Quincy Adams Sawyer and Mason's Corner Folks - A Picture of New England Home Life
by Charles Felton Pidgin
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse









Respectfully dedicated to the Memory of the late HON JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL the perusal of whose famous poem "THE COURTIN" supplied the inspiration that led to the writing of this book.


QUINCY ADAMS SAWYER'S only title was plain "Mr." His ancestors were tradesmen, merchants, lawyers, politicians, and Presidents. He, too, was proud of his honored ancestry, and I have endeavored in this book to have him live up to an ideal personification of gentlemanly qualities for which the New England standard should be fully as high as that of Old England; in fact, I see no reason why the heroes of American novels, barring the single matter of hereditary titles, should not compare favorably as regards gentlemanly attributes with their English cousins across the seas. C.F.P.



I. The Rehearsal

II. Mason's Corner Folks

III. The Concert in the Town Hall

IV. Ancestry versus Patriotism

V. Mr. Sawyer Meets Uncle Ike

VI. Some New Ideas

VII. "That City Feller"

VIII. City Skill versus Country Muscle

IX. Mr. Sawyer Calls on Miss Putnam

X. Village Gossip

XI. Some Sad Tidings

XII. Looking for a Boarding Place

XIII. A Visit to the Victim

XIV. A Quiet Evening

XV. A Long Lost Relative

XVI. A Promise Kept

XVII. An Informal Introduction

XVIII. The Courtin'

XIX. Jim Sawyer's Funeral

XX. A Wet Day

XXI. Some More New Ideas

XXII. After the Great Snowstorm

XXIII. A Visit to Mrs. Putnam

XXIV. The New Doctor

XXV. Some Plain Facts and Inferences

XXVI. The Surprise Party

XXVII. Town Politics

XXVIII. The Town Meeting

XXIX. Mrs. Hawkins's Boarding House

XXX. A Settlement

XXXI. An Inheritance

XXXII. Aunt Ella

XXXIII. The Weddin's

XXXIV. Blennerhassett

XXXV. "The Bird of Love"

XXXVI. Then They Were Married

XXXVII. Linda's Birthright

XXXVIII. Fernborough


Frontispiece.—"The village gossips wondered who he was, what he was, what he came for, and how long he intended to stay."

It was a marvellous rig that he wore when he reappeared

The barge led the procession to Mason's Corner

And then he landed a blow on Wood's nose

"The Deacon and his wife led off"


Mandy Skinner

Mrs. Putnam's anger, upon discovery of Lindy's parentage (Act III.)

Quincy reading Alice's letter to her (Act III.)

Samanthy Green

Quincy makes a speech (Act III.)

An old-fashioned husking bee (Act III.)

Alice recovers her sight (Act IV.)




It was a little after seven o'clock on the evening of December 31, 186—. Inside, the little red schoolhouse was ablaze with light. Sounds of voices and laughter came from within and forms could be seen flitting back and forth through the uncurtained windows. Outside, a heavy fall of snow lay upon hill and vale, trees and house-tops, while the rays of a full-orbed moon shone down upon the glistening, white expanse.

At a point upon the main road a short distance beyond the square, where the grocery store was situated, stood a young man. This young man was Ezekiel Pettengill, one of the well-to-do young farmers of the village. His coat collar was turned up and his cap pulled down over his ears, for the air was piercing cold and a biting wind was blowing. Now and then he would walk briskly back and forth for a few minutes, clapping his hands, which were encased in gray woollen mittens, in order to restore some warmth to those almost frozen members. As he walked back and forth, he said several times, half aloud to himself, "I don't b'lieve she's comin' anyway. I s'pose she's goin' to stay ter hum and spend the evenin' with him." Finally he resumed his old position near the corner and assumed his previous expectant attitude.

As he looked down the road, a man came out of Mrs. Hawkins's boarding house, crossed the road and walked swiftly towards him.

As the new-comer neared him, he called out, "Hello, Pettengill! is that you? Confounded cold, ain't it? Who wuz yer waitin' for? Been up to the schoolhouse yet?"

To these inquiries 'Zekiel responded: "No!" and added, "I saw yer comin' out of the house and thought I'd walk up with yer."

"Wall! they can't do nuthin' till I git thar," said Mr. Obadiah Strout, the singing-master, "so we shall both be on time. By the way," he continued, "I was up to Boston to-day to git some things I wanted for the concert to-morrer night, and the minister asked me to buy some new music books for the church choir, and I'm goin' up there fust to take 'em;" and 'Zekiel's attention was attracted to a package that Mr. Strout held under his arm. "Say, Pettengill!" continued Mr. Strout, "when yet git up ter the schoolhouse, tell them I'll be along in a few minutes;" and he started off, apparently forgetful of 'Zekiel's declaration that he had intended to walk up with him.

It is evident that 'Zekiel's statement was untruthful, for his words have betrayed the fact that it was not the Professor of whom he had been thinking.

'Zekiel did not move from his position until he had seen Strout turn into the yard that led to the front door of the minister's house. Then he said to himself again, "I don't believe she's comin', arter all."

As he spoke the words a deep, heavy sigh came from his great, honest heart, heard only by the leaflless trees through which the winter wind moaned as if in sympathy.

What was going on in the little red schoolhouse? The occasion was the last rehearsal of the Eastborough Singing Society, which had been studying vocal music assiduously for the last three months under the direction of Professor Obadiah Strout, and was to give its annual conceit the following evening at the Town Hall at Eastborough.

A modest sum had been raised by subscription. A big barge had been hired in Cottonton, and after the rehearsal there was to be a sleigh ride to Eastborough Centre and return. It was evident from the clamor and confusion that the minds of those present were more intent upon the ride than the rehearsal, and when one girl remarked that the Professor was late, another quickly replied that, "if he didn't come at all 'twould be early enough."

There were about two score of young persons present, very nearly equally divided between the two sexes. Benjamin Bates was there and Robert Wood, Cobb's twins, Emmanuel Howe, and Samuel Hill. Among the girls were Lindy Putnam, the best dressed and richest girl in town, Mandy Skinner, Tilly James, who had more beaus than any other girl in the village; the Green sisters Samanthy and Betsy, and Miss Seraphina Cotton, the village schoolteacher.

Evidently all the members of the society had not arrived, for constant inquiries were being made about Huldy Mason and 'Zekiel Pettengill. When Betsy Green asked Mandy Skinner if Hiram Maxwell wa'n't comin', the latter replied that he'd probably come up when Miss Huldy and the new boarder did.

News had reached the assemblage that Arthur Scates, the best tenor singer in the society, was sick. Lindy Putnam was to sing a duet with him at the concert, and so she asked if anybody had been to see him.

"I was up there this arternoon," said Ben Bates, "and he seemed powerful bad in the throat. Grandmother Scates tied an old stocking 'round his throat and gin him a bowl of catnip tea and he kinder thought he'd be all right to-morrer. I told him you'd have a conniption fit if he didn't show up, but Grandmother Scates shook her head kind o' doubtful and said, 'The Lord's will be done. What can't be cured must be endured;' and I guess that's about the way it will be."

The outer door opened and 'Zekiel Pettengill entered. The creaking of the opening door attracted the attention of all. When the girls saw who it was, they ran and gathered about him, a dozen voices crying out, "Where is Huldy? We all thought she'd come with you."

'Zekiel shook his head.

"You don't know?" asked Tilly James, incredulously. 'Zekiel shook his head again. "Of course you do," said Tilly contemptuously.

She turned away, followed by a number of the girls. "He knows well enough," she observed in an undertone, "but he won't tell. He's gone on Huldy, and when a feller's gone on a girl he's pretty sure to keep the run of her."

In the meantime Lindy Putnam had been using her most persuasive powers of coaxing on 'Zekiel and with same success, for 'Zekiel told quite a long story, but with very little information in it. He told the crowd of girls gathered about him that he'd be twenty-eight on the third of January, and that ever since he was a little boy, which was, of course, before any of those present were born, he'd always followed the rule of not saying anything unless he knew what he was talking about.

"Now," said 'Zekiel, feeling that it was better to talk on than to stand sheep-facedly before this crowd of eager, expectant faces, "I might tell yer that Huldy was ter hum and wasn't comin' up to-night, but yer see, p'r'aps she's on the road now and may pop in here any minute! Course you all know Deacon Mason's got a boarder, a young feller from the city. P'r'aps he'll come up with Huldy. But I heerd tell his health wa'n't very good and mebbe he went to bed right after supper."

"What's he down here for anyway?" asked Tilly James.

"Now you've got me," replied 'Zekiel. "I s'pose he had some purpose in view, but you see I ain't positive even of that. As I said before, I heerd he's come down here for his health. It's too late for rakin' hay, and as hard work's the best country doctor, p'r'aps he'll go to choppin' wood; but there's one point I feel kinder positive on."

"What is it? What is it?" cried the girls, as they looked into his face inquiringly.

"Wall, I think," drawled 'Zekiel, "that when he gits what he's come for, he'll be mighty apt to pull up stakes and go back to Boston."

Again the outer door creaked upon its hinges, and again every face was turned to see who the new-comer might be.

"Here she is," cried a dozen voices; and the owners thereof rushed forward to greet and embrace Miss Huldy Mason, the Deacon's daughter and the most popular girl in the village.

'Zekiel turned and saw that she was alone. Evidently the city fellow had not come with her.

Huldy was somewhat astonished at the warmth of her greeting, and was at a loss to understand the reason for it, until Lindy Putnam said:

"Didn't he come with you?"

