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Title: Up Terrapin River
Author: Read, Opie P.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Up Terrapin River" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



  UP TERRAPIN RIVER.

  BY

  OPIE P. READ.

  CHICAGO AND NEW YORK:
  RAND, MCNALLY & COMPANY, PUBLISHERS



UP TERRAPIN RIVER.



CHAPTER I.


Terrapin River flows through the northern part of Arkansas. It is a
small stream, winding its way among hills, which here with graceful
slope, and there with rugged brows, overlook the smooth and gliding
water. The water, when the current is not swollen, is so clear that the
stream suggests the blended flow of countless dewdrops. The brooks that
flow into Terrapin River seem to float down sun-beams, gathered in the
hill-tops. Up the "hollow," the cow-bell's mellow clang floats away
in slowly dying echo. The spring frog struggles through a miniature
forest of rank ferns; the dew that has gathered on the rugged cliffs,
trickles slowly down at the rising sun's command, like tears flowing
along the wrinkles of a time-worn face. The soft air plays in gentle
hide-and-seek, and the wild rose, leaning over, bathes its blushing
face in the mirroring stream.

The country through which Upper Terrapin River flows is slow of
agricultural development. Wild hogs abound in the cane-brakes, and
on the hill-sides, where the dogwood saplings tangle their blooming
boughs in perfumed network, the bristling deer kills the rattlesnake,
and the wild turkey-gobbler struts in barbaric vanity. The shriek of
the steam-whistle has never disturbed the blue jay's noontide nap, but
the water-mill, with its rhythmic splash, grinds the corn which the
whistling boy, barefoot and astride the sack, brings from over the
hills.

The rankest of corn grows in the "bottoms," and on the uplands the
passing breezes steal the fragrance of the mellowest of horse-apples.
The people, the most of them at least, are rude of speech. To them
the smooth sentences of culture are as over-ripe strawberries--unfit
for use. The popular estimate of a man's mental strength in this
neighborhood is based upon the roughness of his expressions. There
are schools, but, save in the winter, they are ill attended, for the
children, so soon as they are old enough to study, are also large
enough to lend important aid to the cultivation of the crops. Among
those people there are many peculiar characters. They know of no
country but America, and are therefore strictly American. They have
a half-formed idea that there is an outside world, and that Andrew
Jackson whipped it; and tradition tells them that George Washington
became involved in a quarrel with a king, an awful monster with
horns of gold, boxed his jaws, knocked off his horns, and sent him
howling home. Their ignorance is not of the pernicious sort, but of
that humorous kind which finds bright laughter clinging to the very
semblance of a joke.

One afternoon a boy was plowing corn in a field not far from the river.
He was apparently about sixteen years old. Under the sunburn on his
face there could be seen the soft color of sadness. He was tall and
well formed, and his eyes, when he looked up to tell the time of day by
the sun, showed, by their wide-open earnestness--if there be anything
in such surmises--that his nature was deep and his disposition frank.
He had reached the end of the row, near a rail fence along whose
zig-zag way there ran a road half overgrown with briers, and, after
turning his horse about, was fanning himself with his broad-brim straw
hat, when someone called out:

"Halloa, young man!"

The plowboy looked around and saw a man standing on the road-side, with
his arms resting on the top rail of the fence. The man was of uncommon
height, and his hair and bushy beard were of such fiery red as they
caught a sunbeam that came down through the wavering boughs of an oak,
that the boy, bursting into a laugh, cried out: "Ef you ain't on fire,
I never seed er bresh heap a burnin'."

"Well," the man replied, with a smile of good nature, "I'm not exactly
burning, but I am pretty warm. Drive your horse up there in the shade,
and come over and sit down awhile. You look as if you are tired, and
besides, I feel disposed to talk to someone."

"I am tired," the boy rejoined, "but ef my uncle wuz ter ketch me er
settin' erroun', he mout norate it about that I'm lazy.

"The fresh-stirred soil shows that you have plowed many furrows to day.
If your uncle should circulate such a report," he added, with another
good-natured smile, "I will go with you about the neighborhood, and
assist you in correcting it. Come, for I know that in talking with me,
you would not be ill-spending your time."

"Then I reckon you air a school-teacher."

"No, I am nothing--nothing but an everyday sort of wayward man."

"B'l'eve I'll jine you wunst jest fur luck."

He drove his horse into a fence-corner, where the tall alder bushes
cast an inviting shadow, and joined the man, who had sat down with his
back against a tree.

"What is your name?" the man asked.

"John Lucas. What's yo'n?"

"Sam Potter."

"You air a mighty big man, Mr. Potter, an' I reckon you'd be a powerful
fine han' ter break a yoke uv steers. Peers ter me like ef I wuz
ez strong ez you air, I'd go roun' the country an' grab er-holt uv
cattle, an' hold em' jest fur the fun uv seein' 'em kick." He laughed
boisterously, and then, when his many shouts had ceased, Potter saw the
soft color of sadness, under the sunburn on his face.

"Just now you spoke of your uncle," said Potter; "do you live with him?"

"Yes, sir. My daddy an' mammy wuz drownded a long time ergo, in the
river up yander at the fo'd. Did you come that er way?"

"Yes."

"Did you see er tall rock stickin' up outen the groun'?"

"I think I did."

"Wall, I put that rock thar when I got big ernuff. It's ther tombstone."

"Are they buried there?"

"No; they wuz washed erway, an' never wuz found, an' I put that
rock thar becaze it is the place whar they wuz last seed. Thar's a
caterpiller on yo' neck. Let me bresh him off."

"John, I rather like you."

"Much erbleeged ter you, sir."

"And I think that there is about you excellent material for the making
of a man."

"I dunno; but that's what old Alf says."

"Who is old Alf?"

"He's a nigger; but lemme tell you thar ain't no whiter man nowhar than
he is. He works fur my uncle, ur ruther sorter craps it on the sheers.
He don't peer to kere fur nobody much but me an' his daughter, that's
all crippled up with the rheumatiz, an' when she cries in the night
with her pains, it don't make no diffunce how hard he has worked durin'
the day, he takes her up in his arms, an' walks erbout with her till
she hushes. That's what I call a white man. Whar air you frum, Mr.
Potter?"

"From almost everywhere."

"Whar do you live?"

"Nearly everywhere."

"Ain't you got nothin' ter bind you down ter one place?"

"No."

"Then you ain't ez well off ez old Alf, fur he has got that little
crippled-up gal."

Potter bent upon the boy a look of contemplation, and addressing
himself more than his companion, said: "Ah, young man, you do not know
the force of your own philosophy. From the woods there often come
the simple words of truest wisdom. Any tie of life that holds us to
someone, although at times its straining may fall little short of
agony, is better far than slip-shod freedom from responsibilty."

"You talk like er preacher," said the boy. "Air you one?"

"No. As I told you, I am not anything, except a tramp. I used to be a
sort of lawyer, but my neglect of law texts and love for other books
drove my clients away. What's that noise?"

"It's the dinner ho'n, an' I ain't sorry ter hear it, nuther. Won't
you come ter the house, an' take pot-luck with us? Ain't fur. See," he
added; "its right over yander on the hill."

"I will go with you, John, for to tell the truth, I am as hungry as a
bear. Wait a moment until I get my carpet-bag. There is nothing in it
but a shirt and a few old books--nothing in it to eat, I well know."

When they reached the stable, Potter climbed up into the loft, to throw
down some corn and fodder, while John was taking the gear off of the
horse.

"Now we'll go ter the house," said John, when Potter had come down,
"but ez we walk erlong lemme tell you suthin'. No matter whut Aunt
Liz says, don't pay no ertention to her. Mebbe she won't say nuthin'
much, but ef she's on one uv her tantrums, ez Uncle Jeff calls 'em,
she's mighty ap' ter make you bat yo' eyes like dust wuz er-blowin'
yo' way, but keep on er battin' an' don't say nuthin'. You mout think
that she is the audationist woman you ever seed, an' it mout 'pear like
she's goin' ter eat you bodatiously up, but ez I said befo' keep on e'
battin' an' don't say nuthin'!"

Just as they were entering the yard, a woman's shrill voice cried out:
"My stairs, John, who on the top uv the yeth have you picked up this
time? Wall, ef he ain't er sight fur ter see I wish I may never stir
agin."

"Keep on er battin'," John whispered.

"Fur pity sake," the woman continued, "is he er red shanghai ur old
Satan's whut not? John, I oughter bump yo' head ergin the wall fur
pickin' up ever rag-tag an' bob-tail that comes erlong."

"Madam," said Potter, making a profound bow, "I hope I do not intrude."

"Lissen at him! My stairs, he's the biggest thing I ever seed lessen it
wuz on wheels."

"Hush, an' keep on er battin'," whispered John.

"I never seed the like in my borned days," the woman went on. "The
shotes got in the garden, an' momoxed up the cabbages, an' now the
fetchtaked bucket had to git off down in the well. Pap, he's gone ter
the blacksmith shop, an' old Alf is er-pokin' roun' summers, an' thar
aint er body on the place ter do nothin'. Shew thar! The fetchtaked
hens is boun' ter scratch up the red pepper, an' the red ca'f has run
agin the corner uv the fence an' mighty nigh killed hisse'f. Laws er
massy, it do 'pear like eve'thing is goin' ter rack and ruin."

Potter, as he stood looking at her, thought that he had never before
seen so strange a creature. She was angular, and, using a country
expression descriptive of extreme leanness, was rawboned. Her iron-gray
hair stood out in frowsy fierceness, and her fading black eyes seemed
never to have been lighted with a glow of gentleness. She had a
snarling habit of wrinkling her long, sharp nose, and at times all her
ill-nature would apparently find settlement on a hair-covered mole that
grew on her chin.

"Madam," said Potter, "I don't think that I can repair all the damage
that has been done, but if you will show me the well I will make an
effort to get the bucket."

"Yander," she replied, pointing.

He went to the well, climbed down the rough stones of the wall by
placing his feet on each side, and soon came up with the bucket.

"Wall, ef he ain't got it, hope I may never stir agin," the woman
exclaimed. "Yander is pap."

A man well advanced in years dismounted from a swayback horse at the
gate, threw a plow point on the ground and came forward. So far from
being ill-looking, there was something comical about him.

"Uncle Jeff," said the boy, "this here man's name is Potter. I met him
over at the fiel' an' axed him ter come ter dinner with me, an' he
'lowed he wuz as hungry as a b'ar."

"How air you, sir? Glad to make yo' 'quaintance. We ain't got no great
show uv suthin' ter eat, but I reckin we kin sorter dam up yo' appetite
er leetle."

"Pap," said the woman, "erbody ter hear you talk would think that we
never did have nuthin' ter eat. I spize ter see er man ack like he
didn't have no raisin'."

"Yas," the old fellow replied, "but I'd ruther see that than ter see er
woman with the tanterums."

She cast a quick glance at him, wrinkled her nose, and then turning
away, said:

"Come on in now, an' let yo vidults stop yo' mouth."

During the meal, Potter talked with the spirit of such entertainment,
that at times the old man sat in open-mouth heed of his words; and
the old woman, forgetful of her snappishness, bestowed upon him many
glances of not unkind attention. After dinner, as they sat under the
trees in the yard, the old man, addressing John, said:

"Ez it is Saturday evenin', you mout ez well knock off yo' plowin' fur
the balunce uv the day. Me an' yo' aunt Liz is goin' over ter Frazier's
ter stay all night, an' go frum thar ter meetin' ter-mor'. Thar's
plenty ter eat cooked, an' ef yo' frien' wants ter stay here with you,
all right."

The boy's face lighted up with a smile, and turning to Potter, he said:

"Wish you would stay."

"I will," replied Potter.

When old Jeff and his wife had gone, when the horses' hoofs, rattling
over the flinty road, were no longer heard, John, awakening from a
seeming reverie, arose, placed his hands with a sort of tender touch
on the back of Potter's chair, and said:

"I am powerful glad you air goin' to stay, for you air the first great
big man that ever tuck the trouble ter talk much ter me. I aint never
been cuffed erroun' none, but thar is a heap er ways to make er boy
feel bad without cuffin' him erroun'. Not understandin' him is er putty
sho way uv hurtin' his feelin's."

"You are right, and I wonder that a boy of your surroundings should
have such ripe conclusions--I mean that I am surprised at your good
sense."

"I hope I don't look like er fool."

"Oh, no," Potter quickly rejoined; "there is at times about your face
a glow of struggling inspiration--I mean that I like your face. If we
were together very long I think I could teach you to understand my odd
expressions."

"It would be ez good ez understandin' uv er book, wouldn't it?"

"Well, I could help you to understand books, and books would help you
to understand me."

John sat down, and Potter, glancing at him, saw that on his face there
lay a strange expression--that through the soft color of sadness a ray
of hope was shining. At length the boy said:

"Uncle Jeff told me the other day that the best way fur er boy ter make
er man outen hisse'f is ter git out an' hussle. He ken git ernuther boy
ter plow for his vidults an' clothes. Let me go with you."

"What, do you mean that you really want to go with me?"

"Yas."

"Let me lie down under this tree and sleep a little while, John. When I
awake we will talk over the matter. The fact is I have been walking all
day and am very tired."



CHAPTER II.


Had Potter been less tired, to sleep would not have required an effort.
Nature's noises, it seemed, had conspired to "weigh the eyelids down"
with pleasant drowsiness. The "chatter-jack," clinging to the nodding
iron-weed's purple top, trilled his carol in praise of midsummer. The
cat-bird, with soft nursing song, taught her young ones among the
trumpet vines; and all the sounds were gathered up and borne away by
breezes that brought sweetened scents from gullied hill-sides where
larkspurs grew.

The boy sat gazing at his new-found friend, and with that innate
admiration of the powerful, which is felt alike by the savage and the
cultivated man, contemplated his great chest and mighty arms. Nature's
sleep-wooing sounds began to affect him. He nodded, and felt himself
sliding from the chair, but making no effort to regain his seat, he
stretched himself upon the grass and slept.

When John opened his eyes, he saw Potter sitting on a chair looking at
him.

"Well, my young friend, have you enjoyed your nap?"

"Yes, sir. Seein' you sleep so easy, made me sleepy. Now," he continued
as he got up, "let's talk erbout me goin' with you."

"All right. I have just thought of a plan that will be better for us
than to stroll about the country. There, I see you are disappointed.
Let me explain my plan. I thought that we might rent a small farm
somewhere in this neighborhood, and together cultivate it. We would
not permit our work to interfere with necessary pleasure. We would
not strive to make money, but would compel our farm to render us
liberal support. In season we could hunt and fish, and beside our own
fire-place, we could grow wise in the study of books. I would be your
teacher. You spoke of the negro, old Alf. Let him and his daughter
go with us. After a few years you would be fitted to go out into the
world. Ah, your eyes brighten. You approve of the plan?"

"Yes, sir. If you will learn me how to read I'll go anywhar with you."

"I will take as much pains with you as if you were my son. You may
wonder why I wish to settle down in such an out-of-the-way place. After
awhile you shall know--I hope."

"Why do you say you hope; kain't you tell me now?"

"No, not now; perhaps never, but I hope to--well, we will talk
about that some other time. All I ask of you now is to have perfect
confidence in me. It is a strange request, no doubt, but you shall not
regret the granting of it. Who is that coming?"

"Alf," the boy replied.

A negro, not very large, and yet seemingly possessed of much strength,
climbed over the fence, hung a scythe in a tree, and approached the
place where Potter and John were sitting. His face was a study of good
humor, tenderness, and quaint thoughtfulness. He was more intelligent
than the average man of the neighborhood. He had lived in other parts
of the country, and had, before the war, belong to a North Carolina
planter.

When John introduced him to Potter, and when Potter had courteously
taken his hand, Alf, removing his straw hat, made a profound bow and
said:

"I'se mighty pleased ter meet you, sah, caze I sees de true genermen er
shinin' on yo' face; but lemme tell you, white man, I wouldn't hab you
hit me wid dat fist o' yo'n fur all de co'n dars gwine ter be raised in
dis yere county fur two year. Er haw, haw! If dis man doan tote er maul
'roun' wid him I neber seed one. Look here, Mr. Potter, whar you frum,
nohow?"

"As I told our friend John, I am from nearly everywhere."

"Yas, sah, I better b'leve you is, better b'leve dat fur er fact,
caze da ain't turnin' out sich men in dis yere 'munity at de present
ercasion. Haw, haw! John, jes look at dat man, will you? Huh, er pusson
would be flingin' way his time ter come projickin wid you; but lemme
tell you, I likes er big man. Dar's a heep mo' comferdence ter be put
in er hoss den dar is in er fox. Yas, sah, yas. How long you gwinter
circle 'roun' in dis yere neighborhood, Mr. Potter?"

Potter replied by gradually unfolding his plan. Old Alf listened with
his head turned to one side, like a blackbird that hears the twanging
of a fiddlestring. When Potter had concluded, old Alf scratched his
head for a moment, and then, addressing John, remarked:

"Dem's calkerlations, I tell you dat. Whut does yo'se'l think erbout
it?"

"Fits me so well," John replied, "that I feel like gittin' out thar an'
caperin' 'round like er ca'f. I ain't had no chances; Alf, you know
that. I have allus been tied down here with er putty short rope, too,
an' ain't had er chance ter graze out ter the end uv the line; an' I've
pulled agin the rope till my neck is gettin' putty sore, yit knowin'
all the time that ef I broke the rope I wouldn't know whar ter go, nor
what ter do arter I got thar."

"Talkin' like er floserfer an' er gogerfy an' er rithermertik, now,
chile. I thinks it will be er good thing myse'f," old Alf went on. "I
knows what edycation is--knows what it is by de lack o' it. Dar's one
man dat knows de full wuth o' er dollar, an' dat's de man dat ain't got
it."

"You can trust me," said Potter, "to carry out with the utmost
faithfulness my part of the contract. Of course, I am a stranger to
both of you, but----"

"Jes hol' on er minnit," Alf broke in. "You ain't gwine tell us how
hones' you is, I hope."

"Oh, no; for I do not claim to be more honest than the average man is."

"Glad ter yere you say dat, fur de man dat's allus er talkin' 'bout how
hones' he is, an' sorter wants ter prove 'fo' anybody dun 'sputed it,
is 'spicious o' de fack hisse'f, an' de proof is 'tended ter 'vince his
own mine ez much ez it is de folks dat's listenin' ter him. Dar wuz er
man in ole North Kliney dat one day while ridin' long de pike come ter
er toll gate. De gate wuz open, but dar wa'nt nobody at de house. De
man looked way 'cross de fiel', he did, an' he seed de toll-gate keeper
at work. He pitched out ober dar, er ha'f mile through de brilin' sun,
an' gin de man five cents. 'You'se de hones' man I eber seed,' said de
toll-gate keeper, 'ter come all ober dis hot groun' ter gin me five
cents.' 'Yas,' said de traveler, sorter drawin' his mouf down like he
been eatin' er green pear, 'nobody is mo' hones' den I is.' He went on
er way, an' sah, in three munts from dat time he'd dun been sent ter de
penytenchy fur stealin' er hoss."

Potter laughed with good-natured uproar--laughed so loud that a bee
martin, which had just alighted on the fence, flapped its wings in
sudden fright and flew away.

"I am not going about making a show of honesty, Alf," said Potter, when
the echo of his merriment had died in the valley.

"Glad to know dat, sah, mighty glad ter know it ef I'se gwine ter hab
dealin's wid you. I ken tell de right sort o' man putty nigh ever'
time. I'll go inter dis 'rangement, caze we'll hab er lot o' fun 'long
wid our work."

"Do you like to fish, Alf?"

"Do er yaller dog like er fried chicken?"

"Well, I rather think he does."

"Uh, huh. Wall den, I likes ter fish."

"Do you like to hunt?"

"Do er muley steer like de sweet grass dat grows in de cornder o' de
fence up ergin de bottom rail?"

"It strikes me that he does."

"Uh, huh. Wall, it strikes me dat I likes ter hunt."

"Mr. Potter," said John, "the sun is er goin' down an' its erbout time
we wuz eatin' uv er snack. You an' Alf jest keep on er talkin' while I
go an' put the vidults on the table."

"Dat's er monster fine boy," said Alf, when John had gone into the
house. "He's sorter quiet now caze he ain't much erquainted, but airter
while he'll argy er p'int wid you. Dar ain't nobody dat's got er better
heart den he has, but lemme tell you, dat white boy ain't erfeerd o'
ole Nick hisse'f."

"I have known him but a few hours," Potter replied, "but I have become
much attached to him. Where is your daughter. Alf?"

"Ober yander in er cabin on de hillside. Ef you lissun you mout yere
her singin', dat is, ef her pains ain't on her. Po' chile, she hab paid
mighty dear fur de singin' she's done in dis yere life; but her reward
gwine ter come airter while, Mr. Potter. Her crown goin' ter be mighty
bright--rubbed bright wid de soft rag o' long sufferin', sah. Huh, my
mouf waters now when I think 'bout dem huntin' sprees we'se gwine ter
hab; an' lemme tell you, I knows whar de b'ars is way up de riber in de
canebrakes, knows zactly whar da uses. John he's got er rifle mighty
nigh long ez he is, an' I'se got one deze yere army guns--her name's
Nance--dat shoots--wall, when er bullet gits outen dat gun it jes keeps
on er goin', it peer like, an' I hab trained her sights down till she
shoots right whar I hol's her, too. Dar, John say come on."

They went into the house. Alf did not care for anything to eat. He had
eaten just before leaving home, but he found so much satisfaction in
seeing his friends eat that he would take a seat near the table and
watch the performance. The old negro became more and more interested in
Potter, and occasionally, after a sort of digestive contemplation of
a remark made by the gigantic guest, he would slowly nod his head in
thorough approval. Suddenly he slapped his leg and exclaimed:

"De Lawd is already dun hepped us out on dis yere pilgumage by puttin'
me in mine o' de very place we wants. Up de river 'bout six miles
frum yere--John, you know de place--dar's er farm o' some sebenty-five
acres, er good 'eal o' it dun cleared. Some o' it is in de riber bottom
an' is monst'us rich. B'longs ter ole man Sevier dat libes 'bout two
mile frum yere. Think we ken git it fur mighty low rent, fur nobody
ain't lived on it fur three ur fo' year. How does dem obserwations
strike de 'sembly?"

Potter and John were delighted with the prospect of so early a ripening
of their hopes. The place was in the edge of a wild section of the
country. So much the better. It was at least two miles from any other
house. Better still.

"Uncle Jeff won't object to me goin'," said John, "but Aunt Liz will,
not 'cause she's afeerd I won't do well, but 'cause----"

"'Cause she's feerd you will," old Alf broke in. "Oh, I knows dat lady.
Haw, haw! Knows dat lady frum way back yander way up inter de time whut
ain't got yere yit, but dat doan make no diffunce. We'll whittle off
all de wrinkles on de ho'n o' her ubjections."

