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Two Important Papers

Two Important Papers image
Parent Issue
Day
20
Month
September
Year
1878
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

" I don't know what I sball dew with ihat ere boy," said Farmer Long to his wife, as they sat by the fíre that winter morning. " He's more harum-ekarum han that State's reform-seUool boy was. " "Well, father, have patience with him 'or the sake of his folks. I think there's something in Jim that will surprise yon, one of these days. " " I dunno whether he'll supprise me enny more'n he has er not. Last spring ie made b'lieve he knowed all 'bout Diling down sap, 'nd supprised me by 3urnin' the bottom uv the pan eout, nd settin' the sap-house on fire. Last summer he broke more tools in hayin' ;ime than all the rest uv us together. And, dear me ! Yeou'd orter seen him dig pertaters last fall ! 111 venture he cut every third one in tew - struck at 'em 3z ef he was splittin' rock-maple logs. 'Nd neow he's broke my best three-tined pitchf ork, some way, a feedin' the cattel. He's only 16 y'r old. Ef he does this in the green tree, what in nater '11 he dew in the dry ?" After these remarks about the boy he had taken to keep until he was of age, the farmer started for the barn. He was bending over the great meal-chest, just inside the barn-door, as a tandem team was turning around the corner of the barn. This team coneisted of a wild yearling steer, and the boy, Jim Fowler. The " team " vas on the " dead " rnn. The youth had hold of the steer's tail with his left hand, and held aloft a milking-stool in his right. Mr. Long was unaware of danger; and, when something struok him, and immediately he found himself on his back in the meal-chest, his first thought was of an earthquake or a tornado, or other dread outbreak of foices. He emerged from the chest just in time to seo his lime-backed steer pass on into the stable, and Jim Fowler arise, halfatunned, from the floor. "Yeou young scamp !'"he thundered, " yeou'll murder somebody yit - er - fet I shall, cf yeati don't stop yer dumbcd work." The boy did not laugh at the millerlike appearance of the man. His own face was quite as white as the farmer's aa he said : " I'm awful sorry, Mr. Long." " I dunno whether yer be er not," replied the latter ; " but I'll teil y e ceow 'nd here, Jim Fowler, wbat's what, when yer father died yeou haden't a relativo left-" "No, sir, they wan't none left," broke in the youth, and the tears filled his eyes. "I promised him, a little afore he died, I'd take care on ye until yeou was old enough ter take care uv ye'self, 'nd dew well by ye- give ye a commonsohool eddication 'nd so on. 'N d I mean ter dew it ef yer conduct don't become onbarable, But yeou must bo more stiddy 'nd manlike, 'nd not jilague me ter death by yer recklessness. D'ye hear?. "Yis sur'n I'm goin' ter try, Mr. Long." "That's the sorter talk. I want ye ter go ter sohool 'nd git ter be ez smart ea Jennie is, ef ye can, Yeou er tew years older'n she is, 'nd y'ain't nowhere side uv her." "Iknowit. I ain't nowhere side uv her." Jennie, the farnier's daughter, was a bright girl, and as prctty as a pink. Jim did not wonder that her father and mother were proud of her, nor that they feit there was a vast differenoe between him and her. He thought there was himself, and he btlieved she did, for one day of .the last sv.mmer, when he stumbled on to her flower-bcrl, she spoke sharply at him and, if he had not misunderstood her, called him a "beggar." He was careless and stupid. If she had said as nmch,hewould have thought it justiflable under the eircumstances. But for her to speak in that way - as if his misfortune was bis fault - made him almost hate her. He did net answer baek, but the look he gave her kept her from ever repeating that taunfc, and also from forgettlng that she had once made it. Yet he continue! to be the same careless "Jim " up to this winter morning. But when Mr. Long had administered his reproof and returned to the house to brush the meal irom his clothes, the youth feil into a profound meditation, out of which he carne with this ejaeulation: " I'll do it !" When the nexfc term of school begon, there wc re two ncholars from Farmer Long's. Jennie aiid Jim. They went together; but separated when they got there, for Jennie was in in a higher depaïtment than Jim could enter. This was the flrst term the latter had ever bcgun with a determination to learn. That he was so determined is proved by the answer he gave to his teacher on the first day of school, when 8lie asked him, among other things, what he wanted to do; it was this: "I want ter git ter know ez much ez Jennie Long doos." How did he come out ? WeU, he went to school every term for three years. He studied evenings and all the time when not at work, during vacations. By incessant devotion to his books through those three years he was able to master all the text-books used in that institution. For the last two terms of his course, he was a member of Jennie's classes. He graduated when she did; and, in most of their joint studies, was marked several points above her. How did Jim think he carne out ? Going home with Jennie that last day, af ter school had closed, he repeated the words Mr. Long had spoken three yeare before : " Y'ain't nowhere side uv her;" and thought they were truer now than ever. Had the "want ter git ter know," with which be began, given place to a " want " less likely to be satisfled? If Jennie had