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Now how does that strike you? To tell you the truth, I have tried to persuade them not to go into the thing; and I have come square out with their offer, without throwing out any feelers—and I did it in the hope that you would refuse. But I have performed my duty, and will take pleasure in telling them what you say. Hawkins thought again. What has started this sudden excitement about iron? I wonder what is in the wind? At the same time my conscience will not allow me to—. Please alter the figures I named to thirty thousand dollars, if you will, and let the proposition go to the company—I will stick to it if it breaks my heart!

Bodies of Reform: The Rhetoric of Character in Gilded Age America - NYU Press Scholarship

Indeed he scarcely noticed anything or knew what he was about. The man left; Hawkins flung himself into a chair; thought a few moments, then glanced around, looked frightened, sprang to the door——. Fool that I am! Thirty thousand—ass that I am! He plunged his hands into his hair and leaned his elbows on his knees, and fell to rocking himself back and forth in anguish. Hawkins sprang in, beaming:. What sort of ruin do you call that, Si! I saw through the pretty scheme in a second. Catch me at it! He never will comeback. I know it, Si. The next instant he left the house on a run.

But the man was no longer in the town. Nobody knew where he belonged or whither he had gone. Hawkins came slowly back, watching wistfully but hopelessly for the stranger, and lowering his price steadily with his sinking heart.

And when his foot finally pressed his own threshold, the value he held the entire Tennessee property at was five hundred dollars—two hundred down and the rest in three equal annual payments, without interest. There was a sad gathering at the Hawkins fireside the next night. All the children were present but Clay.

I am ready to give up.

Looking backward to the future

I do not know where to turn—I never have been down so low before, I never have seen things so dismal. There are many mouths to feed; Clay is at work; we must lose you, also, for a little while, my boy. He stopped, and was conscious of a blush. There was silence for a moment, and then Washington—now a lank, dreamy-eyed stripling between twenty-two and twenty-three years of age—said:.

Sellers would come for me, I would go and stay with him a while, till the Tennessee land is sold. He has often wanted me to come, ever since he moved to Hawkeye. From what I can hear—not from him of course, but from others—he is not far from as bad off as we are—and his family is as large, too. A stage goes from Swansea, five miles from here. But it would be cheaper to walk. Finish your invention for making window-glass opaque?


I almost knew I could do it, but it was so tedious and troublesome I quit it. I believe I have found out the stuff that will do it, but it kills the hen; so I have dropped that for the present, though I can take it up again some day when I learn how to manage the mixture better. I think they are all good and can all be done, but they are tiresome, and besides they require money.

If you are willing, I will go to St. That will make another mouth less to feed. Buckner has always wanted me to come. Emily and Laura were about the same age—between seventeen and eighteen.

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Emily was fair and pretty, girlish and diffident—blue eyes and light hair. Laura had a proud bearing, and a somewhat mature look; she had fine, clean-cut features, her complexion was pure white and contrasted vividly with her black hair and eyes; she was not what one calls pretty—she was beautiful.

Louis, too, sir. I will find a way to get there. I will make a way. And I will find a way to help myself along, and do what I can to help the rest, too. She spoke it like a princess. Hawkins smiled proudly and kissed her, saying in a tone of fond reproof:. Then she straightened up, folded her white hands in her lap and became a splendid ice-berg. He retired under the table with an apologetic yelp, which did not affect the iceberg. Judge Hawkins had written and asked Clay to return home and consult with him upon family affairs.

He arrived the evening after this conversation, and the whole household gave him a rapturous welcome. He brought sadly needed help with him, consisting of the savings of a year and a half of work—nearly two hundred dollars in money. It was a ray of sunshine which to this easy household was the earnest of a clearing sky. Bright and early in the morning the family were astir, and all were busy preparing Washington for his journey—at least all but Washington himself, who sat apart, steeped in a reverie.

When the time for his departure came, it was easy to see how fondly all loved him and how hard it was to let him go, notwithstanding they had often seen him go before, in his St. Louis schooling days. At Swansea Clay paid his stage fare, stowed him away in the vehicle, and saw him off. Then he returned home and reported progress, like a committee of the whole. Clay remained at home several days. He held many consultations with his mother upon the financial condition of the family, and talked once with his father upon the same subject, but only once.

He looked worn and tired. The younger children, also, seemed relieved of all fears and distresses, and very ready and willing to look to Clay for a livelihood. Within three days a general tranquility and satisfaction reigned in the household. The family were as contented, now, and as free from care as they could have been with a fortune.

It was well that Mrs.

Song of My Self-Help: Whitman’s Rehabilitative Reading

Hawkins held the purse otherwise the treasure would have lasted but a very little while. The younger children were born and educated dependents. They had never been taught to do anything for themselves, and it did not seem to occur to them to make an attempt now. The girls would not have been permitted to work for a living under any circumstances whatever.

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It was a southern family, and of good blood; and for any person except Laura, either within or without the household to have suggested such an idea would have brought upon the suggester the suspicion of being a lunatic. Via, Pecunia!