The Adopted Daughter by Mary E.
The Inventory of the Estate of Samuel
Wales Late of Braintree, Taken by the Subscribers, March
the 14th, 1761.
His Purse in Cash
The Best Bed with two Coverlids, three,
two underbeds, two Bolsters, two pillows,
One mill Blanket, two Phlanel sheets, 12 toe
Eleven Towels & table Cloth
a pair of mittens & pr. of Gloves
a neck Handkerchief & neckband
an ovel Tabel—Two other Tabels
A Chist with Draws
Another Low Chist with Draws & three other
Six best Chears and a great chear
a warming pan—Two Brass Kittles
a Small Looking Glass, five Pewter Basons
fifteen other Chears
fire arms, Sword & bayonet
Six Porringers, four platters, Two Pewter
auger Chisel, Gimlet, a Bible & other Books
A chese press, great spinning-wheel, &
a smith's anvil
a Bleu Jacket
£ 3- 4- 8
0- 2- 0
0- 4- 0
2- 8- 0
1- 6- 0
1- 5- 0
0- 7- 8
1- 4- 0
£ 1- 0- 4
0- 9- 0
£ 3-12- 0
0- 8- 0
0- 0- 3
The foregoing is only a small portion of the original
inventory of Samuel Wales's estate. He was an
exceedingly well-to-do man for these times. He had a
good many acres of rich pasture and woodland, and
considerable live stock. Then his home was larger and
more comfortable than was usual then; and his stock of
household utensils plentiful.
He died three years after Ann Ginnins went to live
with Grandma, when she was about thirteen years old.
Grandma spared her to Mrs. Polly for a few weeks after
the funeral; there was a great deal to be done, and she
needed some extra help. And, after all, Ann was legally
bound to her, and her lawful servant.
So the day after good Samuel Wales was laid away in
the little Braintree burying-ground, Ann returned to her
old quarters for a little while. She did not really want
to go; but she did not object to the plan at all. She
was sincerely sorry for poor Mrs. Polly, and wanted to
help her, if she could. She mourned, herself, for Mr.
Samuel. He had always been very kind to her.
Mrs. Polly had for company, besides Ann, Nabby
Porter, Grandma's old hired woman whom she had made over
to her, and a young man who had been serving as
apprentice to Mr. Samuel. His name was Phineas Adams. He
was very shy and silent, but a good workman.
Samuel Wales left a will bequeathing everything to
his widow; that was solemnly read in the fore-room one
afternoon; then the inventory had to be taken. That, on
account of the amount of property, was quite an
undertaking; but it was carried out with the greatest
formality and precision.
For several days, Mr. Aaron Whitcomb and Mr. Silas
White were stalking majestically about the premises,
with note-books and pens. Aaron Whitcomb was a grave,
portly old man, with a large head of white hair. Silas
White was little and wiry and fussy. He monopolized the
greater part of the business, although he was not half
as well fitted for it as his companion.
They pried into everything with religious exactitude.
Mrs. Polly watched them with beseeming awe and
deference, but it was a great trial to her, and she grew
very nervous over it. It seemed dreadful to have all her
husband's little personal effects, down to his neckband
and mittens, handled over, and their worth in shillings
and pence calculated. She had a price fixed on them
already in higher currency.
Ann found her crying one afternoon sitting on the
kitchen settle, with her apron over her head. When she
saw the little girl's pitying look, she poured out her
trouble to her.
"They've just been valuing his mittens and gloves,"
said she, sobbing, "at two-and-sixpence. I shall be
thankful when they are through."
"Are there any more of his things?" asked Ann, her
black eyes flashing, with the tears in them.
"I think they've seen about all. There's his blue
jacket he used to milk in, a-hanging behind the shed
door—I guess they haven't valued that yet."
"I think it's a shame!" quoth Ann. "I don't believe
there's any need of so much law."
"Hush, child! You mustn't set yourself up against the
judgment of your elders. Such things have to be done."
Ann said no more, but the indignant sparkle did not
fade out of her eyes at all. She watched her
opportunity, and took down Mr. Wales's old blue jacket
from its peg behind the shed door, ran with it upstairs,
and hid it in her own room behind the bed. "There," said
she, "Mrs. Wales sha'n't cry over that!"
That night, at tea time, the work of taking the
inventory was complete. Mr. Whitcomb and Mr. White
walked away with their long lists, satisfied that they
had done their duty according to the law. Every article
of Samuel Wales's property, from a warming-pan to a
chest of drawers, was set down, with the sole exception
of that old blue jacket, which Ann had hidden.
She felt complacent over it at first; then she began
to be uneasy.
"Nabby," said she confidentially to the old servant
woman, when they were washing the pewter plates together
after supper, "what would they do if anybody shouldn't
let them set down all the things—if they hid some of 'em
away, I mean?"
