Dick and I, Chapter 4, 19th Century Unpublished Book by S. B. McKenney

Dick and I

Dick and I by Samuel Bartow McKenney

This manuscript was written before 1881 by Samuel Bartow McKenney. In the transcription I’ve not changed spellings or punctuation unless I absolutely must for coherence. There were no periods in the manuscript and I have added those.

Chapter IV

Are things eternal only for the dead
ls there for man no hope–but this which doomed
His only lasting trophies to be tombs
Yet so it is and the same thirst
For something high and pure above
This withering world which from the first

– 15 –

Make me drink deep of womans love
As the one joy to heaven most near
Of all our hearts can meet with here
Still burns me up still keeps awake
A fever naught but death can slake

Moon’s “Alciphron”

“Let me see this is Sunday what shall we do with ourselves today
Etheridge,” said Rashboy on the Sunday following our adventure on
Chapens Point.

“Lets go to church at E —- and afterwards call on
the Blanchards. It is now four days since we saw them. what Say
you?”

“I am at your service,” he replied.

“But there is no wind and I dislike rowing it is so warm. What
shall we do – Wait for a breeze or pull?”

“I dont think our case is without a remedy,” said he ringing the
bell. “Johnnie,” said he as a boy appeared in answer to his ring,
“run over and tell old Fritz Waxlebaum I want him to row me up to
E —- and tell him to come quick.”

“Yas sur,” replied the boy moving slowly away.

“Here,” said Dick tossing him a dime, “now skedaddle.”

The boy grinned and all his apathy vanished in an instant. He
disappeared like a flash and a moment afterwards we saw his white
head bobbing up and down as he ran through a field of maize on his
errand.

“Wonderful magnetizer that little coin,” said Dick smiling. “It is
the basis of all calculations here. A man measures out his goods
and chattels, his love for a friend or a sweetheart, ay even his
religion by the same measure – money. For instance John Smith
calculates to a penny how much he will gain by befriending Lord
Brown or how much love he can afford to bestow on Fedelia Jones
who has only forty acres of land and three hundred dollars in bank
and indifferent prospects – He also calculates nicely how much of
Heaven he can afford to purchase when a collection is taken up in
church; and if all the audience is watching him will doubtless
purchase more shares than he would with pencil and paper before
him in the privacy of his own office. Although when he gives a
beggar twenty five cents he expects to realize twenty five cents
worth of heaven and then twenty five cents worth of hell thereby
making a hundred percent by the investment. It is wonderful how
dull and far below par celestial stock has become and how few
investments are made. It is really refreshing to see how
indifferent he is as to what branch of Celestial Stocks he makes
his investment whether in the Great Hindu Mission Line or The
Home Mission Line or the Great Moody and Surckey Fillebusters Line.
He thinks they all belong to the same company and has Heaven for
its termince. There is no compassion none of the better promptings
of his humanity in the act. All is profit and loss measured by the
dividend it will pay to self. Excuse my sermonizing Can,” said he
smiling, “I did not wish to bore you.”

“I am not bored in the least I assure you but I am sorry you have
such a poor opinion of the world.”

– 16 –

“I was not speaking of the world – only of the church and that in
a general way. Particularly of its characteristic in the North and
East But here comes Fritz.”

“Grete Moryan, Meester Rashboy! Vat you vant mit old Fritz hey?”

“Want you to row us up to E—?”

“So–vell dees putty varm tay and dey don’t no got sum peer in
dot turn town! So?”

“No – but they have church Fritz and that is just as good,” said
Dick seating himself in the seat of the boat.

“Vell – dots so fur der young fellers und die gels Aber ich gebe
nichts drum fur die madchen.”

“Try this then,” said Dick handing him a small flask of spirits
that he had provided for the occasion.

“Ich thanke sir! Acht by golly dots besser als breachen.”

“Why Fritz,” said I. “You shurely think that preaching and church is
more important than a bottle of grog.”

“Vell – dots so somedimes. Der Luteren Kirch was all right but der
udder kirche der Metodist der Paptist und der pescopal vas all tem
humping vas gute for notting but der preachers und der young
fellers to git mit die gells.”

“How are the other ministers benefitted more than the Lutherin
minister?” I asked.

