The Hired Man And Floretty
--'Speakin' o' _bread_--
When she come here to live,' The Hired Man said,--
'Never ben out o' _Freeport_ 'fore she come
Up here,--of course she needed '_sperience_ some.--
So, one day, when yer Ma was goin' to set
The risin' fer some bread, she sent Florett
To borry _leaven_, 'crost at Ryans'--So,
She went and asked fer _twelve_.--She didn't _know_,
But thought, _whatever_ 'twuz, that she could keep
_One_ fer _herse'f_, she said. O she wuz deep!'
Some little evidence of favor hailed
The Hired Man's humor; but it wholly failed
To touch the serious Susan Loehr, whose air
And thought rebuked them all to listening there
To her brief history of the _city_-man
And his pale wife--'A sweeter woman than
_She_ ever saw!'--So Susan testified,--
And so attested all the Loehrs beside.--
So entertaining was the history, that
The Hired Man, in the corner where he sat
In quiet sequestration, shelling corn,
Ceased wholly, listening, with a face forlorn
As Sorrow's own, while Susan, John and Jake
Told of these strangers who had come to make
Some weeks' stay in the town, in hopes to gain
Once more the health the wife had sought in vain:
Their doctor, in the city, used to know
The Loehrs--Dan and Rachel--years ago,--
And so had sent a letter and request
For them to take a kindly interest
In favoring the couple all they could--
To find some home-place for them, if they would,
Among their friends in town. He ended by
A dozen further lines, explaining why
His patient must have change of scene and air--
New faces, and the simple friendships there
With _them_, which might, in time, make her forget
A grief that kept her ever brooding yet
And wholly melancholy and depressed,--
Nor yet could she find sleep by night nor rest
By day, for thinking--thinking--thinking still Upon a grief beyond the doctor's skill,--
The death of her one little girl.
'That-air besetment of Floretty's,' said
The Hired Man,--'_singin_--she _inhairited_,--
Her _father_ wuz addicted--same as her--
To singin'--yes, and played the dulcimer!
But--gittin' back,--I s'pose yer talkin' 'bout
Them _Hammondses_. Well, Hammond he gits out
_Pattents_ on things--inventions-like, I'm told--
And's got more money'n a house could hold!
And yit he can't git up no pattent-right
To do away with _dyin'_.--And he might
Be worth a _million_, but he couldn't find
Nobody sellin' _health_ of any kind!...
But they's no thing onhandier fer _me_
To use than other people's misery.--
Floretty, hand me that-air skillet there
And lem me git 'er het up, so's them-air
Childern kin have their popcorn.'
'Things to _eat_,'
The Hired Man went on, ''s mighty hard to beat!
Now, when _I_ wuz a boy, we was so pore,
My parunts couldn't 'ford popcorn no more
To pamper _me_ with;--so, I hat to go
_Without_ popcorn--sometimes a _year_ er so!--
And _suffer'n' saints!_ how hungry I would git
Fer jest one other chance--like this--at it!
Many and many a time I've _dreamp_', at night,
About popcorn,--all busted open white,
And hot, you know--and jest enough o' salt
And butter on it fer to find no fault--
_Oomh!_--Well! as I was goin' on to say,--
After a-_dreamin_' of it thataway,
_Then_ havin' to wake up and find it's all
A _dream_, and hain't got no popcorn at-tall,
Ner haint _had_ none--I'd think, '_Well, where's the use!_'
And jest lay back and sob the plaster'n' loose!
And I have _prayed_, what_ever_ happened, it
'Ud eether be popcorn er death!.... And yit
I've noticed--more'n likely so have you--
That things don't happen when you _want_ 'em to.'
Returning, with a letter, which she laid
Upon the kitchen-table while she made
A hasty crock of 'float,'--poured thence into
A deep glass dish of iridescent hue
And glint and sparkle, with an overflow
Of froth to crown it, foaming white as snow.--
And then--poundcake, and jelly-cake as rare,
For its delicious complement,--with air
Of Hebe mortalized, she led her van
Of votaries, rounded by The Hired Man.