"They'd make a dretful time on't," said Nabby
impressively. She was a large, stern-looking old woman.
"They air dretful perticklar 'bout these things. They
hev to be."
Ann was scared when she heard that. When the dishes
were done, she sat down on the settle and thought it
over, and made up her mind what to do.
The next morning, in the frosty dawning, before the
rest of the family were up, a slim, erect little figure
could have been seen speeding across lots toward Mr.
Silas White's. She had the old blue jacket tucked under
her arm. When she reached the house, she spied Mr. White
just coming out of the back door with a milking pail. He
carried a lantern, too, for it was hardly light.
He stopped and stared when Ann ran up to him.
"Mr. White," said she, all breathless,
"here's—something—I guess yer didn't see yesterday."
Mr. White set down the milk pail, took the blue
jacket which she handed him, and scrutinized it sharply
by the light of the lantern.
"I guess we didn't see it," said he finally. "I will
put it down—it's worth about three pence, I judge.
"Silas, Silas!" called a shrill voice from the house.
Silas White dropped the jacket and trotted briskly in,
his lantern bobbing agitatedly. He never delayed a
moment when his wife called; important and tyrannical as
the little man was abroad, he had his own tyrant at
Ann did not wait for him to return; she snatched up
the blue jacket and fled home, leaping like a little
deer over the hoary fields. She hung up the precious old
jacket behind the shed door again, and no one ever knew
the whole story of its entrance in the inventory. If she
had been questioned, she would have told the truth
boldly, though. But Samuel Wales's Inventory had for its
last item that blue jacket, spelled after Silas White's
own individual method, as was many another word in the
long list. Silas White consulted his own taste with
respect to capital letters too.
After a few weeks, Grandma said she must have Ann
again; and back she went. Grandma was very feeble
lately, and everybody humored her. Mrs. Polly was sorry
to have the little girl leave her. She said it was
wonderful how much she had improved. But she would not
have admitted that the improvement was owing to the
different influence she had been under; she said Ann had
outgrown her mischievous ways.
Grandma did not live very long after this, however.
Mrs. Polly had her bound girl at her own disposal in a
year's time. Poor Ann was sorrowful enough for a long
while after Grandma's death. She wore the beloved gold
beads round her neck, and a sad ache in her heart. The
dear old woman had taken the beads off her neck with her
own hands and given them to Ann before she died, that
there might be no mistake about it.
Mrs. Polly said she was glad Ann had them. "You might
jist as well have 'em as Dorcas's girl," said she; "she
set enough sight more by you."
Ann could not help growing cheerful again, after a
while. Affairs in Mrs. Polly's house were much brighter
for her, in some ways, than they had ever been before.
Either the hot iron of affliction had smoothed some
of the puckers out of her mistress's disposition, or she
was growing, naturally, less sharp and dictatorial. Any
way, she was becoming as gentle and loving with Ann as
it was in her nature to be, and Ann, following her
impulsive temper, returned all the affection with vigor,
and never bestowed a thought on past unpleasantness.
For the next two years, Ann's position in the family
grew to be more and more that of a daughter. If it had
not been for the indentures, lying serenely in that tall
wooden desk, she would almost have forgotten, herself,
that she was a bound girl.
One spring afternoon, when Ann was about sixteen
years old, her mistress called her solemnly into the
fore-room. "Ann," said she, "come here, I want to speak
Nabby stared wonderingly; and Ann, as she obeyed,
felt awed. There was something unusual in her mistress's
Standing there in the fore-room, in the august
company of the best bed, with its high posts and
flowered-chintz curtains, the best chest of drawers, and
the best chairs, Ann listened to what Mrs. Polly had to
tell her. It was a plan which almost took her breath
away; for it was this: Mrs. Polly proposed to adopt her,
and change her name to Wales. She would be no longer Ann
Ginnins, and a bound girl: but Ann Wales, and a daughter
in her mother's home.
Ann dropped into one of the best chairs, and sat
there, her little dark face very pale. "Should I have
the—papers? "she gasped at length.
"Your papers? Yes, child, you can have them."
"I don't want them,"cried Ann, "never! I want them to
stay just where they are, till my time is out. If I am
adopted, I don't want the papers!"
Mrs. Polly stared. She had never known how Ann had
taken the indentures with her on her run-away trip years
ago; but now Ann told her the whole story. In her
gratitude to her mistress, and her contrition, she had
It was so long ago in Ann's childhood, it did not
seem so very dreadful to Mrs. Polly, probably. But Ann
insisted on the indentures remaining in the desk, even
after the papers of adoption were made out, and she had
become "Ann Wales." It seemed to go a little way toward
satisfying her conscience. This adoption meant a good
deal to Ann; for besides a legal home, and a mother, it
secured to her a right in a comfortable property in the
future. Mrs. Polly Wales was considered very well off.
She was a smart business-woman, and knew how to take
care of her property too. She still hired Phineas Adams
to carry on the blacksmith's business, and kept her
farm-work running just as her husband had. Neither she
nor Ann were afraid of work, and Ann Wales used to milk
the cows, and escort them to and from pasture, as
faithfully as Ann Ginnins.
It was along in springtime when Ann was adopted, and
Mrs. Polly fulfilled her part of the contract in the
indentures by getting the Sunday suit therein spoken of.
They often rode on horseback to meeting, but they
usually walked on the fine Sundays in spring. Ann had
probably never been so happy in her life as she was
walking by Mrs. Polly's side to meeting that first
Sunday after her adoption. Most of the way was through
the woods; the tender light green boughs met over their
heads; the violets and anemones were springing beside
their path. There were green buds and white blossoms all
around; the sky showed blue between the waving branches,
and the birds were singing.
Ann in her pretty petticoat of rose-colored stuff,
stepping daintily over the young grass and the flowers,
looked and felt like a part of it all. Her dark cheeks
had a beautiful red glow on them; her black eyes shone.
She was as straight and graceful and stately as an
"She's as handsome as a picture," thought Mrs. Polly
in her secret heart. A good many people said that Ann
resembled Mrs. Polly in her youth, and that may have
added force to her admiration.
Her new gown was very fine for those days; but fine
as she was, and adopted daughter though she was, Ann did
not omit her thrifty ways for once. This identical
morning Mrs. Polly and she carried their best shoes
under their arms, and wore their old ones, till within a
short distance from the meeting-house. Then the old
shoes were tucked away under a stone wall for safety,
and the best ones put on. Stone walls, very likely,
sheltered a good many well-worn little shoes, of a
Puritan Sabbath, that their prudent owners might appear
in the House of God trimly shod. Ah! these beautiful,
new, peaked-toed, high-heeled shoes of Ann's —what would
she have said to walking in them all the way to meeting!
If that Sunday was an eventful one to Ann Wales, so
was the week following. The next Tuesday, right after
dinner, she was up in a little unfinished chamber over
the kitchen, where they did such work when the weather
permitted, carding wool. All at once, she heard voices
down below. They had a strange inflection, which gave
her warning at once. She dropped her work and listened.
"What is the matter?" thought she.
Then there was a heavy tramp on the stairs, and
Captain Abraham French stood in the door, his stern
weather-beaten face white and set. Mrs. Polly followed
him, looking very pale and excited.
"When did you see anything of our Hannah?" asked
Captain French, controlling as best he could the tremor
in his resolute voice.
Ann rose, gathering up her big blue apron, cards,
wool and all. "Oh," she cried, "not since last Sabbath,
at meeting! What is it?"
"She's lost," answered Captain French. "She started
to go up to her Aunt Sarah's Monday forenoon; and Enos
has just been down, and they haven't seen anything of
her." Poor Captain French gave a deep groan.
Then they all went down into the kitchen together,
talking and lamenting. And then, Captain French was
galloping away on his gray horse to call assistance, and
Ann was flying away over the fields, blue apron, cards,
wool and all.
"O, Ann!" Mrs. Polly cried after, "where are you
"I'm going—to find—Hannah!" Ann shouted back, in a
shrill, desperate voice, and kept on.
She had no definite notion as to where she was going;
she had only one thought—Hannah French, her darling,
tender, little Hannah French, her friend whom she loved
better than a sister, was lost.
A good three miles from the Wales home was a large
tract of rough land, half-swamp, known as "Bear Swamp."
There was an opinion, more or less correct, that bears
might be found there. Some had been shot in that
vicinity. Why Ann turned her footsteps in that
direction, she could not have told herself. Possibly the
vague impression of conversations she and Hannah had
had, lingering in her mind, had something to do with it.
Many a time the two little girls had remarked to each
other with a shudder, "How awful it would be to get lost
in Bear Swamp."
Any way, Ann went straight there, through pasture and
woodland, over ditches and stone walls. She knew every
step of the way for a long distance. When she gradually
got into the unfamiliar wilderness of the swamp, a
thought struck her—suppose she got lost too! It would be
easy enough—the unbroken forest stretched for miles in
some directions. She would not find a living thing but
Indians, and, maybe, wild beasts, the whole distance.
If she should get lost she would not find Hannah, and
the people would have to hunt for her too. But Ann had
quick wits for an emergency. She had actually carried
those cards, with a big wad of wool between them all the
time, in her gathered-up apron. Now she began picking
off little bits of wool and marking her way with them,
sticking them on the trees and bushes. Every few feet a
fluffy scrap of wool showed the road Ann had gone.
