A Little Girl of Long Ago; Or, Hannah AnnAmanda M. Douglas / History & Fiction
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A LITTLE GIRL OF LONG AGO
OR HANNAH ANN
A SEQUEL TO A LITTLE GIRL IN OLD NEW YORK
By AMANDA M. DOUGLAS
A. L. BURT COMPANYPUBLISHERS NEW YORK
COPYRIGHT, 1897, BYDODD, MEAD & COMPANY
_All rights reserved_
TO EDNA ESTELLE CORNER.
THE LITTLE GIRLS OF LONG AGO ARE GROWING OLD WITH THE CENTURY, BUT GIRLHOOD BLOSSOMS AFRESH WITH SPRING AND REMAINS FOREVER A JOY.
A. M. D. NEWARK, 1897.
II. AN INTERVIEW WITH A TIGER
III. CHANCES AND CHANGES
IV. A WEDDING
V. WINTER HAPPENINGS
VI. THE LAND OF OPHIR
VII. THROUGH THE EYES OF YOUTH
VIII. GOING VISITING
IX. ANNABEL LEE
X. WITH A POET
XI. THE KING OF TERRORS
XIII. OUT-OF-THE-WAY CORNERS
XIV. AMONG GREAT THINGS
XV. THE BEGINNINGS OF ROMANCE
XVI. COUNTING UP THE COST
XVII. A GLAD SURPRISE
XVIII. THE LITTLE GIRL GROWN UP
XIX. THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE
XX. MISS NAN UNDERHILL
XXI. THE OLD, OLD STORY, EVER NEW
New Year's came in with a ringing of bells and firing of pistols. Fouryears more, and the world would reach the half-century mark. That seemedvery ancient to the little girl in Old New York. They talked about it atthe breakfast-table.
Do you suppose any one could live to see nineteen hundred? asked thelittle girl, with wondering eyes.
Father Underhill laughed.
Count up and see how old you would be, Hanny, he replied.
Why, I should be--sixty-five.
Not as old as either grandmother, said John.
If the world doesn't come to an end, suggested Hanny, cautiously. Sheremembered the fright she had when she was afraid it would come to anend.
It isn't half developed, interposed Benny Frank. And we haven't halfdiscovered it. What do we know about the heart of Africa or theinterior of China--
The great Chinese wall will shut us out of that, interrupted thelittle girl. But it can't go all around China, for the missionaries getin, and some Chinese get out, like the two little girls.
There is some outside to China, laughed Benny Frank. And India is awonderful country. There is all of Siberia, too, and British America,and, beyond the Rocky Mountains, a great country belonging to us that weknow very little about. I believe the world is going to stand longenough for us to learn all about it. Some day I hope to go around a goodbit and see for myself.
Some people, began Mrs. Underhill, reason that, as it was twothousand years from the Creation to the Deluge, and two thousand yearsmore to the birth of Christ, that the next two thousand will see the endof the world.
They are beginning to think the world more than four or five thousandyears old, said Benny Frank. He had quite a taste for science.
It'll last my time out, I guess, and there was a shrewd twinkle inFather Underhill's eye. And I think there'll be a big piece left forHanny.
The little girl of eleven mused over it. She had a great many things tothink about, and her mother suggested presently that there were somethings to do. Margaret went upstairs to straighten the parlor andarrange a table in the end of the back room for callers. Hanny foundplenty of work, but her small brain kept in a curious confusion, as ifit was running back and forth from the past to the future. Events werehappening so rapidly. And the whole world seemed changed since herbrother Stephen's little boy had been born on Christmas morning.
It was curious, too, to grow older, and to understand books and lessonsso much better, to feel interested in daily events. There was a newrevolution in Mexico; there was a talk of war. But everything went onhappily at home. New York was stretching out like a big boy, showingrents and patches in his attire, but up-town he was getting into a newsuit, and people exclaimed about the extravagance.
As for Stephen's baby, there wasn't any word in Webster's Dictionary todo him justice. He grew fat and fair, his nose became shapely, hisdimple was deeper, his chin double, and his pretty hands began to graspat everything. Stephen said the only drawback was that his hair would bered. Hanny felt curiously teased about it. She couldn't be sure that itwas quite a subject for prayer; but she took great comfort in two linesof the old hymn--
Prayer is the soul's sincere desire, Uttered or unexpressed,
and she hoped God would listen to the sincere desire of her heart.
Early in February the children were all excitement about Mr. Bradbury'sconcert. The Dean children were among the chorus singers, and CharlesReed had a prominent part. Would his mother let him go?--the childrenall wondered.
