Friday, May 30, 2014

JUNE'S VENTURE; January 1907; A Serial Story by "Gay;" Part 4 of 4

At bedtime Mrs. Gresham directed June up to the little room which was to be hers, a dear little nest of a room, so cool and clean. In spite of all the interesting things there were to think about June was asleep at once.

In a few days June felt as if she had always lived in the country. She was quick to follow directions and the little house shone as if its own mistress were about. June loved to get up early in the morning and go down to the little stone spring house and skim the yellow cream for breakfast. She never forgot some fresh flowers for the table to lend a little fragrance to the meal. She loved to be out in the garden hoeing and weeding and on rainy days transplanting little plants. She liked to gather the vegetables and cook them for the meals. She sang as she worked and her cheeks grew round and plump. She soon made bread and butter that Mrs. Gresham said rivaled her own, and that Mr. Gresham said were nearly as good.

June found the days all very full, but she was young and strong and delighted with the work, and never seemed to feel tired. She learned plain sewing, mending and darning, and though she liked the other work better she knew this must be done. Mrs. Gresham gained rapidly, and she was soon able to walk about again. She and June sang and laughed over their work, and each learned from the other. They put up preserves and sauce, until the fruit closet was so full Mrs. Gresham said it would burst, and besides, where would the tomatoes and pickles go? During the harvest June learned to milk; of course it took time, but she kept at it in spite of lame arms and at last grew to be very proficient. When Mrs. Gresham was strong enough they went into the woods and June soon loved the cool darkness of the hemlocks. On Sabbath
mornings the white haired minister always had a message for the girl, and life began for her. As she lay under the leafy boughs Sunday afternoon, gazing up through the leaves into the sky, she began to understand and feel the Divine help and to know that heaven was very near her all the time.

As autumn came there were apples to dry, tomatoes to can and pickles to make, and a hundred things to do to get ready for winter, but June found time for long tramps into the woods, gathering large bunches of asters, goldenrod, and bright leaves to adorn the house.

"Oh, how lovely the world is, and how happy I am," she would sigh.

At last winter came and covered the ground with a deep, soft blanket of snow, but still June enjoyed the country; the snow sparkled and the air was crisp and bracing. In January she received word from her aunt that the bank where the bulk of her  money was placed had failed, and for the present she was going to make her home with her son. "I am sorry for you, Janet," she wrote, "but I see no way to help you. If you had stayed with me I might have found a way. Now, you will have to care for yourself."

June wrote assuring her aunt she was doing well, and there was no need to worry.

The winter passed and glad spring came bringing back the birds and flowers. For the present June was to stay at "The Populars," and whatever the future held for her, she was content in the happy "today."

Sunday, May 25, 2014

JUNE'S VENTURE; January 1907; A Serial Story by "Gay;" Part 3 of 4

"I shall be so glad to have you," confessed Mrs. Gresham, "John, my husband, is so busy, it's hard for him to do it all. And then, housework belongs to women," with a little laugh, "and I can lie here and boss and watch you work. Would you mind getting supper for a surprise for John, when he comes?"

"No indeed, I'd like to if you can tell me how," responded June.

"That will be easy," was the answer, "and may I call you June? it's such a sweet, bright name."

"Oh, I'd love to have you," responded the girl, quickly, "and now, what shall I do?"

"First, you must have an apron, you will find one hanging behind the door, in that little closet. Dear, dear, how queer it seems to be unable to step to my own closet," exclaimed Mrs. Gresham, cheerily.

June found the apron and put it on. "How funny I look," she cried, "all lost in this thing. I never had an apron in all my life."

"We must make you one soon," declared Mrs. Gresham, "but now you can wear one of mine, I am only a little taller than you. Now the first thing is a fire; there are chips in the basket by the stove."

"I never made a fire in a stove," said June, "but I guess I can."

She followed the directions carefully, and after one or two failures, was delighted to hear the wood sputtering and crackling.

"Now, for some potatoes," said Mrs. Gresham. We don't have warm suppers, as a rule, but, the bread is gone, and I know John will enjoy a nice warm supper.

So, carefully following directions, June cooked potatoes, made some nice puffy biscuits and gravy, and brought in from the garden lettuce, radishes and onion. And by the time Mr. Gresham came in everything was in the nicest trim for supper. June liked him at once. He was so kind and bright and took such good care of his wife. Supper was a success and passed off gaily. The table was drawn close to Mrs. Gresham's bed so they could all be together, and roses nodded in from the open window and lent their sweet perfumes to fill the room.