been aware that her own views ooncerning the result of their rivalry - if it was such - coincided with Jim's she probably would not have expressed herself as she did to her mother, that evening, when they two were alone. "I suppose," said she, "he thinks he has done a wonderful thiug ; but I don't. If I had studied and studied and studied as he has. I should have been far ahead of the great - great - ' giant. But of course I don't care a fig about it, mamma. " Whether Jennie's rernarks iudicated '■ a happy f rarae of mind or not, might be ' a question. But without question she ' used a very happy word when J she spoke of Jim as a giant, ' for he was a mighty youth. ' Jennie was really petite. Sheknewit; ! but it did not trouble her that those j girls who were famiiiar with her called ' her " Little Jennie Long." ' Jim knew that he was of great stature for his age ; and was a little sensitive on ■ that point. I don't think he faneied being called " Big Jim," and it may have been his aversión to that name that accounted for his blushing so deeply one morning oí his last term, when he had taken his seat at the opening of the school. Some mischievous boys had written a stanza on the blackboard - which was on the wall that faced the seats - and written in suoh a large hand that every scholar ootild read it from where he sat. This is a copy of the lofty verse that the teacher bastonea to erase, as soon as she discovered what the scholars were laughing at: But one darea write- what everyone knows - That Beveral liltLe. fellows fret, Beuause a chance they never get To walk aüd talk with Jennie Long. Who hinders thein ? Big Jim -the strong. He cornee with her, and with her goes ; And ihlnks she wants nina to, I 'spose. When Jim's eye caught that, his face turned very red, as red as - Jennie's. The youth that wrote that poem " dared " to write it; but he did not dare to make himself known. Of course it was nothing but " boy 's play," but Jim feit that he was near enough to being a man to look at it from a man's stand-point. AuJ, looking at ïtin thatlight, he thought it proper to teil Jennie that night when they ■went home that he was very sorry that some mean fellow had annoyed her in such a way; that he would flnd out the puppy who wrote the stuff and give him a sound thrashing. But Jennie, to the surprise of Jim, cculd not see wherein she had been injured to an extent that demanded any such course as he proposed to take. And she dissuaded him from his sanguinary purpose. Not easily, however, but by arguments made in an earnest manner, and urged more and more stroEgly, until he was conquered. Without meaning it, perhaps, Jennie said some things, before they reached her father's door, that were calculated to mislead JimaSjto the place he occupied in herthoughts. It was nothiüg positively encouraging; but sometaing that came nearer to being that than anything ehe had ever before said to him. Of course it must have been unintentional, for notliing in the line was repeated during their walks to and from sohcol the remainder of the term. And when Ihe term closed, as was said before, Jim feit tüat she was farther from him than ever. He saw, with the clearness of visión that is characteristic of voung men in his stato of mind, tLe hopelessness of any attempt to make himself her equal in any respect, and then acted as a youth in his circumstances usually does. He intended to remain with Mr. Long until he was of age, for he knew he could be of great service to the farmer in the two years that intervened between the present and that time. And he wishcd to repay the latter for his kindness to him. For the first few months of those two years he was apparently quite self-possesued in his assooiation with Jennie. But that is all that can be said to his credit. He broke down - utterly euccumbed - before six months had passed, proposed, and - told Jenme he did not blame her for not oaring for him, and boped she would forgive liim for ing such ft poor creature as himself to one like her; that he could not help it; that he feit he must know what he was to her, and now he did know. Jim had discovered Jennie the evening when he asked that question, sitting on the bench under the great maple back of the house. There she left him, and went into the house; and there for a long time he reniained af ter she had gone, sitting in her place, with a sensation at his heart unlike anything he had ever bef ore experienced. Not content ed to let "well enough " alone, he had gore from the negative comfort of conjecture into the positivo pain of certainty. The next morning he entered npon hts labors, with lees encouragement than Jacob did upon his, aftor Laban's second promise. Leiss by as much as a refusal is less than a promise. And Jennie ? If her night's rest had been less sweet and refreshing than usual, she showed no signe of it. She appeared to be merrier than she had been for some time. Early in the day, when she and her mother were engaged in the labors of the household, she surprised the latter very much by a "season " of laughing - a season of very violent laughiDg. "Jennie!" exclaimed Mrs. Long, at last, dropping into a chair, " What does ail yoil ? " Why, mamma, it's the funniest thing - I've been proposed to." ' ' Proposed to ? By whom ?" "By Jim." " By our Jim, Jennie 1" " Our Jim, mammaí" " The foolkh boy ! Of cotirse you told him, kindly, that you were both too young to thiuk of marriage. Your father was 26 and I was 22 when we were married. What did you teil him, Jennie?" " I told bim- no !" " That was right; only I hope you did not hurt his feelingp any more than was necessary. I trust he will forget all about it soon - " "What, mamma?" " I mean, Jennie, that I hope he will see how foolish he has been, r.nd forget all about you bef ore he goes away." " Oh, certainly - I hope he will- will forget-and--"-Bee how ie is before then. He B poor, you know - very poor. I - I told him so. I wanted to - help - him for- forget, as you say, and so I said in case I married, in the course of twenty or twenty-flve years, I should probably wed a vary rich man; and then I shouldn't be any trouble to my- hus - husband; but that I shouldn't do for a poor man at all." "Well, Jennie, I do sinoerely wish that he may soon care as little for you as you do for him." As the months passed away, Mrs. Long, watching Jim, concluded that he had not suiïered much by the rejection he Lad received. The kind-hearted woman was glad to think it was so. Considering all things the less attraction her daughter had for the young fellow the better. Jennie also, hoping as we may suppose tbat Jim, for the sake of his peaoe of mind, wonld outgrosv his affection for her, after a little while, decided that he had. She was very glad of it. And yet there was a tinge of melancholy in the discovery. She was glad for his sake, because he had suffered so ; but it was - abstractly considered- a very solemn thought that so strong an attachment was so shoit-lived. Not that she would have had it last ïonger in this particular case - O, no ; but there might come a time when she should want to know that I I 'IIH WütíJUl Dll bllUUlU WH.111 LKJ &MUW tiltil ] the ono who had so great a regard for her wns to have it forever. But what was she to expect ? Was Jim a fair sample of mankind in this respect ? . If Farmer Long had been an observing man, during these days he would have seen coming into Jhn's face something that ccnld not have failed to remind him of the time when the youth's , mother and Mrs. Long were girls, and the best-looking ones in the village. The father's strength had come into Jim's i body and limbs, but he was getting his mother's face, by installments. These were to be his posse3sions when he was of age. As his 21st year drew toward its close, i he could not teil whether to be glad or : sorry for it. His reason told him to go, i and forget - he had not forgotten, you see - in the excitement of business j wbere, his disappointment. But that heart of his kept forever answering "Stay another year." He was in this state of mind the day bef ore he was il. After dinner that day he went and sat on the bench under the great maple. He went there that he might be alone to decide whether he would follow the dictates of his reason or give way to the longings of his heart. Reason at last carried the day. He arose from his seat, and said aloud, and decisively, "I shall go." It was settled. He had told the family all ■üong that he should go away when he became of age. He was gladthey knew it and hadbecome reconciled to (perhaps wished) it. He was set pon looking straight ahead now, and determined not to look back. ■ And he did look straight ahead - j Look ? he stared, for just a second or two, and then went ahead, straight and fast. Up the slightly-ascending meadow Jennie was running toward the house; and, not far behind her, was the 4-yearold back, pursuing. It was fortúnate for Jennie Long then that Jim was near; and that he was " big " and strong and brave. Jim was bent on getting between Jennie and that mad brute, and he could not stop to find weapons. He rushed past her, and at that moment her strength gave way, and she feil. If Jim had made a mismove- but he did not. With great rlexterity he seized the animal by the liorna as it carne up, and, putting forth all his strength, drew its head with such force and tmddenness to one side as to throw it down. Then, springing to whero Jennie had ariseD, and etood unable to move from fright, he caught her in his arms and bore her to a place of safety over the wall. When Jennie could speak, she turned to Jim and asked, "Whatif you had been killed ?" " Oh, there would have been a beggar less, that's all," said he, and walked away. An hour later Jim, in a deep rêverie, was eitting under the old map]e. He heard the rnstling of a dress, the sound of approaehiug feet, and then Jennie's gentle cali, "Jim?" He arose and looked at her. "Jim, do you - hate me?" " No, worse than that - -for me." "Warse? Then you - don't - feel toward me as - as, you did once?" "No, for I love you more." "Truly, Jim?" "Truly." "Well, then you may read what I havo witten on this paper; but don't opon it till I get a long way off." Sho handed him the paper and turned and wfüked. in the áireotion oí tlie house. Jim was not long in opening tbat note and reading: Deab Jim : Den't go away. Jennie. Nor did tbo writer of it get a "long way" off before ho overtook her. Wlien Jim and JennÍ9 entered the holtse together, a littie later, Farmer LoMg looked at them sharply for a moment, and then, as if what he saw warranted him, he aróse and alsohanded Jim a paper, saying as he did so: "I sh'd ïike ter have yeou look this ere dockerment over'n see ef it is kerreot. I don't want no mistake 'bout it. The place that jines mine was fur sale 'n l'vo bot it. This ere's the deed on't." And so it was. Acd Ihat "dockerment" was made to run to James Fowler and his hê'fs.

Article

Subjects
Old News
Michigan Argus