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New Chronicles of Rebecca

Eighth Chronicle : Abner Simpson's New Leaf
Rebecca had now cut the bonds that bound her to the Riverboro district school, and had
been for a week a full-fledged pupil at the Wareham Seminary, towards which goal she
had been speeding ever since the memorable day when she rode into Riverboro on the top
of Uncle Jerry Cobb's stagecoach, and told him that education was intended to be "the
making of her."
She went to and fro, with Emma Jane and the other Riverboro boys and girls, on the
morning and evening trains that ran between the academy town and Milliken's Mills.
The six days had passed like a dream!--a dream in which she sat in corners with her eyes
cast down; flushed whenever she was addressed; stammered whenever she answered a
question, and nearly died of heart failure when subjected to an examination of any sort.
She delighted the committee when reading at sight from "King Lear," but somewhat
discouraged them when she could not tell the capital of the United States. She admitted
that her former teacher, Miss Dearborn, might have mentioned it, but if so she had not
remembered it.
In these first weeks among strangers she passed for nothing but an interesting-looking,
timid, innocent, country child, never revealing, even to the far-seeing Emily Maxwell, a
hint of her originality, facility, or power in any direction. Rebecca was fourteen, but so
slight, and under the paralyzing new conditions so shy, that she would have been
mistaken for twelve had it not been for her general advancement in the school
curriculum.
Growing up in the solitude of a remote farm house, transplanted to a tiny village where
she lived with two elderly spinsters, she was still the veriest child in all but the practical
duties and responsibilities of life; in those she had long been a woman.
It was Saturday afternoon; her lessons for Monday were all learned and she burst into the
brick house sitting-room with the flushed face and embarrassed mien that always
foreshadowed a request. Requests were more commonly answered in the negative than in
the affirmative at the brick house, a fact that accounted for the slight confusion in her
demeanor.
"Aunt Miranda," she began, "the fishman says that Clara Belle Simpson wants to see me
very much, but Mrs. Fogg can't spare her long at a time, you know, on account of the
baby being no better; but Clara Belle could walk a mile up, and I a mile down the road,
and we could meet at the pink house half way. Then we could rest and talk an hour or so,
and both be back in time for our suppers. I've fed the cat; she had no appetite, as it's only
two o'clock and she had her dinner at noon, but she'll go back to her saucer, and it's off
my mind. I could go down cellar now and bring up the cookies and the pie and doughnuts
for supper before I start. Aunt Jane saw no objection; but we thought I'd better ask you so
as to run no risks."
 
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