THERE was a little room near the kitchen, in the house where Lucy lived, which was called Joanna's room. It was a very pleasant room, and it had been built on purpose for Joanna. There was only a small entry between this room and the kitchen, and so it was very convenient for her.
Joanna used to go and sit in this room sometimes, in the afternoon, after she had done her work; and here Lucy was very fond of going to see her. Lucy liked to be in Joanna's room, for it was a pleasant place, and she could look out of the window into tile yard and garden. Under the window was a little border which Joanna planted, and which was called Joanna's garden.
One afternoon, Lucy came to this room, and knocked. The door was open, for it was a pleasant summer afternoon, and she could see Joanna sitting at a table, writing. Still she knocked. Her mother had told her that it was always proper to knock when she wished to enter any private room. And Joanna's room was a private room; it belonged to Joanna alone.
At first, Joanna did not notice Lucy, as she was very busy, writing. Presently, however, she looked up and said, " Come in."
Lucy walked in. She had a little hammer in one hand, and in the other she held the corners of her apron, which she had drawn together so as to keep what was in it from falling.
" Joanna," said Lucy, " may I come in here ? "
" Yes," said Joanna, " provided you will not interrupt me."
"Provided?" said Lucy; "what does provided mean ? "
" Provided ? — why, If— If you won't interrupt me."
" Then why don't you say If ? " said Lucy; "it is a great deal easier word."
" I can't tell you now, child," said Joanna. " I am busy. I want to write."
" I wish you would just tell me why you don't say If?" said Lucy, in a low and timid voice.
Joanna did not answer; and so Lucy dropped the corners of her apron, and let all the things that were in it fall down upon the floor. They made a loud, rattling noise. Lucy then sat down by the side of them
" You see, Joanna," said Lucy, " I am going to make a table."
" Very well; make what you like, — only don't disturb me," replied Joanna.
Lucy then began to look over the things which she had thrown down upon the floor. There were several little blocks of wood, some long, and some square and thin. There was also a small, round, wooden box, with a cover. Lucy took off the cover. The box was full of nails; some were small carpet nails; and others were long, but pointed at the end, so that they would drive easily.
Lucy also had a little awl, with a straight but sharp point. Royal made it for her. With this she could make small holes in the wood, wherever she wanted to drive a nail.
" Joanna," said Lucy, " I wish you would just tell me how many legs I must have to my table."
" Four," said Joanna, — " only you must not keep talking to me. I can't possibly write."
" Why, Joanna, Miss Anne can write, even if I do talk to her."
" Very likely," said Joanna; " but Miss Anne and I are different. She can do a great many things that I cannot. At any rate, I can't write while you keep talking to me; so, if you want to stay here, you must amuse yourself, and not speak to me at all."
"Why, suppose it is some very particular word," said Lucy.
" Why, if it is something very special and important," said Joanna, "I suppose you must speak ; but not otherwise."
After this, Lucy was very still for five minute. She took a thin, flat block for the top of her table, and counted out four nails for the legs. She then made holes, with her awl, in the corners of the block, and drove the nails in. She, however, got one in the wrong place, and when she tried to draw it out with the little claw which was in the end of the handle of the hammer, she found that she could not. It was driven in too far.
At length she laid down the hammer and the block, and said, with a sigh, " 0 dear me! "
After waiting a few minutes, not knowing what to do, she took up her table and hammer, and went towards Joanna, slowly and timidly, because she was unwilling to interrupt her writing again; but she did not know what she should do, unless Joanna would draw out the nail for her.
When Lucy came up to Joanna's table, Joanna laid down her pen, and sighed, just as Lucy had done, and said, in exactly the same tone,
"Oh dear me!"
"Why, I can't write. I want to finish my letter, so as to go out and take a walk; and I can't get along, because here is a little girl, who keeps interrupting me all the time."
" Well, Joanna," said Lucy, " I only want to have you get this nail out for me. You said I might speak to you, if it was especial."
Joanna took the hammer and the little table out of Lucy's hand, saying, at the same time,
" I wish, Lucy, you would go out into the kitchen, until I have finished my letter."
" Why, Joanna," said Lucy, " there is not anybody out in the kitchen to take care of me."'
" Well, then," said Joanna, " I will make a bargain with you. As soon as I have finished my letter, I am going out to take a walk, to get some broom-stuff. Now, if you will be perfectly still, and not speak to me once, I will ask your mother to let you go with me."
" Well," said Lucy, very much pleased.
" And I will get you four flowers," said Joanna. " But if you speak to me once while I am writing, I shall only get you three flowers; and so every time you speak you must lose one flower. And if you speak more than four times, then I shall not ask your mother to let you go."
"Well," said Lucy, "I shall not speak once; you may depend."
" We shall see," said Joanna. " I will draw out this nail, and then you may go and sit down; and when we are ready, I shall say, One, two, three, and begin."
So Joanna drew out the nail, then put the little table, and the hammer, and the nail, back into Lucy's hands; and Lucy went back and took her seat upon the floor. When she was fairly seated at her work, Joanna said, in a very deliberate voice,
" One—two—three—and begin."
" 0 Joanna," said Lucy, " there is just one thing before we begin that I want to know; and that is, what broom-stuff is."
" There goes one of your flowers," said Joanna.
"Why, Joanna, I was not ready to begin then," said Lucy, in a complaining tone.
" There goes another."
Lucy was a little vexed to find that Joanna would not answer her in any way, except telling her that she was losing her flowers, and so she was silent. Presently she began to reflect that the agreement had been fairly made, and that, after Joanna had given the signal for beginning, she ought not to have spoken. Still she wanted, very much, to know what broom-stuff was. After thinking of it a moment, she concluded to wait, and ask Joanna when they were taking the walk; and then she resolutely determined that she would not speak a single word again, on any account whatever.
And she did not speak for some time. But when, at length, she got her table finished, she was so much pleased to see how well it would stand, that she wanted very much to ask Joanna to look at it. She would not do it, however, as she knew she should lose another of her flowers. So she sat still, waiting, and wishing that Joanna would come to the end of her letter.
At length she got up softly, and took her table in her hand, thinking that she would go and carry it to Joanna, and just hold it up before her, and let her see it, without, however, speaking a word. This was wrong; for Lucy ought to have known that holding up the table before Joanna, so as to call her attention to it, would be taking her attention off from her writing, and so would interrupt her as effectually as if she were to speak to her in a loud voice. It is not so much the sound that is made by the voice, which interrupts a person who is busy, as the influence of what is said, upon the mind, in attracting the attention; so that a loud noise of a carriage going by, or of winds and storms beating against the windows, would not interrupt a person as much as a question asked in the lowest whisper, or even an object, like Lucy's table, held up for a person to see.
When Lucy came up to Joanna with her table, Joanna went on with her writing, and took no notice of it. Lucy then held it a little nearer. Joanna knew that she was there, but she went on writing, without looking up or saying a word. Lucy waited a minute or two longer, and then she could no longer resist the temptation to say, as she did in a very low and gentle voice, " Look, Joanna! "
Joanna raised her eyes from her work, and looked not at the table, but at Lucy herself, and said,
"There goes another of your flowers: now there is but one left."
Lucy turned away in silence, and went back to her place. She was very sorry that she had lost so many of her flowers; and she secretly thought that Joanna was very strict; but she knew that if she made any remonstrance or complaint, she should lose the last flower, too.
After sitting upon the floor a few minutes longer, she concluded that she would go and put her blocks and other things away, and get ready to go and take the walk,—so as not to lose any time when Joanna's letter should be finished. This was a very wise plan ; for, by going out of the room, she made sure of not interrupting Joanna again.
So Lucy went and put her blocks and hammer away in her treasury, and then went to find her mother, in order to ask her if she might go and take a walk with Joanna. She could not find her mother; but she found Miss Anne, who told her that her mother had gone out to walk, and would not come back until tea-time.
Then Lucy told Miss Anne of Joanna's proposal to take her out to walk with her, and she asked Miss Anne if she might go.
"' I rather think," said Miss Anne, " that Joanna would prefer to go alone. You asked her first to let you go with her, didn't you ? "
" No," said Lucy, " she proposed it herself. She said that if I would not speak to her, a word, till she had finished her letter, she would let me go."
