(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "A bundle of yarns"

LIBRARY 

University of California 

IRVINE 



* A 



* 



. .*, 







A Bundle 

of 

Yarns 



A Bundle of Yarns 



FRED W. SHIBLEY 



PROVIDENCE : 

H. GREGORY 

1899 



es 



COPYRIGHT 1899 

BY 
FRED W. SHIBI.EY 



Printed by 
ROBERT GRIKVE 
(Journal of Commerce Co.) 
Providence, R. I. 



Contents 

PAGE 

Me an' Ed an' Jane I 

Coin' to Market 10 

The Chivaree 17 

The Schoolmarm 28 

The Colt with the Tough Mouth . 43 

Scarin' the Duke 57 

The Remarkable Taste of Ebenezer 

Brown 71 

When Me an' Ed Got Religion . . 93 
The Persuasive Eloquence of John 

Wesley Cuff 106 

The Tale of a Strange Bed . . . 141 
The Cold Girl from Bald Mountain 157 

The Calgary Poet 168 

The Willipers at Newport . . .186 
The Willipers at the Pier . . . 206 
The Willipers' Thanksgiving . . 224 
The Wolf at the Door . . . .239 



Me an' Ed an' Jane 

When me an' Ed an' Jane was just 
little fellers (I was two years older than 
Ed, and Ed was two years older than 
Jane), we didn't have the fancy toys to 
amuse ourselves with that children have 
now-days. Why, I don't believe we ever 
received a present except at Christmas, and 
you must remember our father was a good 
Christian man and class leader to boot. 

We used to set our caps for Christmas, 
the whole pasel of us. Set 'em on the 
center table in the parlor and go to sleep 
expectin' to find marvellous things in 
them in the mornin'. We usually found 
a few bulls'-eyes and a dozen or so nuts and 
raisins. But we were happy just the same, 
and enjoyed ourselves about as well as the 
average. 

i 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

Jane was always with us, and a clip she 
was. I remember once, just after thresh- 
in' you know, we lived on a farm, three 
hundred acres it was, twenty miles from 
the nearest city, in a typical country neigh 
borhood. Well, as I was goin' to tell you 
about Jane : One time just after threshin', 
me an' Ed an' Jane crawled up on the 
roof of the barn and jumped down on the 
big straw stack in the barnyard. Any of 
you that ever saw a straw stack, knows it is 
built like a cone big at the bottom and 
little at the top. Well, we jumped down 
on the straw stack, and then it occurred to 
Ed that it might be an interestin' experi 
ence to slide down the stack. He tried 
it, and came out all right. Then I tried 
it and landed fair, and right after me came 
Jane with a whoop and her petticoats flyin'. 
It was fine, for you see, about five feet 
from the ground the stack was built up 
straight like a wall, and when we came to 
this point in the slide we shot out into the 
air like as if we was on a toboggan slide. 

2 



ME AN' ED AN' JANE 

We hadn't found anything for many a 
day quite equal to that stack as a fun pro 
ducer; so up we goes on the barn again, 
down we jumps on the stack, and away we 
goes on the slide to the ground. 

Now it happened that there was some 
cows feedin' in the barnyard, but we 
hadn't noticed 'em, and these cows kept 
edgin' 'round the stack toward our slide- 
way. Well, now you know, after we had 
been up and down half a dozen times or 
so, we got to yellin' like wild Injuns and 
seein' who could get 'round first. The last 
round, Ed struck fair and jumped aside ; 
I followed him and also jumped, for I 
expected Jane was right after me, but she 
wasn't. She was standin' on top of the 
stack, holdin' both hands above her head 
and shoutin' : " Watch me come, boys ! 
Watch me come ! " 

Now, just as she said those words, a 
fat mulley cow walked leisurely forward 
directly in front of us, and as Jane came 
down she struck kerflop right on top of 

3 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

that mulley cow. Yes, sir, fair on top as 
you ever see ; and with a wild blat, the 
cow started for the lane, Jane hangin' on 
and yellin' for all she was worth. Ed laid 
right down in the straw and shrieked with 
laughter, and I was grinnin' from ear to 
ear, when who do you think we saw, just 
as Jane and her mulley cow disappeared 
over the hill in the lane, but father, stand- 
in' in the drive-house door. 

" What are you boys laughin' at ? " he 
said, stern as a judge. 

Ed only laughed the louder, but I be 
gan to feel mighty serious. 

" Nothin' particular, sir," I said. 

Then he asked, sudden like : " Where's 
Jane?" 

" She's gone over the hill in the lane," 
I said. 

" What in the world has she gone over 
there for ? " he asked. 

Ed was now lookin' solemn, too. 

" Please, sir," he said, " will we go and 
fetch her back ? " 



ME AN' ED AN' JANE 

We didn't wait for his expression of 
permission, but streaked it up the lane 
as fast as our little legs could carry us. 
We found Jane pickin' a thistle out of her 
foot, near the sheep pond. 

" Say, boys ! " she cried, the moment 
she saw us, " you missed the best part of 
it!" 

"You ain't hurt?" I asked. 

" No," she said. " I jumped off when 
I'd gone as far as I wanted to. But, say, 
boys, did you watch me sail out of the barn 
yard?" 

I tell you, Jane was a great girl. An 
other time I remember, me an' Ed an' 
Jane raised a pet steer. It was really 
Jane's steer, for father was mighty fond 
of her, and he'd let her do what he'd whale 
us for doin'. This steer grew up to be 
very tame, and Sime Snider, who was our 
hired man, rigged up a harness for him, 
and we used to hitch the steer to a big 
red hand-sleigh, which had always been in 
the family, and make it haul in our fire 

5 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

wood from the wood pile to the kitchen 
door. That was our regular work each 
day, fillin' up the big wood box behind 
the kitchen stove, and what we had once 
hated like sin to do, became a pleasure 
when we had taught the steer to haul the 
sleigh. 

Well, one night after we had heaped 
up the wood box, we thought we would see 
what the steer could do as a trotter, so we 
piled on the sleigh, and I took the reins and 
away we went up the road. The steer 
trotted fine, and we was havin' a big time, 
when it occurred to Ed that this was too 
much fun to be enjoyed by just us three, 
so I hauled up at a neighbor's and Ed 
went in to get a boy and girl he had, and 
who was about our age. Pretty soon 
they came out, muffled up well, and their 
father with 'em. He looked our rig over 
with a grin on his face, and then he looked 
at the steer. His face grew solemn at 
once. 

"Why, boys," he said, gravely, "don't 
6 



ME AN' ED AN' JANE 

you know that you can be arrested and 
fined for drivin' on the highway without 
bells?" 

My jaw fell. I never thought of bells. 

" We ain't got any bells," I returned, 
"except our best double harness bells, 
and we couldn't use them. 

"Well, I think I can fix you out all 
right," he said, and went into his drive 
house, comin' out presently with an old 
string of bells that must have been made in 
the year one. They started with a bell as 
large as your fist in the middle of the 
string and tapered up both ways, and they 
was a whole brass band when they jingled. 
He tied these bells around the body of 
the steer, our invited guests snuggled 
down between Ed an' Jane, I chirped to 
the steer, and away we went up the road 
past the schoolhouse. I said we went, but 
if I'd said we flew, it would be nearer 
the truth, for the minute the steer heard 
that string of bells strike up in wild mel 
ody, it gave one blat and lit out for all it 

7 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

was worth. A scarter steer you never 
saw. I hung on to the lines with all my 
strength, but it was no use ; the steer was 
runnin' away! 

It was one thing to be run away with 
by a steer which found itself suddenly 
transformed into a musical machine, and 
another to live under the bombardment 
of snow balls shot back at us from the 
steer's flyin' hoofs. The others turned 
their faces and hung on, but I kept one 
eye open ahead. 

Well, now you know, we hadn't gone 
the width of a farm when what should I 
see comin' toward us but old Henry Sim- 
monds and his wife in a cutter ! There 
was only one track, and the snow was 
three feet deep on either side. In such a 
case, the way to pass is for one to turn 
out as far as possible and wait while the 
other crept slowly past. Our steer was 
not standin' on ceremony, and he needed 
the middle of the road. Old Mr. Sim- 
monds had turned out as far as he dared 
8 



ME AN' ED AN' JANE 

in the limited time at his disposal, but it 
wasn't far enough, and as we flew by we 
just took one runner off his cutter as 
pretty as anything you ever saw. We 
didn't stop to ask how badly the old lady 
was hurt, but we saw her flyin' into a 
snow bank. On up the road we went, 
until the poor steer run himself to his 
limit, and then he flopped down in the 
road with one hopeless blat. When he 
recovered his wind I unhitched the bells 
and we turned the sleigh around and came 
home, the steer trottin' as gentle as a 
lamb. 

It cost father $40 for repairs on Mr. 
Simmond's cutter, but he made the neigh 
bor who had given us the bells pay half, 
as he claimed it was his fault. No, I 
don't know what became of the bells. I 
never saw them again. 



Coin' to Market 

When I was only fourteen an' Ed 
twelve, father used to get us up at five of 
a cold winter's mornin', and start us off 
for the city with a load of potatoes for 
market. By gravy! it was cold. Me 
an' Ed would stand around and shiver 
and knock our heels together, while father 
and Sime Snider loaded the bags of pota 
toes into the big bob-sleigh ; and after 
a bowl of supawn and milk and a few 
hot pancakes, away we would start, with a 
dollar and twenty cents for expenses, 
fifty cents for baiting the horses in the 
city, fifty cents for our dinners, ten cents 
for toll, and ten cents for Joe Babcock, 
who kept a tavern half way in. 

It was our custom to stop at Joe's both 
goin' in or comin' out, to spell the horses 
10 



COIN' TO MARKET 

and warm our ringers and toes, for I tell 
you by the time we got to his place we 
would be two pretty cold boys. Father 
instructed us to hand Joe the ten cents, 
as he felt the tavern keeper should be paid 
a little somethin' for the use of his shed 
an' furnishin' a warm fire. 

Both me an' Ed felt kind of sheepish 
about handin' Joe the ten cents, for we 
felt it wasn't just customary, and as we 
considered that father was such a religious 
man, and consequently ignorant of the 
genial customs of men of the world, we 
decided to follow our own judgment and 
do the thing up proper by havin' a five- 
cent drink apiece over the bar like men, 
and thus show a generous patronage of 
the house. 

The mornin' I am goin' to tell you 
about we stopped at Joe's goin' in, but 
didn't have our drink, decidin' that we 
would probably enjoy it better in the 
afternoon. So we went into the city, sold 
our load of potatoes in the public market, 
1 1 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

had our dinner and fed the horses all 
right, and were just about to start for 
home when Ed thought of a stick of gum 
he'd promised to bring home to Jane. I 
didn't have an extra cent ; neither had he. 
So all we could do was to spend five of 
the ten cents we had saved with which to 
patronize Joe Babcock. Ed bought the 
gum and we borrowed no trouble, such 
being our natures at that time. 

It was a beautiful afternoon clear as a 
bell, and so cold that the snow cracked as 
the steel runners of the bob-sleigh passed 
over it. We boys didn't particularly mind 
the cold just then, as we'd had a good 
dinner and were not yet many miles out. 
The horses jogged along, me drivin' I 
always drove and Ed sittin' wrapped in 
the buffalo robe to his ears, dreamin' of 
something or other, when bump ! we 
struck on the bright iron rails of the Grand 
Trunk. We were upon the Teterville 
Crossing. 

It had always been our custom when 
12 



COIN' TO MARKET 

nearing this crossing to turn our heads 
either side and watch for approachin' 
trains, for this was a particularly danger 
ous spot, several people havin' been killed 
there. 

Well, when we struck the rails, Ed 
waked up with a start, and lookin' to the 
right, saw the Chicago express about a 
quarter of a mile off bearin' down upon us 
with a roar. Without a moment's con 
sideration for the distance, he sprang to 
his feet, and liftin' both hands, waved 
them wildly at the engine, shoutin' at the 
top of his voice 

" I say ! I say ! " 

I nearly fell from the seat laughin,' for 
you know, we weren't more than a couple 
of seconds on the track. Ed looked 
mighty sheepish, and Jane rolled on the 
floor when I described to her Ed's frantic 
attempt at stoppin' the Chicago express 
by I say ! I say ! " 

Well, we finally came within sight of 
Joe's, and me an' Ed had to take into 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

serious consideration the crisis that awaited 
us. Two drinks would cost ten cents, 
and we only had five. 

" I tell you what we'll do, Ed," I pro 
posed ; " I don't care particularly about 
the drink, do you ? " 

" No," he replied. 

" Well, one of us has got to take a 
drink, and only one, for we've just got 
five cents. So, supposin' you step up and 
take it?" 

" I don't want it, George," he said. 
" You take it." 

" Well, then," I went on, "if you feel 
sure you don't want the drink, I s'pose 
I'll have to take it; but you know, it'll 
look kind of mean for me to step up to 
the bar alone, so, s'posin' when I step up, 
you'll be sittin' by the stove, and I'll say, 
1 Ed, won't you have somethin' ? ' cordial 
like, you know, and you'll say, careless 
like, f No, thank you ; I guess not to-day.' 
That'll blind Joe's eyes, you see." 

"All right," Ed said. "That'll suit me." 

14 



COIN' TO MARKET 

So, when we came to Joe's, we put the 
horses under the shed, covered 'em warmly 
and went into the hotel to warm our own 
stiffened joints. After I'd got nice and 
comfortable, I gave Ed a wink and 
marched up to the bar, behind which Joe 
was standin'. 

" Pretty cold day, Joe," I said. " Guess 
I'll have a drink to warm up," and then 
turnin 'to Ed, who sat dutifully by the 
stove, his feet on the damper, I said : 
"Will you have a drink, Ed?" 
" Well, George, seem' as it's you, I 
don't care if I do," Ed drawled out, and 
saunterin' up to the bar, poured out a 
drink unconcerned as you please, without 
ever lookin' at me. 

Joe saw I was rattled, and said he : 
" George, what you goin' to have?" 
So, while I felt mean enough to sink 
through the floor, I told him I only had 
five cents, and was just workin' a bluff on 
Ed. Joe laughed till the tears rolled 
down his fat cheeks, and then declared 

15 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

that the drinks was on him, and wouldn't 
take a cent. 

"Your father'll limber up one of these 
days, boys," he said, " but a little change 
in the pocket won't look so big to you 
then." 



"The Chivaree" 

When any young couple in the neigh 
borhood got married, we always gave 'em 
a chivaree. No, I don't know where the 
word came from, but that's what we called 
it. It wasn't the custom then to make 
very lengthy weddin' trips ; from the old 
to the new home, at the head of a long 
procession of top buggies or cutters, as 
the season might be, was about the size of 
it, and the day after the weddin', Mary 
put on her calico and John his homespun, 
and the romance dwindled down into 
solid happiness. 

It was the first night at the new home, 
wherever it might be, that the chivaree 
took place, and we boys used to make it 
warm, I tell you. 

Well, the night I'm goin' to tell you 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

about, a feller by the name of Lem Silver 
had married a girl from the next concession 
named Polly Hegadorn, and had brought 
her home to live with his old folks. Old 
Cyrene Silver, Lem's father, was a crusty, 
tight-fisted customer, and none of the 
boys wasted much love on him. So we 
had planned, the moment we heard of the 
approachin' weddin', to wake Uncle Cy 
rene up a bit and make him shell out five 
dollars, the customary tip. 

Father somehow heard of the threat 
ened chivaree, and on the evenin' in 
question, after supper, while me an' Ed 
was sittin' innocent as two lambs by the 
cook stove, he said to us : 

" Boys, I hear there's goin' to be a 
chivaree up to Cyrene Silver's to-night. 
Now, I want you to distinctly understand 
that you're not goin'," and he added as a 
clincher " if I ever hear of you attendin' 
one of them disgraceful affairs, I'll tan 
your jackets for you." 

Then he sat down to read the Christian 



THE CHIVAREE 

Guardian, while me an' Ed exchanged sly 
winks, and Jane made eyes at us from 
across the cook stove. 

At eight o'clock we went to bed, solemn 
as mice, and it wasn't long before we 
heard father windin' up the clock, puttin' 
out the dog and lockin' up for the night. 

We waited half an hour longer, and 
then slid out of bed, all dressed, opened 
the window, crawled out, and scooted up 
the road to Will Tinker's, where we had 
previously agreed to meet and black up. 
Oh, yes, we always blacked up. It 
wouldn't have been a chivaree done in 
proper style if we hadn't. 

When the crowd was ready we started, 
with tin horns, cow bells, horse pistols, 
old army muskets, wash boilers, and every 
blame thing you can think of as a likely 
ear-splitter. 

At the four corners we met a gang of 
fellers from the next concession friends 
of the bride rigged out in fantastic gar 
ments, and haulin' a small cannon which 

19 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

they had borrowed from an Orange lodge 
for the occasion. They fell in with us 
readily enough, and together we swooped 
down on the home of the happy couple. 

Will Tinker, who always led us in these 
chivarees, was chosen to make the speech 
after the first salute, for he was a natural- 
born speaker and had a loud voice. So 
we grouped around him in the front yard, 
and, at command, began a symphony of 
tin pans, tin horns, conch shells, and cow 
bells, with the occasional poppin' of a 
horse pistol as a variation. It didn't raise 
a bird ! The blinds were closely drawn, 
and we could only see traces of a dim 
light in the sittin' room. 

Will looked wistfully at the cannon, 
but resisted the temptation, and ordered 
another onslaught, with the muskets this 
time for the climax. You know those 
old, long, army muskets ? six feet tall an' 
capable of holdin' a handful of powder? 
Lord ! how they did roar when they came 
in ! One of the firers was kicked clean 
20 



THE CHIVAREE 

through the front gate out into the road. 

But they did the business, for we heard 
the front door open and saw Uncle Cyrene 
standin' bare-headed on the stoop. With 
a wave of the hand, Will Tinker com 
manded silence, and began his usual 
speech, flowery as a hot-house and every 
word a jaw-breaker. But the old man 
wouldn't listen. 

" Shet up, you fool ! " he yelled, "and 
listen to me. I won't stand any of this 
dum tomfoolery on my premises do ye 
hear ? And ef the whole pasel of you ain't 
out o' my yard in one minute, I'll hev ye 
all up for assault and battery." 

" Pay toll or stand treat ! " Will hol 
lered back, defiantly. 

" Not a cent, or a mug o' cider," Uncle 
Cyrene replied, and returnin' to the house, 
slammed the door in our faces. 

Then we started to sing a song Ed had 
made up about Lem and Polly, which 
we'd all learned by heart. A mighty 
good song it was, and I wish I could re- 

21 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

member a verse or so, but I never could 
recall the words of a song. 

This didn't soothe the troubled waters, 
and so the leader of the boys from the 
next concession determined to bring the 
cannon into play. It was hauled under 
the window of the sittin' room and loaded 
to the muzzle ; then all stood back while 
it was fired. 

I'll never forget till my dyin' day the 
noise that cannon made. It just tore 
things to pieces and broke every pane of 
glass in the sittin' room window. We 
were all about scart to death, but it 
scart old Cyrene worse'n any of us, for 
he came totterin' out from the front door 
pale as a sheet, with a five-dollar bill in 
his hand. He couldn't open his mouth, 
he was that scart, but we caught a 
glimpse of Lem and Polly peekin' through 
the open door, grinnin' from ear to ear; 
so this cheered us up, and Will delivered 
his speech, while the old man stood and 
took it gentle as a kitten. 

22 



THE CHIVAREE 

We took the five dollars and gave half 
to the boys from the next concession, 
hauled the cannon out into the road, fired 
a partin' salute, and started for home. 

Everything so far had gone well, but it 
wasn't to end so, for just as we got to 
the four corners, Pete Hawley, one of our 
fellers, picked a quarrel, as he was always 
doin', with a boy twice his size from the 
other crowd, and nothin' would do but 
they must fight it out. We smaller boys 
crawled up on a lumber pile beside a 
cooper shop, to see the fun. Now you 
must keep this lumber pile in mind, for it 
had a lot to do with subsequent events. 
You've all seen the kind of lumber pile it 
was, I guess a three-sided, holler affair, 
you know the boards overlappin' at each 
corner, the lumber bein' piled this way to 
season. It was probably twelve feet high. 
Anyway, we climbed up to the top board, 
so as to see the fight, and with us came a 
long-geared boy from the next concession 
crowd, one of them growed-in-a-night 

23 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

kind of boys. I see him now, sittin' there 
in the moonlight, his lank knees up to his 
chin, for his heels was stuck in between 
the second and third board. Pete Hawley 
won the fight he always did and down 
we came from our roost and scampered for 
home. 

Me an' Ed was about fagged out, I 
tell you, when we crawled through the 
window into our room, and undressin', 
fell into bed. I never knew a thing after 
I struck the piller till I heard father's 
sharp voice from the kitchen, 

" Get up, there, you boys, and tend to 
your chores." 

I 'rose by instinct, hauled on my 
trousers, and went out into the kitchen, 
rubbin' my eyes. 

"Didn't I tell you not to go to that 
chivaree?" was the first words of greetin', 
an' father was standin' over me with a 
half-raised stick of stove wood. 

" We ain't been to no chivaree," I 
mumbled in reply. 

24 



THE CHIVAREE 

" How dare you lie to me? " he cried. 

" I aint lyin', I said, stoutly. 

" Oh, I'll warm you boys for this ! " he 
went on ; first, for disobeyin' me an' then 
lyin' about it." 

" But, sir," I managed to say, " how 
could we have gone to the chivaree when 
we haven't been out of our beds all 
night." 

"Haven't been out of your beds all 
night !" father cried. "To think that a 
son of mine should be such a liar ! " 

I couldn't imagine what made him so 
positive, for I knew that if he'd missed 
us durin' the night he would have either 
gone after us, or been waitin' our return, 
for with all his apparent harshness, us two 
boys was the apple of his eye, and he 
couldn't have slept a wink. 

" Come out of there, you ! " he shouted 
at Ed, and I turned an' saw poor Ed come 
stumblin' from the room, still half asleep, 
an' diggin* his knuckles into his eyes. 
The mystery was explained. Ed's face 

25 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

was as black as a nigger's, save where the 
piller had rubbed some of the stuff off. 
We had forgot to wash ! 

I tell you, we got a trouncin' for that 
affair, and Jane stood in the wood-house 
door an' bawled in sympathy while we 
was gettin' it. But pshaw ! we didn't 
mind a little thing like that, and was all 
over it in an hour. 

About the lumber pile ? Say ! I nearly 
forgot that, an' it's really the best part of 
the story. 

That was the funniest thing ! I can't 
help laffin' when I think of it. You re 
member the tall, gawky boy I told you 
of, who climbed up an' sat beside us dur- 
in' the fight ? Well, now you know, that 
boy was lost to sight from that night. His 
parents went wild, but the other boys 
couldn't remember where they'd seen him 
last. He was one of them still, quiet 
boys, you know, the kind of feller that 
just glides along an' never says nothin'. 
They searched the woods high an' low, 
26 



THE CHIVAREE 

and even advertised in the papers, but no 
boy turned up. I never saw the neigh 
borhood so excited. 

Me an' Ed could both tell a straight 
story. We remembered him well climbin' 
up the lumber pile, an' we left him there 
when we went home. It was a mystery, 
and after awhile even his parents gave up 
lookin'. 

Now, where do ye think they found 
him ? You'd never guess. In the middle 
of that lumber pile, dead as a door-nail ! 
He'd fell over backward an' broke his 
neck. Did you ever hear the like ! 
Course, me an' Ed felt sorry for him at 
first, but we didn't know him well, and 
whenever we'd think of that long, lanky boy 
sittin' there with his knees in the air, an' 
all of a sudden tumblin' over backwards 
into that lumber pile, we couldn't help 
laffin'. It was funny, I'm darned if it 
wasn't. But it ended our chivarees for 
many a long day. 



27 



The Schoolmarm 

Did I ever tell you about the way we 
fooled Tish Brown's father's only brother 
Ebenezer on his own honey? Well, I'll 
tell you that story after a bit, but I'm goin' 
to tell you now about Mary Jane Brown, 
this same Ebenezer's daughter, who once 
taught school in our neighborhood. 

Ebenezer Brown was a mighty religious 
man, bein' a steward in the church, the 
same as father, an* when Mary Jane got 
her certificate an' went for a schoolmarm, 
it worried her father terrible for fear she'd 
forget the strict rules of conduct he'd laid 
down to her at home. 

It so happened that she was chosen to 

teach in the little red schoolhouse in our 

neighborhood, and as this was only a few 

miles from her home, you'd hardly think 

28 



THE SCHOOLMARM 

that Ebenezer would have thought that 
his darlin' daughter had gone far away 
from him into the wide, sinful world, but 
he did. 

Father was head trustee, an' it was the 
custom for the teacher to start her round 
of boardin' with us. So, the day after 
New Year's, Ebenezer fetched Mary Jane 
an' her trunk to our place, and handed 
her over gingerly to mother. Then he 
found father in the drive-house an' said 
to him, very solemn : 

" Stephen, I've brought Mary Jane to 
stop with you a spell, an' it's mighty glad 
I'd be of placin' her in your care an' that 
of your excellent wife but for one thing." 

" What's that ? " father asked, sharply, 
as was his way. 

" Well, you see," Ebenezer went on, 
" Mary Jane's my one ewe lamb, an' I've 
bin terrible particklar about her bringin' 
up, an' if I do say it of my own child, she 
jest simply don't know that there's sich a 
thing as sin in the world." 
29 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

"You don't mean me to infer, Eben- 
ezer," father said, most taken off his feet, 
" that my house ain't a fit place for your 
daughter? " 

"Nothin' of the sort, nothin' of the 
sort," returned Ebenezer, winkin' his 
little eyes as if he'd caught a cinder. He 
was the worse man to wink his eyes you 
ever see. " I know you, Stephen, to the 
backbone," he went on, "an' I've allus 
said if there was one woman more worthy 
than another to take the blessed sacrament 
it was your wife ; but it's the boys, George 
an' Ed, that I'm afraid of." 

"What of them ? " father asked, for he 
was techy on the subject of me an' Ed, 
and for all he would dress us down himself 
for every little thing, he didn't relish 
listenin' to other folks doin' it. 

" George an' Ed are bright boys, I 
own," Ebenezer answered, cautious like; 
"but the truth is, Stephen, that since 
they've growed up to what might be called 
young men, they've been considerably 

30 



THE SCHOOLMARM 

talked about, I understand, not only in 
this neighborhood, but as far away as 
our section. You do let 'em go about 
considerable, you can't deny that, Stephen; 
an' I've even heard that they've a rig 
apiece an' drive out to wait on girls of a 
Sunday, jest as if they was courtin'. Why, 
only last Sunday George was down to see 
my brother's girl, Letitia." 

" I don't see anything very wicked in 
that," father said, dryly. 

" But that ain't it," continued Eben- 
ezer, evidently with a load on his mind. 
" Folks say they go to dances an' public 
parties; and, while far be it from me to say 
what other folk's children should be 
'lowed to do, I want it distinctly under 
stood that my Mary Jane shall never 
dance a step while I live. So I ask you, 
Stephen, as brother Christian to brother, 
to keep an eye on the boys an' see that 
they don't put any wild notions in Mary 
Jane's head." 