“You know dot? Vare you lif ven you dont find dot out? Vell – I
tole you Der Metodist preachers don’t care for notting but shikens
und die vemmen der peescopal vant der geld und der paptist dey
vant der shikens die vimmen and auch der gelt all togedder py tam.”

“And how about the Luthern,” I asked.

“Oh. Dots a tifferent ding. Dey vas offel gute men. I vas Luthern
self.”

“Oh! That settles it I suppose,” I replied laughing. “Is your wife
a Lutheran too Fritz?”

“Nein – She belong to der Bot tem Methodist. She go to meedin und
shout und bray und shout und talk about bein in Yesus poosorm Ven
she say dot der breacher he kind yink mit von eye like he say
‘Dots me’ I tole you dey all go to hell togedder.”

“Its the old story over again,” said Dick laughing. “The Methodist
damns the Lutheran and the Lutheran damns the Methodist. The
Episcopalian cusses the Catholic and Presbyterian and the Catholic
cusses them all and so on to the end of the chapter. The only
charitable ones among all is the liberalist or infidels as the
orthadox term them who pities all but curses none.”

The morning was lovely. The sunshine sparkled merrily on the
dancing water that was rippled by a gentle breeze from the

– 17 –

westward. As we neared the little rural village of E— the
chiming of the church bells warned us that we had no time to lose.
Throngs of gaily dressed people of all ages were winding their
way the crooked streets that were shaded numerous forest trees
toward the church. All appeared by their subdued and quiet
demeanor to be impresed by the solemn quiet beauty of the morning.

“Dick don’t you think there is some good in fact a great deal of
good in the people?” I ask as we reached the church door around
which were ( —- ) groups of ladies and gentelmen.

“Certainly there is good in them. There is no one but what
possesses some goodness.”

“But see their subdued solemn looks! How reverential and quiet
they are as if afraid of desturbing the serene and holy quiet of
the day. You will not tell me that this is all by hypocracy.”

“No indeed Etheridge yet I think a little as the old german
proverb says ‘Jader gute mensch haszt Henchelei und Falschheit’.
Every good person has (some) hypocracy and falshood. These people
have been taught since infancy to rever the day. Yet Care how many
of them devotees have not their minds engraved at present with
thoughts of Self. How many do you think are pondering on that
infinite here after or thinking of some way to make their loved
ones happy.”

“I should say rather,” I replied, “that they were thinking of him
who through his great love died that they might live. See the
peaceful reverential expression on the face of that old gray
haired patriarch what but religion could give such a look of
peace to a face that has saw the seasons come and go for so many
years. Let us step nearer and judge by his conversation of what he
is thinking.

We approached the group the gray haired old man was
speaking in a hushed and subdued voice that was slightly tremulous
with age.

“I don’t know what my hogs will do,” said the patriarch solemnly.
The tarnal frost killed all my corn. Things is gitten wors and
wors every year. My wheat didn’t go mor’n twelve bushel to the
acre this year and No 1 is worth a dollar fifteen.”

“Hey year done yer thrashing yet Deacon,” asked one.

“Yes nigh a fortnight ago.”

“Who thrashed for you Deacon?”

“Tom Mahoney.”

“Yew don’t say! That Catholic chap?”

“Coundn’t help it,” replied the patriarch. “He took his pay in them
Jinny Lind potatoes at forty cents a bushel and they wont wurth a
shilling.”

Here they all joined in a solemn chuckle. I moved away utterly
disgusted and entered the church just as the first notes from a
deep toned organ swelled forth in grand solemn cadence a hymn of
praise and thanksgiving to the great Creator. Every one turned to

– 18 –

look at us even the choir and the organist cast hurried glances
from their music at us as we walked up the aisle I wondered what
breach of church etiquette I had been guilty of and took the first
occasion to ask Rashboy what we had done that was amiss that every
one should stare at us so.

“The minister is the only person in the house I vesibly believe
but what is staring at us at this moment. Why is it Dick?”

“Curiosity — the customs of the people here — nothing more. There
is not a tongue present but what will have something to say
concerning us our manners, our dress, everything about us will be
criticised and Judgment passed because we are strangers. You are
at least and I presumed I am to them although they are not all so
to me. It has been twelve years since I was in this church before.”

