Of course he does not expect to escape what he needs so greatly the
discipline of severe criticism; for he is aware that he has often wandered
out of the beaten track and has many times been too regardless of the
established rules of rhythm in his (oftentimes vain) search for the
flowers of poesy.
But he believes that The People are after all the true critics and will
soon ascertain whether there are more good than poor things in a book; and
whatever may be their verdict in this case he has made up his mind to be
_Betsey and I Are Out.
How Betsey and I Made Up.
Gone with a Handsomer Man.
Out of the Old House Nancy.
Over the Hill to the Poor-House.
Over the Hill from the Poor-House.
Tom was Goin' for a Poet.
Goin' Home To-Day.
Out o' the Fire._
_The New Church Organ.
The Editor's Guests.
The House where We were Wed.
Our Army of the Dead.
One and Two.
The Fading Flower.
Up the Line.
How we Kept the Day._
_"Draw up the Papers Lawyer and make 'em good and stout"
"Give us your Hand Mr. Lawyer: How do you do To-day?"
"And just as I turned a Hill-top I see the Kitchen Light"
"And intently readin' a Newspaper a-holdin' it wrong side up"
"And Kissed me for the first Time in over Twenty Years"
"My Betsey rose politely and showed her out-of-doors"
"Curse her! curse her! say I; she'll some Time rue this Day"
"Why John what a Litter here! you've thrown Things all around!"
"'Tis a hairy sort of Night for a Man to face and fight"
"When you walked with her on Sunday looking sober straight and clean"
"And you lie there quite resigned Whisky deaf and Whisky blind"
"And bid the Old House good-bye"
"Settlers come to see that Show a half a dozen Miles"
"Right in there the Preacher with Bible and Hymn-book stood"
"Over the Hill to the Poor-House I'm trudgin' my weary Way"
"Till at last he went a-courtin' and brought a Wife from Town"
"Many a Night I've watched You when only God was nigh"
"Who sat with him long at his Table and explained to him where he stood"_
BETSEY AND I ARE OUT.
Draw up the papers lawyer and make 'em good and stout;
For things at home are crossways and Betsey and I are out.
We who have worked together so long as man and wife
Must pull in single harness for the rest of our nat'ral life.
"What is the matter?" say you. I swan it's hard to tell!
Most of the years behind us we've passed by very well;
I have no other woman she has no other man--
Only we've lived together as long as we ever can.
So I have talked with Betsey and Betsey has talked with me
And so we've agreed together that we can't never agree;
Not that we've catched each other in any terrible crime;
We've been a-gathering this for years a little at a time.
There was a stock of temper we both had for a start
Although we never suspected 'twould take us two apart;
I had my various failings bred in the flesh and bone;
And Betsey like all good women had a temper of her own.
The first thing I remember whereon we disagreed
Was something concerning heaven--a difference in our creed;
We arg'ed the thing at breakfast we arg'ed the thing at tea
And the more we arg'ed the question the more we didn't agree.
And the next that I remember was when we lost a cow;
She had kicked the bucket for certain the question was only--How?
I held my own opinion and Betsey another had;
And when we were done a-talkin' we both of us was mad.
And the next that I remember it started in a joke;
But full for a week it lasted and neither of us spoke.
And the next was when I scolded because she broke a bowl;
And she said I was mean and stingy and hadn't any soul.
And so that bowl kept pourin' dissensions in our cup;
And so that blamed cow-critter was always a-comin' up;
And so that heaven we arg'ed no nearer to us got
But it gave us a taste of somethin' a thousand times as hot.
And so the thing kept workin' and all the self-same way;
Always somethin' to arg'e and somethin' sharp to say;
And down on us came the neighbors a couple dozen strong
And lent their kindest sarvice for to help the thing along.
And there has been days together--and many a weary week--
We was both of us cross and spunky and both too proud to speak;
And I have been thinkin' and thinkin' the whole of the winter and fall
If I can't live kind with a woman why then I won't at all.
And so I have talked with Betsey and Betsey has talked with me
And we have agreed together that we can't never agree;
And what is hers shall be hers and what is mine shall be mine;
And I'll put it in the agreement and take it to her to sign.
Write on the paper lawyer--the very first paragraph--
Of all the farm and live-stock that she shall have her half;
For she has helped to earn it through many a weary day
And it's nothing more than justice that Betsey has her pay.
Give her the house and homestead--a man can thrive and roam;
But women are skeery critters unless they have a home;
And I have always determined and never failed to say
That Betsey never should want a home if I was taken away.
There is a little hard money that's drawin' tol'rable pay:
A couple of hundred dollars laid by for a rainy day;
Safe in the hands of good men and easy to get at;
Put in another clause there and give her half of that.
Yes I see you smile Sir at my givin' her so much;
Yes divorce is cheap Sir but I take no stock in such!
True and fair I married her when she was blithe and young;
And Betsey was al'ays good to me exceptin' with her tongue.
