Part 3 out of 6
said. 'See how it agrees with him.'
Then he gathered up his things and mother went with him to the
Humour was one of the specifics of Doctor Bigsby. He was always
a poor man. He had a way of lumping his bills, at about so much,
in settlement and probably never kept books. A side of pork paid
for many a long journey. He came to his death riding over the hills
one bitter day not long after the time of which I write, to reach a
The haying over, we made ready for our trip into the woods. Uncle
Eb and Tip Taylor, who knew the forest, and myself, were to go
with Gerald to Blueberry Lake. We loaded our wagon with
provisions one evening and made ready to be off at the break of
I remember how hopefully we started that morning with Elizabeth
Brower and Hope waving their handkerchiefs on the porch and
David near them whittling. They had told us what to do and what
not to do over and over again. I sat with Gerald on blankets that
were spread over a thick mat of hay. The morning air was sweet
with the odour of new hay and the music of the bobolink. Uncle
Eb and Tip Taylor sang merrily as we rode over the hills.
When we entered the shade of the big forest Uncle Eb got out his
rifle and loaded it. He sat a long time whispering and looking
eagerly for game to right and left. He was still a boy. One could
see evidences of age only in his white hair and beard and wrinkled
brow. He retained the little tufts in front of his ears, and lately had
grown a silver crescent of thin and silky hair that circled his throat
under a bare clhn. Young as I was I had no keener relish for a
holiday than he. At noon we halted beside a brook and unhitched
our horses. Then we caught some fish, built a fire and cooked
them, and brewed our tea. At sunset we halted at Tuley Pond,
looking along its reedy margin, under purple tamaracks, for deer.
There was a great silence, here in the deep of the woods, and Tip
Taylor's axe, while he peeled the bark for our camp, seemed to fill
the wilderness with echoes. It was after dark when the shanty was
covered and we lay on its fragrant mow of balsam and hemlock.
The great logs that we had rolled in front of our shanty were set
afire and shortly supper was cooking.
Gerald had stood the journey well. Uncle Eb and he stayed in
while Tip and I got our jack ready and went off in quest of a
dugout He said Bill Ellsworth had one hid in a thicket on the south
side of Tuley. We found it after an hour's tramp near by. It needed
a little repairing but we soon made it water worthy, and then took
our seats, he in the stern, with the paddle, and I in the bow with the
gun. Slowly and silently we clove a way through the star-sown
shadows. It was like the hushed and mystic movement of a dream.
We seemed to be above the deep of heaven, the stars below us.
The shadow of the forest in the still water looked like the wall of
some mighty castle with towers and battlements and myriads of
windows lighted for a fete. Once the groan of a nighthawk fell out
of the upper air with a sound like that of a stone striking in water. I
thought little of the deer Tip was after. His only aim in life was the
one he got with a gun barrel. I had forgotten all but the beauty of
the scene. Suddenly Tip roused me by laying his hand to the
gunwale and gently shaking the dugout. In the dark distance, ahead
of us, I could hear the faint tinkle of dripping water. Then I knew a
deer was feeding not far away and that the water was falling from
his muzzle. When I opened my jack we were close upon him. His
eyes gleamed. I shot high above the deer that went splashing
ashore before I had pulled my trigger. After the roar of the gun had
got away, in the distant timber, Tip mentioned a place abhorred of
all men, turned and paddled for the landing.
'Could 'a killed 'im with a club,' said he snickering. 'Guess he must
a looked putty tall didn't he?'
'Why?' I asked.
'Cos ye aimed into the sky,' said hc. 'Mebbe ye thought he was a
'My hand trembled a little,' said I.
''Minds me of Bill Barber,' he said in a half-whisper, as he worked
his paddle, chuckling with amusement.
'How's that?' I asked.
'Nothin' safe but the thing he shoots at,' said he. 'Terrible bad shot.
Kills a cow every time he goes huntin'.'
Uncle Eb was stirring the fire when we came whispering into
camp, and Gerald lay asleep under the blankets.
'Willie couldn't hit the broadside of a bam,' said Tip. 'He don't take
to it nat'ral.'
'Killin' an' book learnin' don't often go together,' said Uncle Eb.
I turned in by the side of Gerald and Uncle Eb went off with Tip
for another trip in the dugout. The night was chilly but the fire
flooded our shanty with its warm glow. what with the light, and the
boughs under us, and the strangeness of the black forest we got
little sleep. I heard the gun roar late in the night, and when I woke
again Uncle Eb and Tip Taylor were standing over the fire in the
chilly grey of the morning. A dead deer hung on the limb of a tree
near by. They began dressing it while Gerald and I went to the
spring for water, peeled potatoes, and got the pots boiling. After a
hearty breakfast we packed up, and were soon on the road again,
reaching Blueberry Lake before noon. There we hired a boat of the
lonely keeper of the reservoir, found an abandoned camp with an
excellent bark shanty and made ourselves at home.
That evening in camp was one to be remembered. An Thomas, the
guide who tended the reservoir, came over and sat beside our fire
until bedtime. He had spent years in the wilderness going out for
nothing less important than an annual spree at circus time. He eyed
us over, each in turn, as if he thought us all very rare and
'Many bears here?' Uncle Eb enquired.
'More plenty 'n human bein's,' he answered, puffing lazily at his
pipe with a dead calm in his voice and manner that I have never
seen equalled except in a tropic sea.
'See 'em often?' I asked.
He emptied his pipe, striking it on his palin until the bowl rang,
without answering. Then he blew into the stem with great
'Three or four 'n a summer, mebbe,' he said at length.
'Ever git sassy?' Uncle Eb asked.
He whipped a coal out of the ashes then and lifted it in his fingers
to the bowl of his pipe.
'Never real sassy,' he said between vigourous puffs. 'One stole a
ham off my pyazz las' summer; Al Fifield brought 't in fer me one
day -smelt good too! I kep' savin' uv it thinlan' I'd enjoy it all the
more when I did hev it. One day I went off cuttin' timber an' stayed
'til mos' night. Comin' home I got t' thinkin' o' thet ham, an' made
up my mind I'd hev some fer supper. The more I thought uv it the
faster I hurried an' when I got hum I was hungrier'n I'd been fer a
year. when I see the ol' bear's tracks an' the empty peg where the
ham had hung I went t' work an, got mad. Then I started after thet
bear. Tracked 'im over yender, up Cat Mountin'.'
Here Ab paused. He had a way of stopping always at the most
interesting point to puff at his pipe. It looked as if he were getting
up steam for another sentence and these delays had the effect of
'continued in our next'.
'Kill 'im?' Uncle Eb asked.
'Licked him,' he said.
'Huh!' we remarked incredulously.
'Licked 'im,' he repeated chucking. 'Went into his cave with a
sledge stake an' whaled 'im - whaled 'im 'til he run fer his life.'
Whether it was true or not I have never been sure, even to this day,
but Ab's manner was at once modest and convincing.
'Should 'a thought he'd 'a rassled with ye,' Uncle Eb remarked.
'Didn't give 'im time,' said Ab, as he took out his knife and began
slowly to sharpen a stick.
'Don't never wan' t' rassle with no bear,' he added, 'but hams is too
scurce here 'n the woods t' hev 'em tuk away 'fore ye know the taste
uv 'em. I ain't never been hard on bears. Don't seldom ever set no
traps an' I ain't shot a bear fer mor'n 'n ten year. But they've got t' be
decent. If any bear steals my vittles he's goin' t' git cuffed bard.'
Ab's tongue had limbered up at last. His pipe was going well and
he seemed to have struck an easy grade. There was a tone of injury
and aggrievement in his talk of the bear's ingratitude. He snailed
over his whittling as we laughed heartily at the droll effect of it all.
'D'ye ever hear o' the wild man 'at roams 'round'n these woods?' he
'Never did,' said Uncle Eb.
'I've seen 'im more times 'n ye could shake a stick at,' said Ab
crossing his legs comfortably and spitting into the fire. 'Kind o'
thank he's the same man folks tells uv down 'n Paradise Valley
there - 'at goes 'round 'n the clearin' after bedtime.'
'The night man!' I exclaimed.
'Guess thet's what they call 'im,' said Ab. 'Curus man! Sometimes
I've hed a good squint at 'im off 'n the woods. He's wilder 'n a deer
an' I've seen 'im jump over logs, half as high as this shanty, jest as
easy as ye 'd hop a twig. Tried t' foller 'im once er twice but tain' no
use. He's quicker 'n a wil' cat.'
'What kind of a lookin' manis he?' Tip Taylor asked.
'Great, big, broad-shouldered feller,' said Ab. 'Six feet tall if he's an
inch. Hed a kind of a deerskin jacket on when I seen 'im an'
breeches an' moccasins made o' some kind o' hide. I recollec' one
day I was over on the ridge two mile er more from the Stillwater
goin' south. I seen 'im gittin' a drink at the spring there 'n the burnt
timber. An' if I ain't mistaken there was a real live panther playin'
'round 'im. If 't wa'n't a panther 'twas pesky nigh it I can'tell ye. The
critter see me fast an' drew up 'is back. Then the man got up
quickerin' a flash. Soon 'she see me -Jeemimey! didn't they move.
Never see no human critter run as he did! A big tree hed fell 'cross
a lot o' bush right 'n his path. I'll be gol dummed if 'twan't higher 'n
my head! But he cleared it - jest as easy as a grasshopper'd go over
a straw. I'd like t' know wher he comes from, gol dummed if I
wouldn't. He's the consamdest queerest animal 'n these woods.'
Ab emphasised this lucid view of the night man by an animated
movement of his fist that held the big hunting knife with which he
whittled. Then he emptied his pipe and began cutting more
'Some says 'e 's a ghost,' said Tip Taylor, splitting his sentence with
a yawn, as he lay on a buffalo robe in the shanty.
