AT THE WORLD'S FAIR
JOSIAH ALLEN'S WIFE
ILLUSTRATED BY BARON C. DE GRIMM
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES
New-York FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY London and Toronto 1893
Copyright, 1893, by the FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY.
[Registered at Stationer's Hall, London, England.]
WHO HAS JEST SAILED OUT AND DISCOVERED WOMAN. AND TO THE SECT DISCOVERED—
THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED.
It wuz a beautiful evenin' in Jonesville, and the World. The Earth wuz a-settin' peaceful and serene under the glowin' light of a full moon and some stars, and I sot jest as peaceful and calm under the meller light of our hangin' lamp and the blue radiance of my companion's two orbs.
Two arm-chairs covered with handsome buff copper-plate wuz drawed up on each side of the round table, that had a cheerful spread on't, and a basket of meller apples and pears.
Dick Swiveller, our big striped pussy-cat (Thomas J. named him), lay stretched out in luxurious ease on his cushion, a-watchin' with dignified indulgence the gambollin' of our little pup dog. He is young yet, and Dick looked lenient on the innocent caperin's of youth.
Dick is very wise.
The firelight sparkled on the clean hearth, the lamplight gleamed down onto my needles as I sot peaceful a-seamin' two and two, and the same radiance rested lovin'ly on the shinin' bald head of my pardner as he sot a-readin' his favorite production, the World.
All wuz relapsted into silence, all wuz peace, till all to once my pardner dropped his paper, and sez he—
"Samantha, why not write a book on't?"
It started me, comin' so onexpected onto me, and specially sence he wuz always so sot aginst my swingin' out in Literatoor.
I dropped two or three stitches in my inward agitation, but instinctively I catched holt of my dignity, and kep calm on the outside.
And sez I, "Write a book on what, Josiah Allen?"
"Oh, about the World's Fair!" sez he.
"Wall," sez I, with a deep sithe, "I had thought on't, but I'd kinder dreaded the job."
And he went on: "You know," sez he, "that We wrote one about the other big Fair, and if We don't do as well by this one it'll make trouble," sez he.
"We!" sez I in my own mind, and in witherin' axents, but I kep calm on the outside, and he went on—
"Our book," sez he, "that We wrote on the other big Fair in Filadelfy, I spoze wuz thought as much on and wuz as popular for family readin' as ever a President's message wuz; and after payin' attention to that as We did, We hadn't ort to slight this one. We can't afford to," sez he.
"Can't afford to?" sez I dreamily.
"No; We can't afford to," sez he, "and keep Our present popularity. Now, there's every chance, so fur as I can see, for me to be elected Path-Master, and the high position of Salesman of the Jonesville Cheese Factory has been as good as offered to me agin this year. It is because We are popular," sez he, "that I have these positions of trust and honor held out to me. We have wrote books that have took, Samantha. Now, what would be the result if We should slight Columbus and turn Our backs onto America in this crisis of her history? It would be simply ruinous to Our reputation and my official aspirations. Everybody would be mad, and kick, from the President down. More'n as likely as not I should never hold another office in Jonesville. Cheese would be sold right over my head by I know not who. I should be ordered out to work on the road like a dog by Ury jest as like as not. I've been a-settin' here and turnin' it over in my mind; and though, as you say, I hain't always favored the idee of writin', still at the present time I believe We'd better write the book. There's ink in the house, hain't there?" sez he anxiously.
"Yes," sez I.
"And paper?" sez he.
Agin I sez, "Yes."
"Wall, then, when there's ink and paper, what's to hender Our writin' it?"
"Our!" "We!" Agin them words entered my soul like lead arrows and gaulded me, but agin I looked up, and the clear light of affection that shone from my pardner's eyes melted them arrows, and I suffered and wuz calm. But anon I sez—
"Don't great emotions rise up in your soul, Josiah Allen, when you think of Columbus and the World's work? Don't the mighty waves of the past and the future dash up aginst your heart when you think of Christopher, and what he found, and what is behind this nation, and what is in front of it, a-bagonin' it onwards?"
"No," sez he calmly; "I look at it with the eye of a business man, and with that eye," sez he, "I say less write the book."
He ceased his remarks, and agin silence rained in the room.
But to me the silence wuz filled with voices that he couldn't hear—deep, prophetic voices that shook my soul. Eyes whose light the dust fell on four hundred years ago shone agin on me in that quiet room in Jonesville, and hanted me. Heroic hands that wuz clay centuries ago bagoned to me to foller 'em where they led me. And so on down through the centuries the viewless hosts passed before me and gin me the silent countersign to let me pass into their ranks and jine the army. And then, away out into the future, the Shadow Host defiled—fur off, fur off—into the age of Freedom, and Justice, and Perfect rights for man and woman, Love, Joy, Peace.
Josiah didn't see none of these performances.
No; two pardners may set side by side, and yet worlds lay between 'em. He wuz agin immersed in his ambitious reveries.
I didn't tell him the heft or the size of my emotions as I mentally tackled the job he proposed to me—there wuzn't no use on't. I only sez, as I looked up at him over my specs—
"Josiah, We will write the book."
SAMANTHA AT THE WORLD'S FAIR.
Christopher Columbus has always been a object of extreme interest and admiration to me ever sence I first read about him in my old Olney's Gography, up to the time when I hearn he wuz a-goin' to be celebrated in Chicago.
I always looked up to Christopher, I always admired him, and in a modest and meetin'-house sense, I will say boldly and with no fear of Josiah before my eyes that I loved him.
Havin' such feelin's for Christopher Columbus, as I had, and havin' such feelin's for New Discoverers, do you spoze I wuz a-goin' to have a celebration gin for him, and also for us as bein' discovered by him, without attendin' to it?
No, indeed! I made calculations ahead from the very first minute it wuz spoke on, to attend to it.
And feelin' as I did—all wrought up on the subject of Christopher Columbus—it wuz a coincerdence singular enough to skair anybody almost to death—to think that right on the very day Christopher discovered America, and us (only 400 years later), and on the very day that I commenced the fine shirt that Josiah wuz a-goin' to wear to Chicago to celebrate him in—
That very Friday, if you'll believe me, Christopher Columbus walked right into our kitchen at Jonesville—and discovered me.
Yes, Christopher Columbus Allen, a relative I never had seen, come to Jonesville and our house on his way to the World's Fair.
Jest to think on't—Christopher Columbus Allen, who had passed his hull life up in Maine, and then descended down onto us at such a time as this, when all the relations in Jonesville wuz jest riz up about the doin's of that great namesake of hisen—And the gussets wuz even then a-bein' cut out and sewed on to the shirt that wuz a-goin' to encompass Josiah Allen about as he went to Chicago to celebrate him—
That then, on that Friday, P.M., about the time of day that the Injuns wuz a-kneelin' to the first Christopher, to think that Josiah Allen should walk in the new Columbus into our kitchen—why, I don't spoze a more singular and coincidin' circumstance ever happened before durin' the hull course of time.
The only incident that mellered it down any and made it a little less miracalous wuz the fact that he never had been called by his full name.
He always has been, is now, and I spoze always will be called Krit—Krit Allen.
But still it wuz—in spite of this mellerin' and amelioratin' circumstance—strikin' and skairful enough to fill me with or.
He wuz a double and twisted relation, as you may say, bein' related to us on both our own sides, Josiah's and mine.
But I had never sot eyes on him till that day, though I well remember visitin' his parents, who lived then in the outskirts of Loontown—good respectable Methodist Epospical people—and runners of a cheese factory at that time.
Tryphenia Smith, relation on my side, married to Ezra Allen, relation on Josiah's side.
I remember that I went there on a visit with my mother at a very early period of my existence. I hadn't existed at that time more'n nine years, if I had that. We staid there on a stiddy stretch for a week; that wuz jest before they moved up to Maine.
Uncle Ezra had a splendid chance offered him there, and he fell in with it.
She wuz a dretful good creeter, Aunt Tryphenia wuz, and greatly beloved by the relations on his side, as well as hern.
Though, as is nateral with relations, she had to be run by 'em more or less, and found fault with. Some thought her nose wuz too long. Some on 'em thought she wuz too religious, and some on 'em thought she wuzn't religious enough. Some on 'em thought she wuzn't sot enough on the creeds, and some thought she wuz too rigid.
But, howsumever, pretty nigh all the Allens and Smiths jest doted on her.
There wuz one incident that jest impressed itself on my memory in connection with that visit, and I don't spoze I shall ever forgit it; it stands to reason that I should before now, if I ever wuz a-goin' to.
It took place at family prayers, which they held regular at Uncle Ezra's.
It wuz right in the hite of sugarin'. They had more'n two hundred maple trees, and they had tapped 'em all, and they had run free, and they had to sugar off every day, and sometimes twice a day.
That mornin' they had a big kettle of maple syrup over the stove, and Uncle Ezra and Aunt Tryphenia and mother wuz all a-kneelin' down pretty nigh to the stove. It wuz a cold mornin', and I wuz a-settin' with my little legs a-hangin' off the chair a-watchin' things, not at that age bein' particular interested in religion.
Uncle Ezra made a long prayer, a tegus one, it seemed to me; it wuz so long that the kettle of sugar had het up fearful, and I see with deep anxiety that it wuz a-mountin' up most to the top of the kettle.
Of course I dassent move to open the stove door, or stir it down, or anything—no, I dassent make a move of any kind or a mite of noise in prayer time. So I sot demute, but in deep anxiety, a-watchin' it sizzle up higher and higher and then down agin, as is the way of syrup, but each time a sizzlin' up a little higher.
Wall, finally Uncle Ezra got through with his prayer, and dear good Aunt Tryphenia begun hern. She spoke dretful kinder moderate, but religious and good as anything could be.
I well remember what it wuz she wuz sayin'—
"O Lord, let us be tried as by fire and not be moved"—I remember she said moved instead of moved, which wuz impressive to me, never havin' hearn it pronounced that way before.
And jest as she said this over went the sugar onto the stove, and Aunt Tryphenia and Uncle Ezra jest jumped right up and went and lifted the kettle offen the stove.
