Paul and uncle Jacob, with whom he was of late becoming a great favorite, retired for the evening to the latter’s bed room, where Paul was accustomed to read aloud for him out of his Catholic books of instruction.
THE PRYING FAMILY.
The farms of the brothers Prying were situated in a beautiful valley. On the one side were the Vermont snow-crowned and cloud-capped mountains, rising up like eternal ramparts against all eastern hostile incursions of the elements. On the other, or the western side, were the pleasant hills of York State, which, in contrast with the mountains of Vermont, looked like so many tumuli of the deceased Indian giants of ages gone by. In the centre between, in a southerly course, ran a clear, silver brook, well stocked with an abundance of trout and other species of the finny tribe. On both sides of this stream were situated the extensive farms of the Pryings. They had abundance of woods from the elevated extremes on either side. The rivulet constituted a cooling retreat for cattle in summer, and in spring afforded an abundant source of irrigation to the rich meadows on both sides.
Ephraim’s family, where Paul and Bridget remained, consisted of Mrs. Prying, Amanda, the senior daughter, Melinda, and Mary, called after her grandmother, who was Irish. There were besides, Calvin, Wesley, Cassius, and Cyrus, younger members of the family, together with old uncle Jacob, an unmarried brother of Ephraim, the head of this family. We may as well here remark that Mr. Prying was, from the beginning, averse to receive these orphans into his house, seeing, as he said, “that he wanted no more such hands as they were;” but Amanda persuaded him, in order to have the glory of being instrumental in the conversion of the “interesting orphans,” as they were called.
There were frequent friendly contentions in the family to see who would have the special care of the new comers. Little Mary insisted on having Bridget to sleep with herself instead of her sister Melinda, whom she wanted to dispossess. Wesley, Calvin, and Cassius wanted to monopolize Paul, especially on Sundays, when each of them were about to separate for their respective meetings to hear the preacher.
“Father,” said Calvin, “won’t Paul come with me? Our minister, Mr. Gulmore, is such a clever preacher, and our Sunday school the best and the largest.”
“I say he shan’t, now, Calvin,” replied Wesley. “Your minister, the old feller, is nothing, compared with ours, Mr. Barker.”
“Well, brothers,” said Cassius, “I don’t see the use of your jawing about it. But I say Paul had better come to our meeting—the very name, Universalist, signifying the same with Catholic, as I was telling Paul yesterday, while a-fishing, and as our minister said.”
“Well, boys,” said uncle Jacob, laughing, “my advice to you is; to see first whether Paul is willing to go with any of ye to yer meetings. I think his mind is made up to stay at home, like myself.”