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Song of the Lark

Chapter I.18
Mr. Kronborg was too fond of his ease and too sensible to worry his children
much about religion. He was more sincere than many preachers, but when he
spoke to his family about matters of conduct it was usually with a regard for
keeping up appearances. The church and church work were discussed in the
family like the routine of any other business. Sunday was the hard day of the
week with them, just as Saturday was the busy day with the merchants on Main
Street. Revivals were seasons of extra work and pressure, just as threshing-time
was on the farms. Visiting elders had to be lodged and cooked for, the folding-
bed in the parlor was let down, and Mrs. Kronborg had to work in the kitchen all
day long and attend the night meetings.
During one of these revivals Thea's sister Anna professed religion with, as
Mrs. Kronborg said, "a good deal of fluster." While Anna was going up to the
mourners' bench nightly and asking for the prayers of the congregation, she
disseminated general gloom throughout the household, and after she joined the
church she took on an air of "set-apartness" that was extremely trying to her
brothers and her sister, though they realized that Anna's sanctimoniousness was
perhaps a good thing for their father. A preacher ought to have one child who did
more than merely acquiesce in religious observances, and Thea and the boys
were glad enough that it was Anna and not one of themselves who assumed this
"Anna, she's American," Mrs. Kronborg used to say. The Scandinavian mould
of countenance, more or less marked in each of the other children, was scarcely
discernible in her, and she looked enough like other Moonstone girls to be
thought pretty. Anna's nature was conventional, like her face. Her position as the
minister's eldest daughter was important to her, and she tried to live up to it. She
read sentimental religious story-books and emulated the spiritual struggles and
magnanimous behavior of their persecuted heroines. Everything had to be
interpreted for Anna. Her opinions about the smallest and most commonplace
things were gleaned from the Denver papers, the church weeklies, from sermons
and Sunday-School addresses. Scarcely anything was attractive to her in its
natural state--indeed, scarcely anything was decent until it was clothed by the
opinion of some authority. Her ideas about habit, character, duty, love, marriage,
were grouped under heads, like a book of popular quotations, and were totally
unrelated to the emergencies of human living. She discussed all these subjects
with other Methodist girls of her age. They would spend hours, for instance, in
deciding what they would or would not tolerate in a suitor or a husband, and the
frailties of masculine nature were too often a subject of discussion among them.
In her behavior Anna was a harmless girl, mild except where her prejudices were
concerned, neat and industrious, with no graver fault than priggishness; but her
mind had really shocking habits of classification. The wickedness of Denver and
of Chicago, and even of Moonstone, occupied her thoughts too much. She had