Part 1 out of 5
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AMONG THE BRETHREN.
"JOSIAH ALLEN'S WIFE"
WHO WORK, TRYING TO BRING INTO DARK LIVES
THE BRIGHTNESS AND HOPE OF A
_THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED_.
Again it come to pass, in the fulness of time, that my companion, Josiah
Allen, see me walk up and take my ink stand off of the manteltry piece,
and carry it with a calm and majestick gait to the corner of the settin'
room table devoted by me to literary pursuits. And he sez to me:
"What are you goin' to tackle now, Samantha?"
And sez I, with quite a good deal of dignity, "The Cause of Eternal
Justice, Josiah Allen."
"Anythin' else?" sez he, lookin' sort o' oneasy at me. (That man
realizes his shortcomin's, I believe, a good deal of the time, he duz.)
"Yes," sez I, "I lay out in petickuler to tackle the Meetin' House. She
is in the wrong on't, and I want to set her right."
Josiah looked sort o' relieved like, but he sez out, in a kind of a pert
way, es he set there a-shellin corn for the hens:
"A Meetin' House hadn't ort to be called she--it is a he."
And sez I, "How do you know?"
And he sez, "Because it stands to reason it is. And I'd like to know
what you have got to say about him any way?"
Sez I, "That 'him' don't sound right, Josiah Allen. It sounds more right
and nateral to call it 'she.' Why," sez I, "hain't we always hearn about
the Mother Church, and don't the Bible tell about the Church bein'
arrayed like a bride for her husband? I never in my life hearn it called
a 'he' before."
"Oh, wall, there has always got to be a first time. And I say it sounds
better. But what have you got to say about the Meetin' House, anyway?"
"I have got this to say, Josiah Allen. The Meetin' House hain't a-actin'
right about wimmen. The Founder of the Church wuz born of woman. It wuz
on a woman's heart that His head wuz pillowed first and last. While
others slept she watched over His baby slumbers and His last sleep. A
woman wuz His last thought and care. Before dawn she wuz at the door of
the tomb, lookin' for His comin'. So she has stood ever sense--waitin',
watchin', hopin', workin' for the comin' of Christ. Workin', waitin' for
His comin' into the hearts of tempted wimmen and tempted men--fallen men
and fallen wimmen--workin', waitin', toilin', nursin' the baby good
in the hearts of a sinful world--weepin' pale-faced over its
crucefixion--lookin' for its reserection. Oh how she has worked all
through the ages!"
"Oh shaw!" sez Josiah, "some wimmen don't care about anythin' but crazy
work and back combs."
I felt took down, for I had been riz up, quite considerble, but I sez,
"Yes, there are such wimmen, Josiah, but think of the sweet and saintly
souls that have given all their lives, and hopes, and thoughts to the
Meetin' House--think of the throngs to-day that crowd the aisles of
the Sanctuary--there are five wimmen to one man, I believe, in all the
meetin' houses to-day a-workin' in His name. True Daughters of the King,
no matter what their creed may be--Catholic or Protestant.
"And while wimmen have done all this work for the Meetin' House, the
Meetin' House ort to be honorable and do well by her."
"Wall, hain't _he_?" sez Josiah.
"No, _she_ hain't," sez I.
"Wall, what petickuler fault do you find? What has _he_ done lately to
rile you up?"
Sez I, "_She_ wuz in the wrong on't in not lettin' wimmen set on the
"Wall, I say _he_ wuz right," sez Josiah. "_He_ knew, and I knew, that
wimmen wuzn't strong enough to set."
"Why," sez I, "it don't take so much strength to set as it duz to stand
up. And after workin' as hard as wimmen have for the Meetin' House, she
ort to have the priveledge of settin'. And I am goin' to write out jest
what I think about it."
"Wall," sez Josiah, as he started for the barn with the hen feed, "don't
be too severe with the Meetin' House."
And then, after he went out, he opened the door agin and stuck his head
in and sez:
"Don't be too hard on _him_"
And then he shet the door quick, before I could say a word. But good
land! I didn't care. I knew I could say what I wanted to with my
faithful pen--and I am bound to say it.
JOSIAH ALLEN'S WIFE,
near Adams, New York,
Oct. 14th, 1890.
When I first heard that wimmen wuz goin' to make a effort to set on a
Conference, it wuz on a Wednesday, as I remember well. For my companion,
Josiah Allen, had drove over to Loontown in a Democrat and in a great
hurry, to meet two men who wanted him to go into a speculation with 'em.
And it wuz kinder curious to meditate on it, that they wuz all deacons,
every one on 'em. Three on 'em wuz Baptis'es, and two on 'em had jined
our meetin' house, deacons, and the old name clung to 'em--we spoze
because they wuz such good, stiddy men, and looked up to.
Take 'em all together there wuz five deacons. The two foreign deacons
from 'way beyond Jonesville, Deacon Keeler and Deacon Huffer, and
our own three Jonesvillians--Deacon Henzy, Deacon Sypher, and my own
particular Deacon, Josiah Allen.
It wuz a wild and hazardous skeme that them two foreign deacons wuz
a-proposin', and I wuz strongly in favor of givin' 'em a negative
answer; but Josiah wuz fairly crazy with the idee, and so wuz Deacon
Henzy and Deacon Sypher (their wives told me how they felt).
The idee was to build a buzz saw mill on the creek that runs through
Jonesville, and have branches of it extend into Zoar, Loontown, and
other more adjacent townships (the same creek runs through 'em all).
As near as I could get it into my head, there wuz to be a buzz saw mill
apiece for the five deacons--each one of 'em to overlook their own
particular buzz saw--but the money comin' from all on 'em to be divided
up equal among the five deacons.
[Illustration: "A WILD AND HAZARDOUS SKEME."]
They thought there wuz lots of money in the idee. But I wuz very set
against it from the first. It seemed to me that to have buzz saws
a-permeatin' the atmosphere, as you may say, for so wide a space, would
make too much of a confusion and noise, to say nothin' of the jarin'
that would take place and ensue. I felt more and more, as I meditated on
the subject, that a buzz saw, although estimable in itself, yet it wuz
not a spear in which a religious deacon could withdraw from the world,
and ponder on the great questions pertainin' to his own and the world's
I felt it wuz not a spear that he could revolve round in and keep that
apartness from this world and nearness to the other, that I felt that
deacons ought to cultivate.
But my idees wuz frowned at by every man in Jonesville, when I ventured
to promulgate 'em. They all said, "The better the man, the better the
They said, "The better the man wuz, the better the buzz saw he would be
likely to run." The fact wuz, they needed some buzz saw mills bad, and
wuz very glad to have these deacons lay holt of 'em.
[Illustration: TALKING OVER THE BUZZ-SAW.]
But I threw out this question at 'em, and stood by it--"If bein' set
apart as a deacon didn't mean anything? If there wuzn't any deacon-work
that they ought to be expected to do--and if it wuz right for 'em to
go into any world's work so wild and hazardous and engrossin', as this
And again they sez to me in stern, decided axents, "The better the man,
the better the deed. We need buzz saws."
And then they would turn their backs to me and stalk away very
And I felt that I wuz a gettin' fearfully onpopular all through
Jonesville, by my questions. I see that the hull community wuz so sot on
havin' them five deacons embark onto these buzz saws that they would not
brook any interference, least of all from a female woman.
But I had a feelin' that Josiah Allen wuz, as you may say, my lawful
prey. I felt that I had a right to question my own pardner for the good
of his own soul, and my piece of mind.
And I sez to him in solemn axents:
"Josiah Allen, what time will you get when you are fairly started on
your buzz saw, for domestic life, or social, or for religious duties?"
And Josiah sez, "Dumb 'em! I guess a man is a goin' to make money when
he has got a chance." And I asked him plain if he had got so low, and if
I had lived with him twenty years for this, to hear him in the end dumb
And Josiah acted skairt and conscience smut for most half a minute, and
said, "he didn't dumb 'em."
"What wuz you dumbin'?" sez I, coldly.
"I wuz dumbin' the idee," sez he, "that a man can't make money when he
has a chance to."
But I sez, a haulin' up this strong argument agin--
"Every one of you men, who are a layin' holt of this enterprise and
a-embarkin' onto this buzz saw are married men, and are deacons in a
meetin' house. Now this work you are a-talkin' of takin' up will devour
all of your time, every minute of it, that you can spare from your
"And to say nothin' of your wives and children not havin' any chance
of havin' any comfort out of your society. What will become of the
interests of Zion at home and abroad, of foreign and domestic missions,
prayer meetin's, missionary societies, temperance meetin's and good
And then again I thought, and it don't seem as if I can be mistaken, I
most know that I heerd Josiah Allen mutter in a low voice,
"Dumb good works!"
[Illustration: "I HEERD JOSIAH MUTTER, 'DUMB GOOD WORKS!'"]
But I wouldn't want this told of, for I may be mistook. I didn't fairly
ketch the words, and I spoke out agin, in dretful meanin' and harrowin'
axents, and sez, "What will become of all this gospel work?"
And Josiah had by this time got over his skare and conscience smite (men
can't keep smut for more'n several minutes anyway, their consciences are
so elastic; good land! rubber cord can't compare with 'em), and he had
collected his mind all together, and he spoke out low and clear, and in
a tone as if he wuz fairly surprised I should make the remark:
"Why, the gospel work will get along jest as it always has, the wimmen
will 'tend to it."
And I own I was kinder lost and by the side of myself when I asked the
question--and very anxious to break up the enterprise or I shouldn't
have put the question to him.
For I well knew jest as he did that wimmen wuz most always the ones to
go ahead in church and charitable enterprises. And especially now, for
there wuz a hardness arozen amongst the male men of the meetin' house,
and they wouldn't do a thing they could help (but of this more anon and
There wuz two or three old males in the meetin' house, too old to get
mad and excited easy, that held firm, and two very pious old male
brothers, but poor, very poor, had to be supported by the meetin' house,
and lame. They stood firm, or as firm as they could on such legs as
theirs wuz, inflammatory rheumatiz and white swellin's and such.
