|Paper||Gunnison Valley News|
|Rights||No Copyright - United States (NoC-US)|
|Publisher||Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah|
|Article Title||The Light in the Clearing|
|Paper||Gunnison Valley News|
i Tfic Light in the Clearing" ! 1 A Talc of the North i Country in the Time Jl of Silas Wright I y i: 5 IRVING BACIIEL.LER 5 : ,. 4 Author of Eben Holden." 'D'ri and 4. I," "Darrel of the Hlessed Isles" J "Kecpins Up With Lizzie," Etc., Etc. J (Copyright, by Irving Bacheller) CHAPTER XVII Continued. 17 . My heart bent fust when I saw the house and my uncle and Purvis coming in from the twenty-acre lot with a load of hay. Aunt Heel stood on the , front steps looking down the road. Now and then her waving handker chief went to her eyes. Uncle Tea-body Tea-body came down the standard off his load and walked toward nie. "Say, stranger, have you seen any- ns soon as they see ye comln' an' that you pull the trees tin by the roots to Kit nt 'em." "A certain amount of such devillry Is necessary to the comfort of Mr. I'urvis," I remarked. "If there is nobody no-body else to take the responsibility for it he assumes It; himself. His imagination imag-ination has an intense craving for blood and violence. It's that type of American who, egged on by the slave lower, is hurrying us into trouble with Mexico." I'urvis came in presently with n look In his face which betrayed his knowledge of the fact that all Hie cobwebs cob-webs spun by his fancy were now to he brushed away. Still he enjoyed them while they lasted and there was a kind of tacit claim in his manner that they were subjects regarding which no 'honest man could be expected expect-ed to tell the truth. As we ate our dinner they told mo that an escaped slave had come into a neigliboriing county and excited the people with stories of the auction block and of negroes driven like yoked oxen on plantations in South Carolina, whence he had escaped on a steamboat. steam-boat. "I b'lieve I'm goin' to vote for abolition." abo-lition." said Uncle Peabody. "I wonder won-der what Sile Wright will say to that." "He'll probably advise against; it ; the time isn't ripe for so great a change," was my answer. "He thinks that the Hut we sat as still as stumps nnd ho spared us and went on with the others. The baying of i-ie hound was nearer now. Suddenly we saw a bi buck como down to the shore of the cove near us and on our side of the stream. He looked to right and left. Then he made a long leap into the water and waded slowly until It covered him. He raised his 'nose and laid his antlers back over his shoulders and swam quietly downstream, his 'nose just showing above the water. I Lis ant lers were like- a bit of driftwood. If we had not seen him take the water his antlers might easily have passed for a bunch of dead sticks. Soon the buck slowly lifted his head and turned his neck and looked at both shores. Then very deliberately ho resumed his place under water and went on. We watched him as he took the farther shore below be-low us and made off in the woods again. "I couldn't shoot at him, it was such a beautiful bit of politics," said the senator. Soon the hound reached the move's edge and swain the river and ranged up and down the bank for half an hour before ho found the buck's trail again. "I've scon many a rascal, driven to water by the -hounds, go swimming away as slyly as that buck, with their horns in the air, looking as innocent as a hit of driftwood. They come in f L.M. .. lUKi rr.1 4Hn He said that he had not seen rcabody liayncs on that road the day the i money was lost but had only heard II. at he was there. lie knew now that he couldn't have been there. Gosh t'almighty! as your uncle used to say when there was nothing else to bo said." It touched me to the soul this long-delayed long-delayed vindication of my beloved Uncle Teabody. The senator ate supper with us and sent his hired man out; for his horse and buggy. When he had put on his overcoat; and was about to go he turned to my uncle and said: "l'eabody Baynes, If I have had any success in the world It is because I have had the exalted honor and consciousness con-sciousness that I represented men like you." He left us and we sat down by the glowing candles. Soon I told them what Ramsey had done. There was a moment mo-ment of silence. Uncle l'eabody rose and went to the water pull for a drink. "Bart. I believe I'll plant corn on that ten-arce lot next spring darned if I don't," he said as he returned to his chair. None of us ever spoke of the matter again, to my knowledge. CHAPTER XVIII. On the Summit. My mental assets would give me a thing of a feller by the name o' Bart Baynes?" he demanded. "Have you?" I asked. "No, sir, I ain't. Gosh a'mighty! .Say! what have ye done with that boy of our'n?" . "What have you done to our house?" I asked again. "Built on an addition." "That's wtat I've done to your boy," I answered. "Thunder an' lightnin' ! How you've raised the roof 1" he exclaimed as he grabbed my satchel. Dressed like a statesman an' bigger'n