The Glass Window: The Return of the Quare Women

FROM the first day of September, when she saw their wagons pass out of sight around a mountain shoulder down Troublesome, Aunt Ailsie Pridemore could think of little else but the quare women, their coming-up from the Blue Grass in June, the setting-up of their tents on the hill overlooking courthouse and village, the flocking of people from far and near to see, the absorption of the young in all the cheerful and busy doings, the peace in the Kent-Fallon war, the joy of old folks like Uncle Ephraim Kent and herself in learning to read; and, at the last, the mass meeting, urging the visitors to stay always and found a school, and the offers of land, labor, and timber for the purpose.

The six months which must pass before the women could come back seemed to Aunt Ailsie an interminable time, and ordinary pursuits palled terribly. ‘’Pears like I wisht I might never see a cookpot or a dishrag or a broom or a battling-stick or a reel or a wheel or a loom no more,’ she would say to herself as she worked. ‘I’m plumb werried out with ‘em, and with these here hills and clifts and creeks.’

All the fall, save at foddering and corn-gathering times, Uncle Lot rode in to the Forks every day and joined Uncle Ephraim up in his timber, where the two measured and marked the great yellow poplars which were to go into the new schoolhouse.

Two or three times Aunt Ailsie rode in to the Forks to see her daughter, Cynthia Fallon, at the hotel, and then enjoyed a surreptitious delight with her grandson, little John Wes, slipping off into an upper room where the quare women had left their boxes of library books in Giles Kent’s care (Giles being the school-teacher at the Forks). Here the two would hunt out storybooks with large print and bright pictures, the six-year-old boy sometimes deciphering words too hard for his granny. This pleasure was none the less sweet because forbidden, for, in giving his consent that Aunt Ailsie should learn to read, Uncle Lot had stipulated that her reading must be Scripture only.

On occasional rainy days, when Uncle Lot had to remain at home, he spent his time poring over the Bible, by fatpine light, the windowless old house being very dark when doors had to be closed against the cold. At such times he was very apt to observe Aunt Ailsie’s laxness and listlessness.

‘There you have sot, a-gaping at the fire, and hain’t cyarded a roll for half a hour,’ he would comment; or, as she sat dreaming at the big loom, ‘I hain’t heared you tromp ary treadle for allus. ‘Pears like your mind wanders wusser every day. And I can tell you pineblank where hit’s a-wandering to. Hit’s them quare women. You hain’t been at yourself sence they come in.’

‘’Pears like I think of ‘em unthoughted, paw,’ she would reply, guiltily. ‘I don’t aim to, but my wits jest wanders to ‘em. They was so much company for me, and holped up my sperrits so, and larned me so much I never knowed.’

‘Your lawful spouse and daily labors is company enough for you, a body would think; and as for sperrits, the God of Israel would holp up your sperrits a sight more if you would call upon Him in prevailing prayer. And I don’t figger any larning you got has profited you none—I hain’t seed you sarch the Scripters ten minutes on eend sence you larnt your A B C’s.’

‘You hain’t no great of company for me, paw; you air allus gone to funeralmeetings of Sundays, and week days when you hain’t at work you’d ruther company with Job or Solomon or any of them old dead-and-gone fellers as me. And as for Scripter, hit’s got sech a lavish of hard words I can’t make out to read half of ‘em, skasely, and leetle fine print too, and the house so dark, and fatwood light so flickery.’

‘Yes, old Satan hisself could n’t make no more excuses! I warn you, Ailsie, you air treading dangerous ground, giving ninety-nine thoughts to them women to one to your God, setting the creetur afore the Creator, which is idoltery. While hit’s a good thing for the young of this country to have them women here, hit hain’t so good for old folks like you, that gets their minds tore up easy, and has itching ears and lusting eyes, allus a-craving something they have n’t got, everly ready to run after every new vanity they see, forgetting the words of the Apostul: “ Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live sober and righteous and godly in this present world.”

‘As your God-appinted head, I admonish and lay down to you, right now, that when them women returns back I hain’t aiming to put up, not for a minute, with what I done last summer. Keeping at home is the onliest business a woman has got, according to both Scripter and reason. “Let the women be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, obedient to their own husbands,” says the Word. And keep at home when them women comes back, I now put my foot down and decree you shall. For if I don’t, by summer I won’t have any home or woman or gyarden or vittles or cow-brutes or chickens or peace or satisfaction in life, but might as well, and better, be a widder-man, for hit’ll be jest one everlasting traipse-andgad, hoove-and-set, hip-and-hurrah, from one day’s dawn to tother, world without eend! Wherefore my intentions for you atter the women comes back is, to wit, if you do your work well-up all week, I may leave you go in of Saturdays to see ‘em, but not nary nother time, never!’