After supper, Mr. Gresham insisted on washing the dishes, for he said June must be tired and they couldn't afford to lose her now they had just found what a treasure she was. June was amazed to see how handily he did the work.

"I think we must bake tomorrow," said Mrs. Gresham, when the supper dishes were put away, "and the bread ought to be set tonight."

"You may proceed with directions," laughed June. "I am ready for them."

"I suppose every housewife prefers her own bread; I know I do," said Mrs. Gresham. "I always use soft yeast that I make myself, you will find it in a glass jar in the spring-house; bring about half a cupful of it, then take three pints of warm water (not too warm or it will scald the yeast), put it in the bread pail that hangs there in the pantry, put in a teaspoonful of salt, stir in all the flour you can and set the pail on the stove pipe shelf until morning."

After this was done Mr. Gresham came in with a glass of new milk. "Here's our best country beverage," he said.

"Oh, how good it is," cried June, "I didn't know milk was so good. The country's the place, isn't it?

"It is, indeed," declared the husband and wife delightedly.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

JUNE'S VENTURE; January 1907; A Serial Story by "Gay," Part 2 of 4

The question that had haunted her was what if her aunt should die or lose her money. What would happen then if she had not learned to do something?

When the train pulled up at Edgewater, June got out feeling strange and lonely. Her gay, independent feelings were gone for the time. What if she really could not find a place? what would she do? She couldn't, she wouldn't go back.

The station was small and dirty and only a few loungers were in sight. There were a few houses near, and all around lay the fields smiling in the early summer sunshine.

June decided to go farther back into the country, so she started down a shady road and soon was out of Edgewater, and with no human habitation in sight. The river flowed by the road on one side, its banks heavily fringed with willows, reflected in the clear water below. The birds sang from the thickets and June drank it all in with a delightful abandon. She sat down presently near a little spring which bubbled into the river, and ate her lunch. She knew that she ought to be on her way, but it was so delightful not to have her aunt remind her of any duty. At last she arose and hurried along the road. Night would soon come, and she did not care to spend it out of doors. Before long she came in sight of a small board house set well back in an apple orchard. Timidly she went up to the front door and knocked. In a few minutes the door was opened a crack and a woman's head appeared.

"We don't buy of agents!" she snapped.

"But I am not an agent," faltered June, her face growing hot.

The door opened wider. "What be you then?" asked the cautious inmate.

"I--I am looking for a place," was the answer.

"Well, we don't want any city servants," snapped the woman; "but, say, "relenting at June's sweet anxious face, "if you really want to work, I bet they'd take you up to Gresham's. She's laid up with a broken leg, and he has all the house work atop his own farm work to do. That's their place up by them Lombardy poplars."

June thanked the woman and started. Her courage seemed gone, why had she come? but pride and an empty pocket book forbade her return. As she drew near to "Gresham's," she was impressed with the well kept farm. The yard full of flowering shrubs and beds of flowers. Roses clambered over the porch, peeping in at the windows, and pansies lifted sweet faces below. It seemed almost like home to June.

In answer to her knock a pleasant voice bade her come in. The girl opened the door into a cheery little room. On a white bed lay a sweet-faced young woman, whom June guessed must be Mrs. Gresham, for she smiled and glanced inquiringly at her.

"Do you want a girl to work? faltered June, "I--I heard you did."

The little lady laughed. "Sit right down and rest and we will talk it over, you look very tired."

Friday, May 16, 2014

JUNE'S VENTURE; January 1907; A Serial Story by "Gay," Part 1 of 4

"I hate it, I hate it!" cried June, throwing down her embroidery defiantly.

Her aunt looked over her glasses in stern disfavor. "What is this, Janet? Do you dare to say to my face you hate the work I select for you? Here I have given you a good home since you were a baby and now you rebel against a little fancy work."

"I want something different to do," burst in the girl, "housework, or something out of doors, away from this everlasting needle."

She knew this would horrify her aunt and it did. But she was not expecting what followed. Her aunt rose and looked at her haughtily.

"I did not ever suppose a niece of mine would wish to demean herself to do a servant's work," she said scornfully. "But you are different, you are not what I expected. Now for a year I forbid your entering my house, go and degrade yourself if you like by any low work you can find. In a year you may come back, if you wish, a more humble girl, I trust. Now, go, take only what is necessary, and do not show me your face for a year."

