| In My Youth|
|by James Baldwin|
|A decidedly different autobiography, originally published under the pseudonym Robert Dudley, eventually revealed to be James Baldwin. A portrayal of life in rural Indiana in the middle of the 19th century it certainly is, but it is so much more. In the words of Mr. Howland, an editor for the original publisher, 'It is difficult to describe just what there is so remarkable about this book, but it is undeniably wonderful. It is literature. It is a strange combination of autobiography and fiction, and records only the simplest happenings -- the life of people in the Indiana backwoods, the primitive life, the commonplace experiences, the visits between neighbors. To tell about it in this way does not make it sound remarkable, yet it is. The style is simple and clear; there is a quiet humor running through it, and in other places the reading brings tears to the eyes.' Ages 10-12 |
THE LONG WAY ABOUT IT
I. "THE GIVIN' IN"
ETTING married in meetin', my dear Leonidas and Leona,
was a serious and long-protracted affair, requiring
much deliberation and courage on the part of the two
persons most interested therein. It was an ordeal
through which very few young people were likely to
venture without due consideration of the consequences
and an heroic determination to endure unflinchingly the
bonds of wedlock which they were thus voluntarily
The first step in the process was the "givin' in," and
our Jonathan performed it with becoming dignity and
grace. It was on a Fifth-day morning in the latter part
of that month which worldly people vulgarly call March
in honor of a heathenish god of war as unlovely as he
was unchristian. In the woods where snow-drifts had
lately been heaped up, the grass was already growing
green. The johnny-jump-ups were beginning to bloom in
sunny places, robins and bluebirds were mating in the
orchard, the spring lambs were frisking in the woods
pasture. The smell of the soil was in one's nostrils,
the music of nature thrilled the senses.
It was such a morning as sends the red blood joyously
coursing through your veins, filling your heart with
gladness and your whole body with strength. It was just
 the kind of morning to be thinking of pilgrimages, of
marriage, of nest-building and of the infinitude of
But within the somber walls of the meetin'-house at Dry
Forks, there was little of spring-time, and even the
sunshine which struggled through the dust-covered
windows was tempered with solemnity. The monthly
meeting was in session, and the "shetters were shet,"
effectually separating the sexes. In one of the
compartments the men were deliberating upon various
weighty matters of church and state; in the other the
women were giving their mites to charity and vigorously
denouncing the fashions and the flippant tendencies of
the times. The solemn faces of the men, shaded by the
brims of their ample hats, seemed surcharged with a
sense of the tremendous seriousness of life. The weary
but kindly countenances of the women, half-concealed in
the depths of their dove-colored bonnets, gave evidence
of saintly resignation and faith too deep for words.
Very few of all that were assembled there on that
well-remembered Fifth-day morning had seen the
johnny-jump-ups, or the frisking lambs, or the birds in
the tree-tops; fewer still, having seen them, could
have derived aught of inspiration or joy therefrom. The
vain things of this world were put far away, and the
thoughts of the faithful were centered upon the grim
realities of life and the grimmer possibilities of
Suddenly, there was a perceptible stir of expectancy in
the men's end of the meetin'. At a well-understood
signal from one of the overseers, our Jonathan rose
from his place on one of the middle benches and with no
uncertain steps went up the aisle and handed a folded
slip of paper to the clerk, who, as both moderator and
secre-  tary of the meeting, was sitting behind a little desk
at the top of the gallery.
"Say, Bobby!" whispered Ikey Bright, leaning over from
the seat behind me and punching me sharply in the ribs.
"Say, Bobby, it's goin' to be a splicin' at your house,
ain't it? It'll be lots of fun to see Jont and the Lamb
girl a-standin' up in meetin' together. Jist wait and
I dared not make any response, for father's eyes were
upon me. The young man who was committing the act of
"givin' in" was returning with downcast eyes and
measured tread to his accustomed place. A profound
silence filled the room, as though every person was
duly impressed with the awfulness of the undertaking
upon which he was about to embark; and then the
solemnity was rudely disturbed by an accident without
parallel in the annals of the meetin'. For, in his
great perturbation of mind miscalculating the place and
the distance, our Jonathan missed his bench and sat
forcibly down on the floor. Despite most vivid visions
of mother's hickory and father's dire displeasure, I
gave way to a fit of suppressed laughter that no effort
of the will could restrain; Jake Dobson actually
snickered in an audible and most disgraceful fashion;
and I was led to suspect that he and Little Enick Fox,
who sat near by, had perpetrated a miserable and most
sinful joke by tipping the bench just at the
psychological moment when Jonathan was off his balance.
