Eben Holden, a tale of the north country eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 273 pages of information about Eben Holden, a tale of the north country.

‘Why not?’ I enquired.

‘Well,’ said Uncle Eb, ’it’s like this:  the meaner the boy, the sweeter the meat.’

He sang an old song as he sat by the fire, with a whistled interlude between lines, and the swing of it, even now, carries me back to that far day in the fields.  I lay with my head in his lap while he was singing.

Years after, when I could have carried him on my back’ he wrote down for me the words of the old song.  Here they are, about as he sang them, although there are evidences of repair, in certain lines, to supply the loss of phrases that had dropped out of his memory: 

  I was goin’ to Salem one bright summer day,
  I met a young maiden a goin’ my way;
  O, my fallow, faddeling fallow, faddel away.

  An’ many a time I had seen her before,
  But I never dare tell ’er the love thet I bore. 
  O, my fallow, etc.

  ‘Oh, where are you goin’ my purty fair maid?’
  ‘O, sir, I am goin’ t’ Salem,’ she said. 
  O, my fallow, etc.

  ‘O, why are ye goin’ so far in a day? 
  Fer warm is the weather and long is the way.’ 
  O, my fallow, etc.

  ’O, sir I’ve forgorten, I hev, I declare,
  But it’s nothin’ to eat an’ its nothin’ to wear.’ 
  O, my fallow, etc.

  ’Oho! then I hev it, ye purty young miss! 
  I’ll bet it is only three words an’ a kiss.’ 
  O, my fallow, etc.

  ’Young woman, young woman, O how will it dew
  If I go see yer lover ’n bring ’em t’ you?’
  O, my fallow, etc.

  ‘’S a very long journey,’ says she, ’I am told,
  An’ before ye got back, they would surely be cold.’ 
  O, my fallow, etc.

  ’I hev ’em right with me, I vum an’ I vow,
  An’ if you don’t object I’ll deliver ’em now.’ 
  O, my fallow, etc.

  She laid her fair head all on to my breast,
  An’ ye wouldn’t know more if I tol’ ye the rest
  O, my fallow, etc.

I went asleep after awhile in spite of all, right in the middle of a story.  The droning voice of Uncle Eb and the feel of his hand upon my forehead called me back, blinking, once or twice, but not for long.  The fire was gone down to a few embers when Uncle Eb woke me and the grotto was lit only by a sprinkle of moonlight from above.

‘Mos’ twelve o’clock,’ he whispered.  ‘Better be off.’

The basket was on his back and he was all ready.  I followed him through the long aisle of corn, clinging to the tall of his coat.  The golden lantern of the moon hung near the zenith and when we came out in the open we could see into the far fields.  I climbed into my basket at the wall and as Uncle Eb carried me over the brook, stopping on a flat rock midway to take a drink, I could see the sky in the water, and it seemed as if a misstep would have tumbled me into the moon.

‘Hear the crickets holler,’ said Uncle Eb, as he followed the bank up into the open pasture.

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Eben Holden, a tale of the north country from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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