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Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1824], Hobomok (Cummings, Hilliard & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf041].
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I would not wish
Any companion in the world but you;
Nor can imagination form a shape,
Beside yourself, to like of.

Notwithstanding her increase of avocations, and
the many wearisome nights she had spent in tending
the sick who had come among them, there was no one
more heartily rejoiced at the new order of things than
Sally Oldham, whom I find mentioned in the manuscript
as “a promp and jolly damsell, much given to
lightnesse of speeche, but withal virtuous.” The merry
maiden, amid all the labours and privations necessarily
attendant upon their lonely situation at Plymouth,
had found means to put on the airs of rustic coquetry
with considerable success; and therefore she
had felt no little regret when her father's passionate

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and unjustifiable conduct toward the ruling elders, had
subjected him to the shameful punishment referred to
in the first chapter, and driven his family from their
comparatively comfortable home. Her only consolation
during this period was in recounting to Mary
the numerous acts of gallantry she had received from
her Plymouth lovers. The young man whom she had
seen upon the beach, on the morning of the 28th, had
a kinder remembrance than all his competitors; and
when she heard that he had walked from Plymouth,
with Hobomok for his guide, in the true spirit of female
vanity, she judged that nothing but her own
pretty face was the object of his journey. Still it
seemed she had some fears about his diffidence, for
when she had taken her milking-pail and quietly seated
herself beside the miserable pile of logs and
boughs, which she dignified with the name of a cow-house,
she muttered to herself, “I wish Collier was a
little easier to take a hint.” Her cogitations were interrupted
by a well known voice, which had become
associated in Sally's mind with nought but “the crackling
of thorns.” “What brought you hither, Mr.
Graves?” inquired the maiden.

“I thought,” replied he, as he stood scratching his
head with one hand, and holding out the other in
token of amity, “I thought, may be, you'd repent
your rashness this morning, inasmuch as husbands
don't grow on every tree in these deserts.”

Notwithstanding this cogent argument, well backed
with humble gestures, the offered peace was rejected;
and his clammy hand remained awkwardly upraised
in the air, like the quivering claw of a dying lobster.

“I tell you sir,” rejoined the angry damsel, “that
I am weary of your unsavory discourse; and if husbands
like you, grew by hundreds on the lowest
boughs of the trees, they might stay there till doomsday
before I'd stop to pluck 'em therefrom.”

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“But you'll let me take the milk across for you,”
continued the persevering suitor, as she stept upon a
narrow board that was laid across a deep ditch. Sally,
in the wickedness of her heart, held out the pail to
him; but just as he was in the act of taking it, she
managed by a gentle motion, to place him ancle-deep
in the mud below; then turning round for an instant,
with a loud and provoking laugh, she soon disappeared.

As Mr. Graves rose, and struck off the mud from
his clothes, he murmured, “It is plain she is given
over to a reprobate mind;” and it was noticed he never
afterwards darkened Mr. Oldham's dwelling.

To Sally the day seemed to pass tardily away, for
she had predicted, that the evening would bring a
visit from Mr. Collier; and accordingly the manuscript
states, that “the curtains of nighte were but
halfe shut, when he seated himselfe beside Mr. Oldham,
who was turning down many a dropp of the bottell,
and burning tobacco with all the ease he could,
discoursing between whiles of the dolorous beginning
of the settlement, when their cups of beer ran as small
as water in a sandie landie, and they were forced to
lengthene out their own foode with acorns; and anon
talking of the greate progress they would make with
their fellowe labourers, now the summer sun had
changed the earth's white-furred gowne into a green

“I must say,” observed the young man, “that it is
a bosom-breaking thing to me, when I think the gulf
atween us and old England is too wide to leap over
with a lope-staff. I am the last who would put my
hand to the plough, and then look back; but I must
say, could I have cast up, in the beginning, what this
wilderness work would have cost us, I should have
been staggered much, and very hardly have set sail.”

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“Why, to my thinking, Mr. Collier,” replied Oldham,
“England is no place now-a-days for christian
folks to live within. They talk about their reformed
church, but I tell you their bishops, their deans, and
their deacons, are all whelps from the Roman litter;
and tame 'em as you can, the nature of the beast will
shew itself. It is a sad pity that king Charles (I mean
no disrespect to his majesty) should suffer those black
coats from the ninneversities to get upon his royal
back—I trow they'll ride him to destruction. But, as
I was saying, England is full of malignant enemies to
the true faith; and after all, a body can as pithily
practise the two great precepts of the gospel in this, as
well as in any other place; which precepts I take to
be mortification and sanctification.”

“Nobody can doubt there is room enough to practise
the first, father,” interrupted Sally, who had all
along been quietly knitting in the corner, and who had
begun to be weary of such sober discourse.

