They Loved to Laugh

They Loved to Laugh

by Kathryn Worth, Marguerite de Angeli
Publisher: Bethlehem Books
Trade Paperback, 254 pages
Price: $14.95

Historical Setting: North Carolina, 1830's A. D.

Jonathan came up first. He looked down at Martitia with irrepressible amusement lurking in his hazel eyes.

"So little are you, Martitia. So little and so solemn. If you would only laugh back at us, maybe we'd let you alone. Can't you learn to laugh too?

Martita refused to answer him.

He leaned over and picked her up lightly. "Come, Martita, I'll carry you across the stream."

He walked out surely on the log, with Martita held in his easy grasp. She felt secure at last.

Then, right in the middle of the stream, Jonathan jumped over into the creek with her!

It was as sudden as that. One minute she was held securely and dry and safe in Jonathan's arms on the log. Next minute she was scrambling and pawing in the waters of the creek. Martita wondered, wildly, if moccasins and leeches and lizards were feeding on her already. Blind with water, she struggled toward the bank of the creek. Slipping and weeping, she reached the edge. She stood there a minute, her muslin dress dankly dripping. Then without a backward look at her tormenters she fled weeping up the path in the direction of home.

Behind her the sound of giant laughter pursued her all the way to the springhouse.

Tears and laughter alternate in this novel of a young girl's growth to womanhood in the 1830's. Sixteen-year-old orphan Martitia is taken into the home of Dr. Gardner, a North Carolina Quaker, who has five lively sons as full of merriment as himself. The boys do their best to get Martitia to laugh, but she is at first overwhelmed by their pranks. Little by little she struggles to become a true Gardner daughter. And in so doing, she grows in humor and in love.

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