The Widow Bedott's Poetry by Frances M. Whitcher

 

YES,—he was one o' the best men that ever trod shoe-leather, husband was, though Miss Jinkins says (she 't was Poll Bingham), she says, I never found it out till after he died, but that 's the consarndest lie, that ever was told, though it 's jest a piece with everything else she says about me. I guess if everybody could see the poitry I writ to his memory, nobody wouldn 't think I dident set store by him. Want to hear it? Well, I 'll see if I can say it; it ginerally affects me wonderfully, seems to harrer up my feelin's; but I'll try. Dident know I ever writ poitry? How you talk! used to make lots on 't; hain't so much late years. I remember once when Parson Potter had a bee, I sent him an amazin' great cheese, and writ a piece o' poitry, and pasted on top on 't. It says:—

Teach him for to proclaim

Salvation to the folks;

No occasion give for any blame,

Nor wicked people's jokes.

And so it goes on, but I guess I won't stop to say the rest on now, seein' there's seven and forty verses.

Parson Potter and his wife was wonderfully pleased with it; used to sing it to the tune o' Haddem. But I was gwine to tell the one I made in relation to husband; it begins as follers:—

He never jawed in all his life,

He never was unkind,—

And (tho' I say it that was his wife)

Such men you seldom find.

(That's as true as the Scripturs; I never knowed him to say a harsh word.)

I never changed my single lot,—

I thought 't would be a sin—

(though widder Jinkins says it's because I never had a chance.) Now 't ain't for me to say whether I ever had a numerous number o' chances or not, but there 's them livin' that might tell if they wos a mind to; why, this poitry was writ on account of being joked about Major Coon, three year after husband died. I guess the ginerality o' folks knows what was the nature o' Major Coon's feelin's towards me, tho' his wife and Miss Jinkins does say I tried to ketch him. The fact is, Miss Coon feels wonderfully cut up 'cause she knows the Major took her "Jack at a pinch,"—seein' he couldent get such as he wanted, he took such as he could get,—but I goes on to say—

I never changed my single lot,

I thought 't would be a sin,—

For I thought so much o' Deacon Bedott,

I never got married agin.

If ever a hasty word he spoke,

His anger dident last,

 

But vanished like tobacker smoke

Afore the wintry blast.

And since it was my lot to be

The wife of such a man,

Tell the men that's after me

To ketch me if they can.

If I was sick a single jot,

He called the doctor in—

That's a fact,—he used to be scairt to death if anything ailed me. Now only jest think,—widder Jinkins told Sam Pendergrasses wife (she 'twas Sally Smith) that she guessed the deacon dident set no great store by me, or he wouldent a went off to confrence meetin' when I was down with the fever. The truth is, they couldent git along without him no way. Parson Potter seldom went to confrence meetin', and when he wa' n't there, who was ther, pray tell, that knowed enough to take the lead if husband dident do it? Deacon Kenipe hadent no gift, and Deacon Crosby hadent no inclination, and so it all come on Deacon Bedott,—and he was always ready and willin' to do his duty, you know; as long as he was able to stand on his legs he continued to go to confrence meetin'; why, I've knowed that man to go when he couldent scarcely crawl on account o' the pain in the spine of his back. He had a wonderful gift, and he wa' n't a man to keep his talents hid up in a napkin,—so you see 't was from a sense o' duty he went when I was sick, whatever Miss Jinkins may say to the contrary. But where was I? Oh!—

If I was sick a single jot,

He called the doctor in—

I sot so much by Deacon Bedott

I never got married agin.

 

A wonderful tender heart he had,

That felt for all mankind,—

It made him feel amazin bad

To see the world so blind.

Whiskey and rum he tasted not—

That's as true as the Scripturs,—but if you'll believe it, Betsy Ann Kenipe told my Melissy that Miss Jinkins said one day to their house, how 't she 'd seen Deacon Bedott high, time and agin! did you ever! Well, I'm glad nobody don't pretend to mind anything she says. I've knowed Poll Bingham from a gall, and she never knowed how to speak the truth—besides she always had a pertikkler spite against husband and me, and between us tew I 'll tell you why if you won't mention it, for I make it a pint never to say nothin' to injure nobody. Well she was a ravin'-distracted after my husband herself, but it's a long story. I 'll tell you about it some other time, and then you'll know why widder Jinkins is etarnally runnin' me down. See,—where had I got to? Oh, I remember now,—

Whiskey and rum he tasted not,—

He thought it was a sin,—

I thought so much o' Deacon Bedott

I never got married agin.

But now he's dead! the thought is killin',

My grief I can't control—

He never left a single shillin'

His widder to console.

But that wa' n't his fault—he was so out o' health for a number o' year afore he died, it ain't to be wondered at he dident lay up nothin'—however, it dident give him no great oneasiness,—he never cared much for airthly riches, though Miss Pendergrass says she  heard Miss Jinkins say Deacon Bedott was as tight as the skin on his back,—begrudged folks their vittals when they came to his house! did you ever! why, he was the hull-souldest man I ever see in all my born days. If I'd such a husband as Bill Jinkins was, I'd hold my tongue about my neighbors' husbands. He was a dretful mean man, used to git drunk every day of his life, and he had an awful high temper,—used to swear like all posset when he got mad,—and I've heard my husband say, (and he wa' n't a man that ever said anything that wa' n't true),—I've heard him say Bill Jinkins would cheat his own father out of his eye teeth if he had a chance. Where was I? Oh! "His widder to console,"—ther ain't but one more verse, 't ain't a very lengthy poim. When Parson Potter read it, he says to me, says he,—What did you stop so soon for?"—but Miss Jinkins told the Crosbys she thought I'd better a' stopt afore I 'd begun,—she 's a purty critter to talk so, I must say. I 'd like to see some poitry o' hern,—I guess it would be astonishin' stuff; and mor'n all that, she said there wa' n't a word o' truth in the hull on 't,—said I never cared two cents for the deacon. What an everlastin' lie!! Why, when he died, I took it so hard I went deranged, and took on so for a spell, they was afraid they should have to send me to a Lunattic Arsenal. But that's a painful subject, I won't dwell on 't. I conclude as follers:—

I'll never change my single lot,—

I think 't would be a sin,—

The inconsolable widder o' Deacon Bedott

Don't intend to get married agin.

Excuse me cryin'—my feelin's always overcomes me so when I say that poitry—O-o-o-o-o-o!