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Chapter IV
Boyhood Recollections

From "John Burroughs - Boy And Man" (1920)
By Clara Barrus

From now on John, a lad of eleven, is beginning more and more to want to do things, to experiment, to find out about the myriad forms of life near at hand, and to learn what is going on beyond the hills that enclose his little world Still, with all his life of activity and enforced usefulness' he remains a dreamer and a saunterer, and, though reaching out in imagination to the cities and towns where the circus goes, he finds endless content in the woods and streams and hillsides on his father's farm. He finds his own thoughts and speculations a never-failing source of interest. The world within is a powerful rival to the world without, and the world of the minute engages him, as well as the world of larger things. A schoolmate of his who sometimes comes back to spend her summers at Roxbury, says she remembers him as a little boy sitting by himself, for long periods, in the school-yard, engrossed in watching the ants in their colonies.

His life during that early period seems to have been a happy combination of dreaming and doing.

AMBROTYPES

Ambrotypes were old-fashioned pictures made on glass. John's mother had some on the centre table in the "other room." You had to hold them just right or they looked like plain glass. The word itself means "an immortal impression."

This is what he has to tell of his own way of making ambrotypes:

    I seem to have had the faculty when very young of stamping things on my mind. I remember once when Uncle John and Aunt Abby had been to visit us, as they were driving away I said to myself, "There they go! Look at them! You may never see them again." And it was the last time. It is engraved there as in adamant.

    I remember when a boy of twelve, perhaps, stamping Mother on my mind in the same way: she used to come upstairs and tuck Abigail and Jane and Evaline in bed, then come across to us boys and tuck us in.

    One night I remember lying there and, on hearing her go to the girls' room, I said to myself, "Now look at your mother she's going to come out with the candle and stand in the door there -- look at her! and remember her when you get old!" I can see her to-day standing there as plainly as I saw her then.

    There have been other conscious efforts to stamp things on my mind so that they have never faded -- I see them as distinctly as I saw them when a boy.

THE BIG ROCK IN THE PASTURE

There is a big rock in a hillside pasture over at the east end of the Burroughs farm, near the part of it which for about a hundred years has been called "the Rundle place" (now Woodchuck Lodge), on which as a boy John often sat and dreamed. It is a huge drift boulder of red sandstone dropped there by a glacier tens of thousands of years ago, or "before Adam was a kitten," as the grown-up boy sometimes says.

The everlasting rock, its sheltering iron-wood tree, a perennial spring a few yards away, the wooded hill above, and the great panorama of valley and mountains spread out to view, combined to make a haunt dearly loved by the boy. It is dearer still to the man who climbs there now, who fondly calls it "my boyhood rock," and who a's the afternoon wanes loves to sit there and watch the shadow of Old Clump thrown on the broad mountain slope across the wide valley.

"Here I climbed at sundown when a boy to rest from work and play, and to listen to the vesper sparrow sing, and here I hope to rest when my work and play are overwhen the sun goes down-here by my boyhood rock."

He used to go there in the spring and listen to the call of the highhole or flicker as it came up from the beechwoods, and in summer to hear the bobolinks as they soared and sang over the high mountain meadows. Sometimes he roamed the meadows in search of their nests, sometimes he found one, though it is the hardest nest in the world to find, so completely is it a part of the meadow bottom in colour and in material. If he did find one, he went there day after day to watch the eggs, and then the young.

Sometimes he loafed for long hours on the rock, speculating with half-closed eyes, as to what the world was made of. Observing the tiny, irregular, drifting forms that floated before his eyeballs, he concluded that those are the stuff of which the world is made. And with all his philosophizing in later years, he says he has not arrived at a much more satisfactory explanation.

In June he often wandered far afield, returning home at dinner time with a lining of wild strawberries in his hat. When he ate those berries in a bowl of bread and milk he was as happy as a king-or as kings were in the days when kings were in fashion. In his trips through the woods he sometimes found a few of the scarce wood-berriess -- mall pointed, dark-red and shiny.

In August from his rocky throne on the hillside he watched the high-sailing hawks, delighting in their majestic movements. Often he saw one being attacked by a kingbird which would harry it spitefully until the hawk, wheeling, would mount and mount, and the kingbird, losing its reckoning, would abandon the pursuit.

From the same high vantage-ground, before he was old enough to take a hand himself, he looked leisurely down upon the haymakers in the hill meadows.

Some mornings from the big rock he watched the great lake of fog that often settled in the valley. After a while it would begin to stir restlessly in its bed, like a spirit surprised by the rising sun. It ran to and fro, it climbed the hills, it reached helpless arms toward the sky, then cowered again in its bed; but finally some unseen power would lift it and spirit it away, and all the valley would be flooded with sunlight, with only a soft fleecy cloud or two left sailing over the mountain tops.

On sunny June mornings, John would stop near the foot of the pasture where the foundation stones of an old house lay in tumbled piles, and gather from some clustered bushes a large, fragrant, deep-pink rose which he would wear all day in the brim of his torn straw hat.

A favourite resting-place for the lad in his journeys to and from the cow pasture was the Giant Stairs. They were two huge boulders which Time has cut away so as to leave mammoth steps of stone. They still afford a tarrying place by the roadside for the contemplative man.

As Old Cuff usually did the biggest part of the cow driving, John got in the way of trusting a good deal to him while he investigated the flying grasshoppers that in late summer gathered on those rocky stairs during the night. Stealing up there he would catch them before they got warmed up in the morning. Curious creatures! Why do the females hover in the air, poised on wing, with shuffling sound? John did not have the patience of a Fabre, or he would have found out, but he never tired of watching them as they worked their curved abdomens into the ground and deposited their eggs there.

A WELL-BUILT DAM

John wanted a swimming-hole, and as there was none nearer than Stratton Falls, which was too far off, he decided to make one in the pond in the valley below the house. None of his brothers cared about it, so wouldn't lend a hand, but he set at it alone and worked, mostly Sundays, rain or shine, till he had a wall as high as his head, water-tight, built of stone and sod. It was no easy job. He had to carry the chunks of sod a long way in his arms, and the stones, many of which were as big as he could lug. With the farm dogs at his heels, he worked there for weeks, carrying, in all, a good many wagon loads of sod and stone. He was often a sorry sight on coming home from work, for he had to stand in water up to his waist while building the dam.

But it paid, though he usually had to have his fun alone, since his brothers seemed always to have an antipathy for water. Sometimes the Scudder boys from a distant farm came over and went in with him. Sometimes in the sweltering days of midsummer, when haying, he jumped in with his clothes on. It is seventy-two years or more since he built that dam, but much of the old wall is still standing, though the pond in the pasture is long since gone dry. "I builded better than I knew," he said one day as we tarried there at the site of the old swimming-hole.

AN UNWILLING VOYAGER

One summer John's ambition for a big kite soared higher than ever before, and he made one three feet long, with a tail of rags, and a half mile or more of string.

Such an airship, he decided, must have a passenger. So catching a meadow-mouse and placing it on the back of the kite, he tied it by one of its legs and launched it into the blue.

What a hop-off for the timid creature who hardly dares show itself above ground five minutes at a time for fear a hawk will pounce upon it! And now-to be suddenly sent up into the very region where those cruel creatures soar! It was surely a case of going to meet danger more than half way.

What a mouse's eye-view it must have had of its sinuous runways in the grass!

He kept tight hold of the long string while the mouse soared aloft, and then, carefully superintending the landing of the monoplane, released the Lilliputian aviator, whose eyes were shining, and tiny heart beating, more wildly than ever.

DARTS AND CROSS-GUNS

Besides kites, the boys fashioned things they called "darts," which they threw with the hand at a mark. These were made from pieces of broom handle, about six inches long, with a sharp wire in one end, and a bunch of henquills in the other.

They got the wire out of old tin pans or other discarded utensils, and drove it in the handle a good ways, grinding it very sharp on the grindstone. These could be thrown with force and directness for fifty feet or more.

They also made what they called a kite (though it bore no resemblance to the regulation kite), which they whittled out from a shingle. It was really an arrow, and they shot It from a bow and string at random in the air.

A much more complicated weapon was a crude crossgun which John made when a small boy -- a rather dangerous thing for a lad to handle. He had never seen or heard of one till he made this. It had a lock which he figured out himself. The barrel was made of pine, and the lock of ash, and he whittled out arrows for it. On dropping an arrow into the barrel and releasing the trigger, the arrow would fly far afield. It was fun to drive the arrows deeply into the trunks of trees. He sometimes shot chipmunks with them, bowling over the little creatures as they paused to reconnoitre on the top of a stone wall. It is hard to realize that he could ever have shot this little friend of later years, but the truth must be toldhe did it with his little cross-gun. But boys grow wiser and kinder as they grow older, and learn what good chums the chipmunks are if one makes friends with them instead of shooting them.

