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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSamantha At The World's Fair - Chapter 5
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Samantha At The World's Fair - Chapter 5 Post by :oukhanova Category :Long Stories Author :Marietta Holley Date :May 2012 Read :3276

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Samantha At The World's Fair - Chapter 5

CHAPTER V

Hain't it curious how tellin' over a thing will bring back all of the circumstances a-surroundin' of it round--bring 'em all up fresh to you.

I wuz a-tellin' Krit about that Equinomical Counsel that wuz held to Washington, D.C. And though I hain't no hand and never wuz to find one word of fault with my dear companion to outsiders, still, as he wuz all in the family, I did say that his Uncle wuz at one time very anxious to go to it.

And after Krit went away--he had come over from Tirzah Ann's that day, and staid to supper with us--I sot there alone, for Josiah had took him back in the democrat, and all the circumstances of that time come back onto me agin.

It wuz on a Monday that I had my worst trial with him about that Equinomical Counsel, as I remember well. And though I didn't tell Krit any of my worst tribulations with him, still, oh, how vivid they did come back to me, as I sot there alone, and a-seamin' two and two!

As I say, it wuz on a Monday morning. The two children had invited their Pa and me to visit a good deal durin' the week before, and I had got kind a behindhand with my work.

And then I had felt so kinder mauger for a few days, that Josiah insisted that I should git a young girl in the neighborhood to help me for a few days, Philury and Ury bein' away on a visit to some relations.

Wall, that day I had washin', bakin', churnin', and some fruit cake to make.

It fairly made me ache to think on't, the numbers and amounts of the work that pressed onto me, and nobody but that young girl to help me. And she that took up with her bo, Almanzo Hagidone, that she wuz in a forgitful state more'n half the time, and liable to carry a armful of wood meant for the kitchen stove into the parlor, and put it end first onto the what-not, or pump water into Josiah's hat instead of the water-pail.

I tried to instil some common sense into her head, but her hair wuz bound up that tight with curl papers that nothin' could git past that ambuscade, so it would seem, but jest the image and the idee of Almanzo Hagidone.

Wall, I kep her pretty much in the wood-shed, when she wuz in her worst stages, where there wuzn't much besides the old cook-stove and wash-tubs that she could graze aginst and fall over.

I dast as well die as to trust her with vittles, for I felt that them wuz vital pints, and must not be meddled with by loonaticks or idiots, and with them two ranks I had to stand Mary Ann Spink in her most love-sick spazzums.

So I sot her to rubbin' onto Josiah's shirts, and I took my bowl of raisins and English currants and things into the kitchen and sot down calmly to pickin' 'em over and choppin' 'em.

My fruit cake is good, though I say it that ort not to; it is widely known and admired.

Wall, I sot there middlin' calm, and a-hummin' over a sam tune loud enough so's Mary Ann could hear it; and I hummed it, too, in a strictly moral way, and for a pattern; it was this:


"Put not your trust in mortal man,
Set not your hopes on him," etc., etc., etc.


And I see I wuz impressin' of her, for I could hear after a while from the wood-shed that she too had broke forth in song, and she was a-jinin' in, low and dretful impressive, with--

"Hark from the tombs a mournful sound."

I don't think she meant my singin'--Josiah did when we talked it over afterwards.

He believed it firm.

I believe I wuz a-moralizin' of her, and should have done good if I hadn't been broke in on.

But all of a sudden Josiah Allen fairly bust into the house, all wrought up, and fearful excited.

He had been a-talkin' with Deacon Henzy out by the gate, and I spoze Deacon Henzy had disseminated some new news to him. But anyway he wuz crazy with a wild and startlin' idee.

(Illustration: A-talkin' with Deacon Henzy.)

He wanted to set off to once to the Equinomical Counsel, which he said wuz a-goin' to be held by the male Methodists in Washington, D.C. And, sez he--

"Samantha, git my fine shirt and my best necktie to once, for I want to start on the noon train."

"What for?" sez I coldly; for I discourage his wild projects all I can.

