"It was unrighteous and wicked," Robert exclaimed.
"I do not wonder that it seems so to you, as it must to every one who believes in justice and fair dealing," Mr. Adams continued; "but human nature is apt to be selfish. In 1696 Parliament passed an act establishing the Lords of Trade, giving seven men, selected by the king, authority to control and regulate commerce. The governors of the Colonies were to carry out the provisions of the act, which forbade all traffic between Ireland and the Colonies, and which repealed all the laws enacted by the colonial legislatures relating to trade and manufactures."
[Footnote 20: "The causes which brought about the American Revolution will be found in the acts of the Board of Trade."—JOHN ADAMS.]
"Did not the people protest against such a law?" Robert asked.
"Yes, the Great and General Court sent a protest to London, but they might as well have whistled to the wind."
Mr. Adams turned partly round in his chair and took a paper from his desk.
"This is a copy," he continued, "of the protest. It represents that the people were already much cramped in their liberties and would be fools to consent to have their freedom further abridged. They were not bound to obey those laws, because they had no voice in making them. They stood on their natural rights. It would take many hours to tell you, Mr. Walden, the full story of oppression on the part of Parliament towards the Colonies, or to picture the greed of the merchants and manufacturers of England, who could not then, and who cannot now, bear to think of a spinning-wheel whirling or a shuttle flying anywhere outside of England, or of anybody selling anything unless for the benefit of the men who keep shop in the vicinity of Threadneedle Street or Amen Corner. The course of England in selfishness and greed is like the prayer of the man who said,—
"'O Lord, bless my wife and me, Son John and his she, We four, No more.'"
[Footnote 21: Threadneedle Street and Amen Corner—noted localities in London.]
Robert, Berinthia, and Mrs. Adams laughed heartily. Mr. Adams finished his mush and milk, and while Mrs. Adams was serving the pandowdy he went on:—
"Memory goes back to my boyhood. When I was ten years old or thereabouts, there were no less than sixteen hat makers and possibly more in this one town. I used to pass several of the shops on my way to school. Beavers were plenty on all the streams in New Hampshire and western Massachusetts, and the hatters were doing a thriving business, sending their hats to the West Indies and Holland. One of the merchants sent some to England. The makers of felt hats over there could not tolerate such a transaction. There was a buzzing around the Lords of Trade; a complaint that the felters were being impoverished by the hatters of America. Parliament thereupon passed a law to suppress the manufacture of hats. Here is the law."
Mr. Adams read from the paper:—
"No hats or felts, dyed or undyed, finished or unfinished, shall be put on board any vessel in any place within any British plantations, nor be laden upon any horse or other carriage to the intent to be exported from thence to any other plantation, or to any other place, upon forfeiture thereof, and the offender shall likewise pay five hundred pounds for every such offense. Every person knowing thereof, and willingly aiding therein, shall forfeit forty pounds."
"That is diabolical," said Robert, his blood beginning to boil.
Mr. Adams saw the flush upon his cheek and smiled.
"I see that it stirs you up, as it does every lover of liberty. But I have not given you the full text of the iniquitous act: the law forbade any one from making a hat who had not served as an apprentice seven years, nor could a man employ more than two apprentices. Under that law no hatter up in Portsmouth could paddle across the Piscataqua and sell a hat to his neighbor in Kittery because the hat was made in New Hampshire. The hatter who had a shop in Providence could not carry a hat to his neighbor just over the line in Swansey, one town being in Rhode Island and the other in Massachusetts. The law, you see, was designed to crush out the manufacture of hats. The law applied to almost everything."
"I had no idea that such laws had been passed; they are abominable!" Robert replied with a vigor that brought a smile to Mr. Adams's face, who took a bit of cheese and smacked his lips.
"Every time I taste it I think of you and your father, mother, and sister who made it," he said.
"I hope to see them sometime," said Mrs. Adams.
"I am not quite through with the iniquity," continued Mr. Adams. "About forty years ago—it was in 1737, I think—Parliament passed what is called the Sugar Act, which imposed a duty on sugar and molasses, if imported from any of the West India Islands other than those owned by Great Britain. Cuba, as you know, is a dependency of Spain and St. Domingo of France. The sugar plantations of Jamaica and Guinea are owned by Englishmen, and the law was passed to compel the Colonies to trade solely with the Jamaica planters. The Great and General Court protested that the act was a violation of the rights of the Colonies, but no notice was taken of the protest—it was thrown into the basket for waste paper. Since the time of Charles II. not less than twenty-nine acts have been passed, which, in one way or another, restrict trade and invade the rights of the Colonies. I suppose, Mr. Walden, you leach the ashes, which you scrape up from your fireplace?"
"Oh yes," Robert replied; "not only what we take from the hearth in the kitchen, but when we have a burning of a ten-acre lot, as we had a few weeks ago, we scoop up several cart-loads of ashes which we leach, and boil the lye to potash."
[Footnote 22: The leaching of ashes and manufacture of potash was a large industry during the Colonial period. In some sections of the country the article was known as "black salts." There was one or more potashery in every town.]
"And what do you do with the potash?"
"We shall probably bring it to Boston and sell it to Mr. Hancock or some other merchant."
"Oh no, you can't do that legally, because you live in New Hampshire, and the law prohibits trade of that sort between the Colonies. You can take the potash to Portsmouth, and if there is an English vessel in the Piscataqua you can send it to England and have it shipped back to Boston; but it must be in an English ship, not in one owned by my good friend John Langdon, merchant in Portsmouth, who is ready to stand resolutely against all oppression; or you may pay the Custom House officer what it will cost to transport it to England and back to Boston, and he will give you permission to ship it direct to Boston. That is the law; but it has been inoperative for several reasons—one, because it could not be enforced, and another, because Great Britain has been compelled to rely upon the Colonies to aid in driving the French from Canada. That has been accomplished, and now King George, who is not remarkably intelligent, but pig-headed, and his short-sighted ministers are determined to carry out measures, not only to obtain revenue from the Colonies, but to repress manufactures here for the benefit of the manufactures of England. Thanks to our spinning-school, a stimulus has been given to our home manufactures which will enable us to spin and weave a goodly amount of plain cloth. Perhaps, Mr. Walden, you may have noticed the spinning-school building in Long Acre, near the Common—a large brick building with the figure of a woman holding a distaff."
[Footnote 23: Long Acre extended from School Street to the Common, and was sometimes called Common Street, now a section of Tremont Street.]
"Yes, I saw it yesterday, and wondered what it might mean."
"Well, quite a number of years ago, the Great and General Court passed a law for the encouragement of spinning, levying a tax on carriages and other luxuries for the establishment of the school. Its opening was celebrated on the Common. About one hundred women and girls came with their spinning-wheels and set them to humming beneath the trees. The court gave prizes for the best work. At present we buy our broadcloths and velvets in England, but the time will come when we shall make them this side of the Atlantic."
"The spinning-wheel and loom are going in our house from morning till night," Robert said.
"I am glad to hear it; the road to independence of the mother country lies in that direction. Industry will bring it about by and by, but I apprehend that other repressive and tyrannical measures will be passed. These arbitrary acts of Parliament have had one lamentable result, they have made the people of the Colonies a community of smugglers. I am pained to say that we are losing all correct sense of moral obligation in matters pertaining to the government. No one thinks it disreputable to smuggle goods into the country because everybody feels that the laws are unjust. The ministry undertook to enforce the laws against smuggling not long since, by issuing Writs of Assistance, as they were called. That attempt was more unjust than any of the laws that had been passed regulating trade. It gave the Custom House officers authority to enter not only stores, but private dwellings, break open chests, boxes, and closets in search of smuggled goods. Now if there is anything that Englishmen prize, it is the liberty secured by Magna Charta. Every man's house is his castle. Writs of Assistance violated the fundamental principle of English liberty. Our great lawyer, Mr. James Otis, has immortalized his name by his masterly oration in opposition to the measure. The writs have not prevented smuggling; on the contrary, it is regarded as almost a virtue and a duty to circumvent a government which enacts unrighteous laws. For instance, a little more than a year ago, John Hancock's sloop, Liberty, arrived from Madeira with a cargo of wine. The Custom House officer went on board. He was followed by half a dozen seaman belonging to one of Hancock's other vessels, who locked the officer into the cabin, unloaded the vessel, all except a few pipes of wine, and carted the cargo away. The next morning the captain of the vessel made oath that half a dozen casks was all the wine he had to deliver for payment of duty. The collector, Mr. Harrison, and the comptroller, Mr. Hallowell, resolved to seize the Liberty. Admiral Montague sent a company of marines, who took possession of the sloop and anchored her under the guns of the Romney. That incensed the people, who smashed in the windows of the office, seized the collector's boat, carried it to the Common, and burned it. The revenue officers, fearing for their safety, fled to the Castle, where they remained till the troops arrived last October. Tyranny begets resistance on the part of the people."
