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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSamantha At The St. Louis Exposition - Chapter 4
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Samantha At The St. Louis Exposition - Chapter 4 Post by :oukhanova Category :Long Stories Author :Marietta Holley Date :May 2012 Read :1410

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Samantha At The St. Louis Exposition - Chapter 4

CHAPTER IV

I felt turrible. What wuz I to do to do right? How wuz I to handle this enormous prescription, St. Louis Exposition, and give it in proper doses to the beloved patient? I knowed the size of the mind I had to deal with, I knowed the size of the medicine I wuz told to deal out to that mind.

Could it stand the strain? Could that small citadel stand a assault of such magnitude without crumplin' and crumblin' right down? Dast I venter? And then agin dast I disobey the imperative advice of Doctor Bombus? So I wuz tossted to and fro like the waves of the sea.

But one thing I wuz determined on, I wouldn't start alone with him in the state he wuz in, for if he should lose his mind in that immense place how could I find it with no one to help me? It would be worse than lookin' for a cambric needle in a hay-mow.

I knew how the shafts of calumny and envy might be aimed at me by his relations, so I would take along one on his side to share my responsibility, so if he did lose his mind and couldn't find it agin, they couldn't find fault with me and say I hadn't done my best. So I proposed that his niece, Blandina Teeter, should go with us, she is well off and a willin' creeter.

Josiah didn't seem to care either way, but languidly remarked that if he did go he wanted a sky blue neck-tie. That wuz the first sign of interest he had took in anything, and I hailed it as a good omen but got the tie as dark a blue as I dast.

Blandina Teeter, formerly Allen, is a widder with a tall spindlin' figger pale complected, with big light blue eyes that ruther stand out of her head, and a tall peaked forehead with light hair combed down smooth on both sides with scalops made in it by hand. She is good natered to a fault, you know you can kill yourself on milk porridge, and though folks don't philosophize on it you can be too good to be comfortable.

She is a natural lover of mankind, nothin' light in it, jest a deep meetin' house love. She wuz born that way onbeknown to her I spoze, and so I d'no as I ort to blame her for her soft ways. I hadn't seen her for some years and had kinder forgot how soft and squshy she wuz in her nater, and I declare for't when I got her and Josiah both together, had marshaled my forces, as you may say before my mind's review, I didn't know how I wuz goin' to git 'em to St. Louis and back agin hull. It did seem to me that if I got through all right with Josiah, she wuz that soft and meller she would spile on my hands anyway.

But she wuz the only one on his side available in the position of second chaperone to Josiah and so I took my chances.

She had been a widder some years; Teeter had used her shameful, spent her property and throwed her round considerable, but still she kep' up her perennial love and passionate adoration of man. And thinkses I it will work well anyway with her Uncle Josiah, for lovin' all mankind as she did from infancy to age, I knowed that bein' the only male in the party she would keep her eye on him.

Blandina wuz more than willin' when I explained matters to her. She said she felt that men wuz such precious creeters that too much care could not be took of 'em, and that it would give her the greatest pleasure to surround her Uncle Josiah with all the care that a most devoted affection could dictate.

She's an awful clever critter, it hain't good nater that she lacks. But there is sunthin' wantin' in her, I believe it is common sense.

But we sot out, I with considerable misgivin' at heart, but calm and cool on the outside, clad as I wuz in dignity and a gray braize delaine dress and a bunnet of the same color, I also wore my costly cameo pin fastened in my linen collar. Some gray lisle thread gloves and a rich Paisley shawl completed my _toot a sembly_.

Blandina had on a soft yellerish dress, I guess it wuz lawn it looked most as soft as she did, and a hat that kinder drooped 'round her face trimmed with crushed strawberry roses. She also wore some open-work mitts, and a lace long shawl that had been her ma's.

Josiah had on his pepper and salt costoom, and in my partial eyes he wuz beautiful, but, oh, so sad, so deprested. Would the gloom ever be lifted from his beloved liniment? So my heart questioned itself as we helped ourselves out of the Democrat, Ury tendin' to the trunks.

It wuz a Monday mornin', for I felt that I wanted to tackle this job jest as I would a three weeks' washin', the first day of the week. Ury shook our hands firmly but sadly, promisin' to the last to see to things and not let the cows into the garden, and keep the buttery door shet up nights, for though the cat is not a habitual snooper, yet she will sometimes snoop.

The car wuz crowded, mebby folks had hearn of our goin' and wanted to ride a spell with us. 'Tennyrate Josiah and I had to be separated at the outset of our journey, he settin' with a man acrost the aisle; Blandina got a seat with an aged gentleman while I sot down with a pale complected woman in deep mournin'. Or at least what mournin' she had wuz deep. She wore a thick crape veil and black cotton gloves. But her dress wuz chocklate delaine. The mournin' wuz borryed, she told me most as soon as I sot down.

She wuz on the way to the funeral of her father. He had lived with her, but died while he wuz on a visit to her sister. She wuz feelin' dretful and said she didn't know what she would do without him; she took on real bad, and I sez, "Yes, losin' a pa is an awful loss."

"Yes," sez she, "pa wuz a dretful good man. I don't see what we're goin' to do without him; we shall miss him so makin' line fences. He knew all about where they ort to stand."

I wuz kinder took back. But then come to think it over I see it wuz better to be missed in line fences than not at all. She got out at the next station, and my own pardner took the vacant seat by my side, and on and on we wuz whirled from the peaceful shores of Jonesville to the pleasures and dangers of the great city.

As I said, I wanted to get to St. Louis the first of the week, but Josiah took it into his head that he wanted to visit his nephew, Orange Allen, who lives in the Ohio, and under the circumstances it wuz not for me to cross him in anything that wuz more or less reasonable. So we stopped there and had a good visit. He keeps a dairy farm and owns forty cows besides a wife and three young children; he is doing well. His pa havin' a horticultural and floral turn of mind, named his two boys Lemon and Orange. His girls are Lily, Rose and Violet. Lily is dark complected and so fat that she looks like a pillar with a string tied in the middle, and Rose and Violet are as humbly as they make but respectable. Folks ort to be more cautious in namin' children, but they're all married quite well, and we had a good visit with 'em, stayin' most of the time at Orange's.

And I see with joy that the shadder on my pardner's face lifted quite a little durin' our stay there, but of course this belated us and we didn't git to St. Louis till Saturday late in the afternoon. St. Louis is a big sizeable place. Mr. Laclede cut the tree for the first log-house in the forest where St. Louis now stands in 1764. America had several cities all started at that time, but St. Louis jest put in and growed, and now it is the fourth city in the United States. It's an awful worker, why it produces more in its factories than is produced by the hull of thirty-seven States, jest think on't! And it has thirty-two million folks to buy the things it produces. Twenty-seven railways run into it; the city rules itself and leads the world in many manufactures. They say it is the richest community in the world, and I couldn't dispute it, for they seemed jest rollin' in riches all the while I wuz there; wuzn't put to it for a thing so fur as I could see.

It is noted for its charities; it has the biggest Sunday-school in the world, two thousand three hundred and forty-four children in one school--jest think on't! Its Union railroad station is the finest in the Universe, so they say, and jest the buildin' covers twenty acres. And it has the greatest bridge over the greatest river in the world.

But everything has its drawbacks, the water there hain't like Jonesville water; I don't say it to twit 'em, but it is a solemn truth, the water is riley, they can't dispute it. I'd love to hand 'em out a pailful now and then from our well, and would if I had the chance--how they would enjoy it.

Blandina and I wanted to go to once to Miss Huff's, a woman we used to know in Jonesville who keeps a small boardin' house.

But Josiah, who had seen pictures on't, wanted to go to the Inside Inn. He said they'd advertised cheap rooms, it would have a stylish sound to tell on't in Jonesville and it would be so handy and equinomical for we wouldn't have to pay entrance fees. So to please him, which wuz the main effort of us two chaperones, we went there. We wuz tired to death that night anyway, and wanted a quiet haven and wanted it to once, for truly when Josiah pinted out the elegant buildin's that we passed I looked coldly on 'em, and said that there wuzn't one that looked so good to me as a goose feather piller would. And I had made up my mind that I wouldn't take a note or act as a Observer at all till Monday mornin'. So I faced the crowd and the Fair ground as not seein' 'em as it were, carryin' out my firm idee to begin' the job as Observer and Delineator the first day of the week.

The Inside Inn we found wuz a buildin' as big as the hull of our neighborhood and I d'no but part of Loontown and Zoar, it wuz immense. And everywhere you'd look you would see this sign pasted up:

"Pay In Advance! Pay In Advance!"

Josiah acted real puggicky about it, he said he believed they had hearn we wuz comin' and got them signs printed for fear we would cheat 'em out of their pay or wuzn't able to pay. And he sez, "I'll let 'em know I am a solid man and have got money!" And he took out his little leather bag where he keeps the most of his money and showed 'em in a careless way, as much as fifteen dollars in cash.

I told him it wuz venturesome to show off so much money, but he said he wuzn't goin' to have 'em insinuatin' in this mean underhanded way that we couldn't pay our bills.

Blandina would pay her own bills, but then she's got plenty and Josiah said, "Let her pay for herself if she wants to." And I said:

"Well, I spoze it will make her feel better to pay her way."

"Yes," he sez, "and it makes me feel better too."

A young chap took our satchel bags and went to show us our room, and we went through one long hall after another, and walked and walked and walked, till I thought we should drop down. And finally Josiah stopped in his tracks and faced the feller, and sez he:

"Look here, young man, what do you take us for? We hain't runnin' for mail carriers, and we hain't niggers trainin' for a cake walk. We'd love to git a room and set down some time to-day!"

"Yes, sir," sez the man, "we are most to your rooms." And he turned and begun to go down stairs, and we follered him down two flights and started for a third one, and then Josiah faced him agin:

"What in Tunket ails you, anyway? Because we come from the country we don't propose to be put down suller amongst your cabbages and turnips! I want you to take us to some good rooms; I've paid in advance, dum you! and I'm goin' to stand for my rights."

"Yes, sir," sez the man, "they're good rooms."

And I knowin' we wuz three to one and if he wuz leadin' us off into a trap to git Josiah's money we could overpower him, I wunked for Josiah to keep still, but he wouldn't, but kep' on mutterin' whilst the man led us down two more flights, and into some quite good rooms, only if you'll believe it there wuz a tree growin' right up through our room as big as Josiah's waist.

And that made Josiah as mad as a hen agin, and he told the man, "We've been imposed upon ever since we entered this house. You knew we lived on the outskirts of Jonesville, and you've took liberties with us that you wouldn't if we had come from the heart of the village. But I'll let you know we're knowed and respected, and Jonesville will resent it to think you've put us in with trees, tryin' to make out we're green, I spoze."

But the man wuz up two flights of stairs by this time. And I quelled Josiah down by sayin' we would try to make the best on't. The hotel is built on a side hill, that's why we had to come down stairs; there are four stories more in the back than in front, and they wouldn't let 'em cut down all the trees so they had to build right round 'em.

But I ruther enjoyed it, and hung my mantilly up on it, there wuz some nails that somebody had left in it, and the tabs hung down noble. And as I told Josiah, "Trees are kinder sociable things anyway."

"Sociable!" he groaned. "We don't need trees in order to be sociable." And sure enough, on both sides on us wuz goin' on private conversations that we could hear every word on. It wuz a very friendly place.

Well, I het up my little alcohol lamp and made a cup of tea and we had lots left in our lunch basket. So I called Blandina, her room wuz only jest a little ways from ourn, and we had a good lunch and felt recooperated.

We slep' as well as we could considerin' the size and hardness of the mattress and pillows, and the confidences that wuz bein' poured into us onbeknown from both sides.

The house is built dretful shammy. Why I hearn that a man weighin' most three hundred took a room there, and comin' in one evenin' dretful tired from the day's tramp on the Fair ground leaned up heavy aginst the wall to pull off his boots, and broke right through into the next room.

And that room wuz occupied by a young married couple. You know it wuz dretful fashionable to marry and go to St. Louis on your tower. So they'd follered Fashion and the star of Love and wuz havin' a first rate time.

They had been there several days, and this evenin', he thinkin' his eyes of her, and feelin' very sentimental as wuz nateral, wuz readin' poetry to her, she settin' the picture of happiness and contentment with her feet on a foot-stool, her pretty hands clasped in her lap, and her eyes lookin' up adorin'ly into hisen as he read:


"Oh, beautious love, sweet realm of joy,
No wild alarm shall ere thy sweet calm break."


When crash! bang! down come the partition with a half dressed man on top, brandishin' aloft a boot and screamin' like a painter, as wuz only natural. He broke right into Love's Sweet Realm and skairt 'em into fits.

She fell to once into highstericks, and he, when he recovered conscientiousness threatened to lick the man, and everybody in St. Louis, and made the air blue with conversation that the Realm of Love never ort to hearn on, and wouldn't probable for years and years if it hadn't been for this _contrary temps_.

I hearn this, but don't say it is so; you can hear most anything and it held us in all right.

The next day, bein' Sunday, Josiah thought it would be our duty to stay on the Fair ground and see the Pike, etc. But I sez: "Josiah, we will begin this hefty job right, we will go to meetin'."

So we went out into the city and hunted up a M.E. meetin' house and hearn a good sermon and went into class meetin' and gin testimonies both on us. And Blandina bein' asked to by a man went forward for prayers and sot for a spell on the sinners' bench. She's been a member for years, but she's such a clever creeter she wants to obleege everybody.

Well, havin' done our three duties we went back peaceful and pious in frame and went to walk in of course to our own temporary home. But what do you think! that misuble, cheatin' man at the gate asked us to pay to git in. We hearn afterward that this wuz a dishonest man and wuz sent off.

"Pay!" sez Josiah. "Pay to come home from meetin'? Did you want us to hang round the meetin' house all day and sleep on the steps? Or what did you want?"

The man kep' that stuny look onto him and sez, "Fifty cents each."

Josiah fairly trembled with rage as he handed out the money, and sez he in a threatenin' way, "You hain't hearn the last of this, young man. Square Baker of Jonesville will git onto your tracks, and you'd better have a tiger after you than have him when he's rousted up. Pay for comin' home from meetin', it is a disgrace to the nation! Call this a land of liberty when you have to pay for comin' home from meetin'!"

And sez he, as he took his change back, "Do you know what you're doin'? You're drivin' Samantha and me away from this place, and Blandina." And sez he, with an air of shootin' his sharpest arrer, "We shall go to Miss Huff's to-morry."

And so we did. Blandina and I wanted to go there in the first place, so we felt well about it. We had fulfilled our duties as chaperones to the fullest extent, and had also got our own two ways in the end, which is always comfortin' to a woman.

We found Miss Huff settled in a pleasant street in a good comfortable home, not so very fur away from the Fair ground. She's a widder with one son, young and good lookin', jest home from school; and a aged parent, toothless and no more hair on his head than on the cover of my glass butter dish. And I'll be hanged if I knowed which one on 'em Blandina paid the most devoted attention to whilst we wuz there, but nothin' light and triflin'.

She is likely, her morals mebby bein' able to stand more bein' so sort o' withy and soft than if they wuz more hard and brittle, they could bend round considerable without breakin'.

And Miss Huff had also a little grand-niece, Dorothy Evans, whose mother had passed away, and Miss Huff bein' next of kin had took into her family to take care of. Dretful clever I thought it wuz of Miss Huff. Dorothy's mother, I guess, didn't have much faculty and spent everything as she went along; she had an annuity that died with her, but she had been well enough off so she could hire a nurse for the child, an elderly colored woman, Aunt Tryphena by name, who out of love for the little one had offered to come to Miss Huff's just to be near the little girl.

And Dotie, as they well called her, for everyone doted on her, wuz as sweet a little fairy as I ever see, her pretty golden head carried sunshine wherever it went. And her big blue eyes, full of mischief sometimes, wuz also full of the solemn sweetness of them "Who do always behold the face of the Father."

I took to her from the very first, and so did Josiah and Blandina. The hull family loved and petted her from Miss Huff and her old father down to Billy, who alternately petted and teased her.

To Aunt Tryphena she wuz an object of perfect adoration. And Aunt Tryphena wuz a character uneek and standin' alone. When she wuz made the mould wuz throwed away and never used afterwards. She follered Dorothy round like her shadow and helped make the beds and keep the rooms tidy, a sort of chamber-maid, or ruther chamber-woman, for she wuz sixty if she wuz a day.

Besides Aunt Tryphena Miss Huff had two more girls to cook and clean. She had good help and sot a good table, and Aunt Feeny as they called her wuz a source of constant amusement and interest; but of her more anon.

We got to Miss Huff's in the afternoon and rested the rest of that day and had a good night's sleep.

In the mornin' Josiah, who went out at my request before breakfast to buy a little peppermint essence, come in burnin' with indignation, his morals are like iron (most of the time).

He said a man had been advisin' him to take the Immoral Railway as the best way of seein' the Fair grounds as a hull before we branched out to see things more minutely one by one.

"Immoral Railway!" he snorted out agin.

"I hope you didn't fall in with any such idee, Josiah Allen." And I sithed as I thought how many took that kind of railway and wuz whirled into ruin on't.

"Fall in with it! I guess the man that spoke to me about it thought I didn't fall in with it. I gin that feller a piece of my mind."

"I hope you didn't give him too big a piece," sez I anxiously; "you know you hain't got a bit to spare, specially at this time."

Oh, how I watched over that man day by day! I wanted the peppermint more for him than for me. I laid out if he seemed likely to break down to give him a peppermint sling.

Not that I am one of them who when fur away from home dash out into forbidden paths and dissipation, but I didn't consider peppermint sling wrong anyway, there hain't much stimulant to it.

Well, we started out for the Fair in pretty good season in the mornin', Billy Huff offered to go and put us on the right car, so he walked ahead with Blandina, Josiah and I follerin' clost in their rears. Blandina looked up at him and follered his remarks as clost and stiddy as a sunflower follers the sun. She had told me that mornin' whilst I wuz gittin' ready to start that he wuz the loveliest young man she had ever met, and a woman would be happy indeed who won him for her consort. And I said, as I pinned my collar on more firmly with my cameo pin, that I presoomed that he would make a good man and pardner when he growed up.

And she said, "Difference in age don't count anything when there is true love." Sez she, "Look at Aaron Burr and Lord Baconsfield," and she brung up a number more for me to look at mentally, whilst I wuz drapin' my mantilly round my frame in graceful folds.

But I told her I didn't seem to want to spend my time on them old ghosts that mornin', havin' such a big job on my hands to tackle that day as first chaperone to Josiah, and I got her mind off for the time bein', by the time I had fastened on my mantilly so the tabs hung as I wanted 'em to hang.

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CHAPTER VIIIWell, the time had arrived when we promised to meet Josiah at the appinted rondevoo. Indeed Blandina, went a little ahead of time, for as second chaperone she said it might be he would get there a little early, and bein' naturally high-sperited he might get impatient, and she said men ort to be guarded from anything that would wear on their tempers, jest as much as possible. So I looked 'round a little more, and when I got to the place appinted, there sot Blandina readin' extracts from "The Noble Achievements of Men" in a paper cover, which she
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CHAPTER IIIWell, Jabez said it wuz the sudden change from cold to hot water that had caused the overflow, so we put the biler on the kitchen stove and the caldron kettle in the woodhouse, and het water bilin' hot and filled the empty tank, Josiah groanin' loud as he lugged it up and sayin' when he thought I didn't hear him, "Oh, gracious Heavens! is this two pails a year?" Then we all gathered in the front chamber agin watchin' events to come, Jabez boastin' louder than ever how like a charm it would work, and Karen opholdin' him. But
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