"You are the most figurative man I ever knew," Potter smilingly
remarked.

"Oh, no, sah, dat's whar you's wrong. I ain't figertive hardly none.
I ken make er figer one an' ken cut er mighty caper wid er figer two,
but I kain't add 'em tergedder 'cept I do it in my mine; but let us
git down ter dis yere bizness. I'll go ober ter ole man Sevier's dis
ebenin' an' tell him ter drap ober yere arly Monday mawnin', an' he'll
come, lemme tell you, fur he is ez keen ter let us hab dat place ez we
is ter git it. B'lebe I'll go dis minit," he added, taking up his hat.
"Good ebenin', 'panions o' de mighty fine enterprise; good ebenin' ter
you."

Potter and John talked until a late hour and then went to bed up near
the clapboard roof. John soon sank to sleep. Potter lay gazing at the
stars that winked through holes in the roof. A whippoorwill sat on the
stack chimney and sang a lonesome song, but a cricket came out from
under an old trunk, stopped in a bar of moonlight that fell on the
floor, and chirruped merrily. The screech-owl, muffling and fluttering
among the damp leaves of the rank greenbrier, cried with annoying
cadence, but the tree-toad, with his somnolent croak, smoothed down the
pillow with gentle sleepiness.

Potter was awakend by John, who called him to breakfast. Old Alf soon
came. Old man Sevier would be pleased to rent his farm. He cared not
so much for the money as for the improvements that might be made.
The morning hours were spent in a delighted talking over of maturing
plans. In the afternoon old Jeff and his wife returned. Old Jeff smiled
upon the project, but the old woman wrinkled her long nose, drove
to the mole on her chin the wavering lines of dissatisfaction, and
declared that people who took up with every rag-tag that came along
always starved to death or had to beg among the neighbors. Everyone
knew that she had done her duty by John, and why he wanted to leave
was something she could not understand. "You never seed this man till
yistidy," the old woman went on, addressing her nephew, "an' I don't
know why in the name uv common sense you wanter foller him off. Jest
like men folks, anyway. Anybody ken come erlong an' lead 'em by the
nose. Alf!"

"Yessum."

"Ain't you got no sense?"

"Wall'um, I'se got mo' den de man dat tried ter rive clapboards wid er
razor an' den tried ter shave hisse'f wid er froe."

"I don't b'leve it."

"I kaint hep dat. Mr. Potter, doan pay no 'tention ter de lady, sah."

"You good for nuthin' black imp, you neenter be er tellin' nobody what
ter do on my ercount."

"Come, come," said old Jeff; "ef you must chop wood be keerful uv yo'
chips. Ef John wants ter go, w'y he's goin', that's all. He won't be so
fur erway but you ken see him ever' once in er while."

"Oh, I won't be hankerin' airter seein' him. He ain't no blood kin uv
mine, the Lawd knows."

"Madam," said Potter, "I am very sorry that I have caused----"

"Oh, shet ye' mouth," she snapped. "You don't know what you ase sorry
uv."

With the exception of an occasional outburst from the old woman the
remainder of the day was passed pleasantly. Early the next morning
Sevier came over. The farm was rented on easy terms. Preparations for
immediate departure were begun. John and Alf each owned a horse. Alf
had two plows and several hoes. Old Jeff would lend them his wagon to
haul their "plunder" over to their new home. Just as they had finished
loading the wagon Alf's daughter came, walking with a crutch. She was
but little more than a child, and though she bore the marks of great
suffering yet she was bright and cheerful. When everything was ready,
old Alf, taking hold of his daughter's arm, said: "Jule, me'n you will
ride up yere on dis seat, fur I gwine ter drive. Mr. Potter, you an'
John set back dar on dat straw bed."

Jeff and his wife were standing near the wagon. Mrs. Lucas, while
watching the smallest detail of every movement, kept up a constant
wrinkling of her nose. "This is the biggest fool caper I ever seed,"
she declared. "Shew, thar! the fetchtaked chickens air scratchin' up
the pepper agin. The biggest fool caper I ever seed."

"I knowd o' er bigger one once," Alf replied, slily winking at Jeff.

"I don't know when it wuz."

"It wuz the time," Alf rejoined, again winking at Jeff, "that one o'
the Scroggins boys clim up a sycamore tree an' tried to blow out de
moon."

"Oh, go on an' keep yo' mouth shet."

"I'se gwine on, lady, but I kaint promise you ter keep my mouf shet,
fur de man dat keeps his mouf shet is gwine ter starve, caze lessen he
opens it he kaint put nuthen ter eat in it--er haw, haw."

"Oh, shet up. Jest ter think you would run erway and leave er
half-grown crap."

"Me an' Mr. Jeff dun fixed dat, lady."

"Oh, I'll be bound he'd fix anything that don't take no trouble. Stands
thar now, grinnin' like er possum. Don't peer like he'd kere whuther we
raise a crap or not. Thar, drive on with you, now. Never seed sich a
fool caper in my life. Bet you all starve to death."

It was so early when they drove off that the dew was still dripping
from a vine-covered tree. Alf and his daughter hummed a tune. John,
placing one hand on Potter's knee, looked earnestly into his face and
said:

"This is the happiest day uv my life."

"Ah, my boy, we may spend many happy days together. I was just thinking
how, in my case, a few hours had brought such a change--the change from
a tramp to a man who is driving toward his own home."

"Whoa, whoa," exclaimed Alf, pulling on the lines. "John, reach back
dar an' han' me Ole Nance (meaning his gun). Come back yere, Pete, you
triflin' raskil (addressing his dog)."

"What's the matter?" Potter asked.

"Matter? Is you so blind dat you kaint see dat monst'us rattlesnake
crossin' de road right up dar?"

"My gracious, what a monster!" Potter exclaimed.

"Yas," replied Alf, as he took his gun and cautiously climbed down out
of the wagon, "an' he ain't eat no less'n er ha'f er dozen squirrels
fur his breakfast. Git out, generman, an' watch de 'formance."

Potter and John got out. Alf continued: "Wait till he curls an' hol's
up his head. Doan git up too close, caze he blow at you an' make you
sick. Greshus, how pizen he is. Now hol' on."

The snake was holding up its head. Alf took deliberate aim and fired.
Instantly the reptile was a twisting and tumbling mass of yellow and
black and green.

"He's lookin' round fur his head," Alf remarked, "but he ain't gwine
ter find it dis mawnin'. Wait till I pull off his rattles. Wants 'em
ter put in my fiddle."

He pulled off the rattles while the snake was still writhing, and, as
he climbed back into the wagon, remarked: "It's allus a sign o' good
luck ter kill er rattlesnake dat's crossin' yo' road. Get-ep, boys."

They crossed the beautiful river and drove up the stream.

"Yander is de place," said Alf, pointing.

Yes, it was the place--a place from which John's life was to turn in a
new direction--a place of learning, romance, and adventure--a place of
laughter and of tears.



CHAPTER III.


The house was situated on a hill near the river. From one of its
windows the crystal stream could be seen. Every surrounding was
attractive to a lover of nature. The house was built of logs and
contained two rooms. In one of the rooms there was a great fireplace.
It did not take the new occupants long to arrange their scanty
collection of furniture. The girl, woman-like, regretted that no better
show was made, but the men declared that the house contained everything
that was strictly necessary. The third day after their arrival Potter,
upon getting up from the breakfast-table (he and John ate at one large
box and Alf and his daughter ate at another one of exact pattern),
turned to his friends and remarked: "I am going over to Sunset to-day
(a village about twenty-five miles distant), to get a Winchester
rifle--saw one in a store as I came through the other day--and the
books necessary for the beginning of our educational course. I have
a few dollars, not many, it is true, but quite enough. John, you and
Alf get as much work done as you can. Of course, the season is so far
advanced that we can not get in much of a crop, but we must try to
raise enough corn to run us during the winter."

Never before had John gone to work with such enjoyment. He sang as he
turned over the soil. Encouragement had put a song in his mouth. Alf
was delighted, and Jule was so light-hearted and so improved that she
sometimes ventured out without her crutch. There was much work to be
done, but they all regarded its accomplishment as a pleasure.

Potter did not return until late at night, but his friends had sat up
waiting to receive him. He brought the Winchester rifle and a supply
of cartridges; he brought the books, some needed dishes, a pair of
shoes for John, a Sunday hat for Alf, and a calico dress for Jule.

"Oh, it's de putties thing I eber seed in my life," the girl exclaimed.
"W'y dady, jes' look yere at de flowers."

"Grasshoppers, aint da?" said Alf, slyly winking at Potter.

"You know da aint. Whut you come talk dat way fur, say?" She took hold
of his ears with a tender pretense of anger, and shook his head. "I'll
l'arn you how ter talk dater way 'bout deze flowers. W'y da's so much
like sho nuff flowers dat I ken almos' smell de 'fume. Look yere dady,
we mus' git Mr. Potter suthin' ter eat."

"Aint I dun heatin' de skillet?" Alf replied. "Cose I is." He went to a
box, which, nailed up against the wall, served as a "cubbard," and took
out several pieces of white-looking meat.

"What sort of meat do you call that?" Potter asked.

"Dis, sah," Alf rejoined, as he began to dip the meat into a tin plate
containing flour, "is some slices offen de breast o' one o' de fines'
turkey gobblers I eber seed. John ken tell you how it got here."

"I wuz plowin' 'long jest before dinner," said John, "an' I hearn the
gentleman gobblin' out in the woods. I wuz sorter 'stonished, too, fur
it's gittin' putty late in the season fur turkeys ter be struttin'
erbout. I slipped to the house an' got my rifle an' went into the woods
airter him. He wuz so high up in er tree that he didn't pay no 'tention
ter me, not b'lievin' I could reach him, I reckon, but I drawed a bead
on his head an' down he come."

"I am glad you got him," Potter replied. "You are an excellent shot, I
suppose?"

"Wall, I mout not hit er pin-head, but I reckon I could hit er steer."

"Mr. Potter," said Alf, as he stood over the fire frying the turkey
breast, "wush I had axed you ter fetch de ole man some fiddle strings."

"Well, if I didn't bring you some I hope, as John's aunt would say, 'I
may never stir agin.' Here they are."

"Wall, fo' greshus, ef you ain't de thoughtfules' white man I eber
seed. Thankee, sah, thankee. Man mus' almos' be 'spired ter think
erbout ever'thing diser way. Now, sah, we gwine ter hab some music in
dis yere house. Bible say er man kaint lib by meat an' bread by itse'f;
means dat folks aughter hab er little music. Ole Mars David uster play
on er harp, an' I lay he done it well, too."

"The fiddle is your favorite instrument, I suppose?"

"You shoutin' now. De ho'n is er mule an' brays; de banger is er
chicken dat clucks; de 'cordeon is er dog dat whines; de flute is er
sheep dat blates, but de fiddle is er man dat praises de Lawd. De
fiddle, sah, is de human bein' o' instrumen's. Now, set up yere ter de
table, fur yo' supper's ready."

"Is that rain?" Potter remarked, as he drew his chair up to the box.

"Yas, sah, an' we'se needin' it, too. Look at John, how he's handlin'
dem books. Gwine read 'em atter while, ain't you, John?"

"Yes, an' I hope befo' long, too. Ef stickin' to it counts for
anything, I know I will. I'd ruther have er good education, than ter
have money, an' horses, an' fine clothes."

"You shall have it, my dear boy," Potter replied. "The truest friends
of this life are books. With them every man is a king; without them
every man is a slave. The mind is God-given, and every good book bears
the stamp of divinity. Books are the poor man's riches--the tramp's
magnificent coach. I would rather live in a prison where there are
books, than in a palace destitute of them."

"Dat's all mighty well, Mr. Potter," Alf interposed, "but yo' vidults
gettin' cold. Books ain' gwine keep er man's supper warm. Look at John.
He b'l'ebes ever' word you say, an' I doan' know but you'se right
myse'f, but books ain't all. Er good heart is better den er book. Look,
my little gal is settin' dar fas' ersleep, wid dat caliker coat in
her arms. I mus' put her ter bed. Ah, little angel," he added, as he
took her up in his arms, "you is de only book dat yo' po' daddy reads.
Ter him you is de book o' dis life. All yo' leaves is got love an'
tenderness writ on 'em. God bless you." He went into the other room,
and closed the door.

A heavy rain fell during the remainder of the night, and at morning, as
the soil was too wet to be worked, Potter suggested the advisability of
a fishing expedition.

"Jule, you ain't erfeerd ter stay by yo'se'f, air you?" John asked,
when all the arrangements had been made.

"Cose I ain't; an' 'sides dat, de Lawd ain't gwine let nobody hurt er
po' crippled up chile ez I is."

"Your simple faith is beautiful," said Potter.

"Dar ain't no true faith, sah, dat ain't simple," Alf rejoined.

"You are right," Potter responded, "for when faith ceases to be simple,
it becomes a showy pretense. Well, is everything ready?"

"Yes, sah. We'll go erbout er mile up de riber, whar dar is er good
hole, an' den feesh up de stream."

The clouds had rolled away, and the day was as bright as a Christian's
smile. The mocking-bird, influenced to sportive capers, flew high in
the air, poured out an impulsive rhapsody, and then pretended to fall.
Down the gullies, spider webs, catching the glare of the sun, shone
like mirrors.

They soon reached the "hole" of which Alf had spoken, but the fish
would not bite.

"I'll tell you de reason," said the old negro. "Dis water is still
risin'. You kaint 'suade er feesh ter bite while de water's risin', but
soon ez it 'gins ter fall, w'y da'll grab deze hooks like er chicken
pickin' up co'n. Hol' him, John, hol' him. Fo' greshus, dat boy dun
hung er whale. Play him roun' diser way. Doan pull him too hard, you'll
break yo' line. Swing co'ners wid him; dat's right. Wait; lemme git
hold de line. Yere he is. Monst'ous channel cat. Uh, whut er beauty.
Weigh ten pounds ef he'll weigh er ounce."

"Good for you, John," said Potter.

"Good fur us all," replied Alf, "fur I gwine ter put dat feesh on ter
cook ez soon ez I ken make er fire an' git him ready."

"It is a pity we forgot to bring a frying pan," Potter remarked.

"Doan need one, sah."

"How are you going to cook him, then?"

"You jest wait," said Alf, as he begun preparations for building a fire.

When he had made the fire, he killed the fish and dressed it.

"Are you not going to skin it?" Potter asked.

"You jest wait erwhile, now. Neber seeb sech eatin' in yo' life ez
we'se gwine ter hab."

He dug some clay from a bank, poured water upon it, and begun to knead
it. Then he took a piece of paper, wrapped the fish in it, and then
put on a thick coating of clay.

"See; now I gwine ter put him right yere in de fire, an' let him cook
erbout two hours, an' den we'll crack his shell."

They threw out their lines again, but the fish would not bite.

"It ain't no use tryin," Alf declared. "Da ain't gwine ter bite till de
water ginter fall."

"Why did one of them bite?" Potter asked.

"Caze he didn' hab ernuff sense ter know dat de water want fallin',
sah. You mer jest put it down fur er fack dat when er feesh bites when
de water's risin', he ain't got no sense."

"We don't kere whuther they've got any sense or not, so long as they
bite," John remarked.

"You're right dar; plum right. I'd ruther know dat er feesh no longer
den my han' would bite, den ter know dat one ez big ez me wuz smart
ernuff ter preach. Wall, ef dat boy ain't dun fotch dat book wid him."

"A good idea, John," said Potter. "We'll sit up there under that rock,
and while the fish is cooking we will study our lesson."

So intent was the boy in this, his initiative step in the pursuit of
knowledge, that time seemed to take the wings of the sparrow-hawk and
swiftly sail away.

Alf called them to dinner. "See," said the negro, "all I had ter do wuz
ter crack his shell. You axed me ef I want gwine ter skin him. See, de
skin peels right off wid de paper. Openin' yo' eyes in 'stonishment, is
you? Jest wait till you taste him. Set down on de rock, an' lemme he'p
you ter er monst'ous piece. Sprinkle er little salt on him, dis way.
Now, how do he go?"

"Best fish I ever tasted, I must say."

"Cose he is. All de flaber kep' in by dat clay."

"If we had brought our guns along, we might have had some squirrels."

"Not lessen we'd fotch de dog ter tree 'em."

"Well, we might have brought the dog."

"No, fur it's bad luck ter take er dog wid you er feeshin'. Dat's de
reason I driv Ole Pete back. Tuck er dog feeshin' wid me wunst an' it
want mo' den er week airter dat till I tuck de dew pizen in one o' my
feet."

"Not because you took the dog, Alf, but because you went in the dew."

"Dar mout be suthin in dat fack, sah, but I know dat airterwards I went
feeshin' widout takin' de dog an' soon got well o' de pizen. Tell you
whut we better do airter we git done eatin'. Better go 'bout er mile
up de riber ter er place whar de bass will bite like er settin' hen.
De water will be fallin' by dat time. Dar's er bend in the riber right
up yander, an' we ken cut off er good many steps by goin' through de
bottom."

They started immediately after dinner, and had gone but a short
distance into the "bottom", when old Alf stopped, took off his hat,
and said:

"Dar now, dat do settle it, sho."

"What is the matter?" Potter asked.

"Doan you yere dem wolves? My greshus, whut er pack it is, too. Lissen."

"I hear them now," said Potter. "Do you hear them, John?"

"Yes, sir. I have been hearin' em fur some time, but didn't zackly know
whut they was. It ain't common that they come inter this neighborhood."

"No," Alf rejoined; "an' it won't be common dat we'll go anywhar airter
dis day lessen we make some mighty fast preparations. 'Tain't no use'n
us tryin' ter run erway, Mr. Potter, fur da'd ketch us 'fo' we got ha'f
er mile. We'll hatter climb up er tree an' wait till da goes erway. De
only trouble is da mout keep us yere till we starve ter death. Da's
gittin' yere. Hop up in er tree."

Potter and Alf climbed one tree; John sought refuge in another one a
short distance away. The howling grew louder and louder. Alf declared
that the wolves must be nearly starved or they would not cut up such
"shines" in daylight. A small open space that lay between the two trees
was soon alive with the howling, snarling, and snapping "varmints," as
Alf termed them. Occasionally some bold leader would leap high in the
air and snap at the men; others busied themselves with gnawing at the
trees.

"Did'n' I tell you it wuz bad luck ter bring er dog er feeshin'?" said
Alf.

"Yes," Potter replied; "but what new fact has caused you to speak of it
again? The dog did not come with us, yet we have the bad luck of being
treed by wolves."

"Yas, sah, yas; but if dat dog wuz yere deze wolves would eat him up,
an' dat would be monst'ous bad luck fur him. How I do wush I had my
gun. I wouldn' ax fur nuthin' sweeter den ter set up yere an' blow de
life outen deze raskils. How you gittin' long ober dar, John?"

"Fust rate; but I'd be enjoyin' myse'f er good deal better ef I had my
rifle. How I'd like ter draw er bead on that whopper; that old shaggy
feller."

"Laws er massy, how I would. He's er ole pollertician, he is, an' I lay
he gits ever' vote in de croud. Bet he ain't been de sheriff o' de den
no less 'en er dozen times. I--whut de matter wid 'em?"

Suddenly the wolves with one impulse ceased their howling, "tucked"
their tails, and ran away.

"A very gentlemanly act," Potter exclaimed. "Now we can get down from
these uncomfortable perches."

"Hol' on," cried Alf. "Set right whar you is, fur dar's suthen wus den
wolves round yere now. Look dar! Lawd an' de mussyful hebens proteck
us!"

Two enormous panthers bounded into the open space. They cast quick
glances in the direction which the wolves had taken, and then, turning
about, bent their fiery gaze on Potter and the old negro. Potter turned
pale, and, addressing Alf, said: "Old man, we are doomed. They will
never leave us until their awful mouths are stained with our blood."

"Oh, Lawd," the old negro cried, "look down yere an' see de awful fix
yo' po' servant dun got inter. Lawd, da gwine ter chaw de life outen
yo' po' servant. Lawd, de bigges' one got his eyes dead set on yo' po'
servant. Where'll I be dis time ter mor'. Oh, Mr. Potter, how I wush
I wuz at de house drinkin' butter milk. Lawd, yo' ole servant wushes
you'd strike deze pant'ers wid lightnin'. Oh, Lawd, I'd ruther die den
ter be killed by er pant'er."

The panthers stood gazing at them.

Potter's pallor was gone, and on his face there rested an expression
of resignation. "If they intend to do anything," said he, "I wish they
would not put it off any longer. This delay is awful."

"Oh, doan say dat, Mr. Potter; oh, sweet Mr. Potter, doan say dat. Doan
make no sich subjestions ter 'em, fur doan you see da's jes' waitin'
fur dar mines ter git made up. My greshus, I ken feel dat monster's
eyes. Da burns inter my flesh. Da ain't payin' no 'tention ter John.
Look yere, dat boy ain't in de tree!"

"That's a fact," Potter cried. "What do you suppose has become of him?"

"God bless him, he's slipped down an' is gone home airter er gun. Oh,
Lawd, gib de rabbit's mobement ter his legs. Let him leap ober rocks
an' gullies like er fox. Dar ain't much hope fur us, though, Mr.
Potter, fur by de time he gits back dem May-apple stalks down dar will
be stained wid our blood. Da won't wait no longer den sundown, nohow,
an' see, de sun ain't high. Ef John--mussyful hebens!"

One of the panthers had run forward, but he only sniffed the air at the
root of the tree and then returned to his companion.

"Dat's right, good Lawd, hold de monster back, an' please doan let him
stick his nose ergin dis tree no mo'. Look at 'em watchin' de sun. Da's
sorter skittish o' de bright blaze, but when de blaze goes out an'
de red glow comes, den suthen' redder will be poured on de groun'. It
will be our blood. Oh, Lawd, dat raskil is lookin' harder an' harder
at yo' po' servant. Wush I had er went ter er camp meetin' summers
'stead o' cumin' yere ter day, but, Lawd, it's allus de way wid er po'
weak man. He's allus treadin' de path dat leads ter 'struckshun. Wush
I wuz plowin' right now, eben ef de groun' is too wet. I'd ruther be
anywhar--anything. Wush I wuz er 'oman er takin' in washin' fur er
livin'. Wush I wuz er gal er patchin' geans britches."

"I hope John will bring my Winchester rifle," said Potter.

"He'll do dat, sah; he'll do dat."

"But do you suppose he knows how to use it?"

"Yes, sah; he's seed 'em befo'. Oh, Lawd, doan furgit whut er awful
fix yo' po' servant is in. Dat sun goin' down mighty fas'. Look how da
watchin' it."

It did seem as if the panthers stole an occasional and anxious glance
at the sun.

"De fust pant'ers I'se seed in dis yere 'munity fur er mighty long
time," old Alf went on, in his prayerful way, "an' I wushes, Lawd, dat
I neber had seed deze. Wush I wuz er boy in er swimin' under some shady
tree. Oh, Lawd, de raskil dun looked at de sun ergin."

He kept up a ceaseless flow of supplication. The sun seemed to sink
rapidly. The shadows of the May-apple stalks were getting longer and
longer. The panthers became restless. The old negro's prayer increased
in earnestness. One of the panthers, the male, ran back a short
distance, then coming forward with mighty bounds, sprang high in the
air and caught the body of the tree.

_Bang!_

The panther fell to the ground. The other one ran forward, touched,
with her bristly lips, her dead companion's blood, and then springing
up, caught the body of the tree.

_Bang!_

"Thank de Lawd; thank de Lawd!" cried Alf, as he began to scramble
down; "thank de Lawd."

He seized John in his arms. "Oh, de Lawd ain't gwine ter let his
chillun suffer long. Yas, Mr. Potter, take holter dis young pussun.
Dat's right, hug him, but look out, for you'se monst'ous strong. Bless
us, de chile come back on er hoss. Sheddin' tears, too. Huh, I comin'
back yere termor' an' skin deze genermen. Frien's, jes' wait er minit
till I git down on my knees an' pray."

John and Potter removed their hats. The old negro sank down upon his
knees, raised his clasped hands, and delivered in these words his
simple prayer: "Lawd, whuteber happens un'er yo' count'nance is right,
but we do thank thee fur dis ack o' hebenly mussy. Amen."



CHAPTER IV.


The glare of summer was softened into the glow of autumn. In the field
the dry corn-blades, gently stirring, hoarsely whispered; and the
grasshopper, stiffened by the chilling dew, sat on the pumpkin where
the sunlight fell. The mornings were rosy, the noontide shone with a
deeper red, but the evenings came, serenely stealing, it seemed, out of
the heavily-wooded land, spreading over the fields and creeping along
the hill-sides where the bell-cow rang her melancholy curfew.

John was a devoted student, and Potter, almost as much interested, was
never too tired to assist him. "Don't sit up too late, John," the giant
would sometimes say. "To-morrow night, remember, will soon be here."

Alf, delighted to know that his violin did not disturb the cause of
education, mainly spent his evenings with that instrument. One night,
with sudden enthusiasm, he exclaimed:

"Look yere, Mr. Potter, I wants er little o' dat edycation merse'f.
Gimme holt o' dat book er minit. Now show me er J."

"There is one," Potter replied, pointing out the letter.

"Is you sho dat's er J?"

"Yes," said Potter, smiling at John.

"No chance whuteber fur er mistake in dis yere matter?"

"None at all."

"Uh, huh. So dis yere is de J dat I'se hearn so much erbout. An' yere's
er nuder one. I tell you dis yere book couldn' git er long widout de J.
Whut's dis yere one?"

"That is an S," Potter replied.

"Is you sho it is er S?"

"Yes."

"Wall, wall; so yere's de S dat's been er dodgen me fur sich er long
time; but I got him now."

"Here is an L," said Potter.

"I doan kere nothin' 'bout dat," Alf said, closing the book. "I wouldn'
git outen de way ef I wuz ter meet er L in de road. De J an' de S wuz
whut I was airter."

"Do you not want to know the other letters?"

"No, sah; I dun got ernuff. Airter wile, ef de J an S wars out, I mout
call fur some more, but I'se fixed ez long ez da lasts. Jule, wouldn'
you like ter know er bout de J?"

"I knows 'em all," the girl replied.

"Take ere; take ere. I neber did see so much edycation; man kaint step
round yere widout trampin' on it."

"These cool days, when we have no important work to perform," said
Potter, "can be well spent."

"Mine shall be," John responded. "How long will it be, you reckon,
before I ken stop this sort uv splashin' with these books, an' jump
right in an' swim."

"Not a great while. You must lay the worm rail, you know, before you
can build the fence. In truth, you learn more rapidly than anyone else
I ever knew; and sometimes, while watching your progress, I can not
help but look back with pity upon the snail-like movements of my early
efforts."

"Oh, dar ain't no question 'bout dat boy l'arnin'," Alf exclaimed. "Er
boy dat l'arned ter break er colt ez easy ez he did one time, ain't
gwine ter hab much trouble wid dis S an' J bizness. Whut, er boy dat
ken slip down outen er tree widout er quick-eyed pant'er seein' him,
ain't got sly mubement ernuff ter ketch deze yere books er nappin'?
Doan know dat chile yit; doan know him."

One afternoon while Potter and John were at their books, and while Alf
was playing on his fiddle a sort of accompaniment to a doleful tune
hummed by his daughter, there came a tapping on the facing of the open
door.

"Come in," Potter called.

A woman and a girl stepped into the room. John and Potter sprang
up with the quick impulse of courtesy's sudden demand, and offered
them seats. Alf put down his fiddle, and bowing, gave the visitors a
grinning welcome.

"Where are your women folks?" the elder visitor inquired.

"We have none, madam," Potter replied, "except this girl, the daughter
of this old----"

"Servant o' the Lawd," Alf interjected.

"This servant of the Lord," Potter smilingly repeated, "who assists us
in tending our crop, and who is----"

"Erbout de bes' cook in dis yere neighborhood," Alf again broke in.

"My daughter Eva and I were passing," said the woman, "and having
noticed for some time that this old house was again inhabited, decided
to stop and investigate. We live about five miles from here, on the
Sunset road. I am Mrs. Lucy Forest, widow of Henry Forest, who died
several years ago. You have heard of him, of course."

"I am a comparative stranger in this neighborhood," Potter replied.

"I ricolleck seein' him," John remarked. "Uster have something to do
with the Sunday-school at Mt. Pleasant. Alf knowed him, too, I reckon."

"Lawd bless me, yas," Alf exclaimed. "I dug de man's grave."

"I remember you now," Mrs. Forest rejoined, "and I remember you, too,"
addressing John. "Your name," turning to Potter, "is----"

"Excuse me for not introducing myself. My name is Potter."

"Well, I was going to say that your name was Bradshaw, and that I had
seen you before."

"Excuse me a moment," said Potter, "I see your horse is loose. Let me
go and hitch him for you."

"I'm younger than you, let me go," John insisted.

When John had gone, Mrs. Forest, looking after him, remarked: "That
young man has a splendid face. Don't you think so, Eva?"

"Yes; strong and expressive of true refinement," the girl replied.
Potter looked in admiration upon her. She was apparently but little
more than fifteen years of age, but in form was well advanced toward
graceful womanhood. Her eyes were large, dark, and beautiful. Her
hair was as threads of fine and blackest silk, and in its graceful
clustering, romance, it seemed, had found a lurking place. There was
not a ruddy glow upon her cheeks, but with a creamy shading they tended
toward paleness. An expression of quiet thought lay about the corners
of her shapely mouth, but on her forehead, low and broad, fancy traced
a brightening picture.

The girl's mother, noticing Potter's look, which had now almost
deepened into a gaze, remarked: "I don't think my daughter is looking
very well. For some time she has been at school over at Sunset, where
there is an excellent teacher, but she studied so hard that I had to
take her away."

"Mother, please don't make me out an invalid, for you know that I can
walk long distances and climb steep hills without fatigue."

"Oh, I don't mean that you are an invalid, daughter; but you know
yourself, Mr. Brad--Mr. Potter, that it is not well for one so young to
be so devoted to books. It was her father's only trouble--I came near
saying fault."

"It was his greatest pleasure," the girl suggested.

"Yes; but if it hadn't been for books he might have been a successful
business man, and we might not have been compelled to leave our home in
Tennessee, where I was so contented, and settle in this out-of-the-way
place, and, of necessity, take up ignorance for our neighbors."

"His neighbors, the few books which he saved, are not ignorant," the
girl replied. "He loved them, found them true, and left them friends
to me."

"Yes, child, yes; I know all that; but it was a hardship on me, and
since his death the cultivation of the farm has given me no end of
trouble. Oh, I like books well enough, but unless we can write them
they don't make us a living."

"But," said Potter, "they reduce a dreary and barren hour into a minute
of ripe delight."

The girl clapped her hands. "I thank you for so bright a defense," she
exclaimed.

"Oh, when you come ter talk erbout books," said Alf, "Mr. Potter he
plum dar. Got er big luther-kivered book yere dat he read mighty nigh
all de time."

"The Bible I hope," Mrs. Forest remarked.

"The Bible often, Mrs. Forest, but the book to which he refers is the
Bible's wise, though sometimes sportive, child--Shakespeare."

John re-entered the room. "There's comin' up a shower," said he, "an'
I took the horse to the stable."

"It is fortunate that we stopped, even though there are no women
folks," Mrs. Forest replied.

Eva turned to John. "This room has somewhat the appearance of a
school," she said.

"It is a school to me," John answered.

"You are anxious to learn, I suppose."

"Yes, so anxious that the time, it 'pears like, flies away befo' I
l'arn anything."

"Time will seem kinder after awhile, for then you will be more able to
employ it. When you want books that are full of interest, come over to
our house."

Rain began to pour down. A frightened quail fluttered past the door. A
baffled hawk screamed in anger. A rabbit ran into the yard and squatted
under an old and tangled rose-bush. The rain ceased. The rabbit shook
himself and ran away. The hawk screamed in anger.

"It is time we were going, daughter," said Mrs. Forest when a stream of
sunlight came through the window. "Will you please get our horse?" she
added, addressing John.

John bowed, rather awkwardly, perhaps, yet with not a bad show of
courtesy, and hurried away to execute the commission.

"Mrs. Forest," said Potter, "we do not live so far apart but that we
might be more neighborly in the future."

"Why, surely not," Mrs. Forest replied. "You will find everyone
neighborly in this part of the country. Many of the people have
nothing, you might say, except a neighborly disposition."

When the visitors were gone, and when John had again taken up his book,
Potter remarked: "Excellent people, I warrant you. What do you think of
that young lady, John?"

"I don't know, sir. She's so fur away frum me, it 'pears like that I
can't think about her at all. Mr. Potter, do you think I'm learnin' how
to talk any better than I did?"

"Yes, and very rapidly, too; but the book which you are of necessity
studying now, can only serve you in a preliminary way--I mean that what
you are studying now, will prepare you for grammar, and grammar will
lead you into the excellencies of speech."

"Look yere," said Alf, "its erbout time I wuz er slicin' off our names,
an' er puttin' 'em in de pot. I keep er tellin' you, dat edycation
gittin' powerful thick round yere, but huh, when er man's hungry,
he'd ruther yere suthin' er singin' in er skillet den ter fool wid er
book, I doan' kere how many picters it got in it. I'll take deze yere
squirl's dat we picked offen dem hickory trees dis mawnin', an' putty
soon you'll yere er song in dat fryin' pan dat'll make you genermen
drap dem books. I'se dun blowed my ho'n."

Early the next morning, before Potter and John had got out of bed,
Alf came bustling into the room, bringing the appearance of great
excitement. "Genermen," he exclaimed, "dis ain't no time ter lie yere!"

"What's the matter?" Potter demanded. "What has happened; can't you
speak?"

"Cose I ken speak. Ef I couldn' speak, I couldn' tell you dat dis
ain't no time ter lay yere. Whut's happened? B'ar tracks, sah; dat's
whut's happened. I wus down in the fiel' jes' now ter see ef I could
find any dem raskil coons t'arin' down de co'n, an' all at once I come
ter er place so tangled wid stalks dat, fo' greshus, I dun thought er
whirlwin' hit de co'n, but den it wuz all splained, fur dar wuz b'ar
tracks mighty nigh ez big ez er ham. Huh, I dun thought somebody dun
been goin' long dar er hittin' de groun' wid er maul. Let's git er bite
ter eat ez soon ez we ken, an' foller de ole scounul."

Immediately after breakfast they set out to look for the bear. The
tracks in the field proclaimed him to be of monstrous size. Pete, Alf's
dog, well understood the importance of the pursuit. They followed the
trail a long distance up the river, and then into a dense cane-brake.

"Mr. Potter, did you ever kill a bear?" John asked.

"No; the truth is I have never seen a wild one. You have killed a
number of them, I suppose?"

"No, sir; but I shot one last winter, but he got away. My gun don't
carry a ball large enough, I reckon, unless I mout hit him in the eye."

"Yere's de ole lady dat totes de ball," said Alf, affectionately
tapping the barrel of his army gun. "Doan kere whar I hit one o' em, he
gwine squeal, lemme tell you. Jes' look at ole Pete, how he prance. He
uster be er mighty fine b'ar dog, but he ain't seed one in so long, dat
I'se almos' afeerd dat he dun furgot how ter keep outen de way. B'ar
git er holt o' er dog an' dat dog's gone, I tell you. Le's stop right
yere, an' let him go on out in yander."

The dog ran forward, becoming more and more excited. The trail was
evidently warm. The dog barked some distance away. "Hol' on," said the
old negro. "Lissun er minut'." Another bark; followed by a distressing
howl. Alf sprang forward. Potter and John followed as rapidly as they
could through the tangled cane. After a tiresome struggle, they came to
a small open space. There lay the dog, dead. The old negro dropped his
gun, got down on his knees, and lifted the animal's bleeding head. It
was some time before the old negro spoke. His companions, respecting a
grief which they saw was deep and stirring, remained silent. At length
old Alf said: "Po' ole frien'. Too ole an' stiff in de j'ints ter git
outen de way. We's all gittin' dat way, ole frien'. We'se gittin' so
ole an' stiff dat we kaint git outen de way o' trouble w'en we sees it
comin' down de road. Genermen, I lubed dis yere po' dog. He didn' know
nuthin' but ter lub me. He neber seed nuthin' wrong wid de ole man. No
matter whut I done, it wuz all right ter him. But he gone now--I doan
know whar--but he's gone. Lemme tell you, though (arising and taking up
his gun), suthin' gwine suffer fur dis. Mr. Potter, you an' John go
roun' dat way, an' I go dis. Ef you hear my gun, come ter me. Ef I hear
yo'n, I'll come."

They separated. "I feel sorry for the old fellow," Potter remarked.
"He's a man of very deep affections, with all his African
peculiarities. Indeed, he has feelings finer than many a man would
ascribe to one of his color."

"I know he is one of the best men I ever seed--saw," John replied. "I
have hearn folks try to make out that the nigger ain't got as big a
soul as the white man, but nobody's got any bigger soul than Alf has.
There's his gun!"

Again they struggled through the cane, and again they came upon a
small, open space. There they found Alf, sitting on a bear, smoking his
pipe and fanning himself with his straw hat.

"You have him sure enough!" Potter exclaimed.

"Sah?" Alf replied, with pretended unconcern.

"I say you have killed the bear!"

"Whut b'ar?"

"Why, the one you are sitting on."

John was leaning against a tree, shaking with laughter. He understood
the old man.

"Oh, dis yere b'ar."

"Yes; that bear."

"Oh, yas, sah; I got him. Tell you whut it is" (getting up, and putting
on his hat), "it won't do fur er b'ar ter come killin' one o' my ole
frien's. Dangerous, sah, dangerous. Wall, we'll go home now, get de
hosses, an' drag dis generman ter de house."

"An enormous animal," said Potter.

"Cose he is. Oh, I ain't trampin' roun' de neighborhood er shootin'
kittens, I tell you."



CHAPTER V.


When the bear had been dragged home, skinned and cut up, the work of
dividing with the nearest neighbors was begun. John took a choice roast
over to Mrs. Forest, whose overflowing expressions of thanks quite
embarrassed him, but Eva came forward with such frankness of manner
that his confusion was put to instant flight.

"Come into the other room," said the girl, "and let me show you some of
my books."

He followed her into a room situated at the end of a gallery that ran
the full length of the old log house. The collection numbered but a few
volumes, but John opened his eyes in great astonishment.

"You haven't read all these here, have you?" he asked.

"Oh, yes, some of them many times. It doesn't take long to read them
all. After awhile I will lend them to you."

"I will take good care of them."

"Oh, I know that. Anyone who would not take care of a book is not
worthy of the slightest trust."

Mrs. Forest came to the door. "Eva," she said, "yonder comes that
good-for-nothing Bob Juckels. I wish he would stay at home. Look; he
threw a stone at the calf. I could wring his good-for-nothing neck."

Eva and John went out onto the gallery. Bob Juckels climbed over the
fence, though the gate was near, and, in a skulking and "scuffing"
manner, approached. He was just old enough to be "gawky," and was
not intelligent enough to understand even the demands of the uncouth
politeness of the neighborhood. His face was covered with red freckles,
his teeth protruded, and his dingy hair looked as though it might, at
some time, have been chewed by a calf.

"Hi, folks," he said, as he stepped upon the gallery. "'Lowed I'd
drap in an' see you erwhile. Pap wanted me ter chop sprouts outen the
corners uv the fence ter-day, but I don't feel like it. Ain't this here
John Lucas?"

"Yes," John replied.

"That's whut I 'lowed. I was over at ole Lucas' house one time; drapped
in ter git a drink uv water, an' hanged ef that wife uv hizen didn't
skeer me putty nigh ter death. I ain't been thar sense, fur it's sorter
outen my range, anyhow. Eva, have you got any fresh water handy?"

"Some there in the bucket, I think," the girl replied.

"Sho it's fresh?"

"If it isn't, you know where the well is," said Mrs. Forest.

"Yas, ought ter. John, is that yo' hoss hitched out thar?"

"Yes."

"'Lowed so. Sorter looks like you--haw! haw! Say, ef you'll go my way
I'll ride behind you?"

"I'm not goin' your way; but you shouldn't ride behind me if you was
goin' mine."

"Reckon we'd see erbout that."

"Well, I must go," said John, addressing Mrs. Forest and Eva.

"Don't be snatched," Juckles replied.

John gave the fellow a contemptuous look; and then, after shaking hands
with the ladies, and especially after listening with gratitude to their
sincere declarations that he would ever be a welcome visitor at their
house, mounted his horse and rode away. He had not gone far when his
saddle-girth broke. He dismounted, and while he was mending it with a
string, Bob Juckles climbed over a fence, and approached him.

"'Lowed I'd cut across the field an' beat you," said Bob. "That ain't
much uv a nag you've got, nohow. Don't look like he could pull er
settin' hen offen her nest."

"He's putty strong," John replied, "but there air some things he can't
pull. He couldn't pull the truth out of you, for instance."

"Oh, you air gettin' mighty high up sense you been 'sociatin' with that
ole nigger an' that big red-headed feller. I've hearn all erbout you."

"I expect you have hearn more about us than anybody cares to hear about
you."

"Keep on that er way," Bob replied, "an' you'll be sharp ernuff ter
drive in the ground airter while."

"Juckels, go on erway now and leave me alone. I don't like you, and I
don't want to have anything to do with you."

"How do you know whuther you like me ur not, when you don't know much
erbout me?"

"I know enough about you. I've seen you a number of times. Alf knows
you, too."

"Alf's er ole fool."

"Go on away, now."

"Say," said Juckels, "what made you go over thar ter the wider's?"

"None of your business."

"Fine-lookin' gal they've got over thar, ain't she? Ken make er putty
fair article uv pie, too, I tell you. Say, I bet I ken outrassle you
fur that coat you've got on."

"I told you to go away."

"Wall, then, I ken outbox you fur that ar hat."

John had mended the girth and was trimming a switch that he had cut
from a hickory sapling.

"Did you hear whut I said?" Juckels remarked.

John, without replying, was preparing to mount his horse, when Juckels
took hold of his arm. John wheeled about, and with the switch gave
the intruder so sharp a cut across the face that he roared with pain.
"Never mind," he yelled as John rode away, "this ain't the last day in
the world. You'll hear frum me one uv these days in a way that'll make
you squeal."

John, upon arriving home, found his uncle and aunt. Old Jeff was
wheezy with a cold which he had caught some time before, while tying
fodder at night in the dew. He and his wife had met Alf, who was on
his way to take them a piece of bear meat, had faced him about and
compelled him to go back with them, declaring that they could take the
meat home themselves.

"I never was mo' s'prized in my life than when I found you folks had
suthin' ter eat over here," said Mrs. Lucas. "My consceounce alive, I
wush I may never stir agin, ef I didn't 'spect ter find you all starved
ter death."

Potter looked up with a broad smile, and attempted to make some sort of
a pleasant reply, but had no sooner said "madam" than the old woman,
using an illustration afterward employed by Alf, "fairly fluttered."
"Oh don't call me er madam," she exclaimed. "Gracious knows I didn't
come all the way over here ter be madamed. When a man calls a woman
madam, he thinks he's done the biggest sorter day's work. Now thar's
Jeff grinnin' jest like er 'possum. Do b'le've in my soul he would
grin ef the woods was afire."

"I mout ef I had ter go through 'em" old Jeff replied.

"Yes, I'll be bound you would," she answered, giving, as a recognition
of his reply, a sort of savage nod. "Wall, we kaint be settin' 'round
here allus, Jeff. Let's be gittin' on home, fur it'll be night 'fo' we
git thar, nohow."

Winter came. Snowbirds fluttered on the smoking ground where the hogs
were fed. The dry and cupped leaf of the hornbeam tree floated down the
shivering rivulet, carrying as a cargo the lifeless body of a cricket.

As the weather grew colder, Alf's daughter seemed to grow weaker. She
spoke not of the pain she must have suffered, but all day, when the
wind howled, she sat in a corner near the fire, with her wasted hands
clasped and with musing gaze fixed upon the glowing coals. In the
night, when the sharp sleet rattled against the window--when some
homeless and abused dog howled dismally on the hill-side--old Alf would
take her in his arms and walk the floor with her, whispering the while
soft words of love's encouragement. The winter would soon be gone; the
dry and stiffened twig would soon again be "velveted" with buds. He
told her to think of the garden that he was going to clear for her in
the edge of the woods.

"Doan talk erbout gittin' weaker ever' day, little angel," he would
say. "W'y bless me, chile, you's gittin' heavier all time. Huh, airter
while it will take er man ez strong ez Mr. Potter ter lif' you roun'."
But when he would put her down and turn away from her, tears would
start from his eyes. One night, after a physician had gravely shaken
his head and gone away, Alf called Potter and John.

"Come in yere er minit, genermen," he said.

They followed him. A large stove had been placed in Alf's room. Two
holes in the stove glared like two red eyes.

"Can we do anything for her?" Potter asked.

"I'se erfeered not; but I kaint think, sah, dat she's so much wus ter
day. Yeres de genermen, Jule. You wanted me to call 'em."

She smiled in reply. Alf knelt beside the bed. "You doan feel so much
wus, does you, honey?"

"No, sah; I feels much better."

"Thank de Lawd fur dat. Set down, genermen. Oh, I tole you dat doctor
didn' know whut he talkin' 'bout. Is you sufferin' much pain, little
gal?"

"No, sah; none er tall. Whut time is it?"

"Bout 12 o'clock."

"I thought it wuz day. Ain't dat de sun shinin' dar ergin de wall?"

"No; dat's de light frum dem holes in de stove."

"I thought de fire wuz out," she replied. "It's so col' in yere."

"Oh, no; we got er monst'us good fire. I put in some hickory chunks
jes' now."

