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His right name, — an' done fergot
What his sho'-nuff name is now —
An' don' matter none wohow !"

Yes, an' Ponchus he'ps Pa, too,
When our btitcherin's to do.
An' scalds hogs — an' says "Take care
'Bout it, er you'll set the hair!"

Yes, an' out in our back-yard
He he'ps 'Lindy rendur lard ;
An', wite in the fire there, he
Roast' a pig-tail wunst fer me. —

An' ist nen th'ole tavurn-bell
Rung, down town, an' he says "Well !-
Hear dat ! Lan' o' Canaan, Son,
Aint dat bell say 'Pig-tail done I'

— 'Pig-tail done!
Go call Son! —
Tell dat
Chile dat
Pig-tail done!' "



625



THE WOLF AT SUSAN'S DOOR

BY ANNE WARNER

"Well, Lucy has got Hiram !"

There was such a strong inflection of triumphant joy
in Miss Clegg's voice as she called the momentous news
to her friend that it would have been at once — and most
truthfully — surmised that the getting of Hiram had been
a more than slight labor.

Mrs. Lathrop was waiting by the fence, impatience
written with a wandering reflection all over the serenity
pf her every-day expression. Susan only waited to lay
aside her bonnet and mitts and then hastened to the fence
herself.

"Mrs. Lathrop, you never saw nor heard the like of
this weddin' day in all your own days to be or to come,
and I don't suppose there ever will be anything like it
again, for Lucy Dill didn't cut no figger in her own wed-
din' a-tall, — the whole thing was Gran'ma Mullins first,
last and forever hereafter. I tell you it looked once or
twice as if it wouldn't be a earthly possibility to marry
Hiram away from his mother, and now that it's all over
people can't do anything but say as after all Lucy ought
to consider herself very lucky as things turned out, for if
things hadn't turned out as they did turn out I don't be-
lieve anything on earth could have unhooked that son,
and I'm willin' to swear that anywhere to any one.

"Do you know, Mrs. Lathrop, that Gran'ma Mullins
was so bad off last night as they had to put a mustard
plaster onto her while Hiram went to see Lucy for the

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ANNE WARNER

last time, an' Mrs. Macy says as she never hear the beat
o' her memory, for she says she'll take her Bible path as
Gran'ma Mullins told her what Hiram said and done
every minute o' his life while he was gone to see Lucy
Dill. And she cried, too, and took on the whole time she
was talkin' an' said Heaven help her, for nobody else
could, an' she just knowed Lucy'd get tired o' Hiram's
story an' he can't be happy a whole day without he tells it,
an' she's most sure Lucy won't like his singin' 'Marchin'
Through Georgia' after the first month or two, an' it's the
only tune as Hiram has ever really took to, Mrs. Macy
says she soon found she couldn't do nothin' to stem the
tide except to drink tea an' listen, so she drank an' lis-
tened till Hiram come home about eleven. Oh, my, but
she says they had the time then! Gran'ma Mullins let
him in herself, and just as soon as he was in she bu'st
into floods of tears an' wouldn't let him loose under no
consideration. She says Hiram managed to get his back
to the wall for a brace 'cause Gran'ma Mullins nigh to
upset him every fresh time as Lucy come over her, an'
Mrs. Macy says she couldn't but wonder what the end
was goin' to be when, toward midnight, Hiram just lost
patience and dodged out under her arm and run up the
ladder to the roof-room an' they couldn't get him to
come down again. She says when Gran'ma Mullins real-
ized as he wouldn't come down she most went mad over
the notion of her only son's spendin' the Christmas Eve
to his own weddin' sleepin' on the floor o' the attic and
she wanted to poke the cot up to him but Mrs. Macy says
she drew the line at cot-pokin' when the cot was all she'd
have to sleep on herself, and in the end they poked quilts
up, an' pillows an' doughnuts an' cider an' blankets, an'
Hiram made a bed on the floor an' they all got to sleep
about three o'clock.