“You talk like a prating ideot, as you are,” replied
her father, furiously. “What with your own hankering
after French gew-gaws, and the grand stories of
your Moabitish companion, you have your head clean
turned from sound sense and sober godliness.”

“You know, Goodman,” rejoined his wife, “that
howsomever gracious and obedient our children may
be, there have been no small hardships during our sojourning
here, both for their young hearts and limbs
too. Besides, Sally is included in the covenant with
her parents, and to my mind, no member of Christ's
body should be wrested from his church by harsh

“You utter the sayings of a foolish woman,” answered
her angry spouse. “I'm far from being clear
whether the covenant we entered into is binding.
Them ruling elders there at Plymouth, brought an

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abundance of pragmatical zeal, and rigid separation
from the Netherlands. They've clapped a vizor on
their own traditions, and placed them cheek-by-jowl
with revealed truth; and many an honest man will
be puzzled to distinguish 'em therefrom. And still
more am I in the dark whether this stray imp, laughing
with every idle fellow she meets, (the better for
her that she meets few of them)”—Just at that moment,
recollecting the discomfiture of Mr. Graves, his
natural propensity to fun overcame his resentment,
and he placed both his hands upon his sides, and burst
into a broad laugh. The look of surprise which his wife
and Mr. Collier glanced towards him, and the drollery
which was peeping out of the corners of Sally's
mouth, recalled him to decorum; and looking towards
his daughter with an expression that seemed to say,
“You'd no right to understand me,” he passed his
hand over his face and resumed, “I say, I am much
in the dark whether she be implied in the covenant
with us. It is not every child of a righteous man who
is among the elect; nor is the offspring of the wicked
always fore-ordained to damnation. If there be a
good child in Jeroboam's family, he is specified; and
if there be a cursed Ham among the children of Noah,
he hath his brand.”

“Well,” Goodman Oldham, interrupted his guest,
“it is not for us to tell who is among the elect, and
who not, forasmuch as we cannot enter into the counsels
of the Most High. And surely when the hearts
of stout men grow faint in this enterprise, we need not
marvel that women, and young women too, should betimes
think of their hardships, and complain thereof.
Jacob was regardful of the weakness of the women
and little ones of his land.”

“I'm sure I never murmured when worst came to

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worst,” said Sally, as she glanced an eye of moist
gratitude on her kind advocate.

“I tell you,” said Mr. Oldham, without noticing her
interruption, “you don't know as much about these
weaker vessels as I do; and mayhap you feel concerning
them as I used to in by-gone times. But I
tell you they are the source of every evil that ever
came into the world. I don't refer in special manner
to that great tree of sin planted by Eve; but I say
they are the individual cause of every branch and
bud from that day downwards. I charge you enter
not into their path, for destruction layeth wait therein.”

“You are one of the last men who should say so,”
answered his companion, as he looked towards his
care-worn and uncomplaining wife.

“She is as good as any of her kind, to be sure,”
said the rigid old man, as he took his tobacco from his
mouth, and drank a hearty draught of cider from the
stone mug; then replacing his tobacco, and drawing
his sleeve across his mouth, he passed the beverage
to Mr. Collier, as he said, “It is a long time since I
have tasted the like of this. It's as good as was ever
tipped over the tongue of king Charles, God help him,
and Satan leave off helping the queen and his bishops.
I'd fain stay and argue with you a bit, Mr. Collier,
inasmuch as I've been told you are falling into
some Antinomian notions; but I must go up to Governor
Endicott's awhile, to see how the cattle are to be
divided atween us; and I must stop to see a few of
the poor sick souls about us. So if you want, you can
draw more upon the cider, and may be my good woman
will give you a bit of bread and cheese. We have
plenty of provisions since the ships were sent hither,
the Lord be thanked.” So saying, the old man took

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down his hat from the wooden peg on which it always
hung, and closed the door after him.

“Mr. Oldham is a strange talking man,” observed
his wife; “but he barks worse than he bites.”

“I know his ways,” answered Mr. Collier. “It is
a pity he strikes fire so quick; but it proveth there is
good metal in him. And now, Sally, I have a present
for you,” continued he, as he placed a letter in her
hand, which she received with blushing curiosity, and
read as follows:

“Deere Maidene,

“This comes to reminde you of one you sometime
knew at Plimouth. One to whome the remembrance
of your comely face and gratious behaviour, hath
proved a very sweete savour. Many times I have
thought to write to you, and straightnesse of time only
hath prevented. There is much to doe at this seasone,
and wee have reason to rejoyce, though with fier
and trembling, that we have wherewithal to worke.

