| In My Youth|
|by James Baldwin|
|A decidedly different autobiography, originally published under the pseudonym Robert Dudley, eventually revealed to be James Baldwin. A portrayal of life in rural Indiana in the middle of the 19th century it certainly is, but it is so much more. In the words of Mr. Howland, an editor for the original publisher, 'It is difficult to describe just what there is so remarkable about this book, but it is undeniably wonderful. It is literature. It is a strange combination of autobiography and fiction, and records only the simplest happenings -- the life of people in the Indiana backwoods, the primitive life, the commonplace experiences, the visits between neighbors. To tell about it in this way does not make it sound remarkable, yet it is. The style is simple and clear; there is a quiet humor running through it, and in other places the reading brings tears to the eyes.' Ages 10-12 |
AT COUSIN SALLY'S
T must have been the cow bell that woke me. I rubbed
my eyes, sat up, and in a dazed bewildered way, looked
around. It was broad daylight—yes, the sun was at
least an hour high. Some robins were singing in the
trees by the roadside; a quail was whistling his
bob-white from the topmost rail of the fence; and, at
no great distance, hens were cackling, roosters
crowing, ducks quacking. The air was filled with the
merry sounds of the morning.
There was something familiar in the appearance of the
landscape; it seemed as if I had been on that very spot
at some previous time; and yet there was a strangeness
about everything which perplexed me not a little. At
the farther end of the field there was a branch and a
little "spring-house," and just beyond these there was
an orchard which I felt sure I had seen before. Then,
at the end of the orchard, I discerned a house—yes,
two log cabins, a large one and a small one standing
end to end—a so-called double house of a kind that
was not uncommon in the New Settlement. The smoke was
curling up from the chimney of the little cabin, and I
guessed that the people inside were getting breakfast.
It seemed to me that I had always known those people,
and yet I could not remember their names.
"What does it matter?" said Inviz, gently pulling me
 back into our cozy nest of hay. "Let us rest here a
Very faint and weak, I cuddled down again and was just
closing my eyes for another nap when the cow bell began
to rattle more loudly than before, and I heard a shrill
but not unmusical voice calling out in commanding
"Hi there, Bossy! Git up, Billy. It's milkin' time. Hi!
I was sure that I knew that voice, for there was not
another like it in the whole world. So I raised myself
up again, and looking over the low fence, I saw its
owner—a red-cheeked, round-faced young woman with a
little pink sunbonnet on her head and a long stick in
her hand. She was barefooted, as young women generally
were in that distant age, and her short linsey-woolsey
dress was not cut according to any modern fashion. But
I recognized her immediately as on of the neatest,
busiest, kindest, happiest creatures that God had ever
"O Cousin Sally! Cousin Sally!" I called, waving my
arms but utterly unable to rise from my resting-place.
The maiden looked around, perplexed, alarmed, unable to
locate the voice she had heard; and then I called
again: "Here I am, Cousin Sally—here in the hay."
She saw me and for one moment stood still in dumb
surprise, her hands uplifted, her mouth open, her eyes
wildly gazing. The next moment she had scaled the fence
and was bending over me.
"Goodness, gracious me! Is it thee, Robbie? How in the
world did thee git here?"
I had barely strength enough to stammer something
 about going to Old Enoch's and getting lost in the
woods and lying down here to rest.
"Goodness, gracious me!" she repeated. "So thee got
lost in the big woods, did thee? And how lucky thee was
to git out again!"
And then, although she must have kept on talking, I
heard not another word, but was dimly conscious that
she was taking me gently in her arms, that she was
lifting me up, that she was carrying me and running as
fast as she could to the double log house at the end of
the orchard. How safe, how happy I felt, with her
strong chubby arms around me, and my head pillowed
softly against her ample bosom!
"Mother! mother!" I heard her cry, as she finally
reached the door of the smaller cabin. "See who's here!
See what I found in the medder! See who's come to visit
us, so early in the morning!"
Ah! I knew no whose house this was; for, from her
dishwashing by the hearth, came the dearest, the best
of all my numerous aunts—good old Aunt Nancy Evans,
blessed be her memory!
"Oh, is it Robert" she cried. "Is it our little Robert?
How did it happen, Sally? How did it happen?"
And she took me from her daughter's arms, and carried
me inside, and sat down in her big rocking chair,
holding me lovingly in her lap. I heard them talking in
half-whispers while Cousin Sally bustled around in the
most wonderful way that could be imagined. She brought
warm water and clean towels, and washed my dust-covered
face and bathed my bleeding arms and legs and my
bruised and wounded feet.
"And just see how his shirt's teared clean off of him,"
 "He shall have another one," said Aunt Nancy. "Thee
look in the bottom bureau drawer, Sally. Thee knows
what's there. Thy little brother William was jist about
Robert's age when he was took away from us, and that
was more than thirty years ago. Ah, me! What a big man
he would have been if he had lived till now!"
"Yes, mother," answered Cousin Sally. "Little William's
clothes is all in the bottom drawer where thee's kept
'em—all ironed smooth, and lapped up, and sprinkled
with camfire, as thee knows. Thee's been very keerful
of 'em these thirty years, mother."
"Indeed I have," returned her mother, "and now the time
has come for 'em to do some good. Little William never
wore 'em but once, and they're as nice and clean and
sweet as if they was new only yesterday. Thee go and
git 'em, Sally, and we'll put the little shirt and the
little britches on Robbie, and after a while he may
have the little robin on, too."
And so, in a short time, I was divested of my own
wrecked and ruined wardrobe and was clad in the
beautiful, soft, brand-new shirt and breeches of Little
William Evans who had been in his grave so many, many
years. Then Cousin Sally carried me into the
"big-house," a nice, cool, airy place, and laid me on a
beautiful trundle-bed which had also been Little
"Now, thee take a good little snooze," she said
soothingly; "and when thee wakes up, thee may have
something good to eat."
Oh, the joy of lying there between the whitest of white
sheets and listening to the "tick, tock" of the old
wall clock and knowing that two good women were close
at hand, doing all in their power to make me
 and happy! I lay there very quietly, not suffering any
pain and still not feeling strong enough to sit up; and
soon Inviz, that rogue who always deserted me at the
critical moment, came silently from nowhere and cuddled
down beside me.
"I wonder what they will do at home without any fire,"
"Father will strike a fire with his flint and tinder,"
I answered. "Yes, he must have struck a fire last night—else
how could they get any supper?"
"Oh, but they'll give thee a good trouncin' when thee
gets home," said Inviz. "They'll all be mad 'cause
thee's made so much trouble for everybody. And they'll
scold 'cause thee didn't bring the fire."
"Well, Aunt Nancy and Cousin Sally, they will never
scold me, I know;" and thus comforting myself, I fell
It was past noon when I awoke. Some one was moving
softly near the trundle-bed, and when I opened my eyes,
I saw the ruddy face of Cousin Sally bending over me
like the full moon.
"Well, I guess thee's had a good nap," she said. "Thee
needn't git up. I'll jist prop some pillers under thee,
and then thee may have a little somethin' to eat."
She ran into the "little-house," which was the kitchen,
and soon returned with the most savory dish that she
knew how to prepare—the leg and breast of a fried
spring chicken, with creamed gravy and a bit of
buttered toast. What a breakfast that was! The very
thought of it makes my mouth water to this very day.
And Aunt Nancy, with her knitting in her hand, came in
to see me eat it and to remark how well I looked, all
dressed up in Little William's shirt and breeches I was
hun-  gry that I could have eaten two chickens and twice as much
toast; but Cousin Sally said I must save myself for
dinner, and when I had drunk a glass of new milk she
persuaded me to lie down and take another nap.
The nap proved to be a short one, however, for soon I
was aroused by hearing a chorus of voices outside the
door. Cousin Sally was talking very fast, as was her
custom when she had something to say; and several other
persons seemed to be asking questions and making brief
remarks and ejaculating various sorts of wonder phrases
in the most excited manner. I sat up in the bed and
listened. I heard a husky voice that sounded like
David's, then a treble like Jonathan's, and then I
distinctly recognized the shrill twang of Cousin Mandy
Jane's falsetto as she uttered her favoried "Sakes
alive!" There was a slight pause in the general hubbub,
and a kind voice said, "Let's keep very quiet and let
him sleep as long as he will."