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THE WOLF AT SUSAN'S DOOR

"Well, Mrs. Lathrop, what do you think? What do
you think? They was so awful tired that none of 'em
woke till Mrs. Sperrit come at eleven next day to take
'em to the weddin'! Mrs. Macy says she hopes she'll be
put forward all her back-slidin's if she ever gets such a
start again. She says when she peeked out between the
blinds an' see Mrs. Sperrit's Sunday bonnet an' realized
her own state she nearly had a fit. Mrs. Sperrit had to
come in an' be explained to, an' the worst of it was as
Hiram couldn't be woke nohow. He'd pulled the ladder
up after him an' put the lid on the hole so's to feel safe,
an' there he was snug as a bug in a rug an' where no
human bein' could get at him. They hollered an' banged
doors an' sharpened the carvin' knife an' poured grease
on the stove an' did anything they could think of, but he
never budged. Mrs. Macy says she never was so close be-
side herself in all her life before, for Gran'ma Mullins
cried worse 'n ever each minute an' Hiram seemed like
the very dead couldn't wake him.

"They was all hoppin' around half crazy when Mr.
Sperrit come along on his way to the weddin' an' his wife
run out an' told him what was the matter an' he come
right in an' looked up at the matter. It didn't take long
for him to unsettle Hiram, Mrs. Macy says. He got a
sulphur candle an' tied it to a stick an' h'isted the lid with
another stick, an' in less 'n two minutes they could all
hear Hiram sneezin' an' comin' to. An' Mrs. Macy says
when they hollered what time it was she wishes the whole
town might have been there to see Hiram Mullins come
down to earth. Mr. Sperrit didn't hardly have time to
get out o' the way an' he didn't give his mother no show
for one single grab, — he just bounced into his room and
you could have heard him gettin' dressed on the far side
o' the far bridge.

I 628



ANNE WARNER

"O' course, us at Lucy's didn't know anythin* a-tall
about Mrs. Macy's troubles. We had our own, Heaven
help us, an' they was enough, for the very first thing of
all Mr. Dill caught his pocket on the corner of Mrs. Dill
an' come within a ace of pullin' her off her easel. That
would have been a pretty beginnin' to Lucy's weddin' day
if her father had smashed her mother to bits, I guess, but
it couldn't have made Lucy any worse; for I will say,
Mrs. Lathrop, as I never see no one in all my born life
act foolisher than Lucy Dill this day. First she'd laugh
an' then she'd cry an' then she'd lose suthin' as we'd got
to have to work with. An' when it come to dressin' her !
— well, if she'd known as Hiram was sleepin' a sleep as
next to knowed no wakin' she couldn't have put on more
things wrong side out an' hind side before! She wasn't
dressed till most every one was there an' I was gettin'
pretty anxious, for Hiram wasn't there neither, an' the
more fidgety people got the more they caught their cor-
ners on Mrs. Dill. I just saved her from Mr. Kimball,
an' Amelia saw her goin' as a result o' Judge Fitch an'
hardly had time for a jump. The minister himself was
beginnin' to cough when, all of a sudden, some one cried
as the Sperrits was there.

"Well, we all squeezed to the window, an' such a sight
you never saw. They was gettin' Gran'ma Mullins out
an' Hiram was tryin' to keep her from runnin' the color
of his cravat all down his shirt while she was sobbin'
*Hi-i-i-i-ram, Hi-i-i-i-i-ram,' in a voice as would wring
your very heart dry. They got her out an' got her in an'
got her upstairs, an' we all sat down an' begin to get ready
while Amelia played 'Lead, Kindly Light' and 'The Joy-
ous Farmer' alternate, 'cause she'd mislaid her Weddin'
March.

