Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
A single hour's experience of the vicissitudes incident to a business career clouded the
children's spirits just the least bit. They did not accompany each other to the doors of
their chosen victims, feeling sure that together they could not approach the subject
seriously; but they parted at the gate of each house, the one holding the horse while the
other took the soap samples and interviewed any one who seemed of a coming-on
disposition. Emma Jane had disposed of three single cakes, Rebecca of three small boxes;
for a difference in their ability to persuade the public was clearly defined at the start,
though neither of them ascribed either success or defeat to anything but the imperious
force of circumstances. Housewives looked at Emma Jane and desired no soap; listened
to her description of its merits, and still desired none. Other stars in their courses
governed Rebecca's doings. The people whom she interviewed either remembered their
present need of soap, or reminded themselves that they would need it in the future; the
notable point in the case being that lucky Rebecca accomplished, with almost no effort,
results that poor little Emma Jane failed to attain by hard and conscientious labor.
"It's your turn, Rebecca, and I'm glad, too," said Emma Jane, drawing up to a gateway
and indicating a house that was set a considerable distance from the road. "I haven't got
over trembling from the last place yet." (A lady had put her head out of an upstairs
window and called, "Go away, little girl; whatever you have in your box we don't want
any.") "I don't know who lives here, and the blinds are all shut in front. If there's nobody
at home you mustn't count it, but take the next house as yours."
Rebecca walked up the lane and went to the side door. There was a porch there, and
seated in a rocking-chair, husking corn, was a good-looking young man, or was he
middle aged? Rebecca could not make up her mind. At all events he had an air of the city
about him,--well-shaven face, well-trimmed mustache, well-fitting clothes. Rebecca was
a trifle shy at this unexpected encounter, but there was nothing to be done but explain her
presence, so she asked, "Is the lady of the house at home?"
"I am the lady of the house at present," said the stranger, with a whimsical smile. "What
can I do for you?"
"Have you ever heard of the--would you like, or I mean--do you need any soap?" queried
"Do I look as if I did?" he responded unexpectedly.
Rebecca dimpled. "I didn't mean THAT; I have some soap to sell; I mean I would like to
introduce to you a very remarkable soap, the best now on the market. It is called the"--
"Oh! I must know that soap," said the gentleman genially. "Made out of pure vegetable
fats, isn't it?"