A livin' light shinin' in his sad eyes, and he couldn't git anybody else to see it.
The constant washin' of new seas on new shores, and he couldn't git anybody to hear 'em.
A constant glow, prophetic and ardent, longin' to carry the religion of Christ into a new land that he knew wuz a-waitin' him, but everybody else deaf and dumb to his heart-sick longin's.
Oh, I thought to myself as I stood there, if that poor creeter could only had a few of the gorgeous banners that wuz waved out to the air, enough to clothe an army; if he could have only had enough of 'em to made him a hull shirt; if he could have had enough of the banquets spread to his memory, enough to feed all the armies of the earth; if he could have a slice of bread and a good cup of tea out of 'em, how glad I would be, and how glad he would have been!
But it wuzn't to be, it wuzn't to be.
Hungry and in rags, almost naked, foot-sore, heart-sore, he arrived at the convent gate, to ask food and shelter for himself and child.
It wuz here that he found an asylum for a few years, carryin' on his plans, makin' out new arguments, stronger, mebby, than he had argued with for seven stiddy years, and I should a thought them old arguments must have been wore out.
It wuz in one of the rooms of the convent that he met the Monks in debate, and also argued back and forth with Garcia Fernandez and Alonzo Penzen, gettin' the better of Alonzo every time, but makin' it up to him afterwards by lettin' him command one of the vessels of his fleet. It wuz from here the superior of the convent, won over by Columbuses eloquence, went for audience with the Queen, and from it Columbus wuz summoned to appear at court.
In this very convent he made his preparations for his voyage, and on the mornin' he sailed from Palos he worshipped God in this little chapel. What visions riz up before his eyes as he knelt on the brick floor of that little chapel, jest ready to leave the certainty and sail out into the oncertainty, leavin' the oncertainty and goin' out into the certainty!
A curious prayer that must have been, and a riz up one.
In that prayer, in the confidence and aspiration of that one man, lay the hull new world. The hope, the freedom, the liberty, the enlightenment of a globe, jest riz up on the breath of that one prayer.
A momentious prayer as wuz ever riz up on earth.
But the stun walls didn't give no heed to it, and I dare say that Alonzo and the rest wuz sick a-waitin' for him, and wanted to cut it short.
Yes, Columbus must have had emotions in this convent as hefty and as soarin' as they make, and truly they must have been immense to gone ahead of mine, as I stood there and thought on him, what he had done and what he had suffered.
Why, I had more'n a hundred and twenty-five or thirty a minute right along, and I don't know but more.
When I see them relics of that noble creeter, paper that he had had his own hand on, that his own eyes had looked at, his own brain had dictated, every one of 'em full of the ardentcy and earnestness of his religion—why, they increased the number and frequency of my emotions to a almost alarmin' extent.
Here are twenty-nine manuscripts all in his own hand.
They are truly worth more than their weight in gold—they are worth their weight in diamonds.
Amongst the most priceless manuscripts and documents is the original of the contract made with the Soverigns of Spain before his first voyage, under which Columbus made his first voyage to America.
The most remarkable contract that wuz ever drawn, in which the Soverigns of Spain guaranteed to Columbus and his heirs forever one eighth of all that might be produced of any character whatever in any land he might discover, and appinted him and his descendants perpetual rulers over such lands, with the title of Viceroy.
I looked at the contract, and then thought of how Columbus died in poverty and disgrace, and now, four hundred years after his death, the world a-spendin' twenty million to honor his memory.
A sense of the folly and the strangeness of all things come over me like a flood, and I bent my head in shame to think I belonged to a race of bein's so ongrateful, and so lyin', and everything else.
I thought of that humble grave where a broken heart hid itself four hundred years ago, and then I looked out towards that matchless White City of gorgeous palaces riz up to his honor four hundred years too late; and a sense of the futility of all things, the pity of it, the vanity of all things here below, swept over me, and instinctively I lay holt of my pardner's arm, and thought for a minute I must leave the buildin'; but I thought better on't, and he thought I laid holt of his arm as a mark of affection. And I didn't ondeceive him in it.
Then there is Columbuses commission as Admiral of the Ocean Seas.
His correspondence with Ferdinand and Isabella before and after his discovery, and a host of other invaluable papers loaned by the Spanish Goverment and the living descendants of Columbus in Spain. And there is pieces of the house his father-in-law built for him—a cane made from one of the jistes, and the shutters of one of the windows. Columbuses own hand may have opened them shutters! O my heart! think on't.
And then there wuz the original copy of the first books relatin' to America, over one hundred of 'em, obtained from the Vatican at Rome, and museums, and libraries, in London, and Paris, and Madrid, and Washington, D.C. They are writ by Lords, and Cardinals, and Bishops, way back as fur as fourteen hundred and ninety-three.
Then there wuz quaint maps and charts of the newly discovered country, lookin' some as our first maps would of Mars, if the United States had made up its mind to annex that planet, and Uncle Sam had jest begun to lay it out into countries.
Then there are the portraits of Columbus. Good creeter! it seemed a pity to see so many of 'em—his enemies might keep right on abusin' him, and say that he wuz double-faced, or sixty or eighty faced, when I know, and they all ort to know, that he wuz straightforward and stiddy as the sun. Poor creeter! it wuz too bad that there should be so many of 'em.
Then there are models and photographs of statutes and monuments of him, and the very stun and clay that them tall monuments is made of, mebby they are the very stuns that hurt his bare feet, and the clay the very same his tears had fell on, as he'd throw himself down heart-weary on his lonesome pilgrimages. I dare presoom to say that he would lay his head down under some wayside tree and cry—I hain't a doubt on't.
When I thought it over, how much had been said about Columbus even durin' the last year in Jonesville and Chicago, to say nothin' about the rest of the world, it wuz a treat indeed to see the first printed allusion that wuz ever made to Columbus, about three months after Columbus arrived in Portugal, March fifteenth, fourteen hundred and ninety-three. It was writ by Mr. Carvugal, Spanish Cardinal.
In it Mr. Carvugal says—
"And Christ placed under their rule (Ferdinand and Isabella) the Fortunate Islands."
I sez to Josiah, "I guess if Mr. Carvugal was sot down here to-day, and see what he would see here, he would be apt to think indeed they wuz Fortunate Islands."
But as I said that I heard a voice a-sayin'—
"Who is Mr. Carvugal, Samantha?"
I recognized the voice, and I sez, "Why, Irena Flanders, is it you? I have been to see you; I hearn you wuz sick."
"Yes," sez she, "I wuz beat out, and I thought I couldn't stand it; but I feel better to-day, so we have been to the Forestry Buildin', and thought we would come in here."
But I see that she didn't feel as I did about the immortal relics, but she kinder pretended to, as folks will; and Elam and Josiah went to talkin' about hayin', and wondered how the crops wuz a-gittin' along in Jonesville. But I kep on a-lookin' round and listenin' to Irena's remarks about her symptoms with one half of my mind, or about half, and examinin' the relics with the other half.
There wuz a little Latin book with queer wood-cuts, "Concernin' Islands lately discovered," published in Switzerland in 1494; under the title it begun—"Christopher Colum—"
It made me mad to hear that good, noble creeter's name cut off and demeaned, and I told Irena so.
And she sez, "That's what little Benjy calls our old white duck; his name is Columbus, but he calls it Colum."
She is a great duck-raiser; but I didn't thank her for alludin' to barn-yard fowls in such a time as this.
Wall, there wuz the first life of Columbus ever writ, by his son Farnendo.
And a book relatin' to the namin' of America. I thought it would been a good plan if there had been a few more about that, and had named it Columbia—jest what it ort to be, and not let another man take the honor that should have been Christopher's.
But I meditated on what a queer place this old world wuz, and how nateral for one man to toil and work, and another step in and take the pay for it; so it didn't surprise me a mite, but it madded me some.
Then there wuz the histories of the different cities where he wuz born, and the different places where his bones repose.
Poor creeter! they fit then because they didn't want his bones, and they starved him so that he wuzn't much besides bones, and they didn't want his bones anyway, and they put chains onto them poor old bones, and led 'em off to prison.
And now hull cities and countries would hold it their chief honor to lie about it, and claim the credit of givin' 'em burial. O dear suz! O dear me!
Wall, there wuz one of the anchors, and the canvas used by Columbus on board his flag-ship.
The very canvas that the wind swelled out and wafted the great Discoverer. O my heart, think on't!
And then there wuz the ruins of the little town of Isabella, the first established in the new world, brung lately from San Domingo by a man-of-war.
And then there wuz the first church bell that ever rung in America, presented to the town of Isabella by King Ferdinand.
Oh, if I could have swung out with that old bell, and my senses could have took in the sights and seens the sound had echoed over! What a sight—what a sight it would have been!
Ringin' out barbarism and ringin' in the newer religion; ringin' out, as time went on, old simple ways, and idees—mebby bringin' in barbarous ways; swingin' back and forth, to and fro; ringin' in now, I hope and pray, the era of love and justice, goodwill to man and woman.
Wall, I wuz almost lost in my thoughts in hangin' over that old bell. It had took me back into the dim old green forest isles and onbroken wilderness, when I heard a bystander a-sayin' to another one—"There is Columbuses relations; there is the Duke of Veragua."
And on lookin' up, I indeed see Columbuses own relation on his own side, with his wife and daughter.
The relation on Columbuses side wuz a middlin' good-lookin' and a good-natered lookin' man, no taller than Josiah, with blue eyes, gray hair, and short whiskers.
His wife wuz a good-lookin', plump woman, some younger apparently than he wuz, and the daughter wuz pretty and fresh-lookin' as a pink rose.
I liked their looks first rate.
And jest the minute my eyes fell on 'em, so quick my intellect moves, I knew what was incumbent on me to do.
It wuz my place, it would be expected of me—I must welcome them to America; I must, in the name of my own dignity, and the power of the Nation, gin 'em the freedom of Jonesville. I must not slight them for their own sakes, and their noble ancestors.
One human weakness might be discovered in me by a clost observer in that rapt hour: I didn't really know how to address the wife of the Duke.
And I whispered to Irena Flanders, and, sez I, "If a man is a duke, what would his wife be called?" Sez I, "She'd feel hurt if I slighted her."
And sez she, "If one is a duke, the other would naterally be called a drake."
I knew better than that—she hain't any too smart by nater, and her mind runs to fowls, what there is of it.
But my Josiah heard the inquiry, and sez he—
"I should call her a duck;" and he continued, with his eyes riveted on the beautiful face of the Duke's daughter—
"That pretty girl is a duck, and no mistake."
But I sez, "Hush; that would be too familiar and also too rural."
I hain't ashamed of the country—no, indeed, I am proud on't; still I knew that it wuz, specially in June, noted for its tender greenness.
And sez I, "I'll trust to the hour to inspire me; I'll sail out as his great ancestor did, and trust to Providence to help me out."
So I advanced onto 'em, and I thought, as I went, if you call a man by the hull of his name he hadn't ort to complain; so I sez with a deep curchey—I knew a plain curchey wouldn't do justice to the occasion.
So I gracefully took hold of my alpaca skirt with both hands and held it out slightly, and curchied from ten to fourteen inches, I should judge.
I wanted it deep enough to show the profound esteem and honor in which I held him, and not deep enough so's to give him the false idee that I wuz a professional dancer, or opera singer, or anything of that sort.
I judged that my curchey wuz jest about right.
Imegatly after my curchey I sez, "Don Christobel Colon De Toledo De La Cerda Y Gante," and then I paused for breath, while the world waited—
"I welcome you to this country—I salute you in the name of Jonesville and America."
And then agin I made that noble, beautiful curchey.
He bowed so low that if a basin of water had been sot on his back it would have run down over his head.
Sez I, "The man in whose veins flows a drop of the precious blood of the Hero who discovered us is near and dear to the heart of the new world."
Sez I, "I feel that we can't do too much to honor you, and I hereby offer you the freedom of Jonesville."
And sez I, "I would have brung it in a paper collar box if I'd thought on't, but I hope you will overlook the omission, and take it verbal."
Agin he bowed that dretful perlite, courteous bow, and agin I put in that noble curchey.
It wuz a hour long to be remembered by any one who wuz fortunate enough to witness it; and sez he—
"I am sensible of the distinguished honor you do me, Madam; accept my profound thanks."
I then turned to his wife, and sez I, "Miss Christobel Colon Toledo Ohio—"
I got kinder mixed up here by my emotions, and the efforts my curcheys had cost me; I hadn't ort to mentioned the word Ohio.
But I waded out agin—"De La Cerda Y Gante—
"As a pardner of Columbus, and also as a female woman, I bid you also welcome to America in the name of woman, and I tender to you also the freedom of Jonesville, and Loontown, and Zoar.
"And you," sez I, "Honorable Maria Del Pillow Colon Y Aguilera—
"You sweet little creeter you, I'd love to have you come and stay with me a week right along, you pretty thing." Sez I, "How proud your Grandpa would be of you if he wuz here!"
My feelin's had carried me away, and I felt that I had lost the formal, polite tone of etiquette that I had intended to carry on through the interview.
But she wuz so awful pretty, I couldn't help it; but I felt that it wuz best to terminate it, so I bowed low, a-holdin' out my alpaca skirt kinder noble in one hand and my green veil in the other, some like a banner, and backed off.
They too bowed deep, and sorter backed off too. Oh, what a hour for America!
Josiah put out his arm anxiously, for I wuz indeed a-movin' backwards into a glass case of relics, and the great seen terminated.
Miss Flanders and Elam had gone—they shrunk from publicity. I guess they wuz afraid it wuz too great a job, the ceremony attendin' our givin' these noble foreigners the freedom of our native town.
But they no need to. A willin' mind makes a light job.
It had been gin to 'em, and gin well, too.
Wall, Josiah and I didn't stay very much longer. I'd have been glad to seen the Princess sent out from Spain to our doin's, and I know she will feel it, not seein' of me.
She wuzn't there, but I thought of her as I wended my way out, as I looked over the grandeur of the seen that her female ancestor had rendered possible.
Thinkses I, she must have different feelin's from what her folks did in fourteen hundred.
Then how loath they wuz to even listen to Columbuses pathetic appeals and prayers! But they did at last touch the heart of a woman. That woman believed him, while the rest of Spain sneered at him. Had she lived, Columbus wouldn't have been sent to prison in chains. No, indeed! But she passed away, and Spain misused him. But now they send their royalties to meet with all the kings and queens of the earth to bow down to his memory.
As we wended out, the caravels lay there in the calm water—the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Nina, all becalmed in front of the convent.
No more rough seas in front of 'em; they furl their sails in the sunlight of success.
All is glory, all is rejoicing, all is praise.
Four hundred years after the brave soul that planned and accomplished it all died heart-broken and in chains, despised and rejected by men, persecuted by his enemies, betrayed by his friends.
True, brave heart, I wonder if the God he trusted in, and tried to honor, lets him come back on some fair mornin' or cloudless moonlight evenin', and look down and see what the nations are sayin' and doin' for him in eighteen hundred and ninety-three!
I don't know, nor Josiah don't.
But as I stood a-thinkin' of this, the sun come out from under a cloud and lit up the caravels with its golden light, and lay on the water like a long, shinin' path leadin' into glory.
And a light breeze stirred the white sails of the Santa Maria, some as though it wuz a-goin' to set sail agin.
And the shadders almost seemed alive that lay on the narrer deck.
After we left La Rabida, Josiah wanted to go and see the exhibit called Man and his Works.
Sez he, "I'll show you now, Samantha, what our works are. I'll show you the most beautiful and august exposition on the grounds."
Sez he, "You boasted high about wimmen's doin's, and they wuz fair," sez he, "what I call fair to middlin'. But in this you'll see grandeur and True Greatness."
Josiah didn't know a thing about the show, only what he gathered from its name; and feelin' as he did about himself and his sect, he naterally expected wonders.
So, leanin' on the arm of Justice, I accompanied him into the buildin', which wuzn't fur from La Rabida.
But almost the first room we went into, Josiah almost swooned at the sight, and I clung to his arm instinctively. There we wuz amongst more than three thousand skeletons and skulls.
Why, the goose pimples that rose on me didn't subside till most night.
And in the very next room wuz a collection of mummies, the humbliest ones that I ever sot my eyes on in my hull life—two or three hundred on 'em, from Peru, Utah, New Mexico, Egypt, British Columbia, etc., etc.
When Josiah's eyes fell onto 'em, my poor pardner sez, "Samantha, less be a-goin'."
Sez I, "Are you satisfied, Josiah Allen, with the Works of Man?"
And he advised me strong—"Not to make a luny and a idiot of myself."
And sez he, "Dum it all, why do they call it the works of man? There is as many wimmen amongst them dum skeletons as men, I'll bet a cent."
Wall, we went into another room and found a very interestin' exhibit—the measurements of heads: long-headed folks and short-headed ones; and measurements of children's heads who wuz educated, and the heads of savage children, showin' the influence that moral trainin' has on the brains of boys and girls.
Wall, it would take weeks to examine all we see there—the remains of the Aborigines, the Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians. We could see by them relics how they lived—their religions, their domestic life, their arts, and their industries.
And then we see photographs by the hullsale of mounds and ruins from all over the world.
Why, we see so many pictures of ruins, that Josiah said that "he felt almost ruined."
And I sez, "That must come from the inside, Josiah. It hadn't ort to make you feel so."
And then we see all sorts of things to illustrate the games that these old ruined folks used to play, and their religions they believed in—idols, and clay altars, and things; and once, when I wuz a-tryin' to look calm at the very meanest-lookin' idol that I ever laid eyes on,
Sez Josiah, "The folks that would try to worship such a lookin' thing as that ort to be ruined."
And I whispered back, "If the secret things that folks worship to-day could be materialized, they would look enough sight worse than this." Sez I, "How would the mammon of Greed look carved in stun, or the beast of Intemperance?"
"Oh!" sez he, "bring in your dum temperance talk everywhere, will you? I should think we wuz in a bad enough place here to let your ears rest, anyway."
"Wall," sez I, "then don't run down folks that couldn't answer back for ten thousand years."
But truly we wuz in a bad place, if humbliness is bad, for them idols did beat all, and then there wuz a almost endless display of amulets, charms, totems, and other things that they used to carry on their religious meetin's with, or what they called religion.
And then we see some strange clay altars containin' cremated human bein's.
Here Josiah hunched me agin—
"You feel dretful cut up if you hear any one speak aginst these old creeters, but what do you think of that?" sez he, a-pintin' to the burnt bodies. Sez he, "Most likely them bodies wuz victims that wuz killed on their dum altars—dum 'em!"
"Yes," sez I, "but we of the nineteenth century slay two hundred thousand victims every year on the altar of Mammon, and Intemperance."
"Keep it up, will you—keep a preachin'!" sez he, and his tone wuz bitter and voyalent in the extreme.
And here he turned his back on me and went to examine some of the various games of all countries, such as cards, dice, dominoes, checkers, etc., etc.
Which shows that in that savage age, as well as in our too civilized one, amusements wuz a part of their daily life.
Wall, it wuz all dretful interestin' to me, though Skairfulness wuz present with us, and goose pimples wuz abroad.
And out-doors the exhibit wuz jest as fascinatin'.
Along the shores of the pond are grouped tribes of Indians from North America. They live in their primitive huts and tents, and there we see their rude boats and canoes. New York contributes a council house and a bark lodge once used by the once powerful Iroquois confederation.
And, poor things! where be they now? Passed away. Their canoes have gone down the stream of Time, and gone down the Falls out of sight.
But to resoom.
Wall, seein' they wuz right there, we went to see the ruins of Yucatan—they wuz only a few steps away.
Now, I never had paid any attention to Yucatan. I had always seen it on the map of Mexico, a little strip of land a-runnin' out into the water, and washed by the waves on both sides. But, good land! I would have paid more attention to it if I had known that down deep under its forests, where they had lain for more than a thousand years, wuz the ruins of a vast city, with its castles and monuments wrought in marble, and fashioned with highest beauty and art.
Whose hands had wrought them marble columns, and carved facades?
The silence of a thousand years lays between my question and its true answer.
I can't tell who they wuz, where they come from, or where they went to.
But the pieces of soulless stun remain for us to marvel over, when the livin' hands that wrought these have vanished forever.
But mebby some magnetizm still hangs about them hoary old walls that has the power to draw their founders from their new home, wherever it is now.
Mebby them old Yucatanners come down in a shadder sloop and lay off over aginst them ruins, and enjoy themselves first-rate.
Here too is the city of the Cliff Dwellers—the most wonderful city I ever see or ever expect to see. There towers up a mountain made to look exactly like Battle Mountain, where these ruins are found—the homes and abidin' place of a race so much older than the Mexican and Peru old ones that they seem like folks of last week—almost like babies.
The hull of these buildin's which is called Cliff Palace is over two hundred feet long, and the rooms look pretty much all alike. They wuz round rooms mostly, with a hole in the floor for a fireplace, and stun seats a-runnin' clear round the room, and I'd a gin a dollar bill if I could a seen a-settin' in them seats the ones that used to set there—if I could seen 'em sot down there in Jackson Park, and its marvels, and I could have hearn 'em tell what Old World wonders they had seen, and what they had felt and suffered—the beliefs of that old time; the laws that governed 'em, or that didn't govern 'em; their friends and their enemies; the strange animals that lurked round 'em; the wonderful flowers and vegetation—in short, if I could a sot down and neighbored with 'em, I would a gin, I believe my soul, as much as a dollar and thirty-five cents.