At that time John made war on them with even a more formidable weapon: A part of his duties when ten or twelve years old (and he did not shirk the duty) was to hunt these little marauders of the cornfield. His father would load the old flintlock musket for him (before he was big enough to do it for himself) with small gravel stones or hard peas, and send him forth to shoot the chipmunks round the corn. Earlier in the season, in March, when the woodpeckers began to drum, John knew it was time for the chipmunk to poke his nose above ground, and for a time would not molest him. He delighted in watching the clean, pert little fellow as he stood on the top of a stone wall, eyeing him, with hands beseechingly spread on breast. Let John move ever so little, Stripe-Coat would dart in the wall, or into his hole with a flirt that seemed to the lad as though he slammed the door behind him. The Clever Beasties seemed never more than one jump from home, yet with the old flintlock the boy often severely wounded the little creatures, at a range of six or seven yards, as they peeped at him over the walls.

One day when he was sitting in the bar-way of the horse-lot up by the "sap-bush," watching for chipmunks, a troop of weasels tried to cross there. Of course he fired at them, just to thwart them. He disabled one, but another from the troop, seizing the wounded one, carried it over, and the pack disappeared in the wall. Even a bloodthirsty animal like the weasel, then, has some fellow feeling; as there is honour among thieves, so is there esprit de corps among weasels, and yet this is not always the case: A farmer John knew told him of once coming upon two weasels contesting so earnestly over a mouse that he was able to grab them each by the back of the neck and cage them. The next day, and for two days thereafter, when he offered them food they refused it; but some days later, on going to the cage, he was amazed to find the food still there, and only one weasel, while the bones of the other, picked clean, were lying on the bottom of the cage!

DOWN IN THE BARK-PEELING

The old bark-peeling was a large devastated place in the valley, in the hemlocks, where the woodmen, after felling the great trees, left them to rot, hauling the bark to the tanneries. It was a wasteful practice which would not be allowed in our day with Boy Scouts to spot such senseless waste.

John came upon all sorts of interesting things down there while following the cow paths and the over-grown woodroads, climbing over decayed logs, wading knee-deep through the ferns, and making his way through briers and hazels.

Early in the season he would hear there the rapid copious strain of the purple finch, and wait about till he could catch a glimpse of the shy songster -- a brownish bird which, he says, looks as though it had been dipped in diluted pokeberry juice and needed two or three more dippings. In a secluded swampy corner in midsummer he found the purple fringed orchids. The raspberries and blackberries were thick down there, and in berry season there was little loitering; but there were sometimes other things than berries in the bushes: In reaching out his hand for berries, John sometimes put it into a bird's nest. Trout lurked in the brook, squirrels scampered along the fences, foxes left their footprints here and there, and 'coons came down to feed and splash in the stream; turning the stones over with their noses, they rooted like a pig, in search of food beneath the stones.

One midsummer day as John loitered in the bark-peelling he was startled by a whirr, and spied a brood of partridges (ruffed grouse) scattering in every direction. Hiding behind the ferns he listened while the wild hen called together her brood. That soft, persuasive cooing of the hen, then the faint, timid Yeap of the young! Now the cooing grows louder, now it is a clucking call, and the chicks move cautiously in her direction. But as the lad steals from his hiding-place all sounds cease -- the wild bird and her brood elude even the wary boy!

But the male partridge as it drummed on a mossy log did not always elude him. Many a time when skulking under the hemlocks he caught the drummer in the act. Standing erect on a decayed log, expanding its ruff, and spreading its tail, the bird would give two introductory blows, pause, then resume, striking faster and faster, till the sound became a continuous whirr, lasting a half minute or more. The bird's wings barely touch the log-the drumming sound is produced by the force of the blows upon the air.

THE GRAVEYARD AND THE HAUNTED BARN

Even when in his early teens, an unwelcome companion named Fear used to hover about John at nightfall. By day he would go over to Uncle Henry's, marching up the hill and around the little old graveyard as boldly as a soldier, but on his return at dusk Fear would suddenly approach, nudge him, and remind him of the frightful tales Granther Kelly used to tell. One story of Granther's which made his blood run cold had a way of coming to mind just as he rounded the bend of the road by the lonely graves: Once, in Granther's youth, when he was going by a cemetery one pitch-dark night, all alone, with no sound to be heard but the hoot of an owl in the nearby woods, he suddenly saw a light rising above a low headstone. It moved swiftly. It came his way, rolling and tumbling as it came, and all of a sudden whirled by him in the road. It was a big ball of fire-" monstrous big, as big as a wash-tub! -- some Evil Spirit that could not rest in its grave! " This gruesome recital, told as only Granther could tell it, and emphasized with his "Zounds!" and "Zuckers!" seemed to John to have happened in that very locality. How he tiptoed around the bend of the road lest a gang of ghosts dog his heels! but when he got down the road a ways how he did cut and run!

