THE ADVENTURES OF ANN
STORIES OF COLONIAL TIMES
Mary E. Wilkins
FROM ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS AND
D. LOTHROP AND COMPANY
FRANKLIN AND HAWLEY STREETS
D. Lothrop & Company.
STORIES OF COLONIAL TIMES
The Bound Girl
This Indenture Wittnesseth, That I Margaret Burjust of Boston,
in the County of Suffolk and Province of the Massachusetts Bay in
New England. Have placed, and by these presents do place and bind
out my only Daughter whose name is Ann Ginnins to be an Apprentice
unto Samuel Wales and his wife of Braintree in the County
afores:d, Blacksmith. To them and their
Heirs and with them the s:d Samuel Wales,
his wife and their Heirs, after the manner of an apprentice to
dwell and Serve from the day of the date hereof for and during the
full and Just Term of Sixteen years, three months and twenty-three
day's next ensueing and fully to be Compleat, during all which term
the s:d apprentice her
s:d Master and Mistress faithfully Shall
Serve, Their Secrets keep close, and Lawful and reasonable Command
everywhere gladly do and perform.
Damage to her s:d Master and Mistress
she shall not willingly do. Her s:d
Master's goods she shall not waste, Embezel, purloin or lend unto
Others nor suffer the same to be wasted or purloined. But to her
power Shall discover the Same to her s:d
Master. Taverns or Ailhouss she Shall not frequent, at any unlawful
game She Shall not play, Matrimony she Shall not Contract with any
persons during s:d Term. From her
master's Service She Shall not at any time unlawfully absent
herself. But in all things as a good honest and faithful Servant
and apprentice Shall bear and behave herself, During the full term
afores:d Commencing from the third day of
November Anno Dom: One Thousand, Seven Hundred fifty and three. And
the s:d Master for himself, wife, and
Heir's, Doth Covenant Promise Grant and Agree unto and with the
s:d apprentice and the
s:d Margaret Burjust, in manner and form
following. That is to say, That they will teach the
s:d apprentice or Cause her to be taught
in the Art of good housewifery, and also to read and write well.
And will find and provide for and give unto
s:d apprentice good and sufficient Meat
Drink washing and lodging both in Sickness and in health, and at
the Expiration of S:d term to Dismiss
s:d apprentice with two Good Suits of
Apparrel both of woolen and linnin for all parts of her body (viz)
One for Lord-days and one for working days Suitable to her Quality.
In Testimony whereof I Samuel Wales and Margaret Burjust Have
Interchangably Sett their hands and Seals this Third day November
Anno Dom: 1753, and in the twenty Seventh year of the Reign of our
Soveraig'n Lord George the Second of great Britain the King.
Signed Sealed & Delivered.
In presence of
This quaint document was carefully locked up, with some old
deeds and other valuable papers, in his desk, by the
“s:d Samuel Wales,” one
hundred and thirty years ago. The desk was a rude, unpainted pine
affair, and it reared itself on its four stilt-like legs in a
corner of his kitchen, in his house in the South Precinct of
Braintree. The sharp eyes of the little
“s:d apprentice” had noted it
oftener and more enviously than any other article of furniture in
the house. On the night of her arrival, after her journey of
fourteen miles from Boston, over a rough bridle-road, on a jolting
horse, clinging tremblingly to her new “Master,” she
peered through her little red fingers at the desk swallowing up
those precious papers which Samuel Wales drew from his pocket with
an important air. She was hardly five years old, but she was an
acute child; and she watched her master draw forth the papers, show
them to his wife, Polly, and lock them up in the desk, with the
full understanding that they had something to do with her coming to
this strange place; and, already, a shadowy purpose began to form
itself in her mind.
She sat on a cunning little wooden stool, close to the
fireplace, and kept her small chapped hands persistently over her
face; she was scared, and grieved, and, withal, a trifle sulky.
Mrs. Polly Wales cooked some Indian meal mush for supper in an iron
pot swinging from its trammel over the blazing logs, and cast
scrutinizing glances at the little stranger. She had welcomed her
kindly, taken off her outer garments, and established her on the
little stool in the warmest corner, but the child had given a very
ungracious response. She would not answer a word to Mrs. Wales'
coaxing questions, but twitched herself away with all her small
might, and kept her hands tightly over her eyes, only peering
between her fingers when she thought no one was noticing.
She had behaved after the same fashion all the way from Boston,
as Mr. Wales told his wife in a whisper. The two were a little
dismayed, at the whole appearance of the small apprentice; to tell
the truth, she was not in the least what they had expected. They
had been revolving this scheme of taking “a bound girl”
for some time in their minds; and, Samuel Wales' gossip in Boston,
Sam Vaughan, had been requested to keep a lookout for a suitable
So, when word came that one had been found, Mr. Wales had
started at once for the city. When he saw the child, he was
dismayed. He had expected to see a girl of ten; this one was hardly
five, and she had anything but the demure and decorous air which
his Puritan mind esteemed becoming and appropriate in a little
maiden. Her hair was black and curled tightly, instead of being
brown and straight parted in the middle, and combed smoothly over
her ears as his taste regulated; her eyes were black and flashing,
instead of being blue, and downcast. The minute he saw the child,
he felt a disapproval of her rise in his heart, and also something
akin to terror. He dreaded to take this odd-looking child home to
his wife Polly; he foresaw contention and mischief in their quiet
household. But he felt as if his word was rather pledged to his
gossip, and there was the mother, waiting and expectant. She was a
red-cheeked English girl, who had been in Sam Vaughan's employ; she
had recently married one Burjust, and he was unwilling to support
the first husband's child, so this chance to bind her out and
secure a good home for her had been eagerly caught at.
The small Ann seemed rather at Samuel Wales' mercy, and he had
not the courage to disappoint his friend or her mother; so the
necessary papers were made out, Sam Vaughan's and wife's signatures
affixed, and Margaret Burjust's mark, and he set out on his
homeward journey with the child.
The mother was coarse and illiterate, but she had some natural
affection; she “took on” sadly when the little girl was
about to leave her, and Ann clung to her frantically. It was a
pitiful scene, and Samuel Wales, who was a very tender-hearted man,
was glad when it was over, and he jogging along the
But he had had other troubles to encounter. All at once, as he
rode through Boston streets, with his little charge behind him,
after leaving his friend's house, he felt a vicious little twitch
at his hair, which he wore in a queue tied with a black ribbon
after the fashion of the period. Twitch, twitch, twitch! The water
came into Samuel Wales' eyes, and the blood to his cheeks, while
the passers-by began to hoot and laugh. His horse became alarmed at
the hubbub, and started up. For a few minutes the poor man could do
nothing to free himself. It was wonderful what strength the little
creature had; she clinched her tiny fingers in the braid, and
pulled, and pulled. Then, all at once, her grasp slackened, and off
flew her master's steeple-crowned hat into the dust, and the neat
black ribbon on the end of the queue followed it. Samuel Wales
reined up his horse with a jerk then, and turned round, and
administered a sounding box on each of his apprentice's ears. Then
he dismounted, amid shouts of laughter from the spectators, and got
a man to hold the horse while he went back and picked up his hat
He had no further trouble. The boxes seemed to have subdued Ann
effectually. But he pondered uneasily all the way home on the small
vessel of wrath which was perched up behind him, and there was a
tingling sensation at the roots of his queue. He wondered what
Polly would say. The first glance at her face, when he lifted Ann
off the horse at his own door, confirmed his fears. She expressed
her mind, in a womanly way, by whispering in his ear at the first
opportunity, “She's as black as an Injun.”