I remember well how kinder bewildered and curious mother looked when she opened her eyes and see that the prayer wuz broke right short off. Aunt Tryphenia looked meachin', and Uncle Ezra put his hat right on and went out to the barn.
It wuz dretful embarrissin' to him and Aunt Tryphenia. But then I don't know as they could have helped it.
I remember hearin' Father and Mother arguin' about it. Father thought she done right, but Mother wuz kinder of the opinion that she ort to have run the prayer right on and let the sugar spile if necessary.
But I remember Father's arguin' that he didn't believe her prayer would have been very lucid or fervent, with all that batch of sugar a-sizzlin' and a-burnin' right by the side of her.
I remember that he said that a prayer wouldn't be apt to ascend much higher than where one's hopes and thoughts wuz, and he didn't believe it would go up much higher than that kettle. (The stove wuz the common height, not over four feet.)
But Mother held to her own opinion, and so did a good many of the relations, mostly females. It wuz talked over quite a good deal amongst the Smiths. The wimmen all blamed Tryphenia more or less. The men mostly approved of savin' the sugar.
But good land! how I am eppisodin', and to resoom and go on.
As I say, it wuz jest after this that Uncle Ezra's folks moved up to Maine, Christopher Columbus bein' still onborn for years and years.
But bein' born in due time, or ruther as I may say out of due time, for Uncle Ezra and Aunt Tryphenia had been married over twenty years before they had a child, and then they branched out and had two, and then stopped—
But bein' born at last and growin' up to be a good-lookin' young man and well-to-do in the world, he come out to Jonesville on business and also to foller up the ties of relationship that wuz stretched out acrost hill and dale clear from Maine to Jonesville.
Strange ties, hain't they? that are so little that they are invisible to the naked eye, or spectacles, or the keenest microscope, and yet are so strong and lastin' that the strongest sledge-hammer can't break 'em or even make a dent into 'em.
And old Time himself, that crumbles stun work and mountains, can't seem to make any impression on 'em. Curious, hain't it?
But to leave moralizin' and to resoom, it was on Friday, P.M., that he arrove at our home.
I see a good-lookin' young chap a-comin' up the path from the front gate with my Josiah, and I hastily but firmly turned my apron the other side out—I had been windin' some blue yarn that day for some socks for my Josiah, and had colored it a little—it wuz a white apron—and then I waited middlin' serene till he come in with him.
And lo! and behold! Josiah introduced him as Christopher Columbus Allen, my own cousin on my own side, and also on hisen.
He wuz a very good-lookin' chap, some older than Thomas Jefferson, and I do declare if he didn't look some like him, which wouldn't be nothin' aginst the law, or aginst reason, bein' that they wuz related to each other.
I wuz glad enough to see him, and I inquired after the relations with considerable interest, and some affection (not such an awful sight, never havin' seen 'em much, but a little, jest about enough).
And then I learnt with some sadness that his father and mother had passed away not long before that, and that his sister Isabelle wuz not over well.
And there wuz another coincerdence that struck aginst me almost hard enough to knock me down.
Isabelle! jest think on't, when my mind wuz on a perfect strain about Isabelle Casteel.
Columbus and Isabelle!—the idee!
Why, my reason almost tottered on its throne under my recent best head-dress, when I hearn him speak the name. Christopher Columbus a tellin' me about Isabelle—
I declare I wuz that wrought up that I expected every minute to hear him tell me somethin' about Ferdinand; but I do believe that I should have broke down under that.
But it wuz all explained out to me afterwards by another relation that come onto us onexpected shortly afterwards.
It seemed that Uncle Ezra and Aunt Tryphenia, after they went to Maine, moved into a sort of a new place, where it wuz dretful lonesome.
They lost every book they had, owin' to a axident on their journey, and the only book their nighest neighbor had wuz the life of Queen Isabelle.
And so Aunt Tryphenia for years wuz, as you may say, jest saturated with that book. And she named her two children, born durin' that time of saturation, Christopher Columbus and Isabelle. And I presoom if she had had another, she would have named it King Ferdinand. Though I hain't sure of this—you can't be postive certain of any such thing as this. Besides it might have been born a girl onbeknown to her.
But I know that she never washed them children with anything but Casteel soap, and she talked sights and sights about Spain and things.
So I hearn from Uncle Jered Smith, who visited them while he wuz up on a tower through Maine, a-sellin' balsam of pine for the lungs.
Wall, Isabelle had a sort of a runnin' down, so Krit said. He begged us to call him that—said that all his mates at school called him so. He had been educated quite high. Had been to deestrick school sights, and then to a 'Cademy and College. He had kinder worked his way up, so I found out, and so had Isabelle.
She had graduated from a Young Woman's College, taught school to earn her money, and then went to school as long as that would last, and then would set out and teach agin, and then go agin and then taught, and then went.
She wuz younger than Christopher, but he owned up to me that it wuz her example that had rousted him up to exert himself.
She wuz awful ambitious, Isabelle wuz. She wuz smart as she could be, and had a feelin' that she wanted to be sunthin' in the World.
But then the old folks wuz took down sick and helpless, and one of the children had to stay to home. And Isabelle staid, and sent Krit out into the World.
She sold her jewels of Ambition and Happiness, and gin him the avails of them.
She staid to home with the old folks—kinder peevish and fretful, Krit said they wuz, too—and let him go a-sailin' out on the broad ocean of life; she had trimmed her own sails in such hope, but had to curb 'em in now and lower the topmast.
You have to reef your sails considerable when you are a-sailin' round in a small bedroom between two beds of sickness (asthma and inflammatory rheumatiz). You have to haul 'em in, and take down the flyin' pennen of Hope and Asperation, and mount up the lamp of Duty and Meekness for a figger-head, instead of the glowin' face of Proud Endeavor.
But them lamps give a dretful meller, soft light, when they are well mounted up, and firm sot.
The light on 'em hain't to be compared to any other light on sea or on shore. It wrops 'em round so serene and glowin' that walks in it. It rests on their mild forwards in a sort of a halo that shines off on the hard things of this life and makes 'em endurable, takes the edge kinder off of the hardest, keenest sufferin's, and goes before 'em throwin' a light over the deep waters that must be passed, and sort o' melts in and loses itself in the ineffible radiance that streams out from acrost the other side.
It is a curious light and a beautiful one. Isabelle jest journeyed in its full radiance.
Wall, Isabelle would do what she sot out to do, you could see that by her face. Krit had brought her photograph with him—he thought his eyes of her—and I liked her looks first rate.
It wuz a beautiful face, with more than beauty in it too. It wuz inteligent and serene, with the serenity of the sweet soul within. And it had a look deep down in the eyes, a sort of a shadow that is got by passin' through the Valley of Sorrow.
I hearn afterwards what that look meant.
Isabelle had been engaged to a smart, well-meanin' chap, Tom Freeman by name, not over and above rich, and one that had his own duties to attend to. Two helpless aged ones, and two little nieces to took care on, and nobody but himself to earn the money to do it with.
The little nieces' Pa had gone to California after his wife's death—and hadn't been hearn from sence. The little children had been left with their grandparents and Uncle Tom to stay till their Pa got back. And as he didn't git back, of course they kept on a-stayin', and had to be took care on. They wuz bright little creeters, and the very apples of their eyes. But they cost money, and they cost love, and Tom had to give it, for they lost what little property they had about this time—and the feeble Grandma couldn't do much, and the Grandpa died not long after the eppisode I am about to relate.
So it all devolved onto Tom. And Tom riz up to his duties nobly, though it wuz with a sad heart, as wuz spozed, for Isabelle, when she see what had come onto him to do, wouldn't hold him to his engagement—she insisted on his bein' free.
I spoze she thought she wouldn't burden him with two more helpless ones, and then mebby she thought the two spans wouldn't mate very well. And most probable they would have been a pretty cross match. (I mean, that is, a sort of a melancholy, down-sperited yoke, and if anybody laughs at it, I would wish 'em to laugh in a sort of a mournful way.)
Wall, Tom Freeman, after Isabelle sot him free, bein' partly mad and partly heart-broken, as is the way of men who are deep in love, and want their way, but anyway wantin' to keep out of the sight of the one who, if he couldn't have her for his own, he wanted to forgit—he packed up bag and baggage and went West.
Isabelle wouldn't correspond with him, so she told him in that last hour—still and calm on the outside, and her heart a-bleedin' on the inside, I dare presoom to say; no, she wanted him to feel free.
What creeters, what creeters wimmen be for makin' martyrs of themselves, and burnt sacrifices—sometimes I most think they enjoy it, and then agin I don't know!
But Isabelle acted from a sense of duty, for she jest worshipped the ground Tom Freeman walked on, so everybody knew, and so she bid adieu to Tom and Happiness, and lived on.
Wall, one of 'em must stay at home with the old folks, either she or Christopher Columbus. And when a man and a woman love each other as Isabelle and Krit did, when wuz it ever the case but what if there wuz any sacrificin' to do the woman wuz the one to do it.
It is her nater, and I don't know but a real true woman takes as much comfort in bein' sort o' onhappy for the sake of some one she loves, as she would in swingin' right out and a-enjoyin' herself first rate.
A woman who really loves anything has the makin' of a first-class martyr in her. And though she may not be ever tied to a stake, and gridirons be fur removed from her, still she has a sort of a silent hankerin' or aptitude for martrydom. That is, she would fur ruther be onhappy herself than to have the beloved object wretched. And if either of 'em has got to face trouble and privation, why she is the one that stands ready to face 'em.
So Isabelle sent Krit off into the great world to conquer it if possible.
And Krit, as the nater of man is, felt that he would ruther branch and work his way along through the World, and work hard and venter and dare and try to conquer fortune, than to set round and endure and suffer and be calm.
Men are not, although they are likely creeters and I wish 'em well, yet truth compels me to say that they are not very much gin to follerin' this text, "To suffer and be calm."
No, they had ruther rampage round and kill the lions in the way than to camp down in front of 'em and try to subdue 'em with kindness and long sufferin'.
Krit, as the nateral nater of man is, felt that he could and would earn a good place in the World, win it with hard work, and then lift Isabelle up onto the high platform by the side of him.