"Well, Mrs. Lathrop, you never knowed nothin' like

629



THE WOLF AT SUSAN'S DOOR

it ! — we waited, an' we waited, an' we waited, an' the
minister most coughed himself into consumption, an' Mrs.
Dill got caught on so often that Mr. Kimball told Ed to
stand back of her an' hold her to the easel every minute.
Amelia was just beginning over again for the seventeenth
time when at last we heard 'em bumpin' along downstairs.
Seems as all the delay come from Lucy's idea o' wantin'
to walk with her father an' have a weddin' procession,
instid o' her an' Hiram comin' in together like Christians
an' lettin' Mr. Dill hold Gran'ma Mullins up anywhere.
Polly says she never see such a time as they had of it;
she says fightin' wolves was layin' lambs beside the way
they talked. Hiram said frank an' open as the reason he
didn't want to walk in with his mother was he was sure
she wouldn't let him out to get married, but Lucy was
dead set on the procession idea. So in the end they done
it so, an' Gran'ma Mullins's sobs fairly shook the house
as they come through the dinin'-room door. Lucy was
first with her father an' they both had their heads turned
backward lookin' at Hiram an' his mother.

"Well, Mrs. Lathrop, it was certainly a sight worth
seein' ! The way that Gran'ma Mullins was glued on ! All
I can say is as octopuses has got their backs turned in
comparison to the way that Hiram seemed to be all
wrapped up in her. It looked like wild horses, not to
speak of Lucy Dill, wouldn't never be able to get him
loose enough to marry him. The minister was scared;
we was all scared. I never see a worse situation to be in.

"They come along through the back parlor, Lucy look-
in' back, Mr. Dill white as a sheet, an' Hiram walkin'
like a snow-plough as isn't sure how long it can keep on
makin' it. It seemed like a month as they was under way
before they finally got stopped in front o' the minister.
An' then come the time ! Hiram had to step beside Lucy

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ANNE WARNER

an' take her hand an' he couldn't ! We all just gasped.
There was Hiram tryin' to get loose and Mr. Dill tryin'
to help him. Gran'ma Mullins's tears dripped till you
could hear 'em, but she hung on to Hiram like he'd paid
for it. They worked like Trojan beavers, but as fast as
they'd get one side of him uncovered she'd take a fresh
wind-round. I tell you, we all just held our breath, and
I bet Lucy was sorry she persisted in havin' a procession
when she see the perspiration runnin' off her father an'
Hiram.

"Finally Polly got frightened and begun to cry, an' at
that the deacon put his arm around her an' give her a hug,
an' Gran'ma Mullins looked up just in time to see the
arm an' the hug. It seemed like it was the last hay in the
donkey, for she give a weak screech an' went right over
on Mr. Dill. She had such a grip on Hiram that if it
hadn't been for Lucy he'd have gone over, too, but Lucy
just hung on herself that time, an' Hiram was rescued
without nothin' worse than his hair mussed an' one sleeve
a little tore. Mr. Sperrit an' Mr. Jilkins carried Gran'ma
Mullins into the dinin'-room, an' I said to just leave her
fainted till after we'd got Hiram well an' truly married ;
so they did.

"I never see the minister rattle nothin' through like
that marriage-service. Every one was on whole papers
of pins an' needles, an' the minute it was over every one
just felt like sittin' right straight down.

"Mrs. Macy an' me went up an' watered Gran'ma Mul-
lins till we brought her to, and when she learned as it was
all done she picked up wonderful and felt as hungry as
any one, an' come downstairs an' kissed Lucy an' caught
a corner on Mrs. Dill just like she'd never been no trouble
to no one from first to last. I never seen such a sudden
change in all my life; it was like some miracle had come

631



THE WOLF AT SUSAN'S DOOR

out all over her and there wasn't no one there as wasn't
rejoiced to death over the change.

"We all went out in the dinin'-room and the sun shone
in and every one laughed over nothin' a-tall. Mrs, Sper-
rit pinned Hiram up from inside so his tear didn't show,
and Lucy and he set side by side and looked like no one
was ever goin' to ever be married again. Polly an' the
deacon set opposite and the minister an' his wife an' Mr.
Dill an' Gran'ma Mullins made up the table. The rest
stood around, and we was all as lively as words can tell.
The cake was one o' the handsomest as I ever see, two
pigeons peckin' a bell on top and Hiram an' Lucy runnin'
around below in pink. There was a dime inside an' a
ring, an' I got the dime, an' they must have forgot to put
in the ring for no one got it."

