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The End of the World: A Love Story By Edward Eggleston Characters: 5889

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

Sometimes the virus of a family is all drawn off in one vial. I think it is Emerson who makes this remark. We have all seen the vials.

Such an one was Norman Anderson. The curious law of hereditary descent had somehow worked him only evil. "Nater," observed Jonas to Cynthy, when the latter had announced to him that Norman, on account of some disgrace at school, had returned home, "nater ha'n't done him half jestice, I 'low. It went through Sam'el Anderson and Abig'il, and picked out the leetle weak pompous things in the illustrious father; and then hunted out all the spiteful and hateful things in the lovin' and much-esteemed mother, and somehow stuck 'em together, to make as ornery a chap as ever bit a hoe-cake in two."

"I'm afeard her brother's scrape and comin' home won't make Jule none the peacefuller at the present time," said Cynthy Ann.

"Wal," returned Jonas, "I don't think she keers much fer him. She couldn't, you know. Love him? Now, Cynthy Ann, my dear"--here Cynthy Ann began to reproach herself for listening to anything so pleasant as these two last words--"Now, Cynthy Ann, my dear, you see you might maybe love a cuckle-burr and nuss it; but I don't think you would be likely to. I never heern tell of nobody carryin' jimson-weed pods in their bosoms. You see they a'n't no place about Norman Anderson that love could take a holt of 'thout gittin' scratched."

"But his mother loves him, I reckon," said Cynthy Ann.

"Wal, yes; so she do. Loves her shadder in the lookin'-glass, maybe, and kinder loves Norman bekase he's got so much of her devil into him. It's like lovin' like, I reckon. But I 'low they's a right smart difference with Jule. Sence she was born, that Norman has took more delight in tormentin' Jule than a yaller dog with a white tail does in worryin' a brindle tom-cat up a peach-tree. And comin' home at this junction he'll gin her a all-fired lot of trials and tribulation."

At the time this conversation took place, two weeks had elapsed since Mrs. Anderson's "attack." Julia had heard nothing from August yet. The "Hawk" still made his head-quarters in the house, but was now watching another quarry. Mrs. Anderson was able to scold as vigorously as ever, if, indeed, that function had ever been suspended. And just now she was engaged in scolding the teacher who had expelled Norman. The habit of fighting teachers was as chronic as her heart-disease. Norman had always been abused by the whole race of pedagogues. There was from the first a conspiracy against him, and now he was cheated out of his last chance of getting an education. All this Norman steadfastly believed.

Of course Norman sided with his mother as against the Dutchman. The more contemptible a man is, the more he contemns a man for not belonging to his race or nation. And Norman felt that he would be eternally disgraced by any alliance with a German. He threw himself into the fight with a great deal

of vigor. It helped him to forget other things.

"Jule," said he, walking up to her as she sat alone on the porch, "I'm ashamed of you. To go and fall in love with a Dutchman like Gus Wehle, and disgrace us all!"

"I wonder you didn't think about disgrace before," retorted Julia, "I am ashamed to have August Wehle hear what you've been doing."


Dogs that have the most practice in cat-worrying are liable to get their noses scratched sometimes. Norman took care never to attack Julia again except under the guns of his mother's powerful battery. And he revenged himself on her by appealing to his mother with a complaint that "Jule had throwed up to him that he had been dismissed from school." And of course Julia received a solemn lecture on her way of driving poor Norman to destruction. She was determined to disgrace the family. If she could not do it by marrying a Dutchman, she would do it by slandering her brother.

Norman thought to find an ally in Jonas.

"Jonas, don't you think it's awful that Jule is in love with Dutchman like Gus Wehle?"

"I do, my love," responded Jonas. "I think a Dutchman is a Dutchman. I don't keer how much he larns by burnin' the midnight ile by day and night. My time-honored friend, he's a Dutchman arter all. The Dutch is bred in the bone. It won't fade. A Dutchman may be a gentleman in his way of doin' things, may be honest and industrious, and keep all the commandments in the catalogue, but I say he is Dutch, and that's enough to keep him out of the kingdom of heaven and out of this free and enlightened republic. And an American may be a good-fer-nothin', ornery little pertater-ball, wuthless alike to man and beast; he mayn't be good fer nothin', nuther fer work nur study; he may git drunk and git turned outen school and do any pertikeler number of disgraceful and oncreditable things, he may be a reg'ler milksop and nincompoop, a fool and a blackguard and a coward all rolled up into one piece of brown paper, ef he wants to. And what's to hender? A'n't he a free-born an' enlightened citizen of this glorious and civilized and Christian land of Hail Columby? What business has a Dutchman, ef he's ever so smart and honest and larned, got in our broad domains, resarved for civil and religious liberty? What business has he got breathin' our atmosphere or takin' refuge under the feathers of our American turkey-buzzard? No, my beloved and respected feller-citizen of native birth, it's as plain to me as the wheels of 'Zek'el and the year 1843. I say, Hip, hip, hoo-ray fer liberty or death, and down with the Dutch!"

Norman Anderson scratched his head.

What did Jonas mean?

He couldn't exactly divine; but it is safe to say that on the whole he was not entirely satisfied with this boomerang speech. He rather thought that he had better not depend on Jonas.

But he was not long in finding allies enough in his war against Germany.

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