[ image not found: CarleFarmB-19 CarleFarmB-19 ]
Once when I was young as you and not so smart perhaps
For me she mittened a lawyer and several other chaps;
And all of them was flustered and fairly taken down
And I for a time was counted the luckiest man in town.
Once when I had a fever--I won't forget it soon--
I was hot as a basted turkey and crazy as a loon;
Never an hour went by me when she was out of sight--
She nursed me true and tender and stuck to me day and night.
And if ever a house was tidy and ever a kitchen clean
Her house and kitchen was tidy as any I ever seen;
And I don't complain of Betsey or any of her acts
Exceptin' when we've quarreled and told each other facts.
So draw up the paper lawyer and I'll go home to-night
And read the agreement to her and see if it's all right;
And then in the mornin' I'll sell to a tradin' man I know
And kiss the child that was left to us and out in the world I'll go.
And one thing put in the paper that first to me didn't occur:
That when I am dead at last she'll bring me back to her;
And lay me under the maples I planted years ago
When she and I was happy before we quarreled so.
And when she dies I wish that she would be laid by me
And lyin' together in silence perhaps we will agree;
And if ever we meet in heaven I wouldn't think it queer
If we loved each other the better because we quarreled here.
HOW BETSEY AND I MADE UP.
GIVE us your hand Mr. Lawyer: how do you do to-day?
"GIVE US YOUR HAND MR. LAWYER: HOW DO YOU DO TO-DAY?"
You drew up that paper--I s'pose you want your pay.
Don't cut down your figures; make it an X or a V;
For that 'ere written agreement was just the makin' of me.
Goin' home that evenin' I tell you I was blue
Thinkin' of all my troubles and what I was goin' to do;
And if my hosses hadn't been the steadiest team alive
They'd 've tipped me over certain for I couldn't see where to drive.
No--for I was laborin' under a heavy load;
No--for I was travelin' an entirely different road;
For I was a-tracin' over the path of our lives ag'in
And seein' where we missed the way and where we might have been.
And many a corner we'd turned that just to a quarrel led
When I ought to 've held my temper and driven straight ahead;
And the more I thought it over the more these memories came
And the more I struck the opinion that I was the most to blame.
And things I had long forgotten kept risin' in my mind
Of little matters betwixt us where Betsey was good and kind;
And these things flashed all through me as you know things
When a feller's alone in the darkness and every thing is still.
"But" says I "we're too far along to take another track
And when I put my hand to the plow I do not oft turn back;
And 'tain't an uncommon thing now for couples to smash in two;"
And so I set my teeth together and vowed I'd see it through.
When I come in sight o' the house 'twas some'at in the night
And just as I turned a hill-top I see the kitchen light;
"AND JUST AS I TURNED A HILL-TOP I SEE THE KITCHEN LIGHT."
Which often a han'some pictur' to a hungry person makes
But it don't interest a feller much that's goin' to pull up stakes.
And when I went in the house the table was set for me--
As good a supper's I ever saw or ever want to see;
And I crammed the agreement down my pocket as well as I could
And fell to eatin' my victuals which somehow didn't taste good.
And Betsey she pretended to look about the house
But she watched my side coat pocket like a cat would watch a mouse:
And then she went to foolin' a little with her cup
And intently readin' a newspaper a-holdin' it wrong side up.
"AND INTENTLY READIN' A NEWSPAPER A-HOLDIN' IT WRONG SIDE UP."
And when I'd done my supper I drawed the agreement out
And give it to her without a word for she knowed what 'twas about;
And then I hummed a little tune but now and then a note
Was bu'sted by some animal that hopped up in my throat.
Then Betsey she got her specs from off the mantel-shelf
And read the article over quite softly to herself;
Read it by little and little for her eyes is gettin' old
And lawyers' writin' ain't no print especially when it's cold.
And after she'd read a little she give my arm a touch
And kindly said she was afraid I was 'lowin' her too much;
But when she was through she went for me her face a-streamin' with tears
And kissed me for the first time in over twenty years!
"AND KISSED ME FOR THE FIRST TIME IN OVER TWENTY YEARS!"
I don't know what you'll think Sir--I didn't come to inquire--
But I picked up that agreement and stuffed it in the fire;
And I told her we'd bury the hatchet alongside of the cow;
And we struck an agreement never to have another row.
And I told her in the future I wouldn't speak cross or rash
If half the crockery in the house was broken all to smash;
And she said in regards to heaven we'd try and learn its worth
By startin' a branch establishment and runnin' it here on earth.
And so we sat a-talkin' three-quarters of the night
And opened our hearts to each other until they both grew light;
And the days when I was winnin' her away from so many men
Was nothin' to that evenin' I courted her over again.
Next mornin' an ancient virgin took pains to call on us
Her lamp all trimmed and a-burnin' to kindle another fuss;
But when she went to pryin' and openin' of old sores
My Betsey rose politely and showed her out-of-doors.
"MY BETSEY ROSE POLITELY AND SHOWED HER OUT-OF-DOORS."
