The Cedar Chest

(Pages 15 and 16 in the diary are missing. This story is titled The Cedar Chest in the table of contents. I will start on page 17 in the middle of the story.)

Whatever, but so clean and white. ‘Yes, there is a bear rug in front of the fire place, a braided rug also in front of the old fasion bureau. There are two or three old rocking chairs, padded and covered with gay calico, and a scattering of straight back chairs. The walls of the room are plastered and are left unadorned save for a picture or two of some relative. A bedroom is off this sitting room, but it’s Aunt Agnes’ room and a place Rebecca rarely even entered. The stairway also opens off the sitting room.

Now coint: back out on the narrow front porch. There is another front door. We will enter this and find ourselves in a great big kitchen. To be sure, there is a connecting door between the kitchen and the sitting room, but the door is nearly always closed for the sitting room is rarely used—only when the preacher came or someone like that, and often not then.

The kitchen was the main room of the house. On the side toward the living room is a great old fire place and its accompanying brick oven. I have tried to see that brick oven where the mince pies, the pumpkin pies and the lovely bread was baked. Rebecca use to talk about but it all seems very vague to me. I can see the fire place though, can’t you? With its big black iron kettles so closely covered least cinders from the fire get in. I see also the old black iron tea kettle. I don’t know just how they got those kettles off the fire and I don’t understand just how they managed to fry their pork etc., but they had a way.

Well near the fire place was a big work bench, a flour barrel, a cupboard. Near the center of the room was a large heavy dining table. No, it wasn’t an extension table according to our ideas, but it had a way of enlarging by lifting leaves. There were plenty of hard wood kitchen chairs, and the spinning wheel and loom must not be forgotten. They were surely all important, for the family must be clothed as well as fed.

A fine flock of sheep pastured on the back lot of Grandfather’s farm, and from those sheep came the wool that furnished nearly all the clothing of the family. Aunt Agnes carded the wool, spun the yarn, and wove the home spun.

Now Grandfather’s bed was practically in this great old kitchen, past the fire place and in sort of a recess stood his big old fasion bed.

When little Rebecca Ann first came to Grandfather’s home, it was he who gave the care naturally given by a woman. It was he who cuddled the little one in his arms and sang the lullabys. He very likely was thinking of another baby girl and of a time when his own dear wife sat by the fireside and hushed baby Susan to dream land.

It was Grandfather who took off the sturdy little shoes and found the Wool stockings were wet and he who said, “Lord bless my soul and body, Becca will be sick, her feet are wet, Agnes.”

Well, when she was five years old, Grandfather told the little girl she was quite a little woman now and she must have a room all to herself and go up each night all by herself and go up each night all by herself and go to bed. The first night he lit her candle for her himself and went up with her. He stayed untill she was in bed. Then blew out the candle and left the little girl alone. She cried softly to herself and wished and wished she had a mamma. A really truely mamma of her own.

There wasn’t a thing pretty in P,’hecca Ann’s room except the little girl herself. There were to large beds in the rou:o. –very comfortoi de it is true. There wasn’t even one chair or stand or loo. idng glass—just the bed and the ceder chest. She placed her candle on the chest. She sat on the floor to dress and undress her feet, but she grew to be a strong, healthy, fine looking girl for all that.

She had no playmate in her home and very few if any play things. But she did have a lovely shepherd dog and with him she had many a merry romp. She also made pets of the little lambs and the new bossies. She cuddled the little chickens in her hands, also the little ducks and geese.

It wasn’t Yell for her if Aunt Agnes found her fondeling these later. No, she never was whipped, never but once did she receive ever a switching from anyone and this time it was a married uncle who gave her the switching.

The little red school house was just a mile from Grandfather’s house. A group of happy school children passed each day going to school and oh how Rebecca wanted to go along. One day after they had passed, she followed them.

School was called when she arrived and she went timidly in and sat by a little girl on the hard wooden bench. She ‘sas missed at home and every one looked every where for her, even Aunt Agnes went running about calling excitedly, “Becca Ann! Becca Ann!” Grandfather cried and said “Lord, bless my soul and body.” Finally Uncle William, who was there at the time, remembered seeing the child watching the passing school children and he started for the little red school house. Sure enough, upon inquiry, he found the little truent. He took her by the hand and led her down the road. Coming to a hush, he cut a nice tingeling switch, and he switched the little bare legs as Becca ran for •ome.

