Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm HTML version

Snow-White; Rose-Red
Just before Thanksgiving the affairs of the Simpsons reached what might have been
called a crisis, even in their family, which had been born and reared in a state of
adventurous poverty and perilous uncertainty.
Riverboro was doing its best to return the entire tribe of Simpsons to the land of its
fathers, so to speak, thinking rightly that the town which had given them birth, rather than
the town of their adoption, should feed them and keep a roof over their heads until the
children were of an age for self- support. There was little to eat in the household and less
to wear, though Mrs. Simpson did, as always, her poor best. The children managed to
satisfy their appetites by sitting modestly outside their neighbors' kitchen doors when
meals were about to be served. They were not exactly popular favorites, but they did
receive certain undesirable morsels from the more charitable housewives.
Life was rather dull and dreary, however, and in the chill and gloom of November
weather, with the vision of other people's turkeys bursting with fat, and other people's
golden pumpkins and squashes and corn being garnered into barns, the young Simpsons
groped about for some inexpensive form of excitement, and settled upon the selling of
soap for a premium. They had sold enough to their immediate neighbors during the
earlier autumn to secure a child's handcart, which, though very weak on its pins, could be
trundled over the country roads. With large business sagacity and an executive capacity
which must have been inherited from their father, they now proposed to extend their
operations to a larger area and distribute soap to contiguous villages, if these villages
could be induced to buy. The Excelsior Soap Company paid a very small return of any
kind to its infantile agents, who were scattered through the state, but it inflamed their
imaginations by the issue of circulars with highly colored pictures of the premiums to be
awarded for the sale of a certain number of cakes. It was at this juncture that Clara Belle
and Susan Simpson consulted Rebecca, who threw herself solidly and wholeheartedly
into the enterprise, promising her help and that of Emma Jane Perkins. The premiums
within their possible grasp were three: a bookcase, a plush reclining chair, and a banquet
lamp. Of course the Simpsons had no books, and casting aside, without thought or pang,
the plush chair, which might have been of some use in a family of seven persons (not
counting Mr. Simpson, who ordinarily sat elsewhere at the town's expense), they warmed
themselves rapturously in the vision of the banquet lamp, which speedily be- came to
them more desirable than food, drink, or clothing. Neither Emma Jane nor Rebecca
perceived anything incongruous in the idea of the Simpsons striving for a banquet lamp.
They looked at the picture daily and knew that if they themselves were free agents they
would toil, suffer, ay sweat, for the happy privilege of occupying the same room with that
lamp through the coming winter evenings. It looked to be about eight feet tall in the
catalogue, and Emma Jane advised Clara Belle to measure the height of the Simpson
ceilings; but a note in the margin of the circular informed them that it stood two and a
half feet high when set up in all its dignity and splendor on a proper table, three dollars
extra. It was only of polished brass, continued the circular, though it was invariably
mistaken for solid gold, and the shade that accompanied it (at least it accompanied it if