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The Widow’s Bandbox
by [?]

“Lordy massy! Stick yer hat into the nor’east, Horace, and see ‘f ye can’t stop out this ‘ere wind. I’m e’eny most used up with it.” So spake Sam Lawson, contemplating mournfully a new broad-brimmed straw hat in which my soul was rejoicing. It was the dripping end of a sour November afternoon, which closed up a “spell o’ weather” that had been steadily driving wind and rain for a week past; and we boys sought the shelter and solace of his shop, and, opening the door, let in the wind aforesaid.

Sam had been all day in one of his periodical fits of desperate industry. The smoke and sparks had been seen flying out of his shop-chimney in a frantic manner; and the blows of his hammer had resounded with a sort of feverish persistence, intermingled with a doleful wailing of psalm-tunes of the most lugubrious description.

These fits of industry on Sam’s part were an affliction to us boys, especially when they happened to come on Saturday: for Sam was as much a part of our Saturday-afternoon calculations as if we had a regular deed of property in him; and we had been all day hanging round his shop, looking in from time to time, in the vague hope that he would propose something to brighten up the dreary monotony of a holiday in which it had been impossible to go anywhere or do any thing.

“Sam, ain’t you coming over to tell us some stories to-night?”

“Bless your soul and body, boys! life ain’t made to be spent tellin’ stories. Why, I shall hev to be up here workin’ till arter twelve o’clock,” said Sam, who was suddenly possessed with a spirit of the most austere diligence. “Here I be up to my neck in work,–things kind o’ comin’ in a heap together. There’s Mis’ Cap’n Broad’s andirons, she sent word she must have ’em to-night; and there’s Lady Lothrop, she wants her warmin’-pan right off; they can’t non’ on ’em wait a minit longer. I’ve ben a drivin’ and workin’ all day like a nigger-slave. Then there was Jeduth Pettybone, he brought down them colts to-day, and I worked the biggest part o’ the mornin’ shoein’ on ’em; and then Jeduth he said he couldn’t make change to pay me, so there wa’n’t nothin’ comin’ in for ‘t; and then Hepsy she kep’ a jawin’ at me all dinner-time ’bout that. Why, I warn’t to blame now, was I? I can’t make everybody do jest right and pay regular, can I? So ye see it goes, boys, gettin’ yer bread by the sweat o’ your brow; and sometimes sweatin’ and not gettin’ yer bread. That ‘ere’s what I call the cuss, the ‘riginal cuss, that come on man for hearkenin’ to the voice o’ his wife,–that ‘ere was what did it. It allers kind o’ riles me up with Mother Eve when I think on’t. The women hain’t no bisness to fret as they do, ’cause they sot this ‘ere state o’ things goin’ in the fust place.”

“But, Sam, Aunt Lois and Aunt Nabby are both going over to Mis’. Mehitabel’s to tea. Now, you just come over and eat supper with us and tell us a story, do.”

“Gone out to tea, be they?” said Sam, relaxing his hammering, with a brightening gleam stealing gradually across his lanky visage. “Wal, that ‘ere looks like a providential openin’, to be sure. Wal, I guess I’ll come. What’s the use o’ never havin’ a good time? Ef you work yourself up into shoestrings you don’t get no thanks for it, and things in this world’s ’bout as broad as they is long: the women ‘ll scold, turn ’em which way ye will. A good mug o’ cider and some cold victuals over to the Dea-kin’s ‘ll kind o’ comfort a feller up; and your granny she’s sort o’ merciful, she don’t rub it into a fellow all the time like Miss Lois.”