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As he rode along, Huntley observed the ap- all roundness and fatness came lumbering on pearance of the wheat-fields, and noted that, all fours to the door. A little way from the like his own, some of the straw roofs of the stables house a cow was “lariated" on the prairie, and needed patching. He watched a hawk sailing as Huntley drew up at the straw-roofed sod in long, graceful downward curves, and he lis- stable and began unharnessing the mules, a tened to the cries of the killdees; he looked woman came hurrying across the grass toward awhile at the up-twinkling hoofs of the mules, the house carrying a tin milk-pail. She was tall and occupied himself for some time in chasing and thin and stoop-shouldered. She wore an a persistent horse-fly over Jimmy's back with old, limp sunbonnet and a calico wrapper that, the end of his whip. Finally, having exhausted back and front, fell in straight lines from her all the apparent sources of amusement, he put head to her heels. As she came to the stable the remainder of the tobacco into his mouth, door Huntley was opening his jack-knife for slouched forward in his seat, with his arms rest- “ Oddy." ing across his knees, and gave himself up to “Pap ain't got no candy fer you to-day, son," the unwonted exercise of reflecting. When he said, with a big, homely smile that hurt him Huntley went into a committee of ways and clear down to the bottom of his big, homely means, his first expedient was always to con- heart as he saw the little fellow's face fall. Mrs. sider what he could borrow. Now, the pros- Huntley peered in at the little brown beasts pect in that direction was not encouraging. The that were already munching their hay.
claim" was mortgaged, and probably for all “ Did you get the mules, Lem?” she cried he could get on it; he had just given Cleary eagerly. a mortgage on the cow and pigs for costs and Huntley looked at her with his slow, depreattorney's fees, and nobody would take a mort- catory smile. “Not fer keeps yet, 'Randy," he gage on the mules until the suit was decided. He said. At his tone and expression the eagerness might borrow enough plug tobacco “to run faded from the woman's face, leaving it seamed him through ”- that was the term he always and dull. Huntley took the pail from his wife's used, and it meant probably until he could get hand, and the two walked together to the house, some more money. With that possibility in his where he set the milk on the table, and then mind, he checked off the first source of revenue. came out and lounged down on the grass while Crops all destroyed by hail; and he checked the wife sat on the door-sill. “Well ? " she that item off. If he won the lawsuit and kept said, shoving her sunbonnet back and drawing the mules, he could mortgage them for enough her hand across her brows. Her form was bent, to pay Cleary and“ run him through,” and go and her hands were as marred by work as his back to his job of grading in Johnson County. own; her face was lean and sallow, but there Clearly, it all hinged on the lawsuit
, and, hav- was a remarkable intelligence in her large, dark ing arrived at that satisfactory conclusion, Mr. eyes, and she looked the daughter of a daring Huntley dropped the inquiry, and turned for and self-reliant race. a moment to retrospection. Notwithstanding Well,” her husband drawled, “ we 've rethe hail-destroyed wheat, he had done so well plevied the mules. The trial 's next Wedneswith his grading that the perennial mortgage on day.” He paused a moment, rasping his hand the mules and the cow had actually been paid over his chin, and then went on: “I was talkin' off, and he had ten or twelve dollars ahead. with Cleary, 'n' he says 'at we 'll win 'er if we All kinds of astonishing vistas of unmortgaged can get the right sort of a jury. He says 'at the ease and affluence had been stretching before feller had the papers — the contracks 'n' such his mental vision when that patent dasher came – printed to the · Herald’office, 'n' more 'n along and operated upon bis hopes.
likely Risley knowed all about it. If we can All this brought Mr. Huntley again to that jes prove 'at Risley knowed about the printin' no-thoroughfare of the lawsuit, and by this time of the contracks, that 'll knock 'im out. He the mules had brought Mr. Huntley home and says 'at Risley kind o' owns the printin-office, were turning in from the road, which was a somehow, 'n' if Potts 'll tell the truth about the mere wagon-track over the grass, by a “shack” printin', we 'll win 'er. Cleary says 'at if we built of boards and covered with tar-páper. As get a jury o' farmers they 'll knock Risley out, the wagon creaked by the house, a round-faced, anyhow, on gen'ral principles. I reckon mos' fat, stubby-legged little form, clad in waist and farmers don't have no love fer money-lenders." breeches, came running to the door, and with To Huntley, the plural pronoun, which he got a cry of, “ 'Ere 's pap,” darted after the wagon. from Cleary, represented himself the plaintiff, “ 'Ere 's pappy," shrilled a small treble, and and Cleary the attorney, and all that part of a smaller, rounder-faced, more stubby-legged the mysterious machinery of the law which he form in a gingham dress came running after supposed somehow to be operating in his favor the first one. As the two left the house an in- by virtue of Mr. Cleary's efforts. fantile wail went up from within, and a form “ Seems like it 's too bad, Lem, to get into
trouble jes when we was gettin' along first-rate one-storied house to which he was fond of – a top of all the bad luck you've had,” said referring in the “ Centropolis Herald” as “ye Mrs. Huntley.
