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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSamantha At Coney Island - Chapter 8. In Which Mr. Pomper Declares His Intenshuns...
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Samantha At Coney Island - Chapter 8. In Which Mr. Pomper Declares His Intenshuns... Post by :zimbie Category :Long Stories Author :Marietta Holley Date :May 2012 Read :1937

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Samantha At Coney Island - Chapter 8. In Which Mr. Pomper Declares His Intenshuns...

CHAPTER EIGHT. IN WHICH MR. POMPER DECLARES HIS INTENSHUNS AN' GIVES HIS VIEWS ON MATRIMONY


As our party sort o' swep' gracefully down into the hall, we thought we would step outdoors for a minute for a breath of fresh air. It looked gay and almost fairy-like out there. The two broad piazzas wuz all lit up with colored lights and baskets of posies hung down between 'em full of bloom, and the broad piazzas and wide flight of steps leadin' up to 'em wuz full of folks in bright array, walkin' and talkin' and laughin' makin' the seen more fair and picture-like. And in front wuz the long grassy lawn with its gay flower beds, and the long walk down to the wharf all sparklin' with lights, and beyend, in front of it all, lay the deep river, with its sighin' voice borne in on the stillness, jest as in the hearts of every one of that throng, way back beyend the gayety and sparklin' mirth lay the deep sea of their own inner life, with its melancholy hantin' memories, its sighin' complainin' voices, its deeps that nobody else could fathom.

And while we stood there, I wrapped in reverie and a gray zephyr shawl, a broad beam of light wuz cast from somewhere fur off, shinin' full and square first one side then the other side of the river. Nearer and nearer it seemed to be comin' towards us, and wherever that light fell a picture wuz brung quick as a flash of lightnin' out of the darkness.

It seemed some like the day of Judgment shinin' through the darkness of men's lives and bringin' out the hidden things. Way out in the distance where nothin' could be seen but blackness and shadows, the beam would fall and a island would stand out plain before us, houses with men and wimmen on the piazzas, a boat house, a boat with men and wimmen and children in it. You could see for one dazzlin' minute the color of their garments, and the motion of their hands and arms, then the sea of darkness would engulf 'em agin, and on the nigh side out of the darkness would shine out a vision of the shore with trees standin' up green and stately, and you could see the color of leaf and bough and almost the flutter of their leaves. A green lawn, rosy flower beds, a pretty cottage, faces at the windows, agin darkness swallowed it up, and broad and brilliant the great shaft of light lay on the blackness, and on the shinin' water fur ahead a boat stood out vivid. Its white sail shone, the young man at the helm with uplifted head wuz wavin' a greetin', the girl in the other end of the boat looked like a picture in her broad hat and white wrap, and beyend 'em and all round 'em, wuz little boats, and fur ahead a big steamer.

Anon it wuz turned sideways, and a dark mysterious craft wuz seen sailin' by mysteriously, one of the big lake vessels goin' I know not where. Anon a dazzlin' flash swep' right across us, bringin' Faith and me and my pardner out into almost blindin' relief, his bald head shinin' in the foreground, his cravat gleamin' almost blindin'ly, and with music and bright light shinin' from the cabin winders, and decks loaded with gay passengers, the Search Light Steamer swep' up to the wharf.

The ball had not yet arrove at its hite when we entered the festivious hall, so we readily found seats in a commogious corner. On one side on me wuz my pardner, on the off side sot Faith in her serene beauty. In front of me and on each side the gay crowd of dancers.

Pretty young girls arrayed in every color of the rain-bow. Handsome young men, ditto homely ones, little children as pretty as posies with their white dresses and white silk stockin's and slippers dancin' as gayly as any of the rest, all on 'em big and little, graceful and awkward, swingin', turnin', glidin' along, swingin', turnin', all keepin' time to the sweet swayin' tones of the music, music that seemed sometimes to bear my soul off some distance away and swing it round and dance with it a spell, and then whirl it back agin to the Present and Josiah. It wuz a queer time, but very riz up and enjoyable in spite of some little sharp twinges that come anon or oftener, which might have been conscience, but which I tried to lay off onto rumatiz.