They had some more talk, but that was 

3 1 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

the substance of it, and father lectured me 
an' Ed for an hour in the barn, where we 
all sat huskin' corn, on the strength of it. 

Now, it kind of riled me an' Ed to be 
raked over the coals by old Ebenezer 
Brown, who had the reputation of tradin' 
horses not strictly on points, and we 
made up our minds to give Mary Jane a 
good lettin' alone, although she was a 
kind of cute little thing, an' we both 
liked her. 

We was now long about twenty and 
eighteen, me an' Ed, and we liked a good 
time as well as the next one. Ed had 
learned to play the riddle, and as I could 
"call off" fine, we was in great demand 
at all the dances for as much as five miles 
around home. 

There was lots of dances that winter, 
and we went to most of 'em. It's true, 
we only had one cutter between us, but 
we used to take turns usin' it, and the 
unfortunate one had to drive his girl in a 
light market sleigh we had. 



THE SCHOOLMARM 

Mary Jane saw us goin' and comin' 
from these parties, and as her cousin Tish 
used to tell her everything, she knew we 
was goin' to dances, an' that I took Tish 
every time we could fix up a yarn that 
would deceive the latter's father. 

Mary Jane got restless after a bit, see- 
in' so much fun goin' on under her nose 
an' her not in it. So she up and says to 
me one day, when I'd picked her up at the 
schoolhouse on my way from the village, 
and was drivin' her home : 

" George," she says, " I hear there's 
goin' to be a party down to Jones's Mills 
next Friday evenin'.' ' 

" I've heard so, too," I says, wonderin' 
what she was drivin' at. 

" What kind of a party is it goin' to 
be ? " she says. 

"Church of England," I says. "A 
kind of house-warmin' at the Stevens's 
for the English Church. They set a box 
near the door, an' you can drop in what 
you like." 

33 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

" Oh, is that all," says Mary Jane, 
mournful like. " Tish told me it was 
goin' to be a dance." 

" Tish is a great talker," I says. 

Now, it struck me that Mary Jane 
seemed quite cast down when I didn't 
give her any encouragement in the matter 
of the party. She sat silent for a bit, an' 
then she put up her face, bashful like (she 
was a mighty pretty girl when she looked 
like that), and said : 

" It's awful stupid of me stayin' home 
every night, and Tish and you an' Ed 
and the rest of the young folks havin' 
such good times. I just said so to Tish, 
and she said to me, f Mary Jane, you're a 
little fool for bein' so timid. Why don't 
you ask George to take you ? ' There, 
now ! " 

" Not to a dance ! " says I, horrified. 

" But this ain't goin' to be a dance ; 
just a party," she pleaded. 

" Well," says I, " It's just like this, 
Mary Jane : Your father would have a 

34 



THE SCHOOLMARM 

fit if he heard of you goin' anywhere with 
me or Ed. We're bad, wicked boys, to 
him," I says. 

" Pshaw ! " she says, smilin' up at me. 
" Father's an old fossil, that's what he is, 
and haven't I known you an' Ed for 
years, and don't Tish go with you every 
where ? " 

It occurred to me right there an' then 
that Mary Jane had been very much 
underestimated by me an' Ed, and I de 
cided that if she wanted to go to the 
Church of England party, I'd take her 
an' let old Ebenezer go to the deuce. So 
says I : 

" Mary Jane, if you want to go next 
Friday evenin', get ready for it an' I'll 
take you, though I half promised to take 
Tish, and it's Ed's turn for the cutter." 

" Tish won't mind ; she said she 
wouldn't," Mary Jane says in return, and 
I saw that Tish had been puttin' notions 
into her good little cousin's head. 

I tried to buy Ed off on the cutter, but 

35 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

it wouldn't go, for he had a new girl in 
mind for the party, and wanted to go 
in style. Ed was mighty selfish about the 
cutter when it was his turn. But to make 
matters worse, what does father an* 
mother decide to do but go visitin' on 
Friday, sayin' they won't be home till 
long in the evenin', and they knew me an' 
Ed intended goin' to the party ! 

Ed laughed an' Mary Jane cried when 
they heard of this last stroke ; but I wasn't 
to be beat, 'specially when Mary Jane felt 
so bad about it, and had worked all the 
week on her dress. 

So when father an' mother drove off", I 
cleaned out the big bob-sleigh the box 
was eighteen inches high and ten feet long, 
filled it half full of clean rye straw, 
fixed the seat comfortable, and decided to 
hitch in the span an' drive Mary Jane to the 
party. I knew I could sneak the bobs into 
the Church shed where none of the other 
fellers would be likely to spot me, for 
we was mighty sensitive on the point 

36 



THE SCHOOLMARM 

of our turnouts in them days, I tell you. 

We got to the party all right, and I 
see that Mary Jane was enjoyin' every 
minute of it. They had all kinds of 
games good old games they was that 
took the bashfulness out of a feller; and 
the schoolmarm went into it, blushin' but 
happy. 

Long about 'leven o'clock the older 
folks began to leave for home, and I saw 
Ed goin' into the big dinin' room with his 
fiddle under his arm. I knew the trouble 
was about to begin, for you know all these 
Church of England parties was sure to end 
up in a dance. 

I found Mary Jane talkin' with Will 
Tinker an' eatin' a big apple, and I called 
her to one side. 

" Mary Jane," I says, very polite like, 
"it's goin' on midnight, and some of the 
folks are beginnin' to leave. Don't you 
think you'd better be makin' a move to 
wards puttin' on your things ? " 

" Dear me, George ! " she cried, " you 

37 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

don't say it's so late! I'd have guessed 
ten at the latest." 

At that moment I heard Ed draw the 
bow across his fiddle, tunin' up, and it 
fairly made my heart ache. 

" Must we really be goin' ? " says Mary 
Jane, plaintive like, not pretendin' to have 
heard the fiddle. 

"To tell the truth," says I, solemn as 
a judge, " I'm surprised at this party. 
They're turnin' it into a dance, I'm 
afraid ! " 

Mary Jane looked horrified. " We 
must go home ! " she said 

I don't know whether it showed in my 
face or not, but I did hate like a dog to 
leave when the fun was just commencin', 
and I knew that Will Tinker would be 
only too glad to get a chance of callin' off. 
Mary Jane evidently saw my distress, for 
says she : 

" George, you don't want to go." 

" To be honest," says I, " Mary Jane, 
I don't." 

38 



THE SCHOOLMARM 

"Couldn't I just stand an' look on?" 
she says. 

My spirits rose. "Yes," says I, "you 
can if you only will, but your father'll skin 
you if he ever hears of it." 

" Pshaw ! " says she with that darin' 
twinkle of the eye. " I guess I'm safe 
with you, George." 

The dance began. I called off the 
square an' the round dances, and danced 
all the waltzes an' polkas. Mary Jane 
sat in a chair near the dinin' room door, 
and every time I passed her she smiled 
up at me just as happy as a kitten. 

Durin' an intermission, while Ed was 
eatin' cake with his new girl (and a daisy 
she was I'd never seen her before), I 
went over an' set down by Mary Jane. 

" Ain't it lovely to know how to dance," 
says she, all aglow. "Oh, if I only knew 
how ! " 

" It's nothin' to learn," says I. 

" Do you think I could learn ? " says 
she, earnest like. 

39 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

" Can a duck swim ? " says I, laughin'. 

" Really," says she, " do you think I 
could if I tried?" 

Just then the fiddle started up a waltz. 
I grabbed Mary Jane. 

"Come!" says I. "Now's your chance," 
and we was soon flyin' round to the music. 
She was a born dancer. In two whirls 
she caught the step an' was right with me. 
Did she like it? Well, I never saw a 
happier girl, and I danced every remainin' 
dance with her, lettin' Will Tinker get all 
the glory he wanted callin' off. 

We started for home at two in the 
mornin'. The weather had changed in 
the night, and a sharp wind was blowin', 
bringin' with it a fine sleet that stung the 
face like needle pricks. We stood it for 
a mile or so, but I see it was punishin' 
Mary Jane terrible, so I set the seat back 
three feet or so, and told her to sit 
down in the nice dry straw an' lean against 
the seat. Then I tied the reins 'round 
the dashboard, knowin' the horses would 
40 



THE SCHOOLMARM 

go home all right, and sittin' down by 
the schoolmarm, pulled the buffalo robe 
over our heads, and there we was, com 
fortable as could be, holdin' hands like the 
two babes in the woods. 

Then a peculiar thing happened. I 
heard the bell of a far-away Church ringin'; 
then a voice callin' to me from a high hill 
just the murmur of a voice then a slow 
poundin' a dull, thumpin' sound ; then 
the voice from the hill comin' nearer an' 
nearer, growin' louder an' louder, till I 
felt my blood rushin' into my head and 
my ears fairly deafened with the noise. 
The voice was now directly over me. I 
opened my eyes. The buffalo robe was 
held aloft and I heard father say, 
" Well, if this don't beat all !" 
I looked about me. The bob-sleigh 
with the horses still hitched to it was in 
the drive-house at home, and father was 
standin' by the side with one corner of the 
buffalo robe in his hand. It was broad day 
light. I looked for Mary Jane. There 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

she sat in the straw, her head against the 
cushion of the seat, sound asleep, but still 
hangin' tight to my left hand. 

" Now, sir," says father with a grin, 
"what does this mean ? " 

It was enough to make even him smile. 
Me an' Mary Jane had gone to sleep the 
minute almost we sat down in the straw, 
for neither of us could remember a thing, 
and the horses brought us home, goin' 
into the drive-house, the doors of which 
had luckily been left open. Father comin' 
out in the mornin' found the bob-sleigh 
there, and liftin' the robe discovered the 
two of us. 

Say ! Mary Jane wouldn't look at me 
out of the corner of her eye for the next 
fortnight. 



The Colt with the Tough 
Mouth 

If there's one thing in life which I've 
enjoyed more than any other, it's been 
the drivin' of fiery horses. I've never yet 
met the horse which proved itself my 
master, and to-day, old as I am, I'd try a 
fall with the ugliest horse you could pro 
duce. I've been run away with time an' 
time again, but the most damage I ever 
see done in a runaway was caused by a 
three-year-old colt, behind which me an' 
Tish Brown went to meetin' at Milton 
one Sunday evenin' in winter, years an' 
years ago, when I was still a young feller 
on the old farm. 

I traded for this colt (he was a big black, 
with three white feet an' a star between 
his eyes) with a Gipsy who came along our 

43 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

way. I was always tradin' horses, and as I 
never got the worse of the bargain, father 
became used to it after awhile, and never 
went into the stable positive that he'd find 
there the same lot of horses he'd last seen. 

I gave the Gipsy a bay mare and five 
bags of oats for the black colt, and I 
thought I'd made my fortune, for a hand 
somer colt you never rubbed your hands 
over. He went well, single or double, 
and would walk ahead of a plough like 
the grand marshal of a 'lection parade. 
He only had two faults, he'd run away 
at the drop of the hat, and his mouth was 
that hard that ten men couldn't hold him 
in when he stretched out his neck and 
decided to take charge of the subsequent 
proceedin's. 

But I liked that horse for the very 
pride of him an' the devil in his eyes. I soon 
discovered that he was just as gentle as a 
lamb as long as his neck kept well curved 
an' he felt the reins was in strong hands ; 
but if he ever got a chance to straighten 

44 



COLT WITH TOUGH MOUTH 

out his neck he wouldn't do a thing but 
look about for something to happen which 
would give him a fair excuse to go up in 
the air. An ordinary double wire bit was 
of no earthly use on that colt, so I got for 
him a curb bit with a camel's hump in the 
middle, that, properly applied, would make 
him set down in the road and ask for 
mercy. 

Father swore the colt would be the 
death of me, and he positively forbid Ed 
to draw a rein on him, and Ed wasn't any 
too anxious, 'specially as just then he was 
courtin' a girl from the next concession 
the same girl I told you he took to the 
Church of England sociable, and the 
courtin' was in such an advanced con 
dition that he could only spare one hand 
for drivin', and old Darby was good 
enough for him. 

But there was one person besides me 
who wasn't afraid to ride behind the black 
colt, and that was Tish Brown. Tish was 
'fraid of nothin', and she fell in love with 

45 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

the colt at first sight. I let her drive him 
once before I got the curb bit, and do you 
know, she couldn't bend her elbows for 
nigh a week, but she held him in, all the 
same. 

The curb bit, however, done the busi 
ness, and there wasn't a peaceabler horse 
from that time on in the neighborhood. 
When I'd hitch him up and trip the curb 
into his mouth, he'd look at me humble 
like, just as much as to say, " Now, 
George, for the love of Heaven, do have 
a care how hard you yank on the lines." 

That winter they was holdin' protracted 
meetin's down to Milton, and it was con 
sidered quite the proper thing to drive 
your best girl there at least Sunday night. 
Me an' Tish wasn't any too partic'lar 
about goin', but the old folks insisted on 
our representin' the family, and the old 
man's word was law, 'specially when I was 
feedin' my horse on his oats a couple of 
nights each week. 

Me an' Ed both havin' a girl, it natur- 
46 



COLT WITH TOUGH MOUTH 

ally left Jane out in the cold, for father 
considered she was too young to have a 
beau, much to her sorrow, as there was 
two or three of the neighbors' boys peekin' 
through the pickets at her ; for Jane, if I 
do say it, was by long odds the prettiest 
girl in the neighborhood, her cheeks gom' 
pink an' white at a word ; and her eyes 
well, her husband ain't got over lovin' her 
to this day. 

Jane consequently was eternally naggin' 
at me an' Ed to take her out with us once 
an' a while, but we couldn't quite see it 
her way just then. She'd never seen Ed's 
girl, but she knew Tish an' hated her from 
the first, though there was absolutely no 
sense in her doin' so. But hate her she 
did, and she was eternally wishin' the 
black colt would spill her out some time 
to her undoin'. Jane was a little Tartar, 
I tell you, an' mighty nigh she come to 
havin' her wish, as I'm goin' to tell you. 

Well, this Sunday I hitched up the 
black colt to the cutter an' drove over to 

47 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

Tish's for supper. After the meal we 
drove down to Milton as usual an' put 
the colt in the shed. 

The whole neighborhood was out that 
night, for a preacher from the city was to 
lead the meetin,' and it was looked upon 
as a grand round-up of fractious sinners, 
and of course everybody was anxious to 
see who the city preacher would corral. 

I don't remember much about the meet- 
in'. Me an' Tish was in our favorite seat 
just behind the choir, and we usually found 
enough to interest us in the gossipin' back 
and forth of the young people about us, 
without botherin' about the sermon, for we 
was in about everything in them days. 

When meetin' was out we chatted at 
the Church door awhile, and then I drove 
round the horse, got Tish in an' started for 
home. I noticed something was wrong the 
minute we shot out the gate, for the black 
colt give his old defiant snort an' began 
lookin' about for something to scare him. 

"Hi ! there, my boy ! " I cried to him, 

48 



COLT WITH TOUGH MOUTH 

and he settled down into a good smart 
trot. I never pulled him very hard now, 
for I knew the power of that curb bit. 

When we turned Granger's Corners we 
had a straight way before us for about two 
miles, and it was my custom to let the 
black colt show his oats on this stretch. 
However, the snow was deep on both 
sides of the road, there bein' only one 
track; and while we'd dallied at the 
Church door the old folks had got started, 
and the road was well dotted with rigs 
ahead of us, so I judged it best to go 
cautious. 

Right in front of us old Zenas Furrs 
was humpin' along through the pitch-holes 
in an aggravatin' way, so I turned out to 
pass him. Our cutter ripped through the 
snow as we went by, and just as we got 
into the track again a partridge rose out 
of the snow and whizzed into the woods. 
That was enough for the black colt. He 
gave one wild snort an' straightened out 
for a run. 

49 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

" Hang on to him, George ! " Tish 
cried. 

" You bet your life ! " I replied between 
my teeth, takin' in the slack of the reins 
an' leanin' forward for a steady pull. 

I pulled, but the curb bit had lost its 
terrors for the black colt. It just shot 
out into the air like an express engine, and 
before I knew it rip ! rip ! crash ! We 
had passed a cutter an' cut off its rail as 
slick as if we'd been a circular saw, and 
was poundin' madly ahead through the 
pitch-holes. 

Tish let out one wild laugh, and, as her 
hat went back from her head, hangin' to 
her neck by the strings, she grabbed hold 
of the lines with me, and we put our com 
bined weight on the bit. But it had no 
effect whatever. 

Lord ! how we did get over the snow ! 
Talk about your runnin' horses ! That 
black colt did record work that night, 
and every few hundred yards or so we 
cut into the side of somebody's cutter 

50 



COLT WITH TOUGH MOUTH 

and tossed its occupants into the snow. 
The blame colt would turn out to go by 
just so we'd slice somethin' from every 
rig we passed. 

Me an' Tish was now yellin' like wild 
Injuns to warn the people ahead, and they 
turned out into the snow banks the best 
they could to let us past. 

But it worried me terrible because that 
bit had no effect. I gritted my teeth an' 
gave the colt the reins, hopin' he'd take 
his jaws from the bit, for I suspected he'd 
in some impossible manner got it between 
his teeth. Then I began to saw an' yank, 
but the colt went ahead. We went round 
the last corner into the home stretch fairly 
in the air, for if the cutter had been 
touchin', it couldn't possibly have helped 
slattin' us over the road fence. 

I turned an' looked at Tish. Her eyes 
was out on her cheeks an' she was coiled 
up ready for a header into the snow with 
out notice. 

" Look out for the gate post, George, 

5 1 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

when we turn in home! " she cried, and I 
did, but that colt was runnin' away in a 
mighty sane-headed way, for he curved 
out for the gate an' made as pretty a turn 
as ever you see. 

I seen a face at the parlor window as 
we flew by. It was Jane's. The colt 
hauled up with a jerk, that nearly sent us 
over the dashboard, directly before the 
drive-house door an' stood there, pantin', 
of course, but entirely rational. 

"Is that you, George?" came Jane's 
voice from the kitchen door. 

" I s'pose so," I says, " but I aint half 
sure." 

" You'd ought to be careful an' not turn 
into the gate so fast ! " Jane cried. 

" Oh, don't worry about me," I called 
back. " I know how to drive," and I 
nudged Tish. 

I now crept carefully from the cutter 
an' felt along the rail for damages, for I'd 
about as soon have broken my neck as 
damaged that cutter, it bein' a new one 

52 



COLT WITH TOUGH MOUTH 

that father had traded for, the precedin' 
winter. It was dark in the shadow of 
the drive-house, and I couldn't very well 
see, but I satisfied myself that while 
there might be scratches, there was no 
broken pieces, and I whispered the news 
to Tish. 

Then I went to the black colt's head, 
speakin' softly to him, for I wasn't sure 
that he wouldn't take a notion to go for a 
flyin' trip up through the orchard. 

He rubbed his nose against me an' 
seemed to be in no way worried by the 
memory of past events. I felt for the 
curb bit. It was in his mouth all right, 
and he chawed on it contentedly. 

"Well, I'll be darned!" I said. 

" What's the matter, George ? " Tish 
whispered hoarsely. 

" The bit's in his mouth all right," 
says I. 

" Then what have we been pullin' on ? " 
says Tish. 

I felt for the lines an' found 'em 

53 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

buckled to the head-stall ! We'd been 
pullin' on the black colt's head an' not on 
his mouth, for some darn cuss had un 
buckled the lines from the bit an' fastened 
'em to the head-stall. 

" It's a put-up job ! " I whispered to 
Tish, "and we've ripped up every other 
cutter in the neighborhood ! " 

I fastened the lines to the bit again, got 
back into the cutter an' turned round, the 
black colt movin' like a lamb, now that 
he felt the curb. 

"Where are you goin' now?" called 
Jane, who was still standin' in the kitchen 
door. 

" Just takin' Tish home," I called back. 
" I come away without my horse-blanket, 
and so I run in here after it." 

When I'd dropped Tish at her front 
gate I didn't wait for an hour's sparkin' 
by the sittin'-room stove as usual, but 
made tracks for home, anxious to hear 
what Ed an' father knew about the wrecks 
along the way from meetin'. 

54 



COLT WITH TOUGH MOUTH 

There was excitement enough, I assure 
you, and would you believe it, father an' 
mother, in the market sleigh, was one of 
the rigs we passed. All they had lost, 
however, was a piece of the rail. 

" Where was you when all this was 
happenin' ? " father says to me. 

" Oh, we must have been ahead of you 
all," I replied, matter-of-fact. " I jogged 
along here so's to get my horse-blanket, 
but I didn't need it after all." 

" Who do you think it was ? " says 
Jane, quite eager. 

" I couldn't just swear to who it was," 
says father. "The feller had either a 
black or a white horse, I ain't sure which ; 
I think it was a white. But it wasn't any 
of our neighbor boys, for both him an' 
the hussy with him was drunk as fools an' 
yellin' like fiends. I never see a more 
disgraceful affair, all of a Sunday evenin', 
too." 

That runaway was the talk of the whole 
section that winter. Over ten cutters was 

55 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

more or less wrecked, and the voice of 
wailm' was loud in the land. 

I was never suspected for a moment, 
though Jane did watch me pretty close 
for awhile, but even she lost suspicion in 
time, for who ever heard of turnin' round 
a runaway horse and drivin' him off as 
gentle as a lamb ? 

The commonly-accepted version of the 
affair was that some drunken feller an' his 
girl was the occupants of the runaway rig, 
and as Tish knew how to keep a secret, the 
truth never leaked out. But Jane's hus 
band years afterwards confessed to tyin' the 
black colt's reins in to the head-stall, Jane 
havin' put him up to it in hopes that me 
an' Tish would get a good tossin' into the 
snow! 

I tell you, none of us stopped to think 
of consequences in them days. 



Scarin' the Duke 

Long 'bout the time of the Fenian Raid 
the children round our way became so 
timid on account of the terrible stories 
told about that awful monster, the Wild 
Irishman, that they was afraid to go to bed 
without a candle, and the excitement so 
worked on their nerves that at the least 
sudden surprise they'd spring up an' hol 
ler as if by instinct. Even big boys like 
me an' Ed was at that time would tread 
very gingerly when passin' along the road 
by the big woods, for the most alarmin' 
rumors was afloat, and we didn't know 
what minute the Wild Irishman would 
spring out upon us, for he was a mighty 
real phantom to us, I tell you. 

Why, not fifteen miles from our home 
the soldiers found about fifty rifles in a 

57 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

load of hay which an Irish farmer was 
pretendin' to take to market, and in con 
sequence we come to believe that every 
Irishman in the country was in league 
with the bloody cut-throats from across 
the Line, who was threatenin' invasion of 
our quiet country. 

But to get back to my story : Me an' 
Ed was both credulous youngsters, and 
old Abe Amey used to tell us such har- 
rowin' tales, that we was on the raw edge 
of a panic half the time. 

I remember we was goin back after the 
cows one evenin', and it required all our 
nerve to go over the crossway in the 
dusk, I swanny ! The crossway was a 
road through a swamp from the front 
pasture to the burnt lands. It was origi 
nally a log road, but the logs had sunk 
into the mud, and father had it filled in 
with gravel, the stones bein' very hard an' 
sharp. 

When goin' over this crossway, me an' 
Ed (we always went barefoot them days) 

58 



SCARIN' THE DUKE 

would pick our way over the log ends to 
avoid the stones, and we was always happy 
when we discovered the cows in the front 
pasture, for the swamp was a place of ter 
ror to be passed an' the burnt lands was 
even worse. 

If you never was a boy an' never went 
after the cows of a cloudy evenin', and 
never see witches an' ghosts an' murderers 
pokin' their ugly heads round the corners, 
or through the middle of black, twisted, 
pine stumps, you don't know the rudi 
ments of the sensation called bein' scart 
to death ! Me an' Ed would start out 
bold enough, for Jane would generally go 
with us to the little hill above the orchard, 
at the end of the lane, and then, after 
makin' us promise not to move for five 
minutes, turn back an' streak it for home 
as fast as her legs could carry her. Nothin' 
on earth could have tempted her to go 
further than the end of the lane, and she 
thought me an' Ed was heroes of a won 
derful sort. 

59 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

After the last flicker of Jane's white 
feet as she turned into the gate near the 
drive-house, us boys would start back with 
faces bold as brass, but with hearts fairly 
turnin' sick with fear. We knew we had 
to go back after them cows, and while we 
fully believed that one night or another 
the Wild Irishman would certainly get us 
an' eat us alive, just as Abe Amey told 
us, yet we daren't own up to father an' 
ourselves that we was cowards. So we 
fairly pushed ourselves back toward the 
swamp an' its horrors. 

Now an' then an owl would send out a 
shrill hoot, and me an' Ed would shiver 
all over an' then look sheepishly at each 
other, quick like, to see if the other had 
noticed the jump. I always thought that 
Ed was a perfect hero, and I knew myself 
to be a sneakin' coward, and I guess Ed 
had similar ideas in regard to him an' me, 
only in his case I was the hero an' he the 
coward. 

Anyway, we got along to the crossway 
60 



SCARIN' THE DUKE 

all right, and passed over it with no 
more'n half a dozen frights. The cows 
was in the far corner of the burnt lands, 
as we knew from the bells. So we had 
to pass the whole array of monster stumps ! 

We thought it no shame now to hold 
hands an' go on tiptoe, lookin' straight 
ahead an' sideways at the same time. 

There was one twisted stump which 
had scart us many a time. In the twilight 
it always looked as if a man's head an' right 
shoulder was pushed cautiously out from 
one side. The man had thick hair, a full 
beard and ferocious eyes. Many's the 
time we'd stood spellbound lookin' at this 
bug-a-boo, and even after lookin' the 
stump over by daylight, it was impossible 
for us to pass it boldly. This evenin' we 
hauled up before it with a jerk. 

" It's a sure enough man this time ! " 
Ed whispered, and I could feel him 
tremblin' all over. 

I confess I was actually too scart to open 
my mouth. The head an' shoulders was 
61 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

there the same as usual, but the eyes was 
brighter, and do you believe it, I could 
plainly see the man's right hand clutchin' 
an axe! I could hardly believe my eyes, 
but there could be no mistake. There 
was the handle plain as day, and the glit- 
terin' axe poised ready to strike. 

I looked at Ed an' he at me. Our 
faces was thin an' pale. We just stood 
there an' quaked for about two minutes, 
and then with a yell turned an' lit out for 
home. You never see such runnin' in all 
your life. We went over logs three feet 
high as if they was nothin'. We bounded 
as if on springs. We literally flew. Just 
before we come to the crossway, Ed 
turned his head an' looked over his 
shoulder. He let out a yell that would 
scare the dead, and shrieked : 
" George, look what's comin' ! " 
I looked, and at the same moment 
jumped fully ten feet forward. Not fifty 
feet behind come boundin' along asnakey- 
lookin' thing with a big black head, that 
62 



SCARIN' THE DUKE 

every other moment leaped into the air. 

