“Then it went through my mind like a flash what was the matter. Finding it cold outside, Ben had made a roaring fire on the top of the rock, and the heat had deceived the worms into the belief that it was late spring. As I lay there and thought of a full-grown man who hadn’t any better sense than to do such a thing as that, I was mad enough to kill him. I lost confidence in mankind. If I had not stopped up the entrance before lying down, with a big round stone which the heat had swollen so that a hydraulic ram couldn’t have butted it loose, I should have put on my clothes and gone straight home.”
“But, Sam, you said the entrance was open, and the moon shining in.”
“There you go again! Always contradicting—and insinuating that the moon must remain for hours in one position—and saying you’ve heard it told better by some one else—and wanting to fight! I’ve told this story to your brother over at Milk River more than a hundred million times, and he never said a word against it.”
“I believe you, Samuel; for he is deaf as a tombstone.”
“Tell you what to do for him! I know a fellow in Smith’s Valley will cure him in a minute. That fellow has cleaned the deafness all out of Washington County a dozen times. I never knew a case of it that could stand up against him ten seconds. Take three parts of snake-root to a gallon of waggon-grease, and—I’ll go and see if I can find the prescription!”
And Sam was off like a rocket.
* * * * *
That is she in the old black silk—the one with the gimlet curls and the accelerated lap-cat. Doesn’t she average about as I set her forth?
“Never told you anything about her?” Well, I will.
Twenty years ago, many a young man, of otherwise good character, would have ameliorated his condition for that girl; and would have thought himself overpaid if she had restored a fosy on his sepulchre. Maud would have been of the same opinion—and wouldn’t have construed the fosy. And she was the most sagacious girl I ever experienced! As you shall hear.
I was her lover, and she was mine. We loved ourselves to detraction. Maud lived a mile from any other house—except one brick barn. Not even a watch-dog about the place—except her father. This pompous old weakling hated me boisterously; he said I was dedicated to hard drink, and when in that condition was perfectly incompatible. I did not like him, too.
One evening I called on Maud, and was surprised to meet her at the gate, with a shawl drawn over her head, and apparently in great combustion. She told me, hastily, the old man was ill of a fever, and had nearly derided her by going crazy.
This was all a lie; something had gone wrong with the old party’s eyes—amanuensis of the equinox, or something; he couldn’t see well, but he was no more crazy than I was sober.