After Ann had eaten her supper, and had been tucked away between
some tow sheets and homespun blankets in a trundle-bed, she heard
the whole story, and lifted up her hands with horror. Then the good
couple read a chapter, and prayed, solemnly vowing to do their duty
by this child which they had taken under their roof, and imploring
As time wore on, it became evident that they stood in sore need
of it. They had never had any children of their own, and Ann
Ginnins was the first child who had ever lived with them. But she
seemed to have the freaks of a dozen or more in herself, and they
bade fair to have the experience of bringing up a whole troop with
this one. They tried faithfully to do their duty by her, but they
were not used to children, and she was a very hard child to manage.
A whole legion of mischievous spirits seemed to dwell in her at
times, and she became in a small and comparatively innocent way,
the scandal of the staid Puritan neighborhood in which she lived.
Yet, withal, she was so affectionate, and seemed to be actuated by
so little real malice in any of her pranks, that people could not
help having a sort of liking for the child, in spite of them.
She was quick to learn, and smart to work, too, when she chose.
Sometimes she flew about with such alacrity that it seemed as if
her little limbs were hung on wires, and no little girl in the
neighborhood could do her daily tasks in the time she could, and
they were no inconsiderable tasks, either.
Very soon after her arrival she was set to “winding
quills,” so many every day. Seated at Mrs. Polly's side, in
her little homespun gown, winding quills through sunny
forenoons—how she hated it! She liked feeding the hens and
pigs better, and when she got promoted to driving the cows, a
couple of years later, she was in her element. There were charming
possibilities of nuts and checkerberries and sassafras and sweet
flag all the way between the house and the pasture, and the chance
to loiter, and have a romp.
She rarely showed any unwillingness to go for the cows; but
once, when there was a quilting at her mistress's house, she
demurred. It was right in the midst of the festivities; they were
just preparing for supper, in fact. Ann knew all about the good
things in the pantry, she was wild with delight at the unwonted
stir, and anxious not to lose a minute of it. She thought some one
else might go for the cows that night. She cried and sulked, but
there was no help for it. Go she had to. So she tucked up her
gown—it was her best Sunday one—took her stick, and
trudged along. When she came to the pasture, there were her
master's cows waiting at the bars. So were Neighbor Belcher's cows
also, in the adjoining pasture. Ann had her hand on the topmost of
her own bars, when she happened to glance over at Neighbor
Belcher's, and a thought struck her. She burst into a peal of
laughter, and took a step towards the other bars. Then she went
back to her own. Finally, she let down the Belcher bars, and the
Belcher cows crowded out, to the great astonishment of the Wales
cows, who stared over their high rails and mooed uneasily.
Ann drove the Belcher cows home and ushered them into Samuel
Wales' barnyard with speed. Then she went demurely into the house.
The table looked beautiful. Ann was beginning to quake inwardly,
though she still was hugging herself, so to speak, in secret
enjoyment of her own mischief. She had one hope—that supper
would be eaten before her master milked. But the hope was vain.
When she saw Mr. Wales come in, glance her way, and then call his
wife out, she knew at once what had happened, and begun to
tremble—she knew perfectly what Mr. Wales was saying out
there. It was this: “That little limb has driven home all
Neighbor Belcher's cows instead of ours; what's going to be done
She knew what the answer would be, too. Mrs. Polly was a
Back Ann had to go with the Belcher cows, fasten them safely in
their pasture again, and drive her master's home. She was hustled
off to bed, then, without any of that beautiful supper. But she had
just crept into her bed in the small unfinished room up stairs
where she slept, and was lying there sobbing, when she heard a
slow, fumbling step on the stairs. Then the door opened, and Mrs.
Deacon Thomas Wales, Samuel Wales' mother, came in. She was a good
old lady, and had always taken a great fancy to her son's bound
girl; and Ann, on her part, minded her better than any one else.
She hid her face in the tow sheet, when she saw grandma. The old
lady had on a long black silk apron. She held something concealed
under it, when she came in. Presently she displayed it.
“There—child,” said she, “here's a piece
of sweet cake and a couple of simballs, that I managed to save out
for you. Jest set right up and eat 'em, and don't ever be so
dretful naughty again, or I don't know what will become of
This reproof, tempered with sweetness, had a salutary effect on
Ann. She sat up, and ate her sweet cake and simballs, and sobbed
out her contrition to grandma, and there was a marked improvement
in her conduct for some days.
Mrs. Polly was a born driver. She worked hard herself, and she
expected everybody about her to. The tasks which Ann had set her
did not seem as much out of proportion, then, as they would now.
Still, her mistress, even then, allowed her less time for play than
was usual, though it was all done in good faith, and not from any
intentional severity. As time went on, she grew really quite fond
of the child, and she was honestly desirous of doing her whole duty
by her. If she had had a daughter of her own, it is doubtful if her
treatment of her would have been much different.
Still, Ann was too young to understand all this, and, sometimes,
though she was strong and healthy, and not naturally averse to
work, she would rebel, when her mistress set her stints so long,
and kept her at work when other children were playing.
Once in a while she would confide in grandma, when Mrs. Polly
sent her over there on an errand and she had felt unusually
aggrieved because she had had to wind quills, or hetchel, instead
of going berrying, or some like pleasant amusement.
“Poor little cosset,” grandma would say, pityingly.
Then she would give her a simball, and tell her she must “be
a good girl, and not mind if she couldn't play jest like the
others, for she'd got to airn her own livin', when she grew up, and
she must learn to work.”
Ann would go away comforted, but grandma would be privately
indignant. She was, as is apt to be the case, rather critical with
her sons' wives, and she thought “Sam'l's kept that poor
little gal too stiddy at work,” and wished and wished she
could shelter her under her own grandmotherly wing, and feed her
with simballs to her heart's content. She was too wise to say
anything to influence the child against her mistress, however. She
was always cautious about that, even while pitying her. Once in a
while she would speak her mind to her son, but he was easy
enough—Ann would not have found him a hard task-master.
Still, Ann did not have to work hard enough to hurt her. The
worst consequences were that such a rigid rein on such a frisky
little colt perhaps had more to do with her “cutting
up,” as her mistress phrased it, than she dreamed of.
Moreover the thought of the indentures, securely locked up in Mr.
Wales' tall wooden desk, was forever in Ann's mind. Half by dint of
questioning various people, half by her own natural logic she had
settled it within herself, that at any time the possession of these
papers would set her free, and she could go back to her own mother,
whom she dimly remembered as being loud-voiced, but merry, and very
indulgent. However, Ann never meditated in earnest, taking the
indentures; indeed, the desk was always locked—it held other
documents more valuable than hers—and Samuel Wales carried
the key in his waistcoat-pocket.
