‘Thet’s it,’ said he. ’Ev’ry one hes about ten treasures. Some hev more — some less. Say one’s his strength, one’s his plan, the rest is them he loves, an’ the more he loves the better ’tis fer him. Wall, they begin t’ go one by one. Some die, some turn agin’ him. Fin’s it hard t’ keep his allowance. When he’s only nine he’s lost eggzac’ly one-tenth uv his dread o’ dyin’. Bime bye he counts up — one-two-three-four-five-an’ thet’s all ther is left. He figgers it up careful. His strength is gone, his plan’s a fillure, mebbe, an’ this one’s dead an’ thet one’s dead, an’ t’other one better be. Then ’s ’bout half-ways with him. If he lives till the ten treasures is all gone, God gives him one more — thet’s death. An’ he can swop thet off an’ git back all he’s lost. Then he begins t’ think it’s a purty dum good thing, after all. Purty good thing, after all,’ he repeated, gaping as he spoke.
He began nodding shortly, and soon he went asleep in his chair.
We went back to our work again shortly, the sweetness and the bitterness of life fresh in our remembrance. When we came back, ‘hook an’ line’, for another vacation, the fields were aglow with colour, and the roads where Dr Bigsby had felt the sting of death that winter day were now over drifted with meadow-music and the smell of clover. I had creditably taken examination for college, where I was to begin my course in the fall, with a scholarship. Hope had made remarkable progress in music and was soon going to Ogdensburg for instruction.
A year had gone, nearly, since Jed Feary had cautioned me about falling in love. I had kept enough of my heart about me ’to do business with’, but I had continued to feel an uncomfortable absence in the region of it. Young men at Hillsborough — many of whom, I felt sure, had a smarter look than I — had bid stubbornly for her favour. I wondered, often, it did not turn her head — this tribute of rustic admiration. But she seemed to be all unconscious of its cause and went about her work with small conceit of herself. Many a time they had tried to take her from my arm at the church door — a good-natured phase of youthful rivalry there in those days - but she had always said, laughingly, ‘No, thank you,’ and clung all the closer to me. Now Jed Feary had no knowledge of the worry it gave me, or of the peril it suggested. I knew that, if I felt free to tell him all, he would give me other counsel. I was now seventeen and she a bit older, and had I not heard of many young men and women who had been engaged — aye, even married — at that age? Well, as it happened, a day before she left us, to go to her work in Ogdensburg, where she was to live with her uncle, I made an end of delay. I considered carefully what a man ought to say in the circumstances, and I thought I had near an accurate notion. We were in the garden — together — the playground of our childhood.