The rooms are about six feet high, and they wuz like me in one thing—they didn't care so much for ornament as they did for solid foundation. The only ornament I see in any of the rooms wuz some kinder wavin' streaks of red paint. But, oh! how solid the housen wuz, how firm the underpinnin'.
There wuz some stun towers and some winders, and oh! how I do wish I could seen what them Old Cliffers looked out on when they rested their arms on the stun winder sills and looked down on the deep valley below.
Children a-lookin' out for pleasure mebby; older ones a-lookin' for Happiness and Ambition like as not, the aged ones a-leanin' their tired arms on the hard stun, while the settin' sun lit up their white locks, and a-lookin' for rest.
The cliffs are a good many colors, and each a good-lookin' one.
One thing struck me in all the housen, and made me think that though the Cliff Dwellers wuz older than Abraham or Moses, yet if I could see some of them female Cliffers I could neighbor with 'em like sisters.
They did love closets so well, and that made 'em so congenial to me. I never had half closets enough, and I don't believe any woman did if she would tell the truth.
There wuz sights of closets all closed up with good slab doors, some like grave-stuns.
I shouldn't have liked that so well, to had to heave down that heavy slab every time that I wanted a teacup, but mebby they didn't drink tea.
I spoze they kep their strange-lookin' pottery there, and I presoom the wimmen prided themselves on havin' more of them jars than a neighbor female Cliffer did. Then there are farmin' implements, and sandals, and leggins, and weapons, and baby boards—and didn't I wish that I could ketch sight of one of them babies!
The bodies of the dead wuz wrapped in four different winders—first in fine cloth, then a robe of turkey feathers wove with Yucca fibre, then a mattin', and then a wrap made of reeds.
The mummies found wrapped in these grave-clothes are more perfect than any found in Egypt, the hot, dry air of Colorado a-doin' its best to keep folks alive, and then after they are dead, a-keepin' 'em so as long as it can. There wuz one, a woman with pretty figure, and small hands and feet, and soft, light-colored hair. What wuz she a-thinkin' on as she done up that fore-top or braided that back hair?
Did any hand ever lay on that soft, shinin' hair in caresses? I presoom more than like as not there had. Her mother's, anyway, and mebby a lover's, sence the fashion of love is older than the pyramids enough sight—old as Adam, and before that Love wuz. For Love thought out the World.
By her side wuz a jar with some seeds in it—probable the hand of Love put it there to sustain her on her long journey.
Wall, the centuries have gone by sence she sot out for the Land of Sperits, but the seeds are there yet. She didn't need 'em.
These seeds are in good shape, but they won't sprout. That shows plain how much older these mummies are than the Egyptian ones, for the seeds found by them will sprout and grow, but these are too old—the life in the seeds is gone, as well as the life in the dead forms by 'em, centuries ago, mebby.
Wall, it wuz a sight—a sight to see that city, and then to see a-windin' up the face of the cliff the windin' trail, and the little burros a-climbin' up slowly from the valley, and the strange four-horned sheep of the Navago herds a-grazin' amongst the high rocks.
It wuz one of the most impressive sights of all the wonderful sights of the Columbus Fair, and so I told Josiah.
Wall, seein' we wuz right there, we thought we would pay attention to the Forestry Buildin'.
And if I ever felt ashamed of myself, and mortified, I did there; of which more anon.
It wuz quite a big buildin', kinder long and low—about two and a half acres big, I should judge.
Every house has its peculiarities, the same as folks do, and the peculiar kink in this house wuz it hadn't a nail or a bit of iron in it anywhere from top to bottom—bolts and pegs made of wood a-holdin' it together.
Wall, I hadn't no idee that there wuz so many kinds of wood in the hull world, from Asia and Greenland to Jonesville, as I see there in five minutes.
Of course I had been round enough in our woods and the swamp to know that there wuz several different kinds of wood—ellum and butnut, cedar and dog-wood, and so forth.
But good land! to see the hundreds and thousands of kinds that I see here made anybody feel curious, curious as a dog, and made 'em feel, too, how enormous big the world is—and how little he or she is, as the case may be.
The sides of the buildin' are made of slabs, with the bark took off, and the roof is thatched with tan-bark and other barks.
The winder-frames are made in the same rustic, wooden way.
The main entrances are made of different kinds of wood, cut and carved first-rate.
All around this buildin' is a veranda, and supportin' its roof is a long row of columns, each composed of three tree trunks twenty-five feet in length—one big one and the other two smaller.
These wuz contributed by the different States and Territories and by foreign countries, each sendin' specimens of its most noted trees.
And right here wuz when I felt mad at myself, mad as a settin' hen, to think how forgetful I had been, and how lackin' in what belongs to good manners and politeness.
Why hadn't I brung some of our native Jonesville trees, hallowed by the presence of Josiah Allen's wife?
Why hadn't I brung some of the maples from our dooryard, that shakes out its green and crimson banners over our heads every spring and fall?
Or why hadn't I brung one of the low-spreadin' apple-trees out of Mother Smith's orchard, where I used to climb in search of robins' nests in June mornin's?
Or one of the pale green willers that bent over my head as I sot on the low plank foot-bridge, with my bare feet a-swingin' off into the water as I fished for minnies with a pin-hook—
The summer sky overhead, and summer in my heart.
Oh, happy summer days gone by—gone by, fur back you lay in the past, and the June skies now have lost that old light and freshness.
But poor children that we are, we still keep on a-fishin' with our bent pin-hooks; we still drop our weak lines down into the depths, a-fishin' for happiness, for rest, for ambition, for Heaven knows what all—and now, as in the past, our hooks break or our lines float away on the eddies, and we don't catch what we are after.
Poor children! poor creeters!
But I am eppisodin', and to resoom.
As I said to Josiah, what a oversight that wuz my not thinkin' of it!
Sez I, "How the nations would have prized them trees!" And sez I,
"What would Christopher Columbus say if he knew on't?"
And Josiah sez, "He guessed he would have got along without 'em."
"Wall," sez I, "what will America and the World's Fair think on't, my makin' such a oversight?"
And he sez, "He guessed they would worry along somehow without 'em."
"Wall," sez I, "I am mortified—as mortified as a dog."
And I wuz.
There wuzn't any need of makin' any mistake about the trees, for there wuz a little metal plate fastened to each tree, with the name marked on it—the common name and the high-learnt botanical name.
But Josiah, who always has a hankerin' after fashion and show, he talked a sight to me about the "Abusex-celsa," and the "Genus-salix," and the "Fycus-sycamorus," and the "Atractylus-gummifera."
He boasted in particular about the rarity of them trees. He said they grew in Hindoostan and on the highest peaks of the Uriah Mountains; and he sez, "How strange that he should ever live to see 'em."
He talked proud and high-learnt about 'em, till I got tired out, and pinted him to the other names of 'em.
Then his feathers drooped, and sez he, "A Norway spruce, a willer, a sycamore, and a pine. Dum it all, what do they want to put on such names as them onto trees that grow right in our dooryard?"
"To show off," sez I, coldly, "and to make other folks show off who have a hankerin' after fashion and display."
He did not frame a reply to me—he had no frame.
I told Josiah this mornin' I wanted to go to the place where they had flowers, and plants, and roses, and things—I felt that duty wuz a-drawin' me.
For, as I told him, old Miss Mahew wanted me to get her a slip of monthly rose if they had 'em to spare—she said, "If they seemed to have quite a few, I might tackle 'em about it, and if they seemed to be kinder scrimped for varieties, she stood willin' to swap one of her best kinds for one of theirn—she said she spozed they would have as many as ten or a dozen plants of each kind."
And I thought mebby I could get a tulip bulb—I had had such poor luck with mine the year before.
But sez I, "Mebby they won't have none to spare—I d'no how well they be off for 'em," but I spozed mebby I would see as many as a dozen or fifteen tulips, and as many roses.
He kinder wanted to go and see the plows and horse-rakes that mornin', but I capitulated with him by sayin' if he would go there first with me, anon we would go together to the horse-rake house.
So we sot out the first thing for the Horticultural Buildin', and good land! good land! when we got to it I wuz jest browbeat and frustrated with the size on't—it is the biggest buildin' that wuz ever built in the world for plants and flowers.
And when you jest think how big the world is, and how long it has stood, and how many houses has been built for posies from Persia and Ingy, down to Chicago and Jonesville, then you will mebby get it into your head the immense bigness on't—yes, that buildin' is two hundred and sixty thousand square feet, and every foot all filled up with beauty, and bloom, and perfume. It faces the risin' sun, as any place for flowers and plants ort to. Like all the rest of the Exposition buildin's, it has sights of ornaments and statutes. One of the most impressive statutes I see there wuz Spring Asleep. It struck so deep a blow onto my fancy that I thought on't the last thing at night, and I waked up in the night and thought on't.
There never wuz a better-lookin' creeter than Spring wuz, awful big too—riz way up lofty and grand, and hantin' as our own dreams of Spring are as we set shiverin' in the Winter.
Her noble face wuz perfect in its beauty, and she sot there with her arms outstretched; and grouped all round her wuz beautiful forms—lovely wimmen, and babies, and children, all bound in slumber, but, as I should imagine, jest on the pint of wakin' up.
I guess they wuz all a-dreamin' about the song of birds a-comin' back from the south land, and silky, pale green willers a-bendin' low over gurglin' brooks, and pink and white may-flowers a-hidin' under the leafy hollows of Northern hills, and the golden glow of cowslips down in the dusky brown shallows in green swamps, and white clouds a-sailin' over blue skies, and soft winds a-blowin' up from the South.
They wuz asleep, but the cookoo's notes would wake 'em in a minute or two; and then I could see by their clothes that they wuz expectin' warmer weather. It wuz a very impressive statute. Mr. Tafft done his very best—I couldn't have done as well myself—not nigh. Wall, to go through that buildin' wuz like walkin' through fairyland, if fairyland had jest blown all out full of beauty and greenness.
Right in the centre overhead, way up, way up, is a crystal ruff made to represent the sky, and it seems to be a-glitterin' in its crystal beauty way up in the clouds; underneath wuz the most beautiful pictures you ever see, or Josiah, or anybody. They wuz painted in Paris—not Paris in the upper end of Lyme County, but Paris in France, way over the billowy Atlantic; and under this magnificent dome wuz all kinds of the most beautiful palms, bamboos and tree ferns, with their shiny, feathery foliage, and big leaves. Why some of them long, feathery leaves wuz so big, if the tree wuz in the middle of our dooryard the ends of 'em would go over into the orchard—one leaf; the idee! Why, you would almost fancy you wuz in a tropical forest, as you looked up into the great feathery masses and leaves as big as a hull tree almost; and risin' right in the centre wuz a mountain sixty feet high all covered with tropical verdure; leadin' into it wuz a shady, cool grotto, where wuz all kinds of ferns, and exquisite plants, that love to grow in such spots.