I have to act like a heavy weight in a clock movin' half the time, or he would be jest swept to and frow like a pendulum. It makes me feel queer.

Sez I, "What are you a-layin' out to set off for Washington, D.C., for?"

My tone kinder hung on to him, and stiddied him down some. And he lost some of his wild and excited mean. And he stopped onbuttonin' his vest--he had onbuttoned his shirt-collar and took his old necktie off on his way from the gate--so ardent and impulsive is my dear pardner, and so anxious to start.

"Why," sez he, "I told you, didn't I? I am goin' to Washington to tend to that Equinomical Counsel. Five hundred male men are a-goin' to git together to counsel together on the best ways of bein' equinomical. And here at last"--sez he proudly--"here at last is the chance I have always been a-lookin' out for. Here is the opportunity for me to show off, and be somebody."

And here he begun agin to onbutton his shirt-sleeves and loosen his collar.

But I sez slowly and firmly, and as much like a heavy weight as I could--

"It is three hours to train time. Set down and act like a human bein' and a Methodist, and tell me what it is you want to do."

He glanced up at the clock onto the mantelry-piece, and he see I wuz right about the time. And he sot down, and sez he--

"That is jest how I want to act, like a Methodist, and a equinomical counsellor."

"What for?" sez I. "What do you want to do?"

"Why, to teach 'em," sez he. "To show myself off. To counsel 'em."

"To counsel 'em about what?" sez I heavily, bein' bound to come to the bottom of the matter, and the sense on't, if sense there wuz in it.

"Why," sez he, "they are havin' a counsel there to see if there are any new ways for men and Methodists to be equinomical. And I'll be dumned if there is a man or a Methodist from Maine to Florida that can counsel 'em better about bein' equinomical than I can.

"Why, you have always said so," sez he. "You have called it tightness, but I have always known that it wuz pure economy; and now," sez he, "has come the chance of a lifetime, for me to rise up and show myself off before the nation. To git the high, lofty name that I ort to have, and do good."

I dropped my choppin' knife out of my hand, and rested my elbow on the table, and leaned my head on my hand in deep thought.

I see he had more sense on his side than I thought he had. I recollected the different and various ways in which he had showed his equinomical tightness sence our married life begun, and I trembled for the result.

I ruminated over our early married life, and how, in spite of his words of almost impassioned tenderness and onwillingness for me to harm and strain myself by approachin' the political pole--still how he had let me wrestle with weighty hop-poles and draw water out of a deep well with a cistern pole for more'n fourteen years.

I remembered how he had nearly flooded out his own precious and valuable insides at Saratoga by his wild efforts to git the full worth of the five cents he had advanced to the Spring-tender.

I remembered the widder's mite, how he had interpreted that scriptural incident about that noble female--as interpreters will, to suit their own idees as males--and how I had argued with him in vain on the mite, and his onscriptural and equinomical views.

I felt that he had a strong and powerful case; and though I could not brook the idee of his goin', still I thought that I must be as wise as a serpent and as harmless as a turkle-dove, to git the victory over him.

He see by the fluckuations of color on my usially calm cheek, and by the pensive and thoughtful look in my two gray orbs, that I felt the strength and powerfulness of his cause.

And as he mused, he begun in joyous and triumphant axents to bring up before me some of his latest and most striking instances of equinomical tightness.

Sez he, "Do you remember the case of Sy Biddlecomb, and them green pumpkins of mine, how I--" But I interrupted his almost fervid eloquence, and sez I, with my right hand extended in a real eloquent wave,

"Pause, Josiah Allen, and less consider and weigh things in the balances. Go not too fast, less disapintment attend your efforts, and mortification wrops you in its mantilly.

"Your equinomical ways, Josiah Allen," sez I, "it seems to me ort to rize you up above every other man on the face of the globe, and make a lion of you of the first magnitude, even a roarin' African lion, as it were."

He looked proud and happy, and I proceeded.

"But pause for one moment," sez I, in tender, cautious axents, "and think of the power, the tremendious econimy of the males you are a-tryin' to emulate and outdo. Think of how they have dealt with the cause of wimmen's liberty for the past few years, and tremble. How dast you, one weak man, though highly versed in the ways of equinomical tightness--how dast you to try and set up and be anybody amid that host?"

