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Well when they was all gone, the king he asks Mary Jane how they was off for spare rooms, and she said she had one spare room, which would do for Uncle William, and she’d give her own room to Uncle Harvey, which was a little bigger, and she would turn into the room with her sisters and sleep on a cot; and up garret was a little cubby, with a pallet in it. The king said the cubby would do for his valley-meaning me.
So Mary Jane took us up, and she showed them their rooms, which was plain but nice. She said she’d have her frocks and a lot of other traps took out of her room if they was in Uncle Harvey’s way, but he said they warn’t. The frocks was hung along the wall, and before them was a curtain made out of calico that hung down to the floor. There was an old hair trunk in one corner, and a guitar box in another, and all sorts of little knickknacks and jimcracks around, like girls brisken up a room with. The king said it was all the more homely and more pleasanter for these fixings, and so don’t disturb them. The duke’s room was pretty small, but plenty good enough, and so was my cubby.
That night they had a big supper, and all them men and women was there, and I stood behind the king and the duke’s chairs and waited on them, and the niggers waited on the rest. Mary Jane she set at the head of the table, with Susan along side of her, and said how bad the biscuits was, and how mean the preserves was, and how ornery and tough the fried chickens was-and all that kind of rot, the way women always do for to force out compliments; and the people all knowed everything was tip-top, and said so-said “How do you get biscuits to brown so nice?” and “Where, for the land’s sake did you get these amaz’n pickles?” and all that kind of humbug talky-talk, just the way people always does at a supper, you know.
And when it was all done, me and the hare-lip had supper in the kitchen off of the leavings, whilst the others was helping the niggers clean up the things. The hare-lip she got to pumping me about England, and blest if I didn’t think the ice was getting mighty thin, sometimes. She says: “Did you ever see the king?” “Who? William Fourth? Well, I bet I have-he goes to our church.” I knowed he was dead years ago, but I never let on. So when I says he goes to our church, she says: “What-regular?” “Yes-regular. His pew’s right over opposite ourn-on t’other side the pulpit.” “I thought he lived in London?” “Well, he does. Where would he live?” “But I thought you lived in Sheffield?” I see I was up a stump. I had to let on to get choked with a chicken bone, so as to get time to think how to get down again. Then I says: “I mean he goes to our church regular when he’s in Sheffield. That’s only in the summer-time, when he comes there to take the sea baths.” “Why, how you talk-Sheffield ain’t on the sea.” “Well, who said it was?” “Why, you did.” “I didn’t, nuther.” “You did!” “I didn’t.” “You did.” “I never said nothing of the kind.” “Well, what did you say, then?” “Said he come to take the sea baths-that’s what I said.” “Well, then! how’s he going to take the sea baths if it ain’t on the sea?” “Looky here,” I says; “did you ever see any Congress-water?” “Yes.” “Well, did you have to go to Congress to get it?” “Why, no.” “Well, neither does William Fourth have to go to the sea to get a sea bath.” “How does he get it, then?” “Gets it the way people down here gets Congress-water-in barrels. There in the palace at Sheffield they’ve got furnaces, and he wants his water hot. They can’t bile that amount of water away off there at the sea. They haven’t got no conveniences for it.” “Oh, I see, now. You might a said that in the first place and saved time.” When she said that, I see I was out of the woods again, and so I was comfortable and glad. Next, she says: “Do you go to church, too?” “Yes-regular.” “Where do you set?” “Why, in our pew.” “Whose pew?” “Why, ourn-your Uncle Harvey’s.” “His’n? What does he want with a pew?” “Wants it to set in. What did you reckon he wanted with it?” “Why, I thought he’d be in the pulpit.” Rot him, I forgot he was a preacher. I see I was up a stump again, so I played another chicken bone and got another think. Then I says: “Blame it, do you suppose there ain’t but one preacher to a church?” “Why, what do they want with more?” “What!- to preach before a king? I never see such a girl as you. They don’t have no less than seventeen.” “Seventeen! My land! Why, I wouldn’t set out such a string as that, not if I never got to glory. It must take ‘em a week.” “Shucks, they don’t all of ‘em preach the same day-only one of ‘em.” “Well, then, what does the rest of ‘em do?” “Oh, nothing much. Loll around, pass the plate-and one thing or another. But mainly they don’t do nothing.” “Well, then, what are they for?” “Why, they’re for style. Don’t you know nothing?” “Well, I don’t want to know no such foolishness as that. How is servants treated in England? Do they treat ‘em better ‘n we treat our niggers?” “No! A servant ain’t nobody there. They treat them worse than dogs.” “Don’t they give ‘em holidays, the way we do, Christmas and New Year’s week, and Fourth of July?” “Oh, just listen! A body could tell you hain’t ever been to England, by that.
Why, Hare-l-why, Joanna, they never see a holiday from year’s end to year’s end; never go to the circus, nor theatre, nor nigger shows, nor nowheres.”
“Nor church?” “Nor church.” “But you always went to church.” Well, I was gone up again. I forgot I was the old man’s servant. But next minute I whirled in on a kind of an explanation how a valley was different from a common servant, and had to go to church whether he wanted to or not, and set with the family, on account of it’s being the law. But I didn’t do it pretty good, and when I got done I see she warn’t satisfied. She says: “Honest injun, now, hain’t you been telling me a lot of lies?” “Honest injun,” says I.
“None of it at all?” “None of it at all. Not a lie in it,” says I. “Lay your hand on this book and say it.” I see it warn’t nothing but a dictionary, so I laid my hand on it and said it. So then she looked a little better satisfied, and says: “Well, then, I’ll believe some of it; but I hope to gracious if I’ll believe the rest.” “What is it you won’t believe, Joe?” says Mary Jane, stepping in with Susan behind her. “It ain’t right nor kind for you to talk so to him, and him a stranger and so far from his people. How would you like to be treated so?” “That’s always your way, Maim-always sailing in to help somebody before they’re hurt. I hain’t done nothing to him. He’s told some stretchers, I reckon; and I said I wouldn’t swallow it all; and that’s every bit and grain I did say. I reckon he can stand a little thing like that, can’t he?” “I don’t care whether ‘twas little or whether ‘twas big, he’s here in our house and a stranger, and it wasn’t good of you to say it. If you was in his place, it would make you feel ashamed; and so you oughtn’t to say a thing to another person that will make them feel ashamed.” “Why, Maim, he said-” “It don’t make no difference what he said-that ain’t the thing. The thing is for you to treat him kind, and not be saying things to make him remember he ain’t in his own country and amongst his own folks.” I says to myself, this is a girl that I’m letting that old reptle rob her of her money!
Then Susan she waltzed in; and if you’ll believe me, she did give Hare-lip hark from the tomb!
Says I to myself, And this is another one that I’m letting him rob her of her money! Then Mary Jane she took another inning, and went in sweet and lovely againwhich was her way-but when she got done there warn’t hardly anything left o’ poor Hare-lip. So she hollered.
“All right, then,” says the other girls, “you just ask his pardon.” She done it, too. And she done it beautiful. She done it so beautiful it was good to hear; and I wished I could tell her a thousand lies, so she could do it again.