This ultimatum was received by Aunt Ailsie with her usual meek ‘Yes, paw.’

The slowest time will pass at last; and finally mid-March did arrive, and with it the two quare women, Amy and Virginia. Fortunately they came on a Friday. When Aunt Ailsie rode in next day to the Forks, most of the village was gathered at the hotel to greet them. Then everybody went up to Polly Ainslee’s three-acre bottom, which had been purchased by the citizens for the site of the new school, and over which a number of Uncle Ephraim’s great logs were now scattered, having been snaked down by ox-teams from his mountain opposite.

The people all vied with one another in getting the women settled in Polly’s small cottage, donating all sorts of things for their use and comfort. Aunt Ailsie gave a bedstead, made by Uncle Lot years before, with shuck mattress, fat feather-bed, and pillows complete, and a handsome wool coverlet in indigo and white woven by herself, of ‘Young Man’s Fancy’ pattern. Uncle Lot also permanently donated the ‘pieded heifer’ lent the women the summer before, Ronny Kent, younger brother of the now absent Giles and grandson of Uncle Ephraim, mending up the cowshed, and also building shelves for the books in the sitting-room-library of the women.

From week to week, as she rode in, Aunt Ailsie noted progress in the preparations for the new schoolhouse. Uncle Ephraim and Uncle Lot permitted no one to scribe and score the great logs but themselves, though others helped with the hewing. The rock pillars for foundations also had to be sunk directly under their eyes. Other men were engaged in riving boards for the roof and palings for the fence, and in hewing timbers for joists, rafters, and beams. It was always a busy scene, crop-time being not far off, when every man must work for himself.

During all of May, Aunt Ailsie and Uncle Lot were too busy hoeing corn to go in to the Forks; but on a Saturday in early June, when the ground was too wet for work, Aunt Ailsie again rode down her branch and up Troublesome, overtaking two covered wagons that lumbered and jolted on ahead. She recognized these as belonging to Uncle Adam Howard and his son Jasper. They stopped where she did, at the women’s big gate, and she was delighted to discover that a strange young woman sat by the side of each driver.

Amy and Virginia came running down the walk, welcomed the two visitors warmly, helped them out over the wheels, and then apparently forgot all about them, to peer intently into the wagons.

‘I’ll gorrontee there hain’t a one ruint,’ said Uncle Adam. ‘ Mought be a few cracked, but none plumb smashed. I fixed a saft place for ‘em to rest on.’

Aunt Ailsie, who drew near to the visitors as to a magnet, heard one of them, a handsome, dark-eyed girl, say to the other with a groan, ‘ I wish he had fixed a saft place for us to rest on!’

Aunt Ailsie spoke up sympathetically. ‘You two gals look plumb werried out. Here, set on this nigh bench and rest a spell.’

The girls sank down and took off their hats, one revealing a much-ruffled mass of dark hair, the other a head of ripply reddish-gold. Aunt Ailsie also sat down, and removed her black sunbonnet.

Uncle Adam meanwhile was lifting off the wagon sheet, and displaying to the women, and also to the men who came running from the bottom, his precious cargo.

‘I made the feller put all the glass in the sash,’ he said, ‘and then lashed several sash together in bundles, with hay betwixt, and then sot the bundles up eendways on two foot of hay, and tied ‘em above to this-here frame. Then I tuck a extra half-day coming acrost the mountains. And I’ll lay there hain’t a pane broke beyand using.’

He began lifting out the sashes, his words being verified, to the general amazement. ‘I would have said hit could n’t be!’ ‘You done a right job, Adam!’ ‘I’ve lost good money on you, but I hain’t begrudging hit!’ For wagers had been laid that the glass for the school windows could not be brought from the railroad whole.

Aunt Ailsie, meanwhile, turned her attention to more interesting objects.

‘What name do you two gals go by, and what’s your business here?’

‘Susanna Reeves is mine,’ replied the brunette, ‘and this other girl is Christine Potter. Her business here is to teach; but mine, everywhere, is simply to enjoy myself.’

Aunt Ailsie replied, in an earnest tone, ‘Hit’s what I allus craved to do myself. But I never got a chancet.’

