It was about this time that Rebecca, who had beenreading about the Spartan boy, conceived theidea of some mild form of self-punishment tobe applied on occasions when she was fully convincedin her own mind that it would be salutary.
The immediate cause of the decision was a somewhatsadder accident than was common, even in acareer prolific in such things.
Clad in her best, Rebecca had gone to take teawith the Cobbs; but while crossing the bridge shewas suddenly overcome by the beauty of the riverand leaned over the newly painted rail to feast hereyes on the dashing torrent of the fall. Resting herelbows on the topmost board, and inclining her littlefigure forward in delicious ease, she stood theredreaming.
The river above the dam was a glassy lake withall the loveliness of blue heaven and green shorereflected in its surface; the fall was a swirling wonderof water, ever pouring itself over and over inexhaustiblyin luminous golden gushes that lost themselvesin snowy depths of foam. Sparkling in the sunshine,gleaming under the summer moon, cold and graybeneath a November sky, trickling over the damin some burning July drought, swollen with turbulentpower in some April freshet, how many youngeyes gazed into the mystery and majesty of thefalls along that river, and how many young heartsdreamed out their futures leaning over the bridgerail, seeing "the vision splendid" reflected there andoften, too, watching it fade into "the light ofcommon day."Rebecca never went across the bridge withoutbending over the rail to wonder and to ponder, andat this special moment she was putting the finishingtouches on a poem.
Two maidens by a river strayedDown in the state of Maine.
The one was called Rebecca,The other Emma Jane.
"I would my life were like the stream,"Said her named Emma Jane,"So quiet and so very smooth,So free from every pain.""I'd rather be a little dropIn the great rushing fall!
I would not choose the glassy lake,'T would not suit me at all!"(It was the darker maiden spokeThe words I just have stated,The maidens twain were simply friendsAnd not at all related.)But O! alas I we may not haveThe things we hope to gain;The quiet life may come to me,The rush to Emma Jane!
"I don't like `the rush to Emma Jane,' and Ican't think of anything else. Oh! what a smell ofpaint! Oh! it is ON me! Oh! it's all over my bestdress! Oh I what WILL aunt Miranda say!"With tears of self-reproach streaming from hereyes, Rebecca flew up the hill, sure of sympathy,and hoping against hope for help of some sort.
Mrs. Cobb took in the situation at a glance, andprofessed herself able to remove almost any stainfrom almost any fabric; and in this she wascorroborated by uncle Jerry, who vowed that mothercould git anything out. Sometimes she took thecloth right along with the spot, but she had a surehand, mother had!
The damaged garment was removed and partiallyimmersed in turpentine, while Rebecca graced thefestal board clad in a blue calico wrapper of Mrs.