Jerome passed along, seeing and comprehending all the sweet pageant of the spring morning, yet as an observer merely. Nature had as yet not established her fullest relationship to himself, and he knew not that her secret glory of meaning was like his own.
John Upham’s farm, or rather what had been John Upham’s farm (Doctor Prescott owned it now), began at the end of a long stretch of woods, with some fine fields sloping greenly towards the west. Farther on, behind a row of feathery elm-trees, stood the old Upham homestead.
John Upham did not live there now; his mortgage had been foreclosed nearly a year before, about the time the last baby was born. People said that the mother had been cruelly hurried out of her own house into the little shanty, which her husband was forced to rent for a shelter. Poor John Upham had lost all his ancestral acres to Doctor Prescott now, and did not fairly know himself how it had happened. There had been heavy bills for medicines and attendance, and the doctor had loaned him money oftentimes, with his land as security, for other debts. A little innocent saying of one of his six children to another was much repeated to the village, “Father bought you of Doctor Prescott, and paid for you with all the clover-field he had left, and you must be very good, for you came very dear.”
It was known positively that John Upham had gone to Doctor Prescott’s the day after he had left his old home, and told him to his face what he thought of him. “You have planned and manoeuvred to get all my property into your hands from the very first of it,” said John Upham. “You’ve drained me dry, an’ now I hope you’re satisfied.”
“You had full value in return,” replied the doctor, calmly.
“I haven’t had time. In nine cases out of ten, if you had given me a little time, I could have got myself out, and you know it. You’ve screwed me down to the very second.”
“I cannot afford to give my debtors longer time than that regulated by the laws of the commonwealth.”