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During the next week there was what is termed by Congregationalists a "Conference Meeting," at the town of Hebron, distant fifteen miles from the Old Squire's. Gram and he made it a rule to attend these meetings; and on this occasion they set off on Monday afternoon with old Sol and the light driving wagon, in Sunday attire, and did not return till the following Monday. Wealthy went with them; but the rest of us young folks were left, with many instructions, to keep house and look after things at the farm.
Haying was now over; and the wheat and barley were in; but an acre more of late-sown oats still remained to be harvested, also an acre of buckwheat. There was not a little solicitude felt for this acre of buckwheat. With it were connected visions of future buckwheat cakes and maple sirup. I was assured by Ellen and the others who had come to the farm in advance of me, that the maple molasses and candy "flapjacks," made on pans of hard snow, during the previous spring, had been something to smack one's mouth for.
The Old Squire had bidden Addison, who was practically in charge, to mow the oats on Tuesday, and the buckwheat on Thursday, if the weather continued good. Asa Doane was coming to assist us. The oats were to be turned on Wednesday and drawn in on Friday. The buckwheat would need to lie in the swath till the next week and be turned once or twice, in order to cure properly.
We had also a half acre of weeds to pull, in a part of the potato field which had thus far been hoed but once; and an acre of stubble to clear of stones, preparatory to ploughing. The Old Squire did not believe that abundant leisure is good for boys, left alone under such circumstances.
"If you get the loose stones all off the stubble and have time, you can begin to draw off the stone heaps from the piece which we are going to break up in the south field," he said finally, as he got into the wagon and took the reins to drive away. But he laughed when he said it; and Addison laughed, too; for we thought that he had already laid out a long stint for us. Halstead was grumbling about it to himself. "Wonder if he thinks we can do a whole season's work in a week," he exclaimed, spitefully. "Never saw such a man to lay off work! Wants a week to play in, himself, but expects us to stay at home and dig like slaves!"
"Oh, he doesn't want us to hurt ourselves," said Addison. "He will be satisfied if we manage the grain, the weeds and the stones on the stubble. It really isn't so very much for four of us. We could do it in one half the time, by working smart, and have the rest of the time to play in."
Gram had left corresponding work for the girls, indoors, besides cooking, getting the three daily meals and caring for the dairy.
We set to work that afternoon and pulled the weeds, finishing this task before five o'clock. Ellen had found time to make a brief call on Kate Edwards; and at supper, she informed us that Tom had invited us all to come to his "fort," that evening. "He is going to have a fire there and roast some of his early Pine Knot corn," continued Ellen. "He says he has got a whole basketful of ears, all nice in the milk and ready to roast."
"Where is his 'fort?'" I inquired, for this was the first that I had heard of such a fortification, although the others appeared to know something about it.
"Oh, Tom thinks he has got a great fort over there!" said Halse. "It's no more a fort, like some I've seen, than our sheep pen!"
"Oh, but it is," replied Ellen. "It is a terribly rocky place. Nobody can get into it, if Tom hasn't a mind to let them."
"Pooh!" exclaimed Halse. "One little six pound cannon would knock it all down over his head."
"I don't think so," persisted Ellen.
"What do you know about cannon?" cried Halse.
"Well, I don't know much about them," replied Ellen. "But I do not believe that a small cannon would knock down rocks as big as this house."
This argument increased my curiosity, and Addison now told me something about the so-called fortress. "It is a queer sort of place," said he; "a kind of knoll, with four or five prodigious great rocks around it. I guess we never have been over there since you came, though we passed in sight of it the day we went to dig out the foxes. It is on the line between Mr. Edwards' south field on one side, and the woods of our pasture where those big yellow birches and rock maples are, on the other. Those great rocks lie close together there, on that little knoll, just as if they had been dropped down there like so many big kernels of corn in a hill.
"From what I have read about geology," continued Addison, reflectively, "I think it is likely that some mighty glacier, in long past ages, piled them there. One could imagine that a giant had placed them there, or had dropped them, accidentally out of his big leather apron, as he strode across the continent, in early times."
"Oh, hear him!" cried Halse. "Ad will be out giving lectures on geology next!"
"No," said Addison, laughing, "I don't want to give lectures. I don't know how the rocks got there, but they got there somehow, for there they are. Two of them, as Nell says, are almost as large as a house; and they all stand around, irregularly, enclosing a sort of little space inside them, as large as — how big is it, Doad?"
