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by [?]

The village of Samaria in the central part of the State of Connecticut resembled the royal city of Israel, after which it was named, in one point only. It was perched upon the top of a hill, encircled by gentle valleys which divided it from an outer ring of hills still more elevated, almost mountainous. But, except this position in the centre of the stage, you would find nothing theatrical or striking about the little New England hill-town: no ivory palaces to draw down the denunciations of a minor prophet, no street of colonnades to girdle the green eminence with its shining pillars, not even a dirty picturesqueness such as now distinguishes the forlorn remnant of the once haughty city of Omri and of Herod.

Neat, proper, reserved, not to say conventional, the Connecticut Samaria concealed its somewhat chilly architectural beauties beneath a veil of feathery elms and round-topped maples. It was not until you had climbed the hill from the clump of houses and shops which had grown up around the railway station,–a place of prosperous ugliness and unabashed modernity,–that you perceived the respectable evidences of what is called in America “an ancient town.” The village green, and perhaps a half dozen of the white wooden houses which fronted it with their prim porticoes, were possibly a little more than a hundred years old. The low farmhouse, which showed its gambrel-roof and square brick chimney a few rods down the northern road, was a relic of colonial days. The stiff white edifice with its pointed steeple, called in irreverent modern phrase the “Congo” church, claimed an equal antiquity; but it had been so often repaired and “improved” to suit the taste of various epochs, that the traces of Sir Christopher Wren in its architecture were quite confused by the admixture of what one might describe as the English Sparrow style.

The other buildings on the green, or within sight of it along the roads north, south, east, and west, had been erected or built-over at different periods, by prosperous inhabitants or returning natives who wished to have a summer cottage in their birth-place. These structures, although irreproachable in their moral aspect, indicated that the development of the builder’s art in Samaria had not followed any known historical scheme, but had been conducted along sporadic lines of imitation, and interrupted at least once by a volcanic outbreak of the style named, for some inscrutable reason, after Queen Anne. On the edges of the hill, looking off in various directions over the encircling vale, and commanding charming views of the rolling ridges which lay beyond, were the houses of the little summer colony of artists, doctors, lawyers and merchants. Two or three were flamboyant, but for the most part they blended rather gently with the landscape, and were of a modesty which gave their owners just ground for pride.

The countenance of the place was placid. It breathed an air of repose and satisfaction, a spirit which when it refers to outward circumstances is called contentment, and when it refers to oneself is called complacency. The Samaritans, in fact, did not think ill of themselves, and of their village they thought exceeding well. There was nothing in its situation, its looks, its customs which they would have wished to alter; and when a slight change came, a new house, a pathway on the other side of the green, an iron fence around the graveyard, a golf-links in addition to the tennis-courts, a bridge-whist afternoon to supplement the croquet club, by an unconscious convention its novelty was swiftly eliminated and in a short time it became one of the “old traditions.” Decidedly a place of peace was Samaria in Connecticut,–a place in which “the struggle for life” and the rivalries and contests of the great outside world were known only by report. Yet, being human, it had its own inward strifes; and of one of these I wish to tell the tale.