“Why, if I was you, I’d go into politics,” said the other. “Ye might be President some day, no telling. Do ye know how t’ chop er hoe er swing a scythe?”
“Wal, then, if ye don’t ever git t’ be President, ye won’t have t’ starve. I saw an author one day.”
“He was an awful-lookin’ cuss,” said the other, with a nod of affirmation.
The strange boy took another bite of bread and butter.
“Wrote dime novels an’ drank whisky an’ wore a bearskin vest,” he added presently.
“Do you know the Declaration of Independence?”
“I do,” said the strange boy, and gave it word for word.
They chatted and tried tricks and spent a happy hour there by the roadside. It was an hour of pure democracy—neither knew even the name of the other so far.
They got to Cleveland late in the afternoon.
“Now keep yer hand on yer wallet,” said the strange boy, as they were coming into the city. “I’ve got three dollars an’ seventy-five cents in mine, an’ I don’t propose t’ have it took away from me.”
Trove went to a tavern, the other to stay with friends. Near noon next day both boys met on the wharf, where Trove was to board a steamboat.
“Got a job?” Trove inquired.
“No,” said the other, with a look of dejection. “I tried, an’ they cursed an’ damned me awful. I got away as quick as I could. Dunno but I’ll have t’ go back an’ try t’ be a statesman er something o’ that kind. Guess it’s easier than goin’ t’ sea. Give me yer name an’ address, an’ maybe I’ll write ye a letter.”
“Please give me yours,” said he.
“It’s James Abram Garfield, Orange, O.,” said the other.
Then they spoke a long good-by.
The Old Rag Doll
The second week of September Trove went down the hills again to school, with food and furniture beside him in the great wagon. He had not been happy since he got home. Word of that evening with the pretty “Vaughn girl” had come to the ears of Allen.
“You’re too young for that, boy,” said he, the day Trove came. “You must promise me one thing—that you’ll keep away from her until you are eighteen.”
In every conviction Allen was like the hills about him—there were small changes on the surface, but underneath they were ever the same rock-boned, firm, unmoving hills.
“But I’m in love with her,” said the boy, with dignity. “It is more than I can bear. I tell you, sir, that I regard the young lady with—with deep affection.” He had often a dignity of phrase and manner beyond his years.
“Then it will last,” said Allen. “You’re only a boy, and for a while I know what is best for you.”
Trove had to promise, and, as that keen edge of his feeling wore away, doubted no more the wisdom of his father. He wrote Polly a letter, quaint with boyish chivalry and frankness—one of a package that has lain these many years in old ribbons and the scent of lavender.