A Buss from Lafayette:
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"Dickon Weeks says his mother told him that they eat salmagundi on pirate ships."
Hearing the name of one of my chief tormentors brought a momentary blush to my face. "Really?" I asked. "Dickon claims that pirates eat salmagundi? Is not salad rather too girlish a dish for them? I always picture them gnawing on joints of beef. Maybe even bloody joints of beef."
"I think Mrs. Weeks—or perhaps Richard Weeks himself—is confusing two different dishes, Joseph," Prissy said. "Perhaps she is mistaking salmagundi for Solomon Gundy, a kind of pickled fish paste from Jamaica." —A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 1
The room my stepmother referred to was not the upstairs bedroom she shared with Father. For the last two months, she had found difficulty in climbing the very steep stairs, so we had emptied out the large pantry next to the kitchen at the back of the house. We had set up a temporary bedroom for her there, containing only a narrow bed, a small chest of drawers, and a low bookcase. —A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 3
"Prissy pumped water into the sink to rinse the last plate from breakfast. The shallow granite slab, with its small pump and its drain to the outside, was one of the modern conveniences Father had installed in our old colonial house when he had married Mother. —A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 5
"We need at least ten gallons of syrup by Friday, Clara. The strawberries are ripening fast in this heat; we shall have to make them into preserves before this weekend. Oh, and tell Mr. Towne we need at least ten dozen glass jars, a ream of letter paper, a big roll of soft paper, and one large bottle of brandy." —A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 5
I removed my pinafore and hung it on the peg near the door. There was certainly no need to wear an extra layer on what promised to be another scorchingly hot day. If only I could take off my ankle-length pantalettes as well!" —A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 5
When I got to the barn, I greeted Humpty and Dumpty, the two oxen who pulled the plow in the springtime, the wagon at harvest time, and the sledge in the winter. Too bad I cannot ride an ox, I thought. I doubt anyone could put a sidesaddle on Humpty or Dumpty. I patted the noses of the large, gentle, brown beasts and fed each of them a handful of fresh hay before moving on to Feather's stall.—A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 6
Clara's family has a pair of oxen called Humpty and Dumpty that pull plows, wagons, etc. Here is a team of oxen pulling a cart at Old Sturbridge Village. When I was there recently, I asked one of the costumed interpreters there what an ox is, exactly. He told me that it is a steer (castrated bull) that has been trained to pull ploughs, carts, wagons, etc., that is at least 4 years old. Before reaching this age, it is simply regarded as a trained steer.
A video of the oxen which I took at OSV is posted on the Buss Videos & Audios page here.
"Taking the detested sidesaddle off its stand, I put it on Feather and cinched it tight. Once that was done, I took a small chunk of sugar out of my pocket and held it out for Feather to lip happily into her mouth. Then, leading the mare outside to the mounting block, I climbed up, put my left foot into the single stirrup, and carefully settled my right knee around the pommel." —Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 6
"Soon we were passing by the Putney Tavern, a venerable old inn catering to farmers and others traveling with goods to deliver. I always loved to watch the long wagons pulling in and out of the field adjacent to the building, and enjoyed imagining what distant places they came from and were going to. There were some smock-clad drivers cooking breakfast over campfires, and others lifting buckets of water for their horses from the well. I gave them a cheerful wave as I went by." Excerpt From: Dorothea Jensen. —A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 6
"Not all the stories the teachers read had been so enjoyable, however. One in particular, a sickening story named Goody Two Shoes, had a heroine so sweet and, yes, so extraordinarily good that she could give real girls the toothache faster than the hard peppermint candy in Mr. Towne's glass jars. Goody Two Shoes was probably just the sort of person my stepmother wished me to be: the kind of person my cousin Hetty pretended to be when adults were around."—A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 6
I spied Mr. Towne, his gray hair combed forward in the fashionable "Brutus" style, although his receding hairline made this look a bit odd. —A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 7
He leaned over his counter, which was laden as always with large glass jars of pickles, candy, and other delicacies. Behind him, shelves reached to the ceiling, stuffed with items fascinating to the eye. On one wall, the lower spaces held large wooden barrels of brandy, rum, gin, wine, and molasses, with boxes of oranges, lemons, figs, spices, and sugar loaves on the shelves above. My eye was drawn to the other wall, however, where a rainbow of lace, silk, cotton, wool, linen, gingham, and calico occupied most of the shelves. On the very top level were more personal items: hairbrushes, mirrors, pomatums, patent medicines, and combs. My miracle-working lead comb was up there waiting for me. —A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 7
"Well, my girl, just then, what did I see but an open carriage—a most elegant barouche decorated with roses and flags, drawn by four horses. Both the driver and his passenger appeared to be —A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 7
I recently watched a presentation by Sandy Lerner on a Jane Austen Society of North America's virtual annual meeting. She said that modern readers of JA don't realize that a barouche would have been comparable to a Bentley or another costly vehicle as a status symbol. She added that about the same percentage of the 19th C British population owned a barouche as 21st C Americans own private airplanes. Thus Lafayette was traveling in great elegance when he arrived at the huge reception in Concord, NH, on June 22, 1825.
