Sunday, September 24, 2006

oh, ye jigs and juleps!

jon and i had a lovely day yesterday. after a breakfast of waffles & eggs (made by jon), we set out on the motorcycle to find a used book store or two. i was a little disappointed when i first walked into one (the first one we went to had shut down)- it was mostly romance paperbacks. i did find a small classics section, though, which is where i spent my time.... and stumbled upon the perfect used-bookstore find. this small hardcover book is a collection of essays written by virginia cary hudson, a 10-year-old-girl, in 1904. virginia attended an episcopal boarding school (note her denominational observations), and she is a witty and delightful child. the essays were found in 1960 in a locked chest in an attic and published. she has thoughts on all sorts of topics, though her writing shows how easily a 10-year-old mind is distracted! here are some excerpts:

on etiquette at church:
"Before I go into the house of the Lord with praise and thanksgiving, I lift up mine eyes unto the town clock from whence cometh the time to see if I am late. It is not etiquette to be late...
"The Baptist church is next door to our church. They sing as loud as they can all the time we are trying to pray. I bet the Lord can't hear one word we say. The Baptists sing about plunging sinners in a bloody fountain drawn from Emmanuel's veins. We sing about Crown Him Lord of All. I think it is much more ladylike to crown the King than to be plunging around in a bloody fountain. I took the cotton off my sore finger once and stuffed it in my ear on the Baptist side. But just once. My mother attended to that."

on everlasting life:
"When you are dead as a doornail, God gives [Everlasting Life] to you, and you can't get rid of it. You can't buy it, or sell it, or trade it. You have to keep it whether it suits you or not... Bishop Jordan told me Everlasting Life was God's precious gift, and I told him if it was just the same with God, I could think of things I would like better...
"Heaven is sure far away, and hard to get to. You don't hear much talking about Heaven... But you sure hear plenty about Hell at the Baptist Church. When I go with Darthea, that preacher hollers himself red in the face about Hell. When you go to Hell with your Everlasting Life, the devil waves his pitchfork and turns it into Everlasting Damnation, and he builds a fire under you, and you will wail and gnash your teeth. If poor Mrs. Columbia Stonington ever goes to hell, the devil sure will be surprised when it comes her time to stand up and gnash her teeth, because her dentist pulled her teeth out. He just kept on pulling and pulling until they were all gone...
"If I have to go to Hell, I sure hope I go to the one for Episckpalians, and don't, by mistake, get pushed in that horn punching, and tail wagging, red hot blazing on the Baptists are going to have."

and last but not least, virginia's thoughts on education:
"Education is what you learn in books, and nobody knows you know it but your teacher. I asked Mrs. Harris when we were plaiting rags for her kitchen rug what good Marco Polo would ever do me, and Mrs. Harris said education gave you satisfaction, but I had rather be ignorant and have fun than be educated and have satisfaction."

after a few more thoughts on education, she ventures off to tell the story about how she needed tutoring in math, but the woman who was to tutor her wasn't home. she instead enlisted the help of the woman's mother, who, from all descriptions, seems to be the old spinster type. the woman tells virginia to make herself comfortable and help herself to the crumpets... and the wine... we'll pick up there...
"And the wine was in the most beautiful frosted bottle with purple grapes hanging down the sides, and when I poured the wine in the glass, it ran down in the stem and looked so cute. And I drank it all and the crumpets were good, but the wine was better, and by the time I poured me out four or five glasses so I could watch it run down in the stem, Miss Fanny and Maxwell sounded so far away, and the chair seemed so soft and I leaned back and thought about poor little Romulus and Remus having to build Rome on seven hills without any help, and then I heard Miss Fanny say, 'The child is almost asleep, it is time for her nap, drive her home.' And he did.
"And I said to Edith, she's our cook, 'Send for the Doctor,' and she did, and Doctor said he would come, and he did. And Edith said, 'Get in bed,' and I did, and when Dr. Reddings came I was so glad to see him, I just love Dr. Reddings, and I said, 'Cross your heart and hope to die if you ever tell,' and he crossed his heart and hoped to die, and I said, 'I am drunk.'...
"When my mother got home from Middleton on the trolley car, she said plenty. And when I thought she had said everything there was to say, she still had plenty left. And the next day after school she said, 'Put away those roller skates and sit down,' and she reached in the book shelves and blew the dust off of her Women's Christian Temperance Union book and she said, 'Read it every word' and there was a big picture of a green snake wrapped around a wine glass with his tongue sticking out, and I read all about whiskey making people have wild fits so they have to be locked up, and I didn't see why I should have to read all afteroon about whiskey when all I drank was a little wine.
"And now Hallelujah and God forbid. Amen."

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