"And did not you speak to her?" said Miss Anne.
"Yes; but she said," added Lucy, "that if I did not speak but four times, I might go, but then I must not have any flowers."
Miss Anne did not understand this explanation very well; but then she did not care much whether she understood it or not. She was busy, rending; and all that she wanted, was to be sure that Joanna was really willing to have Lucy go with her. For as Joanna was going out to walk, to refresh and enjoy herself, after her work, she thought that it would not be right for Lucy to go as her companion, unless Joanna was really willing.
So Miss Anne said, in reply to Lucy's request,
" You may go back and wait until Joanna is ready. I cannot let you go, merely because you ask it; but if she asks it herself, or sends you to ask it, then I will consider whether I will take the responsibility of letting you go."
" What do you mean by responsibility? " said Lucy.
" Why, when your mother went out," said Miss Anne, " she did not give me any authority to let you go and take a walk. Now, if I should let you go, in such a case, because I suppose the [sic] would consent if she were here, it would be taking responsibility. I should be responsible to her if she should ask me about it. I ought to have good reasons to give her, why I let you go."
" I don't understand it very well," said Lucy.
' " No," said Miss Anne, laughing, " and I don't blame you very much, for I don't think that I explain it very well. But never mind now. I hear Joanna, I believe, in the kitchen ; and I expect that she has finished her letter, and is getting ready to go."
Lucy ran off with all speed, to see if Joanna was really ready to go. She found that she had finished her letter, and was putting on her bonnet. Lucy told Joanna what Miss Anne had said, and Joanna sent her back to say that she should really like to have her go with her. Accordingly Miss Anne took the responsibility of giving her permission.
When Lucy got back, she found Joanna sharpening a knife upon a stone, which was placed upon a shelf in the back kitchen, for that purpose.
" What is that knife for?" said Lucy.
"It is to get my broom-stuff with," said Joanna.
" 0 yes," said Lucy; '" and now you must tell me what broom-stuff is."
"Why, broom-stuff, child," said Joanna, "is the stuff that they make brooms of."
Joanna went on sharpening her knife, and Lucy was silent. Presently, when Joanna had made the knife as sharp as she wished, she looked round, and saw that Lucy was leaning forward, and looking very intently at a broom which was hanging near her, against the wall.
" 0, not such broom-stuff as that," said Joanna. " I am going to make a hemlock broom."
" A hemlock broom ? " inquired Lucy. "Is a hemlock broom better than such a broom as this?"
" 0, I don't know," said Joanna. " A hemlock broom is such a one as the farmers make, who live in the woods. I have not seen one for a long time, but I used to make them when I was a little girl, and I want to make one now, if it is only to make me think of old times. So I am sharpening my knife to cut the hemlock branches."
" I should think that Royal's hatchet would be better," said Lucy.
" If he would go with us to cut down the branches," answered Joanna.
" Well," said Lucy, " I will go and see if I can find him."
But Lucy could not find him; and so she and Joanna had to go alone. Joanna carried her knife in one hand, and led Lucy with the other.
They walked along through the garden, and thence out through a back gate, which led into the lane. This led down into the glen, behind the house. They crossed the brook where Royal had made the pen to confine his turtle, as described in LUCY'S CONVERSATIONS.
After passing this brook, they followed a winding path which led along among rocks and trees, until they came to a dense thicket, where Joanna said she had observed that there was plenty of hemlock trees. Lucy could not tell the hemlock trees from a great many others which looked somewhat like them.
Joanna cut off a great many small branches, and threw them down upon the grass as fast as she cut them. Lucy gathered them up as fast as they were cut, and put them by themselves, taking care to put the stems all one way. Joanna told her that she would cut some small branches for her, so that she could make a little broom for herself, when she went home, — if she could only get Royal to make her a handle. They staid in this place nearly half an hour and then they went home.
As they were going home, Lucy called upon Joanna to get her her flower; but Joanna said that she was tired of rambling about, and she asked Lucy if she should not be willing to take a story, instead of a flower. Lucy said that she should; and, accordingly, Joanna told her the story of the Fog upon the Mountains, as they walked slowly homewards. This story, though not in precisely the language in which Joanna related it is given in the next chapter.
On to chapter 3
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