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The End of the World: A Love Story By Edward Eggleston Characters: 5723

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

Did you ever move? And, in moving, did you ever happen to notice how many little things there are to be picked up? Now that I am about to shift the scene of my story from Clark township, the narrow stage upon which it has progressed through two dozen chapters, I find a great number of little things to be picked up.

One of the little things to be picked up is Norman Anderson. Very little, if measured soul-wise. When his father had read the proclamation of Andrew and divined that Norman was interested in the riot, he became thoroughly indignant; the more so, that he felt his own lack of power to do anything in the premises against his wife. But when Mrs. Abigail heard of the case she was in genuine distress. It showed Andrew's vindictiveness. He would follow her forever with his resentments, just because she could not love him. It was not her fault that she did not love him. Poor Norman had to suffer all the persecutions that usually fall to such innocent creatures. She must send him away from home, though it broke her mother's heart to do it; for if Andrew didn't have him took up, the old Dutchman would, just because his son had turned out a burglar. She said burglar rather emphatically, with a look at Julia.

And so Samuel Anderson took his son to Louisville, and got him a place in a commission and produce house on the levee, with which Mr. Anderson had business influence. And Samuel warned him that he must do his best, for he could not come back home now without danger of arrest, and Norman made many promises of amendment; so many, that his future seemed to him barren of all delight. And, by way of encouraging himself in the austere life upon which he had resolved to enter, he attended the least reputable place of amusement in the city, the first night after his father's departure.

In Clark township the Millerite excitement was at white heat. Some of the preachers in other parts of the country had set one day, some another. I believe that Mr. Miller, the founder, never had the temerity to set a day. But his followers figured the thing more closely, and Elder Hankins had put a fine point on the matter. He was certain, for his part, that the time was at midnight on the eleventh of August. His followers became very zealous, and such is the nature of an infection that scarcely anybody was able to resist it. Mrs. Anderson, true to her excitable temper, became fanatic--dreaming dreams, seeing visions, hearing voices, praying twenty times a day[2], wearing a sourly pious face, and making all around her more unhappy than ever. Jonas declared that ef the noo airth and the noo heaven was to be chockful of sech as she, 'most any other place in the univarse would be better, akordin' to his way of thinkin'. He said she repented more of other folkses' sins than anybody he ever seed.

[2] Mrs. Anderson was less dev

out than some of her co-religionists; the wife of a well-known steamboat-clerk was accustomed to pray in private fifty times a day, hoping by means of this praying without ceasing to be found ready when the trumpet should sound.

As summer came on, Samuel Anderson, borne away on the tide of his own and his wife's fanatical fever of sublimated devotion, discharged Jonas and all his other employés, threw up business, and gave his whole attention to the straightening of his accounts for the coming day of judgment. Before Jonas left to seek a new place he told Cynthy Ann as how as ef he'd met her alrlier 'twould a-settled his coffee fer life. He was gittin' along into the middle of the week now, but he'd come to feel like a boy since he'd been a livin' where he could have a few sweet and pleasant words--ahem!--he thought December'd be as pleasant as May all the year round ef he could live in the aurora borealis of her countenance. And Cynthy Ann enjoyed his words so much that she prayed for forgiveness for the next week and confessed in class-meeting that she had yielded to temptation and sot her heart on the things of this perishin' world. She was afeared she hadn't always remembered as how as she was a poor unworthy dyin' worm of the dust, and that all the beautiful things in this world perished with the usin'.

And Brother Goshorn, the class-leader at Harden's Cross-Roads, exhorted her to tear every idol from her heart. And still the sweet woman's nature, God's divine law revealed in her heart, did assert itself a little. She planted some pretty-by-nights in an old cracked blue-and-white tea-pot and set it on her window-sill. Somehow the pretty-by-nights would remind her of Jonas, and while she tried to forget him with one half of her nature, the other and better part (the depraved part, she would have told you) cherished the memory of his smallest act and word. In fact, the flowers had no association with Jonas except that along with the awakening of her love came this little sentiment for flowers into the dry desert of her life. But one day Mrs. Anderson discovered the old blue broken tea-pot with its young plants.

"Why, Cynthy Ann!" she cried, "a body'd think you'd have more sense than to do such a soft thing as to be raisin' posies at your time of life! And that when the world is drawing to a close, too! You'll be one of the foolish virgins with no oil to your lamp, as sure as you see that day."

As for Julia's flowers, Mrs. Anderson had rudely thrown them into the road by way of removing temptation from her and turning her thoughts toward the awful realities of the close of time.

But Cynthy Ann blushed and repented, and kept her broken tea-pot, with a fearful sense of sin in doing so. She never watered the pretty-by-nights without the feeling that she was offering sacrifice to an idol.

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