« AnkstesnisTęsti »
"Why?" said Patsy.
Now Christie was usually very prompt with an answer, but it was different to-night as he talked with Patsy. He was very ill at ease, and hesitated some time before he spoke.
"Well," he said, after a long pause, "there's some boys out there in front, and I think I'd like them to see me in my red tights and the spangles, see?"
"Oh, all right," said Patsy; "I don't care." "Do you mean it?" he replied. "Thank you ever so much."
but now he was looking away from them, and might not lower it in time. The blood rushed to Christie's head. He felt as if a furnace was raging within him.
"Lower that hurdle, you d―!" The rest of the sentence was lost in the yells of the men and the shrieks of the women. The audience was on its feet. The horse had hit the stick with one of its fore-feet. The man fell uninjured, but the boy was picked up with a deep cut just over his temple.
The ring-master called for any doctors that might be in the audience, and a little group
"YOUR hand's as cold as ice," said the ring- of men followed the two attendants that carmaster, as he led Christie out.
ried the boy into the big dressing-tent. They
"Think so?" said Christie. " Great house, laid him on a wooden chest, and covered the
is n't it?"
In a minute he was on the horse's back, and a moment later Boynton was holding him out at arm's-length. Christie saw that the rider was doing the act unconscious of everything about him. The man seemed dazed, and moved mechanically. If the horse had not been so well trained the act must have ended at once in a failure. As it slowed down to a walk Christie gave vent to a long sigh of relief. "That was easy enough," he said to himself; "but I wish I was over those five sticks.”
The hurdles were brought out, and the horse started on a slow gallop around the ring. Boynton, who was probably unconscious of what he was doing, or over-anxious to get through the act and be alone away from the awful crowd, suddenly yelled to his horse. Christie, who was standing on the man's shoulders, felt the animal make a sudden start, and just managed to steady himself for the first hurdle.
"One-two-three-four," he counted, as the horse jumped each hurdle. In another second it would all be over. At the exit he saw Patsy standing. She was leaning against the band-stand with her hands stuck deep down in the pockets of her ulster. Then he looked at the man holding the last hurdle. As the horse jumped each stick, the man always lowered it;
"That's good, that 's good," said Christie. "But what 's the matter with the band? Why ain't it playin'? And the lights, they're all goin' out. Say, please don't leave me alone here when I'm hurt."
The proprietor stood in the background, biting his nails. One of the attendants tiptoed noiselessly across the floor of the tent to his side.
"The audience, Mr. Clyde?" he said. The proprietor looked up sharply. "The audience be
He did not finish the sentence, for he saw the little group about Christie slowly turning their backs on the little rider and moving away.
"I guess you'd better tell 'em it's all over," he said. Charles Belmont Davis.
THE BIRD'S SONG, THE SUN, AND THE WIND.
HE bird's song, the sun, and the wind
The wind that rushes, the sun that is still,
The spring's coming, the buds, and the brooks-
Charles G. D. Roberts.
THE COFFEE-HOUSE, MAARKEN.
T nine o'clock the coffee-house is full. It is a long, low room, well smoked as to ceiling and walls and well sanded as to floor, and although it is the official meeting-place of the town, where the burgomaster and the principal men of the locality congregate, it can hold them all, and still give bench-room to the chance stranger.
A high-backed, oaken bench, well polished by use, follows the wall on three sides, leaving space for the high, white-tiled fireplace. The fourth is occupied by a leaden-faced bar, or counter, well garnished with the tall delft jars in blue and white with shining brass tops, wherein is contained the material for the goodly array of clay pipes in the racks overhead. Small, round tables are set before the bench, leaving the center of the room free. The bench itself is well occupied by a line of stolid, substantial-looking, ruminating Hollanders smoking furiously, the gray wreaths. of pungent vapor slowly curling upward about the hanging models of vessels, high as to poop and rounded as to bow-models of the time of Van der Decken.
Only occasionally does a mynheer remove his pipe to let fall a sentence epigrammatic in its terseness. Your North Hollander speaks
slowly, and is economical with his words. He neither looks for nor attempts smartness of repartee; does not smile easily; and rarely tells a story, because all the stories are known and worn threadbare by repetition, and he is shy of new ones. If one listens to the talk one finds that it is of the sea. Everything in Maarken belongs to the sea. How can one be interested in crops that are grown in tubs; in farms that number feet instead of acres; in land brought from Amsterdam at that, for Maarken is all sand? Then, again, when one goes abroad in Maarken, one must either walk over the water on bridges or sail upon it in a boat, and even the housetops are ornamented with bellying nets hung up to dry, and with long masts from which Juvrowe flies a signal of welcome to Hnedrik or Nikolaas on his way home in his blunt-bowed, lee-boarded tjalk.