‘Why not?’

‘My man, Lot, he’s again’ it. He’s a Old Primitive.’

‘He must be,’ replied Susanna. ‘But what has that to do with you ?’

Aunt Ailsie’s mouth dropped open. ‘What has it got to do with me?’ she repeated, in a shocked tone. ‘ Why, he’s my man — my God-appinted head! Hit’s my business, according to Scripter, to obey every word he says.’ She continued to gaze at Susanna in amazed silence for a moment or two; then, with a sudden intake of breath, said, ‘But I don’t say I hain’t mightly werried-out with it sometimes.’

Then, resuming her catechism: ‘Where did you gals come from, and how fur did you ride on the railroad train?’

‘I came from the Blue Grass, and rode only one day by train and two and a half by wagon. Christine here rode two days and nights by train and the rest by wagon — she came all the way from New England.’

‘ I have heared a sight about old England in the song-ballats, but I never heared tell of no new England.’

‘Well, it’s here in America, ‘way up north and east, on the Atlantic Ocean.’

‘ That hain’t the briny deep — the old salt sea I have allus heard tell of in the ballats?’

‘The very same.’

Aunt Ailsie took a long, thirsty, exhaustive look at the fairer girl.

‘And you have seed the briny deep, and lived by hit?’ she asked.

‘Yes, and crossed it twice on ships.’

She continued to stare, her dreaming soul in her eyes. ‘And you air young, and have seed sech a sight of this wonderly world, and I am old — sixtyone I am, and been married forty-seven year, and raised eight offsprings, and got fifty-seven grands, and hain’t never seed a railroad, or a ship, or a boat, or nothing but mountains and clifts and creeks, or traveled furder than twelve mile.’

Then, as if dismissing a painful subject: ‘How old air you two gals?’

‘Twenty-three,’ replied Susanna.

‘Twenty-two,’ said Christine.

Aunt Ailsie shook her head sadly. ‘Both on the cull-list,’ she said, ‘same as tother quare women. For I allow neither one of you hain’t got ary man? ‘

Christine shook her head at once; but Susanna, after a moment of deliberation, replied enigmatically: ‘Well,

I can’t say I have, and I can’t say I have n’t.’

Aunt Ailsie was delightfully intrigued. ‘How do you make that out?’ she demanded.

‘Well, you see, I’m engaged to one; I’ve got him that far—but he can’t marry me yet.’

‘Why not?’ There was an edge of suspicion in Aunt Ailsie’s voice.

‘He’s too poor.’

‘Too pore! Too pore to marry! I never in life heared of a man too pore to marry! All he’s got to do is to clear him a patch of new ground, and put him in a crap, and raise a house with the logs. Any man can’t do that hain’t no man at all! That-air man of yourn hain’t no account, or else he’s jest a-fooling you.’

‘He claims,’ said Susanna, ‘that he had to go a lot in debt getting his medical and surgical education, and that he must pay those debts and get something ahead before he can marry; also that it takes a surgeon a long time to get a start.’

‘Man’s talk to a gal is the most ontrustable thing in life,’ declared Aunt Ailsie. ‘What is a surgeon?’

‘A kind of doctor who — who operates on people when necessary.’

‘Operates? What’s that?’

‘Well, you know sometimes people have tumors or cancers or a bad appendix, and the only way to save life is to cut them out. That is what Robert does.’

Aunt Ailsie’s eyes bulged with horror. ‘Cyarves on living humans!’ she exclaimed.

‘When it’s the only way.’

‘Hit’s wicked and devilish and a pyore scandal! ‘ pronounced Aunt Ailsie without hesitation. She gazed at Susanna with deeply troubled brow.

‘I feel to warn you, Susanny,’ she said, ‘not to confidence no sech a man — not a minute; for the way things looks, he don’t mean no good to you or nobody else. If I was you, I’d sooner die a old maid, like Christeeny here.’

‘But I’m not such a very old maid,’ protested Christine.

‘Not but a year gone, so fur as time tells,’ admitted Aunt Ailsie; ‘but,’ with a sad shake of the head, ‘your chances is as good as nothing.’

‘Why?’ demanded both girls, in amazement.

