The Old Peabody Pew
A Christmas Romance of a Country Church
To a certain handful of dear New England women of names unknown to the world,
dwelling in a certain quiet village, alike unknown:--
We have worked together to make our little corner of the great universe a pleasanter
place in which to live, and so we know, not only one another's names, but something of
one another's joys and sorrows, cares and burdens, economies, hopes, and anxieties.
We all remember the dusty uphill road that leads to the green church common. We
remember the white spire pointing upward against a background of blue sky and feathery
elms. We remember the sound of the bell that falls on the Sabbath morning stillness,
calling us across the daisy-sprinkled meadows of June, the golden hayfields of July, or
the dazzling whiteness and deep snowdrifts of December days. The little cabinet-organ
that plays the Doxology, the hymn-books from which we sing "Praise God from whom
all blessings flow," the sweet freshness of the old meeting-house, within and without,--
how we have toiled to secure and preserve these humble mercies for ourselves and our
There really is a Dorcas Society, as you and I well know, and one not unlike that in these
pages; and you and I have lived through many discouraging, laughable, and beautiful
experiences while we emulated the Bible Dorcas, that woman "full of good works and
There never was a Peabody Pew in the Tory Hill Meeting-House, and Nancy's love story
and Justin's never happened within its century-old walls, but I have imagined only one of
the many romances that have had their birth under the shadow of that steeple, did we but
As you have sat there on open-windowed Sundays, looking across purple clover-fields to
blue distant mountains, watching the palm-leaf fans swaying to and fro in the warm
stillness before sermon time, did not the place seem full of memories, for has not the life
of two villages ebbed and flowed beneath that ancient roof? You heard the hum of
droning bees and followed the airy wings of butterflies fluttering over the grave-stones in
the old churchyard, and underneath almost every moss-grown tablet some humble
romance lies buried aud all but forgotten.
If it had not been for you, I should never have written this story, so I give it back to you
tied with a sprig from Ophelia's nosegay; a sprig of "rosemary, that's for remembrance."
K. D. W.