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surprise and rebuke, and dodging

      Any one who has experience in the ways and wiles of the domestic treasure, must be aware of the painful lack of consideration sometimes evinced by turkeys in this apparently simple matter of allowing themselves to be housed. Some evenings, they march straight into their apartment with the directness and precision of soldiers filing into barracks; on others the very prince of darkness, backed by the three fates and the three furies, apparently takes possession of the perverse, shallow-pated birds. They wander [106] backward and forward, with an air of vacancy as though they knew not what to do; they pass and repass the yawning portal of the turkey house, with heads erect and eyes fixed on futurity, not only as if they did not see the door, but actually as if there were no door there to see. And when the maddened driver, wrought to desperation, hurls into their midst a stick or stone, hoping fervently and vengefully that it may break a neck or a leg, they leap nimbly into the air with “put-putterings” of surprise and rebuke, and then advance cautiously upon the missile and examine it.
      The Lanarth turkeys were behaving in just this represensible manner, and Pocahontas was working herself into a frenzy over them. Three times she engineered the flock successfully up to the open door, and three times the same old brown hen advanced, peered cautiously into the house, started tragically aside as though she beheld some evil thing, and produced a panic and a stampede.
      “You miserable wretch!” exclaimed Pocahontas, hurling her empty basket impotently at the dusky author of her woe “I could kill you! Shoo! shoo! Sawney, why don’t you help me? Head them! [107] Run round them! Shoo! shoo! you abominable creatures!”
      Sawney essayed to obey, grasping the straps of his boots, and lifting his feet very high.
      “Take them off and run,” commanded Pocahontas. But Sawney would as soon have parted with his skin. “I dwine ter run,” he responded, and gripped his boots valiantly. It was of no use. Sawney had gotten too much boot for his money, and if walking in them was difficult, running was impossible. He held on to them bravely, but that only impeded progress further; the faithless cowhides wabbled, twisted, and finally landed him sprawling on his back in the middle of the flock, which promptly retired to distant parts of the poultry yard, “puttering” and dodging.

ex Princess By M. G. McClelland, author of “Oblivion” (1886) : 106 and 107

references and notes

  1. Mary Greenway McClelland (1853-1895), wikipedia
  2. Harriet R. Holman, “Mary Greenway McClelland, 1853-1895,” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 56:3 (July 1948) : 294-298 : link (accessed 20230209)
  3. “Yet it is doubtful whether Miss McClelland has contributed to Southern literature any character that will live. Her talent lay, not in subtle analysis or delineation of character, or in skilful development of plot, as in sympathetic, truthful portrayal of scenes of Southern life; traveling on the James River Canal; a cypress swamp in Louisiana; a mountain flood in North Carolina; plantation lie on the lower James; and negro customs and superstitions.”
    John McClaren McBryde, Jr., “Mary Greenway McClelland, 1853-1895,” in Library of Souther Literature. Compiled under the direct supervision of Southern Men of Letters. Edwin Anderson Alderman, Joel Chandler Harris, editors in chief; Charles William Kent, literary editor. Illustrated.
    “Published under the approval and patronage of distinguished citizens of the South.”
    The Martin & Hoyt Company, New Orleans, Atlanta, Dallas Volume 8 : Madison-Murfree (1907; this 1909) : 3477-3504 : link (3480)
    McBride finds much that is lacking, distasteful and morbid in McClelland’s writing. John Claren McBride (1841-1943), fifth president of what is now Virginia Techwikipedia
  4. Jane Turner Censer, “Reimagining the North-South Reunion: Southern Women Novelists and the Intersectional Romance, 1876-1900,” Southern Cultures 5:2 (Summer 1999) 64-91 : link
    an interesting review of the first decades of post-War fiction set in the South — focusing on Sherwood Bonner, M. G. McClelland and Julia Magruder — and how things would soon shift.


  5.       They had called her “Pocahontas” in obedience to the unwritten law of sourthern families, which decrees that an ancestor’s sin of distinction shall be visited on generations of descendants, in the perpetuation of a name no matter what its hideousness. It seems a peculiarity of distinguished persons to possess names singularly devoid of beauty; therefore, the burdens entailed by pride upon posterity, this is a grievous one. Some families, with the forest taint in their blood, at an early date took refuge in the softer, prettier “Matoaca;” but not so the Masons. It was was their pride that they never shirked an obligation, or evaded a responsibility...

    Pocahontas is the novel’s eponymous heroine. See account of her and her family, pp28-32 : link

          To the present Pocahontas (the eighth in the line) it really seemed as though the thing should stop. She yielded to the family fiat in her own case, because not having been consulted she had no option in the matter, but when Grace’s little daughter was born she put in a plea for the child... (p30)

14 February 2023