‘I hate to name it,’ was the reluctant reply. ‘I never was one to tromp on feelings. But facts is facts, and there hain’t a person of the man-tribe nowhere but what is shy of a redhead. They allow hit means high-tempered, and up-headed, and rule-or-die; and, being men-folks, they generally aim to do the ruling theirselves — and got Scripter for it, too. Hit’s a pyore pity for a gal to have sech a drawback; she better be snaggle-toothed and jimberjawed and cross-eyed and pock-marked, all in one, so fur as men goes.’

‘But Christine’s hair is perfectly beautiful, the prettiest I ever saw,’ declared Susanna.

‘Pretty is as pretty does,’ said Aunt Ailsie. ‘Hit don’t signify beautiful. I feel for you, Christeeny, I do, too. But for that red hair you’d be as sightly a gal as ever I beheld, with that-air white, tender skin, and them deep-blue eyes, and that headpiece set on your shoulders pine-blank like a deer. If your hair was jest black now, or brown, or palish-yaller, there would be hope. But hit’s too red!’

After a moment of thought she spoke more encouragingly. ‘I have knowed of redhead gals biling warnut bark and toning down their hair a leetle grain, which is mighty sensible. And I would glad fix some for you, if you was to say so. If you leave hit be, your onliest chancet would be a widder-man so hectored and driv by young-uns and cow-brutes he would look over the red hair to get him a working woman. For I have tuck notice that redheads is mighty working. I allow, now, you can cook and clean and wash and scrub and gyarden and spin and weave and sew and tame down young-uns and, most of all, milk cow-brutes?’

‘I’m afraid I can’t do one of those things but sew a little,’ admitted Christine.

Aunt Ailsie glanced around, holding up a quick hand. ‘Ssh-ssh — don’t let hit get abroad!’ she admonished. ‘Hit would everly destroy your chances. Last summer I fetched in a diligent widder-man, with a good farm and several head of property and nine orphant young-uns, to take his pick of the quare women; but when he found not nary one of the six could milk a cow, he tuck to his heels. Now you air too likely a gal not to try for a man, and if you will come down about oncet a week and take the night with me I will gorrontee to larn you milking and gyardening and spinning and weaving and a smatter of cooking and sewing. And then, with the warnut-juice, first thing you know you’ll maybe ketch you a man, and be tuck off the cull-list.’

Both girls seemed to have difficulty restraining some kind of emotion, but after a little Christine replied, gratefully, ‘Thank you — I shall be delighted. Shall we start in next week? And may I bring Susanna too?’

‘Fetch her on along — hit’ll maybe take her mind off of that-air cyarver! Fetch all the quare women, if you want. Though I hain’t got no manner of hope left for tothers.’

Amy and Virginia now came up to the visitors with apologies for their absorption in the windows. ‘It was such a feat, bringing them in unbroken,’ they said. ‘We only hope you girls are in as good condition. Come to bed at once.’

‘We hope it’s a feather-bed,’ said Susanna.

‘It is, a nice fat one, given us by Aunt Ailsie herself.’

Amy piloted the girls into the cottage, while Virginia stayed to watch the unloading. When all the large sashes were put away, there still remained in the second wagon a number of quite small ones, which Jasper began to hand down.

‘What’s them for?’ inquired Aunt Ailsie of Virginia.

‘Some small windows we brought in, thinking that people who have none might like to set them in their walls to let in the light. We intend trading them for things to eat.’

Aunt Ailsie sprang to her feet. ‘ Hit’s what I have needed all my lifetime, and never knowed it!’ she said. ‘With one of them fine glass windows set in the south wall of old-house, the sunball will shine in all day, and lighten all my labors. I ‘ll fetch you in apples or beans or anything I got to pay for it.’

‘You ‘ll fetch us in nothing more,’ replied Virginia. ‘We intended all along to give you one if you wanted it. Here, Jasper, knock off one of those crates and hand me a couple of those sashes. Aunt Ailsie can take them along on old Darb as she rides home.’

Jasper knocked off the crating and Virginia tied the sashes together.

‘I’ll hand them up to you,’ she said, ‘after you get on old Darb.’

Aunt Ailsie stood silent for a long moment, not making any start toward the nag, her face growing more and more sober and thoughtful.