We didn't pick our way over the cross- 
way. Right through the middle of it 
we went, and our bare feet never felt the 
sharp stones, for we couldn't turn our 
heads now without seein' that reptile be 
hind us. But it didn't seem to gain, and 
when we struck the new pasture, I dared 
to say to Ed : 

We're gainin' on it, don't you think ? " 

We certainly was gainin' on it, for its 
head grew smaller an' smaller, and when 
we got to the lane we found it had en 
tirely disappeared. Then we slowed down 
to get our breath, and when we'd come to 
a stop, Ed felt somethin' draggin' from 
his pocket, and found it was a piece of 
yarn. 

Have you guessed what it was ? Yes, 
that's right. The boundin' snake was 
just Ed's yarn ball that had worked from 
his pocket an' unravelled as he ran, the 
ball bouncin' along for all the world like 
a snake. 

63 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

We didn't feel half so sheepish over this 
as you might think, for we was not out 
of our troubles yet. The yarn ball had 
looked like a snake, and we'd been fooled, 
but, by gravy ! the man with the axe was 
no joke ! We could swear to the axe. 
Nothin' on earth but an axe could that 
be what we'd seen. We was just as cer 
tain that the Wild Irishman was behind 
the stump as that we was two scart boys ; 
and we knew, too, that the cows was in 
the burnt fields an' that it was milkin' 
time. What was we to do ! 

" Ed," says I, "we've got to get them 
cows." 

" I just can't go back there again," says 
Ed. " I ain't goin' to be killed by the 
Wild Irishman if I never see the cows ! " 
he says. 

" But father'll whale us if we go home 
without 'em," I says. 

Ed hesitated. The one thing he was 
mortally sure of was that whalin'. The 
Irishman might or might not kill him, 

64 



SCARIN' THE DUKE 

but he knew positive that bein' scared 
wouldn't weigh a feather with father, and 
that a lickin' was sure. 

" We'll have to go back," he said, and 
shivered. 

Then I began to hedge. " S'pose we 
say we couldn't find 'em ? " I says. 

" It's no use," says Ed. " He'll know 
better." 

We turned an' retraced our steps. 

Now, I've never been much of a hero 
in my own eyes. I never felt I could do 
my family justice if called out for a sol 
dier ; but do you know, I've always felt 
proud of myself an' Ed for goin' back that 
night. 

It was fairly dark when we got to the 
crossway, and our jaws was tight shut. 
We didn't tremble now ; we was feelin' 
numb. I didn't know whether I was 
walkin' on stones or moss. Night-hawks 
was whirlin' an' shriekin' overhead, and 
the swamp seemed alive with owls ; but 
on we went, holdin' hands an' grittin' our 

65 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

teeth. Presently we heard the cow bells. 
We stopped to listen. Yes, sure enough, 
the cows was comin' towards us. We stood 
like two statues, drawn up rigid, our ears 
open. Soon old Limeback, the leader, 
swung into view, and trailin' after her was 
the rest of the herd. Seein' us, Limeback 
stopped, curved her neck an' looked at us, 
and then with a toss of her head as much 
as to say, " Why, it's them boys," moved 
on. 

Father met us at the head of the lane. 

" What kept you so long ? " he asked, 
sharply. 

I squeezed Ed's hand an' Ed squeezed 
back. 

" The cows was hard to find, sir," I 
said. 

Two-thirds of all the lies I've told in 
my life I told to father. 

But this ain't what I set out to tell you 
at all. I wanted to tell you not how me 
an' Ed was scared, but how we scart the 
Duke. 

66 



SCARIN' THE DUKE 

The Duke was a neighbor boy whose 
right name was Wellington Benn. Jane 
nicknamed him the Duke because he was 
so utterly unlike his famous namesake. 
The Duke was a real bona fide coward, 
one of the snivelling cryin' kind, and a 
boy only half as big could bluff" him off 
the playground. He wouldn't fight, but 
he'd talk back as long as he dared, and a 
mighty mean tongue he had. We all 
hated him, but Jane worst of all, and do 
you know, he was real fond of Jane. 

Well, one winter night in them Fenian 
times I've been tellin' you about, me an' 
Ed went down to get scart by old Abe 
Amey. Why we went I don't know, 
'cept it was fascination, for Abe was a 
natural-born story teller, an' he knew all 
the news about the Fenians where an' 
when they would land, and he had every 
man, woman an' child in Canada burnt 
at the stake before our eyes. 

Why, one night he was yarnin' this 
way to a lot of us, and his stories was so 

67 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

blood curdlin' that he got excited himself, 
and takin' down a long musket he had 
hangin' on the wall, he said, his eyes 
flashin' : 

" Jest let a Fenian step his foot through 
my gate an' I'll spile his pictur' fer him, 
by Jerooshy ! " 

Just then, as luck would have it, we 
heard a stealthy step goin' round the cor 
ner of the house. Abe leaped to the door, 
hauled off an' let fire, kerbang ! We heard 
somethin' give a grunt, and drop. It was 
Abe's pet Jersey cow ! He set right down 
an' cried over it, but he didn't let up on 
his stories on account of it. 

Well, this night Abe filled me an' Ed 
up with all we wanted, and we started to 
walk home. It was a bright winter's night 
an' we wasn't much afraid, for there was 
no woods near. 

Ed wore a big buffalo overcoat that 

father had. It was twice too big for him, 

but he liked to wear it, kinder to show 

off, I guess. The collar went up over 

68 



SCARIN' THE DUKE 

his head an* the sleeves came over his 
hands. 

As we trudged along we heard some 
one comin' down the road. You can hear 
approachin' footsteps a long ways on the 
frozen snow. This might be the Wild 
Irishman, or more likely only a neighbor, 
but we was takin' no chances them days, 
and we crawled over the fence and hid 
behind it to let the stranger pass. Nearer 
an' nearer the figure come, an' we soon see 
it was no Fenian, but only the Duke. 

Quick as a flash it occurred to me that 
here was a fine opportunity to scare the 
Duke half to death, and I whispered my 
plan to Ed. 

He saw it at once, and just as the Duke 
got opposite us I made a growl as deep 
as I could an' Ed went over the fence on 
all fours just like a bear. And say ! do 
you know, he looked so darn savage in 
that big buffalo coat, springin' up from 
the snow, that I never blamed the Duke 
for bein' scart. 

69 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

Was the Duke scart? Scart ain't no 
name for it. He let out one yell an' 
went down in the road in a heap as Ed 
sprang at him. He was kickin' in a fit 
when I reached him, and I'm blamed if 
the feller recovered consciousness for two 
days. 

We lugged him as far as our place an' 
then father drove him home. 

" I never see anything like it," says Ed 
to Jane as earnest as a judge, " I never 
see anything like it. Me an' George was 
comin' along whistlin' as natural as could 
be, when we hears a yell in front of us an' 
the Duke goes into a fit. I wonder what 
could have ailed him ! " 

"P'raps he saw his shadder ! " says Jane, 
dryly. " The Duke ain't no hero." 

" May be," says Ed, " but I never see 
the like of it." 



The Remarkable Taste of 
Ebenezer Brown 

A man makes a mistake when he con 
vinces himself that he's so expert in certain 
things that he can't make a mistake. I 
used to think, for instance, that the man 
didn't live that could beat me tradin' 
horses. I honestly believed that I knowed 
every ailin* that a horse was subject to, 
and that in a two-mile drive I could tell 
what a horse was good for as well as if I'd 
raised that horse from a colt. But it cost 
me a hundred-dollar colt an' twenty dollars 
to boot to discover that a wind-broken, 
worthless horse'll travel for ten miles at a 
round trot, with his head in the air, on a pint 
of shot judiciously administered. Why, I've 
seen but that's neither here nor there. 

Ebenezer Brown's pride was his sense 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

of taste. Ebenezer was not a bettin' man, 
he bein' a steward in the Church ; but if 
he'd been a bettin' man, he'd have wagered 
his farm any time that he could tell the 
various ingredients in a spoonful of honey 
just by puttin' it to his lips. He'd been 
born an' brought up with bees, and he 
knew their habits like a book. 

But it was his boast that you could 
blindfold him an' place him where you 
would, and he could tell just how much 
clover, wild blossoms, flowers an' buck 
wheat was in any sample of honey that 
might be presented to him. He despised 
buckwheat honey ; wouldn't have an acre 
of buckwheat on his farm, and considered 
it an unfriendly act if any of his neigh 
bors sowed buckwheat within travellin' 
distance of his bees. 

Spring blossom an' clover honey was 
the only kind he wanted, and he was 
mighty particular to harvest his honey 
each year before buckwheat was in bloom, 
so that if by chance his bees showed such 
72 



TASTE OF EBENEZER BROWN 

bad taste as to gather any of the brown 
buckwheat nectar, they could eat it them 
selves durin' the winter an' not force it on 
him. 

He certainly had a remarkable taste, 
but as I said before, we all come to the 
time when we're brought face to face with 
the fact that we're not above mistakes, and 
me an' Ed was the means of takin' Eben- 
ezer down a peg in his own estimation, 
though I've always wished we hadn't done 
it, for the old man never seemed as light- 
hearted afterwards. 

It was this way : When Ebenezer's 
daughter Mary Jane finished her year of 
school teachin' in our section, her father 
'lowed that the amount of her salary was 
not sufficient to overbalance his worryin' 
about her bein' led into temptation, so he 
took her back home. 

Ed hadn't said much to Mary Jane 
when she was under his nose, but as soon 
as she'd retired to private life an' Eben- 
ezer loomed up as a dragon, keepin' her 

73 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

in confinement, Ed took a notion that 
Mary Jane was a very desirable girl to be 
sociable with, and he forthwith began to 
pay her all the attention circumstances 
permitted of. 

This suited Mary Jane down to the 
ground, for she thought Ed was about 
right, and his fiddle playin' completely 
charmed her. But the dragon, Ebenezer, 
was a stickler. He forbid Mary Jane 
havin' beaux. He wanted no young men 
foolin' 'round his daughter, no, siree ; 
and he wouldn't have it. 

Ed didn't mind this in the least, for he 
liked excitement, and he stood in solid 
with mother Brown. She thought the 
sun rose an' set in Ed, for when he laid 
himself out you could fairly see the wings 
tryin' to break through his coat. So when 
Ebenezer wasn't home, Ed was there, and 
many's the time he's sparked with Mary 
Jane in the parlor when Ebenezer was 
sleepin' the sleep of the just, and Mrs. 
Brown beside him on guard. 

74 



TASTE OF EBENEZER BROWN 

Tish Brown, who was Mary Jane's 
cousin, as I've told you, aided an' abetted 
all this. Me an' Tish was thick as we 
could be without bein' actually engaged. 
Tish was a likely girl, I tell you. I've 
never seen her equal, and she might have 
been my wife to-day but for the meanest 
trick I ever heard of bein' played on a 
couple. It's really worth tellin'. 

One night in summer me an' Tish was 
drivin' home from meetin' in a new piano- 
box buggy I'd just bought, and it bein' a 
quiet, balmy kind of evenin' we let the 
horse go his own gait, and got to passin* 
back an' forth some pretty sweet remarks. 
I told Tish how much I thought of her, 
and she wasn't at all backward in ownin' 
up that she thought I was about as near 
the specification as a feller needed to be. 
I said to Tish frankly that I believed she 
was the prettiest girl in the two conces 
sions, and she owned that since I'd got a 
mustache there wasn't a feller anywhere's 
around as could hold a candle to me. I 

75 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

allowed that, not exceptin' Jane, who Tish 
knew was a truly remarkable cook, she 
was the star artist in gettin' up a tasty 
meal, and Tish allowed that her father 
had said that I knew more about scientific 
farmin' than any other young man in the 
county. 

We run on this way, gettin' pretty 
spooney, as you may guess, but we reached 
her home before I'd nerved myself up to 
the poppin' point. 

Along the middle of the followin' week 
I met a feller by the name of Reub Tomp- 
kins down at Milton. Me an' Reub was 
old friends and had always known each 
other. Somehow or other he turned the 
conversation on to Tish Brown. 

" I was up to Tish's last evenin'," he 
says. 

" How was they all ? " I says. 

"Good first-rate," he says," and then 
he laughs. 

"What are you grinnin' at?" says I. 

" Oh, nothin'," he says, and then he 

76 



TASTE OF EBENEZER BROWN 

says, slappin' me on the back : " George," 
he says, " I don't know but what you're 
pretty near all right. Since you growed 
your mustache, George," he says, " there 
ain't a feller anywhere's around as can 
hold a candle to you ! " 

" What's this you're givin' me ? " I 
says, feelin' pretty foolish. 

" George," he says with a grin, " I've 
heard father say you knowed more about 
scientific farmin' than any other young 
man in the county ! " 

The blood rushed to my face in a flame, 
and with a pretty strong word I turned on 
my heel an' walked away. 

"To think," says I to myself, my 
blood boilin', " that Tish 'ud go to work 
an' tell every word I said to her to Reub 
Tompkins ! " 

I don't believe I was ever madder in 
my life. All the love I ever had for the 
girl turned to hate in me, and I could have 
stamped her under my feet for makin' me 
the laughin' stock of the two concessions. 

77 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

I'd never heard of a girl playin' a feller as 
dirty a trick as that. What a girl an' her 
beau say to one another is sacred; always 
was an' always will be ; but here was Tish, 
my brave old Tish my handsome Tish 
who I'd knowed from a baby an' who 
always seemed to like me goin* an' givin' 
me dead away to Reub Tompkins, a feller 
she barely knew ! 

" That settles Tish Brown for me ! " 
says I, and I never went near her for a 
month. Then I met her at a strawberry 
festival. I thought she'd be after me for 
an explanation, and then I could tell her 
what I thought of her ; but no, sir ! She 
passed me by with her head in the air like 
a queen, and I never spoke to her again 
for nigh on twenty years. 

I'd lost most of my hair an' was a 
mighty different-lookin' feller than I once 
was when I run across her, but she knew 
me. I own I had no idea who the pale- 
lookin' woman was who grabbed me by 
the arm an' said : 

78 



TASTE OF EBENEZER BROWN 

" George, don't you know me ? " 

I looked hard, and then it come on me 
who it was. 

"Tish ! " I cried, and my heart was in 
my throat. 

" Yes, it's me ! " she said. " Old an' 
homely an' broken down as you see me, 
but the same old Tish at heart." 

We went into the City Hotel parlor 
an' sat down to talk it over. The first 
words she said was, 

" George, it was all a mistake ! " 

I knew what she meant. 

" I might have knowed it," I said. 
" But," said I, "how the mischief, Tish, 
did Reub Tompkins know every word 
that you said to me that night we drove 
home from Milton, if you didn't tell 
him?" 

" I'll tell you, George," Tish replied, 
with a sad, little smile, " if you'll tell me 
how Reub Tompkins knew every word 
that you said to me on the same occasion, 
if you did'nt tell him." 

79 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

"Great Scott! Tish!" I cried, "you 
don't mean to tell me after all these years 
that Reub told you the same's he did 
me?" 

"I do!" said she, "and I know how 
he come to do it! " 

"Tell me ! " I asked. 

Tish brushed a tear from her cheek an' 
replied with the same feeble little smile 
I see she was forcin' on herself, and 
answered : 

" We was so taken up with one another 
that evenin'," she said, "that we didn't 
notice Reub when we passed him on the 
road, and we didn't feel the jar when he 
jumped an' seated himself lightly in the 
buggy box behind us ; and so he sat there 
an' heard every word we said to each 
other. He thought it a good joke to let 
on to each of us that he knew what we 
said, though he never told another livin' 
soul. He never thought it would make 
the trouble between us that it did, and 
when he found out how angry we both 
80 



TASTE OF EBENEZER BROWN 

was he felt ashamed to own up, so he let 
it drift on. But he told me about it for 
the first time last year when I run across 
him here in the city." 

I didn't speak for a minute or so. Then 
I said, slowly : 

"It was a bad business for me an' you, 
Tish." 

"It might have been worse, George," 
she said, " for we both fell on our feet in 
the marriage line, I guess." 

" I've got a good wife, Tish," I said. 
" But we can't entirely forget the old 
days." 

" We must, George," she said, risin' to 
her feet. " I just wanted you to know 
that I wasn't the mean girl you thought 
me all these years. So good-bye." 

That's the romance of me an' Tish. 
Ain't it a caution what little things turn 
the courses of our lives ! 

But to get back to my story when me 
an' Tish was young an' foolish, and 
thinkin' nothin' at all of the future : Tish 
81 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

planned to have her cousin Mary Jane 
over to her place a good deal, and it made 
it very nice for me an' Ed to meet the 
girls there. I haven't mentioned that 
Tish had two sisters older than herself, 
have I ? Well, she had, Martha an' 
Minerva was their names and they both 
had beaux. So you see, when we got to 
gether at Tish's of a Sunday evenin' we 
made quite a party. 

The girls had a certain rule about enter- 
tainin' their beaux. It was like this : 
Martha bein' the oldest, had the parlor, 
Minerva the sittin' room an' Tish the 
kitchen. This, of course, when all the 
fellers was on hand. 

When Mary Jane was visitin' an' Ed 
came, there was no place for them, so 
they had to manoeuvre the best they knew 
how, and Ed was no slouch at this, as 
you'll presently see. 

Well, one nice Sunday afternoon me 
an' Ed, both with a rig of our own, drove 
up to Tish's an' found Martha's feller, 
82 



TASTE OF EBENEZER BROWN 

Joe Perry, and Tom Clark, Minerva's 
beau, already on the ground. But to 
Ed's sorrow there was no Mary Jane, 
although she'd promised to be on hand. 
Neither Tish or her sisters knew why 
Mary Jane hadn't come over, so it was 
decided that everybody would hitch up 
an' we'd all swoop down on Ebenezer as 
a surprise. 

This we did, and contrary to expecta 
tion the dragon was in a very amiable 
mood, and insisted on us all stayin' for 
supper. He see we was all double but 
Ed, and he turned to him with a sly 
wink. 

" It seems to me, Ed," he says, "as if 
the other boys was gettin' ahead of you. 
You don't seem to have a girl." 

"That's the way it looks, Mr. Brown," 
says Ed with a sober face. " The girls 
don't cotton to me much, so I just come 
along with George to keep him straight." 

The old man chuckled. " Cheer up," 
he says. " You may get one some day." 

83 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

" I hope so," says Ed, and he give Tom 
Clark a wink that nearly sent that chap 
into the haymow with convulsions. 

" You don't know a girl about these 
parts, Mr. Brown," Ed says, "who might 
be had for the askin' ? " 

Ebenezer scratched his head. " I can't 
think of one just now," he says. " But 
I'll keep my eyes open for you," he says. 

"Do," says Ed, "and I'll be much 
obliged. In the meantime I'll just amuse 
myself watchin' these fellers," he says, 
" and seein' how they get on." 

The old man was now in excellent 
temper, and nothin' would do but we 
must go out an' see his bees. This we 
did, walkin' in Injun file behind him to 
the row of hives. As he passed each hive 
he'd stop an' look at it attentively. 

" Pretty near ripe," he'd say, " pretty 
near ripe. Will be ready to pick soon 
now." 

But when he come to the second hive 
from the end he went gingerly behind it 
84 



TASTE OF EBENEZER BROWN 

an' looked through the glass in the little 
box, or cap, which set on top of the hive. 

" Fine ! " he says. " Fine ! Ready to 
pick to-morrow," he says. " Every drop 
clover pure clover every drop. Not a 
speck of buckwheat in that cap." 

Bees didn't interest me particularly, so 
I was glad when we turned towards the 
house. The girls had taken off their 
things an' was waitin' for us, Mary Jane 
buzzin' about among 'em an' pretendin' 
not to notice Ed or the rest of us. 

Ebenezer stuck right to us. I never 
see him so sociable, and wouldn't have 
believed he could be so jolly. It seemed 
to tickle him that Ed had drove up with 
out a girl, and he says to Mary Jane : 

"You must be nice to Ed, Mary Jane," 
he says, " for you see he ain't got any 
girl." 

Mary Jane hung down her head an' 
her father laughed. 

" Bashful," says he. " Bashful as all 
git out. Why, Mary Jane," he says, " Ed 

85 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

won't bite you will you, Ed ? " says he. 

" I don't know 'bout that ! " says Ed, 
and he looked the meanin' of his words. 

But Ebenezer kept on : 

" Ed wants me to find him a girl," he 
says, "and I've promised to do it. You 
don't know of any one, do you?" 

" There's Sarah Ann Stevens," says 
Mary Jane with a lightnin' twinkle of her 
eye at Ed. 

The old man roared. 

" Just the one ! " he cried ; "just the 
one ! I'll look after it for you," he says 
to Ed. " Me an' Mary Jane'll fix you 
out all right." 

An' so it run on, makin' lots of fun for 
us all, for we knew that if Ebenezer 
thought for a minute Ed had a notion of 
puttin' up to Mary Jane he'd have ordered 
him from the house. 

We set around awhile after supper an' 

then, two by two, we started to leave. I 

missed Ed while I was hitchin' up, but 

s'posed he was havin' a private word with 

86 



TASTE OF EBENEZER BROWN 

Mary Jane in her father's absence. I found 
him standin' near my buggy when I come 
from the house with Tish. Then we drove 
away. Ed followed in a few minutes, an' 
when we got to Tish's he was right be 
hind us. 

"It seems to me, George, as if you 
must have driven over Uncle Ebenezer's 
beehives," he called, as we went through 
the gate. 

"That's as true as I live ! " Tish cried. 
" I've smelled honey all the way home ! " 

Martha an' Joe an' Minerva an' Tom 
both swore they smelt honey, too, so 
nothin' would do but we must get a lan 
tern and examine my buggy. 

Settin' there in the back, what did we 
find but a fine cap of honey ! 

Of course everybody was surprised, but 
no one could account for the honey till 
Ed owned up that while we was hitchin' 
up he'd lifted Ebenezer's pet cap of clover 
honey that was already to pick to-morrow ! 

The girls saw there was nothin' to do 

8? 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

but make the best of the joke, so they 
sneaked the honey into the house an' hid 
it for a couple of weeks. After that time 
they felt it safe to bring it forth from 
hidin', and it was represented as bein' a 
present from my father to Mrs. Brown in 
return for her kindness to me an' Ed. 

You can imagine how wild Ebenezer 
was when he missed his honey, but he 
never suspected us for a moment, layin' 
the theft to some wretch or wretches un 
known. Mary Jane told us afterwards 
that he really mourned for that cap of 
honey as for one dead an' refused to be 
comforted. 

But it seemed we couldn't use that 
honey up. It hung on an' on until I'd 
'bout forgotten it, until well in the fall, 
when it burst in on us in the followin' 
way : 

It was Sunday, as usual. Everything 

happened on a Sunday in them days. 

Ebenezer an' Mrs. Brown, with Mary 

Jane, had been invited to take dinner with 

88 



TASTE OF EBENEZER BROWN 

Tish's parents, it bein* Tish's father's 
birthday. Me an' Ed an' Joe Perry an' 
Tom Clark was on hand as usual, and the 
big dinin'-room table had a crowd about 
it when we all sat down. 

After the blessin's, the talk went along 
finely, and Ebenezer was particularly 
happy in his remarks an' continued to 
quiz Ed about his lack of a girl, though 
if he'd had half an eye he could have seen 
that 'Mary Jane an' Ed was dartin' love 
at each other across the table. 

Presently Tish's mother jumps up all 
of a sudden an' crys : 

" Why ! To think that here's Ebenezer 
with us an' we haven't got a drop of honey 
on the table ! Minerva," she says, " go 
right down cellar an' bring up a plate of 
that delicious clover honey George's father 
sent to me." 

Minerva went, tottering, and I felt 
rather than heard a sigh go the rounds of 
the table. We was certainly in for it now, 
for Ebenezer, with his remarkable taste, 

89 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

would instantly spot that honey as his 
own ! 

If I could have crawled under the table 
an' got out I should certainly have gone, 
but there was no escape, and Minerva 
appeared with a generous plate of the 
honey and, obedient to her mother's com 
mand, set it directly before her Uncle 
Ebenezer. 

The old man perked his head with de 
light. He was at his proudest moment 
about to pass judgment on the product ot 
a rival bee-keeper, and a no less dis 
tinguished one than my father. 

He dipped his knife into the honey an' 
twisted a load on its point with practiced 
skill, while we shivered an' held our 
breath. 

Then he sniffed the honey. He sniffed 
again, and we noticed a pained expression 
come into his face. Then he delicately 
tasted the honey, runnin' his tongue slowly 
between his lips. 

I knew I was growin' deadly pale from 
90 



TASTE OF EBENEZER BROWN 

suppressed emotion. You could have 
heard a pin drop until Mrs. Brown broke 
the weird silence. 

"Well, Ebenezer," she said, " how do 
you like it? " 

" George," said the old man, solemnly, 
turnin' to me, "I'm s'prised at your 
father such a careful man as he is, too 
sendin' out such stuff as this under the 
name of clover honey ! " Then he added, 
with a horrified look in his eyes : " There's 
positively buckwheat in it ! " 

The shock was too great. I give one 
look at Tish an' Ed. They was grittin' 
their teeth to hold in. The absurdity of 
the thing was too much. I snorted, and 
that touched off the rest of the young 
people an' the table shook with laughter. 

Ebenezer looked pained. Then he 
looked at the honey. Then a smile crept 
into the corners of his mouth. He tasted 
the honey carefully. 

" It's my stolen cap ! " he said. 

" But, sir," said I, with the tears run- 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

nin' from my eyes, "there's positively 
buckwheat in it ! " 

"George," said he, "we'll let it drop 
where it is. But if you want to keep out 
of jail, don't tell your father what I said, 
that's all." 



When Me an' Ed Got 
Religion 

'Long about the time me an' Ed was 
just gettin' on friendly relations with 
our 'teens, a young Methodist preacher 
just out from England got stationed on 
the Milton circuit an' took the notion of 
holdin' protracted meetin' in the little 
red schoolhouse. These revival services 
was a big event in the neighborhood 
in them days an' be yet, I've no doubt. 
You know, we never had much of public 
amusement or excitement, and a winter 
without a protracted meetin' was consid 
ered dull. The young folks 'specially 
enjoyed such a meetin', 'cause it was a 
place to go to of a night, and what with 
the queer things that happened an' the 
funny experiences told by the converted, 

93 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

it stood us in place of a theatre. Father 
was a natural leader at such times, and as 
he kept the schoolhouse key, me an' Ed 
would be sent up early of a night to build 
the fire an' light the lamps. We used to 
sock the wood to that old box stove till 
the top got red hot an' the pipe roared. 
Then we'd set around an' wait for the 
folks to come. 

Old Henry Simmonds was always the 
first to arrive. 

" Wall, boys," he'd say to me an' Ed, 
" I see you got a good fire goin'. But 
that ain't nothin' to the fire as'll roast poor 
sinners if they don't obey the call an' 
come for'ard. Git religion, boys," he'd 
say. " Git religion early in life an' be an 
honor to your father an' mother." Then 
he'd sit down in front of the stove an' spit 
terbacker juice though the damper. 

