You are on page 1of 40

by John Hutton


There was once a small mouse in a small town called Salem, at the Edge of the Wilderness. The mouse was named Maus Krause. She was a very smart mouse: she knew how to sew, and she went to school every day with her great friend Sister Catherine, who was the teacher at the Girls School. Sister Catherine called her Sister Maus, and you may already know about her from reading her first book, Sister Maus. In her second book, Christmas Maus, Sister Maus learned about Christmas and discovered new ways to be useful. In her third book, Easter Maus, Sister Maus visited Brother Peter the Potter and his daughter Nan in Bethabara, a small town near Salem, and came home just in time for Easter breakfast. In this, her fourth book, Sister Maus and her good friend Emma, a student in the Girls School, meet President George Washington. Mr. President has come to visit Salem and give speeches and see Sisters House, where the Sisters are always very busy, busy, busy. Emma is so busy doing her chores in the garden that she almost misses giving Mr. President the flowers she has picked—just for him.

For Savannah and Paige Prevatte

FLOWERS FOR MR. PRESIDENT Text and illustrations copyright © 2012 by John Hutton Published by Salem Academy and College 601 South Church Street, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27101 and All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. This publication may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the permission in writing of the publishers. Typeset and designed in the United States of America by Carrie Leigh Dickey Printed and bound in the United States of America by Keiger, Inc. FIRST LIMITED EDITION, first printing ISBN 978-0-9789608-3-4


ong ago in
after it.

ld merica,

a coach rumbled down the

street in front of Sisters House, in the little town of Salem, at the Edge of the Wilderness. A box fell off the coach and burst open—a hat rolled onto the steps—and two beautifully dressed mice tumbled out

re you much hurt?” squeaked the Sisters House mice, rushing to help the
unfortunate newcomers. Sister Maus was very worried.

r. Horatio Mouse, tall and elegant, stood up and dusted himself off. He helped his wife, Mrs. Sophonisba Mouse, to her feet.

“We are fine, thank you. Only a little


ome inside, indeed you must,” said Sister Maus kindly as she picked
up the hat,

“and take a little something to restore you.”

hey went up the steps and through the front door of Sisters House, and Sister Maus pushed the hat onto a table near her mouse hole. They led their guests down the hall to the kitchen. Sister Maus was very curious.

“Are you from around here?” she asked.

o, indeed, indeed we are not. We slipped into that hatbox in Philadelphia. It belongs to an old gentleman. He has come to North Carolina to give speeches— speeches is talking to people, don’t you know. He is in fact—er—ah—um—Mr. President.”

Sister Maus was very excited. George Washington—the first president of Old America—was coming to Salem this very morning—and to give speeches—and he was already here!

ister Maus hopped upstairs to tell Sister Catherine the exciting news—one, two—one two—one two—steps at a time.

o Sister Catherine. She was not in her room, but Emma was there. Emma was one of the students in Sister Catherine’s Little Girls School. Emma loved plants. She was allowed to borrow Sister Catherine’s microscope whenever she pleased.

“Look, Sister Maus—a

new mushroom I discovered in the forest. Will you help me draw it?”

QUEEK, SQUEEK, SQUEEK! Sister Maus was too excited to draw.
She told Emma all about Mr. President, and Emma put down her pencil.

h, Sister Maus—I want to hear him—hear his speeches! And Oh, Sister Maus—I want to see him— see what he looks like! What does he look like do you think? Is he tall and thin? Is he short and fat? Does he wear a crown? No, no—it must be an ordinary hat— crowns are for kings—and he is not a king—he is Mr. President!”

mma, Emma!” They heard a familiar voice. Sister Catherine came into the room.
They told her all about Mr. President.

“How wonderful, Emma, but do

not forget your chores first! We are very busy, busy, busy in Sisters House this morning. Time for chores—time to work in the garden!” “But Oh, Sister Catherine—I will miss him—Mr. President!” are done!”
Sister Catherine smiled.


first, well and quickly, Emma. You may go when you

mma ran to the garden and worked and worked and worked! She loved plants. Sister and Brother Maus came to help.

he planted the seeds—well and quickly. She watered the flowers—well and quickly. She pulled up the weeds—well and quickly. She picked the ripe berries and the ripe vegetables—well and quickly. She put her tools away—well and quickly, too.

ow—please get to work, Sister and Brother Maus!

Please label the seed beds, Sister Maus!

First dig some holes

Then plant these seeds

Then plant these seedlings

And take away all the weeds

And then water everything!

Thank You!

mma ran back to the flower beds. There was one more thing to do.