Mr. Reed can manage it, said Josie Dean, confidently. Wives have tomind their husbands about boys, because the men know best, and the boysare to grow up into men.
Hanny's interest was divided by Margaret being made ready for theValentine ball. Everybody was to go in a fancy dress. Dr. Hoffman choseMargaret's, which was to be a lady of 1790. Miss Cynthia came and lookedover the old green-and-white brocade that had descended from Miss Lois.It had a low square neck, and a bodice with deep points back and front,laced with a silver cord. The front breadth, petticoat, as it wascalled, was white satin, creamy now with age, embroidered with pink andyellow roses and mossy green leaves. The brocade fell away in a longtrain, and at the joining was a cascade of fine old lace called Mechlin.The elbow-sleeves were edged with it, and at the neck, the lace had afine wire run through it at the back that made it stand up, while infront, it fell to a pretty point, and was clasped with a brooch. It hadbeen made for Miss Lois' wedding outfit when she was a happy young girl,dreaming over a joyous future that had never come to pass.
But Margaret's hair they all thought the crowning glory. Miss Cynthiawas very fond of adorning people for parties, and so deft that she wasin frequent demand. She had brought a great high comb of beautiful,clear shell that had belonged to her mother. There was a loose twistmade like the figure eight at the back, and in front, rows of daintypuffs and ends of curls, that dropped down on her white forehead.
The brooch, too, was curious. It was a portrait painted on ivory of theMarquis de Lafayette, and set round with beautiful pearls, one of MissCynthia's precious belongings also.
When Margaret looked at herself in her mother's tall glass, she was somystified that she felt for a moment as if she was Miss Lois come back.For when the gown fitted her, she must have been tall and slim andyoung.
Hanny had begged to ask in all the girls, and was delighted to haveDaisy Jasper and her mother.
But when Dr. Hoffman came in Continental costume, with buffsmall-clothes and black velvet coat, great buckles of brilliants at hisknees and lace ruffles at his wrists and shirt front, and his hairpowdered, they all exclaimed. He carried his three-cornered hat underhis arm as he bowed to the ladies.
John Underhill declared laughingly that he felt honoured by being thefootman to such a grand couple, as he helped them into the carriage.
Why don't people dress as beautifully now? said Daisy Jasper, with asigh. Everything looks so plain.
Then the elders began to talk of past fashions. Miss Cynthia said hermother's wedding gown was made with a full straight skirt six yardsaround, and had one little hoop at the hips to hold it out. When MissCynthia's elder sisters were grown, she cut it up and made them each afrock, with skirts two and a quarter yards wide, short full waists, andpuffed sleeves. Big poke bonnets were worn with great bunches of flowersinside, and an immense bow at the top, where the strings were reallytied. If you wanted to be very coquettish, you had the bow rather on oneside. The skirts barely reached the ankles, and black satin slipperswere to be worn on fine occasions; white or sometimes pale colours toparties.
And now we have come back to wide full skirts, said Miss Cynthia.We're putting stiffening in to hold them out. And there's talk ofhoops.
Another odd custom was coming into vogue. It was considered much moregenteel to say dress. Frock had a sort of common country sound,because the farmers wore tow frocks at their work. The little girl hadbeen laughed at for saying it, and she was trying very hard to alwayscall the garment a dress. Gown was considered rather reprehensible, asit savoured of old ladies' bed-gowns. Now we have gone back to frocksand gowns.
The Continental fashions were extremely picturesque, said Mrs. Jasper.And the men were strong and earnest, and equal to the emergencies ofthe day, if they did indulge in adornments considered rather femininenow. But I like the variety. The newly-arrived emigrants in theirnative garb interest me.
There are some around in Houston Street, laughed Ben. Dutch girlswith flaxen hair and little caps, and those queer waists with shoulderstraps, and thick woollen stockings. Some of them wear wooden shoes. AndIrish women with great plaid cloaks and little shawls tied over theirheads, short skirts and nailed shoes that clatter on the sidewalk.
I should like to see them, said Daisy.
Joe ought to take you out on St. Patrick's day, returned Ben. Butthey soon reach the dead level of uniformity.
Fancy an Indian in coat and trousers instead of blanket, war-paint, andfeathers, and Jim laughed at the idea.
I think we shall hardly be able to reduce him to modern costumes. Hedoes not take kindly to civilisation.
He's shamefully treated anyway.
Oh, Jim, it won't do to take your noble red men from romance. Theheroes of King Philip's time have vanished.
Jim was reading Cooper, and had large faith in the children of theforest. The next generation of school-boys called them sneaking reddogs, and planned to go out on the plains and shoot them.
If we absorb all these people, we shall be a curiously conglomeratenation by and by, exclaimed Mrs. Jasper.