In a maze June sought her room. Every since she could remember, she had lived with her aunt Ester, now to be sent away.

"But I don't care!" she declared, "I'll go where they call me by my own name that mother gave me, and not stiff Janet, because it's more proper."

Then she quickly put what she needed in a small grip, donned a plain, serviceable dress, her tam and jacket, and going quickly down the stairs, opened the door and was gone.

Meanwhile her aunt was thinking of what she had done. "I may have been too hasty," she soliloquized, "but she will come back in a day or two and beg to be taken home, and really she has grown so boorish lately. Think of her telling Mrs. H. we were obliged to make our own beds, because the chamber maid was sick! Well, she, at least, will get a bit of experience, and she certainly needs it, and a girl of seventeen ought to be able to look out for herself." And she returned to her book.

June went to the nearest railroad station and bought a ticket to Edgewater, a place whose name she had long admired and which was well out of the city. After her ticket was paid for she found she had only fifty cents left. Her monthly allowance was nearly spent and she was too proud to ask Aunt Ester for more. She had already secured a substantial lunch, and she hoped matters would turn out all right, for she felt sure she ought to learn to take care of herself, and not depend on her aunt.

Monday, May 12, 2014


She was a dear old lady and she lived alone with her flowers and birds and a big gray cat. Everyone loved her for her gentle ways and many an act of kindness and yet when we wanted to do something for her, there seemed nothing that we could give her without hurting her pride and so bringing sorrow where we wanted to give joy. Finally the matter was settled and the result was so satisfactory that the story of it is worth passing along.

The minister's wife suggested the plan, and a score of us saw at once how feasible it seemed. We would give the dear one a floral shower, not a shower of flowers exactly, but of plants and seeds and those things which she loved. In order not to duplicate too much we gathered at the parsonage a week before the date set for the shower and when the time came we marched in a body to the dainty little house where we knew our coming would be welcome, each bearing a tiny gift that we felt could not be deemed a charity.
Not all the gifts need be enumerated but each would have proven a delight to any flower-loving heart. A dear old lady bore in triumph a lemon tree almost as tall as the little girl whose gift of a geranium slip was not discouraged. Some of us brought packets of flower seeds, rare ones which we had purchased for our own gardens but which we could duplicate. Some brought a slip from some favorite flower of our own in a pretty pot or jardiniere. Some came with seeds gathered last summer from flower bed or garden and some with a plant from the florist, burdened down with its load of blossoms. The dear old lady was delighted.

Monday, May 5, 2014

HEALTH NOTES; by Dr. Ella S. Webb; 1910

In the early years of The Farmer's Wife magazine, "Health Notes" was a popular column. It was written by the editor, Dr. Ella Webb. She must have been a fascinating woman. Miss Webb, who was also the publisher's older sister, was born in India to Christian missionary parents. She was a "real" medical doctor--an amazing feat for a woman born in 1850. I like her common sense advice and plan to try some of her ideas.
Dr. Ella Susan Webb

A sensation of fatigue is Nature's warning that we need rest.

Fun, frolic and out-door play is the best medicine for children.

Olive oil taken regularly fills out and clears the skin. It should be taken in tablespoonful doses three times daily.

Deep breathing expands the lungs and broadens the chest improving the health and at the same time the figure.

Before the mornings become chilly accustom yourself to a sponge bath in cold salt water. If the vigorous rub with a coarse dry towel after the bath brings a warm glow of reaction the bath will be better than medicine in making and keeping you well.

With the first cold snap there is an impulse with many to close windows and doors. The warm air gained in this way is soon loaded with germs of disease far more dangerous to health than the cold air. Put on warmer clothing and allow free ventilation and exchange of air.

Lemon juice mixed with honey in a large cup of hot water makes a good gargle for a sore throat or a hacking cough.

An over-tired mother cannot make sunshine in the house. Try to take half an hour of complete rest sometime during the afternoon. If you were ill the children would have to get on without you. Leave some things undone while you sleep.

A few simple exercises before going to bed are beneficial to any woman, as they stretch the muscles, relax the nerves and assure a good night's sleep. Devote five minutes to simple movements with arms and legs; such as touching the floor with outstretched hands by bending the body only at the hips, clap hands together above the head, swing them backward far enough to touch, etc. Repeat five times, then exercise with the legs, swaying the body in such a way as to use all the muscles. This makes the circulation of the blood free and clears the complexion.