But poor Ann went on, farther and farther—and no sign
of Hannah. She kept calling her from time to time,
hallooing at the top of her shrill sweet voice: "Hannah!
Hannah! Hannah Fre-nch!"
But never a response got the dauntless little girl,
slipping almost up to her knees sometimes, in black
swamp-mud; and sometimes stumbling painfully over
tree-stumps, and through tangled undergrowth.
"I'll go till my wool gives out," said Ann Wales;
then she used it more sparingly.
But it was almost gone before she thought she heard
in the distance a faint little cry in response to her
call: "Hannah! Hannah Fre-nch!" She called again and
listened. Yes; she certainly did hear a little cry off
toward the west. Calling from time to time, she went as
nearly as she could in that direction. The pitiful
answering cry grew louder and nearer; finally Ann could
distinguish Hannah's voice.
Wild with joy, she came, at last, upon her sitting on
a fallen hemlock-tree, her pretty face pale, and her
sweet blue eyes strained with terror.
"O, Hannah!" "O, Ann!"
"How did you ever get here, Hannah?"
"I—started for aunt Sarah's—that morning," explained
Hannah, between sobs. "And—I got frightened in the
woods, about a mile from father's. I saw something ahead
I thought was a bear. A great black thing! Then I
ran—and, somehow, the first thing I knew, I was lost. I
walked and walked, and it seems to me I kept coming
right back to the same place. Finally I sat down here,
and staid; I thought it was all the way for me to be
"O, Hannah! what did you do last night?"
"I staid somewhere, under some pine-trees," replied
Hannah, with a shudder; "and I kept hearing things—O,
Ann hugged her sympathizingly. "I guess I wouldn't
have slept much if I had known," said she. "O, Hannah,
you haven't had anything to eat! ain't you starved?"
Hannah laughed faintly. "I ate up two whole pumpkin
pies I was carrying to aunt Sarah," said she. "Oh! how
lucky it was you had them." "Yes; mother called me back
to get them, after I started. They were some new ones,
made with cream, and she thought aunt Sarah would like
Pretty soon they started. It was hard work, for the
way was very rough, and poor Hannah weak. But Ann had a
good deal of strength in her lithe young frame, and she
half-carried Hannah over the worst places. Still both of
the girls were pretty well spent when they came to the
last of the bits of wool on the border of Bear Swamp.
However, they kept on a little farther; then they had to
stop and rest. "I know where I am now," said Hannah,
with a sigh of delight; "but I don't think I can walk
another step." She was, in fact, almost exhausted.
Ann looked at her thoughtfully. She hardly knew what
to do. She could not carry Hannah herself—indeed, her
own strength began to fail; and she did not want to
leave her to go for assistance.
All of a sudden, she jumped up. "You stay just where
you are a few minutes, Hannah," said she. "I'm going
somewhere. I'll be back soon." Ann was laughing.
Hannah looked up at her pitifully: "O Ann, don't go!"
"I'm coming right back, and it is the only way. You
must get home. Only think how your father and mother are
Hannah said no more after that mention of her
parents, and Ann started.
A CONVEYANCE IS FOUND.
She was not gone long. When she came in sight she was
laughing, and Hannah, weak as she was, laughed, too. Ann
had torn her blue apron into strips, and tied it
together for a rope, and by it she was leading a red
Hannah knew the cow, and knew at once what the plan
was. "O, Ann! you mean for me to ride Betty?"
"Of course I do. I just happened to think our cows
were in the pasture, down below here. And we've ridden
Betty, lots of times, when we were children, and she's
just as gentle now. Whoa, Betty, good cow."
It was very hard work to get Hannah on to the broad
back of her novel steed, but it was finally
accomplished. Betty had been a perfect pet from a calf,
and was exceedingly gentle. She started off soberly
across the fields, with Hannah sitting on her back, and
Ann leading her by her blue rope.
It was a funny cavalcade for Captain Abraham French
and a score of anxious men to meet, when they were
nearly in sight of home; but they were too overjoyed to
see much fun in it.
Hannah rode the rest of the way with her father, on
his gray horse; and Ann walked joyfully by her side,
leading the cow.
Captain French and his friends had, in fact, just
started to search Bear Swamp, well armed with lanterns,
for night was coming on.
It was dark when they got home. Mrs. French was not
much more delighted to see her beloved daughter Hannah
safe again, than Mrs. Polly was to see Ann.
She listened admiringly to the story Ann told.
"Nobody but you would have thought of the wool or of
the cow," said she.
"I do declare," cried Ann, at the mention of the
wool, "I have lost the cards!"
"Never mind the cards!" said Mrs. Polly.