Samantha Among The Bretheren

Marietta Holley

Chapter 14


He come to our house a visitin' along the first week in June, and the last day in June wuz the day they had sot for the world to come to an end. I, myself, didn't believe she knew positive about it, and Josiah didn't either. And I sez to her, "The Bible sez that it hain't agoin' to be revealed to angels even, or to the Son himself, but only to the Father when that great day shall be." And sez I to Trueman's wife, sez I, "How should you be expected to know it?"

Sez she, with that same collected together haughty look to her, "My name wuzn't mentioned, I believe, amongst them that wuzn't to know it!"

And of course I had to own up that it wuzn't. But good land! I didn't believe she knew a thing more about it than I did, but I didn't dispute with her much, because she wuz one of the relatives on his side - you know you have to do different with 'em than you do with them on your own side - you have to. And then agin, I felt that if it didn't come to an end she would be convinced that she wuz in the wrong on't, and if she did we should both of us be pretty apt to know it, so there wuzn't much use in disputin' back and forth.

But she wuz firm as iron in her belief. And she had come up visitin' to our home, so's to be nigh when Trueman riz. Trueman wuz buried in the old Risley deestrict, not half a mile from us on a back road. And she naterally wanted to be round at the time.

She said plain to me that Trueman never could seem to get along without her. And though she didn't say it right out, she carried the idea (and Josiah resented it because Trueman was a favorite cousin of his'n on his own side.) She jest the same as said right out that Trueman, if she wuzn't by him to tend to him, would be jest as apt to come up wrong end up as any way.

Josiah didn't like it at all.

Wall, she had lived a widowed life for a number of years, and had said right out, time and time agin, that she wouldn't marry agin. But Josiah thought, and I kinder mistrusted myself, that she wuz kinder on the lookout, and would marry agin if she got a chance - not fierce, you know, or anything of that kind, but kinder quietly lookin' out and standin' ready. That wuz when she first come; but before she went away she acted fierce.

[Illustration: "BURIED IN THE OLD RISLEY DEESIRICT."]

Wall, there wuz sights of Adventists up in the Risley deestrict, and amongst the rest wuz an old bachelder, Joe Charnick.

And Joe Charnick wuz, I s'poze, of all Advents, the most Adventy. He jest knew the world wuz a comin' to a end that very day, the last day of June, at four o'clock in the afternoon. And he got his robe all made to go up in. It wuz made of a white book muslin, and Jenette Finster made it. Cut it out by one of his mother's nightgowns - so she told me in confidence, and of course I tell it jest the same; I want it kep.

She was afraid Joe wouldn't like it, if he knew she took the nightgown for a guide, wantin' it, as he did, for a religious purpose.

But, good land! as I told her, religion or not, anybody couldn't cut anything to look anyhow without sumpthin' fora guide, and she bein' an old maiden felt a little delicate about measurin' him.

His mother wuz as big round as he wuz, her weight bein' 230 by the steelyards, and she allowed 2 fingers and a half extra length - Joe is tall. She gathered it in full round the neck, and the sleeves (at his request) hung down like wings, a breadth for each wing wuz what she allowed. Jenette owned up to me (though she wouldn't want it told of for the world, for it had been sposed for years, that he and she had a likin' for each other, and mebby would make a match some time, though what they had been a-waitin' for for the last 10 years nobody knew). But she allowed to me that when he got his robe on, he wuz the worst lookin' human bein' that she ever laid eyes on, and sez she, for she likes a joke, Jenette duz: "I should think if Joe looked in the glass after he got it on, his religion would be a comfort to him; I should think he would be glad the world wuz comin' to a end."

But he didn't look at the glass, Jenette said he didn't; he wanted to see if it wuz the right size round the neck. Joe hain't handsome, but he is kinder good-lookin', and he is a good feller and got plenty to do with, but bein' kinder big-featured, and tall, and hefty, he must have looked like fury in the robe. But he is liked by everybody, and everybody is glad to see him so prosperous and well off.

He has got 300 acres of good land, "be it more or less," as the deed reads; 30 head of cows, and 7 head of horses (and the hull bodies of 'em). And a big sugar bush, over 1100 trees, and a nice little sugar house way up on a pretty side hill amongst the maple trees. A good, big, handsome dwellin' house, a sort of cream color, with green blinds; big barn, and carriage house, etc., etc., and everything in the very best of order. He is a pattern farmer and a pattern son - yes, Joe couldn't be a more pattern son if he acted every day from a pattern.

He treats his mother dretful pretty, from day to day. She thinks that there hain't nobody like Joe; and it wuz s'pozed that Jenette thought so too.