editor's domicile.” Here, he constantly gave his “I know it, 'Randy. I know I ought n't to readers to understand, the bosom of his fam'a' done it. I ought 'a'be'n cuter. But I thought ily resided. James Garfield and Rutherford it was a chance to make somethin''ithout leavin' Hayes were playing with dust-heaps in the you 'n' the young ones alone.” Huntley con- road; the twins were worrying the cat beside fessed this awkwardly, and with his eyes on the the house; and inside, pacing up and down the ground.
room and appearing at the door at the end of “Oh, I ain't a-blamin' you, Lem. You thought every beat, the eldest, Hildegarde Evangeline,
“ it was all fer the best.” She clapped her brown carried the youngest, Evelina Rosaline. In the hands over her knees, and looked out over the Potts family the prerogative of naming the boys ruined wheat-fields. Then she burst out with, was Mr. Potts's, while his consort ransacked a “What can you expect when such scoundrels memory well stuffed with long and wildly rois left runnin' over the country ?” – expressing mantic names for the girls. The room, which as best she could the hot sense of outrage and took up half the space inclosed by the four walls rebellion which possessed her. She shut her lips of the house, was low. A worn and faded rag a moment, and then asked quietly, “What 'll carpet did its level best to cover the floor, and, this lawin' cost you, Lem?”
except for a ragged hole in the middle, sucHuntley looked up at her and then down ceeded very well with about two thirds of it. at the ground. “I'ad to give Cleary a mort- There were three or four straight-backed chairs; gage on the cow 'n' pigs fer forty dollars to git a pine table against one wall, and opposite a the bond – 'n' the costs 'n' his fees,” he said. lounge of home manufacture, covered with a
Mrs. Huntley laid her hand on his shoulder. straw-stuffed tick of green calico; and a big, old“ Lem, s'pos'n' you lose the mules, what 'll we fashioned rocking-chair, which was indisputado this winter with the cow 'n' pigs gone, 'n' bly the property of Mrs. Potts. Indeed, she ocyou can't earn no more money gradin'?” she cupied it now. Mrs. Potts was a fat and flabby asked.
woman, all of whose foundations seemed to Huntley pulled his hat down over his brows. have given away and left her hopelessly sag“Gawd knows, 'Randy,” he said. He said ging and rickety. Her heavy eyelids drooped “God” when he swore, and “Gawd” when over her pale eyes, the corners of her mouth he spoke reverently. He plucked up spears drooped, and even her fat, colorless under-lip of the dried grass and tore them with his fin- drooped. Her round, heavy shoulders sagged gers, keeping his eyes on the ground. “I forward, and her big, oily hands moved listlessly. could n't get no flour to-day," he said, still look. She was occupied with trying the effect of a ing down. He rasped his hand over his chin pale-pink cloth rose and a short, bright, straight once or twice, and gave a choked laugh. “If red feather on her last summer's hat. As Potts the fros' don' nip that little patch o' corn, we entered, the child set up a peevish cry, and Mrs. can have some corn-dodgers by and by, I Potts let the hat and its decorations fall into reckon," he added.
her lap. Mrs. Huntley's face had cleared by this time. “ Ain't that child to sleep yet ? ” she asked “We'll get along somehow er 'nother, I reckon,” grievedly. “Take it into the bedroom, Hilly, she said, not hopelessly, as she arose.
and see if you can't rock it to sleep. It 's 'mos' Huntley pulled himself up slowly, and stood time for you to get supper.” She said, “Is for a moment with his hand in his pocket, look- 'mos' time.” Mrs. Potts was too tired to sound ing over the prairie. “ Yes,” he said dubiously; more letters than were necessary to convey her "I guess we 'll get along somehow. We 'most meaning. allus have - somehow."
