The Story Of Kennett by Bayard Taylor

The Story Of Kennett

subjects: Historical Fiction

Description

At noon, on the first Saturday of March, 1796, there was an unusual stir at the old Barton farm–house, just across the creek to the eastward, as you leave Kennett Square by the Philadelphia stage–road. Any gathering of the people at Barton’s was a most rare occurrence; yet, on that day and at that hour, whoever stood upon the porch of the corner house, in the village, could see horsemen approaching by all the four roads which there met.”

Excerpt

Some five or six had already dismounted at the Unicorn Tavern, and were refreshing themselves with stout glasses of “Old Rye,” while their horses, tethered side by side to the pegs in the long hitching–bar, pawed and stamped impatiently. An eye familiar with the ways of the neighborhood might have surmised the nature of the occasion which called so many together, from the appearance and equipment of these horses. They were not heavy animals, with the marks of plough–collars on their broad shoulders, or the hair worn off their rumps by huge breech–straps; but light and clean–limbed, one or two of them showing signs of good blood, and all more carefully groomed than usual.

At noon, on the first Saturday of March, 1796, there was an unusual stir at the old Barton farm–house, just across the creek to the eastward, as you leave Kennett Square by the Philadelphia stage–road. Any gathering of the people at Barton’s was a most rare occurrence; yet, on that day and at that hour, whoever stood upon the porch of the corner house, in the village, could see horsemen approaching by all the four roads which there met. Some five or six had already dismounted at the Unicorn Tavern, and were refreshing themselves with stout glasses of “Old Rye,” while their horses, tethered side by side to the pegs in the long hitching–bar, pawed and stamped impatiently. An eye familiar with the ways of the neighborhood might have surmised the nature of the occasion which called so many together, from the appearance and equipment of these horses. They were not heavy animals, with the marks of plough–collars on their broad shoulders, or the hair worn off their rumps by huge breech–straps; but light and clean–limbed, one or two of them showing signs of good blood, and all more carefully groomed than usual.

Evidently, there was no “vendue” at the Barton farmhouse; neither a funeral, nor a wedding, since male guests seemed to have been exclusively bidden. To be sure, Miss Betsy Lavender had been observed to issue from Dr. Deane’s door, on the opposite side of the way, and turn into the path beyond the blacksmith’s, which led down through the wood and over the creek to Barton’s; but then, Miss Lavender was known to be handy at all times, and capable of doing all things, from laying out a corpse to spicing a wedding–cake. Often self–invited, but always welcome, very few social or domestic events could occur in four townships (East Marlborough, Kennett, Pennsbury, and New–Garden) without her presence; while her knowledge of farms, families, and genealogies extended up to Fallowfield on one side, and over to Birmingham on the other.

It was, therefore, a matter of course, whatever the present occasion might be, that Miss Lavender put on her broad gray beaver hat, and brown stuff cloak, and took the way to Barton’s. The distance could easily be walked in five minutes, and the day was remarkably pleasant for the season. A fortnight of warm, clear weather had extracted the last fang of frost, and there was already green grass in the damp hollows. Bluebirds picked the last year’s berries from the cedar–trees; buds were bursting on the swamp–willows; the alders were hung with tassels, and a powdery crimson bloom began to dust the bare twigs of the maple–trees. All these signs of an early spring Miss Lavender noted as she picked her way down the wooded bank. Once, indeed, she stopped, wet her forefinger with her tongue, and held it pointed in the air. There was very little breeze, but this natural weathercock revealed from what direction it came.