And way in through, a-flashin' through the cool darkness of the spot, you could see the wonderful rays of that strange light that has a soul.
And if you will believe it—I don't spoze you will—but there is plants here grown by that artificial light—the idee!
I sez to Josiah, "Did you ever see anything like the idee of growin' plants by lamplight?" and he sez—
"It is a new thing, but a crackin' good one," and he added—
"What can be done in one place can in another," and he got all excited up, and took his old account-book out of his pocket and went to calculatin' on how many cowcumbers he could raise in the winter down suller by the light of his old lantern.
I discouraged him, and sez I, "You can't raise plants by the light of that old karsene lantern, and there hain't no room, anyway, in our suller."
And he said, "He wuz bound to spade up round the pork barrel and try a few hills, anyway;" and sez he, dreamily, "We might raise a few string-beans and have 'em run up on the soap tub."
But I made him put up his book, for we wuz attractin' attention, and I told him agin that we hadn't got the conveniences to home that they had here.
He put up his book and we wended on, but he had a look on his face that made me think he hadn't gin up the idee, and I spoze that some good cowcumber seed will be wasted like as not, to say nothin' of karsene.
Wall, all connected with this house is two big open courts, full and runnin' over with beauty and wonder; on the south is the aquatic garden, showin' all the plants and flowers and wonderful water growth.
Here Josiah begun to make calculations agin about growin' flowers in our old mill-pond, but I broke it up.
On the north court is a magnificent orange grove. Why, it makes you feel as though you wuz a-standin' in California or Florida, under the beautiful green trees, full of the ripe, rich fruit, and blossoms, and green leaves.
Wall, the hull house, take it all in all, is such a seen of wonder, and enchantment, and delight, that it might have been transplanted, jest as it stood, from the Arabian nights entertainment.
And you would almost expect if you turned a corner to meet Old Alibaby, or a Grand Vizier, or somebody before you got out of there.
But we didn't; and after feastin' our eyes on the beauty and wonder on't, we sot off to see the rest of the flowers and plants, for we laid out when we first went to the World's Fair to see one thing at a time so fur as we could, and then tackle another, though I am free to confess that it wuz sometimes like tacklin' the sea-shore to count the grains of sand, or tacklin' the great north woods to count how many leaves wuz on the trees, or measurin' the waters of Lake Ontario with a teaspoon, or any other hard job you are a mind to bring up.
But this day we laid out to see as much as we could of the immense display of flowers.
But where there is milds and milds of clear flowers, what can you do? You can't look at every one on 'em, to save your life.
Why, to jest give you a small idee of the magnitude and size, jest think of five hundred thousand pansies from every quarter of the globe, and every beautiful color that wuz ever seen or drempt of. You know them posies do look some like faces, and the faces look like "the great multitude no man could number," that we read about, and every one of them faces a-bloomin' with every color of the rainbow. And speakin' of rainbows, before long we did see one—a long, shinin', glitterin' rainbow, made out of pure pansies, of which more anon and bimeby.
And then, think of seein' from five to ten millions of tulips. Why, I had thought I had raised tulips; I had had from twenty to thirty in full blow at one time, and had realized it, though I didn't mean to be proud nor haughty.
But I knew that my tulips wuz fur ahead of Miss Isham's, or any other Jonesvillian, and I had feelin's accordin'.
But then to think of ten millions of 'em—why, it would took Miss Isham and me more'n a week to jest count 'em, and work hard, too, all the time.
Why, when I jest stretched out my eye-sight to try to take in them ten millions of globes of gorgeous beauty, my sperits sunk in me further than the Queen of Sheba's did before the glory of Solomon; I felt that minute that I would love to see Miss Sheba, and neighbor with her a spell, and talk with her about pride, and how it felt when it wuz a-fallin'. I could go ahead of her, fur, fur, and I thought I would have loved to own it up to her, and if Solomon had been present, too, I wouldn't have cared a mite—I felt humble. And I jest marched off and never said a word about gittin' a root for me or Miss Isham—I wuz fairly overcome.
And still we walked round through milds and milds of solid beauty and bloom. Every beautiful posey I had ever hearn on, and them I had never hearn on wuz there, right before my dazzled eyes.
The biggest crowd we see in the Horticultural Hall wuz round what you may call the humblest thing—a tree, something like old Bobbetses calf, with five legs.
There wuz a fern from Japan, two separate varieties growin' together in one plant.
There wuz Japanese dwarf trees one hundred years old and about as big as gooseberries.
A travellin' tree from Madagascar wuz one of the most interestin' things to look at.
And then there wuz a giant fern from Australia that measured thirty-two feet—the largest, so I wuz told, in Europe or America. Thirty-two feet! And there I have felt so good and even proud-sperited over my fern I took up out of our woods and brung home and sot out in Mother Smith's old blue sugar-bowl. Why, that fern wuz so large and beautiful, and attracted the envious and admirin' attention of so many Jonesvillians, that I had strong idees of takin' it to the Fair!
Philury said she "hadn't a doubt of my gittin' the first prize medal on't." "Why," sez she, "it is as long as Ury's arm!" And it wuz. Miss Lum thought it would be a good thing to take it, to let Chicago and the rest of the world see what vegetation wuz nateral to Jonesville, feelin' that they would most likely have a deep interest in it.
And Deacon Henzy thought "it might draw population there."
And the schoolmaster thought that "it would be useful to the foreign powers to see to what height swamp culture had attained in the growth of its idigenious plants."
I didn't really understand everything he said—there wuz a number more big words in his talk—but I presoom he did, and felt comforted to use 'em.
Why, as I said, I had boasted that fern wuz as long as my arm.
But thirty-two feet—as high as Josiah, and his father, and his grandfather, and his great-grandfather, and his great-great-grandfather, and Ury on top.
Where, where wuz my boastin'? Gone, washed away utterly on the sea of wonder and or.
And then there wuz a century plant with a blossom stem thirty feet high, and a posey accordin', one posey agin as high as my Josiah, and his father, and etc., etc., etc., and Ury.
Oh, good gracious! oh, dear me suz!
That plant wuzn't expected to blow out in several years, but all of a sudden it shot up that immense stalk, up, up to thirty feet.
It wuz as if the Queen of the Flowery Kingdom had come with the rest of the kings and princesses of the earth to the Columbus World's Fair.
Had changed her plans to come with the rest of the royal family. It wuz a sight.
Wall, after roamin' there the best part of two hours, I said to my companion, "Less go and see the Wooded Island." And he said with a deep sithe, "I am ready, and more than ready. The name sounds good to me. I would love to see some good plain wood, either corded up or in sled length."
I see he wuz sick of lookin' at flowers, and I d'no as I could blame him; for my own head seemed to be jest a-turnin' round and round, and every turnin' had more colors than any rainbow you ever laid eyes on.
He wuz dretful anxious to git out-doors himself. He said it wuz all for himself that he wuz hurryin' so.
I d'no that, but I do know that in his haste to help me git out he stepped on my foot, and almost made a wreck of that valuable member.
I looked bad, and groaned, and sithed considerable 'fore he got to the sheltered bench he'd sot out for.
He acted sorry, and I didn't reproach him any.
I only sez, "Oh, I don't lay it up aginst you, Josiah. It jest reminds me of Sister Blanker."
And he sez, "I don't thank you to compare me to that slab-sided old maid."
Sez I, "I believe she's a Christian, Josiah."
And so I do. But sez I, "Folks must be megum even in goodness, Josiah Allen, and in order to set down and hold a half orphan in your arms, you mustn't overset yourself and come down on the floor on top of a hull orphan or a nursin' child.
"You mustn't tromple so fast on your way to the gole as to walk over and upset two or three lame ones and paryletics."
Sez I, "Do you remember my eppisode with Sister Blanker, Josiah?"
He did not frame a reply to me, but sot off to look at sunthin' or ruther, sayin' that he would come back in a few minutes.
And as I sot there alone Memory went on and onrolled her panorama in front of my eyeballs, about my singular eppisode with Drusilla Blanker.
Sister Blanker is a good woman and a Christian, but she never so much as sot her foot on the fair plains of megumness, whose balmy, even climate has afforded me so much comfort all my life.
No; she is a woman who stalks on towards goles and don't mind who or what she upsets on her way.
She is a woman who a-chasin' sinners slams the door in the faces of saints.
And what I mean by this is that she is in such a hurry to git inside the door of Duty (a real heavy door sometimes, heavy as iron), she don't see whether or not it is a-goin' to slam back and hit somebody in the forward.
A remarkable instance of this memory onrolled on her panorama—a eppisode that took place in our own Jonesville meetin'-house.
The session room where we go to session sometimes and to transact other business has got a heavy swing door. And everybody who goes through it always calculates to hold it back if there is anybody comin' behind 'em, for that door has been known to knock a man down when it come onto him onexpected and onbeknown to him.
Wall, Sister Blanker wuz a-goin' on ahead of me one night; it wuz a charitable meetin' that we wuz a-goin' to—to quilt a bedquilt for a heathen—and she knew I wuz jest behind her—right on her tracts, as you may say, for we had sot out together from the preachin'-room, and we had been a-talkin' all the way there on the different merits of otter color or butnut for linin' for the quilt, and as to whether herrin'-bone looked so good as a quiltin' stitch as plain rib.
She favored rib and otter; I kinder leaned toward herrin'-bone and butnut.
We had had a agreeable talk all the way, though I couldn't help seein' she wuz too hard on butnut, and slightin' in her remarks on herrin'-bone.
Anyway, she knew I wuz with her in the body; but as she ketched sight of the door that wuz a-goin' to let her in where she could begin to do good, her mind jest soared right up, and she forgot everything and everybody, and she let that door slam right back and hit me on my right arm, and laid me up for over five weeks.
And I fell right back on Edna Garvin, and she is lame, and it knocked her over backwards onto Sally Ann Bobbetses little girl, and she fell flat down, and Miss Gowdey on top of her, and Miss Gowdey, bein' a-walkin' along lost in thought about the bedquilt, and thinkin' how much battin' we should need in it, and not lookin' for a obstacle in her path, slipped right up and fell forwards. Wall, a-tryin' to save little Annie Gowdey from bein' squashed right down, Miss Gowdey throwed herself sideways and strained her back. She weighs two hundred, and is loose-jinted.
And she hain't got over it to this day. She insists on't that she loosened her spine in the affair.
And I d'no but she did!
