Read CHAPTER IX - MRS. CHASE’S BOTTLE. of Little Grandmother , free online book, by Sophie May, on ReadCentral.com.

You see Patty knew as much about her own little heart as she did about Choctaw.

One Wednesday morning, early in September, Mrs. Lyman stood before the kneading trough, with both arms in dough as far as the elbows.  In the farthest corner of the kitchen sat little Patty, pounding mustard-seed in a mortar.

“Mamma,” said she, “Linda Chase has got a calico gown that’ll stand alone.”

“I’ve heard you tell of that before,” said Mrs. Lyman, taking out a quantity of dough with both hands, putting it on a cabbage-leaf, and patting it into shape like a large ball of butter.  A cabbage-leaf was as good as “a skillet,” she thought, for a loaf of brown bread.

“Did you ever see a gown stand all alone, mother?  Linda says hers does.”

“Poh, it don’t!” said Moses.  “I know better.”

“Then hers told a lie!” exclaimed little Solly.  “George Wash’ton never told a lie.”

“Linda tells the truth,” said Patty; “now, mamma, why don’t my gowns stand alone?”

“I want to be like George Wash’ton,” put in Solly again, pounding with the rolling-pin, “and papa’s got a hatchet; but we don’t have no cherry trees.  I can’t be like George Wash’ton.”

“O, what a noise!  Stop it!” said Moses, tickling little Solly under the arms.

“Mamma, I wish I was as rich as Linda,” said Patty, raising her voice above the din.

A look of pain came into Mrs. Lyman’s eyes.  It was not alone the children’s racket that disturbed her.  She sighed, and turned round to open the door of the brick oven.  The oven had been heated long ago, and Dorcas had taken out the coals.  It was just the time to put in the brown bread, and Mrs. Lyman set the cabbage-leaf loaves on the wooden bread-shovel, and pushed them in as far as they would go.

After this was done she began to mix pie-crust; but not a word had she to say about the gown that would stand alone.

“Now, Patience, you may clean the mortar nicely, and pound me some cinnamon.”

Patty thought her mother could not know how her little arm ached.  Linda Chase didn’t have to pound things; her mother thought she was too small.  Linda’s father had a gold watch with a chain to it, and Linda’s big brother drove two horses, and looked very fine, not at all like George and Silas.  Patty would not have thought of the difference, only she had heard Betsy Gould say that Fred Chase would “turn up his nose at the twins’ striped shirts.”

“Mamma,” said she, beginning again in that teasing tone so trying to mothers, “I have to eat bread and milk and bean porridge, and Linda don’t.  She has nice things all the time.”

“Patience,” said Mrs. Lyman, wearily, “I cannot listen to idle complaints.  Solomon, put down that porringer and go ask Betsey to wash your face.”

“But, mamma,” said Patty, “why can’t I have things like Linda Chase?”

“My little girl must try to be happy in the state in which God has placed her,” said Mrs. Lyman, trimming a pie round the edges.

“But I don’t live in a state,” said Patty, dropping a tear into the cinnamon; “I live in the District of Maine; and I want a gown that’ll stand alo-ne!”

    “It’s half past eight,
    And I can’t afford to wait,”

sang Moses from the south entry.

This was a piece of poetry which always aroused Patty.  Up she sprang, and put on her cape-bonnet to start for school at Mrs. Merrill’s, just round the corner.

“Daughter,” said Mrs. Lyman, in a low voice, as she was going out, “you have a happier home than poor Linda Chase.  Don’t cry for things that little girl has, because, my dear, it is wicked.”

“A happier home than poor Linda Chase!”

Patty was amazed, and did not know what her mother meant; but when she got to school there was Linda in a dimity loose-gown, and Linda said, ­

My mother wants you to come and stay all night with me, if your mother’s willing.”

So Patty went home at noon to ask.  Mrs. Lyman never liked to have Patty gone over night; but the child pleaded so hard that she gave her consent, only Patty must take her knitting-work, and musn’t ask to wear her Sunday clothes.

