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The Three Warnings

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It was ia the days of our grandmothers when there were brick ovens in Ui land, fchat Mr. Hubbard bought his liouse; and bought it very much against his wite's WÜI. It was a lonely house and reported to be haunted. It was next to a grave-yard, which, though unused was not cheerful, and which had also the reputation of a ghost. Ilowever Mr. Hubbard did not believe in ghosts, and was too cheerful to be depressed by warnings and never intended to be lonely. "Mrs. Hubbard" he said, when his wif e shook her head over the purchase, "I got it cheap, and it is a good one. You will like it when you get there. If you don't, why then talk." So the house was bought, and into it the Hubbard f amily went. There was scarcely a chance for a ghost to show his face amid such a family of boys and girls. Mr. and Mrs. Hubbard counted ten of them ; all of them noisy ones. Having once expostulated and spoken out her mind with regard to the house, Mis. Hubbard gave up the point. She scrubbed and scoured, tacked down carpets and put up curtains, and owned the place was pretty. As not a ghost appeared tor a week, she made up her mind that there were no such inhabitants ; she even began not to mind the tombstones. So the house got put to rights at last, and baking day came about. In the press of business, they had a deal of baker's bread and were tired of it. Mrs. Hubbard never enjoyed setting a batch of bread to rise as she did that one which was to be eaten for the lirst time in the new house. Tor I cannot get up an appetite for that nobody knows who ha3 had the making of," said Mrs. Hubbard, "and all puffy and alumy besides." So the bread went into the oven, and out it came at the proper time, even and brown and beautiful as loaves could be. Mrs. Hubbard turned them up on their sides as she drew them forth, and they stood in the long bread tray, glorious proofs of her skill and the excellence of the oven, when Tommy Hubbard bounded in. Tommy was four; and when at that age we are prone to believe anytblng will bear our weight. Tommy, theref ore anxious to inspect the newly made bread, swung himself off his feet by clutching the edge of the bread-tray, and over it came, loaves and Tommy and all. Mrs. Hubbard flew to the rescue and picked up the loaves. All were dusted and put in the tray again but one. That lay under the table bottom upward. "A bothering child to give me so much trouble!" she said, as she crawled under the table to get it. O - ah - dear, dear, dear - O- O - my- " And there on the iloor sat Mrs. Hubbaid, screaming, wringing her hands, and shaking her head. The children screamed in concert. Mr. Hubbard rushed in froin the garden where he was at work. "What's the matter, motherV" he gasped. Mrs. Hubbard pointed to the bottom oí the loaf lying in her lap. "Look there and see !" she said. "It is a warning, William, I am going to be taken from them all." And he looked ; and he saw a death's head and cross bones, as plainly engraved as they possibly could be. "It is an accident," said Mr. Hubbard, "Such queer pranks do come you know." But Mrs. Hubbard was in a troubled state of mind, as was but natural. "The stories about the haunted house were true," she said "and the spirits have marked the loaf. I am af raid it's a warning. And the loaf was put aside, for even Mr. Hubbard did not dare to eat any of it. Mrs. Hubbard got over her fright at last. but the news of the awfully marked loaf spread through It , and the people carne to Mr. Hubbard's all fcliö week to look at it. Lt was the death's head and crossbones certainly ; every one saw that at a glance, but aa to it's meaning, people differed. Some believed that it was a warning f rom the spirits of approaching death; some thought the spirits wanted to frighten the Hubbard's away and get possession of tlie house again, all to tliemselves. The latter supposition inspired Mrs. Hubbard with courage, linally, being a brave woman, she adopted the belief, and when another baking day arrived, put her loaves into the oven once more prepared for cross-bones, and not to be frightened by them. The loaves baked as before. They came out brown and crusty as Mrs. Hubbard turned each in her hands. ïhere was no cross-bones visible but on the last were sundry charaeters or letters. What, no one could teil, anti] there dropped in for a chat a certain printer of the neighborhood accustomed to reading things backward. "By George," said he. "that's cnrious. Thut is ciirinii'! - r-f-s-u-r-K-:i-ni rf-'Si""gam; that is what is on theloaf resurgam. "Well, yes," said Mr. Hubbard being obliged to admit it. "But it is not so bad as the cross-bones and skull." Mrs. Hubbard shook her head. "It's even solraener," said the little woman, who was not as good a linguist as bread maker, "I feel confident, William, that I shall soon be resurgamed, and wliat vvill those dear children do then ?" And now that the second loaf was before her eyes, marked even more awfully than the first, Mrs.: Hubbard grew really pale and thin, and lost her cheerfulness. "I have a presentiment,' she went over and over again, 'that the third baking will decide who the warning belongs to. I believe it is meant for me, and time will show. Don't you see how thin I am erowing?" And though Mr. Hubbard laughed, he also began to be troubled. The third baking day was one of gloom. Solemnly, as at a funeral, the family assembled to assist in the drawing.Five loaves came out markless; but one remained. Mrs. Ilubbard's hand trembled;but she drew it f orth ; she laid it on the tray;she turned it softly about. At last she exposed the lower surf ace. On it were letters printed backward, plain enough to read this time, and arranged thus : Died April 2nd, Lainented by her large family. "It is me!" cried Mrs. Hubbard. "I am to go to-morrow. This is the first. I do feel faint. Yes, I do. It is awful and so sudden." And Mrs. Hubbard fainted away in the arms of the most terrified of men and husbands. The children screamed, the oldest boy ran for the doctor. People flocked to the Hubbards. ïhe loaf was examined. Yes, there wíis Mrs. Hubbard's warning to quit this world. She luy In hpc, birlrtinir (JixmI bye to her friends, her strength going fast. She read her Bible, and tried not to grieve too inuch. The doctor shook his head. ïlie clergyman prayed with her. Nobody doubted that her end was at hand, for the people were very superstitious in those days. They had been up all night with good Mrs. Hubbard, and dawn was breaking, and with it she was sure she must go, when clattering over the road and up to the door, carne a horse, and on the horse came aman,"whoalighted, and rushed in. There was no stopping him. Up stairs he rushed to Mrs. Hubbard's room and bolted into it. Every one stared at him as he took off his hat. "Parding" said he, breathlessly, "I heard Mrs. Hubbard was a-dying- and see'd warnings on her baking. I came over to explain. You see, I was sexton of the churchhere a fewyears ago, and I know all about it. You needn't die of fear just yet, Mrs. Hubbard, for it's neither spirits nor devils about it ; nor yet warnings. What rnarks the loaves is old Mrs. Finkle's tombstone. I teok it for an oven bottom, seeing there were no survivors and bricks were dear. The last folks before you didn't have them printed 011 their loaves, because they used tins, and we got used to the marks. Cross-bones and skulls we put up with, and never thought of caring for the resurgam. So you see how it is, and L'm sorry you have been scared." Nobody said a word. The minister closed his book. The doctor walked to the window. There was a dead silence. Mrs. Hubbard sat up in bed. "William!" she said to her husband, "the first thing you do, get a new bottom to that oven." And the tone assured the assemblage of anxious friends that Mrs. Hubbard was not going to die just yet. Indeed she came down the very next day. And when the oven luid been reconstructed, the first thing she did was to give mvitations for a large tea drinking, on which occasion the loaves came out all right.


Old News
Michigan Argus