Ann Lizy's Patchwork by Mary E. Wilkins
Ann Lizy was invited to spend the afternoon
and take tea with her friend Jane Baxter, and
she was ready to set forth about one o'clock.
That was the fashionable hour for children and
their elders to start when they were invited out
to spend the afternoon.
Ann Lizy had on her best muslin delaine dress,
her best embroidered pantalets, her black silk
apron, and her flat straw hat with long blue ribbon
streamers. She stood in the south room—the
sitting-room—before her grandmother, who
was putting some squares of patchwork, with
needle, thread, and scissors, into a green silk bag
embroidered with roses in bead-work.
"There, Ann Lizy," said her grandmother,
"you may take my bag if you are real careful of
it, and won't lose it. When you get to Jane's
you lay it on the table, and don't have it round
when you're playin' out-doors."
"Yes, ma'am," said Ann Lizy. She was looking
with radiant, admiring eyes at the bag—its
cluster of cunningly wrought pink roses upon the
glossy green field of silk. Still there was a serious
droop to her mouth; she knew there was a
bitter to this sweet.
"Now," said her grandmother, "I've put four
squares of patchwork in the bag; they're all cut
and basted nice, and you must sew 'em all, over
and over, before you play any. Sew 'em real
fine and even, or you'll have to pick the stitches
out when you get home."
Ann Lizy's radiant eyes faded; she hung her
head. She calculated swiftly that she could not
finish the patchwork before four o'clock, and
that would leave her only an hour and a half to
eat supper and play with Jane, for she would
have to come home at half-past five. "Can't I
take two, and do the other two to-morrow, grandma?"
Her grandmother straightened herself disapprovingly.
She was a tall, wiry old woman with
strong, handsome features showing through her
wrinkles. She had been so energetic all her life,
and done so much work, that her estimation of
it was worn, like scales. Four squares of patchwork
sewed with very fine even stitches had, to
her, no weight at all; it did not seem like work.
"Well, if a great girl like you can't sew four
squares of patchwork in an arternoon, I wouldn't
tell of it, Ann Lizy," said she. "I don't know
what you'd say if you had to work the way I did
at your age. If you can't have time enough to
play and do a little thing like that, you'd better
stay at home. I ain't goin' to have you idle a
whole arternoon, if I know it. Time's worth
too much to be wasted that way."
"I'd sew the others to-morrow," pleaded Ann
"Oh, you wouldn't do it half so easy to-morrow;
you've got to pick the currants for the jell'
to-morrow. Besides, that doesn't make any difference.
To-day's work is to-day's work, and it
hasn't anything to do with to-morrow's. It's no
excuse for idlin' one day, because you do work
the next. You take that patchwork, and sit
right down and sew it as soon as you get there—don't
put it off—and sew it nice, too, or you
can stay at home—just which you like."
Ann Lizy sighed, but reached out her hand for
the bag. "Now be careful and not lose it," said
her grandmother, "and be a good girl."
"Don't run too hard, nor go to climbin' walls,
and get your best dress torn."
"And only one piece of cake at tea-time."
"And start for home at half-past five."
Little Ann Lizy Jennings, as she went down
the walk between the rows of pinks, had a bewildered
feeling that she had been to Jane Baxter's
to tea, and was home again.
Her parents were dead, and she lived with her
Grandmother Jennings, who made her childhood
comfortable and happy, except that at times she
seemed taken off her childish feet by the energy
and strong mind of the old woman, and so swung
a little way through the world in her wake.
But Ann Lizy received no harm by it.
Ann Lizy went down the road with the bead
bag on her arm. She toed out primly, for she
had on her best shoes. A little girl, whom she
knew, stood at the gate in every-day clothes, and
Ann Lizy bowed to her in the way she had seen
the parson's wife bow, when out making calls in
her best black silk and worked lace veil. The
parson's wife was young and pretty, and Ann
Lizy admired her. It was quite a long walk to
Jane Baxter's, but it was a beautiful afternoon,
and the road was pleasant, although there were
not many houses. There were green fields and
flowering bushes at the sides, and, some of the
way, elm-trees arching over it. Ann Lizy would
have been very happy had it not been for the
patchwork. She had already pieced one patchwork
quilt, and her grandmother displayed it to
people with pride, saying, "Ann Lizy pieced that
before she was eight years old."
