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Mis’ Elderkin’s Pitcher
by [?]

“Wal, that next winter old Black Hoss was took down with rheumatism, and I tell you if Miry didn’t have a time on’t! He wa’n’t noways sweet-tempered when he was well; but come to be crooked up with the rheumatis’ and kep’ awake nights, it seemed as if he was determined there shouldn’t nobody have no peace so long as he couldn’t.

“He’d get Miry up and down with him night after night a makin’ her heat flannels and vinegar, and then he’d jaw and scold so that she was eenymost beat out. He wouldn’t have nobody set up with him, though there was offers made. No: he said Miry was his daughter, and ’twas her bisness to take care on him.

“Miry was clear worked down: folks kind o’ pitied her. She was a strong gal, but there’s things that wears out the strongest. The worst on’t was, it hung on so. Old Black Hoss had a most amazin’ sight o’ constitution. He’d go all down to death’s door, and seem hardly to have the breath, o’ life in him, and then up he’d come agin! These ‘ere old folks that nobody wants to have live allers hev such a sight o’ wear in ’em, they jest last and last; and it really did seem as if he’d wear Miry out and get her into the grave fust, for she got a cough with bein’ up so much in the cold, and grew thin as a shadder. ‘Member one time I went up there to offer to watch jest in the spring o’ the year, when the laylocks was jest a buddin’ out, and Miry she come and talked with me over the fence; and the poor gal she fairly broke down, and sobbed as if her heart would break, a tellin’ me her trouble.

“Wal, it reelly affected me more to have Miry give up so than most gals, ’cause she’d allers held her head up, and hed sich a sight o’ grit and resolution; but she told me all about it.

“It seems old Black Hoss he wa’n’t content with worryin’ on her, and gettin’ on her up nights, but he kep’ a hectorin’ her about Bill Elderkin, and wantin’ on her to promise that she wouldn’t hev Bill when he was dead and gone; and Miry she wouldn’t promise, and then the old man said she shouldn’t have a cent from him if she didn’t, and so they had it back and forth. Everybody in town was sayin’ what a shame ’twas that he should sarve her so; for though he hed other children, they was married and gone, and there wa’n’t none of them to do for him but jest Miry.

“Wal, he hung on till jest as the pinys in the front yard was beginnin’ to blow out, and then he began, to feel he was a goin’, and he sent for Parson Lothrop to know what was to be done about his soul.

“‘Wal,’ says Parson Lothrop, ‘you must settle up all your worldly affairs; you must be in peace and love with all mankind; and, if you’ve wronged anybody, you must make it good to ’em.’

“Old Black Hoss he bounced right over in his bed with his back to the minister.

“‘The devil!’ says he: ”twill take all I’ve got.’ And he never spoke another word, though Parson Lothrop he prayed with him, and did what he could for him.

“Wal, that night I sot up with him; and he went off ‘tween two and three in the mornin’, and I laid him out regular. Of all the racks o’ bone I ever see, I never see a human critter so poor as he was. ‘Twa’n’t nothin’ but his awful will kep’ his soul in his body so long, as it was.

“We had the funeral in the meetin’-house a Sunday; and Parson Lothrop he preached a sarmon on contentment on the text, ‘We brought nothin’ into the world, and it’s sartin we can carry nothin’ out; and having food and raiment, let us be therewith content.’ Parson Lothrop he got round the subject about as handsome as he could: he didn’t say what a skinflint old Black Hoss was, but he talked in a gineral way about the vanity o’ worryin’ an’ scrapin’ to heap up riches. Ye see, Parson Lothrop he could say it all putty easy, too, ’cause since he married a rich wife he never hed no occasion to worry about temporal matters. Folks allers preaches better on the vanity o’ riches when they’s in tol’able easy circumstances. Ye see, when folks is pestered and worried to pay their bills, and don’t know where the next dollar’s to come from, it’s a great temptation to be kind o’ valooin’ riches, and mebbe envyin’ those that’s got ’em; whereas when one’s accounts all pays themselves, and the money comes jest when its wanted regular, a body feels sort o’ composed like, and able to take the right view o’ things, like Parson Lothrop.