He found the path that led to the house. As he neared the steps a huge dog arose from a reclining posture and faced him, not in an ugly mood, but with an expression that seemed to-say, “An introduction will be necessary before you come any farther.” The dog seemed to understand that it was his duty to bring about the necessary introduction, so he gave a series of loud barks. The door was quickly opened and Uncle Ike stood in the doorway.
“Do I address Mr. Isaac Pettengill?” asked Quincy.
Uncle Ike replied, “That’s what they write on my letters.”
Quincy continued, “My name is Quincy Adams Sawyer. I am the only son of the Hon. Nathaniel Sawyer of Boston, and I bear a letter of introduction from him to you.”
Quincy took the letter from his pocket and held it in his hand. The dog made a quick movement forward and before Quincy could divine his object, he took the letter in his mouth and took it to Uncle Ike, and, returning, faced Quincy again.
Uncle Ike read the letter slowly and carefully; then he turned to Quincy and said, “If you will talk about birds, fish, dogs, and chickens, you are welcome, and I shall be glad to see you now or any time. If you talk about lawsuits or religion I shall be sorry that you came. I am sick of lawyers and ministers. If you insist upon talking on such subjects I’ll tell Swiss, and the next time you come he won’t even bark to let me know you’re here.”
Quincy took in the situation, and smiling said, “I am tired of lawyers and lawsuits myself; that is the reason I came down here for a change. The subjects you mention will satisfy me, if you will allow me to put in a few words about rowing, running, boxing, and football.”
Uncle Ike replied, “The physically perfect man I admire, the intellectually perfect man is usually a big bore; I prefer the company of my chickens.” Turning to Swiss he said with a marked change in his voice, “This is a friend of mine, Swiss.” Turning to Quincy he said, “He will admit you until I give him directions to the contrary.”
The dog walked quietly to one side and Quincy advanced with outstretched hand toward Uncle Ike.
Uncle Ike did not extend his. He said, “I never shake hands, young man. It is a hollow social custom. With Damon and Pythias it meant something. One was ready to die for the other, and that hand-clasp meant friendship until death. How many hand shakings mean that nowadays? Besides,” with a queer smile, “I have just been cutting up a broiler that I intend to cook for my dinner. Come in, you are welcome on the conditions I have mentioned.”
Quincy obeyed and stepped into the kitchen of Sleepy Hollow. He owned to himself in after years that that was the most important step he had taken in life—the turning-point in his career.
Some new ideas.