‘Virginny,’ she said at last, ‘there’s a time for all things, and this hain’t the time for to take home my glass window. Hit’s this way. My man Lot, besides being the balkingest man ever drawed breath, is everly again’ new things and new idees. If I was to ride up on old Darb and flant these here sashes in his very face, hit would sartain be the everlasting eend of glass window for me. To sudden him is pyore folly. What he needs is to get broke gradual to an idee, and kindly naychulized to it. So I aim to wrop it up in about four bundles of fodder, and tie it up again’ the rafters in this-here cowshed loft of yourn, where nobody won’t never see it, and then bide my time. You know the Scripter, “Continual drapping wears away a many a stone,” and “Times and agitations brings onlikely things to pass.” ‘

One afternoon Aunt Ailsie stopped old Darb at the women’s gate just as Christine came out. She had been riding all afternoon, buying up wool, getting ready to weave a number of coverlets for which the quare women had brought in orders. She sat on one sack and carried another in her arms.

Suddenly she leaned down from the nag and spoke confidentially in Christine’s ear. ‘I aim to have a glass window myself some day,’ she said.

‘Oh, do you?’

‘Yes, but Lot don’t know nothing about hit yet. He’s allus sot again’ new things, and I have to walk saftly, and bide my time. But hit’s put away safe up in yan cowshed loft, wropped in bundles of fodder. I’ll have hit yet.’

‘I hope so,’ said Christine.

‘Don’t tell nobody what I told you.’

‘Oh, no!’

Aunt Ailsie rode on home, meditating pensively upon the glass window. It was now three weeks since she had carefully put it away, but as yet no favorable opportunity had presented itself for broaching the subject to Uncle Lot.

That night, after they had eaten supper, and Uncle Lot, after a hard day sledding fodder down the hillsides, was sitting in old-house reading his chapter by fat-pine light, Aunt Ailsie began: —

‘I rid up Troublesome this evening, and Bee Tree, too. Phœbe she allus has a leetle wool, and Cyarline Yonts more, and there was some on Troublesome, too. Got me a fair lot — not good like my own shearing, though. But hit’ll take a sight of wool to weave the kivers them women spoke for, and I can’t look for all to be extry wool.’

‘ How much was hit them women allowed you’d get for a kiver?’ inquired Uncle Lot.

‘Ten dollars,’ replied Aunt Ailsie, in an awed voice. ‘Ten whole dollars — and me able to weave two a week easy atter I once get my wool all cyarded and spun and spooled and reeled and dyed. Hit’s a sight of money in this world for a woman to make! But they allow I do sech pretty weaving folks will pay high for hit.’

‘Hit’s a sight of money too,’ agreed Uncle Lot, with marked satisfaction.

‘ Phœbe, she showed me a glass window David had jest sot in for Lowizy,’ continued Aunt Ailsie, ‘ one he got from the quare women. Eh, law, she’ll take comfort now, laying there winters with the sunball shining right in on her, so’s she can read her books so good! I’m glad for her.’

‘Hit’s good for shet-ins like her,’ admitted Uncle Lot.

‘ And Rutheny’s window that she got, soon as she heared the women had ‘em to trade, hit holps her up a sight, too.'

‘Glass windows is all right for them that wants em. I allow there hain’t nothing blamable in ‘em,’ responded Uncle Lot, returning to his chapter.

‘ I was at the women’s that day the load of glass windows came in,’ continued Aunt Ailsie, ‘and Virginny she tried to give me ‘n’ you one for a present; said we had give her so much; and she allowed one would sarve us fine in yander south wall. She pressed me to fetch hit home on old Darb. I told her I never had heard you spend your opinion on glass windows; but being as you never was one to run atter new things, and being as you and me had lived well without one for forty-seven year, I allowed you would be again’ it.’

Uncle Lot looked up over his square silver specs in great surprise.

‘You never tuck hit?’ he asked.

‘No. I thanked her kindly, and come on along home.’

‘ I gonnies! ‘ he exclaimed in astonishment. ‘You done right. I would n’t ‘a’ thought hit of you, though! A glass window,’ he ruminated, ‘ a glass window is about the last and leastest thing hit would enter my headpiece to crave. Hain’t I lived here sixty-six year in perfect peace without ary ‘n? And my good old maw and paw twenty year afore my day? I never was one to go back on my raising. What has sarved me and my forepayrents eighty-six year will sarve me on to my eend. Not that I got any prejudyce again’ glass windows, for a schoolhouse or a churchhouse, or for young married folks jest starting in life — I take hit they don’t do no harm. Several of our offsprings has ‘em; Cynthy has several in her hotel; Ambrose and Jefferson has some; Phœbe and Link and Ben and Emmy and Nancy Ann hain’t got none, and hain’t none the wusser that I can see. But if they was to want, I’d say, have. New bottles for new wine, like the Scripter says; but, likewise, old bottles for old. Gimme the old and the tried, the pastures where I have used, the sights I have everly follered seeing.

