A Silver Spoon
The Story Which Marred the Happiness of Two Little Girls

Mary E. Wilkins, in Congregationalist.

From Cuba Patriot April 29, 1886

Bessie and Edith were out in Bessie's kitchen cleaning the silver spoons. That was Bessie's regular Saturday work; it was an understood thing that every week on that day she was to polish up the spoons nicely.

To-day her mother had gone to visit her aunt, and her friend, Edith Amos, had come over to help her keep house. The two little girls had been rather dilatory about their household duties; they had had a good many important things to attend to. Then the dinner for Bessie's father, and the clearing away, had been a large undertaking. It was late in the afternoon now, and they had just begun on the spoons.

Bessie rubbed the silver soap on the spoons and Edith polished them up with the chamois skin. Bessie was very polite about giving Edith the prettier part of the work. Suddenly Bessie took up a large, solid tablespoon and eyed it, and then Edith, impressively.

“There's a story about this spoon, and you couldn't guess what it is,” said she, mysteriously.

Honest, fond little Edith stared up at her. “No. What is it?” said she.

“Well, my great-grandfather was married in this silver spoon.”

“Why, Bessie Elliot!”

“He was.”

“I don't know what you mean.”

“I should think you might. I said it plain enough. My great-grandfather was married in this silver spoon.”

“Now you're joking, Bessie. It's too bad of you to try to make me believe such things.”

“No, I'm not joking; he was, truly.”

“Married in that spoon?”


“Why, he couldn't be married in a spoon; how could he? A man couldn't stand in a spoon. I don't believe a word of it.”

“I don't care if you don't; he was.” Bessie kept her face very sober. She loved Edith dearly, but occasionally she did like to tease her a little. Edith was such an honest, matter-of-fact little body, and took teasing so seriously.

She took this more seriously than Bessie knew. She said no more about the matter and went on gravely polishing her spoons. When Bessie's mother returned she took leave soberly and went home, a troubled, indignant look on her candid little face which betrayed every thing.

“What ailed Edith?” asked Mrs. Elliot, “I thought she seemed odd.”

“Oh, nothing,” laughed Bessie, “only she's mystified over my great-grandfather's getting married in that silver spoon. I'm going to let her puzzle over it awhile, then I'll tell her.”

“You ought to be careful how you talk to Edith,” said her mother, “she takes every thing so in earnest.”

“Oh, she'll get over it, mamma.”

The next day Edith did not stop for Bessie, as usual, on her way to school; she kept aloof from her at recess, too, and never looked her way once in study hours.

Bessie waxed indignant. “If she's a mind to show out like this about such a little thing, she can,” thought she. And she was very sociable with the other girls, and returned Edith's neglect severely.

She grew inwardly uneasy as the days went on, and Edith's strange manner toward her did not change, but she said nothing. There was a good capacity for stubborn wrath in her childish heart.

“There isn't any sense in Edith's making a fuss over such a little thing,” she kept saying to herself, and the words acted like kindlings to keep her wrath alive.

Both little girls were quite miserable; they glanced furtively at each other, and were very friendly and lively with the other girls, so neither should think the other cared. But no new friendship could make up for the lost sweetness of the old one. Both spent many a lonesome Saturday. Probably Edith was the unhappier of the two over the estrangement. She was more sensitive, and her real or imaginary cause of grievance was greater. She worried over it a great deal, and it seemed somehow to her that the culminating point of her trouble was reached, one afternoon, when Bessie went above her in the spelling-class. Poor Edith fancied that she looked glad, though that was probably nothing but fancy, and she broke down completely. She laid her head on her desk and cried, after the spelling-class was over.

Bessie was more troubled and indignant than ever at that.

“Now she don't like it 'cause I went above her,” thought she, watching her; “and I don't see how I'm to blame for that.”

The next morning Edith was not at school, nor the next. Then Bessie heard that she had the measles. If it had not been for this trouble between them she could have gone to see her, as she had had them herself.

This occurred to Edith's mother on the Saturday after the little girl was taken sick.

“Why, Edith, Bessie might come over and see you to-day,” said she. “She's had the measles.”

Then, in poor Edith's weakness and sickness, the long pent grief came out.

“No, I don't want her — I don't want her, mamma,” she said, and begun to cry.

“Why, what is the matter?” said her mother, wonderingly.

“Bessie told me something that wasn't true, mamma, she did! I don't like her; it don't seem as if it was Bessie, any more. I can't help it.”

“What did she tell you?”

“She — said — that her great-grandfather — was — married in a big silver spoon she's got. Oh, dear!”

“Married in a silver spoon!”

“Yes, she said so, and it couldn't be true. He could not have been married in a silver spoon, you know he couldn't have, mamma. She said over and over that he was. Oh, I would rather it had been me that told a lie than Bessie!”

“Now don't fret any more, dear,” said her mother, soothingly. “I think we shall find there was some mistake about it.”

Mrs. Amos went directly over to the Elliot's to investigate. When she returned, Bessie was with her. Bessie's eyes were red, and she ran straight into Edith's room.

“Oh, Edith,” she cried out, “I'm so sorry! I didn't really know what the trouble was. I thought you were showing out for nothing. I didn't know you thought I wasn't telling the truth, and trying to make you believe a lie. I did tell the truth, Edith, after all. My great-grandfather was married in that silver spoon, and I'll tell you how right off. That silver spoon was made out of his silver knee-buckles. Don't you see now? He was married in the knee-buckles.”

Edith's poor little mottled face changed, and she begun to laugh. “I'm sorry, Bessie; I was really silly,” said she.

“No, you weren't silly one bit, Edith. See here, I'm going to make you a promise: I'll never tease you again, as long as I live, and I will always tell you things right square out. When anybody takes every thing earnest like you, it isn't right not to talk every thing earnest to them. I've brought you over some beautiful jelly, Edith.”