The minister, an intellectual noble looking man whom aged I should
judge was about 55, now arose and read the morning lesson the 24th
Chapter of Joshua. His enunciation pronounced him a scholor while
the massive forehead strangely marked by hard and deep lines
showed a noble intellect and one that had wrestled hard and long
with many a knotty problem. Lines that perchance that were records
of many a hard fought battle in which he had striven to chain down
his intellect to the stern dark dogmas of his creed. There were
marks of sufferings too about a mouth that large and firm almost
to sternness. Another hymn was sung and then that impressive
silence which denotes expectation prevailed and was only broken by
an occasional ‘ahem’ or cough of some pompous old deacon whos
features were as solemn and santified as if he were in attendance
on his grandmothers funeral. The text was a part of the fifteenth
verse of the twenty fourth chapter of Joshua, “Choose you this day
whom ye shall serve,” which was read twice in a solemn and
impressive manner. The minister proceeded to show the favors that
God had shown to his people commencing with Noah in the time of
the deluge. He spoke of Abraham and the Lords promise to him of
Isaac and Jacob and of his children the lsralites of their
captivity in Egypt of the plague and pestilence sent up on the
Egyptian the slaughter of the first born. Of their escape from
bondage of the Egyptian persuit after them and their (the Egyptian)
destruction and of all the care that the Lord had taken of them
and of the favor that he had confirred on them from the deluge up
to the time of Joshua assembling them together at shechem. He then
spoke of the manner in which the isralite had gone astray into all
manner of wickedness. How they had erected images and become
idolators and so on. He further spoke of the more modern evils and
idolations into which mankind was prown to enter at the present.
How we continually forget God and think only of ourselves. After
showing them their standing he spoke of Gods love and mercy and
his willingness to forgive and receive all them who would turn to
him. He admonished them before chosing whom they should rever to
look well to when their choice would bring them. The sermon was
an able one well and forcibly delivered and I noticed that Rashboy
had paid the closest attention to it.

After church was over Rashboy proposed calling on our friends the
Blanchards. As we strolled along toward the Lake House I
experienced a tumult of strange and varied emotions that were
utterly unknown to me before I was thinking of her by whom I had
been haunted in my dreams as well as in my waking hours ever since
I had first beheld her I was about to see her and converse with

– 19 –

her — How would she receive me? I was a stranger to her — a
very slight acquaintance at most. The service rendered in finding
the child was accomplished almost entirely by Rashboy and if not
what other I was but the merest act – humanity that the most
insignificant clodhopper in Christendom could and would have done.
Beautiful perhaps rich surrounded doubtless by a host of admiring
wealthy and distinguished sutors and adventurers would she care to
cultivate the acquaintance of such a humble person as myself. What
an egregrious fool I had been in allowing myself to think of her
so much. Perhaps she was betrothed already perhaps —–

“”Come Etheridge,” said my friend regarding me with a quiet smile.
“Don’t look so savage man. We are not about to storm a fortress
nor negotiate a war. Smooth out some of those wrinkles or the
ladies will think you have a bit of indigestion or contemplate
suicide. Seriously Con, dont let your fancies run away with your
reason and self possession. If you would conquer others conquer
yourself first.”

“Thanks Dick! for the hint,” I replied as we entered the Hotel.
“I will try and keep my face straight.”

We sent up our cards and waited for the return of the servant in a
small parlor that had a bay window over looking the bay. The
sciene displayed was one indicative of peace and quiet. The water
glittered and sparkled in the sunlight and was dotted with
numerous white sail some of them mere specks in the distance. A
small island about eight miles in circumference and about 2 miles
long lay opposite to the village while beyond the upper end we
could see the main land not over five miles distant. How quiet and
peaceful everything looked! Who would think that a world so
bright and serene could contain aught but peace and content what
cause could there be for war and strife; for emmnity and revenge
and all those heartburnings that are caused by petty animosities
and selfish deeds. A light step on the carpet and the rustle of a
ladies garments caused me to turn round with a start. Miss Hope
Blanchard had entered the room. My face must have shown something
of disappointment in not seeing Inez accompanied by her sister for
she said with a smile as she gave me her hand, “You must excuse
sister Inez we have company and could not both leave. Walk up
stairs gentlemen. Father will be really glad to see you.”

“No. Excuse us Miss Blanchard,” I replied. We have no desire to
force our acquaintance on you and your friends simply because we
were fortunate enough to be of a slight service to you once. We
simply called to learn how Mr. Blanchard was and to see if we
could be of any service to you or him.”

