Image provided by: University of Oregon Libraries; Eugene, OR
About The Albany register. (Albany, Or.) 1868-18?? | View Entire Issue (Jan. 31, 1873)
ALBANY, OREGON, JANUARY 31, 1873.
IAVK OLD FKIKXOS.
Mr. David Dunham came into
the village to hunt up hi kith and
kin. He was Mr. David Dunham
now, with a new suit on anil money
' in his pocket ; whereas the thriftless,
barefoot youth who had tramped
cut of" town bv this road eight years
ago, whistling, and with his hands
in his pockets, had been recognized
a 1 through the -village a " I'ave,"
which cognomen expressed in brief
his social position and advantages.
Yet tiiose who had known the care
free suubur ed lad might have dis.
covered traces of him still in the
frank gray eye and easy bearing of
t! e wronger
7'Ii'h was Main street up which
he was sauntering. It was border
ed as of old by a liem of emerald
grass, nibh ed close by an accasion
al stray cow or wandering goat, it
was sjieckled breezily with sun
shine and shadow from the over
arching trees which sheltered the
comtortabkf well-to-do mansions.
Dave, as I liave said, had disap
peared down that respectable street
years ago, with an old straw hat
ou his head and whistling a s- atch
of a song. He came Track, whist
ling still, with a new hat, and a
few gray hairs streaking the black
locks b.'M'ath it and perhaps that
was all the difference, lie thought
so. How could he be so signally
changed wheti -everything here was
so like that he remembered ?
Beyond this he recollected, was
a trading street, a thrifty avenue,
with shops little and big, where
country wares, plows, brooms,
queen's-ware, ilk dresses, and rib
bons were sold from opposite coun
ters, and trade was varied and
brisk ; there was the old coffin shop,
and the liecr-houH! with tlie over
sowing glass Mt yet empty on the
creaking sign before it. And after
a spell of ljusincss tltc little street
meandered otf in the direction of
the seashore, and forgot its calling,
wandering along the pebbly lieach
in sight of far-off" sails and smoky
distances. Down there under the
cliffs the old scow used to swing in
the shallows the old scow in which
lie used to go paddling about witli
Hannah Hannah who never
shierked work, a id always helped
him to bail out. He wanted to see
her and "the girls," her .prudent
elder sisters who were wont to
anathematize her when she came
home, barefoot and muddy, with
her blue apron full of clams.
David had seen many change,
since he lived up in that old red
farm-house with the old fanner and
his wife, the torment of the girls
and the comrade of Ham ah. He
hiid wintered up in the pine-woods,
far up in the solitudes of Maine,
lloatii.g down with the men ou
rafts when the spring freshets came,
lie knew the sap and freedom of
primitive 1 i and oi.ee he had been
nearly wrecked on the rapids; but
he always reii'emhcred the old wa
t. r-Iogged craft and the little girl I
n the check apron ulack-eved,
pock-marked, and agile who had
l.ldlcd about iu it with him. Did
Mich g'rls ever grow to lie women ?
he wondered. He tried to make a
situation in his mind that suited
Hannah, but she didn't suit the
situation. Impossible to imagine
the quaint, willful little thing settle
down infill tlie ordinary avocations
of women. He must wait wait
till he got to the old tarm-h .use.
j he tide was coming in, and
there was a familiar smell of salt
air a . I shel.tih a I about the
place as he approached.
iiul the old red house was shut
up; no sin. ike issued from theehim
i.ev, no sign of li e was visible in
window or doorway. A lonely ash
tree near the fence turned up its
cha.igcling leaves mockingly as of j
old ; a solitary bird, startled liy hit)
footsteps, winged its way from the
" Thit docs look like change!"
muttered Mr. David to himself,
eyeing the weed-grown garden ling
ering!)'. What spell could have
fa' leu on the old busy lite that kept
the place astir ?
" Must . have moved," he con
cluded, as he went down the hill to
the road Iielow.
At that moment the village
school broke up, and out burst a
oruueopia of youngsters, shout
ing and tlvi' g along the road.
"My lad," said Mr. David,
catching at one of the hindmost as
he scudded past, " can yn tell me
where old Farmer Nichols has
moved to ?''
The boy eyed the stranger with
rustic shyness, wriggling himself
from the detaiuuig hand. It tm
vexatious to be stopped in that way.
VUuess you liavn't been long in
these parts," he said, giving his
hat a knowing thrift ou one side.
" No, not long. Where has the
old man gone ?"
" To the berrin-ground, I reckon,"
said the boy, viciously, unable to
resist tlie jest. " Old Sexton Strains
'ill tell you where," he added, look
ing back as lie sped after his com
rades. Old Sexton Simms had been a
village institution in David's young
days. No change had overtaken
him, it seemed. A thin and wrink
led little man, bloodless as a last
year s mosquito, he pondered the
stranger's face with a wise and side
wise glance, as though studying an
f Shouldn't 'a knowed you no
more'n the dead " hi cried, when
Mr. David mentioned his name;
" though I did think, soon's ever
I tot eyes on ye, you must be. some
one or untlier. The old folk? Oh
yes, the old folks? Oh yes, the
old folks is gone, both on 'em ; died
within six months of each other,
over three year ago come next
spring. 7'hc old place has been in
limbo ever since."
