The New Bloomfield, Pa. times. (New Bloomfield, Pa.) 1877-188?, December 13, 1881, Image 1

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" 'M jjtfi'f !l'l!!'l'il!'!l,''l!:'!ill!lll''llHlil1
An Independent Family Newspaper,
To subscribers residing In this countt. where
we linve no postage to pav. a discount of 25 cent
from the above terms will be made If payment Is
made In advance.
. Advertising rates furnished upon appllca
Pretty Jane and the Pedlar.
FIFTY years ago, the two principal
characters of this story, were well
known In one of the central counties of
Vermont, and to this day the older In
habitants often talk of them, and the
sad incidents connected with their lives.
The first character we will Introduce to
our readers is Widow Blade, who was
known all through that county as "Ped
lar Molly."
A woman of middle age at the open,
log of my story ,she had devoted herself,
since an early widowhood, to secure a
decent competence for her declining
years, and for her only child the rueaiiB
of fitting him for the vocation of his
father that of a schoolmaster. Sum
mer and winter there were few days In
which the light, active figure of Pedlar
Molly might not have been met on her
accustomed round, ever neat, clean and
suitably attired, and there were few
houses that she frequented, In which
her cheerful smile and her kind, clear
voice were not gladly welcomed, for her
conversation was as pleasant as her con
duct was irreproachable. Even among
the gentry of the district, a place was
always freely allotted to her amidst their
domestic circle, in consideration that,
however homely might have been her
training, her appearance and whole
bearing bespoke her a lady of Nature's
own patent.
The dwelling Widow Blade occupied,
and which it was a ruling object with
her one day to call her own, was a cot
tag of the better class, a square, stone
building divided Into three apartments
two small chambers and a larger room
in to which they opened. In this outer
room, which, in the words of the old
eong, served "for parlor, for kitchen and
hall," the pedlar woman, one intensely
cold morning in December, Bat at break
fast. The first snow of the season bad
come the night before, and lay thick
and unbroken on the surrounding fields,
while heavy masses of leaden colored
clouds, drifting wildly before the keen
north wind, threatened to add another
fall to its depth. But none of the ex
ternal gloom had found entrance within
the walls.
The savory odor of a plate of plump,
brown sausages.and the foam-like light
ness of a wheaten loaf, the staples of the
repast, testified to the skill of the hand
that had compounded them, while the
exhalations of a tiny, black coffee-pot
betrayed the presence of a luxury that,
in those days, would hardly have been
remarked on such a board without re
prehension. But it was one in which
Widow Blade seldom Indulged ,and never
except when she needed its harmless
stimulus against the fatigues of a tour
' of unusal length and difficulty.
"Well, Heaven be praised for a warm
house and a bountiful meal I" she ejacu
lated, rising from the table with an ex
pression of gratitude on ber fresh un
wrinkled face ; "if this world requires
much care and hard work of me, it also
yields me many blessings to be thank
ful for!" " ,
Her words were directed to her son a
tall, mature looking lad of fourteen or
fifteen, whose strongly marked, though
handsome features were singularly im
pressed with the character of turbulence
and self-will. He was engaged in pre
paring a new rifle for use, and occasion
ally alternated his employment, as if
unconsciously, by tracing, with a polnt
d stick, the device on the broad side
plate of the stove, the tragedy of Judith
and Holofernes,represented the anacbor
istie machinery of a stack of bayonets
and a pile of cannon-balls, to give a war
like aspect to the tent. Without appear
ing to have noticed bis motber's'address,
he threw down the stick and said ab
ruptly, "I shall want some money to
day ; if you are going out on your bent,
be sure that you leave nie gome."
"Mouey to-day 1" she repeated, stop,
ping with surprise In her occupation of
removing the breakfast things ; "where
can you be going, George, that you will
need money on such a day as this ?"
"To the shooting-match at the Elk;
there's to be a famous one, and I want
to win either the prize bear or a prime
old turkey for our Christmas dinner."
One of the turkeys of our own feeding
will do well enough for our Christmas
dinner, George, and as to the bear, I
want no such beast about me. Besides,
it is a bad habit for a boy like you to get
into, this going to shooting-matches."
"Good or bad, I intend to go," Bald
the lad insolently ; "so you may as well
leave me the money to pay for my
chances ; if you don't choose to do it,
I dare say I could find out where there
is enough kept to answer my purpose."
The widow turned with a deep sigh to
a window, and her eyes wandered va
cantly over the wide expanse of snow
before it, but after a moment they rested
on a dwelling, the only one within sight
of her own, which stood at the farther
side of a trackless field, and her train of
thought was changed.
