Wall, from that night, Miss Trueman Pool attended to the meetins at the Risley school-house, stiddy and constant. And before the week wuz out Joe Charnick had walked home with her twice. And the next week he carried her to Jonesville to get the cloth for her robe, jest like his'n, white book muslin. And twice he had come to consult her on a Bible passage, and twice she had walked up to his mother's to consult with her on a passage in the Apockraphy. And once she went up to see if her wings wuz es deep and full es his'n. She wanted 'em jest the same size.
Miss Charnick couldn't bear her. Miss Charnick wuz a woman who had enjoyed considerble poor health in her life, and she had now, and had been havin' for years, some dretful bad spells in her stomach - a sort of a tightness acrost her chest. And Trueman's wife argued with her that her spells had been worse, and her chest had been tighter. And the old lady didn't like that at all, of course. And the old lady took thoroughwert for 'em, and Trueman's wife insisted on't that thoroughwert wuz tightenin'.
And then there wuz some chickens in a basket out on the stoop, that the old hen had deserted, and Miss Charnick wuz a bringin' 'em up by hand. And Mother Chainick went out to feed 'em, and Trueman's wife tosted her head and said, "she didn't approve of it - she thought a chicken ought to be brung up by a hen."
But Miss Charnick said, "Why, the hen deserted 'em; they would have perished right there in the nest."
But Trueman's wife wouldn't gin in, she stuck right to it, "that it wuz a hen's business, and nobody else's."
And of course she had some sense on her side, for of course it is a hen's business, her duty and her prevelege to bring up her chickens. But if she won't do it, why, then, somebody else has got to - they ought to be brung. I say Mother Charnick wuz in the right on't. But Trueman's wife had got so in the habit of findin' fault, and naggin' at me, and the other relations on Trueman's side and hern, that she couldn't seem to stop it when she knew it wuz for her interest to stop.
And then she ketched a sight of the alpacker dress Jenette wuz a-makin' and she said "that basks had gone out."
And Miss Charnick was over partial to 'em (most too partial, some thought), and thought they wuz in the height of the fashion. But Trueman's wife ground her right down on it.
"Basks wuz out, fer she knew it, she had all her new ones made polenay."
And hearin' 'em argue back and forth for more'n a quarter of an hour, Jenette put in and sez (she thinks all the world of Mother Charnick), "Wall, I s'pose you won't take much good of your polenays, if you have got so little time to wear 'em."
And then Trueman's wife (she wuz meen-dispositioned, anyway) said somethin' about "hired girls keepin' their place."
And then Mother Charnick flared right up and took Jenette's part. And Joe's face got red; he couldn't bear to see Jenette put upon, if she wuz makin' fun of his religeon. And Trueman's wife see that she had gone too fur, and held herself in, and talked good to Jenette, and flattered up Joe, and he went home with her and staid till ten o'clock.
They spent a good deal of their time a-huntin' up passages, to prove their doctrine, in the Bible, and the Apockraphy, and Josephus, and others.
It beat all how many Trueman's wife would find, and every one she found Joe would seem to think the more on her. And so it run along, till folks said they wuz engaged, and Josiah and me thought so, too.
And though Jenette wuzn't the one to say anything, she begun to look kinder pale and mauger. And when I spoke of it to her, she laid it to her liver. And I let her believe I thought so too. And I even went so fur as to recommend tansey and camomile tea, with a little catnip mixed in - I did it fur blinders. I knew it wuzn't her liver that ailed her. I knew it wuz her heart. I knew it wuz her heart that wuz a-achin'.
Wall, we had our troubles, Josiah and me did. Trueman's wife wuz dretful disagreeable, and would argue us down, every separate thing we tried to do or say. And she seemed more high-headed and disagreeable than ever sence Joe had begun to pay attention to her. Though what earthly good his attention wuz a-goin' to do, wuz more than I could see, accordin' to her belief.
But Josiah said, "he guessed Joe wouldn't have paid her any attention, if he hadn't thought that the world wuz a-comin' to a end so soon. He guessed he wouldn't want her round if it wuz a-goin' to stand."
Sez I, "Josiah, you are a-judgin' Joe by yourself." And he owned up that he wuz.
Wall, the mornin' of the 30th, after Josiah and me had eat our breakfast, I proceeded to mix up my bread. I had set the yeast overnight, and I wuz a mouldin' it out into tins when Trueman's wife come down-stairs with her robe over her arm. She wanted to iron it out and press the seams.
I had baked one tin of my biscuit for breakfast, and I had kep 'em warm for Trueman's wife, for she had been out late the night before to a meetin' to Risley school-house, and didn't come down to breakfast. I had also kep some good coffee warm for her, and some toast and steak.
She laid her robe down over a chair-back, and sot down to her breakfast, but begun the first thing to find fault with me for bein' to work on that day. She sez, "The idee, of the last day of the world, and you a-bein' found makin' riz biscuit, yeast ones!" sez she.
"Wall," sez I, "I don't know but I had jest as soon be found a-makin' riz biscuit, a-takin' care of my own household, as the Lord hes commanded me to, as to be found a-sailin' round in a book muslin Mother Hubbard."
"It hain't a Mother Hubbard!" sez she.
"Wall," sez I, "I said it for oritory. But it is puckered up some like them, and you know it." Hers wuz made with a yoke.
