July 04, 2006

Happy Independence Day

From Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher:
Aunt Abigail laughed, took up the paddle, and after three or four passes the butter was a smooth, yellow ball. "Well, that brings it all back to me!" she said -- "when I was a little girl, when my grandmother first let me try to make a pat. I was about five years old -- my! what a mess I made of it! And I remember -- doesn't it seem funny -- that she laughed and said her Great-aunt Elmira had taught her how to handle butter right here in this very milk room. Let's see, Grandmother was born the year the Declaration of Independence was signed. That's quite a while ago, isn't it? But butter hasn't changed much, I guess, nor little girls either."

Elaizabeth Ann listened to this statement with a very queer, startled expression on her face, as though she hadn't understood the words. Now for a moment she stood staring up in Aunt Abigail's face, and yet not seeing her at all, because she was thinking so hard. She was thinking! "Why! There were real people living when the Declaration fo Independence was signed -- real people, not just history people -- old women teaching little girls how to do things -- right in this very room, on this very floor -- and the Declaration of Independence just signed!"

To tell the honest truth, although she had passed a very good examination in the little book on American history they had studied in school, Elizabeth Ann had never to that moment had any notion that there ever had been really and truly any Delcaration of Independence at all. It had been like the ounce, living only inside her schoolbooks for little girls to be examined about. And now here Aunt Abigail, talking about a butter-pat, had brought it to life!

No comments: