Homespun Tales HTML version

These three stories are now brought together under one cover because they have not quite
outworn their welcome; but in their first estate two of them appeared as gift-books, with
decorative borders and wide margins, a style not compatible with the stringent economies
of the present moment. Luckily they belong together by reason of their background,
which is an imaginary village, any village you choose, within the confines, or on the
borders of York County, in the State of Maine.
In the first tale the river, not "Rose," is the principal character; no one realizes this better
than I. If an author spends her summers on the banks of Saco Water it fills the landscape.
It flows from the White Mountains to the Atlantic in a tempestuous torrent, breaking here
and there into glorious falls of amber glimpsed through snowy foam; its rapids dash
through rocky cliffs crowned with pine trees, under which blue harebells and rosy
columbines blossom in gay profusion. There is the glint of the mirror-like lake above the
falls, and the sound of the surging floods below; the witchery of feathery elms reflected
in its clear surfaces, and the enchantment of the full moon on its golden torrents, never
twice alike and always beautiful! How is one to forget, evade, scorn, belittle it, by leaving
its charms untold; and who could keep such a river out of a book? It has flowed through
many of mine and the last sound I expect to hear in life will be the faint, far-away
murmur of Saco Water!
The old Tory Hill Meeting House bulks its way into the foreground of the next story, and
the old Peabody Pew (which never existed) has somehow assumed a quasi-historical
aspect never intended by its author. There is a Dorcas Society, and there is a meeting
house; my dedication assures the reader of these indubitable facts; and the Dorcas
Society, in a season of temporary bankruptcy, succeeding a too ample generosity, did
scrub the pews when there was no money for paint. Rumors of our strenuous, and
somewhat unique, activities spread through our parish to many others, traveling so far
(even over seas) that we became embarrassed at our easily won fame. The book was read
and people occasionally came to church to see the old Peabody Pew, rather resenting the
information that there had never been any Peabodys in the parish and, therefore, there
could be no Peabody Pew. Matters became worse when I made, very reverently, what I
suppose must be called a dramatic version of the book, which we have played for several
summers in the old meeting house to audiences far exceeding our seating capacity.
Inasmuch as the imaginary love-tale of my so-called Nancy Wentworth and Justin
Peabody had begun under the shadow of the church steeple, and after the ten years of
parting the happy reunion had come to them in the selfsame place, it was possible to
present their story simply and directly, without offense, in a church building. There was
no curtain, no stage, no scenery, no theatricalism. The pulpit was moved back, and four
young pine trees were placed in front of it for supposed Christmas decoration. The pulpit
platform, and the "wing pews" left vacant for the village players, took the place of a
stage; the two aisles served for exits and entrances; and the sexton with three rings of the
church bell, announced the scenes. The Carpet Committee of the Dorcas Society