She bade me good night and left the room. Doubtless it was the outraged, departed spirit of that golden time which was haunting the old squire. A Bible lay on the table near me and I sat reading it for an hour or so. A tall clock in a corner solemnly tolled the hour of nine. In came the tall woman and asked in the brogue of the Irish:
“Would ye like to go to bed?”
“Yes, I am tired.”
She took a candle and led me up a broad oaken stairway and into a room of the most generous proportions. A big four-post bedstead, draped in white, stood against a wall. The bed, sheeted in old linen, had quilted covers. The room was noticeably clean; its furniture of old mahogany and its carpet comparatively unworn.
When I was undressed I dreaded to put out the candle. For the first time in years I had a kind of child-fear of the night. But I went to bed at last and slept rather fitfully, waking often when the cries of the old squire came flooding through the walls. How I longed for the light of morning! It came at last and I rose and dressed and seeing the hired man in the yard, went out-of-doors. He was a good-natured Irishman.
“I’m glad o’ the sight o’ ye this fine mornin’,” said he. “It’s a pleasure to see any one that has all their senses—sure it is.”
I went with him to the stable yard where he did his milking and talked of his long service with the squire.
“We was glad when he wrote for Kate to come,” he said. “But, sure, I don’t think it’s done him any good. He’s gone wild since she got here. He was always fond o’ his family spite o’ all they say. Did ye see the second table in the dinin’-room? Sure, that’s stood there ever since his first wife et her last meal on it, just as it was then, sor—the same cloth, the same dishes, the same sugar in the bowl, the same pickles in the jar. He was like one o’ them big rocks in the field there—ye couldn’t move him when he put his foot down.”
Kate met me at the door when I went back into the house and kissed my cheek and again I heard those half-spoken words, “My boy.” I ate my breakfast with her and when I was about to get into my saddle at the door I gave her a hug and, as she tenderly patted my cheek, a smile lighted her countenance so that it seemed to shine upon me. I have never forgotten its serenity and sweetness.
I START IN A LONG WAY
I journeyed to Canton in the midst of the haying season. After the long stretches of forest road we hurried along between fragrant fields of drying hay. At each tavern we first entered the barroom where the landlord—always a well-dressed man of much dignity and filled with the news of the time, that being a part of his entertainment—received us with cheerful words. His housekeeper was there and assigned our quarters for the night. Our evenings were spent playing cards or backgammon or listening to the chatter of our host by the fireside. At our last stop on the road I opened my trunk and put on my best suit of clothes.