However, when we were once fairly started there was no end to our interest; we all agonized over it, and poor Mrs. Sim White was so exercised over the probable deception of either Bacon or Shakespeare, in any case, that she told me privately that she was tempted to leave the literary society and confine herself to her Bible.
There was actual animosity between some members of our society in consequence. Mrs. Charles Root and Rebecca Snow did not speak to each other for weeks because Mrs. Root believed that Shakespeare was Bacon, and Rebecca believed he was himself. Rebecca even stayed away from church and the society on that account.
Mrs. Jameson expressed herself as very much edified at our interest, and said she considered it a proof that our spheres were widening.
Louisa and I agreed that if we could only arrive at a satisfactory conclusion in the matter we should feel that ours were wider; and Flora Clark said it did not seem of much use to her, since Shakespeare and Bacon were both dead and gone, and we were too much concerned with those plays which were written anyhow, and no question about it, to bother about anything else. It did not seem to her that the opinion of our literary society would make much difference to either of them, and that possibly we had better spend our time in studying the plays.
At the second meeting of our society which Mrs. Jameson attended she gave us a lecture, which she had written and delivered before her Shakespeare club in the city. It was upon the modern drama, and we thought it must be very instructive, only as few of us ever went to the theatre, or even knew the name of a modern playwright, it was almost like a lecture in an unknown tongue. Mrs. Ketchum went to sleep and snored, and told me on the way home that she did not mean to be ungrateful, but she could not help feeling that it would have been as improving for her to stay at home and read a new Sunday-school book that she was interested in.
Mrs. Jameson did not confine herself in her efforts for our improvement to our diet and our literary tastes. After she had us fairly started in our bewildering career on the tracks of Bacon and Shakespeare—doing a sort of amateur detective work in the tombs, as it were—and after she had induced the storekeeper to lay in a supply of health food—which he finally fed to the chickens—she turned her attention to our costumes. She begged us to cut off our gowns at least three inches around the bottoms, for wear when engaged in domestic pursuits, and she tried to induce mothers to take off the shoes and stockings of their small children, and let them run barefoot. Children of a larger growth in our village quite generally go barefoot in the summer, but the little ones are always, as a rule, well shod. Mrs. Jameson said that it was much better for them also to go without shoes and stockings, and Louisa and I were inclined to think she might be right—it