Major Jones Pops the Question

Written Text

William Tappan Thompson

Major Jones Pops the Question

Pineville, December 27th, 1842.
To Mr. Thompson: — Dear Sir

Crismus is over, and the thing’s ded. You know I told you in my last letter I was gwine to bring Miss Mary up to the chalk a Crismus. Well, I done it, slick as a whistle, though it come mighty nigh bein a serious undertakin. But I’ll tell you all about the whole circumstance.

The fact is, I’s made my mind up more’n twenty times to jest go and come rite out with the whole bisness, but whenever I got whar she was, and whenever she looked at me with her witchin eyes, and kind o’ blushed at me, I always felt sort o’ skeered and fainty, and all what I made up to tell her was forgot, so I couldn’t think of it to save me. But you’s a married man, Mr. Thompson, so I couldn’t tell you nothin bout poppin the question, as they call it. Its a mighty grate favor to ax of a rite pretty gall, and to people as aint used to it, it goes monstrous hard, don’t it? They say widders don’t mind it no more’n nothin. But I’m making a transgression as the preacher ses.

Crismus eve I put on my new suit and shaved my face as slick as a smoothin iron and went over to old Miss Stallionses. As soon as I went into the parler whar they was all satin round the fire, Miss Carline and Miss Kesiah both laughed rite out—
“There, there,” ses they, “I told you so, I knew it would be Joseph.”

“What’s I done, Miss Carline,” ses I.

“You come under little sister’s chicken bone, and I do blieve she knew you was cumin when she put it over the dore.”

“No I didn’t—I didn’t no such thing, now,” ses Miss Mary, and her face blushed red all over.

“Oh, you needn’t deny it,” ses Miss Kesiah, “you ‘long to Joseph now, jest as sure as ther’s any charm in chicken bones.”

I knowd that was a first rate chance to say something, but the dear little creater looked so sorry and kep blushin so, I couldn’t say nothin zactly to the pint, so I tuck a chair and reached up and tuck down the bone and put it in my pocket.

“What are you gwine to do with that old bone now, Majer?” ses Miss Mary.

“I’m gwine to keep it as long as I live,” ses I, “as a Crismus present from the handsomest gall in Georgia.”

When I sed that, she blushed worse and worse.

“Aint you shamed, Majer?” ses she.

“Now you ought to give her a Crismus gift, Joseph, to keep all her life,” ses Miss Carline.

“Ah,” ses old Miss Stallions, “when I was a gall we used to hang up our stockins—”

“Why, mother!” ses all of ‘em, “to say stockins rite afore....”

Then I felt a little streaked too, cause they was all blushin as hard as they could.

“Highty-tity!” ses the old lady, “what finement. I’d like to know what harm ther is in stockins. People now-a-days is gittin so mealy mouthed they can’t call nothin by its name, and I don’t see as they’s any better than the old time people was. When I was a gall like you, child, I use to hang up my stockins and git ‘em full of presents.”

The gals kep laughin.

“Never mind,” ses Miss Mary, “Major’s got to give me a Crismus gift—won’t you Majer?

“Oh, yes,” ses I, “you know I promised you one.”

“But I didn’t mean that,” ses she.

“I’ve got one for you, what I want you to keep all your life, would take a two bushel bag to hold it,” ses I.

“Oh, that’s the kind,” ses she.

“But will you keep it as long as you live?” ses I.

“Certainly I will, Majer.”

“Monstrous finement now-a-days—old people don’t know nothin bout perliteness,” said old Miss Stallions, jest gwine to sleep.

“Now you hear that, Miss Carline,” ses I. “She ses she’ll keep it all her life.”

“Yes, I will,” ses Miss Mary, “but what is it?”

“Never mind,” ses I, “you hang up a bag big enuff to hold it and you’ll find out what it is, when you see it in the mornin.”

Miss Carline winked at Miss Kesiah, and then whispered to her, then they both laughed and looked at me as mischievous as they could. They spected somethin.

“You’ll be sure to give it to me now, if I hang up a bag,” ses Miss Mary.

“And promise to keep it,” ses I.

“Well, I will, cause I know you wouldn’t give me nothin that wasn’t worth keepin.”

They all agreed they would hang up a bag for me to put Miss Mary’s Crismas present in, on the back porch, and bout nine o’clock I told ‘em good evenin and went home.
I sot up till mid-night, and when they was all gone to bed I went softly into the back gate, and went up to the porch and thar, shore enuff, was a grate big meal bag hangin to the jice. It was monstrous unhandy to git into it, but I was tarmined not to back out. So I sot some chairs on top of a bench and got hold of the rope and let myself down into the bag; but jest as I was gittin in, the bag swung agin the chairs, and down they went with a terrible racket. But no body didn’t wake up but old Miss Stallionses grate big cur dog, and here he cum rippin and tarin through the yard like rath, and round and round he went trying to find what was the matter. I sot down in the bag and didn’t breathe louder nor a kitten, for fear he’d find me out, and after a while he quit barkin. The wind begun to blow bominable cold, and the old bag kep turnin round and swinging so it made me sea-sick as the mischief. I was afraid to move for fear the rope would brake and let me fall, and thar I sat with my teeth ratlin like I had a ager. It seemed like it would never come daylight, and I do blieve if I didn’t love Miss Mary so powerful I would froze to deth; for my hart was the only spot that felt warm, and it didn’t beat more’n two licks a minit, only when I thought how she would be sprised in the mornin, and then it went in a canter. Bimeby the cussed old dog come up on the porch and begun to smell bout the bag, and then he barked like he thought he’d treed something. “Bow! wow! wow!” ses he. —Then he’d smell agin, and try to git up to the bag. “Git out!” ses I, very low, for fear they would hear me. “Bow! wow! wow!” ses he. “Be gone! you bominable fool,” ses I, and I felt all over in spots, for I spected every minit he’d nip me, and what made it worse, I didn’t know whar bouts he’d take hold. “Bow! wow! wow!” — Then I tried coaxin—”come here, good feller,” ses I, and whistled a little to him, but it wan’t no use. Thar he stood and kep up his eternal whinin and barkin, all night. I couldn’t tell when daylight was breakin, only by the chickens crowin, and I was monstrous glad to hear ‘em, for if I’d had to stay thar one hour more, I don’t blieve I’d ever got out o’ that bag alive.

Old Miss Stallions come out first, and as soon as she saw the bag, ses she,

“What upon yeath has Joseph put in that bag for Mary? I’ll lay its a yearlin or some live animal, or Bruin wouldn’t bark at it so.”

She went in to call the galls, and I sot thar, shiverin all over so I couldn’t hardly speak if I tried to—but I didn’t say nothin. Bimeby they all come runnin out.

“My lord, what is it?” ses Miss Mary.

“Oh, it’s alive!” ses Miss Kesiah, “I seed it move.”

“Call Cato, and make him cut the rope,” ses Miss Carline, “and less see what it is. Come here Cato and git this bag down.”

“Don’t hurt it for the world,” ses Miss Mary.

Cato untied the rope that was round the jice, and let the bag down easy on the floor, and I tumbled out all covered with corn meal, from hed to foot.

“Goodness gracious!” ses Miss Mary, “if it aint the Majer himself!”

“Yes,” ses I, “and you know you promised to keep my Crismas present as long as you lived.”

The galls laughed themselves almost to deth and went to brushin off the meal as fast as they could, sayin they was gwine to hang that bag up every Crismas till they got husbands too. Miss Mary-bless her bright eyes—she blushed as butiful as a morninglory, and sed she’d stick to her word. She was rite out o’ bed, and her hair wasn’t comed, and her dress wasn’t fixt at all, but the way she looked pretty was rale distractin. I do blieve if I was froze stif, one look at her charmin face, as she stood lookin down to the floor with her rogish eyes, and her bright curls fallin all over her snowy neck, would a fotch’d me too. I tell you what, it was worth hangin’ in a meal bag from one Crismas to another to feel as happy as I have ever since.

I went home after we had the laugh out, and set by the fire till I got thawed. In the forenoon all the Stallionses come over to our house and we had one of the gratest Crismus Dinners that ever was seed in Georgia, and I don’t blieve a happier company ever sot down to the same table. Old Miss Stallions and mother settled the match, and talked over everything that ever happened in ther families, and laughed at me and Mary, and cried bout ther ded husbands, cause they wasn’t alive to see ther children married.

Its all settled now, cept we haint sot the weddin day. I’d like to have it all over at once, but young galls always like to be engaged awhile, you know, so I spose I must wait a month or so. Mary (she ses I mustn’t call her Miss Mary now) has been a goad deal of trouble and botheration to me, but if you could see her, you wouldn’t think I ought to grudge a little sufferin to git sich a sweet little wife.

You must come to the weddin if you possibly kin. I’ll let you know when. No more from

Your frend til deth,


N.B. [P.S.] I’ve ben thinkin bout your proposal for me to edit that little paper what you want to start. I should like to blige you if it won’t be no more trouble than you say, but Mary ses she thinks I better not, cause editers dent never make nothin, and are alwayspoor as Jobe’s turky. I would like the bisness mighty well, if it would pay, but if I do go into it I wont have a single scriber what dent pay rite up when he takes the paper. When my weddin’s over, I’ll have considerable time to rite, and if I was certain that a rite spunky little paper, full of fun and good pieces, could git scribers enuf at sich a low price, to pay for the cost and trouble, I’d go into it like a two-year-old in a cane break.

I like to forgot to tell you bout cousin Pete. He got snapt on egnog when he heard of my gagement, and he’s ben as meller as hos-apple ever sense.