a bullmoose. I can't 'rastle with you no more. But, say, I'll run ye a race. I can beat ye an' carry the satchel, too." We ran pell-mell up the lane to the steps like a pair of children. Aunt Deel did not speak. She just put her arms around me and laid her dear old head upon my breast. Uncle Peabody turned away. Then what a silence! Off in the edge of the woodland wood-land I heard the fairy flute of a wood-thrush, wood-thrush, "Purvis, you drive that load on the floor an' put up the hosses," Uncle ' Peabody shouted in a moment. "If you don't like it you can hire 'nother man. I won't do no more till after dinner. This slave business is played out" "All right," Purvis answered. ' "You bet it's all right. I'm fer abo lition an' I've stood your domineerin', . nigger-driver ways long enough fer one mornin'. If you don't like it you can look for another man." Aunt Deel and I began to laugh at this good-natured, make-believe scolding scold-ing of Uncle Peabody and the emotional emo-tional strain was over. They led me into the house, where a delightful surprise sur-prise awaited me, for the rooms had been decorated with balsam boughs and sweet ferns. A glowing mass of violets, framed in moss, occupied the center of the table. The house was filled with the odors of the forest, which, as they knew, were dear to me. I had written that they might expect me some time before noon, but i begged them not to meet me in Canton, Can-ton, as I wished to walk home after my long ride. .So they were ready for me. I rem'ember how they felt the cloth on my back and how proudly they surveyed sur-veyed it. "Couldn't buy them goods 'round : 4 these parts," said Uncle Peabody. "Nor nothin' 'like 'em no, sir." "Feels a leetle bit like the butternut trousers," said Aunt Deel as she felt whole matter should be left to the glacial gla-cial action of time's forces." Indeed I had spoken the view of the sounder men of the North. The subject filled them with dread alarm. But the attitude of Uncle l'eabody was significant. The sentiment in favor fa-vor of a change was growing. It. was now to be reckoned with, for the abolition abo-lition party was said to hold the balance bal-ance of power in New York and New England and was behaving itself like a bull in a china shop. ' After dinner I tried to put on some of my old -clothes, but found that my nakedness' had so expanded that they would not cover it, so I hitched my white mare on the spring wagon and drove to the village for my trunk. Every week day after that I worked in the fields until the senator arrived in Canton about the middle of August. On one of those happy days I received a letter from old Kate, dated, to my surprise, in Saratoga. It said : "Dear Barton Baynes : I thought I would let you know that my father Is dead. I have come here to rest and have found some work to do. I am better bet-ter now. Have seen Sally. She is very beautiful and kind. She does not know that I am the old witch, I have changed so.' The others do not know it is better that way. I think it was the Lord that brought me here. He has a way of taking care of some people, my boy. Do you remember when I began be-gan to cnll you my boy you were very little. It is long, long ago since I first saw you in your father's dooryard you said you were going to mill on a butterfly's back. You looked just as I thought my boy would look. You gave me a kiss. What a wonderful gift it was to me then ! I began to love you. I have no one else to think of now. I hope you won't mind my thinking so much of you. "God bless you, "KATE FULLERTON." I understood now why the strong will and singular Insight of this woman wom-an had so often exercised themselves In my behalf. I could not remember the far day and the happy circumstance circum-stance of which she spoke, but I wrote her a letter which must have warmed her heart I am sure. Silas Wright arrived in Canton and drove up to our home. He reached our door at eight in the morning with his hound and rifle. He had aged rapidly rap-idly since I had seen him last. His hair was almost white. There were many new lines in his face. He seemed more grave and dignified. He from both shores the Whig and the Democratic and they are always shot at from one bank or the other." I remember It surprised me a little to hear him say that they came In from both shores. "Just what do you want to do?" he asked presently. "I should like to go down to Washington Wash-ington with you and help you in any way that I can." "All right, partner we'll try It," he answered gravely. "I hope that I don't forget and work you as hard as I work myself. It wouldn't be decent. I have a great many letters to write. I'll try thinking out loud while you take them down in sound-hand. Then you can dry ft them neatly and I'll sign them. You have tact and good manners and can do many of my errands. for me and save me from those who have no good reason, for taking up my time." "You will meet the best people and the worst. There's just a chance that it may como to something worth