But all the rest had got their feelin's hurt, and got mad, etc., and
wouldn't do a thing to help the meetin' house along.
Well, I tried every lawful, and mebby a little on-lawful way to break
this enterprise of theirs up--and, as I heern afterwards, so did Sister
Sister Sypher is so wrapped up in Deacon Sypher that she would embrace a
buzz saw mill or any other enterprise he could bring to bear onto her.
"She would be perfectly willin' to be trompled on," so she often sez,
"if Deacon Sypher wuz to do the tromplin'."
Some sez he duz.
Wall, in spite of all my efforts, and in spite of all Sister Henzy's
efforts, our deacons seemed to jest flourish on this skeme of theirn.
And when we see it wuz goin' to be a sure thing, even Sister Sypher
begin to feel bad.
She told Albina Widrig, and Albina told Miss Henn, and Miss Henn told
me, that "what to do she didn't know, it would deprive her of so much of
the deacon's society." It wuz goin' to devour so much of his time that
she wuz afraid she couldn't stand it. She told Albina in confidence (and
Albina wouldn't want it told of, nor Miss Henn, nor I wouldn't) that she
had often been obleeged to go out into the lot between breakfast and
dinner to see the deacon, not bein' able to stand it without lookin' on
his face till dinner time.
And when she was laid up with a lame foot it wuz known that the deacon
left his plowin' and went up to the house, or as fur as the door step,
four or five times in the course of a mornin's work, it wuz spozed
because she wuz fearful of forgettin' how he looked before noon.
She is a dretful admirin' woman.
She acts dretful reverential and admirin' towards men--always calls
her husband "the Deacon," as if he was the one lonely deacon who was
perambulatin' the globe at this present time. And it is spozed that
when she dreams about him she dreams of him as "the Deacon," and not as
Samuel (his given name is Samuel).
[Illustration: "THE INITIALS STOOD FOR 'MISS DEACON SYPHER.'"]
But we don't know that for certain. We only spoze it. For the land of
dreams is a place where you can't slip on your sun-bonnet and foller
neighbor wimmen to see what they are a-doin' or what they are a-sayin'
from hour to hour.
No, the best calculator on gettin' neighborhood news can't even look
into that land, much less foller a neighborin' female into it.
No, their barks have got to be moored outside of them mysterious shores.
But, as I said, this had been spozen.
But it is known from actual eyesight that she marks all her sheets, and
napkins, and piller-cases, and such, "M. D. S." And I asked her one day
what the M. stood for, for I 'spozed, of course, the D. S. stood for
And she told me with a real lot of dignity that the initials stood for
"Miss Deacon Sypher."
Wall, the Jonesville men have been in the habit of holdin' her up as a
pattern to their wives for some time, and the Jonesville wimmen
hain't hated her so bad as you would spoze they all would under
the circumstances, on account, we all think, of her bein' such a
good-hearted little creeter. We all like Drusilly and can't help it.
Wall, even she felt bad and deprested on account of her Deacon's goin'
into the buzz saw-mill business.
But she didn't say nothin', only wept out at one side, and wiped up
every time he came in sight.
They say that she hain't never failed once of a-smilin' on the Deacon
every time he came home. And once or twice he has got as mad as a hen at
her for smilin'. Once, when he came home with a sore thumb--he had jest
smashed it in the barn door--and she stood a-smilin' at him on the door
step, there are them that say the Deacon called her a "infernal fool."
But I never have believed it. I don't believe he would demean himself so
But he yelled out awful at her, I do 'spoze, for his pain wuz intense,
and she stood stun still, a-smilin' at him, jest accordin' to the story
books. And he sez:
"Stand there like a----fool, will you! Get me a _rag!_"
I guess he did say as much as that.
But they say she kept on a-smilin' for some time--couldn't seem to
stop, she had got so hardened into that way.
[Illustration: "ONCE, WHEN HER FACE WUZ ALL SWELLED UP, SHE SMILED AT
And once, when her face wuz all swelled up with the toothache, she
smiled at him accordin' to rule when he got home, and they say the
effect wuz fearful, both on her looks and the Deacon's acts. They say he
was mad again, and called her some names. But as a general thing they
get along first rate, I guess, or as well as married folks in general,
and he makes a good deal of her.
I guess they get along without any more than the usual amount of
difficulties between husbands and wives, and mebby with less. I know
this, anyway, that she just about worships the Deacon.
Wall, as I say, it was the very day that these three deacons went to
Loontown to meet Deacon Keeler and Deacon Huffer, to have a conference
together as to the interests of the buzz saw mill that I first heard
the news that wimmen wuz goin' to make a effort to set on the Methodist
Conference, and the way I heerd on't wuz as follows:
Josiah Allen brought home to me that night a paper that one of the
foreign deacons, Deacon Keeler, had lent him. It contained a article
that wuz wrote by Deacon Keeler's son, Casper Keeler--a witherin'
article about wimmen's settin' on the Conference. It made all sorts of
fun of the projeck.
We found out afterwards that Casper Keeler furnished nearly all the
capital for the buzz saw mill enterprise at his father's urgent request.
His father, Deacon Keeler, didn't have a cent of money of his own; it
fell onto Casper from his mother and aunt. They had kept a big millinery
store in the town of Lyme, and a branch store in Loontown, and wuz great
workers, and had laid up a big property. And when they died, the aunt,
bein' a maiden woman at the time, the money naturally fell onto Casper.
He wuz a only child, and they had brung him up tender, and fairly
They left him all the money, but left a anuety to be paid yearly to his
father, Deacon Keeler, enough to support him.
The Deacon and his wife had always lived happy together--she loved to
work, and he loved to have her work, so they had similar tastes, and wuz
very congenial--and when she died he had the widest crape on his hat
that wuz ever seen in the town of Lyme. (The crape was some she had left
in the shop.)
He mourned deep, both in his crape and his feelin's, there hain't a
doubt of that.
Wall, Miss Keelerses will provided money special for Casper to be
educated high. So he went to school and to college, from the time he was
born, almost. So he knew plenty of big words, and used 'em fairly lavish
in this piece. There wuz words in it of from six to seven syllables.
Why, I hadn't no idee till I see 'em with my own eye, that there wuz
any such words in the English language, and words of from four to six
syllables wuz common in it.
His father, Deacon Keeler, wouldn't give the paper to my companion, he
thought so much of it, but he offered to lend it to him, because he said
he felt that the idees it promulgated wuz so sound and deep they ought
to be disseminated abroad.
The idees wuz, "that wimmen hadn't no business to set on the Conference.
She wuz too weak to set on it. It wuz too high a place for her too
ventur' on, or to set on with any ease. There wuzn't no more than room
up there for what men would love to set on it. Wimmen's place wuz in the
sacred precinks of home. She wuz a tender, fragile plant, that needed
guardin' and guidin' and kep by man's great strength and tender care
from havin' any cares and labors whatsoever and wheresoever and
Josiah said it wuz a masterly dockument. And it wuz writ well. It
painted in wild, glarin' colors the fear that men had that wimmen would
strain themselves to do anything at all in the line of work--or would
weaken her hull constitution, and lame her moral faculties, and ruin
herself by tryin' to set up on a Conference, or any other high and
The piece wuz divided into three different parts, with a headin' in big
letters over each one.
The _first_ wuz, wimmen to have no labors and cares WHATSOEVER;
_Secondly_, NONE WHERESOEVER;
_Thirdly_, NONE HOWSUMEVER.
The writer then proceeded to say that he would show first, _what_ cares
and labors men wuz willin' and anxious to ward offen women. And he
proved right out in the end that there wuzn't a thing that they wanted
wimmen to do--not a single thing.
Then he proceeded to tell _where_ men wuz willin' to keep their labors
and cares offen wimmen. And he proved it right out that it wuz every
_where_. In the home, the little sheltered, love-guarded home of the
farmer, the mechanic and the artizen (makin' special mention of the buzz
sawyers). And also in the palace walls and the throne. There and every
_where_ men would fain shelter wimmen from every care, and every labor,
even the lightest and slightest.
Then lastly came the _howsumever_. He proceeded to show _how_ this could
be done. And he proved it right out (or thought he did) that the first
great requisit' to accomplish all this, wuz to keep wimmen in her
place. Keep her from settin' on the Conference, and all other tottlin'
eminences, fitted only for man's stalwart strength.
And the end of the article wuz so sort of tragick and skairful that
Josiah wept when he read it. He pictured it out in such strong colors,
the danger there wuz of puttin' wimmen, or allowin' her to put herself
in such a high and percipitous place, such a skairful and dangerous
posture as settin' up on a Conference.
[Illustration: "JOSIAH WEPT WHEN HE READ IT."]
"To have her set up on it," sez the writer, in conclusion, "would
endanger her life, her spiritual, her mental and her moral growth. It
would shake the permanency of the sacred home relations to its downfall.
It would hasten anarchy, and he thought sizm." Why, Josiah Allen
handled that paper as if it wuz pure gold. I know he asked me anxiously
as he handed it to me to read, "if my hands wuz perfectly clean," and we
had some words about it.
And till he could pass it on to Deacon Sypher to read he kep it in the
Bible. He put it right over in Galatians, for I looked to see--Second
And he wrapped it up in a soft handkerchief when he carried it over to
Deacon Sypherses. And Deacon Sypher treasured it like a pearl of great
price (so I spoze) till he could pass it on to Deacon Henzy.
And Deacon Henzy was to carry it with care to a old male Deacon in Zoar,
Wall, as I say, that is the very first I had read about their bein' any
idee promulgated of wimmens settin' up on the Conference.
