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& Showart Phelfe
IN THE GRAY GOTH.
F the wick of the big oil lamp had diah has been good to you, I'm sure,
I would ever have happened.
you've cost him a sight, spending Where is the poker, Johnny? Can't three hundred and fifty dollars a year you push back that for’ard log a little ? at Amherst College. Dear, dear! Well, it does n't make But, as I was going to say, when much difference, does it? Something I started to talk about '41,- to tell always seems to ail your Massachu- the truth, Johnny, I'm always a long setts fires ; your hickory is green, and while coming to it, I believe. I'm your maple is gnarly, and the worms getting to be an old man, a little eat out your oak like a sponge. I of a coward, maybe, and sometimes, have n't seen anything like what I call a when I sit alone here nights, and think fire, — not since Mary Ann was married, it over, it's just like the toothache, and I came here to stay. “ As long as Johnny. As I was saying, if she had you live, father,” she said ; and in that cut that wick straight, I do believe it very letter she told me I should al- would n't have happened, — though it is ways have an open fire, and how she n't that I mean to lay the blame on her would n't let Jacob put in the air-tight in the sitting-room, but had the fire- I'd been out at work all day about place kept on purpose.
Mary Ann the place, slicking things up for towas a good girl always, if I remember morrow; there was a gap in the straight, and I'm sure I don't com- barn-yard fence to mend, -- I left that plain. Is n't that a pine-knot at the till the last thing, I remember, - I bottom of the basket? There! that's remember everything, some way or better.
other, that happened that day, - and Let me see; I began to tell you there was a new roof to put on the something, did n’t 1? O yes ; about pig-pen, and the grape-vine needed that winter of '41. I remember now. an extra layer of straw, and the latch I declare, I can't get over it, to think was loose on the south barn door ; you never heard about it, and you then I had to go round and take a twenty-four year old come Christmas. last look at the sheep, and toss down You don't know much more, either, an extra forkful for the cows, and go about Maine folks and Maine fashions into the stall to have a talk with Ben, than you do about China, - though it's and unbutton the coop door to see if small wonder, for the matter of that, the bens looked warm, -- just to tuck you were such a little shaver when 'em up, as you might say. I always Uncle Jed took you. There were a felt sort of homesick - though I great many of us, it seems to me, would n't have owned up to it, not that year, I 'most forget how many; even to Nancy - saying good by to we buried the twins next summer, did the creeturs the night before I went n't we? - then there was Mary Ann, in. There, now! it beats all, to think and little Nancy, and — well, coffee you don't know what I'm talking was dearer than ever I'd seen it, I know, about, and you a lumberman's son. about that time, and butter selling for “Going in " is going up into the nothing; we just threw our milk away, woods, you know, to cut and haul and there was n't any market for eggs; for the winter, — up, sometimes, a hunbesides doctor's bills and Isaac to be dred miles deep, -in in the fall and sent to school; so it seemed to be the out in the spring ; whole gangs of us best thing, though your mother took shut up there sometimes for six on pretty badly about it at first. Jede- months, then down with the freshets
on the logs,tande aul' summer to work I?ve tipped the lamp over, and you the farm, - a merry sort of life when just get a cloth and wipe up the oil.” you get used to it, Johnny; but it “Dear me!” said she, lighting a canwas a great while ago, and it seems dle, and she spoke up very soft, too. to me as if it must have been very “ Please, Aaron, don't let the cold in cold. — Is n't there a little draft com- on baby. I 'm sorry it was smoking, ‘ing in at the pantry door ?
but I never knew a thing about it; he's So when I'd said good by to the been fretting and taking on so the last creeturs, – I remember just as plain hour, I did n't notice anyway." how Ben put bis great neck on my “ That's just what you ought to shoulder and whinnied like a baby,– have done,” says I, madder than ever. that horse knew when the season “You know how I hate the stuff, and came round and I was going in, just you ought to have cared more about as well as I did, - 1 tinkered up the me than to choke me up with it this barn-yard fence, and locked the doors, way the last night before going in." and went in to supper.
