Laura was tired of sitting quietly and being good on Sunday. She wanted to play. Instead of spanking her, her father told her a story about how Sunday was much stricter when her grandfather was a little boy.
“So you see, Laura and Mary,” Her father said, “you may find it hard to be good, but you should be glad that it isn't as hard to be good now as it was when your grandfather was a boy.”
“Did little girls have to be as good as that?” Laura asked and her mother said:
“It was harder for little girls. They had to behave like little ladies all the time, not only on Sundays. Little girls could never slide downhill, like boys. Little girls had to sit in the house and stitch on samplers.” Samplers were pieces of cloth used for learning how to sew.
“Now run along and let your mother put you to bed,” said her father. Then he took his fiddle out of its box. The word fiddle is a folksy name for a violin.1
Laura and Mary lay in their trundle bed (a bed in a box) and listened to the Sunday hymns (religious songs), for even the fiddle must not sing the week-day songs on Sundays.
“Rock of Ages, cleft for me,” Her father sang, with the fiddle. Then he sang:
Shall I be carried to the skies,
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?
Laura began to float away on the music and then she heard a noise. There was her mother by the stove, getting breakfast. It was Monday morning and Sunday would not come again for a whole week.
1. Fiddle is the usual word used when playing folk music. Nowadays a country-music fiddle may have a different bridge and synthetic rather than steel strings, but there wasn't a distinction in the 19th century.
(The original book is in the public domain under Hong Kong copyright law. This simplified copy is under my new copyright.)