And I, in spite of Josiah Allen's excitement, wuz in favor on't from the
Yes, I wuz awfully in favor of it, and all I went through durin' the
next and ensuin' weeks didn't put the idee out of my head. No, far from
it. It seemed as if the severer my sufferin's wuz, the much more this
idee flourished in my soul. Just as a heavy plow will meller up the soil
so white lilies can take root, or any other kind of sweet posies.
And oh! my heart! wuz not my sufferin's with Lodema Trumble, a hard plow
and a harrowin' one, and one that turned up deep furrows?
But of this, more anon and bimeby.
Wall, it wuz on the very next day--on a Thursday as I remember well, for
I wuz a-thinkin' why didn't Lodema's letter come the next day--Fridays
bein' considered onlucky--and it being a day for punishments, hangin's,
and so forth.
But it didn't, it came on a Thursday. And my companion had been to
Jonesville and brung me back two letters; he brung 'em in, leavin' the
old mair standin' at the gate, and handed me the letters, ten pounds of
granulated sugar, a pound of tea, and the request I should have supper
on the table by the time that he got back from Deacon Henzy's.
(On that old buzz-saw business agin, so I spozed, but wouldn't ask.)
Wall, I told him supper wuz begun any way, and he had better hurry back.
But he wuz belated by reason of Deacon Henzy's bein' away, so I set
there for some time alone.
Wall, I wuz goin' to have some scolloped oysters for supper, so the
first thing I did wuz to put 'em into the oven--they wuz all ready, I
had scolloped 'em before Josiah come, and got 'em all ready for the
oven--and then I set down and read my letters.
Wall, the first one I opened wuz from Lodema Trumble, Josiah's cousin on
his own side. And her letter brought the sad and harrowin' intelligence
that she was a-comin' to make us a good long visit. The letter had been
delayed. She was a-comin' that very night, or the next day. Wall, I
sithed deep. I love company dearly, but--oh my soul, is there not a
difference, a difference in visitors?
Wall, suffice it to say, I sithed deep, and opened the other letter,
thinkin' it would kind o' take my mind off.
And for all the world! I couldn't hardly believe my eyes. But it wuz! It
wuz from Serena Fogg. It wuz from the Authoress of "Wedlock's Peaceful
I hadn't heard a word from her for upwards of four years. And the letter
brung me startlin' intelligence.
It opened with the unexpected information that she wuz married. She had
been married three years and a half to a butcher out to the Ohio.
And I declare my first thought wuz as I read it, "Wall, she has wrote
dretful flowery on wedlock, and its perfect, onbroken calm, and peaceful
repose, and now she has had a realizin' sense of what it really is."
But when I read a little further, I see what the letter wuz writ for. I
see why, at this late day, she had started up and writ me a letter. I
see it wuz writ on duty.
She said she had found out that I wuz in the right on't and she wuzn't.
She said that when in the past she had disputed me right up and down,
and insisted that wedlock wuz a state of perfect serenity, never broken
in upon by any cares or vexations whatsomever, she wuz in the wrong
She said she had insisted that when anybody had moored their barks into
that haven of wedded life, that they wuz forever safe from any rude
buffetin's from the world's waves; that they wuz exempt from any toil,
any danger, any sorrow, any trials whatsomever. And she had found she
She said I told her it wuz a first-rate state, and a satisfactory one
for wimmen; but still it had its trials, and she had found it so. She
said that I insisted its serenity wuz sometimes broken in upon, and she
had found it so. The last day at my house had tottled her faith, and her
own married experience had finished the work. Her husband wuz a worthy
man, and she almost worshipped him. But he had a temper, and he raved
round considerable when meals wuzn't ready on time, and she havin' had
two pairs of twins durin' her union (she comes from a family on her
mother's side, so I had hearn before, where twins wuz contagious), she
couldn't always be on the exact minute. She had to work awful hard; this
broke in on her serenity.
Her husband devotedly loved her, so she said; but still, she said, his
bootjack had been throwed voyalent where corns wuz hit onexpected.
[Illustration: "FOUR TWINS BROKE IN ALSO ON HER WAVELESS CALM."]
Their souls wuz mated firm as they could be in deathless ties of
affection and confidence, yet doors _had_ been slammed and oaths
emitted, when clothin' rent and buttons tarried not with him. Strange
actions and demeanors had been displayed in hours of high-headedness and
impatience, which had skaired her almost to death before gettin'
accustomed to 'em.
The four twins broke in also on her waveless calm. They wuz lovely
cherubs, and the four apples of her eyes. But they did yell at times,
they kicked, they tore round and acted; they made work--lots of work.
And one out of each pair snored. It broke up each span, as you may say.
The snorin' filled each room devoted to 'em.
_He_ snored, loud. A good man and a noble man he wuz, so she repeated
it, but she found out too late--too late, that he snored. The house wuz
small; she could _not_ escape from snores, turn she where she would. She
got tired out with her work days, and couldn't rest nights. Her husband,
as he wuz doin' such a flourishin' business, had opened a cattle-yard
near the house. She wuz proud of his growin' trade, but the bellerin'
of the cattle disturbed her fearfully. Also the calves bleating and the
lambs callin' on their dams.
It wuz a long letter, filled with words like these, and it ended up by
saying that for years now she had wanted to write and tell me that I had
been in the right on't and she in the wrong. I had been megum and she
hadn't. And she ended by sayin', "God bless me and adoo."
[Illustration: THE LECTURE.]
The fire crackled softly on the clean hearth. The teakettle sung a song
of welcome and cheer. The oysters sent out an agreeable atmosphere. The
snowy table, set out in pretty china and glassware, looked invitin', and
I set there comfortable and happy and so peaceful in my frame, that the
events of the past, in which Serena Fogg had flourished, seemed but as
I thought it all over, that pleasant evenin' in the past, when Josiah
Allen had come in unexpected, and brung the intelligence to me that
there wuz goin' to be a lectur' give that evenin' by a young female at
the Jonesville school-house, and beset me to go.
And I give my consent. Then my mind travelled down that pleasant road,
moongilded, to the school-house. It stopped on the door-step while
Josiah hitched the mair.
We found the school-house crowded full, fur a female lecturer wuz a
rarity, and she wuz a pretty girl, as pretty a girl as I ever see in my
And it wuz a pretty lecture, too, dretful pretty. The name of the
lecture wuz, "Wedlock's Peaceful and Perfect Repose."
A pretty name, I think, and it wuz a beautiful lecture, very, and
extremely flowery. It affected some of the hearers awfully; they wuz
all carried away with it. Josiah Allen wept like a child durin' the
rehearsin' of it. I myself didn't weep, but I enjoyed it, some of it,
I can't begin to tell it all as she did, 'specially after this length of
time, in such a lovely, flowery way, but I can probably give a few of
the heads of it.
It hain't no ways likely that I can give the heads half the stylish,
eloquent look that she did as she held 'em up, but I can jest give the
She said that there had been a effort made in some directions to try to
speak against the holy state of matrimony. The papers had been full of
the subject, "Is Marriage a Failure, or is it not?"
She had even read these dreadful words--"Marriage is a Failure." She
hated these words, she despised 'em. And while some wicked people spoke
against this holy institution, she felt it to be her duty, as well as
privilege, to speak in its praise.
I liked it first rate, I can tell you, when she went on like that. For
no living soul can uphold marriage with a better grace that can she
whose name vuz once Smith.
I _love_ Josiah Allen, I am _glad_ that I married him. But at the same
time, my almost devoted love doesn't make me blind. I can see on every
side of a subject, and although, as I said heretofore, and prior, I love
Josiah Allen, I also love megumness, and I could not fully agree with
every word she said.
But she went on perfectly beautiful--I didn't wonder it brought the
school-house down--about the holy calm and perfect rest of marriage, and
how that calm wuz never invaded by any rude cares.
How man watched over the woman he loved; how he shielded her from every
rude care; kept labor and sorrow far, far from her; how woman's life wuz
like a oneasy, roarin', rushin' river, that swept along discontented and
onsatisfied, moanin' and lonesome, until it swept into the calm sea of
Repose--melted into union with the grand ocian of Rest, marriage.
And then, oh! how calm and holy and sheltered wuz that state! How
peaceful, how onruffled by any rude changes! Happiness, Peace, Calm! Oh,
how sweet, how deep wuz the ocian of True Love in which happy, united
souls bathed in blissful repose!
[Illustration: "HE HAD ON A NEW VEST."]
It was dretful pretty talk, and middlin' affectin'. There wasn't a dry
eye in Josiah Allen's head, and I didn't make no objection to his givin'
vent to his feelin's, only when I see him bust out a-weepin' I jest
slipped my pocket-handkerchief 'round his neck and pinned it behind.
(His handkerchief wuz in constant use, a cryin' and weepin' as he wuz.)
And I knew that salt water spots black satin awfully. He had on a new
Submit Tewksbury cried and wept, and wept and cried, caused by
remembrances, it wuz spozed. Of which, more anon, and bimeby.
And Drusilly Sypher, Deacon Sypherses wife, almost had a spazzum, caused
by admiration and bein' so highly tickled.
I myself didn't shed any tears, as I have said heretofore. And what kep'
me calmer wuz, I _knew_, I knew from the bottom of my heart, that she
went too fur, she wuzn't megum enough.
And then she went on to draw up metafors, and haul in illustrations,
comparin' married life and single--jest as likely metafors as I ever
see, and as good illustrations as wuz ever brung up, only they every one
of 'em had this fault--when she got to drawin' 'em, she drawed 'em too
fur. And though she brought the school-house down, she didn't convince
[Illustration: "I MYSELF DIDN'T SHED ANY TEARS."]
Once she compared single life to a lonely goose travellin' alone acrost
the country, 'cross lots, lonesome and despairin', travellin' along
over a thorny way, and desolate, weighed down by melancholy and gloomy
forebodin's, and takin' a occasional rest by standin' up on one cold
foot and puttin' its weery head under its wing, with one round eye
lookin' out for dangers that menaced it, and lookin', also, perhaps, for
a possible mate, for the comin' gander--restless, wobblin', oneasy,
Why, she brought the school-house down, and got the audience all wrought
up with pity, and sympathy. Oh, how Submit Tewksbury did weep; she wept
aloud (she had been disappointed, but of this more bimeby).
