Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
They had been called the Sawyer girls when Miranda at eighteen, Jane at twelve, and
Aurelia at eight participated in the various activities of village life; and when Riverboro
fell into a habit of thought or speech, it saw no reason for falling out of it, at any rate in
the same century. So although Miranda and Jane were between fifty and sixty at the time
this story opens, Riverboro still called them the Sawyer girls. They were spinsters; but
Aurelia, the youngest, had made what she called a romantic marriage and what her sisters
termed a mighty poor speculation. "There's worse things than bein' old maids," they said;
whether they thought so is quite another matter.
The element of romance in Aurelia's marriage existed chiefly in the fact that Mr. L. D. M.
Randall had a soul above farming or trading and was a votary of the Muses. He taught the
weekly singing-school (then a feature of village life) in half a dozen neighboring towns,
he played the violin and "called off" at dances, or evoked rich harmonies from church
melodeons on Sundays. He taught certain uncouth lads, when they were of an age to enter
society, the intricacies of contra dances, or the steps of the schottische and mazurka, and
he was a marked figure in all social assemblies, though conspicuously absent from town-
meetings and the purely masculine gatherings at the store or tavern or bridge.
His hair was a little longer, his hands a little whiter, his shoes a little thinner, his manner
a trifle more polished, than that of his soberer mates; indeed the only department of life in
which he failed to shine was the making of sufficient money to live upon. Luckily he had
no responsibilities; his father and his twin brother had died when he was yet a boy, and
his mother, whose only noteworthy achievement had been the naming of her twin sons
Marquis de Lafayette and Lorenzo de Medici Randall, had supported herself and
educated her child by making coats up to the very day of her death. She was wont to say
plaintively, "I'm afraid the faculties was too much divided up between my twins. L. D. M.
is awful talented, but I guess M. D. L. would 'a' ben the practical one if he'd 'a' lived."
"L. D. M. was practical enough to get the richest girl in the village," replied Mrs.
"Yes," sighed his mother, "there it is again; if the twins could 'a' married Aurelia Sawyer,
't would 'a' been all right. L. D. M. was talented 'nough to GET Reely's money, but M. D.
L. would 'a' ben practical 'nough to have KEP' it."
Aurelia's share of the modest Sawyer property had been put into one thing after another
by the handsome and luckless Lorenzo de Medici. He had a graceful and poetic way of
making an investment for each new son and daughter that blessed their union. "A
birthday present for our child, Aurelia," he would say,--"a little nest-egg for the future;"
but Aurelia once remarked in a moment of bitterness that the hen never lived that could
sit on those eggs and hatch anything out of them.