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The Triumph of Ol’ Mis’ Pease
by [?]

Brother and Sister Pease were the last to leave church that day, but they found Ann waiting for them at the door. She walked straight up to them and spoke: “Nancy Rogers,” she said, “I know you; I kin see claih thoo you, and you ain’t a foolin’ me one bit. All I got to say is dat I has done my Christian duty, an’ I ain’t gwine do no mo’, so don’ you speak to me fo’m dis day out.”

For the brief space of a second there was something like a gleam in Nancy’s eyes, but she replied in all meekness, “I’s a full-blown Christian now, an’ I feel it my bounden duty to speak to you, Sis’ Pease, an’ I’s gwine t’ speak.”

Ignoring this defiance the other woman turned to her former husband. She looked at him with unveiled contempt, then she said slowly, “An’ ez fu’ Wi’yum, Gawd he’p you.”

Here all intercourse between these warring spirits might have ended but for Nancy Pease’s persistent civility. She would speak to her rival on every occasion, and even call upon her if she could gain admittance to the house. And now the last drop of bitterness fell into the widow’s cup, for the community, to distinguish between them, began calling her “Ol’ Sis’ Pease.” This was the climax of her sorrows, and she who had been so devout came no more to the church; she who had been so cheerful and companionable grew morose and sour and shut her doors against her friends. She was as one dead to her old world. The one bit of vivid life about her was her lasting hatred of the woman who bore her name. In vain the preacher sought to break down the barrier of her animosity. She had built it of adamant, and his was a losing fight. So for several years the feud went on, and those who had known Ann in her cheerier days forgot that knowledge and spoke of her with open aversion as “dat awful ol’ Mis’ Pease.” The while Nancy, in spite of “Wi’yum’s” industrial vagaries, had flourished and waxed opulent. She continued to flaunt her Christian humility in the eyes of her own circle, and to withhold her pity from the poor, lonely old woman whom hate had made bitter and to whom the world, after all, had not been over-kind. But prosperity is usually cruel, and one needs the prick of the thorn one’s self to know how it stings his brother.

She was startled one day, however, out of her usual placidity. Sister Martin, one of her neighbours, dropped in and settling herself with a sigh announced the important news, “Well, bless Gawd, ol’ Sis’ Pease is gone at last.”

Nancy dropped the plate she had been polishing, and unheeded, it smashed into bits on the floor.

“Wha’–what!” she exclaimed.

“Yes’m,” Sister Martin assured her, “de ol’ lady done passed away.”

“I didn’t know she was sick; w’en she die?”

“She done shet huh eyes on dis worl’ o’ sorror des a few minutes ago. She ain’t bin sick mo’n two days.”

Nancy had come to herself now, and casting her eyes up in an excess of Christian zeal, she said: “Well, she wouldn’t let me do nuffin’ fu’ huh in life, but I sut’ny shell try to do my duty by huh in death,” and drying her hands and throwing a shawl over her head, she hastened over to her dead enemy’s house.

The news had spread quickly and the neighbourhood had just begun to gather in the little room which held the rigid form. Nancy entered and made her way through the group about the bed, waving the others aside imperiously.

“It is my Christian duty,” she said solemnly, “to lay Sis’ Pease out, an’ I’s gwine do it.” She bent over the bed. Now there are a dozen truthful women who will vouch for the truth of what happened. When Nancy leaned over the bed, as if in obedience to the power of an electric shock, the corpse’s eyes flew open, Ann Pease rose up in bed and pointing a trembling finger at her frightened namesake exclaimed: “Go ‘way f’om me, Nancy Rogers, don’t you daih to tech me. You ain’t got de come-uppance of me yit. Don’t you daih to lay me out.”

Most of this remark, it seems, fell on empty air, for the room was cleared in a twinkling. Women holding high numerous skirts over their heavy shoes fled in a panic, and close in their wake panted Nancy Pease.

There have been conflicting stories about the matter, but there are those who maintain that after having delivered her ultimatum, old Mis’ Pease immediately resumed the natural condition of a dead person. In fact there was no one there to see, and the old lady did not really die until night, and when they found her, there was a smile of triumph on her face.

Nancy did not help to lay her out.