And then she went on and compared that lonesome voyager to two blissful
wedded ones. A pair of white swans floatin' down the waveless calm,
bathed in silvery light, floatin' down a shinin' stream that wuz never
broken by rough waves, bathed in a sunshine that wuz never darkened by a
And then she went on to bring up lots of other things to compare the two
states to--flowery things and sweet, and eloquent.
She compared single life to quantities of things, strange, weird,
melancholy things, and curius. Why, they wuz so powerful that every one
of 'em brought the school-house down.
And then she compared married life to two apple blossoms hangin'
together on one leafy bough on the perfumed June air, floatin' back and
forth under the peaceful benediction of summer skies.
And she compared it to two white lambs gambolin' on the velvety
hill-side. To two strains of music meltin' into one dulcet harmony,
perfect, divine harmony, with no discordant notes.
Josiah hunched me, he wanted me to cry there, at that place, but I
wouldn't. He did, he cried like an infant babe, and I looked close and
searchin' to see if my handkerchief covered up all his vest.
He didn't seem to take no notice of his clothes at all, he wuz a-weepin'
so--why, the whole schoolhouse wept, wept like a babe.
But I didn't. I see it wuz a eloquent and powerful effort. I see it was
beautiful as anything could be, but it lacked that one thing I have
mentioned prior and before this time. It lacked megumness.
I knew they wuz all impressive and beautful illustrations, I couldn't
deny it, and I didn't want to deny it. But I knew in my heart that the
lonely goose that she had talked so eloquent about, I knew that though
its path might be tegus the most of the time, yet occasionally it
stepped upon velvet grass and blossomin' daisies. And though the happy
wedded swans floated considerable easy a good deal of the time, yet
occasionally they had their wings rumpled by storms, thunder storms,
sudden squalls, and et cetery, et cetery.
And I knew the divine harmony of wedded love, though it is the sweetest
that earth affords, I knew that, and my Josiah knew it--the very
sweetest and happiest strains that earthly lips can sing.
Yet I knew that it wuz both heavenly sweet, and divinely sad, blended
discord and harmony. I knew there wuz minor chords in it, as well as
major, I knew that we must await love's full harmony in heaven. There
shall we sing it with the pure melody of the immortals, my Josiah and
me. But I am a eppisodin', and to continue and resoom.
Wall, we wuz invited to meet the young female after the lecture wuz
over, to be introduced to her and talk it over.
She wuz the Methodist minister's wive's cousin, and the minister's wife
told me she wuz dretful anxious to get my opinion on the lecture. I
spoze she wanted to get the opinion of one of the first wimmen of the
day. For though I am fur from bein' the one that ort to mention it, I
have heard of such things bein' said about me all round Jonesville, and
as far as Loontown and Shackville. And so, I spoze, she wanted to get
hold of my opinion.
Wall, I wuz introduced to her, and I shook hands with her, and kissed
her on both cheeks, for she is a sweet girl and I liked her looks.
I could see that she was very, VERY sentimental, but she had a sweet,
confidin', innocent look to her, and I give her a good kissin' and I
meant it. When I like a person, I _do_ like 'em, and visy-versey.
But at the same time my likin' for a person mustn't be strong enough to
overthrow my principles. And when she asked me in her sweet axents, "How
I liked her lecture, and if I could see any faults in it?" I leaned up
against Duty, and told her, "I liked it first-rate, but I couldn't agree
with every word of it."
Here Josiah Allen give me a look sharp enough to take my head clear off,
if looks could behead anybody. But they can't.
And I kept right on, calm and serene, and sez I, "It wuz very full of
beautiful idees, as full of 'em as a rose-bush is full of sweetness in
June, but," says I, "if I speak at all I must tell the truth, and I must
say that while your lecture is as sweet and beautiful a effort as I ever
see tackled, full of beautiful thoughts, and eloquence, still I must say
that in my opinion it lacked one thing, it wuzn't mean enough."
"Mean enough?" sez she. "What do you mean?"
"Why," sez I, "I mean, mean temperature, you know, middleinness,
megumness, and whatever you may call it; you go too fur."
She said with a modest look "that she guessed she didn't, she guessed
she didn't go too far."
And Josiah Allen spoke up, cross as a bear, and, sez he, "I know she
didn't. She didn't say a word that wuzn't gospel truth."
Sez I, "Married life is the happiest life in my opinion; that is, when
it is happy. Some hain't happy, but at the same time the happiest of 'em
hain't _all_ happiness."
"It is," sez Josiah (cross and surly), "it is, too."
[Illustration: "YOU GO TOO FUR."]
And Serena Fogg said, gently, that she thought I wuz mistaken, "she
thought it wuz." And Josiah jined right in with her and said:
"He _knew_ it wuz, and he would take his oath to it."
But I went right on, and, sez I, "Mebby it is in one sense the most
peaceful; that is, when the affections are firm set and stabled it makes
'em more peaceful than when they are a-traipsin' round and a-wanderin'.
But," sez I, "marriage hain't _all_ peace."
Sez Josiah: "It is, and I'll swear to it."
Sez I, goin' right on, cool and serene, "The sunshine of true love gilds
the pathway with the brightest radiance we know anything about, but it
hain't all radiance."
"Yes, it is," sez Josiah, firmly, "it is, every mite of it."
And Serena Fogg sez, tenderly and amiably, "Yes, I think Mr. Allen is
right; I think it is."
"Wall," sez I, in meanin' axcents, awful meanin', "when you are married
you will change your opinion, you mark my word."
And she said, gently, but persistently, "That she guessed she shouldn't;
she guessed she was in the right of it."
Sez I, "You think when anybody is married they have got beyend all
earthly trials, and nothin' but perfect peace and rest remains?"
And she sez, gently, "Yes, mem!"
"Why," sez I, "I am married, and have been for upwards of twenty years,
and I think I ought to know somethin' about it; and how can it be called
a state of perfect rest, when some days I have to pass through as many
changes as a comet, and each change a tegus one. I have to wabble round
and be a little of everything, and change sudden, too.
"I have to be a cook, a step-mother, a housemaid, a church woman, a wet
nurse (lots of times I have to wade out in the damp grass to take care
of wet chickens and goslins). I have to be a tailoress, a dairy-maid,
a literary soarer, a visitor, a fruit-canner, a adviser, a soother, a
dressmaker, a hostess, a milliner, a gardener, a painter, a surgeon, a
doctor, a carpenter, a woman, and more'n forty other things.
"Marriage is a first-rate state, and agreeable a good deal of the time;
but it haint a state of perfect peace and rest, and you'll find out it
haint if you are ever married."
But Miss Fogg said, mildly, "that she thought I wuz mistaken--she
thought it wuz."
"You do?" sez I.
"Yes, mem," sez she.
I got up, and sez I, "Come, Josiah, I guess we had better be a-goin'."
I thought it wouldn't do no good to argue any more with her, and Josiah
started off after the mair. He had hitched it on the barn floor.
She didn't seem willin' to have me go; she seemed to cling to me. She
seemed to be a good, affectionate little creetur. And she said she would
give anything almost if she could rehearse the hull lecture over to me,
and have me criticise it. Sez she:
"I have heard so much about you, and what a happy home you have."
"Yes," sez I, "it is as happy as the average of happy homes, any way."
And sez she, "I have heard that you and your husband wuz just devoted to
each other." And I told her "that our love for each other wuz like two
rocks that couldn't be moved."
And she said, "On these very accounts she fairly hankered after my
advice and criticism. She said she hadn't never lived in any house where
there wuz a livin' man, her father havin' died several months before she
was born; and she hadn't had the experience that I had, and she presumed
that I could give her several little idees that she hadn't thought on."
And I told her calmly "that I presumed I could."
It seemed that her father died two months after marriage, right in the
midst of the mellow light of the honeymoon, before he had had time to
drop the exstatic sweetness of courtship and newly-married bliss and
come down into the ordinary, everyday, good and bad demeanors of men.
And she had always lived with her mother (who naturally worshipped
and mentally knelt before the memory of her lost husband) and three
sentimental maiden aunts. And they had drawed all their knowledge of
manhood from Moore's poems and Solomon's Songs. So Serena Fogg's idees
of men and married life wuz about as thin and as well suited to stand
the wear and tear of actual experience as a gauze dress would be to face
a Greenland winter in.
And so, after considerable urgin' on her part (for I kinder hung back
and hated to tackle the job, but not knowin' but that it wuz duty's
call), I finally consented, and it wuz arranged this way:
She wuz to come down to our house some day, early in the mornin', and
stay all day, and she wuz to stand up in front of me and rehearse the
lecture over to me, and I wuz to set and hear it, and when she came to a
place where I didn't agree with her I wuz to lift up my right hand and
she wuz to stop rehearsin', and we wuz to argue with each other back and
forth and try to convince each other.
And when we got it all arranged Josiah and I set out for home, I calm in
my frame, though dreadin' the job some.
But Josiah Allen wuz jest crazy over that lecture--crazy as a loon. He
raved about it all the way home, and he would repeat over lots of it
to me. About "how a man's love was the firm anchor that held a woman's
happiness stiddy; how his calm and peaceful influence held her mind in
a serene calm--a waveless repose; how tender men wuz of the fair sect,
how they watched over 'em and held 'em in their hearts."
"Oh," sez he, "it went beyond anything I ever heard of. I always knew
that men wuz good and pious, but I never realized how dumb pious they
wuz till to-night"
"She said," sez I, in considerable dry axents--not so dry as I keep by
me, but pretty dry--"No true man would let a woman perform any manuel
"Wall, he won't. There ain't no need of your liftin' your little finger
in emanuel labor."
"Wall, I said so, didn't I? Hain't I always holdin' you back from work?"
