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Tillie: A Mennonite Maid By Helen Reimensnyder Martin Characters: 11473

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

Tillie still lay on the kitchen settee, her father sitting at her side, when the doctor and Sammy arrived. The other children had all been put to bed, and Mrs. Getz, seated at the kitchen table, was working on a pile of mending by the light of a small lamp.

The doctor's verdict, when he had examined his patient's tongue, felt her pulse, and taken her temperature, was not clear.

"She's got a high fever. That's 'a all the fu'ther I can go now. What it may turn to till morning, I can't tell TILL morning. Give her these powders every hour, without she's sleeping. That's the most that she needs just now."

"Yes, if she can keep them powders down," said Mr. Getz, doubtfully. "She can't keep nothin' with her."

"Well, keep on giving them, anyhow. She's a pretty sick child."

"You ain't no fears of smallpox, are you?" Mrs. Getz inquired. "Mister was afraid it might mebbe be smallpox," she said, indicating her husband by the epithet.

"Not that you say that I sayed it was!" Mr. Getz warned the doctor. "We don't want no report put out! But is they any symptoms?"

"Och, no," the doctor reassured them. "It ain't smallpox. What did you give her that she couldn't keep with her?"

"I fed some boiled milk to her."

"Did she drink tea?" he inquired, looking profound.

"We don't drink no store tea," Mrs. Getz answered him. "We drink peppermint tea fur supper, still. Tillie she didn't drink none this evening. Some says store tea's bad fur the nerves. I ain't got no nerves," she went on placidly. "Leastways, I ain't never felt none, so fur. Mister he likes the peppermint."

"And it comes cheaper," said Mister.

"Mebbe you've been leavin' Tillie work too much in the hot sun out in the fields with you?" the doctor shot a keen glance at the father; for Jake Getz was known to all Canaan Township as a man that got more work out of his wife and children than any other farmer in the district.

"After school, some," Mr. Getz replied. "But not fur long at a time, fur it gets late a'ready till she gets home. Anyhow, it's healthy fur her workin' in the fields. I guess," he speculated, "it was her settin' up in bed readin' last night done it. I don't know right how long it went that she was readin' before I seen the light, but it was near morning a'ready, and she'd burned near a whole candle out."

"And mebbe you punished her?" the doctor inquired, holding his hand to Tillie's temples.

"Well," nodded Mr. Getz, "I guess she won't be doin' somepin like that soon again. I think, still, I mebbe used the strap too hard, her bein' a girl that way. But a body's got to learn 'em when they're young, you know. And here it was a NOVEL-book! She borrowed the loan of it off of Elviny Dinkleberger! I chucked it in the fire! I don't uphold to novel-readin'!"

"Well, now," argued the doctor, settling back in his chair, crossing his legs, and thrusting his thumbs into the arm-holes of his vest, "some chance times I read in such a 'Home Companion' paper, and here this winter I read a piece in nine chapters. I make no doubt that was a novel. Leastways, I guess you'd call it a novel. And that piece," he said impressively, "wouldn't hurt nobody! It learns you. That piece," he insisted, "was got up by a moral person."

"Then I guess it wasn't no novel, Doc," Mr. Getz firmly maintained. "Anybody knows novels ain't moral. Anyhow, I ain't havin' none in my house. If I see any, they get burnt up."

"It's a pity you burnt it up, Jake. I like to come by somepin like that, still, to pass the time when there ain't much doin'. How did Elviny Dinkleberger come by such a novel?"

"I don't know. If I see her pop, I 'll tell him he better put a stop to such behaviors."

Tillie stirred restlessly on her pillow.

"What was the subjeck of that there novel, Tillie?" the doctor asked.

"Its subjeck was 'Iwanhoe,'" Mr. Getz answered. "Yes, I chucked it right in the stove."

"'Iwanhoe'!" exclaimed the doctor. "Why, Elviny must of borrowed the loan of that off of Teacher-I seen Teacher have it."

Tillie turned pleading eyes upon his face, but he did not see her.

"Do you mean to say," demanded Mr. Getz, "that Teacher lends NOVELS to the scholars!"

"Och!" said the doctor, suddenly catching the frantic appeal of Tillie's eyes, and answering it with ready invention, "what am I talkin' about! It was Elviny lent it to Aunty Em's little Rebecca at the HOtel, and Teacher was tellin' Rebecca she mustn't read it, but give it back right aways to Elviny."

"Well!" said Mr. Getz, "a teacher that would lend novels to the scholars wouldn't stay long at William Penn if MY wote could put her out! And there 's them on the Board that thinks just like what I think!"

"To be sure!" the doctor soothed him. "TO be sure! Yes," he romanced, "Rebecca she lent that book off of Elviny Dinkleberger, and Teacher she tole Rebecca to give it back."

"I'll speak somepin to Elviny's pop, first time I see him, how Elviny's lendin' a novel to the scholars!" affirmed Mr. Getz.

"You needn't trouble," said the doctor, coolly. "Elviny's pop he GIVE Elviny that there book last Christmas. I don't know what he'll think, Jake, at your burnin' it up."

Tillie was gazing at the doctor, now, half in bewilderment, half in passionate gratitude.

"If Tillie did get smallpox," Mrs. Getz here broke in, "would she mebbe have to be took to the pest-house?"

Tillie started, and her feverish eyes sought in the face of the doctor to know what dreadful place a "pest-house" might be.

