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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSamantha At The St. Louis Exposition - Chapter 8
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Samantha At The St. Louis Exposition - Chapter 8 Post by :oukhanova Category :Long Stories Author :Marietta Holley Date :May 2012 Read :3432

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Samantha At The St. Louis Exposition - Chapter 8

CHAPTER VIII

Well, 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 carried 'round in her pocket. But no Josiah wuz there.

Minutes passed; my happiness and peace of mind passin' off faster than the minute hand, and no Josiah. A quarter of a hour passed, and still no sign of that dear man. And when half an hour had gone by I busted into tears, and Blandina I could see wuz torn with anxiety and offered to go out into the streets of St. Louis and hunt for him. She mistrusted he had wandered off the Fair ground, and that clever creeter wuz willin' to leave all the allurements that wuz allurin' her here to hunt for him.

I sez, "I don't believe he is there. But, oh, where shall we find him? and what state will he be in when found!" Knowin' the past as we did, we feared for the worst. But jest then Billy Huff happened to pass by and stopped and asked what wuz the matter.

"Oh!" sez I, with the tears runnin' down my cheeks in copious as torrents, "my pardner is lost!"

"Where did you lose him?" sez he.

I told him how it wuz and he sez, "I'll bet I can find him for you; I remember his talkin' last night about a certain place."

Sez I in tearful axents, "Oh, do! do try, and ease the heart of a distracted companion."

But when he mentioned the place he thought he wuz I repelled the insinuation with scorn. It wuz one of the most hilarious and vain places of revelry at the Fair, where there wuz lots of bally girls and etcetery, and I sez:

"No, indeed! He may have gone into some meetin' house and wandered up into the steeple onbeknown to him, or some educational exhibit, or Bible rooms, but never, never in that place."

But yieldin' to his arguments I consented to go with him sayin' we would stay at the door while he reconoitered. But jest as we got to the door who should we see comin' out radiant and smilin' but Josiah Allen and Uncle Sime Bentley.

Billy sez, "What did I tell you?"

I couldn't frame a reply, I had no frame that fitted the remark, but as Billy disappeared to once it didn't matter. When Josiah ketched my eye and the look it wore, the blush of shame mantiled his cheek--or wuz it remorse?--I couldn't tell, they look some alike.

And he sez, "We went in, Samantha, to look for a missin' man, and my corn ached like furiation jest as we wuz passin' the door, and I couldn't seem to walk another step, and it looked some like rain and I knew you wouldn't want me to spile my new coat----"

And Uncle Sime chimed in, "We wuz took faint both on us jest as we got to the door and had to set down, and I mistrusted I should find cousin Zekiel there," and then happenin' to remember, both at the same time, they begun to say how they went for the good of the meetin' house.

Sez I in frigid axents, "Say no more!" And I turned onto my heel and walked coldly away.

But Blandina whispered to me, "Oh, be merciful, Aunt Samantha, men have such powerful intellects, that Shows that would almost ruin a woman, don't affect them hardly any. Speak tenderly to him," sez she, "and I myself will gently accost Mr. Bentley."

So she stepped back to his side and Josiah advanced and walked by me still pourin' out excuses. Why he gin enough reasons to excuse a regiment let alone one small deacon.

But Blandina seemed to lose her efforts, for Uncle Sime talked real grouty to her, he has never had a idee of marryin' anybody since his wife died and he mistrusts wimmen are runnin' after him. You know male widowers do git that idee into their heads, them that are as humbly as Time in the Primer, and a onmarried woman can't ask 'em about the weather, or sheep, or anything but what they mistrust some hidden warmth, and pride themselves on how attractive they be. It's a sight.

As nigh as I could find out the minute Josiah Allen left me he took the railway and hurried to the wicked place where he and Uncle Sime wuz to meet, expectin' to git back in ample time to meet us. But they wuz so took up with the show they dallied, and so retribution and a indignant pardner overtook 'em. Well, we took the Intremoral railway and went back to finish Agricultural Hall, for that bein' writ on my pad I wanted to complete it so fur as we could, of course it would took months to do justice to it.

We got there in a few minutes, and Josiah, as might be expected, wanted to see the food exhibits, so we went where there wuz all kinds of food made of vegetable products, all kind of grain, flour mills where you could see wheat go in one end and bread come out the other, bakeries, kitchens, tea and coffee pavilions and every sort of animal food products, milk and cream in every form, fresh and preserved cheese and butter dairies, all sorts of dairy tools, churns, separators, cheese presses and vats, everything connected with makin' butter and cheese, transporting and distributing. Starch factories, broom factories, market gardening in all branches.

Grasses, all sorts of fodder for cattle, raised in every country of the world, and the best methods of raising. Everything relating to poultry, artificial hatching and raising. Every kind of crop raised in every country of the world and the best methods of raising and handling them. As in cotton, you can see it from the tiny seed clear to the cotton mill, so in corn, you see everything that is manufactured from it and how it is done--meal, breakfast foods, starch, bread, pastry, baking powders, yeast, from a kernel of corn up to mills and manufactories. And so it wuz in everything raised in our own country and all over the world.

And there wuz a display of insects, bees and everything relating to honey and wax. Silk worms and their work and products, cochineal and all kinds of useful insects and their work, and hurtful insects and methods of destroying them, and so on and so on and so on. I couldn't tell all I see if I should try a week, and what we see wuzn't a drop to a fountain. The immense buildin' is divided off into streets and blocks jest like a city, and you might roam through them streets a month and find sunthin' new and interestin' every day and hour.

Well, from there we went to Horticultural Hall, or we had started for there when Josiah made a observation about the size of a potato he had seen in Agricultural Hall, that I had to in the cause of Truth and Duty object to, the size he mentioned was a twelve-quart pail, and I said:

"Josiah, take off a few quarts from that pail. For the good of your soul take off two quarts anyway."

"Not a quart!" sez he, "nor a spunful."

Well, we had words about it, Blandina as usual siding with her uncle, and it ended with their goin' back with a string, which Josiah produced from his pocket to measure it, I offering to stay by a certain statute till they got back. And as I stood there lookin' at the stiddy passin' crowd and philosophizin' on it as my nater is, I wuz accosted by a strange lookin' man, as I took it to be (I say It for reasons named hereafter).

"Josiah Allen's wife, I am happy to meet you; I knew you at once though it is so long since we met." In the meantime it had gripped holt of my hand with fervor.

I drawed back and sez, "Sir!" (I thought it favored that gender most) "Sir, I think you are mistook."

"Oh, no, you are Josiah Allen's wife; I am Dr. Mary Walker."

"Oh!" sez I in a relieved axent, as I returned the warm grasp of her hand, "I am glad to meet you, Mary."

She's done some good things in her life, takin' care of poor wounded soldiers, etc., and I honored her for 'em. Though I don't approve of her costoom, as I told her in the conversation that ensued, after we'd talked considerable about the Fair and kindred matters. For I see as we stood there behavin' ourselves, curious eyes wuz bent on her and onbecomin' epithets hurled at her by them who knowed no better. She seemed oblivious to 'em, but I asked her if she wouldn't rather wear less noticeable attire.

And she said she cared not for ribald remarks as long as her motives wuz pure.

And I said we could carry pure motives under a headdress of peacock's feathers standin' up straight over our foreheads, but wouldn't it be better to carry 'em under a bunnet?

"No better!" sez she. "Not a whit."

"Well, easier?" sez I. "Wouldn't it be easier for ourselves and bystanders?"

Sez she, "I care not for Public Opinion!"

"But," sez I, "as long as we've got to live clost neighbor to Public Opinion wouldn't it be easier for us to fall in with his idees a little on comparatively unimportant things than to keep him riled up all the time? It seems to me that if folks want to impress their personality on the world it is better to do it by noble deeds and words than by startlin' costooms."

Sez she, "My dress is fur more comfortable than the ordinary dress of females."

Sez I reasonably, "Short dresses are a boon and a blessin', but in my opinion they can be short enough for comfort and still not infringe on man's chosen raiment. And as for pantaloons, men are welcome to 'em so fur as I'm concerned, and also tall hats, they hain't nothin' I hanker for either on 'em."

Sez she, "We have a right to wear any clothes we see fit."

Sez I, "We have a right to plow green sword, shingle a steep barn ruff, or break a yoke of steers. But the question is, will it pay in comfort or economy to do this? As for me, I'd ruther be in the house in a comfortable dress and clean apron, cookin' a good dinner for Josiah, or settin' down knittin' his socks whilst he duz the harder work he is by nater and education fitted for. But everybody to their own mind. And so fur as I am concerned I'd ruther attract attention by doin' sunthin' worth while, sunthin' really noble and good, than by tyin' a red rag round my fore-top. But as I say, folks are different, and I am fur from sayin' that my way is the only right way."

Mary kinder waived off some of my idees and went on and spoke of her work on the battlefield and how necessary her dress wuz in such a place.

And I sez, "Mary, I've always honored you for your noble work there. But I believe I could lift up the head of a dyin' man easier in a loose gingham dress and straw bunnet tied on, than I could in your tight pantaloons and high hat, but howsumever the main thing is that the man is lifted, and he doubtless wouldn't quarrel about the costoom of his preserver. The main thing in this world, Mary, is the work we do, the liftin', or tryin' to lift; the day's work we do in the harvest field of Endeavor. And I spoze a few trousers more or less hain't goin' to count when we carry in our sheaves. Though I must say to the last, Mary Walker, I could carry 'em easier in my dress than I could in yourn."

In the heat of our good-natered conversation Mary had slipped her hand through my arm and neither of us noticed it, so wropped up wuz we in the topics under discussion, when I hearn Blandina's voice behind me sayin', "Oh, what a noble lookin' man Aunt Samantha is talkin' to and how affectionate actin'; how sweet it will be to meet him." And then I hearn a sharp raspin' voice clost to me sayin':

"Sir, I will thank you to onhand my wife!"

I wouldn't hardly have knowed my pardner's voice, such burnin' anger showed in it and wuz depictered on his liniment as I turned round and faced him. And he went on:

"Samantha, have I lived with you most a century to be deceived in you now?"

His turrible emotions had onhinged his reasonin' faculties, we hain't lived together so long as that, but I didn't dane to argy, I only sez with calm dignity:

"Miss Walker, this is my pardner, Josiah Allen."

"_Miss_!" sez he in a overbearin' axent, "_Miss Walker!" He looked as if he thought it wuz a conspiracy hatched up between us to deceive him.

"Yes," sez I coolly, "Miss Walker, Dr. Mary Walker."

"Oh!" sez Josiah, in his surprise and relief not offerin' to bow or shake hands or nothin'. "Dear Samantha, I've hearn on her." And he turned and linked his hand in my other arm so for a minute we looked like three twins perambulatin' along. In the meantime I introduced Blandina, who looked bewildered and disappointed.

But Dr. Mary Walker remembered a engagement, and to my relief took leave on us. And I said a few words to Josiah on the danger and cruelty to me of his hasty opinion and suspicion and in the cause of Duty I mentioned the late eppisode of himself and Uncle Sime, and he seemed mortified and apologetic for as many as three minutes. But it didn't last, it never duz with his sect. And we went on to Horticultural Hall, Josiah on the way reluctantly showin' me the string he had measured the potato with. He had to take off several quarts offen that pail, jest as I told him he would, and it made him fraxious.

But he lost his shagrin on the way, it wuz buried under the acres of posies and beautiful shrubs and trees through which we wuz passin'. Every rare posy you ever hearn on wuz there and them you never dremp on, and trees, some beautiful and familiar, and them with strange and beautiful foliage. Little lakes, where gold and silver fish played and dotted over with the rarest and loveliest water plants and blossoms, shrubs runnin' over with bloom, why, there wuz acres of jest rosies. And in the middle of a six-acre rose garden stood a handsome statute of one of my own sect, Flora by name, jest lookin' down as if she owned the hull on't, and wuz proud and happy to be there, as well she might--she'll never git into such a delightful spot agin, I don't believe.

And there wuz pleasant walks windin' round every which way and once in awhile a big tree shadin' a cozy nook where you could sit down and enjoy the beauty and perfume. It wuz good to be there, and it seemed as if the hull world had the same mind about comin' and wuz all there walkin' about or else settin' down enjoyin' themselves.

Horticultural Buildin' is big enough and full enough to keep folks busy a month. Right in the centre, in a place as long as from our house clear over to she that wuz Submit Tewksbury's and I d'no but furder, wuz a display of fruit, all kinds of fruit of every shape and size that grow in every climate from frigid to torrid, and every country from Greenland to Asia, it wuz a sight. Then there wuz a display of every kind of horticultural machinery and implements, glass housen, aquariums, ferneries, all sorts of ornaments for gardens.

All kinds of small fruits and how to grow 'em, everything relating to the culture of vines, vineyards, wine cellars. All sorts of ornamental plants and flowers, models of fruit in wax and plaster, baskets and bunches of flowers, conservatories, all flowering plants from every country and the way to grow them. All sorts of seeds, grass, fruit trees of all kinds, and the best way to prune and plant them.

Josiah told me he thought we could git round and see what wuz in this buildin' in four weeks, but I felt dubersome about it and told him we would have to go a pretty good jog if we did. Blandina thought she could git round in three weeks if she had some good man's arm to lean on the most of the time.

But 'tennyrate, after stayin' there and lookin' round a long time, I told Josiah I wuz tired enough to go home, so we went.

I wuz most melted too, for St. Louis weather is tuckering to them that can't stand heat. It made Josiah real worrisome time and agin. And one thing he said about it put a idee into my head that I never had thought on, I thought it wuz real smart.

Somebody wuz lamentin' the fact in our hearin' that so many thieves and villains of all sorts had congregated at St. Louis this summer, and Josiah sez:

"It's a first rate thing for sinners to come here to git acclimated, as it were, before they die."

I hadn't thought on't, but felt there wuz sunthin' in it, for truly the burnin' climate of the place I don't want to speak on by name, must be easier to bear after visitin' St. Louis than to plunge into it from cooler and more northern States. And still I don't know why we should want to make it easier for 'em, I spoze it wuz our pityin' naters that made us think ont.

The weather wuz simply burnin' hot, no other word describes it, oveny, furnacy hot! and Josiah said, and well said, it set folks to thinkin' and inclined 'em to take warnin' and mend their ways. Sez he, "Two days of St. Louis weather wuz worth more to sinners than the sermons of a month of winter Sundays."

Truly in heat it wuz a great object lesson. I wore my brown lawn dress day after day, havin' no chance to wear my rich alpacky, as I wanted to, to kinder show off before Miss Huff, and Blandina presented the wilted appearance of a long slim cabbage leaf plunged in bilin' water.

I believe Josiah's groanin's and takin's on and mutterin's helped him to bear it better than if he had held in. Not that I told him so, no, I told him it wuz onmanly to carry on so. But truly the heat wuz fearful, our clothin' stuck to us and prespiration and sweat run down our faces.

The next day it wuz so hot I felt kinder mauger and stayed to home. Blandina and Miss Huff went half a day, and in the afternoon Blandina went to a big department store in the city to git some thinner underwear, and I got awful skairt about her. Miss Huff gin her the most minute directions about where it wuz and what car to take, it wuzn't a great ways off, and she ort to got back at four o'clock anyway.

But time run along, four struck, then five and then six, and I wuz gittin' dretful worried about her when she come in tired enough.

Sez I, "I wuz awful worried about you, Blandina. Did you git lost?"

"No." She said she got onto the right car and the conductor wuz a dretful handsome and fascinatin' man, and she went to git off at the right street, and kinder backed off, she always duz git off that way, and the conductor thinkin' she wanted to git on, he smiled so sweet and held out his hand to help her on so she would git on again. And that happened over and over. She not wantin' to hurt his feelin's and slight him by not takin' holt of his hand and climbin' on agin. Till finally she did show some good sense, she asked the man standin' on the platform if he would help her off, for she had been tryin' to git off for the last five stations. So she had to take a car back, but the conductor wuz humbly and gruff and she got along all right, but it belated her.

Sez I, "What made you do it, Blandina?"

"Oh," sez she, "he looked so winnin' and invitin' I didn't want to hurt his feelin's."

Sez I, "You'll sup sorrer yet, Blandina, by your wantin' to obleege everybody. You ort to look out for yourself some, you're alltogether too good to be comfortable."

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CHAPTER IXWell, Josiah went that day with Billy Huff, he santered off without any system or plan, and wouldn't take my pad though I offered it to him. But I guess they jest poked round miscelaneous, as you may say, seein' jest what they happened to run into. And in some of their travels they met Barzelia Trimble, a woman lecturer, she's young and good lookin' and smart as a whip, and I guess she made much of Josiah, 'tennyrate she gin him tickets to her lecture. She said she'd met a man whose brother-in-law's cousin had bought a dog once
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CHAPTER IVI 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
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