"Who?" asked Huldy, with wide-open eyes.

"Oh, you can't fool us," cried Tilly James. "'Zeke Pettengill told us all about that city feller that's boarding down to your house. We were just talking it over together, and he surmised that it might be the same one that you met down to your aunt's house, when you went to Boston last summer."

"As Mr. Pettengill seems to know so much about my gentlemen friends, if you want any more information, no doubt he can supply it," said Huldy coldly.

"'Zeke kinder thought," said Bob Wood, "that he might be tired, and probably went to bed right after supper."

"Well, he didn't," said Huldy, now thoroughly excited, "he came with me, and he's outside now talking with Hiram about the barge."

"Why don't he come in?" asked Bob Wood. "P'r'aps he's bashful."

"If he didn't have no more common sense than you've got," retorted Huldy, "he'd have to go to bed as soon as he had eaten his supper."

The laugh that followed this remark so incensed Wood that he answered coarsely, "I never saw one of those city chaps who knew B from a bull's foot."

"Perhaps he'll teach you the difference some day," remarked Huldy, sarcastically.

"Well, I guess not," said Wood with a sneer; "'less he can put two b's in able."

Further altercation was stopped by the sudden entrance of Mr. Strout, who quickly ascended the platform and called the society to order. It must be acknowledged that the Professor had a good knowledge of music and thoroughly understood the very difficult art of directing a mixed chorus of uncultivated voices. With him enthusiasm was more important than a strict adherence to quavers and semiquavers, and what was lost in fine touches was more than made up in volume of tone.

Again, the Professor paid strict attention to business at rehearsals, and the progress of the society in musical knowledge had been very marked. So it is not to be wondered at that the various numbers allotted to the chorus on the next evening's programme were gone through quickly and to the evident satisfaction of the leader.

The last number to be taken up was an original composition, written and composed by the singing-master himself, and during its rehearsal his enthusiasm reached its highest pitch. At the conclusion of the chorus, which had been rendered with remarkable spirit, the Professor darted from one-end of the platform to the other, crying out, "Bravo! Fust rate! Do it again! That'll fetch 'em!"

After several repetitions of the chorus, each one given with increasing spirit and volume, the Professor threw down his baton and said: "That'll do. You're excused until to-morrow night, seven o'clock sharp at Eastborough Town Hall. I guess the barge has just drove up and we'd better be gittin' ready for our sleigh ride."

Miss Tilly James, who had acted as accompanist on the tin-panny old piano, was putting up her music. The Professor, with his face wreathed in smiles, walked up to her and said, "I tell you what, Miss James, that last composition of mine is bang up. One of these days, when the 'Star Spangled Banner,' 'Hail Columbia,' and 'Marching through Georgia' are laid upon the top shelf and all covered with dust, one hundred million American freemen will be singing Strout's great national anthem, 'Hark, and hear the Eagle Scream.' What do you think of that prophecy?"

"I think," said Miss James, turning her pretty face towards him, her black eyes snapping with fun, "that if conceit was consumption, there'd be another little green grave in the cemetery with O. Strout on the headstone."

The Professor never could take a joke. In his eye, jokes were always insults to be resented accordingly. Turning upon the young lady savagely, he retorted:

"If sass was butter, your folks wouldn't have to keep any cows."

Then he walked quickly across the room to where 'Zekiel Pettengill stood aloof from the rest, wrapped in some apparently not very pleasant thoughts.

At this juncture Hiram Maxwell dashed into the schoolroom, and judging from appearances his thoughts were of the pleasantest possible description.

"Say, fellers and girls," he cried, "I've got some news for yer, and when you hear it you'll think the day of judgment has come, and you're goin' to git your reward."

An astonished "Oh!" came up from the assemblage.

"Out with it," said Bob Wood, in his coarse, rough voice.

"Well, fust," said Hiram, his face glowing with animation, "you know we got up a subscription to pay for the barge and made me treasurer, cuz I worked in a deacon's family. Wall, when I asked Bill Stalker to-night how much the bill would be, just to see if I'd got enough, he told me that a Mr. Sawyer, who said he 'boarded down to Deacon Mason's, had paid the hull bill and given him a dollar beside for hisself." Cheers and the clapping of hands showed that the city fellow's liberality was appreciated by a majority, at least, of the singing society. "When we git on the barge I'll pay yer back yer money, and the ride won't cost any one on us a durn cent. That ain't all. Mr. Sawyer jest told me hisself that when he was over to Eastborough Centre yesterday he ordered a hot supper for the whole caboodle, and it'll be ready for us when we git over to the Eagle Hotel. So come along and git your seats in the barge." A wild rush was made for the door, but Hiram backed against it and screamed at the top of his voice: "No two girls must sit close together. Fust a girl, then a feller, next a girl, then a feller, next a girl, then a feller, that's the rule."

He opened the door and dashed out, followed by all the members of the society excepting the Professor and 'Zekiel, who were left alone in the room.

"See that flock of sheep," said the Professor to 'Zekiel, with a strong touch of sarcasm in his tone. "That's what makes me so cussed mad. Brains and glorious achievement count for nothin' in this community. If a city swell comes along with a pocketful of money and just cries, 'Baa,' over the fence they all go after him."

"Hasn't it always been so?" asked 'Zekiel.

"Not a bit of it," said Strout. "In the old days, kings and queens and princes used to search for modest merit, and when found they rewarded it. Nowadays modest merit has to holler and yell and screech to make folks look at it."

Hiram again appeared in the room, beckoning to the two occupants.

"Say, ain't you two comin' along?" he cried. "We've saved good places for yer."

"Where's Mr. Sawyer?" asked 'Zekiel.

"Oh, he's goin' along with the crowd," said Hiram; "he's got a seat in between Miss Putnam and Miss Mason, and looks as snug as a bug in a rug. There's a place for you, Mr. Pettengill, between Miss Mason and Mandy, and I comes in between Mandy and Mrs. Hawkins. Mandy wanted her mother to go cuz she works so confounded hard and gits out of doors so seldom, and there's a seat 'tween Mrs. Hawkins and Tilly James for the Professor, and Sam Hill's t'other side of Tilly and nex' to S'frina Cotton."

"I guess I can't go," said 'Zekiel. "The house is all alone, and I'm kind of 'fraid thet thet last hoss I bought may get into trouble again as he did last night. So I guess I'd better go home and look arter things." Leaning over he whispered in Hiram's ear, "I reckon you'd better take the seat between Huldy and Mandy, you don't want ter separate a mother from her daughter, you know."

"All right," said Hiram, with a knowing wink, "I'm satisfied to obleege."

Hiram then turned to the Professor: "Ain't yer goin', Mr. Strout?"

"When this sleigh ride was projected," said the Professor with dignity, "I s'posed it was to be for the members of the singin' class and not for boardin' mistresses and city loafers."

"I guess it don't make much difference who goes," replied Hiram, "as long as we git a free ride and a free supper for nothing."

"Present my compliments to Mr. Sawyer," said the Professor, "and tell him I've had my supper, and as I don't belong to a fire company, I don't care for crackers and cheese and coffee so late in the evenin'."

"Oh, bosh!" cried Hiram, "it's goin' to be a turkey supper, with fried chicken and salery and cranberry juice, and each feller's to have a bottle of cider and each girl a bottle of ginger ale."

A horn was heard outside, it being the signal for the starting of the barge. Without stopping to say good-by, Hiram rushed out of the room, secured his seat in the barge, and with loud cheers the merry party started off on their journey.

The Professor extinguished the lights and accompanied by 'Zekiel left the building. He locked the door and hung the key in its accustomed place, for no one at Mason's Corner ever imagined that a thief could be so bad as to steal anything from a schoolhouse. And it was once argued in town meeting that if a tramp got into it and thus escaped freezing, that was better than to have the town pay for burying him.

Both men walked along silently until they reached Mrs. Hawkins' boarding house; here the Professor stopped and bade 'Zekiel good night. After doing so he added:

"Pettengill, you and me must jine agin the common enemy. This town ain't big enough to hold us and this destroyer of our happiness, and we must find some way of smokin' him out."

The slumbers of both 'Zekiel and the Professor were broken when the jolly party returned home after midnight. 'Zekiel recalled Hiram's description of the arrangement of seats, and another deep sigh escaped him; but this time there were no leafless trees and winter wind to supply an echo.

The Professor's half-awakened mind travelled in very different channels. He imagined himself engaged in several verbal disputes with a number of fisticuff encounters in which he invariably proved to be too much for the city fellow. Just before he sank again into a deep sleep he imagined that the entire population of Mason's Corner escorted a certain young man forcibly to the railroad station at Eastborough Centre and put him in charge of the expressman, to be delivered in Boston. And that young man, in the Professor's dream, had a tag tied to the lapel of his coat upon which was written, "Quincy Adams Sawyer."



In 186— the town of Eastborough was located in the southeastern part of Massachusetts, in the county of Normouth. It was a large town, being fully five miles wide from east to west and from five to seven miles long, the northern and southern boundaries being very irregular.

The town contained three villages; the western one being known as West Eastborough, the middle one as Eastborough Centre, and the easterly one as Mason's Corner. West Eastborough was exclusively a farming section, having no store or post office. As the extreme western boundary was only a mile and a half from Eastborough Centre, the farmers of the western section of the town were well accommodated at the Centre. The middle section contained the railroad station, at which five trains a day, each way, to and from Boston, made regular stops. The Centre contained the Town Hall, two churches, a hotel, and express office, a bank, newspaper office, and several general stores. Not very far from the hotel, on a side road, was the Almshouse, or Poorhouse, as it was always called by the citizens of Eastborough.