"What is to be the outcome of all this?" Robert asked.
"I do not know," Mr. Adams replied thoughtfully, "just what will come of it, but of one thing I am sure, the people of America never will be slaves. At present, we have an insolent soldiery walking our streets, challenging and provoking the people. We are treated as if under military law. The quiet of the Sabbath is broken by the rattling of drums and the shrill notes of the fife. The soldiers become intoxicated, and are ready to pick a quarrel with the town's-people. No lady can appear on the street unaccompanied by a gentleman without danger of being insulted. I expect that collisions will occur between the troops and people, and that sooner or later blood will be shed. You can say to your father that I have just received a letter from Colonel George Washington of Virginia, who took command of the troops after the wounding of General Braddock in the battle near Fort Du Quesne. He agrees with me that there must be united action on the part of the Colonies, and that we shall be warranted in using arms if we cannot secure our liberties in any other way. Of course, we shall not bring every one to stand up for the rights and liberties of the Colonies. Those who in any way are connected with the crown—the Custom House officials and their friends who are in receipt of salaries and perquisites—will support whatever measures the ministry may propose. Then there are many gentlemen who naturally will maintain their allegiance to the king, who think that an existing government, no matter how unjust and tyrannical it may be, stands for law and order, and that to resist it in any way leads to revolution. Some of my old-time friends are siding with the ministry. They think we ought not to complain of so small a matter as paying a tax of three pence per pound on tea. They lose sight of the great principle that taxation in any form without representation in Parliament is tyranny. We might willingly consent to pay it had we a voice in making it, but we will not consent to be taxed without such a voice. I am pleased, Mr. Walden, to have had this little conversation with you. I rely upon the young men of the country to stand resolutely for what is just and right, and I am equally sure," he said, turning to Berinthia, "that the young women will give all their influence to sustain the young men. Mrs. Adams is just as ready as I am to quit drinking tea, because by so doing she manifests her fealty to a great principle; if the mothers are ready to make sacrifices, I am sure the daughters will be equally ready."
The conversation of Mr. Adams was very attractive, he was so earnest, sincere, and truthful. Gladly would Robert have listened through the evening, but he reflected that such a man must have many letters to write, and he must not trespass upon his time.
"I am glad to have made your acquaintance, Mr. Walden; you must always come and see me when you are in town. I am sure you will do what you can to stir up the young men of Rumford to resist the aggressions of the king and his ministers. That there are lively times before us I do not doubt, but we shall maintain our liberties, cost what it may," he said, accompanying them to the door and bidding them good-by.
"I am invited to a garden tea-party to-morrow afternoon," said Berinthia, as they walked home. "Isn't it curious that while Mr. Adams wants us girls to leave off drinking tea for the sake of a great principle, I want you for my escort to the tea-party. It will be a grand affair and you will have a chance to see the best people of the town."
"I am at your service, and will do the best I can," Robert replied.
A GARDEN TEA-PARTY.
The king's commissioner of imposts, Theodore Newville, had authority to collect for the crown three shillings per ton on all vessels of not more than two hundred tons burden, and four shillings per ton on vessels of larger dimensions. He also had authority to reserve the tallest, straightest, and largest pine-trees growing in the forests for the use of the royal navy. When the king's arrow was blazed upon a tree, no man, not even the owner of the soil, could fell it to the ground. Every year, and at times as often as every six months, a ship arrived upon the New England coast for masts and spars.
[Footnote 24: The arrow was the sign of royal authority and ownership.]
Mr. Newville was provided with an office in the Custom House, but his home was on the sunny slope of Beacon Hill, a commodious mansion, with spacious rooms and ample hall. The fluted pilasters with Corinthians capitals, the modillions along the cornice, the semicircular balcony, were fitting adornments. The surrounding lawn was smoothly shaven. In the orchard were apples, pears, and melocotoons; in the garden, roses, pinks, primroses, daffodils, bachelor's-buttons, and asters of every hue. The morning sun streaming into the dining-room illumined the richly cut decanters upon the shelves of the buffet. Very attractive, suggestive of ease, comfort, and culture, was the library, with its books and several portraits in gilded frames. The sun of the afternoon filled the richly furnished parlor with its mellow light. The front door opened to a wide hall and stairway, with carved baluster and polished mahogany rail. A clock stood upon the landing soberly counting the hours. Having inherited wealth, with a yearly stipend and many perquisites of office, Mr. Newville was abundantly able to live in a style befitting an officer of the crown. The knocker on the front door was so bright that Pompey could see his own white teeth and rolling eyeballs reflected from the shining brass. When through with the knocker he rubbed the fender, andirons, shovels, tongs, nozzle of the bellows, the hooks by the jams, candlesticks, snuffer, extinguisher, trays, and tinder-box, and wiped the dust from the glazed tiles of the hearth. It was the routine of every morning. Equally bright were the brass pots and pans in Phillis's realm. Pompey and Phillis were bondservants under the mild existing paternal form of slavery.
[Footnote 25: The melocotoon was a variety of peach. The fruit was very large, beautifully colored, and of rich flavor.]
The king's commissioner of imposts perhaps would not have admitted he was passing the prime of life, but the crow's-feet were gathering in the corners of his eyes. His gray tie wig was in keeping with the white hairs upon his brow. He had a mild, blue eye, amiable countenance, and dignified deportment, as became an officer of the crown.
Time was in like manner beginning to turn its furrows upon the brow of the lady who sat opposite him at the table, but she was still very fair, as many a visitor had noticed while partaking of her hospitality.
When breakfast was finished Mr. Newville took his gold-headed cane from its place in the hall, adjusted his wig at the mirror under the sconce, put on his gold-laced hat and walked leisurely, as became his majesty's commissioner of imposts, along Tremont Street to Queen, thence past the jail, the Town House, the pillory and the stocks, to his office in the Custom House.
Mrs. Newville modeled her housekeeping on the last chapter of the Book of Proverbs. She began each morning with instructions to Phillis and Pompey. After breakfast, she walked to the market followed by Pompey at a respectful distance, with a basket to bring home the marketing. She was fastidious in her selection of meats; it must be a loin of beef, very tender, a chicken or duck, plump and fat; the freshest of eggs, and choicest butter. She found great pleasure in dispensing gracious hospitality, inviting the governor and lieutenant-governor of the Province, the justices, councilors, officers of the army and navy, strangers of distinction from other Provinces or from the other side of the sea; reverend doctors of divinity, lawyers, physicians, citizens of standing. She gave garden parties on summer afternoons, the guests sipping tea amid the flowers.
To such an entertainment Berinthia Brandon desired Robert's company. The barber on the corner of the street trimmed and powdered his hair, Mark Antony smoothed the wrinkles from his coat, and Berinthia fixed new ribbons in his knee-buckles.
"I am afraid I shall be so stiff and awkward you will be ashamed of me," he said, as she adjusted his ruffles.
"Oh no, I am sure your common sense will come to your aid."
"I shall not know anybody, and shall feel like a cat in a strange garret."
"But I will introduce you to some charming people."
"I shall make a fool of myself. I have never been in such society, and shall not know what to talk about. If it was like a quilting, such as we have at Rumford, I might get on, but I know I shall be the laughing-stock of the ladies."
"I am not afraid of it. Just be yourself, that's all."
The clock on the Old Brick Meetinghouse was striking three when they passed it on their way to the Newville mansion.
"You will find Mr. Newville a courtly, well-informed gentleman," said Berinthia. "Perhaps I ought to tell you that he is a Tory, which is quite natural, when we consider that he holds an office under the crown. He is very discreet, however, and is careful not to say or do anything offensive to the Sons of Liberty. Of course, political questions are not mentioned at these enjoyable gatherings. We say nothing about the Stamp Act: give all like topics the go-by, and just enjoy ourselves socially. You will find Mrs. Newville a delightful lady, and I know you will be charmed by Miss Ruth, a lovely girl, with gracious ways and a character all her own. I cannot describe her. Only intimate friends can know her goodness. Few young ladies in Boston are more accomplished. Master Lovell is her tutor, visiting her after school hours, to direct her course of study. She has been through the arithmetic, while most of us never have been beyond proportion. Having finished the accidence she has begun Latin; she can tambour, make embroidery, draw, paint, play the harpsichord, and sing so charmingly that people passing along the street stop to listen to the enchanting music."
[Footnote 26: John Lovell was master of the Latin School, in School Street, from 1717 to 1776. He gave his sympathies to the crown, and became an exile upon the evacuation of Boston. His house was near the schoolhouse.]
"You awaken my curiosity. But what will one who knows so much think of the awkward fellow keeping you company? Will she not regard me as a simpleton?"
"No, indeed; that would not be like Ruth Newville. Be assured, she will do what she can to make it a pleasant occasion to you."