Two wimmen wuz talkin' near us, sez one of 'em, "There he goes agin, see him prancin' round." And she motioned to a young chap I'd noticed who seemed to be the most indefatigable dancer in the hull lot, and his face wuz determined lookin', as if his hull life depended on gallopin' round the room, and as if he never wuz goin' to stop.

"See him," sez the woman, "that young man's father and grand-father would have swooned away if they'd thought that any of their kin would dance."

"Wuz they so good?" sez the other woman.

"No," wuz the reply, "they had all sorts of narrowness, sins and coniptions, but they thought dancin' wuz the wickedest thing ever done. This boy wuz brought up as strict as a he nun, and now see him prancin' round!"

And I spoke up and sez, "I hope he will prance off some of them hereditary sins, if he's got to prance." They looked round at me considerable cool and I said no more. But everybody wuzn't so clost mouthed, for pretty soon a old lady come and sot down in a chair by the side of me--Faith had moved a little back--and she sez:

"I want to dance; I love it dearly."

I looked up at her in amaze. Her cheeks wuz fell in. Her brow wuz yellered and furrowed with years, and though her dress wuz gay she couldn't conceal Time's ravages.

"Dance," sez I kinder dreamily and brow beat, "well, why don't you dance?"

Sez she, "I don't know any of the gentlemen here."

I felt a movement on my nigh side and see that Josiah wuz leanin' forward in deep interest, and thinkses I, he is sorry for her folly, he has a noble heart. Well, ere long she riz up and went out into the hall, and I mused on what I had so often mused on--how necessary it wuz for everybody to keep on their own forts--sixty years had fled since dancin' wuz her becomin' fort, now a rockin' chair and knittin' work wuz her nateral fort, but she didn't realize it.

Well, the dancin' kep' on, the music pealed out sweet peals, heavenly sweet, heavenly sad, and I wuz carried some distance away from myself and heeded not what wuz passin' by my side. Anon a dance come on that wuz called a German. In some of the figgers they seemed to be givin' presents to each other, and had these presents kinder strung onto 'em, same as savages ornament themselves with beads and things, though these wuz quite pretty lookin' and seemed made up of posies and ribbins and pretty little trinkets. And then the lights wuz lowered and I see a long line of figgers come glidin' in, keepin' step to the music, each one bearin' a pretty little colored lantern. And as I looked on my eyes wuz almost stunted and blinded by a sight I see. Who wuz the couple bringin' up the rear? Wuz it--it could not be--but yet it _wuz my pardner, leadin' in the ancient dame, who wuz footin' it merrily on her old toes, or as merrily as she could, liable to fall down every step with rumatiz and old age. And what did my pardner bear in his hand!

That very day in goin' about the place he found in a store an old tin lantern, a relic of the past someone had left there to be sold. It wuz a lantern that used to be in vogue before Josiah Allen wuz born, a anteek tin lantern with holes in the sides, and one candle power. He had bought it greedily, sayin' it wuz jest like one his grandpa had when he wuz a child.

He had left it in the office, and had lit that lantern and wuz now hangin' along in the rear of that gay procession, with that mummy-like figger, a jest, a byword and a sneer, for laughter riz up round 'em and sneers follered 'em as they swep' onwards. As they come nigh me I riz up almost wildly and ketched holt of my pardner and sez I:

"Desist! Josiah Allen, stop to once!"

The aged female looked at me in surprise and feeble remonstrance, and sez she:

"Can it be that you're jealous?"