Nancy was a patient, gentle-spoken I gave my finger a knock with the
sort of woman, and would bear a good hammer, which may have had some- deal from a fellow; but she used to thing to do with it, for a man does n't fire up sometimes, and that was more feel very good-natured when he's been than she could stand. “ You don't degreen enough to do a thing like that, serve to be cared about, for speaking and he does n't like to say it aches like that!” says she, with her cheeks either. But if there is anything I as red as peat-coals. can't bear it is lamp-smoke; it al- That was right before the children. ways did put me out, and I expect Mary Ann's eyes were as big as sauit always will. Nancy knew what a cers, and little Nancy was crying at fuss I made about it, and she was al- the top of her lungs, with the baby ways very careful not to hector me tuning in, so we knew it was time to with it. I ought to have remembered stop. But stopping was n't ending ; that, but I did n't. She had lighted and folks can look things that they the company lamp on purpose, too, don't say. because it was my last night. I liked We sat down to supper as glum as it better than the tallow candle. pump-handles; there were some frit
So I came in, stamping off the snow, ters — I never knew anybody beat your and they were all in there about the mother at fritters -smoking hot off fire, - the twins, and Mary Ann, and the stove, and some maple molasses the rest; baby was sick, and Nancy in one of the best chiny teacups; I was walking back and forth with him, knew well enough it was just on purwith little Nancy pulling at her gown. pose for my last night, but I never had You were the baby then, I believe, a word to say, and Nancy crumbed Johnny ; but there always.was a baby, up the children's bread with a jerk. and I don't rightly remember. The Her cheeks did n't grow any whiter; room was so black with smoke, that it seemed as if they would blaze they all looked as if they were swim- right up,- I could n't help looking at ming round and round in it. I guess them, for all I pretended not to, for coming in from the cold, and the pain she looked just like a pictur. Some in my finger and all, it made me a bit women always are pretty when they sick. At any rate, I threw open the are put out, - and then again, some window and blew out the light, as mad ain't; it appears to me there 's a great as a hornet.
difference in women, very much as “Nancy,” said I, “this room would there is in hens; now, there was strangle a dog, and you might have your aunt Deborah, — but there, I known it, if you'd had two eyes to see won't get on that track now, only so what you were about. There, now! far as to say that when she was flustered up she used to go red all overlooking up at the ceiling, as
she were something like a piny, which did n't trying her best to forget I was there. seem to have just the same effect. That was a way she had when I was
That supper was a very dreary sort courting, and we went along to huskof supper, with the baby crying, and ings together, with the moon shining Nancy getting up between the mouth- round. fuls to walk up and down the room Well, I kept on smoking, and she with him ; he was a heavy little chap kept on looking at the ceiling, and nofor a ten-month-old, and I think she body said a word for a while, till by must have been tuckered out with and by the fire burnt down, and she him all day. I did n't think about it got up and put on a fresh log. then; a
man does n't notice such “ You 're dreadful wasteful with the things when he's angry, - it is n't in wood, Nancy,” says I, bound to say him. I can't say but she would if I'd something cross, and that was all I been in her place. I just eat up the could think of. fritters and the maple molasses, “ Take care of your own fire, then,” seems to me I told her she ought not says she, throwing the log down and to use the best chiny cup, but I'm not standing up as straight as she could ! * just sure, - and then I took my pipe, stand. “I think it's a pity if you and sat down in the corner.