"What can I say that will interest her, what talk about?"
"She will enable you to find your tongue. The chances are that you will fall in love with her just as everybody else does,—colonels, majors, captains, lieutenants of the army and navy, besides widowers and bachelors; but Ruth is too sensible a girl to throw herself away. Her mother would like her to marry some nobleman, or lord of ancient family. Ruth does not care much for coats-of-arms or titles, but would rather be sure of what a man is, rather than who were his ancestors. But we are almost there."
Many guests had already arrived. Ladies and gentlemen were strolling beneath the trees in the orchard, and along the garden paths. Pompey showing his white teeth, his dusky countenance beaming with pleasure, bowed very courteously as they entered the mansion.
"Massa and Missus Newville will welcome de ladies and genmens in de garding," he said.
Berinthia led the way and introduced Robert as her relative from New Hampshire.
"And so you are from that dependency of the crown? What news do you bring from that Province?" Mr. Newville asked.
"I do not know that there is anything particularly new or interesting. Not much is going on there. We have had a good crop of hay, the corn looks middling well; the rye is not much rusted. I think we shall not want for bread," Robert replied.
"It is excellent news. Bread is the staff of life, and I trust the people will be grateful for the bounties of Providence, and rest in peace and quiet under the rule of our gracious sovereign, King George."
"I hope we shall be truly thankful for all that is good," Robert replied.
"It is very kind in you to accompany our friend Miss Brandon to our entertainment this afternoon; we gladly welcome you, Mr. Walden," said Mrs. Newville, who ran her eyes over him, and, so far as Robert could judge, rather liking his stalwart form and figure, while saying to herself that he was no hawk or eagle to bear off her chicken.
"Ruth, daughter, this way, please," said Mrs. Newville.
Robert saw a young lady wearing a white muslin dress turn towards them from a group of ladies and gentlemen; but it was not the snowy whiteness of the garment, neither her dark brown unpowdered hair in contrast to that of the ladies around her, that attracted his attention, but the hazel eyes and the lips that had said, "I never shall forget your kindness, sir."
"Mr. Walden, allow me to introduce my daughter," said Mrs. Newville.
There was a startled, wondering look in the hazel eyes. She courtesied, with the fresh blood suffusing her cheeks.
"I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Walden," she said.
"I took the liberty of bringing him," said Berinthia. "I was sure you would extend to him the same cordial welcome you give to everybody."
"Certainly, anybody whom you may invite will always be welcome. Mr. Walden, shall I serve you with a cup of tea? What kind will you take—shall it be Old Hyson, Bohea, or Twankey?"
She stood with a salver ready to serve him.
"I will take Old Hyson, if you please," he said.
The pink slippers tripped across the lawn to a table where Phillis in white apron and cap, with smiling countenance, was pouring tea from silver urns into dainty cups. So this was the young lady whom he had rescued from the clutches of the villains. What should he say to her? By no word or look must she know that he was conscious of having befriended her.
The sun was shining through the branches of the melocotoon tree beneath which she was standing. It seemed to him that the rich bloom of the ripening fruit by some subtle process of nature was being transmuted to her face. He recalled the description of the pure-hearted damsel that welcomed the Pilgrim of Bunyan's allegory to the beautiful palace in the land of Beulah. She soon returned bringing with steady hand the salver with the tea, sugar-bowl, and pitcher of cream.
"Shall I serve you with the sugar and cream, Mr. Walden?"
He could but notice the graceful movement of her deft fingers as she picked the sugar from the bowl with the silver tongs, and poured the cream.
"I will bring you some confections," she said, and tripped away once more, returning with a plate of cake and bonbons.
"I hope you find the tea to your taste?" she said.
"It could not be better," he replied.
He could see she was scanning his face with an inquiring look, as if endeavoring to solve a perplexing question—whether the stranger in working clothes who rescued her from the arms of the assaulting soldiers and this gentleman in fitting costume for genteel society were one and the same. "Can it be he?" was the question revolving in her thoughts. The countryman was tall, stout, and broad-shouldered; so was Mr. Walden. She saw resolution and indignation in the face of the stranger. Could not the face before her exhibit like qualities under like provocation? She must find out during the afternoon, if possible, whether or not Mr. Walden was her benefactor. If so, what should she say to him—how make known her gratitude?
"And so you are from New Hampshire, Mr. Walden?" she said inquiringly.
"Yes, and this is my first visit to Boston."
"I dare say you find things somewhat different here from what they are there."
"Oh yes. In Rumford the houses are scattered; but here they are as thick as spatter. There isn't near so many things going on there as here."
"I think it must be delightful to live in the country, among the green fields and pastures, and have chickens and goslins, and see the lambs play."
"Yes; but we have to look sharp, to see that the foxes, and hawks, and weasels don't get 'em."
Their conversation was interrupted by Berinthia, who introduced him to Miss Lucy Flucker, daughter of the secretary of the Province, Miss Dorothy Quincy, Miss Mary Shrimpton, and to Isaac and John Coffin, sons of his majesty's receiver-general.
[Footnote 27: Miss Flucker received the attentions of Henry Knox the bookseller, and became his wife. While her father remained loyal to the king, she became an ardent patriot, and married the man of her choice. Soon after the battle of Lexington and Concord, Mr. Knox escaped from Boston. Mrs. Knox received a permit to join him, from General Gage, who had issued an order prohibiting any one from taking arms from the town. The patriotic wife concealed her husband's sword in her underskirts, and successfully eluded the vigilance of the sentinels.]
[Footnote 28: Isaac Coffin obtained an appointment in his majesty's navy in 1773. Upon the outbreak of the war he proffered his resignation, not being willing to fight against his countrymen, but being assured he would not be sent to North America remained in the service of the king, rising by merit to the position of rear-admiral. He retained through life a deep affection for his countrymen, and endowed a school on the island of Nantucket.
His younger brother John, from the outset, sided with the king. He joined the British forces, became captain of a company of loyalists, served under Colonel Tarleton in South Carolina, becoming major, colonel, and after the war a major-general. He received a grant of several thousand acres of land in Nova Scotia. Though maintaining allegiance to the king, he had great respect and admiration for those who espoused the patriotic cause.]
"Do you have garden tea-parties in Rumford?" Miss Flucker asked.
"No, not garden parties, but the ladies get together in a parlor, sip their tea, take pinches of snuff from each other's boxes, talk about the number of cheeses they have made, how much salt they put into the curd, how much yarn they have spun, how many yards of linen they have woven."
"Such a party must be very enjoyable," said Miss Quincy.
"Yes, I think they like to find out what everybody else is doing, and how they do it. Their tongues wag lively when they get to talking about what has happened and what they expect will happen; who was cried the Sunday before, and who probably will be the next Sunday."
The ladies smiled at Robert's vivacious conversation.
"Does the town clerk cry the proposed marriages?" Miss Shrimpton asked.
"Yes. The moment the minister finishes the benediction Sunday afternoon, Squire Fellows breaks in, shouting that marriage is intended between Hezekiah and Mehitable. Of course there are blushes on Mehitable's face, while Hezekiah looks kinder sheepish."
Again the ladies laughed.
"Do all the ladies take snuff?"
Miss Flucker asked the question.
"Nearly all the old ladies carry their snuff-boxes in their pockets or work-bags. There's one lady, however, who does not—Aunt Hipsy Jenkins. Perhaps I ought to say she is well along in years, and that the town clerk never has cried her. She carries her nose as she pleases. She says if the Lord had intended it for a dust-hole, he would have put it on the other end up."
A merry peal of laughter rang through the garden—so joyful that several ladies and gentlemen joined the group, to hear what the young man from the country was saying.
"Her name," said Robert, by way of explanation, "is Hepsibah, but everybody calls her Hipsy."
"Evidently," said Isaac Coffin, "she is a lady who is up to snuff."
Again the company laughed.
"You may be sure she never minces things, but speaks her mind, whether anybody likes it or not," Robert replied.
"Are the gentlemen invited to the tea-parties?" John Coffin asked.
"Not to the afternoon parties, neither are the young ladies; the old ladies like to be by themselves while sipping their tea. Perhaps they think it would not be dignified on the part of the gentlemen to devote the afternoons to gossip," Robert replied.
"Do not the young ladies meet?" Miss Shrimpton asked.
"Not as do our mothers, but they have their own good times,—their quilting parties. In the country every girl as soon as she can sew begins to make patchwork. When they get enough for a quilt, they invite their acquaintances to the quilting, and spend the afternoon in talking about—well, I can't exactly say what they do talk about. Perhaps you ladies can tell better than I."
The ladies smiled at his pleasant way of indicating what was uppermost in the thoughts of young maidens on such delightful occasions.
"Do not the gentlemen participate in some way?" Miss Quincy inquired.