Ann Lizy had not as much ambition as her
grandmother, now she was engaged upon her
second quilt, and it looked to her like a checked
and besprigged calico mountain. She kept dwelling
upon those four squares, over and over, until
she felt as if each side were as long as the
Green Mountains. She calculated again and
again how little time she would have to play
with Jane—only about an hour, for she must
allow a half-hour for tea. She was not a swift
sewer when she sewed fine and even stitches,
and she knew she could not finish those squares
before four o'clock. One hour!—and she and
Jane wanted to play dolls, and make wreaths
out of oak-leaves, and go down in the lane
after thimbleberries, and in the garden for
gooseberries—there would be no time for anything!
Ann Lizy's delicate little face under the straw
flat grew more and more sulky and distressed,
her forehead wrinkled, and her mouth pouted.
She forgot to swing her muslin delaine skirts
gracefully, and flounced along hitting the dusty
Ann Lizy was about half-way to Jane Baxter's
house, in a lonely part of the road, when she
opened her bead bag and drew out her pocket-handkerchief—her
grandmother had tucked that
in with the patchwork—and wiped her eyes.
When she replaced the handkerchief she put it
under the patchwork, and did not draw up the
bag again, but went on, swinging it violently by
When Ann Lizy reached Jane Baxter's gate
she gave a quick, scared glance at the bag. It
looked very flat and limp. She did not open it,
and she said nothing about it to Jane. They
went out to play in the garden. There were so
many hollyhocks there that it seemed like a real
flower-grove, and the gooseberries were ripe.
Shortly after Ann Lizy entered Jane Baxter's
house a white horse and a chaise passed down
the road in the direction from which she had
just come. There were three persons in the
chaise—a gentleman, lady, and little girl. The
lady wore a green silk pelerine, and a green
bonnet with pink strings, and the gentleman a
blue coat and bell hat. The little girl had pretty
long, light curls, and wore a white dress and
blue sash. She sat on a little footstool down in
front of the seat. They were the parson's wife's
sister, her husband, and her little girl, and had
been to visit at the parsonage. The gentleman
drove the white horse down the road, and the
little girl looked sharply and happily at everything
by the way. All at once she gave a little
cry—"Oh, father, what's that in the road?"
She saw Ann Lizy's patchwork, all four squares
nicely pinned together, lying beside the meadowsweet
bushes. Her father stopped the horse, got
out, and picked up the patchwork.
"Why," said the parson's wife's sister, "some
little girl has lost her patchwork; look, Sally!"
"She'll be sorry, won't she?" said the little
girl, whose name was Sally.
The gentleman got back into the chaise, and
the three rode off with the patchwork. There
seemed to be nothing else to do; there were no
houses near and no people of whom to inquire.
Besides, four squares of calico patchwork were
not especially valuable.
"If we don't find out who lost it, I'll put it
into my quilt," said Sally. She studied the patterns
of the calico very happily, as they rode
along; she thought them prettier than anything
she had. One had pink roses on a green ground,
and she thought that especially charming.
Meantime, while Sally and her father and
mother rode away in the chaise with the patchwork
to Whitefield, ten miles distant, where their
house was, Ann Lizy and Jane played as fast as
they could. It was four o'clock before they went
into the house. Ann Lizy opened her bag, which
she had laid on the parlor table with the Young
Lady's Annuals and Mrs. Hemans's Poems. "I
s'pose I must sew my patchwork," said she, in a
miserable, guilty little voice. Then she exclaimed.
It was strange that, well as she knew there was
no patchwork there, the actual discovery of
nothing at all gave her a shock.
"What's the matter?" asked Jane.
"I've—lost my patchwork," said Ann Lizy.
Jane called her mother, and they condoled
with Ann Lizy. Ann Lizy sat in one of Mrs.
Baxter's rush-bottomed chairs and began to cry.
"Where did you lose it?" Mrs. Baxter asked.
"Don't cry, Ann Lizy, maybe we can find it."
"I s'pose I—lost it comin'," sobbed Ann Lizy.
