Samantha Among The Bretheren

Marietta Holley

Chapter 8


For two weeks had passed away like a nite mair of the nite - and three weeks, and four weeks - and she didn't seem to be no nigher goin' than she did when she came.

And I would not make a move towards gettin' rid of her, not if I had dropped down in my tracts, because she wuz one of the relatives on his side.

But I wuz completely fagged out; it did seem, as I told Tirzah Ann one day in confidence, "that I never knew the meanin' of the word 'fag' before."

And Tirzah Ann told me (she couldn't bear her) that if she wuz in my place, she would start her off. Sez she:

"She has plenty of brothers and sisters, and a home of her own, and why should she come here to torment you and father;" and sez she, "I'll talk to her, mother, I'd jest as leve as not." Sez I, "Tirzah Ann, if you say a word to her, I'll - I'll never put confidence in you agin;" sez I, "Life is full of tribulations, and we must expect to bear our crosses;" sez I, "The old martyrs went through more than Lodema."

Sez Tirzah Ann, "I believe Lodema would have wore out John Rogers."

And I don't know but she would, but I didn't encourage her by ownin' it up that she would; but I declare for't, I believe she would have been more tegus than the nine children, and the one at the breast, any way.

Wall, as I said, it wuz durin' the fifth week that Josiah Allen turned right round, and used her first rate.

And when she would talk before folks about how much filial affection she had for him, and about his always havin' been jest like a parent to her, and everything of the kind - he never talked back a mite, but looked clever, and told me in confidence, "That he had turned over a new leaf, and he wuz goin' to surprise her - give her a happy surprise."

And he seemed, instead of lovin' to rile her up, as he had, to jest put his hull mind on the idee of the joyful surprise.

Wall, I am always afraid (with reason) of Josiah Allen's enterprizes. But do all I could, he wouldn't tell me one word about what he wuz goin' to do, only he kep it up, kep a-sayin' that,

"It wuz somethin' I couldn't help approvin' of, and it wuz somethin' that would happify me, and be a solid comfort to her, and a great gain and honor."

So (though I trembled some for the result) I had to let it go on, for she wuz one of the relations on his own side, and I knew it wouldn't do for me to interfere too much, and meddle.

Why, he did come right out one day and give hints to me to that effect.

Sez I, "Why do you go on and be so secret about it? Why don't you tell your companion all about it, what you are a-goin' to do, and advise with her?"

And he sez, "I guess I know what I am about. She is one of the relations on my side, and I guess I have got a few rights left, and a little spunk."

"Yes," sez I, sadly, "you have got the spunk."

"Wall," sez he, "I guess I can spunk up, and do somethin' for one of my own relations, without any interference or any advice from any of the Smith family, or anybody else."

Sez I, "I don't want to stop your doin' all you can for Lodema, but why not tell what you are a-goin' to do?"

"It will be time enough when the time comes," sez he. "You will find it out in the course of next week."

Wall, it run along to the middle of the next week. And one day I had jest sot down to tie off a comforter.

It wuz unbleached cheese cloth that I had bought and colored with tea leaves. It wuz a sort of a light mice color, a pretty soft gray, and I wuz goin' to tie it in with little balls of red zephyr woosted, and work it in buttonhole stitch round the edge with the same.

It wuz fur our bed, Josiah's and mine, and it wuz goin' to be soft and warm and very pretty, though I say it, that shouldn't.

[Illustration: "I HAD JEST SOT DOWN TO TIE OFF A COMFORTER."]

It wuzn't quite so pretty as them that hain't colored. I had 'em for my spare beds, cream color tied with pale blue and pink, that wuz perfectly beautiful and very dressy; but I thought for everyday use a colored one would be better.

Wall, I had brought it out and wuz jest a-goin' to put it onto the frames (some new-fashioned ones I had borrowed from Tirzah Ann for the occasion).

And Cousin Lodema had jest observed, "that the new-fashioned frames with legs wuzn't good for nothin', and she didn't like the color of gray, it looked too melancholy, and would be apt to depress our feelin's too much, and would be tryin' to our complexions."

And I told her "that I didn't spoze there would be a very great congregation in our bedroom, as a general thing in the dead of night, to see whether it wuz becomin' to Josiah and me or not. And, it bein' as dark as Egypt, our complexions wouldn't make a very bad show any way."

"Wall," she said, "to tie it with red wuzn't at all appropriate, it wuz too dressy a color for folks of our age, Josiah's and mine." "Why," sez she, "even I, at my age, would skurcely care to sleep under one so gay. And she wouldn't have a cheese cloth comforter any way." She sort o' stopped to ketch breath, and Josiah sez:

"Oh, wall, Lodema, a cheese cloth comforter is better than none, and I should think you would be jest the one to like any sort of a frame on legs."

But I wunk at him, a real severe and warnin' wink, and he stopped short off, for all the world as if he had forgot bein' on his good behavior; he stopped short off, and went right to behavin', and sez he to me:

"Don't put on your comforter to-day, Samantha, for Tirzah Ann and Whitfield and the babe are a-comin' over here bimeby, and Maggie is a-comin', and Thomas Jefferson."

"Wall," sez I, "that is a good reason why I should keep on with it; the girls can help me if I don't get it off before they get here."

And then he sez, "Miss Minkley is a-comin', too, and the Elder."

"Why'ee," sez I, "Josiah Allen, why didn't you tell me before, so I could have baked up somethin' nice? What a man you are to keep things; how long have you known it?"

"Oh, a week or so!"

"A week!" sez I; "Josiah Allen, where is your conscience? if you have got a conscience."

"In the same old place," sez he, kinder hittin' himself in the pit of his stomach.

