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   Chapter 22 THE DOC CONCOCTS A PLOT

Tillie: A Mennonite Maid By Helen Reimensnyder Martin Characters: 9721

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


"So you see I'm through with this place!" Fairchilds concluded as, late that night, he and the doctor sat alone in the sitting-room, discussing the afternoon's happenings.

"I was forced to believe," he went on, "when I saw Jake Getz's fearful anxiety and real distress while Tillie remained unconscious, that the fellow, after all, does have a heart of flesh under all his brutality. He had never seen a woman faint, and he thought at first that Tillie was dead. We almost had HIM on our hands unconscious!"

"Well, the faintin' saved Tillie a row with him till he got her home oncet a'ready," the doctor said, as he puffed away at his pipe, his hands in his vest arms, his feet on the table, and a newspaper under them to spare the chenille table-cover.

"Yes. Otherwise I don't know how I could have borne to see her taken home by that ruffian-to be punished for so heroically defending ME!"

"You bet! That took cheek, ain't?-fur that little girl to stand there and jaw Jake Getz-and make him quit lickin' you! By gum, that minds me of sceneries I've saw a'ready in the theayter! They most gener'ly faints away in a swoond that way, too. Well, Tillie she come round all right, ain't?-till a little while?"

"Yes. But she was very pale and weak, poor child!" Fairchilds answered, resting his head wearily upon his palm. "When she became conscious, Getz carried her out of the woods to his buggy that he had left near the school-house."

"How did Absalom take it, anyhow?"

"He's rather dazed, I think! He doesn't quite know how to make it all out. He is a man of one idea-one at a time and far apart. His idea at present is that he is going to marry Tillie."

"Yes, and I never seen a Puntz yet where didn't come by what he set his stubborn head to!" the doctor commented. "It wonders me sometimes, how Tillie's goin' to keep from marryin' him, now he's made up his mind so firm!"

"Tillie knows her own worth too well to throw herself away like that."

"Well, now I don't know," said the doctor, doubtfully. "To be sure, I never liked them Puntzes, they're so damned thick-headed. Dummness runs in that family so, it's somepin' surprisin'! Dummness and stubbornness is all they got to 'em. But Absalom he's so well fixed-Tillie she might go furder and do worse. Now there's you, Teacher. If she took up with you and yous two got married, you'd have to rent. Absalom he'd own his own farm."

"Now, come, Doc," protested Fairchilds, disgusted, "you know better-you know that to almost any sort of a woman marriage means something more than getting herself 'well fixed,' as you put it. And to a woman like Tillie!"

"Yes-yes-I guess," answered the doctor, pulling briskly at his pipe. "It's the same with a male-he mostly looks to somepin besides a good housekeeper. There's me, now-I'd have took Miss Margaret-and she couldn't work nothin'. I tole her I don't mind if my wife IS smart, so she don't bother me any."

"You did, did you?" smiled Fairchilds. "And what did the lady say to that?"

"Och, she was sorry!"

"Sorry to turn you down, do you mean?"

"It was because I didn't speak soon enough," the doctor assured him. "She was promised a'ready to one of these here tony perfessers at the Normal. She was sorry I hadn't spoke sooner. To be sure, after she had gave her word, she had to stick to it." He thoughtfully knocked the ashes from his pipe, while his eyes grew almost tender. "She was certainly, now, an allurin' female!

"So now," he added, after a moment's thoughtful pause, "you think your game's played out here, heh?"

"Getz and Absalom left me with the assurance that at the Saturday-night meeting of the Board I'd be voted out. If it depends on them-and I suppose it does-I'm done for. They'd like to roast me over a slow fire!"

"You bet they would!"

"I suppose I haven't the least chance?"

"Well, I don' know-I don' know. It would suit me wonderful to get ahead of Jake Getz and them Puntzes in this here thing-if I anyways could! Le' me see." He thoughtfully considered the situation. "The Board meets day after to-morrow. There's six directors. Nathaniel Puntz and Jake can easy get 'em all to wote to put you out, fur they ain't anyways stuck on you-you bein' so tony that way. Now me, I don't mind it-them things don't never bother me any-manners and cleanness and them."

"Cleanness?"

"Och, yes; us we never seen any person where wasted so much time washin' theirself-except Miss Margaret. I mind missus used to say a clean towel didn't last Miss Margaret a week, and no one else usin' it! You see, what the directors don't like is your ALWAYS havin' your hands so clean. Now they reason this here way-a person that never has dirty hands is lazy and too tony."

"Yes?"