But Jenette is, and always wuz, runnin' over with common sense, and she always made fun and laughed at Joe when he got to talkin' about his religion, and about settin' a time for the world to come to a end. And some thought that that wuz one reason why the match didn't go off, for Joe likes her, everybody could see that, for he wuz jest such a great, honest, open-hearted feller, that he never made any secret of it. And Jenette liked Joe I knew, though she fooled a good many on the subject. But she wuz always a great case to confide in me, and though she didn't say so right out, which wouldn't have been her way, for, as the poet sez, she wuzn't one "to wear her heart on the sleeves of her bask waist," still, I knew as well es I wanted to, that she thought her eyes of him. And old Miss Charnick jest about worshipped Jenette, would have her with her, sewin' for her, and takin' care of her - she wuz sick a good deal, Mother Charnick wuz. And she would have been tickled most to death to have had Joe marry her and bring her right home there.

And Jenette wuz a smart little creeter, "smart as lightnin'," as Josiah always said.

She had got along in years, Jenette had, without marryin', for she staid to hum and took care of her old father and mother and Tom. The other girls married off, and left her to hum, and she had chances, so it wuz said, good ones, but she wouldn't leave her father and mother, who wuz gettin' old, and kinder bed-rid, and needed her. Her father, specially, said he couldn't live, and wouldn't try to, if Jenette left 'em, but he said, the old gentleman did, that Jenette should be richly paid for her goodness to 'em.

That wuzn't what made Jenette good, no, indeed; she did it out of the pure tenderness and sweetness of her nature and lovin'heart. But I used to love to hear the old gentleman talk that way, for he wuz well off, and I felt that so far as money could pay for the hull devotion of a life, why, Jenette would be looked out for, and have a good home, and enough to do with. So she staid to hum, as I say, and took care of'em night and day; sights of watching and wearisome care she had, poor little creeter; but she took the best of care of 'em, and kep 'em kinder comforted up, and clean, and brought up Tom, the youngest boy, by hand, and thought her eyes on him.

And he wuz a smart chap - awful smart, as it proved in the end; for he married when he wuz 21, and brought his wife (a disagreeable creeter) home to the old homestead, and Jenette, before they had been there 2 weeks, wuz made to feel that her room wuz better than her company.

That wuz the year the old gentleman died; her mother had died 3 months prior and beforehand.

Her brother, as I said, wur smart, and he and his wife got round the old man in some way and sot him against Jenette, and got everything he had.

He wuz childish, the old man wuz; used to try to put his pantaloons on over his head, and get his feet into his coat sleeves, etc., etc.

And he changed his will, that had gi'n Jenette half the property, a good property, too, and gi'n it all to Tom, every mite of it, all but one dollar, which Jenette never took by my advice.

For I wuz burnin' indignant at old Mr. Finster and at Tom. Curius, to think such a girl as Jenette had been - such a patient, good creeter, and such a good-tempered one, and everything - to think her pa should have forgot all she had done, and suffered, and gi'n up for 'em, and give the property all to that boy, who had never done anything only to spend their money and make Jenette trouble.

But then, I s'poze it wuz old Mr. Finster's mind, or the lack on't, and I had to stand it, likewise so did Jenette.

But I never sot a foot into Tom Finster's house, not a foot after that day that Jenette left it. I wouldn't. But I took her right to my house, and kep her for 9 weeks right along, and wuz glad to.

That wuz some 10 years prior and before this, and she had gone round sewin' ever sense. And she wuz beloved by everybody, and had gone round highly respected, and at seventy-five cents a day.

Her troubles, and everybody that knew her, knew how many she had of 'em, but she kep 'em all to herself, and met the world and her neighbors with a bright face.

If she took her skeletons out of the closet to air 'em, and I s'poze she did, everybody duz; they have to at times, to see if their bones are in good order, if for nothin' else. But if she ever did take 'em out and dust 'em, she did it all by herself. The closet door wuz shet up and locked when anybody wuz round. And you would think, by her bright, laughin' face, that she never heard the word skeleton, or ever listened to the rattle of a bone.

And she kep up such a happy, cheerful look on the outside, that I s'poze it ended by her bein' cheerful and happy on the inside.

The stiddy, good-natured, happy spirit that she cultivated at first by hard work, so I s'poze; but at last it got to be second nater, the qualities kinder struck in and she wuz happy, and she wuz contented - that is, I s'poze so.

Though I, who knew Jenette better than anybody else, almost, knew how tuff, how fearful tuff it must have come on her, to go round from home to home - not bein' settled down at home anywhere. I knew jest what a lovin' little home body she wuz. And how her sweet nater, like the sun, would love to light up one bright lovin' home, and shine kinder stiddy there, instead of glancin' and changin' about from one place to another, like a meteor.

