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The End of the World: A Love Story By Edward Eggleston Characters: 5764

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

The reader must understand that all this time Elder Hankins continued to bombard Clark township with the thunders and lightnings of the Apocalypse, continued to whirl before the dazed imaginations of his rustic hearers the wheels within wheels and the faces of the living creatures of 'Zek'el, continued to cipher the world out of existence according to formulas in Dan'el, marched out the he-goat, made the seven heads and ten horns of the beast do service over and over again. And all the sweet mysteries of Oriental imagery, the mystic figures which unexpounded give so noble a depth to the perspective of Scripture, were cut to pieces, pulled apart, and explained, as though they were tricks of legerdemain. Julia was powerfully impressed, not by the declamations of Hankins, for she had sensibility enough to recoil from his vivisection of Scripture, though she had been all her life accustomed to hear it from other than Millerites, but she was profoundly affected by the excitement about her. Her father, attracted in part by the promise that there should be no marrying there, had embraced Millerism with all his heart, and was in such a state of excitement that he could not attend to his business. Mrs. Anderson was in continual trepidation about it, though she tried not to believe it. She was on the point of rebelling and declaring that the world should not come to an end. But on the whole she felt that the government of the universe was one affair in which she would have to give up all hope of having her own way. Meantime there was no increase of religion. Some were frightened out of their vices for a time, but a passionate terror of that sort is the worst enemy of true piety.

"Fer my part," said Cynthy Ann, as she walked home with Jonas, "fer my part, I don't believe none of his nonsense. John Wesley" (Jonas was a New-Light, and Cynthy always talked to him about Wesley) "knowed a heap more about Scripter than all the Hankinses and Millerses that ever was born, and he knowed how to cipher, too, I 'low. Why didn't he say the world was goin' to wind up? An' our persidin' elder is a heap better instructed than Hankins, and he says God don't tell nobody when the world's goin' to wind up."

"Goin' to run down, you mean, Cynthy Ann. 'Kordin' to Hankins it's a old clock gin out in the springs, I 'low. How does Hankins know that 'Zek'el's livin' creeters means one thing more'n another? He talks about them wheels as nateral as ef he was a wagon-maker fixin' a ole buggy. He says the thing's a gone tater; no more craps of corn offen the bottom land, no more electin' presidents of this free and glorious Columby, no more Fourths, no more shootin' crackers nor spangled banners, no more nothin'. He ciphers and ciphers, and then spits on his slate and wipes us all out. Whenever Gabr'el blows I'll b'lieve it, but I won't take none o' Hankins's tootin

' in place of it. I shan't git skeered at no tin-horns, and as for papaw whistles, why, I say Jericho wouldn't a-tumbled for no sech music, and they won't fetch down no stars that air way."

Here old Gottlieb Wehle, who had just joined the Millerites, came up. "Yonas, you mags shport of de Piple. Ef dem vaces in der veels, and dem awvool veels in der veels, and dem figures vot always says aideen huntert vordy dree, ef dem tond mean sompin awvool, vot does dey mean? Hey?"

"My venerated friend and feller-citizen of forren birth," said Jonas, "you hit the nail on the crown of the head squar, with the biggest sort ov a sledge-hammer. You gripped a-holt of the truth that air time like the American bird a-grippin' the arries on the shield. What do they mean? That's jest the question, and you Millerites allers argies like the man who warranted his dog to be a good coon-dog, bekase he warn't good fer nothin' else under the amber blue. Now, my time-honored friend and beloved German voter, jest let me tell you that on the coon-dog principle you could a-wound up the trade and traffic of this airth any time. Fer ef they don't mean 1843, what do they mean? Why, 1842 or 1844, of course. You don't come no coon-dog argyments over me, not while I remain sound in wind and limb."

"Goon-tog! Who zed goon-tog? Ich tidn't, Hankins tidn't, Ze'kel's wision tidn't zay nodin pout no goon-tog. What's goon-togs cot do too mit de end of de vorld? Yonas, you pe a vool, maype."

"The same to yerself, my beloved friend and free and enlightened feller-citizen. Long may you wave, like a green bay boss, and a jimson-weed on the sunny side of a board-fence!"

Gottlieb hurried on, finding Jonas much harder to understand than the prophecies.

"I hear the singing-master is goin' to jine," said Cynthy Ann. "Wonder ef they'll take him with all his seals and straps, and hair on his upper lip, with the plain words of the Bible agin gold and costly apparel? Wonder ef he's tuck in, too?"

"Tuck in? He an't one of that kind. He don't never git tuck in--he tucks in. He knows which side of his bread's got quince preserves onto it. I used to run second mate on the Dook of Orleans, and I know his kind. He'll soar around like a turkey-buzzard fer a while. Presently he'll 'light. He's rusticatin' tell some scrape blows over. An' he'll make somethin' outen it. Business afore pleasure is his motto. He don't hang that seducin' grin under them hawky eyes fer nothin'. Wait till the pious and disinterested example 'lights somewheres. Then look out for the feathers, won't ye! He won't leave nary bone. But here we air. I declare, Cynthy, this walk seems the shortest, when I'm in superfine, number-one comp'ny!"

Cynthy was so pleased with this remark, that she did penance in her mind for a week afterwards. It was so wicked to enjoy one's self out of class-meeting!

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