A Spinner in the Sun (Chapter 5, page 1 of 8)


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Chapter 5

"Araminta," said Miss Mehitable, "go and get your sewing and do your stent."

"Yes, Aunt Hitty," answered the girl, obediently.

Each year, Araminta made a new patchwork quilt. Seven were neatly folded and put away in an old trunk in the attic. The eighth was progressing well, but the young seamstress was becoming sated with quilts. She had never been to school, but Miss Mehitable had taught her all she knew. Unkind critics might have intimated that Araminta had not been taught much, but she could sew nicely, keep house neatly, and write a stilted letter in a queer, old-fashioned hand almost exactly like Miss Mehitable's.

That valiant dame saw no practical use in further knowledge. She was concerned with no books except the Bible and the ancient ledger in which, with painstaking exactness, she kept her household accounts. She deemed it wise, moreover, that Araminta should not know too much.

From a drawer in the high, black-walnut bureau in the upper hall, Araminta drew forth an assortment of red, white, and blue cotton squares and diamonds. This was to be a "patriotic" quilt, made after a famous old pattern which Miss Hitty had selfishly refused to give to any one else, though she had often been asked for it by contemporary ladies of similar interests.

The younger generation was inclined to scout at quilt-making, and needlework heresy was rampant in the neighbourhood. Tatting, crocheting, and knitting were on the wane. An "advanced" woman who had once spent a Summer in the village had spread abroad the delights of Battenberg and raised embroidery. At all of these, Miss Hitty sniffed contemptuously.

"Quilt makin' was good enough for their mas and their grandmas," she said scornfully, "and I reckon it's good enough for anybody else. I've no patience with such things."

Araminta knew that. She had never forgotten the vial of wrath which broke upon her luckless head the day she had timorously suggested making lace as a pleasing change from unending quilts.

She sat now, in a low rocker by the window, with one foot upon a wobbly stool. A marvellous cover, of Aunt Hitty's making, which dated back to her frivolous and girlish days, was underneath. Nobody ever saw it, however, and the gaudy woollen roses blushed unseen. A white linen cover, severely plain, was put upon the footstool every Wednesday and every Saturday, year in and year out.

Unlike most good housewives, Miss Mehitable used her parlour every day in the week. She was obliged to, in fact, for it was the only room in her house, except Mr. Thorpe's, which commanded an unobstructed view of the crossroads. A cover of brown denim protected the carpet, and the chairs were shrouded in shapeless habiliments of cambric and calico. For the rest, however, the room was mildly cheerful, and had a habitable look which was distinctly uncommon in village parlours.

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