(Illustration: _"As they come nigh me I riz up almost wildly and ketched holt of my pardner and sez I: 'Desist! Josiah Allen, stop to once!' The aged female looked at me in surprise." (See page 131)_)

Even in that awful moment my powers of deep reasonin' didn't desert me and I said:

"If I wuz goin' to be jealous I wouldn't be of a animated mummy, or livin' skeleton!" And to my companion I sez, "Josiah Allen, if you don't set down here by me, I will part with you to once before the first Square or Justice I can ketch!"

He see determination on my eye-brow, and as they wuz in the extreme rear of the line, and it didn't break up nothin', I ketched the lantern out of his hand and blowed it out, and put it under his chair as he sot down in it. And then to her I sez with a almost frozen politeness:

"I'd advise you, mom, to soak your feet and go to bed."

She vanished. But to my pardner my voice lost that icy coldness and become het up with indignation, and I sez, "What tempted you, Josiah Allen, to make a perfect fool of yourself--a show for hollow worldlings to sneer at!"

"Fool!" sez he in bitter axents, "you call me that when I wuz strictly actin' out what you've always ordered me to do. You've always told me to be good to females, to put myself out and make a martyr of myself if necessary for their good. But it is the last time!" sez he bitterly, "the very last time I will ever have anything to do with your sect in any way, shape or manner. I get no thanks from you for anything I do, and the worm may jest as well turn first as last."

"Do you pretend to say, Josiah, that you did this to please me?"

"Yes mom, I do! I did it to please you, and to take that woman's part. You hearn her say she wanted to dance, but no man wuz forthcomin'."

"Dance!" sez I, "dance at ninety years old!"

"She hain't much more'n eighty," sez he, "I don't believe. But anyway, you won't git me into such a scrape agin. Your sect may be trod on for all that I care. They may set round till they grow to their chairs and be trompled down into the ground--and I jest as soon tromple on a few myself," sez he recklessly.

Oh dear me! what a mysterious curous trial pardners be more'n half the time! but still I feel that they pay after all.

Let him talk as he would I knew he wuz only carryin' out that fad to try to be genteel and fashionable, and oh how much trouble I've seen, from first to last, with that sperit in my pardner!

Well, we didn't stay down much longer. Faith had stepped out of the long winder behind us and wuz lookin' off onto the glorified river durin' this _contrary temps_, and as I glanced out of the winder to look for her I see the huge form of Mr. Pomper hoverin' in the foreground, and I sez to Josiah, "I think it is time to retire and go to bed."

And Faith bein' ready to go, we ascended to our rooms. As we passed one of the landin' places on the staircase where some chairs wuz placed, I see the ancient dame settin' and sarahuptishously rubbin' her ankle jints. She straightened up and looked kinder coquetishly at my pardner, but he swep' by her as if she wuz so much dirt under his feet. Truly he seemed to be carryin' out his plan of ignorin' my sect and passin' 'em by scornfully. I may see trouble with that sperit in him yet.

The next mornin' Josiah wanted Faith and I to go out with him fishin' and have a fish dinner, a sort of a picnic, on some island on the fishin' grounds. That's quite a fashionable entertainment. They fish till they git real hungry I spoze, and then the boatman puts into some sheltered cove, and the party goes on shore, builds a fire and cooks some of the fish they have got, and make coffee, and with the nice lunch they took from the hotel, they have a splendid dinner I spoze, and take sights of comfort.

Why lots of folks there would go out day after day early in the morning, and stay until night, and then would walk proudly in with a long string of fish, and would lay 'em on the desk in the office, and a admirin' crowd would gather round to look at 'em and wonder how much they weighed. Why wimmen and children would catch fish so big that it is a wonder they could draw 'em into the boat, and I spoze they did have help from the stronger sect (stronger arms I mean). And besides the fish I spoze they ketch happiness and health.

Well, Josiah wuz rampant to go. He said he wanted to surprise the crowd in the hotel and the hull of Well's Island with the fish he would git, and then I spoze the idee of the dinner wuz drawin' him onward. I brung up several arguments, such as the danger, fatigue, etc., but he stood firm. But I had one weepon left that seldom failed, and as a last resort I drawed that weepon, and he fell woonded to once. Sez I, "Do you have any idee, Josiah Allen, how much it is goin' to cost you?"