She went to a dame's school, three months every year. Samuel
Wales carted half a cord of wood to pay for her schooling, and she
learned to write and read in the New England Primer.
Next to her, on the split log bench, sat a little girl named Hannah
French. The two became fast friends. Hannah was an only child,
pretty and delicate, and very much petted by her parents. No long
hard tasks were set those soft little fingers, even in those old
days when children worked as well as their elders. Ann admired and
loved Hannah, because she had what she, herself, had not; and
Hannah loved and pitied Ann because she had not what she had. It
was a sweet little friendship, and would not have been, if Ann had
not been free from envy and Hannah humble and pitying.
When Ann told her what a long stint she had to do before school,
Hannah would shed sympathizing tears.
Ann, after a solemn promise of secrecy, told her about the
indentures one day. Hannah listened with round, serious eyes; her
brown hair was combed smoothly down over her ears. She was a
veritable little Puritan damsel herself.
“If I could only get the papers, I wouldn't have to mind
her, and work so hard,” said Ann.
Hannah's eyes grew rounder. “Why, it would be sinful to
take them!” said she.
Ann's cheeks blazed under her wondering gaze, and she said no
When she was about eleven years old, one icy January day, Hannah
wanted her to go out and play on the ice after school. They had no
skates, but it was rare fun to slide. Ann went home and asked Mrs.
Polly's permission with a beating heart; she promised to do a
double stint next day, if she would let her go. But her mistress
was inexorable—work before play, she said, always; and Ann
must not forget that she was to be brought up to work; it was
different with her from what it was with Hannah French. Even this
she meant kindly enough, but Ann saw Hannah go away, and sat down
to her spinning with more fierce defiance in her heart than had
ever been there before. She had been unusually good, too, lately.
She always was, during the three months' schooling, with sober,
gentle little Hannah French.
She had been spinning sulkily a while, and it was almost dark,
when a messenger came for her master and mistress to go to Deacon
Thomas Wales', who had been suddenly taken very ill.
Ann would have felt sorry if she had not been so angry. Deacon
Wales was almost as much of a favorite of hers as his wife. As it
was, the principal thing she thought of, after Mr. Wales and his
wife had gone, was that the key was in the desk. However
it had happened, there it was. She hesitated a moment. She was all
alone in the kitchen, and her heart was in a tumult of anger, but
she had learned her lessons from the Bible and the New
England Primer and she was afraid of the sin. But,
at last, she opened the desk, found the indentures, and hid them in
the little pocket which she wore tied about her waist, under her
Then she threw her blanket over her head, and got her poppet out
of the chest. The poppet was a little doll manufactured from a
corn-cob, dressed in an indigo-colored gown. Grandma had made it
for her, and it was her chief treasure. She clasped it tight to her
bosom and ran across lots to Hannah French's.
Hannah saw her coming, and met her at the door.
“I've brought you my poppet,” whispered Ann, all
breathless, “and you must keep her always, and not let her
work too hard. I'm going away!”
Hannah's eyes looked like two solemn moons. “Where are you
“I'm going to Boston to find my own mother.” She
said nothing about the indentures to Hannah—somehow she could
Hannah could not say much, she was so astonished, but as soon as
Ann had gone, scudding across the fields, she went in with the
poppet and told her mother.
Deacon Thomas Wales was very sick. Mr. and Mrs. Samuel remained
at his house all night, but Ann was not left alone, for Mr. Wales
had an apprentice who slept in the house.
Ann did not sleep any that night. She got up very early, before
any one was stirring, and dressed herself in her Sunday clothes.
Then she tied up her working clothes in a bundle, crept softly down
stairs, and out doors.
It was bright moonlight and quite cold. She ran along as fast as
she could on the Boston road. Deacon Thomas Wales' house was on the
way. The windows were lit up. She thought of grandma and poor
grandpa, with a sob in her heart, but she sped along. Past the
schoolhouse, and meeting-house, too, she had to go, with big qualms
of grief and remorse. But she kept on. She was a fast
She had reached the North Precinct of Braintree by daylight. So
far, she had not encountered a single person. Now, she heard
horse's hoofs behind her. She began to run faster, but it was of no
use. Soon Captain Abraham French loomed up on his big gray horse, a
few paces from her. He was Hannah's father, but he was a
tithing-man, and looked quite stern, and Ann had always stood in
great fear of him.
She ran on as fast as her little heels could fly, with a
thumping heart. But it was not long before she felt herself seized
by a strong arm and swung up behind Captain French on the gray
horse. She was in a panic of terror, and would have cried and
begged for mercy if she had not been in so much awe of her captor.
She thought with awful apprehension of these stolen indentures in
her little pocket. What if he should find that out!
Captain French whipped up his horse, however, and hastened along
without saying a word. His silence, if anything, caused more dread
in Ann than words would have. But his mind was occupied. Deacon
Thomas Wales was dead; he was one of his most beloved and honored
friends, and it was a great shock to him. Hannah had told him about
Ann's premeditated escape, and he had set out on her track, as soon
as he had found that she was really gone, that morning. But the
news, which he had heard on his way, had driven all thoughts of
reprimand which he might have entertained, out of his head. He only
cared to get the child safely back.
So, not a word spoke Captain French, but rode on in grim and
sorrowful silence, with Ann clinging to him, till he reached her
master's door. Then he set her down with a stern and solemn
injunction never to transgress again, and rode away.
Ann went into the kitchen with a quaking heart. It was empty and
still. Its very emptiness and stillness seemed to reproach her.
There stood the desk—she ran across to it, pulled the
indentures from her pocket, put them in their old place, and shut
the lid down. There they staid till the full and just time of her
servitude had expired. She never disturbed them again.
On account of the grief and confusion incident on Deacon Wales'
death, she escaped with very little censure. She never made an
attempt to run away again. Indeed she had no wish to, for after
Deacon Wales' death, grandma was lonely and wanted her, and she
lived, most of the time, with her. And, whether she was in reality,
treated any more kindly or not, she was certainly happier.
Deacon Thomas Wales' Will
In the Name of God Amen! the Thirteenth Day of September One
Thousand Seven Hundred Fifty & eight, I, Thomas Wales of
Braintree, in the County of Suffolk & Province of the
Massachusetts Bay in New England, Gent—being in good health
of Body and of Sound Disproving mind and Memory, Thanks be given to
God—Calling to mind my mortality, Do therefore in my health
make and ordain this my Last Will and Testament. And First I
Recommend my Soul into the hand of God who gave it—Hoping
through grace to obtain Salvation thro' the merits and Mediation of
Jesus Christ my only Lord and Dear Redeemer, and my body to be
Decently interd, at the Discretion of my
Executer, believing at the General Resurection to receive the Same
again by the mighty Power of God—And such worldly estate as
God in his goodness hath graciously given me after Debts, funeral
Expenses &c, are Paid I give & Dispose of the Same as
Imprimis—I Give to my beloved Wife Sarah a good
Sute of mourning apparrel Such as she may Choose—also if she
acquit my estate of Dower and third-therin (as we have agreed) Then
that my Executer return all of Household movables she bought at our
marriage & since that are remaining, also to Pay to her or Her
Heirs That Note of Forty Pound I gave to her, when she acquited my
estate and I hers. Before Division to be made as herin exprest,
also the Southwest fire-Room in my House, a right in my Cellar,
Halfe the Garden, also the Privilege of water at the well &
yard room and to bake in the oven what she hath need of to improve
her Life-time by her.
