ON MARRIN WIDDERS.
BY FRANK MARKUM.
Raccoon Bottom Missoory, Febuawary 1, 1844.
Dere Pik—Times is changed mitily sense I rit to you last. If you ar a cingle man, Pik taik my advice and stay so ; or, if you “ will” marry—if you ‘must’ hev a wyf—never permit yourself to be overcum’d by a widder !—Them’s the sentiments of one who’s tried and noes !
Oh, Pik ! I kotch’d a Tartar when I kotch’d the Widder Knox—‘ and’ no mistaik ! Howsumdever, I’m no wus off then Major Whetstone, ony, as his’n is the oldest, he has sum reasonabel prospeck of gettin rid of his bargain sum time or anuther ; but as to me—spar my feelins !
But I tuck my pen in hand, not so much to inform you of my own privait grievances, as to giv you the jineral noose of Raccoon Bottom and vycinity. We’ve had rather dull times sense I last rit you ; but now that the reg’lar season has sot in for rake downs and jollifications, I may hev sumthing occasionally to kommunicate. Our fust “ King-bawl” for the season tuck plais on Noo-ears Eve, and was jinerally, attended ; but few suckomstances okkur’ d, howsumdever, wuth mentionin. One wus------But may-be, friend Pik, you never wus at a King-bawl ? Well, I’ll tell you wat a King-bawl is. See, it is a fashion in this kuntry, when the reg’lar spreein season cums round, for sum wun of the settlers to giv a sort of tea-party, ony thar’s no tea—but a good deal of whiskey, and plenty of fiddlin and dancin ! Well, at this party the managers, or the “ Kings” of the next bawl is selected, and so on—managers bein appinted at every bawl for the next wun, thruwout the winter. But the way these managers or Kings is selected is a caution ! It is this :----Four of the purtiest galls in the settlements gits artificial roses, and when the boys aint awar of thar purpose, pounces on them that they want for thar Kings, gives ‘em a smackin kiss, and twists the roses in thar buttonholes ! That’s wat they call crownin on ‘em. Well, partly out of a jest, and partly bekause the gall was ashamed to kiss wun of the young gentlemen, Squire Wilkins’s da’ter pops the crown on to me, and says—“Thar, Gineral ! if Mrs. Markum won’t be jealous, I’ll taik you for my King.’ Lord ! how Mrs. Markum snorted !—She riz rite up, and says she—“ You kantankerish varmint ! will you dar to act that way rite afore my eyes ?”—and the way that she pitched into the poor gall wus perticklar ! I was a little sorry for the young critter at fust, but she showed good pluck, and wus soon doin her work rite hansum. We clar’d a ring for um, and jerushy, how they fit ! I wus in hopes for a wile that Mrs. Markum would say the word, but she had better wind than I thort for, and put in her licks the better the warmer she got. It was soon plain that the gall was gitten the wust of it ; so lettin’ on as though it was on my wife’s akkount, I maid a signal to part ‘em, and okkordin they wus soon seperated.—Bets at fust was purty heavy on the gall, but tewards the konklusion, they wus three to wun on Mrs. Markum. Konsiderable of a fuss wus kick’d up by some of the betters, bekase the fite was interrupted, but jinerally they wus satisfied when they heerd the parties say they’d have it out sum other time.
This little flare-up of course induced me, like Cæsar, “ to put aside the crown,” so I passed it over to one of the gall’s backers in the fite, who wus mitely pleased at her pluck, and called her his “ little Vick”—I suppose bekause she was so vixenish. This youngster is a konsiderable of a wag—a brother of a certain gentleman who had a mare “ out of—Condition” on a late mountain trip ; and wile my hand is in, I’ll tell you one of his jokes played off on the okkasion of the bawl to which he wus maid a king that nite.
It is a custom for the kings, above-mentioned, to treat thar queens to sum little jimcrank or other, previous to the evening of thar bawl-doin’s. For the purpose of purchasing sumthing of this kind, the young gentleman alluded to, went, with his brother-kings, up to Raccoonville, the day after the tea party.—When they got thar, says they to him, “ as you hev bin a king afore, we’ll leave it with you to buy the fixens, and we’ll pay for ‘em.” “ Sartain,” says he ; “ I’ll do it to obleege you.”—Well, wat does he do, friend Pick, but he goes and he buys three pair of patent spring garters, and says he to the boys, says he, “ here’s sum noo fashioned necklaces I’ve bought for you ; the galls will be mitily stuck up about ‘em.—They wus all the store-keeper had, or I’d a bought a par for my own queen—but it don’t make no difference ; I’ll put her off with sumthin else.” The youngsters wus satisfied, and all went on snug. The bawl cum on, and wus opened as usual by the kings and thar queens. The galls wus dressed to death, and seem’d petickelarly in fine sperits—all except Squire Wilkins’s da’ter, and that wus bekause she had no necklace.—Onfortunately, to git her into a good humor, her king telled her the joke—and of course she couldn’t keep it ; it got rite out, and the way them kings got thar ears box’d wus particklar ! The young gentleman who play’d the prank like to a got his share of the boxin’ too, but he soon laugh’d ‘em into a good humor agin, for he’s a feller nobody kan be long mad at. Besides he winked to the young men, and said sumthing in Latin about “ homminy, suet,” and one thing or other, which, Dr. Nash said, meant “ evil to him who evil thinks.” The boys let on they ‘onderstood him, and were all soon over thar pet.
But I must close this letter. I am in very poor sperits to rite about any thing, pertickelarly frolickin, and maybe have intruded too much of my dullness already. I hev seen mitey little satisfaction sense I hev bin a merrid man, and long to see the grass agin, so that I can get a little recreation on the plains. Talk about honey-moons and all that sort of thing ! Pik, I tell you thar’s more of the moon than the honey—it’s all moonshine !
Feb. 2, 1844.
Dere Pik—I open my letter to inform you of an orful axsident that’s just okkur’d to Mrs. Markum. She has turned as black as the ace of spades ! Sir, the way of it was this. Dr. Nash has bin lecturin lately up to Raccoonville on Mesmerism, or some such thing.—Well, he got a good many convarts, and for a while everybody turned into mesmerisers—Among the rest, a big buck nigger got at it, and mesmerised all the darkies in the settlement. As if that wusn’t enuf, he cums up to my klearin this mornin when I was over to a nabers, and mesmerises Mrs. Markum. The result, of course, wus that my wif turned black and the darky white ! Thar’s a fix, dere Pik, for a man to be in ! What will be the end of it, heaven noes.
Yours, in much tribulation of sperit,
FRANK MARKUM, Jin. Mo. Milishy.
P. S. Take Sam Weller’s advice and mine, Pik, and never merry a widder !
Yours, &c . F. M.
N. B. Sense writin the above, Dr. Nash has bin over and given my wif “ the reverse pass,” but she’s purty dingy yit. Yours, &c., F. M.
Source: New York Spirit of the Times 14.4 (23 March 1844): 39. University of Virginia Alderman Library.
Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.
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