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As I am recording the sacred events of History, I'll not bate one nail's breadth of the honest truth. W. IRVING.-Knickerbocker.
Hope, thou bold taster of delight,
MUCH was yet to be done this morning, and I was too much fatigued to wander about the hills any longer; so I sought shelter in a log-house at no great distance, to await the conclusion of the survey. I was received with a civil nod by the tall mistress of the mansion, and with a curiously grave and somewhat sweeping curtsey by her auburn-tressed daughter, whose hair was in curl papers, and her hands covered with dough. The room was occupied at one end by two large beds not partitioned off “private like,” but curtained in with cotton sheets pinned to the unhewn rafters. Between them stood a chest, and over the chest hung the Sunday wardrobe of the family; the go-to-meeting hats and bonnets, frocks and pantaloons of a goodly number of all sizes. The great open hearth was at the opposite end of the house, flanked on one side by an open cupboard, and on the other by a stick ladder. Large broadside sheets, caravan show bills were
pasted on the logs in different places, garnished with mammoth elephants, and hippopotamuses, over which “predominated ” Mr. Van Amburgh, with his head in the lion's mouth. A strip of dingy listing was nailed in such a way as to afford support for a few iron spoons, a small comb, and sundry other articles grouped with the like good taste; but I must return to my fair hostesses. They seemed to be on the point of concluding their morning duties. The hearth was newly swept, a tin reflector was before the fire, apparently full of bread, or something equally important. The young lady was placing some cups and plates in a pyramidal pile on the cupboard shelf, when the mother, after taking my bonnet with grave courtesy, said something, of which I could only distinguish the words “slick up.” She soon after disappeared behind one of the white screens I have mentioned, and in an incredibly short time emerged in a different dress. Then taking down the comb I have hinted at, as exalted to a juxtaposition with the spoons, she seated herself opposite to me, unbound her very abundant brown tresses, and proceeded to comb them with great deliberateness; occasionally speering a question at me, or bidding Miss Irene (pronounced Irenee) “mind the bread.” When she had finished, Miss Irene took the comb and went through the same exercise, and both scattered the loose hairs on the floor with a coolness that made me shudder when I thought of my dinner, which had become, by means of the morning's ramble, a subject of peculiar interest. A little iron “wash-dish,” such as I had seen in the morning, was now produced; the young lady vanished—reappeared in a scarlet circassian dress, and more combs in her hair than would dress a belle for the court of St. James; and forthwith both mother and daughter proceeded to set the table for dinner.
The hot bread was cut into huge slices, several bowls of milk were disposed about the board, a pint bowl of yellow pickles, another of apple sauce, and a third containing mashed potatoes took their appropriate stations, and a dish of cold fried pork was brought out from some recess, heated and re-dished, when Miss Irene proceeded to blow the horn.
The sound seemed almost as magical in its effects as the whistle of Roderick Dhu ; for, solitary as the whole neighbourhood had appeared to me in the morning, not many moments elapsed before in came men and boys enough to fill the table completely. I had made sundry resolutions not to touch a mouthful ; but I confess I felt somewhat mortified when I found there was no opportunity to refuse.
After the “wash dish’ had been used in turn, and various handkerchiefs had performed, not for that occasion only, the part of towels, the lords of creation seated themselves at the table, and fairly demolished in grave silence every eatable thing on it. Then, as each one finished, he arose and walked off, till no one remained of all this goodly company but the red-faced heavy-eyed master of the house. This personage used his privilege by asking me five hundred questions, as to my birth, parentage, and education; my opinion of Michigan, my husband's plans and prospects, business and resources; and then said, “he guessed he must be off.”
Meanwhile his lady and daughter had been clearing the table, and were now preparing to wash the dishes in an iron pot of very equivocal-looking soapsuds, which stood in a corner of the chimney place, rinsing each piece in a pan of clean water, and then setting it to “dreen” on a chair. I watched the process with no increasing admiration of Michigan economics—thought wofully of dinner, and found that Mrs. Danforth's breakfast table, which had appeared in the morning frugal and homely enough, was filling my mind's eye as the very acme of comfort. Every thing is relative. But now, prospects began to brighten; the tea-kettle was put on ; the table was laid again with the tea equipage and a goodly pile of still warm bread, redolent of milk yeast—the unfailing bowls of apple-sauce and pickles, a plate of small cakes, and a saucer of something green cut up in vinegar. I found we had only been waiting for a more lady-like meal, and having learned wisdom by former disappointment, I looked forward with no small satisfaction to something like refreshment. The tea was made and the first cup poured, when in came my husband and Mr. Mazard. What was my dismay when I heard that I must mount and away on the instant ' The buggy at the door—the sun setting, and the log causeway and the black slough yet to be encountered. I could not obtain a moment's respite, and I will not pretend to describe my vexation, when I saw on looking back our projector already seated at my predestined cup of tea, and busily engaged with my slice of bread and butter I walked over the logs in no very pleasant mood and
when we reached the slough it looked blacker than ever,
“The grass beneath them dimly green”—
could scarcely pass quite unfelt by one whose delight is in their beauty: but, alas! who can be sentimental and hungry! I alighted with gloomy forebodings. The house was dark—could it be that the family had already stowed themselves away in their crowded nests? The fire was buried in ashes, the tea-kettle was cold—I sat down in the corner and cried. * * * * * I was awakened from a sort of doleful trance by the voice of our cheery hostess. “Why, do tell if you’ve had no supper Well, I want to know ! I went off to meetin’ over to Joe Bun. ner's and never left nothing ready.” But in a space of time which did not seem long even to me, my cup of tea was on the table, and the plate of snow-white rolls had no reason to complain of our neglect or indifference.