But the child wuz gin up to die. So for weeks and weeks the Bobbetses and all of Sally Ann's relations (she wuz a Henzy and wide connected in the Methodist meetin'-house) had to give up all their time a-hangin' over that sick-bed.
And the Garvins wuz mad as hens, and they bein' connected with most everybody in the Dorcuss Society—and it wuzn't over than above large—why, take it with my bein' laid up and the children havin' to be home so much, Sister Blanker in that one slam jest about cleaned out the hull Methodist meetin'-house.
The quilt wuzn't touched after that night, and the heathen lay cold all winter, for all I know.
I had all I could do to take care of my own arm, catnip and lobela alternately and a-follerin' after each other I pursued for weeks and weeks, and the pain wuz fearful.
Sister Blanker wuz about the only one who come out hull, and she had plenty of time to set down and mourn over a lack of opportunities to do good, and to talk a sight about the lukewarmness of members of the meetin'-house in good works. And there they wuz to home a-sufferin', and it wuz her own self who had brung it all on.
You see, as I have said more formally, in our efforts to march forwards to do good it is highly neccessary to see that we hain't a-tromplin' on anybody; and in order to help sinners in Africa it hain't neccessary to knock down Christians in New Jersey and Rhode Island, or to stomp onto professors in Maine.
Howsumever, that is some folkses ways.
Wall, I'd a been a-lookin' at the panorama with one half of my mind and admirin' the beauty round me with the other half.
But at this minute—and it wuz lucky my eppisode had come to an end, for if there is anything I hate it is to be broke up in eppisodin'—my Josiah returned.
In front of Horticultural Hall is a flower terrace for out-door exhibits of loveliness, and then in front of that is the beautiful, cool water, and down in the centre of that, below the terrace, and its beauty, and vases, is a boat-landin'. The water did look dretful good to me after lookin' at so many gorgeous colors—more than any rainbow ever boasted of, enough sight—it did seem good to me to look down into them cool waters; and I sez to my pardner—
"The water does look dretful good and sort o' satisfyin', don't it, Josiah?"
A bystander a-standin' by sez, "I guess if you would go into the south pavilion here and look at the display of wine you wouldn't talk about lookin' at water; why," sez he, "to say nothin' of the display of our own country, the exhibit of wine from France, Italy, Spain, and Germany is enough to set a man half crazy to look at."
I looked at him coldly—his nose wuz as red as fire—and I sez, "I hain't got no call to look at wine.
"I wouldn't give a cent a barrel for the best there is there, if I had got to consoom it myself.
"Though," sez I, reasonably, "I wouldn't object to havin' a pint bottle on't to keep in the house in case of sickness, or to make jell, or sunthin'.
"But I will not go and encourage the makin' of such quantities as there is there, I will not encourage 'em in makin' that show."
He looked mad, and sez he, "I guess they won't stop their show because you won't go and see it."
"Probable not," sez I; but sez I, real eloquent, "I will hold up my banner afoot or on horseback."
And then I sez to my husband, with quite a good deal of dignity—
"Less proceed to the Wooded Island, Josiah Allen."
But alas! for Josiah's hope of seein' sunthin' plain and simple. When we got there, that seemed to be the very central garden of the earth for flowers, and beauty, and bloom, and there it wuz that we see the most gorgeous rainbow—all made of pansies—glow and dazzlement.
The island contains seventeen acres, and it stands on such a rise of ground, that every buildin' on the Fair ground can be seen plain.
In the centre of the south end wuz the rose garden, where the choicest and most beautiful roses from all over the world bloom in their glowin' richness.
When I thought how much store I had sot by one little monthly rose a-growin' in a old earthen teapot of Mother Allen's—and when it wuz all blowed out I had reason to be proud on't—
But jest think of seein' fifty thousand of the choicest roses in the world, all a-blowin' out at one time.
Why, I had a immense number of emotions.
I thought of the ancient rose gardens we read of, and Solomon's Songs, and most everything.
It wuz surrounded on all four sides with a wire trellis, with archways openin' on four sides, and all over these pretty trellises climbin' roses and honeysuckles, and all lovely climbin' plants covered it into four walls of perfect beauty.
It wuz truly the World's Rose Garden.
Well might Josiah say he wuz sick of flowers, and wanted to see some plain cord wood! Why, that day we see in one batch twenty thousand orchids, six thousand Parmee violets, and one man—jest one man—sent 'leven hundred ivies and one thousand hydarangeas, and every flower you ever hearn on in proportion, let alone what all the other men all over the earth had sent.
On the north side of the island Japan jest shows herself at her very best, and lets the world see her in a native village, and how she raises flowers, and makes shrubs and trees look curious as anything you ever see, and curiouser, too; all surrounded a temple where she keeps what she calls her religion, and lots of other things.
Japan is one of the likeliest countries that are represented in Columbuses doin's. She wuz the first country to respond to the invitation to take part in it, and I spoze mebby that is the reason that Chicago gin her this beautiful place to hold her own individual doin's in. The temple is a gorgeous-lookin' one, but queer as anything—as anything I ever see.
But then, on the other hand, I spoze them Japans would call the Jonesville meetin'-house queer; for what is strange in one country is second nater in another.
This temple is built with one body and two wings, to represent the Phoenix—or so they say; the wood part wuz built in Japan and put up here by native Japans, brung over for that purpose.
It is elaborate and gorgeous-lookin' in the extreme, and the gorgeousness a-differin' from our gorgeousness as one star differeth from a rutabaga turnip.
Not that I mean any disrespect to Japan or the United States by the metafor, but I had to use a strong one to show off the difference.
In one wing of the temple is exhibited articles from one thousand to four thousand years old—old bronzes, and arms, and first attempts at pottery and lacquer.
Some of these illustrate arts that are lost fur back in the past—I d'no how or where, nor Josiah don't.
In the other wing are Japan productions four hundred years old, showin' the state of the country when Columbus sot out to discover their country; for it wuz stories of a wonderful island—most probable Japan—that wuz one thing that influenced Columbus strong.
In the main buildin' are sights and sights of goods from Japan at the present day.
All of the north part of the island is a marvellous show of their skill and ingenuity in landscape gardenin', and dwarf trees, and the wonderful garden effects for which they are noted.
They make a present of the temple and all of these horticultural works to Chicago.
To remain always a ornament of Jackson Park, which I call very pretty in 'em.
Take it all together, the exhibits of Japan are about as interesting as that of any country of the globe.
In some things they go ahead of us fur. Now in some of their meetin'-houses I am told they don't have much of anything but a lookin'-glass a-hangin', to show the duty and neccessity of lookin' at your own sins.
To set for a hour and a half and examine your own self and meditate on your own shortcomin's.
How useful and improvin' that would be if used—as it ort to be—in Jonesville or Chicago!
But still the world would call it queer.
I leaned up hard on that thought, and wuz carried safe through all the queer sights I see there.
I see quite a number of the Japans there, pretty, small-bonded folks, with faces kinder yellowish brown, dark eyes sot considerable fur back in their heads, their noses not Romans by any means—quite the reverse—and their hair glossy and dark, little hands and feet. Some on 'em wuz dressed like Jonesvillians, but others had their queer-shaped clothin', and dretful ornamental. Josiah wuz bound to have a sack embroidered like one of theirn, and some wooden shoes, and caps with tossels—he thought they wuz dressy—and he wanted some big sleeves that he could use as a pocket; and then sez he—
"To have shoes that have a separate place for the big toe, what a boon for that dum old corn on that toe of mine that would be!"
But I frowned on the idee; but sez he—
"If you mind the expense, I could take one of your old short night-gowns and color it black, and set some embroidery onto it. I could cut some figgers out of creton—it wouldn't be much work. Why," sez he, "I could pin 'em on—no, dum it all," sez he, "I couldn't set down in it, but I could glue 'em on."
But I sez, "If you want to foller the Japans I could tell you a custom of theirn, and I would give ten cents willin'ly to see you foller it."
"What is that?" sez he, ready, as I could see, to ornament himself, or shave his hair, or dress up his big toe, or anything.
But I sez, "It is their politeness, Josiah Allen."
"I'd be a dum fool if I wuz in your place," sez he. "What do I want to foller 'em for? I am polite, and always wuz."
I looked coldly at him, and sez I—
"Japans wouldn't call their wives a dum fool no quicker than they would take their heads off."
Sez he, conscience-struck, "I didn't call you one. I said I would be one if I wuz in your place—I wuz a-demeanin' myself, Samantha."
Sez I, not mindin' his persiflage, "The Japans are the politest nation on the earth; they say cheatin' and lyin' hain't polite, and so they don't want to foller 'em; they hitch principle and politeness right up in one team and ride after it."
"Wall," sez he, "I do and always have."
I wouldn't deign to argue with him, only I remarked, "Wall, the team prances, and throws you time and again, Josiah Allen."
Sez I, "The Japans are neat, industrious, studious, and progressive, ardent in desirin' knowledge."
"Wall," sez he, "if you think so much on 'em, why don't you buy a pipe—they all smoke, men and wimmen."
He didn't love to hear me praisin' even a nation, that man didn't, but I soothed him down by drawin' his attention to the housen of the little village.
They wuz low, and had broad eaves, and a sort of a piazza a-runnin' all round 'em; they seemed to be kinder plastered on the outside; and the doors and winders—I wouldn't want to swear to it—but they did seem to be wood frames covered with paper, that would slide back and forth, and the partitions of the housen seemed to be made of paper that could be slipped and slided every way, or be took down and turn the hull house into one room.
And the little gardens round the housen looked curious as a dog, and curiouser, with trees and shrubs dwarfed and trained into forms of animals and so forth.
But I leaned heavy on the thought that my house and garden in Jonesville would look jest as queer to 'em, and got along without bein' too dumbfoundered. As I wuz a-walkin' along there I did think of the errant Old Miss Baker sent by me.
She wanted me to git her a japanned dust-pan. She said that "them she bought of tin-peddlers wuzn't worth a cent—the japan all wore off of 'em."
"But," sez she, "you buy it right at headquarters—you'd be apt to git a good one;" and she told me that I might go as high as twenty-five cents if I couldn't git it for no less.
And I spoke on't there, but Josiah said "that he wouldn't go a-luggin' round dust-pans for nobody to this Fair."
But I sez, "I guess that Columbus went through more than that."
But I did in my own mind hate to go round before the nations a-carryin' a dust-pan—they're so kinder rakish-lookin'.
But if I'd seen a good one I should have leaned on duty and bought it.
But we didn't see no signs of any.
But we see pictures and ornaments so queer that I felt my own eyes a-movin' round sideways a-beholdin' of 'em, or would have if we had stayed there long enough. We see as we wended along that all round the island wuz another garden all full of flowers, and ornamental grasses, and beautiful shrubs, and windin' walks, and so forth, and so forth, and so forth—an Eden of beauty.