Potts laid his coat and hat on the table and dropped into a chair. Well," he said, as the girl and the baby left the room, “ I 've been
subpænaed in that Risley and Huntley case." Ports locked the door of his printing-office, His wife looked disconsolately down at the dropped the big, jointed key into his trousers' pale rose and the bright feather in her lap. pocket, swung his coat over his shoulders, and “Wad da they want o' you ? ” she asked. started home. It was Friday night, and the “ It's just this way, Gracie,” said Mr. Potts, week's issue was off.” At such times Potts stroking his red chin-whiskers. “There 's no usually walked briskly and held his head up; doubt that that man Hawk was a little — not but to-night, though he walked rapidly, his step exactly square.” Mr. Potts felt most apolowas slouching and his head bent down. He getic to Mr. Hawk for being obliged to make turned off from the business street, and at the this statement, but, having made it, he grew end of two blocks came to the square, white more courageous. “ He swindled that Hunt
ried to say.
ley; got him to sign the note and mortgage What do I owe to my Maker ? What do I owe somehow, and Risley claims to have bought to my fellow-men? What would you have the note in good faith. And those blanks that me dishonest?” Potts cried vehemently, standI printed for Hawk — those — there was a cor- ing in front of his wife, and gesticulating. rection on two of the proofs in Captain Ris- At this Mrs. Potts began to whimper. “That's ley's handwriting, which might have the look, it-go pitching into me, go hectoring me,” or be made to appear, somehow, as though she said. “And what do you owe to your poor Captain Risley had some foreknowledge. Of family? We can be turned out, and be outcas's. course I don't think Captain Risley 's the man You ain't got no feeling for us.” to go into a barefaced fraud; and yet—" And “Why, my dear, I 'm sure I did n't mean to yet those pencil-written words on the proof speak harshly. I'm sure, my dear wife, the hapin Captain Risley's peculiar hand stared up at piness of you and the children is my first conhim.
sideration. I'm sure I did n't intend — I only “And they expect you to go and testify to wanted to show you how necessary it was that that and get you in a scrape with Captain Ris- I should hold up my head with honest men—" ley,” Mrs. Potts said, with a kind of sagged “And you don't care about me holding up resentment.
my head. I can be a beggar; I can be nobody. “Of course Captain Risley never said a Only to-day Mrs. Risley called on me, and word to me about the blanks, nor I to him. asked me to come up and bring the children.” All I know is those corrections,” Potts hur- Mrs. Potts gazed down at the finery in her lap,
and at the decaying hopes which it represented “Then wad da ye want to say anything about to her; she wept afresh. it for ? ” Gracie demanded.
“Why, I certainly wish you to be somebody. Potts got up, and mopped his forehead. “If I wish you and the children—"Mr. Potts began. I 'm put on the stand, Gracie," he said, "I'll No, you don't,” his wife wailed. “You have to tell the truth."
ain't got the feelings of a man. We can be Well, wad da you know to tell ? You said turned out; we can be beggars and outcas's. he never said nothing to you, or you to him. We can go back to preaching, and be dogs, and Ain't that enough ? Wad da you want to go you don't care.” lugging in the other about the proofs for," Mrs. Potts stood alternately gnawing and pawing Potts persisted dolorously.
his fiery whiskers. Potts was nervously pacing up and down “But, Gracie, my dear, consider," he apthe room. “But, my dear," he expostulated, pealed frantically. “it's not a question of lugging in anything. “No, you ain't,” she blubbered. “You know You don't seem to understand. Here 's Hunt- you ain't.” ley, a citizen, entitled to equality before the Potts stood for a moment beside the table, law. He calls upon me for my testimony. I am chewing fiercely at his beard, and overwhelmed bound - it 's my duty – my duty – Potts with grief, penitence, and oddly mingled rage; felt that he was getting his feet on firm ground; then he seized his hat and bolted from the room. but his wife rolled back with :
He went through the lot to a board shed at the “Well, I don't know what that Huntley's rear, which had once harbored the cow of a ever done for you that he can expect you to get more prosperous tenant. Entering this, he sat into a mess with Captain Risley for him.”. down on the cool, trampled dirt, with his feet
“It ain't Huntley at all," Potts cried; stuck straight out before him, and, holding his “ Huntley's got nothing to do with it — that hands over his chest, gave himself up to mediis, with me.” Mr. Potts paused a moment and tation. untangled himself. “ It 's not what I owe to Potts felt that the problem of life, never easy Huntley; it 's what I owe to-to-civiliza- of solution, had suddenly snarled and drawn tion," and Mr. Potts spread out both his arms into a hard knot for him. He had been reared as though to express by the gesture the broad in primitive orthodoxy, and had begun life as idea for which he could find no adequate word. a Methodist minister. To him the commands
“And you 're never thinking what you owe of the Bible were “ Yea, yea,” and “Nay, nay.” to Risley,” his wife retorted." That 's just “Thou shalt not bear false witness” were the like you- - you 're always going off after some words now. To commit flat perjury would fool thing like that and letting the rest go. have been to him as hurling a defiance at Look at what Risley 's done for you — you God, as leaping into a literal hell. It was know he 's got a mortgage on everything that which troubled him; but the temptayou've got.” Mrs. Potts was getting her spirittion in the words of his wife buzzed and whisup; she even turned one flabby hand palm pered to him. He could say truthfully that downward.
