Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Old Man is Snoring

I don't care if we spend
the night at your mansion

Prodigious Rain. Never before, in the Historie of Virginia, have I seen such torrential pourings. The Gulf has been a whirl-wind all to its own this year, and some few of their offspring have climbed up the Appalachians to menace the Gerando Valley & its settlements.

It wou'd be easy to imagine falsely that the Mountains afford some protection. But these aged Ramparts cannot prevent a Cyclone from entering our valley, and furthermore, they trap the storm within their Bounds, so that that tornadick twisting will bounce & volley all across the poor Farmland.

Thus the Mountains betray us to another Foe. For the Indians have no reason to pass thro' this Land, but only are funnel'd along our Roads & into our Yards by that Appalachian Highway, the Warrior's Path.

I myself was near frighten'd out my Skin by tornadick Action, a mere few weeks ago. In the midst of darkness, Molly, my wife's Irish wench, sprung into my bedroom. Ah, I thought, the bonny hungers for a Frolick - for oft has this pock'd Aphrodite assum'd the office of her Mistress, when it comes to bed-labor.

"Sir! Sir! Master Bainton! There is no time for such ninnery. There is a tornado about!"

"Well," sd I, thinking this a peculiar phantasy of hers, "perhaps we shou'd spend our last minutes in the fullest ripeness!," and rush'd my Hand to her Quickness!

There was a great scuffing, & unseemly Noises proceeded from my Chambers - this I must admit. But, as soon as I understood the full Import of the Slut's importunity, I struggled like a very Laocoon to free myself from her petticoats! "We must needs retreat! Let us away, to the Cellar!"

But here, I was pinn'd by a most troubling Query: What to take with me? Shou'd I grab my compleat Pliny, or my gilt volumes of Ruskin's letters to the workingmen? Shou'd I remove to my underground Lair with a homey copy of Ulysses, or with Djuna Barnes, or Charles Doughty?

For what profit the Man his Library, if it be scatter'd to wind-blown & wet pages, or torn to flecks & Bits? What profit a Millionaire his Mansion, if the compress'd wood lies again in mulch'd chips, and the christall Chandelier now only shards that may slice his children's Feet?

In the end I threw my Manuscripts into a bag from the Food Lion, & hoped. Molly & I pass'd a diverting, if not altogether Joyfull night in the double-door'd Cellar. The Cellar stank to Heaven, which is fitting, as the stench is an augur of Rain. And in the morning, when my watch told that I shou'd go to my Surveyor, we emerg'd to find the World green, twigg'd & branch'd, but alltogether whole, thank God.

"They pursued their march through the Isle of Wight, and observed a most dreadful havoc made by a late hurricane, which happened in August 1726. The violence of it had not reached above a quarter of a mile in breadth, but within that compass had levelled all before it. Both trees and houses were levelled flat on the ground, and severall things hurled to an incredible distance. It is happy such violent gusts are confined to so a narrow channel, because they carry desolation wherever they go.
-W. Byrd, History of the Div. Line

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