"Mother!" I screamed; and with one bound I was out of
bed and running to the door. And there, in the yard, I
saw our whole family, while just outside the gate stood
the big farm wagon with the plow horses hitched to it.
"Mother!" I cried again, as I leaped down the steps;
and the next moment I was surrounded by the entire
Everybody was smiling in a most unaccountable way, and
even David seemed glad to see me. Mother patted me
gently on the head and looked very tenderly into my
eyes. You think, of course, that she kissed me; but she
didn't Kissing was not a habit in our family; it was
considered a foolish and worldly performance, an act
which, if not positively wicked, was exceedingly
unbecoming and improper at all times. Never in my life
 was it mine to experience the bliss of having my
mother's lips pressed to my own.
But the gentle pat on the head was as good as a kiss;
and my joy was complete when she drew me close to her
and said, "O Robert, how glad I am to see thee alive
Then father reached down his great hand and took hold
of mine—very softly, for it was scarred and swollen—and in strange tremulous tones he said, "Thee seems to
have had a narrow escape, Robert. Let us be thankful to
Him that preserved and guided thee through the perils
of the night."
"Yes," said David gruffly, but eager to touch the hem
of my garment, "thee's put the rest of us to a right
smart sight of trouble, Towhead. The next time thee
gits lost in the woods, thee needn't 'spect me to go
out a-huntin' for thee."
Cousin Mandy Jane had hard work to restrain herself,
and I verily believe that if no one had been looking,
she would have kissed me. She threw her arms around me,
much to my shame, and squeezed me most unmercifully.
"Sakes alive, Bobbie," she exclaimed, "how I did worry
about thee! I've wished a thousand thousand times that
I'd gone after that pesky fire myself."
"Tell us all about it, Robert," said Jonathan, throwing
himself down on the grass beside me.
And then in answer to numerous questions I told them
the whole story of my first fright and my wild
wandering through the forest. But I said nothing about
the fearful creatures that had kept me in a continuous
state of alarm, nor of the Old Feller lying in wait for
me in dreadful places, nor yet indeed of the cheerful
companionship of Inviz, without which I should indeed
 been hopelessly lost. I knew that they could not
understand, so why excite their ridicule?
We sat together on the long bench beside the big-house
door, mother on one side of me and Cousin Mandy Jane on
the other; and my heart grew big with pride when it
occurred to me that I—the youngest and smallest of
the household—was the cause of all this talk and all
these doings. There had been an adventure, and I,
Robert Dudley, was the hero. I had had a hard time of
it, but now I was having my reward.
Father reckoned that I must have traveled at least ten
miles in the big forest and along the lonely road
before reaching Aunt Nancy's hay-field. And he told how
they had gone early into the woods with lanterns and
torches; how they had alarmed the neighbors, and how
even the two Enochs had joined them and sought
unweariedly through all the dark hours of the night.
Just how they had finally learned of my whereabouts, I
did not hear, but Cousin Sally told me afterward that
it was she herself who carried them the news. As soon
as she had seen me cozily ensconced in Little William's
trundle-bed, she had mounted the gray colt, barebacked,
and ridden post-haste by the nearest pathways to our
place, five miles distant. Then, having delivered her
message, she had flown home again like the wind,
arriving in time to prepare the marvelous breakfast.
Oh, what a glorious thing it is to be a hero and have
everybody talking about you! Thus my vanity was being
fed at an early age.
Cousin Sally's dinner was late that day, but its
quality made ample amends for its lack of timeliness.
The table was spread in the little-house. The cloth was
 home-made linen, snowy white. The dishes were of choice
"chany ware," intermingled with pieces of yellow
pottery, shining pewter plates, and necessary articles
of tin. And the viands—O my dear Leonidas, my dear
Leona, if you live to be as old as the megatherium you
will never see anything that can be compared with the
array of fried chicken and creamed gravy, of snow-white
biscuits right out of the big baking skillet, of pies
and cakes, of preserves and jams, of hot roasting-ears,
of sassafras tea, of pitchers of new milk, of patties
of yellow butter. The table fairly groaned under the
weight of all these good things, and the mouths of the
guests watered in anticipation.