Risley had never spoken a word to him about “ But what do I owe to my conscience? the printing of those blanks, and that he had
spoken no word to Risley; certainly Hawk had notion that God regarded him askance and with never mentioned Risley. There were those two a kind of sorrowing doubtfulness. His prayers peculiar words—but, after all, what were they, were largely apologetic, and he resorted to that merely on the strength of them he should them with a shamed humility. accuse Captain Risley of fraud ? To Potts the prospect of opposing Risley was only less ternifying than that of defying God. That Risley had him in his power in a material way did not BESIDES his own desk, there was in Justice count for so much with him; but in the year Snagley's court-room a long, narrow table of and a half of their intercourse Risley's strong rough board, more like a broad, long-legged will had gained a great ascendancy over him, bench, for the lawyers; one bench for the jury; and that he, Potts, should publicly bear wit- and two other benches and an awkward squad ness that impugned Risley — the thought star- of wooden chairs, of different styles and in diftled him, and, besides, how could it be true? As ferent stages of dilapidation, for the spectators. he thought of it in this light it all became Håggis, attorney for Risley, sat at one end easy to him. He could answer every question of the table, bolt upright in his chair, and expromptly; he could say that Risley never said, amining some papers. Haggis was of the build or wrote, or intimated a thing in connection colloquially termed “sawed off," and he had with those blanks, and could come down from big blue eyes that popped out at you with an the stand with Risley smiling, his wife pacified, expression of pompous surprise. Cleary hoisted and himself unhurt. And what of those pencil- his feet comfortably on the other side of the marks, anyway? Some accident would one day table, and tilted back in his chair. Mr. Cleary account for them, for it was not possible that was in very good humor. Whatever he knew of Risley could be guilty of a deliberate villainy. Risley's connection with the printing of those He thought over the probable examination, blanks, he felt now that Potts's testimony was imagining the questions one by one. He of minor importance. He looked across the answered one after another. The attorney table at the six stupid, honest faces ranged along pressed closer and closer. He turned, equiv. the jury-bench, and he gleefully assured himocated, finally lied downright. Then the attor- self that not a man of them but had paid Risley ney leveled a threatening finger at him, and his three per cent, a month. As he contemthundered, “Do you dare swear to this court, plated them his mouth expanded in that insir, that there are not two words on those proofs credible grin. written in Captain Risley's hand ?" The per- Potts sat on one end of the bench, his hat spiration stood on Potts's brow. He saw him- held between the thumb and forefinger of one self stepping off from the only way of life that hand, and both hands clasped between his thin he had ever known or thought it possible to knees. His coat and vest were unbuttoned, and know, and wandering away into a great, dark his mouth was open, taking in the air in long, unknown somewhere. The straight path was laborious inspirations. before him, so hard to follow, but so safe; away Huntley sat beside Cleary with his arms restfrom that, what was there ? A vague and fatal ing on the table, and feeling some recompense region at which he shuddered.