"I wush I could see de sun."

"You ken termor' mornin', honey. It's been cloudy, you know, fur two
or three days, but it's cl'ar now, fur when I looked out jes' now, er
thousan' stars wuz er winkin' at each uder, thinkin' dat da got er good
joke on de weather."

"De moon ain't shinin', is it?" she asked.

"No. It sorter 'pears like she's got tangled up in de underbresh way
over yander on de uder side de hill, but termor' mornin' de sun gwine
git up early, an' fling er bushel o' gold right inter dis yere room."

"Daddy?"

"Yas, honey."

"You won't feel too bad ef I tell you suthin', will you?"

"No, darlin'."

"Daddy?"

"Yes."

"I'se dyin'."

"Oh, doan say dat." He took her hands. "My God, genermen," he
exclaimed, "she is cold. Oh, fur God's sake, kain't you he'p me? John,
kain't--Oh, Hebenly Father----"

"Daddy?"

"Yas, angel."

"Didn' you tell me erbout de good man dat died? Daddy, I--oh, I'se so
happy--I----"

"My God, she's gone!" exclaimed the old negro; "gone, gone. Oh, God,
have mercy on my po' ole heart. Genermen, leave me yere er little
while."

Potter and John went out into the night. The thousand stars were still
winking at each other. Without speaking the two friends turned down
toward the river.

"What noise is that?" Potter asked suddenly stopping.

It was the wild wailing of Alf's fiddle. The old man was pouring out
his grief.



CHAPTER VI.


Three years passed. No change had come over the old house where Potter,
John, and Alf lived, but the farm was no longer a place half covered
with bushes and briers. It was a long time after Jule's death before
old Alf regained his wonted cheerfulness; and one night when she had,
for more than two years, been in her grave, old Alf got out of bed, and
began to walk up and down the room. Potter, who heard him, asked if he
was ill. "Oh, no, sah," he replied. "I am jes' walkin' wid de speret o'
my chile."

To John there had come a great change. He had studied with unwavering
determination, and had during two winters attended school at Sunset.
From a charge, he had become a companion to Potter, who, during more
than one conversation with Mrs. Forest and Eva, had said: "That boy
has a wonderfully strong and original mind. His teacher declares that
he never saw his equal. The mark he is going to make will be deeper
than any furrow he has ever plowed."

Potter and John had spent many pleasant hours at the Forest house. John
had read all of Eva's books. He had not stopped at this; he had bought
a number of books which he found in a store at Sunset--old books, which
were thought by the storekeeper to be hopelessly out of date. He had
laughed when John marched proudly away with a sack full of treasures.
"That feller will never make a livin'," said the storekeeper. "Why, he
give me $5 for a lot of old rubbish that I've been tumblin' about the
store for years." John also laughed, but with quiet joy, for in the
sack there were "Burns' Poems," the "Vicar of Wakefield," "Paul and
Virginia," "Plutarch's Lives," and "Macaulay's Essays." One afternoon,
John and Eva were strolling along a flower-fringed road near Mrs.
Forest's house, when the girl remarked:

"It is not strange to me that you are so different intellectually now
from your former self. When I first saw you I knew that this time would
come."

"It is so strange to me," John replied, "that I can scarcely realize
it. Oh, of course, I am by no means learned, and doubtless never shall
be, but every day I see the light of perseverance thrown upon mysteries
which were once dark and stubborn. Eva, there is no life so wretched as
that of the yearning backwoods boy. His hands are tied; the dust from
the field of ignorance blinds his eyes. But there is hope for every
boy. I believe that as a case of hopelessness mine was at one time
without a parallel."

"Yes," she replied, "but you have sat between two remarkable teachers.
On one side, a man of books, not a great philosopher, but a man of
engaging fancy and bright illustration. On the other side, a child
of nature--a man who can feel the pulse of a leaf, who can hear the
beating of the heart of a tree."

"Yes, but those teachers came to me," John rejoined, "just as
opportunities must at some time come to all boys. If I could preach
to every farmer boy, or for that matter to every boy, the first word
uttered should be 'books.' Yonder comes that fellow Juckels. Let us go
back toward the house."

They turned back, but had not gone far when Juckels overtook them.

"Out sorter sunin' yo'selves, I see," he said. John gave him a short
"Yes;" Eva said nothing.

"Tell me, they do, that you air sorter gittin' up in the picters, John."

"I am not studying pictures. I have no intention of becoming an artist."

"Oh, you know what I mean? Say, one time er good while ergo, I told
you that you would hear from me in a way that would make you squeal.
Ricolleck?"

"Yes, I remember."

"Wall, the reason you ain't is becaze I went off down ter my uncle's
in the white oak neighborhood, an' ever' time I came back you was off
at school or somewhar else. Now, don't you think it is erbout time we
was havin' er settlement?"

"I don't owe you anything," John replied.

"No; but I owe you suthin'."

"All right, then, pay it."

John felt the girl's trembling touch upon his arm. He looked at her,
and saw that her face had grown paler. She gave him a look of earnest
meaning, and then slowly shook her head. Not another word was spoken
until they were within a few steps of Eva's home. Then John, bidding
her good evening, said that he must hurry on and assist Potter and Alf
in feeding the cattle.

"I wish to see you a moment," said the girl, drawing him aside. "Don't
have anything to do with that man." She added, in an undertone, "he is
utterly without principle."

"I will keep an eye on him," John replied. "The coward ever seems to
fear the light of an open eye quite as much as he does the gleaming of
a weapon. Good-evening."

John walked rapidly, but Juckels, moving with a sort of dog trot, soon
overtook him.

"Looks like we mout have rain, John; the sun's goin' ter bed sorter
bloody, ez the feller says."

"Yes," John replied.

"Hickory switches grow putty plentiful long here, don't they?"

"Yes."

"Never wuz cut in the face with one, I reckon?"

"No."

"They say it hurts putty bad."

"You ought to know."

"Sho nuff; mebbe, then, I do."

"I should think so, if you have a good memory."

"You bet I've got er good one. Now here, I want you ter 'polyjise ter
me."

"What for?"

"You know, an' you've got ter do it ur suthin' is goin' ter happen."

"Something is always happening. If something didn't happen, time would
be very dull to some people."

"Yas; an' when suthin' do happen, time mout stop ter some people.
You've hearn uv fellers what b'l'eves that er pistol sometimes snaps,
but er knife don't, hain't you?"

"Yes."

"Wall, I'm one uv them fellers."

"There are fellows, too, that I suppose you have heard of."

"Whut sort?"

"The kind that would not hesitate a moment to knock you down and kick
you across the road. I see your knife, you coward." They had stopped in
the road, and were facing each other.

"Yas, an' you'll feel----"

John knocked him down with a blow, lightning-like in its quickness,
and, without waiting for him to get up, resumed his brisk walk. Juckels
did not follow, but in a sort of hoarse roar exclaimed: "You'll hear
from me in a way that'll make you squeal! see if you don't."

When John reached home, he found that the cattle had been fed, and that
supper was waiting for him.

"Suthin' gwine ter snatch you up one deze nights an' run erway wid
you," said Alf, slyly winking at Potter. "Keep on prowlin' 'round de
woods at night, an' you'll see bimeby. Set up dar now an' eat some o'
dem fish me an' Mr. Potter dun cotch. B'l'ebes da bites in dis airly
fall weder better den da do in de spring. Yo' Aunt Liz wuz ober yere
terday, an' wuz powerful 'stonished ter see dat we ain't dun starved
ter death yit. When she seed deze new cheers an' table it made de ole
lady open her eyes, I tell you. Seed dat pizen feller Juckels pokin'
roun' down by de river 'bout dinner time. Dat feller ain't gwine ter
come ter no good. I lay er rattlesnake gwine ter bite him some day.
Huh, an' I lay it'll kill de snake, too."

John then related his adventure with Juckels. "Why, you ought to have
stamped the life out of the scoundrel," Potter exclaimed. "Don't you
know that he might hide behind a tree and shoot you. I will go over
to-morrow, see his father, and tell him that unless something is done
his son is likely to be badly hurt. Why, it is an outrage."

"Doan reckon it is much use ter see his daddy," Alf replied. "W'y, dat
feller is older den John, an' I doan reckon his daddy ken do much wid
him."

"That may be, but something must be done. By the way, this morning
while strolling up the river I met two well-dressed men, horseback, who
asked me if I knew who was cutting that cedar timber away up beyond
Rocky Bend."

Alf opened his eyes and straightened up. "You didn' know o' co'se," he
said, with the thickness of a half-strangled whisper.

"Why, yes; I told them that four or five brothers named Dun were doing
it."

"Den de Lawd hab mussy on us!" the old negro exclaimed.

"What difference did it make? I don't understand you."

"Oh, I 'tended ter tell you 'bout dat, but it's too late now, for we'se
gone. Lawd, da's got you po' ole servant on de hip ergin!"

"Alf, are you crazy?"

"No, sah; an' I'se erfeerd I won't be nuthin' putty soon. Mr. Potter,
dat cedar timber up dar is on guberment lan', an' dem men dat axed you
erbout it wuz guberment men. W'y, nobody in dis yere neighborhood would
er tole on dem Duns, fur da's de wust men you eber seed. Da'll dodge
dem guberment men an' come right yere airter us. Doan ax me how da'll
fine out who tole on 'em, fur I lay da knows dis minit. Did anybody
yere you tole 'em?"

"There was a man fishing close by."

"Dat settles it. Lawd, da dun built er nudder fire un'er yo' po' ole
servant."

"I didn't think to caution Mr. Potter," said John.

"Too late ter talk erbout it now," Alf went on. "Dem Duns comin' right
yere dis night, set dis house erfire an' shoot us ez we runs out."

"The situation is serious," Potter admitted.

"Serious!" Alf exclaimed. "Does you call it serious fur er man ter run
outen de house ter keep frum bein' burnt up an' den git shot down like
er deer? Oh, Lawd, you better take yo' po' servant home, caze he kain't
git erlong down yere."

"I didn't mean to harm the Dun brothers or in the least meddle with
their affairs," said Potter, "but if they hold my action to be of such
mortal sin and come to this house to seek a bloody revenge I shall deem
it my duty to shoot them."

"That is the way to talk," John replied.

"Yes," said Alf, "it's de way ter talk, an' it's de way ter ack, too,
but de danger is in 'em settin' de house erfire. Wall, I'se got er
powerful good ole gun yere, an' ef I draw down on one o' dem men he'll
wish he had er staid at home, I tell you. We'd better put deze lights
out, caze dem raskils ken slip up yere an' shoot us through de cracks."

Action upon the old negro's advice was immediately taken. The wind
began to howl furiously. A rumbling, low and distant, proclaimed with
sullen threatening the coming of a storm. Nearer, nearer the rumbling
came, and glittering spears of blinding light were thrust with angry
flashing through the chink holes of the wall. The wind became more
violent, the rumbling burst into a deafening clap, and ragged sheets of
water lashed the house. The lingering lightning, quivering in fearful
dalliance, as though loth to sink back into the dark and surging cloud,
wrought upon the river, which could be seen through the window, a
thousand terror-breeding shapes--great monsters that lashed the water
into fiery foam.

"We better put down deze yere guns an' pray erwhile," said Alf. "Oh,
Lawd, is you gwine ter let de elements kill yo' po' ole servant? My
greshus, yere dem limbs strikin' de house! Dar ain't been no sich er
storm ez dis--mussyful hebens, is de house down! Oh, I thought we gone
dat time, sho. Deze ole logs wuz put yere ter stay--dat is, I hopes so."

"This storm will protect us from the Duns until morning, at least,"
Potter rejoined. "This lightning will purify our air against their
poisonous vapors."

"Then," said John, "let us hope that this wind is not ill. Mr. Potter,
you remember the first day I ever saw you, when we were sitting in the
yard discussing a plan upon which, to me at least, there has fallen
such a promise of ripeness, you said that I might think it strange that
you should seek to bury yourself here in the woods."

"Yes, I remember."

"And you said that some time in the future you hoped to tell me the
cause."

"Yes."

"Well, is not this a most befitting time? If a storm drove you to this
place let a storm drive out to me your confidence. I have often seen
you put your book aside and give yourself to moments of so deep a
brooding that, though I would not seek to be obtrusive, I have tried
to study out your mystery. This storm, I think, is growing worse.
To-morrow--well, to-morrow we may not be here. Tell me now."

A lingering, quivering light fell on Potter's face, and under the glare
John could see the darkened lines of trouble.

"No, my dear boy, I can not tell you now. That I have confidence in
you, you well know; that I have an affection for you, you must feel.
I have watched the soft color of sadness which I once saw under the
sunburn on your face grow brighter with an eager glow. I have seen your
mind unfold, and each day have found something new in you to admire,
but I can not tell you what you crave to know. There, the lightning is
growing dimmer. From a roar the wind is shrinking to a wail."

"Yas," said Alf, "an' I thank de Lawd fur it, too; I tell you dat.
It won't do ter fool wid one deze yere storms dat puts on er black
nightcap an' w'ars red ribbons at its throat. I think we mout ez well
lay down yere now an' sleep erwhile. Dem men ain't gwine ter come yere
ter-night; but I do b'l'ebe da'll be yere in de mawnin'; an' ef da
block us up in yere de neighbors will jes' let us stay yere an' starve,
caze, I tell yo, da so monst'us feerd o' dem fellers."

They had not long to wait when morning came until they saw that Alf's
prediction had not been an idle one; for when Potter opened the door to
look out, there came a short report from an opposite hillside, and a
bullet sent splinters flying from the door facing.

"Shet de do'," Alf cried. "Grab yo' guns an' lay down on de flo'. When
de sun comes up da gwine shoot through deze yere cracks. Oh, Lawd, da's
still atter yo' po' ole servant. Lissun how da shoot. Biz! Yere dem
balls!"

"If I can get a sight at one of them," said Potter, peering through
a hole in the wall, "I think that I can relieve him from duty. Boys,
shoot, anyway."

A brisk firing was now begun on each side. A small mirror flew into
fragments and fell on the floor. A dish pan with a ringing "tang" fell
from the wall.

"Oh, de scounule," said Alf. "It's er powerful good thing for us dat
dar ain't no cracks closer ter de flo'. Helloa! What's de matter? Thank
de Lawd, w'y look yander; de guberment men is airter 'em."

Indeed, a deputy United States marshal and his men had arrived, and the
Duns, five in number, were captured, not however until two of them had
been severely wounded. The prisoners were brought to the house, where
one man, a sort of physician, attended to the wounded.

"I am very sorry that we got you into trouble," said the deputy
marshal, addressing Potter, "but you have greatly aided us in breaking
up this gang."

"What will you do with them?" Potter asked.

"They will be sent to the United States prison at Detroit. They have
stolen a great deal of valuable timber, for which the government has
use, and their terms are not likely to be short. I don't think you need
to fear any more trouble, as the entire gang is now broken up. Well,
boys, go and get the wagon and we will haul our violent woodchoppers to
Little Rock."

That night old Alf, taking down his fiddle, remarked: "Got ter hab
some music, now. Oh, I tell yer dat when er man praises de Lawd wid er
little music now an' den, it takes er mighty powerful evil speret ter
lay his claw on him."



CHAPTER VII.


One evening old Alf, having put away the supper dishes, took down his
fiddle and began to twang its strings, but failing to feel his wonted
interest in the instrument, put it down and then sought diversion in
the humming of an old "corn-shucking" song; but again meeting with
failure, he got up, sadly shook his head, and began to walk up and
down the room. Potter and John, who were reading, paid no attention.
Suddenly he exclaimed:

"Uh, huh, now I got it, got it sho."

"What have you got?" Potter asked.

"W'y, sah, got de reason dat I'se troubled in my mine dis ebenin'."

"Are you troubled?"

"Is I troubled? Now, dat's er fine question ter ax er man dat has
been carryin' on like I has. Ain't my fiddle 'fused ter talk ter me,
an' ain't er old song dun failed ter fetch de co'n-bread crumbs o'
comfort? Tibby sho. Now, whut's de matter? Suthin' dat I needs. Whut
is dat suthin'? W'y, I needs ter go er possum huntin', sah, dat's whut
I needs. I dreamed last night dat I seed er piece o' fat meat an' er
sweet pertater er raslin'. I knowed it meant suthin', but I didn' know
whut till jes' now. It means dat we got ter go er possum huntin' dis
yere very night, sah. How do it hit you?"

"I'm willing. What do you say, John?"

"Suits me exactly," John replied.

"Then, let us get ready and go at once," said Potter. "There is no
retrospective hand that reaches so kindly out of the past and touches
me with a thrill of so endearing a memory as the hand that comes out
from under the hazy curtain of an Indian-summer night and gently draws
me back into a hallowed past, when, with eager footsteps, I followed
the negroes on my father's farm to the place where the dogs had treed."

"Yas, I reckon so," Alf replied; "I do reckon dat; yas, sah, I do.
I doan know nuthin' 'bout no arm comin' out, but I knows dat de
ricollection o' some frosty nights in ole North Kliny makes me wush
dat I wuz dar, er boy ergin. But let us go on ef we gwine, caze it's
been some time sense de oven has shined wid de sweet grease o' de
possum. Deze new dogs we got, I doan know so much erbout 'em. Wush Ole
Pete--neber mine, dat's all right. Lawd, yo' ole servant 'bout ter
grumble ergin."

They went out into the beautiful night. Nature was so hushed that the
rythmic flow of the river could be heard. The stars seemed to shine
through a gauzy sheen. In the air there was a faltering promise of
the coming of winter. On a log, where the moonbeams fell, there lay a
substance of greenish white. It was a dead tree-toad.

"Let's cross dis fiel'," said Alf, "an' skirt 'long de edge o' de woods
whar de 'simmon trees grows. Whoop--ee! [calling to the dogs]. Git 'em
down, ole boys. Whoop--ee, git 'em down!"

The old negro was joyous. He hummed old tunes. "I doan know whut make
dem varmints so skace ter-night," said he.

"Knowing that you were coming after them, they have doubtless all left
the country," John replied.

"I reckon you's hit it, sah; I reckon you has, caze when I starts out,
suthin' mighty nigh sho ter happen. Whoop--shove 'em ole boys! Whoop,
push 'em!"

"Hold on a minute," said Potter, stopping. "What is the cause of that
bright light over yonder?"

"Bresh heep er burnin' whar somebody cl'arin' up new groun', I reckon,"
Alf replied.

"Not that," John remarked. "A brush heap would hardly send its light so
high."

"Dat's er fack," the old man admitted.

"That is someone's house on fire," said Potter. "Who lives over that
way?"

"Miz Forest's house is ober dat way ef I ain't turned 'roun'."

"It is her house!" John exclaimed, bounding forward. "Come on!"

They ran with the speed of utmost exertion. John gained on his
companions. He jumped over a rail fence without touching it. "Come on,"
he cried. They could now plainly see the house. The roof was in flames.
No one could be seen near the burning building. "Is it possible that
they are burning up?" John thought.

He reached the yard fence, cleared it at a bound, ran across the
yard, sprang upon the gallery, and threw himself with all his weight
against the door. It did not yield. "Eva," he cried, beating on the
door. "Eva!" No answer came. He leaped from the gallery, seized the
door-step, a ponderous log, staggered upon the gallery and threw the
log against the door. An oak latch snapped and the door flew open. He
did not rush into the room. His sense of modesty, even at such a time,
forbade it, but with a loud voice he exclaimed: "For God's sake come
out; your house is on fire." The next moment Mrs. Forest and Eva,
almost frantic with excitement, but wrapped in the clothes which they
had gathered from the bed, rushed from the room. By this time Potter
and Alf had arrived. They dashed into the house to save what furniture
they could. "Don't be excited," said Potter. "Fire is dropping down,
but it will take quite a while for those oak rafters to burn in two.
Carry out the trunks; we can save all the clothes. Here, Alf, you are
too much excited. Where is John?"

John had thought of Eva's books, and although that end of the house
was almost entirely wrapped in flames, was exerting himself in the
dangerous work of saving the cherished volumes, and before the roof
fell in, he had carried out the last book. A number of the neighbors
soon arrived, for the cry of "Fire!" "Fire!" had echoed through the
woods. Mrs. Forest and Eva, having dressed themselves in the barn,
stood looking at the destruction of their home.

"I don't know how it could have happened," said Mrs. Forest. "It
must have caught from the upper part of the chimney. I don't know
how to thank you all. The fact that this is the first time I have
ever been placed under such serious obligations, makes me awkward in
acknowledging them. Eva, can't you say something?"

The girl stood trembling. John stood near her. "No," she replied,
"I--I--don't know----" She burst into tears.

"Come, daughter, we are going home with Mrs. Patterson and stay until
we can have another house built."

The next day John went over to Patterson's. Mrs. Forest and Eva, with
that strong recuperative force found among people who live in the
woods, had recovered from the effect of the excitement of the previous
night.

"Let us walk over and look at the ruins," said John, addressing Eva.

"There is but little to look at," she replied, "but we will go."

They spoke but few words as they crossed the fields, but each one felt
that the other was not unhappy. The leaves on the running brier were
red, and the velvety top of the sassafras sprout was cool to the touch.

There was nothing left of the old house but a few smoldering chunks.
John and Eva sat down on a log that had served as a horse-block.

"It would have been a great disappointment to me, Eva, if your books
had not been saved."

"Yes," she replied, "but they were not worth so great a risk."

"Oh, the risk was nothing. All that was required was a little activity."

They were silent for some time, and then John remarked:

"How strange everything has been. I used to fear that there never would
be a time when I could talk to you without embarrassment. This fear did
not come from any word or action of yours, but from a true estimate of
myself."

"How a true estimate?"

"Why, an almost overpowering knowledge of my own ignorance."

She gave him an imploring look. He continued:

"You have ever been kind to me. You have helped me, inspired me. I
know nothing of the world, but I know gratitude. When I am reading a
book, and hold so much within my grasp, the world seems very small;
but when I look away at the clouds floating far beyond the hills, I
then feel that the world is very large. But, Eva, may it be large or
small, there is to me but one source of true happiness. You are that
source, my angel. I love you--love you. When I am near you nature is
more beautiful. There is religion in the soft light of your eyes. There
is the thrill of deep poetry in every sound of your voice. I do not
come to you with pleading, for I feel that you love me--not because I
have done you a service, but because our souls, waving in a perfumed
atmosphere, touch each other."

"John."

"Yes, angel."

"You are the only human being who has ever understood me; you are the
only human being whom I have ever understood. Yes, I do love you--loved
you when I saw you with a child's primer in your hand--loved you when I
saw you a grasping student of rhetoric. That we should love each other,
seems to me as natural as that the sun should shine. It could be the
only result of our association."

He put his arm about her and drew her closer to him. "Eva, as you say,
love could be the only result of our association; and now do you not
know that there can be but one true result of our love?"

"Yes," she replied, "only one."

