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waters, in which she perished.-Long's Expedition to the Source of She Peter's River.
Down a broad river of the western wilds,
Wafting a wild proud strain, her song of death :
HALF-LENGTHS FROM LIFE-OPERATIVE DEMOCRACY.-MRS. KIRKLAND.
“A theme of perilous risk
“Can't you let our folks have some eggs?" said Daniel Web. ster Larkins, opening the door, and putting in a little strawcolored head and a pair of very mild blue eyes just far enough to reconnoitre; “can't you let our folks have some eggs? Our old hen don't lay nothing but chickens now, and mother can't eat pork, and she a’n't had no breakfast, and the baby a'n't drest, nor nothin'!"
“What is the matter, Webster? Where's your girl ?
“Oh! we ha’n't no girl but father, and he's had to go 'way to-day to a raisin'—and mother wants to know if you
can't tell her where to get a girl ?"
Poor Mrs. Larkins ! Her husband makes but an indifferent "girl," being a remarkable public-spirited person. The good lady is in very delicate health, and having an incredible number of little blue eyes constantly making fresh demands upon her time and strength, she usually keeps a girl when she can get
When she cannot, which is unfortunately the larger part of the time, her husband dresses the children-mixes stir-cakes for the eldest blue eyes to bake on a griddle, which is never at rest-milks the cow_feeds the pigs—and then goes to his “ business," which we have supposed to consist principally in helping at raisings, wood-bees, huskings, and such like important affairs; and “ girl” hunting—the most important and arduous, and profitless of all.
Yet it must be owned that Mr. Larkins is a tolerable carpenter, and that he buys as many comforts for his family as most of his neighbors. The main difficulty seems to be that “help” is not often purchasable. The very small portion of our damsels who will consent to enter anybody's doors for pay, makes the chase after them quite interesting from its uncertainty; and the damsels themselves, subject to a well known foible of their sex, become very coy from being over-courted. Such racing and chasing, and begging and praying, to get a girl for a month! They are often got for life with half the trouble. But to return.
Having an esteem for Mrs. Larkins, and a sincere experimental pity for the forlorn condition of “no girl but father," I set out at once to try if female tact and perseverance might not prove effectual in ferreting out a “help,” though mere induștry had not succeeded. For this purpose I made a list in my mind of those neighbors, in the first place, whose daughters sometimes condescended to be girls; and, secondly, of the few who were enabled by good luck, good management, and good pay, to keep them. If I failed in my attempts upon one class, I hoped for some new lights from the other. When the object is of such importance, it is well to string one's bow double.
In the first category stood Mrs. Lowndes, whose forlorn loghouse had never known door or window; a blanket supplying the place of the one, and the other being represented by a crevice between the logs. Lifting the sooty curtain with some timidity, I found the dame with a sort of reel before her, trying to wind some dirty, tangled yarn; and ever and anon kicking at a basket which hung suspended from the beam overhead by means of a strip of hickory bark. This basket contained a nest of rags and an indescribable baby; and in the ashes on the rough hearth played several dingy objects, which I suppose had once been babies.
Is your daughter at home now, Mrs. Lowndes ?'' “Well yes ! M'randy's to hum, but she's out now. want her ?"
"I came to see if she could go to Mrs. Larkins, who is very unwell, and sadly in want of help.”
“Miss Larkins! why, do tell! I want to know! Is she sick agin? and is her gal gone? Why! I want to know! I thought she had Lo-i-sy Paddon! Is Lo-i-sy gone?"
“I suppose so. You will let Miranda go to Mrs. Larkins, will
“Well, I donnow but I would let her go for a spell, just to 'commodate 'em. M’randy may go if she's a mind ter. She needn't live out unless she chooses. She's got a comfortable home, and no thanks to nobody. What wages do they give !"
" A dollar a week.”