"Oh, I should think that it was as large as our sitting-room," she replied.
"It is bigger than that," said Ellen. "It is as big as the sitting-room and parlor together."
"Perhaps it is," assented Theodora. "But it isn't like rooms at all; it is an odd place and there are nooks like little side rooms running back between where the sides of the great rocks approach each other. It is a real pleasant place, sort of gigantic and rustic. I don't wonder that Thomas and Kate like to go there."
"None of these big rocks quite touch together," continued Addison, "but Tom has built up between them with stones, all around, except one narrow place which he calls the fort gate. He has built up all the open places, six or seven feet high, so that it is really like a fort: and he has made a stone fireplace against one of the rocks inside, with a little chimney of flat stones running up the side of the rock, so that he can have a fire there without being plagued by the smoke."
"And he's got a woodpile in there," said Ellen, "and seats to sit on, round his fireplace. It is a cozy place, I tell you; the wind doesn't strike you at all in there; and the knoll is quite a good deal higher than the ground about it. You climb up a little path and turn the corner of one big rock, and then go in between that one and another, for fifteen or twenty feet, till you come to the open place inside, where the fireplace is. Tom and Kate gave a little party there last fall. Tom was a number of days building the fireplace and the wall and getting ready. We all went there one evening and Kate and I played there one afternoon, a week after that. But I guess they haven't been there at all this spring and summer. I haven't heard them say anything about it for a long time, till this afternoon. 'Tell the boys and Doad to come over here this evening,' Tom said, as I was coming away. 'I'm going to roast corn down at my fort to-night.'"
"Let's all go over after it gets dark and storm his fort!" exclaimed Halse. "We can take sods and pitch them over the rocks into his fort after he gets in there and is roasting corn!"
"I don't think that would be a very polite way of accepting his invitation," said Theodora.
"That would be contrary to all the laws of war, to storm a neighboring nation's fort, before war was declared!" said Addison, laughing. "That would be a sad piece of international treachery."
"Oh, dear, only hear the big words roll out!" cried Halse. "Ad's a walking dictionary."
"Well, dictionaries are always handy to have about," said Theodora, smoothing away the rudeness of this ill-natured remark. Addison did not mind, however; it was only occasionally that Halse's flings disturbed him.
"Yes, let's all go," said he. "We will get our milking off early and our chores done. Then we will take a lantern and start; for it will be nine o'clock before we get back home, and we shall have to go through the little piece of woods between here and the Aunt Hannah lot."
The girls had prepared a nice supper. Ellen had been making pop-overs, and Theodora had fried a great panful of crispy doughnuts. They cut a sage cheese to go with these; and rather unwisely Ellen made a pot of fresh coffee. It tasted much better than that which we ordinarily had at breakfast; for she roasted the coffee, then ground it smoking hot from the oven, and poured it into the pot before it had time to lose its delicate aroma. They set on a brimming pitcherful of cream to put in it; and we each had two cupfuls, at table, in consequence of which we all felt very bright and jolly throughout the evening. But this was not a wise procedure, from a hygienic point of view; I scarcely slept at all that night.
In the twilight we loaded our pockets with early apples, then went across the fields, through the pasture and over the hill, toward the fort. The great trees in the Aunt Hannah lot pasture favored a covert approach, and we drew near, very quietly, to surprise our friends. It was now dusk, and halting under a great beech, we reconnoitered the rocks on the knoll for some moments. Smoke was rising from out the fort; at least we could smell it; and presently a pale gleam of firelight shone up into the leafy top of a great black cherry tree which stood within the space enclosed by the rocks. But not a word could we hear spoken inside, or about the fort.
"Perhaps Kate hasn't come down from the house yet," Ellen said. "Let's steal up softly till we are at the foot of the knoll; then you boys rush up the path and surprise Tom. Shout 'Surrender, your fort is ours!' as you rush in."
We approached, apparently without being discovered, and then emerging suddenly from under the shadow of the great trees, ran up the path and around the corner of the rock at the gateway with tumultuous cheers!
But we soon found that instead of surprising the fort, we had been beguiled into a trap, ourselves. Kate and Tom had guessed our tactics, in advance, and were watching us all the while. We rushed into the narrow passage, but found our progress arrested there by four or five stout bars; and then bang! went Tom's gun, from the rocks over our heads. He and Kate were both up there in a strong position; and Tom's only response to our shouts was, "Throw down your arms or we will open fire on you with grape and canister!"
