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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 274, 21 February 1881
THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
THE CLOVERTOPS AT THE SEASIDE. Mr. Clovertop, of Missouri, Relates His Experience to the Member from Nodaway. Evenin’, Mister Barnaby. Evenin’, sir. Light an’ come in, won’t ye ? Miggles, git Mister Barnaby a cheer. Set ye down, sir. Powerful glad to see you; was afraid ye’d be gone back to Washin’ton afore we come home. Ye wouldn’t hardly a knowed Miggles, would ye ? She’s growed awful stylish sinst we been down to the seashore. An’ her mother, sir ? Well, I’m blest ef the old lady ain’t nigh as bad ns the daughter. The old man appears to be the only one in the lot that’s the same old fool that he always was, an’ is glad to get back to Nodaway county an’ the farm. Yes, sir, we summered down to the seashore. Miggles has just been wild to go for mor ’n three years back, an’ her mother has kept her agoin’. So along last July, airly in the month, things was lookin’ well about the place an’ luck had been weth me all last year, and so we packs up an’ went. Stayed around down east lhar a couple o’ menths or so. Well, no, sir, cain’t say as I ’njoyed it powerful much. Got into trouble fust thing. We went into one of these varnished cyars—sleepin’ cyars, so I gits up fur a drink. I was afraid of makin’ a mistake, as I’d heard of such things bein’ done, so I was partic’lar car’ful to notice our bunk when I left it; yaller and red striped curtains it hed, with black figgers and vines worked into ’em. That’s all right, thinks I,
and off I went. Bine by I started back to look fur my bunk. “ Hyar she is,” I says, lookin’ at the curtins, and in I bounces. An’ then I stood still, with one knee on the bunk. Sir, Mister Barnaby, they want nobody than My wife wan’t to be seen, and the bunk hadn’t a wrinkle in it. It ’peared like it was just made up. “ What in thunder,” I wondered, “ hes happened ?” I got out an’ looked at the curtins agin. That wur my bunk, sure, whar I’d left ma a sleepin’ not th’ee minits afore. Thar was the curtins with red an’ yallow stripes and black figgers an’ vines. I looked into the top bunk whar Miggles was, an’ kill me dead, sir, ef she wa’nt gone too 1 I declar I was fairly scart. An’ then I went on a little further down the cyar, an’ great day in the mornin’ 1 Mr. Barnaby, sir, I hope to die ef every last endurin’ bunk in that varnished cyar, more’n twenty on ’em altogether, didn’t hev exactly the same kind o’ curtains, red an’ yellow stripes with black figgers an’ vines runnin’ up an’ down into ’em ! Well, there wan’t nothin’ to do but to prospect fer it, and so down the row I went. Fust bunk I stuck my head into there was a feller snorin’ away two hundred and twenty mile an hour, and the whole bunk smellin’ so strong of whisky I’d like to had the jim-jams afore I could get out. “ That ain’t none o’ mine,” I says, an’ into the next bunk I dives, an’ a woman kicked me on the stommik an’ doubled me up clar acrost the car. “ Git out o’ this you old drunkard,” says she, an’ out I got. “ Thar’s a woman,” says I, “as kin take caie of herself,” and it made me kind o’ bashful about prospectin’ in the next claim. But they wasn’t no help fer it, and I parted the curtains and poked in my head, and dog gone my skin, Mister Barnaby, ef I didn’t look right strait down into a revolver, with a man siltin’ up in bed behind it.
“ I’ve been lookin’ fer you, my friend,” says he, cool as Christmas ; “ now you jump overboord afore I fill yer thievin’ skin weth lead,” says he.
Well, ’twan’t no kind o’ use argyin’ weth no sich a man’s that, so 1 backed out, and’ I tell you now I felt blamed streaked about locatin' the next claim. So I went along, an’ the next bunk I come to, fool like, I jest stuck my hand in thue the curtains, an’ was goin’ to feel around. Fust thing I done, I laid ray whole hand, flap an’ flat, on a woman’s face. Such a yell as she riz ! An’ didn’t she grab my hand an’ hold her holt ? And the next minil every body in that war standin’ around me, all swearin’ an’ hollerin’, “ Put him out ! ” “ Throw him off! ” and all the fellers whose bunks I’d peeked into givin’ me dead way, and the nigger porter, who wasn’t nowhere to be found when I needed him, boldin’ my shoulder and axin’ me what was up, an’ that woman grippin’ my hand like death and yellin’ like all possessed, and Higgles here in the top bunk, screechin’ nigh as loud as her mother. We see it all in a minit.