And in one place we see in a large tank the Victoria Regia. Its leaves wuz ten feet long, and when in the water in its own home, the River Amazon in Brazil, the leaves will hold up a child six years old.
Then there wuz the lotus from Egypt, and Indian lilies, and that magnificent flower, Humboldt's last discovery, "the water poppy."
It wuz a sight—a sight.
But of all the sights I see that day I guess the one that stayed by me the longest, and that I thought more on than any of the other contents of Horticultural Hall, as I lay there on my peaceful pillow at Miss Plankses, wuz the reproduction of the Crystal Cave of Dakota.
The original cave, so fur as they have discovered it, is thirty-three milds long—
Three times as long as the hull town of Lyme—the idee!
Thirty lakes of pure water has been found in it, and one thousand four hundred rooms have been opened up.
Here is a reproduction of seven of them rooms. Two men of Deadwood of Dakota wuz over a year a-gittin' specimens of the stalactites and stalagmites which they have brought to the Exposition.
One of the rooms is called "Garden of the Gods;" another is "Abode of the Fairies," and one is the "Bridal Chamber;" another is the "Cathedral Chimes."
Language can't paint nor do anything towards paintin' the dazzlin' glory of them rooms, with the great masses of gleamin' crystal, and slender columns, and all sorts of forms and fancies wrought in the dazzlin' crystalline masses.
The chimes wuz perfect in their musical records—the guide played a tune on 'em.
They wuz all lit up by electricity, and it wuz here that the plants wuz a-growin' by no other light but electricity.
By windin' passages a-windin' through groups of fairy-like beauty and grandeur, you at last come out into the principal chamber, and here indeed you did feel that you wuz in the Garden of the Gods, as you looked round and beheld with your almost dazzled eyes the gorgeous colors radiatin' from the crystals, and the gleamin' and glowin' fancies on every side of you.
And I sez to Josiah—
"The hull thirty-three milds that this represents wuz considered till about a year ago as only a small hole in the ground, so little do we know." Sez I, "What glorious and majestic sights are about us on every side, liable to be revealed to us when the time comes."
And then he wuz all rousted up about a hole down in our paster. Sez he, "Who knows what it would lead to if it wuz opened up?" Sez he, "I'll put twenty men to diggin' there the minute I git home."
Sez I, "Josiah, that is a woodchuck hole—the woodchuck wuz took in it; you have got to be megum in caves as much as anything. Be calm," sez I, for he wuz a-breathin' hard and wuz fearful excited, and I led him out as quick as I could.
But he wuz a-sleepin' now peaceful, forgittin' his enthusiasm, while I, who took it calm at the time, kep awake to muse on the glory of the spectacle.
After we left the Horticultural Buildin' I proposed that we should branch out for once and git a fashionable dinner.
"Dinner!" sez Josiah. "Are you crazy, or what does ail you? Talk about gittin' dinner at this time of day—most bedtime!"
But I explained it out to him that fashion called for dinner at the hour that we usually partook of our evenin' meal at Jonesville.
Sez I, "Josiah, I would love for jest once to go to a big fashionable restaurant and mingle with the fashionable throng—jest for instruction and education, Josiah, not that I want to foller it up."
But sez he, "We'd better go to the same old place where we've got good, clean dinners and supperses, and enough on 'em, and at a livin' price."
But he argued warm at the foolishness of the enterprise.
But onlucky creeter that I wuz, I argued that, bein' a woman in search of instruction and wisdom, I wanted to see life on as many sides as I could; while I was at Columbuses doin's I wanted to look round and see all I could in a social and educational way.
Poor deceived human creeters, how they will blind their own eyes when they pursue their own desires!
I do spoze it wuz vanity and pride that wuz at the bottom of it.
And truly, if I desired to see life on a new side I wuz about to have my wish; and if I had a haughty sperit when I entered that hall of fashion, it wuz with droopin' feathers and lowered crest that I went out on't.
Josiah wuz mad when he finally gin up and accompanied and went in with me.
It wuz a beautifully decorated room, and crowds of splendidly dressed men and wimmen wuz a-settin' round at little tables all over the room.
And as we went in, a tall, elegant-lookin' man, who I spozed for a long time wuz a minister, and I wondered enough what brung him there, and why he should advance and wait on me, but spozed it wuz because of the high opinion they had of me at Chicago, and their wantin' to use me so awful well.
But for all his white collar, and necktie, and sanctimonious look, I found out that he wuz a waiter, for all on 'em looked jest as he did, slick enough to be kept in a bandbox, and only let out once in a while to air.
Wall, he led the way to a little table, and we seated ourselves, Josiah still a-actin' mad—mad as a hen, and uppish.
And then the waiter put some little slips of paper before us, one with printin' and one with writin' on it, and a pencil, and sez he, "I will be back when you make out your order."
And Josiah took out his old silver spectacles and begun to read out loud, and his voice wuz angry and morbid in the extreme.
Sez he, loud and clear, "Blue pints—pints of what, I'd love to know? If it wuz a good pint of sweetened vinegar and ginger, I'd fall in with the idee."
Sez I, "Keep still, Josiah; they're a-lookin' at you."
"Wall, let 'em look," sez he, out loud and defiant.
"Consomme of chicken a la princess—what do we want of Princesses here, or Queens, or Dukesses—we want sunthin' to eat! Devilish crabs—do you want some, Samantha?"
I looked over his shoulder, in wild horrer at them awful words, and then I whispered, "Devilled crabs—and do you keep still, Josiah Allen; I'd ruther not have anythin' to eat at all than to have you act so—it hain't devilish."
"Wall, what is the difference?" he sez, out loud and strong; "devilish or bedevilled, they both mean the same.
"And it is true, too—too true; they are all bedevilled," sez he, gloomily eyin' the bill.
I allers hated crabs from the time they used to fasten to my bare toes down in the old swimmin' hole in the creek. "Wall, you don't want any bedevilled crabs, do you?"
"No," sez I, faintly; for I wuz mortified enough to sink through the floor if there had been any sinkin' place, and I whispered, "I'd ruther go without any dinner at all than to have you act so."
"Oh, no," sez he, loud and positive, "you don't want to go without your dinner; you want to be fashionable and cut style—you want to make a show."
"Wall," sez I, faint as a cat, "I am apt to git my wish."
For three men looked up and laughed, and one girl snickered, besides some other wimmen.
Sez I, hunchin' him, "Do be still and less go to our old place."
"Oh, no," sez he, speakin' up to the top of his voice, "don't less leave; here is such a variety!"
"Potatoes surprise," sez he; "it must be that they are mealy and cooked decent; that would be about as much of a surprise as I could have about potatoes here, to have 'em biled fit to eat; we'll have some of them, anyway.
"Philadelphia caperin'—I didn't know that Philadelphia caperin' wuz any better than Chicago a-caperin' or New York a-caperin'. Veal o just! I guess if he had been kicked by calves as much as I have, he wouldn't talk so much about their Christian habits.
"Leg of mutton with caper sass—wall, it is nateral for sheep to caper and act sassy, and it is nobody's bizness.
"Supreme pinted bogardus—what in thunder is that? Supreme—wall, I've hearn of a supreme ijiot, and I believe that Bogardus is his name.
"Terrapin a-layin' on Maryland—I never knew that terrapin wuz a hen before, and why is it any better to lay on Maryland than anywhere else? Mebby eggs are higher there; wall, Maryland hain't much too big for a good-sized hen's nest, nor Rhode Island neither."
"Josiah Allen," I whispered, deep and solemn, "if you don't stop I will part with you."
Folks wuz in a full snicker and a giggle by this time.
"Oh, no," sez he, loud and strong, "you don't want to part with me till I git you a fashionable dinner, and we both cut style.
"Tenderloin of beef a-tryin' on"—a-tryin' on what, I'd love to know?—style, most probable, this is such a stylish place."
"Will you be still, Josiah Allen?" sez I, a-layin' holt of his vest.
"No, I won't; I am tryin' to put on style, Samantha, and buy you sunthin' stylish to eat."
"Wall, you needn't," sez I; "I have lost my appetite."
"Siberian Punch! Let him come on," sez Josiah; "if I can't use my fists equal to any dum Siberian that ever trod shoe leather, then I'll give in."
Then three wimmen giggled, and the waiters began to look mad and troubled.
"English rifles"—wall, I shouldn't have thought they would have tried that agin. No, trifles," sez he, a-lookin' closer at it.
"English trifles!—lions' tails and coronets, mebby—English trifles and tutty-frutty. Do have some tutty-frutty, Samantha, it has such a stylish sound to it, so different from good pork and beans and roast beef; I believe you would enjoy it dearly.
"Waiter," sez he, "bring on some tutty-frutty to once."
The waiter approached cautiously, and made a motion to me, and touched his forehead.
He thought he wuz crazy, and he whispered to me, "Is it caused by drinkin'? or is it nateral and come on sudden—"
Josiah heard it, and answered out loud, "It wuz caused by style, by bein' fashionable; my only aim has been to git my wife a fashionable dinner, but I see it has overcome her."
The waiter wuz a good-hearted-lookin' man—a kind heart beat below that white necktie (considerable below it on the left side), and sez he to me—
"Shall I bring you a dinner, Mom, without takin' the order?"
And I replied gratefully—
"Yes, so do;" and so he brung it, a good enough dinner for anybody—good roast beef, and potatoes, and lemon pie, and tea, and Josiah eat hearty, and had to quiet down some, though he kept a-mournin' all through the meal about its not bein' carried on fashionable and stylish, and that it wuz my doin's a-breakin' it up, and etc., etc., and the last thing a-wantin' tutty-frutty, and etc., etc.
And I paid for the meal out of my own pocket; the waiter thought I had to on account of my companion's luny state, and he gin the bill to me.
And Josiah a-chucklin' over it, as I could see, for savin' his money.
And I got him out of that place as quick as I could, the bystanders, or ruther the bysetters, a-laughin' or a-lookin' pitiful at me, as their naters differed.
And as we wended off down the broad path on the outside, I sez, "You have disgraced us forever in the eyes of the nation, Josiah Allen."
And he sez, "What have I done? You can't throw it in my face, Samantha, that I hain't tried to cut style—that I didn't try to git you a stylish meal."
I wouldn't say a word further to him, and I never spoke to him once that night—not once, only in the night I thought there wuz a mouse in the room, and I forgot myself and called on him for help.
And for three days I didn't pass nothin' but the compliments with him; he felt bad—he worships me. He did it all to keep me from goin' to a costly place—I know what his motives wuz—but he had mortified me too deep.
Wall, this mornin' I said that I would go to see the Palace of Art if I had to go on my hands and knees.
