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A terrifying prospect lies on the horizon of a small orphan girl named Tabitha. Having been well-taught by two older Quaker ladies to be useful—and thrifty and sober and self-denying—Tabitha Mary is about to be taken in by a distant cousin and his wife notorious for their miserly ways. Happily, Mr. Minturn, the lawyer who has undertaken to bring her to her new home, sees something valiant in this thin, over-worked and useful child. Upon seeing for himself the miserable fate awaiting the orphan, Mr. Minturn makes short work of the arrangement, carrying Tatsy (the more homey and acceptable nickname conversationally settled upon between Tabitha and Mr. Minturn while on the road) off to his own warm-hearted sister’s household in Newburyport.
Tatsy is overjoyed and resolves to make herself very useful in her new home. Soon, however, she begins to see there is more to life than hard work. Friendships with Peggy and “Owly” draw her out; and friendships with adults like Uncle Nimmy, too. She gets to wear bright-colored ribbons, fatten up on full portions, and invest her natural teaching abilities in coaching Owly for his poetry recital; this is not to mention the important adventures with the Merino sheep who have just been introduced into America. As Tatsy is drawn into the lives and events of her new world, she is surprised to find that she is not only useful, but bright, laughing—and lovable. Tatsy’s upright and affectionate nature wins a lasting place in our hearts as we explore with her the world of 1810 in the many fascinating details of its New England setting.
Original publication date: 1933, Original book: 246 pages