But Josiah Allen wuz jest crazy over that lecture - crazy as a loon. He raved about it all the way home, and he would repeat over lots of it to me. About "how a man's love was the firm anchor that held a woman's happiness stiddy; how his calm and peaceful influence held her mind in a serene calm - a waveless repose; how tender men wuz of the fair sect, how they watched over 'em and held 'em in their hearts."
"Oh," sez he, "it went beyond anything I ever heard of. I always knew that men wuz good and pious, but I never realized how dumb pious they wuz till to-night"
"She said," sez I, in considerable dry axents - not so dry as I keep by me, but pretty dry - "No true man would let a woman perform any manuel labor."
"Wall, he won't. There ain't no need of your liftin' your little finger in emanuel labor."
"Wall, I said so, didn't I? Hain't I always holdin' you back from work?"
"Yes," sez I. "You often speak of it, Josiah. You are as good," sez I, firmly, "full as good as the common run of men, and I think a little better. But there are things that have to be done. A married woman that has a house and family to see to and don't keep a hired girl, can't get along without some work and care."
"Wall I say," sez he, "that there hain't no need of you havin' a care, not a single care. Not as long as I live - if it wuzn't for me, you might have some cares, and most probable would, but not while I live."
I didn't say nothin' back, for I don't want to hurt his feelin's, and won't, not if I can help it. And he broke out again anon, or nearly anon -
[Illustration: "OH, WHAT A LECTURE THAT WUZ."]
"Oh, what a lecture that wuz. Did you notice when she wuz goin' on perfectly beautiful, about the waveless sea of married life - did you notice how it took the school house down? And I wuz perfectly mortified to see you didn't weep or even clap your hands."
"Wall," sez I, firmly, "when I weep or when I clap, I weep and clap on the side of truth. And I can't see things as she duz. I have been a-sailin' on that sea she depictured for over twenty years, and have never wanted to leave it for any other waters. But, as I told her, and tell you now, it hain't always a smooth sea, it has its ups and downs, jest like any other human states."
Sez I, soarin' up a very little ways, not fur, for it wuz too cold, and I was too tired, "There hain't but one sea, Josiah Allen, that is calm forever, and one day we will float upon it, you and me. It is the sea by which angels walk and look down into its crystal depths, and behold their blessed faces. It is the sea on whose banks the fadeless lilies blow - and that mirrors the soft, cloudless sky of the Happy Morning. It is the sea of Eternal Repose, that rude blasts can never blow up into billows. But our sea - the sea of married life - is not like that, it is ofttimes billowy and rough."
"I say it hain't," sez he, for he was jest carried away with the lecture, and enthused. "We have had a happy time together, Josiah Allen, for over twenty years, but has our sea of life always been perfectly smooth?"
"Yes, it has; smooth as glass."
"Hain't there never been a cloud in our sky?"
"No, there hain't; not a dumb cloud."
Sez I, sternly, "There has in mine. Your wicked and profane swearin' has cast many and many a cloud over my sky, and I'd try to curb in my tongue if I was in your place."
"'Dumb' hain't swearin'," sez he. And then he didn't say nothin' more till anon, or nearly at that time, he broke out agin, and sez he:
"Never, never did I hear or see such eloquence till to-night I'll have that girl down to our house to stay a week, if I'm a living Josiah Allen."
"All right," sez I, cheerfully. "I'd love to have her stay a week or ten days, and I'll invite her, too, when she comes down to rehearse her lecture."
Wall we got home middlin' tired, and the subject kinder dropped down, and Josiah had lots of work come on the next day, and so did I, and company. And it run along for over a week before she come. And when she did come, it wuz in a dreadful bad time. It seems as if she couldn't have come in a much worse time.
It wuz early one mornin', not more than nine o'clock, if it wuz that. There had come on a cold snap of weather unexpected, and Josiah wuz a-bringin' in the cook stove from the summer kitchen, when she come.
Josiah Allen is a good man. He is my choice out of a world full of men, but I can't conceal it from myself that his words at such a time are always voyalent, and his demeanor is not the demeanor that I would wish to have showed off to the public.
He wuz at the worst place, too. He had got the stove wedged into the entry-way door, and couldn't get it either way. He had acted awkward with it, and I told him so, and he see it when it wuz too late.
He had got it fixed in such a way that he couldn't get into the kitchen himself without gettin' over the stove, and I, in the course of duty, thought it wuz right to tell him that if he had heerd to me he wouldn't have been in such a fix. Oh! the voyalence and frenzy of his demeanor as he stood there a-hollerin'. I wuz out in the wood-house shed a-bilin' my cider apple sass in the big cauldron kettle, but I heard the racket, and as I come a-runnin' in I thought I heard a little rappin' at the settin'-room door, but I didn't notice it much, I wuz that agitated to see the way the stove and Josiah wuz set and wedged in.
