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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSamantha At The St. Louis Exposition - Chapter 11
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Samantha At The St. Louis Exposition - Chapter 11 Post by :oukhanova Category :Long Stories Author :Marietta Holley Date :May 2012 Read :3155

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Samantha At The St. Louis Exposition - Chapter 11

CHAPTER XI

We entered Fair Japan through a big gateway a hundred feet high. It wuz called the Temple of Kiko, it wuz all covered with carvin' and gold ornaments. And they say it couldn't be made now of the same materials for a million dollars. It would been magnificent lookin' if it hadn't been for what looked like serpents wreathin' up the pillars in front. I hate snakes! and they're the last ornaments I would ever sculp over my front door.

Blandina said they wuz dragons, and mebby they wuz. 'Tennyrate they wuz fastened to the pillars and didn't offer to hurt us. We got quite a good meal, but queer, in a tea-house on the borders of the lake. They had the best tea I ever drinked. I asked 'em how long they steeped it, and how much they put in for a drawin', but they bein' ignorant didn't seem to understand me. But I enjoyed bein' there, for whilst our inner men and wimmen wuz bein' refreshed our minds wuz enriched by this real picture of life in Japan, for in there it is jest as if we had traveled thousands of milds and wuz sot down in the real Japan.

After the edge of Josiah's hunger wuz squenched he begun to look about him and praise up the looks of the Geisha girls that wuz dancin' or rather posterin' in their pretty modest way, and some on 'em playin' on queer lookin' instruments that looked some like my carpet sweeper.

These girl musicians wuz settin' on the floor dressed in what seemed to be gay colored night gowns, and they looked well enough, kinder innocent and modest lookin'. But I told him it wuzn't becomin' in a old man and a professor to be so enthusiastick over young girls dancin' and playin'.

And he sez, "Oh, well, fetch on your girl blinders and I'll put 'em on. But till you git 'em for me and harness me up in 'em I've got to look round some."

But I told him there wuz enough for him to see besides girls and there wuz. For it beats all what long strides the Japans have made in every branch of education and culture. If they keep on in the next century as they have in this some of the so-called advanced nations will have to take a back seat and let this little brown, polite people stand to the head. But then they have been cultured for hundreds of years, though lots of folks don't seem to know it.

But I am sorry to say it wuzn't the high art and culture of Japan that Josiah wuz most interested in, but the queer things, such as the strange stunted trees trained into forms of men and animals hundreds of years old and no higher than a common chair, and lots of 'em not so high. And there wuz roosters with tails twenty-five feet long.

Josiah said he wuz bound to git an egg and see if he could hatch one.

And I sez, "Where would it roost? It's tail is long agin as the hen house is high."

Well, he said in the summer it could roost on top of the barn with its tail kinder hangin' down and out over the smoke house.

But it wuzn't a minute before his eyes wuz took up with some images, some big ones covered with the most exquisite carvin', down to them so small, if you'll believe it, they wuz carved out of a single kernel of rice. And there wuz gold fish and a hundred other kinds of fishes, and you see there the common houses of the people and people livin' in them jest as they do in their own country, and a royal palace, arched bridges, lanterns hangin' everywhere, pagodas, temples, lagoons with ornamental boats, cascades, etc. All made a pretty picture, though curious.

Then in Asakusa, a native village of Japan, is forty stores and there you see the most beautiful display of rugs, carved ivory and wood, porcelain, jewels, fans, paintings, etc., and the workmen busy making 'em right before your eyes. And in the narrer streets jugglers, acrobats, fortune tellers are giving their mysterious performances. There are bands of music, jinrikishaws with men harnessed up in 'em, and you can ride in 'em if so inclined.

There wuz quite a number of places on the Pike that we passed that I kinder wanted to see, but Josiah wuzn't willin' to pay out too much money, and what interested me most wuz the foreign countries that I had never had a chance to see, they havin' the misfortune to be so fur from Jonesville. But when we got to the Chinese Village, it had such a magnificent and showy front that Josiah never made an objection to goin' inside.

