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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSamantha At The World's Fair - Chapter 1
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Samantha At The World's Fair - Chapter 1 Post by :oukhanova Category :Long Stories Author :Marietta Holley Date :May 2012 Read :2938

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Samantha At The World's Fair - Chapter 1

CHAPTER I

Christopher Columbus has always been a object of extreme interest and admiration to me ever sence I first read about him in my old Olney's Gography, up to the time when I hearn he wuz a-goin' to be celebrated in Chicago.

I always looked up to Christopher, I always admired him, and in a modest and meetin'-house sense, I will say boldly and with no fear of Josiah before my eyes that I loved him.

Havin' such feelin's for Christopher Columbus, as I had, and havin' such feelin's for New Discoverers, do you spoze I wuz a-goin' to have a celebration gin for him, and also for us as bein' discovered by him, without attendin' to it?

No, indeed! I made calculations ahead from the very first minute it wuz spoke on, to attend to it.

And feelin' as I did--all wrought up on the subject of Christopher Columbus--it wuz a coincerdence singular enough to skair anybody almost to death--to think that right on the very day Christopher discovered America, and us (only 400 years later), and on the very day that I commenced the fine shirt that Josiah wuz a-goin' to wear to Chicago to celebrate him in--

That very Friday, if you'll believe me, Christopher Columbus walked right into our kitchen at Jonesville--and discovered me.

(Illustration: If you'll believe me, Christopher Columbus Allen walked right into our kitchen--and discovered me.)

Yes, Christopher Columbus Allen, a relative I never had seen, come to Jonesville and our house on his way to the World's Fair.

Jest to think on't--Christopher Columbus Allen, who had passed his hull life up in Maine, and then descended down onto us at such a time as this, when all the relations in Jonesville wuz jest riz up about the doin's of that great namesake of hisen--And the gussets wuz even then a-bein' cut out and sewed on to the shirt that wuz a-goin' to encompass Josiah Allen about as he went to Chicago to celebrate him--

That then, on that Friday, P.M., about the time of day that the Injuns wuz a-kneelin' to the first Christopher, to think that Josiah Allen should walk in the new Columbus into our kitchen--why, I don't spoze a more singular and coincidin' circumstance ever happened before durin' the hull course of time.

The only incident that mellered it down any and made it a little less miracalous wuz the fact that he never had been called by his full name.

He always has been, is now, and I spoze always will be called Krit--Krit Allen.

But still it wuz--in spite of this mellerin' and amelioratin' circumstance--strikin' and skairful enough to fill me with or.

He wuz a double and twisted relation, as you may say, bein' related to us on both our own sides, Josiah's and mine.

But I had never sot eyes on him till that day, though I well remember visitin' his parents, who lived then in the outskirts of Loontown--good respectable Methodist Epospical people--and runners of a cheese factory at that time.

Tryphenia Smith, relation on my side, married to Ezra Allen, relation on Josiah's side.

I remember that I went there on a visit with my mother at a very early period of my existence. I hadn't existed at that time more'n nine years, if I had that. We staid there on a stiddy stretch for a week; that wuz jest before they moved up to Maine.

Uncle Ezra had a splendid chance offered him there, and he fell in with it.

She wuz a dretful good creeter, Aunt Tryphenia wuz, and greatly beloved by the relations on his side, as well as hern.

Though, as is nateral with relations, she had to be run by 'em more or less, and found fault with. Some thought her nose wuz too long. Some on 'em thought she wuz too religious, and some on 'em thought she wuzn't religious enough. Some on 'em thought she wuzn't sot enough on the creeds, and some thought she wuz too rigid.

But, howsumever, pretty nigh all the Allens and Smiths jest doted on her.

There wuz one incident that jest impressed itself on my memory in connection with that visit, and I don't spoze I shall ever forgit it; it stands to reason that I should before now, if I ever wuz a-goin' to.

It took place at family prayers, which they held regular at Uncle Ezra's.

It wuz right in the hite of sugarin'. They had more'n two hundred maple trees, and they had tapped 'em all, and they had run free, and they had to sugar off every day, and sometimes twice a day.

That mornin' they had a big kettle of maple syrup over the stove, and Uncle Ezra and Aunt Tryphenia and mother wuz all a-kneelin' down pretty nigh to the stove. It wuz a cold mornin', and I wuz a-settin' with my little legs a-hangin' off the chair a-watchin' things, not at that age bein' particular interested in religion.

Uncle Ezra made a long prayer, a tegus one, it seemed to me; it wuz so long that the kettle of sugar had het up fearful, and I see with deep anxiety that it wuz a-mountin' up most to the top of the kettle.

Of course I dassent move to open the stove door, or stir it down, or anything--no, I dassent make a move of any kind or a mite of noise in prayer time. So I sot demute, but in deep anxiety, a-watchin' it sizzle up higher and higher and then down agin, as is the way of syrup, but each time a sizzlin' up a little higher.

Wall, finally Uncle Ezra got through with his prayer, and dear good Aunt Tryphenia begun hern. She spoke dretful kinder moderate, but religious and good as anything could be.

I well remember what it wuz she wuz sayin'--

"O Lord, let us be tried as by fire and not be moved"--I remember she said moved instead of moved, which wuz impressive to me, never havin' hearn it pronounced that way before.

And jest as she said this over went the sugar onto the stove, and Aunt Tryphenia and Uncle Ezra jest jumped right up and went and lifted the kettle offen the stove.

I remember well how kinder bewildered and curious mother looked when she opened her eyes and see that the prayer wuz broke right short off. Aunt Tryphenia looked meachin', and Uncle Ezra put his hat right on and went out to the barn.

It wuz dretful embarrissin' to him and Aunt Tryphenia. But then I don't know as they could have helped it.

I remember hearin' Father and Mother arguin' about it. Father thought she done right, but Mother wuz kinder of the opinion that she ort to have run the prayer right on and let the sugar spile if necessary.

But I remember Father's arguin' that he didn't believe her prayer would have been very lucid or fervent, with all that batch of sugar a-sizzlin' and a-burnin' right by the side of her.

I remember that he said that a prayer wouldn't be apt to ascend much higher than where one's hopes and thoughts wuz, and he didn't believe it would go up much higher than that kettle. (The stove wuz the common height, not over four feet.)

But Mother held to her own opinion, and so did a good many of the relations, mostly females. It wuz talked over quite a good deal amongst the Smiths. The wimmen all blamed Tryphenia more or less. The men mostly approved of savin' the sugar.

But good land! how I am eppisodin', and to resoom and go on.

As I say, it wuz jest after this that Uncle Ezra's folks moved up to Maine, Christopher Columbus bein' still onborn for years and years.

But bein' born in due time, or ruther as I may say out of due time, for Uncle Ezra and Aunt Tryphenia had been married over twenty years before they had a child, and then they branched out and had two, and then stopped--

But bein' born at last and growin' up to be a good-lookin' young man and well-to-do in the world, he come out to Jonesville on business and also to foller up the ties of relationship that wuz stretched out acrost hill and dale clear from Maine to Jonesville.

Strange ties, hain't they? that are so little that they are invisible to the naked eye, or spectacles, or the keenest microscope, and yet are so strong and lastin' that the strongest sledge-hammer can't break 'em or even make a dent into 'em.

And old Time himself, that crumbles stun work and mountains, can't seem to make any impression on 'em. Curious, hain't it?

But to leave moralizin' and to resoom, it was on Friday, P.M., that he arrove at our home.

I see a good-lookin' young chap a-comin' up the path from the front gate with my Josiah, and I hastily but firmly turned my apron the other side out--I had been windin' some blue yarn that day for some socks for my Josiah, and had colored it a little--it wuz a white apron--and then I waited middlin' serene till he come in with him.

And lo! and behold! Josiah introduced him as Christopher Columbus Allen, my own cousin on my own side, and also on hisen.

He wuz a very good-lookin' chap, some older than Thomas Jefferson, and I do declare if he didn't look some like him, which wouldn't be nothin' aginst the law, or aginst reason, bein' that they wuz related to each other.

I wuz glad enough to see him, and I inquired after the relations with considerable interest, and some affection (not such an awful sight, never havin' seen 'em much, but a little, jest about enough).

And then I learnt with some sadness that his father and mother had passed away not long before that, and that his sister Isabelle wuz not over well.

And there wuz another coincerdence that struck aginst me almost hard enough to knock me down.

Isabelle! jest think on't, when my mind wuz on a perfect strain about Isabelle Casteel.

Columbus and Isabelle!--the idee!

Why, my reason almost tottered on its throne under my recent best head-dress, when I hearn him speak the name. Christopher Columbus a tellin' me about Isabelle--

I declare I wuz that wrought up that I expected every minute to hear him tell me somethin' about Ferdinand; but I do believe that I should have broke down under that.

But it wuz all explained out to me afterwards by another relation that come onto us onexpected shortly afterwards.

It seemed that Uncle Ezra and Aunt Tryphenia, after they went to Maine, moved into a sort of a new place, where it wuz dretful lonesome.

They lost every book they had, owin' to a axident on their journey, and the only book their nighest neighbor had wuz the life of Queen Isabelle.

(Illustration: They lost every book they had, owin' to a axident on their journey.)

And so Aunt Tryphenia for years wuz, as you may say, jest saturated with that book. And she named her two children, born durin' that time of saturation, Christopher Columbus and Isabelle. And I presoom if she had had another, she would have named it King Ferdinand. Though I hain't sure of this--you can't be postive certain of any such thing as this. Besides it might have been born a girl onbeknown to her.

But I know that she never washed them children with anything but Casteel soap, and she talked sights and sights about Spain and things.

So I hearn from Uncle Jered Smith, who visited them while he wuz up on a tower through Maine, a-sellin' balsam of pine for the lungs.

Wall, Isabelle had a sort of a runnin' down, so Krit said. He begged us to call him that--said that all his mates at school called him so. He had been educated quite high. Had been to deestrick school sights, and then to a 'Cademy and College. He had kinder worked his way up, so I found out, and so had Isabelle.

She had graduated from a Young Woman's College, taught school to earn her money, and then went to school as long as that would last, and then would set out and teach agin, and then go agin and then taught, and then went.

She wuz younger than Christopher, but he owned up to me that it wuz her example that had rousted him up to exert himself.

She wuz awful ambitious, Isabelle wuz. She wuz smart as she could be, and had a feelin' that she wanted to be sunthin' in the World.

But then the old folks wuz took down sick and helpless, and one of the children had to stay to home. And Isabelle staid, and sent Krit out into the World.

She sold her jewels of Ambition and Happiness, and gin him the avails of them.

She staid to home with the old folks--kinder peevish and fretful, Krit said they wuz, too--and let him go a-sailin' out on the broad ocean of life; she had trimmed her own sails in such hope, but had to curb 'em in now and lower the topmast.

You have to reef your sails considerable when you are a-sailin' round in a small bedroom between two beds of sickness (asthma and inflammatory rheumatiz). You have to haul 'em in, and take down the flyin' pennen of Hope and Asperation, and mount up the lamp of Duty and Meekness for a figger-head, instead of the glowin' face of Proud Endeavor.

(Illustration: Isabelle staid, and sent Krit out into the World.)

But them lamps give a dretful meller, soft light, when they are well mounted up, and firm sot.

The light on 'em hain't to be compared to any other light on sea or on shore. It wrops 'em round so serene and glowin' that walks in it. It rests on their mild forwards in a sort of a halo that shines off on the hard things of this life and makes 'em endurable, takes the edge kinder off of the hardest, keenest sufferin's, and goes before 'em throwin' a light over the deep waters that must be passed, and sort o' melts in and loses itself in the ineffible radiance that streams out from acrost the other side.

It is a curious light and a beautiful one. Isabelle jest journeyed in its full radiance.

Wall, Isabelle would do what she sot out to do, you could see that by her face. Krit had brought her photograph with him--he thought his eyes of her--and I liked her looks first rate.

It wuz a beautiful face, with more than beauty in it too. It wuz inteligent and serene, with the serenity of the sweet soul within. And it had a look deep down in the eyes, a sort of a shadow that is got by passin' through the Valley of Sorrow.

I hearn afterwards what that look meant.

Isabelle had been engaged to a smart, well-meanin' chap, Tom Freeman by name, not over and above rich, and one that had his own duties to attend to. Two helpless aged ones, and two little nieces to took care on, and nobody but himself to earn the money to do it with.

The little nieces' Pa had gone to California after his wife's death--and hadn't been hearn from sence. The little children had been left with their grandparents and Uncle Tom to stay till their Pa got back. And as he didn't git back, of course they kept on a-stayin', and had to be took care on. They wuz bright little creeters, and the very apples of their eyes. But they cost money, and they cost love, and Tom had to give it, for they lost what little property they had about this time--and the feeble Grandma couldn't do much, and the Grandpa died not long after the eppisode I am about to relate.

So it all devolved onto Tom. And Tom riz up to his duties nobly, though it wuz with a sad heart, as wuz spozed, for Isabelle, when she see what had come onto him to do, wouldn't hold him to his engagement--she insisted on his bein' free.

I spoze she thought she wouldn't burden him with two more helpless ones, and then mebby she thought the two spans wouldn't mate very well. And most probable they would have been a pretty cross match. (I mean, that is, a sort of a melancholy, down-sperited yoke, and if anybody laughs at it, I would wish 'em to laugh in a sort of a mournful way.)

Wall, Tom Freeman, after Isabelle sot him free, bein' partly mad and partly heart-broken, as is the way of men who are deep in love, and want their way, but anyway wantin' to keep out of the sight of the one who, if he couldn't have her for his own, he wanted to forgit--he packed up bag and baggage and went West.

Isabelle wouldn't correspond with him, so she told him in that last hour--still and calm on the outside, and her heart a-bleedin' on the inside, I dare presoom to say; no, she wanted him to feel free.

What creeters, what creeters wimmen be for makin' martyrs of themselves, and burnt sacrifices--sometimes I most think they enjoy it, and then agin I don't know!

But Isabelle acted from a sense of duty, for she jest worshipped the ground Tom Freeman walked on, so everybody knew, and so she bid adieu to Tom and Happiness, and lived on.

Wall, one of 'em must stay at home with the old folks, either she or Christopher Columbus. And when a man and a woman love each other as Isabelle and Krit did, when wuz it ever the case but what if there wuz any sacrificin' to do the woman wuz the one to do it.

It is her nater, and I don't know but a real true woman takes as much comfort in bein' sort o' onhappy for the sake of some one she loves, as she would in swingin' right out and a-enjoyin' herself first rate.

A woman who really loves anything has the makin' of a first-class martyr in her. And though she may not be ever tied to a stake, and gridirons be fur removed from her, still she has a sort of a silent hankerin' or aptitude for martrydom. That is, she would fur ruther be onhappy herself than to have the beloved object wretched. And if either of 'em has got to face trouble and privation, why she is the one that stands ready to face 'em.

So Isabelle sent Krit off into the great world to conquer it if possible.

And Krit, as the nater of man is, felt that he would ruther branch and work his way along through the World, and work hard and venter and dare and try to conquer fortune, than to set round and endure and suffer and be calm.

Men are not, although they are likely creeters and I wish 'em well, yet truth compels me to say that they are not very much gin to follerin' this text, "To suffer and be calm."

No, they had ruther rampage round and kill the lions in the way than to camp down in front of 'em and try to subdue 'em with kindness and long sufferin'.

Krit, as the nateral nater of man is, felt that he could and would earn a good place in the World, win it with hard work, and then lift Isabelle up onto the high platform by the side of him.

Though whether he had made any plans as how he wuz a-goin' to hist up the two feeble old invalids, that I can't state, not knowin'.

But Isabelle, he did lay out to do well by her, thinkin' as he did such a amazin' lot of her, and knowin' how she gin up her own ambitious hopes for his sake, and knowin' well, though he didn't really feel free to interfere, how she had signed the death-warrant to her own happiness when she parted with Tom Freeman. But so it wuz.

Wall, Krit wouldn't have to lift up the old folks onto any worldly hite, for the Lord took 'em up into His own habitation, higher I spoze than any earthly mount. About six months before Krit come to Jonesville, they both passed away most at the same time, and wuz buried in one grave.

Wall, we all on us in Jonesville thought a sight of Krit before he had been with us a week. He had come partly to see a man in Jonesville on particular business, and partly to see us. He wuz a civil engineer, jest as civil and polite a one as I ever laid eyes on, and wuz a-doin' well, but Thomas Jefferson thought he could help him to a still better place and position.

Thomas J. is very popular in Jonesville. He is doin' a big business all over the county, and is very influential.

Wall, Krit's business bid fair to keep him for some time in Jonesville and the vicinity, and as he see that Josiah Allen and I wuz a-makin' preperations to go to the World's Fair--and bein' warmly pursuaded by us to that effect, he concluded to stay and accompany us thither. The idee wuz very agreeable to us.

He said his sister Isabelle, after she wuz a little recooperated from her grief for the old folks, and recovered a little from the sickness that she had after they left her, she too laid out to come on to Chicago, and spend a few weeks.

He wuz a-layin' out to reconoiter round and find a good place for her to board and take good care on her. He thought enough on her--yes, indeed.

But, as he said, she wuz jest struck right down seemin'ly with her grief at the loss of them two old folks.

You see, if your head has been a-restin' for some time on a piller, even if it is a piller of stun, when it is drawed out sudden from under you, your head jars down on the ground dretful heavy and hard.

And when you've been carryin' a burden for a long time, when it is took sudden from you you have a giddy feelin', you feel light and faint and wobblin'.

And then she loved 'em--she loved her poor old charges with a daughter's love and with all the love a mother gives to a helpless baby, with the pity added that gray hairs and toothless gums must amount to added up over the sum of dimples and ivory and coral that makes up a baby's beautiful helplessness.

And they wuz took from her dretful sudden. There wuz a sort of a influenza prevailin' up round their way, and lots of strong healthy folks suckumbed to it, and it struck onto these poor old feeble ones some like simiters, and mowed 'em right down.

The old lady wuz took down first, and her great anxiety wuz--"That Pa shouldn't know that she wuz so sick."

But before she died, "Pa" in another room wuz took with it, and passed away a day before she did.

She worried all that mornin' about "Pa," and--"How bad he would feel if he knew she wuz so sick!" But along late in the afternoon, when the Winter sun wuz makin' a pale reflection on the wall through the south winder, she looked up, and sez she--

"Why, there stands Pa right by my bed, and he wants me to git up and go with him. And, Isabelle, I must go."

And she did.

(Illustration: "Why, there stands Pa, and he wants me to git up and go with him.")


And Isabelle wuz left alone.

They wuz buried in one grave. And the funeral sermon, they say, wuz enough to melt a stun, if there had been any stuns round where they could hear it.

Isabelle didn't hear it (don't git the idee that I am a-wantin' to compare her to a stun; no, fur from it). She wuz a-layin' to home on a bed, with her sad eyes bent on nothin'ess and emptiness and utter desolation, so it seemed to her.

But after a time she begun to pick up a little, judgin' from her letters to her brother Krit. He had to leave her jest after the funeral on account of his business; for, civil as it wuz, it had to be tended to.

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