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Painted Windows Elia W. Peattie


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She pulled herself together after a moment or two, and said if I would follow her to the library she thought she could find something -- here she hesitated, to conclude with, "more within the understanding of the other children." I saw that she thought my feelings were hurt, and as I passed a mirror I feared she had some reason to think so. My face was uncommonly flushed, and a look of indignation had crept, somehow, even into my braids, which, having been plaited too tightly, stuck out in crooks and kinks from the side of my head. Incidentally, I was horrified to notice how thin I was -- thin, even for a dying Antony -- and my frock was so outgrown that it hardly covered my knees. "Ridiculous!" I said under my breath, as I confronted this miserable figure -- so shamefully insignificant for the vicarious emotions which it had been housing. "Ridiculous!" I hated Miss Goss, and must have shown it in my stony stare, for she put her arm around me and said it was a pity I had been to all the trouble to learn a poem which was -- well, a trifle too -- too old -- but that she hoped to find something equally "pretty" for me to speak. At the use of that adjective in connection with William Lytle's lines, I wrenched away from her grasp and stood in what I was pleased to think a haughty calm, awaiting her directions.

She took from the shelves a little volume of Whittier, bound in calf, handling it as tenderly as if it were a priceless possession. Some pressed violets dropped out as she opened it, and she replaced them with devotional fingers. After some time she decided upon a lyric lament entitled "Eva." I was asked to run over the verses, and found them remarkably easy to learn; fatally impossible to forget. I presently arose and with an impish betrayal of the poverty of rhyme and the plethora of sentiment, repeated the thing relentlessly.

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O for faith like thine, sweet Eva,

Lighting all the solemn reevah [river],

And the blessings of the poor,

Wafting to the heavenly shoor [shore].

"I do think," said Miss Goss gently, "that if you tried, my child, you might manage the rhymes just a little better."

"But if you're born in Michigan," I protested, "how can you possibly make 'Eva' rhyme with 'never' and 'believer'?" "Perhaps it is a little hard," Miss Goss agreed, and still clinging to her Whittier, she exhumed "The Pumpkin," which she thought precisely fitted for our Harvest Home festival. This was quite another thing from "Eva," and I saw that only hours of study would fix it in my mind. I went to my home, therefore, with "The Pumpkin" delicately transcribed in Miss Goss's running hand, and I tried to get some comfort from the foreign allusions glittering through Whittier's kindly verse. As the days went by I came to have a certain fondness for those homely lines:

O -- fruit loved of boyhood! -- the old days re-

calling, When wood grapes were purpling and brown

nuts were falling! When wild, ugly faces we carved in the skin, Glaring out through the dark with a candle

within! When we laughed round the corn-heap, with

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Painted Windows
Elia W. Peattie

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