AS PERRY SAW IT
 ONE by one the days passed, and there came from the anxious
watchers at David's bedside only the words, "There's very little
change." Often Jack Gurnsey went to the farmhouse to inquire for
the boy. Often, too, he saw Perry Larson; and Perry was never
loath to talk of David. It was from Perry, indeed, that Gurnsey
began to learn some things of David that he had never known
"It does beat all," Perry Larson said to him one day, "how many
folks asks me how that boy is—folks that you'd never think knew
him, anyhow, ter say nothin' of carin' whether he lived or died.
Now, there's old Mis' Somers, fur instance. You know what she
is—sour as a lemon an' puckery as a chokecherry. Well, if she
did n't give me yesterday a great bo-kay o' posies she'd growed
herself, an' said they was fur him—that they berlonged ter him,
" 'Course, I did n't exactly sense what she
 meant by that, so I
asked her straight out; an' it seems that somehow, when the boy
first come, he struck her place one day an' spied a great big red
rose on one of her bushes. It seems he had his fiddle, an' he,
'played it'—that rose a-growin' (you know his way!), an' she
heard an' spoke up pretty sharp an' asked him what in time he was
doin'. Well, most kids would 'a' run,—knowin' her temper as they
does,—but not much David. He stands up as pert as ye please, an'
tells her how happy that red rose must be ter make all that
dreary garden look so pretty; an' then he goes on, merry as a
lark, a-playin' down the hill.
"Well, Mis' Somers owned up ter me that she was pretty mad at the
time, 'cause her garden did look like tunket, an' she knew it.
She said she had n't cared ter do a thing with it since her
Bessie died that thought so much of it. But after what David had
said, even mad as she was, the thing kind o' got on her nerves,
an' she could n't see a thing, day or night, but that red rose
a-growin' there so pert an' courageous-like, until at last, jest
ter quiet herself, she fairly had ter set to an' slick that
garden up! She said she raked an' weeded, an' fixed up all
 the plants there was, in good shape, an' then she sent down to
the Junction fur some all growed in pots, 'cause 't was too late
ter plant seeds. An, now it's doin' beautiful, so she jest could
n't help sendin' them posies ter David. When I told Mis' Holly,
she said she was glad it happened, 'cause what Mis' Somers needed
was somethin' ter git her out of herself—an' I'm free ter say
she did look better-natured, an' no mistake,—kind o' like a
chokecherry in blossom, ye might say."
"An' then there's the Widder Glaspell," continued Perry, after a
pause. " 'Course, any one would expect she'd feel bad, seein' as
how good David was ter her boy—teachin' him ter play, ye know.
But Mis' Glaspell says Joe jest does take on somethin' turrible,
an' he won't tech the fiddle, though he was plum carried away
with it when David was well an' teachin' of him. An' there's the
Clark kid. He's lame, ye know, an' he thought the world an' all
of David's playin'.
" 'Course, there's you an' Miss Holbrook, always askin' an'
sendin' things—but that ain't so strange, 'cause you was
'specially his friends. But it's them others what beats me.
 Why, some days it's 'most ev'ry soul I meet, jest askin' how he
is, an' sayin' they hopes he'll git well. Sometimes it's kids
that he's played to, an' I'll be triggered if one of 'em one day
did n't have no excuse to offer except that David had fit
him—'bout a cat, or somethin'—an' that ever since then he'd
thought a heap of him—though he guessed David did n't know it.
Listen ter that, will ye!
"An' once a woman held me up, an' took on turrible, but all I
could git from her was that he'd sat on her doorstep an' played
ter her baby once or twice;—as if that was anythin'! But one of
the derndest funny ones was the woman who said she could wash her
dishes a sight easier after she'd a-seen him go by playin'. There
was Bill Dowd, too. You know he really has got a screw loose in
his head somewheres, an' there ain't any one but what says he's
the town fool, all right. Well, what do ye think he said?"
Mr. Jack shook his head.
"Well, he said he did hope as how nothin' would happen ter that
boy, 'cause he did so like ter see him smile, an' that he always
 smile every time he met him! There, what do ye think o'
"Well, I think, Perry," returned.Mr. Jack soberly, "that Bill
Dowd was n't playing the fool, when he said that, quite so much
as he sometimes is, perhaps."
"Hm-m, maybe not," murmured Perry Larson perplexedly. "Still, I'm
free ter say I do think 't was kind o' queer." He paused, then
slapped his knee suddenly. "Say, did I tell ye about
Streeter—Old Bill Streeter an' the pear tree?"
Again Mr. Jack shook his head.
"Well, then, I'm goin' to," declared the other, with gleeful
emphasis. "An', say, I don't believe even you can explain this—I
don't! Well, you know Streeter—ev'ry one does, so I ain't sayin'
nothin' sland'rous. He was cut on a bias, an' that bias runs ter
money every time. You know as well as I do that he won't lift his
finger unless there's a dollar stickin' to it, an' that he hain't
no use fur anythin' nor anybody unless there's money in it for
him. I'm blamed if I don't think that if he ever gits ter heaven,
he'll pluck his own wings an' sell the feathers fur what they'll
 "Oh, Perry!" remonstrated Mr. Jack, in a half-stifled voice.