Susan paused and panted.

"It was — " commented Mrs. Lathrop, thoughtfully.

"Nice that I got the dime? — yes, I should say. There
certainly wasn't no one there as needed it worse, an', al-
though I'd never be one to call a dime a fortune, still it is
a dime, an' no one can't deny it the honor, no matter how
they feel. But, Mrs. Lathrop, what you'd ought to have
seen was Hiram and Lucy ready to go off. I bet no one
knows they're brides — I bet no one knows what they are,
— you never saw the like in all your worst dreams. Hiram
wore spectacles an' carpet-slippers an' that old umbrella
as Mr. Shores keeps at the store to keep from bein' stole,
and Lucy wore clothes she'd found in trunks an' her hair
in curl-papers, an' her cold-cream gloves. They certainly
was a sight, an' Gran'ma Mullins laughed as hard as any
one over them. Mr. Sperrit drove 'em to the train, an'
Hiram says he's goin' to spend two dollars a day right
along till he comes back ; so I guess Lucy '11 have a good
time for once in her life. An' Gran'ma Mullins walked

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ANNE WARNER

back with me an' not one word o' Hiram did she speak.
She was all Polly an' the deacon. She said it wa'n't in
reason as Polly could imagine him with hair, an' she said
she was thinkin' very seriously o' givin' her a piece o' his
hair as she's got, for a weddin' present. She said Polly
'd never know what he was like the night he give her that
hair. She said the moon was shinin' an' the frogs were
croakin', an' she kind o' choked ; she says she can't smell
a marsh to this day without seein' the deacon givin' her
that piece of hair. I cheered her up all I could — I told
her anyhow he couldn't give Polly a piece of his hair if he
died for it. She smiled a weak smile an' went on up to
Mrs. Brown's. Mrs. Brown asked her to stay with her a
day or two. Mrs. Brown has her faults, but nobody can't
deny as she's got a good heart, — in fact, sometimes I
think Mrs. Brown's good heart is about the worst fault
she's got. I've knowed it lead her to do very foolish
things time an' again — things as I thank my star I'd
never think o' doin' — not in this world."

Mrs. Lathrop shifted her elbows a little; Susan with-
drew at once from the fence.

"I must go in," she said, "to-morrow is goin' to be a
more 'n full day. There's Polly's weddin' an' then in the
evenin' Mr. Weskin is comin' up. You needn't look sur-
prised, Mrs. Lathrop, because I've thought the subject
over up an' down an' hind end foremost an' there ain't
nothin' left for me to do. I can't sell nothin' else an'
I've got to have money, so I'm goin' to let go of one of
those bonds as father left me. There ain't no way out of
it; I told Mr. Weskin I'd expect him at sharp eight on
sharp business an' he'll come. An' I must go as a conse-
quence. Good night."

Polly Allen's wedding took place the next day, and

^33



THE WOLF AT SUSAN'S DOOR

Mrs. Lathrop came out on her front piazza about half
past five to wait for her share in the event.

The sight of Mrs. Brown going- by with her head
bound up in a white cloth, accompanied by Gran'ma Mul-
lins with both hands similarly treated, was the first ink-
ling the stay-at-home had that strange doings had been
lately done.

Susan came next and Susan was a sight !

Not only did her ears stand up with a size and con-
spicuousness never inherited from either her father or her
mother, but also her right eye was completely closed and
she walked lame.

'The Lord have mercy!" cried Mrs. Lathrop, when the
full force of her friend's affliction effected its complete
entrance into her brain, — "Why, Susan, what — "

"Mrs. Lathrop," said Miss Clegg, "all I can say is I
come out better than the most of 'em, an' if you could see
Sam Duruy or Mr, Kimball or the minister you'd know
I spoke the truth. The deacon an' Polly is both in bed
an' can't see how each other looks, an' them as has a eye
is goin' to tend them as can't see at all, an' God help 'em
all if young Dr. Brown an' the mud run dry !" with which
pious ejaculation Susan painfully mounted the steps and
sat down with exceeding gentleness upon a chair.

