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But I did.
They was ahead o' me,
I could hear 'em talkin' in one o' the rooms.
But that hall was so cold my teeth chattered,
'Twas like walkin' on velvet,
An' the softness give me a dret'ful start.
An' the dust was so thick
It oozed up between my toes
An' sucked me down,
The way snow does.
"Twas dark too,
'Count o' the shut blinds,
Did n't seem like the same world was outside.
I looked out o' the door,
An' the glassy green o' the box hedges,
An' the swingin' chains o' the Common fence beyond,
They looked so nat❜ral.
Bimeby I got used to it bein' so dim in ther'
An' I could see the steps they 'd made in the dust,
An' the little round plop where the malaccer cane had set.
So I follered,
Makin' no noise
'Cause o' my bare feet.
Oh, it was a house!
There was carvin's everywher',
Flowers an' vines all runnin' and blowin'.
Ther' was a whole orchard over the chimblies,
But the paint was all peelin' off
An' the dust choked the ribs o' the pillars till they was pretty near
Ther' was a great glass chandelier in every room
They did n't shine much,
But they did a little,
An' that shinin' was so empty an' cold,
I had to go under 'em without lookin'.
"Twas as ef they had n't had nothin' to reflect
For so many years
They was makin' up time by reflectin' me double.
I jest sensed it.
Halfway up the stairs was a great standin' glass,
It did n't show what was in front of it
Bein' all run as 'twere,
An' yet I seemed to see things movin' through it.
An' when I did n't look, they war.
It kep' me on the stairs a terr'ble time,
An' I had to rec'lect George Washington real hard
When I got up to the first floor,
I heered James Boott an' the doctor
In a room over the front porch,
So I crep' over and peeked thru the crack o' the door.
I don't know what I seed,
Nothin' at first, I guess,
Fer the blue light from the blinds did n't make fer seein',
They was so sweet and strong
I thought I'd ha' dropped with the surprise o' it.
They did make my mouth water.
Then I heered the doctor say:
"Why, Mr. Boott, what are you doing with all these apples on the
An' old Boott's voice, like a cracked fiddle, answerin':
"I find this an excellent place to ripen apples, Dr. Busby."
"Do you mean to tell me you keep this house to ripen a few dozen apples in ?"
That voice did me good,
An' I braced up an' stared into the blue room
An' ther' was old James fingerin' his apples
With a queer, scared look on his face.
He was pattin' 'em,
An' cossetin' 'em,
I don't know why, but it made me shiver to see him.
An' sniffed it,
An' his eyes looked narrer an' greedy.
"I like apples," he said.
Then I give a awful jump
For the malaccer cane fell down on the floor with a clatter.
'Cause I seem to remember standin' up ther' in the doorway
But they did n't see me.
The doctor started forward an' grabbed the old man's arm. "You poor soul!" he said.
That was all,
An' it did n't seem much,
But James Boott jest crumpled up
An' would ha' fell only fer the doctor's holdin' him.
I suppose 'twas a sob,
But it sounded like some critter inside fightin' loose.
It echoed an' echoed 'bout that room
An' set the chandelier jiggin';
It seemed everywher',
Back an' front,
An' when I turned roun',
Ther was somethin' wigglin' in the big mirror, fer sartin. I guess now 'twas the reflection
O' the movin' chandelier,
But I did n't think so then.
Anyhow, I jumped down them stairs
Quicker 'n winkin',
An' I out int' th' yard
An' run till I was in bed in my own room.
My mother thought I had a chill
But I knowed diff'rent.
I knowed a lot,
But I never found out what 'twas I really knowed.
Fer nothin' happened.
James Boott lived a couple o' years after that
An' when he died Dr. Busby bought the house,
An' his daughter was livin' in it when I was last to Pelham.
'Twarn't much, was it?
An' yet I don't know
I ain't never forgot it.
The Dictatorship of the Dull
By ALEXANDER BLACK, Author of "THE GREAT DESIRE," etc.
Tscribed the Inquisition as
HE biographer of Philip II de- torship in Russia that it gets a good deal of attention not because it is a dictatorship, but because it is different. All of us who are governed live under some sort of dictatorship. The benevolent despotism of democracy can be like a padded cell in which one is supposed not to be able to hurt oneself. Mostly, radicalism expresses consolations equivalent to a hunger strike. And all dictatorship is not political. The doctrine of supply and demand sets up a mighty dictatorship. So does all dogma for all who accept. So do fashion and family. There is dictatorship in science's word "normal." The prefix "ab" builds an inquisitorial spiked chair for rebel or genius.
"heavenly remedy, a guardian angel of Paradise." No despotism can be so galling as to quench every apologist. Naturally, the despot has a good word for himself, and it is a part of his business to prod his press agent. Quite as naturally, the press agent completes the calamity. On one of those days when we feel the presence of Mr. Conrad's two veiled figures, Doubt and Melancholy, "pacing endlessly in the sunshine of the world," the press agent does the trick. The right rhapsody finishes that which oppression began. We bear an oppression because it may have enveloped us gradually with the seeming unavoidableness of a changed temperature; or, if it comes a bit suddenly, like the contact of a shrinking shoe, we may try adjusting ourselves as to an inevitable annoyance; but when some one drives in the nail of the enabling adjective, philosophy fails.
We should, of course, cultivate with regard to life what Montaigne cultivated with regard to books, “a skipping wit." But one can't skip a despotism unless it is distant enough. We can be academic about those that are far enough off. We can look at Russia and decide that the dictatorship of a proletariat is good or bad, according to our ideals, and especially, perhaps, according to our information. Perhaps, too, we may decide with regard to a dicta
There are moments when a sense of individual security may reach so nearly the dimensions of an individual serenity as to remind us that it takes two to make a dictatorship. There are other moments when we feel sharply impelled to go out and look for the dictators and have the thing done with. In our evenest mood, one in which we feel most assured of being balanced, and reasonably, if not fanatically, forbearing, we can scarcely hope to escape consciousness of that widest and most permeative of all dictatorships, the dictatorship of the dull.
The dull; not the frail who have never begun, but the free who have finished; not the stupid who cannot think, but the dull who object to thinking; not the submerged, the thwarted