After this, followed a division of his property amongst his
children, five sons, and two daughters. The “Homeplace”
was given to his sons Ephraim and Atherton. Ephraim had a good
house of his own, so he took his share of the property in land, and
Atherton went to live in the old homestead. His quarters had been
poor enough; he had not been so successful as his brothers, and had
been unable to live as well. It had been a great cross to his wife,
Dorcas, who was very high spirited. She had compared, bitterly, the
poverty of her household arrangements, with the abundant comfort of
Now, she seized eagerly at the opportunity of improving her
style of living. The old Wales house was quite a pretentious
edifice for those times. All the drawback to her delight was, that
Grandma should have the southwest fire-room. She wanted to set up
her high-posted bedstead, with its enormous feather-bed in that,
and have it for her fore-room. Properly, it was the fore room,
being right across the entry from the family sitting room. There
was a tall chest of drawers that would fit in so nicely between the
windows, too. Take it altogether, she was chagrined at having to
give up the southwest room; but there was no help for
it—there it was in Deacon Wales' will.
Mrs. Dorcas was the youngest of all the sons' wives, as her
husband was the latest born. She was quite a girl to some of them.
Grandma had never more than half approved of her. Dorcas was
high-strung and flighty, she said. She had her doubts about living
happily with her. But Atherton was anxious for this division of the
property, and he was her youngest darling, so she gave in. She felt
lonely, and out of her element, when everything was arranged, she
established in the southwest fire-room, and Atherton's family
keeping house in the others, though things started pleasantly and
It occurred to her that her son Samuel might have her own
“help,” a stout woman, who had worked in her kitchen
for many years, and she take in exchange his little bound girl, Ann
Ginnins. She had always taken a great fancy to the child. There was
a large closet out of the southwest room, where she could sleep,
and she could be made very useful, taking steps, and running
“arrants” for her.
Mr. Samuel and his wife hesitated a little, when this plan was
proposed. In spite of the trouble she gave them, they were attached
to Ann, and did not like to part with her, and Mrs. Polly was just
getting her “larnt” her own ways, as she put it.
Privately, she feared Grandma would undo all the good she had done,
in teaching Ann to be smart and capable. Finally they gave in, with
the understanding that it was not to be considered necessarily a
permanent arrangement, and Ann went to live with the old lady.
Mrs. Dorcas did not relish this any more than she did the
appropriation of the southwest fire-room. She had never liked Ann
very well. Besides she had two little girls of her own, and she
fancied Ann rivaled them in Grandma's affection. So, soon after the
girl was established in the house, she began to show out
in various little ways.
Thirsey, her youngest child, was a mere baby, a round fat
dumpling of a thing. She was sweet, and good-natured, and the pet
of the whole family. Ann was very fond of playing with her, and
tending her, and Mrs. Dorcas began to take advantage of it. The
minute Ann was at liberty she was called upon to take care of
Thirsey. The constant carrying about such a heavy child soon began
to make her shoulders stoop and ache. Then Grandma took up the
cudgels. She was smart and high-spirited, but she was a very
peaceable old lady on her own account, and fully resolved “to
put up with everything from Dorcas, rather than have strife in the
family.” She was not going to see this helpless little girl
imposed on, however. “The little gal ain't goin' to get bent
all over, tendin' that heavy baby, Dorcas,” she proclaimed.
“You can jist make up your mind to it. She didn't come here
to do sech work.”
So Dorcas had to make up her mind to it.
Ann's principal duties were scouring “the brasses”
in Grandma's room, taking steps for her, and spinning her stint
every day. Grandma set smaller stints than Mrs. Polly. As time went
on, she helped about the cooking. She and Grandma cooked their own
victuals, and ate from a little separate table in the common
kitchen. It was a very large room, and might have accommodated
several families, if they could have agreed. There was a big oven,
and a roomy fire-place. Good Deacon Wales had probably seen no
reason at all why his “beloved wife,” should not have
her right therein with the greatest peace and concord.
But it soon came to pass that Mrs. Dorcas' pots and kettles were
all prepared to hang on the trammels when Grandma's were, and an
army of cakes and pies marshalled to go in the oven when Grandma
had proposed to do some baking. Grandma bore it patiently for a
long time; but Ann was with difficulty restrained from freeing her
small mind, and her black eyes snapped more dangerously, at every
One morning, Grandma had two loaves of “riz bread,”
and some election cakes, rising, and was intending to bake them in
about an hour, when they should be sufficiently light. What should
Mrs. Dorcas do, but mix up sour milk bread, and some pies with the
greatest speed, and fill up the oven, before Grandma's cookery was
Grandma sent Ann out into the kitchen to put the loaves in the
oven and lo and behold! the oven was full. Ann stood staring for a
minute, with a loaf of election cake in her hands; that and the
bread would be ruined if they were not baked immediately, as they
were raised enough. Mrs. Dorcas had taken Thirsey and stepped out
somewhere, and there was no one in the kitchen. Ann set the
election cake back on the table. Then, with the aid of the tongs,
she reached into the brick oven and took out every one of Mrs.
Dorcas' pies and loaves. Then she arranged them deliberately in a
pitiful semicircle on the hearth, and put Grandma's cookery in the
She went back to the southwest room then, and sat quietly down
to her spinning. Grandma asked if she had put the things in, and
she said “Yes, ma'am,” meekly. There was a bright red
spot on each of her dark cheeks.
When Mrs. Dorcas entered the kitchen, carrying Thirsey wrapped
up in an old homespun blanket, she nearly dropped as her gaze fell
on the fire-place and the hearth. There sat her bread and pies, in
the most lamentable half-baked, sticky, doughy condition
imaginable. She opened the oven, and peered in. There were
Grandma's loaves, all a lovely brown. Out they came, with a twitch.
Luckily, they were done. Her own went in, but they were
Of course, quite a commotion came from this. Dorcas raised her
shrill voice pretty high, and Grandma, though she had been innocent
of the whole transaction, was so blamed that she gave Dorcas a
piece of her mind at last. Ann surveyed the nice brown loaves, and
listened to the talk in secret satisfaction; but she had to suffer
for it afterward. Grandma punished her for the first time, and she
discovered that that kind old hand was pretty firm and strong.
“No matter what you think or whether you air in the rights
on't, or not, a little gal mustn't ever sass her elders,”
But if Ann's interference was blamable, it was productive of one
good result—the matter came to Mr. Atherton's ears, and he
had a stern sense of justice when roused, and a great veneration
for his mother. His father's will should be carried out to the
letter, he declared; and it was. Grandma baked and boiled in peace,
outwardly, at least, after that.