The minister and elders moved uneasily in their seats,
and the overseers glanced sharply about the room and
thereby silently quelled any further exhibition of
The clerk himself seemed somewhat perturbed by the
 unusual occurrence. He unfolded the bit of paper very
deliberately, turned it over and viewed it from every
angle, coughed nervously, and then rose to a standing
position beside his little desk.
"I have here a communication from two of our young
friends which I will now proceed to read," he
The silence was audible, as he paused before beginning,
and I glanced once more at our poor Jonathan, cowering
on his bench and making himself as small as possible.
"The communication is as follows," continued the clerk:
"To Dry Forks Monthly Meeting, to be held at Dry Forks
Indiana, on the twenty-fifth day of the Third-month.
"This is to certify that we the undersigned intend
marriage with each other.
There was a perceptible hum of satisfaction among the
younger men and boys as he finished the brief reading,
but the ministers and elders, in deep meditation, sat
immovable as marble statues. The clerk slowly refolded
the paper, returned it to his desk, and then in formal
"What is the feeling of the meeting with reference to
this communication from our young friends?"
After a short pauses, as if for consultation with the
spirit, Levi T. Jay rose from his top-gallery seat and
gave expression to his thoughts:
"My mind is free to suggest the appointment of a
committee to unite with a like committee of women
 in examining into the relations and conduct of the
young couple, and if no obstacles appear, to report the
same to our next monthly meeting."
"My mind is free also," said Abner Jones, the first
"Mine is also," sang out old Joel Sparker.
"Mine, also!" echoed a chorus of voices from all parts
of the room.
The committee was accordingly appointed, with Levi T.
as its chairman.
Then, at the clerk's suggestion, the communication was
sent by a special messenger to the women's meeting on
the other side of the "shetters." There it was read
with all due solemnity, and the requisite committee was
named to act, jointly or independently as the case
might require, with the men's committee already
Thus the "givin' in" was accomplished.
When the meeting "broke," and even before the elders in
the top gallery had finished shaking hands, our
Jonathan fled incontinently out by the nearest door,
and with unseemly speed betook himself to the spot
where his filly was tethered. He paused not to hear the
congratulations of his friends or to reply to the jibes
of unmannerly boys who pursued him. He cast not even a
glance backward toward the women's end of the
meetin'-house where he might have seen Esther Lamb, in
blue sunbonnet and white apron, shaking hands with our
Cousin Sally and other well-wishing friends. But, in
evident agitation, he mounted his steed, cantered out
into the big road and hurried homeward.
"Well, Jonathan, how does thee like 'givin' in'?"
inquired Cousin Mandy Jane.
 "It's the tarnalest thing I ever tackled. I wouldn't
never do it ag'in for the purtiest gal on airth!"
II. "THE PASSIN' "
It was the last Fifth-day morning in the Fourth month,
otherwise called the month of April. The field had been
plowed for corn, the oats had already been sown and
were springing up thick and green in the sun-warmed
soil, the birds had finished their love-making and were
keeping house. Our dear old log cabin had been erected
anew on Jonathan's forty-acre piece, and was ready for
occupancy. It looked very snug and comfortable under
its brand-new roof of shaved shingles and it seemed
very grand with its painted door and the shining
"chany" door-knob which had taken the place of the
As I have said, it was Fifth-day morning, and at Dry
Forks the monthly meeting was again in session, with
the "shetters shet" and the men and women gravely
deliberating in their respective "ends." There was a
large attendance of the curious and irreverent, for the
ceremony of "passin' meeting' " was to be performed,
and next to a real wedding, it would afford the rarest
entertainment known to the people of the New
The clerk opened the meeting with the usual formal
reading of a "minute" announcing that event. A few
minor items of business were disposed of, and a season
of silent waiting ensued which seemed greatly to
refresh the impatient souls of the seekers for
diversion. Then the clerk, standing up beside his desk,
inquired if it was the mind of the meeting to consider
the case of the
 young friends who at the preceding meeting had given in
their intentions of marriage.
