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“Well, Sally, I’m in fault, and I acknowledge it; I’ve been remiss; but I won’t let to-morrow go by without stopping up them holes.” “Well, Sally, it’s my fault, and I admit it. I’ve been slacking off, but I won’t let tomorrow go by without plugging up those holes.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t hurry; next year ’ll do. Matilda Angelina Araminta PHELPS!” “Oh, no need to hurry. Next year will be just fine. Matlida Angelina Araminta PHELPS!”
Whack comes the thimble, and the child snatches her claws out of the sugar-bowl without fooling around any. Just then the nigger woman steps on to the passage, and says: Sally hit the child with her thimble, and the kid pulled back her hands out of the sugar bowl right away. Just then a n----- woman stepped into the doorway and said:
“Missus, dey’s a sheet gone.” “Mrs., there’s a sheet missing.”
“A SHEET gone! Well, for the land’s sake!” “A SHEET missing! Well for heaven’s sake!”
“I’ll stop up them holes to-day,” says Uncle Silas, looking sorrowful. “I’ll plug up those holes today,” said Silas, looking glum.
“Oh, DO shet up!—s’pose the rats took the SHEET? WHERE’S it gone, Lize?” “Oh, SHUT UP! Imagine that—the rats took a sheet! Where did it go, Lize?”
“Clah to goodness I hain’t no notion, Miss’ Sally. She wuz on de clo’sline yistiddy, but she done gone: she ain’ dah no mo’ now.” “Goodness, I don’t know, Miss Sally. It was on the clothesline yesterday, but it’s gone now. It isn’t there anymore.”
“I reckon the world IS coming to an end. I NEVER see the beat of it in all my born days. A shirt, and a sheet, and a spoon, and six can—” “I suppose the world IS coming to an end. I’ve never seen anything like it in all my life. A shirt, a sheet, a spoon, six candles….”
“Missus,” comes a young yaller wench, “dey’s a brass cannelstick miss’n.” “Mrs.,” said a younger n-----, “there’s a brass candlestick missing.”
“Cler out from here, you hussy, er I’ll take a skillet to ye!” “Get out of here, little missy, or I’ll smack you with a skillet!”
Well, she was just a-biling. I begun to lay for a chance; I reckoned I would sneak out and go for the woods till the weather moderated. She kept a-raging right along, running her insurrection all by herself, and everybody else mighty meek and quiet; and at last Uncle Silas, looking kind of foolish, fishes up that spoon out of his pocket. She stopped, with her mouth open and her hands up; and as for me, I wished I was in Jeruslem or somewheres. But not long, because she says: Aunt Sally was boiling mad. I began to look for an opportunity—I figured I could sneak off into the woods until she cooled down a bit. She kept right on fuming and shouting while everyone just sat there meekly and quietly. At last Uncle Silas, looking kind of foolish, pulled a spoon out of his pocket. Aunt Sally stopped with her mouth open and her hands up. As for me, I wished I were in Jerusalem or somewhere else far away. But not for long because she said:
“It’s JUST as I expected. So you had it in your pocket all the time; and like as not you’ve got the other things there, too. How’d it get there?” “It’s JUST as I suspected—you’ve had it in your pocket all this time! And you’ve got other things in there too, I bet. How did it get in there?”
“I reely don’t know, Sally,” he says, kind of apologizing, “or you know I would tell. I was a-studying over my text in Acts Seventeen before breakfast, and I reckon I put it in there, not noticing, meaning to put my Testament in, and it must be so, because my Testament ain’t in; but I’ll go and see; and if the Testament is where I had it, I’ll know I didn’t put it in, and that will show that I laid the Testament down and took up the spoon, and—” “I really don’t know, Sally, or you know I’d tell you,” he said apologetically. “I was studying Acts Chapter 17 before breakfast, and I guess I accidentally put it there instead of my Testament. That’s got to be what happened, because my Testament isn’t in my pocket. I’ll go and check. If the Testament is where I had it, I’ll know I didn’t put it in my pocket, which means I absentmindedly put the spoon in my pocket instead of the book….”
“Oh, for the land’s sake! Give a body a rest! Go ’long now, the whole kit and biling of ye; and don’t come nigh me again till I’ve got back my peace of mind.” “Oh for heaven’s sake! Give it a rest! Go along now, all of you. Don’t come near me again until my peace of mind has been restored.”
I’d a heard her if she’d a said it to herself, let alone speaking it out; and I’d a got up and obeyed her if I’d a been dead. As we was passing through the setting-room the old man he took up his hat, and the shingle-nail fell out on the floor, and he just merely picked it up and laid it on the mantel-shelf, and never said nothing, and went out. Tom see him do it, and remembered about the spoon, and says: I would have heard what she said even if she said it only to herself. I got up and left as if I were dead. The old man picked up his hat as we passed through the sitting room. A shingle-nail fell out of it and onto the floor. He just picked it up, laid it on the mantle of the fireplace, and went outside without saying a word. Tom saw him do it, remembered the spoon, and said:
“Well, it ain’t no use to send things by HIM no more, he ain’t reliable.” Then he says: “But he done us a good turn with the spoon, anyway, without knowing it, and so we’ll go and do him one without HIM knowing it—stop up his rat-holes.” “Well, it isn’t any use trying to use HIM to send things—he isn’t reliable. Still, he did us a favor without realizing it by blaming himself for the disappareance of the spoon. We should go and do HIM a favor without him knowing it by plugging up those rat holes.”
There was a noble good lot of them down cellar, and it took us a whole hour, but we done the job tight and good and shipshape. Then we heard steps on the stairs, and blowed out our light and hid; and here comes the old man, with a candle in one hand and a bundle of stuff in t’other, looking as absent-minded as year before last. He went a mooning around, first to one rat-hole and then another, till he’d been to them all. Then he stood about five minutes, picking tallow-drip off of his candle and thinking. Then he turns off slow and dreamy towards the stairs, saying: There were an awful lot of rat holes down in the cellar. It took us a whole hour to fill them up. But we did the job and we did it well. We heard steps on the stairs, so we blew out our light and hid. The old man came down with a candle in one hand and a bundle of stuff in the other. He looked absent-minded, like he in a fog. He poked around, first to one rat hole and then to another until he’d visited them all. Then he just stood there for about five minutes, picking the tallow drippings from his candle and thinking. Then he turned slowly went toward the stairs, saying:
“Well, for the life of me I can’t remember when I done it. I could show her now that I warn’t to blame on account of the rats. But never mind—let it go. I reckon it wouldn’t do no good.” “I can’t for the life of me remember when I filled them up. Well, now I can show her that none of this stuff about the rats was my fault. Oh, never mind—I’ll just let it go. It wouldn’t do any good anyway.”