Mrs. Arp Hosts a Candy Party for the Children & Chaos Ensue – Bill Arp, 6/4/1891

Mrs. Arp Hosts a Candy Party for the Children & Chaos Ensue – Bill Arp, 6/4/1891

“What’s all this rumpus about?” I came home to dinner and found the house full and yard full of children-grandchildren
and other children. “Oh, nothing much,” said Mrs. Arp. “I promised them a little party and they have come over to spend
the day, and brought some friends with them.” “Well, but these door-knobs are all stuck up with candy.” “Yes, they had
a candy pulling, and, I expect, have messed up things just like children will. I will wipe off the door-knobs.” “Well, but
here I’ve gone and set down on a lump of it in this chair.” Mrs. Arp smiled and said : “Well, there’s the washboard and
a rag.” I meandered out in the piazza and found candy-deep in everything. The chaps were on the backyard cooking
dinner on a little brick furnace they had built. Some were toting water and some bringing wood, and they had potatoes
and rice and eggs and butter and pepper and everything they could beg from the cook. The waterspout was running
all over everything. I stopped that part of it and surrendered to the rest and retired to my accustomed seat at my desk.
“Who has been here projecting with my pens and letter pads, and turned over my ink stand and messed up my papers?”
“Oh, I don’t reckon they have hurt anything. Rosa wanted to show me how she was learning to write. There was very
little ink in the stand. I wiped of all that was spilt.” I got up and walked in the garden as King Ahaseurus did to let my
choler down, and I found where they had been picking peas and broke the twine that held the vine up-I always stick
my peas with twine and so I came out of the garden to let my choler down somewhere else. I looked all ’round for’ the
children to give them a blessing, but they had become alarmed, for Mrs. Arp had told them to run and hide. “I’ll wear
them out” said I. “I’ll wear them all out, big and little, old and young. I’m awful mad. I am as mad as a mad bull. Broke
down my pea vines!” and I mocked a bull and pawed the dirt. The chaps had run up the ladder and got on the shed
roof of the house and as I pranced and bellowed around they smothered their laughter until I was out of sight and then
they turned loose in full chorus. I found the buggy pulled out of the shed and the whip gone and the calf was tied up
in the back lot with the saddle on, so I took my seat in the front piazza and put my feet on the railing and ruminated.
My thoughts carried me away back to my childhood when I took delight in such things and the whole picture came
before me like the turning of a kaleidoscope.

What a pity that folks can’t always be as happy as when they were childien. About this time Mrs. Arp came out with a
bundle of stuff and remarked that she brought home some pinks and chrysanthemums that must he planted out. “Are
you doing anything?” said she. “I am ruminating,” said I solemnly. “Well you had better ruminate around for the garden
hoe, and I’ll help you put them out-your back needs exercise.” I was picking peas the other morning, and as they were
of the low kind I had to bend over smartly, and by and by when I tried to straighten. up, I couldn’t straighten. There was
a hitch and a pain in my veins, the same old trouble I had one before when I worked in the water half a day damming
up the branch to make a wash hole for the children-so I hurried from the garden to the house half bent and made my
usual fuss for help and sympathy. I was down for two days, and took medicine and chicken soup, and they put a belladona
plaster on my back as big as a letter pad, and it is there yet, and I’m not well by a long shot, but my folks seem to think
I am. If I get up and creep to town they put me to work as soon as I get back. I used to have boys of all sorts and sizes
to wait upon me and to do my bidding, but they have all grown up and left one but one, and he is at school, and when
he isn’t he is oft somewhere at baseball or tennis, or picnicking around. I am the boy now-the waiting boy. I was ruminating,
but I found the hoe and dug around according to orders. Last night at the supper table Mrs. Arp remarked as she was
making the coffee that today was another anniversary. I thought she meant a birthday, for they seem to come about once
a week in the family, and she always wants to make a little present of some sort-a spoon or napkin ring or sleeve buttons,
or something. I tell you what is a fact-where there are ten or a dozen children in a family to start on and they grow up
and get married and multiply and replenish, and the posterity keeps on getting “more thicker, more denser,” as Cabe
says, and-the maternal ancestor is a large hearted woman, these birthday gifts and wedding presents will keep the
old man’s surplus down as effectually as the Republican party keeps it down in the United States Treasury.

It is the easiest thing in the world. I never saw a mother with a numerous flock of lovely offspring but what she wants
a big house and a bushel of money. My wife is always scratching around hunting up some-thing for the children. She
reminds me of an old hen wiih a brood of young chickens, always a clucking and scratching-and she says that I remind
her of an old rooster who every now and then finds a bug or a worm and makes a big fuss and calls up the little chicks,
and just before they get there he gobbles it up himself. No she didn’t mean a birthday. She said that twenty-seven years
ago to-day we were running from the invade as fast as our good horse and a rockaway could carry us. “Just about this
time,” said she, “we were hurrying across Euharlee bridge and I trembled all over for fear it would break in two, for it
vibrated up and down to old Buckner’s heavy trot, but you never slakened up a bit, and we fairely flew through old Van
Wert, and took the mountain road until we got to Mr. Whitehead’s, about dark.” “Yes,” said I, “and we stayed all night there,
and they did the best they could for all the runnagees, but they didn’t have room for the men folks and we slept outdoors
under the wagon shed, and the fleas kept us so lively that we got up in the night and ran through the bushes to brush
them off, just like cattle do when the flies are after them.” “And the next morning about day-light,” said she, “the news
came that the yankees were coming, and we started up that long mountain, and it did seem to me that we never would
get to the top. It must have been three or four miles up, and we felt pretty safe then and stopped awhile to rest, and then
we scooted away to Dallas and rested there for dinner, and that night we camped out somewhere near Powder Springs.
The wagon and our tent and baggage kept up pretty well, but we found out we didn’t have anything to cook in except a
copper pot.” “Yes, I remember,” said I, “and we sent Tip off to a little farm house to borrow a skillet, and he came back
without it and said the old woman told him the old man was washin’ his feet in it, and we would have to wait until he got
through. She said his feet had sores on ’em, and the dish water was powerful good for sores.

Tip tried another place and got a skillet that wasn’t so popular.” “And next morning,” said Mrs. Arp, “we stopped to get
some water at a house, and the well was in the front yard and it was locked with a chain and a padlock, and they wouldn’t
let us have a drop, and you gave the woman 10 cents for a cupful for the baby. Oh, it was just awful.” “I believe,” said I,
“that we had about seven children then.” “Yes,” said she, with a sigh, “poor little half-starved things.” “Why, they enjoyed
it,” said I. “They thought it was a big frolic, and that we were running a race with Joe Johnston, trying to see who would
beat to Atlanta.” “Stella was the baby then,” said my wife,` looking at her earnestly, “a little fretful, black-eyed baby, and
now she is sitting here a mother with a child of her own that is so much like what she was then that some-times I imagine
the child is mine and I am getting ready to make a new run from the yankees.” “May the fowl invaders live long, when the
devil gets them”‘ said I. “They kept you trotting, and you bore it like a heroine; you have seen a good deal of troublous
life, and I’m thankful that now your days are calm and serene.”

Last Updated on April 27, 2021 by Bill Arp

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