Between the Centre and Mason's Corner was a long interval of three miles. The land bordering the lower and most direct route was, to a great extent, hilly and rocky, or full of sand and clay pits. The upper and longest road ran through a more fertile section. The village of Mason's Corner contained the best arable land in the town, and the village had increased in population and wealth much faster than the other sections of the town. To the east of the village of Mason's Corner lay the town of Montrose, and beyond that town was situated the thriving city of Cottonton, devoted largely, as its name indicated, to the textile manufacturing industries.

The best known and most popular resident of Mason's Corner was Deacon Abraham Mason. He was a retired farmer on the shady side of fifty. He had married young and worked very hard, his labors being rewarded with pecuniary success. When a little over fifty, he gave up active farm work and devoted his time to buying and selling real estate, and to church and town affairs, in both of which he was greatly interested. His house stood about halfway down a somewhat steep hill, the road over which, at the top, made a sharp turn. It was this turn which had received the appellation of Mason's Corner and from which the village eventually had taken its name.

Mrs. Sophia Mason, the Deacon's wife, was a little less than fifty years of age. She was a comely, bright-faced, bright-eyed, and energetic woman, who had been both a loving wife and a valued helpmeet to her husband. Their only living child was a daughter named Huldah Ann, about nineteen years of age, and considered by many to be the prettiest and smartest girl in Mason's Corner. The only other resident in Deacon Mason's house was Hiram Maxwell, a young man about thirty years of age. He had been a farm hand, but had enlisted in 1861, and served through the war. On his return home he was hired by Deacon Mason to do such chores as required a man's strength, for the Deacon's business took him away from home a great deal. Hiram was not exactly what would be called a pronounced stutterer or stammerer; but when he was excited or had a matter of more than ordinary importance to communicate, a sort of lingual paralysis seemed to overtake him and interfered materially with the vocal expression of his thoughts and ideas. Type would be inadequate to express the facial contortions and what might be termed the chromatic scales of vocal expression in which he often indulged, and they are, therefore, left for full comprehension to those of inventive and vivid imaginative powers. This fact should not be lost sight of in following the fortunes of this brave soldier, honest lover, good husband, and successful business man.

The Pettengill homestead was situated on the other side of the road, southwest from Deacon Mason's house. Ezekiel's grandfather had left three sons, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the latter being Ezekiel's father. Abraham had died when he was a young man, and Jacob had been dead about five years. Uncle Ike was in his seventy-sixth year, and was Ezekiel's only living near relative, with the exception of his sister Alice, who had left home soon after her father's death and was now employed as bookkeeper in a large dry goods store in Boston.

Ezekiel was about twenty-eight years of age, being seven years older than his sister. He was a hardy, strong-willed, self-reliant young fellow. He loved farming and had resolved to make a better living out of it than his father had ever done. A strong incentive to win success proceeded from the fact that he had long been in love with "Huldy Ann," the Deacon's daughter, and he had every reason to believe that his affection was returned, although no formal engagement existed between them, and marriage had never been spoken of by them or the young lady's parents.

Uncle Ike Pettengill had been a successful business man in Boston, but at the age of sixty had wearied of city life, and decided to spend the rest of his days in the country. Despite the objections of his wife and two grown up daughters, he sold out his business, conveyed two-thirds of his property to his wife and children, and invested the remaining third in an annuity, which gave him sufficient income for a comfortable support. He did not live at the Pettengill house, but in a little two-roomed cottage or cabin that he had had built for him on the lower road, about halfway between Mason's Corner and Eastborough Centre. A short distance beyond his little house, a crossroad, not very often used, connected the upper and lower roads. Uncle Ike had a fair-sized library, read magazines and weekly papers, but never looked at a daily newspaper. His only companions were about two hundred hens and chickens and a big St. Bernard dog which he had named "Swiss," after his native land.

The other residents of the Pettengill homestead were two young men named Jim and Bill Cobb, who aided Ezekiel in his farm work, and Mandy Skinner, the "help," who was in reality the housekeeper of the establishment. Jim and Bill Cobb were orphans, Jim being about twenty-one and Bill three years older. When young they resembled each other very closely, for this reason they had been nicknamed "Cobb's Twins," and the name had clung to them, even after they had reached manhood.

Mandy Skinner was about twenty-three, and was the only child of Malachi and Martha Skinner. Her father was dead, but her mother had married again and was now Mrs. Jonas Hawkins, the proprietor of Mrs. Hawkins's boarding house, which was situated in the square opposite Hill's grocery, and about a quarter of a mile from the top of Mason's Hill. Mandy had a double burden upon her shoulders. One was the care of such a large house and family, and the other was the constant necessity of repelling the lover-like hints and suggestions of Hiram Maxwell, who was always ready and willing to overlook his work at Deacon Mason's so that he could run down and see if Mandy wanted him to do anything for her.

Hill's grocery was owned and carried on by Benoni Hill and his son Samuel. Their residence was on the easterly edge of the town, being next to the one occupied by old Ben James, who was a widower with one daughter, Miss Matilda James.

About a quarter of a mile east of Hill's grocery was the village church, presided over by the Rev. Caleb Howe. He had one son, Emmanuel, who had graduated at Harvard and had intended to fit for the ministry, but his health had failed him and he had temporarily abandoned his studies. He was a great admirer of Miss Lindy Putnam, because, as he said, she was so pretty and accomplished. But after long debate one evening at the grocery store, it had been decided without a dissenting vote that "the minister's son was a lazy 'good-for-nothing', and that he wanted the money more than he did the gal." The village schoolhouse stood a short distance eastward from the church. The teacher, Miss Seraphina Cotton, a maiden lady of uncertain age, who boasted that the city of Cottonton was named after her grandfather, boarded at the Rev. Mr. Howe's, and was ardently attached to the minister's wife, who was an invalid and rarely seen outside of her home.

On the upper road, about half a mile to the west of Deacon Mason's, lived Mr. and Mrs. Silas Putnam. They owned the largest house and best farm at Mason's Corner. They were reputed to be quite wealthy and it was known for a sure fact that their only daughter, Lindy, was worth one hundred thousand dollars in her own right, it having been left to her by her only brother, J. Jones Putnam, who had died in Boston about five years before.

Mrs. Hawkins had a large house, but it was always full of boarders, all of the masculine gender. Mrs. Hawkins had declared on several occasions that she'd "sooner have the itch than a girl boarder." She was a hard-working woman and had but one assistant, a young girl named Betsy Green, one of whose sisters was "working-out" up at Mrs. Putnam's. Mrs. Hawkins's husband, his wife declared, was "no account nohow," and for the present her estimate of him must be accepted without question.

Among Mrs. Hawkins's twelve boarders were Robert Wood and Benjamin Bates, two young men who were natives of Montrose. Bates was a brick and stone mason, and Wood was a carpenter, and they had been quite busily employed during the two years they had lived at Mason's Corner.

Mrs. Hawkins owned a buggy and carryall and a couple of fairly good horses. They were cared for by Abner Stiles. He was often called upon to carry passengers over to the railway station at the Centre, and was the mail carrier between the Centre and Mason's Corner, for the latter village had a post office, which was located in Hill's grocery, Mr. Benoni Hill being the postmaster.

Since his return from the war Mr. Obadiah Strout had been Mrs. Hawkins's star boarder. He sat at the head of the table and acted as moderator during the wordy discussions which accompanied every meal. Abner Stiles believed implicitly in the manifest superiority of Obadiah Strout over the other residents of Mason's Corner. He was his firm ally and henchman, serving him as a dog does his master, not for pay, but because he loves the service.

Mr. Strout was often called the "Professor" because he was the singing-master of the village and gave lessons in instrumental and vocal music. The love of music was another bond of union between Strout and Stiles, for the latter was a skilful, if not educated, performer on the violin.

The Professor was about forty years of age, stout in person, with smooth shaven face and florid complexion. In Eastborough town matters he was a general factotum. He had been an undertaker's assistant and had worked for the superintendent of the Poorhouse. In due season and in turn he had been appointed to and had filled the positions of fence viewer, road inspector, hog reeve, pound keeper, and the year previous he had been chosen tax collector. Abner Stiles said that there "wasn't a better man in town for selectman and he knew he'd get there one of these days."

To those residents of Mason's Corner whose names have been given, whose homes have been described and some whose personal peculiarities have been portrayed, must be added a late arrival. The new-comer whose advent in town during Christmas week had caused so much discussion at the rehearsal in the old red schoolhouse, and whose liberality in providing a hot supper with all the fixings for the sleighing party from Mason's Corner, when it arrived at the Eagle Hotel at Eastborough Centre, had won, at a bound, the hearts of the majority of the younger residents of Mason's Corner. The village gossips wondered who he was, what he was, what he came for, and how long he intended to stay. If these questions had been asked of him personally, he might have returned answers to the first three questions, but it would have been beyond his power to have answered the fourth inquiry at that time. But the sayings and doings of certain individuals, and a chain of circumstances not of his own creation and beyond his personal control, conspired to keep him there for a period of nearly four months. During that time certain things were said and done, certain people were met and certain events took place which changed the entire current of this young man's future life, which shows plainly that we are all creatures of circumstance and that a man's success or failure in life may often depend as much or even more upon his environment than upon himself.