She was a healthy little girl and was soon allowed to go to school each day. One little girl soon became her especial playmate. Little Mary 1’hite was tall for her age and was pale and thin, but she loved little Rebecca and Rebecca loved her. So at last our little girl had someone to love her besides her grizzled old grandfather.

Mary came to stay all night with Rebecca, and how gayly they went up the stairs and set the candle on the ceder chest. Then sat down on the floor laughing and talking. Now they blow out the light and jump into bed. Two happy little girls.

Now Rebecca goes to stay all night with Mary. Mr. White takes both little girls on his knees and tells them stories. Then when they go to bed Mamma White goes along. The bedroom isn’t so very different than Rebecca Ann’s own at home, only there is a stand for the candle, and on it are a few pretty things. But Mamma White lingers untill the little girls undress. *Then kneels by the bedside with her arm around Marv. Rebecca drops on her knees also and prays.

Oh yes, Rebecca was taught at home to pray. Old Grandfather read the Bible and prayed and Rebecca was taught by him to pray, but no gentle mother or any other woman ever went with her to her room. They get in the bed and Mamma White kisses and pats them both and tucks them in.

Mary commences to chatter and talk but Rebecca is very still. Finally Mary says, “What’s the matter?” and Rebecca bursts into tears and says, “Oh, I haven’t any mamma. I haven’t any mamma. No one loves me, only just Grandpa.”

“Yes”, says Mary, “They do too. I love you a whole lot and so does my mamma. NIL’ mamma says you are the nicest little girl there is except me.”

Nearly every one goes to church in that community in those clays. The Friends meeting house was not far from Grandfather’s house. Here there were services every 8two weeks on Sunday mornings. The Presbyterians had services there every other Sunday and the old fashion Ntethodist had services Sunday evenings, and every once in a while had a revival meeting.

Grandfather Osterhouse was a ‘’erv hospitable man and Aunt Agnes was a good cook. All the ministers were made welcome at their home.

There was another large room upstairs besides the one Rebecca ocuppied. It was furnished the same, only having three great comfortable beds instead of hvo. Ministers travel long distances in those days and were seldom accompanied hy their wives. This big room was the hired man’s room and guest chamber in one. It did have a chair and a stand and wash bowl and pitcher.

Now our Rebecca Ann was as tall as ever she was when she was 14 years old. She had never been made to work, for Aunt Agnes was well herself, and did not need her help and would tell her to run along and get out of the way. Very often she did and where she went was often to the cemetarv which was only down the road a way. She knew where her mother’s grave was and here she would go and weep and pray. But as she thought her prayers were unanswered she came to accept the belief Grandfather taught, that some were born to be lost—some the elect to be saved. She kept it all to herself that she believed herself one to be lost.

She heard the Friends preach Christ died for all mankind. She heard the Methodist preach whosover will let him come, but Grandfather talked John Calvin doctrine in his home. She had reasons to love Grandfather best of all and she acepted his teachings.

Well, even though she was in a way not taught to work, she was ambitious and as she grew older, she insisted in getting in Aunt Agnes’ way, and from seeing her do things, learn how to do them herself. She attempted her first washing when Aunt Agnes was called away from home to care for the sick, and that good lady was greatly surprised when she came in sight of home to find the line full of clean cloths.

Just so she attempted the spinning—but if Aunt File’ had not happened along, she would have been in a mess she cOuld not get out of. Aunt Filey was a Friends, and when she came in the kitchen and saw the tangled wool, she said, “Becca, Becca! What is thee doing. Thee will ruin thy Aunt’s wool.” Becc,a burst into tears and said, “Mary White can spin and even weave and so can all the other girls and I don’t know anything.” Aunt Files’ then set to work to untangle the wool and took pains to show the ambitious girl how to spin. She had some idea of course before this from seeing it done so often there in their own kitchen and others where she called. When Aunt Agnes came home she was shocked to hear the spinning wheel running merrily. Thus Rebecca learned how to spin, how to weave, and many other useful things.