read, the few trinkets her school friends had given her from time to
time, a little kodak picture of Mother Bab and David in the flower
At last the dreary task was done, the trunk strapped, and she was
ready for the journey. It was a perfect September day when she left the
gray farmhouse, drove in the country road and stood with her father,
Aunt Maria, Mother Bab, David and Phares at the railroad station in
Greenwald and waited for the noon train to Philadelphia.
Jacob Metz and the preacher made brave, though visible, efforts to
be cheerful; Maria Metz made no effort to be anything except very
greatly worried and anxious; but Mother Bab and David were determined
that the girl's departure was to be nothing less than pleasant.
Now be sure, Phoebe, said Aunt Maria for the tenth time, to ask
the conductor at Reading if that train is for Phildelphy before you get
on, and at Phildelphy you wait till Miss Lee fetches you.
Yes, Aunt Maria, I'll be careful.
And don't lose your trunk checkDavid, did you give it to her for
Yes. She'll hold on to it, don't you worry.
Phoebe will be all right, said Mother Bab.
And, said David teasingly, be sure to let me know when you need
that beet juice and cream and flour.
Davie! Now for that I won't write to you!
Yes you will! His eyes looked so long into hers that she said
confusedly, Ach, I'll write. Mind that you take good care of Mother
Bab and stop in sometimes to see how Aunt Maria and daddy are getting
on without me.
Ach, we'll be all right, said Aunt Maria. Just you take care of
yourself so far away from home. And if you get homesick you come right
home. Anyway, you come home soon to see us; and be sure to write every
A shrill whistle announced the approach of the train. There were
hurried kisses and good-byes, a handshake for the preacher and, last of
all, a handshake for David. He held her hand so long that she cried
out, David, you'll make me miss the train!
Good-bye, David. Then she tugged at her hand and in a moment was
hurrying to the train.
There were few passengers that day, so the train made a short stop.
Phoebe smiled as the train started, leaned forward and waved till the
familiar group was lost to her view, then she settled herself with a
brave little smile and looked at the well-known fields and meadows she
was passing. The trees on Cemetery Hill were silhouetted against the
blue sky just as she had seen them many times in her walks about the
But soon the old landmarks disappeared and unknown fields lay about
her. Crude rail fences divided acres of rustling corn from orchards
whose trees were laden with red apples or downy peaches. Occasionally
flocks of startled birds rose from fields freshly plowed for the fall
sowing of wheat. Huge red barns and spacious open tobacco sheds, hung
with drying tobacco, gave evidence of the prosperity of the farmers of
that section. Little schoolhouses were dotted here and there along the
road. Flowers bloomed by the wayside and in them Phoebe was especially
interested. Goldenrod in such great profusion that it seemed the very
sunshine of the skies was imprisoned in flower form, stag-horn sumac
with its grape-like clusters of red adding brilliancy to the
landscapeeverywhere was manifest the dawn of autumnal glory, the
splendor that foreruns decay, the beauty that is but the first step in
nature's transition from blossom and harvest to mystery and sleep.
Every two or three miles the train stopped at little stations and
then Phoebe leaned from her window to see the beautiful stretches of
At one flag station the train was signalled and came to a stop. Just
outside Phoebe's window stood a tall farmer. He rubbed his fingers
through his hair and stared curiously at the train.
Step lively, shouted the trainman.
But the farmer shook his head. Ach, I don't want on your train! I
expected some folks from Lititz and thought they'd be on this here
train. Didn't none get on
But the angry trainman had heard enough. He pulled the cord and the
train started, leaving the old man alone, his eyes scanning the moving
Phoebe laughed. We Pennsylvania Dutch do funny things! I wonder if
I'll seem strange and foolish to the people I shall meet in the great
At Reading she obeyed Aunt Maria's injunction and boarded the proper
train. The ride along the winding Schuylkill was thoroughly enjoyed by
the country girl, but the picture changed when the country was left
behind, suburban Philadelphia passed, and the train entered the crowded
heart of the city. They passed close to dark houses grimy with the
accumulated smoke of many passing locomotives. Great factories loomed
before the train, factories where girls looked up for a moment at the
whirring cars and turned again to the grinding life of loom or machine.
The sight disheartened Phoebe. Was life in the city like that for some
girls? How dreadful to be shut up in a factory while outdoors the whole
panorama of the seasons moved on! She would miss the fields and woods
but she would make the sacrifice gladly if she might only see life,
meet people and learn to sing. The thoughts awakened by the sight of
the shut-in girls were not happy ones. She welcomed the call, Reading
As she followed the stream of fellow passengers and walked through
the dim train shed to the exit her heart beat more quicklyshe was
really in Philadelphia! But the noise, the stream of people rushing
from trains past other people rushing to trains, bewildered her. She
saw the sea of faces beyond the iron gates and experienced for the
first time the loneliness that comes to a traveler who enters a
thronged depot and sees a host of people but enters unwelcomed and
However, the loneliness was momentary. The next minute she caught
sight of Miss Lee. A wave of relief and happiness swept over hershe
was in Philadelphia, the land of her heart's desire!
CHAPTER XVI. PHOEBE'S DIARY
I'M in Philadelphiareally, truly! Phoebe Metz, late of a gray
farmhouse in Lancaster County, is sitting in a beautiful room of the
Lee residence, Philadelphia.
What a lot of things I have to write in you, diary! I can scarcely
find the beginning. Before I left home I thought about keeping a diary,
how entertaining it would be to sit down when I'm old and gray and read
the accounts of my first winter in the city. So I went to Greenwald and
bought the fattest note-book I could find and I'm going to write in you
all of my joyslet's hope there won't be any sorrowsand all of my
pleasures and all about my impressions of places and people in this
great, wonderful City of Brotherly Love. Of course, I'll write letters
home and to David and Mother Bab and some of the girls, but there are
so many things one can't tell others yet likes to remember. So you'll
have to be my safety valve, confidant and confessor.
When I left the train at Philadelphia I was bewildered and confused.
Such crowds I never saw, not even in Lancaster. Seemed like everybody
in the city was coming from a train or running to one. I was glad to
see Miss Lee. She's the dearest person! I love her as much as I did
when I went to her school on the hill. I'm as tall as she is now. She
dresses beautifully. I thought my blue serge suit was lovely but her
clothes arewell, I suppose you'd call them creations. I'm so glad I'm
going to be near her all winter and can copy from her.
As I came through the gates at the depot she caught me and kissed
me. I thought she was alone, but a moment later she turned to a tall
man and introduced him, her cousin, Royal Lee, the musician. If Aunt
Maria could see him she'd warn me again, as she did repeatedly, not to
leave that fiddlin' man get too friendly. He's handsome. I never
before met a man like him. His magnetic smile, his low voice attracted
me right away.
After he piloted us through the crowded depot and into a taxicab
Miss Lee began to ask me questions about Greenwald and the people she
knows there. I felt rather timid, for I was conscious of the appraising
eyes of her cousin. He didn't stare at me, yet every time I glanced at
him his eyes were searching my face. Does he think me very countrified,
I wonder? I do have the red cheeks country girls are always credited
with, but I'm glad I'm not buxom. I'd hate to be fat!
I wish I could describe Royal Lee. He's just as I pictured him, only
more so. He has the lean, æsthetic face of the musician, the sensitive
nostrils and thin lips denoting acute temperament. His eyes are gray.
As we rode through the streets of the city Miss Lee told me her
mother would have me stay with them until we can find a suitable
boarding place. To-morrow we're going in search of one.
Taxicabs travel pretty fast. We skirted past curbs so that I almost
held my breath and shot past trucks and other cars till I thought we'd
surely land in the street. But we escaped safely and soon stopped at
the Lee residence, a big, imposing brownstone house. It looks bare
outside, no yard, no flowers. But inside it's a lovely place, so
inviting and attractive that I'd like to settle down for life in it.
Mrs. Lee is as charming as her daughter. She has been a semi-invalid
for years, but even in her wheelchair she has the poise and manner of
one well born. Her greeting was so cordial and gracious, but all I
could answer was an inane, Thank you, you are very kind. Will I ever
learn to express my thoughts as charmingly as these people do, I
When Miss Lee took me up-stairs it was up a bare, polished stairway
upon which I was half afraid to tread. And the room she took me to!
I've heard about such rooms and read about them. Delft blue paper and
rugs, white woodwork and furniture, blue hangings, white curtainsit's
a magazine-room turned to real!
When I tried to express my gratitude for her goodness Miss Lee
hushed me with a kiss and said she anticipated as much joy from my
presence in the city as I did, that I was so genuine and refreshing
that it would be a pleasure to have me around. I don't know just what
she means. I'm just Phoebe Metz, nothing wonderful about me, unless
it's my voice, and I hope that is. She said, too, that I would make her
very happy if I'd let her be a real friend to me, and if I'd call her
Virginia. Why, that's just what I've been wishing for! I told her so.
She is just twelve years older than I am, so she's near the thirty mark
yet, and I like a friend who is older. She seems just the same Miss
Lee, no older than she was when I walked down the street of Greenwald
in my gingham dress and checked sunbonnet and buried my nose in the
pink rose David gave me. How lucky that little country girl is! I'm
here in Philadelphia, in a beautiful house, with Virginia Lee for my
friend, and glorious visions of music and good times flashing before my
eyes. I put my hands to my head to keep it from going dizzy!
There's a little speck of cloud in the blue of my joy right now,
though. I'm afraid I've blundered already. Miss LeeVirginia, I
meansaid as she turned to leave my room that they have dinner at six
and I'd have plenty of time to get ready for it. I had to tell her that
I couldn't change my dress, that I hadn't thought to bring any light
dress in my bag but had packed them all in the trunk. She hurried to
assure me that my dark skirt and white blouse would do very well, that
she would not dress for dinner to-night. But I feel sure that she
seldom appears at the dinner table in a blouse and tailored skirt.
Guess Aunt Maria'd say I'm in a place too tony for me, but I know I can
learn how to do here. I might have remembered that some people make of
their evening meal a formal one. I've read about dressing for dinner
and when my first opportunity comes to do so it finds me with all my
dress-up dresses packed in a trunk in the express office! Perhaps it
serves me right for wanting to put on style, but I remember an old
saying about doing as the Romans do. At any rate, I'm going to make
the best of it and quit worrying about it, or I'll be so fussed I'll
eat with my knife or pour my coffee into my saucer!
Later in the evening.
What a whirl my brain is in! Things happen so fast that I scarcely
know where to begin again to write about them. But it began with the
dinner. That was the grandest dinner I ever tasted but I don't remember
a single thing I ate, though I do know there was no bread or jelly.
What would Aunt Maria think of that! The delicate china, fine linen and
silver were the loveliest I have ever seen. There were electric lights
with soft-colored shades and there was a colored waiter who seemed to
move without effort. The forks and spoons for the different courses
bothered me. I had to glance at Virginia to see which one to use. Once
during the dinner I thought of the time Mollie Brubaker told Aunt Maria
about a dinner she had in the home of a city relative. I remember how
Aunt Maria sniffed, Humph, if abody's right hungry you can eat without
such dumb style put on. I say when you cook and carry things to the
table for people you don't need to feed them yet, they can help
themselves. Just so it's clean and cooked good and enough to go round,
that's all I try for when I get company to eat. I felt like a fish out
of water at the Lee dinner table, but Mrs. Lee and the others were so
kind and tactful that I could not be embarrassed, not enough to show
it. However, I thought to myself as we rose from the table, Thank
Mrs. Lee asked me whether I like music. We were in the sitting-room
and Mr. Lee stood by the piano, his hand on his violin case.
Yes, indeed! I told her, for I was anxious to hear him play. I
have never heard any great violinist but the sound of a violin sets me
thrilling. I could listen to it for hours.
Mr. Lee smiled at my enthusiasm, lifted the instrument to his
shoulder and began to play. If I live to be a hundred I'll never forget
that music! Like the soothing winds of summer, the subtle fragrance of
a wild rose, the elusive phantoms of our dreams, it stirred my soul. I
sat as one dazed when he ended.
You say nothing. Don't you like my music? he asked me.
Like your music? Like is too poor a word! And I tried to tell him
how I loved it. He smiled again, that calling, hypnotizing smile, that
made me want to rush to him and ask him to be my friend. But I
restrained myself and turned to listen to Virginia. The music haunted
me. It sounded like the voice of a soul searching for something it
could never find. I was still dreaming about it when I heard Mr. Lee
say, Now, Aunt, shall we have some cribbage? I watched him
uncomprehendingly as he arranged a small table and brought out cards
and boards for a game. The full significance of his actions dawned upon
methey were going to play cards! I had never seen a game of cards,
but Aunt Maria taught me long ago that cards are the instrument of the
Evil One. My first impulse was to run from the room, away from the
cards, but I hated to be so rude.
Do you play cards? Royal Lee asked me.
No, oh, no! I gasped.
You should learn. I'm sure you would enjoy playing.
I know my face flushed. He did not notice my bewilderment and went
on, We'll teach you to play, Miss Metz. Then he turned to the game.
Virginia came to my rescue and drew me to a seat near her. She asked
me questions about Greenwald. Goodness only knows what I answered her.
My attention was a variant. Troubled thoughts distressed me. In Aunt
Maria's category of sins dancing, card playing and theatre-going rank
side by side with lying, stealing and idolatry. As I sat there I tried
to reconcile my opinion of these worldly pleasures with the conduct of
my new friends. The tangle is too complicated to unravel at once. I
could feel blushes of shame staining my cheeks as the game progressed.
What would Aunt Maria say, what would daddy say, what would even
tolerant Mother Bab say, if they knew I sat passively by and watched a
game of cards? After a little while I asked Virginia whether I could
write a letter to Aunt Maria and tell her of my safe arrival. I just
had to get out of that room! I don't know if she saw through my ruse
but she smiled as she put her arm around me and led me to the stairs.
There's a desk in your room, Phoebe. You can be undisturbed there.
Tell your aunt we are going to help you find a comfortable home and
that we are going to take care of you. I'll be up presently to visit
When I got up-stairs I felt like crying. Those cards actually scared
me. I shrank from being so near the evil things. But after a while as I
came to think more calmly I decided that cards couldn't hurt me if I
didn't play them. I promised myself to keep from being contaminated
with the wickedness of the city the while I enjoyed its harmless
pleasures. The first horror of the cards soon passed but it left me
sobered. I wrote a long letter to Aunt Maria and then turned off the
lights and looked down into the city street. It seemed wonderful to me
to see so many lights stretched off until some of them were mere
specks. There was a wedding across the street. I saw the guests and
caught a glimpse of the bride, dressed all in white. But later, when
Virginia came up to my room and I asked her about it she didn't know a
thing about the wedding. Why, at home, if there's a big wedding and the
neighbors don't know about it or are not invited to it, they feel
slighted. But Virginia says a city is different, that you don't really
have neighbors like in Greenwald.
Virginia told me, too, how she came to teach in our school on the
hill. When she finished college she wanted to earn money, just to prove
that she could. Her father wanted her to stay home and live the life of
a butterfly, she says. One day he said, more in jest than earnest, that
if she insisted upon earning money he'd give his consent to her being a
teacher in a rural school. She accepted the challenge and through her
cousin she secured the place on the hill and became my teacher. When
her father died and her mother became a semi-invalid she gave up her
work and took up the old life again. She said that as if it were not
really a desirable life, this going to teas, dances, plays, musicals,
lectures, and having no cares or worries. Of course I know many of her
pleasures are forbidden fruit for me, but if I ever can wear pretty
clothes like hers and go off to an evening musical or concert I know
I'll be as excited as a Jenny Wren.
CHAPTER XVII. DIARYTHE NEW HOME
I'VE dreamed my first dreams in Philadelphia. Such dreams as they
were! Whatever it was I ate for supper it must have been richer than
our Lancaster County sausage and fried mush, for I dreamed all night.
My old-fashioned walnut bed with its red and green calico quilt seemed
to swing before me while Mother Bab and Aunt Maria talked to me. A
clanging trolley car woke me and I remembered that I had been dreaming
of Phares and the tanager's nest. I slept again and heard the strains
of Royal Lee's violin till another car clanged past and woke me. I woke
once to find myself saying, Braid it straight, Davie. Aunt Maria's
awful mad. When I slept again I thought I heard Royal Lee say, We'll
teach you to play cards, and speared tails and horned heads seemed
mixed promiscuously with little pieces of cardboard bearing red and
black symbols and the words I'll get you if you don't watch out rang
in my ears. Ugh, what awful dreams, I thought as I lay awake and
listened for sounds of activity in the house. I missed Aunt Maria's
five o'clock call. The luxury of an eight o'clock breakfast couldn't be
appreciated the first morning, as I was wide awake at five. I'll soon
learn to sleep later. There are many things I shall learn before I go
back to the farm.
This morning Virginia and I started out on a glorious adventure,
looking for a boarding place. She laughed when I called it that.
I like the uncertainty of it, I told her. The charm of the
unknown appeals to me. I do not know under whose roof I shall sleep
to-night yet I'm happy because I know I am going to meet new people and
see new things. Of course, if I did not have you to help me I would
remember Aunt Maria's dire tales of the evils and dangers of a big city
and should feel afraid. As it is, I feel only curious and gay. No
matter where I find a place to live it's bound to be quite different
from the farm, not better, necessarily, but different.
