The very next day after I got home from Miss Timson'ses, we wimmen all met to the meetin' house agin as usial, for we knew very well that the very hardest and most arjuous part of our work lay before us.
For if it had been hard and tuckerin' to what it seemed the utmost limit of tucker, to stand up on a lofty barell, and lift up one arm, and scrape the ceilin', what would it be, so we wildly questioned our souls, and each other, to stand up on the same fearful hites, and lift both arms over our heads, and get on them fearful lengths of paper smooth.
I declare, when the hull magnitude of the task we had tackled riz before us, it skairt the hull on us, and nuthin' but our deathless devotion to the Methodist meetin' house, kep us from startin' off to our different homes on the run.
But lovin' it as we did, as the very apples in our eyes, and havin' in our constant breasts a determinate to paper that meetin' house, or die in the attempt, we made ready to tackle it.
[Illustration: "WE HAD TO WAIT FOR THE PASTE TO BILE."]
Yet such wuz the magnitude of the task, and our fearful apprehensions, that after we had looked the ceilin' all over, and examined the paper - we all sot down, as it were, instinctivly, and had a sort of a conference meetin' (we had to wait for the paste to bile anyway, it wuz bein' made over the stove in the front entry). And he would lift up his poor weak right arm, strong then in his fever, and preach long sermons in that same strange curius language. He would preach his sermon right through, earnest and fervent as any sermon ever wuz. I would know it by the looks of his face. And then he would sometimes sing a little in that same singular language, and then he would lay down for a spell.
But along towards mornin' I see a change, his fever seemed to abate and go down some - very gradual, till just about the break of day, he fell into a troubled sleep - or it wuz a troubled sleep at first - but growin' deeper and more peaceful every minute. And along about eight o'clock he wuz a-sleepin' sweet for the first time durin' his sickness; it wuz a quiet restful sleep, and some drops of presperation and sweat could be seen on his softened features.
[Illustration: "WE ALL SET AND LAID ON OUR PLANS, AND CUT THE EDGES OFFEN THE PAPER."]
We all wuz as still, almost, as if we wuz automatoes, we wuz so afraid of makin' a speck of noise to disturb him. We kep almost breathless, in our anxiety to keep every mite of noise out of his room. But I did whisper to Rosy in a low still voice - it middlin calm, and Miss Gowdy offered to be the one to carry it back to Jonesville, and change it that very afternoon - for we could not afford to buy a new one, and we had the testimony of as many as twenty-one or two pairs of eyes, that the handle didn't come out by our own carelessness, but by its own inherient weakness - so we spozed he would swap it, we spozed so. But it wuz arrainged before we disbanded (the result of our conference), that the next mornin' we would each one on us bring our offerin's to the fair, and hand 'em in to the treasurer, so's she would know in time what to depend on, and what she had to do with.
And we agreed (also the result of our conference) that we would, each one on us, tell jest how we got the money and things to give to the fair.
And then we disbanded and started off home but I'll bet that each one on us, in a sort of secret unbeknown way, gin a look on that lofty ceilin', them dangerus barells, and that pile of paper, and groaned a low melancholy groan all to herself.
[Illustration: "THE HANDLE COME OUT."]
I know I did, and I know Submit Tewksbury did, for I stood close to her and heard her. But then to be exactly jest, and not a mite underhanded, I ort mebby to say, that her groan may be caused partly by the fact that that aniversery of hern wuz a-drawin' so near. Yes, the very next day wuz the day jest 20 years ago that Samuel Danker went away from Submit Tewksbury to heathen lands. Yes, the next day wuz the one that she always set the plate on for him - the gilt edged chiny with pink sprigs.
But I'll bet that half or three quarters of that low melancholy groan of her'n wuz caused by the hardness of the job that loomed up in front of us, and the hull of mine wuz.
Wall, that night Josiah Allen wuz a-feelin' dretful neat, fer he had sold our sorell colt for a awful big price.
It wuz a good colt; its mother wuz took sick when it wuz a few days old, and we had brung it up as a corset, or ruther I did, fer Josiah Allen at that time had the rheumatiz to that extent that he couldn't step his foot on the floor for months, so the care of the corset come on me, most the hull on it, till it got big enough to run out in the lot and git its own livin'.
Night after night I used to get up and warm milk for it, when it wuz very small, for it wuz weakly, and we didn't know as we could winter it.
[Illustration: "I WOULD MEANDER OUT THERE IN A ICY NIGHT TO FEED IT."]
We kep it in a little warm shed offen the wood house for quite a spell, but still I used to find it considerable cold when I would meander out there in a icy night to feed it. But jest as it is always the way with wimmen, the more care I took on it, the more it needed me and depended on me, the better I liked it.
Till I got to likin' it so well that it wuzn't half so hard a job for me to go out to feed it in the night as it would have been to laid still in my warm bed and think mebby it wuz cold and hungry.
So I would pike out and feed it two or three times a night.
That is the nater of wimmen, the weaker it wuz and the humblier it wuz, and the more it needed me, the more I thought on it.
And as is the nater of man, Josiah Allen didn't seem to care so much about it while it wuz weak and humbly and spindlin'.
He told me time and agin, that I couldn't save it, and it never would amount to anythin', and wuzn't nothin' but legs any way, and lots of other slightin' remarks. And he'd call it "horse corset" in a kind of a light, triflin' way, that wuz apt to gaul a woman when she come back with icy night-gown and frosty toes and fingers, way along in the night.
[Illustration: "BEEN OUT TO TEND TO YOUR 'HORSE CORSET,' HAVE YOU?"]
He'd wake up, a-layin' there warm and comfortable on his soft goose feather piller and say to me: "Been out to tend to your 'horse corset,' have you?"
"Horse corset! 'Wall, what if it wuz?"
Such language way along in the night, from a warm comfortable pardner to a cold one, is apt to make some words back and forth.
And then he'd speak of its legs agin, in the most slightin' terms - and he'd ask me if didn't want its picter took - etc., etc., etc.
(I believe one thing that ailed Josiah Allen wuz he didn't want me to get up and get my feet so cold).
But, as I wuz a-sayin', though I couldn't deny some of his words, for truly its legs did seem to be at the least calculation a yard and a half long, specilly in the night, why they'd look fairly pokerish.
And though I knew it wuz humbly still I persevered, and at last it got to thrivin' and growin' fast. And the likelier it grew, and the stronger, and the handsomer, so Josiah Allen's likin' for it grew and increased, till he got to settin' a sight of store by it.
And now it wuz a two-year-old, and he had sold it for two hundred and fifteen dollars. It wuz spozed it wuz goin' to make a good trotter.
Wall, seem' he had got such a big price for the colt, and knowin' well that I wuz the sole cause of its bein' alive at this day, I felt that it wuz the best time in the hull three hundred and sixty-five days of the year to tackle him for sunthin' to give to the fair. I felt that the least he could do would be to give me ten or fifteen dollars for it. So consequently after supper wuz out of the way, and the work done up, I tackled him.