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An Old Fashioned Sleigh Ride

An Old Fashioned Sleigh Ride image
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Kind reader, I ani old now and have forgotten many things. But never shall I forget my first sleigh ride in western New York, when on a visit to my uncle Timothy Barton, some forty-four years ago. Perhaps you were acquainted with uncle Tim, or some one like him. He was a large man, very fleshy ; his heart overflowing with goodness, fond of jokes, and would enjoy a hearty laugh as well as any person I ever saw. Uncle Timothy had two sons, Harlow and Thomas, both active young men, one eighteen years of age, the other twenty ; and ready at the drop of the bat to engage in any thing that would créate a little innocent sport. And there were five daughters in the family, Lucy, Emma, Caroline, Josephine, and Flora. Lucy, the oldest, was in her twenty-fourth year, very agreeable in conversation, oxeept when she was so unfortunate as to soil or otberwise iüjure her clothing, at such times she was peeviah and fretful. Etnma was twenty-two years of age, black eyes, auburn.'feair, of au amiable disposi tion, kind to all and therefore a real pet in the family, and all her requests were sure to be granted. Caroline was in her eixteenth year, a perfect and bewitching little compound of loveliness, goodness, and sunshius. She generally pagsed her time in assistiug her mother to perform the various duties of the hgurehold. - Josephine and Flora were younger, nne fourteen, the other eleven, they had never been farther from home than to their grandmother's, whose resideqce fas at the distance of some eight miles. It was on one afternoon in Dccemben betwoen Christmas and New Year's, Emma and I were sitting by the window viewing the large snow flakes as they were chasing each other like white doves coming down from the sky. There had been a heivy fall of snow the day previous, and it was now in depth about twenty inches and as light as feathero. - The trees and ehrubbery in the yard had all put on their white robes, as in token of peace, and Harlow and Thomas were in the street having a game of snow-balling; and old Rover, the watch-dog, was wallowing through the snow up to bis back, getting his share of the sport. I looked at Emma and saw a smile gather" ing on her countenance as she said to me, "cousin what a fine time it will be to-morrow for a sleigh ride to grandniotheï's, and I will ask father about it this very minute," and away abe went into the sitting room to make known her wishes. Uncle Tim owned a splendid pair of gray horses, and only the week previous had purchased a new sleigh, a silver plated harness, two buffalo robes and a new whip ; and uncle Tim declared we should have the first use of them, and Harlow and Thomas might go with the sleigh and horses the next day in the afternoon, and carry as many as could ride, and cautioned us not to forget his compliments and best wishes to the old lady. There was great excitement and bustle in the old domicile that evening. The fur gloves, capes, muffs and tippets were brought forth from their concealment from the moths during the hot Summer tnonths, and brushed up and made ready for the occasion. Aunt was called upon to give her opinión as to what dresses wonld be the most suitable and appropriate for her daughters to were the next day ; and it was deeided that Lucy should wear her dark figured merino, a üplendid dvesa, and it fitted to a dot, but she was foarful it might get soiled or torn, and she did really hope Thomas would not spit his tobáceo juiue on it, for he was awful careless sometimes. Emma wore her plaid silk dresa, red, white, and blue, a splendid thing, and her bonnet was a new oue, it carne from the milliners only the day previous, covered wi'h feathérs, a thing of perfect beauty. Caroline wore her light pink dress, a present from her uncle Peter. She cut and made it herself, and trimed it with buttons and silk cord, and uncle Tim said there were more buttons on her dress than he had worn on his coatB for many a year. And as 10 o'clock had now arrived, wc bado aunt and unole Tiuiothygood night and retired to rest with our heads full of the subject of sleighriding, we were soon in the anus of Morpheua enjoying pleasant dreains, such as riding o'er hill and dale, io vehicles of light wicker work drawn by a inultitude of Fairies. We were up by 5 o'oloek the next inorning, for uncle was an early riaer, and would have uo sleepy heads around him iu the moruing. Harlow took one of the horses directly after breakfast and rode to town a distance of thrce milea to purchase a pair of fur gloves. He soon returued and when he entered the house hia ear locks were all covered with frost. He said it.was a aevere cold morning, and we would need all tb e iurs and buffalo robes we could muster ii we ventured on a sleigh-ride that day. We told him not to mind the cold, for we would be ready at 1 o'clock, and precisely at one. Harlow and Thomas with the aleigh and horses were in waiting at the front gate, we quickly put on our furs, jumped into the sleigh, wrapped thebuffalo robes around us, and we were ready to start. - Thomas thought wo had better drive around the corner to uncle Lemuel's, and invite cousin Ella to ride with us; we did so, and Thomas found her at home, and nis friend, Mr. Wood, was there also, (a young gentleman who wasjsomewhat par' iial to