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FRIENDSHIP VILLAGE

BY ZONA GALE

AUTHOR OF "THE LOVES OF PELLEAS AND ETTARRE"


NEW YORK
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
1908

_All rights reserved_

Copyright, 1908,
By THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.


Set up and electrotyped. Published October, 1908.

_Norwood Press
J. S. Cushing Co.--Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A._




To
EDITH, HARRIET, AND MUSA
AND THE TWO FOR WHOM IT COMES TOO LATE
GEORGIA AND HELEN
THIS BOOK IS LOVINGLY INSCRIBED




AUTHOR'S NOTE


Friendship Village is not known to me, nor are any of its people, save
in the comradeship which I offer here. But I commend for occupancy a
sweeter place. For us here the long Caledonia hills, the four rhythmic
spans of the bridge, the nearer river, the island where the first birds
build--these teach our windows the quiet and the opportunity of the
"home town," among the "home people." To those who have such a bond to
cherish I commend the little real home towns, their kindly, brooding
companionship, their doors to an efficiency as intimate as that of fairy
fingers. If there were shrines to these things, we would seek them. The
urgency is to recognize shrines.

Portage, Wisconsin,
September, 1908.

Certain of the following chapters have appeared in _The Outlook, The
Broadway Magazine, The Delineator, Everybody's, and Harper's Monthly
Magazine_. Thanks are due to the editors for their courteous permission
to reprint these chapters.




CONTENTS


I. The Side Door

II. The DÚbut

III. Nobody Sick, Nobody Poor

IV. Covers for Seven

V. The Shadow of Good Things to Come

VI. Stock

VII. The Big Wind

VIII. The Grandma Ladies

IX. Not as the World Giveth

X. Lonesome--I

XI. Lonesome--II

XII. Of the Sky and Some Rosemary

XIII. Top Floor Back

XIV. An Epilogue

XV. The Tea Party

XVI. What is That in thine Hand?

XVII. Put on thy Beautiful Garments

XVIII. In the Wilderness a Cedar

XIX. Herself

XX. The Hidings of Power




Friendship Village




I

THE SIDE DOOR


It is as if Friendship Village were to say:--

"There is no help for it. A telephone line, antique oak chairs, kitchen
cabinets, a new doctor, and the like are upon us. But we shall be
mediŠval directly--we and our improvements. Really, we are so now, if
you know how to look."

And are we not so? We are one long street, rambling from sun to sun,
inheriting traits of the parent country roads which we unite. And we are
cross streets, members of the same family, properly imitative, proving
our ancestorship in a primeval genius for trees, or bursting out in
inexplicable weaknesses of Court-House, Engine-House, Town Hall, and
Telephone Office. Ultimately our stock dwindles out in a slaughter-yard
and a few detached houses of milkmen. The cemetery is delicately put
behind us, under a hill. There is nothing mediŠval in all this, one
would say. But then see how we wear our rue:--

When one of us telephones, she will scrupulously ask for the number, not
the name, for it says so at the top of every page. "Give me one-one,"
she will put it, with an impersonality as fine as if she were calling
for four figures. And Central will answer:--

"Well, I just saw Mis' Holcomb go 'crost the street. I'll call you, if
you want, when she comes back."

Or, "I don't think you better ring the Helmans' just now. They were
awake 'most all night with one o' Mis' Helman's attacks."

Or, "Doctor June's invited to Mis' Sykes's for tea. Shall I give him to
you there?"

The telephone is modern enough. But in our use of it is there not a
flavour as of an Elder Time, to be caught by Them of Many Years from
Now? And already we may catch this flavour, as our Britain
great-great-lady grandmothers, and more, may have been conscious of the
old fashion of sitting in bowers. If only they were conscious like that!
To be sure of it would be to touch their hands in the margins of the
ballad books.

Or we telephone to the Livery Barn and Boarding Stable for the little
blacks, celebrated for their self-control in encounters with the
Proudfits' motor-car. The stable-boy answers that the little blacks are
at "the funeral." And after he has gone off to ask his employer what is
in then, the employer, who in his unofficial moments is our neighbour,
our church choir bass, our landlord even, comes and tells us that, after
all, we may have the little blacks, and he himself brings them round at
once,--the same little blacks that we meant all along. And when, quite
naturally, we wonder at the boy's version, we learn: "Oh, why, the
blacks was standin' just acrost the street, waitin' at the church door,
hitched to the hearse. I took 'em out an' put in the bays. I says to
myself: 'The corp won't care.'" Someway the Proudfits' car and the
stable telephone must themselves have slipped from modernity to old
fashion before that incident shall quite come into its own.