Being the hero of the day, I was given the place of
honor at the right hand of the rosy-faced hostess. I
sat in a special high-chair that had been made for
Little William so many long years before; I ate from
Little William's pewter plate which was polished to a
silvery brightness and had the letters of the alphabet
stamped in relief all round its edge; and I drank from
Little William's chany mug which had a picture of the
foolish milkmaid on one side, and the words "Be a good
boy" on the other.
When all were seated, Cousin Sally and her mother began
to put things in motion.
"Now, all of you, jist help yourselves," said Aunt
Nancy. "pore folks like us can't offer you much, but
you're welcome to what you see."
"Uncle Stephen, try some of the punkin pie," said
Cousin Sally; "and here's some apple pie, and some
custard. Take a piece of each kind."
"Help thyself to the plum jelly," said Aunt Nancy.
 "It's good with fried chicken—most as good as the
cranberries we used to git in the 'Hio Country. Have
some blackberry jam, too."
And then the requests to help one's self to this and
that and the other multiplied and were continued until
every plate was heaped to its utmost capacity. Oh, but
that was a dinner to be remembered through the longest
lifetime! And yet it was only a sample of what Cousin
Sally was in the habit of setting before her visitors.
The guests ate and ate till they could eat no longer,
and still they were pressed by their solicitous
"Thee ain't eatin' anything, David. I'm afraid thee
don't like pore folks's cookin'. Have another leg of
fried chicken. Hand thy mug for another helpin' of
milk. Try a little more of the grape jam, Mandy Jane.
Come, have a little more of the stewed punkin! Why, if
thee don't eat more, thee'll faint before thee has a
chance to git another meal."
At length the famous dinner was over. The guests arose.
Father and the boys went out to get the horses ready
for the return trip home. The womenfolks, in gossipy
mood, set themselves to clearing the table and washing
the dishes—and where four such renowned experts were
engaged, this labor was performed with miraculous
swiftness. Within less than an hour the interior of the
little-house had resumed its usual aspect of
cleanliness and quiet. The pots and skillets were again
in their places, the chany cups and saucers and plates
were upon their favored shelf in the corner cupboard,
the great table had mysteriously disappeared, the
chairs were arranged in a stiff orderly row against the
wall, the broad hearth had been swept and garnished.
 "The sun is getting low," cried father from the open
gate; "we must be going at once, or else the night will
There was a short consultation with Cousin Sally,
supplemented by a few urgent words from Aunt Nancy, and
then it was announced that mother and I would not go
home with the rest—that we would have a little visit
with our relatives until the end of the week.
"Robert is purty puny with all the traipsin' he done
through the woods," said Cousin Sally. "It will do him
a right smart lot of good to stay here and rest three
or four days."
Father gave his assent—somewhat reluctantly, I
thought; and the wagon went rattling down the road,
carrying only Cousin Mandy Jane and the men-folks back
to the dear old home at the center of the world. Mother
and Aunt Nancy, with their yarn and their knitting, sat
down on the long bench by the door, to enjoy the balmy
evening air and recall sweet memories of former days in
their old girlhood home in Carliny; and Cousin Sally,
with a shining milk pail on her arm, cried cheerily to
me, "Come, Robert, don't thee want to go down the lane
with me to see the new calf?"
My feet were still sore, my back was stiff, my hands
were swollen from the bruises and scratches they had
received, and my head was heavy. I had no interest in
new calves, and I felt much more like going to bed than
walking down the dusty lane. But how could any one
refuse so hearty an invitation?
"Come, Robbie, it ain't fur," she said; and so,
somewhat merrily, somewhat wearily, we went together to
the milking place; and while she sat on a stool and
filled the pail with foaming milk from old Bossie's
en-  tertained me with varied remarks on many interesting
"And only think, Bobbie," she said, "this is Fourth-day
evening and thee is to stay with me till Seventh-day
evening—three whole days! Oh, won't we have fun?"
