RAMBLING IDLE EXCURSION
RAMBLING IDLE EXCURSION
All the journeyings I had ever done had been purely in the way of
business. The pleasant May weather suggested a novelty namely a trip
for pure recreation the bread-and-butter element left out. The Reverend
said he would go too; a good man one of the best of men although a
clergyman. By eleven at night we were in New Haven and on board the New
York boat. We bought our tickets and then went wandering around here
and there in the solid comfort of being free and idle and of putting
distance between ourselves and the mails and telegraphs.
After a while I went to my stateroom and undressed but the night was too
enticing for bed. We were moving down the bay now and it was pleasant
to stand at the window and take the cool night breeze and watch the
gliding lights on shore. Presently two elderly men sat down under that
window and began a conversation. Their talk was properly no business of
mine yet I was feeling friendly toward the world and willing to be
entertained. I soon gathered that they were brothers that they were
from a small Connecticut village and that the matter in hand concerned
the cemetery. Said one:
"Now John we talked it all over amongst ourselves and this is what
we've done. You see everybody was a-movin' from the old buryin'-ground
and our folks was 'most about left to theirselves as you may say. They
was crowded too as you know; lot wa'n't big enough in the first place;
and last year when Seth's wife died we couldn't hardly tuck her in.
She sort o' overlaid Deacon Shorb's lot and he soured on her so to
speak and on the rest of us too. So we talked it over and I was for a
lay out in the new simitery on the hill. They wa'n't unwilling if it
was cheap. Well the two best and biggest plots was No. 8 and No. 9--
both of a size; nice comfortable room for twenty-six--twenty-six
full-growns that is; but you reckon in children and other shorts and
strike an everage and I should say you might lay in thirty or maybe
thirty-two or three pretty genteel--no crowdin' to signify."
"That's a plenty William. Which one did you buy?"
"Well I'm a-comin' to that John. You see No. 8 was thirteen dollars
No. 9 fourteen--"
"I see. So's't you took No. 8."
"You wait. I took No. 9. And I'll tell you for why. In the first
place Deacon Shorb wanted it. Well after the way he'd gone on about
Seth's wife overlappin' his prem'ses I'd 'a' beat him out of that No. 9
if I'd 'a' had to stand two dollars extra let alone one. That's the way
I felt about it. Says I what's a dollar anyway? Life's on'y a
pilgrimage says I; we ain't here for good and we can't take it with us
says I. So I just dumped it down knowin' the Lord don't suffer a good
deed to go for nothin' and cal'latin' to take it out o' somebody in the
course o' trade. Then there was another reason John. No. 9's a long
way the handiest lot in the simitery and the likeliest for situation.
It lays right on top of a knoll in the dead center of the buryin' ground;
and you can see Millport from there and Tracy's and Hopper Mount and a
raft o' farms and so on. There ain't no better outlook from a
buryin'-plot in the state. Si Higgins says so and I reckon he ought to
know. Well and that ain't all. 'Course Shorb had to take No. 8; wa'n't
no help for 't. Now No. 8 jines onto No. 9 but it's on the slope of
the hill and every time it rains it 'll soak right down onto the Shorbs.
Si Higgins says 't when the deacon's time comes he better take out fire
and marine insurance both on his remains."
Here there was the sound of a low placid duplicate chuckle of
appreciation and satisfaction.
"Now John here's a little rough draft of the ground that I've made on a
piece of paper. Up here in the left-hand corner we've bunched the
departed; took them from the old graveyard and stowed them one alongside
o' t'other on a first-come-first-served plan no partialities with
Gran'ther Jones for a starter on'y because it happened so and windin'
up indiscriminate with Seth's twins. A little crowded towards the end of
the lay-out maybe but we reckoned 'twa'n't best to scatter the twins.
Well next comes the livin'. Here where it's marked A we're goin' to
put Mariar and her family when they're called; B that's for Brother
Hosea and hisn; C Calvin and tribe. What's left is these two lots
here--just the gem of the whole patch for general style and outlook;
they're for me and my folks and you and yourn. Which of them would you
rather be buried in?"
"I swan you've took me mighty unexpected William! It sort of started
the shivers. Fact is I was thinkin' so busy about makin' things
comfortable for the others I hadn't thought about being buried myself."
"Life's on'y a fleetin' show John as the sayin' is. We've all got to
go sooner or later. To go with a clean record's the main thing. Fact
is it's the on'y thing worth strivin' for John."
"Yes that's so William that's so; there ain't no getting around it.
Which of these lots would you recommend?"
"Well it depends John. Are you particular about outlook?"
"I don't say I am William I don't say I ain't. Reely I don't know.
But mainly I reckon I'd set store by a south exposure."
"That's easy fixed John. They're both south exposure. They take the
sun and the Shorbs get the shade."
"How about site William?"
"D's a sandy sile E's mostly loom."
"You may gimme E then; William; a sandy sile caves in more or less and
costs for repairs."
"All right set your name down here John under E. Now if you don't
mind payin' me your share of the fourteen dollars John while we're on
the business everything's fixed."
After some Niggling and sharp bargaining the money was paid and John
bade his brother good night and took his leave. There was silence for
some moments; then a soft chuckle welled up from the lonely William and
he muttered: "I declare for 't if I haven't made a mistake! It's D
that's mostly loom not E. And John's booked for a sandy site after
There was another soft chuckle and William departed to his rest also.
The next day in New York was a hot one. Still we managed to get more
or less entertainment out of it. Toward the middle of the afternoon we
arrived on board the stanch steamship Bermuda with bag and baggage and
hunted for a shady place. It was blazing summer weather until we were
half-way down the harbor. Then I buttoned my coat closely; half an hour
later I put on a spring overcoat and buttoned that. As we passed the
light-ship I added an ulster and tied a handkerchief around the collar to
hold it snug to my neck. So rapidly had the summer gone and winter come
By nightfall we were far out at sea with no land in sight. No telegrams
could come here no letters no news. This was an uplifting thought. It
was still more uplifting to reflect that the millions of harassed people