But good land! I knowed all about the Louisana Purchase; I knowed it come into our hands in 1803, that immense tract of land, settlin’ forever in our favor the war for supremacy on this continent between ourselves and England, and givin’ us the broad highway of the Mississippi to sail to and fro on which had been denied us, besides the enormous future increase in our wealth and population.
I knowed that between 1700 and 1800 this tract wuz tossted back and forth between France and Spain and England some as if it wuz a immense atlas containing pictured earth and sea instead of the real land and water.
It passed backwards and forwards through the century till 1803 when it bein’ at the time in the hands of France, we bought it of Napoleon Bonaparte who had got possession of it a few years before, and Heaven only knows what ambitious dreams of foundin’ a new empire in a new France filled that powerful brain, under that queer three-cornered hat of hisen when he got it of Spain.
But ‘tennyrate he sold it in 1803 to our country, the writin’s bein’ drawed up by Thomas Jefferson, namesake of our own Thomas Jefferson, Josiah’s child by his first wife. Napoleon, or I spoze it would sound more respectful to call him Mr. Bonaparte, he wanted money bad, and he didn’t want England to git ahead, and so he sold it to us.
He acted some as Miss Bobbett did when she sot up her niece, Mahala Hen, in dressmakin’ for fear Miss Henzy’s girl would git all the custom and git rich. She’d had words with Miss Henzy and wanted to bring down her pride. And we bein’ some like Miss Hen in sperit (she had had trouble with Miss Henzy herself, and wuz dretful glad to have Mahala sot up), we wuz more’n willin’ to buy it of Mr. Bonaparte. You know he didn’t like England, he had had words with her, and almost come to hands and blows, and it did come to that twelve years afterwards.
But poor creeter! I never felt like makin’ light of his reverses, for do not we, poor mortals! have to face our Waterloo some time durin’ our lives, when we have fought the battle and lost, when the ground is covered with slain Hopes, Ambition, Happiness, when the music is stilled, the stringed instruments and drums broken to pieces, or givin’ out only wailin’ accompaniments to the groans and cries of the dyin’ layin’ low in the dust.
We marched onward in the mornin’ mebby with flyin’ colors towards Victory, with gaily flutterin’ banners and glorious music. Then come the Inevitable to crush us, and though we might not be doomed to a desert island in body, yet our souls dwell there for quite a spell.
Till mebby we learn to pick up what is left of value on the lost field, try to mend the old instruments that never sound as they did before. Sew with tremblin’ fingers the rents in the old tattered banners which Hope never carries agin with so high a head, and fall into the ranks and march forward with slower, more weary steps and our sad eyes bent toward the settin’ sun.