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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 300 pages of information about The Landloper.

IV

FARR, THE FAT TRAMP, AND A SUIT OF CLOTHES

On a balmy forenoon a jovial-appearing old gentleman went jogging out of the mill city of Marion and along a country road in his two-wheeled chaise.  He sat erect and he was tall above the average of men, and he was very neat in his attire.

“I wish,” he mused, “that the men who could really appreciate a good outfit of clothing and could use the same properly were not so infernally touchy.  As it is, cranky human nature drives me out on an expedition like this—­and I’m afraid I am just as cranky as the rest of ’em, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this!”

The old gentleman hummed a song under his breath and slapped his reins against the flanks of the plodding horse to keep time.  He came into a piece of woodland.  He seemed to take cheery and fresh interest in this place.  He poked his rubicund face out from the shadow of the chaise’s canopy and peered to right and to left.  There was a smile in his puckery eyes.  When there were trees ahead of him, trees behind him, and trees all about he pulled his old horse to a standstill.

He listened, squinted quizzically through the glass of his chaise’s rear curtain, and then climbed down.  From a box at the rear of the vehicle he secured various articles of clothing and draped them over his arm.  There was a frock-coat, not too badly worn, trousers in good repair, waistcoat, and a shirt.  He also took out of the box a pair of shoes and a hat.  With this load he went to the roadside and began to rig out a fence-post.  When the garments were hung on it and the broad-brimmed, black, slouch-hat had been jauntily set on top of the post, anybody could see that the old gentleman was thus disposing of some of his own extra clothing.  He was wearing a similar hat and a frock-coat, himself, and the decorated post took on a bizarre and slouchy resemblance to its decorator.

He went back to the chaise and found a nickel alarm-clock in the box.  He wound this up carefully and propped it on a rail of the fence near the clothing.

Before he could escape from the vicinity of the exhibit and get into his chaise a wagon came rattling around the bend of the road.  There were firkins and jars in the rear of this wagon and the driver was plainly a farmer-man.

He pulled up short and then saluted the old gentleman with a stab of forefinger at his hat-brim.

“Any trouble, Judge?” he inquired, affably.

“None at all,” replied the old gentleman, edging away from the fully garbed fence-post.

“Airing ’em out, hey?” A jab of the forefinger toward the garments.

“No, leaving them out.”

All at once the old gentleman appeared to remember something else.  He took off his hat and produced a placard.  He straightened it and stuck it into a crack in a fence-rail.  Its legend was “Help Yourself.”

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