But instead of three whole days, it proved to be three
whole weeks. For, all through that night, mother heard
me talking aloud to Inviz; and the next morning I had a
raging fever, and when Cousin Sally came to look at me
I fancied that it was Old Enoch grinning from the
chimney corner, and then that it was the Old Feller
going to carry me away to the bad place. After that,
for I can not tell how many days, I had no
consciousness of anything. Mother sat by me constantly;
and father came every day with saddened face and shook
his head despairingly; and the doctor came and felt my
pulse and gave me bitter medicine; and David came and
peeped in at the door and then went away, muttering
"Poor Towhead"; and Cousin Sally and her mother went
about the house on tiptoe, talking in whispers; and I,
although my body lay helpless and suffering in Little
William's trundle-bed, was far away in a strange land
where I neither heard nor saw any of them.
At length, however, the crisis was passed, the fever
left me, and I woke up—my mind alert and clear,
although I had hardly strength enough to raise my hand.
Then came days and days of convalescence—every
morning a little better, every evening a little
stronger. It was a great event when I could sit up in
Little William's chair and look out of the door. It was
a momentous event when I grew strong enough to walk,
with mother's help, from the big-house to the
little-house. And after that, things moved along
 Sometimes, on fine days, I walked with Cousin Sally as
far as the spring-house. Sometimes we went a little
farther, to a shallow pool where there were blue flags
and cattails and yellow water-lilies. But we found our
greatest pleasure under the apple trees and on the
bench by the big-house door. There, while she carded
wool, or shelled peas, or sewed upon some new garment,
Cousin Sally would entertain me with her always
vivacious chatter; and sometimes we read stories from
the Bible—she listening and I reading—or we amused
ourselves with conning over the bright squibs in the
"There's another book in the loft somewhere," she said
one day. "It's full of funny pieces about animals and
boys and kings and all sorts of things. Thee'd be
tickled to death to read some of 'em, I know."
"I wish thee'd find it for me," I said eagerly. "What's
the name of it?"
"I don't exactly know its name," she answered, "but
it's some kind of reader. I'll go right now, and see if
I can lay hold of it."
So she dropped her sewing upon the bench and climbed
the ladder into the loft of the big-house. It was very
dark up there, and I could hear her moving carefully
about, lifting boards and boxes, and turning things
over in quite a general way. By and by, she came
down—a ludicrous object covered with dust and cobwebs, her
dress torn, her hair in tangled masses down her back.
"I reckon I got it, anyhow," she said triumphantly; and
she showed me a chubby little volume so thickly coated
with grime that neither its title nor the color of its
binding could be distinguished. "Don't tetch it. Jist
wait a minute."
She ran into the little-house where I soon heard her
 brushing and rubbing, and talking excitedly to herself,
or to another Inviz of her own acquaintance. Presently
she returned, very much improved in appearance, and put
the book in my hands. She had brushed it quite clean,
and its bright blue cover, but slightly discolored with
age, gave it an attractive appearance. I read the
title: "The Little Reader or The Child's First Book, by
J. Olney, A.M."
I opened it and began to read. As I turned page after
page my pleasure grew. Here were stories of a kind I
had never seen before, delightful little pieces, some
very amusing, some instructive and all very easy for a
lad who had already wrestled with George Fox's Journal.
Cousin Sally listened with rapt attention and now and
then she exclaimed with emphasis:
"Goodness, gracious me! I never knowed any book was as
funny as that!"
Somewhere near the middle of the book I came to a poem
which amused us both so much that I read it over and
over with increasing relish until we knew it by heart.
It was entitled, if I remember rightly, The Great Black
Crow; and for days afterward, whenever we saw one of
those sable birds, we found intense delight in calling
to him and repeating in concert this verse:
"The crow, the crow, the great black crow!
He never gets drunk on rain or snow—
He never gets drunk, but he never says, No!
If you ask him to tipple ever so,—
So, so, you great black crow,
It's an honor to drink like a great black crow!"
"I wish I could borrow this book when I go home," I
 "Borry it!" exclaimed Cousin Sally. "No, I reckon thee
cain't, for I won't lend it to nobody. But I'll give it
to thee for thy very own, to keep and to hold till thee
And thus the fifth volume was added to my little
At length I progressed so well and grew so strong that
mother said it was foolish for us to stay longer at
Aunt Nancy's. And so, when father came over in the big
wagon, it was decided that we should return home with
him; the long rough journey would not harm me, they
said, and mother was anxious to be at her weaving and
her housekeeping again. There was a great hurrying and
bustling, especially on the part of Cousin Sally; and
many tears of downright sorrow were shed. But in the
midst of the grieving I felt a secret joy that I should
soon be home again among my books and my little friends
of the fields and woods.
And now, my dear Leonidas, my dear Leona, if you have
any doubts of the truth of this narrative, open the
bottom drawer of my bureau and look in the pasteboard
box which you will find in the left-hand corner. There
you will see, all wrapped in tissue-paper, a funny
little vest of figured calico, worn threadbare in
places, and yellow with age. That was once Little
William's vest, and it belonged to the suit in which I
was arrayed on that eventful day.
"Thee may have Little William's clothes for thy own,"
said dear Aunt Nancy. "It's no use for me to keep 'em,
for he won't need 'em any more, and they'll be so nice
for thee. Thee must take good care of 'em, and save 'em
to wear to meetin'—and they'll last thee a long, long
 It was, indeed, a wonderful suit, and I swelled with
vanity as I contemplated myself, transformed, as many
others have been through theirs, by my clothing; and
when Cousin Sally whispered in my ear, "Thee looks
tur'ble fine," I was ready to burst with
self-importance. The breeches were of blue "flannen,"
home-made and home-dyed, and they were cut large and
long; the robin, or short jacket, was of the same
material with a row of horm buttons down the front; the
shirt was of linen, made from flax grown by Little
William's father and spun and woven by his mother; and
the little figured vest of precious calico was the
climax, the ne plus ultra, the crown of excellence
which gave dignity and completeness to the whole.
"I declare! thee looks just like Little William did,
the first and only time that he ever wore 'em," said
Aunt Nancy; and mother tremblingly expressed the same
And then came the time for farewells.
"Farewell, Robert! Thee must come soon and see they
pore kin again," said the aunt.
And Cousin Sally put her fat arms around me with such
fervency that I blushed for shame. "Farewell, Robbie!
I'll be over to see thee at quart'ly meetin' time."
Then I climbed into the wagon and cuddled down in the bed of soft straw that had been
prepared for me. Father and mother took their places on
the driver's seat; there were more farewells and more
tears and more invitations to come and see our pore
kin; and then the commanding word was given, and we
were off. Looking back, I could see a fat arm and a
chubby red hand waving a pink sunbonnet, in much the
same frantic manner
 that genteeler hands, nowadays, flaunt their costly
lace handkerchiefs in the breeze at the outgoing of
every Atlantic steamer. And far down the road, I
fancied I heard the echoing cry: "Farewell, Robert! Be
a good boy. . . . Farewell,
Robert . . . Robert—bert—bert!"
My invisible playmate had not been with me once since
my illness; but now as we were driving through the
woods, he leaped suddenly into the wagon and lay down
on the straw beside me.
"I'm glad thee is going home," he said; "for now we
shall have great fun in the fields and clearings, just
as we did before the fire went out."
"But it was very nice at Aunt Nancy's," I answered. "I
mean that it would have been nice if I had not been
sick. And aunt and cousin were both so good!"
"Just think of the books—how long thee has been away
from them," said Inviz. "They'll be glad to see thee."
"Yes, and I have another one to put with them. He is a
funny fellow, and I think that even George Fox will
laugh at him;" and I put my hand in my pocket to make
sure that the Little Reader was still there.
And thus, lying side by side in the comforting straw,
we talked and made plans for the future and consoled
each other until I fell asleep. And when I awoke we
were at home.
No sentiment was wasted because of my happy return.
There was a tacit rule in our household that no one
should ever make a show of his emotions; and so, when I
resumed my place and occupation, it was as though I had
been absent only an hour or two. There were no words of
greeting, no expressions of pleasure, no glad welcomes
at the door. And yet, before the end of the
 evening, each member of the family had contrived in
some way to manifest the kindly love that had been
stirred by my adventures and long absence.
As I was standing on a chair and putting my new book on
the shelf with the older ones, Cousin Mandy Jane came
shyly to my side and dropped a hot doughnut into my
"It's thine, Robbie," she said. "I cooked it a-purpose
for thee. Don't let anybody see thee eat it."