It was the evening of New Year's day, 186—. The leading people, in fact nearly all the people of the three villages forming the town of Eastborough, were assembled in the Town Hall at Eastborough Centre. The evening was pleasant and this fact had contributed to draw together the largest audience ever assembled in that hall. Not only was every seat taken, but the aisles were also crowded, while many of the younger citizens had been lifted up to eligible positions in the wide window seats of the dozen great windows on three sides of the large hall.

The large attendance was also due in part to the fact that a new and original musical composition by Mr. Strout, the singing-master, would be sung for the first time in public. Again, it had been whispered up at Hill's grocery at Mason's Corner that the young city fellow who was boarding at Deacon Mason's was going to be present, and this rumor led to a greatly increased attendance from that village.

The audience was a typical one of such communities at that period; horny-handed farmers with long shaggy beards and unkempt hair, dressed in ill-fitting black suits; matronly looking farmers' wives in their Sunday best; rosy-cheeked daughters full of fun and vivacity and chattering like magpies; tall, lank, awkward, bashful sons, and red-haired, black-haired, and tow-headed urchins of both sexes, the latter awaiting the events of the evening with the wild anticipations that are usually called forth only by the advent of a circus.

The members of the chorus were seated on the large platform, the girls being on the right and the fellows on the left. A loud hum of conversation arose from the audience and chorus, a constant turning over and rattling of programmes gave a cheerful and animated appearance to the scene. The centre door at the rear of the platform was opened and all eyes were turned in that direction, the chorus twisting their necks or turning half 'round in their seats.

Professor Strout entered and was greeted with a loud burst of applause. He wore a dress suit that he had hired in Boston, and there was a large white rose in the lapel of his coat. He was accompanied by Miss Tilly James, the pianist, who wore a handsome wine-colored silk dress that had been made for the occasion by the best dressmaker in Cottonton. As she took her place at the piano and ran her fingers over the keys, she, too, came in for a liberal round of applause. Professor Strout bowed to the audience, then turning his back upon them, he stood with baton uplifted facing the chorus and waiting the advent of the town committee. Every eye in the audience was fixed upon the programme. It contained the information that the first number was an opening chorus entitled, "Welcome to the Town Committee," written and composed by Professor Obadiah Strout and sung for the first time with great success at the last annual concert.

The door at the rear of the platform was opened again and Deacon Abraham Mason, the Rev. Caleb Howe, and Mr. Benoni Hill, the members of the town committee on singing school, entered. Deacon Mason was accompanied by Quincy Adams Sawyer, and all eyes were fastened on the couple as they took their seats at the right of the platform, the Rev. Mr. Howe and Mr. Hill being seated on the left.

Quincy Adams Sawyer in appearance and dress was a marked contrast to the stout, hardy, and rugged young farmers of Eastborough. He had dark hair, dark eyes, and a small black mustache curled at the ends. His face was pallid, but there was a look of determination in the firmly set jaw, resolute mouth, and sharp eye. He wore a dark suit with Prince Albert coat. Upon one arm hung an overcoat of light-colored cloth. He wore light-brown kid gloves and in one hand carried a light-colored Kossuth hat.

As soon as the committee and their guest had taken their seats, Professor Strout tapped upon his music stand with his baton and the members of the Eastborough Singing Society arose to their feet with that total disregard of uniformity and unanimity of motion that always characterizes a body of undrilled performers. Each girl was obliged to look at her own dress and that of her neighbor to see if they were all right, while each fellow felt it absolutely necessary to shuffle his feet, pull down his cuffs, pull up his collar, and arrange his necktie. Despite the confusion and individual preparations the chorus took the opening note promptly and sang the "Welcome to the Town Committee" with a spirit and precision which well merited the applause it received. The words were not printed on the programme, but they conveyed the idea that the members of the singing class were very much obliged to the town committee for hiring a singing-master and paying his salary. Also that the members of the chorus had studied hard to learn to sing and would do their best that evening as a return for the favors-bestowed upon them by the town.

Professor Strout then advanced to the edge of the platform and called the attention of the audience to the second number upon the programme which read, "Address by Abraham Mason, Esq." Prof. Strout added that by special request Deacon Mason's remarks would relate to the subject of "Education." The Deacon drew a large red bandanna handkerchief from his pocket, wiped the perspiration from his forehead, blew his nose vigorously, and then advanced to the centre of the platform near the music stand.

"I dote on eddikation," he began; "it makes the taxes high; I've lived in this town man and boy more'n fifty year and I never saw them anythin' but high." A general laugh greeted this remark. "But when I'm in town meetin' I allus votes an aye to make our schools as good as those found in neighborin' towns, and none of them are any too good. For my political actions I'm proud to give my grounds, for I never cast a vote that I was ashamed to give my reasons for." A burst of applause followed this declaration.

"Years back when I was young, we had no modern notions. We had to be satisfied with the three R's, Readin', 'Ritin', and 'Rithmetic, and larnin' was dealt out in rather meagre potions, 'bout three months in the winter after the wood was cut, sawed and split, and piled up in the wood-shed. We allus had to work in the summer, make hay and fill the barn in, and not till winter come could get a speck of larnin,' and then it took most of our time to pile wood into the stove and settle our personal accounts with the teacher." An audible titter ran through the audience at this sally. "And yet when I was young, though this community was rather behind in letters, no people in the land could say they were our betters. But now the world is changed, we live without such grubbin', learn Latin, French, and Greek, how to walk Spanish, talk Dutch, draw picters, keep books, fizziology, and lots of other 'ologies and much piano drubbin'. Now what brought this about? I think I have a notion; you know the immergrants from about every country under the sun have piled across the ocean. They've done the diggin' and other rough work and we've thruv on their labor. I have some ready cash. Mr. Strout comes 'round and gets some of't every year, and likewise my neighbor has some put aside for a rainy day." Many of the audience who probably had nothing laid aside glanced at the well-to-do farmers who had the reputation of being well fixed as regards this world's goods. "Perhaps I'm doin' wrong, but I would like my darter to know as much as those that's likely to come arter. But if the world keeps on its progress so bewild'rin' and they put some more 'ologies into the schools together with cabinet organs and fife and drum, I'm afraid it will cost my darter more than it did me to eddikate her childrin."

A storm of applause filled the hall when the Deacon concluded his remarks. As he resumed his chair, Quincy handed him a tumbler of water that he had poured from a pitcher that stood upon a table near the piano. This act of courtesy was seen and appreciated by the audience and a loud clapping of hands followed. At the commencement of the Deacon's speech, the Professor had left the platform, for it gave him an opportunity for an intended change of costume, for which time could be found at no other place on the programme. It was a marvellous rig that he wore when he reappeared. A pair of white duck pantaloons, stiffly starched, were strapped under a pair of substantial, well-greased, cowhide boots. The waistcoat was of bright-red cloth with brass buttons. The long-tailed blue broad-cloth coat was also supplied with big brass buttons. He wore a high linen dickey and a necktie made of a small silk American flag. On his head he had a cream-colored, woolly plug hat and carried in his hand a baton resembling a small barber's pole, having alternate stripes of red, white, and blue with gilded ends.

The appearance of this apparition of Uncle Sam was received with cries, cheers, and loud clapping of hands. The Professor bowed repeatedly in response to this ovation, and it was a long time before he could make himself heard by the audience. At last he said in a loud voice:

"The audience will find the words of number three printed on the last page of the programme, and young and old are respectfully invited to jine in the chorus."

A fluttering of programmes followed and this is what the audience found on the last page, "Hark! and Hear the Eagle Scream, a new and original American national air written, composed, and sung for the first time in public by Professor Obadiah Strout, author of last season's great success, 'Welcome to the Town Committee,'"


They say our wheat's by far the best; Our Injun corn will bear the test; Our butter, beef, and pork and cheese, The furriner's appetite can please. The beans and fishballs that we can Will keep alive an Englishman; While many things I can't relate He must buy from us or emigrate.


Raise your voices, swing the banners, Pound the drums and bang pianners; Blow the fife and shriek for freedom, 'Meriky is bound to lead 'em. Emigrate! ye toiling millions! Sile enuf for tens of billions! Land of honey, buttermilk, cream; Hark! and hear the eagle scream.


In manufactures, too, we're some; Take rubber shoes and chewing gum; In cotton cloth, and woollen, too, In time we shall outrival you; Our ships with ev'ry wind and tide, With England's own will sail beside, In ev'ry port our flag unfurled, When the Stars and Stripes will rule the world.



For gold and silver, man and woman, For things that's raided, made, dug, or human, 'Meriky's the coming nation; She's-bound to conquer all creation! Per'aps you call this brag and bluster; No, 'taint nuther, for we muster The best of brain, the mighty dollar; We'll lead on, let others foller.


Professor Strout sang the solo part of the song himself. The singing society and many of the audience joined in the chorus. Like many teachers of vocal music, the Professor had very little voice himself, but he knew how to make the best possible use of what he did possess. But the patriotic sentiment of the words, the eccentric make-up of the singer his comical contortions and odd grimaces, and what was really a bright, tuneful melody won a marked success for both song and singer. Encore followed encore. Like many more cultured audiences in large cities the one assembled in Eastborough Town Hall seemed to think that there was no limit to a free concert and that they were entitled to all they could get. But the Professor himself fixed the limit. When the song had been sung through three times he ran up the centre aisle of the platform and facing the audience, he directed the chorus, holding the variegated baton in one hand and swinging his woolly plug hat around his head with the other. At the close, amid screams, cheers, and clapping of hands, he turned upon his heel, dashed through the door and disappeared from sight.

