Oldtown Fireside Stories
Oldtown Fireside Stories
THE SULLIVAN LOOKING-GLASS.
"Aunt Lois," said I, "what was that story about Ruth Sullivan?"
Aunt Lois's quick black eyes gave a surprised flash; and she and my grandmother looked at each other a minute significantly. "Who told you any thing about Ruth Sullivan," she said sharply.
"Nobody. Somebody said you knew something about her," said I.
I was holding a skein of yarn for Aunt Lois; and she went on winding in silence, putting the ball through loops and tangled places.
"Little boys shouldn't ask questions," she concluded at last sententiously. "Little boys that ask too many questions get sent to bed."
I knew that of old, and rather wondered at my own hardihood.
Aunt Lois wound on in silence; but, looking in her face, I could see plainly that I had started an exciting topic.
"I should think," pursued my grandmother in her corner, "that Ruth's case might show you, Lois, that a good many things may happen,-more than you believe."
"Oh, well, mother! Ruth's was a strange case; but I suppose there are ways of accounting for it."
"You believed Ruth, didn't you?"
"Oh, certainly, I believed Ruth! Why shouldn't I? Ruth was one of my best friends, and as true a girl as lives: there wasn't any nonsense about Ruth. She was one of the sort," said Aunt Lois reflectively, "that I'd as soon trust as myself: when she said a thing was so and so, I knew it was so."
"Then, if you think Ruth's story was true," pursued my grandmother, "what's the reason you are always cavilling at things just 'cause you can't understand how they came to be so?"
Aunt Lois set her lips firmly, and wound with grim resolve. She was the very impersonation of that obstinate rationalism that grew up at the New-England fireside, close alongside of the most undoubting faith in the supernatural.
"I don't believe such things," at last she snapped out, "and I don't disbelieve them. I just let 'em alone. What do I know about 'em? Ruth tells me a story; and I believe her. I know what she saw beforehand, came true in a most remarkable way. Well, I'm sure I've no objection. One thing may be true, or another, for all me; but, just because I believe Ruth Sullivan, I'm not going to believe, right and left, all the stories in Cotton Mather, and all that anybody can hawk up to tell. Not I."
This whole conversation made me all the more curious to get at the story thus dimly indicated; and so we beset Sam for information.
"So your Aunt Lois wouldn't tell ye nothin'," said Sam. "Wanter know, neow! sho!"
"No: she said we must go to bed if we asked her."
"That 'are's a way folks has; but, ye see, boys," said Sam, while a droll confidential expression crossed the lack-lustre dolefulness of his visage, "ye see, I put ye up to it, 'cause Miss Lois is so large and commandin' in her ways, and so kind o' up and down in all her doin's, that I like once and a while to sort o' gravel her; and I knowed enough to know that that 'are question would git her in a tight place.
"Ye see, yer Aunt Lois was knowin' to all this 'ere about Ruth, so there wer'n't no gettin' away from it; and it's about as remarkable a providence as any o' them of Mister Cotton Marther's 'Magnilly.' So if you'll come up in the barn-chamber this arternoon, where I've got a lot o' flax to hatchel out, I'll tell ye all about it."
So that afternoon beheld Sam arranged at full length on a pile of top-tow in the barn-chamber, hatchelling by proxy by putting Harry and myself to the service.
"Wal, now, boys, it's kind o' refreshing to see how wal ye take hold," he observed.