And Josiah sez, "I guess you'd need a new pair of knees by the time you got there."
And I do spoze it wuz milds and milds from where I wuz.
But I only wanted to let Josiah Allen know my cast-iron determination to not be put off another minute in payin' my devours to Art.
He see it writ in my mean and didn't make no moves towards breakin' it up.
Only he muttered sunthin' about not carin' so much about ile paintin's as he did for lots of other things.
But I heeded him not, and sez I, "We will go early in the mornin' before any one gits there." But I guess that several hundred thousand other folks must have laid on the same plans overnight, for we found the rooms full and runnin' over when we got there.
Before we got to the Art Palace, you'd know you wuz in its neighborhood by the beautiful statutes and groups of figgers you'd see all round you.
The buildin' itself is a gem of art, if you can call anything a gem that is acres and acres big of itself, and then has immense annexes connected with it by broad, handsome corridors on either side.
It is Greek in style, and the dome rises one hundred and twenty-five feet and is surmounted by Martiny's wonderful winged Victory.
Another female is depictered standin' on top of the globe with wreaths in her outstretched hands.
Wall, I hope the figger is symbolical, and I believe in my soul she is!
You enter this palace by four great portals, beautiful with sculptured figgers and ornaments, and as you go on in the colonnade you see beautiful paintin's illustratin' the rise and progress of Art.
And way up on the outside, on what they call the freeze of the buildin' (and good land! I don't see what they wuz a-thinkin' on, for I wuz jest a-meltin' down where I wuz, and it must have been hotter up there).
But that's their way.
Wall, way up there and on the pediment of the principal entrances are sculptures and portraits of the ancient masters of Art in relief.
In relief? That's what they called it, and I spoze them old men must felt real relieved and contented to be sot down there in such a grand place, and so riz up like. You could see plain by their liniments how glad and proud they wuz to be in Chicago, a-lookin' down on that seen of beauty all round 'em. Lookin' down on the terraces richly ornamented with balustrades—down over the immense flight of steps down into the blue water, with its flocks of steam lanches, and gondolas, like gay birds of passage, settled down there ready for flight.
All the light in this buildin' comes down through immense skylights.
There is no danger of folks a-fallin' out of the winders or havin' anybody peek in unless it is the man in the moon.
All round this vast room is a gallery forty feet wide, where you could lock arms and promenade, and talk about hens.
But you wouldn't want to, I don't believe. You'd want to spend every minute a-feastin' your eyes on the Best of the World.
All along the floors of the nave and transepts are displayed the most beautiful sculptures that wuz ever sculped in any part of the world, while the walls are covered with paintin's and sculptured panels in relief.
That's what they call 'em, because it's such a relief for folks to set down and look at 'em.
Between the promenades and naves and transepts are the smaller rooms, where the private collections of picters are kep and the works of the different Art Schools, and the four corners are filled with smaller picter galleries.
Why, to go through jest one of them annexes, let alone the palace itself, would take a week if you examined 'em as you ort to. Josiah told me that mornin', with a encouraged look onto his face—
"Samantha, after we've seen all the ile paintin's we'll go somewhere, and have a good time."
"But good land! see all the ile paintin's!"
Why, as I told him after we'd wandered through there for hours and hours, sez I, "If we spent every minute of the hull summer we couldn't do justice to 'em all."
And we couldn't. Why, it has been all calculated out by a good calculator, that spend one minute to a picter, and it would take twenty-six days to go through 'em. And good land! what is one minute to some of the picters you see. Why, half a day wuzn't none too long to pour over some on 'em, and when I say pour, I mean pour, for I see dozens of folks weepin' quite hard before some on 'em.
For these picters wuzn't picked out haphazard all over the country. No, they had to, every one on 'em, run the gantlet of the most severe and close criticism.
The Jury of Admittance stood in front of that gallery, and over it, as you may say, like the very finest and strongest wire sieve, a-strainin' out all but the finest and clearest merits. No dregs could git through—not a dreg.
I guess that hain't a very good metafor, and if I wuzn't in such a hurry I'd look round and try to find a better one, not knowin', too, but what that Jury of Admittance will feel mad as hens at me to be compared to sieves; but I don't mean the common wire ones, such as tin-peddlers sell. No, I mean the searchin' and elevatin' process by which the very best of our country and the hull world wuz separated from the less meritorious ones, and spread out there for the inspiration and delight of the assembled nations.
And wuzn't it a sight what wuz to be found there!
Landscapes from every land on the globe—from Lapland to the Orient. Tropical forests, with soft southern faces lookin' out of the verdant shadows. Frozen icebergs, with fur-clad figgers with stern aspects, and grizzly bears and ice-suckles.
Bits of the beauty of all climes under all skies, dark or sunny. Mountains, trees, valleys, forests, plains and prairies, palaces and huts, ships, boats and balloons. The beauty and the sadness of every season of the year, beautiful faces, inspired faces, humbly faces, strikin' powerful means, and mean cowardly sly liniments looked out on every side of us.
Picters illustratin' every phase of human life, in every corner of the globe, from birth to death, from kingly prosperity and luxurious ease to prisons and scaffolds, the throne, the hospital, the convent, the pulpit, the monastery, the home, the battle-field, the mid-ocean, and the sheltered way, and Heaven and Hell, and Life and Death.
Every seen and spot the human mind had ever conceived wuz here depictered.
Every emotion man or woman ever felt, every inspiration that ever possessed their soul, every joy and every grief that ever lifted or bowed down their heads wuz here depictered.
And seens from the literature of every land wuz illustrated, the world of matter, the world of mind, all their secrets laid bare to the eyes of the admirin' nations.
It wuz a sight—a sight!
Gallery after gallery, room after room did we wander through till the gorgeous colorin' seemed to dye our very thoughts and emotions, and I looked at Josiah in a kinder mixed-up, lofty way, as if he wuz a ile paintin' or a statute, and he looked at me almost as if he considered me a chromo.
It wuz a time not to be forgot as long as memory sets up high on her high throne.
Room after room, gallery after gallery, beauty dazzlin' us on every side, and lameness and twinges of rumatiz a-harassin' us in our four extremities.
Why, the sight seemed so endless and so immense, that some of the time we felt like two needles in a haymow, a haymow made up of a vision of loveliness, and the two little needles feelin' fairly tuckered out, and blunted, and browbeat.
Why, we got so kinder bewildered and carried away, that some of the time I couldn't tell whether the masterpiece I wuz a-devourin' with my eyes come from Germany or Jonesville, from France or Shackville, from Holland or from Zoar, up in the upper part of Lyme.
Of course amongst that endless display there wuz some picters that struck such hard blows at the heart and fancy that you can't forgit 'em if you wanted to, which most probable you don't.
And now, in thinkin' back on 'em, I can't sort 'em out and lay 'em down where they belong and mark 'em 1, 2, 3, 4, and etcetry, as I'd ort to.
But I'm jest as likely to let my mind jump right from what I see at the entrance to sunthin' that I see way to the latter end of the buildin', and visa versa.
It kinder worries me. I love to even meditate and allegore with some degree of order and system, but I can't here. I must allegore and meditate on 'em jest as they come, and truly a-thinkin' on these picters, I feel as Hosey Bigelow ust to say:
"I can't tell what's comin'—gall or honey."
But some of them picters and statutes made perfect dents in my memory, and can't be smoothed out agin nohow.
There wuz one little figger jest at the entrance where we went in, "The Young Acrobat," that impressed me dretfully.
It wuz a man's hand and arm that wuz a-risin' up out of a pedestal, and on the hand wuz set the cutest little baby you ever see. I guess it wuz the first time that he'd ever sot up anywhere out of the cradle or his ma's arms.
He looked some skairt, and some proud, and too cunnin' for anything, as I hearn remarked by a few hundred female wimmen that day.
And like as not it is jest like my incoherence in revery that from that little baby my mind would spring right on to the French exhibit to that noble statute of Jennie D. Ark, kneelin' there with her clasped hands and her eyes lifted as if she wuz a-sayin': "I did hear the voices!"
And so she did hear the language of Heaven, and the dull souls around her wuz too earthly to comprehend the divine harmonies, and so they burnt her up for it.
Lots of folks are burnt up in different fires to-day, for the same thing.
Then mebby my mind will jest jump to the "Age of Iron" or to the "Secrets of the Tomb," or "The Eagle and the Vulture," or "Washington and Lafayette," or "Charity"—a good-lookin' creeter she wuz—she could think of other children besides her own; or mebby it will jump right over onto the "Indian Buffalo Hunt"—a horse a-rarin' right up to git rid of a buffalo that wuz a-pressin' right in under its forelegs.
I don't see how that hunter could stay on his back—I couldn't—to say nothin' to shootin' the arrows into the critter as he's a-doin'.
Or mebby my mind'll jump right over to the "Soldier of Marathon," or "Eve," no knowin' at all where my thoughts will take me amongst them noble marble figgers.
And as for picters, my revery on 'em now is a perfect sight; a show as good as a panorama is a-goin' on in my fore-top now when I let my thoughts take their full swing on them picters.
Amongst them that struck the hardest blows on my fancy wuz them that told stories that touched the heart.
There wuz one in the Holland exhibit, called "Alone in the World," a picter that rousted up my feelin's to a almost alarmin' extent. It wuz a picter by Josef Israel.
It wuz a sight to see how this picter touched the hearts of the people. No grandeur about it, but it held the soul of things—pathos, heart-breakin' sorrow.
A peasant had come home to his bare-lookin' cottage, and found his wife dead in her bed.
He didn't rave round and act, and strike an attitude. No, he jest turned round and sot there on his hard stool, with his hands on his knees, a-facin' the bare future.
The hull of the desolation of that long life of emptiness and grief that he sees stretch out before him without her, that he had loved and lost, wuz in the man's grief-stricken face.
It wuz that face that made up the loss and the strength of the picter.
I cried and wept in front of it, and cried and wept. I thought what if that wuz Josiah that sot there with that agony in his face, and that desolation in his heart, and I couldn't comfort him—
Couldn't say to him: "Josiah, we'll bear it together."
I wuz fearful overcome.
And then there wuz another picter called "Breakin' Home Ties."
A crowd always stood before that.
It wuz a boy jest a-settin' out to seek his fortune. The breakfast-table still stood in the room. The old grandma a-settin' there still; time had dulled her vision for lookin' forward. She wuz a-lookin' into the past, into the realm that had held so many partin's for her, and mebby lookin' way over the present into the land of meetin's.
The little girl with her hand on the old dog is too small to fully realize what it all means.
But in the mother's face you can see the full meanin' of the partin'—the breakin' of the old ties that bound her boy so fast to her in the past.