Ann was a great comfort to her; she was outgrowing her wild,
mischievous ways, and she was so bright and quick. She promised to
be pretty, too. Grandma compared her favorably with her own
grandchildren, especially, Mrs. Dorcas' eldest daughter Martha, who
was nearly Ann's age. “Marthy's a pretty little gal
enough,” she used to say, “but she ain't got the
snap to her that Ann has, though I wouldn't tell
Atherton's wife so, for the world.”
She promised Ann her gold beads, when she should be done with
them, under strict injunctions not to say anything about it till
the time came; for the others might feel hard as she wasn't her own
flesh and blood. The gold beads were Ann's ideals of beauty, and
richness, though she did not like to hear Grandma talk about being
“done with them.” Grandma always wore them around her
fair, plump old neck; she had never seen her without her string of
As before said, Ann was now very seldom mischievous enough to
make herself serious trouble; but, once in a while, her natural
propensities would crop out. When they did, Mrs. Dorcas was
exceedingly bitter. Indeed, her dislike of Ann was, at all times,
smouldering, and needed only a slight fanning to break out.
One stormy winter day, Mrs. Dorcas had been working till dark,
making candle-wicks. When she came to get tea, she tied the white
fleecy rolls together, a great bundle of them, and hung them up in
the cellar-way, over the stairs, to be out of the way. They were
extra fine wicks, being made of flax for the company candles.
“I've got a good job done,” said Mrs. Dorcas, surveying
them complacently. Her husband had gone to Boston, and was not
coming home till the next day, so she had had a nice chance to work
at them, without as much interruption as usual.
Ann, going down the cellar-stairs, with a lighted candle, after
some butter for tea, spied the beautiful rolls swinging overhead.
What possessed her to, she could not herself have told—she
certainly had no wish to injure Mrs. Dorcas' wicks—but she
pinched up a little end of the fluffy flax and touched her candle
to it. She thought she would see how that little bit would burn
off. She soon found out. The flame caught, and ran like lightning
through the whole bundle. There was a great puff of fire and smoke,
and poor Mrs. Dorcas' fine candle-wicks were gone. Ann screamed,
and sprang downstairs. She barely escaped the whole blaze coming in
“What's that!” shrieked Mrs. Dorcas, rushing to the
cellar-door. Words can not describe her feeling when she saw that
her nice candle-wicks, the fruit of her day's toil, were burnt
If ever there was a wretched culprit that night, Ann was. She
had not meant to do wrong, but that, maybe, made it worse for her
in one way. She had not even gratified malice to sustain her.
Grandma blamed her, almost as severely as Mrs. Dorcas. She said she
didn't know what would “become of a little gal, that was so
keerless,” and decreed that she must stay at home from school
and work on candle-wicks till Mrs. Dorcas' loss was made good to
her. Ann listened ruefully. She was scared and sorry, but that did
not seem to help matters any. She did not want any supper, and she
went to bed early and cried herself to sleep.
Somewhere about midnight, a strange sound woke her up. She
called out to Grandma in alarm. The same sound had awakened her.
“Get up, an' light a candle, child,” said she;
“I'm afeard the baby's sick.”
Ann scarcely had the candle lighted, before the door opened, and
Mrs. Dorcas appeared in her nightdress—she was very pale, and
trembling all over. “Oh!” she gasped, “it's the
baby. Thirsey's got the croup, an' Atherton's away, and there ain't
anybody to go for the doctor. O what shall I do, what shall I
do!” She fairly wrung her hands.
“Hev you tried the skunk's oil,” asked
Grandma eagerly, preparing to get up.
“Yes, I have, I have! It's a good hour since she woke up,
an' I've tried everything. It hasn't done any good. I thought I
wouldn't call you, if I could help it, but she's worse—only
hear her! An' Atherton's away! Oh! what shall I do, what shall I
“Don't take on so, Dorcas,” said Grandma,
tremulously, but cheeringly. “I'll come right along,
an'—why, child, what air you goin' to do?”
Ann had finished dressing herself, and now she was pinning a
heavy homespun blanket over her head, as if she were preparing to
go out doors.
“I'm going after the doctor for Thirsey,” said Ann,
her black eyes flashing with determination.
“Oh, will you, will you!” cried Mrs. Dorcas,
catching at this new help.
“Hush, Dorcas,” said Grandma, sternly. “It's
an awful storm out—jist hear the wind blow! It ain't fit fur
her to go. Her life's jist as precious as Thirsey's.”
Ann said nothing more, but she went into her own little room
with the same determined look in her eyes. There was a door leading
from this room into the kitchen. Ann slipped through it hastily,
lit a lantern which was hanging beside the kitchen chimney, and was
outdoors in a minute.
The storm was one of sharp, driving sleet, which struck her face
like so many needles. The first blast, as she stepped outside the
door, seemed to almost force her back, but her heart did not fail
her. The snow was not so very deep, but it was hard walking. There
was no pretense of a path. The doctor lived half a mile away, and
there was not a house in the whole distance, save the Meeting House
and schoolhouse. It was very dark. Lucky it was that she had taken
the lantern; she could not have found her way without it.
On kept the little slender, erect figure, with the fierce
determination in its heart, through the snow and sleet, holding the
blanket close over its head, and swinging the feeble lantern
When she reached the doctor's house, he was gone. He had started
for the North Precinct early in the evening, his good wife said; he
was called down to Captain Isaac Lovejoy's, the house next the
North Precinct Meeting House. She'd been sitting up waiting for
him, it was such an awful storm, and such a lonely road. She was
worried, but she didn't think he'd start for home that night; she
guessed he'd stay at Captain Lovejoy's till morning.
The doctor's wife, holding her door open, as best she could, in
the violent wind, had hardly given this information to the little
snow-bedraggled object standing out there in the inky darkness,
through which the lantern made a faint circle of light, before she
“She went like a speerit,” said the good woman,
staring out into the blackness in amazement. She never dreamed of
such a thing as Ann's going to the North Precinct after the doctor,
but that was what the daring girl had determined to do. She had
listened to the doctor's wife in dismay, but with never one doubt
as to her own course of proceeding.
Straight along the road to the North Precinct she kept. It would
have been an awful journey that night for a strong man. It seemed
incredible that a little girl could have the strength or courage to
accomplish it. There were four miles to traverse in a black,
howling storm, over a pathless road, through forests, with hardly a
house by the way.
When she reached Captain Isaac Lovejoy's house, next to the
Meeting House in the North Precinct of Braintree, stumbling blindly
into the warm, lighted kitchen, the captain and the doctor could
hardly believe their senses. She told the doctor about Thirsey;
then she almost fainted from cold and exhaustion.
Good wife Lovejoy laid her on the settee, and brewed her some
hot herb tea. She almost forgot her own sick little girl, for a few
minutes, in trying to restore this brave child who had come from
the South Precinct in this dreadful storm to save little Thirsey
When Ann came to herself a little, her first question was, if
the doctor were ready to go.
“He's gone,” said Mrs. Lovejoy, cheeringly.
Ann felt disappointed. She had thought she was going back with
him. But that would have been impossible. She could not have stood
the journey for the second time that night, even on horseback
behind the doctor, as she had planned.
