H Town Beggin' After Dark 1994 Zip Zip
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Brady and Flint had been college friends in the old days, at Harvard,and after that for years had drifted apart. Flint betaking himself toa German university, and Brady to a business career in Bison, aflourishing town of the great Northwest, wherein he too had flourishedmightily, and whence he sent imploring messages to Flint, begging himnot to waste his life in the effete civilization of New York, but tocome out and get a view of real folks in the fresh new world of theWest.
Brady's trunk was strapped onto the carryall, the various bottles,jugs, and packages which Flint, with such unusual urbanity, hadconsented to bring down to the Beach for Marsden, were stowed awayunder the seat, and nothing remained but the mail. To get this Flintdrew up at the post-office. The postmaster was a grouty oldstore-keeper who, through political influence, retained his positionin spite of the efforts of the town's-folk to oust him. This afternoona line of wagons stood at the door, and a line of men stood at thelittle window within. Seeing his own name in the list of those forwhom there were letters, Flint waited for the window to open, and tookhis place in the line.[Pg 47]When he reached the window, he asked for his letter.
The lazy warmth of a May afternoon, the spring following Orn Skinner'srelease from Auburn Prison, was reflected in the attitudes of three menlounging on the shore in front of "Satisfied" Longman's shack. At theirfeet, the waters of Cayuga Lake dimpled under the rays of the westernsun. Like a strip of burnished silver, the inlet wound its way throughthe swamp from the elevators and railroad stations near the foot ofsouth hill. Across the lake rose the precipitous slopes of East Hill,tapestried in green, etched here and there by stretches of winding whiteroad, and crowned by the buildings on the campus of Cornell University.Stretched from the foot of State Street on either side of the LehighValley track lay the Silent City, its northern end spreading severalmiles up the west shore of the Lake. Its inhabitants were canalers,fishermen and hunters, uneducated, rough and superstitious. They builttheir little huts in the simplest manner out of packing boxes and roughlumber and roofed them with pieces of tin and sheet iron. Squatters theywere appropriately named, because they paid no attention to land titles,but stuck their shacks wherever fancy indicated or convenience dictated.The people of the Silent City slept by day and went very quietly abouttheir work under the cover of darkness, for the game laws compelled thefishermen to pull their nets at night, and the farmers' chickens weremore easily caught, his fruit more easily picked when the sun waswarming China.
At ten o'clock in the morning, the day after Andy Bishop was fitted intoTessibel's straw tick, a covered runabout wound its way along the lowerboulevard running to Glenwood. Two men were seated in it, solemn,dark-browed men, with dull eyes and heavy faces. The man holding thereins was heavy set, square shouldered, and more sternly visaged thanhis companion. Some one had said of Howard Burnett, that the Powers, insetting him up, had used steel cables for his muscles and iron for hisbones; and surely there was a grim grip to his jaw that presaged evil tothose opposing him.
For four lingering days, hour after hour, Tess of the Storm Countrywaited for Frederick. He had promised to return, and so each day whenher household duties were completed, she hastened to the ragged rocks atthe edge of the forest. But her eager hope passed into sick apprehensionas the lingering twilights of successive evenings deepened into thedarkness of night and he did not come. Tess grew paler and moredejected, so that even Daddy Skinner's fading sight remarked it.
It was perhaps a week later when young Mrs. Graves felt her first realjealousy. In the happiness of her hasty marriage, she had almostforgotten the story told her by the gossips of Ithaca. It was only whenher husband's eyes were encircled and darkened by a far-away expressionthat Tess entered her mind. But even then, after a glance in the mirror,she dismissed the little singer contemptuously.
Then the door banged shut and she was alone in the kitchen. A littlelater she heard as in a dream the sound of horses' hoofs retreating farup the lane. Then all the powers of darkness closed in about her, andmalicious elfin voices chattered her shame in her ears. Frederick hadrepudiated her and his child and had gone! Tess staggered forward, and afew minutes afterward, when Andy slipped down the ladder, he found hercurled up on the cot insensible, her face shrouded in red curls.
When Deforrest Young came around the corner of the house, Tessibel wasstanding on the lower step of the porch, her hands full of flowers. Tohis adoring eyes, the girl typified the unfolding life of the spring.Strong was she, like the sturdy trees, dainty as the flowers she held inher hands. To his passionate desire as unresponsive as the sullen lakeon dark days, yet grateful for his kindness as the field flowers to thesun after a hard rain. She was a child with a woman's heart, but thewoman's heart closed to him by the secret of Boy's paternity. Hersmiling lips greeted him. She dropped the flowers and two arms stolearound his neck. Young drew her very close. How dear, how very dear, shehad grown in these last studious years!
