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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesSamantha At The World's Fair - Chapter 7
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Samantha At The World's Fair - Chapter 7 Post by :oukhanova Category :Long Stories Author :Marietta Holley Date :May 2012 Read :2865

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Samantha At The World's Fair - Chapter 7

CHAPTER VII

Christopher Columbus Allen got along splendid with his railroad business, and by the time the rest of us wuz ready for the World's Fair, he wuz.

We didn't have so many preparations to make as we would in other circumstances, for Ury and Philury wuz goin' to move right into our house, and do for it jest as well as we would do for ourselves.

They had done this durin' other towers that we had gone off on, and never had we found our confidence misplaced, or so much as a towel or a dish-cloth missin'.

We have always done well by them while they wuz workin' for us by the week or on shares, and they have always jest turned right round and done well by us.

Thomas Jefferson and Maggie went with us. Tirzah Ann and Whitfield wuzn't quite ready to go when we did, but they wuz a-comin' later, when Tirzah Ann had got all her preperations made--her own dresses done, and Whitfield's night-shirts embroidered, and her stockin's knit.

I love Tirzah Ann. But I can't help seein' that she duz lots of things that hain't neccessary.

Now it wuzn't neccessary for her to have eleven new dresses made a purpose to go to the World's Fair, and three white aprons all worked off round the bibs and pockets.

Good land! what would she want of aprons there in that crowd? And she no need to had six new complete suits of under-clothes made, all trimmed off elaborate with tattin' and home-made edgin' before she went. And it wuzn't neccessary for her to knit two pairs of open-work stockin's with fine spool thread.

I sez to her, "Tirzah Ann, why don't you buy your stockin's? You can git good ones for twenty cents. And," sez I, "these will take you weeks and weeks to knit, besides bein' expensive in thread."

But she said "she couldn't find such nice ones to the store--she couldn't find shell-work."

"Then," sez I, "I shall go without shell-work."

But she said, "They wuz dretful ornamental to the foot, specially to the instep, and she shouldn't want to go without 'em."

"But," sez I, "who is a-goin' to see your instep? You hain't a-goin' round in that crowd with slips on, be you?"

"No," she said, "she didn't spoze she should, but she should feel better to know that she had on nice stockin's, if there didn't anybody see 'em."

And I thought to myself that I should ruther be upheld by my principles than the consciousness of shell-work stockin's. But I didn't say so right out. I see that she wouldn't give up the idee.

And besides the stockin's, which wuz goin' to devour a fearful amount of time, she had got to embroider three night-shirts for Whitfield with fine linen floss.

Then I argued with her agin. Sez I, "Good land! I don't believe that Christopher Columbus ever had any embroidered night-shirts." Sez I, "If he had waited to have them embroidered, and shell-work stockin's knit, we might have not been discovered to this day. But," sez I, "good, sensible creeter, he knew better than to do it when he had everything else on his hands. And," sez I, "with all your housework to do--and hot weather a-comin' on--I don't see how you are a-goin' to git 'em all done and git to the Fair."

And she said, "She had ruther come late, prepared, than to go early with everything at loose ends."

"But," sez I, "good plain sensible night-shirts and Lyle-thread stockin's hain't loose--they hain't so loose as them you are knittin'."

But I see that I couldn't break it up, so I desisted in my efforts.

Maggie, though she is only my daughter-in-law, takes after me more in a good many things than Tirzah Ann duz, who is my own step-daughter. Curious, but so it is.

Now, she and I felt jest alike in this.

Who--who wuz a-goin' to notice what you had on to the World's Fair; and providin' we wuz clean and hull, and respectable-lookin', who wuz a-goin' to know or care whether our stockin's wuz open work or plain knittin'?

There, with all the wonder and glory of the hull world spread out before our eyes, and the hull world there a-lookin' at it, a-gazin' at strange people, strange customs, strange treasures and curiosities from every land under the sun--wonders of the earth and wonders of the sea, marvels of genius and invention, and marvels of grandeur and glory, of Art and Nature, and the hull world a-lookin' on, and a-marvellin' at 'em. And then to suppose that anybody would be a-lookin' out for shell-work stockin's, a-carin' whether they wuz clam-shell pattern, or oyster shell.

The idee!

That is the way Maggie and I felt; why, if you'll believe it, that sweet little creeter never took but one dress with her, besides a old wrapper to put on mornin's. She took a good plain black silk dress, with two waists to it--a thick one for cool days and a thin one for hot days--and some under-clothes, and some old shoes that didn't hurt her feet, and looked decent. And there she wuz all ready.

