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  • Writer's pictureMj Pettengill

A Place For Children: Excerpt

Mamma told Agnes and me to go outside and play. It wasn’t a place for children. We hurried down the stairs, brushin’ past Moses and Polly as they headed up towards the room. We missed breakfast, but I knew that we could get some fresh milk if we got to the barn in time. So, off we went, quite worn out from the previous events, yet oddly excited as well. We were lucky that there so much commotion inside because the milk was settin’ right there in the pails, not yet collected. We filled our cups and went to the stone wall to drink it up. We weren’t there long when a fine pleasure carriage showed up. It was one of the ones from Wolfeboro, the ones that we didn’t get to see too often. Miss Noyes went out and talked to the driver. Course, we were too far away to know what was said. No sooner had she left when Mamma, surrounded by Moses, Polly, and Doc Gilman approached the carriage. It was no secret that Mamma had the baby in her arms. A woman wearin’ a white smock got out of the carriage and took the baby from Mamma. They all stood together and watched until the carriage was well out of sight. That was the first and last time that anyone at the Farm saw Dolly May’s baby girl. No one ever spoke of her. It was as if it never happened. When I tried to ask questions, Mamma said that she would tell me when I was older. It would have done no good to get into it then. I would just have more questions, and we would never find our way out of it.

I was eager for the day that we could talk. Not only did I have questions about the special door where babies came out into the world, but I couldn’t understand how someone could be forgotten or expected to be forgotten just like that. I saw the baby girl with my own eyes. She had that wrinkled-old-man look like the other babies, but she was all there. How is it that we were to carry on as if she never existed?

I believed in the power of a name. I named all of the animals at the Farm and in the wild. Why should she had been different? I secretly decided that she was Daisy Jane and that I would always remember the day that she came through the secret door and into the world—this world, not the other world beyond the fence where she was taken—and then she was gone. How cruel to think that she ended up out there. I would keep her in my prayers.

After that day, Dolly May stopped tellin’ stories. She smiled no more, and she had very little to say. She did her chores and continued to wear her yellow dress. When I asked her to tell me a story, she said that there were no more stories to tell. It was up to me to find my own stories, and then, she’d turn away.

I missed the old Dolly May. This woman was a shadow of who I once knew. At first, Mamma thought that it would pass. ‘Sometimes it would be months before a woman was right again,’ she said. Mamma’s worries grew when she noticed many small cuts on Dolly May’s arms. And, one day, Bella found her sittin’ in the barn with a kitchen knife, Lord only knew what she was aimin’ to do. Mamma said that nothin’ was so bad that you would take your own life. If you wanted to pass through the gates of Heaven, there were rules.

She spoke of Patience, number 155, one of her dearest numbered friends. Her death was nothin’ more than a waste of a good woman. She could have been alive, growin’ old with Mamma, maybe leavin’ to work in the mills. Accordin’ to Mamma, beneath the layers of dirt, was a true beauty. None of it mattered, and all possibilities died when she did. Anything was better than riggin’ your own noose. ~Samuel J. Hodgdon II ~ June 17, 1878, County Poor Farm ~ Excerpt Etched in Granite Historical Fiction Series - BOOK THREE - COMING SOON


Yes, we've been there, at the Farm. We have been with Abigail, Nellie, Silas, and the others. Now it is time to see through a child's eyes. Where adults perceive that which is full of pain and wickedness, there is another view. Innocence has its place and value.

Etched in Granite Historical Fiction Series - Book Three is told through eyes and heart of a child, not just any child, but a child born of the yellow dress, into a world unlike what lies beyond the fence.

Samuel, Abigail's son, shares his story. We will turn back the hands of time for an unforgettable journey. Love knows no bounds. Mj Pettengill


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