"Strange that I should have been so
forgetful," she observed, as If in self-reproach
; "this is no time, George, to be
disputing about your idle amusements,
while a fellow creature near us may be
in grievous want of our aid. I ought
not to have neglected till this late hour
my duty toward poor Margaret Wilmot.
There is not a curtain drawn from her
window, nor a curl of smoke rising from
her chimney ; perhaps ehe is too weak
to leave her bed, and is suffering for
food and fire. I must go and look after
her,though indeed it will be hard enough
for me to spare the time. I promised to
be at Colonel Melvln's against twelve,
with the white peeling ribbon for Miss
Julia's wedding-dress, besides leaving
the paregoric for old Madam Greely on
the way.
"But the money the money for the
shooting-match," interrupted George,
impatiently, and with a pertinacity that
showed his determination to carry his
His mother hesitated and then replied
as if relieved to be able to make her con
scious weakness subservient to some
good purpose; If you will go to the Elk,
George, your nearest way will be by
Margaret Wllmot's, and on condition
you do my errand there, I will gratify
you this time in what you ask. Will
you promise me to stop and do any thing
for her that she may require ?"
George carelessly nodded, and with a
brightened countenance his mother pre
pared him for his mission. "I shall put
up .some victuals for her," said she,
"and you can give them into her own
hand. Here Is a loaf of bread with some
rusks and cold meat for herself, and a
bottle of milk for the child. See that
there is water in plenty from the spring,
and make a fire for her a good one that
will last awhile ; and carry in wood
enough to do till to-morrow. Should
she be so much worse as to need my
help, wait to let me know when you
reach the toll-gate, and I can turn into
the lane and stop with her ; there will
be a good excuse for it, and I hope my
customers would rather put up with a
little disappointment than that she
should Buffer. If, however, she is as
usual, keep on your course, and, as I
return in the evening, I will come that
way and look after her."
The pedlar woman took from the till
of a strong oak chest a few pieces of
silver, which she gave to her son, and
saw him depart with the basket of pro
visions in his hand and the rifle on his
shoulder. She then changed her home
dress for a better one, and placing in her
basket some of the varioua little com
modities which comprised her stock in
trade, started off as UBiaal upon her daily
task. A walk of a mile brought her to
the gate at which she was to decide upon
the result of her arrangement with her
son. He had evldently;passed on, for
in the lane connected with the dwelling
of Margaret Wilmot, which there Join
ed the main road, foot tracks that she
knew to be his, the only ones by which
a path had. been opened, and satisfied
with the belief that the necessities of
her sick neighbor were provided for,
she proceeded on heraound.
Accustomed as the pedlar woman was
to the Inclemencies of a winter's day,
those she now encountered were so un
usually severe that she was often dis
couraged in the prosecution of her un
dertaking. But one of her most strong
ly confirmed habits was that of strict
adherence to her work, and to be able
to fulfill her promises to furnish
trimming for the wedding dress of her
pretty favorile, the belle of the settle
ment, and to administer a remedy for
the cough of an invalid patroness, also
shared her concern. These purposes at
length were accomplished, and though
urged to rest over night, and tempted,
at one place, by blazing fires and rich
potions of warm mulled cider, and at
the other by overgrown turkeys, tower
ing cakes, and matchless transparent
jellies, in preparation of a grand wedding
supper, when a wedding was a really
grand affair; she set out on the return
which she had compromised to her be
nevolent scruples in the morning.
The Bbades of evening were closing in
when she came in sight of the dwelling
of which an apartment or two had been
granted as a temporary abode to the
object of her anxiety a low structure of
stone, though spacious, and what was
called a double house. There were no new
tracks in the lane, and those of George
had almost disappeared for though the
wind had lulled, a brisk snow was de
scending. As Bbe advanced she saw
that the windows were closely covered
with their curtains of checked linen,
which she had, herself,drawn over them
the evening before, as she remarked
them to be in tbe morning. The en
trance door was unlocked, and when
she pushed it open she beheld her own
little basket as full as when she had
given it into the charge of her son,
standing on the passage floor within
reach of her arm. Her heart sunk, for
she felt that the boy had not entered the
house. She gave a hasty rap against
the inner door, to which no sound was
returned but the feeble wall of a child,
and she hurried into the room whence
that proceeded. The last embers had
died in the wide, stone hearth, and the
the snow flakes, which straggled down
the chimney, rested uumelted on the
few handfuls of gray ashes scattered
over it. The child a delicate looking
lltte thing, some eighteen months old,
Bat upon a bed that had been drawn
near the fire place, and with its blue
shivering fingers, stroked the attenua
ted but youthful face resting beside it on
the pillow.
