After dinner I telephoned the veterinary surgeon that I wanted another team. He replied that he thought he knew of one that would suit, and that he would let me know the next day. I also telephoned two “want ads.” to a morning paper, one for an experienced farm-hand, the other for a woman to do general housework in the country. Polly was to interview the women who applied, and I was to look after the men. That night I slept like a hired man.
Out of the dozen who applied the next day I accepted a Swede by the name of Anderson. He was about thirty, tall, thin, and nervous. He did not fit my idea of a stockman, but he looked like a worker, and as I could furnish the work we soon came to terms.
A few words more about Anderson. He proved a worker indeed. He had an insatiable appetite for work, and never knew when to quit. He was not popular at the farm, for he was too eager in the morning to start and too loath in the evening to stop. His unbridled passion for work was a thing to be deplored, as it kept him thin and nervous. I tried to moderate this propensity, but with no result. Anderson could not be trusted with horses, or, indeed, with animals of any kind, for he made them as nervous as himself; but in all other kinds of work he was the best man ever at Four Oaks. He worked for me nearly three years, and then suddenly gave out from a pain in his left chest and shortness of breath. I called a physician for poor Anderson, and the diagnosis was dilatation of the heart from over-exercise.
“A rare disease among farm-hands, Dr. Williams,” said Dr. High, but my conscience did not fully forgive me. I asked Anderson to stay at the farm and see what could be done by rest and care. He declined this, as well as my offer to send him to a hospital. He expressed the liveliest gratitude for kindnesses received and others offered, but he said he must be independent and free. He had nearly $1200 in a savings bank in the city, and he proposed to use it, or such portion of it as was necessary. I saw him two months later. He was better, but not able to work. Hearing nothing from him for three years, a year ago I called at the bank where I knew he had kept his savings. They had sent sums of money to him, once to Rio Janeiro and once to Cape Town. For two years he had not been heard from. Whether he is living or dead I do not know. I only know that a valuable man and a unique farm-hand has disappeared. I never think of Anderson without wishing I had been more severe with him,—more persistent in my efforts to wean him from his real passion. Peace to his ashes, if he be ashes.