As we were in the beginning, returned Father Underhill. We startedfrom most of the nations of Europe. We have had a French state, Dutchand German, English and Scotch, but the one language seems a greatleveler.
The little girls talked about the concert. Doctor Joe said he thoughtDaisy might venture. She was beginning to grow quite courageous, thoughthe comments on her lameness always brought a flush to her cheek.Sometimes he stopped at school for both girls, and the wheeling-chairwent home empty. His strong, tender arm was help enough.
Mr. Reed had quite a battle to win the day for his son. Thesinging-school was foolishness and a waste of time; and there was not amoment to waste in this world, when you had to give a strict account ofit in the next. Mrs. Reed had never considered whether so much scouringand scrubbing was not a waste of time, when everything was as clean as apin. When a very polite note from Mr. Bradbury reached Mr. Reed, beggingthat Charles might be allowed to take a prominent part in the concert,there was war, a more dreadful time than going to the barber had caused.
Charles--she occasionally left off the John Robert--was too big a boyfor such nonsense! It spoiled children to put them forward. He ought tobe thinking of his lessons and forming his character, instead ofspending his time over silly songs. And to sing on a public stage!
Some of the best families are to let their children participate in it.I don't think it will hurt them, her husband said decisively.
Then she actually sobbed.
You will ruin that child, after all the trouble I've taken. I've workedand slaved from morning till night, made him get his lessons and becareful of his clothes, and kept him out of bad company; and now I'mnot allowed to say a word, but just stand by while you let him go toruin. The next thing we'll have him in a nigger minstrel band, orplaying on a fiddle!
I've known some very worthy men who played on a fiddle. And all thechildren growing up can't be minstrels, so perhaps our boy will becompelled to find some other employment. I am going to have him likeother boys; and if it can't be so at home, I'll send him away toschool.
That was a terrible threat. To be gone months at a time, with no one tolook after his clothes!
Mrs. Reed went about the house sighing, and scrubbed harder than ever.She made Charles feel as if he brought in dirt by the bushel, andscattered it about in pure spite. She even refused his help in clearingaway the dishes; and she tried to make him wear his second-best clothesthat eventful evening.
Oh, what an evening it was! The hall was crowded. The stage was full ofchildren, one tier of seats rising above another. The girls were dressedin white, and most of them had their hair curled. The boys had a whiteribbon tied in the buttonhole of their jackets. How eager and prettythey looked! Hanny thought of the day at Castle Garden when theSunday-schools had walked.
It was a simple cantata, but a great success. Charles Reed sangcharmingly. His father had said, Don't get frightened, my boy, and doyour very best; and he was just as desirous of pleasing his father asany one, even Mr. Bradbury.
Daisy Jasper could have listened all night, entranced. Tall Doctor Joesat beside her, easing her position now and then, while Hanny smiled andmade joyful comments of approval in so soft a tone they disturbed noone.
I've never been so happy in all my life, Daisy Jasper said to DoctorJoe. It seems as if I could never feel miserable again. There are somany splendid things in the world that I am glad to live and be amongthem, if I can't ever be quite straight and strong.
My dear child! Doctor Joe's eyes said the rest.
They waited for the crowd to get out. Charles came down the aisle withhis father and Mr. Bradbury, and Mr. Dean was escorting his littlegirls. They had a very delightful chat, and were charmed with the leaderof the children's concert.
Charles must take good care of his voice, said Mr. Bradbury. It maysometime prove a fortune to him. He is a fine boy, and any father mightwell be proud of him.
I just wish mother had wanted to be there, Charles said, as hisfather was opening the door with his latch-key. The light was turned lowin the hall, and Mrs. Reed had gone to bed, an unprecedented step withher.
Hanny found that she couldn't spend all the Saturdays with littleStevie. She wished they were twice as long; but they always seemedshorter than any other day. Dolly came down now and then, and was justas bright and merry as ever.
But old Mr. Beekman grew more feeble, and was confined to the house mostof the time. Hanny had to go down-town and visit him and Katschina. Hewas delighted to have her come, and Katschina purred her tenderestwelcome. She was like a bit of sunshine, with her cheerful smile and hersweet, merry wisdom. She told him about the school and Daisy, theirplays and songs; and they were never tired of talking about Stephen'sbaby. It could laugh aloud now; the reddish fuzz was falling out, andthe new soft hair shone like pale gold on his pink scalp.
There were so many other friends, the Bounett cousins, and Dele Whitney,who was just as jolly as ever, with the old aunts down in Beach Street,and who declared the little girl was the sweetest thing in the world,and that some day she should just steal her, and carry her off tofairyland.