When she went home with Linda she found Mrs. Chase sitting by the parlor window very grandly dressed.  She kissed Patty, without once looking at Patty’s gingham loose-gown; but her eyes were quite red, as if she had been crying.

“I like to have you come to see Linda,” said she, “for Linda has no little sister, and she feels rather lonesome.”

Then the children went up stairs to see the wonderful calico gown which cost “four and sixpence” a yard, and almost stood alone (that was all Linda had ever said it could do).

Mr. Chase and Fred were both away from home; and Patty was glad, for Mr. Chase was so very polite and stiff, and Fred always talked to her as if she was a baby.  She did not like to go to see Linda when either of them was there.

Mrs. Chase took both the little girls in her lap, and seemed to enjoy hearing their childish prattle.  Patty glanced at the gay rings on the lady’s fingers, and at the pictures on the walls, and wondered why it wasn’t a happy home, and what made Mrs. Chase’s eyes so red.  Then all at once she remembered what Siller Noonin had said:  “O, yes, Mrs. Chase has everything heart can wish, except a bottle to put her tears in.”

Patty did not see why a handkerchief wasn’t just as good; but she could not help looking at Linda’s mother with some curiosity.  If she really had a strong preference for crying into a bottle, why didn’t her rich husband buy her a bottle, a glass one, beautifully shaped, with gold flowers on it, and let her cry into it just as much as she pleased?  He was rich, and he ought to.

When they went to bed in the beautiful chamber that had such pretty furniture, Mrs. Chase kissed them good night, but not in a happy way, like Patty’s mother.

“What makes your ma look so?” said Patty; “has she got the side-ache?”

“No, I guess not,” replied little Linda; “but she says she feels bad round the heart.”

“My ma don’t,” returned Patty, thoughtfully.  “I never heard her say so.”

That was the last Patty knew, till ever so long afterwards, right in the middle of a dream, she heard a great noise.  It was a sound of scuffling, and something being dragged up stairs.  She saw the glimmer of lights, and heard somebody’s voice ­she thought it was Mr. Chase’s ­say, “Look out for his head, George.”

“What is it?” whispered Patty.  “O, what is it?”

Linda covered her face with the sheet, and whispered, trembling all over, ­

“I guess Freddy’s sick.”

“No, no, no,” cried Patty; “hear how loud he talks!”

“O, but he’s very sick,” repeated Linda.

They heard him in the next chamber, kicking against the wall, and saying dreadful words, such as Patty had never heard before ­words which made her shiver all over as if she was cold.

“Is it ’cause he is sick?” said she to Linda.

Linda thought it was.

Next morning, bright and early, Patty had to run home to help Moses turn out the cows; there were nine of them, and it took two, besides the dog Towler, to get them to pasture.  She told her mother what she had heard in the night, and her mother looked very sober; but Rachel spoke up quickly, ­

“I’ll tell you, Patty, what makes Fred Chase have such sick turns; he drinks too much brandy.”

“Yes,” said big brother John; “that fellow keeps a bottle in his room the whole time.”

“Is it his mamma’s bottle?” asked Patty; for it flashed over her all at once that perhaps that was the reason Mrs. Chase didn’t have a bottle to cry into, because Fred kept it up in his room ­full of brandy.

Nobody knew what she meant by asking “if it was his mamma’s bottle;” so no one answered; but Mrs. Lyman said, ­

“You see, Patty, it can’t be very pleasant at Linda’s house, even if she does have calico dresses that stand alone.”

“It don’t quite stand alone, mamma.”

“And I hope you won’t cry again, my daughter, for pretty things like hers.”

“No, I won’t mamma. ­Is that why Linda’s mother ’feels bad round her heart,’ ’cause Freddy drinks out of the bottle?”

“Yes, dear, it makes Mrs. Chase very unhappy.”

“Then I’m sorry, and I won’t ever cry to have things like Linda any more.”

“That is right, my child; that’s right! ­Now, darling, run and help Moses turn out the cows.”