Flossy's Funny Dream
She Goes to School With Her Great-Grandmother — The Queer Things She Heard and Saw

Mary E. Wilkins, in Congregationalist.

From Cuba Patriot December 25, 1884

“Oh, girls, just come here, and hear what a funny dream Flossy Severance had last night!”

When three or four more little girls came running over to the north side of the school house, where Flossy Severance and Hattie Newton were seated on a big flat stone, Flossy began: “I know it was a very queer dream, but I did dream it, truly. I suppose Miss Ames' reading that old-fashioned story in school yesterday afternoon made me; mother said she guessed it did. You know Miss Ames told us how the first school house that ever was in this town stood over in the field back of Mr. Ainsworth's. Well, I dreamed it was standing there now, and I was going there to school. Yes, I did; it was just so queer. There were the split logs for benches that she told us about, and all. The school house was made of logs, too.

“The first thing I dreamed about was going up the path to that school house. I thought it was winter, and I had on my garnet suit trimmed with chinchilla, and my chinchilla cap that I wore last winter, you know. I had my books, my Swinton's Geography and my Colburn's Arithmetic, and all the rest, in my bag. The other scholars seemed to be all there when I got up to the door: they were playing out in the yard, and they were the funniest looking set. The girls wore great thick shoes, and indigo dresses way down to their heels. Most of them had little blankets pinned over their heads instead of hoods, and every one had her hair parted in the middle and combed, oh, so smooth, over her ears! Their cheeks were just as fat and rosy; and the way they trudged through the snow and threw snowballs! We couldn't begin to do it. The boys looked funnier than the girls, in snuff-colored clothes and the oddest shaped hats.

“When I came up amongst them they just stopped playing and started. How they did stare! Then they whispered to each other and began to giggle. I couldn't see what they were laughing at; it did seem to me that if it was anybody's place to laugh it was mine, for I knew they looked more laughable than I did, and my dress was very stylish, and theirs awfully out of fashion.

“But I began to cry. I felt so mortified. Then one little girl stepped out from the others and came up to me. ‘Don't be troubled,’ said she, ‘if they do laugh; they will soon be accustomed to your queer dress, and no longer be provoked to mirth. What is your name?’

“‘Flossy Severance,’ said I.

“‘Your name is as singular as your gown,’ said she. ‘I never heard such a name as Flossy; mine is Submit Fairchild Penniman.’

“When she said that I jumped, for that was my great-grandmother's name. She was father's grandmother, and I had heard him tell about her lots of times, and I always remembered her name. It was so queer. It came over me, all of a sudden, that this was my great grandmother, and I felt half scared and half tickled — there was something awful about it, and something funny.

“‘What's the matter?’ said she, when I jumped.

“‘Nothing much,’ said I. I thought I wouldn't tell her what I had found out, for fear she wouldn't like it. I didn't know how she would fancy being called great-grandmother by another little girl.

“Just then, the teacher came to the door and called us in; she didn't ring any bell. She had a very pretty face, if she hadn't worn her hair in such a queer fashion; great puffs on each side of her head, and the tallest shell comb. Her gown was very short-waisted and big-figured, and the skirt was plain.

“Well, we all went in and sat down on the log benches, and the school began. After the opening exercises, the scholars recited in the New England Primer, like Miss Ames said; then they had the Catechism and a queer arithmetic. Of course I didn't know anything but my Swinton and Colburn, and for Catechism, my Sunday-school lesson papers; and the teacher said I was very backward, and would have to go way back to the beginning, and I couldn't be in the class with my great-grandmother: I did feel so cheap. I just sat there and heard the others recite and felt like a dunce till noon. Then there was an hour's intermission, and I thought my great-grandmother and I sat down together on a log, and ate some Indian meal cake, which she had brought in a little cotton bag for her dinner. We got to talking and now the funny part comes. I mixed in everything Miss Ames told with it, you know.

“‘Has your father paid the cord of wood for your schooling?’ said my great-grandmother.

“I said I didn't know.

“‘Mine has,’ said my great-grandmother; ‘a cord of the very finest cedar to be found in the forest.’ Then she sat up very straight, eating her corn cake, and looked as if she felt so grand.

“‘Is your gown made of flax or tow?’ she said, after a little while.

“I said it was all wool cashmere, and mother got it in the city. Then she wanted to know how long it took her to spin and weave it, and I told her she didn't spin and weave it; she bought it just so. Then I told her how we went on the steam-cars to New York, and then on the horse-cars around the city; and how we had a dressmaker and a sewing machine to make the dress, and she listened with her eyes as big as saucers.

“‘Are the trees blazed all the way to New York?’ says she. She didn't seem to have any idea of what I meant by steam and horse cars, so I tried to tell her, but it didn't seem to do any good. Finally, she sat up so prim and took her New England Primer and began to study. I thought I'd said something she didn't like, and I asked her what the matter was.

“You ought to have seen the way she looked at me. ‘You have told some wicked fibs,’ said she, in such a queer, precise voice, ‘and I shall feel it my duty to tell my father, Israel Penniman. He is a tithing man.’

“‘What will he do?’ said I. I seemed to give right in that I had told fibs.

“My great-grandmother's face was just as long and sober, but her eyes looked sort of roguish then; they were black like mine. ‘I'll show you,’ says she, and she took her New England Primer and gave me such a poke with it that I woke up. There!”

“Why, Flossy Severance,” said one of the girls, “it's the cutest dream I ever heard in my life!”

And all the other girls echoed her.