She drank a second bowlful of herb tea, and went to bed with a
hot stone at her feet, and a great many blankets and coverlids over
The next morning, Captain Lovejoy carried her home. He had a
rough wood sled, and she rode on that, on an old quilt; it was
easier than horseback, and she was pretty lame and tired.
Mrs. Dorcas saw her coming and opened the door. When Ann came up
on the stoop, she just threw her arms around her and kissed
“You needn't make the candle-wicks,” said she.
“It's no matter about them at all. Thirsey's better this
morning, an' I guess you saved her life.”
Grandma was fairly bursting with pride and delight in her little
gal's brave feat, now that she saw her safe. She untied the gold
beads on her neck, and fastened them around Ann's.
“There,” said she, “you may wear them to school
to-day, if you'll be keerful.”
That day, with the gold beads by way of celebration, began a new
era in Ann's life. There was no more secret animosity between her
and Mrs. Dorcas. The doctor had come that night in the very nick of
time. Thirsey was almost dying. Her mother was fully convinced that
Ann had saved her life, and she never forgot it. She was a woman of
strong feelings, who never did things by halves, and she not only
treated Ann with kindness, but she seemed to smother her grudge
against Grandma for robbing her of the southwest fire-room.
The Adopted Daughter
The Inventory of the Estate of Samuel Wales Late of Braintree,
Taken by the Subscribers, March the 14th, 1761.
His Purse in Cash . . . . . . . . £11-15-01
His apparrel . . . . . . . . . .10-11-00
His watch . . . . . . . . . . 2-13-04
The Best Bed with two Coverlids, three sheets,
two underbeds, two Bolsters, two pillows,
Bedstead rope . . . . . . . £ 6
One mill Blanket, two Phlanel sheets, 12 toe
Sheets . . . . . . . . . £ 3- 4- 8
Eleven Towels & table Cloth . . . . . . 0-15- 0
a pair of mittens & pr. of Gloves . . . . . 0- 2- 0
a neck Handkerchief & neckband . . . . . 0- 4- 0
an ovel Tabel—Two other Tabels . . . . . 1-12- 0
A Chist with Draws . . . . . . . . 2- 8- 0
Another Low Chist with Draws & three other
Chists . . . . . . . . . . 1-10- 0
Six best Chears and a great chear . . . . . 1- 6- 0
a warming pan—Two Brass Kittles . . . . . 1- 5- 0
a Small Looking Glass, five Pewter Basons . . . 0- 7- 8
fifteen other Chears . . . . . . . . 0-15- 0
fire arms, Sword & bayonet . . . . . . 1- 4- 0
Six Porringers, four platters, Two Pewter Pots £ 1- 0- 4
auger Chisel, Gimlet, a Bible & other Books . . 0-15- 0
A chese press, great spinning-wheel, & spindle . 0- 9- 4
a smith's anvil . . . . . . . . . 3-12- 0
the Pillion . . . . . . . . . . 0- 8- 0
a Bleu Jacket . . . . . . . . . . 0- 0- 3
The foregoing is only a small portion of the original inventory
of Samuel Wales' 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
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 every thing 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
neck-band and mittens, handled over, and their worth in shillings
and pence calculated. She had a price fixed on them already in
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' old blue jacket from its peg behind the shed-door, ran with
it up stairs and hid it in her own room behind the bed.
“There,” said she, “Mrs. Wales sha'n't cry over
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' 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 begun to be
“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
“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
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
Mr. White set down the milk pail, took the blue jacket which she
handed him, and scrutinized it sharply, by the light of the
“I guess we didn't see it,” said he,
“I will put it down—it's worth about three pence, I
“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 home.
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' 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' disposition, or she was growing,
naturally, less sharp and dictatorial. Anyway, 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 to you.”
Nabby stared wonderingly; and Ann, as she obeyed, felt awed.
There was something unusual in her mistress's tone.
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 to.
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
It was along in spring time 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 Indian.
“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
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
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
“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
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
Anyway, 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
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
“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 found.”
“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.
“O 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 them.”
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
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
“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
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 cow.
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
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.
The “Horse House” Deed
Know all Men By These Presents, that I Seth Towner of Braintree,
in the County of Suffolk & Province of the Massachusetts Bay in
New England, Gent. In Consideration that I may promote &
encourage the worship of God, I have given liberty to Ephriam, and
Atherton Wales, & Th'o:s Penniman of
Stoughton who attend Publick worship with us to erect a Stable or
Horse House, on my Land near the Meeting House, in the South
Precinct in Braintree afores:d, to serve
their Horses, while attending the service of God—and to the
intent that the s:d Ephriam, Atherton
& Thomas, their Heirs or assignes shall and may hereafter So
long as they or any of them incline or Desire to keep up &
maintain a Horse House for the afores:d
use and Purpose; have s:d Land whereon
s:d House Stands without mollestation: I
the said Seth Towner for my Selfe, my Heirs, exec. and admin.: Do
hereby Covenant promise bind & oblige my selfe & them to
warrant & Defend the afores:d
Privilege of Land. To the s:d Ephriam
Wales, Atherton Wales, & Tho:s
Penniman their Heirs or assignes So long as they or any of them
keep a Horse House their, for the
afores:d use: they keeping
s:d House in Such repair at all times, as
that I the s:d Seth Towner, my Heirs or
assignes, may not receive Damage by any Creature Coming through
s:d House into my Land adjoining. In
Witness Whereof, I the s:d Seth Towner
have hereunto set my Hand & Seal the first Day of November One
Thous. and Seven Hundred Sixty & four: in the fifth year of his
Majesty's Reign George the third King etc.
Signed Sealed and Del:d
presence of Seth Towner, Daniel Linfield,
Ann's two uncles by adoption, and Thomas Penniman of Stoughton,
were well pleased to get this permission to erect a stable, or
Horse-House, as they put it then, to shelter their horses during
divine worship. The want of one had long been a sore inconvenience
to them. The few stables already erected around the meeting-house,
could not accommodate half of the horses congregated there on a
Puritan Sabbath, and every barn, for a quarter of a mile about, was
put into requisition on severe days. After the women had dismounted
from their pillions at the meeting-house door, the men-folks
patiently rode the horses to some place of shelter, and then
trudged back through the snow-drifts, wrestling with the icy
So this new “Horse-House” was a great benefit to the
Waleses, and to the Pennimans, who lived three miles from them over
the Stoughton line. They were all constant meeting-folks. Hard
indeed was the storm which could keep a Wales or a Penniman away
Mrs. Polly Wales' horses were accommodated in this new stable
also. In the winter time, there were two of them; one which she and
Ann rode, Ann using the pillion, and one for Nabby Porter. Phineas
Adams always walked. Often the sturdy young blacksmith was at the
meeting-house, before the women, and waiting to take their
One Sunday, the winter after the Horse-House was built, Mrs.
