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Southern Branch 
of the 

University of California 

Los Angeles 



Form L I 



3S37 



This book is DUE on the last date stamped below 



EB ~ ^ 1925 
MAR 1 - 1925 

APR 3 1925 



MAR 261926 



Form L-9-15m-8,'24 



A 
COUNTRY CHRONICLE 



A 
COUNTRY CHRONICLE 



BY 



ILLUSTRATED BY 

GEORGE WRIGHT 



W^ 3$ 

&*&*<*. ^.v-SsS 

r^w 




NEW YORK 

THE CENTURY CO. 

1917 

n F" *"? -1 n 

f U 



Copyright, 1916, by 
THE CKNTURY Co. 



Published October, 1916 



PS 

3 537 
S55.3 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

I WE GET READY TO CALL ON UNCLE ANTHONY, 

BUT MY BROTHER GOES TO CHURCH . . 3 

II WE INVITE UNCLE ANTHONY AND AUNT 

PHCEBE TO A DANCE 8 

III MY BROTHER AND EDIE GO HOME TO DIN 

NER DURING NOON RECESS, BUT I PLAY 
WITH THE BOYS 14 

IV WE GO AFTER FROZEN APPLES 20 

V MR. WHITE AND GRANDPA TYLER TALK POLI 
TICS AT THE STORE 26 

VI MY FATHER TALKS WITH OLD NEIGHBORS, 

AND ASKS THEM TO THE DANCE ... 32 

VII EVERYBODY COMES, AND JOHNNIE FORMS 

ON 39 

VIII MY MOTHER AND FATHER TAKE PART IN THE 

OLD DANCES 46 

IX I WATCH THE DANCING, BUT CAN'T KEEP 

AWAKE TILL S-UPPER 53 

X JACK WASHINGTON AND COLONEL STANIS- 

LAWSKI GIVE TEMPERANCE LECTURES . . 59 

XI JACK SINGS TEMPERANCE SONGS, AND 

PITCHES INTO THE SALOONS 65 

XII I DIG A PATH, AND GET A RIDE TO SCHOOL 

WITH WALT 71 

XIII WE HAVE FUN IN THE SNOW BEFORE SCHOOL 

CALLS 76 

XIV WE MAKE TWO SNOW FORTS AT NOON, AND 

HAVE A BATTLE 81 

XV EDIE IS PUNISHED AT SCHOOL, RIGHT IN 

FRONT OF MY BROTHER 86 



XVI 



CONTENTS 

i 

MY FATHER AND UNCLE ANTHONY SHOVEL 
OUT THE ROAD. AND WE SEE A SNOW- 



PLOUGH 93 

XVII THERE IS A BIG SNOW STORM, AND THE 

"YOUTH'S COMPANION" DOESN'T COME . 99 

XVIII IT IS COLD AT SCHOOL, AND TEACHER LETS 

US DO AS WE PLEASE 104 

XIX MY FATHER BEGINS TO TAP TREES IN THE 

SUGAR-BUSH 109 

XX TIP AND BILL AND GEORGIE GO WITH ME TO 

THE ARCH 114 

XXI I HELP MY FATHER GATHER SAP AND BOIL 

DOWN 119 

XXII MY FATHER AND MOTHER SUGAR OFF, AND 

MAKE SYRUP 124 

XXIII AFTER THE SYRUP, WE MAKE CAKES OF SUGAR 129 

XXIV MY BROTHER LETS THE BOYS AND ME GO TO 

THE ARCH WITH HIM 134 

XXV WE BAKE POTATOES AND BOIL EGGS AT THE 

ARCH 139 

XXVI I SPEND AN EVENING AT THE ARCH WITH MY 

FATHER 145 

XXVII WE BOIL DOWN, AND TAKE THE SYRUP HOME 151 

XXVIII I HUNT FOR MAYFLOWERS, AND SEE MY 

BROTHER AND EDIE 157 

XXIX I HELP MY MOTHER CLEAN UP THE FRONT 

YARD 164 

XXX MY FATHER SOWS WHEAT. AND WE ATTEND 

TO THE BERRY PATCHES 170 

XXXI WE PICK UP STONE, AND I GO WITH MY 

BROTHER AFTER REDHORSE 174 

XXXII MY BROTHER AND EDIE ARE MISSING . . .180 

XXXIII I GO FISHING WITH TIP AND BILL AND 

GEORGIE 187 

XXXIV WE HAVE A SWIM, CATCH FISH, AND LOSE 

OUR LINES ON THE WIRES 193 

vi 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 



XXXV I FIND THE FIRST STRAWBERRY, AND MY 

FATHER MAKES BOXES 199 

XXXVI IT IS A HOT DAY AT SCHOOL, AND CHARLEY 

AND DAN HAVE A QUARREL 206 

XXXVII GERTIE AND TIP HAVE TROUBLE WITH DAN 

IN COUNTING OUT AND PEG 212 

XXXVIII WE HAVE THUNDER AXD LIGHTNING, RAIX, 

HAIL, AND A FINE RAINBOW 218 

XXXIX I MANAGE THE STRAWBERRY PICKING WHILE 

MY FATHER GETS IN HAY 226 

XL MY FATHER AND I TAKE THE BERRIES TO THE 

VILLAGE 233 

XLI I BREAK THE OLD HEN'S LEG, AND WE PICK 

RASPBERRIES 241 

XLII MY MOTHER HEARS FROM DORA THAT MY 

BROTHER AND EDIE ARE THERE . . . .246 

XLIII EDIE'S MOTHER COMES DOWN JUST AFTER 

THE LETTER HAS BEEN READ 252 

XLIV MY FATHER AXD UNCLE ANTHONY CULTIVATE 

CORN, AND STOP TO TALK 257 

XLV GRANDPA TYLER JOKES MY FATHER ABOUT 

HIS CLOTHES 263 

XLVI OLD JERRY DODGE IS DRUNK AGAIN, AXD 

CAP SWANN GETS A LETTER 268 

XLVII MR. WHITE TALKS POLITICS, AXD MR. PURDY 

IS DISGUSTED 274 

XLVIII MY FATHER AND I GET READY TO MAKE A 

SUNDAY VISIT 280 

XLIX WE DRIVE TO AUNT CATY'S AND UNCLE DAN- 
EL'S 284 

L MY FATHER TELLS ME ABOUT THE PLANK 

ROAD AND EARLY TIMES 288 

LI WE FIND COUSIN DELIA FEEDING THE CHICK 
ENS AXD TURKEYS 292 

LII COUSIN SYLVANUS AND ALL THE REST ARE 

GLAD TO SEE US 297 

vii 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

LIII WE HAVE BROWN EGGS, HOT BISCUITS, AND 

PEAR PRESERVES FOR DINNER .... 304 

LIV WE FEED THE HORSES, AND GET A BASKET OF 

SWEET-APPLES 310 

LV THE HALES AND ALVARUS COME, AND AL- 

VARUS TELLS ABOUT THE DOGS . . . .315 

LVI MY FATHER AND I START HOME, AND DELIA 

FEEDS THE CHICKENS AGAIN 321 

LVII WE KILL SOME ROOSTERS, AND GO TO MEET 

MY BROTHER AND EDIE 328 

LVIII MY BROTHER AND EDIE HAVE THANKSGIVING 

DINNER WITH US 333 

LIX AUNT PHCEBE AND UNCLE ANTHONY COME 

OVER AFTER SUPPER 338 

LX SYD AND STEVE AND THE GIRLS CALL ON MY 

BROTHER AND EDIE 344 



vm 



A 
COUNTRY CHRONICLE 



CHARACTERS 

I, THE CHRONICLER: a boy ten years old 

MY FATHER: an early settler, from New York 

MY MOTHER: an early settler, from New Hampshire 

MY BROTHER: a big boy at school 

UNCLE ANTHONY and AUNT PHOEBE: early settlers 

EPHRAM WHITE: storekeeper and postmaster 

GRANDPA TYLER, MR. PCHDY, MR. WILLIAMS: early settlers 

MRS. TYLER, MRS. PUHDY, MRS. WILLIAMS 

CAP SWANN, JERRY DODGE, PETER WALKER: old residents 

JOHNNIE: day operator 

LON and LEDLEY: fiddlers 

JACK WASHINGTON- and COLONEL STANISLAWSKI: temperance 

lecturers 

GOTTLIEB, ERNEST, ANNIE, PAULINE: Germans 
MRS. JAMES, ME. ROLFE: at the Village 
SYD, STEVE, WALT, LITTLE JOE, CHARLEY, JIM: big boys. 
FRANK, LIJE, DAN, JACK, BILL: smaller boys 
TIP and GEORGIE: little boys 
AUGUST and HEINY: little Polacks 
EDIE, JENNIE, FRANKIE, MYHA, ADDIE: big girls 
GERTIE, MINNIE: little girls 
TEACHER 

AUNT CATY and UNCLE DANIEL: early settlers 
SYT.VANUS, ALVARUS, SARAH, DELIA, JULIETTE, MELINDA: their 

sons and daughters 
HALE: Melinda's husband 
WINNIE and FLOY: their children 



A 
COUNTRY CHRONICLE 




MY father is leaning back in the old rocking- 
chair, reading Dombey and Son. He has the 
stand pulled out from under the looking-glass, with 
the lamp on it. His legs are stretched out so far 
that they go part way around the stove. 

The stove is black and shiny. My mother is al 
ways polishing it. It is round at both ends, and has 
a draft in front. My father's feet are on the bottom 
of the stove where the rim sticks out all around. 
Once when the stove got red-hot, his pants caught 
fire. He did n't find it out until we all noticed the 
smell. 

I am sitting with my feet on the stove by the draft, 
reading some of last week's Youth's Companion 
again. I wish my father would get through with 
Dombey and Son, so I could read it right along. 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

I always have to stop in the middle of something 
interesting when he comes in. 

I can hear my mother in the kitchen, washing the 
bowls and spoons in the sink. We have just had 
supper. We always have bread and milk Sunday 
nights. We have it right after they bring in the 
milking, when the milk is fresh and warm. 

I hear my brother come in from the barn and shut 
the woodshed door and sweep off his feet. He has 
been out to finish up the chores. He comes into the 
kitchen with the lantern and goes over to the cellar 
door, and gives the lantern a quick jerk to put it out. 
He hangs it up in the cellar way. I can see him from 
where I sit. 

My mother and my brother come in where we are. 
My mother sits down beside me, with her feet on the 
bottom of the stove near mine. She sits with her 
elbow in her hand, and the other hand on her cheek. 
She looks down at the draft. The fire is burning 
hard, and makes a noise. My brother stands lean 
ing in the door, with his hands in his pockets. 
. All at once my father puts the book down on his 
lap and sits up. He takes his spectacles off and holds 
them in both hands, looking at us. His elbows are on 
the arms of the chair. We all look at him to see what 
he is going to say. 

My father says : " I '11 tell you. S'posin' we all 
go over to Uncle Anthony's a while, and tell them 
about the dance." 

4- 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 




My mother says : " All right ! I think it would 
be a real nice way to spend part of the evening." 

My brother does n't say any 
thing. My mother looks at him. 
She says : " I don't s'pose you 
want to go with us do you?" 
She laughs a little bit. I know she 
is making fun of him about Edie. 

My brother takes his hands out 
of his pockets, and picks up his 
hat off the chair by the wall. He 
smiles a little, and then looks at 
the floor. He says : " No, I 
kind o' thought I 'd go to 
church." I know he is getting red. 

My mother laughs again. My father gets up and 
sets the stand back under the looking-glass. He 
says : " Yes, he 's gettin' awful pious all of a sud 
den. Never misses Sunday night or prayer meetin'. 
I declare, it 's just wonderful the way that boy 's got 
religion ! " 

We all laugh except my brother. He keeps look 
ing at the floor. He sits down, and makes believe 
he does n't care, but I know he does. 

My mother says to me : " Come on, Bug, let 's get 
ready and go." 

My father takes his old grey felt hat off the top 
of the secretary and puts it on. It is almost the 
color of his hair and whiskers. My mother gets her 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

black and red checked shawl out of the bedroom closet 
and throws it over her head. My father opens the 
front door. 

My mother says to my brother : " Well, don't 
stand at the gate too long after church. You know 
her ma don't like it very well." She says : *' And 
don't forget, when you go, to leave the key on the 
thermometer for us." 

We go down the path. There are big chunks of 
snow on both sides. My brother shoveled the path 
this morning, and I helped. He says I am big enough 
to shovel it all now, but my mother says it is too hard 
for such a little boy. 

Uncle Anthony's is almost straight across the road. 
We all say " Uncle Anthony " and " Aunt Phoebe " so 
much that I almost forget that they are n't really 
my uncle and aunt at all. My father and Uncle 
Anthony have shared tools ever since they settled 
here. 

We go around into the woodshed and knock at the 
kitchen door. We can hear Aunt Phoebe coming 
right away. 

Aunt Phoebe opens the door. She says : " Why, 
good evenin', good evenin' ! Come right in, won't 
ye? We're real glad to see ye, all of ye. Come 
in!" 

Uncle Anthony is sitting at the table by the stove, 
reading the newspaper. We can smell the kerosene 
lamp. 

6 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Uncle Anthony puts the paper down, and looks up 
to see who it is. He looks over the top of his spec 
tacles. He says : " Oh, it 's you, is it, Hi ? Glad 
to see ye! Set down, set down, won't ye? An' take 
off your things." 

My father says : " Oh, we ain't goin' to stay long. 
We kind o' thought we 'd come over and let you know 
we was goin' to have a dance next Saturday night, and 
invite you." 



II 



We Invite Uncle Anthony and Aunt Phoebe 
to a Dance 




U 



on his upper lip. 



NCLE ANTHONY has 

grey hair and whiskers, 
and a big wart on his cheek. 
His whiskers are different from 
my father's. They don't be 
gin until where his cheeks and 
his chin come to an end. My 
father's are everywhere except 
He shaves that every Sunday. 
Uncle Anthony is ever so slow when he talks. My 
mother says he drawls. When he talks about his 
marsh he always calls it his " ma'sh." My mother 
laughs every time she thinks of it. 

Aunt Phoebe speaks short. The corners of her 
eyes and mouth are pointed. She is n't quite so 
round and plump as my mother, and she is a little bit 
older. My mother's hair is black, and her eyes are 
grey blue. 

Uncle Anthony has his old clay pipe in his mouth, 
but there is n't any smoke coming out. I know my 
father is glad of that, because he does n't like tobacco 

8 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

smoke. My mother says the way he talks about it 
sounds just dreadful, and he must be careful and not 
talk that way when smokers are around. 

Uncle Anthony knows my father does n't like to 
bacco smoke. He takes his pipe out of his mouth, 
and holds it up toward my father. He laughs, and 
says : " You need n't to be afraid, Hi. 'T ain't 
loaded. It went out half an hour ago, and I been too 
shif'less to fill it up agin." 

My father laughs. Uncle Anthony puts the pipe 
back in his mouth. Part of the time he forgets, and 
sucks through it, and part of the time he breathes 
through his nose. It is so loud we all can hear it. 

Uncle Anthony says : " So you 're goin' to give 
another dance, are ye? Well, now, I think that'll 
be fine ! It was a good idee, your buildin' your house 
so 's they was that big room to dance in. We 've had 
a lot o' good times in that room." 

Uncle Anthony sucks through his pipe some more. 
He keeps looking at the stove. He says : " Of 
course Phoebe and me don't dance much, but then the 
boys '11 be over and I s'pose ye '11 have a euchre 
deck or two for us older folks. 'T ain't the way it 
was years ago, when we used to be dancin' somewheres 
or other every week." 

My father says : " No, it ain't. Sometimes I 
think I '11 never have another. But it 's a nice way 
for us all to keep acquainted, and I calculate to keep 
on havin' at least one a year." 

9 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Uncle Anthony's house smells different from ours. 
It always makes me think of tobacco, but it smells of 
apples and cooked things, too. My mother says she 
supposes our house smells as different to them as 
theirs does to us. 

They have a big map on their wall. Right near it 
is the old musket Lennie had in the war. It has a 
sword bayonet. My brother and Syd borrowed it 
once, the time they had the dialogue about Norval 
and Glenalvon. They have a big clock like ours, only 
it has a picture in the door, instead of a looking- 
glass. 

Uncle Anthony leans over and opens the stove door. 
He pokes the fire, and then puts a chunk in. It 
begins to snap, and we can hear the blaze. Before 
long there is a little red spot on the side of the stove. 
It gets bigger, and Uncle Anthony shuts the draft. 
There is a little crackling sound in the stove and the 
pipe. 

My father and Uncle Anthony talk about York 
State, and early times, and raisings, and crops. 
Aunt Phoebe and my mother knit. They talk about 
calico, and preserves, and dances, and what the 
neighbors say and do. 

Aunt Phoebe says : " Ain't your boy gettin' kind 
o' thick with the widow's girl up there? Seems to 
me I see 'em go by together a good deal, and Milt 
says they 're awful thick at school." 

My mother laughs. She says : " Yes, I don't 
10 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 




know but they do act as if they 

thought quite a little of each 

other." 

Aunt Phoebe says : " Well, don't 

you think it 's pretty young for 

'em to be goin' together so much? 

Of course he 's eighteen, and mebbe 

it 's all right for him, but then she 

can't be more 'n fourteen, can she? Milt says she 

ain't. I declare, it 's such a little while since they 

moved out from Town that / don't know 'em well 

enough to know how old she is." 

My mother says : " Oh, they 're all right ! Just 

let 'em alone, and they '11 get over it, same as most 

of 'em do. Or if they don't, why, they can wait a few 

years till she is old 
enough." 

We get up. Un 
cle Anthony comes 
with us as far as 
the woodshed door. 
He brings the lamp. 
We can see the 
woodpile just out 
side. 

Aunt Phoebe 

comes too. We 
start away. Uncle 
Anthony turns to 
go in again. 




A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Aunt Phoebe says : " Davi'son, you know we ought 
to have a few sticks o' wood for breakfast." 

Uncle Anthony laughs a little. He answers, as 
slowly as can be : " Well, 'y gosh, ef you wimmin 
folks ain't always wantin' something and it 's mostly 
wood ! " 

Aunt Phoebe says : " 0' course, you can't get 
breakfast without wood. 'T ain't my fault." 

Uncle Anthony says : " Well, you need n't to be 
so 'f raid I '11 fergit it. I ain't never yit, have I ? " 

Aunt Phoebe laughs. She says : " Good reason 
why ! " She says : " No, I don't know as ye have. 
But I 'm always afraid ye will, and I don't intend ye 
shall." She says : " Come on, I '11 light your lan 
tern for ye." 

We cross the road and go through our front gate. 
My father says : " I declare, I don't see how she 
c'n stand it ! Never has more 'n enough cut for the 
next meal ahead." 

My mother says : " Nor I either. But then, they 
seem to get along all right, if they don't have wood 
ahead." 

My father always has a whole year's wood ahead, 
all split and piled. Every spring Tip helps me pile 
it. I never think about Tip's real name being Wil 
liam Henry Harrison. His father is the only one 
that calls him Harrison. Everybody else calls him 
just Tip. He says he gets awfully tired explaining 
about Tippecanoe. 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Before we go in, we can hear Uncle Anthony's saw. 
It is as slow as it can be. It keeps sounding as if it 
were going to stop. We know it is an oak stick with 
lots of splinters, because it snorts so. We can see 
the light from his lantern. 



13 



Ill 

My Brother and Edie Go Home to Dinner Durmg 
Noon Recess, but I Play with the Boys 

MY brother and Edie start off together as soon 
as school is out. Edie has a blue woolen hood 
with a white bow tied under her chin. She has a blue 
dress on, and a blue cloak with red trimmings. Her 
hair is yellow. Everybody is always calling it 
golden, and we boys laugh about it. 

Syd and Steve and Milt always go home for din 
ner. They are big boys. Syd lives cornerways 
across from the schoolhouse. Steve lives about half 
way down the church hill. 

Tip and Georgie always go home, too. We never 
have much real fun till they get back. Georgie lives 
right near. Tip lives almost across from the church, 
next to Edie's. Our house is more than twice as far 
away. I don't go home to dinner, because I don't 
like to miss any fun. 

The big boys that are left sit down in the corner 
seats with their dinner pails. The little boys sit near 
them. The Polacks and the Dutch sit farther off, 
on the side-seat. They never have anything but 
bread with lard or syrup on it. My father says I 

14. 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

ought to call them Germans, not Dutch, but almost 
everybody calls them Dutch. 

Jim says to Little Joe : " Want to trade dinners 
to-day ? " Little Joe is really a big boy, only we call 
him Little Joe because his father is Big Joe. They 
are English. 

Little Joe says : " Do you know w'at you got in 
yourn? Hif you don't know, I '11 trade with you. I 
don't know w'at 's in mine." 

Jim says : " No, I don't know, 'cross my heart ! " 

Little Joe says : " Hall right, give it 'ere, then ! 
'Ere 's mine." 

They trade. They both take the covers off, and 
look in. They both say : " M-m-m-m ! I 'm glad I 
traded ! " Only Little Joe always says " Hi " in 
stead of " I." 

Little Joe says : " I like your bread and butter, 
Jim. I wisht we 'ad saltrisin' bread at our 'ouse." 

Jim says : " Oh, I like 'east bread better. I wish 
we could always have it, like you." 

Bill says : " You fellers ought to trade mothers. 
Then you 'd both have the kind o' bread you wanted. 
Watch me crack this here egg on my forehead." 

The egg makes a solid noise three or four times 
before we hear it crack. Bill draws the air in 
through his teeth, it hurt so. There is a red spot 
on his forehead. 

Bill begins to pick the shell off. He says : " All 
the reason you fellers like each other's bread is 'cause 

15 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

you don't have it every day. If you had it right 
along, you 'd soon be wantin' the other kind." 

Frank says : " That 's just the reason. Grub al 
ways tastes better somewheres else." 

Frank is n't quite a big boy yet. He has great, 
big, white teeth, far apart. He knows how to lick 
his lips with his tongue so that it makes us all laugh. 
It makes us think of a sheep. 

Frank takes a piece of pie out of his pail. He 
claps the cover on, and gets up and puts the pail on 
the shelf. 

Frank's pie is apple pie. He holds it up in his 
right hand, and bites off the point. He chews two or 
three times, and then bites again. He puts his left 
hand in his pocket. 

Frank's coat is buttoned tight, so that he has to 
pull one corner up when he puts his hand in. He 
leans against the wood-box behind the stove, and eats. 
The wood-box has a slanting cover. When you lift 
the cover up, you can see that the wood-box goes 
right through the wall. You can see out into the 
entry. 

Frank's mouth is so full that we can see the pie 
tfhen he chews. There are little pieces of crust in 
the corners of his mouth, and on his coat. When he 
has all the apple part in, he chews a little while, and 
then swallows hard. Then he looks at the crust part 
that is left. He says : " I can't eat the rest of this. 
I 'm so full a'ready I could bust ! " 

16 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Frank stands and holds the crust a while. He 
opens the stove door, and throws it in. 

Dan jumps up and says: *' Come on, le' 's go out 
and have a snowball ! " 

We all put our dinner pails on the shelf in the cor 
ner, and go out. We stop in the entry to get a drink. 
It takes quite a while, because there is only one 
dipper. 

It is thawing a little, and the snow packs. We 
begin to snowball. Dan and Frank are going to 
choose sides as soon as Tip and Georgie come back. 

We hear sleigh bells. Dan says : " Here comes a 
bob ! Come ahead, le' 's bounce her ! " 

We all run out to the road. The bob comes jing 
ling up. It is Lije's father. 

Frank says to Lije: " Dast we get on? Will he 
care ? " 

Lije says : " Naw, he won't mind ! " 

We all look up at Lije's father to see whether he 
will care. Then we jump on. We start up the east 
road toward Lije's house. When we go by Georgie's, 
he runs out yelling with his sled, and hitches on be 
hind. 

We ride a long way. We jump off and on when 
the horses trot. We go almost as far as Lije's. 

We hear bells ahead. Lije says: "Hear that? 
They 's a cutter comin'. We '11 get a ride back." 

John Malone is in the cutter. We yell : " Give 
us a ride ? " 

17 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

John says : " On wid ye ! " He is smoking his 
old clay pipe upside down, the way he always does. 

We catch on to the sides and back. Some of us 
sit on the edge, and some of us stand on the runners. 
There is a good deal of snow, and sometimes it 
catches our feet and pushes them off. Georgie gets 
hitched on behind again. 

When we are near the schoolhouse, all of a sudden 
John whips up. We know what that means. He 
wants to sling us. We don't care. There is so 
much snow it won't hurt. 

We go flying down the road toward the church. 
We meet Tip just coming back from dinner, and he 
runs along and tries to get on. He just gets hold, 
but the cutter is going so fast it throws him in the 
snow. We all laugh and yell. Tip gets up all cov 
ered with white, and begins to brush off. 

All of a sudden John grabs my cap. The rest see 
him do it, and all jump off. They are afraid John 
will be after theirs, toe. Lije goes head over heels. 
We go whizzing past the church toward our house. 

I stop laughing. I say : " Aw, John, gimme my 
cap ! " 

John laughs. He says : " I 'm goin' to take ye 
clean past your house down to the depot." 

I begin to tease. We are away down the church 
hill now. I keep saying: "Come on, John, gimme 
my cap, will you ? I '11 be late for school. Come on ! 
John!" 

18 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Pretty soon John says : " All right ! There 
comes another bob, and ye can tackle that to get 
back. Here ye are ! " 

John throws my cap away out in the snow. I 
jump off and wade out after it. I slap it on my leg, 
and put it on. It is a Scotch cap. All the boys 
have Scotch caps this year. 

The bob comes jingling on. It is Bradley's bob, 
and Uncle Riley is always good-natured. The Brad- 
leys live straight beyond the schoolhouse, a long way. 
There is a big tamarack swamp near there. Some 
of the trees have gum. 

I jump on. When we get to the schoolhouse, 
everybody comes running out. They all pile on, and 
we go jingling up past Syd's. 



19 



IV 

We Go After Frozen Apples 

WE go jingling along until we are almost past 
Syd's orchard. There is a picket fence for 
quite a way along the orchard, and then a rail fence. 
We never dare go over in there in summer time. 
They can see from the kitchen window if any one 
does. 

All of a sudden Tip yells : " Come on, le' 's get 
off and collar some o' them frozen apples ! " 

Tip jumps off, and then we all jump off. Over 
the fence we see a tree with apples on it. The snow 
looks level and deep all around. It has n't been 
broken through anywhere. 

We wade over toward the tree. The sky is clear 
and blue, and it makes the limbs and apples look 
black. When we get near, the apples begin to look 
brown, and the limbs grey. Once in a while there is 
a leaf. 

Tip says : " Gimme a boost, and I '11 shake some 
down ! " 

We take hold of Tip's legs, and boost him. He 
gives the upper part of the tree a good shake, and 
some apples come down. They make holes in the 

20 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

snow. We grab them and wipe the snow off. We 
are just going to bite, but Tip shakes again, and 
some more come down. We jump to get them. 

Tip yells : " Mind you save some good ones for 
me ! You need n't think I 'm goin' to do this for 
nothin'." 

Bill says : " Aw, we '11 save you a hull lot. You 
need n't to worry." 

Tip shakes again. Only one or two apples come 
down. I get one of them. I wipe the snow off, and 
take a bite. Tip keeps on shaking. 

The apple is frozen hard. My teeth go in just a 
little way, and then slide along. They leave white 
and brown furrows on it. I try to taste what I have 
bitten off. It is n't very sweet, and it makes my 
teeth and tongue cold. 

There are a few apples in the top of the tree that 
won't let go. Tip begins to come down. He says : 
" No use ! They 're so far up yander I can't get at 
'em. Maybe we can peg snowballs at 'em and fretch 
'em down that way." Tip always says " fretch " 
and " yander." 

We divide up with Tip, and stand and eat a while. 
Then Tip says : " Watch me, now ! " He packs a 
snowball and lets fly. We all try to hit the apples 
that are left. We get one or two, and go. Our 
coat pockets are full. Bill and Georgie have their 
pants pockets full, too. 

When we are almost back to the schoolhouse cor- 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

ner, Bill stops. He says : " Hoi' on, I got to get 
these here apples out o' my pocket ! They 're be- 
ginnin' to melt on me. I can feel 'em." 

Georgie stops, too. He says : " So can I mine." 

They begin to take the apples out of their pants 
pockets and stuff them into their coat pockets. Their 
coat pockets are so full already that it is all they can 
do to get any more in. 

Bill says : " Look a' here, will you? " 

We all look. Bill's pants have two wet spots on 
the leg. 

I say : " Anyhow, they won't be so hard to eat if 
they 're thawed a little like that. Mine are so ice 
cold they hurt my teeth like everything." 

Bill tries one of the wet apples. He says : 
" They 're hard inside, just the same as the rest." 

Georgie says : " I '11 tell you what le' 's do. 
Le' 's go in and thaw 'em out by the stove ! " 

Frank says: " That '11 be just the thing! Come- 
on ! " He says : " Le' 's see who '11 be first ! " He 
starts to run. 

We run as hard as we can to the schoolhouse. 
They all clear the way when they see us. All our feet 
strike the steps at almost the same time. It makes a 
big rumbling and stamping noise. 

We go piling in through the entry and in by the 
stove. Teacher is there. He looks at us and says : 
" Well, anyone 'd think a drove of colts was com- 
ing!" 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

We put our apples on the nickel fender that runs 
around the stove half way up. We put some on top, 
too, but they begin to sizzle. 

The girls come and watch us. The apples begin 
to look wet and shiny. Pretty soon they drip. 

We begin to eat. The girls stand and look at us. 
Gertie turns up her nose. She says : " Ain't they 
just as stingy as they can be? " 

We laugh. Tip laughs, and smacks his lips. He 
says : " M-m-m-m ! Ain't they good, though ? " 

Gertie says to the girls : " Come on away ! 
Let 'em keep their old apples! We don't want any 
of 'em." 

We all laugh again. The little Polacks and Ger 
mans come and beg for some. When August and 
Heiny get theirs, they go over to where Gertie is, 
and say : " M-m-m-m ! don't you vish you hat some, 
hey ? M-m-m-m ! " 

Gertie takes August by the shoulder and whirls 
him around. She gives him a push back toward us. 
She says : " Get out with you, you little Dutch 
man!" 

By and by we give the girls some apples. At first 
they say they won't take them, but they change their 
minds. 

The outsides are juicy and sweet, but the insides 
stay hard. Our fingers get all sweet and sticky. 

The bell is going to ring soon. We run out and 
wash our hands in snow. We leave some of the ap- 

23 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

pies on the fender when we go to our seats. We get 
them together in little groups. Lije is afraid some 
one will get his, so he writes his name on a piece of 
paper and puts it on them. He keeps looking 
around to see if they are there. It begins to smell 
of apples all over the room. 

At recess the apples are soft all the way through. 
We eat some of them, and bite holes in some and suck 
the juice. It makes us think of cider, only it is n't 
so good. 

Charley Binzel grabs Heiny and stuffs an apple 
core down his neck. Charley is one of the saloon 
keeper's boys, and he is always picking on the little 
Polacks. 

Heiny begins to cry. August says to Charley : 
" Aw, come on now, quit ut, you big old fool you ! 
You vould n't dast to take somevone of your own 
size." August is Heiny's brother, but he is only a 
little bit bigger. Heiny has n't been to school very 
long. 

Charley says : " I would n't, hey ? Well, you 
just give me a little more lip, and I '11 put one down 
your neck ! " 

Charley is going to spin August around by the 
neck, but Gertie goes up to him and pushes him 
away. 

She says : " You just let him alone, will you, you 
old beer-barrel ! " 

That makes Charley mad, but he does n't dare 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

touch Gertie. He knows the big boy won't let him. 

Syd and Steve are standing by the stove with Jen 
nie and Frankie. They are always together. At 
recess the big boys and girls hardly ever go outside. 

My brother is sitting with Edie in her seat. He is 
showing her how to do examples. 

Syd and Steve look at my brother and Edie, and 
then at each other. Then they laugh. Jennie and 
Frankie laugh, too. 

Syd puts his hand over his mouth, and looks up 
at the ceiling. He says : " A-hem-m-m ! " Steve 
does it, too. Then they all look at my brother and 
Edie and laugh. Steve laughs through his nose, with 
his mouth shut. He makes a snorting kind of noise. 
My father calls it smudging. 

My brother does n't look up, but he moves a little, 
and looks bashful. Edie's face gets red. 



25 



Mr. White and Grandpa Tyler Talk Politics 
at the Store 

MY father pushes his chair back from the supper 
table. He says to my mother : " Le' 's see, 
didn't you say you wanted the clothes brought in? 
I s'pose they 're dry by this time, ain't they? " 

My mother says : " Well, I should hope so ! 
They 've been out since half past six this morning." 

My mother always washes Monday morning. My 
father gets up early to help her, and my brother has 
to get up early and do the chores alone. This morn 
ing he had to shovel a path along the clothesline. 

My mother has the clothes out before breakfast 
every time. The neighbors say they would n't know 
what to make of it if there was a Monday morning 
without her clothes out on the line by half past six. 

My father comes in with the basket heaping full. 
He sets it on the kitchen table. My mother says 
she '11 sprinkle them the last thing before going to 
bed. 

My father says : " Well, I guess I '11 go down to 
the store and get the mail. I should n't wonder if 

26 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

I 'd have a chance to give a few more invitations, 
too." 

I say to my father : " Can I go too ? " 

My father says : " Yes, I s'pose so, if your ma '11 
let you. Maybe you '11 get your Companion, too. 
I s'pose it was the storm Saturday that made it late." 

I get my Scotch cap and my comforter and mit 
tens. I tie the comforter around my neck, and but 
ton the ends under my coat. The comforter is blue 
and white, with a couple of red streaks, and the ends 
are fringed. They stick out from under the bottom 
of my coat. 

We go past Uncle Anthony's and down the road. 
Then we go past Mr. White's and Johnnie's and come 
to where the depot hill begins. 

Down at the bottom of the depot hill we can see 
the depot lights. There are two or three red lights. 
Those are the switches. We can see the light from 
the store windows shining on the snow in the road. 
The saloons just the other side of the store have all 
their windows lighted. 

My father says : " You see, the saloons are al 
ways sure to have nice, bright lights." 

Pretty soon he says : ** You must never go into a 
saloon, or have anything to do with 'em. It don't 
pay." 

I look across to where Bill Doran lives. I say: 
" I 'd hate to be Barney or Jake." 

I think of the fight I saw them have in the road 
27 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

once between the two saloons, when they had the 
dance at Weber's. They tore each other's shirts off, 
and were all scratched and bloody. 

My father says : " Well, I guess you would n't ! " 

Over beyond the depot we can see a light on the 
hill where Grandpa Tyler lives. It looks all dark 
away up beyond his house. The north burying 
ground is up there. That is the highest place of all. 

My father says : " I wonder if Tyler and some of 
'em won't be down to-night. I hope so." 

We cross the tracks, and go up the store steps. 
My father opens the door, and we go in. 

Mr. White is standing at the opening in the coun 
ter, opposite the stove. He is a little man, and 
always chewing tobacco. Grandpa Tyler is sitting 
on the soap box behind the stove, with his back 
against the wall. Gottlieb is on another box. His 
is a cracker box. 

They all say good evening to my father. My 
father says : " Good evenin', White ! Evenin', Ty ! 
Evenin', Godlip!" Lots of people say Godlip in 
stead of Gottlieb. He is the blacksmith. 

Mr. White goes around to the mail case. It 
stands on the counter by the front window, and the 
back of it is toward us. It is all full of places with 
letters over them. It is the case my father made, a 
long time ago, when he was station agent, and post 
master, and storekeeper, and the place was just 
settled. 

28 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Mr. White says : " I s'pose you want your mail, 
don't you ? " He takes everything out of the box 
that has our letter over it, and begins to look it over. 
He says to me : " Here 's your Companion that you 
did n't get Saturday." He says to my father : 
" And here 's your old Patriot and I hope it '11 do 
ye lots o' good ! " 

Grandpa Tyler winks at my father. He says to 
Mr. White : "Ephram, what 's the matter with the 
Patriot, I 'd like to know? Ain't it jest chuck full o' 
good, sound, republican gospel? It's better 'n any 
o' your old democrat papers, anyhow." 

Mr. White's cheeks and upper lip are smooth, but 
he has long grey whiskers. He has little, bright 
eyes. He always makes me think of the pictures of 
Uncle Sam, only he is n't tall enough. 

There is a box full of ashes where Gottlieb is sit 
ting. Mr. White walks over to it every little while, 
and spits. He chews fine cut. 

He says : " Well, all I c'n say is, if I liked a paper 
like that one the way you fellows do, I 'd never own 
up to it. I would n't be found dead with one of 'em 
in my house ! " 

My father looks at Grandpa Tyler. Grandpa 
Tyler winks again. He says : " Ain't it awful, the 
way the ol' cuss takes on ? " 

Grandpa Tyler keeps running his hands down over 
his long, white whiskers. My father says he is proud 
of his whiskers. But he says "he would n't have 'em 

29 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

long like that. He says they are always catching 
dust and chaff, and getting yellow. 

Pretty soon Grandpa Tyler says : " By godfrey, 
Hi, I 'd hate awful to be a democrat would n't 
you ? " 

My father says : " Yes, specially since there 's 
goin' to be another 'lection this fall. There '11 be 
four years more o' misery for 'em, and no help 
for it!" 

Grandpa Tyler says : " Serves 'em right for be- 
longin' to sech a party, 's what I say ! " 

Mr. White lifts up one hand. He always does that 
way when he is going to start in on politics. He 
says: " You c'n save your pity for yourselves, after 
next November ! " He steps out into the middle of 
the floor. Grandpa Tyler winks at my father and 
Gottlieb. 

Mr. White begins again. He says : " No sir, you 
need n't pity no democrat ! I tell ye, they 're the 
salt o' the earth! The democrat party is the only 
party that has ever had a principle, or that has a 
principle to-day. It 's the only party that has been 
kep' alive by principle since the days of Thomas 
Jefferson. The democrat party has buried every 
party that has rose against it so far, and, by god 
frey, next November it '11 bury your old republican 
party ! It '11 bury it so deep 't none o' you fellers '11 
ever " 

Grandpa Tyler breaks in on him. He says : 
30 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

" Oh, come, come, come, Eph ! Anybody might 
think you was meanin' what you said ! " 

Mr. White says : " Well you c'n bet your bottom 
dollar I do mean it, every word of it ! And what 's 
more, next November, the first Tuesday after the 
first Monday, you '11 find out it 's all gospel truth ! " 

Mr. White leans over the ash box and spits again. 
He says : " I can feel it, I can feel it in my bones ! 
They 's a-goin' to be such a wakin' up o' the dead an' 
such a rattlin' o' dry bones as you never heard of in 
all your born days, you just mark my words ! " 



31 



VI 

My Father Talks with Old Neighbors, and, Asks 
Them to the Dance 

THE door opens. We all look to see who is com 
ing in. Mr. White stops talking. He says : 
" Hello, 'nother country heard from ! " 

Old Shed Williams comes in. He has a knotty old 
cane. His cap is pulled down over his ears, and he 
has a big comforter around his neck. He takes his 
mittens off. His hands and face are awfully hairy. 
His real name is Sheridan, and he lives up the marsh 
road near the river. We all know he '11 begin to say 
" don't y' know." 

Mr. White says : " Well, well, who 'd a thought 
you 'd get down here this cold night? Does your 
mother know you 're out? I sh'd think your folks 'd 
worry about you." 

Old Shed says : " Oh, go 'long with ye, don't y' 
know, 't ain't so awful cold, don't y' know. I thought 
I 'd come down, don't y' know, an' get my paper an' 
see if they was n't somethin' goin' on, don't y' know." 

He goes over to the stove. He says : " But don't 
y' know I thought I heard ye talkin', Ephram, don't 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

y' know. Politics, I s'pose. That 's about all ye 
know to talk about. I declare, I never see such a 
man for politics, don't y' know ! " 

Old Shed's voice is thin, and he is almost as slow 
as Uncle Anthony. 

Grandpa Tyler says : " You know what, Shed ? 
He 's jest been tellin' us they 's goin' to be a democrat 
president next time." 

Old Shed says: "Well, don't y' know, all I can 
say, don't y' know, is 't I 'm awful sorry for him. 
He '11 get terrible fooled, don't y' know ! " 

Mr. White goes over to the ash box again. He 
stops in the middle of the floor, and waves his hand. 
His voice sounds as if he were making a speech in 
front of a whole lot of people. He says : " Not a 
bit of it this time ! This time we 're a-goin' to fix ye 
up for good and all ! You '11 be callin' on the sun, 
moon, an' stars not to shine, an' for the rocks to fall 
on ye and hide ye ! " 

Mr. White waves his hand again. He puts the 
thumb of his other hand in the arm hole of his vest, 
and begins to walk up and down in front of old Shed. 
He says: "It's a-comin', I tell ye, I c'n feel it! 
We '11 show you whether they 's a god in Israel or 
not ! Why, you won't be down after the mail again 
after 'lection for six weeks, you '11 be feelin' so 
shamed o' yourselves for votin' the republican 
ticket!" 

Old Shed says : " Oh, come on here an' get me my 
33 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

mail, don't y' know, an' stop talkin' such nonsense! 
That 's the way you been talkin', don't y' know, be 
fore every 'lection since the war." 

My father says : " Yes, Eph, go and get his mail 
for him, and maybe by that time you '11 cool off 
again." 

Mr. White tosses out the Patriot, and comes and 
stands in the opening of the counter again. 

Gottlieb gets up to go. Mr. White says : 
" There, there, Godlip, don't go off mad that way ! " 

We all know he is going to joke Gottlieb. He is 
always doing that. Gottlieb never understands. 

Gottlieb stops and turns around. He looks puz 
zled. He says: "Who tolt you I vos mat, hey? 
I ain't needer mat ! You must been mat yourselluf ! " 

Mr. White says : " Well then, all right, never 
mind ! I kind o' thought your back looked that way, 
that 's all." 

Gottlieb says : " Yes, dot 's anodder of your fool 
ish Yankee chokes. I know vot ut iss. You don't 
need to tink you can fool me already ! " 

Mr. White says : " Keep cool, Godlip, keep cool, 
keep cool ! Never allow that temper of yours to get 
the upper hand of ye." 

Gottlieb looks sulky. He says : " I don't haf to 
keep cool, now, you know ut? I 'm chust as cool as 
v'at you are, uf you vant to know ut ! " 

Mr. White says: "Now just look at him, how 
mad he gets, will you? You can't say the least little 

34 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

word to him but he flares up just like that. I tell 
you he 's awful dangerous, specially when irritated 
with a long pole." 

Gottlieb tries to laugh, but he looks sulkier than 
ever. He says : " You shut up your Yankee mout' ! 
You don't know so wery much, ennahow ! " 

Gottlieb opens the door and starts to go. Mr. 
White calls after him : " Now, Godlip, go home and 
give your feet a good soakin' the last thing before 
you go to bed. It '11 draw the blood down out o' 
your head." 

Gottlieb bangs the door. Grandpa Tyler says: 
" Eph, ain't ye kind o' hard on Godlip? You 
ort n't to make such fun of him. He don't know how 
to take it." 

Mr. White says : " Oh, Tie knows it 's all in fun ! 
He '11 be all right next time he comes in ! " He takes 
out his tobacco box, and gets ready to take another 
chew. 

Old Shed says : " Slammed the door, don't y' 
know, 's if he was real mad, did n't he? " 

Mr. White says : " Oh, he does that lots o' times. 
He '11 be all right by to-morrow night." 

He steps over to the ash box, and leans over and 
lets the old chew fall. Then he begins to get another 
out of the tobacco box. It takes him quite a while, 
because fine cut hangs together. The tobacco box 
is smooth and shiny. He puts it back in his pants 
pocket. 

35 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

My father says : *' I was hopin' I 'd see some of 
you down here to-night. I want to invite you and 
your women folks to our house to a dance next Sat 
urday night. It 's been most a year now since we 
had one." 

Grandpa Tyler says : " You don't say ! 
By godfrey, don't it beat everything the way he keeps 
it up? Here he is, over sixty, and dancin' yet ! I 'd 
like to know what he thinks '11 happen to him after 
he dies." 

They laugh at my father. Old Shed says : " Yes, 
an' invitin' of us old fellers, too, don't y' know. It '11 
be a great dance, don't y' know, if he depends on us 
to do the dancin'." 

My father says : " 0' course, I know the younger 
folks '11 do most of the dancin', but I want you old 
folks to be there too. We can play cards and look 
on, and have just as much fun as the rest." 

Grandpa Tyler says : " Well, you can depend on 
me yit, by godfrey, when it comes to a party where 
they 's a hand o' cards. We '11 be there, fast 
enough." 

Grandpa Tyler strokes his whiskers. He says: 
" Hi, I 'm glad ye keep it up, even if 't ain't but once 
a year." 