"And the girls?"
" Married and settled leastways
.lane and Betsey. Jane's done
first-rate first-iatc. She's Squire
Johnson's wife, up there iu the big
house yonder. And Betsey, she
always was a sharp one, I thought,
but somehow or another her bus
hand isn't a bit forehanded."
" And Hannah ?" was on 1 )avid's
lips, but au old customer came in
and absorbed the sexton's attention.
David concluded to make his
way to Squire .lohnsoi 's.
At the moment of coming to this
conclusion a few big drops fell omi
nously !rm a hot and thunderous
skv. but the white house was just
iu sight, and he maile a bee-line for
it. I he shower increased toa flood,
but there was no shelter midway,
ai d he hurried on.
At tlie gate of the mansion stood
a gig, from which a stout lady at
that moment descending dubiously,
tucking up her raiment and prcpar.
ing to make a run lor the nouse
She eyort sharply the stranger stand
ing theie under the dripping um
brella. .Mr. David held open the gate
" Jane !" he sail, stepping forward
and offering the shelter of the um
brella. " I've been eight years
com hg, but have just arrived in
time, you see.'
1 a !" said the lady, starting
hack. She still retained the sharp,
incisive voice he remembered, sur-
vivii g over all these years,, though j
me former .ihi was vanished ut-i
terly. crowded out by a matronly j
figure in flowing skirts. j
i avid's brown, bearded 'ace bore -
a Wish smile as he spoke, and ixr-
haps that bellied
She had to accept the umbrella,
and coi se.juenlly the escort; but
she hesitated at the doorway, look- trim, she had been sharp, a model
ed dowu at David's boots, and woman, with a flavor of crab-apple
wiped her on significantly as she about her ; she had grown slip-shod
glanced at the blazii g Brussels that and vinegarish. A devoted mother
ornamented her jai lor. was Mrs. Betsey Jones, as Jane had
Mr. David repeated the process piously intimated, querulously sat
patiently ; she could not help ask- isfied that she, at least, was doing
ing him in. Jane was pious and duty, and looking out rainily on
patronizing a well-to-do woman, the rest of the world, expecting to
David had been a troublesome lad, ' share her burdens,
to he sure ; but then one must let! "I never 'go anywhere, never!"
some things pass. she said, "or I might liave known
I ie staid till the shower was you were iu town. Dear, dear, to
over, and the Squire came in a think how time goes! Jim"- turn
plain litt-e man hi gold sipctaclcs ing to her e'dest, a barefoot, snn
who said, cheerfully, when supper ( burned lad "I thought you were
was announced, , to run errands for your aunt Han-
Torae along in, do, Mr. Dun- iiah this afternoon. It's the only
liam, and take a dish of tea." j thing to keep 'em out of the way,"
The only fault, Jane often de- she added, "and the least Hannah
dared, that she hail to hud with
Johnson was that lie vamH parti
cular in choosing his company.
" And where's. Miss Simmons he
asked as he sipped his tea."
" tione over to Dobson's, and 1
suppose got caught in the shower."
After supper the two men smok -
ed a pipe together and talked of
crops, the weather, and business iu
general. Jane was no fool, as she
often observed. She gathered that
David was part owner in a ship-
yard, and had mult some tidy craft is mortally offended with her."
himself. Another time she would' "Why ?" queried the listener, im
not be so particular about the door patiently.
mat. " Why. sba'a-wug shop down
In the midst of the talk and iu the village."
smoke Miss Simmons came floating "I guess I'll take a turn down
iu, iua flutter of muslin and ribbons, and see her," said Mr. David, ab
breathless, bright ami coquettish, ruptly, as Jim sped out of the door,
" I just ran over between the drops,"
she said, shaking out her curls with
Miss Simmons was a pretty girl
from the city. Slie had wit, she
l ad wealth, it was said, and was
quite a belle. She played, she sang,
she chattel! brightly. She smiled
on Mr. David, and rattled off his
favorite old tunes. It was new to
him to have any one especially for
him, sparkle and warble and plume
themselves for him. M iss Simmons'
clear voice and high-keyed notes,
her tall and graceful figure, her
noiseless, easy movement, charmed
him. " A splendid girl !" he said
to himself; " ami how smooth her
skin is, whereas Hannah " Han
nah was pock-marked.
Hannah! He steadied his voice
and said, " How is Hannah r" as if
the whole party had lieen making
allusion to her.
Sister Jane colored up. " Don't
talk to me about Hannah !" she
And they didn't ta k. At that
moment Miss Simmons btruck up a
brilliant bravura on the piano, and
when it died, like a shower of sky-
rockets, Mr. David Dunham took j
his leave. !
The next day ho hung about the i
village, dropping in upon one or j
another old acquaintance. Finally j
he stumbled into the brimming I
household where Betsey presided, i
Betsey l ad sort ed in life, as the not want to buy any ribbons. He
soxtou said settled like a building , couldn't decorate himself with mil
on ill-made ground. She had been , linery ; but as he looked within
, can do."
