Samantha Among The Bretheren

Marietta Holley

Chapter 10


We dressmakers wuz in the house, to stay all the time till the dresses wuz done; and clerks would come around, anon, if not oftener, with packages of mournin' goods, and mournin' jewelry, and mournin' handkerchiefs, and mournin' stockings, and mournin' stockin'-supporters, and mournin' safety-pins, and etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.

Every one of 'em, I knew, a-wrenchin' boards offen the sides of that house that Wellington had worked so hard to get for his wife and little ones.

Wall, the day of the funeral come. It wuz a wet, drizzly day, but Cephas wuz up early, to see that everything wuz as he wanted it to be.

As fur as I wuz concerned, I had done my duty, for the crazy bedquilt wuz done; and though brains might totter as they looked at it, I felt that it wuzn't my fault. Sally Ann spread it out with complacency over the lounge, and thanked me, with tears in her eyes, for my noble deed.

Along quite early in the mornin', before the show commenced, I went in to see Wellington.

He lay there calm and peaceful, with a look on his face as if he had got away at last from a atmosphere of show and sham, and had got into the great Reality of life.

It wuz a good face, and the worryment and care that folks told me had been on it for years had all faded away. But the look of determination, and resolve, and bravery, - that wuz ploughed too deep in his face to be smoothed out, even by the mighty hand that had lain on it. The resolved look, the brave look with which he had met the warfare of life, toiled for victory over want, toiled to place his dear and helpless ones in a position of safety, - that look wuz on his face yet, as if the deathless hope and endeavor had gone on into eternity with him.

And by the side of him, on a table, wuz the big high flower-pieces, beginnin' already to wilt and decay.

Wall, it's bein' such an uncommon bad day, there wuzn't many to the funeral. But we rode to the meetin'-house in Loontown in a state and splendor that I never expect to again. Cephas had hired eleven mournin' coaches, and the day bein' so bad, and so few a-turnin' out to the funeral, that in order to occupy all the coaches - and Cephas thought it would look better and more popular to have 'em all occupied - we divided up, and Josiah went in one, alone, and lonesome as a dog, as he said afterwards to me. And I sot up straight and oncomfortable in another one on 'em, stark alone.

Cephas had one to himself, and his wife another one, and two old maids, sisters of Cephas'ses who always made a point of attendin' funerals, they each one of 'em had one. S. Annie and her children, of course, had the first one, and then the minister had one, and one of the trustees in the neighborhood had another; so we lengthened out into quite a crowd, all a-follerin' the shiny hearse, and the casket all covered with showy plated nails. I thought of it in jest that way, for Wellington, I knew, the real Wellington, wuzn't there. No, he wuz fur away - as fur as the Real is from the Unreal. Wall, we filed into the Loontown meetin'-house in pretty good shape. The same meetin'-house I had been sent to reconoiter. But Cephas hadn't no black handkerchief, and he looked worried about it. He had shed tears a-tellin' me about it, what a oversight it wuz, while I wuz a fixin' on his mournin' weed. He took it into his head to have a deeper weed at the last minute, so I fixed it on. He had the weed come up to the top of his hat and lap over. I never see so tall a weed. But it suited Cephas; he said "he thought it showed deep respect."

"Wall," sez I, "it is a deep weed, anyway - the deepest I ever see." And he said as I wuz a sewin' it on, he a-holdin' his hat for me, "that Wellington deserved it; he deserved it all."

But, as I say, he shed tears to think that his handkerchief wuzn't black-bordered. He said "it wuz a fearful oversight; it would probably make talk."

"But," I sez, "mebby it won't be noticed."

[Illustration: "AS A PROCESSION WE WUZ MIDDLIN' LONG, BUT RUTHER THIN."]

"Yes, it will," sez he. "It will be noticed." And sez he, "I don't care about myself, but I am afraid it will reflect onto Wellington. I am afraid they will think it shows a lack of respect for him. For Wellington's sake I feel cut down about it."

