IN WHICH THE HAM WAR HAS ITS BEGINNING
“One day in the old time a couple of industrious Yankees were hard at work in a field,” Socrates continued. “Suddenly one said to the other:
“‘I wish I was worth ten thousand dollars.’
“An’ the other asked:
“‘What would ye do with it?’
“The wisher rested on his shovel an’ gave his friend a look of utter contempt.
“‘What would I do with it?’ he said. ’Why, you cussed fool, I’d set down—an’ without blamin’ myself.’
“By-and-by the Yankee got to settin’ down without blamin’ himself, an’ also without the ten thousand. Here in Pointview we’re learnin’ how to stand up again, an’ Lizzie is responsible. You shall hear how it happened.
“First I must tell you that Dan had been makin’ little progress in the wooin’ o’ Lizzie. Now she was inclined to go slow. Lizzie was fond o’ Dan. She put on her best clothes when he came to see her of a Sunday. She sang to him, she walked him about the place with her arm in his, but she tenderly refused to agree to marry him. When he grew sentimental she took him out among the cucumbers in the garden. She permitted no sudden rise in his temperature.
“‘I will not marry,’ she said, ’until I have done what I can to repay my father for all that he has tried to do for me. I must be uneducated and re-educated. It may take a long time. Meanwhile you may meet some one you like better. I’m not going to pledge you to wait for me. Of course I shall be awfully proud and pleased if you do wait, but, Dan, I want you to be free. Let’s both be free until we’re ready.’
“It was bully. Dan pleaded with the eloquence of an old-fashioned lawyer. Lizzie stood firm behind this high fence, an’ she was right. With Dan in debt an’ babies comin’, what could she have done for her father? Suddenly it seemed as if all the young men had begun to take an interest in Lizzie, an’, to tell the truth, she was about the neatest, sweetest little myrmidon of commerce that ever wore a white apron. The light of true womanhood had begun to shine in her face. She kept the store in apple-pie order, an’ everybody was well treated. The business grew. Sam bought a small farm outside the village with crops in, an’ moved there for the summer. Soon he began to let down his prices. The combine was broken. It was the thing we had been waitin’ for. People flocked to his store. The others came down, but too late. Sam held his gain, an’ Lizzie was the power behind the fat. Dan finished his course in agriculture an’ I bought him a farm, an’ he went to work there, but he spent half his time in the store of his father tryin’ to keep up with Lizzie. Suddenly Dan started a ham war. He cut the price of hams five cents a pound. Ham was one of our great staples, an’ excitement ran high. Lizzie