"We may as well surrender," said Addison, laughing. "Nell, you proved a very bad general. You've lost your whole army before striking a single blow."
"So I see," replied Ellen. "I'm disgraced and shall be superseded at once."
In 1866 the circumstance of superseding one general by another was still very familiar in the minds of every one, old and young, in the United States.
We were now admitted to the fort. To me, at that time, Tom's fort was a great novelty. I present a photograph of it, as the knoll and rocks now appear; but the walls have mostly fallen down. I believe that the place was stormed once by a party of boys who broke down much of the light stone wall, in imitation of sieges, in ancient warfare. But that evening it was all new to me and made a lasting impression on my boyish fancy. They had a fire burning; and a row of short Pine Knot corn ears stood roasting in front of it. There were two long seats consisting each of a board placed on piles of flat stones with another board for the back, held in its place by short stakes, driven into the ground. The light shone on the great rough sides of the schistose rocks and on the trunks of the cherry tree and two white birch trees inside the enclosed space. It was so much shut in as to seem like a room in a house; yet overhead the stars could be seen shining. Sufficient warmth was radiated from the fire to make us all quite comfortable as we sat around.
Kate had brought down a large ball of butter and half a dozen case-knives. We buttered our corn and feasted on it, then finished off on Early Sweet Bough, Sweet Harvey and August Pippin apples. After every few minutes, Tom would ascend, by stone steps which he had built up, to the top of the largest rock of the group, to see if any "enemies" were about, as he said. It was possible that Alfred Batchelder, or the Murch boys, or Ned Wilbur, might come around and scale the wall.
As we sat by the fire, regaling ourselves, we talked after the manner of the young to whom everything under the sun looks possible of achievement, to whom life looks long enough for every plan that tickles the fancy and to whom as yet the hard experiences of life have administered few rebuffs.
Oh, for that splendid courage of youth again! that joyous confidence that everything can be done! It is the heritage of young hearts. It is given us but once; and it was then ours.
"I would like to command a strong, big fort on the frontier of the country," exclaimed Tom. "The enemy wouldn't surprise me. I would be ready for them. If they attacked me they would get it hot, I tell you!
"I mean to study and try to get an appointment to West Point," he continued, enthusiastically. "Then I may command a fort somewheres. I tell you, West Point is the place to go! Don't you say so, Ad?"
"It is a good place to get a military education," replied Addison. "And a military education is a great thing to have, if there is a war. But there may never be another war, Tom; most of folks hope there will not be; but I shouldn't much wonder if there were another, before many years."
"Oh, I hope not," exclaimed Theodora, fervently. In fact, the Civil War with its sad afflictions was still too fresh in the minds of all in our family to be spoken of without a sense of bereavement.
"But I don't think that I should like a military life altogether," continued Addison. "Promotion is dreadfully slow, unless there's war; and even after you are a general, there is no money in it. I want to go into something that will give me all the money I want; and I want a lot of it."
"I had rather have fame than money," exclaimed Tom. "Nothing makes anybody feel so good, as to know that folks are saying, 'He did a big thing. Nobody else could have done it.'"
"Tom, you want to be a hero," said Theodora.
"Well, I do," replied Tom. "I don't want to be such a hero as there are in novels. But I want to do something that will put me right up in the world."
I remember that I felt much like that myself, but did not quite like to say so outright.
"The trouble is that in common every-day life there do not seem to be many chances to do great things," remarked Addison, thoughtfully. "There are always a few distinguished men, like General Grant, General Sherman and President Lincoln, but only a few. There couldn't be a thousand famous men in a nation at once. We couldn't think of so many, even if they all had done great deeds. We could not even remember the names of so many heroes. So it is pretty plain that only a few, five or six, perhaps, of the millions of boys and girls in the country, can be really famous. All the rest have got to take a lower place and make the best of it. But if a fellow can plan and carry out enterprises to make lots of money, he can do a great deal with it in the world."
"I don't care just for money!" cried Tom again; "I want to do something!"
"Tom, you ought to be an explorer," said Theodora; "a discoverer, like Livingstone, or Sir John Franklin, or Dr. Kane. If you could discover the North Pole, or a new race of people in Africa, you would be famous."
"I should like that," exclaimed Tom. "I should like to make a voyage up north. I can stand any amount of cold; and I never saw the sun so hot yet that I couldn't work, or run a mile, under it. Those folks that get sun-struck must be sort of sick, pindling fellows, I guess."