“Forasmuch as it is harde to saye unto a damsell,
wilt thou bee my wife? I have chosene the rather to
place it upon pure white paper, the embleme of your
hearte. Which if you will pleese soe to answer, you
will much oblige your dutyfull servante. For as Jacob
loved Rachelle, and toyled many yeers for her,
so loveth

Your trew freynde,
James Hopkins.

Mrs. Oldham, with a slight tincture of the modern
policy of mothers, had gone out to “neighbour Conant's,”
when Sally first began to read the foregoing;
and luckily she was not there to witness the vexed
and disappointed looks of her daughter.

“I suppose I know the writer,” said Mr. Collier,
smiling as she laid down the paper, “What answer
shall I carry thereto?”

“It is from that screech-owl of a Hopkins, who used

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to be forever bawling Old Hundred in my ears,” replied
the maiden; “and you may say to him that I
have much more kindness for his sheep than for

“Peradventure you are in sport,” said her astonishished
visitor. “You'll find few men in this wilderness
of more respectability than my good friend Hopkins.”

“Well, if he can find a Rachel, assuredly I have
no objection to his toiling for her; but if I should be
very near her, I should verily whisper in her ear to
give him twice a fourteen years' tug.”

“So you are really going to break poor James'
heart?” inquired her friend, after a moment's pause.

“If so be there is such a thing as a heart in his big
carcase of clay,” rejoined the maiden, “I'm willing it
should be shattered a bit.”

“Poor fellow, what will he think of all this?” inquired
the young man, thoughtfully.

“There's divers things he might think,” answered
the damsel, who began to be out of patience with his
stupid modesty. “He might think, if he wanted a wife
again, that she was worth the trouble of coming after;
or peradventure he can send to king James' plantation
and buy one, for a hundred pounds of tobacco.
Think you that Isaac would have had good speed
with the daughter of Bethuel, with all his jewels of
silver and gold, if he had sent by so clever a messenger
as yourself, John?”

If one might judge from the expression of the
young man's face, he did at length begin to have a
faint perception of the truth. An awkward silence
followed, till Sally, struck with the ludicrous situation
of them both, burst into her usual laugh. “I tell you
what, Mr. Collier,” said she, “to my thinking, you are
the stupidest fellow I ever looked upon; and when
you set out upon other men's business, I advise you

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to do it faithfully, but nevertheless to keep an eye
upon your own.”

The young man rested one hand upon his knee,
turned his bright blue eyes and sun-burnt face towards
her, and seemed lost in utter bewilderment.

“But,—hem—but what can I do?” said he.

“I know what you can do; but what you will do,
is of your own choosing. I have heretofore told you
what to say to Hopkins; and I now tell you, John
Collier, if you had sent by him, instead of he by you,
and my father had said to me, `wilt thou go unto this
man?' I should verily have said, `I will go.' ”

“And I,” rejoined the Plymouth messenger, smiling
as he rose and laid his hand upon her shoulder, “I
would assuredly have come out to meet thee, and
bring thee into my tent. But what perplexes me most
is, how I am to account for this to my friend Hopkins
and the church.”

“You may tell James,” replied she, “that you was
blind, till I would put eyes into your head; and as
for the church, it is enough for them to square and
clip our consciences without putting a wedge atwixt
folk's hearts.”

“It is not well to give away to lightness of speech
in speaking of the dignities of the church,” observed
her lover, “though I know well you mean no harm.”

What farther passed between the young people, before
the return of the family, is not specified in the
manuscript; but an asterisk points to the bottom of
the page, where it saith that “the matteer was made
knowne to her parents, wherewithall they were welle
pleased; more especially as they founde he was nott
given to the dreadfull herese of the Antinomians.”

Mr. and Mrs. Oldham returned shortly, at least it
seemed so to those they had left behind. The old
man replaced his hat upon its accustomed peg, drew

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to the fire his large oaken chair, the pride and ornament
of his house, and, after a few discontented remarks
about the intended division of the cattle, he
took down the big Bible from the shelf, which had
been nailed up on purpose for its reception, and read
in a loud monotonous tone the 9th chapter of Romans.
The prayer which followed was in somewhat too harsh
and austere a tone for the voice christian entreaty,
but in that rude place it was impressive in its solemn
simplicity. The family devotions were concluded
with the favourite tune of the great Reformer, in which
the clear, rich, native melody of the daughter, contrasted
finely with the deep, heavy bass of the father.
Soon after, Sally and her mother closed the door
which separated their humble little apartment from
the outer room, leaving Mr. Oldham and his visitor
to discourse about the Antinomians, Anabaptists, and
sundry other sects, which even at that early period
began to trouble the Seceding Church.

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Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880 [1824], Hobomok (Cummings, Hilliard & Co., Boston) [word count] [eaf041].
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