Mrs. Lathrop stared at her in dumb and wholly be-
wildered amazement. After a while Miss Clegg con-
tinued.

"It was all the deacon's fault. Him an' Polly was so
dead set on bein' fashionable an' bein' a contrast to
Pliram an' Lucy, an' I hope to-night as they lay there all
puffed up as they'll reflect on their folly an' think a little
on how the rest of us as didn't care rhyme or reason for
folly is got no choice but to puff up, too. Mrs. Jilkins
is awful mad; she says Mr, Jilkins wanted to wear his

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ANNE WARNER

straw hat anyhow and, she says she always has hated his
silk hat 'cause it reminds her o' when she was young
and foolish enough to be willin' to go and marry into a
family as was foolish enough to marry into Deacon
White. Mrs. Jilkins is extra hot because she got one
in the neck, but my own idea is as Polly Allen's weddin'
was the silliest doin's as I ever see from the beginnin', an'
the end wan't no more than might o' been expected — all
things considered.

"When I got to the church, what do you think was the
first thing as I see, Mrs. Lathrop? Well, you'd never
guess till kingdom come, so I may as well tell you. It
was Ed an' Sam Duruy an' Henry Ward Beecher an'
Johnny standin' there waitin' to show us to our pews
like we didn't know our own pews after sittin' in 'em
for all our life-times ! I just shook my head an' walked
to my pew, an' there, if it wasn't looped shut with a
daisy-chain ! Well, Mrs. Lathrop, I wish you could have
been there to have felt for me, for I may remark as a
cyclone is a caterpillar wove up in hisself beside my face
when i see myself daisy-chained out o' my own pew by
Polly Allen. Ed was behind me an' he whispered That's
reserved for the family.' I give him one look an' I will
state, Mrs. Lathrop, as he wilted. It didn't take me long
to break that daisy-chain an' sit down in that pew, an' I
can assure you as no one asked me to get up again.
Mrs. Jilkins's cousins from Meadville come an' looked
at me sittin' there, but I give them jus' one look
back an' they went an' sat with Mrs. Macy them-
selves. A good many other folks was as surprised as
me over where they had to sit, but we soon had other sur-
prises as took the taste o' the first clean out o' our mouths.

"Just as Mrs. Davison begin to play the organ, Ed
an' Johnny come down with two clothes-lines wound

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THE WOLF AT SUSAN'S DOOR

'round with clematis an' tied us all in where we sat.
Then they went back an' we all stayed still an' couldn't
but wonder what under the sun was to be done to us
next. But we didn't have long to wait, an' I will say as
anythin' to beat Polly's ideas I never see — no — nor no
one else neither.

" 'Long down the aisle, two an' two, an' hand in hand,
like they thought they was suthin' pretty to look at,
come Ed an' Johnny an' Henry Ward Beecher an' Sam
Duruy, an' I vow an' declare, Mrs. Lathrop, I never was
so nigh to laughin' in church in all my life. They knowed
they was funny, too, an' their mouths an' eyes was tight
set sober, but some one in the back just had to giggle,
an' when we heard it we knew as things as wasn't much
any other day would use us up this day, sure. They
stopped in front an' lined up, two on a side, an' then, for
all the world like it was a machine-play, the little door
opened an' out come the minister an' solemnly walked
down to between them. I must say we was all more than
a little disappointed at its only bein' the minister, an'
he must have felt our feelin's, for he began to cough an'
clear up his throat an' his little desk all at once. Then
Mrs. Davison jerked out the loud stop an' began to play
for all she was worth, an' the door behind banged an'
every one turned aroun' to see.

"Well, Mrs. Lathrop, we saw, — an' I will in truth re-
mark as such a sawin' we'll never probably get a chance
to do again! Mrs. Sweet says they practised it over
four times at the church, so they can't deny as they meant
it all, an' you might lay me crossways an' cut me into
chipped beef an' still I would declare as I wouldn't have
the face to own to havin' had any hand in plannin' any
such weddin'.

