« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
ladies of our own days. On the contrary, having always fed heartily on pumpkin-pies, doughnuts, Indian puddings, and other Puritan dainties, she was as round and plump as a pudding herself.
8. With this round, rosy Miss Betsey, did Samuel Sewell fall in love. As he was a young man of good character, industrious in his business, and a member of the church, the mint-master very readily gave his consent. “Yes, you may take her,” said he, in his rough way; “ and you'll find her a heavy burden enough!”
9. On the wedding-day, we may suppose that honest John Hull dressed himself in a plum-colored coat, all the buttons of which were made of pine-tree shillings.
The buttons of his waistcoat were sixpences; and the knees of his small-clothes were buttoned with silver threepences. Thus attired, he sat with great dignity in Grandfather's chair; and, being a portly old gentleman, he completely filled it from elbow to elbow. On the opposite side of the room, between her bridemaids, sat Miss Betsey. She was blushing with all her might, and looked like a full-blown peony, or a great red apple.
10. There, too, was the bridegroom, dressed in a fine purple coat, and gold-lace waistcoat, with as much other finery as the Puritan laws and customs would allow him to put on. His hair was cropped close to his head, because Governor Endicott had forbidden any man to wear it below the ears. But he was a very personable young man; and so thought the bridemaids, and Miss Betsey herself.
11. The mint-master also was pleased with his new
son-in-law; especially as he had courted Miss Betsey out of pure love, and had said nothing at all about her portion. So when the marriage ceremony was over, Captain Hull whispered a word to two of his men-servants, who immediately went out, and soon returned, lugging in a large pair of scales. They were such a pair as wholesale merchants use, for weighing bulky commodities; and quite a bulky commodity was now to be weighed in them.
12. “Daughter Betsey,” said the mint-master, “get into one side of these scales.” Miss Betsey-or Mrs. Sewell, as we must now call her — did as she was bid, like a dutiful child, without any question of the why and wherefore. But what her father could mean, unless to make her husband pay for her by the pound (in which case she would have been a dear bargain), she had not the least idea.
“And now,” said honest John Hull to his servants, “ bring that box hither.” The box to which the mint-master pointed was a huge, square, iron-bound oaken chest; it was big enough, my children, for all four of you to play at hide-and-seek in. The servants tugged with might and main, but could not lift this enormous receptacle, and were finally obliged to drag it across the floor.
14. Captain Hull then took a key from his girdle, unlocked the chest, and lifted its ponderous lid. Behold! it was full to the brim of bright pine-tree shillings, fresh from the mint; and Samuel Sewell began to think that his father-in-law had got possession of all the money in
the Massachusetts treasury. But it was only the mintmaster's honest share of the coinage.
15. Then the servants, at Captain Hull's command, heaped double handfuls of shillings into one side of the scales, while Betsey remained in the other. Jingle, jingle, went the shillings, as handful after handful was thrown in, till, plump and ponderous as she was, they fairly weighed the young lady from the floor.
16. “There, son Sewell!” cried the honest mintmaster, resuming his seat in Grandfather's chair, “ take these shillings for my daughter's portion. Use her kindly, and thank Heaven for her. It is not every wife that's worth her weight in silver.”
XVI — CONVERSATION.
1. Conversational power is a gift of birth. It is some men's nature to talk. Words flow out incessantly like drops from a spring in the hillside, not because they are solicited, but because pushed out by an inward force that will not let them lie still. We have known persons whose tongues ran from the rising of the sun until the going down of the same. One sentence ran into another as continuously as one link in an endless chain took hold of another link. We always marvel whether they do not wake up of nights and have a good talk by themselves, just for the relief it would give them.
2. From this extreme there is every degree of modification until we come to the opposite extreme, in which men seem unable, certainly unwilling, to utter their thoughts. Some men are poor in simple language. They have thoughts enough, but the symbols of thought — words — refuse to present themselves, or come singly and stingily. Others are silent from the stricture of secretiveness. Others are cautious and look before they speak, and before they are ready the occasion has passed.
3. In regard to language itself, the habit of reading pure English and of employing it every day is the best drill for a talker. People always act more naturally in their every-day clothes than they do when dressed up for Sunday, and the reason is, that they are unconscious in the one case and self-conscious in the other. It is so in speech. If one allows himself to talk coarsely and vulgarly every day and out of company, he will most assuredly find it not easy to talk well in company.
4. Habit is stronger than intention, and somewhere the common run of speech will break through and betray you. To converse well at some times requires that you should converse well at all times. Avoid all vulgarisms, all street colloquialisms, even when they are not vicious; for by-words and slang sentences amuse only while they are new. As soon as they become habitual they corrupt your language, without any equivalent in amusement.
The best language in the world is that which is so simple and transparent that no one thinks of the words
which you use, but only of the thought or feeling which they express.
H. W. BEECHER.
XVII. - HOW AN INDIAN BOY EARNED HIS NAME.
1. The mountain countries of the earth have always been wonderlands. People are always exploring them, but they keep their secrets remarkably well.
The great western mountain country of the United States is made up of range after range of wonderful peaks and ridges. Right in the eastern edge of one of these mountain ridges, one warm September morning, a band of Nez Perces Indians were encamped.
2. The camp was in a sort of nook, and it was not easy to say whether the mountain jutted out into the plain, or a spur of the plain made a dent in the rugged line of the mountain. More than a dozen “lodges," made of skins upheld by poles, were scattered around on the smoother spots not far from a bubbling spring. There were trees and bushes and patches of grass near the spring, but the little brook which trickled from it, did not travel a great way into the world before it was soaked up by the sand and gravel. Up and beyond the spring, the farther one chose to look the rockier and ruggeder it became. Take it all together, it was a most forlorn looking place. The very lodges themselves, and the human beings around them, made it appear the