New Chronicles of Rebecca
Second Chronicle : Daughters Of Zion
Abijah Flagg was driving over to Wareham on an errand for old Squire Winship, whose
general chore-boy and farmer's assistant he had been for some years.
He passed Emma Jane Perkins's house slowly, as he always did. She was only a little girl
of thirteen and he a boy of fifteen or sixteen, but somehow, for no particular reason, he
liked to see the sun shine on her thick braids of reddish-brown hair. He admired her
china-blue eyes too, and her amiable, friendly expression. He was quite alone in the
world, and he always thought that if he had anybody belonging to him he would rather
have a sister like Emma Jane Perkins than anything else within the power of Providence
to bestow. When she herself suggested this relationship a few years later he cast it aside
with scorn, having changed his mind in the interval--but that story belongs to another
time and place.
Emma Jane was not to be seen in garden, field, or at the window, and Abijah turned his
gaze to the large brick house that came next on the other side of the quiet village street. It
might have been closed for a funeral. Neither Miss Miranda nor Miss Jane Sawyer sat at
their respective windows knitting, nor was Rebecca Randall's gypsy face to be discerned.
Ordinarily that will-o'-the wispish little person could be seen, heard, or felt wherever she
"The village must be abed, I guess," mused Abijah, as he neared the Robinsons' yellow
cottage, where all the blinds were closed and no sign of life showed on porch or in shed.
"No, 't aint, neither," he thought again, as his horse crept cautiously down the hill, for
from the direction of the Robinsons' barn chamber there floated out into the air certain
burning sentiments set to the tune of "Antioch." The words, to a lad brought up in the
orthodox faith, were quite distinguishable:
"Daughter of Zion, from the dust,
Exalt thy fallen head!"
Even the most religious youth is stronger on first lines than others, but Abijah pulled up
his horse and waited till he caught another familiar verse, beginning:
"Rebuild thy walls, thy bounds enlarge,
And send thy heralds forth."
"That's Rebecca carrying the air, and I can hear Emma Jane's alto."
"Say to the North,
Give up thy charge,
And hold not back, O South,
And hold not back, O South," etc.