"Oh yes; we join them in the evening, after they are through with the quilting, and try to make things lively. We play blindman's-buff, hide the handkerchief, roast beef behind your back, come Philander, stage-coach, and other games, and have a jolly time. The ladies serve us with bread and butter, doughnuts, cookies, tarts, gingerbread, and tea. We guess riddles and tell ghost stories."
"How delightful!" Miss Newville exclaimed.
"A little later than this we have huskings in the barns, seated around a heap of corn. Husking over, we eat pudding, baked beans, mince, apple, and pumpkin pie, and top off with pop-corn, apples, and cider. After supper the girls clear away the dishes; then we push the table into one corner of the kitchen, Julius Caesar mounts it with his fiddle, and we dance jigs and quicksteps. The girl who first found a red ear while husking, and was kissed before she could throw it into the basket, is privileged to lead the dance."
"How I should enjoy it," said Miss Shrimpton.
"Finding the red ear?" queried Isaac Coffin.
"Oh no,—you know I didn't mean that; but having such a jolly time with nobody saying it isn't proper," Miss Shrimpton replied with a blush mantling her cheek.
"Ruth, daughter,"—it was Mrs. Newville calling her to meet other guests, and Miss Newville turned regretfully away, for it was a pleasure to talk with Mr. Walden, and she hoped he would drop a word which would enable her to make sure it was he who had befriended her.
Robert, with Berinthia and the ladies whose acquaintance he had made, sauntered along the garden walks. The midsummer flowers were gone, but those of autumn were in bloom,—marigolds, asters, and sunflowers. Picturesque the scene: ladies in paduasoys, taffetas, and brocades, gentlemen in purple, russet, and crimson coats, white satin waistcoats, buff breeches, and silk stockings. Officers of the king's regiments in scarlet with silver-starred epaulets, clergymen in suits of black, lawyers and doctors in white wigs, loitering along the paths, gathered in groups beneath the trees, young ladies serving them with syllabubs. From the vine-clad arbor the music of the orchestra floated upon the air.
Robert saw a gentleman and lady shaking hands with Mr. and Mrs. Newville.
"That is John Adams, one of the smartest lawyers in town," said Berinthia. "That is his wife Abigail; she is the daughter of Reverend Mr. Smith, the minister of Braintree. She knows Latin and Greek, and is one of the nicest women in town. She writes beautiful letters, and knows—oh, so much! I'll introduce you to them. I know you will be charmed with her."
Mr. Adams courteously greeted Robert, and very gracious was the recognition by Mrs. Adams. She asked him if he had ever been in Boston before; who was the minister in Rumford; if he had many books to read. So pleasant and agreeable was her conversation, she seemed to Robert to be an old friend.
Robert was pleased to meet Doctor Warren, and received a cordial greeting.
"And are you acquainted?" Miss Newville inquired wonderingly.
"I am happy to claim Mr. Walden as my friend. I have long known his father," the doctor replied.
Robert was pleased, also, to meet Mr. Knox, the bookseller, who was polite and affable to all, particularly to Miss Flucker.
When Berinthia and Robert were by themselves she informed him that Mr. Knox was attentive to Miss Flucker; that her parents opposed the match, Mr. Knox being a Whig and her father a Tory. Berinthia was sure that the more her father opposed the bookseller, the better Miss Lucy liked him.
Mr. John Hancock, though living but a short distance from Mr. Newville, came in his coach with driver and footmen in blue livery. He bowed politely to Mr. and Mrs. Newville, took a pinch of snuff from Mr. Newville's gold box, and graciously greeted Miss Dorothy Quincy. Berinthia whispered to Robert that they were engaged to be married.
[Footnote 29: The Dorothy Quincy who married John Hancock is not to be confounded with the Dorothy Q. of Holmes's poem:—
"Grandmother's mother, her age I guess, Thirteen summers, or something less."]
"If Miss Newville and Miss Brandon will excuse us, Mr. Walden and myself will take a turn through the grounds," said Doctor Warren, locking arms with Robert.
"I am glad to meet you once more, Mr. Walden. I want to thank you for the good work you did yesterday afternoon. I have heard of it several times; the people are chuckling over it. But the soldiers of the Twenty-Ninth Regiment are as mad as hornets and threaten retaliation. They are anxious to get hold of that fellow from the country who did it. I thought I would put you on your guard. I wish I knew who the young lady was, but no one can find out. Neither she nor her friends have made complaint to the selectmen, and of course you could not know."
Robert thanked him. He said he did not anticipate any trouble; if attacked he would try and give a good account of himself.
They had strolled to the farthest part of the grounds. Returning, they saw Miss Newville surrounded by ladies and gentlemen; young and old alike were finding pleasure in her society. Major Evelyn, to whom Robert had been introduced, was telling how jolly it was in old England to follow the hounds in a fox hunt, leaping ditches, walls, and hedges, running Reynard to cover. Although courteously listening, her eyes glanced towards Robert and Doctor Warren.
"Pardon me, Major, but I must have a word with my good doctor who gives me pills and powders when I am sick," she said graciously, tripping across the lawn.
"I have not served you with tea, doctor; what kind would you prefer?" she said.
"Well, let it be Old Hyson, if you please."
"And yours, Mr. Walden: it was the Old you had before. Will you not try a cup of Young Hyson for variety?"
"If you please, Miss Newville."
A few moments and she was with them again.
"Old Hyson for old friendship, Young, for new acquaintance," said the doctor, as he took the cup from her hand. "You see, Mr. Walden, Miss Newville and I are old friends, and our relations at times are quite intimate. I am privileged to hold her hand, feel her pulse, and look at her tongue."
"Do you not think, Mr. Walden, that the doctor is very rude to take a young lady's hand when she cannot help herself?"
"Of course it is rude, but I apprehend you do not object, under the circumstances," Robert replied.
"Oh no, she likes it so well that she often asks when I will come again," said the doctor.
Merry was the laughter.
"This is delicious tea," he said, sipping the beverage.
"I am glad you like it."
"It is all the more delicious, Miss Ruth, because I have it from your own gracious hand, and because it is probably the last I shall drink for many months."
She gazed at him wonderingly.
"You know I am firm in my convictions as to what is right and just, and I have decided to quit drinking tea as a protest against what the king and Lord North are preparing to do. So this will be a memorial day for me. Pardon me, I did not mean to allude to it."
"One need not beg pardon for having a conviction of what is right and just. If it is to be your last cup I'm glad I have the privilege of serving it," she said.
One by one guests joined them, charmed by her presence, Major Evelyn hovering around her. More than once the eyes of Robert and Miss Newville met. Would she not think him rude? But how could he help looking at her?
While Miss Newville was serving other guests, with Berinthia and Miss Shrimpton Robert walked the garden once more, the great shaggy watch-dog trotting in advance, as if they were guests to be honored by an escort.
The afternoon was waning. Guests were leaving, and it was time for Berinthia and Robert to take their departure.
"Oh, you are not going now. I have not had an opportunity to speak a dozen words with you, Berinthia, and I have shamefully neglected Mr. Walden. I have not had a chance to drink a cup of tea with him. I am sure you will excuse me, Major Evelyn, while I redeem myself. You will find Miss Brandon delightful company," said Miss Newville.
Major Evelyn, being thus politely waved one side, could but acquiesce.
"Shall we sit, Mr. Walden?" she asked, leading the way to seats and bringing tea and cake.
"I enjoyed your description of life in the country, and the young ladies were delighted," she said.
"We have pretty good times with the quiltings, huskings, and sleighing parties, when we pile into a double pung, ride in the moonlight, have supper, and a dance."
"How delightful! Have you brothers and sisters?"
"Only a sister, Rachel, two years younger than I."
"Does she love flowers?"
"Yes, she is very fond of them. I make up beds in the garden for her and she sows bachelor's-buttons, flytraps, pansies, marigolds, hollyhocks, and has morning-glories running over strings around the sitting-room window."
"They must make your home very pleasant in summer."
"Yes, and she has asters and sweet peas. I try to keep the weeds down for her as she has so many things to look after,—the chickens, goslins, young turkeys, besides washing dishes, spinning, and wetting the cloth bleaching on the grass. I help a little by drawing the water."
"It must be very beautiful in the country these September days."
"It is not quite late enough for the woods to put on their brightest colors; that will be in October."
"Which season do you like best?"
"I hardly know. Sometimes, when the country is covered with snow and the air is fresh and keen and healthful, I think there is no part of the year more enjoyable than winter; then when spring comes, and the buds start and the leaves are growing, I feel like a young colt ready to caper and kick up my heels. When the flowers are in bloom and the birds are singing I think there is no season like summer. At this time of the year, when we are gathering the harvests and the woods are more beautiful than our Queen Charlotte in her coronation robes, I think there is no period of the year so delightful as autumn."