Darkness always held such shapeless, nameless terrors for him! To go alone along the edge of the beechwoods at nightfall was a frightful experience, though he preferred roaming the woods alone by day, or with only Cuff, the yellow, bob-tailed mastiff, or Spot, the hound, for companion. And how he dreaded cleaning the stables in the big barn on the hill, even in the day-time, because of that great black hole underneath!

He envied the happy, fearless eave-swallows, diving in and out of the barn, chattering and squeaking as they built beneath the eaves. They could dart out and off in a jiffy if they saw anything unpleasant in there. Poor lad!

Peering timidly into that black abyss, fearful of what might be lurking there, he would send Cuff in first to scare Pem out, before he tackled the job. Once in there, he worked as Hercules worked at a similar task, breathing freely only when again under the open sky with the phantoms behind him, and the light of day enveloping him once more.

THE RIDE TO CATSKILL

Put yourself back, if you can, to those days of John's boyhood, say in 1848, when there were few railroads in the country, and none nearer his home than fifty miles, no cheap post, no free press, no telephones, the telegraph just beginning to be known, no phonographs, no wireless, no trolleys, no bicycles, no automobiles, no aeroplanes, no dirigibles, no electrical contrivances, no Movies!!! no battleships, not even any ocean liners-just sailing vessels. In fact, there were none of the thousand and one other things that boys are interested in nowadays. Realizing the difference, perhaps you can imagine how much a long ride in his father's farm wagon, through a strange country to a town that seemed very big to him, would mean to him at eleven years of age-how real an adventure it was.

Perhaps you think his boyhood must have been a tame affair, but it was not. Life itself was one big Adventure to him; for that matter, it is so still. He has never reached that dull time when he complains that "there's nothing going on." The universe is going on; there are a number of things, little and big, to claim his attention. As boy and man he has always felt a lively interest in the Big Show.

That journey to Catskill was at the time the biggest thing that had happened to him. It was a ride of fifty miles-the annual fall trip which his father made to take a load of butter to the Catskill market.

He dreamed of that journey for weeks ahead. His elder brothers had made the trip one by one, on previous years, and wonderful were the tales they told of what they had seen. Now it was his turn. He was to see the sights of the town of Catskill, the Hudson river, and a steamboatf

Such a state of excitement as he was in as the momentous day drew near! Would his mother have his clothes ready? Would the weather be too cold? Would the world come to an end before the hour of starting? In fact, he was, as his brothers said, in a dreadful pucker those last few days.

The day before starting he went up in the woods above his boyhood rock where he so often idled and dreamed, but this time there was no dreaming or dawdling. He had the old musket in his hand which his father had loaded for him, and he had a definite errand: he was after game to add to the provisions they were to carry on the journey.

Sitting on his haunches on the edge of the woods he watched and waited, but had not waited long when he spied a partridge on a log, her mottled plumage blending with the bark and weeds. "Quit, quit, quit," she called. Resting his gun on a little bush about two feet high, John was about to shoot when a twig broke, letting the gun down in the leaves.

Don't hurry, little boy -- I'll wait," the bird seemed to say. So getting his gun up again he shot. The bird fell off the log and fluttered in the leaves just as a hen flops about when her head's cut off.

His first partridge!

Surprised at such good fortune, he took the partridge by the leg, shouldered the musket, and started for home, almost walking on air.

In going past the beechwoods, hearing a great commotion among the crows in the woods beyond, and guessing that there was something unusual over there, he ran to see what it was. At his approach the crows scattered. While he stood looking about for the cause of the cawing, out of a stump close by came a great horned owl! The owl looked at John, and John looked at the owl which turned and softly flew to a tree where it sat and solemnly bent its blinking eyes upon the lad.

Bang! went the gun! Down fell the owl!

Triumphantly the young Nimrod marched home with his brace of birds, but they only cooked one of them.

On these trips to Catskill the thrifty farmers took along their victuals for the four days instead of squandering their money at the inns, though they did have to expend a shilling for lodging, and another shilling each for breakfast .

How the lad worked the night before starting to help load the heavy firkins on the wagon!

They took a ton or more of butter-twenty firkins -- to Catskill every trip, and usually made two trips in the fall, in the spring selling their butter at Roxbury. The price they got for butter in those days was sixteen to eighteen cents a pound for fall butter, and twenty cents, as a rule, for spring butter.

