“Can’t afford to?” sez I dreamily.
“No; We can’t afford to,” sez he, “and keep Our present popularity. Now, there’s every chance, so fur as I can see, for me to be elected Path-Master, and the high position of Salesman of the Jonesville Cheese Factory has been as good as offered to me agin this year. It is because We are popular,” sez he, “that I have these positions of trust and honor held out to me. We have wrote books that have took, Samantha. Now, what would be the result if We should slight Columbus and turn Our backs onto America in this crisis of her history? It would be simply ruinous to Our reputation and my official aspirations. Everybody would be mad, and kick, from the President down. More’n as likely as not I should never hold another office in Jonesville. Cheese would be sold right over my head by I know not who. I should be ordered out to work on the road like a dog by Ury jest as like as not. I’ve been a-settin’ here and turnin’ it over in my mind; and though, as you say, I hain’t always favored the idee of writin’, still at the present time I believe We’d better write the book. There’s ink in the house, hain’t there?” sez he anxiously.
“Yes,” sez I.
“And paper?” sez he.
Agin I sez, “Yes.”
“Wall, then, when there’s ink and paper, what’s to hender Our writin’ it?”
“Our!” “We!” Agin them words entered my soul like lead arrows and gaulded me, but agin I looked up, and the clear light of affection that shone from my pardner’s eyes melted them arrows, and I suffered and wuz calm. But anon I sez—
“Don’t great emotions rise up in your soul, Josiah Allen, when you think of Columbus and the World’s work? Don’t the mighty waves of the past and the future dash up aginst your heart when you think of Christopher, and what he found, and what is behind this nation, and what is in front of it, a-bagonin’ it onwards?”
“No,” sez he calmly; “I look at it with the eye of a business man, and with that eye,” sez he, “I say less write the book.”
He ceased his remarks, and agin silence rained in the room.
But to me the silence wuz filled with voices that he couldn’t hear—deep, prophetic voices that shook my soul. Eyes whose light the dust fell on four hundred years ago shone agin on me in that quiet room in Jonesville, and hanted me. Heroic hands that wuz clay centuries ago bagoned to me to foller ’em where they led me. And so on down through the centuries the viewless hosts passed before me and gin me the silent countersign to let me pass into their ranks and jine the army. And then, away out into the future, the Shadow Host defiled—fur off, fur off—into the age of Freedom, and Justice, and Perfect rights for man and woman, Love, Joy, Peace.
Josiah didn’t see none of these performances.
No; two pardners may set side by side, and yet worlds
lay between ’em.
He wuz agin immersed in his ambitious reveries.