Mr. White says : " It 's been a mighty good thing 
for us all. You can count on us, too, but o' course 
I can't come till I 've locked up." 

My father says : " Of course. But that won't 
36 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

matter. You '11 be in plenty of time." He starts 
toward the door. I follow him. 

My father stops with his hand on the door latch. 
He turns and says : " All right, then, we '11 be ex- 
pectin' you." 

We go up the hill. My father says : " Now I '11 
send word by Speckle to some more to-morrow, and 
we '11 soon have 'em all invited." 

My father and mother often call my brother 
Speckle. That 's because he has freckles. They 
hardly ever call him by his real name. I call 
him Ted sometimes, but not even that is his real 
name. 

When we get home, I go right out to where my 
mother is. She is sprinkling the clothes on the 
kitchen table. The folks that visit us from Town 
always say " dining-room," instead of " kitchen." 
We laugh about it when they are gone. 

My mother puts her hand in the basin of water, 
and then shakes it over the clothes. Then she rolls 
the clothes up tight and puts them back in the basket. 
She is going to iron to-morrow morning. She always 
irons Tuesday morning. 

My mother says : " I see your Companion 's come, 
so I s'pose you feel better." 

I sit down and begin to read the continued story 
on the front page. 

My mother says : " As soon as you get to a good 
stopping place you must go to bed. It 's almost nine 

37 



55310 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

now. By the time you 've got it finished I '11 be ready 
to put the light on the stairs for you." 

I read a while. It is about a boy and a girl skat 
ing, and the girl breaks through and has to be 
rescued. 

I say: " Where 's Ted ?" 

My mother says : " Well, the last / saw of him, 
he was starting up the road. Maybe you can guess 
where he is." 

I say : " Oh, he 's always going up to Edie's, 
ain't he?" 

I kiss my mother good night, and then go in and 
kiss my father. My father is sitting by the stove 
again, with his legs stretched out, reading Dombey 
and Son. 

I run up stairs past the lamp, and get into bed. 
Pretty soon I begin to feel like going to sleep. I 
hear my mother come to the stair door and reach 
for the lamp. Then it gets dark. 



38 



VII 

Everybody Comes, and Johnnie Forms On 

MY mother says : " Gracious me ! don't he look 
all dressed up, though ? " 

We all look at my father. He has his broadcloth 
coat on, and his velvet vest and fine boots. He has 
his whiskers trimmed, and his hair slicked. He al 
ways tells us he has had that coat and vest fourteen 
years. The vest has little flowers on it. 

My mother has her best dress on, too. She has 
a ruche around her neck, and her gold watch-chain 
is around her shoulders and hanging down in front. 
Her ear-rings have little black stones set in the 
borders. She has the big cameo on. The cameo has 
a white house in a yard, and a girl walking there. 

My brother and I are dressed up, too, only my 
brother has overalls on. He has to take care of the 
teams. 

We have the lamps all lighted, and a good, hot fire. 
The parlor is all lighted up and warm, too. The 
stair door is open, so the heat will go up there. They 
are going to dance up in the big room. 

The kitchen table is pulled out, with the leaves up. 
My brother is sitting by the south window, holding 
the lantern between his knees. He has just put his 
cap and mittens on. 

39 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

We hear sleigh bells up the road. My father says : 
" They 're beginning to come ! " My brother gets 
up and goes out to the woodshed door. 

The sleigh bells come jingling along until we know 
they are almost in front of the house. Then they 
are n't so loud. Pretty soon we hear them right near 
the house. The runners make a sort of hard, grind 
ing sound. They always sound that way when it is 
cold. 

The sleigh bumps against the plank out by the 
door. We hear somebody say : " Who-o-oa ! Here 
we are ! Pile out ! " 




40 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

They come stamping in, saying good evening, 
and laughing, and shaking hands. They begin to 
take off their overshoes and overcoats and comfort 
ers, and to pile them on the chairs next to the wall. 
The women put some packages done up in newspapers 
on the table. 

I know what is in the packages. It is frosted cake, 
and pie, and things like that. I hope I can stay up 
long enough to have some, but if I don't I know my 
mother will save some out for me. 

They all go into the front room. Then more peo 
ple come. Some come afoot. Grandpa Tyler and 
Mrs. Tyler and Johnnie come together from down 
the road. Johnnie is day operator. Mrs. Tyler is 
a little woman. 

My mother helps Mrs. Tyler take off her cloak 
and things. She says : " Well, where are you, any 
way, Mrs. Tyler? You 're so little I can hardly find 
you among all your wraps." 

Mrs. Tyler laughs. She has a thin little voice. 
She says : " Well, you know precious stuff is gen'lly 
put up in small packages." 

I think of what my father said one day. He said : 
" She 's little, but O my!" 

Mr. and Mrs. Purdy come from the other way, and 
pretty soon Uncle Anthony and Aunt Phoebe and 
Milt. Syd and Steve will be along with Jennie and 
Frankie after a while. 

Mr. Purdy says: "Hi, jest let me step outside 
41 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

afore I set down. I got to git red o' this here chaw 
o' terbacker, or I won't be comf table." 

My father laughs. He says : " I s'pose it '11 be 
kind o' hard on some of you, goin' without tobacco a 
whole evenin', but you ought to be able to stan' it for 
just once." 

Mr. Purdy says : " Oh, I guess we can manage to 
git along." 

Mrs. Purdy says : " 'T would be a good thing for 
ye if ye had to do it oftener, / think." 

The sitting room and the parlor are almost full 
now. 

Grandpa Tyler pulls out his watch. He says : 
" Well, Hi, where 's them there fiddlers o' yourn ? 
Ain't it 'bout time they was turnin' up? " 

My father says : " I don't know but 't is time 
for 'em." 

We hear a great jingling of bells. Johnnie says: 
" I bet that 's them ! " He runs to the door. He 
says : " Yah, here they come, sure 's you 're alive ! " 

We hear them stamping and taking off their 
things. Then we hear the bells again, and I know 
my brother is taking the horses off to the barn. 

The fiddlers come in. Addie is with them. One 
of the fiddlers is her father. The other is a sort 
of cousin. 

They have their fiddle boxes in their hands. Their 
cheeks are red, and Lon has icicles on his moustache. 
They begin to warm their hands at the stove. 

42 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Grandpa Tyler says : " Hey, Lon, what ye got in 
that there box? A baby? " 

Everybody laughs. Someone always says that 
when there is a dance, and they always laugh. 

Lon plays first fiddle, and old Ledley plays sec 
ond. They always play together at dances. Lon is 
younger. He can call off while he plays. His voice 
has a twang in it that some of them make fun of. 




15* 



Mr. Ledley is English. He has a big, round face, 
and grey hair. His face is shaved, but he has whis 
kers all around the edge. They make me think of 
fringe. 

They all talk and laugh. Lon and old Ledley keep 
rubbing their hands together. 

43 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Grandpa Tyler says : " Well, 'Lonzo, ain't it 
about time to tune up? Seems to me them fingers o' 
yourn ort to be limbered up by this time, ort n't 
they?" 

Lon says : " Jes' 's you folks say ! Maybe 't is 
time." 

He says to Mr. Ledley : " All right, Ledley, 
s'posen' we go up." 

They start up stairs. We can hear them in the 
big room, tuning up. They pick the strings, and 
we can hear the pegs snap when they screw them up. 
Then we hear a lot of broad strokes on the two big 
strings, and a lot of little notes up and down on the 
little strings. They are getting their fingers used 
to it. 

Lon calls out : " All right, Johnnie, form on ! " 

Johnnie jumps up. He says good and loud, so 
everybody can hear: " Choo-ose you-u-ur pardners 
for a quadrille ! " 

Syd and Steve and the girls go right up. Johnnie 
goes up, too, and some others. Pretty soon we hear 
him call again : " Fo-our more couples wanted ! 
Form on ! " They are going to have two sets. 

A few more go up, and then Johnnie calls : 
" 0-one more couple wanted ! " 

I run up stairs. I want to see them begin. 

They are waiting for the one more couple. My 
mother says to my brother : " Come on, old Speckle, 
let 's you and I help 'em out. You can take me for 

44 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 



Her mother is a 



your girl to-night, seeing you can't do any better." 
My brother gets up and stands with my mother. His 
face gets red. 

Of course Edie is n't here, 
churchmember and does n't be 
lieve in dancing, even if she 
liked to have Edie go with my 
brother. 

I sit on one of the benches. 
They are on both sides, along 
the wall. If I stand up on 
one of them, my head comes 
up to where the ceiling begins 
to slant. 

My father says when he 
built our house he had the big 
room made on purpose for 
dances. There is a big white 
desk in one corner. The sit 
ting room stovepipe runs up 
through the other end. We keep the popcorn and 
beans in the corner there. The windows are just 
over the veranda roof. 




VIII 



My Mother and Father Take Part m the 
Old Dances 

LON and old Ledley sit in the corner by the desk. 
Old Ledley is behind it. 

They tune up a little more, and then they stop and 

wait. Then Lon 
raps the back of his 
fiddle with the bow, 
and calls out : 
" Pla-a-a-ces all ! " 

Everybody 
stands ready. Lon 
calls: " A-a-all 
dance ! " He begins 
The Campbells Are 
Coming. Every 
body begins to 
tread up and down. Pretty soon Lon calls : " Sa- 
a-lu-u-ute you-u-ur pardners ! " Everybody bows. 
The partners bow to each other, and then to the 
rest. 

The dancing up and down and the saluting are only 
46 




A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

to begin with. Then Lon calls : " Head lady and 
foot gent, forward a-a-and back ! " and things like 
that. 

They all look good-natured and happy. Their 
ej r es sparkle. They do a lot of different calls. I 
don't see how Lon can remember them all. There 
is " right-hand-'round," and " left-hand-'round," and 
" lady-in-the-center-and-three-hands-'round," and 
" do-cee-do," and " al-a-mend-left," and " grand- 
right-and-left," and " a-all sasha-a-ay," artd " prom 
enade-all," and " swing-your-pardners," and 
" cheat." I keep wondering how they can do it all 
without getting mixed up. Sometimes they do get 
mixed up. 

The sound of the music and the treading of their 
feet make me feel warm and happy. I wish I could 
dance, too. Everybody is laughing or smiling. 
They like Lon's tunes and his calling off. 

Every time they get through with a figure, they 
stand still a minute. They look at each other, and 
talk and laugh. Steve and Syd make lots of fun 
joking the girls, and joking my brother about Edie. 
Then Lon begins a new tune. Sometimes he says 
" Ba-al-ance all," instead of " A-a-all dance," but it 
means the same thing. 

When they are through with the last figure, Lon 
calls out : " Se-eat you-u-ur pardners ! " Then 
everybody sits down on the benches. 

My mother is on the opposite side of the room. I 
47 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

want to go over there, but I am afraid, because I 
think everybody will look at me. My mother is al 
ways telling me I am too bashful. 

My mother makes a sign to me to come and sit 
down by her. I put my hands on the bench and lean 




back. I twist my toes together, and shake my head. 
But after a while I get up and walk across. 

I keep looking at the floor while I go. I don't dare 
look up. The floor seems to rise up almost to my 
face, and my cheeks feel warm. It is a long way 
across. Everyone is talking, but I am afraid they 
will all stop and look at me. 

My mother says : " Well, are you going to be my 
partner after a while ? " 

48 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

I say : " I do' want to." I don't know how I 
could ever get up and dance in front of everybody. 

My mother says : " Oh, yes, you 'd better ! They 
won't mind if you make a mistake. I '11 tell you what 
to do." 

But I sit back and say : " No, I do' want to." 

My mother says : " All right, if you don't feel 
like it. I s'pose after all you 're pretty small to 
dance yet." 

Johnnie gets up and calls out : " Choo-ose your 
partners for a waltz ! " Lon strikes up The Missis 
sippi. When they got through, they form on for 
Opera Reel. 

Lon's boy and girl get mixed up. Lon gets all out 
of patience. He always does when they make mis 
takes. He breaks off playing, and raps the back of 
the fiddle with his bow so hard and so quick that 
everybody jumps and looks scared. 

Lon looks as cross as can be. He snaps out: 
" Jack ! Myrie ! What the thunder you doin', any 
how? Confound it all, that ain't no way to dance! " 

Jack does n't like it. He sticks his lips out, and 
grumbles. He says : " Well, we 're doin' it just the 
way you called off. What you talkin' about ? " 

Lon says : " No you ain't neither, not by a long 
shot ! " He gets up and takes Jack by the arm. 
He says : " Come over here where you belong ! " 
He talks louder and crosser than ever. He says : 
" Now, next time pay 'tention to what I call off ! " 

49 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Lon goes on with the tune and the calling off. He 
is playing The Wrecker s Daughter. Old Mr. Led- 
ley calls it The Wreckard's Daughter. 

Lon plays Saint Patrick's Day next, and then 
Fisher's Hornpipe for the last figure. I know 
almost all of Lon's tunes by heart. There is Sol 
dier's Joy, and The Devil's Dream, and Washing 
Day, and Flowers of Edinburgh, and Captain Jinks, 
and Irish Washerwoman, and a lot of others. 

My father and my brother can play Lon's tunes 
on the fiddle, too. I am so used to them that when 
I am going anywhere alone I whistle and hum them, 
and keep step. When my brother is turning the 
fanning mill, or churning, or when the old mares are 
trotting along to Town, I can always hear Lon's 
tunes. A good many of them have n't names. 

By and by they stop again. But it is n't very 
long before Johnnie calls out : " A-a-all form on for 
Virginia Reel! " 

They always dance that, and Money Musk, and 
Irish Trot, and almost always The Fireman's Dance. 
They all have fine, lively tunes, and everybody has 
lots of fun. I like to watch them better than any 
of the other dances. 

My father likes Virginia Reel better than anybody 
else. He has so much fun that he forgets everything 
except the dancing. He dances up and down so that 
his coat tails flap. People get to looking at him, but 
he does n't care. My mother laughs. She leans 

50 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

over me, and says : " Just look at your pa ! Is n't 
he having a fine time? See how his eyes pop 
out ! " 

My mother likes Irish Trot the best. I can tell 
by her face that she thinks it is lots of fun. But she 
does n't laugh out loud and carry on, like the rest. 




She smiles and sort of hops along, and takes little 
steps in between. 

Addie sits beside me while they dance Irish Trot. 
She says : " Your mother's old-fashioned way of 
dancing is just as pretty as it can be. I wish I could 
dance as nice as that ! " 

51 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

All of a sudden Lon raps his fiddle again, and be 
gins to scold Jack some more. 

Addie says : " Now, Alonzo, you ought to have 
more patience with the boy." 

Lon says : " Patience ! Well, 'y gosh ! " 

They all laugh. Addie laughs, too. It sounds 
queer to hear anyone call Lon Alonzo. 

Lon goes and sits down again. He calls out : 
" Pla-a-ces all ! " He says : " We '11 try it once more 
now, and see ! " 



IX 

/ Watch the Dancing, but Can't Keep Awake 
Till Supper 

I RUN down stairs again. I go down every little 
while. This time the clock says half past eleven. 

Grandpa Tyler and Uncle Anthony and Mrs. 
Purdy and Aunt Phoebe are playing euchre. I go 
and stand behind Uncle Anthony. Mr. White and 
old Shed and Mr. Purdy and Grandma Tyler are at 
another table. Mrs. White and some others are 
looking on. 

Uncle Anthony says : " Well, shall we have 
another game? " 

Grandpa Tyler says : " Might 's well. It '11 be 
quite a while yet before they have supper." 

Aunt Phcebe says to me : " What be they dancin' 
now?" 

I say: "Money Musk. They just finished Irish 
Trot." 

Uncle Anthony says : " Well, Ty, we 've danced 
them old dances a good many times in our day, hain't 
we?" 

Grandpa Tyler says: "Well, I guess we hev! 
53 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

An' I declare, I 'd like to dance 'em some more, but 
somehow my rheumatiz is too much for me. You 
don't feel a powerful lot like dancin' when yer knees 
is a hollerin' out the way mine does." 

Mrs. Purdy says : " Folks don't dance as much as 
what they used to when the country was first settled. 
When we first come, back in the early forties, they 
used to be a dance somewheres every Sat'day night, 
jest as sure as Sat'day night come 'round." 

Aunt Phoebe says : " Yes, and they wa'n't so 
many people then, neither. Don't you remember how 
they used to come from miles and miles around? 
Seems 's if the more people they is, the less sociable 
they git." 

Mrs. Purdy lays the cards down in front of Uncle 
Anthony. She says : " Want to cut 'em ? " 

Uncle Anthony says : " Oh, go on an' deal ! I 
don't b'lieve ye could stack 'em if ye tried." 

Mrs. Purdy laughs. She says : " Don't ye be 
too sure o' that! Maybe I know more about the 
game 'n what you think." 

Mrs. Purdy deals the cards around. Uncle 
Anthony says : " No-o, times ain't what they was, 
not by a good deal. One thing is, they 's gittin' to 
be so many foreigners." 

Grandpa Tyler says : " By godfrey, don't it beat 
all, the way they 're a-comin' in an' buyin' everybody 
out ? I declare I don't see what the country 's 
a-comin' to. They 's gittin' to be so many Dutch 

54 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

around 't ye can't sleep nights fer hearin' the wooden 
shoes clatter." 

They laugh. Uncle Anthony does n't get to laugh 
ing until the rest are almost through. It kind of 
spreads over his face a little at a time. You can see 
it first in his eyes. 

All of a sudden Grandpa Tyler leans forward and 
says : " Hoi' on there ! What 's trumps ? Wa'n't 
that my trick there? " 

Aunt Phoebe says : " Why, o' course 't is, and you 
better take it in. Goodness knows, we need all we 
c'n git." 

I sit down and watch them a while longer. My 
brother comes in and stands looking on. 

Aunt Phoebe looks up, and says : " Some ways or 
other you look sort o' lonesome this evenin'. What 's 
the matter of ye? " 

My brother gets red- He tries to smile. He 
knows she is thinking about Edie. As soon as Aunt 
Phoebe begins to play again, he goes away. 

I begin to feel sleepy. I run up stairs again. 

They are all sitting on the benches, resting and 
talking. I go in as quickly as I can and sit down 
by my mother. My mother looks down at me. She 
says: "Are you beginning to get sleepy? Don't 
you think you 'd better go to bed? " 

I say : " No, I do' want to. I want to stay up 
till supper." 

My mother says : " Well, if you really want to, 
55 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

you can. 'T ain't very often they come here. But 
I 'm awfully afraid you '11 get sleepy." 

I know how it will be when supper comes. Addie 
and my mother and Mrs. Purdy will put the coffee on, 




and then they '11 unwrap all the packages. There 
will be biscuit and butter, and chicken, and sliced 
ham, and pickles, and fried cakes, and pie, and three 
or four kinds of big, white, frosted cake. They will 
get out a lot of plates and cups, and pour out the 
coffee. Then they will all eat and say things to make 
each other laugh. 

56 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

I sit and watch them dance. They are dancing 
Opera Reel now. It takes them quite a while. The 
treading and the music make me feel quiet. I feel 
as if I 'd like to lie down. My head begins to feel 
heavy, and my eyes want to shut. I sit up straight, 
and open them as wide as I can. 

It is n't very long before my eyes want to shut 
again. All the feet and legs and skirts and arms 
begin to look blurred every little while. My head 
almost falls. I bring it up with a jerk. I sit 
straight up again and again. I wish they would get 
supper right away. 

I get so sleepy I forget about everything ex 
cept trying to keep awake. I forget even about 
supper. I think of bed, and how nice it would be to 
lie down. I think of it again, and get up and go 
out and across to my bedroom, take my clothes off, 
and get in. I leave my clothes right where they 
come off. 

Getting into bed wakes me up a little. I hear 
them finish Opera Reel. They talk a while, and then 
Lon begins a quadrille tune. 

The tune is one my father plays on his fiddle. He 
says the name of it is My Love She '* but a Lassie 
Yet. It goes " Tum-a f?-tum-tum-tum tum-tum- 
tum, tum-a fwm-tum-tum-tum turn- turn-turn ." It 
is the tune the straw-carrier always makes me think 
of when they are threshing. Every time I hear it I 
think of threshing, and the straw-carrier sticking 

57 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

out of the barn door, and the dust, and Uncle Anthony 
standing there all covered with chaff. 

The tune stops. By and by I hear Lon call out: 
" Ba-al-ance all ! " The fiddles and the treading be 
gin again. This time it is one of the tunes without a 
name. My father can play it on the old fife. It 
always says : " O give-me-a dol-lar-a da-a-ay. . . . 
O give-me-a dol-lar-a da-a-ay. . . . O give-me-a dol- 
lar-a dol-lar-a dol-lar-a dol-lar-a dol-lar-a da-a-ay." 

Lon plays the tune over and over. It makes me 
think of my father, and the way he dances. It makes 
me think of the way he plays the fife. It always 
stretches his lip, and makes it look smooth and shiny. 

The tune makes me think of my mother, too, and 
the way she dances. I like to have Addie say she 
wishes she could dance as nice as my mother. It 
makes me think of Lon and old Ledley. It is nice 
to listen to. 

I almost forget about the supper. I don't care. 
My mother will save me some of the biscuit and 
frosted cake and things. It is nice to be in bed. 

The tune keeps on, over and over again. It always 
says the same thing: "O give-me-a dol-lar-a da- 
a-ay. . . . O give-me-a dol-lar-a da-a-ay. . . . O 
give-me-a dol-lar-a dol-lar-a dol-lar-a dol-lar-a dol- 
lar-a da-a-ay ." It is so plain it is almost like 
talking : " O give-me-a dol-lar-a da-a-ay . . . O 
give-me-a dol-lar-a da-a-ay. . . . O give-me-a give- 
me-a . . . dol-lar-a . . . give-me-a . . . dol-lar-a " 

58 



Jack Washington and Colonel Stanislawski Give 
Temperance Lectures 

THE church won't hold any more. There are 
people from everywhere. My brother and 
Edie and some of the other big boys and girls are in 
the choir. They are all ready to begin as soon as 
the minister and the lecturers come. 

We hear the door open, and someone come in. We 
look around. The minister and Jack come around 
the end of the board screen in front of the door, and 
then Colonel Stanislawski. They go up the aisle to 
the pulpit, and take their coats off. 

The minister kneels down behind the pulpit a 
minute, and then gets up and says : " Brothers and 
sisters, we '11 begin our service this evening by singing 
number two hundred and eighty-six two hundred 
and eighty-six: 'Yield not to Temptation. 5 ' 

He reads the first verse : 

" Yield not to temptation, 

For yielding is sin, 
Each victory will help you 
Some other to win. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Fight manfully onward, 

Darkr passions subdue, 
Look ever to Jesus, 

He '11 carry you through." 

He says again, the way he always does : " Num 
ber two hundred and eighty-six. The first and last 
verses." 

When we get through with the first verse, the minis 
ter calls out: "Now everybody join in on the 
chorus ! " 

We all sing harder than ever. The chorus says : 

" Ask the Savior to help you, 

Comfort, strengthen, and keep you, 
He is willing to aid you, 

He will carry you through." 

After the singing, the minister reads where it says : 
" Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging : and who 
soever is deceived thereby is not wise." He reads in 
another place where it tells about putting the bottle 
to your neighbor's lips. We know he is thinking 
about the saloonkeepers. 

The minister shuts up the Bible, and says : " Let 
us pray ! " He gets down on one knee. 

A lot of people all over the church get down on 
both knees. They have to turn around to do it. 
Little Joe's father gets right out in the aisle. 

My father sits the same way he always does. My 
mother just puts her hand over her eyes. 

Little Joe's father keeps saying : " A-a-ah-men ! 
60 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

A-a-ah-men ! " He says it faster and louder every 
time. He says the " men " part quick and sharp. 
Tip turns around and looks at me. I am always 
afraid I '11 have to snicker when Little Joe's father 
gets to going the way he does. 

There are some others that say *' Amen " a good 
deal, too. And they say " Yes, Lord ! " and " Oh, 
Lord ! " and " Lord, answer prayer ! " The faster 
and louder the minister prays, the more they all do it. 
We can hear them all over the church. 

After the prayer, the minister says : " Brothers 
and sisters, I am not going to preach to you, even if 
it is the Sabbath night. Anything that 'elps tem 
perance 'elps religion. Brother Washington and 
Brother Stanislawski 'ave been lecturing to you the 
past four nights, and to-night by the grace of God 
we want them to crown the work so 'appily begun 
through the week. We '11 'ear first from Brother 
Washington." 

The minister is English. All the Bible Christian 
ministers are English. We have fun trying to talk 
their way. 

The minister sits down. Jack Washington gets 
up and stands by the pulpit. 

We know Jack. He has been here before to lec 
ture, and he staid at our house. He says he likes to 
be called just Jack. He and the Colonel are staying 
at our house this time, too. The temperance lec 
turers always stay at our house. My mother puts 

61 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

them in the parlor bedroom, and makes a fire in the 
parlor stove. 

Jack stands smiling a minute, until everybody is 
quiet. He is good sized, and jolly looking. He puts 
his finger on his forehead, and says : " Do you see 
this here scar on my face? Do you see this here grey 
hair of mine grey long before my time? I 'm goin' 
to tell you now what the liquor traffic 's done for 
me! " 

Jack tells about when he was a young man and 
used to get drunk, and how mean he was to his family. 
When he gets to talking about his mother and his 
wife and little boy, people begin to cry, but pretty 
soon he tells a funny story and they begin to laugh. 

Jack is full of fun. He knows a lot of stories that 
no one has ever heard before. But after he gets 
through with a story, he always pitches into the 
saloons and breweries and the drunkards just the 
same. 

Jack goes for the saloonkeepers worst of all. He 
says : " I understand there are men in this com 
munity that spend their money at the saloons and let 
their wives and children go in poverty and rags and 
suffer from cold and hunger ! " 

When Jack says that, we all hold our breath. We 
know he means Barney. Barney's wife can never go 
anywhere, because she has n't anything to wear, and 
they say the baby died because they did n't keep 
it warm enough one night when he was on a spree. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Jack says : " And I understand you have two 
licensed hell-holes down yonder at the station, selling 
poison, and breeding misery and crime ! " 

It is as quiet as can be. I keep thinking of Char 
ley Binzel and Rudy Weber. They are the saloon 
keepers' boys, and they seem as good as anybody. I 
like Rudy. 

Jack says : " Yes, ladies and gentlemen ! The 
money that should go to feed and clothe their wives 
and children is laid down on the counter in them two 
dens of infamy and sinks of iniquity down yonder! I 
tell you it would be better for them men to have mill 
stones hanged about their necks and be drowned in 
the depth of the sea ! " 

Jack stretches his arm out and points toward the 
depot. We all think of the way the two saloons look. 

When Jack begins again, he shouts : " I tell you, 
ladles and gentlemen, jest so long as we have these 
hell-holes in our midst here in this land of ours, jest 
so long we 're a-goin' to have vice and poverty and 
crime, and jest so long we 're a-goin' to see the widow 
and the orphan laid down on the altar of appetite ! " 

When Jack gets to going like that, no one stirs. 
Once in a while he brings his fist down on the pulpit. 
It makes us all jump. 

After a while Jack begins to talk lower again. My 
father leans over in front and whispers to Grandpa 
Tyler : " By jolly, don't he just give it to 'em? " 

Grandpa Tyler turns his head, and whispers back : 
63 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

" Don't he, though ? Too bad they can't be 'round 
to hear it ! " 

We can tell that Jack is almost through. After a 
while he says he '11 sing us one of his songs. He 
sings one that always ends up : " And the bells go 
chiming on." First it is church bells, then wedding 
bells, then fire bells, then funeral bells, and last of all 
the temperance bells. They all go chiming on. 
There is a place where a mother hears some funeral 
bells. She says : " My boy, my darling boy ! " It 
makes us awfully sorry for her, and Edie's mother 
cries. 



XI 

Jack Sings Temperance Songs, and Pitches into 
the Saloon* 

JACK says : " Now Colonel Stanislawski is goin' 
to address you, and I 'm goin' to take a rest, 
and then maybe after he is done I '11 sing you an 
other song." 

Colonel Stanislawski is full of fun, too. He is a 
big man, with a bald head and without whiskers. He 
talks broken, and is always saying " Ladies and julte- 
men." He is a Polack, but he is n't like the ones we 
know. His whole name is Colonel Count John 
Stanislawski. He says his ancestors were kings in 
Poland. 

The Colonel tells again how he had to leave his 
country, and how he fought against the rebels down 
south in the sixties, and how he is going to spend the 
rest of his days fighting the liquor traffic. He keeps 
us laughing, but sometimes some of the women cry. 

The Colonel does n't talk very long. He says : 
" Now I am not going to keep on any longer, be 
cause Brother Jack here has a lot more to say to you, 
and some more songs to sing." 

Jack gets up again. He says : " Yes, ladies and 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

gentlemen, I have got a lot more to say ! There ain't 
near time to tell you half of what 's on my heart to 
night. I 'm just goin' to tell you a couple of stories, 
and then sing you another song. They 're true 
stories, too, every word of 'em ! You need n't think 
I 'm making 'em up. No sir! You could n't make 
up stories with half the misery and affliction caused 
by the demon drink that they is in real every day 
life!" 

The stories make a lot of people cry. Edie sits 
with her handkerchief over her eyes. But every lit 
tle while they all have to laugh. 

At one place, Jack stops and yells out : " I tell 
you hell is FULL of such iniquity ." We all sit 
still. We are so excited we can't move. We think 
maybe that 's all Jack is going to say in that sen 
tence. But all of a sudden he goes on : " and slop- 
pin' over at every corner." 

That brings the house down. Grandpa Tyler 
slaps his leg. He turns and winks at my father. 

Jack waits until they are almost through laughing. 
He says : " O' course it 's a good thing to laugh, but 
we must never forget the monstrous nature of the 
whiskey traffic, and the blight it is to our beloved 
land ! " 

Jack finishes the stories. He says : " I could tell 
you a lot more just as heart-breakin' and just as true 
as these, but you don't need to be told stories or any 
thing else to realize the enormity of the traffic in 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

strong drink. Now I '11 sing you another song, and 
then I 'm goin' to ask all of you that have n't done it 
the last four days, to come forward and sign the 
pledge." 

Jack's song is about a little girl. Her father goes 
to the saloon and gets drunk and does something bad. 
The little girl's mother sends her to see why he 
does n't come home. 

The first verse is this way. The little girl says 
the words : 

"O mister barkeeper, has father been here? 
He 's not been at home for the day ; 
And now it grows dark, and my mother 's in fear 
Some accident keeps him away." 

Jack turns to one side while he is singing the first 
verse. When he begins the second, he turns to the 
other side. 

The barkeeper says the words in the second : 

"Oh no, little mistress, your father's not here; 
Some officers took him away. 
They've taken him off to the lock-up, I fear; 
He 's done something wicked, they say." 

Then Jack turns the other way again, and sings : 

"Oh, 't was not my father that did the bad deed; 
'T was drinking that maddened his brain. 

let him go back to dear mother, I plead ; 

1 'm sure he '11 not do it again." 

After that, there is a kind of ending, that says : 
67 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

" I 'm sure, I 'm sure, I 'm sure, 
I 'm sure he '11 not do it again." 

Jack says : " Now everybody sing the last verse 
with me ! And if you can't remember all the words, 
come out strong on the ' I 'm sure,' anyway ! " 

Jack holds up his hand. He says : " Now ! 
A-a-all together ! " 

They all sing: 

" Oh, 't was not my father that did the bad deed; 
'T was drinking that maddened his brain. 

let him go home to dear mother, I plead; 

1 'm sure he '11 not do it again. 

I 'm sure, I 'm sure, I 'm sure, 

I 'm sure he '11 not do it again." 

A good many can't remember the first part, but 
they all come out with the " I 'm sure," just the way 
Jack said. 

Jack says : " Now then, when the benediction 's 
over, you come right up and sign the pledge ! And 
when the next 'lection comes 'round, see to it that 
you vote against the curse o' rum ! And you church 
members remember to vote as you pray ! " 

The minister spreads out his hands, and we all look 
down. He says the benediction. 

We all begin to look for our caps and things. 
Just then Jack yells out something. We all 
straighten up and look at him. He says : " They 
say you can't make a whistle out of a pig's tail, but 
that 's a mistake, and I 'm going to show you that 

68 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

you can ! " He reaches into his pocket and takes 
something out and blows it. He holds it up. It is 
crooked like a pig's tail, anyway. We all laugh, and 
begin to talk to each other. 

Grandpa Tyler walks down with us. The lec 
turers are coming later. 

Grandpa Tyler says: "Don't he just give ever- 
lastin' fits to the saloonkeepers, though? " 




My father says : " Sometimes I think 't aint all 
their fault, after all. If folks would n't buy, they 
would n't sell." 

My mother says : " Now, Hi, you know better 
than to talk that way ! If the horrid stuff was n't 
for sale, of course there would n't be the temptation." 

My father says : " Well, anyway, it 's a disrepu 
table business to be in, sure pop ! " 

We walk along a while without saying anything. 

Grandpa Tyler says : " No, sir ! They 's no use 
talkin'. The stuff ain't never done nobody any 
good." He says : " Now, you know, there 's some 

69 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

says they can work better if they have a jug o' 
liquor round, but I don't believe a word they say." 
He says : " Now, there 's that fellow down east o' 
here. I can't think of his name. You know who 
I mean. It 's that Dutchman 't got converted and 
joined the East Church. Well, anyway, he told me 't 
he 'd worked in the harvest field time an' agin, with it 
an' without it, an' 't he could always do more work 
without." 

My father says : " Of course ! It stan's to rea 
son." 

Every little while a cutter or a bob comes jingling 
along behind us, and we have to get out of the road 
till they go by. 

I keep thinking of Rudy and Charley. I wish their 
fathers would sell out, and be farmers. 



70 



XII 

/ Dig a Path, and Get a Ride to School with Walt 

MY mother says : " Hurry up and get through 
with your breakfast! I want you to see if 
you can't shovel the path before you go to school. 
Speckle has so much to do I guess you '11 have to help 
him out." 

It has been snowing all night. It snowed all day 
yesterday, too. It began before Sunday School. It 
has been blowing, too, so that there are big drifts. 
When they went out to do chores they went in over 
their knees. My brother is shoveling out the path to 
the barn now. 

I go out to where my brother is. He is almost 
through. The path where he has n't shovelled yet 
is full of deep tracks where they waded out when they 
went to do chores. He has the big scoop shovel. 

I say : " Can I have the shovel as soon 's you 're 
through? Ma wants me to shovel the front path." 

My brother takes great big shovelfuls. He is soon 
through. When he throws out the last, he tosses the 
shovel toward where I am. It sticks up in the snow. 

I take the shovel around in front of the house, and 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

begin. Right near the veranda there is n't very 
much snow. The wind did n't strike there, so it 
did n't drift. Soon I am as far as the little hick 
ory. 

At the hickory it begins to be deep. I try to 
scoop the snow fast, but it is heavy, and the shovel is 
too big for me. I have to cut down at the sides, and 
go slow. 

The shovel goes down through and hits the stones 
in the gravel walk. When I get as far as the petunia 
bed and the evergreen, I look back. The big chunks 
of snow are piled up on both sides of the path. They 
look fine and white. The sun makes them shine. 
They make me think of white sugar. I don't mean 
granulated sugar, but the kind we always get, with 
lots of lumps in it. 

There is a dip in the ground when I get out almost 
to the road. The snow is so deep there that when I 
stoop over I am almost out of sight. The snow in 
the road is ever so deep, and only two .or three sleighs 
have been along. 

I get all warm. Just as I am through, I see Jim 
coming up from the depot. 

I run in and put the scoop shovel in the woodshed, 
and grab my comforter and dinner pail and run out 
of the front door. Jim is just going by. He sees 
me, and stops to wait. 

We have to walk in the deep ruts. It is hard 
work. I try to walk on the ridge between, but it is 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

too soft there. I keep going in, and every little while 
one foot slips and I almost fall. I begin to feel 
warm. 

Jim says : " Le* 's try the banks ! I bet the crust 
is hard enough to hold us up." 

The banks run along beside the fence. It is a rail 
fence, and the banks are crooked. We wade out. 
Jim goes in over his knees. I go in so far I can 
hardly take the next step. 

Jim says : " It '11 be harder up on top. Le' 's 
climb up there ! " 

But the banks are not very solid. They keep 
breaking. We go in so deep we can hardly get out. 

After a while, Jim says : " 'T ain' no use ! " He 
is in up to his waist, and I am in almost to my shoul 
ders. 

I fall over, and go down almost out of sight. 

Jim laughs. He says : " You want to look out ! 
First thing you know, you '11 go in so far they '11 have 
to dig you out, you 're such a little feller." 

We hear bells coming. 

Jim says : " I bet you it 's the Barretts ! We '11 
get a ride." 

Pretty soon the horses' heads come into sight over 
the little rise in front of Uncle Anthony's. 

Jim says : " Yah, it 's them ! " 

The Barretts drive up every morning while there 
is sleighing. Frank and Joey are the only Bar 
rett boys that come to school now, but there are a 

73 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

lot of boys that pile in on the way. The sleigh is 
full. They are all standing up. Walt is driving. 

We call Walt " Washtub," on account of the 
straw hat he wears in summer. It has a wide brim, 
and comes down over his ears. You can hardly see 
his face. 

I yell at Walt: "Hello, Washtub! Gimme a 
ride?" 

Walt yells at me : " Ah there, Pecky ! Pile in 
with you ! " Walt means peck measure. That 's 
because my hat is little. 

The horses have to pull hard when we come to the 
church hill. The runners go in so far that the axles 
scrape the top of the snow. When we drive into the 
school ground we go in almost up to the box. It is 
like going in a boat. The bob leaves two deep ruts, 
with smoothed-off snow between. There are streaks 
on the smoothed-off part, where the bolts and things 
went. 

We stop at the steps. Walt yells : " Pile out, 
everybody ! " 

We all jump out. We stand and watch Walt turn 
around. The horses go in up to their bellies. The 
sleigh almost floats. All we can hear is the bells, and 
the horses' feet going in. 

The sleigh makes a fine track in a circle. When 
the horses get out of the deep snow and into the road, 
they start off home on the trot. The bells make a 
fine jingling. 

74 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Walt stands in the box and waves his whip at us. 
He yells at me : " So long, Pecky ! " 

I wave my hand, and yell back : " So long, Wash- 
tub!" 



75 



XIII 

We Have Fun in the Snow Before School Calls 

WE go in and set our dinner pails on the shelf. 
We run out again. We run around in the 
snow scuffing our feet. It is up over our knees. 
There is hardly any crust. 

The girls stand on the steps and watch us. 

The snow does n't pack yet, so we can't throw 
snowballs. We run up to the steps and throw hand- 
fuls at the girls. It comes apart and scatters all 
over them. 

Gertie says : " You stop that ! If you do that 
again I '11 wash your face ! " 

Georgie throws some more at her. Gertie jumps 
off the steps and runs after him. She can't catch 
him. When she is going by me, I throw some more 
at her. She turns around quick and catches me and 
washes my face. She throws me down in the snow. 

I get up and laugh at Gertie. I say : " You 
need n't think I care ! " 

I run away to where the snow is deep. I say: 
" How 's Harv these days? " 

Gertie gets red. Harv is a boy over north. She 
says : " Shut up, will you ? Next time you say 
that I '11 put snow right down your neck ! " 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

I run away a little farther, and yell : " How 's 
Harv these days ? " 

Gertie starts after me, but I know she won't come 
out into the deep snow. Georgie throws a handful 
of snow at her and runs away and yells : " How 's 
Harv ? " Then Tip and all the rest begin. We get 
her so mad she does n't know what to do. 

At last Gertie says : " I 'm going to tell teacher, 
so now ! " She runs in, but we know she won't tell. 
Teacher is n't here yet, anyway. 

August and Heiny are standing in the middle of the 
deep snow, looking at us. They have Scotch caps on, 
and have them drawn down over their ears. They 
have white woolen comforters around their necks, 
tied under their chins, and they are not very clean. 
The ends are long and fuzzy. They button them 
inside their coats, and it makes them stick out in 
front. 

August and Heiny look clumsy. Their coats are 
coarse and thick, and make their arms hang down 
stiff. Their mittens are coarse and stiff, too. 
Their caps are down so far they have to hold their 
heads back to see anything. 

Syd takes a run and picks Heiny up and runs 
across the road with him. Heiny's arms and legs 
go, and he begins to yell. Syd gives him a toss, and 
he comes down in the middle of a big snowbank near 
the fence. We can't see anything but a big hole, 
and some black mixed up with the snow. 

77 



Heiny kicks and rolls around, and we all laugh as 
hard as we can. He gets up and stands there cry 
ing. His arms stick straight down. He yells : 
" August ! August ! August ! " He pronounces it 
" Ow-goost." 

August goes and gets Heiny by the hand. He 
says to him : " You don't vant to cry ! De snow 
von't hurt you." August's voice is always hoarse. 

August brushes Heiny off. He takes his cap and 
shakes it, and puts it back on his head. He picks 
Heiny up and starts to carry him out to the road. 
They both fall down, and we laugh again. August 
laughs, too, and pretty soon so does Heiny. 

When they get back where we are, Syd makes be 
lieve he is going to take Heiny again. Heiny runs 
behind August. August says : " Aw, come on, 
don't t'row him in again ! He '11 get all over snow 
and vet, and catch cold. Take somevone else, uf you 
vant to t'row anyvone in." 

Syd says: "All right!" He jumps after Au 
gust. August starts to run. He falls down, and 
Syd falls down over him. They both get up all 
white, and start to run again. Syd catches August, 
and runs and throws him into the biggest snowbank 
he can find. 

August rolls around in the snow on purpose. 
When he gets up he is white all over, and his cap is 
away down over his eyes. 

We all laugh and yell, and run and jump into the 
78 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

bank. We roll around, and throw snow at each 
other, and try to wash each other's faces. 

Georgie climbs up on the fence, and yells: 
" Watch ! I 'm a-goin' to dive ! Watch ! " 

Georgie waits until everybody is looking. Then 
he jumps head first into the bank. He tumbles and 
rolls around, and we can hardly see him. It is a long 
time before he gets up. The snow sticks up on top 
of his cap, and he gets a lot of it down his neck. 

We all get on the fence just as Georgie did, and 
dive all at once. Our faces get all wet. The snow 
gets in our necks and up our sleeves. Some of us 
have our pants tucked in, and our boots get full of 
snow. We don't care for that. 

My brother and Edie come along. The big girls 
are in the windows, watching us. We roll around 
worse than ever. 

Bill says : " Come on, everybody, and le' 's make 
a monkey pile ! " 

We all yell : " All right, come on ! " We pitch 
onto Bill and get him down, and then all pile onto one 
another. August and Heiny get on top. Heiny 
sits on top of August, and claps his hands and laughs 
at the girls in the windows. 

The bell rings. We all start and run over to the 
steps. Georgie gets there first, and goes in after the 
broom. He says to Tip : " You sweep me and I '11 
sweep you. Come on ! " 

They sweep each other off. Bill grabs the broom 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

before Georgie is done, and gets Jim to sweep him 
off. Then he sweeps Jim off. 

When we get through sweeping, we have to sit 
down on the steps and take our boots off. We turn 
them bottom side up and slap them with our hands 
until the snow is all out. 

When we go in, teacher looks at us and laughs. 
He says to Georgie and me : " You 'd better stand 
by the stove a little while, and see if your clothes 
won't dry out." 

We take our books and go to the stove. First we 
stand with our faces toward the stove, and then with 
our backs. 

When we go to our seats, Tip and Bill ask if they 
can stand there. It smells steamy all over the room. 



80 



XIV 

We Make Two Snow Forts at Noon, and Have 
a Battle 

BEFORE noon we can hear the eaves dropping. 
We know the snow will pack. 

Georgie pokes me in the back. I look at the 
teacher. He is n't looking. I turn around a little. 

Georgie whispers : " Give this to Tip." He 
drops a note over into my seat. 

I drop the note over into Tip's seat, and give him 
a poke. He looks at teacher. He is n't sure 
whether teacher is watching or not. He looks at his 
book all the time while he picks up the note and gets 
it unfolded. He unfolds it under the desk, and puts 
it in his book. Pretty soon he looks around. He 
nods at Georgie. 

Georgie whispers to me : " We 're goin' to bring 
our shovels and make a fort." I keep thinking what 
fun that will be. 

When noon comes, Tip and Georgie start for home 
as fast as they can. Tip yells back at Georgie: 
" Few know!" 

Georgie yells : " Get back as quick as you can ! " 
81 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Tip yells: "All right!" They both begin to 
run. 

Bill says to us : " Come on in, and le' 's eat right 
away ! " 

As soon as we are through, we all run out. The 
steps are wet and steaming. In front of them it is 
almost slushy. We try the snow. It packs as nice 
as can be. 

Bill says to Frank and Dan : " Come on, le' 's 
start some balls for the fort ! " 

Jim says : " All right, and we '11 start some, 
too." 

