Monday, February 7, 2011

"The Schoolmaster's in that Bed"

While I was finding the Perley Seaver article last night, I also found this article right next to it.  I hadn't thought about this issue occurring in the 1860 time frame, but I can see how this could happen:

 The Progressive Age, Coshocton, Ohio, Wednesday, March 7, 1860 (Volume 7, Number 20):

THE SCHOOLMASTER'S IN THAT BED. -- A correspondent of the New York Waverly gives the following as one of many incidents that befall a "boarding round schoolmaster:"

I had been teaching in Mason County in this, the Sucker state, and this term was boarding round.  One evening, after school, one of my little scholars stepped up to me and said:

"Mr. Jones, father said you could come home with me."

"Very well," I replied, and forthwith set out for my patron's house, which was distant about two miles.  Now, be it known, James McHarry, for such was his name, had two daughters - the pride and envy of the whole community.  I had heard so much about them that I was naturally anxious to see them.  It seemed, however, that I was to be disappointed.  When we arrived, I learned that the "gals" had gone to a party the other side of the creek; so I went to bed, execrating the luck which deprived me of seeing them that night.

The night had well advanced when I heard on of the girls come home, and passing into the adjoining room, she warmed herself before some coals which were alive on the hearth.  It seems the old gentleman and lad slept in the same room, but I was not aware of it then.  Having warmed herself, she turned to leave the room, when the old man spoke: "Girls," said he, "the schoolmaster's in your bed."

"Very well," said Sarah, and passing through the room I slept in, went up stairs.  About an hour elapsed, when I heard Judy, the other one, come.  She stood at the door a long time, talking with "her feller," then entered softly.  Disrobing her feet, she entered the room where I lay, in her stocking feet, she carefully undressed herself, and coming to the bedside, prepared to get in.  Now it happened that I lay in the middle, and, turning back the clothes, she gave me a shake, and said in a suppressed whisper, "Lay over, Sarah."

I rolled over and whipped the corner of the pillow in my mouth to keep from laughing.  In she bounced, but the bed would squeak.  The old man heard it and called out:

"Judy!"

"Sir," was responded in a faint voice from the bed beside me.

"The schoolmaster is in that bed."

With one loud yell and an "Oh Heavens!" she landed on the floor, and fled, with the rapidity of a deer, up stairs.  She never heard the last of it, I can tell you. 

This tells us something  about the McHarry family, but not the schoolmaster's first name.  I wonder if this is a true story?  There is a James Mcharry (age 42, born in Ireland) residing in Mason County, Illinois in the 1860 census, but only one child, Margaret age 7, is listed with him.  I found no Sarah or Judy McHarry's (or similar names) in Mason County, Illinois in the 1860 census.  So, this appears to be a story that may be true but with different names.  Or it was totally made up!  Nobody will ever know, I guess.

If not apocryphal, I wonder if the schoolmaster ever got any sleep, what with all of that talking going on!