Vandemark's Folly eBook

John Herbert Quick
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 471 pages of information about Vandemark's Folly.

She laid her lips on mine.  It was the first kiss I had ever had from any one since I was a little boy; and as I half struggled against but finally returned it, it thrilled me powerfully.  Afterward I was disgusted with myself for kissing this castaway; but as I drove on, leaving her standing in the middle of the road looking after me, it almost seemed as if I were leaving a friend.  Perhaps she was, in her way, the nearest thing to a friend I had then in the world—­strange as it seems.  As for Rucker, he was rejoicing, of course, at having trimmed neatly a dumb-head of a Dutch boy—­a wrong to my poor mother, the very thought of which even after all these years, makes my blood boil.



I was off with the spring rush of 1855 for the new lands of the West!  I kept thinking as I drove along of Lawyer Jackway’s sarcastic toast, “Sold again, and got the tin, and sucked another Dutchman in!” But after all I couldn’t keep myself from feeling pretty proud, as I watched the play of my horses’ ears as they seemed to take in each new westward view as we went over the tops of the low hills, and as I listened to the “chuck, chuck” of the wagon wheels on their well-greased skeins.  Rucker and Jackway might have given me a check on the tow-path; but yet I felt hopeful that I was to make a real success of my voyage of life to a home and a place where I could be somebody.  There was pleasure in looking back at my riches in the clean, hard-stuffed straw-tick, the stove, the traveling home which belonged to me.

It seems a little queer to me now to think of it as I look out of my bay-window at my great fields of corn, my pastures dotted with stock, my feedyard full of fat steers; or as I sit in the directors’ room of the bank and take my part as a member of the board.  But I am really not as rich now as I was then.

I was going to a country which seemed to be drawing everybody else, and must therefore be a good country—­and I had a farm.  I had a great farm.  It was a mile square.  It was almost like the estate that General Cantine had near the canal at Ithaca I thought.  To my boy’s mind it looked too big for me; and sometimes I wondered if I should not be able to rent it out to tenants and grow rich on my income, like the Van Rensselaers of the Manor before the Anti-Rent difficulties.

All the while I was passing outfits which were waiting by the roadside, or making bad weather of it for some reason or other; or I was passed by those who had less regard for their horse-flesh than I, or did not realize that the horses had to go afoot; or those that drew lighter loads.  There were some carriages which went flourishing along with shining covers; these were the aristocrats; there were other slow-going rigs drawn by oxen.  Usually there would be two or more vehicles in a train.  They camped by the roadside cooking their meals; they stopped at wayside taverns.  They gave me all sorts of how-d’ye-does as I passed.  Girls waved their hands at me from the hind-ends of rigs and said bold things—­to a boy they would not see again; but which left him blushing and thinking up retorts for the next occasion—­retorts that never seemed to fit when the time came; and talkative women threw remarks at me about the roads and the weather.

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Vandemark's Folly from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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