Uncle William: the man who was shif'less eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 164 pages of information about Uncle William.

Andy grinned a sickly good-by.  “Good-by, Willum; I’ll do as well as I can by her.”  He turned away with a sudden sense of loss.  The island seemed very empty.  Juno did not like Andy, and he was needed at home.  The mental effort of thinking up a menu three times a day that did not include fish and potato for a magnificent creature like Juno weighed heavily on him.  He had proposed bringing her down to the house, thinking to shift the burden on to Harriet, but Uncle William had refused sternly.  “She wouldn’t be comfortable, Andy.  The’ ’s a good deal of soap and water down to your house and she wouldn’t like it.  You can run up two or three times, easy, to see she’s all right.  Mebbe you’ll get fond of her.”

Andrew had no rosy hopes of fondness, but as he turned away from the wharf, there seemed no place on the island that would hold him so comfortably as the little house on the cliff.  He climbed the rocky path to it and opened the door.  Juno sprang down from her lounge.  When she saw who it was she gave an indifferent lick to her front leg, as if she always jumped down to lick her leg.  Then she jumped back on the lounge and tuned her back to the room, looking out of the window and blinking from time to time.  The smoke of the steamer was dwindling in the distance.

Andy sat down in a vacant chair by the stove, staring at nothing.  The sun poured in.  It filled the room with warmth.  Andy’s eyes rested on it vacantly.  The stillness was warm and big.  It seemed a kind of presence.  Andy drew his hand across his eyes and got up.  He went over and stood by the lounge, peering out.  The smoke was gone.  Juno turned her head and blinked an eye or two, indifferent.  She ignored him pointedly.  Her gaze returned to the sea.  Andy had half put out his hand to stroke her.  He drew it back.  He had a sudden bitter desire to swear or kick something.  He went out hastily, closing the door behind him.  Juno, with her immovable gaze, stared out to sea.


Uncle William sniffed the air of the docks with keen relish.  The spring warmth had brought out the smells of lower New York teemingly.  There was a dash of salt air and tar, and a dim odor of floating—­of decayed vegetables and engine-grease and dirt.  It was the universal port-smell the world over, and Uncle William took it in in leisurely whiffs as he watched the play of life in the dockshed—­the backing of horses and the shouting of the men, the hollow sound of hoofs on the worn planks and the trundling hither and thither of boxes and barrels and bales.

He was in no hurry to leave the dock.  It was a part of the journey—­the sense of leisure.  Men who travel habitually by sea do not rush from the vessel that has brought them to port, gripsack in hand.  There are innumerable details—­duties, inspections and quarantines, and delays and questionings.  The sea gives up her cargo slowly.  The customs move with the swift leisure of those who live daily between Life and the Deep Sea—­without hurry and without rest.

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Uncle William: the man who was shif'less from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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