페이지 이미지

enough established to be “quaint.” Every one disliked and despised him for They argued with him, telling him he his queer ways. Neighbors who were was Freeport's leading citizen and urging light sleepers would hear him on his beat him not to injure them by being queer. and mutter, “Old Owens, out worrying And because his foot hurt so much he about his money; pity the old fool can't wanted them to go away, he finally stay

in bed at this hour!”—and none of promised to give up the fish business. them felt sorry for him, for did he not

So Freeport's leading citizen tried to have more money than he knew what to lie abed mornings. But the trouble was, do with? None of them saw any pity all through his years he had felt so re in this broken connection between his lieved at finding himself awake. Always money and his feeling about money. there had moved just under sleep that One morning, in a room off Josie's awful idea that he might not be able to bedroom, he found a dress which had wake up. So he not only continued to come home and not been unpacked. He wake, but continued to feel he had lifted the


and looked at it. It was averted catastrophe, and on that feeling stuffed out as if there were a form within. he always got right up. Now he tried to It seemed unbearably useless, as if it stay in bed, even though he was awake. were just made--and boughtto go over He fought a good fight, but he couldn't paper stuffing. He tiptoed into Josie's win it. He would get up and prowl room and opened the door and looked round the house, trying not to be heard, at the dresses. Rows and rows of them for he disliked discussion of his ways. -and now she had bought another! He would see things about the house Josie lay there asleep, turned from him. that distressed him and he didn't have He wanted to talk to her. He sat in a the fish to turn to. Though one morning, chair before the closet door, hoping she after finding three empty champagne-' would wake. It must be said for him bottles in the billiard-room, he did go that he never thought of waking herdown and watch a tall Swede take fish sleep was to him too escaping a thing to off the four-o'clock train. He followed bring any one from it. But he couldn't him as far as the market, watched him sit there any longer in the stillness, so go in, stood there a little, then started quietly he slipped out, not looking at the up the hill toward The Manor-a slight, stuffed-out dress in the outer room. He stooped figure going through silent looked in at Edna's door, at Walter's streets as if pursued.

maybe one of them was awake. He Josie and Walter and Edna would wanted terribly to speak to some one.

. have done better to have let him alone. But they weren't, and he went very The Manor was a lonely place at day- softly, not to rouse them. Walter, too, break. Things that seemed wrong grew

had made a purchase. It was in an open monstrously wrong because there was drawer. He stood looking at it awhile; nothing to do but think about them then, to stop looking, hurried out of the and no one to speak to of what he house and walked a long way-soft and thought. He would find good food. fast, as if getting away from something. thrown away, and, unable to bear such After a while he found himself on that things, he would go out and walk up street which, as a little boy, he had taken and down the street.

He would look from home to the office where he got his about for some one to talk to. Waking papers. The houses were as still and up before other people do may seem an strange as they used to be. Again those incident-but it leaves one alone in the three blocks did something to him. He world. More and more he came to have made a quick turn toward home, and a need of talking at that hour, as if com Josie. He would talk to her; maybe he panionship might take the place of the could tell her about things. He must fish and let him out from things that try. stalked him before it was really day She stirred as he came in this time, old worries which new conditions were said, “Oh, Amos!" as she saw him in so queerly unable to touch. Not having overcoat and hat. Sleepily she rubbed other people's habits cuts you off from her eyes, then exclaimed, “I think it's the sympathies of the human race. just too bad for you to act like this!"

He did not answer, but stood there a world not quite right. This was a quiet and helpless. She cried:

week of special good fortune for him; “If you're determined not to enjoy the return on a Southwestern investment things yourself, I don't see why you sent him ahead almost fifty thousand want to spoil them for me and the chil- dollars, but this increased fortune had dren!” Then she turned her back and absolutely no reach into the anguish of pulled the covers up around her as if to finding half an uncarved chicken in the say she'd thank him to go away and let garbage-can. her sleep in peace-as a sensible person And the morning after the half a should.

chicken sent him out into the streets, So he went away. He tiptoed into something else sent him there. Going Walter's room and looked again at that through the upper hall, he looked into purchase Walter had made. He stood the sitting-room off Josie's bedroom and looking at it until he heard one of the there he saw another new dress. It sat servants on the stairs. Then he could in an easy-chair as a person might sitmove. Things were never so bad when stuffed out with tissue-paper-another some one else was up.

