Hettys Strange History

Helen Hunt Jackson
Hetty's Strange History, by

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Title: Hetty's Strange History
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UNKNOWN?" Daniel Deronda.


What lover best his love doth prove and show? The one whose words
are swiftest, love to state? The one who measures out his love by weight
In costly gifts which all men see and know? Nay! words are cheap and
easy: they may go For what men think them worth: or soon or late,
They are but air. And gifts? Still cheaper rate Are they at which men
barter to and fro Where love is not!

One thing remains. Oh, Love, Thou hast so seldom seen it on the earth,
No name for it has ever sprung to birth; To give one's own life up one's
love to prove, Not in the martyr's death, but in the dearth Of daily life's
most wearing daily groove.
And unto him who this great thing hath done, What does Great Love
return? No speedy joy! That swift delight which beareth large alloy Is
guerdon Love bestowed on him who won A lesser trust: the happiness
begun In happiness, of happiness may cloy, And, its own subtle foe,
itself destroy. But steadfast, tireless, quenchless as the sun Doth grow
that gladness which hath root in pain. Earth's common griefs assail this
soul in vain. Great Love himself, too poor to pay such debt, Doth
borrow God's great peace which passeth yet All understanding. Full
tenfold again Is found the life, laid down without regret!

When Squire Gunn and his wife died, within three months of each
other, and Hetty their only child was left alone in the big farm-house,
everybody said, "Well, now Hetty Gunn'll have to make up her mind to
marry somebody." And it certainly looked as if she must. What could
be lonelier than the position of a woman thirty-five years of age sole
possessor of a great stone house, half a dozen barns and out-buildings,
herds of cattle, and a farm of five hundred acres? The place was known
as "Gunn's," far and wide. It had been a rich and prosperous farm ever
since the days of the first Squire Gunn, Hetty's grandfather. He was one
of Massachusetts' earliest militia-men, and had a leg shot off at
Lexington. To the old man's dying day he used to grow red in the face
whenever he told the story, and bring his fist down hard on the table,
with "damn the leg, sir! 'Twasn't the leg I cared for: 'twas the not
having another chance at those damned British rascals;" and the
wooden leg itself would twitch and rap on the floor in his impatient

indignation. One of Hetty's earliest recollections was of being led about
the farm by this warm-hearted, irascible, old grandfather, whose
wooden leg was a perpetual and unfathomable mystery to her. Where
the flesh leg left off and the wooden leg began, and if, when the
wooden leg stumped so loud and hard on the floor, it did not hurt the
flesh leg at the other end, puzzled little Hetty's head for many a long
hour. Her grandfather's frequent and comic references to the honest old
wooden pin did not diminish her perplexities. He was something of a
wag, the old Squire; and nothing came handier to him, in the way of a
joke, than a joke at his own expense. When he was eighty years old, he
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