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Page 215


Respectable Sir:—As Cousin Jack is always so mity budge
in writing letters to you, and as he and the President showed
us a most provoking trick, and run off like a stream of chalk,
back to Washington, without coming here, after they had
promised over and over again that they would come, and we
had got all slicked up and our clean gownds on, and more good
victuals cooked than there ever was in all Downingville before—I
say, Mr. Editor, I declare it's too bad; we are all as
mad as blazes about it, and I mean to write and tell you all
about it, if I live; and if Cousin Jack don't like it, he may
lump it; so there now.

Ye see Cousin Jack writ to us that he and the President
and some more gentlemen should be here the 4th of July, and
we must spring to it and brush up and see how smart we
could look, and how many fine things we could show to
the President. This was a Saturday before the 4th of July
come a Thursday. The letter was to Uncle Joshua, the Postmaster.
Most all the folks in Downingville were at the Post-Office
waiting when the mail come in, for we expected to hear
from Jack.

Uncle Joshua put on his spettacles and opened the mail,


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and hauled out the papers and letters in a bunch. In a minute
I see one to Uncle Joshua with the President's name on
the outside; so I knew it was from Jack, for the President always
puts his name on Jack's letters. We all cried out
to Uncle Joshua to open it, and let us know what was in it.
But he's such a provoking odd old man, he wouldn't touch it
'till he got every one of the papers and letters sorted and put up
in their places. And then he took it and set down in his arm-chair,
and took out his tobacker box and took a chaw of tobacker,
and then he broke open the seal and sot and chawed
and read to himself. We all stood tiptoe, with our hearts in
our mouths, and he must needs read it over to himself three
times, chawing his old quid, and once in a while giving us a
knowing wink, before he would tell us what was in it. And
he wouldn't tell us arter all, but, says he, “You must all be
ready to put the best side out Thursday morning; there'll be
business to attend to, such as Downingville never see before.”

At that we all turned and run, and such a hubbub as we
were in from that time 'till Thursday morning, I guess you
never see. Such a washing and scrubbing, and making new
clothes and mending old ones, and baking and cooking. Every
thing seemed to be in a clutter all over the neighborhood.
Sargent Joel flew round like a ravin' distracted rooster. He
called out his company every morning before sunrise, and
marched 'em up and down the road three hours every day.
He sent to the store and got a whole new set of buttons, and
had 'em sowed on to his regimental coat, and had a new piece
of red put round the collar. And had his trowses washed and
his boots greased, and looked as though he might take the
shine off of most anything. But the greatest rumpus was at
Uncle Joshua's; for they said the President must stay there
all night. And Ant Keziah was in such a pucker to have
everything nice, I didn't know but she would fly off the handle.


Page 217

She had every part of the house washed from garret to cellar,
and the floors all sanded, and a bunch of green bushes
put into all the fire places. And she baked three ovens-full of
dried punkin pies, besides a few dried huckleberry pies, and
cake, and a great pot of pork and beans. But the worst
trouble was to fix up the bed so as to look nice; for Ant Keziah
declared the President should have as good a night's
lodging in her house as he had in New York or Boston. So
she put on two feather beds on top the straw bed, and a brannew
calico quilt that she made the first summer after she was
married, and never put it on a bed before. And to make it
look as nice as the New York beds, she took her red silk
gown and ripped it up and made a blanket to spread over the
top. And then she hung up some sheets all round the bedroom,
and the gals brought in a whole handful of roses and
pinks, and pinned 'em up round as thick as flies in August.

After we got things pretty much fixed, Uncle Joshua started
off to meet Cousin Jack and the President, and left Sargent
Joel to put matters to rights, and told us we must all be ready
and be paraded in the road by nine o'clock Thursday morning.
Well, Thursday morning come, and we all mustered as soon as
it was daylight and dressed up. The children were all washed,
and had their clean aprons on and their heads combed, and
were put under the care of the schoolmarm, to be paraded
along with her scholars.

About eight o'clock, all the village got together down the
road as fur as Uncle Joshua's new barn; and Sargent Joel
told us how to stand, as he said, in military order. He placed
Bill Johnson and Cousin Ephraim out a little ways in front,
with each of 'em a great long fowling piece with a smart
charge in to fire a salute, and told 'em as soon as the President
hove in sight to let drive, only to be careful and pint
their guns up, so as not to hurt anybody. Then come Sargent


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Joel and his company; and then come the schoolmarm and
the children; and then come all the women and gals over
sixteen with Ant Keziah at their head; and then come all the
men in town that owned horses riding on horseback; and
all the boys that Sargent Joel didn't think was large enough
to walk in the procession got up and sot on the fences along
by the side of the road.

There we stood 'till about nine o'clock, when, sure enough,
we saw somebody come riding out of the woods down the
hill. The boys all screamed, ready to split their throats,
“Hoorah for Jackson,” and Bill Johnson fired off his gun.
Cousin Ephraim, who aint so easily fluttered, held on to his
and didn't fire, for he couldn't see anybody but Uncle Joshua
on his old gray horse. Along come Uncle Joshua, on a slow
trot, and we looked and looked, and couldn't see anybody
coming behind him.

Then they all begun to look at one another as wild as
hawks, and turn all manner of colors. When Uncle Joshua
got up so we could see him pretty plain, he looked as cross as
a thunder-cloud. He rid up to Sargent Joel, and says he,
“You may all go home about your business, for Jack and the
President are half way to Washington by this time.”

My stars! what a time there was then. I never see so
many folks boiling over mad before. Bill Johnson threw his
gun over into the field as much as ten rods, and hopped up
and down, and struck his fists together like all possessed.
Sargent Joel marched back and forth across the road two or
three times, growing redder and redder, till at last he drew
out his sword and fetched a blow across a hemlock stump, and
snapped it off like a pipe-stem. Ant Keziah fell down in a
conniption fit; and it was an hour before we could bring her
tu and get her into the house. And when she come to go
round the house and see the victuals she had cooked up, and


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[Description: 688EAF. Page 219. In-line image. A man on a horse plods along a country road surrounded by people as he tells news to them. He looks downcast, as do those to whom he is talking. ]
go into the bedroom and see her gown all cut up, she went
into conniption fits again. But she's better to-day, and has
gone to work to try to patch up her gown again.

I thought I would jest let you know about these things,
and if you are a mind to send word on to Cousin Jack and the
President, I'm willing. You may tell 'em there aint five folks
in Downingville that would hoorah for Jackson now, and
hardly one that would vote for him, unless 'tis Uncle Joshua,
and he wouldn't if he wasn't afraid of losing the Post-Office.

Your respected friend,