It is in the coffee-house that your talker, your romancer, is discouraged. He is quickly made to understand by means well known to the phlegmatic frequenters that they will have none of him; that he must either observe the proprieties well established there, or go away at once.
In the coffee-house whist is much in vogue- an excellent method of disguising the poverty of conversation, or of excusing the lack of it. So happily
constituted are the players, that with the exception of an occasional grunt of pleasure or dismay, as it so happens, when a card is laid down, and the continuous puffing of pipes manufacturing fragrant fog, the silence is well-nigh unbroken for, I was about to say, hours at a time. This evening the current was interrupted excitement reigned; that is to say, as much excitement as could be permitted within the hallowed precincts of the coffee-house. A stranger was present. Enough would it have been had the stranger been a countryman from Sneek, or even from Monnikendam; but lo! this was no common, every-day stranger, actually sitting in the corner by the tilegarnished fireplace, drinking his thin beer and smoking a new clay pipe as stolidly as if he had occupied the spot for a score of years. This bearing of his conferred a dignity upon him in the eyes of the mynheers that they could not conceal. Whist languished, pipes went out and needed relighting, a necessity in itself marvelous and hitherto unheard of. Whispers were heard from the burgomaster's corner. The mynheers slid along the polished bench until they were all in a knot, with their heads together about the burgomaster's. The whispers became louder; horny palms smote one another; an unheeded pipe fell to the floor, and broke in pieces with a metallic click. The group parted, and it was evident that a crisis had arrived. The burgomaster drew apart in a dignified manner, and approached the stranger. The others also slid their persons along the polished settle in his direction. The burgomaster bowed, ejaculated, "Dag, mynheer," seized the poker, and made shift to stir the lumps of glowing charcoal in the brass box on the hearth.
It was like a scene from a comic opera, with the line of fascinated mynheers in very small skull-caps perched upon their shock heads, bright neckerchiefs fastened with huge gold buttons, coats abbreviated as to tails and tight in the waist, and breeches of indescribable width. There was, however, a trifle more of dignity in the dress of the burgomaster. His was a long-tailed coat of clerical cut, a widebrimmed felt hat, knee-breeches, and leg
gings. Still stirring the coals, he seated himself beside the stranger, and looked him critically over from the corner of his eye. The inspection seemed to be satisfactory, for he offered his tobacco-box with a ceremonious bow. The stranger accepted, and bowed in return, and the salutation was repeated by the mynheers on the slippery bench; which formality being at an end, the burgomaster, filling his pipe, ejaculated:
"Van Amerikaa," avowed the stranger.
"Van Amerikaa," triumphantly sounded in chorus the mynheers on the bench. There was a long pause, during which heavy volumes of smoke arose.
"Nord Amerikaa?" asked the burgomaster in a doubtful tone.
"Nord Amerikaa," responded the stranger. "Nord Amerikaa," sounded the chorus of mynheers, nodding to one another in great enjoyment of the perspicacity of the burgomaster. Another long interval followed, during which the mynheers allowed the fact to percolate through their gray
"New York?" suddenly called out, in a burst of genius, a fat fellow, with an absurdly thin neck and an emaciated head, who sat at the farthest end of the bench.
The stranger's answer to this brilliant inquiry was breathlessly awaited. Finally, when he had succeeded in lighting his pipe, he nodded. With a sigh of relief the mynheers gravely repeated the nod to one another, and all settled back on the bench.
Here the burgomaster began to shuffle his feet and to blink his eyes. He was evidently formulating an interrogation, but before he could get it in form, from the emaciated head on the end of the bench came in jerks: "New York has got a Brasident- Gleveland, heh? Shoo-fly! I spik Engelsch!" Much to the disappointment of the mynheers, who evidently regarded the speaker as a scholar of the first magnitude, the stranger did not vouchsafe any reply to this piece of information, but
drained his beer-mug to the last drop, and set it upon the table with the lid up. There is an old and honored custom in Holland which provides that whenever one leaves his mug with the lid up in a public place it is in form for all within reach to deposit their mugs upon his table, and he is forced to pay for their refilling. Such an occasion had not happened in Maarken within the memory of the oldest mynheer in the town, and almost before the American's mug had touched the table the eager mynheers were upon their feet, headed by the dignified burgomaster, mug in hand.