"Well, I'll tell you what 't is," said Mrs. Baxter;
"you and Jane had better run up the road
a piece, and likely as not you'll find it; and I'll
have tea all ready when you come home. Don't
feel so bad, child, you'll find it, right where you
But Ann Lizy and Jane, searching carefully
along the road, did not find the patchwork where
it had been dropped. "Maybe it's blown away,"
suggested Jane, although there was hardly wind
enough that afternoon to stir a feather. And
the two little girls climbed over the stone-walls
and searched in the fields, but they did not find
the patchwork. Then another mishap befell
Ann Lizy. She tore a three-cornered place in
her best muslin delaine, getting over the wall.
When she saw that she felt as if she were in a
dreadful dream. "Oh, what will grandma say!"
"Maybe she won't scold," said Jane, consolingly.
"Yes, she will. Oh dear!"
The two little girls went dolefully home to tea.
There were hot biscuits and honey and tarts
and short gingerbread and custards, but Ann
Lizy did not feel hungry. Mrs. Baxter tried to
comfort her; she really saw not much to mourn
over, except the rent in the best dress, as four
squares of patchwork could easily be replaced;
she did not see the true inwardness of the case.
At half-past five, Ann Lizy, miserable and tear-stained,
the three-cornered rent in her best dress
pinned up, started for home, and then—her grandmother's
beautiful bead bag was not to be found.
Ann Lizy and Jane both remembered that it had
been carried when they set out to find the patchwork.
Ann Lizy had meditated bringing the
patchwork home in it.
"Aunt Cynthy made that bag for grandma,"
said Ann Lizy, in a tone of dull despair; this
was beyond tears.
"Well, Jane shall go with you, and help find
it," said Mrs. Baxter, "and I'll leave the tea-dishes
and go too. Don't feel so bad, Ann Lizy,
I know I can find it."
But Mrs. Baxter and Jane and Ann Lizy, all
searching, could not find the bead bag. "My
best handkerchief was in it," said Ann Lizy. It
seemed to her as if all her best things were gone.
She and Mrs. Baxter and Jane made a doleful
little group in the road. The frogs were peeping,
and the cows were coming home. Mrs. Baxter
asked the boy who drove the cows if he had seen
a green bead bag, or four squares of patchwork;
he stared and shook his head.
Ann Lizy looked like a wilted meadow reed,
the blue streamers on her hat drooped dejectedly,
her best shoes were all dusty, and the three-cornered
rent was the feature of her best muslin delaine
dress that one saw first. Then her little
delicate face was all tear-stains and downward
curves. She stood there in the road as if she
had not courage to stir.
"Now, Ann Lizy," said Mrs. Baxter, "you'd
better run right home and not worry. I don't
believe your grandma 'll scold you when you
tell her just how 't was."
Ann Lizy shook her head. "Yes, she will."
"Well, she'll be worrying about you if you
ain't home before long, and I guess you'd better
go," said Mrs. Baxter.
Ann Lizy said not another word; she began
to move dejectedly towards home. Jane and
her mother called many kindly words after her,
but she did not heed them. She kept straight
on, walking slowly until she was home. Her
grandmother stood in the doorway watching for
her. She had a blue-yarn stocking in her hands,
and she was knitting fast as she watched.
"Ann Lizy, where have you been, late as this?"
she called out, as Ann Lizy came up the walk.
"It's arter six o'clock."
Ann Lizy continued to drag herself slowly forward,
but she made no reply.
"Why don't you speak?"
Ann Lizy crooked her arm around her face
and began to cry. Her grandmother reached
down, took her by the shoulder, and led her into
the house. "What on airth is the matter, child?"
said she; "have you fell down?"
"What does ail you, then? Ann Lizy Jennings,
how come that great three-cornered tear
in your best dress?"
Ann Lizy sobbed.
"I—tore it gittin' over—the wall."
"What were you gettin' over walls for in your
best dress? I'd like to know what you s'pose
you'll have to wear to meetin' now. Didn't I
tell you not to get over walls in your best dress?
Ann Lizy Jennings, where is my bead bag?"
"Lost my bead bag?"
"How did you lose it, eh?"
