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The Mountain Shanty

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'You are sure to carry the valise to the depot Joe and have it checked - or no, no; wait until I come; you'll besure to make a mistake. I wiflh - " and Walter Ducliiï turned from the footman to his mother; 'I wisli the time had come when machines could take the place of servants. Oneadvantage in a machine is that you know its capacity; it doesn't make pretentions of being a rational human being, and then fail at the critical moment.' Mrs. Duclitï, a fair, delicate woman, who was drawn close to the open flre, witli a velvet mantle wrapped about her, shook lier head gently, and when the man was gone, said: 'Walter, indeed you have too little consideration for your inferiora. There is no need to mortify the man in that manner.' 'Bless your heart, mother, you know nothing about that kind of people. Joe didn't understand, and if he liad he would not have cared. I pay him higli wages, and there's not a day lie does not" have an odd half-dollar or f all heir to soine of boots or my clothes.That's all he needs for happiness.' 'Joe's feelings at the bottom are the same as ours, my son.' 'I Joeg your pardon,' flushing hotly 'but that'l cannot believe. The lower classes, black and white, have been hardened by generations of need and hard woik. Nqw your tastes and emotions have come to you through many lives of ease and culture; they lost them, in the. fight for daily bread. The music oí' noble thoughts that would stir your soul to its depths, would fall oiï from Joe as a drop of water from an alligator 's back.' Walter had fallen into a sort of oratorical twang, which he had brought with him from college. He was absolutely sure of his opinión, as the girls and boys of seventeen usually are, and liked to set them forth fitly in plenty of words. :'You are too vain of your birth; my dear,' said his mother, quietly. 'You will feel diiterently wlieu you are older.' 'Mother, is it possible tl uit you inemi to say that the material and diameter of a ïnaii's life does not depend largely upon liis birth Y Why, look up here to the faces of niy aneestors, tliey liave borne a high, honorable part in the liistory of civflization, politics, art and literatura 1 begin every day feeling their eyes are upon me. I ain glad and proud,' pieking up a pen and llourishing it over a blank book, 'that the name I write is the name tliey bore; that it is their very blood wliich llows in niy veins. Wliat has .loe to remember beyond two nameleea alavés, who were Uis father and mother?' 'All very true, Walter. Yet God made of one blood all the people of the earth, and soine of these, days you will uecognize your kinsmen, I think. It is nearly time for the train, isn't it, dearf 'It's quite time.' Glancing at his watch, he drew on his furred overcoat, and unconsciously paseed his flngera over the waxed ends of his very small niustache. 'Good-bye mother darling. L'll write froni Harrisburg. I do hope I niay manage the business right and satisfy father.' 'No fearofthat, Walty.' Sin; lield him for a moment, as he stooped to kiss her, with lier hands holding each side of his face, looking fondly at his delicate features and clear, intelligent eyes. 'God send you safely home, my son You'll try and be back by Christmas V There is a ball at your couain's, and you're all of my hol iday, remember.' 'Oh! 111 he ba : l'll not fail in that whatever comes,' and then, with auother liasty kiss, he was gone, springing ilown the stairs and trolling out some college catch. Nature had given him a elear tenor voiee, of which he was not alittleproud Indeed, he tbongbt sometimes (just enough) that nature had given him her best material, and that it would be his own fault if he turned out a falluie, instead of one of the foremost class of men. He had just lef t college and had been taken into his father's counting-room as contidential clerk. ïhis was his flrst journey on business of the ilrrn, and he had a slirewd suspicion that it was to test his capacity. He was quite sure, from the fact that Saunders, the old cashier, met him at the depot and placed in his hand the sealed papers o instruction, instead of sending it by messenger. 