And Josiah sot there a-fixin' his plantin' bag. He wuz a-goin' out that mornin' to plant over some corn that the crows had pulled up. And she bitterly reproved him. But he sez, "If the world don't come to a end, the corn will be needed."
"But it will," she sez in a cold, haughty tone.
[Illustration: "WALL," SEZ HE, "IF IT DOES, I MAY AS WELL BE DOIN' THAT AS TO BE SETTIN' ROUND."]
"Wall," sez he, "if it does, I may as well be a-doin' that as to be settin' round." And he took his plantin' bag and went out. And then she jawed me for upholdin' him.
And sez she, as she broke open a biscuit and spread it with butter previous to eatin' it, sez she, "I should think respect, respect for the great and fearful thought of meetin' the Lord, would scare you out of the idea of goin' on with your work."
Sez I calmly, "Does it scare you, Trueman's wife?"
"Wall, not exactly scare," sez she, "but lift up, lift up far above bread and other kitchen work."
And again she buttered a large slice, and I sez calmly, "I don't s'poze I should be any nearer the Lord than I am now. He sez He dwells inside of our hearts, and I don't see how He could get any nearer to us than that. And anyway, what I said to you I keep a-sayin', that I think He would approve of my goin' on calm and stiddy, a-doin' my best for the ones He put in my charge here below, my husband, my children, and my grandchildren." (I some expected Tirzah Ann and the babe home that day to dinner.)
"Wall, you feel very diffrent from some wimmen that wuz to the school-house last night, and act very diffrent. They are good Christian females. It is a pity you wuzn't there. P'raps your hard heart would have melted, and you would have had thoughts this mornin' that would soar up above riz biscuit."
And as she sez this she begun on her third biscuit, and poured out another cup of coffee. And I, wantin' to use her well, sez, "What did they do there?"
"Do!" sez she, "why, it wuz the most glorious meetin' we ever had. Three wimmen lay at one time perfectly speechless with the power. And some of em' screemed so you could hear 'em fer half a mile."
I kep on a-mouldin' my bread out into biscuit (good shaped ones, too, if I do say it), and sez calmly, "Wall, I never wuz much of a screemer. I have always believed in layin' holt of the duty next to you, and doin' some things, things He has commanded. Everybody to their own way. I don't condemn yourn, but I have always seemed to believe more in the solid, practical parts of religion, than the ornimental. I have always believed more in the power of honesty, truth, and justice, than in the power they sometimes have at camp and other meetins. Howsumever," sez I, "I don't say but what that power is powerful, to the ones that have it, only I wuz merely observin' that it never wuz my way to lay speechless or holler much - not that I consider hollerin' wrong, if you holler from principle, but I never seemed to have a call to."
"You would be far better if you did," sez Trueman's wife, "far better. But you hain't good enough."
"Oh!" sez I, reasonably, "I could holler if I wanted to, but the Lord hain't deef. He sez specilly, that He hain't, and so I never could see the use in hollerin' to Him. And I never could see the use of tellin' Him in public so many things as some do. Why He knows it. He knows all these things. He don't need to have you try to enlighten Him as if you wuz His gardeen - as I have heard folks do time and time agin. He knows what we are, what we need. I am glad, Trueman's wife," sez I, "that He can look right down into our hearts, that He is right there in 'em a-knowin' all about us, all our wants, our joys, our despairs, our temptations, our resolves, our weakness, our blindness, our defects, our regrets, our remorse, our deepest hopes, our inspiration, our triumphs, our glorys. But when He is right there, in the midst of our soul, our life, why, why should we kneel down in public and holler at Him?"
"You would be glad to if you wuz good enough," sez she; "if you had attained unto a state of perfection, you would feel like it."
That kinder riled me up, and I sez, "Wall, I have lived in this house with them that wuz perfect, and that is bad enough for me, without bein' one of 'em myself. For more disagreeable creeters," sez I, a prickin' my biscuit with a fork, "more disagreeable creeters I never laid eyes on."
Trueman's wife thinks she is perfect, she has told me so time and agin - thinks she hain't done anything wrong in upwards of a number of years.
But she didn't say nothin' to this, only begun agin about the wickedness and immorality of my makin' riz biscuit that mornin', and the deep disgrace of Josiah Allen keepin' on with his work.
But before I could speak up and take his part, for I will not hear my companion found fault with by any female but myself, she had gathered up her robe, and swept upstairs with it, leavin' orders for a flatiron to be sent up.
Wall, the believers wuz all a-goin' to meet at the Risley school-house that afternoon. They wuz about 40 of 'em, men and wimmen. And I told Josiah at noon, I believed I would go down to the school-house to the meetin'. And he a-feelin', I mistrust, that if they should happen to be in the right on't, and the world should come to a end, he wanted to be by the side of his beloved pardner, he offered to go too. But he never had no robe, no, nor never thought of havin'.
The Risley school-house stood in a clearin', and had tall stumps round it in the door-yard. And we had heard that some of the believers wuz goin' to get up on them stumps, so's to start off from there. And sure enough, we found it wuz the calculation of some on 'em.
The school-boys had made steps up the sides of some of the biggest stumps, and lots of times in political meetin's men had riz up on 'em to talk to the masses below. Why I s'poze a crowd of as many as 45 or 48, had assembled there at one time durin' the heat of the campain.
But them politicians had on their usual run of clothes, they didn't have on white book muslin robes. Good land!