"Living in the town." Miss Newville said, "I lose much that I should enjoy in the country. Sometimes I ride with my father to Roxbury, Dorchester, and Cambridge. He sits in his chaise while I pick the flowers by the roadside. A few weeks ago we went sailing down the harbor, and saw the waves rolling on the beach at Nantasket and breaking on the rocks around the lighthouse. Oh, it was beautiful!"
"I do not doubt it. As you love the country so much, I am sure you would be charmed with the view from our home, Miss Newville, especially at this season of the year."
"Please tell me about it. I am sure from your description I shall be able to picture the scene."
"You would see a broad valley, fields, pastures, meadows, uplands, the river flowing between banks fringed with elms and willows, hills farther away, and in the distance blue mountains; the forest all scarlet, russet, yellow, and crimson. That would be the view. You would hear the crickets chirping, crows cawing, and squirrels barking in the woods."
"How delightful! I know I should revel in such beauty."
"You asked me, Miss Newville, which season I liked best. I think, all things considered, I enjoy autumn more than any other portion of the year."
"May I ask why you like it best?"
"Because it is the harvest-time, when we gather the gifts of Providence; and it sets me to thinking I ought to be doing something for somebody in return for what Providence is doing for me."
Her eyes were watching his lips.
"Oh, go on, please, Mr. Walden, and tell me what the seasons say to you."
"I hardly know what they say, but the change from the brightness of summer to the russet of autumn, the falling leaves, ripening fruits, fading flowers, shortening days, the going of the birds are like a sermon to me."
"And why are they like a sermon?" she asked.
"Because the birds will come, the flowers bloom again, but the summer that has gone never will return; the opportunities of to-day will not be here to-morrow. I must make the most of the present, not only for myself but for others. Providence bestows rich gifts; I must give to others."
"Thank you, Mr. Walden."
She was silent. None of the officers, not Major Evelyn or any of the captains of his majesty's troops, ever had uttered such words in her presence. Oh, could she but know if he were the one who rescued her from the hands of the miscreants! She must know.
"Mr. Walden, may I ask if we have not met before?"
"I think we have, Miss Newville."
"I thought so, but was not sure. May I say I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the service you rendered me yesterday. I never shall forget it. I have not mentioned it, not even to my parents, for I would not have them concerned in the future for my welfare."
"I can understand how anxious they might be, and I appreciate your prudence. The incident, I understand, is making some stir in town, especially among the soldiers. Doctor Warren has just informed me of it, and was kind enough to say it would be well for me to be on my guard, as the soldiers threaten retaliation. I learn, also, that no one as yet has been able to discover who the young lady was. People are wondering that no complaint has been made to the proper authorities by her or her friends."
"Oh, I am so glad that no one knows it except ourselves. May I not ask that it shall be our secret, and ours only?"
"Most certainly, Miss Newville."
"I cannot express my obligation to you, Mr. Walden. It is very honorable in you, and you will not let the soldiers injure you?" she said inquiringly.
"I do not think they will molest me. I shall not put myself in their way, neither shall I avoid them. I am a free citizen; this is my country. I know my rights, and I trust I shall ever be enough of a man to resent an insult to myself, and most certainly to a lady."
"Do you remain long in town?" she asked.
"No; only a day or two—over Sunday. I shall start from the Green Dragon for home next Monday morning."
"Do you have melocotoons in Rumford?" she asked, looking up to the luscious fruit, ripening above them.
"Not yet; we have some young trees, but they are not in bearing."
"I should like to send a basket of fruit to your sister, if agreeable to you. Pompey will take it to the tavern Monday morning."
"You are very kind. I will take it with pleasure, and you may be sure Rachel will appreciate your goodness."
He comprehended her proposition,—that it was her delicate way of giving emphasis to her thanks for what he had done.
"Mr. Walden, I shall always be pleased to see you. I would like to hear more about what you see in nature, and the sermons that are preached to you."
Berinthia and Major Evelyn joined them. The band had ceased playing, and the last of the guests were departing.
"I hope you have had an enjoyable afternoon," said Mr. Newville.
"I have enjoyed myself very much, and cannot express my thanks for your hospitality," Robert replied.
"It was very kind in you to honor us with your company," said Mrs. Newville with a charming grace and dignity.
Miss Newville went with them to the gate, Major Evelyn improving the opportunity to walk by her side. Robert thought there was a shade of vexation on her face.
"Excuse me, gentlemen, while I talk with Miss Brandon a moment," she said, dropping behind. Robert walked on a few steps and waited for Berinthia. Major Evelyn lingered a moment as if to have a last word with Miss Newville, but politeness would not admit his further tarrying; he lifted his hat and walked away.
"Oh, Mr. Walden, what do you think your good cousin has been saying?" said Miss Newville, calling him once more to the gate.
"Possibly that she has had an agreeable chat with one of his majesty's brilliant officers," Robert replied.
"Instead of being brilliant, he was positively stupid. I don't like epaulets," said Berinthia.
"Not those sent to protect us?" Miss Newville asked.
"Neither do I."
The words were spoken firmly, with an emphasis which Robert alone could understand.
Miss Newville locked her arm in Berinthia's as if loath to have her go. They lingered by the gate, how long Robert could not say. Just what was said he could not recall. He only knew it was delightful to stand there, to hear her voice, to see the smiles rippling upon her face, and the loving eyes that turned towards him at times. When at last the good-night was spoken, when himself and Berinthia were quite a distance, looking backward he saw her white handkerchief waving them farewell.
CHRIST CHURCH CHIMES.
Calm and peaceful was the Sabbath morning in Rumford, where the stillness was broken only by lowing cattle and singing birds, but in Boston Robert heard the rattling of drums,—a prolonged roll, as if the drummers found special pleasure in disturbing the slumbers of the people. It was the reveille arousing the troops. Mr. Brandon said the officers of the king's regiments seemed to take delight in having extra drills on Sunday for the purpose of annoying the people. A few of the officers, he said, were gentlemen, but others were vile, and not to be admitted into decent society.
The drums ceased and there was a period of quiet; then suddenly the air was melodious with the music of bells. Berinthia saw the wonder on Robert's face.
"It is Christ Church chimes," she said.
He heard "Old Hundred," sweet and enchanting.
"If you would like, we will go to Christ Church this morning."
Robert replied he would gladly go with her.
"The sexton is a Son of Liberty, Robert Newman; you saw him the other night at the Green Dragon; his brother plays the organ," said Tom.
The sexton welcomed them and gave them seats. Robert gazed in wonder at the fluted columns, the high arched ceiling, the pillars supporting the galleries, the great windows, the recess behind the pulpit, the painting of the Last Supper. He read the words, "This is none other than the House of God; this is the Gate of Heaven."
The bells ceased their pealing, but suddenly delightful music filled the church.
"That is John Newman at the organ," Berinthia whispered.
It began soft and faint, as if far away—a flute, then a clarinet, a trumpet, growing louder, nearer, deeper, heavier, the loud notes rolling like far-off thunder, then dying into melody as sweet as the song of a bird. Never had Robert heard any music so delightful. Looking towards the loft, he saw the gilded pipes of the instrument. Upon the railing around it were figures of angels with trumpets.
"They were captured from a French ship in 1746 by Captain Grushea of the Queen of Hungary privateer," Tom whispered. "They were designed for a Romish church in Canada, but the captain brought them to Boston and presented them to the wardens of this church."
Berinthia said the Bible and prayer-book were given by King George II. at the request of Governor Belcher. She found the places in the prayer-book for him. He thought the prayers very beautiful, but could not quite see the need of getting up and sitting down so often. He never had taken part in meeting before, but when all the others read felt he too must let his voice be heard, otherwise the people would think he did not know how to read. He was startled at the sound of his own voice, but soon got over it, and rather liked the idea of the people taking some part in the service instead of having it all done by the minister. It was very delightful when the choir came in with the organ, in contrast to the singing in Rumford meetinghouse where the deacon lined the Psalms, two lines at a time, and set the tune with his pitch-pipe.
When the service was over and the people were going out, the organ began to play. The sexton took them upstairs to see his brother John handle it. Robert was surprised to see him using his feet as well as his hands, fingering two sets of keys, pushing in and pulling out what Tom said were "stops." When through with the piece, the organist explained the mechanism of the instrument, playing softly and then making the windows rattle.
An hour at noon, and then the meetinghouse bells were tolling for the afternoon service.
"We will go to our own meeting; I want you to hear Reverend Doctor Cooper," said Berinthia. The meetinghouse was in Brattle Street, close by the barracks. The soldiers were lounging around the building staring at the people, laughing, smoking their pipes, and making rude remarks. When meeting was over the soldiers gathered around the door and leered at the girls. Robert clenched his fist and felt his blood grow hot. A lieutenant started to walk beside Berinthia.