have n't anything better to do, the I watched her putting the children last night before going in, than to pick to bed; they made her a great deal everything I do to pieces this way, and of bother, squirming off of her lap and I tired enough to drop, carrying that running round barefoot. Sometimes great crying child in my arms all day. I used to hold them and talk to them You ought to be ashamed of yourself
, and help her a bit, when I felt good- Aaron Hollis!” natured, but I just sat and smoked, and Now if she had cried a little, very let them alone. I was all worked up like I should have given up, and that about that lamp-wick, and I thought, would have been the end of it, for I you see, if she had n't had any feelings never could bear to see a woman cry; for me there was no need of my having it goes against the grain. But your any for her, – if she had cut the wick, mother was n't one of the crying sort, I'd have taken the babies ; she had n't and she did n't feel like it that night. cut the wick, and I would n't take the She just stood up there by the firebabies ; she might see it if she want- place, as proud as Queen Victory, ed to, and think what she pleased. I I don't blame her, Johnny, -O no, I had been badly treated, and I meant don't blame her; she had the right of to show it.
it there, I ought to have been ashamed It is strange, Johnny, it really does of myself; but a man never likes to seem to me very strange, how easy it hear that from other folks, and I put is in this world to be always taking my pipe down on the chimney-shelf so care of our rights. I've thought a hard I heard it snap like ice, and I great deal about it since I've been stood up too, and said — but no matter growing old, and there seems to me what I said, I guess. A man's quara good many things we'd better look rels with his wife always make me after fust.
think of what the Scripture says about But you see I had n't found that out other folks not intermeddling. They're in '41, and so I sat in the corner, and felt things, in my opinion, that don't convery much abused. I can't say but cern anybody else as a general thing, what Nancy had pretty much the same and I could n't tell what I said without idea ; for when the young ones were all telling what she said, and I'd rather in bed at last, she took her knitting not do that. Your mother was as good and sat down the other side of the fire, and patient-tempered a woman as ever sort of turning her head round and lived, Johnny, and she did n't mean it, VOL. XX. - NO. 121.
and it was I that set her on. Besides, for your mother was a spirited sort my words were worst of the two. of woman when her temper was up;
Well, well, I 'll hurry along just here, so there we were, more like enemies for it's not a time I like to think about; sworn against each other than man but we had it back and forth there for and wife who had loved each other true half an hour, till we had angered each for fifteen years, a whole winter, and other up so I could n't stand it, and danger, and death perhaps, coming beI lifted up my hand, — I would have tween us, too. struck her if she had n't been a woman. It may seem very queer to you,
“ Well,” says I, “ Nancy Hollis, I'm Johnny, - it did to me when I was sorry for the day I married you, and your age, and did n't know any more that's the truth, if ever I spoke a true than you do, - how folks can work word in my life!”
themselves up into great quarrels out I would n't have told you that now of such little things; but they do, and if you could understand the rest with- into worse, if it's a man who likes his / out. I'd give the world, Johnny,- I'd own way, and a woman that knows
give the world and all those coupon how to talk. It 's my opinion, two J bonds Jedediah invested for me if I thirds of all the divorce cases in the
could anyway forget it; but I said it, law-books just grow up out of things? and I can't.
no bigger than that lamp-wick. Well, I've seen your mother look But how people that ever loved each 'most all sorts of ways in the course other could come to hard words like of her life, but I never saw her before, that, you don't see? Well, ha, ha! and I never saw her since, look as she Johnny, that amuses me, that really looked that minute. All the blaze went does amuse me, for I never out in her cheeks, as if somebody had young man nor a young woman either, thrown cold water on it, and she stood - and young men and young women there stock still, so white I thought she in general are very much like freshwould drop.
hatched chickens, to my mind, and "Aaron ” she began, and stopped know just about as much of the world, to catch her breath, “ Aaron —” but Johnny, — well, I never saw one yet she could n't get any farther ; she just who did n't say that very thing. And caught hold of a little shawl she had on what's more, I never saw one who with both her hands, as if she thought could get it into his head that old folks she could hold herself up by it, and knew better. walked right out of the room. I knew But I say I had loved your mother she had gone to bed, for I heard her true, Johnny, and she had loved me go up and shut the door. I stood true, for more than fifteen years; and there a few minutes with my hands in I loved her more the fifteenth year than my pockets, whistling Yankee Doodle. I did the first, and we could n't have Your mother used to say men were got along without each other, any more queer folks, Johnny ; they always whis, than you could get along if somebody tled up the gayest when they felt the cut your heart right out. We had wust. Then I went to the closet and laughed together and cried together ; got another pipe, and I did n't go up we had been sick, and we 'd been well stairs till it was smoked out.
