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The Minister’s Housekeeper
by [?]

Scene.–The shady side of a blueberry-pasture.–Sam Lawson with the boys, picking blueberries.–Sam, loq.

As, you see, boys, ’twas just here,–Parson Carryl’s wife, she died along in the forepart o’ March: my cousin Huldy, she undertook to keep house for him. The way on’t was, that Huldy, she went to take care o’ Mis’ Carryl in the fust on’t, when she fust took sick. Huldy was a tailoress by trade; but then she was one o’ these ‘ere facultised persons that has a gift for most any thing, and that was how Mis’ Carryl come to set sech store by her, that, when she was sick, nothin’ would do for her but she must have Huldy round all the time: and the minister, he said he’d make it good to her all the same, and she shouldn’t lose nothin’ by it. And so Huldy, she staid with Mis’ Carryl full three months afore she died, and got to seein’ to every thing pretty much round the place.

“Wal, arter Mis’ Carryl died, Parson Carryl, he’d got so kind o’ used to hevin’ on her ’round, takin’ care o’ things, that he wanted her to stay along a spell; and so Huldy, she staid along a spell, and poured out his tea, and mended his close, and made pies and cakes, and cooked and washed and ironed, and kep’ every thing as neat as a pin. Huldy was a drefful chipper sort o’ gal; and work sort o’ rolled off from her like water off a duck’s back. There warn’t no gal in Sherburne that could put sich a sight o’ work through as Huldy; and yet, Sunday mornin’, she always come out in the singers’ seat like one o’ these ‘ere June roses, lookin’ so fresh and smilin’, and her voice was jest as clear and sweet as a meadow lark’s–Lordy massy! I ‘member how she used to sing some o’ them ‘are places where the treble and counter used to go together: her voice kind o’ trembled a little, and it sort o’ went thro’ and thro’ a feller! tuck him right where he lived!”

Here Sam leaned contemplatively back with his head in a clump of sweet fern, and refreshed himself with a chew of young wintergreen. “This ‘ere young wintergreen, boys, is jest like a feller’s thoughts o’ things that happened when he was young: it comes up jest so fresh and tender every year, the longest time you hev to live; and you can’t help chawin’ on’t tho’ ’tis sort o’ stingin’. I don’t never get over likin’ young wintergreen.”

“But about Huldah, Sam?”

“Oh, yes! about Huldy. Lordy massy! when a feller is Indianin’ round, these ‘ere pleasant summer days, a feller’s thoughts gits like a flock o’ young partridges: they’s up and down and everywhere; ’cause one place is jest about as good as another, when they’s all so kind o’ comfortable and nice. Wal, about Huldy,–as I was a sayin’. She was jest as handsome a gal to look at as a feller could have; and I think a nice, well-behaved young gal in the singers’ seat of a Sunday is a means o’ grace: it’s sort o’ drawin’ to the unregenerate, you know. Why, boys, in them days, I’ve walked ten miles over to Sherburne of a Sunday mornin’, jest to play the bass-viol in the same singers’ seat with Huldy. She was very much respected, Huldy was; and, when she went out to tailorin’, she was allers bespoke six months ahead, and sent for in waggins up and down for ten miles round; for the young fellers was allers ‘mazin’ anxious to be sent after Huldy, and was quite free to offer to go for her. Wal, after Mis’ Carry! died, Huldy got to be sort o’ housekeeper at the minister’s, and saw to every thing, and did every thing: so that there warn’t a pin out o’ the way.