So it is with certain of our domestic ways. For example, Mis' Postmaster
Sykes--in Friendship Village every woman assumes for given name the
employment of her husband--has some fine modern china and much solid
silver in extremely good taste, so much, indeed, that she is wont to
confess to having cleaned forty, or sixty, or seventy-five
pieces--"seventy-five pieces of solid silver have I cleaned this
morning. You can say what you want to, nice things are a _rill_ care."
Yet--surely this is the proper conjunction--Mis' Sykes is currently
reported to rise in the night preceding the days of her house cleaning,
and to take her carpets out in the back yard, and there softly to sweep
and sweep them so that, at their official cleaning next day, the
neighbours may witness how little dirt is whipped out on the line. Ought
she not to have old-fashioned silver and egg-shell china and drop-leaf
mahogany to fit the practice? Instead of daisy and wild-rose patterns in
"solid," and art curtains, and mission chairs, and a white-enamelled
refrigerator, and a gas range.

We have the latest funeral equipment,--black broadcloth-covered
supports, a coffin carriage for up-and-down the aisles, natural palms to
order, and the pulleys to "let them down slow"; and yet our individual
funeral capacity has been such that we can tell what every woman who has
died in Friendship for years has "done without": Mis' Grocer Stew, her
of all folks, had done without new-style flat-irons; Mis' Worth had used
the bread pan to wash dishes in; Mis' Jeweller Sprague--the _first_ Mis'
Sprague--had had only six bread and butter knives, her that could get
wholesale too.... And we have little maid-servants who answer our bells
in caps and trays, so to say; but this savour of jestership is
authentic, for any one of them is likely to do as of late did Mis'
Holcomb-that-was-Mame-Bliss's maid,--answer, at dinner-with-guests, that
there were no more mashed potatoes, "_or else_, there won't be any left
to warm up for your breakfasts." ... And though we have our daily
newspaper, receiving Associated Press service, yet, as Mis' Amanda
Toplady observed, it is "only _very_ lately that they have mentioned in
the _Daily_ the birth of a child, or anything that had anything of a
_tang_ to it."

We put new wine in old bottles, but also we use new bottles to hold our
old wine. For, consider the name of our main street: is this Main or
Clark or Cook or Grand Street, according to the register of the main
streets of towns? Instead, for its half-mile of village life, the Plank
Road, macadamized and arc-lighted, is called Daphne Street. Daphne
Street! I love to wonder why. Did our dear Doctor June's father name it
when he set the five hundred elms and oaks which glorify us? Or did
Daphne herself take this way on the day of her flight, so that when they
came to draught the town, they recognized that it _was_ Daphne Street,
and so were spared the trouble of naming it? Or did the Future
anonymously toss us back the suggestion, thrifty of some day of her own
when she might remember us and say, "_Daphne Street!_" Already some of
us smile with a secret nod at something when we direct a stranger, "You
will find the Telegraph and Cable Office two blocks down, on Daphne
Street." "The Commercial Travellers' House, the Abigail Arnold Home
Bakery, the Post-office and Armoury are in the same block on Daphne
Street." Or, "The Electric Light Office is at the corner of Dunn and
Daphne." It is not wonderful that Daphne herself, foreseeing these
things, did not stay, but lifted her laurels somewhat nearer
Tempe,--although there are those of us who like to fancy that she is
here all the time in our Daphne-street magic: the fire bell, the tulip
beds, and the twilight bonfires. For how else, in all reason, has the
name persisted?

Of late a new doctor has appeared--one may say, has abounded: a surgeon
who, such is his zeal, will almost perform an operation over the
telephone and, we have come somewhat cynically to believe, would prefer
doing so to not operating at all. As Calliope Marsh puts it:--

"He is great on operations, that little doctor. Let him go into any
house, an' some o' the family, seems though, has to be operated on,
usually inside o' twelve hours. It'll get so that as soon as he strikes
the front porch, they'll commence sterilizin' water. I donno but some'll
go an' put on the tea-kettle if they even see him drive past."

_Why_ within twelve hours, we wonder when we hear the edict? Why never
fourteen hours, or six? How does it happen that no matter at what stage
of the malady the new doctor is called, the patient always has to be
operated on within twelve hours? Is it that everybody has a bunch and
goes about not knowing it until he appears? Or is he a kind of basanite
for bunches, and do they come out on us at the sight of him? There are
those of us who almost hesitate to take his hand, fearing that he will
fix us with his eye, point somewhere about, and tell us, "Within twelve
hours, _if_ you want your life your own." But in spite of his skill and
his modernity, in our midst there persist those who, in a scientific
night, would die rather than risk our advantages.

Thus the New shoulders the Old, and our transition is still swift enough
to be a spectacle, as was its earlier phase which gave over our Middle
West to cabins and plough horses, with a tendency away from wigwams and
bob-whites.



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