But my high hopes of youth received a jolt at the very first
interview with a boarding-house mistress. She wouldn't take young
ladies who were studying music, their practice would annoy the other
boarders. I had never thought of that!
The second quest was equally unsatisfactory. One room was vacant, a
pleasant roomat twelve dollars a week! The sum left me speechless.
Virginia had to explain that the amount was a trifle more than I
expected to pay.
The third proved to be a smaller house on a narrower street. A
charming old lady led us into a sitting-room. All my life I've been
accustomed to the proverbial cleanliness of the Pennsylvania Dutch but
I'm certain I never saw a place as clean as that house. I said
something like that to its mistress and she informed me with a gentle
firmness I never heard before that she expected every guest in her
house to help to keep it in that condition. She had several rules she
wanted all to obey, so that the sunshine would not have a chance to
fade the rugs and the dust from the street could not ruin things. I
knew I would not be happy there. I like clean rooms, but if it's a
matter of choosing between foul air without dust and fresh air
with dust I'll take the dust every time. I'd feel like a funeral to
live in a house where the curtains and shades were down every day,
summer and winter, to keep the sunshine out of the rooms and prevent
the jade-green and china-blue and old-rose of the rugs from fading.
The fourth place was in suburban Philadelphia, fifty minutes' ride
from the heart of the city. It was a big colonial house set in a great
yard, a relic of the days when gardens still flourished in the city and
the breathing spaces allotted to householders were larger than at the
present time. As we went up the shrubbery-bordered walk to the pillared
porch I said, I want to live here.
Mrs. McCrea, the boarding-house mistress, did not object to the
music, provided I took the large room on the third floor and did all my
practicing between the hours of eight and five, when the other boarders
were gone to business. The price of the room is seven dollars a week.
I took the room at once, before Mrs. McCrea had any chance of
changing her mind. I thought it was a very pleasant room, with its two
windows looking out on the green yard.
But later, after Virginia had gone and I was left alone in the room,
the queerest feeling came over me. I never knew what it meant to be
homesick, but I think I had a touch of it this afternoon in this room.
I hated this place for about half an hour. I saw that the paint is
soiled, the rug worn, the pictures cheap, the bed and bureau trimmed
with gingerbready scrolls and knobs. It's so different from the blue
and white room I slept in last night, so different from my plain,
old-fashioned room at home. It's all right, I said to myself, half
crying, but it's so different.
Fortunately the word different struck a responsive chord in
my memory. I remembered that I wanted different things, and smiled
again and dashed the tears away. I arranged my own pictures and few
belongings about the room and felt more at home. After I had dressed
and stood ready to go down for my first dinner in my new home I felt
happier. To be living, to be young and enthusiastic, to possess the
colossal courage of youth, was enough to bring happiness into my heart
again. I'm going to like this place. I'm going to work and play and
live in this wonderful city.
Mrs. McCrea introduced the New boarder and I took my assigned
place at a long table in the dining-room. I remembered that I once read
that the average boarding-house is a veritable school for students of
human nature. I wondered what I would learn from the people I met
there. The fat man across the table from me gave me no opportunity for
any mental ramblings. He launched me right into conversation by asking
my opinion of the war in Europe and whether or not we would be dragged
into the trouble.
Really, I answered him, I don't know much about it. I don't think
of it any more than I can help.
Of course that was the wrong thing to say. It started a deluge. A
studious-looking woman wearing heavy tortoise-shell rimmed spectacles
took my answer as a personal affront. Why not, Miss Metz? she
demanded. Why should we not think about it? We women of America need
to wake up! In this country we are lolling in ease and safety while
other nations bleed and die that we might remain safe. We have no
thoughts higher than our hats or deeper than our boots if the
catastrophe across the sea does not waken in us an earnest desire to
help the stricken nations.
Others took up the argument and I sat quiet and helpless, for I know
too little about the cause and progress of the war to talk
intelligently about it. A sense of responsibility grazed my soul. I
wished I were able to help France and Belgium, but what can I do? The
constant harping on the subject of war irritated me. I felt relieved
when a young girl near me asked, Miss Metz, do you like the movies?
There's a place near here where they show fine pictures, funny ones to
make you forget the war for several hours, at least.
On the whole, I think I'm going to like life at Mrs. McCrea's
boarding-house. I hear the views of so many different sorts of people.
And it certainly is different from my life on the farm.
CHAPTER XVIII. DIARYTHE MUSIC
MY four days in Philadelphia have just been one exclamation point
after another! The most wonderful thing happened to me last night! Mrs.
Lee invited me over for dinner. I glided through the courses a little
more gracefullyone can learn if the will is there. I always loved
dainty things. I suppose that is why I delight in the Lee home and am
eager to adopt the ways of my new friends.
After dinner Mr. Lee played again. Of course I enjoyed that. When I
praised his playing he said he heard I'm a real genius and asked me to
sing for them. Mr. Krause, one of the best teachers of music in the
city, is a friend of Royal and Virginia thinks he would be the very one
to teach me. Mr. Lee wrote to Mr. Krause this summer and the music
teacher promised to take me for a pupil if I have a voice worth the
trouble. Virginia had prepared me for my meeting with him. Seems he's
queer, odd, cranky and painfully frank. But he knows how to teach music
so well that many would-be singers pray to be taken into his studio.
Mr. Lee said yesterday that Mr. Krause was expected home from his
vacation in a few days and then he'd arrange an interview. I trembled
when he said that. What if the great teacher did not like my voice!
To-night when Mr. Lee asked me to sing I selected a simple song. As
I sat down before the baby grand piano the words of the old song Sweet
and Low came to me. I would sing that until I gained courage and
confidence to sing a harder selection. I played from memory. As I sang
I was back again at home, singing to my father at the close of the day.
As the last words died on my lips and I turned on the chair a man, a
stranger to me, appeared in the room. He hurried unceremoniously to the
piano and greeted me, You can sing!
I stared at him. He was an odd-looking, active little man of about
fifty with keen blue eyes that bored into one like a gimlet.
Mr. Lee came toward us. Mr. Krause, he exclaimed, and presented to
me the music master, the teacher for whom I had dreaded so to sing! I
was filled with inarticulate gladness.
Mr. Krause, I cried, grasping his outstretched hand in my old
impetuous way, do you mean it? Can I learn to sing?
I said soyes. You can sing. You need to learn how to use your
voice but the voice is there.
I'm so glad. I'll work I couldn't say any more. My joy was too
great to be expressed in words. I looked mutely into the wrinkled face
of the man.
Royal said he had found a songbird, he went on smiling, but I was
afraid he didn't know the difference between that and an owlI see he
did. I'll be glad to have you for a pupil. Royal can bring you to my
studio to-morrow at eleven.
Mr. Krause stayed a while longer and the sitting-room was gay with
laughter and bright conversation. I think I heard little of it, though,
for the words, You can sing! kept ringing in my ears and crowding out
all other sounds.
I can sing! Mr. Krause has told me I can sing! And I will sing! Some
day all the world may stop to hear!
CHAPTER XIX. DIARYTHE FIRST LESSON
I HAD my first music lesson to-day. Mr. Lee called for me at the
boarding-house and took me down-town to the studio. After he left I
expected Mr. Krause to begin at once on the do, ra, me, fa, sol, la,
si, do. But he thought differently!
He sat facing me, looking at me till I felt like running. And so,
he said quietly, you want to learn to sing.
Yes, was all I could say.
Well, you have a voice. If you want to work like all great singers
have had to work you can be a singer. You may not set the world afire
with your fame but you'll be worth hearing. You are Pennsylvania
I nodded. What under the sun did Pennsylvania Dutch have to do with
my becoming a singer? I was provoked. I didn't come to the city and pay
a music teacher to ask me foolish questions.
That is good, he went on calmly. The Pennsylvania Dutch are not
afraid of work and that is what you need. The road to success in music
is like the road to success in any other thing, long and hard and
up-hill most of the way. Now that Pennsylvania Dutch is a funny
language. It is neither Dutch nor English nor German but is like hash,
a little of this and a little of that. Do you speak it?
I said I have spoken it all my life but wished I had never been
Why? he asked.
OhI couldn't quite veil my irritationit perverts our
Nothing uncommon, he answered, smiling. Every part of this great
country has some peculiarities of speech common to that particular
section and laughed at in the other sections. Now we will go on with
When he really did begin to teach I found him a wonder. I'm going to
enjoy, thoroughly enjoy, my music lessons.
Mr. Lee called for me after the lesson. I told him I could find the
way back to the boarding-house alone, but he said he'd consider it a
pleasure and privilege to call for me. He has the nicest manners! He
never needs to flounder around for the right thing to say, it just
slips from his tongue like butter. Aunt Maria always says, look out
for them smooth apple-sass talkers, but I'm sure Mr. Lee is a
gentleman and just the right kind for a country girl to know.
When he called at the studio this morning I felt proud to walk away
with him. He suggested riding home but I told him I'd rather walk, at
least part of the way. We started up Chestnut Street. What a wonderful
place that is! Such lovely stores I've never seen. I'm going to sneak
away some day and visit every one that has women's belongings for sale.
And the clothes I saw on Chestnut Streeton the women, I mean! My own
wardrobe certainly is plain and ordinary compared with the things I saw
women wear to-day. I couldn't help saying to Mr. Lee, What lovely
clothes Philadelphia women wear! He smiled that wonderful smile and
said, Miss Metz, a diamond has no need of a glittering case, it has
sufficient brilliancy itself. I caught his meaning, I couldn't help
ithe meant me! Now I know I'm no beauty, but perhaps if I had clothes
like those I saw to-day I'd be more attractive. I wonder if I'll get
them; they must cost lots of money.
As we walked along Mr. Lee told me he knows I'll have a wonderful
year in the city, and that he is going to help it be the gladdest,
merriest one I've ever had.
Oh, you're good, I said.
It must be that goodness inspires goodness, he replied.
I didn't know what to answer. Men up home never say such things, at
least I never heard them. Phares couldn't think of such things to say
and David never made a pretty speech in his life. I know he thinks
nice things about me sometimes but he wouldn't word them like Royal Lee
does. I didn't want Mr. Lee to think I'm uncommonly good, I told him
Not good? He laughed at the idea. Why, you are just a sweet,
lovely young thing knowing nothing of evil.
Oh! I said, feeling stupid before him, you're too polite! I never
met any one like you. But I want to ask you about cards, playing cards.
I can't see that they are wrong but Aunt Maria and my father and all my
friends up home think they are wicked. Aunt Maria would rather part
with her right hand than play a game of cards.
Mr. Lee laughed and said he's surprised that I am willing to accept
the beliefs of others; can't I decide for myself what is wrong or
right? Did I want to be narrow and goody-goody?
Of course I don't want to be like that, and I told him so.
He laughed again, a low, soft laugh. I never heard a man laugh like
that before. When daddy laughs he laughs out loud, the kind of laugh
you join in when you hear it. And David laughs like that too, a merry
laugh that sounds, as he says, like it's coming clean from his boots.
But Mr. Lee's laugh is different. I don't like it as well as the other
kind, though it fascinates me. He said he knows I can't change my ideas
in a night but he depends upon my good sense to decide what is right
for me to do. He asked if I thought Virginia and her mother are wicked.
They have played cards, danced, gone to theatres, all their lives. If I
hope to have a really enjoyable time in the city I must do the same. He
said, too, that I'll soon see that many of the teachings of the country
churches are antiquated and entirely too narrow for this day.
DancingI shuddered at the word, but I didn't tell him how I feel
about it. Aunt Maria says dancing is even worse than playing cards. Why
did he tempt me? I don't want to do wicked things, but when he
mentioned forbidden pleasures I felt, somehow, that I wanted to do what
Virginia does and have a good time with her and her friends. That would
be dreadful! What am I thinking of! Is my head turned already? Can the
evil of the world have exerted its influence upon me so soon? Of
course, if I become a great singer I'll naturally have to live a life
different from the narrow, restricted life of the farm. I must live a
broader, freer life. But for a while, at least, I'll have to be the
same old Phoebe Metz. I tried to tell Mr. Lee something like that, and
If you become a nun, dear,
A friar I will be;
In any cell you run, dear,
Pray look behind for me.
Are city men always free like that? Is it the way of the new world I
have entered? Before I could think of a suitable answer he said
lightly, But before you turn nun let me buy you some flowers.
We stopped at a floral shop. Such flowers! I've never seen their
equal! I exclaimed in many O's as I paused by the window, but I felt my
cheeks flush at the idea of having him buy any of the lovely flowers
Come inside, he said. What do you like?
I love them all, I told him as we stood before the array of
blossoms. I think I like the yellow rosebuds best, though. We have
some at home on the farm but they bloom only in June.
I detected an odd smile on his lips. What was wrong? Had I committed
a breach of etiquette? Was it wrong to mention farms in a city floral
shop? But his courteous, attentive manner returned in an instant. He
watched me pin the yellow roses on my coat, smiled, and led me outside
again. I felt proud as any queen, for those were the first flowers any
man ever bought for me.
CHAPTER XX. DIARYSEEING THE CITY
I HAVE been seeing Philadelphia. Mr. Lee teasingly told me that most
newcomers want to do the city so he and Virginia would take me round.
They took me to see all the places I studied about in history class.
I've done the Betsy Ross House, Franklin's Grave, Old Christ Church and
Old Swede's Church. I like them all. Best of all I like Independence
Hall, with its wonderful stairways and wide window sills and, most
important, its grand old Liberty Bell and its history.
Yesterday Mr. Lee took me to Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park. I like
the pictures and oh, I looked long at a white marble statue of Isaac,
his hands bound for the sacrifice. The face is beautiful. Royal Lee was
amused at my interest in it and took me off to see the rare Chinese
vases. We wandered around among the cases of glassware and then I found
a case with valuable Stiegel glass, made in my own Lancaster County. I
was proud of that! We went through Horticultural Hall and stopped to
see the lovely sunken gardens, with their fall flowers.
I like to go about with Royal Lee. He is so efficient. Crowds seem
to fall back for him. He has the attractive, masterful personality that
everybody recognizes. I feel a reflected glory from his presence. We
have grown to be great friends in an amazingly short time. Our music,
our appreciation of each other's ability, has strengthened the bond
between us. Mrs. Lee sends me many invitations for dinner and week-ends
in her beautiful home, so that Mr. Lee and I are already well
acquainted. He has asked me to call him Royal and if he might call me
Phoebe. I've told him all about my life on the farm, my friends up
there, and the plans and dreams of my heart. He likes to tease me and
call me a little Quakeress, but I don't enjoy that for he does it in a
way I don't like. It sounds as if he's scoffing at the plain people.
When I told him about the meeting house and described the service he
laughed and said that a religion like that might do for a little
country place but it would never do in a city. I bridled at that and
tried to tell him about the wholesome, useful lives those people up
home lead, how much good a woman like Mother Bab can do in the world.
But he could not be easily convinced. He thinks they are crude and
narrow. When I told him they are lovely and fine he challenged me and
asked if I am willing to wear plain clothes and renounce all pleasures,
jewelry and becoming raiment. I had to tell him I'm not ready for that
yet, and he smiled triumphantly. He predicted I'll play cards and dance
before the winter ends. I don't like him when he's so flippant. I want
to be loyal to my home teaching but I see more clearly every day how
great is the difference between the pleasures sanctioned by my people
and those Virginia and her friends enjoy. There's a mystery somewhere I
can't solve. Like Omar, I evermore come out at the same door where in
To-day we went for a long drive along the Wissahickon. The woods are
bronze and scarlet now. The wild asters made me homesick for Lancaster
County. I wanted to get out of the car and walk but Virginia and her
friends wouldn't join me. I wanted to bury my nose in the goldenrod and
astersand get hay fever, one of the girls told meand I just ached
to push my way through the tangled bushes along the road and let the
golden leaves of the hickory and beeches brush my face. It seems that
most city people I have met don't know how to enjoy nature. They have a
nodding-from-a-motor-acquaintance with it but I like a real
handshake-friendship with it. I just wished David were here to-day!
He'd have taken my hand and run me to the top of the hill and picked a
branch of scarlet maple to carry with my goldenrod and asters. Well, I
can't have the penny and the cake. I want to be in the city, of course
that's the thing I most desire at presentI really am having a good
In the evening we went to Holy Trinity Church. The organ recital
gripped my soul. I wanted it to last for hours. And yet when it was
over and the rector stood before us and preached one of his impressive
sermons I was just as much interested as I had been in the music.
There's a feeling of restful calm comes to me in a big dim church with
stained glass windows. We stopped in the Cathedral one day last week.
That is a wonderful place, too. I like the idea of having churches open
all the time for prayer and meditation. I'm learning so many new ideas
these days. If I ever do wear the plain dress I'm sure of one thing,
I'll be broad-minded enough to respect the beliefs of other persons.
I can put another red mark on my calendar. I heard the great Irish
Tenor! Glory, what a voice! It's the kind can echo in your ears to your
dying day and follow you with its sweetness everywhere you go! I have
been humming those lovely Irish songs all day.
But before the recital my heart was heavy. I have no evening gown,
no evening wrap, so I couldn't join the box party to which one of
Virginia's friends invited us. I meant to stay at home and not break up
the party, but Royal insisted upon buying two tickets in a section of
the opera house where a plainer dress would do. In the end I allowed
myself to be persuaded by him and we two went to the recital alone.
