One night, Charlton, coming home from an evening with Miss Minorkey at the hotel, found a man standing in front of the fence.
“What do you want here?” he asked sharply.
“Didn’ mean no harm, stranger, to nobody.”
“Oh! it’s you!” exclaimed Charlton, recognizing his friend the Poet. “Come in, come in.”
“Come in? Couldn’ do it no way, stranger. Ef I was to go in thar amongst all them air ladies, my knees would gin out. I was jist a-lookin’ at that purty creetur. But I ‘druther die’n do her any harm. I mos’ wish I was dead. But ‘ta’n’t no harm to look at her ef she don’ know it. I shan’t disturb her; and ef she marries a gentleman, I shan’t disturb him nuther. On’y, ef he don’ mind it, you know, I’ll write po’try about her now and then. I got some varses now that I wish you’d show to her, ef you think they won’t do her no harm, you know, and I don’t ’low they will. Good-by, Mr. Charlton. Comin’ down to sleep on your claim? Land’s a-comin’ into market down thar.”
After the Poet left him, Albert took the verses into the house and read them, and gave them to Katy. The first stanza was, if I remember it rightly, something of this sort:
“A angel come inter the poar trapper’s
The purty feet tromped on the rough puncheon floor,
Her lovely head slep’ on his prairie-grass piller—
The cabin is lonesome and the trapper is poar,
He hears little shoes a-pattin’ the floor;
He can’t sleep at night on that piller no more;
His Hoosier harp hangs on the wild water-willer!”
SAWNEY AND HIS OLD LOVE.
Self-conceit is a great source of happiness, a buffer that softens all the jolts of life. After David Sawney’s failure to capture Perritaut’s half-breed Atlantis and her golden apples at one dash, one would have expected him to be a little modest in approaching his old love again; but forty-eight hours after her return from Glenfield, he was paying his “devours,” as he called them, to little Katy Charlton. He felt confident of winning—he was one of that class of men who believe themselves able to carry off anybody they choose. He inventoried his own attractions with great complacency; he had good health, a good claim, and, as he often boasted, had been “raised rich,” or, as he otherwise stated it, “cradled in the lap of luxury.” His father was one of those rich Illinois farmers who are none the less coarse for all their money and farms. Owing to reverses of fortune, Dave had inherited none of the wealth, but all of the coarseness of grain. So he walked into Squire Plausaby’s with his usual assurance, on the second evening after Katy’s return.
“Howdy, Miss Charlton,” he said, “howdy! I’m glad to see you lookin’ so smart. Howdy, Mrs. Ferret!” to the widow, who was present. “Howdy do, Mr. Charlton—back again?” And then he took his seat alongside Katy, not without a little trepidation, for he felt a very slight anxiety lest his flirtation With Perritaut’s ten thousand dollars “mout’ve made his chances juberous,” as he stated it to his friends. But then, he reflected, “she’ll think I’m worth more’n ever when she knows I de-clined ten thousand dollars, in five annooal payments.”