The foregoing is only a small portion of the original inventory of Samuel Wales’ estate. He was an exceedingly well-to-do man for these times. He had a good many acres of rich pasture and woodland, and considerable live stock. Then his home was larger and more comfortable than was usual then; and his stock of household utensils plentiful.
He died three years after Ann Ginnins went to live with Grandma, when she was about thirteen years old. Grandma spared her to Mrs. Polly for a few weeks after the funeral; there was a great deal to be done, and she needed some extra help. And, after all, Ann was legally bound to her, and her lawful servant.
So the day after good Samuel Wales was laid away in the little Braintree burying-ground, Ann returned to her old quarters for a little while. She did not really want to go; but she did not object to the plan at all. She was sincerely sorry for poor Mrs. Polly, and wanted to help her, if she could. She mourned, herself, for Mr. Samuel. He had always been very kind to her.
Mrs. Polly had for company, besides Ann, Nabby Porter, Grandma’s old hired woman whom she had made over to her, and a young man who had been serving as apprentice to Mr. Samuel. His name was Phineas Adams. He was very shy and silent, but a good workman.
Samuel Wales left a will bequeathing every thing to his widow; that was solemnly read in the fore-room one afternoon; then the inventory had to be taken. That on account of the amount of property was quite an undertaking; but it was carried out with the greatest formality and precision.
For several days, Mr. Aaron Whitcomb, and Mr. Silas White, were stalking majestically about the premises, with note-books and pens. Aaron Whitcomb was a grave portly old man, with a large head of white hair. Silas White was little and wiry and fussy. He monopolized the greater part of the business, although he was not half as well fitted for it as his companion.
They pried into everything with religious exactitude. Mrs. Polly watched them with beseeming awe and deference, but it was a great trial to her, and she grew very nervous over it. It seemed dreadful to have all her husband’s little personal effects, down to his neck-band and mittens, handled over, and their worth in shillings and pence calculated. She had a price fixed on them already in higher currency.
Ann found her crying one afternoon sitting on the kitchen settle, with her apron over her head. When she saw the little girl’s pitying look, she poured out her trouble to her.
“They’ve just been valuing his mittens and gloves,” said she, sobbing, “at two-and-sixpence. I shall be thankful, when they are through.”
“Are there any more of his things?” asked Ann, her black eyes flashing, with the tears in them.
“I think they’ve seen about all. There’s his blue jacket he used to milk in, a-hanging behind the shed-door—I guess they haven’t valued that yet.”