'Shucks an' shoestrings!' said An, 'he looks too nat'ral. Don't believe
no ghost ever wore whiskers an' long hair like his'n. Thet don't hol'
This remark was followed by dead silence. Tip seemed to lack
both courage and information with which to prolong the argument.
Gerald had long been asleep and we were all worn out with uphill
travelling and the lack of rest. Uncle Eb went out to look after the
horses that were tethered near us. Ab rose, looked up through the
tree-tops, ventured a guess about the weather, and strode off into
We were five days in camp, hunting, fishing, fighting files and
picking blueberries. Gerald's cough had not improved at all - it
was, if anything, a bit worse than it had been and the worry of that
had clouded our holiday. We were not in high spirits when, finally
we decided to break camp the next afternoon.
The morning of our fourth day at Blueberry Uncle Eb and I crossed
the lake, at daylight, to fish awhile in Soda Brook and gather
orchids then abundant and beautiful in that part of the woods. We
headed for camp at noon and were well away from shore when a
wild yell rang in the dead timber that choked the wide inlet behind
us. I was rowing and stopped the oars while we both looked back
at the naked trees, belly deep in the water.
But for the dry limbs, here and there, they would have looked like
masts of sunken ships. In a moment another wild whoop came
rushing over the water. Thinking it might be somebody in trouble
we worked about and pulled for the mouth of the inlet. Suddenly I
saw a boat coming in the dead timber. There were three men in it,
two of whom were paddling. They yelled like mad men as they
caught sight of us, and one of them waved a bottle in the air.
'They're Indians,' said Uncle Eb. 'Drunk as lords. Guess we'd better
git out o' the way.'
I put about and with a hearty pull made for the other side of the
lake, three miles away. The Indians came after us, their yells
echoing in the far forest. Suddenly one of them lifted his rifle, as if
taking aim at us, and, bang it went the ball ricocheting across our
'Crazy drunk,' said Uncle Eb, 'an' they're in fer trouble. Pull with all
I did that same putting my arms so stiffly to their task I feared the
oars would break
In a moment another ball came splintering the gunwales right
between us, but fortunately, wcll above the water line. Being half a
mile from shore I saw we were in great peril. Uncle Eb reached for
his rifle, his hand trembling.
'Sink 'em,' I shouted, 'an' do it quick or they'll sink us.'
My old companion took careful aim and his ball hit them right on
the starboard bow below the water line. A splash told where it had
landed. They stopped yelling. The man in the bow clapped his hat
against the side of the boat.
'Guess we've gin 'em a little business t' ten' to,' said Uncle Eb as he
made haste to load his rifle.
The Indian at the bow was lifting his rifle again. He seemed to reel
as he took aim. He was very slow about it. I kept pulling as I
watched him. I saw that their boat was slowly sInking. I had a
strange fear that he would hit me in the stomach. I dodged when I
saw the flash of his rifle. His ball struck the water, ten feet away
from us, and threw a spray into my face.
Uncle Eb had lifted his rifle to shoot again. Suddenly the Indian,
who had shot at us, went overboard. In a second they were all in
the water, their boat bottom up.
'Now take yer time,' said Uncle Eb coolly, a frown upon his face.
'They'll drown,' said I.
'Don't care if they do, consam 'em,' he answered. 'They're some o'
them St Regis devils, an' when they git whisky in 'em they'd jes'
soon kill ye as look at ye. They am' no better 'n rats.'
We kept on our way and by and by a wind came up that gave us
both some comfort, for we knew it would soon blow them ashore.
Ab Thomas had come to our camp and sat with Tip and Gerald
when we got there. We told of our adventure and then Ab gave us
a bad turn, and a proper appreciation of our luck, by telling us that
they were a gang of cut-throats - the worst in the wilderness.
'They'd a robbed ye sure,' he said. 'It's the same gang 'at killed a
man on Cat Mountain las' summer, an' I'll bet a dollar on it.'
Tip had everything ready for our journey home. Each day Gerald
had grown paler and thinner. As we wrapped him in a shawl and
tenderly helped him into the wagon I read his doom in his face.
We saw so much of that kind of thing in our stern climate we knew
what it meant. Our fun was over. We sat in silence, speeding down
the long hills in the fading light of the afternoon. Those few
solemn hours in which I heard oniy the wagon's rumble and the
sweet calls of the whip-poor-will-waves of music on a sea of
silence-started me in a way of thought which has led me high and
low these many years and still invites me. The day was near its end
when we got to the first big clearing. From the top of a high hill we
could see above the far forest, the red rim of the setting sun, big
with winding from the skein of day, that was now flying off the
tree-tops in the west.
We stopped to feed the horses and to take a bite of jerked venison,
wrapped ourselves warmer, for it was now dunk and chilly, and
went on again. The road went mostly downhill, going out of the
woods, and we could make good time. It was near midnight when
we drove in at our gate. There was a light in the sitting-room and
Uncle Eb and I went in with Gerald at once. Elizabeth Brower
knelt at the feet of her son, unbuttoned his coat and took off his
muffler. Then she put her arms about his neck while neither spoke
nor uttered any sound. Both mother and son felt and understood
and were silent. The ancient law of God, that rends asunder and
makes havoc of our plans, bore heavy on them in that moment, I
have no doubt, but neither murmured. Uncle Eb began to pump
vigorously at the cistern while David fussed with the fire. We were
all quaking inwardly but neither betrayed a sign of it. It is a way
the Puritan has of suffering. His emotions are like the deep
undercurrents of the sea.
If I were writing a novel merely I should try to fill it with
merriment and good cheer. I should thrust no sorrow upon the
reader save that he might feel for having wasted his time. We have
small need of manufactured sorrow when, truly, there is so much
of the real thing on every side of us. But this book is nothing more
nor less than a history, and by the same token it cannot be all as I
would have wished it. In October following the events of the last
chapter, Gerald died of consumption, having borne a lingering
illness with great fortitude. I, who had come there a homeless
orphan in a basket, and who, with the God-given eloquence of
childhood had brought them to take me to their hearts and the old
man that was with me as well, was now the only son left to
Elizabeth and David Brower. There were those who called it folly
at the time they took us in, I have heard, but he who shall read this
history to the end shall see how that kind of folly may profit one or
even many here in this hard world.
It was a gloomy summer for all of us. The industry and patience
with which Hope bore her trial, night and day, is the sweetest
recollection of my youth. It brought to her young face a tender
soberness of womanhood - a subtle change of expression that
made her all the more dear to me. Every day, rain or shine, the old
doctor had come to visit his patient, sometimes sitting an hour and
gazing thoughtfully in his face, occasionally asking a question, or
telling a quaint anecdote. And then came the end.
The sky was cold and grey in the late autumn and the leaves were
drifted deep in the edge of the woodlands when Hope and I went
away to school together at HilIsborough. Uncle Eb drove us to our
boarding place in town. when we bade him goodbye and saw him
driving away, alone in the wagon, we hardly dared look at each
other for the tears in our eyes.
David Brower had taken board for us at the house of one Solomon
Rollin - universally known as 'Cooky' Rollin; that was one of the
first things I learned at the Academy. It seemed that many years
ago he had taken his girl to a dance and offered her, in lieu of
supper, cookies that he had thoughtfully brought with him. Thus
cheaply he had come to life-long distinction.
'You know Rollin's Ancient History, don't you?' the young man
asked who sat with me at school that first day.
'Have it at home,' I answered, 'It's in five volumes.'
'I mean the history of Sol Rollin, the man you are boarding with,'
said he smiling at me and then he told the story of the cookies.
The principal of the HilIsborough Academy was a big, brawny
bachelor of Scotch descent, with a stem face and cold, grey,
glaring eyes. when he stood towering above us on his platform in
the main room of the building where I sat, there was an alertness in
his figure, and a look of responsibility in his face, that reminded
me of the pictures of Napoleon at Waterloo. He always carried a
stout ruler that had blistered a shank of every mischievous boy in
school. As he stood by the line, that came marching into prayers
every morning he would frequently pull out a boy, administer a
loud whack or two, shake him violently and force him into a seat.
The day I began my studies at the Academy I saw him put two
dents in the wall with the heels of a young man who had failed in
his algebra. To a bashful and sensitive youth, just out of a country
home, the sight of such violence was appalling. My first talk with
him, however, renewed my courage. He had heard I was a good
scholar and talked with me in a friendly way about my plans. Both
Hope and I were under him in algebra and Latin. I well remember
my first error in his class. I had misconstrued a Latin sentence. He
looked at me, a smile and a sneer crowding each other for
possession of his face. In a loud, jeering tone he cried: 'Mirabile
I looked at him in doubt of his meaning.
'Mirabile dictu!' he shouted, his tongue trilling the r.
I corrected my error.
'Perfect!' he cried again. 'Puer pulchre! Next!'
He never went further than that with me in the way of correction.
My size and my skill as a wrestler, that shortly ensured for me the
respect of the boys, helped me to win the esteem of the master. I
leamed my lessons and kept out of mischief. But others of equal
proficiency were not so fortunate. He was apt to be hard on a light
man who could be handled without over-exertion.
Uncle Eb came in to see me one day and sat awhile with me in my
seat. While he was there the master took a boy by the collar and
almost literally wiped the blackboard with him. There was a great
clatter of heels for a moment. Uncle Eb went away shortly and was
at Sol Rollin's when I came to dinner.
'Powerful man ain't he?' said Uncle Eb.
'Rather,' I said.
'Turned that boy into a reg'lar horse fiddle,' he remarked. 'Must 'ave
unsot his reason.'
'Unnecessary!' I said.
'Reminded me o' the time 'at Tip Taylor got his tooth pulled,' said
he. 'Shook 'im up so 'at he thought he'd had his neck put out o' ji'nt.'
Sol Rollin was one of my studies that winter. He was a carpenter
by trade and his oddities were new and delightful. He whistled as
he worked, he whistled as he read, he whistled right merrily as he
walked up and down the streets - a short, slight figure with a round
boyish face and a fringe of iron-grey hair under his chin. The little
man had one big passion - that for getting and saving. The ancient
thrift of his race had pinched him small and narrow as a foot is
stunted by a tight shoe. His mind was a bit out of register as we say
in the printing business. His vocabulary was rich and vivid and
'Somebody broke into the arsenic today,' he announced, one
evening, at the supper table.
'The arsenic,' said somebody, 'what arsenic?'
'Why the place where they keep the powder,' he answered.
'Oh! the arsenal.'
'Yes, the arsenal,' he said, cackling with laughter at his error. Then
he grew serious.
'Stole all the ambition out of it,' he added.
'You mean ammunition, don't you, Solomon?' his wife enquired.
'Certainly,' said he, 'wasn't that what I said.'
When he had said a thing that met his own approval Sol Rollin
would cackle most cheerfully and then crack a knuckle by twisting
a finger. His laugh was mostly out of register also. It had a sad lack
of relevancy. He laughed on principle rather than provocation.
Some sort of secret comedy of which the world knew nothing, was
passing in his mind; it seemed to have its exits and its entrances,
its villain, its clown and its miser who got all the applause.
While working his joy was unconfined. Many a time I have sat and
watched him in his little shop, its window dim with cobwebs.
Sometimes he would stop whistling and cackle heartily as he
worked his plane or drew his pencil to the square. I have even seen
him drop his tools and give his undivided attention to laughter. He
did not like to be interrupted - he loved his own company the best
while he was 'doin' business'. I went one day when he was singing
the two lines and their quaint chorus which was all he ever sang in
my hearing; which gave him great relief, I have no doubt, when lip
weary with whistling:
Sez I 'Dan'l Skinner, I thank yer mighty mean
To send me up the river, With a sev'n dollar team'
Lul-ly,ul- ly,diddie ul- ly, diddleul - lydee, Oh,
lul-ly, ul - ly, diddle ul - ly, diddle ul - ly dee.
'Mr Rollin!' I said.
Yes siree,' said he, pausing in the midst of his chorus to look up at
'Where can I get a piece of yellow pine?'
'See 'n a minute,' he said. Then he continued his sawing and his
song, ' "Says I Dan SItinner, I thank yer mighty mean"- what d'
ye want it fer?' he asked stopping abruptly.
'Going to make a ruler,' I answered.
'"T' sen' me up the river with a seven dollar team,',' he went on,
picking out a piece of smooth planed lumber, and handing it to me.
'How much is it worth?' I enquired.
He whistled a moment as he surveyed it carefully.
''Bout one cent,' he answered seriously.
I handed him the money and sat down awhile to watch him as he
went on with his work. It was the cheapest amusement I have yet
enjoyed. Indeed Sol Rollin became a dissipation, a subtle and
seductive habit that grew upon me and on one pretext or another I
went every Saturday to the shop if I had not gone home.
'What ye goin' t' be?'
He stopped his saw, and looked at me, waiting for my answer.
At last the tirne had come when I must declare myself and I did.
'A journalist,' I replied.
'What's that?' he enquired curiously.
'An editor,' I said.
'A printer man?'
'A printer man.'
'Huh!' said he. 'Mebbe I'll give ye a job. Sairey tol' me I'd orter t'
'ave some cards printed. I'll want good plain print: Solomon Rollin,
Cappenter 'n J'iner, lilillsborough, NY - soun's putty good don't it.'
'Beautiful,' I answered.
'I'll git a big lot on 'em,' he said. 'I'll want one for Sister Susan 'at's
out in Minnesoty - no, I guess I'll send 'er tew, so she can give one
away - an' one fer my brother, Eliphalet, an' one apiece fer my
three cousins over 'n Vermont, an' one fer my Aunt Mirandy. Le's
see-tew an' one is three an' three is six an' one is seven. Then I'll git
a few struck off fer the folks here - guess they'll thank I'm gittin' up
'n the world.'
He shook and snickered with anticipation of the glory of it. Pure
vanity inspired him in the matter and it had in it no vulgar
consideration of business policy. He whistled a lively tune as he
bent to his work again.
'Yer sister says ye're a splendid scholar!' said he. 'Hear'n 'er braggin'
'bout ye t'other night; she thinks a good deal o' her brother, I can
tell ye. Guess I know what she's gain' t' give ye Crissmus.'
'What's that?' I asked, with a curiosity more youthll than becoming.
'Don't ye never let on,' said he.
'Never,' said I.
'Hear'n 'em tell,' he said,' 'twas a gol' lockup, with 'er pictur' in it'
'Oh, a locket!' I exclaimed.
'That's it,' he replied, 'an' pure gol', too.'
I turned to go.
'Hope she'll grow up a savin' woman,' he remarked. ''Fraid she
won't never be very good t' worlt'
'Why not?' I enquired.
'Han's are too little an' white,' he answered.
'She won't have to,' I said.
He cackled uproariously for a moment, then grew serious.
'Her father's rich,' he said, 'the richest man o' Faraway, an I guess
she won't never hev anything t' dew but set'n sing an' play the
'She can do as she likes,' I said.
He stood a moment looking down as if meditating on the delights
he had pictured.
'Gol!' he exclaimed suddenly.
My subject had begun to study me, and I came away to escape
I ought to say that I have had and shall have to chronicle herein
much that would seem to indicate a mighty conceit of myself.
Unfortunately the little word 'I' throws a big shadow in this history.
It looms up all too frequendy in every page for the sign of a modest
man. But, indeed, I cannot help it, for he was the only observer of
all there is to tell. Now there is much, for example, in the very
marrow of my history - things that never would have happened,
things that never would have been said, but for my fame as a
scholar. My learning was of small account, for, it must be
remembered, I am writing of a time when any degree of
scholarship was counted remarkable among the simple folk of
Hope took singing lessons and sang in church every Sunday. David
or Uncle Eb came down for us often of a Saturday and brought us
back before service m the morning. One may find in that town
today many who will love to tell him of the voice and beauty and
sweetness of Hope Brower those days, and of what they expected
regarding her and me. We went out a good deal evenings to
concerts, lectures at the churches or the college, or to visit some of
the many people who invited us to their homes.
We had a recess of two weeks at the winter holidays and David
Brower came after us the day the term ended. O, the great
happiness of that day before Christmas when we came flying home
in the sleigh behind a new team of greys and felt the intoxication
of the frosty air, and drove in at dusk after the lamps were lit and
we could see mother and Uncle Eb and Grandma Bisnette looking
out of the window, and a steaming dinner on the table! I declare! it
is long since then, but I cannot ever think of that time without
wiping my glasses and taking a moment off Tip Taylor took the
horses and we all came in where the kettle was singing on the
stove and loving hands helped us out of our wraps. The supper was
a merry feast, the like of which one may ftnd only by returning to
his boyhood. Mack! that is a long journey for some of us.
Supper over and the dishes out of the way we gathered about the
stove with cider and butternuts.
'Well,' said Hope, 'I've got some news to tell you - this boy is the
best scholar of his age in this county.'
'Thet so?' said David.
Uncle Eb stopped his hmnmer that was lifted to crack a butternut
and pulled his chair close to Hope's. Elizabeth looked at her
daughter and then at me, a smile and a protest in her face.
'True as you live,' said Hope. 'The master told me so. He's first in
everything, and in the Town Hall the other night he spelt
'What! In HilIsborough?' Uncle Eb asked incredulously.
'Yes, in Hillsborough,' said Hope, 'and there were doctors and
lawyers and college students and I don't know who all in the
'Most reemarkable!' said David Brower.
'Treemenjious!' exclaimed Uncle Eb.
'I heard about it over at the mllls t'day,' said Tip Taylor.
'Merd Dieu!' exclaimed Grandma Bisnette, crossing herself.
Elizabeth Brower was unable to stem this tide of enthusiasm. I had
tried to stop it, but, instantly, it had gone beyond my control. If I
could be hurt by praise the mischief had been done.
'It's very nice, indeed,' said she soberly. 'I do hope it won't make
him conceited. He should remember that people do not always
mean what they say.'
'He's too sensible for that, mother,' said David.
'Shucks!' said Uncle Eb, 'he ain' no fool if he is a good speller - not
by a dum sight!'
'Tip,' said David, 'you'll find a box in the sleigh 'at come by
express. I wish ye'd go'n git it.'
We all stood looking while Tip brought it in and pried off the top
boards with a hatchet.
'Careful, now!' Uncle Eb cautioned him. 'Might spile sumthin'.'
The top off, Uncle Eb removed a layer of pasteboard. Then he
pulled out a lot of coloured tissue paper, and under that was a
package, wrapped and tied. Something was written on it. He held it
up and tried to read the writing.
'Can't see without my spectacles,' he said, handing it to me.
'For Hope,' I read, as I passed it to her.
'Hooray!' said Uncle Eb, as he lifted another, and the last package,
from the box.
'For Mrs Brower,' were the words I read upon that one.
The strings were cut, the wrappers torn away, and two big rolls of
shiny silk loosened their coils on the table. Hope uttered a cry of
delight. A murmur of surprise and admiration passed from one to
another. Elizabeth lifted a rustling fold and held it to the lamplight
We passed our hands over the smooth sheen of the silk.
'Wall, I swan!' said Uncle Eb. 'Jes' like a kitten's ear!'
'Eggzac'ly!' said David Brower.
Elizabeth lifted the silk and let it flow to her feet Then for a little
she looked down, draping it to her skirt and moving her foot to
make the silk rustle. For the moment she was young again.
'David,' she said, still looking at the glory of glossy black that
covered her plain dress.
'Well, mother,' he answered.
'Was you fool enough t' go'n buy this stuff fer me?'
'No, mother - it come from New York City,' he said.
'From New York City?' was the exclamation of all.
Elizabeth Brower looked thoughtfullyy at her husband.
'Clear from New York City?' she repeated.
'From New York City,' said he.
'Wall, of all things!' said Uncle Eb, looking over his spectacles
from one to another.
'It's from the Livingstone boy,' said Mrs Brower. 'I've heard he's the
son of a rich man.'
''Fraid he took a great fancy t' Hope,' said David.
'Father,' said the girl, you've no right to say that. I'm sure he never
cared a straw for me.'
'I don't think we ought to keep it,' said Mrs Brower, looking up
'Shucks and shavin's!' said Uncle Eb. 'Ye don't know but what I had
it sent myself.'
Hope went over and put her arms around his neck.
'Did you, Uncle Eb?' she asked. 'Now you tell me the truth, Unde
'Wouldn't say 't I did,' he answered, 'but I don' want 'a see ye go
sendin' uv it back. Ye dunno who sent it.'
'What'll I do with it?' Mrs Brower asked, laughing in a way that
showed a sense of absurdity. 'I'd a been tickled with it thirty years
ago, but now-folks 'ud think I was crazy.'
'Never heard such fol de rol,' said Uncle Eb. 'If ye move t' the
village it'll come handy t' go t' meetin'in.'
That seemed to be unanswerable and conclusive, at least for the
time being, and the silk was laid away. We sat talking until late
bedtime, Hope and I, telling of our studies and of the many people
we had met in HilIsborough.
We hung up our stockings just as we had always done Christmas
Eve, and were up betimes in the morning to find them filled with
many simple but delightful things, and one which I treasure to this
day - the locket and its picrure of which I had been surreptitiously
At two o'clock we had a fine dinner of roast turkey and chicken
pie, with plenty of good cider, and the mince pie, of blessed
memory, such as only a daughter of New England may dare try to
Uncle Eb went upstairs after dinner and presently we heard him
descending with a slow and heavy foot I opened the stair door and
there he stood with the old bass viol that had long lain neglected in
a dusty corner of the attic. Many a night I had heard it groan as the
strings loosened, in the years it had lain on its hack, helpless and
forgotten. It was like a dreamer, snoring in his sleep, and
murmuring of that he saw in his dreams. Uncle Eb had dusted and
strung it and glued its weaker joints. He sat down with it' the
severe look of old upon his face, and set the strings roaring as he
tuned them. Then he brought the sacred treasure to me and leaned
it against my shoulder.
'There that's a Crissmus present fer ye, Willie,' said he. 'It may help
ye t' pass away the time once in a while.'
I thanked him warmly.
''S a reel firs'-class instrument,' he said. 'Been a rip snorter 'n its
day.' He took from his bosom then the old heart pin of silver that
he had always worn of a Sunday.
'Goin' t' give ye thet, too,' he said. 'Dunno's ye'll ever care to wear
it, but I want ye should hev sumthin' ye can carry'n yer pocket t'
remember me by.'
I did not dare trust myself to speak, and I sat helplessly turning that
relic of a better day in my fingers.
'It's genuwine silver,' said he proudly.
I took his old hand in mine and raised it reverently to my lips.
'Hear'n 'em tell 'bout goin' t' the village, an' I says t' myself, "Uncle
Eb," says I, "we'll hev t' be goin'. 'Tain' no place fer you in the
'Holden,' said David Brower, 'don't ye never talk like that ag'in. Yer
just the same as married t' this family, an' ye can't ever git away
And he never did until his help was needed in other and fairer
fields, I am sure, than those of Faraway - God knows where.
Tip Taylor was, in the main, a serious-minded man. A cross eye
enhanced the natural solemnity of his countenance. He was little
given to talk or laughter unless he were on a hunt, and then he only
whispered his joy. He had seen a good bit of the world through the
peek sight of his rifle, and there was something always in the feel
of a gun that lifted him to higher moods. And yet one could reach a
tender spot in him without the aid of a gun. That winter vacation I
set myself to study things for declamation - specimens of the
eloquence of Daniel Webster and Henry Clay and James Otis and
Patrick Henry. I practiced them in the barn, often, in sight and
hearing of the assembled herd and some of those fiery passages
were rather too loud and threatening for the peace and comfort of
my audience. The oxen seemed always to be expecting the sting of
the bull whip; they stared at me timidly, tilting their ears every
moment, as if to empty them of a heavy load; while the horses
snorted with apprehension. This haranguing of the herd had been
going on a week or more when Uncle Eb and I, returning from a
distant part of the farm, heard a great uproar m the stable. Looking
in at a window we saw Tip Taylor, his back toward us,
extemporising a speech. He was pressing his argument with
gestures and the tone of thunder. We listened a moment, while a
worried look came over the face of Uncle Eb. Tip's words were
meaningless save for the secret aspiration they served to advertise.
My old companion thought Tip had gone crary, and immediately
swung the door and stepped in. The orator fell suddenly from his
lofry altitude and became a very sober looking hired man.
'What's the matter?' Uncle Eb enquired.
'Practicin',' said Tip soberly, as he turned slowly, his face damp
and red with exertion.
'Fer what?' Uncle Eb enquired.
'Fer the 'sylum, I guess,' he answered, with a faint smile.
'Ye don' need no more practice,' Uncle Eb answered. 'Looks t' me
as though ye was purty well prepared.'
To me there was a touch of pathos in this show of the deeper
things m Tip's nature that had been kindled to eruption by my
spouting. He would not come in to dinner that day, probably from
an unfounded fear that we would make fun of his flight - a thing
we should have been far from doing once we understood him.
It was a bitter day of one of the coldest winters we had ever
known. A shrieking wind came over the hills, driving a scud of
snow before it The stock in the stables, we all came in, soon after
dinner, and sat comfortably by the fire with cider, checkers and old
sledge. The dismal roar of the trees and the wind-wail in the
chinney served only to increase our pleasure. It was growing dusk
when mother, peering through the sheath of frost on a window
pane, uttered an exclamation of surprise.
'Why! who is this at the door?' said she. 'Why! It's a man in a
cutter.' Father was near the door and he swung it open quickly.
There stood a horse and cutter, a man sitting in it, heavily muffled.
The horse was shivering and the man sat motionless.
'Hello!' said David Brower in a loud voice.
He got no answer and ran bareheaded to the sleigh.
'Come, quick, Holden,' he called, 'it's Doctor Bigsby.'
We all ran out then, while David lifted the still figure in his arms.
'In here, quick!' said Elizabeth, opening the door to the parlour.
'Musn't take 'im near the stove.'
We carried him into the cold room and laid him down, and David
and I tore his wraps open while the others ran quickly after snow.
I rubbed it vigorously upon his iace and ears, the others meantime
applying it to his feet and arms, that had been quickly stripped.
The doctor stared at us curiously and tried to speak.
'Get ap, Dobbin!' he called presently, and ducked as if urging his
horse. 'Get ap, Dobbin! Man'll die 'fore ever we git there.'
We all worked upon him with might and main. The white went
slowly out of his face. We lifted him to a sitting posture. Mother
and Hope and Uncle Eb were rubbing his hands and feet.
'Where am I?' he enquired, his face now badly swollen.
'At David Brower's,' said I.
'Huh?' he asked, with that kindiy and familiar grunt of
'At David Brower's,' I repeated.
'Well, I'll have t' hurry,' said he, trying feebly to rise. 'Man's dyin'
over - ' he hesitated thoughtfully, 'on the Plains,' he added, looking
around at us.
Grandma Bisnette brought a lamp and held itso the light frll on his
face. He looked from one to another. He drew one of his hands
away and stared at it.
'Somebody froze?' he asked.
'Yes,' said I.
'Hm! Too bad. How'd it happen?' he asked. 'I don't know.'
'How's the pulse?' he enquired, feeling for my.wrist.
I let him hold it in his hand.
'Will you bring me some water in a glass?' he enquired, turning to
Mrs Brower, just as I had seen him do many a time in Gerald's
illness. Before she came with the water his head fell forward upon
his breast, while he muttered feebly. I thought then he was dead,
but presently he roused himself with a mighty effort.
'David Brower!' he called loudly, and trying hard to rise, 'bring the
horse! bring the horse! Mus' be goin', I tell ye. Man's dyin' over - on
He went limp as a rag then. I could feel his heart leap and struggle
'There's a man dyin' here,' said David Brower, in a low tone. 'Ye
needn't rub no more.
'He's dead,' Elizabeth whispered, holding his hand tenderly, and
looking into his half-closed eyes. Then for a moment she covered
her own with her handkerchief, while David, in a low, calm tone,
that showed the depth of his feeling, told us what to do.
Uncle Eb and I watched that night, while Tip Taylor drove away to
town. The body lay in the parlour and we sat by the stove in the
room adjoining. In a half-whisper we talked of the sad event of the
'Never oughter gone out a day like this,' said Uncle Eb. 'Don' take
much t' freeze an ol' man.'
'Got to thinking of what happened yesterday and forgot the cold,' I
'Bad day t' be absent-minded,' whispered Uncle Eb, as he rose and
tiptoed to the window and peered through the frosty panes. 'May o'
got faint er sumthin'. Ol' hoss brought 'im right here - been here s'
often with 'in'.'
He took the lantern and went out a moment. The door creaked
upon its frosty hinges when he opened it.
'Thirty below zero,' he whispered as he came in. 'Win's gone down
a leetle bit, mebbe.'
Uncanny noises broke in upon the stliness of the old house. Its
timbers, racked in the mighty grip of the cold, creaked and settled.
Sometimes there came a sbarp, breaking sound, like the crack of
'If any man oughter go t' Heaven, he had,' said Uncle Eb, as he
drew on his boots.
'Think he's in Heaven?' I asked.
'Hain't a doubt uv it,' said he, as he chewed a moment, preparing
'What kind of a place do you think it is?' I asked.
'Fer one thing,' he said, deliberately, 'nobody'll die there, 'less he'd
ought to; don't believe there's goin' t' be any need o' swearin' er
quarrellin'. To my way o' thinkin' it'll be a good deal like Dave
Brower's flirm - nice, smooth land and no stun on it, an, hills an'
valleys an' white clover aplenty, an' wheat an' corn higher'n a man's
head. No bull thistles, no hard winters, no narrer contracted fools;
no long faces, an' plenty o' work. Folks sayin' "How d'y do" 'stid o'
"goodbye", all the while - comin' 'stid o' gain'. There's goin' t' be
some kind o' ftln there. I ain' no idee what 'tis. Folks like it an' I
kind o' believe 'at when God's gin a thing t', everybody he
thinks purty middlin' well uv it.'
'Anyhow, it seems a hard thing to die,' I remarked.
'Seems so,' he said thoughtfully. 'Jes' like ever'thing else - them 'at
knows much about it don' have a great deal t' say. Looks t' me like
this: I cal'ate a man hes on the everidge ten things his heart is sot
on - what is the word I want -?'
'Treasures?' I suggested.
'Thet's it,' said he. 'Ev'ry one hes about ten treasures. Some hev
more - some less. Say one's his strength, one's his plan, the rest is
them he loves, an' the more he loves the better 'tis fer him. Wall,
they begin t' go one by one. Some die, some turn agin' him. Fin's it
hard t' keep his allowance. When he's only nine he's lost eggzac'ly
one-tenth uv his dread o' dyin'. Bime bye he counts up -
one-two-three-four-five-an' thet's all ther is left. He figgers it up
carefial. His strength is gone, his plan's a fillure, mebbe, an' this
one's dead an' thet one's dead, an' t'other one better be. Then 's
'bout half-ways with him. If he lives till the ten treasures is all
gone, God gives him one more - thet's death. An' he can swop thet
off an' git back all he's lost. Then he begins t' think it's a purty dum
good thing, after all. Purty good thing, after all,' he repeated,
gaping as he spoke.
He began nodding shortly, and soon he went asleep in his chair.
We went back to our work again shortly, the sweetness and the
bitterness of life fresh in our remembrance. When we came back,
'hook an' line', for another vacation, the fields were aglow with
colour, and the roads where Dr Bigsby had felt the sting of death
that winter day were now over drifted with meadow-music and the
smell of clover. I had creditably taken examination for college,
where I was to begin my course in the fall, with a scholarship.
Hope had made remarkable progress in music and was soon going
to Ogdensburg for instruction.
A year had gone, nearly, since Jed Feary had cautioned me about
falling in love. I had kept enough of my heart about me 'to do
business with', but I had continued to feel an uncomfortable
absence in the region of it. Young men at HilIsborough - many of
whom, I felt sure, had a smarter look than I - had bid stubbornly
for her favour. I wondered, often, it did not turn her head - this
tribute of rustic admiration. But she seemed to be all unconscious
of its cause and went about her work with small conceit of herself.
Many a time they had tried to take her from my arm at the church
door - a good-natured phase of youthful rivalry there in those days
- but she had always said, laughingly, 'No, thank you,' and clung all
the closer to me. Now Jed Feary had no knowledge of the worry it
gave me, or of the penl it suggested. I knew that, if I felt free to tell
him all, he would give me other counsel. I was now seventeen and
she a bit older, and had I not heard of many young men and
women who had been engaged - aye, even married - at that age?
Well, as it happened, a day before she left us, to go to her work in
Ogdensburg, where she was to live with her uncle, I made an end
of delay. I considered carefully what a man ought to say in the
circumstances, and I thought I had near an accurate notion. We
were in the garden - together - the playground of our childhood.
'Hope, I have a secret to tell you,' I said.
'A secret,' she exclaimed eagerly. 'I love secrets.'
'A great secret,' I repeated, as I felt my face burning.
'Why - it must be something awful!'
'Not very,' I stammered. Having missed my cue from the
beginning, I was now utterly confused.
'William!' she exclaimed, 'what is the matter of you.'
'I - I am in love,' said I, very awkwardiy.
'Is that all?' she answered, a trace of humour in her tone. 'I thought
it was bad news.'
I stooped to pick a rose and handed itto her.
'Well,' she remarked soberly, but smiling a little, as she lifted the
rose to her lips, 'is it anyone I know.'
I felt it was going badly with me, but caught a sudden inspiration.
'You have never seen her,' I said.
If she had suspected the truth I had turned the tables on her, and
now she was guessing. A quick change came into her face, and, for
a moment, it gave me confidence.
'Is she pretty?' she asked very seriously as she dropped the flower
and looked down crushing it beneath her foot.
'She is very beautifial - it is you I love, Hope.'
A flood of colour came into her cheeks then, as she stood a
moment looking down at the flower in silence.
'I shall keep your secret,' she said tenderly, and hesitating as she
spoke, 'and when you are through college - and you are older - and
I am older - and you love me as you do now - I hope - I shall love
you, too - as - I do now.'
Her lips were trembling as she gave me that sweet assurance -
dearer to me - far dearer than all else I remember of that golden
time - and tears were coursing down her cheeks. For myself I was
in a worse plight of emotion. I dare say she remembered also the
look of my face in that moment.
'Do not speak of it again,' she said, as we walked away together on
the shorn sod of the orchard meadow, now sown with apple
blossoms, 'until we are older, and, if you never speak again, I shall
know you - you do not love me any longer.'
The dinner horn sounded. We turned and walked slowly back
'Do I look all right?' she asked, turing her face to me and smiling
'All right,' I said. 'Nobody would know that anyone loved you -
except for your beauty and that one tear track on your cheek.'
She wiped it away as she laughed.
'Mother knows anyway,' she said, 'and she has given me good
advice. Wait!' she added, stopping and turning to me. 'Your eyes
I felt for my handkerchief.
'Take mine,' she said.
Elder Whitmarsh was at the house and they were all suring downto
dinner as we came in.
'Hello!' said Uncle Eb. 'Here's a good-lookin' couple. We've got a
chicken pie an' a Baptis' minister fer dinner an' both good. Take
yer pew nex' t' the minister,' he added as he held the chair for me.
Then we all bowed our heads and I felt a hearty amen for the
'O Lord, may all our doing and saying and eating and driniiing of
this day be done, as in Thy sight, for our eternal happiness - and
for Thy glory. Amen.'
Chapter 2 I
We have our secrets, but, guard them as we may, it is not long
before others have them also. We do much taling without words. I
once knew a man who did his drinking secretly and his reeling in
public, and thought he was fooling everybody. That shows how
much easier it is for one to fool himself than to fool another. What
is in a man's heart is on his face, and is shortly written all over
him. Therein is a mighty lesson.
Of all people I ever knew Elizabeth Brower had the surest eye for
looking into one's soul, and I, myself, have some gift of
penetration. I knew shortly that Mrs Brower - wise and prudent
woman that she was - had suspected my love for Hope and her
love for me, and had told her what she ought to say if I spoke of it
The maturity of judgement in Hope's answer must have been the
result of much thought and counsel, it seemed to me.
'If you do not speak again I shall know you do not love me any
longer,' she had said. They were brave words that stood for
something very deep in the character of those people - a
self-repression that was sublime, often, in their women. As I said
them to myself, those lonely summer days in Faraway, I saw in
their sweet significance no hint of the bitterness they were to
bring. But God knows I have had my share of pleasure and no
more bitterness than I deserved.
It was a lonely summer for me. I had letters from Hope - ten of
them - which I still keep and read, often with something of the old
pleasure - girlish letters that told of her work and friends, and gave
me some sweet counsel and much assurance between the lines.
I travelled in new roads that vacation time. Politics and religion, as
well as love, began to interest me. Slavery was looming into the
proportion of a great issue, and the stories of cruelty and outrage
on the plantations of the South stirred my young blood and made it
ready for the letting of battle, in God's time. The speeches in the
Senate were read aloud in our sitting-room after supper - the day
the Tnbune came - and all lent a tongue to their discussion.
Jed Feary was with us one evening, I remember, when our talk
turned into long ways, the end of which I have never found to this
day. Elizabeth had been reading of a slave, who, according to the
paper, had been whipped to death.
'If God knows 'at such things are bein' done, why don't he stop
'em?' David asked.
'Can't very well,' said Jed Feary.
'Can, if he's omnipotent,' said David.
'That's a bad word - a dangerous one,' said the old poet, dropping
his dialect as he spoke. 'It makes God responsible for evil as well
as good. The word carries us beyond our depth. It's too big for our
boots. I'd ruther think He can do what's doable an' know what's
knowable. In the beginning he gave laws to the world an' these
laws are unchangeable, or they are not wise an' perfect. If God
were to change them He would thereby acknowledge their
imperfection. By this law men and races suffer as they struggle
upward. But if the law is unchangeable, can it be changed for a
better cause even than the relief of a whipped slave? In good time.
the law shall punish and relieve. The groans of them that suffer
shall hasten it, but there shall be no change in the law. There can
be no change in the law.'
'Leetle hard t' tell jest how powerfiil God is,' said Uncle Eb. 'Good
deal like tryin' t' weigh Lake Champlain with a quart pail and a
pair o' steelyards.'
'If God's laws are unchangeable, what is the use of praying?' I
'He can give us the strength to bear, the will to obey him an' light
to guide us,' said the poet. 'I've written out a few lines t' read t' Bill
here 'fore he goes off t' college. They have suanthin' t' say on this
subject. The poem hints at things he'd ought 'o learn purty soon - if
he don't know 'em now.'
The old poet felt in his pockets as he spoke, and withdrew a folded
sheet of straw-coloured wrapping paper and opened it. I was 'Bill'
-plain 'Bill' - to everybody in that country, where, as you increased
your love of a man, you diminished his name. I had been called
Willie, William and Billy, and finally, when I threw the strong
man of the township in a wrestling match they gave me this fail
token of confidence. I bent over the shoulder of Jed Feary for a
view of the manuscript, closely written witha lead pencil, and
marked with many erasures.
'Le's hear it,' said David Brower.
Then I moved the lamp to his elbow and he began reading:
'A talk with William Brower on the occasion of his going
away to colkge and writ oat in rhyme for him by his friend
Jedediah Feary to be a token of respect.
The man that loses faith in God, ye'll find out every time,
Has found a faith in his own self that's mighty nigh sublime.
He knows as much as all the saints an' calls religion flighty,
An' in his narrow world assumes the place o' God Almighty.
But don't expect too much o' God, it wouldn't be quite fair
If fer everything ye wanted ye could only swap a prayer;
I'd pray fer yours an' you fer mine an' Deacon Henry Hospur
He wouldn't hev a thing t' do but lay a-bed an' prosper.
If all things come so easy, Bill, they'd hev but little worth,
An' someone with a gift O' prayer 'ud mebbe own the earth.
It's the toil ye give t' git a thing - the sweat an' blood an, trouble
We reckon by - an' every tear'll make its value double.
There's a money O' the soul, my boy, ye'll find in after years,
Its pennies are the sweat drops an' its dollars are the tears;
An' love is the redeemin' gold that measures what they're worth,
An' ye'll git as much in Heaven as ye've given out on earth.
Fer the record o' yer doin' - I believe the soul is planned
With an automatic register t, tell jest how ye stand,
An' it won't take any cipherin' t' show that fearful day,
If ye've multiplied yer talents well, er thrown 'em all away.
When yer feet are on the summit, an' the wide horizon clears,
An' ye look back on yer pathway windin' thro' the vale o' tears;
When ye see how much ye've trespassed an' how fur ye've gone
Ye'll know the way o' Providence ain't apt t' be your way.
God knows as much as can be known, but I don't think it's true
He knows of all the dangers in the path o' me an' you.
If I shet my eyes an' hurl a stone that kills the King o' Siam,
The chances are that God'll be as much surprised as I am.
If ye pray with faith believin', why, ye'll certnly receive,
But that God does what's impossible is more than I'll believe.
If it grieves Him when a sparrow falls, it's sure as anything,
He'd hev turned the arrow if He could, that broke the sparrow's
Ye can read old Nature's history thet's writ in rocks an' stones,
Ye can see her throbbin' vitals an' her mighty rack o' hones.
But the soul o' her - the livin' God, a little child may know
No lens er rule o' cipherin' can ever hope t' show.
There's a part o' Cod's creation very handy t' yer view,
Al' the truth o' life is in it an' remember, Bill, it's you.
An' after all yer science ye must look up in yer mind,
An' leam its own astronomy the star o' peace t' find.
There's good old Aunt Samanthy Jane thet all her journey long
Has led her heart to labour with a reveille of song.
Her folks hev robbed an' left her but her faith in goodness grows,
She hasn't any larnin', but I tell ye Bill, she knows!
She's hed her share o' troubles; I remember well the day
We took her t' the poorhouse - she was singin' all the way;
Ye needn't be afraid t' come where stormy Jordan flows,
If all the larnin' ye can git has taught ye halfshe knows.'
I give this crude example of rustic philosophy, not because it has
my endorsement - God knows I have ever felt it far beyond me -
but because it is useful to those who may care to know the man
who wrote it. I give it the poor fame of these pages with keen
regret that my friend is now long passed the praise or blame of this
The horse played a part of no small importance in that country. He
was the coin of the realin, a medium of exchange, a standard of
value, an exponent of moral character. The man that travelled
without a horse was on his way to the poorhouse. Uncle Eb or
David Brower could tell a good horse by the sound of his
footsteps, and they brought into St Lawrence County the haughty
Morgans from Vermont. There was more pride in their high heads
than in any of the good people. A Northern Yankee who was not
carried away with a fine horse had excellent self-control. Politics
and the steed were the only things that ever woke him to
enthusiasm, and there a man was known as he traded. Uncle Eb
used to say that one ought always to underestimate his horse 'a
leetle fer the sake of a reputation'.
We needed another horse to help with the haying, and Bob Dean, a
tricky trader, who had heard of it, drove in after supper one
evening, and offered a rangy brown animal at a low figure. We
looked him over, tried him up and down the road, and then David,
with some shrewd suspicion, as I divined later, said I could do as I
pleased. I bought the horse and led him proudly to the stable. Next
morning an Irishman, the extra man for the haying, came in with a
worried look to breakfast.
'That new horse has a chittern' kind of a coff,' he said.
'A cough?' said I.
''Tain't jist a coff, nayther,' he said, 'but a kind of toom!'
With the last word he obligingly imitated the sound of the cough.
It threw me into perspiration.
'Sounds bad,' said Uncle Eb, as he looked at me and snickered.
''Fraid Bill ain't much of a jockey,' said David, smaling.
'Got a grand appetite - that hoss has,' said Tip Taylor.
After breakfast Uncle Eb and I hitched him to the light buggy and
touched him up for a short journey down the road. In five minutes
he had begun to heave and whistle. I felt sure one could have heard
him half a mile away. Uncle Eb stopped him and began to laugh.
'A whistler,' said he, 'sure's yer born. He ain't wuth a bag o' beans.
But don't ye never let on. When ye git licked ye musn't never fin'
fault. If anybody asks ye 'bout him tell 'em he's all ye expected.'
We stood waiting a moment for the horse to recover himself. A
team was nearing us.
'There's Bob Dean,' Uncle Eb whispered. 'The durn scalawag!
Don't ye say a word now.
'Good-mornin'!' said Dean, smiling as he pulled up beside us.
'Nice pleasant mornin'!' said Uncle Eb, as he cast a glance into the
'What ye standin' here for?' Dean asked.
Uncle Eb expectorated thoughtfullyy.
'Jest a 1ookin' at the scenery,' said he. 'Purty country, right here!
AIwus liked it.'
'Nice lookin' hoss ye got there,' said Dean.
'Grand hoss!' said Uncle Eb, surveymg him proudly. 'Most
'Good stepper, too,' said Dean soberly.
'Splendid!' said Uncle Eb. 'Can go a mile without ketchin' his
'Thet so?' said Dean.
'Good deal like Lucy Purvis,' Unde Eb added. 'She can say the hull
mul'plication table an' only breathe once. Ye can learn sumthin'
from a hoss like thet. He's good as a deestric' school - thet hoss is.'
Yes, sir, thet hoss is all right,' said Dean, as he drove away.
'Righter'n I expected,' Uncle Eb shouted, and then he covered his
mouth, shaking with suppressed laughter.
'Skunk!' he said, as we turned the animal and started to walk him
home. 'Don't min' bein' beat, but I don't like t' hev a man rub it in
on me. I'll git even with him mebbe.'
And he did. It came about in this way. We turned our new
purchase into the pasture, and Uncle Eb and I drove away to
Potsdam for a better nag. We examined all the horses in that part
of the country. At last we chanced upon one that looked like the
whistler, save that he had a white stocking on one hind foot
'Same age, too,' said Uncle Eb, as he looked into his mouth.
'Can pass anything on the road,' said his owner.
'Can he?' said Uncle Eb, who had no taste for slow going. 'Hitch
him up an' le's see what he can do.'
He carried us faster than we had ever ridden before at a trot, and
coming up behind another team the man pulled out, let the reins
loose on his back, and whistled. If anyone had hit him with a log
chain the horse could not have moved quicker. He took us by the
other team like a flash, on the dead run and three in the buggy.
'He'll do all right,' said Uncle Eb, and paid for the horse.
It was long after dark when we started home, leading him behind,
and near midnight when we arrived.
In the morning I found Uncle Eb in the stable showing him to the
other help. To my surprise the white stocking had disappeared.
'Didn't jes' like that white stockin',' he said, as I came in.
'Wondered how he'd look without it.'
They all agreed this horse and the whistler were as much alike as
two peas m appearance. Breakfast over Uncle Eb asked the
Irishman to hitch him up.
'Come Bill,' said he, 'le's take a ride. Dean'll be comm' 'long bym
bye on his way t' town with that trotter o' his'n. 'Druther like to
I had only a faint idea of his purpose. He let the horse step along at
top speed going up the road and when we turned about he was
breathing heavily. We jogged him back down the road a mile or so,
and when I saw the blazed face of Dean's mare, in the distance, we
pulled up and shortly stopped him. Dean came along in a moment.
'Nice mornin'!' said he.
'Grand!' said Uncle Eb.
'Lookin' at the lan'scape ag'in?'
'Yes; I've jes' begun t' see what a putty country this is,' said Uncle
'How's the boss?'
'Splendid! Gives ye time t' think an' see what yer passin'. Like t' set
'n think once in a while. We don't do enough thinkin' here in this
part o' the country.'
'Yd orter buy this mare an leam how t' ride fast,' said Dean.
'Thet one,' said Uncle Eb, sqIii:fltig at the mare, 'why she can't go
'She can't, hey?' said Dean, bridling with injured pride. 'I don't
think there's anything in this town can head her.'
'Thunder!' said Uncle Eb, 'I can go by her with this ol' plug easy
'twxt here an' our gate. Ye didn't know what ye was sellin'.'
'If ye pass her once I'll give her to ye,' said he.
'Mean it?' said Uncle Eb.
'Sartin,' said he, a little redder in the face.
'An' if I don't I'll give ye the whistler,' said Uncle Eb as he turned
The mare went away, under the whip, before we had fairly started.
She was going a fifty shot but in a moment we were lapping upon
her hind wheel. Dean threw a startled glance over his shoulder.
Then he shouted to the mare. She quickened her pace a little but
we kept our position. Uncle Eb was leaning over the dasher his
white locks flying. He had something up his sleeve, as they say,
and was not yet ready to use it. Then Dean began to shear over to
cut us off- a nasty trick of the low horseman. I saw Uncle Eb
giance at the ditch ahead. I knew what was coining and took a firm
hold of the seat. The ditch was a bit rough, but Uncle Eb had no
lack of courage. He turned the horse's head, let up on the reins and
whistled. I have never felt such a thrill as then. Our horse leaped
into the deep grass running like a wild deer.
'Hi there! hi there!' Uncle Eb shouted, bouncing in his seat, as we
went over stones and hummocks going like the wind.
'Go, ye brown devil!' he yelled, his hat flying off as he shook the
The mare lost her stride; we flashed by and came up into the road.
Looking back I saw her jumping up and down a long way behind
us and Dean whipping her. Uncle Eb, his hands over the dasher,
had pulled down to a trot Ahead of us we could see our folks - men
and women - at the gate looking down the road at us waving hats
and handkerchieis. They had heard the noise of the battle. Uncle
Eb let up on the reins and looked back snorting with amusement.
In a moment we pulled up at our gate. Dean came along slowly.
'Thet's a putty good mare,' said Uncle Eb.
'Yer welcome to her,' said Dean sullenly.
'Wouldn't hev her,' said Uncle Eb.
'Why not?' said the trader a look of relief coming over his face.
'Can't go fast enough for my use,' Uncle Eb answered. 'Ye can jest
hitch her in here awhile an' the first day ye come over with a
hundred dollars ye can hev her 'n the whistler, both on 'em. Thet
whistler's a grand hoss! Can hold his breath longer'n any hoss I
The sum named was that we had paid him for the highiy
accomplished animal. Dean had the manhood to pay up then and
there and said he would send for the other horse, which he never
'Guess he won't bother us any more when we stop t' look at the
scenery,' said Uncle Eb, laughing as Dean drove away. 'Kind o'
resky business buyin' hosses,' he added. 'Got t' jedge the owner as
well as the hoss. If there's anything the matter with his conscience
it'll come out in the hoss somewhere every time. Never knew a
mean man t' own a good hoss. Remember, boy, 's a lame soul thet
drives a limpin' hoss.'
'No use talkin'; Bill ain' no jedge uv a hoss' said David Brower.
'He'll hev t' hev an education er he'll git t' the poorhouse someday
'Wall he's a good jedge o' gals anyway,' said Uncle Eb.
As for myself I was now hopelessly confirmed in my dislike of
farming and I never traded horses again.
Late in August Uncle Eb and I took our Black Hawk stallion to the
fair in HilIsborough and showed him for a prize. He was fit for the
eye of a king when we had finished grooming him, that morning,
and led him out, rearing in play, his eyes flashing from under his
broad plume, so that all might have a last look at him. His arched
neck and slim barrel glowed like satin as the sunlight fell upon
him. His black mane flew, he shook the ground with his hoofs
playing at the halter's end. He hated a harness and once in it lost
half his conceit. But he was vainest of all things in Faraway when
we drove off with him that morning.
All roads led to HilIsborough fair time. Up and down the long hills
we went on a stiff jog passing lumber wagons with generations
enough in them to make a respectable genealogy, the old people in
chairs; light wagons that carried young men and their sweethearts,
baclswoodsmen coming out in ancient vehicles upon reeling,
creaking wheels to get food for a year's reflection - all thickening
the haze of the late summer with the dust of the roads. And
Hillsborough itself was black with people. The shouts of excited
men, the neighing of horses, the bellowing of cattle, the wailing of
infants, the howling of vendors, the pressing crowd, had begun to
sow the seed of misery in the minds of those accustomed only to
the peaceflil quietude of the farm. The staring eye, the palpitating
heart, the aching head, were successive stages in the doom of
many. The fair had its floral hall carpeted with sawdust and
redolent of cedar, its dairy house, its mechanics' hall sacred to
fiuming implements, its long sheds ftill of sheep and cattle, its
dining-hall, its temporary booths of rough lumber, its half-mile
track and grandstand. Here voices of beast and vendor mingied in a
chorus of cupidity and distress. In Floral Hall Sol Rollin was on
exhibition. He gave me a cold nod, his lips set for a tune as yet
inaudible. He was surveying sundry examples of rustic art that
hung on the circular railing of the gallery and tryingto preserve a
calm breast. He was looking at Susan Baker's painted cow that
hung near us.
'Very descriptive,' he said when I pressed him for his notion of it.
'Rod Baker's sister Susan made thet cow. Gits tew dollars an' fifty
cents every fair time - wish I was dewin 's well.'
'That's one of the most profitable cows in this country,' I said.
'Looks a good deal like a new breed.'
'Yes,' he answered soberly, then he set his lips, threw a sweeping
glance into the gallery, and passed on.
Susan Baker's cow was one of the permanent features of the
county fair, and was indeed a curiosity not less remarkable than
the sacred ox of Mr Bamum.
Here also I met a group of the pretty girls who had been my
schoolmates. They surrounded me, chattering like magpies.
'There's going to be a dance at our house tonight,' said one of them,
'and you must come.'
'I cannot, I must go home,' I said.
'Of course!' said a red-cheeked saucy miss. 'The stuck-up thing! He
wouldn't go anywhere unless he could have his sister with him.'
Then they went away laughing.
I found Ab Thomas at the rifle range. He was whittling as he
considered a challenge from Tip Taylor to shoot a match. He
turned and 'hefted' the rifle, silently, and then he squinted over the
barrel two or three times.
'Dunno but what I'll try ye once,' he said presently, 'jes t' see.'
Once started they grew red in their faces and shot themselves
weary in a reckless contest of skiIl and endurance. A great hulking
fellow, half drunk and a bit quarrelsome, came up, presently, and
endeavoured to help Ab hold his rifle. The latter brushed him away
and said nothing for a moment. But every time he tried to take aim
the man jostled him.
An looked up slowly and calmly, his eyebrows tilted for his aim,
and said, 'Go off I tell ye.' Then he set himself and took aim again.
'Le'me hold it,' said the man, reaching for the barrel. 'Shoot better
if I do the ainin'.' A laugh greeted this remark. Ab looked up
again. There was a quick start in his great slouching figure.
'Take yer hand off o' thet,' he said a little louder than before.
The man, aching for more applause, grew more impertinent Ab
quietly handed the rifle to its owner. Then something happened
suddenly. It was so quickly over I am not quite sure of the order of
business, but anyhow he seized the intruder by the shoulders
flinging him down so heavily it knocked the dust out of the grass.
'A fight!' somebody shouted and men and boys came runing from
all sides. We were locked in a pushing crowd before I could turn.
The intruder lay stunned a moment. Then he rose, bare headed, his
back covered with dust, pushed his way out and ran.
Ab turned quietly to the range.
'Hedn't orter t' come an' try t' dew my aimin',' he said mildly, by
way of protest, 'I won't hev it.'
Then he enquired about the score and calmly took aim again. The
stallion show came on that afternoon.
'They can't never beat thet hoss,' Uncle Eb had said to me.
''Fraid they will,' I answered. 'They're better hitched for one thing.'
'But they hain't got the ginger in 'em,' said he, 'er the git up 'n git. If
we can show what's in him the Hawk'll beat 'em easy.'
If we won I was to get the prize but I had small hope of winning.
When I saw one after another prance out, in sparkling silver
harness adorned with rosettes of ribbon - light stepping, beautiful
creatures all of them - I could see nothing but defeat for us. Indeed
I could see we had been too confident. I dreaded the moment when
Uncle Eb should drive down with Black Hawk in a plain leather
harness, drawing a plainer buggy. I had planned to spend the prize
money taking Hope to the harvest ball at Rickard's, and I had
worked hard to put the Hawk in good fettle. I began to feel the
bitterness of failure.
'Black Hawk! Where is Black Hawk?' said one of the judges
'Owned by David Brower o' Faraway,' said another looking at his
Where indeed was Uncle Eb? I got up on the fence and looked all
about me anxiously. Then I heard a great cheering up the track.
Somebody was coming down, at a rapid pace, riding a splendid
moving animal, a knee rising to the nose at each powerful stride.
His head and flying mane obscured the rider but I could see the
end of a rope swinging in his hand. There was something familiar
in the easy high stride of the horse. The cheers came on ahead of
him like foam before a breaker. Upon my eyes! it was Black
Hawk, with nothing but a plain rope halter on his head, and Uncle
Eb riding him.
'G'lang there!' he shouted, swinging the halter stale to the shining
flank. 'G'lang there!' and he went by, like a flash, the tail of Black
Hawk straight out behind him, its end feathering in the wind. It
was a splendid thing to see - that white-haired man, sitting erect on
the flying animal, with only a rope halter in his hand. Every man
about me was yelling. I swung my hat, shouting myself hoarse.
When Uncle Eb came back the Hawk was walking quietly in a
crowd of men and boys eager to feel his silken sides. I crowded
through and held the horse's nose while Uncle Eb got down.
'Thought I wouldn't put no luther on him,' said Uncle Eb, 'God's
gin' 'im a good 'nuff harness.'
The judges came and looked him over.
'Guess he'll win the prize all right,' said one of them.
And he did. When we came home that evening every horse on the
road thought himself a trotter and went speeding to try his pace
with everything that came up beside him. And many a man of
Faraway, that we passed, sent up a shout of praise for the Black
But I was thinking of Hope and the dance at Rickard's. I had plenty
of money now and my next letter urged her to come home at once.
Hope returned for a few days late in August. Invitations were just
issued for the harvest dance at Rickard's.
'You mus' take 'er,' said Uncle Eb, the day she came. 'She's a purty
dancer as a man ever see. Prance right up an' tell 'er she mus' go.
Don' want 'O let anyone git ahead O' ye.'
'Of course I will go,' she said in answer to my invitation, 'I
shouldn't think you were a beau worth having if you did not ask
The yellow moon was peering over Woody Ledge when we went
away that evening. I knew it was our last pleasure seeking in
Faraway, and the crickets in the stubble filled the silence with a
kind of mourning.
She looked so fine in her big hat and new gown with its many
dainty accessories of lace and ribbon, adjusted with so much
patting and pulling, that as she sat beside me, I hardly dared touch
her for fear of spoiling something. When she shivered a little and
said it was growing cool I put my arm about her, and, as I drew her
closer to my side, she turned her hat, obligingly, and said it was a
I tried to kiss her then, but she put her hand over my mouth and
said, sweetly, that I would spoil everything if I did that
'I must not let you kiss me, William,' she said, 'not - not for all in
the world. I'm sure you wouldn't have me do what I think is wrong
There was but one answer to such an appeal, and I made myself as
happy as possible feeling her head upon my shoulder and her soft
hair touching my cheek. As I think of it now the trust she put in me
was something sublime and holy.
'Then I shall talk about - about our love,' I said, 'I must do
'Promised I wouldn't let you,' she said. Then she added after a
moment of silence, 'I'll tell you what you may do - tell me what is
your ideal in a woman - the one you would love best of all. I don't
think that would be wicked - do you?'
'I think God would forgive that,' I said. 'She must be tall and slim,
with dainty feet and hands, and a pair of big eyes, blue as a violet,
shaded with long dark lashes. And her hair must be wavy and light
with a little tinge of gold in it. And her cheek must have the pink
of the rose and dimples that show in laughter. And her voice - that
must have music in it and the ring of kindness and good-natare.
And her lips - let them show the crimson of her blood and be ready
to give and receive a kiss when I meet her.'
She sighed and nestled closer to me.
'If I let you kiss me just once,' she whispered, 'you will not ask me
again - will you?'
'No, sweetheart, I will not,' I answered. Then we gave each other
such a kiss as may be known once and only once in a lifetime.
'What would you do for the love of a girl like that?' she whispered.
I thought a moment, sounding depths of undiscovered woe to see if
there were anything I should hesitate to suffer and there was
'I'd lay me doun an' dee,' I said.
And I well remember how, when I lay dying, as I believed, in rain
and darkness on the bloody field of Bull Run, I thought of that
moment and of those words.
'I cannot say such beautiful things as you,' she answered, when I
asked her to describe her ideal. 'He must be good and he must be
tall and handsome and strong and brave.'
Then she sang a tender love ballad. I have often shared the
pleasure of thousands under the spell of her voice, but I have never
heard her sing as to that small audience on Faraway turnpike.
As we came near Rickard's Hall we could hear the fiddles and the
The windows on the long sides of the big house were open. Long
shafts of light shot out upon the gloom. It had always reminded me
of a picture of Noah's ark that hung in my bedroom and now it
seemed to be floating, with resting oars of gold, in a deluge of
darkness. We were greeted with a noisy welcome, at the door.
Many of the boys and girls came, from all sides of the big hall, and
shook hands with us. Enos Brown, whose long forelocks had been
oiled for the occasion and combed down so they touched his right
eyebrow, was panting in a jig that jarred the house. His trouser legs
were caught on the tops of his fine boots. He nodded to me as I
came in, snapped his fingers and doubled his energy. It was an
exhibition both of power and endurance. He was damp and
apologetic when, at length, he stopped with a mighty bang of his
foot and sat down beside me. He said he was badly out of practice
when I offered congratulations. The first fiddler was a small man,
with a short leg, and a character that was minus one dimension. It
had length and breadth but no thickness. He sat with his fellow
player on a little platform at one end of the room. He was an odd
man who wandered all over the township with his fiddle. He
played by ear, and I have seen babies smile and old men dance
when his bow was swaying. I remember that when I heard it for the
first time, I determined that I should be a fiddler if I ever grew to
be a man. But David told me that fiddlers were a worthless lot, and
that no wise man should ever fool with a fiddle. One is lucky, I
have since leamed, if any dream of yesterday shall stand the better
light of today or the more searching rays of tomorrow.
'Choose yer partners fer Money Musk!' the caller shouted.
Hope and I got into line, the music started, the circles began to
sway. Darwin Powers, an old but frisky man, stood up beside the
fiddlers, whistling, with sobriety and vigour, as they played. It was
a pleasure to see some of the older men of the neighbourhood join
the dizzy riot by skipping playfully in the corners. They tried to
rally their unwilling wives, and generally a number of them were
dancing before the night was over. The life and colour of the
scene, the fresh, young faces of the girls some of them models of
rustic beauty - the playful antics of the young men, the
merrymaking of their fathers, the laughter, the airs of gallantry, the
glances of affection - there is a magic in the thought of it all that
makes me young again.
There were teams before and behind us when we came home, late
at night, so sleepy that the stars went reeling as we looked at them.
'This night is the end of many things,' I remarked.
'And the beginning of better ones, I hope,' was her answer.
'Yes, but they are so far away,' I said, 'you leave home to study and
I am to be four years in college-possibly I can finish in three.'
'Perfectly terrible!' she said, and then she added the favourite
phrase and tone of her mother: 'We must be patient.'
'I am very sorry of one thing,' I said. 'What's that?'
'I promised not to ask you for one more kiss.'
'Well then,' said she, 'you - you - needn't ask me.' And in a moment
I helped her out at the door.
David Brower had prospered, as I have said before, and now he
was chiefly concerned in the welfare of his children. So, that he
might give us the advantages of the town, he decided either to
lease or sell his farm- by far the handsomest property in the
township. I was there when a buyer came, in the last days of that
summer. We took him over the smooth acres from Lone Pine to
Woody Ledge, from the top of Bowman's Hill to Tinkie Brook in
the far valley. He went with us through every tidy room of the
house. He looked over the stock and the stables.
'Wall! what's it wuth?' he said, at last, as we stood looking down
the fair green acres sloping to the sugar bush.
David picked up a stick, opened his knife, and began to whittle
thoughtfully, a familiar squint of reflection in his face. I suppose
he thought of all it had cost him - the toil of many years, the
strength of his young manhood, the youth and beauty of his wife, a
hundred things that were far better than money.
'Fifteen thousan' dollars,' he said slowly - 'not a cent less.' The man
parleyed a little over the price.
'Don' care t' take any less t'day,' said David calmly. 'No harm done.'
'How much down?'
David named the sum.
'Everything as it stan's?'
'Everything as it stan's 'cept the beds an' bedding.'
'Here's some money on account,' he said. 'We'll close t'morrer?'
'Close t'morrer,' said David, a little sadness in his tone, as he took
It was growing dusk as the man went away. The crickets sang with
a loud, accusing, clamour. Slowly we turned and went into the
dark house, David whistling under his breath. Elizabeth was
resting in her chair. She was humming an old hymn as she rocked.
'Sold the farm, mother,' said David.
She stopped singing but made no answer. In the dusk, as we sat
down, I saw her face leaning upon her hand. Over the hills and out
of the fields around us came many voices - the low chant in the
stubble, the baying of a hound in the far timber, the cry of the tree
toad - a tiny drift of odd things (like that one sees at sea) on the
deep eternal silence of the heavens. There was no sound in the
room save the low creaking of the rocker in which Elizabeth sat.
After all the going, and corning, and doing, and saying of many
years here was a little spell of silence and beyond lay the untried
things of the future. For me it was a time of reckoning.
'Been hard at work here all these years, mother,' said David.
'Oughter be glad t' git away.'
'Yes,' said she sadly, 'it's been hard work. Years ago I thought I
never could stan' it. But now I've got kind o' used t' it.'
'Time ye got used t' pleasure 'n comfort,' he said. 'Come kind o'
hard, at fast, but ye mus' try t' stan' it. If we're goin' t' hev sech flin
in Heaven as Deacon Hospur tells on we oughter begin t' practice
er we'll be 'shamed uv ourselves.'
The worst was over. Elizabeth began to laugh.
At length a strain of song came out of the distance.
'Maxwelton's braes are bonnie where early falls the dew.'
'It's Hope and Uncle Eb,' said David while I went for the lantern.
'Wonder what's kep' 'em s' late.'
When the lamps were lit the old house seemed suddenly to have
got a sense of what had been done. The familiar creak of the
stairway as I went to bed had an appeal and a protest. The rude
chromo of the voluptuous lady, with red lips and the name of
Spring, that had always hung in my chamber had a mournful,
accusing look. The stain upon her cheek that had come one day
from a little leak in the roof looked now like the path of a tear
drop. And when the wind came up in the night and I heard the
creaking of Lone Pine it spoke of the doom of that house and
itsown that was not far distant.
We rented a new home in town, that week, and were soon settled
in it. Hope went away to resume her studies the same day I began
work in college.
Not much in my life at college is essential to this history - save the
training. The students came mostly from other and remote parts of
the north country - some even from other states. Coming largely
from towns and cities they were shorn of those simple and rugged
traits, that distinguished the men o' Faraway, and made them
worthy of what poor fame this book may afford. In the main they
were like other students the world over, I take it' and mostly, as
they have shown, capable of wiling their own fame. It all seemed
very high and mighty and grand to me especially the names of the
courses. I had my baptism of Sophomoric scorn and many a heated
argument over my title to life, liberty and the pursuit of learning. It
became necessary to establish it by force of arms, which I did
decisively and with as little delay as possible. I took much interest