Though whether he had made any plans as how he wuz a-goin' to hist up the two feeble old invalids, that I can't state, not knowin'.
But Isabelle, he did lay out to do well by her, thinkin' as he did such a amazin' lot of her, and knowin' how she gin up her own ambitious hopes for his sake, and knowin' well, though he didn't really feel free to interfere, how she had signed the death-warrant to her own happiness when she parted with Tom Freeman. But so it wuz.
Wall, Krit wouldn't have to lift up the old folks onto any worldly hite, for the Lord took 'em up into His own habitation, higher I spoze than any earthly mount. About six months before Krit come to Jonesville, they both passed away most at the same time, and wuz buried in one grave.
Wall, we all on us in Jonesville thought a sight of Krit before he had been with us a week. He had come partly to see a man in Jonesville on particular business, and partly to see us. He wuz a civil engineer, jest as civil and polite a one as I ever laid eyes on, and wuz a-doin' well, but Thomas Jefferson thought he could help him to a still better place and position.
Thomas J. is very popular in Jonesville. He is doin' a big business all over the county, and is very influential.
Wall, Krit's business bid fair to keep him for some time in Jonesville and the vicinity, and as he see that Josiah Allen and I wuz a-makin' preperations to go to the World's Fair—and bein' warmly pursuaded by us to that effect, he concluded to stay and accompany us thither. The idee wuz very agreeable to us.
He said his sister Isabelle, after she wuz a little recooperated from her grief for the old folks, and recovered a little from the sickness that she had after they left her, she too laid out to come on to Chicago, and spend a few weeks.
He wuz a-layin' out to reconoiter round and find a good place for her to board and take good care on her. He thought enough on her—yes, indeed.
But, as he said, she wuz jest struck right down seemin'ly with her grief at the loss of them two old folks.
You see, if your head has been a-restin' for some time on a piller, even if it is a piller of stun, when it is drawed out sudden from under you, your head jars down on the ground dretful heavy and hard.
And when you've been carryin' a burden for a long time, when it is took sudden from you you have a giddy feelin', you feel light and faint and wobblin'.
And then she loved 'em—she loved her poor old charges with a daughter's love and with all the love a mother gives to a helpless baby, with the pity added that gray hairs and toothless gums must amount to added up over the sum of dimples and ivory and coral that makes up a baby's beautiful helplessness.
And they wuz took from her dretful sudden. There wuz a sort of a influenza prevailin' up round their way, and lots of strong healthy folks suckumbed to it, and it struck onto these poor old feeble ones some like simiters, and mowed 'em right down.
The old lady wuz took down first, and her great anxiety wuz—"That Pa shouldn't know that she wuz so sick."
But before she died, "Pa" in another room wuz took with it, and passed away a day before she did.
She worried all that mornin' about "Pa," and—"How bad he would feel if he knew she wuz so sick!" But along late in the afternoon, when the Winter sun wuz makin' a pale reflection on the wall through the south winder, she looked up, and sez she—
"Why, there stands Pa right by my bed, and he wants me to git up and go with him. And, Isabelle, I must go."
And she did.
And Isabelle wuz left alone.
They wuz buried in one grave. And the funeral sermon, they say, wuz enough to melt a stun, if there had been any stuns round where they could hear it.
Isabelle didn't hear it (don't git the idee that I am a-wantin' to compare her to a stun; no, fur from it). She wuz a-layin' to home on a bed, with her sad eyes bent on nothin'ess and emptiness and utter desolation, so it seemed to her.
But after a time she begun to pick up a little, judgin' from her letters to her brother Krit. He had to leave her jest after the funeral on account of his business; for, civil as it wuz, it had to be tended to.
Wall, we all enjoyed havin' Christopher there the best that ever wuz. For he wuz very agreeable, as well as oncommon smart, which two qualities don't always go together, as has often been observed by others, and I have seen for myself.
Wall, it wuzn't more than a week or so after Krit arrived and got there, that another relation made his appearance in Jonesville.
It wuz of 'em on his side this time—not like Krit, half hisen and half mine, but clear hisen. Clear Allen, with no Smith at all in the admixture.
Proud enough wuz my pardner of him, and of himself too for bein' born his cousin. (Though that wuz onbeknown to him at the time, and he ort not to have gloried in it.)
But tickled wuz he when word come that Elnathan Allen, Esquire, of Menlo Park, California, wuz a-comin' to Jonesville to visit his old friends.
That man had begun life poor—poor as a snipe; sometimes I used to handle that very word "Snipe" a-describin' Elnathan Allen's former circumstances to Josiah, when he got too overbearin' about him.
For he had boasted to me about him for years, and years, and a woman can't stand only jest about so much aggravatin' and treadin' on before she will turn like a worm.
That is Bible about "The Worm," and must be believed.
What used to mad me the worst wuz when he would git to comparin' Elnathan with one of 'em on my side who wuz shiftless. Good land! 'Zekiel Smith hain't the only man on earth who is ornary and no account. Every pardner has 'em, more or less, on his side and on hern; let not one pardner boast themselves over the other one; both have their drawbacks.
But Elnathan had done well; I admitted it only when I wuz too much put upon.
He had gone fur West, got rich, invested his capital first rate, some on it in a big Eastern city, and had got to be a millionare.
He wuz a widower with one child, The Little Maid, as he called her; he jest idolized her, and thought she wuz perfect.
And I spoze she wuz oncommon, not from what her Pa said—no, I didn't take all his talk about her for Gospel; I know too much.
But Barzelia Ann Allen (a old maid up to date) had seen her, had been out to California on a excursion train, and had staid some time with 'em.
And she said that she wuz the smartest child this side of Heaven. With eyes of violet blue, big luminous eyes, that draw the hearts and souls of folks right out of their bodies when they looked into 'em, so full of radiant joy and heavenly sweetness wuz they.
And hair of waving gold, and lips and cheeks as pink as the hearts of the roses that climbed all Winter round her winder—and the sweetest, daintiest ways—and so good to everybody, them that wuz poor and sufferin' most of all.
Barzeel wuz always most too enthusiastick to suit me, but I got the idee from what she said that she wuz a oncommon lovely child.
Good land! Elnathan couldn't talk about anything else—like little babblin' brooks runnin' towards the sea, all his talk, every anecdote he told, and every idee he sot forth, jest led up to and ended with that child. Jest like creeks.
He worshipped her.
And he himself told me so many stories about her bein' so good to the poor, and sacrificin' her little comforts for 'em—at her age, too—that I thought to myself, I wonder why you don't take some of them object lessons to heart—why you don't set down at her feet, and learn of her—and I wonder too where she took her sweet charity from, but spoze it wuz from her mother. Her mother had been a beautiful woman, so I had been told. She wuz a Devereaux—nobody that I ever knew, or Josiah. Celeste Devereaux.
The little girl wuz named for her mother. But they always called her The Little Maid.
Wall, to resoom, and to hitch my horse in front of the wagon agin. (Allegory.)
Elnathan had left The Little Maid and her nurse in that Eastern city where he owned so much property, and had come on to pay a flyin' visit to Jonesville, not forgittin' Loontown, you may be sure, where a deceased Aunt had jest died and left her property to him.
He wuz close.
He had left The Little Maid in the finest hotel in the city, so he said. He had looked over more'n a dozen, so I hearn, before he could git one he thought wuz healthy enough and splendid enough for her. At last he selected one, standin' on a considerable rise of ground, with big, high, gorgeous rooms, and prices higher than the very topmost cupalo, and loftiest chimbly pot.
Here he got two big rooms for The Little Maid, and one for the nurse. He got the two rooms for the child so's the air could circulate through 'em.
He wuz very particular about her havin' air of the very purest and best kind there wuz made, and the same with vittles and clothes, etc., etc., etc.
Wall, while he wuz a-goin' on so about pure air and the values and necessities of it, I couldn't help thinkin' of what Barzelia had told me about that big property of hisen in the Eastern city where he had left The Little Maid.
Here, in the very lowest part of the city, he owned hull streets of tenement housen, miserable old rotten affairs, down in stiflin' alleys, and courts, breeders of disease, and crime, and death.
At first some on 'em fell into his hands by a exchange of property, and he found they paid so well, that he directed his agent to buy up a lot of 'em.
Barzelia had told me all about 'em, she was jest as enthusiastick about what she didn't like as what she did; she said the money got in that way, by housin' the poor in such horrible pestilental places, seemed jest like makin' a bargain with Death. Rentin' housen to him to make carnival in.
And while he wuz talkin' to such great length, and with such a satisfied and comfortable look onto his face, about the vital necessities of pure air and beautiful surroundin's, in order to make children well and happy, my thoughts kept a-roamin', and I couldn't help it. Down from the lovely spot where The Little Maid wuz, down, down, into the dretful places that Barzelia had told me about. Where squalor, and crime, and disease, and death walked hand in hand, gatherin' new victims at every step, and where the children wuz a-droppin' down in the poisinous air like dead leaves in a swamp.
I kep a-thinkin' of this, and finally I tackled Elnathan about it, and he laughed, Elnathan did, and begun to talk about the swarms and herds of useless and criminal humanity a-cumberin' the ground, and he threw a lot of statisticks at me. But they didn't hit me. Good land! I wuzn't afraid on 'em, nor I didn't care anything about 'em, and I gin him to understand that I didn't.
And in the cause of duty I kep on a-tacklin' him about them housen of hisen, and advisin' him to tear 'em down, and build wholesome ones, and in the place of the worst ones, to help make some little open breathin' places for the poor creeters down there, with a green tree now and then.
And then agin he brung up the utter worthlessness, and shiftlessness, and viciousness of the class I wuz a-talkin' about.
And then I sez—"How is anybody a-goin' to live pattern lives, when they are a-starvin' to death? And how is anybody a-goin' to enjoy religion when they are a-chokin'?"
And then he threw some more statisticks at me, dry and hard ones too; and agin he see they didn't hit me, and then he kinder laughed agin, and assumed something of a jokelar air—such as men will when they are a-talkin' to wimmen—dretful exasperatin', too—and sez he—
"You are a Philosopher, Cousin Samantha, and you must know such housen as you are a-talkin' about are advantageous in one way, if in no other—they help to reduce the surplus population. If it wuzn't for such places, and for the electric wires, and bomb cranks, and accidents, etc., the world would git too full to stand up in."