In answer thereto, Levi T. Jay arose and announced that
"The committees appointed to have this matter under
advisement are ready to make their report."
"If that is the case and there are no objections on the
part of friends," said father, "I think that we might
proceed with the matter in the usual way."
As he resumed his seat, the door nearest to the facin'
bench was thrown open and the two persons who were the
center of interest entered. There was a bustle of
excitement among the irreverent, and some of the ruder
small boys tittered audibly as the pair of intenders,
holding each other's right hands, advanced and stood up
in front of the facin' bench which had been vacated for
their accommodation. Scarcely had this unseemly
interruption subsided when an unexpected air was
observed in the gallery, with a general rising among
the elders and a removing of hats. Good old Joel
Sparker had dropped upon his knees, being suddenly
moved to offer supplication in behalf of the
adventurous couple who were seeking to embark on the
uncertain sea of matrimony.
Of course, we were all obliged to rise and turn our
backs toward the supplicator lest we might see his
attendant angel (as in my former days of innocence I
had supposed). But I had now grown hardened with
respect to the ways of angels—having had no little
experience in that direction—and skepticism had
already taken deep root in my heart. Therefore, while
Joel was valiantly wrestling with the Lord and
earnestly pleading for blessings on the heads of our
dear young friends, I
 turned half-way about and busied myself with taking a
mental photograph of them.
Our Jonathan was to me the central figure in the whole
assemblage, and I felt that by his present action he
was bringing great distinction to our household. He was
fixed up in a style which must have made him feel
uncomfortable. He wore a starched shirt with a stand-up
collar which sawed the bottoms of his ears. His
trousers of home-made brown stuff were much too large
for him, having been made by our Aunt Rachel, who
believed in always giving good measure. He wore no
coat, for the day was warm; but his shirt-sleeves were
spotlessly clean, and his galluses, which had been
bought in Nopplis, were beautiful to see. His face was
smoothly shaven, and his hair, oozing with bear's
grease, was smoothly plastered down on his forehead.
His eyes were directed straight before him, and he
seemed scarcely conscious of the presence of buxom
Esther who stood, trembling and blushing, by his side.
And she—she had never appeared so charming. She
had exchanged her usual coarse garb of homespun for a
handsome gray gown of store-goods material; and instead
of her much-worm pasteboard sunbonnet, she wore the
daintiest little turtle-shell of brown silk that had
ever been seen in the Dry Forks meetin'-house.
Furthermore—but here my furtive observations were
suddenly terminated by hearing the "forever and ever
amen" with which Friend Joel always ended his
supplications. With much unnecessary shuffling of feet,
the men and boys resumed their places, and the business
of the meeting proceeded in the usual established
"The meeting will now listen to the reports of the
committees to which I alluded a few moments ago,"
an-  nounced the clerk; and taking up a half-sheet of
foolscap he read the following:
"To the Dry Forks Monthly Meeting, to be held on
Fifth-day, the twenty-ninth of the Fourth-month.
"We the undersigned appointed to inquire concerning the
conduct and outward relations of Jonathan Dudley and
Esther Lamb, do hereby report that we find no obstacles
to prevent them from proceeding with their intentions
of marriage, their parents and guardians being
favorably disposed toward the same.
"Signed by the COMMITTEE."
"Is it the mind of the meeting to accept this report?"
inquired the clerk.
"I unite with the report," answered 'Lihu Bright.
"I do also," responded various voices in the gallery.
The clerk accordingly declared that the meeting was in
entire agreement with the committee; and the report was
ordered to be copied in the "minutes." Then father, as
the official head of the meeting, arose in his place
and made announcement:
"I think that if the mind of the meeting is clear and
no obstruction appears in the way, our young friends
might now reaffirm their intentions and pass into the
women's meeting to repeat the same."
A deep and solemn silence followed. Then the crucial
point in the proceedings arrived as the bustling little
clerk behind his little desk and addressed himself to
"Jonathan and Esther, do you still continue your
intentions of marriage with one another?"
