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The new Northwest. [volume] (Portland, Or.) 1871-1887, September 23, 1880, Image 1

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Kkee Speech, Fbke Pkess, Fkee People.
., 1
Bill Slimmer was not slim, as his name indi
cated, nor was he half so good-for-nothing by na
ture as he Jiad the universal credit of being. In
fact, he was a jolly good fellow. He had lived til
well along in the thirties without any serious dis
turbance from Cupid's arrows, and, under the
watchful care ot his good Aunt Prudence, had al
ways been so comfortably provided for in the way
of dickeys and dinners that he had never thought
seriously of needing a wife to fill his domestic
otllces for him. As he was not in love, he con
ceived, of no particular reason why he should bur
den himself with the cares of a family when not
in need of a servant.
Aunt Prudence Slimmer, unlike her nephew,
was slimmer, even, by nature than by name.
Early in her life, and while the gentle dews of a
sweet romance hung tenderly over her maiden
heart, her brother's wife, Bill Slimmer's mother,
and likewise the mother of a host of other Slim
niers, had paid the debt of overwrought nature and
fallen asleep by life's rugged wayside.
Aunt Prudence heroically took up the burden
where her sister-in-law had laid it down. She
nursed the young Slimmers through measles,
mumps, whooping-cough, scarlatina and chicken
pox, and cleansed them of divers skin and scalp
diseases of even more aggravating nature, which
at some-time or other they had all caught at
school. And, finally, when the older Slimmers
grew up and married, and Josiah Slimmer, the
discouraged progenitor of the flock, breathed his
last out of pure laziness, and was buried out of her
sight, and she had only herself and Bill Slimmer
to provide for, the good spinster sold her cooking
stove and coal-scuttle, and packed her dishes,
sewing machine and feather beds into boxes, with
her patchwork quilts and hand-woven table linen,
and embarked from the clumsy dock hard bv her
seaside home away down in Maine for her new
destination, Portland, Oregon.
Here, like Dorcas of old, Aunt Prudence busied
herself making coats. Her business prospered and
grew, and she, having an eye to profits, Invested
in real estate, which in time advanced in value
till it became a handsome property.
Bill Slimmer attended school when he had to,
and played poker whenever he could steal away
from Aunt Prudence, and as he grew older and
bigger, and finally to manhood, followed the ex
ample of other men on the street, and sucked with
enterprising regularity at tlje crooked end of a
long pipe-stem, ami in many other ways proved
his masculine superiority over his weak-minded
aunt, until one day the doctor said it wis grief
that did it, though her neighbors said it was over
work she died suddenly of 'heart disease, leaving
her ungrateful nephew in excellent circumstances.
Bill Slimmer felt many compunctions of con
ecience as he gazed upon the furrowed face of
Aunt Prudence, so white ami shrunken in its
coffin, and actually shed a tear or two when he
caressed, for the last time, her seamed and bat
to r 1 hands, as they lay folded across her hollow
b - m tied with a lute-string ribbon ; and he was
tl oughly wretched after the funeral. The little
t' l', witli its tiny back kitchen and wee bed
rooms, reminded him of Aunt Prudence ; but the
remembrance would not cook his dinners, sew on
It's buttons or pay his board. So, to drown his
rrow, Bill Slimmer redoubled his former vigi
Umkc at the gaming table. Aunt Prudence could
question him now as to where he spent his
i lings, nor could she look at him, as of yore,
who her sad, reproachful eyes, and warn him of
the consequences of his folly.
And so, Bill Slimmer went on from bad to
worse, until he had squandered the whole of his
aunt's hard-earned property; and then, of course,
he found himself adrift in the world, penniless,
He had no trade nor profession. It would have
been well for him if he had been able to wield the
tailor's goose that at last found its way to the
pawnbroker's, whore it yet lies, unredeemed and
for sale.
But Bill Slimmer did not propose to go to work
for a living, even if he had known how. So, after
he had disposed of the last remnant of his legacy,
he bethought himself for the first time of the ex
pedient which many other men have tried before
and succeeded in he would marry. And, as
young girls with dower were hard to find, he
would look after the relict of some departed shade,
who had left a patrimony and a woman, which
combined would make up for him what he had
lost in Aunt Prudence.
Anu Jim bummer reformed, l have told you
that he was not slim by nature. On the contrary,
his proportions wore ample, his physique was
goou, anu, aside irom a preponderance of flosh
about the lowor face and nodk, giving him a do
cided Hancock jaw, he was rathor handsome.