"Help to reduce the surplus population!" sez I, and my voice shook with indignation as I said it. Sez I—
"Elnathan Allen, you had better stop a-pilin' up your statisticks, for a spell, and come down onto the level of humanity and human brotherhood."
Sez I, "Spozen you should take it to yourself for a spell, imagine how it would be with you if you had been born there onbeknown to yourself." Sez I, "If you wuz a-livin' down there in them horrible pits of disease and death—if you wuz a-standin' over the dyin' bed of wife or mother, or other dear one, and felt that if you could bring one fresh, sweet breath of air to the dear one, dyin' for the want of it, you would almost barter your hopes of eternity—
"If you stood there in that black, chokin' atmosphere, reekin' with all pestilental and moral death, and see the one you loved best a-slippin' away from you—borne out of your sight, borne away into the onknown, on them dead waves of poisinous, deathly air—I guess you wouldn't talk about reducin' the Surplus Population."
I had been real eloquent, and I knew it, for I felt deeply what I said.
But Elnathan looked cheerful under all my talk. It didn't impress him a mite, I could see.
He felt safe. He wuz sure the squalor and sufferin' never would or could touch him. He thought, in the words of the Him slightly changed, that: "He could read his title clear to Mansions with all the modern improvements."
He and The Little Maid wuz safe. The world looked further off to him, the woes, and wants, and crimes of our poor humanity seemed quite a considerable distance away from him.
Onclouded prosperity had hardened Elnathan's heart—it will sometimes—hard as Pharo's.
But he wuz a visitor and one of the relations on his side, and I done well by him, killed a duck and made quite a fuss.
The business of settlin' the estate took quite a spell, but he didn't hurry any.
He said "the nurse wuz good as gold, she would take good care of The Little Maid. She wrote to him every day;" and so she did, the hussy, all through that dretful time to come.
Oh dear me! oh dear suz!
The nurse, Jean, had a sister who had come over from England with a cargo of trouble and children—after Jean had come on to California.
And Elnathan, good-natured when he wuz a mind to be, had listened to Jean's story of her sister's woes, with poverty, hungery children, and a drunken husband, and had given this sister two small rooms in one of his tenement housen, and asked so little for them, that they wuz livin' quite comfortable, if anybody could live comfortable, in such a stiflin', nasty spot.
Their rooms wuz on top of the house, and wuz kept clean, and so high up that they could get a breath of air now and then.
But the way up to 'em led over a crazy pair of stairs, so broken and rotten that even the Agent wuz disgusted with 'em and had wrote a letter to Elnathan asking for new stairs, and new sanitary arrangements, as the deaths wuz so frequent in that particular tenement, that the Agent wuz frightened, for fear they would be complained of by the City Fathers—though them old fathers can stand a good deal without complainin'.
Wall, the Agent wrote, but Elnathan wuz at that time buildin' a new orchid house (he had more'n a dozen of 'em before) for The Little Maid; she loved these half-human blossoms.
And he wuz buildin' a high palm house, and a new fountain, and a veranda covered with carved lattice-work around The Little Maid's apartments. And a stained-glass gallery, leading from the conservatory to the greenhouses, and these other houses I have mentioned, so that The Little Maid could walk out to 'em on too sunny days, or when it misted some.
And so he wrote back to his Agent, that "he couldn't possibly spend any money on stairs or plumbin' in a tenement house, for the repairs he wuz making on his own place at Menlo Park would cost more than a hundred thousand dollars—and he felt that he couldn't fix them stairs, and he thought anyway it wuzn't best to listen to the complaints of complaining tenants." And he ended in that jokelar way of hisen—
"That if you listened to 'em, and done one thing for 'em, the next thing they would want would be velvet-lined carriages to ride out in."
And the Agent, havin' jest seen the tenth funeral a-wendin' out of that very house that week, and bein' a man of some sense, though hampered, wrote back and said—"Carriages wouldn't be the next thing that they would all want, but coffins."
He said sence he had wrote to Elnathan more than a dozen had been wanted there in that very house, and the tenants had been borne out in 'em.
(And laid in fur cleaner dirt than they wuz accustomed to there;) he didn't write this last—that is my own eppisodin'.
And agin the Agent mentioned the stairs, and agin he mentioned the plumbin'.
But Elnathan wuz so interested then and took up in tryin' to decide whether he would have a stained-glass angel or some stained-glass cherubs a-hoverin' over the gallery in front of The Little Maid's room, that he hadn't a mite of time to argue any further on the subject—so he telegrafted—
"No repairs allowed. Elnathan Allen."
Wall, Elnathan had got the repairs all made, and the place looked magnificent.
Good land! it ort to; the hull place cost more than a million dollars, so I have hearn; I don't say that I am postive knowin' to it. But Barzelia gits things pretty straight; it come to me through her.
The Little Maid enjoyed it all, and Elnathan enjoyed it twice over, once and first in her, and then of course in his own self.
But The Little Maid looked sort o' pimpin, and her little appetite didn't seem to be very good, and the doctor said that a journey East would do her good.
And jest at this time the dowery in Loontown fell onto Elnathan, so that they all come East.
Elnathan had forgot all about Jean havin' any relation in the big Eastern city where they stopped first—good land! their little idees and images had got all overlaid and covered up with glass angels, orchids, bank stock, some mines, palm-houses, political yearnin's, social distinction, carved lattice-work, some religious idees, and yots, and club-houses, etc., etc., etc.
But when he decided to leave The Little Maid in the city and not bring her to Jonesville—(and I believe in my soul, and I always shall believe it, that he wuz in doubt whether we had things good enough for her. The idee! He said he thought it would be too much for her to go round to all the relatives—wall, mebby it wuz that! But I shall always have my thoughts.)
But anyway, when he made up his mind to leave her, he gin the nurse strict orders to not go down into the city below a certain street, which wuz a good high one, and not let The Little Maid out of her sight night or day.
Wall, the nurse knew it wuz wrong—she knew it, but she did it. Jest as Cain did, and jest as David did, when he killed Ury, and Joseph's brother and Pharo, and you and I, and the relations on his side and on yourn.
She knew she hadn't ort to. But bein' out a-walkin' with The Little Maid one day, a home-sick feelin' come over her all of a sudden. She wanted to see her sister—wanted to, like a dog.
So, as the day wuz very fair, she thought mebby it wouldn't do any hurt.
The sky was so blue between the green boughs of the Park! There had been a rain, and the glistenin' green made her think of the hedgerows of old England, where she and Katy used to find birds' nests, and the blue wuz jest the shade of the sweet old English violets. How she and Katy used to love them! And the blue too wuz jest the color of Katy's eyes when she last see them, full of tears at partin' from her.
She thought of Elnathan's sharp orders not to go down into the city, and not to let The Little Maid out of her sight.
Wall, she thought it over, and thought that mebby if she kep one of her promises good, she would be forgive the other.
Jest as the Israelites did about the manny, and jest as You did when you told your wife you would bring her home a present, and come home early—and you bore her home a bracelet, at four o'clock in the mornin'.
And jest as I did when I said, under the influence of a stirring sermon, that I wouldn't forgit it, and I would live up to it—wall, I hain't forgot it.
But tenny rate, the upshot of the matter wuz that the nurse thought she would keep half of the Master's orders—she wouldn't let The Little Maid out of her sight.
So she hired a cab—she had plenty of money, Elnathan didn't stent her on wages. He had his good qualities, Elnathan did.
And she and The Little Maid rolled away, down through the broad, beautiful streets, lined with stately housen and filled with a throng of gay, handsome, elegantly clothed men, wimmen, and children.
Down into narrower business streets, with lofty warehouses on each side, and full of a well-dressed, hurrying crowd of business men—down, down, down into the dretful street she had sot out to find.
With crazy, slantin' old housen on either side—forms of misery filling the narrow, filthy street, wearing the semblance of manhood and womanhood. And worst of all, embruted, and haggard, and aged childhood.
Filth of all sorts cumbering the broken old walks, and hoverin' over all a dretful sicknin' odor, full of disease and death.
Wall, when they got there, The Little Maid (she had a tender heart), she wuz pale as death, and the big tears wuz a-rollin' down her cheeks, at the horrible sights and sounds she see all about her.
Wall, Jean hurried her up the rickety old staircase into her sister's room, where Jean and Kate fell into each other's arms, and forgot the world while they mingled their tears and their laughter, and half crazy words of love and bewildered joy.
The Little Maid sot silently lookin' out into the dirty, dretful court-yard, swarmin' with ragged children in every form of dirt and discomfort, squalor and vice.
She had never seen anything of the kind before in her guarded, love-watched life.
She didn't know that there wuz such things in the world.
Her lips wuz quiverin'—her big, earnest eyes full of tears, as she started to go down the broken old stairs.
And her heart full of desires to help 'em, so we spoze.
But her tears blinded her.
Half way down she stumbled and fell.
The nurse jumped down to help her. She wuz hefty—two hundred wuz her weight; the stairs, jest hangin' together by links of planked rotteness, fell under 'em—down, down they went, down into the depths below.
The nurse was stunted—not hurt, only stunted.
But The Little Maid, they thought she wuz dead, as they lifted her out. Ivory white wuz the perfect little face, with the long golden hair hangin' back from it, ivory white the little hand and arm hangin' limp at her side.
She wuz carried into Katy's room, a doctor wuz soon called. Her arm wuz broken, but he said, after she roused from her faintin' fit, and her arm wuz set—he said she would git well, but she mustn't be moved for several days.
Jean, wild with fright and remorse, thought she would conceal her sin, and git her back to the hotel before she telegrafted to her father.
Jest as you thought when you eat cloves the other night, and jest as I thought when I laid the Bible over the hole in the table-cover, when I see the minister a-comin'.
Wall, the little arm got along all right, or would, if that had been all, but the poisonous air wuz what killed the little creeter.
