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The Story of Kennett   By: (1825-1878)

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E text prepared by Charles Aldarondo, Tiffany Vergon, Michelle Shephard, Charles Franks, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

THE STORY OF KENNETT

BY

BAYARD TAYLOR

PROLOGUE.

TO MY FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS OF KENNETT:

I wish to dedicate this Story to you, not only because some of you inhabit the very houses, and till the very fields which I have given to the actors in it, but also because many of you will recognize certain of the latter, and are therefore able to judge whether they are drawn with the simple truth at which I have aimed. You are, naturally, the critics whom I have most cause to fear; but I do not inscribe these pages to you with the design of purchasing your favor. I beg you all to accept the fact as an acknowledgment of the many quiet and happy years I have spent among you; of the genial and pleasant relations into which I was born, and which have never diminished, even when I have returned to you from the farthest ends of the earth; and of the use (often unconsciously to you, I confess,) which I have drawn from your memories of former days, your habits of thought and of life.

I am aware that truth and fiction are so carefully woven together in this Story of Kennett, that you will sometimes be at a loss to disentangle them. The lovely pastoral landscapes which I know by heart, have been copied, field for field and tree for tree, and these you will immediately recognize. Many of you will have no difficulty in detecting the originals of Sandy Flash and Deb. Smith; a few will remember the noble horse which performed the service I have ascribed to Roger; and the descendants of a certain family will not have forgotten some of the pranks of Joe and Jake Fairthorn. Many more than these particulars are drawn from actual sources; but as I have employed them with a strict regard to the purposes of the Story, transferring dates and characters at my pleasure, you will often, I doubt not, attribute to invention that which I owe to family tradition. Herein, I must request that you will allow me to keep my own counsel; for the processes which led to the completed work extend through many previous years, and cannot readily be revealed. I will only say that every custom I have described is true to the time, though some of them are now obsolete; that I have used no peculiar word or phrase of the common dialect of the country which I have not myself heard; and further, that I owe the chief incidents of the last chapter, given to me on her death bed, to the dear and noble woman whose character (not the circumstances of her life) I have endeavored to reproduce in that of Martha Deane.

The country life of our part of Pennsylvania retains more elements of its English origin than that of New England or Virginia. Until within a few years, the conservative influence of the Quakers was so powerful that it continued to shape the habits even of communities whose religious sentiment it failed to reach. Hence, whatever might be selected as incorrect of American life, in its broader sense, in these pages, is nevertheless locally true; and to this, at least, all of you, my Friends and Neighbors, can testify. In these days, when Fiction prefers to deal with abnormal characters and psychological problems more or less exceptional or morbid, the attempt to represent the elements of life in a simple, healthy, pastoral community, has been to me a source of uninterrupted enjoyment. May you read it with half the interest I have felt in writing it!

BAYARD TAYLOR.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I. THE CHASE

CHAPTER II. WHO SHALL HAVE THE BRUSH?

CHAPTER III. MARY POTTER AND HER SON

CHAPTER IV. FORTUNE AND MISFORTUNE

CHAPTER V. GUESTS AT FAIRTHORN'S

CHAPTER VI. THE NEW GILBERT

CHAPTER VII. OLD KENNETT MEETING

CHAPTER VIII. AT DR. DEANE'S

CHAPTER IX. THE RAISING

CHAPTER X. THE RIVALS

CHAPTER XI. GUESTS AT POTTER'S

CHAPTER XII... Continue reading book >>




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