[Footnote 30: The meetinghouse in Brattle Street at the time of the opening of this story was a large unpainted wooden structure which was torn down in 1772 and replaced by an elegant edifice of brick with quoins of freestone. John Hancock gave one thousand pounds and a bell. The pastor, Reverend Samuel Cooper, was an earnest advocate for the rights of the Colonies, and without doubt his influence, combined with that of Samuel Adams, had much to do in attaching Hancock to the patriots' side.]
"My cousin will not need your escort, sir," said Robert touching his elbow.
The officer grew red in the face and disappeared in the barracks.
On Monday morning Robert bade his friends good-by. Peter Augustus had something for him at the Green Dragon: a basket filled with fruit—melocotoons, pears, and plums—and a neatly written note.
"Will Mr. Walden kindly take a basket of fruit to his sister, Miss Rachel, from Ruth Newville."
That was all. What a surprise it would be to Rachel! Why was Miss Newville sending it? She never had met Rachel; knew nothing of her, except what little he had said, yet the gift!
The sun was going down the following evening when he reached the turn of the road bringing him in sight of home. He was yet half a mile away, but Rachel was standing in the doorway waving her apron. She could not wait for Jenny to trot home, but came down the road bareheaded, climbed into the wagon, put her arms around his neck, and gave him a hug and a kiss. There was a look of wonder on her face when he uncovered the basket of fruit and told her who had sent it,—a beautiful girl, one of Berinthia's friends, whom he had rescued from the king's soldiers. There were tears in Rachel's eyes when he put the beads around her neck.
"Oh, Rob! how good you are!"
It was all she could say.
* * * * *
November came, and Berinthia Brandon was sitting in her chamber. From its eastern window she looked across the burial ground with its rows of headstones. The leafless trees were swaying in the breeze. She was thinking of what Samuel Adams had said to her, that life is worth living just in proportion to the service we can render to others. What had she ever done for anybody? Not much. A feeling of sadness came over her. The afternoon sun was lengthening the shadows of the headstones across the grass-grown mounds. The first snow of approaching winter was lying white and pure above the sleeping forms of those who had finished their earthly work. Beyond the burial ground she beheld the harbor. The tide had been at its flood, and was sweeping towards the sea. A ship was sailing down the roadstead to begin its adventurous voyage to a distant land.
"Why can I not do something for somebody instead of idling my time away?" she said to herself, recalling what Mr. Adams had said—that it was the duty of every woman to forego personal comfort and pleasure for the promotion of the public good; that everybody should leave off using tea to let the king, the ministry, and the people of England know that the men and women of the Colonies could stand resolutely and unflinchingly for a great principle. With her father, mother, and Tom she had quit drinking tea; why should she not persuade others to banish it from their tables? A thought came to her, and she opened her writing-desk, a gift from her father, beautifully inlaid with ivory, which he had obtained in a foreign country. She dipped her pen into the ink, reflected a moment, and then wrote her thought: "We, the daughters of patriots, who have stood and do now stand for the public interest, with pleasure engage with them in denying ourselves the drinking of foreign tea, in hope to frustrate a plan that tends to deprive the community of its rights."
[Footnote 31: The agreement signed by the mothers and daughters may be found in the Boston News-Letter, February 15, 1770.]
In her enthusiasm she walked the floor, thinking of those whom she would ask to sign it. She would not subject herself to ridicule by calling upon those who sided with the king, but upon those who she knew were ready to make sacrifices for justice and right.
"I am glad you have written it, daughter," Mr. Brandon said when she informed him of what she had done and was intending to do; "I see no reason, wife, why you should not do what you can in the same way among the women, to let people on the other side of the sea understand the Colonies are in earnest. Already there has been a great falling off in trade between the Colonies and England, and if we can stop this tea trade it will not be long before the merchants will be swarming around Parliament demanding something to be done. We must arouse public sentiment on this question, and you, daughter, are just the girl to begin it."
Mr. Brandon reached out his hand and took Berinthia's and gave it a squeeze to let her know he had faith in her.
"I will do what I can to persuade others," she said, returning the pressure.
Through the night Berinthia was thinking over what she had started to accomplish, and what arguments she should use to influence those whom she would ask to sign the agreement. The great idea, with a moral principle behind it, took possession of her mind and drove sleep from her eyes and aroused the energies of the soul. Why undertake the arduous task alone? Why not ask Doctor Cooper to preach about it? If she could but get the ministers enlisted, they could awaken public sentiment.
"Ah! I have it. Week after next is Thanksgiving, and I will get them to preach sermons that will stir up the people," she said to herself.
Thanksgiving Day came. Very eloquent were the words spoken for Justice, Right, and Liberty by Reverend Doctor Cooper, Reverend Doctor Eliot, Reverend Doctor Checkley, and nearly all the other ministers, excepting Reverend Mr. Coner, rector of King's Chapel, and Reverend Mather Byles of Christ Church, whose sympathies were with the king.
[Footnote 32: Reverend Andrew Eliot was pastor of the New North Church, an edifice still standing at the corner of Hanover and Clark streets, and used by the Roman Catholics. Reverend Samuel Checkley was pastor of the New South Church, and Reverend Samuel Blair of the Old South. These pastors were outspoken in denunciation of the offensive measures of the king and his ministers.]
In every household fathers and mothers, sons and daughters and grandchildren, gathered in the old home, and had a great deal to say, while partaking of the roast turkey and plum-pudding, of the sermons they had heard in the different meetinghouses. All the ministers preached about the proposal of Parliament to levy a tax upon tea, and that if it could not be defeated in any other way it was the patriotic duty of the people to quit using the herb. They must deny themselves the luxury, that they might maintain their freedom. Little did they know that a blue-eyed girl had called upon Doctor Cooper and read to him what she had written, an agreement to drink no more tea; how his soul had been set on fire and he had gone with her to the houses of other ministers, that they might look into her eyes and see the flashing of a resolute spirit in behalf of justice, righteousness, and liberty.
Although the snow was deep in the streets, the drifts did not deter Berinthia from calling upon her friends. Many of the good ladies were ready to sign an agreement to drink no more tea; others hesitated. She was warmly welcomed by Mrs. Abigail Adams, who at once saw how great would be the influence of the women upon their husbands.
"But what shall we drink instead of tea?" asked Dorothy Quincy.
"When summer comes, we will go out into the fields and gather strawberry leaves, and call them Hyperion, or some other elegant name. I think it quite as pretty a name as Old Hyson, and I am not sure that they will not be more healthful," Berinthia replied.
Miss Dorothy laughed heartily. "Yes, and we can, upon a pinch, drink cold water from the town pump and flavor it with peppermint," she said, as she wrote her name.
After leaving Miss Quincy, Berinthia lifted the knocker of the Newville mansion, not to ask Ruth to sign the agreement; she could not do that, for Mr. Newville was a Tory, and the signers were daughters of patriots.
"How good it is to see you once more. It is a very long time since I have looked upon your face," Ruth exclaimed, embracing her.
"The snow has been so deep and I have had so much to do, I have not found time to call till now, and I don't know as I should be here to-day only I am spinning street-yarn for a particular purpose."
Ruth was at a loss to understand her.
"I am calling on my acquaintances, and I was not quite sure whether I ought to skip you or not."
"Skip me! What have I done that you should think of dropping me from your acquaintance?"
Berinthia saw a wondering and injured look in the loving eyes.
"Oh, you haven't done anything; it is what the king, Lord North, and Parliament are doing. They intend to make us pay taxes against our will, and we girls are signing an agreement not to drink any more tea, and I am calling on my friends for that purpose."
The look of wonder and grief disappeared, and Ruth's face brightened once more. She read the agreement and the list of names.
"I didn't call, dear Ruth, to ask you to sign it. I have no right to do so. It is an agreement to be signed by the daughters of those who are opposed to being taxed in this way. Your father, doubtless, may be willing to pay the tax; my father is not. You may not think as we do, but that shall not disturb our friendship. I shall love you just as I have ever since we were children."
"How good you are! I appreciate your kindness. My father and mother stand for the king, but I have my own opinion. Under the terms of the agreement, I cannot sign it, but I am with you in spirit. I can see the course taken by the king is not right or just, and it will fail. Nothing can succeed in the end that is not right."
"Oh, Ruth, how you shame me. Here I have been fidgeting over the cutting things some of the girls and their mothers have been saying. One asked if I expected to bankrupt the East India Company. Another wanted to know if I was going to wear trousers and vote in town meeting."
"So mother's afternoon tea-party stands a chance of being the last, for the present, at least. By the way, do you ever hear from your cousin, Mr. Walden?"
"No, I have not heard a word since he left us. I should not be surprised, however, if he were to drop in upon us any day, for I have written him that the ship is to be launched soon. Father intends to make it a grand occasion when the Berinthia Brandon glides into the water. I shall have all my friends present, Ruth Newville chief among them."