The next morning before daylight the big box of food was stowed away in the wagon, and oats for the horses. John put on the old family overcoat which all the boys, in turn, had worn on this trip -- a coat with a tremendous collar, made by the neighbourhood tailoress, from the wool of their own Merino and South-Down sheep.

When all was in readiness, and his mother had reminded his father for the last time of the purchases he was to make, they set out. There was one purchase which, as we shall see, the boy was not likely to let his father forget.

The wagon rattled over the frozen ground, and John, a happy, eager, wide-awake boy, perched on the high spring-seat, took in the wonders along the way.

They stayed at the tavern at Cairo over night in going, and at Steele's tavern, near Ashland, on the return trip. Other farmers were at Cairo, too. In the morning John overheard his father bragging to them what a smart boy he was for his age. Soon after his father told him to go to the barn and drive out the team. Anxious to justify the praise he had heard of himself, he got nervous, bungled in driving out, and struck the hub of the wheel against the door-jamb, to his own and his father's mortification; so it was a crestfallen lad that surrendered the lines to his father as they drove off. But as they crossed the Catskill mountain and looked down into the great valley of the Hudson, John forgot his troubles, carried away with the glory and the wonder of that view!

Catskill was by far the biggest town he had ever seen. The noble river itself was a revelation to him-to this boy who had been till now shut in by the mountains! His imagination went cruising away to the sea with the white sails, and the wheeling gulls that he beheld for the first time. And yes, "By cracky! there's a steamboat! and a train of cars, far away, across the river!" Life holds few richer moments than this!

Awed by the strangeness of all that he saw, John stuck pretty close to his father. But while standing on the street waiting for his father to come out of a store, he was hailed by a drover passing with some cows:

"Hey, Bub! turn them cows up that street, will ye?

Now John was used to cows, so did it in a jiffy, glad of something familiar in this strange scene. The drover gave him four copper pennies for the job.

The altercation which his father had with Old Dowie, the butter buyer, left a lasting impression on the boy's mind: As they were unloading the butter, Dowie questioned the weight of a certain firkin. (The weight of butter and firkin was marked on each firkin, after which the firkin's weight was deducted.) A hot dispute arose between Farmer Burroughs and Old Dowie over the suspected firkin, and the farmer, angered at his honesty being questioned, shouted: "We'll strip it off and weigh the butter!" And he did.

There stood the naked butter on the scales. John, looking anxiously on, was greatly relieved when the scales showed that the butter weighed what his father had claimed. Old Dowie grunted, and Farmer Burroughs looked triumphant as they put the exonerated butter back in the firkin.

After that there was the marketing to do -- a barrel of flour to get, salt, tea, and other purchases, to carry back in the otherwise empty wagon box. (They had no coffee in those days; the tea used was green tea.)

Driving down to Catskill Point, they bought several hundred herring to be salted down at home. They also took back gypsum to use on the fields. And there was clothing to purchase, calico and delaine for Mother and the girls, boots for the older boys, and a new cap for John, It was a wool cap trimmed with a band of musk-rat fur. With what pride he wore it on the return trip!

It was dark on reaching home after the four eventful days. When they reached the crest of the big hill and saw the lights in the windows, the old place looked very good to John, experiencing his first home-coming.

The loud rattle of the wagon brought his mother and the girls and boys to the door. Shouts of welcome greeted the cold and hungry travellers. Hiram lighted the candle in the old tin lantern and brought it out to the barn. While he and Curtis helped to unharness and look after the horses, Eden and the girls carried in the purchases.

John sought his mother's side and showed her his furtrimmed cap. Soon all were seated at the supper-table discussing the trip and the food with lively dispatch.

THE BATTLE OF BEARSVILLE CREEK

In his twelfth year when John went with a drover to take his cattle to Moresville (now Grand Gorge), ten miles from home, he had a real adventure on the return trip:

After having been paid off, he strolled about the little village eating his lunch of crackers and raisins, and taking in the novel sights.

Nearing the bridge over the creek and seeing some village boys congregated there, he lingered to scrape acquaintance. Presently a large group of children, little and big, collected on the bridge. They stared at the strange boy. Who is he? Where does he come from? What is he here for? their looks seemed to say. He felt vaguely uncomfortable. There seemed an unfriendly feeling in the air.

