Work: A Story of Experience
"AUNT BETSEY, there's going to be a new Declaration of Independence."
"Bless and save us, what do you mean, child?" And the startled old lady precipitated a pie
into the oven with destructive haste.
"I mean that, being of age, I'm going to take care of myself, and not be a burden any
longer. Uncle wishes me out of the way; thinks I ought to go, and, sooner or later, will
tell me so. I don't intend to wait for that, but, like the people in fairy tales, travel away
into the world and seek my fortune. I know I can find it."
Christie emphasized her speech by energetic demonstrations in the bread-trough,
kneading the dough as if it was her destiny, and she was shaping it to suit herself; while
Aunt Betsey stood listening, with uplifted pie-fork, and as much astonishment as her
placid face was capable of expressing. As the girl paused, with a decided thump, the old
"What crazy idee you got into your head now?"
"A very sane and sensible one that's got to be worked out, so please listen to it, ma'am.
I've had it a good while, I've thought it over thoroughly, and I'm sure it's the right thing
for me to do. I'm old enough to take care of myself; and if I'd been a boy, I should have
been told to do it long ago. I hate to be dependent; and now there's no need of it, I can't
bear it any longer. If you were poor, I wouldn't leave you; for I never forget how kind
you have been to me. But Uncle doesn't love or understand me; I am a burden to him, and
I must go where I can take care of myself. I can't be happy till I do, for there's nothing
here for me. I'm sick of this dull town, where the one idea is eat, drink, and get rich; I
don't find any friends to help me as I want to be helped, or any work that I can do well; so
let me go, Aunty, and find my place, wherever it is."
"But I do need you, deary; and you mustn't think Uncle don't like you. He does, only he
don't show it; and when your odd ways fret him, he ain't pleasant, I know. I don't see why
you can't be contented; I've lived here all my days, and never found the place lonesome,
or the folks unneighborly." And Aunt Betsey looked perplexed by the new idea.
"You and I are very different, ma'am. There was more yeast put into my composition, I
guess; and, after standing quiet in a warm corner so long, I begin to ferment, and ought to
be kneaded up in time, so that I may turn out a wholesome loaf. You can't do this; so let
me go where it can be done, else I shall turn sour and good for nothing. Does that make
the matter any clearer?" And Christie's serious face relaxed into a smile as her aunt's eye
went from her to the nicely moulded loaf offered as an illustration.
"I see what you mean, Kitty; but I never thought on't before. You be better riz than me;
though, let me tell you, too much emptins makes bread poor stuff, like baker's trash; and
too much workin' up makes it hard and dry. Now fly 'round, for the big oven is most het,
and this cake takes a sight of time in the mixin'."