"Whether she'd have to be took to the pest-house?" the doctor inquiringly repeated. "Yes, if she took the smallpox. But she ain't takin' it. You needn't worry."

"Doctors don't know near as much now as wh

at they used to, still," Mr. Getz affirmed. "They didn't HAVE to have no such pest-houses when I was a boy. Leastways, they didn't have 'em. And they didn't never ketch such diseases like 'pendycitis and grip and them."

"Do you mean to say, Jake Getz, that you pass it as your opinion us doctors don't know more now than what they used to know thirty years ago, when you was a boy?"

"Of course they don't," was the dogmatic rejoinder. "Nor nobody knows as much now as they did in ancient times a'ready. I mean back in Bible times."

"Do you mean to say," hotly argued the doctor, "that they had automobiles in them days?"

"To be sure I do! Automobiles and all the other lost sciences!"

"Well," said the doctor, restraining his scorn with a mighty effort, "I'd like to see you prove it oncet!"

"I can prove it right out of the Bible! Do you want better proof than that, Doc? The Bible says in so many words, 'There's nothing new under the sun.' There! You can't come over that there, can you? You don't consider into them things enough, Doc. You ain't a religious man, that 's the trouble!"

"I got religion a plenty, but I don't hold to no SICH dumm thoughts!"

"Did you get your religion at Bethel rewiwal?" Mrs. Getz quickly asked, glancing up from the little stocking she was darning, to look with some interest at the doctor. "I wanted to go over oncet before the rewiwal's done. But now Tillie's sick, mebbe I won't get to go fur all. When they have rewiwals at Bethel they always make so! And," she added, resuming her darning, "I like to see 'em jump that way. My, but they jump, now, when they get happy! But I didn't get to go this year yet."

"Well, and don't you get affected too?" the doctor asked, "and go out to the mourners' bench?"

"If I do? No, I go just to see 'em jump," she monotonously repeated. "I wasn't never conwerted. Mister he's a hard Evangelical, you know."

"And what does he think of your unconwerted state?" the doctor jocularly inquired.

"What he thinks? There's nothing to think," was the stolid answer.

"Up there to Bethel rewiwal," said Mr. Getz, "they don't stay conwerted. Till rewiwal's over, they're off church again."

"It made awful funny down there this two weeks back," repeated Mrs. Getz. "They jumped so. Now there's the Lutherans, they don't make nothin' when they conwert themselves. They don't jump nor nothin'. I don't like their meetin's. It's onhandy Tillie got sick fur me just now. I did want to go oncet. Here 's all this mendin' she could have did, too. She 's handier at sewin' than what I am, still. I always had so much other work, I never come at sewin', and I 'm some dopplig at it."

"Yes?-yes," said the doctor, rising to go. "Well, Tillie, good-by, and don't set up nights any more readin' novels," he laughed.

"She ain't likely to," said her father. "My childern don't generally do somepin like that again after I once ketch 'em at it. Ain't so, Tillie? Well, then, Doc, you think she ain't serious?"

"I said I can't tell till I've saw her again a'ready."

"How long will it go till you come again?"

"Well," the doctor considered, "it looks some fur fallin' weather-ain't? If it rains and the roads are muddy till morning, so 's I can't drive fast, I won't mebbe be here till ten o'clock."

"Oh, doctor," whispered Tillie, in a tone of distress, "can't I go to school? Can't I? I'll be well enough, won't I? It's Friday to-morrow, and I-I want to go!" she sobbed. "I want to go to Miss Margaret!"

"No, you can't go to school to-morrow, Tillie," her father said, "even if you're some better; I'm keepin' you home to lay still one day anyhow."

"But I don't want to stay home!" the child exclaimed, casting off the shawl with which her father had covered her and throwing out her arms. "I want to go to school! I want to, pop!" she sobbed, almost screaming. "I want to go to Miss Margaret! I will, I will!"

"Tillie-Tillie!" her father soothed her in that unwonted tone of gentleness that sounded so strange to her. His face had turned pale at her outcries, delirious they seemed to him, coming from his usually meek and submissive child. "There now," he said, drawing the cover over her again; "now lay still and be a good girl, ain't you will?"

"Will you leave me go to school to-morrow?" she pleaded piteously. "DARE I go to school to-morrow?"

"No, you dassent, Tillie. But if you're a good girl, mebbe I 'll leave Sammy ast Teacher to come to see you after school."

"Oh, pop!" breathed the child ecstatically, as in supreme contentment she sank back again on her pillow. "I wonder will she come? Do you think she will come to see me, mebbe?"

"To be sure will she."

"Now think," said the doctor, "how much she sets store by Teacher! And a lot of 'em's the same way-girls AND boys."

"I didn't know she was so much fur Teacher," said Mr. Getz. "She never spoke nothin'."

"She never spoke nothin' to me about it neither," said Mrs. Getz.

"Well, I 'll give you all good-by, then," said the doctor; and he went away.

On his slow journey home through the mud he mused on the inevitable clash which he foresaw must some day come between the warm-hearted teacher (whom little Tillie so loved, and who so injudiciously lent her "novel-books") and the stern and influential school director, Jacob Getz.

"There MY chanct comes in," thought the doctor; "there's where I mebbe put in my jaw and pop the question-just when Jake Getz is makin' her trouble and she's gettin' chased off her job. I passed my word I'd stand by her, and, by gum, I 'll do it! When she's out of a job-that's the time she 'll be dead easy! Ain't? She's the most allurin' female I seen since my wife up't and died fur me!"

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