“’Sack and Ax’—don’t forget that!”
He looked back, waved his hand to her, and then—he was gone.
[Illustration: HE GAVE HER HIS HAND FOR THE LAST TIME]
AN UNINVITED GUEST
“Glory to America!” the village watchman, to the amusement of all, cried several nights when he called out the hours, in place of the usual thanksgiving to God. Crappy Zachy, being a man of no consideration himself, was fond of speaking evil of the poor when he found himself among what he called “respectable people,” and on Sunday when he came out of church, or on an afternoon when he sat on the long bench outside the “Heathcock,” he would say:
“Columbus was a real benefactor. From what did he not deliver us? Yes, America is the pig-trough of the Old World, and into it everything that can’t be used in the kitchen is dumped—cabbage and turnips and all sorts of things. And for the piggies who live in the castle behind the house, and understand French—’Oui! Oui!’—there’s very good feeding there.”
In the general dearth of interesting subjects, Damie and his emigrating naturally formed the main topic of conversation for a considerable time, and the members of the Council praised their own wisdom in having rid the place of a person who would certainly have come to be a burden on the community. For a man who goes driving about from one trade to another is sure to drive himself into ruin eventually.
Of course, there were plenty of good-natured people who reported to Barefoot all that was said of her brother, and told her how he was made a laughing-stock. But Barefoot merely smiled. When Damie’s first letter came from Bremen—nobody had ever thought that he could write so properly—then she exulted before the eyes of men, and read the letter aloud several times; but in secret she was sorry to have lost such a brother, probably forever. She reproached herself for not having put him forward enough, for it was now evident what a sharp lad Damie was, and so good too! He wanted to take leave of the whole village as he had taken leave of the post at the boundary-line, and he now filled almost a whole page with remembrances to different people, calling each one “the dear” or “the good” or “the worthy.” Barefoot reaped a great deal of praise everywhere she delivered these greetings, and each time pointed to the precise place, and said:
“See—there it stands!”
For a time Barefoot was silent and abstracted; she seemed to repent of having let her brother go, or of having refused to go with him. Formerly she had always been heard singing in the stable and barn, in the kitchen and chamber, and when she went out with the scythe over her shoulder and the grass-cloth under her arm; but now she was silent. She seemed to be making an effort to restrain herself. Still there was one time when she allowed people to hear her voice again; in the evening, when she put Farmer Rodel’s children to bed, she sang incessantly, even long after the children were asleep. Then she would hurry over to Black Marianne’s and supply her with wood and water and whatever else the old woman wanted.