"We do," bravely asserted Jonathan.
"We do," sweetly echoed Esther.
"Your answers will be recorded in the minutes of the
 monthly meeting," said the clerk. "You may now pass
into the women's meeting and there make the same
The door between the two compartments was silently
opened, and the passing was promptly and creditably
performed. The intending couple disappeared, the door
was closed by an unseen hand, and we could only guess
what was occurring on the other side of the shetters.
Nothing more remained to be done by the men's meeting,
save to appoint a committee of three to attend the
marriage ceremony and wedding festivities, to see that
everything was performed in accordance with our
Discipline, decently and in an orderly manner, and to
report thereon at the next monthly meeting.
Such was the ceremony of "passin' meetin'," as I
remember seeing it once, and only once, in my lifetime.
(But, O Leona, what tricks your memory will play you at
the end of sixty years!) The custom was perhaps a
vestigial relic handed down to our fathers from the
God-fearing days and saintly practices of George Fox
and his disciples. It was designed to be one of several
safeguards against hasty and ill-advised marriages, and
in those remote times of non-haste and simple living,
it no doubt served a good purpose. But when the hydra
of progress began to lift its hundred heads, our people
soon caught the fever of impatience (and in matters of
marriage that fever is sometimes intense) and this
awkward old practice of stopping, looking, and
listening before taking the irretrievable step was
voted foolish and unnecessary; and, at about the time
of which I am writing, it was abandoned and the rule
was expunged from the Discipline.
 "Well, Jonathan, how does thee like passin' meetin'?"
inquired Cousin Sally.
"I like it right smart," he answered; "and I wouldn't
mind doin' it ag'in if I had to."
III. "THE SPLICIN' "
Again it is a Fifth-day morning—it is the first
Fifth-day in the Fifth-month, commonly called May.
Again, in the solemn old meetin'-house the people are
gathered. A meeting is in progress—not the monthly
nor the quart'ly, but the usual week-day meeting for
worship. The shetters are opened, and men and women are
worshiping together, each sex in its own part of the
great dingy room.
There is a much larger attendance than usual, and every
bench is filled. Many worldly people and many strangers
from distant parts have assembled with us, some drawn
by feelings of friendship and good will, but more, it
is feared, by motives of idle curiosity. For to-day
there is to be a marryin' in meetin'. Yes, the anxious
young people, who have been dallying with intentions
for lo! these six weeks, are finally about to
accomplish those intentions and be duly "spliced" in
the good old-fashioned way of the Discipline.
And there you may see them, sitting on the women's
facin' bench, erect and motionless as dead statues,
their eyes fixed on vacancy, their thoughts centered
upon the ceremony that is so soon to take place. They
are the center of attraction to a vast multitude, and
they know it; and this fact gives them much additional
concern, for they are by no means used to notoriety.
By the side of the bride sits her "waiter," her dearest
 and most trusted young woman friend, even our Cousin
Sally, blushing all over like a rose in summer. The
groom is also flanked by his "waiter" in the person
of—would you believe it?—his brother David!
"I don't keer to go out of the fambly for any help," he
said, when twitted on account of his choice of best
man. "Th' ain't no man livin' that knows how to wait on
me better'n our David; and th' ain't no other man
livin' that I'd resk to stand up with me when I'm sure
to be so tarnal skeered and likely to forgit what I
ought to say."
And David had long demurred chiefly on account of his
great bashfulness in the presence of women. "I'll do it
for thee, Jonathan," he said, finally consenting, "
'cause I don't so awfully mind it to walk alongside of
Cousin Sally, anyhow. Everybody knows that her and me's
kinder half-way kin, and I guess they won't be
a-thinkin' that we are getting' sweet on one another.
Yes, I'll stand up with thee, Jonathan, if it skeers
all my toenails clean out'n my boots."
How very stiff and uncomfortable they are, sitting
there on the facin' bench and waiting for the hour of
doom! Jonathan is resplendent in a broad-brimmed beaver
hat, of the natural color, and David looks scarcely
less becoming under his last year's home-made straw,
now newly pressed and bleached for the occasion. The
hands of both are sadly in the way, and their feet, so
large and cumbersome, give them much additional
concern. The day being warm, they have worn their coats
under protest; and their red cotton bandannas are
frequently drawn from their hat crowns in order to mop
the sweat from their troubled brows. What a fearful
experience it must be, and how abashed they must feel,
 sitting there in the women's end of the meetin', with
Esther Lamb and Cousin Sally so close beside them, and
women all around!
