The sum named was that we had paid him for the highly accomplished animal. Dean had the manhood to pay up then and there and said he would send for the other horse, which he never did.
‘Guess he won’t bother us any more when we stop t’ look at the scenery,’ said Uncle Eb, laughing as Dean drove away. ‘Kind o’ resky business buyin’ hosses,’ he added. ‘Got t’ jedge the owner as well as the hoss. If there’s anything the matter with his conscience it’ll come out in the hoss somewhere every time. Never knew a mean man t’ own a good hoss. Remember, boy, ’s a lame soul thet drives a limpin’ hoss.’
‘No use talkin’; Bill ain’ no jedge uv a hoss’ said David Brower. ‘He’ll hev t’ hev an education er he’ll git t’ the poorhouse someday sartin.’
‘Wall he’s a good jedge o’ gals anyway,’ said Uncle Eb.
As for myself I was now hopelessly confirmed in my dislike of farming and I never traded horses again.
Late in August Uncle Eb and I took our Black Hawk stallion to the fair in Hillsborough and showed him for a prize. He was fit for the eye of a king when we had finished grooming him, that morning, and led him out, rearing in play, his eyes flashing from under his broad plume, so that all might have a last look at him. His arched neck and slim barrel glowed like satin as the sunlight fell upon him. His black mane flew, he shook the ground with his hoofs playing at the halter’s end. He hated a harness and once in it lost half his conceit. But he was vainest of all things in Faraway when we drove off with him that morning.
All roads led to Hillsborough fair time. Up and down the long hills we went on a stiff jog passing lumber wagons with generations enough in them to make a respectable genealogy, the old people in chairs; light wagons that carried young men and their sweethearts, backswoodsmen coming out in ancient vehicles upon reeling, creaking wheels to get food for a year’s reflection — all thickening the haze of the late summer with the dust of the roads. And Hillsborough itself was black with people. The shouts of excited men, the neighing of horses, the bellowing of cattle, the wailing of infants, the howling of vendors, the pressing crowd, had begun to sow the seed of misery in the minds of those accustomed only to the peaceful quietude of the farm. The staring eye, the palpitating heart, the aching head, were successive stages in the doom of many. The fair had its floral hall carpeted with sawdust and redolent of cedar, its dairy house, its mechanics’ hall sacred to farming implements, its long sheds full of sheep and cattle, its dining-hall, its temporary booths of rough lumber, its half-mile track and grandstand. Here voices of beast and vendor mingled in a chorus of cupidity and distress. In Floral Hall Sol Rollin was on exhibition. He gave me a cold nod, his lips set for a tune as yet inaudible. He was surveying sundry examples of rustic art that hung on the circular railing of the gallery and trying to preserve a calm breast. He was looking at Susan Baker’s painted cow that hung near us.