She never bought a thing, I don't believe, not one. You wouldn't ketch her waitin' to embroider night-shirts for Thomas Jefferson--no, indeed! She felt jest as I did. What would the Christopher Columbus World's Fair care for the particular make of Thomas J's night-shirts? That had bigger things on its old mind than to stop and admire a particular posey or runnin' vine worked on a man's nightly bosom. Yes, indeed!

But Tirzah Ann felt jest that way, and I couldn't make her over at that late day, even if I had time to tackle the job. She took it honest--it come onto her from her Pa.

The preperations that man would have made if he had had his head would have outdone Tirzah Ann's, and that is sayin' enough, and more'n enough.

And the size of the shoes that man would have sot out with if he had been left alone would have been a shame and a disgrace to the name of decency as long as the world stands.

Why, his feet would have been two smokin' sacrifices laid on the altar of corns and bunions. Yes, indeed! But I broke it up.

I sez, "Do you lay out and calculate to hobble round in that pair of leather vises and toe-screws," sez I, "when you have got to be on foot from mornin' till night, day after day? Why under the sun don't you wear your good old leather shoes, and feel comfortable?"

And he said (true father of Tirzah Ann), "He wuz afraid it would make talk."

(Illustration: "Leather vises and toe-screws.")

Sez I, "The idee of the World's Fair, with all it has got on its mind, a noticin' or carin' whether you had on shoes or went barefoot! But if you are afraid of talk," sez I, "I guess that it would make full as much talk to see you a-goin' round a-groanin' and a-cryin' out loud. And that is what them shoes would bring you to," sez I.

"Now," sez I, "you jest do them shoes right up and carry 'em back to the store, and if you have got to have a new pair, git some that will be more becomin' to a human creeter, let alone a class-leader, and a perfessor, and a grandfather."

So at last I prevailed--he a-forebodin' to the very last that it would make talk to see him in such shoes. But he got a pair that wuzn't more'n one size too small for him, and I presumed to think they would stretch some. And, anyway, I laid out to put his good, roomy old gaiters in my own trunk, so he could have a paneky to fall back on, and to soothe.

As for myself, I took my old slips, that had been my faithful companions for over two years, and a pair of good big roomy bootees.

I never bought nothin' new for any of my feet, not even a shoe-string. And the only new thing that I bought, anyway, wuz a new muslin night-cap with a lace ruffle.

I bought that, and I spoze vanity and pride wuz to the bottom of it. I feel my own shortcomin's, I feel 'em deep, and try to repent, every now and then, I do.

But I did think in my own mind that in case of fire, and I knew that Chicago wuz a great case for burnin' itself up--I thought in case of fire in the night I wouldn't want to be ketched with a plain sheep's-head night-cap on, which, though comfortable, and my choice for stiddy wear, hain't beautiful.

And I thought if there wuz a fire, and I wuz to be depictered in the newspapers as a-bein' rescued, I did feel a little pride in havin' a becomin' night-cap on, and not bein' engraved with a sheep's head on.

Thinks'es I, the pictures in the newspapers are enough to bring on the cold chills onto anybody, even if took bareheaded, and what--what would be the horror of 'em took in a sheep's head!

There it wuz, there is my own weakness sot right down in black and white. But, anyway, it only cost thirty-five cents, and there wuzn't nothin' painful about it, like Josiah's shoes, nor protracted, like Tirzah Ann's stockin's.

Wall, Ury and Philury moved in the day before, and Josiah and I left in the very best of sperits and on the ten o'clock train, Maggie and Thomas Jefferson and Krit a-meetin' us to the depot.

Maggie looked as pretty as a pink, if she didn't make no preperations. She had on her plain waist, black silk, and a little black velvet turban, and she had pinned a bunch of fresh rosies to her waist, and the rosies wuzn't any pinker than her pretty cheeks and lips, and the dew that had fell into them roses' hearts that night wuzn't any brighter than her sweet gray eyes.

She makes a beautiful woman, Maggie Allen duz; and she ort to, to correspond with her husband, for my boy, Thomas Jefferson, is a young man of a thousand, and it is admitted that he is by all the Jonesvillians--nearly every villian of 'em admits it.

Tirzah Ann and the babe wuz to the depot to see us off, and she said that she should come on jest as soon as she got through with her preperations.