I wuz dretful glad to go there, you know it is nater to want to do what you can't. And China has been so determined to keep Josiah and I and the world out of her empire, I wuz glad enough to git in, and wuz real interested lookin' at them queer yeller pig-tailed little creeters with dresses on, and their funny little houses.

There wuz a big Chinese theatre, and a Joss house where they worship Joss, whoever he or she may be, I wanted to have their religion explained to me, there wuz a guide there to do it.

But Josiah said that as a deacon he wouldn't countenance it, for I might be led into idolatry. And when I argued with him he whispered to me:

"Samantha, if you insist on hangin' round their meetin' house here any longer I shall say out loud, 'By Joss!'"

At that fearful threat I started on, I wouldn't let him demean himself before the heathen.

You can see here in this country, as in Japan, native workers plyin' their different trades, mechanics, painters, jewelers, etc., etc. Silk weavers usin' the same old, onhandy looms they used centuries ago, ivory carvers fashionin' elephants and other animals, and all on 'em tryin' to sell to us in their high-pitched voices.

I had quite a number of emotions here in China a musin' on the oldness and strangeness of their civilization, and wonderin' if it would ever be merged into a newer, fresher life.

Blandina didn't share my lofty emotions, she simpered some and said, "I believe they would make lovely husbands if their eyes wuz sot in straighter and they dressed different."

And I sez, "I wouldn't admire 'em in that capacity, but after all they would be equinomical husbands. If you had a calico dress kinder wore off round the bottom you could cut it off and make 'em wear it, men's clothes are so expensive it would be quite a savin'. And you could pass him off for the hired girl if strangers come onexpected, though that is sunthin' I wouldn't approve on, fur from it, a hauty sperit goes before a fall, as I told Josiah once when he got on a new kind of collar that held his head up so high he fell over the wood-box."

But to resoom. The Chinese are curious lookin', but equinomical, they can live on a few grains of rice a day, and America owes 'em a debt of gratitude anyway for tunnelin' her Rocky Mountains, buildin' her big railroads and diggin' ditches to water the land and make it beautiful that they're shet out of.

Blandina sez to me as we wended our way out, "No man ort to be turned back out of this country." She said the Chinee wuz good, industrious, equinomical and peaceable.

And I sez, "Yes, they work well and don't go round like some other foreigners with a chip on their shoulder. But," sez I, "Blandina, I will not tell the nation what to do in this matter; there is so much to be said on both sides it must not depend on me to settle it, and they needn't ask me to."

I hadn't more than said these words as we wuz strollin' along when who should we meet but Royal and Rosy Nelson. I knowed they wuz to be married the very day after we left for St. Louis. We wuz invited but couldn't go, our plans bein' all laid and tickets bought, but I sent 'em a handsome present, for I wuz highly tickled with the match.

Truly no rose ever looked sweeter hangin' on its bough than did Rosy Nelson hangin' onto the arm of her devoted consort, and he I thought wuz well named, so royal and proud wuz his mean as he introduced his wife.

I kissed her warmly right there in China and promised to make her a all day's visit soon as I got home, I'm lottin' on't.

We talked a little about past troubles caused by Jabezeses and inventions, and the glories of the Fair, and then they strolled off happy as two turkle doves, not needin' or desirin' any other company than their own, and showin' it plain by their actions. Josiah was put out about it for he wanted to find out about how things wuz to home, bein' highly tickled to meet a male Jonesvillian.

Blandina sez as they walked away, bound up in each other and both on 'em wropped up in the glowin' mantilly of youth and joy: "Oh, happy, happy wedded souls! how I envy you."

And Josiah sez in a fraxious axent, "How queer it is that two such smart young folks can look and act so spooney, but thank heaven! it won't last. It won't be long before Royal will be willin' to pass the time o' day with a Jonesvillian."

I told him there wuz nothin' so beautiful as love. "No, nor nothin' that makes folk act so like pesky fools, they don't act as though they knew putty."

I hated such oncongenial idees. But couldn't deny they wuz spooney, for they wuz, not a small teaspoon but a big silver dinner spoon, and I believe it will last. Not the outward form of the spoon, oh, no, that would be too wearisome to the world and themselves, but the precious metal that forms it. Love is the greatest thing in the world.

