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HOLIDAYS AND HOLY DAYS
T was Saturday morning. Little Elizabeth Brown sat by a
window in the big kitchen, hemming a tiny pink dress for a
doll she was making for her little sister Hope.
On the chair beside her lay the doll, though you might not
have thought of calling it a doll. It did not have curly
hair and eyes that open and shut, or even a jointed body,
and no amount of pinching or squeezing could make it cry. In
those days no child had dolls like ours. Hope's doll was
made of a corncob, and the face was painted on a piece of
white linen stretched over a little ball of wool on the end
of the cob.
When the last neat little stitches were taken, Elizabeth
dressed the doll in the pink gown and the tiny blue
sunbonnet which Aunt Faith had made for it. Then she folded
a small white kerchief about its neck, and when Hope awoke
all rosy and smiling from her nap, there lay the little lady
on the bed beside her.
Could any child have been happier than was Hope with her
first doll! What did it matter that its body was a corncob
and its face a bit of white cloth? It was a perfectly
beautiful doll to Hope. She called it Mary Ellen and carried
it about with her wherever she went.
"It was a perfectly beautiful doll to Hope"
 In another room their mother was looking over the clothes to
be worn to meeting the next day.
When the last button was sewed on and the clothes were well
brushed, she laid them out on chairs, ready to be put on on
Nothing that could be done on Saturday was ever left over
until Sunday. Even the potatoes were peeled, and the meat
for Sunday's dinner was cooked on Saturday.
About noon shouts were heard outside, and down the hill came
a merry group of boys with axes over their shoulders. They
had been cutting wood in the forest all the morning.
As they passed the window where Elizabeth sat darning
stockings, they called to her, "Come to the hill this
afternoon. The ice is frozen on the pond, and we can coast
down the long hill and away across the ice."
It took Hope some time to decide whether she would rather go
coasting or stay at home and play with Mary Ellen. But Aunt
Faith thought even doll babies ought to have naps sometimes,
so Mary Ellen was rocked to sleep and warmly covered in
Hope's little bed.
Then Elizabeth and Hope took their clumsy wooden sled and
went to the hill. Many boys and girls of the village were
already flying down
 the long, smooth track. The air rang with their merry
"Elizabeth and Hope took their . . . sled and went to the hill!"
All too soon they heard the boom! boom! of the sunset gun.
The happy holiday was at an end.
"What a pity it gets dark so early in the winter, when we
want to coast," they sighed, as they started toward home.
For the Puritans the Sabbath began at sunset on Saturday,
and no child might play after the sunset gun was heard. The
evening was spent in reading the Bible and learning verses
When the children reached home, Hope ran to her bed to get
Mary Ellen. Presently her mother came in and said, "This is
the Sabbath now, Hope. You must not play with your doll on
So Hope kissed her baby and carried it into the bedroom to
find a safe warm place for it to stay until the next
evening. There lay her father's Sunday coat; what cozier
nest could she find for Mary Ellen than its big pocket?
Early Sunday morning, Mistress Brown came to the children's
bed and awakened them. "Get up, little girls," she said.
"This is the Lord's Day and we must not waste it in bed."
After breakfast the family had prayers, after which they did
such work as must be done, and then dressed for meeting.
Master Brown filled the little tin foot stove with hot coals
from the hearth. Then he took down
 his gun from its hook and looked to see that it was ready
for use. In those days no man went anywhere
without his gun,—not even to church, for
the Indians were likely to come at any time.
Is that a call to arms? Are the Indians about? Oh, no, that
is only the drummer calling the people to church.
There were no bells on the first meetinghouses in New
England. Sometimes the firing of a gun was the call to
worship. More often a big drum, beaten on the steps of the
meetinghouse, told the people it was time to come together.
At the sound of the drum Master Brown and his wife, with
Elizabeth, Hope, and Aunt Faith, started to church. From
every house in the village came men, women, and children.
They were always ready when the drum began to beat. It was
not the custom to be late to meeting and as for staying away
one had to be very ill indeed to do that.
"From every house in the village came men,
women, and children"
Elizabeth saw her dear friend, Mary, just ahead of her. Do
you suppose she skipped along to speak to her, or walked to
meeting by her side? No, indeed. "The Sabbath day is not the
time for light talk," her mother told her.