When that tenor voice sounded through the place I forgot all about my
limited wardrobe. I could hear him sing if I were dressed in calico and
think of nothing but his singing.
I wrote letters to-day. Mother Bab and David write such lovely ones
to me that I have to try hard to keep up my end of it. Sometimes David
tells me he is anxious to supply me with the beet juice, cream and
flour whenever I'm ready to begin the prima donna act. I can hear his
laugh when I read the letter. Sometimes he's serious and talks about
the crops of their farm and tells me the community news like an old
grandmother. Phares Eby writes me an occasional letter, a stilted
little note that sounds just like Phares. It always has some good
advice in it. Aunt Maria's letters and daddy's come every week. I'd
feel lost without them. I like to feel that everybody I care for at
home is interested in and cares for me even if I am in Philadelphia.
CHAPTER XXI. DIARYCHRYSALIS
I'M as miserable as any mortal can be! Oh, I'm still having a good
time going around seeing the city, visiting the stores and museums,
practicing hard in music, pleasing my teacher. But just the same, I'm
not happy. The reason is this: I want pretty gowns like Virginia wears,
I want to dance and play cards and see real plays. I dare say I'm a
contemptible sinner to want all that after the way I've been brought
up. I ought to be satisfied with all the wonderful things I enjoy in
this big city but I'm not.
Last week Virginia entertained the Bridge Club and tried to persuade
me to learn to play and come to the party. Royal was provoked about it.
He thinks I should learn to play. I told him I should have no peace if
I learned to do such things.
Peace, he scorned, no one has peace these days. The whole world
is in a turmoil. Do you think your little Quaker-like girls of
Lancaster County have peace these days?
They have peace of mind and conscience.
But that, he said, is the peace that touches those who live in
selfish solitude. The virtue that dwells in the hearts of those who
retire into hermitages is a negative virtue.
You speak like a seer, a philosopher, I told him.
Like a rational human being, I hope, he said petulantly. But the
thoughts are not original. I am merely echoing the opinion of sane
thinkers. I have no appreciation of the foolish and useless sacrifice
you are persistently making. We were not put on this planet to be dull
nuns and monks. We have red blood racing through our veins and were not
intended for sluggishness.
He went off peeved at my refusal to do as he wished.
What can I do? Shall I capitulate? I have wrestled with my desire
for pleasure until I'm tired of the struggle. My old contentment has
deserted me. I'm restless and dissatisfied, scarcely knowing what is
right or wrong.
I'm happy again. Being on the fence grows mighty uncomfortable after
a while, so I jumped across. I have decided to become a butterfly!
I had luncheon to-day with Virginia. She had to run off to one of
her Bridge Clubs so I offered to mend the lace on one of her gowns
while she was gone. I was alone in the sitting-room that adjoins
Virginia's bedroom. I love that little sitting-room. Virginia and I
spend many happy hours in it when we want to get away from everybody
and have a long chat. I like its big comfortable winged chairs by the
cheery open fire.
I dreamed a while before the fire, the gown across my knees. It's a
pink gown, that scarcely defined pink of a sea shell. Virginia had
often tempted me to try it on and see how well I'd look in a dress of
that kind. The temptation came to do it. I jumped up in sudden
determination. I would put it on! I'd see for once how I looked
in a real gown. I ran to Virginia's room to the low dressing table. My
hands trembled as I opened the tight coils of my hair and shook it
until it seemed to nod exultingly. I fluffed the curls loosely over my
forehead and twisted the hair into a fashionable knot. Then I took off
my plain blue serge dress and slipped the pink one over my head. The
soft draperies clung to me, the gossamer lace lay upon my breast like a
silken mist. I was beautiful in that gown and I knew it. It was my hour
of appreciation of my own charm.
Later I lifted the dress and saw my plain calfskin shoes. I smiled
but soon grew sober as I thought that the incongruity between gown and
shoes was no greater than that between the gown and the girlthe girl
who was reared to wear plain clothes and be honest and unpretentious.
But honestythat is the rock to which I cling now. I am going to be
honest with myself and have my share of happiness while I'm young.
I went back again to the fire, still wearing the borrowed gown.
Virginia found me there several hours later. When she came in and saw
me, a gorgeous butterfly, she said, she was very happy. She would have
me go down to her mother and Royal. I shrank from it but she said I
might as well become accustomed to being stared at when I was so
dazzling and beautiful. I went down, feeling almost as much of a
culprit as I did the day Aunt Maria surprised me at playing prima donna
and marched me in to the quilting party.
Mrs. Lee was lovely. She is sure I deserve to be happy in my youth.
Royal went mad. Ye Gods! he cried as he ran to me and grasped my
hands. You take my breath away! You are like this! He seized his
violin and began to play the Spring Song. The quivering ecstasy of
spring, the mating calls of robins and orioles, the rushing joy of
bursting blossoms, the delicate perfume of violets and trailing
arbutus, the dazzling shafts of sunlight pierced by silver showers of
capricious Aprilall echoed in the melody of the violin.
You are like that, that is you! he said as he laid his instrument
aside. His words were very sweet to me. The future beckons into sunlit
paths of joy.
So I have departed from the teachings of my childhood and turned to
the so-called vanities of the world. I am going to grasp my share of
happiness while I can enjoy them.
When I went up-stairs again to take off the borrowed gown I was
already planning the new clothes I want to buy. I must have a pink
crepe georgette, a pale, pale bluejust as I'm writing this there
flashes to my mind one of those old Memory Gems I learned in school on
But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flower, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow fall on the river,
A moment white, then melts forever.
I wonder, is there always a fly in the ointment!
CHAPTER XXII. DIARYTRANSFORMATION
A FEW days can make a difference in one's life. I'm well on the way
of being a real butterfly. I have bought new dresses, a real evening
gown and a lovely silk dress to wear to the Bridge Club. It's lucky I
saved my money these three months and had a nice surplus to buy these
Royal is teaching me to play cards. He says I take to them like a
duck to water. Virginia and he are giving me dancing lessons. I love to
dance! The same spirit that prompted me to skip when I wore sunbonnets
is now urging me on to the dance. In a few weeks I'll be ready to join
in the pleasures of my new friends. After the Christmas holidays the
city will be gay until the Lenten season.
I went home for Christmas and I suppose I managed to make everybody
there unhappy and worried. I couldn't let them think I am the same
quiet girl and not tell them about the cards and dancing. Daddy was
hurt, but he didn't scold me. He said plainly that he does not approve
of my course, that he thinks cards and dancing wicked. He added that I
had been taught the difference between right and wrong and was old
enough to see it. Perhaps he thinks I'll run my horns off quicker if
I'm let go, as Aunt Maria often says about people. But she didn't say
that about me. She made up for what daddy didn't say. She begged him to
make me stay at home away from the wicked influences of the city. I had
the hardest time to keep calm and not say mean things to her. She's
ashamed of me and afraid people up there will find out how worldly I
am. I had to tell Mother Bab too. I know I hurt her. She was so gentle
and lovely about it that I felt half inclined to tell her I'd give up
everything she didn't approve of, just to please her. But I didn't. I
couldn't do that when I know I'm not doing anything wrong. She changed
the subject and inquired about my music. In that I was able to please
her. She shared my joy when I told her of my critical music master's
approval of my progress. I sang some of my new songs for her and she
kissed me with the same love and tenderness she has always had for me.
I wonder sometimes whether I could possibly have loved my own mother
more. Somehow, as I sat with her in her dear, cozy sitting-room I hated
the cards and the dancing and half wished I had never left the farm.
But that's a narrow, provincial view to take. Now that I'm back again
I'm caught once more in the whirl. Everybody is entertaining, as if in
a frantic endeavor to be surfeited before Lent and thus be able to
endure the dullness of that period of suspended social activities. The
harrowing tales of suffering France and Belgium have occasioned Benefit
Teas and Benefit Bridges and Benefit Dances, all for the aid of the war
sufferers. Royal usually takes me to the social affairs. I enjoy being
with him. He's the most entertaining man I ever met. He has traveled in
Europe and all over our own country and can tell what he has seen. He
attracts attention, whether he speaks or plays or is just silent. One
day he said it would be a pleasure to travel with me, I enjoy things so
and can appreciate their beauty. I could scarcely resist telling him
how I'd enjoy traveling with a man like him. Oh, I dream wild dreams
sometimes, but I really must stop doing that. The present is too
wonderful to go borrowing joy from the future.
I'm all in a fluster. I have to write here what happened to-day. If
I had a mother she could help and advise me but an adopted mother, even
one as dear and near as Mother Bab, won't do for such confidences.
Royal and I were sitting alone before the open fireplace. It's a
dangerous place to be! The glowing fire sends such weird shadows
flickering up and down. Its living fire is sometimes an entreating
Circe waking undesirable impulses, then again it's a spirit that heals
and inspires. I love an open fire but to-day I should have fled from it
and yetI think I'm glad I didn't.
I looked up suddenly from the gleaming logsright into the eyes of
Royal. His voice startled me as he said, with the strangest catch in
his voice, that my eyes are bluer than the skies. I tried to keep my
voice ordinary as I lightly told him that some other person once told
me they are the color of fringed gentianscould he improve on that?
You little fairy! he cried. I can beat that! They are blue as
bluebirds! Then he went on impetuously, telling me I was a real
bluebird of happiness, a bringer of joy; that the ancients called the
bluebird the emblem of happiness, but he knew the blue of my eyes was
the real joy signor something like that he said. It startled me. I
tried to tell him he must not talk like that but my words were useless.
He went on to say that the world was bleak and unlovely till I came to
Philadelphia and wouldn't I tell him I care for him.
Of course I value his friendship and told him so. But he laughed and
said I was a wise little girl but I couldn't evade his question like
that. He said frankly he doesn't want my friendship, he wants my love,
he must have it!
I felt like a helpless bird. I couldn't answer him. He looked at me,
a long, searching look. Then he pressed his thin lips together, and a
moment later, threw back his head and laughed his low laugh.
Little bluebird, he said softly, I have frightened you and I
wouldn't do that for worlds! We'll talk it over some other time, after
you have had time to think about it. Shall I play for you?
I nodded and he began to play. But the music didn't soothe me as it
usually does. There were too many confused thoughts in my brain. Did
Royal really love me? I looked at his white hands with the long
tapering nails and the shapely fingers and couldn't help thinking of
the strong, tanned hands of David Eby. I glanced at the handsome face
of the musician with its magnetic charmswiftly the countenance of my
old playmate rose before me and then slowly faded: David, boyish and
comradely; David, manly and strong, without ever a sneer or an unholy
light upon his face. Could I ever forget him? Could I ever look into
the face of any other man and call it the dearest in the whole world to
me? AchI shook my head and gathered my recreant wits together! I'd
forget what he said and attribute it to the weird influence of the
I was glad Virginia came before Royal finished playing. She looked
at us keenly. I suppose my face was flushed. But Royal seldom loses his
outward calm. He answered her remarks in his casual way and listened
with seeming interest to her plans for a pre-Lenten masquerade dance
she wants to give. She has asked me to go dressed in a plain dress and
white cap like Aunt Maria wears. I hesitated about it but she has done
so much for me that I hate to refuse. So I've promised to go to the
dance dressed in a plain dress and cap.
A little later when Royal left us alone Virginia began to speak
about him. She said she's so glad we have grown to be friends, in spite
of the fact that he is so much older than I am. He's thirty-seven, she
told me. I'm surprised at that. I never thought he's so much older. She
mentioned something, too, about his being rather a gay Don Juan. I
don't know just what she means. I'm sure he's a gentleman. Perhaps she
expected me to tell her what Royal said to me, but how could I do that
when I think it was just an impulsive burst that he's likely to forget
by morning. If he really meant itbut I must stop dreaming all sorts
of improbable dreams! I've had such a glorious time in Philadelphia
just living and singing and working and playing that I wish it hadn't
happened. I'm frightened when I think that any serious questions might
confront me here.
I guessed right when I thought that Royal would forget that foolish
outburst. He has been perfectly lovely to me, taking me out and buying
me flowers and telling me about his trips, but he hasn't said one word
more of sentimental nature. I'm surely getting my share of fun and
pleasure these days. There are so many things to enjoy, so much to
learn from my fellow-boarders and every one I meet, that the days are
all too short. Between times I'm making a dress and cap for the
masquerade dance. I hate sewing. I lost all love for it during my years
of calico patching. But I don't mind making the dress for I'm eager for
the dance, my first masquerade party. I'm hoping for a good time.
CHAPTER XXIII. DIARYPLAIN FOR A
LAST night was the masquerade. I wore the plain gray dress, apron
and cape and a white cap on my head. I felt rather like a hypocrite as
I looked at myself in the glass, but Virginia said it was just the
thing and certainly would not be duplicated by any other guest.
I was dressed early and started down the stairs, my black mask
swinging from my hand. As I rounded a curve in the stairway I glanced
casually down the wide hall. The colored servant had admitted visitors.
I looked in that directionthe mask fell from my hand and I ran down
the steps and into the arms of Mother Bab! I couldn't say more than
Oh, oh! as I kissed her over and over. When she got her breath she
said happily, Phoebe, you're plain!
Oh, how it hurt me! I took her and David to a little nook off the
library where we could be alone and then I had to tell her that I was
wearing the plain dress and white cap as a masquerade dress. Even when
I told her I learned to dance and do things she thinks are worldly
there was no look of pain on her face like the look I brought there as
I stood before her in a dress she reverenced and told her I wore it in
a spirit of fun. I'll never get over being sorry for hurting her like
that. But Mother Bab rallies quickly from every hurt. She soon smiled
and said she understood. David came to my aid. He assured his mother
that they knew I could take care of myself and would not do anything
really wrong. I couldn't thank him for his kindness. I felt suddenly
all weepy and tearful. But David began to talk on in his old friendly
way and tell about the home news and about the Big Doctor he had taken
Mother Bab to see in Philadelphia and how he hoped she would soon be
able to see perfectly again. While he talked Mother Bab and I had a
chance to recover a bit. I noted a quick shadow pass over her face as
he spoke about her eyeswas she less hopeful about them than he was?
Had the Big Doctor told her something David did not hear? But no! I
dismissed the thoughtMother Bab could not go blind! She would never
be asked to suffer that! I soon forgot my troublesome thoughts as she
hastened to say that perhaps her eyes would improve more quickly than
the doctor promised. Then she changed the subjectNow, Phoebe, I hope
I didn't hurt you about the dress. I guess I looked at you as if I
wanted to eat you. I love you and wouldn't hurt you for anything.
Mother Bab! I gave her a real hug like I used to do when I ran
barefooted up the hill with some childish perplexity and she helped me.
You're an angel! Mother Bab, David, having a good time won't hurt me.
Our views up home are too narrow. It's all right to expect older people
to do nothing more exciting than go to Greenwald to the store, to
church every Sunday, to an occasional quilting or carpet-rag party, and
to Lancaster to shop several times a year, but the younger generation
needs other things.
I guess you mean it can't be Lent all the time for you, she
suggested with a smile.
I just knew you'd understand.
Just then Royal began to play and the music floated in to us. It was
Traumerei. Mother Bab's tired face relaxed as she leaned back to listen
to the piercingly sweet melody. David looked at meI knew he was
asking whether the player was Royal Lee.
Oh, Davie, Mother Bab said innocently as the music ended, if only
you could play like that!
If I could, he said half bitterly, but all I can do is farm. Are
you coming home this spring? he asked me, as if to forget the violin
and its player.
I don't know. I'll probably stay here until early June. I may go
away with Virginia for part of the summer.
Not be home for spring and summer! he said dismally. Why, it
won't be spring without you! We can't go for bird-foot violets or
Arbutusthe name called up a host of memories to me. How I'd like
to go for arbutus this spring, I told him.
Then come home in April and I'll take you to Mt. Hope for some.
Oh, David, will you?
I'd love to. We'll drive up.
I'll come, I promised. I'll come home for arbutus. Let me know
when they're out.
All right. But I think we must go now or we'll miss the train.
Go? I echoed. You're not going home to-night? Can't you stay?
Mrs. McCrea has vacant rooms. I've been so excited I forgot my manners.
Let me take you to the sitting-room and introduce you to Mrs. Lee and
Ach, no, Mother Bab protested. We can't stay that long. We just
stopped in to see you.
David looked at his watch. We must go now. There's a train at
eight-twenty-one gets to Lancaster at ten-forty-five and we'll get the
last car out to Greenwald and Phares will meet us and drive us home.
I asked about the home folks as I watched David adjust Mother Bab's
shawl. He looked older and worried. I suppose he was disappointed
because the Big Doctor didn't promise a quick cure for Mother Bab's
As they said good-bye and left me I wanted to run after them and ask
them to take me home, back to the simple life of my people. But I
stayed where I was, the earthiest worldling in a dress of
II believe I'll take it off, I thought as I stood in the
Just then Royal opened the door and saw me. Ye Gods! he exclaimed,
you look like a saint, Phoebe.
But I'm not! I'm far from being a saint!
Don't be one, please. If you turn saint I shall be disconsolate. I
don't like saints of women and I want to keep on liking you, little
Bluebird. Remember, you promised me the first dance.
I don't knowI don't feel like dancing.