"First come 'Liza Em'ly an' Rachel Rebecca hand in

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ANNE WARNER

hand carryin' daisies — of all things in the world to take
to a weddin' — an' then come Brunhilde Susan, with a
daisy-chain around her neck an' her belt stuck full o'
daisies an' — you can believe me or not, jus' as you please,
Mrs. Lathrop, an' still it won't help matters any — an'
a daisy stuck in every button down her back, an' daisies
tangled up in her hair, an' a bunch o' daisies under one
arm.

"Well, we was nigh to overcome by Brunhilde Susan,
but we drawed some fresh breath an' kept on lookin', an'
next come Polly an' Mr. Allen. I will say for Mr. Allen
as he seemed to feel the ridiculousness of it all, for a red-
der man I never see, nor one as looked more uncomforta-
ble. He was daisied, too — had three in his button-hole;
— but what took us all was the way him an' Polly
walked. I bet no people gettin' married ever zig-zagged
like that before, an' Mrs. Sweet says they practised it by
countin' two an' then swingin' out to one side, an' then
countin' two an' swingin' out to the other — she watched
'em out of her attic window down through the broke
blind to the church. Well, all I can say is, that to my or-
der o' thinkin' countin' an' swingin' is a pretty frame o'
mind to get a husband in, but so it was, an' we was all
starin' our eyes off to beat the band when the little door
opened an', to crown everythin' else, out come the deacon
an' Mr. Jilkins, each with a daisy an' a silk hat, an' I
will remark, Mrs. Lathrop, as new-born kittens is blood-
red murderers compared to how innocent that hat o'
Mr. Jilkins' looked. Any one could see as it wasn't new,
but he wasn't new either, as far as that goes, an' that was
what struck me in particular about the whole thing —
nothin' an' nobody wasn't any different only for Polly's
foolishness and the daisies.

"Well, they sorted out an' begun to get married, an'

637



THE WOLF AT SUSAN'S DOOR

us all sittin' lookin' on an' no more guessin' what was
comin' next than a ant looks for a mornin' paper. The
minister was gettin' most through an' the deacon was
gettin' out the ring, an' we was lookin' to get up an'
out pretty quick, when — my heavens alive, Mrs. Lathrop,
I never will forget that minute — when Mr. Jilkins — poor
man, he's sufferin' enough for it. Lord knows! — when
Mr. Jilkins dropped his hat !

"That very next second him an' Ed an' Brunhilde
Susan all hopped an' yelled at once, an' the next thing we
see was the minister droppin' his book an' grabbin' his
arm an' the deacon tryin' madly to do hisself up in Polly's
veil. We would 'a' all been glum petrified at such goin's
on any other day, only by that time the last one of us
was feelin' to hop and grab an' yell on his own account.
Gran'ma Mullins was tryin' to slap herself with the seat
cushion, an' the way the daisies flew as folks went over
an' under that clematis rope was a caution. I got out as
quick as I — "

"But what — " interrupted Mrs. Lathrop, her eyes
fairly marble-like in their redundant curiosity.

"It was wasps!" said Susan, "it was a young wasps'
nest in Mr, Jilkins's hat. Seems they carried their hats
to church in their hands 'cause Polly didn't want no red
rings around 'em, an' so he never suspected nothin' till
he dropped it. An' oh, poor little Brunhilde Susan in
them short skirts of hers — she might as well have wore
a bee hive as to be like she is now. I got off easy, an' you
can look at me an' figure on what them as got it hard has
got on them. Young Dr. Brown went right to work with
mud an' Polly's veil an' plastered 'em over as fast as they
could get into Mrs. Sweet's. Mrs. Sweet was mighty
obligin' an' turned two flower-beds inside out an' let
every one scoop with her kitchen spoons, besides run-

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ANNE WARNER

nin' aroun' herself like she was a slave gettin' paid.
They took the deacon an' Polly right to their own house.
They can't see one another anyhow, an' they was most
all married anyway, so it didn't seem worth while to wait
till the minister gets the use of his upper lip again."


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Online LibraryKate Milner RabbThe wit and humor of America (Volume 2) → online text (page 14 of 24)