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In the dining-room of the old stone Mercer mansion in the town of Rossignol, Me., Mrs. Hippolyta Prymmer, sanctified vessel and uncommon saint, charter member of the church of the United Brethren, chief leader in religious work, and waggishly nicknamed by the ungodly about her "the elect lady," sat looking earnestly at her death-book.
This death-book was her never-failing source of interest and chastened entertainment. In it she had enrolled the names of the various friends of whom she had been deprived by death, and for its enlargement and adornment she collected photographs, cuttings from newspapers, and items of information, with an assiduity superior to that of some of her acquaintances, who prepared scrap-books merely for purposes of diversion and amusement.
The covers of the book were ornamented with two silver plates engraved with the names and ages of her two deceased husbands,—Sylvester Mercer and Zebedee Prymmer. These plates had been taken from the coffins of the two worthy men before they had been lowered to their graves. Wedged under each plate were locks of hair shorn from the heads of the dead men. Sylvester, according to his coffin plate, had been a man in the prime of life. His lock of hair was soft and brown, while that of Zebedee Prymmer, whose age was given as sixty-five, was stiff and grizzled.
Mrs. Prymmer did not quail as her eye ran over these somewhat ghastly souvenirs. She even sighed gently, and with eyes partly closed,—for she nearly knew the contents of the book by heart,—repeated softly some lines addressed to herself, written by Zebedee Prymmer before death, but worded as if they had been penned after his flight to regions above.