Through the rest of the afternoon, until the long shadows of AuburnPrison were lost in the gathering gloom, Tessibel sat beside the dyingman. Sometimes, she whispered to him, sometimes, she sang very softly,and, when Deforrest Young and the warden came through the hospital wardto her side, Tessibel had piloted Owen Bennet through the darkness intoa marvelous light.
The men are required to be up long beforedaylight, so that they may eat their breakfastsand walk to the river, perhaps severalmiles distant, arriving there atdaylight to begin the work ofthe day. Refreshments aretaken to them twice duringthe day, at about ten o'clockin the forenoon, and again attwo o'clock in the afternoon.They work until it becomesdark, when they walk backto their camps to procure their[Pg 60]suppers and much-needed rest. The logdrivers are required to keep the logs floatingin the streams. In rainy or cold weather,such as is frequently experienced in thelumbering regions, their work is very arduousand debilitating. It is of the utmost importancethat the work of floatingthe logs out be pushedwhile there is sufficient waterin the streams, many of whichbecome nothing more thancreeks later in the season, whendry weather sets in.
Well, the two of 'em went ashore afterdark with the best wishes o' all on board,an' the rest of us sat down in the fo'c's'lespekerlating as to what sort o' time the matewas goin' to 'ave. He went ashore all right,because Ted Hill see 'im go, an' he noticedwith partikler pleasure as 'ow he was dressedvery careful.
The rain came down harder and harder. The road was full of little running streams, and liquid mud flew from under my whirling wheels. It was not late in the afternoon, but it was actually getting dark, and I seemed to be the only living creature out in this tremendous storm. I looked from side to side for some place into which I could run for shelter, but here the road ran between broad open fields. My coat had ceased to protect me, and I could feel the water upon my skin.
This house was the abode of intelligence, cultivated taste, and opulence. It was probably the finest mansion of the town. In every room there were things to see, and after supper we looked at them, and, as I wandered from pictures to vases and carved ivory, the remarks of the two elder ladies and Miss Willoughby seemed like a harmonized chorus accompanying the rest of the performance. Each spoke at the right time, each in her turn said the thing she ought to say. It was a rare exhibition of hospitable enthusiasm, tempered by sympathetic consideration for me and for each other.
I spent the night at the hotel, and after breakfast I very reluctantly went to call upon the Willoughbys. I forced myself to do this, for, considering the cordiality they had shown me, it would have required more incivility than I possessed to pass through the town without paying my respects. But to my great joy none of the ladies was at home. I hastened from the house with a buoyant step, and was soon speeding away, and away, and away.
Thereafter, for some moments, a threatening silence reignedeverywhere. The birds, the insects even, all life seemed to crouch,hushed and expectant. The valley might have been the valley of death,so still, so dark, so threatening was the superheated atmosphere thathung over it.
For three days she did not bathe and undressed in the dark every night.But after that the water called her insistently, and she went back toit, swimming in a deliberately unconscious way, as though she hadpromised someone she would not notice herself any more.
All round, in the brilliant blue waters of the Bay, ships lay as ifasleep; a few little tugs fussed nervously, a few little boats ladenbrilliantly with fruit and vegetables glided along as though they werecontent to reach somewhere quite near by to-morrow or the day after.There was a cloud over the grey town at the foot of Vesuvius; it lookedlike winding sheets about the dead; it reminded Marcella insensibly ofLashnagar as she saw the mist and smoke wraiths mingle grey and white,rising from fissures, creeping along gullies until they formed a wreathat the crest of the volcano through which a thin needle of yellowersmoke was rising straight as a pinnacle through the windless air.
She had been working till after dark, in spite of Mrs. Twist'sremonstrances, to which she answered rudely and impatiently. At last theelder woman thought it less wearing to the girl to leave her alone; sheguessed that she would faint with physical weariness before she had gotover her mental misery. Louis could see the red glow in the sky for thelast two miles of his dazed tramp; it led him homewards, muttering tohimself about a pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud. He looked into thehouse and saw that she was not there. He had not known, till he saw theempty rooms, with her frock hanging over the hammock, her nightgownneatly folded on the shelf, her books and a pannikin half full of coldtea in the kitchen, how much he had counted on seeing her, how he hadhungered for her, deep down, during all the nightmare week. He felt tooashamed to go to the Homestead to look for her; then it occurred to himthat she would be across the clearing. 2b1af7f3a8