And now I am goin' to relate the very singulerist thing that ever happened in Jonesville, or the world - although it is eppisodin' to tell on it now, and also a-gettin' ahead of my story, and hitchin', as you may say, my cart in front of my horse. But it has got to be told and I don't know but I may as well tell it now as any time.
Mebby you won't believe it. I don't know as I should myself, if it wuz told to me, that is, if it come through two or three. But any way it is the livin' truth.
That very night as Submit Tewksbury sat alone at her supper table, a-lookin' at that vacent spot on the table-cloth opposite to her, where the plate laid for Samuel Danher had set for over twenty years, she heard a knock at the door, and she got up hasty and wiped away her tears and opened the door. A man stood there in the cold a-lookin' into the warm cosy little room. He didn't say nothin', he acted strange. He gin Submit a look that pierced clear to her heart (so they say). A look that had in it the crystallized love and longin' of twenty years of faithfulness and heart hunger and homesickness. It wuz a strange look.
Submit's heart begun to flutter, and her face grew red and then white, and she sez in a little fine tremblin' voice,
"Who be you?"
And he sez,
"I am Samuel Danker."
And then they say she fainted dead away, and fell over the rockin' chair, he not bein' near enough to ketch her.
And he brung her to on a burnt feather that fell out of the chair cushion when she fell. There wuz a small hole in it, so they say, and the feather oozed out.
I don't tell this for truth, I only say that they say thus and so.
[Illustration: "I AM SAMUEL DANKER."]
But as to Samuel's return, that I can swear to, and so can Josiah. And that they wuz married that very night of his return, that too can be swore to. A old minister who lived next door to Submit - superanuated, but life enough in him to marry 'em safe and sound, a-performin' the ceremony.
It made a great stir in Jonesville, almost enormus.
But they wuz married safe enough, and happy as two gambolin' lambs, so they say. Any way Submit looks ten years younger than she did, and I don't know but more. I don't know but she looks eleven or twelve years younger, and Samuel, why they say it is a perfect sight to see how happy he looks, and how he has renewed his age.
The hull affair wuz very pleasin' to the Jonesvillians. Why there wuzn't more'n one or two villians but what wuz fairly delighted by it, and they wuz spozed to be envius.
And I drew severel morals from it, and drew 'em quite a good ways too, over both religous and seckuler grounds.
One of the seekuler ones wuz drawed from her not settin' the table for him that night, for the first time for twenty years, givin' away the plate, and settin' on (with tears) only a stun chiny one for herself. How true it is that if a female woman keeps dressed up slick, piles of extra good cookin' on hand, and her house oncommon clean, and she sets down in a rockin' chair, lookin' down the road for company.
[Illustration: "THEY DON'T COME!"] They don't come!
But let her on a cold mornin' leave her dishes onwashed, and her floors onswept, and put on her husband's old coat over her meanest dress, and go out (at his urgent request) to help him pick up apples before the frost spiles 'em. She a-layin' out to cook up some vittles to put on to her empty shelves when she goes into the house, she not a-dreamin' of company at that time of day.
Another moral and a more religeus one. When folks set alone sheddin' tears on their empty hands, that seem to 'em to be emptied of all hope and happiness forever. Like es not some Divine Compensation is a-standin' right on the door steps, ready to enter in and dwell with 'em.
Also that when Submit Tewksbury thought she had gin away for conscience' sake, her dearest treasure, she had a dearer one gin to her - Samuel Danker by name.
[Illustration: "THEY COME."]
Also I drew other ones of various sizes, needless to recapitulate, for time is hastenin', and I have eppisoded too fur, and to resoom, and take up agin on my finger the thread of my discourse, that I dropped in the Methodist meetin' house at Jonesville, in front of the treasurer.
Wall, Submit brought the plate.
Sister Nash brought twenty-three cents all in pennys, tied up in the corner of a old handkercif. She is dretful poor, but she had picked up these here and there doin' little jobs for folks.
And we hadn't hardly the heart to take 'em, nor the heart to refuse takin' 'em, she wuz so set on givin' 'em. And it wuz jest so with Mahala Crane, Joe Cranes'es widder.
She, too, is poor, but a Christian, if there ever wuz one. She had made five pair of overhawls for the clothin' store in Loontown, for which she had received the princely revenue of fifty cents.
She handed the money over to the treasurer, and we wuz all on us extremely worked upon and wrought up to see her do it, for she did it with such a cheerful air. And her poor old calico dress she had on wuz so thin and wore out, and her dingy alpaca shawl wuz thin to mendin', and all darned in spots. We all felt that Mahala had ort to took the money to get her a new dress.
[Illustration: "SISTER ARVILLY LANFRAR, CANVASSIN' FOR A BOOK."]
But we dasted none on us to say so to her. I wouldn't have been the one to tell her that for a dollar bill, she seemed to be so happy a-givin' her part towerds the fair, and for the good of the meetin' house she loved.