Since then I don't deny but there's been a word or two;
But we've got our eyes wide open and know just what to do:
When one speaks cross the other just meets it with a laugh
And the first one's ready to give up considerable more than half.
Maybe you'll think me soft Sir a-talkin' in this style
But somehow it does me lots of good to tell it once in a while;
And I do it for a compliment--'tis so that you can see
That that there written agreement of yours was just the makin' of me.
So make out your bill Mr. Lawyer: don't stop short of an X;
Make it more if you want to for I have got the checks.
I'm richer than a National Bank with all its treasures told
For I've got a wife at home now that's worth her weight in gold.
GONE WITH A HANDSOMER MAN.
I'VE worked in the field all day a-plowin' the "stony streak;"
I've scolded my team till I'm hoarse; I've tramped till my legs are weak;
I've choked a dozen swears (so's not to tell Jane fibs)
When the plow-p'int struck a stone and the handles punched my ribs.
I've put my team in the barn and rubbed their sweaty coats;
I've fed 'em a heap of hay and half a bushel of oats;
And to see the way they eat makes me like eatin' feel
And Jane won't say to-night that I don't make out a meal.
Well said! the door is locked! but here she's left the key
Under the step in a place known only to her and me;
I wonder who's dyin' or dead that she's hustled off pell-mell:
But here on the table's a note and probably this will tell.
Good God! my wife is gone! my wife is gone astray!
The letter it says "Good-bye for I'm a-going away;
I've lived with you six months John and so far I've been true;
But I'm going away to-day with a handsomer man than you."
A han'somer man than me! Why that ain't much to say;
There's han'somer men than me go past here every day.
There's han'somer men than me--I ain't of the han'some kind;
But a lovin'er man than I was I guess she'll never find.
Curse her! curse her! I say and give my curses wings!
May the words of love I've spoke be changed to scorpion stings!
Oh she filled my heart with joy she emptied my heart of doubt
And now with a scratch of a pen she lets my heart's blood out!
Curse her! curse her! say I; she'll some time rue this day;
"CURSE HER! CURSE HER! SAY I; SHE'LL SOME TIME RUE THIS DAY!"
She'll some time learn that hate is a game that two can play;
And long before she dies she'll grieve she ever was born;
And I'll plow her grave with hate and seed it down to scorn!
As sure as the world goes on there'll come a time when she
Will read the devilish heart of that han'somer man than me;
And there'll be a time when he will find as others do
That she who is false to one can be the same with two.
And when her face grows pale and when her eyes grow dim
And when he is tired of her and she is tired of him
She'll do what she ought to have done and coolly count the cost;
And then she'll see things clear and know what she has lost.
And thoughts that are now asleep will wake up in her mind
And she will mourn and cry for what she has left behind;
And maybe she'll sometimes long for me--for me--but no!
I've blotted her out of my heart and I will not have it so.
And yet in her girlish heart there was somethin' or other she had
That fastened a man to her and wasn't entirely bad;
And she loved me a little I think although it didn't last;
But I mustn't think of these things--I've buried 'em in the past.
I'll take my hard words back nor make a bad matter worse;
She'll have trouble enough; she shall not have my curse;
But I'll live a life so square--and I well know that I can--
That she always will sorry be that she went with that han'somer man.
Ah here is her kitchen dress! it makes my poor eyes blur;
It seems when I look at that as if 'twas holdin' her.
And here are her week-day shoes and there is her week-day hat
And yonder's her weddin' gown: I wonder she didn't take that.
'Twas only this mornin' she came and called me her "dearest dear"
And said I was makin' for her a regular paradise here;
O God! if you want a man to sense the pains of hell
Before you pitch him in just keep him in heaven a spell!
Good-bye! I wish that death had severed us two apart.
You've lost a worshiper here--you've crushed a lovin' heart.
I'll worship no woman again; but I guess I'll learn to pray
And kneel as you used to kneel before you run away.
And if I thought I could bring my words on heaven to bear
And if I thought I had some little influence there
I would pray that I might be if it only could be so.
As happy and gay as I was a half an hour ago.
Why John what a litter here! you've thrown things all around!
"WHY JOHN WHAT A LITTER HERE! YOU'VE THROWN THINGS ALL AROUND!"
Come what's the matter now? and what 've you lost or found?
And here's my father here a-waiting for supper too;
I've been a-riding with him--he's that "handsomer man than you."
Ha! ha! Pa take a seat while I put the kettle on
And get things ready for tea and kiss my dear old John.
Why John you look so strange! Come what has crossed your track?
I was only a-joking you know; I'm willing to take it back.
Well now if this ain't a joke with rather a bitter cream!
It seems as if I'd woke from a mighty ticklish dream;
And I think she "smells a rat" for she smiles at me so queer;
I hope she don't; good Lord! I hope that they didn't hear!
'Twas one of her practical drives--she thought I'd understand!
But I'll never break sod again till I get the lay of the land.
But one thing's settled with me--to appreciate heaven well
'Tis good for a man to have some fifteen minutes of hell.