A few miles out from Portland, near a highway
which shall here bo designated as the "Jericho
Road," lived Mrs. Patience Leigh, a widow with
two children, who had boon loft by an absconding
husband as a widow without dower, but who had,
since her divorce, been the recipient of a two-
hundred-acre farm as a gift or devise from her
father, the Hon. Jacob Boon, lately deceased.
Bui Slimmer, who was as strong an advocate of
masculine supremacy as Petroleum .V- Nasby is
of negro inferiority, and who felt the same interest
in Mrs. Leigh that Nasby feels in Bascom or the
it office, mounted the semi-weekly stage and
rode out to Mrs. Leigh's, in search of country
board. The widow was glad of his commtny, for
it was lonely on the farm, and her two little
daughters were away at school.
Bill Slimmer was an excellent Summer boarder.
He arrayed himself in the decamped husband's
over-clothes, and cleaned upthe chicken-house,
and mended the pig-trough, and made a new
windlass for the well, and patched the broken
door-step. He could sing, too; and Mrs. Leigh,
who could play accompaniments in tolerable fash
ion, sang with him, often till the your was late.
In short, the widow and the bachelor fell in love,
and, contrary to the former's intention, he was
soon desperately in earnest about the widow her
self, though he had only intended to become en
amored of her property.
Of course, Bill Slimmer grew sentimental.
Lovers always do. Of course, he regaled the will
ing widow with gushing rhapsodies in the shapo
of promises to "love, cherish and protect," all oN
which met a capital climax in the marriage cere
mony, in which he placed the ring upon her finger
with the hackneyed and often meaninglessaccom
paniment, "With all my worldly goods I thee
And Bill Slimmer became a farmer. I do not
mean that he handled the axe, or followed the
plow. Not a bit of it. He bossed things.
The seasons sped on, and Bill Slimmer became
a father. This interesting event hapjeiied three
times in as many consecutive years. Expenses
increased, and his income grew alarmingly less.
Something had to be done to keep the wolf from
the door. Bossing things is poor business on
two-lmndred-aere farm, when two-thirds of it is
timber without a market.
Bill Slimmer mounted a neighlor's wagon and
came to Portland to look around. The little shop
formerly owned by Aunt Prudence was vacant,
and the little tin sign, "Miss P. Slimmer, Tai
Ioress," which had been used by its lat tenant to
mend abroken window-pane, was -till doing duty
in that opaque capacity.
A bright idea struck Bill Slimmer. He would
rent the little shop for Mrs. P. Slimmer, and put a
little lot of fulled cloths and notions in it, and let
Mrs. P. Slimmer support him, as Miss I'. Slimmer
had done before her. The word "Mis" on the
sign was of no consequence, even if it was inap
propriate. '
It was not hard to convince Mrs. Slimmer that
a change was necessary. Bill Slimmer wis a
good talker a capital talker, in faet and her own
judgment combined with his eloquence to induce
her to sell her farm and turn the money over to
him for investment in fulled cloths and furniture
for the store.
A purchaser was found for the farm, who pah
tne uttic sum oi two ttiousanu uouars, casn in
"It's your money, you see, doar," said. the con
siderate Slimmer, "and of course you'll invest it
to suit yourself. I don't approve of women's
rights and kindred nonsense, but I think it well
for them to look after the property they get by
gift, devise or inheritance, so that the will of the
testator may he respected, you know."
If Mrs. Slimmer thought the will of the rightfu
legatee ought also to have something to do with
it, she didn't say so; but she did catch herself
wondering, sometimes, as she worried constantly
with the numerous added responsibilities of hor
Slimmer state of coverture, why it was that her
legal representative and head had never exhibited
a little enterprise on his own account. She also
wondered if she should be able to manage n store.
But she dismissed her forebodings, and tried ban
to look upon the brighter side of her domestic
zenith if there were one.
And Bill Slimmer went ofT to town to deposit
his wife's two thousand dollars in a safe, till she
should be able to be removed, with the little Slim
mers, including the babe a month old, and fit u
the defunct Miss P. Slimmer's former habitation
for business. It had been long since Bill had been
permitted by fickle Fortune to carry money, am
it was not wonderful that he was a little vain over
the golden twenties that Mrs. Slimmer had care
fully tied in a little salt-sack, with blue letters on
the side, and consigned to his keeping.
In a fortnight the move was made, and Mrs.
Slimmer, though languid and feeble, felt that she
had more need of making an effort than was ever
imagined by the attendants of Mrs. Dombey ; so
she asked her husband to draw the money he had
placed on deposit for her. Bill Slimmer started
off with alacrity to do her bidding, only to return,
"You see, wife," he began, with a look that
would have been haggard but for the flesh upon
lis jaws, "I I I a debt can't be outlawed in
Oregon under six years, can it?"
"No, William. But why do you ask ? don't
owe anything."
"But I do, or, rather, I, did, Patience. And
our money is all gone."
"William, you can't mean it!" cried Mrs. Slim
mer, her pale face turning paler yet, as she grasped
the bedpost for support.
"Yes, Patience, I do mean it. Ami I would that
I were dead ! You see, dear, I used to be rakish
and wild, and I spent cords o' money, and got
deeply into debt. And I owed Jolly Miller a big
sum. I never meant to owe it, 'pon my word.
Jut when I come in to 'Squire Nettleton's store
ind put your money on deposit, and took a receipt
for it in my own name, it was then, according to
aw or custom, and under what they call the law
of coverture, my individual property. I told 'em
t was yours, Patience; but my certificate of de
posit, which was all I had to show for it, was
made in my own name, and so I couldn't go .back
on the black and white."
"But I can hold the money in spite of them un
der a lawsuit, William. Isn't there some sort of a
statute that tells about a writ of replevin?"
But Bill Slimmer had lost his grip. He had no
heart to see a lawyer and work up the case. The
poor fellow had the raw material in him for any
amount of sturdy rustling; but he had always
been supported and protected by women, and, now
that his last womanly resource was chock-a-bloek
with writs and lawyers' fees, and thewoman her
self was tied tip in the shop and nursery with a
houseful of little Slimmers, there was nothing left
for him to do but to go oil and die and lie did it
Mrs. P. Slimmer shed a few tears in the solitude
o her back shop, and followed the remains of her
lord and master, provider, law-giver and head, to
Lone Fir Cemetery, where they were buried from
lier sight by a secret society in glittering bodges.
She was compelled to confess to herself, as the
three young Slimmers clamored for the food she
could not furnish, that she was unable to see that
she had gained increased immunity from care or
responsibility in the long-run by marryinga Sum
mer boarder who could only clean a chicken
house, mend a door-step, and boss things.
The little tin sign belonging to Miss P. Slimmer,
Tailoress, still served as a window-pane in the
front shop, and Mrs. P. Slimmer employed a
painter, whose coat she repaired as compensation,
to paint out the inappropriate "Miss," and substi
tute the more appropriate "Mrs." She hung the
sign, and awaited customers with fear and trem
bling. Had she known of Miss P. Slimmer's
goose at the jmwii broker's, she might have pur
chased the same at a small advance; but she did
not, so she used a fiat-iron instead. She had no
knowledge of the business, and of course made
many failures. But she lived economically, and
profited by her mistakes, and soon became mis
tress of her craft, and is now at the head of one of
.the most popular clothing emporiums of the city.
And Bill hlinuner's widow, whose oilers of mar
riage from the supporting and protecting sex
number three per month upon an average, re
mains a widow and is incorrigible. Though they
think she is sane enough on all other subjects, the
oiled and perfumed gentlemen who go to her for a
faultless tit in their finest unmentionables, are
unanimous in the opinion that she is crazy upon
the subject of woman's rights.
Good reader, my story is the barest possible out
line of a life historv that might well be elaborated
into a volume. Bill Slimmerwas no ideal product
of my brain, nor was Aunt Prudence Slimmer a
myth, nbr Mrs. Patience Leigh a fictitious person
age. Such characters, in all the various shades of
life, are everywhere existing under a government
that not only permits women to be deprived of
their property "without due process of law," but
stultifies itself continually by its failure to guar
antee to every citizen the equal protection of the
laws. Bill Slimmer's widow is not mad, most
noble freemen, but in all her demands for wom
an's liberty she speaks forth the words of trutli
and soberness.
The Independent is the name of a paper started
a few weeks since at Pomcroy, W. T., to be de
voted to the interests of that fown. That Mr.
Mays, tho publisher, has an eye to business, is
proven by the fact that he desires to know of any
lady compositor who wants to marry.
Miss Mary E. Strong, one of Salem's most ac
complished young ladies, has been engaged as
teacher in the La Creole Academy at' Dallas for
another year.
To listen to "the reading of the bills" by tho
busy clerks, leads one to wonder how it has been
possible to get along heretofore with so little leg
islation. Some of the measures proposed are sal
utary, some sanitary, some necessary, and some
absurd. Statutes are inaugurated for erecting an
insane asylum ; to provide that married women
may sell and convey real estate without a question
as to the legality of their contracts ; to incorpo
rate several towns that we know are badly in
need of sidewalks ; to exempt homesteads from
attachment ; to reduce the lawful rate of interest
to six per cent ; to protect game and fish at cer
tain seasons; to allow defendants to testify; to
destroy noxious weeds, and to establish and pro
tect the rights of married women.
The lobby is more extensively patronized than
usual at the commencement of a session when no
Senator is to be chosen. Dr. Hawthorne is here,
looking out for his interests in the insane from one
stand-point, and Mrs. Packard is engaged in a
like business from another quarter. Mrs. P. is a .
more indefatigable lobbyist than the Doctor, but
it is generally believed that what he lacks in per
sistence he makes up in coin. We do not think
their interests will clash when mutually compre
hended, as the Doctor is well known as a humane
and successful physician and asylum superintend
ent, and Mrs. P. seems only to demand justice for
the unfortunate wards in his care, which evident
ly they have already. But there is one thing con
nected with Mrs. P.'s filibustering to which alL
self-respectiug women must take emphatic excep
tion, ami that is her sly but constant opposition
to Woman Suffrage when talking-with the Legis
lators. We have been informed by several mem-
liers that she has gone to them, and, with a show
of- superior wisdom, informed them that she does
"not approve of woman having the ballot." She
has been the recipient of ninny favors aiHl eulogiesr
from Woman Suffragists in this State and Wash
ington Territory, and has had the constant aid of
the New Nokthwest in her work (for Mrs. Pack
ard and her books), and we deem it our duty, un
pleasant though it be, to state publicly, so that,
every Legislator may read it, that she never
speaks against the enfranchisement of woman to
men except to tickle their imaginary vanity, and
always advocates it among Woman Suffragists.
I lad she ever said to us what she has said to mem
bers in opposition to woman's ballot, we should
have punctured the bubble of her double dealing
long ago. And here let us say to Legislators,
once for all, that no woman who comes before
them riding a personal hobby, and failing to com
prehend or acknowledge the eternal principles of
right and justice for all the people as set forth in
the Declaration of Independence and enforced
through the free ballot, is a representative woman
of the period. We wish Mrs. Packard no harm.
We hope she will psychologize every Legislator,
as she did our humble self, into paying her twelve
dollars for her set of books. There is many a grain
of truth in them, and .much that will open their
eyes in new directions, as they did our own, to tlie
need of the ballot for woman. We hope, too, that
they will pass a bill granting to the insane the in
alienable rights of the free post olliee. Mrs. Pack
ard possesses wonderful intelligence, and we are
glad to see her at work selling her books, which is
the finale to her lobbying. The benefit of this fre
advertising is cheerfully given her, and we stand
ready to aid her now and always in securing tho
freedom of woman through the ballot. But we
have no patience with the silly notion that hon
orable men must be cajoled like puppies or flat
tered like babies to induce them to favor some
woman's pet hobby, while the great principle of
equality before the law is, to secure this favor,
trampled by her in the dust. We acknowledge
Mrs. Packard's power, having felt it ; but we have
felt the reaction also, and are willing to wait till
others feel it for their good opinion of this kindly
but earnest criticism.
As is usual with men who are wearing out their
lives in the service of an ungrateful country by
legislation, there is much time given to adjourn
ing. On Friday, at 2 p. m., the climax of excuses
for a recess was reached by a House resolution de
manding adjournment till Monday at 2 p. jr., to
give the members a chance to "mourn" for an ox
member of two years ago who had died a year
since, doubtless without a thought of so expensive
a lamentation over his taking-off. The Senate
also "killed a man" .for a like purpose, reminding
us of the man who once wanted to borrow a black
waistcoast, and applied to a clothier for the loan
of one, giving as a reason therefore that "his aunt
had died six months before, and he wanted to take
a short mourn." a. S. D.
House of Representatives, Sept. 17, 1SS0.

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