"Count upon me to do whatever I can to make it a happy day," said Ruth.
LAUNCHING OF THE BERINTHIA BRANDON.
The pigs had been fattening through the winter, and it was quite time to send them to market.
"You did so well with the cheese, you may see what you can do with the shoats," said Mr. Walden to Robert. "It is good sleighing. You can harness the colt and Jenny, and go with the pung. I want you to take Rachel along. You can stay a couple of weeks and have a good visit."
There was a glow upon Rachel's face. It would be her first journey. She would see new things, and make new acquaintances. During the evenings she had been knitting a hood and mittens of the finest wool, and would present them to Miss Newville.
It was a resplendent morning, with the eastern sky like molten gold in the light of the rising sun, and the hoar-frost upon the twigs of the leafless trees changing to glittering diamonds. The colt, sleek and plump, was champing his bit and shaking his head in his impatience to be off. Jenny was staid and sober, but when Robert said, "Now, lad and lady," the colt pranced a few steps, then settled to a steady trot, learning a lesson from Jenny.
An hour before lunch-time they whirled up to Captain Stark's tavern in Derryfield, and before sunset came to a halt in the dooryard of a relative in Andover. Before noon the next day Rachel was looking with wondering eyes upon the gleaming spires of the meetinghouses and the crooked streets of Boston.
"You have come just at the right time," said Berinthia, welcoming her with a kiss, "for I am to be launched day after to-morrow."
Seeing by the look of wonder on Rachel's face that she was not understood, Berinthia explained that the ship her father was building was to bear her name, and that everything was ready for the launching.
"Oh, it will be so delightful to have you here!" she added. "We will be on the deck, ever so many of us,—my friends, papa's and mamma's and Tom's. Ruth Newville will be here; and Tom's classmate in Harvard College, Roger Stanley, who lives out beyond Lexington, is coming. He's a real nice young man, and I am sure you will like him. Tom's girl will be here, Mary Shrimpton; she is out in the kitchen now. She has been helping us make crumpets, crullers, gingerbread, and cake. Father and mother intend to make it a grand affair, and have invited half of the town,—doctors, lawyers, ministers, and their wives; everybody that is anybody. Tom has invited his friends, and I mine, because the ship is to bear my name."
Rachel said she was glad she had come to see and enjoy it all.
"We will have a jolly time while you are here; it is vacation at college, and I shan't have to study," said Tom.
A young lady with a pleasant face, light blue eyes, and soft brown hair, entered the room and was introduced as Miss Shrimpton.
"She has been helping us get ready, and has rolled out a bushel of crullers," said Tom.
"Not quite so many," said Miss Shrimpton, smiling.
Robert thought her very attractive and pleasing.
"I think I will go home now; father and mother will be expecting me, but I will be round to-morrow," said Miss Shrimpton.
Tom put on his hat and escorted her. When he returned, and he and Robert were by themselves, he said that she was the best girl in Boston.
"Her father," he went on, "is a red-hot Tory. He lives in a fine house, owns thousands of acres of land out in the country, thinks King George a saint, ordained of God to rule us; that Sam Adams and Doctor Warren are tricksters fooling the people for their own benefit. But Mary is just the nicest girl you ever saw. She has no mother, runs the house for her father, keeps everything as neat as a pin, and by and by, after I get through at Harvard and am in possession of my sheepskin with A. B. on it, she will be Mrs. Tom Brandon."
Robert congratulated Tom upon his engagement.
The next morning saw Robert in the market disposing of what he had to sell, while Berinthia with Rachel called upon Miss Newville.
"It was very kind of you to send such a basket of fruit to me, a stranger; will you please accept a little gift in return? It is not much, but it will let you know that I appreciate your goodness," said Rachel, placing a bundle in Miss Newville's hands. When it was opened Ruth beheld a close-fitting hood of the softest lamb's wool, made beautiful with pink ribbons; there was also a pair of mittens.
"Oh, Miss Walden! How good you are! How soft and nice! And they are of your own carding, spinning, and knitting? And you have done it for me, whom you never had seen, and of whom you never heard except through your brother. And is he well?" Miss Newville asked.
"Quite well. You will see him to-morrow at the launching."
"Isn't it delightful that they have come in the nick of time?" said Berinthia.
"How fortunate! And you are to have such a nice party. I will wear the hood and be the envy of everybody," said Miss Newville, putting it on, praising its beauty, and calling in her mother to make Rachel's acquaintance and admire the gift.
The launching of the ship was to be at flood-tide, eleven o'clock in the forenoon. Though in midwinter, the air was mild, as if a warm breath had been wafted landward from the Gulf Stream. There was a fever of excitement and preparation in the Brandon home. Dinah in the kitchen was taking pots of baked beans and loaves of brown bread smoking hot from the oven, filling baskets with crumpets and crullers. Mark Antony was taking them to the shipyard. Mrs. Brandon, Berinthia, Rachel, and Mary Shrimpton were preparing the cakes and pies. Tom and Robert on board the ship were arranging for the collation.
Never before had Rachel beheld anything so enchanting as the scene in the shipyard,—the ship with its tall and tapering masts, its spars and yard-arms; the multitudes of ropes like the threads of a spider's web; flags, streamers, red, white, green, blue, yellow, with devices of lions, unicorns, dragons, eagles, fluttering from bowsprit to fore-royal mast, from taffrail to mizzen. Beneath the bowsprit was the bust of Berinthia, the heart and soul of the man who carved it in every feature, for to Abraham Duncan there was no face on earth so beautiful as that of the shipmaster's daughter.
The guests were assembling on the deck: the commissioner of imposts, Theodore Newville, Mrs. Newville, and their daughter, Ruth; his majesty's receiver-general, Nathaniel Coffin, and his two sons, Isaac and John; Reverend Doctor Samuel Cooper, minister of the church in Brattle Street; Doctor Warren, physician to the family of the shipmaster; Lieutenant-Colonel Dalrymple, commanding the king's troops,—for Mr. Brandon, though deprecating the presence of the troops in Boston, determined to be courteous to the representatives of his majesty; Admiral Montague, who came in his gig rowed by six sailors from his flagship, Romney; William Molineux and John Rowe, merchants; Richard Dana and Edmund Quincy, magistrates; John Adams, a young lawyer; honored citizens and their wives; Master Lovell; and Tom's classmate, Roger Stanley, who had walked from Lexington in the early morning. Among the many ladies, most attractive was Ruth Newville, wearing a close-fitting hood of soft lamb's wool, trimmed with bright ribbon, all her friends admiring it.
[Footnote 33: William Molineux was a prominent merchant who gave his sympathies to the cause of the people. He was one of the committee who demanded the removal of the troops after the Massacre of March 5, 1770. He was one of the "Indians" composing the "Tea-party." He was also one of the promoters of the spinning-school in Long Acre. He died before the outbreak of hostilities.]
Berinthia introduced Rachel and Robert to Mrs. Adams. They found her a very charming lady; she had brought her little boy, John Quincy, to see the launching of the ship.
Picturesque the scene: gentlemen wearing white wigs, blue, crimson, and scarlet cloaks, carrying gold-headed canes, taking pinches of snuff from silver-mounted boxes; young gentlemen with handsome figures and manly faces; ladies with tippets and muffs; girls in hoods,—all congratulating Berinthia, admiring the beauty and tidiness of the ship, and the lovely figure of herself. All praised Abraham Duncan, who blushed like a schoolboy.
They could hear the clattering of mallets and axes beneath them, and knew the carpenters were knocking away the props. The ways had been slushed with grease. The tide was at the flood. Ruth Newville was to break the bottle of wine. She had shaken hands with Robert Walden, and given expression of her pleasure at meeting him once more. Her eyes had followed him; even when not looking towards him she had seen him. Once more she thanked Rachel for her gift. Her mates were asking her where she had found a hood so beautiful and becoming. They stood upon the quarter-deck, Berinthia the queen of the hour, Ruth, radiant and lovely, by her side. They heard the bell striking the hour of eleven. A great crowd had assembled to see the launching. Men, women, boys, and girls were in the yard, flocking the street, gazing from doors and windows of neighboring houses.
"Are you ready there?"
It was the builder of the ship, Mr. Brandon, shouting over the taffrail to those beneath.
"Aye, aye, sir."
"Then knock it away."
They heard a blow from an axe. The stately ship quivered a moment, then glided with increasing speed down the ways.
Mr. Brandon raised his hand, and a ball of bunting at the topmast fluttered out into the Cross of St. George. Ruth lifted the bottle of wine, broke it upon the rail, and poured the contents into the river. A huzza rose from the quarter-deck. Handkerchiefs fluttered in the air. The people tossed up their hats. From street, doorway, and window came an answering shout.