"I lost it when—I was lookin' for—my patchwork."
"Did you lose your patchwork?"
"When I was—goin' over to—Jane's."
"Lost it out of the bag?"
Ann Lizy nodded, sobbing.
"Then you went to look for it and lost the
bag. Lost your best pocket-handkerchief, too?"
Old Mrs. Jennings stood looking at Ann Lizy.
"All that patchwork, cut out and basted jest
as nice as could be, your best pocket-handkerchief
and my bead bag lost, and your meetin'
dress tore," said she; "well, you've done about
enough for one day. Take off your things and
go up-stairs to bed. You can't go over to Jane
Baxter's again for one spell, and every mite of
the patchwork that goes into the quilt you've
got to cut by a thread, and baste yourself, and
to-morrow you've got to hunt for that patchwork
and that bag till you find 'em, if it takes
you all day. Go right along."
Ann Lizy took off her hat and climbed meekly
up-stairs and went to bed. She did not say her
prayers; she lay there and wept. It was about
half-past eight, the air coming through the open
window was loud with frogs and katydids and
whippoorwills, and the twilight was very deep,
when Ann Lizy arose and crept down-stairs. She
could barely see her way.
There was a candle lighted in the south room,
and her grandmother sat there knitting. Ann
Lizy, a piteous little figure in her white night-gown,
stood in the door.
"Well, what is it?" her grandmother said, in
a severe voice that had a kindly inflection in it.
"What is it?"
"I lost my patchwork on purpose. I didn't
want—to sew it."
"Lost your patchwork on purpose!"
"Yes—ma'am," sobbed Ann Lizy.
"Let it drop out of the bag on purpose?"
"Well, you did a dreadful wicked thing then.
Go right back to bed."
Ann Lizy went back to bed and to sleep. Remorse
no longer gnawed keenly enough at her
clear, childish conscience to keep her awake, now
her sin was confessed. She said her prayers and
went to sleep. Although the next morning the
reckoning came, the very worst punishment was
over for her. Her grandmother held the judicious
use of the rod to be a part of her duty towards
her beloved little orphan granddaughter,
so she switched Ann Lizy with a little rod of
birch, and sent her forth full of salutary tinglings
to search for the bead bag and the patchwork.
All the next week Ann Lizy searched the fields
and road for the missing articles, when she was
not cutting calico patchwork by a thread and
sewing over and over. It seemed to her that
life was made up of those two occupations, but
at the end of a week the search, so far as the
bead bag was concerned, came to an end.
On Saturday afternoon the parson's wife
called on old Mrs. Jennings. The sweet, gentle
young lady in her black silk dress, her pink
cheeks, and smooth waves of golden hair gleaming
through her worked lace veil entered the
north room, which was the parlor, and sat down
in the rocking-chair. Ann Lizy and her grandmother
sat opposite, and they both noticed at the
same moment that the parson's wife held in her
hand—the bead bag!
Ann Lizy gave a little involuntary "oh;" her
grandmother shook her head fiercely at her, and
the parson's wife noticed nothing. She went on
talking about the pinks out in the yard, in her
lovely low voice.
As soon as she could, old Mrs. Jennings excused
herself and beckoned Ann Lizy to follow
her out of the room. Then, while she was arranging
a square of pound-cake and a little glass
of elderberry wine on a tray, she charged Ann
Lizy to say nothing about the bead bag to the
parson's wife. "Mind you act as if you didn't
see it," said she; "don't sit there lookin' at it
"But it's your bead bag, grandma," said Ann
Lizy, in a bewildered way.
"Don't you say anything," admonished her
grandmother. "Now carry this tray in, and be
careful you don't spill the elderberry wine."
Poor Ann Lizy tried her best not to look at
the bead bag, while the parson's wife ate pound-cake,
sipped the elderberry wine, and conversed
in her sweet, gracious way; but it did seem
finally to her as if it were the bead bag instead
of the parson's wife that was making the call.
She kept wondering if the parson's wife would
not say, "Mrs. Jennings, is this your bead bag?"
but she did not. She made the call and took
leave, and the bead bag was never mentioned.