The egg-shaped stagecoach came into view at the other end of the village, and the driver soon pulled his four horses to a stop in front of the store. The leather curtains on the sides of the coach were all rolled up, so we could see that the inside seats were jammed with passengers.—A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 9
Had he grown even taller since I saw him last? Under his well-patched smock, his cotton trousers barely reached his ankles, which certainly hinted that he had.—A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 9
"I darted inside the house and started to sneak up the stairs to change my clothes before Prissy spotted me. When I was only halfway up, however, she called to me from the bottom of the stairs, with Dickon's father, Major William Weeks, just behind her.
Major Weeks was much older than my own father, as Dickon was nearly at the tail end of the major's string of thirteen children. Still, he was of fine address and quite handsome for a man of his age. It occurred to me that Dickon looked very much like his father, except for the white hair, of course. He certainly matched him in height."
—Chapter 12, "A Buss from Lafayette"
Major Weeks was a real person who lived in Hopkinton, N.H, He had served as an aide-de-camp to Washington and so knew Lafayette as a young man. (He sat next to Lafayette at the banquet on the State House grounds in Concord on June 22,1825.)
Major Weeks had many children. Below is a portrait on one of them, Jacob Weeks. (Courtesy of the Hopkinton Historical Society) I simply added one more son into the Weeks brood and named him Richard (or Dickon, as Clara calls him).
I also stood out from the other girls because my dear father had given me a very special gift: a pair of white gloves he bought in Boston, with the image of the famous Marquis printed right on them!"
—A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 12
Mrs. Weeks had sent over plenty of cold fried chicken, a salad made with tomatoes and cucumbers, and some freshly baked Anadama bread. —A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 13
"Marching behind them were twenty companies of New Hampshire militia. Twenty! It was quite a sight, I tell you."
"Was 'the Troop' there?" asked Joss eagerly. "I think its uniforms are better than those of any other militia in New Hampshire!"
"The Troop" was an independent militia company famous for the horsemanship of its riders and the beauty of its horses. My brother yearned to wear one of the Troop's scarlet coats with buff facings and one of its leather, bell-crowned caps with long white feathers tipped in red."—A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 13
After the famous hero had visited the legislature, he came out of the Capitol to find two hundred Revolutionary soldiers, assembled under the command of General Benjamin Pierce, waiting to pay him their respects. After Pierce was formally presented to Lafayette, he presented each individual veteran in turn to the esteemed visitor.
"It was very affecting," said the major. "All the veterans shed tears and some of them sobbed aloud. Many had served under Lafayette at one time or another during the Revolution. In fact, Lafayette remembered a number of them by name!"
Father asked, "Were you able to speak to General Lafayette?"
"Yes, of course. In fact, later I had the honor of sitting right next to him at the huge banquet on the State House grounds. Over six hundred people sat down to dine." —A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 13
Major Weeks reached inside his jacket and pulled out a pretty little fan decorated with a picture of Lafayette. "The town was full of such fripperies and gewgaws sporting his portrait. Handkerchiefs and dinner plates and ribbon badges and such. Dickon bought a couple of things, too." He looked at his son, who did not say a word. "After all, 'twas a truly historical event and no mistake."—A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 14
"Today must be even hotter than yesterday, and here we are standing over a stove!" I took a step back from the Rumford range. "Stirring preserves on the boil is hot work even on a cool day! I could swear that the red bricks of this stove are glowing with heat just as much as I am!"
"Just remember, Clara, we could be standing over an open hearth," Prissy replied. "I am so grateful to your mother for asking Samuel to build her this newfangled stew stove. It is so much easier and safer than cooking with a fireplace." —A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 15
"By the way, Joss, did you know that our very own stepmother here was actually switched with a ferule by a schoolmistress?"
"Really? Stings like the very devil, does it not, ma'am?" Joss winced at the memory."
—A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 15
"You must tell us all about meeting Lafayette, Henrietta," said Prissy, motioning them all to follow her into the parlor and to sit down. "How very interesting that must have been!"
Hetty looked around the room as if in search of the piece of furniture most becoming to her attire, then sank down gracefully on the blue damask sofa. She pulled out a lacy white fan and waved it in front of her face. "La, it was quite wonderful. Such a handsome gentleman! So noble. And so famous!"
- A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 19
What I was facing now was not pleasant at all.
Aunt P. was holding up a boned cotton garment with menacing-looking strings hanging down from metal grommets. "Stays, my dear. I am sorry, but you must wear these under your gown, else it will not hang correctly."
"It looks like an instrument of torture to me. The 'Iron Maiden' and all that," I said.