'Don't you neglect any trille, Mi Walt' iy Baid the old man, atgnillcautl; 'Your fatlier requires absolute précis ion in the least clerk, and lie'll requir it more in one vvhom he wishes to 1 his partner.' Walter nodded and buttoned up th packagein his breast, and in a fewmoments he was whizzing away over tlie snow covered lields. The business for a week or two was easy and pleasant enough. Money was tu bé collected and remitted by draft. ïlie hotels at Harrisburg and Johnston were eomfortable. Walter had plenty of money, and threw it about hini like a young lord. He was a generóos, frank, genial fellow with his equals, and 'the Ducliffri of l'hiladelphia,' he wrote to his motlier, 'had the entree, of course, to the best society every whero.' Ilis last work was the settlement of some claim in tlie mountain eountrien, then lie could go home. These people vvith whoni he had to deal had not heard of the Ducliffs, but they were well-bred and educated and Walter found friends on every side. lt was liimself, he thought, not his ancestors, whicli giiined him friends here. Gentlemen themselves, they knew a gentleman by instinct. He was coniirined in liis theory that the educated classes Conn a soit of Freemaaonry every where of mutual help and brotherhood. As for ignornant boors, as "Walter was fond of calling them, they were out in a general limbo of vice and want and reed. 'What I can do for your favorite loor, I will, mother,' he wrote loftily, but the more I see of them the less I ike the habits of either souls or )odies.' Now Walter was not strong, and the change fiom his hot-house life to the fitter cokl of the mountain range began o teil on Mm. When the last paper vas signed, andhesteppedintothecars, ie was hot and feverish. In two days ie would be at home. 'Barely in time for Jennie's ball,' ;hought he. "Wheu he reached Altoona, Uien only a wayside station, it was late in the ifternoon. As he went into the waitng-rooni a telegram was hamled to ïiin. 'If possible, go to Wriglit's furnace and take directions from Sutton as to railroad. 'WhereisWright's f urnace ?' lie asked of tlie station master. 'Back sixty miles on the branch that 'Ou crossed at noon. The express has uflt gone. You had better wait until lornlng.' Seeing that the boy hesitatd, 'ïhere's a storm coming up.' To go at all was to give up the ball ie and Jennie had talked of f or raonths. ïe says 'if possible,' and it is not posible.' The next instant heblushed with líame. It he waited until to-morrow e would oe too late for Christmas and isappoint his mother. Til g ) to-night,' lie said. 'The f reight train's not heated, mind, oung man.' Til go.' Tlucky little chap,' said the station laster 'as Ducliff, valise in hand, :rang upon the dirty cars as they imbled along. He crept into the orner of one and feil asleep. About 1 o'clock the conductor shook him. 'Here's your landing place, my lad.' Eh? How? ïhefumace- ' 'No; the nearest station. Wright's urnace lies two miles np that road. fou'd better stay aboard the, train and ome down from Finville in the niomig. It's a tongh tramp through the now; and there's no tavern at the furace. Unless you've got soine friends here - " "No, no." The snow, mixel with a sharp sleet, ras falling. Walter looked out at the hosüy shapes :f the niountains and te lneak in the great forost up which e was to walk. The solitude of the ight was in itself terrible. "Good night. I'll risk it," he said, umping off. The old knight ainong lis progenitor liad not shirked duner; and he could do his devoir if it wre only to keen a promise to his lother, or be prompt in his wovk as i ïerchant's clerk. Besides, the Sutons were a thoroughbred people of his wn class. ïhey would make him velcome, of cuurse. He had liigli cavalry boots, luit the now oozed in at the tops of them, and lis teet were soon hu inch deep in icy vator. The two miles' walk up the avine lengthened into six, he wanderd so often from the path. He sang, aughed at every fresh tumble, made okes to himself, which seemed imperInent in the face of theawful solitnde. 5ut he could not help it. He was only i boy, and fun and jokes were the only timulatioB i'or liiin against danger, vhich a man would havefound in grim atience. But he could not ïide the fact that his legs were racked vitli pain and his stomach was empty. Ie had forgotten to eat any supper. Tust after the turn of the night a new noon threw a ghostly whiteness over the mountains, and he saw the shape of half a dozen houses black against he snow. ISTow that help was nearhe feit how ill he really was. 