The next number upon the programme was a piano solo by Miss Tilly James. Nothing could have pleased her audience any better than the well-known strains of the ever popular "Maiden's Prayer." In response to an encore which Quincy originated, and dexterously led, Miss James played the overture to Rossini's "William Tell" without notes. A fact which was perceived by the few, but unnoticed by the many.

At the close of these instrumental selections, the Professor reappeared in evening costume and again assumed the directorship of the concert. Robert Wood had a ponderous bass voice, which if not highly cultivated was highly effective, and he sang "Simon the Cellarer" to great acceptation. Next followed a number of selections sung without accompaniment by a male quartette composed of Cobb's twins, who were both tenors, Benjamin Bates, and Robert Wood. This feature was loudly applauded and one old farmer remarked to his neighbor, who was evidently deaf, in a loud voice that was heard all over the hall, "That's the kind of music that fetches me," which declaration was a signal for another encore.

The singing society then sang a barcarolle, the words of the first line being, "Of the sea, our yacht is the pride." It went over the heads of most of the audience, but was greatly appreciated fey the limited few who were acquainted with the difficulties of accidentals, syncopations, and inverted musical phrases.

According to the programme the next feature was to be a duet entitled "Over the Bridge," composed by Jewell and sung by Arthur Scates and Miss Lindy Putnam. The Professor stepped forward and waved his hand to quiet the somewhat noisy assemblage.

"The next number will have to be omitted," he said, "because Mr. Scates is home sick abed. The doctor says he's got a bad case of quinsy," with a marked emphasis on the last word, which, however, failed to make a point. "In response to requests, one verse of 'Hark! and Hear the Eagle Scream' will be sung to take the place of the piece that's left out."

While the Professor was addressing the audience, Quincy had whispered something in Deacon Mason's ear which caused the latter to smile and nod his head approvingly. Quincy arose and reached the Professor's side just as the latter finished speaking and turned towards the chorus. Quincy said something in a low tone to the Professor which caused Mr. Strout to shake his head in the negative in a most pronounced manner. Quincy spoke again and looked towards Miss Putnam, who was seated in the front row, and whose face wore a somewhat disappointed look.

Again the Professor shook his head by way of negation and the words, "It can't be did," were distinctly audible to the majority of both singing society and audience, at the same time a look of contempt spread over the singing-master's face. Quincy perceived it and was nettled by it. He was not daunted, however, nor to be shaken from his purpose, so he said in a loud voice, which was heard in all parts of the hall: "I know the song, and will sing it if Miss Putnam and the audience are willing."

With a smile upon her face, Miss Putnam nodded her acquiescence. All the townspeople had heard of Quincy's liberality in providing a hot supper for the sleighing party the night before, and cries of "Go ahead! Give him a chance! We want to hear him!" and "Don't disappoint Miss Putnam," were heard from all parts of the hall. The Professor was obliged to give in. He sat down with a disgusted look upon his face, and from that moment war to the knife was declared between these champions of city and country civilization.

Mr. Sawyer went to the piano, opened Miss James's copy of the music and placed it upon the music rack before her, saying a few words to her which caused her to smile. Quincy then approached Lindy, opened her music at the proper place and passed it to her. Next he took her hand and led her to the front of the platform. These little acts of courtesy and politeness, performed in an easy, graceful, and self-possessed manner, were seen by all and won a round of applause.

The duet was beautifully sung. Quincy had a fine well-trained tenor voice, while Miss Putnam's mezzo-soprano was full and melodious and her rendition fully as artistic as that of her companion. One, two, three, four, five, six encores followed each other in quick succession, in spite of Professor Strout's endeavors to quell the applause and take up the next number. The ovation given earlier in the evening to Professor Strout was weak in comparison with that vouchsafed to Quincy and Lindy when they took their seats. In vain did the Professor strive to make himself heard. Audience and chorus seemed to be of one mind. The Professor, his face as red as a beet, turned to Ezekiel Pettengill and said:

"That was a mighty impudent piece of business, don't you think so?"

"They're both mighty fine singers," Ezekiel responded in a rather unsympathetic tone.

Quincy realized that something must be done to satisfy the demands of the now thoroughly excited audience. Going to Miss James, he asked her a question in a low voice, in reply to which she nodded affirmatively. He next sought Miss Putnam and evidently asked her the same question, receiving a similar answer. Then he led her forward, and she sang the opening part of "Listen to the Mocking Bird." After they had sung the chorus it was repeated on the piano and Quincy electrified the audience by whistling it, introducing all the trills, staccatos, and roulades that he had heard so many times come from under Billy Morris's big mustache at the little Opera House on Washington Street, opposite Milk, run by the Morris Brothers, Johnny Pell, and Mr. Trowbridge, and when he finished there flashed through his mind a pleasant memory of Dr. Ordway and his Aeolians. An encore was responded to, but the tumult still continued. Turning to Ezekiel, Strout said:

"Ain't it a cussed shame to spoil a first-class concert this way?"

"He's a mighty fine whistler," replied Ezekiel in the same tone that he had used before.

Finally to quiet their exuberance Quincy was obliged to say a few words, which were evidently what the audience was waiting for.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "the hour is getting late and there is another number on the programme. Miss Putnam is tired and I shall have to wet my whistle before I can use it again. I thank you for your kind indulgence and applause."

This little speech pleased the audience. It was down to their level, with "no sign of stuckupativeness about it," as one country girl remarked to her chum. Quincy bowed, the audience laughed, and quiet was restored.

The Professor had fidgeted, fumed, and fussed during Quincy's occupancy of the platform. He now arose with feelings impossible to express and took up his baton to lead the closing chorus. He brought it down with such a whack upon the music stand that it careened, tottered, and fell to the platform with a crash. Tilly James leaned over and whispered to Huldy Mason: "The Professor seems to have a bad attack of Quincy, too." And the two girls smothered their laughs in their handkerchiefs. If the singing society had not been so well acquainted with the closing chorus the Professor certainly would have thrown them out by his many mistakes in beating time. The piece was a "sleighride" song. The Professor forgot to give the signal for the ringing of the sleigh bells, but the members of the singing society did not, and their introduction, which was unexpected by the audience, to use a theatrical term, "brought down the house." The number was well rendered, despite the manifest defects in leadership. The concert came to a close.

Deacon Mason and his wife, accompanied by their daughter, Huldy, and Rev. Mr. Howe, occupied a double sleigh, as did Hiram, Mandy, and Cobb's twins. Another double-seated conveyance contained Mr. and Mrs. Benoni Hill, their son, Samuel, and Miss Tilly James. Quincy also had accommodations for four in his sleigh, but its only occupants were Miss Putnam and himself. Abner Stiles sat on the front seat of another double-seated sleigh, while the Professor and Ezekiel were on the back one; the remainder of the Mason's Corner folks occupied the big barge which had been used for the sleigh ride the night before.

The barge led the procession to Mason's Corner, followed by the vehicles previously mentioned and scores of others containing residents of Mason's Corner, whose names and faces are alike unknown. By a strange fatality, the sleigh containing the Professor and Ezekiel was the last in the line. Ezekiel was inwardly elated that Mr. Sawyer had gone home with Lindy instead of with Deacon Mason's party. Strout's bosom held no feelings of elation. He did not seem to care whether the concert was considered a success or not. He had but one thought in his mind, and that was the "daring impudence of that city feller." Turning to Ezekiel, he said:

"I'll get even with that city chap the next time I meet him. As I said last night, Pettengill, this town ain't big enough to 'hold both on us and one on us has got to git."

As he said this, he leaned back in the sleigh and puffed his cigar savagely while Ezekiel was wondering if Huldy was thinking half as much about him as he was about her.



Four days had passed since the concert in the Town Hall at Eastborough. The events of that evening had been freely discussed in barn and workshop, at table and at the various stores in Eastborough and surrounding towns, for quite a number had been present who were not residents of the town. All interest in it had not, however, passed away as subsequent occurrences proved.

It was the morning of the fifth of January. Benoni Hill, who ran the only grocery store at Mason's Corner, was behind his counter and with the aid of his only son, Samuel, was attending to the wants of several customers.

While thus engaged, Miss Tilly James entered, and young Samuel Hill forgot to ask the customer on whom he had been waiting the usual question, "Anything else, ma'am?" so anxious was he to speak to and wait upon the pretty Miss James, whose bright eyes, dark curly hair, and witty remarks had attracted to her side more suitors than had fallen to the lot of any other young girl in the village. As yet she had evinced no especial liking for any particular one of the young men who flocked about her, and this fact had only served to increase their admiration for her and to spur them on to renewed efforts to win her favor.

"Do you know, Miss James," said Samuel, "I can't get it out of my ears yet." As he said this, he leaned over the counter, and being a brave young man, looked straight into Miss James's smiling face.

"If all home remedies have failed," said Tilly, "why don't you go to Boston and have a doctor examine them?"

"What a joker you are!" remarked Samuel; "I believe you will crack a joke on the minister the day you are married."

"It may be my last chance," rejoined Tilly. "Mother says the inside of a boiled onion put into the ear is good for some troubles; give me a pound of tea, Oolong and green mixed, same as we always have."

As Samuel passed the neatly done up package to Miss James, he leaned across the counter again and said in a low voice, "You know what is in my ears, Miss James. How beautifully you played for Mr. Sawyer when he whistled 'Listen to the Mocking Bird.' I don't think I shall ever forget it."

"Well, I don't know about the playing, Mr. Hill. I came near losing my place several times, because I wanted so much to hear him whistle."

