9

Here is full paragraph:

Pa was on top of the walls, stretching the canvas wagon-top over the skeleton roof of saplings. The canvas billowed in the wind, Pa's beard blew wildly and his hair stood up from his head as if it were trying to pull itself out. He held on to the canvas and fought it. Once it jerked so hard that Laura thought he must let go or sail into the air like a bird. But he held tight to the wall with his legs, and tight to the canvas with his hands, and he tied it down. "There!" he said to it. "Stay where you are, and be—" "Charles!" Ma said. She stood with her arms full of quilts and looked up at him reprovingly. "—and be good," Pa said to the canvas. "Why, Caroline, what did you think I was going to say?" "Oh, Charles!" Ma said. "You scalawag!"

What would a real pioneer say back then?

Edit:
It's clear that he was going to say something not appropriate for the kids to hear. I want to know what phrase he would've used, maybe there are suitable idioms in the pioneer's jargon or it would've been just common expression. I just can't guess it, nothing sounds right.

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    It's clear to me what you're asking, but I can only hazard a guess, after he held tight to the wall with his legs, and tight to the canvas with his hands. "Stay where you are and be loved." Quoting Browning, more or less? – TRomano Nov 29 '14 at 17:51
  • @TRomano, thank you for the answer, but I can't take it seriously. – contemplator Nov 29 '14 at 20:50
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    Since Charles (Pa) has just been struggling to attach the canvas wagon top over the top of his unroofed house in a strong wind, he is both tired and triumphant when he succeeds. His wife suspects that he is about to say "and be damned!" to the balky canvas. An example of such usage appears in History of Eastern Vermont, volume 2 (1865): "He [the sheriff] then read the riot act to them [the rioters], and ordered them to disperse within one hour, and told them that if they did not ... he would most certainly order the Posse to fire on them; to which they replied 'Fire and be damned!'" – Sven Yargs Nov 29 '14 at 21:37
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    Likewise, from Blackwood's Magazine (1822): "Answer it, and be damned!" retorted Odoherty; and flinging it, either by accident or design, into the silver coffee-pot..." And from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845): "'Shoot, shoot, — and be damned! I won't be tied!' This he said in a tone of loud defiance..." And from Andrew Jenson, The Historical Record (1886): The Historical Record_ (1886): "Wight replied, 'Shoot and be damned.' This was the true character of Lyman Wight; he was true as the sun to Joseph Smith, and would die for his friends." – Sven Yargs Nov 29 '14 at 21:37
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    Also, Francis Parkman, The Conspiracy of the Pontiac and the Indian War After the Conquest of Canada, volume 2 (1870) has an example involving "stay": "At length, declaring that provisions were failing and the season growing late, he [Colonel Bradstreet] resolved to return home ; and broke up his camp with such preoipitancy that two soldiers, who had gone out in the morning to catch fish for his table, were inhumanly left behind; the colonel remarking that they might stay and be damned." – Sven Yargs Nov 29 '14 at 22:06
8

Since Charles (Pa) has just been struggling to attach the canvas wagon top over the top of his unroofed house in a strong wind, he is both tired and triumphant when he succeeds. His wife suspects that he is about to say "and be damned!" to the balky canvas. An example of such usage appears in Benjamin Hall, History of Eastern Vermont, volume 2 (1865):

He [the sheriff] then read the riot act to them [the rioters], and ordered them to disperse within one hour, and told them, that if they did not disperse within that time, and cease their opposition to his entrance into the Court House, he would most certainly order the Posse to fire on them; to which they replied 'Fire and be damned! If you do, the hardest fend off.'

Likewise, from Christopher North, "Postscript to the Public" in Blackwood's Magazine (July 1822):

"Must I answer it?" quoth we, mildly. "Answer it, and be damned!" retorted Odoherty; and flinging it, either by accident or design, into the silver coffee-pot, whose mouth we had just opened, to take a peep into the contents, now low as the funds during the mutiny at the Nore, stalked majestically across our study in three strides...

And from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845):

"Shoot me! shoot me!" said Henry; "you can't kill me but once. Shoot, shoot,—and be damned! I won't be tied!' This he said in a tone of loud defiance; and at the same time, with a motion as quick as lightning, he with one single stroke dashed the pistols from the hand of each constable.

And from Andrew Jenson, "The Twelve Apostles" in The Historical Record (December 1886):

Wilson said, "Wight, you are a strange man ; but if you will not accept my proposal, you will be shot to-morrow morning at 8." Wight replied, 'Shoot and be damned.'

And finally, an example where stay precedes the infernal invitation. From Francis Parkman, The Conspiracy of the Pontiac and the Indian War After the Conquest of Canada, volume 2 (1870):

At length, declaring that provisions were failing and the season growing late, he [Colonel Bradstreet] resolved to return home ; and broke up his camp with such precipitancy that two soldiers, who had gone out in the morning to catch fish for his table, were inhumanly left behind; the colonel remarking that they might stay and be damned.

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