“ Great snakes ! ” I hollered, “go away from us, all on ye ! Dog rab my pictur, if it ain’t my wife ! ” “ Sartin it is,” says the porter. “ Who was ye expectin it to be, you old wretch ? ” yelled the woman that kicked me. Well, sir, Mister Barnaby, I didn’t know whether to admire or hate that woman. ' “Why, pa?” shrieked Higgles, and then she flops back into her bunk, gigglin’ and laffin’ like a young fool. “ Whair on airth hev ye ben ? ” says ma, in a yell of’stonishment. “ He’s ben in my berth ! ” hollered the man with the revolver. “And he tried to get in mine!” hollers the kicker, An’, Mister Barnaby, ef you could have seen ma’s face. But the porter, he laft, an’ scd it was all right, and tole me to get back into bed and stay thar, and the next time I wanted anything to holier fer him. But I couldn’t go to slep any more that night, fer ma wan’t half satisfied about it and talked and talked about it till nigh mornin.’ Well, we got down clar to Boston. It’s a powerful big place. All the time that we was thar, I didn’t see but one piece of ground big enough to put in any kind of a crop, and that was all put down in grass. ’Twasn’t more nor half cleared, either. I don’t suppose, Mr. Barnaby, thar’H be 300 bushels o corn raised in all Boston this year. We got on to a steamboat thar, and went down to Maine. Lemme tell you, Mister Barnaby, thecourthouse at Maryville ain’t a circumstance to that ar steamboat. Everything so white ye was afeared to touch it, an’ niggers to wait on ye every turn. We had supper right after we went on board, an’ ef we didn’t lay right into the fixin’s thar’s no snakes. I reckon we jest about tired two fellers clar out, carryin’ hot cakes. Then we went out an’ sot down an’ watched the waves rollin’ an’ tumblin’ around. Pleasant ? Oh, yes, Mister Barnaby, it was kind o’ pleasant, at fust.
Bime by, however, we sort o’ quit talkin’ an’ sot lookin’ straight ahead, oneasy like. Ma began to look awful. “ Ma,” I says, “ ain’t you feelin’ well ? What appears to be the matter with you?” Well, ma, she sayed she didn’t jest know. She didn’t feel well; she reckoned she’d better lay down for a while. An’ I'helped her to our room, an’ I swar to goodness I thought that woman was goin’ to die. Out I run agin. “ Miggles,” I sayed, “ you’ll hev to go an’ set weth your mother while I hunt up a doctor; she’s ” An’ jest then I looked at Miggles. Je-m7-zalem !”
Says I, “ Miggles, what ails ye ?” “ Pa,” she says —“ pa, I’se awful sick, I can’t hold my head up a minit longer; I don’t know what ails me.” Well, I holp her to the room where ma was, and before I could turn around to go for a doctor, Mr. Barnaby, sir, I hope to die hyar ef I didn’t catch it myself. “Oh dear, oh dear,” groans ma, “ I’m goin’ to die ; oh, I’m goin’ to die, I’m goin’ to die. It’s them pesky cow cumbers ! Oh dear, oh dear !” “Oh me, oh my,” wails poor Miggles, “ I’m dyin’, oh, I know I’m dyin’, I’m dyin’, I can’t live an hour ! Oh dear, oh dear. It’s the ice cream, pa,” she says. “ By George,” I hollered, “ I’m a dead man now, but I’ll lay out the man that killed me fust—l know what’s the matter !” An’ welh that I rushed out, or rether tumbled out of the room, and set up a yell for the captain. Everybody come runnin’ to me, an’ bime by a man all covered with gold tape and brass buttons wanted to know what was the metier. “ Matter enough 1” I yells. “ Pizen ! Rank pizen, thet’s what’s the matter ! I’m pizened right on this boat ! Me an’ my family has been pizened right at your table, an’ I want a doctor for ma an’ Miggles mighty quick !” Well, sir, Mister Barnaby, ef that man didn’t stand there an’ laugh at me. “ Oh, yes” he says, kind o’ soothin’ an’ unbelievin’ like, “ I guess ye ain’t pizened. let at the same table,” says he, “ an’ I ain’t a bit sick !” Well, somehow, his laffin riled me. “ Ye can’t fool me !” I roared ; “ ye can’t play no old man Bender on me ! I know pizen when I see it workin’ an’ I know a hull family, that hain’t spent two dollars for medicine in sixteen years, ain’t goin’ to be took deathly sick all at the same lime an’ in the same way less’n thar’s pizen in their viltles !”says I. “This ain’t no milk sick! Send me the doctor for ma an’ Miggles mighty quick,” says I; “ tell him to run every step of the way.” The captain he turned round, an’ as well as he could fer laffin, fer I could see he was nearly chokin’ with it, an’ told a man to go an’ ask Doctor Bolus to come here right away.
