The illustrated west shore. (Portland, Or.) 1891-1891, April 04, 1891, Page 230, Image 16

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Joe Patterson rose very early on a certain January morning, " roared up
the fire "as he called it drew a pail of water, filled the tea kettle, and then
went out to the barn. He worked briskly despite the cold, for he was a man
of business today. His father had been ailing for some time, but had hitherto
rode to (own and consulted a doctor in person. Now, however, he was too
ill, and, after some persuasion on . the boy's part, he had consented to let
twelve-year-old Joe undertake the fourteen mile trip across the bleak plains
" I know the way perfectly well, pa i haven't I been there dozens of
times with you ? " the lad had urged, and finally his mother had said that she
could see no other way. Medicine and groceries they must have.
" I tell you, Diamond, you and I have business on hand today," Joe
said to the handsome iron-gray he waJ grooming. " Oh, yes, you think we
are good for it, and so we are,
old fellow."
The sun was barely risen
when Diamond and his young
master passed out of the yard,
the latter smiling back at his
mother as she stood on the
steps, repeating her injunctions
to " hurry around and get home
for fear of storm or something."
It was a fine morning and
Diamond, who had been com
paratively idle for many days,
made little of the fourteen
If the doctor had been at
home this story might never
have been written) but history
would be quite another thing
but for the " ifs,"
" I am looking for him
now, every minute," the doctor's
wife said, and so Joe made his
grocery purchases and then in
vested in a few luxuries for his
father. These last were to be
a surprise and were purchased
with some of his own money,
famed the summer before.
Again and again he sought
the doctor's office before that
gentleman appeared, and by the
time the medicine was ready it
was almost two o'clock, and
there had come over the face
of nature one of the changes
familiar to residents of Eastern
" Looks some like storm,
my lad i better let horse of
yours out all you can and
still control him," the physician
said, looking from the fast
clouding sky to the handsome iron-gray.
" We can make it in little over an hour, 1 reckon," Joe answrrrd, pitting
Diamond's neck, and away they went.
The wind was rising ami came in angry little puffs now, and the sun was
nowhere to be seen. A good many people noticed a small boy, with a flour
sack neatly filled with packages in front of him, on fine gray horse, heading
east as the storm came on, but they were busy with their own affairs and
would never have recalled the circumstance again but for after events.
Mrs. Patterson watched the clink and the sky all that forenoon, a strange
apprehension tugging at her heart strings i but she smiled and talked cheer
fully in her husband's presence. Probably her eye was the first in all the
track of the threatening storm to notice its approach, but she drew the cur
tains the sick man might not see. One o'clock, the sky was darkening (
two, the wind was rising, and poor Mr. Patterson anxiously pacing the floor,
too nervous to sit ur lie down. Vain his wife sought to comfort and reassure
him, her own heart was too heavy. Three o'clock, and the storm was on in
it, fnrv Not a foot before one's face could they see, and as the distracted
mother opened the door, in the hope of hearing or seeing something of her
boy, the sharp particles cut her face like stinging knife blades. The father,
now' completely exhausted, lay white and quivering on the lounge, while the
younger children huddled in terror by his side.
" May be he has got to the barn and can't find his way to the house,"
Mrs. Patterson suggested at last ; and taking down a large coil of clothes line
she tied one end to the door knob and gradually unwound the rest as she
attempted to find the barn, but when a few feet from the house she saw that
she must return or perish. A moment she paused when once more on the
steps, straining eye and ear. Then there came to her that supreme moment
of agony that every soul knows when it gives ,up an idol. She still had much
to suffer, but that crisis had not to be passed through again. It is a something
to the soul like the sensation to the body when a stinging blade enters the
flesh j after that there is only
f .
i E
f , - -
J '"Vl
III 111 Ill 1 II II i i
dull pain and torturing soreness.
Another hour passed over the
stricken household, the demon
of the tempest shrieking with
out and the demon of despair
"Hark!" The mother
was on her feet in an instant,
straining every sense. There
it was again a faint sound, the
' low neigh of a spent horse.
Mr. Patterson roused from a
state closely akin to a swoon
and listened, too. -
" Tis Diamond 1 Praise
Cod 1 " and the poor mother
once more caught hold ot the
clothes line and braved the
tempest. Presently, in response
to her gasping calls, the neigh
ing drew nearer, and Diamond
staggered to her side riderless.
With a great cry she grasped
the animal's mane and kept
herself from falling.
"Where is Joe? Oh, Dia
mond, where is my boy?"
Rut the noble beast could only
lay his tired head on her shoul
der, as if to say, " I'd tell if I
could talk."
" Oh, God!, if only he
could speak!" and then she
led the exhausted beast straight
into the spotless kitchen.
And that was all the
father said as he sank on the
couch and hid his face in the
The bag with its freight of
groceries, "luxuries" and med
icine was safe, just as boyish hands had securely strapped it there with their
owner's suspenders.
It was not till weeks after that the hemic boy's body was found wrapped
in its ermine winding sheet. Perhaps half a mile farther on the remains of an
aged woman was discovered, holding a dead child in her arms. How Joe
came to fall from the horse could only be answered by the theory of his
having become benumbed i but in time a man living some miles west of town
testified to having met, in the midst of the tempest, a horse with what he took
to be an aged woman on his back, while hanging to the halter strap was a
boy plodding and stumbling along. The heroic boy had given his life in the
vain attempt to succor an infirm stranger and her helpless charge i but his
first care had been to secure the things for the dear ones at home by tying
them to the saddle with his suspenders.
All hews are not proven in the same way any more than all gold is tried
n the Mine furnace. VKI.M.v CALDWELL MelviLUS.