This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
BY WILL M. CARLETON.
GIVE us your hand, Mr. Lawyer: how do you do to-day? You drew up that paper - I s'pose you want your pay. Don't cut down your figures; make it an X or a V; For that 'ere written agreement was just the makin' of me.
Goin' home that evenin' I tell you I was blue, Thinkin' of all my troubles, and what I was goin' to do; And if my hosses hadn't been the steadiest team alive, They'd 've tipped me over, certain, for I couldn't see where to drive.
No - for I was laborin' under a heavy load; No - for I was travelin' an entirely different road; For I was a-tracin' over the path of our lives ag'in, And seein' where we missed the way, and where we might have been.
And many a corner we'd turned that just to quarrel led. When I ought to've held my temper, and driven straight ahead; And the more I thought it over the more these memories came, And the more I struck the opinion that I was the most to blame.
And things I had long forgotten kept risin' in my mind,
Of little matters betwixt us, where Betsey was good and kind;
And these things flashed all through me, as you know things sometimes will When a feller's alone in the darkness, and everything is still.
"But," says I, "we're too far along to take another track, And when I put my hand to the plow I do not oft turn back; And tain't an uncommon thing now for couples to smash in two;" And so I set my teeth together, and vowed I'd see it through.
When I come in sight o' the house 'twas some'at in the night, And just as I turned a hill-top I see the kitchen light; Which often a han'some pictur' to a hungry person makes, But it don't interest a feller much that's goin' to pull up stakes.
And when I went in the house, the table was set for me - As good a supper 's I ever saw, or ever want to see; And I crammed the agreement down my pocket as well as I could, And fell to eatin' my victuals, which somehow didn't taste good.
And Betsey, she pretended to look about the house,
But she watched my side coat-pocket like a cat would watch a mouse; And then she went to foolin' a little with a cup, And intently readin' a newspaper, a-holdin' it wrong side up.
And when I'd done my supper, I drawed the agreement out, And give it to her without a word, for she knowed what 'twas about; And then I hummed a little tunc, but now and then a note Was bu'sted by some animal that hopped up in my throat.
Then Betsey, she got her specs from off the mantel-shelf, And read the article over quite softly to herself; Read it by little and little, for her eyes is gettin' old, And lawyers' writin' ain't no print, especially when its cold.
And after she'd read a little, she gave my arm a touch, And kindly said she was afraid I was 'lowin' her too much; But when she was through she went for me, her face a-streamin' with tears, And kissed me for the first time in over twenty years!
I don't know what you'll think, Sir - I didn't come to inquire - But I picked up that agreement and stuffed it in the fire; And I told her we'd bury the hatchet alongside of the cow; And we struck an agreement never to have another row.
And I told her in the future I wouldn't speak cross or rash If half the crockery in the house was broken all to smash; And she said, in regards to heaven, we'd try to learn its worth By startin' a branch establishment and runnin' it here on earth.
And so we sat a-talkin' three-quarters of the night, And opened our hearts to each other until they both grew light; And the days when I was winnin' her away from so many men Was nothin' to that evenin' I courted her over again.
Next mornin' an ancient virgin took pains to call on us. Her lamp all trimmed and a-burnin' to kindle another fuss; But when she went to pryin' and openin' of old sores, My Betsey rose politely, and showed her out-of-doors.
Since then I don't deny but there's been a word or two; But we've got our eyes wide open, and know just what to do; When one speaks cross the other just meets it with a laugh, And the first one's ready to give up considerable more than half.
Maybe you'll think me soft, Sir, a-talkin' in this style, But somehow it does me lots of good to tell it once in a while; And I do it for a compliment - 'tis so that you can see That that there written agreement of yours was just the makin' of me.
So make out your bill, Mr. Lawyer: don't stop short of an X; Make it more if you want to, for I have got the checks. I'm richer than a National Bank, with all its treasures told, For I've got a wife at home now that's worth her weight in gold.
544 "maud muller, on a summer's day, raked the meadow, sweet with hay."