'SJane, my pretty Jane, what ails
you V" asked the kind neighbor, trem
bling with apprehension, as she ap
proached the bedside. The child sobbed
anew, and leaned across the bosom of
its mother in a vain attempt to reach a
a chair which stood against the bed.-
There was a crust of bread upon it, and
a bowl that had contained water, but
now was filled with ice and cracked by
its expansion.
"Margaret! Margaret Wilmot!" gasp
ed the pedlar woman, laying her hand
upon the smooth, high forehead of her
she had named. There was no move
ment at her touch, no shrinking of the
pallid flesh, and the child cowered af
frighted down to the pillow as her shriek
rang dismally through the lonely walls.
She knew the rigidity to be that of death
and for many minutes ehe stood trans
fixed with intense horror. At length
her recollection returned so far as to
prompt her to seek aslstance.and reach
ing the horn which hung against the
chimney , she blew it as a signal of alarm.
The time seemed long to her almost be
yond endurance, before the summons
was answered, yet not half an hour had
elapsed when three or four neighbor
men appeared.
"Dead, and frozen to death !" exclaim
ed a sjout farmer, looking at the corpse,
and be grew pale and shuddered like a
"Frozen to death and in the midst of
us, the Lord forgive us all!" rejoined
another, and be added iu self-extenuation,
"I never heard she was so low
near as I live, or I would surely have
looked after her. Your house is nearer
still, neighbor Blade, and you women
always feel for each other."
"God knows how much I felt for her!"
exclaimed tbe pedlar woman, clasping
her hands; "a widow a poor young
DECEMBER 13, 1881.
thing lu her first deep sorrow, penniless,
and without the strong body and reso.
lute mind that supported me when I was
thrown in the same way upon the
world ! My last prayer at night and my
first thought in the morning have for
mauy a day been for her I" and too
much shocked herself at the conse
quence of her son's neglect to have any
wish to palliate his conduct, she gave a
hasty recital of the occurrences of the
An vl former shook his bond. "That
boy will Muse you many a heart-sore
yet, neighbor Blade," said he; "there is
not as forward a lad of his years, nor
as headstrong in the whole country
round. He is beyond the management
of a woman."
The grave looks of the other auditors
attested their concurrence in his opinion
but one of them, as if to afford some
relief to the mind of the mother, re
marked :
"Yet it may not have been the boy's
fault; we are not certain but that Bbe
died in the night."
"No, no," returned the widow, with
truthful earnestness ; "did I not say
that for a few moments I had seen that
curtain raised ? and I, myself, carried
in wood, more than enough to last her
till the morning."
The assemblage was now increased by
the arrival of several women who had
obeyed the signal of the born as soon as
the difficult walking would allow, and
they were clamorous in their expressions
of grief and horror.
"Poor thing 1 she must have died
without a struggle," said one of them ;
"her face is as calm as if she had passed
away in a sweet sleep. Dreadful as it
is, because it might have been prevent
ed, they say freezing is an easy death to
"And she died like a Christian, with
the Bible open on her breast ;" added
The tears of Widow Blade fell fast, as,
for the first time, she observed that the
arms of tbe dead woman were stiffened
across the open volume so firmly that
the restless motions of the famished
child had not displaced it from the bosom
whose agonies it had often soothed. "It
was but yesterday," sbe remarked, "that
she begged me to read the merciful
promises to the widow and fatherless,
which had been my comfort in my own
days of trial."
"And what is to become of this poor
lamb ?" asked one of tbe women, car
rying the child to the fire, which the
men had kindled; "there are no rela
tions to claim it, for more than one of
us heard Henry Wilmot tell, when he
first brought bis young wife among
us, that sbe was as much alone in the
world as himself. Poor innocent! it
may have a hard life before it '."
"Not if Heaven continues to bless me
as it has done I" said the pedlar woman,
clasping the child in her arms, while
her fine blue eyes brightened With a
noble resolution ; "sbe Bball share my
portion with me J"
Too much depressed to feel any dispo
sition for assisting in the last offices to
the dead, the pedlar woman wrapped
the child in her cloak, and prepared to
to discharge her self-imposed duties by
conveying it to the home which she
meant it should share. The neighbor
who bad so freely expressed himself
about her son, offered his services to
carry her basket, and . as they walked
together he said kindly, "Don't be so
down-hearted, neighbor Blade, nor fancy
that you are more to blame in this sad
affair than the rest of us. I hope,
though it will be a lesson to that hard
headed boy of yours. Take my advice
and put him to a trade, or some place
where he will have a master over him.