Blandina had always lived in a back place and had never heard a graphophone, so bein' kinder tired, and bein' nigh a place where they had one, we went in at her request and sot for quite a spell.

And we heard voices and songs gay and sad, marches and melodies, loftiest oratory, maddest mirth and profoundest feeling all comin' out of a little square box, what a idee!

What a man that Edison is. It seems always like watchin' the wonderful onseen secrets of nater, like seein' the mortal made immortal to think that voices we've loved and mourned as they wuz hushed in the last stillness can sound out agin, breakin' our hearts with the same old echoes, the same old sweetness of the voice we loved and lost, talkin' in mortal words and axents to us when they've long, long ago learnt the immortal language, beheld the immortal seens.

Why Cleopatra's voice might have been stored up as she made love to Antony, or the voice of the relation on her own side, old Mr. Pharo himself orderin' the Hebrews to git out of his premises, and their back talk about plaguin' him till he wuz willin' they should go.

Why even Eve scoldin' Adam about slackness in gittin' kindlin' wood or her pardner complainin' about her wastefulness and extravagance in usin' so many fig leaves for her fall suit. Oh, how nateral, how nateral that would sound to wimmen.

Or old Noah's voice as he stood in the Ark door bagonin and shoutin' to the animals to walk in male and female. Or his voice kinder soothin' and patronizin' tellin' the female dove to go out and shirk round on the water and see if it wuz safe for the males in the party to go out. Oh, how nateral that would sound to wimmen, soundin' out through the centuries.

And on and on down the long years, Job's voice complainin' of the bitter comfort of his friend's familiar talk. He'd stood losin' family and fortune and had stood biles but the seven days' visitation and the "I told-you-sos" and the advice of well wishers wuz too much for him.

And Solomon's talk to Miss Sheba and hem to him. And Daniel's talk by the deep waters, and mebby the Great Voice that said to him:

"Understand!"

And brave Queen Esther's voice facin' her enemies and a drunken king, and sweet Ruth's, and Paul's incomparable words, and St. John's. Or the lofty voices of the Patriot fathers as they nobly shrieked for freedom as they threw their pardner's tea overboard, while they hung onto their whiskey and tobacco that wuz taxed twice as high.

Oh, how their impassioned cries for liberty, and how they would willin'ly sacrifice their wives favorite beveridge ruther than to yield to the tyrant. How nateral, how nateral them noble yells would sound to their descendant females, the Daughters of the Revolution, and all the rest. What would it be for us all to hear them axents, and it could have been done if Edison had been born sooner and that little box had been round.

I didn't wonder that Blandina wuz enthused, it is enough to enthuse anybody that never has hearn it, she said she laid out to go every day three or four times a day and stay jest as long as she could.

One of the most remarkable sights we see on the Pike wuz Jim Key, a horse that is valued at a hundred thousand dollars, who travels in his own private car. A horse that can read and write, spell, understand mathematics, go to the post office, git mail from any box, give chapter and verse of Bible text where the horse is mentioned, uses the telephone, and is so intelligent you expect him to break out in oratory any time.

Josiah wuz spell bound here, I could hardly tear him away. And sez he:

"The first thing I do when I go home will be to send the colt to the deestrick school."

I told him the teacher wouldn't want him whinnerin' round amongst her scholars, and mebby gallopin' and snortin' round the schoolroom.

But he wuz as firm as adamant in his idee. And Id'no what I shall do about it. But spoze the trustees will have to head him off.

Josiah wanted to go and see the Fire Fighters, he said he thought he could git some idees to tell the brethren that wuz in the fire company, and Blandina and I wanted to see the Esquimeaux Village. We went on, Josiah promisin' to meet us there. And as we went I said:

"I've sung for years about Greenland's icy mountains, but never spozed I should set my eyes on 'em." For there towerin' up to the skies wuz immense ice mountains peaked and desolate lookin', and inside it looked worse yet. A bare snowy place broken by cold lookin' water dotted with ice islands and surrounded by tall ice peaks. I don't spoze it wuz real ice and snow, but looked like it.