"Tom, I think that you would make a real go-ahead explorer," said Ellen. "I hope you will stick to it."
"Well, it takes money to fit out exploring expeditions," said Addison. "But there are other discoveries fully as important as those in the far north, or in Africa; discoveries in science bring the best kind of fame, like those of Franklin, Morse, Tyndall, Darwin and Pasteur. There is no end to the discoveries that can be made in science. It is the great field for explorers, I think. Grand new discoveries will be made right along now, and the more there are made the more there will be made; for one scientific discovery always seems to open the way to another."
"Oh, but I don't know anything about science," exclaimed Tom. "I don't believe I ever shall."
"No one does without hard study," replied Addison. "But any one can afford to study if by doing so some splendid new invention can be brought about."
"Dora, what are we girls going to do?" said Kate, laughing. "It makes me feel lonesome to hear the boys talk of the great exploits they mean to perform."
"There doesn't seem to be so much that girls can do," replied Theodora, with a sigh. "Still, I know of one thing I wish to do very much," she continued with a glance at Addison.
"What is it?" said Tom. "What are you going to astonish the world with?"
"Oh, I haven't the courage to talk about it," replied Theodora. "And it looks so hard to me and I shall need to study so long to get prepared, that I sometimes think I never shall do it."
"Well, girls can all make school-mistresses," said Addison.
"Kate is going to make something besides a school-mistress," said Ellen. "Kate means to study chemistry and be a chemist."
"She said last winter that she meant to learn how to telegraph and be a telegraph operator," said Halse, laughing.
"Yes, I did," replied Kate, coldly. "But I have changed my mind. I don't know much about chemistry yet, but I think I like it. I mean to study it and I mean to learn all about drugs, too, and have a pharmacy in some large pleasant town. I'll make as much money as Addison; for I think money is a great thing."
"Shall you have a soda-fountain in your drug store and sell soda with a 'stick' in it?" asked Halse.
"I don't think so," replied Kate. "But if I do, I shall hire somebody like you to tend the 'stick' part of it."
Halse had sat poking fun at all the others, while they talked of their plans, pretending to be on the point of fainting away, when Addison, Tom and Theodora discussed different pursuits in life; and this retort from Kate hit him hard; he was angry. "I would not work for anyone with a tongue like yours," he exclaimed.
"Never mind," replied Kate. "We will not quarrel about that now. It is rather too far ahead. It will take you years and years to get education enough to tend a soda-fountain," she added, mischievously. "Perhaps you know enough already about putting the 'stick' in it, as you call it; I'm rather afraid you do from what I heard your friend Alfred Batchelder say a few days ago. It doesn't sound well for little boys like you to talk about 'sticks' in soda."
Halse usually fared ill when he attempted jokes at Kate's expense. It seemed odd to the rest of us that he did not learn to avoid such efforts; but he never did; he was always worsted, promptly, and always got angry. "Tom, if I had such a sister as you've got, I'd tie a hot potato in her mouth," he exclaimed.
"She is a terrible girl," said Tom, with a wink. "Her tongue is just like a new whalebone whip with a silk snapper on it. Takes the skin right off. But as she is all the sister I've got, I try to put up with her.
"She is a pretty good sister," he added, going across where Kate sat and sitting down beside her. "I don't know what I should do without her."
"Thank you, Tommy dear," said Kate. "I know now that you want me to coax father to let you take 'White-foot' (their colt) to the Fair. Perhaps I will; but it will not amount to anything. You will not get a premium on White-foot, if you take him. He isn't big and handsome enough. You've looked at him till your eyes think he is, but he isn't. I shall not tell father that I think he will take a premium, because I want father to respect my judgment more than that."
"Kate, you don't know anything about colts!" cried Tom. "That's the best colt in this town!"
"O my! O my!" groaned Kate. "Once let a boy begin to dote on a colt, particularly if he calls it his colt, and he can soon see beauty, size, speed, everything else in it, in matchless perfection. It's a kind of disease, a horse-disease that gets into his eye. Tom's got it badly. Please excuse his boasting!
"Here, Tom, pass this nice buttered ear of corn over to Halse, and tell him that I didn't mean to hurt his feelings — quite so badly," she added. "I only meant to hurt them a little."
This was like Kate; she would always talk like that; but she rarely said more than was true and never treasured up ill-feeling, nor wished others to do so.
But Halse would not accept her peace-offering.
