Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
Rebecca Represents The Family
There was another milestone; it was more than that, it was an "event;" an event that made
a deep impression in several quarters and left a wake of smaller events in its train. This
was the coming to Riverboro of the Reverend Amos Burch and wife, returned
missionaries from Syria.
The Aid Society had called its meeting for a certain Wednesday in March of the year in
which Rebecca ended her Riverboro school days and began her studies at Wareham. It
was a raw, blustering day, snow on the ground and a look in the sky of more to follow.
Both Miranda and Jane had taken cold and decided that they could not leave the house in
such weather, and this deflection from the path of duty worried Miranda, since she was
an officer of the society. After making the breakfast table sufficiently uncomfortable and
wishing plaintively that Jane wouldn't always insist on being sick at the same time she
was, she decided that Rebecca must go to the meeting in their stead. "You'll be better
than nobody, Rebecca," she said flatteringly; "your aunt Jane shall write an excuse from
afternoon school for you; you can wear your rubber boots and come home by the way of
the meetin' house. This Mr. Burch, if I remember right, used to know your grandfather
Sawyer, and stayed here once when he was candidatin'. He'll mebbe look for us there, and
you must just go and represent the family, an' give him our respects. Be careful how you
behave. Bow your head in prayer; sing all the hymns, but not too loud and bold; ask after
Mis' Strout's boy; tell everybody what awful colds we've got; if you see a good chance,
take your pocket handkerchief and wipe the dust off the melodeon before the meetin'
begins, and get twenty-five cents out of the sittin' room match-box in case there should be
Rebecca willingly assented. Anything interested her, even a village missionary meeting,
and the idea of representing the family was rather intoxicating.
The service was held in the Sunday-school room, and although the Rev. Mr. Burch was
on the platform when Rebecca entered, there were only a dozen persons present. Feeling
a little shy and considerably too young for this assemblage, Rebecca sought the shelter of
a friendly face, and seeing Mrs. Robinson in one of the side seats near the front, she
walked up the aisle and sat beside her.
"Both my aunts had bad colds," she said softly, "and sent me to represent the family."
"That's Mrs. Burch on the platform with her husband," whispered Mrs. Robinson. "She's
awful tanned up, ain't she? If you're goin' to save souls seems like you hev' to part with
your complexion. Eudoxy Morton ain't come yet; I hope to the land she will, or Mis'
Deacon Milliken'll pitch the tunes where we can't reach 'em with a ladder; can't you pitch,
afore she gits her breath and clears her throat?"