cousin Ella,) so he invited them to join us in the ride ; they cheerfully accepted the invitation, wero well plcased with the arrangement, got into the sleigh and we were soon on our way again. We met many sleighs loaded with young peopie who passed us quickly with their merry laugh mingliug with the music of the belle. Harlow drove very fast, and as the distance was only eight milos we were soon in aight of grandmother's residence; a log house which had been built some tweuty-eigbt years. The ure-place was a large one, with great stone jambs betweeu whioh they buried wood six or seven feet in length, and the chimney top where the srnoke went up was a monster, it had a throat like the cráter of Mount Etna. Truly I could stand on the hearth look out of the chimney, and view the long trailing branches of a lurge elm tree that stood in the yard. When we drove up to the front gate we all jumped out except Harlow, and ran for the house. We met our grandpareuts at the door, they were overjoyed to see us, and we. were greeted with a hearty welcome. We were aoon eeated around " large sparkling fire, such a oni as I had uot seen for years; it would bear aome comparisoo to Nebunhadcezzar's furnace when in full blast in ancien t times. And as eoon as Harlow and grandfather had put the horses in the atable and retumed to the house, grandmothcr was passing around the eider and apples, hickory nuts and molassas candy, to all of which we did ampie justice. - The old lady had a chicken pie and pi urn pudding in the oven. Grandma, said Flora, how did you know we were coming here to day ! She said Harlow sent word in the morning by one of her neighbora. Grrandfather soon had a fire kindled in their best room, to which we adjourned in order to give graüdmother a chanoe lo set the long table. All was juiet and still for a few rnoments, until Emiiu requested Mr. Wood to break up the quaker meeting by starting some play. Well said he, what will you have. Some proposed " Crambo," some " Button," some '''Thread the Needie," but Thomas thought " Snap and Catch Them," was altogether the best; at length it was decided to have a game of each in their regular order, and when we got through we all agreed that Thomas was right in choosing the last play, for the girls cheeks were as red as rosea, and Emma was overheard whispering to cousin Ella, that she should think the girls had kissing euough that time, for she had never seen the like in all her days. Presently the door was opened, and we were invited to tea; we took our seats around the long table covered with an abundance of everything good in the shane of roast pig, chicken pie, pluin pudding, apple pies, pickles, cookies, cheese, tarts, gingerbread, molasses and honcy, and my private opinión publinly expressed, is that we all paid our best respects to a portion of each. After tea we adjourned again to grandmother's best room, and requested Harlow and Emma to regale us with a íew good songs. They wero excellent singers, and after mauy urgent requests they coinmenced, and while we gare them our undivided attention, the) gave us "Perry's Victory," "Jackson's Victory," ''The lied, White, and Blue," " Star Spangled Banner," " American Taxation," and many others to numerous to mention, all the way down from the " Wild Mountain Top," to the " Beauties oí the Glen." Grandfather was highly pleased with the siDging, the old gentleman's eyesglistened when he heard the " Star Spangled Banner," but wheu Einina with her sweet voico sung to us the " American Taxatiou," tho old nian's heart was touched, tcars came to his eyea; for it brought to his recollection many thrilling incidents through which he had passed in his younger days. And after tho singing closed, the good old man took bis big chair and sat down in our midst, aud told us of some of the battles of the Revolution in which he had taken an active part, and related some of the suffcrings and hair breadth escape ho had oxperienced, and pointed to his old musket and big powder hora then hanging over his bed room door as his coinpanious during the mighty struggle, to all of which we listened with good attention and the greatest pleasure. As the time had now arrived for us to journey homeward, grandmother brought from the cellar two glass jars of currant wino, handed one to Lucy, the other to Caroline, and told them to see they were not broken, but give them to their mother as a present, together with her good wishes ; the girls said they would do so with mucb pleasure. Luey looked out of the window and saw Harlow and Thomas coming from the barn with the team, we quickly put on our furs and shawls, got into the sleigh, bade our dear old grandparents good bye, reoeiv6d their blessing, aud were ready to finish our sleigh-ride. Harlow pulled his fur cap over his ears, gave his whip a crack, undaway we went over the road with the velocity of the wind. Mr. Wood commenced relating a very interesting story, and it was decided by the girls that as there were uiauy angles or turns in the road, that each one in rotation should teil stories or sing songs from one angle in the road to another, until we reached home. With our hearts full of glee, we eujoyed ourselves finely, and when we carao to the last angle but one, it was Emma's turn to sing, and she pitched into " Pop goes the Weasel," and as this was something new to most of us, it caused much shouting and laughing, which waked up Deacon Wilsou's old dog