His linement fell. He hadn't thought on't. I see him silently draw a boatman into a corner and interview him, and I hearn no more about a fishin' picnic.

The very evenin' after this, Fate and Mr. Pomper gin me a chance to carry out the plan I'd laid out heretofore. Josiah had stepped over to the post office, and Faith had walked over with him at my request, for she had a headache, and I told him to walk down to the wharf with her and see if the cool air wouldn't do her good. So she had put a black lace scarf over her pretty golden hair and went off with him.

Well, there wuz big doin's at the Tabernacle that night, and it wuz a off night for music, and I found the parlor nearly deserted when I walked in and sot down in my accustomed easy chair. And no sooner had I sot down seemin'ly than Mr. Pomper's massive form emerged onto the seen, and he drawed up a chair and sot down by my side.

Agreably to the plans I had laid down in my mind, I did not object to the move. But though a picture of calmness on the outside, inwardly I wuz callin' almost wildly on my powers of memory, tryin' to think jest what Malviny had done, one of the immortal Children of the Abbey, when Lord Mortimer approached her with his onlawful suit, and I tried also to recall what the Mountain Mourner had done in like circumstances, but before I had half done interviewin' them heroines in sperit my mind wuz recalled into the onwelcome present by Mr. Pomper's voice in my left ear:

"I asked you, Josiah Allen's wife," sez he, "to listen to me, for I felt that you wuz the most proper person for me to state my feelings to. Since you and your party have entered this house," sez he, "I have had a great conflict goin' on between my mind and my heart."

"Ah indeed! have you?" sez I, liftin' my nose at a angle of from forty to fifty degrees.

"Yes," sez he, "I have had a great struggle between my heart and my common sense, and in the battle that ensued, Common Sense and Reason has had to retire into the background, and Heart has triumphed."

"It is a great pity!" sez I, "Common Sense and Reason had much better come out ahead," and agin I lifted my nose to its extremest limit, and looked swords and prunin' knives at him.

"That is just what most folks would say, I am aware, but listen to my story before you judge. I must reveal to you the state of my heart and affections!"

How sure it is that when a kag is tapped the contents will run out no matter whether it is wine or water. At them bold words accompanied by the ardent rollin' of that lone orb, my well-laid plans all left my mind, nothin' wuz left but pure principle and devotion and loyalty to my pardner. The full kag emptied its contents over his nefarious purposes, and I bust out almost onbeknown to me and sez:

"It is no use; it is vain, it is worse than vain! it is wicked!"

"What," sez he, "is she engaged to another?"

"Who?" sez I, turnin' like lightnin' and facin' him.

"Why, Miss Smith, your niece or grand-child who is with you. That beauchious creature!" sez he.

"Faithful Smith!" sez I faintly, "is she the one you are talkin' about?"

"Yes," sez he, "your grand-daughter, is she not?"

"My grand-daughter!" sez I in deep contempt, "she is my own cousin on my own side."

"I thought," sez he, "from her looks and yours that she might be your grand-child, but that is of no moment," sez he.

"It is of moment!" sez I, "she is uncle Leander Smith's own child, and though she is a few years younger than I be, it has always been said and thought all over Jonesville and Loontown that I hold my age to a remarkable extent. And though I think my eyes of Faith I won't thank you or anyone else for callin' her my grand-child!"

"But yet," sez he, "that's a tender, sweet relationship. What I want to say to you is in relation to Miss Smith, she looks sad but beauchious. I like her looks. You may have noticed that I have occasionally glanced in the direction of your party."

"Yes," sez I, "Heaven knows I have noticed it!"