Oh, but you must! You look like a Quakeress but no one expects you
to act like one to-night. I'm going up to dressI'm going as a monk to
He ran off, laughing, and I went in search of Virginia. My heart was
heavy. The sudden appearance of Mother Bab and David brought me a vivid
impression of the contrast between their lives and mine and the
thoughts left me worried and restless. What was I doing? Was I shaping
my life in such a way that it would never again fit into the simple
grooves of country life? The dance lost its charm for me. I danced and
made merry and tried to enter into the gay spirit of the occasion but I
longed all the time to be with Mother Bab and David riding to Lancaster
CHAPTER XXIV. DIARYDECLARATIONS
SPRING is here but I'd never know it if I didn't read the calendar.
I haven't seen a robin or heard a song-sparrow. Just the same, I've had
a wonderful time these past weeks. Of course my music gets first
attention. I'm getting on well, though I'm beginning to see what a
long, long time it will take before I become a great singer. Since I
have heard really great singers I wonder whether I was not too
presumptuous when I thought I might be one some day. I went to several
big churches lately and heard fine music.
I thought Lent would be a dull season but it's been gay enough for
me. There has been unusual activity, Virginia says, because of so many
charitable affairs held for the benefit of the war sufferers.
I bought a new spring hat, a dream. Hope Aunt Maria never asks me
what I paid for it. After wearing Greenwald hats all my life this one
was coming to me.
But my thoughts are not all of frivolous matters. I have taken
advantage of some of the opportunities Philadelphia offers to improve
my mind and broaden my vision. I've been to lectures and plays and
enjoyed them all.
I asked Royal to-day why he never worked. He laughed and said I was
an inquisitive Bluebird. Then he told me his parents left him enough
money to live without working. He never did a solid hour's real work in
his whole life. With his talent and his personal attractions he might
become a famous musician if he had some odds to fight against or some
person to encourage him and make him do his best. He said he knows he
never developed his talent to the full extent but that since he knows
me he is playing better than he did before. I wonder if I really am an
inspiration to him. I suppose a genius does need a wife or sympathetic
friend to bring out the best in him. He has been so lovely, showing his
fondness for me in many ways, but he has never said anything
sentimental like he did the day we sat by the fire. Sometimes he does
say ambiguous things that I can't understand. He is surely giving me a
long time to think it over. I like him but I'm afraid he's cynical, and
it worries me.
There are other things, too, to dim the blue these days. War clouds
are threatening. U-boats of Germany are sinking our vessels. Where will
it all end?
War has been declared. America is in it at last. I came home to-day
feeling disheartened and sad. War was the topic everywhere I went.
Papers, bulletin-boards flaunted the words, The world must be made
safe for democracy. People on the streets and in cars spoke about it,
newsboys yelled till they were hoarse.
I stopped to see Virginia but she was out. Royal said he'd entertain
me till she returned. He laughed at my tragic weariness about the war.
I'll tell you, Bluebird, he whispered as he sat beside me, we'll
talk of something better. I love you.
The fire in his eyes frightened me. I couldn't look at him. Why do
you say such things? I asked, and I couldn't keep my voice from
That didn't hush himhe said some more. He told me how he loves me,
how he waited for me all his life and wants me with him. He quoted the
verse I like so much, Thou beside me singing in the wildernessO
wilderness were Paradise enow! Then he asked me frankly if I loved
I couldn't answer right away. Now that the thing I had dreamed of
was actually happening I was dazed and stupid and sat like a
He asked me again and before I knew what he was doing he had taken
me into his arms and kissed me. Say you love me, he pleaded.
I said what he wanted to hear and he kissed me again. We were both
very happy. It is almost too wonderful to believe!
A few minutes later we heard Virginia enter the hall and we came
back to earth. I know my cheeks still burned but Royal's ready poise
served him well. He told his cousin he had been trying to make me
forget about the war.
Virginia probably thought my excitement was due to the war. She
began at once to speak about it. America is in it and we can't forget
it. Every true American must help.
Do your bit, knit, chanted the musician.
She asked him if he is going to do his bit. He flushed and looked
vexed, then explained that he can neither knit nor fight, that he is a
Virginia argued that if he could play a violin he could learn to
play a bugle, that many of the men who will fight for the flag are men
who have never been taught to fight. She spoke as if she thought Royal
should enlist in some branch of government service at once.
I resented her words. Do you want Royal to go to war and be
killed? I asked her.
My dear, she said solemnly, have you ever heard that there is
such a thing as losing one's life by trying to save it?
That startled me. I realized then that the war is going to be a very
serious matter, that there will be work for each one of us to do. But
Royal laughed and made me forget temporarily every solemn, sad thing.
He told Virginia that she was over-zealous, that she need not worry
about him. He'd be a true American and give his money to help protect
the flag. We began to play Bridge then and I thought no more about the
war for an hour or two.
I have learned to knit. Virginia has taught me and we are elbow-deep
in gray and khaki wool. I have wound it and purled it and worked on the
thing till I'm tasting fuzz. But I do want to do the little bit I can
to help my country. This war is a serious matter. Already people
are talking about who is going to enlistwhat if David would go! I
hope he won'tyet I don't want him to be a coward. Oh, it's all too
confusing and terrible to think long about. I try to forget it for a
time by remembering that Royal Lee cares for me. He has told me over
and over that he loves me. Love must be blind, for he thinks I
am beautiful and perfect. I'm glad I look like that to him. We should
be happy when we are married, for we are so congenial, both loving
music and things of beauty. It's queer, though, I have thought of it
several timeshe has never mentioned our marriage. I suppose he's too
happy in the present to make plans for the future. But I know he is a
gentleman, therefore his words of love are synonymous with an offer of
marriage. All that will come later. It's enough now just to know we
care for each other.
CHAPTER XXV. DIARYTHE LINK MUST
BREAK AND THE LAMP MUST DIE
I'M in sackcloth and ashes. My dream castles have tumbled down upon
my head and left me bruised and sorrowful. I'm awake at last! I'd like
to bury my face in my old red and green patchwork quilt and ask
forgiveness for being a fool. But I must compose myself and write this
last chapter of my romance.
Last night the Singer with the Voice of Gold gave a recital in the
Academy of Music. Royal and I helped to make up a merry box party. I
felt festive and gay in my lovely white crepe georgette gown. Royal
said I looked like a dream and that made me radiant, I know.
As we sat down I whispered to him that I was excited because hearing
that great singer has always been one of my dearest dreams and now the
dream was coming true. He whispered back that more of my dreams would
soon come true. I made him hush, for several people were looking at us.
But his words sent my heart thrilling.
The Academy became quiet as the singer appeared, then the audience
gave her a real Brotherly Love welcome and settled once more into
silence as her beautiful voice rose in the place. The operatic
selections were beautifully rendered. I thought her voice was most
captivating in the simple songs everybody knows. Annie Laurie had new
charm as she sang it. When she sang that Royal whispered, That is what
I feel for you. I smiled into his eyes, then turned again to look at
the singer. Could I ever sing like that? Would the dreams of my
childhood come true? It seemed improbable and yetI had traveled a
long way from the little girl of the tight braids and brown gingham
dresses, I thought. Perhaps the future would bring still more wonderful
The hours in the Academy of Music passed like a beautiful dream. I
shrank from the last song, though. It was too much like some fatal,
The cord is frayed, the cruse is dry,
The link must break, and the lamp must die
Good-bye to hope! Good-bye, good-bye!
I told Royal I didn't like it, it was too much like Cassandra.
He laughed and said she generally sings it, but that it couldn't
hurt uswas I superstitious?
No, oh, no, I declared. But I wished I could forget the words of
Some of the party decided that a proper ending to the delightful
evening would be a visit to a fashionable café. I didn't care to go.
Royal urged me till I consented and I soon found myself in a beautiful
place where merry groups of people were seated about small tables. Any
desire for food I might have had left me as I heard Royal and the other
men order wines and highballs.
What will you have, Phoebe? Royal asked me.
Be a sport, he urged, look around and do as the 'Romans do.'
I looked around. Some of the women were smoking, others were
Oh, I said, this is dreadful. Let's go.
Royal laughed and the others teased me. One of the girls said I'd be
doing all those things before the year ended. When I declared I would
not Royal reminded me that I had said the same about cards and dancing.
His words silenced me. I felt engulfed in shame and deeply hurt. How
could Royal be amused at my discomfiture if he loved me! Did he love
me? Did I want him to? Could I promise to honor and love him all my
life? But perhaps he was teasing meah, that was it! I breathed more
easily again. Royal was teasing me, sure of my refusal to indulge in
any intoxicant. The others ate and made merry while I toyed idly with
the glass of ginger ale the waiter brought me against my wish. I mused
and dreamedwould Royal like my people? Somehow, he seemed an
incongruity among the dear ones at the gray farmhouse in Lancaster
County. What would he say when we ate in the kitchen and daddy came to
the table in his shirt sleeves? Love can bridge greater chasms than
that, I thought. When we are married
Royal Lee, are you ever going to marry? The question broke into my
I looked at Royal. There was no rise of color in his handsome face.
He returned my look dispassionately then turned to his teasing,
I'm a bachelor forever, he declared. But that does not keep me
from loving. Women I care for have too much good sense to think that
marriage always follows love. Ye Gods, I think love goes when marriage
comes, so you'll have no chance to see my love interred.
I clenched my hands under the table. I felt my lips go white. How
could he hurt me so? Of course our love was not a thing to be paraded
in a public place but if he really cared for me as I thought he did he
could have answered differently. An evasive answer would have served.
An hour ago he had whispered tender words to me and now he frankly
informed all present that he was a bachelor forever. I could not grasp
the full significance of his words at once. I was dazed by the shock of
them. I wanted to get away and be alone, to cry, to think, to determine
what he had meant by his demonstrations of love if he did not hope to
win me for his wife.
But later, when I went to bed in the pretty blue and white room next
Virginia's, I did not cry. I lay wide awake thinking over and over,
How could he do it? Why is he heartless? Was he only playing?
When morning came I had partially decided that I had been a ready,
silly fool; that Royal Lee had merely whiled the hours away more
pleasantly because of my love. I felt tempted to denounce him but I
thought that would afford him additional amusement and make me not a
whit less miserable. I was eager to get away from him. I desired but
one little moment alone with him to satisfy myself that I did not judge
him unjustly. Fortunately he came to the sitting-room as I sat there
staring at the page of a magazine.
Alone? he asked.
Phoebehe drew nearer and I rose and stood away from him. My
Bluebird! You look unhappy. Are you still shocked at the smoking and
drinking you saw last night? It's all in the game, you know. Why not be
happy along with the rest of us, why be a prude?
I shivered. Couldn't he know why I was unhappy! How false and fickle
he was! I wouldn't wear my heart on my sleeve for him to read and laugh
about. All my Metz determination rose in me.
Why, I lied, I'm not unhappy. I'm just tired. Late hours don't
agree with me.
He stretched out his arm but I eluded him. Don't, I said lightly;
we've been foolish long enough.
Whyhe looked at me keenly. But I was determined he should not
read my feelings. I smiled in spite of my contempt for him. Why,
Phoebe, he said tenderly, what has changed you? Why shouldn't I kiss
you when I love you? Love never hurt any one.
But what? he asked.
Oh, nothing, I said, stepping farther away from him. I'm in a
hurry this morning. Good-bye. And for the first time I saw a look of
chagrin mar the handsome face of Royal Lee. Before he could recover his
customary equanimity I was gone from the house.
I walked, caring not where the way led. My brain was in a whirl. I
felt as though I were fleeing from a crumbling precipice. In a flash I
understood Virginia's tactful attempts at warning. She had tried to
make me understand but my head was too easily turned by the fine
speeches and flattering attentions of the musician. I have been vain
and foolish but I've had my lesson. It still hurts and yet I can see
the value of it. I'll be better qualified after this to discriminate
between the false and true.
I am going home to-day! It came to me suddenly as I went back to my
boarding-house after my long walk. I promised David I'd come home for
arbutus and the inspiration came to go home for the whole spring and
summer. I'll write a note to Mr. Krause and one to Virginia. Dear
Virginia, she has been so good to me and helped me in so many ways! I
can never thank her enough. These eight months in Philadelphia have
been a liberal education for me. I'll never regret them. I hope to come
back in the fall and go on with the music lessons. By that time Royal
Lee will have found another to make love to.
So I'm going home to-day, back to Lancaster County. The trees are
green and the flowers are outoh, I'm wild to get back!
CHAPTER XXVI. HAME'S BEST
LANCASTER COUNTY never before looked so fertile, so lovely, as it
did that April day when Phoebe returned to it after a long winter in
As she came unexpectedly there was no one to meet her at Greenwald.
She started across the street and was soon on the dusty road leading to
the gray farmhouse.
Let me see, she thought, this is Friday afternoon and Aunt Maria
will be scrubbing the kitchen floor.
But when the girl reached the kitchen of the gray house and tiptoed
gently over the sill she found the big room in order and Aunt Maria
Why, she thought, is Aunt Maria sick? She opened the door to the
sitting-room and there, seated by a window, was Aunt Maria with a ball
of gray wool in her lap and five steel knitting needles plying in her
The exclamations came simultaneously.
What in the world are you doing? I mean why aren't you cleaning the
kitchen? Oh, Aunt Maria, you know what I mean! I never saw you sitting
down early on a Friday afternoon.
Aunt Maria laughed. I ain't sick! You can see what I'm doin'; I'm
knittin'. Ain't you learned to do it yet? I can learn you.
Why, I know how. But what are you knitting? For the Red Cross?
Why not? You think the ladies in Phildelphy are the only ones do
that? There's a Red Cross in Greenwald and they are askin' all who can
to help. I used to knit all my own stockings still so I thought I'd
pitch right in. I let the cleanin' slide a little this week so I could
get a good start on this once.
The girl gasped and looked at her aunt in wonder. All the days of
her life she had never known her aunt to let the cleanin' slide, if
the physical strength were there to do the work. Aunt Maria was working
for the Red Cross! While she, who had scorned the country folks and
called them narrow, had knitted half-heartedly and spent the major part
of her time in the pursuit of pleasure, the people of the little town
and surrounding country had been doing real work for humanity.
I think you're splendid, Aunt Maria, to help the Red Cross, she
said with enthusiasm.
The woman looked up from her knitting. Why, how dumb you talk! I
guess abody wants to help. Them soldiers are fightin' for us. Now you
can get yourself something to eat. It vonders me, anyhow, why you come
home this time of the year. You said you'd stay till June.
I came because I want to be here.
So. Then I guess you got enough once of the city.
Yes, said Phoebe, laughing. But how is everybody?
All pretty good. But a lot of boys from round here went a'ready to
enlist. I ain't for war, but I guess it has to come sometimes. But it's
hard for them that has boys.
David? Phoebe asked. Has he gone?
Ach, no, not him. He's got his mom to take care of.
Phoebe remembered Virginia's words, We can't get away from it,
we're in it. The thought of them made her feel depressed. I'm going
to forget the war, she thought after a moment, I'm going to forget it
for to-morrow and have one perfect day in the mountains hunting
CHAPTER XXVII. TRAILING ARBUTUS
IT was a balmy day in April when Phoebe and David drove over the
country roads to the mountains where the trailing arbutus grow.
Spring o' the year, called the meadow-larks in clear, piercing
It is spring o' the year, said Phoebe. I know it now. But last
week I felt sure that the calendar was wrong and I wondered whether God
made only English sparrows this year; that was all I could see. Then I
saw a few birds early this week when we went along the Wissahickon for
a long walk. Oh, no, she said in answer to the unspoken question in
his eyes, I did not go alone with a man. In Philadelphia one does not
do that. I went properly chaperoned by Mrs. Hale. Virginia and Royal
and several others were in the party. You should have been there; you
would have enjoyed it for you know so much about birds and flowers.
Royal didn't know a spring beauty from a bloodroot, and when we heard a
song-sparrow he said it was a thrush.
David threw back his head and laughed. Some nature student he must
be! But it must be fine along the Wissahickon. I have read about it.
It is fine, but this is finer.
You better say so!
Oh, look, David, the soil is pink! She pointed to a tilled field
whose soil was colored a soft old rose color. I'm always glad to see
the pink soil.
So am I. It means that we are getting near the mountains. We'll
drive over to Hull's tavern and leave the carriage there, then we can
go to the patch of woods near the tavern where we used to find the
great beauties, the fine big ones. There's the old tavern now. He
pointed to a building with a fine background of wooded hills.
Hull's tavern, a rambling structure erected in 1812, is still an
interesting stopping-place for summer excursionists and travelers
through that mountainous section of Pennsylvania. Situated on the south
side of the beautiful South Mountains and overlooking the richest of
hills, it has long been a popular roadhouse, accommodating many
pleasure parties and hikers.
Phoebe wandered about on the long porches while David took the horse
to the stable.
Now then, he said as he joined her, give me the lunch box and
we'll be off.
They walked a short distance in the loamy soil of the mountain road
and then turned aside and scrambled up a steep bank to a tract of
woodland. Phoebe sank on her knees in the dry, brown leaves and pushed
aside the leaves. There, she cried in triumph a moment later, I
found the first one! She lifted a small cluster of trailing arbutus
and gave it to David.
Um-ah, he said, in imitation of a little girl of long ago.
Little Dutchie, she answered. But you can't provoke me to-day.