The neighbors soon decided to build Mrs. Forest another house. The
building of a log house in the country is looked upon as a sort of
holiday frolic, and there is no man in the immediate neighborhood too
busy with his own affairs to lend a helping hand. The new house was
built upon the same site, and after the same pattern as the old one.

Eva had, one day, just finished arranging her books, when Bob Juckels
stepped upon the gallery.

"Hi," said he, as he reached into an adjoining room, drew out a chair
and sat down.

"Mr. Juckels, I want you to go away from here," the girl replied.

She stood in the library door. He looked up at her, with an attempt at
a smile, but with the result of an ugly grin.

"Pretty good house you got here. Woulder come over ter the raisin', but
I didn't wanter meet Lucas, fur when I meet him, we're goin' ter mix.
I'm me, let me tell you that." He took out a bottle of whisky, shook
it, held it up, squinted at it and then took a drink. The girl was
afraid of him. Her mother had gone over to a neighbor's house.

"Putty good house you've got here. Made outen green logs an' it won't
burn ez easy ez the old one did. Say, did you tell Lucas that I had
axed you ter marry me?"

"No; I dislike you so much that I do not mention your name to anyone."

"Good idee. Wall, I've come ter ax you agin."

"And I tell you that I wouldn't marry you to save my life. I despise
you."

"That don't make no diffunce ter me, fur airter we was married erwhile
you would git over that. When I axed you befo' an' you 'lowed you
wouldn't, I said you would hear from me."

"Yes."

He shook the bottle again, and took another drink. "An' you did hear
frum me," he said, after a few moments' silence.

"I don't know that I have."

He laughed with a low and malicious chuckle, looked about him, looked
up at the rafters, looked down at the floor, chuckled again, and said:

"Ever'thing new."

"I don't understand you," Eva replied.

"Reckon not. Wimin kain't grab er p'int ez quick ez men ken. I mean
that I sot yo' house afire. Hol' on, now; hol' on. Go ter cuttin' up
an' it won't be good fur you, an' mo'n that, ef you ever breathe er
word uv whut I've said it'll be good-by ter you an' that feller Lucas,
too. Green logs mout not burn, but thar's suthin' else that will.
Powder'll burn, er--haw, haw! Yes, it'll burn like er flash."

"Oh, you wretch!"

"Yas; that's whut the grasshopper 'lowed, but the wild turkey picked
him up all the same. Wall, I must be shovin' erlong; sorter knockin'
'round fur my health. I'll come over agin ter-morrer an' see whut
you've got ter say. But, my lady, ef you say er word ter yo' mother, ur
anybody else, it'll be good-by ter the whole kit an' bilin' uv you."

A few hours later, while Potter, John, and Alf were strolling along the
river bank, they came upon Juckels. He stood with one hand resting upon
a rock that protruded from a rugged cliff. An empty whisky bottle lay
on the ground. As the men approached, Juckels looked up with a frown,
and, with thick utterance, said:

"I want you fellers ter go on erway frum here now. Never mind, Lucas, I
am goin' ter settle with you."

"Any time will suit me," John replied.

"My time will suit _me_," Juckels rejoined. "It don't make no diffunce
whuther it suits you or not. But I want you fellers ter go on erway
frum here now, fur I got here fust an' this is mine."

"Whut is yo'n?" Alf asked.

"This possum."

"Whar's any possum?"

"Under this here rock; that's whar."

"What's er possum doin' under dat rock when dar's plenty trees fur him
ter climb!" Alf asked.

"That's none uv yo' lookout," said Juckels. "He's under this rock, an'
I'm goin' ter crawl up under thar arter him."

Alf looked at the ground, examined a number of tracks, and then
remarked: "Co'se you ken do what you please 'bout dis yere matter, but
ef you wuz er frien' o' mine I'd t'ar yo' coat mightily er holdin' ter
you fo' I'd let you go up under dar."

"Yas, I reckon you would t'ar er feller's coat, an' take it erway frum
him too, ef you could."

"Oh, go on up under de rock ef you wants to," Alf exclaimed; "but I
tell you now dat ef you wuz er frien' o' mine I'd beg you might'ly not
ter go under dar."

"You air er old thief, an' want me ter leave this possum so you ken git
him."

"Come," said Potter, "there is no occasion for such language."

"This ain't none uv yo' er'fair, nuther," Juckels responded. "I'm goin'
under thar, an' that's all thar is erbout it."

He threw his hat aside, kicked the whisky bottle into the river, got
down on his hands and knees, and crawled under the rock. The men had
turned to go away, when there issued from under the rock the most
frightful noises--the yells of Juckels and the fierce shrieking of
furious animals. Juckels rolled out from under the cliff. He was
literally covered with wildcats. The men ran to his assistance. The
animals ran back into their den. Juckels was unable to speak. He was
bleeding from many wounds, and when he breathed, blood bubbled from a
hole in his throat. Some time elapsed before a word was spoken.

"We must take him home," Potter said. "Cut down some saplings and we
will make a stretcher."

They started on their burdensome and solemn march, and must have gone
two miles, when Alf said:

"We mout ez well put him down now an' rest erwhile."

"No," replied Potter; "let us hurry on so that a physician may be
summoned."

"Dar ain't no use'n er doctor," said Alf. "De man is dun dead."

So he was. They put down the stretcher. The sounds of hoofs attracted
their attention.

"Yonder comes Mrs. Forest," said John.

"Yes," replied Potter, "and I will meet her and guide her away from
this awful sight."

"You are the very man I want to see," cried Mrs. Forest when Potter
approached within hailing distance. "I am on my way to your house to
consult you," she added, reining up the horse when they met in the
road. "I want to ask your advice about something. That good-for-nothing
Bob Juckels has told Eva that he set fire to our house, and has
declared that he will kill us all if we--I hardly know what all he
didn't say, but I want to ask you if you think it best to have him
arrested!"

"He is beyond the power of the law, Mrs. Forest. Yonder he lies dead."



CHAPTER VIII.


Two more years, years without especial incident to the people who
lived up Terrapin River, passed away. Everyone knew of John and Eva's
betrothal, and as no one had any objections to offer, there came not
a jar, not a harsh sound to disturb the smoothly flowing current of
their affection. One evening, as Potter and John sat in the old house
awaiting the return of Alf, who had gone to Sunset to make some small
purchases, the young man, after many minutes of deep meditation, looked
up and remarked:

"I have worked harder of late in the hope that I might make money
enough to place my approaching marriage upon a sensible footing, but it
seems----"

"There, my boy," Potter broke in, "there now, don't worry. Of
course every man should look to the future, but not to brood in
dark foreboding. We are getting along very well, and I think you may
safely--there's Alf."

The old man came in bringing several bundles. "Fetchtaked fellers ober
yander," said he, "put er brick under my saddle when I had my hoss
hitched, an' when I got on ter come home w'y de old critter flung me in
de road. Huh, when I hit de groun' I thought de whole face o' de yeth
dun struck loose. Suthin' gwine obertake dem boys one deze days. Da's
dun forgot erbout dem she bears dat grabbed up dem mean white chillun
when da made fun o' er old servant. Suthin' gwine ter obertake 'em, I
tell you. Oh, you neenter laugh, genermen, fur suthin' gwine ter slip
up behin' 'em an' grab 'em, sho."

They had eaten supper, and Potter, in his favorite position, was
leaning back against the wall, when a newspaper in which one of the
bundles had been wrapped, attracted his attention.

"Alf, hand me that paper," said he. "I would subscribe for some paper
if we lived nearer a post office. Ah! a country sheet from Kentucky.
Let me see if Uncle Billie Jackson was in town yesterday, or if Aunt
Nancy Phelps has the thanks of the editor for a choice lot of radishes.
I see that Uncle Bob Redmond has sold a fine colt to Anthony Boyle, and
here is also the startling information that Abe Stallcup has purchased
the old Adams place. I suppose----" He started. The paper shook. He
sprang from the chair, pressed his hands to his head, sank upon his
knees, clasped his hands and exclaimed:

"Thank God! Thank God! Oh, merciful heaven, it has come at last!"

He bowed his head and wept. John and Alf stood looking on in speechless
amazement.

"Thank God, it has come at last. Oh, my friends--you--you----"

"What is the matter?" John cried.

"Wait. I--I will tell you. Here," he added, "read this. Read it out
for I have only seen its aim."

John took the paper and read the following:

"A number of years ago, our readers will remember, Hon. Sam Bradwell,
who lived near Lexington, this State, was convicted of the murder of
Colonel Joe Moore, and was sentenced to be hanged, but made his escape
the night before the execution was to take place. Now comes a sequel.
About two weeks ago a man named Zack Fry, supposing that he was on his
death-bed, confessed that he was the murderer of Moore. But instead of
dying, he soon recovered. He was then brought to trial, and, instead
of attempting to make a defense, reiterated his confession. He was
sentenced to be hanged, and his execution took place last Friday. The
Governor has issued a proclamation declaring Bradwell innocent, and
offers a reward for intelligence of his whereabouts. Bradwell was one
of the most prominent men in the State. He was a bachelor and owns
one of the largest and finest farms in the famous Blue Grass region.
He had served three terms in the Legislature, and but for the Moore
trouble would doubtless have been sent to Congress. He and Moore were
not on friendly terms--in fact, they were opposed to each other in
the House of Representatives, of which body Moore was also a member.
Nothing has been heard of Bradwell since his escape from jail. He has
no very near relatives, and his farm, we understand, is looked after
by a number of his friends. There is great rejoicing, we hear, over
the proof of his innocence, for he was exceedingly popular with all
classes, and especially so with the more refined element. Nearly every
paper throughout the country has either published or referred to the
Governor's proclamation, and we sincerely trust that the wanderer may
soon return home."

Potter, or Bradwell, stood complacently smiling upon John as he neared
the end of the article. His excitement had passed away, leaving not
the slightest trace of its sudden bursting forth. John sat in a sort of
dazed silence, gazing at his friends, and Alf, whose half-open mouth
bespoke a mystified state of mind, stood leaning against the wall.

"Now, my friends," said Bradwell, "you know why Sam Potter lived in
this out-of-the-way place. Let us all be perfectly easy now. Alf, sit
down. You look as though you were about to be hanged. I will walk
up and down the room, as it would be almost impossible for me to
keep still, and will tell you the story of my trouble in Kentucky.
As the newspaper article states, Moore and I were members of the
Legislature. One day he introduced a bill, the passage of which I did
not think would be of benefit to the State. In fact, it was full of
what we called buncombe, and was, I thought, intended to play upon an
unthoughtful constituency and insure the re-election of its author.
I opposed the measure, and was somewhat instrumental in its defeat.
This inflamed Moore's anger. He denounced me in most violent terms,
and swore that he would hold me to an account which might prove
painful to one of us. The Legislature adjourned the next day, and, as
I did not make it my business to look for Moore, I left the capital
without seeing him. He lived near Lexington, to the east; I lived
west. One day, several weeks later, while riding horseback to town, I
saw, sitting on a fence, a hawk that had just caught a quail. I drew
my pistol and fired at the hawk, but missed it. I went on into town,
and, as I was going to remain but a very short time, did not put up my
horse at a livery stable, but tied him to a rack in a lot in the rear
of several stores. I had transacted my business, and was going through
an alley leading to the lot, when I heard the report of a pistol. I
hurried onward, and, upon turning into the lot, came upon the dead body
of Moore. A bullet had passed through his head. Before I had recovered
from the shock of so ghastly a discovery, several men ran to the
place, and it was not long until a large crowd had gathered in the lot.
I did not think of my position, and surely had no idea that I should be
suspected. You may therefore well imagine my surprise when the sheriff
arrested me. I was searched. One chamber of my revolver was empty, and,
still worse, the bullet which had passed through Moore's head, and
which was extracted from a cedar post, corresponded in size with the
bore of my pistol. I was taken to jail. The next day bail was refused.
This was annoying, but aside from being suspected of so grave a charge,
I did not regard the affair as serious. I had not counted upon the men
whom I had to fight. I had not thought of Moore's enraged relatives.
The trial came on. There was great excitement. I had many friends, but
it seemed that they were afraid of the Moores. The jury was cowed.
A verdict of guilty was brought in. A motion for a new trial was
overruled. My lawyers, prominent and able men, appealed to the supreme
court. The decision of the court below was sustained. The date of
execution was fixed. I could not realize it. One day I saw through my
grated window that men were putting up a scaffold in the jail yard. My
blood ran cold. Far into the night they carried their labors. Lanterns,
like the red eyes of vultures, shed a lurid--I thought bloody--light
upon the scene. I heard the hammers and saws. A nail glanced under
the blow of a hammer and struck my window. It fell inside the cell.
The hammers and saws hushed their awful noises. 'All done, Dave?' I
heard someone ask. 'Yes,' came the reply; 'everything's ready.' The
workmen went away. The red eyes disappeared, and all was dark. I got
down from the window and found the nail. It was a large one. The window
through which I had been looking was some distance from the floor. The
Sheriff's officer in the yard rarely glanced at it. I heard the 'death
watch' whistling in the corridor. I climbed up to the window. The ends
of the bars, where they fitted into the stones on each side of the
window, were made more secure with lead that had been melted and poured
about them. With the nail I soon gouged away the lead from one of the
bars, but the bar could not be moved. I attempted to gouge out more
lead. I dropped the nail. It fell outside. In despair I seized the bar
and fell backward. It broke. A thrill shot through me. Had anyone heard
me? No. The 'death watch' continued to whistle. The broken bar was a
powerful lever. Another bar and another one was forced out, until not
one remained. I looked out. No sounds--all darkness. I went through the
window, feet foremost, and dropped to the ground. Heavens, I could not
scale the outer wall! I thought of the scaffold. It was near the wall.
I mounted it. A rope dangled from a beam overhead. I seized the rope,
swung out, turned loose and caught the top of the wall. In a moment
more I was on the ground--free. I sank upon my knees and thanked God.
I was afraid to go home, so, without a cent of money, I set out on
my journey. I will not speak of my privations, of the weary miles I
walked--of how I worked on a new railroad, and how I managed to get a
few books. But I will say this, my dear boy, your face was the first to
beam upon the outcast a true and generous welcome. There, there now. I
am sorry that my simple recital has moved you to tears. Alf, what are
you blubbering about?"

"Sorter got suthin' in dis eye jes' now, an' got suthin' in my throat,
too, I b'l'ebe. Neber seed de like. Man kaint stan' erbout yere widout
gittin' all used up, things flyin' roun' so."

John caught Bradwell's hand and pressed it to his breast. "My dear
boy," said the giant, "your approaching marriage is now placed upon a
sensible footing. You and your wife shall go with me to Kentucky. The
farm is not mine, but yours and mine. The house is large, is built of
stone, and in it there are many rare books. I have all the time trusted
that the light of truth would fall upon that crime, and now--but we
will not talk about it. John, we will go over to-morrow and tell Mrs.
Forest and Eva. Alf, you shall go to Kentucky with us."

John went to bed in a whirl of happiness. He could not sleep long at
a time. Joy, as well as sorrow, puts sleep to flight. Would morning
never come? What can come with such slowness as a wished-for day-break?
Another doze. Sunlight streamed in upon the bed.

When Bradwell had shown Mrs. Forest the newspaper article, he told his
story. The ladies were much affected, and Mrs. Forest, as she wiped her
eyes, said:

"Well, I called you Bradshaw, you remember. I just knew it was Brad
something, for I do think that I saw you in Kentucky years ago."

Eva and John walked along the road whose edges were fringed with
flowers.

"There is nothing in our way now, precious."

"No," she replied, "nothing has been in the way, nothing, dear, but
your groundless concern. Our life, I know, will almost be an ideal one."

"It shall be if love and faithfulness can make it so," he replied.

They sat down on a log and talked until the horn summoned them to
dinner. That afternoon, as Bradwell and John were walking toward home,
the young man remarked:

"Eva has only one trouble now."

"What is that?"

"Leaving her mother."

"Is she going to leave her?"

"Of course. Are we not going to Kentucky?"

"Yes; but Mrs. Forest, or rather Mrs. Bradwell, is going with us. Oh,
you young fellows don't know everything."

They shook hands and walked on in happy silence.

       *       *       *       *       *

The day was beautiful. It was autumn, and streaks of gray could be seen
in the crab-grass. Age and infirmity had given to the "chatter jack's"
song a harsher sound, and the toad, avoiding the grass where the dew
was chilly, stretched himself in the dusty road.

The neighbors for miles around had gathered at Mrs. Forest's house. The
bashful boy in brown homespun cast a wistful eye at the dining-table,
and the half-grown girl in her linsey frock longed to see the marriage
ceremonies performed.

"Where is Alf?" Bradwell asked.

No one knew. Old Jeff Lucas "'lowed" that he must be prowling around
looking for something to eat, and "Aunt Liz," with a violent wrinkling
of her nose, declared that if he wanted anything to eat he should get
it at once, for she knew he would starve to death away off there in
Kentucky.

"Mandy," said Mrs. Forest, addressing a colored woman who had come to
assist in waiting on the guests, "do you know where Alf is?"

"How I know whar he is?" the woman replied. "Ef he got bizness ober
yere I reckon he be yere airter while."

The ceremonies were performed, and while congratulations were still
being extended Alf stepped up on the gallery. "Yere," he cried, waving
a piece of paper, "somebody else got tet git married yere. Come on,
Mandy." He and Mandy were married. "Oh!" the old negro exclaimed, with
a pretense of great surprise, "I neber did see de like o' marryin'
dat's gwine on dese days. Man kaint walk roun' yere widout bumpin'
ergin somebody dat's dun married."

Bradwell and Mrs. Bradwell, John and Eva, were to go to the railway
station, thirty miles away, in a wagon. Alf and his wife would ride
a mule. After many farewells had been exchanged, and after John had
affectionately kissed his aunt, old Jeff's wife remarked:

"I jest know you air all goin' to starve ter death, but don't think I
want ter keep you here, fur goodness knows I don't."

She watched the wagon until it had turned a bend in the road, and then,
clasping her hands over old Jeff's shoulder, bowed her head and sobbed.

The bridal party stood on the railway platform. "Eva," said John, "are
you happy?"

"Yes, my soul is filled with a quiet joy."

The train came within sight. "It is the vehicle," said John, gazing up
the road, "that is to convey us to a new and happy life."

"Yes."

Bradwell lifted his hand to point out something. John seized it and
pressed it to his breast.



BEHIND A BUGLER.


The conversation had turned upon the war and the old soldiers' fondness
for reminiscence had been freely indulged, when someone, addressing Alf
Billingsly, asked if he had served during the war.

"No," Billingsly replied. "I was not in the army, but I was in one
engagement. I was a boy and was living in Gallatin, Tenn., when John
Morgan dashed in and captured Colonel Boon. Some time had elapsed since
the Confederate forces were driven away, and the villagers, especially
the boys, were almost wild with joy at the sight of gray uniform.
A season of feasting followed, and then there came the report that
Colonel Johnson, a dashing Federal officer, was, with a thousand picked
cavalrymen, advancing upon the town. My mother gathered her children
about her and took refuge in a cellar, but, feeling that my pride had
been trampled upon, I escaped and mingled with the soldiers that were
preparing for battle. Old wine, and whisky of less venerable age, had
flowed during the feast, and many of the men and officers were drunk.
Some were singing songs of more implied patriotism than of actual tune;
others, with the rising fervor of tipsyness, declared that they would
not go home till morning. Ah, before the next morning came many of
them had gone home. I importuned a bugler to let me get on his horse
behind him and ride out to the battle. He said that if I would take
his canteen over to the house of a well-known old negro and bring it
back full of peach brandy, I might go home with him. I did so, having
left with the negro my hat and jacket as pawned evidences of good
faith, and took my place behind the bugler. An officer ordered me to
get down, but I begged so hard that his reckless good humor overcame
his soberer sense of discipline. With shouts and songs of discordant
loudness we marched out to battle. The morning was beautiful. The
ironweed was in bloom, and sitting on its purple top the dryfly sang
the song of midsummer. Mockingbirds flitted in the apple trees, and the
bee-martin flew round and round, waiting for a sight of the honey-laden
laborer that had just gone over into a field of clover. The troops
dashed out upon a blue-grass plane, jeweled here and there with the
rich setting of a long-cared-for and magnificent tree. Over the brow
of a green slope--the phrenological bump of perception on the face of
the landscape--the enemy was seen advancing. It was to be a cavalry
fight. It was to be a shock of horse and a clash of sabre. I looked to
the right and saw that our men were stretched out in a long line, and
looking ahead, I saw that the enemy was in similar form. My friend blew
his bugle. Every horse dashed forward. A line of blue dashed to meet
us. I felt a keen sense of delight. My friend blew his bugle. Clash!
The two lines had met with drawn sabres. It was a beautiful sight. Not
a shot had been fired. There was no dust. Clash! Far to the right, as
the sabres flashed, there were two long lines of brightness, broken
into whirling glints of sun-ray-catching silver. I may not have had
the spirit of a poet, but the beauty and not the horror impressed me.
I lost not an adjunct--I failed not to catch a single shading. I saw a
bee-martin catch a bee; I saw an ironweed bend its purple head beneath
the touch of a lark; I saw a man, with his skull split open fall to
the ground. My friend blew his bugle. The horses leaped forward. The
line of blue began to grow ragged. Wild shouts arose. Gunshots with,
it seemed to me, intruding noise like the yap, yap, yap of a stray
dog, rang out here and there. The enemy was retreating. My friend,
standing in his stirrups, waved his bugle high in the air and then
blew upon it a triumphant blast. The enemy made a stand, and again the
sabres flashed, but the old wine and new whisky made the Confederates
impetuous. My friend blew his bugle. The opposing line broke, and then
there came gunshots with, it seemed to me, a sort of revengful bark.
My friend lifted his bugle, but did not blow it. I thought that he had
taken pity upon the vanquished line. We bounded forward. My friend
began to lean back against me. He was laughing, I could plainly see. He
leaned back farther. 'Don't lean back so far,' I said. 'Stop; don't you
see you are about to shove me off?' He leaned back farther. I moved to
one side--reached around and took hold of the horn of the saddle. Blood
spurted from the bugler's breast. I looked up and saw that death had
thrown its film into his eyes. I reached down with my foot and kicked
the stirrup away. The bugler leaned over and fell to the ground. I got
into the saddle, rode up to a fence, threw the bridle rein over a
stake, climbed down off the horse and ran away. I went back over the
grassy slope. I saw a martin catch a bee; I saw the purple head of the
ironweed bend beneath the touch of the lark."



IN THE CUMBERLAND MOUNTAINS.


A physician told Tom Blake that he not only needed a change of scene,
but that to regain his health he required absolute freedom from
business cares. "I would advise you," said the doctor, "to get on a
horse and ride away, no matter whither. Go to the mountains--shun the
merest suggestions of civilization; in short, sleep out like a bear."

Blake attempted to act upon this advice. He stuffed a few shirts into
a pair of saddlebags, mounted a jolting horse, and rode up into the
grandeur of rugged mountain gorges. But to him the scenery imparted no
thrill of admiration. His heart beat low, and his pulse quivered with
a weakening flutter. The fox that in sudden alarm sprang across the
pathway, the raccoon that, with awkward scramble, climbed a leaning
tree, called not for a momentary quickening of his blood. He was
passing through one of the most distressing of human trials. He had no
disease; every muscle was sound. What, then, was the trouble? You shall
know.

He lay at night in a bank of leaves. Now everything startled him. He
trembled violently when the sun went down. Once he sprang, with a cry
of alarm, from his bed of leaves. Then he lay down again, ashamed. The
horse had snorted.

Farther and farther he went into the wildness of the mountains.
One evening he came upon a narrow road, and, following it for some
distance, saw a house. It was an old inn, with a suggestion of the
brigand about it. He tied his horse to a fence made of poles and went
into the house. There he found a man with a parchment face and small,
evil eyes, and a woman who, on the stage, could have appropriately
taken the _rôle_ of hag.

"Why, come in, sir, come in," said the man, getting up and placing a
chair for Blake. "Wife and I have been so lonesome for the last day or
so that we have been wishing somebody would come. Haven't we, Moll?"

The woman removed a cob pipe from her mouth, drew the back of a skinny
hand across her blue-looking lips, made a noise like the guttural croak
of an old hen with the roup, and said, "Yes."

"You'll of course stay all night with us," the man remarked. "We can't
possibly allow you to go on, especially as we are going to have falling
weather. Oh, when it comes to hospitality, why, you'll find it right
here. I'll go out and put up your horse."

Blake entered no objections. His deplorable condition would have forced
him into a compliance with almost any sort of proposition. The man
went out, put up the horse, and soon returned with a log of wood. "The
more fire we have the more cheerful it will be," he explained. "Out
prospecting?" he asked.

"No," Blake answered.

"Don't live nowhere near here, I reckon?"

"No."

"How long do you expect to remain in this part of the country?"

"I don't know."

The old woman mumbled and then, with a grating croak, said:

"He don't 'pear willin' ter tell much about hisse'f. Some folks is
mighty curi's thater way."

"Never mind, Moll," the host quickly responded. "It ain't quite time
for you to put in, except in the way of getting us a bite to eat."

She arose, without replying, and began preparations for supper.

"It is a dull time of the year with us," said the host. "It has been
about two weeks since our last boarder left. But I reckon business will
pearten up a little when the fishing season opens."

Blake paid no attention, except when some sharp and unexpected note in
the old man's voice produced a tingling of the nerves.

Shortly after supper, Blake declared his readiness to go to bed. He was
shown into a sort of shed room, separated by a thin partition from the
room which he had just quitted. The old man placed a spluttering candle
on the hearth, and, expressing the hope that his guest would pass a
quiet and peaceful night, withdrew.

Blake lay unable to sleep. Once the spluttering candle caused him to
spring up in bed. Suddenly his ears, extremely sensitive with his
nervousness, caught the sounds of a whispered conversation.

"It won't do to shed blood," said the old man. "It won't do, for we
made a mighty narrow escape the last time. It's impossible to get blood
stains out of the house.

"I b'l'eve them saddlebags air full uv money," the hag replied.

"I don't doubt that, and we've got to have it."

"How air you goin' ter git it?"

"Poison him. I wasn't a sort of doctor all these years for nothing."

"You never was no doctor ter hurt."

"But I'll be a doctor to-night to hurt."

"How air you goin' ter pizen him? Thar ain't a speck uv pizen on the
place."

"Where is that morphine?"

"Up thar in the bottle, but will that fix him?"

"Yes, and in such a way that nobody will suspect anything."

"How air you goin' ter do? Hold it under his nose?"

"Hold it under his foot!" the man contemptuously replied. "I am going
to make him take it."

"How?"

"I'll fix it."

Then there occurred a whispering of which Blake caught the following:

"Think that's ernuff?" the woman asked.

"It's nearly half a teaspoonful. Enough to make five men sleep
throughout eternity."

A moment later the host entered Blake's room. His manner was free from
embarrassment. In one hand he held a glass containing water.

"Stranger, I don't want to disturb you, but it occurred to me just now
that you looked as if you might be going to have a spell of sickness,
so I thought I would bring you some medicine. I am willing to help a
man, but I don't want him to be sick on my hands. I am a doctor, but I
don't propose to keep a hospital."

"Suppose I refuse to take the medicine?"

"Then you'll put me to the trouble of pouring it down you, that's all.
I am a mighty gentle sort of a fellow as long as everything goes on all
right, but if a hitch occurs, why I am as rough as a swamp oak."

"Are you sure the medicine will not hurt me?"

"Hurt you! Why, it will do you good. Here, swallow it down."

Blake drank the contents of the glass. The host smiled, bowed, and
withdrew. Then there followed another whispered conversation.

"Tuck it all right, did he?"

"Like a lamb. He'll be all right in a half-hour from now."

During fifteen or twenty minutes Blake lay quietly in bed. Then he got
up, dressed himself noiselessly, arranged the bed covers to resemble
the form of a man, took his saddlebags, stepped out at a back door,
went to the stable, saddled his horse, mounted and rode up to a window
and looked into the room which he had occupied. Cattle were tramping
about the yard, and the noise made by the horse attracted no attention.
He took a position so that he could, unobserved, see all that passed
within the room. The "doctor" and the old woman soon entered. They made
no attempt to speak in low tones.

"Whar is his saddlebags?" the woman asked.

"Under his head, I reckon. Snatch off the covers. He won't wake up."

The old woman pulled off the covers and uttered a cry of surprise.
Blake tapped on the window glass.

"Say, Doc," he called, "bring me the rest of that morphine. You see,
I have been a morphine eater for a number of years, but am trying to
quit. Your dose came in pretty handy, for I was in a bad fix. I am all
right now, and am much obliged to you. Good-night."

Less than a week from that time the "doctor" and his wife were in jail,
charged with the murder of a traveler. They were hanged at Greenville
last September.



A COMMERCIAL RIP-SNORTER.


Several years ago I was the editor and proprietor of the New Ebeneezer
_Plow Point_. It was a weekly publication, and, with its name as well
as with its class of matter, appealed to the farmers, and danced a
pandering jig to the shrill whistle of their prejudices. One day E. Sim
Nolan, a prominent man in the community, came into my office and said:

"I have been thinking of you for the past day or two, and I think that
with my keen business instincts I have unearthed the stone with which
you may pave your way to fortune. Writing is a very fine accomplishment
and plays its little part in journalism, but it is not the main thing.
Now, the main thing in the newspaper business is to achieve success.
'How can this be done?' you naturally ask. Not by advising the county
to repair the bridge over Cypress Bayou; not the editorial advising the
party to organize, but by getting business. One line in a thoroughly
thrifty paper is worth more and has more weight than a thousand lines
in a dragging publication that has to apologize every other week for
its inability to get out on time. You want a partner, not to help
you write, but a commercial rip-snorter, who can run business into a
corner, choke it into submission, and then drag it into the office.
That's the kind of a man you need. 'Where can I find him?' you are
about to ask. You have found him, or rather he has found you. I am that
man. I am that commercial rip-snorter. I can go out and in two days
load the _Plow Point_ so full of advertisements that you'll have to put
up side-boards. What do you think of it?"

"I have no doubt of your ability," I replied, "but I can not afford to
pay you."

"You don't have to pay me. The work will pay for itself. Now here;
say that you are making seventy-five dollars per month. Very well. The
commercial rip-snorter comes in. You get one hundred and fifty dollars
per month and the commercial rip-snorter gets one fifty. W'y, it's as
plain and simple and guileless as the soft laughter of a child. It
shall not be for one month but for all time. In short, take me in as
a partner. What is the greatest business stimulant? Salary? No, sir.
Proprietary interest. Give me a half interest in your paper, and it
will fly higher than the kite of Franklin. It will roar louder than a
cyclone, and scatter dollars where we can easily gather them up. As a
rule, I am not an enthusiast. Ordinarily I am a quiet man. The soldier
is quiet until his grand occasion comes."

I told him that I would think about it and give him an answer on the
following day. That afternoon I consulted with several friends. The
county judge declared that when Nolan put his shoulder to the wheel
the wagon moved. The county attorney said that I could well afford
to pay Nolan to take a half interest. That night I went to bed in a
highly agreeable state of mind. The clouds were breaking away, and I
could see the sun shining. The business cares of the office would be
lifted off my mind, and I could devote myself to writing and to study.
With nothing to do but to digest my subjects, I could write editorials
that would establish me as a party leader. I dreamed of web perfecting
presses, and of being consulted by great politicians. I hummed a tune
before breakfast. The trade was soon consummated; and, delivering the
books to Nolan, I seated myself in my inner sanctum, warmed by a stove
pipe which came through from an adjoining shed occupied by a shoemaker,
and gave myself up to deep thought. At last my time had come. At last
the people must acknowledge my leader-writing ability. The next day
Nolan brought in a few advertisements. Ah, the ripened fruit had
already begun to fall.

"By the way," said Nolan, as he seated himself on a corner of my table,
"I have got a great scheme on hand."

"Glad of it," I rapturously replied. "What is it?"

"A number of our most prominent men have boned me to run for sheriff."

"But will it not take up too much of your time?"

"Why, no. You see, I can be elected as easily as falling off a log, and
then, as sheriff, I can flood our paper with legal advertisements."

"Nolan, you are a remarkable man."

"You just wait."

I wrote editorials in his behalf, and even left my sanctum and made
speeches for him. He was elected. He turned over his newspaper books
to his son, and took charge of the sheriff's office. The boy sat in
the office, and, during the forenoon, whistled a circus tune. In the
afternoon he got drunk. A few days after Nolan was installed, I went
over to get an armful of legal advertisements. There were none on hand
just at that time, Nolan told me. "In fact," said he "it has been
decided not to print the delinquent-tax list this year."

I was disappointed. The boy whistled his circus tune and then went out
and got drunk. The next day, when I wanted to draw five dollars, the
boy gave me thirty-five cents. Bills began to come in, and my deep
thought was much disturbed by them. One morning Nolan came in, and,
after whistling in imitation of his son, said:

"It's pretty tough."

"What is?"

"Why, as sheriff, I've got to take charge of this office. Paper bill."

I was staggered.

"Can't we pay our bill?" I exclaimed.

"Haven't any money at present, I am sorry to say. I regret now that
I ran for sheriff, for it's devilish uncomfortable to close out a
partner."

I did not exactly understand it, but when he served an execution on
me I went out. As sheriff, he took charge of the office, discharged
his son, and took charge of the business and editorial departments. I
consulted several lawyers. They said that I was out. I knew that. They
didn't know how I could get in again. The law was very peculiar. I
knew that, too. I found out afterward that Nolan had called on all the
lawyers, and had told them that if they interfered with his affairs, he
would bear down on their clients, and as most of their clients were in
jail, they did not interfere. Nolan, as sheriff--and he is now serving
his fourth term--is still editor and proprietor of the New Ebeneezer
_Plow Point_.



HIS FRIEND FLANDERS.


When the hum in the court-room had settled into an occasional whisper,
the judge asked the prisoner if he would like to make a statement. The
prisoner, a slender man, with hair holding a slight intention to curl,
and with eyes large and willful, arose and made this statement:

John Flanders and I were the best of friends, though we were not drawn
toward each other by any common ties of vocation. In the early part
of my life I turned to literature, not that I expected to realize
a fortune in such a pursuit, but because I could do nothing else.
Flanders was a sort of general speculator. It seemed to me that every
time he stepped out in the street he saw a dollar, chased it, overtook
it, and put it in his pocket. My work was difficult and uncertain;
and the pigeon-holes of my desk were often stuffed with rejected
manuscripts. Gradually I discovered that I could not write if I knew
that Flanders was in the same building in which I had a room. At first
I regarded this feeling as a nervous freak, and tried to put it aside,
but then, finding that every literary thought had flown away from me, I
would discover that Flanders was in the building. One day when I heard
his footsteps in the hall I called him into my room. "Flanders," said
I, "you know that I have to make my living by literary work?"

"Yes," he replied.

"Well, but do you know that you contribute largely to my failure?"

"No," he replied; "how can that be?"

"It is in this way, Flanders: I can not write while you are in this
building. Just so soon as you step into the elevator downstairs, my
ideas droop and my pen splutters."

"I am sorry," he rejoined.

"I know you are," said I, "for there is not in the world a more
sympathetic man than you are."

"If I am so sympathetic, then why should I disturb you so?"

"I don't know, Flanders, but you do disturb me. Now, I have a favor to
ask of you."

"It shall be granted."

"It is this: please do not come into this building again."

"I will stay away," he said.

He did not come into the building again, and for a time I wrote with
ease; but one day my ideas flew away and my pen cut through the paper.
I knew that Flanders was not in the building, but I knew that he was
in town. I strove to write, but this fact weighed upon me. I went out
to look for Flanders. I found him in the Open Board of Trade, busily
engaged in driving a bargain. I drew him to one side.

"Flanders," said I, "you have again put my ideas to flight."

"How so?" he asked. "I have not been in your building since you
requested me to keep away."

"I know that; but you are in Chicago, and I have discovered that I
can not write if we are in the same town. Now, it really makes no
difference to you where you are."

"No," he replied.

"You can make a living anywhere."

"Yes."

"Well, then, leave this city."

"I will do so," said he. "I will go to New York."

I bade him an affectionate good-by, and he left on the next
eastern-bound train. I returned to my work with a feeling of
refreshment. My pen tripped over the paper with graceful airiness, and
my thoughts, arrayed in gay apparel, sported joyously. Thus several
weeks went by, but one day my pen stopped. I urged it, as a farmer
urges a balky horse, but it refused to move forward. It was because
Flanders was in this country. I wrote to him: "Flanders," said I, "you
must leave New York--must leave the United States. I can not write
if we are both under the same flag. I have a great piece of work to
perform and I know that you will not seek to deprive me of the fame
which its accomplishment will bring. Please leave this country."

A few days later I received the following reply: "I leave to-day for
London."

Again I went to work with a thrill of pleasure. The rosebuds of thought
opened with each passing breeze of inspiration. A month passed. One day
my pen fell. Instantly my thoughts flew to Flanders, and I sadly shook
my head. I could not write if Flanders and I lived in English-speaking
countries. I wrote to him. He was still generous, for in his reply he
said: "I appreciate your feelings. To-morrow I shall sail for Asia."

Again I experienced the usual relief, and the rosebuds which had so
long been covered with dust, opened with blooming freshness. Flanders
wrote to me from Pekin. Then my pen fell again. I could not write if
he and I were in the same world. I replied to his letter: "Flanders,"
said I, "come home at once."

I waited two weary months. One night, just as I had lighted my lamp and
sat down to dream with De Quincy, Flanders shoved open the door and
entered the room. I threw my arms about him and pressed him to me for I
loved him.

"Are you glad to see me, Flanders?" I asked, shoving him into an easy
seat.

"Delighted," he replied. "What is it you would have me do?"

"Nothing but sit where you are."

He looked at me with affection. His eyes were soft and glowing. I
reached into my desk and took out a sharp paper-cutter, and, as
Flanders was beaming upon me, I stabbed him. He sprang to his feet and
threw his arms about me, but I stabbed him again and again. He sank to
the floor and I sat down to my work. Oh, how my thoughts flew. With
wings that were feathered with silvery down and tipped with gold, they
soared higher and higher. I----

"Hold on," said the judge. "I would not have permitted this statement
had I not from the first been interested in its very curiousness. You
are not charged with the murder of anyone named Flanders. You found a
little boy playing among the flowers in a park and slew him."

The prisoner pressed his hands to his head. "Oh," he cried, "if
Flanders be not dead I can not write. He would not deprive me of the
fame----"

An officer led him away.



HENDRICKS KNEW IT.


Jasper Hendricks, old man Blue, Abe Stallcup, and several other men,
farmers in the neighborhood, sat, one rainy day, about the fireplace
in a Tennessee crossroads store. Autumn had just begun to enforce its
principles--that is, a lingering mildness of atmosphere had just turned
cool enough to shiver a little when the sun had sunk behind the distant
timber line. The "evangelist" had made his annual fall visit to the
neighborhood, and, assisted by local talent, was holding a revival in
Round Pound meeting-house.

The party of men in the store had been discussing the main features of
the meeting, and in their crude way had been speculating upon religion
in general, when old man Blue, a deacon and an ultra-religionist,
remarked:

"Wall, gentle_men_, it's all right ter talk, but when the ho'n blows,
callin' us ter a final settle_ment_, w'y we jest nachully cave; that's
all. The bravest man in the world would a leetle ruther stay here, ef
he's in his right mind, than ter take the chances in a neighborhood
(as a feller named _Hamestring_ or _Hamlet_, I dunno which, once said)
frum which thar ain't nobody returned ter tell us the condition uv the
craps an' sich. Now I've a putty strong hope that my after-life will be
smooth an' easy, but I'll jest tell you whut's er fack, I'd ruther stay
here er leetle longer, even ef I hafter plow with er jumpin' coulter
an' break a yoke of calves urcasion'ly, than ter go thar."

"You air right!" Stallcup responded. "At times when we air sorter
shoutin' round the mourner's bench we feel like we wouldn't kere ef we
wuz called erway at wunst, but airter we git out an' see the sun shine
the next day, an' see the birds erhoppin' erround the straw-stack,
an' lissen ter the ole jaybird that's dun picked a quarrel with the
yallerhammer, w'y we feel sorter like stayin' here a while longer."

Then Jasper Hendricks spoke. Every one turned to pay him particular
attention. He was the one man in the neighborhood whom no one
understood. He was strikingly handsome--tall, with soft black hair that
seemed to worm itself into graceful curls. He was not saintly in his
deportment. Often at night, while a furious storm was raging, and while
the lightning painted in frightful colors a momentary picture on the
cliffs, Hendricks, half drunk and chanting a stirring tune, had been
seen to gallop at desperate speed through the crash and roar of the
weather's awful outbreak.

"Gentlemen," said Hendricks, "you air but pore proofs uv yo' faith. Ef
you really believe whut you say you do--believe that thar is er crown
that airter while will press with gentle soothin' on your troubled
brows, you would long fur the time when you mout leave this world.
The shinin' uv the sun an' the quarrel uv the jaybird an' yallerhammer
wouldn't have no influence ter hold you back frum er everlastin' joy."

"Hendricks," said old man Blue, "you air er sort uv er poet an' kain't
understan' the feelin's uv er common man."

"I'm not er poet only in feelin'," Hendricks replied, "but ef I was
I'd know mo' erbout you than I do, fur the poet, erbove all others,
understan's the feelin's uv the common man. It is his perfeck
understan'in' uv the heart uv the common man that makes him er poet."

"Have you got any hope in the next world, Hendricks?" old man Blue
asked.

"Have you?"

"Yas."

"Why?"

"Becaze, I've got er promise."

"Who made it?"

"W'y, the Lord, I think."

"Promised you that you would be perfectly happy in the next world?"

"Yas," the old man replied.

"Air you perfeckly happy in this here world?"

"No, I ain't."

"Do you believe that the Lord always keeps his promises?"

"Yas, I do."

"Then why don't you want ter go ter the next world at once? Why don't
you pray fur death?"

"I don't know, Hendricks."

"I do."

"Why, then?"

"Because you don't believe the Lord has made you any promise."

"Oh, yas, I do."

"Oh, no, you don't."

"Wall, I tell you whut it is, Hendricks, no sensible man hankers airter
dyin'."

"He does, if the Lord has made him a promise."

"Yas, but he wants ter wait the Lord's own time."

"A good excuse," Hendricks replied. "You want to wait the Lord's own
time, an' you hope that the Lord's time will be long."

"Hendricks, you kain't blame er man for wantin' to live."

"Yes, I can, if he believes that he would be better off in another
world."

"But he don't know that."

"Then he ain't got religion, an' don't b'l'eve what God says."

"Oh, yas, Hendricks. You know it would skeer you might'ly ef you knowed
you had ter die ter-day."

"I'm not religious, but ter know that I had ter die ter-day wouldn't
skeer me."

"I think it would, Hendricks."

"But I know it wouldn't; so now, fur the sake uv argyment, let us say
that I have got ter die ter-day."

"Yas," rejoined old Blue, "we ken say it fur argyment's sake, an' it
won't skeer you, but ef it was sho' 'nuff, it would."

"Wall, then, say it's sho' 'nuff."

"We ken say it, but that won't skeer you, fur you know it ain't true."

"But I know it is true."

"What, you know that you are goin' ter die ter-day?"

"Yes, sir."

"How do you know it?"

"By this fack," Hendricks replied. He drew a revolver, placed it
against his head, and fired. He fell from the chair, dead. The men
looked in horror upon the scene. A breeze through the open doorway
stirred Hendricks' hair into beautiful curls.



WEARING OUT THE CARPET.


Among the guests at a small summer hotel were a little boy and his
mother. The boy's fullness of life and richness of prankish resource
kept the timid, shrinking mother in a constant state of alarm; and the
servants, noticing that she was afraid that her son might give offense,
took pains to increase her anxiety by telling the child, in those soft
but forced tones of kindness which burn worse than harshness, not
to make so much noise and not to scatter bread crumbs on the steps.
The proprietor's wife, an old woman whom everyone said was motherly,
unconsciously took a cue from the servants, and, forgetting that her
own sons and daughters were once noisy children, began to oppress the
boy.

"Sh-sh--don't make a fuss," she said, meeting him in the hall. "Little
boys must be seen and not heard. Go and put that ball away. You might
break something. Never mind that cat. Get out of my way. I wonder what
your mother can be thinking about."

"Tommie," his mother called from a neighboring room.

"Maam."

"Come here."

"I ain't doin' nothin'."

"Oh, let him alone, I pray you," said the proprietor's wife, inclining
her head and smiling at the mother, who had appeared in the doorway. "I
was simply afraid that he might break something with his ball, but do
let him enjoy himself, I beseech you. Children will be children, you
know."

"I do hope he won't cause you any trouble," the mother replied. "I do
the very best I can with him, but--I--I--come here, son."

She reached out, took the boy by the hand, and drew him into the room.

"What makes you cry, mamma?"

"Because you are so bad, darling," she replied, taking him into her
arms.

"I didn't know I was bad."

"But you are. You seem to make everybody miserable."

"What's miserable?"

"Unhappy."

"What's unhappy?"

"Go, sit down over there."

He climbed up on a trunk, twisted himself around, tore his clothes, got
down, killed a fly on the window pane, picked up a feather which he
found in a corner, threw it up and blew his breath upon it, turned over
a work-basket, climbed upon the bed where his mother had lain down, put
his hands on her face, gazed with mischievous tenderness into her eyes,
and said:

"I love you."

She clasped him to her bosom. "You'll be a good boy, won't you?"

"Yessum, an' when that nigger makes a face at me, I won't say
anything."

"Well, you must not."

"An' musn't I grab holt of the calf's tail when he shoves it through
the fence?"

"No."

"Why?"

"Oh, because it will hurt him. Let mamma go to sleep now, but don't you
go out."

"Nome."

The woman sank to sleep. The boy got off the bed and went to the
window. He looked up at a fly that was buzzing at the top, went back
to the bed, gently kissed his mother, and stole out into the hall.
Exuberant with freedom, he began to gallop in imitation of a horse.

"Sh-sh!"

He was confronted by the proprietor's wife. "What are you racing around
here like a mule for--say? Don't you know you are wearing out the
carpet? Why don't you go somewhere and sit down and behave like a human
being? Think I bought this carpet to have it scuffed out this way?
Stop raking your foot on the floor that way."

He held up his hands as if, in begging for forgiveness, he would kiss
her. "Don't put your greasy hands on me. Go on, now, and don't rake
your feet on this carpet. I don't know what mothers these days can be
thinking about."

"Tommie," his mother called.

"Yessum."

"Come here."

"Oh, I don't know what to do with you," she said, when she had drawn
him into the room. "What makes you so bad?"

"I dunno; but it must be the bad man."

"Yes, and he'll get you, too, if you don't behave yourself."

"And will he hurt me?"

"Yes; he will."

"How?"

"Burn you."

"Ho! I'd shoot him."

"You couldn't."

"Why couldn't I?"

"Oh, I don't know."

"Then how do you know he would burn me?"

"Oh, I don't know that he would."

"Then what made you say that he would?"

"For gracious sake, give me a little peace."

"A little piece of bread?" he asked, while his eyes twinkled with
mischief.

"Hush, sir; hush. Not another word out of you. Take your dirty hands
away from my face."

"I want to hug you."

"Well, hug me, then, and sit down."

"You love me, don't you?"

"Yes, little angel," she said, pressing him to her bosom.

"More than all the houses an' railroads an' steamboats put together?"

"Yes."

To the mother the days were dragged over the field of time like the
dead body of an animal. In misery lest her son should cause offense,
she watched him, and, at table, hushed him. The proprietor's wife
scolded him, and at last the little fellow's spirit was cowed. He
crept through the hall, and, on tiptoe, to keep from wearing out the
carpets, he moved through the house. He would shrink when he saw the
proprietor's wife, and in his sleep he muttered apologies and declared
that he would be good. One morning he awoke with a burning fever.

"I wish you would come in and see my little boy," said the mother,
addressing the proprietor's wife. She went in. The little fellow looked
at her, and, as a deeply-troubled expression crossed his face, said:

"I won't wear out the carpet."

"Why, no, you won't hurt the carpet. Get up and run on it all you want
to."

"I can't, now."

"But you can after awhile."

Days of suffering; nights of dread. Everything had been done and the
doctor had gone home. A heart-broken woman buried her face in the
bedclothes. The proprietor's wife, with tears streaming down her face,
stood looking upon a wasted face which had, only a short time before,
beamed with mischief.

"Little boy," she said, "dear little fellow, you are going to leave us.
You are going to heaven."

"No," he faintly replied, "I will be in the way, and they won't let me
laugh there."

A long silence followed, and then the old woman whispered:

"He is gone."

A man with heavy boots walked on the carpet in the hall.



A BRIDEGROOM.


One hot afternoon a tramp printer entered the office of the Franklin
(Ky.) _Patriot_. The regular corps of compositors were sufficient to do
all necessary work, but the boys were lazy and wanted to go fishing,
so the tramp was given temporary employment. When the boys returned
next day they were surprised, and not a little ashamed, to see that
the tramp had "set up" the entire paper--work which would have taken
the entire force several days to perform. When the proof-sheets were
brought in, they were found to be so clean that the editor of the
_Patriot_ sent for the tramp.

"What is your name?" the editor asked.

"Oscar Howell."

"Where are you from?"

Mr. Howell waived his hand around in a complete circle.

"What does that mean?"

"Means that I am from everywhere."

"Do you want work?"

"That's the reason I came here."

"I mean regular work."

"Yes; but I don't want to throw anybody out of a job."

"Glad you are so honorable; but those boys out there are my sons and I
am thinking of sending them to school."

"All right, then, I will take their place."

"Do you drink?"

"I wound up the ball of an extended spree the other day, but I am not
going to drink any more."

"I hope your resolution may hold out."

"I will give it many a half-soling."

"Well, you may begin regular work to-morrow morning."

"All right, sir."

Within two months from that time Mr. Howell was one of the best dressed
men in the town. People who had commented on his shabby appearance now
called him handsome. He joined the Good Templars' lodge and mingled
in the society of the tittering maidens of the village. Doctors and
lawyers sought his company. He had brought a literary freshness to the
town. His jokes were new; his courtesy marked. One year passed away.
Mr. Howell was engaged to marry the handsomest and most intelligent
young woman in the town. The girl's father and mother were delighted.
Howell was envied by all the young men. The day for the wedding drew
near. The "popular and enterprising tailor" had made Howell's wedding
suit.

One day another tramp entered the office. Howell dropped his "make-up
rule" and sprang forward to meet him.

"Why, Shorty, how are you?"

"Sorter slow," the tramp replied as he placed his elbows on the
imposing-stone. "How is it with you?"

"Oh, I am flying. Going to get married to-morrow night."

"Glad to hear it. When we separated that day with a carefully
divided quart, I didn't think your lines would so soon fall in such
appreciative places."

"Neither did I. It is all due, though, Shorty, to my sobriety. I tell
you there is no hope for the drunkard. I'll never drink any more."

"Glad. Expect to quit pretty soon myself. What sort of wedding-toggery
have you got?"

"Finest you ever saw."

"Would like to see 'em. Where's your room?"

"Just across the street."

"Suppose we go over."

"All right. You ought to see my girl."

They went to Howell's room.

"By George!" exclaimed Shorty. "You will be fixed up in style, won't
you?"

"I should say so. Well, it's time, for I have been a fool long enough."

"Say, put 'em on. I want to see how you will look as a bridegroom."

"I don't want to rumple 'em."

"Go ahead and put 'em on. You know that in my present plight I can't go
to see you step off."

"To please you, Shorty, I'll put 'em on, but you are the only person
that could cause me to yield in this matter."

He put on the clothes.

"By George, Oscar, you look like a French dancing master. Well, I'm
going to take a little nip."

He took a bottle out of his pocket and shook it. "Here's some old stuff
a fellow gave me at Hopkinsville. Fifteen years old. Remember the time
we struck that old negro for a pint of peach brandy? Well, here's to
you. Ah, hah, hah. Would you try a little?"

"No."

"Won't hurt you. Wouldn't hurt a flea. I tell you that when a fellow
feels bilious a little licker is a mighty good thing for him. Ever get
bilious?"

"Yes, bilious now. Haven't had any appetite for a week."

"I was 'way off the other day, but this stuff (again shaking the
bottle), has set me all right."

"You don't mean to say that you have had that licker for several days?"

"Yes. Tell you what's a fact, a man doesn't want but little of this
stuff, and the beauty of it is, it keeps him from drinking bad licker."

"Let me smell of it."

Howell held the bottle to his nose. Then, with a sudden impulse, his
lips closed over the neck. "Ah, that is good. What sort of a time have
you had since I saw you last?"

"Tough, I tell you. Take another pull and hand it over here. Recollect
that song old Patsy Bolivar used to sing--'When this old coat was new?'"

"Yes," Howell replied, "I was thinking about it the other night. Let me
taste your ware, as Simple Simon remarked. Getting pretty low, too."

"Yes, too low."

"That isn't bad. Say, can you sing Patsy's song?"

"Might if I had licker enough."

"Let's slip down the back stairs into that saloon."

"All right, but ain't you going to take off your wedding clothes?"

"No; we won't be down there but a few minutes."

       *       *       *       *       *

The next day a battered bridegroom and a ragged tramp awoke in a cattle
car, seventy-five miles from Franklin.

"Say, Oscar!"

"Well."

"Give me your vest. You ain't got no use for so much toggery."

"All right, here she is."

"Where shall we strike for?"

"Reckon we'd better get off at the junction and strike out down the
Memphis road."



DAVE SUMMERS.

HIS OWN STORY OF A ROMANCE AND ITS ENDING.


Dar ain't no frolic in whut I'm gwine ter tell. I know dat some folks
thinks dat er nigger's life is made up o' laziniss an skylarkin', but
dat belief, 'specially in my case, ain't de truf. Oh, I had my fun w'en
I wuz er youngster. Bless you, dar wa'n't er pusson in de neighborhood
dat hankered atter mischief mo' den Dave Summers did, but 'stead o'
ole age bringin' dat peace an' rest, which, eben in de libely time
o' youth, sensible pussons looks forward ter, dar come trouble o' de
blackest sort.

W'en I wuz erbout fifty years ole, de notion got inter my head dat I
aughter preach. I doan know how it got dar--sholy not becaze I had been
thinkin' erbout it--fur de fust thing I know'd erbout it wuz wakin'
up one mawnin' wid de idee. I talked wid some o' my frien's an' da
said: "Dave, dat is er call, an' you better not be projickin' wid it.
De speret wants yer ter fling yer voice inter de gospul work an' you
better not make er Jonah o' yerse'f by tryin' ter run erway."

"But how's I gwine ter preach?" I axed. "It's 'bout ez much ez I ken do
ter read."

"De Lawd ain't axed you ter read," one o' my frien's says. "He axes yer
ter preach; ef you ken read er little, you ken l'arn how ter read mo'."

I went erway, mighty troubled in my mine. My wife had been dead fur
sebrel years, an' not habbin' any chillum I libed by myse'f in er cabin
on er big plan'ation. I shet myse'f up an' prayed. De naixt mawnin' my
load 'peared ter be heavier. Dar wa'n't nuthin' left fur me, so I says:
"I will preach. I will get somebody ter l'arn me how ter read mo' an' I
will preach de gospul de bes' I knows how." Den I thought o' my load,
but it wuz gone. It wa'n't long till I stood up in de pulpit. Dar wuz
sebrel smart men in de church, an' it 'peared ter 'muze 'em might'ly
ter yere ez ignunt er man ez I wuz talk erbout heaben an' de souls o'
men. Ah, Lawd! ignunce ken fling ez much light on some subjec's ez de
greates' 'arthly wisdom ken. I went at my work in earnes', not tryin'
ter git up er great 'citement, but 'deavorin' ter show de folks de
right way to live in dis worl' so da would be better prepared for de
life to come; an' ef dar eber wuz er man dat wuz hones' an' true ter
his callin' I b'l'ebes dat I wuz de pusson.

'Mong de members o' my flock wuz er mighty likely 'oman named Frances.
I wuz fust drawed toward her by her singin', an' one time when de
sweetness o' her music died away, I looked at her an' 'knowledge ter
myse'f dat I loved her. At fust she sung fur my soul an' I worshiped
wid her, but atter w'ile she sung ter my heart an' I worshiped her. I
tried ter think o' my ole wife lying' in de shade o' de sycamo' trees,
an, in my min' I could see de rail pen round her grave an' de trees
would be gone an' in dar place would stan' a likely 'oman smilin' at
me. I went ter my ole wife's grave an' drapped down on my knees an'
prayed. De broad sycamo' leaves waved and specks o' moonlight come
siftin' down like de flyin' chaff o' new oats dat ketches de light
o' de fresh-born day. Er makwin' bird sung in er tree close by, but,
way ober on er hill, er night hawk cried. I thought how me an' my ole
wife had wucked in the fiel', side by side, an' de bird seemed ter
sing sweeter, but den, twixt me an' de grave dar hung er bright smile.
I tried ter rub it out wid my han', but dar it hung, an' through its
brightness I seed de worm-eat head-boa'd o' de grave. "O, Lawd," I
prayed, "let dis tem'tation pass erway. Let dy sarvent in his ole age
hab de strenth ter turn fum de high-strung follies o' de young man."
I riz up, wid de damp, dead grass clingin' ter my knees. De lights
gunter shine fum de church close by, an' de sad an' swellin' song o'
de congregation peared ter lay er tremblin' han' on my heart. Why did
I on er sudden lean ergin er tree? Becaze I heard her voice. I went
inter de church an' ez I walked wid bowed head toward de pulpit I heard
somebody whisper "He's been in de woods ter pray." I did not look up
but I knowed who it wuz dat whispered, for my heart felt de tech o' de
tremblin' han'. I preached dat night de best I could, an' it seemed dat
I made my hearers feel some o' my own sadness, fur w'en I called fur de
stricken in heart ter come up ter de mou'ners' bench, mo' come forward
den had eber come befo' under de 'fluence o' my callin'. We stayed late
in de church dat night. Nearly all de mou'ners, habin' wuck ter do de
naixt day, had dun left de house w'en I noticed one po' feller whose
heart, it 'peared like, wuz almos' broke. He lay flat on de flo' an'
groaned like he suffered great pain. I went ter him, raised him up an'
hil' his head on my knee. De congregation thinned out, one by one. I
leaned over an' talked ter de po' man. Lookin' up I seed dat Frances
was kneelin' wid us.

"Lady--Sister Frances," I said, "it's time dat you wuz goin' home. De
can'les is all burned away an' de lamps is goin' out."

"I will stay an' he'p you poor de ba'm on dis po' sinner," she replied.

I didn' say no mo'; but w'en mo' den er hour afterwards de sinner got
up ter go, I says ter her:

"Sister Frances, if you ain't got no 'jections, I'll walk home wid you."

She smiled--de same smile dat I had seed twixt me an' de worm-eat
head-boa'd o' de grave--an' said dat she would be pleased for me ter
'company her. I doan know what I said ter her ez we walked erlong, but
I know dat w'en we got ter de little gate in front o' de cabin w'ar
her folks libed, she wuz leanin' on my arm. De moon had gone down, an'
de flutterin' in de trees in de yard told me dat de mawnin' birds wuz
fixin' ter begin dar twitterin'.

"Brudder Summers," said de lady, ez I wuz erbout ter bid her good-bye,
"dar 'pears ter be sunthin' on yo' mine."

"Not only on my mine, Sister Frances, but dar is sunthin' on my heart."

I was goin' ter turn erway atter dis, but she put her han' on my
arm--de same tremblin' han' dat had teched my heart--an' said:

"Tell me 'bout yo' troubles. Tell me whut is lyin' on yo' heart."

"Er tremblin' han', lady."

"Does you know dat it is er han'?"

"Yas, fur I keen see it in de light o' 'er bright smile."

"Is de han' cold?"

"No, lady."

"Is it ez wa'm ez mine?" she said, ez she put her han' in my own
fever-like grasp. De naixt minit my arm wuz around her. De mawnin'
birds twittered in de trees, light gunter wink ercross de bottoms, an'
dar, ez de gold o' de day wuz chasin' de fleetin' silver o' de dawn, I
axed her ter be my wife.



CHAPTER II.


We wuz married. I tuck her ter my cabin an' bright light fell on my
hearth-stone. She wanted ter he'p me in my work o' 'swadin' folks ter
do right. "I know," she said, "dat folks all erround us will be makin'
mo' money den we is, but money doan water de flowers o' de heart, nur
broaden de 'joyment dat comes ter de soul." I lubbed her deeper atter
she said dat, fur I seed dat her natur wa'n't vain nur her heart set
upon de flesh-pots o' de world.

Two years passed erway--two o' de happies' years o' my life. One day
dar was some bills stuck up 'nouncin' dat Andrew Hennifen, er colored
politician dat libbed in town, would on de naixt Friday make er speech
ter de folks. Er campaign wuz on han' an' gre't intrus' wuz felt in de
outcome. W'en de day come de weather wuz so showery dat da couldn'
hol' de meetin' out do's, so some o' de men come ter me an' axed me ef
da mout meet in de church. I didn' much think dat it wuz de right sort
er meetin' ter be hel' in de house o' de Lawd, but seein' dat da wuz
all so anxious, I tole em dat da mout. Den da axed me ter go ober an'
lissen ter de gre't speech wut de generman wuz gwine ter make. I didn'
like de idee o' settin' in my own church and lissenin' ter de skussion
o' de erfairs o' de worl'. Den Frances spoke up:

"W'y, Dave," she said, "if we are gwine ter lib in de worl' we mus'
take some intrus' in de erfairs o' de worl'. Ef de man had got anything
wuth yearin', I doan see w'y we aughtenter go an' lissen ter him. Ef we
finds dat wut he says ain't fit fer us, w'y den we ken come erway."

"Wut you says is true, Frances," I replied, "an you mus' scuse me ef
I is holdin' you back in any way. Er ole man loves wid jes' es much
wa'mth ez er young man does, an' it is er pity dat he doan lub wid ez
much jedgment."

"You musn' talk dat way, Dave," she said, wid er laugh, "fur in lovin'
me yo' jedgment ain't made no mistake."

Hennifen wuz er tall, yaller man, an' much younger den I 'spected ter
fine him. In his speech he used a good deal o' strong talk, an' called
er lot o' folks dat wa'n't present, liars an' thieves. I didn' like
dis, but er man dat sat naixt ter me tole me dat it wuz all right, an'
dat ef de speaker didn' do dater way, de folks would think dat he wuz
erfeered ter 'nounce his principles. Atter de speakin' wuz over, de
speaker come up ter me, hil' out his han' an' said:

"Mr. Summers, I has often hearn o' you, sah, an' I takes dis 'tunity o'
shakin' han's wid you."

Wen I had shuck han's wid him, he said:

"Is dis yo' daughter wid you?"

"My wife, sah," said I.

"Ah, I's pleased ter meet de lady."

We walked on outen de house, an' Hennifen wuz so busy talkin' 'bout de
gre't principles o' his party dat he didn' seem ter notice dat he wuz
walkin' erway fum de crowd wid us. Atter w'ile he stopped an' said dat
he reckoned he better go back.

"Won't you walk on home wid us?" my wife said.

"I thanks you kindly; I b'l'ebe I will," he answered. "I would like
ter see de inside o' my 'stinguished 'quaintance's house," makin' er
sideways motion wid his head at me, "an' 'sides dat, I'se got er little
bizness ter talk ober wid him."

"You will see er lowly household," said I, "fur I ain't been gaged in
gederin' de shinin' goods o' de yeth, but at de do' you will see er
vine dat is watered wid truf an' dat blooms in contentment."

"Dar ain't no reason why dar shouldn' be some o' de shinin' goods o' de
yeth in yo' house," said he. "De fack dat da is o' de yeth doan meek
'em none de less de Lawd's, an' bein' shiny doan meck 'em de property
o' Satan."

I seed my wife look at him wid er quick glance, an' I knowed dat she
'proved o' wut he said. I seed mo' den dat--I seed wut until dat time
had 'scaped me--I seed dat de man wuz good lookin'. I felt er pang o'
oneasiness, an' I cleared my froat deep, ez ef I would rasp de pang
outen my bosom. W'en we got ter de house, he set down in er rockin'
cheer an' made hisse'f look freer an' easier den I had eber felt in
any house 'cep' my own. Frances went inter de little shed kitchin dat
j'ined de house an' cooked dinner. It struck me dat she tuk er heep o'
pains, specially w'en she fotch out er table clof dat I didn' know she
had. Atter dinner Mr. Hennifen said dat he would git down ter bizness.

"Mr. Summers, you is too smart er man ter be wastin' yo' substance,"
wuz de way he started out. I didn' say nothin'. He went on: "You hab
got de 'bility ter make yo'se'f mighty useful ter yo' country. De
'fluence dat you has 'stablished ober yo' fellerman ken be turned ter
rich ercount. De bes' people in dis county wants ter 'lect Hillson fur
sheriff. Dis ken only be done by good men puttin' dar shoulders ter de
wheel. I is Hillson's right han' man, an I's got de 'thority for sayin'
dat ef you'll turn in an' make speeches fur him dat he will pay you
well."

My wife looked at me. "Mr. Hennifen," said I, "wut you say may be de
truf, but I is makin' speeches fur de Lawd."

"Yes, but makin' speeches for de Lawd, Mr. Summers, needn' keep you
frum speakin' in fabor o' Hillson."

"Dave," said my wife, "Mr. Hennifen is sholy right, an', mo'n dat, ef
dar's er man in dis neighborhood dat needs money, you is de man. De
folks dat lissuns ter you preach neber seems ter know dat we needs
things in dis house."

"Frances," I replied, "Mr. Hillson ain't er man o' my choice. He has
been mixed up in ugly erfairs, an' I kain't make no speeches fur him;
so, let de subjeck drap right whar it is."

Hennifen 'sisted on sayin' mo', but I tole him it wa'n't no use. He
didn' stay long atter dis, but sayin' dat he would see me ergin, went
erway.

"Does you allus 'spect ter lib in poverty?" my wife axed.

"I doan 'spect ter meck speeches in fabor o' er dishones' man," I
answered.

Hennifen come back inter de neighborhood de naixt week an' called at my
house, but I wa'n't at home. When I axed Frances wut he had ter say,
she said dat he didn' stay but er few minits an' didn' say much o'
anythin'. Er few days atterwards I hearn dat he wuz in de neighborhood
ergin, workin' wid de voters, but he didn' come ter my house, an' I
didn' hunt him.

Nearly er munt must hab passed w'en one day I wuz called on ter preach
de funul o' er man ober in ernuder 'munity. I didn' git back till late
in de night. De house wuz dark, an' ez I went up ter de do' I tangled
my foot in de vine, stumbled an' tore it up by de roots. I went in an'
lit de candle. Frances wa'n't dar. I called her--stepped to de do' an'
called her till de echo o' my voice brought back wid it de cry o' er
night bird. I went ober ter er neighbor's house. De women folks 'gun
ter cry ez soon ez da seed me. I axed ef da had seen Frances.

"Oh, Brudder Summers, she's dun gone wid dat yaller raskil. He fotch er
buggy an' tuck her erway."

I went down ter de sycamo' trees w'ar my ole wife wuz buried, an' got
down on my knees. Dar wa'n't no bright smile 'twixt me an' de grave.



CHAPTER III.


De women folks fotch flowers nearly ever' day an' put 'em in my house,
an' de men folks tuck off dar hats w'en da come w'ar I wuz. I kep' on
makin' speeches fur de Lawd, an' men dat wuz once noisy in church wuz
now quiet.

De 'leckshun time come on, and I kotch up my old gray hoss an' rid up
ter town. I went ter all de votin' places, but didn' see nobody dat I
knowed. I heard one man say: "Wonder wut dat cuis-lookin' ole man is
er pokin' 'roun' yere fur?" Den somebody answered: "Dar's er yaller
man dodgin' 'round yere somewhar dat mout fling some light on dat
question." Ever' time I hearn o' any p'litical ter-do anywhar, I rid
dar, but didn' see nobody dat I knowed.

Winter time come, de col'est winter dat I eber felt. One Sunday dar
come er heavy snow, an' dat night it turned so col' dat I couldn'
hardly keep wa'm by de fire. De win' blowed hard. Suthin flapped ergin
de winder. I hil' de candle, an' dar seed de great starin' eyes o'
er night bird. I turned erway an' had jes' sot down by de fire w'en
I hearn er noise at de do'; I lissened, an' den I hearn er groan. My
heart felt de tech o' er col' hand, an' I knowed dat Frances had come
back. I opened de do'; she lay on de groun' wid her face turned up. I
tuck her in my arms an' laid her on de bed.

"Dave--Dave, won't you forgib me?"

I stood lookin' at her. "Oh, won't you forgib me? De Lawd has pardoned
me, an' I has come back ter ax you--you--"

"Yas," I said, "yas, po' child. Go ter sleep in peace."

She looked at me an' tried ter smile, but de light wuz gone, an' dar
wa'n't no smile 'twixt me and de grave.

We laid her under de sycamo' trees, but not w'ar my old wife wuz buried.

I kep' on goin' ter p'litical meetin's, an' some folks wondered why er
ole man dat neber voted tuck such intrus' in sich erfairs.

One day I wuz ridin' 'long er road near w'ar er number o' convicts wuz
at work. I seed er man dat I knowed 'cross de road in front o' me. I
turned toward him. He flung up er gun and cried out:

"Stop, er I'll kill you. Been er huntin' me long ernuff."

I didn' stop, an' he fired at me, an' den, flingin' down de gun, he
clim de fence an' 'gunter run ercross er fiel'. Er mighty yelpin' noise
made de a'r ring, an' lookin' erway ter de right, I seed er lot er
bloodhounds dat da kep' fur chasin' de convicts. Da wuz atter de man.
Somebody yelled ter 'em ter stop, but da didn'. I got offen my hoss,
an', wid seb'ral men, followed de dogs. We heard de man holler--we seed
him tryin' ter fight off de dogs. "Mussyful God!" I hearn him cry, an'
den his voice wuz swallowed up by de howlin' o' de dogs. W'en we come
up ter w'ar de dogs wuz, I seed er man tore all ter pieces, an' I seed
er dog, atter lookin' at me, bury his teeth in er yaller face.

Dat night ez I riz up frum my ole wife's grave, de dead, damp grass
clung ter my knees.



THE CAPTAIN'S ROMANCE.


Capt. Rilford is known as one of the bravest and most gallant officers
of the United States army. He is one of those old bachelors to whom the
passing years bring additional installments of romance. I have seen him
go into ecstatic spasms over a spout spring in the mountains, and have
known him to lie under a tree and shed tears over the misfortunes of a
heroine drawn by some fourth-class romancer; but in action he was so
fearless that his brother officers excused what they pleased to term
his soft qualities.

A short time ago the captain was granted a leave of absence. He had
long since grown tired of all the fashionable watering-places, and
no longer could find anything in the cities to interest him, so the
question of how he should spend that time, which was all his own,
began to perplex him.

"I am acquainted with both the wild and civilized life of our country,"
said he, addressing a friend. "I know the wild Indian and the Boston
swell; and, to tell you the truth, I don't know what to do."

"Yes, you are acquainted with the extremes," the friend rejoined, "but
do you know much of the intermediate? You have made a study of the
Indian in his wild state, but do you know anything of him as a citizen?
Why not go to the Indian Territory, the Cherokee Nation, for instance,
and amuse yourself by studying the habits of the Indian farmer?"

The captain was so impressed with the idea that, the next day, he set
out for the Indian Territory. He found the country to be beautiful,
with hills of charming contemplation and valleys of enrapturing
romance. Streams like moving silver thrilled him, and birds, whom it
seemed had just found new songs, made the leaves quiver with echoing
music. After several days of delightful roaming, the captain rented a
small cabin, and, having provided himself with a few cooking utensils,
settled down to housekeeping. With the rifle and the fishing rod he
provided ample food, and as he soon became acquainted with several
farmers he thought, over and over again, that his romantic craving
had never before approached so near to (in his own words) sublime
satisfaction. His nearest neighbor, four miles distant, was an Indian
farmer named Tom Patterson. His family consisted of a wife and one
daughter, a rather handsome girl. She had learned to read and write,
and, as she seemed to be romantic, the captain soon became much
interested in her.

Patterson was rather a kind-hearted old fellow, accommodating in
everything but answering questions concerning his family, but this was
not an eccentricity, for nearly all Indians are disposed to say as
little as possible with regard to themselves. Ansy, the girl, was fond
of fishing, and as no restraint was placed upon her actions, she and
the captain (his words again) had many a delightful stroll.

There was, I had forgotten to mention, another member of the Patterson
household, a negro named Alf. He was as dark as the musings of a
dyspeptic, but he was good-natured and obliging.

"Rather odd that a colored man, so fond of political life, should live
out here away from the States, isn't it, Alf?" the captain one day
asked.

"Wall, no, sah, kain't say dat it is. Dar's er right smart sprinklin'
o' us genermen out yare, an' dough we's mighty fur erpart we manages
ter keep up good 'sciety, sah. Yes, sah, an' ef it wa'n't fur de cullud
genermen in dis yare 'munity w'y de Territory would dun been gone ter
rack an' ruin. Caze why? I'll tell yo', sah. De Ingin is a mighty
han' ter furnish meat, but gittin' o' de bread is a different thing.
In udder words, sah, he kin kill er deer but he ain't er good han' to
raise co'n. Yes, sah, de nigger ken plow all roun' de Ingin, an' de
Ingin knowin' dis, ginally gins de niggah er good chance."

"You work with Mr. Patterson on shares, don't you?"

"Yes, sah; ha'f o' dis crap 'longs ter me. W'y, fo' I come yare dar
wa'n't hardly nuthin' raised on dis place but weeds an' grass. I
happened to meet Patterson in Fort Smif one time. He hearn me talk
erbout farmin' an' den he made a dead set at me ter come home wid him."

"Are the people throughout this neighborhood very peaceable?"

"Yas, sah, lessen da gits 'spicious o' er pusson, an' den look out.
Da looks cuis at ever' stranger, thinkin' dat he's spyin' 'roun' an'
tryin' ter talk de Injuns in faber o' openin' up this yare territory.
Dar's er passul o' fellers ober de creek dat calls darselves de Glicks.
Da is allus 'spicious, an' I tells you whut's er fack, I'd ruther hab
er team o' mules run ober me an' den be butted by a muley steer--an'
I does think way down in my cibilization dat er muley steer ken thump
harder den anything on de face o' de yeth--den ter hab dem Glicks git
atter me. Seed 'em hang er pusson once jes' fur nuthin' in de worl',
an' da didn' ax him no questions, nuther."

As the days passed the girl seemed to be more and more pleased with the
captain. One evening they sat on the bank of a stream, fishing. The sun
had sunk beyond a distant hill, but continued to pour over his light,
like a golden waterfall.

"Ansy," said the captain, "this is a beautiful and romantic country;
but do you not grow tired of living here all the time?"

"If we don't know any other life we do not grow tired of this one," she
replied.

"You are a little philosopher," the captain exclaimed.

"I don't know what that is, Captain, but if you want me to be one I
will try to be."

The captain smiled and regarded her with a look of affection.

"The great cities would delight you for a time, Ansy, and then you
could come back here with a heightened appreciation of the sublime
surroundings of your own home."

"The sun has blown out his candle," she said, pointing. "It is time for
us to go."



CHAPTER II.


The captain could not sleep. He had extinguished his lamp, but on the
wall there was a bright light. It grew brighter, and then he saw that
it was the face of Ansy. A rap came at the door.

"Who's there?"

"Captain, for God's sake run away. The Glicks are coming after you."

It was the voice of Ansy.

The captain dressed himself and opened the door. The girl was gone. The
moon was shining. The officer was not the man to run away. He closed
the door, took up a repeating rifle and opened a small window. He
waited. A few moments passed and he saw several men enter the clearing
in front of the cabin.

"What do you want here?" the captain shouted.

"We want you."

"What do you want with me?"

"Ask you some questions."

"You may ask questions, but don't come a step nearer."

"What did you come here for?"

"None of your business."

This reply created a commotion. The captain could hear the marauders
swearing. "We'll break down the door," one of them said as he stepped
forward. The next moment he had fallen to the ground. When the smoke
cleared away the captain saw that the rascals were gone, but there soon
came from the woods a shower of blazing arrows. It was time to get
away. The captain made a hole in the roof, crawled out, sprang to the
ground and hurried into the woods.

Early the next morning he went to Patterson's house. The family had
heard of the fight.

"You neenter be 'larmed now, dough, sah," said Alf, the negro, "caze da
foun' out dat you wuz er Newnited States ossifer, an' it skeered 'em
putty nigh ter def. You gin it ter one o' 'em putty hard, I ken tell
you. Shot him squar through, an' da doan think he gwine ter lib, da
doan, but dat ain't no matter, fur he wuz de wust one in de bunch. Ef
he dies, folks 'roun' yare will hol' er pra'r-meetin' thankin' de Lawd."

Patterson and his wife left the room, but the negro sat in the doorway.

"Ansy," said the captain, "I owe my life to you."

"Dat you does, sah," Alf replied.

The captain gave him a significant glance and again turned to the girl.

"Yes, you have saved my life, but that is not the cause of my
deep--deep (he glanced at the negro)--deep regard for you."

The girl made no reply. The captain could have killed the negro. "I
will ignore his black presence," the captain mused. He leaned over and
took the girl's hand.

"Ansy," said the negro, "w'en dis yare generman gits through wid yo'
han' I wants you ter sew er few buttons on dat ar hickory shirt o'
mine."

"You scoundrel," exclaimed the captain, springing to his feet, "how
dare you speak in such a manner to this young lady?"

"Why, boss," the negro replied, "what's de use'n makin' sich er great
'miration. Dat 'oman has been my wife fur putty nigh two years."

The captain's romance was ended.



OLD TILDY.


In nearly every neighborhood of the South, there comes, in the fall
of the year, a sort of religious wave. Men, who, during the summer
swore at their horses and stopped but little short of blasphemy, in
imprecatory remarks addressed to obdurate steers, turn reverently,
after fodder-pulling time, to Mt. Zion, Ebeneezer, New Hope and Round
Pond, to hear the enthusiastic pleadings of the circuit rider and the
begging injunctions of the strolling evangelist. Robert's Cove, in
East Tennessee, is a neighborhood typical of this peculiar religious
condition. Last autumn, when the katydid shivered on the damp oak leaf
and the raccoon cracked the shell of the pinching "crawfish," there
suddenly appeared at Ebeneezer meeting-house a young man of most
remarkable presence. He was handsome, tall, graceful, and with hair as
bright and waving as the locks of the vision that come to _Clarence_
in his awful dream. He said that his name was John Mayberry. He had
come to preach the gospel in a simple, child-like way, and hoped that
his hearers, for the good of their souls, would pay respectful heed to
his words. A materialist would have called him a fanatic, but as there
were no materialists in that neighborhood, he soon became known as a
devout Christian and a powerful worker in the harvest-field of faith.
He read hallowed books written by men who lived when the ungodly sword
and the godly pen were at war against each other, and in his fervor his
language bore a power which his rude hearers had never felt before.

One night, after a stormy time at the mourners' bench, and while women
whose spirits were distressed still stood sobbing about the altar,
Mayberry approached a well-known member of the church, and said:

"Who is that peculiar old woman, that wrinkled and strange-eyed dwarf
who sits so near the pulpit every night?"

"We call her old Tildy," Brother Hendricks replied. "She has been
a-livin' in this here neighborhood mighty nigh ever sense I kin
ricolleck. She's a mighty strange old woman, but I never hearn no harm
uv her."

"She may be a good woman," the preacher rejoined, "but she casts a
chill over me every time I look at her. Goodbye, Brother Hendricks.
Think of me to-night when you get down on your knees."

The preacher sought his temporary home. He lived about a mile from
the church, in an old log cabin with one room. Many of the people had
offered him a home, but, declining, he declared that he wanted to be
alone at night, so that, undisturbed, he could pursue his studies or
pray for inspiration.

The hour was late. The preacher had taken down "Fox's Book of Martyrs"
and was looking at its thrilling illustrations, when a knock at the
door startled him.

"Come in," he called.

Old Tildy stepped into the room, and, quickly closing the door,
stood with her back against it. She nodded her head and smiled--a
snaggle-tooth grin--and said:

"How air yer, Brother Mayberry?"

"I am very well, I thank you."

"Powerful glad ter know that folks air well."

"Thank you; but what business can you have with me at this time of
night?"

"Mighty 'portant bizness, Brother Mayberry, mighty 'portant."

"Does it concern your soul?"

"Not ez much ez it do yourn, Brother Mayberry; not nigh so much ez it
do yourn."

"I don't understand you!" the evangelist exclaimed.

"But I'll see that you do, Brother Mayberry. I reckon you've noticed me
at church, hai'nt you?"

"Yes."

"Well, whut you reckon I went thar fur?"

"To hear the gospel, I suppose."

"Not much, Brother Mayberry; not much. I went thar to see you."

"To see me! Why on earth, madam, do you care to see me?"

"Would ruther see you on earth, Brother Mayberry, than anywhar else. I
went to see you, Brother Mayberry, because I love you."

"Merciful heavens!" exclaimed the evangelist, throwing up his hands in
a gesture of horror.

"Yes, Brother Mayberry, I love you, and I want you to be my husband."

"Oh, God forbid!" the disgusted preacher groaned.

"Yes, Brother Mayberry, but the Lawd hain't forbid. Let me tell you one
thing: when old Tildy sets her head, w'y suthin' is goin' ter happen.
Does folks cross old Tildy? Yes, sometimes. Did old Patterson cross
Tildy? Yes, Patterson crossed po', old, harmless Tildy. Whut did Tildy
do? She grabbed Patterson's boy an' hil him under the water till he was
drounded. Did Martin cross old Tildy? Yes, Martin crossed old Tildy.
What did old Tildy do? She met old Martin in the woods an' killed him,
an' folks thought he killed hisse'f. Now, air you, in the bloom o' yo'
youth and beauty, goin' to cross po', old, harmless Tildy?"

The cold dew of horror gathered in beads on the preacher's brow.
"Madam," said he, "I cannot marry you. Your request is preposterous;
your presence is appalling. Go away."

"Not until I lead my husband with me, Brother Mayberry."

"Go, I tell you, or I will throw you out of the house."

"Throw po', old, harmless Tildy out of the house? Ha, ha! Brother
Mayberry!"

She took a horse-pistol from under her apron. "Buckshot in this,
Brother Mayberry; ha, buckshot."

The preacher sank down on a chair. He did not care to die. In life
there was such a bright promise of the good he could accomplish. He
could not marry the hag, but there she stood with her awful weapon.
Could he not rush upon her?

"No, you can't, Brother Mayberry," she said, lifting the pistol. She
was reading his thoughts. Could he not pretend that he would marry her,
and afterward make his escape?

"No, you can't, Brother Mayberry," she said. "The jestice uv the peace
is waitin' outside with the license. Oh, no, Brother Mayberry, I'll not
give you a chance ter run away. Wouldn't it be awful fur the people ter
come here ter-morrer an' find Brother Mayberry with a hole through his
beautiful head? Must I call the jestice uv the peace, ur shoot you?"

"Merciful heavens, what is to become of me? I cannot die this way."

"Yes you can, Brother Mayberry."

"Oh, I cannot marry this hag."

"Not this hag, but yo' own true love, Brother Mayberry. Come, whut do
you say?"

The preacher dropped upon his knees. The woman advanced a few steps.
The preacher heard some one at the door. Was it the justice of the
peace whom the woman had under her control? A man stepped into the room.

"What does this mean?" he asked

"This horrible creature is going to kill me if I don't marry her," the
preacher replied. "Are you the justice of the peace?"

The man laughed. "No, I'm no 'squire. Goin' ter kill you, eh? But what
with?"

"That awful horse-pistol."

"That's no pistol. It's simply a stick. W'y this is one of her favorite
games. Kill you! Why she never hurt a thing in her life."

"How about Patterson's boy?" the preacher asked.

"He's all right. I seed him this mawnin'."

"Yes, but she killed old Martin."

"Did she? I saw him not more than three hours ago. Come, Tildy, go on
away."

She put the crooked stick under her apron, and, without saying a word,
glided out into the darkness. The preacher lifted his hands and uttered
a fervent prayer.

 NOTE.--Riders of MONARCH BICYCLES say they are the
 very "Poetry of Motion" and a never-ending delight.


       *       *       *       *       *

THE SONG OF THE "No. 9."


  My dress is of fine polished oak,
  As rich as the finest fur cloak,
  And for handsome design
  You just should see mine--
                                  No. 9, No. 9.

  I'm beloved by the poor and the rich,
  For both I impartially stitch;
  In the cabin I shine,
  In the mansion I'm fine--
                                  No. 9, No. 9.

  I never get surly nor tired,
  With zeal I always am fired;
  To hard work I incline,
  For rest I ne'er pine--
                                  No. 9, No. 9.

  I am easily purchased by all,
  With installments that monthly do fall,
  And when I am thine,
  Then life is benign--
                                  No. 9, No. 9.

  To the Paris Exposition I went,
  Upon getting the Grand Prize intent;
  I left all behind,
  The Grand Prize was mine--
                                  No. 9, No. 9.

At the Universal Exposition of 1889, at Paris, France, the best sewing
machines of the world, including those of America, were in competition.
They were passed upon by a jury composed of the best foreign mechanical
experts, two of whom were the leading sewing machine manufacturers of
France. This jury, after exhaustive examination and tests, adjudged
that the Wheeler & Wilson machines were the best of all, and awarded
that company the highest prize offered--the GRAND PRIZE--giving other
companies only gold, silver, and bronze medals.

The French government, as a further recognition of superiority,
decorated Mr. Nathaniel Wheeler, president of the company, with the
Cross of the Legion of Honor--the most prized honor of France.

The No. 9, for family use, and the No. 12, for manufacturing uses, are
the best in the world to-day.

And now, when you want a sewing machine, if you do not get the best it
will be your own fault.

Ask your sewing machine dealer for the No. 9 Wheeler & Wilson machine.
If he doesn't keep them, write to us for descriptive catalogue and
terms. Agents wanted in all unoccupied territory.

  WHEELER & WILSON MFG. CO., CHICAGO, ILL.

       *       *       *       *       *

_SCOTCH ROLLED OATS_

ARE GOOD OATS

[Illustration]

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       *       *       *       *       *

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  DIRECTORS, CHAIRMEN,
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  And everyone in anyway connected
  with public life or corporate bodies

  IS

  Reed's Rules

  BY

  THE HON. THOMAS B. REED,

  Speaker of the
  House of Representatives.


  "I commend the book most highly."

  WILLIAM McKINLEY,
  _President of the United States_.

  "Reasonable, right, and rigid."

  J. STERLING MORTON,
  _Ex-Secretary of Agriculture_.

  CLOTH, 75 CENTS,
  LEATHER, $1.25.

  RAND, McNALLY & CO., Publishers,
  CHICAGO.

       *       *       *       *       *

BUILT LIKE A WATCH

Round the World

The STERLING

Wins its Way

STERLING CYCLE WORKS CHICAGO SEND FOR CATALOGUE

_AGENCIES IN ALL CHIEF CITIES._

       *       *       *       *       *

  Ride a
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       *       *       *       *       *

  _TAKE THE_

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  W. H. McDOEL,                CHAS. H. ROCKWELL,    FRANK J. REED,
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       *       *       *       *       *

CHEW

"Kis-Me"

Gum

[Illustration: IMPORTED KEY RING]

Send us 3 cents and 3 "Kis-Me" Gum wrappers, or 10 cents in stamps or
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by above cut. Throw your old ring away and get a fine one.

  KIS-ME GUM CO.,
  Louisville, Ky.

       *       *       *       *       *

READ

Sons and Fathers

BY HARRY STILLWELL EDWARDS.

The Story that won the _$10,000 Prize_ in The Chicago Record's
Competition.

Bound in English Linen with Gold Back and Side Stamps. Price $1.25.


  RAND, MCNALLY & CO., PUBLISHERS,

  CHICAGO AND NEW YORK.

  COPYRIGHT, 1881, BY OPIE P. READ.

       *       *       *       *       *

MARAH ELLIS RYAN'S WORKS.


A FLOWER OF FRANCE.

A STORY OF OLD LOUISIANA.

The story is well told.--_Herald, New York._

A real romance--just the kind of romance one delights in.--_Times,
Boston._

Full of stirring incident and picturesque description.--_Press,
Philadelphia._

The interest holds the reader until the closing page.--_Inter Ocean,
Chicago._

Told with great fascination and brightness. * * * The general
impression delightful. * * * Many thrilling scenes.--_Herald, Chicago._

A thrilling story of passion and action.--_Commercial, Memphis._


A PAGAN OF THE ALLEGHANIES.

A genuine art work.--_Chicago Tribune._

A remarkable book, original and dramatic in conception, and pure and
noble in tone.--_Boston Literary World._

REV. DAVID SWING said:--The books of Marah Ellis Ryan give great
pleasure to all the best class of readers. "A Pagan of the Alleghanies"
is one of her best works; but all she writes is high and pure. Her
words are all true to nature, and, with her, nature is a great theme.

ROBERT G. INGERSOLL says:--Your description of scenery and seasons--of
the capture of the mountains by spring--of tree and fern, of laurel,
cloud and mist, and the woods of the forest, are true, poetic, and
beautiful. To say the least, the pagan saw and appreciated many of the
difficulties and contradictions that grow out of and belong to creeds.
He saw how hard it is to harmonize what we see and know with the idea
that over all is infinite power and goodness * * * the divine spark
called Genius is in your brain.


SQUAW ÉLOUISE.

Vigorous, natural, entertaining.--_Boston Times._

A notable performance.--_Chicago Tribune._

A very strong story, indeed.--_Chicago Times._


TOLD IN THE HILLS.

A book that is more than clever. It is healthy, brave, and
inspiring.--_St. Louis Post-Dispatch._

The character of Stuart is one of the finest which has been drawn by an
American woman in many a day, and it is depicted with an appreciation
hardly to be expected even from a man.--_Boston Herald._


IN LOVE'S DOMAINS.

There are imagination and poetical expressions in the stories, and
readers will find them interesting.--_New York Sun._

The longest story. "Galeed," is a strong, nervous story, covering a
wide range, and dealing in a masterly way with some intricate questions
of what might be termed amatory psychology.--_San Francisco Chronicle._


MERZE; THE STORY OF AN ACTRESS.

We can not doubt that the author is one of the best living orators of
her sex. The book will possess a strong attraction for women.--_Chicago
Herald._

This is the story of the life of an actress, told in the graphic style
of Mrs. Ryan. It is very interesting.--_New Orleans Picayune._


FOR SALE BY ALL BOOKSELLERS.

RAND, McNALLY & CO., Publishers, Chicago and New York.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

The inconsistencies in this book are as in the original.

The advertisement pages were moved to the end of the book.





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