"But me, I don't mind. And I'm swanged if I wouldn't like to beat out Jake and Nathaniel on this here deal!

Say! I'll tell you what. This here game's got fun in it fur me! I believe I got a way of DOIN' them fellers. I ain't tellin' you what it is!" he said, with a chuckle. "But it's a way that's goin' to WORK! I'm swanged if it ain't! You'll see oncet! You just let this here thing to me and you won't be chased off your job! I'm doin' it fur the sake of the fun I'll get out of seein' Jake Getz surprised! Mebbe that old Dutchman won't be wonderful spited!"

"I shall be very much indebted to you, doctor, if you can help me, as it suits me to stay here for the present."

"That's all right. Fur one, there's Adam Oberholzer; he 'll be an easy guy when it comes to his wote. Fur if I want, I can bring a bill ag'in' the estate of his pop, disceased, and make it 'most anything. His pop he died last month. Now that there was a man"-the doctor settled himself comfortably, preparatory to the relation of a tale-"that there was a man that was so wonderful set on speculatin' and savin' and layin' by, that when he come to die a pecooliar thing happened. You might call that there thing phe-non-e-ma. It was this here way. When ole Adam Oberholzer (he was named after his son, Adam Oberholzer, the school director) come to die, his wife she thought she'd better send fur the Evangelical preacher over, seein' as Adam he hadn't been inside a church fur twenty years back, and, to be sure, he wasn't just so well prepared. Oh, well, he was deef fur three years back, and churches don't do much good to deef people. But then he never did go when he did have his sound hearin'. Many's the time he sayed to me, he sayed, 'I don't believe in the churches,' he sayed, 'and blamed if it don't keep me busy believin' in a Gawd!' he sayed. So you see, he wasn't just what you might call a pillar of the church. One time he had such a cough and he come to me and sayed whether I could do somepin. 'You're to leave tobacco be,' I sayed. Ole Adam he looked serious. 'If you sayed it was caused by goin' to church,' he answered to me, 'I might mebbe break off. But tobacco-that's some serious,' he says. Adam he used to have some notions about the Bible and religion that I did think, now, was damned unushal. Here one day when he was first took sick, before he got so deef yet, I went to see him, and the Evangelical preacher was there, readin' to him that there piece of Scripture where, you know, them that worked a short time was paid the same as them that worked all day. The preacher he sayed he thought that par'ble might fetch him 'round oncet to a death-bed conwersion. But I'm swanged if Adam didn't just up and say, when the preacher got through, he says, 'That wasn't a square deal accordin' to MY way of lookin' at things.' Yes, that's the way that there feller talked. Why, here oncet-" the doctor paused to chuckle at the recollection-"when I got there, Reverend was wrestlin' with Adam to get hisself conwerted, and it was one of Adam's days when he was at his deefest. Reverend he shouted in his ear, 'You must experience religion-and get a change of heart-and be conwerted before you die!' 'What d' you say?' Adam he ast. Then Reverend, he seen that wouldn't work, so he cut it short, and he says wery loud, 'Trust the Lord!' Now, ole Adam Oberholzer in his business dealin's and speculatin' was always darned particular who he trusted, still, so he looked up at Reverend, and he says, 'Is he a reliable party?' Well, by gum, I bu'st right out laughin'! I hadn't ought to-seein' it was Adam's death-bed-and Reverend him just sweatin' with tryin' to work in his job to get him conwerted till he passed away a'ready. But I'm swanged if I could keep in! I just HOLLERED!"

The doctor threw back his head and shouted with fresh appreciation of his story, and Fairchilds joined in sympathetically.

"Well, did he die unconverted?" he asked the doctor.

"You bet! Reverend he sayed afterwards, that in all his practice of his sacred calling he never had knew such a carnal death-bed. Now you see," concluded the doctor, "I tended ole Adam fur near two months, and that's where I have a hold on his son the school-directer."

He laughed as he rose and stretched himself.

"It will be no end of sport foiling Jake Getz!" Fairchilds said, with but a vague idea of what the doctor's scheme involved. "Well, doctor, you are our mascot-Tillie's and mine!" he added, as he, too, rose.

"What's THAT?"

"Our good luck." He held out an objectionably clean hand with its shining finger-nails. "Good night, Doc, and thank you!"

The doctor awkwardly shook it in his own grimy fist. "Good night to you, then, Teacher."

Out in the bar-room, as the doctor took his nightly glass of beer at the counter, he confided to Abe Wackernagel that somehow he did, now, "like to see Teacher use them manners of hisn. I'm 'most as stuck on 'em as missus is!" he declared.

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