Some would have liked it; some like change and constant goin' about, and movin' constantly through space - but I knew Jenette wuzn't made on the meteor plan. I felt sorry for Jenette, down deep in my heart, I did; but I didn't tell her so; no, she wouldn't have liked it; she kep a brave face to the world. And as I said, her comin' wuz looked for weeks and weeks ahead, in any home where she wuz engaged to sew by the day.

Everybody in the house used to feel the presence of a sunshiny, cheerful spirit. One that wuz determined to turn her back onto troubles she couldn't help and keep her face sot towards the Sun of Happiness. One who felt good and pleasant towards everybody, wished everybody well. One who could look upon other folks'es good fortune without a mite of jealousy or spite. One who loved to hear her friends praised and admired, loved to see 'em happy. And if they had a hundred times the good things she had, why, she was glad for their sakes, that they had 'em, she loved to see 'em enjoy 'em, if she couldn't.

And she wuz dretful kinder cunnin' and cute, Jenette wuz. She would make the oddest little speeches; keep everybody laughin' round her, when she got to goin'.

[Illustration: "Dretful kinder cunnin' and cute, Jenette wuz."]

Yes, she wuz liked dretful well, Jenette wuz. Her face has a kind of a pert look on to it, her black eyes snap, a good-natured snap, though, and her nose turns up jest enough to look kinder cunnin', and her hair curls all over her head.

Smart round the house she is, and Mother Charnick likes that, for she is a master good housekeeper. Smart to answer back and joke. Joe is slow of speech, and his big blue eyes won't fairly get sot onto anything, before Jenette has looked it all through, and turned it over, and examined it on the other side, and got through with it.

Wall, she wuz to work to Mother Charnick's makin' her a black alpacka dress, and four new calico ones, and coverin' a parasol.

A good many said that Miss Charnick got dresses a purpose for Jenette to make, so's to keep her there. Jenette wouldn't stay there a minute only when she wuz to work, and as they always kep a good, strong, hired girl, she knew when she wuz needed, and when she wuzn't. But, of course, she couldn't refuse to sew for her, and at what she wuz sot at, though she must have known and felt that Miss Charnick wuz lavish in dresses. She had 42 calico dresses, and everybody knew it, new ones, besides woosted. But, anyway, there she was a sewin' when the word came that the world was a comin' to a end on the 30th day of June, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon.

Miss Charnick wuz a believer, but not to the extent that Joe was. For Jenette asked her if she should stop sewin', not sposin' that she would need the dresses, specially the four calico ones, and the parasol in case of the world's endin'.

And she told Jenette, and Jenette told me, so's I know it is true, "that she might go right on, and get the parasol cover, and the trimmins to the dresses, cambrick, and linin' and things, and hooks and eyes."

And Miss Charnick didn't prepare no robe. But Jenette mistrusted, though Miss Charnick is close-mouthed, and didn't say nothin', but Jenette mistrusted that she laid out, when she sees signs, to use a nightgown.

She had piles of the nicest ones, that Jenette had made for her from time to time, over 28, all trimmed off nice enough for day dresses, so Jenette said, trimmed with tape trimmin's, some of 'em, and belted down in front.

Wall, they had lots of meetin's at the Risley school-house, as the time drew near. And Miss Trueman Pool went to every one on 'em.

She had been too weak to go out to the well, or to the barn. She wanted dretfully to see some new stanchils that Josiah had been a makin', jest like some that Pool had had in his barn. She wanted to see 'em dretful, but was too weak to walk. And I had had kind of a tussle in my own mind, whether or not I should offer to let Josiah carry her out; but kinder hesitated, thinkin' mebby she would get stronger.

But I hain't jealous, not a mite. It is known that I hain't all through Jonesville and Loontown. No, I'd scorn it. I thought Pool's wife would get better and she did.

One evenin' Joe Charnick came down to bring home Josiah's augur, and the conversation turned onto Adventin'. And Miss Pool see that Joe wuz congenial on that subject; he believed jest as she did, that the world would come to an end the 30th. This was along the first part of the month.

[Illustration: "Joe Charnick came down to bring home Josiah's augur."]

He spoke of the good meetin's they wuz a-havin' to the Risley school-house, and how he always attended to every one on 'em. And the next mornin' Miss Trueman Pool gin out that she wuz a-goin' that evenin'. It wuz a good half a mile away, and I reminded her that Josiah had to be away with the team, for he wuz a-goin' to Loontown, heavy loaded, and wouldn't get back till along in the evenin'.

But she said "that she felt that the walk would do her good."

I then reminded her of the stanchils, but she said "stanchils and religion wuz two separate things." Which I couldn't deny, and didn't try to. And she sot off for the school-house that evenin' a-walkin' a foot. And the rest of her adventins and the adventins of Joe I will relate in another epistol; and I will also tell whether the world come to an end or not. I know folks will want to know, and I don't love to keep folks in onxiety - it hain't my way.