And I sez, "I guess where Wellington is now, the color of a handkerchief border hain't a-goin' to make much difference to him either way."

And I don't spoze it wuz noticed much, for there wuzn't more'n ten or a dozen folks there when we went in. We went in in Injin file mostly by Cephas'ses request, so's to make more show. And as a procession we wuz middlin' long, but ruther thin.

The sermon wuz not so very good as to quality, but abundant as to quantity. It wuz, as nigh as I could calkerlate, about a hour and three-quarters long. Josiah whispered to me along about the last that "we had been there over seven hours, and his legs wuz paralyzed."

And I whispered back that "seven hours would take us into the night, and to stretch his feet out and pinch 'em," which he did.

But it wuz long and tegus. My feet got to sleep twice, and I had hard work to wake 'em up agin. The sermon meant to be about Wellington, I s'pose; he did talk a sight about him, and then he kinder branched off onto politics, and then the Inter-State bill; he kinder favored it, I thought.

Wall, we all got drippin' wet a-goin' home, for Cephas insisted on our gettin' out at the grave, for he had hired some uncommon high singers (high every way, in price and in notes) to sing at the grave.

And so we disembarked in the drippin' rain, on the wet grass, and formed a procession agin. And Cephas had a long exercise light there in the rain. But the singin' wuz kinder jerky and curius, and they had got their pay beforehand, so they hurried it through. And one man, the tenor, who wuz dretful afraid of takin' cold, hurried through his part and got through first, and started on a run for the carriage. The others stood their grounds till the piece wuz finished, but they put on some dretful curius quavers. I believe they had had chills; it sounded like it.

Take it altogether, I don't believe anybody got much satisfaction out of it, only Cephas. S. Annie sp'ilt her dress and bonnet entirely - they wuz wilted all down; and she ordered another suit jest like it before she slept. Wall, the next mornin' early two men come with plans for monuments. Cephas had telegrafted to 'em to come with plans and bid for the job of furnishin' the monument.

And after a good deal of talk on both sides, Cephas and S. Annie selected one that wuz very high and p'inted.

The men stayed to dinner, and I said to Cephas out to one side -

"Cephas, that monument is a-goin' to cost a sight."

"Wall," sez he, "we can't raise too high a one. Wellington deserved it all."

Sez I, "Won't that and all these funeral expenses take about all the money he left?"

"Oh, no!" sez he. "He had insured his life for a large amount, and it all goes to his wife and children. He deserves a monument if a man ever did."

"But," sez I, "don't you believe that Wellington would ruther have S. Annie and the children settled down in a good little home with sumthin' left to take care of 'em, than to have all this money spent in perfectly useless things?"

"Useless!" sez Cephas, turnin' red. "Why," sez he, "if you wuzn't a near relation I should resent that speech bitterly."

"Wall," sez I, "what do all these flowers, and empty carriages, and silver-plated nails, and crape, and so forth - what does it all amount to?"

"Respect and honor to his memory," sez Cephas, proudly.

Sez I, "Such a life as Wellington's had them; no body could take 'em away nor deminish 'em. Such a brave, honest life is crowned with honor and respect any way. It don't need no crape, nor flowers, nor monuments to win 'em. And, at the same time," sez I dreamily, "if a man is mean, no amount of crape, or flower-pieces, or flowery sermons, or obituries, is a-goin' to cover up that meanness. A life has to be lived out-doors as it were; it can't be hid. A string of mournin' carriages, no matter how long, hain't a-goin' to carry a dishonorable life into honor, and no grave, no matter how low and humble it is, is a-goin' to cover up a honorable life.

"Such a life as Wellington's don't need no monument to carry up the story of his virtues into the heavens; it is known there already. And them that mourn his loss don't need cold marble words to recall his goodness and faithfulness. The heart where the shadow of his eternal absence has fell don't need crape to make it darker.

"Wellington wouldn't be forgot if S. Annie wore pure white from day today. No, nobody that knew Wellington, from all I have hearn of him, needs crape to remind 'em that he wuz once here and now is gone.

