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The Mill Boys

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AM going to teil abit . of my owii experience an experUmee that X am not Ukely to forget. My name has not a single vine or leaf of romanee clinging ahnut it sound; in si.ort, my name is Zeb Brown. I was brought up in the country, witliont the advantages of education, but by the light oí a brush fire I contrivo;l to read a few old books; and permit nieto say that a close aequamtance with a few musterful books is of ten better thau a more pretentious education. A short time after I had attained my majority, which indeed was all I did attain- I wentover into adistant neighborhood andbegan work at a saw-mill. Tfae o wner oí the mxll - Oíd Bill Pluukett-was a brusque oíd fcllow; and, so far as books wero concerned, was about as ignorant a man a I had ever seen, execpt, possibly, my fatber,who, after the extremest effort, could not have spelled dog. Oíd Bill seemed to respect me, not because I could read and write and cipher a little upon a pinch, but beeause I was a very strong and active young fellow and consequently very handy in rolling logs. One day aftcr 1 had lifted the end of a log which had been declared to be beyond the strength of any man in the party, Old BUI invited me to go home and take supper with him. This was a surprise, for he had never shown so great a prefercnce to any of the other boys, holding himself, as he did, greatly above them. I went. He lived about two miles from the mili, not in a frame house as you wouid suppose from the fact that he owned a saw-miü, but in an old log house daubed with clay and not well diubed either. He hadn'tmuch to sayas we walkad along the road, and just as soon as we had entered the house, instead of extendingto me the courtesy of conversation, he feil to cutting name strings from a pieco oí leather which he took down from the clock shelf. Some time' elapsed before any one else entered the room. Then, after liglit footsteps in an adjoining room, there entered a girl. As soon as I saw her I knew that I must have looked like a fooi. What could you expect of a green young fellow, unused to the society of ladies? 1 say (That could yon expect of such a young feilovv upon benolding a girl whose face must have been a pleasant conteraplation to the crealive god of beauty, and with hair- ah, vvhat hairl lts silken threads flit across my face now and dim my visión. "Kit,'1 said the old tnan, squinting at his leather to see if ho was cutting straight, " thia here is Zeb Brown what works for me." She dropped a eraceful courtesy- she could not have dropped another kiud and gave me a smile that seeuied to have dropped down from tho glorious bnghtness of her hair. "Kit," said the old man, "Zeb will eat supper with us. She ain't got no mother," he added, turning to me, "au' haster 'tend ter every thing herso'f." Supper was soon announced. How well I remember that meal, and how awkward)y did I acquit myself. I turned over a pitcher of butter-milk; upset a molasses jug and dropped a píate of batter cakes in my lap. Kit blushed and I knew that she was ashamed not of me, but for me. The old man burst out laughing. "Wy," said he, aíter ho hud. with tho riolence of his outburst, blowii corn-bread crumbs all over the tablo, "you ken handle a pino log better thau you ken a pan cake." Blind oíd man. He knew not the cause of my avkvardnes. After supper Oíd Bill sat down to grease his nevvly-made líame strings. Kit and I naturally feil hito conversation ; no, not naturally, for the blood-treacherous fluid kept mounting to my face, and my great red hands kept getting in each other's way. But I managed U talk, especially when the girl's cordial air had placed me more at case. "I have some books that I can lend you," sho sJl. 