During this conversation Tilly and Samuel had been so preoccupied that they had not noticed the entrance of a new-comer and his approach towards them. Only one other customer, a little girl, was left in the store, and Mr. Hill, Sr., had gone down cellar to draw her a quart of molasses.

As Tilly uttered the words, "I wanted so much to hear him whistle," she heard behind her in clear, melodious, flute-like notes, the opening measures of "Listen to the Mocking Bird." Turning quickly, she saw Mr. Sawyer standing beside her.

"Why, how do you do, Mr. Sawyer? I am delighted to see you again," she said in that hearty, whole-souled way that was so captivating to her country admirers.

"The delight is mutual," replied Quincy, raising his hat and bowing.

Samuel Hill was evidently somewhat disturbed by the great friendliness of the greetings that he had just witnessed. This fact did not escape Tilly's quick eye, and turning to Mr. Sawyer she said:

"Have you been introduced to my friend, Mr. Samuel Hill?"

"I have not had that pleasure," replied Quincy. "This is my first visit to the store."

"Then allow me," continued Tilly, "to present you to Mr. Samuel Hull and to Mr. Benoni Hill, his father, both valued friends of mine," and she added, as a roguish smile came into her face, "as they keep the only grocery store in the village, you will be obliged to buy what they have and pay them what they ask, unless you prefer a three-mile tramp to Eastborough Centre."

"I hope you're enjoyin' your stay at Mason's Corner," said Mr. Benoni Hall, "though I don't s'pose you city folks find much to please yer in a country town, 'specially in the winter."

"So far I have found two things that have pleased me very much," replied Quincy.

"The milk and eggs, I suppose," remarked Tilly.

"No," said Quincy, "I refer to Miss Lindy Putnam's fine singing and the beautiful playing of a young lady who is called Miss James."

"I have heard," said Tilly, "that you city gentlemen are great flatterers. That is not the reason why I am obliged to leave you so suddenly, but the fact is the tea caddy ran low this morning and grandma's nerves will remain unstrung until she gets a cup of strong tea."

With a graceful bow and a parting wave of the hand to the three gentlemen, the bright and popular young lady left the store.

"Mr. Hill," said Quincy, addressing the elder gentleman, "I've smoked all the cigars that I brought from Boston, but Deacon Mason told me perhaps you had some that would suit me. I like a good-sized, strong cigar and one that burns freely."

"Well," said Mr. Hill, "Professor Strout is the most partikler customer I have in cigars; he says he always smokes a pipe in the house, 'cause it don't hang round the room so long as cigar smoke does, but he likes a good cigar to smoke on the street or when he goes ridin'. I just had a new box come down for him last night. Perhaps some of them will satisfy yer till I can git jest the kind yer want."

Mr. Hill took his claw-hammer and opening the box passed it to Quincy, who took one of the cigars and lighted it. As he did so he glanced at the brand and the names of the makers, and remarked, "This is a good cigar, I've smoked this brand before. What do you ask for them?"

"I git ten cents straight, but as Mr. Strout always smokes up the whole box before he gits through, though he don't usually buy more than five at a time, I let him have 'em for nine cents apiece. There ain't much made on them, but yer see I have to obleege my customers."

"You don't ask enough for them," said Quincy, throwing down a twenty-dollar bill. "They sell for fifteen cents, two for a quarter, in Boston."

"How many will you have?" asked Mr. Hill, thinking that Boston must be a paradise for shopkeepers, when seven cents' profit could be made on a cigar that cost only eight cents.

"I'll take the whole box," said Quincy. "Call it ten dollars, that's cheap enough. No matter about the discount." As he said this he took half a dozen cigars from the box and placed them in a silver-mounted, silk-embroidered cigar case. "Please do them up for me, Mr. Hill, and the next time Hiram Maxwell comes in he will take them down to Deacon Mason's for me."

After much rummaging through till and pocketbook, Mr. Hill and his son found ten dollars in change, which was passed to Quincy. He stuffed the large wad of small bills and fractional currency into his overcoat pocket and sitting down on a pile of soap boxes drummed on the lower one with his boot heels and puffed his cigar with evident pleasure.

While Quincy was thus pleasantly engaged, Professor Strout entered the store and walked briskly up to the counter. He did not see, or if he did, he did not notice, Quincy who kept his place upon the pile of soap boxes. Strout was followed by Abner Stiles, Robert Wood, and several other idlers, who had been standing on the store platform when the Professor arrived.

"Did those cigars come down, Hill?" asked Strout in his usual pompous way.

"Yes!" replied Mr. Hill, "but I guess you'll have to wait till I gut another box down."

"What for?" asked Strout sharply. "Wa'n't it understood between us that them cigars was to be kept for me?"

"That's so," acknowledged Mr. Hill, "but you see, when I told that gentleman on the soap box over yonder that you smoked them, he bought the whole box, paid me a cent more apiece than you do. A dollar's worth saving nowadays. He says they sell for fifteen cents, two for a quarter, up in Boston."

"If he's so well posted on Boston prices," growled Strout, "why didn't he pay them instead of cheatin' you out of two dollars and a half? I consider it a very shabby trick, Mr. Hill. I shall buy my cigars at Eastborough Centre in the future. Perhaps you'll lose more than that dollar in the long run."

"Perhaps the gentleman will let you have some of them," expostulated Mr. Hill, "till I can get another box."

"All I can say is," said Strout in snappish tones, "if the man who bought them knew that you got them for me, he was no gentleman to take the whole box. What do yer say, Stiles?" he asked, turning to Abner, who had kept his eyes fixed on the placid Quincy since entering the store, though listening intently to what the Professor said.

"Well, I kinder reckon I agree to what you say, Professor," drawled Abner, "unless the other side has got some sort of an explanation to make. 'Tain't quite fair to judge a man without a hearin'."

"Allow me to offer you one of your favorite brand, Professor Strout," said Quincy, jumping down from the soap boxes and extending his cigar case.

"No! thank you!" said Strout, "I always buy a box at a time, the same as you do. Judging from the smell of the one you are smoking, I guess they made a mistake on that box and sent second quality. Give me a five-cent plug, Mr. Hill, if some gentleman hasn't bought out your whole stock. I fancy my pipe will have to do me till I get a chance to go over to Eastborough Centre."

During this conversation Hiram Maxwell had come in to do an errand for Mrs. Mason, and several more platform idlers, having heard the Professor's loud words, also entered.

Strout was angry. When in that condition he usually lost his head, which he did on this occasion. Turning to Quincy he said with a voice full of passion:

"What's yer name, anyway? You've got so many of them I don't know which comes fust and which last. Is it Quincy or Adams or Sawyer? How in thunder did you get 'em all, anyway? I s'pose they tucked 'em on to you when you was a baby and you was too weak to kick at being so abused."

At this sally a loud laugh arose from the crowd gathered in the store, and Abner Stiles, who was the Professor's henchman and man-of-all-work, cried out, "Fust blood for the Professor."

Quincy faced the Professor with a pale face and spoke in clear, ringing tones, still holding his lighted cigar between the fingers of his right hand. When he spoke all listened intently.

"Your memory has served you well, Mr. Strout. You have got my names correct and in the proper order, Quincy Adams Sawyer. I do not consider that any child could be abused by being obliged to wear such honored names as those given me by my parents. My mother was a Quincy, and that name is indissolubly connected with the history and glory of our common country. My father's mother was an Adams, a family that has given two Presidents to the United States. If your knowledge of history is as great as your memory for names you should be aware of these facts, but your ignorance of them will not affect the opinion of those knowing to them. My father, Nathaniel Adams Sawyer, has a world-wide reputation as a great constitutional lawyer, and I am proud to bear his name, combined with those of my illustrious ancestors. It is needless for me to add that I, too, am connected with the legal profession."

Here Hiram Maxwell called out, "First round for Mr. Sawyer."

"Shut up, you dough-head," cried Strout, his face purple with rage. Turning to Quincy he said in a choked voice, "My name is Obadiah Strout, no frills or folderols about it either. That was my father's name too, and he lived and died an honest man, in spite of it. He raised potatoes and one son, that was me. When the nation called for volunteers I went to war to save the money bags of such as you that stayed at home. It was such fellers as you that made money out of mouldy biscuits and rotten beef, shoddy clothin', and paper-soled boots. It was such fellers as your father that lent their money to the government and got big interest for it. They kept the war going as long as they could. What cared they for the blood of the poor soldier, as long as they could keep the profits and interest coming in? It wasn't the Quincys and the Adamses and the other fellers with big names that stayed at home and hollered who saved the country, but the rank and file that did the fightin', and I was one of them."

As he said this the irascible Professor shook his fist in Quincy's face, to which a red flush mounted, dyeing cheek and brow.

"That's the Lord's truth," said Abner Stiles. Then he called out in a loud voice, "Second round for the Professor. Now for the finish."

But the finish did not come then. The settlement between these two lingual disputants did not come for many days. The reason for a sudden cessation of the wordy conflict was a shrill, feminine voice, which cried out from the store platform:

"Hiram Maxwell, where are you? Mother's most out of patience waiting for you."

"Good Lord!" cried Hiram, breaking through the crowd and rushing to the counter to make the long-deferred purchase. "I'm coming in a minute."

"I think I had better see you home," remarked Huldy Mason, entering the store.

As she advanced the crowd separated and moved backward, leaving her a dear path.

"Why, how do you do, Mr. Sawyer?" said she in a pleasant voice and with a sweet smile, as she reached Quincy. "Won't you help me take Hiram home?"

