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A Windham Lamb In Boston Town
by [?]

It was one hundred and one years ago in this very month of June, that nine men of the old town of Windham–which lies near the northeast corner of Connecticut–met at the meeting-house door. There was no service that day; the doors were shut, and the bell in the steeple gave no sound.

The town of Windham had appointed the nine men a committee to ask the inhabitants to give from their flocks of sheep as many as they could for the hungry men and women of Boston. Each man of the committee was told at the meeting-house door the district in which he was to gather sheep.

On his stout grey pony sat Ebenezer Devotion. As soon as he heard the eastern portion of the town assigned to him, he gave the signal to his horse, and in five minutes was out of sight over the high hill. In ten minutes he was near the famous Frog pond. As he was passing it by, a voice from the marsh along its bank cried out:

“Where now, so fast, this fine morning, Mr. Devotion?”

“The same to you, Goodwife Elderkin. I know your voice, though I can’t see your face.”

Presently a hand parted the thicket and a woman’s face appeared.

“I’m getting flag-root. It gives a twang to root beer that nothing else will, and the flag hereabout is the twangiest I know of. Stop at the house as you go along and get some beer, won’t you? Mary Ann’s to home.”

“Thank you,” said Mr. Devotion, with a stiff bow. “It’s a little early for beer this morning. I’ll stop as I come this way again. How are your sheep and lambs this year?”

“First rate. Never better.”

“Have you any to part with?”

“Who wants to buy?” and Goodwife Elderkin came out from the thicket to the road-side, eager for gain.

“We don’t sell sheep in Windham this year,” said Mr. Devotion.

“Why, what’s the matter with the man?” thought Mrs. Elderkin, for Ebenezer Devotion liked to drive a good bargain as well as any one of his neighbors. Before she had time to give expression to her surprise, he said with a sharp inclination of his head toward the sun, “We’ve neighbors over yonder, good and true, who wouldn’t sell sheep if we were shut in by ships of war, and hungry, too.”

“What! any news from Boston town?”

“It’s twenty-four days, to-day, since the port was shut up.”

Goodwife Elderkin laughed. Ebenezer Devotion looked grim enough to smother every bit of laughter in New England.

“‘Pears as if king and Parliament really believed that tea was cast away by the men of Boston, now don’t it? ‘stead of every man, woman and child in the country havin’ a hand in it,” said Mrs. Elderkin.

“About the sheep!” replied Mr. Devotion, jerking up his horse’s head from the sweet, pure grass, greening all the road-side.

“Let your pony feed while he can,” she replied. “What about the sheep?”

“How many will you give?”

“How many are you going to give yourself?”

“Twice as many as you will.”

“Do you mean it?”

“I do.”

“Then I’ll give every sheep I own.”

“And how many is that?”

“A couple of dozen or so.”

“Better keep some of them for another time.”

Mrs. Elderkin laughed again. “I’ll say half a dozen then, if a dozen is all you want to give yourself.”

Ebenezer Devotion drew from his wallet a slip of paper and headed his list of names with “Six sheep, from Goodwife Elderkin.”

“Thank you in the name of God Almighty and the country,” he said, solemnly, as he jerked his pony’s head from the grass and rode on.

Mrs. Elderkin watched him as he wound along the pond-side and was lost to sight; then she, chuckling forth the words, “I knew well enough my sheep were safe,” went back to the marsh after flag-root.

When every neighbor feels it a duty to carry intelligence from the last speaker he has met to the next hearer he may meet, news flies fast, so Goodwife Elderkin was prepared for the accost of Mr. Devotion. She did not linger long in the swamp, but, washing her hands free from mud in the water of the pond, walked swiftly home. By the time she reached her house, the gray pony and his rider were two miles away on the road to Canterbury. The cry of hunger and possible starvation in the town of Boston was spreading from village to village and from house to house.