"Howsomever, as fur as that is concerned, I always feel that mourners must do as they are a mind to about crape, with fear and tremblin' - that is, if they are well off, and can do as they are a mind to; and the same with monuments, flowers, empty coaches, etc. But in this case, Cephas Bodley, I wouldn't be a doin' my duty if I didn't speak my mind. When I look at these little helpless souls that are left in a cold world with nothin' to stand between them and want but the small means their pa worked so hard for and left for the express purpose of takin' care of 'em, it seems to me a foolish thing, and a cruel thing, to spend all that money on what is entirely onnecessary."

"Onnecessary!" sez Cephas, angrily. "Agin I say, Josiah Allen's wife, that if it wuzn't for our close relationship I should turn on you. A worm will turn," sez he, "if it is too hardly trampled on."

"I hain't trampled on you," sez I, "nor hain't had no idea on't. I wuz only statin' the solemn facts and truth of the matter. And you will see it some time, Cephas Bodley, if you don't now."

Sez Cephas, "The worm has turned, Josiah Allen's wife! Yes, I feel that I have got to look now to more distant relations for comfort. Yes, the worm has been stomped on too heavy."

He looked cold, cold as a iceickle almost. And I see that jest the few words I had spoke, jest the slight hints I had gin, hadn't been took as they should have been took. So I said no more. For agin the remark of that little bad boy came up in my mind and restrained me from sayin' any more.

Truly, as the young male child observed, "it wuzn't my funeral."

We went home almost immegiately afterwards, my heart nearly a-bleedin' for the little children, poor little creeters, and Cephas actin' cold and distant to the last And we hain't seen 'em sence. But news has come from them, and come straight. Josiah heerd to Jonesville all about it. And though it is hitchin' the democrat buggy on front of the mare - to tell the end of the funeral here - yet I may as well tell it now and be done with it.

The miller at Loontown wuz down to the Jonesville mill to get the loan of some bags, and Josiah happened to be there to mill that day, and heerd all about it.

Cephas had got the monument, and the ornaments on it cost fur more than he expected. There wuz a wreath a-runnin' round it clear from the bottom to the top, and verses a kinder runnin' up it at the same time. And it cost fearful. Poetry a-runnin' up, they say, costs fur more than it duz on a level.

Any way, the two thousand dollars that wuz insured on Wellington's life wuzn't quite enough to pay for it. But the sale of his law library and the best of the housen' stuff paid it. The nine hundred he left went, every mite of it, to pay the funeral expenses and mournin' for the family.

[Illustration: CARRIED TO THE COUNTY POOR HOUSE.]

And as bad luck always follers on in a procession, them mortgages of Cephas'ses all run out sort o' together. His creditors sold him out, and when his property wuz all disposed of it left him over fourteen hundred dollars in debt.

The creditors acted perfectly greedy, so they say - took everything they could; and one of the meanest ones took that insane bedquilt that I finished. That wuz mean. They say Sally Ann crumpled right down when that wuz took. Some say that they got hold of that tall weed of Cephas'ses, and some dispute it; some say that he wore it on the last ride he took in Loontown.

But, howsomever, Cephas wuz took sick, Sally Ann wuzn't able to do anything for their support, S. Annie wuz took down with the typhus, and so it happened the very day the monument wuz brought to the Loontown cemetery, Cephas Bodley's folks wuz carried to the county house, S. Annie, the children and all.

And it happened dretful curius, but the town hired that very team that drawed the monument there, to take the family back.

It wuz a good team.

The monument wuzn't set up, for they lacked money to pay for the underpinnin'! (Wuz n't it curius, Cephas Bodley never would think of the underpinnin' to anything?) But it lay there by the side of the road, a great white shape.

And they say the children wuz skairt, and cried when they went by it - cried and wept.

But I believe it wuz because they wuz cold and hungry that made 'em cry. I don't believe it wuz the monument.