But I felt dubersome about her comin' very soon, for she took out her knittin' work (we had to wait quite a good while for the cars), and I see that she hadn't got the first one only to the instep.

It is slow knittin'--shells are dretful slow anyway--and she wuz too proud sperited to have 'em plain clam-shell pattern, which are bigger and coarser; she had to have 'em oyster-shell pattern, in ridges.

Wall, as I say, I felt dubersome, but I spoke up cheerful on the outside--

"If you git your stockin's done, Tirzah Ann, you must be sure and come."

And she said she would.

The way she said it wuz: "One, two, three, four, yes, mother; five, six, seven, I will."

She had to count every shell from top to toe of 'em, which made it hard and wearin' both for her and them she wuz conversin' with.

Why, they do say--it come to me straight, too--that Whitfield got that wore out with them oyster-shell stockin's that he won't look at a oyster sence--he used to be devoted to 'em, raw or cooked; but they say that you can't git him to look at one sence the stockin' episode, specially scolloped ones.

No, he sez "that he has had enough oysters for a lifetime."

Poor fellow! I pity him. I know what them actions of hern is; hain't I suffered from the one she took 'em from?

But to resoom, and continue on.

Miss Gowdey come to the depot to see me off, and so did Miss Bobbet and the Widder Pooler.

Miss Gowdey wuz a-comin' to the World's Fair as soon as she made her rag-carpet for her summer kitchen; she said "she wouldn't go off and leave her work ondone, and she hadn't got more'n half of the rags cut, and she hadn't colored butnut yet, nor copperas; she would not leave her house a-sufferin' and her rags oncut."

I thought she looked sort o' reprovin' at me, for she knew that I had a carpet begun.

But I spoke up, and sez, "Truly rags will be always here with us, and most likely butnut and copperas; but the World's Fair comes but once in a lifetime, and I believe in embracin' it now, and makin' the most of it." Sez I, "We can embrace rags at any time."

"Wall," she said, "she couldn't take no comfort with the memory of things ondone a-weighin' down on her." She said "some folks wuz different," and she looked clost at me as she said it. "Some folks could go off on towers and be happy with the thought of rags oncut and warp oncolored, or spooled, or anything. But she wuzn't one of 'em; she could not, and would not, take comfort with things ondone on her mind."

And I sez, "If folks don't take any comfort with the memories of things ondone on 'em, I guess that there wouldn't be much comfort took, for, do the best we can in this world, we have to leave some things ondone. We can't do everything."

"Wall," she said, "she should, never should, go off on towers till everything wuz done."

And agin I sez, "It is hard to git everything done, and if folks waited for them circumstances, I guess there wouldn't be many towers gone off on."

But she didn't give in, nor I nuther. But jest then Miss Bobbet spoke up, and said, "She laid out to go to the World's Fair--she wouldn't miss it for anything; it wuz the oppurtunity of a lifetime for education and pleasure; but she wuz a-goin' to finish that borrow-and-lend bedquilt of hern before she started a step. And then the woodwork had got to be painted all over the house, and _he was so busy with his spring's work that she had got to do it herself."

And I sez, "Couldn't you let those things be till you come back?"

And she said, "She couldn't, for she mistrusted she would be all beat out, and wouldn't feel like it when she got back; paintin' wuz hard work, and so wuz piecin' up."

And I sez, "Then you had ruther go there all tired out, had you?" sez I. "Seems to me I had ruther go to the World's Fair fresh and strong, and ready to learn and enjoy, even if I let my borrow-and-lend bedquilt go till another year. For," sez I, "bedquilts will be protracted fur beyend the time of seein' the World's Fair--and I believe in livin' up to my priveleges."

And she said, "That she wouldn't want to put it off, for it had been a-layin' round for several years, and she felt that she wouldn't go away so fur from home, and leave it onfinished."

And I see that it wouldn't do any good to argy with her. Her mind wuz made up.

Miss Pooler said, "That she wuz a-goin' to the Fair, and a-goin' in good season, too. She wouldn't miss it for anything in the livin' world. But she had got to make a visit all round to his relations and hern before she went. And," sez she, a-lookin' sort o' reproachful at me,

"I should have thought you would have felt like goin' round and payin' 'em all a visit, on both of your sides, before you went," sez she. "They would have felt better; and I feel like doin' everything I can to please the relations."

And I told Miss Pooler--"That I never expected to see the day that I hadn't plenty of relations on my side and on hisen, but I never expected to see another Christopher Columbus World's Fair, and I had ruther spend my time now with Christopher than with them on either side, spozin' they would keep."