“I must

pick a beautiful bouquet to give to Mr. President! Nasturtiums for Patriotism— Thyme for Bravery— Salvia for Wisdom— Roses for Love— and Hyacinths for Kindness!” lowers for Mr. President!”

ucking Sister Maus in her apron pocket, Emma ran down Main Street to the Tavern where Mr. President was giving his speech. But it was very quiet. Nobody was there! The speech was already finished—everyone had gone away.

mma wanted to cry. Sister Maus was very disappointed.

t was time to go. Emma walked slowly through the arbor behind the Tavern. A tall gentleman in a grey wig was standing there all alone. Perhaps he had come to see Mr. President, too. He looked at her and smiled.

“What is the matter, little girl? Why do you look

so sad?” “Mr. President is gone—gone already. And here are some lovely flowers, and now he shan’t have them!”
The tall gentleman took the bouquet.

“These are lovely flowers. Don’t

worry—I will make sure that Mr. President gets them.”

h, thank you, thank you! You are very kind! I will go back to Sisters House now—” “Sisters House— did you say Sisters House?” the tall gentleman exclaimed. “Sisters House is the very hardest place in town to see. I saw the Brothers House, and I saw the waterworks, and I saw the bakery—and the pottery shop—and the carpenter’s shop—and the tinsmith’s shop—but I did not see Sisters House. The Sisters said they were all much too busy for visitors—too busy, busy, busy—gardening and laundering and making gloves. But perhaps they would stop working for a little while and let me visit if you brought me there? Would you, could you, would you bring me there, little girl—to Sisters House?”
mma smiled and took the tall gentleman’s hand and led him up the street to Salem Square— past the pump—through the gate—across the street—up the steps—and through the front door of Sisters House.

...see my mouse hole?

hat a beautiful place to see—at last!” the tall gentleman said
happily, standing in the hall. Sister Maus hopped out of Emma’s Pocket and showed him her mouse hole. She was very proud of it, of course.

he Vorsteherin—she was in charge of all the busy sisters in Sisters House—came out of her office to see who was there.

“MR. PRESIDENT!” she cried—and fainted quite away.

Look at this staircase, Mr. President.

Do you like my garden?

he tall gentleman—you will have guessed by now that he was Mr. President—stayed for the rest of the day. All of the Sisters stopped working, for a little while, and came out to see their famous visitor. Emma and Sister Maus showed him the beautiful gardens behind Sisters House and how to plant and water and weed. They showed him the spring house down the hill by the stream.

mma and Sister Maus showed him the Saal, the big room upstairs, where the students in the Little Girls School recited their lessons for him.

That is the spring house over there where our water comes from.

mma even let him look through microscope Sister at Catherine’s her new

mushroom. At lunchtime she and Sister Maus took him to the kitchen. The biscuits and ham were very good.

r. Horatio Mouse and Mrs. Sophonisba Mouse rose gracefully from the couch where they were resting. They were very pleased to see Mr. President again. After lunch, they brought him to the front hall and gave him his hat—quite an ordinary hat—Emma was glad that it wasn’t a crown—and then they climbed back into Mr. President’s hatbox. How very kind! Mrs. Mouse presented Sister Maus with a tiny silver thimble to remember them by.

r. President’s men came to find him. They had wondered where he had gone. It was time to go to visit the next town and give more speeches. The coach and horses were ready.

r. President held his bouquet in one hand and his hat in the other. He bowed.


you, thank you for the beautiful flowers!” “Goodbye, goodbye, Mr. President!” Hugs from all the Little Girls!
r. President waved to Emma until the coach was out of sight. Sister Maus was very pleased to have had such a distinguished visitor. a wonderful day!


Salem Academy and College gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Sam N. Carter and Pauline Carter Fund of the Winston-Salem Foundation and grantmaking partner Charlie Hemrick for making this book possible. Special thanks are also due to Penny Niven, Gwynne Taylor, Jane Carmichael, Paula Locklair and Scott Crockett.