together; we'd had our hard times When I was a young man, Johnny, and our pleasant times right along, side I used to be that sort of fellow that by side ; we 'd christened the babies, could n't bear to give up beat. I'd and we'd buried 'em, holding on to acted like a brute, and I knew it, but each other's hand; we had grown along I was too spunky to say so. So I says year after year, through ups and downs to myself, “ If she won't make up first, and downs and ups, just like one perI won't, and that's the end on 't.” son, and there was n't any more dividing Very likely she said the same thing, of us. But for all that we'd been put
out, and we'd had our two ways, and miles round with my muscle, and she we had spoken our sharp words like with those blue veins on her forehead. any other two folks, and this was n't Howsomever that may be, I was n't our first quarrel by any means.
used to letting her do it by herself, and I tell you, Johnny, young folks they so I lay with my eyes shut, and prestart in life with very pretty ideas,-very tended that I was asleep; for I did n't pretty. But take it as a general thing, feel like giving in, and speaking up they don't know any more what they're gentle, not about that nor anything else. talking about than they do about each I could see her though, between my other, and they don't know any more eyelashes, and I lay there, every time I about each other than they do about woke up, and watched her walking back the man in the moon. They begin and forth, back and forth, up and down, very nice, with their new carpets and with the heavy little fellow in her arms, teaspoons, and a little mending to doall night long. and coming home early evenings to Sometimes, Johnny, when I 'm gone talk; but by and by the shine wears to bed now of a winter night, I think I off. Then come the babies, and worry see her in her white nightgown with her and wear and temper. About that red-plaid shawl pinned over her shoultime they begin to be a little acquaint- ders and over the baby, walking up ed, and to find out that there are two and down, and up and down. I shut wills and two sets of habits to be fitted my eyes, but there she is, and I open somehow. It takes them anywhere them again, but I see her all the same. along from one year to three to get I was off very early in the morning; jostled down together. As for smooth- I don't think it could have been much ing off, there 's more or less of that to after three o'clock when I woke up. be done always.
Nancy had my breakfast all laid out Well, I did n't sleep very well that overnight, except the coffee, and we night, dropping into naps and waking had fixed it that I was to make up the up. The baby was worrying over his fire, and get off without waking her, if teeth every half-hour, and Nancy get the baby was very bad. At least, that ting up to walk him off to sleep in her was the way I wanted it; but she stuck arms, - it was the only way you would to it she should be up, — that was bebe hushed up, and you 'd lie and yell fore there 'd been any words between till somebody did it.
Now, it was n't many times since The room was very gray and still, we 'd been married that I had let her I remember just how it looked, with do that thing all night long. I used to Nancy's clothes on a chair, and the have a way of getting up to take my baby's shoes lying round. She had got turn, and sending her off to sleep. It him off to sleep in his cradle, and had is n't a man's business, some folks say. dropped into a nap, poor thing! with I don't know anything about that; her face as white as the shect, from maybe, if I'd been broiling my brain in watching. book learning all day till come night, I stopped when I was dressed, halfand I was hard put to it to get my sleep way out of the room, and looked round anyhow, like the parson there, it would- at it, - it was so white, Johnny! It n't; but all I know is, what if I had would be a long time before I should been breaking my back in the potato- see it again, ---- five months were a long patch since morning ? so she 'd broken time; then there was the risk, coming her's over the oven ; and what if I did down in the freshets, and the words I need nine hours' sound sleep? I could 'd said last night. I thought, you see, chop and saw without it next day, just if I should kiss it once, – I need n't as well as she could do the ironing, to wake her up, — maybe I should go off say nothing of my being a great stout feeling better. So I stood there lookfellow, - there was n't a chap for ten ing: she was lying so still, I could n't