But Miss Pooler said, "She had always felt like doin' all in her power to show respect to the relations on both sides, and make 'em happy. And she felt that, in case of anything happenin', she would feel better to know she had made 'em all a last visit before it happened."

"What I am afraid will happen, Miss Pooler," sez I, "is that you won't git to the World's Fair at all, for they are numerous on both sides, and widespread," sez I. "It will take sights and sights of time for you to go clear round."

But I see that she wuz determined to have her way, and I didn't labor no more with her.

And I might as well tell it right here, as any time--she never got to the World's Fair at all. For while she wuz a-payin' a last visit previous to her departure, she wuz took down bed-sick for three weeks. And the Fair bein' at that time on its last leglets, as you may say, it had took her so long to go the rounds--the Fair broke up before she got up agin.

Miss Pooler felt awful about it, so they say; it wuz such a dretful disapintment to her that they had to watch her for some time, she wuz that melancholy about it, and depressted, that they didn't know what she would be led to do to herself.

And besides her own affliction about the Fair, and the trouble she gin her own folks a-watchin' her for months afterwards, she got 'em mad at her on both sides. Seven different wimmen she kep to home, jest as they wuz a-startin' for the Fair, and belated 'em.

Eleven of the relations on her side and on hisen hain't spoke to her sence. And the family where she wuz took sick on their hands talked hard of suin' her for damage. For they wuz real smart folks, and had been makin' their calculations for over three years to go to the Fair, and had lotted on it day and night, and through her sickness they wuz kep to home, and didn't go to it at all.

But to resoom.

Jest as I turned round from Miss Pooler, I see Miss Solomon Stebbins and Arvilly Lanfear come in the depot.

Arvilly come to bid me good-bye, and Miss Stebbins wuz with her, and so she come in too.

Arvilly said, "That she should be in Chicago to that World's Fair, if her life wuz spared." She said, "That she wouldn't miss bein' in the place where wimmen wuz made sunthin' of, and had sunthin' to say for themselves, not for ontold wealth."

She said, "That she jest hankered after seein' one woman made out of pure silver--and then that other woman sixty-five feet tall; she said it would do her soul good to see men look up to her, and they have got to look up to her if they see her at all, for she said that it stood to reason that there wuzn't goin' to be men there sixty-five feet high.

"And then that temple there in Chicago, dreamed out and built by a woman--the nicest office buildin' in the world! jest think of that--_in the World_. And a woman to the bottom of it, and to the top too. Why," sez Arville, "I wouldn't miss the chance of seein' wimmen swing right out, and act as if their souls wuz their own, not for the mines of Golconda." Sez she, "More than a dozen wimmen have told me this week they wanted to go; but they wuzn't able. But I sez to 'em, I'm able to go, and I'm a-goin'--I am goin' afoot."

"Why, Arvilly," sez I, "you hain't a-goin' to Chicago a-walkin' afoot!"

(Illustration: "Why, Arvilly!")

"Yes, I be a-goin' to Chicago a-walkin' afoot, and I am goin' to start next Monday mornin'."

"Why'ee!" sez I, "you mustn't do it; you must let me lend you some money."

"No, mom; much obliged jest the same, but I am a-goin' to canvass my way there. I am goin' to sell the 'Wild, Wicked, and Warlike Deeds of Man.' I calculate to make money enough to get me there and ride some of the way, and take care of me while I am there; I may tackle some other book or article to sell. But I am goin' to branch out on that, and I am goin' to have a good time, too."

(Illustration: "No, mom; much obliged jest the same.")

Miss Stebbins said, "She wanted to go, and calculated to, but she wanted to finish that croshay lap-robe before snow fell."

"Wall," sez I, "snow hain't a-goin' to fall very soon now, early in the Spring so."

"Wall," she said, "that it wuz such tryin' work for the eyes, she wouldn't leave it for nothin' till she got back, for she mistrusted that she should feel kind o' mauger and wore out. And then," she said, "she had got to make a dozen fine shirts for Solomon, so's to leave him comfortable while she wuz gone, and the children three suits apiece all round."

Sez I, "How long do you lay out to be gone?"

"About two weeks," she said.

And I told her, "That it didn't seem as if he would need so many shirts for so short a time."

But she said, "She should feel more relieved to have 'em done."

So I wouldn't say no more to break it up. For it is fur from me to want to diminish any female's relief.

And the cars tooted jest then, so I didn't have no more time to multiply words with her anyway.

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