The general dreariness of the landscape was depressing. Nature herself seemed in a lethargic trance, and her name was mud.
But with a house to furnish and twenty-five enfeebled acres to resuscitate, one must not mind. Advanced scientists assure us of life, motion, even intelligence, appetite, and affection in the most primitive primordial atoms. So, after a little study, I found that the inhabitants of Gooseville and its outlying hamlets were neither dead nor sleeping. It was only by contrast that they appeared comatose and moribund.
Indeed, the degree of gayety was quite startling. I was at once invited to “gatherings” which rejoiced in the paradoxical title of “Mum Sociables,” where a penalty of five cents was imposed on each person for speaking (the revenue to go toward buying a new hearse, a cheerful object of benevolence), and the occasions were most enjoyable. There was also a “crazy party” at Way-back, the next village. This special form of lunacy I did not indulge in—farming was enough for me—but the painter who was enlivening my dining-room with a coating of vivid red and green, kindly told me all about it, how much I missed, and how the couple looked who took the first prize. The lady wore tin plates, tin cans, tin spoons, etc., sewed on to skirt and waist in fantastic patterns, making music as she walked, and on her head a battered old coffee pot, with artificial flowers which had outlived their usefulness sticking out of the spout; and her winning partner was arrayed in rag patchwork of the most demented variety.
“Youdorter gone” said he; “’twas a great show. But I bet youder beaten the hull lot on ’em if you’d set your mind on’t!”
My walls were now covered with old-fashioned papers, five and ten cents a roll, and cheap matting improved the floors. But how to furnish eleven rooms? This brings me to—
“Going, going, gone.”
Next came the excitement of auctions, great occasions, and of vital importance to me, as I was ambitious to furnish the entire house for one hundred dollars.
When the head of a family dies a settlement of the estate seems to make an auction necessary. I am glad of the custom, it proved of invaluable service to me, and the mortality among old people was quite phenomenal at Gooseville and thereabouts last year. While I deeply regretted the demise of each and all, still this general taking off was opportune for my needs.
There were seventeen auctions last season, and all but two were attended by me or my representatives.