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So I felt kind o' stuffy and proud, and took care
To be out o' the way when that feller was there
A danglin' around; for thinks I, if it's him
That Katy likes best, what's the use lookin' grim
At Katy or Jim,—for it's all up with me;
And I'd better jest let 'em alone, do you see?
But you wouldn't have thought it; that girl never keered
The snap of a pea-pod for Jim's bushy beard.
Well, here's how it was. I was takin' some berries
Across near her garden, to leave at Aunt Mary's;
When, jest as I come to the old ellum-tree,
All alone in the shade, that June mornin', was she—
Shellin' peas—setting there on a garden settee.
I swan, she was handsomer'n ever I seen,
Like a rose all alone in a moss-work o' green.
Well, there wasn't no use; so, says I, I'll jest linger
And gaze at her here, hid behind a syringa;
But she heard me a movin', and looked a bit frightened,
So I come and stood near her. I fancied she brightened.
And seemed sort o' pleased. So I hoped she was well;
And—would she allow me to help her to shell?
For she sot with a monstrous big dish full of peas
Jest fresh from the vines, which she held on ner knees.
"May I help you, Miss Katy?" says I. "As you please,
Mr. Baxter, says she. "But you're busy, I guess "—
Glancin'down at my berries, and then at her dress.
"Not the least. There's no hurry. It ain't very late;
And I'd rather be here, and Aunt Mary can wait."
So I sot down beside her; an' as nobody seen us,
I jest took the dish, and I held it between us;
And I thought to myself I must make an endeavor
To know which she likes, Jim or me, now or never!
But I couldn't say nothin'. We sot there and held
That green pile between us. She shelled, and I shelled,
And pop went the pods; and I couldn't help thinkin'
Of popping the question. A kind of a sinkm'
Come over my spirits; till at last I got out,
"Mister Wray's an admirer of yours, I've no doubt
You see him quite often." "Well, sometimes. But why,
And what if I did?" "Oh, well, nothin'," says I;
"Some folks says you're goin' to marry him, though."
"Who says so?" says she; and she flared up like tow
When you throw in a match. "Well, some folks that I know.'
"Taint true, sir," says she. And she snapped a big pod,
Till the peas, right and left, flew all over the sod.
Then I looked in her eyes, but she only looked down
With a blush that she tried to chase on" with a frown.
"Then it's somebody else you like better," says I.
"No, it ain't though," says she: and I thought she would cry. Then I tried to say somethin': it stuck in my throat,
And all iny ideas were upset and afloat.
But I said I knew somebody'd loved her so long—
Though he never had told her—with feelin's so strong
He was ready to die at her feet , if she chosed,
If she only could love him !—I hardly supposed
That she eared for him much, though. And so, Tom,—and so,—
For I thought that I saw how the matter would go,—
With my heart all a jumpin' with rapture, I found
I had taken her hand, and my arm was around
Her waist ere I knew it, and she with her head
On my shoulder,—but no, I won't tell what she said.
The birds sang above us; our secret was theirs;
The leaves whispered soft in the wandering airs.
I tell you the world was a new world to me.
I can talk of these things like a book now, you see.
But the peas? Ah, the peas in the pods were a mess
Rather bigger than those that we shelled, you may guess.
It's risky to set with a girl shellin' peas.
You may tease me now, Tom, just as much as you please.
THE OLD PROFESSOR.
The old professor taught no more,
But lingered round the college walks.
Before the tire in evening talks.
To recitation, one March night,
"And let me hear these boys recite."
As we passed out we heard him say,
"Pray, leave me here awhile alone,
Just as I did in years long flown."
Rose courteous from his high-backed chair,
Leaving the old professor there.
From out the shadows faces seemed
To look on him in his old place,
Radiance of boyish hope and graco:
And faces that had lost their youth,
And faces o'er whose love and truth
"These are my boys," he murmured then;
"My boys, as in the years long past;
Still as my boys I hold them fast.
That one of me is making fun,
I see and love them every one.
"And is it, then, so long ago
This chapter in my life was told?
And have I reallv grown so old?
My book once more is in my hand.
And seek their hearts to understand."
They found him there, with open book,
And eyes closed with a calm content;
There used to be when fellows went
When recitations were all o'er;
And in his former place no more.
KENTUCKY BELLE—Constance F. Woolson.
Summer of 'sixty-three, sir, and Conrad was gone awaj—
Conrad, he took the oxen, but he left Kentucky Belle.
When I rode North with Conrad, away from the Tennessee. Conrad lived in Ohio—a German he is, you know— The house stood in hroad corn-fields, stretching on, row after row.
The old folks made me welcome; they were kind as kind could be;
But I kept longing, longing, for the hills of the Tennessee.
Oh! for a sight of water, the shadowed slope of a hill!
From east to west, no river to shine out under the moon,
When I fell sick with pining, we didn't wait any more,
I was at work that morning. Some one came riding like mad
"I'm sent to warn the neighbors. He isn't a mile behind; He sweeps up all the horses—every horse that he can find. Morgan, Morgan the raider, and Morgan's terrible men, With bowie-knives and pistols, are galloping up the gleu!"
The lad rode down the valley, and I stood still at the door; The baby laughed and prattled, playing with spools on the floor;
Kentuck was out in the pasture; Conrad, my man was gone. Near, nearer, Morgan's men were galloping, galloping on!
Sudden I picked up baby, and ran to the pasture-bar. "Kentuck!" I called—" Kentucky!" She knew me ever so far!
I led her down the gully that turns off there to the right, And tied her to the bushes; her head was just out of sight.
As I ran back to the log house, at once there came a sound— The ring of hoofs, galloping hoofs, trembling over the ground—
Commg into the turnpike out from the White-Woman Glen— Morgan, Morgan the raider, and Morgan's terrible men.
As near they drew and nearer, my heart beat fast in alarm; But still I stood in the door-way with baby on my arm. They came; they passed; with spur and whip in haste they sped along—
Morgan, Morgan the raider, and his baud, six hundred strong.
Weary they looked and jaded, riding through night and
through day; Pushing on East to the river, many long miles away, To the border-strip where Virginia runs up into the West, And fording the Upper Ohio before they could stop to rest.
On like the wind they hurried, and Morgan rode in advance; Bright were his eyes like live coals, as he gave me a sideways glance;
And I was just breathing freely, after my choking pain, When the last one of the troopers suddenly drew his rein.
Frightened I was to death, sir; I scarce dared look in his face, As he asked for a drink of water, and glanced around the place.
I gave him a cup, and he smiled—'twas only a boy, you see;
Only sixteen he was, sir—a fond mother's only son—
And I thought me of the mother waiting down in the South.
Oh! pluck was he to the backbone, and clear grit through and through;
Boasted and bragged like a trooper; but the big words
wouldn't do ;— The boy was dying, sir, dying, as plain as plain could be, Worn out by his ride with Morgan up from the Tennessee.
But when I told the laddie that I too was from the South, Water came in his dim eyes, and quivers around his mouth. "Do yon know the Blue-Grass country?" he wistful began to say;
Then swayed like a willow-sapling, and fainted dead away.
I had him into the log house, and worked and brought him to;
I fed him, and I coaxed him, as I thought his mother'd do; And when the lad got better, and the noise in his head was
Morgan's men were miles away, galloping, galloping on.