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brought-up automobile could have approved of. Every evening, after he had kept me in the garage all day long fuming with impatience and spilled gasolene, he would make me carry him for hours and hours with some young woman who ought to have known better.
What sights and sounds I had to endure-I who had always kept the strictest decorum! Worst of all, his deplorable conduct began to affect me. I found myself thinking thoughts which I had never permitted to enter my mind before, and looking with more interest than I should at seductive, satin-trimmed limousines. My morality was in danger of skidding.
One evening while my master was dining with a young woman at a roadside inn I was left to wait in the adjoining garage. But I was not alone; for close beside me stood a little French landaulet, the most disconcertingly alluring car I had ever seen. Her lines were exquisitely shapely; she was a goddess on wheels.
"Good evening," she sparked enticingly. "Are n't you the car that stood next to me at the country club last Thursday night?"
There was a daredevil gleam in her lamps which set my carbureter a-splutter. "Yes," I answered, infatuated.
"I knew you, even though you tried to hide your name. Was n't it lovely-just Was n't it lovely-just us two in the moonlight, touching tires!" A quiver ran through me. I knew that unless I could back out in a hurry, I was lost. I tried hastily to reverse; she had me completely short-circuited.
Heaven knows what might have happened had not my master entered at that moment and saved me. The instant he laid hold of my crank I gave vent to my pent-up emotions in a way that nearly burst my muffler; and when he pressed down the pedal, I fairly leaped through the door in flight.
neither did the people I was carrying seem to have control over me or over themselves.
All at once my left fore tire exploded violently, veering me aside into a milepost. My master and the young woman landed in a clump of bushes, but I was maimed for life. Bad example and bad association had ruined me. Many an innocent, unsophisticated car is thus driven to destruction all because its owner fails to live up to his moral responsibility.
I lay there all the rest of the night, while my gasolene ebbed away drop by drop. In the morning some men came out from the city and dragged me in. They performed a most painful operation on me, amputating various shattered members and grafting on several feet of tin.
Then, before I was really convalescent, I was sold to a new master. This person was a harsh-speaking, unfeeling man, who cared for nothing but money. He drove up and down the streets all day, inviting people to get in and ride; and when they did get in, he forced each one of them to surrender a nickel.
He was very cruel to me. Instead of showing any consideration for my broken health, he would say openly, "Well, I 'll get what use I can out of this one, and then buy another." Not once did he ever throw a blanket over my hood in cold weather or steady my slipping wheels with chains. He was so penurious that whenever he drove me through a crowded street, he would shut off my gasolene, and make me run on what I could breathe in from the exhausts of other cars.
Wretched indeed is the old age of an automobile. Bereft of the beauty it had when it was a new model, it declines into squalid neglect. No amount of painting and enameling can restore its youthful bloom.
One day this master was driving me through an amusement park when I broke down completely. He got out, and prodded me brutally in the magneto. I had not the strength to budge.
He grew very angry, and the people in the tonneau demanded their money back.
A crowd of idlers gathered to witness my humiliation.
Becoming purple in the face, my master nearly twisted my crank off. He heaped upon me the most insulting and unjust imprecations, as though it were my fault that my health was gone, even making distressing insinuations as to my ancestry. Words failing him, he fell to belaboring me with a hammer and monkey-wrench.
The spectators looked on with indifference. Some of them even urged him maliciously to the attack.
"I'd sell the thing for fifty cents!" he exclaimed, with a shocking oath.
Suddenly an elderly, kindly-faced man pushed his way forward through the crowd.
"I'll give you that for it," he said. "Only stop battering it!"
My master left off hitting me. He looked surlily at the speaker and then at the crowd.
"You can have it," he said between his teeth.
Hot tears of gratitude dropped from my cylinders as my deliverer pushed me to his near-by home. From that moment to this I have never known anything but happiness.
For my dear old master is a photographer, and he keeps me basking in his sunny studio, and friendly people, many of them young couples who have just been married, come in to have their pictures taken while sitting in me. I am petted and made much of. My working days are over. But what makes me happiest is the knowledge that I can never be sold.
The Leatherwood God
By WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS Author of "The Rise of Silas Lapham," "A Modern Instance," etc. Illustrations by Henry Raleigh
LREADY, in the third decade of the
nineteenth century, the settlers in the the valley of Leatherwood Creek had opened the primeval forest to their fields of corn and tobacco on the fertile slopes and rich bottom-lands. The stream had its name from the bush which grew on its banks, and which with its tough and pliable bark served many uses of leather among the pioneers: they made parts of their harness with it, and the thongs which lifted their door-latches or tied their shoes or held their working clothes together. The name passed to the settlement, and then it passed to the man who came and went there in mystery and obloquy, and remained lastingly famed in the annals of the region as the Leatherwood God.
At the time he appeared the community had become a center of influence, spiritual as well as material, after a manner unknown to later conditions. It was still housed, for the most part, in the log cabins which the farmers built when they ceased to be pioneers, but in the older clearings and along the creek a good many frame-dwellings stood, and even some of brick. The population, woven of the varied strains from the North, East, and South which have mixed to form the Middle Western people, enjoyed an ease of
circumstance not so great as to tempt their thoughts from the other world and fix them on this. In their remoteness from · the political centers of the young republic, they seldom spoke of the civic questions stirring the towns of the East; the commercial and industrial problems which trouble modern society were unknown to them. Religion was their chief interest, and the seriousness which they had inherited from their Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, and Moravian ancestry was expressed in their orderly and diligent lives; but the general prosperity had so far relaxed the stringency of their several creeds that their distinctive public rite had come to express a mutual toleration. The different sects had their different services, their ceremonies of public baptism, their revivals, their camp-meetings; but they gathered as one Christian people under the roof of the log-built edifice, thrice the size of their largest dwelling, which they called the Temple.
A STORM of the afternoon before had cleared the mid-August air. The early sun was hot, but the wind had carried away the sultry mists, and infused fresh life into the day. Where Matthew Braile
Copyright, 1916, by THE CENTURY CO. All rights reserved.