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[469] the youngest daughter has fallen asleep, the youngest boy has tried to catch flies, and the rest of her audience have paid some heed. It is now time to close the religious exercises of the Sabbath by reading the Sacred Scriptures and joining in family prayer. This service has the truth and fervor of humble worshippers. Piety and love are laid on the altar; and the concluding Amen testifies to a sabbath spent in the fear of God and the love of man. The father and sons now repair to the barn, and the milking is soon finished. By this time the sun has set; and, as if conscience had set with it, any secular pursuit now seems half allowable. The wood for to-morrow's washing is carried in; the great kettle is filled with water; the kindlings are put in the corner; and every thing is ready for the earliest start. The mother and daughters, who have not dared to wash the breakfast or dinner things while the sun was up, now begin that operation; and then get all the clothes together which must be washed, and put them in soak. The great kettle is now hung on; and it almost seems as if Monday morning had arrived. The eldest son knows it has not, and knows there is a Sunday evening yet to come; and, full of silent thoughts and tender emotions, he slips out, in full dress, at seven o'clock, to “drop in” accidentally at neighbor A.'s, whose blooming daughter of seventeen he likes to look at. If he can get her to go and help him sing at Mr. B.'s for an hour with some of the Sunday choir, why, then what? Any visiting on Sunday evening, except for courting or practising singing by the choir, being positively forbidden, it somehow always happened that the choir would meet on Sunday evening; and there was sure to be a remarkably full attendance! Thus the “singing-school” was the Newport and Saratoga of Meadford. Recreation of some sort every human being must have, if he would thrive. He claims it as Nature's law. Our Puritan Fathers needed recreation to lubricate the joints of life. While they have been singing at Mr. B.'s, the log-hut on the banks of the Mystic has not been without its music. The parents have led, and the children followed, in some of the good old psalm-tunes which have come down from former generations. At half-past 8 o'clock, the candle is put out; and the day of worship and rest has ended to the farmer's family,--except to the eldest son, who, at half-past 9, opens that door which is never fastened, and quietly steals to bed without disturbing the sleepers. His mother heard him, but did not speak.

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Mystick River (Massachusetts, United States) (1)

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