The hungry look in his eyes deepened, and no one bandied jests with him as was the custom in days gone by.
* * * * *
There were not many tramps practising in that section of the State. Anderson Crow proudly announced that they gave Tinkletown a wide berth because of his prowess; but the vagabond gentry took an entirely different view of the question. They did not infest the upper part of the State for the simple but eloquent reason that it meant starvation to them. The farmers compelled the weary wayfarer to work all day like a borrowed horse for a single meal at the “second table.” There was no such thing as a “hand-out,” as it is known in the tramp’s vocabulary. It is not extraordinary, therefore, that tramps found the community so unattractive that they cheerfully walked miles to avoid it. A peculiarly well-informed vagrant once characterised the up-state farmer as being so “close that he never shaved because it was a waste of hair.”
It is hardly necessary to state, in view of the attitude of both farmer and tramp, that the misguided vagrant who wandered that way was the object of distinct, if not distinguished, curiosity. In the country roads he was stared at with a malevolence that chilled his appetite, no matter how long he had been cultivating it on barren soil. In the streets of Tinkletown, and even at the county seat, he was an object of such amazing concern that he slunk away in pure distress. It was indeed an unsophisticated tramp who thought to thrive in Bramble County even for a day and a night. In front of the general store and post-office at Tinkletown there was a sign-post, on which Anderson Crow had painted these words:
“No tramps or Live Stock
Allowed on these Streets.
By order of
A. CROW, Marshal.”
The live stock disregarded the command, but the tramp took warning. On rare occasions he may have gone through some of the houses in Tinkletown, but if he went through the streets no one was the wiser. Anderson Crow solemnly but studiously headed him off in the outskirts, and he took another direction. Twice in his career he drove out tramps who had burglarised the houses of prominent citizens in broad daylight, but what did it matter so long as the “hoboes” were kept from desecrating the main street of the town? Mr. Crow’s official star, together with his badge from the New York detective agency, his Sons of the Revolution pin, and his G.A.R. insignia, made him a person to be feared. If the weather became too hot for coat and vest the proud dignitary fastened the badges to his suspenders, and their presence glorified the otherwise humble “galluses.”
On the fourth day after the abduction Marshal Crow was suddenly aroused from his lethargy by the news that the peace and security of the neighbourhood was being imposed upon.
“The dickens you say!” he observed, abandoning the perpetual grip upon his straggling chin whiskers.