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Mrs. Ripley’s Trip
by [?]

"And in winter the winds sweep the snows across it. "

The night was in windy November, and the blast, threatening rain, roared around the poor little shanty of "Uncle Ripley," set like a chicken trap on the vast Iowa prairie. Uncle Ethan was mending his old violin, with many York State "dums!" and "I gal darns!" totally oblivious of his tireless old wife, who, having "finished the supper dishes," sat knitting a stocking, evidently for the little grandson who lay before the stove like a cat. Neither of the old people wore glasses, and their light was a tallow candle; they couldn’t afford "none o’ them newfangled lamps. " The room was small, the chairs wooden, and the walls bare–a home where poverty was a never-absent guest. The old lady looked pathetically little, wizened, and hopeless in her ill-fitting garments (whose original color had long since vanished), intent as she was on the stocking in her knotted, stiffened fingers, but there was a peculiar sparkle in her little black eyes, and an unusual resolution in the straight line of her withered and shapeless lips. Suddenly she paused, stuck a needle in the spare knob of hair at the back of her head, and looking at Ripley, said decisively: "Ethan Ripley, you’ll haff to do your own cooking from now on to New Year’s; I’m goin’ back to Yaark State. "

The old man’s leather-brown face stiffened into a look of quizzical surprise for a moment; then he cackled incredulously: "Ho! Ho! har! Sho! Be y’, now? I want to know if y’ be. "

"Well, you’ll find out. "

"Goin’ to start tomorrow, Mother?"

"No, sir, I ain’t; but I am on Thursday. I want to get to Sally’s by Sunday, sure, an’ to Silas’s on Thanksgivin’. "

There was a note in the old woman’s voice that brought genuine stupefaction into the face of Uncle Ripley. Of course, in this case, as in all others, the money consideration was uppermost.

"Howgy ‘xpect to get the money, Mother? Anybody died an’ left yeh a pile?"

"Never you mind where I get the mony so ‘s ‘t tiy don’t haff to bear it. The land knows, if I’d a-waited for you to pay my way–"

"You needn’t twit me of bein’ poor, old woman," said Ripley, flaming up after the manner of many old people. "I’ve done my part t’ get along. I’ve worked day in and day out–"

"Oh! I ain’t done no work, have I?" snapped she, laying down the stocking and leveling a needle at him, and putting a frightful emphasis on "I. "

"I didn’t say you hadn’t done no work. "

"Yes, you did!"

"I didn’t, neither. I said

"I know what you said. "

"I said I’d done my part!" roared the husband, dominating her as usual by superior lung power. "I didn’t say you hadn’t done your part," he added with an unfortunate touch of emphasis on "say. "

"I know y’ didn’t say it, but y’ meant it. I don’t know what y’ call doin’ my part, Ethan Ripley; but if cookin’ for a drove of harvest hands and thrashin’ hands, takin’ care o’ the eggs and butter, ‘n’ diggin’ taters an’ milkin’ ain’t my part, I don’t never expect to do my part, ‘n’ you might as well know it fust ‘s last. I’m sixty years old," she went on with a little break in her harsh voice, dominating him now by woman’s logic, "an’ I’ve never had a day to myself, not even Fourth o’ July. If I’ve went a-visitin’ ‘r to a picnic, I’ve had to come home an’ milk ‘n’ get supper for you menfolks. I ain’t been away t’ stay overnight for thirteen years in this house, ‘n’ it was just so in Davis County for ten more. For twenty-three years, Ethan Ripley, I’ve stuck right to the stove an’ churn without a day or a night off. " Her voice choked again, but she continued impressively, "And now I’m a-goin’ back to Yaark State. "