I'm too happy to be peevish. Come, kneel down, you'll never find
arbutus when you stand up.
I'm down, he said as he knelt beside her. I'd go on my knees to
find arbutus any day.
So would IOh, look at thisand this! They are perfect. She
fairly trembled with joy as she uncovered the waxlike flowers of dainty
pink and white. I could bury my nose in them forever.
They are perfect, agreed the man. Fancy living where you never
saw any arbutus or had the joy of picking them.
I don't want to fancy that, it's too delicious being where they do
grow. Won't Mother Bab love them?
Yes. She'll keep them for days in water. That flower you gave her
in Philadelphia lasted four days.
These are better, Phoebe said quickly, anxious to shut out all
thoughts of the city. Now that she was in the woods again she knew how
hungry she had been for them. I am going to pick a bunch of big ones
for Mother Bab.
She would like the small ones every whit as much, the man
Perhaps better, she mused. She would say they are just as sweet
and pretty. David, I don't know what I should have done without Mother
Bab! My life was different, somehow, after she allowed me to adopt
She's great, isn't she?
Wonderful! I have many friends, many new ones, many dear ones, but
there is only one Mother Bab.
The man's hands trembled among the arbutusdid the admiration touch
Mother Bab's son? Could the dreams of his heart ever come true?
You know, Phoebe went on, if I could always have her near me, in
the same house, I'd be less unworthy of calling her Mother Bab.
It was well that she bent over the dry leaves and blossoms and
missed the look that flooded the face of the man for a moment. She
wanted to be with Mother Babshould he tell her of his love? But the
very fact that she spoke thus was evidence that she did not love him as
he desired. And the war must change his most cherished plans for the
future, change them greatly for a time. If he went and never returned
it would be harder for her if he went as her lover. As it was he was
merely her old comrade and friend; he could read from her manner that
no deeper feeling had touched hernot for him, but he wondered about
The spell was broken when Phoebe spoke again: Do you know, Davie, I
read somewhere that arbutus can't be made to grow anywhere except in
its own woods, that the most skilful hand of man or woman can't
transplant it to a garden where the soil is different from its native
I never heard that before, but I remember that I tried several
times and failed. I dug up a big box of the soil to make it grow, but
it lasted several months and died. Let us go along this path and find a
new bed; we have almost cleaned this one.
Seeshe raised her bunch of flowersI didn't take a single
root, so next year when we come we shall find as many as this year.
They are too altogether lovely to be exterminated.
They moved about the woods, finding new patches of the fragrant
flowers, until they declared it would be robbery to take another one.
Let's eat, she suggested; I'm hungry as a bear.
Race you to that big rock, cried David and began to run. Phoebe
followed through the brush and dry leaves, but the farmer covered the
distance too quickly for her.
Now I'm hungry, she said, panting; I'll eat more than my share of
She climbed to the top of the boulder and they sat side by side, the
lunch box resting on David's knees.
Now anything you want ask for, said he.
I will not! She delved into the box and brought out a sandwich.
It's mine as much as yours.
Going in for Woman's Suffrage and Rights and the like? he asked,
Ugh, she wrinkled her nose, don't mention things like that
to-day. I don't want to hear about war or work or problems or anything
but just pure joy this day! I earned this perfect day this year. This
is to be a day of all-joy for us. Have another sandwich? I'm going
tothis makes only four more left for each. Aunt Maria knew what she
was doing when she made me take this big box of lunch for just us two.
Now, aren't you glad that I brought lunch in a box instead of eating
our dinner at Hull's as you suggested? she said as she kicked her
feet, little girl fashion, against the side of the boulder.
Of course I am glad. I was afraid you might like dinner at the
tavern better, that is why I suggested it.
Don't you know me better than that? Why, we can eat in dining-rooms
three hundred and sixty-four days in every year. This is one day when
we eat in the birds' dining-room.
I am enjoying it, Phoebe. It is the first picnic I have had for a
long time. I can't tell how I'm drinking in the joy of it.
Now, said Phoebe later, when the last crumb had been taken out of
the lunch box, we can pack the arbutus in this box. If you find some
damp moss I'll arrange them.
She laid the flowers on the cushion of moss, covered them with a few
damp leaves and closed the box. That will keep them fresh, she said.
Now for our drink of mountain water, then home again.
Farther in the woods they found the spring. In a little cove edged
with laurel bushes and overhung with chestnut trees and tall oaks it
sent up a bubbling fountain of cold water.
I'm sorry the picnic is over, said Phoebe as she leaned over the
clear water and drank the cold draught.
There is still the lovely drive home, he consoled her.
Yes, she said as they turned and walked back through the woods to
the road again, and I shall remember this day for a long time. In the
spring it's dreadful to be shut in the city.
I believe you are growing tired of Philadelphia.
Yes and no. I love the many things to do and see there, but on a
day like this I think the country is the place to really enjoy the
spring. I wish you could come down some time to the city; there are
many places of interest you would like to visit.
Yes. He opened his lips to tell her that he was soon to be in the
service of his country, then he remembered that she had said she did
not want to hear the word war on that day, it must be a day of all joy,
so he closed his mouth resolutely and merely smiled in answer as she
entered the carriage for the ride home. They spoke of many things; she
was gay with the childish happiness she always felt in the woods or
open country roads. He answered her gaiety, but his heart ached. What
did the future hold for him? Would she, perchance, love another before
he could returnwould he return?
Look, Phoebe said after they had driven several miles, it is
going to stormsee how dark! We are going to have an April storm.
Even as they looked up black clouds moved swiftly across the sky.
They turned and looked toward the mountains behind themthe summits
were shrouded in dense blackness; the whole countryside was being
enveloped in a gloom like the gloom of late twilight. There was an
ominous silence in the air, living things of the fields and woods
scurried to shelter; only a solitary red-headed woodpecker tapped
noisily upon a dead tree trunk.
Suddenly sharp flashes of lightning darted in zigzag rays through
Phoebe gripped the side of the carriage. The storm is following
us, she said. Look at the hillsthey are black as night. Can we get
home before the storm breaks over us?
Hardly. It travels faster than we can, and we still have four more
miles to go.
The horse sniffed the air through inflated nostrils and sped
unbidden over the country road. The lightning grew more vivid and
blinding and darted among the hills with greater frequency; loud peals
of thunder echoed and reëchoed among the mountains. Then the rain came.
In great splashes, which increased rapidly, it poured its cool torrents
upon the earth.
Phoebe laughed but David shook his head. We'll have to stop some
place till it's over. You're getting wet. I'll drive in this barnyard.
Amid the deafening crashes of thunder and the steady downpour of
rain they ran through the barnyard and up the path that led to the
house. As they stepped upon the porch a door was opened and a woman
Why, come right in! she greeted them. This is a bad storm.
If you don't mind, Phoebe began, but the woman was talkative and
broke in, Now, I just knowed there'd be company come to-day yet! This
after when I dried the dishes I dropped a knife and fork and that's a
sure sign. Mebbe you don't believe in signs?
They come true sometimes, said Phoebe.
Ach, yes, my granny used to plant her garden by the signs in the
almanac. Cabbage, now, must be planted in the up-sign. But mebbe you're
hungry after your drive? I'll get some cake.
We had lunch
Ach, if your man's like mine he can eat cake any time. She opened
a door that led to the cellar and soon returned with a plate piled high
with cake. Now eat, she invited. But, ach, I just thought of ityou
said you come from Greenwaldthen I guess you know about Caleb Warner
dying, killing himself, or something.
Caleb Warner dying! David echoed. He half started from his chair,
then sank with a visible effort at self-control.
Yes. I guess you know him. My mister was in to dinner a while ago
and he said it went over the 'phone at Risser's and Jacob Risser told
him that Caleb Warner of Greenwald was dead. It was from gas or
something funny like that. It's the Warner that sold that oil stock and
gold stock. You know him?
David nodded, his lips dry.
Well, I guess now a lot of people will lose money. There's a lady
lives near here that gave him almost all her money for some of his
stock. For a while she got big interest from it, but then it stopped
and now she ain't got hardly enough money to live. And I guess a lot
will lose money. My mister had no time for that stock. But if the man's
dead now we should let him rest, I guess.
Yes David braced himself. The rain is over. Phoebe, we must
He smiled to the little woman as he gripped her hand. You have been
very kind to us and we appreciate it.
Yes, indeed, echoed Phoebe. I hope we have not kept you from your
Ach, I can work enough to-day yet. I like company and I don't have
much of it week-days. Um, ain't it good smelly after the rain? She
sniffed, smiling, as she followed Phoebe and David down the path to the
Good-bye, she called as they drove off. Safe home.
Thank you. Good-bye, Phoebe called over the side of the carriage.
Then, as they entered again upon the country road, she turned to her
place beside David.
She looked up at him. All the light and joy had faded from his face;
he stared straight head, though he must have felt her eyes' intent gaze
David, she said softly, what is wrong?
Nothing, he lied.
Seems you look different, she persisted. Is it anything about
Caleb Warner's death?
I'm not much of a stoic, Phoebe. I should have hidden my worry. But
you must forget it; we must not let it spoil our perfect day. It really
is no great matter. I am affected, in some way you can't know, by his
death, but I'll get over it, he tried to treat the matter lightly.
But Phoebe felt a sudden heaviness of heart. She was almost certain
that David had had no money to buy any stock from Caleb Warner,
therefore, she jumped to the conclusion, it must be that David cared
for Mary Warner, as town gossip said he did, and that the death of the
girl's father would affect him. She felt hurt and baffled and sorely
rebuffed at the withholding of David's confidence and was worried as
she saw the marks of worry in the face of the man. Womanlike, she felt
certain that the other girl was not good enough for David. Mary Warner,
beautiful, aristocratic in bearing and mannerwhat had she to do with
a man like David Eby! Was an incipient engagement with Mary Warner the
Aladdin's lamp David had mentioned several times as being on the verge
of rubbing and thus become rich? The thought left her trembling; she
shivered in the April sunshine. When David spoke it was with an
abstracted manner, and the girl beside him finally said, Oh, don't let
us talk. Let us just sit and look at the fields and enjoy the scenery.
She said it calmly enough, but the man beside her could not know
that it required the last shreds of her courage to keep her voice from
breaking. She would not let David see that she cared if he did care for
Mary Warner! Of course, she didn't want to marry him, it was merely
that she knew Mary was too haughty for him. Mother Bab would also say
that he was too different from Mary, that he was too fine for her. Then
she remembered that Mother Bab had said on the previous evening that
the Warners had taken David to Hershey recently in their fine new car.
She shook herself in an effort at self-control. Phoebe, she thought,
you're selfish! You go to Philadelphia and you go out with Royal Lee
and dance with other young men, and yet, when David pays attention to
another girl you have a spasm!
But the self-administered discipline failed to correct her attitude.
She knew their day of all-joy was changed for her as it had been
changed for David. The jealousy in her heart could not be quite
overcome. She was glad when they reached familiar fields and were on
the road near Greenwald.
Will you come in? she invited as she left the carriage.
No. I better go right home.
I'll divide the flowers, David.
Oh, keep them all.
No, indeed. Mother Bab would be disappointed if you brought her
She opened the box, separated half of the arbutus from their mates
and laid them in the uplifted corner of her coat. There, she said,
the rest are yours and Mother Bab's. It was perfect in the woods
to-day. Thank you
But he interrupted her. It is I who must say that, Phoebe! This has
been a great day. I'll never forget the glorious hour when we were on
our knees and pushed away the leaves and found the arbutus. That is
something to take with one, to remember when the days are not perfect
as this one.
He laid his fingers a moment on her hand as she held the corner of
her coat to keep the flowers from falling, then he turned and jumped
into the carriage.
Give my love to Mother Bab, she said.
He turned, smiled and nodded, then started off. Phoebe stood at the
gate and watched the carriage as it went slowly up the steep road by
the hill. Her thoughts were with the man who was going home to his
mother, going with trailing arbutus in his hands and some great
unhappiness in his heart.
Is it always so? she thought. We carry fragrance in our hands,
but what in our hearts? For the time she was once more the old
sympathetic, natural Phoebe, eager to help her friend in need, feeling
the divine longing to comfort one who was miserable. Oh, Davie,
Davie, she thought as she went into the house, I wish I could help
CHAPTER XXVIII. MOTHER BAB AND HER
WHEN David drove over the brow of the hill and down the green lane
to the little house he called home he caught sight of his mother in her
garden. He whistled. At the sound Mother Bab rose from the soft earth
in which she was working and straightened, smiling. She raised a hand
to shade her eyes and waited for the coming of her boy, dreaming of a
possible separation from him, dreaming long mother-dreams while he took
the horse and carriage to the barn.
When he returned he had mustered all his courage and was smilinghe
would be a stoic as long as he could, but he knew that his mother would
soon discover that all was not well with him.
Here, mother. He gave her the box of arbutus.
Then you got some, Davie! She buried her face in the cool, sweet
blossoms. Oh, how sweet they are! Did you and Phoebe have a good time?
Did she enjoy it as much as she always used to enjoy a day in the
She looked up suddenly from the flowers and caught him unawares.
What is wrong? she asked with real concern. Did you and Phoebe fall
No, he shook his head. He knew that attempts at subterfuge and
evasion would be vain. No, mommie, no use trying to deceive you any
longerI fell out with myselfI wish I could keep it from you, he
added slowly; I know it's going to hurt you.
You tell me, Davie. I've lived sixty years and never yet met a
trouble I couldn't live through. Tell me about it.
She placed the box of arbutus in the garden path and laid her hand
on his arm.
Oh, mommie, he blurted out, almost sobbing, I'm ashamed of
myself! You'll be ashamed of your boy.
It's no girl the mother hesitated.
He answered with a vehement, No!
Then tell me, she said softly. I can look in your eyes and hear
you tell me most anything so long as you need not tell me that you have
broken the heart or spoiled the soul of a girl.
She spoke gently, but the man cried out, Thank God, I have nothing
like that to confess! You know there is only one girl for me. I could
never look into her eyes if I had betrayed the trust of any girl. I
have dreamed of growing into a man she could love and marry, but I
failed. I wanted to offer her more than slavery on a farm, I wanted to
have something more than the few hundreds I scraped together. I took
the five hundred dollars we skimped for and bought stock of Caleb
Warneryou heard that he died?
Phares told me.
I guess the five hundred dollars is gone with him! I heard of other
men getting rich by buying gold and oil stock so I took a chance and
staked all the spare money I had.
It was your money, Davie.
You called it mine, but you helped to earn and save it. Caleb
promised me he would sell half of the stock for me at a great profit in
a week or two, and I could keep the other half for the big dividends it
would pay me soonnow he's dead, and the stock is probably worthless.
He looked miserably at her troubled face. She flung her arm about
him and led him to a seat under the budded cherry tree. We must sit
down and talk it over, she said. Perhaps it isn't so bad as you
think. Are you sure the stock is worth nothing? Perhaps you can get
something out of it.
Perhaps I can. He brightened at the suggestion.
Well, she went on, I can't say that I think you did right to buy
the stock and try to get rich quick. You know that money gotten that
way is tainted money, more or less. To earn what you have and have a
little is better and safer than to have much and get it in such a way.
But it's too late to preach about that nowI guess I didn't tell you
that often enough and hard enough before this, or else you wouldn't
have wanted to buy the stock. It is partly my fault, for I thought some
time ago you talked as though you were getting the money craze, but I
thought it would soon wear off. You did a foolish thing, but there's no
use crying about it. You see you did wrong and are sorry, so that is
all there is to it. I'm not sorry you lost on the stock, for if you
made on it the craze would go deeper. I can live without the few extra
things that money would buy.
Don't be so forgiving, mother! Scold me! I'd feel less like a
criminal. But here comes Phares; he'll give me the scolding you're
The preacher crossed the lawn and advanced to the seat under the
Aunt Barbara, he began, then noted the troubled look on the face
of David and asked, What is wrong?
Nothing, said David, except that I have some of Caleb Warner's
You do? Whatever made you buy that?
David spoke as calmly as possible. I wanted to be rich, that's all.
But I guess I was never intended to be that.
I'm afraid you are going to be sorry, said the preacher very
soberly. I just came from town and they say things look bad for the
investors. They said first that Warner was asphyxiated accidentally,
but he was so deep in a hole with investing and re-investing other
people's money and his own and he had lost so much that people think
this was the easiest way out of it all for him. I suppose it will be
hushed up and no one will ever know just how he died. There are at
least twenty people in town and farms near here who are worried about
their money since he died. Did you have much stock?
Five hundred dollars' worth.
If people were as eager to lay up treasures in heaven the
preacher said thoughtfully.
If they were, said David, struggling to keep the wrath from his
words and voice. I know, Phares, you can't understand why everybody
should not be as good as you. I wish I weremother should have had a
son like you. I'm the black sheep of the Eby family, I suppose.
No, no! cried Mother Bab. We all make mistakes! You are good and
noble, David. I am proud of you, even if you do err sometimes.
We must make the best of it, said the preacher. Perhaps the stock
is not quite worthless. If I were you I'd go to the lawyer in
Lancaster. He'll see you at his house if you 'phone in.
Mighty good to think of that for me, said David, gripping the hand
of his cousin. I'll go in to-night.