Soon the larger boys edged nearer and challenged the newcomer to jump with them. This was better; he felt easier already. Jumping, he cleared their farthest mark. Emboldened by his success, he gave them a sample of his stone-throwing. They threw stones, too, but he excelled them all. This didn't set well, and John grew unmistakably aware that the entire crowd was against him.

The little girls and boys began, half-playfully, halfspitefully, throwing pebbles and lumps of earth at him. Soon they ran up and switched his legs. Then they struck him tentatively with sticks. Then the larger boys took a hand; finally the whole pack was arrayed against him.

Keeping them at bay awhile with a stick, as he saw the feeling rising higher and higher, he suddenly broke through their ranks and made for home, the hostile pack at his heels, wildly throwing their sticks and stones.

Gradually the girls and the smaller boys dropped out of the race, then some of the larger ones till, at the end of about fifty rods, only two boys about John's size were hotly pursuing him, wrath and determination in their faces.

On he ran as though ghosts and hobgoblins were at his heels. At length, he outdistanced his pursuers, and they turned back, permitting him, badly wounded, to continue his homeward journey in peace-not a very famous victory, perhaps, for our hero, but surely discretion was the better part of valor here.

A GLORIOUS FOURTH

The Fourth of July when John was fourteen years old was a memorable one for him. He was granted three days off with Rube Scudder, a boy about his age. He and Rube debated the question for days as to where and how they should spend the time, finally deciding on a long hike to Lexington, where Olly, John's married sister, lived.

John and Rube were fast friends. They had swimming matches sometimes, and often roamed the woods together. Rube was always good company; he could dance the "juba" as well as the men in the shows could.

John had a brand-new straw hat for the occasion, and wore his new suit of Kentucky "Jane." Of course the boys usually went barefoot in the summer. To save shoe leather? Yes, but also because they liked it. Oh, that feel of the earth to his bare feet as he ran up and down the red road for the first time in the spring! but for this momentous outing he wore his cowhide boots made by the cobbler in the village.

Rube stayed with John the night before. Starting out at sun-up, after a hurried breakfast, the boys went down by Hardscrabble Creek, crossed the flats and on up through Montgomery Hollow, through Wild Cat Pass, down into Johnson's Hollow, and on to Lexington, twenty-five miles away.

It took them all day to go. The rye bread and butter and maple-sugar cookies which they carried in their pockets disappeared long before they had gone half way, but they picked berries, ate spearmint, regaled themselves with Adam's ale at many a delicious spring, and were as happy as boys on a holiday usually are, and perhap bit happier. They never had had three days off They were rich, too -- each boy had a sixpence in pocket with which to celebrate the Fourth!

In the mountain meadows bobolinks were singing their gayest, summer being for them a perpetual Fourth of July. One of Rube's stunts was to mimic the bobolinks. Pausing amid their berry-gathering, the boys rested in the sunny meadows, while Rube called out:

Pe-teu, pe-teu, pe-timble, pe-timble, pe-timble! spiddleywitt, spiddley-witt, spiddley-witt, witt, witt, witt, phee, phee, phee!

The next day the boys were up bright and early to see the wonders of the town of Lexington, and hear the spread-eagle orator hold forth. They stood in openmouthed wonder at his sweeping gestures and the steady outpouring of his big words, especially delighted when he talked dramatically about hanging some one as high as Haman; they wondered how high that was, and where it was that Haman was hung, and what they hung him for. John wondered if that was the hanging over the Delhi that his father and Aunt Mary once went to see, when Aunt Mary fainted away at the wrong time-just as the man was swinging off 1 He had heard the story many times, but was uncertain whether or not the man's name was Haman.

They saw a real cannon fired at a mark on the side-hill half a mile away -- a brass six-pounder, and searching out the spot, tried in vain to dig the balls out of the ground into which they were lodged.

On the third day they reluctantly faced homeward.

A young fellow in a buggy overtook the pedestrians, giving them a lift as far as Prattsville where, stopping at a tavern, he announced that that was as far as he went, and that now it was their turn to treat. Treat! their sixpences were spent two days ago! Confessing that they had nothing to treat with, Rube and John slunk away in humiliation, and trudged on home, their spirits a little dampened by the encounter. But in the meadows, with the sun shining and the bobolinks rollicking, and with all they had to talk over, they soon forgot that passing cloud, so it was a glorious Fourth just the same!

 

Footnotes:
  1. "Jane": (Jean)-a kind of cotton cloth dyed with walnut bark which was bought by the piece, cut by the village tailor, and made up by Mary Montgomery, who came to their house every year for a fortnight and helped his mother make their clothes - (Return)

 

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