(Here Simon Wheeler heard his name called from the front yard, and got up to see what was wanted.) And turning to me as he moved away, he said: “Just set where you are, stranger, and rest easy—I ain’t going to be gone a second.”
But, by your leave, I did not think that a continuation of the history of the enterprising vagabond Jim Smiley would be likely to afford me much information concerning the Rev. Leonidas W. Smiley, and so I started away.
At the door I met the sociable Wheeler returning, and he buttonholed me and recommenced:
“Well, thish-yer Smiley had a yaller, one-eyed cow that didn’t have no tail, only jest a short stump like a bannanner, and——”
However, lacking both time and inclination, I did not wait to hear about the afflicted cow, but took my leave.
ELDER BROWN’S BACKSLIDE
By Harry Stillwell Edwards (1855- )
[From Harper’s Magazine, August, 1885; copyright, 1885, by Harper & Bros.; republished in the volume, Two Runaways, and Other Stories (1889), by Harry Stillwell Edwards (The Century Co.).]
Elder Brown told his wife good-by at the farmhouse door as mechanically as though his proposed trip to Macon, ten miles away, was an everyday affair, while, as a matter of fact, many years had elapsed since unaccompanied he set foot in the city. He did not kiss her. Many very good men never kiss their wives. But small blame attaches to the elder for his omission on this occasion, since his wife had long ago discouraged all amorous demonstrations on the part of her liege lord, and at this particular moment was filling the parting moments with a rattling list of directions concerning thread, buttons, hooks, needles, and all the many etceteras of an industrious housewife’s basket. The elder was laboriously assorting these postscript commissions in his memory, well knowing that to return with any one of them neglected would cause trouble in the family circle.
Elder Brown mounted his patient steed that stood sleepily motionless in the warm sunlight, with his great pointed ears displayed to the right and left, as though their owner had grown tired of the life burden their weight inflicted upon him, and was, old soldier fashion, ready to forego the once rigid alertness of early training for the pleasures of frequent rest on arms.
“And, elder, don’t you forgit them caliker scraps, or you’ll be wantin’ kiver soon an’ no kiver will be a-comin’.”
Elder Brown did not turn his head, but merely let the whip hand, which had been checked in its backward motion, fall as he answered mechanically. The beast he bestrode responded with a rapid whisking of its tail and a great show of effort, as it ambled off down the sandy road, the rider’s long legs seeming now and then to touch the ground.