'Furnacea, blacksmiths' shops, carpenters shops,' he added, passing some empty sheos. But two houses were left; one a large, handsome villa, the other a low shanty. TH not disturb the Suttens to-night,' knocking at the last. The knock sounded threatening enough against the unbrokeu silence, A window overhead was raised. 'Wlio'a there?' in a wotuaii's quavering voice. 'A gentleman 011 business to see Mr. Sutton.' 'Mr. Sutton's i Washington; been there six inonths.' Bang! down carne the window. Walter again pounded at tlie door. 'Yon must take me in. 111 pay you vvell for lodging and supper,' he'said, pereniptorily. 'Don't keep a tavern; go to Sutton's if yer business is with Sutton.' 'I ought to liave done tliat at first.' remembei-ing liis resolve never to deal with boors. ín a minute he was knocking confldently on the grim lion's head at Sutton's imposing front door. There was a great deal of confusión within, terriíied voices calling to each other. Visitors of any kind were an unusual event in the mountain solitude; but one in the middle of a winter'a night's only suggested burglara or murdmws. At last the dooropened a narrow crack and the oíd coadunan, in his blue shift and drawers, stood peeping out witl csndle in liand. 'Who's there?' ta a braad Irisl tongue. 'It's I,' pers nasi vely. 'A messenge froin Philadelphia on business to Mi Sutton.' 'Mr. Sutton's gone. lut there's wheen of men folks about tlie house, hastily. 'I'm no housebreaker' odging hi way in, 'Pray give my respecta to Mis. Sutton,' loudly, for lie caught a glinipse of white skirta on the Btaira 'and say that youngMr. Ducliiï is Iieie and begs slie will give him shelter l'or the niglit. I - well, to teil the truth, I am exeeeding cold and hungry.' 'Keep out, keep out, yoimg man, I'l consoolt Mrs. Sutto.' And Waltei heard a hurrled consultation of tonguos in the hall, the coachman's deprecatorj and soothing. 'Nabbit but a cleet oí' a lad, ma'am. No harm In him, 111 warrant yees.' But the lady's voice was sharp and decisive. It's a mere feint to enter the house,' and then followed some whispers of 'plate' and 'unarmed.' 'I know of no Ducliffs," slie said, aloud, looking f uil at Walter. 'Say to the man that it is hnpossible for me to admit a stranger during my husband's absence.' But before the man could reach the door Walter was gone. She had seen lis face plainly and had taken him for i burglar! He went over to one of the sheds and sat down. The cold and ïunger mattered little. This insult from a woman füled his heart with rage and pain such as he had never feit before. It was a blow in the face when his own hands were tied. It was the first time in his life that an suiung woru iiaa been spoken to hun. He laughed a wliile after, by way of recovering liis good liuinor. 'I wonder if tliat blockhead, Joe, feels like this wlien he can't give me back my abuse?' he muttered. Just then the shanty window opened again. The woman had lieard all that had boen at Sutton's. 'See hyur, you boy,' she called. Walter promptly crossed the ïoad, he concluded to lay aside nis dignity until a warmer and less hungry time. 'It's a plaguey risky thing to take you. There's nobody hyur novv but me md my da'ter.' she said, with her liead out of the window. 'I have every respect for you and your daughter, madam.' 'Well, it's certain you'll freeze if you tay out there, 111 venture it.' She ame down stairs and presently opened lie door, wliich her raw-boned figure uite filled. Beyond it lie saw a smoulering fire on the hearth. Jennie's ball, with all its light and brilliancy and ausic, was dull beside the delight of dat dirty kitchen. 'I haven t got another bed,' she hesi;ated, 'and Hot much in the way of i upper, neither,' putting down upon the able a loaf of bread and some cold baon; 'Lord sakes alive ! why, yon're igh unto starved,' as she saw him eat. 'The disease is soon cured,' he said, vith his mouthtfull. 'And if you'll give me a bit of a blanket or carpet, l'll dry íy clothes and sleep here on the floor.' 'You're easy pleased, suspiciously neasuring him withher half-slmt eyes, nd then.satisñed that she could Bcrunch din with eme hand, site added, 'You're ot the sort of build they ruake housereakers of . Them Suttons is ■ a lovv, neliristian lot, for all Iheir money.' 'It was quite right for tlie lady to be n her guard,' Walter replied, haughtiy, standing by his order. 