Several hours later David Eby sat before a lawyer and waited for the
verdict. I'm sorry, the lawyer shook his head. The stock is
worthless. Six months ago you might have sold it; now it's dead as a
Guess it was a wildcat scheme, said David.
A few minutes later he went out to the street. His Aladdin's lamp
was smashed! What a fool he had been!
When he reached home Mother Bab read the news in his face. Never
mind, she said bravely, we'll get along without that money.
YesbutDavid spoke slowly, as if fearing to hurt her
furtherI hoped to have a nice bank account for you to draw on
whenwhen I go.
You mean Mother Bab stopped suddenly. Something choked her,
but she faced him squarely and looked up into his face.
Yes, mother, I mean that I must go. You want me to go, don't you?
Yes. The word came slowly, but David knew how truly she felt it.
You must go. I knew it right away when I saw that we were called of
God to help in the fight for world peace and righteousness. You must
go; there is nothing to keep you. Phares will look after the little
farm. I spoke to him about it last week
Mother, you knew then!
I saw it in your face as soon as war was declared. Phares was
lovely about it and said he could just as well take your few acres in
with his and pay a percentage to me for the crops he'll get from them.
Phares is kind; he has a big heart, for all his queer ways and his
Phares is too good to be related to me, mommie. I'm ashamed of
Ach, you two are just different, that's all. I can go over and stay
at their house. Did you tell Phoebe you are going?
He shook his head. I couldn't tell her yesterday. We had such a
great day in the woods finding the arbutus, eating our lunch on a rock
and acting just like we used to when we were ten years younger. She
never mentioned war and I could not seem to break into that day of
gladness to speak about the subject. I meant to tell her all about it
when we got home, but then that storm came up and we stopped at a
farmhouse and I heard about Caleb Warner. It struck me so hard I was
just no good after that. I'll be a dandy soldier, won't I?
He laughed and took the little woman in his arms. When, some moments
later, he held the white-capped mother at arms' length and smiled into
her face neither knew if the wet lashes were caused by laughter or
Some soldier you'll make, she said as she looked at him, tall,
broad of shoulder, straight of spine. Some soldier or sailor you'll
CHAPTER XXIX. PREPARATIONS
THE days following the death of Caleb Warner were days of anxiety to
other inhabitants of the little town who, like David, had purchased
stock with glorious visions of sudden gain. In a short time the list of
Warner's unfortunate investors was known and they were accorded various
degrees of sympathy, rebuke or ridicule. The thing that hurt David was
not so much the knowledge that some were speaking of him in
condemnation or pity as the fact that he merited the condemnation.
But he had neither time nor inclination for self-pity. His country
was calling for his services and he knew his duty was to offer himself.
He could not conscientiously say his mother had urgent need of him for
he knew that the little farm would supply enough for her maintenance.
Phares Eby, although a preacher among a sect who, as a sect, could
not sanction the bearing of arms, accepted the decision of his cousin
with no show of disapproval. I don't believe in wars, he said
gravely, but there seems to be no other way this time. One of the Eby
family should go. I'll be glad to keep up your farm and help look after
your mother while you are gone. The most I can do here will be less
than you are going to do, but I'll raise the best crops I can and help
in the food end of it.
You'll do your part here, Phares, and it will count. You're a
bona-fide farmer. You'll have our little place a record farm when I get
back. You're a brick, Phares! For the first time in months he felt a
genuine affection for his preacher cousin. Preaching, prosaic Phares,
how kind he was!
Lancaster County measured up to its fair standard in those first
trying days of recruit gathering. The sons of the nation answered when
she called. Pennsylvania Dutch, hundreds of them, rallied round the
flag and proved beyond a doubt that the real Pennsylvania Dutch are not
German-American, but loyal, four-square Americans who are keeping the
faith. Two hundred years ago the ancestors of the present Pennsylvania
Dutch came to this country to escape tyranny, and the love of freedom
has been transmitted from one generation to another. The plain sects,
so flourishing in some portions of the Keystone State, consider war an
evil, yet scores of men in navy blue and army khaki have come from
homes where the mother wears the white cap, and have gone forth to do
their part in the struggle for world freedom.
As David Eby measured the days before his departure he felt grateful
to Mother Bab for refraining from long homilies of advice. Her whole
life was a living epistle of truth and nobility and she was wise enough
to discern that what her son wanted most in their last days together
was her customary cheerfulnessalthough he knew that at times the
cheerfulness was a bit bluffed!
News travels fast, even in rural communities. The people on the Metz
farm soon learned of David's loss of money and of his desire to enter
Why didn't you tell me about the stock? Phoebe chided him.
I couldn't. It knocked me outit changed some of my plans. I knew
you'd despise me and I couldn't stand that too that day.
Despise you! How foolish to think that. Of course it's better to
earn your money, but I think you learned your lesson.
I have. I'll never try to get rich quick.
And you're going to war! The words were almost a cry. What does
Mother Bab say? How dreadful for her!
Dreadful? he asked gently. Phoebe, think a minutewould you
rather be the mother of a soldier or sailor than the mother of a
I would, she cried. A thousand times rather! She clutched his
sleeve in her old impetuous manner. I see now what it means, what war
must mean to us! We must serve and be glad to do it. Your going is
making it real for me. I'm proud of you and I know Mother Bab must be
just about bursting with pride, for she always did think you are the
grandest son in the wide world.
Phoebe, you always stroke me with the grain.
That sounds as if you were a wooden pussy-cat, she said merrily.
But you are just being funny to hide your deeper feelings. I know you,
David Eby! Bet your heart's like lead this minute!
'I have no heart,' he quoted. 'The place where my heart was you
could roll a turnip in.'
She laughed, then suddenly grew sober. I've been horribly selfish,
she said. Having fine clothes and a good time and dreaming of fame
through my voice have taken all my time during the past winter. I have
taken only the husks of life and discarded the kernels. I'm ashamed of
You mustn't condemn yourself too much. It's natural to pass through
a period when those things seem the greatest things in the world, but
if we do not shake off their influence and see the need of having real
things to lay hold on we need to be jolted. I was money-mad, but I had
Then we can both make a fresh beginning. And we'll try hard to be
worthy of Mother Bab, won't we, David?
David was mute; he could merely nod his head in answer. Worthy of
Mother Babwhat a goal! How sweet the name sounded from Phoebe's lips!
Should he tell her of his love for her? He looked into her face. Her
eyes were like clear blue pools but they mirrored only sisterly
affection, he thought. Ah, well, he would be unselfish enough to go
away without telling of the hope of his heart. If he came back there
would be ample time to tell her; it was needless to bind her to a
long-absent lover. If he came back crippledif he never came back at
allOh, why delve into the future!
CHAPTER XXX. THE FEAST OF ROSES
IN the little town of Greenwald there is performed each year in June
an interesting ceremony, the Feast of Roses.
The origin of it dates back to the early colonial days when wigwam
fires blazed in many clearings of this great land and Indians,
fashioned after the similitude of bronze images, stole among the
stalwart trees of the primeval forests. In those days, about the year
1762, a tract of land containing the present site of the little town of
Greenwald fell into the hands of a German, who was so charmed by the
fertility and beauty of the fields encircled by the winding Chicques
Creek that he laid out a town and proceeded to build. The erection of
those early houses entailed much labor. Bricks were imported from
England and hauled from Philadelphia to the new town, a distance of
almost one hundred miles.
Some time later the founder built a glass factory in the new town,
reputed to have been the first of its kind in America. Skilled workmen
were imported to carry on the work, and marvelously skilful they must
have been, as is proven by the articles of that glass still extant. It
is delicately colored, daintily shaped, when touched with metal it
emits a bell-like ring, and altogether merits the praise accorded it by
every connoisseur of rare and beautiful glass.
Tradition claims that the founder of that town was of noble birth,
but his right to a title is not an indisputable fact. It is known,
however, that he lived in baronial style in his new town. His red brick
mansion was a treasure house of tapestries, tiles and other beautiful
However, whether he was a baron or an untitled man, he merits a
share of admiration. He was founder of a glass factory, builder of a
town, founder of iron works, religious and secular instructor of his
employees and citizens, and earnest philanthropist.
The last rôle resulted in his financial embarrassment. There is an
ominous silence in the story of his life, then comes the information
that the man who had done so much for others was left at last to
languish in a debtors' jail, die unbefriended and be buried in an
In the days of his prosperity he gave to the congregation of the
Lutheran Church in his town a choice plot of ground, the consideration
being the sum of five shillings and an annual rental of one red rose in
Years passed, the man died, and either through forgetfulness or
negligence the annual rental of one red rose was unpaid for many years.
Then, one day a layman of the church found the old deed and the people
prepared to pay the long-neglected debt once more. Since that renewal
there is set apart each June a Sabbath day upon which the rose is paid
to the nearest descendant of the founder of the town. They give but one
red rose, but all around are roses, roses, and it seems most fitting to
call the unique occurrence the Feast of Roses.
If ever the little town puts on royal garb it is on the Feast of
Roses Sabbath. For days before the ceremony the homes of Greenwald are
beehives of industry. That day each train and trolley, every country
road, is crowded with strangers or old acquaintances coming into the
town. A heterogeneous crowd swarms through the street. The curious
visitor who comes to see, the dreamer who is attracted by the romance
of the rose, the careless youth who rubs his sleeve against some portly
judge or senator; the tawdry, the refined, the rich, the poorall meet
in the crowd that moves to the red brick church in which the Feast of
Roses is held.
The old church of that early day has been removed and in its place a
modern one has been erected, but by some happy inspiration of the
builders the new church is devoid of the garish ornamentation that is
too often found in churches. Harmonious coloring, artistic beauty, make
it a fitting place for a Feast of Roses.
When Phoebe Metz entered the church to keep her promise to sing at
the service she found an eager crowd waiting for the opening. Every
available space was occupied; people stood in the rear aisles, others
waited in the churchyard by the open windows and hoped to catch there
some stray parts of the service.
Phoebe pushed her way gently through the crowd at the door and stood
in the aisle until an usher saw her and directed her to a seat near the
organ. The pink in her cheeks grew deeper. I'll sing my best for
Greenwald and the Feast of Roses, she thought. And for David! He's in
the crowd. He said he's coming to hear me sing.
At the appointed hour the pipe-organ pealed out. The June sunlight
streamed through the open windows, fell upon the banks of roses, and
gleamed upon the fountain that played in the midst of the crimson
flowers. Peace brooded over the place as the last strains of music
died. There was silence for a moment, then a prayer, a hymn of
adoration, and then the chosen speaker stood before the crowd and
delivered his message.
Phoebe listened to him until he uttered the words, True life must
be service, true love must be giving. No man has reached true greatness
save he serves, and he who serves most faithfully is greatest in the
After those words she fell to thinking. Many things that had been
dark to her suddenly became light. She seemed to see Royal Lee fiddling
while the world was in travail, but beside him rose a vision of David
in sailor's blue, ready to do his whole duty for his country.
Oh, she thought, I've been blind, but now I see! It's David I
want. He's a man!
She heard as in a dream the words of the one who presented the red
rose to the heir. Once more the time has come to pay our debt of one
red rose. It is with cheerfulness and reverence we pay our rental. Amid
these bright surroundings, in the presence of the many who have come to
witness this unique ceremony, do we give to you in partial payment of
the debt we oweONE RED ROSE.
The heir received the flower and expressed her appreciation. Then
silence settled upon the place and Phoebe rose to sing.
As the organ sent forth the opening strains of music the people in
the church looked at each other, surprised, disappointed. Why, that was
the old tune, Jesus, Lover of my soul. The tune they had heard sung
hundreds of timeswas Phoebe going to sing that? With so many
impressive selections to choose from no soloist need sing that old
hymn! Some of the town people thought disdainfully, Was that all she
could sing after a whole winter's study in Philadelphia!
But Phoebe sang the old words to the old tune. She sang them with a
new power and sweetness. It touched the listeners in that rose-scented
church and revealed to them the meaning of the old hymn. The dependence
upon a divine guide, the utter impotence of mortal strength, breathed
so persuasively in the second verse that many who heard Phoebe sing it
mentally repeated the words with her.
Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee:
Leave, ah! leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me;
All my trust on Thee is stayed;
All my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenceless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.
Then the hymn changedhope displaced hopelessness, faith surmounted
Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
Grace to cleanse from every sin;
Let the healing streams abound,
Make and keep me pure within;
Thou of life the fountain art,
Freely let me take of Thee:
Spring Thou up within my heart,
Rise to all eternity.
The people in that rose-scented church heard the old hymn sung as
they had never heard it sung before. A subdued hum of approval swept
over the church as the girl sat down. She felt that she had sung well;
her heart was in a tumult of happiness. She was glad when one man rose
and lifted his hands in benediction.
Again the organ throbbed with glad melodies. The eager crowd fell
into line and walked slowly to the altar to lay their roses there.
Children with half withered blossoms, maidens with bunches of crimson
flowers, here and there a stranger with gorgeous hot-house roses, older
men and women with the products of the gardens of the little townall
moved to the spot where lay a bank of fragrant roses and placed their
Phoebe added her roses to the others on the altar and left the
church. Friends and acquaintances stopped to tell her how well she
sang. But the words that one short year ago would have filled her with
overwhelming pride in her own talent were soon crowded from her
thoughts and there reigned there the words of the speaker, No man has
reached true greatness save he serves. She had learned great things at
that Feast of Roses service. She had looked deep into her own heart and
on its throne she had found David.
He was waiting for her outside the church.
You sang fine, Phoebe, he told her as they went down the street
Yes? I'm glad you liked it.
Then they spoke of other things, of many things, but not one word of
the thoughts lying deepest in the heart of each.
Aunt Maria and Jacob were eating supper in the big kitchen when
Phoebe reached home.
Well, greeted the aunt, did you come once! We thought that Feast
of Roses would been out long ago. But when you didn't come for so long
and supper was made we sat down a while. Did you sing?
Yes, the girl said as she removed her hat and gloves and drew a
chair to the table.
Now, cautioned the aunt, put your apron on! That light goods in
your dress is nothin' for wear; everything shows on it so. And if you
spill red-beet juice or something on it it'll be spoiled.
I forgot. Phoebe took a blue gingham apron from a hook behind the
kitchen door. There, if I spoil it now you may have it for a rug.
Well, I guess that would be housekeepin'! And everything so high
since the war!
Tell me about the Feast of Roses, said the father. Was the church
Packed! It was a beautiful service.
Well, spoke up Aunt Maria, I'm glad it's over and so are many
people. Of course that Feast of Roses don't do no harm, but I think
it's so dumb to have all this fuss just to give somebody a rose. If
that man wanted to give the church some land why didn't he give it and
done with it? It's no use to have this pokin' around every year to find
the best red rose to give to some man or lady that's related to him.
The rose withers right away, anyhow. And this Feast of Roses makes some
people a lot of bother. I heard one woman say in the store that she has
to get ready for a lot of company still for every person she knows,
most, comes to visit her that Sunday and she's got to cook and wash
dishes all day. I guess she's glad it's over for another year.
CHAPTER XXXI. BLINDNESS
DAVID EBY had spent the day at Lancaster and returned to Greenwald
at seven-thirty. He started with springing step out the country road in
the soft June twilight. It was a twilight pervaded by blended perfumes
and the sleepy chirp of birds. David drew in deep breaths of the fresh
Lancaster County, he said aloud to himself, and it's good enough
Scarcely slackening his pace he started up the long road by the
hill. He paused a moment on the summit and looked back at the town of
Greenwald, then almost ran down the road to his home.
He whistled his old greeting whistle.
Here, David, I'm on the porch, came his mother's voice.
Mommie, he cried gaily as he took her into his arms, I knew you'd
be looking for me.
Then for the first time since his father's death he heard his mother
sob. Oh, mother, he asked, is my going away as hard as all that? Or
are you only glad to see me?
Glad, she replied, restraining her emotion. Sit down on the
WhyI didn't notice it firstyou're wearing dark glasses again!
Are your eyes worse?
Sit down, Davie, sit down, she said nervously. That's right, she
added as he sat beside her and put one arm about her.
Now tell me, he said imperiously. Are you sure you're all right?
You're not worrying about me?
No, I'm not worrying about you; I quit worrying long ago. But I
must tell youI wish I didn't have todon't be scaredit's just
about my eyes.
Tell me! Are they worse?
She laid her hand on his knees. Don't get excitedbutI can't
Can't see! He repeated the words as though he could not understand
them. Then he put his hands on her cheeks and peered into her face in
the semi-darkness of the porch. Not blind? Oh, mommie, not blind?
She nodded, her lips trembling. Yes, it's come. I'm blind.
The words, fraught with so much sorrow, sounded like claps of
thunder in his ears. Mother, he cried again, you can't be blind!
But I am. I knew it was coming. The light was getting dimmer every
day. I could hardly see your face this morning when you went.
And I went away and you stayed here and went blind! He broke into
sobs and she allowed him to cry it out as they sat together in the
Come, she said at length, now you mustn't take on so. It's not as
awful as you think. I said to Phares to-day that I'm almost glad it's
here, for it was awful to know it's coming.
But it's awful, he shuddered. Come in to the light and let me see
youbut oh, you can't see me!
Yes I can. She reached a hand to his face. This is the way I see
you now. The same mouth and chin, the same mole on your left
cheekthat's good luck, Daviethe same nose with its little turn-up.