When the meetinghouse was reached, Master Brown led his
family to their pew. He opened a little door to let them in.
The pew was much like a large box with seats around the
 The church was very cold, for there was no fire; but the
children warmed their toes and fingers by the queer little
foot stove their father had brought from home.
The boys were not allowed to sit with their
parents. They all sat together at one side of the church or
on the pulpit stairs. When all the people were in their
seats, the minister climbed the steps to his high pulpit.
 Only a very few people had hymn books. The minister read two
lines of the hymn and they all sang them to some well-known
tune. Then he read two more lines, and all sang them, and
so on until they had sung all the verses.
The sermon was always very long, three hours at the least.
The children could not understand what it was all about, and
it was very hard for them to sit up and listen quietly.
Elizabeth was four years older than Hope, so she felt quite
like a little woman. She sat up
beside her mother and looked at the minister almost all the
time. But sometimes she had to wink hard to keep awake.
A colonial foot stove
When she thought she could not hang her feet down another
minute she would slip on to the foot-stool to rest.
But she was often much ashamed of Hope. Poor little Hope
could not sit still ten minutes.
Hope enjoyed singing the hymns. She stood up on the
footstool at her father's side and sang with all her might.
Then she sat down and tried
 to listen to the sermon. When she began to stir about a
little, her mother shook her head at her. She tried to sit
still, but was soon restless again.
Then Aunt Faith gave her a sprig of some sweet, spicy plant.
This kept her quiet for a while, but at last leaves, stems,
and all were eaten. Hope folded her hands and for a few
minutes looked straight at the minister. She was trying hard
to be good.
Presently she began to be sleepy and nestled her head upon
her father's arm, for a nap. But now she felt something in
his pocket she was sure she knew. A happy smile came over
Hope's face. She was wide awake now.
Slipping her hand into the wide pocket, she drew out Mary
Ellen, and smoothed her wrinkled gown.
Master Brown's thoughts were all on the sermon, and even
Mistress Brown did not notice her for a little time. When
she did, what do you suppose she saw? Hope standing up on
the seat, showing her doll to the little girl in the pew
Oh, oh, how ashamed her mother was! She pulled her little
daughter down quickly and whispered, "Do you want the
tithingman to come with his rod? Well, then, sit down and
listen." Then taking Mary Ellen, she slipped her into her
 Little Hope did sit down and listen. She did not even turn
around when the kind lady behind them dropped a peppermint
over the high-backed pew for her.
Hope was very much afraid of the tithingman, who sat on a
high seat behind the people. He had a long rod with a hard
knob on one end and a squirrel's tail on the other.
When he saw a lady nodding during the sermon, he stepped
around to her pew and tickled her face with the fur end of
the rod. She would waken with a start and be, oh, so
ashamed. She would be very glad the pew had such high sides
to hide her blushing face.
Perhaps you think the boys on the other side of the church
had a good time with no parents near to keep them quiet. But
there was the tithingman again. When he saw a boy
whispering or playing, as children sometimes do when so many
are together, he rapped him on the head with the knob end of
The whispering would stop at once, for the rod often brought
tears and left a headache. But the tithingman and his rod
could not always keep the boys in order. We read that in one
church the boys were fined for cutting the seats with
their knives. In another, whips were placed here and there,
and certain persons chosen to use them when they thought the
boys needed to be punished.
 "What shall we do with our boys?" the fathers often asked
each other. At last some one thought of a plan which worked
very well. What do you suppose it was? Simply this: to let
each little boy sit with his own father and mother.
"They had quite forgotten the tithingman"
Besides keeping the boys from playing and the grown people
from going to sleep, the tithingman must turn the hourglass.
In those days very few people could afford clocks, but every
one could have an hourglass. It took the fine sand just one
 hour to pour from the upper part of the glass through the
tiny hole into the lower part.
When the sand had all run through, the tithingman turned
the glass over and the sand began to tell another hour. When
the glass had been
turned three times, the minister closed the service. Then
the men picked up their muskets and foot stoves, the women
wrapped their long capes more closely about them, and all
Often there was another service in the afternoon. At sunset
the Puritan Sabbath ended. Then the women
brought out their knitting or spinning, or prepared for
Monday's washing and the children were free to play until