“Father is much better but is not yet able to go out. He will be
grevious I fear when he learns that you refused to see him. He has
asked every day whether you called. Under the circumstances I
presume he would not wish to put himself under any further
obligations to you.”

“My dear lady,” I replied scarcely able to repress a smile at the
woebegon expression of Dicks face. “You have entirely
misapprehended my friends meaning. Nothing would give either of us
greater pleasure than to be your friends if we thought you would
really desire it independently of any feelings of gratitude that
you may imagine is due us.”

– 20 –

“Gentlemen I take you at your word,” replied she smiling, “and if
your acquaintance ever becomes intrusome I shall tell you so in
plain English. For the present I shall insist on you both
remaining to dinner.”

“l am your most devoted subject Miss Blanchard,” I replied, “and as
long as your commands incur nothing more difficult than remaining
to a good dinner I think you may rely on my loyalty.”

“It may prove to be a more severe test than you imagine. Allow me
to conduct you to our parlor.”

The company present consisted of the minister the Rev. Timothy
Hughes and his daughter Irene, Miss Ursula Whipple relict of the
late Deacon Whipple, a young lady Miss Viva Joyce a ( —– ) yankee,
Miss Aleve Mayer a southern girl of spanish descent, two gentlemen,
Mr Phineas Smythe and exquisitely dressed young gentleman with a
profusion of jewelry, and Mr Alvan Adams a dark haired man about
thirty whom I instinctively disliked. My dislike may have been
hightened by the fact of his being seated near Inez Blanchard and
conversing with her in a low tone. She came forward, however as
soon as l had paid my respects to her father who was seated in a
large arm chair and I imagined appeared to be glad of an excuse to
leave Adams. She took my arm and resented me to the ladies present
while her sister did a like office for my friend.

“Shall I introduce you to the gentlemen Mr. Etheridge.”

“To the minister only I will not trouble you to an introduction
to the others.”

She cast a quick inqusitive glance into my face but said nothing.

“Do you find these indian summer days in Minnesota as pleasant as
the climate in the Sunny South,” I asked seating her in the alcove
of a window that offered a fine view down the lake.

“I think they are delightful but I have not been able to enjoy
them much since Papas illness.”

“I am sorry: This weather is of short duration here and one
ought to be able to enjoy while it lasts.”

“Papa is nearly well now and I trust will be quite recovered by
Wednesday when we are to have and excursion to Crane Island. Will
you join us Mr Etheridge?”

“With pleasure,” I replied “if —-”

“If! We can admit of no ‘if‘s’!” said she.

“The remedy lies in your hands.”

“Tell me how to apply it and I will remove that ‘if’.”

“By accepting a seat in my yacht and confirring on me the honor
of being your especial escort guide and guardian on that day,” I
replied.

– 21 –

“Certainly Sir if you consider it an honor to be encumbered with
such a bundle of responsibility.”

“Treason!” exclaimed Miss Hope who leaning on Rashboys arm had
approched us unobserved. “Is this your boasted loyalty sir?”

“When the sovereign forgets the subject it is only fair that the
subject should offer his allegiance elsewhere,” I replied.

“And how long before you will foreswear your lost allegiance,” she
asked smiling.

“Never!” I answered so solemnly Miss Inez raised her dark eyes to
my face while a soft blush stone into her cheaks.

“Not if the soveregn forgets the subject?”

“No. My allegiance is final and,” I continued only loud enough for
Inez to hear, “I trust my soveregn will never forget her subject.”

“She never will,” she replied in the same low tone while Dick and
Miss Hope passed on.

“Nor never allow another to hold to a higher place in her esteem?”
I asked.

“Never,” she rep1ied.

Her hand lay at her side on the sofa. I clasped it in mine and the
little soft fingers gave back a faint pressure to my clasp.
Prudish maids and fastidious maidens will doubtless feel shocked
at a young couple having loved and tacitly acknowledged their love
the second time they ever met – but I cannot help it. The only
excuse I have to offer is that what I have related is truth. And
as the truth is or should be what we are all seeking after, my
apology ought to suffice. Moreover I can not so sure but what we
would all marry more hapily if we would consult those fine
intuative feelings of our nature more and our pecuniary interests
less.

Be that as it may I know that I have never regretted the
conversation recorded above.

– 22 –

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