And there wuz reindeers hitched to sleds, and the low round huts of the natives lookin' jest like the pictures in our old Gography. And there wuz some white bears natural as life, and dog teams haulin' sledges, toiling up the steep cliffs hitched tantrum. The natives wuz queer lookin' little creeters, dark complexioned, dressed in furs and thick costooms. But little Nancy Columbus born at the World's Fair, Chicago, wuz cute as she could be.

There wuz a big street show at the other end of the Pike and this place wuz most deserted by sight-seers, and Blandina and I sot down on a bench by the side of one of these little housen to rest. As we did so we hearn the voice of oratory comin' from the other side, where some Esquimeaux seemed to be gathered with open mouths and wonderin' linements. The orator seemed to be finishin' his address in words as follers:

"Let us not permit ourselves to be spiritually incapacitated by quandaries regarding the control of earthly matter. Let us circumnavigate the ethereal realms of unexplored ether, quander the unquanderable until the everlastin' stupendiousness of the whyness of the what shall dawn on the enraptured vision, and precipitate the effulgent tissues of ethereal matter in one glorious pulchritude of transcendentalism."

As the speaker paused for needed breath Blandina clasped her hands and sithed out, "Oh, what glorious eloquence! I never hearn anything like it!"

And I sez, "I never did but once, I know that voice, though I hain't hearn it for twenty years; that is Prof. Aspire Todd." And I thought to myself, he is practicin' over a speech, and thought the Esquimeaux would stand it better than tribes less humble and good natered. And so it turned out; he hoped he would be invited to speak at a scientific meetin' to take place in Festival Hall in a day or two, and bein' to the Inside Inn he'd tried to orate his speech in his own room, but it is built so shammy you can hear things from one end to the other, and they threatened him with horse whippin' on one side and lynchin' on the other, and bein' drove to it he tried it on the Esquimeauxs. They stood it pretty well, though I noticed one or two on 'em weepin' bitterly, not knowin' what ailed 'em.

Well, to resoom backward, I sez to Blandina, "I hearn Aspire Todd at a Fourth of July celebration in Josiah's sugar bush."

"Oh," sez Blandina, claspin' her hands, "would it be possible for you to introduce me to that noble being?"

Sez I, "You like his talk then?"

"Oh, yes!" sez she, shutting her eyes and clasping her hands. "His matchless eloquence is beyond praise."

"So 'tis," sez I, "way beyond my praise. But I can introduce you if you want me to; he visited me that time he wuz in Jonesville and stayed to supper." So as he come round the corner of the buildin' follered by some bewildered lookin' natives I put out my hand and sez, "I don't know as you know me, Professor Aspire Todd, but you visited me in Jonesville. I am Josiah Allen's wife."

He grasped my hand almost warmly and sez, "Indeed my memory retroacts readily on that delightsome remembrance."

And then I introduced Blandina, knowin' I wuz makin' her perfectly happy by so doin'. He'd growed old considerable, which I didn't blame him for and didn't see as he could help it, twenty years havin' gone by. His hair, which wuz still long and hung down over his turn-down collar, wuz streaked with gray. But he still had the same kind of a curious, sentimental, high-flown look to him.

I didn't admire his looks, but Blandina's manners to him wuz worshipful, and it seemed to agree with him first rate, he seemed really to take to her. And as he asked to accompany and go with us to the next exhibit, I fell in with it, and when my pardner come walked ahead with him while Professor Todd follered with a perfectly blissful Blandina, and before they parted he arranged a rondevoo next day with Blandina.

I wuz beat out when I got home and Miss Huff sent Aunt Pheeny up to my room with a glass of hot lemonade and some crackers, supper not bein' quite ready owin' to shiftless works in the kitchen. Molly wuz in my room also sweet as a June rosy. Aunt Tryphena wuz quiverin' with excitement, and she sez, "Lazy, good for nothin' things! but it hain't what they _do that I mind but it is their iggorance I despise."

Sez Molly, "If they are ignorant you ought to overlook it, Aunt Pheeny."