‘ I ‘m right proud you tuck that stand, Ailsie, and right surprised, too, the cyarnal mind in general, and yourn in p’ticlar, being prone to lust atter every new thing hit sees. I remember me when Cynthy got her new cookstove, what a franzy you was in for one, though anybody in their right mind knows vittles is sweeter cooked on a open fire; and when Link fotched thatair washboard up the branch for Rutheny, what a notion you tuck to have one, when you got the very finest battling-log and wash-trough in the county; and as for lamp-ile, if I’d ‘a’ give in to you you’d have had us blowed to bits time out of mind. But hit pleasures me you use more jedgment about a glass window; it shows my counsel hain’t been plumb throwed away.’

Aunt Ailsie made no reply, but washed dishes diligently. Uncle Lot selected a fresh stick of pine from the basket at his side, lighted it at the expiring one, fixed it firmly in the chimney-jamb, and, settling back in his chair and pushing up his spectacles, suffered his gaze to roam about the big old room. In the north wall was the wide, open chimney, in the east and west walls were doors, opening on front and back porches; but the south wall was solid, unbroken, its great, rounded, smooth logs apparently good for centuries to come.

‘These-here old walls,’ he resumed, half in reverie, ‘was raised eighty-six years gone by my paw when he fotched my maw in. His hands chopped and peeled and scribed and scored and hewed ‘em, and holped to raise and notch ‘em. And from that day they have looked down on the joys and sorrows, the risings and settings, of a Godfearing generation. In that-air corner, where my maw’s bed allus sot, her thirteen offsprings first seed the light of day, me last of all. Them logs looked down on me as a leetle, puling babe, muzzling and mouthing the teat. They seed the first wobbly steps I tried to take, a-hanging on to my maw’s skirttail as she went about her labors. The cracks betwixt ‘em was alius my delight; I mind how, afore I could talk good, I follered laying in bed, working out the chinking with my toes. And when I got still bigger, a mean, mischievious chap as ever was, chock-full of original sin, I would dig out holes back in the clay with my hands, to hide my ill-got plunder in, corn pone or ginger cake or vinegar-pie I had snatched from the cupboard when my maw’s back was turnt; or eggs I had stole from the old gray goose; or pawpaws I had beat the possums to; or chestnuts or scaly-barks or warnuts which, in their season, I had robbed the squirrels of, till they found my trove and tuck to robbing me back again. I have seed my paw take down his riflegun over the fireboard there and knock out the chinking in one of them cracks to shoot the deer that follered coming down to our very doors; for in them days folks was skase and game a-plenty. And when I got more sizable I would lay in bed of a night and watch at my big sisters a-talking to their young men afore the fire, and maybe holding hands, or bussing, atter the foolish way of lovers. So, when I shot up like a cornstalk in new ground, and begun to prank around on a nag, and got courting on the brain, I kindly had some idee how to go about it. You was the gal, Ailsie, I sot my mind on, and though all flesh is grass, and beauty more fleetinger than the dew, I’ll say you was as pretty a looker then as ever I seed.’

‘I wa’n’t a patching to you, paw. A prettier boy never rid down a creek.'

‘I sot my mind on you, continued Uncle Lot, ‘and when I had raised tother house yan side the old chimley here, I fetched you in. And again these old walls looked down on the joy of the bridegroom and the bride, and the waiters and kin all mustered at the infare. Then, afore long, they tuck another spell of seeing lcetle feet pad about, and leetle hands explore cracks. Then come the awful day when my good old maw, laying there in her same bed, passed into glory, and pore old paw pined and pindled till he jined her. And then, afore we knowed it, our offsprings was all fledged and out of the nest, and you and me left here to our lone. Seems like to me, as I draw clost to threescore and ten, nigh all I used to set store by has squandered and gone. But when I lift my eyes to these here old gray walls, that, like well-tried friends, still stands stanch and true and pine-blank the same, I feel stayed and uphelt. Them logs is pyorely bound up in my bundle of life. I could n’t no more get my consent to lay violent hands on ‘em, and chop out a hole for a window, than if they was folks. Hit would be blasphemious!’

Very meekly Aunt Ailsie replied, ‘I allowed you would feel that way about it, paw,’ and, hanging up her dishtowel, lighted another stick of pine and started into ‘tother house’ to bed.