The time so long and eagerly waited forhad come, and Rebecca was a student atWareham. Persons who had enjoyed thesocial bewilderments and advantages of foreigncourts, or had mingled freely in the intellectualcircles of great universities, might not have lookedupon Wareham as an extraordinary experience;but it was as much of an advance upon Riverboroas that village had been upon Sunnybrook Farm.
Rebecca's intention was to complete the fouryears' course in three, as it was felt by all theparties concerned that when she had attained the ripeage of seventeen she must be ready to earn herown living and help in the education of the youngerchildren. While she was wondering how this couldbe successfully accomplished, some of the othergirls were cogitating as to how they could meanderthrough the four years and come out at the endknowing no more than at the beginning. Thiswould seem a difficult, well-nigh an impossible task,but it can be achieved, and has been, at other seatsof learning than modest little Wareham.
Rebecca was to go to and fro on the cars dailyfrom September to Christmas, and then board inWareham during the three coldest months. EmmaJane's parents had always thought that a year ortwo in the Edgewood high school (three miles fromRiverboro) would serve every purpose for theirdaughter and send her into the world with as finean intellectual polish as she could well sustain.
Emma Jane had hitherto heartily concurred inthis opinion, for if there was any one thing thatshe detested it was the learning of lessons. Onebook was as bad as another in her eyes, and shecould have seen the libraries of the world sinkinginto ocean depths and have eaten her dinner cheerfullythe while; but matters assumed a differentcomplexion when she was sent to Edgewood andRebecca to Wareham. She bore it for a week--seven endless days of absence from the belovedobject, whom she could see only in the eveningswhen both were busy with their lessons. Sundayoffered an opportunity to put the matter beforeher father, who proved obdurate. He didn'tbelieve in education and thought she had full enoughalready. He never intended to keep up "blacksmithing"for good when he leased his farm andcame into Riverboro, but proposed to go back toit presently, and by that time Emma Jane wouldhave finished school and would be ready to helpher mother with the dairy work.
Another week passed. Emma Jane pined visiblyand audibly. Her color faded, and her appetite(at table) dwindled almost to nothing.
Her mother alluded plaintively to the fact thatthe Perkinses had a habit of going into declines;that she'd always feared that Emma Jane'scomplexion was too beautiful to be healthy; that somemen would be proud of having an ambitious daughter,and be glad to give her the best advantages;that she feared the daily journeys to Edgewoodwere going to be too much for her own health,and Mr. Perkins would have to hire a boy to driveEmma Jane; and finally that when a girl had sucha passion for learning as Emma Jane, it seemedalmost like wickedness to cross her will.