There the stove wuz, wedged firm into the doorway, perfectly sot there. There wuz sut all over the floor, and there stood Josiah Allen, on the wood-house side, with his coat off, his shirt all covered with black, and streaks of black all over his face. And oh! how wild and almost frenzied his attitude wuz as he stood there as if he couldn't move nor be moved no more than the stove could. And oh! the voyalence of the language he hurled at me acrost that stove.
"Why," sez I, "you must come in here, Josiah Allen, and pull it from this side."
And then he hollered at me, and asked me:
"How in thunder he was a goin' to get in." And then he wanted to know "if I wanted him squshed into jelly by comin' in by the side of it - or if I thought he wuz a crane, that he could step over it or a stream of water that he could run under it, or what else do you think?" He hollered wildly.
"Wall," sez I, "you hadn't ort to got it fixed in that shape. I told you what end to move first," sez I. "You have moved it in side-ways. It would go in all right if you had started it the other way."
"Oh, yes! It would have been all right. You love to see me, Samantha, with a stove in my arms. You love it dearly. I believe you would be perfectly happy if you could see me a luggin' round stoves every day. But I'll tell you one thing, if this dumb stove is ever moved either way out of this door - if I ever get it into a room agin, it never shall be stirred agin so much as a hair's breadth - not while I have got the breath of life in me."
Sez I, "Hush! I hear somebody a-knockin' at the door."
"I won't hush. It is nothin' but dumb foolishness a movin' round stoves, and if anybody don't believe it let 'em look at me - and let 'em look at that stove set right here in the door as firm as a rock."
[Illustration: "WON'T YOU BE STILL?"]
Sez I agin in a whisper, "Do be still, and I'll let 'em in, I don't want them to ketch you a talkin' so and a-actin'." "Wall, I want 'em to ketch me, that is jest what I want 'em to do. If it is a man he'll say every word I say is Gospel truth, and if it is a woman it will make her perfectly happy to see me a-swelterin' in the job - seven times a year do I have to move this stove back and forth - and I say it is high time I said a word. So you can let 'em in just as quick as you are a mind to."
Sez I, a whisperin' and puttin' my finger on my lip:
"Won't you be still?"
"No, I won't be still!" he yelled out louder than ever. "And you may go through all the motions you want to and you can't stop me. All you have got to do is to walk round and let folks in, happy as a king. Nothin' under the heavens ever made a woman so happy as to have some man a-breakin' his back a-luggin' round a stove."
I see he wouldn't stop, so I had to go and open the door, and there stood Serena Fogg, there stood the author of "Wedlock's Peaceful Repose." I felt like a fool. For I knew she had heard every word, I see she had by her looks. She looked skairt, and as surprised and sort o' awe-stricken as if she had seen a ghost. I took her into the parlor, and took her things, and I excused myself by tellin' her that I should have to be out in the kitchen a-tendin' to things for a spell, and went back to Josiah.
And I whispered to him, sez I: "Miss Fogg has come, and she has heard every word you have said, Josiah Allen. And what will she think now about Wedlock's Peaceful Repose?"
But he had got that wild and reckless in his demeanor and acts, that he went right on with his hollerin', and, sez he, "She won't find much repose here to-day, and I'll tell her that. This house has got to be all tore to pieces to get that stove started."
Sez I, "There won't be nothin' to do only to take off one side of the door casin'. And I believe it can be done without that."
"Oh, you believe! you believe! You'd better take holt and lug and lift for two hours as I have, and then see."
Sez I, "You hain't been here more'n ten minutes, if you have that. And there," sez I, liftin' up one end a little, "see what anybody can do who is calm. There I have stirred it, and now you can move it right along." "Oh, you did it! I moved it myself."
I didn't contend, knowin' it wuz men's natural nater to say that.
[Illustration: "AND HE SAID I HAD RUBBED 'EM OUT."]
Wall, at last Josiah got the stove in, but then the stove-pipe wouldn't go together, it wouldn't seem to fit. He had marked the joints with chalk, and the marks had rubbed off, and he said I had "rubbed 'em out." I wuz just as innocent as a babe, but I didn't dispute him much, for I see a little crack open in the parlor door, and I knew the author of "Wedlock's Peaceful Repose" was a-listenin'.
But when he told me for the third time that I rubbed 'em out on purpose to make him trouble, and that I had made a practice of rubbin' 'em out for years and years - why, then I had to correct him on the subject, and we had a little dialogue.
I spoze Serena Fogg heard it. But human nater can't bear only just so much, especially when it has stoves a dirtien up the floor, and apple sass on its mind, and unexpected company, and no cookin' and a threshin' machine a-comin'.