'Well, tliere's my oíd inan'sbreeches; ust hang your own to dry and wrap ourself in this rug.' She retreated up stairs, and it seemed o Walter but a moment before he was tretclied before the blaze, dry and iloatig off in a delicioua dream. 'Xo trains stop at tliis station iintil t-night yon aay?' lie demanded, as lie ose from an early breakfast the next íorning. 'No; you've got to wait. As to crossig the hill to Wayne's station, yon light do it in thesummer, lmt its imtossible now. The expresa train will ;op here at noon.' 'How far is it?' 'It's impossible, I tell yon. Though t's only about eight miles. But the now is waist deep. The road lies along ie old track.' The old track was the line of the 'ennsylvania railroad, ttround a hill; ie rails had been removed, but the ross-ties still remained on the abanoned road. Walter inspected it and fter a few rods found it very pleasant walking. He camo back for his valise. 'I'm going to try it,' he called over the cow-yard fence to his hostess, who was milking. 'The more fooi yon. You'Jl be back in huif an hour.' It was in the days of gold pieces; he put a couple in her hand: 'I cannot pay for your kindness,' he then said, shaking it cordially. 'All light; we've got to help each other, you know; but I don't take money; Idon't keep tavern no more than the Sutton's' giving him back the money. Walter laughed and passing the girl in the road, put it into lier pocket. The woman called out after him that he'd be back in half an hour. Tliesun was shining through a silvery gray mist when he started. In an hour the mist was wet and impenetrable, and as for the sun it was góne. A mountaineer would have hurried to shelter, but Walter marched on, ing the Marseillaise. Why not ? none oL bis college books luid taught hini the alphabet of clouds or winds. Tlie valise grew lieavier every mile; the snow had drifted literally walst deep in the deserted track. He determined to try the hills and make a short out across them. Go back he woulcl not. 'I'll keep my promise to my mother,' tos said. How long he wandered oft' In thtt short cut he never knew. The gray, branching trunks of oaks and bi relies stretched their thick ranks to the horizon; the soft snow lay beneath,, white and trackless; the sharp sleet cut his face and took hisbreath. He strapped liis valise on liis back and plodded, his face white and teeth set. 'Allons! Allons! enfans de la patrie!' he fairly yelled, without waiting for the time. It grew darker; and it was only wheii the rnoon came out - now low down the slope of the aky - that ho realized he had been wandeling all day and fai into the night. Another passec The snow rose higher about hls body half-crazed as he was, it seemed a living grave creeping up to cover liiin; it was a matter of life and death tor him to go on. 'But I cannot go on, he sald, witli white lipa. An awíul Bhivering seized him; for the iirst time inhis life he lost control of his liinlis. He looked up into the clouds with the feeling that God was theresomewhere. li he knew Him better he would pray to Ilim. J?ut it was a long time sinee he had forgotten how to pray; like inany college boys, he thouglit that was a matter for women and childreii inore than men. He unstrapped the valise and put it down under a dead tree, and then laid down beside it. The snow was soft and warm; he could not iight agaiatt the unnatural drowsiness. 'Tliis is death, tlien,' he said. He had often tliouglit of the agony of tlit last parting with his motlier, and how hecould overeóme itwith noble thouglits and soldierly courage; but now heonlj thought how coinfortable the snow was - warm as a feather bed. If his feet wereonly dry! His eyes closed. The feathery flakes begau to fall on his face. Suddenly, but a little way oñ', a roaring voice began to sing: And the aunts and the cousins Caine out by the dozeus; All blood relations to me, Lord Donamore. Walter moved uneasily and sat up. The lethargy of eoming death was licavly upon him; he knew through it tliat there was a chance for life; but rest was sweeter. He sank down again. Then the boy remembered his promise, ind it stung him like a spur. He got up, clapped his anus weakly to bring uncu mts circulación, ana staggerea 011 a few steps. Before liiin was a low hut, constructed of unplanecl boards, the smoke pouring tlirough a pipe in the roof. "Oh, it's thare you'II hear the thrushes warbling, Iu the vales convanient to sweet Balliufad." Tlie voice was unmistakably vicious and drank. ' Some blood ■ thirsty cut - throat,' thought Walter. 