He looked skairt. He see what he wuz a-doin' plainer than he had seen it, and I went on:

"Think of that big Methodist Conference in New York a few years ago that Casper Keeler told us about--think how equinomical they wuz with their dealin's with wimmen on that occasion, and ever sence.

"The wimmen full of good doin's and alms deeds, who make up two thirds of the church, who raise the minister's salary, run the missionary and temperance societies, teach the Sabbath schools, etc., etc., etc.--

"Who give the best of their lives and thoughts to the meetin'-house from the time they sell button-hole bokays at church fairs in pantalettes, till they hand in their widder's mite with tremblin' fingers wrinkled with age--think of this econimy in not givin' in, not givin' a mite of justice and right to the hull caboodle of such wimmen throughout the length and breadth of the country, and then think where would your very closest and tightest counsel of econimy stand by the side of this econimy of right, and manliness, and honor, and common sense."

He quailed. His head sunk on his breast. He knew, tight as he had always been, there wuz a height of tightness he had never scaled. He knew he couldn't show off at that Equinomical Counsel by the side of them instances I had brung up, and to deepen the impression I had made, which is always the effort of the great oriter, I resoomed:

"Think of how they keep up their econimy of justice, and right, and common sense, so afraid to use a speck of 'em, especially the common sense. Think of how they refused to let wimmen set down meekly in a humble pew, and say 'Yea' in a still small voice as a delegate, so 'fraid that it wuz outstrippin' wimmen's proper spear--when these very ministers have been proud to open their very biggest meetin'-housen to wimmen, and let 'em teach 'em to be eloquent--let wimmen speak words of help and wisdom from their highest pulpits.

"Think of this instance of their equinomical doin's," sez I, "and tremble. And," sez I, still more impressively and eloquently, "what is pumpkins by the side of that?"

His head sunk down lower, and lower. He wuz dumbfoundered to think he had been outdone in his most vital parts, his most tightest ways. He felt truly that even if they would listen to his equinomical counsels, they didn't need 'em.

He looked pitiful and meek, and sot demute for a couple of minutes. I see that I had convinced him about the Equinomical Counsel; he see that it wouldn't do, and he wouldn't make no more show than a underlin'.

But anon, or about that time, he spoke out in pitiful axents--

"Samantha, if I can't show off any at the Equinomical Counsel, I'd love to see them male law-makers a-settin' in the Capitol at Washington, D.C. I'd love to mingle with 'em, Samantha. You know, and I know, too, that I am one of 'em. Wuzn't I chose arbitrator in Seth Meezik's quarrel with his father-in-law? Hain't I sot on juries in the past, and hain't I liable to set?

"I want to see them male law-makers, Samantha. I want to be intimate with 'em."

I almost trembled. I can withstand my pardner's angry or excited moods, but here I see pleadin' and longin'; I see I had a hard job in front of me. I hate to dissapint him. I hate to, like a dog. But duty nerved me, and I sez--

"Josiah, less talk it over before you decide to go. Less bring up some of the laws them males have made, or allow to go on.

"I want to talk to you about 'em, Josiah," sez I, "before I let you depart to be intimate with 'em." Sez I, "Do you remember the old adage, a dog is known by the company he keeps? Before you go to be one of them dogs, Josiah Allen, and be known as one of 'em, less recall some of the lawful incidents of a few months back." Sez I, "We won't raise our skirts and wade back into history to any great depth, and hove out a large quantity of 'em, but will keep in the shaller water of a few short fleetin' months, and pick up one or two of the innumerable number of 'em; and then, if you want to go, why--" sez I, in the tremblin' axents of fond affection--"why, I will pack your saddle-bags."

Then I went on calmly and brung up a few laws and laid 'em down before him.

I brung up the Indians doin's, the Mormons, the Chinese, all on 'em flagrant.

But still he had that longin' look on his face.

