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ready for putting the timbers together, and that these must be raised before there could be a frame. And that “ sash,” which I in my ignorance supposed could be but for one window, was a generic term.
The “ raising” took place the following afternoon, and was quite an amusing scene to us cockneys, until one man's thumb was frightfully mashed, and another had a severe blow upon the head. A jug of whiskey was pointed out by those who understood the matter, as the true cause of these disasters, although the Fates got the blame.
6 Jem White always has such bad luck!” said Mr. Ketchum, on his return from the raising, “ and word spake never more," for that night at least ; for he disappeared behind the mysterious curtain, and soon snored most sonorously.
The many raisings which have been accomplished at Montacute, without that ruinous ally, strong drink, since the days of which I speak, have been free from accidents of any sort ; Jem White having carried his 6 bad luck” to a distant county, and left his wife and children to be taken care of by the public.
Our cottage bore about the same proportion to the articles we had expected to put into it, that the “ lytell hole ” did to the fiend whom Virgilius cajoled into its narrow compass; and the more we reflected, the more certain we became that without the magic powers of necromancy, one half of our moveables at least must re. main in the open air. To avoid such necessity, Mr. Clavers was obliged to return to Detroit and provide storage for sundry unwieldy boxes which could by no art of ours be conjured into our cot.
While he was absent, Green had enclosed his new house ; that is to say put on the roof and the siding, and laid one floor, and forthwith he removed thither without door, window or chimney, a course by no means unusu. al in Michigan.
As I was by this time, truth to speak, very nearly starved, I was anxious to go as soon as possible to a place where I could feel a little more at home ; and so completely had my nine days at Ketchum's brought down my ideas, that I anticipated real satisfaction in a removal to this hut in the wilderness. I would not wait for Mr. Clavers's return; but insisted on setting up for myself at once.
But I should in vain attempt to convey to those who · know nothing of the woods, any idea of the difficulties
in my way. If one's courage did not increase, and one's invention brighten under the stimulus of such occa. sions, I should have given up at the outset, as I have often done with far less cause.
It was no easy matter to get a “lady” to clean the place, and ne'er had place more need of the tutelary aid of the goddess of scrubbing brushes. Then this lady must be provided with the necessary utensils, and here arose dilemma upon dilemma. Mrs. Ketchum rendered what aid she could, but there was little su. perfluous in her house.
And then, such racing and chasing, such messages and requisitions ! Mrs. Jennings “could n't do no. thin' without a mop, and I had not thought of such a thing and was obliged to sacrifice on the spot sundry nice towels, a necessity which made all the house. keeping blood in my veins tingle.
After one day's experience of this sort, I decided to go myself to the scene of action, so as to be at hand for these trying occasions; and I induced Mr. Ketchum to procure a waggon and carry to our new home the various articles which we had piled in a hovel on his premises.
Behold me then seated on a box, in the midst of as anomalous a congregation of household goods as ever met under one roof in the back-woods, engaged in the seemingly hopeless task of calling order out of chaos, attempting occasionally to throw out a hint for the instruction of Mrs. Jennings, who uniformly replied by requesting me not to fret, as she knew what she was about.
Mr. Jennings, with the aid of his sons, undertook the release of the pent up myriads of articles which cram. med the boxes, many of which though ranked when they were put in as absolutely essential, seemed ridicu. lously superfluous when they came out. The many ob. servations made by the spectators as each new wonder made its appearance, though at first rather amusing, became after a while quite vexatious; for the truth be. gan to dawn upon me that the common sense was all on their side.
“What on airth's them gimcracks for ?" said my lady, as a nest of delicate japanned tables were set out upon the uneven floor.
I tried to explain to her the various convenient uses to which they were applicable ; but she looked very scornfully after all and said “ I guess they 'll do better for kindlin's than any thing else, here.” And I began to cast a disrespectful glance upon them myself, and
forthwith ordered them up stairs, wondering in my own mind how I could have thought a log house would afford space for such superfluities.
All this time there was a blazing fire in the chimney to accommodate Mrs. Jennings in her operations, and while the doors and windows were open we were not sensible of much discomfort from it. Supper was prepared and eaten-beds spread on the floor, and the children stowed away.
Mrs. Jennings and our other “ helps ” had departed, and I prepared to rest from my unutterable weariness, when I began to be sensible of the suffocating heat of the place. I tried to think it would grow cooler in a little while, but it was absolutely insufferable to the children as well as myself, and I was fain to set both doors open, and in this ex. posed situation passed the first night in my western home, alone with my children and far from any neighbour.
If I could live a century, I think, that night will never fade from my memory.
Excessive fatigue made it impossible to avoid falling asleep, yet the fear of being devoured by wild beasts, or poisoned by rattle. snakes, caused me to start up after every nap with sen. sations of horror and alarm, which could hardly have been increased by the actual occurrence of all I dread. ed. Many wretched hours passed in this manner. At length sleep fairly overcame fear, and we were awakened only by a wild storm of wind and rain which drove in upon us and completely wetted every thing within reach.
A doleful morning was this-no fire on the hearthstreams of water on the floor, and three hungry child.
ren to get breakfast for. I tried to kindle a blaze with matches, but alas ! even the straw from the packing-boxes was soaked with the cruel rain ; and I was distributing bread to the hungry, hopeless of anything more, when Mr. Jennings made his appearance.
“I was thinking you 'd begin to be sick o' your bargain by this time," said the good man, “and so I thought I'd come and help you a spell. I reckon you'd ha' done better to have waited till the old man got back."
“What old man?” asked I, in perfect astonishment.
“Why, your old man to be sure,” said he laughing. I had yet to learn that in Michigan, as soon as a man marries he becomes “ th' old man,” though he may be yet in his minority. Not long since I gave a young bride the how d' ye do in passing, and the reply was, * I 'm pretty well, but my old man 's sick a-bed.”
But to return, Mr. Jennings kindled a fire which I took care should be a very moderate one ; and I man. aged to make a cup of tea to dip our bread in, and then proceeded to find places for the various articles which strewed the floor. Some auger-holes bored in the logs received large and long pegs, and these served to support boards which were to answer the purpose of shelves. It was soon found that the multiplicity of articles which were to be accommodated on these shelves would fill them a dozen times.
“Now to my thinkin',” said my good genius, Mr. Jennings, “that 'ere soup-t’reen, as you call it, and them little ones, and these here great glass-dishes, and all sich, might jist as well go up chamber for all the good they 'll ever do you here."