'Who else would be watching at tliis time of night ?' He took off his seal ring, gold watcli and diamond scarf-pin and dropped thein into liis boot. ïhere was no vise tempting him to murder. Then he walked on and pushed open the door. 'God save us ?' shouted a kindly voice, and with the next breath Walter feit himself lifted by a pair of strong arms and carried like a baby to the fire. ïhe heat overpowered him. He tried to speak, and then lay as if dead on the man's knees. 'And it's Christmas day you siy, Jim ?' 'Ghristmaa it is. Here's your soup, now, hot as blazes. Be the powers! it'll be a job to stretch the provisions till to-morrow, you greedy young gossoon you!' Walter laughed and drew liimself weakly up in bed, leanlng against the man's breast, wliile he ate the steaming mutton broth out of a yellow crock. 'I never tasted anything so good,' soaking the last drop into a ernst. 'Well, three days ago, when ye carne to tliat dure, I thought it was yer coffin IM be niakin' for yees instead of soup.' Jim pulled up the straw pillow at his back and settlel his head, stroking back his hair, vrith fiftgera black, to be sure, but gentle as a vvoinan's. On a ehair by the lire hung Widter's lothes, clean and dry, hut ragged with ragging through briara and rocks, 'If it hadn't been for you, Jim, I'd lave needed a coffln, sure Onough,' said Valter. 'Wlio did you tliink I was thitt ight ?' a little curious to knowif his ank had betrayedhim through hisrags ml wet. 'Be jabbers, I thought you were a ollier's boy froin the pit. There's one aere has just the cut of your face. Vhen L found your jewelry 1 knowed ifferent, of course. Tliere it is, by the y, on the shelf.' lv lianded it to Walter, but the boy et the glittering heap 1'aU on tlie bed, ml took tlie red, griminy ,hand in both of his. 'Oh, Jim!' he cried. Af ter a while lie said: 'You couldn't have done more for me if I had been your brother.' Jimjerked his hand away with a 'Sjcksh!' He was not given to talking' sentiment. 'D'ye suppose any man ud sit still wid a boy freezing at his dureV'he said gruffly; but he was pleased. Walter saw it. He lay wondering why he had become so fond of this fellow, who was notliing but an Irisli laborer set to watch the railroad by which the hut stood. It was not alone that he had saved his life; it was for tlie strength and tenderness, and a quear, pathetic humor that lay under his dirt and ignorance. 'So you thought I was a collier boy,' he said, presently. 'Why, I ara one of the Ducliffs, of Philadelphia, Jim.' 'All blood relations tome, Lord Donar more !' he sang. Walter's face grew red, but he laughed. The shriek and whistle of the train was heard just then, and Jim disappeared with his Hag, but carne back grinning witli delight, carrying a basket. 'I towld the stroker abouc you yesterday and he fetched a bit of beef, and his old woman sent some tay, and the lireniaii brought you a chicleen. By golly, we'll have a Christmas dinner after all.' 'Wliy, they neyer saw me,' cried Walter. I reckon we've all got to help each other,' said Jim, grnffly, cutting up his cliicken. 'Father Forbes said at mass 011 Sunday that tliat was the rale manin' of Christinas day.' The nieaning oí Christmas ! It never had any meaning to liim beyond Jennie's hall and sonie pretty gifts to his mother. Could it mean this brotherly love these people showed for him, that he felt for Jim, that lie would feel for every man, perhaps, iL lie but knew them better and nearer? Conlditbé that which the child liad cometo teach, who had His liírtli in a meaner shelter than this, among men moro ignorant and poor ? The long winter day stole on. Jim oooked and nursed, daahed out at Intervals to signal approaching tnüns, and made a jolly d:iy of it. Waltcv was very quiet. Yon're a bit homesick,' said Jim, in the cveniíig, noticing the tearsin tl' boy's eyes, as he lay looking oyerthe suow trees, crimsoned in tiie sun, to the Bky, wliich seemed curiously nea them. In two daya you can #; bu it's a pity you couldu't luive gone to church wit'h youv rüother to-iiay.' 'I'ni not homesick, Jim. And I've found something in Urn old ahant; whicli I never leained in church.'


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Ann Arbor Democrat