Wall, Sister Meachim had earned two dollars above her wages - she is a millinner by perswasion, and works at a millinner's shop in Jonesville. She had earned the two dollars by stayin' and workin' nights after the day's work wuz done.
And Sister Arvilly Lanfear had earned three dollars and twenty-eight cents by canvassin' for a book. The name of the book wuz: "The Wild, Wicked, and Warlike Deeds of Man."
And Arvilly said she had took solid comfort a-sellin' it, though she had to wade through snow and slush half way up to her knees some of the time, a-trailin' round from house to house a-takin' orders fer it. She said she loved to sell a book that wuz full of truth from the front page to the back bindin'.
As for me I wouldn't gin a cent for the book, and I remember we had some words when she come to our house with it. I told her plain that I wouldn't buy no book that belittled my companion, or tried to - sez I, "Arvilly, men are jest as good as wimmen and no better, not a mite better."
And Arvilly didn't like it, but I made it up to her in other ways. I gin her some lamb's wool yarn for a pair of stockin's most immegictly afterwerds, and a half bushel of but'nuts. She is dretful fond of but'nuts.
[Illustration: "OLD MISS BALCH."]
Wall, Sister Shelmadine had sold ten pounds of maple sugar, and brought the worth on it.
And Sister Henzy brung four dollars and a half, her husband had gin her for another purpose, but she took it for this, and thought there wuzn't no harm in it, as she laid out to go without the four dollars and a halt's worth. It was fine shoes he had gin the money for, and she calculated to make the old ones do.
And Sister Henzy's mother, old Miss Balch, she is eighty-three years old, and has inflamatery rheumatiz in her hands, which makes 'em all swelled up and painful. But Sister Henzy said her mother had knit three pairs of fringed mittens (the hardest work for her hands she could have laid holt of, and which must have hurt her fearful). But Miss Henzy said a neighbor had offered her five dollars fer the three pairs, and so she felt it wuz her duty to knit 'em, to help the fair along. She is a very strong Methodist, and loved to forwerd the interests of Zion.
She wuz goin' to give every cent of the money to the meetin' house, so Sister Henzy said, all but ten cents, that she had to have to get Pond's Extract with, to bathe her hands. They wuz in a fearful state. We all felt bad for old Miss Balch, and I don't believe there wuz a woman there but what gin her some different receipt fer helpin' her hands, besides sympathy, lots and lots of it, and pity.
Wall, Sister Sypher'ses husband is clost, very clost with her. She don't have anythin' to give, only her labor, as well off as they be. And now he wuz so wrapped up in that buzz saw mill business that she wouldn't have dasted to approach him any way, that is, to ask him for a cent.
Wall, what should that good little creeter do but gin all the money she had earned and saved durin' the past year or two, and had laid by for emergincies or bunnets.
She had got over two dollars and seventy-five cents, which she handed right over to the treasurer of the fair to get materials for fancy work. When they wuz got she proposed to knit three pairs of men's socks out of zephyr woosted, and she said she was goin' to try to pick enough strawberrys to buy a pair of the socks for Deacon Sypher. She said it would be a comfort for her to do it, for they would be so soft for the Deacon's feet.
Wall, Sister Gowdy wuz the last one to gin in dress gin to her by her uncle out to the Ohio. It wuz gin her to mourn for her mother-in-law in.
And what should that good, willin' creeter do but bring that dress and gin it to the fair to sell.
We hated to take it, we hated to like dogs, for we knew Sister Gowdy needed it.
But she would make us take it; she said "if her Mother Gowdy wuz alive, she would say to her,
"Sarah Ann, I'd ruther not be mourned for in bombazeen than to have the dear old meetin' house in Jonesville go to destruction. Sell the dress and mourn fer me in a black calico."
That Sister Gowdy said would be, she knew, what Mother Gowdy would say to her if she wuz alive.
And we couldn't dispute Sarah Ann, for we all knew that old Miss Gowdy worked for the meetin' house as long as she could work for anything. She loved the Methodist meetin' house better than she loved husband or children, though she wuz a good wife and mother. She died with cramps, and her last request wuz to have this hymn sung to her funeral:
The quire all loved Mother Gowdy, and sung it accordin' to her wishes, and broke down, I well remember, at the third verse -
The quire broke down, and the minister himself shed tears to think how she had carried out her belief all her life, and died with the thought of the church she loved on her heart and its name on her lips.
Wall, the dress would sell at the least calculation for eight dollars; the storekeeper had offered that, but Sarah Ann hoped it would bring ten to the fair.
It wuz a cross to Sarah Ann, so we could see, for she had loved Mother Gowdy dretful well, and loved the uncle who had gin it to her, and she hadn't a nice black dress to her back. But she said she hadn't lived with Mother Gowdy twenty years for nothin', and see how she would always sacrifice anything and everything but principle for the good of the meetin' house.
Sister Gowdy is a good-hearted woman, and we all on us honored her for this act of hern, though we felt it wuz almost too much for her to do it.
Wall, Sister Gowdy wuz the last one to gin in her testimony, and havin' got through relatin' our experiences we proceeded to business and paperin'.