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Trial and Triumph   By: (1825-1911)

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Transcriber's Note: This document is the text of Trial and Triumph. Any bracketed notations such as [?], and those inserting letters or other comments are from the original text.

Transcriber's Note About the Author: Francis Ellen Watkins Harper (1825 1911) was born to free parents in Baltimore, Maryland. Orphaned at three, she was raised by her uncle, a teacher and radical advocate for civil rights. She attended the Academy for Negro Youth and was educated as a teacher. She became a professional lecturer, activist, suffragette, poet, essayist, novelist, and the author of the first published short story written by an African American. Her work spanned more than sixty years.


A Rediscovered Novel by

Frances E.W. Harper

Edited by Frances Smith Foster

Chapter I

"Oh, that child! She is the very torment of my life. I have been the mother of six children, and all of them put together, never gave me as much trouble as that girl. I don't know what will ever become of her."

"What is the matter now, Aunt Susan? What has Annette been doing?"

"Doing! She is always doing something; everlastingly getting herself into trouble with some of the neighbors. She is the most mischievous and hard headed child I ever saw."

"Well what has she been doing this morning which has so upset you?"

"Why, I sent her to the grocery to have the oil can filled, and after she came back she had not been in the house five minutes before there came such an uproar from Mrs. Larkins', my next door neighbor, that I thought her house was on fire, but "

"Instead of that her tongue was on fire, and I know what that means."

"Yes, that's just it, and I don't wonder. That little minx sitting up there in the corner looking so innocent, stopped to pour oil on her clean steps. Now you know yourself what an aggravating thing that must have been."

"Yes, it must have been, especially as Mrs. Larkins is such a nice housekeeper and takes such pride in having everything neat and nice about her. How did you fix up matters with her."

"I have not fixed them up at all. Mrs. Larkins only knows one cure for bad children, and that is beating them, and she always blames me for spoiling Annette, but I hardly know what to do with her. I've scolded and scolded till my tongue is tired, whipping don't seem to do her a bit of good, and I hate to put her out among strangers for fear that they will not treat her right, for after all she is very near to me. She is my poor, dead Lucy's child. Sometimes when I get so angry with her that I feel as though I could almost shake the life out of her, the thought of her dying mother comes back to me and it seems to me as if I could see her eyes looking so wistfully on the child and turning so trustingly to me and saying, 'Mother, when I am gone won't you take care of Annette, and try to keep her with you?' And then all the anger dies out of me. Poor child! I don't know what is going to become of her when my head is laid low. I'm afraid she is born for trouble. Nobody will ever put up with her as I do. She has such an unhappy disposition. She is not like any of my children ever were."

"Yes. I've often noticed that she does seem different from other children. She never seems light hearted and happy."

"Yes, that is so. She reminds me so of poor Lucy before she was born. She even moans in her sleep like she used to do. It was a dark day when Frank Miller entered my home and Lucy became so taken up with him. It seemed to me as if my poor girl just worshiped him. I did not feel that he was all right, and I tried to warn my dear child of danger, but what could an old woman like me do against him with his handsome looks and oily tongue."

"Yes," said her neighbor soothingly, "you have had a sad time, but still we cannot recall the dead past, and it is the living present with which we have to deal. Annette needs wise guidance, a firm hand and a loving heart to deal with her. To spoil her at home is only to prepare her for misery abroad... Continue reading book >>

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