Perry Larson only grinned and went on imperturbably.
"Well, seein' as we both understand what he is, I'll tell ye what
he done. He called me up ter his fence one day, big as life, an'
says he, 'How's the boy?' An' you could 'a' knocked me down with
a feather. Streeter—a-askin' how a boy was that was sick! An' he
seemed ter care, too. I hain't seen him look so longfaced
since—since he was paid up on a sartin note I knows of, jest as
he was smackin' his lips over a nice fat farm that was comin' to
"Well, I was that plum puzzled that I meant ter find out why
Streeter was takin' sech notice, if I hung fur it. So I set to on
a little detective work of my own, knowin', of course, that 't
wa'n't no use askin' of him himself. Well, an' what do you s'pose
I found out? If that little scamp of a boy had n't even got round
him—Streeter, the skinflint! He had—an' he went there often,
the neighbors said; an' Streeter doted on him. They declared that
actually he give him a cent once—though that part I ain't
 "They said—the neighbors did—that it all started from the pear
tree—that big one ter the left of his house. Maybe you remember
it. Well, anyhow, it seems that it's old, an' through bearin' any
fruit, though it still blossoms fit ter kill, every year, only a
little late 'most always, an' the blossoms stay on longer'n
common, as if they knew there wa'n't nothin' doin' later. Well,
old Streeter said it had got ter come down. I reckon he suspected
it of swipin' some of the sunshine, or maybe a little rain that
belonged ter the tree t'other side of the road what did bear
fruit an' was worth somethin'! Anyhow, he got his man an' his
axe, an' was plum ready ter start in when he sees David an' David
" 'T was when the boy first come. He'd gone ter walk an' had
struck this pear tree, all in bloom,—an' 'course, you know how
the boy would act—a pear tree, bloomin', is a likely sight, I'll
own. He danced and laughed and clapped his hands,—he did n't
have his fiddle with him,—an' carried on like all possessed.
Then he sees the man with the axe, an' Streeter; an' Streeter sees
"They said it was rich then—Bill Warner
 heard it all from
t'other side of the fence. He said that David, when he found out
what was goin' ter happen, went clean crazy, an' rampaged on at
such a rate that old Streeter could n't do nothin' but stand an'
stare, until he finally managed ter growl out: 'But I tell ye,
boy, the tree ain't no use no more!'
"Bill says the boy flew all to pieces then. 'No use—no use!' he
cries; 'such a perfectly beautiful thing as that no use! Why, it
don't have ter be any use when it's so pretty. It's jest ter look
at an' love, an' be happy with!' Fancy sayin' that ter old
Streeter! I'd like ter seen his face. But Bill says that wa'n't
half what the boy said. He declared that 't was God's present,
anyhow, that trees was; an' that the things He give us ter look
at was jest as much use as the things He give us ter eat; an'
that the stars an' the sunsets an' the snowflakes an' the little
white cloud-boats, an' I don't know what-all, was jest as
important in the Orchestra of Life as turnips an' squashes. An'
then, Billy says, he ended by jest flingin' himself on ter
Streeter an' beggin' him ter wait till he could go back an' git
his fiddle so he could tell him what a beautiful thing that tree
 "Well, if you'll believe it, old Streeter was so plum befuzzled
he sent the man an' the axe away—an' that tree's a-livin'
ter-day—'t is!" he finished; then, with a sudden gloom on his
face, Larson added, huskily: "An' I only hope I'll be sayin' the
same thing of that boy—come next month at this time!"
"We'll hope you will," sighed the other fervently.
And so one by one the days passed, while the whole town waited
and while in the great airy "parlor bedroom" of the Holly
farmhouse one small boy fought his battle for life. Then came the
blackest day and night of all when the town could only wait and
watch—it had lost its hope; when the doctors shook their heads
and refused to meet Mrs. Holly's eyes; when the pulse in the slim
wrist outside the coverlet played hide-and-seek with the cool,
persistent fingers that sought so earnestly for it; when Perry
Larson sat for uncounted sleepless hours by the kitchen stove,
and fearfully listened for a step crossing the hallway; when Mr.
Jack on his porch, and Miss Holbrook in her tower window, went
with David down into the dark valley, and came so near the
 that life, with its petty prides and prejudices,
could never seem quite the same to them again.
Then, after that blackest day and night, came the dawn—as the
dawns do come after the blackest of days and nights. In the
slender wrist outside the coverlet the pulse gained and steadied.
On the forehead beneath the nurse's fingers, a moisture came. The
doctors nodded their heads now, and looked every one straight in
the eye. "He will live," they said. "The crisis is passed." Out
by the kitchen stove Perry Larson heard the step cross the hall
and sprang upright; but at the first glimpse of Mrs. Holly's
tear-wet, yet radiant face, he collapsed limply.
"Gosh!" he muttered. "Say, do you know, I did n't s'pose I did
care so much! I reckon I'll go an' tell Mr. Jack. He'll want ter
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics