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The Two Neighbors

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One evening as the tvrilight was dusking into deeper sliades, Faxmer Welton stood iu his dooryard, with a gun in hi9 hands, and saw a dog coming out from bis shed. It was not his dog, for his ■was of a light color, while tliis was surely black. The shed alluded to was open m front, with doublé doors for the passage of carta, and a wickot for pedestxiaus at the back ; and this shed was part of a continnous striicture connecting the barn with the house. Around baok of tuis shed was the sheep-fold. ïhere had been trouble upon Farmer Welton's place. Dogs had been killing his sheep - and some of the vi ry best, at tliat. He had declared, in his wi-ath, that he would shoot tho hrst stray dog he found prowling about his premisos. On this evening, by chance, he had been carrying his gun from the house to tlie baru, wlien tho canine intrudèr appeared. Aye, and in the barn he had been taking the skin f rom a valnable shoep which had been killed and mangled with tigerish I ferocity. So, when he saw the strange dog coming throngh liis shed, he brought the gun to his shoulder, and, with quick, sure aim, flred. The dog gave a lenp and a howl, and having whisked around iu a circle, two or three times, ho bounded off in a tangent, yelping painfully, and was soon lost to sight. " Hallo ! wliat's to pay now, Weiton?" " Ah- is that yon, Frost ?" "Yes. Ye been shootin' somethin', aintye?" "l've shot a dog, I think." " Ye e-s. I soed Mm scootin off. It ■was Brackett's, I reckon." Before the farmer could make any further remark, his wife called to him from the porch, and he went in. Very shortly afterward a boy and a girl came out through the shed, as the dog had came. Down back of Welton's farm, distant half a mile, or so, was a saw and grist mili, with quite a little settlement around it ; and people having occasion to go on foot from that section to the farms on the hill could out off a long distanee by crossing Welton's lot. The boy and girl were chüdren of Mr. Brackett. When they reached home tliey were met by a scène of dire confuBion. Oíd Cario, the grand old Newj foundland dog - the loving and the loved - the true and the faithful - liad come home shot through the head, and was dying. The children threw themselves i upon their shaggy mate, and wept and moaned in agony. Mr. Brackett amved juat as the dog breathed his lat. One of the older boys stood by with a lighted lantern - tor it had grown quite dark now - and the farmer saw what had happened. "Who did this?" he asked, groanimgly. "John Wel ton did it," said Torn Frost, coming np at that moment. " He's been losin' sheep, an' I guess he's got kind o' wrathy." " But my dog never killed a sheep - i never ! He's been reared to care for sheep. How came he down there ?" " He went over to the mili with Sis and me," said the younger boy, sobbing as he spoke ; " and he was running on aliead of us toward home. I heard a gun just before we got to Mr. Welton's, but oh ! I didn't think he could havo shot poor Cario !" Mr. Brackett was fairly beside j self . To say he was angry would not i expresa it. He had loved that dog- it had been the chief pet of his household for years. He was not a mau in the habit of uring profane language, but on the present occasion a fierce oath escaped him ; and in that frame of mind - literally boiling with hot wrath and indignation - he started for Weltou's. John Welton and Peter Braekett had been neighbors from their earliest days, and they had been friends, too. Between tíie two familias there had been a bond of love and good wil!, and a spirit of fraternal kindness and regard had marked their intercourse. Both the farmers wore hard-working men, with stror g feclings andjwsitive cliaracteristios. They belongeti to Üie same religifniH society, and aympathized in politics. Thoy had had warm discussions, but never yfct t. direct iallmg out. Ut tli" t wo, Welton was the more intellectual, and, perhaps, a little more tinged with pride than was his neighbor. But they wöre both hearty men, enjoying life for the good it gave them. Mr. Weltou entered his kitchen, and etood the empty gim up behind the door. " What's the matter, John?" his wife asked, as she saw his troublcd face. " I'm afraid I've done a bad thiug?' he replied regretfully. " I fear I have shot Tirackett's dog." "Oh, John!" " But I didn't know whose dog it was I Baw him coming out from the ehed - it was too dark to see more than that i was v. dog. I only thought of the shee] I had lost, and Ifired." "I ani sorry, John. O, liow Mrs. Brackett and thè children will feel. They ' set everything by oíd Cario. But you can explain it." i "Yes - I can espía in it." Half au liour later Mr. Weltou was going to his barn with a lighted lantern ■ in his Dand. He was thinking of the ] cent unfortunate occiirrence, and was sorely worried and perplexed. What wonld hifl neighbor say? He hoped , there might be no trouble. He wae reflecting thus when Mr. Brackett appeared beforo him, coming up quickly, and stopping witli an angry stamp of the foot. Now there may bo a volume of olectnc influence even in the stamp of a foot, and there was such an influence in the stamp which Brackett gave ; and Welton feit it, and braced himself against it. There was, moreoyer, an atmosphere exhaliug from the presence of the irate man at once repellant and aggravating. "John Welton ! you have shot my dog!" The words were hissed forttí hotly. "Yes," said Welton, ïcily. "How dabed you do it? ' "I dare shoot any dog that comes prowling around my buildings, especially when I havo had my sheep killed by thern." "Butmy dog nevcr troubled your sheep, and you know it," " How should I know it i" " You know that he never did harm to a áheep. It wasn't in his nature. It i was a mean, cowardly act, and (au oath) you shall suffer for it !" "Brackett, you don't kuow to whom you are talking." "Obo!" (another oath) " We'll find out ! We'll see ! Don't put on airs, John Welton. You ain't a saint. I'll I have satisfaction, if I have to take it out of your hide!" "Peter, you'd better go home and: cool off. You are making yourself culous." Now, really, this was the unkindest cut of all. Not all the niad words of Brackett put together. were so hard as this siDgle gentence; and John Welton put all the bitter sarcasm of the command into it. Braekett burst forth into a torreut of invective, and then turned away. Half aa hour later John Welton acknowledged to liimself that he had not done exactly right. Had be, in the ( set in answer to Braokott's first outburst - told tlie simple truth - that he ; had shot the dog by mistake ; that he was sorry ; and that he was willing to do anything in bis power to make amends -had he done this, his neighbor would ; probably have softened at once. But it was too late now. The blow had been struok ; he had been gro&sly insulted ; and he would not back down. Mr. Brackett was not so reflective. He only feit his wrath, wldch he nnrsed to keep it warm. That evening he hitched his horse to a job-wagon and went down to the village af ter a barrel of flour. Having transacted his store business, he called upon Laban Pepper, a lawyer, to whom he narrated the facts of the shooting of liis dog. Pepper was a man anxious for fees. He had no sympathy or soul above that. "Yonsayyour dog was in company with two of your chüdren ?" "Yes." " And this passage over Mr. Welton's land, and through his shed, has been freely yielded by him as a right of way to his neighbors ?" 1 ' Yes, sir, ever since I can remember. " Then, my dear sir, Welton ia clearly Hable. If yon will come with me, we will step into Mr. Garüeld's and have a suit commenced at once." Mr. üarfield was the trial Justice. _ All this harwened on Friday ovening. On Saturday it liad become noised abroad in the farraing district that there was not only serious trouble between neighbors Welton and Brackett, bmt that they were going to law abcmt it. On Sunday morning John Welton told his wife he should not atteud church. She could go if she likeJ. She had no need to aak her husband why he would not go out. She knew he was unhappy, and that he could not bear to meet his old neighbor in the house of God while the dark cloud was upon Mm. Nor did she wish to meet either Mr. or Mrs. Braokett. So they both stayed at home. Peter Brackett was even more miserable than John Welton, though perhaps he did not know it. He held in close j companionship the very worst demon a man can embrace - the demon of lul vengeance ; and in order to maintain himself at the stroin to which ho had set his feehngs, he was obliged to nurse the monster. He did not attend chureh on tliat day, nor did his wife. Two or three times during that calm, beautiful Sabbath, as he glanced over toward his neighbor's dwelling, he found himself beginning to wish that he had not gono to see John Welton in such a heat of anger ; but he put the wish away, and nursed back bis wrath. On Monday, toward noon, the Constable carne up from the village, and red to John Welton an imposing legal document. It was a summons issued by William Garfield, Esq. , a Justice of the Peace and Quorum, ordering the said John Welton to appear bef ore min, at two of the clock, on Wednesday, at hin office, then and there to answer to the complaint of Peter Brackett, etc., ele. The officer read the summons, and left with the defendant a copy. It was the ñrst time John Welton liad ver been called upon to face the law. At first he was awe-stricken, and then he ■was wroth. He told himaelf that he would fight it to the bitter end. And now he tried to nurse his wrath, and became more unhappy than bef ore. On Tuesday evening, Parson Surely called upon Mr Welton. The good man had heard of the trouble, and was exceedingly exercised in spirit. Both he men were of his flock, and he loved and respected them both. Ho sat down alone witli Welton, and asked Mm what t meant. "Teil me, calmly and candidly, all aboutit," he said. After a little reflection, Mr. Welton told the story. He knew the old clergyman for a true man, and a whole-hëarted íriend, and he told everythuig just as he nnderstood it. " And neighbor Brackett think s, even now, that you shot the dog knowing it was his ?" " I suppose so." " If you liad told him the exact f acts in tlie begimiing, do you think ho would have hfld his anger V' ïhis was n hard question for John Welton, but he aaiswered it manfully. " Trnly, parson, I do not think lie would." "Were you ever more unhappy in your life than you have been since this trouble cnmc." " I think not." "And, if possible, neighbor Brackett is more unhappy than you." "DoyoutMnkso?" "Yes. He is the most angry anti fcngefiü." A brief pause, and theu the parson resumed: "Brotlier Weltou, rith youare needed but few words. You are a stronger man tlian brother Brackett. Do you not believe he han a good lieart?" "Yes." " I wish you coukl show lam how true j und good yowr own heart is." " Parson I" " I wish you coiüd bhow hini tliat you possess truo Cliristiau courage." "Parsou, what do you meau?" " I wish you had the courage to meot liirn and conquor him." " How would ycu have me do it?" "First, conquer yonrself. You are: aot offended " No. Go on." And thereupon tho good old clergyman drew up his chair and laid bis hand upon his friend's arm, and told him just wliat he would have him do. Ho spoke j earnestly, and with tears in his eyes. "Brother Walton, have you the heart ! and the courage to do this ? ' The farmer arose and took two or three txirns across the floor ; and finally he said: "I'wüldoit!" On the following day, towards the ' middle of the forenoon, Poter Brackett stood in his door-yard vdth his head bent. He was thinking whether he ! sheuld harness his norse and be off fore dinner, or whether he would wait until afternoon. He could not work ; he could not even put his miad to ordinary chores. " I wonder," he said to hiinself, " how the trial will come out ! I s'pose Welton j '11 hire old Whitinan to take his cabe, i Of course the office '11 be crowded. Torn Frost says it's noised everywhere, and that everybody '11 be there. Plague tako it ! I wisn- " His meditations were interrupted by approaching steps, and on looking up he j beheld noighbor Welton. "Good morning, Peter." Brackett gasped, and finally answered: " Good moming," though rather crustily. Welton went on, frankly and ! antly : " You will go to the village to-day ?" "I s'pose so." " I have been summoned by Justice Garñeld to be there, also ; but really, Peter, I don't want to go. One of us will be enongh. Garfleld is a fair man, ind when he knows the facts he will do . what is right. Now, yon can state them ! . as well as I can, and whatever his { . ion is, I will abide by it. You can teil him that I shot your dog, and that your . dog had done me no harm." "Do you acknowledge that oíd Cario nevor harmed you - that he never troubled your sheep?" inquired Brackett, with startled surprise. " It was not his nature to do harm to anything. I am sure he would have sooner saved one of my sheep than have killed it." " Tlien what did you shoot him for ?" " That is what I was just coming at, Peter. You will teil the Justice that I had lost several of my best sheep - killed by dogs - that I had just been taking the skin from a fat, valuabls wether that had been so killed and mangled - that I was on my way from my barn to my iouse, with my gun in my hand, when I saw a dog come out from my shed. My ftrst thought was that he liad come from my slieep-fold. It was almost dark and I could not see plainly. Teil the Justice that I had no idea it was your dog. I never dreamed that I had fired that cruel shot at old Oaïlo until Torn Frost told me." " How ? You didn't know it was my j dog?" " Peter, have you thought so hard of me as to thmk that I could knowingly and willingly have harmed that grand old dog ? . I would sooner havo shot one ot nay oivn oxon." "But, you didn't teil me so at flrst. Why didn't you ?" " Becaise you camo uponme so - so - suddenly - " "O, pshaw!" cried Brackett, with a stamp of his foot. "Why don't you spit it out as it was ? Say I carne down on you so like a hornet that you hadn't a chance to think. I was a blamed fooi I - that's what I was." "And I was another, Peter; if I hadn't been I should have told you the truth at once, inetead of flaring up. But we will understand it now. You can see the Justice - " "Justice be hangedl- John - Dang j it all ! what's the use ? There !- Let's end it so 1" From her window Mrs. Brackett had seen the two men come together, and she trembled for the result. By and by she saw her husband, as though flushed and excited, put out his hand. Mercy ! was ie goiug to strike liis neighbor ? She was ready to cry out with affright - the cry was almost upon her lips- when she aeheld a scène that called forth rejoioing instead. And this was what she saw : She saw these two strong men grasp one anotber by the hand, and she saw big, bright tears rolling down their cheeks ; and she knew that the fear.ul storm was pawsed, and that the warm sunshine of love and tranquility would como again.


Old News
Michigan Argus