"Yes," sez I. "You often speak of it, Josiah. You are as good," sez I,
firmly, "full as good as the common run of men, and I think a little
better. But there are things that have to be done. A married woman that
has a house and family to see to and don't keep a hired girl, can't get
along without some work and care."
"Wall I say," sez he, "that there hain't no need of you havin' a care,
not a single care. Not as long as I live--if it wuzn't for me, you might
have some cares, and most probable would, but not while I live."
I didn't say nothin' back, for I don't want to hurt his feelin's, and
won't, not if I can help it. And he broke out again anon, or nearly
[Illustration: "OH, WHAT A LECTURE THAT WUZ."]
"Oh, what a lecture that wuz. Did you notice when she wuz goin' on
perfectly beautiful, about the waveless sea of married life--did you
notice how it took the school house down? And I wuz perfectly mortified
to see you didn't weep or even clap your hands."
"Wall," sez I, firmly, "when I weep or when I clap, I weep and clap
on the side of truth. And I can't see things as she duz. I have been
a-sailin' on that sea she depictured for over twenty years, and have
never wanted to leave it for any other waters. But, as I told her, and
tell you now, it hain't always a smooth sea, it has its ups and downs,
jest like any other human states."
Sez I, soarin' up a very little ways, not fur, for it wuz too cold, and
I was too tired, "There hain't but one sea, Josiah Allen, that is calm
forever, and one day we will float upon it, you and me. It is the sea
by which angels walk and look down into its crystal depths, and behold
their blessed faces. It is the sea on whose banks the fadeless lilies
blow--and that mirrors the soft, cloudless sky of the Happy Morning. It
is the sea of Eternal Repose, that rude blasts can never blow up into
billows. But our sea--the sea of married life--is not like that, it is
ofttimes billowy and rough."
"I say it hain't," sez he, for he was jest carried away with the
lecture, and enthused. "We have had a happy time together, Josiah Allen,
for over twenty years, but has our sea of life always been perfectly
"Yes, it has; smooth as glass."
"Hain't there never been a cloud in our sky?"
"No, there hain't; not a dumb cloud."
Sez I, sternly, "There has in mine. Your wicked and profane swearin' has
cast many and many a cloud over my sky, and I'd try to curb in my tongue
if I was in your place."
"'Dumb' hain't swearin'," sez he. And then he didn't say nothin' more
till anon, or nearly at that time, he broke out agin, and sez he:
"Never, never did I hear or see such eloquence till to-night I'll have
that girl down to our house to stay a week, if I'm a living Josiah
"All right," sez I, cheerfully. "I'd love to have her stay a week or
ten days, and I'll invite her, too, when she comes down to rehearse her
Wall we got home middlin' tired, and the subject kinder dropped down,
and Josiah had lots of work come on the next day, and so did I, and
company. And it run along for over a week before she come. And when she
did come, it wuz in a dreadful bad time. It seems as if she couldn't
have come in a much worse time.
It wuz early one mornin', not more than nine o'clock, if it wuz that.
There had come on a cold snap of weather unexpected, and Josiah wuz
a-bringin' in the cook stove from the summer kitchen, when she come.
Josiah Allen is a good man. He is my choice out of a world full of men,
but I can't conceal it from myself that his words at such a time are
always voyalent, and his demeanor is not the demeanor that I would wish
to have showed off to the public.
He wuz at the worst place, too. He had got the stove wedged into the
entry-way door, and couldn't get it either way. He had acted awkward
with it, and I told him so, and he see it when it wuz too late.
He had got it fixed in such a way that he couldn't get into the kitchen
himself without gettin' over the stove, and I, in the course of duty,
thought it wuz right to tell him that if he had heerd to me he wouldn't
have been in such a fix. Oh! the voyalence and frenzy of his demeanor as
he stood there a-hollerin'. I wuz out in the wood-house shed a-bilin' my
cider apple sass in the big cauldron kettle, but I heard the racket,
and as I come a-runnin' in I thought I heard a little rappin' at the
settin'-room door, but I didn't notice it much, I wuz that agitated to
see the way the stove and Josiah wuz set and wedged in.
There the stove wuz, wedged firm into the doorway, perfectly sot there.
There wuz sut all over the floor, and there stood Josiah Allen, on the
wood-house side, with his coat off, his shirt all covered with black,
and streaks of black all over his face. And oh! how wild and almost
frenzied his attitude wuz as he stood there as if he couldn't move nor
be moved no more than the stove could. And oh! the voyalence of the
language he hurled at me acrost that stove.
"Why," sez I, "you must come in here, Josiah Allen, and pull it from
And then he hollered at me, and asked me:
"How in thunder he was a goin' to _get_ in." And then he wanted to know
"if I wanted him squshed into jelly by comin' in by the side of it--or
if I thought he wuz a crane, that he could step over it or a stream
of water that he could run under it, or what else do you think?" He
"Wall," sez I, "you hadn't ort to got it fixed in that shape. I told
you what end to move first," sez I. "You have moved it in side-ways. It
would go in all right if you had started it the other way."
"Oh, yes! It would have been all right. You love to see me, Samantha,
with a stove in my arms. You love it dearly. I believe you would be
perfectly happy if you could see me a luggin' round stoves every day.
But I'll tell you one thing, if this dumb stove is ever moved either way
out of this door--if I ever get it into a room agin, it never shall
be stirred agin so much as a hair's breadth--not while I have got the
breath of life in me."
Sez I, "Hush! I hear somebody a-knockin' at the door."
"I won't hush. It is nothin' but dumb foolishness a movin' round stoves,
and if anybody don't believe it let 'em look at me--and let 'em look at
that stove set right here in the door as firm as a rock."
[Illustration: "WON'T YOU BE STILL?"]
Sez I agin in a whisper, "Do be still, and I'll let 'em in, I don't want
them to ketch you a talkin' so and a-actin'." "Wall, I want 'em to
ketch me, that is jest what I want 'em to do. If it is a man he'll say
every word I say is Gospel truth, and if it is a woman it will make her
perfectly happy to see me a-swelterin' in the job--seven times a year do
I have to move this stove back and forth--and I say it is high time I
said a word. So you can let 'em in just as quick as you are a mind to."
Sez I, a whisperin' and puttin' my finger on my lip:
"Won't you be still?"
"No, I won't be still!" he yelled out louder than ever. "And you may go
through all the motions you want to and you can't stop me. All you have
got to do is to walk round and let folks in, happy as a king. Nothin'
under the heavens ever made a woman so happy as to have some man
a-breakin' his back a-luggin' round a stove."
I see he wouldn't stop, so I had to go and open the door, and there
stood Serena Fogg, there stood the author of "Wedlock's Peaceful
Repose." I felt like a fool. For I knew she had heard every word, I see
she had by her looks. She looked skairt, and as surprised and sort o'
awe-stricken as if she had seen a ghost. I took her into the parlor, and
took her things, and I excused myself by tellin' her that I should have
to be out in the kitchen a-tendin' to things for a spell, and went back
And I whispered to him, sez I: "Miss Fogg has come, and she has heard
every word you have said, Josiah Allen. And what will she think now
about Wedlock's Peaceful Repose?"
But he had got that wild and reckless in his demeanor and acts, that
he went right on with his hollerin', and, sez he, "She won't find much
repose here to-day, and I'll tell her that. This house has got to be all
tore to pieces to get that stove started."
Sez I, "There won't be nothin' to do only to take off one side of the
door casin'. And I believe it can be done without that."
"Oh, you believe! you believe! You'd better take holt and lug and lift
for two hours as I have, and then see."
Sez I, "You hain't been here more'n ten minutes, if you have that. And
there," sez I, liftin' up one end a little, "see what anybody can do who
is calm. There I have stirred it, and now you can move it right along."
"Oh, _you_ did it! I moved it myself."
I didn't contend, knowin' it wuz men's natural nater to say that.
[Illustration: "AND HE SAID I HAD RUBBED 'EM OUT."]
Wall, at last Josiah got the stove in, but then the stove-pipe wouldn't
go together, it wouldn't seem to fit. He had marked the joints with
chalk, and the marks had rubbed off, and he said I had "rubbed 'em out."
I wuz just as innocent as a babe, but I didn't dispute him much, for I
see a little crack open in the parlor door, and I knew the author of
"Wedlock's Peaceful Repose" was a-listenin'.
But when he told me for the third time that I rubbed 'em out on purpose
to make him trouble, and that I had made a practice of rubbin' 'em out
for years and years--why, then I _had_ to correct him on the subject,
and we had a little dialogue.
I spoze Serena Fogg heard it. But human nater can't bear only just so
much, especially when it has stoves a dirtien up the floor, and apple
sass on its mind, and unexpected company, and no cookin' and a threshin'
Never knew a word about the threshin' machine a-comin' till about half
an hour before. Josiah Allen wuzn't to blame. It come just as onexpected
onto him as it did onto me.
Solomon Gowdey wuz a-goin' to have 'em first, which would have left me
ample time to cook up for 'em. But he wuz took down bed sick, so they
had to come right onto us with no warnin' previous and beforehand.
They wuz a drivin' up just as Josiah got the stove-pipe up. They had to
go right by the side of the house, right by the parlor winders, to get
to the side of the barn where they wanted to thresh; and just as they
wuz a-goin' by one of the horses got down, and of all the yellin' I ever
heard that was the cap sheaf.
Steve Yerden is rough on his horses, dretful rough. He yells at 'em
enough to raise the ruff. His threshin' machine is one of the kind where
the horses walk up and look over the top. It is kinder skairful any way,
and it made it as bad agin when you expected to see the horse fall out
Wall, that very horse fell out of the machine three times that day. It
wuz a sick horse, I believe, and hadn't ort to have been worked. But
three times it fell, and each time the yellin' wuz such that it skairt
the author of "Peaceful Repose," and me, almost to death.