dress! In a circle which did not bring All through the next week he would him very near he walked round it. It get right out of the house, trying not to was a strange and to him a terrible color see anything, trying especially not to go -that thin, weird gray in which a world in Walter's room. He would find people not quite right waits for day. Slowly to speak to--policemen, early teamsters, his circles came a little closer. Josie had men collecting garbage. He would go

He would go bought this thing—this useless thingup to them in that timidly ingratiating she would have to pay for it. One arm way of one pathetically afraid he will of the dress hung limply and the other noť be well received, wistfully trying to bulged grotesquely. He had to get cover with a casual tone the importance away! As if some one were after him, to him of being received. He would say, he ran soft-footed into Walter's room “Well, this is a fine morning,'


and took what he had tried not to know “There's nothing like being up early, was there. Softly he closed the big front and they would answer, “That's right, door, as so many times he had closed it and when he went on, “The nut.” while others slept. There was one policeman who really He went a little way in the fast, still talked to him, and he could talk more to way he had all his life gone through this policeman than he had ever talked sleeping streets. He was looking for to any one. He told him how he always some one. He wanted that policeman had got up early and now he couldn't whose voice was like taking you in out of quit it. He could laugh with him about the cold. But he couldn't find him. it. He even told how he used to feel as Frantic and bewildered, he walked round a little boy going through the still blocks like a lost child. He forgot about streets, and while he didn't


he still the policeman and just went—he didn't felt that way, telling about it helped the . care where, he didn't know. If he way he felt now. He would walk for stopped . . . Anyway, he went on blocks with this policeman and talk to Dimly he knew there were people about him about the fish business. He was a him now, and then he heard a sound that big, hearty policeman, with a warm voice had sounded through most of his years -a voice not at all like the dawn. the pounding rush of an incoming train.

All this while he had not lost his touch He was meeting it—the four-o'clock with his affairs, or his power to deal with train. He walked to the front, where them. He went on making money. He they took off the fish. He saw the familwas not looked upon as a fool, despite iar crate come through the big door of the fact that

said he the baggage-car. It was put on a truck. “touched.” It was only before it was He stepped up to it. But no-it wasn't really day, when things were still and his any more. He couldn't take it. He thin and very lonely, when they waited, looked around. Who was going to take that old fears cut him loose from present it? He waited. And then he knew that security and left him alone and afraid in it was happening!—the thing he had



[ocr errors][graphic][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

feared all his life would happen. The his funeral. His death might be quaint four-o'clock train was in and there was -but he had such a funeral as Freeno one to meet it and take the fish.

port's leading citizen should have. InHe waited. It was a rainy morning, deed, never did even leading citizen have and warm. The stuff must be got right such a funer al before. The old man lay to fresh ice! He ran to one end of the on a couch of violets—something quite station, to the other. He would run new in Freeport funerals. Josie comback and stand there by the crate-on manded the Aorist to be right at hand one foot, on the other, trying not to cry, and replace withering violets with fresh powerless and watching the thing hap ones. Violets never withered faster. It pen he had shaped his life to keep from is pleasant to think-indeed necessary to happening. He waited as long as he believe that death is unaware. To feel could. And when he couldn't bear it fresh violets being stuck around him another second he pulled out Walter's while old ones were really quite fresh revolver and shot himself.

enough-even the neighbors who had

heard him at daybreak would not wish Yet it is a benign world. Things are him that. The words “Beloved Husso arranged that our deaths precede our band,” which in orchids formed the back funerals. Few of us would like our of the couch, cost just seven times as funerals, and the thought of Amos much as the dress that drove him to Owens enduring his is something not to Walter's room for the revolver. But be dwelt upon-as torture to an animal not even the four-o'clock train disis not to be dwelt upon. The Owens turbed him on his couch of violets. At family tried to make up for the “queer

for the “queer- last “Beloved Husband ” slept through ness of his death by the munificence of dawn.

The End of the Road


ERE it is then, the close of the long way,

The weary way!
Ah, maybe weary now, but once how gay,

The happy way!
How sweet the pleasant path, the feet how light,
And every hour Aed like an angel's flight!
Alas, how dim and dark this last step seems,

And vague as dreams!
Nay, but the sun burns bright, blue the sky beams

With flying gleams,
And every wind is soft as a caress,
And every voice is lifted but to bless!

Ah, that next tread into the deep alone!

Nay, not alone,
For heavenly love is all about thee thrown,

And close thine own!
Yet lead the sinking foot,-the silence sings-
But they that hold thee have such lofty wings!

« 이전계속 »