Then I brung up the rotten political doin's, the unjust laws prevailin' in regard to female wimmen, and also the onrighteousness of the liquor laws and the abomination of the license question; I talked powerful and eloquent on them awful themes, but as I paused a minute for needed breath, he murmured--

"I want to be intimate with 'em, Samantha."

And then, bein' almost at my wits' end, I dropped the general miscellaneous way I had used, and begun to bring up little separate instances of the injustices of the Law. And I see he begun to be impressed.

How true it is that, from the Bible down to Josiah Allen's Wife, you have to talk in stories in order to impress the masses! You have to hold up the hammer of a personal incident to drive home the nail of Truth and have it clench and hold fast.

But mine wuz some different--mine wuz facts, every one of 'em.

I could have brung them to that man and laid 'em down in front of him from that time, almost half past ten a.m., and kep stiddy at it till ten p.m., and then not know that I had took any from the heap, so high and lofty is the stack of injustices and wrongs committed in the name of the Law and shielded by its mantilly.

But I had only brung up two, jest two of 'em; not the most flagrant ones either, but the first ones that come into my mind, jest as it is when you go to a pile of potatoes to git some for dinner, you take the first ones you come to, knowin' there is fur bigger ones in the pile.

But them potatoes smashed up with cream and butter are jest as satisfyin' as if they wuz bigger.

So these little truthful incidents laid down in front of my pardner convinced him; so they wuz jest as good for me to use as if I had picked out bigger and more flagranter ones.

I first brung up before him the case of the good little Christian school-teacher who had toiled for years at her hard work and laid up a little money, and finally married a sick young feller more'n half out of pity, for he hadn't a cent of money, and had the consumption, and took good care of him till he died.

And wantin' to humor him, she let him make his will, though he didn't so much as own the sheet of paper he wrote on, or the ink or the pen.

And after his death she found he had willed away their onborn child, and when it wuz a few months old, and her love had sent out its strong shoots, and wropped the little life completely round, his brother she had never seen come on from his distant home and took that baby right out of its mother's arms, and bore it off, accordin' to law.

I looked curiously at him as I concluded this true tale, but he murmured almost mechanically--

"I want to mingle with 'em, Samantha; I feel that I want to be intimate with 'em."

But his axent wuz weak, weak as a cat, and I felt that my efforts wuz not bein' throwed away. So I hurriedly laid holt of another true incident that I thought on, and hauled it up in front of him.

"Think of the case of the pretty Chinese girl of twelve years--jest the age of our Tirzah Ann, when you used to be a-holdin' her on your knee, and learnin' her the Sunday-school lesson, and both on us a-kissin' her, and a-brushin' back her hair from her sweet May-day face, and a-pettin' her, and a-holdin' her safe in our heart of hearts.

"Jest think of that little girl bein' sold for a slave by her rich male father, and brought to San Francisco, the home of the brave and the free, and there put into a place which she thought wuz fur worse than the bottomless pit--for that she considered wuz jest clean brimstone, and despair, and vapory demons.

"But this child, with five or six other wimmen, wuz put into a sickenin' den polluted with every crime, and subject to the brutal passions of a crowd of live, dirty human devils.

"And when, half dead from her dreadful life, she ran away at the peril of her life, and wuz taken in by a charitable woman, and nursed back to life and sanity agin.

"The law took that baby out of that safe refuge, and give her back into the hands of her brutal master--took her back, knowin' the life she would be compelled to lead.

"Think if it wuz our Tirzah Ann, Josiah Allen!"

"Dum the dum fools!" sez he, a chokin' some, and then he pulled out his bandanna handkerchief and busted right out a-cryin' onto it.

(Illustration: "Dum 'em, I say!")

"Dum 'em, I say!" sez he, out of its red and yeller depths. "I'd love to skin the hull on 'em, Judge and Jury."

And I sez meanin'ly, "Now, do you want to go and be intimate with them law-makers, Josiah Allen?"

"No," sez he, a-wipin' his eyes and a-lookin' mad, "no, I don't! I want sunthin' to eat!"

And I riz up imegatly, and got a good dinner--a extra good one. And he never said another word about goin' to Washington, D.C.

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