"Where is Hannah?" asked Mr.
David at last.
"La! don't yon know? Well, to
be sure"! Why, Hannah was always
1 odd, yon know. Jane offered her
a home, and I'm sure I had no er
! of work tor her ; but she's drcadfu.
ly set, is Hannah, and she's"
! "Married ?"
i "Bless you, no ! Tliere's no
; chance for Hannah now, since she
refused Jasper Hendricks; and Jane
followed by a troop of smaller fry
"Here, you Tim and Joe, come
back !" cried the mother. "Han
nah's 'maziti' particular and techy,
ami don't like to see so many on
'em round barefliot."
However, the troop were oft", and
if Hannah had errands for all those
nimble feet, she must have been a
busy woman. Jim, hitching up his
trowsers and holding on to his sliced
o"a hat, shot dowu the quiet street,
and vanished at the comer where
the old pump stood.
"Jim!"ca led Mr. David, "hold
on a bit, I'm coming, too.
"Hurry up, then," said Jim. "I
have lots to do, said aunt Hannah-"
"Yon like your aunt Hannah, do
"You may bet your life on that,"
answered Jim, scntentiously. "She's
one of the regulars, she is I tell
you !" ami Jim wound up his pleas
ing information with a long, low
whistle of indefinite applause.
Keeping th'i boy in sight, Mr.
David presently came iu front of a
quiet, oozy little shop with a great
tree before it. In the miniature
pjtow-window hung a bright array
of ribbons, over which the swaying
leaves cast flickering shadows, a pot
of gerraniuin with scarlet blossoms
glittered against the snowy curtain
within. A whohwome. well swent.
cherry-looking place. David did
the doorway and saw a quiet, sha
ded sitting room jnst back of the
shop, and a quiet little figure, in a
pink dress and black silk apron,
sewing busily, his heart gave a great
leap. He wanted to kiss that little
woman, who, all unconscious of be
ing seen, threaded her needle and
hummed a blithe song to herself
A beautiful inner picture, as
though he were looking through the
depths of a camera at some chaste
image, ideal, shining, out of his
reach altogether. She seemed to
him a lady in a dream, apart from
the ways of common Kte. Yet ahe
kept the little shop under the tree.
I do not think Mr. David wonld
have had courage to break the spell
that seemed to separate him from
his old friend, hail not Jim, burst
ing in, announced his presence.
A quiet little woman, David had
said ; this did not seem a very qui
escent personage, however, this
flushed and tremulous somebody,
like and yet not like the old Han
nah, who came toward him with
eloquent eyes and hands outstretch
ed, crying, "Dave!" like a uote of.
old pathetic music
Ah, that was a welcome ! At the
moment David thought it cheaply
liought with eight years of ab
sence. Hannah bustled about to get sup
per; she set out her little round tea
table ; she laid the snowy cloth ;
she spread her little store of dain
ties ; she poured ont a fragrant cap
of tea, die hovered about him like
a tl uttering bird, chirping joyonsly.
"A snug little place, Hannah,"
said Mr. David at last, speaking out
of his fullness of coiifeut ; "but your
sisters feel sore about, it ; they don't
like your living liere alone. The
fact is, they think you have lower
ed yourself, and all that. What
put it into your head ?"
"Au angel, perhaps," said Han
nah, solemnly, wiping her glowing,
tearful eyes, as she looked at him.
"David, after father and mother
died, ami I had fW- nwnY my
soul caris them and trudging
about with Botoey's babies, I grew
weniy and sick ! at d there came
to me an inexpressible desire to own
myself. I felt a sort of miserable
pity for myself, just as I would have
felt for any other poor slave with
slavery in prospect for life. I long
ed to keep myself high and pure. I
shuddered at the thought of my
degradation as a dependent drudge
in other people's households."
"And did yon not want to mar
ry?" David did not know what imp
prompted the words which burned
his lips as they dropped from them.
He mended them praiseworthy by
adding, "Jasper Hendricks, for in
But Hannah answered calmly :
"No, David, that would not have
helped me. So 1 took tlie dear lit
tle shop and waited"
"For what?" said David blumV
Hannah blushed, stooping low
over her teacup.
"For customers," she said, as Jim
came blundering in ou one of his
That night Mr. David Dunham
could not sleep. Hannah's face,
her pleasant voice, her sunny little
shop, haunted him. Such a woman
would be like sunrise in a roan's life.
But Hannah did not want to mar
ry; Hannah hugged her independ
ence ; or she was waiting waiting,
as she had said for somebody. Some
how Mr. David did not find his
way to the little shop where Han
nah dwelt iu maidenly serenity
quite as soon as he had anticipated.
He lingered about the village; he
took Miss Simmons out for a drive
now and then; and ono Sunday he
resiiondcd to Mrs. Johnson's piou
interest in him by taking a seat in
her pew. Tt was a hot, sunny day,
C0-Vn.VUEI) OS FIFTU 1'AOK.