Father never said nothin' to us 'bout 
gettin' religion, 'cause he thought us too 
young, but me an' Ed 'ud get mighty 
serious now an' then, as we was terrible 

94 



GETTIN' RELIGION 

'fraid of dyin' an' goin' to the bad place 
an* welterin' in the fires there. It was 
good an' real to us then, I tell you ; for 
beside what old Henry Simmonds was 
eternally dingin' into our ears an' what 
" Long John " Clark, a local preacher 
with a powerful, pleadin' voice and an 
earnest way with him, was always preachin' 
'bout fire an' brimstone, we'd the old 
family Bible at home, with its scarey pic 
tures, to keep us shiverin' most of the 
time. 

There was one picture in that Bible I'll 
never forget. It was 'long in Revelations 
an' was intended to show how an Angel 
come to lock up Satan every thousand 
years. There was Hell itself a rollin' an' 
tossin' in flames, the smoke curlin' up in 
great clouds 'round about. Then there 
was the Devil in the shape of a horrible 
dragon with claw feet an' savage, sharp 
teeth, an' a skin on him like a rhinoceros, 
crouchin' back, while a tall Angel in bare 
feet an' long hair confronted him with a 

95 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

ponderous iron key. Blame if it didn't 
just about set our teeth to chatterin' every 
time we looked at that picture ! 

But it didn't take me an' Ed long to 
forget all about the Devil an' the bad 
place the minute we got out into the open 
air, with the sun shinin' overhead an' with 
some mischief or other in our minds. I 
guess we was too full of life to take things 
seriously. 

Well, this winter, long comes the young 
English preacher to hold protracted meet- 
in', and he was the most earnest young 
feller you ever see. He had the "peni 
tentiary" bench full of "convicts" the first 
week, as old Dan, the French tailor, used 
to say. 

I never told you about Dan, did I ? 
Well, I will some time. He was a case 
for twistin' words. 

Me an' Ed an' a few more boys set 

back by the stove an' made no move, but 

we could feel that the spirit or somethin' 

was workin' in us. We knew we was awful 

96 



GETTIN' RELIGION 

sinners, but we hadn't the nerve to go 
forward. Will Tinker went forward, after 
a bit, and I remember well how I wished 
I was him. I could catch a glimpse of 
him a blubberin' away an' gettin' saved at 
one end of the penitent bench, and when 
the prayin' was over an' the tellin' of 
experiences begun, me an' Ed 'ud whisper 
back an' forth, after sizin' up the faces, 
and guess who'd got religion that night. 
Some would come up tearful an' look as 
if all their friends an' neighbors was dead 
an' buried ; while others would be calm- 
faced an' waitin' eagerly to be called on 
to tell what the Lord had done for them. 

One night, after me an' Ed had gone to 
bed an' I was just beginnin' to doze off, 
Ed scratched my leg with his big toe a 
signal he had for openin' conversation. 

"George," says he to me, "I'm goin' 
for'ard to-morrow night." 

"You dasn't do it," says I. 

"Yes, I dast," says he. "I'm goin' 
for'ard an' git religion." 

97 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

Ed was such a positive feller that it 
kinder stumped me for a minute, but I 
dasn't let him see he'd had the courage 
to say what I dasn't. 

" You go to sleep ! " says I. " You're 
a fool!" 

" Well, I'm goin' for'ard just the same," 
says he. 

"You dasn't go for'ard without me," 
says I. 

" I dare, too," says he. " I'll kneel 
'longside of Will Tinker." 

I lay an' thought, and was mighty un 
comfortable. I knew if Ed went forward 
an' left me by the stove I'd be looked on 
as an outcast sinner, and Ed 'ud crow 
over me like sixty if he got religion an' I 
didn't. 

But matters changed in my favor the 
next night. When the call to come for 
ward came from the young preacher, Ed 
was pale as a sheet, and didn't stir. 

" I thought you was goin' for'ard ? " 
says I in a whisper. 

98 



GETTIN' RELIGION 

He chawed a sliver, but didn't say a 
word. 

" Ain't you goin' to git religion ? " says 
I, nudgin' him, for I see he was scart. 

" George," says he faintly, " you go first; 
I'll foller." 

That was what I wanted, and when the 
next call come I marched up, with Ed at 
my heels, givin' Tish Brown a wink out of 
my left eye as I passed her. 

We knelt 'side of Will Tinker, who was 
still seekin'; and, diggin' our knuckles 
into our eyes, waited for religion to come. 

" Felt anything yet ? " says I to Will, 
nudgin' him. 

" Not a blame thing ! " says he, " and 
my knees is 'bout wore out ! " 

I could hear Ed mumblin' away, and 
so I started in to say my prayers, but it 
didn't seem natural, it not bein' bed-time. 

By an' by 'long come old Henry Sim- 
monds, who patted our heads. 

" Good boys," says he in his croaky 
voice. " Save the lambs, Lord ! " says he, 

99 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

and as he said it he stumbled over the end 
of a bench. 

Will Tinker snickered right out, and I 
hid my face in my hands to keep from 
laughin'. Say ! I never wanted to laugh so 
bad in all my life. Me an' Will 'ud look 
at one 'nother sideways an' then giggle to 
ourselves, but Ed kept as serious as a 
judge. 

We didn't git religion that night or the 
next. Will Tinker give up in despair an' 
left off goin' for'ard, but me an' Ed hung 
it out. 

Finally, one night in bed I felt Ed's 
big toe scrapin' along my calf an' I knew 
somethin' was comin'. 

" George," says he, "I b'lieve I've got 
it!" 

"Got what? " says I. 

" Religion," says he. 

"When did you get it? " says I. 

"Well, I've been figurin," says he, 
"and I guess I've got it." 

I argued pro an' con, but couldn't 
100 



GETTIN' RELIGION 

shake him. I was in a pickle. I knew 
positive that I hadn't been moved a peg, 
but I dasn't let Ed get ahead of me. 

Next night, while we was buildin' the 
fire, I says to him: 

"Ed," says I, "if you've got it, I've 
got it, too." 

" Are you sure ? " says he. 

"Well, to tell the truth, Ed," says I, 
" I ain't dead certain." 

" I guess you've got it, George," says 
he, " for you've looked solemn all day." 

We stood up that night among the 
saved, and father talked very nice to us 
an' mother cried a heap. 

The next day we started out to live a 
pious life, and carried our Sunday-school 
lesson in our pockets. We prayed for 
everybody we knew an' felt quite lifted 
up for nigh a week, and then the crash 
came. 

It was this way : Up in the gables of 
our barn was four little star-shaped holes 
for the pigeons to come in an' out, and 
101 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

just below them holes a pair of martins 
had built their mud nest, and me an' Ed 
had been figurin' for some time how to 
get up there an' investigate the martin 
family. We could climb up just so far 
an' then have to give up. 

Well, this day we started in to make a 
sure thing of them martins. We took off 
our boots, and diggin' our toes into the 
clapboards an' hangin' to the joist, began 
to climb. Up we went, higher'n ever, 
and I got so I could just reach the bottom 
of the martin's nest, when I heard a yell 
from Ed an' see him tumble backward to 
the mow below. He struck kerflop in 
the soft pea straw, and at once began to 
holler. I crawled back as fast as I could, 
thinkin' he'd hurt himself. When I 
reached the mow I found him sittin' on a 
beam with one foot in his hand, the toes 
all twisted up an' him a cryin' to beat the 
band. 

" Dum them thistles ! " he says, sobbin'. 
" Gosh dum them blame thistles ! " 

IO2 



GETTIN' RELIGION 

He'd dropped fair into a bunch of straw 
full of thistles dry, old, sharp, brown 
fellers that run in like needles, and his 
feet was full of 'em. 

" Do they hurt you, Ed?" says I, feel- 
in' bad for him. 

He let out a yell, and I see he was crazy 
mad. 

" Gosh dum them thistles ! " was all he 
could say. " Gosh dum them gosh dum 
thistles ! " 

When he'd quieted down some I started 
in to help him pick the thistles from his 
feet an' clothes, and I says to him : 

" Ed," says I, " I thought you had re 
ligion ? " 

" Dum them thistles ! blame 'em ! " 
says he. " Gosh dum 'em ! ! " 

" Ed," says I, " stop cussin'. You got 
religion." 

" I ain't got no religion ! Dum re 
ligion ! " he howls. 

"You're a backslider," says I, nippin' 
along, ugly thistle from the calf of his leg. 
103 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

" Dum religion ! " says he, sobbin'. 
" Dum the martins, too ! " says he, glanc- 
in' up at them. " Gosh dum 'em ! " 

"Ed," says I, "you'll go to the bad 
place, sure." 

" I don't give a dum ! " says he. 

"I'll go to Heaven," says I, "and 
you'll go to the bad place." 

' Go where you like," says he. " There 
ain't no thistles in the bad place, any 
how," says he, defiant as you please. 

He kept dummin' away savage as could 
be till he'd found the last thistle. Then 
we went to play over by the pig-pen. 

That night Ed's big toe told me he'd 
somethin' to say, and I waited. 

" George," says he, "I wish you'd give 
it up." 

" Give up what? " says I. 

" Religion," says he. " I ain't got it an' 
I don't want to go to the bad place alone." 

In my heart I was glad to be let off 
from prayin' an' bein' solemn, but I made 
the most of it. 

104 



GETTIN' RELIGION 

" Give me the green alley with the 
white rings," says I, "and I'll do it." 

"I'll give you four brown marbles," 
says he. 

" The green alley," says I, "or I stick." 

" I'll give you five," says he. 

" Nothin' but the green alley," says I, 
for I knew I had him. 

He thought for some time an' finally 
wavered. 

" Say f dum religion,' same's I did," says 
he, "and I'll give you the green alley." 

I had to say it, and then we both went 
to sleep. We was hardened sinners from 
that time on, until Ed growed up an* 
got to be a preacher himself. 

One day I says to him, sittin' smokin' 
in his study, when he was preparin' a ser 
mon : "Ed," says I, " do you remember 
that time we went up after martins an' 
lost religion ? " 

Ed grinned. " You don't ever forget 
anything, George," says he. " What boys 
we was ! " 

105 



The Persuasive Eloquence of 
John Wesley Cuff 

You've all read in books an' newspapers 
about certain men bein' such orators that 
they could move their audiences to laugh 
ter or tears by the magic of their voice. 
I heard once that Bob Ingersoll was such 
a man, and I went to hear him, but he 
didn't move me any. He's a good talker, 
is Bob, but do you know, that instead of 
movin' me along with him he kinder 
grated on my sensibilities, for I was farmer 
born an' bred, and it rasped me up an' 
down the back the way he pitched into 
all that I'd been taught to hold sacred. 

I heard Phillips Brooks once, too, but 

he was no orator. Prob'ly the best 

speaker I ever heard was old Sir John 

MacDonald. I never agreed with Sir 

106 



ELOQUENCE OF J. W. CUFF 

John in politics, but I must own he could 
tell his side of the story in a way to con 
vince anybody not born a Grit. 

The speakers that we read about don't 
'mount to so much when we actually hear 
'em, and I must confess I never met but 
one man who could simply toy with the 
human emotions, and that man was a chap 
by the name of John Wesley Cuff, or, as 
he was more commonly called, Wess Cuff. 

Wess wasn't a particularly strikin' in 
dividual, but he wasn't bad lookin' an' 
had a good figure. He was a driver for 
a livery stable; not a high position, but one 
which he made the most of. He'd a low, 
soft, sweet voice for a man, with tones in 
it like the purr of a cat. With this voice 
always went a magical smile. I say magi 
cal, for it was really magical. He could 
smile with either his eyes, his mouth, his 
forehead or his cheeks, without disturbin' 
the other parts, or he could unite 'em all 
in one marvellous smirk that 'ud enchant 
an' captivate the unwary. 
107 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

Jimmy O'Shay, the old deer hunter, 
introduced me to John Wesley Cuff. 
Jimmy had hired Wess to go back with 
him to Whistlin' Coon Lake, a distance 
of fifty miles from the borders of civiliza 
tion, after a load of deer which he'd shot 
several weeks before an' left hangin' in 
the woods out of reach of bears an' 
wolves. 

Jimmy O'Shay was a character, too, but 
this story isn't about him. I'll only say 
that Jimmy had a particularly soft heart 
that went well with his snow-white hair ; 
that he loved bravery an' despised mean 
ness, and that he was the most famous 
swearer between Toronto an' Montreal. 
Oaths fairly rippled from the lips of 
Jimmy O'Shay, and it could truthfully be 
said that he exuded profanity ; but the 
strange part of it was that you seldom 
noticed that he was swearin', he did it so 
natural like. 

I'd never been back in the real wilder 
ness, so when Jimmy invited me to 
108 



ELOQUENCE OF J. W. CUFF 

accompany him on his trip, I accepted 
with spirit, for I wanted to see the back 
country. I saw it, and I don't want to 
see it again. Once is enough for me. 

Well, we got started all right, with a 
fine team of gray horses an' a big bob 
sleigh with the bottom full of straw to 
keep our feet warm. Between Jimmy an' 
Wess they kept the conversation lively. 
They couldn't agree on a single point, and 
refused to be convinced when I decided 
a point one way or t'other. They knowed 
everybody who'd ever lived for miles an' 
miles around, and each had a positive 
opinion to express. 

Jimmy 'ud say to Wess : 

" Wess," he'd say, " what's the good o' 
you talkin' to me, when I know that 
every word rollin' out yer throat's a lie ! " 

And Wess 'ud return: 

"Jimmy," he'd say, "there ain't a man 

far an' near as I respect more'n I do you. 

You've been like a father to me, Jimmy, 

but I must say that, for a man of your 

109 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

age, you've the most distorted notion of 
facts of any man alive. I don't say you 
lie, Jimmy remember that. I honor age ; 
but I do say that you don't know what 
you're talkin' about half the time." 

Then Jimmy 'ud breathe profanity on 
the frosty air an' start all over again. 

We passed the jumpin'-off place at noon 
of the second day, and then had to pick 
a road as best we could along a blazed 
trail, which wasn't difficult as long as the 
light held out. It was the intention of 
my companions to reach the home of the 
Bheels, a family of backwoods farmers, 
before dark, but the night fairly dropped 
on us before we was within five miles of 
the Bheels' clearin', and we had to pick 
our way cautious like 'long among the 
stumps an' trees. 

We was half frozen when we caught the 
first glimmer of light ahead, and sure 
enough, it turned out to be the cabin of 
the Bheels. 

Wess drove up before the door with a 

1 10 



ELOQUENCE OF J. W. CUFF 

flourish. A couple of half-starved curs 
come yelpin' round the corner of the 
house, and Wess lifted up his voice in a 
cheery " Hallo ! " 

The cabin door opened an* I saw a 
stout woman in the entry, with half a 
dozen eager faces peerin' over her 
shoulders. 

" The < Queen of the Woods ' an' her 
fairies, by all the gods ! " cried Wess, 
standin' up in the sleigh an' bowin' pro 
foundly. 

"It's that there Wess Cuff," I heard 
the " Queen " say, as she turned to her 
attendant fairies, and then she called : 

" Is that you, Wess, sure enough ? " 

" It's me, mother, just poor little me 
an' Jimmy an' a young feller out for his 
health. Can you put us up ? " 

We didn't wait for a reply, but bundled 
out into the snow, and gatherin' up an 
armful of blankets an' provender each, we 
entered the house. 

It was a log house, one story an' a six- 
iii 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

teenth high. The parlor, dinin'-room, 
spare bedroom, library, kitchen an' wood- 
house was all on the first floor. There 
was no partitions between these rooms. 
The family bedrooms was in bunks along 
the south wall of the cabin, and the room 
for guests an' dogs was on the floor be 
hind the cook-stove, that is, if the guests 
didn't choose to crawl up a ladder into the 
loft an' run the risk of losin' their lives in 
collision with bundles of seed corn on the 
ear, suspended from the rafters. There 
was a bare table in the combination room, 
several rough wooden chairs, a cupboard 
with a few dishes, and the rest of the fur- 
nishin's was human or animal. 

First, there was father Bheel, a weak- 
eyed man, slender an' stooped, who might 
be any age you could guess. He chawed 
terbacker earnestly an' spit into the 
damper from any point in the room with 
a directness that would have made his 
fortune on the variety stage. He was a 
man given to silence. 
112 



ELOQUENCE OF J. W. CUFF 

Second, there was mother Bheel a 
large woman, rugged an' mighty in her 
massiveness of strength. She pervaded 
the cabin with form an' voice. She was 
certainly a woman that made her presence 
felt. I'd not call her face handsome; it 
was far from that. It wasn't a motherly 
face either, but for all it was a strong and 
genuinely feminine face. She was a tire 
less talker, but her voice run to harshness, 
caused likely by the high pitch at which 
she kept it. 

Third, there was Bobby Bheel a young 
man, p'raps twenty-one, with a natural 
growth of whiskers an' brains. He like 
wise was an expert marksman, although 
I've see him miss, somethin' his father 
never did. 

Fourth, there was the girls Minnie, 
Ellen an' Mamie twenty, eighteen, six 
teen, blonde, with faded brown hair; 
blonde, with very much faded brown hair; 
blonde, with bright red hair. Passable 
homely pretty. All wore short dresses 

"3 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

an' was bare-footed. All had outgrown 
their dresses, as could be seen from the 
free play given their wrists an' hands, and 
all preferred safety pins to buttons, as 
was likewise exteriorly manifested. All 
was bashful all was curious, and all 
thought John Wesley Cuff was the most 
delightful man in the world. 

Fifth, there was the dogs Jerry an' 
Stingo friends an' lovers ; passionately 
fond of one another's ears; sharp-eyed 
hound pups, with sweet dispositions an' 
very accommodatin' when requested to 
give place by the stove to another mem 
ber of the family. 

After supper I won't describe that 
supper. It was what reporters call " unfit 
for publication." After supper Jimmy 
an' I decided that the air of the general 
room wasn't good for us, and that we'd 
crawl up into the attic an' go to sleep. 
This we did, but we didn't go to sleep, 
for every word said below could plainly 
be heard by us. 

114 



ELOQUENCE OF J. W. CUFF 

The family, with Wess seated between 
Minnie an' Mamie on a bench, immedi 
ately at the rear of the stove, evidently 
had no intention of retirin' before dawn. 
The conversation was all interestin', but I 
only want to tell you that part which 
shows up the wonderful persuasiveness of 
John Wesley Cuff. 

" Bobby," says Wess, in his softest, 
sweetest tone, " Bobby," says he, " when 
I come in to-night I was a little surprised 
at you, Bobby. When your father told 
you to run an' put up the horses, you 
didn't jump at the word, Bobby," says 
he, " the way a smart, active boy like you 
should. You hung 'round the fire, Bobby, 
and let your poor old father go first 
now, didn't you ? " 

" Naw, I didn't," says Bobby in a 
muffled tone. 

" Yes, you did, drat you ! " yells the old 
man. " Don't answer me back ! You 
shut up, there, or I'll swat you!" 

Silence for a moment, and then Wess's 

"5 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

gentle voice : " Bobby, how would you 
like to see your dear old father laid out in 
his coffin, arms folded, eyes shut, with 
coppers on 'em, and the hearse standin' 
outside the door to bear his body away to 
the grave ! Wouldn't you think then of 
your dear old father, Bobby ? of how he 
raised you from a boy, and worked an' 
sweat for you to give you a livin' and an 
education ? Wouldn't it just break your 
heart, Bobby, to recall the many times 
you've let your father do the chores which 
you could have done as well an' saved his 
dear old back ? Ah, yes ! you'll think 
of that, Bobby, when your dear old 
father's gray hairs are laid away an' his 
back's straightened out in death ! " 

The audible grief of the family could 
now be distinctly heard, and comin' from 
between sobs which shook Mrs. Bheel's 
powerful, maternal bosom, was these 
words : 

" Say you will, Bobby ! " a big sob 
" say you will, Bobby ! " 
116 



ELOQUENCE OF J. W. CUFF 

" I don't wanter see'm dead, and I 
never said I did," says Bobby, defiantly. 

" Oh, Bobby ! you're horrid ! " snaps 
Minnie. 

" I ain't, neither ! " says Bobby. 

" Shet up there, you ! Don't you sass 
your sister!" cries his father. "A bad, 
undutiful son you are, and you know it." 

" I ain't, neither ! " says Bobby. 

"Shet up! shet up! or I'll swat 
you ! " again scolds the old man. 

Then Wess glides into the discord 
with : " Bobby, you're a good boy. "I ain't 
down on you, Bobby. I always told your 
dear mother you was a bright boy. f Mrs. 
Bheel,' I says to her many's an' many's a 
time, c Bobby'll be a handsome man, 
Mrs. Bheel, and look just like you, Mrs. 
Bheel.' Now, didn't I say them words, 
mother ? " 

" That you did, Mr. Cuff," replied the 

flattered mother, with pride in her voice. 

" You said them very words, Mr. Cuff, 

and Bobby's a handsome boy, though 

117 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

who he took it from, the Lord knows ! 
for it was certainly not his father, and as 
for me " 



(C 



Mrs. Bheel ! mother ! " says Wess. 
" Go slow, now ; not so fast there. You 
ain't blarneyin' with Jimmy now, but 
talkin' with J ohn Wesley Cuff, who never 
says a word he don't mean an' can't prove. 
I know where Bobby gets his good looks, 
and where Minnie an' Mamie an' Ellen 
here get their beauty, oh, I know ! " 

Wess must have squeezed the girls at 
this point, for they gave a little scream an' 
Mrs. Bheel said: 

"Girls ! girls ! don't be shy. It's only 
Mr. Cuff." 

Wess continued, and I could imagine 
how blandly he smiled: 

"Yes, Bobby is a handsome boy an' 
his whiskers are very becomin'," he says. 
" Now, Bobby, I want you to think. 
You're a good boy at heart, Bobby, and 
I know you love your father an' mother 
an' your three pretty sisters, and you 
118 



ELOQUENCE OF J. W. CUFF 

wouldn't want to go away an' leave 'em. 
So, Bobby, when you see your father 
move to'ards the barn, you must jump in 
ahead of him an' have the chores all done 
before he passes the woodpile. It's in 
you to do it, Bobby, now ain't it ? " 

" I like to be good," says Bobby, quite 
plaintive. 

" Yes, he does," says his father. " Bobby 
is a 'tarnal good boy. Why, only last 
ploughin' I says to John Chinneck, as I 
handed him a chaw of terbacker t John,' 
says I, 'if you only had a boy like my 
Bobby, 'twould be easier for you,' and 
John 'lowed it would." 

"Now, that's what I always thought," 
says Wess. " So here we are, all happy 
an' lovin' an' admirin' of one 'nother." 

Then says he : " Mamie," he says, " do 
you go to school now ? " 

" Not in winter time, Mr. Cuff," says 
Mamie. 

"Can you read an' write ? " says he. 

" Can Mamie read an' write ! " cries 
119 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

Mrs. Bheel. "You jest show him what 
you can do, Mamie. Why, she's the 
scholar of the family ! " 

"Now, mother, go slow go slow," says 
Wess. " Remember, you ain't talkin' to 
Jimmy O'Shay now," says he. " Don't 
I know these girls, one an' all ? Haven't 
I known 'em for years ? Don't you go to 
disparagin' your oldest daughters, Mrs. 
Bheel, just because they ain't attendin' 
ladies' colleges or havin' the priv'lege of 
three months' schoolin' each summer, the 
same's Mamie." 

"I ain't disparagin' 'em," says Mrs. 
Bheel. 

"Well, it sounds very much like it, 
when you go an' set up your youngest 
child as the scholar of the family right 
over the heads of her beautiful sisters." 

Minnie an' Ellen was now in tears. I 
could plainly hear 'em sobbin' and Mrs. 
Bheel evidently felt very uncomfortable. 

"It's a terrible thing, Mrs. Bheel," 
continues Wess, " to flaunt one child over 
1 20 



ELOQUENCE OF J. W. CUFF 

another. It breeds discord an' envy. 
Don't cry, Minnie. Cheer up, Ellen ; 
don't take it so to heart. Even if your 
mother does go back on you an' put up 
Mamie as the only child she loves, I'll 
stand by you, and so will your father an' 
Bobby. You'll be all right yet when you 
go out front an' marry a handsome, rich 
man apiece, and then won't your mother 
miss you ! " 

" I never said I didn't love them girls ! " 
sobs Mrs. Bheel. 

"Well, well," says Wess, "we won't 
argue it any further. I'm waitin' for 
Mamie to read for me." 

" I won't read for you ! " says Mamie, 
with a pout. 

"Mamie," says Wess, "you'll fall off 
the bench if you move any further away, 
and Ellen will slip in between you an' me. 
Come here to my side. Now, Mamie, 
look me in the eyes. You're angry at 
me, Mamie, 'cause I stuck up for your sis 
ters. Did I say, Mamie, that you wasn't 
121 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

the cutest little girl back of Cloyne ? Did 
I say that you wasn't so blame handsome, 
with them black eyes an' red lips of yours, 
that if you'd dare to step your foot out 
front the fellers wouldn't make a dead set 
for you? now, did I, Mamie?" 

" No, you didn't," says Mamie, mild as 
a kitten. 

"Then read to me," says Wess. 

She read, or stumbled over a lesson 
from the Second Reader about " Silver- 
locks an' the Bears," and when she'd 
done, Wess clapped his hands. 

" A kiss for reward ! " he cried, and I 
heard the smack plainly. 

Everything was quiet now for a few 
minutes, and no sound broke the stillness 
save the sizzlin' in the fire when father 
Bheel struck the bulls'-eye. 

Then Wess began again at Bobby : 

" Bobby," he says, "is it actually true 
that you'll set here by the stove burnin' 
the soles off your boots, while your dear, 
kind mother carries in the wood ? You 

122 



ELOQUENCE OF J. W. CUFF 

may think, Bobby, that I don't notice, but 
I do." 

" She never asks me," says Bobby, with 
a growl. 

" He wouldn't do it if I did ask him," 
returns his mother. 

"He makes us carry all the water, too," 
says the girls in chorus. 

" It ain't no sech thing," says Bobby, 
fidgetin'. 

"Shet up, or I'll swat your face ! " cries 
Mr. Bheel, wakin' up. " Shet up, you 
unnatural son, you ! " 

" Ah, me ! " says Wess, " that's the way 
with boys. Here's Bobby, a great, strap- 
pin' feller capable of doin' two men's 
work, and yet he sits by the fire and lets 
his father do the chores, his delicate 
mother carry in the wood an' his sweet 
sisters bend their frail backs luggin' water. 
You'd ought to be ashamed, Bobby 
that's what you had. You'd ought to feel 
too mean to hold up your head." 

" He's a lazy, good-for-nothin'," says 
123 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

Mrs. Bheel. " All he can do is shovel in 
sauerkraut an' salt pork. He's an un 
grateful boy, and I always said it." 

" Now, you know I ain't, mother," 
says Bobby, chokin' up. 

" Yes, you be ! " yells the old man, 
" yes, you be, you lazy lummicks ! Don't 
open your mouth to me, sir, or I'll swat 
your face ! " 

" I don't see why you're all down on 
me ! " sobs Bobby. 

" 'Cause you're a bad, ungrateful boy," 
says his mother. 

A few minutes of painful silence now 
ensued ; then I heard the voice of John 
Wesley Cuff, and by its tone I felt he was 
goin' to calm the storm. 