I help Jim. We go over to where the snow is n't 
very deep, so it will be moist away down to the 
ground. We pack a little of it together tight, and 
begin to roll it over and over. It all sticks together, 
and the balls get big right away. 

Jim says: "Don't she pack just fine, though? 
We '11 have a dandy fort in no time. When they 
get here with the shovels, it '11 be all ready for the 
finishin' touches." 

We roll the balls straight ahead a while, and then 
to one side. That keeps them from getting too 
square. Where the snow is thin enough, they leave 
the ground bare, and make big black tracks. 

We make eight big balls, and roll them into two 
lines facing each other. One line is near the bass- 
woods, and the other by second base. We make 
smaller ones to stop up the cracks with. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Tip and Georgie come running with their shovels. 
They fill up all the cracks, and level off the top and 
the sides. In a few minutes we are all read} 7 for the 
battle. 

Bill and Jim choose sides. When anyone gets hit, 
he has to go over to the other fort and fight on that 
side. 

There are so many of us that it is hard for all of 
us to get into the forts. 

Tip says : " Hoi' on ! We got to have some flags 
if we 're a-goin' to have a war. Here, this '11 be 
ourn." He gets a stick and ties his handkerchief 
on it. He sticks it up in the top of our fort. He 
says : " We 're the 'Mericans. Our fort is Bunker 
Hill." 

Jim is really our commander, but Tip just goes 
ahead. He is so interested. 

Bill fixes up his handkerchief on their fort, the 
same way. His handkerchief is red and white. He 
says : " All right, we '11 be the British." 

Georgie says : " The British did n't have a fort, 
though." 

Bill says : " That 's so. I never thought o' 
that." 

Tip says: "Aw, who cares? Le' 's just play 
they did." 

Dan yells out from their fort : " All right, come 
ahead with your bullets, if you want anything! 
We '11 show you, mighty quick." 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Jim and Bill and Tip and Dan all yell " Fire ! " at 
the same time. We begin to let fly. We stand up 
and fire, and dodge when the balls come. 

We hit a lot of their men. Soon we get them all 
on our side except Bill and August. 

August can't throw that far. He just jumps up 
and laughs, and then goes down again quick. Our 
balls hit the top of the fort or go over his head. 

August jumps up and goes down again a good 
many times without getting hit. He comes up with 
his arms sticking straight out sideways and his mouth 
wide open, laughing because we never can hit him. 
He looks so funny that we have to laugh, too. We 
laugh so hard we can hardly throw. 

Tip says : " I tell you what le' 's do throw 
just when he's goin' to come up! That'll be the 
way." 

The next time August comes up, only part of us 
throw. Then we wait a little while, and all begin to 
let fly. Just then August comes up again, with his 
arms out and his mouth wide open. One of the balls 
takes him right in the nose. It smashes to pieces all 
over his face. It hits him just as he begins to yell. 
Part of it goes in his mouth, so that he gives a kind 
of yelp. 

We almost die laughing. We laugh so hard that 
we forget, and Bill hits a couple of our men. Pretty 
soon he has a whole lot of them, and there are only 
Tip and Jim and I. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Bill yells out : " We 're goin' to charge on you 
and capture you now. You better look out ! " 

Tip says to us : " Hurry up, make a hull lot o' 
balls, and have 'em ready ! " 

Bill's side don't throw for a minute. We know 
they are busy making balls, too. 

We get a lot of balls ready, and hold them in the 
hollow of our arms. Then Tip stands in front of us 
and says : " Soldiers, if they mean to have a war, 
let 'em have it now ! Don't fire till you can see the 
whites o' their eyes ! Remember Tippecanoe ! " 

I begin to say : " Aw, that ain't the way you 
want to say it! " But just then Bill's men yell and 
rush out. We jump up, too. The balls begin to fly. 
We are having the most fun of all. 

Then the bell rings. We all stop, and say: 
" A-a-aw, 't ain't no one o'clock yet ! " We throw 
a few more balls, and go in. 

Bill says : " A minute more, an' we 'd 'a 5 had the 
hull o' you!" 

Tip says : " You would, would you ? Well I bet 
you would n't ! " 

Jim says : " Was n't it funny the way that ball 
took August just as he come up? I laughed so hard 
I 'most died." 

Tip says : " That 's how they come to get ahead 
of us. If it had n't V been for that, we 'd V soon 
had 'em all." 



85 



XV 

Edie Is Punished at School, Right in Front of 
My Brother 

TEACHER is hearing A Arithmetic. My 
brother and Edie and Syd and some of the 
other big boys and girls are in it. 

Teacher is figuring on the blackboard, and talking. 
He says : " I don't care whether it says so in the 
book or not ! I can solve any problem this way that 
you want to give me. I don't care what it is ! " 

Teacher's ears are red. When he turns around, 
his nose looks sharp and his lips thin. Some of them 
say he has an awful temper when you get him going. 
They say he gets perfectly furious when they plague 
him about the girls. They say he is engaged to a 
girl at home where he goes every couple of weeks. 

Syd holds up his hand. Teacher says : " What 
is it?" Syd says something. I can't hear it all, 
but it is about an example. 

Teacher says : " All right ! " He puts down 
some numbers that Syd tells him, and begins to fig 
ure. 

Pretty soon teacher stops. His ears look redder 
86 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

than ever. I can see that the example is n't coming 
out the way he wants it to. 

Steve looks at Syd, and winks. I am afraid 
teacher will see him. 

Teacher rubs out the example. He says : " Well, 
I have n't got time now, but I '11 figure it out to 
night and bring it to-morrow." He dismisses the 
class. He looks cross. 

August raises his hand. Teacher says : 
"Well?" August says: " Vill you please write a 
copy for Heiny ? " 

Teacher writes some capitals and little letters on 
the board. Heiny begins to copy. His face looks 
as if it were hard work. It is all wrinkled up, and 
his tongue sticks out. 

I study my arithmetic. We are in fractions. 

Pretty soon I hear teacher say : " You may stand 
by your seat. I want no whispering, and no notes ! " 

I look at teacher. He is looking at someone on 
the girls' side. I look over there. 

Just as I look, Edie gets up. She smiles a little, 
but not very long. She stands holding her geogra 
phy, and looking down at it. She has her blue dress 
and white apron on. Her hair is n't so very long, 
and is a little bit curly. It hangs down her back, 
and has a blue ribbon around it at the back of her 
head. It looks pretty on her blue dress. She has 
bangs, and blue eyes, and her skin is white, except 
when she blushes. 

87 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 



I look at Edie a while, and then I look at my 
brother. My brother's ears are red. He does n't 
look up at all. He has his book open, but I know 
he can't be studying. 

Teacher says : " B Arithmetic ! " 
I get up, and our class goes up to the front seats. 
Teacher gives us some examples to work out on the 
board. Some of us don't go to the board. He asks 
questions of us until, those at the board are done. 

I turn and look at Edie. She has her face down 
toward her book, and is smiling. I know she has 

been looking at some 
one. 

All at once teacher 
stops asking us ques 
tions. He keeps look 
ing at Edie. He is half 
red, and half white, and 
his lips are tight 
together. He says : 
" Edie, were you whis 
pering again? " 

Edie looks at him. 
She tries to smile. She 
says : " Yes, sir." 

Teacher says : " Very 
well, then, you may come 
up to my desk." He 
picks up the ruler. 
88 




A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Edie comes up to the desk. She stands where I 
can see her face. She has her geography. 

Teacher says : " Hold out your hand ! " 

Edie tries to smile again. She puts her teeth over 
her lips. It is just as quiet as can be. We all sit 
watching. I can't help turning around a little to 
look at my brother. He is n't looking up. 

Edie holds out her hand. Teacher brings the 
ruler down. It makes a loud crack, and we all jump. 
He brings it down hard four times. Then he says: 
" You may stand by your seat again." 

I look around at my brother. I see Syd and Steve 
looking at him, too. My brother's ears are red, but 
his face is n't. He looks pale. Jennie and Frankie 
look scared. 

At noon my brother walks home with Edie. When 
we go out to play after dinner, they are standing 
there yet, in front of their gate. Then she goes in, 
and he goes home. 

Just before school calls, they come back together. 
I don't like teacher very well to-day. 

When I get home at night, I run in and tell my 
mother all about Edie and teacher. 

My mother says : " And did she cry ? " 

I say: " No, she just stood and looked pale while 
he brought the ruler down, and then she got red 
afterward." 

My mother says : " I wonder what old Spot 
thought of it." 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

At supper, she says to my brother : " I hear your 
sweetheart got her hands spatted to-day." 

My brother does n't say anything. He is eating 
bread and butter and pork and beans. When he 
bites into the bread his cheeks wrinkle up and his 
eyes shut, the way they always do. 

My mother says : " What was she doing that was 
so awful bad? " 

My brother keeps on eating a while. He does n't 
look up. Then he says : " Oh, she was whisper- 
in'." 

My brother gets red after he says it. He eats the 
beans in big forkfuls. 

My father says : " Well, you 're pretty young 
yet to be goin' with one girl so much. My stars, 
you're only children! It 'd be just as well if you 
wa'n't quite so thick." 

My brother keeps on eating. He presses his knife 
flat against the plate to get all of the beans that are 
left, and scrapes the knife on his fork. He puts the 
fork into his mouth, and lays it down on his plate. 
He gets up and goes after the milk pails, and goes 
out. 

My mother says : " I don't know as I blame her 
mother for making such a fuss, with Edie so young." 
She says : " But after all, I don't really think 
there 's any need to worry. That 's the way boys 
and girls are." 

My father says : " Well, anyway, it 's about time 
90 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

we put a stop to his goin' to see her every single 
night. He better stay home once in a while, and pay 
more attention to his lessons." 



XVI 

My Father and Uncle Anthony Shovel out the 
Road, and We See a Snowplough 

IT snowed again yesterday, all day and all night. 
And it blew, too. 

My father says : " Well, I guess we '11 have to 
warn out a man or two, and shovel out here and there, 
or teams won't be able to get through." 

My father is pathmaster. Sometimes they call it 
" road boss." Every spring he has to oversee when 
they work on the road, and when there is too much 
snow he has to call some of the men out to clear 
away. 

My father says to my brother : " S'posing you 
go over to Uncle Anthony's and see if he won't come. 
We '11 see to some o' the worst places, anyway." 
He says : " We might as well be workin' out some o* 
the taxes now when there 's nothing to do, as in the 
spring." 

My brother has to wade through the front yard 
and across the road. He can hardly get Uncle An 
thony's gate open far enough to squeeze through. 
After a while he comes back and goes out to hitch 

93 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

up. They are going to leave our paths till they get 
back. 

It is n't so very cold. I ask if I can go along with 
them. I get my comforter and pull my Scotch cap 
down over my ears. I don't have an overcoat. My 
mother says boys are so warm-blooded they don't 
need overcoats. 

Pretty soon Uncle Anthony comes over with his 
shovel. We start up the road toward the church. 
The old marcs wallow through the snow even where it 
is level. 

When they come to a drift, my brother and my 
father and Uncle Anthony get out and clear away 
till my father says : " That '11 do. I guess we can 
make a track now." 

When they all get out, I hold the lines. If it is n't 
a very big drift, my brother shovels it alone. 

When we go by Edie's mother's, my brother keeps 
looking at their windows. I look, too. We don't 
see anybody. 

We go as far as the schoolhouse, and turn around. 
We go back north past our house down to the de 
pot. 

There is a team hitched in front of one of the sa 
loons. We can see where it came from, over north. 

Uncle Anthony says : " Well, they 've got 
through from up that way. Ain't no use of us goin', 
is they?" 

My father says : " I don't s'pose they really is. 
94 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

But had n't we better take a turn up and back any 
way, and kind o' wear a path for the rest? " 

We go past the saloons up by Grandpa Tyler's 
and as far as the bottom of the burying ground hill. 
Then we come back to the depot and stop. 

There won't be any trains to-day, though, by the 
looks of the tracks. Most of the way we can't see 
the rails. The water tank has a thick white cap on. 
There is smoke going up from the depot and the 
store. 

Mr. White is clearing off the store steps. He 
shovels first, and then sweeps. They are clearing 
the snow away over by the saloons, too. 

Uncle Anthony says to Mr. White : " White, 't 
was quite a storm, wa'n't it? " 

We sit and watch Mr. White sweep. Uncle An 
thony says: " Goin' to git some more, think? " 

Mr. White looks up at the sky. He says : 
" Looks a good deal like it, sure 's you 're alive ! " 

He finishes the sweeping, and strikes the broom on 
the steps to get the snow out. He says : " Another 
night like last night, and you '11 have to go without 
your Patriot longer 'n you ever did yet. As 't is, 
there ain't been anything along since number three 
last night. They run the flanger out just before." 

I know what the flanger is. I saw it go through 
once. It is a box car with iron things at the bottom 
to clear the rails. The man in it lifts the flangers 
with a lever every time they come to a crossing or a 

95 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

culvert. He has to know every crossing or culvert 
on the line. If he did n't, he 'd tear up the planks, 
or else break the flangers. 

Mr. White says : " Johnnie tells me they 're goin' 
to run the snowplough out this mornin'." 

Just as Mr. White picks up the shovel to go in, 
he stops and looks down toward the old stone tank, 
where the tracks go around the curve out of sight. 
He says : " Hello, there she comes now ! Funny ! I 
did n't hear her whistle for the John Green crossin'. 
Did you?" 

Uncle Anthony says : " No, I don't know as I 
did." 

We watch them come. The engine and the smoke 
are as black as can be. Every little while the snow 
flies up in the air, and we can hardly see the engine. 
Then they strike a clearer place, and there is n't any 
snow. 

They whistle for the depot. My father says: 
" Well, s'posin' we drive across and see 'em come in." 

My brother and I jump out and run ahead. We 
can't wait. When we get around to the depot door 
on the other side, Johnnie is standing there looking 
down the track. 

Just before they get to the depot, there is a big 
drift. The plough goes plumping into it, and the 
snow flies both sides and up into the air. The engine 
almost stops, and has to puff hard to get through. 

The engine comes rumbling and clanking along, 
96 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

and stops in front of us. The engineer is in the 
window. It is old Jim Little. Jim has been on the 
road ever since anyone can remember. 

Johnnie goes out to the engine, and says : " Jim, 
how you makin' it? Think number one '11 be out 
this afternoon ? " 

Jim swings down, and begins to oil. He says : 
" Hard tellin'. It 's all right from Town out this 
fur, o' course, but I don't know how much furder 
we 're a-goin' to git. There 's them deep cuts up the 
line, you know. We been almost stuck more 'n once 
as 't is, an' if she blows up agin some more, we '11 be 
stalled for sure." 

Jim looks up at the sky, and shakes his head. He 
is old and thin, and has grey hair. 

My father says : " Well, Anthony, le' 's get along 
home. Come on, boys I" 

I say to my brother : " Ask him to wait till the 
snowplough goes. Will you? " 

My brother says : " Ask him yourself ! You got 
a tongue, ain't you? " 

I go up to my father and say : " Pa, can't you 
wait till the snowplough goes ? " 

My father looks down at me. He says : " Oh 
pshaw! Who knows how long they'll stay here?" 

I say : " Oh, they 're getting ready now. See ? " 

Old Jim climbs up into the cab. The fireman 
rings the bell. The engine makes a steaming noise, 
and goes clanking across the wagon road and past 

97 



the switches. It hardly has to puff at all, because it 
has n't any cars to pull. 

When they get beyond the tank, the snow begins 
to fly again. It shoots out, and then makes a kind 
of spray. We watch it until they are past the trees 
up near the bullhead hole. 

Uncle Anthony says : " She ain't stuck so fur, 
anyway. But they 's no tellin' what '11 happen up in 
them cuts." 

We go up the hill toward home. The flakes are 
beginning to come down again. We stop to shovel 
out a little deeper in front of Mr. White's, and then 
stop for Uncle Anthony to get out. 

Uncle Anthony says : " Oh, you need n't to 
stopped. I could 'a' just dropped off without." 

The snow is coming down fast now, and the wind is 
getting strong. 

Uncle Anthony says : " Well, Hi, it 's my opin 
ion, the way it looks now, 't we '11 have the hull thing 
to do over again to-morrow." 

My father says : " I should n't wonder a bit ! " 
He begins to smile. He says : " No tellin', maybe 
you '11 have to miss church to help clear out the 
roads." 

Uncle Anthony laughs. He says : " Like as 
not!" 

My father and Uncle Anthony hardly ever go to 
church unless there is a funeral. Grandpa Tyler 
and Mr. White are just the same. 

98 



XVII 

There Is a Big Snow Storm, and the " Youth's 
Companion " Does n't Come 

WE hear my brother and my father come in 
through the woodshed door. They stamp a 
great deal, and then we hear them sweeping the snow 
off their feet and out of the door. They come in and 
wash. 

My father says : " I declare, it 's all you can do 
to see from the barn to the house ! Makes me think 
of what they say about the blizzards out in Dakota." 

We all sit down to dinner. My mother says : " I 
read of a man out there the other day that got lost 
going from his house to his barn. When it cleared 
up, they found him within a stone's throw of the barn. 
'T ain't safe to go out without holding on to a rope 
tied to your house, out there, they say." 

We have fried salt pork, potatoes and gravy, and 
onions sliced in vinegar. My brother sits and eats 
without saying anything. When I ask him for 
things, he passes them without stopping or looking 
at me. 

When we get through, I get up and look out 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 




through the north window. The glass is all steam. 
I rub the steam off with my hand. I can just see 
the barnyard fence, and that 's all. Everything is 
all white. 

My father says : " Anthony was right about the 
road. We '11 have it to do all over again to-mor 
row." 

The window sill outside is all snow. The wind 
makes a rushing noise. The snow makes a little 
ticking sound when it blows onto the glass. In some 
places the steam is beginning to turn to frost. 

My father says : " This is about the worst we 've 
had yet, ain't it? Seems to me we 're getting a good 
deal o' snow this winter." 

We all sit around and read. At half past two, I 
say : " I guess I '11 go down to the depot." 

I always go down to meet the three o'clocks on 
Saturday, because that is the time the Youth's Com 
panion comes. 

My brother says: "Well, you must be sick! 
You think they '11 be any trains through to-day? " 

But I keep thinking of the Companion and the con- 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

tinued story. I think of the way Mr. White tears 
the wrapper off the bundle, and folds every paper 
and puts it in the right place. I think how smooth 
the paper feels, and of the fresh paper smell. 

I put my cap and comforter and mittens on, and 
go down the hill. The snow is so deep I can hardly 
walk, and I soon get warm and out of breath. The 
wind blows the snow into my face until I can hardly 
see. 

When I get half way down the depot hill, I can see 
that the rails are all covered up. No one would 
know there was a railroad track there, if it weren't 
for the switches. 

There is nobody in the store but Mr. White. 
When I go in, he is reading a newspaper. 

Mr. White looks at me over his glasses. He says : 
" I 'm awful 'fraid you won't get your Companion 
to-day." 

I say : " I thought maybe that 's how it would 
be, but I thought it might come." I feel disap 
pointed. 

Mr. White says : " The girls '11 be sorry. And 
hanged if I know what to do without it myself, I 'm so 
used to havin' it come Saturday. I kind o' like it for 
part o' my Sunday readin'." 

Mr. White gets up and looks at the clock. He 
says : " Quarter to three. Well, I s'pose I must 
get at the mail. I know mighty well they won't be 
no trains out to-day, but I s'pose I '11 have to get 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

it ready same 's if they was comin'. The gover'ment 
's mighty strict about the mail." He is always tell 
ing about how strict the government is. 

Mr. White goes behind the counter where the mail 
case is. He says : " Of course, they might come, 
but then I don't much expect it." He takes a bunch 
of letters out of one of the holes in the case, and picks 
up his stamp. 

First he stamps all the postage stamps. That is 
to cancel them. Then he takes another stamp, and 
stamps the date. 

Mr. White is very careful, and brings the stamp 
down hard on the letter right in the same place, and 
then presses on it. Sometimes he stamps one again. 
He says : " The gover'ment wants 'em stamped so 's 
you can see the date and the name o' the post office 
good and plain." 

When he is through stamping, he ties the letters 
all up together with some coarse, woolly string. He 
cuts the string with his scissors, and says: 
"There!" 

Then he puts the packet of letters in the mail bag. 
The bag is leather, and has rivets around the bottom 
and up the side, and leather handles. At the top, 
Mr. White runs a long strap through a lot of iron 
things, and locks it. He pushes it out on the coun 
ter. 

.Johnnie comes in. He stamps his feet, and knocks 
the snow off his cap. He says : " You need n't 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

mind about the mail to-day, White. Everything 's 
laid off on both lines." 

Then he says to me: "Well, you might just as 
well go on home now. You won't get no letter from 
her to-day." 

Johnnie is always making fun of me that way. 
He pretends I like the girls. 

I start home. At the top of the hill I meet Tip. 
He has to lift up the rim of his cap to see me. 

I say : " Everything 's laid off on both lines. 
Johnnie just said so. No Youth's Companion to 
day!" 

Tip says : " A-aw, now we got to wait till Mon 
day to see how the story 's a-goin' to come out ! " 

We stand there a minute. Tip says : " Maybe 
it '11 stop, and number one '11 get out to-night before 
the store is shut." 

I say : " No, Johnnie said everything was laid off 
for to-day." I say : " Come on back home with 
me!" 

Tip says : " I can't." 

I say : " Why can't you ? " 

Tip says : " 'Cause. I got to get a pound o' 
sugar for auntie. Pa said I had to." 

We say good-bye, and I start on home. The wind 
blows so hard on my back that it almost blows me 
over. 



101 



XVIII 

It Is Cold at School, and Teacher Lets Us Do 
as We Please 

IT is a terribly cold morning. It always seems as 
if Monday could be colder than any other morn 
ing in the week. 

My mother says to me : " Yes, of course you '11 
go ! There '11 be sure to be a few there, and you 
don't want to miss. Hurry up, it 's quarter to nine ! 
You can run on the crust, and be there in no time." 

I break in a little going through the front yard, 
but the banks along the road hold me up all right. 
It makes a nice, crisp sound when I run. My tracks 
hardly show at all, the crust is so hard. I keep 
going up and down, because the banks are high in 
some places and low in others. They wind in and 
'out, just the way the rail fence does. 

Once when I run down between two high parts my 
foot goes through, and I go down flat. I break the 
crust in all around. My pail flies open, and some of 
the bread and butter rolls out. I put it back and 
get up and run on. 

My comforter comes up over my nose. It gets 
warm and wet around my mouth, and smells of the 
wool. There is a little ice on the outside of it. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

The schoolhouse is almost empty. Teacher is fix 
ing the fire. There are only five or six scholars. It 
is cold and frosty all over the room. We can see our 




breaths. The window panes are all thick frost. 
There is smoke in the room. 

Teacher says : " You 'd better keep your things 
on and stay near the stove for a while, till it gets 
warmer." 

We hear someone come into the entry. They 
stamp and then sweep off. It is my brother and 
Edie. They both come in through the girls' door. 
He always carries her books when she has any. 

By and by there is louder stamping. The door 
opens, and Syd and little Joe come in. Little Joe 
blows his fingers. 

My brother looks at Little Joe. He says : " Joe, 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

you got a frozen ear ! Better hurry up and get some 
snow on it ! " 

Little Joe says: " Oh, go on, w'at you givin' me? 
You 're a-tryin' to 'oax me. I know you ! " 

Syd says : " No he ain't, Joe. 'Cross my heart ! 
It 's plum white, I '11 leave it to Edie." 

We all run to look at Little Joe's ear. It is white 
all around the rim. Little Joe looks at Syd and my 
brother to see if they really mean it, and runs out 
with his hand on his ear. He comes right back, hold 
ing a big handful of snow up to it. He stands by the 
stove with the snow on his ear quite a while. It be 
gins to melt and run down the side of his face. 

Syd says : " That 's long enough. Take it off 
now." 

Little Joe takes the snow off. His ear is bright 
red. He feels of it. He says : " I s'pose it '11 be 
gin to sting pretty soon. I don't see 'ow it could of 
'appened. I never felt nothink ! " 

Teacher calls school. He just rings the bell at 
the desk, and does n't go to the door at all. There 
are only ten or twelve of us. 

We all stand by the stove as much as we want to. 
Teacher hears the classes sitting in the aisle near the 
stove. He does n't care about the rules at all. He 
is good-natured. We all like him. 

My brother and Edie stand by the stove quite a 
long time. They whisper all they want to. 

Little Joe's ear is thick and red. Every little 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

while he puts his hand against it. When we look, he 
points at it, and shakes his head, and draws in his 
breath through his teeth. He whispers that it 
haches. 

At noon it is a good deal quieter than other days. 
There are n't so many of us. Teacher has his din 
ner to-day, too. He has it in a little basket, and sits 
up behind the desk with it. We watch him eat. We 
don't say very much. 

My brother and Edie eat dinner together in her 
seat. We can't hear what they say. 

When we get through, we go to the entry for a 
drink. The water pail has thick ice in it. We 
break it. When we drink, little pieces of ice try to 
get into our mouths. 

We go in again. Tip says : " Come on over here 
to the window, and watch me stick a penny on the 
frost." He presses a penny against the pane till it 
sticks. 

Syd comes and sticks a quarter there. Syd al 
ways has money in his pocket. Tip and I are always 
talking about what we would buy if we only had as 
much money as Syd. 

The money gets stuck so tight that it won't come 
off. Syd says : " You have to press your thumb on 
till the penny is warm, so it '11 thaw the frost and let 
it off." 

Tip says : " Aw, I know that ! I done this be 
fore." 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

After school calls, I hold up my hand and say to 
teacher: " Can I sit with Tip this afternoon? " 

Teacher says : " Yes, if you '11 be good boys." 

That makes Bill think he 'd like to sit with some 
one. He holds up his hand and asks if he can sit 
with Georgie. 

Pretty soon August holds up his hand, too. He 
says: " Can I set by Fritz a little vhile? " 

Teacher smiles. He says : " I s'pose so." He 
says: "Anybody else? I s'pose you all want to 
change seats now." 

Gertie holds her hand up. Teacher says : " All 
right," almost before she has it up. He laughs. 

Tip and I work examples together for a while. 
Then we write. Then we have a game of tit-tat-toe. 
Tip knows a way he can beat every time, if you let 
him have first. 

When we get home after school, my mother says : 
" Well, who was at school ? " 

I tell her all of them. When I come to my brother 
and Edie, my mother says : " Oh yes, of course 
she 'd be there if he was." She says it as if she were 
glad of it. 

My brother looks cross at me. When we get out 
in the woodshed, and he is putting on his overalls, he 
says : " What you want to go and blab everything 
for?" 



108 



XIX 

My Father Begins to Tap Trees in the Sugar-bush 

MY mother says : " What a fine spring morn 
ing ! Is n't it nice to think we sha'n't have 
any more awful cold ? " 

My father says to my brother and me : " Well, 
to-day 's Saturday, and you 're both home. I guess 
we '11 get the pails and spiles set around by the trees. 
The sap may begin to run any time now, and we want 
to be ready." 

My father eats a few more buckwheat cakes. We 
are having the last of the buckwheat flour this week, 
and the last of the pork sausage with the sage in it. 

By and by my father says : " I should n't wonder 
a great deal if it 'd run to-day." 

He gets up from the table. He says to my 
brother : " You might go out and hitch up the old 
mares. While you 're doin' it we '11 go over to the 
shop and finish the spiles and bring 'em." 

My father and I go across to Uncle Anthony's 
shop. My father keeps all his tools there, and goes 
there to do his carpenter work. There is a big bas 
ketful of spiles all made, and a little pile of square 
pine sticks. They are about half a foot long. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

My father fastens one of the sticks in the vise. 
He takes his bit and brace and bores a hole into the 
end of the stick, lengthways, about half way through. 
Then he takes the drawshave and cuts away from the 
upper side of the stick until he comes to the hole he 
bored. After that, he gouges a little round trough 
all the way to the end of the spile. Then he whittles 
down the end he bored into, until it fits into a hole he 
has in the side of the bench. He throws the spile 
into the basket with the rest. 

My father has only a few more to make. When he 
is through, he takes the big basket and I take the 
little one, and we carry them over to our barn and 
put them in the sleigh. 

My brother has the sleigh all ready, and we all get 
in. He drives out to the brush west of the house, 
and down through and across to the woods. 

The snow is half gone. Once in a while there are 
bare spots, except in the brush and woods. The 
crust is so hard the horses' feet almost get caught in 
it when they cut through. 

We drive through the big trees and up the hill to 
the sap-house. My father takes the door out, and 
he and my brother carry out the pails. They are in 
tall columns. I see the sheet iron pan in there. It 
makes me think of the time Tip and I blacked up with 
soot from the bottom of it and played nigger show. 

They put the pails in the sleigh, as many as they 
can, and we drive around in the woods with them. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Every little way we leave a column of pails, and 
enough spiles to go around. I jump off and on. It 
is fine running around on the hard crust. The snow 
is n't very deep anywhere except in the hollows fac 
ing north. 

Pretty soon my father says : " Well, 't ain't so 
cold as I thought it was this morning when I got up. 
If it keeps on at this rate, I believe I can begin to tap 
this afternoon. It 's almost thawing now." 

My brother drives on. We unload some more 
pails. When we get all the load off, we drive back to 
the sap-house for more. 

My brother says : " How many of 'em are there 
all together ? Did you ever count 'em ? " 

My father says : " I expec I '11 tap near on to 
four hundred this year. It 's goin' to take some lit 
tle time to get around to 'em all." 

All at once my father points to a tree. He says : 
" There, look at that ! See that woodpecker over on 
that tree? There's sap running down, and he's 
drinkin' it. By jolly, if sap '11 run for woodpeckers 
it '11 run for us ! I '11 get right at it ! " 

My father says to me : " You run up to the sap- 
house and get me the bit and brace and hammer, 
and I '11 begin right away. See how fast you can 
go!" 

I go dodging through the trees across the hollow 
and up the sap-house hill. I am soon back. 

My father takes the bit and brace. He says to 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

my brother : " You can finish leaving the pails, and 
by that time your ma '11 want us for dinner." 

My father sits down on his toes in front of a tree. 
He bores into it a couple of inches or more. He does 
it almost always on the south side, because he says 
it is warmer on that side. He draws the bit out, and 
pokes the chips out of the hole with his finger. Some 
drops of sap come rolling out, too. Then I hand him 
a spile. He drives it in with two or three little taps 
of the hammer. I have a pail ready to put under. 
I make sure it is firm and won't tip over. 

We stand and wait a while, and watch the hole in 
the spile. All of a sudden the sap comes out, and 
runs down to the end of the spile and begins to drop 
into the pail. It makes a noise like dup, dup, dup, 
dup! 

My father says : " Well, well ! if they all run like 
that, 't ain't a-goin' to take long to get me pretty 
busy ! " 

We go on to another tree. After the first two or 
three, my father stops waiting to see whether the sap 
comes out. But I like to stand there until I see it 
come, and hear it go dup, dup, dup, dup! 

My father says : " That 's right, you watch it. 
If it don't come, run the stem of a leaf or something 
in, and see if that won't start it. Sometimes I might 
not get all the chips out, and they might stop it 
up." 

After a while I run back to the first tree. I pick 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

the pail up, and drink what is in it. It is cool and 
sweet, but there is n't very much. I wish it would 
run faster. 



113 



XX 

Tip and Bill and Georgie Go with Me to the Arch 

SCHOOL is out. We grab our pails and run out 
and across the yard and up the road toward the 
woods. 

Bill says : " I wonder if it '11 be brown yet. Do 
you think it will ? " 

I say : " I don't know. He began to boil down 

/ o 

this forenoon." 

We run so fast we soon begin to puff. Tip says : 
" Hoi' on ! I got the sideache ! " He finds a place 
where the snow is all off, and leans away over as far 
as he can and lifts up a stone and spits in the place 
where it was. He puts the stone back right in the 
same place. 

Georgie says: "Cure it?" 

Tip says : " O 5 course ! That always cures it. 
I never knew it to fail." 

We start to run again. Bill says : " Dast you 
ask your father for a drink of it if it J s brown ? " 

I say : " / don' know. Maybe." 

We come to the woods. We jump over the fence 
and start down the hill on the run. We go so fast it 
is all we can do to keep from running into the trees. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Pretty soon there are pails all around. We stop 
and look into them. There is n't a great deal of sap 
in them. My father must have gathered from this 
side of the woods this forenoon. 

Some of the pails are red, and some are green, and 
some blue, and some yellow and striped. We can see 
them all over the woods. 

George says : " Come on ! Le' 's have a drink ! 
I 'm goin' to get one out o' this nice green pail." 

Bill says : " Oh, I 'm goin' to wait and see if we 
won't get a drink o' the nice brown out o' the big pan. 
Come on ! " 

We can see the sap-house down there through the 
trees. There is smoke and steam coming up from 
the arch. We start and run harder than ever. 

When we get near the arch, we slow down. We 
walk, and we don't talk so loud. The boys let me go 
first. We are all out of breath. 

There is black smoke coming out of the sheet iron 
chimney at the end of the arch. Right behind it is 
the big black kettle. The kettle is steaming quite a 
little. But the steam is just rolling off the big sheet 
iron pan that is over the main part of the arch. It 
is so thick that when we walk through it every 
thing is white. It feels warm, and has a sweet 
smell. 

My father is putting some long sticks of wood into 
the fire under the big pan. There is a big blaze in 
there. He sets a big piece of sheet iron up in front 

115 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

of it for a screen. He has a board from the sap- 
house for a seat. It is fixed up on two logs, and has 
a tree for a back where he sits. 

After he has the wood in, he goes and sits down 
again. He puts one leg over the other, and clasps 
his hands on his knee. He looks at the fire under the 
screen. 

We go up to the side of the big pan, and look in. 
We stand on the side where the steam does n't blow 
on us. 

Tip says : " Kin you see it down in there? " 

Georgie looks, and I look. Bill stoops over until 
his face is close to the steam. We can't see anything 
but white steam. We can hear it boiling, down there 
under the steam. 

All of a sudden Georgie says : " There ! I saw 
it just as plain ! " 

Tip says : " So 'd I." 

Bill says : " Yes, you did ! In a pig's eye you 
did!" 

I look again. I see it, too, after a while. It is 
brownish, and full of bubbles. It boils like every 
thing. 

Bill says : " How did it look ? I could n't see 
nothin'. Was it brown, hey ? " 

Tip says: " You bet it was ! It looked just like 
coffee." 

Bill stands right close to me. He pokes me with 
his elbow. 

116 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

I say: "Stop! What 're you doin'? What's 
the matter with you? " 

Bill whispers : " Come on ! You know ! Go 
ahead ! " I know Bill wants me to ask my father for 
some of the sap out of the pan. I don't like to. 

Bill whispers again: "Don't you dast ask him? 
Go ahead ! He won't care. Come on ! " He wipes 
his mouth with the back of his hand. 

I stand still a while. Then I go over to where my 
father is sitting. He is reading a book now. 

I stand right near, and wait until my father looks 
up. I say : " Pa, can we have a little o' the sap 
out o' the big pan ? " 

My father thinks a while. He says : " Yes, I 
guess we can afford you a drop or two. You must n't 
take too much, though. You don't want to make 
yourself sick. And of course you must n't forget 
what a lot o' work it takes to make it." 

I go and get the dipper. I step up to the pan, 
and lower the dipper into the steam. I can't see the 
dipper and the sap at all. I can just feel the sap. 
It boils so hard it moves the dipper. 

I dip some sap, and lift it out. There is n't very 
much. 

Bill whispers : " Dip in again ! That ain't 
enough to go 'round. Dip in deeper ! " 

I hold the dipper up and pour out the sap so they 
all can see. Georgie says : " M-m-m-m ! Ain't it 
fine ? " Bill wipes his mouth again. 

117 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

I clip in a little deeper. It steams in the dipper 
when I take it out. 

Georgie says : " We must be careful and not burn 
our mouths. We must set the dipper in some snow 
first." 

I set the dipper down on some snow by the sap- 
house. I work it in a little, so it won't fall or slip. 
We all stand and look at it. The sap is nice and 
brown. We can't see the bottom of the dipper. 

Bill gives me a poke. He says : " Come on ! 
It 's cool enough now." 

I pick up the dipper. I hand it to Tip first. Tip 
drinks a little, and hands it to Bill. Bill almost 
grabs it. 

Bill drinks. Georgie stands looking at him. He 
has his hand all ready to take the dipper. 

Bill drinks so long that Georgie gives his arm a 
little shove. 

Bill says : " Look out ! What you doin'? Want 
to make me spill it ? " 

Georgie says : " I 'm 'fraid they won't be none 
left if you don't stop." 

Bill gives him the dipper. He says : " All right, 
take it then, if you want it so bad ! " 

Georgie drinks, and I take what is left. It is n't 
much, but I know I can have more some other time. 



118 



XXI 

I Help My Father Gather Sap and Boil Down 

TIP says : " Le' 's carry up some o' that wood 
for your father." 

Georgie says : " All right, come on ! " 

My father has been chopping up some old dead 
limbs at the bottom of the hill. We carry quite a 
pile of it, and put it near where he sits. 

My father says : " That '11 save me quite a few 
steps." 

After a while, Bill says : " Well, I got to go. I 
got chores to do." 

I go with the boys as far as the road fence at the 
top of the woods. We stand talking a minute. 

Georgie says to me : " Your father taps more 
trees 'n any of 'em, don't he? " 

Bill says: "Yes, you bet your boots he does! 
An' he can boil down better 'n the hull of 'em, can't 
he?" 

I say : " Some night when my brother is boiling 
down, le' 's ask him to let us come along. Shall we? " 

Tip says : " Yes, you bet you ! And we '11 boil 
eggs in the pan, and bake some potatoes in the coals. 
Won't we?" 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Bill says : " We '11 ha v e fun playin' hide-and-go- 
seek and tellin' stories." 

Georgie says : " Yah, you can have lots o' fun 
that way." 

Bill says : " I '11 show you how to make a live coal 
explode, too. You just lay it on a piece of iron, 
and spit on it first, and then you hit it a good crack 
with a hammer, and it '11 go off and make a noise as 
loud as a cannon." 

Georgie says : " Aw, go on ! S'pose we believe 
that ? You can't either do it ! " 

Bill says: " I can't, hey? Well I bet I can, and 
I '11 show you ! You need n't think you 're so 
smart ! " 

Georgie says: " You will, will you? All right! " 

BiU says : " Yes, I will, if you want to know ! " 

Georgie says : " M-hm ! As loud as a cannon." 

Bill says : " Oh, well, maybe not quite as loud as 
a reg'lar cannon. But anyhow, as loud as a re- 
vawlver." 

Bill is always saying " revawlver," and he says 
" hawler " instead of holler. 

I go back to the arch. My father is just putting 
the big basswood yoke on his shoulders. At the ends 
he has pieces of clothesline, with hooks. He carries 
two big pails at a time. The pails hold more than 
two wooden pailfuls. 

My father says : " You might come along, I 
guess, and empty the pails for me. Then I won't 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

have to stop and set the pails down so many times. 
Every little helps, you know." 

We go down into the hollow near the spring. 
There are five or six big, black-barked maples down 
there. The pails are running over. 

My father says : " I declare, how these black- 
barked ones do give down ! " He goes up to the trees 
one after another, and I pour the sap into his 
pails. 

My father says : " Look out ! Be careful and 
don't slop it ! You must n't forget it 's a sort of 
blood from the tree, and we must n't waste it." 

It makes a heavy load for my father, going up the 
hill to the arch. He is all out of breath when he 
empties the big pails into the barrel. 

I say : " Pa, why don't you use the stone boat, or 
the sleigh, or wheels, or something, with a barrel, like 
the Bradleys?" 

My father says : " Oh, I 'm 'fraid our sugar-bush 
is too uneven and stony for that." 

We start down the hill again. My father says: 
" And besides, I 've always done it this way, and I 
like to. We used to do it this way when I was a boy, 
'way back where I come from." 

We go down to the black-barked trees again. 
When the big tin pails are full, my father says: 
" Well, that finishes the gathering for this time. But 
it 's running a good lively clip, and I spect I '11 have 
to begin to gather again to-morrow morning." 

121 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

We start back. My father says : " You see it 's 
quite a little work to make maple sugar." 

When we get up to the arch, my father empties 
the pails again. We sit down in front of the fire 
place and rest. We sit quite a while. 

At last my father says : " Well, I guess we better 
fix things up a little and go home to supper." 

He takes the big dipper and pours a lot of the hot 
sap out of the big black kettle into the sheet iron 
pan. He fills the kettle up with sap out of the barrel. 
Then he puts a few sticks into the fire, and fixes the 
big piece of sheet iron up in front of it. 

He says : " Well, come on ! I guess that '11 keep 
it boiling all right till I get back after chores." 

We start down the hill toward home. The sun is 
just going down. It looks bright red through the 
trees. The trees look black over that way, but the 
other way they are lighter. The air is fine and 
cool. 

My father says : " It '11 freeze again to-night. 
It 's beginning already. That 's just what we need 
for sugar frosty nights, and thaw in the day 
time." 

Our feet crunch on the snow. It is nice and easy 
walking when the snow is hard and almost gone this 
way. 

I say : " Pa, can I come along some night when 
you 're boiling down ? " 

My father says : " Yes, sometime when I 'm goin' 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

to get done earlier. It '11 be pretty late to-night, 
and your ma would n't want you out so long. 
There 's all that in the barrels, you see, and it '11 take 
quite a while." 



138 



XXII 

My Father and Mother Sugar Off, and Make Syrup 

I TUCK the mail into my inside pocket. 
Mr. White says : " 'S your father begun to 
make sugar yet? Seems to me this is the sort o' 
weather for it." 

I say : " Yes, he boiled down yesterday for the 
first time. We 're going to sugar off to-night, I 
guess." 

Mr. White says : " Say, tell him to save me a 
gallon o' syrup and two or three pounds of the sugar, 
will ye?" 

When we are through supper, my father says to 
my mother : " Well, shall we try to sugar off to 
night?" 

My mother says : " Well, 7 'm all ready. I 
s'posed of course you was going to." 

My father says : " All right, then. As soon as 
we come in from chores, le' 's begin." He gets up. 

He says : " I s'pose it might be heating while 
we 're gone. I '11 put some of it on, sha'n't I ? " 

My father gets the deep, black iron pan with the 
handles at the ends. My mother and I hold a piece 
of white cloth for him, and he pours one of the tin 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

pails full of syrup through. He brought them home 
last night after we were all asleep. It fills the pan 
half full. 

At the Bradleys' they sugar off in the sap-house. 
We always do it at home. My father says : " Of 
course it makes your ma a little more work, but all 
the things are here, and it 's handier. And then, I 
guess she kind o' likes to sugar off, anyway." 

I know my mother likes it. She says she 's always 
glad when maple sugar time comes. She says she 
used to have maple sugar when she was a little girl 
and played with the Indians. The Indians knew how 
to make it as well as anybody. They did n't have 
pails, but they made troughs with their axes. They 
cut a slanting gash in the side of the tree instead of 
boring a hole, and fixed a big chip so it would make 
the sap drop into the trough. 

My father fixes the fire. He takes the milk pails, 
and starts to go. He says : " Of course if it should 
begin to boil hard before I get back, you must kind o' 
see to it that it don't boil over." 

When my father gets back, my mother is skimming 
the syrup. I am just tall enough to look into the 
pan. There is quite a good deal of steam. The 
syrup is boiling up in two or three places where it is 
hottest. In one or two places there is scum. There 
is a nice smell in the room. 

The scum looks thick and white. My mother puts 
the skimmer under it, and lifts up. She holds it there 

125 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

until the syrup does n't drop any longer, and then 
she lets the scum run off the skimmer into a white 
dish. The fire is blazing up good and hot. 

My father strains the milk and sets it away. He 
puts the pails and the strainer in the sink. 

My mother says : " I '11 wash the pails and things 
now. You better watch this, 'cause it 's boiling up 
good and hard." 

I go and look in again. It is boiling hard all over 
now. The scum gets together in one corner. My 
father skims it out once in a while. There is quite 
a little in the white dish. 

I get a spoon and push the top of the scum aside 
in the dish. It is brown when I get the white away. 
There is always a little syrup settles. 

I say: " Pa, what is scum made of? " 

My father says : " Hard tellin' what 't is made 
of. It 's impurities of some kind, I s'pose. But it 
don't seem to be real dirt." 

I taste of the scum. It tastes like syrup, only it 
is smooth, and not so sweet. The syrup under it is 
better. 

When I look in again, the pan is all brown, shiny 
bubbles everywhere. Most of them are little, but 
there are some big ones that break with a puff of 
steam. The syrup is getting thick. That 's what 
makes the bubbles. 

My father stands there all the time now. The 
syrup boils up so high that he has to stir it to make 

126 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

it go down. Once in a while he slides the pan over 
to where the stove is n't quite so hot. If he let it 
alone, it would boil over onto the stove. 

