Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
Over The Teacups
The summer term at Wareham had ended, and Huldah Meserve, Dick Carter, and Living
Perkins had finished school, leaving Rebecca and Emma Jane to represent Riverboro in
the year to come. Delia Weeks was at home from Lewiston on a brief visit, and Mrs.
Robinson was celebrating the occasion by a small and select party, the particular day
having been set because strawberries were ripe and there was a rooster that wanted
killing. Mrs. Robinson explained this to her husband, and requested that he eat his dinner
on the carpenter's bench in the shed, as the party was to be a ladies' affair.
"All right; it won't be any loss to me," said Mr. Robinson. "Give me beans, that's all I ask.
When a rooster wants to be killed, I want somebody else to eat him, not me!"
Mrs. Robinson had company only once or twice a year, and was generally much
prostrated for several days afterward, the struggle between pride and parsimony being
quite too great a strain upon her. It was necessary, in order to maintain her standing in the
community, to furnish a good "set out," yet the extravagance of the proceeding goaded
her from the first moment she began to stir the marble cake to the moment when the feast
appeared upon the table.
The rooster had been boiling steadily over a slow fire since morning, but such was his
power of resistance that his shape was as firm and handsome in the pot as on the first
moment when he was lowered into it.
"He ain't goin' to give up!" said Alice, peering nervously under the cover, "and he looks
like a scarecrow."
"We'll see whether he gives up or not when I take a sharp knife to him," her mother
answered; "and as to his looks, a platter full o' gravy makes a sight o' difference with old
roosters, and I'll put dumplings round the aidge; they're turrible fillin', though they don't
belong with boiled chicken."
The rooster did indeed make an impressive showing, lying in his border of dumplings,
and the dish was much complimented when it was borne in by Alice. This was fortunate,
as the chorus of admiration ceased abruptly when the ladies began to eat the fowl.
"I was glad you could git over to Huldy's graduation, Delia," said Mrs. Meserve, who sat
at the foot of the table and helped the chicken while Mrs. Robinson poured coffee at the
other end. She was a fit mother for Huldah, being much the most stylish person in
Riverboro; ill health and dress were, indeed, her two chief enjoyments in life. It was
rumored that her elaborately curled "front piece" had cost five dollars, and that it was sent
into Portland twice a year to be dressed and frizzed; but it is extremely difficult to
discover the precise facts in such cases, and a conscientious historian always prefers to
warn a too credulous reader against imbibing as gospel truth something that might be the
basest perversion of it. As to Mrs. Meserve's appearance, have you ever, in earlier years,