"Ah, well," sighed Ellen, "I really am afraid that there is nothing I shall ever be able to do that will bring me either fame or money. I cannot think of a thing that I am good for."
"Oh, yes, there is!" cried Addison. "You have a sure hand on pop-overs, Nell, pop-overs and cookies."
"Right, Ad, I can make pop-overs," replied Ellen, laughing. "Perhaps I can get a living, cooking."
"Well, that is a pretty important thing, I think," remarked Thomas, candidly. "Somebody must know how to cook, and I like to have victuals taste good."
"I do not think those who cook get much credit for their labors," said Kate. "Mother and I are cooking every day and our men folks come in, sit down at table and swallow it all, with never a word of praise when we cook well; but if we make a mistake, and bread, or cake, or pie does not taste quite right, then they will growl and look at us as surly as if we had never cooked well in all our lives. I think that is rather hard usage and poor thanks for long service. Mother does not mind it. 'Oh, that is something you must get used to, Kate,' she says to me. 'Men folks always behave so. We never get much praise for our cooking.' But I do mind it. When I've made a nice batch of tea rolls, or cakes, I want them to know it and to act as if they appreciated it."
"That is just the way it is at our house," said Ellen.
"Yes," remarked Theodora. "The only way our boys ever show that they appreciate our good biscuit, or cake, is by eating about twice as much of it, which of course makes it all the harder for us to cook more. When we get a poor batch of bread it will last twice as long as good; — that's one comfort."
"Why, Doad, I never heard you talk like that before," said Halse, with a look of surprise.
"No more did I," remarked Addison. "Theodora, I am scandalized."
"I know it is horrid," she replied. "But I have thought it, if I never have said it, many and many a time, when I've nearly roasted myself over the hot stove, this summer, and thought I had enough cooked to last two days, at least; and then in would march you three hungry boys, to table, and eat it all up, eat my whole panful of doughnuts and finish off with eight or ten cookies apiece, just because they were good, or a little better than usual. If they had been a little poorer they would have lasted two days, surely."
"Doad, you are getting positively wicked," said Addison. "I don't see what has come over you. You are not yourself."
"She is only telling the cold truth," exclaimed Kate. "Boys all seem to think that victuals grow ready cooked in the house somewheres, and that the more they can eat the better it ought to suit us. Here's Tom, a pretty good sort of boy generally, but he will come into the pantry, after he has been racing about out-of-doors, and commit ravages that it will take me hours of hot, hateful work to repair. Oh, he is a perfect pantry scourge, a doughnut-and-cooky terror! Why, I have had what I knew must be half a big panful of doughnuts, or cookies, enough for supper and breakfast, certainly; and then about three or four o'clock of a hot August afternoon, I would hear Tom's boots clumpering in the pantry, and by the time I would get there, he would be just sneaking out, grinning like a Chessy-cat, with his old mouth full and his pockets bulging out. I will look in my pan and there will not be enough left to put on a plate once! Then I know I have got to build a fire, get on my old floury apron and go at it again, when I've just got cool and comfortable, after my day's work!
"When he does that, I sometimes think I don't know whether I love him well enough to cook for him, or not. For when he is hungry and comes tearing in like that, he will carry off more than he can eat. His eyes want all he sees. He will carry off lots more than he can possibly eat; I've found it, time and again, laid up out in the wood-shed; and once I found eight of my doughnuts hid in a hole in the garden wall. He thought that he could eat the whole panful, but found that he couldn't."
"Oh, that was only laying up a store against days of famine," said Tom, calmly. "Some days the pantry is awfully bare; and Kate, too, has a caper of hiding the victuals. I call that a plaguey mean trick — when a fellow's hungry! I clear the pan when I do find it, to get square with her."
"Well," Addison remarked, "the girls have presented their side of the work pretty strongly; but I rather guess the boys could say something on their side; — how they have to work in the hot sun, all day long, to plough and harrow and sow and plant and hoe the crops, to get the bread stuff to cook into food. The girls want cooked victuals, too, as well as we. The hot, hard work isn't all on one side."
"That's so!" echoed Tom and Halse, fervently.
"I often come in tired, hot and sweaty after a drink of water, in the sweltering summer afternoons, and find our girls in the cool sitting-room, rocking by the windows, looking as comfortable as you please, reading novels," continued Addison.
"That's so!" we boys exclaimed.