Mommiehe grabbed her hands and kissed themthere's not another
like you in the whole world! If I were blind I'd be groaning and
moaning and making life miserable for everybody near me, and here you
are your same cheerful self. You're the bravest of 'em all!
But you mustn't think that I haven't rebelled against this, that I
haven't cried out against it! I've had my hours of weakness and tears
And I never knew it.
No. Each one goes to Gethsemane alone.
But isn't it almost more than you can bearto be blind?
It's dreadful at first. I stumble so and every little sill and rug
seems a foot high. But I'll soon learn.
Is there nothing to do? What did Dr. Munster say about your eyes
when we were down to see him?
He told me then I'd be blind soon. And he said the only thing might
save my sight or bring it back was a delicate operation that would be a
big risk, for it probably wouldn't help at any rate. So I'm not
thinking of ever trying that. Now I don't want you to think I'm brave
about it. I've cried all my tears a month ago, so don't put me on any
pedestal. It seems hard not to see the people I love and all the
beautiful things around me, but I'm glad I have the memory of them. I'm
glad I know what a rainbow is, and a sunset.
Yes, but I think it's awful to know what they look like and never
see them again. I can't, just can't, realize that you're blind!
You will when you come back from war and have to fetch and carry
for me. Your Aunt Mary and Phares are just lovely about it and willing
to help in every way. I was going to live over with them at any rate.
I wish I could stay with you, mommie. You need me, but I guess
Uncle Sam needs me too. I'm to go soon, you know.
You go, even if I am blind. I'm not helpless. It will be awkward
for a while but there are many things I can do. I can knit without
You're a wonder! But is there no hope?
Hope, she repeated softly. No hope of the kind you mean, except
that very severe operation that would cost big money and then perhaps
not help. But this world isn't all. I've always liked that part of
Isaiah, 'The eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the
deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and
the tongue of the dumb sing.' I know now what it'll mean to us. It
seems like the afflicted will have a special joy in that time.
David was silent for a moment; his mother's words stirred in him
emotions too great for ready words.
Presently she continued, But, Davie, this isn't heaven yet! And I'm
concerned just now about helping myself to live the rest of this life
the best way I can. I can knit like a machine and I like to knit
The remainder was left unsaid for the strong arms of her boy
surrounded her and held her close while his lips were pressed upon her
Such a mother, he breathed, as if the touch of her forehead
bestowed a benediction upon him. Such a mother!
In the morning he brought the news to the Metz farmhouse.
Blind? Phoebe cried.
Blind! Mother Bab blind? Oh, it's too awful!
My goodness, Aunt Maria said with genuine sorrow, now that's too
bad! Her blind and you goin' off to war soon!
I'm going up to see her, said Phoebe, and went off with David.
Mother Bab heard the girl's step and called gaily, Phoebe, is that
you? I declare, it sounds like you!
Phoebe ran to the room where Mother Bab sat alone. The girl could
not speak at first; she twined her arms about the woman while her heart
ached with its poignant grief. Again it was the afflicted one who
turned comforter. Come, Phoebe, you mustn't cry for me. Laugh like you
always did when you came to see me.
Laugh! Oh, Mother Bab, I can't laugh!
But, Phoebe, I'll want you to come up to see me every day when you
can and you surely can't cry every time and be sad, so you might as
well begin now to be cheerful.
But, Mother Bab, can't something be done?
Dr. Munster, the big doctor I saw in Philadelphia, said that only a
big operation might help me, but he's not sure that even it would do
any good. And, of course, we have no money for it and at my age it
doesn't matter so much.
Later, as Phoebe walked down the hill again, she kept revolving in
her mind what Mother Bab had said about the operation. An inspiration
suddenly flashed to her. The wonder of it made her stand still in the
I know! I'll buy sight for Mother Bab! I will! I must! If it's only
money that's necessary, if there's any wonderful doctor can operate on
her eyes and make her see again she's going to see! Oh, glory! What a
happy thought! I'm the happiest girl since that idea came to me! The
money I meant to spend on more music lessons next winter will be put to
better use; it will give Mother Bab a chance to see again! Why, I'd
rather have her see than be able to call myself the greatest
singer in the world! But she'll never let me spend so much money for
her. I know that. I'll have to make her believe the operation will be
free. I can fool her in that, dear, innocent, trusting Mother Bab!
She'd believe me against half the world. But I'm afraid I can't fool
David so easily. I must wait till he goes, then I'll write to Dr.
Munster and start things going!
CHAPTER XXXII. OFF TO THE NAVY
PHOEBE was glad when David came to her with the news that he had
been accepted for the navy and was going to Norfolk.
That's so far away he won't come home soon, she thought. It'll
give me a chance to arrange for the operation. I hope he goes soon.
That's a dreadful thing to say! The days are all too short for Mother
Bab, I know.
If the days seemed Mercury-shod to the blind mother she did not
It's hard to let you go, she said to her boy, but it would be
harder to see you a slacker. Phoebe is going to read to me now when you
go. She'll be up here often.
Yes, that makes it easier for me to go, mommie.
Don't you worry about me. Phoebe will be good company for me and
she'll write my letters for me. We'll send you so many you'll be busy
I'm going to make her promise that, he declared with a laugh.
He exacted the promise as Mother Bab and Phoebe stood with him and
waited for the train to carry him away. Mother, you and Phoebe must
take me to the train, he had said. I want you to be the last picture
I see as the train pulls out. Phoebe had assented, though she thought
ruefully of the deficiency of the English language, which has but one
form for singular you and plural you. She wondered
whether he included her in the picture he wanted to cherish in his
memory. Now, when he was going away from her she knew that she loved
her old playmate, that he was the one man in the world for her. She
loved David, she would always love him! She wanted to run to him and
tell him so, but centuries of restriction had bequeathed to her the
universal fear of womanhood to reveal a love that has not been sought.
She felt that in all her life she had never wanted anything so keenly
as she wanted to hear David Eby tell her that he loved her, that her
face would be with him in whatever circumstances the future should
place him. But David could not read the heart of his old playmate, and
while his own heart cried out for its mate his words were commonplace.
Mother has promised that I'm to have so many letters that I can't
read them all. As you're to be private secretary, you'll have to
promise to carry out her promise.
David, she met him with equal jest, you have as many promises in
that sentence as a candidate for political office.
But I want them better kept than that, he said, laughing. Will
you promise, Phoebe?
Promise what? she asked, the levity fading suddenly.
To write often for mother.
YesI promise to write often for Mother Bab, she said, and the
man could not know the effort the simple words cost her. Oh, Davie,
she thought, it's not for Mother Bab alone I want to write to you! I
want to write you my letters, letters of a girl to the man she
loves. How blind you are!
The moment was becoming tense. It was Mother Bab who turned the tide
into a normal channel. Now, don't you worry, Davie. I can make Phoebe
The train whistled. Phoebe drew a long breath and prayed that the
train would make a short stop and speed along for she could not endure
much more. She looked at Mother Bab. The hysteria was turned from her.
She knew she would have to be brave for the sake of the dear mother.
I'll take care of Mother Bab, David, she promised as the train
drew in, and I'll write often.
Phoebe, you're an angel! He grasped both hands in his for a long
moment. Then he turned to his mother, folded her in his arms and kissed
There he is, Phoebe cried as the train moved. She was eyes for
Mother Bab. Turn to the right a bit and wave; that's it! He's waving
back Oh, Mother Bab, he's waving that box of sand-tarts Aunt Maria
gave him! They'll be in pieces!
Sand-tarts, said the other, still waving to the boy she could not
see. Well, he'll eat them if they are broken. Davie is crazy for
I'm going to need you more than ever now, Phoebe, Mother Bab said
as they started home. Aunt Mary and Phares are so busy and I feel it's
so lovely of them to have me there when I can do so little to help,
that I don't want to make them more trouble than I must. So if you'll
take care of the writing to David for me I'll be glad. Ah, blind
Mother Bab, you had splendid vision just then!
I'll write for you. I'll love to do it. Mother Bab She
hesitated. Should she broach the subject of the operation now? Perhaps
it would be kind to divert the thoughts of the mother from the recent
parting. Mother Bab, I've thought about what you said, and I think you
should have that operation. The doctor said there was a chance.
Ach, a very slim one. One chance inI don't know how many!
But a chance!
Yesthe woman thought a momentbut it would cost lots of money,
I guess. I didn't ask the doctor, but I know operations are dear. I
have fifty dollars saved, but that wouldn't go far.
But don't you know, the girl said guilelessly, that all big
hospitals have free rooms and do lots of work for nothing? Many rich
people endow rooms in hospitals. If you could get into one like that
and pay just a little, would you go?
A light seemed to settle upon the face of the blind woman. Why,
she answered slowly, why, Phoebe, I never thought of that! I didn't
rememberwhy, I guess I wouldyes, of course! I'd go and make a fight
for that one chance!
I knew you'd be brave! You'll have that operation, Mother Bab! I'll
write to Dr. Munster right away. But don't you let Phares write and
tell David. We'll surprise him!
Ach, but won't he be glad if I can see when he comes home!
Won't he though! I'll make all the arrangements; don't you worry
about it at all.
My, you're good to me, Phoebe!
Goodafter all you've done for me!
Good, she thought after Mother Bab had been left at the
home of Phares and Phoebe turned homeward. She calls me good the first
time I deceive her. I've begun that tangled web and I know I'll have to
tell a whole pack of lies before I'm through with it.
CHAPTER XXXIII. THE ONE CHANCE
PHOEBE lost no time in carrying out her plans. When she mentioned
the operation to Phares Eby he looked dubious.
I'm afraid it's no use, he said gravely. Those operations very
But there's a chance, Phares! If it were your eyes wouldn't you
snatch at any meagre chance?
Why, I guess I would, he admitted, wondering at her insight into
human nature and admiring her devotion to the blind woman.
Aunt Maria also was sceptical. Ach, Phoebe, it vonders me now that
Barb'll spend all that money for carfare and to stay in the city and
then mebbe it's all for nothin'. There was old Bevy Way and a lot of
old people I knowed went blind and they died blind. When abody gets so
old once it seems the doctors can't do much. I guess it just is to be.
Oh, Aunt Maria, Phoebe said hotly, I don't believe in that
is-to-be business! Not until you've done all you can to make things
Well, mebbe, for all, it's worth tryin'. I guess if it was my eyes
I'd do most anything to get 'em fixed again.
Mother Bab said little about the hopes Phoebe had raised, but the
girl knew how the woman built upon having sight for a glad surprise for
I'm afraid the fifty dollars won't reach, she said the day before
they were to take the trip to Philadelphia.
Don't worry about that. Those big doctors usually have hearts to
match. I told you there are generous people who give lots of money to
And I guess the hospitals pay the doctors then, offered the woman.
I guess so, Phoebe agreed. Her conscience smote her for the
deception she was practicing on the dear white-capped woman. But
what's the use of straining at every little gnat of a falsehood, she
thought, when I'm swallowing camels wholesale?
She managed to secure a short interview with Dr. Munster before the
examination of Mother Bab's eyes.
I want to ask you what the operation is going to cost, hospital
charges and all, she said frankly.
At least five hundred dollars.
Phoebe's year in the city had taught her many things. She showed no
surprise at the amount named. That will be satisfactory, Dr. Munster.
But I want to ask you, please don't tell MothMrs. Eby anything about
it. Iit's to be paid by a friend. I know Mrs. Eby would almost faint
if she knew so much money was going to be spent for her. She knows that
many hospitals have free rooms and thinks some operations are free. I
left her under that impression. You understand?
The big doctor understood. Yes, I see. Well, we'll run this one
chance to cover and make a fight. I wish I could promise more, he
Thank you. I know you'll succeed. I'm sure she'll see again!
True to his promise Dr. Munster answered Mother Bab so tactfully
that she came out of his office feeling that the physician is the
flower of our civilization, that cheerfulness and generosity are a part
of his virtues.
The optimism in Phoebe's heart tinged the blind woman's with its
cheery faith. I figure it this way, the girl said; we'll do all we
can and then if we fail there's time enough to be resigned and say it's
Phoebe, you're a wonderful girl! Your name means shining,
and that just suits you. You're doing so much for me. Why, you didn't
even want to let me pay your carfare down here!
The girl winced again. I must learn to wince without showing it,
she thought, for after she sees she'll keep saying such things and I
can't spoil it all by letting her know the truth.
Perhaps the optimistic words of Phoebe rang in the ears of the big
doctor as he bent over Mother Bab's sightless eyes and began the
tedious operation. His hands moved skilfully, with infinite precision,
cutting to the infinitesimal fraction of an inch.
Afterward, when Mother Bab had been taken away, he sought Phoebe. I
hope, he said, that your faith was not unwarranted, though I can't
promise anything yet.
Oh, I'm surer now than ever! the girl said happily.
But at times, in the days of waiting, her heart ached. What if the
operation had failed, what if Mother Bab would have to bear cruel
disappointment? All the natural buoyancy of the girl's nature was
required to bear her through the trying days of waiting. With the
dawning of the day upon which the bandage should be removed and the
truth known Phoebe's excitement could not be restrained.
I can't wait! she exclaimed. I want to be right there when he
takes it off. I want you to see me first, since David isn't here.
Long after that day it seemed to her that she could hear Mother
Bab's glad, sweet voice saying, I can see!
I can see! The words were electric in their effect. Phoebe gave an
ecstatic Oh! then hushed as her lips trembled.
You win, the big doctor said to her.
Oh, no, not I! You! But I knew she'd see again!
She sees again, but, he cautioned, Mrs. Eby, there must be no
reading or sewing or any close work to strain your eyes.
Oh, doctor, it's enough just to see again! I can do without the
reading and writing, for Phoebe, here, does all that for me. And I'll
not miss the sewing. I'm glad I can potter around the garden again and
plant flowers and see them andher voice brokeI think it's
wonderful there are men like you in the world!
CHAPTER XXXIV. BUSY DAYS
THE news of the operation spread quickly and with it spread the
interesting information that Mother Bab was keeping her sight as a
surprise for David. So it happened that no letters to him contained the
news, that even the town paper refrained from printing the item of
heart interest and David's surprise was unspoiled.
His letters to Mother Bab were long and interesting and always
required frequent re-reading for the mother.
I wanted to read that letter awful bad, she confessed to Phoebe
one day, but I didn't. I'm not taking any chances with my eyes. I'm
too glad to be able to see at all. The letter came this morning and
Phares read it for me, but I want to hear it again. Will you read it,
Phoebe? Did David write to you this week yet?
No. The girl felt the color surging to her cheeks. He doesn't
write to me very often. He knows I read your letters.
Ach, yes. I guess he's busy, too. It's a big change for him to be
learning to be a sailor when he always had his feet on dry land. But
read the letter; it's a nice big one.
Phoebe's clear laughter joined Mother Bab's at one paragraph: Do
you remember the blue sailor suits you used to make for me when I was a
tiny chap? And once you made me a real tam and I was proud as a peacock
in it. Well, since I'm here and wearing a sailor suit I feel like a
masculine edition of Alice in Wonderland when she felt herself growing
bigger and bigger and I wonder sometimes if I'll shrink back again and
be just that little boy.
Another portion of the letter set Phoebe's voice trembling as she
read, I must tell you again, mother, how thankful I am that you made
it so much easier for me to go than I dreamed it could be. You are so
fine about it. With a mother as plucky as you I can't very well be a
jelly-fish. It's great to have a mother one has to reach high to live
Just like David, said Phoebe as she laid the letter aside. Of
course I think war is dreadful, but the training is going to do wonders
for many of the men.
Yes, said the white-capped woman. Out of it some good will come.
Selfishness is going to be erased clean from the souls of many people
by the time war is over.
But we must pay a big price for all we gain from it.
YesI wonderI guess Davie will be going over soon. He said, you
know, that if we don't hear from him for a while not to worry. I guess
that means he thinks he'll be going over.
When, at length, news came from the other side it was Phoebe who was
the bringer of the tidings.
Oh, Mother Bab, she cried breathlessly one day in autumn as she
ran back from the gate after a visit from the postman, it's a letter
Phares Eby and his mother ran at the news and the four stood, an
eager group, as Phoebe opened the letter.
Read it, Phoebe! He's over safely! Mother Bab's voice was eager.
II can't read it. I'm too excited. I can't get my breath. You
read it, Phares.
The preacher read in his slow, calm way.
Somewhere in France.
You see by the heading I'm safe over here. I can't
tell you much about the tripno use wearing out
the censor's pencils. The sea's wonderful, but I
like dry land better. I'm on dry land now, in a
quaint French village where the streets run up hill
and the people wear strange costumes. The women
wash their clothes by beating them on stones in the
brookhow would the Lancaster County women like
It was a long, chatty letter and it warmed the heart of the mother
and interested Phoebe and the others who heard it.
He's a great David, the preacher said as he handed the letter to
Phoebe. I suppose you'll have to read it over and over to Aunt
He looked at the girl as he spoke. Her high color and shining eyes
spoke eloquently of her interest in the letter. Ah, he thought, I
believe she still likes Davie best. I'm sure she does.
