Chapter XLIII. Thanksgiving Day
 

November weather was occasionally so blustering and stormy that I turned schoolmaster in part, to relieve my wife. During the month, however, were bright, genial days, and others softened by a smoky haze, which gave me opportunity to gather and store a large crop of turnips, to trench in my celery on a dry knoll, and to bury, with their heads downward, all the cabbages for which I could not find a good market. The children still gave me some assistance, but, lessons over, they were usually permitted to amuse themselves in their own way. Winnie, however, did not lose her interest in the poultry, and Merton regularly aided in the care of the stock and in looking after the evening supply of fire-wood. I also spent a part of my time in the wood lot, but the main labor there was reserved for December. The chief task of the month was the laying down and covering of the tender raspberries; and in this labor Bagley again gave me his aid.

Thanksgiving Day was celebrated with due observance. In the morning we all heard Dr. Lyman preach, and came home with the feeling that we and the country at large were prosperous. Mr. and Mrs. Jones, with Junior, dined with us in great state, and we had our first four-course dinner since arriving in Maizeville, and at the fashionable hour of six in the evening. I had protested against my wife's purpose of staying at home in the morning, saying we would "browse around during the day and get up appetites, while in the afternoon we could all turn cooks and help her." Merton was excepted, and, after devouring a hasty cold lunch, he and Junior were off with their guns. As for Bobsey, he appeared to browse steadily after church, but seemed in no wise to have exhausted his capacity when at last he attacked his soup, turkey drum-stick, and the climax of a pudding. Our feast was a very informal affair, seasoned with mirth and sauced with hunger. The viands, however, under my wife's skill, would compare with any eaten in the great city, which we never once had regretted leaving. Winifred looked after the transfers from the kitchen at critical moments, while Mousie and Winnie were our waitresses. A royal blaze crackled in the open fireplace, and seemed to share in the sparkle of our rustic wit and unforced mirth, which kept plump Mrs. Jones in a perpetual quiver, like a form of jelly.

Her husband came out strong in his comical resume of the past year's experience, concluding: "Well, we owe you and Mrs. Durham a vote of thanks for reforming the Bagley tribe. That appears to me an orthodox case of convarsion. First we gave him the terrors of the law. Tell yer what it is, we was a-smokin' in wrath around him that mornin', like Mount Sinai, and you had the sense to bring, in the nick of time, the gospel of givin' a feller a chance. It's the best gospel there is, I reckon."

"Well," I replied, becoming thoughtful for a moment with boyish memories, "my good old mother taught me that it was God's plan to give us a chance, and help us make the most of it."

"I remembered the Bagleys to-day," Mrs. Jones remarked, nodding to my wife. "We felt they ought to be encouraged."

"So did we," my wife replied, sotto voce.

We afterward learned that the Bagleys had been provisioned for nearly a month by the good-will of neighbors, who, a short time since, had been ready to take up arms against them.

By eight o'clock everything was cleared away, Mrs. Jones assisting my wife, and showing that she would be hurt if not permitted to do so. Then we all gathered around the glowing hearth, Junior's rat-a- tat-snap! proving that our final course of nuts and cider would be provided in the usual way.

How homely it all was! how free from any attempt at display of style! yet equally free from any trace of vulgarity or ill-natured gossip. Mousie had added grace to the banquet with her blooming plants and dried grasses; and, although the dishes had been set on the table by my wife's and children's hands, they were daintily ornamented and inviting. All had been within our means and accomplished by ourselves; and the following morning brought no regretful thoughts. Our helpful friends went home, feeling that they had not bestowed their kindness on unthankful people whose scheme of life was to get and take, but not to return.