And Esther and Sally are as unconcerned as though
nothing were going to happen. How handsome are their
neatly fitting gowns, innocent of all flounces and
furbelows; and how becoming are their new little
bonnets of light brown silk half concealing their
blushful cheeks! From my accustomed seat I can gaze at
them undisturbed. If I were older by twenty years and
should I be choosing a wife, I don't know which one of
the two I would take—Ah! I wouldn't give a snap
for either; for there, just beyond the partition, I
see a third face which makes my heart thump loudly and
my whole being quiver with joy. It is the face of my
Angel, grown a little older, a littler more sedate, but
none the less beautiful.
A half-hour passes in awful silence. I try my best to
be good and to meditate on the good place and the best
method of getting there—as mother had often told
me to do. Nevertheless, in spite of all my efforts, my
eyes and my thoughts will wander to the women's end of
the meetin'—to the occupants of the facin' bench,
but most often to the angelic creature who is but
partially visible by reason of the plainly dressed
maids and matrons who block the women's aisle and
obscure the view. The spirit is quiescent to-day, for
it moves no one to speak—no, not even Joel Sparker
or Margot Duberry. The elders, male and female, sit in
their respective galleries, absorbed in contemplation,
oblivious of the things of time and sense, waiting for
the divine fire. But among the undevout, on the black
benches of the two apartments, symptoms of impatience
begin-  ning to be manifested. The silence is being interrupted
by the shuffling of feet, the rustle of garments, even
the whispering of ill-mannered boys and the giggling of
scatter-pated girls. And yet the elders heed none of
these tokens of unrest.
The minutes drag on by leaden wings. The suspense
becomes unbearable, the silence becomes a mockery. Even
I, Robert Dudley, am becoming infected with the general
nervousness, the growing feeling of impatience and
hilarity. I look to see if my Angel is among the
undevout disturbers of the peace, and she has
disappeared. I fidget in my seat. Is it possible that
we must remain quiet through the whole of another
I see father slyly nudging Levi T. with his elbow. The
sun has reached the noon mark on the window-jamb just
before their eyes. The period of silent waiting is at
last ended. Levi T., in his capacity as assistant head
of the meeting, rises, slowly and with becoming
dignity. From his lofty place in the top gallery he
surveys the impatient assemblage before him; then, as a
profound silence ensues, he makes his official
"I think that, if the minds of all seem clear, the time
has arrived for the marriage of our young friends to be
duly and properly performed."
As he resumes his seat there is a hum of mingled
satisfaction and anticipation. The elders, awakened
from their meditations, raise their heads and look
beneficently happy. There is a general craning forward
of necks, a manifestation of the intensest interest.
Some of the boys stand up on the benches, thus
obstructing the view of the more mannerly people behind
them. The young mothers on the other side of the
partition lift their babies very high in their arms,
perhaps to enable them to see
 the marryin', perhaps to encourage the faltering souls
who are about to embark on the perilous voyage of
Another minute elapses. The bustling little clerk of
the men's meetin' hurries down the aisle with a roll of
parchment in his hand. He takes a position in full view
of the occupants of the facin' bench; he raises the
hand with the parchment roll a very little—a very
little, but the signal is seen and understood by those
for whom it is intended. Our Jonathan and his Esther
join hands and, with their respective waiters, rise
solemnly in the presence of the meetin'. There is an
awesome hush as the four stand up in a stiff row with
the facin' bench behind them. The eyes of the groom and
bride are directed vacantly forward, their faces flush
quickly and then turn pale, their hearts are in a
tumult. The supreme moment has arrived.
The clerk raises the parchment roll again—a very
little, but how tremendous the event that it signals!