For five days she lay, not sufferin' so much in body, but stifled, choked with the putrid air, and each day the red in her cheeks deepened, and the little pulse beat faster and faster.
And on the fifth day she got delerious, and she talked wild.
She talked about cool, beautiful parks bein' made down in the stiflin', crowded, horrible courts and byways of the cities—
With great trees under which the children could play, and look up into the blue sky, and breathe the sweet air—she talked about fresh dewey grass on which they might lay their little hollow cheeks, and which would cool the fever in them.
She talked about a fountain of pure water down where now wuz filth too horrible to mention.
She talked very wild—for she talked about them terrible slantin' old housen bein' torn down to make room for this Paradise of the future.
Had she been older, words might have fallen from her feverish lips of how the woes, and evils, and crimes of the lower classes always react upon the upper.
She might have pictured in her dreams the drama that is ever bein' enacted on the pages of history—of the sorely oppressed masses turnin' on the oppressors, and drivin' them, with themselves, out to ruin.
Pages smeared with blood might have passed before her, and she might have dreamed—for she wuz very delerious—she might have dreamed of the time when our statesmen and lawgivers would pause awhile from their hard task of punishin' crime, and bend their energies upon avertin' it—
Helpin' the poor to better lives, helpin' them to justice. Takin' the small hands of the children, and leadin' them away from the overcrowded prisons and penitentaries toward better lives—
When Charity (a good creeter, too, Charity is) but when she would step aside and let Justice and True Wisdom go ahead for a spell—
When co-operative business would equalize wealth to a greater degree—when the government would control the great enterprises, needed by all, but addin' riches to but few—when comfort would nourish self-respect, and starved vice retreat before the dawnin' light of happiness.
Had she been older she might have babbled of all this as she lay there, a victim of wrong inflicted on the low—a martyr to the folly of the rich, and their injustice toward the poor.
But as it wuz, she talked only with her little fever-parched lips of the lovely, cool garden.
Oh, they wuz wild dreams, flittin', flittin', in little vague, tangled idees through the childish brain!
But the talk wuz always about the green, beautiful garden, and the crowds of little children walkin' there.
And on the seventh day (that wuz after Elnathan got there, and me and Josiah, bein' telegrafted to)—
On the seventh day she begun to talk about a Form she saw a-walkin' in the garden—a Presence beautiful and divine, we thought from her words. He smiled as he saw the happiness of the children. He smiled upon her, he wuz reachin' out his arms to her.
And about evenin' she looked up into her father's face and knew him—and she said somethin' about lovin' him so—and somethin' about the beautiful garden, and the happy children there, and then she looked away from us all with a smile, and I spozed, and I always shall spoze, that the Divine One a-walkin' in the cool of the evenin' in the garden, the benign Presence she saw there, happy in the children's happiness, drew nearer to her, and took her in his arms—for it says—
"He shall carry the lambs in His bosom."
That wuz two years ago. Elnathan Allen is a changed man, a changed man.
I hain't mentioned the word surplus population to him. No, I hadn't the heart to.
Poor creeter, I wuz good to him as I could be all through it, and so wuz Josiah.
His hair got white as a old man's in less than two months.
But with the same energy he brought to bear in makin' money he brought to bear on makin' The Little Maid's dream come true.
He said it wuz a vision.
And, poor creeter, a-doin' it all under a mournin' weed; and if ever a weed wuz deep, and if ever a man mourned deep, it is that man.
Yes, Elnathan has done well; I have writ to him to that effect.
He tore down them crazy, slantin', rotten old housen, and made a park of that filthy hole, a lovely little park, with fresh green grass, a fountain of pure water, where the birds come to slake their little thirsts.
He sot out big trees (money will move a four-foot ellum). There is green, rustlin' boughs for the birds to build their nests in. Cool green leaves to wave over the heads of the children.
They lay their pale faces on the grass, they throw their happy little hearts onto the kind, patient heart of their first mother, Nature, and she soothes the fever in their little breasts, and gives 'em new and saner idees.
They hold their little hands under the crystal water droppin' forever from the outspread wings of a dove. They find insensibly the grime washed away by these pure drops, their hands are less inclined to clasp round murderous weepons and turn them towards the lofty abodes of the rich.
They do not hate the rich so badly, for it is a rich man who has done all this for them.
The high walls of the prison that used to loom up so hugely and threatingly in front of the bare old tenement housen—the harsh glare of them walls seem further away, hidden from them by the gracious green of the blossoming trees.
The sunshine lays between them and its rough walls—they follow the glint of the sunbeams up into the Heavens.
My beloved pardner is very easy lifted up or cast down by his emotions, and his excitement wuz intense durin' the hull of the long time that the warfare lasted as to where the World's Fair wuz to be held, where Columbus wuz goin' to be celebrated.
I thought at the time, Josiah wuz so fearful riz up in his mind, that it wuz doubtful if he ever would be settled down agin, and act in a way becomin' to a grandfather and a Deacon in the M.E. meetin'-house.
And it wuz a excitin' time, very, and the fightin' and quarrelin' between the rival cities wuz perilous in the extreme.
It would have skairt Christopher, I'll bet, if he could have seen it, and he would have said that he would most ruther not be celebrated than to seen it go on.
Why, New York and Chicago most come to hands and blows about it, and St. Louis wuz jest a-follerin' them other cities up tight, a-worryin' 'em, and a-naggin', and a sort o' barkin' at their heels, as it wuz, bound she would have it.
They couldn't all on 'em have it. Christopher couldn't be in three places at one time and simultanous, no matter how much calculation he had about him. No, that wuz impossible. He had to be in one place. And they fit, and they fit, and they fit, till I got tired of the very name of the World's Fair, and Josiah got almost ravin' destracted.
It seemed to me, and so I told Josiah, that New York wuz a more proper place for it, bein' as it wuz clost to the ocean, so many foreigners would float over here, them and their things that they wanted to show to the Fair.
It would almost seem as if they would be tired enough when they got here, to not want to disemmark themselves and their truck, and then imegiatly embark agin on a periongor or wagon, or car, or sunthin, and go a-trailin' off thousands of milds further. And then go through it all agin disembarkin' and unloadin' their truck, and themselves.
Howsumever, I spozed if they sot out for the Fair from Africa, or Hindoostan, or Asia, I spozed they would keep on till they got there, if they had to go the hull length of the Misisippi River, and travelled in more'n forty different conveniences, etc., etc. But it didn't seem so handy nor nigh.
But Chicago is dretful worrysome and active, jest like all children who have growed fast, and kinder outgrowed their clothes and family goverment.
She is dretful forward for one of her years, and she knows it. She knows she is smart, and she is bound to have her own way if there is any possible way of gittin' it.
And she had jest put her foot right down, that have that Fair she would. And like as not if she hadn't got it she would have throwed herself and kicked. I shouldn't wonder a mite if she had.
But she jest clawed right in, and tore round and acted, and jawed, and coaxed, and kinder cried, and carried the day, jest as spilte children will, more'n half the time.
Not but what New York wuz a-cuttin' up and a-actin' jest as bad, accordin' to its age.
But Chicago wuz younger and spryer, and could kick stronger and cut up higher.
New York wuz older and lamer, as you may say, its jints wuz stiffer, and it had lost some of its faculties, which made it dretful bad for her.
It wuz forgetful; it had spells of kinder losin' its memory, and had had for years.
Now, when the Great General died, why New York cut up fearful a-fightin' for the honor of havin' him laid to rest in its borders.
Why, New York fairly riz up and kicked higher than you could have spozed it wuz possible for her to kick at her age, and hollered louder than you could have spozed it wuz possible with her lungs.
When Washington, the Capital of this Great Republic, expressed a desire to have the Saviour of his Country sleep by the side of the Founder of it—why, New York acted fairly crazy, and I believe she wuz for a spell. Anyway, I believe she had a spazzum.
Her wild demeanor wuz such, her snorts, her oritorys, resounded on every side, and wuz heard all over the land. She acted crazy as a loon till she got her way.
She promised if she could have the Hero sleep there, she would build a monument that would tower up to the skies.
The most stupendious, the most impressive work of art that wuz ever wrought by man.
Wall, she got her way. Why, she cut up so, that she had to have it, seemin'ly.
Wall, did she do as she agreed? No, indeed.
She had one of her forgetful spells come right on her, a sort of a stupor, I guess, a-follerin' on after a bein' too wild and crazy about gittin' her way.
And anyway, year after year passed, and no monument wuz raised, not a sign of one. She lied, and she didn't seem to care if she had lied.
There the grave of the Great One wuz onmarked by even a decent memorial, let alone the great one they said they would raise.
And when the Great Ones of the Old World—the renowned in Song and Story and History—when they ariv in New York, most their first thoughts wuz to visit the Grand Tomb of our Hero—
The one who their rulers had delighted to honor—the one who had been welcomed in the dazzlin' halls of their Kings. And them halls had felt honored to have his shadow rest on 'em as he passed through 'em to audiences with royalty.
They journeyed to that tomb. Some on 'em had been used to stand by the tombs of their own great dead under the magestic aisles of Westminster Abbey, whose lofty glories dwarfs the human form almost to a pigmy.
Some had stood by the white marble poem of the Tag Megal in India, wherein a royal soul has carved his love for a woman. If that race, to whom we send missionaries to civilize them, could raise such a tomb over its dead, and a woman too, who had done no great things, only loved the man who raised this incomparable monument over her—what could they expect to find raised by this great and dominant race over the dead form of the man who had saved the hull country from ruin?
So with feelin's of awe and wonder in their hearts, expectin' to see they knew not what, the awestruck, admirin' foreigner paused before the tomb of the Great Leader—and he see nothin'. Not even a respectable grave-stun, such as you see in any New England graveyard. (Or that has been the case till very lately. But now things look a little brighter in the monument line.)
But it has been a shame, and a burnin' one, so burnin' that it has seemed to me that it would take all the cool blue waters that glide along below, a-complainin' of the slight and insult to our Hero—it would take more than all these waters to wash it out and make the country clean agin.
But she had one of her spells, and whether she wuz well or whether she wuz sick, New York lied jest like a dog about it.
