New Chronicles of Rebecca
Fifth Chronicle : The Saving Of The Colors
Even when Rebecca had left school, having attained the great age of seventeen and
therefore able to look back over a past incredibly long and full, she still reckoned time
not by years, but by certain important occurrences.
There was the year her father died; the year she left Sunnybrook Farm to come to her
aunts in Riverboro; the year Sister Hannah became engaged; the year little Mira died; the
year Abijah Flagg ceased to be Squire Bean's chore-boy, and astounded Riverboro by
departing for Limerick Academy in search of an education; and finally the year of her
graduation, which, to the mind of seventeen, seems rather the culmination than the
beginning of existence.
Between these epoch-making events certain other happenings stood out in bold relief
against the gray of dull daily life.
There was the day she first met her friend of friends, "Mr. Aladdin," and the later, even
more radiant one when he gave her the coral necklace. There was the day the Simpson
family moved away from Riverboro under a cloud, and she kissed Clara Belle fervently
at the cross-roads, telling her that she would always be faithful. There was the visit of the
Syrian missionaries to the brick house. That was a bright, romantic memory, as strange
and brilliant as the wonderful little birds' wings and breasts that the strangers brought
from the Far East. She remembered the moment they asked her to choose some for
herself, and the rapture with which she stroked the beautiful things as they lay on the
black haircloth sofa. Then there was the coming of the new minister, for though many
were tried only one was chosen; and finally there was the flag-raising, a festivity that
thrilled Riverboro and Edgewood society from centre to circumference, a festivity that
took place just before she entered the Female Seminary at Wareham and said good-by to
kind Miss Dearborn and the village school.
There must have been other flag-raisings in history,--even the persons most interested in
this particular one would grudgingly have allowed that much,--but it would have seemed
to them improbable that any such flag-raising as theirs, either in magnitude of conception
or brilliancy of actual performance, could twice glorify the same century. Of some
pageants it is tacitly admitted that there can be no duplicates, and the flag-raising at
Riverboro Centre was one of these; so that it is small wonder if Rebecca chose it as one
of the important dates in her personal almanac.
The new minister's wife was the being, under Providence, who had conceived the
germinal idea of the flag.
At this time the parish had almost settled down to the trembling belief that they were
united on a pastor. In the earlier time a minister was chosen for life, and if he had faults,
which was a probably enough contingency, and if his congregation had any, which is