Our Jonathan, holding the plump little hand of Esther
in his long lank palm, speaks up in strong but
tremulous tones, repeating the formula prescribed by
"Friends, in the presence of the Lord and her before
you all, I take this my friend, Esther Lamb, to be my
wife, promising with divine assistance to be unto her a
loving and faithful husband until death shall separate
It is observed by those who sit nearest that he gives
Esther's hand an assuring squeeze, perhaps as a mere
signal that her time has come, perhaps to emphasize the
meaning of his words in a special manner. She raises
her expressive eyes and looks squarely at the audience
 and at her grim old grandfather who sits facing her on
this side of the partition. Then, in a low clear voice,
which not half the people can hear, she repeats the
"Friends, in the presence of the Lord and here before
you all, I take this my friend, Jonathan Dudley, to be
my husband, promising with divine assistance to be unto
him a loving and faithful wife until death shall
This is all. The two have proclaimed their vows and
they are now man and wife. No priest has mumbled his
meaningless prayers in their presence; no magistrate
has read to them the questions prescribed by the state;
there has been no formal presentation of the wedding
ring; the bride, poor thing, has not been given away by
her nearest relative—and yet they henceforth,
"until death shall separate them," belong irrevocably
to each other. They, with their waiters, resume their
seats on the facin' bench, and the ceremony of
declaring and attesting follows.
The clerk of the men's meeting is having the greatest
day of his life. He comes forward briskly, carrying his
little official desk, which he places in the aisle
quite near the newly married. Then standing up behind
it, he unrolls the precious parchment, which he has all
along held in his hand. It is the marriage certificate
of Jonathan Dudley and Esther Dudley, his wife. He
proceeds to read it aloud to the assembled audience,
and his tones are so clear and distinct that the
loafers who are whittling around the door of the
post-office, a hundred yards away, hear every word of
it. It is a long and wonderful document, bristling with
"saids" and "aforesaids" and "wherefores" and
"therefores," and giving a full
his-  tory of the marriage from the "givin' in" to its
culmination at the conclusion of to-day's meeting for
worship. As the little man finishes the reading and
lays the unrolled, unfolded certificate down flat on
his desk (with the inkstand upon it to keep it in
place), he looks around at his audience with an air of
triumph and superiority. It is hard to say which of the
two men is to be most envied, the self-important little
clerk or the trembling bridegroom upon the facin'
But hark! The little man raises his hand, he is about
to speak. Let everybody listen.
"Friends," he says, "this certificate of marriage is
now ready for the signatures of witnesses. Members of
the two families and special friends of the two young
people, who may desire to subscribe their names to the
document, may come forward and do so."
He pushes his little desk a trifle nearer to the vacant
end of the facin' bench, he dips his best goose-quill
pen into the ink, and with a genteel flourish of his
left hand, stands waiting to serve the signing
witnesses as they come. Custom and good manners have
decreed that the waiters shall have the precedence in
this last act of the little drama, and therefore Cousin
Sally is the first to affix her name to the immortal
document. Her signature is as round and plump as
herself, but she would have written it a little better
if the ink had been pokeberry juice instead of the
plain black liquid that it is. Then David with supreme
awkwardness attempts to wield the stubborn pen. He has
been practicing his name for the last two weeks, but
when at length the difficult feat is accomplished he
leaves at the bottom of the certificate only an
indistinguishable scrawl that looks like the trail of a
thousand-legged worm through a sea of darkness.
 Other friends and relatives now come forward, and the
signing proceeds briskly and without interruption.
Meanwhile, there is a general movement and more or less
disorder among the spectators on the back benches. Many
of them, realizing that the entertainment is at an end,
are withdrawing from the house, before the meeting is
formally "broke" by the shaking of hands. Others have
left their seats and are crowding forward in the aisles
to get a closer view of the newly married. The minutes
glide by with accelerated speed; the excitement is at
high tide. Then the little clerk, with dripping pen in
hand, makes his final announcement:
"There is still room for three more names as witnesses
to this certificate. If there are any other near
friends or relatives who would like to sign, now is the
time for them to come forward."
There is a slight stir on the other side of the
partition near the spot where I saw my Angel a little
while ago. A well-dressed woman has risen and is going
forward to sign her name. I recognize her as the
stately lady who was so kind to me that day when I was
in Dashville and in Paradise. And Edith is with her!
