[Chicago—Monday, 25 October 1875]

Monday A M. Left for Lafayette. It was rather dusty and head achy getting to L. especially as we were obliged to conclude to go home to look after our affairs there, by the end of this week if possible.

We were met at the station by a Judge Coffroth at whose house we passed the night. It was a queer place such as I never saw before precisely and trust I may not see again. We were whirled up from the station to the house in a pretty carriage with a fine pair of horses, the judge himself talking very well though with a touch of the western rudeness of manner & phrase, but his gentleness of feeling & intonation was quite evident. Arriving at the house I was ushered into a nearly unfurnished parlor, according to our ideas, with an enormous fire, by way of welcome, the day being excessively warm—yet we were glad of it, such a dreary empty air otherwise pervaded the place. The Judge presently called his little daughter of nine years of age who showed us to our bedroom. We turned the water faucet and the water came like mud smelling wretchedly. There were 2 chairs in the room one of them broken, 3 empty cologne bottles, a gas chandelier with a broken globe, a paper on the walls with a black hole broken through it into some mysterious blackness which hole had been pasted over and broken through the second time, a soiled tapestry carpet on the floor, a good mirror, a large bedstead and good bed covered with cotton sheets which had been torn and the slits run up, but the pillow cases and bolster case were of fine ruffled linen upon which I found we were expected to sleep. When we had bathed from our cologne bottle chiefly we returned to the parlor. There was a maiden lady a Miss Purdy from Mass. who talked very pleasantly. She proved to be the children’s instructress. No lady of the house appeared for full half an hour, at last a small young woman, the mother of the two children, made her appearance clad in a black silk dress trimmed with velvet & lace, the handsomest thing possible to being and made quite in style and old boots on, worn quite brown. She was as cordial as it was in her nature to be, but she was one of the foggy undeveloped natures of which we see so many in this western country. Tea was almost immediately announced, quite soon enough to lead us to feel that Mrs C. had been occupying herself with the oversight of that meal. It was a delicious meal and to us who had eaten nothing since morning most grateful. The food was well served and the table manners of the people were all good. Mrs C. apologized for the greenness of her Irish waiting woman, who was frightened as well as ignorant, but I thought everything went quite well enough.

Soon the carriage came to convey us to the lecture. There was a beautiful opera house full of well-dressed people, but I found when they were expected to perform the calisthenics of laughter they found themselves incapable of the effort and relapsed presently into a kind of comatose condition which could hardly be called a recipient state of mind. I watched one row of women in particular near me. The man at the end of the row, suddenly waked up as by a sudden illumination after the applauding of a particularly broad joke and laughed; whereupon the woman next him who looked as if the exertion of getting to the lecture had been too much for her and the further exertion of understanding it had never been taken into her calculations, laughed also at seeing the man laugh, but less vigorously—thereupon the woman next her smiled faintly. The one beyond her relaxed her muscles slightly while the one at the end remained utterly unmoved until towards the last when the laughter from across the aisle touched her.

After the lecture we drove back two at a time in a fast pattering rain, a sign of change of weather. I soon moved to go to bed being not only tired myself but seeing signs of fatigue in my host and hostess. Where upon we were asked to delay a little and glasses of indigestible wine jelly was passed about. I hailed the advent of the glasses thinking that some kind of wicked warming night-cap would be served but I found the wickedness had to be made undigestible before it could be introduced to polite society! We slept well though I must say I lay down unwillingly on those wrought and ruffled linen pillows.

Mrs C. (I cannot refrain from giving one unusual detail) came to our room door after we had retired to show me the water-closet. I found I must go through her bedroom into a place without any lock on the door, which door must be kept closed by two demi-johns provided for the purpose. This closet opened into an inner room beyond which looked like a portion of an Irish hovel. Dirty clothes were thrown without basket into one corner and the floor was uncarpeted. In the morning I found the lady’s hat had reposed on the parlor table where she had left it (as an ornament perhaps) since there was little else to be seen but an edition of Longfellow in the room.

The kindness & devotion of these good people can not be overstated. Everything possible for them to do for our comfort was done.


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