while who knows? You are young yet. It will be good training and you will witness wit-ness the making of some history now and then." What elation I felt ! Again the voice of the hound, which had been ringing In the distant hills, was coming nearer. "We must keep watch another deer is coming," said the senator. We had only a moment's watch before be-fore a fine yearling buck came down to the opposite shore and stood looking look-ing across the river. The senator raised his rifle and fired. The buck fell in the edge of the water. "How shall we get him?" my friend asked. "It will not be difficult," I answered as I began to undress. Nothing was difficult those days. I swam the river and towed the buck across with a beech withe in his gambrel joints. The hound joined me before I was half across with my burden bur-den and nosed the carcass and swam on ahead yelping with delight. We dressed the deer and then I had the great joy of carrrying him on my back two miles across the country coun-try to the wagon. The senator wished to send a guide for the deer, but I insisted in-sisted that the carrying was my privilege. privi-lege. "Well, I guess your big thighs and broad shoulders can stand it," said he. "My. uncle has always said that no man could be called a hunter until he can go into the woods without a guide and kill a deer and bring it out on poor rating, x presume, in the .commerce .com-merce of modern scholarship when I went to Washington that autumn with Senator and Mrs. Wright. Still it was no smattering that I had, but rather a few broad areas of knowledge which were firmly in my possession. My best asset was not mental but spiritual, if I may be allowed to say it, in all modesty, mod-esty, for, therein I claim no special advantage, ad-vantage, saving, possibly, an unusual strength of character in my aunt and uncle. Those days the candles were fighting the best trails of knowledge all over the land. Never has the general gen-eral spirit of this republic been so high and admirable as then and 'a little later. It was to speak, presently, in the immortal voices of Whittier, Emerson, Emer-son, Whitman, Greeley and Lincoln. The dim glow of the candles had entered en-tered their souls nnd out of them came a light that filled the land and was seen of all men. The railroads on which we traveled from Uticn, the great cities through which we passed, were a wonder and an inspiration to me. I was awed by the grandeur of Washington itself. 1 took lodgings with the senator and his wife. "Now, Bart," said he, when we had arrived, "I'm going to turn you loose here for a little while before I put harness har-ness on you. Go about for a week ot so and get the lay of the land and the feel of it. Mrs. Wright will be your guide until .the general situation has worked its way into your consciousness." conscious-ness." It seemed to me that there was not room enough in my consciousness for the great public buildings and the pictures pic-tures and the statues and the vast machinery ma-chinery "of the government. Beauty and magnitude have a wonderful effect ef-fect when they spring fresh upon the vision of a youth out of the back country. coun-try. I sang of the look of them in my letters and soon I began to think about them and imperfectly to understand them. They had their epic, lyric and dramatic stages in- my consciousness. One afternoon we went to hear Senator Sen-ator Wright speak. He was to answer an-swer Calhoun on a detail of the banking bank-ing laws. The floor and galleries were filled. With what emotion I saw him rise and begin his argument as all ears bent to hear him! He aimed not at popular sentiments in highly finished rhetoric, as did Webster, to be quoted in the sctiQol books and repeated on every platform. But no words of mine and I have used many in the effort are able to convey a notion of the masterful ease and charm of his manner man-ner on the floor of the senate or of the singular modesty, courtesy, aptness and simplicity of his words as they fell from his lips. There were the thunderous Webster, the grandeur of v. hose sentences no American has equaled ; the agile-minded Clay, whose voice was like a silver clarion ; the far-seeing, far-seeing, fiery Calhoun, of "the swift sword" most formidable in debate but I was soon to learn that neither nor all of these men gifted of heaven so highly could cope with the suave, incisive, conversational sentences of Wright, going straight to the heart of the subject and laying it bare to his hearers. That was what people were saying as we left the senate chamber, late in the evening; that, indeed, was what they were always saying after they had heard him answer an adversary. ad-versary. 