[Footnote 2: I may, however, properly quote from the sketch prepared by Mr. Gary for the Century Club: “He brought to his later work the discipline of long and rather tedious labor, with the capital amassed by acute observation, on which his original imagination wrought the sparkling miracles that we know. He has been called the representative American humorist. He was that in the sense that the characters he created had much of the audacity of the American spirit, the thirst for adventures in untried fields of thought and action, the subconscious seriousness in the most incongruous situations, the feeling of being at home no matter what happens. But how amazingly he mingled a broad philosophy with his fun, a philosophy not less wise and comprehending than his fun was compelling! If his humor was American, it was also cosmopolitan, and had its laughing way not merely with our British kinsmen, but with alien peoples across the usually impenetrable barrier of translation. The fortune of his jesting lay not in his ears, but in the hearts of his hearers. It was at once appealing and revealing. It flashed its playful light into the nooks and corners of our own being, and wove close bonds with those at whom we laughed. There was no bitterness in it. He was neither satirist nor preacher, nor of set purpose a teacher, though it must be a dull reader that does not gather from his books the lesson of the value of a gentle heart and a clear, level outlook upon our perplexing world.”]
MARIAN E. STOCKTON.
Claymont, May 15, 1903.
THE CAPTAIN’S TOLL-GATE
A long, wide, and smoothly macadamized road stretched itself from the considerable town of Glenford onward and northward toward a gap in the distant mountains. It did not run through a level country, but rose and fell as if it had been a line of seaweed upon the long swells of the ocean. Upon elevated points upon this road, farm lands and forests could be seen extending in every direction. But there was nothing in the landscape which impressed itself more obtrusively upon the attention of the traveler than the road itself. White in the bright sunlight and gray under the shadows of the clouds, it was the one thing to be seen which seemed to have a decided purpose. Northward or southward, toward the gap in the long line of mountains or toward the wood-encircled town in the valley, it was always going somewhere.
About two miles from the town, and at the top of the first long hill which was climbed by the road, a tall white pole projected upward against the sky, sometimes perpendicularly, and sometimes inclined at a slight angle. This was a turnpike gate or bar, and gave notice to all in vehicles or on horses that the use of this well-kept road was not free to the traveling public. At the approach of persons not known, or too well known, the bar would slowly descend across the road, as if it were a musket held horizontally while a sentinel demanded the password.