After the debate a young lady read a literary paper full of clumsy wit, rude chronicles of the countryside, essays on ‘Spring’, and like topics -the work of the best talent of Faraway. Then came the decision, after which the meeting adjourned.
At the door some other boys tried ‘to cut me out’. I came through the noisy crowd, however, with Hope on my arm and my heart full of a great happiness.
‘Did you like it?’ she asked.
‘Very much,’ I answered.
‘What did you enjoy most?’
‘Your company,’ I said, with a fine air of gallantry.
‘Honestly. I want to take you to Rickard’s sometime?’
That was indeed a long cherished hope.
‘Maybe I won’t let you,’ she said.
‘You’d better ask me sometime and see.’
‘I shall. I wouldn’t ask any other girl.’
‘Well,’ she added, with a sigh, ’if a boy likes one girl I don’t think he ought to have anything to do with other girls. I hate a flirt.’
I happened to hear a footfall in the snow behind us, and looking back saw Ann Jane Foster going slow in easy hearing. She knew all, as we soon found out.
‘I dew jes love t’ see young folks enjoy themselves,’ said she, ’it’s entrancin".’
Coming in at our gate I saw a man going over the wall back of the big stables. The house was dark.
‘Did you see the night man?’ Elizabeth Brower whispered as I lit the lamp. ’Went through the garden just now. I’ve been watching him here at the window.’
The love of labour was counted a great virtue there in Faraway. As for myself I could never put my heart in a hoe handle or in any like tool of toil. They made a blister upon my spirit as well as upon my hands. I tried to find in the sweat of my brow that exalted pleasure of which Mr Greeley had visions in his comfortable retreat on Printing House Square. But unfortunately I had not his point of view.
Hanging in my library, where I may see it as I write, is the old sickle of Uncle Eb. The hard hickory of its handle is worn thin by the grip of his hand. It becomes a melancholy symbol when I remember how also the hickory had worn him thin and bent him low, and how infinitely better than all the harvesting of the sickle was the strength of that man, diminishing as it wore the wood. I cannot help smiling when I look at the sickle and thank of the soft hands and tender amplitude of Mr Greeley.
The great editor had been a playmate of David Brower when they were boys, and his paper was read with much reverence in our home.
‘How quick ye can plough a ten-acre lot with a pen,’ Uncle Eb used to say when we had gone up to bed after father had been reading aloud from his Tribune.
Such was the power of the press in that country one had but to say of any doubtful thing, ‘Seen it in print,’ to stop all argument. If there were any further doubt he had only to say that he had read it either in the Tribune or the Bible, and couldn’t remember which. Then it was a mere question of veracity in the speaker. Books and other reading were carefully put away for an improbable time of leisure.