She got a good dinner that day. They had rye coffee, and white flour biscuit — not very white, but as good as could be had in the new country — potatoes, honey, and butter, and dried venison, and custard, and curd cheese, and plum pie, and preserved cherries and grapes.

 

They had no teaspoons, and they had to eat their custard and preserves with a knife and fork. Rusha had only one kettle, but she boiled water enough in it to make the coffee and cook the potatoes at one time, and then she hurried and had the biscuit ready to bake just as soon as the potatoes were done. The same kettle was used to make mush in, bake loaves of raised corn-bread, hull corn, preserve fruit and berries, and when small washings were done the clothes were boiled in it. It is wonderful how the ingenuity of woman can contrive when compelled by necessitous circumstances.

 

 

Becky wore her new linen apron that day, and that she might show "good will," likewise, she brought Rusha a piece of red ribbon to put on her best lace cap.

 

In the afternoon Rusha showed her new neighbor the way home in a way so positive arid sure that Becky was never lost again. They both rode the same horse, and Rusha went with her until she was in sight of her own cabin.

 

I said to Rusha: "Were you always good friends with your old-time neighbor?"

 

"Well, yes, rather; but a kind of a coldness come in a-tween us in three or four years after; but then 'twa'n't her fault."

 

Dear Rusha! She was like good old Jenks with his Jane Whittlesey.

 

"Tell me about it," I said; "I am interested in knowing just how much the women of fifty and sixty years ago were like our women of the present day."

 

"Well, 'twasn't her fault. You see we were all members of the Methody church together at this time, an' somehow talk got out that Sister Becky Morgan wa'n't sadisfied. Anyhow, she'd quit comin' to meetin' an' class, an' it got to be ser'us talk that she was unsadisfied, an' that old Mr. Mintringer, a Universalist preacher, had been at Moses Morgan's time an' ag'in. Well, it was talked over among us, an' Sister Hays an' me were 'p'inted to go an' talk with Becky. Now I was mortal 'fraid of Morgan hisself, he was so proud an' overbearin' an' scornful-like, and Sister Hays felt the same way, an' we 'lowed we wouldn't mind it if only we could happen there sometime when he was away from home. Well, it run on for weeks that way; we were still the a'p'inted ones, an' the church was dependin' on us. In the meantime Becky was confinded. Sister Hays an' me looked at each other, an' said,'Well, we'll go and visit her when the right time comes.' In less than a week, Sister Hays was the new mother of a pair of twin boys — you've heard of 'em, Romilus an' Remus; they live out West now — an' the next Monday my Azariar was born. In about five weeks after, we heard that the nabors had all j'ined together with Mr. Morgan to buy salt, an' that he was going down to Zanesville with two critters to pack some home. There was no wagon-road then, an' stuff had to be packed on critters' backs, an' let 'em travel one behind t'other. It-was a hard way o' gitten salt, but it was the only way, an' it was surprisen the lots that could be packed that way.

 

"That was our time to go then, while he was away, an' I sent word to Sister Hays to see if she was ready and willin'. She said she was, an' for me to come bright an' airly the next mornin', an' we'd ride down there an' visit, an' have our pious talk all to ourselves. I fixed things handy for the young uns' dinners, and toted Azariar, an' went cross lots.

 

"Now I want to tell you how we looked, Sister Hays an' me, when we started. I laffed then, an' I've laffed every time I've thought of it ever since; an' I'm nin'ty-two years old now, an' it's just as laffable as ever it was. Sister Hays an' I'd often gone visltin' together, an' off on church business, an' such, an' we alius rode their old Nell; I rode behind her on piece o' gray linseywoolsey. Old Nell was led out this mornin' for us, an' behold a pair o' cute little twin colts came trottin' along at her heels. I hadn't heard about 'em, or I s'pect I'd rode our Jack.

 

"Hays' X Roads saw a funnier sight then than the beautiful village of Haysville ever saw since that day. 8ister Hays carried the two babies, made up into one bundle; she rode before. I carried my Azariar, an' rode behind her. The little colts followed after us; but they soon got tired an' lagged, an' I had to whinny, and whicker, an' make all kinds of colty-talk an' endearin' horsetalk. It was the fust time the colts had ever been out of the barn-yard, an' they didn't know how large the airth was, an' acted as though they was afeard they'd fall over the edge of it. I never laughed so hard in my life. Sometimes I had to get off an' go back, an' almost pull 'em along by the tails. We made quite a procession — three critters, an' three boys, and two women,

 

"Well, we got to Becky's, and were having a famous visit; we put the four new babies all together, heads even; an' we were all talkin' at once, an' gettin' dinner; I was cleanin' a chicken, an' Becky was makin' berry pie, an' Sister Hays was peelin' taters, when a shadder fell acrost the doorway, an' who should come in but Moses hisself! The fordin' over Jerome Creek was not passable on account o' high water, an' he'd come home to wait till the next day.

 

"Oh, we were most mortally sorry! And there that old fellar sot an' sot, just as though Sattan was in him, an' he never give us one bit of a chance even to say a private word to Becky. He never liked the Methodys, an' I've a notion he tormented her until she gave 'em up, and was willin' to do anything for peace.

 

"That was the last visit I ever had with poor Becky Morgan. I offen met with her at the neighbors at flax-pullin's, an' quiltin's, and buryin's; but I couldn't enjoy her company like I did the fust couple o' years.

 

"The colts behaved themselves better on their way home'ards, an' our little patch o' babies slep' all the road. Sister Hays an' me offen talked in our old age about the difficulties that beset church committees in airly times when there was only one way o' travellin'."

50 YEARS AGO OR, THE CABINS OF THE WEST

 

A series of articles that appeared

in 1875 in Arthur’s Home Magazine

Back to Page 1 of this story

 

No. 5 … Frontier Neighbors Page 2

© 2011 Peggy Mershon                                                                                     Contact at marwelmer@aol.com