And presently Jonathan, coming to the door, beckoned me
to follow him to the small outbuilding which we called
"the shop," and in which father worked often at night,
making chairs and tables and the like. I went,
wondering what he wished to show me.
He closed the door behind us and then from a shelf
above the work bench he took something that looked like
a small wooden cross, except that all the four parts
were of the same length.
"Towhead, does thee see this?" he said. "It's a
windmill. I whittled it out with my knife, and father
showed me how to put it together. Jist look how it runs
when I blow on it." Then he puffed against it with all
the breath he coul summon, and it actually began to
turn on its axis.
"And thee ought to see how it whizzes round in the wind
when thee holds it right," he continued. "To-morrow
thee can see."
I looked at it admiringly. It was not more than five
inches in diameter, and it was clumsily made; but I had
never seen anything like it, and it pleased me greatly.
"What is thee goin' to do with it, Jonathan?" I asked.
"Why, it's thine," he said. "I made it for thee. Put it
in thy pocket, and to-morrow thee can play with it."
 When, at length, the evening's work was finished, we
all gathered around the hearth, as usual, to listen to
the chapter. Mother lighted a new candle and set it
upon the candlestand; Cousin Mandy Jane looked at me
with an odd wink, as though she would caution me about
that doughnut; and there was a grin on David's fuzzy
face which I was puzzled to understand.
Then, all being seated, father in his gentlest tones
said: "Robert, thee is big enough now to take David's
place. Thee may fetch me the Book."
Oh, what an honor I felt that to be! In the short space
of a minute, my stature was visibly increased. I rose,
trembling with excitement, tripped lightly across the
floor, and place the candlestand, with its candle and
the precious volume, in its usual position between
father's knees. Then, abashed but triumphant, I sat
down at mother's feet.
Father opened the Book, and I noticed that his hand
trembled a little as he turned the leaves. When he
found the desired chapter, he cleared his throat,
paused, and then began to read in that wonderful way of
which I have told you. And he read—not of an angry
and vengeful Jehovah, nor of intriguing priests or
wailing prophets, nor yet of Egypt or Babylon—but of
a certain man who had a hundred sheep, one of which
went astray; and behold, after he had sought far and
wide and found the lost one, there was great rejoicing
over it—yes, much more rejoicing than over the ninety
and nine which went not astray.
He closed the Book, there was an interval of silence,
and I returned the candlestand to its place.
"Say, Towhead," spoke up David somewhat harshly, "it's
been a right smart spell since thee done any work.
 Come out, now, and help me git the kindlin's for
I was so happy that I was ready to help at anything.
So, after he had lighted the old tin lantern I followed
him to the wood-pile. The kindlings had already been
prepared, and needed only to be carried in; but David
did not stop there.
"Come down to the cowshed, and I'll show thee somethin'
that will make thee jump out of thy skin," he said.
"What is it, David?"
"Oh, I'll show thee."
He went inside the cowshed, and after a little fumbling
around, brought out a wooden box, some ten inches
square, with a netting of wire across one end.
"Jist thee look in there, Towhead," he said.
I thought of rats, and imagined that David was trying
to play a trick on me. Moreover, the light from the
lantern was so dim that when I tried to look through
the netting, nothing was visible.
"I'll show thee," said David. And opening the other end
of the box, he reached in and brought out two
beautiful, half-grown squirrels. They were quite tame,
and at once leaped upon his shoulder and sat there,
waiting for the tidbits which they knew he would give
"O David! David!" I cried.
"Squeerels, Towhead, squeerels!" he said in delighted
tones. "I ketched 'em the next day after thee got lost.
And they're thine, Towhead. I've give 'em to thee."
"For my very own, David?"
"Yes; for thy very own. This one, his name's Esau,
'cause he's hairy an' red, like the feller in the
Bible. An' this grayer one, his name's Jacob, 'cause
he's sharp an' graspin', an' always gittin' mor'n his
 "Who named them, David?"
"Well, I guess father did. He kinder give me some
hints, but he said I mustn't tell nobody."
"Oh, I'm so glad, David!" and I put my hand in his
great rough palm.
"Well, I reckon thee ain't the onliest one," he said.
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