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The Two Altars, Or Two Pictures In One
by [?]

“Gracie–what upon airth !–wipe your nose, child; your hands are frozen. Where alive is Dick?–and what’s kept you out all this time?–and where’s your bonnet?”

Poor Grace, stunned by this cataract of questions, neither wiped her nose nor gave any answer, but sidled up into the warm corner, where grandmamma was knitting, and began quietly rubbing and blowing her fingers, while the tears silently rolled down her cheeks, as the fire made the former ache intolerably.

“Poor little dear!” said grandmamma, taking her hands in hers; “Hitty shan’t scold you. Grandma knows you’ve been a good girl–the wind blew poor Gracie’s bonnet away;” and grandmamma wiped both eyes and nose, and gave her, moreover, a stalk of dried fennel out of her pocket; whereat Grace took heart once more.

“Mother always makes fools of Roxy’s children,” said Mehetabel, puffing zealously under the tea kettle. “There’s a little maple sugar in that saucer up there, mother, if you will keep giving it to her,” she said, still vigorously puffing. “And now, Gracie,” she said, when, after a while, the fire seemed in tolerable order, “will you answer my question? Where is Dick?”

“Gone over in the lot, to get my bonnet.”

“How came your bonnet off?” said Aunt Mehetabel. “I tied it on firm enough.”

“Dick wanted me to take it off for him, to throw up for liberty,” said Grace.

“Throw up for fiddlestick! Just one of Dick’s cut-ups; and you was silly enough to mind him!”

“Why, he put up a flagstaff on the wood pile, and a flag to liberty, you know, that papa’s fighting for,” said Grace, more confidently, as she saw her quiet, blue-eyed mother, who had silently walked into the room during the conversation.

Grace’s mother smiled and said, encouragingly, “And what then?”

“Why, he wanted me to throw up my bonnet and he his cap, and shout for liberty; and then the wind took it and carried it off, and he said I ought not to be sorry if I did lose it–it was an offering to liberty.”

“And so I did,” said Dick, who was standing as straight as a poplar behind the group; “and I heard it in one of father’s letters to mother, that we ought to offer up every thing on the altar of liberty–and so I made an altar of the wood pile.”

“Good boy!” said his mother; “always remember every thing your father writes. He has offered up every thing on the altar of liberty, true enough; and I hope you, son, will live to do the same.”

“Only, if I have the hoods and caps to make,” said Aunt Hitty, “I hope he won’t offer them up every week–that’s all!”

“O! well, Aunt Hitty, I’ve got the hood; let me alone for that. It blew clear over into the Daddy Ward pasture lot, and there stuck on the top of the great rail; and I played that the rail was a fort, and besieged it, and took it.”

“O, yes! you’re always up to taking forts, and any thing else that nobody wants done. I’ll warrant, now, you left Gracie to pick up every blessed one of them chips.”

“Picking up chips is girl’s work,” said Dick; “and taking forts and defending the country is men’s work.”

“And pray, Mister Pomp, how long have you been a man?” said Aunt Hitty.

“If I ain’t a man, I soon shall be; my head is ‘most up to my mother’s shoulder, and I can fire off a gun, too. I tried, the other day, when I was up to the store. Mother, I wish you’d let me clean and load the old gun, so that, if the British should come—-“

“Well, if you are so big and grand, just lift me out that table, sir,” said Aunt Hitty; “for it’s past supper time.”

Dick sprang, and had the table out in a trice, with an abundant clatter, and put up the leaves with quite an air. His mother, with the silent and gliding motion characteristic of her, quietly took out the table cloth and spread it, and began to set the cups and saucers in order, and to put on the plates and knives, while Aunt Hitty bustled about the tea.