" Bobby," says he, " there ain't no 
doubt that you've let your mother carry 
in wood, but I don't believe you'll ever 
do it again. You musn't let her do it, 
Bobby. It makes her bend her back, 
Bobby, and if she keeps it up, it'll spoil 
her figure, which mustn't be ; for, Bobby, 
124 



ELOQUENCE OF J. W. CUFF 

do you ever realize what a handsome, 
young-lookin' mother you have, and that 
she's generally considered the finest-built 
woman back of Cloyne ? 

"Think how you'd miss her, Bobby, were 
she to break her back one day over a pine 
knot ! Who'd sew earlappers into your 
cap then ? Who'd darn your mittens then, 
Bobby, and knit new feet into your socks ? 
Who'd make the sauerkraut an' dried 
apple pie, which you love so well, if your 
mother was turned into an angel an* flew 
away? 

" Look at her now, Bobby, sittin' by 
your side, and then think of your loss !" 

" You praise me too high, Mr. CufF 
you certainly do,'" says Mrs. Bheel, but 
I knew that her heart was glad in her. 

"You're so modest," says Wess. "Girls," 
says he, "just look at your mother ; see 
her blush. Ain't she handsome now? 
Girls, listen to me: Try to avoid bein' 
as over modest an' humble as your mother 
is. If you don't, you'll not get far in the 
125 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

world." Then he took Bobby up where 
he'd temporarily abandoned him. 

Bobby," says he, " I believe you have 
a genuinely good heart, and no matter 
what anyone says they can't make me be 
lieve to the contrary. You will now stop 
to think, and when you see your mother 
make a motion for wood, you just jump, 
Bobby, and have an armful beside the 
stove in a jiffy. And the same with 
your delicate sisters, who are just blos- 
somin' out like young cherry trees grab 
the water pail from their hands an* fly to 
the pump. 

" It would have been the makin' of 
me, Bobby, if I'd been brought up with 
three such lovely girls as these. I 
wouldn't have been half as selfish as I am. 
So promise me, Bobby, that you won't do 
it again." 

" I'll promise anything," says Bobby. 

" You hear that, Mrs. Bheel ? " says 
Wess. " Bobby promises to be good. 
Now I want you to forgive him." 
126 



ELOQUENCE OF J. W. CUFF 

" I do forgive him," says Mrs. Bheel. 
" Bobby's a mighty good boy, and I do 
love him." 

" Do you forgive your only brother, 
girls? " says Wess. 

" We ain't got nothin' agin him," they 
said in one voice. 

" Now, you see, Bobby," says Wess, 
" I've fixed you out all right, an' you can 
start fresh. Always remember I'm your 
friend, Bobby." 

And so it went on. I could hear Jimmy 
turnin' nervously every now an' then, and 
swearin' softly to himself. I didn't be 
lieve I'd ever get to sleep, for the moment 
I'd make up my mind that the conversa 
tion down stairs was over an' compose 
myself for slumber, that moment would 
bring the soft, insinuatin' voice of John 
Wesley Cuff up through the cracks, and 
I was forced to listen to a new line of 
argument. Before midnight he had the 
old man worked up to the point of apply- 
in' for a divorce from his wife. This he 
127 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

smoothed down in a few minutes. He had 
Minnie bitterly jealous of Ellen, and 
Mamie hatin' every other member of the 
family who was said to be keepin' this 
wild rose down. 

Bobby was mauled in harrowin' style, 
and once when his father raised a stick of 
stove wood to throw at his son, Wess 
calmed the storm, and in a minute more 
father an' son was on the best of terms. 

I haven't exaggerated a single point. 
Wess's power was wonderful. The last 
thing I remember, he had the girls tellin' 
him just what they'd do if they had a 
hundred dollars each to spend as they 
liked. 

In the mornin' Wess kissed all the 
ladies good-bye an' shook hands warmly 
with Bobby an* his father. Mrs. Bheel 
told me in strict confidence, while Wess 
was hitchin' up, that he was her ideal of a 
man ; that God Almighty may have made 
smarter men an' pleasanter men to meet 
than Wess Cuff, but she'd never met 'em. 
128 



ELOQUENCE OF J. W. CUFF 

Wess gave each of the girls a brightly- 
polished brass ring, and to Bobby he gave 
an equally attractive jewsharp. 

If they'd been Pagan-bred, the Bheels 
would have made a god to represent John 
Wesley Cuff an' worshipped it with heart 
felt adoration. 

On our return with the deer, we only 
stopped at the Bheels to warm. Wess 
improved this opportunity by invitin' the 
whole family to come an' stay with him 
any time they happened in town. Neither 
the girls or Bobby had ever seen the cars, 
and Mrs. Bheel had only heard them at a 
distance. So they listened eagerly while 
Wess dilated on the sights of the town. 

When we got under way again, Jimmy 
O'Shay turned to Wess an' said : 

" Wess Cuff, you're the low downdest, 
meanest cuss I ever see leadin' them 
poor, foolish people on to thinkin' that 
they really 'mount to somethin' in the 
world. What good does it do you, man, 
to lie an' deceive so ? " 
129 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

"Why, Jimmy, it ain't lyin' an' de 
ceit," says Wess. " I was jest jollyin' 'em 
along, you know. You ain't got no fun 
in you, Jimmy not a blame bit. Why, 
the other night, when I had 'em all lovin' 
one another one minute an' ready to fight 
the next, I don't believe I ever had a bet 
ter time. It was better'n any show I was 
ever to." 

About five miles the other side of 
Cloyne, Wess claimed he was feelin' faint, 
and pulled up before a rather respectable, 
small frame farmhouse, statin' that he was 
goin' to ask for a glass of milk. Both 
me an' Jimmy O'Shay felt that a few 
minutes' warmin' wouldn't do us any 
harm ; so we tied the horses an' marched 
to the house in a body. 

The farmer was away, but his wife was 
at home, and she proved mighty hospit 
able, givin' us all the milk we wanted an' 
apologizin' for not bein' able to entertain 
us better. She was a young, fine-lookin' 
woman of about thirty, plump as a part- 
130 



ELOQUENCE OF J. W. CUFF 

ridge an' very sociable. As we sat by the 
stove, warmin', Wess as usual kept up a 
lively conversation with her, and discov 
ered her weakest point to be a passionate 
love for jewelry. 

Now, Wess never went anywhere with 
out his pockets full of cheap chains an' 
rings, which he was accustomed to work 
off on the rustics, much to the disgust of 
that honest Irishman Jimmy O'Shay. 

He produced from his vest pocket a 
small chamois bag, from which he took a 
long, glitterin', ladies' watch-chain, and 
fondled it lovin'ly in his hand. 

" Your speakin' of jewelry, ma'am, re 
minded me of this lovely chain," he says, 
smilin' at the woman. 

She eyed the chain covetously. 

" I shouldn't have brought so expensive 
a chain as this with me," says Wess, 
seriously. " But I daren't leave it at home 
for fear of its bein' stolen while I was away." 

" Did you buy it for your wife ? " says 
the woman. 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

" No, I didn't," says Wess. " She has 
one now, not so good a chain, of course, 
but one that fills the bill all right. She 
wanted this chain an' begged like a baby 
for it, but I really couldn't afford the 
pleasure of givin' it to her. I got it fairly 
cheap, however, from a drummer. Where 
he got it, I don't know an' didn't inquire. 
He was hard up, I guess he'd been 
playin' the game an' had to part with it. 
Now, how much d'ye think this chain 
might be worth, ma'am ? " 

Wess stretched the chain from one hand 
to the other an' then dangled it before 
the woman's eyes. She made a motion to 
take it, but he evidently had no intention 
of grantin' her the pleasure of fondlin' it. 

" It might have cost ten dollars," says 
she. 

" Why, lady ! " cries Wess in an injured 
tone. " You don't really mean that ! Look 
at this beautiful chain again. See how the 
links are all double locked. I thought 
you could guess better than that." 
132 



ELOQUENCE OF J. W. CUFF 

"Well, I ain't much of a judge of 
price," says the woman, much abashed, as 
she saw she'd hurt his feelin's in puttin' 
the price so low. "We don't see such 
lovely things back here very often," she 
says. "I know it's a beautiful chain, and 
must have cost a lot of money, may be 
twenty-five dollars." 

"That's better," says Wess, "and if 
you'd just make a little sum by settin' 
twenty-five down on the slate, puttin' two 
under it an' sayin * twice five is ten 
ought an' carry one twice two is four an* 
one to carry makes five,' you'd have fifty 
dollars ; and that's about what the chain 
cost originally, though I will own I didn't 
pay quite that for it." 

I heard Jimmy swearin' softly into the 
damper. Jimmy was a terrible polite man 
before women. 

" Why, I never had as much as fifty 
dollars in my life," says the woman. 

" It's a big sum," says Wess, and he 
started to put away the chain. 

'33 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

"Won't you let me hold it in my 
hands ? " says the woman. 

Wess looked at her an' then enveloped 
her in his wonderful smile, all the features 
joinin' in. 

"Just like a child," he says. "I 
always did say women is jest like children. 
Can't see a thing but they must have their 
hands on it." Then he lightly tossed the 
chain about the woman's neck. 

She blushed red an* dangled the part 
that hung down. 

" Oh, it's so lovely ! " says she. 

Wess gazed at her, then at the chain, 
smilin' all the while, and presently the 
question came that he waited for. 

" What's the very least you'd take for 
it? " says she. 

" I'm afraid it's too expensive for you," 
says he. 

" I might afford it," says she, " and 
John would buy it, I know, if he was 
here. John gets me everything I want." 

"Have you got forty dollars?" says 

134 



ELOQUENCE OF J. W. CUFF 

Wess, (you must remember the chain 
was worth probably seventy-five cents. ) 

" No, I haven't any money," says she, 
" but I've got a cow." 

" Well, we'll start with the cow," says 
Wess. " Put the cow down for twenty 
dollars," says he. " It's a big price, but 
seem' you want the chain so badly I'm 
inclined to be liberal." 

"Then I've got a dozen geese," says 
she, smilin' silly like. 

"Twelve geese at seventy-five cents 
each, say a dollar," says he. " That 
makes twelve dollars. Twenty an' twelve 
is thirty- two. Come again," says he. 

" I ain't got nothin' more but a shoat," 
says she, " and John wouldn't want to 
part with the shoat." 

" One shoat, five dollars," says Wess. 
"Thirty -two an' five is thirty- seven. 
Three dollars shy; but I'm generous. 
Give me the cow, the twelve geese an' the 
shoat, and the chain is yours." 

" Oh, I couldn't part with the shoat," 

135 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

says she, very sad. "I couldn't part with 
the shoat," says she. " It's John's shoat 
an' he wants to winter it." 

" Well, I'm afraid we can't trade, then," 
says Wess, the smile dyin' out of his face 
as he reached his hand for the chain. 

The woman slowly took the chain from 
about her neck, as if it was tearin* her 
heart strings to do so. 

" I jest dasn't part with the shoat," 
says she, still holdin' the chain. 

Wess still held out his hand. 

" You couldn't think of lettin' me keep 
the shoat ? " says she. 

" Not possibly," says Wess. 

She dropped the chain reluctantly into 
his hand. 

" John would be mad if I let the shoat 
go," says she. " I couldn't do it. He'd 
grieve about it." 

We thanked the woman for her hospi 
tality. Jimmy gave her a quarter, and I 
slipped another quarter into the hand 
which had so lovin'ly toyed with Wess's 
136 



ELOQUENCE OF J. W. CUFF 

brass chain. Not a word was spoken 
until we was a mile or so from the house. 
Then Jimmy began to melt the icicles 
clustered on his gray mustache with a 
torrid stream of red-hot cuss words. 

" Wess Cuff," says he, " you've driven 
me for the last time. You're a dangerous 
man to be with," says he, "and you an' I 
part after this trip. You contemptible 
scoundrel ! tryin' to sell a poor lone 
woman a cheap brass chain for her only 
cow, her feather-bed geese and her hus 
band's shoat ! You scoundrel ! " says he. 

Wess only laughed, and chirped to the 
horses. 

"A cow, twelve geese an' a shoat," says 
Jimmy indignantly. " You villain ! " 

Wess never said a word ; only kept a 
chucklin' to himself. 

There was silence for p'raps five min 
utes, and then Jimmy began to splutter 
again. He evidently was worryin' over 
somethin', because he kept repeatin' the 
items of the proposition. 

1 37 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

" Tell me, Wess Cuff, you scoundrel ! " 
says he, "what made you stick out for 
the shoat?" 

Wess continued to chuckle, but didn't 
reply. 

" The shoat couldn't have been worth 
more'n two dollars," says Jimmy. " Why 
in thunderation did you balk at the 
shoat?" 

"Jimmy," says Wess in splendid good 
nature, " Jimmy," he says, " you're a 
fine feller, and you're a mighty good 
shot with a rifle ; you're a blame good 
feller, Jimmy, but you ain't got as much 
sense of humor as one of your hound 
pups. Your brains has all run to seed, 
Jimmy ; you're growin' as blind as a bat 
in your mind an' you can't see through a 
wire fence." 

" Oh, yes ! go on an' abuse me," says 
Jimmy, but much more meekly, for he 
felt that Wess had somethin' up his sleeve. 
" Go on an' abuse me," he says, " but 
first tell me one thing why you stuck on 

138 



ELOQUENCE OF J. W. CUFF 

the shoat?" The repeated question sent 
Wess into a roar of laughter. 

" Oh my trousies ! " says he, " but 
Jimmy's goin' into mental decline ! Do 
somethin' for it, Jimmy," he says, " or I 
see the asylum before you ! " 

" Didn't you really mean to trade after 
all ? " says Jimmy, quite humble now, 
" and was you just stickin' out for the 
shoat as a bluff? " says he. 

Wess winked at me. 

"Jimmy's beginnin' to think," says he. 
"Jimmy's beginnin' to reason." 

" But tell me ! " says Jimmy, angrily. 

" You tell me first," says Wess, " how 
much you give the woman for entertainin' 
you?" 

" I give her a quarter," says Jimmy, 
proudly. 

"Well, I give her the chain," says 
Wess, and then he laughed louder'n ever, 
while Jimmy sunk into his fur coat an' 
never opened his mouth till we reached 
home. 

139 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

He did. He give her the chain when 
we wasn't lookin'. I never knew a 
more remarkable man than John Wesley 
Cuff. 



The Tale of a Strange Bed 

The man who hustles for a livin' finds 
himself in many peculiar situations an' 
memorable sleepin' places. 

I believe I've slept on every kind of 
bed imaginable, from the bare earth to a 
hair mattress. I've slept in spare beds 
an' contracted rheumatism ; in straw beds, 
which left their mark on me for days ; in 
feather beds, that gave me the asthma, 
and in beds so hard that I'd bruise myself 
every time I'd turn over. 

But the wildest night I ever passed was 
in the bunk of a farmer's cabin, one hot 
moonlight night in August, when I was 
on a collectin' trip for the firm. 

There was a country store that failed, 
owin' us a lot of money. In the distri 
bution of assets, a small farm fell to our 
141 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

share, and the old man said to me one 
day: 

" George," he said, " I want you to 
take a run out in the country an' look up 
that farm, for I don't know whether it's 
worth the taxes or not." 

I found the neighborhood all right, but 
I'm hanged if I could find the farm. No 
body seemed to know anything about it, 
and the section was so thinly settled that 
there wasn't many people to ask. 

Well, I drove around all day, inquirin' 
here an' there, wherever I found a cabin, 
but, as I said, without success. Sunset 
found me far from the nearest village an' in 
a mighty poor humor ; but I was used to 
hard luck an' mean jobs in them days, 
and was accustomed to make the best of 
bad bargains. 

I'd travelled for fully half an hour with 
out sightin' a human bein', so when I 
come out of a pine grove full on a log 
shanty, I swear the cabin looked handsome 
to me. 

142 



TALE OF A STRANGE BED 

I pulled up before the door an' halloed. 

A man stepped to the entrance, wipin' 
his face with a towel. 

"Hello!" says I. 

< Hello ! " says he. 

" Can you tell me where I am ? " says I. 

" You're on the Gore road, six miles 
from Aiken an' p'inted due east," says he. 

" Thank you," says I. " I didn't know 
but the bad place was somewhere's here 
around, and I'd a notion of puttin' up 
there for the night." 

"It's hot enough 'most anywhere else 
to-night," says he. " But if you ain't too 
particular you might come in an' have 
supper with us we was just settin' down 
for they tell me the c Old Boy ' ain't a 
particular good provider," and the man 
grinned. He'd certain a vein of humor 
in him. 

" Did you ever hear of the Willoughby 
farm ? " says I. 

" I have," says he. 

My spirits rose at once. 

H3 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

"You're the man I've been lookin' for 
all day," says I. "They told me there 
was just one man in the county that knew 
that the world was round, and I thank 
God I've found him." 

The man still stood in the door, mop- 
pin' his face an' grinnin'. 

" Where is this farm ? " says I. 

"That's a long story," says he, " for it's 
what I call a lost farm, and will take a 
land surveyor to find it, bein' situated on 
the Gore between the seventh an' eighth 
concessions." 

" Could you point it out ? " says I. 

" I could show you a part of it," says 
he. 

"Then," says I, jumpin' from the 
buggy, " you're my man ; and if you can 
put me up for the night, we could look 
up the farm in the mornin'." 

The man helped me unhitch, and we 

soon had the horse put up. Then we 

went into the house. It was a log cabin 

of only one room, and about as primitive 

144 



TALE OF A STRANGE BED 

an affair as you'd find in a year's travel. 

The man's wife was inside gettin' sup 
per. I remember the meal was rhubarb 
sauce an' bread an' butter, chiefly a 
mighty poor meal ; and I wondered that 
such a clever-talkin' man would be con 
tent with such poverty. 

After supper me an' him went outside 
and seated ourselves on a bench to have 
a smoke, while the woman washed up the 
things. 

" How in the world," says I to him, 
" do you come to be back here in this God 
forsaken place ? " 

The man took his pipe from between 
his teeth an' looked cautiously toward the 
cabin door. Seein' that his wife was 
busily engaged, he turned to me an' 
said : 

" I don't wonder that you ask me, but 
the reason I'm here is very simple. She 
an' me is happier here than in any other 
place in the world." 

"What's the story?" says I. 

H5 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

He looked at me keenly. "You're a 
total stranger in these parts, be you ? " 
says he. 

" Never was here before an' never will 
be again," says I. 

" Then I don't mind tellin' you," says 
he, " for God knows it does my heart 
good to talk with a townsman once again." 

" You're a city man born, then ? " says I. 

" Aye," says he. " I was born in the 
biggest city this side 'o London." 

"New York?" says I. 

" Yes," says he, " in New York. I 
was born an' raised in New York. Damn 
it forever an' ever, amen ! " 

He said this reverently, raisin' his eyes 
to the sky, which was sparklin' bright 
with stars. 

"You ain't stuck on the city, I would 
judge? " says I. 

" I don't want to ever see a city again," 
says he. 

He sat for some minutes meditatin', 
and I see there was a mighty interestin' 
146 



TALE OF A STRANGE BED 

story at the tip of his tongue, but I 
thought best not to urge him. 

" You see that full moon comin' up 
over the trees ? " he says after a bit, 
"rollin' up, rollin' up, big as a house 
a-fire ? She's careenin' up just like that 
out of the sea an' crawlin' over the tall 
buildin's in New York this very minute. 
What does she see here ? Fields of 
stumps an' stones, a big forest, and right 
here a little log cabin. What kind of 
people does she see ? A man as loves his 
wife better'n his immortal soul, and a 
woman who'd go to hell for her husband 
any day. I ain't speakin' of you, of 
course. She sees us here, earnin' our 
livin' by the hardest kind of hard work, 
but honest an' happy. 

"What does she see in New York? 
the part where I was born an' bred ? 
Misery an' woe ; vice that you dasn't 
mention ; human sewage; beer guzzlin'; 
foul-talkin* men, women an' children. 

" I was born in a room over a rum- 

147 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

shop. In a city of schools I never had a 
day's schoolin'. I was taught to steal an' 
to lie. My father I never knew. My 
mother give me to a Jew woman an' 
run away God knows where. I sold 
papers ; I blacked boots ; I stole on sight. 
I was four times on the Island before I 
was eighteen. 

" She," noddin' toward the cabin 
" come up with me, side by side. She 
was also a nameless kid. We fed to 
gether as children on doorsteps an' slept 
together in odds an' ends of corners. She 
sold papers, too, and scrubbed out saloons 
at odd times. Whenever I come from 
the Island she was sure to be on the 
wharf to meet me ; and we loved each 
other as no two kids ever loved before 
outside the story books. At least I think 
so. Well, the last time I come out I was 
always sent up for swipin' somethin' or 
other, she met me as usual an' says to 
me: f Jimmy,' she says, * we're goin' 
away.' f Where ?' says I. ' To the place 
148 



TALE OF A STRANGE BED 

where there ain't nobody at all,' says she. 
c Come along,' says she. 

"An' we went. Due north we went, 
as ragged a pair of tramps as ever you 
see. We both spent the winter in jail as 
vagrants, but in the spring we started 
again, and kept due north till we crossed 
the St. Lawrence an' come into Canada. 
We thought sure there would be nobody 
in Canada, but there was. So we kept 
pushin' back till we come to this identical 
spot, on a Gore road, between townships, 
and right at the edge of this pine grove 
we settled down. 

" We didn't know who owned the land, 
and ain't positive now, but we guessed it 
must be county land taken for taxes. We 
had seventeen dollars that we'd begged an* 
hung on to, and with this we got together 
enough to make a start. Then we built 
this cabin, log by log, and when it was 
done we spruced up the best we could an' 
went over to the village an' got married, 
for before we'd always lived like brother 

149 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

an' sister. I give the min'ster a dollar, 
but he handed it back to me. He was a 
decent kind of feller. 

" No, I s'pose you never heard of a 
poorer couple than we be. We've been 
years here, and we've worked like beavers, 
but you see, the land's so terrible poor 
an' thin that the yield is small. But we've 
enough to eat an' drink, and the clothes 
we need is of the commonest kind, for we 
never go beyond the limits of this clearin' 
'cept now an' then to the store. We're 
just as happy, however, as the day is 
long, and no money would tempt me to 
leave this spot. 

" If I was worth a million to-day, I'd 
build me a better house an' get some 
farmin' tools which I actually need, and 
then I'd found a home for orphans. Me 
an' Maggie often talk it over; we've had 
our fill of the city. We're quite religious, 
too. Maggie can read real well, and Sun 
days she reads to me from the Bible, and 
between us we've fixed up a religion to 
150 



TALE OF A STRANGE BED 

suit our case. It's founded on one verse, 
* Blessed are the pure in heart, for they 
shall see God.' " 

Now wasn't that a funny story to hear 
away back there in the woods ! It's a 
caution what odd people there are in the 
world. 

When it come bed-time I begun to 
wonder where they was goin' to put me 
up, for there seemed to be only one room. 
But this difficulty was overcome by the 
woman, who fixed up a screen of grain 
bags before her bunk. My bed was made 
up on the floor. 

The man an' I stayed outside till she got 
to bed ; then we turned in for the night. 
The strange story he'd told me kept me 
awake thinkin' it over, and the moonlight 
shone in through the winder directly on 
my face ; so it was pretty hard to drop off 
to sleep. I did drop into a doze after a 
bit, however, but I was awakened by a 
desire to scratch. I seemed literally cov 
ered with fleas. Now, one flea is enough 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

to make an ordinary man wild, but when 
it comes to seventy-five hundred million 
pesky fleas dancin' over your helpless 
body, and every now an' then stoppin' to 
take a nip well, no words can describe it. 

I sat up an' looked about. Sweet slum 
ber held the waifs of New York, as their 
harmonious snorin' denoted. The moon 
light filled the room. Outside I could 
hear the soft summer wind purring through 
the pines. 

" There's the place for me," I says to 
myself, and tiptoed noiselessly to the 
door. My gosh ! how the fleas bit ! 
Once outside the house I tore off my 
shirt, and turnin' it inside out, slapped it 
against the corner of the cabin, in hopes 
of dislodgin' a few of my tormenters. 
Just then I heard a gruesome " whoop ! 
whoop ! " and turnin', saw two long-eared 
deer hounds puttin' for me from the 
direction of the barn. 

Say ! it didn't take me long to get round 
the corner of that shanty. But the hounds 
152 



TALE OF A STRANGE BED 

was on my trail. I hoped to reach the 
door before them, but the pace was too 
hot for me when I got 'round front, for 
had I paused a moment, they'd have been 
upon me. So I grabbed my shirt tight 
an' dug in my toes as I reached a corner. 

" Whoop ! whoop ! " the hounds come 
on. I could turn quicker'n they, and I 
gained slightly. The woodyard was just 
at the rear of the cabin, and as I sailed 
round this side, my poor feet suffered 
from the sharp chips. The hounds seemed 
in fine fettle an' come on bravely, every 
second breath lettin' out a whoop ! whoop ! 
that 'ud lift the hair of a stuffed cat. 

My breath was givin' out an' I felt that 
" dog meat " was to be my fate. The 
hounds grew cunnin', and twisted them 
selves 'round the corners like a band-saw. 
Say ! I must have been goin' a mile a 
minute 'bout that time. I never'll have 
any great respect for the speed of deer 
hounds again. But they can holler. Law 
me ! it's the most terrible sound you ever 

1 S3 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

heard, and think of two of 'em right at 
your heels an' you naked as the day you 
was born ! Gosh ! it gives me the shivers 
even now ! 

Well, as I flew 'round that shanty for 
the hundred an' fortieth time, I caught a 
glimpse of two white-robed people standin' 
in the door an' heard 'em holler at the 
hounds as I passed. The door was open 
behind 'em. When I come 'round again I 
swung out slightly so's to make a good 
turn, and dashed into the cabin with the 
yell of a wild Injun. 

I had the sheet ofF the bed and around 
me before the woman had picked herself 
up, for I'd keeled her over as I entered. 
I don't believe that couple ever had as 
good a laugh in their lives as they had 
then, and them two dum hounds stood 
waggin' their tails in the doorway. 

But it was no laughin' matter for me. 
My feet was all cut up an' bled like every 
thing. Seein' my condition, they stopped 
laughin' for a minute or so an' bathed 

'54 



TALE OF A STRANGE BED 

my feet. But even as they was bindin' 
up my sores I could hear 'em sniggle to 
'emselves. 

There was no more sleep that night, 
and strangest of all no more fleas nary 
a flea. I must have scart 'em out of the 
cabin. We sat there in the moonlight 
an' talked religion till the sun come up. 
You never heard such talk as that man 
and woman put up. Hang it ! I some 
times think they had it about right, for 
what they did believe in was the Simon 
pure article. 

Now, where do you think I found the 
Willoughby farm to be when I looked 
the next day ? Why, right under my 
feet ! The couple had squatted on it. 

" Be you goin' to put us off? " says 
they to me with big eyes, when I told 
'em the facts. 

" It's a lost farm," says I in reply, 
takin' up the reins, " and you've found it. 
In Canada," says I, " findin' is keepin', 
and the farm's yours forever an' ever." 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

Then I drove off, after givin' the 
woman a dollar. 

I told the old man all about it when I 
got back to town. 