"Yes," sez he, "as I have looked upon her face from day to day a conflict has been wagin' in my heart, and though you may be surprised at the result (for I am very wealthy) I have decided to make her glad and joyous once more."

He paused, as if for a reply, and I sez, "How did you mean to tackle the job?"

"By makin' her my wife," sez he.

The mystery wuz all explained, my dignity and my beloved pardner's safety all assured. I felt a feeling of infinite relief, and yet I felt like a fool, and I blamed him severely for this ridiculous _contrary temps that had occurred in my mind.

"Of course," sez he, "it is a great rise for her, I have hearn that she hain't worth much, as I count wealth, and as we are speakin' in confidence, I will say that there is a rich widder here who has hopes of me, and mebby I've gin her some encouragement, kinder accidental, as you may say, but I ort to know better. Widdowers can't be too careful; they do great harm, let 'em be as careful as possible. They tromple right and left over wimmen's hearts do the best they can. But since I have seen Miss Smith and witnessed her sad face I have done a sight of thinkin'. Here the case lays, the widder is strong, she can stand trouble better. The widder is happy, for she has got that which will make any woman happy--health, wealth, and property. And I've been turnin' it over in my mind that mebby Duty is drawin' me away from the widder and towards the maid. It hain't because the widder is homely as the old Harry that influences me, no not at all. But the thought of lightenin' the burden of the sad and down hearted, makin' the mournful eyes dance with ecstasy, and the skrinkin' form bound with joy like--like--the boundin' row on the hill tops. Now as the case stands marry I will and must. My wife has already been lost for a period of three months lackin' three weeks. She sweetly passed away murmurin', 'I am glad to go.'"

"No wonder at that!" I sez, "no wonder!"

"Yes, she wuz a Christian and she passed sweetly up into the Hevings, thank the Lord!" sez he lookin' acrost onto Faith's sweet face, for she had come back and set down acrost the room.

"She is better off, I hain't a doubt on't!" sez I fervently.

"I don't know about that. I did well by her, and she felt as well as myself, that to be my wife wuz a fate not often gin to mortal wimmen."

"That is so!" sez I fervently, "that is so!"

"Yes she wuz proud and happy durin' her life. I did everything for her. I killed a chicken durin' her last sickness onasked, jest to surprise her with soup. She lived proud and happy and died happy."

"I hain't a doubt that she died happy."

"No," sez he, "and now I must make a choice of her successor. It is a hard job to do," sez he.

"No doubt on't," sez I, "no doubt on't!"

"Yes, whatever woman I choose, some must be left, pinin' on their stems, to speak poetically. I can't marry every woman, that's plain to be seen."

"Yes, thank Heaven! that's a settled thing," sez I lookin' longin'ly at my pardner, who wuz leanin' aginst the door and conversin' with the man of the house on his chosen theme, for anon or oftener I hearn the words--Coney Island! Dreamland--Luny Park, etc., etc.

"No, and my choice made, I want it done as speedily as possible, for my late lamented left as a slight token of her love thirteen children of all ages, rangin' from six months up to twelve years, two pairs of triplets, two ditto of twins, and three singles.

"My wealth lays in land mostly. I never believed in idle luxuries, only comfort, solid comfort, and my wife will have a luxurious home of a story and a half upright, and a linter, groceries and necessaries all provided, and all she will have to do will be the housework and gently train and care for the minds and bodies of the little ones, with some help from the oldest set of triplets, and make my home agin an oasis of joy, a Eden below. Oh! how happy she will be!" sez he, "Nestlin' down like a wanderin' dove in the safety and peace and pride of married life. When can I see Miss Smith?" sez he. "Or will you tell her in advance of her good fortune?"

(Illustration: "_'No,' sez Mr. Pomper, 'I want it done as speedily as possible, fer my late lamented left me thirteen children, two pairs of triplets, two ditto of twins, and three singles.'_" (_See page 143_))

"No indeed!" sez I, "I make no matches nor break none. You will have to do your own errents."

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