Felicity Takes a Dare

Short story collection published in 2006; author Valerie Tripp; illustrator Dan Andreasen, Susan McAliley, or Philip Hood


Felicity and her little sister and brother (Nan, six, and William, three) are enjoying the spring fair. Felicity is most excited to see the racehorses. They're more skittish than the farm horses she's used to, but her grandfather has taught her how to be around horses, so she's not worried and keeps a respectful distance with her siblings. But being only nine, she lets herself get riled up when a group of boys starts teasing her and dares her to go up to one of the horses. Heeding her grandfather's instruction, she goes into the pen and is able to successfully get a horse to literally eat out of her hand. Just as she's about to head back out, a gunshot is fired off to start a footrace. The horse panics and kicks Felicity, breaking her arm. She's able to get out of the pen safely, and sends Nan to get their mother. Fortunately, it's a simple break. The apothecary makes a house call and sets her arm, then applies leeches to drain the "extra" blood so it will heal faster. Felicity is ashamed that she let herself be dared into doing such a foolish thing, but her mother assures her that as long as Felicity learns from her mistakes and continues to mature, she turn out just fine. Encouraged, Felicity feels well enough to sit in a chair by her window and watch the fireworks with her mother.

Looking Back

The fair that Felicity visited took place during Publick Times. When Virginia's highest court held session, there were so many visitors to Williamsburg that the city would be bursting at the seams with fairs, races and other contests, plays, and even extravagant balls at the governor's house.


I remember reading this as an article in the American Girl magazine. The Looking Back section in that one was about leech use in medicine; how maladies were thought to be caused by an excess of blood. I specifically remember the part that headaches were treated with leeches up the nose.

Leeches are making a small, specific comeback in medicine. They can be used to treat particular types of swelling. Maggots--grown in sterile environments--are also useful in certain types of wound debridement.

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