It was odd, too, that it was not; for the parson's
wife, who had found the bead bag, had taken it
with her on her round of calls that afternoon,
partly to show it and find out, if she could, who
had lost it. But here it was driven out of her
mind by the pound-cake and elderberry wine, or
else she did not think it likely that an old
lady like Mrs. Jennings could have owned the
bag. Younger ladies than she usually carried
them. However it was, she went away with the
"Why didn't she ask if it was yours?" inquired
Ann Lizy, indignant in spite of her admiration
for the parson's wife.
"Hush," said her grandmother. "You mind
you don't say a word out about this, Ann Lizy.
I ain't never carried it, and she didn't suspect."
Now, the bead bag was found after this unsatisfactory
fashion; but Ann Lizy never went
down the road without looking for the patchwork.
She never dreamed how little Sally Putnam,
the minister's wife's niece, was in the mean-time
sewing these four squares over and over,
getting them ready to go into her quilt. It was
a month later before she found it out, and it was
strange that she discovered it at all.
It so happened that, one afternoon in the last
of August, old Mrs. Jennings dressed herself in
her best black bombazine, her best bonnet and
mantilla and mitts, and also dressed Ann Lizy
in her best muslin delaine, exquisitely mended,
and set out to make a call on the parson's wife.
When they arrived they found a chaise and
white horse out in the parsonage yard, and the
parson's wife's sister and family there on a visit.
An old lady, Mrs. White, a friend of Mrs. Jennings,
was also making a call.
Little Ann Lizy and Sally Putnam were introduced
to each other, and Ann Lizy looked admiringly
at Sally's long curls and low-necked
dress, which had gold catches in the sleeves.
They sat and smiled shyly at each other.
"Show Ann Lizy your patchwork, Sally," the
parson's wife said, presently. "Sally has got
almost enough patchwork for a quilt, and she
has brought it over to show me," she added.
Ann Lizy colored to her little slender neck;
patchwork was nowadays a sore subject with her,
but she looked on as Sally, proud and smiling,
displayed her patchwork.
Suddenly she gave a little cry. There was one
of her squares! The calico with roses on a green
ground was in Sally's patchwork.
Her grandmother shook her head energetically
at her, but old Mrs. White had on her spectacles,
and she, too, had spied the square.
"Why, Miss Jennings," she cried, "that's jest
like that dress you had so long ago!"
"Let me see," said Sally's mother, quickly.
"Why, yes; that is the very square you found,
Sally. That is one; there were four of them,
all cut and basted. Why, this little girl didn't
lose them, did she?"
Then it all came out. The parson's wife was
quick-witted, and she thought of the bead bag.
Old Mrs. Jennings was polite, and said it did not
matter; but when she and Ann Lizy went home
they had the bead bag, with the patchwork and
the best pocket-handkerchief in it.
It had been urged that little Sally Putnam
should keep the patchwork, since she had sewed
it, but her mother was not willing.
"No," said she, "this poor little girl lost it,
and Sally mustn't keep it; it wouldn't be
Suddenly Ann Lizy straightened herself. Her
cheeks were blazing red, but her black eyes were
"I lost that patchwork on purpose," said she.
"I didn't want to sew it. Then I lost the bag
while I was lookin' for it."
There was silence for a minute.
"You are a good girl to tell of it," said Sally's
Ann Lizy's grandmother shook her head meaningly
at Mrs. Putnam.
"I don't know about that," said she. "Ownin'-up
takes away some of the sin, but it don't
But when she and Ann Lizy were on their
homeward road she kept glancing down at her
granddaughter's small face. It struck her that
it was not so plump and rosy as it had been.
"I think you've had quite a lesson by this
time about that patchwork," she remarked.
"Yes, ma'am," said Ann Lizy.
They walked a little farther. The golden-rod
and the asters were in blossom now, and the
road was bordered with waving fringes of blue
and gold. They came in sight of Jane Baxter's
"You may stop in Jane Baxter's, if you want
to," said old Mrs. Jennings, "and ask her mother
if she can come over and spend the day with you
to-morrow. And tell her I say she'd better not
bring her sewing, and she'd better not wear her
best dress, for you and she ain't goin' to sew
any, and mebbe you'll like to go berryin', and