and obtaining an engine and car, went twelve miles farther

Published on 2023-12-02 23:43:05 source:Spring Breeze and Summer Rain

We were allowed to have books in the cloth-room. The absence of machinery permitted that privilege. Our superintendent, who was a man of culture and a Christian gentleman of the Puritan-school, dignifed and reserved, used often to stop at my desk in his daily round to see what book I was reading. One day it was Mather's "Magnalia," which I had brought from the public library, with a desire to know something of the early history of New England. He looked a little surprised at the archaeological turn my mind had taken, but his only comment was, "A valuable old book that." It was a satisfaction to have a superintendent like him, whose granite principles, emphasized by his stately figure and bearing, made him a tower of strength in the church and in the community. He kept a silent, kindly, rigid watch over the corporation-life of which he was the head; and only those of us who were incidentally admitted to his confidence knew how carefully we were guarded.

and obtaining an engine and car, went twelve miles farther

We had occasional glimpses into his own well-ordered home-life, at social gatherings. His little daughter was in my infant Sabbath-school class from her fourth to her seventh or eighth year. She sometimes visited me at my work, and we had our frolics among the heaps of cloth, as if we were both children. She had also the same love of hymns that I had as a child, and she would sit by my side and repeat to me one after another that she had learned, not as a task, but because of her delight in them. One of my sincerest griefs in going off to the West was that I should see my little pupil Mary as a child no more. When I came back, she was a grown-up young woman.

and obtaining an engine and car, went twelve miles farther

My friend Anna, who had procured for me the place and work besideher which I liked so much, was not at all a bookish person, but we had perhaps a better time together than if she had been. She was one who found the happiness of her life in doing kindnesses for others, and in helping them bear their burdens. Family reverses had brought her, with her mother and sisters, to Lowell, and this was one strong point of sympathy between my own family and hers. It was, indeed, a bond of neighborly union between a great many households in the young manufacturing city. Anna's manners and language were those of a lady, though she had come from the wilds of Maine, somewhere in the vicinity of Mount Desert, the very name of which seemed in those days to carry one into a wilderness of mountains and waves. We chatted together at our work on all manner of subjects, and once she astonished me by saying confidentially, in a low tone, "Do you know, I am thirty years old!" She spoke as if she thought the fact implied something serious. My surprise was that she should have taken me into her intimate friendship when I was only seventeen. I should hardly have supposed her older than myself, if she had not volunteered the information.

and obtaining an engine and car, went twelve miles farther

When I lifted my eyes from her tall, thin figure to her fair face and somewhat sad blue eyes, I saw that she looked a little worn; but I knew that it was from care for others, strangers as well as her own relatives; and it seemed to me as if those thirty loving years were her rose-garland. I became more attached to her than ever.

What a foolish dread it is,--showing unripeness rather than youth,--the dread of growing old! For how can a life be beautified more than by its beautiful years? A living, loving, growing spirit can never be old. Emerson says:

"Spring still makes spring in the mind, When sixty years are told; "

and some of us are thankful to have lived long enough to bear witness with him to that truth.

The few others who measured cloth with us were nice, bright girls, and some of them remarkably pretty. Our work and the room itself were so clean that in summer we could wear fresh muslin dresses, sometimes white ones, without fear of soiling them. This slight difference of apparel and our fewer work-hours seemed to give us a slight advantage over the toilers in the mills opposite, and we occasionally heard ourselves spoken of as "the cloth-room aristocracy." But that was only in fun. Most of us had served an apprenticeship in the mills, and many of our best friends were still there, preferring their work because it brought them more money than we could earn.

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