"Overlook it!" sez she, turnin' an' facin' us with her hands on her portly hips. "I hain't used to no such trash. When anybody has lived with the highest nobility they can't stomach such low down niggers. Why, I used to have 'em kneelin' at my feet, four or five at a time, askin' what I'd have for dinner. And that poor, iggorent, low-down cook in the kitchen told me jest now I lied about Prince Arthur, that there never wuz such a prince, and I sez to her, 'How any black nigger can stand makin' bakin' powder biscuit and tell such lies is a mystery to me.'"

"Well, you know Princes are not common in this country," sez I.

She drew herself up more hautily, "Such a Prince as that hain't common in no country! Why he's so handsome and good the very birds in the trees will stop singin' to listen to his talk, and the grass turn brighter green where he's stepped on it, and the May-flowers peek up and blush with happiness if he looks at 'em."

"How come you to leave him, Aunt Pheeny, if he wuz so perfect?"

"I tole you before," sez she with dignity, "that when he went off to school I wuzn't in no ways bound to stay with ole Miss. She wuz jealous, you know, jealous of me. Prince Arthur made more of me, we used to sing together, you know I've sung in Concorts and Operations, been a star in 'em. Ole Miss couldn't sing no more than a green frog. And he always said when he got married I wuz to live with him, that nachully sot up his Ma's back, and I santered off one day, never tole her I wuz goin', but jest lifted up my train, I wore long pink and blue satin dresses then, and I jest santered out the house over to Californy and Asia and so on to Chicago, and then hired out to Miss Dotie's ma. And here I is!" sez she firmly, and took up the empty tray and departed.

She wuz a good singer, her voice full of the sweetness and heart searchin' pathos of her race. And her wild flights of imagination never hurt anyone but herself.

Well, after supper, which they called dinner, I felt considerable better. Josiah stayed down in the parlor talkin' to Grandpa Huff and Billy, and Molly come up in my room agin and sot with me, whilst twilight let down her soft gray mantilly round us and pinned it to the earth with silver stars (metafor).

I always take it as a great compliment when folks confide the deepest secrets of their heart to me. And Id'no why it is, but they most always do; I mean them that I take to nachully. Sometimes I've felt first rate by it and spozed it wuz because I had such a noble riz up look to my face. But Josiah sez it is because I have such a soft look that folks think they can pour their griefs into me and they will sink in, some like water into cotton battin, and they can lose sight of their sorrows for a spell and relieve 'em some. Well, Id'no which it is, but 'tennyrate as Molly sot there with me lookin' as wan and pale as a white rose on a cold November evenin' she told me the whole story, hid from her own folks but revealed unto a Samantha.

Josiah may say what he's a mind to, but I believe it is the natural nobility of my linement that drawed it from her. While she wuz away visitin' this school chum in a southern city she met a young chap handsome as Appolyan, I knew from what she said, and so talented and gifted, I could see in a minute they had fell in love voylently from the very first time they met, and day by day the attraction growed till they wuz completely wropped up in each other. She said he seemed to worship her.

But strange, strange thing! with all the love he showed her, in every word and act, he left her without a word, only a sort of a wild note saying he could not endure the wretchedness of seeing a heaven so near that he could not hope to enter, and after that silence, deep, dark and onbroken silence and despair. "And my heart is broken!" sez she, as she laid her pretty head in my lap sobbin' out, "What shall I do! Oh, what shall I do!"

She wep' and cried and cried and wep', and I wep' with her, my snowy handkerchief held in one hand, the other hand tenderly caressin' the bowed head in my lap. But as she said the word Silence it brung up sunthin' I had read that very day, and I sez:

"Dear, did you ever hear of enterin' into the Silence?"

"Yes," sez Molly, liftin' her tear wet, sweet face, "I have a friend who enters into the Silence for hours, and she says that everything she greatly desires and asks for at that time, is given her. She calls it the New Thought."

