The Project Gutenberg eBook, Samantha at the St. Louis Exposition, by Marietta Holley
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Title: Samantha at the St. Louis Exposition
Author: Marietta Holley
Release Date: May 19, 2004 [eBook #12386]
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK SAMANTHA AT THE ST. LOUIS EXPOSITION***
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SAMANTHA AT THE ST. LOUIS EXPOSITION
JOSIAH ALLEN'S WIFE (MARIETTA HOLLEY)
ILLUSTRATIONS BY CH. GRUNWALD
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
[Transcriber's note: These are the captioned halftone illustrations.
There are several other uncaptioned line drawings.]
He showed 'em in a careless way as much as fifteen dollars in cash
Josiah's good nater returnin' with every mouthful he took
It is the big crowd that is surgin' through the Pike to and fro, fro and to
"I hain't Theodore. I'm President of a Gas Company."
She laid her pretty head in my lap, sobbin' out, "What shall I do? What shall I do?"
Good land! I couldn't sort 'em out and describe them that passed by in an hour. Frontispiece
SAMANTHA AT THE ST. LOUIS EXPOSITION
I had noticed for some time that Josiah Allen had acted queer. He would seem lost in thought anon or oftener, and then seemin'ly roust himself up and try to act natural.
And anon he would drag his old tin chest out from under the back stairway and pour over musty old deeds and papers, drawed up by his great-grandpa mebby.
He did this last act so often that I said to him one day, "What under the sun do you find in them yeller old papers to attract you so, Josiah?"
But he looked queer at me, queer as a dog, as if he wuz lookin' through me to some distant view that interested him dretfully, and answered evasive, and mebby he wouldn't answer at all.
And then I'd see him and Uncle Sime Bentley, his particular chum, with their heads clost together, seemin'ly plottin' sunthin' or ruther, though what it wuz I couldn't imagine.
And then they would bend their heads eagerly over the daily papers, and more'n once Josiah got down our old Olney's Atlas and he and Uncle Sime would pour over it and whisper, though what it wuz about I couldn't imagine. And if I'd had the curosity of some wimmen it would drove me into a caniption fit.
And more'n a dozen times I see him and Uncle Sime down by the back paster on the creek pacin' to and fro as if they wuz measurin' land. And most of all they seemed to be measurin' off solemn like and important the lane from the creek lot up to the house and takin' measurements, as queer lookin' sights as I ever see, and then they would consult the papers and atlas agin, and whisper and act.
And about this time he begun to talk to me about the St. Louis Exposition. He opened the subject one day by remarkin' that he spozed I had never hearn of the Louisana Purchase. He said that the minds of females in their leisure hours bein' took up by more frivolous things, such as tattin' and crazy bed-quilts, he spozed that I, bein' a female woman, had never hearn on't.
And my mind bein' at that time took up in startin' the seams in a blue and white sock I wuz knittin' for him, didn't reply, and he went on and talked and talked about it.
But good land! I knowed all about the Louisana Purchase; I knowed it come into our hands in 1803, that immense tract of land, settlin' forever in our favor the war for supremacy on this continent between ourselves and England, and givin' us the broad highway of the Mississippi to sail to and fro on which had been denied us, besides the enormous future increase in our wealth and population.
I knowed that between 1700 and 1800 this tract wuz tossted back and forth between France and Spain and England some as if it wuz a immense atlas containing pictured earth and sea instead of the real land and water.
It passed backwards and forwards through the century till 1803 when it bein' at the time in the hands of France, we bought it of Napoleon Bonaparte who had got possession of it a few years before, and Heaven only knows what ambitious dreams of foundin' a new empire in a new France filled that powerful brain, under that queer three-cornered hat of hisen when he got it of Spain.
But 'tennyrate he sold it in 1803 to our country, the writin's bein' drawed up by Thomas Jefferson, namesake of our own Thomas Jefferson, Josiah's child by his first wife. Napoleon, or I spoze it would sound more respectful to call him Mr. Bonaparte, he wanted money bad, and he didn't want England to git ahead, and so he sold it to us.
He acted some as Miss Bobbett did when she sot up her niece, Mahala Hen, in dressmakin' for fear Miss Henzy's girl would git all the custom and git rich. She'd had words with Miss Henzy and wanted to bring down her pride. And we bein' some like Miss Hen in sperit (she had had trouble with Miss Henzy herself, and wuz dretful glad to have Mahala sot up), we wuz more'n willin' to buy it of Mr. Bonaparte. You know he didn't like England, he had had words with her, and almost come to hands and blows, and it did come to that twelve years afterwards.
But poor creeter! I never felt like makin' light of his reverses, for do not we, poor mortals! have to face our Waterloo some time durin' our lives, when we have fought the battle and lost, when the ground is covered with slain Hopes, Ambition, Happiness, when the music is stilled, the stringed instruments and drums broken to pieces, or givin' out only wailin' accompaniments to the groans and cries of the dyin' layin' low in the dust.
We marched onward in the mornin' mebby with flyin' colors towards
Victory, with gaily flutterin' banners and glorious music. Then come the
Inevitable to crush us, and though we might not be doomed to a desert
island in body, yet our souls dwell there for quite a spell.
Till mebby we learn to pick up what is left of value on the lost field, try to mend the old instruments that never sound as they did before. Sew with tremblin' fingers the rents in the old tattered banners which Hope never carries agin with so high a head, and fall into the ranks and march forward with slower, more weary steps and our sad eyes bent toward the settin' sun.
But to stop eppisodin' and resoom. I had hearn all about how it wuz bought and how like every new discovery, or man or woman worth while, the Purchase had to meet opposition and ridicule, though some prophetic souls, like Thomas Jefferson, Mr. Livingstone and others, seemed to look forward through the mists of the future and see fertile fields and stately cities filled with crowds of prosperous citizens, where wuz then almost impassable swamps and forests inhabited by whoopin' savages.
And Mr. Bonaparte himself, let us not forgit in this proud year of fulfilled hopes and achievement and progress how he always seemed to set store by us and his words wuz prophetic of our