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The Village Watch-Tower   By: (1856-1923)

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THE VILLAGE WATCH TOWER

by Kate Douglas Wiggin

Dear old apple tree, under whose gnarled branches these stories were written, to you I dedicate the book. My head was so close to you, who can tell from whence the thoughts came? I only know that when all the other trees in the orchard were barren, there were always stories to be found under your branches, and so it is our joint book, dear apple tree. Your pink blossoms have fallen on the page as I wrote; your ruddy fruit has dropped into my lap; the sunshine streamed through your leaves and tipped my pencil with gold. The birds singing in your boughs may have lent a sweet note here and there; and do you remember the day when the gentle shower came? We just curled the closer, and you and I and the sky all cried together while we wrote "The Fore Room Rug."

It should be a lovely book, dear apple tree, but alas! it is not altogether that, because I am not so simple as you, and because I have strayed farther away from the heart of Mother Nature.

KATE DOUGLAS WIGGIN

"Quillcote," Hollis, Maine, August 12, 1895.

CONTENTS.

The Village Watch Tower 1 Tom o' the Blueb'ry Plains 31 The Nooning Tree 55 The Fore Room Rug 95 A Village Stradivarius 123 The Eventful Trip of the Midnight Cry 195

THE VILLAGE WATCH TOWER.

It stood on the gentle slope of a hill, the old gray house, with its weather beaten clapboards and its roof of ragged shingles. It was in the very lap of the road, so that the stage driver could almost knock on the window pane without getting down from his seat, on those rare occasions when he brought "old Mis' Bascom" a parcel from Saco.

Humble and dilapidated as it was, it was almost beautiful in the springtime, when the dandelion dotted turf grew close to the great stone steps; or in the summer, when the famous Bascom elm cast its graceful shadow over the front door. The elm, indeed, was the only object that ever did cast its shadow there. Lucinda Bascom said her "front door 'n' entry never hed ben used except for fun'rals, 'n' she was goin' to keep it nice for that purpose, 'n' not get it all tracked up."

She was sitting now where she had sat for thirty years. Her high backed rocker, with its cushion of copperplate patch and its crocheted tidy, stood always by a southern window that looked out on the river. The river was a sheet of crystal, as it poured over the dam; a rushing, roaring torrent of foaming white, as it swept under the bridge and fought its way between the rocky cliffs beyond, sweeping swirling, eddying, in its narrow channel, pulsing restlessly into the ragged fissures of its shores, and leaping with a tempestuous roar into the Witches' Eel pot, a deep wooded gorge cleft in the very heart of the granite bank.

But Lucinda Bascom could see more than the river from her favorite window. It was a much traveled road, the road that ran past the house on its way from Liberty Village to Milliken's Mills. A tottering old sign board, on a verdant triangle of turf, directed you over Deacon Chute's hill to the "Flag Medder Road," and from thence to Liberty Centre; the little post office and store, where the stage stopped twice a day, was quite within eyeshot; so were the public watering trough, Brigadier Hill, and, behind the ruins of an old mill, the wooded path that led to the Witches' Eel pot, a favorite walk for village lovers. This was all on her side of the river. As for the bridge which knit together the two tiny villages, nobody could pass over that without being seen from the Bascoms'. The rumble of wheels generally brought a family party to the window, Jot Bascom's wife (she that was Diadema Dennett), Jot himself, if he were in the house, little Jot, and grandpa Bascom, who looked at the passers by with a vacant smile parting his thin lips. Old Mrs. Bascom herself did not need the rumble of wheels to tell her that a vehicle was coming, for she could see it fully ten minutes before it reached the bridge, at the very moment it appeared at the crest of Saco Hill, where strangers pulled up their horses, on a clear day, and paused to look at Mount Washington, miles away in the distance... Continue reading book >>




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