‘Three cheers for Uncle Eb!’ I demanded.
And we gave them.
‘I declare!’ said he. ’In all my born days never see sech fun. It’s tree-menjious! I tell ye. Them ’et takes care uv others’ll be took care uv — ‘less they do it o’purpose.’
And when the rest of us had gone to bed Uncle Eb sat awhile by the fire with David. Late at night he came upstairs with his candle. He came over to my bed on tiptoe to see if I were awake, holding the candle above my head. I was worn out and did not open my eyes. He sat down snickering.
‘Tell ye one thing, Dave Brower,’ he whispered to himself as he drew off his boots, ’when some folks calls ye a fool ’s a purty good sign ye ain’t.’
Since that day I have seen much coming and going.
We are now the old folks — Margaret and Nehemiah and Hope and I. Those others, with their rugged strength, their simple ways, their undying youth, are of the past. The young folks — they are a new kind of people. It gives us comfort to think they will never have to sing in choirs or ‘pound the rock’ for board money; but I know it is the worse luck for them. They are a fine lot of young men and women — comely and well-mannered — but they will not be the pathfinders of the future. What with balls and dinners and clubs and theatres, they find too great a solace in the rear rank.
Nearly twenty years after that memorable Christmas, coming from Buffalo to New York one summer morning, my thoughts went astray in the north country. The familiar faces, the old scenes came trooping by and that very day I saw the sun set in Hillsborough as I had often those late years.
Mother was living in the old home, alone, with a daughter of Grandma Bisnette. It was her wish to live and die under that roof. She cooked me a fine supper, with her own hands, and a great anxiety to please me.
‘Come Willie!’ said she, as if I were a small boy again, ’you fill the woodbox an’ I’ll git supper ready. Lucindy, you clear out,’ she said to the hired girl, good-naturedly. ‘You dunno how t’cook for him.’
I filled the woodbox and brought a pail of water and while she was frying the ham and eggs read to her part of a speech I had made in Congress. Before thousands I had never felt more elation. At last I was sure of winning her applause. The little bent figure stood, thoughtfully, turning the ham and eggs. She put the spider aside, to stand near me, her hands upon her hips. There was a mighty pride in her face when I had finished.
I rose and she went and looked out of the window.
‘Grand!’ she murmured, wiping her eyes with the corner of her handkerchief.
‘Glad you like it,’ I said, with great satisfaction.
‘O, the speech!’ she answered, her elbow resting on the window sash, her hand supporting her head. ’I liked it very well — but — but I was thinking of the sunset. How beautiful it is.