"Not that I grudge them their comfort," Addison went on, laughing. "I don't. I like to see them comfortable. Besides girls ought not to work so hard and long as boys; they are not so strong, nor so well able to work in the heat. But I think that a great deal of the hardship that Kate and Doad and Nell complain of, about cooking over the hot stove, is due to a bad method which all the women hereabouts seem to follow. They cook twice every day. Fact, they seem to be cooking all the time. They all do their cooking in stoves, with small ovens that will not hold more than three or four pies, or a couple of loaves of bread at once. By the next day they have to bake again, and so on. In summer, particularly, their faces are red from bending over the hot stove about half the time."
"But what would you do, Addison?" asked Theodora.
"I'll tell you what I would do," replied Addison. "I would do just what I suggested to Gram last spring. The old lady was getting down to peep into the stove oven and hopping up again about every two minutes. She looked tired and her face was as red as a peony. 'Gram,' said I, 'I'll tell you what I'll do, if you want me to. I'll take the oxen and cart and go over to the Aunt Hannah lot, and draw home some brick there are in an old chimney over there; and then we will get a cask of lime and some sand for mortar, and have a mason come half a day and build you a good big brick oven, beside the wash-room chimney. It can be seven or eight feet long by four or five wide, big enough to bake all the pies, bread, pork and beans and most of the meat you want to cook for us, in a week. Then after you have baked, Saturday afternoon, you no need to have much more cooking to do till the next Saturday. All you need do over the stove will be to make coffee and tea, boil eggs and potatoes once in a while and warm up the food.' 'There's an oven that goes with the sitting-room chimney,' said she; 'I used always to bake in it; but somehow I have got out of the way of it, since we began to use stoves.' I couldn't get her to say that she wanted an oven, so I did nothing about it. But I know it would be a great deal easier, after she got the habit of it again."
"But how could you have hot tea-rolls every night and morning, Addison, with an oven like that?" asked Ellen.
"I should not want them, myself," replied Addison. "They nearly always smell so strongly of soda that I do not like them; and I do not think they are wholesome. For my own part I like bread better, or bread made into toast."
"Well, Ad, I think that sounds like a pretty good plan," said Kate. "Mother has an oven, too; but we never use it now, except to smoke bacon in. I think it would save us a great deal of hard work, if we baked in it once a week."
"Hark," said Tom, suddenly.
Far aloft, overhead, a faint "quark-quock" was heard.
"'Tis a flock of wild geese, going over," said Addison. "It's early in the season for them to be on their way to the south."
"Gram says that's a sign of an early winter," said Ellen.
We sat listening to the occasional quiet note of the flock gander for some moments till they passed out of hearing toward the lake. Addison then lighted our lantern; and after accompanying Tom and Kate a part of the way to the Edwards place, across the fields, we bade them good night and made our own way home.
Neighbor Wilbur had called at the door, during the evening, and left our mail on the doorstep. There was a letter for me from my mother, and also a circular from some swindling fellow in "Gotham," informing me most positively that for the sum of one dollar, a powder would be forwarded to me by mail, which, when dissolved and applied to my upper lip, would produce a moustache in the course of three or four weeks. I laid it away, thinking that I was perhaps not quite old enough for so ambitious an effort, but that it might be of importance to me, later.
We went to "Tom's fort" again on Wednesday evening; and I remember that one of the stones in the fireplace exploded that night. It burst in several pieces with a sharp report like that of a pistol. One of these hit Halse, scorching his wrist somewhat. At first we thought that someone had mischievously put powder in the fireplace; but after examining the pieces of stone carefully, Addison decided that it had burst from some unequal expansion of its substance, or of moisture in it, due to the heat.
That night, too, those long-delayed ambrotypes came home from artist Lockett. Lockett sent them up to us by Mr. Edwards, who had driven to the village that day.
In the sitting-room, that evening, after returning from the "fort," we examined them with great interest, each anxious to see what the result had been to us, personally. Halstead, I recollect, was wofully disappointed in his. Truth to say, the picture was far from good; and it is supposed that he destroyed it, later, in a fit of pique, for it mysteriously disappeared.
Indeed, the history of that day's little crop of ambrotypes is rather tragic. The Old Squire's and Gram's, alas, were lost in the farmhouse fire (1883). Addison's and Theodora's shared the same fate. Ellen lent hers to her first sweetheart, a college student named Cobb, at Colby University. He was unfortunately drowned a few months later; and for some cause the ambrotype was not returned. Little Wealthy's alone has survived the vicissitudes of time.
The pictures in this book are mainly from photographs taken subsequently.