" You did right, George," he says, 
"quite right. But see that the farm is 
deeded to them properly, so that I won't 
have to pay the taxes." 

He'd a queer mixture of good an' bad 
in him, had the old man. He'd dicker 
up to the very edge of the pit, but you'd 
find him at church Sunday mornin'. 



The Cold Girl from Bald 
Mountain 

One day I got a telegram at Tamworth 
to hurry to Tweed to attend Division 
Court there on a case I knew all about. 

It was in January, and cold. Well, 
cold ain't no name for it. It was thirty 
below if a point, and I wrapped up for 
the occasion. I had one of them old- 
fashioned Scotch shawls about twenty 
feet long an' four wide, you know ; lots 
of people had 'em them days, and this 
shawl I wrapped 'round my shoulders an' 
body over my ulster, so that the cold 
didn't have much chance to get at me. I 
wore a warm pair of woolen gloves, and 
over them a heavy pair of fur gloves with 
big gauntlets, but even then my hands 
would grow numb if I didn't keep 

157 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

poundin' 'em on my knees. I had a rat- 
tlin' good horse for a long, fast trip ; as 
tough a beast an' as brave-hearted as ever 
drew a cutter out of a pitch-hole without 
stickin' his heels through the dasher. 

But he had one fault : He interfered 
bad, and whenever he struck, it evident 
ly hurt the poor cuss, for he'd go off 
on three legs for a spell like a dog. It 
used to make me awful mad, for he'd be 
sure to make an exhibition of himself 
just when we was enterin' a village, and I 
was sensitive about my rigs always. Pads 
or nothin' 'ud do him any good, until I 
hit upon the plan of givin' him one hard 
swipe with the whip along the back the 
moment he struck. This did all very well 
for a time, and then a worse evil resulted. 
He come to know that a swipe of the 
whip follered each strike, and to avoid 
this, the moment his heels knocked to 
gether he'd dart into the air like a cannon 
ball an' run for all he was worth, until he 
felt certain the whip had been forgotten. 
158 



THE COLD GIRL 

He was a good, game horse, but he did 
have his faults. 

Well, this day I left Tamworth in the 
early mornin' an' started due north for 
Tweed. The sun shone round an' yellow 
as a gold dollar, and with no more warmth 
in it than a pancake three days old. The 
snow was very deep an' the road full of 
pitch-holes, so it kept me well shaken up. 

About two miles this side of a little 
Irish village I come upon a girl walkin' 
in the same direction I was goin'. She 
stepped out into the snow to let me pass, 
but I hauled up, and throwin' down the 
buffalo robe, said curtly : 

"Jump in if you want a ride." 

She wasn't slow in complyin', and I 
drove on without another word. I had 
my face wound 'round with a muffler, so 
that I could only see straight ahead, and 
I didn't feel much like talkin'. 

When we'd left the village behind us, I 
asked her where she was goin'. She named 
a settlement some ten miles further along. 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

" Where've you come from ? " I asked 
again. 

" From the Bald Mountings," says she, 
in a low voice. 

" Dum cold place ! " says I. 

"It is," says she; "very cold at the 
Mounting." 

"Walked?" says I. 

" Yessir all the way," says she. 

" Been workin' out ? " says I. 

" No goin' to," says she. 

" Hard times at the Mountain ? " I 
says. 

"Awful hard," says she, and shivered. 
Then I felt her shake all over. I looked 
at her in the face. She wasn't bad-lookin' 
by a jug full, but her lips was blue an' her 
teeth was chatterin'. 

" Great Scott ! ' 'says I, " you're freezin' 
to death ! " 

" I AM cold," says she. 

I unwound the Scotch shawl from about 
me, and biddin' her stand up, I wrapped 
that shawl about her from her head to her 
1 60 



THE COLD GIRL 

knees. Then I gave her my inside pair 
of mittens, and she looked more comfort 
able. 

I drove on for a few miles in silence, 
and then inquired : 

" Feelin' warmer ? " 

" Fine an' warm now," says she. 

I could see her eyes glistenin' above 
the shawl. Over the hills we went, the 
snow cracklin' like breakin' glass. Gosh ! 
it was terrible cold ! How that girl had 
endured to walk all the way from Bald 
Mountain in a thin calico gown, with a 
half-worn pair of mittens an' light boots, 
was more'n I could tell. 

" She's good grit," I thought, for she 
sat there beside me an' would have frozen 
stiff before sayin' she was cold. 

" They grow good stock at the Bald 
Mountain," I said to myself, and at that 
moment my horse struck. In a second 
he sprung forward, crazy with pain an' 
fear. I saw my companion fly back over 
the seat like a stone from a catapult. But 
161 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

I had no time to think of her fate, for in 
a moment more the cutter struck a pitch- 
hole an' I found myself sprawlin' in the 
snow. 

I quickly pulled myself together an' 
started back to look up my lady from 
Bald Mountain. I didn't worry about 
the horse. He'd prob'ly stop after he got 
tired. 

Now, say ! I don't want you to laugh, 
for it really. was no laughin' matter. Re 
member, the girl was poor an' was goin' 
to work out. I did laugh, myself, I must 
own ; but I hadn't oughter. 

You know, she was all tied up in that 
shawl, wound 'round an' 'round like a 
'Gyptian mummy, her arms close to her 
sides. 

Well, when she was jerked back 
wards out of the cutter she reversed, so to 
speak, and come down head on, right into 
the soft, fleecy snow, sinkin' in almost to 
her knees. That was the condition in 
which I found her. One foot hung down 
162 



THE COLD GIRL 

kinder helpless like, but the other stuck 
up in the air there like a signal of distress, 
and feebly twisted about. Darned if it 
wasn't one of the comicalest things you 
ever see ! There she was stuck like a 
post in the snow, and it didn't take me 
many seconds to get her out. 

I just grabbed her 'bout the legs an' 
yanked. She came out kerflop, but just 
about smothered. She'd had on a straw 
hat with a narrow rim an' one red feather, 
and now all that was to be seen of this 
hat was the rim, and this was about her 
neck. 

I stood her up an' dug the snow out 
of her face an' hair. All the time I could 
hear her mumblin' behind the shawl. 
Then I unwound her, and no sooner was 
her arms free than she grabbed that shawl, 
and slammin' it down in the road, stamped 
on it, her eyes flashin'. 

"You villain!" she cried. "You did 
it a-purpose ! " 

" For the love of Heaven ! " says I, 
163 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

" be calm. What in the world is the 
matter with you ? " 

" You did it a-purpose ! " she fairly 
yelled again. 

" Did what a-purpose ? " says I. 

" You villain ! " she snorted. " Wrap- 
pin' me' round an' 'round with that shawl 
just so I'd be throwed out an' make a 
show of myself ! " 

The joke of the thing struck me all of 
a sudden. She thought I'd deliberately 
upset her in the snow. I laughed aloud, 
and this made her so mad that she fairly 
danced. 

" Where is my hat ? " she cried " where 
is my feather ? " 

I pointed to the rim about her neck. 
This fresh disaster made her more 
furious. 

"Find my feather ! " she moaned. "Find 
my pretty feather ! " 

I crawled into the hole she made in the 
snow bank, and after a bit rescued the 
feather. She snatched it from my hand 
164 



THE COLD GIRL 

angrily. I tried to pacify her, but she 
wouldn't have it. She wouldn't wear the 
shawl. She threw my gloves at me, and 
swore she'd freeze, but she would go no 
further with me. 

I saw it was no use, so I picked up my 
poor shawl and gloves, and like the per 
petrator of some great crime, slunk away 
from offended innocence. The girl really 
was a terrible fool. 

I found my horse all right about a 
quarter of a mile ahead he havin' been 
stopped by a wood-sleigh. 

About two years after that I happened 
to be in Tweed one day, when a woman 
with a broad grin on her face stopped me 
on the street an' said : 

" Don't you know who I be ? " 

"You've got me there," says I. 

" I'm the girl from Bald Mountings," 
says she, showin' her teeth. 

Say ! It's a caution what wonderful 
teeth you'll find in the back townships. 

"That may be," says I, " but I'm un- 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

acquainted with the aristocracy of that 
locality," I says in a good-natured tone. 

" Don't you remember the ride we had 
that cold winter's day ?" says she, and 
looked fair into my face. 

It come to me like a flash. She watched 
the smile come into my eyes, an' I re 
membered the occasion. 

" I thought you was pretty mad with 
me," says I, with a grin. 

" I was, for a long time," says she, 
" but I made up my mind, after a bit, it 
wasn't your fault, and that you was really 
very kind to me." 

" How did you ever get out of there 
alive?" says I. 

" I did freeze my ears," she says, " but 
I footed it all the way." 

"Workin' here?" I inquired. 

" No, I'm married now," says she, with 
out the least bashfulness. " My man 
runs a livery stable, and he says he knows 
you real well. When I told him, he 
says : f Yes, I know George, everybody 
1 66 



THE COLD GIRL 

knows George. There ain't the least par 
ticle of harm in George. He only likes 
a good joke.' ' 

Then I thought of that left foot twistin' 
about in the air, and I come to the con 
clusion that her man had sized me up 
about right. 



The Calgary Poet 

If there ever was a feller completely 
lost in the world, it was a young chap I run 
across out in Calgary, one Christmas week, 
when I was snowed in there. 

I was travellin' for a Montreal firm 
then, and used to get 'round to Calgary 
about once a year. A remarkable little 
town is that, but a most terrible lonesome 
place in which to be snowbound. 

This young feller who I'm tellin' you 
about was clerk in the post-office out there. 
A tall, lanky, awkward chap he was, with 
clear, big, brown eyes an' as pleasant a 
face as you ever want to see. Me an' him 
was friends the minute we set eyes on one 
another, and every night after office hours 
he'd come down to the hotel an' play 
checkers with me for a while, and then 
168 



THE CALGARY POET 

we'd drift into tellin' yarns about when 
we was little fellers, for it was Christmas 
week, you know, when one is always a bit 
soft-hearted if he amounts to shucks in 
the world, and, as it turned out, the post- 
office chap was a farmer boy, too, born 
an' raised in New Hampshire. How he 
come to drift out to Calgary he never told 
me, and I forgot to ask him. 

Well, sir, I told him all about me an' 
Ed an' Jane, and the fun we used to have 
together, and he'd sit an' listen, them big 
eyes of his drinkin' it all in. I never 
told a yarn to any one who enjoyed it 
more. 

Ed, you know, died just when he'd come 
to be a young man an' full of promise, 
and when I told the chap about him, and 
how he used to play the fiddle by the 
hour an' make up fairy stories, his eyes 
glistened a bit, and I kinder felt queer 
myself. 

Say ! You'd oughter known Ed. He 
was all right. I've met many fellers up 
169 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

an* down the country good an' bad 
but I never met any one, man, woman or 
child, that I liked as I did him. Father 
an' mother an' Jane, they was all dear to 
me ; but Ed well, now you know, I 
can't just put it the way I want to. 

You see, we was boys together on the 
old farm, and us two kids was all there 
was in the big world. We didn't know 
nothin' about anybody else. The world 
was made for us alone, and we roamed up 
an' down the face of that farm, never darin' 
to go beyond the line fence, (for father 
had forbid us), just a-wonderin' and 
a-findin' out. 

You'd ought to a-heard Ed tellin' me 
an' Jane about Hell. It would be on a 
warm summer evenin', when the sun 
went down red an' the three of us 'ud be 
settin' on the rail fence at the head of the 
lane, while the folks did the milkin'. He'd 
begin soft an' shivery about the sun, and 
would lead on to the judgment day when 
Gabriel would blow his horn, and the 
170 



THE CALGARY POET 

earth 'ud be burnt up an' the dead would 
all stand before God the good people on 
the right hand an' the bad people on the 
left. Jane 'ud be blubberin' by this time, 
but that was what Ed liked. Then he'd 
have us in the lake of fire an' brimstone, 
and describe the Old Boy standin' on the 
brink, gnashin' his teeth at us, till even 
he got scart himself, and we'd creep to the 
house a-holdin' hands Jane in the mid 
dle and hang 'round mother, not darin' 
to go to bed in the dark. 

My! What an imagination Ed did 
have ! If he'd only lived, he'd made a name 
for himself sure. There wasn't anything 
one knew that the other didn't. We liked 
the same things to eat, and what the one 
had the other had to have, or there'd been 
a row. 

I remember once father brought me 
home a pair of plug boots, with blue tops 
an' copper toes, but I'll tell you about 
that another time. We used to fight an' 
quarrel between us, me an' Ed, but it 
171 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

didn't take long to forget all about it. 
When I got into dispute with the boys at 
school I was a great feller for arguin' 
about an' darin' 'em to do this an' that 
before comin' to fists. I never really took 
to fightin' at school, not bein' naturally 
clever at it ; but Ed was a holy terror. 
Just let a boy pitch into me, and he was 
at him like a cat, cryin' to beat the band 
an' smashin' right an' left. Why, he'd 
lick a feller twice his size in two shakes 
of a lamb's tail, he was that furious. There 
wasn't anything to do but to run, and he 
was such a little feller, too. 

When we growed up we wasn't so com 
municative to one another, but our hearts 
was just the same, and when he died, 
well, now you know, it just mellered me 
down, and I've been a bit soft-hearted 
ever since. 

I run on just like this to the Calgary 

chap, and he'd set an' listen just as I told 

you. Well, one night I told him about 

a time when father an' mother had gone 

172 



THE CALGARY POET 

to prayer meetin' of a winter's night, and 
me an' Ed an' Jane was left all alone, and 
how Ed got out his riddle, which he dasn't 
play when father was about, fiddles 
bein' considered wicked, and played to 
me an' Jane just whatever come in his 
head. 

Ed must certainly a-been a wonder with 
the riddle, for, as I told this chap, one 
time years after, when I was in Boston, I 
went to hear a feller play who had the 
name of bein' the crack fiddler of the 
world. And he was an almighty good 
player, too, but he couldn't make the 
fiddle talk the way Ed could. Jane could 
back me up in this. Why say! When 
he'd shut his eyes an' play " Robin 
Adair," your soul 'ud go right out of 
you, and you'd wake up when he was 
done with your mouth wide open. 

The next evenin', after we'd played a 
few games of checkers, my Calgary friend 
took a piece of paper from his pocket an' 
handed it to me, kinder sheepish like. 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

" It's about Ed's playin' to you an' 
Jane," he said. 

I took the paper an' glanced it over. 
It was poetry, done in a neat, round hand, 
as plain as print. Here's the identical 
piece in my pocket-book now. Kind of 
rusty, ain't it? but it's his writin', just 
as he put the words down in his bedroom 
that night in Calgary. 

THE LITTLE FIDDLE ED PLAYED ON 

Sarsarty was the fiddler's name, 
An' he could play, 
Well, I should say ! 
'Twas a whole circus an' a shinny game 

To hear him make that fiddle talk, 
An' laugh an' cry's if like to die; 

He made it dance, he made it walk, 
He made it sing, he made it sigh ; 
He sent the notes clear up to Mary, 
An' then way down to the Old Harry; 
He knew no doubt what he was about; 

He fairly set me cryin' once, 
An' then he made me laugh right out 

I felt as sheepish as a dunce. 
But arter all is said an' done 

Arter all the fine notes he 'ud take 
'Twan't no sech music's Ed 'ud make 

With the little fiddle he played on. 

174 



THE CALGARY POET 

That was the cutest little fiddle ! 
It was as black 
As a factory stack 
It allers seemed ter me a riddle 

Where all them pretty sounds 'ud stay, 
They was so sweet, so shy, so neat; 

An' then the way that Ed 'ud play ! 
There wa'n't nobody but 'ud say, 

When round the dancers gaily went, 
" Tip 'm the wink an' he could beat 

The man as made the instrument." 
It was delicious jes' to feel 
The bow a-tunin' off a reel 
Back an' for'ard, toe an' heel, 
Your eye a-dancin' with your feet, 
Your partner lookin' flushed an' sweet; 
Not a false step, not a break, 
Sech was the music Ed 'ud make 

With the little fiddle he played on. 

But in the chimney-corner, home 
A winter night, 
By candle light, 
The sweetest music seemed to come. 

You'd hear the water laughin', dancin', 
The birds 'ud sing, the sleigh-bells ring; 

You'd fairly see the horses prancin', 
An' then so low, so sweet an' slow, 

You'd hear the fairies in the air 

A-singin' to 'emselves up there 
A verse each time he drawed the bow; 

An' Jane an' me, aside his knee, 
'Ud sit an' cry an' laugh together, 

An' watch the flickerin' in the fire, 

175 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

An' speculate an' wonder whether 

The angels in the holy choir, 
From their gold harps sech notes 'ud shake, 
As the lovely music Ed 'ud make 

With the little fiddle he played on. 

'Tain't real awful bad, is it? You 
know, I don't show this to many people, 
for they wouldn't appreciate it, not know- 
in' Ed an' his style of playin'; but you'll 
understand. Now, I ain't no poet, or 
ever expect to be, and I don't know good 
from bad, but this here bit of paper is 
gold and diamonds to me, for that Calgary 
feller just saw right into my heart, and 
put down on paper feelin's I could never 
express. Here's another. I'll show you 
this, seein' as you liked the first. 

I WANT TER GO BACK HOME 

The city's way ain't mine, nor it wa'n't Ed's way, neither, 
The air here never smelt a bit home-like to either; 
Fer Ed, you know, an' me was farmer boys, an' grew 
Where the old New England hills stare right up through 
The topsa'l clouds at Heaven. We lads was brothers, 
Never knew a wrangle, fer what was one's was t'others; 
An' when hard luck an' taxes jes' driv us off the land, 
We went right out'n the world, a-hand a-holt o' hand. 

I 7 6 



THE CALGARY POET 

We knocked about consi'drable, but only fer a spell, 
An' I'd jes' a-got a-thinkin' 'at all was goin' well, 
When Ed well, Ed he sez to me "George, come ! 
" I want ter go back home ! " 

Ed was a han'some feller's ever you'd wish to see; 
Eyes and hair's black's a coal, and figger straight's a tree. 
Two years younger'n me an' everyone took to him quick, 
If gittin' loved ain't nat'ral, Ed sartainly knew the trick. 
But he worked too hard an' went completely down in a 

heap; 

Couldn't eat nor nothin', 'ud wake so quick in his sleep 
An' set bolt up, while his eyes 'ud wildly roam, 
'S he'd say "George," he'd say, so wistful like to me, 
" I want ter go back home ! " 

What's a feller to do with his brother a-sayin' that 

In the pleadin'est kind o' way? I could only gently pat 

His hot head with my hand, for I knowed (an' it hurt me 

sore), 
It wa'n't no use to say a word there wa'n't no home no 

more ! 

The typhoid fever had 'im, he didn't know none he see; 
He'd call his friends queer names, but allers say George 

to me. 
I never left him a minit, though it hurt clean through to 

hear 

The way he'd keep a talkin' 'bout old times held so dear, 
An' things I'd haft fergotten, an' ev'ry once an' awhile 
His eyes 'ud snap an' sparkle he'd grab my hand an' 

smile 
The beseechin'est smile, as he'd say "Come ! George, 

come ! 

" I want ter go back home ! " 

I 77 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

Sometimes right in the night he'd wake me out o' a drowse; 
"Git ready, George," he'd say, "we must be fetchin' the 

cows; 

"Chokecherries's ripe's you'd wish 'em up erlong the lane; 
"The cows ain't fer away I kin hear old Mulley plain, 
" A-ringin' her bell. I'll run you from here to the 

shed." 
Then I'd drop plum down at his side an' cry, " Fer God's 

sake, Ed, 
" Let up, er you'll break my heart ! " But he didn't know 

a thing. 
"I hate this water," he'd say. "Fetch me a drink from 

the spring, 

" Er a cup o' Limeback's milk I see the rich cream foam. 
" Say ! George what are we stayin' here for ? 
" I want ter go back home ! " 

He jes' went down by inches; I knowed he had to go, 
An' I braced myself to meet it, though a -man's but a man, 

you know. 
Say ! What's the love o' Heaven, when all is done an' 

said, 

'Side o' the love o' brothers who've allers had one bed ? 
He went quite suddint at last; he was talkin' the same old 

way, 

'Bout helpin' me cut the wood so's both o' us could play; 
When his face lit up the sweetes' I ever hope to see, 
An' he squeezed my hand an' "George," he says to me 
"The pussy willer's blossomin', the egg plum's all erblow; 
" Red-finned suckers in the creek's all o' 'em on the go; 
" Same old robin's buildin' her nest in the silver maple's 

limb; 
" I long to git my boots off an' go in fer a swim; 

I 7 8 



THE CALGARY POET 

"Listen them birds tweedlin! how splendid fresh an' 

sweet 
"Them lilacs smell ! I swan if that there bob-o-link don't 

beat 

" The grandes' choir fer music !" An' then he riz an' threw 
Himself right in my arms. "Oh, George," he says, "it's 

you ! 

" I hear the bells a-ringin' in the old church dome 
" I want ter go back home ! " 

It's many a year since I buried Ed a-side o' dad an' mam; 
I've tried to fit these new ways, but I am jes' what I am. 
These songs I hear ain't ha'f 's sweet's what the birds 'ud 

sing, 

I want ter smell them lilacs, I want a drink from the spring; 
I want ter hear the water laugh in the rapids in the creek, 
I want ter see old "Darb " ag'in, so lazy, fat an' slick; 
I want ter hear the wind at night a-sobbin' thro' the trees, 
I want ter feel complete erlone, with God 's all who sees; 
I want ter see them graves up there, as placid as their dead, 
I want ter say my prayers ag'in an' go to bed with Ed. 
Fer my heart's up there in the hills, no odds how fur I roam 
I want ter go back home ! 

This is my favorite, and you can better 
believe it struck a tender spot in my heart. 

I met a feller once in the train between 
Toronto and Winnipeg, and got to talkin' 
with him. He was a college professor 
down at McGill in Montreal, and thinkin' 
he would be a good judge of poetry, I 
179 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

showed him them two pieces an' asked 
his opinion, not sayin' a word of my con 
nection with 'em. 

"Well," says he, " the woods is full of 
this kind of stuff maudlin sentiment. 
Give a man," says he, " a soft heart an' a 
woman's liver, and he'll flood the press 
with this kind of poetry." 

I felt kinder taken back, but I kept my 
temper an' asked him: 

" What kind of poetry is good poetry ? " 
says I. 

" Good poetry," says he," " is beautiful 
and artistic conceptions expressed in pol 
ished English." You see, I remember it 
word for word. " Good poetry," says he, 
goin' on, " is divine an inspiration to the 
cultivated mind. This stuff," says he, 
handin' me back my poor verses, " is just 
silly gush." 

Say ! That was a staggerer to me, and 

I thought he had me. But when I got 

to Winnipeg I set down in my own room 

an' hauled out the poetry an' read it over 

1 80 



THE CALGARY POET 

careful. " Blame ! " says I, to myself, "it 
reads smooth enough an' it certainly was 
just as everything happened." And I 
made up my mind then an' there that the 
poetry, or the paintin', or the scenery 
that touched your heart an' made a better 
man of you was good enough for me, and 
that I'd stick by my Calgary poet through 
thick and thin. 

You can see for yourself that every line 
means somethin'. He's worked in a lot 
of the stuff I told him, and some parts 
ain't strictly true. For instance, in the 
first verse he says, " Where the old 
New England hills," an' so forth. We 
was Canada boys, me an' Ed, and I asked 
him why he " worked " in " New Eng 
land." 

" Well," says he, " I got the idea in 
my head of the hills stickin' their noses 
up through the clouds, and I wanted to 
work it in. There ain't any high hills 
where you was born, but New England is 
full of 'em. Then I wanted the New 
181 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

England hills in any way, George," he 
says, kind of grinnin' foolish like, " for I 
was born up in North Conway, and I 
kinder like to celebrate them old mount 
ains when I get a chance." 

Here's the only other piece he wrote 
for me. He struck it off right under my 
nose in about ten minutes. 

DURIN' P'TRACTED MEETIN' 

Down in Carterville las' winter 
You know old Ebenezer Snider ? 

Nose on 'im jes' 's sharp's a splinter, 
Color o' nine-y'ar apple cider; 

Good preacher, though, 's ever you see, 

Sound at heart 's a white oak tree. 

Wall, to the p'int: As I was sayin', 
Eb was holdin' p'tracted meetin'; 

Had the hull district singin' an' prayin', 
An' gittin' converted. " Time was fleetin' 

Fast," he said, " 's a blue-winged pigeon," 

'S he hustled 'em up ter git religion. 

You know Jed Pringle's second daughter 
Bethilda? gal with sparklin' eyes ? 

Stout 's Jane, but a little shorter, 
Bang-up cook on cakes an' pies. 

Likelies' gal 'n the place, it's said, 

Face an' figger 'way ahead. 

182 



THE CALGARY POET 

Bethilda she sot 'mong the seekers, 

I sot over agin the wall; 
But Lord ! she couldn't keep them peckers 

O' her'n from wand'rin' 'round at all. 
Thar wa'n't 'nought else 's I could see 
Them eyes they jes' converted me. 

First thing I knowed I was sittin' 
'Side o' Bet on the pen'tent seat; 

'Tain't twice 'n a life a feller's gittin' 
So strong a call from eyes so sweet. 

Conviction er love, no matter whether, 

Bethilda an' I driv home together. 

Stars out bright an' moon a-beamin', 
Snow on the ground a-dazzlin' white; 

Clouds hangin' low in the west a-dreamin', 
Never see a perfecter night. 

So pure was the earth an' sky above, 

You couldn't resist a-talkin' love. 

Give me a hoss as feels his feedin', 
Head right up an' feet a-flyin' ; 

A hoss 's won't disgrace his breedin', 
Trot ter win if he was dyin' ; 

A hoss 's don't need much command, 

So's a feller kin drive with jes' one hand. 

" Wall," I sez, "Bethilda Bet," sez I, 

A-feelin' my way each word, you see, 
An' puttin' a p'int ter all, so sly : 
" S'pose you allers ride home with me ? " 
Heard the man chuckle in the moon, 
As she whisper'd, "Jim, I'd jes' as soon." 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

The same old story jes' the same, 

Said in 'bout the same old way; 
But Eb he says it's a 'tarnal shame 

We didn't go for'ard from that day. 
Lost religion bad ter do it 
But we got married an' that's next to it. 

Did you ever hear the like of that ! It's 
old Ebenezer Snider to the life. Bethilda 
Pringle was the girl's name. I used to 
go to school with her. She was a beauty 
all right, and as full of the old scratch as 
the next one. Jim Vandewater is the 
feller who married her, and a dum good 
husband he made her, too. They're rich 
now, yes, got a three hundred-acre farm 
an' grown-up children. Bethilda an' Jim 
was tickled to death when I showed 'em 
this piece. Got a copy of it now in the 
family Bible. 

I tell you, that Calgary poet was cer 
tainly lost in the world. I read the poetry 
in the papers now an' then, and hope that 
some time I'll run across his name at the 
bottom of a piece. 

Jackson, that was his name, Arthur 

184 



THE CALGARY POET 

Jackson, Calgary, N. W. T. Did you 
ever see it ? No ? Well, I wish you had, 
for that feller had a heart in him an' a 
love of fun, and was as good a checker 
player as I ever run up against. 