Towser, who jumped over the fence at the turu of the road and barked fiercely, just as Emma was closing the last strain of " Pop goes the Weasel." The horses juinped quickly one side, there was a crash and a screain - and we were lying in a snowdrift, struggling for dear life. Harlow was the first one on his feet who said "by gingo, now I guess we've done it." A part of the sleigh was there, but the horses with the tongue-roller and whiffletrees had gone home on doublé quick. Harlow had lost one of his fur gWes, Lücy had broken her jar of currant wine and ruined her dress; and Caroline had done the same thiug, and as Josephine was falling she caught hold of the skirt of Thomas' coat and toro it up the back almost to the collar; Emma carne out all right except her bonnet, that had fallen from her head and Mr. Wood feil plump on top of it, and when she picked it up U looked about as mueh like a bonnet as would an einpty satchel. Ella had lallen 'with hor elbow in Mr. Wood's face and given bim a black eye, and Flora had lost one of her overshoes, and as soon as Thomas Jiad brushed the snow out of his bosom. he declared he would give Deacon Wilson's old Towser a button some day, and that was what he would. Harlow said we would freeze if we staid here rauch longer, so we started for home, a distauce of about fifty rods. We had walked but a short distanco when wo carne to a snow drift about three feet in depth. Lucy said she never could walk through it n this world, never ! It was impossible N Thomas naid we must have do impossibilities in this case, it was necessary to make a trial, so the efl'ort was made, the feat accomplished, but no one need inquire how it was done, for we all agreed then and there to give no such information to outsiders. As soon as we had passed the drift, we met unole Timothy upon the run, and nearly out of breath, expecting to fiud some of us dead along the road somewhere. Harlow gave him a brief history cf the affair, and uncle Tim told us to run as fast as poss ble or our feet would be frozen. We obeyed his directions, and I presume to say,no oue ever saw crinoliue pass over the road on foot with such velocity as it did that eveuing. We were soon enjoying the luxury of a fine sparkling fire, remarking upon the joyful aud sad events of the past day. - Aud when uncle Timothy saw the rent in Thomas' coat, he said it was the shortest waisted behind, and had the longest skirts of any ooat he ever saw, which set us all to laughing, and uncle Tim laughed unJ til he shook all over like a big lump of elly. Thomas reoeived tbe joke very nndly and gT6 it as his opiuion that the whole company would neod to undergo sorae repairs before they coranienced another sleigh-ride. And when únele Tiin got through laughing he took his handkerchief and wiped thetearsfrom hisiface, and with a sober countenance said, it put him íd mind of the old maxim, " that all earthly pleasures must come to an end." Yes, replied Caroline, quickly, but who would have thought that Olir ploasures would have been cut short so euddenly right there at the turn of the road, whüe Emma was singing "Popgoes the Woasel." Here ended our sloigh-ride with a foot race. The next morning having finished niy visit, I bade this happy family adieu, and took the stage for my homo nenr the city of Roehester, and it has so happened that I have never seeu one oí the family lince. Souie eight years ago, I called at their old residence while on a journey to the State of Ohio, and when I arrived at the top of the hill iu front ol the house, I stopped my horse, let down my buggy top, and took a view of the premisos - There was the house in nearly its former shape, except a new and well finished verandah in front. The barn had been moved to make room for a larger and better one. To the right of the hou=e was the maple grove, and to the left the orchard reaehing away to the foot of the hill near the banks Tif Pearl Brook, where its ehrystal waters were rippling and dancing across the road as in former davs. I saw in the door yard the Mayduke cherry, the yellow Spanish, Trumpet Flower, and Mountain Ash. - Here the skillful hand had been ernployed to combine the useful and ornamental. The proprictor had done much to improve, bcautify, and adorn the premises, and truly it was a delightful residence. But oh ! how ehanged in other respects. A surly MastifF growled at me at the entrance of the front gateThere was no unele Timothy to bid me welcome. The house iu which I had enjoyod so many happy hours and received so many aets of kinduess was occupied by strangers. And in the little family burying ground, beneath the branches of a weepiug willow where the cheorful song of the lark was heard in springtime, were two graves ; where unele Timothy and aun t Ruth were lyingsideby side. With a sad heart I read their n:imes on the eold marble erected to tluir memory, and I eould not suppresa the tear of sorrow as I thought of their many vir'.ues, and of the many blessings and favors I liad received at their hands. They had walk ed happily and lovingly together through the journey of life, and like the last rays of the setting sun, they departed, rejoioing in the hopes of aglorious morning to come. Now, gentío reader, lest 1 weary your patience with a long narrative, I wil] close, by wishing you health, happiness, and long life, with every other blessing wLich your gooduess and virtue shal] merit.


Old News
Michigan Argus