Aunt P. turned to lace her daughter into just such a contraption. "You shall get used to it, dear, just like Henrietta."
"Tighter, Mama, you must pull the strings tighter. I do not want to look like a dowd!" her daughter said impatiently.
"Oh, very well." I rolled my eyes. "I suppose I can stand it for one night." —A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 21
My stepmother helped me into the stays and laced them up, then said, "Um. There is also this." She held up something that looked even more peculiar than the stays: two small cushions, each with narrow tapes on both sides.
"What on earth is that?" I narrowed my eyes and looked suspiciously at her. "Please do not tell me that I must wear a false bosom!"
Hetty scoffed. "Oh, Clara, you know nothing at all about fashion. Those are the puffs for your sleeves! You tie them around the tops of your arms and stuff them inside the sleeves."
—A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 21
"You have been a witcracker, Miss Clara Hargraves, ever since you were a little bit of a thing. I can still see you now, giggling away at some foolishness or other with your red locks peeking out from under your little pudding cap. You know, I have always thought your hair absolutely glows with good humor."
—A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 22
I curtsied at this pleasing compliment. We then moved past the captain into what was being called "the ballroom" that evening—although it was really just the large dining room at the back of the tavern. It did look particularly grand that evening. Many candles lit up the walls, covered with elegant gold-striped paper, and the tall windows, framed by ivory damask draperies, reflected their glow. Nearly all of the dining tables had been removed to make space for dancing, and the chairs moved to line the walls. —A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 22
A Dickon Weeks dressed in far more elegant clothing than I had ever seen him in before. He looked nothing like a penguin, however. Although his shirt, cravat, and vest were white like the other young men's, his pantaloons were of tan nankeen, and his jacket was a rich green" —A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 24
The sound of the Revere bell came to a stop. This hurried us the last few yards into the church where we quickly sat down in the pews inside our family's box. As always, I looked around at the inside of the sanctuary. Galleries lined the upper walls on three sides. At the front was a tall, imposing pulpit, its floor fully six feet above the one our pews stood on. Over the pulpit was a large wooden canopy, a sounding board that magnified the minister's voice. When I was a little girl, dozing off in the pew next to my mother, I used to fancy I was hearing the voice of God himself.—A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 27
The sound of the Revere bell came to a stop. This hurried us the last few yards into the church where we quickly sat down in the pews inside our family's box. As always, I looked around at the inside of the sanctuary. Galleries lined the upper walls on three sides. At the front was a tall, imposing pulpit, its floor fully six feet above the one our pews stood on. Over the pulpit was a large wooden canopy, a sounding board that magnified the minister's voice. When I was a little girl, dozing off in the pew next to my mother, I used to fancy I was hearing the voice of God himself.
—A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 27
I recently visited Newport, Rhode Island, and saw this sound reflecting dervice hanging above the pulpit in Trinity church. This could be similar to the one in Hopkinton's First Church, although I'm sure this one is much more elaborate (as is the whole church). In the days before microphones and speakers, however, such sounding boards apparently greatly amplified the voice of the minister.
Father leaned forward to put in a word. "There is some talk of replacing the musicians with a seraphim, a reed organ with a keyboard. That would be a loss, I think. I would rather see the lively faces of these friendly fiddlers, er, violinists, up in front than see the back of some stranger seated at a keyboard."—A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 27
At the end of the lengthy sermon, the minister made an announcement somewhat at odds with his previous theme.
"I have heard that the great Nation's Guest is traveling back from Maine today and will be coming through our town tomorrow. There will be a formal reception in front of the Wiggins Tavern at about noon. I urge you all to come to the village to witness this historic occurrence. I hope you younger members of the congregation understand just how great a man General Lafayette is. You will never see his like again."—A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 27
There is a tradition that when Lafayette stopped in Hopkinton on June 27, 1825, he went across to visit the home of Dr. Ebenezer Lerned in order to view the costly French wallpaper there.
"I rode past the crowd and stopped on the other side of the street at Dr. Lerned's house. It was not the most modern home in town, but it was large, dignified, and solid, just like its owner. Hip-roofed, with a huge central chimney, Dr. Lerned's place had old-fashioned, stately windows with twelve panes over twelve panes, unusual in the village. It also had the most enormous door I had ever seen, stretching up nearly seven feet tall." —A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 31
"I slid quickly down from Flame, tied her to the granite hitching post in the front yard, then ran to the door and rapped on it smartly."
A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 31
"The doctor turned, carefully set his glass down on the counter, and picked up the black medical bag that he had set there. When I was a little girl, I had thought that such bags carried by doctors had babies inside them. After all, I had reasoned, when they said they were going to "deliver" babies, they always brought their bags along. I no longer believed this was what actually happened, but I was not quite sure what did. In any case, I was happy to see that the doctor had his bag along, so there would be no delay, whether there was a baby inside or not." —A Buss from Lafayette, Chapter 31