The Sandman: More Farm Stories  by Willliam J. Hopkins

The Sunday Story

dropcap image NCE upon a time there was a farm-house and it was painted white and had green blinds and it stood not far from the road. In the fence was a wide gate to let the wagons through to the barn. And the wagons, going through, had made a little track that led up past the kitchen door and past the shed and past the barn and past the orchard to the wheat-field.

One morning, the old rooster crowed very early and little John woke and was just going to jump up and dress. But he remembered that it was Sunday morning and he didn't have to get up so early. So he lay there in bed and watched the shiny things going up and down and along on the walls the way they do when it isn't very light; and little Charles watched them, too, but he didn't see the same ones that little John saw. And after awhile, Aunt Deborah came in and put little John's Sunday clothes and little Charles's Sunday clothes on the bed, and she told the little boys to get up. So they both jumped out of bed and dressed and went down-stairs and had their breakfast.

When little John had had his breakfast, he went to the closet and got his frock. His frock was a long kind of a coat that slipped on over his head and hung down almost to his feet, and covered his clothes all up. He tied the string around his neck, and then he went out to the cow-yard and let the cows out, and drove them to the pasture. The cows had been waiting a long time, and they were in a hurry to get to the pasture. So little John had to hurry to keep up with them; and when the cows were in the pasture, little John had to hurry back, because it was almost time for him to start for church. And he took off his frock and cleaned his shoes and washed his face and hands, and then he and little Charles started out the kitchen door and down the little track and out the gate and along the road, on their way to church. They had to walk to church, because there wasn't room in the carriage for all the people.

While the little boys were getting ready to go to church, Uncle John went out to the barn, and he got the horses out of their stalls. The horses had had their breakfasts, and he rubbed them down with a brush and then with some straw, so that they were all shiny. Then he put on the harness and led the horses out to the shed and hitched them to the carryall; and he led them to the door of the farm-house and fastened them to a post that was there. It wasn't the kitchen door, but the biggest door, that they used on Sundays and for company.

Then, pretty soon, Uncle Solomon came out, and Aunt Phyllis and Aunt Deborah. And Aunt Phyllis and Aunt Deborah had on their black dresses, and Uncle Solomon had on his black coat and Uncle John had on his black coat, and Uncle Solomon and Uncle John were both very uncomfortable. Then Aunt Phyllis and Aunt Deborah got into the carryall and sat on the back seat, and Uncle Solomon got in and sat on the front seat. And Uncle John unhitched the horses and got in beside Uncle Solomon. And under the seat was a basket that had some luncheon in it. Then they started and the horses walked down the little track and through the wide gate into the road and along the road on the way to church.

When the little boys had walked along the road for awhile, going to church, pretty soon they came near another farm-house, and there were two boys waiting for them. So those two boys came out and went along with little Charles and little John, and after awhile they came near another house, and there were three little boys waiting. And they all went along together, so there were seven little boys. Pretty soon they got tired of walking along quietly, and they began to chase each other and to throw stones at things, and they weren't as quiet as little boys ought to be on Sunday. But it was a long way to church.

After awhile, the boys came where the houses were closer together, and they stopped chasing each other and throwing stones, and walked quietly again, for they didn't want any of the grown-up people to see them doing those things. And then they came where the houses were so close together that it was a village, and they were almost at the church. But a village isn't like a city, and the houses aren't very close together. There are fields all around. When they had come to the village, they heard a carriage coming up behind them, and they looked around, and there was the carryall, with Uncle Solomon and Uncle John and Aunt Deborah and Aunt Phyllis. And Aunt Deborah and Aunt Phyllis waved their hands to the boys, and Uncle John said, "Hello, boys. Better hurry along now." And the little boys all hurried along, so that they shouldn't be late to church.