If you don't bis idle habits will grow
upon him, and may cause you trouble to
the day of your death. Make up your
mind what you would best like to do
for bis good, and if you need any one to
help you in looking out a place for him,
you may depend upon me. But cheer
up ! cheer up ! and don't take this so
much to yourself."
The gloom, however, upon the spirit
of the conscientious woman could not be
ho easily removed. She raked together
tbe live coals that were embedded in the
ashes of the stove, and added a warm
draught of milk to the food which her
basket hud supplied to the sobbing child ;
then, throwing herself upon ber knees,
she prayed to know tbe extent of her
culpability, and for power to make repa
ration for it. She was interrupted by
the entrance of her son, who nohlly
dashed down his riflerof which the bar
rel was broken, and with his foot push
ed aside the little guest seated upon the
"What is this brat doing here?" he
asked petulently.
She is here as a means of trial to me,
George, to prove if I can do my duty
toward a child by bringing it up more
In accordance with tbe commandments
of God than I have done my own son.
There Is a fearful sin and reproach upon
you since you last left this door. Your
disobedience to me has made this little
creature an orphan. Margaret Wilmot
is dead, and died of cold and hunger."
The face of lad flushed, but it was
rather with anger at his mother's tone
of severity than with any emotion for
its cause. '
"Then why did you not look after
Margaret Wilmot yourself?" he de
manded with the rudeness habitual to
him in his Intercourse with his mother;
"I have paid dearly enough on her ac
count already. Look here, if you had
not been troubling me about ber, and
had let me attend to my own concerns,
I would have loaded my gun without
mistake, and saved myself from this.
He extended his hand, unrolling from
it a thick wrapping, and his mother
saw that he bad shot away the fore-finger
at the second joint. She started
with a momentary shudder, but sup
pressing her feelings, she remarked,
"Your punishment has come soon after
the offence, George ; I can only pray
that no other may be sent upon you."
As her own mind acquired relief from
the shock occasioned by the fate of Mar
garet Wilmot, the pedlar woman saw,
with deep sorrow, that it had made no
Impression upon that of her son. He
even seemed to find satisfaction in prov
ing so to her by every act of petty tyran
ny that he could wreak upon the infant
she had adopted, and her perception at
once thoroughly awakened to his faults,
she became solicitous to follow the ad
vice of her neighbors, and place him
where he would have steady employ
ment and be under beneficial restraint.
But he was hardened in self-will beyond
his years. He scoffed at the idea of la
bor and control, and a few months after
the change had been suggested, he sud
denly disappeared, and with him, from
her secret depository, the hoardings of
several years. His death could scarcely
have been an affliction to her more
acute than such a desertion. Undutlful
as he had been, and inclined to evil
ways, he was the only hope of her wid
owhood, and to her grief was added the
reproaches of her conscience for the
weak indulgence that had failed to form
him to better things.
To those acquainted with her circum
stances it was touching to witness the
the devotion of the pedlar woman to
ward the child of her adoption. De
pendent upon her daily exertions for
her own livlihood, it was a burthen to
ber, and a heavy o'ne, yet to acknowl
edge it so even to herself, never entered
her generous mind. Many a time, when
her out-door business might have flour
ished profitably, she was kept at home
for days by its infantile infirmities, and
not only then but constantly it was a
serious hindrance to her vocation, for
her house having no other inmate she
made it the companion of her rounds
whenever its strength and season allow
ed. Nestled against her shoulder if
awake, or, if asleep, carefully sheltered
in a basket balancing that of her mul
tifarious wares, she bore it uncom plain
ly with her during the first year or two
of her guardianship, and, aa it Increased
in size and vigor, as patiently she led
it by the hand and accomodated her
own pace to its uncertain steps. It was
however, well worthy of her affection,
for seldom has the heart treasured or the
eye rested on a gentler or a lovller child.
Ever fair, delicate and graceful as a lily,
notwithstanding its exposure and its
bumble nature, with its long, soft flax,
curls floating around its stately neck,'
and with an expression of angello puri
ty and meekness on its beautiful feat
ures, there was not a family in the coun
try, no matter how high their estate,
that would not have been proud of such,
an offspring. Its beauty and sweetness
were the glcfry of the foster-mother, and