Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Puritan Doll

The Puritan Doll
Our Puritan fathers, stern and good,
Had never a holiday;
Sober and earnest seemed life to them--
They only stopped working to pray.

And the little Puritan maidens learned
Their catechisms through;
And spun their stints, and wove themselves
Their garments of homely blue.

And they never made merry on Christmas day--
It would savor of Pope and Rome;
And never there was a Christmas-tree
Set up in a Puritan home.

And Christmas eve, in the chimney-place,
There was never a stocking hung;
There never was woven a Christmas wreath,
There was never a carol sung.

Sweet little Ruth, with her flaxen hair
All neatly braided and tied,
Was sitting one old December day
At her pretty young mother's side.

She listened, speaking never a word,
With her serious, thoughtful look,
To the Christmas story her mother read
Out of the good old Book.

"I'll tell thee, Ruth!" her mother cried,
Herself scarce more than a girl,
As she smoothed her little daughter's hair,
Lest it straggle out into a curl,

"If thy stint be spun each day this week,
And thou toil like a busy bee,
A Christmas present on Christmas day
I promise to give to thee."

And then she talked of those merry times
She never could quite forget;
The Christmas cheer, the holly and yule--
She was hardly a Puritan yet.

She talked of those dear old English days,
With tears in her loving eyes,
And little Ruth heard like a Puritan child,
With a quiet though glad surprise.

But nevertheless she thought of her gift,
As much as would any of you,
And busily round, each day of the week,
Her little spinning-wheel flew.

Tired little Ruth! but oh, she thought
She was paid for it after all,
When her mother gave her on Christmas day
A little Puritan doll.

'Twas made of a piece of a homespun sheet,
Dressed in a homespun gown
Cut just like Ruth's, and a little cap
With a stiff white muslin crown.

A primly folded muslin cape--
I don't think one of you all
Would have been so bold as to dare to play
With that dignified Puritan doll.

Dear little Ruth showed her delight
In her queer little quiet way;
She did not say much, but she held her doll
In her arms all Christmas day.

And when at twilight her mother read
That Christmas story o'er,
Happy Ruth took the sweetness of it in
As she never had done before.

And then (she always said "good-night"
When the shadows began to fall)
She was so happy she went to sleep
Still holding her Christmas doll.

by Mary E. Wilkins

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