“S’posin’ I was to do that about everythin’: then when Judge Prency, who’s a square man an’ a good deal smarter than I be, talks politics to me, I ought to be a Republican instead of a Jackson Democrat.”
“No,” said the deacon, sharply, for he was a Jackson Democrat himself. “I’ll have to talk more to you about this, Samuel. Good night.”
“Good night, deacon.”
“He knows more’n you do about religion,” said Mrs. Kimper, who had followed closely behind, and who rejoined her husband as soon as the deacon departed.
“He ought to, seein’ his head-piece an’ chances; an’ yet I’ve heerd some pooty hard things said about him.”
When the couple reached home, Sam looked at the long heap of straw and rags on which his children should have been sleeping, but which was without occupant except the baby. Then, by the light of the coals still remaining in the fire-place, he looked through some leaves of the little book which the prison visitor had given him. When he arose from the floor, he said to himself,—
“I’ll stick to Him yet, deacon or no deacon,—stick to Him as if He was Andrew Jackson.”
Sam Kimper spent several days in looking about his native town for work. He found many sympathetic assurances, some promises, and no work at all. Everybody explained to everybody else that they were sorry for the poor wretch, but they couldn’t afford to have a jail-bird around.
Meanwhile, Sam’s stock of money, accumulated by overwork in the State prison, and augmented by Judge Prency’s present, was running low. He kept his family expenses as low as possible, buying only the plainest of food-material and hesitating long to break a bill, though it were only of the denomination of one dollar. Nevertheless the little wad of paper money in his pocket grew noticeably thinner to his touch.
His efforts to save the little he had in his possession were not assisted by his family. His wife, thanks and perhaps blame to the wifely sense of dependence upon her husband, had fallen back upon him entirely after what he had said about his intention as to the future of the family, and she not only accepted his assurances as bearing upon the material requirements of several mouths from day to day, but she also built some air-castles which he was under the unpleasant necessity of knocking down. The poor woman was not to blame. She never had seen a ten-dollar bill since the day of her marriage, when, in a spasm of drunken enthusiasm, her husband gave a ten-dollar Treasury note to the clergyman who officiated on that joyous occasion.
One evening Sam took his small change from his pocket to give his son Tom money enough to buy a half-bushel of corn-meal in the village. As he held a few pieces of silver in one hand, touching them rapidly with the forefinger of the other, his son Tom exclaimed,—