The Willipers at Newport 

The most remarkable thing about a 
Rhode Island summer is the fact that the 
Sundays are, with rare exceptions, days of 
ideal beauty. It may rain on Saturday 
or on Monday, but on Sunday we expect 
to find a warm sun come out of the sea to 
the east of Block Island, followed by a 
gentle and invigorating breeze that is fully 
charged with vital gases. 

It was on one of these golden Sundays 
that Little Jack Williper took his father 
and mother to Newport to see the sights 
and incidentally to enjoy the sail on the 
" Day Star." 

Little Jack Williper had an imagina 
tion; his parents had none. This, of 
course, was owing to the fact that Nature 
was compelled to bestow upon Little Jack 
186 



THE WILLIPERS 

some wonderful gift to even up matters, 
for she had made a sad mess of his body, 
which was long where it should be short, 
and flat where it should be round. He 
had used crutches ever since he could 
hold himself upright, and like all lame 
children he made the most of his oppor 
tunities, and could get over the ground 
by means of these wooden legs at a sur 
prisingly rapid gait. His face was a study 
in interrogation points ; his eyes constantly 
asked questions ; the mouth, the ears 
in fact, every line in his face curved into a 
query. He was now sixteen years old 
(looking twelve), and sought knowledge, 
principally concerning kings, princes, 
dukes, and other gentlemen of title. This 
was owing to the course of reading he had 
taken, for when a mere child he had read a 
story about Peter the Great, and had been 
so fascinated with it that his constant re 
quest to his father for years had been to 
bring to him from the Public Library, 
books about the nobility. 

187 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

In consequence. Little Jack had an ex 
alted idea of life far beyond his station, 
for his father was a "dresser tender" in a 
cotton mill, a place where men work the 
year round in an atmosphere no degrees 
above zero, for 110.50 a week. His 
mother had been a spooler tender in the 
same mill, but since the birth of Little 
Jack she had ceased being a "new woman," 
and now did nothing outside save the 
sewing of "ready-made garments " for the 
" cheapest clothing house on earth." Mrs. 
Williper knew thoroughly the sound 
economic principle that to sell cheap one 
must buy cheap, and that to work for the 
" cheapest clothing house on earth," 
" benefactors of the masses," etc., meant 
36 cents a day, at most 40. 

Strange as it may appear, the home in 
which Little Jack lived with his father 
and mother never seemed to him the least 
bit mean or squalid. He never remem 
bered when there were no odds and ends 
of shoddy scattered over the floor, and 
188 



THE WILLIPERS 

unwashed dishes sitting on the table, for 
Mrs. Williper, being bred to a spooler 
and subsequently post -graduated at a 
sewing machine, had not found oppor 
tunity to cultivate housewifery, after the 
traditional New England fashion. 

Little Jack had a special chair by 
his own window, in which sat three half- 
starved geraniums, which annually brought 
forth as many more fragile flowers after 
severe travail. In this window seat he 
read his stories of kings, etc., sometimes 
to himself, but more often to his mother, 
who pretended to be delighted, and 
actually became interested in exciting 
places if Little Jack warned her in advance 
that something good was coming. And 
when he was not reading he sat in his 
window and thought, the result being that 
he quickly evolved an imaginative world, 
in which diamonds and gold were as stones 
are, and where ermine and purple and fine 
laces were the common garments of the 
day. He knew well every emperor or 
189 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

king, from Solomon to young Alexandria 
of Servia. He had wallowed in the " De 
cline and Fall of the Roman Empire" 
during his fourteenth and fifteenth years ; 
and so great was his exaltation of spirit 
after reading the resonant Gibbonian 
record of some stirring event, that at times 
his mother would declare that his face 
fairly shone. 

It was a handsome young man, with a 
Great Dane at his heels, who had given 
Little Jack Williper the five dollars, on 
the strength of which he had invited his 
parents to see Newport with him. This 
handsome young man, with the hand 
somer dog, had no excuse but idleness for 
walking through the little lane leading off 
Bull Dog Square, where the Willipers 
lived, and where he found Little Jack 
seated on the doorstep, reading. 

The peculiar and complete deformity 

of the child attracted him, and he stopped 

a moment to inquire what he was reading. 

It was Carlyle's " Frederick the Great," 

190 



THE WILLIPERS 

and Little Jack, hearing the request of 
this elegant young man, immediately gave 
a twitch to his face, which screwed into 
one symmetrical note of interrogation, and 
asked : 

" Do you really think f Frederick the 
Great ' was a bigger man than Napoleon 
Bonaparte ? " 

" Love of God ! " cried the strange 
young man, who straightway put his hand 
in his vest pocket, and finding a five-dol 
lar note, handed it to Little Jack with the 
remark : " Throw that rot away, sonny, 
and go down the river and breathe the 
fresh air. The book is too old for you." 

" But was he ? " persisted Little Jack. 

" Damned if I know," replied the young 
man, as he and the Great Dane continued 
their way. 

There are a dozen or so seats on the 
deck of the " Day Star " forward, which 
are extra choice. Three of these seats 
were secured by the Willipers, by follow 
ing the example of the early bird. Little 
191 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

Jack sat in the middle, with his father and 
mother, looking really grand in their Sun 
day best, on either side of him. 

Williper Pere was especially worthy of 
notice from the fact that he looked entirely 
happy, and yet not one single article of 
his clothing fitted him. His coat sleeves 
were too short ; his trousers suffered from 
the same affliction ; his collar was too big 
and his necktie roosted high. His face 
was white as chalk, consequent on the no 
degrees, and his hands had been dyed so 
many times that they were now a com 
posite shade, most nearly like old gold. 
Nevertheless this man Williper was a 
trusted employee, a kind and loving hus 
band and father, a man of great sympa 
thies, sober and industrious, but wholly 
ignorant. He was perfectly satisfied with 
his position in the world and with his 
family, and the world was as fully satis 
fied with him. Williper Pere was a grand 
success. 

Little Jack had been to Crescent Park 
192 



THE WILLIPERS 

and Rocky Point a number of times with 
his parents, and he had enjoyed the 
ravishing delights of those beautiful shore 
resorts, where all is fairyland for good 
people and children, and all tawdryness 
and debauchery for those who are neither 
young nor good. But his soul yearned 
for Newport, the city of palaces, the home 
of princes and the Mecca of millionaires. 
Neither his father nor mother had ever 
visited Newport, so they were also much 
interested in its possibilities. Then they 
had five dollars to spend, every cent of it 
to be dissipated before the return to Bull 
Dog Square, as per previous solemn 
agreement. 

Williper Mere had bought peanuts, 
freshly baked. The " Day Star " had not 
reached Field's Point before she brought 
the aforesaid peanuts from a wonderful 
bag which she always carried with her 
when she went great distances from home, 
like to the Public Market, to Shepard's, 
or " Down the Bay." This bag held 

193 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

lunch, popcorn, four apples, and the pea 
nuts. Little Jack liked peanuts, so did 
his mother and father, and so did every 
man, woman and child on the steamer; for 
soon above the roar of the machinery 
could be heard that ponderous crunching 
incident to 2,000 pairs of jaws coming to 
gether upon 2,000 peanuts at the same 
instant. Peanuts are the especial delight 
of Rhode Islanders. Clams have their 
season, so likewise have frost fish and 
blueberries, but peanuts are perennial. 

When the peanuts were consumed, the 
Willipers ate their lunch and the four 
apples, saving the popcorn for the beach. 
Incidentally they admired the scenery. 

There is only one living creature which 
has a greater admiration for nature, ex 
pressed in silence through the eyes, than the 
city wage-earner, and that is the cow, who, 
having eaten of the green grass as much 
as she desires, chews her cud and dream 
ily looks out upon the fields with love 
and adoration. The workingman is less 
194 



THE WILLIPERS 

demonstrative than the cow, but he cer 
tainly enjoys much. 

As the " Day Star" glided past Nayatt 
and Prudence, Williper Pere absorbed all 
the beauty of the scene, munched his pea 
nuts, and occasionally looked into the eyes 
of his wife. But he said no words. A 
highly educated man, seeing for the first 
time the wonderful beauties of Narragan- 
sett Bay thus unrolled, would have talked 
admiringly and entertainingly all the while 
to his companions, dilating on this and 
that especial charm. Beauty, like an elec 
tric shock, goes through such a man, ex 
hilarating every nerve for the moment. 
Williper Pere and the cow hold fast to 
impressions, and their lives are molded 
thereby. 

Arriving at Newport, the Willipers 
found seats in a large 'bus, whose driver 
agreed to take his patrons, for a modest 
fee, the entire ten-mile drive, and inci 
dentally to point out all the chief points 
of interest. 

'95 



Little Jack was in raptures, but strange 
to say, they had no sooner reached Belle- 
vue avenue, with its marble palaces and 
magnificent cottages, than his heart fell. 
He expected something far grander. Here 
was a city, and Little Jack had his mind 
made up to deer-stocked parks, in the 
midst of which stood immense baronial 
halls with towers and battlements. There 
were to be ponds with white swans floating 
upon them, and princes and princesses 
playing about, with their tutors and nurses 
standing guardian near at hand. Instead, 
here were only great houses set in closely- 
cropped lawns, with men and women 
seated on the piazzas reading the Sunday 
papers, just as they do everywhere. 

Here and there they passed elegant 
equippages containing beautifully gowned 
ladies on their way home from the morn 
ing service at church, and they were told 
that such and such a carriage belonged to 
so and so and cost so much ; that the 
owner possessed many millions and had 
196 



THE WILLIPERS 

a yacht now lying at anchor in the harbor. 

Suddenly, however, their loquacious 
driver turned, and holding his hand to the 
left of his mouth, whispered hoarsely : 

" Keep your eyes on that little red 
headed cuss in the next turnout we pass 
him with the girl in white lollin' beside 
'im, that's the king of Saxonia." 

" Stop the 'bus ! " yelled Little Jack 
Williper with a shrill scream, as he 
struggled frantically to get to his feet. 

But the carriage containing the king 
and his fair companion had dashed by 
them, and all Little Jack could see was a 
glimmer of red hair and a white hand 
resting on a gold-headed cane. And from 
that day to this all kings in his imagina 
tion have red hair and carry golden- 
crowned walking sticks. He was naturally 
much disappointed because he had not got 
a better view of so exalted a personage, 
and the driver's further remark that "dukes 
and princes was thick as flies at milkin' 
time," did not mollify him. He wanted 
197 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

to know an hundred things at once. 
" What was this king's name ? where was 
Saxonia, and what was he doing here ? " 

The driver replied good-naturedly in 
the picturesque language of the handsome 
young man with the Great Dane who had 
one day strayed into Bull Dog Square, 
and turning to his horses, showed that as 
far as he was concerned the incident was 
closed. 

After the drive the Willipers had lunch 
with ice cream in an English tea room 
on Bellevue avenue, which Williper Mere 
enjoyed immensely, and then they all 
went over to the beach, Little Jack rack 
ing along like a tin soldier, looking each 
moment as if he would go all to pieces. 
The bathers interested them ever so much, 
and they sat on the sand and munched 
their popcorn with delight. Little Jack 
would have it that the bathers were 
all of the nobility, and offered to bet his 
father and mother many times without 
naming the stakes that such and such a 
198 



THE WILLIPERS 

one was a king or a duke. He set his 
mind beyond argument on the fact that 
one plump, well-formed young lady must 
be a princess of the blood from the fact 
that she had red hair and the skin of her 
arms was snow white. 

"She's a reigning princess, I'm sure, 
mother," he would say, and kept direct 
ing that parent's attention to her con 
stantly. 

Presently the fair princess left the water 
and came directly toward them, a smile of 
greeting in her eyes. 

" Look ! mother, look ! " cried Little 
Jack. " She's coming our way ! " 

" Why, bless my soul, if it ain't Sarah 
Kelley's girl Mamie ! " cried Mrs. Willi- 
per, whose vision had been weakened by 
her post graduate course. 

"Hello, Mrs. Williper," said the 
princess, standing before them and shaking 
the water from her hair. "How on earth 
did you ever come to get 'way down 
here ? " 

199 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

"Little Jack fetched me an' father," 
replied the mother, " with the money the 
gentleman gave him. But, do you know 
what, Mamie?" 

"Don't! mother, don't!" pleaded 
Little Jack, tugging at her sleeve. 

" Well, I won't, dear I won't tell her 
if you mind," his mother replied, sooth 
ingly. 

"What was it, Mrs. Williper?" the 
wet princess inquired with considerable 
curiosity. 

" Little Jack minds so I won't tell you 
that he spotted you for a real princess, 
'cause you have red hair." 

The cripple looked very sheepish at this 
unexpected betrayal of a family confidence, 
but the girl took it far from unkindly. She 
reached down, and with her plump hand 
patted Little Jack on the cheek. 

" He knows a thing or two that kid," 
she said. " Don't you mind, Little Jack. 
I'm as good as the best of them." 

" Where be you workin' now, Mamie ? " 
200 



THE WILLIPERS 

inquired Mrs. Williper, offering the young 
lady the bag of popcorn. 

"Over to Olneyville, to Fletcher's," 
she replied. " I lost my job at the shoe 
string business, and have gone back to the 
loom." 

"You're too gay for your pay, I'm 
afraid," said Mr. Williper, solemnly. 

" I intend to have a good time while 
I'm young and alive," replied the girl, de 
fiantly. " We'll all be long enough in 
the churchyard. But my mother was a 
good woman before me, as you well 
know, Mrs. Williper, you an' she havin' 
wound at the same spooler, and I intend 
to be a good woman, too." 

" Said well ! said well ! " exclaimed Mr. 
Williper almost with enthusiasm. " Fol 
low your mother's steps, Mamie, and 
you'll win out." 

"You ain't married yet or nothin ? " 
queried Mrs Williper. 

" Not yet, nor ever intend to be," was 
the sharp answer. "The man don't live as 

201 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

can have me work for him. I make my 
own money and I spend it myself. I'd 
look pretty tied to any of the men I 
know!" 

" Married life might be worse, Mamie, 
it might be worse," said Mrs. Williper, 
soothingly. " See me an' father now, and 
how happy we be; and then we've got 
Little Jack here, the pride of our eyes an' 
comfort always." 

"You're all right all three of you, and 
many's the good word I've heard of you ; 
but I'll take no chances on marryin'." 

" It's a caution to me how you keep 
yourself so well and handsome," Mrs. 
Williper said, after a bit, looking up with 
admiration at the finely formed girl before 
her. 

" It comes natural, I suppose," replied 
the princess of the loom. " The Lord 
knows I get little chance to groom 
myself, and weaving is not a job to sigh 
for in these times ; but I think the tramp 
over to Olneyville from Smith's Hill in the 
202 



THE WILLIPERS 

morning does me good and fills my lungs 
with fresh air for the day. Then on Sun 
days I come down here or to " Crescent" 
and have a glorious bath. Oh, how good 
it feels ! It's just the same as if I was a 
real princess, Little Jack." 

" You've got the red hair and the white 
arms, anyhow," said the cripple, with an 
old-fashioned smile. 

When Mamie had returned to take a 
final plunge in the surf, the Willipers 
journeyed back to Bellevue avenue and 
watched the fine ladies and gentlemen 
drive up and down in their carriages. They 
stood on a corner so that Little Jack 
might have a lamp-post to lean against, 
and found much pleasure in the gay pan 
orama before them. 

After a silence of some time Williper 
Pere broke forth earnestly: 

" I'm danged, mother," he said, " if 
there's a girl in the hull lot we've seen as 
can hold a candle to Sarah Kelley's girl 
Mamie." 

203 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

Just then a gentleman who was passing, 
seeing Little Jack, paused, and pointing 
to him, inquired of Mr. Williper : 

" Your son ? " 

"Yes, sir." 

" Does he suffer much ? " 

" None at all, 'cept for readin' matter." 

" How strange." 

An embarrassing pause, during which 
Mrs. Williper looked indignant. 

" Did he fall ? " 

" No, sir." 

" How did he come so, may I ask ? " 

" Born so." 

" Dear me, dear me ; and you say he's 
happy ? " 

" Happy all the time, 'specially when 
readin' about kings and things." 

"Well I declare! Good day, sir." 

The gentleman raised his hat politely 
to Mrs. Williper, which mollified her at 
once, and passed on. 

Father and mother looked question- 
ingly into each other's eyes until Little 
204 



THE WILLIPERS 

Jack laid all doubts at rest by saying: 

"Wasn't it funny that he should ask 
whether I'm ever unhappy and you both 
here ! " 

The sail home was delightful, rendered 
more so because Mamie Kelley joined 
them on the boat and insisted on staying 
with them so she might hear Little Jack 
tell about the queens and princesses he 
had met in his travels through the Public 
Library. 

It was just supper time when they 
reached home, and after the dishes were 
cleared away and Mr. Williper had filled 
his pipe and gone to sleep an inevitable 
occurrence Little Jack talked over the 
events of the day with his mother, wind 
ing up with the remark: 

"Anyhow, mother, I've got a real king 
to think about, and Mamie Kelley'll da 
for a princess till I find a better." 



The Willipers at the Pier 

Ever since Little Jack Williper's Sun 
day excursion to Newport with his parents, 
on which occasion the five dollar bill 
given him by the fine young gentleman 
with the finer Great Dane, who had strayed 
into Bull Dog Square had been ruth 
lessly consumed to the last penny, it had 
been the ambition of Williper Pere, Wil- 
liper Mere and Little Jack to visit Narra^ 
gansett Pier and gaze upon the magnificent 
hotels there situated, and behold that 
celebrated crescent beach where ladies 
bathed in white kid slippers and ballroom 
finery, and money flowed like water. 

Mamie Kelley, the beautiful weaver, 
whom, it will be remembered, Little Jack 
mistook at Newport for a princess, be 
cause she had red hair and her arms and 
206 



THE WILLIPERS 

face were so plump and white, was inclined 
to doubt that ladies ever bathed in white 
kid slippers. 

"Ah, forgit it," she had said to Willi- 
per Mere, one warm night, when she sat 
with the Williper family on the doorstep 
of their tenement and sweltered in the 
hot air which slid up the alley from the 
Square. " They wear kid slippers I 
don't think ! Little Jack has been fillin' 
you up with stories out of his books." 

" Oh, I swear to goodness, Mamie," 
Little Jack had cried, " I read it true and 
honest in the paper. Yes, and some of 
'em wear corsets, too sure's you're born, 
Mamie. I saw a picture of it, too." 

Little Jack's positiveness had aroused 
the curiosity of even the phlegmatic 
princess, and it was decided then and 
there that a trip to the Pier should be 
enjoyed as soon as circumstances would 
permit. 

Now, Newport is common to the alley 
population of Providence, and Easton's 
207 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

Beach has done its fair share in the civili 
zation of the " Great Unwashed." The 
eyes of Jean Baptiste Grandmaison, mule 
spinner from Manville ; of John 'Enry 
'Oldsworth, weaver of Olneyville; of 
Michael Angelo Papiti, banana incubator 
of Federal Hill ; of Jerry Finnerty, truck 
man of Fox Point, had looked unabashed 
into the eyes of Vanderbilts, Astors and 
foreign diplomats and princes many times 
on Bellevue avenue, and the possessors 
of said first mentioned eyes had returned 
home more satisfied with themselves, 
having discovered that a millionaire and 
even a prince is only a man, generally not 
so well set up a man, either, as he who 
exercises daily in the gymnasium of toil. 

But Narragansett Pier is a far-away land, 
a wonderful spot not to be gazed upon by 
common mortals. No boat then ran from 
Providence to the Pier. Jean, John, 
Michael and Jerry are not desired at the 
Pier, and it had been made very difficult 
for these friends and fellow citizens to 
208 



THE WILLIPERS 

indulge in such a trip, even though Nar- 
ragansett was only a trifle further away 
than Newport. A railroad runs from 
Providence to the Pier, but it costs $1.50 
to make the round trip thereon, and $1.50 
is 1 5 per cent, on the weekly wage of the 
average steady and clever laborer in Rhode 
Island. It is a lot of money to those 
who dwell in the stifling precincts of Bull 
Dog Square, and the Willipers skinched 
and saved religiously for six weeks before 
they got together enough money to defray 
the necessary expenses of the trip. But 
when this was accomplished they immedi 
ately became happy. One day of pleasure 
was before them. What cared they for 
months of privation ! 

They chose a Thursday in August. It 
was a lovely day. Williper Pere had got 
a day off by hiring a loafing dresser tender 
to take his place at an advance of 25 
cents on his own pay. He was dressed 
in his blacks, with the same old high- 
roosting collar, and he looked just as 
209 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

bleached out, as awkward and as stolid as 
when we saw him on the " Day Star." 
Williper Mere, however, wore a new 
gown. It had cost $4.87, ready made, 
and fitted like a glove. At least the sales 
lady had so informed her. To the casual 
observer it was one of those high-up-in- 
front and low-down-behind kind of dresses 
which are apt to make one doubt whether 
it is possible to fit the human female 
figure by machinery. Little Jack looked 
as usual. He was so crooked and twisted 
by his deformity that none ever saw his 
clothes. He sagged down in his crutches 
and stood waiting for the train, perfectly 
content with all things. Mamie Kelley, 
who joined them at the depot, having 
"flung her clothes on," as she described 
it, caused Little Jack's eyes to brighten 
immensely, for Mamie certainly had 
" flung on " a white muslin gown most 
artistically, and the morning sun in her 
hair made it ripple like a golden sea. 
Mamie made all her own clothes at odd 

2IO 



THE WILLIPERS 

times after work hours, and the Lord 
knows where she got her idea of style, 
but she evidently got it from somewhere, 
for she certainly knew how to look well. 
It was owing in part, no doubt, to her 
splendid figure and the graceful way she 
handled herself. 

Mamie sat with Little Jack in the train 
and held his hand while he dilated on the 
wonderful doings of a certain Mary, Queen 
of Scots, of whom Mamie had never heard, 
but concerning whom Little Jack had read 
with much pleasure. 

" I tell you she had a hard time of it," 
Little Jack said, with a sigh. "They killed 
every man she looked at, shet her up on 
a lonesome island, and wound up by cut 
ting her head off. I swanny some of them 
old time kings and queens had no such 
soft snap as we think. Her name was 
Mary, just like your's," he added, after a 
brief pause. " I wonder did they call her 
Mamie." 

Mamie Kelley laughed and patted the 
211 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

cripple's hand. "You're always making 
me out a princess or something, you 
dreamy kid. What do I care for Mary 
Scots? She's dead a long time, and here 
I am and here we go 'way down to the 
Pier to see all the rich people." 

" Don't you ever wish to be rich, 
Mamie ? " Little Jack inquired, looking 
up into her eyes. 

" You bet your life I do," was the 
prompt reply. 

" What would you do ? " 

" What would I do ? " The girl gazed 
wistfully at the roof of the car. " I would 
first have a beautiful home with a green 
lawn around it, where I wouldn't have a 
thing to do; then I'd have two new 
dresses for every day in the month, then 
I'd go to New York and see the sights." 
The girl dropped her eyes and looked 
down at her companion and laughed. 
"Ah, fergit it," she said ; " aint it silly to 
be a wishin'?" 

Arriving at the Pier, the party made a 

212 



THE WILLIPERS 

bee line for the bathing beach, and, seat 
ing themselves upon the sand, watched 
the bathers. There were probably two 
hundred enjoying the surf that morning, 
and sure enough Little Jack quickly dis 
covered a young lady in white kid slippers 
and dainty attire, promenading up and 
down the white sand, holding above her 
head a red silk parasol. The gentleman 
who accompanied her was a stalwart young 
man in a regulation bathing suit. The 
Willipers watched this couple closely, 
but to their disappointment the daintily 
arrayed lady did not go near the climbing 
surf creepers. 

"She's just out to show her shape," 
Mamie said with disgust after a bit, and 
then she quoted, cocking her head airily : 

" Mother, may I go out to swim? " 
" Yes, my darling daughter. 
" Hang your clothes on a hickory limb, 
" But don't go near the water." 

They soon forgot the lady in kid slip 
pers and corsets, while watching the lively 
213 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

scene in the water before them. There 
were old bald-headed fat men, and scraw- 
ney bald-headed lean men ; stout old 
women in big poke sun-bonnets, thin 
old women who shivered constantly; 
jolly young men and girls who romped 
in the surf, and timid people who crept 
to the water's edge and nibbled at a bath. 

Williper Pere was enjoying himself 
hugely. The old people in particular 
interested him. They looked so funny, 
puffing and blowing, and they were so 
outlandish as to figure. 

" Aint it just horrid what shapes people 
have ? " Williper Mere whispered to 
Mamie. " See that fat woman there, 
swashin' about. 'J'ever see the like ? If 
I was her, I'd take a bath in my bed 
room." 

" Long as she don't mind, what need we 
care ? " Mamie returned, philosophically. 
" She's natural, anyhow, and not like that 
cat promenading up and down." 

Mamie evidently had taken a strong 
214 



THE WILLIPERS 

aversion to Miss Corsets and Kid Slippers, 
for her eyes stabbed her whenever she 
came in range. No one hates sham like 
the wage earner. The "Well, I'll be gol 
darned ! " of the farmer, as a butterfly of 
the genus summer girl or a golf dude 
passes in his sight, is expressive of the 
most withering contempt. The plain 
people know honesty when they meet it 
on the street. 

After the bathers had come from the 
water Williper Pere manifested symptoms 
of hunger, so the party adjourned to 
" The Rocks " and ate their lunch, while 
the Atlantic slapped the shore with its 
long swell and out to sea tall ships moved 
up and down in the lane of commerce. 
How invigorating was the salt air ! Little 
Jack expanded his lungs and looked up 
into his mother's face and laughed. The 
bleached face of Williper Pere took on 
almost a rosy hue, and Mamie Kelley let 
down her glorious red hair and gave sea 
and sun their will of it. 
215 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

How hungry they were ! But they had 
plenty to eat and plenty to toss to the 
sand pipers. While eating, Little Jack 
must tell a story. 

Somewhere, sometime he had read about 
an old fisherman who used to fish from 
these same rocks year after year for black 
fish, and how one day he fell asleep with 
his pole in his hands. It was then that 
the king of the black fish seized the line 
and dragged the old fisherman into the 
water down, down to the palace of the 
water babies, where he was well tended to, 
but from which he was never allowed to 
escape, "and perhaps," Little Jack said, 
gravely, " he's down there now, for all 
we know." 

<( Who ever heard tell of water babies?" 
cried Williper Mere. 

" Oh, yes they be they be oh yes ! " 
insisted Little Jack. " Little water babies ; 
they live in the water and float about and 
have a fairy godmother. Oh, I know 
it's true all right, for a preacher wrote 
216 



THE WILLIPERS 

about them. There was a little boot 
black no, a chimney sweep it was, as fell 
into the water and was turned into a water 
baby. My, what a time he had ! " 

" How could a baby live in the water ? " 
his mother asked, incredulously. 

" Why, a frog as lived there told him 
how. Don't frogs live in the water ? Well, 
this frog was a big bull frog, and he told 
this chimney sweep water baby just how 
to do it. Anyway, he lived and got mar 
ried and swam far out to sea." 

" I'll bet there is water babies," Mamie 
Kelley said, with a wink at Little Jack's 
parents. " I remember once when I was 
in bathing down to Crescent, something 
caught hold of my toe and I put for 
shore. I sat down on the sand and held 
up my foot, and what do you think I saw 
but a water baby a little naked water 
baby sittin' a-straddle of my toe and 
hangin' on to beat the band." 

" Now, didn't I tell you ! " cried Little 
Jack, clapping his hands. " But what 
217 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

did you do with the water baby ? " he 
inquired, eagerly. 

" Well, of course I was surprised at 
first. Then I reached down to pick the 
kid up, but he just twisted up one corner 
of his mouth, and sayin' f not on your 
life ! ' takes a header into the water." 

" If that don't beat all ! " Little Jack 
exclaimed, and he looked wistfully down 
at the water, hoping that he, too, might 
see a real water baby, while Mamie and 
his parents grinned at each other know 
ingly. 

There is a rest in the slap, slap, slap 
of the sea rest and peace. Mother of 
us all, the sea soothes her children when 
they come down to her and lie by her 
side. Care is forgotten. Realities fade 
away and dreams come. Dreams certainly 
came to Williper Pere when he drew off 
to the shade of a large boulder, if the 
sounds which came from his direction 
were authentic. Little Jack placed his 
head in his mother's lap and went to 
218 



THE WILLIPERS 

sleep, and the two women stood guard 
and looked out to sea. 

After the nap they all marched up the 
Ocean Drive and saw what they could see 
of the hotels and cottages. It was great 
amusement for them to watch four chil 
dren two little girls and two boys, all 
daintily dressed in blue and white, playing 
tennis on the lawn of one of the great 
hotels. Mamie held Little Jack upon the 
curbing so that he might see. The four 
children were very graceful and very 
active. They drove the ball back and 
forth with amazing speed. 

As they were thus standing a lady 
came down from the hotel a tall, angu 
lar woman, with a set, severe face. She 
noticed Little Jack and started at his 
peculiar knotted appearance. 

" Dear me," she said to Williper Mere, 
"are you his mother?" 

"Yes 'um," replied that lady, slowly. 

The tall woman came nearer and whis 
pered : 

219 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

" Born so ? " 

" Yes 'urn." 

Another look at Little Jack and then 
another deep whisper : 

" Which hotel are you stopping at?" 

" We aint stopping anywhere, bein' just 
down from the city for the day," Williper 
Mere replied, stupidly. 

The tall woman opened her hand and 
placed what it held in that of Mrs. Willi 
per. " Buy him what he would like best 
of all in the world," she said, and almost 
smiled. Then she went on. 

All eyes were on Williper Mere when 
she in turn opened her hand. It held a 
$10 note. 

" And I took her for a regular Tartar," 
Mamie gasped. 

Williper Pere grinned. "There's kind 
hearts in the world," he said. 

They then resumed their walk along 
the sea wall, paid another visit to the 
beach, ate a bag of peanuts, one ditto of 
sweet corn, drank each a glass of root 

220 



THE WILLIPERS 

beer, and slowly made their way to the 
depot. 

It was at the depot that they saw the 
Russian Ambassador. Little Jack, whose 
ears were wide open, heard a man behind 
him whisper, "There's the Russian Am 
bassador," and turning saw him point to 
a foreign looking gentleman standing be 
tween two young ladies, and looking very 
much like a common, every day kind of 
a being. 

The news was quickly communicated 
to his friends, and the celebrated diplomat 
received a careful scrutiny. 

"He's seen the Czar," hoarsely whis 
pered Little Jack. Then, to the surprise 
of his parents he shot off sideways and 
was standing on his crutches before the 
Ambassador. 

" Have you seen the Czar? " the cripple 
asked, eagerly. 

The great man looked down upon the 
eager face upturned to his and replied : 
" Many times, little brother." 

221 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

" Then let me take your hand, for I 
worship the Czar. He's the biggest of 
'em all," Little Jack cried, unabashed. 

Mamie Kelley had now seized the crip 
ple and spirited him away. 

The eyes of the diplomat rested upon 
her inquiringly. He perhaps was won 
dering whether the serfs of the American 
Republic bore such daughters as she. 
Mamie had not failed to observe this half 
startled look, and in her heart she treas 
ured it for many a long day. She knew 
what the look meant. She had been ad 
mired by one of the greatest men in the 
world. Had she well spent her day ! 
The fact that she sang at her loom for a 
week afterwards, and that she strode home 
ward over Smith's Hill alone at night, 
showed she was well satisfied with her 
self. 

Little Jack, moreover, was in raptures, 
and his parents greatly admired his bold 
ness. 

It had been for all a spendid day. They 

222 



THE WILLIPERS 

had beheld and admired. They had list 
ened to the crooning of the sea. They 
had received a $10 note from the skies, 
and had varying impressions of a famous 
Ambassador. 

But what to do with this $10. It was 
to be spent for Little Jack, to purchase 
what he liked best in the world. 

" I'll tell you what we'll do," said Little 
Jack himself, as they sat about the supper 
table and discussed the proposition ; " we'll 
put it by and on Thanksgiving day have 
Mamie to a real swell dinner, for we've 
had a bang-up time." 

This suited everybody, and it was de 
cided as outlined by Little Jack. 

Then Mamie went home wondering 
what it would seem like to be able to 
stand by the side of a great man, his 
social equal. 

"Anyhow," she said to herself, "if I 
am only Mamie Kelley, I know what's 
what, and I'm just as good as the best 
of 'em. 

223 



The Willipers' Thanksgiving 

Bull Dog Square looked cold and cheer 
less on the morning of Thanksgiving day. 
A restless northwest wind picked up the 
dust and scattered it broadcast in blinding 
clouds. The great shoe string mill and 
the dye works were shut down. All the 
stores those squalid little Jew clothing 
stores were closed, and Mammy Yates, 
having sold out her dozen morning papers, 
put the blinds before the windows of her 
atomic emporium and drifted away with 
the wind to her daughter's house for a 
holiday. The rum shops, however, kept 
open, in hopes that some poor devils 
would be found so unfortunate as to have 
no happier place to go to and would come 
to them with their small offerings of silver 
and celebrate the day in inebriety. To 
224 



THE WILLIPERS 

To the credit of Bull Dog Square there 
were few of these miserables, and the lazy, 
fat faced bartenders stood gazing out sadly 
through the half closed windows of their 
ill smelling haunts. 

There was plenty of cold and hunger 
in the neighborhood of the Square on 
this day proclaimed by the President as a 
day of special thanksgiving to God for 
the bountiful harvest and the peace and 
prosperity of the land. People are always 
hungry there, for while they eat, they are 
seldom well fed, and the winds have years 
ago discovered how to spin through the 
houses. 

But in the home of the Willipers there 
was warmth and good cheer, while a smash 
ing big turkey was fast taking on a ripe 
brown in the pan where he roasted. This 
turkey, the nuts, raisins, pop-corn, candy 
and other good things which were in 
evidence on the sideboard, had been pur 
chased with the ten dollars the stern look 
ing lady at the Pier had given Williper 
225 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

Mere, to be spent on what Little Jack 
liked best in the world. 

Williper Pere sat in shirt sleeves by the 
window, industriously trying to work a 
steel-ring puzzle which he had bought for 
Little Jack, and which in a fatal moment 
of idleness he had picked up with the in 
tention of showing his son just how the 
man had shown him it was done. 

Williper Mere had manifested much 
interest in watching him at first, even to 
the neglect of the turkey ; so had Little 
Jack, but they gave it up with a sigh after 
a while. He continued alone, squeezing, 
twisting, turning the rings which looked 
so innocent, but which couldn't be pre 
vailed upon to go together. 

Mamie Kelley, the beautiful weaver, 
received, as we already know, a special in 
vitation, and had come over early. She 
had endeavored to assist Williper Mere 
in getting dinner ready, but had been 
squelched in the following words : 

" Now, you go and sit down, Mamie. 
226 



THE WILLIPERS 

I won't have you raise your hand. It's 
tired you must be, workin' always as you 
do, and I just want you to enjoy yourself 
an' rest." 

This suited Little Jack, and he in 
veigled her over by his window, where he 
sat with his trusty crutches at his side. 

"You come here, Mamie," he said, 
"and I'll tell you about the finest king 
I've come across so far." 

The girl seated herself quietly beside 
him and took one of his wasted hands in 
hers. 

" Go ahead, Jacky," she said. " Tell 
me all about him." 

Little Jack's eyes sparkled. It was 
not often that he had the pleasure of tell 
ing a story to any one but his parents, 
and they never seemed to understand the 
way Mamie did. 

"This king," he began, "was first of 

all the bravest knight in the world. He 

was tall and very strong, and when he 

had his armor on he would sail in and 

227 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

whip a dozen or more common knights 
without much trouble. His name was 
Richard Cure the Lion." 

"That's a funny name," Mamie said, 
showing genuine interest. 

" Well, you bet they had funny names 
in those days," Little Jack returned. 
" They only had first names, and tacked 
on whatever was their specialty. This 
king's name was just Richard, but people 
added f Cure the Lion,' which the book 
said meant strong-hearted, or with the 
heart of a lion. That's where the lion 
comes in. Anyhow, he was a great 
fighter, and just after he got to be king 
he went to the Holy Land on the crusades." 

" What were they ? something to ride 
on?" 

"No, I don't think they was. I don't 
know just what they was. Anyway, he 
rode a horse part of the way and went by 
boat the rest." 

" Perhaps f Crusades ' was the name of 
the boat." 

228 



THE WILLIPERS 

" Now I never thought of that," Little 
Jack exclaimed. " It might be so. But 
come to think, it couldn't be a boat. I 
believe it was a journey, for other kings 
went on crusades all by land. Well, as I 
was telling you, he went to the Holy 
Land to drive the Turks away from Jeru 
salem." 

" I wish he'd come and drive some of 
the ' Turks' off Smith Hill," Williper 
Mere interrupted, irreverently. 

Mamie Kelley burst into a ringing 
laugh and Williper Pere chuckled over 
his puzzle. Little Jack, however, pro 
ceeded seriously : 

" You see, Mamie, the Turks had 
driven all the Jews from Jerusalem, or a 
good part of them, and occupied the Holy 
Sepulchre." 

" What ! lived in the grave ? " Mamie 
inquired, quizzingly. 

"Now don't get funny," Little Jack 
retorted. " I just tell you as the story 
runs. The book says ' occupied the Holy 
229 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

Sepulchre,' and what it means you can 
guess as well as I can. So Richard Cure 
the Lion came along to drive them out. 
They had a king, the Turks had, named 
Salladin, and he was a dandy. None of 
the crusaders had been able to beat him 
till Richard Cure the Lion came along, 
and even Richard had a hard time 
to get the best of him. This Salladin 
found out after a bit that it was just 
tempting Providence to send his best 
fighters against Richard in the open field, 
for he would cut them up in short order; 
so he made a scheme to capture the Eng 
lish king. He had a very beautiful black 
horse that followed him about just like a 
dog, and would never be happy away 
from him. So Salladin sent this horse to 
Richard as a present." 

" I don't think much of him for that," 
Mamie exclaimed. 

" You just wait and see how it comes 
out," Little Jack retorted. 

Mamie looked properly squelched, and 
230 



THE WILLIPERS 

the cripple continued : " Richard was 
tickled to death to get the horse, for he 
had never seen such a glorious creature 
before, and the next day he must try him 
in the battle. So he rode him out as 
proud as could be, but when the horse 
got the lay of the land he bolted for the 
camp of the Turks, just as Salladin knew 
he would, and Richard couldn't hold him 
back. He yanked on the bit, but it was 
no use, and he saw that he would be cap 
tured sure if he didn't do something quick. 
So he slid to the ground just as the horse 
reached the first regiment of Turks, and 
prepared to fight them all alone. They 
came at him right and left, but he laid 
about him with his battle axe, and every 
time he struck there was one less Turk. 
My ! how he did wallop them ! He was 
all covered with blood and sweat when his 
own knights came to his rescue, and he 
couldn't have held out much longer." 

"Say ! He was a daisy, that Richard, 
wasn't he?" Mamie said. "That's the 
231 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

kind of a man for me. I could just have 
loved that man." 

" But he was a king, remember," said 
Little Jack. 

" Well, supposing he was," the girl re 
torted. " If I had been living in those 
days I would have been a queen, perhaps. 
They didn't care so much then about 
being poor. If a man was strong and 
brave and a woman beautiful, that was all 
that was required." 

Little Jack eyed his fair companion 
proudly. 

" I wish you was a queen, Mamie," he 
said. " By Jimminy ! I do. Say ! Them 
knights would have all been dead in love 
with you, and they'd have made you 
c Queen of Youth and Beauty ' at the 
tournament." 

" What was that, Jacky ? " 

" That was the biggest time of all. 

Every little while, when the knights had 

nobody to fight, they held a tournament. 

They had a grand-stand just like a base- 

232 



THE WILLIPERS 

ball field, where all the ladies and the old 
men sat. Then, whoever gave the tourna 
ment, selected the finest looking girl in 
the country 'round and made her f Queen 
of Youth and Beauty.' She was to award 
the prize to the best knight. 

"Then the knights fought on horse 
back before this grand-stand, and the one 
that disabled all the others would kneel 
before the t Queen of Youth and Beauty,' 
and she would place on his head the wreath 
of flowers, which was the prize." 

" And did they fight just for that ? " 

f * You bet they did, and sometimes half 
of them was killed." 

" Those were the men for me ! " Mamie 
exclaimed emphatically, and her eyes 
sparkled. " If I had been the c Queen of 
Youth and Beauty,' and a fine, young 
knight, after risking his life, had come to 
me claiming the prize, I'd a kissed him 
slap before all the people, just to show 
how proud I was of him. There ain't no 
such men now. Mill help and dry goods 

233 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

clerks are all I know, and a silly lot they 
are. There isn't one of them man enough 
to fight unless he is in liquor, and instead 
of fighting for a woman, they stand on 
the street corners and make remarks. Oh, 
I hate them ! " 

" Ivanhoe is the fellow you'd a been 
stuck on," Little Jack said, with a solemn 
shake of his head. He was Richard Cure 
the Lion's bosom friend, and was always 
looking for a damsel in distress, that he 
might fight for her. Irish or Swede, it 
didn't matter to him, so long as she hadn't 
any friends." 

" Was he as good a man as King Rich 
ard ? " Mamie asked. 

" Well, he wasn't so strong. The king 
was a mighty powerful man, but Ivanhoe 
could lick anything of his size between 
England and the Holy Land. I tell you, 
I do like to read about him, 'specially 
when he fought O'Brian Gilbert for the 
Jewess Rebecca." 

" I shouldn't a thought he'd a fought 

234 



THE WILLIPERS 

for a Sheeny," Mamie said, with typical 
Smith Hill contempt for the children of 
the Ghetto. 

" They didn't call 'em Sheenies then," 
Little Jack continued seriously, " though 
perhaps they ought to, for Rebecca's 
father was a regular out and outer. His 
name was Isaac, and he was always sneak 
ing around and wringing his hands just 
like a Sheeny at a rag sale. But Rebecca 
was a lady, and she was as pretty as a pic 
ture, too." 

" That accounts for it," Mamie put in 
with vigor. " Had she been homely 
your brave Ivanhoe wouldn't have crossed 
the square for her. They'll all make a 
bluff at fighting for a good-looking girl, 
be she Sheeny or Mulatto; but if her 
face is plain, just watch 'em jump the 
fence ! " 

"Well, you know better than I do," 
Little Jack shrewdly suggested, and then 
continued: " Ivanhoe never asked for re 
wards, anyhow, and when he whipped 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

O' Brian Gilbert, he never made any 
motion for thanks." 

" But what became of Rebecca? " Mamie 
asked. 

" Now that's a puzzler," Little Jack 
replied. She just dropped out of sight, 
but between me and you, I think she'd a 
had Ivanhoe had he asked her." 

" I've got it at last, by gravy ! " came 
in a triumphant voice from the chair near 
the window, and turning, they saw Willi- 
per Pere holding aloft the puzzle, the rings 
securely interlocked. 

" Well, you're a fool to spend your 
whole morning working over a silly thing 
like that," Williper Mere said with em 
phasis. 

" But you see," her worthy husband 
replied with conviction, " I started it and 
I just couldn't give it up till I done it." 

Dinner was now on the table, and the 

party fell to. I was just going to say, 

" Never was there such a turkey ! " when 

I thought of Dickens. Isn't it too bad 

236 



THE WILLIPERS 

that he said all the good things and the 
rest of us must go 'round the lighthouse 
for an expression! 

Anyhow, Little Jack was very happy, 
and Williper Pere ate a very great deal. 
Williper Mere smiled tirelessly and poured 
tea, while Mamie described the wonderful 
agility of the King of the Bounding Wire, 
whom she had seen at Keith's the preced 
ing week. 

" If I ever grow to be a man," Little 
Jack said with conviction, " I don't know 
which I'd rather be a king or that fellow. 
What a man he must be ! " 

" You're a crazy-head," Williper Mere 
said fondly. " But he wouldn't be the 
man for me. A feller jumpin' up an' 
down on a wire ! Pshaw ! Give me the man 
as makes his two dollars a day regular an' 
brings it home to his wife. He's good 
enough for such poor old bodies as I be." 

" But what if he only makes a dollar 
and seventy-five cents ? " Williper Pere 
asked, with a twinkle in his eye. 

237 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

" Well," his wife replied slowly, " there 
are dollar-and-seventy-five-cent men and 
dollar-and-seventy-five-cent men. But 
don't you bother no trouble, Henry. I 
ain't thinkin' of applyin' for divorce." 

Mamie went home at 8:30, when the 
fire died down. 



The Wolf at the Door 

In the aftermath of the Williper's 
Thanksgiving Dinner, distressful things 
happened. The economic world turned 
over, and Williper Pere fell out of his 
berth. The thread mill at which he had 
worked for so many years found its orders 
suddenly cut off in volume, and it was 
found necessary to discharge one-third of 
the employes. Williper Pere lost his job. 

The little tenement in the alley off Bull 
Dog Square was the scene of great de 
pression in consequence. The head of the 
family had never been out of work before, 
and he did not know which way to turn. 
He was a dresser tender, and this especial 
occupation he knew well. He felt that 
he might be able to do other things, but 
his confidence was not of an inspiring 

239 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

quality. As a producer he was only one- 
third of a man. Machinery was the other 
two-thirds, and the first proportion had 
come to rely greatly upon the other. 

He spent the first week of loafing by 
tramping through Pawtucket and the 
other factory towns of the State, looking 
for a job similar to the one he had lost. 
There were no vacancies. No one wanted 
a man. Dresser tenders were a drug in 
the market. So also were mill operatives 
of every description, for Hard Times were 
abroad in the land. 

Mamie Kelley came down from Smith 
Hill to condole with the wretched Willi- 
pers, but she was not cheerful. The sword 
hung over her head also, and she worked 
in fear and trembling. 

" Williper has just simply got to find 
something to do, or we will be in the 
street," Williper Mere said with marked 
decision. 

"That's it," returned Williper Pere. 
"I've just simply got to." 
240 



THE WILLIPERS 

" What's the matter with everything? " 
Little Jack asked anxiously. 

" That's just what we'd all like to 
know," Mamie replied. " I don't know, 
for one. The mills have no orders. The 
country is scared. They say we make 
more stuff than the people can use. It's 
a stone wall to me. I don't know what 
I'll do if I lose my own job. I ain't got 
a soul to fall back on." 

" You come and live with us, then ! " 
cried Little Jack. 

The girl kissed his wasted cheek and 
broke into tears. This started Williper 
Mere, and she was soon sobbing in con 
cert. Williper Pere felt the corners of 
his mouth twitch, but he realized that it 
was not manly to cry. So he bravely re 
sisted the temptation. 

" Jack is right, Mamie," he said. " You 
come and live with us. We'll get on 
somehow." 

The next week Mamie Kelley followed 
her trunk, pushed in a wheelbarrow by 
241 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

Williper Pere to the latter's home. The 
sword had fallen ! 

The immediate present was not to be 
feared, for both Mamie and the Willipers 
had a rainy-day fund in the savings bank. 
But it was like cutting teeth to draw upon 
this. 

Day after day the man and the girl went 
through the Square into the city looking 
for employment. They tried the indus 
trial bureaus, but quickly caught on to the 
game played there. Up and down they 
walked, looking everywhere, and each 
night related their experiences to Williper 
Mere and Little Jack. 

"It's just like this," Mamie once said, 
"the world ain't got no use for us. No 
body wants us, or cares whether we live 
or die. I feel, when goin' 'round, just as 
if I was outside a big walled city with iron 
gates. Inside everything is lovely. Out 
side it's misery. 

" I goes up to the man at one of the 
gates and says, 'Let me in, please.' 
242 



THE WILLIPERS 

" He says, ( No, you can't go in ; there 
ain't room for another soul inside just at 
present.' 

" * But I want to get in awful bad,' I 
says to him. 

" c I can't help it,' he says. ' Don't 
blame me. I'd let you in fast enough if 
I could, but I just can't.' 

" So 'round an' 'round the walls I go, 
tryin' a gate here and a gate there, but 
always the same, with variations, for one 
sends you away gentle like, and another 
scowls as much as to say, t How dare you 
ask such a thing ! ' 

"If Richard Cure the Lion was only 
living ! " cried Little Jack. " He'd knock 
in a gate with his battle-axe mighty lively, 
I tell you ! He wouldn't take no back 
talk ! " 

" Ah ! " sighed Mamie, " now is when 
I feel if I only had a man behind me." 

" Yes, and a kitchen full of young 
'uns ! " Williper Mere returned, with fine 
scorn. " You're well off as you be, Mamie 

243 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

Kelley, I tell you that. Hungry babies 
is what gnaws the heart out, folks tells 
me as knows. 'Tis what keeps the Irish 
down, havin' such terrible families. Now 
there's Bridget O'Shay she that was 
Beazie McCarthy, you remember, Willi- 
per. She worked next spooler to me for 
years. A rosy-cheeked girl was Beazie 
McCarthy when she married Mike 
O'Shay. Seven children she had in as 
many years, and look at her now ! You 
mind me, Mamie Kelley, and don't you 
fret about gettin' married. It's the natural 
curse of the Irish I mean the children as 
follows." 

A scratching sound was now audible in 
the hall. 

" What's that ? " Little Jack inquired, 
pricking up his ears. 

"It's 'the wolf at the door!'" Willi- 
per Pere replied with a grin. 

This is the first joke ever known to 
have been uttered by Williper Pere. A 
gruesome joke it was, and it set the 
244 



THE WILLIPERS 

shivers chasing one another up Little 
Jack's spine. It clung to the boy's mem 
ory, too, and haunted him continually 
throughout that winter. 

The wolf at the door ! Oh, that terrible 
wolf at the door ! When Williper Pere 
would sit by the fire of an evening with 
head bowed in despair, and the two women 
sat by the table sewing feverishly on 
sweat-shop clothes, Little Jack, feeling 
strangely depressed, would close his eyes 
and in fancy hear the gnawing, gnawing 
of that hungry wolf and see its clammy 
nose poking through the crack it had 
made. 

When the funds in the savings bank 
were exhausted, all the family had to de 
pend on was the little that Williper Mere 
and Mamie could earn with their needles, 
and even this ill - paid labor was not 
enough in volume to keep them busy. 
A God-send in the shape of a snowstorm 
was the means of Williper Pere earning 
four dollars. How he revelled in his 
245 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

work ! It was so good to be earning 
money again. But the sun soon destroyed 
this source of revenue, and he took to the 
streets again. He made a practice of 
visiting each of the mills once every week, 
and his face soon became known. He had 
no longer to state his business, but simply 
to show his face at the office window, to 
be met by the curt remark, " No help 
wanted to-day." 

Now let it be remembered that through 
out this miserable ordeal, Williper Pere 
did not cry out against the rich, or spend 
any of his time reflecting on the injustice 
of natural laws. He did not concern him 
self at all about other men's affairs, but 
took it for granted that he must either 
find work or starve. In his way he was 
fiercely selfish, for he met hundreds of 
other men whose situation was even more 
desperate than his own, without extending 
to them any considerable sympathy. They 
must do the best they could. He did 
not stop to ask them how many helpless 
246 



THE WILLIPERS 

children they had, but thought solely of 
his own Little Jack, and kept his own 
secrets as to the possibilities of em 
ployment which he discovered in his 
rounds. 

It might be termed maudlin pathos if 
an attempt were made to describe the 
scenes at home when he would return 
with springing step and report that at one 
of the mills he had been told to come 
around in the morning, as there might be 
a chance. Williper Mere, at such times, 
would bustle around vigorously and get 
up a meal just a little above the average. 
Mamie would do up her wealth of auburn- 
hued tresses especially fine, just as if she 
meditated again showing herself to the 
world, and Little Jack would ripple with 
delight, and chatter like a robin arrived 
after a long winter. 

But we know these chances did not 
materialize. Still Williper Pere kept at 
it, never giving up hope, doggedly deter 
mined to find work. 

247 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

They were now in debt to their green 
grocer, and lived in constant dread of a 
withdrawal of credit. Brave as he was in 
looking for work, Williper Pere did not 
possess the nerve to do the shopping. He 
could not say the words, " Please put it on 
the book ! " 

Williper Mere, however, rose to the 
occasion, and though every time she en 
tered the market her heart beat furiously, 
she forced sunshine into her face and 
spoke pleasantly to the awful groceryman, 
bidding him be of good cheer, for " Wil 
liper would certainly get a job soon, as 
times was lookin' up." 

" Times were looking up ! " God bless 
your stout heart, Williper Mere. 

There was a line one hundred yards 
long before the headquarters of the Over 
seer of the Poor each morning, a line of 
one-meal-a-day men and women, with 
empty baskets ; and the preachers in 
churches, high and low, no longer 
preached sermons, but pled and prayed 
248 



THE WILLIPERS 

and stormed at their congregations that 
they must open their hearts and give, for 
men, women and children their fellow 
citizens were dying daily of cold and 
hunger. 

Then the end came, and the terrors of 
the wolf at the door vanished for Little 
Jack. It was all so simple, too. Willi- 
per Pere got the job of assistant box 
maker and man of all work in Mamie 
Kelley's woolen mill. His wages were to 
be seven dollars a week until times got 
better. 

Williper Mere and Mamie danced 
crazily together on receipt of the good 
news, and Little Jack clapped his hands 
and joined in the commotion with lusty 
lungs. 

Seven dollars a week ! They could live 
on six and pay the remaining dollar on 
the bug-a-boo grocery bill. 

The peace of heaven was in their hearts 
that night when they slept, and the next 
morning Williper Pere was off half an 
249 



A BUNDLE OF YARNS 

hour ahead of time, swinging his dinner 
pail ostentatiously. He was a proud 
man a vain man a wholly happy man. 
He had a job ! 

The everlasting gates, which had been 
closed so long, had lifted up their heads 
and he had gone in. 



DATE DUE 



wwni ; 

FEB a 


' 1961 














flEC'D JAN 1 


11982 






















































































































































GAVLORD 






PRINTED IN U S A 



3 1970 00483 3155 




0306958