Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/414

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
386
HOSPITALITY.

as if it had been purposely constructed for holding the numerous progeny expected to result from the happy union.

The black boy was engaged in grinding some coffee. Bread was prepared by the fair hands of the bride, and placed on a flat board in front of the fire. The bacon and eggs already murmured and spluttered in the frying-pan, and a pair of chickens puffed and swelled on a gridiron over the embers, in front of the hearth. The cloth was laid, and every thing arranged, when the clattering of hoofs announced the return of the husband. In he came, bearing a two-gallon keg of cider. His eyes sparkled with pleasure as he said, "Only think, Eliza; father wanted to rob us of the strangers, and was for coming here to ask them to his own house, just as if we could not give them enough ourselves; but here's the drink—Come gentlemen, sit down and help yourselves." We did so, and I, to enjoy the repast, took a chair of the husband's making in preference to one of those called Windsor, of which there were six in the cabin. This chair was bottomed with a piece of deer's skin tightly stretched, and afforded a very comfortable seat.

The wife now resumed her spinning, and the husband filled a jug with the sparkling cider, and, seated by the blazing fire, was drying his clothes. The happiness he enjoyed beamed from his eye, as at my request he proceeded to give us an account of his affairs and prospects, which he did in the following words:—"I will be twenty-two next Christmas-day," said our host; "My father came from Virginia when young, and settled on the large tract of land where he yet lives, and where with hard working he has done well. There were nine children of us. Most of them are married and settled in the neighbourhood. The old man has divided his lands among some of us, and bought others for the rest. The land where I am he gave me two years ago, and a finer piece is not easily to be found. I have cleared a couple of fields, and planted an orchard. Father gave me a stock of cattle, some hogs, and four horses, with two Negro boys. I camped here for most of the time when clearing and planting; and when about to marry the young woman you see at the wheel, father helped me in raising this hut. My wife, as luck would have it, had a Negro also, and we have begun the world as well off as most folks, and, the Lord willing, may——but, gentlemen, you don't eat; do help yourselves—Eliza, maybe the strangers would like some milk." The wife stopped her work, and kindly asked if we preferred sweet or sour milk; for you must know, reader, that sour milk