Out from the shore drifted the Berinthia till the anchor dropped from her bow, and she lay a thing of beauty, swinging with the ebbing tide.
In the cabin the guests were partaking of the bountiful and appetizing repast.
"I remember, Miss Newville, that you once graciously served me at an afternoon tea; shall I have the pleasure of waiting upon you?" Robert asked.
"I shall be pleased to be served by you. The fresh air has sharpened my appetite, and I will begin with a plate of beans, if you please."
He brought what she desired, served himself, and took a chair by her side. They talked of the successful launching, of the beauty of the ship, sitting as gracefully as a swan upon the water, of the almost perfect likeness of the figurehead to Berinthia.
"Possibly it is so beautiful because the engraver's heart has gone into it," she said with a smile.
Their eyes met. He thought hers very beautiful at the moment.
Roger Stanley found equal pleasure in serving Rachel, and in listening to what she had to say about the launching, her visit to Boston, and of things in Rumford.
Robert talked with Isaac Coffin, who said he expected to have a commission in his majesty's navy. Admiral Montague was very kind, and was using his influence to secure an appointment. His younger brother, John, liked the army better. Robert came to the conclusion that they were not Sons of Liberty, but were inclined to take sides with the ministry, which was very natural, as their father was holding a very important office under the crown.
There was a merry chattering of voices, a rattling of knives and forks, and changing of plates. Mark Antony was master of ceremonies at the table, giving directions to Caesar and Pompey.
Although society was divided politically, neighbors still were friends, accepting and giving hospitality, and when meeting socially avoiding all allusion to the proposed bill for taxing the Colonies. All hoped that nothing would be done by Parliament to interrupt friendly relations between the Colonies and the mother country. Doctor Warren made himself agreeable to bluff Admiral Montague. William Molineux cracked jokes with Colonel Dalrymple. Richard Dana and Nathaniel Coffin were friendly neighbors. Mr. Dana could look out from his front windows near Frog Lane, and see the spacious grounds of his neighbor Coffin's "Fields," as the boys who played ball called it. There was no reason why they should be at odds socially, just because Lord North and the king proposed to levy a tax of three pence a pound on tea.
[Footnote 34: Frog Lane extended from Newbury, now Washington Street, to the Common. It is now a part of Boylston Street. Mr. Dana's house commanded an extensive view across the fields, gardens, and orchards owned by Nathaniel Coffin, south of the present Summer Street.]
With story and jest the company enjoyed the banquet and then were rowed to the shore, all shaking hands with Berinthia and congratulating her upon the successful launching of the vessel bearing her name.
"What can we do to round out the day for you, dear?"
It was Miss Newville addressing Berinthia.
"I don't know; what can we?" was the reply.
"How would you like a sleigh-ride?" Robert asked.
"Delightful!" exclaimed Miss Newville.
"Jenny and the colt are rested, and if you don't mind riding in a pung, I shall be pleased to take a little spin out of town."
"Oh, it will be so charming! I would rather go in a pung than in a sleigh; it is more romantic," Miss Newville said.
It was quickly arranged. Robert went to the Green Dragon, put new straw in the pung, and was soon back with the team. They were eight in number and quickly seated themselves. It was natural that Berinthia and Abraham Duncan, who had put his heart into his work while carving her features, should sit side by side, and that Tom Brandon and Mary Shrimpton should desire to be tucked under the same bearskin. It was a pleasure to Roger Stanley to ask Miss Walden to keep him company.
"They have decided, Mr. Walden, that we shall sit together," Miss Newville said as she stepped into the pung.
"I shall regard it an honor to have your company," was the reply.
When all were ready, the horses set the sleigh-bells jingling. Farmers plodding home from the market gave them the road, and smiled as they listened to the merry laughter. They went at a brisk trot over the Neck leading to Roxbury, and turned to the left, taking the Dorchester road. At times the horses came to a walk, but at a chirrup from Robert quickened their pace, the colt throwing snowballs into Miss Newville's face.
"You must excuse him, Miss Newville; he is young, and has not learned to be polite," Robert said, apologizing for the animal.
They gained the highlands of Dorchester, from whence they could overlook the harbor and its islands, and see the lighthouse rising from its rocky foundation, with the white surf breaking around it. A ship which had left Charles River with the ebbing tide had reached Nantasket Roads, and was spreading its sails for a voyage across the sea.
"So the Berinthia will soon be sailing," said Miss Newville, "and we shall all want to keep track of her; and whenever we read of her coming and going we shall all recall this delightful day, made so enjoyable for us this morning by Berinthia and so charming this afternoon by your kindness."
She turned her face towards Robert. The afternoon sun was illumining her countenance. He had seen in Mr. Henchman's bookstall a beautiful picture of a Madonna. Mr. Knox told him it was a steel engraving from a picture painted by the great artist Raphael, and Robert wondered if the countenance was any more lovely than that which looked up to him at the moment.
They were riding towards the Milton Hills. The woodman's axe had left untouched the oaks, elms, maples, and birches; they were leafless in midwinter, but the pines and hemlocks were green and beautiful upon its rocky sides. The purple sky, changing into gold along the western horizon, the white robe of winter upon hill and dale, the windows of farmhouses reflecting the setting sun, made the view and landscape of marvelous beauty. Descending the hill, they came to the winding Neponset River, and rode along its banks beneath overhanging elms. The bending limbs, though leafless, were beautiful in their outlines against the sky. Turning westward, they reached the great road leading from Boston to Providence.
"We might go to Dedham, but I think we had better turn back towards Roxbury, let the horses rest a bit at the Greyhound Tavern, and have supper," said Tom, who was well acquainted with the road.
[Footnote 35: The Greyhound was a much frequented tavern in Roxbury, with the figure of a greyhound upon its sign. It was in this tavern that the repeal of the Stamp Act was celebrated, 1767. Convivial parties were courteously entertained by the accommodating landlord.]
The sun had gone down when they whirled up to the tavern, whose swinging sign was ornamented with a rude picture of a greyhound. A bright fire was blazing in the parlor. They laid aside their outer garments and warmed themselves by its ruddy glow. The keen, fresh air had sharpened their appetites for supper. Chloe and Samson, cook and table-waiter, served them with beefsteak hot from the gridiron, swimming in butter; potatoes roasted in the ashes; shortcake steaming hot from the Dutch oven.
"Shall I brew Bohea, Hyson, or Hyperion tea," the landlady asked, beginning with Miss Newville and glancing at each in turn.
[Footnote 36: Strawberry and other domestic teas were called by the high-sounding name, Hyperion.]
"I will take Hyperion," Miss Newville replied, with a tact and grace that made her dearer than ever to Berinthia, and to them all, knowing as they did that Bohea and Hyson were still served in her own home.
Supper over, they returned to the parlor, where the bright flame on the hearth was setting their shadows to dancing on the walls. The feet of Mary Shrimpton were keeping time to the ticking of the clock.
"Why can't we have a dance?" she asked.
"Why not?" all responded.
"I'll see if we can find Uncle Brutus," said Tom.
Uncle Brutus was the white-haired old negro who did chores about the tavern.
"Yes, massa, I can play a jig, quickstep, minuet, and reel. De ladies and genmen say I can play de fiddle right smart," Brutus responded, rolling his eyes and showing his well-preserved white teeth.
"If de ladies and genmen will wait a little till old Brutus can make himself 'spectable, he'll make de fiddle sing."
While the old negro was getting ready to entertain them with his violin, they proposed conundrums and riddles and narrated stories.
There came at length a gentle rap on the door, and Brutus, with high standing collar, wearing a cast-off coat given him by his master, his round-bowed spectacles on the tip of his nose, entered the room, bowing very low. He took his stand in one corner and tuned his violin. The chairs and light-stand were removed to the hall.
"De ladies and genmen will please choose pardners for de minuet," said Brutus.
The choosing had been already done; the partners were as they had been. After the minuet came the reel and quickstep, danced with grace and due decorum.
The hour quickly flew. The horses had finished their provender and were rested. Once more they were on the road, not riding directly homeward, but turning into cross-roads to Jamaica Pond, where the boys were gliding over the gleaming ice on their skates. They had kindled fires which lighted up the surrounding objects, the dark foliage of pines and hemlocks, and the branches of the leafless elms and maples growing on the banks of the pond.
The full moon was shining in their faces as they rode homeward. The evening air was crisp, but the hot supper and the merry dance had warmed their blood. The jingling of the sleigh-bells and their joyous laughter made the air resonant with music.
At times the horses lagged to a walk, and Robert could let the reins lie loose and turn his face toward Miss Newville. Her eyes at times looked up to his. He could feel her arm against his own. The violet hood leaned towards him as if to find a resting-place. To Robert Walden and to Ruth Newville alike never had there been such a night, so full of beauty, so delightful.