teen stories high are seen, and stairs are seldom used. People are whisked up to their rooms in cars run by steam. In New York cars are run upon the streets not by horses or steam, but by lightning, and all the lamps in the city are lighted at once by one man, who uses no fire or matches, but simply sits in his chair and turns a screw. In New York there is a bridge so high that the masts of tall vessels may pass under it without touching. It is hung upon wires, and railroad-trains pass over it all day and night. In New York the burgomaster paused spellbound in the act of drinking, and slowly set down his mug with the lid up. The stranger's eye caught the error, and he banged his mug on the table beside the burgomaster's. The mynheers rose to their feet in an ecstasy of astonishment, indignation, and dismay, and before the stranger's mug had E been filled and replaced upon the table the coffee-house was empty, save for the presence of the American and the awestruck landlord.
George Wharton Edwards.
IVE us the earth's whole heart but once to know, But once to pierce the secret of the spring,
Give us our fill,- and we at end will go
Into the starless night unmurmuring.
Gold lights that beckon down the dusky way,
Where loud wheels roll, impetuous, through the night; The lamp-lit leaves; the maddening airs of May;
The heady wine of living, dark and bright.
Give us of these, and we are blest, in truth;
Ah, vain desire, our straitened years to mar!
Evasive echoes of a distant feast.
Graham R. Tomson.
RUDGIS AND GRIM.
WITH PICTURES BY E. W. KEMBLE.
"When Freedom from her mountain height," etc.
ENGRAVED BY T. SCHUSSLER.
HE Rudgis farm was the only one in Lone Ridge Pocket, a secluded nook of the north Georgia mountain-region, and its owner, Eli Rudgis, was, in the ante-bellum time, a man of note among the simple and honest people who dwelt beside the little crooked highway leading down the valley of the Pine-log Creek. He owned only one negro, as was often the case with the better class of mountaineers, but, which is not often the case with them, he had neither wife nor children. His slave was his sole companion of the human kind, sharing with certain dogs, pigs, horses, and oxen a rude, democratic distribution of the domestic frowns and favors. As a man this negro was an interesting specimen of the genuine African: short, strongly built, but ill-shapen, with a large head firmly braced by a thick, muscular neck on broad, stooping shoulders; a skin as black as night; small, deep-set eyes; a protruding, resolute jaw; and a nose as flat as the head of an adder. As a slave he was, perhaps, valuable enough in his way; but both as man and thrall he did no discredit to his name, which was Grim. He, too, was a familiar figure along the Pine-log
road, as he drove an old creaking ox-cart to and from the village.
When the war broke out, master and slave had reached the beginning of the downward slope of life, and, having spent many years together in their lonely retreat at the Pocket, had grown to love each other after the surly, taciturn fashion of men who have few thoughts and a meager gift of expression.
Eli Rudgis was tall, slim, cadaverous, slow of movement, and sallow; but he had a will of his own, and plenty of muscle to enforce it withal.
"Grim," said he one day, "them derned Northerners air a-goin' ter set ye free."
The negro looked up from the hickory-bark basket he was mending, and scowled savagely at his master.
"W'at yo' say, Mars Rudgis?" he presently inquired.
Them Yankees air a-goin' ter gi' ye yer freedom poorty soon."
Grim's face took on an expression of dogged determination, his shoulders rose almost to the level of his protruding ears, and his small, wolfish eyes gleamed fiercely.
"Who say dey gwine ter do dat?" he demanded with slow, emphatic enunciation. "I say hit, an' w'en I says hit," began the master; but Grim broke in with:
"Dey cayn't do nuffin' wid me. I done made up my min'; dis chil' cayn't be fo'ced. Yo' yah dat, Mars Rudgis?"
Rudgis grinned dryly, and walked away smoking his cob-pipe with the air of a philosopher who bides his time.
The Rudgis cabin was a low, nondescript log structure of three or four rooms and a wide entry, or hall, set in the midst of a thick, luxuriant orchard of peach-, plum-, and appletrees crowning a small conical foot-hill, which, seen from a little distance, appeared to rest against the rocky breast of a mountain that stood over against the mouth of the Pocket. From the rickety veranda where Rudgis now sought a seat there was a fine view of the little farm, whose angular but rolling patches of tillable land straggled away to the foothills on the other side of the Pocket, beyond which the wall of cliffs rose, gray and brown, to a great height.