Whether she wuz crazy or not, the fact remained that she had bragged, and then gin out; had promised, and not performed.
I believe she wuz out of her head.
Then there wuz the same kind of a performance she went through with the Goddess of Liberty.
When France had gin that beautiful and most wondeful creeter to us as a present, it looked sort o' shabby in New York to not provide a platform for that female to stand up on.
Now, didn't it? She a-offerin' to light up the world if she only had a place to stand up on—and the great continent of America not bein' willin' to gin it to her.
New York talked—oh, yes, it wuz a-goin' to do great things! Oh, what a big, noble door-step it wuz a-layin' out to rize up for that goddess to stand on!
But there it wuz, New York had one of her spells agin, lost her faculties, forgot all about what she said she wuz a-goin' to do—and left that noble female, left that princely present to lay round in a heap, a perfect imposition to France and to human nater.
The idee of a goddess with no place to stand up on! The Great Republic a-stretchin' out on each side, and no place for her feet to rest on.
And no knowin' but she would have been a-layin' round to-day, all broke up and onjinted, if it hadn't been for a public-sperited newspaper man, who took the matter up, and worked at it, and called public attention to it, till at last it got a place for the goddess to be histed up on her feet, and rest her legs a spell, all crumpled up under her.
The idee of a goddess, and such a goddess, a layin' round with her legs all doubled up under her, and all broke up—the idee!
Then it got the Centenial Exhibition there. And it wuzn't no more than right, what it promised and bound itself to do, to make some triumphal arches for the processions to walk under, a-triumphin'.
Why, she vowed and declared solemn that she would make 'em if she could have it there.
They wuz goin' to be, accordin' to her tell, accordin' to what New York said about it, about the most gorgus and impressive arches that ever wuz arched over anybody, fur or near, anywhere.
Now, after it got the exhibition there, did it make 'em? No, indeed.
It had another spell come on, clean forgot all about it. And there the Columbian Exposition come and no arch for it to walk under, not a arch, only some old boards nailed up, some like a barn door, only higher.
Wall, you see these kind o' crazy spells, losin' its faculties every once in a while, made it dretful hard for New York.
I believe she would got the World's Fair if it hadn't been for that. But the question would keep a-comin' up, and the country had to pay attention to it—what if she got the World's Fair, and then had another fit! What if she had another spell come on, and forgot all about it!
And lo! and behold! have the World's Fair sail up and halt in front of her and she not have any place for it, and mebby be out of her head so she couldn't remember nothin', wouldn't remember who Christopher wuz, or anythin'.
No; the hull country felt that it wuz resky, and that, I have always spozed, wuz one reason why New York lost it.
And then, as I have said heretofore, Chicago wuz jest bound to have it, and she did.
But then, if you'll believe it, jest like any spilte young child that cries for another big apple when both its hands are full of 'em—it hadn't no place for it.
It had got the World's Fair, but hadn't got any place to put it. The idee!
Jest crazy to have it, cried and yelled, and acted, (metafor) till it got it. And then, lo! and behold! where wuz she goin' to put it? Hadn't a place big enough, or ready for it.
Of course she had the lake. But she didn't want to drownd it, after makin' such a fuss over it; it wouldn't have seemed very horsepitable. And she didn't really want to put it out onto a prairie. And she couldn't put it right round under her feet, where it would git trampled on, and git bruised, and knocked round; that wouldn't be a-usin' Christopher Columbus as he ort to be used.
And, as I say, she wuz honorable enough to not want to put it in the lake.
And so, after worryin' and takin' on, and talkin' month after month about it, she concluded to split the Christopher Columbus World's Fair into some like this—put the Christopher part on a stagin' built out into the lake, and the Columbus part back a ways into the park.
Wall, I didn't make no objections to it; I thought I wouldn't say a word or make a move to break it up, or make their burdens any heavier. No; I jest stood still and see it go on.
Only I did talk some out to one side to my Josiah about it, about the curiosity of their behavior.
Sez I, "It seems as if, after what Columbus done for the country, he ort to be kep hull, and not be broke into, and split apart. But howsumever," sez I, "I sha'n't make any move to stop it."
And Josiah sez "he guessed it wouldn't make much difference whether I made a move or not. He guessed Chicago could take care of its own business, and would do it."
I wuz a-pinnin' the outside onto a comforter, and I had a lot of pins in my mouth, but before I put 'em in I sez—
"Wall, it looks kind o' shiftless to me, to think they hadn't no place to put it, after all their actions."
And as I resoomed my work, he went on:
"Now, you imagine how you would feel, Samantha Allen, if you had bought a big elephant, bigger than Jumbo, and you knew it wuz on its way here, approachin' nearer and nearer—had got as fur as Old Bobbet's, and we hadn't a place to put it in that wuz suitable and strong enough—we couldn't git her head hardly in the stable, we couldn't leave her out doors to rampage round and step over barns and knock down housen, and we couldn't git it offen our hands any way, kill it, or give it away—how would you feel?"
Then I took my pins out of my mouth, and sez—
"I wouldn't have bought the elephant till I had measured my barn."
Then I put my pins in my mouth agin, for I thought like as not that I wouldn't have to use my tongue agin. I didn't lay out to, for my mouth wuz full, and I wuz in a hurry for my comforter.
But Josiah sez, "O shaw! lots of folks buy things they hadn't no idee of buyin' till they see somebody else wants 'em bad.
"I remember that is the way I come to buy that two-year colt; I hadn't a idee of wantin' it till I see Old Bobbet and Deacon Sypher jest sot on havin' it, and that whetted me right up, and I wuz jest bound to have that colt, and did. I didn't expect to find it profitable any of the time. I knew it would kick like the old Harry and smash things, and it did.
"And that is jest the way with Chicago; she knew the World's Fair wuzn't over and above profitable to have round, besides bein' dretful bothersome, but she see New York and St. Louis a-dickerin' for it, and then she wanted it."
"Wall," sez I, considerable dry and sharp, for I had three pins in my mouth at the time—
"She has got it!"
"Yes," sez Josiah, "and you'll see that she will put in and work lively, now she's got it; she'll show what she can do."
"Yes," sez I, dryer than ever, and more sharper; "before she got a stun laid for a foundation to rest the World's Fair on, before she got a stick laid for Christopher to plant one of his feet on, she begun to buy up hull streets of housen to rig up for saloons, to make men drunk as fools, to make murderers and assassins of 'em.
"I wonder what Columbus would say if he could stand there and see it go on."
"He'd probable step in and take a drink," sez Josiah.
"Never," sez I. "The eye that could discover without actual sight, the soul that could apprehend without comprehension—that could look fur off into the mist of the onknown, and see a New World risin' up before his rapt vision—such a eye and such a soul didn't depend on bad whiskey for its stimulent. No, indeed!
"He didn't lay round in bar-rooms with a red nose, and a stagger onto him. He wuz up and about, with his senses all straight, and the star he follered wuzn't the light of a corner saloon.
"No, indeed! He see the invisible. He wuz beloved of God, and hearn secrets that coarser minds round him never dremp of. He didn't try to cloy up them Heavenly senses with whiskey. No, indeed!
"And Isabella now, if that likely creeter could be sot down in front of that long street of grog-shops, she would almost be sorry she ever sold her jewelry, she would be so sot back by seein' that awful sight."
"O shaw!" sez Josiah, "she didn't sell her jewelry."
"Wall, she wuz willin' to," sez I.
"Id'no as she wuz. She jest talked about it; wimmen must talk or bust anyway, they are made so."
"How are men made?" sez I dryly, as dry as ever a corncob wuz, after many years.
"Oh, men are made so's they try to answer wimmen some—they have to; they have to keep their hand in so's to not lose their speech on that very account. I presume Columbus knew all about such things. He had two wives; he knew what trouble wuz."
I see that man wuz a-tryin' every way to draw my attention away offen them long streets of saloons built up in Chicago, and I wouldn't suckumb to it. So I branched right out, and back agin, and sez I—
"The idee of a civilized city, after eighteen hundred years of Christianaty—the idee of their doin' sunthin' that if savage Africans or Inguns wuz a-doin' the World would ring with it, and missionaries would start for 'em on the run, or by the carload.
"There is a awful fuss made about a cannibal eatin' a man now and then, makin' a good plain stew of him, or a roast, and that is the end of it; they eat up his flesh, but they don't make no pretensions to fry up his soul; they leave that free and pure, and it goes right up to Heaven.
"But here in our Christian land, in city and country, this great man-eatin' trade costs the country over a billion dollars a year, and devours one hundred and twenty thousand men each year, and destroys the soul and mind first, before it tackles the body.
"They go as fur ahead of cannibals in this wickedness as eternity is longer than time.
"And the Goverment, this great beneficent Goverment, that looks down with pity on oncivilized races—the Goverment of the United States sells and rents this man-eater and soul-destroyer at so much a year.
"If I had my way," sez I, a-gittin' madder and madder the more I thought on't—
"If I had my way I'd bring over a hull drove of cannibals and Hottentots, etc., and let 'em camp round Uncle Sam a spell, and try to reform him.
"And the first thing I would have 'em make that old man do would be to empty out his pockets, turn 'em right inside out and empty out all the accursed gains he had got from this shameful traffic. And then I'd have them cannibals jest trot that old man right round to every saloon and rum-hole he had rented and wuz a partner in the proceeds, and make him lay to and empty out every barrel and hogset of whiskey and beer and cider, and make him do the luggin' and liftin' his own self.
"And then I'd let them Hottentots drive him round a spell to all the houses of infamy in which he wuz in partnership, and I'd make him haul some matches out of his pockets and set fire to 'em, and burn 'em all down, every one of 'em.
"And then I'd let the old man set down and rest a spell, and let them heathens instruct him and teach him a spell their way of man-eatin'. And I'll bet after a while they could git the old man up to their level, so if he sot out to kill a man, he would jest kill him, and not destroy his soul first. For he hain't upon a level with 'em now," sez I, a-lookin' firm and decided at my pardner.
And he sez, "I shouldn't think you would dast to talk so about Uncle Sam; you have always pretended to like him—you would never bear to hear a word agin him."