Flowers for Mr. President, the fourth book in the Sister Maus series, is based on the early days of Salem Academy and College, an academic institution for women founded in 1772 in the village of Salem in the Moravian settlement of Wachovia, located in northwestern North Carolina. The Single Sisters House, where all four stories take place, still exists on the campus of Salem Academy and College in Winston-Salem, and visitors are encouraged to come to see Sister Maus’s historic mouse hole! Please see the Author’s Notes in the other books for more historical information about Salem. The botanical interests of Emma, the little girl who is one of the main characters in Flowers for Mr. President, were inspired by a real person from Salem’s past. Beloved teacher Emma Augusta Lehman (1841-1922) lived in Sisters House and taught at Salem for almost sixty years, from 1864 until her death. Born near Salem in Bethania, she was a published poet, a member of the English faculty and an enthusiastic amateur scientist with particular emphasis on botany and astronomy. She corresponded with many famous botanists, developed plant hybrids, and in 1906 discovered a new plant species which was named for her, Monotropsis lehmani. She studied comets and eclipses with a telescope which, in her words, she had “rigged up” on the roof of Main Hall. Dozens of her notebooks, testaments to her varied interests, are still preserved in the college archives in Gramley Library, as is her herbarium, a collection of dried plant specimens. Lehman Hall on the campus of Salem College was named for her. Visitors to campus may also see a set of granite steps dedicated to her memory “by her girls,” located in front of the RondthalerGramley House. I do not know if the teachers of the Girls School in Salem had a microscope in the late eighteenth century, but it is a possibility. The microscope was invented by Dutch oculist Anton van Leeuwenhoek more than a century earlier than the events portrayed in this book. Samuel Kramsch, who came to Salem in 1788 as the first inspector of the Girls School, was an avid botanist and teacher of natural science, and would have been well aware of the most advanced techniques and scientific equipment of his day. Salem was—and is—famous for its beautiful gardens. Moravians in the Wachovia settlement set aside land for crops, medicinal plants and flowers in community and private gardens. Elaborate watercolor drawings for community and medical gardens in the nearby town of Bethabara were prepared by surveyor Christian Gottlieb Reuter in 1759 and 1761, respectively. Salem’s town plan allowed for private vegetable and flower gardens behind each house. Garden beds were designed in squares and rectangles, typically arranged around a central path. The Sisters House gardens in which Emma did her chores were first laid out in 1771, fourteen years before the building was constructed in 1785. These extended eastwards from Salem Square, behind the current site of Sisters House. In 1804, a “pleasure garden” with flower beds, terraces, winding paths and a rose-covered pavilion was built for the Girls School, to the south of the Sisters House gardens. Additional wooded land to the north and east, behind Home Moravian Church, was purchased for a “lower pleasure ground” in 1858—now the site of the current Fine Arts Center, Salem Academy and the May Dell of Salem Campus. The spring house which Emma and Mr. President visit is still located in the May Dell. The symbolic bouquet which Emma made for Mr. President is an early example of the so-called “language of flowers,” a custom that began in Europe and America in the late eighteenth century and became extremely popular in the nineteenth. Many books explaining the symbolic meanings of flowers were published at this time, and bouquets became fashionable means of sending “messages”—intimate, informal, or romantic—to friends and family members. While Mr. President’s trip to Salem occurs all in one day in the story, George Washington actually visited Salem over three days, from May 31 to June 2, 1791. He came as part of his Southern Tour, a journey through the southern states which led him from Philadelphia—then the nation’s capital—to Georgia and back again. We know from Washington’s own diary and accounts written by members of the Salem Congregation that the President toured Sisters House and the Girls School on the afternoon of June 1. I must admit, however, that there are no indications in the historical record to say that the Sisters were ever too ‘busy, busy, busy’ to see him at first! Although I have imagined his visit to the Girls School as taking place in the Saal, or meeting room of Sisters House, the school room was in fact located next door in the Gemein Haus (Congregation House) at this time. Other places visited by the President in Salem included the Single Brothers House and Boys School, as well as many crafts shops and the waterworks, in which he showed a special interest. The Salem water system consisted of a series of wooden pipelines which were fed by springs on the north side of town. Several buildings were thus provided with running water—Sisters House was one of these, and had a tap, or ‘stand pipe’ in the kitchen. The pump still standing at the south west corner of the Square was also part of this water system. On May 31, Frederic William Marshall and other leaders of the Salem Congregation met President Washington upon his arrival at the bridge over the Wach (now Salem Creek). He was taken to the tavern where he was greeted by a trombone choir and there he met informally with other Salem citizens. The following morning, June 1, the President toured Salem and was formally addressed by Brother Marshall on behalf of the community, a speech to which he responded briefly with one of his own. North Carolina governor Alexander Martin arrived late in the afternoon, and together he and the President attended a Singstunde, or song service, in the Gemein Haus that evening. At some point during the visit, Washington would certainly have been told of—and been impressed by—the fact that the nation’s first public Independence Day celebration had taken place, with singing and processions, in Salem Square on July 4, 1783. President Washington left early the next morning, June 2, in his cream-colored coach, drawn by a team of four bay horses and accompanied by seven men and a baggage wagon. According to the records of the Salem Congregation, the citizens were particularly impressed by the President’s friendliness and kindness to children— wonderful qualities which I tried to convey in the story and pictures in this book.

John Hutton was educated at Princeton, the University of London and Harvard. He has written and illustrated several books for children, including Sister Maus (2006), Christmas Maus (2008), and Easter Maus (2010). He has taught in the Art Department at Salem College since 1990.