'I haye a few very oíd ones f uil of poetry and songs. I had great work, I know, in protecting one of them. It was at a time when leather had suddenly become scarce. Father's passion for name strings (here shc gave the oíd man a glance of mischief) naturally drove him to my choice book, bound in leather. He wanted tho binding for name strings, and I do believe t bat the book would have been saorificed had I not succeeded in persuading him that the binding was not strong enough for his purpose." Wo had talked but a littlo while longer when the old man got up, put his eau of „rease on a shelf, washed his hands in a pan in which he had soaked the loather, and remarked : "Wall, folks, its bed-Hme. Kit, we've pot ter hussle out early in the mawnin'? Zeb, we've got a good deal o' sawin' to do tomorrer." I knew wbat this meant and immediately took my departure. The night was beautiiul- at least, it must have been. I don't see how there could, at that time, have been any other than a beautiful night. ïhe weather was cold, and I don't know but a sleet was falling, yot, above it all, arises the fact that to me the night was beautifuL I do not think that I was so handy at my work the next day, for once Oíd Bill crksd ut: "Look sharp thar, Zeb, whut air you etudyin' about!" Blind old man. He did not know. I vvaited and waited for the old man to sk me to his house again, but ho did not. Any plow-boy in tho neighborhood was welcome there, but, as 1 previously remarked, Old Bill, vvitta quite an uu-American spirit, I must say, held himself gi-eatly abovo the boj's who worked for him. One day the old man, with great flurry, déoUred that he had left nis pipe at home. "Iwill go and bring it tor you!" I exclaimed. and without waiting to hear any reply, either of remonstrance or agreement, I leaped over the low rail fenco that surrounded the inill yard, and set out at a walk ulnng the road that, wound among the great trees. Was there ever solongadistance? At last I saw the house. Kit opened the door for me. She blushed. 1 wondered why a young girl should blush npon steeing so strappmg and awkward a ielluvv. 1 told her of my ruission, and then we both began to talk of the books we both loved so well. Ah! Wluit is sweeter, and what can be purer than the uneducated backwoodsman's love of bnolis? 1 suddeuly tiiought of the long time I was staying, and sprang to my fcet. Aslhurried along the road a sweet remembrance camc to me. lt was ttlat Kit and I should meet the next Sunday at a place which we had appomted Wlieu 1 uiivc.l at the mil] Ihe old man, pretty angr.v he was, too, dernanded the reasou vh_v 1 had staid solong. "I carne upon a man whose wagon had broken down in the road," I replied, "and helped him to mend it." What a lie- yes, what a pardoriable lie. The cold frown of winter was softened into the warm amile of spring Kit and I had ofteu inet. She had promised to be my wife - I had held her in my arms. Old Bil] suspected nothing; at least he said nothing, but I knew that, in his ignorance he would not consent u uur mamase One day when I met Kit iu the woods 1 found her mucu excited. "What is the matter, angel?" I asked. "Oh, something awful has happened," she replied. "Father found the last letter you sent to me and got soine one to read it to him. He didn't say any thing, but a terrible lipcht shone in his eyes." " Don't. be afraid, üttle girl," I said. "He likes me, 1 Dunk, and when he sees that we aredeteruiiiicd he will give in. There, now, don't be afraid." I went to the mili as usual the next day. The old man had not arrived. I did not dread bis coming. Love had made me brave. He carne after awhile. He walked straight up to me. "Good morning," I said. Great God, he shot mei ' Weeks passed before I knew any thing. I lay in a little canin where I boarded. Winter came, and 1 grevv able to walk ahout the room. 1 had heard ttiat Kit was a closely confined prisoner. One night, the night before Christraas, there came a violent knock at mv door. I opened the door and staggered back It was Old Bill. "Kit wants to see vou," he said. "I brought the wagon. Come." I went with him. Neilher of us spoke. When we reached the house I could hardly mount the door-step. I went in. There was Kit lying on a bed. Oh, what a change. I sank upon my knees at the bedside, and ,tried to take her wasted hands, but she wound her arms about my neck. My face lay upon the glorious hair from which the müe, wheu l flrst saw her, had seemed to fall. "Angel," Iwhispered. She pressed me closer. "Angel," I whispered. I Closer she pressed me- closer, closer, and then the pressure was gone- the arms feil. I don't know how long I knelt there, but when I lifted mv head the suniight of e. glorious Christmas morning streamed through the window. J st then a man entred. "Look here," he saiii, opening the door. I looked out and saw Old Bill haaging from a tree. "The mili boys," the man whispered.


Old News
Ann Arbor Register