Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/167

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49
THE READING-CLUB.

Well, as I was saying, says I, "Hezekiah, we aren't right. I am sure of it." And he said, "Of course not. We are poor sinners, Amy; all poor sinners." And I said, "Hezekiah, this 'poor-sinner' talk has gone on long enough. I suppose we are poor sinners, but I don't see any use of being-mean sinners; and there's one thing I think is real mean."

It was jest after breakfast: and, as he felt poorly, he hedn't gone to the shop yet; and so I had this little talk with him to sort o'chirk him up. He knew what 1 was comin' to, for we hed had the subject up before. It was our little church. He always said, "The poor people, and what should we ever do'?" And I always said, "We never shall do nothin' unless we try." And so, when I brought the matter up in this way, he just began bitin' his toothpick, and said, "What's up now? Who's mean? Amariah, we oughtn't to speak evil one of another." Hezekiah always says "poor sinners," and doesn't seem to mind it; but when I occasionally say "mean sinners," he somehow gits oneasy. But I was started, and 1 meant to free my mind.

So I said, says I, "I was goin' to confess our sins. Dan'l confessed for all his people, and I was confessin' for all our little church.

"Truth is," says I, "ours is alius called one of the 'feeble churches,' and I am tried about it. I've raised seven children, and at fourteen months old every boy and girl of 'em could run alone. And our church is fourteen years old," says I; "and it can't take a step yet without somebody to hold on by. The Board helps us; and General Jones, good man, he helps us,—helps too much, I think,—and so we live along; but we don't seem to get strong. Our people draw their rations every year as the Indians do up at the agency, and it doesn't seem sometimes as if they ever thought of doing any thing else.

"They take it so easy!" I said. "That's what worries me. I don't suppose we could pay all expenses; but we might act as if we wanted to, and as if we meant to do all we can.

"I read," says I, "last week about the debt of the Board; and this week, as I understand." says I, "our application is going in for another year, and no particular effort to do any better; and it frets me. I can't sleep nights, and I can't take comfort Sundays. I've got to feelin' as if we were a kind of perpetual paupers. And that was what I meant when I said, 'It is real mean!' I suppose I said it a little