He sat kneeling beside me, holding Fred by the collar and listening. I could hear voices, the rustle of the corn and the tramp of feet near by. It was thundering in the distance — that heavy, shaking thunder that seems to take hold of the earth, and there were sounds in the corn like the drawing of sabers and the rush of many feet. The noisy thunder clouds came nearer and the voices that had made us tremble were no longer heard. Uncle Eb began to fasten the oil blanket to the stalks of corn for a shelter. The rain came roaring over us. The sound of it was like that of a host of cavalry coming at a gallop. We lay bracing the stalks, the blanket tied above us and were quite dry for a time. The rain rattled in the sounding sheaves and then came flooding down the steep gutters. Above us beam and rafter creaked, swaying, and showing glimpses of the dark sky. The rain passed — we could hear the last battalion leaving the field — and then the tumult ended as suddenly as it began. The corn trembled a few moments and hushed to a faint whisper. Then we could hear only the drip of raindrops leaking through the green roof. It was dark under the corn.
We heard no more of the voices. Uncle Eb had brought an armful of wood, and some water in the teapot, while I was sleeping. As soon as the rain had passed he stood listening awhile and shortly opened his knife and made a little clearing in the corn by cutting a few hills.
‘We’ve got to do it,’ he said, ‘er we can’t take any comfort, an’ the man tol’ me I could have all the corn I wanted.’
‘Did you see him, Uncle Eb?’ I remember asking.
‘Yes,’ he answered, whittling in the dark. ’I saw him when I went out for the water an’ it was he tol’ me they were after us.’
He took a look at the sky after a while, and, remarking that he guessed they couldn’t see his smoke now, began to kindle the fire. As it burned up he stuck two crotches and hung his teapot on a stick’ that lay in them, so it took the heat of the flame, as I had seen him do in the morning. Our grotto, in the corn, was shortly as cheerful as any room in a palace, and our fire sent its light into the long aisles that opened opposite, and nobody could see the warm glow of it but ourselves.
‘We’ll hev our supper,’ said Uncle Eb, as he opened a paper and spread out the eggs and bread and butter and crackers. ’We’ll jest hev our supper an’ by ’n by when everyone’s abed we’ll make tracks in the dirt, I can tell ye.’
Our supper over, Uncle Eb let me look at his tobacco-box — a shiny thing of German silver that always seemed to snap out a quick farewell to me before it dove into his pocket. He was very cheerful and communicative, and joked a good deal as we lay there waiting in the firelight. I got some further acquaintance with the swift, learning among other things that it had no appetite for the pure in heart.