Polly, Ann, Phineas, and Nabby went to meeting as usual. It was a
very cold, bleak day; the wind blew in through the slight wooden
walls of the old meeting-house, and the snow lay in little heaps
here and there. There was no stove in the building, as every one
knows. Some of the women had hot bricks and little foot-stoves, and
that was all. Ann did not care for either. She sat up straight in
the comfortless, high-backed pew. Her cheeks were as red as her
crimson cloak, her black eyes shone like stars. She let Mrs. Polly
and Nabby have the hot stones, but her own agile little feet were
as warm as toast. Little Hannah French, over across the
meeting-house, looked chilled and blue, but somehow Ann never
seemed to be affected much by the cold.
The Wales pew was close to a window on the south side; the side
where the new stable was. Indeed Ann could see it, if she looked
out. She sat next the window because the other women minded the
Right across the aisle from Mrs. Polly's pew was Thomas
Penniman's. He was there with his wife, and six stalwart sons. The
two youngest, Levi and John, were crowded out of the pew proper,
and sat in the one directly back.
John sat at the end. He was a tall, handsome young fellow, two
or three years older than Ann. He was well spoken of amongst his
acquaintances for two reasons. First, on account of his own brave,
steady character; and second, on account of his owning one of the
finest horses anywhere about. A good horse was, if anything, a more
important piece of property then than now. This one was a beautiful
bay. They called him “Red Robin.”
To-day, Red Robin was carefully blanketed and fastened in the
new stable. John thought when he tied him there how thankful he was
he had such a good shelter this bitter day. He felt grateful to
Lieutenant Seth Turner, who owned all the land hereabouts and had
given the liberty to build it.
The people all sat quietly listening to the long sermon. Two
hours long it was. When the minister perched up in his beetling
pulpit with the sounding-board over his head, was about half
through his discourse, Ann Wales happened to glance out of the
window at her side. She rarely did such a thing in meeting-time;
indeed she had been better instructed. How she happened to to-day,
she could not have told, but she did.
It was well she did. Just at that moment, a man in a gray cloak
sprang into the Horse-House, and began untying John Penniman's Red
Ann gave one glance; then she never hesitated. There was no time
to send whispers along the pew; to tell Phineas Adams to give the
Out of the pew darted Ann, like a red robin herself, her read
cloak flying back, crowding nimbly past the others, across the
aisle to John Penniman.
“Somebody's stealing Red Robin, John,” said she in a
clear whisper. They heard it for several pews around. Up sprang the
pewful of staunch Pennimans, father and sons, and made for the door
in a great rush after John, who was out before the whisper had much
more than left Ann's lips.
The alarm spread; other men went too. The minister paused, and
the women waited. Finally the men returned, all but a few who were
detailed to watch the horses through the remainder of the services,
and the meeting proceeded.
Phineas sent the whisper along the pew, that John had got out in
time to save Red Robin; but the robber had escaped. Somehow, he had
taken alarm before John got there. Red Robin was standing in the
stable untied; but the robber had disappeared.
After meeting the people all came and questioned Ann. “He
was a very tall man, in a gray cloak,” said she. “He
turned his face, or I saw it, just for one second, when I looked.
He had black eyes and a dark curling beard.”
It seemed very extraordinary. If it had not been for Red Robin's
being untied, they would almost have doubted if Ann had seen
rightly. The thief had disappeared so suddenly and utterly, it
almost seemed impossible that he could have been there at all.
There was much talk over it after meeting. “Are you
sure you saw him, Ann?” Mrs. Polly asked.
“Yes; I am sure,” Ann would reply. She
began to feel rather uncomfortable over it. She feared people would
think she had been napping and dreaming although Red Robin
That night the family were all in bed at nine o'clock, as usual;
but Ann up in her snug feather-bed in her little western chamber,
could not sleep. She kept thinking about the horse-thief, and grew
more and more nervous. Finally she thought of some fine linen cloth
she and Mrs. Polly had left out in the snowy field south of the
house to bleach, and she worried about that. A web of linen cloth
and a horse were very dissimilar booty; but a thief was a thief.
Suppose anything should happen to the linen they had worked so hard
At last, she could not endure it any longer. Up she got, put on
her clothes hurriedly, crept softly down stairs and out doors.
There was a full moon and it was almost as light as day. The snow
looked like a vast sheet of silver stretching far away over the
Ann was hastening along the path between two high snowbanks when
all of a sudden she stopped, and gave a choked kind of a scream. No
one with nerves could have helped it. Right in the path before her
stood the horse-thief, gray cloak and all.
Ann turned, after her scream and first wild stare, and ran. But
the man caught her before she had taken three steps. “Don't
scream,” he said in a terrible, anxious whisper. “Don't
make a noise, for God's sake! They're after me! Can't you hide
“No,” said Ann, white and trembling all over but on
her mettle, “I won't. You are a sinful man, and you ought to
be punished. I won't do a thing to help you!”
The man's face bending over her was ghastly in the moonlight. He
went on pleading. “If you will hide me somewhere about your
place, they will not find me,” said he, still in that sharp
agonized whisper. “They are after me—can't you hear
Ann could, listening, hear distant voices on the night air.
“I was just going to hide in your barn,” said the
thief, “when I met you. O let me in there, now! don't betray
Great tears were rolling down his bearded cheeks. Ann began to
waver. “They might look in the barn,” said she
The man followed up his advantages. “Then hide me in the
house,” said he. “I have a daughter at home, about your
age. She's waiting for me, and it's long she'll wait, and sad news
she'll get at the end of the waiting, if you don't help me. She
hasn't any mother, she's a little tender thing—it'll kill
her!” He groaned as he said it.
The voices came nearer. Ann hesitated no longer.
“Come,” said she, “quick!”
Then she fled into the house, the man following. Inside, she
bolted the door, and made her unwelcome guest take off his boots in
the kitchen, and follow her softly up stairs with them in his
Ann's terror, leading him up, almost overwhelmed her. What if
anybody should wake! Nabby slept near the head of the stairs.
Luckily, she was a little deaf, and Ann counted on that.
She conducted the man across a little entry into a back,
unfurnished chamber, where, among other things, were stored some
chests of grain. The moon shone directly in the window of the
attic-chamber, so it was light enough to distinguish objects quite
Ann tiptoed softly from one grain-chest to another. There were
three of them. Two were quite full; the third was nearly empty.
“Get in here,” said Ann. “Don't make any
He climbed in obediently, and Ann closed the lid. The chest was
a rickety old affair and full of cracks—there was no danger
but he would have air enough. She heard the voices out in the yard,
as she shut the lid. Back she crept softly into her own room,
undressed and got into bed. She could hear the men out in the yard
quite plainly. “We've lost him again,” she heard one of
Presently Phineas Adams opened a window, and shouted out, to
know what was the matter.
“Seen anything of the horse-thief?” queried a voice
from the yard.
“No!” said Phineas. “I have been asleep these
three hours. You just waked me up.”
“He was hiding under the meeting-house,” said the
voice, “must have slipped in there this morning, when we
missed him. We went down there and watched to-night, and almost
caught him. But he disappeared a little below here, and we've lost
him again. It's my opinion he's an evil spirit in disguise. He ran
like the wind, in amongst the trees, where we couldn't follow with
the horses. Are you sure he did not skulk in here somewhere? Sim
White thinks he did.”