She is going down the aisle toward the facin' bench;
she is actually taking her seat beside the clerk's
desk! She is truly writing her blessed name at the
bottom of that parchment roll—writing it with
those of the other witnesses to the marriage. She has
surely grown taller since that day in her father's
library, she looks more womanly but every bit as
angelic, she is the same merry Edith—but with
additions and improvements.
She rises from the desk after writing her signatures,
she turns her face for one moment toward the spot where
I am sitting. I fancy that there is a look of
 in her eyes; but the next moment she has turned away
and is lost to sight among the women who are now
crowding down into the aisle.
A sudden impulse comes upon me to write my name
underneath hers on that certificate of Jonathan's. I
slip off my bench and make a brief movement toward the
aisle; but my timidity restrains and prevents me. Every
eye in that vast company seems to be looking directly
at me; and I shrink back, trembling and abashed.
"It's too late now, Bobby," whispers Ikey Bright,
gently punching me with his big fist. "Meetin' 's
I look up at the top gallery, and see father and the
elders shaking hands. The married couple with their
waiters have risen and are pushing their way down the
women's aisle, briefly responding to congratulations as
they pass. The little clerk has folded the marriage
certificate very accurately and neatly, and is tying a
bit of red tape around the parchment, preparatory to
delivering it to the proper authorities for record.
Yes, "meetin' is broke," and nothing remains to be done
but to glide bashfully out-of-doors and prepare to ride
with father and mother to the weddin' dinner at Old
The marryin' in meetin' is at last accomplished.
IV. THE INFARE
And what of the wedding dinner? I have father's word
for it that it surpassed his expectations; but beyond
that, the less said of it the better.
"Well, Lochinvar," inquired the twin teachers, "how
does thee like getting spliced according to
"I like it right smart," he answered. "I like it so
well that I don't never aim to git spliced ag'in as
long as I live."
 And Esther remarked that she felt much the same way.
"It was turble tryin' to have the business a-hangin'
fire so long," added Jonathan; "but I reckon the long
cut was right smart better nor the short one might 'a'
been, after all."
"That's so," she smilingly agreed.
Jonathan's infare, which occurred the following day,
was an event long to be remembered; for it celebrated
not only his home-coming after the wedding but also the
completion and full occupancy of our grand new house.
It marked so, in a certain sense, the end of the era of
innocence in our Settlement and the inevitable triumph
of social progress and worldly ambitions.
The dinner on that occasion was an affair worthy to be
talked about by generations yet unborn. It had been
prepared under the supervision of our Cousin Sally, and
while it was not better than might have been expected,
it evened up the festal matters most wonderfully,
leaving a large balance on our side of the account.
There were many guests present from near and far, and
among them were our friends, the Wilsons and the
Merediths, from Dashville. That is was possible for so
celestial a being as merry Edith Meredith to become a
visitor in our own home surpassed all my wildest
flights of fancy. I could scarcely believe my eyes when
I saw her alight from her grandmother's carriage and,
under mother's pilotage, enter our respectable but
unworthy dwelling. And when, in response to my timid,
awkward greeting, she held out her hand and, smiling
sweetly, said "Good morning, Robert!" my soul was
lifted into Paradise. From that hour and moment, our
front door was a hallowed place at which I always
paused to repeat
 a little prayer; and never afterward, so long as that
home was ours, did I cross the threshold (which her
dear feet has passed) without first pronouncing her
The day was glorious and all nature seemed rejoicing.
The cherry trees were white with blossoms, the . . .
[Note.—These are believed to be the last words
ever penned by the hand of Robert Dudley. The sheet on
which they were written, with the ink not yet dry, was
found on his desk beneath his nerveless arm, when the
housekeeper, coming in and, thinking him asleep,
attempted gently to rouse him. What were his intentions
regarding the continuation of his narrative, it is
impossible to say; but there are reasons for believing
that he did not contemplate carrying it beyond the
story of his boyhood. Among his miscellaneous writings,
however, a number of random sketches and brief notes,
throwing light on different periods of his life, have
been discovered—some scribbled on little scraps of
paper and some jotted down in a vest-pocket memorandum.
Among these are the three little fragments included in
the following chapter, which, if properly interpreted,
will go far toward bridging the chasm between childhood
and age, and completing the story of a long and not
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