Uncle John drove the horses along until they came to the church. It was just a kind of square wooden house with long windows and a tall steeple that was pointed, and a sloping roof. It was painted white and had long green blinds, like the farm-house; and people called it a meeting-house. Behind the meeting-house was a long shed that was all open on one side. The shed was a great deal longer than the meeting-house, and there was room in it for a great many carriages. For most of the people had to come a long way, and they came in wagons and in carryalls, and they left the horses and wagons and carryalls in the shed while they went into the meeting-house.

So Uncle John drove the horses into the shed, and all the people got out of the carryall, and Uncle John took the bridles off the horses' heads, and put halters on, and tied them to the rack. When that was done, the little boys were just coming along, and they all went in together to church, and walked down the middle aisle to their pew and the other little boys went to the pews where their fathers and mothers were.

The pew where Uncle Solomon and Uncle John sat was almost square, and it had high wooden sides. The sides were so high that little John couldn't see the other people when he was sitting down. He couldn't even see the minister, and the minister stood in a high place that had stairs going up to it, winding around.

When all the people had sat down and it was time for the church to begin, the minister walked up the winding stairs and all the people stood up and they sang. There wasn't any organ to help them sing, but there was a bass viol up in a gallery at the back of the church, and a man played the bass viol, and another man played a kind of a trumpet. A bass viol is a great enormous fiddle or violin, and one end of it rests on the floor and the man stands up to play it. When they had done singing, the minister prayed for a long time, and then they all sang again, and after awhile the minister began to preach a sermon. Little John didn't know what the minister was preaching about, and he couldn't see anything but the walls of the pew and the heads of the people who sat just in front of him, in the next pew, and the minister's voice, going along so even, made him very sleepy. He tried to keep awake, just doing nothing. Then he began to play pretend games with himself, to keep awake better, but that didn't keep him awake long, and pretty soon he was sound asleep, with his head leaning against Aunt Deborah. She saw that he was asleep, but she didn't wake him or let Uncle Solomon know that he was asleep.

After awhile, the minister got through preaching, and that woke little John. Then the people all sang again and the minister prayed another long time, and at last, church was all over. Then the people all got up and walked out.

When the people went out of church, Aunt Deborah and Aunt Phyllis waited on the steps for a little while and talked to some other people, and then they went over to the shed where the horses were tied, and they got into the carryall. Aunt Deborah got out the basket and opened it, and she took out some crackers and some turnovers, and she gave two crackers and a turnover to little Charles, and two crackers and a turnover to little John. And the little boys took their crackers and turnovers and they ran across the road to a big pump that was there and they pumped some water on the crackers to make them soft.


Then they ran back and went to an old stage-coach that was outside the shed. This old stage-coach wasn't used any more, and the little boys liked to sit in it and eat their luncheon and play that the coach was really going. A lot of other boys went there, too, and some sat inside and those that couldn't get inside sat up on the top. And they all ate their luncheon. Some had crackers and some had bread and some had gingerbread and some had apples. And they swapped bites with each other. Little John gave another boy a bite of his turnover, and that other boy gave little John a bite of gingerbread. They were very big bites. When they had all finished their luncheons, they played stage-coach for awhile, and then they got down and ran around until it was time for church again.


They played stage‑coach for awhile.

This time, church didn't last quite so long as it did the first time, but little John thought it was very long. All the people sang, and the minister prayed and preached another sermon, and little John went to sleep again. But at last it was all over and everybody got up and went out. Then Uncle John took the halters off the horses' heads and put on the bridles, and they all got into the carryall and the horses backed the carryall out of the shed and started along the road to the farm-house. But little Charles and little John walked along the road with a lot of other boys.

When the little boys got to the farm-house and turned in at the wide gate Uncle John was just coming from the barn. He had taken the harness off the horses and had tied the horses in their stalls, and he was going into the house to dinner. So little Charles and little John went in at the kitchen door, and they brushed the dust off their clothes and off their shoes, and they washed their faces and hands and sat down to eat their dinner. Aunt Deborah had made a milk cake for them. It was a cake that they liked very much, and they ate as much as she would let them, and they thought it was very nice.

And that's all.