"Wall," sez I, "it is because I like him that I want him to do right. Do you spoze a mother don't like a child when she spanks him for temper, or blisters him for croup, or gives him worm-wood for worms?
"I love that old man, and wish him awful well, and when I see him so noble and sot up in lots of things, it jest makes me mad as a hen to see him so awful mean and little in others.
"I wouldn't think I liked him half so well if I sot down and see him stalk right on to his own ruin, and not try to stop him.
"Do you spoze a ma would set and let the child she loved throw himself into the fire because he got mad? No; she would haul him back, and the more he kicked and struggled the more she would hang on, and like as not spank him.
"I want this country to be the Light of the World, the favored of Heaven, and the admiration of all the different nations that will camp round it at the Christopher Columbus Exhibition. But they can't be expected to uphold no such doin's as these, let alone admirin' of 'em."
Sez Josiah, "It beats all how wimmen will run on if a man gits drunk. Why don't you pitch into him, instead of blamin' the Goverment?"
And I sez, "If you go to work to move a tree you don't pull on the top branches. Of course they are more showy and easy to git holt of. But you have to dig the roots out if you want to move the tree."
Josiah looked real indifferent. He hain't like me in lots of things; he is more for dabblin' on the surface than divin' down under the water for first causes, and he spoke up the minute I had finished my last words, and sez he—
"Krit and Thomas Jefferson are a-comin' here to dinner; they are goin' up to Zoar on business, and are a-goin' to stop as they come back. And I should think it wuz about time you got sunthin' started."
And I sez, "The boys a-comin' here to dinner! Why'e—why didn't you tell me so?"
And I got right up and went to makin' a lemon puddin'.
I knew Thomas J. wuz a-layin' out to go up to Zoar some day that week to see about a young chap to stay in his office while he wuz at the World's Fair, and it seemed that Krit had gone along for company and for the ride.
Them two young fellers love to be together. They are both as smart as whips—the very keenest, snappiest kind of whips.
Wall, I laid out to git a good dinner, that wuz my calm intention; and I sent out Josiah Allen to ketch two plump pullets, I a-layin' out to stuff 'em with the particular kind of dressin' that Thomas J. is partial to. It is a good dressin'.
And then I wuz a-layin' out to have some nice mashed-up potatoes, some early sweet peas, some lemon puddin', besides some coffee, jest as Thomas J. likes it—rich, golden coffee, with plenty of cream in it; and then besides I wuz goin' to have one or two vegetables that Josiah liked, and some jellys, etc., that Krit wuz particular fond of. Oh, I wuz goin' to have a good dinner, there hain't a doubt of that! Oh, and I wuz goin' to have some delicious soup too, to start off the dinner with! I got the receipt of Job Pressley's wife and improved on it, (though I wouldn't want her to know I said it, she is jealous dispositioned.) But I did.
Wall, if you'll believe it, jest as I wuz a-finishin' my dressin', addin' the last ingregient to it, and my mind wuz all on a strain to have it jest right—
All of a sudden Josiah Allen rushed in all out of breath, and hollered to me for a rope.
"A rope?" sez I, bein' took aback.
"Yes, a long, stout rope," sez he, a-standin' still and a-breathin' hard. Why, he looked that wild and agitated and wrought up, that the idee passed through my mind:
Is that man a-contemplatin' suicide? Does he want to hang himself?
But, as I sez, the idee only jest passed through my fore-top; it didn't find any encouragement to stay—it went through on the trot, as you may say.
No, my noble-minded pardner never would commit suicide, I knew. But his looks wuz fearful, and I sez, almost tremblin'—
"What do you want the rope for? I don't know of any rope, only the bed-cord up in the old chamber."
At these words, that agitated, skairt man rushed right upstairs, I a-follerin' him, summer-savory still in my hands, and fear and tremblin' in my mean.
And I see him dash up to the old bedstead in the attick, dash off the bedclothes and the feather-bed, and beginnin' oncordin' of it.
I then laid hands on him, and commanded him to desist.
"I won't desist," sez he, "I won't desist."
There wuz I, still a-holdin' him by the back of his frock—he had on his barn clothes.
"Then do you tell your pardner the meanin' of your actions imegetly and to once."
"I hain't got time," sez he, and oh! how he wuz onriddlin' that old bedstead of the rope; the fuzz fairly flew offen the rope as he yanked it through them holes, and twice I wuz hit by it voyalently in my face, as I strove to hold him, and elicit some information out of him.
But I could git nothin' but hard breathin' and muttered oathes till the bed-cord wuz all onloosened, and then he gathered it over his arm and started on the run for the door, I a-follerin'.
And then I see that there stood Old Bobbet, Sime Yerden, Deacon Sypher, and, in fact, most all the men in the neighborhood and some beyend it, some from the Loontown road, and some from over towards Shackville. There wuz more'n twenty of 'em.
And I sez, and I almost fainted as I sez it—
"Has another war broke loose, or is it a wild animal from a circus? Tell me, oh, tell me what it is!"
And one on 'em hollered, "It is a wild beast in human shape, but he won't be a wild beast much longer!"
And he pinted to the rope he had on his arm.
And I see then the fearful meanin' hangin' round that bed-cord. I see that others had 'em, and I see that hangin' wuz about to take place and ensue. And I besought Josiah Allen "to pause, to stay a little, to tell me what it all meant, to not take the law into his own hands."
I poured out words like a flood, I wuz inkoherent in the extreme, and my words wuz vain.
But Josiah Allen—oh, how that man loves me! He darted back, throwed a paper at my feet, and hollered—
"That will explain, Samantha!" And then he wuz gone; I see 'em divide into four parties, and go towards the woods, and towards the hills, and towards the creek, and towards the beaver medder, each party havin' a rope, and I sez solemn like, before I thought—
"May God have mercy on your poor soul!"
I spoze I meant the one they wuz after, and mebby I meant them that wuz after him, I don't know; I wuz too inkoherent and wrought up to know what I did mean.
But I know I sot down and read that paper as quick as I could find my specks. And I well remember that after huntin' high and low for 'em and all over the house with tremblin' knees and shaky hands cold as a frog's, I found 'em on my own fore-top, and I sot right down in my tracts and read.
Well, it wuz enough to melt the heart of a stun, a granit stun, and as I sot there and read, the tears jest run down my face in a stream; why, they fell so that they wet the front of my gingham dress wet as sop, and ontirely onbeknown to me.
But I kep a-thinkin' to myself, "Oh, that poor little creeter! Oh, them poor, poor creeters that loved her! Oh, that poor mother!" And then anon I would say to myself, "Oh, what if it wuz my Tirzah Ann! What if it wuz the Babe! Oh, that villian; may the Lord punish him!"
And that is jest the way I sot, and wept, and cried, and cried and wept.
You see, the way it wuz, there wuz a sweet little girl, only ten years old, decoyed by a lyin' excuse from her warm, cosey home at midnight by a villian, and took through the snowy, icy streets to her doom.
Her little cold body wuz found in an empty old barn, and her destroyer, her murderer, had fled. But men wuz on his tracts, the hull country wuz roused, and they wuz huntin' him down, as if he wuz a wild animal, as indeed he wuz.
But anon, as I read the paper over again, I see these words—"The man was intoxicated."
And then I begun to weep on the other end of my handkerchief (metafor).
And then, when other accounts come out, and the man wuz ketched, he swore, and swore solemn, too, that he did not remember one single solitary thing after he left that saloon where he got his drink till he sobered up and found himself by the side of that little dead body.
And other witnesses swore that they see him drunk as a fool before he sot out on his murderous and worse than murderous assault.
But from the time of the first tidings that come of the deed that had been done—though the excitement wuz more rampant that I ever knew it to be, and every single man in the community wuz out bloodthirsty for his death, and every party a-carry-in' a rope to hang him, and every woman a-lookin' out eager to see him hung, and all on 'em a-cursin' him, and a-weepin' over what he had done—
Durin' all this time, not one word did I hear uttered agin the cause of his crime, agin the man who sold him what made him a murderer, and worse, or the man that supplied the saloon with this damnable liquid.
No, not a single word did I hear from a Jonesvillian, male or female. And not one word from my pardner, though his excitement wuz so extreme that that night, jest about dusk, he rushed out thinkin' that he had got the murderer, and throwed the rope round Deacon Sypher, who had come over to borrow an auger. And once in a similer way he ketched Old Bobbet, his excitement and zeal wuz so rampant and intense.
Them old men wuz mad as hens, and cause enough they had, though they forgive him when they see what a state he wuz in, and they jest about as bad themselves.
But not a word from them, nor from any one did I hear durin' the hull time the excitement rained—and oh! how it did rain—about the cause of the crime.
Not one man waded in and dived down into the deep undercurrent of causes, that strange deep that underlays all human actions.
And once durin' the last day's hunt for the murderer, who wuz hidin' round somewhere—it wuz spozed in the woods—I see as I looked out of my kitchen winder, at a party headed for our swamp, one man fur more ferocious actin' than any I had seen; he wuz a-hollerin' wilder, and he carried a fur longer rope.
And I asked my companion who that man wuz that acted madder and fur more fiercer than any of the rest and more anxious to git holt of the escapin' man, so he could be hung up to once to the highest tree that could be found.
I hearn him say that right out of my own kitchen winder—I hearn him say—
"We won't wait for no law; if we only ketch him we will hang him up so high that the buzzards can't git him."
And then he yelled out savage and fierce and started off on a run for the swamp, the rest of the men applaudin' him up high, and follerin' on after him.
And Josiah told me that wuz the saloon-keeper up to Zoar.
Sez I, "The very man that sold that poor sinner the licker on that night?"
"Yes," sez Josiah.
"Wall," sez I, "the rope ort to be used on his own neck."
And Josiah Allen acted awfully horrified at my idee, and asked me "if I wuz as crazy as a loon?"
And sez he, "He has been one of the fiercest ones to head him off that has been out."
And I sez dryly—dry as a chip, "He wuzn't so fierce to head him off the night he sold him the whiskey and hard cider." Sez I, "That headin' off would have amounted to sunthin'."
And agin I sez, "The rope ort to be used on his own neck, if it is on anybody's, his and Uncle Sam's."