“I knew I saw him turn the corner of the lane,”
chimed in another voice, “and we've scoured the
“I think we'd better search the barn, anyhow,” some
one else said, and a good many murmured assent.
“Wait a minute, I'll be down,” said Phineas,
shutting his window.
How long poor Ann lay there shaking, she never knew. It seemed
hours. She heard Phineas go down stairs, and unlock the door. She
heard them tramp into the barn. “O, if I had hidden him
there!” she thought.
After a while, she heard them out in the yard again. “He
could not have gotten into the house, in any way,”
she heard one man remark speculatively. How she waited for the
response. It came in Phineas Adams' slow, sensible tones:
“How could he? Didn't you hear me unbolt the door when I came
out? The doors are all fastened, I saw to it myself.”
“Well, of course he didn't,” agreed the voice.
At last, Phineas came in, and Ann heard them go. She was so
thankful. However, the future perplexities, which lay before her,
were enough to keep her awake for the rest of the night. In the
morning, a new anxiety beset her. The poor thief must have some
breakfast. She could easily have smuggled some dry bread up to him;
but she did want him to have some of the hot Indian mush, which the
family had. Ann, impulsive in this as everything, now that she had
made up her mind to protect a thief, wanted to do it handsomely.
She did want him to have some of that hot mush; but how could she
The family at the breakfast table discussed the matter of the
horse-thief pretty thoroughly. It was a hard ordeal for poor Ann,
who could not take easily to deception. She had unexpected trouble
too with Nabby. Nabby had waked up the preceding
“I didn't see anything,” proclaimed Nabby;
“but I heerd a noise. I think there's mice out in the
grain-chist in the back chamber.”
“I must go up there and look,” said Mrs. Polly.
“They did considerable mischief, last year.”
Ann turned pale; what if she should take it into her head to
look that day!
She watched her chance very narrowly for the hot mush; and after
breakfast she caught a minute, when Phineas had gone to work, and
Mrs. Polly was in the pantry, and Nabby down cellar. She had barely
time to fill a bowl with mush, and scud.
How lightly she stepped over that back chamber floor, and how
gingerly she opened the grain-chest lid. The thief looked piteously
out at her from his bed of Indian corn. He was a handsome man,
somewhere between forty and fifty. Indeed he came of a very good
family in a town not so very far away. Horse-thiefs numbered some
very respectable personages in their clan in those days
They carried on a whispered conversation while he ate. It was
arranged that Ann was to assist him off that night.
What a day poor Ann had, listening and watching in constant
terror every moment, for fear something would betray her. Beside,
her conscience troubled her sadly; she was far from being sure that
she was doing right in hiding a thief from justice. But the poor
man's tears, and the mention of his daughter, had turned the scale
with her; she could not give him up.
Her greatest fear was lest Mrs. Polly should take a notion to
search for mice in the grain-chests. She so hoped Nabby would not
broach the subject again. But there was a peculiarity about
Nabby—she had an exceedingly bitter hatred of rats and mice.
Still there was no danger of her investigating the grain-chests on
her own account, for she was very much afraid. She would not have
lifted one of those lids, with the chance of a rat or mouse being
under it, for the world. If ever a mouse was seen in the kitchen
Nabby took immediate refuge on the settle or the table and left
some one else to do the fighting.
So Nabby, being so constituted, could not be easy on the subject
this time. All day long she heard rats and mice in the
grain-chests; she stopped and listened with her broom, and she
stopped and listened with her mop.
Ann went to look, indeed that was the way she smuggled the
thief's dinner to him, but her report of nothing the matter with
the grain did not satisfy Nabby. She had more confidence in Mrs.
Polly. But Mrs. Polly did not offer to investigate herself until
after supper. They had been very busy that day, washing, and now
there was churning to do. Ann sat at the churn, Mrs. Polly was
cutting up apples for pies; and Nabby was washing dishes, when the
rats and mice smote her deaf ears again.
“I knew I heerd 'em then,” she said; “I don't
believe but what them grain-chists is full of 'em.”
“I am going to look,” quoth Mrs. Polly then, in a
tone of decision, and straightway she rose and got a candle.
Ann's heart beat terribly. “O, I wouldn't go up there
to-night,” said she.
“Yes; I am going. I'm going to satisfy Nabby about the
rats in the grain-chest, if I can.”
She was out the door, at the foot of the stairs, Nabby behind
her, dishcloth and plate in hand, peering fearfully over her
shoulder. Ann was in despair. Only one chance of averting the
discovery suggested itself to her. She tipped over the
churn. “O, oh!” she screamed. Back rushed Mrs.
Polly and Nabby, and that ended the rat-hunt for that night. The
waste of all that beautiful cream was all Mrs. Polly could think
of—prudent housewife that she was.
So in the night, when the moon was up, and the others were sound
asleep, Ann assisted her thief safely out of the grain-chest and
out of the house. “But, first,” said Ann Wales, pausing
bravely, with her hand on the grain-chest lid, speaking in a solemn
whisper, “before I let you out, you must make me a
“What?” came back feebly.
“That you will never, never, steal a horse again. If you
don't promise, I will give you up, now.”
“I promise I won't,” said the man, readily.
Let us hope he never did. That, speeding out into the clear
winter night, he did bear with him a better determination in his
heart. At all events, there were no more attempts made to rob the
new Horse-House at the Braintree meeting-house. Many a Sunday after
that, Red Robin stood there peaceful and unmolested. Occasionally,
as the years went by, he was tied, of a Sunday night, in Mrs. Polly
For, by and by, his master, good brave young John Penniman,
married Ann Wales. The handsomest couple that ever went into the
meeting-house, people said. Ann's linen-chest was well stocked; and
she had an immense silk bonnet, with a worked white veil, a velvet
cloak, and a flowered damask petticoat for her wedding attire. Even
Hannah French had nothing finer when she was married to Phineas
Adams a year later.
All the drawback to the happiness was that John had taken some
land up in Vermont, and there the young couple went, shortly after
the wedding. It was a great cross to Mrs. Polly; but she bore it
bravely. Not a tear sparkled in her black eyes, watching the pair
start off down the bridle-path, riding Red Robin, Ann on a pillion
behind her husband. But, sitting down beside her lonely hearth when
she entered the house, she cried bitterly. “I did hope I
could keep Ann with me as long as I lived,” she sobbed.
“Don't you take on,” said Nabby, consolingly.
“You take my word for't, they'll be back 'afore
Nabby proved a true prophet. Red Robin did come trotting back
from the Vermont wilds, bearing his master and mistress before
long. Various considerations induced them to return; and Mrs. Polly
was overjoyed. They came to live with her.
Riding through the wilderness to Vermont on their wedding
journey, Ann had confessed to her husband how she had secreted the
thief who had tried to steal his Red Robin. She had been afraid to
tell; but he had turned on the saddle, and smiled down in her face.
“I am content that the man is safe,” said John
Penniman. “Prithee, why should I wish him evil, whilst I am
riding along with thee, on Red Robin, Ann?”