The lettin' him go out into the evil world without her lovin' watchfulness and love. All the love that would fain go with him—all the admonition that she would fain give him—all the love and all the hope she feels for him is writ in her gentle face.
As for the boy, anticipation and dread are writ on his mean, but the man is waitin' impatient outside to take him away. The partin' must come.
You turn away, glad you can't see that last kiss.
Then there wuz "Holy Night," the Christ Child, with its father and mother, and some surroundin' worshippers of both sects.
Mary's face held all the sweetness and strength you'd expect to see in the mother of our Lord. And Joseph looked real well too—quite well.
Josiah said that "the halos round his head and Mary's looked some like big white plates."
But I sez, "You hain't much of a judge of halos, anyway. Mebby if you should try to make a few halos you'd speak better of 'em."
I often think this in the presence of critics, mebby if they should lay holt and paint a few picters, they wouldn't find fault with 'em so glib. It looks real mean to me to see folks find so much fault with what they can't do half so well themselves.
Then there wuz the wimmen at the tomb of the Christ. The door is open, the Angel is begenin' for 'em to enter.
In the faces of them weepin', waitin' wimmen is depictered the very height and depth of sorrow. You can't see the face of one on 'em, but her poster gives the impression of absolute grief and loss.
The quiverin' lips seems formin' the words—"Farwell, farwell, best beloved."
Deathless love shines through the eyes streamin' with tears.
In the British section there wuz one picter that struck such a deep blow onto my heart that its strings hain't got over vibratin' still.
They send back some of them deep, thrillin' echoes every time I think on't in the day-time or wake up in the night and think on't.
It wuz "Love and Death," and wuz painted by Mr. Watts, of London.
It showed a home where Love had made its sweet restin'-place—vines grew up round the pleasant door-way, emblematic of how the heart's deep affection twined round the spot.
But in the door-way stood a mighty form, veiled and shadowy, but relentless. It has torn the vines down, they lay witherin' at its feet. It wuz bound to enter.
Though you couldn't see the face of this veiled shape, a mysterious, dretful atmosphere darkened and surrounded it, and you knew that its name wuz Death.
Love stood in the door-way, vainly a-tryin' to keep it out, but you could see plain how its pleadin', implorin' hand, extended out a-tryin' to push the figger away, wuz a-goin' to be swept aside by the inexorable, silent shape.
Death when he goes up on a door-step and pauses before a door has got to enter, and Love can't push it away. No, it can only git its wings torn off and trompled on in the vain effort.
It wuz a dretful impressive picter, one that can't be forgot while life remains.
On the opposite wall wuz Crane's noble picter, "Freedom;" I stood before that for some time nearly lost and by the side of myself. Crane did first-rate; I'd a been glad to have told him so—it would a been so encouragin' to him.
Then there wuz another picter in the English section called "The Passing of Arthur" that rousted up deep emotions.
I'd hearn Thomas J. read so much about Arthur, and that round extension table of hisen, that I seemed to be well acquainted with him and his mates.
I knew that he had a dretful hard time on't, what with his wife a-fallin' in love with another man—which is always hard to bear—and etcetry. And I always approved of his doin's.
He never tried to go West to git a divorce. No; he merely sez to her, when she knelt at his feet a-wantin' to make up with him, he sez, "Live so that in Heaven thou shalt be Arthur's true wife, and not another's."
I'll bet that shamed Genevere, and made her feel real bad.
And his death-bed always seemed dretful pathetic to me.
And here it wuz all painted out. The boat floatin' out on the pale golden green light, and Arthur a-layin' there with the three queens a-weepin' over him. A-floatin' on to the island valley of Avilion, "Where falls not hail nor rain, nor any snow."
And then there wuz a picter by Whistler, called "The Princess of the Land of Porcelain."
You couldn't really tell why that slender little figger in the long trailin' silken robes, and the deep dark eyes, and vivid red lips should take such a holt on you.
But she did, and that face peers out of Memory-aisles time and time agin, and you wake up a-thinkin' on her in the night.
Mr. Whistler must a been dretful interested himself in the Lady of the Land of Porcelain, or he couldn't have interested other folks so.
And then there wuz another by Mr. Whistler, called "The Lady of the Yellow Buskin."
A poem of glowin' color and life.
And right there nigh by wuz one by Mr. Chase, jest about as good. The name on't wuz "Alice."
I believe Alice Ben Bolt looked some like her when she wuz of the same age, you know—
"Sweet Alice, whose hair was so brown, Who wept with delight when Mr. Ben Bolt gin her a smile; And trembled with fear at Mr. Ben Boltses frown."
She ort to had more gumption than that; but I always liked her.
Elihu Vedder's picters rousted up deep emotions in my soul—jest about the deepest I have got, and the most mysterious and weird.
Other artists may paint the outside of things, but he goes deeper, and paints the emotions of the soul that are so deep that you don't hardly know yourself that you've got them of that variety.
In lookin' through these picters of hisen illustratin' that old Persian poem, "Omer Kyham"—
Why, I have had from eighty to a hundred emotions right along for half a day at a time.
Mr. Vedder had here "A Soul in Bondage," "The Young Marysus and Morning," and "Delila and Sampson," and several others remarkably impressive.
And Mr. Sargent's "Mother and Child" looked first-rate in its cool, soft colors. They put me in mind a good deal of Tirzah Ann and Babe.
And "The Delaware Valley" and "A Gray Lowery Day," by Mr. George Inness, impressed me wonderfully. Many a day like it have I passed through in Jonesville.
"Hard Times," also in a American department, wuz dretful impressive. A man and a woman wuz a-standin' in the hard, dusty road.
His face looked as though all the despair, and care, and perplexities of the hard times wuz depictered in it.
He wuz stalkin' along as if he had forgot everything but his trouble.
And I presoom that he'd had a dretful hard time on't—dretful. He couldn't git no work, mebby, and wuz obleeged to stand and see his family starve and suffer round him.
Yes, he wuz a-walkin' along with his hands in his empty pockets and his eyes bent towards the ground.
But the woman, though her face looked haggard, and fur wanner than hissen, yet she wuz a-lookin' back and reachin' out her arms towards the children that wuz a-comin' along fur back. One of 'em wuz a-cryin', I guess. His ma hadn't nothin' but love to give him, but you could see that she wuz a-givin' him that liberal.
And Durant's "Spanish Singing Girl" rousted up a sight of admiration; she wuz very good-lookin'—looked a good deal like my son's wife.
Well, in the Russian Department (and jest see how my revery flops about, clear from America to Russia at one jump)—
There wuz a picter there of a boat in a storm.
And on that boat is thrown a vivid ray of sunshine. You'd think that it wuz the real thing, and that you could warm your fingers at it, but it hain't—it is only painted sunshine. But it beats all I ever see; I wouldn't hesitate for a minute to use it for a noon-mark.
In the German Exhibit wuz as awful a picter as I want to see. It was Julia, old Mr. Serviuses girl—Miss Tarquin that now is—a-ridin' over her pa and killin' him a purpose, so she could git his property.
To see Miss Tarquin, that wicked, wicked creeter, a-doin' that wicked act, is enough to make a perfect race of old maids and bacheldors.
The idea of havin' a lot of children to take care on and then be rid over by 'em!
But I shall always believe that she wuz put up to it by the Tarquin boys. I never liked 'em—they wuzn't likely.
But the picter is a sight—dretful big and skairful.
And in that section is a beautiful picter by Fritz Uhele, whose figgers, folks say, are the best in the world.
"The Angels Appearing to the Shepherds."
Oh, what glowin' faces the angels had! You read in 'em what the shepherds did:
"Love, Good Will to Man."
There wuz some little picters there about six inches square, and marked:
"Little Picters for a Child's Album."
And Josiah sez to me, "I believe I'll buy one of 'em for Babe's album that I got her last Christmas."
Sez he, "I've got ten cents in change, but probable," sez he, "it won't be over eight cents."
Sez I, "Don't be too sanguine, Josiah Allen."
Sez he, "I am never sanguinary without good horse sense to back it up. They throwed in a chromo three feet square with the last calico dress you bought at Jonesville, and this hain't over five or six inches big."
"Wall," sez I, "buy it if you want to."
"Wall," sez he, "that's what I lay out to do, mom."
So he accosted a Columbus Guard that stood nigh, and sez he—
"I'm a-goin' to buy that little picter, and I want to know if I can take it home now in my vest pocket?"
"That picter," sez he, "is twenty thousand dollars. It is owned by the German National Gallery, and is loaned by them," and sez he, with a ready flow of knowledge inherent to them Guards, "the artist, Adolph Menzel, is to German art what Meissonier is to the French. His picters are all bought by the National Gallery, and bring enormous sums."
Josiah almost swooned away. Nothin' but pride kep him up—
I didn't say nothin' to add to his mortification. Only I simply said—
"Babe will prize that picter, Josiah Allen."
And he sez, "Be a fool if you want to; I'm a-goin' to git sunthin' to eat."
And he hurried me along at almost a dog-trot, but I would stop to look at a "Spring Day in Bavaria," and the "Fish Market in Amsterdam," and the "Nun," and some others, I would—they wuz all beautiful in the extreme.
Wall, after we come back into the gallery agin, the first picter we went to see wuz "Christ Before Pilate," by Mr. Muncaxey.
There He stood, the Man of Sorrows, with His tall figure full of patient dignity, and His face full of love, and pity, and anguish, all bent into a indescribable majesty and power.
His hands wuz bound, He stood there the centre of that sneering, murderous crowd of priests and pharisees. On every side of Him He would meet a look of hate and savage exultation in His misery.
And He, like a lamb before the shearers, wuz dumb, bearing patiently the sins and sorrows of a world.
The fate of a universe looked out of His deep, sweet eyes.
He could bear it all—the hate, all the ignominy, the cruel death drawin' so near—He could bear it all through love and pity—the highest heights love ever went, and the deepest pity.
Only one face out of that jeerin', evil crowd had a look of pity on't, and that wuz the one woman in the throng, and she held a child in her arms.
Mebby Love had taught her the secret of Grief.
Anyway, she looked as if she pitied Him and would have loosed His bonds if she could. It wuz a dretful impressive picter, one that touched the most sacred feelin's of the beholder.
There wuz a great fuss made over Alma Tadema's picter of "Crowning Bachus."
But I didn't approve on't.
The girls' figgers in it wuz very beautiful, with the wonderful floatin' hair of red gold crowned with roses.
But I wanted to tell them girls that after they got Mr. Bachus all crowned, he'd turn on 'em, and jest as like as not pull out hull handfuls of that golden hair, and kick at 'em, and act.
Mr. Bachus is a villain of the deepest dye. I felt jest like warnin' 'em.
I like Miss Tadema's picters enough sight better—pretty little girls playin' innocent games, and dreamin' sweet fancies By the Fireside.