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Deacon Pitkin’s Farm
by [?]

Of course you want to know who Diana Pitkin was. It was a general fact about this young lady that anybody who gave one look at her, whether at church or at home, always inquired at once with effusion, “Who is she?”– particularly if the inquirer was one of the masculine gender.

This was to be accounted for by the fact that Miss Diana presented to the first view of the gazer a dazzling combination of pink and white, a flashing pair of black eyes, a ripple of dimples about the prettiest little rosy mouth in the world, and a frequent somewhat saucy laugh, which showed a set of teeth like pearls. Add to this a quick wit, a generous though spicy temper, and a nimble tongue, and you will not wonder that Miss Diana was a marked character at Mapleton, and that the inquiry who she was was one of the most interesting facts of statistical information.

Well, she was Deacon Pitkin’s second cousin, and of course just in that convenient relationship to the Pitkin boys which has all the advantages of cousinship and none of the disadvantages as may be plain to an ordinary observer. For if Miss Diana wished to ride or row or dance with any of the Pitkin boys, why shouldn’t she? Were they not her cousins? But if any of these aforenamed young fellows advanced on the strength of these intimacies a presumptive claim to nearer relationship, why, then Diana was astonished–of course she had regarded them as her cousins! and she was sure she couldn’t think what they could be dreaming of–“A cousin is just like a brother, you know.”

This was just what James Pitkin did not believe in, and now as he is walking over hill and dale from Cambridge College to his father’s house he is gathering up a decided resolution to tell Diana that he is not and will not be to her as a brother–that she must be to him all or nothing. James is the brightest, the tallest, and, the Mapleton girls said, the handsomest of the Pitkin boys. He is a strong-hearted, generous, resolute fellow as ever undertook to walk thirty-five miles home to eat his Thanksgiving dinner.

Biah was, in those far distant times of simplicity a “mute inglorious” newspaper man. Newspapers in those days were as rare and unheard of as steam cars or the telegraph, but Biah had within him all the making of a thriving modern reporter, and no paper to use it on. He was a walking biographical and statistical dictionary of all the affairs of the good folks of Mapleton. He knew every piece of furniture in their houses, and what they gave for it; every foot of land, and what it was worth; every ox, ass and sheep; every man, woman and child in town. And Biah could give pretty shrewd character pictures also, and whoever wanted to inform himself of the status of any person or thing in Mapleton would have done well to have turned the faucet of Biah’s stream of talk, and watched it respectfully as it came, for it was commonly conceded that what Biah Carter didn’t know about Mapleton was hardly worth knowing.

“Putty piece o’ property, this ‘ere farm,” he said, surveying the scene around him with the air of a connoisseur. “None o’ yer stun pastur land where the sheep can’t get their noses down through the rocks without a file to sharpen ’em! Deacon Pitkin did a putty fair stroke o’ business when he swapped off his old place for this ‘ere. That are old place was all swamp land and stun pastur; wa’n’t good for raisin’ nothin’ but juniper bushes and bull frogs. But I tell yeu” preceded Biah, with a shrewd wink, “that are mortgage pinches the deacon; works him like a dose of aloes and picry, it does. Deacon fairly gets lean on’t.”