"I should be happy to be of service to you," replied Quincy.

The professor turned his back toward Miss Mason and began talking in an animated manner to Abner Stiles, Bob Wood, and a few other ardent sympathizers who gathered about him.

The rest of the crowd were evidently more interested in watching the pretty Miss Mason and the genteel Mr. Sawyer. When Hiram left the store with his purchases under one arm and Quincy's box of cigars under the other, he was closely followed by Quincy and Huldy, who were talking and laughing together. The crowd of loungers streamed out on the platform again to watch their departure. As Quincy and Huldy turned from the square into the road that led to the Deacon's house they met Ezekiel Pettengill. Huldy nodded gayly and Quincy raised his hat, but Ezekiel was not acquainted with city customs and did not return the salutation. A few moments later the Professor and Abner Stiles were relating to him the exciting occurrences of the last half hour.



Quincy Adams Sawyer had not come down to Mason's Corner with any idea of becoming a hermit. His father was a great lawyer and a very wealthy man. He had made Quincy a large allowance during his college days, and had doubled it when his only son entered his law office to complete his studies.

Quincy had worked hard in two ways; first, to read law, so as to realize the great anticipations that his father had concerning him; second, he worked still harder between eight in the evening and one, two, and even four in the morning, to get rid of the too large allowance that his father made him.

Like all great men, his father was unsuspicious and easily hoodwinked about family matters; so when Quincy grew listless and on certain occasions fell asleep at his desk his renowned and indulgent father decided it was due to overwork and sent him down to Eastborough for a month's rest and change of scene.

His father had known Isaac Pettengill, and in fact had conducted many successful suits for him; besides this he had drawn up the papers when Uncle Ike divided his fortune. Quincy's father had written to Uncle Ike, asking him to find his son a boarding place, and Uncle Ike had selected Deacon Mason's as the best place for him.

Quincy's father had told him to be sure and get acquainted with Mr. Isaac Pettengill, saying he was a man of fine education, and added, "I sometimes feel, Quincy, as though I would like to go into the country and take care of a chicken farm myself for a while."

His mother came of the best New England stock, and although she had been named Sarah and her husband's name was Nathaniel, we have seen that the son had been endowed with the rather high-sounding name of Quincy Adams, which his schoolmates had shortened to Quince, and his college friends had still further abbreviated to Quinn. Quincy had two sisters and they had been equally honored with high-sounding appellations, the elder being called Florence Estelle and the younger Maude Gertrude, but to pa, ma, brother, and friends they were known as Flossie and Gertie.

The next day after the affair at Hill's grocery, Quincy put several of the best cigars in town in his pocket and started towards Eastborough Centre for a walk, intending to call upon Uncle Ike Pettengill.

The young man knew that late hours and their usual accompaniments were what had undermined his health, so he determined to make his vacation of good service to him and recover his accustomed health and strength, and when he returned home cut his old acquaintances and settle down earnestly and honestly to the battle of life.

He had teen a favorite in city society; he was well educated, well read, had travelled considerably and was uniformly polite and affable to all classes, from young children to old men and women; he was very careful about his dress, and always had that well-groomed appearance, which in the city elicits commendation, but which leads the average countryman to say "dude" to himself and near friends when talking about him.

Quincy was no dude; he had been prominent in all college athletic games; he had been a member of the 'varsity eight in one of its contests with Yale, and had won a game for Harvard with Yale at base ball by making a home run in the tenth inning on a tied score. He was a good musician and fine singer. In addition he was a graceful dancer, and had taken lessons in boxing, until his feather-weight teacher suggested that he had better find a heavy-weight instructor to practise on.

Quincy was in his twenty-third year. He had been in love a dozen times, but, as he expressed it, had been saved from matrimony by getting acquainted with a prettier girl just as he was on the point of popping the question.

But we left him walking along on his way to Eastborough Centre. Deacon Mason had told him Uncle Ike's house was away from the road, some hundred feet back, and that he could not mistake it, as he could see the chicken coop from the road. He finally reached it after traversing about a mile and a half, it being another mile and a half to Eastborough Centre.

He found the path that led to the house. As he neared the steps a huge dog arose from a reclining posture and faced him, not in an ugly mood, but with an expression that seemed to-say, "An introduction will be necessary before you come any farther." The dog seemed to understand that it was his duty to bring about the necessary introduction, so he gave a series of loud barks. The door was quickly opened and Uncle Ike stood in the doorway.

"Do I address Mr. Isaac Pettengill?" asked Quincy.

Uncle Ike replied, "That's what they write on my letters."

Quincy continued, "My name is Quincy Adams Sawyer. I am the only son of the Hon. Nathaniel Sawyer of Boston, and I bear a letter of introduction from him to you."

Quincy took the letter from his pocket and held it in his hand. The dog made a quick movement forward and before Quincy could divine his object, he took the letter in his mouth and took it to Uncle Ike, and, returning, faced Quincy again.

Uncle Ike read the letter slowly and carefully; then he turned to Quincy and said, "If you will talk about birds, fish, dogs, and chickens, you are welcome, and I shall be glad to see you now or any time. If you talk about lawsuits or religion I shall be sorry that you came. I am sick of lawyers and ministers. If you insist upon talking on such subjects I'll tell Swiss, and the next time you come he won't even bark to let me know you're here."

Quincy took in the situation, and smiling said, "I am tired of lawyers and lawsuits myself; that is the reason I came down here for a change. The subjects you mention will satisfy me, if you will allow me to put in a few words about rowing, running, boxing, and football."

Uncle Ike replied, "The physically perfect man I admire, the intellectually perfect man is usually a big bore; I prefer the company of my chickens." Turning to Swiss he said with a marked change in his voice, "This is a friend of mine, Swiss." Turning to Quincy he said, "He will admit you until I give him directions to the contrary."

The dog walked quietly to one side and Quincy advanced with outstretched hand toward Uncle Ike.

Uncle Ike did not extend his. He said, "I never shake hands, young man. It is a hollow social custom. With Damon and Pythias it meant something. One was ready to die for the other, and that hand-clasp meant friendship until death. How many hand shakings mean that nowadays? Besides," with a queer smile, "I have just been cutting up a broiler that I intend to cook for my dinner. Come in, you are welcome on the conditions I have mentioned."

Quincy obeyed and stepped into the kitchen of Sleepy Hollow. He owned to himself in after years that that was the most important step he had taken in life—the turning-point in his career.



"Did you ever kill a chicken?" asked Uncle Ike, as Quincy entered the room and took a seat in the willow rocker Uncle Ike pointed out to him.

"No," replied Quincy, "but out in Chicago I saw live hogs killed, bristles taken off, cut up, assorted according to kind and quality, and hung up to cool off, in three minutes."

Uncle Ike responded vehemently, "Yes, I know, and it is a shame to the American people that they allow such things."

"That may be true," said Quincy, "but even at that speed they cannot kill and pack as fast as it is wanted."

"Yes," said Uncle Ike, "in the old days man feared God, and he treated man and beast better for that reason. In these days man serves Mammon and he will do anything to win his favor."

"Do you think it is true that men were better in the old days?" asked Quincy.

"No," answered Uncle Ike, "I didn't say so. I said that in the old days man was afraid to do these things; now if he has money he is afraid of neither God, man, nor the devil. To speak frankly, that is why I am so independent myself. I am sure of enough to support me as long as I live; I owe no man anything, and I allow no man to owe me anything."

Quincy, changing the subject, inquired, "What is your method of killing chickens?"

Uncle Ike said, "Let me tell you why I devised a new plan. When I was about eight years old I went with my mother to visit an uncle in a neighboring town. I was born in Eastborough myself, in the old Pettengill house. But this happened some twenty miles from here. My uncle was chopping wood, and boy like, I went out to watch him. An old rooster kept running around the block, flapping its wings, making considerable noise. Uncle shooed him off three or four times. Finally uncle made a grab at him, caught him by the legs, whacked him down on the block and with his axe cut off his head close to his body, and then threw it out on the grass right in front of me. Was that rooster dead? I thought not. It got up on its legs, ran right towards where I was sitting, and before I could get away I was covered with the blood that came from its neck. I don't know how far the rooster ran, but I know I never stopped until I was safe in my mother's arms. The balance of the time I stayed there you couldn't get me within forty yards of my uncle, for every time I met him I could see myself running around without my head."

"That made a lasting impression on you," remarked Quincy.

"Yes," said Uncle Ike, "it has lasted me sixty-eight years, one month, and thirteen days," pointing to a calendar that hung on the wall.

As Quincy looked in the direction indicated he saw something hanging beside it that attracted his attention.

It was a sheet of white paper with a heavy black border. Within the border were written these words, "Sacred to the memory of Isaac Pettengill, who was killed at the battle of Gettysburg, July 4th, 1863, aged twenty-nine years. He died for his namesake and his native land."

Quincy said interrogatively, "Did you lose a son in the war?"

"No," was the reply. "I never had a son. That was my substitute."

"Strange that your substitute should have the same name as yourself."

"Yes, it would have been if he had, but he didn't. His right name was Lemuel Butters. But I didn't propose to put my money into such a name as that."

"Were you drafted?" asked Quincy.