The syrup did boil over once. Everyone ran, and 
my mother screamed. The}' pushed the pan back, 
and began to stir the syrup as soon as they could. 
It made .a great sputtering on the stove, and the room 
smelled of burned sugar for a long time. My mother 
said we always ought to have a little lump of pork 
on hand to throw in if it began to boil over. 

My father dips the skimmer in, and holds it up 
edgeways. The syrup drops off as if it were quite 
thick. 

My father says : " It '11 almost do for molasses 
now." 

He skims and watches it some more. Pretty soon 
he dips in and tries it again. He says : " Well, it 's 
ready now. Just take hold o' that end, will you, and 
le' 's see if we can't set it off." 

They set the pan on some papers on the floor. 
When the syrup is a little cooler, my father takes the 
dipper and tunnel and begins to pour it into the half 
gallon jugs. There are some gallon jugs, too. 
They are brown, and have big mouths and flat corks. 
They are so hot I can't hold my hand on them. 

My mother puts some of the syrup into glass jars. 
She sets them in the dripping-pan first, and puts the 
tunnel in the top. When she is all ready, she pours 
just the least bit in, and then the least bit more. She 

127 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

says it would be the end of the jars if she put it in 
too fast. She screws the top on, and sets the jars 
on the window sill. They feel hotter than the jugs. 

We '11 have the syrup that is in the jars with bread 
and butter at supper when company conies, after 
maple sugar time is over. Sometimes we '11 boil some 
of it down and make sugar. 

My mother says : " As long as you have good 
bread and butter and maple 'lasses in the house, you 
need n't worry if company does come. They won't 
get good syrup like your pa's every day, I can tell 
'em!" 



128 



XXIII 



MY father sets the pan back on the stove. He 
gets the other big tin pail and empties it in. 
My mother and I have it all ready for him. 

My father looks at me. He says : " Now for the 
sugar part. I s'pose you think that 's more inter 
esting." 

My mother pats me on the head. She says : " Of 
course you do, don't you ! " 

By and by she says : " Well, you can help me 
with the tins after a while, when your pa 's ready." 

My father fixes the fire again, and stands and 
watches and skims, the same as he did before. Only 
he has to be a little more particular at the end. 

When my father thinks the syrup is beginning to 
get thick, he tries it every little while by letting it 
drop from the edge of the spoon. The first time, it 
drops almost like water. After a while, it sticks to 
the spoon more. 

My father says : " S'posing you run out now and 
get a little snow. We '11 try it on that. Get some 
that 's good and clean ! " 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

My mother gets me a basin. I run out and around 
to the north side of the house. Everywhere else the 
snow is gone. I scrape the top off the little bank 
that is left there near the water spout. It is hard, 
and feels almost like ice. It has thawed and frozen 
a good many times. 

I get some from under. It does n't take long. 
When I come back I am all out of breath. 

My father says : " I thought that would start 
you." 

My mother laughs. My father says : " Pack it 
down nice and hard, and we '11 begin operations." 

I pat the snow down all over. My father dips into 
the syrup, and puts a little on the snow. It melts a 
little hole, and sinks in out of sight. 

My father picks at the syrup in the hole with the 
point of the spoon. He says : " No, 't ain't thick 
enough yet." 

We wait quite a while longer. The bubbles in the 
pan get slower and slower, as if they were sticky. 
There are more big bubbles than before, and bigger 
puffs of steam when they break. The fine, warm, 
sugary smell is everywhere. 

My father says : " Well, le' 's try again now." 

I bring the basin. My father puts some more on. 
It begins to melt the snow, but it is thicker, and it 
does n't run into the snow at all. The edges of the 
syrup shrivel up a little. They look brownish yellow, 
and almost as clear as glass. When it gets that way, 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

we call it wax. I know just how it's going to 
taste. 

My father picks at the wax with his spoon. It 
sticks to the spoon, and comes out. He rolls it to 
gether a little, and it sticks again. He lifts it up. 
It leaves a nice little hole in the snow where it was. 
The hole has sharp edges, and they are a little bit 
brownish. 

My father reaches the spoon toward my mouth. 
The wax is fine and brown, but clear, too. He holds 
it up hTgh, and watches me. 

My mother begins to laugh. She says : " See how 
his eyes shine ! " 

My father says : " Open your mouth ! " 

I open it wide, and he puts the sugar in. I bring 
my teeth together, and he pulls the spoon away. 
He has to pull hard, and I almost fall over toward 
him. 

The sugar is fine and sweet, and so sticky that at 
first I can hardly get my teeth apart. Then it gets 
soft and smooth. 

My father says : " It '11 do now, sure 's you live ! 
Come on, le' 's set it off." 

They set the pan down on the papers again. My 
mother gets me a little syrup in a saucer, and says: 
" You can be eating this on the snow, if you want to, 
while your pa is waiting for it to cool." 

My father stirs the syrup back and forth in the 
pan with a long spoon. After a while it begins to 

131 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

be not quite so clear. When he scrapes along the 
edges, there is a little of it beginning to flake and 
harden. He says : " I don't think it '11 be long now 
before it grains." 

My mother says : " Be careful and don't stir it 
too much ! You know you don't want it to look very 
white." 

She says to me : " Now we '11 butter the tins for 
him. They 're all clean and ready." 

My mother brings the tins from the buttery. Tip 
calls it the " pantry." I always make fun of him. 
He says " dining-room " for kitchen, too, sometimes, 
just like the folks from Town. 

The tins are small, and fit into one another, so 
you can pick up a whole lot of them at once. I get 
them apart. My mother fixes two little rags with 
butter, and we rub the insides of the tins. That is 
so the sugar will come out easy after it is cool and 
hard. 

Some of the tins are shallow, with smooth rims 
and bottom, and some are a little deeper and crinkled 
all around. We have them all ready, and my father 
pours them full of the hot sugar. He knows how to 
dip so the long spoon will just fill one tin. 

The sugar begins to cool and harden right away, 
but we are going to let it stand till to-morrow morn 
ing. Then we '11 take the tins and turn them bottom 
side up in our hands, and press on the bottom with 
our thumbs. That will make the sugar drop out into 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

our fingers. The crinkled tins make the prettiest 
cakes. 

When my father gets to the bottom of the pan, it 
is beginning to be thick and grainy. At the last, 
when he scrapes the sides and bottom with the spoon, 
it is real sugar. 

My father sets one of the crinkly tins off to one 
side. He says : " There ! That one '11 be for you. 
I s'pose you '11 have to have at least one, won't you? " 

I say: " Can I have one for Tip, too? " 

My father says : " Yes, I s'pose Tip '11 have to 
have one." 

I say : " He likes the crinkly ones, too." 

My father sets another of the crinkly ones out. 

My mother says : " Of course Spot '11 want a 
couple, you know. He '11 want to treat his sweet 
heart." 

My father says : " Oh pshaw ! " But he sets out 
two more tins. 

My mother says to me : " Ain't it about your bed 
time now ? " 

I can smell sugar away up stairs, after I am in bed. 



133 



XXIV 

My Brother Lets the Boys and Me Go to the 
Arch with Him 

TIP says: "We'll just wait out here till you 
go in and ast if he '11 let us." 

I run into the house. I slam the door, and say: 
"Where's Ted?" 

My mother is in the kitchen. She says : " I guess 
maybe you '11 find him out in the woodshed." 

I open the kitchen door and go out into the wood 
shed. My brother is cleaning the shotgun. He has 
been gathering sap to-day, and he always takes the 
gun with him. Sometimes he gets a squirrel. 

I say : " Can Tip and Bill and me and Georgie 
come out and boil down with you to-night ? " 

My brother wraps some cloth around the end of 
the ramrod, and pours some oil on it. Then he runs 
it into one of the barrels of the gun, and works it 
up and down. He does n't say anything. 

After a while I say : " Can we? " 

My brother changes the cloth, and runs the ramrod 
into the other barrel. 

I say again: " Can we? Huh? " 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

My brother keeps on running the ramrod in and 
out. I begin to feel a little bit out of patience. I 
say again: "Can we? Huh? Can we?" 

I stand and wait a while longer. Then I say: 
" Come on! Why can't you answer a feller? Huh? 
Can we? Huh?" 

My brother does n't stop. He just says: " Tell 
'em they got to bring some eggs if they come." 

I run out and tell them. Bill says : " I 'm goin' 
to bring some potatoes, too." 

Tip says : " Me too ! I 'm goin' to bring some 
salt. Eggs am' no good without salt." 

I say : " Be sure to come early, right after 
supper." 

At supper time, my father comes home from the 
sugar-bush. When we are through eating, he says 
to my brother : " Better go over to the arch before 
long. I '11 do the chores to-night. 'T won't do to 
leave the pan alone too long." 

We get ready to go. My father says : " I '11 be 
along about half past nine or ten, in time for you to 
come home and go to bed. I s'pose there '11 be enough 
left to take me till twelve or one o'clock." 

It is dark when we get to the woods. When we 
get in among the big trees, we can see a little spark of 
light on the hill where the arch is. 

My brother says : " That 's funny. I guess he 
did n't put the screen up very tight." 

We go up the hill. We begin to see the steam. 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 



The light is from a little place under the pan, where 
the stones don't come up close. 

My brother lights the lantern and looks at the sap 
in the pan. He gets the great big dipper, and pours 
some in out of the kettle. Then he takes a pail and 
fills the kettle from the barrel. He puts in some more 
wood. We sit down in front of the fire. 

My brother says : " When are 
they coming? Did you tell 'em 
about the eggs ? " 

I say: "Yah! They'll be here 
before long. They 're goin' to bring 
some potatoes and salt, too." 

We sit quite a while, looking at 
the screen. It gets red-hot in one 
place. It makes me feel queer, sit 
ting there in the dark, without any 
thing but sky and trees all around, 
and without any noise except the fire snapping and 
the pan boiling. 

Pretty soon we hear something up near the road. 
It sounds like someone stepping on the crust of the 
snow. 

I say : " I bet that 's Tip now ! " I get up and 
yell : " Yah-'oo ! " We can't hear the noise any 
more. 

I sit down. We begin to hear noises again. 

My brother says : " They 're sneakin' up. Pretty 

soon they '11 come runnin' in and try to scare us." 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Once in a while something snaps, and then it is 
still. We know it is one of them stepping on a dead 
limb. 

All of a sudden there is a long howl, like a wolf or 
something. Then there is another one farther off. 
Then it is all still again. 

I get up and yell : " Oh, 7 know who you are ! 
You need n't think you can fool me! " 

They howl again. I go out that way a few steps. 
It is all still. I come back again. The howls and the 
snappings get nearer. They are right around the 
other side of the sap-house. I know it is n't wolves, 
but I am glad my brother is here. 

At last Bill and Tip and Georgie come running as 
fast as they can, yelling. 

I say : " Aw, I knew it was you all the time." 

Bill says : " Oh yes, but you was scared all the 
same." 

I say : " I was not , scared! " 

Bill says : " Well, you need n't to go an' get mad 
about it, if you was n't." 

My brother says : " Did you bring the eggs ? " 

Tip says : " Here 's all I could find if they 
ain't smashed. I went and got 'em out of the chicken 
coop. Auntie '11 never know it." 

Bill says : " Here 's mine, and I got some pota 
toes, too." He says : " I could n't get any out of 
the chicken coop. I had to sneak into the pantry to 
get mine." 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Georgie says : " Your mother would n't care, 
though. You got such a lot o' chickens." 

We put the potatoes in the coals. My brother 
says he will watch them. He puts the eggs in the 
sap-house. He says : " We '11 have the potatoes 
first." 



138 



XXV 

We Bake Potatoes and Boil Eggs at the Arch 

BILL says : " Ask your brother if we can have 
a drink out o' the pan." 

I say : " Aw, you ask him yourself." 

My brother hears us. He says : " Yes, go ahead 
and drink some, if you want to." 

We have a drink, and then begin to play hide- 
and-seek. 

I don't like to be it. I have to hunt the boys too 
far away from the sap-house. It is dark out there, 
and the stumps look like bears. The boys keep so 
still it makes me nervous. 

After a while we play Indian. There are echoes 
when we yell. We tomahawk and scalp each other. 
We get some coals and make a little fire with twigs, 
and have a war dance around it. 

Georgie says : " Hoi' on, that makes me think ! 
Bill said he was goin' to make a hot coal crack like 
a cannon. Come on, le' 's see him do it now." 

Bill says : " All right, come on ! I s'pose you 
think I can't." 

Bill gets the hammer. He goes over to the screen 
and pokes out a big red coal. There is an old rail- 

139 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

road iron that is a part of the arch right over where 
the screen goes. Bill gets two sticks, and lifts the 
coal up onto the iron. He leans over the coal, and 
spits on it. He says : " Now look out ! " He 
brings the hammer down on the coal. It does n't 
crack at all. 

Georgie says : " That 's a great noise like a can 
non, that is ! If I could n't do a better trick 'n that, 
I 'd go an' sell out. I knew you could n't do it ! " 

Bill says : " Just you wait a minute. That 
was n't no good coal." 

Bill tries it again, but it does n't make any bigger 
noise the second time. Georgie says : " Pf-f-f-f ! " 

Bill says : " Well, that iron 's a hot iron. I told 
you it took a cold one. If I had a cold iron, you 'd 
see ! " 

We laugh at Bill. My brother laughs, too. He 
sits in front of the fireplace, with his legs crossed and 
his hands in his pockets. Once in a while he gets up 
to skim, or to pour sap from the kettle into the pan. 

We play train. I take che lantern and sit on a 
pail inside the sap-house door. The sap-house is the 
caboose. Tip is the engineer. He shakes some pails 
to make the engine go. Bill is hind brakeman, and 
Georgie is middle brakeman. 

When we get to a station, I take the lantern and 
jump off and go into the telegraph office to register. 
Then I come out and swing the lantern for them to 
go ahead, and jump on when the caboose comes along. 

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Tip puts on lots of steam. By the time I get on, it 
is going awfully fast. I almost get slung. 

My brother calls out : " The potatoes are done ! 
Come on now with your eggs ! " 

He puts the eggs in the dipper, and sets it down 
in the big pan. The steam is pouring out as thick 
as can be. 

My brother says : " If we 'd put 'em in without 
the dipper, maybe we 'd never find 'em again. It 
boils so hard they 'd roll all over everywhere, and 
maybe get busted." 

The potatoes are burned black on the outside. 
We break them open. They are n't done. The in 
side is hard, and terribly hot, and steams. We let 
them cool, and eat them with salt. They taste of the 
burned part. 

Georgie says : " I don't mind a little burned taste. 
I wisht they was a little doner, though." 

Tip says : " Oh, you don't want to mind a little 
thing like that ! You eat turnips and carrots raw. 
Why can't you eat potatoes the same? " 

After the potatoes, my brother sits a while looking 
at the fire. He does n't say anything. We stand 
around with our hands in our pockets. We are all 
thinking about the eggs. 

I begin to think of saying something about the 
eggs. Just then my brother takes his hands out of 
his pockets and uncrosses his legs. He says : " All 
right, le' 's have the eggs ! " 

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The eggs are brown and sticky. Some of the shells 
are cracked. We peel them, and eat them with the 
salt. They are hard as can be. The yolks taste the 
best of all. The whites of the ones that are cracked 
taste sweet on the outside. We have two apiece, 
but my brother has three, and he says he wishes we 
had more. 

We have another big drink out of the pan. We 
cool it in the snow first. It is sweeter than ever. 

Bill says : " I bet you I '11 drink till I bust ! " 

We go and stand by my brother. All of a sudden 
he says : " Look a' here ! I tell you what you do. 
You go up to the henhouse and see if you can find 
some more eggs." 

I say : " Oh, that 's an awful long ways." 

Bill says : " Aw, come on ! 'T won't take long. 
We '11 be right back." 

My brother says : " Get two apiece if you can." 

When we get to the barn, we don't talk so loud. 
We keep looking over toward the house. I can see 
my father through the window. He is sitting by the 
stove, with the stand and light, reading. My mother 
is sitting near him. I suppose she is doing some 
crochet work. 

Bill says : " Would your pa care? What 'd you 
do if he come out and caught us here? " 

I say : " Oh, Tie would n't care ! But I don't want 
to go in and ask, that 's all." 

The hencoop is as dark as can be. I go along and 
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feel in the nests until I have eight. That 's all I can 
find. The roosters cackle a little when I come along. 
They are surprised to have anyone come in when it 
is so dark. 

One of my eggs is all I want. I give my brother 
the other one. That makes six in all for him. The 
other boys eat theirs, and then we all drink some 
more. 

Bill lifts up his vest and rubs his stomach. He 
says to Tip: "Feel o' that, will you? Four eggs, 
two potatoes, an' a gallon o' seerup." 

Bill always says " seerup " for syrup. He says : 
" I could n't drink any more an' if you 'd point a gun 
at me ! " 

Georgie gives him a poke in the stomach, and he 
jumps and doubles over. 

Pretty soon my brother says : " Listen ! " 

We all keep still. We hear a limb snap away down 
toward where the road comes from the house. Be 
fore long we begin to hear a crunching sound once in 
a while. 

My brother says : " I s'pose that 's pa coming." 

We stand there a while without saying anything. 
Then Bill says : " Well, I guess I '11 have to be goin'. 
My mother told me not to stay so very late." 

Tip says : " All right, I guess I '11 go along as 
far as the road." They start off. 

Georgie starts, too. He says to me: "Well, so 
long!" 

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My father comes up the hill. Pretty soon we begin 
to see him. He comes walking out of the dark. We 
can see his grey whiskers and his felt hat. Then we 
can see his old coat. It is blue, and fuzzy, with bands 
of black and a fuzzy belt. My mother makes fun of 
it, but my father says he does n't care, it 's warm 
and comfortable. 



144 



XXVI 

I Spend an Evening at the Arch with My Father 

MY father says: "That's so, 'tis Friday 
night. I declare, here 's another week o' 
school gone ! " 

He says : " No, I don't see why you should n't go 
along, if your ma '11 let you." 

My mother says : " Hi, do you really think he 
ought to go with you ? It '11 be awfully late when 
you get home." 

My father says : " Oh, I don't expect it '11 be so 
very late. Anyway, it won't hurt him to be up one 
night. Let the boy go if he wants to ! " 

I say : " To-morrow 's Saturday, anyway, and I 
don't have to get up to go to school." 

My mother does n't say anything. My father 
says : " Well, come on, then ! It 's pretty near 
eight o'clock. Le' 's get started. He '11 think we 're 
never comin'." 

My brother is all ready to go when we get to the 
arch. He says : " I just skimmed and filled in from 
the kettle, and fired up. It won't need anything now 
for quite a while. It 's all out o' the barrel." 

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My father says : " All right ! I s'pose you can 
go then." 

My brother starts down the path toward home. 
When he gets just past the bottom of the hill, though, 
I can see him turn off to one side. I can hear him 
going through the trees toward Edie's house. Every 
little while we hear him step on a dead limb. 

My father says : " Yes, there he goes again ! I 
declare, I should think the widow would get sick of 
him!" 

By and by he says : " Well, I guess she is, 'cord 
ing to what they say she says. She acts as if she was 
'fraid they 'd want to get married." 

I say: " But they won't, will they? " 

My father says : " Humph ! Well, I guess 
not! " 

We sit down in front of the fire. We have the old 
buffalo robe on the seat. The warm from the sheet 
iron screen feels good. Once in a while I turn side 
ways, to let my back get a little of it. I stick my feet 
up near the screen. They begin to steam. My boots 
and stockings are always soaked through by night. 

We don't say a great deal. My father is n't much 
of a talker, except when he gets a-going on religion 
or temperance. He likes to read. He has some 
books the ministers don't like. One of them is Pre- 
Adamite Man. He takes The Truth Seeker. Once 
Grandpa Tyler borrowed F 're- Adamite Man, and said 
he liked it. 

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The steam rolls out of the pan a little to one side, 
and then goes up almost straight. It does n't look 
so white in the dark as it does in the daytime. The 
smoke from the chimney makes a sort of shadow up 
above, or something that makes me think of one. I 
can't see the tree branches and the sky so plainly 
where it goes up. The sap-house is black. We can 
see only part of it, on account of the steam. 

The fire snaps, and the sap in the pan makes a 
simmering noise that keeps getting louder and louder. 
When my brother put all the wood in before we came, 
it stopped boiling, and now it is getting ready to 
begin again. 

Pretty soon we can hear it begin to boil and bub 
ble harder. I like the sound. There is n't any other 
noise, except when a rig goes along the road, or 
Howe's old Don barks at something. Sleighing is 
all gone now. 

It is as still as can be behind us, and above, and all 
around. The sky is clear and blue, and there are lots 
of stars. The branches of the trees show against it. 
They look black. I look straight up over my head. 
There are only the ends of a few branches there. The 
sky looks ever so dark blue up there, and the stars are 
ever so bright. There are a few big ones, and all the 
little ones, and the Milky Way. 

I say : " Pa, how many stars are there? " 

My father says : " Oh, don't ask me! I don't 
s'pose anyone 's ever counted 'em all." 

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After a little while he says : " And then, as soon 
as you look through the telescope, they say a lot more 
come into sight. I don' s'pose there 's any end to 
'em." 

I sit and think about the stars. I look up there, 
and wonder how the earth can be rolling and going 
so fast and we not notice. 

But mostly we look at the screen. It is an old 
one. It has been there ever since the arch was built. 
The edges are thin and cracked, and let out some of 
the light from the fire. 

There are some holes here and there in the middle, 
too. They make bright gold spots. One or two are 
so big that we can see the blaze behind. When the 
fire gets to going hard, part of the screen gets red- 
hot. 

We talk a little while about school. We talk about 
Nicholas Nickleby after that. My father brought it 
from Town last time. He says : " I wish we could 
afford more books. But it takes money." 

I say : " Maybe we '11 have more after we get that 
part of the old back lot cleared up." 

My father says : " Maybe we will. It ought to 
make good wheat ground. But it '11 take a lot o' 
work. And I ain't as spry as I used to be." 

I sit and look at the holes in the screen. Pretty 
soon my father says : " I hope you won't have to 
drudge the way I 've had to. I 've had to do a lot 
of hard work in my day, and sometimes when I 

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was n't really equal to it." He says : " I want you 
to be a lawyer. I might have been a lawyer if I 'd 
only had an education. But I never got much 
schoolin', except what I give myself when I was 
clerkin' for Haney in Batavia. I used to sit up after 
the day's work was done." 

After a while we talk about Aunt Caty and Uncle 
Danel, and Uncle Abe, and early times. Aunt Caty 
is my father's sister. She and Uncle Danel live nine 
miles away, in the town of New Harlem. They and 
my father and Uncle Abe all came from York State 

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forty years ago. Aunt Caty has a lot of sons and 
daughters. They are my cousins, but they are so 
old that it seems as if they must be my uncles and 
aunts instead. Uncle Abe is dead. 

My father says : " When Abe and I kept bache 
lor's hall over in New Harlem, I always used to do the 
cookin'. I always went home first and got dinner. 
I could tell from the way I felt just how much Abe 
could eat. If I wanted about three potatoes, I knew 
he 'd want about five. If I felt like one big piece o' 
pork, I knew he 'd want two medium-sized ones. 
That 's the way it was with everything." 

I say : " What did Uncle Abe die of ? " 

My father says : " He got pneumonia." 

I say : " That 's something about lungs, ain't 
it?" 

My father says : " Yes, pneumonia means inflam 
mation of the lungs." He laughs. He says : " In 
formation of the lungs, as old Cap Swann calls it. 
It 5 s like a good hard cold, only a lot worse." 

We sit and look at the holes a long time. 

I say : " Are we going over to Aunt Caty's again 
before long? " 

My father says : " Oh, I spect we '11 go over one 
o' these days, after sugar time is over." He says : 
" But the roads ain't always good in spring, and it 's 
quite a ways. It 's better goin' in the fall." 



150 



XXVII 

We Boil Down, and Take the Syrup Home 

MY father sits up straight. He says : " Well, 
I guess we better fire up. First thing we 
know, we '11 be losin' time." 

He gets up and picks up the big wooden poker. It 
is all black at one end. He says : " Look out, 



now! 



I 



I get up and stand at one side, by the end of the 
seat. My father tips the screen back, and it falls 
down. It makes a great light, and at first I have to 
look the other way. There is a great high bed of 
coals inside. In some places I can see the shape of 
the sticks before they were burned. They have dark 
lines across them. That is where they are going to 
fall apart. The coals are bright yellow, and almost 
white in some places, and in some places almost red. 
There is blaze, too, but not much. The blaze is blue 
in some places, and yellow in others. 

It is so hot I have to get farther away. My father 
goes up quickly and stirs the coals all together, so 
they are even. Some of them look black where they 
are broken, and have red rims. My father throws a 

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few of the long basswood sticks in. It is n't so hot 
after that. He packs the fireplace full. 

We sit down again. My father leaves the screen 
where it is. He says : " Let it have a good draft 
first, and then we '11 shut it up again." 

The sap in the pan has stopped boiling. My 
father says : " Now '11 be a good time to skim." 
There is steam, but he can see where the scum is. He 
holds the lantern up over the edge. The sap looks 
black, and there are two islands of scum on it. My 
father skims them off, and throws the scum on the 
ground. It is n't like the scum when we sugar off. 
There are little pieces of bark and things in it, even 
if they do have mosquito netting over the barrels 
when they pour in. 

My father says : " Beats all how little pieces of 
things '11 get in ! Of course it ain't real dirt, but 
then we don't want it in, even if it ain't." 

He fills in from the kettle. Once more, and there 
won't be any left in the kettle. The barrels were 
empty before we came. 

We begin to hear the wood snap and crackle. 
There is a big light on the seat and trees in front of 
the fireplace. Sometimes it lights up the trees away 
down the hill. 

We sit down again. The blaze is so bright we can 
hardly look at it. It makes our faces hot. Once in 
a while a stick pops like everything, and there is a 
" s-s-s-s-ss ! " My father says it is because some of 

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the wood is n't seasoned. There is moisture in 
it. 

By and by he says : " Well, it 's goin' hard enough 
now to shut up the draft." He leans over a little, 
and lifts the screen up with the poker. 

We sit and look at the holes in the screen again. 
They are ever so yellow and bright. They get red 
der. The screen gets red-hat. The sap in the pan 
boils harder than ever, and the steam rolls away from 
the edge of the pan as thick as can be. 

I say: "Won't it boil over? " 

My father says : " No, 't ain't likely. It never 
boils over unless it 's thick, like syrup." 

We sit a long time without talking much. I get 
up and go after the lantern, and stand at the edge of 
the pan. The steam goes rolling out and up. It 
makes me think of the big white clouds in summer. I 
hold my hand in it. The steam is nice and warm. I 
take my hand out. It is wet, and soon feels cool. 

I go around to the other side, and s,tand in the 
middle of the steam. It warms and moistens my face. 
It smells warm, and like sap that is brown. When I 
come out, my face is moist and cool. 

I sit down again. We don't talk at all now. My 
father is leaning on one elbow, looking at the holes. 
I look at him once in a while, and then I look at the 
holes, too. 

My father's shoulders are stooped a little. I feel 
as if I 'd like to do something for him. I like him 

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better than anyone, except maybe my mother. I am 
afraid he does n't feel happy. 

After a long time, I begin to wonder whether I 
won't get sleepy. Just then my father gets up. He 
holds the lantern over the edge of the pan and looks 
in. He says : " 'T ain't goin' to be so very long 
now." 

I get up and look. Where it boils, we can see that 
it is quite brown. My father pours a little out of 
the dipper. It looks almost black, but that is on 
account of its being so dark everywhere. 

By and by my father goes and tips the screen back. 
The wood is all turned to coals. They have white 
ashes on them where they are near the sides of the 
arch. 

My father begins to get ready to take the pan off. 
He lays two boards from the arch over onto a long 
saw-horse that always stands there. They are quite 
a long way apart, and at one end they are on the 
stones right next to the side of the pan. 

My father says : " Now it 's all ready to take off. 
S'pose you can help me a little? " 

We slide the big pan off the fire onto the boards. 
The inside of the arch glows. We can feel the heat. 
As soon as the pan is off, it almost stops steaming. 

My father says : " All right now, bring me the 
pails and the dipper." 

He dips the syrup out. It makes a different sound 
from water or sap when he lets it fall into the big tin 

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pails. It sounds thick and hot, and does n't spatter, 
like water or sap. 

When the syrup is nearly all out, there is a place 
in the middle that is lower than the rest. The dipper 
makes a scraping sound when my father scoops there. 

There is just a little that my father can't get. I 
am glad of it. Tip and I always like to come next 
day and get it. By that time it is thick, and we just 
kink our fingers, and scrape it up. It tastes best of 
all that way. 

My father puts the yoke on his shoulders and 
catches the pail handles with the hooks. He says : 
" Now for home and bed ! " 

I take the lantern and go ahead, to show the way. 
We go through the big trees and out across the ten- 
acre lot, and are soon home. The old leach looks 
white. It makes me think of ghosts. The house and 
barn are all dark, and every thing is as still as can be. 

My father sets the pails down in the kitchen, and 
puts a couple of newspapers over them. We go into 
the sitting room. He pokes the fire and puts in a 
couple of chunks, and fixes the damper and the draft. 

I sit down behind the stove and get my boots off. 
I sit right on the floor, and start them by pushing 
with one foot on top of the other. They always stick 
at the heels and ankles, because my feet are always 
wet. 

The clock begins to strike twelve. I set my boots 
up straight behind the stove, and lay my stockings 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

on the tops. They will be dry by morning, but the 
boots will be awfully stiff. 

I kiss my father good night, and run up stairs. 
When I am in bed, I keep thinking of the steam, and 




the holes in the screen, and my father in the seat in 
front leaning on his elbow, and the woods without 
leaves, and all the stars up above the trees. I can 
smell the syrup in the pails down stairs just a little 
bit. 

I get warmer and warmer in bed. It is nice and 
comfortable. I go to sleep thinking of the steam and 
the simmering, and the noise the sap makes when it 
boils, and the bright holes in the screen. 



156 



XXVIII 

/ Hunt for Mayflowers, and See My Brother 
and Edie 

MAPLE sugar time is all over. It does n't 
freeze now at night, and it is too warm in the 
daytime. There are beginning to be little red buds 
on the maple branches. The snow has been gone 
quite a while. There is n't any even in the corner by 
the tree behind the sap-house. The leaves on the 
ground are dry and loose. If anyone is walking in 
them, you can hear it a long way off. 

Nearly all the pails and spiles are in the sap-house. 
There are just a few left. They are turned bottom 
side up. You can see them a long way off, because 
they are different colors. My father left them be 
cause he was in a hurry to get to work on the land. 

My brother is cultivating now, in the lot next to 
the sugar-bush, between it and the bush. He is 
using the old cultivator, the one with the handles. 
It is n't one of the kind you can ride on. 

Uncle Anthony does his cultivating with the seeder. 
He does n't ride, though. He says it is hard enough 
on the horses as it is. 

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I am looking for Mayflowers. I always like to 
surprise my mother with the first ones. She says she 
supposes we ought to call them hepaticas. In a 
great many places I can see the leaves that belong 
to them, and when I pull the dry tree leaves and twigs 
away I can see the flower buds. I have n't found any 
flowers yet, though. The buds are pinkish, and 
woolly. The ground smells like dirt and dead wood 
when I uncover it. 

I walk along slowly, looking all the time. I look 
at the ground on the south sides of the trees, because 
it is sunnier on that side. The air is warm. The 
warmth comes up to my face from the leaves. It 
smells sweet, as if there were flowers somewhere, but 
I can't find any. 

I run across a pail that has n't been turned bottom 
side up. It is nearly full of sap and water. I can 
tell by the white on the pail inside that the sap is 
spoiled. I can smell it, too. It is sour. 

There are honey bees buzzing around the pail. 
They always like sap. They are from Howe's, I 
suppose. 

One of the bees comes down fast and strikes the 
inside of the pail, and falls in. I watch him, and 
hope he will get out all right. He floats, and kicks, 
but stays right there. 

I am sorry for the bee. I don't stop to think, 
but put my finger under him and lift him out. I feel 
a terrible sting. I jump, and snap my finger. I 

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don't know what becomes of the bee. I dance around, 
holding on to my finger with my other hand, and put 
ting it in my mouth, and snapping it. I say : 
" Durn you ! That 's the last time I '11 ever help a 
bee!" 

My finger swells a little. I make some mud and 
put it on. In a few minutes it feels better. I turn 
the pail bottom up, and go on toward the edge of the 
woods. 

I keep on looking for Mayflowers. All the time, I 
hear my brother cultivating. He says : " Gee ! " and 
" Haw ! " and " Giddap ! " a great deal. 

By and by I hear someone walking in the leaves up 
toward Edie's house. My brother is at that end of 
the field now, close to the woods. I don't hear him 
cultivating. Pretty soon I hear him walking in the 
leaves. Then I hear someone laugh. 

I know from the laugh that it is Edie. Besides, I 
can see them. They are looking for Mayflowers, too. 
Every little while they stop, and stand there together. 
Edie has her white apron and blue dress on. She is 
bareheaded. 

I make up my mind there are n't any Mayflowers in 
the woods yet. I think of the brush, on the other side 
of the field. The brush slopes south, and they ought 
to blossom earlier there. 

I start for the field. When I get almost to the 
horses, my brother and Edie stop talking and laugh 
ing. Then I hear someone on the other side of them 

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walking through the leaves quite fast. At first I 
thought they stopped because they did n't want me 
to hear. 

I look as hard as I can through all the trees. I 
see Edie's mother coming up to them. My brother 
and Edie stand looking at her, as if they did n't know 




what to do. She has a brown sunbonnet on. It 
makes her look as if she had no neck. 

Edie's mother stands right near them. She talks 
quite a long time. I can hear her, but I can't tell 
what she says. I know when it is " No " or " Yes " 
or " What? " but that is all. I wish I knew what she 
was saying. 

By and by Edie and her mother start home. My 
brother stands there a little while. When Edie's 

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mother is almost at the fence they have to climb over, 
she turns around and begins to talk again. She talks 
louder this time. I hear her say : " Now, mind ! I 
tell you it 's got to be stopped ! You are both of you 
too young to be going on in this way." 

My brother stands between the cultivator handles 
quite a while, leaning on them with his hands. He 
has the lines around his shoulders. He is looking 
at the big clevis down near the old mares' heels. 

I look at the clevis, too. There is n't anything the 
matter with the clevis. Then I look at my brother. 
Then I look at the clevis again. My brother is n't 
looking at the clevis, after all. He is just thinking. 

I say : " What 's the matter ? Huh ? " 

My brother does n't answer me. The old mares 
stand with their heads hanging down and their eyes 
half shut. 

I sit down on the cultivator. By and by I ask 
again: "What was the matter with her? Huh?" 

My brother keeps on standing there, looking at the 
clevis. 

I say: "Hu-u-uh?" 

My brother stands up straight, and pulls on the 
lines. The old mares wake up. He says : " Oh, you 
go along ! You would n't know if I told you. Gid- 
dap ! " He won't tell me anything. 

I go up into the brush. After a long time, just 
when I am not thinking anything about them, all at 
once I see some Mayflowers. I jump toward them 

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and sit down on my toes, and pick them. There are 
five or six. They are dark blue inside, and light blue 
outside, with tiny pointed green leaves around the 
cup. Inside are little yellow things, like grains of 
corn meal on stems. I keep thinking how surprised 
my mother will be, and how she will like the flowers. 

I hold the flowers in a tight little bunch. I keep 
smelling of them as I go on looking for more. Pretty 
soon I find another cluster, and then some more right 
where the road turns out toward the house. Some are 
pink, and some white. When they are all together 
they are as pretty as can be. They have the nicest 
smell I know. 

When I go into the house I hold the Mayflowers 
behind my back. My mother is writing at the secre 
tary desk. She is writing her diary for yesterday, 
the way she does every day. 

I walk up behind her. All of a sudden I hold the 
Mayflowers right under her nose. She jumps, and 
jerks her head back to see what it is. She says: 
" O-o-oh, Mayflowers ! " She takes them, and begins 
to smell of them. She says : " M-m-m-m ! Oh, 
ain't they just the nicest little flowers you ever saw? 
I 'm always so glad when they come again ! " 

When my mother smells of the flowers, she draws 
long breaths, so that I can hear. She knows I like 
it when she makes a fuss over the first flowers. 

I stand and look at my mother and the flowers. 
She says : " What '11 we get to put them in? " 

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She thinks a while. She says : " / '11 tell you 
what '11 be nice. We '11 put 'em in one of the little 
white saucers. I like 'em better spread out that way. 
Don't you?" 

I run out and bring a saucer. My mother fixes 
the Mayflowers in it. Then she goes out to the 
kitchen and pumps a little fresh rain water in. She 
sets the saucer on the table in the front room. Every 
time we come in we can smell Mayflowers. 



XXIX 

I Help My Mother Clean up the Front Yard 

MY mother says : " I want you to help me rake 
the front yard, Bug. We '11 begin right 
away, and then we can get done by bed time. Run 
out and get the garden rakes ! " 

We begin at the house, and rake toward the road. 
There is a lot of long, dead grass. The rake sticks 
in the grass, and sticks in the ground. I have to pull 
a great deal. 

Under the hickory there is a lot of shucks and 
leaves. Under the evergreens there are needles, and 
dry leaves are scattered almost everywhere. The 
flower beds are covered with leaves and dead stalks. 

We get so much dead stuff together that it is hard 
to rake it along. My mother says : " When we 
get quite a lot of it together, we '11 leave a little pile. 
We can get it with the wheelbarrow afterward." 

It is quite a long time before we get over the whole 
yard. When we are through, my mother says : 
" Well, I s'pose I '11 have to get some supper for the 
men folks. But they ain't a-going to get much to 
night, I can tell 'em ! " 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

She says : " While I 'm getting supper on, you 
can wheel the piles of stuff out to the side of the road. 
Make a nice big pile, and after dark we '11 have a 
bonfire." 

My mother comes to the front door and calls me 
when supper is ready. She comes out and stands on 
the veranda. She says : " Don't it look just too 
spick and span for anything? I feel like staying out 
here all the time and enjoying it." 

We go in to supper. My mother says to my 
brother : " After you 're through supper will you 
come out and spade up my flower beds for me? You 
can do it so much quicker. And we want to be get 
ting some barnyard dirt while you 're doing that." 

My brother keeps on eating. He does n't look up. 

My mother says : " 'T won't take but a minute." 

My brother eats some more. He says : " Oh, I 
s'pose I '11 have to." 

After supper I bring the wheelbarrow around. 
My mother puts the two hoes into it, and we go down 
to the barnyard. 

My mother says : " Now we must get some that 's 
nice and black and crumbly." 

I begin to hoe. My mother says : " No, that 
won't do ! That 's too coarse and full of manure. 
We want nice, rich, clean dirt." 

I have to try a good many places before my mother 
is satisfied. Then we scrape together quite a heap. 

My mother says : " I guess you need n't go after 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

the shovel. We '11 just lift it in with the hoes. 
'T won't take long." 

Pretty soon she says : " There, I should n't won 
der if that was all you can wheel. Try it, and see." 

It is all I can do to get up the slope through the 
gate with it. We go around in front of the house. 
We spread some of the dirt on the verbena bed, and 
some on the portulaca bed. We get the rest and 
put it on the petunia bed. 

When we are through, my mother says : " Now 
sha'n't we go out to the brush and get a load of black 
dirt? It's just what my geraniums need. It's so 
nice, from around the roots under the leaves." 

The brush is just beginning to get green. In a 
few weeks there will be so many leaves and flowers that 
you can hardly see anything. The ground will be 
covered with lilies and j ack-in-the-pulpits and man 
drakes and ferns. I know just how it will feel in 
there, all warm and moist. The leaves and twigs 
won't crackle when you walk. 

We scrape up a load, and go back. My mother 
goes in at the back door. She comes out onto the 
veranda by the time I get around in front. She has 
her arms full of geraniums. She raised some of them 
from slips, on the kitchen window sill. She has a 
trowel and a case knife. 

My brother has all the spading done. We stop by 
the geranium bed. The dirt smells moist. My 
mother says it has a spring smell. I see some angle- 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

worms in it, and it makes me want to go fishing. 

My mother digs a hole with the trowel, and puts in 
a trowelful of the dirt from the brush. She takes 
the case knife and runs it around the inside of the 
pot. That gets the geranium out with all its dirt. 
She sets it down in the hole, and puts some more of 
the dirt from the wheelbarrow around it. Then she 
packs in the dirt from the flower bed. 

When we get done, there are geraniums all over 
the bed except on the outside. My mother says: 
" I 'm going to have foliage plants for a border. I '11 
get 'em next time I go to Town." 

There is a little of the black dirt left. We put 
some on the bleeding heart bed, and some on the piny 
bed. The folks from Town call it "peony." The 
bleeding hearts are three or four inches high already. 
They have light green leaves, and pink stems. 

It is almost dark. We light the leaves and grass 
in the pile. They make a lot of thick smoke. The 
pile gets afire all over the outside, but does n't burn 
up high. We keep stirring it with the rakes. Our 
hands smell smoky. 

My mother says : " If we could have a smudge 
like this in mosquito time, I guess they would n't 
bother us very much." 

The pile is all burned down at last. We go up the 
walk to the house. We sit down on the veranda. 

My mother says : " There, we got ahead of your 
pa for once! He ain't got his raspberries trimmed 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

yet. I don't know what '11 happen to him next 
he 's so particular about having everything done up 
to the handle." 

By and by we hear my father come into the house. 
He comes to the front door, and sees us. 




My mother says : " Come out and sit down a 
while, and see how spick and span the front yard is. 
We beat you this time." 

My father says : " It does look fine, and no mis 
take about it." He comes and sits down near me. 
He leans over, and lets his hands hang down between 
his knees. He does n't say much. He looks tired, 
and it makes me feel sorry for him. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

By and by my mother says : " Well, you better 
take care of the tools now. It 's about time to go 
to bed." 

I put the rakes and hoes into the wheelbarrow, and 
start around the corner of the house. My mother 
says : " Don't forget to give your feet a good wash- 
ing!" 

I draw up a bucket of water and pour it out. 
There is a spout, with a pail under it. I put in one 
foot at a time. The water is cold. When I start 
for the woodshed door, the planks feel nice and warm. 



169 



XXX 

My Father Sows Wheat, and We Attend to the 
Berry Patches 

MY brother has just begun to drag. They al 
ways drag before sowing wheat. He has been 
up and down once or twice already. 

My father is getting ready to sow. He has two 
or three bags of wheat at the end of the field. He 
takes wheat out of them and puts it into the bag he 
sows from. He holds the bag so that the wheat is 
under his left arm. He holds the mouth of it open 
with his left hand, and takes the wheat out and sows 
it with his right hand. He has a stake standing at 
the other end of the field, to sight by. Every time 
his left foot comes down, his hand goes into the bag, 
and every time his right foot comes down, he sows. 
It makes a swishing sound. 

My father makes me think of the picture in one of 
the books I used to read in. That was on my moth 
er's knee, before I went to school. It began like 
this : " It is spring. Now the farmer sows his 
seed." 

When my father gets to the stake he pulls it up and 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

sticks it into the ground where he can sight from it 
next time. He has a stake at the other end, too. He 
always paces off the distance to where he wants to set 
it. 

There are a good many robins hopping about. 
They are eating wheat and worms. One of them gets 
hold of a big, long worm, and has a hard time swal 
lowing it. 

I say : " The robins '11 eat so much there won't be 
any wheat come up." 

My father says : " Oh, they won't get a great 
deal. Pretty soon the drag '11 cover it up, so they '11 
have to scratch lively to find any at all." 

My brother gets through dragging for my father 
to sow. Now he has to begin all over again and drag 
after him. Then he will have to cross-drag it. 
After that, he '11 run the smoother over it. Most 
people have a roller. 

The smoother is made of planks bolted together. 
They are fixed so they slant, and crush the lumps 
better. Sometimes we call it the crusher instead of 
the smoother. When my brother runs it, he puts a 
nail keg or a chair on it, and sits down. I always 
jump on and off while he is going. 

My father finishes the sowing. He says : " Now 
I guess I '11 go up to the house and 'tend to the rest 
of the berry patch." 

He says to me : "I guess you better come with me, 
and finish uncovering the strawberries. You could 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

do that, could n't you ? Then they '11 be all ready 
for the next warm rain." 

We walk across the ten-acre lot toward the house. 
The ten-acre lot is seeded down to clover, and the 
clover is coming up fine and green this year. Our 
feet brush in it. 

My father puts on his buckskin mittens, and takes 
his clippers. The clippers have a spring, so they 
open themselves every time he clips a shoot. He 
goes along the raspberry rows and cuts out all the 
dead stalks. He clips off the ends of the others. 
The leaves are half out. They are bright green, and 
crinkly. 

I get the wooden rake and begin to pull the straw 
off the strawberry vines. They are next to the rasp 
berry patch. I rake it off into the place between 
the rows. When we pick, there will be nice clean 
straw to kneel on. The chaff gets in among the vines, 
too, and keeps the berries from getting dirty. The 
rows look brown and black now, but the green leaves 
are coming. 

When I get through with the strawberries, my 
father is just through with the raspberries. I go 
over to where he is. 

He says : " There are a good many tips that 
caught this year. There '11 be plenty of sets. See 
'em?" 

I can see the sets. The branches of the bushes 
grow long in summer, and lots of them have their ends 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

reach down and begin to grow in the ground. All 
you do is cut the branch down low, and take it up with 
the trowel where it went into the ground, and set it 
out. They catch better if the ground is cultivated, 
or if you bury the tips. 

My father says : " You might run to the barn 
now and get me the four-tined fork." 

He goes along and gets all the dry stalks and tips 
into forkfuls, and makes a heap. I go in and get a 
newspaper and some matches. I put the paper into 
one side of the pile, and get ready to strike a match. 

My father calls : " Not on that side ! I thought 
you knew better than that. On the side the wind 
comes from." 

The briars make a big fire and a lot of smoke. 
They crackle and hiss like everything. When the 
fire gets to going hard, you can see the pile sink, it 
burns so fast. 

There is hardly anything left when the fire is out. 
I rake through the ashes, and there is only the least 
little bit of red. 

My father says : " There, don't the patch look 
nice and neat and clean ? And you 've fixed up the 
strawberry patch first class, too." 

We stand and look. By and by he says : " Some 
folks don't take good care of their berries. But I 
like to see 'em well 'tended to. And then, besides, 
you don't get more 'n half a crop if you neglect 'em." 



173 



XXXI 

We Pick up Stone, and I Go with My Brother 
After Redhorse 

TO-DAY I have to help pick up stone. It is 
getting so I have to do things almost every 
Saturday. Tip and I don't like it. 

My father says to my brother : " If you want to 
go after redhorse to-day, you '11 have to flax around. 
We 've got to finish that lot before I can let you go." 

The plum trees are in blossom. That is always the 
sign that redhorse are running. My brother always 
gets excited about them. 

We go out to the barn and hitch up. I attend to 
some of the tugs. We take the wagon with the 
dumpboards. 

We go through the brush to the big lot that slopes 
north. The river and the railroad tracks are in 
sight down there. We can see the banks reflected in 
the water. 

We begin as soon as we get through the brush. 
My father and I pick up on one side, and my brother 
on the other side. We get four or five stones in our 
hands and on our arm, and then throw them on the 

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dumpboards. Once in a while my brother drives 
along a little farther. 

I don't like picking up stone. The ground is so 
lumpy it is hard walking, and the stones are dirty 
and heavy. 

My brother does n't like it any better than I do. 
He is always grumbling about it. He says: 
"What's the use, anyway? There'll be just as 
many next time. Look at 'em now, after all we 
picked up last year ! " 

My father says : " Yes, 
I know, but 't would n't do 
to leave 'em all for the ma 
chine to go over when 
we 're harvestin'. We got 
to get the biggest ones off, 
anyway the ones that 



T - 




., 

^"" sire high enough for the 

sickle to strike. I don't s'pose Uncle Anthony 'd cut 
for us at all if we did n't clear away the stone a lit 
tle." 

Uncle Anthony cut our wheat and oats last year 
175 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

and the year before. My father says he does n't 
suppose he '11 ever get a reaper as long as Uncle 
Anthony is willing to do it for us. Cradling is too 
hard for him. 

My brother says : " I s'pose the darn things keep 
coming up from down in under. Every time we plow 
it seems as if there were more than ever. Or else 
they grow, like potatoes ! " 

By and by he says : " You 'd think to look at the 
ground where we been that it was clean. But you 
just wait till it rains! You'll see 'em by the hun- 
derd again ! " 

My father says : " You know what Uncle An 
thony says about the stones." 

I say: "No. What?" 

My father says : " That the devil was comin' 
across the country around here with his apron full 
o' stones, and the string broke." 

My brother says : " Well, I wisht it had n't, 
that 's all / got to say ! " 

When we get to the other end of the lot, we throw 
the stones over the fence into the back lot. If we 
have a load before we get there, we throw them onto 
one of the stone piles. There are woodchucks in all 
the stone piles. A good many briars grow there. 

The river is in plain sight from the fence. My 
brother and I stand and look at it. The willows are 
getting green. We see somebody walking along the 
bank. Somebody else is standing still in one place. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

He has a spear in his hand, all ready to throw when 
he sees a redhorse. 

My brother says : " He 's standing by the rif 
fles." That 's a stony place where the redhorse 
come. 

We get the stones done just in time for dinner. 
After dinner, my brother gets the spear. We go 
through the brush and across the lot where we picked 
up stone, and down through the back lot. 

When we get across Newbecker's marsh to the 
railroad track, my brother says : " Now you stay 
back and keep still a minute. Maybe there '11 be one 
under the bridge." 

He stoops down as far as he can, and crosses the 
track without making a noise. He creeps over to 
one side of the bridge and looks down into the water. 
Then he goes over to the other side. One of the 
planks is up, and next he looks down through there. 
He motions that I can come. 

This is n't a railroad bridge. It is only the plank 
bridge Newbecker draws his marsh hay across. 

My brother lies down flat on his stomach, with 
his head over the side. He holds the spear so that 
it points straight down. The prongs are right near 
the water. I lie down near him just the same way. 
I want to see him get one. 

We lie there a long time. I don't dare move, I am 
so afraid my brother will scold. 

The water runs fast, and makes ripples. It is so 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

clear you can see everything. There are stones in 
the bottom, and a log bedded away down in them. 

I begin to think we are n't going to get one, when 
all of a sudden my brother's spear goes down with 
a splash. It strikes the log hard. At the same 
time I see something streak through the water up 
stream. I know it was a redhorse. 

My brother holds the spear still with both hands. 
We look down at the bottom. There is something 
reddish wiggling there. 

My brother waits a while. He says : " Out o' 
the way, now ! " 

He works the spear a little to get it out of the log. 
He begins to lift it carefully, but only a little. 
Then he brings it up sideways in a hurry, out onto 
the bridge. There is a redhorse flopping on it. 

The redhorse's back is reddish dark grey, and his 
belly yellowish white, and he has red fins. There is 
blood on him. The fins and the blood are so red 
that it makes him seem red all over. He has a round 
mouth, with thick lips, like a sucker. 

My brother puts his foot on the redhorse and 
pulls the spear out. There is more blood comes out. 
The redhorse does n't flop now. 

My brother says : " Ain't he a fine one ? There 
was five or six of 'em come sailing along right aside 
of one another, and this was the biggest of all of 'em. 
He happened to come right under the spear, and I 
let drive just in time." 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

I say : " I could see one of 'em scoot away. He 
went like a streak o' lightning." 

My brother says : " Well, le' 's lay down again, 
and see if we can't get another one." 

We lie there a long time, but we don't see any 
more. We go up the track to the red bridge, and 
lie down and watch there. 

My brother says : " No use waitin' here ! I 
don't believe any '11 come along. We '11 go down to 
the riffles." 

We stand by the riffles so long that I get tired and 
want to go. My brother says : " All right, le' 's 
go ! We need n't feel so bad if we don't get any 
more. This is a mighty fine redhorse." 

He carries the fish with his fingers caught under 
the gills. Its tail brushes the ground. 



170 



XXXII 

My Brother and Edie Are Missing 

MY eyes open. I hear my mother calling my 
brother. She says : " Come, old sleepyhead ! 
Your pa 's called you twice already, and you '11 get a 
scolding. You know he 's in a dreadful hurry about 
his corn." 

My brother does n't answer. I lie a while, ex 
pecting to hear his bed-cords creak. I go to sleep 
again. 

I wake up again. My father is calling up the 
stairs. He says : " Come ! Come ! Come ! How 
long 'fore you 're goin' to help me with this milkin'? 
We want to get at that corn ! " 

My father starts away from the door. I hear him 
say : " Confound that boy, anyway ! I wish I knew 
some way to hurry him." 

After a while I get up. I go out into the barn 
yard. My father is milking the old red cow. I 
stand watching. The pail has deep foam in it. I 
like the sound of the milk. 

There is Mayweed all around. The dew is on it 
yet. The mosquitoes keep lighting on my father's 
shoulders. He tries to rub them off with his cheek. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

The old cow switches her tail, and swings her head 
around. 

My father says : " I guess before long you '11 
have to learn to milk. Then I '11 know what to de 
pend on." 

I stand rubbing my leg with my foot. The mos 
quito bites itch. I say : " When I learn, I got to 
have a stool." 

My father does n't have a stool. He says it 's all 
nonsense. He just sits on his toes. 

I hear someone coming up behind us in the May 
weed. I look around. My father looks around, 
too. It is Edie's mother. 

We begin to wonder. Edie's mother comes up 
slowly. She holds her skirts up, and lifts her feet, 
on account of the dew. She looks pale. 

We wonder more than ever. Edie's mother says : 
" Good morning to you ! " 

My father says : " Good morning," too. He looks 
as if he did n't know what to make of it. 

When Edie's mother gets a little nearer, the old 
red cow walks off. 

Edie's mother says : " There, I 've scared your 
cow, but I 

My father says: " Never mind, I was just about 
done, anyway. I was only goin' to give her a couple 
o' strips more." 

He keeps on sitting there, looking at her. He has 
the pail between his knees. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Edie's mother says : " I 've come down to see 
whether your son is at home this morning or not." 

My father looks surprised. He says : " Why, 
yes, I s'pose so ! But he ain't up yet. I tried two 
or three times to rouse him, but 't wa'n't no use. 
He 's an awful sleeper in the morning ! " 

Then he says: "Why?" 

Edie's mother says : " Are you quite sure he 's 
there? Did he answer when you called him? Be 
cause my Edie is gone. Her bed is made the same 
as when she went up stairs last night, and I can't 
think of anyone would know where she is except your 
son." 

She begins to cry. My father jumps up. He 
says : " Well, well, well ! We '11 have to see about 
this." I begin to feel scared. 

My father says to me : " You might run ahead 
and see if your ma can't find him." 

I run to the house as fast as I can. I am all out 
of breath by the time I get to the kitchen. 

My mother is just stirring the potatoes in the 
spider. I say : " Ma, Edie run away and her 
mother says she thinks Ted is gone with her! Is he 
up yet?" 

My mother drops the knife. She says: "Well, 
I declare ! " She stands there with her hands hang 
ing. 

She says : " Run up stairs, quick ! and see if he 's 
there!" 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

I open the stair door and run up. I stop at my 
brother's door and listen. I say : " Ted ! " I lis 
ten again. Then I say it again. 

My brother does n't answer. I push the door 
open and go in. The bed is all made. The curtains 
are up, and it is all light. 

I run down stairs. My father and Edie's mother 
are just coming in. 

I say : " He ain't there ! The bed 's all made ! " 

Edie's mother sits down and begins to cry. She 
says : " I knew that was how it would be." 

My father and mother don't say anything. They 
look at the floor. My father bites his nails. 

Edie's mother stops crying a little. She says: 
" Oh, why couldn't you have kept him from doing 
it? " Then she begins to cry again. 

My father says : " Why, we never had the least 
idea it would come to anything like this. I could n't 
be more surprised if I was to be shot ! " 

My mother says : " Well, anyway, crying won't 
do any good. They 're gone, and we '11 have to make 
the best of it." 

Edie's mother stops crying. She says : " Yes, 
it 's all well enough for you to talk that way, but 
what '11 I do, with my girl gone off without leaving a 
word? " She begins to cry again. 

Pretty soon she says : " Oh, do you think they 
could have gone and drowned themselves or some 
thing? You know Edie took on dreadfully about 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

my not letting her go with him." She cries worse 
than ever. 

My father says : " Nonsense ! The idea ! 'T 
ain't very likely, if / know the boy." He bites his 
nails a while. He says : " Depend on it, they know 
what they 're doin'. They 're safe and sound some 
where. The best thing we can do is to go right on 
with our work till they let us know where they are." 

My mother says: " Yes, just go home and go on 
as usual. It won't do any good to make a fuss now." 

Edie's mother gets up. She says : " Could n't 
we telegraph? P'rhaps they 've gone to Richard's 
or somewhere." 

Richard is Edie's uncle. He lives in Town. 

My father says : " All right, we '11 telegraph, if 
it '11 make you feel better. But it 's my opinion it '11 
be a waste of money." 

Edie's mother goes to the door. She says : 
" You '11 promise me faithfully you '11 let me know 
the very first minute you hear anything, won't you? " 

My father says : " Of course we will ! You can 
rest easy about that." 

Edie's mother goes out. My mother says: 
"That's just what they've done! They've gone 
and got married, and there it '11 be an end of his 
schooling, and everything ! " 

My father says : " Just as like as not ! But you 
need n't be afraid. 'T won't be long before we '11 
have 'em back." 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

He says : " I declare I don't know what the 
boy '11 do. I guess he '11 find out now what it is to 
work, whether he feels like it or not." He goes to 
the sink, and starts to wash his hands. He says : 
" But I don't see how I 'm goin' to get all this work 
done without help." 

My mother begins to take the potato up. She 
says : " I 'm just disgusted, I don't care ! If she 'd 
'a' let 'em alone, and not opposed 'em all the time, it 
would have been all right. They 'd have gone on a 
while, and then maybe stopped of their own accord." 

She sets the potato on the table. She says: 
" That 's the way it is with boys and girls. The 
more you oppose 'em, the more they 're bound to 
have their way." 

She says to me : " Well, Bug, set the chairs 
around, and let 's have breakfast." 



186 



XXXIII 
I Go Fishing with Tip and Bill and Georgie 

BILL said for us to come down and go fishing 
to-day. It is Saturday. 

I take the cows up the road, and turn them into 
the lane. Old Whitey is eating at the side of the 
road near Edie's mother's house. She comes down 
the road when she sees us coming, and goes in with 
the rest. She is their cow. 

Every time I take the cows away or bring them 
home, I think of my brother and Edie. When I go 
by the woods, I think of what Edie's mother said 
about their drowning themselves, and I wonder 
whether maybe they have n't killed themselves some 
other way, and are n't in there somewhere, dead, and 
covered up with leaves. 

We don't hear anything from them. Edie's 
mother comes down every day to ask. Some days 
she comes twice. She says she hopes we are n't 
keeping anything from her. 

My father and mother say : " No, you can de 
pend on it, as soon as we hear, we '11 let you know." 
Edie's mother nearly always cries, and she nearly 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

always says she is afraid they have gone and drowned 
themselves. 

I drive the cows down the lane into the woods. I 
leave them there, instead of taking them away around 
to the back lot. My father lets me do that way once 
in a while when I am in a hurry. He says it gives 
the grass in the back lot a chance to catch up. 

Near the spring, I cut across up the hill to the 
road. I keep looking for a nice little ironwood for a 
fishpole, but somehow I never can find one to suit me. 
At last I get to the edge of the woods by the road, 
and take an ironwood I don't like at all. It makes 
me think of what they say about some people getting 
married. They say they are hard to suit, and at 
last take anyone they can get, just like me with the 
fishpole. 

When I get over into the road, I look up to see 
whether Tip is coming. I yell. Pretty soon I yell 
again. I hear Tip answer. He is taking a short 
cut through the woods. 

We go down the road together. Bill is just driv 
ing his cows out into the road. He has to watch 
them along the road every night and Saturdays, be 
cause their pasture is n't big enough. 

Bill sees us, and yells. We can see him hold up 
his hand. We know he is making the two-finger sign. 
That always means : " Going swimming? " 

Tip and I hold ours up, too, and begin to run. 
The dust jumps out on every side when our feet come 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

down. It feels soft and warm, but once in a while 
there is a gravel stone in it, and it hurts. 

Bill has a tin pail. He says : " I ast my mother 
for some bread and butter, so if we wanted to stay 
long." He says : " I 've got some w'ite bread, 
too." 

Bill almost always has rye bread. Bill says his 
mother says everybody eats rye bread in the old 
country. 

I say : " Can't you get some onions to go with 
it?" 

Bill says: "Onions? O' course! Lots of 'em 
right over here." He jumps over the fence and 
pulls some. 

I say : " Don't throw the tops away. They go 
fine in between the bread." 

Down by Newbecker's we meet Syd coming up from 
their marsh pasture with a colt. 

Bill says to Syd : " Goin' to hitch up and take 
Frankie for a ride? " Bill goes over toward the side 
of the road when he says it. 

Syd looks at him. He says : " Shut up your 
sassy mouth ! If I did n't have this colt I 'd break 
your neck for you. Now, you know it ? " 

Bill gets near the fence. He did n't think Syd 
would be quite so mad. He says : " Aw, don't get 
so mad about it ! 7 did n't mean nothin'." 

Syd says : " Well, you want to be careful what 
you say. First thing you know, you '11 get hurt! " 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Syd says to me : " Any news from your brother 
yet?" 

I say : " No, but we expect a letter every day." 

Syd says : " Well, it 's pretty near time, ain't it? 
Le' 's see, it's two weeks to-morrow since they 
skipped." 

The colt begins to prance around. Syd jerks on 
the halter and says : " Ho-o-oa ! Stand still, can't 
you?" 

The colt looks at Bill over in the fence corner. 
He lifts up his ears, and snorts. 

Syd says : " They say Edie's mother is worrying 
about them drownding themselves." 

He laughs. He says : " They say she had 'em go 
to the river yesterday and rake around down by the 
road bridge." 

He laughs again. He says : " Much good it '11 
do her. He knows what lie 's doing, all right. Your 
mother '11 get a letter from 'em one o' these fine days, 
don't you worry ! " 

We leave the cows in the road near the river. We 
go ahead, and throw in at the first road bridge. 
Then we try the second road bridge. 

Bill says : " We ain't never goin' to catch any 
thing here. Come on, le' 's go over to Jones's 
bridge." 

Jones's bridge is n't over a road. It is in a field. 
They draw hay over it from the marsh. There is a 
big elm tree stands over it. We can see the tree from 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

the road bridge. They are doing something there. 

We go across to where they are. They are wash 
ing sheep. 

Tip says : " Aw, everythin 5 's all riled up ! We 
might 's well go back where we come from." 

I say : " Oh, wait a while ! Le' 's watch 'em 
wash." 

The men go right in where it is up to their middle, 
clothes and all. They hold the sheep by the wool, 
and wash them while they lie there floating. They 
are getting ready for shearing time. 

By and by we start back. Tip says : " If we 'd 
come back here afterwards they 'd bite like every 
thing. They always bite after the water 's been 
stirred up that way. But we can't wait, can we? " 

Bill says : " Naw, we got to get some fish." 

When we get back to the gravel hole, by the sec 
ond road bridge, Bill says : " Come on, le' 's have a 
swim, and then le' 's eat our bread and onions. Then 
we '11 try our luck." 

We begin to undress. All we have to do is let our 
pants down and step out of them, and pull our shirts 
off over our heads. 

When we are just beginning, Bill says: 

" ' Mother, may I go out to swim? ' 
'Yes, my darling daughter. 
Hang your clo'es on a hickory limb, 
But don't go near the water ! ' " 

Tip says : " I 'm goin' to be in first ! " 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Bill and I say : " You are, are you? " 

We all hurry as fast as we can. I let my pants 
drop, and jerk off my shirt. I start without think 
ing to get my feet out of my pants. One foot 
catches, and I go down flat on the ground with a 
thump. I jump up as quick as I can. We all three 
go in head first all at once. 

We come up, and swim to the bank. We climb 
out, and then dive and swim again. 

Bill says : " Watch me ! " 

He begins to rub blue clay on his arms. Tip and 
I begin to do it, too. We soap ourselves all over 
with blue clay. We dig into the bank under the 
water to get it. 

We swim, and dive after each other's legs, and 
laugh and yell. We swim and dive so much, and 
laugh so hard, that when we come out we are hungry 
enough to eat anything. 

We eat up all the lunch, and wish we had a lot 
more. We leave the lines in while we eat. Bill gets 
a couple of little bullheads. He puts them in his 
pail, in some water. They wiggle around with their 
noses against the pail and their tails going. It 
makes me think of big black polliwogs. 



192 



XXXIV 

We Have a Swim, Catch Fish, and Lose Our 
Lines on the Wires 

IT is warm. All of a sudden we notice that it is 
darker. Tip looks up, and says : " You know 
what? It's goin' to rain. Mighty soon, too! I 
tell you what le' 's do. Le' 's go over to the old elm 
tree. They bite like everything there when it 's 
muggy and rains." 

The old elm tree is only over the other side of the 
bridge, where the marsh begins. We grab every 
thing, and run across the bridge and through the 
fence to where it is. 

I climb out onto an alder that leans over the water 
just before we come to the tree. There are a couple 
of logs in the water under the alder, and lots of scum. 

I drop my line into the scum. Pretty soon the 
cork wiggles a little bit. I think of a bass. Then it 
goes under, but not very fast. I pull. I can tell by 
the feeling that it 's a bass. Before long I get two 
more. I don't get any more bites. I begin to think 
I have that hole fished out. 

It begins to rain. It is a slow, warm rain, and 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

makes us feel sweaty. Tip and Bill begin to get 
bites. I run over to where they are. 

Tip says : " Now you '11 begin to see us haul 'em 
out ! " 

We don't have to wait long. Tip says : " See 
that? Didn't I tell you?" His cork begins to 
wiggle and swim. 

Bill yells : " Pull ! Pull, you fool you ! " 

Tip jerks. A bullhead flies up over his head. It 
comes off the hook, and lands in the deep grass. 

Tip throws his pole down and runs after the bull 
head. It takes him quite a while to find it. 

Bill yells : " I got a bite ! I got a bite ! " My 
cork goes down at the same time. We both pull. 
They are both bullheads. We run to take them off. 
Mine comes off hard. Bill has to help me. He 
says : " You must n't never let a bullhead have it 
long. He 's sure to swalluh the hook." 

We catch them almost as fast as we can throw in. 
Bill says : " This is the best luck we ever had, al 
most, ain't it ? " 

It keeps raining a little. The water in the river is 
all dots and circles. The drops jump up, and look 
like beads. 

At last we have so many that we get tired of it. 
Tip says : " Oh, I got enough o' this. Come on, 
le"s wind up! Will you?" 

Tip and I carry our bullheads on forked willows. 
I begin to dread cleaning them. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Bill says : " I tell you. Le' 's start the cows over 
towards home, and then le' 's us go down the track 
to the red bridge. I bet the scale fish '11 bite there. 
I 'm sick of catchin' all bullheads." 

Tip and I say : " All right ! " We start off. 

We try it at the red bridge. We don't catch any 
thing but bullheads. We go farther down the track, 
where the river runs right close, near the bridge 
where my brother got the redhorse. The river runs 
fast there. We throw in again. 

Tip says : " Look a' that ! Look a' that ! I got 
a bite! Now you just whait, and I'll show you 
something." 

He pulls up, but there is n't anything on. He 
says: " You have to jerk quick to get them fellers. 
There ! He 's at it again. See it? " 

Bill laughs. He says : " Oh, go on ! Your 
hook 's draggin' on the stones. That ain't no 
bite." 

Tip says: "It ain't, ain't it? Well, I'll show 
you whether it ain't." 

This time Tip jerks harder and quicker. His line 
flies up and catches on the telegraph wire. 

Bill and I laugh. Tip gets red. He says: 
" Laugh, why don't you? " 

We keep on laughing. Just then I happen to look 
for my cork. It is under. I jerk as quick as I can. 
My line flies up and catches on the wire right near 
Tip's. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Tip says : " Aha ! Now it ain't half so funny, 
is it?" 

We stand and look at the lines. Tip says: 
" Darn them telegraph wires ! I 'm always forget- 
t'n' they 're there." 

The lines went around the wire two or three 
times. The hooks and sinkers are dangling. We 
can just about reach them with the tips of our 
poles. 

Tip says : " Now 't won't do no good to pull or 
yank. We must just take it easy. Just kind o' 
poke 'em like, till we get 'em off. More haste the 
less speed, they say." 

We both try to poke the hooks over, and unwind 
the lines that way. Before long my hook gets caught 
on a wire right beside the other. Tip's gets worse, 
too. 

We try a long time. We have to stretch a good 
deal to reach the lines where they are caught. It 
makes us warm. 

By and by I begin to feel mad. I can't help it. 
We both get out of patience, and begin to jab and 
yank. At last we yank as hard as we can. The 
lines break. 

Bill sits on a rail and watches us. He says : 
" Now you done it ! Now you ain't got any lines or 
hooks at all." 

Tip says. "What do I care? I don't want to 
fish any more, anyway." 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

We start across the marsh toward Bill's. The 
lines and hooks hang there on the wires. 

The sun comes out again, and there is a fine breeze 
begins to blow. It is so warm we soon begin to dry 
out. 

We come out onto the road near Newbecker's. 
There are some trees there, and the wind makes the 
leaves rustle so that we notice. 

Tip stops and says : " Come ahead, le' 's climb a 
tree ! It '11 be fine up in there with the wind blowin'." 

We throw the fishpoles down, and run. Tip gets 
up into a hickory across the road, and Bill climbs up 
the maple on Newbecker's side. I have to go up the 
road farther for my tree. It is another hickory. 

Tip and I get up into the tiptops of our trees. 
We get away up to where they are small, and bend 
easily. We get a good hold, and then swing back 
and forth as hard as we can. 

The wind is fine up there. The leaves rustle and 
flutter and flap. We keep swinging. Every little 
while we yell back and forth : " Ri-i-ip . . . ski- 
i-ip . . . skin-em-a-dig-a-dye-doe ! " Tip taught us 
that. 

By the time I get home, I am so hungry I don't 
know what to do. I drop the bullheads on the grass, 
and go right in. The clock is just striking four. 

My mother looks at me. She smiles, and says : 
" Well, I s'pose you 're awfully hungry, ain't you ? 
You always are." 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

She says : " Well, you can get you something in 
the butt'ry to last you till supper time." 

I find some biscuits and butter, and some Dutch 
cheese. It is so good that I can't eat fast enough. 
I get my mouth so full I can hardly swallow. I eat 
so long that my mother has to say : " Come, remem 
ber it '11 be supper time in an hour or so." 

I take a big drink out of the dipper, and go out to 
clean the bullheads. I take one up, and cut through 
the skin on the back of his neck. Then I cut a little 
hole in his throat, and hang him on a nail that I have 
on one of the basswoods. I take a pair of pinchers 
and tear the skin off with one hand while I press him 
with the other hand to keep him from coming off the 
nail. 

Cleaning bullheads is the worst part about fishing. 
Scale fish are n't nearly so bad. But my mother 
says I need n't bring fish home unless I want to clean 
them. And she says it 's wicked to catch the poor 
things and then throw them away. 



198 



XXXV 

/ Fmd the First Strawberry, and My Father 
Makes Boxes 

I TURN the cows into the lane, and shut the gate. 
My father says I can leave them in the woods 
again to-day. 

I start back down the road. Just beyond the big 
maple, I climb over the fence into the strawberry 
patch. It is time strawberries were beginning to 
get ripe. 

Right where I climb over, there are cherry trees 
along the fence. They are full of green cherries. 
Some are getting white, and a few of them are almost 
red. The robins fly out of the trees when I jump 
down from the fence. 

I walk along between the strawberry rows. The 
straw is wet and soft, and feels good. The dew is n't 
anywhere near off yet, it is so early. The vines are 
big and green, and all wet. The rows are so near 
together that they get my feet and ankles wet. 

I stoop over and brush the vines with my hand. I 
half expect to see something red down there among 
the green and yellow leaves. There are lots of clus- 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

ters of green berries, and quite a few white blossoms 
with yellow centers. My hand gets wet and cool. 

All of a sudden, just as I straighten up to go 
along, a rabbit gives a jump and scampers away 
between the rows. It scares me at first. Then I run 




after him till he goes into the clover. His tail is 
like a little bunch of cotton. It keeps bobbing up 
and down. 

It makes me think of last year, when Uncle An 
thony reaped our wheat and I ran after the little rab 
bit and got him under a bundle, and my brother 
helped me catch him. I wonder if this is n't the same 
rabbit, only grown up. 

I walk along farther. I know it is no use looking 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

where the vines are so deep. The sun does n't get 
down in there. I keep watch of the thin places, and 
the south sides of the rows. There is where you 
always find the ripe ones first. 

After a while, all at once I give a jump. I just 
saw something red. But I don't 
stop, because I see right away that 
it is only a little red leaf. 




\> 

Pretty soon I jump again, and squat down. This 
time it is really a red berry. But when I turn it 
over it is green on the other side. I rumple up the 
straw between the rows a little, to help me find the 
place to-morrow morning. I go on looking. 

I walk up and down three or four rows before I 
see anything red again. Then all of a sudden I jump 
and squat down quicker than ever. I say: 
" Oh-h-h ! M-m-m-m ! Ain't you a nice ripe one ? 
M-m-m-m! Oh-h-h!" 

This one is red all over, and plump and firm. I 
put my first two fingers under it, and get ready to 
pull it off. I sit looking at it, and saying: " M-m- 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

m-m ! " There are tiny, plump little bits of seeds 
scattered all over it. They are yellow, and glisten 
like gold. The pointed leaves under it, where my 
fingers hold it, are crisp and green. 

I pull. The berry comes off. It makes a sort of 
smacking noise, and rolls over in my hand. I hold 
it up and look at it, and smell of it. It makes me 
think of straw, but it has a berry smell, too. 

I don't find any more, but I know there will be one 
or two to-morrow, and then they will begin to come 
fast. I run to the house. I am in a hurry to have 
my mother see the first berry. 

I hold the berry in my hand, covered up. I go up 
to my mother. 

I say : " Hold out your hand ! " 

My mother says: "What is it? A bug? " She 
laughs a little. 

I say: "No." 

My mother does n't hold out her hand. 

I say: "Here! Take it!" 

I look up at her, and laugh. She holds her hand. 
I let the berry drop into it. 

My mother opens her hand. She says : " Oh, 
the first strawberry ! Thank you ! M-m-m-mm ! 
Where did you find it? " 

She puts the berry in a white saucer and sets it on 
the table. She says : " It 's too pretty to eat. 
We '11 save it till dinner time, so your pa can see it. 
Then we '11 divide it. Shall we? " 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

I say : " I want to show it to him now. Can 
I? " 

I can hear my father hammering, out in the barn. 
I can tell by the sound that he is making strawberry 
boxes. It rings a little when he lays the hammer 
down on the iron part. 

I take the berry in the saucer and run out. My 
father is glad to see it. He says : " Well, well, 
well ! A nice, ripe berry ! You don't say ! " 

He says : " Which end of the patch did you get 
it in the north? " 

I say yes. My father says he thought so, because 
that was the early end. He says : " 'T won't be 
many days now before they 're in full swing. I de 
clare, I don't see how I 'm goin' to be able to 'tend to 
the hay and berries all at once. You '11 all have to 
turn in and help, I guess." 

By and by he says : " If that boy had n't gone 
and run off just as work was beginnin', it would be 
different. Well, I s'pose I 've got to get me some 
more help, and that 's all there is to it." 

I take the berry back to the house, and come out 
to the barn again. My father is just coming up 
from the basement with an armful of box-stuff. It 
has to be soaked before you can make boxes of it. 
It has little lines cut across it, so it will fold. If it 
is n't wet, it breaks right off. 

My father lays the box-stuff on top of a barrel at 
his left hand. There is a bunch of long pieces with 

203 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

four lines cut across them, and a bunch with only 
two. 

My father gets up on his barrel. It has the old 
buffalo robe over it. His legs hang down. In front 
of him there is a thick scantling. The end next to 
him has an iron plate on it. The other end of it 
sticks into the big upright beam that runs away up 
to the scaffold. There is another scantling that 
stands on the floor and holds up the end of the one 
with the iron on it. 

My father folds one of the short pieces, and lets it 
hang over the scantling. Next, he bends a long 
piece, and folds it so it makes the outside of a box. 
Then he puts the short piece inside the long one, to 
make the bottom. After that he puts the box over 
the end of the scantling and drives in the tacks. The 
iron is to make them clinch. He has the tacks in a 
little square place on the scantling in front of him. 

There is a big heap of boxes already made. When 
my father throws another on, it rolls down the side 
of the heap and makes a light, hollow noise. It 
is n't like a wood noise, and it is n't like pasteboard, 
but half way between. 

I stand and watch. Pretty soon my father says: 
" I s'pose you might be putting 'em into cases. 
Don't you want to ? You won't have to go to school 
for an hour yet, will you? " 

I get some cases, and begin to put the boxes in. 
The cases hold sixteen quarts. When I get them all 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

in, there are ten or twelve cases. Georgie always 
calls them " crates." He used to live in Town, and 
he says lots of things different. 

My father gets down from the barrel. He says: 
" Anyway, there 's enough to keep us goin' for the 
first pickin' or two." 

He goes to the door and looks out. He says: 
" Well, by the time I can get hitched up on the mower, 
I guess the dew '11 be about off. I got to get at that 
clover. I want to get it pretty well along by the 
time the berries get to booming." 

We start for the stable. We go down the base 
ment ladder. The old mares begin to whinner. 
They think maybe we are going to bring them some 
oats. 

My father says : " You see I made quite a lot of 
boxes while I was waiting for the dew to go off." 

He goes after the currycomb and brush. He says : 
" You can get a good deal done by watching the cor 
ners of your time. Of course, we won't need the 
boxes for a day or two yet, but it 's a good deal bet 
ter to drive your work than to have your work drive 
you." 



805 



XXXVI 

It Is a Hot Day at School, and Charley and 
Dan Have a Quarrel 

IT is hot in the school room. It makes me think 
of the word " sultry." We never say sultry, 
though, when we talk. We always say " muggy." 
That means that the grass is thick and green and 
full of mosquitoes, and the ground is moist and warm, 
and the sun is hot, and you feel sticky. And you 
feel sure it will rain again soon. 

Teacher is red in the face. She sits and fans her 
self, and looks out through the window. Every lit 
tle while she wipes her face with her handkerchief. 

It is so hot we don't feel like cutting up. We sit 
and study our spelling and geography without car 
ing very much one way or the other. Tip is whisper 
ing away to himself : " Believe, b-e-1-i-e-v-e, b-e- 
1-i-e-v-e, b-e-1-i-e-v-e ; conceive, c-o-n-c-e-i-v-e, c-o-n- 
c-e-i-v-e, c-o-n-c-e-i-v-e ." I am whispering: 
"What other principal products of Russia? 
Wheat-wool-wine-salt, wheat-wool-wine-salt, wheat- 
wool-wine-salt ." 

Teacher says to us : " Try not to make quite so 
much noise with your studying." She smiles. She 

206 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

wipes her face again, and keeps on fanning. When 
we recite, she does n't seem to care a great deal 
whether we have a good lesson or not. 

There are quite a few seats without scholars. 
That is because it is summer term, and the big boys 
and girls are all working at home. Tip and I are 
almost the biggest boys ourselves now. There are 
only two or three boys that are older, but thore are 
five or six girls. 

Teacher lets out for noon. We take our dinner 
pails and go out under the big maples. Tip goes 
home for his dinner, the way he always does. 

When we get through dinner, we all go in and put 
our pails back on the shelf. Then we go out into the 
entry and get a drink. The water is n't very cool. 
The dipper is rusty. When I drink, Dan gives the 
dipper a push. The water slops onto my shirt. I 
chase Dan out of doors. 

It is too hot to play ball. We try peg a while, but 
give it up. We try duck-on-the-rock, and give that 
up, too. We lie down on our elbows in the shade 
again. 

Charley Binzel has a chew of rubber gum. He is 
bigger than we. He does n't have to stay at home 
and work, because his father keeps saloon. 

Charley chews his gum and talks at the same time. 
Dan has some gum, too. He takes hold of it with 
his fingers and draws it away out in a long strip. 
Then he chews it back in again. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Charley sits up. He says to Lije: "I bet you 
can't do this ! " He cracks all his knuckles at the 
same time. 

Lije's father is treasurer of the school district. 
We saw his name in the register after he visited school 
one day. He could n't write as well as we can, and 
he spelled it " T-r-e-s-u-e-r." 

Lije says : " I bet you I can too ! " 

Charley says : " All right, le' 's see you, then ! " 

Lije says: "I could if I wanted to. I don't 
want to." 

Charley says : " Why don't you want to ? " 

Lije says: " 'Cause. It makes your ankles big." 

We all laugh at Lije. He gets red. 

Charley says : " Ankles your grandmother ! Go 
on ! You mean your knuckles. Ankles ! " 

Lije says: "Never you mind what I mean! I 
guess I know what I mean ! " He looks mad. 

Charley sits up again. He leans on his hand in 
stead of his elbow. He says to Dan : " Come on 
over here. I want to tell you somethin'." 

Dan says: " WJiut do you want to tell me?" 

Charley says : " Come over here and I '11 tell you. 
Come here, close! I got to whisper it." 

Dan likes it because Charley chooses him to tell 
it to. He goes over and sits down where Charley 
says. 

Charley makes believe he whispers something in 
Dan's ear. Then he rolls over and jumps up and 

208 



begins to laugh. He yells out : " Sold again ! " 

Dan jumps up with his fists doubled. He is always 
ready to get mad about something. He feels of his 
pants where he sat down, and there is a big flat piece 
of rubber gum sticking there. There are little pieces 
of dirt and grass in it. Dan tries to get it off, but 
it won't all come. 

Dan runs at Charley and keeps trying to hit him 
with his fists, but Charley's arms are too long, and 
Dan can't reach him. 

Dan says : " You wait, will you, till I get a hold 
of a good big club, and I '11 show you, you " He 
goes running and circling around until he finds a 
great big stick. He grabs it up, and begins to run 
at Charley again. 

Charley runs around the big maple, and keeps 
dodging. He yells : " Here ! You put that club 
down, you little sucker! Put down that club, I tell 
you!" 

Dan keeps on running at him, and yells : " I 
won't either! You just come away from this tree, 
and I '11 show you whether I will or not, you old " 

Charley yells : " You will, will you ? " He stops 
running. Dan stops, too. Charley walks up to him, 
and says : " Put down that club, I tell you ! " 

Dan stands still, and looks up at Charley. His 
face is all red. He scowls. He says : " I don't haf 
to. You need n't think I 'm afraid o' you, you old 
beer-belly you ! " 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Charley steps up closer to him. He doubles up his 
fists, and holds them out a little way toward Dan. 
He says : " Don't you call me that again, if you 
know what 's good for you ! " 

Dan says : " Well I will call you it, as often as I 
want to ! Then you need n't go stickin' gum on my 
pants." 

Charley says : " Well, you won't call me it, and 
you need n't give me any more o' your lip ! Now, 
you know it ? " 

Dan says : " That 's all right ! You need n't 
think you 're goin' to stick your ol' gum on my pants. 
You would n't dast to do it to anyone o' your 
size." 

Charley says : " Well, you need n't think you 're 
goin' to call me beer-belly, that 's all ! " 

Dan says : " Well I will if I want to, and it '11 
take more 'n you to stop me ! " 

Charley says : " It will, hey ? I '11 show you 
whether it will or not ! " 

Dan says: "You just lay a hand on me and 
you '11 see ! That 's all right ! " 

They both stand there. Dan holds the club, and 
Charley keeps his fists doubled. 

Lije says to Charley: "Why don't you hit him? 
You dassent ! " 

Dan says: "Yes, why don't you hit me, if you 
want to so bad? Just try it, and you '11 see! " 

Charley says : " Huh ! S'pose I 'd dirty my 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

hands on a little pup like you?" He walks away 
from us. 

Dan says: "That's all right! He needn't 
think he can stick his ol' gum on my pants." 

Lije calls out: "Dassent, dassent, dassent!" 

Charley turns around, and walks back right up to 
Lije. He says: "Say, do you want anything? 
Huh? " He doubles up his fists. 

Lije gets red. He says: "Get away from me, 
now! Take someone o' your size. Get away! / 
ain't touched you, have I? " 

Charley says: "Who said you had, huh? Who 
said you had? " He takes Lije by the neck of his 
shirt. 

Lije gives a jerk and gets away. He runs as fast 
as he can, and yells : " Dassent, dassent, dassent ! " 

Charley shakes his fist at Lije. He yells : " Just 
wait till I catch you, young feller ! " 



311 



XXXVII 

Gertie and Tip Have Trouble with Dan in 
Counting out and Peg 

THE girls are down under the basswood, near 
the schoolhouse. They put the covers onto 
their dinner pails, and set them all together by the 
tree. 

One of the girls yells up to us : " Want to play 
hide-and-go-seek ? " 

We all run down to where they are. In winter we 
never play with the girls, but now it is different. 
The big boys are n't here, and there are n't so many 
boys' games. 

Gertie says : " Come on, I '11 count out." 

We all stand around Gertie. She begins to point 
at us, one after another. She says: 

" O-shoo-sky-bloo, 
All-out-but-you ! " 

The " you " comes on Dan. Gertie says : 
"You're it!" 

Dan begins to scowl and talk cross right away. 
He says : " Oh, that ain't no fair ! You have to 
count out the other way." 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Gertie says : " All right, I '11 do it the other way, 
if you ain't satisfied." She points again, and says : 

" Mon-key-mon-key-bot-tle-o'-beer, 
How-many-mon-keys-are-they-here? 
One-two-three-out-goes-she ! " 

The " she " comes on Minnie. Gertie says : 
" Minnie 's out ! " 

Minnie jumps up, and says: "Goody! I don't 
have to be it ! " 

Gertie goes over " Mon-key-mon-key " again, and 
Nettie goes out. Then I go out, and some more go 
out. There are only Dan and a couple of others 
left. 

Dan shoves in between Gertie and the rest. He is 
afraid he will be it. He says : " Oh, I know a bet 
ter one 'n that ! Hoi' on ! Listen ! " 

Dan begins : 

"Ink pink - 
Oh how you do " 

Gertie gives him a push. It almost knocks him 
over. She says : " Keep still ! You ought to be 
'shamed of yourself. Now you can't play with us ! " 
She gets red in the face, and looks mad. 

Dan looks cross right away. He says : " I kin 
too play! Who's a-goin' to stop me? I'll play 
for all o' you! " 

Gertie says : " Well, you won't ! Now you go 
'way, or I '11 tell teacher ! " 

213 



Dan looks crosser than ever. He says : " All 
right, tell-her, and smell-her, and kick-her-down-cel- 
lar! 7 don't care. I do' want to play any 
how!" 

We play hide-and-seek a while without Dan. 
Then one of the girls says : " Oh, don't let 's play 
this any longer ! It 's so hot. Let 's play drop-the- 
handkerchief ! That '11 be lots cooler." 

Minnie says : " No, le' 's play ring-around-the 
rosy ! Come on ! Over here, on this nice grass 
place." 

Lije says : " Oh, I ain't a-goin' to play that! " 

I say : " I wish Tip 'd hurry up and come back 
from dinner. I don't see why he can't bring his grub 
to school, anyway, like the rest of us." 

Just then we hear Tip yell : " Yah-'oo ! Yah- 
'oo ! " He can always get that yell better than any 
one else. 

Tip comes running up to where we are. Georgie 
gets back at the same time. 

We all sit down in the shade. Tip says : " Come 
on, le' 's have a game o' peg ! " 

Dan gets beat. Tip sharpens a peg to drive in. 
Dan will have to pull it up with his teeth. 

Tip whittles quite a while. Dan says : " Aw, you 
dassent make it so sharp ! " 

The reason he says that is because he knows it 
will go away down in if it is sharp, and he '11 get a 
mouthful of dirt when he pulls it. 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Tip takes the peg in his left hand. He says : 
'" Now, I kin hit it ten times with my eyes shut." 

Tip starts the peg with his eyes open. Dan yells : 
" Hoi' on there! That 's enough! You got to shut 
your eyes." 

Tip says : " Well, a feller 's got to get it started, 
ain't he?" 

Dan says : " Yes, but he ain't got to take all day, 
is he?" 

Tip takes his jackknife by the blade. He looks 
at the peg a little while. Then he shuts his eyes, and 
begins to say : " One two three ." He hits 
the peg every time. 

Dan jumps up on his hands and knees, and looks 
at Tip's eyes. He yells : " Aw, get out ! You 're 
lookin' ! 'T ain't no fair ! I ain't goin' to pull it, 
now!" 

Tip says : " I ain't neither lookin'. Shut up ! " 

He goes on counting : " Four five six 
seven ." 

Dan keeps watching his eyes, to see whether he 
looks. 

Tip misses only once or twice. The peg is away 
down in the grass. 

Dan gets down on his hands and knees. He looks 
at the peg. He says : " 'T ain't no fair ! You 
looked while you was drivin' it. I ain't a-goin' to 
pull it." 

Tip says : " I did not look while I was drirm it ! 
215 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Go on ! You got beat, and you got to pull the peg." 

Dan says: "I have, have I? Who's a-goin' to 
make me, I like to know ! " 

Tip says: "Me an' Georgie an' Lije an' Cully, 
that 's who, if you want to know." Cully is what 
they call me sometimes, just for fun. They heard 
my brother say it once. 

Dan says: "Is that so? Well, you just try it, 
that 's all 7 got to say. I kin lick the hull four o' 
you." 