The preacher had been greatly changed by the events of the past
year. He would always be a bit too strict in his views of life, a bit
narrow in many things. Nevertheless, he was changed. He was less harsh
in his opinions of others since he had seen and heard how thousands who
were not of his religious faith had gone forth to lay down their lives
that the world might be made a decent place in which to live. He,
Phares Eby, preacher, had formerly denounced all that pertained to
actors and the theatre, yet tears had coursed down his cheeks as he had
read the account of a famous comedian who had given his only son for
the cause of freedom and who was going about in the camps and in the
trenches bringing cheer to the men. As the preacher read that he
confessed to himself that the comedian, familiar as he was with
footlights, was doing more good in the world than a dozen Phares Ebys.
That one incident swept away some of the prejudice of the preacher. He
knew he could never sanction the doings so many people indulge in but
he felt at the same time that those same pleasures need not have a
damning influence upon all people.
Phoebe noted the change in him. She felt like a discoverer of hidden
treasure when she heard of the influence he was exerting in behalf of
the Red Cross and Liberty Loans. But she was finding hidden treasures
in many places those days. Strenuous, busy days they were but they held
many revelations of soul beauty.
Every link with Phoebe's former life in Philadelphia was broken save
the one binding her to Virginia. That friendship was too precious to be
shattered. The country girl had written a long letter to the city girl,
telling of the decision to give up the music lessons. My dear, dear
friend, she wrote frankly, you tried to keep me from being hurt, but
I wouldn't see. How I must have worried you and how foolish I was! I
know better now. I do not regret my winter in the city and I do
appreciate all you did for me, but I am happy to be back on the farm
again. I'm afraid I tried to be an American Beauty rose when I was
meant to be just some ordinary wild flower like the daisy or even the
common yarrow. I owe so much to you. We must always be friends.
One day in late summer Phoebe fairly radiated joy as she hurried up
the hill and ran down the road to the garden where Mother Bab was
gathering larkspur seeds.
Oh, Mother Bab, I've such good news about Granny Hogendobler and
Come in, tell me!
I've been to town and stopped to see Granny. You know Old Aaron and
their boy Nason fell out years ago about something the boy said about
the flag and was too stubborn to take back.
Yes, I know.
It was foolishness on the part of the father, of course, for he
should have known boys say things they don't mean. Well, the two kept
on acting all these years like strangers. The old man grew bitter. Last
year when the boys went to Mexico he said that if he had a son instead
of a blockhead he'd be sending a boy to do his share down there. It
almost killed him to think of his boy sitting back while others went
and defended the flag. Well, Granny said yesterday she was in the yard
and she heard the gate click. She didn't pay any attention for she knew
Old Aaron was in the front yard under the arbor. But then she heard a
cry and ran to see, and there was Old Aaron with his arms around a big
fellow dressed in a soldier uniform, and when the man turned his head
it was Nason! Granny said it was the greatest day in their lives and
paid up for all the unhappy days when Old Aaron was cross and said mean
things about Nason. Nason had just a day to stay, but they made a day
of it. Granny said, 'I-to-goodness, but we had a time! Aaron wanted to
kill a chicken, for Nason likes chicken so much, but I knew that Aaron
was so excited he'd like as not only cripple the poor thing, so I said
I'd kill it while they talked. I made stuffing with onions in, like
Nason likes, and I had just baked a snitz pie and I tell you we had a
good dinner. But I bet them two didn't know what they ate, for they
were all the time talking about the war and bombs and Gettysburg and
France till I didn't know what they meant.'
My, I'm glad for Granny and Old Aaron, Mother Bab said.
And what do you think! Phoebe went on. They are changing the name
of Prussian Street, and some are talking of changing the name of the
town, but I hope they won't do that.
No, it would be strange to have to call it something else after all
I think it's a grand joke, said Phoebe, that this little town was
founded by a German and yet the town is strong American and doing its
best to down the Potsdam gang. The people of Lancaster County are loyal
to Old Glory and I'm glad I belong here.
She appreciated her goodly heritage, not with any Pharisaical
exultation but with honest gratitude.
I have learned many things, Mother Bab, and this is one of the big
things I've learned lately: to be everlastingly thankful to Providence
for setting me down on a farm where I could spend a childhood filled
with communications with nature. I never before realized what blessings
I've had all the years of my life. Why, I've had chickens to play with
and feed, cows and wobbly calves to pet, birds to love and learn about,
clear streams to wade in and float daisies on, meadows to play in,
hills to run down while the dust went 'spif' under my bare feet. And
I've had flowers, thousands of wild flowers, to find and carry home or,
if too frail to bear carrying home, like the delicate spring beauty and
the bluet, just to look at and admire and turn again to look at as I
went out of the woods. My whole childhood has been a wonderful one but
I was too blind to see the wonder of it. I see now! But, Mother Bab, I
don't see, even yet, that I should wear plain clothes. I've been
thinking about it lately. I do believe, though, that the plain way is a
good way. Many people enjoy the simple service of the meeting-house
more than they would enjoy a more complex form of worship. I feel so
restful and peaceful when I'm in a meeting-house, so near to the real
things, the things that count.
Mother Bab answered only a mild Yes, but her heart sang as she
thought, I believe she'll be plain some day, she and David. Perhaps
they'll come together. But I'll not worry about them; I know their
hearts are right.
CHAPTER XXXV. DAVID'S SHARE
ANOTHER June came with its roses and perfume, but there was no Feast
of Roses in Greenwald that June of 1918. Phoebe regretted the fact, for
she felt that even in a war-racked world, with the multiple duties and
anxiety and suffering of many of its people, there should still be time
for a service as beautiful and inspiring as the Feast of Roses.
But all thoughts of it or similar omissions were crowded into the
background one day when the news came to Mother Bab that David had been
wounded in France.
The official telegram flashed over the wire and in due time came a
letter with more satisfying details. The letter was characteristic of
David: I suppose you heard that the Boche got me, but he didn't get
all of me, just one leg. What hurts me most is the fact that I didn't
get a few Huns first or do some real thing for the cause before I got
knocked out. I know you'll feel better satisfied if I tell you all
about it. Several of the other boys and I left the town where we were
stationed and went to Paris for a few days. It was our first pleasure
trip since we came to this side. We gazed upon the things we studied
about in schoolEiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and so forth. Later we went
to a railroad station where refugees were coming in, fleeing from the
invading Huns. I can't ever forget that sight! Women and children they
were, but such women and children! Women who had gone through hell and
children who had seen more horror in their few years that we can ever
dream possible. Terror and suffering have lodged shadows in their eyes
till one wonders if some of them will ever smile or laugh again. Many
of them were wounded and in need of medical care. They carried with
them their sole possessions, all of their belongings they could gather
and take with them as they rushed away from the hordes of the enemy
soldiers. We helped to place them into Red Cross vans to be taken to a
safe place in the southern part of the country. As we were putting them
into the vans the signal came that an air raid was on. The subways are
places for refuge during the raids, so we hurried them out of the vans
and into subways. They all got in safely but I was a bit too slow. I
got knocked out and my right leg was so badly splintered that I'm
better off without it. The thing worries me most is that I'll be sent
home out of the fight before I fairly got into it.
Oh, Mother Bab, Phoebe said sobbingly, his right leg's gone!
It might be worse. ButI wish I could be with him.
But isn't it just like him, said Phoebe proudly, to write as
though it was carelessness caused the accident, when we know he got
others to safety and never thought of himself. He was just as brave as
the boys who fight.
Yes. There is still much to be thankful for. Many mothers will get
sadder news than mine. You must write him a long letter.
It was a long letter, indeed, that the mother dictated to her boy.
When it was written Phoebe added a little postscript, David, I'm
mighty proud of you! To this he responded, Thank you for your pride
in me, but don't you go making a hero of me; I can't live up to that
when I get home. Guess I'll be sent back as soon as my leg is healed.
Uncle Sam has no need of me here since I bungled things and left a leg
in Paris. I'll have to do the rest of my bit on the farm. I wasn't a
howling success as a farmer when I had two legs, but perhaps my luck
has turned. I'm going to raise chickens and do my best to make the
little farm a paying one.
He's the same cheerful David, thought the girl, and we'll have to
keep cheerful about it, too.
But it was no easy matter to continue steadfast in cheerfulness
during the long days of the summer. Phoebe and Mother Bab shared the
anxiety of many others as the news came that the armies of the enemy
were pushing nearer to Paris, nearer, and nearer, with the Americans
and their allies fighting like demons and contesting every inch of the
ground. A fear rose in Phoebewhat if the Germans should reach Paris,
what if they should win the war! But it can't be! she thought.
Her confidence was not unwarranted. Soon came the turn of the tide
and the German drive was checked. One July day shrieking whistles,
frenzied ringing of bells, impromptu parades and waving flags, spread
the news that America's contemptible little army was helping to push
the Germans back, back!
It's the beginning of the end for the Germans, said Phoebe
jubilantly as she ran to Mother Bab with the news. If they once start
running they'll sprint pretty lively. We'll have to tell David about
the excitement in town when the whistles blewbut, ach, I forgot! He
won't think that was much excitement after he's been in real
Mother Bab laughed with the girl. But we'll have lots to tell him
when he comes back, she said. And won't he be glad I can see!
CHAPTER XXXVI. DAVID'S RETURN
IT was October of 1918 when David Eby alighted from the train at
Greenwald and started out the country road to his home. He could not
resist the temptation to run into the yard of the gray farmhouse and
into the kitchen where Aunt Maria and Phoebe were working.
The cries came gladly from the two women as he bounded over the sill
and extended his hand, first to the older woman, then to Phoebe.
I just had to stop in here for a minute! Then I must run up the
hill to mother. This place looks too good to pass by. How are you?
You're both looking fine.
Ach, we're well, Aunt Maria had to answer, Phoebe remaining
speechless. But why, David! You got two legs and no crutches! I
thought you lost a leg.
I did, he said, smiling, but Uncle Sam gave me another one.
Why, abody'd hardly know it. Ain't, Phoebe, he just limps a little?
Now I bet your mom'll be glad to see youto have you back again, I
Yes. I can't wait to get up the hill. I must go now. I'll be down
later, Phoebe, he added.
All right, she said quietly.
Ach, Phoebe, Aunt Maria exclaimed after he left, did you hear me?
I almost give it away that his mom can see. Abody can be awful dumb
still! But won't he be glad when he knows that she ain't blind! She can
see him again. Ach, Phoebe, it's lots of nice people in the world, for
all. It makes abody feel good to know them two are havin' a happy
I'm so glad for both I could sing.
Go on, said the woman; I'm glad too, and I believe I could help
you to holler.
As David climbed the hill by the woodland he thought musingly,
Strikes me Phoebe didn't seem extra glad to see me. Perhaps she was
just surprised, perhaps my being crippled changed her. Oh, Phoebe, I
want you more than ever! I wonderis it some nerve to ask you to marry
However, all disquieting thoughts were forgotten as he reached the
summit of the hill and saw his boyhood home.
He whistled his old greeting whistle. At the sound of it Mother Bab
ran to the door.
It's David come home! she cried, her renewed eyes turned to the
road, her hands outstretched.
I'm back, mommie! he called before his running feet could take him
to her. But as he held her again to his heart there were no words
adequate for the greeting. Their joy was great enough to be
inarticulate for a while.
But, Davie, the mother said after a long silence, you come
running! You have no crutches!
Why, mommie! There was questioning wonder in his voice. How do
you know? You couldn't see! You are blind!
Oh, Davie, not any more! I can see!
You can see? He put a hand at each side of the white-capped head
and looked into her eyes. They were not the dull, half-staring eyes of
blindness but eyes lighted by loving recognition.
Again words failed him as he swept her into his arms. But he could
not long be silent. Tell me, he cried. I must know! What
miraclewhohowwho did it? When?
Oh, Davie, you're not changed a bit! Same old question box! But
I'll tell you all about it.
Throughout the story Mother Bab told ran the name of Phoebe. Phoebe
planned it all, Phoebe made the arrangements with the doctor, Phoebe
took me down to Philadelphia, Phoebe was there when I found I could
seeit was Phoebe, Phoebe, till the man felt his heart singing the
Isn't she going on with her music lessons? he asked. I was afraid
she'd be in the city when I got back.
She's given them up. It ain't like her to begin a thing and get
tired of it so soon. All at once after we came back from Philadelphia
she said she had enough of music, she was tired of it, and was going to
stay at home and be useful. I'm glad she's not going off again, for it
gets lonesome without her. You stopped to see her on the way up?
Yes, just a minute. I'm going down again later. She hardly said two
words to me.
You took her by surprise, I guess. Give her a chance and she'll ask
you a hundred questions.
But when he paid the promised visit to Phoebe he was again
disappointed by her lack of the old comradely friendliness. She shared
his joy at Mother Bab's restored sight but when he began to thank her
for her part in it she disclaimed all credit and asked questions to
lead him from the subject of the operation. The girl seemed interested
in all he said yet there was a restraint in her manner. For the first
time in his life David was baffled by her attitude. As he climbed the
hill again he thought, Now, what's the matter with Phoebe? Was she or
wasn't she glad to see me? I couldn't tell her I love her when she acts
like that! And I'm a cripple, and she's beautifulOh, my mind's in a
muddle! But one thing's clearI want Phoebe Metz for my wife.
CHAPTER XXXVII. A LOVE THAT LIFE
COULD NEVER TIRE
THE next morning Phares Eby called David, Wait, I want to see you.
IDavid, the preacher began gravely, perhaps I shouldn't tell you,
but I really think I ought. Do you know all Phoebe did for your mother
while you were gone?
Why, yes. Mother told me. Phoebe was lovely to her. She's been
great! Writing her letters and doing ever so many kind things for her.
I knowbutI guess you don't know all she did. That story about a
great doctor operating for charity didn't quite please me. I thought as
long as it was in the family I'd pay him for what he did. So I wrote to
him and his secretary wrote back that the bill had been paid by a check
signed by Phoebe Metzthe bill had been five hundred dollars. I guess
that explains her giving up the music lessons. What a girl she is to
make such a sacrifice! She don't know that I know, but I felt I ought
to tell you.
Five hundred dollars! Phoebe did that for usshe paid it? Oh,
Phares, I'm glad you told me! I'm going to find her right away and
thank her! You're a brick for telling me!
The preacher smiled as David turned and ran down the hill, but
preachers are only humanhe felt a pang of pain as he went back to his
work in the field while David went to find Phoebe.
David forgot for the time that he was crippled as he ran limping
over the road. Dressed in his working clothes, his head bare to the
October sunlight, he hurried to the gray farmhouse.
Phoebe here? he asked Aunt Maria.
What's wrong? Anything the matter at your house? she asked.
No. Nothing's wrong. Where's Phoebe?
Ach, over at the quarry again for weeds or something like she
brings home all the time.
All right. He turned to the gate. I'll find her.
He half ran up the sheltered road to the old stone quarry.
Phoebe, he cried when he caught sight of her as she stooped to
gather goldenrod that fringed the woods.
Why, David, what's the matter? she asked as she stood erect and
You angel! he cried, taking her hands in his and spilling the
goldenrod over the ground. You angel! he said again, and the full
gratitude of his heart shone from his eyes. You bought Mother Bab's
sight! You gave up the music lessons that she might see!
How d'you know? she challenged.
Oh, I know! He told her briefly. That's all true, isn't it?
Yes, she admitted. I can't lie out of it now, I guess. Though
I've lied like a trooper about it already. But you needn't get excited
about it. Mother Bab's earned more than that from me!
Oh, Phoebe! The man could hardly refrain from taking her in his
arms. You're an angel! To sacrifice all that for usit's the most
unselfish thing I've ever heard of! You gave her sight so she could see
me. I came right down to bless you and to thank you.
Other words sought utterance but he fought them back. Phoebe must
have read his heart, for she looked up suddenly and asked, And you
came all the way down here just to say thank you! There's nothing
Then, half-ashamed and startled at her forwardness, her gaze
But the words had worked their magic. There is something
else! David cried, exulting. I can't wait any longer to tell you! I
He held out his arms and as she smiled into his face his arms
enfolded her and he knew that she loved him. But he wanted to hear the
sweet words from her lips. Is it so? he asked. You do care for me,
you'll marry me?
Oh, Davie, did you think I could live the rest of my life without
you? Did you think I could love you any less because you're crippled?
He flushed. It seemed like working on your sympathy to ask you.
And if you hadn't asked me, Davie, she began.
Yes, go on. If I hadn't asked you
I should have asked you!
They both laughed at that, but a moment later were serious as he
said, Just the same, Phoebe, it seems presumptuous for a maimed man to
ask a girl like you to marry him. You are beautiful and you have a
wonderful voiceand you've done such wonderful things for Mother Bab
and me. You have sacrificed so much
Stop, David! she cried, her voice ominously tearful. David, don't
hurt me like that! Do you love me?
I do. His words had all the solemnity of a marriage vow.
You know I love you?
Then, David, can't you see that we love each other not only in
prosperity but in misfortunes as well?
What a big heart you have, dear, what a woman's heart! I have two
wonderful women in my life, Mother Bab and you.
Phoebe felt the delicacy and magnitude of the tribute. I'm happy,
Davie, she said softly. I feel so safe with youno doubts, no
Just love, he added.
Just love, she repeated.
Then, Phoebehow she loved the name from his lipsyou'll marry
me? He said it as though he could not quite believe his good fortune.
Then you will marry me?
Yes, if you want.
If I want! Oh, Phoebe, Phoebe, I have always wanted it!
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