"Wall, I should think as much," sez I.

And Lodema sez, sez she: "A man that won't tell things is of all creeters that walks the earth the most disagreeable. And I should think the girls, Maggie and Tirzah Ann, would want to stay to home and clean house such a day as this is. And I should think a Elder would want to stay to home so's to be on hand in case of anybody happenin' to be exercised in their minds, and wantin to talk to him on religious subjects. And if I wuz a Elder's wife, I should stay to home with him; I should think it wuz my duty and my privilege. And if I wuz a married woman, I would have enough baked up in the house all the time, so's not to be afraid of company."

But I didn't answer back. I jest sot away my frames, and went out and stirred up a cake; I had one kind by me, besides cookies and jell tarts.

But I felt real worked up to think I hadn't heard. Wall, I hadn't more'n got that cake fairly into the oven when the children come, and Elder Minkley and his wife. And I thought they looked queer, and I thought the Elder begun to tell me somethin', and I thought I see Josiah wink at him. But I wouldn't want to take my oath whether he wunk or not, but I thought he wunk.

I wuz jest a turnin' this over in my mind, and a carryin' away their things, when I glanced out of the settin' room winder, and lo, and behold! there wuz Abi Adsit a comin' up to the front door, and right behind her wuz her Pa and Ma Adsit, and Deacon Henzy and his wife, and Miss Henn and Metilda, and Lute Pitkins and his wife, and Miss Petengill, and Deacon Sypher and Drusilly, and Submit Tewksbury - a hull string of 'em as long as a procession.

Sez I, and I spoke it right out before I thought - sez I -

"Why'ee!" sez I. "For the land's sake!" sez I, "has there been a funeral, or anything? And are these the mourners?" sez I. "Are they stoppin' here to warm?"

For it wuz a cold day - and I repeated the words to myself mechanically as it wuz, as I see 'em file up the path.

"They be mourners, hain't they?"

"No," sez Josiah, who had come in and wuz a standin' by the side of me, as I spoke out to myself unbeknown to me - sez he in a proud axent -

"No, they hain't mourners, they are Happyfiers; they are Highlariers; they have come to our party. We are givin' a party, Samantha. We are havin' a diamond weddin' here for Lodema."

"A diamond weddin'!" I repeated mechanically.

"Yes, this is my happy surprise for Lodema."

I looked at Lodema Trumble. She looked strange. She had sunk back in her chair. I thought she wuz a-goin' to faint, and she told somebody the next day, "that she did almost lose her conscientiousness."

"Why," sez I, "she hain't married."

[Illustration: "WE ARE GIVIN' A PARTY, SAMANTHA."]

"Wall, she ort to be, if she hain't," sez he. "I say it is high time for her to have some sort of a weddin'. Everybody is a havin' 'em - tin, and silver and wooden, and basswood, and glass, and etc. - and I thought it wuz a perfect shame that Lodema shouldn't have none of no kind - and I thought I'd lay to, and surprise her with one. Every other man seemed to be a-holdin' off, not willin' seemin'ly that she should have one, and I jest thought I would happify her with one."

"Wall, why didn't you make her a silver one, or a tin?" sez I.

"Or a paper one!" screamed Lodema, who had riz up out of her almost faintin' condition. "That would have been much more appropriate," sez she.

"Wall, I thought a diamond one would be more profitable to her. For I asked 'em all to bring diamonds, if they brought anything. And then I thought it would be more suitable to her age."

"Why!" she screamed out. "They have to be married seventy-five years before they can have one."

"Yes," sez he dreemily, "I thought that would be about the right figure."

Lodema wuz too mad to find fault or complain or anything. She jest marched up-stairs and didn't come down agin that night. And the young folks had a splendid good time, and the old ones, too.

Tirzah Ann and Maggie had brought some refreshments with 'em, and so had some of the other wimmen, and, with what I had, there wuz enough, and more than enough, to refresh ourselves with.

Wall, the very next mornin' Lodema marched down like a grenideer, and ordered Josiah to take her to the train. And she eat breakfast with her things on, and went away immegiately after, and hain't been back here sense.

And I wuz truly glad to see her go, but wuz sorry she went in such a way, and I tell Josiah he wuz to blame,

But he acts as innocent as you pleese. And he goes all over the arguments agin every time I take him to do about it. He sez "she wuz old enough to have a weddin' of some kind."

And of course I can't dispute that, when he faces me right down, and sez:

"Hain't she old enough?"

And I'll say, kinder short -

"Why, I spoze so!"

"Wall," sez he, "wouldn't it have been profitable to her if they had brought diamonds? Wouldn't it have been both surprisin' and profitable?" And sez he, "I told 'em expressly to bring diamonds if they had more than they wanted. I charged old Bobbet and Lute Pitkins specially on the subject. I didn't want 'em to scrimp themselves; but," sez I, "if you have got more diamonds than you want, Lute, bring over a few to Lodema."

[Illustration: "IF YOU HAVE GOT MORE DIAMONDS THAN YOU WANT."]

"Yes," sez I, coldly, "he wuz dretful likely to have diamonds more then he wanted, workin' out by day's work to support his family. You know there wuzn't a soul you invited that owned a diamond."

"How did I know what they owned? I never have prowled round into their bureau draws and things, tryin' to find out what they had; they might have had quarts of 'em, and I not know it."

Sez I, "You did it to make fun of Lodema and get rid of her. And it only makes it worse to try to smooth it over." Sez I, "I'd be honorable about it if I wuz in your place, and own up."

"Own up? What have I got to own up? I shall always say if my orders wuz carried out, it would have been a profitable affair for Lodema, and it would - profitable and surprisin'."

And that is all I can get him to say about it, from that day to this.