Hannah’s eyes grew rounder. “Why, it would be sinful to take them!” said she.
Ann’s cheeks blazed under her wondering gaze, and she said no more.
When she was about eleven years old, one icy January day, Hannah wanted her to go out and play on the ice after school. They had no skates, but it was rare fun to slide. Ann went home and asked Mrs. Polly’s permission with a beating heart; she promised to do a double stint next day, if she would let her go. But her mistress was inexorable—work before play, she said, always; and Ann must not forget that she was to be brought up to work; it was different with her from what it was with Hannah French. Even this she meant kindly enough, but Ann saw Hannah go away, and sat down to her spinning with more fierce defiance in her heart than had ever been there before. She had been unusually good, too, lately. She always was, during the three months’ schooling, with sober, gentle little Hannah French.
She had been spinning sulkily a while, and it was almost dark, when a messenger came for her master and mistress to go to Deacon Thomas Wales’, who had been suddenly taken very ill.
Ann would have felt sorry if she had not been so angry. Deacon Wales was almost as much of a favorite of hers as his wife. As it was, the principal thing she thought of, after Mr. Wales and his wife had gone, was that the key was in the desk. However it had happened, there it was. She hesitated a moment. She was all alone in the kitchen, and her heart was in a tumult of anger, but she had learned her lessons from the Bible and the New England Primer and she was afraid of the sin. But, at last, she opened the desk, found the indentures, and hid them in the little pocket which she wore tied about her waist, under her petticoat.
Then she threw her blanket over her head, and got her poppet out of the chest. The poppet was a little doll manufactured from a corn-cob, dressed in an indigo-colored gown. Grandma had made it for her, and it was her chief treasure. She clasped it tight to her bosom and ran across lots to Hannah French’s.
Hannah saw her coming, and met her at the door.
“I’ve brought you my poppet,” whispered Ann, all breathless, “and you must keep her always, and not let her work too hard. I’m going away!”
Hannah’s eyes looked like two solemn moons. “Where are you going, Ann?”
“I’m going to Boston to find my own mother.” She said nothing about the indentures to Hannah—somehow she could not.
Hannah could not say much, she was so astonished, but as soon as Ann had gone, scudding across the fields, she went in with the poppet and told her mother.
Deacon Thomas Wales was very sick. Mr. and Mrs. Samuel remained at his house all night, but Ann was not left alone, for Mr. Wales had an apprentice who slept in the house.
Ann did not sleep any that night. She got up very early, before any one was stirring, and dressed herself in her Sunday clothes. Then she tied up her working clothes in a bundle, crept softly down stairs, and out doors.