The machine wuz in plain sight of the house, and every time we see the
horse's head come a mountin' up on top of the machine, we expected that
over it would go. But though it didn't fall out only three times, as I
said, it kep' us all nerved up and uneasy the hull of the time expectin'
it. And Steve Yerden kep' a-yellin' at his horses all the time; there
wuzn't no comfort to be took within a mile of him.
I wuz awful sorry it happened so, on her account.
[Illustration: "IT DIDN'T FALL OUT ONLY THREE TIMES."]
Wall, I had to get dinner for nine men, and cook if all from the very
beginnin'. If you'll believe it, I had to begin back to bread. I hadn't
any bread in the house, but I had it a-risin', and I got two loaves out
by dinner time. But I had to stir round lively, I can tell you, to make
pies and cookies and fried cakes, and cook meat, and vegetables of all
The author of "Wedlock's Peaceful Repose" came out into the kitchen. I
told her she might, if she wanted to, for I see I wuzn't goin' to have a
minute's time to go into the parlor and visit with her.
She looked pretty sober and thoughtful, and I didn't know as she liked
it, to think I couldn't do as I promised to do, accordin' to agreement,
to hear her lecture, and lift my hand up when I differed from her.
But, good land! I couldn't help it. I couldn't get a minute's time to
lift my hand up. I could have heard the lecture, but I couldn't spare my
And then Josiah would come a-rushin' in after one thing and another,
actin' as was natural, accordin' to the nater of man, more like a wild
man than a Christian Methodist. For he was so wrought up and excited by
havin' so much on his hands to do, and the onexpectedness of it, that he
couldn't help actin' jest as he did act. I don't believe he could. And
then Steve Yerden is enough to distract a leather-man, any way.
[Illustration: "TO FIND A PIECE OF OLD ROPE TO TIE UP THE HARNESS."]
Twice I had to drop everything and find cloths to do up the horse's
legs, where it had grazed 'em a-fallin' out of the machine. And once I
took my hands out of the pie-crust to find a piece of old rope to tie up
the harness. It seemed as if I left off every five minutes to wait on
Josiah Allen, to find somethin' that he wanted and couldn't find, or
else to do somethin' for him that he couldn't do.
Truly, it was a wild and harrowin' time, and tegus. But I kept a firm
holt of my principles, and didn't groan--not when anybody could hear me.
I won't deny that I did, out in the buttery by myself, give vent to a
groan or two, and a few sithes. But immegiately, or a very little after,
I was calm again.
Wall, worse things wuz a-comin' onto me, though I didn't know it. I owed
a tin peddler; had been owin' him for four weeks. I owed him twenty-five
pounds of paper rags, for a new strainer. I had been expectin' him for
over three weeks every day. But in all the three hundred and sixty-five
days of the year, there wuzn't another day that would satisfy him; he
had got to come on jest that day, jest as I wuz fryin' my nut cakes for
I tried to put him off till another day. But no! He said it wuz his last
trip, and he must have his rags. And so I had to put by my work, and lug
down my rag-bag. His steel-yards wuz broke, so he had to weigh 'em in
the house. It wuz a tegus job, for he wuz one of the perticuler kind,
and had to look 'em all over before he weighed 'em, and pick out every
little piece of brown paper, or full cloth--everything, he said, that
wouldn't make up into the nicest kind of writin' paper.
And my steel-yards wuz out of gear any way, so they wouldn't weigh but
five pounds at a time, and he wuz dretful perticuler to have 'em just
right by the notch.
And he would call on me to come and see just how the steel-yards stood
every time. (He wuz as honest as the day; I hain't a doubt of it.)
But it wuz tegus, fearful tegus, and excitin'. Excitin', but not
exhileratin', to have the floor all covered with rags of different
shapes and sizes, no two of a kind. It wuz a curius time before he come,
and a wild time, but what must have been the wildness, and the curosity
when there wuz, to put a small estimate on it, nearly a billion of crazy
lookin' rags scattered round on the floor.
[Illustration: "SHE LOOKED CURIUS, CURIUSER THAN THE FLOOR LOOKED."]
But I kep' calm; I have got giant self-control, and I used every mite of
it, every atom of control I had by me, and kep' calm. I see I must--for
I see that Miss Fogg looked bad; yes, I see that the author of
"Wedlock's Peaceful Repose" wuz pretty much used up. She looked curius,
curiuser than the floor looked, and that is goin' to the complete end of
curosity, and metafor.
Wall, I tussled along and got dinner ready. The tin peddler had to stay
to dinner, of course. I couldn't turn him out jest at dinner time. And
sometimes I almost think that he delayed matters and touzled 'round
amongst them rags jest a purpose to belate himself, so he would have to
stay to dinner.
I am called a good cook. It is known 'way out beyend Loontown and
Zoar--it is talked about, I spoze. Wall, he stayed to dinner. But he
only made fourteen; there wuz only thirteen besides him, so I got along.
And I had a good dinner and enough of it.
I had to wait on the table, of course--that is, the tea and coffee. And
I felt that a cup of good, strong tea would be a paneky. I wuz that wore
out and flustrated that I felt that I needed a paneky to soothe.
And I got the rest all waited on and wuz jest a liftin' my cup to my
lips, the cup that cheers everybody but don't inebriate 'em--good,
strong Japan tea with cream in it. Oh, how good it smelt. But I hadn't
fairly got it to my mouth when I wuz called off sudden, before I had
drinked a drop, for the case demanded help at once.
Miss Peedick had unexpected company come in, jest as they wuz a-settin'
down to the dinner-table, and she hadn't hardly anything for dinner, and
the company wuz very genteel--a minister and a Justice of the Peace--so
she wanted to borrow a loaf of bread and a pie.
She is a good neighbor and is one that will put herself out for a
neighborin' female, and I went into the buttery, almost on the run, to
get 'em for her, for her girl said she wanted to get 'em into the house
and onto the table before Mr. Peedick come in with 'em from the horse
barn, for they knew that Mr. Peedick would lead 'em out to dinner the
very second they got into the house, and Miss Peedick didn't want her
husband to know that she had borrowed vittles, for he would be sure to
let the cat out of the bag, right at the table, by speakin' about 'em
and comparin' 'em with hern.
I see the necessity for urgent haste, and the trouble wuz that I hurried
too much. In takin' down a pie in my awful hurry, I tipped over a pan of
milk right onto my dress. It wuz up high and I wuz right under the
shelf, so that about three tea-cupsful went down into my neck. But the
most went onto my dress, about five quarts, I should judge besides that
that wuz tricklin' down my backbone.
[Illustration: "I SEE THE NECESSITY FOR URGENT HASTE."]
Wall, I started Serintha Ann Peedick off with her ma's pie and bread,
and then wiped up the floor as well as I could, and then I had to go and
change my clothes. I had to change 'em clear through to my wrapper, for
I wuz wet as sop--as wet as if I had been takin' a milk swim.
Wall, the author of "Wedlock's Peaceful Repose" wuz a-waitin' for me to
the table; the men had all got through and gone out. She sot right by
me, and she had missed me, I could see. Her eyes looked bigger than
ever, and more sad like.
She said, "she was dretful sorry for me," and I believed her.
She asked me in a awe-stricken tone, "if I had such trials every day?"
And I told her "No, I didn't." I told her that things would run along
smooth and agreeable for days and days, but that when things got to
happenin', they would happen right along for weeks at a time, sometimes,
dretful curius. A hull batch of difficulties would rain down on anybody
to once. Sez I, "You know Mr. Shakespeare says that' Sorrows never come
a-spyin' along as single fighters, but they come in hull battles of
'em,' or words to that effect."
Sez I, in reasonable axents, "Mebby I shall have a hull lot of good
things happen to me right along, one after another, some dretful
agreeable days, and easy."
Sez she in the same sad axents, and wonderin', "Did you ever have
another day in your hull life as hard as this you are a-passin'
"Oh, yes," sez I, "lots of'em--some worse ones, and," sez I, "the day
has only jest begun yet, I presume I shall have lots and lots of new
things happen to me before night. Because it is jest as I tell you, when
things get to happenin' there hain't no tellin' when they will ever
Miss Fogg groaned, a low, deep groan, and that is every word she said,
only after a little while she spoke up, and sez:
"You hain't eaten a bit of dinner; it all got cold while you wuz a
changin' your dress."
"Oh, wall," sez I, "I can get along some way. And I must hurry up and
get the table cleared off any way, and get to my work agin', for I have
got to do a lot of cookin' this afternoon. It takes a sight of pies and
cakes and such to satisfy twelve or a dozen men."
So I went to work vigorously agin. But well might I tell Miss Fogg "that
the day had only jest begun, and there wuz time for lots of things
to happen before night," for I had only jest got well to work on the
ingregiences of my pies when Submit Tewksbury sent over "to see if I
could let her have them sturchien seeds I had promised her--she wanted
'em to run up the inside of her bedroom winder, and shade her through
the winter. She wuz jest a-settin' out her winter stock of flower roots
and seeds, and wanted 'em immegiatly, and to once, that is, if it was
perfectly convenient," so the boy said.
Submit is a good creeter, and she wouldn't have put that burden on me on
such a time for nothin', not if she had known my tribulations; but she
didn't, and I felt that one trial more wouldn't, as the poet hath well
said, "either make or break me."
So I went to huntin' for the seeds. Wall, it wuz a good half-hour before
I could find 'em, for of course it wuz natural nater, accordin' to the
total deprivity of things, that I should find 'em in the bottom of the
last bag of seeds that I overhauled.
But Submit had been disappointed, and I didn't want to make her burdens
any heavier, so I sent her the sturchien seeds.
But it wuz a trial I do admit to look over more than forty bags of
garden and flower seeds in such a time as that. But I sent 'em. I sent
Submit the sturchien seeds, and then I laid to work again fast as I
But I sez to the author of "Peaceful Repose," I sez to her, sez I:
"I feel bad to think I hain't gettin' no time to hear you rehearse your
lecture, but you can see jest how it is; you see I hain't had a minute's
time today. Mebby I will get a few minutes' time before night; I will
try to," sez I.