“ An’ tell him to fetch his stommik pump along!” I hollered after him; “ tell him to bring along his stommick pump ! The biggest and strongest one he’s got !” An’, sir, ef you’d a heered the passengers an’ that brute of a captain yell! They hollered an’ laft, an’ fell down on the sofys, an’ belt their sides an laft till I was mad enough to fight, on’y I couldn’t stand on my legs long enough to hit anybody. “ My good fellow,” says the captain, “ never mind that ; they won’t need any stomach pump,” says he ; “ they can get along very well without it,” he
says, aid then he breaks out latfin’, wuss’n any o’ the rest on ’em. Land ofjedgement, Mister Barnaby, sir, but I was howlin’ mad. I was that mad I nigh forgot how sick I was, and the madder I got, the wus they laffed. Uime by the doctor lie come an’ sayed we was only sea sick, an’ they warn’t no help fer us at all; we’d jest have to grin an bear it till it got th’ue weth us, he said, an’ that’s all the doctor done for us.
Well, we was all well enough in the mornin’, though I sw’ar I wouldn’t o’ give an acre, of goose paster for our lives any time thet night, an’ ef theys any difference between sea-sick an’ arsenic pisen, its on’y in the result, for either one of ’em is a thunderin’ sight wuss’ the other. But the captain was right about the stummik pump ; none of us seemed to need it very much. We went in bathin’, in the surf, of course. Miggles went in frequent, but ma an’ me, we got enough out of one surf bath to last us the rest of the summer. Ye see, Mr. Barnaby, there’s a great cable rope stretched from a post in the sand out to a buoy in the water, an’ ef ye can’t swim, ye holt on to that rope an’ stand still, an’ let the big waves, higher’n a rail fence, break over ye. Well we put on our bathin’ things, an’ w'ent down over the sand to the "water, weth more’n one thousand four hundred people gazin’ at us, an’ such Aggers as we was in them bathin’ toggery. Master Barnaby, I was ashamed of myself, when I see how we looked. I an’t been the same man sinst. When I come out of the water that day, I look to drink; me, that ain’t so much as tasted even a glass of beer in thirty-two years, an’ a leading member of a temperance society. I tuck to drink an’ tried to drown the recolection of what I looked like, an’ got bilin’ drunk afore I succeeded. Well, Miggles, she scolded because I went along lookin’ so sneakin’; and ma, she said I never did have no pride or style about me; an’ so I braced up an’ went along, lookin’ as bold as a sheep. When we got down nigh the water, ma, her nerves gives way, an’ she caught a holt of the rope, about five foot above high water mark, and belt on to it like it was a matter of life and death, an’ she squat down in the dry sand, whar the water couldn’t reach her at all, an’ thar she sot, an’ we couldn’t make her budge. Such a figger! She hed on a grey dress, not half long enough for her, with red stripes runnin’ round an’ round it, an’ a pair o’ grey trousers that looked like they had been made for the man in the moon an’ was a misfit, an’ no socks, an’ a pair of great flat straw shoes, an’ then she hed a oilskin cap on her head to keep her hair dry. An’ thar she was, squattin’ in the dry sand, holdin’ on to that rope as though she was goin’ to drown every minit, and no water within six feet of her. Miggles scolded an’ I coaxed, but she only jest sot thar an’ shook her head. Bime by I lost all patience an’ grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her down a little nigher the water, she a holdin’ back an’ kickin sand all the time. Purty soon thar came a wave that wet her feet an’ you should have heard that woman yell. “ Oh, ma,” said Miggles, “ everybody is laughin’ at us !” “ Hev some forchichude, ma,” I says, “ ye can’t drown’d here.” But every time a wave came dust enough to wet her feet, blamed ef that misguided woman wouldn’t rise and stand straight up an’ yell like a Cf manche injin. But we coaxed and rastled with her, and edged her down cluster an’ cluster to the low water mark, when all of a suddent, ker sworsh ! comes a a wave that buried the hull caboodle o us in a perfeck cyclone of sand, seaweed, an’ brine. Poor Miggles was stood straight up onto her head. I was landed high an’ dry up on the sand, a layin’ on my back in the shape of a letter X ; an’ ma ! Well, Mr. Barnaby, that woman belt on to the rope like grim death till that wave went back, an’ then she opened her mouth, blew out a gust of salt water, shook the sand out of her eyes, raised a war whoop that would jest ha’ made your hair stand on end, and let out acrost the sand for the bath-house, straddling along at a 2.40 gait an’ hollerin’ like all creation every jump. Mr. Barnaby, sir, I’ll never forget that awful, inhuman spectacle ef I live to be a thousand years old. I didn’t know whether to cry, ’r laff, ’r sw’ar. I follered along to the bath-house, an’ put my head in at the door. “ Ma,” I says—“ ma, thur’s no fool like a old fool, is there ?” An’ ma she jest lifted up an’ hit me such a swipe acrost the head with that soakin’ ridikulous bathin’ dress of hers, thet fer a minit I thought the end o’ the house had fallen in on me. Well, sir, Mr. Barnaby, we didn’t go into the surf no more, ma an’ me didn’t. We lolled around down thar mebbe six weeks longer, an’ got into a few more fool scrapes, an’ when we hit out for home at last it was like cornin’ to Paradise, an’ I don’t want to get outside of Nodaway county agin fur the next ten year.
THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 274, 21 February 1881
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