“Why no-I believe not the whole of Sunday--the children you know
“Oh ho!" interrupted Mrs. Lowndes, with a most disdainful
toss of the head, giving at the same time a vigorous impulse to the cradle, “ if that's how it is, M'randy don't stir a step! She don't live nowhere if she can't come home Saturday night and stay till Monday morning.”
I took my leave without farther parley, having often found this point the sine qua non in such negotiations.
My next effort was at a pretty-looking cottage, whose overhanging roof and neat outer arrangements, spoke of English ownership. The interior by no means corresponded with the exterior aspect, being even more bare than usual, and far from neat. The presiding power was a prodigious creature, who looked like a man in woman's clothes, and whose blazing face, ornamented here and there by great hair moles, spoke very intelligently of the beer-barrel, if of nothing more exciting. A daughter of this virago had once lived in my family, and the mother met me with an air of defiance, as if she thought I had come with an accusation. When I unfolded my errand, her abord softened a little, but she scornfully rejected the idea of her Lucy living with any more Yankees.
“ You pretend to think everybody alike,” said she, when it comes to the pint, you're a sight more uppish and saucy than the ra'al quality at home; and I'll see the whole Yankee race to
I made my exit without waiting for the conclusion of this complimentary observation; and the less reluctantly for having observed on the table the lower part of one of my silver teaspoons, the top of which had been violently wrenched off. This spoon was a well-remembered loss during Lucy's administration, and I knew that Mrs. Larkins had none to spare.
Unsuccessful thus far among the arbiters of our destiny, I thought I would stop at the house of a friend, and make some inquiries which might spare me farther rebuffs. On making my way by the garden gate to the little library where I usually saw Mrs. Stayner, I was surprised to find it silent and uninhabited. The windows were closed; a half-finished cap lay on the sofa, and a bunch of yesterday's wild-flowers upon the table. All spoke of desolation. The cradle--not exactly an appropriate adjunct of a library scene elsewhere, but quite so at the West—was gone, and the little rocking-chair was nowhere to
I went on through parlor and hall, finding no sign of life, save the breakfast-table still standing with crumbs undisturbed. Where bells are not known ceremony is out of the question; so I penetrated even to the kitchen, where at length I caught sight of the fair face of my friend. She was bending over the bread-tray, and at the same time telling nursery-stories as fast as possible, by way of coaxing her little boy of four years old to rock the cradle which contained his baby sister.
" What does this mean?”
“Oh! nothing more than usual. My Polly took herself off yesterday without a moment's warning, saying she thought she had lived out about long enough; and poor Tom, our factotum, has the agne. Mr. Stayner has gone to some place sixteen miles off, where he was told he might hear of a girl, and I am sole representative of the family energies. But you've no idea what capital bread I can make.
This looked rather discouraging for my quest; but knowing that the main point of table-companionship was the source of most of Mrs. Stayner's difficulties, I still hoped for Mrs. Larkins, who loved the closest intimacy with her " help," and always took them visiting with her. So I passed on for another effort at-Mrs. Randall's, whose three daughters had sometimes been known to lay aside their dignity long enough to obtain some much-coveted article of dress. Here the mop was in full play; and Mrs. Randall, with her gown turned up, was splashing diluted mud on the walls and furniture, in the received mode of those regions, where “stained-glass windows” are made without a patent. I did not venture in, but asked from the door with my best diplomacy, whether Mrs. Randall knew of a girl.
“A gal! no; who wants a gal ?"
“ Law sakes! too feeble! she'd be able as anybody to thrash round, if her old man didn't spile her by waitin' on
We think Mrs. Larkın deserves small blame on this score.
“ But, Mrs. Randall, the poor woman is really ill and unable to do anything for her children. Couldn't you spare Rachel for a few days to help her ?"
This was said in a most guarded and deprecatory tone, and with a manner carefully moulded between indifference and undue solicitude.
“My gals has got enough to do. They a’n't able to do their own work.
Cur’line hasn't been worth the fust red cent for hard work erer since she went to school to A--"
“Oh! I did not expect to get Caroline. I understand she is going to get married."