"And I call it the Old Thought, Molly, older than the creation of man. And what they call Entering into the Silence, I call Waiting on the Lord. And what I call prayer, they, from what I read, most probable call waking up the solar plexus, whatever that may be. But it don't make much difference what a thing is called, the name is but a pale shadow compared to the reality. Disciples of the New Thought, Christian Scientists, Healers, Spiritualists, etc., are, I believe, reaching out and feeling for the Light as posies growin' in a dark suller send out little pale shoots huntin' for the sunlight. And so I feel kinder soft and meller towards the hull caboodle on 'em though I can't foller all their beliefs.

"For I, as a member of the M.E. meetin' house, call this great beneficient over-rulin' Power that sot the world spinnin' on its axletrees and holds it up, lest it dashes aginst the planets, and directs the flight of the tiny bird fleeing before the snows; this Mighty Force that controls us from the cradle to the grave, but which we cannot see no more than we can see His servants, the cold and wind that freezes us or the warmth and love that blesses us. This Power, that whether we scoff or pray, holds us all in the hollow of His mighty hand, I call God the Father, Son and Holy Guest, and believe it once took mortal shape and dwelt with humanity to uplift and bless it. And that love, that torture, crucifixion and death could not slay still yearns over this sad old world, still as the comforting Guest makes its home in human hearts that love and trust."

Molly sot still with her pretty head leaning aginst me and I went on, "In the story of His life and death, that volume that holds the wisdom of the old and ripened glory of the new, that holy book sez, 'He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high shall abide under shadow of the Almighty.'

"What a place to abide in, Molly, the shadow of the All Loving, the All Mighty one, a shadow that casts glowing light instead of darkness like our earthly shadows, a pure white light in which, lookin' through the eye-glass of faith we can read the meanin' of all the sorrows and perplexities and troubles he permits us to endure, and find every word on 'em gilt edged with glory.

"Spiritualists, Christian Healers, etc., may name this what they will. Disciples of the New Thought may call it the Silence, but I shall keep right on callin' it the Secret Place of the Most High. And He who inhabits that sacred place has promised that if you reverently and obediently enter and dwell therein and trust in Him, He will give you the desire of your heart.

"So all you've got to do, Molly, is to do as he tells you to, obey and trust Him jest as the child trusts his pa, and asks him for what he wants most, you must ask Him for the desire of your heart, and if it is best for you, dear, He will bring it to pass."

"Do you think so?" sez she, brightenin' up more'n considerable.

"No, I don't think so. I _know it."

Well, them consolin' words, for thought is a _real thing_, and I jest wropped her round with my tenderness and compassion, I guess they comforted her some, 'tennyrate she promised me sweetly that she would obey and trust, and I felt considerable better about her.

I wuz sorry for her as sorry as I could be, but I had a strong feelin' inside of my heart (mebby some wise, sweet angel whispered it to me) that everything would come out right in the end, and Molly would git the desire of her heart.

She's belonged to the meetin' house for years. But sometimes members git some shock that jars 'em and sends 'em out of the narrer road for quite a spell and they git kinder lost gropin' through the dark shadders of earthly disappointment and sorrow. Nothin' but the light that streams down from above can pierce them glooms, and I knowed by the sweet light that lit up Molly's linement that her face wuz turned in the right direction and she wouldn't look sideways, behind or before, but would seek for light and help from above.

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CHAPTER XIIWell, for the next week we had a busy time, goin' to the Fair most every day, sometimes all together, but not stayin' together long, for most always we'd meet Professor Todd somewhere and he and Blandina would pair off together (I jest as willin' as anybody ever wuz). Molly had a young schoolmate who lived in St. Louis, and sometimes they would spend the day together at some reception or other. But most of the time Josiah and I paid our two attentions to the Fair stiddy, a travelin' about and seein' all we could. And one mornin' Josiah
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CHAPTER XWest of the forestry buildin' growin' right out of the ground is a immense map of the United States covering five acres of ground, gravel walks mark the State and coast lines, and each State is sot out in its own native flowers. There it wuz, you could look right down onto it jest like a map, from the rocky shores of Maine down to Florida. Josiah wuz simply infatuated with the sight and I myself thought it wuz a great idee and I sez: "Josiah, this is a plan worthy of Uncle Sam to immortalize what is dearest to
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