for the worry and trouble of the past week in Again he imagined himself braving Risley, his temporary importance—for Huntley had suffering his wife, facing rage, persecution, star- an idea that it was his show. As the spectators vation; and he grew quite heroic over it, and dropped in he looked at them with a most hosclenched his little fists against his breast. Then pitable expression, and wished them to feel enhis wife's peevish voice, and Risley's dull, per- tirely welcome. sistent eyes and square mouth, came to him, and The justice straightened up in his chair, and he unclasped his hands and mopped his face said, “ Well, gentlemen,” and the trial began. on his shirt-sleeve. There was something in When Risley took the stand he fixed his Potts's mind back of this; namely, his idea small, wary eyes on Haggis and answered his of his peculiar relations to the Deity. As a questions promptly, pulling now and then at Methodist minister he had followed the call his dusty mustache. He testified that he knew until at length the slow, persistent opposition nothing of any churn or agency, but supposed of his wife had worn away his resolution, and the note against Huntley to be given for value, be had renounced the ministry to come to Cen- and that he bought it in good faith. Cleary tropolis and found the “ Herald.” The one took him in hand with a manner of the blanthing about Mrs. Potts besides flesh was a kind dest confidence; but Risley kept his small, wary of social ambition “ to be somebody," and the eyes upon him, and his small, wary brain, too, position of a preacher's wife did not suit her and Cleary got nothing from him. He wagged at all. When Potts gave up his charge, he did his coercive forefinger in vain; he even smiled pot consider himself a lost man, but he had a at him once or twice without effect. The witness was very positive that he had no knowledge of “I don't think he ever did. Certainly, I any blanks used in the procuring of the note don't know that he ever did.” and mortgage, and very, very positive that he Cleary paused a moment, and pulled at his had nothing whatever to do with the preparing mustache. or printing of such blanks. He was quite willing “Then, Mr. Potts, you don't know that Risto swear to this court, as Mr. Cleary threaten- ley ever saw those blanks, or the copy for them, ingly requested him to do, that he never saw or the proofs of them?” any such blanks nor any copy for such blanks. “I 'm certain he never saw them in my As Risley answered in his calm, monotonous presence." tone, Potts felt a mighty load lifting from his Cleary pulled at his mustache, and Potts mind. With Mr. Risley's example before him, held himself for the next question. He felt himtestifying did not seem so difficult a matter self at an extreme tension, and he had a desafter all.
perate wish to plunge through and have done Potts walked to the chair occupied by the with it. He was aware of Huntley's long, anxwitnesses with a firm step. He squared his ious face beyond Cleary, and of the justice's shoulders, put his feet together, held up his head across from Huntley. head, looked the justice square in the face, and Cleary considered a moment and then he took the oath without a tremor. The turmoil said, “ That 's all; take the witness.” of doubt and dismay left his mind, and all his As Cleary spoke, and Potts realized that his faculties were bent in awaiting the trial; but examination was ended, he experienced a senhe was aware in one instant of inward illu- sation of relief which changed and sank back mination that the question of what he was to instantly into an overwhelming fear and depressay was still undetermined that it was still to sion. He felt a kind of awe and quailing, and commit perjury or to tell the truth. Heinformed he felt himself condemned and cast out. A the court promptly, at Mr. Cleary's request, curtain fell behind him, a lump came into his that his name was Victor C. Potts; that he throat, and there was a palpable heaviness at resided in Centropolis; and that his occupation his heart. Haggis was speaking to him, and was editing the “ Centropolis Herald” and Potts turned toward him. running the “Herald ” printing-office. He “Your testimony is, then, Mr. Potts," he said, knew Hawk, the churn-man, and had done“ that, so far as you know, Mr. Risley had no some printing for him ; had printed some con- knowledge of those blanks ?” tracts and some deeds, some notes and some Potts gripped the arms of his chair. He felt chattel mortgages. He denied that H. Ris- his heart hammering in his breast, and his nerves ley was owner, or proprietor, or silent partner tightened. of or in the “Herald” establishment, or that “ No,” he said, fixing his eyes upon the he had any supervision over or connection justice and speaking slowly and laboriously; with the printing-office in any way; and he “there were two words — corrections — on the admitted that he had pecuniary relations with proof in Captain Risley's handwriting." Risley, and that Risley was often about the Haggis bent forward, and his eyes threatoffice.
ened Potts.“ There were — what?” he asked “Now, Mr. Potts, who gave you the order for incredulously. printing those patent-churn agency-blanks ? " “ There were two words — corrections — “ Hawk.”
written on the proofs in Captain Risley's “ Did Hawk ever say anything to you which hand.” led you to think that Risley had any connec- “ Are you certain of that? Can you swear tion with, or any knowledge of, the preparing that those words were in Captain Risley's or printing of those blanks ? "
hand ?" “No, sir; he did not."
“I am very familiar with Captain Risley's “Did you ever mention them to Risley?” hand, - it is peculiar,- and I am positive that “ No, sir.”
the writing on the proof is exactly similar to “Ever show them to him, either the blanks his." or the proofs or the copy for the blanks ?" Potts took in a huge breath. He was quite “No, sir; never.”
pale, and there was a deafening rush in his “ Did Risley ever say anything to you in brain. regard to them ? "
“ Have you those proofs — can you produce Never, sir.”
them?” Haggis demanded threateningly. “ Was Risley ever in your printing-office “I can," Potts answered. while they were being printed ? "
Potts walked from the room with his eyes “Very likely he was; he comes there often.” fixed straight before him; and when he came
“ Are you very sure that he never saw them back with the proofs in his hand he fastened there?”
his eyes on the justice the moment he entered