Tip says: "You kin, kin you? All right, come 
on ! We '11 give you a chance ! " 

Tip gets up and makes a line on the ground over 
by home base. We all stand by the line, with our 
toes on it. 

Tip says to Dan: "Now you kin just step up 
here, if you want anything ! " 

Dan says : " I don't have to. If you want to 
fight so bad, you can just come over here ! " 

Dan goes across the road, and stands in the fence 
corner. He says : " Now, come on, the hull four o' 
you, if you dast, an' I '11 knock you into the middle o' 
next week ! " 

We run across the road, and stand in front of him. 
Every time we make a motion toward him, he begins 
to kick with both legs and swing both arms, all at the 
same time. 

We don't care very much, so we go and sit down 
again. 

216 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Tip says: "Who cares for him, anyway? He's 
all mouth ! We could lick him if we wanted to." He 
begins to practice nosings. He says : " Could n't 
we?" 

Lije says: " Course we could! But we would n't 
dirty our hands on him, would we? " 

Lije says that because he heard Charley say it to 
Dan a while ago. He is always doing that way. 

The girls are playing London Bridge. We know 
it because we can hear them singing: 

"London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down; 
London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady!" 

Dan comes back and sits down near us. He 
scowls. When we look at him, he sticks out his 
tongue. We all sit with our feet drawn up, and our 
arms around our knees. 

The girls begin another game. This time they 
sing something that always ends : 

"Turn to the east, and turn to the west, 
And turn to the one that you love best ! " 



217 



XXXVIII 

We Have Thunder and Lightning, Rain, Hail, 
and a Fine Rainbow 

THE sun shines in through the west windows. It 
has got so far around that the hickories don't 
shade us any more. It is hotter than ever. 

Tip looks at me. He says: "Your head's in it 
now. Don't it feel hot? " He puts his hand on top 
of my head. He sa}'s : " Ast her if you can't put 
the curtains down. Go ahead ! " 

I say : " I do' want to. You ask her." 

Tip holds his hand up. Teacher does n't look. 
Tip snaps his fingers. 

Teacher looks cross. She says : " How many 
times have I told you I don't want you to snap your 
fingers ? " 

Tip does n't say anything. Teacher says : 
" Well, what do you want? " 

Tip says: "Can he pull the curtains down? 
It 's awful hot." 

Teacher says : " Of course ! " She says : " You 
may pull down the whole three of them." 

That makes it darker. The curtains are green. 
When they move, the light changes in the room. 

218 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

We sit studying quite a long while. Teacher fans 
herself. Gertie waves her handkerchief in front of 
her face. 

Tip has drops on his forehead. He whispers to 
me : "I bet you my shirt 's wet through, on my 
back. Look! Ain't it?" 

I lean back and look. Tip's shirt looks darker 
under the suspenders, and along by the side of them. 
The edge of his hair is wet, too. 

Tip begins to laugh. He is looking at Lije. 
He whispers to me: "Look a' Lije! Look a' the 
drop o' sweat or something on the end of his 
nose." 

We come pretty near laughing out loud. 

Lije sees us laughing at him. He looks cross, and 
pretty soon he sticks out his tongue at us. That 
makes the drop fall onto his slate. When he sees 
it, he keeps looking at it a long time. He can't make- 
out where it came from. We almost laugh out loud 
again. 

All of a sudden we notice that it is a great deal 
darker than it was. We know it must be different 
outside. 

Teacher goes and puts the curtains up. The sun 
is under a cloud, but there is blue sky up above the 
cloud. We can see other clouds. They are high, 
and heaped up, and puffy. At the top they are white 
and shiny. At the bottom they are grey, and almost 
black. 

219 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

We can tell that there is going to be a shower. 
We are all glad, because that will make it cooler. 
Teacher smiles. Her face is as red as it can be. 

The clouds get higher. We hear the leaves on 
the hickories outside rustle a little. Then one of 
the curtains begins to swing a little, and we feel the 
cool come in. At the same time we hear something 
away off over the woods go : " Rum-mle-um-mle-um- 
rnle-um-m-m ' That is thunder. 

Every time it thunders and rains, it makes me 
think of old Grandpa Blake. He is one of the Eng 
lish from down near the east burying ground, and 
he talks like all the rest of the English. One day 
when he came to Sunday school, he stopped outside 
where we were all waiting, and put his hand on my 
head, and said to all of us : " Well, my boys, 'ow 
hare ye?" Then he looked at the sky, and said: 
" I guess it 's goin' to h-rain. It looks like thoonder 
in the h-west." 

We always say it, ever since. Tip looks at me 
just as I am thinking of it. He begins to say it: 
" I guess it 's goin' to h-rain. It looks like 
thoonder " 

Just as Tip says it, it thunders again. It goes : 
" Rum-mle-um-mle-um-mle-um . . . boo-o-om ! " 

It gets darker than ever. The clouds are so high 
that we can't see the white, puffy part any more. 
There is just a big, solid, dark blue cloud all over the 
sky. Once in a while there is a flash of lightning. 

220 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

The rumbling sounds nearer. It is right over the 
woods now. 

The curtains swing in again. Then they rattle. 
We feel the bree/e enough now to be cooler. We 
turn our faces toward the windows and let it blow 
our hair. We open our mouths and take deep 
breaths. We breathe out again with a " Ha-a-ah ! " 
Teacher smiles at us. She lays her fan down. 

The breeze gets almost cold. It gets too strong. 
Teacher puts the west windows down. She says : 
" It will rain soon, anyway." It rumbles right along 
now, and there are lots of little lightning flashes. 

Pretty soon there is a ticking noise on the windows, 
We look up, and see drops beginning to splash on the 
panes. They come thicker and thicker. It lightens 
again. It is so dark we can hardly see to study. 
The leaves of the maples outside the east windows 
make a great noise with their rustling. The bass- 
wood right near the window does n't rustle. It is 
so near that the wind does n't strike it, but the big 
drops come down on its leaves with a loud, patting 
sound. 

All of a sudden there is a terrible flash of lightning. 
We all jump and wink, and look around at one an 
other. Then there is an awful crash of thunder. 
We sit with our toes pressed against the floor until it 
comes. The girls all jump, and so does teacher. 
Gertie gives a little squeal and puts her fingers in her 
ears. Some of the little girls and boys begin to cry. 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Teacher says : " Never mind ! It won't hurt you." 

Then the rain comes pouring down. Outside the 
windows, it is all white when we look. We hear the 
water falling on the roof, and we hear it come down 
on the ground under the eaves. The spelling class is 
reciting. We can hardly hear the words. 

Something begins to tick louder on the windows. 
At first it ticks just once. It sounds as if a gravel 
stone had hit the pane. Then there is another tick, 
and another. Then there are a lot of them. It is 
hail. We can hear the stones strike the roof and the 
leaves of the basswood. The big ones hit the 
shingles, and then bound. They are so heavy we be 
gin to hear them thump on the ground. They strike 
the window panes so hard we are afraid they will 
break the glass. 

I stretch up in my seat and look out. The stones 
are dancing on the grass. The road is full of muddy 
water. The big waterdrops dance in the road just 
like the hailstones on the grass. 

It rains and lightens and thunders and hails until 
we begin to wonder how the girls are going to get 
home. We boys don't care for a little rain. 

But all of a sudden there is the biggest flash of 
lightning of all, and the biggest crash of thunder. 
We can hardly see or hear after it. Everyone's eyes 
look big. 

For a minute the rain does n't come down so hard. 
Then there is another big flash and crash, with a lot 

222 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

of thunder afterward that sounds like a team of 
horses and a big wagon on top of someone's barn, 
with the horses rearing like everything. Then all of 
a sudden it gets lighter. We don't hear the rain on 
the roof any more. We only hear it falling off the 
eaves. It looks as if the sun were going to come out 
again. 

By and by a little breeze comes again. The leaves 
of the basswood flutter, and a lot of drops come down. 
Then the sun begins to shine. Everything is as quiet 
as can be. 

Teacher is just through with the last spelling 
class. She says: "There! It's stopping just in 
time. You may pack up your books." By and by 
she says : " Dismissed," and we all go out. 

The steps are wet and clean. There are little 
hailstones scattered on them. The air is cool, but 
right away we can feel the warm sun. The ground 
is all hailstones and water. In some places the tops 
of the grass are all you can see above the water. In 
other places the stones are so thick we can scoop 
them up in our hands. Our feet are so cold from the 
water and the hailstones that they get all red. 

We scoop up the hailstones, and look at them, and 
put them in our mouths. We hold them in our hands 
until they melt. Tip goes up behind Minnie and 
puts one down her neck. She begins to scream, and 
runs away. 

The little Polacks see Tip put the hailstone down 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Minnie's neck. They start and run, and don't stop 
until they think we won't chase them. 

Tip yells to August : " Come on back, August ! 
Here 's some awful big ones here, under the tree. 
Come on ! " 

August yells : " I von't do ut ! You tink ve vant 
such a hailshtones down our backs?" 

They stand there in a row. We make believe we 
are going to chase them. They turn around and run 
as fast as they can until they are over the hill. 

We pick up some of the biggest stones and throw 
them at the trees. Then we throw some at each 
other. There are fresh green leaves on the ground. 
The hailstones knocked them off. Some of them have 
holes in them. 

Tip says : " These here are nothin' to the ones 
that come down once when ma was alive. Some of 
'em was as big as hen's eggs. I had one of 'em take 
me on the head, and it made a bump like an English 
walnut." 

While we are looking on the ground for big hail 
stones, all at once someone yells out: " Oh, look at 
the rainbow ! " 

We all stop and look up. It is just coming out, 
up above the basswood and the maples. In a minute 
more it is as bright as can be. One end of it comes 
down at one side of Lije's house, and the other away 
over north by the Dutch church. 

The schoolhouse trees seem greener than we ever 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

saw them before. The cloud under the rainbow is 
so blue it is almost black. 

We all say : " 0-o-oh, ain't it pretty ! " 

We go from one place to another to see it. Soon 
there is another bow right near it, but not so bright. 
Then the first one begins to fade, and the other one 
is gone. 

We begin to play with the hailstones again. The 
little ones are just about melted. Pretty soon we 
start for home. We walk in the middle of the road, 
where the mud is deep. It squeezes up between our 
toes, and feels funny. 

We stop in front of Tip's house to make some mud 
pies. We make them big, right in the middle of the 
road. The mud is always deep in front of Tip's 
house. They have a little crossing made of ashes, 
or Tip's auntie could never go to see the neighbors 
or get to church a day like this. 



225 



XXXIX 

7 Manage the Strawberry Picking While My 
Father Gets in Hay 

MY father sets down his coffee cup, and says to 
Ernest : " Ernest, you might hitch up right 
away. There ain't any dew this morning, and we 
can begin to draw as soon as we can get out." 

Ernest is our hired man. My father had to get 
him because my brother ran away. 

My father says to me : "I guess you and your 
ma '11 have to superintend the picking. I can't spare 
any time from the clover." 

He says to me : " I guess you better run down 
and see if you can't get Annie and Pauline to pick. 
Maybe you can get one or two of the depot boys, too. 
You '11 need all the help you can get." 

My father gets up to go out. He puts his old 
straw hat on. It is all ragged around the edge. He 
says : " Now, you women folks be careful of the 
vines, and don't trample 'em all down. You do make 
such awful work with your dresses ! " 

I leave the cows in the road while I run down to 
the depot. Annie and Pauline say they will come. 

226 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

They are the wives of the section men that pas 
ture their cows in our lot. I get Jim and Fritz, 
too. 

When I get back, I turn the cows into the lane. 
Then I run home and out to the barn. I carry out 
some cases under my arms. I put them under the 
cherry trees by the road, at the edge of the straw 
berry patch. 

We take a row apiece, and begin. My mother has 
the row next to me. We set our boxes in the open 
spots in the middle of the vines, where the leaves 
are n't so thick. We get all the berries that are in 
sight, and then brush the vines over to find those that 
are hidden. 

The berries are so thick that I can almost pick a 
quart without moving. I get five or six empty boxes 
and drop them along the row ahead of me, so I won't 
have to get up so often. I pick into two boxes at 
the same time. 

When I have my boxes full, I carry them down to 
the cherry trees and put them in the cases in the 
shade. I carry the other people's boxes, too, so they 
can go on picking. I set each one's in a different 
place. 

Annie's berries are all juice. I have to go to her 
and say : " You must put your fingers on both sides 
of the stem when you pick, and pull 'em off, that 
way not take hold of the berry itself. Then you 
won't squush 'em so." 

227 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Annie says : " Oho, so dot 's dc vay you do ut ! 
All right den." Annie drags her words. We like to 
hear her talk. 

Pauline says: "How green should ve pick um? 
Will dese here vones do? Or should ve pick um riper, 
yet? " 

I look at Pauline's box, and say : " Some of 'em 
are too green. Have 'em red all over." 

Fritz says : " Are mine and Jim's full enough ? 
Do you want us to heap 'em up, or should we have 
'em j ust level with the box ? " 

I go and look at their boxes. I say : " Heap 'em 
up a little more. Pa says he likes to give good, full 
measure. Anyway, you know they shake down by 
the time he gets to the Village." 

Annie and Pauline do a good deal of talking. My 
mother and I laugh to ourselves at the broken way 
they talk. 

Pauline says : " I yoost got to vork in my po- 
tadoes, ven he comes and ast vedder I vould pick to 
day. Ferst, I did n't vant to." 

Annie says : " It vas yoost de same vay vit me. 
But den I tought how my man he likes dose berries, 
and I tought I might yoost as veil come as not. I 
said, dat ol' garden it can vait till to-morrow al 
ready." 

Jim says: " Dast we eat some? Does your fa 
ther care ? " 

I say: " Oh, if you don't eat too many." 
228 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Pretty soon I hear Annie say : *' Dose boys dey 
iss eating more as dey iss picking, not? " 

When Annie gets five quarts picked, she sets the 
last one down by her pail. She says : " Dis here 
vone, it '11 be mine, von't it ? " 

We give every fifth quart. If they want money, 
we give them a cent and a half. Jim and Fritz are 
going to take pay. They say they want to get a lit 
tle money for firecrackers. 

I have to go after more boxes. I get enough so 
that everyone can have a case. I take all the empty 
boxes out, and put the full ones in. 

I lose time attending to the rest, but I get my case 
filled as soon as the others, because I am a fast 
picker. I have had a lot of practice. 

I begin to carry the cases to the house. I get 
pretty tired by the time I am there. I put the cases 
on the cellar bottom. The berries look fine. They 
glisten a little in the dark. 

I get another case half full before dinner. My 
mother has to stop at eleven, to get dinner for the 
men. We all stop at quarter to twelve. Jim and 
Fritz run home for their dinner. 

We are at it again by one. We don't feel quite so 
much like it now, though. Every little while I stand 
up and look to see how many rows are left. It will 
take till supper time. Annie and Pauline don't talk 
so much now, and Fritz does n't eat so much. We 
are all getting tired. My back aches. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Annie stands up. She puts her hands on her 
sides, and bends back, and grunts. She says : " It 's 
all vat I can do to stand up, yet. I bet you I am 
so lame to-morrow I can'd valk no more." 

We get through a little after four. Annie and 
Pauline have their pails full. The berries look fine 
with the bright tin all around. 

It takes me a long time to carry all the cases. 
There are twelve on the cellar bottom when I get 
through. Jim helps me carry the last. 

When we come up out of the cellar, my father and 
Ernest are sharpening the scythe. My father is 
turning. We stand and watch them. Ernest bears 
down hard, and holds the scythe there a long time 
without stopping. When he lifts it up, my father 
says: "I declare! This just takes the tuck out 
o' me." 

Jim says: " Le' me turn a while. Will you?" 

My father says : " You sure you want to ? It 's 
pretty hard work, even if it does look easy." 

Jim says : " Oh, I like to turn." 

Ernest says : " All right, den. Come ahead." 

It does n't take long to finish. Jim puffs quite a 
while after they stop. We go to the woodshed 
door, and my father pays him. 

My mother says : " I guess you '11 have time to 
run down before supper and see if there 's a letter. 
Maybe we '11 hear from them to-day. It 's over a 
month now." 

230 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

After chores, my father takes the lamp and goes 
down to see the berries. He says: "By jolly, 
that 's as fine a lot o' berries as I ever saw ! They 
ought to sell like everything." 



43 



XL 

My Father and I Take the Berries to the Village 

MY father tells Ernest he can bring the horses 
around as soon as he wants to. He says : 
" You need n't put any oats in. We 're gettin' 
started early enough to get back for dinner. I guess 
we'll be able to finish the hay this afternoon." 

We go down cellar, and begin to bring up the ber 
ries. We set them by the woodshed door. 

My mother says to my father : " You better fix 
up, just a little bit. You don't want to go looking 
too ragged. They '11 think you ain't got any one to 
take care of you. And you know there 's a good 
many of 'em that know us." 

My father laughs. He says : " Oh, don't you 
worry about me! I '11 be all right." 

My mother makes me put my shoes on, and a col 
lar, and brush my hair. I never like shoes. To 
day they are worse than ever, because I have a sore 
heel. I ran a sliver into it yesterday, and it was 
hard getting it out. 

Ernest drives up to the door with the light wagon. 
They set the cases in, and put a spread over them. 

233 



My father takes the 
Anything you 



We climb up onto the seat, 
lines. 

My father says to my mother: 
want me to bring? " 

My mother says: "Well, we're just about out 
of sugar. And I s'pose you might as well get a sack 
of flour this time as next unless you calculate to 
go to mill soon. Get the patent." 

My father is just going to start the old mares. 




Ernest says: "Vat should I do till } - ou git back? 
Vill I hoe or do you vant me to shake dat clofer 
oud agin? " 

My father thinks a while. He says : " Well, I 
guess you might hoe in the corn till about ten, and 
then shake out the clover, if the dew 's good and off. 
Then it '11 be sure to be ready for us to get in right 
after dinner." 

234 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

He thinks. He says : *' If we should happen to 
be home late, you might hitch up the old Colonel 
and run through the new strawberry patch." 

My father jerks on the lines. The old mares 
start. We go past the pieplant and along the as 
paragus, and into the road. When we are just turn 
ing out, my mother comes out onto the veranda in 
front and calls out : " And a cake o' compressed 
yeast ! " 

My father says to me : " What 's that she said? " 
My mother stands there till she sees me tell him. 

We go by Bradley's this time, and take the South 
Plank. We turn to the right. When we go to Aunt 
Caty's, we always turn to the left here. 

My father says : " I kind o' like to come this way, 
'cause the Plank 's almost always better goin'. But 
we '11 go back the other way. 'T ain't near so steep. 
Bradley's hill is a long pull, even without a load." 

We go past old Pinkman's, and then cross the 
bridge over Popple Creek. The Creek goes into the 
river. My father says he supposes we ought to say 
" Poplar." I always look for poplar trees, but they 
are nearly all willows. 

Tip and I walked as far as Pinkman's once, ped 
dling seeds. We bought some crackers and sausage 
of him. It was three miles, and we only sold ten 
cents' worth. We spent it all for the sausage and 
crackers. 

Soon the road forks. We leave the Plank and go 
235 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

past Tommy Allis's up a hill. From the top we can 
see the steeples in the Village. We can see the Beth 
any House, too. It has hundreds of rooms. My 
father says to stay there a week would take all the 
money he could save in a year. 

It is six miles to the Village, and Town is twelve, 
only in the other direction. 

The Village is a summer resort place. They have 
springs, and they say the water cures almost every 
thing that can ail you. 

My father says there 's a good deal of humbug 
about it. He says : " Lots o' good pure water is 
good for anybody. I believe that 's all it is, after 
all." 

The old mares have been going so slow up the long 
hill that they forget to start again. They act al 
most asleep. My father whistles at them, and jerks 
on the lines. 

He says : " Still, they say it 's done wonders for 
some people." He flicks the old mares. Old Judy 
switches her tail and shakes her head. 

My father says : " Well, if we get near Siloam 
on our rounds to-day, we '11 have you try some o' 
the water. Maybe it '11 cure your heel. Who 
knows ? " 

I don't quite know whether my father really means 
it. 

There is a marsh, and then a slaughter house. It 
has a terrible smell. 

236 



A COUNTRY CHRONIC'LE 

My father says : " That 's where the meat men 
come out to kill their critters." 

At the Court House, we turn. I know we are go 
ing to stop at the James's. I know most of the 
places. 

My father pulls up. He says : " Who-o-oa ! " 
He says to me : " All right ! You run in and see if 
they want any to-day." 

I don't want to. I feel bashful. I say : " No, 
you ! I 'd rather hold the lines." 

My father says: " Oh pshaw!" He hands me 
the lines. He says : " I wish you 'd get so you 
wa'n't quite so 'fraid o' folks." He starts around to 
the back door. 

After awhile, they come out of the front door. 
Mrs. James says : " How much are they this morn 
ing? Are they nice? " She puts her spectacles on. 

My father lifts up the spread. He says : " Ten 
cents. A dollar and a half a case. There ain't an 
inferior berry among 'em." 

Mrs. James says : " Well, anyway, you have 
your boxes good and full." 

My father says : " I calculate to give my cus 
tomers their money's worth." I know he likes to 
have her say that. He says : " They 'd look fuller 
yet, but they always shake down quite a little, com 
ing so far." 

Mrs. James says : " Well, I suppose I might as 
well do my canning now as any time. They won't be 

237 " 



any cheaper, will they? And they 're such nice 
ones." She lifts one of the top boxes up, and looks 
at the one under it. 

My father says : " You '11 find 'em just the same 
everywhere, top and bottom. And you '11 find 
they're just as big in the bottoms o' the boxes as 
anywhere, too." 

Mrs. James says : " I don't doubt it a bit." She 
takes her spectacles off. 

She says : " Well, I guess I '11 have well, let 's 
see yes, I '11 take three crates. We do love straw 
berry sauce ! " 

We go the rounds. At the Bethany House they 
happen to be out of berries, and take two bushels. 
The Bethany House holds hundreds and hundreds of 
people, but it is n't very full yet. 

My father says : " Well, at that rate we '11 soon 
be rid of 'em all." 

We come to Siloam Spring. My father pulls up 
on the lines. He says : " Now 's your chance ! 
Run down and drink all you can, and we '11 see what 
it does." 

I run down to the spring and drink two or three 
glasses full. It is under a sort of roof with pillars. 
The water boils up out of some nice, clean gravel. 

When I come back, my father says : " Feel any 
different yet? " 

I say : " Oh, I don't know." I think maybe he is 
making believe. 

238 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

At the last, we have a case and a half left. We 
stop at a grocery. My father says : " Le' 's see if 
Rolfe don't want to take 'em off our hands." 

Rolfe comes out and looks at the berries. He 
says he '11 give eight cents. My father says all right. 
We get the flour, and some sugar, and the yeast, and 
start for home. 

My father says : " You see that 's the way it is. 
They always give two cents less at the groceries." 
He says : " Of course, it would save time if I sold 
'em all that way. I could just drive up and leave 
'em, and go home and go to work again." 

He flicks the old mares. He says : " But I 'd 
always be getting two cents less, and on a good loud 
it amounts to three or four dollars. We might as 
well be getting that money as someone else." 

\Ve go back by the river road. It is level and 
winding, and you never know what is coming next. 
That 's why I like it better than the other. My 
father likes it because it is level. It is level all ex 
cept when we are almost home. Then there is the 
big hill where it goes up past the woods. 

On the way out of the Village, we go past the dam. 
Once I teased my father to go fishing there. The 
water boiled and foamed. We got a few, and then 
our hooks got caught. My father said : " Con 
demn it, there it is ! " He rolled up his pants and 
waded in. I was afraid they would laugh at him. 
When he got the hooks unfastened, he said: 

239 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

" There, I hope you 're satisfied now. Take your 
fish and come along ! " 

It is hot on the way home. The old mares sweat. 
There is thick, white foam on their sides where the 
tugs rub. 

Dinner is just ready when we get there. My 
mother comes to the door. She says : " I thought 
it was about time you got here." My father begins 
to take the flour and things out. 

Ernest comes and gets the horses. I jump down 
and go into the house. My father says : " Well, I 
declare ! He don't limp at all now ! That 's what 
Siloam water '11 do for sore heels." 

My heel does feel nice and warm and comfortable, 
but I don't know whether my father really means 
that the water did it or not. 



240 



XLI 

/ Break the Old Hen's Leg, and We Pick 
Raspberries 

THE black raspberries are almost gone, and the 
red ones are getting ripe. There is a patch of 
red ones down in the orchard. The black ones are 
next to the strawberry bed. 

I leave the pickers, and carry a case of berries to 
the house. I take it down cellar. I come up again, 
and start for the barn. I have to make some more 
boxes. 

When I come out of the woodshed door, I can see 
them picking. Some of them are standing up, and 
some are sitting on their knees in the straw. I can 
just see their sunbonnets over the bushes. I can 
hear them talking, but not so I know what they say. 

The barn is full of timothy hay. They are stack 
ing the rest outside the door. There is a round 
stack-bottom there, all made of stones. 

The ground is covered with the hay that drops off 
the sides when Ernest pitches. The barn floor has a 
lot scattered over it, too. It is a warm day. The 
hay smell is strong. 

241 



A COUNTRY CHRCWICLE 

I go down in the basement and wet the box-stuff in 
the tub by the pump, and come back and get up on 
the barrel. I have to make sixteen boxes, because I 
must fill one case. I can't make them as fast as my 
father. My brother could make them faster than 
anybody. 

There is an old hen cackling over near the end 
door. She steps around with her head sticking up 
and turned on one side, looking at me and squawking. 

I don't like the hen's noise. I stop hammering 
and say : " Sh-h-h-h, you old fool ! " 

The old hen keeps on squawking. I say again : 
"Sh-h-h! Sh-h-h-h!" She does n't stop. It makes 
me mad. By and by I yell : " Sh-h-h ! Get out o' 
here with your noise ! " 

The old hen goes out a few steps. Pretty soon 
she comes back again. She cackles and squawks 
worse than ever. 

Before long she makes me so mad I jump down and 
pick up a stick and let it fly at her. 

The old hen jumps and squawks, but the stick hits 
her. She limps and slides along the floor a little 
way, and then lies there half on her side. She can't 
get up. 

I am sorry I hit her. I go and try to make her 
get up and walk, but she won't. She just lies there, 
with her bill open, and bobbing her head. She looks 
all right, but she does n't get up. 

I go on with the boxes, but I don't feel comforta- 



ble. I hope the old hen will be all right before my 
father finds out. 

They drive up with a load. My father looks in at 
me from the top of the load. He says : " How you 
gettin' along with the berries? " 

I say : " We 're pretty near through down by the 
road." 

My father sees the old hen. He says : " What 's 
that hen lay in' there for? What's the matter with 
her?" 

I look at my father, and then I look away. I 
say : " Oh, she was squawkin', and I got mad and 
threw a stick at her." 

My father says : " Ex-actly, ex-actly ! You 're 
always gettin' mad and smashin' something or 
other ! " 

My father gets down off the load. He swings 
down from the standard at the front end. He steps 
onto one of the old mares first, and then down onto 
the tongue. The old mare lays her ears down, and 
humps up a little. She shakes her head. 

My father goes up to the hen. He rolls her over. 
She moves a little, and tries to get away, but she 
can't. She lies still again. One of her legs just 
drags. 

My father says : " Well, you 've broke her leg, 
so I s'pose you 're satisfied. A good layin' hen, 
too ! " 

He picks the old hen up, and goes out. He says : 
243 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

" Well, I s'pose there 's only one thing to do about 
it." 

He takes her down toward the wood pile, where the 
ax is. He does n't look at me. 

I pack the boxes in the case, and go back to the 
berry patch. It is so late now that there are hardly 
any green ones, except where we come to a bush of 
Mammoth Clusters. They are always later. 

On the other bushes, we have to be careful to look 
under the leaves and branches. Sometimes there are 
great big clusters in there. We get our hands 
scratched. The backs of mine are all criss-crossed 
with red streaks. 

We get through with the black raspberries. I 
take the case down cellar, and we go to the patch of 
red ones in the orchard. This will be the first pick 
ing there. 

On the way down, we go by the old red-apple tree. 
It makes me think of my brother. He always boosts 
me up, and has me shake the apples down. There 
are some getting red enough now. I wish my 
brother were here. 

The red raspberry bushes stand up straight. 
They have a great many more green leaves. They 
don't spread like the black raspberry bushes, and 
they don't have thorns. 

The berries are big and red. When they are dead 
ripe they are almost purple. You have to pick them 
mostly one by one. They don't come off in twos and 

244 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

threes, like the black ones. And you have to learn 
to tell by the looks whether they are ripe enough or 
not. When you look back, you see all the little 
round white things the berries came off of. 

Annie says : " Dey ain't so many prickers on de 
red rawsberrics as what dey iss on de black, but 
yoost de same I vould radder pick dose black vones." 

Pauline says : " Ennahow, you don't haf to 
stoop ofer so much vit dose red vones." 

Annie says : " Dat *s all right. You can like de 
red vones uv you vant to, but I vould n't pick 'em 
vidout I had to." 

Pauline says : " Veil, ut don't make any difference 
vich you vould radder pick. Ve got to pick dese here 
yoost de same, vedder ve vant to or not. So vot 's 
de use to kick? " 



245 



XLII 

My Mother Hears from Dora That My Brother 
and Edie Are There 

THEY drive up with a load of oats and stop by 
the barnyard gate. They are making the 
stacks there this year. My father and Ernest start 
toward the well. I see them coming, and run and 
draw up a bucket of water. 

My father says to me : " Been down after the 
mail yet ? " 

I say : " No, I had to finish the berries. We just 
got through with 'em. I 'm goin' right away." 

My father says : " Will there be another pickin' 
o' the black ones, do you s'pose ? " 

I say : " Oh, there '11 be a few quarts, but not 
many." 

I start off. My father says : " Hurry back ! I 
s'pose we '11 be havin' supper as soon as we get this 
load off." 

I run down to the store. Mr. White says: 
" Nothin' but one letter, and the Patriot. But the 
Patriot don't count. It 's a wonder your father 
would n't take a decent paper. Any paper 't 11 sup 
port Garfield 's 'way behind the times." 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Mr. White is always talking that way. My father 
says it '11 be a long time before any democrat stands 
the ghost of a show for president. 

I don't pay much attention to what Mr. White 
says. I am used to it. I look at the letter to see 
whether it is in my brother's writing. That 's al 
ways the first thing we do, ever since they ran away. 
Edie's mother is always expecting one in Edie's writ 
ing. 

I can tell right away that the letter is n't from 
either of them. It looks like Dora's writing. Dora 
is my mother's cousin. She lives at Pleasant View. 
When I look at the post mark, I can make it out. 

I run back home. They are just sitting down to 
supper. As soon as I come in, my mother says: 
"Got any letters?" 

I say : " Only one from Dora. I guess it 's from 
her." " 

I lay the letter on the table by my mother's plate. 
She says : " Well, come on, and have your sup 
per!" 

She takes the letter up and looks it over. Then 
she lays it down. She says : " I '11 save it till we 
are through, and I can enjoy it better." 

After Ernest is through and goes out, my father 
sits a few minutes. My mother leans back in her 
chair, and picks up the letter. She says : " Well, I 
wonder what Dora '11 have to say." She says to me : 
" Run and get me the scissors, and I '11 open it." 

247 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

I get up. My father says : " Edie's mother been 
down yet to-day? *' 

I come back with the scissors. My mother says : 
" Not yet. But I expect her any minute. And I 
s'pose we '11 all go over the same things we been going 
over every day the last six weeks." 

My father says : " Ex-actly ! I declare I 've 
got so I dread her every minute o' the day till she 's 
been here. She seems to think somehow we can do 
something, but I don't see how we can help matters 
any." 

My mother says : " Serves her right for taking 
things the way she did. If she 'd only known enough 
to just let 'cm be! " 

My mother takes the scissors. She taps the letter 
on the end, and holds it up toward the window. She 
wants to make sure and not cut the writing part in 
side. Then she cuts a little strip off from the end 
where the stamp is. She cuts it so that it does n't 
take anything off the stamp. She always opens her 
letters just like that. 

My mother takes the letter out of the envelope. 
She says : " My ! Quite a long letter this time ! " 

She unfolds it, and begins to read. My father 
and I look at her face. We think maybe she is going 
to read it out loud. 

All of a sudden my mother sits up straight and 
says: "What!" 

She reads a little more. She jumps up and waves 
248 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

the letter over her head, and calls out : " Well, Hi, 
what do-o you think, the lost are found! As sure 
as you 're alive, the lost are found ! " 

My father and I jump up. My father says: 
" My stars ! you don't say so ! " He runs around to 
where my mother is. She begins to read again, and 
he looks over her shoulder. 

I get up on my tiptoes, but I can't see the writing. 
I say : " Where are they, huh ? Where are they ? 
Are they at Dora's ? " 

My mother says : " Yes, they 're at Dora's, the 
Lord be thanked ! " 

They both stop reading, and I stand and wait for 
them to say something more. 

My father says : " Well, well, well, well ! If that 
don't beat all ! " 

My mother says : " Well, did you ever ! " Once 
in a while she stops and laughs, and doubles up the 
hand with the letter in it and strikes it against her 
leg. Then they read some more. 

My mother has tears in her eyes. She says : " I 
don't know but pretty soon I '11 have a fit, if I keep 
on feeling this way ! " 

I hear someone out on the gravel walk. Then 
there is a step on the veranda. Then there is a 
knock on the mosquito-netting door. 

My father says : " There ! I '11 warrant you 
there she is again ! " 

My mother says to me : " You go to the door, 
250 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Bug." She puts the letter in her apron pocket. 

My father says : " And then you can run and tell 
Ernest I won't be out till after a little." 

I can see Edie's mother through the mosquito-net 
ting door. She is standing sideways. She has her 
black straw hat on, the one with the green leaves and 
the smooth red berries. 



251 



XLIII 

Edie's Mother Comes Down Just After the 
Letter Has Been Read 

I CAN see Edie's mother begin to turn a little when 
she hears me coming. I open the door. She 
looks at me, and says : " Is your father or mother 
at home? " 

I say : " Yes, they 're right here. Won't you 
come in ? " 

She says : " Yes, I think I will, just a minute." 

My mother is just coming through the door from 
the kitchen. She has her hand in her pocket, hold 
ing the letter. 

Edie's mother starts to say : " I thought I 'd step 
in on my way by and see if you 'd heard anything to 
day." That is what she always says. 

She does n't have time to say it all. My mother 
takes the letter out and waves it, and says : " Well, 
the mystery 's solved ! The lost are found ! " 

Edie's mother stops right in the middle of the 
floor. She says : " Is it really so ? Are you tell 
ing me the truth? " Her eyes open wide. She be 
gins to get red. She does n't know what to do. 

252 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

My father says: "No mistake about it! You 
can rest easy." 

My mother says: "Yes, they're found, just as 
sure as you live, and they 're all right. You need n't 
worry any more." 

Edie's mother tries to smile. It seems as if she 
could n't. Her face is ever so red. She says : 
" Are they married ? " 

My mother says : " Y r es, they 're married, of 
course they 're married ! I knew they were married 
all the time. They 're at Dora's." 

Edie's mother gets redder than ever. She waits a 
little while, and kind of fidgets. She says : " Docs 
the letter say when? Were they married right 
away ? " 

My father says : " Oh, you need n't worry, it 's 
all right. Yes, they were married right away." 

Edie's mother looks as if she did n't feel quite 
sure. She says : " Well, of course I don't doubt 
your word, but I don't see how anybody would marry 
'em in this state. She was n't old enough." 

My mother says : " They did n't get married in 
this state. Oh, you need n't think I don't know ! 
It 's just as I tell you. They left here on the mid 
night train, and went to Town and took the first 
train south. They got across the line and were 
married before noon the next day." 

My father says : " So you 've had a lot of worry 
all for nothing." 

253 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Edie's mother does n't say anything. She just 
stands there. 

My mother says : " I declare ! I 've been almost 
out of patience with you sometimes! I think you 
might have had a little more faith in 'em and a 
little more in us, too." 

Edie's mother takes her handkerchief out. She 
begins to wipe her eyes. She says : " You must n't 
be too hard on me. You know I 'm alone without a 
husband, and Edie was only a little girl." 

My father says : " Well, anyway, it 's all over 
now." He stops and scratches his head. He says: 
" At least, the worst of it 's over." 

Edie's mother says : " But where have they been 
all this time? Does it say anything about their com 
ing home ? I s'pose you '11 let me read the letter my 
self after a while, won't you? " 

My mother says: "Why, of course! We just 
got it a half an hour ago, and we 've hardly read 
it ourselves yet. They staid a while in the place 
where they got married, to earn enough to go to 
Dora's." 

My mother stops, and says : " But let 's go over 
the letter again together, and then you '11 know just 
what it says." 

They read the letter together. My brother and 
Edie staid a month in the other state, and then went 
to Dora's. They got there one night. Dora was 
sitting by the window with her crochet work, and she 

254 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

heard a rap at the door. She opened the door, and 
there they stood. 

My mother reads what Dora says in the letter. 
She says : " Here 's the way she writes it : * You 
could have knocked me down with a feather ! I never 
was so surprised in all my born days ! I had them 
come right in, and got them a good meal. The first 
thing I asked was whether you knew where they were. 
As soon as I could, I sat right down to write.' ' 

My mother says : " They 're going to stay there 
for a while, and Speckle is going to work on Dora's 
farm. They don't know yet what they '11 do next." 

My father says : " There, now, you see it ain't so 
bad as you thought it was." 

Edie's mother says : " No, it is n't ! That 's 
true." 

Then she says : " But I sha'n't feel easy until 
they are back where I can see them with my own 
eyes." 

Edie's mother gets up to go. She says : " Would 
you mind letting me read the letter as soon as you 've 
read it again? I '11 send Johnnie down for it." 

My mother says : " Oh, take it now. You can 
send it back when you 're done with it." 

Edie's mother goes out. My father says: 
" Well, I don't know as I blame her, after all. It 
was an awful foolish thing to do." 

My mother stands looking at the carpet. She 
says : " Won't there be some way to have 'em come 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

home before long? Could n't he work for you, don't 
you s'pose ? " 

My father leans in the door with his hands in his 
pockets. He says : " There 's no tellin' what we 
will do. It looks now as if he 'd stay down there till 
fall, though, don't it?" 

He stands there a while. Then he puts on his hat. 
He says : " There 's one thing I do know, and that 
is, that stack 's got to be topped off to-night. 
There 's every sign o' rain." 

My father goes out. He stoops a little, and his 
arms swing. The way he stoops makes his arms 
seem long. 

My mother sits down at the secretary desk. She 
says : " I must send them a letter right off, and tell 
them we 're glad they 're found." She says to me : 
" And you must take it down to the office." 



256 



XLIV 

My Father and Uncle Anthony Cultivate Corn, 
and Stop to Talk 

MY father is cultivating the corn along the road 
up near the lane. This will be the last time. 
The corn is getting too big to work in. The old 
mare has a peach basket tied over her nose. The 
corn is so high she could nip it if she did n't have the 
basket. 

My father says : " It 's a good thing for corn to 
have the ground stirred pretty often. And then, it 
roots up the late weeds." 

My father keeps saying : " Gee ! " and " Haw ! " 
He has the lines around his shoulders. One is over 
his right shoulder, and the other is under his left. 
There is a big knot where they are tied together be 
hind his back. 

The old mare does n't want to walk straight be 
tween the rows. I say : " Shall I ride her, so she '11 
go straighter? " 

My father says : " I don't know but you might, 
for a while. Of course 't ain't really necessary, but 
maybe it '11 be easier for me." 

257 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

My father lifts me up until I can get one foot on 
the tug, near the belly-band. I get hold of the ring 
where one of the lines goes, and get on. He fixes the 
lines in the ring, but leaves them so I can hold them 
to drive with. 

The old mare's back is too big for me. When she 
starts, I feel as if I were going to roll off. I catch 
hold of the hames and hold on to them until I get 
used to it. Then the back-pad bothers, so I have to 
put my feet on the tugs to keep myself off it. The 
tops of the corn rub against my feet, and tickle. 

When we turn at the end of the row, it makes me 
think of the steamboats in the river, in Town. The 
old mare is so slow she hardly moves. 

When she goes along between the rows, the old 
mare is always forgetting the peach basket, and 
stopping to try a nip at the corn. Every time she 
tries it and does n't get any, she switches her tail. 
Once she whinners, and makes me jump. She heard 
her colt, up in the barnyard. 

Uncle Anthony is cultivating, too, in his lot across 
the road. We get to the road fence just as he does. 
His horse has a peach basket on, too. 

Uncle Anthony stops cultivating, and comes and 
leans on the top rail of his fence. My father leans 
on the top rail of ours. They begin to talk to each 
other across the road. 

Uncle Anthony says : " Well, I see you got your 
oats all up in the stack. I finished gettin' mine in 

258 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

yesterday. Pretty heavy stand o' straw, was 
they?" 

My father says : " Yes, I calculate it '11 keep 'em 
busy behind the straw-carrier this year." 

Uncle Anthony says : " Goin' to thrash early ? " 

My father says: "Oh, just middlin'. I got it 
all in stacks this year, and I 'm kind o' 'fraid they 
ain't built up in the middle as much as they might 
be. I hate to thrash early, but I 'm afraid if I don't 
they '11 wet in and grow." 

Uncle Anthony says: "They ain't nothin' like 
toppin' 'em out with a jag o' hay from the ma'sh, 
an' let it hang down." 

If my mother were here and heard Uncle Anthony 
say " ma'sh," she would have a hard time to keep 
from laughing. 

My father says : " Yes, I know. I s'pose 't is 
all right for sheddin' water. But I don't want none 
o' your marsh hay for feed. There 's nothin' TO it ! 
I don't want marsh grass, and I don't want dent 
corn." 

Uncle Anthony says : " I don't care much for 
dent corn myself. I 'm always afraid it won't git 
ripe before the frost." 

Uncle Anthony straightens up, and puts his hands 
on the fence rail. He begins to climb over. 

My father says : " That 's right ! Come on over, 
and be sociable." 

Uncle Anthony walks across the road toward us. 
259 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

His vest is unbuttoned, and its sides hang loose. 
The stem of his old clay pipe sticks out of one pocket. 

It takes Uncle Anthony quite a while to get to our 
fence. On the way, he stoops a little and pulls up 
a timothy stem, and begins to pick his teeth with it. 
He has his old stained black hat on. 

When he gets almost to us, he says : " Yes 
might 's well let the old mares breathe a little. It '11 
be good for 'em, and 't won't hurt us, neither." 

Uncle Anthony leans on the rail near my father. 
He says : " Well, have you come to any under- 
standin' about your boy yet? I s'pose your wife 'd 
like to have 'em come back, would n't she and you, 
too? You know you ort n't to be too hard on 
'em." 

My father looks down at his feet. He puts one of 
them up on one of the fence rails. He says : " Yes, 
to tell you the honest truth, we '11 be glad when we 
have 'em back. It 's been kind o' lonesome without 
the boy." 

My father looks around at me. He says : " You 
can get down, if you want to." 

I say : " Oh, I guess I '11 sit here." 

My father says : " I 'spect it '11 be a couple o' 
months, though. He 's hired out where he is till 
about that time." 

They stand there for a while without saying any 
thing. Uncle Anthony runs the timothy stem 
through his teeth, and spits. He spits with a loud 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

noise. Afterward he rubs his mouth with the back 
of his hand. 

My father says : " I '11 tell you. I 've 'bout 
made up my mind to let him work the farm. I can 
keep a little garden patch, and let him run the rest 
and make what he can. That '11 at least give him a 
start." 

Uncle Anthony says : " I think that 'd be a first 




rate thing to do. I think it 'd be good for both of 
you." 

Uncle Anthony picks his teeth some more. He 
says : " I think it 's about time you begun to take 
it a little easier 'n what you do." 

My father says : " I don't know but it is. I 
ain't what I used to be, that s s the honest truth of 
it." He says : " Time was when I could carry a 
forty rod swathe without stoppin' more 'n a couple 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

o' times the whole way across. But that time 's past, 
sure 's you live." 

Uncle Anthony spits again. It makes a bigger 
noise than before. He says : " I s'pose you 'd have 
him work it on shares, would n't you? " 

My father thinks a while. He says : " Yes, I 
don' know but I would. Could n't have him take the 
risk of money rent, the first year though there 
ain't really any risk. 'T ain't like some of the states 
where you can never be sure of a crop." 

Uncle Anthony says : " You 're right about that. 
Whatever you can say agin our state, you can't say 
that we ain't always sure o' some kind of a crop." 

By and by he says : " Well, I think you '11 find 
the boy '11 do mighty well by you. They ain't no 
question but they 's a good deal to him. O' course 
it 'd 'a' been better for 'em to 'a' waited a while, but 
after all, a boy 't '11 stir around the way he 's done 
this summer gittin' married and findin' a way to sup 
port a wife ain't a-goin' to turn out bad." 

They talk a while about politics, and then Uncle 
Anthony goes back It takes him quite a while to 
get over the fence. He begins to cultivate again. 

My father and I begin again, too. I am tired of 
sitting on the old mare. She has been trying to get 
the peach basket off by rubbing it against the rails. 



262 



XLV 

Grandpa Tyler Jokes My Father About Hit 
Clothes 

THE chores are done. My father and I start 
down after the mail. My mother says: 
" Don't be gone too long ! I always like to know 
whether there are any letters." 

My father goes down to the store almost every 
night now. He says : " I kind o' like to hear what 
they say about politics. You see it '11 be 'lection 
day in about four or five weeks. Things always get 
interesting about this time." 

I say: " Will Garfield be elected president? Mr. 
White says he won't." 

My father says : " You need n't pay any 'ten- 
tion to what he says, nor any other democrat. Gar- 
field 's goin' to be 'lected president just as sure as 
'lection day comes ! " 

My father has his old grey slouch hat on, and the 
ragged coat my mother makes fun of. 

We open the door and go in. Grandpa Tyler is 
there, sitting on one of the cracker boxes. Old 
Jerry Dodge is there, too, and Uncle Anthony. 

Grandpa Tyler is talking when we come in. He 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

stops, and looks at my father. He says : " Well, 
here he is agin ! " He looks as if he were going to 
joke. He says: "White, by godfrey, did ye ever 
see such a ol' ragamuffin in all yer life? " 

He says to my father : " I declare to goodness ! 
I don't see how you dast go out that way ! I should 
think you 'd be 'fraid o' gettin' 'rested." 

Everyone begins to laugh. My father laughs, too. 
He says : " Don't you worry about what I got on. 
I like to wear my old clothes out." 

Grandpa Tyler says : " Well, I must say he can 
fix up when he wants to, anyhow. When he gits into 
that broadcloth coat o' hisn, and the vest with the 
posies on it, and them fine boots 't he 's had since 
before the flood, and the old plug hat, they ain't no 
denyin' he 's a sight. Only trouble is, you can't 
hardly tell 't it 's him." 

Mr. White says: "Well, I s'pose you want your 
mail, don't ye? " He goes back behind the mail 
case. He gives my father a letter and the Pa 
triot. 

I can see that the letter is from my brother. We 
hear from him every few days now. He says they 
are coming home about Thanksgiving. 

Grandpa Tyler winks at Mr. White. He says : 
" Has he told you yet how old Cal was goin' to put 
him off o' the Scoot the other day, comin' down from 
the Village?" 

My father says : " Come, come, Ty, you know 't 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

ain't any such thing ! Old Cal knew it was me all the 
time. He was just jokin'. And besides, he only 
told me to go in the smokin' car. He did n't say to 
get off at all." 

Grandpa Tyler looks around, and says : " That 's 
all right, for him to put it off that way. Well, 
maybe 't was the smokin' car. Anyway, old Cal 
taps him on the shoulder, and says to him, says he: 
4 Had n't you better go into the smokin' car ? You 
ain't dressed very nice, to be here with the women 
passengers.' ' 

They all laugh at my father. My father says to 
Mr. White: "Don't you believe anything he says, 
Ephram ! Cal was only makin' believe he did n't 
know me, and that 's all there was to it. I could tell 
by the way he laughed." 

Grandpa Tyler says : " In a pig's ear he was ! " 
He winks again. He says : " That 's all right ! " 

My father unfolds his paper and looks at it. He 
says : " I wonder what the papers '11 do for news 
after 'lection day. They '11 be awful uninterestin' 
for a while, I 'spect." 

The door latch clicks. We look to see who is com 
ing. Mr. Purdy and Mr. Walker come in. Every 
body is surprised. They always get their mail in 
the afternoon. They almost never come down at 
night. 

Grandpa Tyler says : " Well, well, now ! How 's 
this? I thought you fellers was always to bed by 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

this time o' night. Does your folks know where 
you be? " 

Mr. Purdy and Mr. Walker always come down 
to meet the three o'clocks, and go home at five. 
Every afternoon at quarter to three they come walk 
ing down the road together. If it is n't winter, they 
are always in their shirt sleeves. They have their 
vests unbuttoned, and their arms are always hanging 
loose, like my father's. Mr. Purdy has white hair 
and whiskers, and Mr. Walker's is reddish white. 

Once Aunt Phoebe said to my mother : " I de 
clare I never knew 'em to miss, rain or shine ! I 've 
got so 's I don't worry any more 'bout windin' the 
clock, 'cause if I fergit it, all I have to do is to watch 
when Purdy and ol' Walker comes along, and set 
it by them. They 're sure to come by on the way 
down at quarter to three, almost to the minnit, and 
they 're just as sure to come along on the way back 
at quarter to five. They cal'late to git home just 
in time for supper, an' that 's all." 

My mother said : " I don't see how they can 
get much work done, going down every day like 
that." 

Aunt Phoebe said : " Bless you, they don't work 
no more ! All they do is just putter around a little 
here and there. But then, they never did work a 
great deal, nohow." 

By and by she said: "Well, I don't b'lieve I 
would myself, if I could afford not to." 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Then she said: " No, I '11 take that back. After 
all, I 'd rather wear out than rust out. I 've always 
said so." 



267 



XLVI 

Old Jerry Dodge Is Drunk Again, and Cap 
Swann Gets a Letter 

MR. Purdy leans on the counter near the mail 
case. He says : " Eph, I don't s'pose 
they 's anything for me, is they? " 

Mr. White says : " No, course they ain't ! What 
do you ask that for? You just got your mail, a 
couple o' hours ago, did n't ye? " 

Mr. Purdy says : " I did n't know but maybe I 
might 'a' got somethin' from the west." 

Mr. White says : " West nothin' ! You never got 
anything on that train in your life, and you know it 
as well as I do." 

Then he says : " But then, I '11 go an' look, if 
it '11 make you feel any better." 

Old Jerry Dodge is sitting beside the box with 
the ashes in it. We know he is a little bit drunk. 
He almost always is. He forgets which side the ash 
box is on. He leans over on the wrong side, and 
spits right on the floor. 

The spit makes a noise, and Mr. White hears it. 
He looks at old Jerry through his spectacles. He 
has to hold his head up to do it. 

He says : " Come, now, Jerry, what sort o' man- 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

ners is that? Here I go and get that box to see if 
we can't sort o' keep things kind o' clean, and you 
up and spit on the floor. You ought to be 'shamed 
o' yourself." 

Jerry says : " Ephram, I am 'shamed ! " 

He stops a while. He looks right straight in 
front of him, but as if he did n't see anything very 
plainly. 

He says : " Yes, sir, Ephram, the honest truth is, 
I am 'shamed ! But ye see I been up to the Village, 
an' I been talkin' politics so much I got all mixed up." 

Pretty soon old Jerry leans over and almost spits 
on the wrong side again. Mr. White calls out : 
" Hey there, Jerry ! Look out ! There you go 
again ! " 

He is just in time. Old Jerry leans over on the 
right side now. He spits. It takes him quite a 
while. He looks up at Mr. White, and says : " Eph, 
confound it all, why don't ye have spit-boxes on both 
sides, anyway? 'T would n't cost ye a great deal 
more." 

Mr. White says : " Not much ! One '11 have to 
be enough. Now, Jerry, mind your eye, or next 
time you go spittin' on the floor, we '11 have to carry 
you out on a chip." 

After a while, Jerry gets up. He says : " Well, 
I s'pose the ol' lady '11 be expectin' me. She makes 
a awful fuss if I don't turn up about the time she 's 
lookin' for me." 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

He walks toward the door. He staggers a little. 
He takes hold of the latch, and turns around, and 
says : " Ye see, I really come back on the Scoot, but 
she won't know but what I waited and come on the 
half past seven. Well, good evenin' to ye, gentle 
men." He makes a bow. 

Grandpa Tyler says : " I '11 bet ye anything he 
don't get by the saloons without stoppin' ! I '11 war 
rant ye he 's been in one or the other of 'em ever since 
the Scoot come down." 

Mr. White says : " She '11 proba'ly know all about 
it when he gets there. She usually knows what he 's 
up to. He did that same trick once before, and 
when she found it out, she says to him : ' Dodge,' 
says she, ' Dodge, if I 'd 'a' knowed ye was down in 
the saloons instead of up to the Village where ye said 
ye was, I 'd 'a' eat ye ! ' She said it right here in 
front of us. I tell you, I had to laugh." 

Grandpa Tyler says : " What 'd he say to her? " 

Mr. White says : " Well, 't would 'a' tickled you 
to death. Old Jerry he set up, and looked at her, 
and tried to make out he was sober. He says to her: 
' Well, ol' lady,' says he, 'all 7 got to say is, ye 'd 'a' 
found it mighty tough eatin'!' v 

Everybody laughs so hard that we don't hear the 
door latch click. First thing we know, the door is 
wide open and Cap Swann is coming in. 

Cap stops at the counter by the mail box. He 
says : " Good evenin', Eph an' everybody." 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Mr. White starts for the mail box. He says : 
" Cap, I got a letter for ye. It come in on the 
mornin' train." 

Cap says : " Well, I 'm glad to hear it." His 
voice sounds thinner than ever to-night. It sounds 
as if there were a little wire drawn through it. He 
says: " What train 'd it come on, Eph? " 

Mr. White says : " Oh, how do you 'spose I can 
remember what train it come on? All I can remem 
ber is, that it come this mornin'. That '11 have to 
do ye." 

Cap takes the letter and looks at it. He holds 
it up to his eyes, near the lamp. He lays it down on 
the counter and takes his spectacles out. He says : 
" I 'm all right yit fer a long ways off, but I 'm 
gittin' so 's I can't make out anythin' clost onless I 
git my spectacles on." 

Mr. White says : " I '11 git ye the tongs, if ye 
say so." 

Cap says : " No, thank ye, Ephram, I think I can 
make out." He looks at the letter again. He says : 
" Well, now, I wonder who it can be from." He 
turns the letter over. Then he holds it up against 
the lamp chimney. Then he looks at the post 
mark. 

He says : " Can't see the post mark, so they 's no 
tellin' by that." 

He looks at the writing again. He looks at the 
post mark again. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

He says : " It can't be from Jonas, 'cause I got 
one from him last week." 

Cap stands holding the letter in both hands, look 
ing at it. 

Mr. White says : " Well, maybe ye could tell by 
lookin' inside." 

He winks at Grandpa Tyler. He says : " That 's 
the way 7 do when I can't tell no other way." 

Cap says : " Eph, that 's a good idee ! First 
class ! " He acts as if he were going to open the 
letter, but he does n't. He goes over behind the 
stove and sits down on the box beside Grandpa Tyler. 
He puts the letter in his pocket, and begins to take 
his spectacles off. 

Grandpa Tyler says : " What, ain't ye goin' to 
open it after all? " 

Cap says : " No, I 'm goin' to save it till I git 
home. I '11 read it to-morrow mornin'. It '11 make 
good Sunday readin'." He folds his spectacles up, 
and puts them in his upper vest pocket. 

Grandpa Tyler says : " Well, by godfrey ! 
That 's a great way to do ! Now s'posin' it 's a let 
ter from your girl, how do you s'pose she 'd like it, 
to have you not carin' any more 'bout her letter 'n 
that?" " 

Cap says : " Well, now I know you 're gittin' 
hard up for somethin' to say." But we all laugh at 
the idea of old Cap having a girl. 

Mr. White says : " By the way, Cap, how 's your 
272 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

perpetual motion machine gettin' on? Maybe that 's 
what your letter 's about." 

We all knew perpetual motion would be sure to 
come up. 

Cap says : " That 's all right, Eph, but I '11 tell 
you one thing. If I had that there tongue o' yourn, 
they would n't be no more trouble 'bout perpetchal 
motion. Could n't anybody stop that if he wanted 
to that 's jest as sure as my name 's Peleg 
Swann." 



273 



XLVII 

Mr. White Talks Politics, and Mr. Purdy Is 
Disgusted 

CAP Swann reaches out and puts his hand on the 
stove. There is no fire in it. 

Cap says : " Eph, how much longer 'fore you 're 
goin' to begin to have a fire in yer old stove? " 

Grandpa Tyler looks up and says : " Yes, I was 
just goin' to inquire about that myself. Ain't it 
'bout time you was doin' somethin' to make your cus 
tomers comf 'table? You'd make enough out o' the 
extry trade to pay for the wood." 

Mr. White sniffs. He says: "Customers! 
Anybody might think, to hear him talk, 't he bought 
his stuff here, instead o' goin' to Town for it." 

Grandpa Tyler begins to laugh. He winks at my 
father and the rest of us. He says : " Come, now, 
don't take on so ! Don't I buy all my postage stamps 
of ye?" 

We all laugh. Mr. White walks over to the ash- 
box. He goes " hep, hep," and then spits. He 
does n't say anything. 

Grandpa Tyler says : " Well, if you want decent 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

folks to trade with ye, why in the world don't you 
come down on yer prices? You can't expect any 
body to pay two prices for everything they buy." 

Mr. White spits again. He backs up to the coun 
ter, and puts his hands on it behind him, and lifts 
himself up with a little jump till he sits on it. He 
says : " Tyler, you know as well as I do that I don't 
put anything on except what the freight out from 
Town costs me." 

Grandpa Tyler looks around at all of us. He 
laughs. 

Mr. White says : " You folks 't goes to Town 
for your stuff don't save enough on what you buy 
to pay for your wagon grease. If you 'd buy o' me 
instead o' the stores in Town, I could sell as cheap 
as anybody." 

Grandpa Tyler laughs again. He says : " There, 
now, look at that! Contradicts himself at every 
breath ! First it 's 'cause he has to pay freight, 
and then it 's 'cause we don't paternize him. You 
can't tell a thing by what he says. I never see any 
body so onreliable. You can't depend on him!" 

We all laugh again. We know Grandpa Tyler is 
only making believe. Mr. White knows it, too, but 
sometimes he forgets. 

Mr. White says : " Oh, go 'long with ye ! " He 
gets down from the counter, and goes over and spits 
again. 

He says : " Well, to come back to what you was 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

sayin', you need n't think you 're goin' to get warm 
off 'n me, not for a good month to come. I don't be 
lieve in warmin' the hull neighborhood when they got 
wood o' their own." 

He says : " And besides, you republicans '11 all be 
warm enough by four weeks from next Tuesday. 
You won't need any fire to keep you warm." 

Grandpa Tyler says : " By godfrey ! I would n't 
be surprised if the ol' cuss really thought Hancock 
was goin' to be 'lected ! " 

Mr. Walker says : " Well, if he does, all I got 
to say is 't he 's goin' to git fooled. They ain't never 
goin' to be no more democrat presidents in this 
country." He talks as if he were cross. 

Mr. White talks right on as if he hadn't heard 
what they said. He says : " We 're goin' to make 
it so hot for ye 't ye won't cool off by Christmas. 
I don't expect to see one of ye down here after the 
mail again after 'lection for six weeks. You '11 all 
be sendin' the boys." 

Cap Swann begins to laugh. It sounds like cack 
ling. He says : " A T o, sir, this country ain't a-goin' 
to let itself be governed agin by no such party as the 
democrat party. Why, Eph, they 'd be war agin in 
less 'n a week. We can't afford to go through all 
that fightin' again, an' what 's more, we ain't a-goin' 
to. I know what I 'm talkin' about. I spent four 
years o' my life in the ranks, an' I tell ye I know ! " 

Mr. Purdy says : " Yes, and the democrat party 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

killed my boy. If it had n't been for them, he 'd 'a' 
been alive to-day. Ephram, I don't see how you 
can stand there and talk like that, after all we been 
through to save the Union." 

Mr. White says: "War nothin'! That's all 
poppycock, and you know it ! The democrat party 
as a party never had nothing to do with the war, and 
you know it as well as anybody. It 's the only party 
the country 's ever had that 's had a principle. It 's 
the only party to-day that 's got a principle." 

Mr. Walker sniffs. He says : " Principle ! Well, 
I '11 be darned!" 

My father says : " Humph ! " 

Mr. White goes on. He says : " And we 're goin' 
to show ye, this time ! They ain't a state that you 're 
likely to kerry in the hull country, unless maybe 
Rhode Island, and you can walk all around that be 
fore breakfast." 

Mr. White keeps on that way. Pretty soon Mr. 
Walker gets up. He says to Mr. Purdy : " Chet, 
't ain't a-goin' to pay to set an' listen any longer to 
his lyin'. Le' 's go on home ! " 

Mr. Purdy gets up, and they both start for the 
door. 

Mr. White says : " Come, now, don't go off mad ! 
You know you proba'ly can't help bcin' republicans 
anyway, and I don't s'pose you ever will, unless you 
take a decent paper in place of your good-for-nothing 
old Patriot." 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Mr. Walker sniffs. He snaps out : " Well, it 's 
a good deal better 'n any o' your ol' democrat papers, 
anyhow ! " 

When they are gone, Mr. White laughs, and says : 
" They never can stand it more 'n about so long, and 
then they have to git up and go. They can't never 
argue without gettin' mad over it." 

He goes over to the ash box. He says: " Well, I 
s'pose it 's kind o' mean, but I sort o' like to git 'em 
goin' that way." 

Grandpa Tyler gets up. He says : " Well, Eph, 
your talk is mighty entertainin', specially when a 
feller thinks o' what 's goin' to happen the first Tues 
day after the first Monday o' next month. But I 
got to go. An' I guess it 's about time you shut up, 
too, ain't it? Must be mighty nigh onto nine 
o'clock." 

My father puts the Patriot and the letter into 
his coat pocket. We all get up. 

Grandpa Tyler says : " Well, good night, 
Ephram. You can count on our feelin' sorry for 
you again after 'lection, same as usual." 

He says to my father : " I s'pose we ought to let 
him talk all he wants to before 'lection, while he 's 
got a chance. He never gits no chance afterwards." 

Mr. White does n't say anything. Grandpa Tyler 
speaks louder, so Mr. White can't pretend he 
does n't hear. He says : " By godf rey, Hi, I 'd 
hate awful to be a democrat! Wouldn't you?" 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Mr. White says : " Don't you worry about me! 
Only four weeks more, and you '11 the hull o' ye be 
'round tryin' to make me believe you voted the demo 
crat ticket." 

Grandpa Tyler says: " Just hear the-ol' cuss go 
on! Did ye ever hear anything like it? I never 
did!" 



279 



XLVIII 

My Father and I Get Ready to Make a 
Sunday Visit 

I HAVE just opened my eyes. There is bright 
light in the room. The feather bed is nice and 
warm. My face feels fresh and cool, and the air 
smells good. I know it is a nice day. 

My window is open. I hear a hen cackling, and 
one of the cows is going : " M-m-m-mma-a-a ! " She 
does n't do it very loud, and between times I can 
hear her pulling at the grass next to the barnyard 
fence. There are a couple of birds in the evergreen 
tree outside my window. It is so still that I remem 
ber it is Sunday. 

I hear the stair door open. My mother calls up 
the stairway : " Bre-e-eak-fa-a-ast ! " She does n't 
call very loud. She says: "Are you 'wake? If 
you 're going with your pa to-day you 'd better get 
up and get dressed. Put on your Sunday clothes ! " 

All at once I remember. If it is a good day, we 
are going over to Aunt Caty's. I jump out of bed 
and put one of my new calico shirts on, and my black 
pants. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

I put shoes on, too. I don't like the shoes, and I 
don't like the coat and vest and collar and stiff hat. 
I 'd much rather go barefoot and in my shirt sleeves, 
and wear my old felt hat the one that is so old 
and out of shape that my mother calls it my 
foolscap. Foolscap is the name of the paper I get 
at the store for examinations. That 's how she came 
to call it that. 

But my mother always says : " Goodness gracious 
me ! What would they think of us if we let you go 
over there looking like that? " 

I look out of the window through the evergreen 
branches. My father has just opened the road gate, 
and the cows are going out. There is a lot of dew 
on the grass. The air is so cool and fresh that I 
want to get out in it. 

I run down stairs and out of the front door, and 
across the front yard to the road. I say to my 
father: " Pa, are we going? " 

My father starts up the gravel walk toward the 
house. The walk is packed down hard. It has flat 
weeds in some places. I keep looking at him to 
see what he is going to say. 

My father says : " Yes, I guess it 's goin' to be a 
first rate day, and we 'd better go, for fear we sha'n't 
get another." He says : " We Ml let the cows eat 
along the road, and then we '11 turn 'em into the lane 
when we come along." 

I say : " Are we going right away? " 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

My father says : " Yes, better run in and get 
your breakfast, and be all ready. It takes quite a 
while to drive over, and we want to be there before it 
gets too hot." 

I go in and have some bread and milk. The milk 
is warm, because my father just brought it in. 

My father changes his clothes, and slicks his hair 
and whiskers a little. Then he goes out to the barn. 
I hear the clock strike eight. We never turn the 
cows out as late as that on week days. 

My mother brushes my hair, and gets me a clean 
paper collar. She helps me fasten my little blue and 
white tie on. It has a little rubber loop that goes 
around the button. 

Pretty soon my father drives up to the woodshed 
door. I hear the front wheels bump over the planks 
in the walk, and then he stops. Just as I get to the 
door, he is saying: " Well, where are you? " 

I get in. It is the old buggy that rattles so. My 
mother stands in the door. She says : '* Now, don't 
you both go and kill yourselves eating over there ! " 

My father laughs. My mother says: "Well, 
good-bye ! I s'pose you '11 be home in time for sup 
per?" 

My father says : " Yes, I s'pose you can look for 
us about five or half past. We '11 try not be very 
late." 

My mother says : " Of course, if you want to 
stay longer, we can manage to get along for once." 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

My father says : " No, you can look for us." 

He gives the lines a little pull. He says : " Well, 
get along ! " 

The old mares wiggle their ears, and start. The 
hind wheels bump over the planks, and we go out 
along the row of asparagus. When we turn into the 
road, the buggy dips and the springs hit together. 
They are always doing that, they are so limber. 

My father flicks old Judy. We begin to trot. 
The wheels make a noise on the gravel, and the spokes 
rattle. 

My father says : " I wish I 'd 'a' poured a pail o' 
water over the tires, to kind o' tighten 'em up. But 
maybe we '11 be goin' through some puddles some 
where. That '11 stop 'em. I s'pose I '11 have to have 
'em set again one o' these days." 

I look back. My mother is leaning in the wood 
shed door, watching us. She has her arms folded. 



283 



XLIX 
We Drive to Aunt Caty's and Uncle DaneVs 

THE old mares trot along till we are near the 
lane. I jump out and drive the cows in, and 
shut the gate. We go on up the church hill. 

When we are in front of the church, I think of 
Sunday school. I am glad I don't have to go to-day. 
I don't mind getting verses by heart and saying them, 
but I don't like dressing up and sitting in such a 
noise. Besides, the songs are n't interesting. And 
Lije's mother sits too close to me, and Lije's father 
prays too long. He is the Sunday school superin 
tendent. 

Tip is over on his front steps. I wave my hand 
to him, and he waves back. He is whittling some 
thing. 

We go past the schoolhouse and Purdy's. My 
father has the lines wound around his left hand. He 
jerks a little on them two or three times, and makes 
a whistling sort of sound. The old mares lay their 
ears back a little, but they keep on walking. 

My father jerks some more. He says: "Come! 
Come ! Come ! Come ! We 're never goin' to get 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

there at this rate." Then the old mares switch their 
tails, and walk a little faster. We think they are go 
ing to trot, but they don't. They begin to walk 
again. 

My father takes the whip out of the socket and 
flicks the old mares on the back. They start up now, 
and trot along past Steiner's and a few steps up the 
next hill. 

My father says: " Don't you want to take your 
coat off? It '11 be pretty warm by and by." 

I take my coat off and lay it on the seat. In a 
little while we are where we can look down Bradley's 
hill and across the tamarack swamp to Bernard's. 
There the road goes up again. 

Bernard's hill looks terribly long and steep, but 
we know it really is n't. It is only the way we see 
it, from so far and so high. 

The road through the swamp is muddy. There 
is water on both sides. The tamaracks are so close I 
can almost touch them. They are so thick you can 
hardly get through, and it is boggy and wet in there. 

Once Tip and I came over here after tamarack 
gum. We got a lot of it, but it was too bitter. We 
chewed it a long time, and made believe we liked it, 
but we did n't. The rubber gum that we get at the 
store is a good deal better. 

While we are going up Bernard's hill, my father 
says : " See if you can make out the new grave. 
Can you?" 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

We look across the stubble field to some trees with 
a fence around them. That is their burying ground. 
They have one all to themselves. 

We think we can see the new grave. It is where 
one of the Bernard boys was buried last winter. He 
was brought home from out west. My father and 
I went to the funeral. They had it at the house. 
We stopped at Mr. Purdy's, and he went with us. 

I say: "Who else is buried there?" 

My father says : " Well, for one, there 's Bernard 
himself, the father." 

I don't remember anything about him. I say: 
"Who was he?" 

My father says : " Oh, he was before your time." 

I say: " Did you know him? " 

My father says : " No, not so very well. He was 
a German. They say he was a well educated man, 
and a fine musician. They say he was n't very happy 
here, so far away from where he was brought up." 

My father says to the old mares : " Come, come ! 
Don't stop just because it 's a little up hill." 

He says to me : " We are apt to forget that the 
Germans must get pretty lonesome sometimes, 'way 
over here." 

We go past the house. I see the door where they 
carried the coffin out. The steps are steep, and they 
turn, and it was hard for them to get it down. The 
room was ever so small where they had him. When 
we went in to look at him, there was a boy that stood 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

there and looked all the time till they came and 
screwed the cover on. 

Before long we come to the South Plank. My 
father says: " Well, which way shall we go? Shall 
we turn down the Plank, or go on to the town line? " 

I say : " Oh, le' 's go the Plank way, and come 
back the other way." 



287 



My Father Tells Me About the Plank Road 
and Early Times 

THE old mares like the Plank. They turn to 
the left without any pulling on the lines at all. 

We go about half a mile, and there is a big white 
house. It has a great many green blinds. There is 
a saloon in one part of it. 

My father says : " That house used to be a 
tavern, in the early days." 

Back beyond the house there is a field, and then a 
piece of timber. Last winter they shot a grey wolf 
there. No one had seen a wolf wild for a long time, 
but there used to be plenty of them when people first 
came. My brother wrote about it for the paper. 

My father says : " Don't you remember what the 
paper said about the wolf? Well, this is the place." 

A little farther on, we come to a queer little house 
that stands right at the edge of the road. 

I say : " Why do they have that house so close to 
the road? " 

My father says : " That used to be a toll house. 
The man that kept the gate lived there." 

I don't understand. My father explains it. He 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

says : " You see, they call this the South Plank be 
cause it really was a plank road once. There was 
another called the North Plank, the other side of our 
house, away over beyond the burying ground. There 
were n't any railroads in early times, and they made 
the plank roads from the city out through here so 
the farmers could draw their wheat and things to 
Town. They used to charge, and every couple of 
miles there was a toll gate. But the railroads came, 
and the planks wore out, and now you would n't know 
they 'd ever been here." 

We come to another old house. Its blinds are shut 
tight, and the paint is all worn off. 

My father says : " There 's another of the old 
taverns. People used to stop over night in 'em. 
They lived so far away it took two or three days, and 
sometimes a week, to go to Town and back." 

After a while he says : " They used to have dances 
here in the early days, too. That was before there 
were so many Germans. The taverns were n't like 
the saloons. Folks used to come from miles around. 
But it 's got so we don't have so many dances now, at 
least among the old-timers." 

After a mile or so, we turn. The rest of the way 
is straight south. There is the big elm tree where 
we cross the town line, and then a long level road that 
gets so muddy at one place that my father is afraid 
something will happen to the buggy. 

The old mares make a great sucking noise with 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

their feet. There are logs sticking out of the mud 
on both sides. 

When we get where the road is harder, my father 
whips up the old mares. The buggy wheels don't 
rattle now. 

My father turns in the seat, and looks back. He 
says : " That 's what you call a corduroy road 
or that 's what it was once. I 'in always glad when I 
get through that place. The going 's 'most always 
pretty good except that one stretch." 

By and by he says : " It always makes me think 
o' the time your ma and I was married." 

I say: "Why?" 

My father says : " You know I married her over 
at Durham, where she lived. That was sixteen miles 
from home, seven the other side of Aunt Caty's. I 
drove over, and then it rained. The going was so 
bad I had to leave her there and walk home. I was 
station agent then, and o' course I had to be on tap 
early in the morning. Your Uncle Charles brought 
her and the rig over afterwards. That was in '59. 
Le' 's see, that was about 'levcn years before you come 
to town." 

The old mares hardly move. As soon as my father 
began to talk, they stopped trotting and began to 
walk. They always do that, unless he uses the whip 
on them. He sits leaning over a little bit, with his 
left arm across his knee, and forgets all about them. 

We go up a long hill that is n't very steep, and 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

then down past a marsh, and then up again along 
some woods. The woods belong to Cousin Sylvanus. 
Cousin Alvarus lives opposite them. 

When we get to the top of the hill, we can see Aunt 
Caty's. They live in a valley, with hayfields and 
stubble and cornfields all around, and hickory nut 
trees here and there. On the other side there are 
some stony hills, that are pastures for the sheep. 

Aunt Caty's house is white, and has green blinds. 
It is a big, low house. It is half covered up by ever 
greens and fruit trees. 

Across from the house is the horse barn. It is 
right by the road. It is red, with white trimmings. 
The hay barn is farther back, but that is not painted. 

My father says : " I guess you 'd better put on 
your coat and hat now, hadn't you? You know 
your ma wants you to be dressed up when you go to 
see other folks." 



291 



LI 

We Find Cousin Delia Feeding the Chickens 
and Turkeys 

MY father says : " There 's Delia, sure 's you 
live! I never knew it to fail! Seems 's if 
every time we come she was out feeding the chickens 
just the way she is now." 

Cousin Delia is in the road in front of the red 
horse barn. She is standing there with turkeys and 
chickens all around her. She has a calico dress and 
apron on, and a blue and white checked calico sun- 
bonnet. She is feeding the chickens and turkeys. 
That is always her work. She likes it. 

We begin to turn in toward the horse barn before 
Cousin Delia looks up. At first she does n't know 
us, but it is only a second. As soon as she is sure 
who we are, she sets her pail down. The old mares 
stop. Cousin Delia says: "Well, I declare! 
You 've come again, haven't you? I 'm glad to see 
you, Uncle Hiram ! " 

Cousin Delia is almost as old as my father, and I 
always think it is queer for her to call him uncle. 
But she is really his niece, and she is my cousin, even 
if she is so much older than I. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

We get out of the buggy. Cousin Delia shakes 
hands with my father. She says : " Well, how do 
you do ? " Then she shakes hands with me, and says : 
" And how do you do? " 

I like the way Cousin Delia says it. She does n't 
talk fast, and her voice always sounds as if she meant 
it. She ends some of her sentences with a kind of 
jerk. 

Cousin Delia picks up a tin pail full of big brown 
eggs. She says : " Well, I '11 go right in and tell 
the folks. They '11 be ever so glad to see you." 

She goes across the road to the gate in the old 
white picket fence. My father and I begin to un 
hitch. I unsnap the tugs on my side. 

We don't more than get started before we see 
Cousin Sylvanus coming down the path from the 
house. He must have seen us before we got out, be 
cause Cousin Delia is only through the gate. 

Cousin Sylvanus is in his shirt sleeves, and has an 
old straw hat on. He has a hickory shirt, the same 
as my father wears. He stoops a little, too, and his 
arms swing, just like my father's. He has shaggy 
hair and shaggy grey whiskers. He holds his head 
back as he comes down the path, and keeps looking. 
I know he is n't quite sure who we are. 

Cousin Sylvanus is glad to see us, too. I can tell, 
because he says things just like Cousin Delia, only 
he breaks off shorter. 

He shakes hands with us. He says : " Well ! 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Well! Well! Well! I-I 'm just as glad to see you 
as I-I can be ! " 

Cousin Sylvanus stammers the least bit sometimes 
when he is excited. 

He begins to help us unhitch. He says : " I tell 
you, you-you can't come too often to suit us ! " 

We got almost through with the unhitching. 
Cousin Sylvanus says : " Here, you let me take care 
of 'em, and you go to the house. The folks '11 want 
to see you." 

My father says : " Oh pshaw ! We '11 help put 
'em in, and all go in together." 

Cousin Sylvanus says : " All right, then." 
Pretty soon he says : " Best give 'em some water 
now, or wait a while till they 're cooler? " 

My father laughs. He says : " I guess there 
ain't any danger o' their bein' too warm. It 's took 
us two hours to come nine miles ! " 

They take the horses by the bridles. Cousin Syl 
vanus says: "How's the goin'? Pretty poor, I 
s'pose. It 's pretty poor between here and Town, I 
know. M-mighty poor ! " 

They lead the horses to the trough. Old Judy 
puts her nose down, but she won't drink. She only 
snorts. 

Cousin Sylvanus says : " I s'pose she don't like 
the smell o' the water. 'T ain't what she 's used to, 
you see." 

He waits a while. He says : " Well, maybe she '11 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

change her mind by the time she 's had her oats." 

My father says: "Well, anyway, she drank mid- 
dim' good before we come away. I guess she ain't 
suffering for water." 

Cousin Sylvanus puts the old mares in the stalls. 
He gets the fork and gives them hay. We hear them 
begin to crunch it. 

Cousin Sylvanus says to me : " You-you must n't 
get too near the old white's heels. I never knew 
him to kick yet, but as a rule you can't be too care 
ful around strange horses." 

We stand in the door a while. It is nice and warm 
and sunshiny. The hens are cackling. Once in a 
while one of the old turkeys gobbles. I am not used 
to turkeys. 

My father says : " I see you ain't thrashed yet." 

Cousin Sylvanus says : " No, there 's no hurry 
about it. I always like to thrash late. It 's good 
for the grain to have a chance to sweat out in the 
stack. If I was sure prices would n't go down, I-I 
would n't thrash till real cold weather. N-no sir ! " 

My father says : " Don't your stacks ever wet 
in?" 

Cousin Sylvanus says : " Not a bit of it ! " He 
says it as short as can be, but I know he is n't the 
least bit cross. We are used to the way he talks. 

He says : " No, there 's no danger if you only 
build 'em right. All you have to do is keep the mid 
dle good and full and put a good cover o' marsh hav 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

on, and they won't wet in a bit not if you leave 'em 
out till Christmas ! " 

He takes a step or two away from the door. He 
says : " But le' 's go in ! Father and mother and 
the girls '11 be wonderin' why we don't come." 

Cousin Sylvanus and my father always call them 
the girls. 



296 



LII 



Cousin Sylvanus and All the Rest Are Glad to 
See Us 

WE cross the road and go into the yard. The 
old picket fence leans a little. The gate 
strikes the ground when Cousin Sylvanus opens it. 

We go up the path along the side of the house. It 
is hard black dirt, and there are plantains on the 
edges. We go around to the back door. 

They don't use their front door, so there is n't a 
path going up to it. The parlor is in the front part. 
The front yard is all evergreens, and the ground is 
covered with needles. They are brown, and there 
are brown cones here and there. 

We go up the back steps. We stop to scrape and 
rub our feet. We know the kitchen floor will be as 
clean as can be. 

Cousin Sarah is in the kitchen. When we open 
the door and go in, she is just putting some wood in 
the stove. 

Cousin Sarah is black-eyed, and she is small. Her 
hair is smoothed down on both sides. Her voice is 
soft. She comes up to us and shakes hands, and 
smiles. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

She says : " We 're so glad to see you, Uncle 
Hiram ! It has been quite a long time since you 'vc 
been to see us." 

She says to me : " And we 're glad to see you, 
too." She shakes hands with me, and puts her hand 
on my head. She says : " Why, how you do grow ! " 

We start toward the sitting room door. Cousin 
Sarah says : " I thought I 'd make up a little fire 
so as to have it ready for Delia. But go right in, go 
right in ! " 

We go through the door into the sitting room. 
It is cool and clean in there. It smells of the rag 
carpet, too, just as it does in our sitting room at 
home. Only they have straw under their carpet. It 
is soft when we walk on it, and does n't make any 
noise. 

As soon as we open the door, Cousin Juliette comes 
up to us and takes hold of our hands. You can 
hardly hear her walk. Her hands are warm and 
soft, and her voice sounds that way, too. I like to 
have her look at me. Her hair is getting white. 

Aunt Caty and Uncle Danel are right behind 
Cousin Juliette. They are both very old and very 
white. Uncle Danel has a cane. He is in his shirt 
sleeves, and his vest is open. He has bunches of thin 
white whiskers near his ears. Aunt Caty stoops a 
good deal, and has trouble in walking. 

They shake hands with us. 

Aunt Caty says : " Hiram, how are ye? " 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Uncle Danel says : " Hi, we 're real glad to see 
ye again ! " 

Then Aunt Caty says : " We 'd 'a' been out to the 
barn to meet ye, but we don't stir 'round 's much 's 
we used to." 

Aunt Caty's voice is always a little hoarse. She 
speaks quickly. 

Uncle Danel does n't speak so quickly. He says : 
" No, we 're gettin' old. That 's the 'mount of it. 
But come ! Have a chair ! Have a chair ! " 

We sit down. I sit on the sofa, near the window. 
There is a pillow on it at the end that is in the corner 
of the room. There is a nail in the window casing, 
and an almanac hanging there by a pink string. A 
pair of scissors hangs there, too. Uncle Danel's big 
silver watch and chain are hanging on a hook away 
up high on the other wall. 

They have a mantel behind their stove, with the 
clock on it. Their clock is like ours, only it has col 
umns at the sides of the door, and General George 
Washington in the door, instead of just a looking- 
glass. He is in a blue and yellow uniform, and has 
his hand stretched out. He is commanding some 
thing. His head is gone, and part of his left arm. 

When the clock strikes, it is like a little bell. Ours 
is n't that way. Theirs says : " Ding-ding-ding- 
ding," but ours says : " Dong . . . dong . . . 
dong ! " Ours is a good deal slower. 

Cousin Juliette says to me : " I '11 go and see if I 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

can't get you something to amuse yourself with while 
they are talking." 

She goes out by the door that leads into the hall 
and the parlor. She comes back with the stereoscope 
and some pictures, and some books. She always gets 
something for me that way. 

They begin to ask my father about my mother. 
Aunt Caty says : " I wish you could get her to come 
along with you oftener. O' course she understands 
she 's more 'n welcome." 

My father says : " Oh, of course ! But you see 
she don't quite like to leave the house alone all day, 
with none of us anywhere near." 

Aunt Caty says : " Well, 't is quite a while to 
leave a house all alone. I don' know as I blame 
her!" 

My father says : " It '11 be different when the 
young married folks get back." 

Uncle Danel says : " I understand you really ex 
pect 'em back about Thanksgivin'. At least that 's 
what you wrote in your last letter. Well, well, well ! 
You '11 be real glad, won't you, both of you? " 

Aunt Caty says : " Well, I guess they will ! " 

Cousin Sylvanus says : " Of course they will ! " 

Cousin Delia says : " Well, I should say as 
much!" 

Aunt Caty says : " You need the boy at home, 
too, Hi. You ain't no business workin' so hard, at 
your time o' life." 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Cousin Sylvanus says : " O' course you can keep 
a man, but you know as well as I do that a man don't 
take things off o' your shoulders. N-no, sir! " 

Cousin Delia says : " Of course he don't. The 
fact is, sometimes I think they make it harder." 

My father says : " Well, I 've had to put up 
with a good deal from 'em, but of course I can't 
choose. If I could, by jolly! I wouldn't have one 
of 'em on the place. I 'd do every bit o' my own 
work." He says : " And I would n't have a machine 
on the place, either ! " 

Aunt Caty says: "Well, Hiram, you always did 
like to be independent, even when you was a boy." 

Uncle Danel looks at me. He says : " I s'pose 
you do quite a little to help your pa, don't you? " 

Cousin Juliette says : " Of course he does. 
Don't you ? " 

I say : " I can carry bundles and set 'em up. 
And I can bind." 

Aunt Caty says : " Why, ain't that too hard for 
a little boy like you? " 

My father says : " Oh, what he does in the 
harvest field don't 'mount to so very much. But he 
helps ma a lot, and he managed the berry pickin' for 
me this summer." 

Aunt Caty says : " You don't say he did ! Well, 
well, well ! Now I call that mighty smart, for a boy 
o' his years." 

My father and Aunt Caty and Uncle Danel talk 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

about York State and the time they came west. It 
was in '39. 

Aunt Caty says : " I remember the roads when we 
came out from Town. They was just dreadful! 
Fact o' the matter is, they wa'n't no roads. They 
wa'n't a shovelful of gravel between here and Town ! " 

They talk about Batavia, where they came from. 
My Uncle Abe and my father came a little after the 
others. Uncle Abe lived four or five miles away. 
He is dead, and Aunt Nancy and the boys live alone. 

My father says: "Heard from Jane lately? 
She 's got some queer notions in her head these last 
years, and they say you can't talk 'em out of her." 

Aunt Caty says : " Yes, I understand she has. I 
never hear from her any more, though. Thinks Pete 
is alive yet somewhere, don't she? " 

My father says : " No, not exactly that. But 
she sticks to it that Pete is being changed all the time 
from one graveyard to another underground, I 
s'pose. You just can't do anything with her. She 
won't have it any other way." 

Aunt Caty says : " Too bad ! And she 'pears to 
be all right every other way, too, don't she? " 

My father says : " Straight as a string ! " 

By and by he says : " Well, she 's got some good 
boys, anyway. They '11 take good care of her." 

Uncle Danel says : " Yes, you 're right about 
that! She has got some mighty good boys. And 
so 's Nancy. I don't think they 've got a bad habit 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

among 'em. They don't drink nor swear, nor use 
tobacco in any form, and they 're good workers." 

Cousin Sylvanus says : " Of course they are ! 
There ain't a shif 'less bone in their body ! " 

Uncle Danel says: " That 's just as true as you 
live. They 're as reliable as they can be. You can 
depend upon 'em every time." 

Cousin Delia comes in. She stands there until 
Uncle Danel is through talking. Then she says to 
Cousin Juliette : " Juliette, I s'pose you and Sarah 
might be setting the table." She goes back to the 
kitchen to get the things off the stove. 

Cousin Juliette and Cousin Sarah pull the table 
into the middle of the room, and spread a clean table 
cloth. Then they go to the pantry and bring the 
plates and things. You can hardly hear them step. 
You can hear the clock tick while they are going back 
and forth. 




LIII 

We Have Broiscn Eggs, Hot Biscuits, and Pear 
Preserves for Dinner 

AUNT CATY gets to thinking of something else. 
All of a sudden she looks up. She gives her 
head a quick jerk when she does it, so she can look 
straight through her spectacles. 

She says : " Well, I guess the girls have got the 
dinner on. S'posin' we have somethin' to eat. 
Sha'n't we?" 

We all get up. Uncle Danel and Aunt Caty grunt 
when they get up. They move slowly. 

Cousin Sylvanus sits down at his place, and leans 
back. He sits in an arm-chair that will tilt without 
the legs moving. 

Cousin Juliette says to my father : " Uncle Hi 
ram, won't you sit here, by mother? " 

She says to me : " Here, I 've brought the dic 
tionary for you to sit on. I 'm sorry we have n't a 
high-chair for you. But I guess you '11 get along." 

Uncle Danel says : " You see it *s a long time 
since we 've had a baby in the house. If it was n't 
for your boy and Melindy's girls, Hi, we 'd forget 
what childern was like, I 'm 'fraid." 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

My father says : " I 'm in hopes Melindy '11 be 
over sometime before we go back." Melinda is an 
other of the girls. 

Aunt Caty says : " I should n't wonder a bit if 
she did. They often come over Sundays." 

We have meat and potatoes and sweet corn, and 
there is a big white bowl full of the brown eggs. 
Uncle Danel begins to dish the meat and potatoes. 

When it comes my turn, Uncle Danel says to my 
father : " Well, what shall I give the boy ? " 

My father says : " Oh, he '11 eat anything you 've 
got ! You can depend on him every time. He 's al 
ways got a first rate appetite." 

Cousin Sarah passes the corn. She says : " I 
guess this is about the last of our sweet corn. It 's 
held out later than usual this year. Won't you have 
some? " 

The eggs have brown specks on them. We tap 
them with our knives, and take the shell off. They 
are hard-boiled. 

Aunt Caty says : " Somehow I never care for 'em 
soft-boiled. They make such a mess on yer plate. 
I don't like the taste of 'em so well, either." 

Cousin Sylvanus says : " No, nor I ! " 

Cousin Delia says : " Nor I ! " 

All three of them speak short. My father does, 
too. Cousin Juliette and Cousin Sarah always 
speak softly. 

Aunt Caty says: " Sarah, I thought ye had some 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

biscuits. Did n't ye? Seems to me a while ago 's if 
I smelled 'em." 

Cousin Sarah lifts up a fresh, white napkin, and 
there under it is a plate of nice white biscuits. She 
passes them to Aunt Caty. 

Aunt Caty takes a biscuit, and passes them to my 
father. She says : " Hiram, have a biscuit. And 
take one for the boy." 

My father takes a biscuit for himself, and gives 
me one. Then he reaches for another. He says: 
" Hold on, here ! I guess I better take two for 
him, while I 'm about it. They don't last him very 
long." 

I feel warm in the face. 

Everything is good, but the biscuits are the best. 
Cousin Sarah always makes them. They are white 
outside and inside, and light, and smoking hot when 
you open them. 

They have their butter white at Aunt Caty's, and 
put in plenty of salt. I like it that way. 

The biscuits are good with the meat and potato 
and egg, but they are best of all with the pear pre 
serves. 

Cousin Juliette says : " We 're only just using up 
the last of our last year's preserves." 

My father looks toward the south window. He 
says: " Is the tree bearin' as usual this year? " 

Cousin Juliette says : " Yes, it is. It does n't 
hang quite so full as last year, but there '11 be plenty 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

for our own use. We always have all the pears we 
want. Goodness me ! I don't know what we should do 
without them. I don't believe there has ever been 
a year without some." 

Cousin Sylvanus says : " I s'pose I better get at 
it and pick 'em one o' these next few days." 

My father says : " Well, I never could have any 
luck with pears." 

Aunt Caty says : " Why, goodness, 't aint no 
trouble to raise pears! The tree just stands there, 
and bears. We don't do anything to it ! " 

I don't like to ask for more biscuits. I don't know 
what I 'd do if it were n't for Cousin Juliette. Some 
how she always passes them before I have been with 
out very long. I have quite a good many. 

My father notices. He says : " You must n't eat 
too many ! " 

I feel warm in the face again. I look down. I 
remember what my mother said about eating. I wish 
my father would n't say things like that. 

Cousin Juliette laughs a little. She says : " Oh, 
let him have all he wants, he likes them so well ! You 
know they 're awfully small. I often tell Sarah I 
think she makes them too small. And they J re light. 
I don't think they '11 hurt him a bit." 

Cousin Sylvanus says : " I don't either. Not a 
bit of it ! " * 

Cousin Delia says: "Nor I!" 

Aunt Caty says : " Of course they won't ! Who 
307 



ever heard o' such a thing? He's a growin' boy, 
ain't he?" 

Aunt Caty talks almost as if she were cross. But 
I know she is n't, a bit. 

When we are all through, they lean back a little 
while, and talk. Cousin Sylvanus puts his elbows on 
the arms of his chair, and puts his fingers and thumbs 
against each other, over his stomach. 

Uncle Danel says : " I wish Melindy and Hale 
and the girls 'd come over. I expect Alvarus will 
come in at least, if he saw you. Did you notice 
when you come by ? " 

Cousin Alvarus lives at the last place before we 
come to Aunt Caty's. He has a great many sheep. 

By and by everybody gets up. Cousin Juliette 
and Cousin Sarah clear the table. Cousin Juliette 
takes the table cloth and shakes it out of the south 
door, and folds it, and puts it away. They spread 
the every day cloth on, and push the table back 
against the wall again. 

We can hear Cousin Delia beginning to wash the 
dishes. Cousin Sarah and Cousin Juliette go out 
where she is. They are going to wipe the dishes and 
set them away. 

Uncle Danel and Aunt Caty lean back in their 
chairs. Pretty soon they begin to nod. 

Aunt Caty's glasses fall off. She puts a news 
paper over her head, and goes to sleep. 

Uncle Danel lies down on the sofa. The clock 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

strikes once. It is half past twelve. They always 
begin dinner before twelve. They have breakfast at 
just twenty minutes to seven. 

Cousin Sylvanus says to my father : " Sha'n't we 
go out and 'tend to the horses now? " 

They start for the barn. I walk along behind 
them. 



309 



LIV 

We Feed the Horses, and Get a Basket of 
Sweet-Apples 

COUSIN SYLVANUS says: Le' 's see, how 
many oats do you 'low 'em? " 

My father says: "Oh, when they travel, I usu 
ally give 'em about four quarts." 

Cousin Sylvanus gets the oats. The old mares 
whinner when they hear him coming. 

We stand by the door quite a while. Cousin Syl 
vanus and my father talk about the crops and the 
weather. I go and look out of the back door at the 
sheep in the meadow. We don't have sheep on our 
farm. 

We go back into the yard. We go to the garden 
and look at the tomatoes and the melon vines. 

Cousin Sylvanus says : " The frost 's held off 
pretty well so far, but I 'spect one o' these days we '11 
catch it." 

We go over to the sweet-apple tree. There are a 
lot of them on the ground. 

Cousin Sylvanus says : " You '11 have to take a 
basket of 'em home with you. They 're poor keep- 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

ers, but I should n't wonder if you could manage to 
use a few of 'em before they spoil." 

My father picks up one and begins to eat it. He 
says : " Well, thank you, if you 've got more than 
you can use, I don' know but we mil take a few of 
'cm." 

Cousin Sylvanus says to me : " S'pose you run in 
and ask Delia for the basket." 

We fill the basket. My father says : " I '11 bring 
the basket back next time we come. I hope it won't 
be as long as it has this time." 

We go to the house. Cousin Sylvanus carries the 
basket. He sets it just inside the kitchen door. He 
says : " I '11 put it right here, where we '11 be sure 
and see it when we come out." 

Uncle Danel and Aunt Caty are awake after their 
naps. They look sleepy yet. We all sit down, and 
they begin to talk about York State again. 

Aunt Caty and my father have a great many 
brothers and sisters and uncles and aunts. They 
talk about every one of them. I look at pictures. 

Aunt Caty says : " Heard from Polly lately ? 
Last time she wrote she was n't feelin' so very spry. 
Rheumatism, she says. An' she says her cousin, Mis' 
John Bartlett, her 't was Mandy Smith, is havin' the 
same kind o' trouble exactly." 

No one says anything for a while. I keep on look 
ing at pictures. 

Then Aunt Caty says : " I heard from Melissy 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

last week. She 's all crippled up with rheumatism, 
too. Said she could hardly set up, and 't was all 
she could do to hold a pen." 

Aunt Caty waits a while. She says : " Well, her 
writin' was awful, and no gettin' 'round it ! " 

They talk about Jacob, and Peter, and Heman, 
and Lorinda, and a lot more. Most of them were 
named out of the Bible. They talk about when they 
were married, and how many children they have, and 
how much property. They talk about Uncle Abe, 
and the ones that died. There are so many of them 
all together that I wonder how they can remember 
them all. 

Cousin Juliette comes and says to me : " Don't 
you want to come into the other room with me a 
while? You must be tired hearing them talk." 

We go out into the hall. It is cooler there. It 
smells as if it had been shut up. It is as clean and 
quiet as can be. We hardly make a bit of noise 
when we walk. 

We go into a room at one side. It has big lace 
curtains, and a center table, and a what-not. It is 
cooler yet in there. 

Cousin Juliette shows me the album. She shows 
me Cousin Luriette, that died a long time ago when 
she was young. She has black hair smoothed down 
on both sides. Then there are Cousin Seymour and 
Cousin Myron. They live away somewhere. 

By and by Cousin Juliette shows me some books. 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

She asks me if I read many story books. She says : 
" I '11 ask Uncle Hiram if he would n't like to have me 
let you take some books." 

We go back where they all are. Cousin Juliette 
says to my father : " Uncle Hiram, does he read 
story books? " 

My father says : " Oh, he devours everything we 
have in the house. It 's as much as the neighborhood 
can do to keep him supplied." 

Cousin Juliette says: "Well, now, wouldn't you 
like to take home Ida May with you, or Peculiar In 
stitution? We think they are real good stories. 
They 're about slavery days." 

I say : " Yes, I 'd like to take them." I don't 
like to ask. It makes my face warm again. 

Cousin Juliette says : " Well, you shall take them 
both. I '11 wrap them up right away, so they '11 be 
all ready." 

I look through the Chase's almanac hanging by the 
window casing, and then go back and begin to look 
at the pictures again. A good many of them are 
pictures of a river, and rocks, and boats. I keep 
thinking how I 'd like to go fishing in that river. 

Uncle Danel and Aunt Caty have a way of forget 
ting what the others were saying. Sometimes they 
forget what they were saying themselves. They sit 
still quite a while, and look up all of a sudden and 
say: "What was that we was just sayin'? I got 
to thinkin' about somethin' else, and lost track." 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

I look at all the pictures three or four times. I 
get up and go out of the south door. 

I go over to the pear tree, and stand and look up 
at the pears. They are late winter pears. They 
say that they are n't good to eat until they have been 
lying in the house and getting mellow a long time. 
But I wish I had some of them to try now. 



314 



LV 



The Hales and Alvarus Come, and Alvarus 
Tells About the Dogs 

I HEAR a noise out by the road. Someone is 
saying : " Whoa ! Whoa ! " A carriage is 
just stopping near the gate. 

Some people get out. I know it must be Mr. Hale 
and Cousin Mclinda. Mr. Hale's name is Hiram, 
just like my father's. They have two little girls, a 
good deal smaller than I am. Mr. Hale has a mill, 
and a pond. 

Cousin Sylvanus goes down the path to meet 
them. I go into the house. Pretty soon they all 
come. 

Cousin Melinda is quiet and nice, like all of the 
rest of them. Mr. Hale has whiskers and long hair. 
They are reddish, and a little grey. 

Mr. Hale does n't talk right along. He keeps 
looking down, or else he looks away. My father said 
once that he acted as if he was excusing himself for 
something. When he said it, my mother said: 
" Well, I guess he ain't ! What has he got to excuse 
himself for? " 

The little girls are Winnie and Floy. Winnie has 
315 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

black hair. Floy's is n't so black. They sit on the 
carpet and look at pictures. They look so clean and 
quiet that I don't see how they can play. Whenever 
I get anywhere near them, I smell clean clothes. 

Cousin Juliette gets Winnie and Floy a little bell 
to ring. It has a little crack in the side of it. Their 
father brought it from the Centennial at Philadelphia 
three or four years ago. 

Mr. Hale says : " I never see so much water as 
there is this year. The pond 's full all the time. 
But there 's little or no grindin', of course. It 's 
early in the season." 

I wish I could go fishing in Mr. Hale's pond. I 
know there would be scale fish there. 

Someone's head goes by the north window. It had 
an old straw hat on. It was torn on one side, and 
stained along the band. 

Cousin Delia says : " I should n't wonder if it 
was Alvarus." 

Cousin Sylvanus says : " I '11 warrant you that 's 
just who it is! " 

We hear steps coming across the kitchen floor. 
Cousin Sarah gets up and opens the door. Cousin 
Alvarus comes in. 

Cousin Sarah looks up at him, and smiles. She 
says : " How do you do to-day, Alvarus ? " 

Cousin Alvarus has grey hair and grey whiskers, 
except on his upper lip. He has a vest on, but no 
coat. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

My father gets up and starts to meet him. 
Cousin Alvarus says: "How d' do, everybody? 
How d' do, Uncle Hiram? " 

He shakes hands with my father. He says: 
" Saw you drive by this forenoon, and thought I 'd 
come down a minute, for fear you would n't find time 
to come up." 

My father says: "I thought maybe you'd drop 
in before we got ready to go. If you had n't, I cal 
culated to stop a minute or two as we drove by. 
How 's Hannah and the rest of the family? " 

Cousin Alvarus says : " Oh, they 're so-so just 
middlin'. How's all your folks?" He asks about 
my brother and Edie. My father tells him what he 
told the others. 

Cousin Alvarus sits down beside Aunt Caty. He 
says : " Pretty well to-day, are you, mother? " 

Aunt Cat}' says : " Oh, there 's never nothing the 
matter o' me! " 

No one says anything for a while. Cousin Alva 
rus sits and looks at the carpet, as if he were n't 
thinking of any of us. 

Cousin Sylvanus says : " What 'd you and the 
boys finally make out about the dogs? Did you 
g-get track of them? " He jerks his words out. 

Cousin Alvarus looks at my father. He says: 
" Dogs got into my sheep, you know. Killed one, 
and tore up five more pretty badly." 

He says to Cousin Sylvanus : " Yes, we did. We 
317 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

traced 'em up at last, and I don't think we '11 have 
any more trouble from that quarter! " 

Cousin Sylvanus says : " Whose were they the 
Schmitzes'? F-first thing that came into my head 
when I heard of it was them." 

Cousin Alvarus says: " No, 't wa'n't the Schmitz 
dogs. No, they belonged to what's his name? 
to that good-for-nothing fellow over by the town line, 
three or four miles away. You know who I mean 
Flanagan, that 's the name. One of the most shif- 
less fellows you ever saw ! Runs through every cent 
he has, always behind with his work, and just lives 
from hand to mouth. But of course he ain't too 
poor to keep a lot of useless dogs. As worthless a 
scamp as you ever saw ! " 

Cousin Sylvanus says : " Yes, I know him. 
You 're right ! That-that 's exactly what he is ! " 

Mr. Hale says : " Did you have any difficulty 
proving it on him? " 

Cousin Alvarus says : " Oh, it was as plain a case 
as could be ! We got out after 'em first thing, 'fore 
the dew was off. We could see where they left the 
pasture and went across the second crop clover, and 
we kept following and asking everybody we met, until 
we got to this place. We went right into the yard 
and called him out o' doors." 

Cousin Alvarus begins to get a little bit excited 
remembering all about it. 

He says: "I says to him, says I: 'Flanagan, 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

will you let me take a look at your dogs this morn- 
ing?' 

" Well, the fellow began to bristle up. * What do 
you want to see my dogs for ? ' says he. ' Why,' says 
I, ' I had some sheep killed and mangled last night,' 
says I, ' and I 'm tryin' to locate the dogs that did 
it.' 

" ' Well,' says he, ' 't wa'n't my dogs done it.' 

" Says I, ' I don't say it was. All I want is to see 
'em. Then maybe we can tell whether 't was them or 
not.' 

" Well, you know, at first the fellow was inclined to 
refuse. But finally he come 'round. He sent his 
boy to call the dogs around, and, by jolly! there it 
was. Two of 'em were all bloody about the chaps 
and had pieces o' wool stickin' to 'em. 

" I knew I had him. ' Now,' says I, ' 1 've tracked 
your dogs here, and here they are. Now you 've got 
to let me shoot 'em, or I '11 sue you for damages. 
I 've got enough witnesses that saw 'em come.' 

" Well, you know, he held out quite a while, but he 
saw it was no use makin' a fuss. Finally he says: 
' Well,' says he, ' all right, kill 'em if you want to,' 
and the boys put a bullet through 'em." 

Cousin Delia says : " Well, 't was only the fail- 
thing. Of course they 'd have come back before long 
and killed some more." 

Cousin Sylvanus says : " Of course they would. 
There ain't a doubt of it ! " 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Cousin Alvarus says : " I s'pose I might have 
sued him for damages, too. But the fellow has n't 
got a thing. 'T would n't be any use." 

Cousin Sylvanus says : " Not a bit of it ! Of 
course not ! " 

They all talk quite a long time. The clock 
strikes a half hour. I look. It is half past three. 

My father gets up. He says : " Well, Caty, I 
guess we '11 have to be gettin' ready to go." 

Aunt Caty says : " Pshaw, Hiram, stay to sup 
per, won't ye? You know you don't come very 
often. You '11 get home by seven." 

My father says : " No, we better be startin' 
along." He says to me: "You know your ma '11 
be lookin' for us, and it '11 take the old marcs about 
two hours to travel it." 

Aunt Caty and Uncle Danel say : " You '11 be 
over again soon, won't ye? " 

We say good-bye, and go out through the kitchen 
and around down the path, and across to the horse- 
barn. The girls all come with us. Cousin Alvarus 
stays in the house with Uncle Danel and Aunt Caty 
and the Hales. Cousin Sylvanus carries our basket 
of apples. 



320 



LVI 

My Father and I Start Home, and Delia Feeds 
the Chickens Again 

THEY all say good-bye to my father and me. 
He says to the old mares : " Well, le' 's be 
gettin' on home ! " He flicks them with the whip. 
They start off on a slow trot. 

Before we get so very far we look back. Cousin 
Delia is standing at the side of the road in front of 
the horse barn. She has her sunbonnet on, and a 
pail in her hand, and there are turkeys and chickens 
all around her. The others are going back to the 
house. 

My father says : " I guess the chickens and tur 
keys kind o' like her, the way they 're always around 
her. And I guess she likes them." 

We go past Cousin Alvarus's house and over the 
hill. Cousin Delia is there as long as we can see the 
place. 

On Cousin Alvarus's veranda there is a long pine 
box. It has a black oil-cloth on it. I think of Aunt 
Jane and her notions. I wonder whether she ever 
thinks Uncle Peter is in there. I feel as if I should n't 
like to open the box. 

The old mares trot better than they did in the 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

morning. My father says : " That 's because 
they 're headed for home." 

But he has to jerk on the lines a good deal, any 
way. He holds the whip in his right hand all the 
time. Every time he begins to say anything to me, 
the old mares stop trotting. 

My father makes his own whipstocks, out of 
hickory. He cuts the lashes off a piece of buckskin 
that he keeps in the woodshed. He makes ax-helves, 
too. He dresses them down with the drawshave, 
over in Uncle Anthony's shop. Then he uses his 
knife, and after that sandpapers the wood till it is 
nice and smooth. 

I take off my hat and coat. Pretty soon I take 
off my shoes and stockings. I say : " I don't think 
I 'm going to have headache this time." 

My father says : " That 's good ! I don't see 
why you should have it so much, anyway." 

Every time we go past a woods, my father looks 
at the big trees. He says he has hunted squirrels 
so much it has come to be a habit with him to be 
always looking for them that way. 

I have been hunting with my father a good many 
times, and I am getting so I look at the trees the 
same way he does. 

All of a sudden a big fox squirrel runs across the 
road in front of us. He goes through the rail fence. 

My father says : " Whoa, whoa ! " 

The old mares stop. They are always ready to 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

stop. My father leans forward and watches the 
squirrel till he goes up a big elm. He says : " By 
jolly! I wish I had the gun here now! He 'd make 
a first class stewpie." 

My mother always laughs about my father and 
hunting. Once she said : " Every time he sees a 
squirrel or a rabbit he gets so excited he does n't 
know what to do. I 've known him to get out of the 
cutter when we were going somewhere, to follow up 
a mink track and see what became of it." 

We drive on again. I say : " Did it use to be all 
big trees everywhere?" 

My father says : " Yes, everywhere except the 
little openings, as we called 'em. There were n't so 
many where the openings were." 

I say : " It must have been lots of work clear 
ing up." 

My father says: "Well, I just giiess it was lots 
of work. But we did n't have to clear up all of our 
farm. The railroad took some of the timber. But 
then, there was the stumps and the stones just the 
same." 

I say: "Were there more squirrels then? " 

My father says : " Yes, and there used to be 
grey squirrels and black squirrels. When Abe and 
I kept bachelor's hall where Aunt Nancy lives now, 
there was woods all around, and they were just full 
of game. I could take a squirrel right through the 
head every time, on a tall tree." 

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My father gets to talking about his folks in York 
State. I ask a good many questions. He says his 
father had nine brothers and sisters. He says he had 
fifteen brothers and sisters himself, all told. They 
lived four miles from Batavia, and used to go to town 
to church. 

My father says : " We were awfully poor. I 
s'pose it was because there was such a lot of us. 
Father could n't dress us all, so only the biggest 
could go to church. And then, I don't s'pose they 
could all have got into the wagon at once." 

He says : " You know, I did n't have as many 
things as you. I went to school without any shoes 
up to the time there was snow on the ground. Once 
or twice I went right in the snow. And then I had 
to stay at home and work as soon as I was big 
enough to do anything. I only had a couple o' 
years o' schooling." 

I think about what my father says, but I don't say 
anything. 

After a while my father says : " But when I got 
bigger I worked in Haney's hardware store in town, 
and I sat up nights and read and wrote and figured. 
I had to educate myself, you see." 

I say : " How old were you when you came 
west?" 

My father says : " Oh, I was twenty-two or three. 
Aunt Caty and Uncle Dancl came a year or two be 
fore I did. I went to their house when I came. 

324 



Aunt Caty is quite a little older than I am. She was 
the oldest of us all. That 's how Sylvanus and the 
girls come to be so old." 

I say : " How did you come to have such old- 
fashioned names, like Heman, and Hiram, and so 
forth?" 

My father says : " Oh, they 're Bible names. 
Father was great on the Bible. But Uncle Dancl 
and Aunt Caty named their boys and girls out o' 
books." 

The old mares have been walking a long time. 
My father starts them up. 

I say : " Pa, you did n't go to war, did you ? " 

My father says : " No, I was over age. But my 
brother Jacob went anyway. He was over sixty. 
He was afraid the South would beat if he did n't 

go." 

My father laughs. He says : " He said when 
he used to march his army boots hurt his feet, so 
he 'd take 'em off and carry 'em on his musket. He 
always went barefoot. When he went courtin' he 
always carried his boots till he got there, and 
then he put 'em on and went in. You know he 
married Deborah Tinkham. Afterwards he mar 
ried Desire Tinkham. She was Deborah's sis 
ter." 

I say : " Were they any relation to the Tink- 
hams over north? " 

My father says : " No, not as I ever heard." 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

When we come to the big elm at the town line, we 
turn to the left instead of going straight ahead. 
It brings us out at the South Plank again near 
Bernard's. 

My father says : " It 's kind o' nice for a change, 
even if the goin' is n't quite as good. I kind o' like 
the way it goes down and up through the woods, and 
you never know what 's comin' next." 

When we go by Tip's we don't see anyone. I sup 
pose they are having supper. At Edie's house, her 
mother is sitting at the window. She does n't look 
at us. 

We go down the hill. I look down the lane. The 
cows are just coming up out of the woods. 

My father says : " There come the cows ! You 
won't have to go after 'em. You can just jump out 
and open the gate, and let 'em come along them 
selves." 

We drive in past the asparagus row and stop 
over the plank walk by the woodshed door. I get 
down. My mother comes to the door. My father 
reaches under the seat for the apples, and I get my 
hat and coat and shoes, and the books. 

My mother says : " You did n't go barefoot and 
without your coat over there, I hope? " 

I say : " No, I did n't take 'em off till we got 
started home. They made my feet so hot. Is sup 
per ready ? " 

My father drives out to the barn. I go in. I 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

open the book package, and begin to read Ida May. 
By the time my father comes in, I know it is going to 
be interesting. 



327 



LVII 

We Kill Some Roosters, and Go to Meet My 
Brother and Edit 

MY father says: "Well, better light the 
lantern. We '11 have to get the chickens out 
o' the way before train time." 

I get the lantern from the nail in the cellar way. 
I get a match out of the box on the wall by the door, 
and light the lantern. 

I touch the match on the kitchen stove. It burns 
clear blue at first, with just a little sputter. I am 
not careful, and some of it gets in my nose. It is so 
sharp I catch my breath, and it makes my eyes 
water. 

When the match gets to burning yellow, I lift up 
the lantern and stick the blaze through the little 
brass screen that holds the globe up, and try to light 
the wick. The match goes out. 

My father says : " Oh, you might as well take 
the globe out first as last. You can never be sure of 
it that way." 

We start for the henhouse. It is Thanksgiving 
to-morrow, and my brother and Edie are coming 
home to-night on the nine o'clock. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

We always have a stewpie for Thanksgiving, un 
less we have oysters. We don't keep turkeys. My 
father says you never can tell where they are, and 
they are always bothering the neighbors. 

We are all glad my brother and Edie are coming 
home. On the way to the henhouse I think of the 
nine o'clock and the conductor. I begin to swing 
the lantern the way he does. There is enough snow 
on the ground to make everything white. 

My father takes the lantern, and goes in through 
the henhouse door. The door is low, and he has to 
stoop. The roosters begin to cackle, the way they 
do when they are surprised. Then it is quiet a 
minute. I know my father is looking the roosters 
over. 

Pretty soon I hear a rooster's wings flap, and the 
other roosters and hens cackle again. The rooster 
begins to squawk. He says : " Ker-rah-h-h ! ker- 
rah-h-h ! " 

Soon there are two of them squawking at the same 
time. I know my father has got another. 

My father comes out of the door. The two 
roosters are hanging head downward, squawking. 
They are white and fluffy. Their wings are spread 
out. They try to hold their heads up. 

We start up toward the wood pile. I open the 
barnyard gate for my father, and put the pin back 
in after we are through. The roosters stop squawk 
ing, and then begin again. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

The ax is leaning against the big chunk that my 
father splits wood against. The top of the chunk 
is covered with snow. My father has me take one of 
the roosters. It begins to squawk again when I take 
hold of it. 

My father gives me the lantern. He says : 
" Hold it up, so I can see." 

The roosters stop squawking. They just look at 
the lantern. Their eyes are round and shiny. 

My father holds his rooster so its neck is on the 
big chunk. He raises the ax in his other hand, and 
brings it down hard. Then he holds the rooster out 
as far away from him as he can for a second or 
two. 

The rooster jerks, and its wings flap. The blood 
runs out in a thin stream. It makes holes in the 
snow. The ground shows through. 

My father throws the rooster down. It jumps 
and flaps quite a while. It makes big spots of mussy 
snow, with drops and splotches of red in it. He 
takes the other rooster. 

When the other rooster is through jumping and 
flapping, my father takes them both by the legs, and 
we start for the house. Their feathers are all snow, 
and some of the snow is stained red. Their wings 
are hanging out loose, and go up and down every step 
my father takes. 

My father says to my mother : " Is the water 
good and hot? " 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

My mother says : " Yes, it 's been boiling quite 
a while." 

My father gets a big pail and puts the roosters 
in it. Their legs stick out over the edge. They 
are yellow. He pours the boiling water out of the 
big tea kettle until the pail is nearly full, and pushes 
the roosters' legs down until the water covers all the 
feathers. There is lots of steam, and it smells of 
wet feathers. 

My father lifts the roosters up, and lets them 
down again. He does it five or six times, and then 
pulls out a few feathers. They don't come easily, 
so he lifts and lets down four or five times more. He 
tries the feathers again. He says to me : " All 
right, tell your ma they 're ready." 

My mother comes. They pull all the feathers off 
the roosters. They hold them on the edge of the 
pail, and throw the feathers in the water. The pin 
feathers are harder to get out than the others. 
There are some white hairs left, especially on the 
neck. 

My father says to me : " Run into the other 
room and bring me an old Patriot." 

He goes to the stove with a rooster. He crumples 
the Patriot, and lifts the griddle off, and puts the 
Patriot in. It blazes up. He holds the rooster 
right in the blaze. He keeps turning it, until the 
hair all burns off. It makes a smell. 

My mother takes the table cloth off, and puts up 
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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

the loaf. They lay the roosters on the table, and 
begin to clean them. 

My father cuts the gizzard open, and turns it in 
side out. A lot of kernels of wheat and corn come 
cut. There are little stones among them. 

I say: "What do they eat the stones for?" 

My father says : " That 's what they grind their 
corn and wheat with. See? a lot of stones and 
shells and everything." 

My mother takes the roosters and starts to put 
them away. My father says to me : " Run and 
look at the clock, and see what time it 's getting 
to be." 

I go into the front room and look. It is half past 
eight. 

My mother says : " Well, let 's get our things on 
and go on down." 

She begins to get ready. She says: "Won't it 
be nice to have them back home again, after all this 
time?" 

She laughs. She says to my father : " I declare, 
I believe it '11 make us both feel younger. Don't 
you?" 



332 



LVIII 

My Brother and Edie Hare Thanksgiving Dinner 
with Us 

THEY came last night. We were all waiting 
on the platform when the nine o'clock came in. 

At first we were afraid they had n't come. The 
conductor got off and came along toward the office 
to register, and the brakemen got down and stood 
by the car steps, but nobody got off. 

My father began to worry right away. We 
started to walk along and look up through the win 
dows. 

Just as Edie's mother was beginning to say: 
" Oh, dear me, they have n't come after all," the 
brakeman farthest down toward the end stepped 
back a little, and my brother jumped down onto the 
platform. He set two valises down, and then turned 
around and helped Edie. 

We all ran up. Edie's mother kissed her, and my 
mother kissed my brother and then Edie, and Edie 
kissed me. My father shook hands with my brother. 
Edie's mother and my brother did n't go up to each 
other at first. 

It took quite a while before they got through. 
Then my father said : " Well, sha'n't we go on 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

home?" He picked up the valises and started off. 

My brother ran up after my father and took hold 
of the valises, too. He said : " Oh, I '11 carry 
them! Here, le' go of 'em, can't you?" He said 
it as if he liked my father. 

When we got to our house, Edie and her mother 
stopped at the gate a minute before we went in. 
Edie said : " I '11 be up to-morrow, mother, but 
maybe not till after dinner." 

We all went into the house. My mother lit the 
lamps, and they took their things off and put them 
on chairs. While they were doing it my father 
stirred the fire and put in another chunk. Then 
we all sat down. They left the valises in the mid 
dle of the floor. 

My father said to Edie : " I felt kind o' sorry 
for your mother, goin' off that way without hardly 
seein' you." 

In a minute he says to my mother: "Don't you 
s'pose we might have her down to dinner to-mor 
row? " 

My mother said : " Oh, I don't know. I really 
think she would n't enjoy it as much as if Edie went 
up in the afternoon and staid awhile, the way she 
said." 

Edie looked at my brother. She said : " I 
should n't wonder if it 'd be better the way it is." 
Then she laughed. She said : " You know, I don't 
think he wants to see ma very bad." 

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They talked quite a while about Cousin Dora's be 
fore we went to bed. 

Now we are having Thanksgiving dinner. There 
is a great big stewpie. The dish is all heaped up 
with dumplings and chicken, and there is nice, thick, 
yellow gravy. It comes away up to the top of the 
dish. I know just how it is going to taste. 

My father gives us each some chicken and dump 
ling and mashed potato. We pull the dumplings 
apart. They are nice and light, and they steam. 
Then we pass our plates and have more gravy put on. 

My mother says : " I declare ! I don't believe 
there 's a heavy one in the whole mess ! " 

The dumplings and gravy smell fine. They taste 
better than they smell. I eat mine all up. 

My father looks at my plate. Then he looks at 
me. He says: "Ready for more, are j-ou?" I 
pass my plate. 

My brother looks at me and grins. He says : 
" I see you ain't forgot how to eat yet, hare you? " 

They all look at me. My face begins to feel red. 

My brother is different. His moustache is longer, 
and his clothes look bigger. He has n't so very 
much to say. 

My mother says to Edie : " That 's quite a 
pretty dress you 've got on. Blue just suits your 
eyes and hair and complexion. Did you make it 
yourself? " 

Edie says : " Oh my, no ! I could n't do as well 
335 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

as all that, yet." She says : " You know, I never 
made anything alone in my life till we got married. 
And even then I had help." 

Edie laughs. Then she laughs quite hard. She 
says: " You just ought to 'a' seen the first dresses 
I had! We bought some calico and cut 'em out to 
gether. That was the first thing we did. We got 
married almost the minute we got off the train, and 
went straight and bought the stuff for the dresses. 
'Cause I had n't a thing ! " 

She laughs again. She says : " Dora almost had 
a fit after we got to her house and she saw 'em ! " 

My mother says : " Let 's see, how long was it 
after you got married that you went to Dora's ? " 

Edie says : " Why, it must have been about five 
weeks or so. You see we had to stop right where 
we were and save up a little money before we 
could go." 

My brother keeps on eating. He begins to smile 
a little when Edie tells about the dresses. He says : 
" Oh, they were n't so very bad, considering. They 
did n't set very nice, that 's all." 

Edie laughs again. She says : " I tell you, what 
we did n't know about housekeeping and dressmak 
ing 'd fill a great big book. One day he went to the 
store that was in the first place we were he 
went to the store and told the clerk he wanted some 
thing to make a waist out of. The clerk asked him 
what kind o' goods he wanted, and he said : * Oh, 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

I don' know gingham, or basque, or something 
like that.' " 

My mother and father laugh a long time. My 
mother almost chokes. My brother gets red. He 
only smiles a little. I don't know what the joke is, 
but I laugh because the rest do. 

At last my brother snickers a little. He says : 
" Well, don't go and have a fit about it ! " 

My plate gets empty again. I want some more, 
but I don't like to ask. My mother is sure to say 
something. 

I wait quite a long while. I touch my mother on 
the arm, and say: " Can't I have a little more? " 

My mother says : " My goodness me ! Do you 
want to keep on eating till you can't see? " 

Edie says : " Oh, let him have a little more ! 
It 's Thanksgiving. It don't come but once a year." 

My father looks at me. He laughs. He says : 
" All right, pass your plate over here. I don't 
blame you for likin' it. It 's one o' the best stewpies 
your ma ever made." 



337 



LIX 




MY father says : " Well, ain't it gettin' on 
towards chore time?" He looks at the 
clock. He says : " Yes, it 's after five, sure 's 
you 're alive ! " 

He gets up and takes his old slouch hat off the 
secretary top. 

My mother says : " I don't suppose anybody '11 
want supper, after all we had to eat this noon." 

My father says : " No, 'most any little thing '11 
do to-night. Bread and milk '11 be all I want." 

My mother says: "All right! That'll be just 
the thing. We '11 have it after you come in with the 
milk." 

My brother gets up. He says : " Well, I guess 
I '11 get my overhauls on, then, and we '11 get the 
chores over with." 

My mother says : " Yes, you better. You know 
there may be folks come in to-night to see you." 

By the time the chores are done and they come in 
with the milking, Edie is back from her mother's. 
We all sit down at the table, and my mother brings 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

us bowls of milk. There is a plate of bread in the 
middle of the table, and some little pieces of white 
chicken meat, and some cheese. The milk is warm 
jet. We break up bread in it, and eat it with little 
bites of the cheese or chicken. 

My father says: " It just hits the spot, don't it? 
I don't see how I could have eat another regular 
meal." 

My father makes a good deal of noise when he 
eats his bread and milk. My mother says he eats 
too fast. 

She says to him : " You act for all the world as 
if you was in a hurry to get it out of the way." 

My father laughs. He says : " You see it 's so 
good I keep forgettin'." 

My mother takes a long time to eat. I always 
get through before her. She is always telling me it 
is n't good for people to eat fast. She says I take 
after my father. 

When she says that, my father laughs. He says : 
" Oh, he takes after you, too." He laughs again. 
He says : " Makes me think o' the man that said 
he took after both his folks. He said one of 'em 
eat fast, and the other of 'em eat long." 

We all laugh, but I wish my mother would n't say 
so much about how much I eat. 

After the bread and milk, we go and sit in the 
front room. By and by we hear somebody scuffing 
feet on the veranda. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

My father says to my brother : " S'pose you 
open the door. It 's your company, most likely." 

My brother goes and opens. Uncle Anthony and 
Aunt Phoebe are there. 

Aunt Phoebe has a shawl over her head. It is 
her blue and black check. They shake hands with 
my brother and Edic, and sit down in the chairs near 
the stair door. 

Aunt Phoebe says : " Seems real nice to have ye 
back." 

Uncle Anthony says: " Yes, it does that. I was 
sayin' to her yes'day, 'fore you come, says I : 'It '11 
be kind o' nice to have 'em 'round agin, after bein' 
gone so long.' ' 

He says : " I s'pose you cal'late to stay right 
along, now you 're here." 

My brother says he hopes so. Edie says : " My 
goodness, yes ! There 's no place like home. We 
got pretty lonesome part o' the time, I can tell 
you or at least I did. I was alone in the house so 
much. Sometimes I got so I could n't stand it any 
longer, so I 'd go out and help in the field just for 
company." 

Uncle Anthony says : " Well, we think you been 
real plucky, to do what you done, and we wish ye a 
long life and lots o' happiness, and so does all the 
neighbors. They all say you got mighty good stuff 
in ye." 

Aunt Phoebe says : " Yes, indeed ! You 've lots 
340 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

o' friends, and you '11 find 'cm real ready to help you 
when you need anything." 

Uncle Anthony sits with one hand on his knee, and 
his old clay pipe between his thumb and fingers. He 
is n't smoking, though. After a little while we be 
gin to smell the pipe, but it is really out. 

Uncle Anthony waves the pipe at my father. My 
father does n't like tobacco smoke. They joke 
about it sometimes. 

Uncle Anthony says : " Ain't nothin' in it, Hi. 
You don't need to be scairt. I finished my smoke 
jus' as I was comin' up the path." 

My father laughs. He says: "I shouldn't be 
s'prised if 't was just as well." He says: " O' 
course I would n't make a fuss about it with you, if 
you "teas to smoke. I always feel like puttin' up with 
such things when it 's folks I have an understandin' 
with." 

He stops a while. He says : " You know you 
and I have travelled 'long together for so many 
years we could n't fall out over anything." 

Uncle Anthony says : " O' course not ! But o' 
course I don't cal'late to smoke where 't ain't wel 
come." 

Aunt Phffibe says : " Well, it 's my opinion, 
Davi'son, an' it always has been, 't ye 'd be better off 
without." 

Uncle Anthony says : " Mebbe I would. Mebbe 
I would." 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

My father says : " After all, as long 's anyone 
smokes out o' doors or on his own premises, I don' 
know as it 's any o' my business though I declare 
I don't see how the women folks can stand it in the 
house as well as they do. What 7 don't like is when 
they smoke in my house." 

My mother laughs. She says : " You ought to 
have seen him the time he spit out at the Governor 
for smoking in our house." 

Uncle Anthony says: " Did he? You don't say ! 
/ never heard about it." 

Aunt Phoebe says : " I ain't neither. Tell us 
how it was." 

My mother says : " Have n't you ? Why, the 
Governor was running for office then, and he stopped 
here for dinner, and when he was through he leaned 
back in his chair and took out a cigar. He was just 
going to light it, and Hi snapped out at him : ' No, 
sir ! I '11 have you know my house is no bar 
room!'" 

Aunt Phoebe and Uncle Anthony laugh. 

Aunt Phoebe says : " Served him right ! " 

Uncle Anthony says : " I 'd like to seen the 
Gov'ner 'bout that time. What 'd he say? Was he 
mad?" 

My mother says : " I don't know, I 'm sure. I 
guess he did n't like it very much. But he did n't 
show it. You see, he wanted Hi's support, so he 
did n't say anything." 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

My father says : " I don't s'pose I really ought 
to said it. But I just happened to be feelin' that 



way." 



343 



LX 



Syd and Steve and the Girls Call on My Brother 
and Edie 

THERE is more scuffing on the veranda. Some 
one knocks. 

My brother opens the door wide. As soon as he 
sees who it is, he calls out : " Yo-o-ou don't sa-a-ay ! 
Come on in ! Come on in ! " 

Edie jumps up and runs to the door. Syd and 
Steve and Jennie and Frankie come in all at the same 
time. They begin to laugh and talk and shake hands. 

My mother says to me : " Bug, I guess you '11 
have to run out to the kitchen and bring some more 
chairs" 

She says to all of them: " I declare, if I 'd known 
so many of you were coming, I 'd have had a fire in 
the parlor stove." 

She stops a second or two. She says : " Maybe 
I 'd better make one anyway." 

Jennie says : " Oh my, no ! Don't think of it ! 
We are only going to stay a few minutes. We 
thought we 'd just step in and see how the new mar 
ried folks were getting along." 

Everybody looks at my brother and Edie. My 
brother laughs a little, and Edie blushes. 

344 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

My brother says : " Well, you see we 're alive 
yet. 'T ain't as bad as you thought it was, is 
it?" 

Steve says : " Oh, you need n't think we ever wor 
ried about you! We knew you was safe and sound 
somewheres" 




Syd says : " Yes, I sho-o-o-uld say so ! We 
did n't lose no sleep over you" 

Steve begins to laugh. He says to Edie: "No, 
you bet specially after your mother went and had 
the river dragged for you ! " He laughs hard, and 
makes a great noise through his nose, the way he 
always does. 

He says : " Le' 's see, what was it she had 'em 
drag it with? Wasn't it a grape vine, Syd?" 

345 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

They all laugh a long time. Steve keeps saying 
funny things about the grape vine. 

Frankie says : " Well, I don't care, you could n't 
blame her, poor woman ! How was she going to 
know you hadn't gone and drowned yourselves? 
I tell you, you gave us an awful surprise, skipping 
out that way and never saying a word to any of us ! " 

They don't say anything for a while. Uncle 
Anthony looks over at my father. He says : 
" H-hem-m-m ! " He winks at my father, but the 
other don't see him. He waits until we are all still. 

He says : " Well, I s'pose, now they 've been 
showed how easy it is and how fine it comes out, 
they '11 be a lot o' weddin's comin' off, first thing we 
know." 

My father winks back at Uncle Anthony. He 
says : " Yes, I 'spect there will ! " 

Syd and Steve and the girls don't say anything. 
Syd and Steve look at each other a minute, and then 
they look away. The girls sit and rock. They 
look as if my father and Uncle Anthony had n't 
said anything. 

Uncle Anthony says : " Beats all how quiet it 's 
got ! What 's the reason the young folks 's stopped 
talkin' so, all of a sudden? " 

My father says : " I wonder ! They ain't sayin' 
a word." 

Syd looks at Steve and begins to laugh. Steve 
laughs, and makes a great noise. 

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A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Jennie keeps on rocking. She smiles and says: 
"What you laughing at, I'd like to know?" 

Frankie says: "Yes, what's the joke? Tell us, 
so we can laugh too. What is it, anyway ? " 

Steve says : " Oh, nothin'." 

Syd says: "We was just thinkin' what fine 
weather it is to-night." 

Uncle Anthony says : " Yes, 't is fine, ain't it ? " 

Syd and Steve begin to laugh again. 

Jennie says : " Well, you can laugh all you want 
to, if you like it so well ! We don't care." 

Aunt Pho?be says : " Don't pay any 'tention to 
'em, girls ! Maybe 't ain't half so funny as what 
they think it is." 

Syd stops laughing. He sits up straight. He 
says : " Steve, tell 'em about the rabbit we tracked 
up to-day. How many miles do you suppose we 
followed that fellow, anyway ? " 

My father says: "Did you get him?" He is 
interested right away. 

Steve says : " Yes, we got him all right, but he 
was the only one. We really ought to gone out 
yesterday morning, though, when the snow was fresh. 
You see, by this morning they had it tracked up so 
bad that you could n't tell when they 'd been along. 
All we could manage was just the one." 

My father says : " Where was it you got him ? " 

Steve says: "Oh, we finally got him in the back 
lot. We had a great time following him up. We 

347 



A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 



scared him out of a patch o' hazel brush first, and 
he up and put out for the marsh. We managed to 
track him down to where the river turned him, and 
then the track went over the railroad and kept com 
ing back toward the back lot again. It kept on and 

on, till, by George! it went 
into a pile o' rails not 
more 'n twenty feet from 
where we started ! I got 
down on my hands and 
knees, and there he was, be 
tween the rails at the other 
end. 'Well, old feller,' I 
says to him, ' we ain't goin' 
to chase you another mile 
down there and back, so 
here goes ! ' " 

My father says : " How did you get him ? " He 
can't wait for Steve to tell it his own way. My 
mother begins to laugh at him. 

Syd says : " Oh, Steve did n't take any chances. 
He just let him have a charge o' shot, and that was 
the end of him." 

My father says: "Didn't it tear him all up? 
It must have been awful close range." 

Steve says : " No, he was sitt'n' so I could get a 
good sight at his head. He was n't so very bad." 

It takes quite a while to tell about the rabbit. 
The girls begin to look tired. 

348 




A COUNTRY CHRONICLE 

Steve notices. He gets up. He says : " I s'pose 
we really ought to be goin' hey, girls?" 

My brother and Edie say : " Oh, don't be in a 
hurry ! You 've only staid a little while." 

Jennie says : " Well, you see we 're on our way 
to choir practice. I guess we really must go." 

Frankie says : " Yes, we really must. But we '11 
be up to see you again sometime, after you 're 
settled." She says : " We won't know quite how to 
behave to you, for a while, now you 're married and 
going around just like all the grown folks." 

The girls and Syd and Steve go out. 

Aunt Phoebe gets up. She says : " Well, 
Davi'son, ain't it 'bout time we was gittin' 'long 
home too?" She throws the blue and black check 
shawl over her head. 

Uncle Anthony gets up. Aunt Phoebe says : 
" You know, you got to cut a few sticks o' wood for 
breakfast yet." 

Uncle Anthony begins to laugh. He says : 
" There she goes agin ! Always wantin' wood. 
'Y gosh all fishuks, I don't see what she does with it 
all ! " 

He starts and opens the door. He says : " Well, 
good evenin' to ye all ! " He puts his pipe in his 
mouth, and feels in his vest pocket for a match. 

He says : " Hi, I don't s'pose ye '11 mind, will ye, 
if I light my pipe on yer front steps?" 

My father laughs. 

349 






UC SOUTHERN REGIONAL LIBRARY ft 




A 001 248 020 



SOLT .^ANCH, 

UNIVE, FORNIA, 

LLB.RARY, 

ANGELES,