Thursday, February 21, 2008

Imagined scene from the life of Thomas Jefferson

“My dear, please pass the salt,” Mr. Jefferson said passively to his daughter Patsy, looking ponderously upon his ham and eggs. “First thing you come home and Cook makes ham without any salt! What will this house come to?” Sighing deeply, Jefferson took the salt from his daughter’s hand and dumped a great deal onto his ham.
“I thought Cook would be on vacation!” Patsy said with evident surprise.
“She’s on vacation as much as a Barbary corsair is going to kiss my feet,” Jefferson said. “Meaning, of course, that she’s most decidedly not.”
“I heard about that. Don’t those men have such funny names?” Patsy laughed.
“Patsy my dear, those “men with such funny names” have been attacking our ships and doing what they please,” Mr. Jefferson said sternly, wagging his finger. “I don’t have a taste for eggs today. Let’s take a walk around Monticello.” Patsy nodded and put on her pinafore. As they walked out, Jefferson tripped on a bust of his own head he had ordered and fell forward onto Patsy’s arm.
“Damn,” he swore under his breath, and tried to regain a proper composure.
“Your own head shall be your fate, Father,” Patsy said, laughing as she leaned back on a white marble column. Jefferson smiled grimly and they strode onto the lawn. Patsy surveyed the plantation with a smile. She could see the slaves picking beans and tobacco. Belle the cow came lumbering out to greet them with her wobbly-legged calf.
“Oh Father! You didn’t tell me Belle had a calf!” Patsy said excitedly, kneeling down to feel the calf’s sandy tongue and getting grass stains on her frock. “It would have been a nice distraction.”
“Exactly,” Jefferson said. “It would have been quite a distraction. You must concentrate on your studies for now, my girl, and when you’re older then I’m sure you’ll be married to some rich young man with a plantation of your own.” Patsy sighed and ran off to see the chickens.
“Wait, Patsy!” Jefferson shouted. His leg was still sore from tripping over the bust and he found it hard to keep up with his nimble daughter.


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