"Oh," sez she, "it hain't no matter about that; I--I--I somehow--I don't
feel like rehearsin' it as it was." Sez she, "I guess I shall make some
changes in it before I rehearse it agin."
Sez I, "You lay out to make a more mean thing of it, more megum."
"Yes," sez she, in faint axents, "I am a-thinkin' of it."
[Illustration: "AS I STARTED FOR THE BUTTERY."]
"Wall," sez I cheerfully, as I started for the buttery with a pile of
cups in one hand, the castor and pickle dish in the other, and a pile of
napkins under my arm, "I believe I shall like it as well again if you
do, any way," sez I, as I kicked away the cat that wuz a-clawin' my
dress, and opened the door with my foot, both hands bein' full.
"Any way, there will be as much agin truth in it."
Wall, I went to work voyalently, and in two hours' time I had got my
work quelled down some. But I had to strain nearly every nerve in the
And I am afraid I didn't use the colporter just exactly right, who come
when I wuz right in the midst of puttin' the ingregiences into my tea
cakes. I didn't enter so deep into the argument about the Revised
New Testament as I should in easier and calmer times. I conversed
considerable, I argued some with him, but I didn't get so engaged as
mebby I had ort to. He acted disappointed, and he didn't stay and talk
more'n an hour and three quarters.
He generally spends half a day with us. He is a master hand to talk;
he'll make your brain fairly spin round he talks so fast and handles
such large, curius words. He talked every minute, only when I wuz
a-answerin' his questions.
[Illustration: "THERE WUZ SOMETHIN' WRONG ABOUT 'EM."]
Wall, he had jest gone, the front gate had just clicked onto him, when
Miss Philander Dagget came in at the back door. She had her press-board
in her hand, and a coat over her arm, and I see in a minute that I had
got another trial onto me. I see I had got to set her right.
I set her a chair, and she took off her sun-bonnet and hung it over the
back of her chair, and set down, and then she asked me if I could spend
time to put in the sleeves of her husband's coat. She said "there wuz
somethin' wrong about em', but she didn't know what."
She said "she wouldn't have bothered me that day when I had so much
round, but Philander had got to go to a funeral the next day, as one of
the barriers, and he must have his coat."
Wall, I wrung my hands out of the dish-water they was in at the time,
and took the coat and looked at it, and the minute I set my eyes on it
I see what ailed it I see she had got the sleeves sot in so the elbows
come right in front of his arms, and if he had wore it in that condition
to the funeral or anywhere else he would have had to fold up his arms
right acrost his back; there wuzn't no other possible way.
And then I turned tailoress and helped her out of her trouble. I sot
the sleeves in proper, and fixed the collar. She had got it sot on as a
ruffle. I drawed it down smooth where it ort to be and pinned it--and
she went home feelin' first rate.
I am very neighborly, and helpful, and am called so. Jonesville would
miss me if any thing should happen.
[Illustration: "SHE IS APT TO GET THINGS WRONG."]
I have often helped that woman a sight. She is a good, willin' creeter,
but she is apt to get things wrong, dretful apt. She made her little
boy's pantaloons once wrong side before, so it would seem that he would
have to set down from the front side, or else stand up.
And twice she got her husband's pantaloons sewed up so there wuz no way
to get into em' only to crawl up into 'em through the bottom of the
legs. But I have always made a practice of rippin' and tearin' and
bastin', and settin' her right, and I did now.
Wall, she hadn't hardly got out of the back door, when Josiah Allen came
in in awful distress, he had got a thorn in his foot, he had put on an
old pair of boots, and there wuz a hole in the side of one of 'em, and
the thorn had got in through the hole. It pained him dretfully, and he
wuz jest as crazy as a loon for the time bein'. And he hollered the
first thing that "he wanted some of Hall's salve." And I told him "there
wuzn't a mite in the house."
And he hollered up and says, "There would be some if there wuz any sense
in the head of the house."
[Illustration: "HE WANTED SOME OF HALL'S SALVE."]
I glanced up mechanically at his bald head, but didn't say nothin', for
I see it wouldn't do. And he hollered out agin, "Why hain't there any
Hall's salve?" Sez I, "Because old Hall has been dead for years and
years, and hain't made any salve."
"Wall, he wouldn't have been dead if he had had any care took of him,"
he yelled out.
"Why," sez I, "he wuz killed by lightnin'; struck down entirely
onexpected five years ago last summer."
"Oh, argue and dispute with a dying man. Gracious Peter! what will
become of me!" he groaned out, a-holdin' his foot in his hand.
Sez I, "Let me put some Pond's Extract on it, Josiah."
"Pond's Extract!" he yelled, and then he called that good remedy words I
wuz ashamed to hear him utter.
And he jumped round and pranced and kicked just as it is the nater of
man to act under bodily injury of that sort. And then he ordered me to
take a pin and get the thorn out, and then acted mad as a hen at me
all the time I wuz a-doin' it; acted jest as if I wuz a-prickin' him
He talked voyalent and mad. I tried to hush him down; I told him the
author of "Wedlock's Peaceful Repose" would hear him, and he hollered
back "he didn't care a cent who heard him. He wuz killed, and he
shouldn't live to trouble anybody long if that pain kept up."
His acts and words wuz exceedingly skairful to anybody who didn't
understand the nater of a man. But I wuzn't moved by 'em so much as the
width of a horse hair. Good land! I knew that jest as soon as the pain
subsided he would be good as gold, so I kep' on, cool and collected, and
got the thorn out, and did up the suffering toe in Pond's Extract, and I
hadn't only jest got it done, when, for all the world! if I didn't see a
double team stop in front of the house, and I peeked through the winder
and see as it wuz the livery stable man from Jonesville, and he had
brung down the last straws to be lifted onto the camel's back--a hull
lot of onexpected company. A hull load of 'em.
There wuz the Baptist minister and his wife and their three children,
and the minister's wife's sister-in-law from the West, who wuz there
a-visitin', and the editor of the _Augur'ses_ wife (she wuz related to
the visitor from the West by marriage) and three of the twins. And old
Miss Minkley, she wuz acquainted with the visitor's mother, used to go
to school with her. And Drusilly Sypher, she wuz the visitor from the
West's bosom friend, or used to be.
Wall, they had all come down to spend the afternoon and visit with each
other, and with me and Josiah, and stay to supper.
The author of "Peaceful Repose" sez to me, and she looked pale and
skairt; she had heard every word Josiah had said, and she wuz dretful
skairt and shocked (not knowin' the ways of men, and not understandin',
as I said prior and before, that in two hours' time he would be jest as
good as the very best kind of pie, affectionate, and even spoony, if I
would allow spoons, which I will not the most of the time). Wall, she
proposed, Miss Fogg did, that she should ride back with the livery man.
And though I urged her to stay till night, I couldn't urge her as hard
as I would otherwise, for by that time the head of the procession of
visitors had reached the door-step, and I had to meet 'em with smiles.
[Illustration: "SHE PROPOSED THAT SHE SHOULD RIDE BACK WITH THE LIVERY
I smiled some, I thought I must. But they wuz curius smiles, very,
strange-lookin' smiles, sort o' gloomy ones, and mournful lookin'. I
have got lots of different smiles that I keep by me for different
occasions, every woman has, and this wuz one of my most mournfulest and
Wall, the author of "Wedlock's Peaceful and Perfect Repose" insisted on
goin', and she went. And I sez to her as she went down the steps, "That
if she would come up some other day when I didn't have quite so much
work round, I would be as good as my word to her about hearin' her
rehearse the lecture."
But she said, as she hurried out to the gate, lookin' pale an' wan (as
wan agin as she did when she came, if not wanner): "That she should make
_changes_ in it before she ever rehearsed it agin--_deep changes_!"
And I should dare to persume to say that she did. Though, as I say, she
went off most awful sudden, and I hadn't seen nor heard from her sence
till I got this letter.
Wall, jest as I got through with the authoresses letter, and Lodema
Trumble's, Josiah Allen came. And I hurried up the supper. I got it all
on the table while I wuz a steepin' my tea (it wuz good tea). And we sot
down to the table happy as a king and his queen. I don't s'pose queens
make a practice of steepin' tea, but mebby they would be better off if
they did--and have better appetites and better tea. Any way we felt
well, and the supper tasted good. And though Josiah squirmed some when I
told him Lodema wuz approachin' and would be there that very night or
the next day--still the cloud wore away and melted off in the glowin'
mellowness of the hot tea and cream, the delicious oysters and other
[Illustration: "MY PARDNER ENJOYS GOOD VITTLES."]
My pardner, though, as he often says, is not a epicack, still he duz
enjoy good vittles dretful well and appreciates 'em. And I make a stiddy
practice of doin' the best I can by him in this direction.
And if more females would foller on and cipher out this simple rule, and
get the correct answer to it, the cramp in the right hands of divorce
lawyers would almost entirely disappear.
For truly it seems that _no_ human man _could be_ more worrysome, and
curius, and hard to get along with than Josiah Allen is at times; still,
by stiddy keepin' of my table set out with good vittles from day to day,
and year to year, the golden cord of affection has bound him to me by
ties that can't never be broken into.
He worships me! And the better vittles I get, the more he thinks on me.
For love, however true and deep it is, is still a tumultous sea; it has
its high tides, and its low ones, its whirlpools, and its calms.
He loves me a good deal better some days than he does others; I see it
in his mean. And mark you! mark it well, female reader, these days are
the ones that I cook up sights and sights of good food, and with a
cheerful countenance and clean apron, set it before him in a bright
room, on a snowy table-cloth!
Great--great is the mystery of men's love.
I have often and often repeated this simple fact and truth that
underlies married life, and believe me, dear married sisters, too much
cannot be said about it, by those whose hearts beat for the good of
female and male humanity--and it _cannot_ be too closely followed up and
practised by female pardners.
