Samantha Among The Bretheren

Marietta Holley

Chapter 28


Sister Sylvester Bobbet and I had been voted on es the ones best qualified to lead off in the arjeous and hazerdous enterprize.

And though we deeply felt the honor they wuz a-heapin' on to us, yet es it hes been, time and agin, in other high places in the land, if it hadn't been fer duty that wuz a-grippin' holt of us, we would gladly have shirked out of it and gin the honor to some humble but worthy constituent.

Fer the lengths of paper wuz extremely long, the ceilin' fearfully high, and oh! how lofty and tottlin' the barells looked to us. And we both on us, Sister Sylvester Bobbet and I, had giddy and dizzy spells right on the ground, let alone bein' perched up on barells, a-liftin' our arms up fur, fur beyond the strength of their sockets.

[Illustration: "WE FELT NERVED UP TO DO OUR BEST."]

But duty wuz a-callin' us, and the other wimmen also, and it wuzn't for me, nor Sister Sylvester Bobbet to wave her nor them off, or shirk out of hazerdous and dangerous jobs when the good of the Methodist Meetin' House wuz at the Bay.

No, with as lofty looks as I ever see in my life (I couldn't see my own, but I felt 'em), and with as resolute and martyrous feelin's as ever animated two wimmen's breasts, Sister Sylvester Bobbet and I grasped holt of the length of paper, one on each end on it, Sister Arvilly Lanfear and Miss Henzy a-holdin' it up in the middle like Aaron and Hur a-holdin' up Moses'ses arms. We advanced and boldly mounted up onto our two barells, Miss Gowdy and Sister Sypher a-holdin' two chairs stiddy for us to mount up on.

Every eye in the meetin' house wuz on us. We felt nerved up to do our best, even if we perished in so doin', and I didn't know some of the time but we would fall at our two posts. The job wuz so much more wearin' and awful than we had foreboded, and we had foreboded about it day and night for weeks and weeks, every one on us.

The extreme hite of the ceilin'; the slipperyness and fragility of the lengths of paper; the fearful hite and tottlin'ness of the barells; the dizzeness that swept over us at times, in spite of our marble efforts to be calm. The dretful achin' and strainin' of our armpits, that bid fair to loosen 'em from their four sockets. The tremenjous responsibility that laid onto us to get the paper on smooth and onwrinkled.

It wuz, takin' it altogether, the most fearful and wearisome hour of my hull life.

Every female in the room held her breath in deathless anxiety (about thirty breaths). And every eye in the room wuz on us (about fifty-nine eyes - Miss Shelmadine hain't got but one workin' eye, the other is glass, though it hain't known, and must be kep).

Wall, it wuz a-goin' on smooth and onwrinkled - smiles broke out on every face, about thirty smiles - a half a minute more and it would be done, and done well. When at that tryin' and decisive moment when the fate of our meetin' house wuz, as you may say, at the stake, we heard the sound of hurryin' feet, and the door suddenly opened, and in walked Josiah Allen, Deacon Sypher, and Deacon Henzy followed by what seemed to me at the time to be the hull male part of the meetin' house.

But we found out afterwerds that there wuz a few men in the meetin' house that thought wimmen ort to set; they argued that when wimmen had been standin' so long they out to set down; they wuz good dispositioned. But as I sez at the time, it looked to us as if every male Methodist in the land wuz there and present.

They wuz in great spirits, and their means wuz triumphant and satisfied.

They had jest got the last news from the Conference in New York village, and had come down in a body to disseminate it to us.

They said the Methodist Conference had decided that the seven wimmen that had been stood up there in New York for the last week, couldn't set, that they wuz too weak and fraguile to set on the Conference.

And then the hull crowd of men, with smiles and haughty linements, beset Josiah to read it out to us.

So Josiah Allen, with his face nearly wreathed with a smile, a blissful smile, but as high headed a one as I ever see, read it all out to us. But he should have to hurry, he said, for he had got to carry the great and triumphant news all round, up as fur as Zoar, if he had time.

[Illustration: "THE METHODIST CONFERENCE HAD DECIDED THAT WIMMEN WUZ TOO WEAK TO SET."]

And so he read it out to us, and as we see that that breadth wuz spilte, we stopped our work for a minute and heard it.

And after he had finished it, they all said it wuz a masterly dockument, the decision wuz a noble one, and it wuz jest what they had always said. They said they had always known that wimmen wuz too weak, her frame wuz too tender, she was onfitted by Nater, in mind and in body to contend with such hardship. And they all agreed that it would be puttin' the men in a bad place, and takin' a good deal offen their dignity, if the fair sex had been allowed by them to take such hardships onto 'em. And they sez, some on 'em, "Why! what are men in the Methodist meetin' house for, if it hain't to guard the more weaker sect, and keep cares offen 'em?"

And one or two on 'em mentioned the words, "cooin' doves" and "sweet tender flowerets," as is the way of men at such times. But they wuz in too big a hurry to spread themselves (as you may say) in this direction. They had to hurry off to tell the great news to other places in Jonesville and up as fer as Loontown and Zoar.

But Sister Arvilly Lanfear, who happened to be a-standin' in the door as they went off, she said she heard 'em out as fer as the gate a-congratilatin' themselves and the Methodist Meetin' House and the nation on the decesion, for, sez they,

"Them angels hain't strong enough to set, and I've known it all the time."

And Sister Sylvester Gowdy sez to me, a-rubbin' herachin' armpits -

"If they are as beet out as we be they'd be glad to set down on anything - a Conference or anything else."

And I sez, a-wipin' the presperatin of hard labor from my forwerd,

"For the land's sake! Yes! I should think so."

And then with giddy heads and strainin' armpits we tackled the meetin' house agin.

[Illustration: The End]