« 前へ次へ »
by dwelling on the subject. The results of all this were most unpleasant to us. Mr. Clavers found him. self involved to a large amount; and his only remedy seemed to prosecute Mr. Mazard. A consultation with his lawyer, however, convinced him, that even by this most disagreeable mode, redress was out of the question, since he had through inadvertence rendered him. self liable for whatever that gentleman chose to buy or engage in his name. All that could be done, was to get out of the affair with as little loss as possible, and to take warning against land sharks in future.
An immediate journey to Detroit became necessary, and I was once more left alone, and in no overflowing spirits. I sat,
“Revolving in my altered soul
when a tall damsel, of perhaps twenty-eight or thirty came in to make a visit. She was tastefully attired in a blue gingham dress, with broad cuffs of black morocco, and a black cambric apron edged with orange worsted lace. Her oily black locks were cut quite short round the ears, and confined close to her head by a black ribbon, from one side of which depended, almost in her eye, two very long tassels of black silk, intended to do duty as curls. Prunelle slippers with high heels, and a cotton handkerchief tied under the chin, finished the costume, which I have been thus particular in describing, because I have observed so many that were nearly similar. The lady greeted me in the usual style, with a fami. liar nod, and seated herself at once in a chair near the door. “Well, how do like Michigan ” This question received the most polite answer which my conscience afforded ; and I asked the lady in my turn, if she was one of my neighbours ? “Why, massy, yes!” she replied; “do n’t you know me? I tho’t every body know’d me. Why, I’m the school ma'am, Simeon Jenkins' sister, Cleory Jemkins.” Thus introduced, I put all my civility in requisition to entertain my guest, but she seemed quite independent, finding amusement for herself, and asking questions on every possible theme. “You’re doing your own work now, a n’t ye s” This might not be denied ; and I asked if she did not know of a girl whom I might be likely to get. “Well, I don't know; I'm looking for a place where I can board and do chores myself. I have a good deal of time before school, and after I get back; and I did n’t know but I might suit ye for a while.” I was pondering on this proffer, when the sallow damsel arose from her seat, took a short pipe from her bosom, (not “Pan's reedy pipe,” reader) filled it with tobacco, which she carried in her “work-pocket,” and reseating herself, began to smoke with the greatest gusto, turning ever and anon to spit at the hearth. Incredible again alas, would it were not true ! I have since known a girl of seventeen, who was attending a neighbour's sick infant, smoke the live-long day, and take snuff besides; and I can vouch for it, that a large proportion of the married women in the interior of Michigan use tobacco in some form, usually that of the odious pipe. I took the earliest decent opportunity to decline the offered help, telling the school-ma’am plainly, than an inmate who smoked would make the house uncomfortable to me. “Why, law " said she, laughing; “that's nothing but pride now : folks is often too proud to take comfort. For my part, I could n't do without my pipe to please nobody.” Mr. Simeon Jenkins, the brother of this independent young lady now made his appearance on some trifling errand; and his sister repeated to him what I had said. Mr. Jenkins took his inch of cigar from his mouth, and asked if I really disliked tobacco-smoke, seeming to think it scarcely possible. “Do n’t your old man smoke 7" said he. “No, indeed,” said I, with more than my usual energy; “I should hope he never would.” “Well,” said neighbour Jenkins, “I tell you what, I’m boss at home ; and if my old woman was to stick up that fashion, I'd keep the house so blue she could n’t see to snuff the candle.” His sister laughed long and loud at this sally, which was uttered rather angrily, and with an air of most manful bravery ; and, Mr. Jenkins, picking up his end of cigar from the floor, walked off with an air evidently intended to be as expressive as the celebrated and oft-quoted nod of Lord Burleigh in the Critic. Miss Jenkins was still arguing on the subject of her pipe, when a gentleman approached, whose dress and manner told me that he did not belong to our neighbourhood. He was a red-faced, jolly-looking person, evidently “well to do in the world,” and sufficiently consequential for any meridian. He seated himself quite unceremoniously; for who feels ceremony in a log-house? said he understood Mr. Clavers was absent—then hesitated ; and, as Miss Jenkins afterwards observed, “hummed and hawed,” and seemed as if he would fain say something, but scarce knew how. At length Miss Cleora took the hint—a most neces. sary point of delicacy, where there is no withdrawing room. She gave her parting nod, and disappeared ; and the old gentleman proceeded. He had come to Montacute with the view of settling his son, “a wild chap,” he said, a lawyer by profession, and not very fond of work of any sort; but as he himself had a good deal of land in the vicinity, he thought his son might find employment in attending to it, adding such professional business as might ocCUlr. “But what I wished particularly to say, my dear madam,” said he, “regards rather my son's wife than himself. She is a charming girl, and accustomed to much indulgence; and I have felt afraid that a removal to a place so new as this might be too trying to her. I knew you must be well able to judge of the difficulties to be encountered here, and took the liberty of calling on that account.” I was so much pleased with the idea of having a neighbour, whose habits might in some respects accord with my own, that I fear I was scarcely impartial in the view which I gave Mr. Rivers, of the possibilities of Montacute. At least, I communicated only such as rises before my own mind, while watching perhaps a glorious sunset reflected in the glassy pond; my hyacinths in all their glory; the evening breeze beginning to sigh in the tree-tops; the children just coming in after a fine frolic with D'Orsay on the grass; and Papa and Prince returning up the lane. At such times, I always conclude, that Montacute is, after all, a dear little world; and I am probably quite as near the truth, as when,
“on some cold rainy day,
when Arthur comes in with a pound of mud on each foot, D'Orsay at his heels, bringing in as much more; little Bell crying to go out to play; Charlie prodigiously fretful with his prospective tooth; and some gaunt marauder from “up north,” or “out west,” sits talking on “bis'ness,” and covering my andirons with tobacco juice; I determine sagely, that a life in the woods is worse than no life at all. One view is, I insist, as good as the other; but I told Mr. Rivers he must make due allowance for my desire to have his fair daughter. in-law for a neighbour, with which he departed; and I felt that my gloom had essentially lightened in consequence of his visit.