1 (TO BE CONTINUED.) . my coat. "Ayes, but them butternut trousers ain't wha they used to be when they was young and limber," Uncle Peabody remarked.. "Seems so they was get-tin' get-tin' kind o' wrinkled an' baldheaded-like, baldheaded-like, 'specially where I set down." "Ayes ! Wal I guess a man can't grow old without ' his pants growin' old, too ayes !" said Aunt Deel. "If yer legs are in 'em ev'ry Sunday , they ketch it of ye," my uncle an swered. "Long sermons are hard on ' pants, seems to me." "An' the longer the legs the harder the sermons in them little seats over t the schoolhouse ayes !" Aunt Deel added by way- of justifying his complaint. com-plaint. "There wouldn't be so much wear In a ten-mile walk no I" The chicken pie was baking and the strawberries were ready for the shortcake. short-cake. "I've been wallerin' since the dew was off glttin' them berries an' vi'-lets vi'-lets ayes !" said Aunt Deel, now busy ivlth her work at the stove. "Aunt, you look as young as ever," I remarked. She slapped my arm and said with mock severity : "Stop that ! , W'y ! You know better ayes !" How vigorously she stirred the fire then. "I can't return the compliment my soul ! how you've changed ayes !" she remarked. "I hope you ain't fit no more, Bart. I can't bear to think o' you flyin' at ' i folks an' poundin' of 'em. Don't seem right no. it don't!" "Why, Aunt Deel, what In the world do you mean?" I asked. "It's Purvis' brain that does the poundin', I guess," said my uncle. "It's kind o' got the habit. It's a reg'-lar reg'-lar beetle brain. To hear him talk ye'd think he an' you could clean out the hull Mexican nation barrin' accidents. acci-dents. Why, anybody would suppose that yer enc uies go to clinibin' trees did not lapse into the dialect of his fathers when he spoke of the ancient pastimes of hunting and fishing as he had been wont to do. "Bart," he said when the greetings were over, "let's you and me go and spend a day in the woods. I'll leave my man here to help your uncle while you're gone." We went by driving south a few miles and tramping in to the foot of the Stillwater on our river a trail long familiar to me. The dog left us soon after we took it and began to range over thick wooded hills. We sat down among small, spirelike spruces at the river's edge with a long stretch of water in sight while the music of the hound's voice came faintly to our ears from the distant forest. "Oh, I've been dreaming of this for a long time," said the senator as he leaned back against a tree and filled his lungs and looked out upon the water, wa-ter, green with lily pads along the edge and flecked with the last of the white blossoms. "I believe you want to leave this lovely country." "I am waiting for the call to go," "Well, I'm inclined to think you are the kind of man who ought to go," he answered almost sadly. "You are needed. I have been waiting until we should meet to congratulate you on your behavior at Cobleskill. I think you have the right spirit that is the all-important matter. You will encounter en-counter strange company in the game of politics. Let me tell you a story." He told me many stories of his life in Washington, interrupted by a sound like that of approaching footsteps. We ceased talking and presently a flock of partridges came near us, pacing along over the mat of leaves in a leisurely lei-surely fashion. We sat perfectly still. A young cock bird with his beautiful ruff standing out, like the hair on the back of a frightened dog, strode toward us with a comic threat in his manner. It seemed as if he were of half a mind to knock us into the river. his back. I want to be able to testify that I am at least partly qualified." "Your uncle didn't say anything about fetching the deer across a deep river without a boat, did he?" Mr. Wright asked me with a smile. Leaves of the beeches, maples and basswoods yellowed by frost hung like tiny lanterns, glowing with noonday noon-day light, above the dim forest aisle which we traveled. The sun was down when we got to the clearing. , "What a day it has been !" said Mr. Wright when we were seated in the wagon. "One of the best in my life," I answered an-swered with a joy in my heart the like of which I have rarely known in these many years that have come to me. We rode on in silence with the calls of the. swamp ' robin and the hermit thrush ringing in our ears as the night fell. "It's a good time to think, and there we take different roads," said my friend. "You will turn into the future and I into the past." "I've, been thinking about your uncle," he said by and by. "He Is one of the greatest men I have ever know n. You knew of that foolish gossip about him didn't you?" "Yes." I answered. "Well, now, he's gone about his business busi-ness the sama as ever and showed by his life that it couldn't be true. Not a word out of him ! But Dave Ramsey fell sick down on the flat last winter. By nnd by his children were crying for bread and the poormnster was going to take charge of them. Well, who should turn up there, just in the nick of time, but Delia and Peabody Baynes. They fed those children all winter and kept them in clothes so that they could go to school. The strange thing about it is this : It was Dave Ramsey who really started that story. He got up in church the other night and confessed his crime. His conscience wouldn't let him keep it.