And agin Josiah Allen asked me, "If I wuz as crazy as a dumb loon and a losin' my faculties—what few of 'em you ever had," sez he.
And I sez, "The two wuz in partnership together, and they got the man to do the murder." Sez I, "Most all the murders that are done in this country are done by that firm—the Goverment and the Saloon-keeper. And when their poor tools, that they have whetted up for bloodshed, swing out through their open doors and cut and slash and mow down their ghastly furrows of crime and horrer, who is to blame?"
And Josiah turned over the almanac to the yeller cover and perused it, so's to show his perfect and utter indifference and contempt for my words.
Wall, they ketched the man a day or two after, about sundown. He had been a little ahead of his pursuers, a-dodgin' 'em this way and that way, jest like a fox a-dodgin' a pack of hounds.
His old rubber boots wuz all wore offen him, his clothes hangin' in rags and tatters where he had rushed through the woods and swamps, his feet and hands all froze. Half starved, and almost idiotic with fear and remorse and the effects of the poisoned licker and doctored cider he had drinked, he wuz the most pitiful and wretched-lookin' object I ever see in my hull life.
And it happened he wux took a little over a mile from us, and he wuz brung right by our door.
There wuz some officers in the party, so they interfered and kep the mob from hangin' him right up by the neck.
They said they had to hold that saloon-keeper to keep his hands offen him, and they said that in spite of all he did git the rope round him.
But the officers interfered, and after that they had to hold the saloon-keeper to keep him from the prisoner.
And I sez, when Josiah was a-praisin' up the saloon-keeper's zeal, and how the officers had to hold him—
I sez, "It is a pity the officers didn't hold him in the first place, and then all the horrer and tragedy might have been saved."
But my pardner wouldn't even notice a thing I said. He felt, I could see, that my remarks wuz indeed beneath his notice.
Wall, I stood and see this poor, weak, despairin' victim of rum dragged off to a felon's doom, dragged off to the scaffold, and one of his chief draggers wuz the one that caused his crime—caused it accordin' to law. And the rest of his draggers wuz the ones who had voted to have the trade of murderer makin' and child killin' and villian breedin' perpetuated and kep up.
And the Goverment of the United States hung him, the same Goverment that wuz in partnership with that saloon up in Zoar, and took part of the pay for makin' this man murder that innocent little girl.
Wall, Josiah and me, we went to that funeral. I felt that I must go, and so did he; it wuz only about five milds from here, in the Methodist Episcopal Meetin'-House up to Zoar.
Her father and mother wuz members in good standin'. Lots of Jonesvillians went to the funeral; there hadn't been such a excitement in Zoar and Jonesville sence Seth Widrik murdered his wife's mother with a broad axe (and that wuz done through whiskey, so they say; it wuz done before my time).
The Meetin'-House in Zoar wuz crowded to its utmost capacity and the ceilin'. And seats wuz sot in all the aisles, and the pulpit stairs wuz full of folks, and the door-steps, and the front yard wuz packed full. We went early, and got a seat.
All the ministers of Zoar, and Jonesville, and Loontown, and Shackville wuz there, and of all the sermons that wuz preached—wall, it wuz a sight. The tears jest run down most everybody's face, and when the mourners wuz addressed, why, big, hefty men all round me jest boohooed right out. Why, it wuz enough to melt a stun.
Then the preacher depictered that little golden head that had made sunshine in her home through the darkest days, as bein' brung low by an asassin. Then he spoke of that sweet little silvery voice a-ringin' through the home and the hearts of her father and mother, of how it wuz lifted up in vain appeal to her slayer that dretful night.
Then he spoke of the tender white arms that clung so lovingly round her parent's neck, how they wuz lifted up in frantic appeal and vain to her destroyer that bleak night, and wuz now folded up to be lifted no more till she met that man at the bar of God. And then the little arm would be raised and point him out "murderer." The sweet eyes, full of God's avenging wrath, would smite him as accursed from God's presence forever.
And then he depictered it all how she would be taken to His own heart by Him "who said that He would carry the lambs in His bosom." And this poor wounded lamb, He would hold more tenderly than any other, while the murderer! the villian! the asassin! would be hurled downward into everlasting burning, where he would dwell forever and forever in the midst of unquenchable flames, in partial payment of that deed of hisen.
Why, when he said them last words about the prisoner, folks looked so relieved and pleased that their tears almost dried.
And the saloon-keeper, who sot right in front of me, hollered out—"Amen, amen, so mote it be!"
He wuz a Methodist, he had a right to holler. And folks looked approvin' at him for it.
But I didn't—no, fur from it. I kep up a-thinkin' what I read—
"That the prisoner wuz a good-hearted man, only drink made a fiend and a fool of him." And that he said solemn "that he did not remember one thing that had taken place after he had taken his three first drinks up in that saloon, till he sobered up and found himself in that deserted old barn, with the little dead body by his side, little delicate creeter, dead and frozen, with all of the black future of desperate remorse and agony for him a-lookin' at him in the stare of her open blue eyes."
Sweet little forget-me-not eyes, like two spring violets frozen in a drift of snow. What strange things I read in 'em, with my tears a-fallin' fast onto 'em!
They seemed full of mute questionin'. They seemed to be lookin' up through the blue sky clear up to God's throne. They seemed to almost compel a answer from divine justice as to what wuz the cause of her murder. To appeal dumbly to the God of Justice and Mercy to wipe out this curse from our land—the curse that wuz causin' jest such murders, and jest such agonies, all over our land—sendin' out to the gallows and down to perdition jest such criminals.
The little coffin had to be put out in the yard, as I say, so the crowd could walk past it.
And there the little golden head and white face lay for 'em all to see. But nobody seemed to see in 'em what I see. For amongst the many curses of the murderer that I heard, not one word did I hear about the man that caused the murder, about the voters and upholders of that man, about the Goverment that wuz in partnership with that man and went shares with him, and for the sake of a few cents had dealt out that agony, that shame, and that criminality.
Wall, the little coffin wuz closed at last, the mother wuz carried faintin', and lookin' like a dead woman, back to her empty, darkened home. The father, with a face like white marble, curbin' down his own agonized grief so's to take care of her, and try to bring her back to the world agin, so they could together face its blackness and emptiness.
And the crowd dispersed, lookin' forward to the excitement of the hangin'.
And the saloon-keeper went home and mebby counted over the few cents that accrued to him out of the hull enterprise.
And the wise male voters returned, a-calculatin' (mebby) on votin' for license so's to improve the condition of their towns.
And Uncle Sam, poor, childish old creeter, mebby wrote down aginst this hull job—"three cents revenue." And mebby he rattled them cents round in his old pockets. I don't know what he did; I hain't no idee what he won't take it into his old head to do.
And the prisoner sot in his dark, cold cell, and didn't appreciate, mebby, the wisdom of the wise law-makers increasin' our revenues by such means.
No; he had all he could do to set and look at the bare stun walls, and figger out this sum—on one side the three cents profit; and substract from it—a bright young life ended, lifelong agony to the hearts that loved her.
His own old mother's and sister's heads and hearts bowed down in shame and sorrow.
His own hopeful life cut short at the edge of the scaffold, and for the future—what?
He couldn't quite work that out, for this text kep comin' into his sum—"No drunkard shall inherit eternal life."
And then another text kep a-comin' up—
"Cursed is he that putteth the cup to his neighbor's lips."
No, he didn't feel the triumphant wisdom of the licker traffic. He wouldn't feel like rattlin' the three cents round in his pockets if he had 'em, but he didn't have 'em. His sum, no matter how many times he figgered it out, stood nothin' but orts, nothin' but clear loss to him, here and hereafter.
Wall, I have rode off considerable of a ways with my wagon hitched on in front of my horse, and to go back to the horse's head agin.
I had a good dinner by the time the boys got back from Zoar—a excellent one.
And in order to go on with my story, and keep right by that horse's head I spoke of, I will pass over Josiah's excitement when he come in jest before dinner, and throwed his rope down in the corner of the kitchen; but suffice it to say, his excitement wuz nearly rampant.
I will pass over the two boys' indignant anger, which wuz jest the same as mine, only stronger, as much stronger as man's strength is stronger than a woman's.
Thomas J. had been successful in gittin' the young chap; he wuz a-comin' when he wuz wanted. Thomas J. wuzn't goin' to wait till the last minute before he engaged him; our son is a wonderful good business man—wonderful.
And everything seemed to bid fair that we should git off with no hendrances to the World's Fair, to pay our honor and our respects to Christopher Columbus.
And oh, how I did honor that man! I sot there in my peaceful kitchen that afternoon, after the boys had gone away, perfectly satisfied with the dinner I had gin 'em.
And when I had got my mind a little offen that poor little girl and her poor drunken destroyer, I begun to think agin of Christopher Columbus, and what he had done, and what he hadn't done, till I declare for't I got fairly lost in thoughts.
I thought of how he had been scorfed at and jerred at for not thinkin' as other folks did. And how he kep workin', and hopin', and believin', and persistin' in thinkin' that he wuz in the right on't, and kep on a lookin' over the wide waste of waters for the New Land.
And I thought to myself how I would enjoy a good visit with Christopher, and how he would sympathize with us, who, though we may be scorfed at by our pardners, and the world.
Yet can't help a-lookin' off over the troubled waves of unjust laws, and cruel old customs, a-tryin' to catch a glimpse of the New and Freer Land, that our hopes and our divine intuitions tell us is there beyend the shadows, a-waitin' for free men and free wimmen.
Yes, I did feel at that time how conjenial Christopher Columbus would have been to me.
As I have said more formally, Christopher wuz sot up in my mind to a almost tottlin' hite, on account of several things he did, and several things he didn't do.
Yes; Christopher wuz sot up in my mind to a almost tottlin' hite, on account of several things he did, and several things he didn't do.
Now, if anybody to-day branches out into any new and beautiful belief and practice—anything that is beyend the vision of more carnal-minded people—
Why they raise the cry to once, "Let us cling to common sense. Let us be guided by what we see and know. Don't let us float out on any new theory. Don't less go out of sight of the Shore of old Practice, and Custom."