"No," said Uncle Ike. "I might as well tell you the whole story, for you seem bound to have it. I came down here in 1850, when I was about sixty. Of course I knew what was going on, but I didn't take much interest in the war, till a lot of soldiers went by one day. They stopped here; we had a talk, and they told me a number of things that I hadn't seen in the papers. I haven't read the daily papers for thirteen years, but I take some weeklies and the magazines and buy some books. Well, the next day I went over to Eastborough Centre and asked the selectmen how much it would cost to send a man to the war. They said substitutes were bringing $150 just then, but that I was over age and couldn't be drafted, and there was no need of my sending anybody. I remarked that in my opinion a man's patriotism ought not to die out as long as he lived. It seemed to me that if a man had $150 it was his duty to pay for a substitute, if he was a hundred. The selectmen said that they had a young fellow named Lem Butters who was willing to go if he got a hundred and fifty. So I planked down the money, but with the understanding that he should take my name. Well, to make a long story short, I got killed at Gettysburg and I wrote that out as a reminder."

"Don't you ever get lonesome alone here by yourself?" Quincy asked.

"Yes," said Uncle Ike. "I am lonesome every minute of the time. That's what I came down here for. I got tired being lonesome with other people around me, so I thought I would come down here and be lonesome all by myself, and I have never been sorry I came."

Quincy opened his eyes and looked inquiringly at Uncle Ike.

"I don't quite understand what you mean by being lonesome with other people around you," said he.

"No, of course you don't," replied Uncle Ike. "You are too young. I was sixty. I was thirty-five when I got married and my wife was only twenty-two, so when I was sixty she was only forty-seven. One girl was twenty-three and the other twenty. I went to work at seven o'clock in the morning and got home at seven at night. My wife and daughters went to theatres, dinners, and parties, and of course I stayed at home and kept house with the servant girl. In my business I had taken in two young fellows as partners, both good, honest men, but soon they got to figuring that on business points they were two and I was one, and pretty soon all I had to do was to put wood on the fire and feed the office cat. So you can see I was pretty lonesome about eighteen hours out of the twenty-four."

Quincy said reflectively, "And your family—"

Uncle Ike broke in, "Are alive and well, I suppose. They don't write me and I don't write them. I told my partners they must buy me out, and I gave them sixty days to do it in. I gave my wife and daughters two-thirds of my fortune and put the other third into an annuity. I am calculating now that if my health holds good I shall beat the insurance company in the end."

Quincy, finding that his inquiries provoked such interesting replies, risked another, "Are your daughters married?"

Uncle Ike laughed quietly. "I don't read the daily papers as I said, so I don't know, but they wouldn't send me cards anyway. They know my ideas of marriage."

Quincy, smiling, asked, "Have you some new ideas on that old custom?"

"Yes, I have," replied Uncle Ike. "If two men go into business and each puts in money and they make money or don't make it, the law doesn't fix it so that they must keep together for their natural lives, but allows the firm to be dissolved by mutual consent."

"Why, sir, that would make marriage a limited partnership," said Quincy with a smile.

"What better is it now?" asked Uncle Ike. "The law doesn't compel couples to live together if they don't want to, and if they don't want to live together, why not let them, under proper restrictions, get up some new firms? Of course, there wouldn't be any objection to parties living together for their natural lives, if they wanted to, and the fact that they did would be pretty good proof that they wanted to."

Quincy started to speak, "But what—"

"I know what you were going to say," said Uncle Ike. "You are going to ask that tiresome old question, what will become of the children? Well, I should consider them part of the property on hand and divide them and the money according to law."

"But few mothers would consent to be parted from their children."

"Oh, that's nonsense," replied Uncle Ike. "I have a Massachusetts State Report here that says about five hundred children every year are abandoned by their mothers for some cause or other. They leave them on doorsteps and in railroad stations; they put them out to board and don't pay their board; and the report says that every one of these little waifs is adopted by good people, and they get a better education and a better bringing up than their own parents could or would give them. Have you ever read, Mr. Sawyer, of the Austrian baron who was crossed in love and decided he would never marry?"

Quincy shook his head.

"Well, he was wealthy and had a big castle, with no one to live in it, and during his life he adopted, educated, clothed, and sent out into the world, fitted to make their own living, more than a thousand children. To my mind, Mr. Sawyer, he was a bigger man than any emperor or king who has ever lived."

Quincy asked, "But how are you going to start such a reform, Mr. Pettengill? The first couple that got reunited on the partnership plan would be the laughing stock of the community."

"Just so," said Uncle Ike, "but I can get over that difficulty. The State of Massachusetts has led in a great many social reforms. Let it take the first step forward in this one; let it declare by law that all marriages on and after a certain day shall terminate five years from the date of marriage unless the couples wish to renew the bonds. Then let everybody laugh at everybody else if they want to."

"Well, how about those couples that were married before that day?"

"That's easy," was Uncle Ike's reply. "Give them all a chance five years after the law to dissolve by mutual consent, if they want to. Don't forget, Mr. Sawyer, that with such a law there would be no need of divorce courts, and if any man insulted a woman, imprisonment for life and even the gallows wouldn't be any too good for him. Will you stay to lunch, Mr. Sawyer? My chicken is about done."

Quincy arose and politely declined the invitation, saying he had been so much interested he had remained much longer than he had intended, but he would be pleased to call again some day if Mr. Pettengill were willing.

"Oh, yes, come any time," said Uncle Ike, "you're a good listener, and I always like a man that allows me to do most of the talking. By the way, we didn't get a chance to say much this time about shooting, fishing, or football."

Quincy went down the steps, and Uncle Ike stood at the door, as he did before he entered. Swiss looked at Quincy with an expression that seemed to say, "You have made a pretty long call." Quincy patted him on the head, called him "good dog," and walked briskly down the path towards the road. When he was about fifty feet from the house, Uncle Ike called out sharply, "Mr. Sawyer!" Quincy turned on his heel quickly and looked towards the speaker. Uncle Ike's voice, still sharp, spoke these farewell words:

"I forgot to tell you, Mr. Sawyer, that I always chloroform my chickens before I cut their heads off."

He stepped back into the house. Swiss, with a bound, was in the room beside him, and when Quincy again turned his steps towards the road the closed door had shut them both from view.



As usual, the next morning Hiram was down to the Pettengill house between nine and ten o'clock. He opened the kitchen door unobserved by Mandy and looked in at her. She was standing at the sink washing dishes and singing to herself. Suddenly Hiram gave a jump into the room and cried out in a loud voice, "How are you, Mandy?"

She dropped a tin pan that she was wiping, which fell with a clatter, breaking a plate that happened to be in the sink.

"I'm much worse, thank you," she retorted, "and none the better for seeing you. What do you mean by coming into the house and yelling like a wild Injin? I shall expect you to pay for that plate anyway."

"He who breaks pays," said Hiram with a laugh. "But why don't you shake hands with a fellow?"

"I will if I like and I won't if I like," replied Mandy, extending her hand, which was covered with soapsuds.

"Wipe your hand," said Hiram, "and I'll give you this ten cents to pay for the plate."

As he said this he extended the money towards her. Mandy did not attempt to take it, but giving her wet hand a flip threw the soapsuds full in Hiram's face. He rushed forward and caught her about the waist; as he did so he dropped the money, which rolled under the kitchen table.

Mandy turned around quickly and facing Hiram, caught him by both ears, which she pulled vigorously. He released his hold upon her and jumped back to escape further punishment.

"Now, Mr. Hiram Maxwell," said she, facing him, "what do you mean by such actions? I've a good mind to put you outdoors and never set eyes on you again. What would Mr. Pettengill have thought if he'd a come in a minute ago?"

"I guess he'd a thought that I was gittin' on better'n I really am," replied Hiram, with a crestfallen look. "Now, Mandy, don't get mad, I didn't mean nothin', I was only foolin' and you began it fust, by throwin' that dirty water in my face, and no feller that had any spunk could stand that." As he said this, a broad smile covered his face. "Say, Mandy," he continued, "here comes Obadiah Strout, we'd better make up before he gits in or it'll be all over town that you and me have been fightin'. Got any chores this mornin', Mandy, that I can do for you?"

At this moment the kitchen door was again opened and Professor Strout entered.

"Where's Pettengill?" he asked of Mandy, not noticing Hiram.

"I guess he's out in the wood-shed, if he hasn't gone somewheres else," replied Mandy, resuming her work at the sink.

Strout turned towards Hiram and said, as if he had been unaware previously of his presence, "Oh! you there, Hiram? Just go find Pettengill for me like a good feller and tell him Professor Strout wishes to see him up to the house."

"At the same time, Hiram," said Mandy, "go find me that dozen eggs that I told you I wanted for that puddin'."

Hiram winked at Mandy, unseen by the Professor and started for the chicken coop.

"Guess I'll have a chair," remarked the Professor.

"All right, if you don't take it with you when you go," replied Mandy, still busily washing dishes.

"Fine weather," said Strout.

"Sorter between," laconically replied Mandy.

"Did you enjoy the concert?" asked Strout.

"Some parts of it," said Mandy. "I thought Mr. Sawyer and Miss Putnam were just splendid. His whistling was just grand."

"He'll whistle another kind of a tune in a few days," remarked Strout.

"What? Are you going to give another concert?" asked Mandy, looking at him for the first time.

"If I do," replied the Professor, "you bet he won't be one of the performers."

"Oh, I see," said Mandy, "you're mad with him 'cause he hogged the whole show. Mr. Maxwell was just telling me as how Mr. Sawyer was going to hire the Town Hall on Washington's birthday and bring down a big brass band from Boston and give a concert that would put you in the shade, and somebody was telling me, I forget who, that Mr. Sawyer don't like to sit 'round doing nothin', and he's goin' to give music lessons."

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse