Samantha Among The Bretheren

Marietta Holley

Chapter 26


He wuz jest a-countin' out his money prior to puttin' it away in his tin box, and I laid the subject before him strong and eloquent, jest the wants and needs of the meetin' house, and jest how hard we female sisters wuz a-workin', and jest how much we needed some money to buy our ingregiencies with for the fair.

He set still, a-countin' out his money, but I know he heard me. There wuz four fifty dollar bills, a ten, and a five, and I felt that at the very least calculation he would hand me out the ten or the five, and mebby both on 'em.

But he laid 'em careful in the box, and then pulled out his old pocket-book out of his pocket, and handed me a ten cent piece.

[Illustration: "HANDED ME A TEN CENT PIECE."]

I wuz mad. And I hain't a-goin' to deny that we had some words. Or at least I said some words to him, and gin him a middlin' clear idee of how I felt on the subject.

Why, the colt wuz more mine than his in the first place, and I didn't want a cent of money for myself, but only wanted it for the good of the Methodist meetin' house, which he ort to be full as interested in as I wuz.

Yes, I gin him a pretty lucid idee of what my feelin's wuz on the subject - and spozed mebby I had convinced him. I wuz a-standin' with my back to him, a-ironin' a shirt for him, when I finished up my piece of mind. And thought more'n as likely as not he'd break down and be repentent, and hand me out a ten dollar bill.

But no, he spoke out as pert and cheerful as anything and sez he:

"Samantha, I don't think it is necessary for Christians to give such a awful sight. Jest look at the widder's mit."

I turned right round and looked at him, holdin' my flat-iron in my right hand, and sez I:

"What do you mean, Josiah Allen? What are you talkin' about?"

[Illustration: "WHAT DO YOU MEAN, JOSIAH ALLEN? WHAT ARE YOU TALKIN' ABOUT?"]

"Why the widder's mit that is mentioned in Scripter, and is talked about so much by Christians to this day. Most probable it wuz a odd one, I dare persume to say she had lost the mate to it. It specilly mentions that there wuzn't but one on 'em. And jest see how much that is talked over, and praised up clear down the ages, to this day. It couldn't have been worth more'n five cents, if it wuz worth that."

"How do you spell mit, Josiah Allen?" sez I.

"Why m-i-t-e, mit."

"I should think," sez I, "that that spells mite."

"Oh well, when you are a-readin' the Bible, all the best commentaters agree that you must use your own judgment. Mite! What sense is there in that? Widder's mite! There hain't any sense in it, not a mite."

And Josiah kinder snickered here, as if he had made a dretful cute remark, bringin' the "mite" in in that way. But I didn't snicker, no, there wuzn't a shadow, or trace of anything to be heard in my linement, but solemn and bitter earnest. And I set the flat-iron down on the stove, solemn, and took up another, solemn, and went to ironin' on his shirt collar agin with solemnety and deep earnest. "No," Josiah Allen continued, "there hain't no sense in that - but mit! there you have sense. All wimmen wear mits; they love 'em. She most probable had a good pair, and lost one on 'em, and then give the other to the church. I tell you it takes men to translate the Bible, they have such a realizin' sense of the weaknesses of wimmen, and how necessary it is to translate it in such a way as to show up them weaknesses, and quell her down, and make her know her place, make her know that man is her superior in every way, and it is her duty as well as privilege to look up to him."

And Josiah Allen crossed his left leg over his right one, as haughty and over bearin' a-crossin' as I ever see in my life, and looked up haughtily at the stove-pipe hole in the ceilin', and resoomed,

"But, as I wuz sayin' about her mit, the widder's, you know. That is jest my idee of givin', equinomical, savin', jest as it should be."

"Yes," sez I, in a very dry axent, most as dry as my flat-iron, and that wuz fairly hissin' hot. "She most probable had some man to advise her, and to tell her what use the mit would be to support a big meetin' house." Oh, how dry my axent wuz. It wuz the very dryest, and most irony one I keep by me - and I keep dretful ironikle ones to use in cases of necessity.

"Most probable," sez Josiah, "most probable she did." He thought I wuz praisin' men up, and he acted tickled most to death.

"Yes, some man without any doubt, advised her, told her that some other widder would lose one of hern, and give hers to the meetin' house, jest the mate to hern. That is the way I look at it," sez he "and I mean to mention that view of mine on this subject the very next time they take up a subscription in the meetin' house and call on me."

But I turned and faced him then with the hot flat-iron in my hand, and burnin' indignation in my eys, and sez I:

"If you mention that, Josiah Allen, in the meetin' house, or to any livin' soul on earth, I'll part with you." And I would, if it wuz the last move I ever made.

But I gin up from that minute the idea of gettin' anything out of Josiah Allen for the fair. But I had some money of my own that I had got by sellin' three pounds of geese feathers and a bushel of dried apples, every feather picked by me, and every quarter of apple pared and peeled and strung and dried by me. It all come to upwerds of seven dollars, and I took every cent of it the next day out of my under bureau draw and carried it to the meetin' house and gin it to the treasurer, and told 'em, at the request of the hull on 'em, jest how I got the money.

And so the hull of the female sisters did, as they handed in their money, told jest how they come by it.

Sister Moss had seated three pairs of children's trouses for young Miss Gowdy, her children are very hard on their trouses (slidin' down the banesters and such). And young Miss Gowdy is onexperienced yet in mendin', so the patches won't show. And Sister Moss had got forty-seven cents for the job, and brung it all, every cent of it, with the exception of three cents she kep out to buy peppermint drops with. She has the colic fearful, and peppermint sometimes quells it.

Young Miss Gowdy wuz kep at home by some new, important business (twins). But she sent thirty-two cents, every cent of money she could rake and scrape, and that she had scrimped out of the money her husband had gin her for a woosted dress. She had sot her heart on havin' a ruffle round the bottom (he didn't give her enough for a overshirt), but she concluded to make it plain, and sent the ruffle money.

And young Sister Serena Nott had picked geese for her sister, who married a farmer up in Zoar. She had picked ten geese at two cents apiece, and Serena that tender-hearted that it wuz like pickin' the feathers offen her own back.

[Illustration: "SHE HAD PICKED TEN GEESE AT TWO CENTS APIECE."]

And then she is very timid, and skairt easy, and she owned up that while the pickin' of the geese almost broke her heart, the pickin' of the ganders almost skairt her to death. They wuz very high headed and warlike, and though she put a stockin' over their heads, they would lift 'em right up, stockin' and all, and hiss, and act, and she said she picked 'em at what seemed to her to be at the resk of her life.

But she loved the meetin' house, so she grin and bore it, as the sayin' is, and she brung the hull of her hard earned money, and handed it over to the treasurer, and everybody that is at all educated knows that twice ten is twenty. She brung twenty cents.

Sister Grimshaw had, and she owned it right out and out, got four dollars and fifty-three cents by sellin' butter on the sly. She had took it out of the butter tub when Brother Grimshaw's back wuz turned, and sold it to the neighbors for money at odd times through the year, and besides gettin' her a dress cap (for which she wuz fairly sufferin'), she gin the hull to the meetin' house.

There wuz quite dubersome looks all round the room when she handed in the money and went right out, for she had a errent to the store.

And Sister Gowdy spoke up and said she didn't exactly like to use money got in that way.

But Sister Lanfear sprunted up, and brung Jacob right into the argument, and the Isrealites who borrowed jewelry of the Egyptians, and then she brung up other old Bible characters, and held 'em up before us.

But still we some on us felt dubersome. And then another sister spoke up and said the hull property belonged to Sister Grimshaw, every mite of it, for he wuzn't worth a cent when he married her - she wuz the widder Bettenger, and had a fine property. And Grimshaw hadn't begun to earn what he had spent sense (he drinks). So, sez she, it all belongs to Sister Grimshaw, by right.

Then the sisters all begin to look less dubersome. But I sez:

"Why don't she come out openly and take the money she wants for her own use, and for church work, and charity?"

"Because he is so hard with her," sez Sister Lanfear, "and tears round so, and cusses, and commits so much wickedness. He is willin' she should dress well - wants her to - and live well. But he don't want her to spend a cent on the meetin' house. He is a atheist, and he hain't willin' she should help on the Cause of religeon. And if he knows of her givin' any to the Cause, he makes the awfulest fuss, scolds, and swears, and threatens her, so's she has been made sick by it, time and agin."

"Wall," sez I, "what business is it to him what she does with her own money and her own property?"

I said this out full and square. But I confess that I did feel a little dubersome in my own mind. I felt that she ort to have took it more openly.

And Sister Grimshaw's sister Amelia, who lives with her (onmarried and older than Sister Grimshaw, though it hain't spozed to be the case, for she has hopes yet, and her age is kep). She had been and contoggled three days and a half for Miss Elder Minkley, and got fifty cents a day for contogglin'.

She had fixed over the waists of two old dresses, and contoggled a old dress skirt so's it looked most as well as new. Amelia is a good contoggler and a good Christian. And I shouldn't be surprised any day to see her snatched away by some widower or bachelder of proper age. She would be willin', so it is spozed.

Wall, Sister Henn kinder relented at the last, and brung two pairs of fowls, all picked, and tied up by their legs. And we thought it wuz kinder funny and providential that one Henn should bring four more of'em.

But we wuz tickled, for we knew we could sell 'em to the grocer man at Jonesville for upwerds of a dollar bill.

[Illustration: "SUBMIT TEWKSBURY DID BRING THAT PLATE."]

And Submit Tewksbury, what should that good little creeter bring, and we couldn't any of us hardly believe our eyes at first, and think she could part with it, but she did bring that plate. That pink edged, chiny plate, with gilt sprigs, that she had used as a memorial of Samuel Danker for so many years. Sot it up on the supper table and wept in front of it.

Wall, she knew old china like that would bring a fancy price, and she hadn't a cent of money she could bring, and she wanted to do her full part towerds helpin' the meetin' house along - so she tore up her memorial, a-weepin' on it for hours, so we spozed, and offered it up, a burnt chiny offerin' to the Lord.

Wall, I am safe to say, that nothin' that had took place that day had begun to affect us like that.

To see that good little creeter lookin' pale and considerble wan, hand in that plate and never groan over it, nor nothin', not out loud she didn't, but we spozed she kep up a silent groanin' inside of her, for we all knew the feelin' she felt for the plate.

It affected all on us fearfully.

But the treasurer took it, and thanked her almost warmly, and Submit merely sez, when she wuz thanked: "Oh, you are entirely welcome to it, and I hope it will fetch a good price, so's to help the cause along."

And then she tried to smile a little mite. But I declare that smile wuz more pitiful than tears would have been.

Everybody has seen smiles that seemed made up, more than half, of unshed tears, and withered hopes, and disappointed dreams, etc., etc.

Submit's smile wuz of that variety, one of the very curiusest of 'em, too. Wall, she gin, I guess, about two of 'em, and then she went and sot down.