But I am a-eppisodin'; and to resoom.
Wall, Lodema Trumble arrove the next mornin' bright and early--I mean
the mornin' wuz bright, not Lodema--oh no, fur from it; Lodema is never
bright and cheerful--she is the opposite and reverse always.
She is a old maiden. I do think it sounds so much more respectful to
call 'em so rather than "old maid" (but I had to tutor Josiah dretful
sharp before I could get him into it).
I guess Lodema is one of the regular sort. There is different kinds of
old maidens, some that could marry if they would, and some that
would but couldn't. And I ruther mistrust she is one of the
"would-but-couldn't's," though I wouldn't dast to let her know I said
so, not for the world.
Josiah never could bear the sight of her, and he sort o' blamed her for
bein' a old maiden. But I put a stop to that sudden, for sez I:
"She hain't to blame, Josiah."
And she wuzn't. I hain't a doubt of it.
Wall, how long she calculated to stay this time we didn't know. But we
had our fears and forebodin's about it; for she wuz in the habit of
makin' awful long visits. Why, sometimes she would descend right down
onto us sudden and onexpected, and stay fourteen weeks right along--jest
like a famine or a pestilence, or any other simely that you are a mind
to bring up that is tuckerin' and stiddy.
And she wuz disagreeable, I'll confess, and she wuz tuckerin', but I
done well by her, and stood between her and Josiah all I could. He loved
to put on her, and she loved to impose on him. I don't stand up for
either on 'em, but they wuz at regular swords' pints all the time
a'most. And it come fearful tuff on me, fearful tuff, for I had to stand
the brunt on it.
But she is a disagreeable creeter, and no mistake. She is one of them
that can't find one solitary thing or one solitary person in this wide
world to suit 'em. If the weather is cold she is pinin' for hot weather,
and if the weather is hot she is pantin' for zero.
[Illustration: "BUT SHE IS A DISAGREEABLE CREETER."]
If it is a pleasant day the sun hurts her eyes, and if it is cloudy she
groans aloud and says "she can't see."
And no human bein' wuz ever known to suit her. She gets up early in the
mornin' and puts on her specs, and goes out (as it were) a-huntin' up
faults in folks. And she finds 'em, finds lots of 'em. And then she
spends the rest of the day a-drivin' 'em ahead of her, and groanin' at
You know this world bein' such a big place and so many different sort o'
things in it that you can generally find in it the perticuler sort of
game you set out to hunt in the mornin'.
If you set out to hunt beauty and goodness, if you take good aim and are
perseverin'--if you jest track 'em and foller 'em stiddy from mornin'
till night, and don't get led away a-follerin' up some other game,
such as meanness and selfishness and other such worthless head o'
cattle--why, at night you will come in with a sight of good game. You
will be a noble and happy hunter.
[Illustration: "BUT FIT WITH THEIR TONGUES, FEARFUL."]
At the same time, if you hunt all day for faults you will come in at
night with sights of pelts. You will find what you hunt for, track 'em
right along and chase 'em down. Wall, Lodema never got led away from
her perticuler chase. She just hunted faults from mornin' till night,
and done well at it. She brought in sights of skins.
But oh! wuzn't it disagreeable in the extreme to Samantha, who had
always tried to bend her bow and bring down Beauty, to have her familiar
huntin' grounds turned into so different a warpath. It wuz disagreeable!
It wuz! It wuz!
And then, havin' to stand between her and Josiah too, wuz fearful
wearin' on me. I had always stood there in the past, and now in this
visit it wuz jest the same; all the hull time, till about the middle of
the fifth week, I had to stand between their two tongues--they didn't
fight with their hands, but fit with their tongues, fearful.
But along about the middle of the fifth week I see a change. Lodema
had been uncommon exasperatin', and I expected she would set Josiah to
goin', and I groaned in spirit, to think what a job wuz ahead of me, to
part their two tongues--when all of a sudden I see a curius change come
over my pardner's face.
I remember jest the date that the change in his mean wuz visible, and
made known to me--for it wuz the very mornin' that we got the invitation
to old Mr. and Miss Pressley's silver weddin'. And that wuz the
fifteenth day of the month along about the middle of the forenoon.
And it wuz not half an hour after Elnathen Pressley came to the door and
give us the invitations, that I see the change in his mean.
And when I asked him about it afterwards, what that strange and curius
look meant, he never hung back a mite from tellin' me, but sez right out
"Mebby, Samantha, I hain't done exactly as I ort to by cousin Lodema,
and I have made up my mind to make her a happy surprise before she goes
"Wall," sez I, "so do."
I thought he wuz goin' to get her a new dress. She had been a-hintin'
to him dretful strong to that effect. She wanted a parmetty, or a
balzereen, or a circassien, which wuz in voge in her young days. But I
wuz in hopes he would get her a cashmere, and told him so, plain.
But I couldn't get him to tell what the surprise wuz. He only sez, sez
"I am goin' to make her a happy surprise."
And the thought that he wuz a-goin' to branch out and make a change, wuz
considerable of a comfort to me. And I needed comfort--yes, indeed I
did--I needed it bad. For not one single thing did I do for her that I
done right, though I tried my best to do well by her.
But she found fault with my vittles from mornin' till night, though I am
called a excellent cook all over Jonesville, and all round the adjoining
country, out as far as Loontown, and Zoar. It has come straight back to
me by them that wouldn't lie. But it hain't made me vain.
But I never cooked a thing that suited Lodema, not a single thing. Most
of my vittles wuz too fresh, and then if I braced up and salted 'em
extra so as to be sure to please her, why then they wuz briny, and hurt
Why, if you'll believe it, I give her a shawl, made her a present of it;
it had even checks black and white, jest as many threads in the black
stripes as there wuz in the white, for I counted 'em.
And she told me, after she had looked it all over and said it wuz kinder
thin and slazy, and checkered shawls had gone out of fashion, and the
black looked some as if it would fade with washin', and the white wuzn't
over clear, and the colors wuzn't no ways becomin' to her complexion,
and etcetery, etcetery.
"But," sez she, after she had got all through with the rest of her
complaints--"if the white stripes wuz where the black wuz, and the black
where the white wuz, she should like it quite well." And there it wuz,
even check, two and two. Wall, that wuz a sample of her doin's. If
anybody had a Roman nose she wanted a Greecy one.
[Illustration:"IF THE WHITE STRIPES WUZ WHERE THE BLACK WUZ."]
And if the nose wuz Greece, why then she wanted Rome.
Why, Josiah sez to me along about the third week, he said (to ourselves,
in private), "that if Lodema went to Heaven she would be dissatisfied
with it, and think it wuz livelier, and more goin' on down to the other
place." And he said she would get the angels all stirred up a findin'
fault with their feathers.
I told him "I would not hear such talk."
"Wall," sez he, "don't you believe it?"
And I kinder turned him off, and wouldn't tell, and told him it wuz
wicked to talk so.
"Wall," sez Josiah, "you dassent say she wouldn't."
And I dassent, though I wouldn't own it up to him, I dassent.
And if she kinder got out of other occupations for a minute durin' them
first weeks she would be a quarrelin' with Josiah Allen about age.
I s'pose she and Josiah wuzn't far from the same age, for they wuz
children together. But she wanted to make out she wuz young.
And she would tell Josiah that "he seemed jest like a father to her, and
always had." And sometimes when she felt the most curius, she would call
him "Father," and "Pa," and "Papa." And it would mad Josiah Allen so
that I would have all I could do to quell him down.
Now I didn't feel so, I didn't mind it so much. Why, there would be
days, when she felt the curiusest, that she would call me "Mother," and
"Ma," and foller me round with foot-stools and things, when I went to
set down, and would kinder worry over my fallin' off the back step, and
would offer to help me up the suller stairs, and so forth, and watchin'
over what I et, and tellin' me folks of my age ort to be careful, and
And Josiah asked me to ask her "How she felt about that time?" For she
wuz from three to four years older than I wuz.
But I wouldn't contend with her, and the footstools come kinder handy, I
had jest as lieve have 'em under my feet as not, and ruther. And as for
rich vittles not agreein' with me, and my not over-eatin', I broke that
tip by fallin' right in with her, and not cookin' such good things--that
quelled her down, and gaulded Josiah too.
But, as I said, it riled Josiah the worst of anything to have Lodema
call him father, for he wants to make out that he is kinder young
And sez he to her one day, about the third week, when she was a-goin'
on about how good and fatherly he looked, and how much he seemed like
a parent to her, and always had, sez he: "I wonder if I seemed like a
father to you when we wuz a-kickin' at each other in the same cradle?"
Sez he: "We both used to nuss out of the same bottle, any way, for
I have heard my mother say so lots of times. There wuzn't ten days'
difference in our ages. You wuz ten days the oldest as I have always
She screamed right out, "Why, Josiah Allen, where is your conscience to
talk in that way--and your heart?"
"In here, where everybody's is," sez Josiah, strikin' himself with his
right hand--he meant to strike against his left breast, but struck too
low, kinder on his stomach.
And sez I, "That is what I have always thought, Josiah Allen. I have
always had better luck reachin' your conscience through your stomach
than in any other way. And now," sez I coldly, "do you go out and bring
in a pail of water."
I used to get beat out and sick of their scufflin's and disagreein's,
and broke 'em up whenever I could.
But oh! oh! how she did quarrel with Josiah Allen and that buzz saw
scheme of his'n. How light she made of that enterprise, how she demeaned
the buzz, and run the saws--till I felt that bad as I hated the
enterprise myself, I felt that a variety of loud buzz saws would be a
welcome relief from her tongue--from their two tongues; for as fur down
as she would run them buzz saws, jest so fur would Josiah Allen praise
[Illustration: LODEMA AND JOSIAH IN YOUTH.]
She never agreed with Josiah Allen but in jest one thing while she was
under his ruff. I happened to mention one day how extremely anxious I
wuz to have females set on the Conference; and then, wantin' to dispute